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India’s Rustom UAV up for final approval

June 4, 2010 11:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

According to LiveFist, India’s Rustom UAV has reached the government's apex Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for final financial approval. The medium altitude long endurance (MALE) drone is being developed for the Indian Army, Air Force, and Navy, and will carry out surveillance up to 250 km (155 miles) away.

A remarkable display: SID 2010

June 2, 2010 12:46 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Seattle: home of Microsoft, Starbucks, grunge rock, the Mariners, and in 2010, the Society for Information Display (SID) Conference. This year’s show was a remarkable display (no pun intended) of eye candy and emerging technologies. Among the many developments, 3D, energy efficiency, and advanced touchscreens took center stage.

U.K. Reapers surpass 10,000 hours over Afghanistan

May 21, 2010 8:03 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Our cousins across the pond have achieved an historic milestone: the RAF’s Reaper program logged more than 10,000 hours over Afghanistan. In-theater since October 2007, the Reaper is the only Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) operated by the U.K.

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EOD system fires pencil-sized rockets at IEDs

May 18, 2010 6:45 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Imagine how much cooler “The Hurt Locker” would’ve been if they had this: Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has developed an EOD system that fires ‘pencil-size’ rockets at suspected IEDs. You read that right—it fires rockets at improvised explosive devices; this would’ve made for quite the different movie.

PS3 firmware update could cripple Air Force research program

May 13, 2010 12:03 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Last month, Sony essentially neutered the PlayStation 3 by removing its “Install Other OS” functionality. This precipitated a huge customer backlash (and, as of this writing, at least two class-action lawsuits), but there’s one foe Sony hadn’t anticipated—the United States Air Force.

Wireless energy transfer for UAVs

May 5, 2010 8:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Lasers have been described as the “holy grail” of weapons—who wouldn't want to be like Luke Skywalker? But while researchers have pondered everything from “pain rays” to the “Zeus” anti-IED system, the folks over at LaserMotive are pushing something else entirely—power beaming for UAVs.

Through-wall radar aids in urban operations

May 4, 2010 6:05 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In 2007, SSG David Bellavia released the most poignant memoir of the Iraq War, “House to House.” The title is significant, because house-to-house fighting is among the most dangerous forms of urban warfare. Camero may have a solution with the Xaver 400, a compact through-wall radar.

Air Force launches unmanned orbital test vehicle

April 23, 2010 8:02 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Last night, at 7:52 PM, the Air Force launched its X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) on a classified mission that could last up to nine months. The unmanned orbiter is designed to be reusable, though exact details remain classified. Launched atop an Atlas V rocket, the X-37B resembles a mini Space Shuttle.

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Whither thou goest, Space Shuttle?

April 21, 2010 12:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Oh Space Shuttle, thou noblest of space-faring, low-Earth-orbiting vehicles, we hardly knew ye. Compared to the Apollo program, you were but a minor diversion—a minor, 30 year diversion. Proponents claimed you’d make space travel “routine and economical,” though you proved to be neither. And yet, your long-overdue retirement leaves a major void.

Navy upholds ban on flash media

April 9, 2010 5:53 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

To follow up on an earlier story, the US Navy has maintained the ban on flash media. Notwithstanding the official “lifting” of the ban, Navy officials consider flash media too risky. Sailors who violate the policy could have their account access terminated for 30 days.

Solar-powered craft aims for perpetual flight

April 8, 2010 6:03 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The solar-powered Impulse HB-SIA completed its maiden voyage on Wednesday. The 90-minute flight reached an altitude of 5,500 feet, over a mile above the Swiss countryside, with an average speed of 44 mph (70 kph). This is the first step towards an ambitious goal: travel around the world by 2012.

Will the United States lose its air supremacy?

April 2, 2010 9:26 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The announcement of Russia’s newest fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi PAK FA, stunned the world. To put it succinctly, the “Future Frontline Aircraft System” is a game-changer. Its closest rival is the F-22 Raptor, and yet production on the United States’ premier air-superiority fighter has been scrapped in favor of the F-35. Are we repeating the mistakes of the past?

