Adaptive zoom riflescope prototype has push-button magnification

A member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, left, demonstrates the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles prototype developed at Sandia National Laboratories. (Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

A member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, left, demonstrates the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles prototype developed at Sandia National Laboratories. (Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Oct. 22, 2014) — When an Army Special Forces officer-turned engineer puts his mind to designing a military riflescope, he doesn’t forget the importance of creating something for the Soldiers who will carry it that is easy to use, extremely accurate, light-weight and has long-lasting battery power.

Sandia National Laboratories optical engineer Brett Bagwell led the development of the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles, or RAZAR, prototype. At the push of a button, RAZAR can toggle between high and low magnifications, enabling soldiers to zoom in without having to remove their eyes from their targets or their hands from their rifles.

“The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you’re interested in at low magnification and, without getting lost, zoom in for more clarity,” Bagwell said.

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Natick studies link between body armor fit, performance

Rachel Terveer measures a Soldier's cross body reach as part of a study at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center that seeks to understand the link between body armor fit and Soldier performance. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

Rachel Terveer measures a Soldier’s cross body reach as part of a study at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center that seeks to understand the link between body armor fit and Soldier performance. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 9, 2014) — Body armor has saved countless lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, but an Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, that doesn’t fit properly can actually hinder a Soldier’s performance in combat.

That’s why members of the Anthropology and Human Factors Teams at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are conducting a range-of-motion and encumbered anthropometry study to better understand the link between fit and performance with the IOTV Gen III.

“We have this belief that if the fit of the body armor is really good, then the performance is going to be maximized,” said Dr. Hyeg joo Choi, the principal investigator for the study. “So the question is, how can we quantify a good fit so that Soldiers’ performance is maximized?”

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Engineers test bio-fuel in helicopters

During an April 1 test flight, a UH 60A Black Hawk utilizing an Alcohol to Jet bio-fuel blend performs maneuvers above the Redstone Airfield. (U.S. Army photo)

During an April 1 test flight, a UH 60A Black Hawk utilizing an Alcohol to Jet bio-fuel blend performs maneuvers above the Redstone Airfield. (U.S. Army photo)

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Oct. 16, 2014) — The Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, in conjunction with the Redstone Test Center, has completed a historic test program demonstrating the effectiveness a bio-fuel commonly referred to as Alcohol to Jet, in two Army aircraft — a UH-60A Black Hawk and a CH-47D Chinook.

Tests were conducted as a part of a congressionally-funded program to determine whether jet fuel made from non-food stock corn could safely power rotary wing aircraft and perform to Army requirements. The effort was part of a broader Department of Defense strategy initiated in 2009 to reduce dependency upon fossil fuels. ATJ-blends provide a renewable alternative to current aviation fuels, and address the Army Energy Security Strategy and Plans mandate that the Army certify 100 percent of its air platforms on alternative/renewable fuels by 2016.

Bio-fuels are made from renewable sources, such as algae, sugar, switch grass, plant oils and wood. Isobutanol is an alcohol-based bio-fuel produced from non-food stock corn.

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Army, DOE studies may lead to unique armor technology

Argonne National Laboratory researchers use a six-circle goniometer to hold and rotate a sample being exposed to the Advanced Photon Source X-ray beam. (Department of Energy photo)

Argonne National Laboratory researchers use a six-circle goniometer to hold and rotate a sample being exposed to the Advanced Photon Source X-ray beam. (Department of Energy photo)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 20, 2014) — Army Research Laboratory scientists say they may be better able to develop novel armor technologies to improve protection levels for U.S. warfighters based on information from a recent Department of Energy study.

For the first time, American researchers observed and measured the dynamic deflection and failure of material fibers as they deformed under high impact and at high speeds during recent experiments at the Argonne National Laboratory, a national laboratory within the DOE.

“If we know at very high fidelity scales how and why an armor or armor material is failing, we may be able to come up with a new material or material response mechanism to circumvent the failure mode and, in turn, significantly increase the armor performance by eliminating this ‘weakest link’ failure mode,” ARL physicist Dr. Michael Zellner said.

