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Recent Warfare Technologies

Dissident

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Thucydides said:
While this could also go under aircraft or logistics, it is an interesting idea which could have some relevance in more permissive environments. And of course, having a sensor and communications platform that high up also provides more coverage for the commander, overlapping and supplementing other systems.

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/amazon-patents-blimp-warehouse-and.html

This could be brilliant for mobility of light forces. Arguably, this needs a corresponding "pick up" system.
 

a_majoor

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Some future developments coming from the US army, including ambidextrous grenades and lighter body armour:

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/us-soldiers-will-get-improved-grenade.html

January 01, 2017
US soldiers will get improved grenade in 2020 and 35% lighter body armor

The Army‘s Top modernization programs in 2016 range from a new hand grenade designed to be easier for lefthanders to throw to hydrogen-powered vehicles

Improvements soldiers can look forward to include:

* Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade. Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey are developing an “ambidextrous” Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade that can be thrown more easily with either hand. The current M67 grenades require different arming procedures for left-handed users.

Matthew Hall, the Grenades Tech Base development lead, said the transition to the new grenades is expected to take place in fiscal 2020.

* A new, lighter ballistic shirt. In designing the shirt, “We set out with this science and technology effort to meet the needs of high-performance athletes, which is what soldiers are,” said Robert DiLalla, team leader of the Infantry Combat Equipment Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The shirt weighs 35 percent less than the current interceptor body armor system components it will replace. In tests, “The soldiers have spoken loud and clear with more than 90 percent user acceptance in multiple user evaluations,” DiLalla said. The new shirts are expected to be ready in 2019.

The current body armor is 31 pounds in size medium when it equipped with front, back and side armor plates. The Army also issues the Soldier Plate Carrier System, a more stream-lined system designed to lighten the soldiers' load, especially during fast-paced dismounted combat operations. It averages just under 22 pounds with front, back and side armor plates. The goal of the SPS is to shave off 8 to 14 percent of the weight, Hoffman said, so at the most it would weigh about 4.3 pounds lighter than the average IOTV's 31-pound weight. 35% weight reduction would be 12 pounds less.

* 30MM cannon for Stryker Vehicles. The first prototype of an M1126 Stryker mounted with a 30mm cannon was delivered to the Army in October.

* Longer Range Howitzers. Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been working to double the range of the M777A2 howitzer. The M777A2 can shoot about 30 kilometers, but once all of the upgrades are complete, it will be able to shoot about 70 kilometers.

* New Tourniquet. The Army began fielding the new “junctional” tourniquet, which can be used to stop hemorrhaging in the torso, rather than limbs.
 

a_majoor

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Using 3D printers to make weapons and ammunition. The article highlights one interesting issue, while it is cheaper to make prototypes and "one off" systems with a 3D printer, it takes a lot longer than using traditional manufacturing. Once the expensive tooling is in place, cranking out items becomes far faster than "printing" them:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/advice/a25592/the-us-army-3d-printed-a-grenade-launcher-it-calls-rambo/

The U.S. Army 3D-Printed a Grenade Launcher and Called it R.A.M.B.O.
Of course it's called Rambo.
By Kyle Mizokami
Mar 8, 2017 

In a blend of pop culture showmanship and high tech, the U.S. Army has revealed a grenade launcher made almost entirely from 3D-printed parts. Even better, it fires 3D-printed grenades. The project highlights the Army's interest in integrating new manufacturing technologies, ideally lowering costs and easing supply demands down the road.

Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance, or R.A.M.B.O., is a modified M203 grenade launcher with a shoulder stock and pistol grip. The M203 grenade launcher is an older, pump-action design that was fitted under the barrel of an M16 rifle or M4 carbine. It's also probably no longer protected by patent.

R.A.M.B.O. consists of 50 individual parts, and all of them with the exception of springs and fasteners were made by 3D printing. The barrel and receiver were made of aluminum using direct metal laser sintering, which the U.S. Army's Acquisition Support Center describes as a " process that uses high-powered precision lasers to heat the particles of powder below their melting point, essentially welding the fine metal powder layer by layer until a finished object is formed". The trigger and firing pin were printed in 4340 steel.

The grenade launcher barrel and receiver took about 70 hours to print and then required 5 hours of post-print finishing. The barrel was tumbled in an abrasive rock bath and then Type III hard-coat anodized to provide a rugged finish.

The Army is impressed with the process, which proves that someone with uncommon 3D printing equipment can actually build durable grenade launcher parts. "The tooling and setup needed to make such intricate parts through conventional methods would take months and tens of thousands of dollars, and would require a machinist who has the esoteric machining expertise to manufacture things like the rifling on the barrel."

The grenade launcher wasn't the only thing the Army 3D printed. Tt made grenades, too. The Army printed several M781 training rounds, which do not have explosives, out of aluminum and glass-filled nylon. The 3D printed grenade launcher and grenades were tested in October 2016 and displayed zero degradation after 15 shots. 3D printed grenades came within five percent of the muzzle velocity of regular production grenades, proving that the system was performing close to the real thing.

Army engineers involved in the project hit just one snag during testing, one that was easily fixed. Early versions of the grenades experienced cracking in the aluminum cases. To fix, engineers simply went into the software and made the walls of the cartridge case thicker. The next grenade was printed with the thicker walls and the problem was solved.

