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The Lead

This helmet lets fighter pilots ditch their night vision goggles

July 18, 2014 9:41 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

Military jobs are synonymous with stress, but one of the most stressful jobs even by military standards is that of the jet fighter pilot. Not only are they required to process a lot of operational information very quickly, they must do it while wearing headgear that can strain the head and neck the faster the plane flies....

The first guided .50-caliber bullets

July 14, 2014 2:46 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Digital Editor | Blogs | Comments

Snipers have to take numerous factors into account, including the terrain, weather, wind-...

The Grim Reaper flies ... with help from a drone

July 7, 2014 10:54 am | by Jason Lomberg, Digital Editor | Blogs | Comments

You may have seen the viral video making its rounds — the mythical entity otherwise known...

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Watch these drones fight to the death

June 30, 2014 8:04 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

In the world of drones, there exists an underground fight club where different UAVs go head to head trying to destroy each other. Alright, that’s a little dramatized, but the drones really do battle each other in a BattleBot-style arena. Marque Cornblatt, co-founder of the group Game of Drones, says it’s all about aerial combat and going drono a drono for victory....

Russians beat us to Holy Grail of drone pizza delivery

June 27, 2014 9:21 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

We won the Cold War and Space Race for this? We’ve discussed drones, the attendant privacy issues, and their commercial potential exhaustively, but a recent event serves as a cruel mockery of the freedoms we cherish. While the Federal Aviation Administration, politicians, and privacy advocates continue to squabble over domestic drone regulations ...

The F-35 was born of a "dumb piece of Air Force PR spin"

June 24, 2014 10:31 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The F-35 doesn’t have a lot of fans these days, and one of her biggest critics is actually the co-designer of the F-16, Pierre Sprey. Calling the Joint Strike Fighter the product of “an exceptionally dumb piece of Air Force PR spin”, Sprey issues a scathing indictment of the F-35 in a viral Internet video that is gaining a ton of traction in the aerospace community....

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You can borrow a drone at this library

June 23, 2014 10:01 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

The newly renovated University of South Florida library will have lots to offer students returning for the fall semester. There will be brand new furniture, a modern Smart Lab, and aerial drones to check out along with the books. No, really. In touting the school library’s recent renovations ...

This drone is made from chocolate

June 18, 2014 3:31 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Yes, someone actually built a chocolate quadcopter. And no, the DoD hasn’t investigated potential military applications (that I know of). A flying treat like this probably wouldn’t survive harsh environments (greater than 20°C) or soldiers’ stomachs, but it could redefine the “candygram”....

Precision Guidance: Company developing autonomous Black Hawk helicopter

June 2, 2014 9:23 am | by Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production Specialist | Videos | Comments

One of the biggest announcements from the recent Unmanned Systems expo in Orlando, Florida was the news that Sikorsky Aircraft is developing an autonomous version of the Black Hawk helicopter. The optionally piloted UH-60A Black Hawk leverages the company’s Matrix technology — a major research program for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft....

DoD plans for the zombie apocalypse (seriously)

May 23, 2014 11:44 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

You probably suspected that the Department of Defense has a plan for every possible contingency, so a land war with China? Totally covered. A nuclear war with a renewed Soviet Union? Covered. But a zombie apocalypse? Not the first (or 10th) contingency that springs to mind....

Photos of the Day: AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2014

May 16, 2014 9:42 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | News | Comments

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems 2014, in sunny Orlando, Florida, was a veritable bonanza for cool aerospace and military hardware. Here’s some of the cooler unmanned systems I came across in my meanderings....

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Solar-powered UAS provides “silent operation”

May 13, 2014 3:51 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Imagine a flying Prius with all the blather of a mime and you’ve got the Silent Falcon sUAS. This solar-powered small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) was one of the cooler wares on display at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2014 in sunny Orlando, Florida....

Former Air Force Major General headlines ECN IMPACT Awards

May 6, 2014 8:58 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The ECN IMPACT Awards celebrate innovation across the design engineering landscape, and the awards ceremony’s keynote speaker could teach us all a lesson or two on leadership. Formerly a Major General in the United States Air Force, Steve Sargeant parlayed his impressive military career into a top leadership role with a prestigious test and measurement company....

Russian official: The US should use trampolines to get to space

April 30, 2014 9:45 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Back when Russia first began “acquiring” Ukraine, NASA immediately cut all ties with the Slavic republic, except for efforts related to the International Space Station (the US relies on Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS). And now, after a fresh round of US sanctions, a Russian defense official has a helpful suggestion — the US should use trampolines to get into space....

