News Briefs

April 12, 2012

The Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) has been approved for full production and fielding. The MIDS JTRS is a software-based terminal that provides interoperable and secure tactical datalinks and programmable networking capabilities. Two vendors produce the system for both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. MIDS is the first member of the JTRS radio family to be approved for full production. The MIDS JTRS will soon attain initial operation capability on the Super Hornet, JSTARS and Rivet Joint platforms.

March 28, 2012

The next generation of the Software Communications Architecture (SCA 4.0) has been approved for use. The SCA 4.0 includes technology that tailors the operating system size for a radio and its mission. By adopting the SCA 4.0, memory and processing overhead are reduced significantly; architectural enhancements improve security by enabling faster boot-up times and reconfiguration of the radio. The latest version also enables radio frequencies to be reprogrammed and permits a waveform written for one radio to be ported to another radio with interoperability ensured.

March 22, 2012

The U.S. State Department hosted TechCamp Bangkok in the city of the same name on March 20 and 21. More than 60 civil society leaders from throughout Thailand came together for hands-on training in areas such as social media, online organization, digital safety and mobile applications. This event was the sixth TechCamp, a program that supports Civil Society 2.0, which is designed to build the digital literacy of civil societies worldwide.

March 13, 2012

If your job depends on staying up-to-date on the latest from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), there's a mobile app for your iPhone or iPad. The free app, available through the iTunes store, provides access to new reports, testimony, video and podcasts. GAO representatives say the agency plans to release a similar app for Android smartphones and tablets in the next several months.

February 27, 2012

Teaming with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, the APIC Corporation recently announced a scientific breakthrough that could lead to computer chips powered by light pulses rather than electronics. Photonic chips could offer greater performance at a small percentage of today's power usage. The team made germanium act as a laser, which means it could be used as the light source on a new generation of photon-powered computers. Photons use a fraction of the power currently needed and do not generate heat as electronic power, eliminating the current need to cool computers and data centers.

February 21, 2012

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is looking for the next members of its National Advisory Council (NAC). The NAC provides external guidance on issues ranging from terrorist response to federal preparedness. The agency is seeking applications and nominations from qualified individuals in both the public and private sectors in emergency management, emergency response and cybersecurity. In addition, FEMA is seeking applications from state and local elected officials. Deadline for applications is Friday, March 9, 2012. More information is available online.

February 6, 2012

Got a good idea for a small satellite? NASA has issued a broad agency announcement seeking low-cost flight demonstration proposals for small satellites, which generally weigh less than 400 pounds and are usually launched as secondary payloads. The NASA Edison SmallSat Demonstration Program says this solicitation will focus on the communications capabilities of these small spacecraft. Executive summaries of these proposals are due no later than March 4, 2012. For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/oct.

February 7, 2012

The British Ministry of Defence recently announced plans to develop a Royal Navy missile defense system, known as Sea Ceptor, capable of intercepting and destroying enemy missiles traveling at supersonic speeds. The £483 million ($761.3 million) contract to develop the system will be awarded to a U.K. company. Sea Ceptor will use a U.K.-developed missile that can reach speeds of up to Mach 3 and will deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of approximately 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) over land or sea. It will be developed under a demonstration contract expected to continue for five years.

February 2, 2012
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Defense Department has awarded $18 million to six programs to reduce the energy demand of future expeditionary outposts. The assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs will administer the funds, which are granted programs aimed at developing and rapidly transitioning energy technologies for the combat force. Defense Department-led teams representing the military services and the Department of Energy will receive the money but are seeking support and innovation from small businesses.

January 31, 2012

Elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan are now using the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Rifleman Radio combined with the GD300 wearable computer. The radio enables intrasquad communications, and the GD300's Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR) tactical app allows soldiers to share text messages, situation reports and other information.

January 20, 2012

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training Participant Manual now is available in Braille and PDF screen reader versions. They contain the same nine units of the course and 13 hazard annexes as the other versions. The screen-reader format can be accessed online.

