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Translating Systems Needs into Materials Needs

Senior representatives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the armed services, DOD, and other federal agencies made presentations to the committee on future DOD systems and materials needs. The discussion that follows is based on information derived from those presentations and committee members’ expert opinions.

GENERIC DEFENSE NEEDS

A presentation by Andrew Marshall, director, Office of Net Assessment for the Secretary of Defense, provided an overview and context for subsequent presentations. Marshall observed that for the foreseeable future the United States will require the ability to project force around the globe to safeguard its interests. As the United States, its institutions, and its citizens interact throughout the world, situations may arise that call for military force. Today, the United States is far and away the greatest military power in the world and is far ahead in taking advantage of new technologies in military systems (Marshall, 2000).

Because the United States is surrounded by oceans, it has developed a worldwide base structure to support forward-deployed forces. The oceans form a buffer over which the United States maintains military control. Whereas other nations tend to work in their own backyards, as a matter of strategic principle, the United States projects power over long distances with medium-range and short-range systems. The buffer is not impermeable, though. It can be penetrated by long-range missiles, space-based systems, and submarines.

The present capability of the United States to project force essentially anywhere around the globe came about mainly as a result of our participation in World War II, which left us with an infrastructure of U.S. military bases around the globe to support treaty obligations and mutual-defense agreements. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the infrastructure of overseas bases is being dismantled, partly as a cost-reduction measure and partly because many host countries no longer welcome a powerful U.S. presence on their soil. The closing of overseas bases affects all of the Armed Forces, but especially the Army and Air Force. The Navy, in effect, brings its overseas bases with it in the form of the



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2 Translating Systems Needs into Materials Needs Senior representatives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the armed services, DOD, and other federal agencies made presentations to the committee on future DOD systems and materials needs. The discussion that follows is based on information derived from those presentations and committee members’ expert opinions. GENERIC DEFENSE NEEDS A presentation by Andrew Marshall, director, Office of Net Assessment for the Secretary of Defense, provided an overview and context for subsequent presentations. Marshall observed that for the foreseeable future the United States will require the ability to project force around the globe to safeguard its interests. As the United States, its institutions, and its citizens interact throughout the world, situations may arise that call for military force. Today, the United States is far and away the greatest military power in the world and is far ahead in taking advantage of new technologies in military systems (Marshall, 2000). Because the United States is surrounded by oceans, it has developed a worldwide base structure to support forward-deployed forces. The oceans form a buffer over which the United States maintains military control. Whereas other nations tend to work in their own backyards, as a matter of strategic principle, the United States projects power over long distances with medium-range and short-range systems. The buffer is not impermeable, though. It can be penetrated by long-range missiles, space-based systems, and submarines. The present capability of the United States to project force essentially anywhere around the globe came about mainly as a result of our participation in World War II, which left us with an infrastructure of U.S. military bases around the globe to support treaty obligations and mutual-defense agreements. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the infrastructure of overseas bases is being dismantled, partly as a cost-reduction measure and partly because many host countries no longer welcome a powerful U.S. presence on their soil. The closing of overseas bases affects all of the Armed Forces, but especially the Army and Air Force. The Navy, in effect, brings its overseas bases with it in the form of the

