Military technology

  • The two-track Syria strategy of Iran and Hezbollah

    For Iran and Hezbollah, the preservation of Bashar Assad regime is of supreme strategic importance, but both realize the regime may not survive. Iran and Hezbollah, therefore, employ two parallel strategic tracks. The first, immediate track aims to prop up the Assad regime’s ability to survive and continue governing by providing it with military, economic, political, and propaganda support. The second track, planned as an intermediate- and long-term strategy, aims to make it possible for Syria’s Shi’ites and Alawites to defend themselves by creating a “popular army.” To help the first track, Hezbollah has sent thousands of its best fighters to fight on the side of the Assad regime and help the regime keep its hold over areas in northwest Syria. To advance the second track, Hezbollah, with Iranian funding, is helping the Assad regime build and train a popular army of about 150,000 Alawite and Shi’a soldiers. This army will protect the interests of the Alawite and Shi’a communities – and the interests of Iran and Hezbollah — in Syria if the Assad regime falls.

  • Highly sensitive polymer detects IEDs

    A chemical which is often the key ingredient in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) can be quickly and safely detected in trace amounts by a new polymer created by a team of Cornell University chemists. The polymer, which potentially could be used in low-cost, handheld explosive detectors and could supplement or replace bomb-sniffing dogs.

  • France weighing military options after French lab confirms Syrian use of sarin gas

    Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, said yesterday (Tuesday) that samples taken from Syria and tested in France confirm that sarin gas has been used by the Assad regime in several attacks in March and April. The U.K. Foreign Office said that samples from Syrian victims tested in British labs also confirmed the use of sarin. A UN investigative panel released its report yesterday, saying its experts had “reasonable grounds” to suspect small-scale use of toxic chemicals. Fabius said that France was not ruling out a military strike on the place where the gas is being stored.

  • McCain: military aid to rebels, no-fly zone necessary as Assad gaining “upper hand”

    Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said it is “ludicrous” to believe that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would negotiate a diplomatic solution to the county’s civil war at an upcoming summit. McCain says that providing military aid to the anti-Assad rebels and imposing a no-fly zone over Syria would more likely yield results than a summit meeting in Geneva. 

  • Hagel says Chinese cyberattacks a “growing threat”

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned of a “growing threat” of cyberattacks against the United States, saying that America and its allies need to “establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace.” Hagel spoke to an audience of defense analysts and defense ministers from Asia and Europe at the annual conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Saturday.

  • Israel warns: if S-300 missiles arrive in Syria, Israel will “prevent” them from becoming operational

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    Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if Russia went ahead with its planned sale of advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Syria, and these systems became operational, then Israel’s “entire airspace will become a no-fly zone.” Netanyahu warned that the threat was such that Israel “cannot stand idly by.”

  • Laser weapons on ships require reliable shipboard power

    For the first time, a laser weapon system (LaWS) will be placed onboard a deployed ship, USS Ponce, for testing in the Persian Gulf in 2014. The U.S. Navy’s plan to put laser weapons on ships, makes the need for reliable, high-voltage shipboard power a matter of national security.

  • Smartphone technology to accelerate development of unattended sensors

    DARPA wants to develop low-cost, rapidly updatable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors – to be used by the military on the ground, in the air, at sea, and undersea – in less than a year, a marked improvement to the current three-to-eight year development process. It hopes to do so by using an original design manufacturer (ODM) process similar to that of the commercial smartphone industry.

  • Chinese government hackers steal designs of advanced U.S. weapons systems

    The Chinese government has been conducting a broad, sustained, and disciplined campaign of cyberattacks against U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure, private companies, and news organizations. The public version of a study prepared for the Pentagon by the Defense Science Board now says that Chinese government hackers have also been able to penetrate the computer networks of all the major U.S. defense contractors, stealing the designs and specifications of the most advanced weapon system in the U.S. arsenal, and gaining insights into broad technologies on which U.S. military advances are based.

  • Game changer: Russia to supply Syria with advanced S-300 air-defense systems

    In what should be regarded as a major victory for Iran and its two regional allies, Syria and Hezbollah, Russia has announced it would provide Syria with advanced S-300 air defense missiles. The United States, Israel, and EU and NATO countries have been vigorously, and anxiously, pressing Russia not to go ahead with the sale of the missiles, because the deployment of the S-300 would make the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria, let alone air attacks on targets inside Syria — like the ones Israel conducted in late January and early May — much costlier.

  • McCain meets with Syrian rebel leaders in Syria

    Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) on Monday, Memorial Day, met with Syrian rebel leaders. McCain’s visit makes him the highest ranking U.S. official to enter Syria since the civil war began in 2011.Rebel commanders asked that the U.S. consider providing heavy arms to the Free Syrian Army, set up a no-fly zone in Syria, and conduct airstrikes on Hezbollah. McCain, for his part, asked the rebels how they planned to reduce the presence of Islamic extremists in rebel ranks.

  • New Obama policy sets higher standards for drone use

    In a major policy speech Thursday, President Obama announced plans to set higher standards for the use of drones in the fight against terrorists. He defended the use of the unmanned vehicles in that war, however, including when, in extreme situations, they are used to kill American citizens.

  • Syrian army attacks Israeli army patrol; Israel retaliates, issues stark warning

    Syrian forces have fired at an Israeli army patrol Tuesday, and for the first time since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Syrian government publicly took responsibility for the firing. In response, Israel launched a cruise missile and destroyed the Syrian position from which the Syrian soldiers fired into Israel. Israel’s military chief warned: “We will not allow the Golan Heights to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from.”

  • Israel warns Assad: if you attack Israel, you “risk forfeiting [your] regime”

    Israel has issued a highly unusual public warning to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The warning, couched in no uncertain terms, consists of two parts: First, if Syria and Iran again try to ship game-changing weapon system to Hezbollah, Israel will destroy these shipments, as it has already done three times, on 30 January, 3 May, and 5 May. Second, if Syria retaliated against Israel in the wake of such attacks, Israel would inflict crippling blows on the Assad regime and force Assad from power.

  • Master “remote” control for all military unmanned systems

    Historically, unmanned systems have been developed and fielded as individual items built by different vendors, which has led to increased spending, from $284 million in 2002 to more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2010. Researchers have developed something similar to a master remote control for separate components of differing brands of entertainment systems: it is called the Common Control System, and it will control military ground, air, and undersea unmanned systems across the services.