At the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, we understand how science and technology bring the power of American innovation to everything we do. I am proud that RDECOM researchers, engineers and support personnel provide our nation, both at home and abroad, the technology and capabilities to win anywhere, anytime.
The successful efforts of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center workforce using their technical skills and knowledge to design and build the Field Hydrolysis Disposal System, and then deploying with it to destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile, is an example of American innovation.
In the January/February 2015 issue of Army Technology Magazine, we hope to highlight how sensors are integrating into military gear and vehicles in ways that will empower, unburden and protect our Soldiers.
Greater situational awareness leads to improved threat detection in most battlefield environments. Future smart sensors will give us a decisive edge.
At the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, our Night Vision and Electronics Sensor Directorate is developing new technologies to provide Soldiers with unprecedented sight. Our researchers have expanded Soldier viewing capability in total darkness, even through battlefield obscurants.
We partner with the Program Executive Offices for Soldier; Intelligence and Electronic Warfare; and Command, Control, Communications-Tactical to transition this research into programs of record that can make an immediate difference in the fight.
RDECOM also works closely with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to move forward with the Multifunction Radio Frequency technology that will help Soldiers fight effectively in low-visibility environments. The MFRF has an onboard sensor system that helps Army aviators cope with brownout or whiteout conditions, thereby giving pilots the ability to prevent collisions with other aircraft, cables and power lines. This is critical research that will save lives and preserve our commanders’ combat power.
In the future, sensors will be everywhere. Army researchers are working on flexible plastic sensors that could be attached to individuals, gear or vehicles. With this technology, Soldiers will gather information on the chemical-biological environment, troop movements and signal intelligence.
For example, in Army weapon systems, future sensors will allow for pinpoint accuracy and scalable effects lethality in GPS-denied environments.
The Army of 2025 and beyond calls for advanced sensors that can locate and identify threats, enable protection systems to counter those threats and make it less likely an enemy will detect our vehicles.
Developing algorithms and software to manage the next wave of data coming from smart sensors continues to be a scientific challenge. Researchers are developing solutions to introduce a common architecture that our partners in industry will build upon, ultimately for a variety of platforms.
Our science and engineering partners at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command foresee the Soldiers of 2025 having sensors that help to detect and prevent threats such as dehydration, elevated blood pressure and cognitive delays from lack of sleep.
The Chief of Staff of the Army vision has mentioned, “Our modernization programs will remain centered on assuring the American Soldier remains the most discriminately lethal force on the battlefield. We will prioritize the procurement of proven technologies that enhance Soldier and unit lethality, their survivability, their mobility, and network functionality and improve our premier ground and air combat systems. Science and technology investments will seek to maximize the potential of emerging game-changing technologies.”
The science and technology efforts focused on developing and maturing smart sensor technologies enables the Army to continue to be the most versatile, agile, rapidly deployable and sustainable strategic land force in the world.
Editor’s note: Jyuji D. Hewitt is the RDECOM executive deputy to the commanding general. He previously served as executive director for support, Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq in Baghdad. Also, he was deputy to the commander and executive director for ammunition, U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. The Army selected him for the Senior Executive Service in January 2007.