Cyber Warfare Could Become A Specialist Combat Unit In The US

The saying goes that “to be prepared is half the victory”, this is never more the case in the modern day when everything can change in a split second. With the modern day battle happening months and even years before the first shot is fired, warfare happens every day on the internet attacking the minds and systems of countries with no warning. In response to this growing threat, cyber warfare could soon become a specialist combat unit within the United states military.

Currently, anything relating to cyber warfare is united as part of a “sub-unified command” beneath the U.S. strategic command, but reports are coming in that Defence Secretary Ash Carter may be looking at turning the cyber command unit into a full combatant command.

This would put cyber warfare on bar with the nine that currently operate within the U.S. military including six commands based on their geographical areas (Pacific, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central and Southern command) and three based on their areas of specialty, such as the transportation command, strategic command (those in charge of nuclear forces) and special operations command groups. Moving out from strategic command to become the 10th COCOM (Combat Commander Exercise combatant command) would be a big step in realising the threat of cyber warfare and the steps that countries need to take to protect people beyond the lines of maps.

Man Pleads Guilty To Leaking US Military Aircraft Blueprints

When it comes to security and privacy, there is little more protected than military details. As a result, the information is often protected by several layers of protection, and even if these are breached the chances of it going unnoticed are even slimmer than being able to gain access in the first place. Something Su Bin found out the hard way when he pleaded guilty to leaking US military aircraft blueprints. Su Bin, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing sensitive military data and distributing this material to China for financial gain. Bin’s role in the scheme was to obtain access to Boeing and other companies servers, in the process retrieving information about their military aircraft

Su Bin, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing sensitive military data and distributing this material to China for financial gain. Bin’s role in the scheme was to obtain access to Boeing and other companies servers, in the process retrieving information about their military aircraft such as the C-17 and even fighter jets. Once he obtained access, he told two associates, un-named in his plea deal, which servers to hack and what information was useful on the projects. He even provided a translating service, converting the documentation from English to Chinese before sending it back to China, all at a cost.Sending both server details and names of US executives (and their emails)

After being caught in Canada in 2014 and then extradited to the US last month, Bin will now be charged with stealing data listed on the US Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

With countries becoming more and more aware of the risks and dangers regarding the digital world, catching anybody is a stark warning that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you will get away with it.

Self-Destructing Bullet Patented by US Army

One of the largest contributors to technologies growth is the armed forces, with people looking at everything from mounting rail-guns to ships to being able to inject a sponge into people to stop gunshot wounds from bleeding. The latest patent that the U.S. Army has filed for though is designed to prevent harm, in the form of a self-destructing bullet.

.50 calibre bullets are designed to be used in large guns, with everything from a sniper rifle to a mounted machine gun firing them off with their range and size often making them the round of choice for long distance engagements. This puts you at the risk of firing bullets that may not stop where you want them to. This may no longer be the case though thanks to a patent filed by the U.S. Army.

Researchers Brian Kim, Mark Minisi and Stephen McFarlane didn’t feel rounds had to keep going. Two years after filing for their patent it was approved, allowing for a new design of bullet that would have a “timed” lifespan. Designed to ignite the second the round is fired, the countdown would begin, ending with the bullet ending its travel once the reaction reaches its final stage.

McFarlane stated that “the biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage”. While the design is based and tested on the .50 calibre rounds, the patent extends to the method used in creating the new form of rounds, meaning that it could be used in everything from small handguns to large calibre weapons.

Unmaned Jets to be Backed by “Arsenal Planes”

Technology changes, every day it shifts and moves. A major area for technological advancement is the military. Companies and governments pay billions to advance technology in everything from bulletproof walls to injectable sponges. One of the areas for advancement is drones or unmanned aircraft. The problem is that these craft need to not only be smarter but also built for stealth, something strapping a few weapons to them doesn’t help with. The proposed solution, back up the stealthy ones with the big guns mounted to an ‘arsenal plane’.

Traditional unmanned planes can only equip a few weapons, the problem being that they just become too big and end up drawing too much attention on radar. The solution proposed by the Defence Department budget, is that they would instead have an arsenal plane behind the stealth jet.

Described as “a flying launch for all sorts of different conventional payloads. In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, networked to 5th-generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes”. While not a new idea the concept of a small jet being the precursor to a giant multi-purpose airstrike is certainly a frightful one.

