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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

Guncam offers accountability and understanding

December 4, 2005 At some point in the future, it’s quite feasible that we’ll record everything we do, given that storage space continues to get cheaper and digital imaging devices are fast becoming ubiquitous. The important things will be first, so we can learn better ways, and one of the most important areas we know so very little about is what actually happens in a firefight – no other situation on earth has as much potential to distort reality as being in mortal danger. So the guncam is important - this weapon mounted camera records video in firefights, grants accountability, helps training and avoids risky body exposure of the user. One of the main problems in the use of firearms, in firefight incidents, is not knowing how they were used and how the missions were executed, which generates a problem in terms of accountability of actions. That is why it is fundamental for officers in command to easily retrieve as much accurate information as is available in order to analyze the events. The Guncam can also be used in conjunction with a GPS, enabling the locations at which images were taken to be pinpointed.  Read More

Thermobaric weapons under fire again

War is ugly and inhumane but seemingly inevitable - so it makes sense to have some rules around what is acceptable and what isn’t. One of the most interesting stories of the week surfaced when David Hambling wrote in Defensetech about a new weapon in use by the US in Iraq - the SMAW-NE. Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapons (SMAW) have been in use for two decades, using High Explosive Anti-Armor (HEAA) rockets against tanks and High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) rockets against bunkers and light armour. But now there’s a new rocket with a thermobaric charge so destructive it can be used to demolish buildings. Thermobaric weapons disperse a flammable mist of underoxidised fuel which ignites to create a multipurpose explosion of immense destructiveness. Firstly, it is accompanied by a massive fireball which incinerates all in its path. Secondly, it creates a massive pressure wave capable of rupturing the internal organs of all those nearby and so powerful that it can reduce load-bearing walls to rubble and bring down buildings. Finally, the explosion also sucks all the oxygen out of the air, asphyxiating anyone in the immediate vicinity . Basically, if you’re in the building when it hits, it’ll kill you. Human Rights Organisations believe the weapons are inhumane, and that the potential for non-combatant deaths is far too great for the weapons to be used in urban areas.  Read More

PhaSR – the first man-portable, non-lethal deterrent weapon

November 5, 2005 No this is not a movie prop nor will it be marketed by Mattel for the bigger boys this Christmas– it is one of two working prototypes of a non-lethal laser gun built by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate. The non-lethal illumination technology weapon was developed by the laboratory's ScorpWorks team. Dubbed the PhaSR (who needs a Madison Avenue creative team when you can come up with names like this – an acronym for Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response), it is the first man-portable, non-lethal deterrent weapon and is intended for protecting troops and controlling hostile crowds. The weapon employs a two-wavelength laser system and is a hand-held, single-operator system for troop and perimeter defense. The weapon’s laser light temporarily blinds its targets.  Read More

Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System (LOCASS) successfully flight tested

November 4, 2005 The cost of armed, autonomous vehicles which can loiter over the battlefield and destroy enemy targets seems to be coming down fairly quickly, if recent flight tests are any indication. The Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System (LOCASS), is an autonomous, wide-area search, miniature munition equipped with a LADAR seeker and was successfully flight-tested at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, USA on October 21. Each LOCAAS carries a multi-mode explosively formed warhead which can be detonated as a long rod penetrator, an aerostable slug, or as fragments, based upon the hardness of the target. The Lockheed Martin-developed LADAR seeker can identify the target and determine the aim point and warhead mode.  Read More

The Battlefield Target Identification Device (BTID) - don't leave home without it

November 1, 2005 Fratricide is the military term for getting killed by your own side. As dreadful as it may sound, it happens in every conflict and one of the key objective in the digitalisation of the battlefield is to eliminate the self-inflicted carnage. Raytheon (RSL) is currenty trialling two Battlefield Target Identification Device (BTID) Transponders at the Coalition Combat Identification Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (ACTD) trials being undertaken on Salisbury Plain which are intended to do just that. RSL was contracted by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in July this year to provide the systems and also to provide vehicle integration and associated technical support during the trials. The Raytheon equipment will be fielded on UK, US and Italian combat vehicles.  Read More

Multi Ammunition Softkill System uses Bullfighting methodology

October 25, 2005 The effectiveness of armed forces has improved dramatically thanks to the availability of advanced, information-processing sensors, but as these capabilities have spread, the threat to man and material from hostile reconnaissance systems and missiles has also grown and the development of effective protection systems is becoming increasingly important. The recent demonstration of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) by BAE Systems for U.S. military forces was a site to behold. The system works in exactly the same way that a bullfighter draws the alignment of the charging bull away from his body – MASS lures the hostile missile system away from its naval target with a optimized key stimuli. Insiders refer to this as the Pamela Anderson principle.  Read More

U.S. Army invests US$22 million in next-generation thermal weapon sights

October 16, 2005 All objects emit infrared energy or heat, and this energy can be viewed with an infrared lens designed to create a thermogram, or picture, of the environment, regardless the amount of light. Although objects in a scene can be the same temperature, they often appear to be different temperatures, due to the way they emit infrared energy. Variations in the energy that objects emit create a detailed temperature map of a scene that easily can be interpreted by the viewer. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that the U.S. Army is investing US$22 million with thermal imaging specialists DRS technologies to produce next-generation Medium Weapon Thermal Weapon Sights (TWS II) for U.S. Marine Corps applications.  Read More

First live fly demonstration of airborne, maritime and fixed station JTRS prototype

October 15, 2005 The once free-flowing battlespace is fast becoming a tightly-integrated information system for the US military. Lockheed Martin this week successfully completed a live fly demonstration of the Airborne, Maritime and Fixed Station (AMF) component of the military's Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) program. The demonstration featured airborne, ground-based and simulated maritime units collaborating in real time across an integrated airborne IP network to rapidly find, identify and strike a time-sensitive target.  Read More

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