US DOD developing many innovation models to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century

CHINESE leader Xi Jinping has laid out his plans for world domination with a 30-year plan to transform the country and surpass the US to become the biggest global superpower. China is making rapid advancements in many technologies thus narrowing its gap with western world. Former US energy secretary Steven Chu has even observed that China is ahead of America in areas ranging “from wind power to nuclear reactors to high-speed rail”. China is also catching up fast in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, 5-G broadband technology and the “Internet of Things.” Some of its achievements include a gigantic 500m-aperture spherical telescope, the launch of the world’s first hacker-proof quantum satellite and the development of world’s fastest supercomputer – the new Sunway Tianhe-1A. China is also challenging US in many critical military domains like Space, Cyber, Air and Sea.

In November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new Defense Innovation Initiative, which included the Third Offset Strategy. Hagel said, “This new initiative is an ambitious department-wide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.”  The goal of  DII  was identifying new and innovative technologies that will be agile, flexible and ready to confront and defeat aggression from any adversary anytime, anywhere—with a smaller and leaner force structure. It aims to “pursue innovative ways to sustain and advance our military superiority for the 21st Century” by finding “new and creative ways to sustain, and in some areas expand, our advantages even as we deal with more limited resources.”

Department has launched two programs, DIUx [Defense Innovation Unit Experimental] and In-Q-Tel, intended to strengthen its collaboration with tech firms, entrepreneurs, and start-ups. DOD also launched crowdsourcing initiative  to try to inspire creative thinking inside and outside the department on some key operational challenges that face the U.S. military, and to try to contribute to the department’s ongoing third-offset efforts,” she explained.

ONR has launched an initiative , the Concept Challenge,  under which the organization is asking literally anyone who believes they have an idea for a technology that could help the Navy and Marine Corps deter conflict and win wars to submit one-page summaries for possible adoption into ONR’s research portfolio. Rear Adm. David Hahn,  head ONR said the criteria for the challenge is broad, by design: candidates could include anything from a brand new technology the Navy has not yet examined to new ways of combining existing systems that fit into future war fighting concepts.

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are working to address that challenge through a new effort – dubbed IMPAX (Innovation and Modernization Patuxent River) – that aims to accelerate the transfer of new technology to meet U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps needs. IMPAX staff members are empowered to work outside the standard acquisition process to find, develop, and prototype new technology more quickly.

IMPAX (Innovation and Modernization Patuxent River)

MPAX was launched in 2017 as an initiative of Rear Admiral Mark Darrah, program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons at NAVAIR, by working closely with the Technology Transfer Office at NAWCAD. The first initiative with the Navy is to identify technology that will help integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into air control systems by providing miniaturized identification friend or foe (IFF) systems. IFF systems are already used in piloted aircraft, but the much smaller unmanned aircraft lack the space or power for conventional systems.

“Traditionally the Department of Defense (DoD) has been limited in the means and speed at which it could bring new technologies to the warfighter,” said Rob “Radar” Winston, a GTRI principal research engineer who directs the IMPAX program near Pax River Naval Air Station in Maryland. “Our adversaries aren’t constrained by cumbersome procurement rules and regulations. Through this effort, we want to ensure that our nation’s warfighters get the best technology in the shortest time.”

IMPAX is empowered to seek out technology from sources the government doesn’t usually work with. These can include small- and medium-sized businesses, companies that don’t traditionally work with the military or bid on billion-dollar DoD procurements. Winston and his team work on the Navy’s behalf, matching warfighter needs with technology that may already exist – or that can be developed to meet the needs.

In one aspect, IMPAX team members will serve as technology scouts, scouring many sources of information to locate technologies of interest. They’ll be readily approachable, and won’t require extensive paperwork from companies and others wanting to pitch their technology for potential military applications. The overall activities will be directed by a joint GTRI/NAWCAD/NAVAIR team.

“If an individual or company has a great idea but they have never worked with the government before, that barrier to entry is very tall now,” he said. “They don’t know who to talk with, how to get involved in a program, or even how to get through the front gate of a military facility. We are going to be able to talk with these people to assess what they can contribute to the warfighter and do it all outside the gate and without the customary barriers.”

DoD agencies have their own research laboratories to help develop new technology, of course, but Winston’s group will tap other sources of innovation. For technology that’s promising but not quite ready for DoD use, IMPAX will fund brief research and development (R&D) initiatives – as short as three or four months – to determine whether a technology is worth pursuing. Pathways from there could include the traditional agency R&D laboratories.

The IFF capability for unmanned systems is just one example of an ongoing IMPAX project. Another initiative is looking at the use of augmented reality to support maintenance and training programs. By combining 3-D computer-aided design files with mixed reality glasses, the technology could help maintainers identify a problem, locate components hidden within an aircraft, and train new personnel more quickly.

“Technology already exists for these projects, but it would take a long time to actually get them to the fleet using traditional acquisition timelines,” said Winston. “We can help develop the capability, get it to the Navy who can then get it out to the warfighter quickly. We’ll run as fast as we can with a project and give our warfighters the edge by getting the latest technology to them – today.”

DoD Crowdsourcing Effort Produces Innovative Operational Approaches

The Operational Challenges Crowdsourcing Initiative was launched  to inspire creative thinking inside and outside the Defense Department on key operational challenges has produced two primary submissions and several others that will be presented for consideration directly to top officials in the department.

“We knew that there was a lot of creativity and experience out there amongst operators, academics, technologists, researchers and others that wasn’t being drawn upon because there’s not really a mechanism for [getting] their ideas directly to senior leaders inside the Pentagon,” Mara E. Karlin, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development said.

The project was intended to provide that access, she added, to take the best ideas, wherever they came from, and connect the ideas to leaders who are in a position to effect change. “We pulled these together based on our thinking about the challenges the U.S. military will face as we look to future conflicts — the things that worry us — and we posed five questions,” she said.

The questions were as follows:

1. How can the U.S. military more effectively and efficiently project power in the face of massed or mobile precision attacks — for example, cruise and ballistic missile salvos and swarming?

2. Given current U.S. global military posture and potential changes in the character of war, how must future U.S. operational battle networks change to accomplish counter-power projection operations in contested theaters against large state adversaries?

3. How must joint force operational and organizational constructs change to allow combat operations involving multi-domain battle against adversaries with battle network/guided munitions parity?

4. How must joint force operational and organizational constructs change as adversaries exploit crowdsourced information and commercially available intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies such as drones and commercial space systems?

5. How can the U.S. military ensure that the speed of its decision-making continues to keep pace with the accelerating speed of action on the battlefield due to automation, artificial intelligence, hypersonics, cyber weapons and other factors?


The two top proposers met with senior departmental leaders yesterday, and, she added, “we’ve told [Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work] about their work and have given their proposals to him.”

One proposal was developed by two researchers at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. Timothy A. Walton and Ryan Boone proposed specific changes in posture and investment priorities that could improve the U.S. military’s ability to conduct sustained operations in the Asia Pacific.

“This fell into that first operational challenge, Karlin said, adding, “At the strategic level we say the U.S. military must be able to project power and win decisively, must be able to go anywhere, be anywhere at any time, and their proposal very much focused on that as they were thinking about logistics throughout the Asia-Pacific [region]

The second proposal, by Army Maj. Christopher M. Baldwin and Army Capt. Nicholas W. Cimler, was for an innovative operational concept for amphibious assault.

“What was neat about theirs is that they were thinking about how you modernize amphibious assault, how you project combat power over the shore, and they were thinking about autonomy and how we can use it smartly … particularly as we think through denied or degraded environments,” Karlin said.

“Using autonomy for logistics makes a lot of sense and … what’s particularly interesting about that is it doesn’t just have an operational impact, it can influence how you think strategically about a challenge,” she added. This proposal straddled the first and second operational challenges, projecting power and thinking about future operational battle networks because logistics is such a key node in battle networks, Karlin said.


Defense Innovation Initiative

Many of the technologies the DoD will depend on in future will come from outside the DoD. The declining military budgets, the industry is investing less in new technology and increasingly depend on the global market for innovation. “We must be open to global, commercial technology as well, and learn from advances in the private sector,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told the House defense appropriations subcommittee.

The DII was launched to harness the brightest minds inside and outside the DoD to identify current and emerging technologies, or projections of technology-enabled operational concepts. The goal is to accelerate the critical thinking, technical excellence and the business practices to support them that will allow us to improve our “speed to market” in the following areas: People, Wargaming, New Operational Concepts, Business Practices, and a Long-Range Research and Development Program Plan (LRRDPP).


Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx.

The military has formed new group under the U.S. Department of Defense, called Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx. With an office in Silicon Valley and in several other tech hubs across the U.S., the mission of DIUx is to bridge the different cultures of tech startups and the U.S. military to meet national security needs.

Many of these small innovative commercial firms lack knowledge about defense systems, organizations, and problems that could benefit from their products and technology, and that is why we have made investments in activities like DIUx in Silicon Valley as a way to help match DOD customers with some of those potential sources of advanced capabilities that are rising from the commercial enterprises, says DOD.

Since its inception 18 months ago, DIUx has worked with more than 30 tech companies from across the U.S. and the globe. The technology ranges from robot sailboats to small satellites.

“As a broad statement, government systems are very poorly secured. As a broad statement, government systems are not using the latest forms of operating systems, encryptions and mechanisms,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. “Technology is always changing and if you have only legacy equipment, that actually gives the bad guys more time to figure out what the vulnerabilities are. If we’re constantly evolving, it’s a cat and mouse game between attackers and defenders and we want to be on the winning side of that,” said Shah.

An immigrant from Iran, Banazadeh  builds a special kind of satellite that allows its user to take imagery, even through clouds and at night. What makes it unique is its size. It is just a bit bigger than a shoebox. Unlike the military that builds massive satellites, Capella Space can build satellites that are smaller, cheaper and faster than traditional military satellites. “We like to work with the government because we think we can help the government save money, bring a capability that doesn’t exist, and through that hopefully save some lives,” said Payam Banazadeh, co-founder and chief executive officer of Capella Space.

“The innovative ecosystems will be very good at certain types of technologies and products and we should play to their strength. They’re not the answer to everything. We don’t expect the next company out here to build the next fighter jet. But they may build some of the software that sits on it,” said Shah.

Long-Range Research and Development Program Plan (LRRDP).

US DoD has turned to grassroots innovations by developing a Long-Range Research and Development Program Plan (LRRDP). The LRRDPP wants to attract IDEAS from across the defense industrial base, commercial industry, government and individuals to identify the “art of the possible” for future National Security systems.

Stephen Welby, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering said, “We’d like to think now about how we could prepare, how we would think about harvesting science and technology to enable new systems. We’re trying to imagine the systems that the department will need in the future, and then asking “what do we need to do to identify and accelerate technologies that will help us get there.”

The five main focus areas of the program are Air, Missile and Precision Guided Munition Defense, Air Superiority, Space, Undersea and Emerging Technologies. Teams of government technology experts will assess ideas leading to new capabilities that can provide the U.S. with significant advantages to the Department’s capabilities in the 2025-2030 timeframe.

This idea has to fall into one of three categories:
1. Relatively mature technologies that may be applied in novel or unique ways to field a fundamentally different type of system capability

2. Emerging technologies that can be rapidly matured to offer new military capability

3. Technologies under development for, or being applied in, non-defense applications which can be repurposed to offer a new military capability

The LRRDPP team consists of five small, AGILE teams of government technologists to identify critical technologies and drive materiel concepts with the potential to contribute to our technology offset strategy. The teams will consider all responses, and a report is scheduled in 2015. The Pentagon received more than 300 responses, Defense Department spokesman Maj. Eric D. Badger told National Defense. Badger said. “In fact, it’s likely that the LRRDP report will be classified

“The accelerating pace of change and the impacts of globalization have created significant changes in the global technology landscape that compel a strategic evaluation of the Department’s R&D investment strategy. This new long-range R&D study seeks to identify opportunities for enduring defense innovation to sustain the future of our nation’s military capabilities in an era of rapidly evolving technology, and tightening budgets,” according to US DOD.


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China plans to boost Scientific and Military Innovation through Civilian Military Integration, National R&D plans and Chinese DARPA

President Xi Jinping has urged the armed forces, “fully implement the innovation-driven development strategy, put combat capacity at the centre of its work, and step up theoretical and technological innovation.”  At a key Communist Party meeting in October, Xi identified innovation as the most critical of five concepts for development, followed by coordination, “green” development, opening up and sharing. Xi called for better integration between the military and the civilian sector to boost innovation in both the army and the nation.

Xi – who also chairs the Central Military Commission – said in the documentary that scientists and weapons developers should aim to catch up to, and even surpass, the technology of other countries. “The importance of weaponry development has increased as military technologies continue to be upgraded in recent years,” Xi said. “It’s impossible to win a battle if there is a weaponry gap.”

Chinese leader Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. “Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.

China will strengthen innovation by developing high-tech industries with military technologies to boost military-civil integration, a move that aims to cultivate new growth drivers and boost the economy, said a recent State Council guideline. This was one of the seven key tasks set by the guideline on deepening the military-civil integration in the defense technology industry, which was released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet.


The guideline targets sharing technological innovation bases and facilities between military and civilian sectors while more efforts will be made to apply military technologies to non-military areas. The military integration will also focus on key areas such as space, cyberspace and maritime sciences, while private capital is encouraged to enter military industries, the document said. The guideline was the latest move by the central government to promote the military-civil integration to widen military contract orders to civilian sectors and apply high-end military technologies for civilian purposes as part of the supply-side structural reform.

