Technology

April 8, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Space Force can employ a rapid “training refresh cycle,” with virtual tools and simulation in between real operations, says Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, USSF, deputy chief of Space Operations, speaking at an Aerospace Corp. event on April 8.

As the year-old U.S. Space Force increasingly supports the U.S. combatant commands with space-based capabilities and associated warfighters, the service needs to ramp up its training.

The service’s guardians increasingly face a contested environment in space and must advance their ability and science of conducting space operations, said Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, USSF, deputy chief of Space Operations.

“Being in a contested domain radically changes the skills, the experience and the training that our operators are going to have to bring to the fight,” the general said, speaking at an Aerospace Corp. event yesterday.

April 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Lt. Col. Brian Wong, USA, chief of market research for the Army’s Network Cross Functional Team (c), assesses the waveform strength of several mobile ad hoc network radio signals during a Rapid Innovation Fund capstone event in 2019 in Yakima, Washington. Engineers at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Research Lab are looking into how to build a large scale network of intelligent radios, among other tactical communications efforts.    USA/PEO C3T Public Affairs

Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radios and artificial intelligence applications all potentially offer the military advanced capabilities for the tactical environment, say Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL’s) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, program manager, Resilient Tactical Communications Networks. 

April 1, 2021
By Shaun Waterman
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker (l), Victor Glover (second from l), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi (second from r), and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins (r), walk toward their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The November launch was the first time NASA personnel had traveled into orbit aboard a commercial space vehicle.  NASA/Joel Kowsky via Flickr

Ever since the Sputnik scare of 1957, space has been front and center on the U.S. national security agenda. Successive administrations have highlighted the essential role of space-based capabilities such as GPS, satellite imagery and real-time global communications in undergirding U.S. military power.

April 1, 2021
By George I. Seffers
DARPA’s Squad X program has taught researchers that artificial intelligence offers advantages not related to faster decision-making, and that electronic warfare systems can behave smartly without being equipped with artificial intelligence.  DARPA

Researchers have learned some surprising lessons from the technologies developed under the Defense Department’s Squad X program, which will end this year. For example, artificial intelligence may not help warfighters make faster decisions, but it does provide a planning advantage over adversaries. Furthermore, when it comes to detecting and electronically attacking enemy signals, systems can make smart decisions without artificial intelligence.

April 1, 2021
By Maj. Brian Kerg, USMC

The joint force is regularly called upon to conduct operations below the threshold of decisive combat, often in response to escalating tensions or natural disasters. In such contingencies, regularly available communications networks are commonly unavailable. The Internet, cellphones and other networks dependent upon terrestrial facilities become overloaded or knocked out of service. Consequently, crisis action planners are handicapped in their efforts to coordinate with key officials on the ground, as well as limited in the amount of local intelligence they can collect to support timely and appropriate action.

April 1, 2021
By Shaun Waterman

In the peer adversary conflicts the U.S. military must prepare for in the 2020s, dominating the electromagnetic spectrum—from D.C. to daylight—will be as important, if not more, than dominating at sea, on land or in the air.

“Freedom of action in the electromagnetic spectrum, at the time, place, and parameters of our choosing, is a required precursor to the successful conduct of operations in all domains,” states the U.S. Defense Department’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, rolled out last fall.

April 1, 2021
By Bill Grabner, Vice President, Federal Markets at Ribbon Communications

Whether supporting missions downrange on the battlefield or supporting citizens down the street when a natural disaster hits, the U.S. government needs secure communications that are easy to deploy and easy to use. This is not a new need by the U.S. Government—and current solutions for field deployable voice communications fall short in several key areas.

April 1, 2021
 

Juliana Vida, chief technical advisor, public sector at Splunk Inc., is a former Navy deputy chief information officer.

How has data become a strategic asset to government organizations?

In today’s world, data is just as critical to government operations as electricity was at the turn of the century. It’s revolutionary. It informs how the government can best communicate amongst itself and with citizens. It predicts how the uniformed services can most efficiently and effectively operate. And it advises us on how to best interact with the world and our future partners.

March 30, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, is training leaders for joint all-domain warfare through its rigorous year-long Joint All-Domain Strategist course. Students from the 2017-2018 course pose with their instructors. The course is growing in stature, given the need for such warfighting abilities. Credit: Air University Public Affairs Photo by Airman 1st Class Charles Welty.

