Railguns used to a work of fiction, propelling weapons on mecha suits and spaceships to fight aliens and space pirates. This changed several years ago now when BAE systems revealed a working railgun, and even more recently people started working on handheld railguns. With the original plan to mount a test railgun on the joint high-speed vessels (JHSV) this year, it comes as a surprise that there may be a rail gun in operational use before even that.
The Lyndon B Johnson, the last of three Zumwalt-class destroyers that are looking at deployment in 2018, is rumoured to be the first ship that will carry a functional railgun. The concept of a rail gun is to use magnetic charges to propel objects at high speeds without the need for explosive charges. This reduces the cost and the size of projectiles while also reducing the risk of transporting explosive materials everywhere.
The Zumwalt class of destroyers are designed for attacking land-based targets, so firing giant blocks of metal at supersonic speeds sounds like a starting point for them. The U.S. Navy’s director of surface warfare, Pete Fanta, even mused that “it’s engineering at this point, it’s no longer science”.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, catch the minute long clip of a rail gun below and realise just how far we’ve come in making those mecha-suits a reality.
Windows XP reached end of life a year ago, I just turned off the last PC on our network running XP last week. It’s been a hard OS to replace as the Navy have found out.
This, rather amusingly, is still generating Microsoft some serious revenue as large corporations are coughing up the obscene amount of money to receive Microsoft’s extended support.
The US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has closed a $9.1 million contract extension with Microsoft that the agency originally announced earlier this month to extend custom support for the now ancient, Windows XP operating system, as well as the Office 2003 suite and Exchange 2003. According to a Navy contracting announcement, “Across the United States Navy, approximately 100,000 workstations currently use these applications. Support for this software can no longer be obtained under existing agreements with Microsoft because the software has reached the end of maintenance period.”
The renewal will allow the Navy “time to migrate from its existing reliance on the expiring product versions to newer product versions approved for use in Ashore and Afloat networks, and will provide hotfixes to minimize risks while ensuring support and sustainability of deployed capabilities.”
Many of the systems that use Windows XP are currently floating around in the middle of the ocean, unable to be upgraded for long amounts of time due to the location of the vessels.
The navy is not alone in their dependence on Windows XP, the Army also recently approved an agreement with Microsoft to support the 8000 devices they have on the OS.
Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information
You don’t trust anyone with the control of your weapon systems and it looks like the U.S. Navy isn’t too pleased with Lenovo’s recent purchase of the IBM Server division.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy is looking at dropping the IBM servers from some weapon systems after the company’s server line was purchased by Lenovo Group Ltd, a Chinese company.
The last years headlines have shown more than once that security and threats don’t just come from software, but that hardware is an equal access point. With something as crucial as weapon systems, one can understand that the Navy wants to be on the safe side.
On the other hand, more and more reminders of us the cold war era. Russia developing their own CPUs because they don’t trust the west, the U.S. placing trade restriction on China forbidding the sale of the most powerful supercomputers to them, and now this story.
Lenovo spokesman Ray Gorman said that the company generally declined to comment on customer contracts and as such didn’t have anything else to say to this particular case and instead pointed the finger in the direction of the Ministry of Finance.
Lenovo paid a price of $ 2.1 billion when they bought IBM’s low-end x86 server business last year.
At the Department of Defense’s “Lab Day” last week at the Pentagon, scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory unveiled the newest iteration to spy drones, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. US military scientists have invented a miniature drone to glide in the enemy’s airspace and listen in to them. These can be deployed by an airplane or balloon in a large numbers such that it will be impossible for the enemy to pick them all up. It looks like a flying bird from the ground, according to officials. It is cheap, tiny and intelligent glider that can glide to its intended coordinates.
