Hawai`i military tech funds advance

Hawai`i technology projects were allocated over $16 million in funding in next year’s national defense budget in an appropriations bill passed today in Washington, D.C. Among the projects approved by the U.S. House are continued research for the Navy’s controversial Low Frequency Active Sonar project and the installation of specialized brushes on submarines based in Pearl Harbor.

The 2004 Defense Appropriations Act (HR2658) included provisions for four Hawai`i projects, which were championed by Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

“These projects will nurture Hawaii’s emerging high tech sector,” Abercrombie said. “They will also have a downstream impact by expanding future opportunities for our young people to participate in the 21st century economy.”

The Hawai`i projects, collectively receiving $16.2 million in funding under the House bill, are:

  • Marine Mammal Research Program — $2.2 million
  • This research project investigates the effects of sound on the behavior and well-being of marine mammals, a matter of particular importance to the Navy as it seeks to deploy Low Frequency Active Sonar to better detect submarines. The University of Hawaii’s Marine Mammal Research Program at Kaneohe has demonstrated expertise in echo-location studies on whales and dolphins, Abercrombie said. “This provision maintains funding for continued research to ensure that all ocean users, including the military, meet environmental standards without compromising operational capability,” he added.

  • Interrogator for High-Speed Retro-Reflectometer Communication — $4.0 million

    Authorizes Honolulu-based NovaSol to continue development of a high-speed data link from between aircraft and ground stations. The long-term goal of the program is to allow the rapid download of high resolution imagery from airborne sensors, particularly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Such aircraft were were widely used in the Iraq War.

  • Consolidated Undersea Situational Awareness System (CUSAS) — $4.0 million

    CUSAS is a “tactical agent-based decision tool” for use in undersea warfare and training. The advanced, interactive software — developed initially as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — is designed to convert uncertain and seemingly unrelated data into a discrete, comprehensive operational picture with real-time, user-friendly tactical recommendations.

  • High Performance Brush Program — $4.0 million

    A joint public-private venture, this program has developed new electrical components for Navy submarine motors. Prototype metal fiber brushes have significantly enhanced the performance and reduced the maintenance costs of a variety of motors and generators, and have meanwhile reduced environmental hazards in the form of carbon dust. Currently being installed on Atlantic Fleet submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Abercrombie said the Navy is ready to provide the same benefits for the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

The bill passed the U.S. House in a 399-19 vote, which included the support of Rep. Ed Case.

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