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DOD honors Army Civilians for eliminating Syrian chemical weapons

The DOD recognized 45 U.S. Army Civilians for their efforts to destroy Syria's declared chemical weapons stockpile at an awards ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland Oct. 8, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

The DOD recognized 45 U.S. Army Civilians for their efforts to destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile at an awards ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland Oct. 8, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 9, 2014) — Department of Defense officials honored 45 Army Civilians in a ceremony Oct. 8 who voluntarily deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.

U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center mission commander Tim Blades got up from his seat and walked across the stage without looking at the handful of DOD stakeholders sitting to his left. He didn’t look out to the nearly 500 friends, families and colleagues sitting offstage to his right either. When he reached the podium, he looked only at the 45 honorees sitting in the front rows.

“I think I’d rather be out at sea,” he said with a laugh. It wasn’t like Blades to feel comfortable in the spotlight. Instead, he directed the attention to the crew of which he said he was simply a part.

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Alan Estevez, presented 12 Meritorious Civilian Service Awards and 33 Superior Civilian Service Awards to members of the multi-agency team that completed the historic mission.

“Today’s ceremony is an example of how science and technology, combined with a world-class workforce and the great teamwork of all you players out there, can deliver unique capabilities to our nation,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. “To me, it’s another great example of rapid acquisition process to meet the operational needs of our nation.”

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Army aerospace engineer living life fully in France

In southern France, rugby is king. The Quinn family - Melinda, David, Charlotte and Rachel - have embraced the game, becoming fans of the Stade Toulousain rugby team.

In southern France, rugby is king. The Quinn family – Melinda, David, Charlotte and Rachel – have embraced the game, becoming fans of the Stade Toulousain rugby team.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Department of Defense Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program expects Americans selected for the program to be immersed in a foreign professional environment. 

Selectees must be able to passably speak the local language that is needed to thrive in the local culture.

David Quinn, an aerospace engineer from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is now experiencing the south of France as an ESEP participant. 

“I’m an engineer, so I hardly master my own native language,” Quinn joked, “and learning French has been a struggle. My inability to master French was particularly challenging when first arriving and trying to get settled into a new place.

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Natick’s cognitive science research helps steer Soldiers in the right direction

Photo Credit: David Kamm Dr. Tad Brunye guides a Soldier participating in a navigation virtual reality exercise at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. Brunye, who is on the Natick Cognitive Science Team, is investigating various influences on choices people make when choosing a route.

Photo Credit: David Kamm
Dr. Tad Brunye guides a Soldier participating in a navigation virtual reality exercise at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. Brunye, who is on the Natick Cognitive Science Team, is investigating various influences on choices people make when choosing a route.

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 2, 2014) — When the going gets tough, Dr. Tad Brunyé wants to help. A member of the Cognitive Science Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Brunyé is investigating spatial and non-spatial influences on Soldier navigation choices.

Spatial influences pertain to things in an actual space, such as topography, local and distant landmarks, or the position of the sun. Non-spatial influences are a little harder to define and can include a Soldier’s emotional state, level of stress, mission and task demands, skills, abilities, traits, and his or her past experience in a geographical area, all of which can affect navigational choices.

“We are still trying to identify and characterize the full range of spatial and non-spatial influences and how they interact with emerging representations of experienced environments,” Brunyé said. “We all have our current mental states. So, you may see the same landmarks as I do, you may see the same topography that I do, but I might be in a very different state that leads me to interpret and use that same information in very different ways.

“How confident do I feel in my environment? Is there a history of enemy activity? Are there certain areas I want to avoid? Are there certain safe spots that I want to keep in mind? There is always interplay between what you sense in the environment, what you perceive, what you know, what you predict will occur, and ultimately how you act.”

