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Recent Warfare Technologies

The future just keeps coming. The US is testing 30kW laser weapons that can be mounted on small tactical vehicles and what is essentially a giant quadcopter to carry cargo around the battlespace. The obvious connection is missing from the article; an ARES vehicle carrying a laser module to rapidly target and attack threats against the manoeuvre unit. Even without the laser, giant quadcopter gunships sporting a 25mm cannon or missiles would be in a good position to respond to hit and run attacks against manoeuvre unit:


Navy will test combat lasers on humvees this year and will field test 30 kilowatt lasers in 2016 and DARPAs Cargo Drones able to lift cars is on track as well

As the Navy prepares to deploy its first laser weapon on a ship later this summer, Office of Naval Research (ONR) officials announced June 11 that they have finished awarding contracts to develop a similar weapon to be used on ground vehicles.

The Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move program, commonly referred to as GBAD, aims to provide an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground.

ONR is working with Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and industry partners on the development of GBAD’s components and subsystems, including the laser itself, beam director, batteries, radar, advanced cooling, and communications and command and control.

“We’re confident we can bring together all of these pieces in a package that’s small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, vice chief of naval research and commanding general, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

Some of the system’s components already have been used in tests to detect and track UAVs of all sizes. Later in the year, researchers will test the entire system against targets using a 10kW laser as a stepping stone to a 30kW laser.

The 30kW system is expected to be ready for field testing in 2016, when the program will begin more complex trials to ensure a seamless process from detection and tracking to firing, all from mobile tactical vehicles.

The US navy’s ship-mounted laser weapon which is due to deploy later this summer.

Unmanned VTOL Cargo Drone able to transport 3000 pounds will lead to drones able to transport people and carry cars

In 2013, DARPA selected the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) design concept to move forward.

ARES is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight module designed to operate as an unmanned platform capable of transporting a variety of payloads. The ARES VTOL flight module is designed to have its own power system, fuel, digital flight controls and remote command-and-control interfaces. Twin tilting ducted fans would provide efficient hovering and landing capabilities in a compact configuration, with rapid conversion to high-speed cruise flight.

It is envisioned that the flight module would travel between its home base and field operations to deliver and retrieve several different types of detachable mission modules, each designed for a specific purpose. Example modules could include:

* Cargo resupply
* Casualty evacuation (CASEVAC)
* Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)

The ARES program would enable numerous benefits, including:

* Useful load capability as high as 3,000 pounds, more than 40 percent of the takeoff gross weight of the aircraft
* Flight performance similar to light aircraft
* Compact configuration and the ability to use landing zones half the size typically needed by helicopters of similar size
VTOL operations from prepared, unprepared and ship-based landing sites
* Unmanned operation, with a future path towards semi-autonomous flight systems and user interfaces for optionally manned/controlled flight
A new twist on exoskeletons and robotic assistants; extra arms:


From the Hindu Gods to Doctor Octopus the Vision of Multiple Extra Arms is being made real with Robotic Arms from MIT

  The vision of humans with extra limbs is taking shape at MIT with researchers adding "supernumerary robotic arms" to assist with tasks that ordinary two-armed humans would find difficult.

The extra robotic arm concept was demonstrated with installing ceiling panels in an airplane, a task that must be duplicated dozens of times in the construction of an airliner. A single person installing a large panel overhead must struggle between holding the panel to the ceiling, inserting screws into holes, and using a powered screwdriver to attach the panel. The juggling and dropping of screws would drive any of us to frustration and profanity.

The Supernumerary Robot Limbs (SRL) team looked at this task, and added two lightweight robot arms to a frame attached to a backpack. The arms are attached directly over the spine so that the body can carry the extra weight without strain. This alone would be noteworthy, except that the user now has no way to command the robot arms to move – a conventional joystick or gamepad would take up hands already busy with panels.

So the amazing part of this research is having the arms decide for themselves when and where to help. Sensors on the human’s wrists and on the robot mount determine where the human is on the task, and assigns the robot arms to help.

The robot arms assist the user by pushing up the panel against the ceiling, allowing the human operator to put in screws to attach the panel. As the panel is able to support itself, first one arm goes down, and then the other as the robot senses that the force required to maintain the pose has diminished.

The arms are programmed by the "teach by demonstration" method. A second human first demonstrates to the robot how to help by moving the robot arms manually with the the robot remembering this lesson so it is then able to make the moves on its own.

The system is worn through a backpack-like harness with padded straps and hip belt. The mechatronic structure, connected to the harness with a compliant element, is composed of a backpack unit and two robotic arms. The unit is placed behind the lower back of the user, and hosts the system actuators.

The robotic arms are attached to the main structure in correspondence of the iliac crest, the thick edge of the hip bone. This minimizes the interference with human motion and maximizes the robotic limbs’ workspace, allowing them to act both as arms and as legs.

The custom actuators developed for the SRL are compact, lightweight, and satisfy the demanding torque requirements of the target manufacturing applications. All joints are controlled by DC brushless motors of the flat type. Circular hollow-section polyurethane torsion bars are placed between the gearhead output and the actuator output, realizing Series Viscoelastic Actuators (SVAs).

Bracing yourself, lifting and carrying and having extra limbs to assist when climbing are a few of the military applications I can think of for this technology
See video and photos at link.


Military tests robotic mule


The U.S. Marine Corps. has enlisted the help of a four-legged devil-dog of sorts.

A robotic mule known as the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, is taking part in military exercises in Hawaii.

LS3 is designed to carry 400 pounds and travel 20 miles without refueling. The robot is operated by a Marine with a sensor strapped to his or her foot.

