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Posts Tagged ‘war

Mini-weapons sought by Pentagon for new era of warfare

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A sleek, delta-winged robotic jet took to the skies for the first time above the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air Force Base.

Boeing Co.’s experimental drone, dubbed Phantom Ray, flew to 7,500 feet and reached speeds of 205 mph in its first flight. The 17-minute flight took place April 27, but Boeing officials did not confirm details until Tuesday.

 

The Phantom Ray, which resembles a giant boomerang, is being developed by the Chicago company for a variety of missions. Its stealthy design could enable it to slip behind enemy lines to knock out radar installations, clearing the way for fighters and bombers.

Under mounting pressure to keep its massive budget in check, the Pentagon is looking to cheaper, smaller weapons to wage war in the 21st century.

A new generation of weaponry is being readied in clandestine laboratories across the nation that puts a priority on pintsized technology that would be more precise in warfare and less likely to cause civilian casualties. Increasingly, the Pentagon is being forced to discard expensive, hulking, Cold War-era armaments that exact a heavy toll on property and human lives.

At L-3 Interstate Electronics Corp. in Anaheim, technicians work in secure rooms developing a GPS guidance system for a 13-pound “smart bomb” that would be attached to small, low-flying drone.

Engineers in Simi Valley at AeroVironment Inc. are developing a mini-cruise missile designed to fit into a soldier’s rucksack, be fired from a mortar and scour the battlefield for enemy targets.

And in suburban Portland, Ore. Voxtel Inc. is concocting an invisible mist to be sprayed on enemy fighters and make them shine brightly in night-vision goggles.

These miniature weapons have one thing in common: They will be delivered with the help of small robotic planes. Drones have grown in importance as the Pentagon has seen them play a vital role in Iraq, Afghanistan and reportedly in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Now, engineers in Southern California and elsewhere are refining drone technology to deliver a powerful wallop with increasingly smaller robotic planes — many of which resemble model aircraft buzzing around local parks.

This work is aimed primarily at one buyer —the Pentagon, which is seeking a total of $671 billion for fiscal 2012. Of that, drones represent $4.8 billion, a small but growing segment of the defense budget — and that doesn’t include spending on robotic weapons technology in the classified portion of the budget.

This comes at a time when expensive weapons programs, like Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles and Navy cruisers, are being eyed for trims.

Although some mini-weapons may resemble toys, they represent a new wave of sophisticated technology in modern warfare, which has forced the military and weapons-makers to think small. And they are just a few under development that have been disclosed.

“There are a lot of weapons in the military’s arsenal,” said Lt. Col. Brad Beach, an official who coordinates the Marines’ drone technology. “But what we don’t have is something small.”

The military is flush with multi-ton bunker-busting bombs designed to reduce fortified buildings into smoldering rubble.

But Marines on the front lines in Afghanistan say there is an urgent need for a weapon that is small and powerful enough to protect them from insurgents planting roadside bombs.

Marines already have small spy drones with high-powered cameras, but what they need is a way to destroy the enemies that their drones discover.

Looking to fill the need, the 13-pound “smart bomb” has been under development for three years. The 2-foot-long bomb is steered by a GPS-guided system made in Anaheim. The bomb is called Small Tactical Munition, or STM, and is under development by Raytheon Co.

Miniature

“Soldiers are watching bad guys plant” roadside bombs and “can’t do anything about it,” said Cody Tretschok, who leads work on the program at Raytheon. “They have to call in an air strike, which can take 30 to 60 minutes. The time lapse is too great.”

The idea is that the small bomb could be slung under the spy plane’s wing, dropped to a specific point using GPS coordinates or a laser-guidance system, and blast apart “soft” targets, such as pickup trucks and individuals, located 15,000 feet below.

Raytheon does not yet have a contract for the bomb and is building it entirely with its own money.

“We’re proactively anticipating the military’s need,” said Tretschok, who is testing the technology at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

In a similar fashion, drone-maker AeroVironment in Simi Valley didn’t wait for the government when it started to build its Switchblade mini-cruise missile to seek and destroy nearby targets.

The little missile, which looks less harmless than many Fourth of July fireworks, is fired from a mortar, unfolds its wings as it goes, and begins sending live video and GPS coordinates to the soldier who launched it.

The 2-foot-long battery-powered drone would be tipped with a tiny warhead and remotely operated from a handheld controller. It is being designed to fly above a warzone for at least five minutes for more than a mile at a time.

“This technology gives the war fighter the ability to pinpoint where and when he strikes,” said Steven Gitlin, an AeroVironment spokesman. “It’s all about precision.”

Critics say the technology may be too imprecise and hard to track, said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.

But the weapons have sophisticated internal guidance systems, which is key because much of today’s fighting takes place in crowded urban environments, such as targets located in or near population centers, he said.

