Category Archives: Military

Mini Spy Planes To Recharge By Clinging to Power Lines


The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is investigating a key problem involving surveillance missions using remote controlled planes with a wingspan of about a meter. The challenge is they need a way to refuel the planes to extend their limited flight duration.

The solution? They’re developing an electric motor that can harvest energy by attaching themselves to power lines, this is form of vampire power that is bled out through some undetectable (or not easily detectable) means.

Think seeing a small plane dangling from the power lines would be a little too obvious and would be counter detected? You’re right, which is why they may also leverage some technology developed by DARPA that will allow the plan to fold in key parts of itself, effectively morphing to look like a piece of trash hanging to the lines.

Test flights are planned for 2008.

Check out NewScientistTech for all the details on this marvelous hack.

Note: the pic above is the Navy’s WASP micro air vehicle, I couldn’t find pics relevant to this program.

Video: Submarines Surface Through Arctic Ice


Here are two videos of submarines, the British sub HMS Tireless and a US sub the USS Alexandria, participating in an ‘Ice Ex’ *together* in the Arctic.

I did a lot of time on subs but never had the pleasure of doing ice ops. Those exercises always intrigued me, partly because it’s a little more dangerous and interesting and very few sailors get to partake each year.

This one is the USS Alexandria surfacing:

[youtube hb_LCPGtzpU]

This one is the HMS Tireless surfacing. Skip ahead to 1:20 to see the good stuff:

[youtube oDlTq53b438]

This May Come As A Shock To You

As if taser wielding cops weren’t bad enough already, TASER International has developed a new technology that will allow law enforcement to light you up from a 100ft distance.  This new “XREP” projectile is a wireless taser package that is delivered via any existing smooth bore 12 gauge shotgun.  Supposedly, this little brother to the “X26” taser pistol is just as effective, and will make you look like a limp noodle in a light socket ūüėČ

Check out this promotional video from the TASER International folks:


Boeing Completes Eight-Hour Flight of A160T Hummingbird

Boeing Hummingbird

The autonomous unmanned rotorcraft, measuring 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter, eventually will fly more than 140 knots with a ceiling of 25,000 to 30,000 ft. (high hover capability up to 15,000 ft.) for up to 20 hours.

And in a major milestone last week, Boeing has successfully flown its A160T Hummingbird unmanned vehicle for eight hours while carrying a 1,000-pound payload. During its longest flight to date and the program’s 42nd flight overall, the aircraft reached an altitude of 5,000 feet near Victorville, Calif. The half-ton payload simulated the delivery of critical supplies to the battlefield. Future payloads will include a combination of sensors, weapons and systems to perform a variety of missions.

Read the full coverage at Space War.

Gung Ho Lego, Git Yer Guns!

Gung Ho Lego

OK, looks like we get two geeky gun stories in the same week from The Firearm Blog, so I guess it’s a good thing I subscribed to the feed, you should too if you’re into firearms because today we learn about Lego Guns! ūüôā

These toys come from Brick Arms; you can get firearms for your Lego figure ranging from the Uzi to the 1911 to the ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser, you can also get weapons packs, accessories and custom military figures.

Brick Arms

Northrop Grumman’s PR Campaign Through Comic Books?

Below are a few thumbnail pages from Northrop Grumman’s latest method of advertising their End-to-End military solutions to the government’s problems.

Link to the whole comic book on The comments on their blog post are pretty funny:

  • ‘at least they got the terrorists speaking English correct’
  • ‘That’s so typical. First they drop in and *then* they realize SITUATION CRITICAL.’

I’m ok with this comic actually. Granted the quality isn’t that great, but who is the intended audience? Certainly not you and me and (I hope not) children. It’s likely just a gimmicky thing to place next to the armament brochures in your booth at the next ‘Arms Convention’. Hey, do they have Booth Babes at those conventions?

Special Ops Comic

And In Autonomous Aircraft News From ‘Space War’…


From Space WarPredators Reach Quarter-Million Flight Hours
The Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. Its primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets.

Airmen from the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron recently flew an MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle past the 250,000 flying hour milestone marking the historic milestone with a ceremony June 22 at Creech Air Force Base. “There are Predators airborne in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Because of what it can bring to the fight, the Predator is the most requested asset in theater,” said Col. Christopher Chambliss, the 432nd Wing commander.


