• Direct fire munition increases lethality, reduces collateral damage

    The backpack-size drone can be deployed within a two-minute time frame and is destroyed upon hitting its target. (CCWS courtesy photos)

    By The Close Combat Weapon Systems Project Office

     

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Engaging the enemy effectively without a clear line-of-sight is an ongoing challenge for Soldiers serving in small, outlying posts in theater. One solution is the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS), a not-within-direct-fire-line-of-sight, single-use munition system that is launched from a small tube. The entire system is carried in a Soldier’s backpack.

    Equipped with optical sensors, LMAMS transmits live color video wirelessly to a display on a ground control unit. The technology allows the Soldier to find the enemy and ensure positive identification before engaging. LMAMS deploys within two-minutes and can fly for up to fifteen minutes.
    The advantages? Increased support and lethality while limiting unintended damage.

    “It is a very sophisticated bullet with eyes,” said Bill Nichols, acting product director for LMAMS at the Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS) project office.

    Fulfilling a Requirement
    LMAMS is the product of an Army requirement submitted to the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) in January 2011. The request for an improved aerial munitions system was based on the results of a limited Block 1 Switchblade assessment, completed in the fall of 2010. Switchblade was the most mature technical solution available at the time. LMAMS, the resulting upgraded capability, includes an enhanced day camera and the addition of an infrared camera for night operations. It also comes with a tailored training package.

    “… With all the limitations on resources, this team has performed a superb job in their ability to produce the kind of efficiencies that made it possible to get this system into theater rapidly.”

    “Once the development work was completed, we took that configuration and put it through an extensive production verification test to ensure reliability of the system and to basically ‘shake out’ the system,” Nichols said.

    That shaking out of the system included more than 100 test flights for the LMAMS. Once the test flights were completed, full-system munitions were produced and vetted through safety confirmation tests. The tests included limited environmental testing, electromagnetic interference testing and full, live firefight flight tests. Once LMAMS was deemed safe for use by Soldiers, the Army started equipping the system to support operations in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2012.
    “By partnering with the REF, we were able to deliver the capability to Soldiers in combat within14 months of receiving the original requirement” said Nichols.

    Bill Ruta, program manager for CCWS added, “This has been a shoestring operation. With all the limitations on resources, this team has performed a superb job in their ability to produce the kind of efficiencies that made it possible to get this system into theater rapidly.”

    LMAMS is launched from a small tube and viewed from the ground control unit.

    Unique Capability
    Although the aerial munition is designed for non-line-of-sight targets, it’s categorized as a direct fire asset. When the munition reaches the target, the cameras on LMAMS allow the Soldier to have “eyes on” the target, which provides the required positive identification. If the situation or target changes, then the operator can wave the munition off and either continue to view or re-approach the target or look for a secondary target.

    “It is one of the few—if not the only—munition that can be moved off of its intended target, directed to a safe place, and detonated or destroyed after it is launched. There is no other munition in the inventory that I am aware of that allows us to do this in real time and with such precision. It limits unintended casualties and collateral damage,” Nichols said.

    LMAMS has allowed Soldiers to engage the enemy in the open, in narrow village corridors, or where other civilians are present within a small radius of where the target is to be engaged or neutralized. In instances where the primary target has been lost, the Soldier has been able to divert the munition to a secondary target or detonate, preventing civilian casualties.

    Flight Path
    LMAMS is ground-launched from a static position at a forward operating base or at a small post in a ready-to-fire or standby mode. In the future, it may be possible to have several munitions fired from a pod in an effort to provide base defense or to have the system launched from a vehicle.

    “I’d say that with this type of munition and capability, although we have learned a lot, we are at about the second day of the Wright brothers’ first flight. We’ve got that much left to learn with this once we put it into the hands of the great Soldiers we have,” Nichols said.

    Feedback from Soldiers who’ve used the munition is critical in determining the future of LMAMS, and there are systems in place to ensure that CCWS can collect crucial data. CCWS is already looking at feedback from each engagement and identifying potential improvements. There are also two formal field operating assessments going on as part of the feedback processes. These assessments, along with the individual engagement feedback process, will provide CCWS information critical to determine any future material changes, methods of employment and more effective system training.

    “We’re getting all of that great feedback because Soldiers are always brutally honest,” Nichols said. “That’s exactly what we need in order to continue to evolve LMAMS.”


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  • Army researchers build portable “fake pot” detector prototype to curb Soldier designer drug abuse

    Dr. Mark Griep, center, is a materials engineer of the Composite and Hybrid Materials Branch in ARL's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. His current research efforts are focused on structure property relationships and application concepts of carbon nano-structures, hybrid nano-bio materials, and energy harvesting materials and phenomena.