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Army research team recognized at international nanotechnology conference

Researchers from ARL received the best conference paper award at the 14th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology held in Toronto, Canada, Aug. 18-21, for their paper entitled

Researchers from ARL received the best conference paper award at the 14th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology held in Toronto, Canada, Aug. 18-21, for their paper entitled “Gold Nanocluster-DNase 1 Hybrid Materials for DNA Contamination Sensing.” Team members shown (left to right) are Dr. Mark Griep, WMRD; Dr. Abby West, WMRD; Dr. Dan Cole, VTD; and Dr. Shashi Karna, WMRD. (U.S. Army photo by Joyce M. Conant)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 16, 2014) — Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory received the best conference paper award at the 14th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology held in Toronto, Canada, Aug. 18-21.

IEEE Nano is one of the largest nanotechnology conferences in the world, bringing together the brightest engineers and scientists through collaboration and the exchange of ideas. There were a total of 263 conference proceeding papers submitted for the conference; 180 oral presentations and 83 posters.

The winning paper was one of the seven finalists selected. It was entitled “Gold Nanocluster-DNase 1 Hybrid Materials for DNA Contamination Sensing,” and was co-authored and presented by Dr. Abby West, biochemist, ORISE postdoctoral fellow at the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.

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Army turns to researchers for future lethality

The September/October 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine focuses on lethality research. Download the current issue at the Army Technology Live blog.

The September/October 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine focuses on lethality research. Download the current issue at the Army Technology Live blog.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 2, 2014) — The Army of the future may have fewer Soldiers but more lethality thanks to research in precision, scalable effects and improved range.

“Our scientists and engineers are – and have been – redefining the art of the possible to make this enabling technology a reality,” said Dale A. Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. “Our strategy is to build from the Soldier out, equipping our squads for tactical overmatch in all situations.”

In the September/October 2014 issue of Army Technology Magazine, the Army showcases research and development efforts to maintain overmatch.

“The Army has global responsibilities that require large technological advantages to prevail decisively in combat – ‘technological overmatch,’” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno wrote for the Army’s official blog. “Just as airmen and sailors seek supremacy in the air and on the seas, Soldiers must dominate their enemies on land. Modernizing, especially as end strength is reduced, is the key to ensuring that the Army’s dominance continues.”

Experts predict an individual Soldier of the future armed with a 40mm grenade may have the same lethal effects as 155mm artillery.

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Disruptive Technology: How the Army Research Laboratory will change the future

Michael Zoltoski leads lethality research at the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Michael Zoltoski leads lethality research at the Weapons and Materials
Research Directorate within the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By Michael Zoltoski, ARL

Scientists are unlocking the mysteries of power, energy and lethality in the search for new materials and technologies. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory conducts fundamental research, which endeavors to provide revolutionary capabilities to the Army of 2025 and beyond.

In the science of lethality and protection, we face challenges as we look into the future and wonder what it will be like. We make predictions that guide the research of the underlying science that will have a significant impact 20 to 30 years into the future.

Our mantra is “assured delivery, overwhelming effects.” Our research focuses on ballistic science and builds upon ARL’s legacy as the world’s foremost expert in interior, exterior and terminal ballistics.

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Investing in the Army’s future

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or By David Mc Nall y, RDECOM Public Affairs HIMARS, fires a missile downrange. (U.S. Army photo)

The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, fires a missile downrange. (U.S. Army photo)

By David McNally
RDECOM Public Affairs

The U.S. Army vision for lethality science and technology investment is to enable overmatch in weapon systems for both offensive and defensive capabilities.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said attaining overmatch is critical to the Army of 2025.

“The Army has global responsibilities that require large technological advantages to prevail decisively in combat – ‘technological overmatch,’” Odierno wrote for the Army’s official blog in 2012. “Just as airmen and sailors seek supremacy in the air and on the seas, Soldiers must dominate their enemies on land. Modernizing, especially as end strength is reduced, is the key to ensuring that the Army’s dominance continues.”

To achieve that supremacy, Army researchers aggressively pursue technological overmatch.

“In lethality, overmatch means we can defeat the threat to maintain an advantage,” said Keith Jadus, acting director of the lethality portfolio for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “That means we have an advantage in every sense of the word. Overmatch is much bigger than lethality. We need to be able to see farther, reach farther and to ensure that our forces are protected outside the range and influence of the enemy.”

