Now Northrop Grumman is pushing ahead with the X-47B UCAS (for unmanned combat air system), a prototype going through its fledgling stage en route to the goal of demonstrating in 2013 that an unmanned, tailless, strike fighter-size aircraft can land on and take off from an aircraft carrier.
Earlier this month, the X-47B made just the second and third flights (from dry … Read more
U.S. Pacific Air Forces is sending an unmanned Global Hawk reconnaissance drone to Japan to help authorities understand the scope of damage from last week's massive earthquake and tsunami.
Kyodo News reported that a Japanese government source said the high-altitude drone may be deployed Thursday to take a closer look at the damaged reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where workers are trying to prevent a full-scale meltdown.
Images taken by the RQ-4 Global Hawk based at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam may provide a better picture of what's happening at the plant's reactors, … Read more
The U.S. military has blocked from its computer network several Web sites popular with military personnel, as it looks to reserve bandwidth for use in earthquake recovery efforts in Japan, according to a report.
CNN said U.S. Strategic Command had confirmed that a block had been put into place Monday on the Department of Defense's .mil computer system and that the measure pinpointed 13 Web sites because of how frequently they're accessed.
The sites are: Amazon.com, Doubleclick, eBay, Eyewonder.com, ESPN.com, Googlevideo.com, Ifilm.com, Metacafe, MTV.com, MySpace, Pandora, Streamtheworld.com, and YouTube. … Read more
U.S. Navy officials in Japan announced early today that they have repositioned their 7th Fleet after 17 Navy personnel aboard three helicopters tested positive for low levels of contamination from a radioactive plume that rose above the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The phrase "fill 'er up" is being redefined for the age of robotic aircraft.
Northrop Grumman said yesterday that in a flight test earlier this year, it took a big step closer to an eventual autonomous aerial refueling between unmanned aerial vehicles as part of the $33 million DARPA KQ-X program.
In the "risk reduction flight test," which took place January 21, a Global Hawk UAV from NASA played the role of the aerial tanker, and Northrop Grumman's Proteus test aircraft--a manned UAV surrogate, we should point out--was the one in search of the refueling … Read more
A second mysterious, robotic space plane was launched into orbit by the U.S. Air Force today, after the first craft safely returned to Earth late last year following a secretive months-long mission and speculation about its potential military or intelligence uses.
The second Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, left Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 2:46 p.m. PT, atop an Atlas V rocket, Boeing said.
The decade-long war is over: EADS North America has conceded defeat to Boeing in the campaign to capture a multibillion-dollar deal to build a new aerial tanker for the U.S. Air Force.
Last week, the Pentagon announced that it had selected Boeing to build the next-generation KC-46A tanker in a long-term arrangement that could eventually be worth $30 billion. For starters, the Chicago-based aerospace titan is getting $3.5 billion to build the first four of a projected 179 of the new tankers. It has to deliver 18 by 2017.
"Boeing was a clear winner," Deputy Defense … Read more
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.--U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus can measure the cost of transporting oil to combat missions in dollars and in lives.
Mabus gave the keynote talk today at the ARPA-E Summit here, where he announced an agreement between the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to create energy storage systems geared at providing reliable power and reducing fossil fuel use.
His talk followed speeches by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and representative Steve Israel of New York, who both highlighted the importance to national security of fossil fuel alternatives.
The Navy has a program, launched in fall 2009 and called the "Great Green Fleet," to convert 50 percent of its energy to fossil fuel alternatives by 2020 and to have half of the Navy's thousands of bases become net energy zero consumers. It's a reference to the "Great White Fleet," the nickname used under President Theodore Roosevelt for a battle fleet which circled the globe almost 100 years ago.
"Every time we make changes to improve the efficiencies of our engines or systems or we use alternative sources of power, we get better and we make people safer," Mabus said.
In the agreement between the Departments of Defense and Energy, the Navy plans to take advantage of grid storage technologies developed in the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The cost of the project would be $25 million and start in fiscal year 2012.
The first project will seek to develop hybrid storage systems with higher energy density than what's available in batteries today. Mabus said the technology could lead to mobile storage units for charging military equipment at bases or be used to reduce fuel consumption in vehicles. … Read more
Don't believe in Skynet? Well, the U.S. military has reportedly commissioned the production of bipedal soldiers and quadruped robots that can outrun human beings.
Boston Dynamics, known for its BigDog canine bot, is working to develop a humanoid robot called Atlas and an animal-like running robot called Cheetah. The robo-cat is due to arrive in 20 months.
The company's efforts are part of multimillion-dollar contracts with DARPA over a four-year period, according to a Boston Herald report.
Initially, Cheetah is supposed to achieve speeds of up to 30 mph. Presumably it will be a lot stealthier than the noisy BigDog, seen in the vid below. No word yet on whether it will fold into a cassette tape like the old-school Decepticon Ravage of Transformers fame.
"There's no fundamental reason why it can't go as fast as the animals (60 to 70 mph), but it will take a while to get there," Boston Dynamics President Marc Raibert was quoted as saying in Boston Herald report. … Read more