Modern Warfare Week

Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

SOFWERX – Special Reconnaissance Virtual Assessment Event Series

Friday, March 18th, 2022

SOFWERX, in collaboration with SOF Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (SOF AT&L) Special Reconnaissance (PEO-SR), will host a series of Virtual Assessment Events (AEs) 31 May – 03 June 2022, to identify technologies and techniques to aid two (2) Program Management (PM) Offices with four (4) Technology Focus Areas (TFAs).

1 PM Integrated Sensor Systems (ISS): Tactical data exfiltration (SR-FY22-01)

2 PM Remote Capabilities (RC): Articulating small-UAS legs and motors paired with obstacle avoidance capabilities (SR-FY22-02)

3 PM Remote Capabilities (RC): Rucksack-portable small-UAS charging hive (SR-FY22-03)

4 PM Remote Capabilities (RC): UAS Signature Reduction Techniques (SR-FY22-04)

Submit NLT 15 April 11:59 PM ET

Learn more at events.sofwerx.org/srae.

Army Special Operations Forces Use Project Origin Systems in Latest Soldier Experiment

Friday, March 11th, 2022

DUGWAY, Utah — Army Green Berets from the 1st Special Forces Group conducted two weeks of hands-on experimentation with Project Origin Unmanned Systems at Dugway Proving Ground. Engineers from the U.S. Army DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center were on site to collect data on how these elite Soldiers utilized the systems and what technology and behaviors are desired.

Project Origin vehicles are the evolution of multiple Soldier Operational Experiments. This GVSC-led rapid prototyping effort allows the Army to conduct technology and autonomous behavior integration for follow-on assessments with Soldiers in order to better understand what Soldiers need from unmanned systems.

For the two-week experiment, Soldiers with the 1st Special Forces Group attended familiarization and new equipment training in order to develop Standard Operating Procedures for Robotic Combat Vehicles. The unit utilized these SOPs to conduct numerous mission-oriented exercises including multiple live-fire missions during the day and night.

The live-fire operations employed the M240 and M2 machine guns and the MK19 automatic grenade launcher.

“These live fire operations were critical to determining the military utility of the Robotic Combat Vehicle unmanned technology,” said Todd Willert, GVSC’s project manager for Project Origin. “The unit was successful with integrating the systems into their formation for both offensive and defensive operations.”

The Green Berets incorporated numerous Origin modular mission payloads to assist with long-range reconnaissance, concealment, electronic warfare and autonomous resupply operations.

A senior medical sergeant with the 1st Special Forces Group said the modularity of payloads provides flexibility for use in a variety of mission sets: “The upscaling of capabilities for a direct heavy-weapon system gives us the advantage we’ve never had before in typical dismounted roles.”

Willert stated the inclusion of Special Operations Forces into technology assessments provides more depth in understanding what is needed to mature unmanned systems for the Army’s Operating Force.

In addition, this experiment supports the continual development of the Army’s Robotic Technology Kernel — the Modular Open System Architecture-based library of software that can be used for ground autonomy — along with the Warfighter Machine Interface, the Army’s library of modular software used by Soldiers to control robotic vehicles. This open systems architecture approach will enable common unmanned maneuver capabilities across the ground vehicle fleet.

“We are in the process of tailoring software packages to meet the needs of end users,” Willert said. “Autonomy — at various levels — offers great opportunities for different mission sets that improve Soldier safety and reduce cognitive burden. The professional and thoughtful comments from these Soldiers will greatly assist us with developing behaviors for future unmanned systems.”

1st Special Forces Group Detachment Commander added, “The robots are best employed to maximize the standoff between Soldiers and enemy threats.” He went on to say, “The Project Origin system, for any type of dismounted operations we conduct, would provide us increased capabilities to recognize and identify individuals on target from a much greater standoff while decreasing the risk to the force as our Soldiers accomplish their mission.”

Maj. Cory Wallace, the RCV Requirements Lead with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, said: “Working with an Operational Detachment Alpha enabled us to understand new use cases and consider new approaches to integrating robotic and autonomous systems into future experiments.”