    By T’Jae Gibson, Army Research Laboratory,
    Public Affairs Office

     

    Army researchers are building a portable drug detector that, soon, could help military and civil law enforcement agencies throughout the country more quickly catch synthetic drug abuse.

    The Army Research Laboratory’s prototype biosensor model is expected to directly detect the active chemical substitutes that help “fake pot” fade from notice in commercially available synthetic cannabinoid detectors. It would be the first field-ready test on the market.

    In 2012, the Army Criminal Investigation Command conducted 1,675 investigations involving Soldiers and spice, bath salts, or other synthetic drugs, according to a May 2013 Army Times article.

    ARL is collaborating with ACIL on this work, as synthetic cannabinoids are a rising threat that burdens their case-load. Currently there are no fieldable detection systems to perform analysis on the spot and tests are sent back to ACIL for evaluation. ARL is attempting to build a sensor that is not only portable, but can detect an ever-changing culprit.

    “Garage chemists” sneak their concoctions of chemically laced kitchen herbs past detectors law enforcement use today, because those biosensors are designed to find a specific molecule. “But there are hundreds of synthetic cannabinoid variants, so a sensor that detects one specific synthetic cannabinoid that is seen on Spice or K2 would be quickly outdated as these types change regularly,” said Dr. Mark Griep, principal scientist on the project, who works in the Composite and Hybrid Materials Branch in ARL’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.

    Synthetic marijuana first appeared in Europe in 2004 as ''herbal incense''. (Photo Courtesy of the DEA)

    Griep joined with Dr. Shashi Karna, an Army senior research scientist and noted international expert in nanotechnology, to form a team of government and academic scientific investigators in building a detector that “will be able to detect the whole “class” of chemicals that have an affinity for the cannabinoid receptors in the brain,” Griep said. These are the receptors that are targeted by the drug and induce its effects. “Therefore, even if entirely new synthetic cannabinoid molecules are created, they are created to activate these receptors, so our sensor will be sensitive to them.”

    This work builds upon the fundamental bio-nano science conducted at ARL and the Michigan Technological University in 2008, where a joint team of military and university researchers developed a unique opto-electronic hybrid system based on the integration of quantum dots with the highly functional protein bacteriorhodopsin, and revealed the fundamental science and mechanisms behind their interactions.

    Based on this hybrid bio-nanomaterial, researchers were able to patent a system they developed that could selectively target a material, and when that target binds to the sensor it induces a change in the proteins electrical output.

    With this understanding of the materials, ARL was able to develop a unique sensing platform that is amenable to functionalization towards a wide variety of airborne or liquid targets. The base platform is very generic and could be tailored it to a multitude of sensing needs, explained Griep.

    Dr. Abby West leads the design and optimization of the ligand/dark quencher system. This is the component that sets the threshold of detection and ultimately the activation of the sensor when displaced. Control of this material allows us to detect any synthetic cannabinoid that bind more strongly to the receptor.

    “Although this bio-nano sensing platform wasn’t developed with drug sensing in mind, this program leverages our bio-nano sensor expertise towards a specific drug testing problem. The fact that our sensor platform has the potential to be small, lightweight, user-friendly, and fieldable in addition to being generic enough to be tailored towards synthetic cannabinoid detections made it a unique fit to fill this specific drug detection need,” Griep said.

    Synthetic marijuana arose from the “unfortunate manipulation of science far outside the intended purpose” to study the effects of cannabinoids on brain functioning and their efficacy in treating pain, Griep said. Several cannabinoid compounds were created to help advance the treatment of serious ailments like multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer.

    The protocols of basic science to communicate findings in open literature, namely the “Materials and Methods” section, “became a shopping list and recipe for garage chemists with ambitions straight out of AMC TV’s Breaking Bad. They laced natural herbs with these molecules and advertised the product as a legal alternative to pot, with the further come-on that this substitute could not be detected in drug tests. At the same time, a warning label said the item was not for human consumption as a way to skirt watchdogs like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said Griep, who first created new biosensor platforms for a DARPA-funded project in 2008.

    Dr. Michael Sellers is the co-principal investigator on this work at ARL. He leads the computational simulation support. The biomolecular simulation that Sellers provides is key to guiding the experimental design and ensuring all the synthesized materials interact properly with the natural receptors.

    He is tailoring bio-nanosensing platforms he created to build the synthetic cannabinoid detection platform. His research team at Michigan Technological University and ARL won the Paul A. Siple award for their efforts in Bio-Nanoelectronics at the Army Science Conference in 2010.

    Griep said traditional drug-focused sensors are focused on two aspects. Finding the synthetic cannabinoids before use, which is what the ARL model is being designed to do, and detecting the drugs after use and after they have been processed in the body, which is when urine and hair analyses come into play.