From Space WarPuma Achieves Record Flight Time Using Fuel Cell Battery Hybrid System
With a wingspan of 8.5 feet and weight of 12.5 pounds, Puma is a lightweight, hand-launched Unmanned Aircraft that provides aerial observation at line-of-sight ranges up to 10 kilometers. Watch videos or view its datasheets.

AeroVironment has successfully flown its Puma small unmanned aircraft for nearly five hours while it was powered by an onboard fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system. This successful demonstration marked the completion of the first task under AV’s contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the development of advanced propulsion technologies for unmanned aircraft.

Counterintelligence Interrogation


The other day I told you about the CIA docs released to the public and searchable from their site.

While browsing this treasure trove I stumbled across this one on ‘Counterintelligence Interrogation‘ techniques from 1965. It used to be a SECRET publication with the subtitle of ‘A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal and theoretical aspects of intelligence’.

Wow, this is the kind of stuff Sgt. Joe Friday would have written, I could hardly contain myself as I dug into it. ūüėČ

I could summarize it as:

It’s a good quick read, I recommend it as bathroom material and something to consider in your RPG if you find yourself on the receiving or giving end of an interrogation.

Here’s a little more info:

It’s 18 short pages of Do’s and Don’ts for the prospective counterintelligence interrogator. Includes legal paperwork you should consider to dot your i’s and cross your t’s beforehand so information gleaned is admissible evidence, special considerations for interrogating females, how to harass and isolate your target, employ divide and conquer techniques, building your story, how to deal with the ‘smash and grab’ type of interrogators from competing gov’t orgs (i think hinting at the FBI), leveraging two-man teams and employing indigenous interrogators when operating overseas, etc…

It ends with this:

Never forget that some day the subject may have an opportunity to tell his side of the story to the press or other public medium, friendly or hostile. He will certainly talk to individuals. What he should honestly be able to say about us is that we are tough but fair. If he decides to paint us in other colors falsely, he probably won’t be convincing.

UFOs Among The Top Queries Of The CIA Docs

The CIA’s web site has a Freedom Of Information section to search declassified documents from the spy agency. In the last 2 months here are the top 5 search keywords people have entered into their site:

May, 2007:
 ufo: 1782
 0001156395: 1625
 bay of pigs: 950
 cuba: 634
 vietnam: 547

April, 2007:
 bay of pigs: 1124
 ufo: 1064
 iran: 682
 vietnam: 588
 soviet: 412

As you can see (unless you’re color blind), i’ve highlighted ‘UFO’. Are people so daft as to think that they’re going to post the ‘good stuff’ online? Gimme a break ūüėÄ

From spot checking the UFO reports myself (looks like ‘Flying Saucer’ was more popular back in the 50’s), they all pretty much run along the lines of this one from 1952:


I’ve found some really cool stuff though, completely unrelated to UFOs, will report here later. Some of it is stuff that was formerly Soviet Top Secret which was translated, shared within the US intelligence community and is now declassified under our own rules! How cool is that!

DARPA Goal: Aircraft That Remains Airborne 5 Years w/o Landing.


DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Military, it was their initiative in 1973 that led to what we call the Internet today.

They announced the VULTURE program last week which is an initiative to develop an airborne platform that is heavier-than-air and can remain aloft for 5 continuous years, this announcement is to potential offerors (or companies interested in contracting for some of the R&D).

This would be an exploratory development program with the overall goal to develop and demonstrate the ability to deliver and maintain an airborne payload on station for an uninterrupted period exceeding 5 years.

Note to you wannabe contractor geeks Рthe government is not interested in approaches that use either radioactive energy sources or employs any form of buoyant flight for this application.

The VULTURE Air Vehicle Program will research and develop technologies and systems which will enable the Military to deliver and maintain a 1000 lb, 5 kW airborne payload for an uninterrupted period exceeding 5 years with a 99+% on station probability.     The architectures selected and the specific approaches taken by the Offerors will determine the range of technical areas that are developed, including, but not limited to, environmental energy collection, high specific energy storage, extremely efficient propulsion systems, precision robotic refueling, autonomous materiel transfer, extremely efficient vehicle structural design, and mitigation of environmentally-induced loads.

The real purpose of the project isn’t necessarily to develop a working prototype for the military, but rather, while working towards that goal they must research and develop individual technologies that, while they may lead to a prototype, will definitely lead to more robust aircraft technologies that can be integrated into current or future systems. It’s envisioned that this program will, at a minimum, develop and demonstrate advanced reliability technologies for air vehicles.

