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September 15, 2010
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Connections
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Deepwater Communications

Communicating with or from a submerged submarine is notoriously difficult. Currently, submarines must rise to periscope depth to communicate with other ships, aircraft or onshore facilities, which makes the subs more vulnerable and often results in a delay of tactical communications. But if all goes well during a system verification review scheduled in October, a new system dubbed Communications at Speed and Depth (CSD) may soon be headed for low-rate initial production. CSD Increment 1 includes three types of two-way communications buoys and associated equipment installed onboard subs. Two fiber-optic tethered expendable communications buoy systems—one for Iridium satellites and another for ultra high frequency satellite communications—will be launched from the submarines. The third buoy is an untethered acoustic-to-radio-frequency gateway system that can be launched from subs, aircraft or surface ships. CSD will allow strike group commanders to take full advantage of fast attack and cruise missile submarine capabilities.

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Enhanced Surveillance Video

Live, full-motion video from unmanned aircraft and other drones has become indispensable in military and intelligence operations, and quality imagery is essential to mission success. Any-Image-Anywhere (AIA), a new advanced image enhancement and routing system for full-motion video, combines high-performance parallel processing, high-speed video switching, and open architecture algorithms to enhance video imagery in real time and to allow any video source to be routed to any combination of displays. AIA processes multiple video streams at 30 frames per second in real time with zero latency; routes any video source through any number of processing algorithms and outputs the video stream to any monitor, network, recorder or similar device; provides the ability to route multiple sources to one monitor or to virtual screens within a monitor; allows for touch screen capability; and allows users to select new video streams on demand using virtual buttons.

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Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System

In a never-ending quest to improve battery power capabilities on the battlefield while decreasing the weight carried on soldiers’ backs, the U.S. Army is deploying to Afghanistan 725 Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power Systems (REPPS). REPPS is a portable system that combines solar panels, connectors and adaptors and can charge most common military batteries for up to six hours. REPPS evolved from the Soldier Photovoltaic Portable Power Panel program but now provides a full spectrum of customer power options. Multiple REPPS systems can be linked together for charging devices that demand more power. The system untethers combat units from vehicle power or tactical operations centers. Specifically designed for silent watch operations and operations in remote areas, the system has already been used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

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Carbon Nanotube Forest

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology have developed a laser power detector coated with the world’s darkest material—a forest of carbon nanotubes that reflect virtually no light across the visible spectrum and part of the infrared spectrum. The detector will be used to make precision laser measurements for advanced technologies, such as optical communications, laser-based manufacturing, solar energy conversion, and industrial and satellite-borne sensors. Unlike similar devices that use silicon to grow the nanotubes, this device uses pyroelectric material. The coating absorbs light and converts it to heat. The rise in temperature generates a current, which is used to measure the laser’s power. The product uniformly reflects less than 0.1 percent of light at wavelengths from deep violet to 400 nanometers to near infrared at four micrometers and less than one percent of light in the infrared spectrum from four to 14 micrometers.

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