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The F-35’s international flavour

June 23, 2010 6:14 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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 Signs Launch Deal for Next-Gen Iridium Satellites

June 17, 2010 9:45 am | News | Comments

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.

Navy’s F-35C makes inaugural flight

June 7, 2010 10:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Takes First Flight

June 7, 2010 4:18 am | Videos | Comments

On June 4th, 2010 at 14:30 UTC the first ever Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

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.

USAF Vehicle Breaks Record for Hypersonic Flight

May 27, 2010 6:57 am | News | Comments

An experimental aircraft has set a record for hypersonic flight, flying more than 3 minutes at Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.”

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