It is being called CICADA: Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft. It is named after the insect that inspired its invention, the Cicada, which spends years underground before appearing in great swarms, reproducing and then dropping to the ground dead. It is so small that eighteen of those can fit inside a six-inch cube. It has no motor and consists of only about 10 parts. The prototype costs about a thousand USD to build, but it can be brought down to $250 on mass production. In a test about three years ago in Yuma, Arizona, Cicada drones were released from 57,600 feet (17,500 meters). The little drone flew about 11 miles(17 KM), landing within 15 feet of its target which proves its accuracy.
Thank you Defence News for providing us with this information.
The US Navy has a big new toy – the USS Poncewith its massive laser cannon.
This giant cannon can shoot objects from great distance, moving at speed and with incredible accuracy. In one of their tests in the video bellow, they fire at an object aboard a boat, alongside a dummy that comes away completely unscathed thanks to the laser’s precise shot.
Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, said:
“We ran this particular weapon, a prototype, through some extremely tough paces, and it locked on and destroyed the targets we designated with near-instantaneous lethality. Laser weapons are powerful, affordable and will play a vital role in the future of naval combat operations.”
If the reason you were intending to leave XP behind was because it just isn’t cool enough, then think again. According to a report the United States navy is one of the government bodies in America still using Windows XP as its primary operating system. Since Microsoft has withdrawn official support for the operating system the American Navy have signed an agreement with Microsoft for them to continue to provide extended support and custom patches to ensure their PCs are kept safe and secure until an OS migration is made.
“Given the scale and scope of Windows XP’s use, the Department has a Custom Support Agreement with Microsoft that provides support for all critical security hotfixes and helps maintain our security posture for both ashore and afloat networks,” a Navy spokesperson added.
The deal between Microsoft and the U.S Navy lasts 3 years and is worth $3.6 million.
Ever watch BattleTech as a child? Well if you haven’t you’re missing out, but if you have then you’re hopes and dreams of being able to see a railgun being fired are about to be realized.
The United States Navy is set to release it’s electromagnetic railgun on a single joint high-speed vessels (JHSV) in 2016 according to the report.
Since 2005 the U.S. Navy has been testing this technology and from the looks of it they’ve been doing a very good job of progressively improving it.
According to the Navy, the weapon uses “an electromagnetic force – known as the Lorenz Force – to rapidly accelerate and launch a projectile between two conductive rails.” The weapon will be able to shoot projectiles at an increased velocity than any weaponry available right now, which in turn will allow each round to travel much greater distances. Because of this ability to maintain velocity for a greater period of time, this means that it will not require a “high explosive payload” when it reaches a target. The Navy has stated that this will make its ships safer because they won’t have to carry as many explosives on board. Once the weapon is ready for deployment, the Navy states that the railguns will be able to launch “guided, multi-mission projectiles to a range of 110 nautical miles.”
The Naval Research Labratory has been testing pilotless helicopters for some time now. In fact, they’ve been using them in Afghanistan already but due to their inefficiencies in operating the technology it isn’t being used to its full potential.
Marines primarily use the unmanned helicopters for the delivery of items like water, food, and gear from place to place, where ever it might be needed.
The improvement in technology brings a greater level of autonomy to these units. According to officials associated with the project, the technology has been tested on three different helicopters already as well as two versions being produced by both Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences.
New research from the Office of Navel Research is looking for what ship controls might look like in the not too distant future. Project BlueShark is currently testing out the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset which allows the captain / pilot of a craft to look around their environment and view objects relative to his position, something that just isn’t possible on a flat display.
Even the most modern of Navy vessels such as the stunning USS Zumwalt are limited to 2D displays and their are many obvious benefits to monitoring radar and other assets at sea with the added depth, given that you can have aircraft above, ships on the surface and submarines and other objects below the surface, being able to differentiate the depth and distant at a glance can be the difference between life and death.
Using a virtual avatar sat on top of a virtual vessel, John Moor of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory explores a ship using a touch interface, tracking hardware and an Oculus Rift, one can easily imaging the technology being hooked up to real time 3D cameras positioned around the ship, or even on drones, giving the crew a big tactical advantage.
Thank you Popsci for providing us with this information.