9 Things to Know about the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony

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By Billy Martin
Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal Public Affairs

In honor of the 48th Annual Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial Ceremony, hosted by Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal, here are nine things to know about the significance of this annual ceremony to honor our military’s fallen EOD technicians.

1) This year, the EOD community from each of the services will gather May 6 to honor the memory of 320 EOD heroes and add six additional EOD technicians to the EOD Memorial:

  • Gunner’s Mate Seaman Robert Paul Burr who was killed in action July 16, 1944, while serving in World War II
  • Army Tech. Sgt. James H. Eberle, who was killed in action Aug. 23, 1944, while serving in World War II
  • Ensign Charles Williams Grice, Sr., who was killed in action May 14, 1945, while serving in World War II
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Biddle Carrol Izard, Jr., who was killed in action June 19, 1968, while serving in Vietnam
  • Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Jason Christopher Finan, who was killed in action Oct. 20, 2016, while serving in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve
    WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2016) An undated file photo of Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan courtesy of his family. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
    WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2016) An undated file photo of Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan courtesy of his family. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

2) The ceremony is held at the EOD Memorial next to the Kauffman EOD Training Complex on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The Kauffman Training Complex is named after Rear Adm. Draper L. Kauffman (1911-1979) aka the “Father of U.S. Bomb Disposal”.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 4, 2013) Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Sailors Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen and Command Master Chief Eric Brower place a wreath in front of the Navy panel of the EOD Memorial during the 44th Annual EOD Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 4, 2013) Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Sailors Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen and Command Master Chief Eric Brower place a wreath in front of the Navy panel of the EOD Memorial during the 44th Annual EOD Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

3) During the ceremony, a wreath is placed in front of each service’s list of names before they are read aloud. After each list is completed, the names are saluted by an enlisted and officer EOD member. The families of EOD technicians added to the wall each year receive a folded flag that was flown over the memorial.

4) The EOD Memorial stands as an amazing monument to the honor, courage and commitment exemplified by EOD technicians from the services as they performed the EOD mission.

5) “We Remember” signifies the very essence and ethos of EOD technicians to never forget the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of our EOD brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

6) The first Saturday in May is remembered as “EOD Day” in honor of the memorial ceremony.

7) The first Saturday of every May represents a sacred time for the EOD community to reflect and remember the heroic actions of our fallen EOD warriors.

8) The EOD badge and its three levels (Basic, Senior and Master) became the standard for all services in the 1950s.

9) The badge remains the only badge in the military that is identical in each service. This unique distinction reflects the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal’s vital role as the schoolhouse for our military’s EOD warriors.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 5, 2012) Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen, right, and Command Master Chief Stacey McClain face the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial wall and prepare to unveil the addition of three shipmates' names during the EOD 43rd Annual Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (May 5, 2012) Lt. Cmdr. Rudy Schoen, right, and Command Master Chief Stacey McClain face the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial wall and prepare to unveil the addition of three shipmates’ names during the EOD 43rd Annual Memorial Service at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released)


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9 Things to Know about the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony

Busted, top 10 RPA myths debunked

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by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing

Drones. The once harmless term has taken on new meaning in recent years largely due to misinformation, Hollywood dramatizations and their growing uses in non-military settings. For the men and women of the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise who provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to combatant commanders around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, dispelling myths associated with their mission is now a top priority.

1. Myth: Drones and RPAs are the same.

Fact: In today’s mainstream media drones often refers to both small aerial capable vehicles with photo or video capabilities and, incorrectly, to U.S. Air Force RPAs. In the U.S. Air Force inventory a remotely piloted aircraft requires aircrews to operate but don’t have the capability to carry crews on board. Also in the USAF inventory, RPAs such as the Global Hawk are used to provide ISR data by recording imagery and are often incorrectly labeled as “drones.” (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: In today’s mainstream media drones often refers to both small aerial capable vehicles with photo or video capabilities and, incorrectly, to U.S. Air Force RPAs. In the U.S. Air Force inventory a remotely piloted aircraft requires aircrews to operate but don’t have the capability to carry crews on board. Also in the USAF inventory, RPAs such as the Global Hawk are used to provide ISR data by recording imagery and are often incorrectly labeled as “drones.” (U.S. Air Force illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

2. Myth: RPAs fly themselves.

 Fact: RPAs are flown by a pilot, with the assistance of a sensor operator for the entire duration of the flight. Additionally, for every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities. This includes pilot, sensor operator, mission intelligence personnel; aircraft and communications maintainers; launch and recovery element personnel; and intelligence personnel conducting production, exploitation, and dissemination operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Adawn Kelsey)
Fact: RPAs are flown by a pilot, with the assistance of a sensor operator for the entire duration of the flight. Additionally, for every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities. This includes pilot, sensor operator, mission intelligence personnel; aircraft and communications maintainers; launch and recovery element personnel; and intelligence personnel conducting production, exploitation, and dissemination operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Adawn Kelsey)