To prepare, operate and fight in joint warfare against near-peer adversaries across all domains will take adroit leaders who provide effective decisions in near or real time. The Air Command and Staff College, or ACSC, has set a course to do just that: prepare leaders to thrive and fight with joint operations in a contested environment on a global scale using joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2. Leaders in the class learn to plan and execute multidomain operations against possible threats on land, sea, air, space and cyberspace to lead through the challenges of the expected future operational environment in 2030 and beyond.

March 18, 2021
Posted by: Julianne Simpson
Sandia National Laboratories physicist Susan Clark leads the team that built the Quantum Scientific Computing Open User Testbed. The ion-based quantum computer was made for outside researchers to use.  Photo by Bret Latter

A new open-access quantum computing testbed from the Department of Energy is ready for the public. Scientists from Indiana University were the first team to begin using Sandia National Laboratories’ Quantum Scientific Computing Open User Testbed, or QSCOUT.

QSCOUT is rare because it is a free, open-access testbed made with trapped ion technology. The platform gives users an uncommon amount of control in their research.

March 16, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood and Maryann Lawlor
A 40th Flight Test Squadron F-16D Fighting Falcon prepares to drop four bombs for the second Golden Horde test mission designed to provide proof of concept for collaborative autonomous weapons.  U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven, USAF

Four collaborative small diameter bombs successfully passed a recent second flight test, demonstrating a technology that enables weapons to respond rapidly to changes in their battlespace without real-time human intervention. The U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), in conjunction with industry, are developing networked collaborative autonomous technologies through the Golden Horde project, a Vanguard program.

March 11, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The addition of low-Earth Orbit satellite mega constellations in space brings an added threat vector, and is an area being watched closely, says Erin Miller, executive director of the new Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The nascent Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a nonprofit headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is working to be a platform for analysis and threat information sharing for the space domain. Through its membership and collaborations, it will share threat information regarding the space-related business and enterprise systems and supply chain.

Along with its indicators and analysis, the center aims to provide the resources to support response and mitigation efforts in regard to cyber or other threats to the space industry, reported Erin Miller, executive director, Space ISAC, speaking at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Cyberspace Symposium yesterday.

March 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Technicians from Verizon install a 5G node in Indianapolis. The different bandwidths offered by the new cell technology offer a host of new capabilities for commercial and military users.  Verizon

Government and the military are planning to benefit from the deployment of fifth-generation cellular, known as 5G, with new capabilities that take advantage of the different bandwidths used throughout the system. For civil government, that may translate to improved efficiency, which will allow skilled humans to move to higher skilled tasks. For the military, it may lead to better capabilities that give warfighters more flexibility and speed of action in combat operations.

March 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
NASA is developing a wireless communications network to use on the moon that will feature self-configuration, autonomous operations, reliability and hardened systems for the lunar environment. In its first planned technology demonstration in 2022, enabled by a public-private partnership, the space agency aims to increase the technology readiness level of space-based 4G LTE communications technology to “flight proven.”  NASA

With astronauts planning to return to the moon in 2024 for the first time since 1972, NASA will leverage commercial technology to mount a wireless communications network there. The capability will support the exchange of data and communications of autonomous systems, robots and astronauts. The fourth-generation long-term evolution of mobile communications, commonly known as 4G LTE, will provide the network’s reliability for NASA to conduct its lunar activity.

March 1, 2021
By Lt. Col. Ryan Kenny, USA

What would it take to deliver high quality augmented reality to the masses? Mobile devices packed with high computing power and both optical and LIDAR sensors in every hand? Check. Robust operating systems capable of overlaying 3D graphics in real environments? Check. Devices that enable high-definition rendering of digital images? Check. What’s missing? A compelling need to project information from offices and retail environments into homes and remote locations? The COVID-19 pandemic may have fixed that. So, what else is missing? Bandwidth! With 5G cellular communications entering mainstream markets, it may finally become a part of our daily lives—for real this time.

March 1, 2021
By Henry S. Kenyon

The global race to roll out fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks and supporting technologies is poised to revolutionize commercial communications and networking and offers the U.S. military the potential for secure, high speed ubiquitous networking.

March 1, 2021
By Shaun Waterman

When the pandemic struck last year, the Department of Defense directed many employees to stay home to help prevent the spread of disease and protect its workforce. The scale and speed of the transformation to remote teleworking was breathtaking. DoD had to massively ramp up bandwidth and deploy collaboration tools to millions of users across its global network within weeks—it was an accelerated march to the cloud.

