What is it? The Army's Science and Technology (S&T) program is the investment that we, the Army, make in our future Soldiers. This program has to be as adaptable and responsive as our Soldiers in the field. The Army's S&T strategy is to pursue technologies that will enable the future force while simultaneously seizing opportunities to enhance the current force. To achieve this strategy, we are developing technology through investments in the three components of S&T:
Our technology demonstrations prove the concept, define the combat developments process, and provide the acquisition community with evidence of technology's readiness to satisfy system requirements.
What has the Army done? To enhance the current force, Army S&T is providing limited quantities of advanced technology prototypes to our Soldiers deployed to the fight. Operational security precludes the listing of S&T technology contributions to GWOT. From a top level perspective the S&T community supports the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) in three ways. First, Soldiers are benefiting today from technologies that emerged from past investments. Second, we are exploiting transition opportunities by accelerating mature technologies from on-going S&T efforts. Third, we are leveraging the expertise of our scientists and engineers to develop solutions to unforeseen problems encountered during current operations.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army’s largest S&T investments are in force protection technologies to detect and neutralize improvised explosive devices, mines, rockets, artillery and mortars; to protect vehicles and Soldiers, and to provide area/facilities protection. The Army’s other technology investments include command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), lethality, Soldier system, unmanned systems, logistics, and advanced simulation.
Army S&T is developing and demonstrating the sensors, and battle command software, hardware and devices for current and future C4ISR capabilities, the ability to collect and disseminate information. Sensors under development seek to provide Soldiers with the means to detect individuals, platforms and other threats at increasing stand-off distances and with greater fidelity. We are pursuing entirely new capabilities, such as through-the-wall sensors, mine and explosive detection, and the ability to detect, track and “tag” individuals. Proliferation of sensor technology demands improvements in data fusion to provide commanders and Soldiers with relevant situational awareness. We are developing the sensor and fusion technologies to be accessible across the force. The network will be enabled by high bandwidth directional antennas, networking software, decision tools, and information security algorithms.
Lethality technologies enhance the abilities of Soldiers and platforms to provide overmatch against threat capabilities. Major investment areas include Electromagnetic (EM) Guns, directed energy weapons, scaleable warheads and novel energetics for increased lethality, and lower cost guidance, control and munition seeker components. An EM Gun has the potential to reduce munitions logistics demands based upon electronic propulsion (vice chemical) and smaller and lighter-weight kinetic energy projectiles. Directed Energy (DE) technology investments focus on a solid state high energy laser demonstrator and high power microwave weapons. These DE weapons offer the potential to defeat rockets, artillery, and mortar munitions while providing precision area protection—reducing collateral damage. Future multipurpose warhead technologies for missiles and gun launched munitions seek to provide tailorable lethality effects.
S&T investments seek to enable TRADOC’s Soldier as a System (SaaS) concept where the long term objective is to equip Soldiers with an integrated modular ensemble (using an open architecture) providing mission tailorable capabilities. Working closely with TRADOC and Program Executive Officer (PEO) Soldier, S&T efforts focus on the Army’s future SaaS requirements for the Future Force. The S&T program is developing a wide range of technologies for SaaS. These include:
The goal of unmanned S&T investments is to provide technology that can unburden Soldiers from dangerous, routine, and long duration missions that do not require the full dimension of human capabilities. Technologies are being developed for unmanned aerial systems, unmanned ground vehicles, unattended sensors, and “intelligent” (automated functioning) munitions. Robotics technology has been fielded in a variety of applications to support the Global War on Terror. The S&T emphasis is on achieving more autonomy in unmanned systems through work to improve perception, mobility, “intelligent” vehicle control with less human supervision. These technologies include:
Logistics technology investments focus on increased reliability, durability and reduced maintenance for all systems and components. Embedded prognostics and diagnostics are being developed for dynamic monitoring of critical vehicle component and system “health” and reporting equipment status before a failure occurs. While pursuing operational and support cost reduction and increased performance, the technology program is also seeking to reduce fuel consumption. More capable (up to 15 tons) Joint Precision Air-drop technology is being developed enabled by GPS guidance and soft landing technologies to provide essential logistics. Specific logistics technologies include:
Advanced simulation technology investments seek to provide robust, networked, live, virtual, and constructive simulation environments that have the potential to enable revolutionary training, mission rehearsal, leader development, and weapon systems design technology developments. Investments in simulation technology provide the tools, techniques and analyses to speed the development of other technologies while enabling collaborative, distributed and Joint operational simulations.
The Army’s S&T funds a diverse portfolio of technologies to provide solutions across a spectrum of enduring capability needs. Some of these S&T initiatives are described below.
Key investments in basic research seek to provide new understanding in nanomaterials for ballistic protection, biotechnology for improved materials for network sensors, network science to enable next generation network-centric technologies, and immersive simulations for training and mission rehearsal.
Why is this important to the Army?
Sustained investments in S&T are essential to maintain our capability advantages in an ever changing global threat environment. Today’s current force has significant technology-enabled capability advantages as a result of the Army’s past investments in S&T. Examples include the development of technologies for night vision and precision munitions.