Science and Technology
What is it? The goal of the Army Science and Technology (S&T) program is to achieve transformational capabilities that will enable the future force while pursuing opportunities to enhance current force capabilities. The Soldier remains the centerpiece of all Army S&T investments. The S&T community has demonstrated its Soldier focus in responding to demands of current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq by providing selected technologies for immediate limited fielding such as those to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Future Combat Systems (FCS) technologies, now in the Systems Development and Demonstration phase, remain the single largest S&T investment in the 2006 Budget.
What has the Army done? S&T Contributions to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) are enhancing the current force. Army S&T is always seeking opportunities to provide advanced technology to our Soldiers deployed to fight the GWOT:
- First, Soldiers benefit today from technologies that emerged from past investments. Since the mid-1980s, the Soldier Systems Center (Natick) has pursued advanced fiber technologies, in partnership with industry, to create lighter weight ballistic protection. This research produced the technologies to develop the outer tactical vest and components for the protective plate inserts that Soldiers deployed worldwide use today.
- Second, we exploit transition opportunities by accelerating mature technologies from on-going S&T efforts. Radio frequency (RF) jamming technology solutions from investments in our electronic warfare technology program have been incorporated into the family of Warlock systems being used to defeat radio controlled IEDs today.
- Third, we leverage the expertise of our scientists and engineers to develop solutions to unforeseen problems encountered during current operations. Engineers at the Army Research Laboratory and the Tank-Automotive Research Development Engineering Center have extensive experience in designing armor for the Army's combat vehicles. This team rapidly responded to a critical need by designing and demonstrating add-on armor survivability kits for high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) for enhanced survivability. These kits have been installed on over 13,000 HMMWVs deployed for GWOT.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? S&T contributes to Army Transformation by enabling the future force.
- Science and Technology for the Soldier. Army S&T supports the Soldier as a System (SaaS) concept where the objective is to equip all Soldiers with an integrated modular ensemble based on an open architecture that allows capabilities to be tailored for specific missions. For the future dismounted Soldier within the FCS Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), Army S&T is developing technology for the Ground Soldier System (GSS). Working closely with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and Program Executive Office - Soldier, S&T efforts focus on the Army's future SaaS requirements, that support the FCS strategy. SaaS S&T efforts also address technologies for the Mounted Soldier System, Air Soldier System, and Core Soldier System ensemble. The S&T program pursues a wide range of technologies to enable Soldier systems. These include:
- Technologies to provide individual Soldiers with platform-like lethality and survivability.
- Ultra-lightweight materials and nanotechnology to design material properties for optimum Soldier applications.
- Lightweight, long-endurance electric power generation and storage.
- Physiological status reporting and medical response technologies.
- S&T efforts in training and leader development include:
- Training management tools to improve effectiveness of interactive distributed training systems.
- Methodologies utilizing realistic synthetic experience to accelerate the development of critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills.
- Future Combat Systems. The key technology investments to enable the FCS system of systems concept include:
- Networked battle command systems to enable shared situational awareness and improved decision-making.
- Networked lethality through standoff precision missiles and gun-launched munitions.
- Enhanced survivability through networked lethality, improved sensors to locate and identify threats, signature management, and active and passive protection systems.
- Semiautonomous and autonomous unmanned air and ground systems.
- Low-cost, multi-spectral sensors to find and identify the enemy.
- Force Protection. The Army is committed to provide the best available technologies to protect our Soldiers. The interceptor body armor, electronic countermeasures (Warlock), and lightweight armor kits for our tactical vehicles represent a few of our force protection technologies transitioned to the warfighter. Other examples include:
- Acoustic and radar sensors for detecting and locating the source of rocket, artillery, and mortar fire.
- Infrared technology for countersniper operations, providing warning and locations for counter fire.
- Medical technology to protect Soldiers from endemic diseases and provide rapid treatment to save lives, such as the Chitosan bandage and the Combat Application Tourniquet System, as well as to provide guidelines to protect Soldiers against environmental extremes.
Beyond those technologies already contributing to the current force, we continue to make significant progress in maturing the sensor and kill mechanism technologies to enable active protection systems (APS). APS will significantly increase the survivability of lightweight platforms. We are funding both close-in and standoff protection systems to defeat chemical energy and kinetic energy munitions. In this past year, we have successfully demonstrated the ability to defeat rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) fired from very close ranges. The technologies successfully defeated RPG threats in two different scenarios: defeating a single RPG fired against a moving vehicle and defeating two RPGs fired nearly simultaneously at a stationary vehicle. We are sustaining investments in these technologies as well as advanced lightweight armors to provide an integrated survivability suite for FCS and other lighter weight combat systems, approaching protection levels available today only with heavy armor. We continue to pursue multiple technology solutions to identify and defeat IEDs from standoff ranges. Our work is synchronized across the Department of Defense through close coordination with the Joint IED Task Force.
- Unmanned Systems. The FCS-equipped BCT will be the first Army organization designed to integrate unmanned systems and manned platforms into ground maneuver combat operations. Army S&T is developing technologies for a family of unmanned and robotic capabilities that include unmanned aircraft systems, unmanned ground vehicles, unattended sensors, and intelligent munitions. The capabilities of these systems will be modular in design for rapid adaptation to changes in mission needs.
- Mobile Wireless Communications. The Army basic research program is establishing a new field of study in Network Science to perform research which will enable the development of robust, self-organizing, and mobile-to-mobile wireless communications networks for the future force. The objective is to provide rapid and survivable communications on the move capable of simultaneous speech, data, graphics, and video over distributed mobile wireless networks across the battlespace.
- Other S&T Initiatives. The Army's diverse S&T portfolio invests in a range of technologies to provide solutions across a spectrum of desired capabilities beyond those already discussed for the FCS and Soldier systems. These other initiatives pursue technology solutions to satisfy capability gaps across the entire force. Some of these other S&T initiatives are in areas of enduring and cross-cutting capability needs as listed below:
- Flexible displays to provide the Soldier with lightweight, compact displays that can be worn rolled up and stored and conform to structures.
- Lightweight, multi-mission equipment packages for unmanned systems.
- Immersive simulations and virtual environment technologies for a Soldier, leader, and unit mission rehearsal and training.
- Embedded prognostics and diagnostics to reduce logistical demands for materiel systems.
- Area protection from rockets, artillery, and mortars.
- Countermine technology for high operational tempo combat and survivability in stability operations.
- Alternative and variable lethality mechanisms including high power microwave, high power lasers, and electromagnetic guns.
- Biotechnology to obtain unprecedented performance and materials.
- Medical technology for self-diagnosing and treating uniform ensembles.
- Genomic, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) - based vaccines to sustain Soldier and unit combat effectiveness.
Why is this important to the Army? Today's investments in the Army's S&T program are our hedge against the uncertain future. These investments seek technical solutions that can be demonstrated in the near term, explore the feasibility of new concepts in the mid term, and pursue the imaginable for an uncertain far term. The dynamic and responsive S&T portfolio is focused to enable specific new capabilities in the future force while remaining agile to satisfy operational needs of the current force. Capabilities from Army S&T are key to winning the race for speed and precision that ultimately provides our Soldiers with unmatched warfighting capability.