With the reuse of old craft to save on costs, the issue of strapping a lot of explosives to an outdated model surely raises some heath and safety questions.

UK Nuclear Submarines Use Windows XP

Technology changes all the time, and operating systems are no different. From the era of DOS and punch cards to modern day touch screens and augmented reality, you can find every generation making their mark in a new way. With Windows 8 no longer receiving updates people are recommended to update to either 8.1 or Windows 10 to avoid security risks. The problem being, Nuclear Submarines use Windows XP still.

With the argument raging regarding if the UK still requires nuclear submarines, the large cost of which is a key part of the argument, cutting a few pounds here and there can only be good right? In a recent decision, the Royal Navy installed a variant of Windows XP (Windows for Submarines) onto their Vanguard-Class Submarines.

While operating in isolation and with so many years of updates and security investigations on the operating system, the Ministry of Defence is confident that the system will “remain safe and secure”. This comes amongst a series of wargames and exercises designed to help test and train people from across the world, all while concerns about submarines long term “stealth abilities” are being questioned due to the addition of swarms of drones and new systems being developed to counter them.

Networks are most at risk due to their access from external sources, and while cutting down on these is a great first step you will always be at risk. Using outdated software is risky, no matter how much support has been put into it but with more and more research and development being made into these systems you can be certain that anything they find will quickly be fixed.

US Drones Experience Spike in Unexplained Crashes

20 US military drones inexplicably crashed during 2015, and the Pentagon refuses to say why, The Washington Post reports. Half of the unmanned aerial vehicles involved are the US’s new Reaper drone, which cost $14 million (£9.8 million) each. The other 10 accidents involved the older Predator drone.

Unconfirmed rumours suggest that the Reaper could be experiencing problems with its starter generator, since that problem was detected after six crashes prior to 2014. “We’re looking closely at that to determine what is the core issue there,” Lt. Gen. Robert P. Otto, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Surveillance Programs for the US Air Force, acknowledged.

“Once the battery’s gone, the airplane goes stupid and you lose it,” Colonel Brandon Baker, Chief of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division, added. “Quite frankly, we don’t have the root cause ironed out just yet.”

The Pentagon has not confirmed nor denied that the starter generator is responsible for the spike in drone crashes last year, refusing to comment on the matter and failing to officially report many of the 20 crashes in 2015. Despite this, it is known that military engineers have been desperately investigating a potential fix for the problem for over a year, with rumours that every military UAV in operation will require upgraded starter generators.

GPS-Free Smart Parachutes Being Tested by US Government

On the modern battlefield, where technology can give soldiers the edge, previously simple tasks such as making supply drops are becoming harder and harder. When they go wrong, it often risks the lives of the soldiers on the ground to retrieve them and stop them falling into enemy hands. GPS is becoming less reliable as the basis for these systems, due to its vulnerability to modern cyber warfare systems. In response to this, the US Government has been developing its joint precision airdrop system (JPADS), to feature smart parachutes that rely on only visual data instead of GPS to guide the package to the target.

Able to be fitted to cargo dropped from up to 25,000 feet and as far as 20 miles from the target location, JPADS exchanges the traditional GPS receiver fitted to air drops with a new aerial guidance unit (AGU). Quite simply, the AGU is a box fitted with motors to operate the parafoil, a camera on the underside and a computer to handle the controls and data. JPADS kicks in immediately after the payload is dropped from the plane and the parachute unfurls to stabilize. In testing “JPADS immediately determined their own location by comparing terrain features spotted using optical sensors with commercial satellite imagery of the area,” said Defense contractor, Draper. So far the system has been tested at altitudes of 10,000 feet over Arizona, with their success leading to plans for higher altitude drops.

The JPADS system is designed to emulate human image recognition and the way we use it to determine our location. “We’re programming a computer to do what we all do on a daily basis. A lot of us navigate by image recognition. If I’m driving home and I recognize the blue house, I know where I am relative to my destination because I’m familiar with what it looks like and can distinguish it from other blue houses,” said the head of the JPADS project, Chris Bessette. Bessette believes that once the JPAD technology is proven in its ability to direct military cargo to targets, it could also be leveraged in self-driving cars and other autonomous applications.

