It's hard to look at military spending without wondering what's behind the scenes.. For instance, in this month's issue of Popular Science, we investigate what exactly the Pentagon is getting for the $58 billion it has dropped on classified assassination weapons.
A peek in our archives revealed that Popular Science has a long history of investigating top-secret operations. We didn't hesitate to publish an expose on "loony gas" warfare in 1960, nor did we refrain from sending one of our reporters into Groom Lake's unofficial airfield.
Not since the end of the Cold War has the Pentagon spent so much to develop and deploy secret weapons. But now military researchers have turned their attention from mass destruction to a far more precise challenge: finding, tracking, and killing individuals
By Sharon WeinbergerPosted 09.09.2010 at 12:43 pm 66 Comments
Every year, tens of billions of Pentagon dollars go missing. The money vanishes not because of fraud, waste or abuse, but because U.S. military planners have appropriated it to secretly develop advanced weapons and fund clandestine operations. Next year, this so-called black budget will be even larger than it was in the Cold War days of1987, when the leading black-budget watchdog, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), began gathering reliable estimates. The current total is staggering: $58 billion—enough to pay for two complete Manhattan Projects.
The Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) – formerly known simply as the Airborne Laser – has endured a back-and-forth existence, at different times the darling of the MDA, at other times on the verge of catching the Pentagon or Congressional axe. But after an all-around success in February, the scales have tipped back the other way for the embattled ICBM-blaster as it failed a critical test on September 1.
When most people think "trade show," what comes to mind are harsh fluorescent lights and hollow convention halls, all filled with corporate drones (of the human variety) idly wandering through booths hyping the latest in office paper technology, stopping only to hover over bowls of stale candy and cheap swag.
The annual Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) event in Denver, Co. is also a trade show, down to the expansive halls and harsh lights. But instead of the latest in corporate nothingness, its booths are filled with something far more interesting: the state-of-the-art in flying robots.
When it comes to precision sensing, secure battlefield communications, and global positioning systems, DARPA knows what time it is. However, a lack of coordinated clocks is a hindrance on the battlefield and elsewhere. That’s why DARPA has put its feelers out for technology that could lead to portable atomic clocks that are miniature, ruggedized versions of the massive devices that keep standardized time in laboratories around the world.
The recent WikiLeaks exposure was a huge black eye for the U.S. Department of Defense, supposedly one of the more secure state organizations we have working for us. Its impact clearly wasn’t lost on the Pentagon, whose blue sky research arm has launched a new project designed to ferret out malicious behavior on DoD networks. Named CINDER – Cyber INsiDER Threat – the project is designed not to sniff out people, but adversarial actions as they happen.
An advanced fly-by-wire system capable of landing grossly damaged unmanned aircraft—demonstrated on video saving a plane missing 80 percent of one wing—is key to solving one of unmanned flight’s biggest problems
Word spread last week that a rogue MQ-8B Fire Scout copter drone entered restricted airspace just 40 miles shy of Washington D.C. after losing contact with its operators. The revelation occurred smack in the middle of AVUSI 2010, the world's largest UAV tradeshow. And it served as a poignant reminder that all the game-changing technology on display here at the Denver Convention Center still has some innovating to do, especially when flight crews lose control of their unmanned craft.
But to lose control of a flying robot over a warzone is one thing; things get much more complicated in crowded domestic skies. One remarkable system, capable of bringing a plane missing most of one wing safely home, aims to make losing control a more palatable proposition.
In the first on-the-record, official recognition that a foreign intelligence agency infiltrated sensitive U.S. military CentCom networks in 2008, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III has revealed the source of the attack. And it was -- drumroll please -- a flash drive. A simple flash drive inserted into a military laptop at a location in the Middle East allowed malicious code to install and conceal itself on both classified and unclassified servers, opening them to foreign control.
Inmates bringing the ruckus at Pitchess Detention Center in California will find that deputies there can bring the pain. Working as the test-bed for a National Institute of Justice experiment, the prison is testing Raytheon's Assault Intervention Device, a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall device that focuses an invisible energy ray on misbehaving inmates, causing a serious heating sensation that should bring said bad behavior to a halt.