Nowadays, nearly one in three American military aircraft is a drone, according to a congressional report, a 40-fold increase in the drone army from just a few years ago. From tiny man-portable flying wings to behemoth strike planes, unmanned aircraft now make up 31 percent of the military’s air power.
After a year of tests, a hyperspectral spy satellite is being called into service this weekend as a military reconnaissance tool, the Air Force says.
The Tactical Satellite-3, or TacSat-3, uses hyperspectral imaging to identify objects of interest in the ground and supply coordinates for them. Within 10 minutes of passing overhead, laptop-sized ground terminals can mark points of interest for combat troops, as the Register reports.
Stealthy military planes like these are still years away — the military probably won't need new fighter jets until 2025 or so. But if Defense Secretary Robert Gates's words in a speech given over the weekend are any indication, big spending on futuristic fighters might be even farther away than that.
In a speech given on the 65th anniversary of V-E Day, Gates echoed former President Dwight Eisenhower's caution against a military-industrial complex. He said the military is wasting money it can no longer afford to spend, and that it's going to stop.
Since the airship glory days of the early part of the century, blimps have certainly lost some of their cachet, relegated to hovering over sporting events and not much else. However, the Army is about to test launch an unmanned hybrid airship to be used for surveillance missions in Afghanistan.
Plastic toy soldiers might look pretty passe to kids who now dream of piloting Predator and Global Hawk drones for hours and hours on end – all while sitting hundreds of miles away. But a free online game can satisfy that itch to control something real, as opposed to mere pixels on a screen, with just a keyboard and joystick.