April 18, 2016
By George I. Seffers

Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Virginia, announced today company personnel successfully flew a subscale version of its LightningStrike vertical take-off and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-plane) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The flight of the subscale aircraft met a DARPA risk reduction requirement, focusing on validation of the aerodynamic design and flight control system.

April 8, 2016
By Taylor Justice

Those of us with the privilege of providing social services to veterans and those with significant needs face a similar challenge: Addressing many requests for help that come at us from so many different directions. Sometimes we get it right and provide the exact services clients seek. But far more often, it’s not an exact fit, and the door they walked in isn’t the right one.

April 11, 2016
By Tony Bardo

Current technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives and the deployment of cloud-based applications all demand more and more bandwidth. One aspect of modernization that could be overlooked as we rush to implement emerging technologies is also the most important—the network backbone that will support it all.

April 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Coping with reams of geospatial data can be a major burden for scientists, delaying research for months. A National Science Foundation project is developing the technology to remove that burden. The system so far has been used largely to analyze data concerning water flow and agriculture, but researchers say it offers potential for military, intelligence and homeland security data as well.

Researchers are preparing to release technology designed to overcome the challenges of coping with large amounts of geospatial data. The Web-based system makes it easier to layer blocks of information, allowing a wide variety of users to quickly understand and share complex data sets.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Geospatial Building Blocks (GABBs) project is creating a system for hosting, processing, analyzing and sharing geospatial information. The system is built on HUBzero, an open source platform developed at Purdue University that lets individuals build feature-rich websites to advance research and education.

March 29, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Pamela Whitley, deputy assistant administrator for the FAA's Next Generation Air Traffic Management System, or NextGen, discusses the program's progress during AFCEA's TechNet Air symposium in San Antonio.

It has taken about 15 years, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is greeting the 21st century.

The U.S. government pledged a commitment to build an efficient air traffic control system that allows for technological and procedural improvements, and provides a system as efficient as possible for travel, says Pamela Whitley, deputy assistant administrator for the agency’s Next Generation Air Traffic Management System, or NextGen.

March 24, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Lt. Gen. James Holmes, USAF, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements for the Air Force, gives the final keynote at AFCEA's TechNet Air symposium.

AFCEA TechNet Air 2016

The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily, Day 3

Quote of the Day:
“We want to think deeply and thoughtfully about what is the right mix between combining what humans do best and what machines do best, not just in the combat arena … but in the process we use for command and control.”—Lt. Gen. James Holmes, USAF, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements for the Air Force

The changing world has produced a reemergence of great powers.

And the U.S. Air Force seeks to stop it.

March 29, 2016

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California, today announced it will receive a first-of-a-kind brain-inspired supercomputing platform for deep learning developed by IBM Research. Based on a breakthrough neurosynaptic computer chip called IBM TrueNorth, the scalable platform will process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses and consume only 2.5 watts of power—the energy equivalent of a hearing aid battery.

March 23, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Panelists discuss advancing security technology in the air domain at an afternoon session of TechNet Air 2016.

History repeats itself: And the next-generation airframe might come as a bit of a surprise.


“They’re back,” said Thomas Kupiec, chief information security officer for SMS, as he shared as an example of two prototypes NASA is working on, complete with bulletproof skin and the potential for unmanned flight in the future.

But what is greatly different today from the first blimps of the 1890s is the need for cybersecurity, Kupiec shared during an afternoon panel discussion at AFCEA International’s inaugural TechNet Air 2016 symposium in San Antonio, which runs March 22-24. 

March 18, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Nobody lists “leader” as a job title, quips Zachary Barclift. While seven years in the Marine Corps made him one, the designation just wasn’t cutting it for his search at securing the perfect job. 

And Brad Shedd served 21 years as an infantry soldier, retiring as a sergeant first class mortarman. Go figure—not a lot of civilian companies are hiring folks to drop rounds on enemies, jests the 41-year-old veteran.

March 16, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles.

Each of the U.S. military services and the Special Operations Command plan to field laser weapons in the coming years. But Lockheed Martin officials say they could deliver now a 30-kilowatt weapon system—powerful enough to bore a hole in a steel plate within seconds—if the military asks.

March 15, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Federal agencies use risky network setups to support mission- and business-critical systems, particularly in light of global IP data center traffic growing 23 percent a year and taxing networks to deliver data reliably and efficiently, according to a Market Connections survey released today. The study was commissioned by the technology company Brocade. 

