March 20, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Air Force Tech Sgt. Matthew Coutts launches a Raven B Digital Data Link drone during a demonstration in Southwest Asia in January. The Navy is developing a video game-based tool to evaluate the skills of potential unmanned vehicle operators. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinhol

The rapid increase in the use of unmanned vehicles has created a demand for the U.S. Navy to find talented drone operators. Typically, the Navy has assigned aviators to operate drones, but this has taken away from their traditional aviation assignments, according to an article from Warren Duffie of Office of Naval Research (ONR) Corporate Strategic Communications.

March 16, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
 DARPA’s Collection and Monitoring via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios (COMPASS) program aims to develop advanced decision-making tools for commanders and other decision makers in complex and dynamic gray-zone conflicts. (Image by DARPA)

The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency has begun a program to address an emerging conflict in a nebulous area between peace and conventional warfare. Dubbed the “gray zone,” actions in this space occur slower and are executed more subtly using social, psychological, religious, informational, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence.

March 7, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
Brig. Gen. (P) Brian J. Mennes, USA, director of force management, HQDA, deputy chief of staff, G-3/7, describes the operational environment at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

The U.S. Army is overhauling its relationship with technology providers to incorporate a new class of capabilities that will enable survivable, protected, intuitive, standards-based, interoperable, sustainable and, above all, highly mobile networks. To obtain these types of technologies, the service plans to assume a position where it is articulating its intent, a process that’s being described as “adapt and buy.”

March 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A soldier with the 1st Infantry Division provides security during exercise Allied Spirit VII in Hohenfels, Germany. In the future, the trees surrounding the soldier may be used as networked sensors if work underway at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) bears fruit.

Native plant life could join traffic cameras, motion detectors and enemy sensor systems as future sources of battlefield information if the U.S. Army Research Laboratory has its way. The laboratory is applying the Internet of Things approach to theater command, control, communications, computers and intelligence as it plans to equip soldiers and their leaders with vital knowledge from nontraditional information sources, and it is leaving no stone—or crop—unturned in its efforts.

March 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Under the High-Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) program, the Navy is swiftly pursuing laser weapons for use on surface ships. The technology will combine the lethality of a laser weapon with surveillance capabilities and an integrated optical dazzler, a non-lethal device that disables sensors or humans visually. Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin, artist rendering of Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS System

The U.S. Navy’s first-of-its kind high-energy laser weapon contract will supply one 60-150 kilowatt system for an Arleigh-Burke class ship, the DDG 51 Flight IIA, and another as a land-based test unit. The award of the $150 million contract, to Lockheed Martin Corp. in late January, signals the move of laser weaponry from science and technology research to fielding and use on Naval ships. In a highly competitive field against three other companies bidding on the contract, Lockheed Martin was not able to discuss the award until now.

March 1, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
A Marine radios in after contact with a simulated enemy during a training exercise in Shizuoka, Japan. The Defense Department has mandated a new software architecture standard for tactical radios. Credit: Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Henson

The Department of Defense Joint Enterprise Standards Committee today has listed the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) version 4.1 as a mandated tactical radio standard in the department’s Information Technology Standards Registry (DISR) and retired SCA version 2.2.2.

The SCA is an open architecture framework that defines a standard way to instantiate, configure and manage waveform applications running on a radio hardware platform. The SCA decouples waveform software from its platform-specific software and hardware, facilitates waveform software reuse and minimizes development expenditures.

March 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
3-D metal printing is breaking the mold of traditional manufacturing designs. Credit: Optisys

The combination of so-called additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, electromagnetic simulation and mechanical design software is enabling innovative antenna and radio-frequency components. Engineers are harnessing these tools to design, fabricate, test and manufacture lightweight, highly complex antennas and radio-frequency products.

March 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood

Melding materials three-dimensionally into state-of-the-art antennas would not be possible without key software platforms. For this, antenna producer Optisys relies on technology from ANSYS Incorporated. Started in 1970 as a small company in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, ANSYS now has 75 offices in 40 countries. As a multiphysics business, ANSYS looks at all aspects of physics design—structural, thermal, fluid dynamics and electronics.

March 1, 2018
By Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan White, USCG

The U.S. government is likely the largest combined producer and consumer of software in the world. The code to build that software is volatile, expensive and oftentimes completely hidden from view. Most people only see the end result: the compiled and packaged application or website. However, a massive worldwide community, the Open Source Initiative, centers on the exact opposite.

March 1, 2018
By Terry Halvorsen

Fifth-generation (5G) superfast cellular technology is coming. And it will revolutionize the way we think about networks, the amount of data and analytics that can be presented in real or near real time, and how we use this data and related analytics to make everyday decisions. 5G is going to enable a national high-speed virtual highway. Much like the rollout of the physical national highway system, the introduction of 5G will affect defense and business and change individual behavior in ways we haven’t even thought about yet.

March 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The E-6B Mercury has been dubbed the most dangerous aircraft in the world because of its capability to command and control nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. The next-generation Airborne Launch Control System will be capable of launching both Minuteman III and Ground-Based Deterrence System missiles. Credit: Josh Plueger

The next-generation airborne missile control system being developed by the U.S. Air Force will take advantage of modern communications and electronics systems such as software-defined radios to provide a number of capabilities, including improved cybersecurity.

