Author Archives: Dan Parsons

Army Enlists IBM’s Watson To Streamline Logistics, Vehicle Maintenance

In renewing its deal with IBM [IBM] for could computing services, the Army plans to enlist the company’s Watson artificial intelligence to gather and analyze data directly from combat vehicles and use the information to streamline maintenance schedules. A continuation of the Army’s Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA), the $135 million contract represents a 33-month extension of the […]

A ‘Disturbance In The Force’: Army G-8 Braces For Day When Modernization Is Unavoidable

The Army’s uniformed acquisition chief senses a “disturbance in the Force,” regarding Army modernization that involves identifying an inflection point where the service can no longer effectively upgrade legacy combat systems and must transition to next-generation technologies. “New this year we will put together an ends, ways and means strategy for certain critical … combat […]

MG_John_Murray

A ‘Disturbance In The Force’: Army G-8 Braces For Day When Modernization Is Unavoidable

The Army’s uniformed acquisition chief senses a “disturbance in the Force,” regarding Army modernization that involves identifying an inflection point where the service can no longer effectively upgrade legacy combat systems and must transition to next-generation technologies. “New this year we will put together an ends, ways and means strategy for certain critical … combat […]

Link

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.--The Marine Corps has enshrined open architecture in its master technology investment plan as a means to rapidly upgrade communications technology as new equipment emerges.

Listed in the 2017 Advanced Technology Investment Plan, a 200-page guide to the Marine Corps’ technology development efforts and needs, is “open plug-and-play communication architecture” that will provide vehicles “the capability to add a new communication, sensor and data component to a system and have it integrate seamlessly without changing architecture or technical configuration of the vehicle.”

The full ATIP document can be accessed here.

“Adapting such architectures for the tactical vehicle fleet has great potential to improve tactical and operational flexibility for commanders,” the ATIP says. Program Executive Office-Land Systems distributed copies of the document at the Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Va.

marinecorpsaav2

Michael Halloran, science and technology division chief at PEO-LS, lists open architecture as a fundamental element of future combat vehicles for the Marine Corps.

“We need lightweight, power efficient, fuel-efficient, survivable, mobile vehicles that are common plug-and-play architecture,” Halloran said Sept. 19 at MDM.

The program office already is writing open architecture into requirements documents, he said. Industry is falling in line, but their issues of intellectual property rights remain, he added.

“Yes, it is being written into the requirements documents,” he said. “Industry is responding extremely well and we are working through the proprietary data-rights issue. Oftentimes in the requirement process and in the acquisition process, you end up trading off requirements as the cost of a given systems tends to decrease over time. Often plug-and-play is one of those things that gets traded.”

The idea is to set standards for interfacing technologies to avoid the hodgepodge of proprietary systems that were bolted onto vehicles out of operational necessity over the past decade and half. Modular, scalable, open-systems architecture enable “plug-and-play mission flexibility across all tactical vehicles, will enable rapid vehicle modernization and shared resource allocation,” the ATIP document says.

One such architecture goes by the mouthful title, "Vehicular Integration for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)/Electronic Warfare Interoperability." Under development by the Army, it is commonly shoehorned into the acronym VICTORY.

VICTORY is a solution to a problem that arose from “operating forces applying solutions to identified C4ISR capability shortfalls through short-term solutions quickly bolted onto ground vehicles,” which weighed them down and created complex systems of systems that couldn’t always talk to each other, the ATIP says.

The architecture seeks to remedy that problem in future vehicles by defining common terminology, systems, components and interfaces. It also will set government-defined standard technical specifications for new technologies while providing a set of reference designs for industry to work into the products they pitch to the military.

So far, VICTORY has gained only minor traction, though the joint light tactical vehicle that will replace portions of the Army and Marine Corps legacy Humvee fleets is being built with a compliant electronics backbone. The Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support is working to introduce it to legacy support fleets.

Aerial drone image of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew, from the 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducting Table VI Gunnery at Fort Stewart, Ga. December 8, 2016.

Army Delays Tank Shield Effort After Finding Turret Imbalance

The Army has pumped the breaks on the previously ambitious effort to outfit the M1 Abrams with active protection systems, deciding more time is needed to properly integrate APS components onto the tank’s turret. On Aug. 25, the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) met to consider whether to buy a brigade’s worth of Trophy APS […]

First UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter test flight in Huntsville, Ala. Photo: Northrop Grumman.

L3 Unseated From Huge Army Aviation Support Contract

L3 Technologies [LLL] was beaten out of renewing its largest Army contract last week, deposed by newcomer M1 Support Services for $387 million worth of training support at Fort Rucker, Ala. The privately held M1, a Denton, Texas-based aviation training and support provider, won the contract on Sept. 15. The deal is a “hybrid contract” […]

Bell Completes Construction Of V-280 Valor Tiltrotor Prototype

Bell Helicopter has completed construction of its first V-280 advanced tiltrotor prototype that is being prepared to fly later in 2017. The V-280 Valor program has achieved 100 percent build completion on the prototype aircraft and is preparing for an initial ground run at the company’s Amarillo, Texas, assembly center. “We remain focused on providing […]

Lack Of Common Architecture Lengthens Ground Time For Army Choppers Getting Upgrades

When the Army buys new gear for its helicopters, the acquisition community and industry view it as adding capability to an existing platform, but actually integrating new sensors and weapons often grounds fleets that are in high operational demand. Without government-defined standard architectures, emerging technologies often require extensive rewiring to mount on legacy aircraft, said […]

Army Envisions Multiple Future Vertical Lift Aircraft; Not Treating Industry Offerings As Prototypes

As industry readies its experimental vertical-lift aircraft for Army evaluation, aviation officials have made clear they do not consider the two Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrators (JMR-TD) to be prototypes of future helicopters. Maj. Gen. William Gayler, chief of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence (AACE) said Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor next-generation tiltrotor and the SB-1 […]

Boeing_imagedefiant

Army Envisions Multiple Future Vertical Lift Aircraft; Not Treating Industry Offerings As Prototypes

As industry readies its experimental vertical-lift aircraft for Army evaluation, aviation officials have made clear they do not consider the two Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrators (JMR-TD) to be prototypes of future helicopters. Maj. Gen. William Gayler, chief of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence (AACE) said Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor next-generation tiltrotor and the SB-1 […]