The production of actual, useful heavy weapons has serious implications for defense manufacturing. New designs can be quickly prototyped and tested without creating new, expensive tooling. Down the road, all weapons might someday be produced this way. And even further into the future, it could be possible for soldiers at forward outposts to print their own weapons or critical replacement parts.
 

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a_majoor

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GBAD vs small drones and UAVs:

https://strategypage.com/htmw/htada/articles/20170302.aspx

Air Defense: AUDs Go To War

March 2, 2017: Since 2014 a growing number of AUDs (Anti UAV Defense) systems have been designed and gone into testing and development. Some have apparently (and without much publicity) been sent to Iraq and Syria for use against the growing number of commercial UAVs ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is employing for surveillance or combat (when rigged to drop small explosive devices that have caused several dozen casualties). One of these AUDs, developed by a British firm (Blighter), has been delivered to U.S. troops in combat zones for use and, in effect, to see if it works as well in combat as it did during extensive testing (against 60 different UAVs during 1,500 test sorties). The Blighter AUDs can be placed on roof tops or any other high terrain or carried in a vehicles (truck or hummer). It can detect UAVs 10 kilometers away and identify and disable UAVs in less than 15 seconds. This is done by either jamming or taking over the control signal (and landing the UAV). Separately an Israeli firm has sold 21 AUDs to the U.S. military for use in the Middle East. No details were given other than the price ($743,000 each) and that these AUDs were light enough for ground troops carry in a backpack.

The number of anti-UAV weapons showing up indicates that the countries with larger defense budgets see a need for this sort of thing and are willing to pay for a solution. That need has been created by the growing availability of small, inexpensive UAVs that can (and are) used by criminals and Islamic terrorists. These more sophisticated AUDs are safer (for nearby civilians) to use because they rely on lasers or electronic signals to destroy or disable UAVs. For example the CLWS (Compact Laser Weapon System) is a laser weapon light enough to mount on helicopters or hummers and can destroy small UAVs up to 2,000 meters away while it can disable or destroy the sensors (vidcams) on a UAV up to 7,000 meters away. The CLWS fire control system will automatically track and keep the laser firing on a selected target. It can take up to 15 seconds of laser fire to bring down a UAV or destroy its camera. Another example is an even more portable system that can be carried and operated by one person. This is DroneDefender system, which is a 6.8 kg (15 pound) electronic rifle that can disrupt control signals for a small UAV. Range is only a few hundred meters so DroneDefender would be most useful to police.

There is also a high-end system similar to DroneDefender that can use data from multiple sensors (visual, heat, radar) to detect the small UAVs and then use a focused radio signal jammer to cut the UAV off from its controller and prevent (in most cases) the UAV from completing its mission. The detection range of this AUDS is usually 10 kilometers or more and jamming range varies from a few kilometers to about eight.

AUDS can be defeated. For example a user can send a small UAV off on a pre-programmed mission. This can be to take photos or deliver a small explosive. ISIL is apparently the first to least successfully use armed micro-UAVs and for several years North Korea has been using small recon UAVs flying under automatic control into and out of South Korea.

If these UAVs are still detected they have to be destroyed via ground or air-to-air fire. This the South Koreans and Israelis have had to do several times and now that is also happening a lot in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere where Islamic terrorists are active. The Israelis were dealing with Palestinian Islamic terrorist groups using small UAVs, often Iranian models and that is why a lot of new AUDs have been coming from Israel. South Korea and Israel have also relied on more sensor systems, especially new radars that can detect the smallest UAVs moving at any speed and altitude. The downside of using missiles to machine-guns to take down UAVs is that those bullets and missiles eventually return to earth and often kill or injure people (usually civilians) on the ground.
 

Colin Parkinson

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These conflicts have been a major factor in the growing success of DJI who is the largest manufacturer of retail drones. It won't be that hard to disrupt these types of drones as the frequencies they use are well known. I do expect that someone will soon offer kits to upgrade these drones to encrypted signals for at least controls if not video.
 

Rifleman62

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http://video.foxnews.com/v/5457542546001/?playlist_id=86861&cmpid=NL_SciTech#sp=show-clips

(US) Air Force Academy cadet creates bulletproof substance - Jun. 02, 2017

Video at link.

Air Force cadet Hayley Weir had an idea that turned out to be a game changer. "It was just the concept of going out there and stopping a bullet with something that we had made in a chemistry lab."

The 21-year-old Weir approached Air Force Academy Assistant Professor Ryan Burke with the idea. He was skeptical.

"I said, 'I'm not really sure this is going to work, the body armor industry is a billion-plus-dollar industry," he noted.

Weir's idea was to combine anti-ballistic fabric with what's known as a shear thickening fluid to create a less heavy material to use in body armor. She demonstrated the principle to Burke by combining water and cornstarch in a container and asking the professor to jam his finger into the paste-like goo.

"I jam my finger right into this bowl, and I almost broke my finger! Hayley's laughing because I've got this finger that I'm shaking and I'm saying, 'You know, that's pretty impressive stuff.'"

Convinced, Ryan worked with Weir for several months in a small lab at the Air Force Adacemy in Colorado Springs. They were helped and advised by Dr. Jeff Owens, Senior Research Chemist at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

They tried combining several different ingredients to come up with the exact formula for the shear thickening fluid, and the correct way to layer it with ballistic fibers.

