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Climbing paddles carry ‘gecko man’ over vertical glass walls

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These stealthy bikes are made for special ops

June 1, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 

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DARPA’s Selects Four Developers for new X-Plane Program

March 18, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 

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Successful EXCALIBUR Test Brings DARPA Closer to Compact High Energy Lasers

March 6, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News, United States 

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Transformer Vehicle Sets for Flight Testing in California Next Month

January 11, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, logistics, Syndicated Industry News 

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Eight Teams Graduate DARPA Robotic Challenge Trials

December 26, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News, United States 

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Sikorsky, Aurora Flight Sciences to Develop VTOL X-Planes for DARPA

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Sikorsky, Aurora Flight Sciences to Develop VTOL X-Planes for DARPA

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LRASM Anti-ship Missile Conducts Second Flight Test

November 14, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 

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DARPA Awards Five Contracts for the Evaluation of TERN Naval UAS

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Improved Water Purification Technology Reduces SWaP, Logistics Burden

June 26, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, logistics, Syndicated Industry News 

water_drop300Military vehicles don’t run without fuel—and warfighters don’t run without water. As little as a six to eight percent water deficit can be debilitating. As a result, military logistics plans must take into account the approximately three...

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Standoff Detection of IEDs – with DARPA’s MEDS Program

Car_bomb_in_Iraq300iIn October 2012 The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published a call for technology developers to come up with innovative ideas for explosive detection technologies capable of detecting and identifying explosives from standoff...

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ADAPTing Commercial Systems to Deliver Mass produced, Low Cost Military Sensors

June 1, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 

ADAPTUnattended sensors have evolved through the years, from hand emplaced and retrieved systems inserted and retrieved from enemy area by special forces, to lightweight, expendable sensors that could be dropped from the air and tapped, via wireless links...

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Human-Scale CHIMP Robot to Compete at DARPA’s Robotic Challenge

March 12, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News, United States 
chimp300A team from Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) is developing a human-size robot that is built with four limbs, like a Chimpanzee but moves on tracks, like a tank. The new robot is one of seven finalists to compete the DARPA Robotic Challenge.

B-1B To Test New Offensive Anti-Surface Missile

March 6, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Lockheed Martin, Syndicated Industry News 
lrasm_300DARPA has added a third flight test of an air-launched Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) to be conducted from a B-1B in 2013. There are already two air-launched flight tests scheduled for this year as part of the Phase 2 LRASM contract awarded in 2010.

DARPA’s Future MALE Drones to Operate From Littoral Combat Ships

March 4, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 
DARPA TERN - Concept ImageDARPA wants to introduce a new class of MALE UAS that will be able to deploy from destroyer and frigate size vessels, such as the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-2),extending the Naval ISR and strike capabilities to deploy faster and farther, anywhere in the world

Rapid Fire Jan. 29, 2013: Vaporware, For Real

  • BAE will cut 300 jobs across 5 US states, two thirds of which at their Electronic Systems site in Nashua, NH, where 50 people were already laid off last year.

  • US AFRICOM is pondering establishing a base to operate UAVs out of a northwest African country such as Niger or Burkina Faso, according to the NYT.

  • DARPA is interested in cheap, disposable electronic microsystems that could be used to create large networks of sensors that would biodegrade after they have accomplished their purpose. A Proposers’ Day will take place on Feb. 14 in Arlington, VA. They call it Vanishing, Programmable Resources (VAPR) and must be commended for acknowledging they are literally working on vaporware.

  • The US Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is researching whether they could host their payloads on commercial spacecraft and will host an Industry Day for that purpose on Feb. 19-21 in El Segundo, CA.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japan has stepped up its monitoring of the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

  • The Brazilian defense market: big, growing, tantalizing, seemingly open but competitive and hard to get into [FT - reg. required].

  • The Argentinian defense market… none of the above. Argentina’s defense minister Arturo Puricelli does not rule out sabotage to explain how the ARA Trinidad destroyer sank in port [in Spanish]. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Alas, President Cristina Kirchner’s doll was touring Asia at the time so she couldn’t help.