LS3 follows the Marine using computer vision. The military released video of Lance Corporal Brandon Dieckmann operating the robot as he walked across a field in Oahu.

LS3 was invented by robotics firm Boston Dynamics and has undergone three years of testing by U.S. Marines.

The goal is to reduce the amount of equipment that fighters have to wear in the field, which can top more than 100 pounds.

LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.

The goal is to develop a robot that will go through the same terrain the squad goes through without hindering the squad’s mission. The robot could also serve as a mobile auxiliary power source to the squad, so troops can recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

You still have to go to the range, though.....


Neuroscience biofeedback improved novice sniper shooting by 100% by helping soldiers get into the right mental zone

A previous DARPA program yielded some remarkable insight into the potential for better soldier performance through focused brain states. Amy Kraus, a former DARPA program manager, on Monday told a group at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, the work that she presided over succeeded in finding the secret mental secret that preceded good marksmanship. “It turns out the expert marksman has a brain state,” she said, “a state that they enter before they take the perfect shot. Can I teach a novice to create this brain state? The answer was yes.”

She said that by recognizing that state, researchers were able to improve the ability of regular people to improve their marksmanship by 100 percent. “These are recordable, measurable, algortyhmical,” Kraus said.

Neuroscience-based assessments can be used to accelerate military skill acquisition and provide quantitative evidence of successful training by detecting, in real-time, cognitive and physiological states of the trainee under various conditions.

The research focuses on:
(a) integrating brain monitoring capabilities into rifle marksmanship training;
(b) identifying psychophysiological characteristics of expertise using expert marksman as a model population;
(c) developing a sensor-based feedback system—information that would not be available under current training conditions—to accelerate novices in the acquisition of marksmanship skills, and
(d) identifying neurocognitive factors that predict marksmanship skill acquisition.

The first step in developing the feedback system is to describe the neuro- and psychophysiological metrics associated with levels of skill acquisition and efficiency as participants progress from novice to expert in simple and complex task environments. Our previous work revealed specific EEG correlates of stages of skill acquisition in simple learning and memory tasks and in more cognitively complex and challenging test environments. Similarly, we will evaluate these metrics across tasks and environments. Physiological measures will include heart rate variability to measure stress and anxiety, a respiratory gauge to measure breath control, and an instrumented rifle (simulator) to record the movement of the muzzle, trigger pressure and trigger break. Performance data (hits, shot group precision and accuracy) will be time-synchronized with neurocognitive states, physiological states, and gross and fine motor movements.

Our long term goal in conducting this research is to determine whether feedback, based on participants‟ cognitive, physiological, and motor states increases the pace and efficiency of rifle marksmanship training.
Thucydides said:
The use of spectrum and especially broadband technology is going to be more important as military systems depend on more remote data feeds, and commanders demand things like video on demand from UAV's and other sorts of imagery. Even the need for a data centre might not be as arduous as you may imagine, nVidia offers a supercomputer that is the same form factor as your average PC tower, and IBM's long term plan is to shrink massive supercomputers to the size of a kitchen garbage can. This may be a promising way of delivering broadband to mobile users:


Communication combat is the key point in future war.
Harris, Thales,Dicom, Motorola these companies produced the most famous radios used by many countries army. Also Bren-tonics, Sonetronics produced the handsets, headsets and batteries used for those radios. And there are many Chinese factories, they also do these batteries and headsets such as Power-Time. But how is the industrial now developing ?
Japan, US to develop 'fuel-cell submarine'
Yahoo News

Tokyo (AFP) - Japan and the United States will jointly develop a fuel-cell powered submarine that can run for a month under the sea on a single charge, a report said on Friday.

The top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the unmanned, 10-metre (33-feet) long sub would be able to chart a pre-programmed course before returning to base.

The submarine would be used for patrolling with sonar capable of detecting potential threats, but it would not be equipped with torpedos or other weaponry, the Yomiuri said.

Japan's defence ministry would earmark about 2.6 billion yen ($25 million) over the next five years to develop the high-performance fuel cell, it added.
A twofer here: the use of Malware in warfare, and a look at the next generation of supercomputers designed to mimic the physical functioning of the human brain. One can only imagine the combination of hyper malware being run off hypercomputers of this sort:


Malware Traffic Spikes Preceded Russian and Israeli Conflicts

Government hackers apparently went to work as Israel and Russia ramped up military action this year.
By Tom Simonite on August 8, 2014

Why It Matters

Malicious software undermines the security of the Internet, putting vast quantities of personal information and money at risk.

Security briefing: Attendees watch a presentation at the Black Hat 2014 conference.

A study of malware operating on corporate and government networks suggests that the communication patterns of these programs could warn of major conflicts.

Researchers at the security company FireEye monitored millions of malware messages sent over the past 18 months, and they found spikes in the traffic to and from Russia and Ukraine as tensions rose between the two countries earlier this year. A similar pattern was seen in malware traffic to Israel as it entered its recent hostilities with Hamas.

The FireEye study drew on data collected from more than 5,000 corporate and government clients around the world. FireEye’s software captures “callback” messages sent by malware inside a network—either reporting its status to its operators or picking up new commands. Those messages were used to determine the location of the computer controlling the malware.

The patterns were most likely caused by government agencies ramping up efforts to gather intelligence or attack their adversaries, says Kenneth Geers, who worked on the project. “In the run-up to the Crimea crisis, you saw a rise of malware callbacks in both Russia and Ukraine,” he said at the Black Hat computer security conference Thursday.

It’s also possible that the activity came from hackers sympathetic to but not supported by the countries involved. But many countries now routinely use computer attacks for intelligence and military purposes.

