Posts tagged ‘technology’

FRIDAY FOTO (February 28, 2020)

Above the Clouds.

U.S., Spanish service members conduct jump training

(U.S. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Katie Cox)

U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians conduct free-fall parachute jumps during flight operations with the Spanish navy over Rota, Spain on February. 13, 2020.

EOD technicians are the folks who dismantle bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). And you thought jumping out of an airplane was dangerous. They do this “inherently dangerous job” on land, at sea and under the sea. Sometimes they have to drop in from the skies to get to work.

February 29, 2020 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What Should Tech’s Role in War Be?

Surviving Combat, Completing Mission and Protecting the Innocent.

food-for-thoughtLucas Kunce, a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has some advice for high technology workers in a New York Times opinion piece  that appeared Wednesday (August 28).  Pressing their employers at corporations like Google and Microsoft to refuse government contracts for weapons technology, won’t  change the decision-making of the U.S. leaders who choose to go to war. And therefore, he writes, their petitions and demands are unlikely to prevent any harm caused by war.

Instead,  Kunce says technology companies and their concerned employees should focus on developing devices that help keep both U.S. troops and innocent civilians safe.  He called for:

… tools that enhance situational awareness, provide information that overcomes fear and fatigue, and enable fast, effective and precise combat decisions for both commanders and individuals. If tech companies work with the military, then technologies from applications of A.I. (artificial intelligence) to augmented reality would save innocent lives and reduce suffering.

FRIFO 9-8-2017 Mini Drone

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Michaela R. Gregory)

But he noted the American people and their leaders also need to give some serious thought to determining when, where and how the United States goes to war — not to mention, if we should even go to war in any given circumstance.

America is long overdue for a conversation about how we engage in war and peace; the difference between the decision to go to war and decisions about what happens on the battlefield during warfare; and what it means to fight, die and kill for our country, Kunce wrote.

Here at 4GWAR we think Kunce’s op-ed piece is food for thought and America needs to start that conversation.

August 29, 2019 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 3, 2017)

Building Bridges.

Bridging the gap

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Michael Eaddy)

Soldiers with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard’s 190th Engineer Battalion from Juncos, Puerto Rico, pick up a section of a 40-foot bridge being built for the citizens of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, on October 27, 2017.

These soldiers are with the aptly named 892nd Multi Role Bridge Company. Below is a photo of the gap the new bridge will cross. The span will provide the municipalities of Quebradillas, San Sebastian, and Isabela with a functional bridge until the bridges around the Guajataca Dam, destroyed by Hurricane Maria, are repaired.

Bridging the gap

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Michael Eaddy)

November 3, 2017 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: New B-21 Bomber Unveiled

Name That Plane.

B-21 Bomber

New design and designation for the planned Air Force Long Range Strike Bomber: B-21 bomber. (U.S. Air Force photo: artist’s rendering)

The U.S. Air Force has revealed the design for its planned Long Range Strike bomber, to be officially designated the B-21, and is taking suggestions on what to call the new warbird.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the concept design last week at the Air Force Association‘s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. She said the official designation recognizes the stealthy aircraft will be the first bomber of the 21st Century.

She also said the Air Force will be taking suggestions from its own uniformed personnel on what to call the new plane. Meanwhile, some websites like Defense News have set up an unofficial poll, offering some interesting — and whimsical — names like Wraith, Ghost, Bomberang and Budget Buster.

If the initial design concept looks familiar, James said that’s because the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2 bomber. And that’s because the new bomber has been designed “based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology.”

We’re struck by how much this new design resembles one described by your 4GWAR editor for Air & Space Smithsonian magazine a while back. We asked several defense thinkers what futuristic technologies the LRS would need and what that might look like.

You can view that design here and judge how close they came to the real thing.

The next generation bomber is to be built by Northrop Grumman, which also built the B-2.

March 1, 2016 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED SYSTEMS: Big Droid, Drone and ‘bot Show Opens in D.C. UPDATE

AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013

UPDATES with Teal Group UAV analysis

Customs and Border Protection photo

Customs and Border Protection photo

Hardly a day goes by now when unmanned aircraft, submarines or robots aren’t in the news: flying up to the International Space Station, monitoring dangerous weather or discovering long lost shipwrecks.

They’re also in the news because they can conduct surveillance on bad guys and launch missile strikes on terrorist hideouts — all from a safe distance. And that has some people worried about Big Brother intrusions on civil liberties and due process. There are also concerns — especially about the safety of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) — among the public and some lawmakers in Congress and several states.

But a recent study by an aerospace and defense market analysis firm indicates that future looks bright for UAVs — even in tough budgetary times for the U.S. government. According to Teal Group’s 2013 market study,  UAVs continue to be “the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade.”

Teal Group estimates that UAV spending will more than double over the next decade “from current worldwide UAV expenditures of $5.2 billion annually to $11.6 billion” for a total of “just over $89 billion in the next 10 years.”

An excerpt from the report’s executive summary , released in conjunction with this week’s annual conference and expo of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. (AUVSI), attributes the growth projections to the “enormous growth of interest” in UAVs by the U.S. military. “UAVs have proved their value in Iraq and Afghanistan and are being sought by a growing number of militaries worldwide,” says Philip Finnegan, Teal Group’s director of corporate analysis and an author of the UAV study.

The study cites the demands on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) needs for the expected growth in UAV payloads. The UAV electronics market will grow steadily — with the fastest growth coming in synthetic aperture radar SAR and signals intelligence/electronic warfare SIGINT/EW technology, according to David Rockwell, another author of the study.

