News Briefs

April 6, 2009

U.S. Army attack helicopters operating in Southwest Asia now can receive video and data from unmanned aerial platforms, enhancing situational awareness and reducing sensor-to-shooter times. The Video from Unmanned Aerial Systems for Interoperability Teaming-Level 2 (VUITTM-2) capability provides the crews of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters with real-time streaming video and metadata shown on multipurpose displays. The VUITTM-2 can transmit both Apache and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) video via a mini-tactical common datalink to troops equipped with One System Remote Video Terminals. Army officials explain that the capability enables Apache aircrews to stream imagery to ground units such as Stryker vehicles on combat patrols.

April 3, 2009

The French navy and air force are adding new encryption technology to their identification friend-or-foe (IFF) systems to reduce the chance of enemy interception and analysis. The new encryption is being applied to more than 1,000 IFF systems equipping the two services. The equipment will help ensure that links between aircraft transponders and ground-based interrogators are not read or corrupted by new interception technologies now appearing in the battlespace. The existing IFF systems receiving the encryption upgrades will be able to respond quickly and reliably in an electronic warfighting environment, company officials say.

April 4, 2009

A U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is part of the joint mission of the U.S. Air Force 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. The new role marks the first operational mission for the BAMS UAS-a maritime derivative of the RQ-4 Global Hawk-although the aircraft has been used in noncombat roles. BAMS' arrival in Southwest Asia is the culmination of more than five months of a joint effort to stand up a maritime surveillance presence in the region. The move came when Navy officials responded to a Defense Department request for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the area.

December 4, 2008
By H. Mosher

Single-frequency amplifiers are being developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) new Revolution in Fiber Lasers program. The program is designing building blocks to combine laser beams that can be scaled to a weapons-class power level while maintaining good beam quality.

Fiber lasers are 1.5 to 2 times more efficient than solid-state lasers. Today, single-frequency fiber lasers and amplifiers are limited to several hundred watts because of stimulated Brillouin scattering. The scattering reflects power backward and damages low-power components. A Northrop Grumman-led team, which received a $4.5 million contract to work on the project, plans to use proprietary methods to eliminate the scattering.

November 21, 2008
By H. Mosher

The Raven unmanned aerial system (UAS) will be upgraded with a new digital datalink that will quadruple the number of available video channels and improve video quality, relay capability and encryption. The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center developed the datalink, which has been transitioned to the production line. Until this time, the Raven has used an analog downlink to share video and telemetry information. However, video data that cannot be compressed prior to transmission consumes large amounts of bandwidth, and when the signal weakens, the full-motion video feed degrades. Switching to digital addresses these issues.

November 19, 2008
By H. Mosher

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard First District command center participated in an experiment simulating a scenario that examined decisions and actions to locate a vessel of interest and prevent a potential terrorist incursion. The Coast Guard worked with Raytheon Company on the experiment and used the company's Mission Profiling process to study the potential for theoretical decision support tools and concepts of operations to improve a Coast Guard district command center's maritime security mission. Several tools and concepts demonstrated potential for further investigation.

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have signed a memorandum of agreement that will leverage development, production, sustainment and upgrade efforts for the RQ-4-based programs under each of the services. The agreement enables the services to continue to pursue common objectives across the RQ-4 enterprise while retaining each service's specific mission and operational requirements. Military officials believe the agreement will promote cost savings and eliminate redundancies. The new memorandum will allow the Navy and Air Force to share data that will help ensure program effectiveness and help contractors increase quality and improve on-time delivery, they say.

October 30, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army has begun its first large-scale deployment of a warfighter-wearable gunshot and sniper detection solution. The Army's Rapid Equipping Force will begin distributingSoldier-Wearable Acoustic Targeting Systems (SWATS) to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq later this year; the distribution is expected to be complete by early next year. Part of the Ears Gunshot Localization System family of products, SWATS includes next-generation sensors and is ruggedized so that it can be used in current operations.

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems' (FCS's) Active Protection System (APS) has successfully passed stationary and moving target tests. The APS is designed to protect the FCS family of future manned vehicles from a variety of anti-tank and artillery projectiles. The APS is a vehicle-mounted system that defeats incoming threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles by physically destroying or deflecting them in flight. The APS launches vertically and then maneuvers to defeat single or multiple projectiles coming in from any direction.

