Military technology

  • Israel destroys advanced Syrian missiles on their way to Hezbollah

    Israel Air Force (IAF) planes on Wednesday night attacked and destroyed two military bases in Syria – one near Damascus and the other in Snobar Jableh, thirty kilometers south of the port city of Latakia. The Syrian military was preparing two large shipments of surface-to-air missiles – advanced versions of the SA-8 Gecko and S-125 Neva/Pechora – for delivery to Hezbollah. The IAF destroyed the missiles before they were loaded onto truck for the trip to Lebanon. Wednesday’s night attacks were the sixth and seventh attacks Israel launched against Syrian shipments of advanced arms to Hezbollah. The earlier five attacks took place on 30 January, 3 May, 5 May, 5 July, and 18 October.

  • Russia to build floating nuclear power plants

    Global warming is opening the Arctic Ocean to shipping – and causing the rapid melting of Arctic ice. Russia says that ship-based nuclear power plants would allow it to provide power to remote cities in Siberia, and provide power to oil and gas drilling operations in the Arctic (about 30 percent of the world’s unclaimed natural gas is in the Arctic, and about, 60 percent of that unclaimed natural gas is in the Russian Arctic). Experts worry about the ability of ship-based nuclear reactor to withstand extreme weather events, or terrorist attacks. The U.S. Army deployed its own floating nuclear reactor – the Sturgis – in the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1976.

  • Video imaging system for remote detection of hidden threats

    By adapting superconducting technology used in advanced telescope cameras, researchers have built a prototype video imaging system for detecting hidden weapons and other threats at distances up to twenty-eight meters away.

  • Death of Muslims used by extremists for recruitment, propaganda

    In the last thirty years, conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia, and other countries have caused the death of four million Muslims. The theme of innocent Muslims dying as result of conflicts initiated by Western powers and their allies is a central motif used by Islamic militants to recruit new members. It is a theme which fuels anti-American sentiments in the Middle East and North Africa. Historians and Islamic scholars note that the notion that the West is orchestrating a “genocide” of Muslim is patently false, and that beginning with the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and continuing to the present day, more and more casualties are inflicted by Muslims against Muslims. Still, the myth of a non-Muslim genocidal “crusade” against Muslims is powerful, and is one which is effectively used by al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups.

  • Peru reopens UFO investigation office

    The Peruvian air force, saying it was responding to an “increased sightings of anomalous aerial phenomena” in the country’s skies,” has reopened its Departamento de Investigación de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (DIFAA). The investigative office was established in 2001 but closed in 2008. DIFAA will bring together sociologists, archaeologists, astronomers, meteorologists, and air force personnel to analyze these anomalous events. Peru is not the only Latin American country showing renewed interest in UFOs.

  • Dolphin-inspired radar system detects hidden surveillance, explosive devices

    Scientists, inspired by the way dolphins hunt using bubble nets, have developed a new kind of radar that can detect hidden surveillance equipment and explosives. The twin inverted pulse radar (TWIPR) is able to distinguish true targets, such as certain types of electronic circuits that may be used in explosive or espionage devices, from clutter (for example, other metallic items like pipes, drinks cans, or nails) which may be mistaken for a genuine target by traditional radar and metal detectors.

  • Squeezing light improves performance of MEMS sensors

    Microelectromechanical systems, known as MEMS, are ubiquitous in modern military systems such as gyroscopes for navigation, tiny microphones for lightweight radios, and medical biosensors for assessing the wounded. Such applications benefit from the portability, low power, and low cost of MEMS devices. The use of MEMS sensors is now commonplace, but they still operate many orders of magnitude below their theoretical performance limits, due to two obstacles: thermal fluctuations and random quantum fluctuations, a barrier known as the standard quantum limit.

