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Research Laboratory Showcases Warfighter Support

Representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory presented some of their research programs
to the attendees of the 2006 Special Operations Forces Week at the Tampa Convention Center.

By Vicki Stein / U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla., June 28, 2006 – Representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory headquarters and its technology directorates presented some of their research programs to the attendees of the 2006 Special Operations Forces  Week at the Tampa Convention Center June 20-22.

Members of the Human Effectiveness, Directed Energy, Propulsion, Sensors and Munitions directorates and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research spoke to warfighters from three services as well as numerous large industry and small business representatives over the three day period.

Senior Engineer in the Aircrew Operations Section of Air Force Research Laboratory’s Human Effectiveness Directorate, Dr. William Albery, displayed video and handouts on the laboratory’s Rotary Wing Brownout Integrated Solution Study for interested viewers.

"The show has been a tremendous opportunity to bring this cutting edge technology to the special operations forces warrior."

Daniel Hague, senior scientist

The program supported by four directorates has been identified as Air Force Special Operations Command’s number one operational problem. Brownout typically occurs when a helicopter lands in a sandy or dusty environment.

Air Force Research Laboratory’s Executive Director, Les McFawn, asked the directorates to participate in a solution to the problem due to numerous mishaps and loss of pilots’ lives and helicopters.

Albery said that participation in the conference has allowed him to interact with a wide range of people, including vendors that have helmet mounted displays Air Force Research Laboratory is interested in. 

“In addition it has given us a chance to show a number of industry and military services what we are doing to address their problems,” Albery said.

Fatigue Countermeasure Branch officers from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Human Effectiveness Directorate, located at Brooks City-Base, Texas, presented information on the Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool, which can be used to help advise aircrews on measures to use to prevent fatigue and the Combat Oxygen System designed to allow warfighters to take oxygen supplies into combat.

Supporting one of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s booths, Capt. David Miller, Air Force Research Laboratory’s Human Effectiveness Directorate’s deputy program manager for the Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge (BATMAN) showed the prototype wearable computing device which would be a segment of the Battlefield Air Targeting Camera Autonomous Micro-Air Vehicle (BATCAM).

The vehicle will lessen the weight and improve the computing capability of battlefield Airmen, which will make them more effective in doing their jobs and putting bombs on target.

Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate Public Affairs Lead, Rich Garcia, demonstrated two non-lethal technologies: active denial, a technology

that causes an intolerable, but non-damaging, heating sensation on the targeted subjects; and a laser rifle that ‘fires’ light which temporarily impairs vision.

Garcia noted that booth visitors were able to experience both technologies, commenting that they were favorably impressed by both technologies.

Air Force Research Laboratory Sensors Directorate, Jim Murrin, who is the Cross Disperson Prism program manager, demonstrated the Cross Disperson Prism sensor through the use of video and a broadband infrared camera.

He spoke about the system, which is currently in development and funded by Defense Research and Engineering.

It is a quick reaction special program that seeks to provide ways to detect energetic battlefield events such as small arms fire, mortars, or rocket propelled grenades, identify those events and locate them allowing appropriate action to be taken. 

Representatives from Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Directorate displayed the Battlefield Air Operator Kit composed of primary lithium-ion battery, secondary zinc air battery and power distribution and management module.

These components represent a 25 percent power supply weight reduction for the battlefield air operator. Ultimately Air Force Research Laboratory’s goal is to reduce that weight by 50 percent.

The system garnered positive reaction by attendees who said the research the laboratory is doing is a critical and necessary development for the airman in the field.

Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate showcased the interim capability for airborne networking (ICAN) and new joint capability for airborne networking (JACAN) programs.

These technologies would enable the special operations forces warfighter to have a seamless network centric connectivity to the global information grid providing access and exchange of decision quality information to deployed forces.

“The show has been a tremendous opportunity to bring this cutting edge technology to the special operations forces warrior,” said Daniel Hague, a senior scientist in the information grid division. “Reactions from show attendees expressed widespread interest in the technology and its ability to provide information to the edge.”

Industry and military alike stopped at the munitions directorate kiosk booth to view a virtual technology demonstration video.

Munitions Directorate Senior Computer Scientist in charge of Marketing and Public Affairs, Mike Wallace, showed video and the full size model of the Dominator, a defense system that is being developed to suppress enemy activity in high threat areas.

Dominator achieves its mission with air delivered, network-centric, persistent munitions capable of defeating the entire spectrum of ground mobile targets. Wallace said, “attendees feel this program looks to be in line with future requirements.”

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