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Air Force print news (March 11, 2005): science, technology help airmen fight the war on terror.

WASHINGTON -- Science and technology are helping airmen win the war on terror, a senior Air Force official told lawmakers on March 10.

"The United States Air Force is committed to defending America by unleashing the power of science and technology," said James B. Engle, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology and engineering.

Engle and witnesses from other defense agencies' technology directorates testified in a hearing on the fiscal 2006 budget request before the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats.

Rep. Marty Sheehan, the committee's ranking member, said he considers funding for science and technology programs the single most important portion of the defense budget. He said better weapons benefit everyone.

To continue providing those weapons, Air Force officials requested $1.98 billion in the fiscal 2006 budget for science and technology. This includes $1.4 billion in core science and technology efforts, and $77.8 million in joint unmanned combat air vehicle funding.

Sustained commitment to continued funding is critical to success of these emerging systems, Engle said. The technology America enjoys is a result of commitment by the United States to give the Air Force the things it needs.

"We must prepare for both traditional and new forms of terrorism (including) attack on our space assets, attacks on our information networks, cruise and ballistic missile attacks on our force and territory, and attacks by adversaries armed with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-explosive weapons," Engle said.

He explained how the products of Air Force science and technology defend America against terrorism at home and abroad. Some of the newest Air Force systems were on display in the building where the hearings were held.


The Battlefield Air Targeting Camera Autonomous Micro-Air Vehicle, or BATCAM, is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is five times smaller and 10 times lighter than the current model in the combat controller's kit.

A robot, called a Bombot, destroys improvised explosive devices. The small off-road remote controlled vehicle, equipped with a small explosive charge delivery system, is now deployed in Iraq.

Engle also described technology that supports the joint warfighter.

One emerging technology uses Air Force expertise in metal-infused ceramics to develop more effective lightweight armor. Although intended for aircraft, the technology is being applied to body protection and has proved effective against shrapnel and small-arms fire. The armor is cheaper, lighter, and easier to produce than standard plates, officials said.

Although the witnesses demonstrated similar innovative applications of technology, all said that capturing good ideas and turning them into deliverable systems posed a challenge.

Lawmakers also lamented the lag time in getting cutting-edge technological gear into the fight. Rep. John Kline said it is a recurring problem. He said small companies cannot get into the acquisition systems and that the system is way too slow.

Tech. Sgt. David A. Jablonski, USAF
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Title Annotation:In the News
Author:Jablonski, David A.
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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