How Bad Is It, Doc?

Zephyr Tech is a NZ based company that specializes in ‘Smart Fabric Technology’. They combine patented Smart Fabric sensor technology with novel algorithms and system design. Flexible and formable sensors detect and measure displacement, distance, force and pressure, strain, impact events and bio data.
Their latest product ‘Impact SF‘ holds promise for soldiers in the battlefield, or rather it will greatly assist the battlefield medics. Impact SF is a new solution for measuring impact ‚Äď from slow collisions to ballistic impact. Using sensors and wireless connectivity, Impact SF is robust enough to withstand extreme environments.

Graphical diagnostic tools quantify an impact’s severity, direction and type, providing instant status updates and allowing evidence-based trauma diagnosis. Information is available in real time or can be stored for later use.

Impact SF Capabilities:

  • Measures position of impact and energy
  • Allows quantitative analysis of an impact‚Äôs severity, type and direction
  • Enables blunt force human trauma diagnosis
  • No restrictions to wearer of Impact SF garment
  • Technology can be integrated into existing composite structures
  • Real time and trend analysis via graphical display
  • Wireless connectivity to other user interfaces

You can read their brochure (pdf) for a few more details and pretty pictures.

[Found via DefenseTech]

U.S. Updating Its Nuke Warhead Designs

The military and the Energy Department chose a new design that was developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, the other competing design came from the Los Alamos National Lab. These are the two premier nuclear weapons labs in the government and have had their proposals scrutinized over the past year.

This new design is supposed to eventually replace the aging existing arsenal of weapons, they should be safer and more robust which should increase their reliability compared to the current designs which are a maintenance nightmare when they’re expected to last decades (assuming nuclear war doesn’t break out in the interim).

It’s estimated that as the old warheads are replaced with the newer models, the total number of nukes will likely be reduced from 6,000 today to about 2,000 in the year 2012.

If you’re curious about the ‘why’ of the program you should read this 2 pager from the DOE ‘Reliable Replacement Warhead Program‘ (PDF).

Read the USA Today article on the event as well.

Anti-Sniper Detection System

Troops in patrol in Iraq are prone to sniper attacks that appear to come from nowhere and leaves almost no chance to return fire. It’s a vexing problem, but as this LiveScience article shows us, it’s a solvable problem.

Here’s the theory:

The sniper’s rifle bullet is en route travelling faster than sound, leaving a shockwave in its wake, expanding outward in a cone shape, while the bullet races ahead. In conjunction with this, the bullet’s supersonic flight is creating its own shockwave of air particles being pushed aside, this is different from the muzzle sound your ears are picking up.

With microphones set up in the surrounding area, the mics pic up the various shockwaves at different times and from there it’s a ‘simple’ matter of a proprietary algorithm to determine the source location of the rifle bullet.

The challenges with this?

A few challenges would be interference from natural sounds, reverb from surrounding buildings, the system monitoring for sniper locations may need to reside on a moving Humvee.

A system to do all of this exists today called ‘Boomerang’, was developed by BBN Technologies, has 100 of these units deployed to the field and the DoD has an outstanding order for 1000 more.

Other uses for this technology?

Possibly to identify guns based on sounds heard through 9-1-1 calls, or the National Parks Service may be able to leverage these to monitor natural areas and study trends of animals.

Upgrade Your Car to a Recreational Tank.


Feeling like your SUV blends into the crowd? In need of something to transport your groceries by day and a mobile party or arsenal by night? Meet the Badonkadonk, a one-of-a-kind “armored land cruiser/recreational tank”.

To look at it, one might think it’s a hovercraft, but in fact it runs on four off-road wheels, concealed by a unique industrial-strength rubberized flexible skirt that shields and protects the wheels to within an inch of the ground, while still allowing for enough flex to give clearance over bumpy and uneven terrain.

It looks like something out of Mad Max.


Virtual Freedom

Virtual Reality has been a well covered subject in the past¬†two decades.¬† Prime examples of VR are in movies like “The Lawnmower Man” and “TRON”, TV shows like “VR.5” and “Harsh Reality”, and cult favorite books such as “Necronomicon” and “Otherland”.¬† All of these examples have one theme in common that reality does not…full freedom of unrestricted movement within a virtual environment.

VirtueSphere, Inc. is going to take us there.

