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Military

B-1 Bomber Radar upgrade

April 21, 2006 In terms of sheer firepower, there’s nothing that can match the U.S. Air Force's fleet of 67 B-1B long-range bomber aircraft. Carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons of any aircraft, the multi-mission B-1 can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons, anywhere in the world at Mach 1.2. Each aircraft originally cost US$283 million, but the attention, fettling and long term improvement program costs would dwarf that figure. Each aircraft weighs is capable of carrying around 1.5 times its own weight in bombs for a total take-off weight of 216,634 kilograms. An aircraft commander, copilot, and two weapon systems officers are responsible for delivering a lethal cocktail mixed from the contents of its massive reconfigurable weapons bays. It can pack 24 GBU-31 GPS-aided JDAM (both Mk-84 general purpose bombs and BLU-109 penetrating bombs) or 24 Mk-84 2,000-pound general purpose bombs; 8 Mk-85 naval mines; 84 Mk-82 500-pound general purpose bombs; 84 Mk-62 500-pound naval mines; 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions; 30 CBU-103/104/105 WCMD, 24 AGM-158 JASSMs or 12 AGM-154 JSOWs. The latest US$180 million Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program (RMIP) upgrade will make the fire control of this arsenal more accurate  Read More

Super Hornet demonstrates network capability in multiple JDAM drop

April 19, 2006 As networks connect business and social communities by efficiently sharing information, so too do military networks and the drive towards a networked battlefield is now relentless. An example of the efficiencies available in the battlespace was recently successfully demonstrated when an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet provided targeting coordinates to other aircraft using the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system. During the test at the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., an AESA-equipped F/A-18F created a long-range, high resolution synthetic aperture radar map and designated four closely-spaced stationary targets. The aircraft then data-linked two target designations to non-AESA equipped Super Hornets, which successfully delivered four 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). All four weapons impacted the targets within lethal distance. The targeting Super Hornet then used the AESA to provide highly detailed bomb damage assessments to confirm the hits.  Read More

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) competition

April 14, 2006 BAE Systems' entry in the Army's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) competition has successfully completed environmental tests that validate the weapon's ability to withstand battlefield conditions. Coupled with successful flight tests last year, these results demonstrate the maturity of BAE Systems' APKWS II offering. APKWS II will provide a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets to fill the gap between the 70mm rocket and the Hellfire missile. The system will be used on all Army aircraft currently using the 70mm rocket. The BAE Systems/General Dynamics team is competing with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to provide a new 2.75-inch guided rocket that will enable U.S. Army Apache and U.S. Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters and other platforms to precisely engage non-armored targets with minimal collateral damage. The government is expected to announce the winner later this month.  Read More

ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol) Military Combat Vehicle Concept

April 9, 2006 The ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol) Concept vehicle was created to investigate options for improving survivability and mobility in future military combat vehicles. On the mobility side of things, the designers naturally looked to high-output diesel power (the military has a one fuel policy) but also looked to high-performance automotive engineering practices by adding NASCAR race expertise to the team, along with the use of on-board computers to integrate steering, suspension and brakes. The protective aspects were enhanced by an innovative crew capsule created by a combination of lightweight composite armour materials, a commercial truck chassis, and faceted crew capsule geometries that provide better deflection of pressure waves from blasts compared to current configurations.  Read More

Meet the SLAM-ER

April 2, 2006 Meet the appropriately named SLAM-ER the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response weapon. The most accurate weapon in the U.S. Navy inventory, the SLAM-ER, is an air-launched, day/night, adverse weather, over-the-horizon missile, which can be used in fire-and-forget mode, in which case it will use GPS to deliver its 500-pound warhead, with frightening precisionanywhere within 275 kilometres from its launch point. The clever aspect of the SLAM-ER though, is that it can use the warfighter-in-the-loop meaning it can fly a pre-planned or target-of-opportunity route to the target area and be retargeted in flight by using global positioning system data and an infrared seeker with an advanced data link. The SLAM-ER is also deadly accurate at hitting moving targets travelling at highway speeds.  Read More

The Fox Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle

March 31, 2006 As much as it might sound like it comes from a satellite television company, the Fox (aka Fuchs in German) NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) reconnaissance vehicle is a very serious machine with an increasingly important role. A decade after the end of the Cold War, nuclear, biological and chemical warfare agents remain a serious, perhaps even growing threat in particular reference to biological and chemical agents due to their relatively easy production compared to nuclear agents. Terrorism is another growing threat to populations, forces and territory, as well as to international security. Therefore the ability to reliably and quickly detect the covert release of NBC warfare agents and other toxic substances even under difficult conditions is becoming increasingly important. As such, the announcement that the United Arab Emirates is purchasing 32 Fox NBC vehicles (only 260 exist today) gives us an opportunity to outline the capabilities of these remarkable systems.  Read More

Combat Survivor Evader Locator authorized for use in Middle East Theatre

March 29, 2006 It’s the stuff of movies and nightmares – being shot down and on your own in enemy territory with no way of being found by an extraction team. Well for United States pilots, that’s no longer on the cards as Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees military operations in the Persian Gulf region, has announced the Boeing Combat Survivor Evader Locator (CSEL) communications system has been authorized for use by the joint services now operating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The announcement comes after CENTCOM completed final testing of the CSEL communications system, which allows rescue teams to quickly and securely locate and recover isolated personnel within minutes or hours.  Read More

The world's most lethal six-shot revolver

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

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