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OneShot Helps Snipers Reach Out to Maximum Range

January 16, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 
Military snipers may only get one chance to hit their target. The One Shot program seeks to enable snipers to accurately hit targets with the first round, under crosswind conditions, day or night, at the maximum effective range of the weapon. A commercial system providing similar capabilities (tough not as advanced in down-range measurement as the DARPA system) was unveiled by TrackingPoint at the Shot Show 2013

Autonomous ASW: The Predator Becoming a Prey

January 1, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, Syndicated Industry News 
In three years the US Navy could have a prototype of an autonomous anti-submarine warfare vessel that will be able to detect, track and shadow any type of submarine, including ultra-quiet diesel-electric subs, turning these undersea beast from predators into targets.

LS3 Robot Prepares for Testing with the Marine Corps

January 1, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: DARPA, logistics, Syndicated Industry News 
DARPA’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3) four-legged robot is preparing for the planned tests that will evaluate the performance of the four-legged robot as an integral member of a marine combat squad. Toward this critical evaluation the LS3 is undergoing field evaluations at Ft. Picket, to assess the robot’s control, [...]

U.S. Air Force Contracts for more Biofuel

The United States Defense Department and the Services have invested a decent amount of funds over the last several years into alternate fuels for use in ships, aircraft and vehicles as well as provide electricity to bases. The military is one of the biggest users of petroleum in the world and is working on being prepared for the potential of lesser amounts of oil. They are also looking at ways to save on the cost of all that fuel.

They have worked on solar and wind based systems to replace generators at static sites that burn gas or recharge batteries critical to some modern equipment such as Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and small radios. The Navy and Air Force have already flown aircraft powered with biofuel as demonstrations. The Navy has invested in multiple sites and companies to explore making fuel from algae. The Defense Departments research arm, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), has also explored this source.

Now the Air Force has announced they have signed a contract with Gevo (GEVO), a company looking at using plant matter to make alcohol, for up to 11,000 gallons of jet fuel. The contract has a value of about $600,000.00. The fuel will be used as a demonstration project for testing and feasibility. Gevo is part of a larger project to see if wood and wood waste products can be a viable source for alternate fuels.

The initial cost of any project like this is large and the payoff may not be for several years. A recent study by the RAND group analyzed DoD efforts and found that in the long term they may still not be cost effective. They concluded that no matter what the source of the POL used by the military the transportation costs will still be high. They also believed that the current production processes being developed will not be cost effective.

Even so it makes sense for the military to continue this research because there is no real way of knowing just yet what the requirement is. There is also the chance that some sort of breakthrough might occur that makes the production of large amounts of biofuel cost effective. The military due to its demands should be looking at alternate fuels and changes in their use of gasoline based power to included alternate and hybrid means.

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DARPA Expand Foliage Penerating Radar Program from SRC Inc.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded New York based SRC Inc. a contract to begin development of a work station to support aircraft based foliage penetrating radar. The contract is worth about $11 million and will process and display data from another SRC product: the Foliage Penetrating, Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar (FORESTER).

The goal of the FORESTER program is to mount a radar on either an unmanned or conventional aircraft and have it detect troop and vehicle movements in heavily forested terrain. The radar will penetrate the tree cover as well as ground clutter and discriminate through moving leaves and debris.

SRC has been working on the radar for DARPA for several years. The company is also working on a similar program for the Army through a separate contract.

Like all ISR systems the data collected by the FORESTER radar must be sent for processing and analysis somewhere. The workstation will aid in that. Once the data is understood it then must be further distributed to the unit that needs it either for situational awareness or so that it may engage any detected enemy troops.

As an anecdote I worked almost twenty years ago with a retired Air Force officer who had been involved in a similar project after the Vietnam War. In this case the Air Force wanted to develop a system that could find downed aircrew in heavy jungle terrain. This continues to show that some requirements never go away they just get further refined or developed.

Photo from debabrata’s flickr photostream.

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DARPA Awards Development Contract to Lockheed for New Anti-ship Missile

A few weeks ago the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Raytheon (RTN) a contract to begin development of new, advanced air-to-air missile (AAM). Two major innovations for this system are to be a multi-mode seeker and a small footprint. Now DARPA has given Lockheed Martin (LMT) a similar contract to work on a ship based weapon for attacking enemy vessels.

