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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

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

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