Researchers polled 200 information technology decision makers across 57 federal agencies and noted that nearly half of mission-critical workloads, and more than one third of business-critical workloads, are accessed through shared IP storage networks, which were not designed to support the increasing workloads that compromise performance, reliability and security.

March 15, 2016
By David E. Meadows

It is hard not to find an agency or organization within the U.S. government that does not have an innovation office. Some are more refined and active than others, but innovation is being seen more and more as part of the process for staying abreast or identifying the future of information technology and cybersecurity. While several positive innovation initiatives exist, one that appears to have a lot of potential value is the Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF). It integrates innovation with the acquisition process and provides funding to encourage small businesses.

March 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
The Predator provides near-real-time infrared and color video to intelligence analysts and controllers on the ground and the ship. The U.S. Air Force chief scientist is leading two follow-up Autonomous Horizons studies examining the possibility of advancing autonomous technologies.

The U.S. Air Force science and technology community is returning to a proactive approach to developing transformational technologies. The shifting focus will provide a smoother transitional path for cutting-edge capabilities, get technologies into the hands of warfighters more quickly and help project air power around the globe.

March 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
The Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program is a joint DARPA-Air Force effort that aims to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable future air-launched, tactical-range hypersonic boost glide systems.

The race is on for one U.S. Air Force directorate to restore the technological edge the service has had over other nations’ militaries. It is funding research into propulsion, power and air vehicles that could produce next-generation scramjet engines, alternative fuels and hypersonic vehicles, to name a few.

March 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Air Force technical sergeant performs breathing techniques during a gas mask fit test to ensure the mask will work properly during emergencies. The JUPITR system is designed to detect pandemics as well as chemical and biological warfare agents against U.S. Forces Korea.

In the coming months, U.S. forces in Korea likely will begin receiving an interim capability system that will set off alarms in case of medical pandemics or attacks involving chemical or biological agents. The system collects data from a variety of sensors and fuses the information so that officials can make timely, effective decisions in an effort to save lives.

March 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Across the Defense Department positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) communities, researchers strive to develop real-time PNT solutions that are as reliable as GPS to overcome vulnerabilities posed when forces operate in a GPS-denied environment.

The world’s most well-known navigation and positioning system is just so good, researchers are looking for alternatives.

Government scientists and industry partners are exploring miniaturized battery-powered atomic clocks, Earth-based satellites, jam-resistant antennas and cameras as navigational systems to reduce risk from overdependence on the Global Positioning System (GPS). 

March 1, 2016
By David Jedynak
The key enabling capability provided for PNT is through the signal transmissions from GPS satellites.

In one way or another, everyone depends on the Global Positioning System, or GPS, to smooth the way they live their daily lives. Already, the United States has more than 30 active GPS satellites that feed data to bolster the ubiquitous ecosystem of connected smartphones and other devices that facilitates comings and goings—whether circumnavigating traffic delays or directing users to the precise location for a steaming cup of coffee. 

March 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
The final GPS IIR-M satellite was launched in August 2009. A critical GPS governance committee is weighing the possibility of augmenting GPS with an enhanced long-range navigation system, similar to the GPS predecessor first developed during World War II.

When it meets this summer, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing likely will discuss reviving an enhanced version of a World War II timing system to augment signals from global navigation satellites. Portions of the nation’s critical infrastructure, including defense, transportation and finance sectors, depend on those signals, which are potentially vulnerable to a wide range of threats, including wartime adversaries, terrorists, hackers, natural phenomena and commercially available but illegal jammers. 

March 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A “serious game” developed by Alion Science and Technology puts players inside virtual operating rooms to teach proper communication skills as it guides players through real-world surgery scenarios.

Learning to fight death has become a game—literally. The Office of Naval Research has been funding several gaming initiatives to help improve training and education through simulation and modeling, particularly in the field of medicine.

It is working, says Ray Perez of the office’s Cognitive Science of Learning Program. “[Serious] games motivate players to keep on playing but also give them appropriate practice and give them feedback,” he offers. “That’s the magic sauce.” 

February 29, 2016
Georgia Tech researchers built the "Rescue Robot" to determine whether or not building occupants would trust a robot designed to help them evacuate a high-rise in case of fire or other emergency. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

People may trust robots too much for their own safety, a new study suggests. In a mock building fire, test subjects followed instructions from an “Emergency Guide Robot” even after the machine had proven itself unreliable and after some participants were told the robot had broken down.

The research was designed to determine whether or not building occupants would trust a robot designed to help them evacuate a high-rise in case of fire or other emergency. But the researchers were surprised to find the test subjects followed the robot's instructions even when the machine’s behavior should not have inspired trust.