• Fake chips from China threaten U.S. military systems

    To withstand the rigors of battle, the Defense Department requires the chips it uses to have special features, such as the ability to operate at below freezing temperatures in high-flying planes; because it pays extra for such chips, experts say, the Defense Department has become a prime target for counterfeiters, most of them Chinese companies; from November 2007 through May 2010, U.S. Customs officials said they seized 5.6 million bogus chips — yet many more are finding their way into the United States and even the military

  • The U.S. military prepares for the coming conflicts triggered by climate change

    The popular debate surrounding “global warming” is rife with emotion and has paralyzed U.S. policymakers; military planners, however, remain divorced from the emotional content of the topic, looking at possible future scenarios and conducting planning to address the associated challenges and threats arising from sharp changes in climate

  • The laser designator-equipped Shadow UAV offers smart bombs more precision

    The light weight laser designators enable the UAV to designate targets for laser guided smart bombs when more accuracy than GPS guided weapons is needed: GPS guided weapons hit within a 10 meter/31 foot circle, while laser guidance is good for 1-2 meters, or 3-6 feet

  • Is the U.S. military interested in a Kiwi Jetpack?

    Kiwi company claims the U.S. military is interested in its Jetpack (not really a jetpack, but personal ducted-fan aircraft too heavy to be lifted by its user); the company made the headlines in the spring by saying it was about the sell the first commercial jetpack for $75,000 a piece; the price has since gone up a bit, to $140,00 a unit, but the company says that 1,600 people have “expressed interest” in buying the Jetpack

  • Lasers will protect helicopters from heat-seeking missiles

    A Michigan company using off-the-shelf telecommunications fiber optics to develop rugged and portable mid-infrared supercontinuum lasers that could blind heat-seeking weapons from a distance of 1.8 miles away; the technology will be used to protect combat helicopters from heat-seeking missiles

  • Laser-powered, ground-charged UAV stays aloft for hours

    A UAV is only as good as its power source: if the drone cannot stay over target for long periods of time and must return to base to refuel, this not only adds to the costs of operating the drone but it also degrade its intelligence gathering capabilities; Seattle-based company demonstrates that it can use a laser beam to charge the UAV’s photovoltaic cells, generating enough power to keep the drone in the air for hours; the company has bigger plans for extending flight duration of military craft — and much more: in the longer term, it envisions lasers powering remote ground-based sensors, delivering power to forward military bases, or supplying emergency power during disasters

  • DARPA awards additional $11 million for video search technology

    As a result of advancements in intelligence gathering technologies (think UAVs), the U.S. military and intelligence community have been accumulating video archives over the past decade which make YouTube look puny; it is not only the number of pictures, but their quality: mere HD movies and TV are small and tightly compressed compared to the high resolution, full-motion imagery which pours in like an avalanche from every Predator or Reaper drone — and dozens of these surveillance drones are airborne above southwest Asia every minute of every day; DARPA is looking for an effective, automated video search technology

  • Worries about Afghan biometric database

    Afghanistan is filled with corruption, fraud, and malicious police officers; its commitment to the rule of law is, to be charitable, shaky; in such a circumstance, a counterinsurgency tool like the biometric database could just as easily become predatory, allowing its possessors to take out their political or ethnic rivals and reward their allies; if the WikiLeaks disclosures put Afghans in danger, imagine what iris scans and fingerprints could mean for people who do not want to pay bribes to crooked cops

  • U.S. military personnel increasingly using biometric technology

    Since the Department of Defense implemented biometric identification technology, military personnel have seen benefits such as quickly identifying known terrorists, collecting intelligence on insurgent activities, and identifying former detainees the military had released

  • New smell sensor uses genetically engineered frog eggs

    Researchers use genetically engineered frog cells to develop a sensor that detects gasses; the researchers embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected, making it easier to observe

  • Report: Israel "planning strike on Hezbollah sites in Syria"

    Kuwaiti daily quotes unnamed Western sources to say that Israel has bolstered its military presence in the Golan and stepped up UAV, balloon overflights, in preparation for an attack on Hezbollah’s weapons storage facilities in Syria; since the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has been storing its more valuable rockets and missiles in facilities in Syria, figuring that Israel would think long and hard before attacking military storage facilities in Syria, even if these facilities are used to store Hezbollah’s armaments; if an Israeli attack takes place, it should be seen as part of the preparations for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities: in case of such an attack, Hezbollah would be instructed by Iran to launch the organization’s weapons against Israel, so Israel has an interest in weakening the organization’s military capabilities

  • Shape-shifting UAV for maritime search and rescue missions

    Use of morphing flight surfaces has enabled the development of a shape-shifting UAV that can operate in extreme weather conditions; cutting-edge avionics ensure a smooth flight for extended rescue and surveillance missions, while reducing risks to material and crews

  • Unmanned copter to deliver supplies to troops in forward positions

    The U.S. military will award Lockheed Martin a contract to build an unmanned helicopter which will deliver supplies to forward-positioned troops; in trials earlier this year, a prototype has shown that it can shift 3,000lb of cargo across 150 nautical miles in two flights within six hours — all without any input from ground operators other than specifying the destination and route

  • Unmanned helicopter enters restricted airspace after losing communication

    An MQ-8 Fire Scout lost communication with its operators and flew into restricted airspace around Washington, D.C.; typically during a lost communications event, an autonomous vehicle is preprogrammed based on its last waypoint to conduct certain activities, take a holding pattern, and wait for operators to reconnect; the Pentagon says: “We found a software anomaly that allowed aircraft not to follow its preprogrammed flight procedures”

  • Testing rayguns

    Technologies for using laser energy to destroy threats at a distance — these weapons known as directed energy weapons — have been in development for many years; before these weapons can be used in the field, the lasers must be tested and evaluated at test ranges, and the power and energy distribution of the high-energy laser beam must be accurately measured on a target board, with high spatial and temporal resolution