China’s  Rapid Scientific and Military advances

China is making rapid advancements in many  technologies thus narrowing its gap with western world. Former US energy secretary Steven Chu has even observed that China is ahead of America in areas ranging “from wind power to nuclear reactors to high-speed rail”. China is also catching up fast in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, 5-G broadband technology and the “Internet of Things.” Some of its achievements include a gigantic 500m-aperture spherical telescope, the launch of the world’s first hacker-proof quantum satellite and the development of world’s fastest supercomputer – the new Sunway Tianhe-1A.  China has also developing twin high-performance fifth-generation stealth fighters, ,  and large number of missiles including “Carrier killer” missile, anti-ship cruise missile, nuclear submarine and long-range intercontinental missile. Its homegrown aircraft carrier is nearing completion.


China is becoming formidable space power, it has sent 10 astronauts into orbit over the last 13 years, launched its first moon probe and two space stations (Tiangong 1 and 2). Most recently, China launched the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft with two astronauts to the Tiangong II space lab for a 30-day manoeuvre. China is planning to  send lunar probe Chang’e 5 to land on the moon and return with samples , in first such attempt, officials said. It will be the first time a Chinese probe would land on the moon, collect samples and return to Earth, and the third stage of China’s lunar exploration endeavour, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).


Out of total 86 space launches in 2015, China Aerospace Science and Technology Co. has launched a total of 43 satellites, followed by 29 in Russia and 17 in the U.S. China now has over 140 satellites in orbit with stable operation, second only to the U.S. in terms of satellite ownership, said a Chinese engineer from the national defense field at a satellite exhibition.


China has become the world’s largest source of new patents, industrial designs and trademarks. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, China in 2014 filed 34 per cent of the world’s patents, compared with 22 per cent for the US and 12 per cent for Japan. China also filed 50 per cent of the world’s new industrial designs, against 9 per cent for the US; and 76 per cent of new trademarks, compared with the US’ 13 per cent.


However China is still accused of stealing western technologies. Now china is taking large number of measures to provide thrust to innovation including boosting civil military integration, Five-year plan, National R&D plan, National Medium to Long-term Plan (MLP), and establishing Chinese DARPA.


Chinese President Xi Jinping has tasked the new People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) with pursuing “leapfrog development” and advancing military innovation. According to its commander, Gao Jin, the SSF will “protect the high frontiers and new frontiers of national security,” while seeking to “seize the strategic commanding heights of future military competition.” Through its integration of space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, the SSF may be uniquely able to take advantage of cross-domain synergies resulting from the inherent interrelatedness and technological convergence of operations in these domains.  The SSF has produced an “Innovation-Driven Development Strategy” that incorporates efforts to advance the construction of a cadre of innovative, talented personnel and to “cultivate the spirit of innovation.”


China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the main contractor for the Chinese space program, has teamed up with a number of state-owned enterprises to establish a RMB150 billion (US$21.78 billion) guidance fund to invest in innovative technologies. The vehicle will focus on clean energy, new energy vehicles, quantum teleportation, 3D printing, robotics, graphene, biomedicine, energy saving and environment protection sectors, with an aim to enhance the innovation capability of state-owned enterprises, assist develop emerging industries, as well as push for collaborative innovation between state-owned enterprises and other institutions.


Military Civil Integration to boost innovation

China’s leaders are continuing to promote “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. Deeply-rooted barriers, redundancies, and incompatibilities between the military and civilian sectors have yet to be resolved before this integration can occur.


“It mainly means the military needs to take more advantage of civilian power in development of technology, from theory building to armour manufacturing,” said Ni Lexiong, Shanghai-based naval expert. But one obstacle to integration was the handling of classified information, Ni said. The military would need to strike a balance to ensure sensitive information remained secure but contractors could still work efficiently.


The military civilian integration can also help in transferring military technology to civilian industries. For example, breakthrough technologies such as engines and aluminum alloy materials can help ease production overcapacity and transform China’s economy, he said.


These new technologies can essentially boost economic growth and national defense, Jiang said. “For example, virtual reality headsets were first used in helmets for fighter jets and my company has developed six civilian industries such as virtual reality, drones, robotics and smart wearing,” Lu said. The  breakthrough technologies such as engines and aluminum alloy materials can help ease production overcapacity and transform China’s economy, he said. These new technologies can essentially boost economic growth and national defense, Jiang said.


The military industry has the priority to apply cutting-edge technologies and also make breakthrough innovations, Lu Guangshan, chairman of the Avionics System Co under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, was quoted by Shanghai Securities News as saying. Jiang said in October last year that China has about 290,000 national defense intellectual property rights not being used due to the previously separated military and civil industries.


The integration is a worldwide trend to fully improve the national defense capability, said Jiang Luming, a professor at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army. In countries such as the US, the United Kingdom and Germany, less than 15 percent of military technologies are solely for military purposes and more than 80 percent are used for civilian purposes, Jiang said. Currently, 30 percent of products made by China’s military companies are for military purposes and the other 70 percent for civilian purposes, he said.


In fact, many developed economies are highly reliant on military-civil integration. For example, the United States’ airplane maker Boeing sells China civil aviation aircraft worth billions of dollars each year and is known for its high-end military aircraft. Many Japanese multinational companies such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi have a department to take military orders.


China’s top science authorities published a five-year term plan to integrate innovative military and civilian technologies to explore cost-effective solutions in the science and technology sector. Jointly issued by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Science and Technology Commission of the Central Military Commission, the plan is to build new research units and think tanks on cutting-edge science projects, ranging from manned-space missions to navigation satellite systems to supercomputers, local media reports.


Integrating military and civilian technologies will lead to more innovations and applications that can benefit both the military and society, said Lieutenant General Xin Yi, the deputy director of the Science and Technology Commission (STC) of the Central Military Commission. “Integration of military and civilian technologies is crucial in improving national defense and building a modern military,” Xin was quoted as saying by China Daily during a press conference Wednesday. “It is also a powerful engine for facilitating scientific innovations and social economic development.”


A coordinated military-civilian innovation system for the sector should be put in place by 2020. It also identified a new round of key sci-tech projects in military-civilian integration towards 2030, such as an integrated information system, quantum communication/computing and brain science/brain-inspired intelligence.


China’s military has offered $870 million to private firms and institutes to fund 2,000 projects for research on equipment and weapons in a bid to boost military-civilian integration and upgrade military technologies. The Central Military Commission’s (CMC) equipment development department released a guideline on its website, saying China plans to invest six billion yuan ($870 million) this year for research in shared technology and other research, Zhuangbei Keji, a WeChat account affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, said.A million yuan has been allocated to project to study the temperature adaptability of solid propellants, state-run Global Times reported.


The EU Council on Foreign Relations reports that, “Since the Cultural Revolution, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has acquired civilian industries, which it has helped to protect in stormy times, and which have become a source of profits for the military.” “Dual use development has provided an indirect way to acquire foreign technologies, which could eventually be transferred to weapons production.” Technologies such as information technology, microelectronics, aerospace, and other commercial technologies are dual use that can be adopted for military purposes.


Noting that China continues to modernise its military by incorporating Western (mostly US) dual-use technologies, which have also assisted its overall indigenous industrial, military industrial, and high-technology sector development, the report said one of China’s stated national security objectives is to leverage legally and illegally acquired dual-use and military-related technologies to its advantage.

China Military and Civilian Integration Expo  in Beijing

The second China Military and Civilian Integration Expo was held in Beijing’s National Convention Center. The three-day event  provided an open platform for the exchange and integration of military and civilian technology.”Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.


Sophisticated technologies were displayed during the Expo:  These include command information system, armored vehicles for transportation, the virtual combat training system, cyber security, anti-terrorism robots, drones, unmanned patrol boat, vehicle-mounted sonic weapons, emergency rescue system, as well as border monitoring and control system. “We have the virtual combat training system here on display. Using a virtual reality technology and simulation system, 3D training scenarios could be built. With V-R facilities, soldiers could feel as if they are in a real battlefield and practice tactical combat skills,” said Zhang Ke, Vice General Manager of Beijing Huaru Technology.


“This is an autonomous boat. It can be used for hydrology research, scientific exploration, hydrographic surveys, emergency search and rescues, security patrols and other work on the seas. It can also carry unmanned underwater vehicles for performing a variety of tasks,” said Zhang Yunfei, Chairman of Yunzhou-Tech. Innovation is crucial to the competitiveness of the armed forces. Officers and researchers have been working together to enhance the efficiency of national defense systems and turn cutting-edge military technology into real combat capacity.


By now, more than 1,000 Chinese private companies have received permission to develop and produce weapons or other defense equipment, accounting for nearly 40 percent of defense equipment contractors in China, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.


China’s DARPA

Innovation in the military should be part of the overall national approach, Xi said. A new national defence innovation mechanism should be explored to advance the deepening development of military-civilian integration, Xi said. In response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has formed a new science and technology committee to manage defense R&D. According to a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Defense, the committee, known in Chinese as junweikejiwei, is designed to meet the needs of China’s ongoing military modernization. The committee will strengthen management of defense science and technology, promote indigenous innovation in national defense, and coordinate integrated development of military and civilian technologies, the spokesperson says.


The new steering committee and the CMC Science and Technology Commission will spearhead scientific and technological innovation, according to the CCTV documentary. Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator with Phoenix Television, said the committee should include scientists and leading engineers who were familiar with cutting-edge technologies. “The steering committee will play a consultative role to help the CMC to decide on projects at an early stage,” Song said. “Funding, resources and the detailed implementation of these projects will be overseen by some of the 15 functional departments under the CMC.”


China makes impressive military modernization, however accused of stolen designs

China has made impressive advancements in military technology: China has advanced space technologies, out of 86 space launches in 2015, China has launched 43 satellites. It is also believed to have amassed counterspace technologies. It is set to provide Beidou global navigation service similar to GPS by launching 35 satellites by 2020.


Chinese is now second nation to have two fifth generation stealth designs J-20 and J-31 aircrafts. China is developing conceptual and experimental hypersonic flight vehicle technologies such as hypersonic cruise vehicles (HCV) capable of maneuvering at Mach 5 speeds (6,150+ km/h), and flying in near-space altitudes.


China is building modern and regionally powerful navy, it has commissioned large number of long range land attack and antiship cruise missiles, warships, aircraft carrier and advanced type 094 Jin class nuclear powered ballistic submarines. China is set to launch first Quantum communications satellite this year, it has also plans to complete, longest fiber optics based quantum Network.


However China is also criticized of carrying out massive cyber espionage and stealing plans for advanced military jets, ships, and lasers. US has often accused china of using a number of methods to obtain US technology, including espionage, exploitation of commercial entities and a network of scientific, business and academic contacts. It also lacks West in many critical defense technologies like Aircraft engines.


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Russia’s Advanced Research Foundation aims breakthrough high-risk research and development like US DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an independent agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, with a mission to prevent technological surprise to the US, and also to create technological surprise for its enemies. DARPA operates through Program managers that are hired for 3-4 years to find, fund and foster new innovation ideas based on technology visions that each of them is expected to develop. PMs fund multiple teams at universities, companies, and government labs who take ownership of these visions.

Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects (Russian: Фонд перспективных исследований) is an advanced military research agency, created in 2012, on the lines of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  The aim of FPI is  to help Russia update its military equipment and develop new technologies. Some of the projects being implemented by the Advanced Research Fund have no analogs in the world, the Russian president said. In a visit in the Sverdlovsk region, Rogozin had said that Russia will not proceed like China and do not blindly copying Western models, but will have to develop by the ideas and technologies developed by itself. 

Russia’s “DARPA”, the Foundation for Advanced Studies (FPI), should play a leading role in both prioritising tasks and ensuring the economical use of existing funds because of budgetary constraints, Russian president Vladimir Putin told members of the Military-industrial Commission. “It is obvious that the fund’s projects are intended to play a crucial role in the development of key new-generation weapons, military and special hardware. They should serve as the basis for the Russian armament system in 2025-2030,” Putin said.

Aims and Objectives of Russian Foundation for Advanced Research

The Advanced Research Foundation (ARF) was established in 2012 by a Presidential decree that tasks the government with “ensuring the dynamic development of breakthrough high-risk research and development, fundamental science and implementation of applied research programs in the interest of ensuring the country’s defense and security” The foundation is tasked with informing the country’s leadership on projects that can ensure Russian superiority in defense technology. It will also analyze the risks of any Russian technological backwardness and technological dependence on other powers.

“The main aim of this foundation is to eliminate a gap in our advanced research beside Western partners, after 20 years of stagnation in the whole Russian military science and defense industry” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in his speech in front of the Russian parliament, quoted by RIA Novosti.

Rogozin added that the new agency will initially employ 100-150 of experts to monitor on medium and long term “high risk” on research and development projects of Russian defense firms and scientific institutions. It received 3.3 billion rubles ($100 million) of state funding this year, its spokesman said Monday. The foundation has a staff of 30 and is currently supporting 12 projects, selecting them from 1,100 proposals.


Thrust Areas

Putin had advised, “The chosen projects should be ambitious but realistic, and there should be no sand castles, scientific and technological illusions, or groundless fantasies. Futuristic weaponry, equipment for soldiers and cyberwarfare are the three main areas of the foundation’s research. One priority project will incorporate advanced medical technology into the battle gear carried by soldiers, the ARF’s head of research, Andrei Grigoryev, said in October last year.

Another possible breakthrough targeted by 2020 is the launch of an orbital space plane from the super-heavy Antonov-225 Mriya transport aircraft, outlined last year in a report by the public council of the government’s military-industrial commission. 

