Yesterday, the Air Force conducted a third test flight of its X-51a "Waverider" hypersonic cruise missile, hoping for 300 seconds worth of sustained scramjet-powered flight at over Mach 5. It could have gone worse, but not by much: a faulty control fin caused the vehicle to break apart and crash into the ocean just over 30 seconds after launch.
America has a mighty, might navy, with giant, powerful ships that are (or soon will be) outfitted with laser canons and hypersonic railguns, but these fearsome war machines have one major weakness: land. DARPA's new CAAT demonstrator can project some of this power onto the shore, using big air-filled flappy bits to allow vessels to travel on water or land.
The F-22 Raptor is unquestionably the most advanced combat aircraft the world has ever seen. It's also by far the most expensive. But whether it's the hands-down best is up for debate, especially after multinational Red Flag combat exercises in Alaska. In the words of one German Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, "we have had a Raptor salad for lunch."
We now know what an atomic bomb really sounds like. So what does it feel and look like? In June of 1957, five Air Force officers found out, volunteering to stand directly under an exploding two-kiloton nuclear warhead. They narrate the whole thing, live.
No, we didn't reverse the numbers or misplace a decimal point. The super secret IX-529 Sea Shadow that cost $50 million to build back in 1985 just sold for a decidedly underwhelming $2.5 million. What's worse than the colossal flip-flop on price? It was sold for scrap.
Have you checked out the military's own versions of Facebook or YouTube or Wikipedia recently? No? That's probably because they're heavily censored and restricted, which is just what you want with social and crowdsourced media, and this is why the Pentagon now wants its own version of Reddit, called Eureka. Makes sense, right? ...Right?
Engineers and students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Southern California are building drones, launching systems, and the necessary software to create a force of up to fifty unmanned aircraft capable of dogfighting. That would add a new layer to drone warfare, where drones capably engage one another.
The U.S. Air Force has a 370-foot-long surveillance airship sitting in a hangar in North Carolina right now, 95% complete. In two weeks, the blimp will be ready to fly, just in time for the USAF to scrap the entire program, dismantle the hardware, and pack it all into shipping containers for storage. Sigh.
With Call of Duty: Black Ops II the series is moving into the near future in a big way. While UAVs and autonomous rovers were featured prominently in early titles (especially in multiplayer), in Black Ops II, you'll fend off entire drone armies — and use them to your advantage, too. We caught up with the game's director, Dave Anthony, about drone technology, weaponry and the moral and ethical concerns of having machines take a human life. He told us about five fearsome drones you'll come across as you play the game: the lumbering CLAW, agile aerial interceptors that go nose-to-nose with fighter jets, familiar quadrocopters and more.
Blimps had their heyday between World War I and World War II, and since then, they've more or less been left behind by the airplane. Some things, though, blimps are just plain better at, and the Army is getting ready for the first flight of their "Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle," aka "spy blimp."