• Fast, lightweight autonomous air vehicle completes first flight data tests

    DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) technologies could be useful in addressing a pressing surveillance shortfall. Military teams patrolling dangerous overseas urban environments, and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods, currently can use remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation, but to know what is going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.

  • Asia, Middle East lead rise in 2015 arms imports

    The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and rose by 14 percent between 2006 and 2010 and 2011–2015, according to new data. Six of the top ten largest arms importers in the 5-year period 2011–15 are in Asia and Oceania. Arms imports by states in the Middle East rose by 61 percent between 2006 and 2010 and 2011 and 2015.

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  • ISIS used mustard gas in Iraq: UN watchdog

    A source at the UN chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said that in 2015 ISIS attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas. It was the first documented use of chemical weapons in the country since Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in 1998.

  • Technologies enabling automated lookouts for unmanned surface vessels sought

    DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program seeks to develop a new type of unmanned surface vessel that could independently track adversaries’ ultra-quiet diesel-electric submarines over thousands of miles. ACTUV program invites input so future unmanned ships could operate safely near manned maritime vessels in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night.

  • Adelson offered to pay for Iron Dome’s development

    In 2013, shortly after Congress had passed a funding bill for the joint Pentagon-Israel Iron Dome missile defense system, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), then the Senate’s majority leader, received a call from one of his constituents, the gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson asked Reid to convey to the White House a most unusual offer: He, Adelson, was willing personally to contribute $1 billion of his own money toward the development costs of Iron Dome.

  • U.S. to impose new sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile program

    The United States is preparing a new round of economic sanctions against Iran after Iran had violated agreements related to its ballistic missile program by testing, on 10 October, an advanced version of one of its missiles. The ballistic missile agreement is unrelated to the nuclear agreement the P5+1 powers signed with Iran last summer. The nuclear program-related sanctions would begin to be lifted in 2016 if Iran fully complies with the requirements of the nuclear deal.

  • Transforming deadly chemicals into harmless dirt

    Destroying bulk stores of chemical warfare agents is a challenge for the U.S. and international community. Current methods of eradication, such as incineration or hydrolysis, are not fully agnostic, require significant amounts of water and create hazardous waste that requires further processing. DARPA’s Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) program recently awarded two contracts to develop prototypes of a transportable disposal system able to convert dangerous chemicals into safe output, such as harmless soil, using minimal consumables and creating no hazardous waste.

  • Forensic seismology tested on 2006 munitions depot explosion in Baghdad

    Seismometers were developed to record earthquakes, but then they turned out to be useful for monitoring nuclear tests, and now people are using them in all kinds of creative ways. Seismologists could distinguish, mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices, helicopters, and drones from four miles away. In 2005 and 2006 ten seismometers were installed in northern and northeastern Iraq to study the seismic properties of the Earth’s crust in that area so that it would be possible to quantify the yield of nearby earthquakes or nuclear tests. They proved useful in identifying conventional explosions as well.

  • Russia may be committing war crimes by using banned munitions, targeting civilians: Amnesty

    Russian air strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians and caused massive destruction in residential areas, striking homes, a mosque, and a busy market, as well as medical facilities, in a pattern of attacks that show evidence of violations of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International in a new briefing published on Tuesday. Evidence, including photos and video footage, gathered by Amnesty suggests that the Russians have used unguided bombs in densely populated civilian areas, as well as internationally banned deadly cluster munitions. Weapons experts who analyzed images of Russian air attacks said the nature of the destruction caused by the attacks indicated possible use of fuel-air explosives (also known as “vacuum bombs”), a type of weapon particularly prone to indiscriminate effects when used in the vicinity of civilians.

  • Better understanding of hybrid warfare needed: Experts

    In recent years, armed conflicts have increasingly been fought in a “hybrid” way, in which adversaries rely on a combination of conventional and non-conventional tactics to achieve their military and political objectives. Legal experts say it is essential that the MATO member nations gain a better understanding of the legal challenges posed by new methods of warfare.

  • Assad’s future; Israel’s missile defense; U.S. overseas bases

    Israel’s chief-of staff said that the likelihood of the Assad-Hezbollah-Iran axis winning the war in Syria is “zero” (his words). The Alawite community is too small to continue and provide soldiers to Syria’s army; both Iran and Hezbollah appear to have concluded that the cost of maintaining Assad in power is just too high; and Russia has decided against sending ground troops. Israel has successfully tested the Arrow-3, its anti-ballistic system designed to intercept long-range missiles. The Pentagon proposes creating an architecture of hub-and-spokes military bases overseas to fight terrorists.

  • Fibers from natural fats make bulletproof vests stronger and greener

    Bulletproof vests and other super-strong materials could soon become even tougher and more environmentally friendly at the same time with the help of extra firm, or “al dente,” fibers. These materials, which are powerful enough to stop speeding bullets, can also be used for many other tasks that require strength.

  • Unmanned Maritime Systems 2015 conference: “Reliability, Economy, Endurance”

    The theme of the Unmanned Maritime Systems 2015 conference, being held 7-9 December 2015 in Arlington, Virginia, is “Reliability, Economy, Endurance: Requirements for Next-Generation Unmanned Surface and Undersea Systems.” The organizers note that there is a growing demand for Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS) as today’s geopolitical environment poses a number of unique security challenges in the maritime domain. Advances in power, robotics, computing, sensors, and navigation technologies drive a growing DoD demand for unmanned systems that can provide increased autonomy, persistent resilience, and functionality with decreased risk and expense, showing their value across multiple applications, including otherwise dull, dirty, or dangerous missions.

  • U.K. attacks ISIS oil targets in first British military action in Syria

    In the first British military strikes in Syria, four British Tornados have dropped precision munitions on seven ISIS targets in eastern Syrian. All of the targets were part of the Islamist organization’s oil production and distribution system. The planes left on their mission from the RAF Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus less than an hour after the House of Commons authorized a U.K. military campaign to destroy ISIS targets in Syria. The United Kingdom has already been part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, but British military strikes were limited to attacking ISIS targets in Iraq.

  • Syria is continuing to use chemical weapons against its people: Diplomats

    Diplomats attending the annual meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, on Monday accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of continuing to use deadly gas munitions against his own people, although Syria committed to dismantle and remove all of its stocks of chemical weapons. U.S. and EU representatives charged that the regime may still has in its possession large quantities of chemical armaments like sulfur mustard and sarin, which it has concealed from international inspectors.