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DoD Continues Investment In WMD Sensors

The 2010 defense budget just signed last month includes further funding for Platypus Technologies to continue their research and development of a sensor for chemical and biological weapons based on liquid crystals. The value of this contract which lasts one year is about $2 million. Platypus is one of the leading innovators in the use of this LCD technology for uses such as this. The goal is to have a hand held sensor that changes color or intensity based on what it detects.

Since Desert Storm in 1991 the U.S. military has been working hard to develop systems that detect chemical and other Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from a distance and more safely then the traditional swipe systems used for most of the last century. They have built ones based on lasers that can be vehicle mounted. This idea would work in the open air. Platypus needs to build a system that controls for variables like temperature and humidity while being able to detect trace amounts of gases and biological matter. This is what this research is focusing on. The company had previously received funding through the Defense Department’s Small Innovative Business Research (SBIR) program.

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Future Combat Systems (FCS) technology acceleration good to Arizona

This article describes the economic effect of the Army decision to begin pushing components of the multi-system Future Combat System (FCS) out-the-door faster. Due to this decision several hundred million dollars are flowing to Arizona companies earlier then originally planned by the Army. The two systems with the most effect are the non-line of sight missile system that uses a box launcher with integrated fire control and several unmanned systems. The Army benefits two ways by this type of decision; first, they get needed technology upgrades into the field earlier; and secondly they get testing under real world conditions.

Picture by Derek Farr

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Air Force invests in developing nanotechnology

The Air Force awarded Nanocomp a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract to look at using carbon nano-tubes to replace copper wiring for aviation applications. See the press release. As previously discussed in this post, the Services use things like SBIR to do basic research in interesting technology that might have future benefits. Nanotechnology obviously is an area that the military may see a lot of good things from. The goal here is to reduce the total weight of the wiring harnesses in Air Force systems.

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