• Huge jump in IED attacks in Afghanistan

    Monthly IED “incidents” in Afghanistan — incidents are defined as IEDs placed by insurgents and either found or detonated — from January 2004 to April 2010 has risen dramatically; data shows that an astounding jump in IED incidents occurred beginning summer 2009 — coinciding with the Marine offensive in the Helmand River Valley — and IED attacks have steadily mounted; there were more than 1,000 IED incidents during March, April, and May of this year; one expert says: data shows “that IEDs have become the equivalent of the Stinger [during the mujahedin war against the USSR in the 1980s] in allowing irregular forces to pose a major threat even to the most advanced military forces in the world”

  • UAVs fail to penetrate India's dense forests to track Maoist militants

    Indian security forces, battling the militants of the Naxals Maoist group, say that UAVs which perform well in the deserts of Iraq and the barren mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are useless in the densely forested areas of eastern India; Indian security experts say that issues concerning internal security in the country have now reached the board room of Indian business companies and that the new technology these companies produce should be able to meet the specific needs of Indian security forces rather than offer something which is not applicable to Indian conditions

  • Snake-like robots dispose of IEDs

    Snakes are flexible, and they can crawl, slither, swim, climb, or shimmy through narrow spaces; the U.S. military wants to emulate these characteristics in snake-like robots that can replace soldiers in dangerous search and rescue missions, surveillance operations, and IED disposal

  • Wikileaks case exposes security vulnerabilities of the digital age

    Massive leak of documents to Wikileaks highlights the security challenges of the digital age, when gigabytes of stolen data can be shared in one click; the digital communications revolution, while bringing huge benefits to society overall, also raised security concerns; the proliferation of digital media and social software is going to increase the risks of similar leaks happening; one expert says: the Pentagon, like any organization, is going to have “bad actors” — insiders who turn against their employer — “but now it’s a lot easier for them to do things like this”

  • Stealth overcoat hides military equipment

    BAE developed “stealth coating” for military vehicles; the coating makes vehicles and equipment in the field much harder to spot not only visually, but also offers vehicles and equipment protection against detection by radar and thermal imaging devices

  • Sending power wirelessly through inches of steel

    Submarines are made of very thick steel; this keeps them safe, but makes communication and data collection from sensors difficult; currently, 300 holes have to be drilled in a submarine hull to accommodate the sensors and communications technology the vessel requires; researchers develop a way to transmit power wirelessly through several inches of steel — which will allow submarines to communicate without an expensive hole-and-valve system; the technology will also be useful for the nuclear and oil industries

  • U.S. Air Force's Technology Horizons highlights service's futuristic plans

    U.S. Air Force scientists intend to maintain the service’s superiority in 2020, 2030, and beyond; Technology Horizons, unveiled last week, outlines the Air Force’s major science and technology objectives through the next decade; highly adaptable, autonomous systems that can make intelligent decisions about their battle space capabilities and human-machine brainwave coupling interfaces are but two significant technologies discussed in the document

  • 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