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Posts Tagged science
By Bruce J. Huffman, TARDEC Public Affairs
Army engineers from the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center at Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, are developing technology solutions for autonomy-enabled systems.
TARDEC and an industry partner, Lockheed Martin, demonstrated the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System or AMAS at Fort Hood, Texas in January 2014.
Researchers transformed ordinary trucks from the Army’s current vehicle fleet into optionally-manned vehicles, offering drivers new safety features and additional capabilities that never existed until now.
“These systems are designed, not to replace warfighters, but to help unburden them and augment their capabilities,” said Bernard Theisen, TARDEC program manager for AMAS.
By Jeff Sisto, NSRDEC Public Affairs
Wearable technologies may provide U.S. Soldiers with on-the-move, portable energy and reduce the weight of gear they carry into combat.
Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing Soldier-borne energy harvesting technologies.
During the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment, or MFIX, a combined, multi-phase joint training exercise held in September 2014 at Fort Benning, Georgia, researchers tested prototype energy harvesting technology solutions.
“My initial impression is that they fulfill a need for instant power generation on long-range missions when displaced from traditional resupply methods,” said Sgt. 1st Class Arthur H. Jones, an infantryman with the Maneuver Center of Excellence who participated in the demonstration.
by Dr. Gregory R. Hudas, TARDEC Ground Vehicle Robotics chief engineer
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is synergizing research centers and labs under its command to create a robotics community that will enhance the Army’s ability to employ autonomy-enabled vehicle technologies to support the Soldier in every aspect of their operational life.
The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Ground Vehicle Robotics division is spearheading that initiative for the RDECOM community to create a Robotics Community of Practice, known as the CoP. The new Robotics CoP will speak with one voice coming from RDECOM to provide a concise message to the Army and Department of Defense customers we support. It’s all about removing redundancy across programs and collaborating a lot more closely as an enterprise.
The community charter, which is in the early development stages, will eventually help lay out the roles and responsibilities for each research, development and engineering center, whether that is by enabling autonomy, platforms, capabilities or usage. The CoP will also strive to achieve critical missions that regularly demonstrate evolutionary technology advancements, provide long-term data collection, promote open architecture across all stakeholder communities and strengthen those stakeholder partnerships. RDECOM needs the CoP to seek collaboration with key partners from academia, industry and the other service branches and federal laboratories to develop these autonomy-enabled vehicle technologies, and then demonstrate those systems, subsystems and capabilities to the user community ― our Soldiers and Marines. Our collaborative partnerships are crucial for strengthening governance, standards and collective strategy moving forward.
By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs
Scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory gathered Sept. 10, 2014 to discuss ethical robots.
Dr. Ronald C. Arkin, a professor from Georgia Tech, roboticist and author, challenged Army researchers to consider the implications of future autonomous robots.
“The bottom line for my talk here and elsewhere is concern for noncombatant casualties on the battlefield,” Arkin said. “I believe there is a fundamental responsibility as scientists and technologists to consider this problem. I do believe that we can, must and should apply this technology in this particular space.”
By Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs
In popular culture, the idea of robots that perform human-like functions has a special hold on the imagination, based on real-life examples like space exploration, unmanned aerial drones and stoked by futuristic scenarios in movies like the “Terminator” series.
The military has used and experimented with robots that perform functions such as scouting and surveillance, carrying supplies and detecting and disposing of improvised homemade bombs.
However, when it comes to integrating lethality, such as a weapon capable of firing 10 rounds per second onto an unmanned ground vehicle, issues arise such as safety, effectiveness and reliability, as well as military doctrine on how much human involvement is required.
Robert Testa, the technical lead of the Remote Weapons Branch at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, recognizes the growing evolution in autonomous technologies and is focused on improving existing remote weapon technologies for manned and unmanned platforms, as well as fixed-site applications.
Testa, whose branch is part of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, said the term supervised autonomy strikes a contemporary balance between schools of thought that range between total human control (tele-operation) and researchers who are developing the technologies to enable robots to think for themselves.
Tele-operated means a human makes all the decisions regarding the activities of a remote platform, which is linked to the operator through a radio frequency or a physical link such as copper cable or fiber.
Regarding the term supervised autonomy, Testa said, “I believe that UGV and robotic platform developers apply the term supervised autonomy because not only do robust fully autonomous ground platforms still require substantial development, but it is essential that any UGV have the capability to react to command and control from a human operator under certain circumstances.
”This is similar to the addition of limited autonomy to RWS, but our primary focus has to be the robust, real time, tele-operation capability to ensure safe and effective weapon operation, regardless of the platform or application.”
The term – supervised autonomy – also reflects the current state of technology.
