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Defining Twenty-first Century Defense Materials Needs

It is widely accepted that the military in the twenty-first century will need to communicate faster, more reliably, and on a global scale. New threats require new materials for the technology for their detection. New tasks will require new weapons and new materials to make possible new and better delivery platforms. The new systems of the twenty-first century military will also need to be multifunctional, self-diagnosing and self-healing, low cost, low maintenance, environmentally acceptable, and extremely reliable. A number of studies over the last several years consider how new threats, new adversaries, and emerging disruptive technologies have brought new challenges to which the nation and, specifically, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security must respond.

A Defense Science Board (DSB) report1 suggested that the speed with which knowledge spreads and technology is applied is one of these challenges. In its report the DSB assessed defense and military needs and synthesized nine high-priority military areas:

  • Biological warfare defense that is based on immediate detection and then defeat.

  • Ability to find and correctly identify difficult targets, both static and mobile.

1

DSB, Defense Science and Technology (2002). Available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/sandt.pdf. Hereinafter referred to as Defense S&T.



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C Defining Twenty-first Century Defense Materials Needs It is widely accepted that the military in the twenty-first century will need to communicate faster, more reliably, and on a global scale. New threats require new materials for the technology for their detection. New tasks will require new weapons and new materials to make possible new and better delivery platforms. The new systems of the twenty-first century military will also need to be multifunctional, self-diagnosing and self-healing, low cost, low maintenance, environmentally acceptable, and extremely reliable. A number of studies over the last several years consider how new threats, new adversaries, and emerging disruptive technologies have brought new challenges to which the nation and, specifically, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security must respond. A Defense Science Board (DSB) report1 suggested that the speed with which knowledge spreads and technology is applied is one of these challenges. In its report the DSB assessed defense and military needs and synthesized nine high-priority military areas: • Biological warfare defense that is based on immediate detection and then defeat. • Ability to find and correctly identify difficult targets, both static and mobile. 1 DSB, Defense Science and Technology (2002). Available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/ sandt.pdf. Hereinafter referred to as Defense S&T. 

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m a nag i n g m at e r i a l s twenty-first century military  for a • Support for high-risk operations by means such as unmanned systems capable of high-risk tactical operations. • Missile defense that is cost effective and exhibits low leakage against tactical and strategic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. • Affordable precision munitions that are resilient to countermeasures. • Enhanced human performance that overcomes natural limitations on cog- nitive ability and endurance. • Rapid deployment and employment of forces globally against responsive threats. • Global effects that can be delivered rapidly, anywhere. Although not released until 2002, the Defense S&T report was completed only months before the tragic events of September 11, 2001. While the central assess- ments of the report remain valid, there is no doubt that after those events there was a dramatic refocusing of the nation’s attention to national security and, most importantly, to homeland security. September 11 caused many new assessments to be undertaken, one of which was a study by the National Research Council (NRC)2 of the contributions science and technology might make to counterterrorism. The aim of Making the Nation Safer was to help the federal government—and, more specifically, the Executive Office of the President—enlist the nation’s and the world’s scientific and technical community in a timely response to the threat of catastrophic terrorism. The terms of reference for the study called for (1) a care- ful delineation of a framework for the application of science and technology to countering terrorism, (2) the preparation of research agendas in nine key areas,3 and (3) the examination of a series of crosscutting issues. Overall, the authoring committee aimed to identify scientific and technological means by which the nation might reduce its vulnerabilities to catastrophic terrorist acts and mitigate the consequences of such acts when they occur. The eight panels of preeminent scientists, engineers, and physicians working on Making the Nation Safer identified 14 “most important” technical initiatives. Each was either an immediate application of an existing technology or an urgent research opportunity: • Immediate applications of existing technologies — Develop and utilize robust systems for the protection, control, and 2 NRC, Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism (Wash- ington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2002). Hereinafter referred to as Making the Nation Safer. 3 Biological sciences; chemical sciences; nuclear and radiological sciences; information technology and telecommunications; transportation; energy facilities; cities and fixed infrastructure; behavioral, social, and institutional issues; and systems analysis and systems engineering.