Meanwhile, the people who design, build, equip, use and regulate unmanned systems of all types are gathered at the Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital this week to discuss all the ways robots and ‘droids can free humans from tasks that are dirty, dull and dangerous.

U.S. Army Photo

U.S. Army Photo

Officials from the Army, Navy, Department of Transportation, business and academia will be among the speakers discussing robots that operate in the air and space, on the ground and on or under the sea at the four-day conference put on by the AUVSI.

More than 600 products and services will be on display in the enormous exhibit hall. Thousands of attendees are expected — including your 4GWAR editor.

August 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

TECHNOLOGY: DARPA’S Part in Obama Brain Initiative

Pentagon Brainiacs to Study the Brain

Jens Langner image via Wikipedia

Jens Langner image via Wikipedia

The day after President Obama announced a new research initiative to study the human brain, a caller to a Washington radio talk show asked whether he should be concerned that a Pentagon agency – DARPA – was included in the White House brain initiative.

DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – is the Defense Department’s think-outside-the-box research arm. Since its creation in 1958 – in response to the launch of the first manmade spaced satellite, the Soviet Union’s Sputnik – DARPA has been behind some remarkable scientific developments including the Internet, Global Positioning Systems and radar-defeating stealth technology.

But what is the motivation for this government agency, known for high risk projects, to launch a high tech study of how the human brain works? The answer might surprise you. Forget The Manchurian Candidate,” brainwashing and mind control. DARPA is interested in helping people – war injured veterans in particular – recover their memory or their ability to use their limbs again.

DARPA intends to invest about $50 million next year in trying to understand the dynamic functions of the brain and coming up with breakthrough applications. Obama wants to spend a total of $100 million on projects to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure and even prevent brain disorders.

“This kind of knowledge of brain function could inspire the design of a new generation of information processing systems; lead to insights into brain injury and recovery mechanisms; and enable new diagnostics, therapies and devices to repair traumatic brain injury,” DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar, said on DARPA’s website.

According to to the Defense and Veterans’ Brain Injury Center, between the years 2000 and 2012, 266,810 members of the U.S. Armed Services sustained traumatic brain injuries. They ranged from mild (concussion) to penetrating (open head wound/brain penetrated). Most (82.4 percent) are mild, the DVBIJ said.

Defense Department chart

Defense Department chart

April 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm Leave a comment

TECHNOLOGY: War in the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Silent Attack

Sailors maneuver an E/A-18G Growler aircraft assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 141 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in 2011.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman K. Cecelia Engrums)

Sailors maneuver an E/A-18G Growler aircraft assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 141 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman K. Cecelia Engrums)

A flight of Israeli warplanes swoop in over northern Syria and destroy a suspected nuclear weapon manufacturing site without being noticed until their bombs are dropping on the facility. How? The Israelis have never admitted it, but news accounts revealed that Israeli technicians jammed Syrian anti-aircraft radar and brought down the computer system that operated it.

A U.S. Marine Corps sergeant on patrol in Afghanistan carries a backpack with an odd-shaped antenna, that looks like an old umbrella that’s had its canopy stripped away. The weird looking device is actually a radio signal jammer that keeps would-be roadside bombers from detonating their booby traps by pushing a button on a mobile phone.

A U.S. unmanned aircraft flies near Iranian airspace and then disappears. Iran says it brought down the top secret drone using electronic warfare technology that overrode the commands issued by the drone’s controllers. The Pentagon says the UAV crashed.

What do these disparate technologies have in common? They’re all forms of electronic warfare, the growing defense sector that uses the electromagnetic spectrum – or directed energy – as a weapon to jam an enemy’s systems, confuse defenders or maybe even take over control of an enemy’s technology.

You can read more of my story at the website of the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, which will conduct an Electronic Warfare Summit March 18-20 in the Washington area. For details click here.

February 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

TECHNOLOGY: Conflict-driven improvements in body, vehicle armor

Force Protection

The challenges of counter insurgency and unconventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan have sparked several innovations in armor development for both individuals and vehicles over the past decade.

Pvt. 1st Class Cheryl Rogers grins as 2nd Lt. Chelsea Adams helps her into the new Generation III Female Improved Outer Tactical Vest, Nov. 28. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Emily Knitter)

Pvt. 1st Class Cheryl Rogers grins as 2nd Lt. Chelsea Adams helps her into the new Generation III Female Improved Outer Tactical Vest. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Emily Knitter)

From mine resistant, ambush protected vehicles to better ballistic protection in helmets and outer tactical vests, the services’ research labs, university and corporate research divisions have been working to keep the troops safer.

One development that might come as a surprise to some was the Army’s development of female-specific body armor. For years, more and more women soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen have been going in harm’s way to do their jobs as drivers, pilots, mechanics and Female Engagement Team members.

But until 2009, little or no study was given to making generic body armor fit a woman’s body. As one female soldier said “a woman in not a small man” but the ballistics vests that female soldiers and Marines were required to wear “outside the wire” were still too big, or too long or too constricting.

Now,  the Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center at Natick, Massachusetts has come up with eight different sizes of female body armor in two different lengths and the women who have tested them give the new vests high marks.

To read more of my story, click here to  go to the Institute for Defense and Government Improvement (IDGA), which is holding a conference on body and vehicle armor next month outside of Washington, D.C.

January 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment


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