Smart airdrop systems have been in development with the US Army and Air Force since the late 90s, but only now can they seem to say goodbye to their reliance on GPS. If it saves the lives of the men on the ground by making dangerous forays into enemy territory to retrieve supplies a thing of history, then the development will definitely be worthwhile.

Logan Streondj Warns That Robots Will Declare War By 2040

The continual advancement of AI is compelling at the very least; the notion that machines will have the ability to experience human emotions and abilities has opened the door to a whole new world of potential possibilities. But, are machines really a threat to mankind? Sci-fi author Logan Streondj thinks so and has detailed his vision in a blog post.

The aforementioned author suggests that a potential conflict could happen as intelligent robots are predicted to outnumber humans. The acclaimed author references the fact from “World Counts” that there are around 350 thousand human babies born each day or 130 million a year; the growth rate is 1%. According to the International Federation of Robotics, there were around 5 million robots being produced in 2014 with a growth rate of 15%. Within the same year there were approximately 11,000 military robots being produced and this could be significantly higher if you take into consideration the many top-secret projects which are being developed by governments etc.

This suggests that if growth statistics stays the same, in 25 years time or (2040) parity will be reached. Mr. Streondj also conveys the notion that there is a growth rate of 13% of military robots and by 2053, there will be around a million produced each year.

Is this possible or indeed believable? It really depends on the advancements of AI intelligence, the biggest fear among the human race is that robots will be able to decide their own destiny; if this is the case then it is conceivable that robots may not agree with us. An interesting point has been released by the World Fact Book which states that humans have a life expectancy of around 70 years globally, this compares with around 10 years for robots, this means that robots would need to produce approximately 7 times more a year in order to have the same population as humans.

It is really up to us, if we continue our path and develop a robot that is able to think for itself then we may technically see a revolt within the distant future, if not and we contain the abilities with which machines can reach, then we can control our own future.

Image courtesy of corbisimages

Chinese Soldiers Now Equipped With Laser Guns

The Chinese military has begun equipping its soldiers with handheld laser guns, in direct contravention of international treaties banning the use of blinding laser weapons. The PY132A laser gun, revealed during the Chinese Police Expo in December, is designed to blind enemy sensors and cameras and intended for use against enemy vehicles and drones, Popular Science reports.

In 1998, China signed a United Nations Convention that prevented the development of Certain Conventional Weapons [CCW], which included blinding laser weapons that could be used against humans. While the Chinese military claims that its PY132A laser are for use against mechanised combatants, it remains possible for the weapons to be used against humans, intentionally or not. The scattering effect of laser beams means people are at risk of being struck in the eye, risking blindness.

“China has been updating its home-made blinding laser weapons in recent years to meet the needs of different combat operations,” the official military newspaper PLA Daily reported on 9th December, via The Washington Free Beacon. “Blinding laser weapons are primarily used to blind … targets with laser[s] in [the] short distance, or interfere [with] and damage … laser and night vision equipment.”

“The United States is committed to the CCW and expects all parties to uphold the convention and its protocols,” a State Department official warned.

The US is also worried that these weapons could make their way on to the global arms market, with Chinese weapons systems expert Rick Fisher saying, “There is a strong possibility these new dazzlers are being marketed for foreign sale.”

Big Dog Considered ‘Too Noisy’ For US Military

The Big Dog by Boston Dynamics has become a regular sight when the military and robotics come into discussions. The company acquired by Google two years ago has been working on a quadruped robot which is designed to help support troops in the field by carrying large pieces of equipment, that was until the US Military stated that it was too loud for practical use.

The Big Dog, officially titled the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), is designed to carry weights of up to 180kg over rough terrain. While other options such as Spot, a small electric motor powered robot, were considered. Their carry weight of 18kg and lack of autonomous functions meant that it was shelved after successful military trails.

While being able to cross snow, shallow water, rubble and climb muddy trails, the top speed of 4mph meant that the big dog, while useful for carrying large amounts of equipment over long distances, the second you got close to a target the loud noise and slow movement speed made you all but sitting ducks.

While there are designs for other direct purpose robots, with one called the Cheetah clocking in at 29mph and another called RiSE titled for its ability to climb vertical surfaces, it is with no doubt that Boston Dynamics will be revealing more robots soon.

