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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.