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DOD Unveils New Science & Technology Strategy

The Department of Defense (DOD) recently unveiled its Defense Science & Technology Strategy, a plan which charts post-Cold War defense product development, taking into consideration reduced military budgets and increasing competition on the international level.

The DOD plan discusses 19 specific technology areas in detail, providing specific objectives, funding and schedules. "The department is for the first time proactively developing technology that has the potential to be the basis for both military and commercial products," said Anita Jones, director, defense research and engineering. "An integrated industrial base will serve defense needs better, as well as enhance U.S. economic competitiveness." The Ships and Watercraft Technology Area provides the technology for improved combat efficiency, survivability, and stealth of surface ships, submarines and unmanned undersea vehicles. Funding for this area is $108 million in FY '94.

The following are the funding plans for surface ships, submarines and unmanned undersea vehicles.

Surface Ships Surface Ship science and technology (S&T) supports future joint warfare capabilities by developing hull, mechanical and electrical options which reduce the detectability of U.S. Navy ships; increase the ability to absorb both combat and peacetime damage; and increase operational efficiency.

The S&T plan for surface ships also calls for a Navy which can engage quickly, covertly and decisively.

For example, by 1995 a goal is to include a closed loop degaussing system for mine countermeasure ships, and a low-cavitating propeller. For the year 2000, goals include an advanced enclosed mast/sensor system that will minimize topside signature and enhance sensor performance; a shipboard electromagnetic condition monitoring system that will enable a ship to manage electromagnetic transmissions to minimize interference and active electromagnetic signature; and an advanced combatant degaussing system that will minimize magnetic mine vulnerability. Goals for 2005 include 10-25 dB or similar reductions in radar cross section (RCS), infrared (IR), acoustic, magnetic and electric signatures.

To do more with less ships, the Navy plans to keep future fleets more ship shape with: advanced fiber optic temperature and smoke sensors; a design guideline for blast hardened bulkheads and hull girders; use of advanced composites to increase payload 50 percent; and a new integrated hull armor system which costs 50 percent less and is 20 percent lighter.

Finally, to boost operational efficiency, the Navy has set goals for 1995 as seeking more reliable, reduced emission (NOx) and more efficient marine gas turbine engines; an advanced electrical distribution system; and machinery monitoring and control system architecture. Goals for 2000 are permanent magnet electric drive system and shipboard solid state power building blocks. Goals for 2005 include: shipboard mechanical and electrical systems that reduce weight by 30 to 60 percent, reduce manning up to 50 percent, reduce cost by 50 percent and reduce maintenance and logistical support 50 percent.

Submarines In short, stealth enhancing technologies with a particular focus on noise reduction — as well as hydrodynamic efficiencies are the main focuses of submarine technology development. Submarine S&T provides the attributes for a covert survivable platform having improved advanced joint war fighting capabilities to: maintain real-time knowledge of the enemy; engage regional forces promptly and on a globed scale; employ capabilities suitable to actions at the lower end of the full range of military operations; and counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic and cruise missiles to continental U.S. and deployed forces.

Technology will thus be focused on enhancing the stealth quality of submarines, and focus on maintenance of SSN21 acoustic signature goals at reduced cost, reduction of the signature of surfaced submarines, and reduction of electromagnetic signatures consistent with the threat.

Specifically strategies to accomplish goals are design methods, active mount and coating concepts, composite hull components and imaging and diagnostic technologies. Hydrodynamic studies will address propulsion technology for reduced cost and wake signature, and improved maneuverability and control.

Specifically, the Navy is looking for a cost reduction of 30 to 50 percent and weight reductions of 20 percent over the SSN21 propulsion. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles S&T focus for UUVs will be tc make the vehicles smaller and lighter, as well as more able to wort in shallower waters.

To accomplish these goals S&T dollars will be given for lightweight, low signature composite hull technology and thrust vector pump jet technology (to provide optimum control at low speeds).To help improve UUV endurance, rechargeable lithium batteries are being developed, with expected availability in three years. Aluminum-Oxygen semi-fuel-cells, with four times energy density of silver zinc batteries, will be tested at sea in FY '95; and a Wick-Stirling thermal system program is proceeding toward demonstration in FY '97.

 
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