    “Although detecting the drug after it’s in the body is standard for normal marijuana and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol ] metabolites, it is hard to implement for synthetic cannabinoids since a lot of research is required to find out how each specific chemical is processed in the body. This is has been figured out for a few synthetic cannabinoids, but the problem comes back to the hundreds of variants of these synthetics. A new test would need to be developed for each variant,” Griep said.

    There is plenty of research available that gives a sense for the complexity of the “system to process chemicals in your body. So even if there’s a single atom or bond change in the material, the entire pathway could change. Thus, the end product, or what ends up in your hair or urine, could be greatly different. Every synthetic cannabinoid has a different structure or functional group arrangement, so it will be processed differently in the body,” Griep explained.

    DEA-Bath Salts (Photo Courtesy of the DEA)

    The Department of the Army banned the use of synthetic marijuana for Soldiers in 2011. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense approved the addition of synthetic cannabinoids to the approved random testing panel within the next ninety days, said Buddy Horne, drug testing manager for the Army Substance Abuse Program.

    Synthetic cannabinoids are substances chemically produced to mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. When smoked or ingested, they can produce psychoactive effects similar to those of marijuana and have been reportedly linked to heart attacks, seizures and hallucinations. Some abusers reported marijuana-consistent effects such as sleepiness, relaxation and reduced blood pressure, but others have reported symptoms not common with marijuana abuse such as nausea, increased agitation, elevated blood pressure and racing heart rates.

    The Michigan Technological University expects to deliver to the Army a unit to house ARL’s biosensor technology in December.

    ARL expects to deliver a functional prototype ACIL by the end of 2014, but until then, Army researchers will work with collaborators from the National Institutes of Health, ACIL and the DEA to test its efficacy using real-world synthetic cannabinoid samples.

    If it works well, Griep said, this device could quickly roll out to military police and civilian law enforcement agencies around the country.

    ACIL is responsible for all the forensic investigation work within the DoD. In the case of synthetic cannabinoids, whenever the military police comes across a suspicious sample or there is a synthetic drug case involving military personnel during an investigation, the contents of the sample must be evaluated and proven at ACIL.

    “Since there aren’t any field tests, all the characterization and analysis is done at ACIL. There are a tremendous amount of potential synthetic cannabinoid related cases, so there’s quite a workload of samples arriving at ACIL,” said Griep.

    “If there was a good field-able sensor – our work’s goal – capable of allowing law enforcement to determine if the suspicious package contained synthetic cannabinoids or not, then the ACIL workload would be cut down since only samples that actually contain synthetic cannabinoids would be sent back for analysis.”


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  • Mission command technology set for NIE evaluation, future evolution

    A Soldier monitors maneuver engagements using Command Post of the Future (CPOF). CPOF, currently under a Limited User Test at the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 14.1, is the primary common operating picture viewer used by the Army in all theaters, allowing units to plot and share information on tactical operations in real time. U.S. Army photo.

    By Kathryn Bailey

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –One of the first technologies to transition acetate map information into a digitized format for information-sharing in Iraq and Afghanistan is now setting the stage for the Army’s progression to simplified, web-based mission command capabilities.

    As part of the latest fielding requirements for Command Post of the Future (CPOF), the Army’s primary system for viewing and sharing mission command information, Soldiers at this fall’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 14.1 at Fort Bliss, Texas, will perform a Limited User Test (LUT) to assess CPOF’s reliability and overall contributions to mission success. A successful LUT will provide CPOF with the Army’s Full Materiel Release (FMR) designation and will supersede the Urgent Materiel Release (UMR) designation that allowed critical system capabilities to continually reach Soldiers during wartime.

    “We are pleased to finally put CPOF through a formal operational test because we have a decade’s worth of success stories from the field,” said Col. Jonas Vogelhut, the Army’s project manager for Mission Command, in which CPOF is assigned. “We are also using Soldier feedback to keep improving CPOF as the foundation for the next generation of mission command technologies.”

    The CPOF LUT will be part of an NIE that has been scaled to meet the needs of the Army within budget constraints. In past NIEs, more than 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) assessed systems during live exercises. At NIE 14.1, only certain elements of 2/1 AD will be deployed to the field, while the remainder of the Brigade Combat Team (BCT) will use simulation and modeling in live, virtual environments for some of the smaller tests and evaluations.

    For example, the Army will gather data from Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Riley, Kan., with the headquarters at the division level at Fort Riley and the brigade at Fort Bliss. The key aspect of this test will be to gauge the operations of CPOF between the two locations over the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) network backbone. Successful operations between the installations will be a strong indicator of successful operations over real-world operational distances, such as from Afghanistan to Kuwait.

