WASHINGTON: Since 9/11, the armed services have made great strides in applying information technology to warfare — but their implementation to date has relied on costly, manpower-intensive “brute force,” said the Navy’s director for “information dominance,” Rear Adm. William Leigher. As budgets tighten, he said, the services will have no choice but to operate more efficiently and, above all, more cooperatively with one another.

“This is going to force us to take a different approach with jointness,” Leigher told the audience at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) luncheon yesterday. Under the growing fiscal pressure, he said, consolidation of separate networks to a single “joint information environment [JIE] becomes more possible in this downturn … than it might have been.” Keep reading →

Imagine Iran, for whatever reason, is threatening the Fifth Fleet, pledging to use its patented swarming boats to whup us.

Well, the Army has spent almost $2 billion developing a capability that can track and provide “target-quality data” to protect the Navy from swarming Iranian attackers. It can also track and help kill cruise missiles. But the service seems reluctant to spend some of the remaining money in the budget to actually use it. Keep reading →

The past decade has seen an unlikely revival of a long-grounded technology. Military airships, last operational with the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, took back to the skies, propelled by soaring demand for long-endurance, low-cost aerial surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Per flight hour, an airship costs a fraction of what a helicopter or a fixed-wing plane costs.

But three of the most prominent new-breed airship programs came crashing back to earth in early 2012. A massive, in-development Air Force spy blimp, a Navy test blimp and an Army tethered airship that’s part of an evolving missile-defense network — all were canceled or curtailed. It might have seemed that the promise of a new generation of military blimps was, well, so much hot air. Keep reading →