US and UK join forces over RFID battlefield deployments

The Ministry of Defence and the US Army Research Laboratory have selected an IBM-led consortium to undertake a $136m (£72m) research programme into the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) and other wireless sensor platforms in the battlefield.

The Ministry of Defence and the US Army Research Laboratory have selected an IBM-led consortium to undertake a $136m (£72m) research programme into the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) and other wireless sensor platforms in the battlefield.

The two forces have signed a contract with the newly formed International Technology Alliance (ITA) in Network and Information Sciences, to undertake a research programme to support future coalition operations over a potential 10-year period, in a deal worth up to $136m.

The alliance said successful future military operations will depend on the capability of coalition forces to quickly gather, interpret and share battlefield information to coordinate actions, so the research will help enable interoperability and communications across disparate military units.

Paul Horn, senior vice-president of IBM Research, said, “The ITA programme is designed to break down the barriers between different technical areas and define synergistic projects that promote cooperation across international and organisational boundaries.”

The ITA covers four interconnected areas of research: network theory, security across a system of systems, sensor information processing and delivery, and distributed coalition planning and decision making.

The alliance consists of 25 partners, including IBM, BBN Technologies, Boeing, Honeywell, LogicaCMG and Roke Manor Research.

From academia, partners include Carnegie Mellon University in the US and Cambridge University.

The US Army Research Laboratory and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory are also participants.

“This alliance allows us to focus on innovation and insights from the best in our industry and university communities on both sides of the Atlantic on the scientific enablers of net-centric warfare,” said Thomas Killion, US Army chief scientist.

“It will build a base of shared fundamental knowledge that will help to facilitate future coalition operations. It is really as much about partnering with our closest ally as it is about addressing critical research challenges in network and information sciences that will enable us to foster next-generation tactical mobile networks,” said Killion.

Roy Anderson, the MoD's chief scientific adviser, said the deal would “help to break down barriers to co-operation in UK-US defence technology sharing”.

Separate contracts will be awarded to alliance participants for any technology platforms actually deployed in the field.


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