“The feedback from the operators gave us a completely new perspective as to how we need to shape our future development efforts in order to provide the most effective unmanned systems possible to Army formations, Wallace said.

A senior weapons sergeant summed up the event by saying, “The Project Origin system allows us an ability to operate the system outside of enemy fire. This allows an ability to focus on advanced tasks such as terrain analysis, developing enemy courses of action, and thinking ahead of the now, rather than seeking cover and returning fire.”

By Jerome Aliotta

SOFWERX – Security at the Edge Virtual Collaboration Event

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

SOFWERX, in collaboration with SOF Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (SOF AT&L) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate Network and Data Management Capability Focus Area (NDM CFA), will host a series of events starting 5 April 2022, to identify technologies with automated capabilities that provide edge device endpoint security, cloud security to protect data at the edge, and network edge security within SOF operational environments.

In austere environments, edge computing devices provide the ability to handle processing on the device or local server and transmit only the relevant data by eliminating latency, which is essential for SOF Operators. Unfortunately, edge computing devices are designed to prioritize functionality and connectivity over security. This makes SOF Operators’ edge computing devices extremely vulnerable to sophisticated nation state threat actors’ cyber attacks. Edge computing devices can take essentially any form and endpoints are everywhere due to the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The SOF Operator needs to ensure they are making decisions based on trusted data and have protections against zero day attacks. The need for protection against advanced persistent threats (APTs), nation state sponsored cyber attacks, data integrity capabilities, and overall zero trust solutions for the main three components of edge computing devices are critical for the current and future SOF operational environments.

RSVP NLT 29 March 11:59 PM ET.

Find further details at events.sofwerx.org/security

Rheinmetall Italia Signs Memorandum of Understanding with MBDA Italia to Cooperate in Air Defence

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

MBDA Italia and Rheinmetall Italia have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore possibilities for collaborating in the area of air defence including disruptive technologies and in the national and European defence funds domain.


During a two-year timeframe, the two companies will study ways of working together with the ultimate aim of developing joint business opportunities in Italy and the international marketplace. MBDA Italia and Rheinmetall Italia will create joint working groups tasked with identifying possibilities for joint technological development and business opportunities.

MBDA Italia is part of MBDA, the only European defence group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air).

Rheinmetall Italia is one of Europe’s foremost suppliers of air defence and radar technology. Rheinmetall’s centre of excellence in this high-tech domain, the company has over fifty years’ experience in the design, development and manufacture of air surveillance and tracking radars. Production focuses on short- and very short-range air defence systems.

SOFWERX – Innovation Foundry Event

Monday, March 7th, 2022

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM’s Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T), will host the tenth Innovation Foundry (IF10) Event 03-05 May 2022. S&T Futures seeks to bring together U.S. and International Special Operations Forces (SOF), Industry, Academia, Government and futurists in an exploration design thinking facilitated event to assist USSOCOM in decomposing future scenarios and missions to develop concepts for future SOF operator skillsets and traits in a 2040 timeframe. The theme of IF10 is “Future SOF Teams: Diversity of Skillsets and Traits.”

IF10 participants will explore the impact of future missions, operating environments, and social and technological changes to SOF Operators, the people who are the core of the SOF enterprise.

To ground the discussion, IF10 participants will use a fictional mission scenario that reflects the complex interplays of social, technological, political, and cultural factors as they might play out in 2040 to explore the human dimensions of the challenge, the skillsets and traits needed for SOF operators in 2040 and beyond.

U.S. Citizens Only

Submit NLT 27 March 11:59 PM ET. Visit events.sofwerx.org/if10 for details.

Simplified Human/Machine Interfaces Top List of Critical DOD Technologies

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

WASHINGTON — A modern-day cell phone packs quite a wallop when it comes to computing technology and capability. But most cell phones barely come with a “quick start guide,” let alone an instruction manual that spells out how to use all the features.

Cell phone companies have mastered the interface between humans and technology, making their use entirely intuitive and rendering thick instruction manuals a thing of the past.