"The pieces are not new," Weir explains, "everything that we've used in there has been researched (before) in some capacity for ballistics protection."

They tested their combinations on the firing range, failing time and again, until one day their quarter-inch thick design repeatedly stopped a round fired from a 9mm handgun.

Weir and Ryan's excitement was tempered by the range safety officer who pulled his .44 Magnum and told them bluntly, "This will fail."

Ryan says, "We loaded it in and it stopped it. And it stopped it a second time, and then a third time."

They realized they had hit on something special, that could potentially lighten the average 26-pound body armor kit worn by servicemen in the field by as much as two thirds.

"This is something that our competition doesn't have right now," Weir explained. "And with this advantage our soldiers, if they wear this body armor, will be able to move faster, run farther, jump higher."

Body armor for the military and first responders may not be the only thing that can be improved by the new fabric. It could possibly be used to reduce or replace the thick metal plates that protect military aircraft, tanks and other vehicles.

"And there's some significant gravity and weight behind that," Ryan said. "And what it could mean for people like my friends who are still active duty in the military, that are going downrange, serving overseas."

A patent for the as yet unnamed design is pending, and if money is ultimately made, the Air Force will share the profits with Weir, Ryan and Owens.

"It doesn't feel like it's that great of an achievement," Weir muses, "just because it's been something that we've enjoyed doing."

The Air Force believes it is definitely a great achievement. They are providing the newly graduated 2d Lt Weir with a full-ride scholarship to Clemson University, where she will earn her Master of Materials Science and Engineering, before returning to the Air Force to continue her work.
 

a_majoor

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Carrying lots of "stuff" has always been the bane of the infantry, especially light infantry. While this in its current form is more for a person going camping, you can imagine adapting something like this for being pulled behind an ATV, or by rear area troops moving things around for the CQ and other tasks:

http://newatlas.com/the-wheel-all-terrain-cart/49813/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

Startup reinvents the Wheel for hauling gear and drinks over any terrain
C.C. Weiss C.C. Weiss  June 1, 2017

Who wants to carry a fully loaded modern cooler, often a war zone-ready hunk of roto-molded plastic, plus chairs, tents and other accompanying gear, meters or miles to the campsite? The Real Wheel presents a better way to go about it. Its mono-wheel cart features an integrated cooler bag and table, rolling over pavement, dirt, rock, sand and whatever else is in the way. It carries up to 200 lb (91 kg), meaning you can load it up and make just one trip to camp, the beach, etc. It's essentially a tailgate on wheels – err ... wheel.

The Wheel's flat top can be used to stack and haul additional gear Upon arrival, the Wheel turns into a small table Built-in cupholders help prevent spilled drinks The Wheel's attachment points help you secure your gear
We've seen a few all-terrain gear carts in recent years, including the Zuca All Terrain and Armadillo trailer. But the Wheel is a different breed, replacing the typical two- or four-wheel setup with one wheel with 19.5-in closed-cell foam tire in the middle. The tire is covered by a water-resistant rubberized PVC skin, adding extra durability and water resistance.

Instead of the central hub we're used to seeing on other wheels, this take on the idea uses what The Real Wheel founder Jackie Piscitello describes as a needle bearing-like design. A series of rollers keep the wheel rolling over all types of uneven terrain while leaving the center hollow for storing gear and lowering center of gravity. The gear stored inside remains stationary as the wheel spins.

The Wheel comes with a cooler bag that secures in the middle. It can be used for storing food and drink or as a gear bag for hauling other items. The Real Wheel says it'll hold 48 cans or 14 bottles of wine – a good time if ever we've heard one.

The Real Wheel's powder-coated aluminum frame has a flat top that you can secure additional gear to. With a total payload of 200 lb (91 kg), you can carry tents, chairs, umbrellas, clothes bags, etc. Bungee tie-downs let you secure all that gear to keep it stable for the ride.

Once you come to a stop, The Wheel sets up and levels off with four included adjustable-height kickstands, and the gear-shouldering top becomes a table, complete with two cupholders. The cooler bag includes a retractable bottle opener.

The Wheel weighs 25 lb (11 kg) and features a folding handle, bringing size down to 22 x 22 x 24 in (56 x 56 x 61 cm) for transport and storage.

The Real Wheel will put The Wheel on Kickstarter next Tuesday, June 6, letting the crowdfunding masses help sculpt its fate. Early bird pledge levels will start at US$299, a $100 savings off the estimated $399 retail price.

The all-new consumer-spec Wheel follows The Real Wheel's original heavy-duty emergency services design aimed at hauling gear – and even medical patients on stretchers – in and out of disaster relief zones.
 

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a_majoor

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A low cost drone which can stay aloft for 5 days running on a conventional engine. Certainly much more useful for long term surveillance, as a comms relay or for other uses, and not dependent on the weather like a solar powered aircraft:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/gasoline-powered-drones-that-can-stay-aloft-for-five-days.html#more-133704

Gasoline powered Drones that can stay aloft for five days 
brian wang | June 12, 2017 |

MIT engineers has come up with a much less expensive UAV design that can hover for longer durations to provide wide-ranging communications support. The researchers designed, built, and tested a UAV resembling a thin glider with a 24-foot wingspan. The vehicle can carry 10 to 20 pounds of communications equipment while flying at an altitude of 15,000 feet. Weighing in at just under 150 pounds, the vehicle is powered by a 5-horsepower gasoline engine and can keep itself aloft for more than five days — longer than any gasoline-powered autonomous aircraft has remained in flight, the researchers say.

