• World’s tech leaders call on UN to ban killer robots

    An open letter by 116 tech leaders from 26 countries urges the United Nations against opening the Pandora’s box of lethal robot weapons. The open letter is the first time that AI and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue. “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the letter states. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

  • High school, college engineering students test their skills in RoboSub competition

    More than 300 high school and college engineering students tested their mechanical, electrical, computer, and systems engineering skills, as well as their presentation skills and teamwork, while competing for cash prizes at the recent 20th International RoboSub Competition.

  • The gift Bush and Obama gave Trump: Expanded war-making powers

    Thanks to the military interventions by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, the former presidents have effectively expanded executive authority for Donald Trump to go to war, a new study says. The study of U.S. military interventions between 2001 and 2016 found considerable similarities in the way Bush and Obama navigated around consultation and authorization protocols with Congress and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

  • Exploiting complexity: DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare vision

    DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO) seeks to turn complexity into a powerful new asymmetric weapon via rapidly composable networks of low-cost sensors, multi-domain command and control nodes, and cooperative manned and unmanned systems. The “mosaic warfare” concept envisions a system in which individual components can respond to needs in real time to create desired outcomes.

  • Identifying toxic threats, preparing for surprise

    Predicting chemical attacks is no small task, especially when there are so many toxic substances. There is no crystal ball to aid us in sorting through them all to identify and characterize the potential threats. Instead, intelligence and defense communities use a broad network of tools to forecast hazards to safeguard our warfighters and nation. A new project from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) seeks to improve the U.S. defensive capability by creating a crystal ball to more rapidly determine the toxicity of such chemical hazards and increase our ability to prepare for surprise.

  • U.S., Israeli firms boost joint production of anti-missile systems

    Companies in Israel and the United States have ramped up production of the projectiles that are at the center of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense systems. Israel’s missile defense systems—including the Arrow-3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome—are all heavily funded by the U.S. In exchange, U.S. companies get a share of the work in developing the systems.

  • Syrian opposition shoots down Israeli “spy” eagle near Idlib

    Opposition forces in Syria the other said they had captured a dead eagle which had a camera and surveillance equipment strapped to its belly. Arab neighbors of Israel have occasionally accused the Jewish state of using trained animals for surveillance and disruption purposes. In December 2010, the Egyptian tourism minister accused Israel of training sharks to attack European tourists at Egyptian Red Sea resorts in order to deter European tourists from coming to Egypt.

  • Breakthrough in countering deadly VX

    First developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, VX is one of the most toxic chemical weapon threats facing soldiers on the battlefield – and civilians as well, as the use by VX by Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad shows. DoD currently uses the Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) for broad-spectrum agent elimination on unbroken skin, but a capability gap exists for treating chemical agent exposure to large affected areas or open wounds.

  • North Korean missiles can reach major U.S. cities beyond West Coast

    Based on current information, the recent missile test by North Korea could easily reach the U.S. West Coast and a number of major U.S. cities beyond the West Coast. News reports say that North Korea again launched its missile on a very highly lofted trajectory, which allowed the missile to fall in the Sea of Japan rather than overflying Japan. The reports also say the maximum altitude of the launch was 3,700 km (2,300 miles) with a flight time of about 47 minutes. If those numbers are correct, the missile flown on a standard trajectory would have a range 10,400 km (6,500 miles), not taking into account the Earth’s rotation.

  • “Time is running out” for diplomatic solution of North Korean problem: U.S. general

    General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, warned that North Korea’s ability to launch a missile capable of reaching the United States is advancing more significantly and faster than expected. Milley warned that “time is running out” for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis. “North Korea is extremely dangerous and more dangerous as the weeks go by,” he said in a talk at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

  • Navy’s railgun ready for operational demos

    The U.S. Navy announced that its electromagnetic railgun is out of the laboratory and ready for field demonstrations. The revolutionary railgun relies on a massive electrical pulse, rather than gunpowder or other chemical propellants, to launch projectiles at distances over 100 nautical miles—and at speeds that exceed Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. That velocity allows projectiles to rely on kinetic energy for maximum effect, and reduces the amount of high explosives needed on ships.

  • Young engineers pedal their way to underwater dominance

    What do a shark, coffin and ice cream cone have in common? They’re all student-built, human-powered submarines—and they competed in the 14th biennial International Submarine Races (ISR), recently held at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, in Bethesda, Maryland. ISR is a biennial event where participants design, build and race one- or two-person, human-powered submarines down a 328-feet underwater course in the David Taylor Model Basin.

  • Is it ever a good idea to arm violent nonstate actors?

    In May, President Donald Trump authorized a plan to arm the YPG, a Kurdish militia in Syria. A month later, the YPG and their Arab partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces began the fight to take the Syrian city of Raqqa back from the Islamic State. Is the Pentagon right that the benefits of arming the YPG outweigh the risks? Is it ever a good idea to increase the lethality of violent nonstate actors? My own research suggests that the arms and ammunition supplied to a combatant in wartime can perpetuate a state of insecurity in the region long after the war has officially ended. A recent study concludes that security force assistance can achieve some limited goals, but only if states make aid conditional and intrusively monitor recipients. The reality is the conditions under which the U.S. trains, equips and advises armed opposition groups are seldom conducive to either.

  • New icebreakers to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic and Antarctic

    The United States lacks icebreaking capability in the Arctic and Antarctic and should build four polar icebreakers with heavy icebreaking capability to help minimize the life-cycle costs of icebreaker acquisition and operations, says a new report. Four heavy icebreakers would allow the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to meet its statutory mission needs at a lower cost, and would provide three ships for a continuous presence in the Arctic and one ship to service the Antarctic.

  • Israel to buy urban warfare drones meant to minimize casualties

    The Israeli military is purchasing an unspecified number of small, multi-rotor drones that can be armed and have sufficient mobility to perform well in urban combat situations. The TIKAD drone is made by Duke Robotics, a Florida-based company that was co-founded by Lt. Col. Raziel “Razi” Atuar, a 20-year IDF veteran.