    Another key measurement for CPOF at NIE 14.1 will be its performance in both the command post and on-the-move in vehicles equipped with a WIN-T Increment 2 Point of Presence (PoP).

    The CPOF LUT also verifies the system’s readiness to field as part of the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE), which is an Army-approved set of computing technologies and standards that is allowing secure and interoperable software application development across several computing environments. A standardized environment will yield lower development costs, improve interoperability and allow for easier system maintenance.

    “It has been exciting to watch CPOF’S modernization as the Army shifts towards technologies that will reduce both complexity and cost, and NIE 14.1 is right in step with these parameters,” Vogelhut said.

    CPOF is the primary common operating picture (COP) viewer used by the Army in all theaters, combining feeds from different mission command systems to provide a broad spectrum of information that commanders and staff members can use to collaborate. It has provided much needed capabilities during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), where CPOF-equipped units have been able to plot real-time tactical efforts like firefights on a three-dimensional map, and instantly see the updates that staff members make to those efforts.

    “We call CPOF’s capabilities ‘WYSIWIS’ or ‘what-you-see-is-what-I-see,’ said Lt. Col. Thomas Bentzel, product manager for Tactical Mission Command, assigned to PM MC. “That is because all the data is live and shared in real time.”

    With its latest release, CPOF is providing the next-generation architecture that enables entire theaters of operation to collaborate on a single distributed data repository with thousands of CPOF users. It also provides a “disconnected, intermittent, limited” (DIL) capability, allowing individuals and units to disconnect from the network, continue to conduct mission command operations using CPOF, and then reconnect and resynchronize with the repository. DIL capabilities provide uninterrupted operations in the event of a network outage or the requirement to rapidly relocate a command post.

    As mission command capabilities mature, CPOF is providing a thin client version of CPOF, called Command Web, that enables the Army and third-party developers to develop and field applications or “widgets” that represent the warfighting functions of maneuver, fires, intelligence, sustainment and protection. These web-based technologies will eventually reach across all of the Army’s computing environments, as part of the COE, and will provide a standardized, streamlined experience that will enhance the commander’s collaborative planning abilities.

    “CPOF revolutionized the concept of the COP, and now the commander is seeing how powerful integrating web-based warfighting systems into one environment can be to enhance his decision making capabilities,” Vogelhut said. “By integrating systems we also simplify them, making them easier for Soldiers to understand and use — and in times of reduced resources, we gain tremendous efficiencies through both equipment costs and training burdens.”

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  • AFIRM Medicine II Cooperative Agreement Awarded to Warrior Restoration Consortium

    By USAMRMC Public Affairs

     

    “When warriors come back from the battlefield with serious life-changing injuries, it is our job to find new and innovative ways to help them.”

    FORT DETRICK, Md. – The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM): Warrior Restoration Consortium, under the Wake Forest University School of Medicine (Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Medical Service, the Office of Research and Development – Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

    The AFIRM II program will focus on five key areas: extremity regeneration, craniomaxillofacial regeneration, skin regeneration, composite tissue allotransplantation and immunomodulation, and genitourinary/lower abdomen reconstruction.

    Therapies developed by the AFIRM II program are intended to aid traumatically injured service members and civilians. The goals of the program include funding basic through translational regenerative medicine research, and to position promising technologies and therapeutic/restorative practices for entrance into human clinical trials.

    “When warriors come back from the battlefield with serious life-changing injuries, it is our job to find new and innovative ways to help them,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr., commanding general USAMRMC and Fort Detrick. “Ultimately, we’d like to create new treatments to repair these severe injuries as if they never happened. The science of regenerative medicine is one of the ways we fulfill our promise to service members who put themselves in harm’s way— that we will work our hardest and do our very best to take care of them.”

    The original AFIRM cooperative agreements, awarded in 2008, focused on limb repair, craniofacial repair, burn repair, scarless wound repair, and compartment syndrome. Research under the AFIRM was conducted through two independent research consortia working with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Fort Sam Houston, TX.

    One research consortium was led by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and the Cleveland Clinic (Rutgers-Cleveland Clinic Consortium) while the other was led by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh (Wake Forest – Pittsburgh Consortium).


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  • Army develops lightweight ballistic protection for aircraft

    The AMRDEC Prototype Integration Facility designed, qualified, fabricated and installed a prototype of an enhanced Ballistic Protection System for the cabin of the UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft.

    By Heather R. Smith

     

    “Advances in light-weight composites have allowed the Army to begin the integration of new lighter weight ballistic protection systems.”

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Army tactics and training are constantly changing to meet the threat on the battlefield, and one such example is the attack helicopter.

    Originally the AH-1 Cobras were designed to arrive on station quickly, eliminate the threat, and move on to the next target. But in today’s battlefield, attack helicopters like the AH-64 Apaches are providing air support to ground convoys, and often hovering over convoys to eliminate any sign of threats.