March 1, 2021
By Shaun Waterman

When it comes to insider threats, defense and intelligence agencies shouldn’t worry so much about the next Edward Snowden. The biggest internal attack vector is the spy in your pocket: “You may think of it as a smartphone,” warns Bill Anderson, president of CIS Mobile, “but it’s really a portable surveillance device.”

“Defense and intelligence agencies need a solution that puts them in charge of the smartphones their people are using,” says Anderson. “Their people need the chance to enjoy the productivity gains those smartphones can bring.”

March 1, 2021
 

Bob Gourley, chief technology officer and co-founder of OODA LLC, is a due diligence and cybersecurity consultant who also publishes OODAloop.com and CTOvision.com.

How can Defense Department decision-makers take better advantage of the innovations being produced by U.S. technology firms?

February 26, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The cybersecurity problem is not going away for the military, warns retiring Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured at the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore in 2018.

During a career spanning 34 years that involved applying information technology (IT) for the military, one of the biggest hurdles was advancing change. It is not only the challenge of providing effective and cybersecure new solutions, but is the combination of that while altering the culture and shifting processes for the better, said Vice Admiral Nancy Norton, USN.

Adm. Norton retires today from military service as the director of Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and as the commander of the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN) after three years in that role and her service in the U.S. Navy.

February 16, 2021
By George I. Seffers
The Army's Synthetic Training Environment is one of three initiatives using data to modernize the service's training capabilities. Credit: U.S. Army

Gen. Paul Funk II, USA, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), outlined three training modernization priorities during his keynote speech at a February 16-17 AFCEA TechNet Augusta Virtual Solutions Series event. The initiatives include developing a prototype of the Army Training and Information System, updating ranges and training aids, and linking live, virtual and constructive training.

February 12, 2021
By George I. Seffers
A soldier dons the prototypical Integrated Visual Augmentation System during a live fire test event at Fort Pickett, Virginia, in October 2020. The Silicon Anode Conformal Wearable Battery prototype is placed in the soldier’s back pouch. Army officials will assess two versions of the new battery during Project Convergence 2021 in October. Credit: Courtney Bacon, PEO Soldier PAO

During the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence 2021 experiment scheduled for October, researchers will assess silicon anode cells for its Conformal Wearable Battery to be used with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) and the Nett Warrior system. The batteries double the power, allowing those systems to run much longer without increasing size and weight. Ultimately, the new cells could be used in a wide range of batteries for the military and commercial sectors, including those used to power tactical radios, electric cars and cellphones.

February 10, 2021
Posted by George I. Seffers
A U.S. Navy team has developed an automated target detection and tracking system known as the Intelligent Tracker for the Army's Next Generation Combat Vehicle. Image provided by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division

A new product called Intelligent Tracker developed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) will increase the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle’s intelligent fire control capability to control its medium and large caliber weapon systems, according to an NSWCDD press release.

The Intelligent Tracker innovation—made possible with state-of-the-art algorithms developed over 10 years of cumulative research at NSWCDD—adds a rapid and precise automated target detection and tracking capability to the kill chain for manned and unmanned weapon systems. 

February 1, 2021
 

 

Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, is considered by many to be one of the fathers of the Internet.

How will new mobile technologies, such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), change military communications?

Smart devices, sensors, controllers are increasingly important for military operations, including surveillance, situation awareness. These devices are deeply dependent on wireless deployment and will benefit from 5G capacities. By implication, the U.S. and its allies will need to cooperate to assure secure interoperation of their 5G implementations.

What is the role of strong authentication in battlespace communications?

February 1, 2021
By George I. Seffers
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully tests a solid-state laser weapon system demonstrator. Directed energy weapons, along with hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and other advanced systems, are on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s priority list.    U.S. Navy photo

The potential proliferation of hypersonic weapons highlights the need to advance a wide range of other technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, laser weapons and fully networked command, control and communications systems, says George Kailiwai III, director, requirements and resources (J-8) for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

February 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Sailors deployed with the expeditionary mine countermeasures capability of Task Force 75 and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen recover a MK 18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) onto a combatant craft in Pago Bay, Guam in November. The Navy is working to add considerable unmanned capability to the fleet with UUVs and unmanned surface vehicles of all sizes to support a number of naval missions.  U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Brock

In the last few years, the Naval Sea Systems Command, or NAVSEA, has made great progress in advancing the Navy’s vision of developing a family of unmanned surface vehicles and unmanned undersea vehicles, says Capt. Pete Small, USN, program manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS-406), Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants, NAVSEA. The service is pursuing an aggressive effort to add unmanned vessels, as well as improve autonomous capabilities and the supporting open architecture that enables autonomy across various platforms.

