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22 Dec 16. X-Engine Offers Compact UAV Power. Military and other operators prefer using kerosene, rather than gasoline, across ground and air platforms, but lightweight, reliable heavy-fuel engines for unmanned aircraft systems have proved challenging to develop. LiquidPiston, a startup developing a novel power-plant that is smaller and lighter than piston diesel engines and more efficient than gasoline engines, has been boosted by winning Sikorsky’s Entrepreneurial Challenge. Developing multi-fuel rotary combustion engines based on its high-efficiency hybrid thermodynamic cycle (HEHC), the Bloomfield, Connecticut-based company has won $25,000 and the opportunity to explore applications for its X-engine on Sikorsky products. (Source: UAS VISION/RealClear Defense)
21 Dec 16. DoD Crowdsourcing Effort Produces Innovative Operational Approaches. A crowdsourcing effort launched last month to inspire creative thinking inside and outside the Defense Department on key operational challenges has produced two primary submissions and several others that will be presented for consideration directly to top officials in the department.
The Operational Challenges Crowdsourcing Initiative was developed by Mara E. Karlin, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, and chaired by Karlin, Steve Welby, assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, and Army Brig. Gen. Randy George, deputy director for regional operations and force management on the Joint Staff.
“We knew that there was a lot of creativity and experience out there amongst operators, academics, technologists, researchers and others that wasn’t being drawn upon because there’s not really a mechanism for [getting] their ideas directly to senior leaders inside the Pentagon,” Karlin said.
The project was intended to provide that access, she added, to take the best ideas, wherever they came from, and connect the ideas to leaders who are in a position to effect change.
“We launched the initiative to try to inspire creative thinking inside and outside the department on some key operational challenges that face the U.S. military, and to try to contribute to the department’s ongoing third-offset efforts,” she explained.
Karlin said the initiative got nearly 100 submissions across five operational challenges the department is focused on to seek innovative approaches.
“We pulled these together based on our thinking about the challenges the U.S. military will face as we look to future conflicts — the things that worry us — and we posed five questions,” she said.
The questions were as follows:
1. How can the U.S. military more effectively and efficiently project power in the face of massed or mobile precision attacks — for example, cruise and ballistic missile salvos and swarming?
2. Given current U.S. global military posture and potential changes in the character of war, how must future U.S. operational battle networks change to accomplish counter-power projection operations in contested theaters against large state adversaries?
3. How must joint force operational and organizational constructs change to allow combat operations involving multi-domain battle against adversaries with battle network/guided munitions parity?
4. How must joint force operational and organizational constructs change as adversaries exploit crowdsourced information and commercially available intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies such as drones and commercial space systems?
5. How can the U.S. military ensure that the speed of its decision-making continues to keep pace with the accelerating speed of action on the battlefield due to automation, artificial intelligence, hypersonics, cyber weapons and other factors?
Changes in Posture
Submissions came from across the department and fr