Airforce Wants Its Jets To Have Lasers By 2020

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ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Everyone loves a good laser, be it shot into the sky at a festival, or at your favourite hero as they try to save the galaxy. Even the real world is liking them, with more and more of science fiction being created and used in the real world. The Navy have even created and mounted a rail gun onto a ship  while BAE are looking at magnetic force fields.  Now even the Airforce want to get in on the science fiction weapons and mount “lasers” onto their Jets by 2020.

Dubbed Directed-Energy weapon pods, the devices will be mounted onto jets and will use beams of directed energy to ‘burn’ missiles and UAV’s, with the hopes of being powerful enough to even combat other aircraft. With a large contract on the line several companies have come up with solutions, HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defence System), from General Atomics, runs off a single lithium-ion battery and is small enough to fit onto a predator drone.

With the possibilities of being mounted to both land, sea and air vehicles, laser technology could revolutionise the way we act against other weapons. With the ability to shoot down missiles and heat up and melt the components in vehicles laser technology could quickly become the new step in modern warfare.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of LiveScience.

North Dakota Police Will Utilize Weaponised Drones

Drones used to be a thing of the future, small robotic creatures that would fly around and swarm the skies. They would be included in Hollywood blockbusters such as Terminator and even the ones where they help us survive such as in Transformers. With devices that can seek and destroy from ground level to your forty story apartment, they were quickly developed and created for everyday tasks. Now with thanks to a lobbyist from Dakota the first drones with weaponry might soon see deployment.

With recent years, fears over drones carrying weapons are known to have caused a ruckus in many circles, with people like Steven Hawking requesting that drones avoid automation in order to reduce the threat from them. The Rick Becker’s bill would have seen that all drones in Dakota could not be equipped with weaponry, but an amendment by Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association, has banned the drones from carrying anything deemed a lethal weapon. This means that less lethal tactics such as pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons and even Tasers could soon see deployment at the bottom of a drone.

The initial bill was created to force police to obtain a warrant before using a drone to collect evidence while also banning weaponising the free flying devices. With this sudden escalation, all eyes will be on the Dakota police and how they choose to deploy drones with anything other than a camera.

Thank you The Daily Beast for the information.

Image courtesy of Gary Friedman (Los Angeles Times).

Hack Targets Email System Of The Pentagon

NBC news is reporting information which has been supplied by US officials who have stated that Russia has launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” with the aim being the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system.

The email system has since been shut down by being taken offline for almost two weeks. The attack happened “sometime” around July the 25th 2015, this has affected around 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the joint chief of staff. I love how specific highly trained government officials are behaving concerning this possible intrusion.

Sources have briefed NBC News that the hack relied on “some kind of automated system that rapidly gathered massive amounts of data and within a minute distributed all the information to thousands of accounts on the Internet”. There is suspicion that Russian hackers planned and implemented the cyber attack via encrypted accounts on social media.

The phrase, “oh here we go again” comes to mind with these types of cyber attacks, which conjure a feeling of Déjà vu or Groundhog Day depending on your movie of choice. If governments, companies and infrastructures intend to keep information stored within networks and connected devices, then it needs to be secure. It’s absurd that it keeps happening over and over again; it’s almost deciding which foot to shoot and ending up shooting both.

Officials have stressed at this time no classified information has been compromised, hopefully this will not change. There is also the unknown factor of whether this has been orchestrated by hackers on behalf of the Russian government. I expect more information to be placed in the public domain within the coming days, or it will be forgotten by a new hack from a far-flung country. Who knows, at this stage nothing is surprising.

Thank you NBC News for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of masteringfilm

Researchers Prove That Drones Can Be Disabled Using the Right Sound Frequency

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon, South Korea, seem to have found an easy way to take out drones from the sky using ‘the right sound’. They explained that some components inside drones are vulnerable to certain frequencies, so with the right one, you can disable them.

One of the researchers stated that components such as gyroscopes have been made to resonate with sound above the audible spectrum, but some of them are still in the audible spectrum, which makes them vulnerable to interference. In an experiment, they used a speaker attached to a drone and connected to a laptop via Wi-Fi. When the right sound was played through the speaker, the drone dived down and crashed.