February 1, 2021
By Henry S. Kenyon

As the U.S. government migrates to cloud-centric networks, the need to protect them from rapidly evolving cyber threats increases. Network encryption remains key to this, as it protects the integrity of classified and sensitive data and keeps defenses a step ahead of adversaries.

January 14, 2021
By Julianne Simpson
The future enterprise will be edge-centric, cloud enabled and data driven, says Bill Burnham, CTO, U.S. Public Sector Business Unit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The future enterprise will be edge-centric, cloud enabled and data driven, said Bill Burnham, CTO, U.S. Public Sector Business Unit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

He shared his ideas during an AFCEA online event titled “The Edge Is Where the Action Is!”

January 8, 2021
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a machine learning algorithm that makes scientific research about 40,000 faster and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.   Credit: Andrey Suslov/Shutterstock

A research team at Sandia National Laboratories has successfully used machine learning—computer algorithms that improve themselves by learning patterns in data—to complete cumbersome materials science calculations more than 40,000 times faster than normal, according to a Sandia press release.

Their results, published in the January 4 issue of a journal called npj Computational Materials, could herald a dramatic acceleration in the creation of new technologies for optics, aerospace, energy storage and potentially medicine while simultaneously saving laboratories money on computing costs, according to the press release.

January 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Army soldiers in a Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) at Osan Air Base, Korea, stand ready to provide early warning of missile launches. JTAGS units run by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) defend U.S. forces worldwide.  U.S. Army photo

The benefits of space are being delivered to the ground-based warfighter in greater degrees as the Army taps the ultimate high ground for cutting-edge capabilities. Operational assets once available primarily to commanders now are reaching down to the individual in the foxhole. Coupled with new technologies, these activities empower warfighters while giving commanders more information and options for decisions.

January 1, 2021
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Army soldiers conduct satellite communications terminal training at Fort Hood, Texas. Future satellite communications terminals may be more resilient, reliable, automated and easy to use.  U.S. Army photo by Spc. Danielle Ferrer

Technological leaps in ground station capabilities, such as interference cancellation, band diversity and phased array antennas, will allow the U.S. Army to use new Internet of Things satellite constellations to boost combat communications. New technologies offer lower latency, higher throughput and greater network resilience while being easier for soldiers to use.

Recent Army experiments, including the Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) and Project Convergence, have included a range of technologies for enhancing and protecting satellite communications (SATCOM). The technologies will support Army modernization goals, including a more resilient network, long-range precision fires and air and missile defense.

January 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. soldiers assigned to the Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, launch the RQ-7 Shadow, an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), in Rose Barracks, Germany, in May 2020. The service relies heavily on UAVs to provide surveillance and reconnaissance support for warfighters and, as such, needs future power capabilities for longer UAV flights.  U.S. Army photo by Maj. John Ambelang

Mounting threats from adversaries and the need to support multidomain operations require unmanned aerial vehicles that can run longer, repower quickly and fly farther. For the U.S. Army to rely on advanced unmanned aerial vehicles in the future, associated motors and fuels—and for smaller vehicles, battery recharging capabilities—must evolve. Researchers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (CCDC’s) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, are examining the possibilities of hybrid propulsion systems that harness multiple fuels.

January 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman

Joint doctrine emphasizes the importance of information operations (IO) in campaign planning and operational design. Information operations include many information-related capabilities, such as cyber operations, electromagnetic spectrum operations, special technical operations and others. But as the battle for the narrative becomes exponentially more important in an increasingly interconnected world, joint planners must re-examine how they employ one of the most neglected information-related capabilities—public affairs.

December 21, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Members of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Technical Center watch as Kestrel Eye is able to take its first images from space in April. Kestrel Eye is a small, low-cost, visible-imagery satellite prototype designed to provide near real-time images to the tactical-level ground Soldier in the field, rapidly and inexpensively. (Photo by Jason B. Cutshaw)

Operational assets once available largely to commanders now are being delivered to individuals in the foxhole. Coupled with new technologies, the U.S. Army is tapping into the ultimate high ground for cutting-edge capabilities not only empowering warfighters but also giving commanders more information for decision making.

