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.
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.
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.
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)...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
This video gives an overview of the GENIE integration activities on the Project M RR-1 prototype lander.
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 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.
On Monday, President Obama officially announced his National Space Policy. There were few surprises, but in this case, no news is bad news. NASA has never been so irrelevant to the National Space Policy. It’s right there in NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s statement (emphasis mine)—NASA is pleased to be an integral part of President Obama's National Space Policy.”
The United States’ “premier air superiority fighter,” the F-22 Raptor, is banned from export. The F-35 (and its fifth generation rival, the PAK-FA) is not. Thus, it’s no surprise that allies have climbed aboard the Joint Strike Fighter program. For all intents and purposes, the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act killed the F-22 Raptor.
SpaceX has inked a $492 million deal with Iridium Communications Inc. to launch a fleet of next-generation commercial satellites aboard its Falcon 9 rocket.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program achieved an important milestone yesterday, with the inaugural flight of the Navy’s carrier-based variant. The F-35C Lightning II is due to replace the Navy and Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet. According to Lockheed Martin, the first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant took off from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base at 11:46 a.m. and logged a 57 min flight.