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Russian official: The US should use trampolines to get to space

April 30, 2014 9:45 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Back when Russia first began “acquiring” Ukraine, NASA immediately cut all ties with the Slavic republic, except for efforts related to the International Space Station (the US relies on Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS). And now, after a fresh round of US sanctions, a Russian defense official has a helpful suggestion — the US should use trampolines to get into space....

Think tank: Russian stealth fighter is superior to the F-35

April 23, 2014 1:00 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Air Power Australia is no fan of the F-35. Let’s get that out of the way. For years, they’ve been panning the Joint Strike Fighter, praising the F-22, and warning about emerging threats from Russia and China — threats that could best the F-35 in single combat....

Is this solar-powered airplane the future of green travel?

April 22, 2014 9:47 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The Solar Impulse team is at it again! This is the team that flew the first solar-powered plane capable of flying around the clock coast-to-coast across the United States in 2013. They just unveiled that plane’s successor, the aptly named Solar Impulse 2, which has an even greater destiny for 2015: to circumnavigate the globe....

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Astronaut pee could help get us to Mars

April 21, 2014 8:16 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Urine, made up of more than 95% water, is one of the cleanest fluids in the human body. And on a protracted space mission lasting more than a year (one-way) — to Mars, for example — that fact becomes critically important....

Solar-powered plane can "fly forever"

April 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Aviation pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg — who previously had circumnavigated the globe in a balloon — plan to make history again with the Solar Impulse 2, which will undertake the first solar-powered flight around the world....

Photos of the Day: The amazing, foldable V-22 Osprey

April 15, 2014 8:18 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

Consider this an “oldie but goodie.” The V-22 Osprey is the world’s first production tiltrotor aircraft. It’s also capable of both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL). But one of the Osprey’s coolest features is its ability to fold its rotors back for compact storage capabilities....

Watch a V-22 Osprey fold itself for storage

April 14, 2014 3:07 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 It’s pretty crazy to think that a huge aircraft with an 85’ foot wingspan is possible of folding itself up to reduce the amount of space it occupies on a massive ship. Yet, the V-22 Osprey does just that. This video is a little dated—it was taken in 2010 at Nellis Airforce Base in Las Vegas....

Military plans to use drones as flying Wi-Fi hotspots

April 11, 2014 10:38 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

For civilians, a dearth of Wi-Fi is a minor inconvenience. First-world problems. But for our troops in the field, a lack of connectivity can kill you. No connection means no close-air support and no reinforcements. Hence the military’s push to turn drones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots....

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Keep politics off of the space station

April 7, 2014 8:37 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

When the Ukraine v. Russia (winner gets Crimea) battle began, one of the first things I said was, “Man, I bet it’s super awkward in space right now.” While Russian and U.S. relations have never been great, there hasn’t been an international issue to this degree between the two countries in quite some time.

How Russia ended up with Ukraine’s dolphin army

April 2, 2014 7:22 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

There have been many interesting political and social ramifications to the Soviet Union’s — I mean, Russia’s — attempted annexation of Crimea, but let’s talk about what everyone is really concerned with: Who will get custody of the Ukraine’s dolphin army? (For the record, this is not an April Fool’s joke.)

TSA deploys drones to watch you from space

April 1, 2014 8:47 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Citing the ongoing domestic terrorist threat (aka, the “most dire threat to national security since Grandma Betty at the airport”), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed a fleet of drones with the ability to destroy dangerous contraband like baby formula and remotely monitor “shady individuals” like 10-year-olds and grandparents....

Photos of the Day: The half-drone, half-satellite StratoBus

March 31, 2014 8:22 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

A project known as StratoBus has emerged from Thales in France. StratoBus totes the potential of precise, autonomous observation and communications assistance, and the first prototype from Thales is expected in the next five years. The autonomous airship operating at an altitude of about 20 km....

Airships are making a comeback

March 17, 2014 9:25 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Hopefully this comeback is a little less explosive than the Hindenburg’s reputation. A UK design firm recently unveiled the Airlander, a football field-sized airship that they hope will become the new standard for transportation — not of passengers, but of supplies.

