TMI! That’s what US military commanders are saying about the explosion of data being collected and processed (or not) by thousands of UAVs. Because UAVs provide valuable information, the US military has been asking for more and more of them to be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.
All that information needs to be processed so that it is useful for the commanders in the field. Software that can archive and retrieve information when needed and display it on a user-friendly interface is available in the commercial sphere. But the technology is not being developed and deployed fast enough in the military sphere.
As Lt. Gen. Deptula, USAF deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, said recently, “We are going to find ourselves in the not too distant future swimming in sensors and drowning in data.” This free-to-view DID Spotlight article examines the problem of the UAV data explosion, some possible solutions, and future challenges.
Airtronic USA, Inc. in Elk Grove Village, IL recently announced a 5-year, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract from US Army TACOM Rock Island Arsenal, IL. The firm will produce up to 50,000 M203 and M203A2 40mm Grenade Launchers. The contract’s initial $4.55 million order is for 5,266 weapons, which implies that the total order could be worth around $43 million, if all options are exercised (W52H09-10-D-0173).
The front-loading M203 fits under the US military’s rifles, allowing troops to fire a single 40mm grenade, while keeping their rifle ready to fire in normal mode. This is in contrast to single shot “bullet trap” systems like the SIMON/GREM door breaching grenade, which are designed to fit over the barrel of the rifle – or to multiple-round, dedicated 40mm grenade launchers like the US military’s MSGL. Airtronic has been manufacturing the M203 family of 40mm Grenade Launchers (M203s, M203A1s, and M203A2s) since 2006, and says that it has delivered 24,700 launchers without a single field failure. Even so, the M203 is facing serious competition for service within the US military.