The team looked into the idea and analyzed the problem from multiple engineering angles, they found that solar power — at least for long-duration emergency response — was not the way to go.

“[A solar vehicle] would work fine in the summer season, but in winter, particularly if you’re far from the equator, nights are longer, and there’s not as much sunlight during the day. So you have to carry more batteries, which adds weight and makes the plane bigger,” Hansman says. “For the mission of disaster relief, this could only respond to disasters that occur in summer, at low latitude. That just doesn’t work.”

They came up with a design that was predicted to stay in flight for more than five days, at altitudes of 15,000 feet, in up to 94th-percentile winds, at any latitude.

In the fall of 2016, the team built a prototype UAV, following the dimensions determined by students using Hoburg’s software tool. To keep the vehicle lightweight, they used materials such as carbon fiber for its wings and fuselage, and Kevlar for the tail and nosecone, which houses the payload. The researchers designed the UAV to be easily taken apart and stored in a FedEx box, to be shipped to any disaster region and quickly reassembled.

This spring, the students refined the prototype and developed a launch system, fashioning a simple metal frame to fit on a typical car roof rack. The UAV sits atop the frame as a driver accelerates the launch vehicle (a car or truck) up to rotation speed — the UAV’s optimal takeoff speed. At that point, the remote pilot would angle the UAV toward the sky, automatically releasing a fastener and allowing the UAV to lift off.
In early May, the team put the UAV to the test, conducting flight tests at Plum Island Airport in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
 

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Colin Parkinson

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I can see where using solar cells as part of the skin to help reduce the amount of electricity needed to be produced could be useful, which would require less generation and drag on the engine, reducing consumption.
 

a_majoor

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China demonstrates really huge "swarms" of UAVs. I'm sure there must be some sort of limit where the complexity of the swarm or logistical  tail makes this sort of thing impractical (the USMC is looking at "only" 40 drones for platoon and company level swarms, for example), but the limit clearly hasn't been reached yet:

http://www.janes.com/article/71624/china-launches-record-breaking-uav-swarm

China launches record-breaking UAV swarm
Andrew Tate, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
22 June 2017
 
China's CETC claims to have set a new record for the number of UAVs launched in a swarm. Source: Via CCTV
The China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) claims to have set a new record for the number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying in a swarm, the state-owned Xinhua news agency quoted the corporation as saying.

The 11 June news report states that the swarm comprised 119 UAVs, breaking CETC's previous record swarm of 67 UAVs. Xinhua did not mention when or where the event took place.

The size of the mini UAV swarm is greater than that trialled by the US Air Force in October 2016 when three Boeing F/A-18 Hornets deployed a swarm of 103 Perdix micro UAVs, which the US Department of Defense noted was one of the world's largest micro UAV swarms to date.

CETC published a video in 2016 of its fixed-wing UAV swarm prototype, which shows the UAVs in a co-ordinated launch from the ground. The corporation said that the UAVs were flying ad hoc networks, sensing and avoiding collision, and demonstrating autonomous group control.

The 2016 video also indicates that the development is aimed at enhancing capabilities in the fields of collaborative intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), target acquisition, distributed wide area surveillance, and saturation attack.

A CETC engineer was quoted by Xinhua as saying that UAV swarms will become "a disruptive force" that will "change the rules of the game".

In the United States a number of programmes are being run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop concepts and applications of UAV/ unmanned aerial systems (UAS) swarms.
 

a_majoor

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An interesting conceptual breakthrough; an algorithm that can allow you to make "universal" origami folds in materials. The idea of being able to package items and "fold" them into shape or manufacture items by simply "folding" them out of a single sheet of material may have advantages in reducing costs, making items stronger or lighter and avoiding holes or seams in items. Like most ideas, this will have advantages in certain applications, while more conventional means of building or manufacturing may continue to be more cost effective:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/optimal-universal-origami-folding-with-more-practical-results.html

Optimal Universal origami folding with more practical results
brian wang | June 27, 2017 | 

At the Symposium on Computational Geometry in July, Erik Demaine and Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo will announce the completion of a quest that began with a 1999 paper: a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams.

“In 1999, we proved that you could fold any polyhedron, but the way that we showed how to do it was very inefficient,” Demaine says. “It’s efficient if your initial piece of paper is super-long and skinny. But if you were going to start with a square piece of paper, then that old method would basically fold the square paper down to a thin strip, wasting almost all the material. The new result promises to be much more efficient. It’s a totally different strategy for thinking about how to make a polyhedron.”

Demaine and Tachi are also working to implement the algorithm in a new version of Origamizer, the free software for generating origami crease patterns whose first version Tachi released in 2008.

Researchers have created a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams. Image: Christine Daniloff/MIT

Technically speaking, the guarantee that the folding will involve the minimum number of seams means that it preserves the “boundaries” of the original piece of paper. Suppose, for instance, that you have a circular piece of paper and want to fold it into a cup. Leaving a smaller circle at the center of the piece of paper flat, you could bunch the sides together in a pleated pattern; in fact, some water-cooler cups are manufactured on this exact design.

