News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

8. DoD Strategic Research Objectives

In coordination with other DoD departments and agencies, the U.S. Army has defined six SROs that synergistically focus multidisciplinary research themes to achieve technology enablement in 10–15 years, with a high potential payoff in numerous Army applications. These SROs were originally envisioned to encompass about 15 percent of the Army 6.1 research budget. Accordingly, the Army has identified approximately this percentage of its 6.1 research program with the six currently approved DoD–wide SROs: biomimetics, nanoscience, smart structures, mobile wireless communications, intelligent systems, and compact power sources. The Army is currently expanding these DoD SROs to facilitate the recognition of Army–specific research themes in areas such as information dominance, enhanced soldier performance, tunable lethality, protection of information systems, advanced compact and multifunctional sensors, and science for innovations in logistics. A more detailed description of the current six SROs follows.

a. Biomimetics


As an SRO, biomimetics aims to enable development of new structural and functional materials and technologically innovative approaches toward sensing and information processing, with product and process lessons from nature contributing to design principles, performance capabilities, and manufacturing possibilities.


To accomplish this goal, biomimetics seeks to benefit from the direct manipulation of a process of biological origin or from engineered exploitation that derives a product or process design or function from a naturally occurring system. The overall approach is one that incorporates in a wholly integrated manner the most advanced and diverse conceptual and experimental tools of a number of scientific disciplines, including, but not limited to, biology, materials science, chemistry, physics, math and computer sciences, and electronics. There are numerous materials occurring in biological systems that exhibit remarkable properties. Uniquely, these materials derive their functionality from fabrication processes composed of several levels of self–assembly involving molecular clusters organized into structures of different length scales. Some of these materials are able to effect exceptionally efficient transfer of mass, charge and energy over a very wide range of performance durations, or to provide unique supportive and protective structures. Biological systems also have exquisite and highly integrated sensing capabilities that allow rapid and selective recognition and signal processing that can detect and classify target molecules, men, or machines in noisy and cluttered environments. Sensors designed using biological principles offer the possibility of novel classes of sensors, far more sensitive and rapid than anything available today.

Military Potential

Rapidly emerging advances in this very young area of scientific endeavor show substantial promise to affect a number of Army applications. Contributions are expected to cover a wide range, including tough, lightweight composites for armor, chemical detection applicable to explosives and nerve agents, novel fibers for individual soldier protection, and catalysts for both synthetic and degradative purposes. Potential Army applications are noted in Figure V–1.

Figure V-1. Biometrics Research Explodes in Applications for Army After Next
Figure V-1. Biometrics Research Explodes in Applications for Army After Next

b. Nanoscience


Achieve dramatic, innovative enhancements in the properties and performance of structures, materials, and devices that have controllable features on the nanometer scale (i.e., tens of angstroms).


Army support for nanoscience research is focused on creating new theoretical and experimental results involving atomic scale imaging methods, subangstrom measurement techniques, and fabrication methods with atomic control that will provide reproducible material structures and novel devices. It also includes direct investigations of phenomenological evolution that is dominated by size effects or quantum effects. These quantum effects may, in turn, be used as the basis for fundamentally new capabilities or for enhancing the performance of existing devices. Similar control over the electromagnetic propagation in nanostructured materials may allow for more precise control of microwave, infrared, and visible radiation. Scientific opportunities include understanding new phenomena in low dimensional structures, nucleation and growth, self–organizing materials, site–specific reactions, and three–dimensional (3D) nanostructural materials.

Military Potential

The ability to fabricate structures affordably at the nanometer scale (as illustrated in Figure V–2) will enable new approaches and processes for manufacturing novel, more reliable, lower cost, higher performance, and more flexible electronic, magnetic, optical, and mechanical devices. Recognized applications of nanoscience include ultra small, highly parallel and fast computers with terabit nonvolatile random access memory and teraflop speed, image information processors, low power personal communication devices, high–density information storage devices, lasers and detectors for weapons and countermeasures, optical (IR, visible, ultraviolet (UV)) sensors for improved surveillance and targeting, integrated sensor suites for CB agent detection, catalysts for enhancing and controlling energetic reactions and decontamination, synthesis of new compounds (e.g., narrow–bandgap materials and nonlinear optical materials) for advanced electronic, magnetic, and optical sensors, quantum computation for code breaking, resource optimization and wargaming, photonic band engineering for sensor protection, powerful radar, and low observables, and significant life–cycle cost reductions in many systems through failure remediation. These devices exploit exciting properties of nanoscale materials not predictable from macroscopic physical and chemical principles.