Testa favors the term unmanned ground vehicle, which can encompass either a tele-operated platform or a robot with varying degrees of autonomy, as a way to distill the mission of the remote weapons branch at Picatinny with respect to remote lethality.
“There are some areas where we and our partners are developing the capability to add degrees of supervised autonomy for weapon systems, but we recognize that you will always require real-time manned supervision of what the RWS is aiming at, what targets are engaged, and when that engagement takes place, i.e, trigger pull,” Testa said.
Army research into remote lethality complies with Department of Defense Directive 3000.09 ‘Autonomy in Weapon Systems,’ published in November 2012. The protocols reflect the current doctrine addressing all classes of remote and unmanned weapon operation designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.
“We can easily enable current generation remote weapon systems to aim and engage targets autonomously,” Testa said. “Yet current doctrine and the realization that current sensor and processor technologies would provide little or no assurance to what was engaged, keeps the real time tele-operation mode of weapons use at the center of what we develop and demonstrate today.
“Today’s current remote weapons systems are primarily developed and deployed as tele-op weapon systems, yet they inherently lend themselves as the starting point for the future of UGV lethality,” Testa continued. “The RWB is working to make remote weapons more remote.”
“The two primary facets of the RWB research are to develop advanced functional capabilities for the weapon system and the development of the system architecture and communications between the operator and the weapon, enabling development of extension kits that can support various transmission media such as radio frequency or a physical link such as optical fiber.”
Researchers are aware that the term remote weapon may evoke an image of something operating many miles away with a high degree of autonomy; however, remote could also mean a weapons system on top of a vehicle with the operator inside under the protection of armor.
At ARDEC, a remote weapon system is closely associated with something like the fielded Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, also known as CROWS.
CROWS is a stabilized mount that contains a sensor suite and fire-control software. It allows on-the-move target acquisition and first-burst target engagement. Capable of target engagement under day and night conditions, the CROWS sensor suite includes a daytime video camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinder.
CROWS supports the MK19 Grenade Machine Gun, M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, weapons originally designed for manned operation. The system has been integrated onto more than 20 platforms, from the HMMWV to the M1 Abrams tank.
Yet current-generation remote-weapons systems as CROWS cannot support other functions essential to making remote weapons more remote.
The ARDEC-developed Advanced Remote Armament System, or ARAS, has additional capabilities, such as an externally powered, purpose-built weapon to improve reliability and accuracy, the ability to load and clear the weapon remotely and an increased stowed ammunition load without decreasing aim or stabilization. It can also reload the weapon or change ammunition type without manned intervention at the weapon in approximately six seconds.
Also critical for future asymmetric engagements is the ability to change from lethal to non-lethal ammunition that ARAS provides. ARDEC has developed both 7.62mm and .50 caliber ARAS prototypes. The ARAS patents are owned by the U.S. Army, which enable cost-effective acquisition once future requirements are generated.
Although ARDEC does not develop vehicles or platforms for its weapons, it has used a tele-operated MS3 Ripsaw as a “surrogate platform” for the development of UGV lethality technologies, including wireless extension kits for CROWS, ARAS and other remote weapons systems.
These programs have culminated with the first unmanned ground vehicle Scout Gunnery Table VI experiment in November 2013 at Fort Dix, New Jersey. ARDEC also works with other government and industry partners to weaponize UGV platforms.
While some UGV functions may include such things as carrying equipment, surveillance or removing homemade bombs, their functions are not lethal in nature. But incorporating powerful weapons onto a UGV presents a number of technical challenges, including minimizing or eliminating latency.
Latency means delay or the time elapsed between using controls to initiate an action and when it actually happens. This is particularly critical when you have high-rate-of-fire weapons, Testa said.
Latency also applies to video, or the time elapsed between the images captured by a RWS mounted camera and when they actually appear on the screen of the operator.
“Latencies are bad, and they are technically challenging, especially video latency,” Testa said. “Our goal is to minimize video latencies as much as possible and we are targeting a maximum of 250 milliseconds, or quarter of a second.”
Testa said humans start to notice latency at around 250 milliseconds. “You start to sense, ‘I moved the joystick, but I didn’t see the reticle move right away.’ ”
Said Testa: “You want your video to be real-time as much as your controls are real-time. I pull the trigger, I want the gun to shoot immediately or close to it as possible, but I also want to know what I’m looking at as close to real time as possible.”
The lethal nature of a weaponized unmanned ground vehicle and the need to keep latency to a minimum are reasons that a robust connection from the operator to the remote weapon system is critical, whether that link is by radio, fiber or copper.
Testa said that when people hear about predator drones hitting their targets while the operator is halfway around the world, that may leave the impression that something similar can occur with remote weapons systems on the ground.