“The new algorithm is supposed to give you much better, more practical foldings,” Demaine says. “We don’t know how to quantify that mathematically, exactly, other than it seems to work much better in practice. But we do have one mathematical property that nicely distinguishes the two methods. The new method keeps the boundary of the original piece of paper on the boundary of the surface you’re trying to make. We call this watertightness.”
 

a_majoor

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Update on the use of a lifesaving foam. Takes ideas like "Quick-clot" to a whole new level,

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/06/29/this-foam-could-save-your-life.html

Countless military lives could be saved in the future thanks to a new remarkable foam.

Made by Arsenal Medical and fittingly dubbed ResQ Foam, this remarkable innovation rapidly expands inside the body and seals off the wound.

Bleeding to death is the leading cause of fatalities on the battlefield, according to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. So the US military has long been searching for a solution that would tackle this problem.

The foam has enormous potential for civilians.

In combat, immediate evacuation of the wounded to surgical care is seldom possible. Rescue and evacuation can take quite a while and many warfighters bleed out before there is a chance for them to reach a trauma surgeon.

So how does it work?

The foam doesn’t repair the injury. Instead, ResQ Foam (which must be injected) stabilizes the wounded.

The injector looks like the sort of device you would use to caulk a bathtub. It is designed so that two chemicals mix and this triggers the foam to activate.

Once the foam is injected in the abdomen, it rapidly expands. It can expand to an astonishing 35 times the original volume.

The foam buys the patient about three more hours to get to a surgeon – this can be the critical difference between life and death.

When the wounded reaches a surgeon, the ResQ foam can be removed.

Saving American warfighters

In the future, ResQ Foam has the potential to save countless military lives.

How Armed “Angels of the Battlefield" Save Lives Against Impossible Odds

At this time, most of the hemostatic options for truncal wounds are powders or bandages. To be effective, these require the ability to see the wound and manually compress.

When will it reach battlefields?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began the wound stasis program in 2010 seeking a solution to this tough challenge of major abdominal bleeding due to trauma. After very promising early results, the project transitioned to the Army in 2015.

This year, ResQ Foam received an Investigational Device Exemption from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means that the FDA has approved Arsenal Medical's request to begin the clinical trial process.

The project is being managed by the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency. The key clinical trial is expected to begin next year.

This story has been updated to clarify additional details about the project.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.
 

Rifleman62

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See: https://army.ca/forums/threads/126060.0.html

I was going to post it here but posted in CFMG.
 

a_majoor

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an interesting evolution of the reflex sight:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HPWATOC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01HPWATOC&linkCode=as2&tag=drhelenblog-20&linkId=97252ab9719ae487c640e3ecd15545be

Feyachi Reflex Sight - Adjustable Reticle (4 styles) Both Red and Green in one sight!
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Reticle allows for 4 different styles. Dot, Circle/Dot, Crosshair/Dot, Crosshair/Circle/Dot combinations. All in one sight!
A 33mm lens provides quick target acquisition. Wide field of view to maintain situational awareness.
Very sturdy and secure rail mounting system. Will not come loose, made to last.
Parallax corrected & unlimited eye-relief, where the dot goes, so does the bullet!
Ultralight, waterproof and shockproof - Powered one 3V lithium battery (included).
 

a_majoor

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Railgun progress"

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/07/navy-increasing-railgun-power-and-rep-rate.html#more-134853

Navy increasing Railgun power and rep ratebrian wang | July 22, 2017 | 

The US Navy work will focus over the next year on increasing railgun power with which projectiles are fired to the target of 32 megajoules and increasing the firing rate to 10 shots per minute, or one every six seconds. said Dr. Tom Beutner, head of Naval Air Warfare and Weapons for ONR.

At 32 megajoules, the railgun will have a range of about 110 nautical miles.

Engineers will bring a new composite launcher designed to support the increased power and rep rate to where railgun prototypes are already being fired using a demonstration barrel.

Possibly more interesting is this comment on the same thread:

GoatGuy NBF Monitor in reply torick_cavarettifIncreased barrel lifetimes and...more » 7 hour(s) ago

I've heard of two important advancements at least in [1]. Relatively thin fire-and-unroll copper foils to line the 2 poles of the barrel. Unseen externally, a roll of foil is drawn down the interior of the barrel on each side (each pole); the projectiles are fired, and after each firing, another strip of copper foil is unwound. The damage caused by each shot is substantial to the strip of foil, but it retains enough integrity to be pulled into place without gumming up each shot.

So in the end, only the foil is damaged. And it is cheap, relatively speaking. Entirely recyclable too, if that is a consideration.

The second is the use of high conductivity graphite-and-copper brushes, not unlike old fashioned AC/DC universal motors. Using multiple brushes suppresses in-barrel arcing substantially. Graphite lubricates, copper increases conduction. Each brush unit is expendable. They go flying out the end just like the sabot itself.

Both methods call for one-shot expendable (and presumably pretty cheap per shot) stuff. But the rolling foil REALLY protects the barrel. And neither implies that either is exclusively employed. One might use less copper foil with the graphite-brush method. Dunno. Interesting.