Figure V-2. Nanometer-Scale Micrograph
Figure V-2. Nanometer-Scale Micrograph

c. Smart Structures


Demonstrate advanced capabilities for modeling, predicting, controlling, and optimizing the dynamic response of complex, multielement, deformable structures used in civil structures, land vehicle, weapon, and rotorcraft systems.


Smart structures offer significant potential for expanding the effective operations envelope and improving certain critical operational characteristics for many Army systems. Key characteristics of smart structures include embedded or bonded sensors and actuators linked to a controller responsive to external stimuli to compensate in real time or quasi–real time for undesirable effects or to enhance overall system performance. To help realize the full potential of smart structures in military systems, the Army’s basic research program is supporting fundamental investigations that address active/passive structural damping techniques, advanced actuator concepts able to provide greater forces and displacements, embeddable and nonintrusive sensors, and smart actuator materials (e.g., piezoelectric, electrostrictive, and magnetostrictive materials, shape memory alloys, magnetorheological fluids). Important studies focused on new fabrication processes for actuators and sensors on the micron to millimeter scale, computationally accurate and efficient constitutive models for smart materials, advanced mathematical models for nonconservative and nonlinear structural and actuator response, robust hierarchical control with distributed sensors and actuators, and concurrent, integrated structural design and control methodologies are also being pursued.

Military Potential

Specific potential military applications of smart structures include shock isolation and machinery vibration, vibration control and stability augmentation systems in rotary wing aircraft to extend structural fatigue life and reliability, barrier structures providing improved protection against CB agents, structural damage detection and health monitoring systems, more accurate rapid fire weapon systems, fire control and battle damage identification, assessment, and control of active, conformal, load–bearing antenna structures, phased arrays, and broadband spiral antenna systems (see Figure V–3).

Figure V-3. Smart Composite Actuator Concept and Army Applications
Figure V-3. Smart Composite Actuator Concept and Army Applications

d. Mobile Wireless Communications


Provide fundamental advances enabling the rapid and survivable communication on–the–move (OTM) of large quantities of multimedia information (speech, data, graphics, and video) from point to point, broadcast, and multicast over distributed mobile wireless networks for heterogeneous command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems.


Research on high frequency devices, sources, and waveguides and techniques such as quasi–optical power combining can increase radio carrier frequencies beyond 20 gigahertz (GHz) where channels can have wider bandwidths and consequently greater capacity. Research on processing for smart antennas with beamsteering, diversity combining, and spectrum reuse and new methods of source, channel, and modulation coding enable increased capacity with lower power, extending battery lifetime and reducing probability of interception. Protocol engineering research provides the technology to integrate cable, satellite, and mobile wireless heterogeneous networks and to maintain connectivity, routing, and quality of service for multimedia communications in highly dynamic battlefield conditions. Modeling and simulation (M&S) research is performed to assess performance and network stability and to evaluate propagation phenomena in urban and rural environments.

Military Potential

Research in this area provides the technology for establishing and maintaining mobile wireless network communications OTM under the harsh and highly dynamic conditions of modern battlefields. Civil networks have a fixed structural component (e.g., cellular towers) not usable in mobile military systems and the military channel is more complex and dynamic. Timely arrival of messages is highly critical to military operations and networks can have no single points of failure and must be self–organizing to be survivable. Research in mobile wireless communications is needed to dramatically improve the throughput, survivability, and security of complex mobile wireless networks critical to the success of future Force XXI and AAN highly mobile operations. Advances in mobile wireless communications will significantly increase the capacity, reliability, and survivability of the Army’s battlefield information distribution systems (see Figure V–4).