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New jet-powered UAV is the future of asymmetrical warfare

March 5, 2014 8:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

While politicians and privacy advocates squabble over regulations for domestic drones, General Atomics has been hard at work developing the next unmanned terror of the skies for America’s foreign adversaries. Meet the Predator C Avenger, the future of asymmetrical warfare.

Photos of the Day: The AirMule UAV flying donkey

March 3, 2014 9:09 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

Proving that looks aren’t everything, the AirMule UAV, developed by Israel’s Urban Aeronautics, is designed for cargo transport, medical evac, and troop supply missions. The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV was unveiled in 2008, completed its maiden flight in 2010, and is scheduled for deployment this year.

Navy's laser weapon is thwarted by Mother Nature

February 21, 2014 8:13 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sci-Fi geeks rejoice — the U.S. Navy’s shipboard laser weapon will deploy this summer. *Cue John Williams soundtrack* But the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) — while dirt-cheap to operate — is hamstrung by Mother Nature: Inclement weather — plus a host of other conditions — could limit its effectiveness. Bummer....

Photos of the Day: The Taranis Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle demonstrator

February 14, 2014 8:01 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

The BAE Systems Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is being billed as the most advanced British aircraft ever built. The Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator will be a semi-autonomous stealth vehicle capable of striking intercontinental targets.

3D-printed drones: The future of warfare?

February 13, 2014 9:46 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

It’s like learning about the newest celebrity couple. The only difference is that you won’t read about this development in the tabloids. The United States didn’t really need any more incentive to outdo other countries in military technology, but 3D printing is an attractive avenue to further enhance our growing preference for drone warfare.

Chemical weapons: Then and now

February 4, 2014 1:47 pm | by Steven Pike, Managing Director of Argon Electronics | Blogs | Comments

Sadly, human history offers all too many examples of how chemical weapons can be used to devastating effect. The employment of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) dates back to at least as far as 1000 BC, when the Chinese used arsenical smokes as weapons.

The F-35 is "a failure waiting to happen"

February 4, 2014 1:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s an oldie but goodie. Last year, Four Corners — an Australian current affairs program — did an expose on the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and their conclusions were ... none-too complimentary. Like their American counterparts, Australia is pursuing a one-size-fits all solution....

How Boeing converted F-16s into unmanned aerial targets

January 17, 2014 4:45 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Boeing test pilot Jason Clements goes through final flight checks in the cockpit of an F-16. He makes sure all his switches are set, the throttle is free and clear, and the lights are on. Clements does a final radio check, and the jet is ready for takeoff. He then steps out of the cockpit and closes the canopy via remote switch. The F-16 takes off with no human occupant. What in the world just happened?

From General to CEO: One man’s journey from the battlefield to the boardroom

December 23, 2013 12:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

I’m proud to work in an industry with such a disproportionately high number of military veterans. Many of our colleagues previously served the nation with honor and distinction, trading ACUs for business suits and M4s for fountain pens. Case in point: Steve Sargeant, CEO of Marvin Test Solutions, formerly a Major General with the United States Air Force.

We finally have drones with "frickin’ laser beams"

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Dr. Evil would be proud. Lasers have always been the next frontier (some would say pipe dream) of weapons development. But recent developments have brought Sci-Fi closer to reality. And now this — the Pentagon has awarded a total of $26 million to defense contractors to develop a laser countermeasures system for manned and unmanned aircraft.

This hypersonic Blackbird can launch weapons from space

November 4, 2013 3:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In aviation, it doesn’t get more chic than the SR-71 Blackbird, the Rolls Royce of the sky. From 1964 till its retirement in 1998, this supersonic, Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft played a crucial role in the Cold War (and afterward) for over three decades. But ever since the Blackbird went to the Boca Raton of the skies, aviation buffs have been pining for a successor. And now they have one. And it’s glorious.

F-35 successfully targets aerial drone (is still a moneypit)

November 1, 2013 11:28 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

The F-35 Lightning II program, which surpassed 10,000 flight hours in September, has another reason to celebrate today. On October 31, the F-35A, a 5th generation fighter, successfully launched an AIM-120 radar-seeking missile from the internal weapons bay. 

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