The X-47B is expected to be the first tailless UAV jet to operate off an aircraft carrier, which includes catapult launches and arrested landings; to do that it will also need to be capable of maneuvering precisely and autonomous around the flight deck. But none of that is expected to happen until sea trials in 2011.
For components of the Army's $160 billion Future Combat Systems program, two key rites of passage are field trials at a military base in the West and a field trip back East to Capitol Hill.
Next week, the Army will bring prototype 1 of the Non Line of Sight Cannon, or NLOS-C, to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., just in front of the Capitol, for its public debut. The NLOS-C is one of eight different manned vehicles in the still evolving FCS plan. All of them will share a common (if not identical) chassis.
The FCS vehicles … Read more
Two new WiiWare titles this week along with some classic ninja fighting on the Virtual Console Virtual ConsoleNinja Combat (1990, NeoGeo, 900 Wii points): Ninja Combat is a side-scrolling action game that puts you against an evil ninja clan known as the Kage Ichizoku. Fight solo or side-by-side with a friend through numerous stages until you reach Ninja Tower.
WiiWareProt?thea (Ubisoft, 1,000 Wii points): Prot?thea is a top-down scrolling shooter that blends classic game elements with those of the new Wii controls. This single-player game will have you blasting your way through 10 missions in … Read more
The Pentagon is no stranger to overpriced equipment and cost overruns, but it may never have seen a program quite like the U.S. Army's long-running and hugely ambitious Future Combat Systems initiative.
For this fiscal year alone, Congress has allocated some $3.5 billion in funding for FCS, en route to what is expected to be a total tab of $160 billion or so by the middle of the next decade. But $160 billion doesn't buy what it used to: the Government Accountability Office has been lamenting recently that the overall estimated FCS tab remains at that … Read more
At the moment, the thousands of robots roaming combat zones have been firmly under the control of human operators--they're really not that much different from the remote-controlled car or airplane you or your kids might play with. But Noel Sharkey, an expert in artificial intelligence, is warning that a push toward greater autonomy for the machines, some of which are already armed with machine guns or missiles, poses a serious and imminent risk.
Read more in this Agence France-Presse story: "Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert"
Go ahead, call it a boondoggle--you wouldn't be the first. The U.S. Army's massive, ambitious Future Combat Systems project aims to create a fully networked military force of robotic aircraft, hybrid-engine ground vehicles, ultra high-tech weapons systems, and battlefield sensors to bring soldiering into the 21st century. Faced with the Herculean effort of getting everything together for deployment in the middle of the next decade (maybe), the Army is just now starting some low-level spin-outs of some of the technologies it's been working on for years now already. Yes, it's costing a lot of money.… Read more
Maybe it's the trimaran's festive appearance that put off the scrambled-egg crowd, but one still wonders why the U.S. Navy took so long to adapt this 4,000-year-old Polynesian technology to its combat ship inventory.
In any case, they're making up for it now with the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which promises to deliver more payload per ton of displacement than any previous U.S. warship, all on a high-speed, stealthy trimaran hull made of aluminum and steel.
The LCS is the Navy's response to asymmetric threats in coastal waters. The trimaran hull enables … Read more
Take one part G.I. Joe and one part Fisher-Price Little People, mix in a few dashes of the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems paraphernalia, and you might just come up with the Mighty World line of preschool-friendly military action figures.
These very little soldiers, distributed by International Playthings, are well-provisioned with some of the very latest in 21st-century battlefield gadgets. Consider Major Mac and his stealthy reconnaissance drone (an ultramodern, top-secret stealthy reconnaissance drone, that is). "Operated from his laptop, it swoops over enemy territory and relays back vital field information," says the Mighty World … Read more