Geers said that patterns in malware communications could be used to predict when countries are preparing for conflict: “If the U.S., or Korea, or Japan was about to go to war, you would see a bump in callbacks—it’s just part and parcel of today’s national security undertakings.” Geers, who recently left FireEye to work as an independent consultant, previously worked on international computer security at the National Security Agency and NATO.

Malware operators sometimes hide their location by having callback messages hop between computers in different countries, and the FireEye study could log only the first hop.  However, malware authors don’t always bother to install a system of relays, said Geers. And so, he said, with a large enough data set, accurate geographical patterns emerge.

Much of the traffic to Israel as it moved to strike against Hamas in the Gaza Strip came from malware installed on computers in Canada and the U.S. “You have an indication that maybe Israeli national security organizations are leveraging infrastructure in Canada and the U.S.,” Geers said.

Matching malware traffic to real-world events might also provide a way to uncover tools being used by nation-states. Some of the traffic coming out of Canada, for example, appeared to come from malware that had never been seen before, which FireEye is now investigating.

FireEye plans to continue the research. “We can see the digital equivalent of troops on the border,” Kevin Thompson, a threat analyst for the company, told MIT Technology Review. “But we’d like to look back at a whole year of data and try to correlate with all the world events in the same period.”

Government use of malware is becoming more common, according to Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, who studies malware made and used by nation-states. Countries of all sizes use malware because it is relatively cheap and gets results, he said during a talk at Black Hat on Wednesday. “There are parallels here to the nuclear arms race,” he said. “[But] the power of nuclear weapons was in deterrence, and we don’t have that with cyberweapons.”

And, as Geers noted, there is a conflict between governments’ enthusiasm for those new weapons and their obligation to ensure Internet security. “The worldwide malware problem is very difficult to solve, but do governments want to solve it?” he said. “Governments benefit quite a lot from protecting sovereignty and projecting power through network attacks.”



On track to human brain scale neuromorphic systems with 20 billion neurons and 200 trillion synapses in 2019 or 2020

The DARPA 2015 budget (page 192) reported that the 1 million neuron chip that was announced by IBM and published research in the journal Science was developed in fiscal year 2013.

The neuromorphic chip work outlined in 2010 and 2011 is roughly on track to the goals of human brain scale emulation in 2019.

In 2015 the goal [stated in 2010] is a prototype chip system simulating 10 billion neurons connected via 1 trillion synapses. The device must use 1 kilowatt or less (about what a space heater uses) and take up less than 2 liters in volume. 100 of the systems would have 1 trillion neurons and 100 trillion synapses and would be about the complexity of the human brain.

In 2014, IBM should have integrated the board with 16 chips into a larger rack with 4 billion neurons using 4 kilowatts of power. IBM would need another iteration or two of chip design to get to about triple the density with four times lower power usage.

The current TrueNorth chip consumes merely 70 milliwatts and is capable of 46 billion synaptic operations per second per watt–literally a synaptic supercomputer in your palm.

In 2011, IBM research suggested that a full-scale model of the human brain—which has 20 billion neurons connected by about 200 trillion synapses—could be reached by 2019, given enough processing power. It would be a hardware model. This does not indicate the actual intelligence that would be in the system. It also does not specify the quality of the neurons and synapses that are part of the system.

Still being at human brain scale would be interesting and it would be interesting to see what could be possible and what will be learned. Refinement to better neurons and synapses could progress in the 2020s.

The current SyNAPSE-developed chip, which can be tiled to create large arrays, has one million electronic “neurons” and 256 million electronic synapses between neurons. Built on Samsung Foundry's 28nm process technology, the 5.4 billion transistor chip has one of the highest transistor counts of any chip ever produced. Each chip consumes less than 100 milliWatts of electrical power during operation. When applied to benchmark tasks of pattern recognition, the new chip achieved two orders of magnitude in energy savings compared to state-of-the-art traditional computing systems.

IBM is planning to integrate the neuromorphic systems with Watson and other artificial intelligence and pattern recognition work. This is in line with the 2011 nextbigfuture prediction that neuromorphic systems would become mainstream technology.
Martin111 said:
Communication combat is the key point in future war.
Harris, Thales,Dicom, Motorola these companies produced the most famous radios used by many countries army. Also Bren-tonics, Sonetronics produced the handsets, headsets and batteries used for those radios. And there are many Chinese factories, they also do these batteries and headsets such as Power-Time. But how is the industrial now developing ?

Power-Time interception headset for shooting
With noise canceling microphone, and big thick earmuffs to protect user’s hearing.
What’s more, it can amplify the very light sound to suitable for human listen. This will keep the users be alert to the environment, and keep the dangers way !
While the idea of a manned submarine using supercavitation is a bit improbable (the amount of energy needed to displace the water to create the supercavitation bubble is pretty immense), longer range torpedoes using this technology do seem to be reaching maturity, and a submarine could conceivably eject a supercavitating carrier to bring a cruise missile or anti ship missile closer to the target. The idea of very compact nuclear power plants has more applications for conventional ships and nuclear submarines (much smaller than currently practical for nuclear powered vessels):


Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes by Chinese supersonic supercavitating submarine with molten salt nuclear reactors

[South China Morning Post] China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.

Since drag is proportional to the density of the surrounding fluid, the drag on a super-cavitating projectile is dramatically reduced, allowing supercavitating projectiles to attain higher speeds than conventional projectiles. In water , a rough approximation predicts that a supercavitating projectile has 200,000 times less skin friction than a normal projectile. The potential applications are impressive.

Here we will describe the advances that the chinese researchers have made towards practical supercavitating submarines and the need for molten salt nuclear reactors to power them. Molten salt nuclear reactors are under commercial development in Canada, China and other countries. Molten salt reactors could achieve 50 times the power density of current nuclear reactors used in nuclear submarines.

