The Military

F-35 Ejection Seat Fears Ground Lightweight Pilots 178

An anonymous reader writes: Writing for Defense News, Lara Seligman and Aaron Mehta report that "[c]oncerns about increased risk of injury to F-35 pilots during low-speed ejections have prompted the US military services to temporarily restrict pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds from flying the aircraft. During August tests of the ejection seat, built by Martin-Baker, testers discovered an increased risk of neck injury when a lightweight pilot is flying at slower speeds. Until the problem is fixed, the services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, F-35 integration office director, told Defense News in a Tuesday interview."
United States

US Bombs Hit Doctors Without Borders Hospital 388

Prune writes: According to multiple news sources, U.S. airstrikes partially destroyed a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan, killing at least nine staff members and at least 50 overall, including patients, and this after giving its coordinates to U.S. forces multiple times. I'm especially saddened to report this given I had become one of the supporters of this charity after recommendations from Slashdot members in a discussion about choosing charities to donate to a while back.

The Global Struggle To Prevent Cyberwar 57

blottsie writes: What constitutes war in the 21st century? In an age of almost constant cyberattacks against major corporations and world governments, the consensus among international-law experts is clear: Nobody knows. This sweeping Daily Dot investigation explores the ongoing struggle to define "cyberwar," the increasing geopolitical aggression in cyberspace, and the major players now attempting to write the rules of online battlefields before it's too late.

"Technical experts and legal scholars repeatedly stress that the idea of a 'cyber Pearl Harbor'—a devastating sneak attack on U.S. infrastructure by a powerful state actor that launched a sustained international conflict—is wildly overblown. Right now, Watts said, 'states bite at one another’s ankles in a way to impede progress or to harass them,' but 'as for the likelihood of a major cyber war, I would rate it pretty low.'

Cyber armageddon may be extremely unlikely, but the many attacks below the level of formal armed conflict have still extracted a staggering price, in both economic and political terms. ... For starters, cyber-arms control is effectively hopeless. There’s no point, experts say, in trying to contain the spread of offensive cyber technology. Instead, the best hope for international law is to focus on reducing the incentives for malicious behavior."
United States

Raytheon Wins US Civilian Cyber Contract Worth $1 Billion 62

Tokolosh writes: Raytheon is a company well-known in military-industrial and political circles, but not so much for software, networking and cybersecurity. That has not stopped the DHS awarding it a $1 billion, five year contract to help more than 100 civilian agencies manage their computer security. Raytheon said DHS selected it to be the prime contractor and systems integrator for the agency's Network Security Deployment (NSD) division, and its National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS). The contract runs for five years, but some orders could be extended for up to an additional 24 months, it said. Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, said the company had invested over $3.5 billion in recent years to expand its cybersecurity capabilities. He said cybersecurity incidents had increased an average of 66 percent a year worldwide between 2009 and 2014. As you might expect, Raytheon spends heavily on political contributions and lobbying.
The Military

Don't Worry, That Blimp Isn't Watching You Much 43

According to the Baltimore Sun, and despite claims by its maker Raytheon that the system is "performing well right now," the expensive tethered-blimp observatory called JLENS (for "Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System") seems to be mostly a boondoggle. The report focuses on the JLENS installation that was launched in Maryland last year. The Sun makes much of the flight taken by disaffected postal worker Douglas Hughes last April to the White House lawn, directly in the JLENS observation area -- the success of which (to be charitable) casts doubt on the effectiveness of the flying observatory system. Beyond its evidently low utility in doing its job, JLENS seems to be a brittle system, amplying its potential costs as well as its military vulnerability with grand, expensive failures as well as everyday difficulties: in 2010, "a civilian balloon broke loose from its mooring, destroying a grounded JLENS blimp that had cost about $182 million." The article lays out some political shenanigans, too: politicians in a wide range of states have supported the project, which has a nationwide footprint of contractors and possible deployment locations. From the article: Within the Pentagon, Marine Corps Gen. James E. "Hoss" Cartwright, then vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to JLENS' defense, arguing that it held promise for enhancing the nation's air defenses. At Cartwright's urging, money was found in 2011 for a trial run of the technology in the skies above Washington. Cartwright retired the same year — and joined Raytheon's board of directors five months later. By the end of 2014, Raytheon had paid him more than $828,000 in cash and stock for serving as a director, Securities and Exchange Commission records show.
The Military

Tank Hack Ensured Farmland Didn't Thwart the Invasion of Europe 143

szczys writes: Ingenuity reigns supreme when trying to overcome obstacles standing in your way. So was the case during the Allied invasion of Europe during WWII. Land features in the Normandy bocage region were especially difficult for tanks to navigate. The obstacles were earthen dikes topped with mature trees originally put in place to contain livestock. The solution was to reuse materials from the Axis' own anti-tank measures to build a tank attachment to cut through the obstacles. The Allies were able to take the Axis by surprise as it was assumed the armored divisions wouldn't be able to break through this area.

