Marines Receive New Tactical Network
U.S. Marine Corps units soon will be equipped with a tactical networking system providing secure, networked voice, data, video conferencing and other communications capabilities. Designed to support commander, joint and coalition forces, the Tactical Data Network (TDN)-Data Distribution System–Modular (TDN-DDS-M) is a modular, scalable Internet protocol communications and networking system.
The TDN-DDS-M is smaller, lighter and consumes less power than earlier systems. It is based on commercial equipment and consists of routers, switches, computers, power supplies and other equipment. The system allows warfighters to access the Defense Information System Network, secret Internet protocol router network, nonsecure Internet protocol router network, and coalition and joint forces networks.
The system is manufactured by General Dynamics C4 Systems (www.gdc4s.com) and is an upgraded version of the Tactical Data Network–Data Distribution System-Replacement. Initial deliveries of the TDN-DDS-M are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2008.
Touchscreens for Troops
Warfighters on the battlefield soon will enjoy the ease of use that touchscreen computer display technology affords. A U.S. firm and a Korean firm are joining forces to manufacture and supply the U.S. Defense Department with proprietary military-grade touchscreen systems that are designed and tailored for use in harsh environments, including extreme temperatures, barometric pressure and humidity.
To create and sell the ruggedized touchscreens to the Defense Department, Woori Technology Incorporated, Seoul, South Korea, entered into an assignment and assumption agreement with MSGI Security Solutions Incorporated, New York (www.msgisecurity.com). MSGI is purchasing components for the technology from Woori, and the two plan to open a new service facility in northern California where assembly, quality testing and systems integration will take place. The companies are scheduled to complete manufacturing of the touchscreen systems for delivery to the Defense Department later this year.
Army Anti-Artillery Solution
Future warfighters may have more options than ducking for cover from incoming artillery. The U.S. Army has awarded the Lockheed Martin Company (www.lmco.com) a contract to demonstrate a prototype counter-rockets, -artillery and -mortar (C-RAM) interceptor system.
The contract is part of an Army effort to develop and demonstrate counter-fire technologies to bridge the gap between current C-RAM capabilities and the service’s vision of an extended area air defense system, which also addresses short-range defense against artillery. In the development phase of the effort, known as the Extended Area Protection and Survivability program, work will focus on creating and leveraging technologies to provide mobile, hemispherical extended area protection from RAM threats.
Lockheed Martin’s concept consists of a compact, vertically launched missile, fire control sensor, launcher and battle manager. The system also will interface with the latest battlefield surveillance systems. The contract calls for the design, fabrication, integration and test of the prototype hardware and is structured as a base award to be followed by four options aligned to the program’s five phases.
Zeroing in on Owning the Night
The U.S. Army is testing a new series of compact, lightweight laser aiming and illumination devices that can be carried on a soldier’s weapon. The sight systems could be used to illuminate areas for tactical purposes or to enhance night-vision devices.
Testing of the devices currently underway at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, will ensure that the devices’ design meets Army standards and will provide the service with an evaluation of the capabilities. Working closely with various test groups, including those from environment effects, electromagnetic effects and the White Sands Survivability/Vulnerability Analysis Directorate, engineers can determine the conditions and situations under which the devices can operate. Data collected during the tests will be used to improve features and correct problems.
“You know the phrase, ‘We own the night?’ Well, that starts here,” says Mike Williams, engineering technician with the Army’s Unmanned Vehicle/Soldier Branch of the White Sands Material Test Directorate’s Future Force division, the branch developing the technology.
Research and Development
Funding Defense Engineering Research
The U.S. Defense Department is laying out funds for advanced science and engineering research programs to push development in areas such as nanotechnology and computer networking. The government awarded $15.7 million to 24 academic institutions in 18 states as part of the 2008 Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR).
The U.S. Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research have solicited proposals via a Defense Department-wide broad agency announcement. This notice was published on the Internet and accessed by DEPSCoR’s state committees, which solicited and selected projects for each state’s proposal.
Among the projects selected by DEPSCoR are efforts such as materials research for transparent armor by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, detecting insider threats by the University of Arkansas, and efficient visible laser countermeasures technology by Montana State University.
Faster Speeds for Data Transfer
Engineers have set a record for data transfer rates over satellites. Using a satellite terminal from the existing satellite communications fleet coupled with an advanced experimental modem, they reached data rates of 440 megabits per second.
Personnel from the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center and L3-Com West performed the feat during a capacity test with Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) 1. Experts involved with the program say the satellite can support even higher data transfer rates than current ground technologies allow.
The next step in the process is to improve the ground test element enough to exceed WGS capability. The aim is to characterize breaking points better in the data throughput arena.
DHS Cybersecurity Exercise
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a large cybersecurity exercise that simulated a coordinated cyberattack on information technology, communications, chemical and transportation systems and assets. Described by department officials as the largest such exercise ever organized, Cyber Storm II encompassed 18 federal departments and agencies, nine states, five countries and more than 40 private companies.
Specific objectives included examining the capabilities of participating organizations to prepare for, protect against and respond to the potential effects of cyberattacks; exercising strategic decision making and interagency coordination of incident response in accordance with national-level policy and procedures; validating information-sharing relationships and communications paths for the collection and dissemination of cyberincident situational awareness, response and recovery information; and examining means and processes for sharing sensitive information across boundaries and sectors without compromising proprietary or national security interests.
Cyber Storm II is the second of a series of congressionally mandated exercises to examine U.S. cybersecurity preparedness and response capabilities.
Space Telescope Shielding
The preliminary design of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope sunshield has reached a major milestone. The five-layer shield is the size of a tennis court and is composed of specially coated reflective membranes and a support structure. It is designed to block solar heat to keep the telescope’s instruments operating at cryogenic temperatures.
The Webb telescope will feature a mirror that is 21.3 feet in diameter. Because of the large size of the mirror and sunshield, the telescope will be folded to fit into a rocket and will be opened once in space. The telescope will reside in an orbit that is approximately 1 million miles from the Earth and used to explore distant galaxies as well as nearby planets and stars at the near- and mid-infrared wavelengths.
With the preliminary design review of the sunshield now complete, the work on the detailed engineering design of the instrument will now progress toward the scheduled launch in 2013. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s space technology sector (www.st.northropgrumman.com/index.html), prime contractor for the telescope, built the sunshield under a design and development contract from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.