Army Technologies

August 28, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Army should subject new technologies to developmental testing before moving them into operational testing at its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs), according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Another recommendation, which is under consideration by the Defense Department, is for the Army to correct issues that arise during an NIE before buying and fielding systems.

August 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

 

My reflections on C4ISR are flavored by my recent reading of the book “From Pigeons to Tweets” (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2013, page 66) by Lt. Gen. Clarence “Mac” McKnight, USA (Ret.). In his book, Mac recounts the changes in every aspect of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the defense environment over the course of his long and distinguished career. Most prominent among these changes were the evolution of technology and capability, and what this meant to command and control and intelligence over time. If you haven’t read Mac’s book, I recommend it.

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
U.S. Army systems engineers conduct hardware in the loop testing on a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft. The Army is partnering with universities through Memorandums of Understanding to give students the knowledge and experience necessary to contribute to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) field in the future.

 

The U.S. Army is working to ensure the future of autonomous air platforms by reaching out to the emerging talent in the academic world. Earlier this year, soldiers signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alabama in Huntsville to engage students with work in this field as part of their education. The program aims to develop an innovative and prepared workforce in the future. Graduates not only will have had a more specific focus for their studies, but they also will be prepared better for the job market. Shaping studies now helps ensure that necessary skills are available to and even present in the Army later, according to officials from both the military branch and the institute of higher education.

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
This rendering proposes a virtual window screen across the rear ramp of an armored vehicle. It would give troops riding in the vehicle a critical picture of their surroundings, which they currently lack.

Researchers are developing new ways of enabling troops inside personnel carriers to see their outside environment without increasing their vulnerability to hostile fire. The goal is to provide enhanced 360-degree situational awareness from sensors installed on a vehicle as well as from other off-board cameras in the area.

Service members sitting inside certain armor-protected military vehicles are often similar to sardines, encased in a metal box with no means for ascertaining their surroundings. These all-metal, no-window platforms put troops at a definite disadvantage, unable to eyeball threats or opportunities.

July 11, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army is currently delivering a new and improved Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool (CJSMPT) to divisions scheduled for deployment in Afghanistan. The software automates the spectrum management process, dramatically reducing the amount of time and paperwork associated with spectrum allocation and mission planning in a tactical environment.

For operational security reasons, Army officials cannot reveal exactly which divisions will be receiving the systems or when, but for the next few months, they will be working to get the system out to Afghanistan.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The Army adjusts its training and career path for cyber domain troops and leaders.

The U.S. Army is taking a successful model developed to train chief warrant officers in the realm of information assurance and is adapting it for qualified enlisted personnel and officers. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the program blends already-successful cybersecurity training designed for the private sector with training tailored for the Army’s mission-specific networks. The goal is to create a career path for what is expected to be a cadre of cyberspecialists whose primary goal is to protect and defend the service’s digital infrastructure.

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Eric Forsythe, Ph.D., team leader and flexible electronics display deputy project manager  with the Army Research Laboratory, poses with some of the equipment used to produce the flexible displays at the Army's Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University.

Recent developments in advanced materials bring the Army closer to next-generation displays for a new breed of warfighter mobile devices.

A coalition of military, academic and industry scientists is approximately one year away from the first working prototypes of mobile devices using newly developed flexible display technologies. The goal is to demonstrate that manufacturing the displays can be done economically, and in quantity, so that they can be widely adopted by mobile device makers, benefitting both the military and consumers. Project managers ultimately hope to introduce mobile devices that are lighter, more reliable and less expensive.

June 26, 2013
By Rita Boland

Soldiers in austere environments are closer to enjoying cellular capabilities in part because of a program bridging the developments in Nett Warrior and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). The Multi-Access Cellular Extension (MACE) project develops the foundational architecture to integrate the equivalent of commercial cellular technologies into future force networks to enable communications by filling in gaps in fixed infrastructure.

June 21, 2013
By Max Cacas
The U.S. Army has a long history of using supercomputers to further research and development toward meeting warfighter needs. A historical display of past Army supercomputers was part of the dedication of the new Army Supercomputing center.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, has unveiled two new supercomputers that are among the fastest and most powerful devices of their kind. The devices are part of a recently opened supercomputing center that is the new locus of the service’s use of high-speed computing not only for basic scientific research and development, but also to solve basic warfighter needs using the latest available technologies.

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

As the U.S. Army wraps up fighting land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the service is adapting cybersecurity training to the changing landscape.