3. Myth: Military RPAs are used to spy on U.S. civilians.

Fact: The Air Force only flies RPAs in the United States for training purposes. The only exception is with the appropriate level of coordination and approval RPAs can be used to support the aerial imagery needs of civil authorities in rare and urgent cases where local, state, or federal officials cannot use nonmilitary means of support. This level approval usually resides with the Secretary of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
Fact: The Air Force only flies RPAs in the United States for training purposes. The only exception is with the appropriate level of coordination and approval RPAs can be used to support the aerial imagery needs of civil authorities in rare and urgent cases where local, state, or federal officials cannot use nonmilitary means of support. This level approval usually resides with the Secretary of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Additionally, the following guidelines structure how training flights work:
– Training is normally conducted in airspace over and near federal installations and unpopulated training ranges that have been set aside for that purpose.
– Information gathered during training missions that is relayed to ground stations is seldom retained after training operations.
– Any information retained after training missions is deleted shortly afterwards in accordance with regulations (typically no more than 90 days).
– During training missions, pilots and sensor operators are not applying or receiving the analytical support necessary to allow them to use imagery to identify individuals beyond gender and approximate age.

4. Myth: RPAs strike randomly.

 Fact: The vast majority of the time, the Air Force’s RPA fleet is used for ISR, not for strike activity. They are governed by the same procedures as other aircraft capable of employing weapons. RPAs are not ‘unmanned,’ and do not act autonomously to drop a weapon or choose a target. Human beings are an integral part of the system and will continue to be the decision makers. RPA pilots are not bound by a set timeline to strike a target; they spend days, weeks, and sometimes months observing the patterns-of-life of a subject and provide that information to the network of tactical personnel, intelligence members, databases and decision makers before any action is pursued. They are connected to a huge network of intelligence from multiple sources – including platforms, sensors, people and databases – to national decision makers, combatant commanders, and tactical level personnel. (Courtesy photo)
Fact: The vast majority of the time, the Air Force’s RPA fleet is used for ISR, not for strike activity. They are governed by the same procedures as other aircraft capable of employing weapons. RPAs are not ‘unmanned,’ and do not act autonomously to drop a weapon or choose a target. Human beings are an integral part of the system and will continue to be the decision makers. RPA pilots are not bound by a set timeline to strike a target; they spend days, weeks, and sometimes months observing the patterns-of-life of a subject and provide that information to the network of tactical personnel, intelligence members, databases and decision makers before any action is pursued. They are connected to a huge network of intelligence from multiple sources – including platforms, sensors, people and databases – to national decision makers, combatant commanders, and tactical level personnel. (Courtesy photo)

5. Myth: RPAs are made from alien technology and are flown from area 51.

Fact: The U.S. Air Force actually has a long history of unmanned flight and we are still learning new and better ways to fly.  We will continue to improve our methods of training, conducting operations and employing new weapon systems. The development and integration of unmanned aircraft represent a continuation of this trend and has been around since the early 1900s. The primary installations where RPAs are based and flown are Beale AFB, CA; Holloman AFB, NM; Creech AFB, NV; and Grand Forks AFB, ND.  There are additional Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard installations that are part of the distributed ground stations that support RPA flights and data analysis.(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: The U.S. Air Force actually has a long history of unmanned flight and we are still learning new and better ways to fly. We will continue to improve our methods of training, conducting operations and employing new weapon systems. The development and integration of unmanned aircraft represent a continuation of this trend and has been around since the early 1900s. The primary installations where RPAs are based and flown are Beale AFB, CA; Holloman AFB, NM; Creech AFB, NV; and Grand Forks AFB, ND. There are additional Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard installations that are part of the distributed ground stations that support RPA flights and data analysis.(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

6. Myth: RPAs are unmanned and require less manpower to operate.

Fact: In order to support ISR missions around the world, every RPA CAP requires the dedication of nearly 200 Airmen in various capacities to maintain 24/7, 365 day vigilance. The pilot, with the help of the sensor operator, flies the RPA for the entire duration of the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: In order to support ISR missions around the world, every RPA CAP requires the dedication of nearly 200 Airmen in various capacities to maintain 24/7, 365 day vigilance. The pilot, with the help of the sensor operator, flies the RPA for the entire duration of the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

