In today's world, vacuum tubes or radio valves seem as dead as high button shoes and buggy whips, but DARPA sees them as very much the technology of the future. As part of a new program, the agency is looking to develop new tube designs and manufacturing techniques for use in tomorrow's high-powered communications and radar systems.
The US Marine Corps has declared the F-35B Lightning II operational. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, based in Yuma, Arizona, which has ten of VSTOL multi-role fighters, was today officially cleared for worldwide deployment after a five-day Operational Readiness Inspection.
Bulletproof vests are great if you happen to get shot, but what happens if you get shot on a boat and fall overboard or have to dive into choppy waters to escape a fire? Well, hopefully you're wearing the Flotation Armor Torso System (FATS) from BCB International. Not only does this vest protect you from bullets, it self-inflates to serve as a life vest.
Mention military exoskeletons
and it will likely conjure up visions of something like Iron Man, that
gives a soldier super strength or the ability to march all day with a
pack the size of a piano. However, exoskeletons can provide more than
brute strength. Taking a page from therapy exoskeletons,
Dan Baechle, a mechanical engineer at the US Army Research Laboratory
(ARL), is developing the MAXFAS exoskeleton that doesn't make soldiers
stronger, but better shots instead.
A high-power laser weapon light enough to be carried by tactical aircraft has moved out of the laboratory and onto the testing ground. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' High-Energy Liquid Laser Defense System (HELLADS) has finished its US Government Acceptance Test Procedure and is on its way to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for live-fire tests.
It sounds like an old Goon Show joke, but soldiers may one day protect themselves from blasts by wallpapering temporary shelters. It may not be very decorative, but the new ballistic wallpaper under development by the US Army Corps of Engineers uses a special fiber inlay to help prevent walls from collapsing under blast effects.
It's not uncommon for technology developed for the military to eventually find its way into consumer products, but the US Army is taking things in the other direction. In an effort to improve the safety of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, it is fitting them with electronic stability control (ESC) technology like that found in commercial vehicles for years.
The smallest distraction can break a golfer's concentration and ruin their shot, so how would they react to tanks and explosions? If they were at the 18 hole course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, last week, probably not at all. That's because the fairways and greens were only turned into a battlefield complete with tanks, mortar fire, and smoke thanks to the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT), which made the firefight visible only to participants wearing special glasses.
Earlier this year Sandia National Laboratories fired a nuclear warhead out of a cannon in New Mexico. The reason you didn't hear an earth-shattering kaboom is because it was an inactive weapon that was fired into a tank of water as part of a federal program to improve the longevity and effectiveness of the US nuclear stockpile.
In military parlance, the job of a soldier is to find, fix, and finish the enemy. However, this is a bit difficult when the soldier has to fumble with different scopes while keeping eyes on the target. To simplify things, BAE Systems is developing a combination night vision and thermal imaging system that not only allows soldiers to rapidly acquire and engage targets in all weather and lighting, but also to remotely aim their weapons without looking through the sights.