Smart aircraft

Smart aircraft

A drone directed by one or more Soldiers through uncontested skies is a thing of the past. Army aviation is developing collaborative and intelligent systems for manned and unmanned fleets in contested air-space. by Mr. Kevin Kee Future warfare will present challenges to Army aviation assets not seen since the contested airspace of World War II. Communication, navigation and command-and-control systems will be degraded and jammed, and aircraft will encounter air defense threats with new capabilities. While sobering, these challenges offer an opportunity to leverage autonomy and teaming in both manned and unmanned aircraft. Army aviation uses a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability first fielded in 2009. This capability provides full-motion […]

Strength in architecture

Strength in architecture

Development of a government-led architecture specification promises to transform Army aviation mission systems. by Mr. Scott Wigginton and Mr. William “Bill” Jacobs Mission systems provide crucial elements of our warfighting capabilities—in the case of aviation mission systems, components integrated directly onto an air vehicle and encompassing traditional avionics (communications, navigations and displays, for example) as well as specific warfighting capabilities (weapons and sensors). Current methods of acquiring these systems, however, lead to duplication of effort and a multiplicity of requirements for different contractors providing essentially the same capability. The Aviation Development Directorate (ADD) of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Command (AMRDEC) is researching new methods […]

The artificial becomes real

The artificial becomes real

 A back-and-forth interplay of government and commercial funding and research has brought AI to the edge of a breakthrough. by Dr. Alexander Kott Few fields of technology are as paradoxical as artificial intelligence (AI). For one thing, since its official inception in the mid-1950s, AI has experienced multiple cycles of boom and bust. Time and again, AI would be proclaimed a miracle technology; an intense hype would build up and last for a decade or so, only to be followed by an equally intense disappointment and sense of abandonment. Similarly, human emotions around AI seem to run to extremes. Back in the 1950s, many a life was changed by fascinating […]

Wingman is first step toward weaponized robotics

Wingman is first step toward weaponized robotics

 The Army’s first armed and unmanned ground vehicle is in the works. by Mr. Thomas B. Udvare In 2014, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and the U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) teamed up to integrate a remote weapon system on a robotic vehicle to see if that system could become certified on a Scout Gunnery Table VI course, the same course used to train and qualify ground combat vehicle crews. The vehicle was a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), and its “brain” was the TARDEC-developed Robotic Technology Kernel. ARDEC contributed the prototype wireless system known as the Picatinny Lightweight […]

The next ground combat vehicle

The next ground combat vehicle

The next generation of Army combat vehicles will need to include manned, unmanned and optionally manned variants that include the most advanced protection, mobility, lethality and power generation capabilities to ensure that our Soldiers can survive first contact and defeat any adversary. by Mr. Andy Steel The modern battlefield has combined the air, land, sea, space, cyber and information battlespace into blended domains as simultaneous operations must be conducted over a dispersed battlefield. This requires the Army to design, equip and train forces capable of defeating adversaries with advanced capabilities to prevail in complex and multidomain environments. While the Army’s current fleet of ground vehicles maintains a tactical overmatch or […]

Keeping aircraft in the fight

Keeping aircraft in the fight

Working group identifies new suite of technologies to boost aircraft survivability. by Mr. Mark Calafut U.S. Army aviation faces a diverse threat environment, spanning broad categories of threats from ballistic munitions and guided missiles to directed energy and cyber weapons. It also spans generations of technology, ranging from constantly evolving sophisticated systems to widely proliferated legacy equipment. The modern threat environment presents both a technical challenge and a moving target to Army aviation. Historically, the science and technology (S&T) community has played an important role in developing advanced technologies to outpace the evolution of the threat. In an increasingly challenging threat environment, S&T is now even more critical. This has […]

A better ‘reality’

A better ‘reality’

Technologies to enhance what Soldiers ‘see’ in complex, congested environments promise to improve the information available to make decisions quickly.  by Dr. Richard Nabors, Dr. Robert E. Davis and Dr. Michael Grove Information overload! How many people have suffered from the feeling? A 2009 study, published by the University of California, San Diego, stated that an average American in 2008 consumed an average of 34 gigabytes of information every day from more than 20 different sources. And this was before the smartphone became ubiquitous. Such a deluge of information could overload even a powerful computer, let alone the average American. As information technology has become more available to the military, […]

A FLIR for Innovation

A FLIR for Innovation

Moving objects appeared as glowing blobs in early infrared vision equipment. Clarifying the picture so Soldiers could distinguish people from background objects, combatants from noncombatants, required imagination, initiative and information. by Dr. Richard Nabors and Mr. Nathan Burkholder Innovation isn’t just a matter of creating something new. Rather, it’s the process of translating an idea into goods or services that will create value for an end user. As such, innovation requires three key ingredients: the need (or, in defense acquisition terms, the requirement of the customer); people competent in the required technology; and supporting resources. The Catch-22 is that all three of these ingredients need to be present for innovation […]

Complex environments call for better sensors

Complex environments call for better sensors

Or multiple sensors that work better together  by Dr. Richard Nabors, Dr. Donald A. Reago Jr. and Mr. Nathan Burkholder War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty,” wrote Carl von Clausewitz in his 1832 treatise “On War.” The dictum still holds for modern warfare. Confusion, chance, chaos and resistance are as much factors in modern warfare as they were in Napoleonic times. Weather and terrain, misunderstandings and inaccurate intelligence, a creative and adaptive enemy and a civilian population in the battleground are just a few of the contributors to […]

It’s all about the science

It’s all about the science

It’s all about the science…and the people who do it, and the problems they solve.  by Mr. Steve Stark Winning in a complex world, the multidomain battlespace: These are extraordinarily complex concepts. How will the Army operate in an area that a peer or near-peer adversary has worked very diligently to make sure that the Army cannot operate in? How will the Army counter swarms of networked, unmanned systems? For Dr. Thomas P. Russell, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology (DASA(R&T)), envisioning and developing the capabilities and the technologies that the Army will need in five years or 30 years is not a job that […]