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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.”

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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.

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)...

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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.

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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.

National Space Policy downplays role of NASA

June 30, 2010 9:02 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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 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.

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.

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