RFARP is currently researching on Army Sixth Generation Systems, Air force Plasma-Stealth, Clean Fission, Army Survivalist Doctrine, Army New World Order, Army Integrated Military Systems and Air force New World Order.


Dogs learn breathing underwater as Russian scientists test liquid respirational technology

The ability to breathe liquid is no longer just the realm of sci-fi anymore (or limited to fish) as scientists from Russia’s Foundation for Advanced Research Projects have recently showcased their latest breakthrough, which makes this impossible feat possible. To demonstrate the novel technology, they dipped a dachshund in a reservoir with a liquid rich in oxygen.

“We are already holding live tests. We began with mice and other small animals. Now, we are carrying out experiments on large animals. Dogs are acting as testers,” Davydov said. For now, dogs can breathe for half an hour at a depth of up to 500 meters without any health consequences, Davydov said.

Russia’s “liquid respirational technology”  will allow humans to breathe underwater and not drown since their lungs will be filled with a special oxygen-rich liquid, which gets into the blood system. The Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects is developing the technology to save submariners of the Russian Navy from drowning should they abandon their stricken submarines underwater.

The main challenge, however, is to find a formula for a liquid that allows underwater breathing. It also involves developing the technology to inject the liquid into and withdraw it from the body. “A psychological barrier will also have to be overcome, a person would actually have to suffocate in water voluntarily to start breathing with the liquid filling his lungs,” according to Davydov. 


Integrated protective soldier systems

The IPSS will work on the radical use of technologies such as nano technology, powered exoskeletons, and magnetorheological fluid-based body armor to provide infantry with significantly higher force multiplier than the opposing force. The Defense Ministry hopes to develop a fully realized end product sometime in 2028, incorporating research from the Defense Ministry’s exoskeleton project and the Soldier Nanotechnologies into a final design.

The first phase of the project involves a development of technologies to help reduce the soldier’s fighting load and power requirements and improving the soldier’s protection, lethality, and environmental and situational awareness.


Russia’s invisibility ‘membranes’ pass initial testing: research center

Russia’s high-tech invisibility suits created for its defense and interior ministries have successfully passed preliminary tests Thursday, according to the head of the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects (FPI).

The membranous suits are reportedly lightweight and make their wearer nearly invisible. FPI has not made public the technology behind the “membranes'” cloaking quality. Grigoriev had previously told Sputnik the suits would also protect wearers from disease.

“The obtained filter material by far exceeds all existing analogues in its ability to stop the most dangerous aerosol particles such as viruses, toxins, allergens. This technology could usher in a wide variety of protective materials for medical, military and other purposes,” Grigoryev said in February.


Augmented Reality to Allow Superhuman Vision for Russian Combat Fighters

Russian military pilots will soon have new helmets with augmented reality (AG) technology, the press service of Russia’s Advanced Research Foundation reported, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

AR is a view of real-world environment in which some elements are “augmented” (or added/supplemented) by computer-generated sensory data, such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. The technology allows people to see information and data that they normally wouldn’t be able to.

The new technology will be used to improve helmets of combat aircraft pilots, Rossiyskaya Gazeta said. AR will allow pilots to have additional information on the windshield of their helmet, such as visuals from angles that they can’t see. Moreover, combat pilots will be able to aim at their targets hand-free, simply using a turn of their head to immediately fire weapons.

The project is expected to be sold in several stages, gradually developing complexity of AR technology and expanding its functionality, said Sergei Garbuka, a high-ranking official from the Advanced Research Foundation.


Russian Airships shall employ photonics based radar for Missile Defence in 2018

KRET and the Foundation for Advanced Research (FAR) are working together to create a phased array antenna based on radio-photons. The radio-photonic radar system will be based on active radio-optical phased array (Russian abbreviation: ROFAR) technology being developed now by Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern (KRET), an integral part of the Rostech state corporation.

It is expected to open a new era of light and precise radar electronics for systems where weight is critical, such as drones and satellites. In the future, he said, the antenna system based on the principles of radio-photons can be mounted on airships and used as part of the missile defense system. “There is no need to build a huge antenna on the ground when you can simply raise the antenna to the necessary height and look beyond the horizon,” said Vladimir Mikheev.

“The antenna will be designed within the next two years. “We are planning to begin production of the radar based on the principles of radio-photons by 2020,” said Vladimir Mikheev, adviser to the first deputy CEO of KRET, as reported by TASS.

As previously reported, state investment in the project for developing an active phased array radar based on radio-photons will amount to 680 million rubles.

Radio-photons are an analog of electronics, though photons, unlike electrons, have neither mass nor charge. The new concept will reduce the weight of the equipment by 1.5-3 times, increase its reliability and efficiency by 2-3 times, and increase the scanning speed and resolution dozens of times over. This will help create broadband radars whose resolution and speed enable what is called radar sight.

Earlier this year KRET announced that radio-photonic antennas will have “unique stability” regards electromagnetic-frequency impulses, such as those caused by close-range lightning strikes, solar magnetic storms and EMP effects caused by nuclear explosions.

KRET believes that radio-photonic technology will pave the way for both military and civilian electronics of the future, as the tech will be applied in radio astronomy, radio detection and ranging, optical fiber and mobile communications and other practical fields. Such systems also have application in helping high-speed trains instantly detect obstacles on the tracks.


Russia developing  combat Robots

The development and production of robots in the country is currently being undertaken by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects (an equivalent of the American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA), as well as by various research institutes and centers.

The Foundation  will be the organizing large-scale tournament  in underwater and marine robotics on behalf of the board of the Military Industrial Commission of Russia and the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in 2018. “There are many tasks that need to be addressed in open maritime areas of Russia—including scientific and technical tasks related to the need to ensure the security of the country, as well as important environmental tasks—for example, monitoring the state of the water area and counteracting poachers. Vast expanses of the sea require constant monitoring, including in the sparsely populated regions of Russia, where the use of appropriate robotic systems has helped to ensure full and continuous monitoring of the state of the ocean,” commented Alexey Kononov, the deputy head of the National Center for the Development of Technology and Basic Elements of Robotics, Foundation for Advanced Research Projects.


Underwater robot for protection

Russia’s advanced military technology agency is working on a special underwater robot to protect Russian shores from foreign underwater intruders, news agency TASS reported.  The project will be taken on as part of ongoing research into methods of detecting and locating ultra-quiet underwater objects.

“In the course of this project, the laboratory is creating a special underwater robot,” a spokesperson for the Foundation for Advanced Research Projects told TASS. The underwater robot appears to be an answer to a similar U.S. Navy and DARPA program, known as the Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance, or PLUS, program. PLUS has already seen limited deployment, The Wall Street Journal reported last year.


Combat robot-android

State-funded Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects has developed a human like Fedor, which  at the moment,  is able to lift weights, crawl and drive in a straight line. Fedor rose to internet fame earlier this year when Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin posted a video of the android firing a gun in each hand, but the minister denied Russia was working on a “terminator” bot.

Andrey Grigoryev, director-general of the Advanced Research Projects Foundation (ARF), told RIA-Novosti: A combat robot-android that resembles a human in appearance, will be able to run, cross a barrier line and perform other actions, according to our plans. It will be controlled by human brian via new brain-computer interface technology. The robot was seen driving a 4×4 bike through an obstacle course,  is expected to learn how to run.

Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos announced in March that it has selected Fedor to pilot the agency’s new spacecraft Federatsiya into orbit in 2021—a flight he may undertake solo. Fedor is supposed to be ready to join preliminary tests for Federatsiya’s first training flight in 2020, with an eye on joining the crew of the International Space Station by 2024, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported, citing Sergei Hurs, the project director.


‘Quadcopter’ Controlled by Human Thought

The Zelenograd company Neurobotics, working for the Advanced Research Foundation of the Russian Federation (ARF), which supports programs of interest to the defense industry, created a neuro-interface that can control a quadcopter through brain impulses, literally, by the power of thought.

“For the technology to be of use on the battlefield, we had to do more than just control the copter,” said the Executive Director of Neurobotics, Vladimir Konyshev. “Our demonstrator moved while operating the copter, and it could recognize direct as well as programmed commands, for example a flight to a specific point. We proved that under the right conditions the copter can be controlled by the mind.”

“A soldier running with his gun is being fired on by a sniper,” Konyshev says. “After several months of training, he would be able to drop to the ground while mentally ordering the copter to transmit an image of where the fire is coming from to his tactical goggles.”

The generation of commands, or “states”, as we call them (the sensors on the demonstrator’s head record them) is tied to the use of special psychic techniques. A person in a given situation proposes actions that the system can recognize. For example, he can imagine clenching a fist three times.


Comparison with DARPA

One of big difference is that DARPA’s budget is nearly $3 billion, while the Foundation for Military Research has a budget of 3.3 billion rubles ($100 million). DARPA’s success is based on highly innovative US culture, excellent research centers and manpower, mature and globally competitive Industrial Base and excellent Industry-Academia interactions.

“Unlike DARPA, Russia lacks the specialists to identify the promising areas for breakthrough technologies,” said Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine. What projects the foundation has received are mostly based on past research rather than new innovative ideas, he said.

The goal should be to put aside the issues the defense industry is faced with today and to plan 10 to 20 years ahead, just what DARPA is doing, Korotchenko said. “But we have a problem with strategic planning. There is no such culture; we are looking only three to five years in the future.”



References and resources also include:

Blockchain or Bitcoin based Industry 4.0, and 3D printing security, faces threat from quantum computer

3D printing or additive manufacturing is ongoing revolution in manufacturing with its potential to fabricate any complex object and is being utilized from aerospace components to human organs, textiles, metals, buildings and even food.From the creation of the additive manufacturing (AM) design to final production on the shop floor, AM files can be easily transmitted with the click of a mouse. The digital nature of AM means that parts and products are easier to share and transmit, enabling the creation of digital supply networks and supply chains.  Additionally, it creates the opportunity to make AM part development fully documentable and attributable, write Stuart Trouton and others in Deloitte University press.

In future AM shall become part of ongoing evolution of the Internet through the “Internet of Things” to the “Internet of Industry”. Another name for the Internet of Industry, common in Germany, is “Industry 4.0”. In this vision, people will be able to study designs, modify them, download them onto nearby 3D printers, and thereby create new goods.

3D printing is also revolutionizing defence by printing small components to full drones on naval vessels, replacement parts for fighter aircrafts to printing ammunition. Substantial improvements have been made in 3D printing with the fabrication of 3D objects from metals, ceramics, plastics, and even multi-material capabilities. John Burrow, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation said, “I think you are about to see its operational and technical potential literally explode off the map.” Burrow and Navy officials envision a future with 3-D printers forward deployed with Marines and installed aboard warships as well as shore-based commands.

However digital and networked nature of AM also give rise to many vulnerabilities. In the absence of a strong data-protection framework, a digital design-and-manufacture process creates the potential for data theft or tampering.  Hackers can exploit 3D printing technology by stealing or altering information designs, rendering your printers unusable, or corrupting your settings to make devices overheat or even explode. And of course, there is the theoretical possibility that 3D printing designs are altered with malicious intent as a method to sabotage constructions, weapons or defense systems.

Blockchain a transformative decentralized digital currency, a secure payment platform free from government interference, is being considered for security of additive manufacturing . The technology has the potential to enhance privacy, security and freedom of conveyance of data. Blockchain is based on open, global infrastructure, decentralized public ledger of transactions that no one person or company owns or controls, ensures security of transfer of funds through public and private cryptology and third parties to verify that they shook, digitally, on an agreement.

However in Oct 2017 paper, Researchers mostly from Singapore claimed  that key  protocols securing technology undergirding bitcoin are “susceptible to attack by the development of a sufficiently large quantum computer”, in their paper “Quantum attacks on Bitcoin, and how to protect against them (Quantum),” made available through the Cornell University Library.

 3D printing could be exploited by Hackers

A report was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST, which is part of the Department of Commerce – to warn contractors of the various vulnerable and exploitable points in the way 3D printing is used by various companies, and is not something that has come out of nowhere.

The two primary threat vectors are via network connectivity and nonvolatile storage media. When devices are not protected by applicable security controls, network connectivity and information stored within nonvolatile storage media may be used to compromise organizational information or disrupt the device.

According to the report, hackers can exploit unprotected 3D printers in a variety of ways. Some of the dangers listed are:

  • Denial of service (DoS): to make printing services unavailable.
  • Spams may waste materials while also result in denial of service for legitimate users.
  • Exploiting default administration/configuration passwords to control the device locally or remotely via a web interface.
  • Intercepting / Alteration / Corruption of unencrypted data and information.
  • Vulnerabilities of commercial embedded operating system.


DOD aims to use additive manufacturing techniques in conjunction with blockchain

The Defense Department aims to use additive manufacturing techniques in conjunction with  blockchain technology in efforts to address intellectual property challenges related to the production of military standard parts, as reported by GCN.  John Bergin, business technology officer at DoD’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, told a defense contracting forum that the U.S. Navy‘s carriers can serve as a model for a use case of blockchain. He added he believes the technology has the potential to help military organizations and industry partners to accelerate the supply chain process for “mil-spec” components.

Bergin mentioned, “What happens, when an F-18 on that carrier breaks a pin in its landing gear? They need a part, but they don’t have the part on the aircraft carrier,” he said. “How do I use additive manufacturing to get there, while still respecting Boeing’s intellectual property rights for that pin? Bergin suggested, “Blockchain -The encrypted and distributed ledger system that makes the Bitcoin cryptocurrency possible could be the answer”

If any part of the aircraft gets faulted due to damage in a small component in that part, the broken component cannot be replaced by substitute component due to intellectual property rights of the vendor. As a result, a new whole part has to be bought.

