Military technology

  • Sandia Lab leading multidisciplinary effort to counter WMD

    Threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction do not seem as imminent today as they did after the 9/11 attacks, but Jill Hruby, vice president of International, Homeland, and Nuclear Security at Sandia Labs, says that scientists, industry, and universities working on technological solutions to national security challenges must anticipate what could come next. Speaking at AAAS annual meeting, Hruby said that in an environment of lower public interest — due, in part, to the success of early efforts to combat terrorism that resulted in fewer major incidents in recent years — continued collaboration between national security laboratories, academia, and industry is needed.

  • Israeli defense company launches cybersecurity solutions section

    In recent months the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has increased its cyberdefense-related activities. Esti Peshin, director of the company’s cyber section and a veteran of the IDF’s hush-hush sigint Unit 8200, says IAI is now developing solutions for clients in Israel and abroad. “We’re a start-up, but with the backing of a company that earns $3.5 billion a year,” she said. Ultimately, she implied, these defensive measures can be turned into offensive capabilities. “Intelligence is a subset of attack,” Peshin said. “This is, first of all, a national mission.”

  • New cyber-attack model helps hackers time the next Stuxnet

    Taking the enemy by surprise is usually a good idea. Surprise can only be achieved if you get the timing right — timing which, researchers argue, can be calculated using a mathematical model, at least in the case of cyber-wars. The researchers say that based on the stakes of the outcome, a cyberweapon must be used soon (if stakes are constant) or later (if the stakes are uneven). In other words, when the gain from a cyberattack is fixed and ramifications are low, it is best to attack as quickly as possible. When the gain is high or low and ramifications are high, it is best to be patient before attacking.

  • Unmanned aerial logistics system to bypass ground-based threats, challenges

    Rugged terrain and threats such as ambushes and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) can make ground-based transportation to and from the front lines a dangerous challenge. Combat outposts require on average 100,000 pounds of material a week, and high elevation and impassable mountain roads often restrict access. Unmanned aerial logistics system would bypass ground-based threats and enable faster, more effective delivery of cargo and other essential services in hard-to-reach areas.

  • Israeli legal expert urges development of ethics code for cyberwarfare

    Col. Sharon Afek, former deputy military advocate general, says that countries would benefit from developing an ethics code to govern cyber warfare operations. He notes that existing law already prohibits cyber operations which would directly lead to loss of life, injury, or property damage, such as causing a train to derail or undermining a dam. “Israel faces a complex and challenging period in which we can expect both a cyber arms race with the participation of state and non-state entities, and a massive battle between East and West over the character of the future legal regime,” he writes. He acknowledges, though, that only a catastrophic event like “Pearl Harbor or Twin Towers attack in cyberspace” would accelerate developments in this area.

  • Most of Libya’s chemical weapons destroyed

    When Libya joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in December 2003, it reported to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that it was operating three chemical-weapons production facilities, and that it had produced a total of twenty-five tons of sulfur mustard gas, 3,563 bombs with warfare agents, and 1,390 tons of precursor materials. Over the next eight years, these chemical weapons stock were systematically destroyed under international supervision. The work was halted between February and November 2011 – the beginning of the rebellion against Qaddafi and his departure from power – and resumed in early 2012. OPCW announced than on 26 January 2014, work on destroying Libya’s mustard gas has been completed. The question is whether the Qaddafi regime was truthful in its 2003 declaration – or whether there are still stocks of chemical agents stashed somewhere in desert caches.

  • First full-system mechanical environment test of B61-12 nuke completed successfully

    The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the successful completion of the first full-system mechanical environment test of the B61‑12 as part of the NNSA’s effort to refurbish the B61 nuclear bomb. This first full-system mechanical environment test is one of several critical milestones for the B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP). The B61-12 will replace the existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs. Fielding the B61-12 will also enable the retirement of the B83, the last U.S. megaton class weapon, in the mid-to-late 2020s.

  • U.S. Navy probes exam cheating at school for nuclear power reactor operator

    Yet another military service is facing allegations of exam-cheating. Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force launched a probe into a cheating scandal involving about 100 officersat Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, who are responsible for maintaining and operating land-based nuclear missiles. Now the U.S. Navy is investigating about one-fifth of its trainers at the school for naval nuclear power reactor operators in Charleston, South Carolina. The sailors are accused of cheating on written tests required to obtain certification as instructors at the nuclear propulsion school.

  • New research on ocean conditions to aid Navy planners

    The Office of Naval Research Global (ONR Global) announced last week a grant to the University of Melbourne which will provide new insights into ocean conditions — crucial information for Navy planners involved in tactical and strategic decision-making. The goal of the effort is to provide the best information possible on the environmental, or battlefield, conditions, so that tactical and strategic decisions can be properly made.

  • Chemical, defense companies subject to Chinese Nitro attacks

    More and more chemical and defense companies around the world are victims of Nitro attacks. These attacks, launched by government-backed Chinese hackers, install PoisonIvy, a Remote Access Tool (RAT) stealthily placed on computer systems to steal information. The majority of the computers infected belong to firms in the United States, Bangladesh, and the United Kingdom.

  • National Guard units help states ward off cyberattacks

    Governors across the United States are mobilizing their states’ National Guard units to combat threats from cyberattacks. The state of Washington was the first state to assign the state’s National Guard cybersecurity responsibilities. The state recognized the potential of its National Guard as a cyberforce when it realized that many of its soldiers, who are full-time employees and part-time soldiers, worked for tech employers such as Google, Boeing, Cisco, Verizon, and Microsoft.

  • Barrier technology strengthens protection at Navy ports

    Advanced technology rules the day in modern warfare — yet one very real threat to the U.S. Navy comes from a simple but deadly enemy strategy: small speed boats laden with explosives ramming into ships in harbor. Now a new maritime security barrier, developed with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), could provide a quantum leap in existing sea-port protection.

  • “Space cops” to help control traffic in space, prevent satellites from colliding

    Collisions in space of satellites and space debris have become increasingly problematic. A team of scientists are using mini-satellites that work as “space cops” to help control traffic in space. The scientists used a series of six images over a 60-hour period taken from a ground-based satellite to prove that it is possible to refine the orbit of another satellite in low earth orbit.

  • Gaza-based Palestinian hackers compromise Israeli defense ministry computer

    Hackers broke into a computer at the Israeli Ministry of Defense through an e-mail attachment tainted with malicious software. The attachment looked as if it had been sent by the country’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. it was likely that Palestinians were behind the cyberattack, saying that the more recent attacks were similar to cyberattacks against Israeli computers more than a year ago. Those attacks originated in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The attackers used an e-mail attachment to infect the computers with Xtreme RAT malware, which is a remote access Trojan. The malware allows hackers complete control of an infected machine. They can steal information, load additional malicious software onto the network, or use the invaded computer as a base of operations from which to conduct reconnaissance and attempt to gain deeper access into the network.

  • U.S. weapons shipped to moderate Syrian rebels after secret congressional approval

    U.S. and European sources have confirmed that U.S.-manufactured light arm have been flowing to moderate Syrian rebels in the south of Syria, and that Congress has approved funding to continue the shipments for the next few months. The weapons, which are being delivered to the rebels through Jordan, include both light arms and heavier weapons such as anti-tank rockets. The shipments, however, do not include shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.