Military technology

  • UN inspectors’ report points strongly to Syrian government’s culpability in 8/21 chemical attack

    UN chemical weapons inspectors will on Monday submit their report to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, in which they will say that they have collected a “wealth” of evidence which points to the Syrian government as being responsible for using chemical weapons against its own people.

  • Syrian conflict renews focus on chemical weapons

    Chemical weapons have been used several times in modern history, with Germany recognized as the first country to use such weapons on a mass scale in the 22 April 1915 attack on 6,000 British and French troops at Ypres, Belgium. Since the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which banned the use of chemical and biological weapons, chemical weapons have been used in five conflicts, with Syria being the sixth.

  • Unified military intelligence picture dispels the fog of war

    Military operations depend upon the unimpeded flow of accurate and relevant information to support timely decisions related to battle planning and execution. To address these needs, numerous intelligence systems and technologies have been developed over the past twenty years, but each of these typically provides only a partial picture of the battlefield, and integrating the information has proven to be burdensome and inefficient. DARPA’s Insight program aims to bring real-time, integrated, multi-source intelligence to the battlefield.

  • Anti-ship missile prototype in successful first solo test flight

    Adversaries’ sophisticated air defense systems can make it difficult for current air- and surface-launched anti-ship missiles to hit their targets at long range. To engage specific enemy warships from beyond the reach of counter-fire systems, soldirs may require launching multiple missiles or employing overhead targeting assets such as radar-equipped planes or Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites — resources that may not always be available. To address these challenges, DARPA and ONR are collaborating on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program, which successfully launched its first prototype on 27 August.

  • Disarming Syria of chemical weapons exceedingly difficult, lengthy, uncertain process: experts

    The Russian proposal concerning Syria’s chemical weapons is attractive: international inspectors will make a detailed account of Syria’s vast chemical stocks and take control of them; the weapons will be destroyed; and Syria will join the Chemical Weapons Convention. Experts say, however, that it may well be a deceiving attraction because it will be exceedingly difficult to implement and reliably monitor. “After more than 20 years in Iraq, the job still isn’t finished. Syria could be worse,” one expert says.

  • Chemical munitions used in 8/21 attack carried larger payload than previously estimated

    A new study of the 21 August chemical attack on rebel-controlled areas on the outskirts Damascus found that that the rockets used in the attack carried larger toxic payloads than had previously been estimated. Weapons experts say that the fact that the rockets carried up to fifty times more sarin nerve agent than previously thought helps explain why there were so many more victims than in previous chemical attacks by regime forces.

  • Cyberweapons likely to be an integral part of any U.S.-Syria clash

    A U.S.-led military attack on Syria may have been averted, at least for a while, by the Russian proposal to negotiate the transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks to international control, but had the United States gone ahead with a strike, there is little doubt that cyberattacks would have been used by both sides. If the United States decides to attack Syria in the future, we should expect cyberweapons to be used.

  • Obama: Russia’s chemical weapons proposal may be a “significant breakthrough”

    President Obama on Monday described a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to avoid a military strike a “potentially positive development,” which could represent a “significant breakthrough.” Obama said, though, that the proposal should be taken “with a grain of salt,” and it was viewed with some skepticism by the administration, with senior officials saying the proposal could possibly be a delaying tactic aimed to undermine Obama’s already tenuous efforts to push for a military strike. The Russian proposal called for Syria to open its chemical weapons stocks to international inspections and give complete account of its stocks; begin the process of supervised destruction of these weapons; and join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  • Bomb-detecting lasers to improve security checkpoints

    Research has put the possibility of bomb-detecting lasers at security checkpoints within reach by developing a laser that can detect micro traces of explosive chemicals on clothing and luggage. The laser not only detects the explosive material, but it also provides an image of the chemical’s exact location, even if it’s merely a minute trace on a zipper.

  • Researchers fabricate new camouflage coating from squid protein

    What can the U.S. military learn from a common squid? A lot about how to hide from enemies, according to researchers. Researchers show that material that mimics calamari skin is invisible to infrared cameras, which is a good thing since infrared detection equipment is employed extensively by military forces for night vision, navigation, surveillance, and targeting.

  • Pentagon expands Syria attack plan

    The Obama administration, in an effort to mobilize American public opinion to support a strike against Syria, has stressed that any military action would be limited in scope, but the Pentagon is preparing for a longer, and broader, campaign of bombardment of Syria than it originally had planned. The plan includes heavy missile strikes which will be followed by second and third waves of bombing of targets which were not initially destroyed or sufficiently damaged. The plan calls for the use of cruise missiles and aircraft from a U.S. Navy aircraft group in the Red Sea, and long-range bombers from outside the theater.

  • Syria’s chemical weapons stocks will not be attacked

    Military analysts say Syrian president Bashar Assad will emerge with Syria’s chemical arsenal intact if the United States executes a limited airstrike. The United States contemplates a punitive strike in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against Sunni civilians on 21 August – and on about a dozen earlier occasions – but the U.S. attack, if it comes, is not likely to include the depots where the chemical weapons are stored because such an attack may release deadly gases which would cover the neighboring areas with toxic clouds, potentially creating a human and environmental disaster.

  • New detectors for chemical, biological threats

    In the late 1990s, Sandia scientists developed a simple-to-use handheld chemical detector for the military, the MicroChemLab. Ever since, Sandia has improved such microfluidics- and microelectromechanical (MEMS) systems-based instruments that identify chemicals based on gas chromatography, or GC, and resonator-style instruments such as surface acoustic wave (SAW) detectors. The lab’s researchers are building on this sensor work to invent tiny detectors that can sniff out everything from explosives and biotoxins to smuggled humans.

  • Worries grow about Syria’s biological weapons capabilities, intentions

    The debates among experts in Western and Middle Eastern intelligence services and militaries about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime revolve around how many times Assad has used chemical weapons, not whether such weapons were used. Neighbors of Syria have become increasingly alarmed – and, in private, have expressed their anxiety in discussions with the United States – about another illicit Syrian WMD program: biological weapons. The readiness of the Assad regime to use one proscribed weapon – chemicals — has led to growing unease among Syria’s neighbors that the regime may not find it too difficult to violate other weapon-related taboos. Biological weapons could give the Assad regime an effective means of retaliation because, if the weapon is well-designed, the lethal contents would spread easily without leaving tell-tale signs about the origin of the attack – or even evidence that there has been an attack.

  • Administration's Syria plan: limited operation with “downstream” effect

    Three leading administration officials yesterday presented, in general detail, the plan of attack on Syria. The plan emphasizes the destruction of delivery vehicles – missiles, rockets, planes and their airfields, and artillery pieces – used in the delivery of chemical weapons. The three officials – Kerry, Hagel, and Dempsey — agreed that such an attack, even if its purpose would be to degrade the regime’s ability to deliver chemical weapons, would have “downstream” effect: these delivery vehicles also deliver conventional munitions, so their destruction would more generally degrade the regime’s ability to fight, thus making the battlefield between the regime and the rebels more level. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is today drafting a new resolution which would permit up to ninety days of military action against the Syrian government and bar the deployment of U.S. combat troops in Syria but permit the deployment of a small rescue mission in the event of an emergency. The White House also would be required within thirty days of enactment of the resolution to send lawmakers a plan for a diplomatic solution to end the violence in Syria.