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Questions and answers with the Army’s senior noncommissioned officer

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III talks to Soldiers at an observation post at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn)

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III talks to Soldiers at an observation post at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 2, 2014) — Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III gave an exclusive interview to Army Technology Magazine on the future of lethality.

Army Technology: Even with all the firepower and lethality science and technology can offer, what is the Army’s best weapon?

Chandler: The best weapon we have in the Army is still the U.S. Soldier. He or she is also the most precise weapon that the Army has because of a combination of skills, experience and knowledge. A combination of the technology and the Soldier makes us superior on the battlefield and that’s what makes the Army strong.

Army Technology: How have you seen lethality evolve during your Army career?

Chandler: I’m a tanker by background, and when I came into the Army in 1981, I was on an M60A3 Passive Tank, and then I got upgraded to an M60A3 Thermal. When I went to Fort Carson after three years in the Army, I was on a 1964 model year tank. There was the onset of M1 series, then the Bradley series. Digitization has been one of the most significant upgrades that we’ve made in Armor. I can recall being at Fort Hood in the 4th Infantry Division when Force XXI came about with its digitization. However, I believe we need to do a better job of exercising digitization in the Army – we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s much more that we can do.

If you look at something as simple as gunnery for Bradleys and tanks, we don’t force the system to use the full capabilities of the Bradley of Abrams to ensure we place accurate and timely fires to utilize the capabilities of the architecture that is in the systems.

Army Technology: Do you see the role of Armor changing as we focus on increasing Soldier and squad lethality?

Chandler: I think we have a pretty good platform now in the Armor community with the M1A2 SEP Version 2. We’re looking at a SEP Version 3, which provides even greater capabilities. I think the focus on the Soldier is correct because we have all of this technology in our Armor platforms where it’s easiest to carry and manipulate. But, in the Infantry Brigade Combat Team, we have a lot more work to enable the network within the individual warfighter.

I know we are working to give individual Soldiers some of the firepower formerly available only from Armor or crew-served weapons, but there will always be a need for Armor. Over the past 13+ years, we’ve become very good at counter-insurgency operations, but doctrine says we must also conduct unified land operations. We need to remain proficient as an Army with combined-arms maneuver – going out and fighting near-peer competitors with tanks, Bradleys and Artillery. We cannot assume that our next war will be fought the same way as the last one.

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Commentary: Future Lethality

Director's Corner: Dale A. Ormond, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

Commentary by Dale A. Ormond
Director, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command

The Army of the future will have fewer Soldiers but will be more lethal. Technology will make that possible, and our scientists and engineers are – and have been – redefining the art of the possible to make this enabling technology a reality.

The Soldier and squad are the foundation of the Army. Our strategy is to build from the Soldier out, equipping our squads for tactical overmatch in all situations. They will connect to an integrated network to give them greater awareness and increased speed for decision-making beyond their adversaries, and they will operate in vehicles that make them more mobile, more lethal, and at the same time, better protected.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is bringing solutions to these challenge at every point. From aviation to ground vehicles, our researchers and engineers at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and Detroit Arsenal, Mich., are developing and testing the best technologies to make ground and air vehicles more protective of our Soldiers while providing increased efficiency, affordability and lethality.

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Army tests safer warhead

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System fires a rocket equipped with an area effect warhead designed to replace cluster munitions in a test conducted April 3, 2014, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Lara)

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System fires a rocket equipped with an area effect warhead designed to replace cluster munitions in a test conducted April 3, 2014, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Lara)

By John Andrew Hamilton, ATEC Public Affairs

A guided rocket test conducted at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., April 3 saw the use of a new warhead designed to maintain military capabilities while reducing the danger of unexploded ordnance.

The new warhead being developed by the Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems program’s Alternative Warhead Project is expected to replace the cluster munitions being phased out by the U.S. military.

