SIGNAL Online Exclusives

May 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial at Orland Air Station in Norway May 19-28 to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) concepts and technologies. The Unified Vision 2014 (UV14) trial will be NATO’s largest-ever ISR trial and will be used as a major stepping stone to provide NATO warfighters with an enhanced set of ISR capabilities.

May 15, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Scientists with the U.S. Naval Research Lab (NRL) are the first to succeed at creating a ceramic window for all types of military vehicles that is not only 50 percent harder than current materials, but lighter, more crack resistant and likely to be a cost-saving endeavor, researchers say.

“We are the first to demonstrate a ceramic material with that small of a grain size and measure its properties,” says James Wollmershauser, a scientist with the NRL’s materials science and technology division, of the development of the Enhanced High Pressure Sintering approach.

May 14, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Terry Halvorsen, currently the U.S. Navy’s chief information officer (CIO), will take over as the Defense Department’s acting CIO in a week, a position vacated somewhat abruptly by Teri Takai when she announced at the end of April that she would be leaving the post by May 2.

For the past few weeks, the office’s senior deputy, David DeVries, had been serving as the acting CIO. This week, Robert Work, newly appointed deputy secretary of defense, announced that Halvorsen will assume the office’s role as acting CIO effective May 21.

May 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

One man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure. Professors at the University of Arizona (UA) recently transformed sulfur waste from refining fossil fuels into moldable, infrared-capable plastic lenses—an incredibly inexpensive and lightweight component that can be used for night-vision goggles among other uses.

The discovery could have huge positive implications for the U.S. military, which has already expressed interest in the patent-pending polymer, Robert A. Norwood, professor of optical sciences at UA, says.

May 6, 2014
By Rita Boland

As of last week, the U.S. Air Force began continuously broadcasting L2C and L5 civilian GPS signals. Though the changes make little immediate difference to the general population, the makers of GPS devices will use them to develop next-generation devices.

May 8, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved in the early morning hours Thursday its version of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill, authorizing nearly $601 billion overall.

The powerful committee’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) consists of $521.3 for spending on national defense, and an additional $79.4 billion placeholder for overseas contingency operations—a number that could fluctuate as war-funding requirements still have yet to be finalized.

May 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Now that the First Responder Network Authority officially launched its state-by-state consultation endeavor toward building the first-ever nationwide EMS network, leaders face a “pivotal point” in the development of such a dynamic venture, Deputy General Manager T.J. Kennedy says. FirstNet, the independent authority tasked by Congress with creating a wireless broadband network for public safety, wants to give 3 to 5 million first responders not only priority on the spectrum, but equip them with smartphones to empower them to better do their jobs.

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

April 28, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Teri Takai, the U.S. Defense Department’s chief information officer (CIO), submitted her resignation on Monday, a surprise announcement for some in the Pentagon.

Takai tendered her resignation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Her last day will be Friday, says Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, USAF, a Defense Department spokesman.

April 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A new primer additive developed for military tactical vehicles lets paint “heal itself” and could revolutionize maintenance timelines while saving billions of dollars, defense experts say.

Polyfibroblast, developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), can be added to zinc-enriched paint primers used on tactical vehicles, which then can “heal like human skin,” says Capt. Frank Furman, USMC, who manages the logistics research programs for ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

April 10, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Look out military meteorologists. Might they be all but obsolete?

Well, no. Not yet, at least. But their duties are getting easier and better as technology improves.

U.S. Navy scientists are fielding unmanned underwater drones which, when used with mathematical models, satellites and good old-fashioned brainpower, can better analyze the globe’s oceans and forecast. Ideally, the technology will predict what the world’s waterways will look like as much as 90 days into the future.

April 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

It has been a decade in the making, and soon the U.S. Navy will demonstrate what Navy leaders have lauded as game changing technology.

This summer in San Diego, the Navy will unveil its much-anticipated electromagnetic railgun launcher, which can launch a 23-pound projectile at speeds topping Mach 7. That’s 5,328.45 mph.

“The electromagnetic railgun represents an incredible new offensive capability for the U.S. Navy,” Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, USN, the service’s chief engineer, says in a statement. “This capability will allow us to effectively counter a wide range of threats at a relatively low cost, while keeping our ships and sailors safer by removing the need to carry as many high-explosive weapons.”

March 31, 2014
By Rita Boland

A new effort to connect entrepreneurs with national security agencies that need their ideas has taken hold as a public-private partnership in Arlington, Virginia. Tandem NSI hopes to accelerate innovation in the national security sphere through the work.

April 2, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Army is modernizing its computer networks to improve interoperability with the other services in today’s joint and coalition warfighting environment. A key part of this effort is collaborating with the Defense Department to help stand up the Joint Information Environment (JIE), which will provide commanders with a secure space to collaborate and share classified information, top Army officials said.

April 3, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. military is moving to the Joint Information Environment (JIE) in part because the current architecture is too complex to be easily defended, Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer, said at the April 2 Security Through Innovation Summit, Washington, D.C.

April 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Navy is outfitting a squadron of MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new modernized digital rocket launcher—a less expensive and more precise alternative to the Hellfire missiles now used, a Navy official says.

“We’re bringing another capability that is cheaper, more lethal and more precise” than weapon systems Seahawk squadrons now deploy, says Cmdr. Alex Dutko, USN, the Airborne Rockets and Pyrotechnics team leader for the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons program (PMA-242).

March 24, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Attacks on a computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) do not receive a lot of attention, and protecting against them is often not a priority, but they are on the rise, say researchers at The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit research organization funded by the U.S. government. The MITRE team is developing tools to protect against BIOS attacks and is searching for organizations to help evaluate those tools.

February 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

As the U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) continues to build on its positives and address its challenges, progress is being made in acquiring more capability from small business through efforts at the event. An official with the service branch says the Army is aware of challenges faced by these smaller companies. With the recently established formal request for proposal (RFP) process in place, industry partners including small businesses can compete for contract awards to provide qualifying vendors with funding to participate in the evaluations.

March 6, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Navy is working to incorporate information dominance as a key part of its future warfighting tool kit. As a part of this ongoing effort, the sea service is standing up a new force dedicated to information dominance, which will tap into many cutting edge capabilities such as cyberwarfare and unmanned systems.

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