The same thing should be happening for weapons systems used by servicemembers, Heidi Shyu, who serves as the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said. During a virtual discussion today with the Potomac Officers Club near Washington, D.C., she said intuitive, easy-to-use human/machine interfaces is something that’s a priority for her and the Defense Department.

“When I [served as an executive for the] Army before, one of the experiences I learned is with a lot of our weapons system, you really have to have a manual and go through weeks of training, if not months and years to be proficient, which is ridiculous,” she said. “[Weapons systems] ought to be designed with the appropriate ease-of-use human/machine interface, so it will become much more intuitive.”

As the Defense Department’s chief technology officer, Shyu said she’s interested in developing better ways to simplify the way service members use the technology they are given in order to reduce the training burden and learning curve.

“I really would like to see how we can change our weapons systems’ human/machine interface to be a lot more intuitive, to ease the amount of training that’s required,” she said.

For most service members, combat means use of a weapon such as a rifle, an aircraft that can drop a bomb or launch a missile, or a ship or tank that fires a large gun that requires a round to be loaded. All of these kinetic weapons systems fire solid projectiles which need to be carried along with warfighters, and which may eventually run out. But a new generation of weapons systems, which uses directed energy rather than expendable ammunition or ordnance, is on the horizon, Shyu said.

“In the area of directed energy, we’re … finally at the cusp of developing laser technology,” she said. “After 30 years, we’re finally getting to the point of fielding the prototypes. So I’m thrilled. Army and Navy are [both] fielding laser systems. I’m really happy to see that. We’re also developing high-power microwave systems as well.”

The Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy program, or ODIN for short, is a nonlethal weapons system used to confuse and perhaps render harmless an enemy drone — rather than shooting it down.

The ODIN system is already installed on multiple Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers within the Navy’s fleet, and there are plans to install additional systems as well.

The Army is also developing several directed energy systems. One of those is the Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense, or DE M-SHORAD system, which involves a 50kW-class laser to protect divisions and brigade combat teams from unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft, and threats from rockets, artillery and mortars.

The department is also interested in the development of advanced materials, Shyu said.

“I’m certainly interested in materials that can handle higher heat, higher temperature, next-generation hypersonic materials,” she said. “I’m interested in material that’s stronger, but lighter weight. It certainly can help us reduce the logistics burden; and also materials that can have higher efficiency — materials that can potentially change properties. [There are] a lot of different areas within advanced materials we need to continue to push the research in.”

The department is also doing its part to bring the manufacture of microelectronics back to the U.S. to improve supply chain reliability, Shyu said.

“You guys have all heard about the situation that we’re in with the supply chain, where 70% of our chips are coming from Asia,” she said. “That poses a supply chain risk. You can see there’s a lot of interest on the Hill in terms of helping out the microelectronics foundries to try to onshore some of the capabilities.”

Shyu said the Defense Department is working closely with the Department of Commerce and with foundry companies to make that happen.

“We also work very closely with intelligence communities to make sure we understand all the needs and figure out how we can leverage commercial processes which can evolve at a much faster rate than just the defense-unique foundry,” she said.

Finally, Shyu said, the department is interested in having the U.S. take the lead on the development of 5G technologies — and the advancement of the next-generation of radio communications as well.

“I call it the ‘next G’,” she said. “Namely, beyond 5G. What I don’t want to happen is for us to take our eyes off the ball and play catch-up. I’m interested in making sure we’re developing technologies on 6G and 7G, so we, the U.S., can shape the standards, as opposed to some other country shaping the standard and us playing catch-up.”

By C. Todd Lopez

SOFWERX – Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Translation Collaboration Event

Friday, February 4th, 2022

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM Science and Technology (S&T) Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF), will host a series of events to identify solutions for optical character recognition text to text translation technology from Industry, Academia, Laboratories, and other interested organizations. The desired end state is to understand the current capabilities and determine if those solutions are compatible with ongoing translation efforts.

The Phase I collaboration event kicks off on 16 March 2022 with other events to follow.

RSVP NLT 02 March 2022 11:59 PM ET to participate.

Details at events.sofwerx.org/optical

Consortium Partnered with Army Research Lab Completes 10-year Program to Advance Armor Materials

Friday, February 4th, 2022

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance, or MEDE CRA, culminated its 10-year program with a virtual capstone event, co-hosted by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University.

