• Watchkeeper surveillance drone "can see footprints through cloud"

    Thales UK’s Watchkeeper surveillance UAV is fitted with radar so sensitive, according to its makers, that it can detect not only individual people moving about on the ground — but even the footprints they leave in the dirt; Watchkeeper is a modified version of the Israeli Hermes 450 with added French and British bits and pieces

  • Raytheon-Navy team zaps UAV targets out of the sky with laser

    Four UAVs were engaged and destroyed using the Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS), guided by Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System sensor technologies; in separate news, Boeing recently took delivery of the beam-director assembly for the U.S. Army-s High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) program, moving the system a step closer to its 2011 testing schedule

  • A first: 15 nations agree to start working together on cyber arms control

    A group of nations — including the United States, China, and Russia — have for the first time showed a willingness to engage in reducing the threat of attacks on each others’ computer networks; when the group last met in 2005, they failed to find common ground. This time, by crafting a short text that left out controversial elements, they were able to reach a consensus; the Russians proposed a treaty in 1998 that would have banned the use of cyberspace for military purposes. The United States has not been willing to agree to that proposal, given that the difficulty in attributing attacks makes it hard to monitor compliance

  • Remotely controlled mechanical watch towers guard hostile borders

    South Korea has began to install unmanned guard towers, equipped with sensors and machine-guns, along the DMZ; The South Korean military is emulating the system Israel has built around the Gaza Strip — a system of unmanned, armored towers, about five meters (sixteen feet) tall and two meters (six feet) in diameter; at the top of the tower is an armored shelter that conceals a remotely controlled machine-gun; operators control the surveillance and weapon systems atop these towers from a remote central command-and-control location

  • Neo-Nazi militia patrols Arizona desert

    Various volunteer-based groups patrol the Arizona desert and report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, and generally they have not caused problems; Arizona law enforcement authorities are worried about the latest addition: a local neo-Nazi militia; members of the militia are outfitted with military fatigues, body armor, and assault rifles — and openly proclaim that only non-Jewish, white heterosexual people should be American citizens and that everyone who is not white should leave the country — “peacefully or by force”

  • "Bulletproof custard" liquid armor better than a Kevlar vest

    Materials scientists combined a shear-thickening liquid with traditional Kevlar to make a bulletproof material that absorbs the force of a bullet strike by becoming thicker and stickier; its molecules lock together more tightly when it is struck, the scientists explained — they described it as “bulletproof custard”

  • A First: full-sized aircraft takes off, flies, lands with no human help

    Last month, in Mesa, Arizona, a helicopter took off, avoided obstacles during flight, scoped out a landing site, and landed safely — and did all that on its own; no humans were involved, and there was no pre-programmed flight path

  • New counter-IED approach: flying car

    California based company offers a solution to the vexing IED problem: a car flying car; if soldiers find themselves in a tactical situation requiring a quick escape, they can flip a switch and the car just shoots up in the air; in April DARPA invited engineers to dream up a flying car — for the initial design of which it allocated $54 million — to give the military an “unprecedented capability to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions” through vertical takeoff and landing

  • Keeping water clean by using sound to filter bacterial spores

    Acoustic trapping can remove bacterial spores from water, according to a new set of experiments funded by the U.S. Army; the idea is to allow the water to flow through a cavity in which a transducer sets up an acoustic standing wave

  • Iran shipped advanced radar systems to Syria

    Iran has supplied Syria with advanced radar system which would make it more difficult for Israel to over-fly Syrian air space in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities; the radar would also offer protection to thousands of Hezbollah medium- and long-range missiles warehoused on Syrian soil just across the border with Lebanon

  • DARPA looking for solar cells that can withstand the rigors of war

    DARPA is investing $3.8 million into the creation of high-powered, lightweight solar cells that can “stand up to battle conditions and environmental extremes”; thin-film, flexible solar cells are a major priority for the military, because they can be applied onto almost everything — from tents to uniforms — and would minimize the number of generators and portable battery packs needed by troops in battle

  • Mexican cartels operate permanent lookout bases in Arizona to monitor U.S. law enforcement

    Mexican drug cartels now maintain permanent lookout bases in strategic locations in the hills of southern Arizona from which their scouts can monitor every move made by law enforcement officials; the scouts are supplied by drivers who bring them food, water, batteries for radios — all the items they need to stay in the wilderness for a long time; “To say that this area is out of control is an understatement,” says a border patrol agent

  • USAF chooses Missouri, Montana bases for MQ-1, MQ-9 ground control stations

    The U.S. Air Force on Monday announced its basing decision for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper ground control stations: Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota

  • Landmine detector made from off-the-shelf components

    Researchers in the United States have developed a low-cost technology to detect landmines using a novel acoustic/microwave system; the system, made from off-the-shelf components, costs about $10,000. This compares to laser-based Doppler remote detection systems that sells for upwards of $1 million

  • Hi-tech navies protect shipping from Somalia's pirates

    The six ship EU force and other Western-led forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden have disrupted fifty-nine pirate groups in April and May alone; some naval forces in the region concentrate on escorting convoys of their own national vessels, while the Western-led forces spread themselves across the region saying they want to protect all shipping regardless of flag