The charge of the Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) is to provide biennial assessments of the scientific and technical quality of the research, development, and analysis programs at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The advice provided in this report focuses on technical rather than programmatic considerations.
The Board is assisted by six National Research Council (NRC) panels, each of which focuses on the portion of the ARL program conducted by one of ARL’s six directorates. When requested to do so by ARL, the Board also examines work that cuts across the directorates.
The Board has been performing assessments of ARL since 1996. The current report summarizes its findings for the 2009-2010 period, during which 96 volunteer experts in fields of science and engineering participated in the following activities: visiting ARL annually, receiving formal presentations of technical work, examining facilities, engaging in technical discussions with ARL staff, and reviewing ARL technical materials.
The Board continues to be impressed by the overall quality of ARL’s technical staff and their work and applauds ARL for its clear, passionate concern for the end user of its technology—the soldier in the field—and for ARL’s demonstrated mindfulness of the importance of transitioning technology to support immediate and longer-term Army needs.
ARL staff also continue to expand their involvement with the wider scientific and engineering community. This involvement includes monitoring relevant developments elsewhere, engaging in significant collaborative work (including the Collaborative Technology Alliances [CTAs], International Technology Alliance, University Affiliated Research Centers, and University Centers of Excellence), and sharing work through peer reviews (although the sensitive nature of ARL work increasingly presents challenges to such sharing).
In general, ARL is working very well within an appropriate research and development (R&D) niche and has been demonstrating significant accomplishments. Examples among many include the following:
Advances in deployable facilities for the machine translation of foreign-language material in ways that are clearly relevant to real Army problems; new work that has combined ARL’s strengths in both quantum physics and advanced high-performance computing to perform first-in-the-world demonstrations for what can be described as a potentially entirely new way of imaging—called Quantum Ghost Imaging—through scattering and absorbing media; and promising work on social network analysis that focuses on constructing and analyzing social networks from sparsely tagged, unstructured data for tactical “data-to-decision” relationship discovery service;
The development of single-trial-based, Army-relevant paradigms for brain-behavior analysis, including the demonstration that electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of brain activity can be analyzed on a trial-by-trial basis, using independent component analysis (ICA) methods to reveal the neural basis of “Shoot/Don’t shoot” behavior;
Leadership in the work in quantum detectors and III-nitride materials for sources and detectors, in acoustic processing and electromagnetic field sensing, and in semiconductor power switching and conditioning devices;
State-of-the-art work on the compressor-tip-injection stall control that couples experimental data and computational fluid mechanics and will enable the industrial design community to improve gas turbine fuel economy and reduce compressor stall; windage work in high-speed gear systems that promises to improve gearbox efficiency across a wide range of vehicles; and groundbreaking work on microautonomous systems;
The clear evolution of armor in various ways over the years as the threats have also evolved: in particular, improvised explosive devices are creating new demands on armor. Advances in materials and computational tools have made possible new approaches to address passive armor protection. The armor work highlighted for the Board clearly showed the strong value to the Army of the ballistic protection technology and development capabilities of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate (WMRD). The results and accomplishments that were shown were very impressive and clearly demonstrate ARL’s preeminent position in the United States in armor development; and
The WMRD-led science and technology (S&T) effort that resulted in the type classification of the M855A1 round, providing an example of how the S&T program has changed within the Army. The M855A1 solves a need for an improved 5.56 mm round that can deliver more consistent antipersonnel lethality in a variety of operational scenarios and that can also deliver adequate performance against light armor and be environmentally friendly (green). The WMRD effort focused on gaining a detailed understanding of the causes of the performance issues associated with the current M855 round from the integrated viewpoints of aeroballistic, terminal ballistic, and personnel incapacitation concerns. This improved understanding permitted a WMRD-led team to identify a new design concept that could provide improved performance and also be more environmentally friendly than the currently fielded M855 round is.
Many ARL challenges require cross-directorate collaboration. ARL should continue to address several specific areas that require collaboration across ARL directorates. These areas include robotics and autonomous systems, computation and modeling, network science, energy science, and materials by design.