Cluster munitions are designed to disperse a large number of small grenade-like bomblets over a large area. While highly effective against area targets, all the bomblets don’t always explode and can remain on the battlefield for some time, posing a risk to civilians or servicemembers working in the area. This danger resulted in the United States banning the export of cluster munitions to allies and setting limits on their future use.

“At the end of 2018 our inventory is no longer usable, and there are constraints on its use today,” said Col. Gary Stephens, project manager for the Alternative Warheads Program. “The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, alternative warhead is the materiel solution replacement to meet that still remaining requirement for an area weapon.”

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Improved mortars

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. Rangers constantly train to maintain the highest level of tactical proficiency. (US Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk)

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. Rangers constantly train to maintain the highest level of tactical proficiency. (US Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk)

Redesign to help infantrymen become more lethal, safer

By John B. Snyder, Watervliet Arsenal Public Affairs

The U.S. Army has lightweight mortar systems, range and a significant amount of lethal and destructive fire to close-range combat. Why would anyone think about tweaking something that has already been proven very capable in training and in combat?

“It is all about our troops maintaining the competitive edge over potential adversaries,” said Wayland Barber, chief of the Mortars and Recoilless Rifle Branch at Benét Laboratories at Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y. “Even without funding for new weapons research, Army scientists and engineers are always seeking opportunities to improve weapons systems that are in the field.”

“No sooner than we field a new mortar system, our customers demand that we make it better in regards to extended range, increased lethality or capability, and reduced weight,” Barber said. “This triggers the entire Army research community, from those who improve the lethality of ammunition to those who design the delivery system, to work on parallel and converging fields of science to achieve a common goal.”

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Sophisticated simulations help researchers improve weapons

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Minisi (left) and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Holmes run through a simulation in the Simulated Weapon Environment Testbed, or SWeET at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. (U.S. Army photo by Erin Usawicz)

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Minisi (left) and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Holmes run through a simulation in the Simulated Weapon Environment Testbed, or SWeET at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. (U.S. Army photo by Erin Usawicz)

By Ed Lopez and Cassandra Mainiero, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs

As engineers design new weapons or modify existing ones, reducing time and money on development can be critical in providing Soldiers with improved weapons without undue delay.

A new sight may be planned for the M4 rifle, but how well does a prototype design work? Where would be the best place to mount it for the most accuracy and ease of use? Or new, nonlethal weapons may be needed, but will they perform as expected at different ranges?

Using a combination of artificial intelligence, cameras and computers loaded with ballistics data, engineers at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., have developed a testing environment that can help to answer many critical questions about the performance of existing weapons and new ones planned.

“People are surprised how realistic our simulated environments look,” said Keith Koehler, a mechanical engineer at the Weapons Technology Branch, part of the Weapons Software Engineering Center, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. “We had a few friends, who were deployed Soldiers, walk into the scenarios and you could tell to a degree that they lost themselves in the environment.”

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Army developing small missile for big mission

The Miniature Hit-to-Kill Interceptor was launched vertically and then conducted a series of maneuvers to demonstrate required performance while capturing data during tests conducted in May 2012 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Michael A. Smith and Louis A. Rosales)

The Miniature Hit-to-Kill Interceptor is launched vertically and then conducts a series of maneuvers to demonstrate required performance while capturing data during tests conducted in May 2012 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo by Michael A. Smith and Louis A. Rosales)

By Ryan Keith, AMRDEC Public Affairs

One of the world’s smallest guided missiles has a big job to do.

The Miniature Hit-to-Kill, or MHTK, guided missile is about 27 inches long, 1.6 inches in diameter and weighs just 5 pounds. It has no warhead. Rather, as the name implies, it is designed to intercept and defeat rocket, artillery and mortar threats with kinetic energy during a direct hit.

The Aviation and Missile Research Engineering and Development Center is currently developing, fabricating and demonstrating MHTK as part of the Extended Area Protection and Survivability Integrated Demonstration, or EAPS ID. In June, the Army announced plans to complete development of MHTK, proposing a five-year follow-on contract with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control to complete missile development.