Hypervelocity ammunition with ranges out to over 180km will be a considerable game changer.
 

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Toyota is working on solid state batteries for fast charging, long range electric cars. This sort of technology will also have major knock on effects for such items as radios, computers and other electronic gear that we use. Toyota is working on other areas, my only disagreement is hydrogen fuel cells require very difficult to manufacture, store and use hydrogen. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells which can work directly off of hydrocarbons exist and should be the way to go for military and vehicular fuel cell usage, unlocking the incredible energy density of hydrocarbons in one step:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-toyota-electric-cars-idUSKBN1AA035

Toyota set to sell long-range, fast-charging electric cars in 2022: paper

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp is working on an electric car powered by a new type of battery that significantly increases driving range and reduces charging time, aiming to begin sales in 2022, the Chunichi Shimbun daily reported on Tuesday.

Toyota's new electric car, to be built on an all-new platform, will use all-solid-state batteries, allowing it to be recharged in just a few minutes, the newspaper said, without citing sources.

By contrast, current electric vehicles (EVs), which use lithium-ion batteries, need 20-30 minutes to recharge even with fast chargers and typically have a range of just 300-400 kilometers (185-250 miles).

Toyota has decided to sell the new model in Japan as early as 2022, the paper said.

Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi said the company would not comment on specific product plans but added that it aimed to commercialize all-solid-state batteries by the early 2020s.

Japan's biggest automaker is looking to close the gap with EV leaders such as Nissan Motor Co and Tesla Inc as battery-powered cars gain traction around the globe as a viable emission-free alternative to conventional cars.

Whether Toyota will be able to leapfrog its rivals remains to be seen, however, as mass production requires a far more stringent level of quality control and reliability.

"There's a pretty long distance between the lab bench and manufacturing," said CLSA auto analyst Christopher Richter. "2022 is ages away, and a lot can change in the meantime." How quickly the new EVs will catch on would also depend largely on battery costs.

Having long touted hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and plug-in hybrids as the most sensible technology to make cars greener, Toyota last year said it wanted to add long-range EVs to its line-up, and set up a new in-house unit, headed by President Akio Toyoda, to develop and market EVs.

Toyota is reportedly planning to begin mass-producing EVs in China, the world's biggest auto market, as early as in 2019, although that model would be based on the existing C-HR sport utility vehicle and use lithium-ion batteries.

Other automakers such as BMW are also working on developing all-solid-state batteries, eyeing mass production in the next 10 years.

Solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes rather than liquid ones, making them safer than lithium-ion batteries currently on the market.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Naomi Tajitsu, Additional reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
 

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France begins deploying the FELIN infantry system to troops:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/08/until-exoskeletons-are-deployed-the-french-felin-body-armor-is-the-most-advanced-infrantry-system.html#more-136092

Until exoskeletons are deployed the French Felin body armor is the most advanced infrantry system
brian wang | August 25, 2017 | 

France deployed the first versions of combat armor with the FELIN combat system.

FÉLIN (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés, Integrated Infantryman Equipment and Communications) is the name for the French infantry combat system developed by Safran Electronics and Defense.

It combines a modified FAMAS rifle with a host of other electronics, clothing, pouches, and body armour. The helmet is an integral SPECTRA helmet fitted with real-time positioning and information system, and with light amplifiers for night vision. Power sources will be made of two rechargeable Li-ion batteries.

The €1.1bn (FY2012) project will see 22,588 units delivered between 2010 and 2015, at a unit cost of €38,000 (€49,000 including development costs). The system entered service in late 2011, when 300 were deployed to Afghanistan.

The French DGA is in the process of purchasing 8,000 sets of body armor from NFM Group. It is expected that deliveries of the same number of FELIN v1.3 ensembles will be made simultaneously.

Up to 40% lighter than the original, the V1.3 version for the French Army includes new software functionality for units tasked with supporting sharpshooters and mortar teams, a new load carrying structure plus lighter and more modular armor. It features a new combat vest optimized for use of the SitComdé BMS terminal. Plans call for the upgrades to be integrated into new production versions due for delivery early this year.

The main upgrade from V1.2 to V1.3 as comprising the introduction of the next-generation RIF NG tactical handheld radio, which also includes a communications headset, tablet-form End User Device; and and headset; and end user device (EUD) in tablet form; computer processor unit (CPU).

Powered by two battery packs, FELIN V1.3 will also include a helmet-mounted monocular night vision system, feeds of which can be networked to the EUD and CPU for dissemination to tactical operations centers; as well as a BMS for ground commanders based on the French Army’s developmental SCORPION SICS technology.
 

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China is working on developing "swarm" warfare. This is in line with the US military's "Third Offset Strategy" which is also working to develop cooperative weaponry (although the current idea isn't just swarming drones, but to link everything globally in a cooperative sensor and shooter web. Swarms of drones and drone weaponry would not just be autonomous attack swarms, but could also provide sensor coverage and cue other weapons or units operating in range, or react to the sensor inputs form other units and devices).

https://www.ft.com/content/302fc14a-66ef-11e7-8526-7b38dcaef614

Drone swarms vs conventional arms: China’s military debate
Beijing split over pursuit of low-cost hybrid systems to add to its arsenal
AUGUST 24, 2017 by: Emily Feng and Charles Clover in Beijing

With their tiny propellers buzzing, the fleet of Chinese aircraft, little larger than model planes, are flung into the air one at a time by huge rubber bands. Soon the sky is full of toylike drones flying in formations over unidentified mountains in China.