ARL has been responding admirably to severe pressures to transition new technologies quickly to the field and to address those challenging requirements of emerging Army programs at the same time that it maintains its role with respect to longer-term basic research. The types of endeavor involved in
responding quickly to immediate challenges are very important for ARL, but it must be emphasized that basic research is a foundation for future R&D accomplishments.
ARL has been successfully addressing these significant challenges by its careful management of technical resources. Through its extensive interactions with the external academic, industrial, and government R&D communities, ARL develops opportunities to hire talented scientists, engineers, technicians, and managers. Contacts are developed through the many collaborative activities in which staff participate, through the Army Research Office, and through regular stakeholder meetings, planned interaction with academic organizations, and regular recruiting activities. ARL’s ability to secure needed talent would be enhanced by any administrative adjustments that improved speed and flexibility with respect to new appointments. Sufficient funding should be provided to ARL so that funding is not a constraint on managers’ ability to enable the interactions of ARL staff with the scientific community through travel to professional meetings. ARL management should continue to encourage and support its staff to publish in scientific, peer-reviewed journals and proceedings.
The following discussion addresses each of the ARL directorates and includes crosscutting areas and significant advancements and opportunities.
COMPUTATIONAL AND INFORMATION SCIENCES DIRECTORATE
Several technology issues have cut across multiple ARL directorates, but with particular impact on the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD). Examples include advanced computing, networking (especially ad hoc networking), information fusion, information security, system-of-systems analysis, prototyping, and validation and verification (V&V). ARL has initiated efforts that address many of the issues covered by this report, including advanced computing, information fusion, and networking. Other areas, such as information security, system-of-systems analysis, and V&V, could benefit from more crosscutting activities. In addition, however, there are several new areas that may also qualify for ARL-wide consideration:
Microrobotics: The need for surveillance, especially at the squad level, has continued to expand, and the introduction of ever-smaller platforms is continuing to offer new opportunities for deployment. CISD is potentially at the heart of such systems, which involve networking, information fusion, high-performance onboard image processing, and the ability to carry weather detectors and/or be influenced by micro weather events. New capabilities such as swarming and electronic warfare (jamming) will also clearly involve not only CISD but will also interact with the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate (SEDD) in the development of new sensors compatible with limited resources and the Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD) when computing can simplify platforms.
Power: Power or, more precisely, energy consumption, has become a first-class design constraint on almost all Army platforms, especially as more and more functionality is done with computing.
Prognostics and diagnostics: This area involves platform-based fault detection and reconfiguration. The increase in platform complexity and the increasingly rapid schedule of introduction, deployment, and retirement mean that the average soldier who must deal with complex equipment barely has time to learn to use a new system, let alone to become expert enough to be able to repair or reconfigure it. Computing must take a central role in the automation of platform-based fault detection and reconfiguration, but it must do so in ways that are compatible with the platforms and that simplify the soldier’s overall workload. CISD needs to be involved both in platform-based
fault detection and reconfiguration and in remote real-time data mining, parameter extraction, trend analysis, and real-time modeling.
Biomechanics: CISD does not have a central role in the area of biomechanics at present. The topic falls within the scope of the Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED). However, there will be a need to develop and then support significant modeling activities using high-performance computing expertise, facilities, and resources.
Acoustics: Already a strong area in CISD’s research portfolio, acoustics will increase in importance as additional sensors and additional laboratories such as HRED’s Environment for Auditory Research (EAR) come online and require modeling support, data visualization, and correlation with atmospheric effects.
Modeling and computational science: This area clearly overlaps multiple components of CISD’s charter and continues to be an identified area for crosscutting activities.
Identifying potentially disruptive technologies that might radically change the problems facing the Army is an issue of ARL-wide importance. The Army needs to leverage technology to respond to events like the rise of asymmetrical warfare and improvised explosive devices. In CISD’s domain, as in the Army more broadly, change in technologies occurs exceedingly rapidly. Therefore, each of the CISD divisions, CISD as a whole, and ARL in general will benefit from the development of a formal mechanism to help identify critical technologies in a timely fashion.
