• BAE develops vehicles for ground war of the future

    A range of technologies could improve the effectiveness and fuel efficiency of current military vehicles, while laying the groundwork for future fighting vehicles; BAE looked at 567 technologies and 244 vehicle concepts, which had to fit only two criteria — the vehicle could weigh no more than 30 tons, and had to carry an equivalent punch to a Challenger 2 tank; the company settled on seven future vehicles

  • General Atomic says its Blitzer rail gun already "tactically relevant"

    Last Friday the U.S. Navy tested a rail gun with muzzle energies of 64 megajoules; the gun aims to deliver a projectile to a target 200 miles away at speeds of up to Mach 7+; not to be outdone, General Atomics has just released information about how, back in September, it tested its own rail gun — dubbed the Blitzer; while the Navy researchers are still preoccupied with the velocity of the projectile and muzzle energy, GA says it is farther along in weaponizing its system, which it describes as already “tactically relevant”

  • DoE report warns of U.S. vulnerability to China's rare-earth supplies

    A U.S. Department of Energy report draws attention to the need to diversify the supply of rare Earth metals needed for clean technology and defense; China currently supplies 97 percent of the world’s rare Earth elements; the largest U.S. producer of rare earths last week announced a $130 million funding deal with Japanese company Sumitomo that promises the financier “substantial quantities of rare-earth products”

  • U.S. Navy demonstrates 100-mile hypersonic rail gun test shot

    The latest test by the U.S. Navy of a rail gun saw a trial firing which pushed muzzle energy to a blistering 33 megajoules (MJ); the Navy wants to achieve lab trials at 64 MJ, potentially offering 200 mile range with projectiles striking at Mach 5, before trying to build an actual weapon

  • U.S. Army envisions an XM-25 smart gunner in every squad from 2014

    U.S. military unveils XM-25 portable airburst artillery piece plans; the XM-25 shoots special, fat 25 mm projectiles which are more or less a cross between ordinary rifle bullets and 40 mm launched grenades; the XM-25 rounds have an added special feature: an extremely accurate time fuse which is set electronically by the gun’s systems at the moment of firing, permitting them to explode in midair at a precise distance from the muzzle

  • Ray gun runs at full power for six hours

    Laser weapons are potentially very powerful, but until now they had one major drawback: All the earlier versions of the weapon were essentially giant rocket engines that burned chemical fuels and reached impressive powers; some even shot down test missiles; all of them, however, only ran for seconds at a time, and needed special fuels that would have created nightmares for battlefield logistics; a new Northrop Grumman ray gun has now run at full power for more than six hours

  • USAF looking to emulate fruit-flies for killer insect swarm drones

    The U.S. Air Force is studying how fruit flies maneuver within a heavily instrumented “simulation tunnel” in order to develop tiny, potentially lethal insect-sized flying robots; tiny military swarm droids could scatter across towns or cities to locate or spy on persons of interest to the U.S. military; they might even be able to land on the back of someone’s neck and blow his head off using some kind of tiny warhead

  • U.S. Air Force creates powerful supercomputer out of PS3s

    The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has connected 1,760 PlayStation 3 systems together to create the fastest interactive computer in the entire Defense Department; the Condor Cluster, as the group of systems is known, is capable of performing 500 trillion floating point operations per second (500 TFLOPS)

  • Color-changing "blast badge" detects exposure to explosive shock waves

    Researchers develop a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers’ helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field; blast-induced traumatic brain injury is the “signature wound” of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; with no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers with brain injury may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon

  • Advanced UAVs help war on terrorism -- and companies' bottom line

    Ever-more sophisticated UAVs giving U.S. better eyes, ears, and even noses; new sensors enable flying drones to listen in on cell phone conversations and pinpoint the location of the caller on the ground; some can even “smell” the air and sniff out chemical plumes emanating from a potential underground nuclear laboratory; these advances mean a growing and potentially huge business for the defense industry: the drone electronics industry now generates about $3 billion in revenue, but this is expected to double to $6 billion in the next eight years

  • Game-changing rifle arrives in Afghanistan

    A new smart rifle can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition does not explode on impact; instead, it can be set to detonate either in front of or behind a target, meaning it literally will go through a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy; the Army says that enemy soldier can run, but they can no longer hide

  • DARPA looking for a game interface to end all interfaces

    A soldier in the field has his or her hands and voice fully taken up managing their weapons, sensors, and communications; DARPA wants to help: the Pentagon’s push-the-envelope research unit asks for idea on how to develop an interface which would allow soldiers to run, leap, or otherwise navigate about virtually without needing to do so physically

  • Unmanned ships to track hostile subs

    A U.S. military plan to build a crewless, automated robo-frigate which could trail hostile submarines across the oceans for months without supervision; the need for such a system arises because the next-generation air independent propulsion (AIP) submarine technology is spreading beyond Western-aligned nations; these subs could run submerged for thousands of miles

  • A first: Tiny chihuahua set to join Japan police

    Japan is an earthquake prone country; the police in the city of Nara, in western Japan, had an idea: train a tiny Chihuahua to become a search-and-rescue dog; the dog is set to become part of a search-and-rescue team used for disasters; its small size means it will be able to squeeze into places too narrow for dogs such as German Shepherds

  • Non-lethal device deters hostile divers

    Hostile divers may be deterred from approaching U.S. Navy ships, sea ports, off-shore oil rigs, and other infrastructure facilities with an acoustic device that overwhelms them with the amplified sound of their own breath; the device generates low frequency underwater sound that interferes with breathing, induces disorientation, panic, uncontrolled ascent to surface, and decompression sickness