A 650 MW thermal integrated molten salt reactor with a supercritical CO2 turbine would have about 400 MWe of power with about 200 tons of weight. This would be about 2 kW per kg.

There have been other molten salt designs with about 18 KW of power per liter. Those are early generation designs and the engineers believe that they can ultimately achieve power density of about 100 kW per liter.

On the issue of wildlife in the ocean, the submarines would need to find a depth where there is less sealife. There would also be the need for satellite and other technology to scan the path ahead. Also, beacons could be placed that make sealife clear out for a specified safe path.

New technology developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab has made it easier for a submarine, or torpedo, to travel at extremely high speeds underwater.

Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, said the team's innovative approach meant they could now create the complicated air "bubble" required for rapid underwater travel. "We are very excited by its potential," he said

Water produces more friction, or drag, on an object than air, which means conventional submarines cannot travel as fast as an aircraft.

However, during the cold war, the Soviet military developed a technology called supercavitation, which involves enveloping a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.

A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more - much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.

The United States is known to be developing vessels and weapons that employ supercavitation technology. Technology reportedly under development at the Office of Naval Research includes a 6.25-inch-diameter self-protection weapon under study for a supercavitation counter-torpedo to defend surface ships and submarines.

The U.S. Navy Advanced High Speed Underwater Munition program has already demonstrated the effectiveness of supercavitation high-speed underwater bullets. When fired from an underwater gun, these projectiles have successfully broken the 767 mph speed of sound in water. Supercavitation bullets have also been developed for use in mine-clearance when fired from a helicopter

In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.

However, supercavitation technology has faced two major problems. First, the submerged vessel has needed to be launched at high speeds, approaching 100 km per hour, to generate and maintain the air bubble.

Second, it is extremely difficult - if not impossible - to steer the vessel using conventional mechanisms, such as a rudder, which are inside the bubble without any direct contact with water.

As a result, its application has been limited to unmanned vessels, such as torpedoes, but nearly all of these torpedoes were fired in a straight line because they had limited ability to turn.

Li said the team of Chinese scientists had found an innovative means of addressing both problems.

Once in the water, the team's supercavitation vessel would constantly "shower" a special liquid membrane on its own surface. Although this membrane would be worn off by water, in the meantime it could significantly reduce the water drag on the vessel at low speed.

After its speed had reached 75km/h or more the vessel would enter the supercavitation state. The man-made liquid membrane on the vessel surface could help with steering because, with precise control, different levels of friction could be created on different parts of the vessel.

"Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion," or thrust created by an engine, Li said. "By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier."

However, Li said many problems still needed to be solved before supersonic submarine travel became feasible. Besides the control issue, a powerful underwater rocket engine still had to be developed to give the vessel a longer range. The effective range of the Russian supercavitation torpedoes, for example, was only between 11 km and 15 km.

Background Material on the Engine Requirements

In the 2003, Proceedings of the National Symposium on Ocean Electronics, there is a discussion on powering a supersonic submarine.

Aluminum burning rockets would be suitable for short ranges but long distance supersonic subs would need new compact nuclear reactors.

Molten Salt nuclear reactors have the potential of 50 times the energy density of current nuclear submarine reactors.
U.S. naval reactors are pressurized water reactors, which differ from commercial reactors producing electricity in that:
* they have a high power density in a small volume and run either on low-enriched uranium (as do some French and Chinese submarines) or on highly enriched uranium (over 20% U-235, current U.S. submarines use fuel enriched to at least 93%, compared to between 21–45% in current Russian models, although Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker reactors are enriched up to 90%),

* the fuel is not UO2 but a metal-zirconium alloy (c.15% U with 93% enrichment, or more U with lower enrichment),

* they have long core lives, so that refueling is needed only after 10 or more years, and new cores are designed to last 25 years in carriers and 10–33 years in submarines,

* the design enables a compact pressure vessel while maintaining safety.

Terrestrial Energy (of Canada) is trying to develop integral molten salt nuclear fission reactors. These nuclear reactors would have about 20-200 times less volume than conventional nuclear fission reactors. The US, Europe and China are trying to develop supercritical carbon dioxide turbines that would have 100 times less volume than regular steam turbines. The Hammer's Slammers Science fiction nuclear hovertank would be enabled with the two technologies that are under development (molten salt reactors and supercritical CO2 turbines.

By shrinking the nuclear reactor and the turbine by 100 times, plenty of other vehicles are made possible. Various nuclear ships and submarines can be revamped. Also, space bases with nuclear become more possible with one launch.

The 650 MWth IMSR (Integrated Molten Salt) reactor is about the same size as the smAHTR (125 MWth) reactor.

The smAHTR reactor is 9 meters tall (30 feet) by 3.5 meters (12 feet) in diameter.

The 220 MWth S8G reactor for the Ohio submarines is 42 feet in diameter, 55 feet long; 2,750 tons

So the IMSR with supercritical CO2 turbines would have almost 3 times as much power in an area about 16 times less area. In the range of 150-200 cubic meters and about 200-400 tons.

A 650 MW thermal integrated molten salt reactor with a supercritical CO2 turbine would have about 400 MWe of power with about 200 tons of weight. This would be about 2 kW per kg.

There have been other molten salt designs with about 18 KW of power per liter. Those are early generation designs and the engineers believe that they can ultimately achieve 100 kW per liter.
Thanks Thuc.  You do post a lot of great stuff.  Do you actually research the stuff or are you just posting stuff that you think people may be interested in?
Bit of both actually. I worked in the G6 branch for a while, so IT and communications are interests of mine and I have some background in these areas. OTOH, there are a lot of interesting new ideas out there and I hope that some people will be interested in the things I stumble across.