“Weapons are sometimes only usable today if they’re small. The bottom line is: You’re not going to go around dropping 500-pound bombs everywhere,” O’Hanlon added. “Collateral damage is unacceptable in modern warfare.”

Knowing this, the military has embarked on using mini-drones for a “tagging, tracking and locating” initiative, which centers on secretly marking a target with invisible sprays and other identifiers so they don’t get lost in crowds.

Companies like Beaverton, Ore.-based Voxtel have benefited from the millions of dollars that the government is handing to contractors for research. The small 30-person company, which makes tagging products to prevent the counterfeiting of bank notes, lottery tickets and other items, now believes its microscopic nanocrystals — which become part of an invisible spray — may be are exactly what the military needs.

Tagging, tracking and locating “is a hot topic in government work,” said George Williams, company president. “It isn’t easy tracking somebody in a crowded urban environment like what is seen in today’s wars.”

Indeed. Earlier this year, the Air Force asked for proposals on developing a way to “tag” targets with “clouds” of unseen materials sprayed from quiet, low-flying drones.

In its request, the Air Force said “one method of distribution would be ‘crop-dusting’ from a sufficiently high altitude (to avoid detection) and letting the dust-cloud fall on a target or in front of it if it is moving.”

Other methods suggested to covertly mark the targets were to “pneumatically blow a cloud” or “burst above” them.

As the military moves into miniaturizing its weapon stockpile, contractors believe applications such as these may be crucial to the overall effort. “What we do is just one part of a complex system,” Voxtel President Williams said. “We play a small role.”

– William.Hennigan

Via L.A. Times

Russia may take action over U.S. missile shield

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Russia says it may take action if Washington and Moscow fail to agree on a joint missile shield

Russia’s deputy defense minister has said action could be taken if the United States deploys its new missile defense system near Russia’s borders.

In a news conference on Friday, deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said the Russian military was looking at ways to “protect our nation if Russia is not consulted in talks with NATO.”

“There is not only talk, some serious work is also being done,” Antonov said. “The Defense Ministry should allow for the worst possible scenario.”

His comments come just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Kazakhstan that the talks were going through a complicated phase.

“So far this matter is proceeding with difficulty, but the [U.S.] Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton] has assured us that measures are being taken on her side,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov added that he had met Clinton during an Arctic Council meeting in Greenland on Thursday and had discussed missile defense.

“We agreed that it was necessary to give a political impulse to the work of experts, so that before our two presidents meet in Deauville for the G8 summit it will be possible to set out some results,” Lavrov said.

The United States and Romania announced last week a deal to deploy missile interceptors in Romania as part of its plan to erect a missile shield over Europe.

The move immediately drew criticism from Russia, which fears the scheme may compromise its security by weakening its nuclear missile arsenal.

But U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher said Moscow need not worry.

“We have good relations with Russia. We have just ratified the New START treaty, we are working together on various other issues,” she was quoted as saying in media reports last week.

“It is a system that will defend NATO and, if Russia chooses to work with us in a cooperative manner, the system will defend Russia, too.”

Russia agreed to cooperate on NATO’s European missile defense program at a NATO summit in Lisbon last year.


Russia ‘disappointed’ by U.S. failure to provide missile guarantees

Moscow is concerned by the United States’ refusal to provide legally binding guarantees that its European missile defense system will not be directed against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.

“The Americans are insisting on the importance of launching practical cooperation without any preconditions,” he said, adding that Russia “cannot start cooperation on specific projects without legal guarantees that a future system will not be directed against our security interests.”

Moscow reserves the right to pull out of the new START Treaty, he warned.

“The new START Treaty may become hostage to the U.S. approach,” the official said.

“The qualitative and quantitative buildup of the U.S. missile defense system, which will jeopardize Russia’s strategic nuclear capability, can be regarded as an exceptional event under Article 14 of the said Treaty whereby Russia has the right to withdraw from this agreement,” Ryabkov said.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system.

Russia is opposed to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.

Via Rian & Russia

Young soldier hangs himself after seeing five comrades killed in Afghanistan

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A traumatised young soldier who saw five of his comrades die in action killed himself after becoming unable to cope with the loss, his friends have claimed.

The body of Rifleman Allan Arnold was discovered by dog walkers on May 2 just hours after he had been out socialising with civilian friends while on leave.

The 20-year-old, from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, was found hanged in a copse.

Traumatised: Rifleman Allan Arnold, 20, could not cope with the deaths of his fellow troops, it has been claimed

Traumatised: Rifleman Allan Arnold, 20, could not cope with the deaths of his fellow troops, it has been claimed.

Deadly: Seven members from the same regiment were killed in a seven-month period in Afghanistan

Deadly: Seven members from the same regiment were killed in a seven-month period in Afghanistan.