Of course, you won’t be able to physically attach a speaker to a drone in most cases if you want to make it crash, but this proves that sounds can be used to crash drones. Other experiments involved attaching a speaker to a police shield and making a sonic wall, but without the proper high-tech equipment to keep aim on the drone while it spirals out of control, it is useless.

The conclusion is that drone enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about it, unless your neighbour silently attached a speaker to your drone. Using high-tech sound disruptors, as far as I know, is illegal in most countries, so if you’re not piloting a high-tech military drone, you should be fine.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

China Bans Supercomputer and UAV Exports Based on National Security Concerns

The Chinese superpower seems to be a bit concerned about its latest tech getting into the wrong hands and has banned the export of unlicensed supercomputers and some UAV models.

The ban seems to forbid any company attempting to export machines capable of outputting eight TFlops of data or more than 2 Gbps of network bandwidth. Taking a look at the Top 500 list of supercomputers, we see China’s Tianhe-2 at the top of it, while the US occupies the 2nd and 3rd place.

The UAV ban comes from news about an Indian drone being shot down in Pakistan, suspected of using Chinese tech. Pakistan has close ties with the US and we all know how the US is keen on getting their hands on Chinese technology, so the word regarding the drone seems to have freaked out some high-ranking officers enough to ban UAV exports from China too.

However, the UAV ban seems to affect only aircraft capable of flying for more than an hour or reaching altitudes of 50,000 feet, so there aren’t many UAVs boasting those kind of specs outside of military use.

There has been no official reason for the ban in question, but speculations point to the ban as a result of the US blocking Intel’s export of high-end x86 chips to China. The race for who has the best tech has been noticed between the US and China for ages now, but signs like this just keep on cropping up. So where is all of this heading? It could be anyone’s guess, but we like to hear your own!

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

This Is Why Strapping a Wi-Fi Connection to a Sniper Rifle Is a Bad Idea

We have come to a point where we embed a lot of technology to weapons, sometimes even too much technology. This is the case of TrackingPoint, a company that makes such smart weapons. One sniper rifle the company produces is so advanced that it would make anyone a pro-marksman when fired. But, as expected for something this advanced, the gun can be hacked.

A group of hackers found a way to hack the sniper rifle via Wi-Fi. Yes, the gun actually has a Wi-Fi antenna that lets you connect and stream its view to other devices. However, the Wi-Fi is off by default. Turning it on, the hackers proved that adjusting some variables can alter the target, so you might be aiming for something, but eventually hitting an entirely different target in the end.

The hack is also very advanced in a way, being able to tap into the ‘root’ permissions of the gun. This means that a hacker can be granted full access to the gun and even lock the user out of it. However, one truly relieving thing is that the gun cannot be fired remotely, requiring manual trigger fire at all times. Hackers can still remove the safety mechanism, so this is still a bit worrying.

From the looks of it, hacking the gun proves to be a challenge. First of all, the Wi-Fi needs to be on, but since most people use sniper rifles in the wilderness and not in their back yard, the likeliness of it being on is next to zero. Even so, the hacker needs to be next to the gun, so as previously mentioned, hiding in a bush with a laptop is also not practical. It might sound next to impossible to hack it, but the hackers tell that malware can be installed on it, so an attacker can somehow hack it at some point and have it targeting or altering stuff at a certain time and place.

All this makes you wonder, doesn’t it? We previously mentioned about machine guns that can target and decide when to shoot and those most likely have Wi-Fi connectivity as well. Once we get to that point where autonomous guns and military machines become more popular, what would happen if someone were to ‘accidentally’ place a malware on one of their networks? Scary, isn’t it? What are your thoughts? Let us know!

Thank you WIRED for providing us with this information

F-35 Just Can’t Keep Up

Hey look here’s a window, let’s just chuck a bucket load of money out of it! this seems to be the vision of the doomed US F-35 stealth jet which has seemingly grasped its pipe and slippers and put its wings up for a mock battle. During said mock battle with the adversary being the US military own F-16 fighter plane, the F-35 outcome was that it was “too sluggish” to hit an enemy plane or dodge gunfire, according to a report.

To my mind, dodging gunfire is an important life skill to have for any multi-trillion-dollar army. During the practise battle, the pilot of the F–16 jet had to avoid being metaphorically hit while being weighted down by weapons, while the F-35 had zero weapons and one confident pilot. Well, the F-35 had the turning circle of one of Roman Abramovich’s expensive yachts and missed every time, or as the report stated, the F-35 “remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement.”

