The People's Republic of China is grappling with an inherent conflict of relying on imported avionics technology while pressing to develop a state-of-the-art domestic manufacturing base. The country continues its long-term commitment to advanced avionics research and development both for internal use and for export, and foreign technology is one source feeding that endeavor.
Highly refined signal filters will open new vistas in applications ranging from complex intelligence gathering to cellular telephony. The advances emerge from high-temperature superconducting materials incorporated into semiconductor chips. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have moved some aspects of this technology to the private sector for production and commercialization.
Professors and students at the Center for Research in Electronic Commerce at the University of Texas at Austin are helping government and industry understand how business practices should adapt to the electronic age. By exploring the dynamics of the digital marketplace, center participants are gathering and providing knowledge about one of the world's most rapidly growing business arenas. Their goal is to determine where the world of electronic commerce is headed and how best to arrive there.
The introduction of the euro is expected to give a significant boost to the already healthy expansion of electronic commerce throughout Europe. The priorities of governments and regulatory bodies on the continent, however, will continue to be concentrated on eliminating obstructions to emerging opportunities and establishing a predictable legal framework that will apply to all members of the European Union.
Technology advances have transformed a longstanding U.S. Army radio system into a new device that barely resembles its progenitor. Features such as position location and tactical internet access promise to change the way Army forces operate on the battlefield, and other improvements in the pipeline may change the nature of the communication system.
Touch-screen technologies based on surface waves and improved resistive screen systems promise to increase touch-display durability, making these devices more useful for both military and general public applications. Although several current offerings provide users with the convenience of entering mouse-free computer commands, many have drawbacks that have limited their consistent, effective use. Two new approaches address these problems, offering additional options to current users and opening up potential applications in a variety of markets.
Maintaining air supremacy soon may be easier for U.S. fighter pilots equipped with the latest helmet technology. Head-tracking display screens are being designed to allow target designation with little more than a pilot's nod. The introduction at the end of the 1980s of the Soviet AA-11 Archer air-to-air missile revealed a serious deficiency in U.S. capabilities. That deficiency took on increasingly ominous significance as Russian-built aircraft and air-launched weapons, integrated with helmet-mounted sights and capable of being launched at up to 90 degrees off boresight of a target, proliferated widely to governments hostile to the United States. The problem is now being addressed in a joint U.S. Navy-U.S. Air Force effort, which combines the AIM-9X missile, an advanced short-range dogfight weapon with a targeting device that can aim sensors and weapons wherever a pilot looks.
Two new types of flat screen displays are now being used in rugged military and commercial applications. The first type, which was designed for use on U.S. Army field generators, is an intelligent display screen that employs an innovative "transflective" design. This allows information to be easily read in both bright sunlight and darkness while requiring unusually low power inputs to operate.
New very high frequency radios are sharing the airwaves with sensor systems in battlefield networking. Both communications and radar units have become portable enough that they now are mobile nodes in an interlocking information web.
A simulation tool that creates a virtual satellite allows ground personnel to rehearse satellite communications and operations disciplines without tying up valuable orbiters. The new system enables warfighters to train on, assess and certify orbital communications links without interrupting ongoing satellite operations.