• Crash of UAV copter with foliage-penetrating radar sheds light on secret program

    Two emerging security challenges to the United States — the growing violence of the drug war south of the border, and growing concerns about climate change-driven conflicts in Africa and Asia — have led DARPA to fund the development of technology that will allow U.S. special forces to see through the dense canopy of a jungle; the recent crash, during trials, in the jungle of Belize of a Boeing A160T equipped with foliage-penetrating radar sheds some light on this programs; spokesman of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) said more than 90 percent of the objectives of the Belize trials had been met when the crash terminated the effort

  • Sandia Labs developed an IED-disabling water-blade device

    A device developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers that shoots a blade of water capable of penetrating steel is headed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help them disable deadly IEDs; the portable clear plastic device is filled with water and an explosive material is placed in it that, when detonated, creates a shock wave that travels through the water and accelerates it inward into a concave opening; when the water collides, it produces a thin blade

  • New helmets to make soldiers more alert, reduce stress, pain

    New helmet to enhance U.S. soldiers’ cognitive abilities, improving long-term alertness, and reducing stress, anxiety, and pain; DARPA-funded research looking to equip helmets with noninvasive technology for “transcranial pulsed ultrasound,” which can remotely stimulate brain circuits

  • EMP threat to U.S. should be kept in perspective

    In 1962 the United States conducted a high-altitude nuclear test above Johnston Island, 825 miles southwest of Hawaii; detonated 400 kilometers above the island, the resulting nuclear blast knocked out street lights across Hawaii and tripped circuit breakers, triggered burglar alarms, and damaged a telecommunications relay facility on the island of Kauai; could terrorist, or a nuclear-armed rogue state, launch an EMP Pearl Harbor against the United States?

  • Israel, Russia in joint venture to develop UAVs

    There may be political tensions between Russia and Israel, but military cooperation is tightening; the two countries have agreed to form a joint venture to develop and produce UAVs, and signed a military cooperation agreement, paving the way for more cooperation in the fields of unmanned systems, counter terrorism, and asymmetric, urban warfare

  • 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