Military technology

  • Israeli jets destroy Hezbollah-bound advanced Russian missiles stored near Latakia

    Large warehouses near the port city of Latakia, where the Assad regime stored advanced Russian missiles before shipping them to Hezbollah, were destroyed by aerial attack late Sunday. Israel has already launched six attacks in 2013 on Syrian arms shipments to Hezbollah — on 30 January, 3 May, 5 May, 5 July, 18 October, and 30 October. The attack on 5 July was on storage facilities in the same Latakia area, where Syria kept a large quantity of advanced P-800 Oniks anti-ship missiles, also called Yakhont missiles. Three weeks after the attack, U.S. sources said that the attack did not succeed in wiping out all of the missiles. “American officials said that further Israeli strikes are likely,” the New York Times reported on 31 July.

  • USAF nuclear-missile officers alleged to have regularly cheated on readiness tests

    Three former U.S. Air Force officers have alleged that USAF officers responsible for operating nuclear-armed missiles at Malmstrom Air Base in Montana have, for many years, been cheating on monthly readiness tests, and were never punished for it. The former officers claim that cheating is the norm and that officers who did otherwise are the exception.The officers who made the allegations added, though, that misconduct on tests did not impair the safety of the nuclear weapons or the Air Force’s ability to launch missiles if ordered.

  • The basis for a permanent deal: deep, verifiable changes to Iran’s nuclear program

    A new study says that only broad and verifiable changes to Iran’s current nuclear program could serve as a basis for a permanent nuclear deal between Iran and the international community. Among the changes: reducing the number of Iran’s uranium-enrichment centrifuges from the current 19,500 to no more than 4,000, and limiting Iran to one enrichment site; converting the heavy-water reactor being built in Araq to a light-water reactor fueled by low-enriched uranium; and imposing a tight, intrusive inspection regime for at least twenty years.

  • House approves $447 for Cyber Command

    The House of Representatives approved a fiscal 2014 stop-gap budget last Monday (it approved to full spending bill on Wednesday), which allocates $447 million to the Defense Department’s Cyber Command. This is more than twice the $191 million budget for Cyber Command in 2013.

  • U.S. conducted bioweapon tests in Japan in early 1960s

    The U.S. Army tested biological weapons in Okinawa, Japan in the early 1960s when the United States ruled the prefecture. U.S documents confirmed that the tests, conducted at least a dozen times occurred between 1961 and 1962. The test involved releasing rice blast fungus over rice paddies in order to measure the agent’s effect on production. With hundreds of millions of people dependent on rice as a staple food, failure of rice production could result in mass starvation. The fungus infects crops naturally, and experts estimate it destroys enough rice to feed sixty million people a year.

  • Surviving a nuclear explosion in your city

    During the cold war, scientists modeled every imaginable consequence of a nuclear explosion. Michael Dillon, a Lawrence Livermore Lab mathematician, found a gap in the sheltering strategies for people far enough from ground zero to survive the initial blast but close enough to face deadly radioactive fallout. Dillon’s model’s addresses the most vulnerable people, those who found shelter from the blast in lightweight buildings, or buildings lacking a basement (these buildings are more easily penetrated by deadly radioactive dust). His recommendations:  if adequate shelter is fifteen minutes away, people should remain in their initial, poor-quality shelter no longer than thirty minutes after detonation. If the better shelter is only five minutes away, however, individuals should move there immediately, leaving the closer but unsafe buildings altogether.

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  • Iconic Doomsday Clock remains at five minutes to midnight

    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: It is still five minutes to midnight — and much too close to doomsday. The minute hand of the Bulletin’s iconic Doomsday Clock has been at five minutes to midnight since January 2012. In explaining why the hand would remain so close to figurative doomsday, the Bulletin’s science and security experts focused on the failure of world leaders to take action which would reduce the possibility of catastrophe related to nuclear weapons and climate change.

  • B61-11 earth-penetrating weapon tested for first time in seven years

    One of the main purposes of the U.S. nuclear stockpile is deterrence, and one important way to assure deterrence is to have a successful surveillance test that shows that the systems in the stockpile work. Sandia’s annual surveillance program for each weapon type consists of flight tests, lab tests, and component and material tests. On 20 November 2013, researchers conducted a rocket-driven impact test of the nonnuclear components of the B61-11 earth-penetrating weapon, the first such test in seven years. Flight tests subject the weapon to shock, vibration, temperature, rotation, weather, and more. Sandia pulls random units from the stockpile for tests.

  • Military technology outpaces laws of war

    Today’s emerging military technologies — including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons like Stuxnet — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practices so fundamental that they challenge long-established laws of war. Weapons that make their own decisions about targeting and killing humans, for example, have ethical and legal implications obvious and frightening enough to have entered popular culture (for example, in the Terminator films). The current international laws of war were developed over many centuries and long before the current era of fast-paced technological change.

  • U.S. Air Force plans to add 1,000 new cybersecurity personnel

    Budget cuts notwithstanding, the U.S. Air Force plans to add 1,000 new personnel between 2014 and 2016 as part of its cybersecurity units. The 24th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas is home to the U.S. Air Force cyber command. With a budget of about $1 billion and a staff of roughly 400 military and civilian personnel, the command oversees about 6,000 cyber defense personnel throughout the Air Force.

  • Guards at U.K. nuclear weapons facility slept on the job, skipped routine patrols

    Police officers of the U.K. Ministry of Defense police, assigned to guard Britain’s nuclear weapons, are under investigation after it has been reported that they had slept on the job and failed to complete routine patrols at a nuclear weapons facility. The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield, Berkshire, is the location of the complex final assembly of nuclear weapons, and also where the U.K. nuclear warheads are maintained and decommissioned.

  • Hezbollah blames Israel, but assassinated leader had many enemies

    Hassan al-Lakkis, the man considered to be Hezbollah’s tech expert, known for his expertise with drones, bombs, and other gadgets, was assassinated near his home last week. Al-Lakkis’s body was not yet cold when Hezbollah operatives began to blame Israel for the assassination, despite al-Lakkis’ long list of enemies. Hezbollah’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has gained it a long list of enemies, and many experts insist that the assassination of al-Lakkis does not resemble an Israeli-styled operation.

  • EU to fund improved C3IS capabilities for African-led security operations

    The EU on Friday confirm it will provide 12.5 million euros through its African Peace Facility to improve the command, control, communication, and information system (C3IS) used in African-led peace support operations. Since 2004 the EU has provided 1.1 billion euros to support peace and security operations in Africa.

  • Survey of deep-sea chemical munitions dump off California finds no chemical weapons

    Since the Second World War, U.S. nautical charts have shown seven “chemical munitions dumping areas” along the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and the Mexican border. Little or no information, however, is available about the amount, location, or nature of the materials that were dumped at most of these sites. Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) conducted a detailed survey of one supposed deep‐water dump site off Southern California, and found that it contained no chemical munitions. The researchers conclude that not all sites marked as chemical munitions dumps may actually have been used for this purpose.

  • U.S. “bomb library” marks 10-year anniversary

    It has been ten years since the FBI established the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), and since that time the multi-agency operation — sometimes referred to as America’s bomb library — has become an important tool in the nation’s fight against terrorism. Since its creation in 2003, TEDAC has examined more than 100,000 IEDs from around the world and currently receives submissions at the rate of 800 per month. Two million items have been processed for latent prints — half of them this year alone.