HUMAN RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING DIRECTORATE
The Human Research and Engineering Directorate has a vast and very important mandate: to understand the functions of the human-in-the-loop in a wide range of Army systems. The most sophisticated sensors, weapons, and information systems will not deliver their full potential if they are not well matched to the capabilities of the humans using them in the conditions under which they are intended to be used. This human-in-the-loop domain includes a wide range of research topics, from basic to applied. Perhaps the fundamental challenge for an organization like HRED is how best to select some subset of the vast number of possible topics for study.
HRED’s ability to perform high-level, fundamental research has been enhanced by several factors:
The influx of talented, early-career new hires;
The use of Collaborative Technology Alliances; and
The development of significant new facilities, including the Cognitive Assessment, Simulation, and Engineering Laboratory (which is open); the Environment for Auditory Research (open); and the facility for Soldier Performance and Equipment Advanced Research (in development).
The Human–Robot Interaction Program has shown progress during the reporting period, particularly in the work incorporating real robots and addressing important field-motivated questions and in the increased consideration of scenarios involving soldiers controlling more than one robotic platform at a time. The group needs to continue its efforts to interact with the broader academic robotics community in order to stay abreast of cutting-edge methods. New resources and new hires may be required in order to make progress in some important areas (e.g., cognitive robotics). Connections with other Army robotics research should be facilitated. In particular, there should be opportunities for crosscutting interactions with SEDD and CISD.
The Human System Integration (HSI) Division continues to have a leadership role in the development of models, tools, and methods to support the assessment and evaluation of warfighter systems. IMPRINT—Improved Performance Research Integration Tool—the division’s most significant tool, continues to improve with the development of new plug-ins and through collaborations with a range of users. The ARL Field Assistance in Science and Technology (FAST) presentation to the Board described applications of human factors engineering in Iraq, compellingly illustrating the value of the deployment of HRED personnel to theater where they can obtain a first-hand understanding of the problems faced by ARL end users (i.e., soldiers). Because of the high demand for specific Manpower and Personnel Integration services, the HSI Division faces a continuing challenge in the balancing of fundamental research and work for Department of Defense (DoD) consumers. The group could usefully absorb an influx of staff and financial support. This would expand the impact of its work within and beyond its immediate Army customers and would allow the group to publish more in Tier 1 peer-reviewed proceedings and journals.
The relatively new neuroscience group has been a model of early program development, with clearly defined goals and a membership including talented, early-career scientists. The group is poised to make significant basic and applied contributions in the young field of neuroergonomics. To date, most progress has been made in the area of EEG measures of soldier performance, including the effort to make EEG recording practical under field conditions. A new CTA promises to open up a broad area of research in the next few years. The primary challenge faced by the neuroscience group is that of managing growth, because it will need expanded staff and facilities in order to meet its potential. As it grows, the group may be able to exploit unique opportunities, presented by its Army setting, for research on multimodal integration, regulation of brain processes, and neuroplasticity.
The social and cognitive network science group works on a timely set of problems. An important challenge for the group, noted in the previous ARLTAB report1 and still relevant, is to focus the group’s energies on specific domains within a vast field. Some progress has been made, with an emphasis on improving distributed collaboration and decision making in warfighters’ complex networked environments by using cognitive science, computer science, and social network innovations. New staff and funding have been obtained. Some projects have been completed (e.g., a study of the effects of network delays on communication outcomes and a qualitative linguistic study of misunderstandings that arise in communications among members of cross-cultural teams). However, the scientific output of program research, as reflected by publications in peer-reviewed journals, remains less than desired over time and in comparison with other programs within HRED. The social and cognitive network science group needs to develop a strategic plan directing the choice of research thrusts and projects that enable the program to contribute both to theory and to warfighter application in the social and cognitive network science domain. The group is in a unique position to study, for example, large-scale field exercises involving a significant number of participants over several days’ time. Most critically, the group needs to develop a strategic plan directing the choice of research thrusts and projects that will enable the program to contribute to basic science and to warfighter applications.
