After Atlantis’ two-week mission, NASA will retire the Space Shuttle. Between the Shuttle’s retirement and the completion of the International Space Station in 2020, the U.S. faces a nine-year gap during which we’ll lack the ability to independently ferry astronauts into space. The Space Shuttle fit the textbook definition of government mismanagement. Envisioned as “routine and economical”, the finished product was neither.
This year, the Society for Information Display (SID) returned to Los Angeles for its annual Display Week conference. Apart from the weather, which mimicked last year’s Seattle venue, the show was a smashing success. This being Los Angeles, we had Hollywood royalty on display—visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner)discussed trends in production and exhibition technologies...
James Cameron is bestowing 3D upon us, whether we want it or not. Cameron has partnered with “Avatar” cameraman Vince Pace to form a venture aimed at “driving the widespread adoption of 3D technology in episodic television, sports and advertising.”
E3 2010: the mecca for gamers. Nintendo officially unveils the 3DS, and gamers everywhere swoon in fits of ecstasy. I finally try out Nintendo’s miracle handheld, and my impressions are…underwhelming. The mainstream gaming press was a bit less, shall we say, nuanced...
Responding to regional threats and the United States’ refusal to share F-22 technology, Japan is developing its own stealth fighter. The “land of the rising sun” intends to fly its first stealth fighter prototype by 2014. Japan and Israel have both expressed interest in the “air supremacy weapon”, the F-22 Raptor.
The U.S. Army is set to deploy a “revolutionary” airburst grenade launcher, said to be the first small arms “smart” weapon. Described as a “game changer,” the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System (CDTE) could fundamentally transform squad and platoon tactics. Most firefights in Afghanistan take place beyond 300 meters (often up to 500 meters).
In a rare admission of defeat, an Al-Qaida leader in Pakistan conceded that drones are costing fighters and denying the terror network safe havens. This speaks to the continued success of the “drone war”, and will undoubtedly spur proponents of the F-35. According to Ustadh Ahmad Farooq, “There were many areas where we once had freedom, but now they have been lost,” he said.
To paraphrase David Farragut, damn the sales figures; full speed ahead! If CES 2011 signaled anything, it was the industry’s intent on shoving 3D down our throats. The most vocal proponent, Sony, claims they’ll “lead the industry’s charge for 3D.” Yet for the industry, it’s more like a holy crusade.
China held the first test flight of its fifth-generation J-20 fighter today. Lifting off at 12:50:08 local time (04:50:08 GMT), the Chengdu J-20 recorded a flight time of about 18 minutes. This can’t be overstated—the J-20 could seriously alter the balance of power in the Pacific. When Secretary Gates capped the F-22 Raptor at 187 planes, it was based on the presumption that the era of conventional warfare was over.
The Navy made history on December 18 when it launched its first rollercoaster, er, aircraft, using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) technology. The F/A-18 Super Hornet, piloted by Lt. Daniel Radocaj, was launched from Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J.
We keep hearing about it—the “all-digital future”: easier, more convenient, no need to drive to the store. Download all the content you want instantly. Thus, iTunes, OnLive, Steam, and various other services were born. But this convenience bears a steep price. In our rush to embrace the all-digital future, we’ve sacrificed fundamental property rights.
It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about Jolly ‘Ol Saint Nick, mistletoe, or trees with stars on top. ‘Tis the season for giving, but also for spoiling ourselves with the latest gadgets, gizmos, toys, and entertainment. We’re never too old to experience the joy of opening presents!
The U.S. military wants its next-generation RPVs to be more survivable in “contested airspace.” At a breakfast with reporters in DC, Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove (the Air Force’s chief of operations, plans and requirements) noted the MQ-9 Reaper’s shortcomings, and stressed the need for tougher, more durable RPVs.
At the recent Association of the U.S. Army conference in D.C., Lockheed Martin showcased its Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), the defense giant’s answer to Raytheon’s XOS-2 exoskeleton (the “Real Iron Man Suit”). That’s right: it’s HULC vs. Iron Man.
A report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls Canada’s planned procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter “fundamentally flawed.” According to the CCPA, “Canada does not need the F-35, either for North American/domestic roles or for expeditionary roles.”
Coinciding with the release of Iron Man 2 on Blu-Ray/DVD, Raytheon unveiled a real-life wearable robotic suit. The second-generation exoskeleton (XOS 2) purportedly is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Before one conjures Sci-Fi fantasies of space marines, it’s worth pointing out what the XOS 2 is not—it isn’t a futuristic robotic battle suit.
The 9th Circuit of Appeals has reaffirmed the right of software companies to circumvent the first-sale doctrine by “licensing” rather then “selling” its products. The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated—it could singlehandedly destroy the used software market.
Weaponized versions of the MQ-1C “Grey Eagle” Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) will begin deploying to Afghanistan in the fall. Formerly known as the Sky Warrior, Grey Eagle is the Army’s answer to the Predator. In recent tests at the National Training Center, the Grey Eagle’s on-board laser designator performed flawlessly.
The Consumer Electronics industry is already discussing glasses-free 3D televisions. But for Airmen monitoring drone feeds, they’re forced to stare at grainy, SD video. Yet according to a piece in the Air Force Times, the times they are a-changin’—the military may soon have HD cameras on drones.
Lockheed Martin announced that it had received a $111.4 million contract modification from the U.S. Air Force for the 2010 Follow-On Agile Sustainment for the Raptor (FASTeR) sustainment contract. FASTeR entails support for the F-22 fleet, including training systems, customer support, integrated support planning, supply chain management, aircraft modifications and heavy maintenance...
As reported by Defense Talk, Israel has agreed to purchase 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal worth an estimated 2.75 billion dollars. At $96 million a piece, this would be the most expensive weapons deal ever signed by Israel. As the Swiss Army Knife of fighter jets, and the bulwark of the free world for the next 40 years (not to sound hyperbolic)...
Wired has a piece discussing the Air Force Research Laboratory’s experiments with motion sense technology. Using a device similar to Nintendo’s “Power Glove”, the folks over at Wright Patterson AFB feel that “gesture recognition” can help fly planes. According to the labs, “Warfighter productivity is limited by the need to operate equipment via physical keys, switches, and buttons...
The feds have just dropped a bomb: The Library of Congress has added exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that make “jailbreaking” legal. Apart from fundamentally altering Apple’s business model, the ruling has re-opened the schism between supporters and opponents of digital rights management.
Back in December, we reported on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spaceship. Christened the VSS Enterprise, the vessel is a sub-orbital spacecraft capable of ferrying two pilots and six passengers into the thermosphere (an apogee of about 110 km). On July 15th, the Enterprise completed its first crewed flight.
For proof that unmanned systems represent the future of warfare, check out BAE Systems’ new Unmanned Combat Aircraft System (UCAS), Taranis. Resembling something out of The Terminator, Taranis (named after the Celtic God of Thunder) is a sight to behold.