Technology

October 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Delta IV rocket carrying the WGS-9 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. International partners receive proportional access to bandwidth based on their financial contribution to the satellite in what could be a harbinger of future tactical military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) programs.

U.S. military satellite communications is expanding to provide greater coverage of the tactical environment as part of its overall mission to serve the land, sea and air domains. Broadening tactical coverage requires new types of satellites with a larger variety of capabilities, and these spacecraft must be shielded against threats ranging from cyber attack to on-orbit interference.

October 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division use Rifleman Radios and other tactical network technologies during a training exercise. In the future, Army officials intend to provide soldiers with a radio capable of using both the Soldier Radio Waveform, which the Rifleman Radio relies on, and the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System waveform.

As U.S. Army leaders assess the future of tactical communications and networking programs, the service is moving forward with several measures to extend improved capabilities to soldiers at the platoon and squad levels. 

Service officials spent most of the summer participating in a major review of the Army’s network modernization strategy. Gen. Mark Milley, USA, the Army chief of staff, informed Congress in May that he had directed a “rigorous and painful review” of tactical communication programs out of concerns that systems being developed may not be sufficiently hardened against electronic attacks.

October 16, 2017
By Julianne Simpson
Beamlines entering the lower hemisphere of the National Ignition Facility’s target chamber. Lawrence Livermore researchers have successfully combined nine of the facility’s 192 laser beamlines into one directed pulse of light. (Photo: Damien Jemison/LLNL)

For 40 years, the Star Wars Death Star has been one of science fiction’s most iconic figures. But scientists and laser experts held that its superbeam could never work because of the properties of lasers—theory says that the beams would just pass through one another, not converge and combine their energy.

That’s all about to change. A team of researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has added a plasma—a charged mixture of ions and free electrons—to the concept and successfully combined several separate lasers into a superlaser.

October 6, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
At the recent Starburst Aerospace Accelerator event held at DARPA, entrepreneurs presented emerging technologies for military applications. One innovator, Star Simpson, is working on a more rugged drone for light weight critical supply deliveries, building off of the experience designing the ASPARA cardboard disposable drone at Otherlab in San Francisco.

Entrepreneurs developing products for entry into the aerospace and military industry in the next one to three years are focusing on improved battery efficiencies, 3-D metal printed antennas, software for manufacturing improvements and drone delivery applications, among other cutting-edge technologies.

Trying to break into the potentially lucrative market of aerospace, the prospective business men and women presenting their nascent product ideas and discoveries at a pitch meeting hosted by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on October 5 are searching for venture capital investments and partnership, positing that their technologies will be, if not groundbreaking, useful and more efficient.

October 1, 2017
By Maj. Gen. Earl D. Matthews, USAF (Ret.)

Smartphones and tablets offer more storage, processing power and functionality than an enterprise-class mainframe computer did less than a generation ago. Such dramatic advances make mobile devices powerful business tools and allow military forces to conduct combat missions around the clock, regardless of location.

September 29, 2017
By David E. Meadows

No longer the wave of the future, quantum communications are here today. China recently launched Micius, the world’s first-ever quantum communications satellite capable of securing transmitted data within a high-dimensional quantum encryption.

This development is a “Wow!” There is no known capability to decrypt quantum encryption. This means no one can hack it until quantum technology reaches a point where technology gurus can think of it as another element within the Internet of Things (IoT).

September 18, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Andre Hentz, deputy undersecretary (acting) for science and technology, DHS, speaks at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.

Digital technology has taken on new forms and shapes at a rapid pace. Historic infrastructures are being challenged. Autonomous vehicles, banking, Bitcoin, asymmetrical financing and all the elements of the Internet of Things are in the forefront.

The challenge is how to bake in security as these things come online. “We are always interested in technology solutions that can help, said Andre Hentz, deputy undersecretary (acting) for science and technology, DHS, speaking to an audience of industry and government at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.

September 1, 2017
By Henry S. Kenyon
Although it has no formal program, the Coast Guard is interested in acquiring small, hand-launched UASs such as this RQ-20A Puma, which can be operated from a variety of ships and boats. Coast Guard officials say such small UASs will offer the service great operational flexibility in a variety of situations.  U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. Coast Guard needs more unmanned aircraft as eyes in the sky to support key missions such as search and rescue, drug interdiction and maritime patrol. The service will soon deploy these aircraft from its cutters as part of a long-term effort to expand the Coast Guard’s use of airborne robot platforms. Both ships and shore-based installations will be equipped with medium-range unmanned aerial systems to aid manned aircraft and provide real-time, around-the-clock surveillance.

September 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Capt. Judith Epstein, USN, clinical director of the Naval Medical Research Center’s (NMRC’s) Malaria Research Department, fills out a record book about malaria vaccine research in the clinical trials center.  U.S. Navy photo by Katie Berland

U.S. military medical researchers are using radiation to close in on a vaccine to eliminate malaria, the top infectious disease threat to troops in affected areas, according to the Defense Department. The vaccine would replace preventive measures that are only partly effective against the mosquito-borne killer.

September 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI’s) Xpress challenge, designed to spur industry and academia to develop machine-generated analysis systems, has produced its first results. The challenge launched April 6 and ended July 5.

