Military technology

  • U.S. aircraft to fly African troops to the Central African Republic mission

    U.S. military aircraft will fly African and European peacekeepers to the Central African Republic to help contain a bloody internal conflict between Christian and Muslim militias and other rebel factions. The country has been in chaos since Muslim militias ousted President Francois Bozize in March. The initial mission of the U.S. transport planes will be to fly troops from Burundi to the Central African Republic capital of Bangui.

  • DoD sound protection standards for secret spaces are insufficient

    What is the best place to conduct a conversation about a confidential or even classified matter? Surprisingly, probably not a conference room designed in accordance with acoustical criteria approved by the Department of Defense (DOD). While such “secret” rooms — intended to keep sensitive information out of the earshot of unauthorized listeners — might meet DOD standards, they offer less protection against snooping than is found in a luxury condo.

  • Is the time finally right for a pan-African security force?

    Representatives of fifty-three African states, meeting at an African summit in Paris last week, emphasized the need for a pan-African military force. Observers note that this is not a new idea – it was first raised Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah in 1963 — but that on those few occasions when efforts were made to translate the idea into reality, it has never worked. Notwithstanding the many failures of the past, and the many warning signs of the present, many African leaders and observers are optimistic that this time, the 50-year old dream of a pan-African military force may well be realized.

  • UN approves intervention in Central African Republic as violence rages

    The UN Security Council yesterday voted for a resolution, put forward by France, which authorized an African Union-led peacekeeping force to intervene in the Central African Republic to prevent the growing chaos from causing the state to disintegrate. The AU force, with the support of French forces, will protect civilians, restore humanitarian access, and stabilize the country. UN officials have warned that the violence between the Christian majority and Muslim minority now in power could lead to genocide.

  • U.S. Navy demonstrates UAV launch from submerged submarine

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS) from a submerged submarine. The successful submerged launch of a remotely deployed UAS offers a pathway to providing mission critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force.

  • France reasserting its role as Africa's indispensable power

    In March this year, rebel militias, many composed of Muslim fighters from Chad and Sudan, overthrew the government, a move which has resulted in spreading lawlessness among rival warlords, with the risk of the disintegration of the country and sectarian war spilling beyond the country’s borders distinct possibilities. As was the case in Mali earlier this year, France has decided to put its foot down, sending hundreds of troops to the capital Bangui to restore order and restrain the lawless rebels. “The challenge of this intervention [in the Central African Republic],” on analyst wrote, “lies in the ‘return’ of France to the dark continent after decades of interference followed by a period of relative indifference or misstatements. If France succeeds in its Central African mission, it will have recovered a good part of its influence, positioning itself as an indispensable partner in those places where it risked becoming a vague memory.”

  • Testing explosives capability helping armor research

    In modern warfare, military vehicles use enormous armored panels to defend against weapons. Boosting protection by adding more steel, however, eventually makes equipment too heavy to use. There are other ways to defend against a weapon besides trying to stop it with just mass — smarter, more economic ways that are waiting to be discovered.

  • East Asia tensions on the rise as China plans more unilateral moves

    The Obama administration has advised American commercial airlines to comply with China’s demand to be notified in advance of all aircraft passing through China’s newly – and unilaterally — defined Air Defense Identification Zone(ADIZ). In contrast, Japan’s government has notified its commercial airlines to proceed with business as usual. Regional tensions are on the rise as China has said it expects to set up other ADIZs within the region.

  • U.S., Japan reject China’s unilateral East China Sea claims

    The Chinese government this past weekend has declared the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), effective immediately. The zone covers an area in the East China Sea — two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom – which includes islands claimed by both China and Japan. China calls them the Diaoyou islands, while Japan calls them the Senkaku islands. The United States and Japan said they would not abide by China’s unilateral decision, and on Tuesday the United States sent two B-52s long-range bombers to conduct “routine training mission” through the airspace China declared as its own, and did so without following China’s instructions about how aircraft should conduct themselves in that space.

  • Navy “mine-hunter” AUV sets mission-endurance record

    The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Acoustics Division, with Bluefin Robotics, executed a record setting 507 kilometer (315 mile), long-endurance autonomy research mission using its heavyweight-class mine countermeasures autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Reliant. NRL’s Reliant AUV, when equipped with a low frequency broadband (LFBB) sonar system, is perhaps best known as the prototype for the new U.S. Navy Knifefish mine-hunter.

  • Uranium, plutonium, heavy water … why Iran’s nuclear deal matters

    The agreement reached with Iran will limit enrichment to 5 percent U-235 and allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors regular visits (even daily) to their facilities. The inspectors can easily determine the ratios of U-235 and Pu-239 in the input fuel and waste streams via the characteristic radiation signatures of the isotopes involved. These stand out like a sore thumb to their instruments. In addition, the IAEA will measure the amount of U-235 employed at each facility to determine if any of the uranium is diverted to undisclosed locations. While this arrangement is operating it is highly unlikely that Iran will be able to build nuclear weapons.

  • The interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran: the details

    The P5+1 countries (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) have been engaged in negotiations with Iran in an effort to reach a verifiable diplomatic resolution which would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. On Sunday, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings which halts, at least temporarily, the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects. In return, for Iran’s concessions, and as part of this initial step, the P5+1 will provide what the agreement describes as “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief to Iran.

  • Off-shore barges considered for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons

    After failing to find a country willing to allow its territory to be used for disposing of Syria’s chemical weapons, the United States is exploring other options. Two options being seriously considered involve the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons off shore, rather than on land. Both proposals call for removing the chemical weapons from Syria and placing them on a large barge at sea, where they would be dissolved or incinerated.

  • Sahel-Sahara countries to build joint security training center in Rabat

    At a meeting on common security challenges in north and west Africa, government officials from nineteen Sahel, Sahara, and Maghreb countries agreed to build a joint security training center in Rabat, Morocco, to increase the competency of the region’s security forces to deal with growing terrorist and jihadist threats. The nineteen countries will also increase information sharing and harmonize the legal means they use to fight security threats. The ministers said that one of the first steps toward improving security in west and north Africa would be to improve monitoring of border and increase border security.

  • U.S. to intensify campaign against brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

    U.S. Special Forces continue to act on their commitment to capture Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA), a band of brutal rebels who have been kidnapping and killing villagers across central Africa for some years now. For the last two years, American military advisers have been assisting troops in four African nations — Uganda, South Sudan, Congo, and Central African Republic – in their war against the elusive LRA. Recently, the Pentagon has asked the White House for permission to expand the mission by using the Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey aircraft in Uganda, allowing troops to advance the assault on Kony.