Well I suppose they only spent a couple of million on the F-35 program, yes they did spend a couple of million on the fin alone, as the actual cost of this project according to Lockheed Martin so far has been $1.5 trillion dollars. This fighter plane implements an Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), a next-generation software system which includes 5 million lines of code and it turns out it can’t move very fast in battle.

Governments cannot fully grasp the notion of ensuring any project has a structure in place to control costs at all. It’s false economy to pump so much money into a program which has spiralled out of control, if $1.5 trillion dollars had been reinvested in say helping Americans instead of bombing warzones, perhaps people would be better off with more security. Cash will always be found for agendas and the funny thing is, at least in part, every US citizen is paying for the privilege of having a jet which cannot hit the enemy.

Thank You RT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of F35

United States Air Force Running Short of Drone Pilots

After more than a decade of growth, the United States Air Force will soon be cutting back their drone program. Of the more than 1,200 drone pilots currently serving, a large number of them are at the end of their service obligation and many are opting to leave. Cuts will see peak drone flights fall from the current 65 a day to 60 in just a few months. This means that the number of strikes required is set to increase in the face of the campaigns against the Islamic State and other targets.

Unlike the Army, the Air Force requires pilots to be commissioned officers, which narrows down the field quite a bit. The monotonous alternating day and night shifts in a metal box are also not what most pilots think of when they are signing up. Despite being closer to a simulator, all drone pilots are actual pilots who can pilot real planes. Combined with an understaffed and what many consider a dead end position, many pilots are preferring to move on. Stress is also high as the pilots are still being made to make life and death decisions, sometimes with shaky intel. Private drone operators are also paid as much as 4 times Air Force operators are as well.

While many may point to the drone as the future of warfare, as long as we require a pilot at the controls, the human toll remains at both ends. In some sense, it answers the question even if we’re seeing something through a screen or other device, as long as it’s real, it’s effects are real and no sense of distance might be enough to dampen that effect. Another question that remains is if those operating a device through software should be just as qualified as those physically operating the hardware.

Thank you New York Times for the information

US Military Catches up With the UK with Drones

Drones! These really expensive remote controlled annoyances are huge. If you don’t own one, you will have probably seen one or at least heard of them. This story comes to us from the US military; they have adopted a new drone to use in the strive for ultra covert operations where stealth is key.

Gone are the days of using a remote controlled car, now drones have taken a key place. Not only are they incredibly maneuverable, but they can also be very small. When we think of drones, quadcopters immediately come to mind; while this is the standard for consumer use, drones can pretty much be any shape or size as long as they don’t require a human occupant.

The drone in question is the Black Hornet Nano, or PD-100 UAV if you want to get technical. This miniature drone resembles one of those cheap $15 helicopters you can buy from a market that crashes after about 15 seconds. The key difference between the Nano and the cheap version is about $39,985, yes this costs around $40,000; so it better fly well. It measures in as just 4×1 inches and weighs just 0.04lbs; in with that you also get regular AND thermal cameras, perfect for a night flight.

“According to Defense One, the US Army has “a handful” of these drones in its possession, which it began testing back in March. That said, the tiny, $40,000 Black Hornet Nano has been part of the British military’s arsenal since 2013, so the US is a slightly behind on adopting the device.”

This reminds me of that little surveillance transformer from Transformers 2, where Shia crushes it in his fingers. What are your thoughts on drones getting smaller like this? Good or bad? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you engadget for providing us with this information.

 

SpaceX Falcon 9 Certified for National Security and Military Launches

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch system has been scrutinized by the US Air Force and is now fully certified for future missions, breaking the monopoly currently held by the United Launch Alliance. SpaceX will now be allowed to compete for launch contracts for military and reconnaissance satellites.

“This is a very important milestone for the Air Force and the Department of Defense,” Deborah Lee James told Ars Technica. “SpaceX’s emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade. Ultimately, leveraging of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military’s resiliency.”

