Science and Technology
What is it?
The Army's science and technology (S&T) investment strategy seeks to pursue technologies that will enable the future force while simultaneously seizing opportunities to enhance the current force. There are three types of S&T investments: basic research (discovery and understanding), applied research (laboratory technology components), and advanced technology development (technology demonstrations in relevant environment outside the laboratory).
Our technology demonstrations prove concepts, inform the combat developments process, and provide the acquisition community with evidence of technology's readiness to satisfy system requirements. The entire S&T program is adaptable and responsive to the needs of our Soldiers on today’s battlefield and provides technology lessons learned for future battlefield systems.
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 in the fight. These contributions have included force protection; command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); unmanned-systems; and medical technologies. From a top-level perspective, the S&T community supports the Global War on Terror in three ways: (1) Soldiers benefit today from technologies that emerged from our past investments; (2) we exploit transition opportunities by accelerating mature technologies derived from ongoing S&T efforts; and (3) we leverage the expertise of our scientists and engineers to develop solutions to unforeseen problems encountered during current operations.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army invests in a diverse portfolio of technologies and research to provide solutions across a spectrum of enduring capability needs. This portfolio includes force protection, C4ISR, lethality, medical, Soldier systems, logistics, unmanned systems, advanced simulation technologies; basic research; and manufacturing technology programs. The Army’s largest S&T investments are for force protection technologies. These technologies allow us to detect and neutralize improvised explosive devices, mines, rockets, artillery, and mortars; improve Soldier and vehicle survivability; and to enhance area and facilities protection.
C4ISR. We are developing and demonstrating technologies that speed the ability to collect and disseminate information from sensors through battle command software and hardware. C4ISR technologies include:
- Sensor development seeking to provide Soldiers with the means to detect individuals, platforms, and other threats at greater stand-off distances and with more fidelity.
- Through-the-wall sensors.
- Sensors for detecting,tracking, and “tagging” individuals.
- Data fusion technology to provide commanders and Soldiers with timely and relevant situational awareness.
- Networked sensors.
- High-bandwidth directional antennas, networking software, decision tools, and information security algorithms.
- Flexible displays to provide Soldiers with rugged, lightweight, compact displays for entirely new applications. This technology will enable conformal displays sufficiently flexible for attachment to individual Soldiers’ uniforms, compact display devices, and space- and power-saving vehicle applications.
Lethality. Among our highest priorities are investments that provide Soldiers and platforms with overmatch against threat capabilities. These lethality technologies include:
- Electromagnetic gun. The Army is pursuing electromagnetic-gun technology for increased propulsion of projectiles in indirect cannon fire. This technology uses large electrical currents rather than conventional propellants to accelerate a projectile. Such a gun could substantially reduce the logistics burden of artillery units through decreased projectile size and weight.
- Directed-energy weapons. Directed-energy investments focus on demonstrating solid-state, high-energy laser and high-power microwave weapons. These weapons could defeat rockets, artillery, and mortar munitions while providing precision area protection—reducing collateral damage.
- Scaleable-lethality warheads. Future multipurpose warhead technologies for missiles and gun-launched munitions seek to provide tailorable lethality effects.
- Novel energetics for increased lethality.
- Advanced precision guidance, control, and munition-seeker components.
Medical technology. Medical technology investments stress improving protection (inclusive of blasts from explosive devices), treatment, and life-saving interventions for Soldiers. This program has three components: infectious disease care (diagnosis, treatment, and prevention), combat casualty care, and military operational medicine under environmentally extreme conditions worldwide.
Soldier systems. S&T investments seek to enable the Training and Doctrine Command’s Soldier-as-a-system concept, which envisions Soldiers equipped with an integrated modular ensemble (using an open architecture) that provides mission-tailorable capabilities. Technologies to provide individual Soldiers with platform-like lethality and survivability include:
- Ultra-lightweight materials and nanotechnology to enhance Soldier protection from bullets, fragmentation, blast, and other lethal mechanisms
- Lightweight, long-endurance electric-power generation and storage
- Medical diagnostics, reporting, and intervention apparatus.
