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2009-2010 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory
presented by the consolidation required by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision to develop and motivate a unified team around a research portfolio focused on the critical Army need of ground and air vehicles, with a current focus on relatively small vehicles. Although the hiring of new team members and the transition of the research portfolio from a focus on large, helicopter-type vehicles to a focus on the smaller ground and air vehicles have not been completed, there has been much progress on both of these issues in the past 2 years.
Currently three of the four VTD divisions are located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and the fourth is in the process of locating there. In addition, VTD has in place a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA for the 11 VTD staff members who will remain at the NASA Glenn Research Center or the NASA Langley Research Center. This Memorandum of Understanding gives VTD the advantage of having access to unique facilities and personnel at the two NASA sites. At Aberdeen Proving Ground, construction is under way to house VTD personnel and corresponding research laboratories. The new building is scheduled for occupation in time to meet the date mandated by BRAC.
During this 2009-2010 review period, the most far-reaching change to VTD has been the development and staffing of VARD. The creation of this new division is in direct response to concerns expressed by ARLTAB in its previous report.2 That report urged VTD to maintain a systems focus as it instituted changes in its location, personnel, and research portfolio over the 2009-2010 period. With respect to its research portfolio, VARD has used integrated systems analysis to define eight capability concept (CC) vehicles that address defined Army objectives and critical capability needs (see Figure 6.1). VTD management is in the process of aligning its research portfolio to address the technologies required to meet the requirements of the eight capability concept vehicles.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ADVANCEMENTS
Significant technical transition has been achieved by the divisions and several programs during the past 2 years. The status of these accomplishments and advancements is discussed below.
VTD’s most far-reaching accomplishment in the past 2 years has been the development by VARD of the eight capability concepts. These eight CCs cover the Army’s objectives and critical capability needs, make a clear statement of VTD’s vision to meet the Army’s needs, and serve as a clear guideline for individual researchers to align their research to these needs. The CCs also allow VTD management to prioritize research that will impact more than one CC and to determine quickly if its portfolio of research is sufficient to meet the technology requirements of the capability concepts. The focus provided by the CCs will serve as a valuable yardstick for VTD as it continues its efforts to develop an excellent research portfolio in the new focus area of small autonomous air and ground vehicles. Because VTD is in the process of changing to the capability-concept-driven research portfolio, the discussion below is organized to present the status of the research and progress of an example capability concept and related general accomplishments.
Examples of the Persistent-Staring-Vehicle Capability Concept
The goal of VTD’s research portfolio for the persistent-staring-vehicle capability concept is to reduce the weight by a factor of two and increase the time on station by a factor of five relative to a referenced vehicle. VTD’s research portfolio for this capability concept includes a pressurized-structure vehicle, powered by advanced internal combustion engines, ceramic engine components, flash-vaporized Jet