Despite the benefits orbital assets provide, drawbacks remain. Fiscal uncertainty lurks throughout the future planning process. Adversaries have increased their efforts to overcome the lead position U.S. forces traditionally held in space. In addition, cultural and architectural barriers inhibit Army space forces from realizing their full potential.

December 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and other technologies will transform the Internet in the coming years, experts predict. Credit: TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

Within the next decade or two, technological advances may revolutionize the Internet, creating an environment that is secure for all, provides more power to the people and offers an immersive, virtual reality experience as a part of daily life, according to a recent study of strategic foresight.

The study was completed this summer by the TechCast Project, a virtual think tank that focuses on strategic forecasting. The project was founded by William Halal, professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

December 3, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Danielle Metz, acting deputy CIO for information enterprise, outlines obstacles the Defense Department faces in implementing rapid technology development and fielding processes.

The U.S. Defense Department is in the process of implementing its software modernization strategy, which starts with the goal of delivering new capability directly into the hands of the warfighter and addresses both the technical and nontechnical obstacles to that vision. Still, the department faces challenges in rapidly developing and fielding technologies, according to Danielle Metz, the department’s acting deputy chief information officer for information enterprise.

December 3, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Defense Information Systems Agency officials are moving toward a secure and agile software development process known as DevSecOps for new contracts. Credit: Andrey Suslov/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is moving toward requiring rapid, agile and secure software development processes for new systems.

Brian Hermann, director and program executive officer, Services and Development Directorate within the agency, said he wanted to make it clear that the process known as DevSecOps will be increasingly essential for new contracts. 

December 3, 2020
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Space Force office has revealed a hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial satellite contracts to be awarded in the coming months. Credit; Panuwatccn/Shutterstock

During the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference, the U.S. Space Force revealed a total of 25 commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) contracts to be awarded in the coming months. 

Mike Nichols, chief of the COMSATCOM Solutions program, a business unit of the Commercial Satellite Communications Office, U.S. Space Force, highlighted several of the opportunities. Some programs released requests for proposal in November, but industry still has time to respond.

December 2, 2020
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Lockheed Martin's SBIRS GEO-5 satellite is tested in a vacuum chamber at the company's Sunnyvale, California, production facility in April. The U.S. Space Force has ruled that the satellite is now ready for launching in 2021. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite, known as SBIRS GEO-5, is ready for launch in 2021. The U.S. Space Force deemed complete the high priority program satellite, which will provide worldwide missile warning capability to the U.S. military. The service’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Production Corps at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, and industry partner Lockheed Martin Space, in Sunnyvale, California, prepared the important warning system in record time.

December 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York, survey an obstacle during an evaluation of the modular scalable vest generation II. The U.S. Army’s Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is working on developing personal and vehicle protective gear using new materials for harsh combat conditions.  ARL photo

The U.S. Army is developing new materials that can withstand the harshest environmental condition on the battlefield—high-energy kinetic combat. A multipronged research effort at the Army Research Laboratory aims at creating exotic materials that would protect warfighters and their equipment from new kinds of weaponry that are appearing, and may appear, in future tactical combat.

December 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Developed for the Defense Innovation Unit, the xBD data set combines advanced algorithms and satellite imagery to help assess the damage from catastrophes, including from California wildfires.  Credit: Shutterstock/stockpexel

In a project for the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), computer scientists have turned to artificial intelligence and aerial imagery to construct a detailed damage assessment solution. The tool can be used remotely and automatically to determine the amount of damage to buildings and structures from a natural disaster or catastrophe. The prototype, known as the xView II model, was tested this fall, with the goal of rolling out a more finalized operational version next year.

December 1, 2020
By Maj. Brian Kerg, USMC

As the capabilities of networked technologies continue to increase exponentially, so too does the speed and impact of the narrative. Recordings, images and commentary about an event can be uploaded within seconds. Based on how visceral any event might be, it could go viral within moments. By the end of the hour, a dominant narrative about that event could be echoed across the Internet, television and radio, and remain wedged in the minds of the audience for weeks, months or years.

Especially if it isn’t true.

December 1, 2020
By Henry S. Kenyon

Over the last two decades, unmanned systems have evolved from relatively simple surveillance and reconnaissance to sophisticated and increasingly autonomous system-of-systems that are a key part of U.S. military strategy and tactics.

In what seemed like science fiction only a few years ago, artificial intelligence empowered unmanned systems teaming with manned platforms are shaping up as the path for future operations. The evolution of smarter sensors coupled with automated processing tasks now being performed right at the point of interest are also essential to this growth, which is now mature enough to allow more coordinated teamwork between manned and unmanned systems on the battlefield.