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aPPendix c  accounting of nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials at their sources. — Ensure production and distribution of known treatments and preventa- tives for pathogens. — Design, test, and install coherent, layered security systems for all trans- portation modes, particularly shipping containers and vehicles that con- tain large quantities of toxic or flammable materials. — Protect energy distribution services by improving security for super- visory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and providing physical protection for key elements of the electric-power grid. — Reduce the vulnerability and improve the effectiveness of air filtration in ventilation systems. — Deploy known technologies and standards for allowing emergency responders to reliably communicate with one another. — Ensure that trusted spokespersons will be able to inform the public promptly and with technical authority whenever the technical aspects of an emergency are dominant in the public’s concerns. • Urgent research opportunities — Develop effective treatments and preventatives for known pathogens and those that could emerge. — Develop, test, and implement an intelligent, adaptive electric-power grid. — Advance the practical utility of data fusion and data mining for intel- ligence analysis, and enhance the security of information against cyber attacks. — Develop new and better technologies that can be used in, for example, protective gear, sensors, and communications systems for emergency responders. — Advance engineering design technologies and fire-rating standards for blast- and fire-resistant buildings. — Develop sensor and surveillance systems for use against a wide range of targets; such systems would provide useful information for emergency officials and decision makers. — Develop new methods and standards for filtering air against chemicals and pathogens and for decontamination. It is clear that materials will play a role in most if not all of the 9 high priorities identified in Defense S&T and the 14 initiatives identified in Making the Nation Safer. Understanding the risks to the supply of critical materials and learning how to mitigate them are, therefore, essential. Another NRC report considered the narrower topic of how materials research could contribute to meeting twenty-first century military needs. The Department

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m a nag i n g m at e r i a l s twenty-first century military  for a of Defense (DoD) asked the NRC to identify and prioritize the materials and processing R&D required, and the resulting study, released in 2003, explored the revolutionary defense capabilities and looked at five classes of materials: 4 • Structural and multifunctional materials, • Energy and power materials, • Electronic and photonic materials, • Functional organic and hybrid materials, and • Bioderived and bioinspired materials. In considering the opportunities for these materials, the study identified the following core tasks for the U.S. military: • Projecting military power over long distances; • Maintaining the capability to fight far from home; • Coping with the eroding infrastructure of overseas bases; • Safeguarding the homeland; and • Adjusting to major changes in warfare, including joint-service operations, peacekeeping as part of a multinational coalition, and the growing number of humanitarian missions. Defense After Next concluded that certain trends in warfare will continue: • The need will increase for a precision strike force that can maneuver rapidly and effectively and survive an attack while far from the home base. • The force must be able to conceal its activities from an enemy while detect- ing enemy activities. • Advances in information technology will increase coordination among forces. Global awareness through real-time networked sensors and com- munications will facilitate command and control and enable precision strikes. • Using unmanned vehicles, information will be gathered in new ways, mili- tary power will be delivered remotely, and the risk of casualties will be reduced. • Fighting in urban areas will increase, demanding entirely different strategies and equipment. • Guerilla warfare, too, will necessitate new strategies and weapons. 4 NRC, Materials Research to Meet Twenty-first Century Defense Needs, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press (2003). Commonly called Defense After Next and hereinafter referred to by that name.

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aPPendix c  Defense After Next concluded that DoD needs various types of functional- ity, alone and in combination, for its military systems. Improvements in existing materials and breakthroughs in new materials and combinations of materials will be needed to develop new capabilities. Examples of the types of materials needed are as follows: • Lightweight materials that provide functionality equivalent to that of heavier analogues. • Materials that enhance protection and survivability; • Stealth materials; • Electronic and photonic materials for high-speed communication; • Sensor and actuator materials; • High-energy-density materials; and • Materials that improve propulsion technology. More details of this needs-based analysis can be found in the full report, including subpanel reports on the five classes of materials. The report concludes as follows: Future defense systems could employ advanced materials that are self-healing, can interact independently with the local environment, and can monitor the health of a structure or component during operation. Advanced materials could act as a host for evolving tech- nologies, such as embedded sensors and integrated antennas. Advanced materials must also deliver traditional high performance in structures; protect against corrosion, fouling, erosion, and fire; control fractures; and serve as fuels, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids. The next 20 years will present the materials community with daunting challenges and oppor- tunities. Requirements for material producibility, low cost, and ready availability will be much more demanding than they are today. On the other hand, spurred by the accelerated pace of advances in electronics and computation, the performance, life span, and maintain- ability of materials will be greatly enhanced. Some of the advances will result from R&D undertaken by commercial enterprises for competitive advantage in areas like telecommu- nications and computation. In other areas, however, DOD may have to bear the funding burden directly. In these special areas, considerable funding will be necessary not only to identify critical new materials, but also to accelerate their progress through development to applications in the defense systems of the future. (NRC, Materials Research to Meet st Century Needs, 2003, p. 7)