Close friend Andy Higgins, who had known Rifleman Arnold for six years, said he was unable to cope with losing so many close members of his regiment in Afghanistan.

In July 2009 Corporal Jonathan Horne and Riflemen William Aldridge, James Backhouse, Joseph Murphy and Daniel Simpson – of 2 Rifles – were all killed in a roadside IED blast in the Sangin region.

The regiment had still been reeling from the death of Rfn Adrian Sheldon, who died in action in May 2009. And a seventh member of the regiment – Rfn Phillip Allen from 2 Rifles – was also killed in Afghanistan later that year in November.

Mr Higgins said: ‘I think about five of his troop were killed in Afghanistan and he couldn’t cope. I hope his family have lots of support – I can’t imagine what they’re going through.  ‘It’s so tragic and just a massive shock.

Tragic: Corporal Jonathan Horne was among those killed by an IED in Sangin region

Rfn Arnold, from Cirencester, Gloucesterhsire, had been due to rejoin his battalion, based in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland, for another tour of Afghanistan.

Now close friends and family of the popular soldier have flooded the spot where he died, in the City Bank Road area of Cirencester, with flowers and loving letters.

Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

Killed: When Rifleman James Backhouse died in July 2009, the regiment was reeling from the death of another comrade two months earlierKilled: When Rifleman Joseph Murphy died in July 2009, the regiment was reeling from the death of another comrade two months earlier

Killed: When Riflemen James Backhouse (left) and Joseph Murphy (right) died, the regiment was already reeling from the death of another comrade two months earlier

Rfn Arnold’s heartbroken fiancée Shenice Knight wrote: ‘I’ve done nothing but think about you every day, looking back at the times we shared.

‘You were my first love and I hoped it would be the last. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.’

Another card read: ‘I will miss you bud, your smile, your laugh. Loved you like my own.’

Friend Billy Webb, 24, added: ‘Whenever I saw him he was always such a nice guy.

‘It’s so tragic after what he went through in Afghanistan and he was so young.’

Dead: Rifleman Daniel Simpson was also killed in the roadside explosion

More than 500 people also left tributes and pictures of Rfn Arnold  on Facebook – calling him an ‘amazing soldier’ and ‘amazing son’.

His sister Shelby Arnold wrote: ‘The tears I shed are sad, but the smiles you put on my face I will never forget. You’re always with me in my heart.

‘The life you lived as my brother who I looked up to, a role model who also dedicated their life protecting our country, you were an amazing brother, an amazing son to our mother and an amazing soldier.’

Close friend Louise Townsend added: ‘I wish you would have spoken to someone ’cause there is so many people that care for you. You were an amazing best friend and I won’t ever stop thinking about you.’

Daniel Kelly added: ‘Love you brother just wish you had talked. RIP buddy will see you again one day love and God bless your family at this sad sad time.’

Rfn Arnold’s funeral was held on May 12.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said an officer would provide the young soldier’s family with support and advice.

He would not comment further until after an inquest but added: ‘Our thoughts are with them at this sad and difficult time.’

Cheltenham Coroner’s Court confirmed an inquest into the death was opened and adjourned on May 10.

Via DailyMail

Written by Nokgiir

May 17, 2011 at 12:00 am

The Fallacy of WMD’s & Iraq

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Exposed: Secret evidence has been disclosed proving Alastair Campbell lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

Unprincipled bully Alastair Campbell was forced to resign in disgrace after ‘sexing up’ the dossier that took us to war with Iraq.

The New Labour zealot was too toxic to remain even in Tony Blair’s morally feckless government.

Ever since, Campbell has appeared before numerous public inquiries where he has maintained his innocence, insisting there was a solid case for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein.

Now, however, the mendacious former red-top tabloid political editor has been exposed. Devastating secret evidence has been declassified which proves that Campbell and Blair lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. There was none.

A former chief spy, Major-General Michael Laurie, said: ‘We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMDs.’ When asked if the dossier gave a false picture of the intelligence, he replied: ‘Yes, yes, yes.’

This proves, too, that weapons expert Dr David Kelly was right. This honourable man, who blew the whistle on Blair and Campbell’s lies, ended up being driven to his death by these two men.

As a consequence of that dodgy dossier, 179 British soldiers have died in Iraq, hundreds maimed and up to 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed. What’s more, the conclusion earlier this month of the inquests into the deaths of those killed in London by the July 7 bombers was a reminder of how the invasion of Iraq led to the dangerous radicalisation of Islamic extremists in Britain.

Meanwhile, Blair has gone on to amass an estimated £20 million fortune, mainly down to his lucrative work in America — where he is loved, thanks to his poodle-like support of the White House over Iraq.

As for Campbell, he picked up £1 million for peddling more lies in his memoirs and continues to parade himself as a respected commentator on political affairs — constantly available to mouth his opinions on the BBC.

Via DailyMail.