7. Myth: RPA pilots are just “gamers.”

 Fact: Our Airmen are trained to be the best pilots in the world, regardless of aircraft. Our fully qualified aircrews consistently exceed expectations for both flight safety and operational effectiveness. Like pilots in manned aircraft RPA pilots are required to meet the same qualifications. New RPA pilots undergo a very intense training program before they fly operational missions. This training curriculum lasts approximately one year, and many current Air Force RPA pilots and trainers have already completed undergraduate pilot training in manned aircraft as well. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young)
Fact: Our Airmen are trained to be the best pilots in the world, regardless of aircraft. Our fully qualified aircrews consistently exceed expectations for both flight safety and operational effectiveness. Like pilots in manned aircraft RPA pilots are required to meet the same qualifications. New RPA pilots undergo a very intense training program before they fly operational missions. This training curriculum lasts approximately one year, and many current Air Force RPA pilots and trainers have already completed undergraduate pilot training in manned aircraft as well. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young)

8. Myth: Everyone in the RPA community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 Fact: According to a 2014 paper from the United Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, studies have shown that 4.3 percent of Air Force RPA operators report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is lower than the 4 to 18% of PTSD reported among those returning from the battlefield and lower than the projected lifetime risk of PTSD for Americans (8.7%, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition, Creech Air Force Base established a Human Performance Team in 2011 comprised of an operational psychologist, an operational and aerospace physiologist, three flight surgeons and two Religious Support Teams to aid Airmen in dealing with stressors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: According to a 2014 paper from the United Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, studies have shown that 4.3 percent of Air Force RPA operators report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is lower than the 4 to 18% of PTSD reported among those returning from the battlefield and lower than the projected lifetime risk of PTSD for Americans (8.7%, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition, Creech Air Force Base established a Human Performance Team in 2011 comprised of an operational psychologist, an operational and aerospace physiologist, three flight surgeons and two Religious Support Teams to aid Airmen in dealing with stressors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

9. Myth: RPA aircrews are not compassionate to the missions they perform.

Fact: Airmen performing RPA operations receive moral, ethical, psychological and physiological training to build readiness that is sustainable over time. The Air Force will continue to support combatant commanders with RPA missions while also focusing on initiatives that reduce stress on personnel and remain committed to providing the best care possible for every Airman, regardless of the career field with which they are associated.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: Airmen performing RPA operations receive moral, ethical, psychological and physiological training to build readiness that is sustainable over time. The Air Force will continue to support combatant commanders with RPA missions while also focusing on initiatives that reduce stress on personnel and remain committed to providing the best care possible for every Airman, regardless of the career field with which they are associated.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

10. Myth: RPAs will replace manned aircraft

 Fact: According to Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III, “the Air Force needs a number of platforms.” He continued by saying this includes manned and unmanned assets to accomplish sustainable air supremacy. “Air superiority is a mission. It's not a platform, it's a mission. So ideally, you'd have both tools available to you." (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)
Fact: According to Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III, “the Air Force needs a number of platforms.” He continued by saying this includes manned and unmanned assets to accomplish sustainable air supremacy. “Air superiority is a mission. It’s not a platform, it’s a mission. So ideally, you’d have both tools available to you.” (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

Despite the misconceptions surrounding the RPA enterprise Air Force leadership remain optimistic on the future capabilities RPAs can provide.

“What our RPA professionals are doing in today’s fight and in preparing for future conflicts is simply incredible. RPAs and their operators are in the highest demand from our combatant commanders because of the situational awareness and strike capabilities that they enable. Despite being some of the newest weapon systems in the Air Force inventory, RPAs fulfill critical demands in every theater 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command commander.

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Busted, top 10 RPA myths debunked

Special Tactics Airmen march to honor fallen brothers in arms

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151004-F-GV347-021By 1st Lt. Katrina Cheesman, 24th Special Operations Wing

After more than 800 miles on the road, 20 Special Tactics Airmen finished their journey to honor fallen teammates, crossing through the gate here with families of those Special Tactics Airmen killed in combat.

The march was held specifically for Capt. Matthew Roland, special tactics officer, and Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley, combat controller, who were killed in action, Aug. 26, 2015, Afghanistan.

“These men walked 812 miles, demonstrating to the vast majority of the southern part of America what our country values,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. “And that’s people who are willing to make sacrifices.”

Special Tactics Airmen honor fallen with memorial marchThe marchers walked day and night through five states to honor the fallen special operators who gave their lives in service to their country, relaying the 812 miles in two-man teams.
Special Tactics Airmen honor fallen with memorial marchAcross the southern part of America, communities and individuals took time to cheer on the marchers, and honored the fallen with salutes and hands over hearts. Some community members even prepared home-cooked meals for the Special Tactics Airmen, who would walk a total of 90 miles with a 50-pound assault pack on their back, and a memorial baton in their hand.