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fleet, taking advantage of freedom of the seas to move freely about the oceans and adjacent seas of the world. Marshall observed that low-cost, highly capable, commercially based technologies are increasingly enabling many nations, including nations with very limited resources, to mount considerable local threats based on precision strikes from their own territories. Marshall believes that in the next 20 to 30 years, the time period of interest for this study, even surface ships of the U.S. fleet might be threatened in the home waters of most nations. Submarines, however, will continue to be relatively invulnerable in the foreseeable future. The possibility that even resource-constrained nations will be able to acquire potent, albeit limited-range, offensive capabilities increases the vulnerability of overseas U.S. bases. According to Marshall, the following core tasks, lie ahead for the U.S. military: long-distance power projection capability of fighting far away coping with the eroding overseas base structure ensuring homeland defense adjusting to major changes in warfare, including joint-service operations and coalition peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions According to Marshall, the following trends in warfare are expected to continue: The focus will be on fielding a precision strike force that can maneuver rapidly and effectively, and survive an attack far away. The force must be able to conceal its activities from an enemy and detect enemy activities. Advances in information technology will lead to new levels of coordination among forces. Global awareness through real-time, networked sensors and communications will facilitate command and control and enable precision strikes. Using unmanned vehicles, information will be gathered in new ways, force will be delivered remotely, and the risk of casualties will be reduced. Fighting in urban areas will increase, which will require entirely different strategies and equipment. Marshall and subsequent speakers also focused the committee’s attention on new threats that could not be counteracted by force projection (Vickers, 2000; Henley, 2000). Weapons of mass destruction, for example, are a growing threat. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons, principally from the Soviet Union, was a major concern. U.S. security was safeguarded by highly developed

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strategic deterrence to neutralize that threat. In the future, threats to the United States may be the delivery by missile (or other means) of small numbers of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons from very disparate sources, such as a terrorist group that gains access to the United States by covert means. The nation could also be threatened by an assault on the complex web of information systems that are becoming increasingly important in the delivery of goods and services. Vulnerable infrastructure points include power grids, dams, and similar facilities. In general, Marshall recommended that the United States maintain its capability to project power over long distances, harness advancing technologies to maintain its technological lead as long as possible (recognizing that other nations will be working to counter our capabilities), continue to control the ocean buffer, and develop more plans for defending the homeland. EXAMPLES OF SYSTEMS NEEDS Briefings by senior officials of the Armed Services, defense agencies, and other government agencies covered a variety of short-term and long-term perspectives. The starting point for the fundamental needs of the U.S. Army, as stated by Michael Andrews, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology, was that the Army would continue to be based in the United States but would have to be able to respond quickly to provide a global presence (Andrews, 2000). Quick response would necessarily be provided by airlift, which implies lightweight forces. The Army has established a goal of being able to move a large concentration of troops anywhere in the world in 48 hours. The Army anticipates that armored forces will continue to be the principal means of attacking an enemy. Accordingly, the emphasis will be on very lightweight vehicles equipped with armor protection and stealth to survive against high-intensity threats. Infantrymen are facing increasingly potent weapons and require a very high degree of information connectivity on the battlefield. Currently, each soldier must carry heavy personal protective equipment and batteries to support electronics. In the future, the Army plans to lighten each soldier’s load with lightweight equipment and communication packages. The Air Force also envisions supporting its power projection from the United States (Delaney, 2000). According to Kenneth Harwell, chief scientist for the Air Force Research Laboratory, the goal is to deliver munitions to targets anywhere around the globe from the United States in 55 minutes (Harwell, 2000). This will require very high speeds, as well as very lightweight material. Meeting this goal will be a formidable technical challenge. The U.S. Navy wants systems that are stealthy and can operate in littoral areas around the world to fulfill its objective of decisively influencing events on land