It was not overly healthy to have the US Air Force completely beholden to a single entity for its rocketry requirements: It’s not good for resiliency, and it’s not good for the purse strings either. SpaceX previously claimed that ULA launches were costing the US government $460 million per launch and that it could instead offer launches for around $100 million. ULA contested that figure, saying the current launch price is actually $225 million, with a plan to bring that price down to around $100 million as well. No matter what the real figures are, it is very clear to us that Falcon 9’s fresh certification will increase competition and drive down prices.

Elon Mush and SpaceX spent two years and more that 60 million dollars to get the certification, the company will now compete to be able to send roughly one-third of the military rockets and satellites into space. Apparently they won’t be able to launch the largest satellites until the bigger Falcon Heavy is built and certified.

Thank you to Ars Technica for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of WideWallpapers

Combining Night Vision and Thermal Imaging

We are all familiar with night vision and even thermal imaging, the idea of being able to see (with a green hint) in the dark of night and then see people glowing like yellow dots in the woods, has long been used in both real life and video games. But what would happen if you were to combine both of these systems into one? We may see the results soon thanks to the U.S. Branch of BAE Systems.

Titled ‘Rapid Target Acquisition’ (RTA) technology, it combines the functionality of a night vision headset and a thermal headset into one. Currently in the production and qualifying stages the new system, created in partnership with the U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, could soon be seen for field testing.

Combined with a wireless video interface the new system can stream the weapon sight imagery to the users goggles in real-time allowing them to see exactly where their system is facing, and receive the benefit of the technology at the flick of a switch. With the combinations of the systems, the need for aiming lasers at night are all but removed, allowing the users to avoid shining a bright light on a situation they would rather hide from.

Listed among its benefits are lower power, reduced battery usage and operating costs and the light weight and small size nature of the system.

Image and Information Courtesy of BAE Systems.

Android Tablet Delivers Air-Strike in Just Four Minutes

Up until now, American Joint Terminal Attack Controllers have been faced with calling in airstrikes using radios and paper maps. During that time, they required to coordinate and monitor positions of inbound aircrews to avoid friendly fire, while also being in the middle of a firefight. Now, thanks to DARPA and their new Android tablet, it takes less time to do that.

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support works by having it run on the tablet named Kinetic Integrated Low-cost SoftWare Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld, or KILSWITCH for short. The tech was used before in tactical and navigational applications, but this is the first time the military integrated it into air support.

The PCAS is also integrated directly into a plane’s tactical system and acts as well as the older radio-map method did, but in only four minutes. It has been designed to give real-time situational awareness data sharing between ground forces and overhead aircraft.

The system relies on live satellite, intelligence, and surveillance feeds to ensure that both parties are aware of each other up until the bombing commences. This would also allow the military to use fewer smart munitions. DARPA has tested the new tech in TALON REACH, an US Marine Corps infantry/aviation training exercise held in New Mexico.

“I am very pleased with the successful PCAS demonstration that we had during TALON REACH,” Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in a statement. “I have emphasized to my team that we will network every one of our aircraft.”

With more and more technological advancements, it seems that the modern battlefield is drastically changing its façade. It seems that the latest involves bombing in less time than it takes for a pizza to arrive at your doorstep.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Players Want to Make ArmA III Even More Realistic with Latest ACE3 Mod

If you are looking for the ultimate military warfare simulation game, then ArmA III is for you. Yet with all its realism, modders apparently tweaked a lot of its features and added even more realism as they saw fit.

The modders come from three communities, namely the modders behind ACE2, AGM and CSE, who have joined their forces to release ACE3. The modders are said to have spent months on tweaking and polishing their project in order to get what they call “the most comprehensive and realistic gameplay experience for Arma III.”

Core Features

  • Completely new 3D Interaction/Action System
  • Performance and reliability framework
  • Focus on modularity and customisation
  • New flexible client and server settings & configuration
  • Improved medical system with various levels (Basic/Advanced) focus on gameplay/realism
  • Proper & consistent network synced weather
  • Wind and Weather Advanced Ballistics
  • Captivity System
  • Explosives System including different trigger types
  • Map screen improvements, marker placement and map tools
  • Advanced missile guidance and laser designation