This unlikely spectacle could represent a revolution in military affairs. The June 11 demonstration of “swarm” technology by China Electronics Technology Group, a state-owned high-tech company, included 119 drones. That made it the world’s largest-ever swarm, according to CETC, breaking a US-held record.

Each tiny aircraft — bought online for a few hundred dollars — is loaded with software and sensors capable of communicating with the other drones in the swarm. Developers are working towards a future where thousands could operate in sync, identifying and attacking targets. In theory, such swarms could feature drones fitted with missiles or warheads capable of sophisticated attacks designed to overwhelm defences with their sheer numbers.

“This goes all the way back to the tactics of Attila the Hun,” says Randall Steeb, senior engineer at the Rand Corporation in the US. “A light attack force that can defeat more powerful and sophisticated opponents. They come out of nowhere, attack from all sides and then disappear, over and over.”

China’s two-decade effort to modernise its military has seen it develop stealth fighters, guided missile destroyers and ballistic “carrier killer” missiles, while also reducing troop numbers. It will spend at least $152bn this year on its military, but only in a few areas has it come close to surpassing US technology. Beijing is now betting that swarms of drones, low-tech hardware knitted together with high-tech artificial intelligence, will become a weapon of the future.

The gamble is that they can be effective both as a lethal and non-lethal weapon. Thousands of cheap, 3D-printed drones, for example, could swarm aircraft carriers or fighter jets, which currently have no countermeasures for such attacks. They can also be effective, say experts, without being lethal by crossing the line into a shooting war — a valuable form of deterrence, especially for weaker countries.

For example, swarms of autonomous boats could appear when a US ship sails close to a disputed island in the South China Sea and block its path. Referred to by the US military as “grey-zone threats”, they could leave a superior military with a dilemma about how to respond without appearing to be the aggressor.

“Swarming is currently considered to be one of the most promising areas of defence technology development in the world,” says Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. “The Chinese are prioritising it.”

As is Washington. “Clearly the US and China are in some sort of weird swarm race,” says Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security who writes on military robotics. “A swarm with 10 more individual drones isn’t necessarily better. What matters are the things you can’t see. It’s the algorithms that govern the swarm behaviour.”

China insists it is now on an even footing with the US on drones, with CETC saying it has “made some major breakthroughs”. But experts warn that mature swarm technology is still a long way off and will require developing the necessary technology to boost communication between the drones, methods to keep them in the air longer and a modern military capable of deploying the swarms effectively.

It is hard to assess the claim that China’s technology is superior to that of the US, says Mr Scharre. The US military operates about 7,000 drones. Analysts say there could be at least 1,300 currently in operation between the Chinese army and air force, although none have been used in offensive missions. 

However, Chinese-made drones have seen combat in war zones around the world, in the hands of importers such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. These drones are not autonomous, however, and require aircrews of at least three to operate them.

Swarms take the might of drones one step further. “The essence of a swarm is co-operation,” adds Mr Scharre. “Having a hundred or a thousand small cheap drones that can’t communicate and co-ordinate behaviour isn’t worth much. What’s valuable is if they can communicate and work cooperatively. That’s a difference between a wolf pack and just little wolves.”

The past 25 years have witnessed a period of US military dominance built on advanced technology in areas such as stealth and precision weaponry.

The US, which outspends China, its closest rival in military spending, by nearly four times, retains primacy through small amounts of highly sophisticated weapons. But as laggards catch up with cruise missiles and stealth fighters of their own, the US has been focused on even newer technologies. That has driven a new era in weaponry, where robotics, directed energy weapons and 3D-printed kit will feature on the battlefields of the future.

The advent of swarm technology heralds a period that could reverse the trend of the past quarter of a century, which has seen the deployment of fewer but more advanced — and expensive — weapons platforms. The next generation of weapons may see sophisticated technology systems outdone by the sheer numbers of autonomous swarms.

“The result [of swarm technology] will be a paradigm shift where mass once again becomes the decisive factor on the battlefield, where having the most intelligent algorithm may be more important than having the best hardware,” says Mr Scharre.

The US has prioritised expensive, highly advanced hardware such as Global Hawk drones that require a team of dozens to keep them in the air. The advantage of swarms is that they require comparatively low-tech hardware knitted together with advanced software. Some in China see robotics as part of an asymmetric warfare in which an opponent whose overall capabilities are regarded as technologically inferior can defeat a superior one.

“The People’s Liberation Army anticipates that swarm intelligence and swarming tactics could serve as an asymmetric means to target high-value US weapons platforms,” says Elsa Kania, an independent researcher on Chinese military affairs.

This is creating tensions within the ranks of China’s defence establishment, where the competition for resources and funding is intense amid a radical overhaul of the services. Military leaders want expensive planes and ships that rival American weapons. But a growing faction within the PLA favours committing more resources to next-generation weapons.

Wang Weixing, a military research director at the PLA, is one of a number who argue that Beijing’s focus on matching the US in technology — stealth fighters, carrier killer missiles, aircraft carriers — is wrong-headed and that it should adopt an “asymmetric” strategy focused on drones.

