As the Arctic heats up, military targets cold-weather tech

Army paratroopers in Artic

Army paratroopers train earlier this year in Deadhorse, Alaska.

Melting Arctic ice is opening up that region as a military domain, with Russia and China increasing their presence in the Far North and the United States making plans to counter that presence.

But melting ice doesn’t mean it’s exactly warm up there, and the U.S. military, anticipating deployments to the Artic, are looking for technologies that will work in extreme cold—down to 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

The Rapid Reaction Technology Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense has issued a Request for Information under its Thunderstorm Spiral 16-2 for technologies to take part in the planned Multi-Service Demonstration for Arctic Challenges project. The office’s Thunderstorm Technology Demonstration is an interagency effort to provide realistic environments for demonstrating new technologies, with Spiral 16-2 specifically focused on the Artic.

The RFI lists several key areas the Rapid Reaction office is interested it, although it notes that responses need not be limited to those areas. It also noted that not all technologies involved have to be persistently resistant to extreme cold, but they will need to be hardened for operating in severe weather. The specific areas mentioned in the RFI:

     • Persistent command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR) capable of supporting domain awareness and information sharing in the Arctic.

     • Low signature (acoustic, thermal, visual) small unit mobility platforms capable of prolonged operations in Arctic conditions (at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit) with a minimum of maintenance and logistics support.

     • Technologies that would enhance the capability to conduct non-compliant visit, boarding, search and seizure operations in Arctic waters.

     • Expeditionary mobile power and energy supplies capable of prolonged operations at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with a minimum of maintenance and logistics support.

     • Capabilities that provide or enhance surface and airborne navigation in the Arctic.

    • Sensors providing surface penetration and Arctic mapping.

The Thunderstorm Spiral 16-2 field demonstrations will take place Feb. 1-12, 2016, in and around Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in conjunction with the Army Pacific Arctic Equipment Symposium. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 2.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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