The heavy, treaded, gun-swinging battlefield behemoths know as tanks haven't changed much since their invention a century ago. Using a crapload of armor, the tank is meant to keep soldiers inside safe from bullets and other projectiles, while shooting a cannon at anything that poses a threat. But the problem with all this armor is that it makes vehicles slow and therefore more vulnerable. DARPA wants to change that. Their new Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) initiative aims to get vehicles beyond armor, figuring out new ways to keep the people inside safe without sacrificing mobility.
Powered by a pusher propeller, covered in pixel camouflage, and furnished with stadium-seating for its two crew members, the Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance and Surveillance Aircraft (AHRLAC) looks like an alternate history version of a World War I fighter. The result of a collaboration between South Africa's Aerosud aviation firm and the Paramount Group, the AHRLAC is designed as a cheap alternative to the big name in military surveillance right now: drones.
If the latest tests are any indication, humans and robots will soon fight alongside one another, against other humans and maybe other robots. Yesterday, the U.S. Navy announced the first "successful manned & unmanned aircraft flight operations" of its experimental X-47B drone. The tests were performed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Following the fatal police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last Saturday, a protest movement broke out in the small town. Police from St. Louis County responded, showing up with body armor, gas masks, rifles, camouflage uniforms, armored cars, and tear gas. This excessive show of force, combined with gear that looks very military, has lead to widespread outcry against police militarization, including some objections from veterans themselves. Here's a look at some of the gear on the ground in Ferguson and how it made its way from military service to police armories.
In the high desert near Bluffdale, Utah, there lurks a creature made entirely of zeroes and ones. Called "MonsterMind", the project is an automated cyber weapon, perched atop the data flows into the National Security Agency's Mission Data Repository. According to recent revelations from former government contractor and NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Monstermind is both tremendously powerful and easily fooled. Here's the skinny on the biggest revelation from Wired's recent profile of Snowden. Author James Bamford writes:
On August 6th, 1945, the American B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on Hiroshima, Japan. It was the second atomic weapon ever detonated, and the first used in actual war. A few weeks earlier, Manhattan Project researchers detonated the first atomic weapon in a remote New Mexico desert, but it was the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ushered in the nuclear age with a blinding flash . Here's how Popular Science covered the attack.
Russia recently ordered a batch of new attack helicopters, including 32 that could go onto a new amphibious assault ship. There's just one hitch: France is building that ship, and following Russia's invasion of Crimea and support for Donetsk separatists in Eastern Ukraine, there's a lot of international pressure for France to cancel the order.