This high-tech helmet looks like something torn from the inside of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, or maybe the gunner bay of the Millennium Falcon, but don’t be fooled: The U.S. Navy’s latest gadget could revolutionize the way American warships engage the enemy — and it’s coming to bridges sooner than you may think.
The U.S. Fleet Forces Command plans on testing the experimental new Unified Gunnery System augmented reality helmet, known as GunnAR, during the Navy’s annual Trident Warrior exercise in June, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, officials told Defense Systems.
The Navy has been experimenting with increasingly more complex heads-up displays for years, but the GunnAR represents a leap forward for Naval command-and-control architecture, feeding information directly from a vessel’s gunnery liaison officer and weapon system into a digestible, easy-to-analyze visual medium for a naval gunner engaging the enemy.
“The gunner’s mate has a problem when the shipboard environment is noisy or busy. There is a lot of confusion and a lot of noise when they are firing on targets,” Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality Lab director Heidi Buck told C4ISR.net in January. “The gunner’s mate hears the firing commands from someone, who is hearing them from the radio, and those commands are coming from the bridge. So it’s like playing telephone with guns firing and wind blowing.”
The concept, which first received in $100,000 in prototyping funds in March 2016 and will be tested aboard the USS Bunker Hill and USS Theodore Roosevelt during Trident Warrior, was dreamed up by Lt. Robert McClenning to solve exactly the problem Buck described. From Defense Systems:
McClenning, a training officer aboard the guided-missile destroyer (DDG 101) USS Gridley, said the way the information sharing and authorization to fire is currently done--via decades-old radios and sound-powered phones–is hard to hear the chatter over the din of machine guns and through the required ear protection.
His concept, GunnAR, is an AR overlay placed onto helmets manufactured by industry partner, DAQRI, an AR technology company based in Los Angeles, California. SSC Pacific and DAQRI have entered a collaborative research and development agreement to further explore and develop this technology, Navy officials said.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific first unveiled the GunnAR for Office of Naval Research officials and weapons industry representatives last December, and scientists recently showed off the GunnAR system at the 2017 WEST exposition in San Diego in February. But with testing by battle-hardened sailors and Marines under real-world circumstances during Trident Warrior in June, Buck guaranteed that the Navy would observe a “more mature capability” soon enough.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.