The U.S. Army is making its facility at West Point the focus of a joint program with the other services, industry and academia, devoted to sharing advanced cybertraining and research. Training in the new cyber realm includes not only basic best practices concerning passwords and mobile device security but also advanced training in the latest network management protocols and technology for members of the Army’s Signal Corps.

May 31, 2013
By Rita Boland

Fort Bliss, Texas, has installed an unusual mircogrid to help power a dining facility on base, introducing a new approach to the U.S. Army’s efforts to find alternatives to traditional power. The technology is intelligent, optimizing energy usage.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) call in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for a mission in Bagram, Afghanistan. The 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams will be the first Army units to deploy with Capability Set 13 equipment.

Two brigades from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a host of technologies that will allow the units to provide their own network down to the tactical edge. The new equipment provides battalion and company commanders with a communications on the move capability and pushes critical data down to the individual squad level.

May 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Joint Network Node (r) and a satellite transportable terminal, part of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T) Increment 1, are set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. WIN–T Increment 1 has been fielded to the force, and work on Increment 2 aims to begin deployment this year.

The same approach used to test and implement the Army’s single largest networking system is laying the groundwork for extending the network down to the individual soldier. As laboratory tests and field exercises validate the interoperability of separate elements in a network, system conflicts are giving way to greater commonality among different elements.

This effort has borne fruit in the evolution of the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN–T). The last fielding of WIN–T Increment 1 took place in August 2012, and WIN–T Increment 2 is taking the final steps toward deployment. Meanwhile, WIN–T Increment 3 is beginning to take shape.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Johns Hopkins University research had demonstrated microdevices that actuate in response to chemicals, but this was not the most practical for defense applications.

U.S. Army researchers have developed micro materials that fold when hit with a low-intensity laser. The advance may eliminate the need for relatively bulky power systems—such as battery packs—on tiny robotic systems. It also could enable robotic microthrusters, unattended ground sensors, or even—theoretically—programmable, easily changeable camouflage patterns.

The microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are shaped like stars with four, six or eight legs. The legs fold—like origami—when heated slightly with light from a low-level laser. That folding action is accomplished without the materials being tethered to batteries, wires or other any other power supply.

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The U.S. Army continues to use its Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs) to examine how technologies work together on the service’s network. Future rounds are scheduled to include more joint and coalition partners to bring in additional perspectives and capabilities.

Moving forward through sequester, next fiscal year's evaluations include new contracts and contacts.

As the U.S. Army prepares its network of the future, it plans to make some changes to the way it approaches working with government and private partners. The moves will increase interoperability downrange while attempting to shorten the ever-frustrating acquisition cycle that keeps the military behind the curve in implementing cutting-edge technologies.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. Army is striving to develop a multifunction electronic warfare, or MFEW, system that will provide a defensive electronic attack capability.

Melding the disciplines of spectrum combat will enable greater flexibility and more capabilities.

The growth in battlefield electronics has spurred a corresponding growth in electronic warfare. In the same manner that innovative technologies have spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare is becoming more complex as planners look to incorporate new systems into the battlespace.

April 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army soldier communicates inside his vehicle during the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.2 in spring 2012.

Force support will change with both stateside relocation and a new way of functioning.

Support to the U.S. Army warfighter’s communications and electronics assets will be taking a new direction as the Army redeploys back to the United States following more than a decade of combat deployments in Southwest Asia. Years of field maintenance will transition to base support, and the many commercial devices incorporated into battlefield operations will require a new approach to service and sustainment.

April 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
The 2013 Capstone Concept assumes the U.S. Army will continue to be a land-based force, but one that will adapt to changes in technology and uncertainty in future battlefields.

Technology plays a key role in helping the service adapt to a coming decade filled with uncertainty.

U.S. Army futurists believe that events such as last year’s Arab Spring predict a future that includes fighting not only on land but in cyberspace as well. The Army must do it with a renewed emphasis on using technology to empower commanders and their troops during a looming period of significant fiscal restraints.

April 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Future U.S. Army vehicles may be designed to carry common components that will decrease the size, weight and power consumption of electromagnetic systems while reducing costs and improving interoperability.

An upcoming demonstration could lead to a giant leap in common electromagnetic components.

U.S. Army researchers intend to demonstrate in the coming weeks that some components, such as antennas and amplifiers, can perform two functions—communications and electronic warfare. The ultimate goal is to use the same components for multiple purposes while dramatically reducing size, weight, power consumption and costs. The effort could lead to a set of common components for electromagnetic systems across the Army, the other military services and even international partners, which would be a boon for battlefield interoperability.

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