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2005–2006 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory 7 Weapons and Materials Research Directorate INTRODUCTION The Weapons and Materials Research Directorate (WMRD) was reviewed by the Panel on Armor and Armaments, which met during June 7-9, 2005, and June 5-7, 2006. The theme of the 2005 review was research and development related to lethality, and for 2006 the theme was R&D related to survivability. WMRD contains three divisions that are reviewed by the Panel: Materials; Terminal Effects; and Ballistics and Weapons Concepts. In addition, the Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL’s) Robotics Program Office, acting as the principal point of contact within the Army technology base community to the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise (JGRE, formerly the Joint Robotics Program), is located in the Office of the WMRD Director. WMRD also provides technical support to the Army Electromagnetic Gun Program Office, which is managed under the auspices of the ARL Director. WMRD also is responsible for the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA), which was extended by 3 years from the original 5-year program to run through fiscal year 2009. Tables A.1 and A.2 in Appendix A show the funding profile and the staffing profile for WMRD. CHANGES SINCE THE LAST REVIEW During the current review period, the leadership of the WMRD and the Panel focused specifically on the area of computational science and modeling, which constitutes a significant thrust that cuts across many WMRD projects. The ongoing dialogue has resulted in greater use of effective modeling and simulation in the 2006 programs than was seen in the previous year, and more effort toward validation with experimentation was seen as well.
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2005–2006 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES Most Significant Advances The effort on electromagnetic armor will, without doubt, not only define the future direction of active protection systems (APS) for the Army, but should also define a paradigm for how WMRD should focus its R&D efforts. As to the future direction of APS, the emphasis on electric-power-based kinetic energy (KE) mitigation and electromagnet armor (EMA) ushers in new and novel approaches to vehicle protection, which in the future will be merged with hybrid vehicles (and perhaps electromagnetic rail guns) to form powerful electrical-energy-based fighting systems. As to an R&D paradigm, the excellent quality and promise of the work described provide a clear demonstration of how long-term investments made at WMRD in the past in fundamental work (on modeling and simulation, for example) are now having an impact on the design of new solutions to challenging Army problems. Opportunities and Challenges The collection of work presented at the 2005 and 2006 reviews is of very high quality, but it is in the area of armor protection (survivability) that WMRD shines most brightly. Across all the technology areas reviewed, the long-term investments made in modeling and simulation are now paying off. Of course, modeling and simulation are not activities that exist as stand-alone entities; in order to be successful, advances in modeling and simulation must go hand in hand with, and be in agreement with, experimental results, or even lead them. This, in turn, requires a multidisciplinary approach, wherein physicists, materials scientists, and computational experts all converge to address identifiable high-payoff technology areas of interest to the Army. Such a convergence has led to the excellent advances obtained in many of the areas covered in these reviews, but it is most evident perhaps in the area of KE mitigation and EMA. The high quality of the work and the potential payoffs to the Army are the result of historical investments in basic research that have attracted good scientists and made possible the ongoing transition from heavy armor to the next generation of lighter-weight armor, which is more suitable to emerging vehicles. Such a paradigm (which includes a basic research investment, the hiring and promotion of good scientists, and a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving) is now paying off and should continue to be the R&D paradigm of the future for WMRD. The Board strongly encourages WMRD to continue and increase such investments. RESEARCH ASSESSMENT Methodology Judged against efforts at universities or at national laboratories, the WMRD work appears somewhat lacking in the basic research area. If, however, WMRD is judged for its mission as an engineering and applied science facility that supplies the Army with technological solutions that would be difficult to find elsewhere, then it is succeeding. The work is focused on solving practical problems of interest and importance to the Army, and it definitely is of relevance to the soldier in the field. The morale, enthusiasm, and competence of the WMRD staff seem generally good. The particular research problems that the WMRD team has presented are clearly ones that have benefited from theoretical modeling at an appropriate level of sophistication and will continue to do so in the future. In particular, the use of theoretical modeling for filling in important gaps in structure and
