The U.S. Army’s Project Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PM UAS) is partnering with academic institutions to build on lessons learned in combat. Officials aim to advance the operational understanding of UAS technologies and explore a range of rapidly expanding uses for them, including within U.S. airspace. For example, unmanned aerial vehicles could be used in disaster response and humanitarian relief efforts as well as environmental and law enforcement initiatives. For some projects, the agreements will enable students to visit U.S.
When the U.S. military began its now popularly termed “Asia pivot” a few years ago, the new outward focus on the Pacific region as a national military priority warranted some internal Defense Department focus on how to achieve the mission—to include bumping up the position for the U.S. Army Pacific commander from a three-star general to a four-star. Accordingly, the new position would need a four-star mission command center.
The U.S. Army is extending advanced communications to disadvantaged users, fielding a series of capabilities to various groups in an effort to give soldiers at the pointy end of the spear the connectivity they need. With the rollout, forward-deployed troops should be able to access classified networks via wireless 4G long-term evolution connections. National Guard units also are acquiring the tools to aid their troops in disaster response scenarios.
Fiscal year 2015 marks the official kickoff of a U.S. Army program to develop a foliage-penetrating radar that will simultaneously locate still objects and track moving objects from a fast-moving fixed-wing aircraft. The next-generation system is designed specifically for jungle environments such as the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Africa, and by combining multiple capabilities onto one platform, it will allow the service to cut down the number of sensors currently needed.
Awareness on the battlefield coupled with lighter loads for increased warfighter mobility are key enablers of the future fight. Brig. Gen. (P) Paul A. Ostrowski, USA, the program executive officer, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, is focusing his organization on addressing those needs.
A new mobile operations fusion kit that provides easy, rapid and on-the-go interoperability for mobile field operations and communications piqued the interest recently of the U.S. Marine Corps’ research and development community. It was impressed by the technology that proved successful in interoperability testing in June. Known as Operations Fusion Kit 2.0, the unit is a multimedia communications system bundled into a compact, lightweight, waterproof, ruggedized Pelican carrying case that enables secure voice, full-motion video and information sharing on a global, real-time basis.
The U.S. military’s increased reliance on global positioning satellite (GPS) technologies has triggered adversarial forces to improve upon technology to disrupt the warfighters’ usage in the age-old war games of one-upmanship.
U.S. Army engineers developed technology prototypes aimed at weaning U.S. forces from reliance on GPS systems. The Warfighter Integrated Navigation System (WINS), while intended to serve as a backup to GPS usage, not as a replacement, can operate independently and free of a satellite link and still give warfighters precise positioning and timing data.
The U.S. Army is preparing—for the first time—to develop and field micro robotic systems under programs of record, indicating confidence that the technology has matured and years of research are paying off. The small systems will provide individual soldiers and squads with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in jungles, buildings and caves that larger systems can’t reach. Ideally, they will become valued combat team members.
A small form factor device that will allow communications from low-level unclassified networks up to high-level secret classified networks has completed the development stage and is in the process of transferring to its new program. Created at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), the Tactical Army Cross Domain Information Sharing (TACDIS) tool is an easy-to-connect cable that will enhance situational awareness at the top to protect troops at the tactical edge.
The U.S. Air Force’s newest secure satellite communications terminal draws from existing U.S. Army and Navy systems already in operation. The new production for the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals, or FAB-T, evolved from technologies established in the Army’s Secure Mobile Antijam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) and the Navy’s Multiband Terminal (NMT).
The U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center has created a system to streamline testing, rid unneeded and redundant analysis and even eliminate duplicative spending. The new system addresses the challenge of how technological advances to some Army tactical equipment have outpaced improvements program managers can use to test changes to equipment before fielding.
Virtual training for U.S. Army soldiers advanced in both capability and fidelity recently with the release of Virtual Battle Space 3. Designed for units at the company level or below, its flexibility makes it applicable to the range of Army missions, reducing costs and logistics needs for users.
The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.
U.S. Army officials envision a future in which ground and air platforms share data and where soldiers at a remote forward-operating base easily can access information from any sensor in the area, including national satellites or reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. To achieve this big data vision, the service has initiated three pilot projects designed to provide Google-style access in a tactical environment to the lowest echelon without overwhelming soldiers with unnecessary data.
One by one, U.S. Army engineers are updating legacy cryptographic equipment in an effort to catch up, and then keep pace, with 21st century technological advances already made to the service’s tactical networks.
The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) is expediting delivery of modernized cryptographic products to bases around the world, swapping out legacy systems and bundling technology so fewer devices are needed to perform the same tasks, according to a command news release.
U.S. Army engineers and scientists are working to eventually equip dismounted soldiers with wearable computers such as Google Glass. The up-and-coming wearables technology is being touted by officials as one of the next game-changers for warriors. So much of today’s computer technology was designed for a person sitting in a chair at a desk, whereas dismounted soldiers are in the field, walking around. Their fully loaded, capability offices need to be more mobile. “Given that same type of [office-centric] paradigm for presentation of material is not the best soldier experience,” says David Darkow, supervisor of mission information for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.
Officials across the U.S. Defense Department are pushing to identify and develop the disruptive technologies that will offer orders-of-magnitude advantages on the battlefield. But while bringing such capabilities to fruition is difficult, even determining what qualifies as disruptive represents a challenge. As personnel wrestle with definitions, they are forging ahead with their creative ideas.
Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are the norm for today’s soldiers, but teleporting data may be typical for the troops of tomorrow. Scientists at the U.S. Army's Research Laboratory (ARL), Adelphi, Maryland, have successfully demonstrated information teleportation capabilities in the laboratory using entangled photons. The quantum computing breakthrough could lead to substantially improved cybersecurity, vastly superior data processing rates and dramatically enhanced situational awareness.
U.S. Army researchers improved on the service’s 3-D terrain mapping system by reducing the system’s weight by 250 pounds and making the BuckEye operational from drones. Now they are developing a capability allowing the system to collect data from higher altitudes, covering a larger swath of land and considerably improving the technology’s efficacy, Michael A. Harper, director of the Warfighter Support Directorate at the U.S. Army Geospatial Center, says.