This contract is worth about $150 million to initiate a rapid development program for the new missile. A great deal more money will be needed to complete development and testing and transition the design to production.

The goal is to make a weapon that has greater range then current available missiles.

The Soviet Union made the first strides in these systems back in the Fifties as a way to provide their ships with strike capabilities. The Royal and U.S. Navies relied on carrier based aircraft as their primary anti-shipping weapon as in World War II. The West did develop their own missiles with the U.S. Harpoon and French Exocet systems coming into use but these are limited in range to about 100 nautical miles.

The U.S. has been using basic variants of missiles developed in the Eighties for the air-to-air and air-to-ground mission although the addition of GPS guidance packages has significantly improved accuracy of bombs and missiles.

This program joins the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) in development and the new AAM in planning to use multi-mode seekers which can use radar, laser and optical guidance systems. The extension of this capability to missiles for all types of missions is a natural progression.

Photo from Andreia’s flickr photostream.

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Raytheon Wins Contract to Design New Air-to-Air Missile from DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Raytheon (RTN) a contract to develop a new air-to-air missile. The value is around $20 million. This new missile will be lightweight and possess a multi-mode seeker.

The U.S. Army is currently developing a new missile for use by them and the Air Force on helicopters and attack aircraft that also will have a multi-mode seeker. The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) program is currently testing two competing designs from Lockheed Martin (LMT) and a team of Raytheon and Boeing (BA). Both of the systems use seekers that use infra-red, laser and radar guidance.

The goal of these systems is to have the ability to choose the best guidance mode for the weather or counter-measure environment.

Raytheon already has manufactured the AIM-9X infra-red guided and AIM-120 AMRAAM radar guided missiles used on the current U.S. and Allied aircraft.

The new lightweight missile if it is successfully developed and produced will be carried by both manned and unmanned aircraft as the U.S. continues its investment in armed UAV’s.

Photo from wbaiv’s flickr photostream.

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Department of Defense Awards Several UAV Related Contracts

For the last month the United States’ Department of Defense has been awarding a variety of contracts to support development, testing and operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems. These have played a major role in the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as attacking enemy personnel and assets.

The U.S. Air Force also operates the long range, high endurance Global Hawk from Northrop Grumman (NOC) that provides strategic collection capability. The system is being developed as well for the U.S. Navy and Australia for their Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) mission.

The U.S. continues to invest in these systems through a variety of contracts including a recent development effort to Boeing (BA) for a solar powered, high altitude, long endurance system. The $89 million contract to the company and its partner QinetiQ is part of the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) Vulture program. The goal of this effort is to build a system that could remain airborne for up to five years providing reconnaissance and communication relay capability. In a way to fly an airplane rather then a satellite to provide some capability at a lower cost.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) won a Navy contract to support test and design efforts for future UAV systems. The school along with its partners operates a test facility that would provide harsh environments for these efforts. The contract could be worth up to $47 million if all options are exercised. The vehicle will allow the Navy to task the school to quickly react to requirements or efforts.

In another contract that supports existing systems the U.S. Air Force gave General Atomics a contract for six more MQ-9 Reaper systems. General Atomics makes the heavily used Predator and Reaper systems. The Predator was originally designed for ISR but has been armed with Hellfire missiles and provides precision strike for the Air Force and C.I.A. The Reaper is a bigger, more capable evolution of the Predator. This contract has a value of over $38 million.

These contracts indicate the U.S. commitment to unmanned programs. The different services will continue to develop and increase the capability of them as well as use their existing systems. The UAV market will see growth in the near future even as the defense budget declines and more traditional weapons see less investment. Right now there are limitations on these type of aircraft but as they are developed further these will be reduced. They do offer advantages over manned aviation assets chiefly because they do not put any crew at risk. They also may be smaller and more stealthy and have high endurance. They also have the possibility of offering more bang for the buck.

The UAV market continues to be one where small companies as well as large will focus on developing systems, sensors and the data lins necessary to control them.

Photo from Rob Shenk flickr photostream.

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