“They are using satellite communications with a fairly large latency,” Testa noted of such drones. “We’re shooting machine guns in a cluttered and asymmetric ground environment. That makes the problem a lot tougher in some ways. Drones are targeting for and launching one missile that has guidance to the threat. We are shooting dumb bullets at 10 per second, so we don’t have a lot of wiggle room.”
A futuristic vision of a fully autonomous robot that thinks and acts independently would essentially take human judgment out of the equation, and possibly without a real-time communications link to support supervised weapon operations.
“Where we are with the weapons side today is tele-op; I need to be able to talk to my weapon,” Testa said. “An autonomous UGV that could keep driving, increasing range, would lose that tele-op capability, in which case we would no longer have man-in-the-loop with the weapon—that is still unacceptable per DODD 3000.09. So currently we are constrained by radio function and that limits our range. Radio technology is also largely driven by the commercial market, and we need to keep an eye on our overall system cost.”
Testa said remote weapon systems require relatively high bandwidth and a continuous flow of data to the RWS so that it doesn’t result in continuous dropped messages, which could cause the system to reduce capability or shut down altogether.
“If a Soldier is engaging a threat to save himself and his buddies, he can’t afford dropped messages to the point that the weapon often stops shooting,” Testa said.
ARDEC engineers have been working on fiber and radio frequency extension kits that would increase the range of remote weapons systems.
“We believe that it’s very hard for somebody to decipher our messages to the point where the enemy could turn our systems against us even if they are not overly encrypted,” Testa said. “But we’re not currently addressing encryption methods, and the development of these capabilities lies outside of the expertise of the ARDEC remote weapons branch.
“It doesn’t mean certain degrees of encryption or jamming prevention couldn’t or shouldn’t be built in,” he said. “It is not our focus right now nor is it core ARDEC mission. Our mission is to address how an RWS behaves when a cable is cut or RF messages are temporarily lost.” The simple theory is, ‘When you lose the link between the operator and the weapon, the system will stop doing what it’s doing and won’t start doing something it’s not.’”
The technological sophistication of the enemy, or the theater of operations, would be factors to consider regarding encryption, jamming and frequency allocation, Testa said, but technical research dollars are too limited to engage in speculation about what a specific theater and battlefield scenario would require.
The ARDEC Remote Weapons Branch partners with other DOD organizations on the research, development and testing of technologies to add degrees of supervised autonomy for integration with advanced remote weapons systems.
The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center 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.
By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs
Future Army robotics systems will rely on open architecture, modular design and innovative concepts to perform missions from surveillance to wide area route clearance, according to Army officials.
“In the Army we always say, ‘never send our Soldiers into a fair fight,’” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Heidi Shyu said in the keynote address Aug. 13, 2014, to the National Defense Industrial Association Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Hundreds of industry representatives, researchers and engineers gathered for the event, which provided a forum for the industry and government to identify technologies that will help meet future warfighter needs.
By Jeffrey Sisto, NSRDEC Public Affairs
Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing technologies for a pocket-sized aerial surveillance device for Soldiers and small units operating in challenging ground environments.
The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, seeks to develop a mobile Soldier sensor to increase the situational awareness of dismounted Soldiers by providing real-time video surveillance of threat areas within an immediate operational environment.
While larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, none deliver it directly to the squad level where Soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions.
By Joyce P. Brayboy, ARL Public Affairs
Army researchers are finding they have much to learn from bees hovering near a picnic spread at a park.
Dr. Joseph Conroy, an electronics engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, part of the Research, Development and Engineering Command, works with robotic systems that can navigate by leveraging visual sensing inspired by insect neurophysiology.
A recently developed prototype that is capable of wide-field vision and high update rate, hallmarks of insect vision, is something researchers hope to test at the manned and unmanned teaming, or MUM-T exercise at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia. This project will give us a chance to implement methods of perception such as 3-D mapping and motion estimation on a robotics platform, Conroy said.
ECBC Public Affairs
Soldiers entering a building suspected of chemical contamination are exposed to an unpredictable environment with potentially hostile forces. Inconclusive information and a lack of concrete data make it difficult for them to make timely decisions during a critical mission.
Army researchers are working on technology solutions to give Soldiers key information to keep them safe from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives threats.
The future of chem-bio detection is wrapped in the evolution of technology, according to experts from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
The center is demonstrating advanced detection equipment for sensitive-site assessments where the threat is likely, but remains unknown.
By Ryan Keith, AMRDEC Public Affairs
Virtually all aircraft, from the Wright brothers first airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to the unmanned aircraft systems employed in operations today, share a common component: Pilots. Whether in the cockpit or through remote control, pilots have remained a critical component to aviation, until now.
Researchers at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center at Redstone, Alabama, are developing and demonstrating autonomous flight technologies that promise to change the future of aviation.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.