The NextBigFuture blog is a good all in one site to review these ideas, and MIT's Technology Review is another.

Who knows, maybe someone out there will be inspired to take some of these ideas out to the next level.
An effective defence against Chinese SSMs?

Navy looks to advancements in 'fog of war' for missile defense
By Erik Slavin
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 3, 2014


YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy is sea testing a carbon-fiber “fog” that officials hope will defeat the guidance systems of missiles aimed at its ships.

The Pandarra Fog that shrouded three ships south of Guam recently is one part future tech, one part throwback.

Obscurants have been used widely by combat aircraft and vehicles since World War II. The simplest systems used metal particles to mask infrared signatures, thereby throwing off a heat-seeking missile. However, guided missiles have advanced to detect other signatures across the electromagnetic spectrum.

China has developed a missile designed to strike a moving aircraft carrier, as part of a bid to deter access to international waters in the East and South China Sea, according to the Defense Department’s annual report on China’s military. Such advances have left planners looking at ways to counter such missiles, including radar and satellite jamming, cyberwarfare and other methods besides the costly and risky method of shooting one out of the sky.

Pandarra Fog “is a potential game-changer in terms of effectiveness of a layered approach to [missile defense],”
said Capt. Dave Adams, head of the 7th Fleet Warfighting Initiatives Group.

In late June, the USS Mustin, USS Meyer and USS Cable tested the obscurant over four days in a variety of sea conditions south of Guam, 7th Fleet officials said.

“This was also the first time ships were placed in the obscurants cloud, and we significantly advanced our hypothesis that there would be no damage to our ships and equipment,” Adams said. “There’s still more work to do, but results all point in the right direction.”

< Edited >
I suspect that at least some navies are already aboard with this, but the article is interesting in describing the capabilities and use of minimally powered sea going robots, especially the "Sea Gliders" and "Wave Gliders". The attached picture demonstrates the size and surface profile of a Wave Glider. Equipping them with military grade sensors and sending them into an area of interest to get saturation coverage seems to be mostly a matter of money and logistics (buying them in quantity, delivering them to the AO and monitoring the data). It also won't be long before similar vehicles become weaponized (carrying mines or torpedoes). The fact that they can already operate under the ice should be a very telling observation as well:


A glide-path to knowledge

A determined effort to understand the Arctic is going on, in the sea and on the ice
Aug 9th 2014 | THE BEAUFORT SEA, ABOARD RV UKPIK | From the print edition

THE Arctic is called by some the canary in the global-warming coal mine. Like that fated bird, carried in cages by pitmen well into the 20th century, it is sensitive to changes which might otherwise not be obvious. Canaries expired in contact with gases such as carbon monoxide and methane, warning miners to leave the area. The Arctic—or, rather, its sea ice—is similarly expiring as the Earth warms up in response to more of another gas, carbon dioxide.

The area of the Arctic Ocean covered by ice at the height of summer has been shrinking by 11% a decade for the past 35 years. But the details are obscure—because gathering data in the Arctic Ocean is hard. This year, therefore, a systematic approach to that gathering has begun. The Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) programme, paid for by the United States Navy, is seeding the Beaufort Sea—the part of the ocean north of Alaska—with many sensors.

In March the programme’s researchers laid dozens of devices along a transect running 400km north from the ice’s edge. Some of these instruments are weather stations sitting on the ice’s surface. Others are buried in holes punched through it. These measure the thickness of the icy layer, and also the salinity, temperature, oxygen concentration, organic-matter composition and movement of the seawater beneath. All these sensors beam their data to satellites. The plan is that they will drift with the ice until it melts. Even then, some are designed to float, so they can continue their work.

Floating sensors are not all that is planned, though. At the end of July, the crew of the MIZ’s research vessel, the good ship Ukpik (“snowy owl”, in a local language), began the operation’s next phase by deploying four instrument-laden robots known as Seagliders, which will roam the depths in search of readings.

Seagliders are torpedo-shaped, but do not have conventional motors. Instead, each is fitted with an external oil-filled swim bladder and wings. When the bladder is emptied (by sucking the oil into the glider’s main body) the glider’s buoyancy is reduced. This causes it to sink, and water to flow over its wings, generating forward motion. As the vehicle nears the bottom, the oil is pumped back into the bladder, the wings change their attitude, and it sweeps gently upward—again generating forward motion. In this way, a Seaglider can cover 20km (around a dozen nautical miles) or more a day in a way that uses so little electrical power that its battery should last almost a year.

The Seagliders that MIZ has launched will range back and forth between the open ocean and the water under the ice sheet, following that sheet’s edge as it retreats. This presents a problem, for Seagliders usually navigate by surfacing and taking a fix from the satellites of the Global Positioning System (GPS). At the same time, they upload their data via another set of satellites, the Iridium network. Under the ice, both of these tasks are impossible.

The solution is borrowed from natural denizens of the deep—whales—whose songs travel thousands of kilometres by being contained and refracted within distinct ocean layers. The layers the whales employ are a long way down, but scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, have found a shallower one that serves in a similar way (and also has the bonus of not interfering with cetacean communication). The MIZ’s researchers are using this.

The snowy owl’s wisdom

Among the sensors the scientists placed on the ice in March were a set of eight acoustic navigation beacons. These have base-stations at the surface, which fix their locations using GPS. They then rebroadcast that information from loudspeakers hanging 100 metres down below the ice, in the transmission layer. If a Seaglider can detect two or more beacons while it is travelling through this layer, it can swiftly compute its own position.

