Defense Operations

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.

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 1, 2013
George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 3

Although many in government are moving as quickly as possible to adopt new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile devices, individual agencies still face cultural challenges that sometimes prevent them from moving forward, according to officials speaking as part of the Chief Information Officer Council at the AFCEA Homeland Security conference in Washington, D.C.

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.

March 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Significant fuel savings and operational efficiencies are some of the benefits of an intelligent power management system that includes multiple energy sources.

The U.S. Army has tested a proof of concept for a smart electrical grid that would support tactical operations in the field. The concept, which was tested last summer, could save potentially billions of dollars in fuel use at remote forward positions. By eliminating the need to transport fuel for generators at such encampments, the new Tactical Operations Smart Grid also carries with it the potential of saving the lives of warfighters.

March 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical equipment is set up during a Network Integration Evaluation at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Officials work to provide a new cloud approach across 
the service as well as the Defense Department.

U.S. Army officials estimate that by the end of the fiscal year, they will go into production on a new cloud computing solution that could potentially be made available across the Defense Department and could eventually be used to expand cloud capabilities on the battlefield. The platform-as-a-service product incorporates enhanced automation, less expensive software licensing and built-in information assurance.

March 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Racks of gear provide Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) capability for the JOIN facility. The network can debug software upgrades as well as resolve interoperability issues.

The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts in a networked software engineering realm.

A network built after its major move to a new base is allowing the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to link diverse communications systems into an overarching network. This enables capabilities ranging from debugging software updates before they are sent to the front to a multinational exercise for validating operational activities.

March 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Artist’s rendering of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System scheduled for fielding to the U.S. Army in 2014. The system will provide enhanced connectivity to the Distributed Common Ground System-Army, the service branch’s premier intelligence enterprise.

The plug-and-play technology will close large capability gaps in the field.

The U.S. Army is developing the first airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform fully enabled to connect analysts with the Distributed Common Ground System-Army. That system will help remedy problems currently hindering soldiers from having all data feed into a single repository. With the new aircraft, the process will be streamlined from the flying support, so information reaches ground commanders faster to facilitate more timely decision making.

March 1, 2013
BY Robert K. Ackerman
A Soldier from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division uses the Joint Capabilities Release (JCR) during a U.S. Army Network Integration Evaluation (NIE). The successor to the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system, the JCR will be a bridge to the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P.

Aberdeen Proving Ground becomes the home of high-techology development, validation and deployment.

Consolidating its communications-electronics assets in a single location has given the U.S. Army vital resources and flexibility that it needs to address its changing information technology demands during a time of transition. This transition is twofold: not only is Army communications absorbing new commercial technologies and capabilities, the Army itself also is facing substantial changes as a force that has been overseas for more than a decade is redeploying back to its U.S. bases.

March 1, 2013
BY James C. Bussert

A handful of designs serves to validate indigenous and reverse-engineered technologies.

The People’s Republic of China has been introducing diverse new classes of ships into its navy for decades, but it also has employed some as vessels for weapons trials. Three ships distinctly have served as test platforms for many of the new technologies that entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN. An examination of these trial ships can illustrate the next generation of technologies about to be incorporated in the navy.
 

March 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The defining images of the opening stages of the 2001 Afghanistan invasion were of bearded U.S. Special Operations forces on horseback talking with invisible air assets high overhead. Ancient transportation technology melded with cutting-edge communication protocols created an odd but appropriate scenario in the midst of a wholly unanticipated conflict. The synergy of high- and low-capability technologies likely will define 21st century conflicts, especially with foes we cannot currently imagine.

March 1, 2013
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone who has attended an AFCEA conference in the past two months has heard the constant drumbeat from senior government leadership on the limitations on operations and readiness likely to occur in defense, intelligence and homeland security. At the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 Conference in San Diego January 29-31, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a packed audience that the U.S. Defense Department did not know how much money it would receive, when it would receive it or what the restrictions on its use would be.

March 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration are implementing a cloud computing solution known as Yourcloud that will improve security, cut costs and provide an anytime, anywhere, from any device networking capability.

Officials aim to have a solution in place by year's end.

The U.S. agency responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation and naval nuclear reactor programs is racing to put unclassified data on the cloud this year. Cloud computing is expected to provide a wide range of benefits, including greater cybersecurity, lower costs and networking at any time and from anywhere.

February 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy technology may allow in-flight conversion from helicopter to fixed wing.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing unmanned aircraft technology that will allow the conversion from a vertical take-off and landing system to a fixed-wing craft during in-flight operation. The conversion capability will provide the take-off and landing flexibility of a helicopter with the longer range, higher speeds and lower wear and tear of an airplane.

February 6, 2013
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Army is finalizing its official report on the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.1 even as it prepares for the next iteration of the event and Capability Set 14. Soldiers are tweaking processes to make the exercises more valuable while working closer with industry to speed fielding as much as possible under tight acquisition regulations.

February 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) fire emergency personnel will soon receive the Advanced Disaster Management Simulator that will offer them more realistic simulations of disaster scenarios.

Emergency responders working under U.S. Air Forces Europe are preparing to receive an advanced simulation trainer that they expect will greatly improve the realism and efficacy of their training. Though procured mainly for firefighters, the system can be employed to exercise many types of crisis situations. Other organizations around the world already are using it for different purposes while benefitting from one another’s efforts. Anytime one user makes an improvement, that knowledge is shared with everyone, creating a constantly evolving capability.

February 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Two Tobyhanna Army Depot electronics experts set up a lightweight counter mortar radar system for rotation testing in an anechoic test chamber. This test removes the need for actual live-fire exercises and saves the Army tens of thousands of dollars for each system deployed to the field.

The march of digitization has changed the mission of a longtime U.S. Army maintenance and repair depot from fixing broken radio systems in a warehouse to supporting troops using the newest software-driven communications devices in the field. This support ranges from testing or even manufacturing new gear in partnership with industry to integrating new information systems in combat zones.

February 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The Defense Department has a spending problem and must be reined in. The solution, however, goes far beyond simplistic budget cutting efforts such as across-the-board sequestration. It involves a fundamental cultural shift from both our appropriators and our subordinate-level commanders.

The past 10 years have been a financial boon for the military. This was true even as the rest of the U.S. economy was beset by recession and increasing unemployment. In 2001, the Defense Department base budget was $290.5 billion (in fiscal year 2012 dollars). By 2011, this amount had risen to $526.1 billion, excluding the funding required to sustain the Iraq and Afghan wars.

February 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
The Joint Cyberoperations Range can include live training, such as a fighter jet flying over a training range, along with virtual and constructive cyber training.

A cyberspace operations facility grows with the burgeoning mission.

The U.S. Defense Department’s network operations training and education capabilities must continually evolve in the ever-shifting cyber realm. To meet that need, one of the department’s premier cyber ranges harnesses the power of simulation to support a full array of training, education, certification and military exercises for the warfighters.

February 1, 2013
By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.
The Gorgon Stare sensor system is being mounted in Afghanistan on USAF/General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This system from Exelis and Sierra Nevada Corporation can zoom in on and transmit up to 64 different images to soldiers on the ground.

Industry opens up an array of real-time imaging

Sweeping advances in sensor technologies are enabling wide-area airborne persistent surveillance on both manned and unmanned aircraft. Emerging sensor systems can provide high-resolution mosaic imagery for large swaths of the battlefield while focusing on individual objects.

These intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor systems are winning their spurs on the battlefield in Afghanistan. They are meeting combat commanders’ urgent operational requirements to provide city-size area coverage. These sensors simultaneously can focus on and track individual vehicles and dismounted hostiles.

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