Bergin said. “IF DOD’s ecosystem of parts management can properly incorporate blockchain ledgers, the 3D printers on a carrier could securely log every pin that’s produced at sea.  You can print it, I can pay Boeing for it, and [the Navy] has planes that fly,” he said.  “How do I support the warfighter abroad, respecting the intellectual property of the vendors, and do it as a team?  Blockchain is part of that story.”

If this kind of system is adopted, it would speed up the process of supply chain by allowing the military force or the navy or the air force to  get only the pin it needs, rather than ordering a full landing gear assembly.  This would help both the military and its industry partners. Bergin said “Let’s stop buying the assembly, and let’s start making the parts where we need them.  It reduces your inventory that’s idle, and increases our operational capability at the front.”

“There are security and quality assurance challenges in addition to the intellectual property concerns”, Bergin said, but he urged vendors to  work with DOD on these issues.


The US Navy Wants to Connect Its 3-D Printers with a Blockchain

The US Navy’s innovation arm has revealed plans to trial blockchain’s potential to bring added security to its manufacturing systems. Blockchain quite simply is a “distributed database” shared through peer to peer connections in such a way that each block is a unique record that gets added to the end of the “chain.” The records are permanent and are unable to be modified. This bond creates trust between all the members of the chain and removes the need for third party mediators to handle transactions, or any other transfer of information.

This “immutable trust” allows for the removal of members not providing value (formerly used as middle-men or brokers) and allows two or more parties to conduct transactions with complete trust. If you can imagine any transaction in your life that depended on trust between you and someone you did not know, you will immediately see the value in Blockchain.

NIAC has planned to conduct a series of experiments (including a proof of concept) using blockchain technology to both securely share data between Additive Manufacturing sites, as well as help secure the digital thread of design and production. The successful  application of this technology in a controlled environment, would then  open the gates to revolutionize other aspects of Naval operations.

The ability to secure and securely share data throughout the manufacturing process (from design, prototyping, testing, production, and ultimately disposal) is critical to Additive Manufacturing and will form the foundation for future advanced manufacturing initiatives.

These efforts are pushing the production of critical pieces of gear and equipment closer and closer to deployed forces. While this change is greatly helping our material readiness, it creates the potential for vulnerabilities and makes the need for a cryptographically secure, traceable, immutable, and controllable data flow of utmost importance.


Bitcoin’s Elliptic Curve Signature Could be Broken by 2027

Bitcoins have two important security features that prevent them from being stolen or copied. Both are based on cryptographic protocols that are hard to crack. In other words, they exploit mathematical functions, like factorization, that are easy in one direction but hard in the other—at least for an ordinary classical computer.

Bitcoin transactions are stored in a distributed ledger that collates all the deals carried out in a specific time period, usually about 10 minutes. This collection, called a block, also contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, which contains a cryptographic hash of the one before that, and so on in a chain. Hence the term blockchain. (A hash is a mathematical function that turns a set of data of any length into a set of specific length.)

The new block must also contain a number called a nonce that has a special property. When this nonce is hashed, or combined mathematically, with the content of the block, the result must be less than some specific target value.  This process of finding a nonce, called mining, is rewarded with Bitcoins. Mining is so computationally intensive that the task is usually divided among many computers that share the reward.

If a group of miners controls more than 50 percent of the computational power on the network, it can always mine blocks faster than whoever has the other 49 percent. In that case, it effectively controls the ledger. That creates an opportunity for a malicious owner of a quantum computer put to work as a Bitcoin miner.  If this computational power breaks the 50 percent threshold, it can do what it likes.

“One particular area at risk are cryptocurrencies,” the abstract notes. “We investigate the risk of Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, to attacks by quantum computers. We find that the proof-of-work used by Bitcoin is relatively resistant to substantial speedup by quantum computers in the next 10 years,” the paper declares. This, they claim, is “mainly because specialized ASIC miners are extremely fast compared to the estimated clock speed of near-term quantum computers.”

The good news turns quickly bad, as “the elliptic curve signature scheme used by Bitcoin is much more at risk, and could be completely broken by a quantum computer as early as 2027, by the most optimistic estimates,” state authors Divesh Aggarwal, Gavin K. Brennen, Troy Lee, Miklos Santha, and Marco Tomamichel.


References and resources also include:

Militaries exploring Venture Capitalism to fund Research and Development

Chinese firms have become significant investors in American start-ups working on cutting-edge technologies with potential military applications. The start-ups include companies that make rocket engines for spacecraft, sensors for autonomous navy ships, and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter-plane cockpits. Many of the Chinese firms are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese leaders, as reported by Paul Mozur and Jane Perlez in New York Times.

Over all, China has been increasingly active in the American start-up world, participating in investment rounds worth $9.9 billion in 2015, according to data from the research firm CB Insights, more than four times the level the year before. Chinese investors have a bigger appetite for risk and a willingness to do deals fast, said Neurala’s chief executive, Max Versace.  American military officials have “figured out a very good way to give $10 billion to Raytheon,” he said. “But to give a start-up $1 million to develop a proof of concept? That’s still very, very hard.”

China has developed strategy to boost its military innovation through Military civil Integration. At a key Communist Party meeting in October, Xi identified innovation as the most critical of five concepts for development, followed by coordination, “green” development, opening up and sharing. Xi called for better integration between the military and the civilian sector to boost innovation in both the army and the nation. “Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.

The deals are ringing alarm bells in Washington. According to a new white paper commissioned by the Department of Defense, Beijing is encouraging Chinese companies with close government ties to invest in American start-ups specializing in critical technologies like artificial intelligence and robots to advance China’s military capacity as well as its economy.

“What drives a lot of the concern is that China is a military competitor,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who is familiar with the report. “How do you deal with a military competitor playing in your most innovative market?”

US military has also planned to boost innovation by investments in startups, global and grassroots innovations. New group under the U.S. Department of Defense, called Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx has been formed with an office in Silicon Valley and in several other tech hubs across the U.S., the mission of DIUx is to bridge the different cultures of tech startups and the U.S. military to meet national security needs.

Many of the technologies the DoD will depend on in future will come from outside the DoD. The declining military budgets, the industry are investing less in new technology and increasingly depend on the global market for innovation. “We must be open to global, commercial technology as well, and learn from advances in the private sector,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told the House defense appropriations subcommittee.


The US Defense Industry is in a Race to Acquire Hot Tech Startups.

The start-ups include companies that make space robots, using AI techniques for cyber security, autonomous vehicles, and communication chips.

In just one year, the nation’s largest defense contractor has injected close to $20 million into tech startups. And more investments are coming, says Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. Lockheed Martin’s venture capital unit had also invested in Terran Orbital, a manufacturer of small satellites for customers that provide internet connectivity or survey farmland. “The opportunity to invest in a nanosat leader allows us to address our customer’s increasing interest in rapid, responsive, and cost-effective technology missions,” said Chris Moran.

According to US army, there are many benefits of Smallsats in LEO: the first is low per-unit cost that enables affordable satellite constellations with minimal personnel and logistics tail and opportunity of frequent technology refresh.  The second is high survivability as they fly far above common threats and crowded airspace. The constellations also degrade gracefully and lost capability can be rapidly augmented and reconstituted.

Lockheed is financing New Zealand’s Rocket Lab, which is building a carbon-composite rocket to launch small satellites into orbit for less than $5 million. The Pentagon is just beginning to grasp the significance of commercial space innovation, Moran says. Small satellites and rapid launch means the military could deploy systems in weeks, not years. And with satellites that offer higher revisit rates, the government could monitor areas of the globe more frequently.

Lockheed last year struck a deal with Cybereason, which has developed machine learning software that detect network attacks as they happen rather than traditional defenses that depend on analysis and patching of malware after the attacks. “Artificial intelligence looks for pattern changes to prevent attacks before significant damage occurs,” Moran says in an interview. “Cybereason was one of the early practitioners in this space.” Boeing announced it has teamed with Verizon to fund SparkCognition, a company that develops artificial intelligence and machine learning software for cybersecurity and other uses.

Also among Lockheed’s investments is Peloton Technology, a developer of autonomous vehicle technology that could be useful in military projects such as unmanned truck convoys. And earlier this year, Lockheed bought a stake in chipmaker IQ-Analog. The company designed chips that relay data at very high speeds, a technology with enormous potential in commercial and military communications system, as reported by Sandra Erwin in Scout.


The Army as Venture Capitalist: An Innovative Approach to Funding Research and Development

The United States Army is having difficulty balancing its need for new technologies with the resources available to develop them. The Army currently faces the challenge of finding better methods for developing the new technologies needed to stage its revolution in military affairs (RMA) while keeping current equipment relevant and affordable. RAND researchers recently introduced a novel solution: that the Army should fund some of its technology development through a private venture capital organization.

Over the last few decades, venture capital has emerged as a financial engine for the new technologies and industries that are changing the world. RAND analysis shows that not only would an Army venture capital fund help reinvigorate research and development (R&D) in the defense industry; it could also help the Army leverage outside resources, like co-investors, that would allow it to stretch its own R&D resources. In addition, revenue returned on the Army’s venture capital fund investments could be used to re-invest in more new technologies.

Army Venture Capital Can Better Access Commercial Technology, says RAND. “A growing portion of technical innovation occurring in the United States is happening in the commercial sector, thus making Army access to that sector more important than ever. Army leadership, recognizing the importance of tapping the commercial technology sector, has emphasized its desire to increase collaboration with commercial technology developers. Unfortunately, the Army’s traditional contracting methods make this difficult. A venture capital organization could circumvent some of the Army’s problems in trying to collaborate with the commercial sector. The Army venture capitalist could act as a middleman who understands the needs of the business and technology communities. He/she could shape agreements that solve Army technology problems while also meeting those needs.”

Venture Capital Can also Leverage Non-Army Resources. “Today, most Army research is conducted exclusively with Army resources. Assuming the Army’s fund invests in technologies with commercial potential, it is likely to be able to attract significant co-investment. The Army can thus stretch its own R&D resources so that it can accelerate the development of key technologies while also continuing to invest in a wide range of new ideas.”

Venture Capital Provides a Return on Investment (ROI), says RAND. “As mentioned earlier, venture capitalists expect large returns as compensation for their investment risks. Most of the technologies appropriate for investment by an Army venture capital fund will have a longer term commercial potential. By using a venture capital model to make the initial investments in new technologies, the Army will be able to earn a ROI as the commercial market for these technologies grows.”


What Is Venture Capital?

Venture capital organizations provide a financing source for start-ups or emerging companies that have a concept, a plausible market, and a business plan but lack the resources necessary to develop and market their ideas. By investing in these new businesses, venture capitalists accept a greater-than-average investment risk for the short term but potentially reap higher long-term returns than they would from other investments, says RAND.

“Venture capitalists typically receive an equity stake in the funded business and usually provide management and business expertise to the businesses they are backing. Although venture capital is a relatively young concept, it has been extremely successful in developing and exploiting innovation. Companies such as Intel, Apple, FedEx, and Netscape used venture capital as a key resource and are examples of its success.”

The reasons for venture capital’s success are its inherent incentives and an organizational structure that helps innovative ideas develop. Businesses that venture capitalists back tend to be young, small, and growth-oriented. Company founders tend to be risk-takers who are motivated by their vision. Investors are experienced businessmen and businesswomen who know how to manage young companies and commit a significant amount of ideas, experience, and time to the companies they back.

Could the Army take advantage of the incentive and organizational structures that make venture capital such an engine of innovation? RAND researchers believe that ample evidence exists to suggest that it could, and they present many compelling reasons why the Army should consider a venture capital fund.




References and Resources also include:

DARPA calls for innovative research concepts and Breakthrough Technologies for National Security Vision 2045

DARPA has identified some of the technical, economic and geopolitical shifts that are posing potential threats to U.S. preeminence and stability. On the technical front is increasing availability on the global market the weapons technology, biological and chemical threat capabilities, advanced microelectronics and cyber- and space-related technologies, the capability of social media to spread misinformation and blossom into deadly crises. In the future off-the-shelf gene-screening and -splicing kits will make the tools of genetic engineering accessible to many.

Geopolitical challenges involve peer adversaries and other nation states and encompass conventional-weapon threats as well as concerns about nuclear proliferation. Other challenges stem from terrorist groups and other non-nation-state actors.

Global social, economic and environmental trends are affecting governments and populations. worldwide. These include demographic shifts, such as population growth and urbanization in developing countries and the aging of populations in developed countries; religious and cultural shifts, including the rise of violent extremism; resource imbalances and shortages, including especially those involving energy sources and fresh water; stresses related to climate change, including sea-level rise, drought and flooding, with special concerns about potential impacts on infrastructure and agriculture; and the growing potential for fast-moving human and animal pandemics and other health threats, with their associated risks of economic depletion, loss of trust in leadership, and social unrest.

“The pace at which we can develop and field new military systems is really important for who wins the next war,” Steven Walker, deputy director for the agency said. “We’re focused here at DARPA on rethinking how we develop new military systems. Some of our systems today are extremely capable, the most capable in the world, but they are very complex, they’re costly and they take a long time to develop and field. So at DARPA we’re spending a lot of time rethinking how we might develop these systems.

Breakthrough Technologies for National Security 

The biennial report, dubbed “Breakthrough Technologies for National Security”, outlines the agency’s priorities for dealing with these challenges over the next several years.