This may not always work, because the Seagliders might stray too far from the beacons. In that case, the researchers have a pair of robotic guide dogs to assist. These are called Wave Gliders (pictured at the top of the story). One part of each Wave Glider stays on the surface, generating electricity from solar panels during the Arctic’s 24-hour summer daylight. The other part is an array of hydrofoils suspended four metres underwater. The difference in motion between the waves above and the calm below causes water to move over the hydrofoils and propel the Wave Glider forward up to twice as fast as a Seaglider. Although Wave Gliders broadcast far above the sound layer, and thus have shorter ranges than fixed beacons, they can be programmed to shadow the Seagliders, and keep them within earshot.

For the next two months the MIZ’s network of gliders, floats, buoys, icebound instruments and weather stations, together with satellites and aerial surveys, will gather the largest quantity of data yet collected on the seasonal melting of the Arctic ice sheet. An icebreaker will recover any surviving devices before the ice re-forms, late in September. Two years of analysis will follow, to try to turn the observations into new climate models. With luck, the MIZ’s researchers will thus find out exactly what song the Arctic canary is singing.
More superstring and super light materials on the horizon:


Ceramics Don't Have To Be Brittle
Caltech Materials Scientists Are Creating Materials By Design

Imagine a balloon that could float without using any lighter-than-air gas. Instead, it could simply have all of its air sucked out while maintaining its filled shape. Such a vacuum balloon, which could help ease the world's current shortage of helium, can only be made if a new material existed that was strong enough to sustain the pressure generated by forcing out all that air while still being lightweight and flexible.

Caltech materials scientist Julia Greer and her colleagues are on the path to developing such a material and many others that possess unheard-of combinations of properties. For example, they might create a material that is thermally insulating but also extremely lightweight, or one that is simultaneously strong, lightweight, and nonbreakable—properties that are generally thought to be mutually exclusive.

Greer's team has developed a method for constructing new structural materials by taking advantage of the unusual properties that solids can have at the nanometer scale, where features are measured in billionths of meters. In a paper published in the September 12 issue of the journal Science, the Caltech researchers explain how they used the method to produce a ceramic (e.g., a piece of chalk or a brick) that contains about 99.9 percent air yet is incredibly strong, and that can recover its original shape after being smashed by more than 50 percent.

"Ceramics have always been thought to be heavy and brittle," says Greer, a professor of materials science and mechanics in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech. "We're showing that in fact, they don't have to be either. This very clearly demonstrates that if you use the concept of the nanoscale to create structures and then use those nanostructures like LEGO to construct larger materials, you can obtain nearly any set of properties you want. You can create materials by design."

The researchers use a direct laser writing method called two-photon lithography to "write" a three-dimensional pattern in a polymer by allowing a laser beam to crosslink and harden the polymer wherever it is focused. The parts of the polymer that were exposed to the laser remain intact while the rest is dissolved away, revealing a three-dimensional scaffold. That structure can then be coated with a thin layer of just about any kind of material—a metal, an alloy, a glass, a semiconductor, etc. Then the researchers use another method to etch out the polymer from within the structure, leaving a hollow architecture.

The applications of this technique are practically limitless, Greer says. Since pretty much any material can be deposited on the scaffolds, the method could be particularly useful for applications in optics, energy efficiency, and biomedicine. For example, it could be used to reproduce complex structures such as bone, producing a scaffold out of biocompatible materials on which cells could proliferate.

In the latest work, Greer and her students used the technique to produce what they call three-dimensional nanolattices that are formed by a repeating nanoscale pattern. After the patterning step, they coated the polymer scaffold with a ceramic called alumina (i.e., aluminum oxide), producing hollow-tube alumina structures with walls ranging in thickness from 5 to 60 nanometers and tubes from 450 to 1,380 nanometers in diameter.

Greer's team next wanted to test the mechanical properties of the various nanolattices they created. Using two different devices for poking and prodding materials on the nanoscale, they squished, stretched, and otherwise tried to deform the samples to see how they held up.

They found that the alumina structures with a wall thickness of 50 nanometers and a tube diameter of about 1 micron shattered when compressed. That was not surprising given that ceramics, especially those that are porous, are brittle. However, compressing lattices with a lower ratio of wall thickness to tube diameter—where the wall thickness was only 10 nanometers—produced a very different result.

"You deform it, and all of a sudden, it springs back," Greer says. "In some cases, we were able to deform these samples by as much as 85 percent, and they could still recover."

To understand why, consider that most brittle materials such as ceramics, silicon, and glass shatter because they are filled with flaws—imperfections such as small voids and inclusions. The more perfect the material, the less likely you are to find a weak spot where it will fail. Therefore, the researchers hypothesize, when you reduce these structures down to the point where individual walls are only 10 nanometers thick, both the number of flaws and the size of any flaws are kept to a minimum, making the whole structure much less likely to fail.

"One of the benefits of using nanolattices is that you significantly improve the quality of the material because you're using such small dimensions," Greer says. "It's basically as close to an ideal material as you can get, and you get the added benefit of needing only a very small amount of material in making them."

The Greer lab is now aggressively pursuing various ways of scaling up the production of these so-called meta-materials.

The lead author on the paper, "Strong, Lightweight and Recoverable Three-Dimensional Ceramic Nanolattices," is Lucas R. Meza, a graduate student in Greer's lab. Satyajit Das, who was a visiting student researcher at Caltech, is also a coauthor. The work was supported by funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies. Greer is also on the board of directors of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech.

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier
- See more at: http://www.caltech.edu/content/ceramics-dont-have-be-brittle#sthash.KEkc7HMy.dpuf
Using nanotechnology and powerful magnets to "clean" the blood. The article mentions using this to control infections, but I wonder what else might be possible with this technique?


