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.
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....
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you haven’t met the TSA – meaning you somehow haven’t flown anywhere in the last 12 years – know that they’re the crotch-grabbing, nude-scanning, senior-citizen harassing government agency in charge of airport security. And they really hate shoes. But the mighty TSA has apparently met its match in an 87-year-old, half-deaf World War II vet.
Boston Dynamics recently posted more video eye candy (but not necessarily ear candy) for those who can’t get enough of their amazing, creature-like robotics. The two new videos are its quadroped called the WildCat and the bipedal Atlas. The all-terrain Wildcat can run at 16 mph on a flat surface and can either gallop or “bound.” Atlas is intended to walk upright and keep its balance even on rough terrain.
It's always pretty interesting to see what other military forces are working with, so Maps on the Web has graced us with this baby, which takes a look at the military rifles of all the countries. Each color signifies a particular "family" of guns with variations signified by shading of the same color.
In government, the left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. Case in point: Days after the DoD got all warm-and-fuzzy over its working relationship with Lockheed Martin and the F-35, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called the Joint Strike Fighter “one of the great national scandals.”
What happens when a fighter jet is too old to be used in combat by the Air Force, but too expensive to totally dump? It becomes a drone, at least sometimes it does. The F-16 Fighting Falcon was acquired by Boeing after being retired by the Air Force. In turn the aerospace company turned the old school jet into a brand new drone to be used for military training.
You know that moment when you’re walking around say, a college campus, and suddenly realize you’re horribly lost and all the buildings of ivy-covered bricks look exactly the same? Yeah, me neither, but apparently it happens a lot at MIT because they’ve developed a drone to make sure you’re always on the right path.
Throughout the world, military and aerospace engineers are focused on new design efforts to not only modernize existing operations, but at the same time, miniaturize these efforts and electronics to improve flexibility and portability as well as overall survivability in the field.
Alright, so technically the beach is a military zone and, technically, it's not a beach that people should be swimming from or sunbathing on, but that is one scary-looking piece of military equipment. According to a Russian defense ministry spokesperson, it's actually a government-owned beach and the landing was part of some military practice maneuvers.
Forget fancy, 5th-generation manned stealth jets. The future of aerial warfare is unmanned, with fighter jockeys shelved in favor of cold, robotic precision. Look no further than the X-47B: Last month, the autonomous drone became the first unmanned jet to land aboard a moving aircraft carrier.
The military is going decidedly low-tech with its latest experiment – blimps. The Army’s anti-missile blimp system, JLENS, will make its way to the East Coast next year. The high-tech/low-tech radar system can detect cruise missiles, light planes, drones, boats and vehicles on the ground....
What do you get the obscenely-wealthy executive who has everything? If it’s an especially lazy exec who absolutely must sleep where he lands (his private jet), then the jetway hotel might be perfect. A private client (with the requisite bankroll and penchant for flamboyant acts of indulgent laziness) commissioned Margot Krasojevic to design this “short stay hotel hangar”....
I am a fan of not sending soldiers into battle, but I understand that wars still need to be fought (sometimes). Drones are a solution to that conundrum, firepower without the high risk for lives (on our side at least). Putting any ethics aside about drones killing civilians and the lack of a weight of responsibility...
Facebook. We use it every day to stay connected with family and friends and, well, to snoop on people and thumb through their photos. Since we’re essentially chronicling our lives, few of us probably consider it a good way to stay safe in the digital age. The U.S. Army might disagree. It’s borrowing the concept of a Facebook "timeline"....
Unmanned weapons systems (aka, "killer robots") have the power to reduce collateral damage and save lives, and we should support and encourage their development, not preemptively ban them and set disproportionately high ethical standards as a function of their deployment.
The DoD has finally backed down. And I applaud their decision. Following months of negative feedback, the DoD has officially scuttled the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The DWM — intended for drone operators — would’ve ranked ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart (two combat decorations) in the order of precedence.
Some bad news for Sci-Fi fans: The Navy’s new shipboard laser system, Laser Weapon System (LaWS), won't shoot spiffy beams of light of the sort used to kill stormtroopers, Cylons, and Klingons. But it will fire a focused infrared laser that can down drones, disable small boats, and — in the future — engage missiles and enemy jets.
Ironclad warships. A steam-powered warship defending New York’s harbor. Submarines. Rifled cannon firing elongated explosive shells. The first use of steam power for logistical support of a battle. Industrial automation. Obviously, I’m talking about the U.S. Civil War, right? Nope.
Sometimes — and I stress sometimes — the government does work for the people. Case in point: The new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has halted production of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal — awarded to drone operators — in response to veterans' complaints that the "participation trophy" ranks above combat medals like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.