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The Malicious Code Research Center, Finjan Incorporated, has discovered examples of obfuscated code embedded not only in hypertext markup language Web pages on legitimate Web sites but also in rich-content files. According to a recently released Finjan report, popularity is increasing for online advertisements as well as user-generated content on Web 2.0 Web sites in directing users to malware-infected content files. Code obfuscation remains the preferred cybercriminal technique for their attacks, the report states.

October 17, 2008
By H. Mosher

U.S. Army soldiers soon will be equipped with an enhanced night vision system that will increase their situational awareness in combat. Developed by BAE Systems through the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier Enhanced Night Vision Goggle advanced technology development program, the digitally fused enhanced night vision goggle, ENVG (D), allows soldiers to view imagery that exploits features from visible, low-light and infrared sensors. The prototype system features a monocular eyepiece that provides several modes of fusion for varied mission needs, such as visible-only imagery, infrared-only images, monochrome fusion or colorized fusion with a user-selectable color palette.

October 17, 2008
By H. Mosher

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have discovered a light-emitting compound that may assist optical communications as well as eventually help identify biological and chemical weapons at long distances. The compound structure almost went unnoticed because it grows lengthwise, creating long, thin crystals that are well suited for fiber optics but difficult for researchers to study. Scientists were able to determine the structure using the Chemistry and Materials beamline of the Center for Advanced Radiation Sources at the Advanced Photon Source.

October 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

A team of researchers and engineers has won the U.S. Defense Department's $1 million Wearable Power Prize competition. The DuPont/Smart Fuel Cell team beat out six other teams by building a lightweight wearable system providing an average of 20 watts of power for more than 96 hours and weighing less than 8.8 pounds. All of the finalists used either fuel-cell or battery technologies or a combination of the two to meet the Defense Department's exacting standards. The goal of the effort is to develop a long-endurance, lightweight power pack for soldiers in the field.

October 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

The Defense Technical Information Center and the Director of Defense Research and Engineering have launched a U.S. Defense Department science and technology wiki. DoDTechipedia, an online encyclopedia, aims at promoting transparency and communication among the department's scientists, engineers, program managers and warfighters. In addition, the department believes it will enhance its ability to collaborate across the enterprise, identify solutions for technology challenges and ensure the efficient use of resources.

October 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

Interest is high in the area of blue force tracking capabilities for the battlespace, but the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) also is interested in people-tracking of another kind, the kind that can help the command ensure that it is doing its job as primary conventional force provider. JFCOM is soliciting industry and academia input on existing technologies to improve the process of tracking the forces it provides to worldwide operations.

October 16, 2008
By H. Mosher

The National Science Foundation is funding SRI International and the University of Michigan to use CubeSats in a program called CubeSat-based Ground-to-Space Bistatic Radar Experiment-Radio Aurora Explorer. CubeSats are small satellites, typically a 10-centimeter cube weighing one kilogram, used for science missions that are dedicated to space weather and atmospheric research. The program's mission is to remotely explore small-scale ionization structures in the form of plasma turbulence that occurs in response to intense electrical currents in space.

June 16, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) has extended its cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between Microsoft Corporation and the command's Joint Center for Operational Analysis Knowledge and Information Fusion Exchange (KnIFE) program for one year. KnIFE answers questions from and provides training materials to deployed and predeployment units using a database of the latest enemy tactics, techniques and procedures. The extension allows KnIFE and Microsoft to complete efforts initiated under the original agreement.

June 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army displayed its newest weapons system in Washington, D.C., this month. The non-line-of-sight cannon (NLOS-C) is the first new vehicle type in a family of eight new manned ground vehicles planned for the Future Combat Systems. The mobile artillery piece features a fully automated cannon, allowing troops to engage targets more quickly than current artillery systems. A hybrid-electric engine that requires less fuel than current vehicles powers the NLOS-C vehicle.

June 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

An experimental solid-state laser successfully passed a series of repeated test firings. Developed by the Boeing Company, the thin-disk laser is part of the company's effort to develop a weapons-capable solid-state laser as a tactical weapon. Relying on electricity rather than volatile chemicals for power, the weapon achieved power levels of more than 25 kilowatts in several-second durations. Company officials note that the successful tests demonstrate the laser's potential to scale up to 100 kilowatts, the U.S. Defense Department's threshold for a tactical energy weapon.

May 7, 2008
By H. Mosher

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.

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