Figure V-4. Mobile Wireless Communications
Figure V-4. Mobile Wireless Communications.
Seamless mobile wireless communication is the underpin-ning of many of the capabilities for the Army After Next and the Joint Warfighting Science and Technology Plan.  In the 21st century, DoD must field a robust mobile wireless communication systemthat can provide commu-nications OTM to warfighters, integrate heterogeneous network protocols, including commercial protocols suchas ATM, integrated services digital network(ISDN), and transmissioncontrol protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), and multimedia (video, voice, and data) services. This SRO addresses these issues for spatial reuse of channels, robust compression for wireless channels, and operation with minimumenergy to extend battery lifetime.
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e. Intelligent Systems


Enable the development of advanced systems able to sense, analyze, learn, adapt, and function effectively in changing or hostile environments until completing assigned missions or functions.


Intelligent systems offer exciting new possibilities for conducting many types of military operations, ranging from reconnaissance and surveillance activities to a variety of specialized combat operations. Intelligent systems typically consist of a dynamic network of agents interconnected via spatial and communications links that operate in uncertain and dynamically changing environments using decentralized or distributed input and under localized goals that may change over time. The agents may be people, information sources, or automated systems such as robots, software, and computing modules (see Figure V–5).

Figure V 5. Intelligent Digital Battlefield Architecture
Figure V-5. Intelligent Digital Battlefield Architecture.
Intelligent systems researchincludes activities per-tinent to the performance of hybrid systems, human intelligence augmentation, and low-level control. Hybrid system research will lead to robust design of advanced architecture for multiagent/distributed control.  Research involving representation and learning in the presence of uncertain or incomplete information (soft computer: neural networks, fuzzy logic, Bayesian decision theory, etc.) will provide tools for intelligence aug-mentation of human-centered decision systems.
Click on the image to view enlarged version

Military Potential

Intelligent systems must be capable of gathering relevant, available information about their environment, analyzing its significance in terms of assigned missions/functions, and defining the most appropriate course of action consistent with programmed decision logic. Achieving these objectives requires integration of significant scientific and technological advances in many diverse fields: electronics, physics, mathematics, materials science, biology, computer science, cognitive and neural sciences, control theory and mechanisms, and electrical and systems engineering. Critical areas of research being pursued include the design of multiagent systems, representation of hierarchical perception systems, advanced models for learning and adaptation, development of effective frameworks for representing and reasoning with uncertainty, and new computational paradigms for accommodating imprecision in human centered systems. The numerous potential military applications of intelligent systems include unmanned vehicles (air and ground), smart weapons, real–time C2 systems for future battlefields, and CB defense systems.

f. Compact Power Sources


Identify and exploit new concepts in portable power, especially in fueled systems, to increase the energy density and lower the cost of subkilowatt power sources.


The energy density of typical fuels exceeds that of batteries by 10–100 times. Lightweight energy converters, using air as the oxidizer, are the key to exploiting the high energy content of such fuels. Converter technologies under study include fuel cells, microturbines, thermophotovoltaic systems, and alkali metal thermal–to–electric converters.

Military Potential

Small, lightweight energy converters may be used in a variety of configurations. Hydrogen/air fuel cells can now be made small enough (50–watt fuel cell stack is a cube 6 centimeters (cm) on a side, see Figure V–6) to be put into battery cases and used as long–lived, refuelable, direct replacements for batteries. Microturbines hold the promise of providing up to 20 times the energy storage of a battery system of similar weight. Alternatively, for applications requiring air–independent operation, it may be desirable to use the small converters as lightweight, portable battery chargers. Many applications may be best supported with hybrid systems consisting of high discharge rate, low energy density, rechargeable batteries that can provide high peak powers and that are kept recharged by small (a few watts) fueled battery chargers running at low power on a nearly continuous basis. The hybrid systems should be able to provide the ease of distribution of battery power combined with the high energy density of fuels in long–lived systems with low life–cycle costs.