    These combat operations result in increased exposure to enemy ground fire and increased need for ballistic protection systems, and the Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) has developed that expertise.

    Ballistic protection systems (BPS) typically consist of materials and techniques used to shelter personnel and materiel against projectiles. PIF Program Management Supervisor Jeff Carr said thick, heavy, dense material has historically been used for armor, so a major challenge for aviation is to provide ballistic protection in the lightest, most compact means possible.

    The PIF has a history of installing traditional armor on ground vehicles including the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS. Although armor steel is a very effective BPS, it is extremely heavy. The cab armor on the HIMARS weighs approximately 2,500 pounds.

    Carr said changes in the warfight have challenged the Army to effectively employ lighter-weight armor systems in aircraft while maintaining or increasing the ability to withstand advanced ground fire. Advances in light-weight composites have allowed the Army to begin the integration of new lighter weight ballistic protection systems.

    The PIF designed and integrated a BPS for a tactical variant of the Bell 407 aircraft. The Iraqi Armed 407 was an aircraft produced by the PIF and commissioned by the Department of State for the Iraqi government. This effort was particularly challenging due to space constraints associated with the small commercial-to-military converted aircraft. The installed system provides protection for the cockpit floor and crew seats.

    Lightweight ballistic armor is also being designed, qualified, fabricated and installed by the PIF on the CH-47 Chinook, and UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft.

    The current Chinook BPS system offers protection against small arms fire and weighs 3,500 lbs. The PIF was able to take advantage of advances in light-weight composite material and to reduce the weight of the original BPS by 2,000 lbs. The new BPS offers additional protection to both the pilot and cargo areas. Also integrated into the CH-47D/F is a floor kit, a passenger vertical kit, and a multi-impact transparent armor system for windows, which allows normal operations while reducing ballistic intrusion.

    The PIF-enhanced BPS for the Black Hawk will reduce the weight of the current BPS system by 500 pounds. The PIF will also deliver a technical data package to the UH-60 program management office, which will allow industry to compete for future BPS acquisitions.

    “The PIF continues to design, develop, and install new and improved ballistic protection on aviation and ground systems,” Carr said, “Their design capabilities, machine shop and advanced composites lab provide an extraordinary capability to create custom formed material BPS.”


    • AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

      RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.


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  • New method uses water, motion to develop delicious military food

    Frank DiLeo, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, prepares to use a new retort food processing system at the DOD Combat Feeding Directorate in Natick, Mass. (Photo Credit: David Kamm)

    By Alexandra Foran, NSRDEC Public Affairs

     

    NATICK, Mass. (Sept. 17, 2013) — One of life’s greatest necessities, water, is a key ingredient for the new gentle motion retort used by the Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop Meals, Ready-to-Eat and Tray Pack products.

    This simple molecule is heated to 240 degrees Fahrenheit in order to cook and sterilize foods using one of three different thermal processing methods.

    After the successful “retort” process items do not require refrigeration because they have achieved commercial sterilization, the removal of certain pathogenic organisms.

    The retort vessel installed at the NSRDEC in January 2013 can process 195 eight-ounce Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE, pouches, or 20 six-pound polymeric Tray Packs at a time using water immersion, saturated steam, water spray or water spray with gentle motion.

    During the water immersion mode water fills the processing vessel, which holds up to 185 gallons, and completely submerges the product. This water is then heated to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and held for a prescribed period of time. In the steam process saturated steam is injected into the vessel.

    The water spray mode utilizes three steam “sparges” located at the bottom of the processing vessel to shower the packaged food product with hot water at high pressure. Through each of these methods heat penetrates the sealed pouches or trays, eventually reaching the point of product sterilization.

    Products typically cook in the processing vessel using either method for approximately 45 to 85 minutes. A cool down phase also occurs prior to removal of the product from the vessel.

    In the newest, most novel method, water spray with gentle motion, showering the product with hot water is followed by introduction of the motion factor, where the vessel rocks the product back and forth at up to 50 strokes per minute.

    “Using the water spray with gentle motion method, we’re shortening the total processing time,” said Frank DiLeo, physical scientist on the Combat Rations Team. “If you reduce processing time, you’re saving money and electricity. Also, the spray water is recycled, so there’s not a lot of waste involved in this particular mode.”

    Different products do require different processing times in the retort because of the quantity and density of the food products that go into the packages.

    “Rice is a very dense product compared to a beef stew, which has a lot of free liquid,” said DiLeo. “Free liquid is important because it helps with heat transfer. Heat penetration will inactivate and destroy the pathogens. Minimizing the processing time improves the quality of the product, most notably the flavor and appearance.”