While the marchers blew through anticipated timelines by completing their 12.6 mile-legs in three hours instead of the expected four, this consistent speed didn’t come without its costs. Throughout the ten-day period, they experienced large blisters, muscle tears, heat exhaustion and dehydration. One Special Tactics Airmen completed his 90-plus miles with three broken ribs.
“We are pretty tired and beat down, but it’s about telling the story of the guys who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said a Special Tactics combat controller about the march. “That’s why we do this: to remember the brothers we lost and show support to the families.”

Special Tactics Airmen honor fallen with memorial marchFor many of the Gold Star families and Special Tactics Airmen, it was a reunion. The ST Airmen had carried memorial batons engraved with the names of the fallen hallway across the country to walk alongside the families who lost their loved ones. This was not the first time they had done this; most of the families had attended all four of the memorial marches, which first occurred in 2009.

“Who’s got Argel?” one family member shouted into the chaotic crowd of hugging people, searching for the person holding their son’s baton. Eventually, the batons and their safekeepers found their way to the right family. Then the Airmen, who had so diligently carried it over 800 miles, handed it over to the family and walked the last mile with them.

At the end of the final mile, the Airmen took part in a small ceremony. The batons were solemnly saluted and returned, one by one, to a waiting Special Tactics Airmen, as the names of the 19 teammates were called.

The batons will be returned to their display case in memory of the fallen, and will only be removed for a memorial march if another Special Tactics Airmen is killed in action.
Then, as tradition in the Special Tactics community, all Airmen formed up to complete memorial pushups, honoring teamwork, fallen comrades, and Roland and Sibley.

“The fallen’s legacy will never die because we will continue to honor their sacrifices and perpetuate their excellence,” said Col. Wolfe Davidson, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, of the 19 Special Tactics Airmen killed in action since 9/11. “We aren’t ever going to quit talking about them. We will walk across this country to say, ‘we will never forget you.’”

For more coverage, visit the AFSOC Blog here: http://bit.ly/1OGniGs.

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Special Tactics Airmen march to honor fallen brothers in arms

Infographic: Global Strike

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By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Social Media

The Air Force leverages its global strike capabilities to project military power with a lighter footprint than other military option. Our aircraft and combat Airmen possess unique abilities that are critical to achieving tactical, operational and strategic effects during combat operations. The infographic below highlights how different Air Force assets are used to accomplish our mission of providing global strike capabilities to combatant commanders on “Any target, any time!”

gs-info

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Infographic: Global Strike

Worth A Thousand Words: Machine Gun Marine

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Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kenneth Benton, a technical controller assigned to Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, mans a machine gun in a turret during a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 25, 2013. The Marines were on a mission to deliver equipment and supplies to Marines at forward operating bases near Camp Leatherneck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Released)U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kenneth Benton, a technical controller assigned to Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, mans a machine gun in a turret during a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 25, 2013. The Marines were on a mission to deliver equipment and supplies to Marines at forward operating bases near Camp Leatherneck. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Released)

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Worth A Thousand Words: Machine Gun Marine

Diving with Sharks

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Shark-Panel-croppedIn honor of Shark Week, we’ve compiled some interesting facts about the Defense Department’s ties to sharks.

Fact #2:

Navy divers spend some of their time getting into SHARK tanks in aquariums around the country…on purpose! The Navy’s community relations efforts send sailors out into communities that don’t have a large Navy presence so that those communities can understand what their country’s sea service can and does do every day. This type of public engagement – including diving into shark tanks at your local aquarium – is crucial to engendering trust and confidence with our fellow Americans in their all volunteer force.

Want to know more about Navy divers? Here is their job description from the Navy:

As a Navy Diver, you will be part of an extraordinary brotherhood. You will journey anywhere from the darkest depths of the world’s oceans to freezing arctic-like conditions underneath icebergs. Accomplishing a number of tasks only few can perform. All with the focus to achieve.

In this role you can expect to:

  • Perform a variety of diving salvage operations and special diving duties worldwide
  • Take part in construction and demolition projects
  • Execute search and rescue missions
  • Support military and civilian law enforcement agencies
  • Serve as the technical experts for diving evolutions for numerous military Special Operations units
  • Provide security, communications and other logistics during Expeditionary Warfare missions
  • Carry out routine ship maintenance, including restoration and repair

Your strength and determination will prove you are anything but a typical diver.

Editor’s Note: “Dive in shark tanks” has been submitted as a revision to this job description via the U.S. Navy.

