The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) research and development organization, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), is developing technologies that are making the world safer and better, today and tomorrow. From protective technologies that save our Soldiers’ lives to innovative technologies that save our environment to products that save our energy, ERDC impacts our military, our public projects, and our way of life.
ERDC is composed of seven laboratories in four states and nearly 2,500 research engineers, scientists, and support staff. ERDC projects touch all seven continents and the Arctic, with sites in more than 130 countries and all 50 states. ERDC’s presence is diverse and worldwide.
“Our research is solving some of the toughest challenges faced by our nation and military forces today,” said Dr. Jeffery Holland, ERDC director. “Our internationally recognized experts are dedicated to serving Soldiers and the American public through advanced science, technology development, testing, and fielding. In addition to our research capability, the combined knowledge and experience of our people makes us an unmatched national resource for technical assistance.”
Force Protection – Saving Lives
The remoteness of some U.S. outposts and bases across the globe makes building standard overhead cover challenging for warfighters. Heavy equipment or contract support may be unavailable. ERDC’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory developed the Modular Protective System Overhead-Cover (MPS-OHC) to protect against mortars and rockets. The MPS-OHC is a modular system that allows configuration flexibility to fit over a wide variety of critical assets/equipment. Assembly requires no heavy equipment or special tools. Protection is provided by a multilayered armor panel system under a lightweight sacrificial triggering layer. The MPS-OHC’s performance was evaluated through a series of full-scale explosive tests that simulated weapons and threats.
ERDC, with industry partner Berry Plastics Corporation, developed a blast-resistant adhesive tape, X-FLEX™, that applies like wallpaper and catches and holds wall fragments during an explosion to protect Soldiers. The tape is a polymer composite laced with reinforcing fibers. Fasteners are used at the top and bottom to make sure the tape remains in place during an explosion. X-FLEX is applied to the interior face of outside walls. Two people can cover a 10- by 10-foot wall in minutes. Another future potential application is to strengthen interior walls for structures located in high seismic zones.
Environmental Awareness for Sensor Employment
Many Army missions rely heavily on the wide variety of useful information remote sensors provide. These sensors use a wide spectrum of signal modalities: visible, infrared, acoustic, seismic, radio-frequency, chemical, biological, etc. ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory is bringing these diverse bits of data into a context that commanders can easily use in a product called Environmental Awareness for Sensor and Emitter Employment – EASEE. An object-oriented software framework, EASEE grabs common characteristics of battlefield problems involving multimodal signal transmission and sensing into reusable units of software code in the Java programming language.
EASEE contributions improve many military areas. EASEE is being extended to incorporate detection probabilities for moving platforms and to dynamically optimize use of such sensing assets as unmanned aerial vehicles. Upgraded optical/infrared models are also being added. An “uncertainty sampling layer” is being developed that evaluates the impacts of uncertainties in the weather and terrain on accuracy of the predictions. The EASEE OSPTool will be used to plan sensor layouts to protect combat outposts inhabited by 300 or fewer Soldiers. EASEE is being used by other military units to optimize sensor use in a wide variety of scenarios.