    Although cook time is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the inactivation of pathogenic organisms and achievement of commercial stability, the gentle motion retort can reduce the total processing time by up to 40 percent because the heating and cooling times are shorter than with most other processes.

    This laboratory-sized retort vessel also streamlines the new product development and testing process, as similar gentle motion retorts are now used by the commercial vendors producing MRE pouches and Tray Packs for the military.

    “Now, at the bench level, we can design products and process them the same as our vendors would,” said DiLeo. “You’re reducing the barriers to scale-up because you have a more industry-compatible system.”

    Transitioning shelf-stable food products from the research and development level to vendors and ultimately to warfighters has been made easier at Natick.

    Researchers said the new retort vessel helps to ensure new food products developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate are not only safe to consume, but also thermally processed in a much more efficient manner. Warfighters may soon see more visually appealing, nutritious and delicious shelf-stable ready-to-eat foods, they said.

     


    • NSRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

      RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.


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  • Zombie killers: SMDC’s low-cost targets save money

    A PAC-3 (MSE), advanced missile defense system launches during a recent ballistic missile target test. The USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center is providing a low-cost, realistic threat ballistic target called Zombie. (U.S. Army photo)

    By Jason B. Cutshaw

     

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) is turning the old into the new, saving the Army testing funds and providing capabilities by using low-cost targets during missile defense testing—with Zombies.

    You read that right. The USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center has developed a realistic threat ballistic target called ‘Zombie’ for use in testing the PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, or PAC-3 (MSE), advanced missile defense systems.

    Zombie uses government-owned material components that have reached the end of their useful lives and are subject to consideration for demilitarization. Using this government hardware instead of demilitarizing it ultimately saves taxpayer dollars.

    A PAC-3 (MSE), advanced missile defense system hits its Zombie target during a recent ballistic missile target test. The USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center has developed the Zombie targets that cut expenses from the approximate $30 million each for high-end targets, to approximately $4 million for SMDC’s low-cost Zombie. (U.S. Army photo)

    Army missile defense testers looking to save money on ballistic missile targets that can still meet mission requirements, have done just that. SMDC has developed low-cost targets that cut expenses from the approximate $30 million each for high-end targets, to approximately $4 million for SMDC’s low-cost Zombie targets. These savings will allow program managers to stretch their testing budgets and apply funding to where it is needed while reducing the program’s overall testing budget.

    Making Zombies Fly
    SMDC members are using components from legacy systems and reconfiguring them to fly, in modified configurations, as ballistic targets.

    “Some of the legacy components are from systems that are referred to as ‘dead components’ or components that are not part of the active program’s future developments,” said Bryon K. Manley, Technical Center flight test services chief. “The ‘rebirth’ of the dead components is where the term Zombie came from. People working this program love this name because of recent pop culture popularity, and even the PATRIOT interceptor program operators have used the name ‘Zombie Killers’ in their documentation. It is a name that people can get behind and get motivated.”

    Zombie is an alternative to the high-cost, high-performance, high-fidelity tactical ballistic missile targets historically used in PATRIOT PAC-3 testing, such as the Juno. Zombie is not a replacement for Juno, as Juno is still needed for the occasion when its specific performance capabilities are required.

    “SMDC has developed low-cost targets that cut expenses from the approximate $30 million each for high-end targets, to approximately $4 million for SMDC’s low-cost Zombie targets.”

    More Will Come
    The Zombie idea is one of several low-cost ballistic targets that have been developed and are being developed. The Economical Target-1, the first in a suite of low-cost targets developed, was launched on its first flight in February 2012. Two other developments currently underway, however, add more flexibility and performance at longer ranges.

    A Lance missile is launched to provide a low-cost target for the PAC-3 (MSE), advanced missile defense system. The USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center has developed the Lance alongside the Zombie as another in its low-cost suite of threat ballistic targets. (U.S. Army photo)

    “When the developments are complete, SMDC will be able to make these low-cost target options at lower than traditional target costs,” Manley said. “The goal is to build huge capabilities at a low cost.

    “Lance is another in our low-cost target suite,” he continued. “For less than $500,000 apiece, we are providing eight telemetry configured Lance missiles to get real tactical ballistic missile test articles to exercise a defense system at a fraction of what other targets are normally available in the integrated missile defense community.”

    On June 6, a PAC-3 (MSE), missile successfully engaged, intercepted and destroyed a second Zombie low-cost threat-representative target during a flight test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

    “The idea behind our approach is to develop a whole new suite of targets that utilize old rocket motors that the Army has already invested in to develop and have no future planned usage,” Manley said. “We are taking them and retrofitting and reconfiguring them to fly in a manner for which they were not designed.

