SIGNAL Online Exclusives

June 3, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

The sea service wants to avoid eating its seed corn as it continues modernization efforts.

Lean budgets will not stop the U.S. Navy from developing and providing new technologies to support warfighters, but the service will have to be more creative in how it manages and pays for new systems, according to top officials. This may involve more risk as well as greater accountability.

June 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. companies are closely monitoring foreign-sourced hardware, but other measures may loom.

Constant monitoring of the telecommunications supply chain by U.S. network providers has ensured the integrity of foreign-made equipment, but the U.S. government tentatively is exploring efforts to establish standards for companies to focus supply chain efforts. Other countries have incorporated more stringent approaches that might be implemented in the United States. U.S. government experts believe, however, that some of those approaches might actually be counterproductive if adopted by U.S. firms.

June 12, 2013
By Rita Boland

Cyberwarfare is a primary concern for the U.S. Marine Corps as it continues its rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. With the growing involvement of cyber in every operation along with specific concerns of virtual attacks from large nations in the region, emphasis on the new domain is becoming increasingly important.

May 24, 2013
By Max Cacas

The Defense Department is teaming up with a well-known cloud computing giant to resolve security concerns.

Over the next several months, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will partner with Google to learn how to implement critical security capabilities in a cloud computing environment. The pilot program, involving selected members of DISA’s staff, will explore how the U.S. Defense Department will implement security when it begins to offer cloud computing services to the military in the future.

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 24, 2013
By Bev Cooper

The lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) acquisition strategy, which focuses on price over value, has become the dominant approach that agencies are applying to federal contracting. The accelerated transition to this strategy has been fueled by sequestration and the growing need for government to do business at a reduced cost. Contractors are still learning how to operate in this new environment, but many fear that the emphasis on lower cost labor will reduce the expertise of the work force and result in lower levels of effort.

May 17, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory intend to launch two additional pathfinder nanosatellites later this year. The goal is to develop a constellation of inexpensive satellites to avoid collisions in space.

May 22, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. intelligence community will be relying to a greater degree on commercial technologies to meet its current and future requirements, including some that formerly were the purview of government laboratories. And, because much of the community’s research is applied research, it will select its budgeting priorities based in part on how well the commercial sector can fill in some technology gaps on its own.

May 3, 2013
by Max Cacas

The revision reflects efforts of government-wide joint task force.

Managers of information technology systems for the federal government have new mandatory guidance on security and privacy controls used to manage and protect those systems from cyber attack.

May 9, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Software enables users to access and control information from different vehicles.

A new software tool incorporated into common control systems can allow different users to exploit data from a variety of unmanned aerial systems (UASs). The tool ultimately may permit forces to control unmanned systems launched by other services in joint operations.

May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officials describe the K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter as having met or exceeded requirements in Afghanistan, but they also report that the Marines have not yet developed requirements for the system to become a program of record and say they are unsure what effect sequestration will have on the system.

April 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future conflicts likely will be fought in degraded information technology environments, which will require the U.S. Navy to develop and exploit new capabilities to continue to operate in contested cyberspace. Technologies such as a flexible information grid, assured timing services and directed energy weapons must be part of the naval information system arsenal if the sea service is to maintain information dominance through the year 2028.

April 16, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Defense Department will decide on a path forward within 30 days.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told members of Congress on April 16 that he is personally committed to solving the database interoperability problems between the Defense Department (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that have left thousands of veterans waiting months while benefits claims are processed.

April 19, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Free World intelligence communities are confronting a more difficult world in which dramatic changes are altering the geopolitical landscape faster than previously experienced. Both technology and human factors play a role in this dynamic realm, and both technological and human solutions will be necessary for the intelligence community to adjust accordingly.

April 25, 2013
By Rita Boland
Images of the SCaN test bed.

NASA is advancing information sharing away from planet Earth through the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) test bed installed on the International Space Station. Researchers finished the check out and commissioning phases of this software-defined radio (SDR) technology earlier this month and now have commenced experiments.

March 26, 2013
By Max Cacas

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has begun internal discussions regarding a multiaward contract for cloud computing services.

Anthony Montemarano, DISA’s director of strategic planning and information, told a briefing of industry leaders Monday that he and his agency are firm believers in cloud computing. “When you look at some of the functions that we perform in government, a lot of it can be provided in the commercial cloud. We have to come to grips with the value proposition,” he explains. He believes that the Defense Department’s cloud computing strategy must include DISA cloud resources, commercial cloud services and privately owned cloud services where appropriate.

March 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, are continuing to develop a robotic technology that can transform into a virtually infinite number of shapes. In fact, the breakthrough has led to some surprising spin-off projects, including research into aircraft control actuators and medical devices.

March 11, 2013
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) is in the first stages of a five-stage plan to virtualize its computers at facilities across the globe in an attempt to save resources. Though the program itself has no direct connection to the recent sequester cuts that went into effect earlier this month, such projects could present possible cost-saving options to budget-constrained organizations.

March 15, 2013
By Max Cacas
NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory flies over the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, Palmdale, California. The  DC-8 is participating in ACCESS flights measuring the emissions and performance of biofuels in jet engines.  (NASA Photo)

NASA is in the midst of its first phase of flight tests to determine the effects of alternative biofuels on the emissions and performance of jet engines flying at altitude.

The program is called the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions, or ACCESS, according to Dr. Ruben Del Rosario, project manager of NASA’s Subsonic Fixed Wing project. The goal is to investigate how biofuels perform compared with traditional jet fuel and also to measure the environmental impact of biofuels. The results of the tests are significant because of the growing popularity of biofuels for both the U.S. Air Force and Navy as well as private sector aviation.

March 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The United States quickly must adopt a segmented approach to its military forces to ensure that key elements can survive a comprehensive cyber attack, according to a recently released Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Resilient Military Systems. This approach entails a risk reduction strategy that combines deterrence, refocused intelligence capabilities and improved cyber defense. The effort must constitute “a broad systems approach … grounded in its technical and economic feasibility” to face a cyber threat that has “potential consequences similar in some ways to the nuclear threat of the Cold War,” the DSB report says.

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