Transparent VirtueSphere

The VirtuSphere platform¬†is a large hollow sphere that sits¬†on top of a roller-type base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless head mounted display, users can¬†climb inside the sphere to fully interact¬†with intuitive virtual landscapes. The VirtuSphere enables 6 degrees of freedom ‚Äď one can move in any direction; walk, jump, roll, crawl, run over unlimited distances without encountering real-world physical obstacles.

I’m sold!¬† Send mine via Geeknews, please ūüôā¬† Seriously though, this is an incredible achievement, and a immersive means with which to train soldiers, or have alot of gaming fun.¬† I’d recommend taking a stroll around their website, the applications for this technology are “virtually” limitless!¬† (Pun intended)

MIT Makes In-Roads Towards Developing Real Spiderman

MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN)¬†claims in the Jan issue of “Nature Materials” that it has developed¬†a process that delivers a¬†material that emulates the elasticity and strong properties of spider silk that can be used¬†in¬†military products and even Spider-Man-like fabrics, not to mention fuel-cell cells and¬†medical devices.

synthetic spider silkSpider silk is lightweight, flexible, waterproof and one of the toughest materials in the world. It’s also extremely difficult to imitate or produce artificially. To develop the materials, MIT started with tiny clay discs at about 1-nm in diameter. The researchers developed a process to embed these clay chips in a rubbery polymer to get to the consistency of the very small crystals that are seen throughout real spider silk.¬†The high reinforcement of of the silk comes from these crystals, or in the case of the synthetic silk, it comes from the methods used to embed the clay disks.¬†

The end result is a “nanocomposite” of stiff clay particles dispersed throughout a stretchy matrix that is now stronger and tougher. The clay platelets are distributed randomly in the material. Consequently the nanocomposite material is reinforced in every direction and the material exhibits very little distortion even when heated to temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius.

This work is largely funded by the US Army, but interest in this silk doesn’t stop there. Manufacturers in various industries have been trying to be the first to create this artificial fiber since the 1990’s. Imagine weaving silk to create a bullet-proof vest that weighs a few ounces. Or a better fabric that absorbs your sweate and wicks it out as the ultimate in breathable clothing.

An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion

Is an alien attack possible? Of course it is. Statistically speaking, almost anything is possible. The better question to ask is “what is the possibility of an alien attack”?

That is the beginning of a serious scientific book called “An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion (links to Amazon). It contains a lot of the strategies, tactics and alternatives to assemble missions to mount an effective defense on a planet-wide scale in the case of an alien assault.

The authors and contributors all have experience and/or degrees in aerospace and involvement in some aspect of the space program, from the SpaceLab to designing experiments in space for the Space Shuttle crews. So all four authors bring an incredible amount of serious space science to these questions. Dr. Taylor has a variety of experiences working for the Department of Defense and NASA. Dr. Boan has been an active member of the space community for over a quarter of a century. Dr. Powell is a professor with specialties including space trajectories, attitude dynamics, and numerical analysis

This book provides a serious look at defending the planet in the event of an extra-terrestrial invasion. Travis Taylor, et al, have written the definitive book on the defense of earth against a potential alien incursion. Whatever your beliefs on the subject, the book serves as an important primer on the potential future of warfare on every level. It is tightly grounded in current day realities of war and extrapolates thoughtfully but closely about future potentials. It should be on the reading list of anyone who is serious about national security and the future of war.

The authors carefully make their case from every angle beginning with the statistical probability of an alien invasion. Chapter two discusses possible weapons, tactics and strategies for defense. This is followed with a look at what might motivate such an attack. And finally, who should know about preparations for defense, what a first and subsequent responses should be, and how we should be preparing and funding our defense.

Planetary Defense

The Coolest Chair In History

The picture speaks for itself, folks.¬† This has got to be the most fascinating chair i’ve ever seen.¬† I would be proud to have this in my home, and show off to my friends and family as vigorously and often as possible.¬† For war enthusiasts and gamers alike, this would be the crown jewel or throne of any collection.

AK-47 Chair

This Throne of Weapons is a chair made entirely from decommissioned AK47 rifles that had been used in the Mozambique civil war. It was exhibited at the Herbert as part of a British Museum touring exhibition last year.

The pure fact of its coolness aside, I find this a remarkable tribute to the men, women, and children that fought for the right to maintain their land, and keep free of the tyranny that loomed before them. 

Found via []