Some of the main areas that DARPA plans to focus its strategic investments are maintaining Assuring dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum, Maintaining air superiority in contested environments, improving weapons that can operate in a GPS-denied environment, leading development on hypersonics, mastering the so-called “information explosion,” cheaper launch solutions for space assets, harnessing biology as technology, maritime agility, new ground vehicles, counter-terrorism technologies, and rethinking military systems,

1. It’s Assuring Dominance of the Electromagnetic Spectrum by developing a family of highly precise and accurate navigation and timing technologies that can function in GPS-denied environments, advanced algorithms, fully configurable RF systems and new electronic platforms.

2. Maintaining Air Superiority in Contested Environments through development of air platforms with greater range, survivability and payload capacity and through Integrated system of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), weapons, communications, electronic warfare, cyber and other advanced technologies. Leading the World in Advanced Hypersonics for delivering precise warhead at hypersonic velocities.

3. Asserting a Robust Capability in Space by enhancing the capabilities of space domain awareness and capability to launch satellites from virtually anywhere with just 24 hours’ notice and at a fraction of current costs by means of reusable first-stage and space-plane systems.

4. Enhancing Maritime Agility by developing an unmanned maritime surface vessel to chase submarines; and novel technologies to enable take-off and landing of long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles aboard smaller ships.

5. Exerting Control on the Ground against terrorists and insurgents by helping ground forces expand their reach, situational awareness and maneuverability and a new-generation combat vehicle with enhanced mobility and survivability.

6. Counter CBRNE threats by developing and testing networked, mobile and cost-effective nuclear- and radiological-weapons detectors that can easily be deployed to provide real-time surveillance over city-scale areas.

7. The agency is mastering the information explosion by developing novel approaches to derive insights from massive datasets and powerful big-data tools for mapping behavior patterns at scale, including algorithms to quickly identify anomalous threat-related behaviors of systems, individuals and groups.

8. The Agency is also developing technologies to provide comprehensive awareness and understanding of the cyber battlespace and automated computational capabilities to detect hidden causal relationships; Search technologies for discovery, organization and presentation of domain-specific content; software to detect, classify, measure and track the spread of ideas and concepts on social media; and methods for automating the analysis of photos and videos.

9. DARPA is Building Trust In Information Systems by developing technologies for more effective and user-friendly user identification and authentication technologies; secure mobile operating systems, automated cyber defense capabilities and new approaches to building trusted systems from an inherently untrustworthy global supply chain.

10. Harness biology as technology by accelerating progress in Synthetic Biology , developing technologies to harness biological systems for synthesizing compounds, and create materials with novel properties.

11. It is outpacing the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola, through development of genetic and immunological technologies to detect, diagnose and treat infectious diseases with unprecedented precision and rapidity,

12. Mastering New Neurotechnologies like implantable neural interfaces for human clinical use to bridge gaps in the injured brain, help overcome memory deficits and precisely deliver therapeutic stimuli in patients with neuropsychiatric and neurological disease; and systems to provide sensor-enabled feedback from prosthetic hands to the nervous system to provide enhanced dexterity and even the sense of touch for amputees.

13. DARPA is also providing thrust to core competencies like Applying Deep Mathematics for developing new mathematical approaches and mathematical tools for representing, designing, and testing extremely complex systems.

14. Inventing New Chemistries, Processes and Materials facilitate the assessment and adoption of novel materials in practical settings, new modeling and measurement tools for evaluating and predicting functional reliability and is developing low-cost fabrication methods to allow customized and small-volume production of materials.

15. Harnessing Quantum Physics to bring about new capabilities in navigation and timing, chem-bio detection, communication and information processing, and metrology, and unprecedented degrees of control over the electromagnetic spectrum, critical for electronic warfare and other applications.



Forward to the Future: Visions of 2045

A big part of DARPA’s mission is to envision the future and make the impossible possible. In Oct 2015 as the “Back to the Future” day approached, DARPA turned to social media and asked the world to predict: What technologies might actually surround us 30 years from now? Some of the highlights from the responses were:

• Space: Interplanetary and interstellar travel, including faster-than-light travel; missions and permanent settlements on the Moon, Mars and the asteroid belt; space elevators

• Transportation & Energy: Self-driving and electric vehicles; improved mass transit systems and intercontinental travel; flying cars and hoverboards; high-efficiency solar and other sustainable energy sources

• Medicine & Health: Neurological devices for memory augmentation, storage and transfer, and perhaps to read people’s thoughts; life extension, including virtual immortality via uploading brains into computers; artificial cells and organs; “Star Trek”-style tricorder for home diagnostics and treatment; wearable technology, such as exoskeletons and augmented-reality glasses and contact lenses

• Materials & Robotics: Ubiquitous nanotechnology, 3-D printing and robotics; invisibility and cloaking devices; energy shields; anti-gravity devices

• Cyber & Big Data: Improved artificial intelligence; optical and quantum computing; faster, more secure Internet; better use of data analytics to improve use of resources

DARPA researchers from various fields shared their visions of 2045, and why getting there will require a group effort with players not only from academia and industry but from forward-looking government laboratories and agencies:

• Pam Melroy, an aerospace engineer, former astronaut and current deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technologies Office (TTO), foresees technologies that would enable machines to collaborate with humans as partners on tasks far more complex than those we can tackle today.

• Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and program manager in DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), imagines a world where neurotechnologies could enable users to interact with their environment and other people by thought alone.

• Stefanie Tompkins, a geologist and director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), envisions building substances from the atomic or molecular level up to create “impossible” materials with previously unattainable capabilities.


DARPA BAA for innovative basic and applied research

DSO Office has inviteed proposers to submit innovative basic or applied research concepts that explore Physical
and Natural Systems, Human-Machine and Social Systems, and/or Math and Computational Systems through the lens of one or more of the following technical domains: Complexity Engineering, Science of Design, Noosphere, Fundamental Limits, and New Foundations.

Technical Domains and Research Topics of Interest

Complexity Engineering: Understanding the principles of organization and control, the transformation or harnessing of complexity, and the implications of such methods. Example topics of interest relate to

(1) complex sensing networks to protect cities and  surrounding metropolitan areas from chemical and biological threats;

(2) new strategies to protect natural resources;

(3) new concepts in war-gaming and conflict simulation; and

(4) design, synthesis and characterization of materials trapped in non-equilibrium states.


Science of Design:  The study of processes and methods of design, i.e., ways in which we transform a given state of the world into a preferred one using tools and technologies. Example topics of interest relate to

(1) the creation of novel optics with metamaterials;

(2) strategies for building microscopic, distributable cameras;

(3) design concepts in synthesis and use of nonlinear materials;

(4) digital representations of engineering information that can anticipate failure, evolve, and merge with other designs; and

(5) mathematical optimization and its use in design.


Noosphere : Creating, measuring, and modeling foundational questions regarding humans, human-machine interactions, and society.

Example topics of interest include:

(1) understanding the limits of human perception;

(2) developing a more detailed understanding of human variability; and

(3) implications and applications of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.


Fundamental Limits: Creating, measuring, and modeling the boundaries of our current understanding of the natural, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences using rigorous and reproducible, hypothesis-driven, scientific methods.

Example topics of interest include:

(1) understanding the limits of natural intelligence and boundaries of machine intelligence,

(2) establishing the limits of quantum effects, and

(3) determining the limits of chemical-based propulsion.


New Foundations: Discovering new natural phenomena or developing entirely new approaches to address scientific or technical challenges. Topics in this area will uncover new scientific or engineering principles. This area of interest differs from Fundamental Limits in that Fundamental Limits seeks to define the boundary conditions of known phenomena, whereas New Foundations is focused on uncovering the unknown.

Topics of interest are expected to evolve quickly, but current examples include:

(1) correlating effects of uncertainties in materials,

(2) development of knowledge and tools associated with designer metals,

(3) new human-computer interaction concepts that enable improved human-machine symbiotic decision-making,

(4) exploring alternative models to computation,

(5) strategies to leverage the Earth’s magnetic field, and

(6) new concepts in ultra-rapid and high magnitude energy transduction.


DARPA Tech Forum Previews National Security Future 

In Sep 2015, More than 1,400 scientists and engineers engaged Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s “Wait, What?” , a forum on future technologies … on their potential to radically change how we live and work, and on the opportunities and challenges these technologies will raise within the broadly defined domain of national security.

DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar told the audience that the ultimate goal of the forum — in line with the agency’s mission –, “is to make the pivotal early investments in breakthrough technologies to create huge new possibilities for national security.”


MIT Lincoln Laboratory demonstrates novel laser at technology expo 

Researchers from MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Laser Technology and Applications Group were invited by DARPA to Wait, What? to demonstrate the advanced, 101-element optical phased array that they had developed under the agency’s sponsorship. At the Laboratory’s booth, the engineers conducted demonstrations to highlight the capability of this unique fiber laser that coherently combines an array of 101 optical emitters to produce a powerfully bright single beam.

A high-brightness, concentrated beam can enhance various applications; for example, metal can be cut or welded with a laser if the beam intensity is high, and a high-energy beam that can propagate over longer distances than can a diffuse array of beams could improve the range of laser communication systems.

The researchers explained to visitors that the challenge in developing this laser is to have the individual beams from all 101 emitters arrive at precisely the same time to a designated point in the far-field plane. To achieve this simultaneous arrival, all the path lengths of the 101 emitters need to be matched to much less than a 1 μm wavelength (less than 1/50th the diameter of a hair). The research team solved the synchronization of the beams by maneuvering a set of phase modulators, which sped up or slowed down the beams such that they all arrived together to create a bright central spot at a target.

The team also demonstrated phase-control algorithm that enabled the phased-array beam to track the moving target. After they showed visitors how to steer a beam and how to compensate for the random fiber path-length variations in an environment that does not have turbulence and atmospheric disturbances, the Lincoln Laboratory team demonstrated beam propagation in a more challenging environment.

They injected hot air into a segment of a beam path so viewers could watch on a monitor how the beam degraded because of the disturbance to it caused by the air’s motion. “Our control algorithm compensated for the disturbance by iteratively applying a correction to all 101 emitters in order to optimize the central intensity of the beam,” said Montoya, who further explained that the algorithm predistorts the 101-element beam before it propagates through an atmospheric disturbance.


Neuroscience Milestones

DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez presented preliminary findings from the RAM program at a DARPA-sponsored event in St. Louis called “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum. ” Initial results indicate that it is indeed possible to capture and interpret neural codes coming from the brain during memory encoding and retrieval, and improve recall using targeted electrical stimulation of the brain.

DARPA reports that a 28-year-old paralyzed for more than a decade from a spinal cord injury is the first person to be able to “feel” physical sensations through a prosthetic hand connected directly to his brain. He also could identify which of his mechanical fingers was being touched.

In the second milestone, scientists from DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory program have found that targeted electrical brain stimulation can improve memory.

Electrical arrays implanted in the brain’s memory centers show promise for helping patients improve scores on memory tests. The research, DARPA says, could lead to therapies for wounded warriors and others with memory deficits caused by traumatic brain injury or disease.

The research is addressing the important issue of the ideal timing of electrical stimuli involved in the neural codes. “Should we provide electrical inputs when the lists are first being taught and memorized, or should we stimulate when the person is working to recall those items? We still have a lot to learn about how the human brain encodes declarative memory, but these early experiments are clarifying issues such as these and suggest there is great potential to help people with certain kinds of memory deficits,” Sanchez said.


Space Robotics 

Pamela Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office and a former astronaut, discussed a DARPA project called Phoenix that involves building space robotics in geosynchronous Earth orbit, or GEO.
GEO is a stable region of space 36,000 kilometers, or 22,370 miles, from Earth. Because the orbital period matches almost exactly the time it takes for Earth to rotate on its axis in a day, Melroy said, objects in GEO seem to be hovering directly over one place on the planet.

Because GEO is a stable environment for machines — but hostile for people because of high radiation levels — DARPA thinks the key technology there is space robotics.
As part of Phoenix, DARPA is building a robotic arm like the one that helped build the International Space Station but with greater levels of automation and safety, Melroy said. It has, for example, robot reflexes and compliance control to minimize the risk of debris from collisions.


Port of Call 

“We think this is a critical capability to building a transportation hub that allows transportation to and from Earth’s surface, from low Earth orbit to GEO, and even beyond Earth orbit,” she added.

Space capabilities are not about a single monolithic satellite with a few capabilities, Melroy said. DARPA sees them as creating a vibrant, robust ecosystem that involves transportation, repair, refueling, upgrading and on-site construction.

“So look at the great seafaring port cities in the world for inspiration,” the former astronaut said, “and imagine a port of call at 36,000 kilometers.”


Autonomous AI? 

Another presenter was Tom Dietterich, professor of computer science at Oregon State University and president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

During a talk on artificial intelligence, he discussed autonomous AI systems like those that operate some hedge funds, and like the fully autonomous financial systems that run Wall Street trading. Other examples are self-driving cars and automated surgical assistants. AI is enabling technology for such applications, all of which involve high-stakes decision-making about matters of life and death, severe injury or huge amounts of money, Dieterrich said.

Some people are afraid of the technology, he added, as indicated by Stephen Hawking’s recent warning that robotic AI could end mankind and Elon Musk’s statement that AI is civilization’s biggest existential threat.

Dieterrich says such fears are fed by misconceptions, one of which is that someday computers will become smarter than people and then one day they achieve self-awareness and turn against humanity, as did the AI network Skynet in James Cameron’s 1984 film “The Terminator.”


Smarter than People 

“In fact, our tool AI systems [for example, personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana] are already much smarter than we are,” he said. “We wouldn’t use them if they weren’t superior to people.”