Lockheed Martin tests precision-guided missile system

March 31, 2010 9:56 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Lockheed Martin has successfully tested a tri-mode seeker for its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) system. The advent of “Fourth Generation Warfare” has put renewed emphasis on reducing collateral damage. Thus, precision weapons systems have taken on prime importance.

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DARPA fields small arms detection system for helos

March 25, 2010 7:39 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a system that will assist helicopter crews in pinpointing the source of small arms fire. HALTT uses advanced acoustic detection and data processing to “exploit the supersonic shock wave produced by a bullet in flight.” In other words, it would detect the “snap,” “hiss,” or “crack” of a bullet.

UK military incorporates Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers

March 24, 2010 10:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has purchased Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers (VRPT) for the Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. The contract with Gloucestershire-based Pennant Training Systems Limited is for the design, manufacture, and installation of eight Virtual Trainers.

Army goes “green” with electric vehicles

March 23, 2010 8:17 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Fort Sam Houston received 20 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) in January as part of a larger plan to replace petroleum-based DoD vehicles with more “energy-efficient” transportation. The Army plans on replacing up to 28,000 gas-powered ground support vehicles with electric vehicles at more than 155 Army installations worldwide.  

France obtains micro UAVs

March 22, 2010 6:43 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The French Special Forces Command is now equipped with an unspecified number of Skylark 1 and Wasp Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The French Armament Procurement Agency (Direction générale de l'armement, DGA) made the handoff on March 8th...

Indian Army develops chili grenade

March 19, 2010 10:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Now here’s some news tailor-made for a Friday: the Indian Army is developing a “chili grenade.” Packed with bhut jolokia peppers (aka the world’s hottest chili pepper), these special grenades will be used as non-lethal munition. Check your calendars, folks. It isn’t April 1st yet.

Do gamers make better soldiers?

March 17, 2010 5:54 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Findings by the Office of Naval Research indicate that video games improve overall perceptual and cognitive abilities. While nothing new—the claim is nearly as old as Pac-Man, the irregular warfare we face today makes it more relevant than ever. Since Pong, video games have been castigated for everything from school truancy, to school shootings, to even global warming.

Army to hit one million unmanned flight hours

March 10, 2010 12:30 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Traditionally pegged as a ground force, the Army is approaching an historic milestone: one million flight hours for its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). According to COL Christopher Carlile, director, U.S. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence, the Army will hit one million UAS flight hours some time next month.

Video games and the military: Engaging the “tech generation”

March 9, 2010 9:10 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

For good or ill, the military is often indistinguishable from a large corporation. While “employees” must conform to the company’s modus operandi, the company must engage its employees on their terms. In this day and age, that means technology. Thus, the military increasingly relies on video games and computers to recruit and train its “employees.”

Officers warned about UAV vulnerabilities in 2004

February 19, 2010 4:12 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The revelation that insurgents had hacked US drones came as shocking news. What’s more, they did so using $26 off-the-shelf software (SkyGrabber). Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that senior officers knew about the security risk five years ago. According to a report in the Journal, senior officers warned in 2004 of the drones’ vulnerabilities.

Air Force taps Space Micro to develop software defined radio for satellites

February 19, 2010 4:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Space Micro Inc. has been awarded $100,000 by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop a software-defined radio system for military satellites. The Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract is to develop space communications hardware that is resistant to radiation.

Outsourcing the ''final frontier''

February 18, 2010 12:31 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The proposed 2011 NASA Budget takes human spaceflight in a bold new direction. Along with scuttling the Constellation Program, and investing in heavy-lift rocket systems, the proposal leans heavily on the private sector. The International Space Station received clemency through at least 2020, and with the Space Shuttle retiring in 2010, the US will need reliable means of orbital transportation.

Military lifts ban on flash media

February 18, 2010 11:24 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Two years ago, DOD banned all “flash media” devices in an effort to contain the “Agent.btz” computer virus. In 2009, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I do not see the thumb drives going back here in the immediate future.” Yet a year later (nearly to the day), the ban has been lifted.

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