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anywhere at any time (DeMarco, 2000). The Navy’s emphasis will be on antisubmarine and mine warfare to ensure that the U.S. fleet can carry out its power projection mission in inshore waters. The U.S. Marine Corps’ goal is to provide very lightweight, agile, early-entry forces, operating from sea bases with minimal needs for logistic support ashore (Gray, 2000). The Marine Crops will be a strike force rather than an occupying force. All of the military services expressed a need for systems that cost less for acquisition and require less maintenance. The principal delivery hardware—ships, submarines, aircraft, and vehicles—will probably be expected to remain in service for very long periods of time, placing new demands on underlying technologies for durability, maintainability, and ease of upgrade. The Air Force was particularly forceful in stating the case for aircraft with very long service lives and the need to maintain and modernize aircraft at much less cost (Delaney, 2000). TRANSLATION TO MATERIALS NEEDS The presentations to the committee were organized by the needs of individual services, but materials needs are related to more generic kinds of systems, platforms, and equipment. For example, all of the services require aircraft. Therefore, materials research that enables more advanced aircraft will be valuable to all of the services. Although the need of a particular service might be the impetus for meeting a defined capability, once a technology matures to the point that it can be readily used in an operational system, it can probably also be used advantageously in similar systems for other purposes. Ships, submarines, aircraft, military vehicles, sailors, airmen, soldiers, and marines of the future will have common requirements for advanced materials that will enable significant changes in: maneuverability (mobility, speed, agility); force protection (from nuclear, biological, chemical, kinetic, or explosive weapons through stealth, identification, armor, and active defense); engagement (highly concentrated and sustained firepower); and logistics (durability, maintainability). Advanced materials will be required to satisfy diverse requirements in terms of speed, strength, precision, survivability, signature, materials selection, cost, weight, and commonality. Ships may be able to travel at 75-knots; very lightweight tanks will travel at speeds up to 75 miles per hour; weapons will be delivered at hypersonic speeds. Materials will have to endure tougher environments for longer periods of time—from ocean depths to Arctic cold to desert heat to space reentry. For example, the Army envisions that new high-strength, very lightweight materials that can be integrated with primary structures and have active features to defend armored vehicles against future weapons. The Army hopes to field systems with an offensive capability similar to the M1A2

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Abrams tank for about one-third the weight, including unmanned ground vehicles and munitions. Materials processes will require greater precision compatible with reduced fabrication and operational tolerances. Increased survivability will require materials capable of multispectral absorption (radio frequency, thermal, acoustic) and providing ballistic protection. New materials will reduce signatures, including, but not be limited to, radar, infrared, acoustic, visible light, and magnetic signatures. Materials must be cost effective. The cost of acquisition and lifetime support of DOD platforms and men must be reduced. For example, precision munitions will not be completely effective until they are inexpensive enough to be used at even the lowest tactical unit level. Increased capability at increased cost must be weighed carefully against advanced materials that introduce similar capabilities at reduced costs. Cost effectiveness must include reduced maintenance and upkeep costs. Manpower is the single largest DOD cost. Therefore, advanced materials that reduce the need for manpower will be extremely beneficial. Materials that reduce weight but retain functionality will permit increases in payload and range. For example, reducing the weight of seamless piping systems by another 25 percent during the next 20 years would have widespread value. A 20-percent reduction in the high topside weight of surface ships would significantly reduce displacement and reduce fuel requirements. The use of common materials across platforms, between services, and among soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines will be necessary. The services will have to develop processes that encourage the sharing of materials technologies between programs. The committee envisions new roles for advanced materials, including bio-inspired materials, self-assembling polymers, novel magnetic materials, and self-healing materials. Next-generation defense systems (or Defense After Next) will require “smart” materials that are self-healing, can interact independently with the local environment, and are capable of monitoring the health of a structure or component/system during operation. Smart materials will act as the host for evolving technologies, such as embedded sensors and integrated antennas. Advanced materials will also be called on to deliver traditional high performance for structures; protect against corrosion, fouling, and erosion; provide fire protection; control fractures; and be used as fuels, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids. Promising composite material technologies to meet these needs include carbon nanotubes, electron-beam curing, recyclable composite materials, and health-monitoring sensors. The next 20 years will present the materials community with daunting challenges and opportunities. The challenges will be derived from major changes in defense needs that have evolved in the aftermath of the Cold War, spurred by the accelerated pace of advances in electronics and computation. In the committee’s opinion, performance, life span, and maintainability goals will generally double in the next 20 to 25 years, and the requirements for producibility,

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cost, and availability will be twice as demanding as they are today. Advances in materials will be fundamental enablers for new capabilities to meet these needs. Some of the advances will result from R&D undertaken for competitive advantage by commercial enterprises. For example, substantial commercial funding is likely to be available for research in telecommunications and computation. In other technical areas, however, DOD may have to bear the funding burden directly. Logic dictates that in these special areas considerable funding for fundamental research will be necessary, not only for identifying critical new materials, but also for accelerating their progress through development to applications in deployed systems for the Defense After Next. Performance (of course) and cost will be major considerations.