“The technologies being developed and integrated at AMRDEC are truly revolutionary,” said Loretta Painter, AMRDEC EAPS program manager.“The level of miniaturization being achieved with respect to seekers, sensors, control actuation, and electronics packaging is remarkable. Missile components of this size and functionality have never been developed and flight demonstrated; until now.”

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Army’s solid-state Laser testbed undergoes trials

This beam director was used for the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser and has been reformatted to support the Solid State Laser Testbed Experiment at High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo)

This beam director was used for the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser and has been reformatted to support the Solid State Laser Testbed Experiment at High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (U.S. Army photo)

By Jason B. Cutshaw, SMDC

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command has used a solid-state high-energy laser testbed to engage and destroy threat representative targets in tactical scenarios.

The Solid-State Laser Testbed, or SSLT, is part of an Army test designed to investigate military applications and validate the operational utility of high-energy lasers. Results from testing in April have confirmed that solid-state lasers can negate unmanned aircraft vehicles and rocket, artillery and mortar threats in flight.

“The Army-Northrop Grumman team put in a lot of work to complete these impressive demonstrations,” said Richard P. De Fatta, director of theSMDC Emerging Technology Directorate. “We still have a lot of lethality and performance data to collect for model refinement, but the success of these demonstrations represent extremely important technical milestones. These demonstration results reduce overall program and technical risk while increasing confidence in the community that we can deliver this revolutionary capability to our Soldiers.”

SSLT will be used to evaluate the capability of a high-energy solid-state laser to accomplish a variety of missions. Those results will be the basis for directing future development of solid-state lasers for use on the battlefield.

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Lethality on a Beam of Light

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, is the result of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command research. (Photo by Eric Shindelbower)

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, is the result of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command research. (U.S. Army photo by Eric Shindelbower)

U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command researchers explore high-energy lasers

By Charles LaMar, SMDC Technical Center

High-energy laser research has been ongoing since the 1960s. But the Army is now getting to the point where demonstration systems are shooting down mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles with high-energy lasers.

“This is a future capability for our Army,” said Keith Jadus, acting director of the lethality portfolio for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “When you deal with what we call disruptive technology, where the capability is so divergent from how we currently do business, we are required to consider more than just the lethal impacts. We must consider the doctrinal implications on how we fight in the future. Technology such as this creates opportunities to fight a different fight, and can impact the full spectrum of warfare.”

With high-energy lasers, Jadus said there is still a lot to work out.

“We recently had some impressive demonstrations using a commercial laser and supporting beam control, power, and thermal subsystems all integrated onto a mobile military truck, yet we still need to further mature the technology,” he said. “Our laser programs are achieving promising results in the laboratory, and we are developing support subsystems to enable long run-times at these laser’s higher power levels.”

As Army researchers validate the technology, officials remain optimistic about its potential.

The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, is the culmination of the Army high-energy laser technology development and demonstration program, according to officials. It is a completely contained HEL weapon demonstrator mounted on an Army truck with a significant track record for engaging and destroying mortars.

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Enhanced grenade lethality: On target even when enemy is concealed

Army engineers worked to integrate sensors and logic devices to scan and filter the environment and autonomously airburst the fuze in the ideal spot. (U.S. Army graphic by Chris Boston)

Army engineers work to integrate sensors and logic devices to scan and filter the environment and autonomously airburst the fuze in the ideal spot. (U.S. Army graphic by Chris Boston)

By Eric Kowal, ARDEC Public Affairs

How does the warfighter launch a grenade at the enemy and ensure it hits the target, especially when the enemy is in what is known as defilade, or concealment, behind natural or artificial obstacles?

Steven Gilbert and a team of about 10 engineers within the Joint Service Small Arms Program are trying to solve that counter-defilade puzzle, which also doubles the grenade’s lethality in the process.

Gilbert is a project officer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. The engineering team is in the final phase of a project known as Small Arms Grenade Munitions, or SAGM.

The goal is to provide warfighters with the capability of shooting a 40mm low-velocity grenade out of an M203 or M320 rifle-mounted grenade launcher–with the certainty that if their target is hiding under cover or behind an object, damage will still be inflicted.

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