It’s 2020. A US soldier sits down with a village sheikh, with an unusual robot in tow. The sheikh greets him courteously, respectfully, in flowing Arabic. At the appropriate time, the robot offers the same speech in English. The soldier nods, speaks, and gives a command, whereupon the robot offers dependable translation that’s even customized to the local dialect. Offshore, an intelligence analyst sorts through a combination of intercepted emails, recorded cell phone conversations, and document archives, looking for patterns and connections. She’s not fluent in Arabic, but the same technology used by the soldier is providing usable translations for her searches – asking her questions as needed, and helped by embedded clarifications and tags.
Thanks to a 2003 DARPA program, The world got to know Siri, the show-stealing component of Apple’s iPhone 4S. DARPA’s 2011 BOLT program aims to take the next step, from a silicon intermediary between man and machine to an intermediary between people. Even as it also provides a powerful back-end translation system for traditional intelligence tasks. It’s one of a family of ongoing translation research efforts, all aiming to solve a persistent and expensive problem for the US military.
United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT recently received a $16.6 million firm-fixed-price order to repair 13 line items used on the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare fighter’s J-52/JT-8A turbojet engines. The J-52 was picked to power the A-6 Intruder in 1958, and its most recent variant is the J-52 P-408, with 11,200 pounds of thrust. Keeping them in service is an important part of the keeping the twin-engine, 4-seat EA-6B Prowler fleet in service, until the EA-18G Growlers can replace them over the next several years. Under this particular order, Pratt & Whitney will also provide manufacturing, engineering, and technical support to the US Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, Jacksonville, FL, with a goal of improving monthly output.
Pratt & Whitney, as the original manufacturer, was the only offeror solicited for this particular sole-source requirement and the sole offeror responding. US NAVSUP also has issued a number of solicitations lately to refurbish components like turbine blades, and combustion chamber case assemblies. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete by July 31/13. The FY 2012/2013 Navy Working Capital Funds, will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Navy NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (N00383-07-G-003M, #0004).