Additional Features

  • Carrying and dragging
  • Realistic names for vehicles and weapons
  • Realistic ballistics/FCS calculated in C/C++ extensions
  • Backblast and overpressure simulation
  • A fire control system for armoured vehicles and helicopters
  • Disposable launchers
  • Realistic G-forces
  • Vehicle Locking
  • Realistic Night and Thermal vision modes
  • Magazine repacking
  • Realistic weapon heating
  • Combat deafness simulation
  • Improved Ragdoll Physics
  • Improved interactions for AARs and ammo bearers
  • Adjustable sniper scopes
  • No Idle Animation with lowered weapon
  • No talking player Avatar
  • Jumping over obstacles, climbing over walls and cutting down fences
  • Vector, MicroDAGR and Kestrel devices

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

DARPA’s Idea to Replace Batteries with Propane Seems Mad and Genius at the Same Time

Soldiers are becoming more and more reliant on technology and the old-fashioned lithium-ion batteries won’t really do the trick. The US military currently uses the Ultralife UBI-2590 battery pictured below, which weighs in at 1.4kg a piece. However, their capacity is extremely limited and solders need a lot of them to get the job done in the field.

To overcome this issue, DARPA’s Transformative Apps program and their team of engineers from Ultra Electronics have built a lightweight, 350-watt propane generator that is capable of charging its batteries in the field, with the added bonus that it is completely silent.

The idea might not seem such a game changer, but the picture below comparing the old Ultralife UBI-25290 and DARPA’s propane alternative seems to make sense. The screenshots describe that the propane solution is equivalent to 100 Ultralife batteries, which in turn help soldiers reduce the weight load. One Ultralife UBI-2590 battery weighs in at 1.4 kg, while the generator weighs only 5 kg and the tank just 9 kg. There even seem to be smaller 1.8 kg tank alternatives, should the 9 kg propane tank be too much.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Jeremy Clarkson Offered a New Job, but It’s in Russia

Jeremy Clarkson has been offered a new job just a day after being fired by the BBC, there is just one hitch: it’s in Russia. The Russian Armed Forces Broadcasting Company known as Zvezda has invited Clarkson to present their motoring television show.

Clarkson has not yet revealed if he’s interested in the offer, but the company has asked him to travel to Moscow to discuss further details. In a statement on the website they expressed deep honour to Clarkson and kindly asked for cooperation.

Do you think Clarkson would be interested? What kind of show could be pull off in Russia? I don’t know, but it’s sure fun to think about.

Thanks to BBC for providing us with this information

China Admits Having an ‘Army of Hackers’ to Help with Cyberwars

China has finally admitted that it has cyber warfare units after its government previously denied having any organised cyber warfare elements in an investigation blaming the People’s Liberation Army as being the source for hacking attacks on the US.

Expert on Chinese military strategy at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, Joe McReyolds, stated that this is the first time China admitted that it has digital weapons teams “on both the military and civilian-government sides.”

McReyolds believes that China has split its cyber warfare units into three categories, one being the military operational units, another in civilian organisations with hacking authorisation from the PLA, and another “third-party” category, which sounds more like a hacker-for-hire approach.

“It means that the Chinese have discarded their fig leaf of quasi-plausible deniability,” McReynolds said. “As recently as 2013, official PLA [People’s Liberation Army] publications have issued blanket denials such as, ‘The Chinese military has never supported any hacker attack or hacking activities.’ They can’t make that claim anymore.”

Though analyst have always assumed that China was lying about its cyber warfare units, this may be a small step forward to a more transparent PLA. However, the updated version of The Science of Military Strategy came out back in 2013, but it hadn’t been available to foreign experts up until now.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Studio Behind Pokemon to Produce “Badass” Elephant Game

Titles don’t come much better than, Tembo the Badass Elephant. On that alone, it could be the best game of 2015. It’s an upcoming side-scrolling action game that looks almost like Contra starring an elephant commando: you destroy tanks and soldiers, and at one point you can use a giant bowling ball to knock over your enemies. The first trailer for the game makes it look like a whole lot of fun.

So how does Pokemon relate to this? Well Sega is covering publishing duties, but the Japanese studio behind Pokemon, Game Freak, is dealing with the production side. However, while the company is closely associated with Nintendo and best known for games where fictional animals fight each other for sport, Game Freak has been known to release games on other platforms and in other series as well.

Tembo, meanwhile, won’t be coming to Nintendo platforms at all: it’s slated to launch this summer on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Thanks to The Verge for this information