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March 18, 2006 The firepower that can be carried by one person rose to new levels this week when the United States Marines began testing an experimental weapon known as the M-32 Multiple shot Grenade Launcher. The M-32 weighs just six kilograms and is the latest in a long line of multi-shot, revolver-type, hand-held, grenade launchers from Milkor - a much earlier version was used against the aliens in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Predator - and it can deliver six 40mm grenades within three seconds with the benefits of an advanced sighting scope that allows a Marine to “follow” the grenade to the target and immediately adjust and follow up with a lethal volley of indirect fire over a 400 metre range. The kicker is that amongst the wide range of ammunition available to the M-32 is the MIE Direct Range Air-Consuming Ordnance (DRACO) Grenade. MIE’s brochure on the thermobaric DRACO says it all – “When you absolutely, positively need to eliminate the enemy!” One MIE DRACO will turn a building into rubble. With six DRACOs, the M-32 MGL might realign the way Marines operate at the small-team level. Fire teams could become more lethal, more mobile and more independent. The idea of a dedicated grenadier might just be reborn.  Read More

Declassified covert military surveillance system to protect international borders

February 25, 2006 Picture an intruder stepping stealthily across an international borderline. Now shift to a U.S. Command and Control center several miles away where a computer system is alerting a security officer to the intruder's movement, having detected the slight sound of a footstep and zeroed in on the intruder's exact location. The security officer dispatches a UAV to monitor from the air, ground forces to intercept on the ground, and the intruder is stopped. The detection, classification, location, and tracking system is a recently de-classified covert surveillance and intelligence gathering system, which is now in full-scale development as a result of a licensing agreement between the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Newport, R.I., which invented the sensor technology, and GCS Research of Missoula, Mont., which is further developing and commercializing it.  Read More

 Image courtesy of Cluster Munition Coalition

February 19, 2006 U.S. legislation was introduced on February 14 to protect civilians from the deadly effects of cluster munitions. The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy, would prohibit the use of cluster munitions in populated areas and prohibit the use and transfer of cluster munitions with submunitions that have a failure rate of 1 percent or more. U.S.-manufactured cluster munitions have reportedly been used in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, and Laos. On top of that, the U.S. has transferred cluster munitions to over twenty countries, some with poor human rights records. In addition to limited U.S. use of these indiscriminate weapons, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 would require any country that buys U.S.-made cluster munitions to agree to not use such weapons in civilian areas. If you have any doubt about just how scary cluster munitions are, check out the following video links. Cluster munitions are fired, launched or dropped by aircraft or land-based artillery (FAQs here). The containers open over a target area and disperse large numbers of the submunitions that are designed to explode when they hit the target. In a recent statement calling for strong international action to end the human tragedy associated with cluster munitions, the International Committee of the Red Cross stated that "it is a terrible reality that civilians are so often caught up in the horrors of modern conflict, but it is utterly unacceptable that they should return to homes, villages and fields littered with explosive debris. Cluster munitions are often the worst offenders. It is time for decisive action to address this situation." The US has a stockpile of millions of cluster munitions that contain between 720 million and 1 billion submunitions. Only around 30,000 of those submunitions have safety features that might bring the failure rate below 1 percent. The acknowledged failure rate for some of the others is more than 20 percent. “This landmark legislation would put the US at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate weapons that have killed and maimed thousands of civilians,” said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch. “At the moment, the US is best known as one of the most prolific users, producers, exporters and stockpilers of the weapon.” You can lend your support here. February 14, 2006 U.S. legislation was introduced on February 14 to protect civilians from the deadly effects of cluster munitions. The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Ac...  Read More

Volvo builds a 4x4

January 28, 2006 We love to write about intelligently-designed, purpose-built machinery and we’ve noticed that there’s a bit of a trend in recent times towards building transport ruggedised to withstand the rigours of armed-attack. In recent times, we’ve written about the world’s toughest bus (the Rhino Runner), the fastest armoured 4WD in the world (the Kombat T-98), the world’s first widely-available armoured luxury saloon car and the US Army’s Smartruck and now this interesting and unique bus from Volvo. Built on a Volvo 4x4 truck chassis for use by the Swedish UN peace-keeping armed forces currently based in Liberia, West Africa, it is designed to carry 40 passengers and will be used primarily by UN soldiers in Liberia. However, given the current state of unrest there, it will also be possible to use the bus to evacuate local inhabitants, should the need arise.  Read More