But AI systems won’t be fully autonomous unless people design them to be that way, Dieterrich said, and give the systems access to resources like money, electrical power or materials.

“When we give them control over those resources, that’s when we face a challenge,” he added. “So I think the danger of AI is not so much in artificial intelligence itself … but in the autonomy. What should we give computers control over?”

Dieterrich himself doesn’t think people should create fully autonomous systems — those over which they have no control. And when people do need the faster-than-human speed and autonomy of computer systems to trade hedge funds or respond to cyber attacks, he says, they should always leave themselves the option of pulling the plug.


Are We Alone? 

Near the end of the forum, the founding Director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office Geoff Ling moderated a panel titled “Are We Alone and Have We Been?” During the discussion, a paleontologist-molecular geneticist, a biophysicist and an astronomer discussed the likelihood and implications of finding other life in the universe.

As the session wrapped up, Ling observed that some in the audience might wonder why a national security research and development organization like DARPA would focus on extraterrestrial life.

“DARPA has a unique mandate,” he explained. “We need to think about things that others really don’t. Where is the next surprise that will come our way? Where’s the next surprise that we can generate? You don’t know unless you ask, and you won’t find unless you explore.”

The world of biology is young relative to the fields of physics, mathematics and chemistry, but biology is a rich discipline and a place, Ling said, “where surprise is waiting for us.”

Not to engage the science and engineering community in such discussions, he added, “is not in DARPA’s best interest — not in the nation’s best interest. So if somebody’s going to do it, let it be DARPA.”


References and resources also include:

Australian Defence aims to boost innovation through Defence Innovation Hub, Next Generation Technology Fund (NGTF) and Capability and Technology Demonstrator program

Australian Defence has launched a number of initiatives to boost innovation in defence sector.  It has launched  Defence Innovation Hub, focused on late-stage technology development, and the Next Generation Technology Fund (NGTF), focused on defence-related research.

The Defence Innovation Hub, managed by the Defence Industry Policy Division, has responsibilities for facilitating research efforts “from concept exploration and technology demonstration, through to prototyping and integrated capability demonstration and evaluation”. It has a nominal funding allocation of AU$640 million over ten years. The second tranche of Defence Innovation Hub investments worth $12.3 million has been announced today by Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, ensuring Defence has access to ground-breaking technology. The Defence Innovation Hub was established in December last year as a robust program to facilitate and nurture the development of innovative technology and ideas in support of Defence capability,” Hon Christopher Pyne MP said.  “The Government has invested $1.6 billion to develop Defence capability through growth in the capacity and capability of Australia’s defence industry and innovation sector.

The NGTF is overseen by DSTG and has been allocated AU$730 million over the same period. Sitting alongside these programs is the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC), which “provides advice to the Australian defence industry, supports industry growth, and facilitates innovation”.

The “innovation priorities” that set overarching guidance for both the Defence Innovation Hub and NGTF identify six streams according to the Force Structure Review: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, space and cyber; key enablers; land combat and amphibious warfare; strike and air combat; maritime and anti-submarine warfare; air and sea lift. The  “strategic priorities” of the  NGTF has emphasis on: directed energy weapons; intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; cyber and space.


Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program

It had launched the CTD program  that aims to show  Australian Defence Force (ADF) users how leading edge technology can be integrated quickly into existing, new, enhanced or replacement high-priority capabilities. The CTD program is organisationally located within DST Group. DST provides a management office for the CTD Program and contract management for most of the CTD projects.

The CTD program is not a grants program; rather it is a collaborative activity conducted under contract between Defence and industry, or research organisations, to deliver a demonstration of the capability potential of new technology. The program’s emphasis is on technology in Australian / New Zealand industry that is going to provide capability advantages for Defence and allow Australian / New Zealand industry to position itself to provide in-service capabilities and through-life-support.

A Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program was raised in 2001 under Project AIR 5425 to demonstrate that the DSTO wingkit could extend the range of the 500lb class GBU-38 JDAM weapon .The addition of the DSTO wingkit to the JDAM represents a significant improvement in capability; by greatly enhancing the range of the standard JDAM it will allow the RAAF to engage their targets from beyond the range of enemy air defences.



 Defence Priority Areas

CTD proposals may address any of the following Defence capability area: Communications in the Sea and Land Domains, Communications in the Information Domain, Battlespace Awareness in the Sea and Land Domains, Battlespace Awareness in Information Domain, Force Protection in the Land Domain, Force Protection in the Cyberspace Domain, Logistics in the Sea, Land and Air Domain and National Support in the Sea, Land and Air Domains

Some of the successful programs developed under CTD program are:

Australian Defence showcases innovative technologies developed under Capability and Technology Demonstrator program

The Australian Department of Defence has showcased a number of innovative technologies designed to support the Australian Defence Force, or ADF, as its participation in National Science Week. Among the technologies showcased were the low-cost, lightweight force protection systems for soldiers under the Redwing programme of the department.

Chief Defence Scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky said the event highlights the diverse range of technologies developed by Defence scientists and manufactured by the Australian industry under the Capability and Technology Demonstrator, or CTD, Programme.


Non-Rigid Electromechanical Exoskeleton was part of the technologies designed for the modern soldiers. The exoskeleton technology takes the weight off a soldier’s back while carrying heavy backpacks, and transfers the weight load to the ground to reduce fatigue, pain and injury when walking over long distances.

The technology uses the Soldier Integrated Power System, which is a kit of flexible, lightweight solar cells, and power-generating electronic textiles that can reduce the weight of batteries carried by soldiers. The technology was developed by the Australian company Tectonica under the CTD programme, and has been successfully demonstrated.

To date, Defence scientists are exploring a novel energy-harvesting approach that uses power from the structural vibrations of vehicles. The approach converts the vibrations into electrical power for embedded diagnostic sensors and devices.

Recently, Defence scientists have developed a unique computer security device called Digital Video Guard that provides protection against cyber intrusion. And the scientists have won an innovation award for the development of the device.

“Wing kit” for the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM.

Another successful technology developed by the scientists was the “wing kit” for the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. Zelinsky said the successful technology demonstrates the value that science and technology adds to Defence capability.

“The wing kit, developed by our scientists, enables the standard JDAM weapon to more accurately find longer range targets, giving the launch aircraft a fire-and-forget capability at a safe standoff distance,” he said. The first wing kits, manufactured by the Australian company Ferra Engineering, were recently delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force.

“The technology examples highlighted demonstrate the close partnerships between Defence, industry and universities,” Zelinsky said.


Haptically-Enabled Robotic Vehicle

The Centre for Intelligent Systems Research at Deakin University has developed a mobile platform with a controllable arm that gives operators a sense of the weight and solidity of an object being manipulated.

This technology improves the ability of operators working at a safe distance to identify and manipulate hazards such as improvised explosive devices by providing a sense of how the object feels. The robotic arm is fitted with strain gauges that meter the force being applied to manipulate the object. This force is reproduced via actuators mounted in the hand controls that push back on the operator’s hands according to the force being applied by the arm, thereby producing the sense of feel. Stereo camera vision gives the operator depth perception that improves the accuracy of arm control and also enhances the realistic sense for the operator of being right at the scene


Kestral Aerial Surveillance System

Kestrel is a video motion target indication technology produced by Sentient.

It enables real-time video-based target identification operations to be conducted over sea and land with unmanned aerial vehicles and manned surveillance aircraft. The system operates by comparing pixels in frames of video footage of a particular scene. If any differences are found between frames, the system alerts an operator to the point in the scene where something has moved or is moving, this possibly being indicative of enemy activity.


Naval Automated Personnel Tracking

This tracking system, developed by Blue Glue, ensures the whereabouts of all personnel aboard a vessel can be known at all times through use of wearable radio transmitter tags.

Every 1.5 seconds, the tag emits a pulse of data that identifies the tag wearer. Radio receivers fitted around the ship detect this signal, and based on the strength of signal received, the system can determine where on board the person is. Every tag is programmed to transmit at a unique time so that transmissions do not mask each other. The system also features the use of laser and infrared beams as hazard zone entry alert devices. If a person steps through the beam and interupts light transmission to a receptor, the system is alerted.


Fibre Laser Sensor Array

The Fibre Laser Sensor array, jointly developed by DSTO and Thales Australia, is a sea-bed surveillance array that detects sound with extreme sensitivity using micro-sized lasers embedded in the core of optic fibres.

The system is very robust, lightweight and ultra-thin and uses minimal electric power compared to the previous electronics-based kinds. It can be rapidly deployed from a rigid hull inflatable boat and brought into operation almost immediately.

During trials in the West Australian Exercise and in Jervis Bay, it successfully detected the sound emissions of vessels of different sizes and sonar signature types, and even detected the presence of Navy divers as well.

Throughout its history the CTD program has proven to be highly successful in its goal of bringing together Defence, research organisations and industry (large and small) to work on developing new technologies to the demonstrator level.


References and Resources also include:

QR analysis can improve the Quality of requirements and address Gaps in Formulation of Indian Army’s General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs)

Requirements development is paramount to successful acquisition outcomes. Properly developed requirements enhance competition, ensure sound business strategies, provide the basis for realistic Government estimates, mitigate requirements creep, and help enable the Department meet critical acquisition timelines.

The formulation of the GSQR is one of the initial processes of any new capital procurement. It broadly lays down the reason why the equipment is required, its physical and operational details, as well as the maintainability and quality requirements.

Indian Army is often criticized for laying down unrealistic General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) that leads to long delays in acquisition and cost overruns. It ends up creating a never ending circle of Request for Proposals, Weapons trials rounds, bid cancellation and re-issue of Request for Proposals further delaying their procurements.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar once had said that GSQRs of Army seems like right out of” Marvel comic Movies “, clearly hinting that technologies requested in Indigenous weapons systems sometimes purely are absurd and not realistic in nature. He also while talking on the sideline of India today conclave 2015 said that he was not happy with Armed forces repeatedly changing requirements in the weapons systems currently been developed by various Public sector units, he also said that he has ensured that no more last minutes changes will be entertained hence forth once staff requirement has been defined .

However, Military justifies its strict and changing requirements based on requirement of state of art systems to tackle future likely and dangerous scenarios as well as rapidly chnaging threat scenarios. Recently The Indian Navy rejected the Naval variant of the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) developed by DRDO. The major reason arises from the Navy’s strict specification of its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC2) based on future operational environment when China is expected to deploy two carrier strike groups in the Indian Ocean reportedly of  80,000-ton vessels class capable of carrying 60 aircraft.

Systems Analysis of weapon system requirements projected by services may contribute immensely in reducing time and cost over runs by techniques such as feasibility, cost effectiveness, and risk analyses.

 Significance of the GSQR

The GSQR is akin to preliminary specification of the desired product. Not only does it reflect upon the type of product that will be procured at the end of the complete procurement cycle but also all the subsequent actions in the procurement process; may it be incorporation of the technical parameters in the Request for Proposal (RFP), field, environmental, technical and maintainability evaluation of the equipment fielded by the vendors and even the response by good defence manufacturing companies to the RFP are dependent on it.

The common practice followed by the Services Headquarters in preparation of this document is based on ascertaining the requirement from the field army, identifying vendors and seeking physical, operational and technical information through Requests for Information (RFI). The comments of stakeholders like complete cross-section of end users, the Directorate General of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (DGEME), the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and the Army Centre for Electromagnetics (ACE) are then sought and incorporated before obtaining approval of the final document from the General Staff Equipment Policy Committee (GSEPC). The user/nominated directorate may call the potential vendors for formal interaction before preparing a final draft, if it so desires.

GSQR that is not well formulated would necessitate a fresh start in order to address voids/lacunae discovered into it. This further considerably stalls the procurement process of the equipment for which the GSQR was formulated. The common voids are overstating a technical parameter which may lead to reduction in vendor base, or not specifying a technical parameter which may lead to ambiguities at the time of trial, etc.


In US DOD Capability gaps drive the requirements that drive a materiel solution.

The Army’s process has evolved over the years; however, the basic concept of identifying system capabilities has always been a three-step procedure. First, it begins with the identification of a broad need or capability gap. Second, non-materiel or materiel solutions are recommended, and every suggested proposal undergoes evaluation to determine whether it fulfills the need or capability. Third, a course of action is selected and refined with key performance parameters (KPPs).

The DoD evolved RGS into JCIDS. The change from RGS to JCIDS provided the DoD with the means to emphasize and structure the RGP to begin looking at programs from a Joint perspective for all of the different Services. Consequently, the evolution of RGS to JCIDS resulted in the modification of the requirements documents that facilitated materiel solutions.

The primary goal of JCIDS is to provide the Joint Force with the necessary capabilities required to operate in full-spectrum operations. JCIDS has three founding principles:

  1. Description of needs by capabilities instead of systems,
  2. Emphasis on needs at the joint level instead of at the level of separated branches [of Service], and
  3. One single general or flag officer to manage the separate DoD functional portfolios.


Each of these basic Army steps has an associated requirements document based on the time frame of the specific RGP (JCIDS) that is being followed. At Step 1, Very Broad Needs uses the ICD; at Step 2, Performance Objectives uses the CDD; and at Step 3, System-Specific Requirements uses the CPD.


U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command have a role within the process of developing requirements documents. TRADOC examines the possibility for non-materiel solutions, materiel solutions, or some combination of both to satisfy a specified capability gap. Their decision is based on DOTmLPF-P. In this regard, TRADOC examines a capability gap in terms of functional area, the relevant range of military operations, desired effects, time, DOTMLPF, and policy implications and constraints (HQDA, 2009).

