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Retirement of Shuttle leaves void in manned space program

July 7, 2011 11:20 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

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.

Fake parts in U.S. military

June 21, 2011 12:44 pm | Videos | Comments

A new study shows nearly 40% of the U.S. military's supply chain is made up of counterfeit parts.

Japan announces domestic stealth fighter

March 8, 2011 12:18 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

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Unmanned Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS-D First Flight

February 7, 2011 3:23 am | Videos | Comments

A Northrop Grumman video of the Feb 4 first flight of the US Navy's X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator from Edwrads AFB, Calif.

Army to deploy “revolutionary” smart weapon

February 3, 2011 9:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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).

Al-Qaida leader: Drone strikes costing fighters, territory

January 27, 2011 8:52 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Chinese fifth-gen fighter shatters U.S. illusions

January 11, 2011 9:56 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Navy launches first aircraft using electromagnetic system

December 23, 2010 5:57 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

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Air Force wants tougher, ''more survivable'' drones

November 8, 2010 4:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Lockheed Martin showcases incredible “HULC”

November 1, 2010 5:46 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Canada gets cold feet over F-35

October 19, 2010 9:53 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.”

Raytheon unveils wearable exoskeleton suit

September 28, 2010 12:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

“Grey Eagle” UAS to deploy to Afghanistan

September 8, 2010 7:58 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

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Drones to be equipped with HD cameras?

August 30, 2010 7:17 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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 receives “contract modification” for F-22

August 25, 2010 6:13 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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...

Israel approves purchase of F-35

August 16, 2010 7:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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)...

Airmen enhance F-15E capabilities with helmet-mounted cueing system

August 13, 2010 9:11 am | by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs | Blogs | Comments

The concept is like something out of a movie -- the ability to find a target from a jet cockpit with the naked eye and lock onto it simply by fixing your gaze upon it. This science fiction concept has become a reality at the 336th Fighter Squadron.

Air Force experiments with ''gesture recognition'' technology

July 29, 2010 10:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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...

Commercial spacecraft makes first crewed flight

July 19, 2010 7:08 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

UK Drone draws inspiration from Celtic mythology

July 16, 2010 11:21 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Software helps troops avoid IEDs

July 12, 2010 7:59 am | by Elizabeth Long, 711th Human Performance Wing | Blogs | Comments

The Air Force is developing software that will help field commanders avoid improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The software will integrate data from multiple sources to provide real-time intel for mission planners.

HB-SIA achieves first solar-powered night flight

July 9, 2010 12:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Back in April, we reported on the Impulse HB-SIA, a solar-powered aircraft piloted by balloonist Bertrand Piccard. Powered by 11,628 monocrystalline silicon cells, the HB-SIA is an impressive piece of work. Yesterday, the craft achieved an important milestone: the first solar-powered night flight.

NASA Project M GENIE Integration and Lander Free Flight

July 9, 2010 5:02 am | Videos | Comments

This video gives an overview of the GENIE integration activities on the Project M RR-1 prototype lander.

F-35 soars past cost overruns, controversy

July 8, 2010 6:35 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Despite cost overruns, delays, and controversy, the F-35 program is surging forward. Recently, Lockheed Martin received a $522 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense towards development of the “Joint Strike Fighter.” One thing’s certain—for better or worse, we’re putting all our eggs in one basket.

Pentagon Develops Shape-Shifting Robot

July 6, 2010 5:07 am | by Tom Chivers | Videos | Comments

Pentagon research scientists have taken a first step towards "Transformers"-style shape-shifting cars and aircraft, with a robot that can fold itself like origami into different forms.

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