• Army spends $50M for translation app that is already available

    This year the Pentagon has set aside nearly $50 million for the development of a sophisticated smartphone translation app that would allow troops in Afghanistan to translate Pastho and Dari; but some troops have already begun using the SpeechTrans app to translate Arabic which can be downloaded on any iPhone or iPad for less than $20, and the New Jersey based company is hard at work on an Afghan language edition of its app; one defense analyst questions the need to spend millions on research when “good enough” technology is already available, especially in light of congressional efforts to cut the deficit

  • New rifle sighting system dramatically improves accuracy

    Crosshairs automatically adjust for conditions in real time; a fiber-optic laser-based sensor system automatically corrects for even tiny barrel disruptions; the system, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL), precisely measures the deflection of the barrel relative to the sight and then electronically makes the necessary corrections; the new sensor is 250 times better than that of traditional crosshairs, which can be manually adjusted by one-fourth minutes of angle; the ORNL sensor can sense angular displacement and shift the reticle (crosshairs) by 1/1,000th of a minute of angle

  • Chips may sabotage hi-tech weapons

    Countries producing sophisticated weapon systems do not want these systems to fall into the wrong hands; one idea is to plant a chip in these weapons which would allow the country that supplied them to destroy or disable them remotely; already there are worries that with chip manufacturing moving outside the United States, foreign powers may bribe or coerce chip manufacturers into planting “backdoor” circuits in chips these manufacturers sell American defense contractors

  • U.S. Army surveillance blimp destroyed in accident

    The U.S. military wants to place powerful sensors on blimps, and have these blimps loiter the sky above the battlefield; the sensors, produced by Raytheon, will enable battlefield commanders to increase their wide-area protection against land-attack cruise missiles; last September, two blimps moored next to each other in the Elizabeth City, North Carolina manufacturing facility, collided after one of them almost got loose; the cost to the Army: $168 million

  • U.S. to reconsider use of drones in Pakistan

    In the last twenty-four months, U.S. drones have killed some 1,000 militants — but also about 600 civilians; in an effort to shore up fraying relationship with Pakistan, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan said the United States would examine the continued use of drones in the war against the militants; Pakistani prime minister Asif Ali Zardari said the drone war has destabilized Pakistan and made political and economic reforms more difficult to accomplish

  • Rebels may sell missiles to finance campaign

    In a congressional testimony, General Carter Ham, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, underscored the threat from shoulder-fired missiles looted from Libyan arms depots; Gen. Ham estimated that 20,000 of these missiles may have been in Libya at the time of the uprising; carried and fired by a single fighter, these missiles travel at supersonic speeds from a shoulder-fired launcher toward the heat signature of an aircraft engine, where they detonate

  • Hi-tech goggles to reduce number of friendly fire incidents

    The modern battle-field is saturated with autonomous, remotely controlled platforms and weapons, and everything moves very fast; in addition, many of the engagements take place in close quarters; all these increase the risk of friendly fire; DARPA wants a small New York company to develop augmented reality goggles which will tell soldiers on the ground which air assets are nearby, bearing which weapons, thus resulting in more accurate destruction of enemy assets, less risk to friendly forces, and fewer civilian deaths

  • New Zealand company to offer personal jet packs

    A New Zealand company has successfully tested a jet pack, and will soon make it commercially available for about £50,000; in tests, the pack, which weighs less than 254 pounds, traveled 30 miles in 30 minutes on a full tank of fuel; it reached heights of up to 2,400 meters and top speeds of 60 mph; the company said the pack could be perfect for the emergency services, private users, and even the military

  • Portable military barriers help Canadian city in flood fight

    Canada is using a new technology to prevent flood damage in Manitoba; the one-meter-square wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud; they can also be linked for a long row that can be set up far quicker than it takes to sling sandbags; the barriers have been used by the U.S. military to protect embassies from terrorist attacks, and have also been used for flood protection in the United States

  • OSU chemist developing solution to nerve agent exposure

    Scientists are working to develop a new drug that will regenerate a critical enzyme in the human body that “ages” after a person is exposed to deadly chemical warfare agents; the drug will counter the effects of Tabun, VX, VR, Sarin, Soman, Cyclosarin, and Paraoxon, all of which take on a similar molecular structure upon aging

  • Spray-on explosives detector

    A chemist at Oklahoma State University has developed a spray-on material that detects explosives made from peroxides and renders them harmless; the material is a type of ink that contains nanoparticles of a compound of molybdenum. The ink changes color, from dark blue to pale yellow or clear, in the presence of explosives

  • Short-range missile tracking satellite demonstrated

    There are two weapons the weak can employ against the strong: the first is terror; the second are rockets and short range missiles; to operate rockets and short range missiles, though, the weaker side must be in control of some territory and must have a state ready to supply it with these more advanced weapon systems; Hezbollah (in May 2000) and Hamas (in June 2007) came into control of territory, and are being supplied by Iran and Syria with missiles and rockets; Israel last Sunday deployed the first batteries of its Iron Dome short-range missile defense; the United States is not lagging far behind

  • Three dolphins found dead after U.S. Navy training exercise

    Three dolphins died this month during a U.S. Navy training exercise using underwater explosives near the San Diego County coast; environmentalists have argued that the Navy’s sonar exercises can deafen and even kill whales and other marine life; the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military in 2008

  • Israel unveils Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system

    Israel on Sunday stationed the first batteries of its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system in the south of the country; the military stressed the initial deployment was experimental; after being deployed in the south, the system will then be deployed along the Lebanese border, from where Hezbollah militants fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war; the most obvious and immediate benefit of the defensive system would be the de-fanging of the two more radical groups in the region, Hezbollah and Hamas; the system, though, is more significant in what it will allow Israel to do vis-à-vis the Palestinians: if the same rockets Hamas is firing at Israel from the Gaza Strip were to be fired from the West Bank, all of Israel’s population and economic centers will be under threat; if Iron Dome proved effective, it would make it easier for Israel to consider deep withdrawals from the West Bank, thus allowing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state without compromising Israeli security

  • Lockheed developing autonomous and covert rover

    A surveillance robot aims to operate around humans without being detected by them; the machine uses a laser scanner to builds a 3D computer model of its surroundings and uses a set of acoustic sensors to distinguish the proximity and direction of footsteps