Figure V-6. Compact Power Sources
Figure V-6. Compact Power Sources

Strategic Research Objective Goals

In managing the Army’s basic research program, special attention is being given to these SROs to help ensure that their potential can be realized through subsequent technology and system development efforts. Identification of additional areas and objectives will be sought in continuing reviews of basic research activities. Representative specific research goals associated with the SROs described above are provided in Table V–6.

Table V–6.  Representative Specific Army Basic Research Goals
Associated with DoD Strategic Research Objectives


2010 Army XXI

2025 Army After Next


Characterize enzymatic breakdown of chemical threat agents at molecular level

Define role of biomolecular recognition based interactions in superstructure formation

Novel optical processing materials

Foundation for mimicking active site mechanism of catalysis

Predictive rules and methods for biomimetic hierarchical nanomaterials fabrication

Robust biomimetic catalytic system developed for chemical agent decontamination

Manipulation of macromolecular properties to achieve optimal performance

Novel process for ceramic composite manufacture


Efficient microwave radar

Broadband optical limiting

High bandwidth communication

Hybrid CB sensors

IR low observables

Terabit, teraflop computers

Rapid CB decontamination

Atom interferometer gyroscope

Quantum computing

Smart Structures

Demonstrate up to 60–decibel (dB) vibration reduction using shaped actuators and adaptive control algorithms

Achieve MEMS wireless communications in a rotorcraft flight structure

Demonstrate new impact energy absorbing active materials

Demonstrate a low–cost, self–tuning structural vibration damping treatment with integrated power sources and signal processing capability

Demonstrate addressable optical fiber sensor arrays to measure temperature and strain for damage detection in composite structures

Achieve high force/high displacement actuators fabricated from improved active materials

Demonstrate smart, conformal, load bearing multifunctional antenna structures for rotorcraft and land vehicles

Realize active material based rotor blade control for stealthy, long–range, and highly maneuverable rotorcraft

Achieve high precision controlled pointing and tracking techniques for accurate weapon systems for rotorcraft and land vehicles

Mobile Wireless Communications

Communicate OTM networks

Multimedia services over wireless networks

Aerial relay to maintain connectivity

High RF power efficient systems design

Conformal antennas for vehicles

Multifunction antennas for communications

Video for mobile wireless networks

Seamless, ubiquitous communications

Adaptive, self–organizing networks

Living internet

Smart antennas for portable transceivers

Extremely low probability of intercept signals

Personal communication devices

Intelligent Systems (IS)

Establish fundamental roles played by hierarchical organization, compositionality, and learning in IS design

Define/characterize simulated battlefield environments for testing IS methodologies

Demonstrate intelligence augmentation of human centered systems, with emphasis on cognitive issues

Establish a framework for integrating high and low level aspects of intelligent systems

Exploit framework in devising next–generation control algorithms and designing prototype systems (e.g., that have integrated vision/control systems)

Define/characterize integration of intelligent systems into larger network of systems (e.g., C3I)

Achieve new understanding of learning styles in the human brain relevant to the design of intelligent systems

Demonstrate useful performance characteristics of fully autonomous intelligent systems

Demonstrate advanced sensor/control capabilities of fully autonomous intelligent systems

Compact Power Sources

Demonstrate compact direct methanol fuel cells via low crossover membranes and methanol tolerant catalysts (performance = hydrogen)

Demonstrate liquid–fueled microturbine generator with efficient power electronics (u10 W/ cm3)

Demonstrate quiet liquid–fueled thermophotovoltaic power sources (250 W/kg)

Demonstrate 300–W compact fuel cell that operates on logistics fuels at moderate temperatures

Demo liquid–fueled microturbine generator with efficient power electronics (u100 W/ cm3)

Demo high efficiency (u25%) logistic fueled alkali metal thermal–electric converter (AMTEC) power system

Low–cost, highly reliable fielded power systems made possible by better materials design and improved manufacturing processes

Use biotechnology to produce useful quantities of fuel from renewable resources

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