Scientists unveil magnetic cure to clean up blood

Scientists said Sunday they had invented a device that uses a magnet to extract bacteria, fungi and toxins from blood, potentially throwing a lifeline to patients with sepsis and other infections. The external gadget, tested so far in rats but not yet humans, could be adapted one day for stripping Ebola and other viruses from blood. Acting rather like a spleen, the invention uses magnetic nanobeads coated with a genetically-engineered human blood protein called MBL. The MBL binds to pathogens and toxins, which can then be “pulled out” with a magnet, the developers wrote in the journal Nature Medicine.

This treatment could be carried out even before the pathogen has been formally identified and the optimal antibiotic treatment has been chosen.

Co-author Donald Ingber of Harvard University, Massachusetts

If the invention is shown to be safe for humans, “patients could be treated with our bio-spleen and this will physically clean up their blood, rapidly removing a wide spectrum of live pathogens as well as dead fragments and toxins from the blood,” study co-author Donald Ingber said. The cleansed blood is then returned to the circulatory system. The MBL protein is known to bind to the Ebola virus “and so it potentially might be useful for treatment of these patients,” said Ingber. However, years of testing in larger animals and then in humans lie ahead before the bio-spleen can be approved.
More civilian technology that has fairly obvious military applications. A UAV with this performance can be the basis for not only a communications node, but also a surveillance, AWACS or EW platform. While the light weight and extreme performance would rule out the direct use of this as a UCAV, it certainly can act as the spotter or designator, and there is no reason that larger and upgraded ones could not also carry some form of weapons system (glide bombs released from that hight could cover hundreds of miles of stand off distance):


Facebook drones the size of jumbo jets to soar 17 miles up

Facebook will create thousands of semi-autonomous drones the size of jumbo jets which will fly 17 miles above the Earth to provide wireless internet access to the four billion people currently unable to get online

By Matthew Sparkes, Deputy Head of Technology

11:15AM BST 25 Sep 2014

Facebook will create thousands of drones the size of jumbo jets which will fly 17 miles above the Earth to provide wireless internet access to the four billion people currently unable to get online.

The social network announced in March that it was in negotiations to buy drone maker Titan Aerospace, which was subsequently snapped-up by Google. Now it seems that the company is developing its own drones instead.

Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world's population – have access to the internet, according to Facebook. The social networking company is one of the main backers of the internet.org project which aims to connect the large parts of the world which remain offline.

Initially it was thought that Facebook would create around 11,000 smaller drones with the help of Titan Aerospace. But a senior engineer has now revealed that the company’s plan B is far more ambitious even than that.

"We're going to have to push the edge of solar technology, battery technology, composite technology," said Yael Maguire, the leader of Facebook's new Connectivity Lab, during a panel session at the Social Good Summit in New York this week. "There are a whole bunch of challenges."

To fly for months and years at a time the drones will need to rise above the weather, flying at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet – around 17 miles above the ground.

Flying this high will solve problems associated with weather, but could throw up new legislative ones. Above 60,000 feet there are essentially no regulations on aircraft – commercial airlines routinely fly at around half of that altitude.

Rules regarding satellites will “play a very useful role”, said Maguire, but the company will also have to “help pave new ground”.

Regulations regarding human operators will also need to be adjusted if the company’s plans are to be a success. Currently one person must be in control of an aircraft at all times, but Facebook hopes to change legislation so that one person can control ten or even a hundred partially-automated aircraft.

"We can't have one person per plane if we want to figure out how to connect the world,” said Maguire.

The aircraft will be “roughly the size of a commercial aircraft, like a 747” said Maguire, but they will be far, far lighter. One prototype currently being worked on is about the length of seven cars, but weighs the same as just four car tyres.

The planes will be tested at some point next year, somewhere in the US, and the company hopes to have them working and in operation over developing countries within three to five years. It has already chosen 21 locations around the world where it would like to deploy them, in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and is looking for charities to run the equipment once it is manufactured.

Google is also working on similar technology to Facebook, having bought drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace earlier this year. The company creates solar-powered drones which can fly for several years at a time.

A Google spokesperson said at the time of the takeover: "It’s still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation. "

The search giant also launched Project Loon in 2013 which is investigating the use of high-altitude weather balloons which can transmit internet signals to the ground for the same purpose
Here is an interesting development: a material that can store large amounts of Oxygen in a crystal structure. This should be of great interest for divers, firefighters and others who work in Oxygen constrained environments, as well as a lightweight means of carrying Oxygen for other uses (on aircraft or AIP units on Submarines, as two simple examples). I also wonder if similar materials can be used for carrying other materials like Methane for fuel?


New material steals oxygen from air
Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

We do fine with the 21 per cent oxygen in the air around us. But sometimes we need oxygen in higher concentrations; for example lung patients must carry heavy oxygen tanks, cars using fuel cells need a regulated oxygen supply. Perhaps one day in the future even sunlight-driven “reversible” fuel cells will be made. With these we will have to separate oxygen from hydrogen in order to recombine them in order to get energy.

Now Professor Christine McKenzie (center in photo) and postdoc Jonas Sundberg, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized a material that absorb oxygen in large quantities and store it.

"In the lab, we saw how this material took up oxygen from the air around us”, says Christine McKenzie.

The new material is crystalline, and using x-ray diffraction the researchers have studied the arrangement of atoms inside the material when it was filled with oxygen, and when it was emptied of oxygen.

Oxygen comes and goes in many places

The fact that a substance can react with oxygen is not surprising. Lots of substances do this - and the result is not always desirable: Food can go rancid when exposed to oxygen. On the other hand a wine’s taste and aroma is changed subtly when we aerate it - but not with too much oxygen! Our bodies cannot function if we do not breathe.