March 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: Shutterstock/Bruce Rolff

Part of the Office of Naval Research’s efforts in command, control, communications and computers is to provide key analytical tools to planners, analysts and commanders swamped by data. To that end, the office, known as the ONR, is conducting basic and applied research in applications that will cut maneuver planning time, expand access to data, enhance analytical processing and improve predictions. The tools are meant to improve decision making across antisubmarine warfare, integrated air and missile defense, electromagnetic maneuver warfare, and expeditionary and integrated fires missions.

February 26, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
With an M3 anti-tank weapon on his shoulder, Army Spc. Austin Helms stands guard at Fort Polk, Louisiana, on February 15. The Army's science and technology research is focusing on increasing soldier lethality through improved situational awareness, among other strategies. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon

Army leaders have outlined the battlefield of tomorrow. It isn’t a static war, like the fight of the last 17 years in a counterinsurgency environment. The battle will involve smaller, more dispersed mobile Army teams operating in dense urban environments. Soldiers will have to manage in megacities, with hundreds of thousands or millions of people competing for the same electromagnetic spectrum, water, food and roads. The gear that they rely on for protection, as well as their own abilities to perform—their warfighter lethality—needs to reflect the demands of this future battlefield.

February 22, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko

The next generation of battlefield sensors may be truly organic in nature. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) are experimenting with using natural plant life as self-powered sensors in a future battlefield surveillance network.

Their exotic work builds on research developed three years ago by Swedish scientists. Those researchers were able to turn a living rose into an electronic circuit. And, they were able to accomplish this without killing the flower. U.S. Army scientists say the next step in this research is to turn this organic circuit into a sensor that would be networked on the battlefield.

February 16, 2018
Posted by Maryann Lawlor
Northrop Grumman’s team is launching an open architecture testbed and seeking participants to create and test their own swarm-based tacking on the platform as part of DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is moving into the first development phase of its OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, a capability that will empower dismounted troops to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles simultaneously. Once fully evolved, the technology will provide small-unit infantry forces with small, unmanned aircraft and ground systems to support diverse missions in urban areas. The program also seeks to integrate modern swarm tactics and leverage emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming.

February 8, 2018
By Beverly Cooper
The AlphaGo Zero initiative exceeded human level of play in the game of Go, with the machine playing itself and learning how to win from its own experience. Credit: Saran Poroong, Shutterstock

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks are already influencing decision-making processes for both military and business, yet all of the benefits and consequences are far from understood. The way these technologies will be applied will have a profound effect on service personnel as well as civilians, and the timeline is accelerating, driven by the exponential growth in sensors, big data and simulation algorithms.

February 7, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6), describes the challenges facing Navy information warfare during her keynote luncheon speech at West 2018.

New technologies, capabilities and tactics will be necessary for the U.S. Navy to prevail in the burgeoning arena of information warfare. But while some needs are obvious, the course for the overall way ahead remains elusive.

Explaining the complicated nature of naval information warfare was Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6). Speaking at the Wednesday keynote luncheon at West 2018 being held in San Diego February 6-8, Adm. Tighe outlined a series of challenges and potential options, beginning with the state of the realm.

February 5, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The military wants smaller, lighter and ruggedized servers, routers and other equipment that contain cybersecurity measures in order to take their networks into battle. Here, soldiers are taking a look at the PacStar Tactical Fidelis Cybersecurity System. Photo Credit: Pacific Star Communications.

As the military, including the U.S. Army, works to update network command systems, size, weight, power and capability improvements are central, especially when paired with cybersecurity protections. The network improvements provide key flexibility and operations for tactical missions and command posts.

February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discussing the effect of technology on Navy operations are (l-r) moderator Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), AFCEA president and CEO; Kenneth W. Bible, deputy director, C4/Deputy CIO, U.S. Marine Corps; Kelly Fletcher, acting Department of Navy CIO; Vice Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces; and Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, assistant commandant, C4&IT and commander, U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command.

Now that the U.S. Navy is networked and fully cyber-enabled, it needs to ensure that its technologies improve efficiencies and effectiveness to a greater degree. How that is to be achieved was the topic of discussion by an afternoon panel of experts at West 2018, being held in San Diego February 6-8.

February 1, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
As part of the ‘ Wingman’ program, the U.S. Army is developing the Autonomous Remote Engagement System, which is mounted on the Picatinny Lightweight Remote Weapon System and coupled with an M240B machine gun. The system will employ both vision-based automatic target detection and user-specified target selection to reduce the time needed for target identification. Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo.

The Army is pairing traditional weapons and vehicles with autonomous systems, an effort they characterize as the first step toward weaponized robotics. The goal is to be able to use robotic vehicles to leverage capabilities during enemy stand-offs.

Dubbed the ‘Wingman’ Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program or JCTD, the program already has seen success with Army engineers at the Detroit Arsenal, autonomously piloting a revamped Humvee that can accurately hit targets with a mounted 7.62 milometer weapon system, according to Sean Kimmons of the Army News Service.