January 23, 2012

The U.S. Army is planning to test a new long-endurance multi-intelligence unmanned vehicle in Afghanistan this summer. Developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation, the aircraft resembles a small blimp. It is designed to carry multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads for more than 21 days at altitudes of more than 22,000 feet. Other vertical take-off and landing vehicles the Army is exploring include the Boeing A160 Hummingbird. The study of innovative unmanned aerial systems (UASs) is being financed by overseas contingency operations funds.

January 12, 2012

A computer scientist at Sandia National Laboratories has developed and deployed DNSViz, a visualization tool to help government and global network administrators better understand Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC) and troubleshoot problems. DNSSEC is mandated for all federal information systems. The tool offers a single graphical representation of the components that work together to enable DNSSEC to function properly. DNSViz actively analyzes domain name by performing pertinent DNS lookups. The tool is running on Sandia servers monitoring a list of 100,00 names and performing an analysis twice a day.

January 11, 2012

The Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Content Delivery Service (GCDS) has introduced a cost structure for fiscal year 2012 that features a one-time fee with no recurring monthly costs. Using the GCDS saves costs, improves efficiency and offers sustainability. Rather than building and maintaining a distributed infrastructure of their own, users can take advantage of this fully operational, distributed and scalable service to lower overall operating costs and improve end-user performance. The agency recently redesigned a website that enhances GCDS solutions browsing, features a high-level description of each solution and includes simplified cost structure information.

December 22, 2011

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have called upon industry to develop a low-cost and secure communications, network management and situational awareness system for the U.S. military, public safety agencies and commercial clients. The solution must enable remote and secure mission-based communications with or without cloud connectivity. The goal is to design a technology with both military and security applications that offers real-time information regardless of the infrastructure and equipment first responders or military members use.

December 21, 2011

Smartphones can now communicate on 90 percent of the Earth not covered by traditional wireless networks. The Iridium AxcessPoint Mail and Web App provides email and Internet connections and features a built-in firewall to block extraneous Internet traffic. Data speeds are up to five times faster for Web browsing and 15 times faster for email. In September 2011, Iridium Communications Incorporated launched its AxcessPoint Wi-Fi hotspot accessory, a portable modem that connects devices to Iridium using an Iridium Extreme or Iridium 9555 satellite phone. Users must own either of these and a purchase a subscription to use the free AxcessPoint Mail and Web App, which is available at the iTunes App Store.

December 14, 2011

Citing cost and migration to U.S. Defense Department enterprise capabilities, the U.S. Air Force will discontinue its Instant Messenger, or AFIM, and Friends and Family Instant Messenger (FFIM) on December 31, 2011. The collaborative tools were made available through the service's portal at a cost of approximately $228,000 annually. Waning interest in the services and the availability of other social networking options-illustrated by a decrease of 71 percent in page views and 80 percent in weekly visitors to the FFIM-led the Air Force to its decision. The capability will now be available through the Defense Connect Online (DCO) chat function called Jabber.

December 7, 2011

Students age 14 to 18 can compete to have astronauts in space carry out their experiments if they win the Space Lab challenge. Budding scientists must upload a video outlining their idea, but they don't have to carry out the experiments themselves. A public vote and international panel of experts will judge the finalists from each age group (14 to 16, and 17 to 18) and each region-the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. The two global winning experiments will be performed on the International Space Station and beamed live via YouTube. The winners also receive additional prizes.

November 14, 2011

The Pentagon's TRICARE office is offering assistance to nearly 5 million people who may have been affected by a recent data breach contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) reported. Officials say the breach came to light in Texas in mid-September and involves patients treated at military hospitals and clinics during the past 20 years. The data, stored on magnetic tapes stolen from a car, includes names, Social Security numbers, addresses and telephone numbers, along with clinic notes, lab tests and prescription information.

November 1, 2011

A new strategy for certifying commercial launch vehicles aims to expand the number of companies qualified for space launch missions. The entrant launch vehicle certification strategy is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. The three agencies outlined the joint strategy for certifying new entrants to encourage competition and provide a level playing field for all competitors.

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