The soldier performance group has overseen the development of two state-of-the-art facilities: the Tactical Environment Simulation Facility and the Environment for Auditory Research. An important challenge for the group is to realize the potential of these facilities for in-house research and joint research with collaborating researchers. The issue of a usage plan for the EAR was raised in the previous ARLTAB report and remains a challenge. The group conducts a wide range of specific research projects in the soldier performance area. Some, like the Auditory Hazard Assessment Algorithm for Humans,
constitute significant contributions. In other areas (e.g., sensor fusion), contributions are less dramatic, and it appears that more contact could be made with researchers within and outside of DoD. In some cases (e.g., studies at Fort Sam Houston on post-traumatic stress disorder), decisions need to be made as to whether HRED should pursue the research topic, important as it is, or whether other DoD groups are better positioned to carry out such work.
SENSORS AND ELECTRON DEVICES DIRECTORATE
The Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate is expected to update its research portfolio continuously in order to keep pace with changes in sensors and electronic device technology. SEDD has addressed this responsibility by increasing its in-house research efforts in several areas, such as wide bandgap materials, image processing, flexible displays, and battery chemistries, while moving on from unattended ground sensors and sensor integration, and transitioning silicon carbide device research from in-house to external projects. Significantly, these changes are guided by a clearly stated long-term vision for each of the major SEDD mission areas. For example, the extreme energy and power vision describes an objective of providing the individual soldier with access to two or three augmented energy sources on the mesoscale and microscale. The heterogeneous electronics vision foresees intelligent systems built from multiple technologies and integrated into clothing, vehicle surfaces, and other stuctures in the warfighter’s environment.
SEDD facilities and equipment must evolve as its research portfolio evolves. Accordingly, SEDD has invested $12.5 million in new equipment and laboratories. Most of these funds were spent on new and upgraded instrumentation, and investments were spread across all of the SEDD divisions. Among the “crown jewels” of SEDD facilities is its extensive semiconductor fabrication facility. This facility has developed into an extraordinary research support tool capable of producing a diverse set of advanced semiconductor devices, all of which are critical to the SEDD mission. However, even though it has been continuously upgraded since 2002, the semiconductor fabrication facility is in need of a major review. Much of the processing and support equipment is nearing the end of its useful life span. The maintenance status and the impact of the introduction of new process procedures need to be reviewed. ARL and SEDD management needs an independent, objective look at all of these issues and must be prepared to make a significant investment in the near future to keep this capability at the cutting edge.
There are several other crown jewel projects in which SEDD researchers are leading the field. Most notable is the work in quantum detectors and III-nitride materials for sources and detectors. SEDD’s leadership in this field stems not just from its top-notch scientific staff but also from the fabrication facilities—among the best in the world—that it maintains. Another area of SEDD leadership is in acoustic processing and electromagnetic field sensing. SEDD researchers in this area can point to immediate impacts on the battlefield; several systems from this group have been deployed in recent years. Semiconductor power switching and conditioning devices are also an area of leadership. This reflects a combination of quality staff, excellent facilities, and a direct application to Army requirements. Although its participation in the Flexible Display Center is not an internal program, it is important to note the role that SEDD plays in the center. The flexible display technology has potentially extensive consumer and military applications. However, in some specifications, devices for these two markets may not coincide. The participation of SEDD in this center, generally to assist in the advancement of the technology, but additionally to see that military needs are met, shows significant foresight by ARL and SEDD management.
SURVIVABILITY AND LETHALITY ANALYSIS DIRECTORATE
The Survivability and Lethality Analysis Directorate (SLAD) provides sound assessment and evaluation support with respect to the survivability, lethality, and vulnerability of Army equipment and soldier systems to ensure that soldiers and systems can survive and function reliably in the full spectrum of battlefield environments. SLAD is well staffed with bright, creative professionals enthusiastic about their mission, and its facilities include state-of-the-art laboratories. SLAD has many opportunities to expand its testing and evaluation base through select program expansion aimed at developing tools and methodologies to broaden the directorate’s analysis capabilities and at defining and maintaining the competitive edge required to be the Army’s primary source for survivability, lethality, and vulnerability assessment. The system-of-systems analysis program and the Modular UNIX-based Vulnerability Estimation Suite, or MUVES 3, program continue to cause significant concern, but with appropriate focus these programs can grow to become foundations of the SLAD analysis capabilities.
