• STEM educationYoung engineers pedal their way to underwater dominance

    What do a shark, coffin and ice cream cone have in common? They’re all student-built, human-powered submarines—and they competed in the 14th biennial International Submarine Races (ISR), recently held at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, in Bethesda, Maryland. ISR is a biennial event where participants design, build and race one- or two-person, human-powered submarines down a 328-feet underwater course in the David Taylor Model Basin.

  • Non-state actorsIs it ever a good idea to arm violent nonstate actors?

    By Patricia Sullivan

    In May, President Donald Trump authorized a plan to arm the YPG, a Kurdish militia in Syria. A month later, the YPG and their Arab partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces began the fight to take the Syrian city of Raqqa back from the Islamic State. Is the Pentagon right that the benefits of arming the YPG outweigh the risks? Is it ever a good idea to increase the lethality of violent nonstate actors? My own research suggests that the arms and ammunition supplied to a combatant in wartime can perpetuate a state of insecurity in the region long after the war has officially ended. A recent study concludes that security force assistance can achieve some limited goals, but only if states make aid conditional and intrusively monitor recipients. The reality is the conditions under which the U.S. trains, equips and advises armed opposition groups are seldom conducive to either.

  • Polar securityNew icebreakers to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic and Antarctic

    The United States lacks icebreaking capability in the Arctic and Antarctic and should build four polar icebreakers with heavy icebreaking capability to help minimize the life-cycle costs of icebreaker acquisition and operations, says a new report. Four heavy icebreakers would allow the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to meet its statutory mission needs at a lower cost, and would provide three ships for a continuous presence in the Arctic and one ship to service the Antarctic.

  • Urban warfareIsrael to buy urban warfare drones meant to minimize casualties

    The Israeli military is purchasing an unspecified number of small, multi-rotor drones that can be armed and have sufficient mobility to perform well in urban combat situations. The TIKAD drone is made by Duke Robotics, a Florida-based company that was co-founded by Lt. Col. Raziel “Razi” Atuar, a 20-year IDF veteran.

  • DronesSmart quadcopters find their way on their own -- without human help or GPS

    Phase 1 of DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program concluded recently following a series of obstacle-course flight tests in central Florida. Over four days, three teams of DARPA-supported researchers huddled under shade tents in the sweltering Florida sun, fine-tuning their sensor-laden quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the intervals between increasingly difficult runs. The quadcopters slalomed through woodlands, swerved around obstacles in a hangar, and reported back to their starting point all by themselves.

  • IEDsAddressing the threat of vehicle-borne IEDs

    In July of 2016, a refrigerator truck packed with explosives detonated next to a crowded apartment block in Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood. The blast killed 323 people and was one of the worst Vehicle–Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED also known as car bombs) attacks ever recorded. On 30 May 2017, a VBIED in a tanker truck ripped through the embassy quarter of Kabul, killing more than 150 people. DHS S&T has taken measures to address this threat directly.

  • Climate & securityHouse panel: DOD to regard climate change as a direct threat to U.S. national security

    During Wednesday’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee passed by voice vote an amendment which acknowledges that “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.” The amendment instructs the Department of Defense to “ensure that it is prepared to conduct operations both today and in the future and that it is prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on threat assessments, resources, and readiness.”

  • Military technologyUpgrades at Sandia’s Tonopah Test Range help weapons testing

    It’s been a challenge for Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range to keep decades-old equipment running while gathering the detailed information required for twenty-first century non-nuclear testing. Over the past several years, the 60-year-old Nevada range has changed the analog brains in instruments to digital, moved to modern communications systems, upgraded telemetry and tracking equipment and updated computing systems.

  • Military technologyAs adversaries bolster their capabilities, U.S. naval technology must keep pace

    U.S. Navy leaders say that as adversaries move quickly to advance their technological capabilities, the pace of technology development and delivery in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps must accelerate in order to maintain the technological edge for U.S. warfighters. “We have a great opportunity to supercharge the engine of naval research,” says Chief of Naval Research (CNR) Rear Adm. David Hahn. “From discovery to deployment, innovative U.S. naval technology has been essential to mission success. We’re going to ensure that continues.”

  • SyriaU.S. warns Assad over planned chemical attack

    The United States has charged that the Assad regime was preparing to launch another large-scale chemical weapons attack on Sunni Syrians — warning that the Syrian regime would “pay a heavy price” if it went ahead with the attack. The White House, in a statement released late Monday, said that the United States had noticed Syrian military preparations similar to those the Syrian military had undertaken ahead of the 4 April chemical attack which killed eighty-seven Syrian civilians.

  • HezbollahIDF chief of staff: Hezbollah has forces in “every 3rd or 4th house” in Southern Lebanon

    The IDF’s chief of staff said on Tuesday that the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah has a presence in “every third or fourth house” in southern Lebanon, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the removal of all armed groups from the area. Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that Hezbollah was ensconced in some 240 villages and towns in southern Lebanon, and remains the most immediate threat to Israel.

  • In the trenchesHelping troops fight in coastal urban environments

    As nation-state and non-state adversaries adapt and apply commercially available state-of-the-art technology in urban conflict, expeditionary U.S. forces face a shrinking operational advantage. New program aims to develop advanced battle management/command and control tools and a comprehensive interactive virtual environment to test novel concepts for future expeditionary combat operations.

  • Layered defenseStacking countermeasures for layered defense against chemical, biological threats

    Just as we must protect computer systems against assaults in the form of viruses and trojans in the cyber world, we must protect our soldiers from a multitude of chemical and biological threats on the battlefield. No one countermeasure can mitigate every threat, which is why the Joint Science and Technology Office at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is developing a portfolio of novel capabilities and medical countermeasures to protect our troops.

  • Flying mine detectorNavy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

     

  • Missile defenseRussia successfully tests hypersonic missile which renders Western defenses obsolete

    Russia says it has successfully tested a hypersonic missile, a year ahead of schedule. The missile is faster than any other missile currently deployed by the world’s armies, capable of reaching a speed of up to 4,600 mph, which is nearly six times the speed of sound— covering a distance of 155 miles in just 2.5 minutes. At that speed, no current missile defense would be capable of intercepting and destroying the missile as it travels toward its target. “We’re in a period of possible military parity again,” says a British defense analyst, adding that the new hypersonic missile will push Russia ahead.