David Isaacson, ODNI program manager, says it included 387 registrants across 42 countries. In the end, it featured 15 submissions, only two of which were nonresponsive. He defines a nonresponsive submission as one that was not computer-generated but instead was written manually by humans, not meeting the challenge’s requirement for machine-generated results.

September 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Benji Maruyama, a senior materials research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) Functional Materials Division, stands by the AFRL’s Autonomous Research System (ARES), which uses artificial intelligence to design, execute and analyze experiments at a pace much faster than traditional scientific research methods.

The U.S. Air Force’s most prolific scientist likely will never wear a lab coat, but it can perform experiments 100 times faster than its human counterparts. The robo-researcher may one day help spark explosive growth in scientific knowledge.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) Autonomous Research System (ARES) does not fit the conventional idea of a robotic system. It is not humanoid. It does not move freely across the ground or fly through the air. But in a single day, it can autonomously execute 100 experiments, compared with about one for its human peers.

September 1, 2017
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

A new era of computing, sensing, modeling and communicating will begin with the advent of viable quantum technologies. Viable quantum technologies will change everything about computers. Harnessing the characteristics of quantum mechanics is bound to unlock mathematical mysteries and enable profound applications.

Today’s military leaders must prepare now for the quantum future.

August 30, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, test the new positioning technology being developed by Echo Ridge.

The military is developing a new battlefield tool that will help ground forces navigate hostile territory without the susceptibility of GPS platforms. Instead, warfighters will use radio frequency signals as a source of positioning information. To display navigational solutions on a map, the tool connects to a smartphone running the Air Force’s Android Tactical Assault Kit.

In conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Sterling, Virginia-based Echo Ridge LLC is designing the technology to fit in a small, low-power package that can be carried by ground operators, according to Mark Smearcheck, an electronics engineer with the AFRL Sensors Directorate.

August 23, 2017
By Wes Caldwell
The U.S. government endeavors to deliver capabilities in a more responsive, agile manner, says Wes Caldwell, chief technology officer, Polaris Alpha.

Many U.S. government sectors, including defense, intelligence, public safety, cybersecurity and space, have seen a recent shift toward embracing new technologies and methodologies for delivering capabilities in a more responsive, agile manner.

The ecosystem of technologies that is driving this innovation is diverse to say the least. The foundation of this ecosystem is the underlying IT infrastructure. The evolution of hyperconverged infrastructure is maximizing the density of computing power, random-access memory and storage in these modern data centers, making it easier and more cost effective for providers to leverage and deploy applications and solutions.

August 16, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Researchers at the Army Research Laboratory in Orlando are creating a virtual grenade launcher training platform that will allow for repeated virtual rounds before going out to the real firing range.

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is creating a virtual MK-19 trainer that will help shorten training set-up time and decrease ammunition costs, according to the Army. Researchers at the ARL in Orlando, Florida, are merging the weapon with existing hardware and software algorithms to create a training experience that blends real-time vision with virtual reality.

Once it is ready for full use in the field, the training platform will help soldiers expedite training on the weapon.

The concepts proven by the MK-19 trainer represent “the future of training for soldiers,” said Dean Reed, software developer and team lead at the ARL in Orlando.

August 9, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A panel at TechNet Augusta 2017 discusses military readiness.

One of the Army’s biggest needs in the area of tactical command, control and communications is radio waveforms that are difficult to detect and intercept.

Gary Martin, the service’s Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, told the AFCEA TechNet Augusta audience that hard-to-find waveforms top the service’s list, and he invited industry’s ideas on the subject.

August 3, 2017
A U.S. Marine trains at Range 10 at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii. Next year, the Defense Information Systems Agency will upgrade telecommunications for military forces in Hawaii.

U.S. Defense Department personnel stationed in Hawaii will experience less latency and more communication features with the implementation of the Pacific Enterprise Services–Hawaii (PES-HI) Program in 2018.

PES-HI, which will be managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), will upgrade legacy analog communications to an almost-Everything over Internet Protocol (IP) technology base, according to a DISA announcement. Improvements include enterprise services, such as Voice and Video over Internet Protocol and web conferencing as well as collaboration services, including chat and presence.

August 3, 2017
The U.S. Army is updating mission command network software and hardware, condensing more than a dozen versions to one standard baseline. (U.S. Army photo by Bridget Lynch, PEO C3T Public Affairs)

Beginning later this year, the U.S. Army will be updating mission command network software and hardware across 400 Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units. The goal is to reduce more than a dozen mission command network software and hardware versions to one standard baseline. As a result, system complexity in the command-post environment will be mitigated, allowing for easier network initialization and sustainment.

August 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A senior airman removes his gas mask during a readiness drill. Because traditional biometric authentication techniques such as fingerprints and facial scans are not always practical for warfighters, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are developing a prototypical system to track gait patterns and frequently visited locations.

A U.S. Defense Department pilot project intends to develop a prototype system within the next year to authenticate the identity of mobile users through their so-called patterns of life, such as how fast they walk to work or locations they routinely visit. The project is designed to benefit warfighters who may not have time for fingerprints, facial recognition scans or other forms of traditional biometrics.

August 1, 2017
By Marc Couture

Recent breakthroughs in multichannel signal analysis deliver a significant boost in electromagnetic spectrum coverage for airborne electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications. These advances make an impossible dream a reality: a cost-effective, open standards approach enabling coverage of far greater swaths of the electromagnetic spectrum, combined with the ability to analyze and act upon data in real time.

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