In wartime, rapid response to soldier-in-the-field challenges is imperative. SLAD personnel have provided exemplary service to their country in this time of war, with their dedication and “can-do” attitude. This highly motivated, mission-aligned, enthusiastic group of engineers and technicians has made significant contributions to the Army and DoD through creative problem solving and solid engineering know-how. An excellent example of this effectiveness is the program in radio-frequency countermeasures. This program is very impressive. This group has provided effective response to Army needs and support of Army personnel, demonstrating a high-energy, creative approach to solving problems quickly while maintaining cost-consciousness. This support work for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization is commendable and an impressive help to Army field personnel. The modular approach used in this program ensures extensibility of the methodology to enable quick turnaround on future problems. This program also shows a good use of existing software for analysis.
The Target Interaction Lethality/Vulnerability (TILV) Program is an excellent example of an SLAD strategic program aimed at improving SLAD’s vulnerability analysis capabilities. A typical TILV project is 3 to 4 years in duration and is designed to address a significant methodology shortfall. Some of examples of recent TILV projects include studies of underbody blast effects and ballistic helmet impacts.
The development of underbody blast methodology is well thought out and is commendable for filling a critical need in this area. The methodology combines appropriate physics and necessary codes to assess damage to vehicles. There is a good understanding of the limitations of the various elements that are interconnected to form the overall methodology. This is a notable example of research that could have an impact on the next generation of vehicles. The work is being presented at appropriate conferences and would benefit from peer review for publication in archival journals.
The study of ballistic impacts on helmets is a good example of solid engineering using well-established principles to improve test standards. This program provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with outside experts to define and conduct further research efforts in this area.
In contrast with the program portfolios of many of the other ARL directorates, the SLAD program portfolio includes relatively few applied research programs and no basic research program. The vast majority of SLAD programs are funded at much later stages in the DoD research, development, testing, and evaluation chain supporting acquisition and deployment programs. The SLAD portfolio and evaluation structure are based strongly in its long history of ballistics-based vulnerability assessment. It is commendable that SLAD has broadened its program base to include the assessment of communication, network, and information-processing vulnerability on the battlefield; nonetheless, the efficacy of the SLAD tool development methodology may not be sufficient to identify and stay ahead of the rapidly emerging threats to network-centric warfare in an irregular battlefield environment.
SLAD’s implementation of a matrix structure seems a creative way to balance the culture of innovation and prototype development with program support. This approach should be promoted. A critical concern, however, is whether the leaders who are equivalent to program and/or project managers have the requisite control over resources necessary to be responsive to sponsors’ needs, or whether they are simply internal coordinators.
SLAD management is aware of the importance of hiring creative, energetic, and innovative professionals, as well as competent and enthusiastic early-career engineers and interns. Management also recognizes the value of professional development and provides several methods for this: pursuit of advanced degrees, certifications, personal leadership opportunities, developmental assignments, conferences, and collaborations. More emphasis should be placed on continued education, both to enhance the knowledge and experience base in the principles of basic research and to broaden the scope of collaboration outside ARL.
VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY DIRECTORATE
The Vehicle Technology Directorate has established the tradition of a research approach that successfully applies analytical tools and experimental techniques in a controlled environment to hardware-based problems of various scales. In many areas, VTD research is contributing to both fundamental and applied levels of technology. In addition, many examples exist of the work of VTD fulfilling both current and future Army needs. VTD has been continually demonstrating evidence of the increasingly high quality of its research. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision requiring consolidation of VTD at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, coupled with VTD management’s evolving focus on Army needs, is increasing the quality of the VTD research portfolio.