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2005–2006 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory mechanistic details and for validation purposes constitutes an important endeavor. However, in some cases the caliber of such modeling fell somewhat short of that needed to be a reliable tool for prediction. While commendable, the computational effort would benefit in some areas from mentoring by an experienced theoretical/computational scientist who could offer critical evaluation and guidance in key areas and high-level scope. Moreover, a distinction needs to be made between computing for engineering purposes (designing a widget) and scientific purposes (better understanding of the physics or chemistry of the problem); ARL does a fine job in the former area and falls short in the latter area. Continuing the review of the application of computational science, as applied to the complex and demanding ARL problems, would be of great benefit in advancing the overall capabilities of the directorate. Contributions to Army Needs A consideration in reviewing WMRD’s work is that the work being reported will, if all goes well in the R&D effort, be of benefit in addressing Army needs and be technically worthwhile. In a few cases, the Board concluded that the programs had little chance of providing such benefits, and where ARL management perceives such cases, it should consider redirecting or terminating the efforts. For example, the Lightweight Cartridge Case effort has shown few positive results, and its currently planned efforts should be reexamined. The Board also had reservations about the viability of the Ceramic Gun program, which has suffered from some severe technical problems related to rifling and the inability to make long ceramic tubes with sufficient straightness to be viable. Otherwise, the programs were well directed toward Army needs, and most of them, if successful technically, could provide important contributions. The Board is particularly impressed with the potential of the following: Electromagnetic Armor and KE Threat Mitigation—This program is a multidisciplinary effort that will define the future direction of active protection for the Army. The cooperative effort with Sandia National Laboratories is to be encouraged, and the Arbitrary-Lagrangian-Eulerian General Research Applications (ALEGRA)—large-deformation shock physics code developed at Sandia) and ARL electromagnetic studies highlight the success of using modeling in collaboration with insightful experimentation to advance a technology of great potential to the Army. Dynamic Damage in Armor Ceramics—This program highlights one of the great strengths and successes at ARL over the past few years in the theoretical understanding of armor defeat through its computational modeling and simulation as well as its experimental validation. The progress in this area has been one of the most impressive contributions from WMRD and should demonstrate the reason why basic research is necessary to make significant progress in areas of great importance to the Army. Crew and Component Protection Program—This program has a number of short-term accomplishments to its credit, including (1) mine survival kits, (2) improved crew seats, and (3) Stryker shields. The Board suggests that further emphasis is needed in the area of remote detection of explosives and constitutive modeling of blast from explosives in a nonreactive matrix (e.g., soil, street materials, concrete), all related to the improvised explosive device problem. Smart Projectiles—This is clearly an ARL success story. It is a fairly mature technology, in which various partners have played a major role. Although it has been difficult to distinguish what was done by ARL and what was done by its partners, the Board notes that effective partnering is one metric of success.
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2005–2006 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory Terminal Effects—With the current emphasis on defeating the enemy in urban warfare, this effort has the objective of developing multifunctional warheads with improved precision to provide the warfighter with flexibility while minimizing collateral damage. Energetic Materials—This program is focused on responding to Army needs for higher-energy and lower-sensitivity energetics that are also inexpensive and environmentally acceptable. The approaches were derived, in part, from a strategic plan formulated by the national community in energetic materials and include efforts in computational chemistry and application of a wide range of analytical diagnostic methods to characterize the properties and performance of the materials. WMRD has a long and distinguished record in the diagnostics area, and it competes favorably with rival institutions; the effort in computational modeling of energetic molecules falls short of the state of the art and needs a critical evaluation. Contributions to the Broader Community Basic research is critical and fundamental to the ability of ARL to address future Army needs. On behalf of maintaining an adequately robust basic research program, WMRD should undertake a thorough investigation of current and emerging programs to identify limitations of knowledge and its ability to investigate and solve current and future problems of Army interest. Once these are identified, the directorate should develop a strategy and path forward for basic and applied research efforts to address limitations, enhance fundamental knowledge, and exploit innovative findings. Many of the areas that will be identified are likely to be applicable across a large number of technology areas; therefore, there will be high payoff in the short term, and WMRD will be provided with an improved technology base to solve Army problems in the future. CROSSCUTTING ISSUES OF RELEVANCE TO THE DIRECTORATE Virtually every program reviewed in 2005 and 2006 uses and benefits from the computational modeling and simulation capabilities at ARL. During the 2005 review, the Panel noted that a number of programs were limited by inadequacies in their software models and simulation techniques and identified codes and software packages that could be made available to ARL. The WMRD Director took note of these comments, and significant improvements have been made in the way the crosscutting technology of computational science, modeling, and simulation is employed.
Representative terms from entire chapter: