Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon
By C.J. ChiversPosted 04.23.2012 at 9:50 am 22 Comments
Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia's young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia's buildup to war.
A new, compact gasification contraption can dramatically compress the things our armed forces leave behind, turning trash into ash. Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii, are testing the new unit to verify whether it could be used at forward operating bases to cut down on landfill. The Micro Auto Gasification System, or MAGS, can bake 100 pounds of garbage and compress it into 5 pounds of ash, while creating more energy than it consumes.
Of all places, the U.S. military has proven one of the fiercest proponents of renewable energy, and for totally practical reasons -- most importantly cost and safety. Now, military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. One company of Marines, saddled with tons of solar power tech, is kickstarting this revolution.
Video gamers and warfighters alike will appreciate this stunning first-person-shooter view of a Dutch marine boarding team taking back a German merchant ship from Somali pirates. It's not hard to imagine many more soldiers of the future equipped with cameras so that commanders can have multiple on-the-ground views of rapid response operations carried out in real-time.
Attention recruits. Those of you landing in Afghanistan in coming months may not have to engage in the sandbag stacking and trench digging usually associated with lowly grunt-dom. An $800,000 investment in an armored wall system known as McCurdy’s Armor could have Marines rapidly erecting 6.5-foot-tall mortar-, RPG- and bullet proof fortresses in less than an hour, saving the days it can take to fortify an area by conventional means and making forward-operating units more nimble.
As if aerial robots and bionic limbs didn't make the Army seem futuristic enough, it looks like another hallmark of sci-fi, X-ray vision, will ship off to Afghanistan later this year. The device in question is the TiaLinx Eagle Scanner, which uses radio waves to see through the ground, walls, and other kinds of cover.