New low-cost system updates guided weapons with target info after firing

January 22, 2006 A significant milestone in guided weapons technology has just been achieved by QinetiQ with the successful demonstration of the first UK air-to-ground weapons to receive updated target coordinates information post-release. Late last month the RAF's Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit, participating in the trial, released two separate Enhanced Paveway 2 (EPW2) weapons from a Tornado GR4 aircraft. Released at an altitude and angle calculated to provide a time of flight of between 30 and 60 seconds, each weapon was twice updated in-flight with new target coordinates, which the weapons received and to which they successfully steered. Weapon terminal guidance was within that expected of GPS accuracy on the day. Though the U.S military was the first with a sophisticated in-flight missile re-targeting technology, the QinetiQ system is expected to have a much lower cost.  Read More

Solid-State Laser to be developed by the military

January 22, 2006 The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command has set in motion the third phase of the Joint High Power Solid-State Laser (JHPSSL) program – a 36-month, US$56.68 million program to develop "military-grade," solid-state laser technology that is expected to pave the way for the U.S. military to incorporate high-energy laser systems across all services, including ships, manned and unmanned aircraft, and ground vehicles. This image shows Northrop Grumman Corporation's concept of an Future Combat Systems-class Army ground-combat armoured vehicle with a solid-state laser that would be used to defeat incoming threats like mortars and rockets.  Read More

New Radar Scope offers X-ray vision

January 15, 2006 There was once a time when a concrete wall on the battlefield meant that a soldier was both safe from bullets and invisible to the enemy. Thanks to the coming XM25 Advanced Airburst Weapon System and DARPA’s latest invention, the “Radar Scope”, the concrete wall has now been rendered useless on both counts. The new "Radar Scope" offers warfighters the very same x-ray vision with which SuperMan captivated a generation of youngsters – it can see through walls. The Radar Scope is a light-weight, low-cost, through-wall personnel detector that uses stepped-frequency radar to detect subtle changes in Doppler signature of the returned signal. Put simply, it is a motion detector that can see through walls.  Read More

ASTOR Radar tests deliver quality target imagery

January 13, 2006 The flight test programme for the U.K. Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) programme is progressing well in the U.S. and the U.K. As of December, 2005, a/c #1 (based in Greenville, Texas) was well into its series of check flights while, in the U.K., a/c #2 had completed its first phase of flight testing. According to the test team, the DMR in a/c #1 was producing good quality imagery on only its second operational check flight. ASTOR is a ground surveillance system designed to provide information regarding the deployment and movement of enemy forces. It uses state-of-the-art radar technology to obtain high resolution imagery of static features and can also identify and track moving vehicles. Imagery gathered is transmitted in near-real-time to a network of distributed Ground Stations deployed with front-line forces. Images can be displayed and analysed within the Ground Stations, ensuring that tactical commanders are aware of the latest developments on the ground. ASTOR will be a brand new capability for the UK Armed Forces and the most advanced system of its kind, anywhere in the world, when it enters service. It will be a vital force multiplier in the modern conflict where speed of battle is such that up-to-date information is crucial if troops are to be deployed effectively.  Read More

Sea Based X-Band Radar

January 12, 2006 We just had to run this US Department of Defence image because it rates as remarkable on several counts. That’s the Norwegian heavy lift vessel MV Blue Marlin with a deck cargo of a Sea Based X-Band Radar entering Pearl Harbor a few days ago after completing a 15,000-mile journey from Corpus Christi, Texas. The Sea Based X-Band Radar is a combination of the world's largest phased array X-band radar carried aboard a mobile, ocean-going semi-submersible oil platform. The radar is capable of highly advanced, ballistic missile detection while discriminating a hostile warhead from decoys and countermeasures. The platform, which is much larger than it looks, will undergo minor modifications, maintenance and routine inspections in Pearl Harbor before completing its voyage to the Aleutian Islands. See inside for more pics, including one which will suddenly jolt your senses into just how gargantuan the subjects of this image are.  Read More

The cannon of the 21st century - the Howitzer M777

December 5, 2005 The Chinese were the first to experiment with explosive powders around 300 AD but it was not until 1252, when the secret ingredients of those powders were documented in an essay by Roger Bacon that the age of the cannon and “gun powder” began. The cannon of the modern era was first used sometime between 1300 and 1350 and was widely used throughout Europe by 1400, redefining warfare and reaching the heights of its powers in the 17th century before further technological developments matched its key military role. These days it would be easy to underestimate the role of the cannon in warfare where brute force has been replaced with surgical precision but ponder for a minute the capabilities of the new Howitzer M777. The M777 is the first ground combat system to make extensive use of titanium and aluminium and is approximately half the weight of comparable systems, making it easily transportable, easily towed across country at high speed and easily fitted to faster, lighter, purpose built vehicles. It is capable of firing a 155mm shell at up to five rounds per minute while achieving high levels of accuracy with targets up to 30 kilometres away. Firing Raytheon’s new Excalibur satellite-guided artillery shell, the M777 has proven pinpoint accurate, and although specifications call for them being capable of striking within ten metres at a range of 40 kilometres, tests have shown much greater accuracy.  Read More

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