“As people are still preparing for a high-tech war, the old and new are becoming intertwined to become a new form of hidden complex ‘hybrid war’,” he wrote in June in a front-page commentary in the PLA Daily, the military’s flagship publication. “Unmanned combat is gradually emerging. While people have their heads buried in the sand trying to close the gap with the world’s military powers in terms of traditional weapons, technology-driven ‘light warfare’ is about to take the stage.”

How a US drone swarm worked

The October 2016 exercise by the US military at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California saw the release of 103-strong swarm of Perdix drones. The drones, each with a wingspan of just under 30 centimetres, flew four “missions” under the command of an operator, who followed them on a tactical screen, above. The operator calls a “play” — a general order — which is then interpreted by the swarm. Drone swarms share a distributed “brain” for decision-making and can adapt to circumstances.

China, which is at the centre of the commercial drone industry, has some advantages as the era of unmanned systems dawns. Manufacturers such as DJI, Zerotech and Ehang dominate the global consumer drone industry and many of these private sector companies have been co-opted to work for the PLA.

“It is increasingly blurred what is civilian and what is military, especially in areas like UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles],” says Tai Ming Cheung, director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Co-operation at the University of California, San Diego.

For example, the drone used by CETC in the June swarm demonstration was the X-6 Skywalker, a commercial model that can be easily customised. One US drone engineer, who asked not to be named, says: “If the military advantage is going to the country that can make the largest amounts of cheap commodity electronics, then watch out for China.”

Chinese leaders have trumpeted technological advances even as the country’s armed forces plan to shed 300,000 personnel by 2018, becoming more streamlined and combat-ready. Autonomously operating swarms would require far fewer active troops.

Swarm technology, say defence experts, is attractive to Beijing as it would allow China to project force with a lower probability of military confrontation. Drones, unlike fighter jets or aircraft carriers, are less threatening and can be shot down or captured without triggering a military escalation. In December, China seized a US underwater drone in the South China Sea, which the PLA then handed back after a few days. This would have triggered a major crisis had it been a manned vehicle.

China is also pushing into other areas of robot technology including an imitation of Boston Dynamics’ “Big Dog” troop support robot, which resembles something out of Star Wars and is designed to carry equipment into battle. Developed by arms conglomerate Norinco, Mr Kashin likens it to “a $1m donkey”. Yunzhou Tech Corporation, based in Zhuhai, displayed an unmanned boat armed with a machine gun turret at a military technology exhibition in Beijing last month. A Chinese website recently published photos of a torpedo-carrying autonomous vehicle that skims the surface of the water. The product could be used to target submarines. “These are not like anything anyone else has,” says Mr Kashin.

“China has come a long way in its development of unmanned systems in a relatively short period,” says Michael Chase, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation.

Jack Midgley of Deloitte’s defence consulting practice says that, judging by China’s poor record of integrating technologies and new organisational models, the inherently conservative attitude of its military may put it at a disadvantage. “The natural risk aversion of military commanders is why it takes years or decades to integrate new technologies,” he says.

China is not alone in this — some service branches in the US are also resistant to drones taking away human roles such as pilots. But Beijing’s attitude to new defence technology may be evolving. In 2001, the PLA created its first training curriculum for UAV personnel. Today, at least three out of the five PLA branches, the army, navy and air force, have incorporated UAV units into their operations and training.

“The PLA may not have as many qualms [as the US] about having UAVs become a much larger part of its war structure,” says Ms Kania. Ultimately, she says, it is not the country that invents the latest technology but the one that figures out how best to integrate it on the battlefield that will have the most success. The new arms race may not be about driving technological change, so much as adapting to it.

Factories ready for military role

High technology undergoes a dramatic transformation when it hits China — everything from smartphones to laptops to telecommunications networks go from being expensive and proprietary to being cheap and easy to produce in a few short years. Thousands of factories in southern China churn out components for iPhone or iPad imitations, sometimes in the same factories that produce the Apple gadgets themselves.

Could the commodification of technology happen to defence industries as well? This is an important question for The Pentagon. The prospect of robot wars in the future raises the question of whether quantity will finally trump quality when it comes to military hardware. This trend clearly favours China as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse.

Another trend favouring China is that next-generation defence technologies are more and more indistinguishable from the civilian technologies mass produced in cities like Shenzhen. While recent breakthroughs in stealth and precision guidance were purely military applications, the next round might be in areas such as facial recognition or autonomous driving, and are as likely to come from the private sector as from the military, both in the US and China. This blurring of lines has been recognised by President Xi Jinping (left), who this year created a Military-Civil Integration Development Commission with himself as head.

Military industry in China now feeds off the private industry and vice versa: China has become the market leader in commercial drones, as well as a robust exporter of military drones based on US models like the Reaper and the Predator to countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

A third trend favouring China is that software has become more important than hardware. As part of an effort to reduce their reliance on US technology companies such as IBM and Oracle, Chinese banks have begun using systems based on simpler servers kitted out with advanced software.

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer, has embraced “software defined networks” that are designed to be much cheaper than the previous proprietary networks, run by cloud-based software that knits together standardised routers and switches. Autonomous drone swarm technology represents the culmination of this trend — cheap, commoditised hardware functioning on high-powered software. Charles Clover
 
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