    “From our mission perspective, we are looking for solutions to allow our customers to save money in the target’s arena, so they can increase the amount of testing opportunities and ultimately be successful,” Manley said.

    “The SMDC Technical Center is at the forefront of providing the kind of missile defense testing capability to really save the Army a lot of money on its targets,” Manley added.


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  • Army completes migration to DOD Enterprise Email

    Personnel at the Defense Information Systems Agency command center at Fort George G. Meade, Md., March 13, 2013, keep constant watch over global operational networks and computing centers. This enabled the Department of Defense Enterprise Email system to reach one million users March 12, 2013. Reaching this milestone meant that DEE became one of the largest independent e-mail systems in the world. (DoD photo by Thomas L. Burton/Released)

    By Margaret McBride

     

    WASHINGTON — The Army successfully completed the bulk of its migration to one of the Army’s highest priority IT initiatives, DOD Enterprise Email, at the end of July.

    Army users can now access their email securely from anywhere in the world at any time.

    This effort began in January 2011 and improves operational effectiveness, security, and efficiency. Before migration, the Army spent considerable resources managing and securing disparate legacy email systems.

    More than 1.43 million Army users migrated on the unclassified Non-classified Internet Protocol (IP) Router Network, or NIPRNet, and 115,000 users on the classified Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. This includes Active Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Army Medical Command, and Army civilians and contractors. The Joint Staff, Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. European Command have also migrated to DOD Enterprise Email, or DEE.

    “I want to thank our mission partners around the world who helped us reach this milestone,” said Mike Krieger, the Army’s Deputy Chief Information Officer/G-6. “It’s been a learning experience for all of us, the Army, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, the Defense Manpower Data Center, industry, and other IT professionals.”

    DISA, the service provider, hosts the DEE’s cloud-based email, calendars, and supporting global address list, or GAL. The Defense Manpower Data Center provides a data feed to the GAL.

    With enterprise email, the Army greatly increases management and control of IT resources and improves execution and performance of IT services. The DEE also eliminates inefficient network configurations and many administrative costs, freeing resources for other priorities.

    The Army is saving $76 million in fiscal year 2013 and expects to save $380 million through 2017.

    DEE is the first DOD service to use a single authoritative identity management capability that is foundational for moving to other IT enterprise services such as collaboration, content management, and an enterprise service desk. Identity credentials embedded in Common Access Card, or CAC, and public key infrastrure, or PKI, cards guarantee the identity of all DOD personnel and greatly improve security.

    More than 43,000 participants from across the Army are currently participating in the Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration Services, or ECMCS, pilot. Begun in May 2013 and running through January 2014, the pilot is evaluating content management and records management services using the DOD Enterprise Portal Service, a DISA hosted and managed solution for enterprise collaboration. The pilot will inform an acquisition decision for enterprise services.

    The Army also plans to roll out Unified Capabilities, or UC, the integration of real-time communication services that include finding people online and communicating instantaneously over text, voice, and video. UC bridges the gap between Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, and other computer-related communications technologies. A request for proposal is planned for fiscal year 2014.

    “We are leveraging lessons learned as we implement other enterprise services,” said Krieger. “We’ve still got plenty of work left to institutionalize DEE and enterprise services in general.”

    The Army DEE team has shifted to sustainment operations, continuous improvement through performance metrics, and re-engineering enterprise business processes. In addition, the team is migrating personnel who had deferrals or extensions.


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  • ARL, Purdue research of 3-D printing to fix damaged on-the-spot in combat zones, cut maintenance cos

    ARL: Topological Interlocking Structures

    By T’Jae Gibson,
    Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — New technology being developed by research engineers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Purdue University will soon help just about any Soldier deployed in far-off locations to immediately spot and fix damaged aircraft and ground vehicle parts.

    Researchers found that combining the general purpose, finite-element analysis software ABAQUS with Python, an open-source code used to optimize logical structures such as topologically interlocked structures, improves energy absorption and dissipation, productivity and lower maintenance costs.

    The combination of ABAQUS and Python provides an automated process for auto-generation of the geometries, models, materials assignments and code execution, said Ed Habtour, a research engineer with ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

    He said the code is developed to assist designers with tools to model the new generation of 3-D additive manufactured and TISs structures.

    “The benefit for the Soldier is an after-effect. The TIS would provide an excellent energy absorption and dissipation mechanism for future vehicles using additive manufacturing, Habtour said. “Subsequently, the Soldier can print these structures in the field using additive manufacturing by simply downloading the model generated by the designer/vendor.”

    The research team developed logical structures from the mini-composition of tetrahedron-shaped cells in existing materials, an approach ARL research engineers say is a vast departure from the military’s tendency to build new materials to meet existing problems.