More than 180 people participated in the event, including principal investigators, students from consortium universities, Army researchers and industry partners. Representatives from U.S. Army Futures Command, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Office of Naval Research, National Ground Intelligence Center, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and other DEVCOM subordinate organizations participated as well.

The alliance is a basic research program led by Johns Hopkins University, which includes a consortium of 25 university and research partners located in 13 states and three foreign countries. MEDE has developed a materials-by-design strategy, which has resulted in innovative protection materials and computational design codes for armor applications. These new concepts will support the Soldier Lethality and Next Generation Combat Vehicle modernization priorities. According to DEVCOM ARL Director Dr. Patrick Baker, MEDE successfully achieved its mission by focusing on the three key elements of a basic research program: relevance, team, and science.

Maj. Gen. Edmond “Miles” Brown, DEVCOM commanding general, highlighted the capstone with a keynote address. He described a multinational force that was attacked while on patrol during a deployment to Afghanistan. The body armor they wore provided the necessary protection to survive the attack and make it back home safely. Additionally, Brown described the evolution of body armor from the time he entered the U.S. Army to present day, and the importance of basic research programs like the MEDE CRA.

Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland expressed their congratulations to the MEDE CRA. Cardin noted that MEDE has graduated 76 Ph.D. students and transitioned 55 postdoctoral fellows. More than 200 undergraduates participated in research activities; 62 of whom were from HBCUs and minority serving institutions. This highlights the program’s real dedication to inclusivity and diversity, he said. Van Hollen added that MEDE will help save American lives and keep troops safer for years to come.

Officials said a hallmark of the MEDE CRA is its impact on workforce development. Including the university faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows, and DEVCOM ARL researchers, over 600 individuals have been involved in the MEDE research. These individuals include high school and undergraduate student apprentices sponsored through DEVCOM’s Army Educational Outreach Program, and the Army Research Office’s partnered research initiative for HBCUs and minority serving institutions. The MEDE CRA ensured these valuable opportunities were incorporated into the core research program.

Prof. Lori Graham-Brady of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy, DEVCOM ARL, presented the numerous accomplishments of the MEDE CRA. According to Satapathy, the goal of the program was to look at the materials or different material classes at different scales, starting from the atomistic scale to the application scale. To achieve this, the MEDE program developed a rigorous mechanism-driven materials-by-design strategy that resulted in new magnesium alloys, boron carbide, and glass-epoxy composites.

In each material, MEDE was able to achieve a weight reduction and improved performance. These discoveries were translated into computational design codes which assisted in validating the experimental data. Industry partners were able to scale-up the laboratory produced materials for ballistic evaluation at DEVCOM ARL.

Graham-Brady said by improving these armor materials they will have a real impact on keeping people safe, which, she said, motivated much of the research.

The capstone included a MEDE CRA video, which provided an overview and successes of the program.

Awarded in April of 2012, the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (MEDE) collaborative research alliance is a ten-year, basic research program which has developed a materials by design process which has improved protection materials for armor applications. Research activities were performed jointly amongst academia, the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and industry.

This video highlights the tangible successes of the program.

Funding for MEDE created a center within HEMI. For more information, visit hemi.jhu.edu/cmede.

The impact of MEDE to the broader science community will be felt for years, Graham-Brady said. To date, MEDE university personnel and DEVCOM ARL researchers have authored 478 peer-reviewed journal articles. These articles have been cited over 8,000 times. To ensure the legacy of the MEDE CRA, special edition journals featuring MEDE research have been published.

Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Army for sponsoring the MEDE CRA. Johns Hopkins’ partnership with the Department of Defense was seeded in 1940 with the creation of the National Defense Research Committee. MEDE’s innovations will continue to shape the future of the government-university research through the doctoral students and postdocs now working in DOD and national laboratories, academia and global industry.

As the Army’s foundational research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.

By Dr. Victor Nakano, Johns Hopkins University

Photos by Jessica Ader, David Jordan, and Will Kirk