Have you seen a Navy diver in a tank near you? Share your story in the comments section below!

Today’s photos all come to us with the same caption:
Navy Master Chief Diver Joe Howard answers questions from the crowd while “swimming” with the sharks at the Newport, Ky., Aquarium, Sept. 1, 2011, during Cincinnati Navy Week 2011.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Davis Anderson/Released)

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Diving with Sharks

Locks of Love

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A few years ago, a college friend of mine had mentioned that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love. I had never heard of it before, so I decided to look it up. Basically, the organization takes donated hair and turns it into wigs for needy children who have lost their own hair. Excellent idea!

Now, it does take quite a long time for hair to grow long. So, donating all of your hair to the organization is most certainly a good cause. One particular Army Captain is doing just that.

It takes years for hair to grow long, but only a few seconds to remove it. Army Sergeant Rebecca Schwab tells us about one Army Captain who’s giving it all up for a good cause.

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Locks of Love

Top Tech: Transparent Spinel Ceramic

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Top Technology is an Armed with Science series that highlights the latest and greatest federal laboratory inventions which are available for transfer to business partners. Want to suggest an invention? Email us at science@dma.mil

Transparent Spinel Ceramic in action.  (photo provided by the Naval Research Laboratory)

Transparent Spinel Ceramic in action. (photo provided by the Naval Research Laboratory)

Technology: Transparent Spinel Ceramic

Agency: Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a suite of processes to create transparent spinel ceramic, which is superior to the glass, sapphire, and other materials traditionally used for applications such as high-energy lasers, windows, and lightweight armor.

What is it?

It’s a new kind of material using a unique new process.

Commonly-used vacuum hot presses are utilized to sinter spinel powder into transparent solid materials. Sintering is a method used to create objects from powders.  The NRL method includes a novel spray-coating process to uniformly coat the spinel powder particles with a sintering aid. As a result, the amount of sintering aid required is reduced significantly, while still allowing the end product to be sintered to full density and transparency.

Additionally, the sintering process was modified to completely eliminate residual LiF through evaporation and thereby avoids unwanted chemical reactions.

What does that mean?

It means that the Naval Research Lab has created a process that reinvents the material of the wheel, so to speak.  Creating transparent materials is nothing new; humans were doing that in the ancient world. However, the type of material this is – and the way the military could use it – is really what sets it apart.  This kind of transparent spinel ceramic could be used to produce consumer electronics, high energy lasers, event transparent armor.

Think about that for a second.  Transparent armor.  If you could get it to change color and restore stamina we’re that much closer to a video-game like armor reality.

What does it do?

Let’s break it down to the basics.  NRL’s transparent spinel ceramic can be used to make the work of the service member a little easier, more effective, or lightweight.  Some of the applications involve new awesome window choices (the stronger and more durable the better, especially on deployment) and of course the awesome aforementioned armor.  The transparent spinel ceramic can also be paired with its patented BGG glass material.   Why would you want to do that, you ask?  Well, the pairing offers excellent optical transmission in the visible and mid-infrared wavelength range.  The low cost, ease of use, and production offered by glass provides additional advantages.

How can this help?

Okay, so let’s talk about the advantages.  The transparent spinel ceramic provides excellent transmission in visible wavelengths and mid-wavelength infrared (0.2-5.0 microns).  This is superior to sapphire.  The material is also versatile; able to process scalability to large sizes and complex shapes.  It is strong, rigid, and environmentally durable.  Not to mention cost effective.  The reduced manufacturing cost over existing technologies is a definite plus.  Also it’s easy to make in general.  High reproducibility, high yield.

My take?

Creating better, more effective materials is the name of the game when it comes to innovation.  We’ve come a long way since the ancient Romans made clear glass trendy and popular (thanks to manganese dioxide, of course).  This is another step in that progressive bigger-and-better evolution.  When it comes down to it, any advent that allows soldiers to be safer/more protected and is cost effective is going to have some serious advantages.

The military has often been at the forefront of technological innovation, constantly seeking affordable, long-lasting solutions to problems that impact not only service members, but humanity in general.  Imagine what could happen if we started using this kind of material on our typical glass products?  I think my cat will have a harder time with her cat gravity experiments (see: breaking stuff) if that’s the case.

It looks like plastic may have a real run for its money.  Is transparent spinel ceramic going to be the next big thing?  I guess that’s up to you.

Want to learn more?  Click here for more information on this technology!

Are you interested more federal inventions? The Naval Research Laboratory has a broad portfolio of technologies that are available for commercialization. Visit their official website to learn more!

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Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science.  She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.

Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Top Tech: Transparent Spinel Ceramic