The analysis requires the development KPPs. These are the essential attributes to achieve the desired capability. The attributes are expressed in terms and values of thresholds and objectives. The values are the required minimum and desired maximum capability for an attribute’s stated performance within a given performance specification. This creates a small range of flexibility in capability that the program manager can use as trade space between performance and cost. Additionally, KPPs are identified in the CDD/CPD directly traceable to attributes identified within the ICD. All of the analysis, such as the capabilities based assessment, from TRADOC is captured in the ICD.


Initial Capability Document (ICD)

The initial requirements document in the Army’s RGP is the ICD. It is a non-system-specific document that states an operational capability need(s). By this, it is not directed for a specific desired system. The ICD identifies a capability in broad operational terms.  This document is required at the decision point prior to moving into the materiel solution analysis phase.

The purpose of the ICD is to document the possible non-materiel or materiel solution or a mixture of both to satisfy an identified capability gap.

In CJCSI 3170.01C (CJCS, 2003), the ICD was defined as follows: Documents the need for a materiel approach to a specific capability gap derived from an initial analysis of materiel approaches executed by the operational user and, as required, an independent analysis of materiel alternatives. It defines the capability gap in terms of the functional area, the relevant range of military operations, desired effects and time. The ICD summarizes the results of the DOTMLPF analysis and describes why non-materiel changes alone have been judged inadequate in fully providing the capability.

The ICD only describes the capability needed or a capability gap. However, if a materiel solution is approved by the MDA, then an analysis of alternatives (AoA) might be required.


Capability Development Document

The CDD is developed during MS A and is required prior to the MDA’s decision for approval for moving into MS B. The ICD develops and guides the CDD. A CDD is not submitted until the AoA is complete, unless there is an approved justification regarding why an AoA is not required. The CDD is the document that allows the sponsor(s) to further refine the required capabilities.

These capabilities are expressed as performance attributes that contain threshold and objective values (HQDA, 2009). The sponsor enhances the capability required by defining the KPPs, key system attribute (KSA), or other descriptors. CDDs must be updated with any changes to the KPPs.

Additionally, the KPPs contained in the CDD are taken verbatim into the acquisition program baseline (APB) and are validated by the JROC

As per the JCIDS Manual, the CDD format discusses the operating environment of the system, Analysis Summary and CONOPS Summary. It includes Threat Summary that Summarize the projected threat environment and the specific threat capabilities to be countered to ensure the capability gap can be mitigated. It includes Spectrum Requirements. Weapon Safety Assurance i.e. for munitions capable of being handled, transported, used, or stored by any Service in joint warfighting environments.

It should describe, at an appropriate level of detail, the key logistics criteria, such as system reliability, maintainability, transportability, and supportability that will help minimize the system’s logistics footprint, enhance mobility, and reduce the total ownership cost. It should describe how the systems will be moved either to or within the theater, and identify any lift constraints. For intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, issues relating to information security and protection standards

Anti-tamper, embedded instrumentation, electronic attack (EA), and wartime reserve mode (WARM) requirements. Human Systems Integration (HSI) considerations that have a major impact on system effectiveness and suitability.  Natural environmental factors (climatic design type, terrain, meteorological and oceanographic factors, impacts and effects).

Weather, oceanographic and astro-geophysical support needs throughout the program’s expected life cycle, including data accuracy and forecast needs.


Capability Production Document (CPD)

The CPD can also be an amended version of the CDD, which is useful since these documents have a similar format (HQDA, 2009). “The CPD addresses the production elements specific to a single increment of an acquisition program resulting from an approved CDD or mature existing technology”. A key difference between the CDD and the CPD is the use of performance attributes. The CPD transforms the performance specification threshold and objective values into production threshold and objective values (HQDA, 2009). Another difference between the two documents is that a CPD is required for any acquisition program to enter into production, whereas the CDD is needed for an acquisition program that still needs to develop mature technology before proceeding into production.


Need to improve the Quality of requirements

There is requirement to improve the quality of requirements writing. It is critical to continually improve the efficiency of JCIDS capabilities documents in order to better guide the process of creating a materiel solution. BBP 2.0 outlines the importance of clearly defined requirements for all stakeholders.

CPT Nathaniel P. Costa, and MAJ Anh H. Ha, USA in their report “The Army Materiel Requirements Documents: Qualitative Analysis of Efficiency and Effectiveness,” give many recommendations.

Poorly written capabilities documents often lead to requirements creep. Better quality and more understandable capabilities documents can anticipate and prevent requirements creep. Anticipation may prevent future ECPs. This could result in cost avoidance. Also, no ECP means there is no need to change the system design or conduct re-engineering to achieve an added performance/capability. This helps preserve the acquisition schedule.

Requirements often employ very technical information. An example of this is the following: the warfighter asks for an M4 rifle requirement, instead of asking for the capability of a weapon that does not weigh more than 12 lbs, has an effective range of 500 meters, and is integrated with optics.

The requirements should focus on a perceived capability and not the identification of a specific materiel solution. Capability gaps must be identified in a way that allows the acquisition workforce to work within identified constraints to fill these gaps.

For example DoD must seek out the capability to effectively destroy a bunker versus demanding a requirement of a 120-mm mortar shot from a tube that meets the expectations. If a bunker can be taken out with another materiel solution that possesses greater effectiveness than a 120-mm mortar, and is more efficient and effective within the parameters of the acquisition process, then this is the right solution to fill the capability gap.

The “trade-offs” should be used as a tool when refining the requirements of a materiel solution. The balance between survivability and maneuverability is an example of a requirements trade-off. Survivability usually requires additional weight and takes away from maneuverability. Thus neither threshold nor objective values would be met for either requirement. The CBTDEV’s willingness to make trade-offs is the solution.

The priority that identifies survivability over maneuverability is half the solution. The other half comes into play with a trade-off between objective and threshold values. A trade-off can be established to decrease the expected threshold value of maneuverability in order to reach the threshold value of survivability for the solution. This collaboration on trade-offs between stakeholders is essential in defining requirements. Stakeholders must always remember that every organization has the best interests of the warfighter in mind. Working on realistic and reasonable trade-offs allows everyone to build stronger relationships and enhance the government requirement network.

One of the tools that can be used is requirements traceability matrix (RTM). The RTM provides a way to ensure traceability of all requirements for the specific product or system (Ofni Systems, n.d.). This traceability allows the ability to trace each requirement to a measureable factor that can be tested (Ofni Systems, n.d.). This allows for validation and verification of each requirement and capability



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4D printing makes objects that assemble themselves when heated

Zhen Ding at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and his colleagues have now developed a way to rapidly print rigid 4D objects with a commercial 3D printer and a heat source. They created a variety of objects, including a delicate flower that closes its petals, a flat star shape that morphs into a dome, and lattices that contract and elongate. The structures were made from flat 3D-printed strips that were then heated to make them curve

3D printing or additive manufacturing is ongoing revolution in manufacturing with its potential to fabricate any complex object and is being utilized from printing small components to full drones on Naval vessels, printing replacement parts for fighter aircrafts to printing ammunitions, textiles, metals, human organs, clothing, buildings and even food. Now 3D printing is evolving into 4D printing, which is the ability to 3D-print objects that can change their properties, shape or appearance over time [the fourth dimension], or in response to some condition.

The potential applications for 4-D printed objects reaches across scientific disciplines and uses. Window shades that can change to allow more or less light in during the day. Furniture that is packaged flat, but self assembles in your home after purchase; Shoes/clothes/gear that adapt to the user’s performance and the changing environment, thus offering enhanced performance, fit, or style.

Researchers like Lipson think 4-D printing could have a big impact on robotics: Printers could print robots that build printers that build robots. “Material objects could be recycled not by saving some of the materials such as plastic to be melted down and reused, but by commanding the object to decompose into programmable particles or components that then can be reused to form new objects and perform new functions. The long-term potential of PM/4DP thus could be a more environmentally sustainable world in which fewer resources are necessary to provide products and services to a growing world population and rapidly expanding global middle class.”

” Now a new disruptive technology is on the horizon that may take 3D printing to an entirely new level of capability with profound implications for society, the economy, and the global operating environment of government, business, and the public,” note Thomas A. Campbell.

4D printing

Skylar Tibbits, founder of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, coined the term “4D printing” in a 2013 TED Talk and showed how a straight plastic strand folded into the letters M, I, T when dropped in water.

4D printing, where the fourth dimension entails a change in form or function after 3D printing, is one recent example of PM that allows objects to be 3D printed and then self-transform in shape and material property when exposed to a predetermined stimulus, such as being submerged in water or exposed to heat, pressure, current, ultraviolet light, or other energy source.

“Rather than construct a static material or one that simply changes its shape, we’re proposing the development of adaptive, biomimetic composites that re-program their shape, properties or functionality on demand, based upon external stimuli,” said Anna C. Balazs, a chemical engineering professor at University of Pittsburgh. The U.S. Army Research Office has awarded $855,000 to three universities to make advances in 4D printing.

Professor Marc in het Panhuis’s team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, located at the University of Wollongong, have built an autonomous valve that opens in warm water and closes in cold water. The valve is made out of four types of hard or soft hydrogels – networks of polymers – fabricated at the same time using a 3D printer. Inside the valve’s structure a series of actuators respond to hot or cold water to open and close the valve.


4D printing makes objects that assemble themselves when heated

The most common materials used in 4D printing, shape-memory polymers, normally require at least five steps to make them into adaptable objects. Hydrogels are simpler to use, but too soft to fashion into rigid structures. Zhen Ding at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and his colleagues have now developed a way to rapidly print rigid 4D objects with a commercial 3D printer and a heat source.

The strips, which can be printed in less than a minute, are made from layers of a stiff shape-memory polymer paired with a rubbery elastomer – a polymer with elastic properties. When heated to 45°C, the shape-memory polymer component relaxes and allows the elastomer to bend. As the strip cools, the shape-memory polymer stiffens again and locks the object into its new, curved configuration.

One limitation to the technique is that it permanently fixes the structure in place after one heating cycle, says Geoff Spinks at the University of Wollongong in Australia. “This rules out applications that require reversible shape changes, like artificial muscles for robots and prosthetics,” he says.

But the method could be used to make complex structures that don’t require such shape-shifting, says Spinks. For example, compact cardiac stents – tubes for placing in blood vessels to keep them open – could open up in an artery in response to body temperature. By fine-tuning the temperature transition point, medicine capsules could also be designed to bend and break open when body temperature rises with infection. And flat-pack furniture could assemble itself when heated.


Technological Challenges

Thomas A. Campbell, Skylar Tibbits and Banning Garrett in “The Next Wave: 4D Printing and Programming the Material World”, list several PM technical challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years include :

  • Design—How do we program future CAD software to encompass PM with multiscale, multi-element and dynamic components?
    • Materials—How do we create materials with multifunctional properties and embedded logic capabilities?
    • Adhesions between voxels—How can we ensure that adhesion among voxels is comparable to normally fabricated systems, while simultaneously allowing reconfigurability or recyclability after use?
    • Energy—How can we generate, store, and use passive and abundant energy sources to activate individual voxels and PM?
    • Electronics—How do we efficiently and effectively embed controllable electronics (or electronic-like capabilities) at the submillimeter scale?
    • Programming—How do we program and communicate with individual voxels both physically and digitally? How do we program variable state-changes (3+ physical states)?
    Adaptability to different environments—How do we program and design environmentally responsive voxels?
    • Assembly—What external forces would be needed to cause macro-scale self-assembly of voxels?

Kevin Ge Qi a materials scientist, works with shape-memory plastics at the Singapore University of Technology and Design points to two big challenges:
“Currently, the major challenge for 4-D printing is the material,” he says. Most of those used in traditional manufacturing are not suitable for 3-D or 4-D printing, he says. That’s why he and other researchers are trying to develop a catalog of materials — and combinations of those materials — that should prove useful.

Another obstacle is size. Most commercial 3-D printers that use different materials can make objects no smaller than a few centimeters. But that’s too big to be useful for most medical applications, he says. “If we want to advance the technology to biomedical devices, the size needs to be about a few microns or even smaller.” (A micron is one-millionth of a meter.)


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US DOD developing Fuel Cells to power Soldier wearables to Military Vehicles and Submarines to Military Bases

A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction. It converts hydrogen and oxygen into water, and in the process also creates electricity. Fuel cells provide many advantages, they are environment friendly as they don’t produce pollutants or greenhouse gasses, significantly improving our environment, high energy efficiency ( can be close to 80%  where they generate both heat and electricity), scalable providing power from milliwatts to megawatts, and complementary i.e.  readily be combined with other energy technologies, such as batteries, wind turbines, solar panels, and super-capacitors. There are many types of fuel cells, and each can operate in a clean manner using different fuels including hydrogen, natural gas, methanol, ethanol, biogas.

In just the last two years, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda have released vehicles that run on fuel cells, and carmakers such as GM, BMW and VW are working on prototypes. Fuel cells can  also  extend the operating range and mission of military systems by reducing the dependence on carbon-based fuel sources. They also save energy and reduce the operating costs associated with dependence on foreign oil. “As the U.S. moves to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and become more energy efficient, this technology may well define the future of power and energy for the war fighter,” writes ONR.

According to US Military, the reductions in the Department’s need for energy can improve warfighting capabilities, such as increased range, better endurance, longer time on station, and reduced requirements for resupply. Improved energy performance also can reduce the risk and effects of attacks on supply lines and enable tactical and operational superiority.