The establishment of eight capability concepts that embody clearly defined future Army needs is a good example of VTD focus as it moves from research emphasis on helicopter-type vehicles to research emphasis on smaller, autonomous robotic vehicles. The capability concepts approach also improves the quality of the research portfolio by allowing VTD management to ensure that all of the research needed to support each capability concept is underway by the technical community either inside or outside VTD. The recognition that a crawling-bug-type vehicle needs to be added to the Micro Autonomous Vehicle Capability Concept is a clear example of management’s understanding of the Army’s need in this research area. In a similar manner, the capability concepts approach allows VTD to prioritize research so that research impacting several capability concepts can be moved forward, or research that does not apply to any capability concept might be redirected or stopped. The combustion of Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) fuel in a very small volume is an example of a crosscutting technology area that would impact several capability concepts, and it is therefore a high-priority research area.
Some of VTD’s high-quality technical work is clearly an important contribution to the overall technical community. For example, the compressor-tip-injection stall control work that couples experiment data and computational fluid mechanics is state of the art and will enable the industrial design community to improve gas turbine fuel economy and reduce compressor stall. In a similar manner, the windage work in high-speed gear systems is state of the art and promises to improve gearbox efficiency across a wide range of vehicles. The research in microautonomous systems is groundbreaking work. The researchers involved in this work are of high quality. The development of a complete portfolio of work in this area and the addition of new team members will improve the focus of this work.
There are emergent areas and opportunities in engineering in mesoscale and bio-inspired systems. These scales represent an opportunity for VTD to take a leadership role. Moreover, this scale of system
is likely to be compatible with a multitude of systems for the soldier—for example, squad- or platoon-level reconnaissance assets utilizing new concepts for air and ground vehicles.
There is a need for the modeling of vehicle systems in VTD. The results of good models, such as performance prediction and scalability studies, seemed absent in many of the VTD project descriptions provided to the ARLTAB. Robotic platforms and air vehicles need modeling to enable understanding of performance limits and optimization of platform parameters. Modeling is also critical to system design; good models are the key to insight into the underlying physics, from which meaningful functional and performance metrics can be developed and understood.
VTD should consider undertaking an effort in each of the following emerging technology areas: mesoscale power sources, such as small fuel cells and gas turbines; the analytical modeling of physical processes such as combustion; and simulators for the training of operators of remotely piloted air and ground vehicles.
High energy density power systems will be a disruptive technology in future Army vehicles. Therefore, VTD should develop and sustain its capability to take a leadership role in some classes of the DoD small engine initiatives. The Vehicle Applied Research Division will be of great help in determining in which classes VTD should have the natural leadership role. That is, in order to decide where natural leadership roles exist, VTD should carefully define classes of small engines. For example, a characterization of classes might be as follows: (1) gas turbines: from 3,000 to 10,000 shaft horsepower (hp); (2) internal combustion engines: from 2 to 50 hp; (3) electrical engines: from 0.1 to 10 hp; and (4) hybrid power systems. For example, one area of research that deserves consideration is power sources for baseball-size vehicles. The energy per unit of mass achievable from common hydrocarbon fuel is more than an order of magnitude greater than what can be achieved with batteries. Thus, an attempt to develop efficient and stable combustors of smaller volume (a cubic centimeter to a few cubic centimeters) for these baseball-size vehicles could produce significant payoffs for small autonomous air and ground vehicles. The number of engine classes needed by the Army and the enabling technology required will exceed the resources of VTD. However, careful selection of primary leadership classes and classes in which VTD needs to leverage the work of other government agencies and industry is the information needed to make the Army an intelligent buyer and will be of great use in focusing VTD.
The materials science and technology area is of particular importance to VTD. Addressing the need to develop this area requires that personnel embedded in VTD collaborate with others at ARL, universities, and other laboratories. The new VTD laboratory facility and the embedded capabilities of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate can be utilized to attract new researchers, faculty, and students for summer internship programs and develop existing personnel in this vital area.
WEAPONS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH DIRECTORATE
The Weapons and Materials Research Directorate continues to conduct science and technology of very wide breadth and great depth for purposes that include the protection of warfighters and their being provided with robust lethal instruments to carry out their mission objectives.
