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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program
vehicles. In particular, operations in the sea and in coastal regions call for vehicles that can be propelled in water as well on land. In addition, the need to carry them by helicopter and inside V-22s imposes size and weight constraints. The Marine Corps reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting vehicle (RST-V) and the Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) expeditionary family of fighting vehicles (MEFF-V) are being designed and developed to satisfy these needs, while incorporating advanced technologies from the new Army vehicles.
Autonomous control systems for various vehicles have been developed for all the Services. Some variants of these control systems are expected to be incorporated into the new Marine Corps designs. Special requirements for operation in the surf zone will have to be considered by the ONR researchers providing the technology for overcoming threats close to shore.
ONR has an Organic Mine Countermeasures future naval capability (FNC) program intended to address both Navy and Marine Corps mine countermeasure challenges from very shallow water through the beach exit zone. The ONR Code 353 focus, then, would be on mine countermeasures challenges unique to the Marine Corps that are not already being addressed by the organic mine countermeasures FNC or Army programs and on sensitizing the Army to Marine Corps needs.
The extremely important Marine Corps need for rapid and reliable mine detection has motivated the conduct of many programs in the recent past. These programs have had different degrees of success, but it is fair to say that to date, none have shown sufficient promise for solving this high-priority problem. Littoral remote sensing (LRS) and broader all-source means can be used to locate potentially mined areas both on land and in the sea and to cue mine detection systems, but are effective to only a limited degree. Timely and cohesive characterization of the potential threat remains key.
The variety of situations and media involved makes the mine detection problem very difficult to solve. Mines are found in a variety of configurations and deployments. Some are magnetic, some are nonmagnetic (such as plastics), and some may be buried either deliberately or as a result of shifting sand. Still others may be secured with objects in the surf zone, where they can be obscured by turbidity and other mechanisms. On the other hand, wave action in the surf zone might eventually sterilize some of the mines, thereby reducing the threat, provided that no mines had been recently laid.
Mine detection on dry land is another problem that is generally shared by the Army and, in the case of detection at widely distributed locations, the Special Forces. Standoff mines close to clearings could pose threats to V-22 landings.
Joint Mine Detection Technology
The Joint Mine Detection Technology (JMDT) exploratory development program seeks to develop technology for the high-priority capability of remote detection of minefields through the use of imaging sensors. Planned near-term efforts include the development of a multispectral sensor, a laser illuminator, and algorithms for the declaration and characterization of minefields. Short-term transition targets include the UAV-mounted coastal battlefield reconnaissance and analysis (COBRA) system that attempts to detect minefields through image analysis and the Organic Mine Countermeasures FNC.
The elusiveness of a science-based approach in the myriad of earlier unsuccessful programs to some extent bears witness to the many difficulties associated with this long-standing problem. It would also