"An important aspect of this new material is that it does not react irreversibly with oxygen - even though it absorbs oxygen in a so-called selective chemisorptive process. The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen - we can use it to bind, store and transport oxygen - like a solid artificial hemoglobin", says Christine McKenzie.

A bucket full (10 litres) of the material is enough to suck up all the oxygen in a room.

"It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability. It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again", Christine McKenzie explains.

Once the oxygen has been absorbed you can keep it stored in the material until you want to release it. The oxygen can be released by gently heating the material or subjecting it to low oxygen pressures.

Heat and pressure releases the stored oxygen

“We see release of oxygen when we heat up the material, and we have also seen it when we apply vacuum. We are now wondering if light can also be used as a trigger for the material to release oxygen – this has prospects in the growing field of artificial photosynthesis", says Christine McKenzie.

The key component of the new material is the element cobalt, which is bound in a specially designed organic molecule.

"Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. This mechanism is well known from all breathing creatures on earth: Humans and many other species use iron, while other animals, like crabs and spiders, use copper. Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it is not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material", explains Christine McKenzie.

Depending on the atmospheric oxygen content, temperature, pressure, etc. it takes seconds, minutes, hours or days for the substance to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Different versions of the substance can bind oxygen at different speeds. With this complexity it becomes possible to produce devices that release and/or absorb oxygen under different circumstances – for example a mask containing layers of these materials in the correct sequence might actively supply a person with oxygen directly from the air without the help of pumps or high pressure equipment.

"When the material is saturated with oxygen, it can be compared to an oxygen tank containing pure oxygen under pressure - the difference is that this material can hold three times as much oxygen," says Christine McKenzie.

"This could be valuable for lung patients who today must carry heavy oxygen tanks with them. But also divers may one day be able to leave the oxygen tanks at home and instead get oxygen from this material as it “filters” and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water. A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains”.

The material has been designed and synthesized at University of Southern Denmark. Some of the gas uptake measurements have been made with special equipment by colleagues at the University of Sydney, Australia.

This press release has been corrected October 1st at 16.15 PM.

Photo: The crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when they are saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released again.

Contact Professor Christine McKenzie, +45 6550 2518 and mckenzie@sdu.dk.
Imagine this becoming a reality 10 years from now...

Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project
Reuters By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said he and a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work.

Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of building a 100-megawatt reactor measuring seven feet by 10 feet, which could fit on the back of a large truck, and is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire told reporters.

In a statement, the company, the Pentagon's largest supplier, said it would build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year, and build a prototype in five years.
If it proves feasible, Lockheed's work would mark a key breakthrough in a field that scientists have long eyed as promising, but which has not yet yielded viable power systems. The effort seeks to harness the energy released during nuclear fusion, when atoms combine into more stable forms.

Compact nuclear fusion would produce far less waste than coal-powered plants since it would use deuterium-tritium fuel, which can generate nearly 10 million times more energy than the same amount of fossil fuels, the company said.

Plus some prominent experts show their skepticism:

Business Insider

Scientists Share What They Really Think Of Lockheed Martin's Fusion 'Breakthrough'
Business Insider
By Jessica Orwig – 20 hours ago

Researchers at Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Skunk Works, announced on Wednesday their ongoing work on a new technology that could bring about functional nuclear reactors powered by fusion in the next 10 years.

But most scientists and science communicators we talked to are skeptical of the claim.

"The nuclear engineering clearly fails to be cost effective,"
Tom Jarboe told Business Insider in an email. Jarboe is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics, an adjunct professor in physics, and a researcher with the University of Washington's nuclear fusion experiment.

The premise behind Lockheed's 10-year plan is the smaller size of their device. The scientists are designing an improved version of a compact fusion reactor. The CFR generates power from nuclear fusion by extracting energy through the extremely hot plasma contained inside it.

The plasma consists of hydrogen atoms that, when heated to billions of degrees, fuse together. When this happens they release energy, which the CFR then extracts and can eventually transfer into electricity.

Another possible option for Canadian artillery units in the decades to come?


Raytheon Offers Laser-Guided Artillery to Army, Navy
Raytheon Offers Laser-Guided Artillery to Army, Navy
By Kris Osborn Thursday, October 16th, 2014 5:29 pm

Posted in Air

Raytheon is testing a new laser-guided 155mm artillery shell which adds laser-designation to GPS guidance in order to provide more targeting options and better pinpoint targets on-the-move, company officials said.

The new Excalibur S 155 round, which was recently test-fired at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., allows the munition to alter course in flight toward emerging or moving targets.

Raytheon missile systems is investing in a dual-mode Excalibur variant called Excalibur S. It maintains its GPS guidance system but also adds a laser spot tracker which is a seeker that will detect laser energy from a laser designator and guide to that energy spot on a target,” said Paul Daniels, business development lead, Excalibur, Raytheon.

S.M.A. said:
Another possible option for Canadian artillery units in the decades to come?


And the circle is complete. The M712 Copperhead was a laser guided 155mm round that was developed back in the 70's. As I understand it, this is mostly dead-end technology if you have access to GPS guidance. The observer has to maintain a constant laser "paint" on the target for the entire engagement, and the laser is heavily sensitive to weather, smoke and dust. And the big advantage over GPS, that you can engage a moving target, assumes that the target won't end up moving out of your line of sight.

Now, if GPS jammers are common, or the satellites have been knocked out of the sky, then laser guidance is back to being the best PGM option. But you still need eyes on the target, and you can't use it to engage a preregistered target. And lasers still won't like smoke or clouds.