Military

Cyberattack risk prompts Navy to take up celestial navigation

Hackers have hit government agencies and private companies alike, and the instances of data theft and compromise are becoming increasingly severe. The risk of cyberattacks is ever present, and as such, the U.S. Navy has decided to restart teaching celestial navigation as a backup tool. The Naval Academy used to teach celestial navigation, but stopped in the 1990s, prompting outcry.

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DARPA’s looking toward disappearing delivery drones

The problem with making deliveries to remotely located military troops is that anyone can see the delivery take place — at least those nearby — and will know, as a result, approximately where the team is located. In other situations, the delivery vehicle could be at risk by being visible. Parachutes are the most common form of military delivery operations, but they’re burdensome in addition to being visible, requiring personnel to bring the parachute back out with them. As a potential way to solve these problems, DARPA has turned its sights toward invisible delivery drones.

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DARPA ElectRx program underway: seven teams selected

DARPA's ElectRx self-healing program is now underway, with the research entity having selected seven research teams who will work toward the goal of using electricity to heal wounded soldiers. DARPA describes this as being a “closed-loop system” that heals via “modulating the activity of peripheral nerves,” with the targeted diseases including everything from inflammation and achy joints to PTSD.

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Military testing towers with remote-controlled weapons

The U.S. Army is testing remote-controlled weapons at guard towers, something aimed at reducing how many soldiers are needed to secure a perimeter. The testing is taking placed at Fort Bliss in Texas presently; this is an evaluation, according to the Army, one called Network Integration Evaluation 16.1 (NIE). The testing is taking place from September 25 to October 8, giving it one more week to go.

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DARPA’s exploring chip implants to create enhanced soldiers

DARPA, ever exploring the mad science aspects of what is and could be possible, is looking into the possibility of implanting chips into soldiers’ brains to enhance their performance on the battlefield..and, maybe, to help them deal with the traumatization that often results. In this case, the trauma is of the physical sort — traumatic brain injuries are too common amongst soldiers on the battlefield, and they’re often life changing.

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Boston Dynamics’ Spot robo-dog being tested by Marines

DARPA and Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog Spot, which we talked about back in February, is now being tested by the Marine Corps for possible use in warfare situations. DARPA trained Marines located at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico on how to operate Spot, which weighs 160 lbs. Among other things, Spot is being tested as a way to search for enemies ahead of Marines entering a building.

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This is the US military’s replacement for the Humvee

It's taken almost a decade, but the US Pentagon has finally decided on a vehicle to replace the aging Humvee, or, more commonly, the Hummer. Meet Oshkosh Defense's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), the winning bid for the military's contract. Wisconsin-based Oshkosh beat out competitors Lockheed Martin and AM General (the makers of the original Humvee) for a contract that is estimated to be worth $30 billion over the next few decades. The first production run will see 17,000 JLTVs produced in 2016, priced at $6.7 billion.

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Researchers create efficient origami-inspired military shelters

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have created, with funding from the U.S. Army, a deployable mobile shelter that is both energy efficient and relatively easy to construct in the field. These mobile shelters were designed based on origami principles, and are unfolded in a similar manner, being assembled from sections that fold flat for transporting. There are several benefits to the mobile shelters, but the most important is arguably their efficiency.

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Military testing noise gun that shoots loud plasma ball

Non-lethal weapons are used in a variety of situations and contexts: during riots, as deterrents, and more. Shooting bean bags and pepper spray isn't always ideal, however, and the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program group is actively developing alternatives. One such alternative is LIPE, which stands for Laser-Induced Plasma Effect weapon. LIPE is essentially a noise gun, one that works by shooting a blue ball of plasma that produces a very loud noise directed at a very precise target, such as a car’s windshield.

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US Army develops arm exoskeleton to speed up shooting skills

The US Army has developed an exoskeleton designed to be worn over the arm, and its purpose is to help future soldiers develop their marksmanship skills without the long duration of training typically involved. The mechatronic arm exoskeleton, as it is being called, is currently in testing as a future potential training tool. The benefits could exceed the speed of skill acquisition, as well, having other benefits like reducing the amount of ammunition used during training and, thusly, reducing training costs.

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Top Gun 2 to pit drones against Cruise’s Maverick

When you green-light a sequel to a classic like Top Gun you need more than just topless sweaty men playing volleyball, so Tom Cruise is set to battle drones. Cruise will reprise his role as Maverick, movie producer David Ellison confirmed at a Terminator: Genisys press conference this week but, just as air warfare has evolved in the almost three decades since Top Gun was released, so the challenges of human pilots facing replacement by remotely-controlled or even autonomous craft will be explored in the new film.

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US DoD to develop and build HoverBike in the US

In August of 2014, we got our first look at one of the coolest Kickstarter projects ever when the HoverBike broke cover. This device was developed by Malloy Aeronautics and was seeking money from people to help further develop the project. The HoverBike is sort of, like a cross between a helicopter and an ATV designed to allow a rider to take to the skies. If you thought that the HoverBike sounded too farfetched to actually work, the US Department of Defense doesn't agree.

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