While boosting the military energy readiness by actively promoting low-and no-carbon energy alternatives, the Defense Department is also working to reduce its use of fossil fuels and the resulting greenhouse gases being produced. Another driver behind the American military’s move to clean sources of energy is climate change – a threat that military leaders continue to warn policy makers is very real and will impact the military, whether it’s responding to natural disasters or responding to conflicts caused by scarce resources.

General Motors has revealed a futuristic-looking hydrogen-powered self-driving army truck. This concept vehicle is essentially a giant self-driving platform that can hold any kind of vehicle body — or even just cargo. Something like this could be useful in disaster zones or in conflicts, the automaker said.

GM has been working on hydrogen fuel cell projects with the military for many years. Earlier this year, the U.S. military began testing a hydrogen-powered GM pickup called the ZH2 . And last year, the Navy began testing a GM-produced hydrogen-powered unmanned submarine.

General Motors Co. and the U.S. Army have developed the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, an off-road designed fuel-cell electric vehicle the Army will test next year as it considers the viability of using hydrogen-powered vehicles in military use. Specifically, the Army intends to test the Colorado ZH2 fuel cells for quiet, silent watch operation; reduced acoustic and thermal signatures; high torque; low fuel consumption and water by-product for use in the field. GM is also applying that hydrogen fuel cell technology for US Navy unmanned undersea vehicles through a project with the ONR and is exploring a variety of aerospace applications.

Hydrogen power is particularly well-suited for military use, according to GM, because fuel cells produce very little heat. That makes them harder for enemies to detect. Additionally, hydrogen can be produced in the field from a number of different sources, which means that fuel for the vehicles won’t always have to be transported to the vehicles.

The ONR under the Fuel cells program is exploring improved power generation capabilities within the critical weight and volume constraints of future systems that are designed for increased capability and agility, including all electric naval ships, unmanned (air, surface, subsurface, ground) vehicles, aircraft auxiliary power units and man-portable power applications.

“Fuel cells offer a highly efficient and fuel flexible technology that cleanly produces power and heat with low or zero emissions. Using renewably produced fuels such as hydrogen fuel cells can reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil, leading to a secure energy future for America. With a multitude of end-uses—such as distributed power for backup, primary, and combined heat-and-power systems; automobiles, buses, forklifts and other specialty vehicles; and auxiliary power units and portable electronics—fuel cell applications hold potential to dramatically impact the 21st century clean energy economy,” writes the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Fuel Cells

There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte that allows positively charged hydrogen ions (or protons) to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. The reactions that produce electricity take place at the electrodes. Every fuel cell also has an electrolyte, which carries electrically charged particles from one electrode to the other, and a catalyst, which speeds the reactions at the electrodes.

Fuel cells are classified primarily by the kind of electrolyte they employ. This classification determines the kind of electro-chemical reactions that take place in the cell, the kind of catalysts required, the temperature range in which the cell operates, the fuel required, and other factors. These characteristics, in turn, affect the applications for which these cells are most suitable.

The six fuel cell types are : PEMFC, Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell, DMFC, Direct Methanol Fuel Cell, PAFC, Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell, AFC, Alkaline Fuel Cell, MCFC, Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell and
SOFC, Solid Oxide Fuel Cell.

Individual fuel cells produce relatively small electrical potentials, about 0.7 volts, so cells are “stacked”, or placed in series, to create sufficient voltage to meet an application’s requirements. The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40–60%, or up to 85% efficient in cogeneration if waste heat is captured for use.


Emerging Fuel Cell Applications

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are typically used for military operations where manned flights would be too risky or difficult. They send back real-time imagery of activities on the ground and are usually powered by batteries that last up to 30 minutes before they need to recharge. Hydrogen fuel cells can increase UAV air time to approximately 8 hours and, after landing, can be refueled in less than 15 minutes. Also, there are no moving parts—meaning the fuel cell-powered UAV requires less maintenance and zero lubricants.

Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs)

In partnership with General Motors (GM), the Navy’s U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is developing a long-endurance unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV). The Navy started using fuel cells instead of batteries in UUVs to allow bigger payloads and longer runtimes. They recently completed an evaluation of a prototype at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Maryland. Because fuel cells are compact, lightweight, and reliable, they have the ability to run for long periods of time and support the Navy’s focus on energy technology for vehicles that need more endurance.

Light-Duty Trucks

GM is also working with the U.S. Army to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered light-duty utility truck. The ZH2, based on a Chevy Colorado, has a reinforced body with a suspension built for off-road handling. It’s also powered by a fuel cell and a battery that’s quieter than traditional internal combustion engines and gives off less heat. This will help in situations where the Army wants to reduce sound and thermal signatures. The truck comes with a 50-kilowatt battery—charged by the fuel cell—that can be removed to power other applications. The ZH2 can also keep soldiers hydrated since the only byproduct from the fuel cell is pure water. The Army is in the process of evaluating the truck for potential use in military operations.

Wearable Power Systems

Ideal equipment weight is 30% of a person’s body weight, but some soldiers have to carry more than 100 pounds. To lighten the load, the Army is looking into replacing lithium-ion batteries with fuel cells for power generation—decreasing battery weight by 50%. These “wearable power systems” for the dismounted solider can produce 20 watts (W) of continuous output and 35W of peak power. To aid this effort, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working to drive down the cost of aluminum hydride—a promising material that can be used for storing hydrogen to utilize in these portable fuel systems.

Scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory observed an unexpected result when combining urine with a newly engineered nano-powder based on aluminum. It instantly releases hydrogen from the urine at much higher rate than with ordinary water. The research team announced earlier this summer that a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder they were developing produced pure hydrogen when coming into contact with water. The researchers observed a similar reaction when adding their powder to any liquid containing water.

“We have calculated that one kilogram of aluminum powder can produce 220 kilowatts of power in just three minutes,” said Dr. Anit Giri, also an ARL researcher. Making use of urine as fuel source may result in tremendous benefits for Soldiers, officials said.

Fuel cells for soldiers

“Today’s challenge for our dismounted infantry Soldier is basically weight, so we have situations where some Soldiers are carrying in excess of 100 pounds. Ideally you want to be at a thirty percent body weight, so you want to carry like 30 pounds,” Dr. Tony Thampan, a chemical engineer in the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, said. “Before they would just limit the missions, and that takes away capability.”

Thampan modeled, designed, and developed a Soldier wearable power system that can cut a Soldier’s weight burden by up to four times. He did this by using a fuel cell membrane made of Aluminum hydride, or AlH3, which provides a better energy density than the common Li-on battery used today.

“Now that these solutions have increased energy density systems, you can go out on longer missions and keep the weight manageable,” Thampan said.

The wearable power system powers individual Soldier devices or all of a Soldier’s ensemble devices — such as worn radios and end user devices — through a power distribution system. It consists of a power unit with an internal starting battery, fuel gauge and fuel cartridges.

The system is flexible and can be worn in a pouch on the side of a Soldier’s vest. It has passed government ballistic testing requirements and is rated safe for Soldier’s to wear.


SAFCell Inc. Awarded Enhancement Grant from US Army to Produce a 50 Watt Fuel Cell Power Unit

SAFCell and UltraCell have commenced the design and fabrication of a 50 watt, propane-fueled power unit based on the use of SAFCell’s proprietary Solid Acid Fuel Cell stacks in UltraCell’s world-leading military portable power systems. This first-of- its-kind ultra-light power unit will reduce by half the total battery weight burden on the modern soldier, up to 44 pounds for a three-day mission, enabling them to carry more mission critical equipment and ammunition.

Commenting on the Enhancement award, SAFCell’s CEO and President Dr. Calum Chisholm said: “This award enables us to demonstrate the advantage of using our fuel-flexible Solid Acid Fuel Cell technology in UltraCell’s ultra-rugged, portable power system design. The portability, fuel-efficiency, and silence of the final unit will make it ideal not only for military use, but for commercial applications as well.”

SAFCell announced that it has won a competitive $3 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). SAFCell will use this funding to develop a solid acid electrochemical hydrogen compressor (EHC) that converts ammonia directly into high purity, high pressure hydrogen.

The solid acid EHC unit will enable onsite hydrogen generation and compression from renewable, energy-dense carbon-neutral liquid fuels (CNLF), such as ammonia and bio-methanol. Such one-step hydrogen generation and compression would enable low cost, wide-scale storage and delivery of renewable energy for use in both stationary and transportation sectors.

This award enables us to demonstrate that our fuel-flexible Solid Acid technology can generate hydrogen from any of the commercial fuels that our fuel cell systems run on, and in particular, we can run on renewable fuels like ammonia.


Fuel cell vehicles

FCVs represent a radical departure from vehicles powered by conventional internal combustion engines. Rather than relying on energy from an external source, FCVs could potentially self-generate more than twice the amount of energy of an internal combustion engine — without the noise or emissions. FCVs run on power generated onboard the vehicle through a chemical process using hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air. FCVs offer a potentially sustainable energy source through the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, with zero air emissions produced.


GM and U.S. Army to Demonstrate Extreme Off-Road Hydrogen Fuel Cell Chevrolet Colorado

General Motors and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) have modified a Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup truck to run on a commercial hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and will expose the truck to the extremes of daily military use for 12 months.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is important to GM’s advanced propulsion portfolio, and this enables us to put our technology to the test in a vehicle that will face punishing military duty cycles,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Fuel Cell Engineering activities.

Fuel cell propulsion has very high low-end torque capability useful in off-road environments. It also offers exportable electric power and quiet operation, attractive characteristics to both commercial and military use.

“FCVs are very quiet vehicles, which scouts, special operators and other specialties place a premium,” he said. “What’s more, fuel cells generate water as a by-product, something extremely valuable in austere environments.”

Hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technology helps address two major environmental challenges with automobiles today – petroleum use and carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on renewable hydrogen from sources like wind and biomass. Water vapor is the only emission.


Navy considering Fuel cells for Unmanned Underwater Vehicles to submarines

ONR and its partners across government, defense and private industry are exploring fuel cell power to expand warfighter capabilities — whether to reduce the size and weight of man-portable devices or to meet megawatt requirements for shipboard power. A fuel cell vehicle (FCV) uses hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion instead of a standard internal combustion engine.

Within the Navy and Marine Corps, ONR has long recognized that greater fuel efficiency can improve the effectiveness of U.S. forces. In the field, FCVs would increase mission endurance and stealth, while reducing logistical burdens and costs.

Currently, two ONR-sponsored FCVs operate at the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton. These vehicles provide instant torque from the start without a drop of oil, only emitting water vapor. FCVs require no pistons or cylinders. Because they have no transmission, FCVs relieve drivers of manual shifting. Acceptance of the technology is widening by users who find them fun, clean and “green” to operate.


GM collaborating with Navy for fuel cells in Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cells convert high-energy hydrogen efficiently into electricity, resulting in vehicles with greater range and endurance than those powered with batteries. Under the ONR’s Innovative Naval Prototype program for Large Displacement UUVs (LDUUV), energy is a core technology in the Navy’s goals for vehicles with more than 60 days endurance. The Navy plans to test the LDUUV in the open sea this year and could field a first squadron of the robotic submarines by 2020.

The Naval Research Laboratory recently concluded an evaluation of a prototype unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with a GM fuel cell at the heart of the vehicle powertrain.

“Our in-water experiments with an integrated prototype show that fuel cells can be game changers for autonomous underwater systems,” said Frank Herr, ONR’s department head for Ocean Battlespace Sensing. “Reliability, high energy, and cost effectiveness — all brought to us via GM’s partnering — are particularly important as Navy looks to use UUVs as force multipliers.”

“GM’s fuel cells are compact and lightweight, and have high reliability and performance. Lower cost is achievable through volume production. These attributes match the goals of the Navy to develop reliable, affordable systems,” claims GM.

In future  submarines could be power by Hydrogen Fuel Cells, The advantage of a fuel-cell system aboard submarines is their air independent operation.


Fuel cells for Military bases

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is powering stateside installations as well as bases in forward operating locations with fuel cells—electrochemical cells that convert fuel sources into electric currents. The efforts result in money savings, a reduction of the dependence on foreign oil, essentially unlimited power generation and a cleaner environment.

For backup power, installations can connect fuel cells to a grid so the energy sources will kick in during an emergency without a disruption in electrical services. This ensures the continued operation of mission critical resources such as computer rooms, telephone switching equipment, command centers, hospitals and emergency centers.

Nick Josefik, a mechanical engineer at the ERDC-CERL, says that over the years the laboratory has installed more than 200 fuel cells in various sizes. These range from 500-watt models that back up a few computers to 250- to 500-megawatt systems that can power entire subdivisions, hospitals or industrial buildings. The fuel cell installations are split almost evenly between prime power and backup power use. Through this work, CERL is helping the military meet its goal to reduce energy usage 25 percent by 2015.


Ultra-clean CHP-capable fuel cell power plants

The beauty of fuel cells is that they can also be integrated with other forms of renewable energy generation, to store energy or to produce electricity and heat later. No other distributed energy source can duplicate this kind of flexibility.

Combined heat and power (CHP) is gaining increased recognition as a cost-effective solution for meeting growing energy needs while reducing the environmental impact of power generation. Reliable on-site power generation improves power reliability and energy security, attributes valued at various U.S. military bases with DFC power plants.

Ultra-clean Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plants, unlike traditional reciprocating engines and gas turbines, produce virtually no nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), or particulate emissions (PM). While the average fossil fuel power plant in the USA produces nearly 25 pounds of these emissions per megawatt hour, the DFC fuel cell produces just 0.1 pounds of these emissions.DFC power plants also emit dramatically less carbon dioxide (CO2) than combustion-based power generation, a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when configured for CHP applications.



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