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Military

Boeing Thin Disk Laser engineers and the laser's main optical bench (Photo: Boeing)

The likelihood of lasers appearing on the battlefield was boosted last week when Boeing announced that its Thin Disk Laser system had achieved unexpected levels of power and efficiency. In a recent demonstration for the US Department of Defense, the laser’s output was 30 percent higher than project requirements and had greater beam quality, a result which paves the way toward a practical tactical laser weapon.  Read More

HMS Hermes may have been one of the ships equipped with a laser weapon (Photo: Royal Navy)

Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain.  Read More

ScanEagles can provide real time telemetry for prolonged periods (Image: Boeing)

Radio has come a long way since Marconi bashed a telegraph key and radar is a miracle compared to when it was just a squiggle on a cathode tube, but despite a century of advances, they’re still prone to the same problems as the first pioneers encountered. For five days in July, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Research Vessel (R/V) Knorr made a survey in the waters off Virginia Beach, Virginia using ScanEagle UAVs to study the effect of oceanic and atmospheric changes on radar and radio waves with the aim of producing more secure military communications and improve the ability of radar to detect hostile craft.  Read More

Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the United States' nuclear arsenal was developed

A secret of Cold War came to light recently with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico releasing a video tour of what was once one of the most secret and secure locations in the United States. For decades, Tunnel Vault was used to house nuclear weapon components, but the now declassified facility has now become an artifact of the Dr. Strangelove age.  Read More

Nukemap3D produces virtual mushroom clouds

Feeling cheerful? Why not remedy that by going online and seeing what would happen if someone dropped an H-bomb on your hometown? The browser-based Nukemap3D uses a Google Earth plug in to produce a 3D graphic of the effects of a nuclear weapon on your city of choice. All you have to do is pick your target, select your favorite thermonuclear device, and you can see an animated mushroom cloud rising over ground zero. Gizmag caught up with the creator, Dr. Alex Wellerstein, to talk about Nukemap3D.  Read More

The X-47B making the first UAV arrested carrier landing

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator put another page in the history books on Wednesday with its first unmanned arrested-wire carrier landing. The drone flew 35 minutes from Patuxent River Naval Air Station to the carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia, where is landed at about 145 knots (167 mph, 268 km/h) with an arresting wire catching its tail hook and bringing it to a stop in 350 ft (107 m).  Read More

Atrist's concept of a PCAS heads-up display

The popular image of modern warfare is the digital battlefield where cyber soldiers have Terminator-like video displays and can call in an airstrike with the shine of a laser beam. While information technologies are revolutionizing the military, when it comes to calling in Close Air Support (CAS), it’s still World War One – where a misread or misheard grid reference can end up with soldiers being hit by their own artillery. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program hopes to improve this.  Read More

Bow Mag increases the striking power of your arrow with the insertion of a .38 special or ...

Many archers in adventure stories and comic books use arrows with unusual heads. These include the standard explosive and grappling hook arrows, and the not-so-standard boxing glove arrow, Greek fire arrow, handcuffs arrow, and the ever popular atomic warhead arrow. While real archers generally have to make do with target and field heads, Louisiana-based archery company Rac-Em-Bac is now providing some spirited alternates.  Read More

The British Army will eventually take ownership of 60 Terriers (Video grab: BAE Systems)

The British Army has taken ownership of its first Terrier combat engineer vehicle, which maker BAE Systems claims is the most advanced of its type. The armored vehicle has been described as a Swiss Army Knife for the battlefield, capable of clearing routes or creating cover. Perhaps most significantly, the Terrier is drive-by-wire, and can be controlled remotely with a device very much like a console game pad.  Read More

The DARPA Unattended Ground Sensor

While the needs of the modern digital warrior are growing rapidly, military sensors take three to eight years to develop while private industry can produce similar technology in only one or two years. In the hope of speeding things up, DARPA’s Adaptable Sensor System (ADAPT) program is looking to smartphone industry technologies and practices.  Read More

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