Think tank: Russian stealth fighter is superior to the F-35

April 23, 2014 1:00 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Air Power Australia is no fan of the F-35. Let’s get that out of the way. For years, they’ve been panning the Joint Strike Fighter, praising the F-22, and warning about emerging threats from Russia and China — threats that could best the F-35 in single combat....

Is this solar-powered airplane the future of green travel?

April 22, 2014 9:47 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The Solar Impulse team is at it again! This is the team that flew the first solar-powered plane capable of flying around the clock coast-to-coast across the United States in 2013. They just unveiled that plane’s successor, the aptly named Solar Impulse 2, which has an even greater destiny for 2015: to circumnavigate the globe....

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Astronaut pee could help get us to Mars

April 21, 2014 8:16 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Urine, made up of more than 95% water, is one of the cleanest fluids in the human body. And on a protracted space mission lasting more than a year (one-way) — to Mars, for example — that fact becomes critically important....

Solar-powered plane can "fly forever"

April 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Aviation pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg — who previously had circumnavigated the globe in a balloon — plan to make history again with the Solar Impulse 2, which will undertake the first solar-powered flight around the world....

Photos of the Day: The amazing, foldable V-22 Osprey

April 15, 2014 8:18 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

Consider this an “oldie but goodie.” The V-22 Osprey is the world’s first production tiltrotor aircraft. It’s also capable of both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL). But one of the Osprey’s coolest features is its ability to fold its rotors back for compact storage capabilities....

Watch a V-22 Osprey fold itself for storage

April 14, 2014 3:07 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 It’s pretty crazy to think that a huge aircraft with an 85’ foot wingspan is possible of folding itself up to reduce the amount of space it occupies on a massive ship. Yet, the V-22 Osprey does just that. This video is a little dated—it was taken in 2010 at Nellis Airforce Base in Las Vegas....

Military plans to use drones as flying Wi-Fi hotspots

April 11, 2014 10:38 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

For civilians, a dearth of Wi-Fi is a minor inconvenience. First-world problems. But for our troops in the field, a lack of connectivity can kill you. No connection means no close-air support and no reinforcements. Hence the military’s push to turn drones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots....

Keep politics off of the space station

April 7, 2014 8:37 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

When the Ukraine v. Russia (winner gets Crimea) battle began, one of the first things I said was, “Man, I bet it’s super awkward in space right now.” While Russian and U.S. relations have never been great, there hasn’t been an international issue to this degree between the two countries in quite some time.

How Russia ended up with Ukraine’s dolphin army

April 2, 2014 7:22 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

There have been many interesting political and social ramifications to the Soviet Union’s — I mean, Russia’s — attempted annexation of Crimea, but let’s talk about what everyone is really concerned with: Who will get custody of the Ukraine’s dolphin army? (For the record, this is not an April Fool’s joke.)

TSA deploys drones to watch you from space

April 1, 2014 8:47 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Citing the ongoing domestic terrorist threat (aka, the “most dire threat to national security since Grandma Betty at the airport”), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed a fleet of drones with the ability to destroy dangerous contraband like baby formula and remotely monitor “shady individuals” like 10-year-olds and grandparents....

Photos of the Day: The half-drone, half-satellite StratoBus

March 31, 2014 8:22 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

A project known as StratoBus has emerged from Thales in France. StratoBus totes the potential of precise, autonomous observation and communications assistance, and the first prototype from Thales is expected in the next five years. The autonomous airship operating at an altitude of about 20 km....

Airships are making a comeback

March 17, 2014 9:25 am | by Allegra Sparta, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Hopefully this comeback is a little less explosive than the Hindenburg’s reputation. A UK design firm recently unveiled the Airlander, a football field-sized airship that they hope will become the new standard for transportation — not of passengers, but of supplies.

New jet-powered UAV is the future of asymmetrical warfare

March 5, 2014 8:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

While politicians and privacy advocates squabble over regulations for domestic drones, General Atomics has been hard at work developing the next unmanned terror of the skies for America’s foreign adversaries. Meet the Predator C Avenger, the future of asymmetrical warfare.

Photos of the Day: The AirMule UAV flying donkey

March 3, 2014 9:09 am | by ECN Staff | News | Comments

Proving that looks aren’t everything, the AirMule UAV, developed by Israel’s Urban Aeronautics, is designed for cargo transport, medical evac, and troop supply missions. The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV was unveiled in 2008, completed its maiden flight in 2010, and is scheduled for deployment this year.

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