- Embedded and immersive training and mission rehearsal environments, as well as cultural awareness and translation tools
Logistics. Technology investments are also focused on increased reliability and durability, as well as reduced maintenance, for all systems and components. Embedded prognostics and diagnostics are being developed for dynamic monitoring and reporting of critical vehicle system and component “health.” With a view to cost reduction and increased performance, the technology program is also seeking to reduce fuel consumption. Progress on a system for precision air-drop delivery of up to 15 tons is being enabled by global positioning system guidance, ram-air parachutes, and impact absorption landing technologies. Specific logistics technologies include:
- High-efficiency vehicle power and drive drains for reduced fuel consumption and increased performance.
- Water recovery and purification systems.
- Petroleum fuel reformation technologies.
- Prognostics and diagnostics modeling, sensors, and signal processing.
- Technologies for reduced operations and sustainment demands for rotorcraft.
Energy and power:
- Electric and hybrid electric vehicle technologies have the potential to achieve significant reductions in fossil fuel requirements and the associated logistics burdens.
- Advanced batteries, capacitors, switches, generators, auxiliary-power units, fuel cells, and other devices will improve electric-power generation, storage, and conditioning efficiency to reduce Soldiers’ loads and equipment weight.
- Compact pulse power systems will also enable new capabilities such as electromagnetic armor or directed-energy weapons.
Unmanned systems. The goal of unmanned S&T investments is to provide Soldiers with new capabilities that can unburden them of dangerous, routine, and long-duration missions that do not require the full range of human capabilities. Technologies are being developed for unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, unattended sensors, and “intelligent” (automated-functioning) munitions. Unmanned systems have already demonstrated their ability to enhance Soldier capabilities in a variety of applications in support of the Global War on Terror. Another S&T target is greater autonomy (i.e., less human supervision) in unmanned systems for perception, mobility, and vehicle control. Unmanned systems technologies include:
- Algorithms for real-time object and terrain detection, classification, and identification.
- Algorithms enabling unmanned systems to act more independently during tactical maneuvers
- Passive- and active-sensor technology along with multi-spectral and robotic sensor fusion for higher-performance systems (e.g., vehicle speed, vehicle situational awareness).
- Intelligent agents, adaptive automation, and augmented and interactive displays to enable human-unmanned and unmanned-unmanned system operations.
Advanced simulation. Advanced simulation technology investments seek to provide robust, networked, live, virtual, and constructive simulation environments that could provide for revolutionary training, mission rehearsal, leader development, and simulation tools for designing and evaluating new technologies. Investments in simulation technology also provide the tools, techniques, and analyses necessary to enable collaborative, distributed, and Joint operational simulations.
Basic research. Basic research provides fundamental understanding that is the foundation for technology investment. The Army’s FY09 S&T budget requests increased funding for new research initiatives such as human, social, cultural, and behavioral modeling; modeling and analysis of complex, multi-scale networks; psychological wellness; and neuro-ergonomics, to understand how the brain functions in increasingly complex multi-task environments consistent with demands in the asymmetric environments (from civil disasters to combat).
Manufacturing technology program. Manufacturing technology program investments improve uniquely military manufacturing processes, with emphasis on increased reliability, production capacity, and affordability, as well as reduction in the attendant risks. These investments foster the transfer of new and improved manufacturing technologies to the industrial base.
Why is this important to the Army?
The technological sophistication required of the Army is constantly increasing with the increasingly broad nature of threats and the greater availability of technology to our adversaries. Much of the ongoing research by the Army can be classified as high-risk, high-payoff—the kind that the private sector is not likely to sustain over the “long haul.” Yet technological risk is inevitable if we are to achieve the technological breakthroughs conducive to dramatic performance improvements. One such breakthrough led to the Excalibur precision artillery munition that has virtually eliminated collateral damage to noncombatants. Today’s current force has significant technology-enabled advantages as a result of the Army’s past investments in S&T, particularly as regards night vision, precision munitions, and individual Soldier protection.