November 25, 2020
By George I. Seffers
While human cyborgs may still be the stuff of science fiction, the science may be a little closer to reality following breakthroughs in materials used for neural links and other implants that offer a wide array of benefits, including potential medical advances. Credit: Ociacia/Shutterstock

A breakthrough in materials could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of electronic implants in the human brain or other parts of the body. The advance could offer an array of biotechnology benefits and allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies directly with their brains.

The development involves a polythiophene, or PEDOT, chemical structure. The newest materials, which David Martin describes as PEDOT Plus, dramatically enhances electronic implants in the body.

November 23, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force's new initiative, Operation Flamethrower, is meant to aggressively get rid of legacy policies, processes and equipment that are not effective. Credit: Shutterstock/Mack Pansuwan

The U.S. Air Force, led by Brig. Gen. Chad Raduege, USAF, the Air Combat Command’s A-6, along with Deputy Chief Information Officer Lauren Knausenberger, is pursuing Operation Flamethrower, an aggressive project to abandon legacy network-related policies, processes or equipment that are not working. The tongue-in-cheek name of the effort is meant to illuminate the nature in which leaders will eliminate ineffective or redundant components in order to drive innovation.

“We are ruthlessly going after these things and setting them on fire,” Knausenberger said.

November 10, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Krunja

The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts as evolving technologies come together to spawn entirely new capabilities that will affect the connected world. That connected world itself will be expanding as innovations empower people far beyond existing, and even envisioned, parameters

As with all advances, this new connected world will not be without drawbacks. Security and privacy concerns will be greater, as the potential threats become more ubiquitous. But some capabilities may bring their own solutions to these challenges.

November 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The flexibility that flying orbs present the military is game-changing, notes Col. Nathan Diller, USAF, director, Agility Prime, and director, AFWERX. Beta Technologies’ six-seat lift and cruise aircraft has a 50-foot wingspan.  Beta Technologies

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to have initial electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, testing by December and a more substantial fielding of an estimated 30 or more eVTOL aircraft by 2023. The service’s Agility Prime program is pursuing a so-called Air Race to Certification, seeking a global advantage in eVTOL, says Col. Nathan Diller, USAF, director, Agility Prime, and director, AFWERX.

Agility Prime is one of three experiments that adds innovation quickly—in addition to Spark and Air Force Ventures—and represents a new approach for the service, Col. Diller says.

November 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A laboratory technician in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) USAF School of Aerospace Medicine Epidemiology Laboratory tests samples for COVID-19. In addition to urgent research projects, the AFRL is exploring new scientific disciplines that may entail combining traditionally disparate technology.  U.S. Air Force

Radio-driven electro-optic sensors, exotic molecular materials and bugs that repair runways are just some of the technologies the Air Force is looking at to help it retain air supremacy in the future. Partnerships with industry and academia are central to this research, but the service is directing efforts to meet goals established in the most recent National Defense Strategy.

November 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
DARPA’s Gremlin program completed its first test flight last year. Earlier this year, DARPA and the Air Force opted to add a fourth phase to the program to prepare it to transition from research and development to operational status.  Photo: Courtesy of DARPA

The fourth and final phase of the Gremlins unmanned aerial system program will include collaborative autonomy software that allows one person to control multiple unmanned air vehicles. The technology extends the capability of unmanned aircraft systems to conduct long-distance engagements of mobile ground and maritime targets in areas with poor communications or limited navigational signals.

November 1, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
The Mobile Low Power Prototype Number 1 at the National Reactor Testing Station, Idaho Falls, Idaho, was designed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It was deployed in Idaho in 1961 and was one of a series of ultimately failed efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a mobile nuclear reactor in the 1960s.  U.S. Army photo courtesy of Office of History, HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Photographer unknown

The U.S. Defense Department is working toward a mini nuclear reactor that could solve its small-scale localized energy needs. The device would be rapidly deployable for bases and outposts as well as provide power for up to three years with minimal supervision. It would not pose many of the safety challenges if existing nuclear power plants, and it would help alleviate the threat to energy supply convoys in contested areas.

For deployed forces in combat, there’s rarely an electric grid to rely on, and the resupply umbilical is a major pressure point in wartime. In the first decade of the war on terror, more than half of all U.S. casualties occurred during attacks on convoys, according to the Rand Corp.