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u.s. army

Before the battlefield: Making the Army's Abrams tank

LIMA, Ohio -- If you were planning an American manufacturing plant for essential military equipment in the early 1940s, you probably wanted to keep it far from the coasts, where the facilities would be most vulnerable to attack.

That was the thinking that led U.S. military decision makers to think of this small western Ohio town as the location for a tank manufacturing plant in 1941. That, and the fact that it is close to the deep-water port of Toledo, Ohio, as well as easy rail and highway access.

Indeed, in 1941, the Army opened the Lima Tank Depot … Read more

Raytheon's new missile factory ready to fly

Raytheon, one of the world's largest military contractors, opened the doors today to its newest missile factory, a state-of-the-art facility that will produce weapons for the United States and its allies.

According to Raytheon, the Huntsville, Ala. plant, located at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal, will produce Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6 interceptors. The first SM-6s should be delivered in early 2013, while the SM-3s should be ready a quarter later.

The facility is said to be among the most advanced missile production plants in the world, utilizing laser-guided transport vehicles for moving missile components around.

Boeing trucks ahead with 8-wheeling laser weapon

The promise of laser weapons is that they will dispatch enemy missiles and other threats at the speed of light. Progress on those weapons systems, however, sure has been a heck of a lot slower.

When last we heard from Boeing about the HEL TD (High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator) program in June 2011, the defense contractor had just finished system integration of key components, including the installation of the beam control system and other hardware on the 8-wheeled, 500-horsepower Oshkosh HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck).

This week, Boeing said that it's now engaged in the next phase … Read more

Pilot of the future: U.S. Army gets wearable tech for the battlefield

U.S. Army, welcome to the future.

If you happen to be in Farnborough, London, this week, you'll be able to see a demo of an Army pilot geared in the latest in wearable military technology -- a portable computing device that fits in a pocket and a display panel that can be strapped to a soldier's wrist.

The entire Aviation Warrior (yes, that's what it is called) system -- which includes a helmet equipped with a flip-down viewing monocle and taps into the cockpit's digital display -- may seem like something that belongs in Battlestar … Read more

In the Mojave, an Army dress rehearsal for Afghan war

FORT IRWIN, Calif.--The shoulder-launched rocket-propelled grenade was aimed at several U.S. Army soldiers trying to work their way through the chaos of an Afghan insurgent attack. This was not looking like a good day for the members of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Fortunately for those soldiers, the RPG wasn't real, and they weren't even in Afghanistan -- yet. They will be soon, though. But before deploying to the combat zone, the entire 4th Brigade from Fort Lewis, Wash., spent four weeks in the June heat of the Mojave Desert at the Army's National Training CenterRead more

Brrzzzt! U.S. Army checks out laser-based lightning tech

Earlier this spring, the U.S. Army revealed the existence of a project underway to build a device that could shoot lightning bolts down laser beams to take out a target. Now the military's boffins report success in their first tests.

The technology -- known as laser-induced plasma channel -- is designed to seek out targets that conduct electricity better than the air or ground that surrounds them.

Although scientists and engineers working on the weapon's development expressed confidence in the physics behind their work, George Fischer, who is the lead scientist on the project, nonetheless cautioned about the technical challenges still ahead. … Read more

Hummingbird robo-drone gets 1.8-gigapixel camera

Starting in the spring, the Hummingbird will be on sentry duty in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army is getting ready to deploy a trio of prototype A160 Hummingbird drones as it evaluates the aircraft for a more full-fledged development program. One key characteristic that sets these unmanned air vehicles apart from others, such as the Predator, already more famously serving in the war zone is that the Hummingbirds are rotorcraft--that is, they fly like helicopters rather than planes.

The Hummingbirds will be equipped with DARPA's Argus-IS sensor system, which features a 1.8-gigapixel color camera--gear that the Army a … Read more

Army launches video-sharing site for the military

People serving in the U.S. military now have their own Web site where they can upload, share, and watch videos.

Announced yesterday, the new MilTube site has been set up as a safer, more secure alternative to YouTube, with content protected behind firewalls. As such, it's designed to serve the interests of military personnel who want to share videos but also satisfy the concerns of the Department of Defense (DOD), which has never been comfortable with access to commercial social network and sharing sites.

"Video is an extremely powerful tool for storytelling and sharing information among personnel,&… Read more

In 1960, Courier satellite had a way with words

Sputnik may be the most famous satellite to have been launched on October 4--OK, so it's the most famous satellite, period--but it's not the only one. Three years to the day after the Soviet Union launched its little beeping orb and kicked the Space Race into high gear, the U.S. on October 4, 1960, lofted up a spherical satellite called Courier that turned out to be quite a wordsmith, or at least a stenographer.

"The Courier satellite," writes Rebecca Robbins Raines in "Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps,&… Read more

Army building robotic tentacles to handle IEDs

The U.S. Army is developing snakelike robots for battlefield action that could include search and rescue missions, opening doors, and handling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a bid to keep troops out of harm's way.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's prototype Robotic Tentacle Manipulator is an array of three snake robots on a circular base. The snake bots form a hand of sorts.

While it doesn't look like much now, the Army says the device is scalable and could be deployed in various sizes and configurations, giving it maximum flexibility. It could be installed on … Read more