Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Military

B-2 Bomber with Massive Penetrator weapon

July 23, 2007 Just how important does someone have to be to have their own 30,000 pound bomb delivered by a billion dollar aircraft? We'll soon know. We have written about the Massive Penetrator weapon before here and detailed the awesome firepower and effectively infinite range of the US$1.157 billion B-2 here. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions through previously impenetrable defenses. The B-2’s low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency, large payload and an unrefueled range of approximately 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers) give it the unique ability to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated defenses and threaten its most valued, and heavily defended, targets.  Read More

Happy 60th birthday to the deadliest gun in history

July 8, 2007 No-one knows how many AK-47s have been made - a patent was never applied for, so it has been copied by numerous small arms manufacturers across the world since it came into being this weekend, sixty years ago. One estimate puts the number of Kalashnikov AK-47s manufactured at 100 million, making it by far the most populous rifle in history. For six decades, it has been the common man’s rifle - the lowest common denominator of conflict across the planet and the standard issue of many armies still. A triumph of self-taught design, Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 delivered more bang-per-buck than any other firearm of its day and it never stopped working. Born in 1947, the AK-47 has been best friend to hundreds of millions of men, driving the popularity of the boy’s name Kalash in war-torn countries. Cumulatively, AK-47s have been the first spoil of war, so each weapon would have changed sides many times, with every damaged weapon yielding its undamaged parts to another composite weapon – astoundingly, of the 100 million made, 30 million are still in service in the harshest environment of all. That equally qualifies the gun as delivering the highest levels of misery and wasted humanity of any invention in history. Like the spear, bow and arrow, sword and earlier incarnations of the rifle, the AK-47 has been the dominant military weapon responsible for nearly all changes of sovereignty, and is now taking its place in history in the national emblems of many new nations. Sadly, Kalashnikov’s body of work suggests he would have been a genius in any other field.  Read More

This hybrid power supply will power a range of devices for soldiers in the field.

July 5, 2007 Infantry soldiers have a tough lot in life. Apart from being constantly shot at and placed in risk of bodily harm, they're frequently forced to carry around large amounts of heavy equipment, sometimes weighing over a third of their bodyweight. On a typical 5-day-operation, disposable and rechargeable batteries alone account for about ten kilograms of backpack weight, not to mention the various charging devices for cell phones, PDAs and visual systems. There's good news though - German researchers have developed a lightweight hybrid power supply that will soon be able to ease the load.  Read More

Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Derek Twigg MP, paid a visit to East Anglia to highl...

June 28, 2007 Northrop Grumman demonstrated its CUTLASS unmanned explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) vehicle to the U.K. Under-Secretary of State for Defence last week. The CUTLASS system offers the latest technology in a modular design, enabling the user to deal with the full range of both military and improvised explosive devices. Its highly versatile design means that it is capable of accommodating a wide range of payloads, sensors and tools. The manipulator arm is equipped with a state-of-the-art gripper and has nine degrees of freedom for greater movement and agility inside limited spaces, such as the interior of a car. The robot is able to creep along at deliberately slow speeds for delicate operations and may accelerate to high speeds to enable rapid travel. The six-wheeled design offers mobility on all types of hard and soft terrain and in all weather conditions.  Read More

XREP utilizes a shotgun platform

June 27, 2007 TASER is set to introduce the latest addition to its range of non-lethal weapons next month. The new Extended Range Electronic Projectile (XREP) is launched from a standard 12-gauge shotgun platform and is the first wireless TASER device. Now well established in the market, TASER stun guns are widely used in law enforcement, military and more recently, consumer applications. Along the way the company has become embroiled in a string of court cases relating to injuries or deaths which were claimed to be caused by the device and has released a special white paper on the topic ahead of the XERP launch. Though we cannot think of a situation where it would not be preferable to respond with non-lethal force rather than lethal force, it seems people still wish to take on TASER legally - so far the scoreline reads 51-0.  Read More

LANdroids - self-organizing, self-healing communications network for urban warfare

June 25, 2007 Modern warfare is increasingly urban - when you're fighting small groups of anonymous guerrilla insurgents there's no pitched battlefields and American forces are finding that their radio communications are suffering in these Non-Line-Of-Sight environments. The solution? Squadrons of smart communications robots, or LANdroids, each the size of a deck of cards, that can be scattered through an urban environment to create a self-organizing mesh radio network. Each unit constantly repositions itself for maximal signal strength, and if a LANdroid is destroyed, the rest of the units will reposition themselves to restore communications.  Read More

Advanced Gun Systems aboard the Zumwalt Class Destroyer

June 21, 2007 The role of the Navy has changed with the U.S. "War on Terror" - it is seldom involved in direct naval battles and much more often relegated to support of invading (liberating?) land and air forces. Thus, munitions are being designed to suit. BAE Systems' Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) are currently under construction and will redefine the state of the art for naval firepower. The vertically loaded, pivoting gun towers will launch 155mm standard and guided munitions to a range of approximately 100 miles, with accuracy between 20 and 50 metres and at a rate of up to 12 rounds per minute.  Read More

The small pod containing Northrop Grumman's laser Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DI...

June 19, 2007 We’ve all seen the scenario many times in films – a heat-seeking missile is launched towards a helicopter and relentlessly pursues its prey to destruction. Now it appears that there’s a removable laser Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) System which can defeat such threats. The system was tested for the first time recently and successfully thwarted a series of simulated heat-seeking missile attacks on a Dutch AH-64D Apache helicopter during flight trials at Vliehors Test Range in the Netherlands. The small pod containing Northrop Grumman's laser Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) system mounts to the end of the stub-wing on the Apache AH-64D attack helicopter. The system functions by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat and activating a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile.  Read More

The Sky Warrior, from General Atomics

June 18, 2007 Resurrecting a great name from the 1950s, General Atomics have completed the maiden flight of their Sky Warrior Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). While the original, built by Douglas, was known for being the largest and heaviest "whale" of a bomber to take-off and land on aircraft carriers, the new Sky Warrior will operate as an unmanned long range surveillance, communications and weapons delivery drone. Able to run happily on diesel or jet fuel due to its Heavy Fuel Engine, the Sky Warrior will form a key part of the U.S. Army's Extended Range/Multi Purpose Unmanned Aircraft system.  Read More

Polarisation technology shows up the hidden trip wires in the image.

June 4, 2007 Silent, unmoving, millimetre-thin and extremely difficult to see, trip and command wires are frequently found on land mines, conventional munitions and many improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In a bid to increase troop and civilian safety in war zones, defense contractor QinetiQ has been given a UK£800,000 contract to produce and evaluate portable tripwire detection devices based on polarization technology that's showing positive results.  Read More

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