  • “Go ahead, make my day”: Sheldon Adelson on how to deal with Iran

    Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson says that the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran will lead to nothing, arguing that the best negotiating tactics would be to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on unpopulated areas in Iran – accompanied by a threat to wipe out the entire population of Tehran if Iran refused to give up its nuclear program. Echoing Clint Eastwood, Adelson said that following the nuclear explosion in the desert, Obama should tell the Iranians: “You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

  • Acoustic detection identifies IEDs – and their explosive yield

    A number of different tools are currently used for explosives detection. These range from dogs and honeybees to mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and specially designed X-ray machines.A new acoustic detection system, consisting of a phased acoustic array that focuses an intense sonic beam at a suspected improvised explosive device, can determine the difference between those that contain low-yield and high-yield explosives.

  • Violin Memory: Winning over the intelligence community

    Violin Memory (NSYE: VMEM) is a recently IPO’d enterprise flash memory provider that has won installations across the most demanding branches of government, particularly in intelligence and homeland security. One advantage the company holds is a partnership with Toshiba, the world’s #2 manufacturer of NAND, which reportedly gives Violin insider-access to the unpublished R&D data, allowing for a product that has steadily performed steps ahead of the competition. The partnership also allows Violin to buy NAND at special “producer-like” prices from Toshiba, which in turn has enabled Violin to price more competitively, up to 50 percent lower than other providers. What is clear is that Violin’s technology adoption is growing exponentially within the security sector and other areas where data performance cannot be compromised and is mission critical.

  • Israel destroys another missile shipment from Syria to Hezbollah

    Israeli warplanes on Friday destroyed a Syrian military convoy carrying advanced missiles to Hezbollah. The air strike was approved in a secret meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Thursday night. The target of Israel’s Friday attack were remotely operated missiles, with a range of about 950 miles, which were manufactured in China and upgraded in Iran. This is the fifth Israeli attack in which shipments of advanced weapons from Assad to Hezbollah were destroyed. The earlier four attacks took place on 30 January, 3 May, 5 May, and 5 July.

  • U.S. worries about proliferation of drone technology

    A new Amnesty International report about U.S. drone use in the war on terror says that the drone campaign is killing so many civilians, that it does not only violate international law, but may be a war crime. The report also says that the growing use of drones by the United States in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia encourages their use by other states and groups. The United States rejects the figures of civilian casualties cited in the Amnesty report as unreliable, and says that the research methodology the report’s authors used is deeply flawed. The United States does agree, however, that there is a reason to worry about the proliferation of drone technology. “Going forward this is a technology that we know more people will probably get access to,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

  • 2008 drone killing of al Shabab leader used phone info collected by NSA

    Court documents filed in the case of Basaaly Moalin, a San Diego cab driver of Somali origin accused of aiding al Shabab, reveal that the 2008 killing by a CIA drone strike of al Shabab leader Aden Hashen Ayrow was aided by information collected by the NSA metadata collection program. The NSA was able to pinpoint Ayrow’s real-time location by tracking calls between him and Moalin. Lawyers for Moalin are appealing the conviction on grounds that he was unconstitutionally targeted by the NSA’s surveillance program.

  • MI6 asks for more spies in Afghanistan to fight terrorism after NATO withdrawal

    MI6, the U.K. Secret Intelligence Service, is calling for reinforcements from other agencies in order to strengthen the U.K. intelligence presence in Afghanistan after NATO forces withdraw from the country in 2014. Intelligence analysts warn that Afghanistan will become an “intelligence vacuum” which will allow terrorists to pose an increased threat to Britain. Intelligence sources said that Britain’s intelligence agencies were already “very stretched” and focused on potential threats from Yemen and Somalia, a fact which might persuade al Qaeda to seek to exploit the lack of attention to Afghanistan.

  • Iraqi war- and occupation-related death toll estimated at half a million

    A scientific study calculating Iraqi deaths for almost the complete period of the U.S.-led war and subsequent occupation estimates, with 95 percent of statistical certainty, that the total excess Iraqi deaths attributable to the war through mid-2011 to be about 405,000 (“excess” death means death not related to natural causes or causes other than the war and occupation). The researchers also estimated that an additional 56,000 deaths were not counted due to migration. Including this number, their final estimate is that close to half a million people died in Iraq as a result of the war and subsequent occupation from March 2003 to June 2011.