High-quality research is underway in almost all WMRD areas of interest: materials development and characterization thrusts, model development, and simulation. The WMRD-led S&T effort on the M855A1 round and the affordable precision munitions program are examples of the strong technical expertise embodied within ARL. ARL is strongly encouraged to continue its focus on capturing and controlling the intellectual property and modeling and simulation expertise in the protection and lethality areas.
The experimental results and simulations used to analyze the path of projectiles stabilized by gyroscopic control are very impressive. The analysis being conducted is well conceived and provides clear evidence for the value of the proposed control mechanism (taking advantage of a control spinner from the rear). This project represents success for WMRD on several fronts: WMRD designed a reduced system of ordinary differential equations that is capable of reproducing the controlled trajectories well and hence may lend itself better to onboard calculation; the design that followed provided the use of a spinner to stabilize and control projectile trajectories. WMRD provided a clear analysis (by customer request) of the flight dynamics of a retrofitted projectile and an explanation of why it does not lend itself to adequate control. WMRD’s experimental and modeling efforts in this area represent the state of the art within DoD.
As the path to the development of advanced modeling and simulation tools aimed at predictive capability to support future systems, WMRD is strongly encouraged to continually refine models coupled to systematic validation experiments over a range of scales and to be mindful of quantitative assessment of the margins and uncertainties in their numerics and simulations.
WMRD is pursuing a mission that is well suited to its excellence in S&T in the areas of protection and lethality and is serving the short-term tactical needs of the warfighter as well as following an S&T vision to prepare for wars of the future. That said, there remain opportunities and challenges. WMRD has continued to increase its emphasis on coupling experimental and modeling efforts within its programmatic efforts; achieving and maintaining this balance constitute a worthy goal. Neverthless, error convergence in all modeling and simulation efforts should still be pursued and can be improved. In addition, verification and validation, while more obvious in the current review cycle than ever before, should continue to receive attention. More case studies in which the accuracy of the codes is checked against validation experiments should also be strongly encouraged by WMRD management.
The reinvigorating effects of new early-career staff were very evident during the current review cycle. This hiring trend should be continued as the path to sustainable excellence in the areas of protection and lethality.
WMRD is making an investment in energetics synthesis as a national asset to support both Department of Defense and Department of Energy programs. WMRD and ARL deserve commendation for initiating this effort and should continue to pursue building a core program in this area.
Much of WMRD’s program in energetics materials modeling appears to emphasize quantum chemical modeling heavily, and experimental investigation and verification appear to receive less emphasis. The energetics materials modeling effort should be focused on a few challenging problems selected from appropriate length scales.
WMRD’s control of the intellectual property in the area of precision design projects is an excellent approach to the development of new munitions because it helps to maintain expertise within DoD through such means as patents and publication. Holding the intellectual property within the Army and within DoD should be encouraged across an increasing number of technical S&T areas. The low-cost precision munition is a strong success story, of which the Excalibur project is an example.
The WMRD program in advanced weapons concepts is designed to identify projects that have high risk and high payoff for the Army. Innovative ideas are sought from WMRD researchers and leadership that bear on the mission of the Lethality Division and meet immediate or perceived future needs of the Army. The number of in-house proposals considered has grown from 4 in fiscal year (FY) 2009, to 11 in FY 2010, to 31 for FY 2011, demonstrating the success in stimulating idea generation within the division. Interaction with the warfighter has occurred in evaluating the utility of some proposals. Input has also been sought from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and other Army customers.
Based on the success of this program in advanced weapons concepts in the Lethality Division, it appears that similar programs should be launched in other areas within WMRD’s portfolio. This program should be continued as long as funding criteria are such that high-risk, high-payoff projects are likely to be funded over those that are deemed to be more conventional and that program funding is not used to augment or supplant standard funding mechanisms. Researchers in the Lethality Division should be encouraged to identify customer proponents to enhance the likelihood that standard project funding will follow closely after the success of the initial project.