    “Traditionally, every time the U.S. Army encounters a problem in the field the default has been to develop new and exotic materials. Using logical structures can be effective in solving some critical and challenging problems, like the costly and time-consuming certification process that all new materials must face,” Habtour said.

    This logical structure is based on principles of segmentation and assembly, where the structure is segmented into independent unit elements then reconfigured/assembled logically and interlocked in an optimal orientation to enhance the overall properties of the structure, Habtour explained.

    The researchers are focusing on topologically interlocked structures using VTD’s 3-D additive manufacturing approach to build 2-D and 3-D structures based on cells in the shape of Platonic solids.

    Habtour said new structures created from this process are designed to be adaptive and configurable to the harsh conditions like random and harmonic vibrations, thermal loads, repetitive shocks due to road bumps, crash and acoustic attenuation. An added bonus he said is that these structures are configured to prevent crack propagation.

    “Sometime in the near future, Soldiers would be able to fabricate and repair these segmented structures very easily in the front lines or Forward Operating Bases, so instead of moving damaged ground or air vehicles to a main base camp for repair, an in-field repair approach would essentially mean vehicles would be fixed and accessible to warfighters much faster at lower costs,” said Habtour. “We want to change the conventional thinking by taking advantage of exciting materials and manipulating the structure based on the principle of segmentation and assembly.”

    ARL is working closely with project managers at The U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. Discussions are already underway to transition this work to AMRDEC and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center developmental programs.

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  • Collaboration leads to new rocket propulsion technology

    A team of Army researchers developed a new gel-propellant engine called the vortex engine. (Photo Credit: AMRDEC)

    By Tracie Dean, U.S. Army Research Laboratory

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 5, 2013) — A team of Army researchers developed a new gel-propellant engine called the vortex engine.

    Michael Nusca, Ph.D., Robert Michaels and Nathan Mathis were recently recognized by the Department of the Army with a 2012 Army Research and Development Outstanding Collaboration Award, or RDA, for their work titled, “Use of Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Development and Testing of Controllable Thrust Gel Bipropellant Rocket Engines for Tactical Missiles.”

    Nusca, a researcher in Army Research Laboratory, or ARL’s, Propulsion Science Branch at Aberdeen Proving Ground, explained the new technology.

    “Gelled, hypergolic propellants are swirled with the combustion chamber to promote mixing and combustion,” Nusca said. “Traditionally, Army missiles used on the battlefield utilize solid propellant in the rocket engine. These engines require an ignition source and once initiated cannot be throttled without special hardware, both of which add weight to the engine. Liquid hypergolic propellants ignite on contact without an igniter and the engine can be throttled by regulating the propellant flow. In addition, if the propellants are gelled, the storage tanks have been shown to be insensitive to attack, unlike liquids that can explode when the container is punctured.”

    This new engine was developed with Michaels and Mathis, both researchers at the Aviation Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, which is one of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s, or AMRDEC, elements located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

    “At AMRDEC, the propellants, injection systems and engines were developed and test fired, while at ARL the physics of propellant injection, combustion and engine operation were modeled using supercomputers,” Nusca said. This modeling included both current engine and fuel designs as well as proposals for design alternatives aimed at enhanced performance. The synergism of research between the two labs proved the technology worked according to design.”

    “This award recognized the cooperative effort between the ARL-WMRD, or Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, and the AMRDEC-WDI, or Weapons Development and Integration, in maturing a new rocket engine technology for Army tactical missiles.”

    Commenting on the impact this body of work could have on the operational Army, Nusca said, “This technology has the potential for game-changing impacts on the future of small, selectable thrust rocket engines for Army tactical missiles, as the main propulsion system, as well as strategic missiles as a course correction system. AMRDEC and the Program Executive Officer for Missiles and Space have direct uses for this technology.”

    The primary use and application of this technology has been on the battlefield.

    “Eventually the Soldier will have access to a tactical missile on the battlefield that can be used for a variety of missions due to the selectable thrust capability,” Nusca said.

    Nusca believes this technology has other applications that will also produce significant results for missile systems.

    “The next step for this type of technology would be a full-scale flight test of the vortex engine at AMRDEC for a particular missile system. This test would extend the successful engine test-stand firings and computer modeling and demonstrate increased missile range and thrust modulation in flight,” Nusca said.

    The RDA awards recognize outstanding scientific and engineering achievements and technical leadership throughout the Army’s commands, laboratories, and research, development and engineering centers.

    Nusca was thrilled to have received the recognition by the Army for the team’s work.

    “Receiving this RDA for cooperation makes me feel proud to be a part of ARL and AMRDEC efforts to produce basic and applied research that is increasingly relevant to the Soldier to whom we owe the best battlefield technology that we develop,” Nusca said.


    • ARL is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

      RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, or AMC. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness, technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment, to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.


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