The Effort To Create an 'Iron Man' Type Exoskeleton 52

Nerval's Lobster writes: Tony Stark, as played by Robert Downey, Jr., is the epitome of suave wit—but without his metal shell, he's just another engineer who's made good. The exoskeleton is a technology platform that, while young, is gaining traction in industrial, medical and military circles. For several years, the U.S. Special Operations Command has been working on a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or "TALOS," that would provide "provide [infantry with] comprehensive ballistic protection and peerless tactical capability," in the words of Gen. Joseph Votel, SOCOM's commander. Meanwhile, several companies—including Raytheon, Ekso Bionics and US Bionics—are working on products that could help the disabled become more mobile, or allow warehouse and other workers to handle physical tasks with greater efficiency and safety. That means people who specialize in robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas have an increasing opportunity to get involved. According to Homayoon Kazerooni, president of Berkeley-based US Bionics and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, control and software engineers are the leads in developing these next-generation products. Although he can't estimate the ultimate size of the market for these intelligent exoskeletons, Kazerooni describes the industry as "fast-growing, but infant," with "very diverse uses" for the suits. Just don't expect the aforementioned suits to allow you to fly or blow anything up anytime soon.

British Movie Theater Staff To Wear Night-Vision Goggles To Combat Movie Piracy 278

Ewan Palmer writes: Movie theater across the UK will be required to don military-style night vision goggles in order to help crack down on movie piracy ahead of the release of potential box office smashes such as Spectre and Hunger Games. The initiative is part new measures to combat piracy as in recent years, pirates have found new and inventive ways to illegally record movies while using a smartphone to film through a popcorn box. Kieron Sharp, director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: "The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher-risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that. James Bond is a big risk and we will be working with cinema operators and the distributors making sure we will keep that as tight as possible. We really don't want to see that recorded. They [cinema staff] are on alert to really drill down on who is in the auditorium and who might possibly be recording. They still do the sweeps around the auditoriums with the night vision glasses regardless of the film. But sometimes extra security is put in place for things like Bond."

Russia's Plan To Crack Tor Crumbles 122

mspohr writes: It looks like Russia's effort to crack Tor was harder than they anticipated. The company that won the contract is now trying to get out of it. Bloomberg reports: "The Kremlin was willing to pay 3.9 million rubles ($59,000) to anyone able to crack Tor, a popular tool for communicating anonymously over the Internet. Now the company that won the government contract expects to spend more than twice that amount to abandon the project. The Central Research Institute of Economics, Informatics, and Control Systems—a Moscow arm of Rostec, a state-run maker of helicopters, weapons, and other military and industrial equipment—agreed to pay 10 million rubles ($150,000) to hire a law firm tasked with negotiating a way out of the deal, according to a database of state-purchase disclosures. Lawyers from Pleshakov, Ushkalov and Partners will work with Russian officials on putting an end to the Tor research project, along with several classified contracts, the government documents say."

Sci-Fi Author Joe Haldeman On the Future of War 241

merbs writes: Joe Haldeman wrote what is hailed by many as the best military science fiction novel ever written, 1974's The Forever War. In this interview, Haldeman discusses what's changed since he wrote his book, what hasn't, and what the future of war will really look like. Vice reports: "...The Vietnam War may have ended decades ago, but our military adventuring hasn’t. Our moment can somehow feel simultaneously like a crossroads for the technological future of combat and another arbitrary point on its dully predictable, incessantly conflict-laden trajectory. We’re relying more on drones and proxy soldiers to fight our far-off wars, in theaters far from the conscionable grasp of homelands, we’re automating robotics for the battlefield, and we’re moving our tactics online—so it seems like an opportune time to check in with science fiction’s most prescient author of military fiction."
The Military

General Atomics To Build Drone Pilot Training Academy In North Dakota 29

An anonymous reader writes: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems plans to build a drone pilot training academy in the Grand Sky Unmanned Aerial Systems park just outside of Grand Forks Air Force Base. From UAS Magazine: "Hoeven made the official announcement about the San Diego-based General Atomics training academy at the Ninth Annual UAS Summit and Expo in Grand Forks, N.D., on Monday. General Atomics signed a 10-year-lease, Hoeven said, and plans to train 60 international flight crews annually. The flight crews will be from countries across the globe including the Netherlands, France and Italy, who come to the academy to fly Predator and Reaper drones, Hoeven said."
The Military

The WWII-Era Inspired Plane Giving the F-35 a Run For Its Money 320

schwit1 writes: The US military almost adopted the A-29 Super Tucano, a $4 million turboprop airplane reminiscent of WWII-era designs that troops wanted, commanders said was "urgently needed," but Congress refused to buy. "It's a great plane," says recently retired Air Force Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, an F-16 pilot who has flown A-29s. "Pilots love it. It handles beautifully, sips gas, and can go anywhere. If you want to get into the fight and mix it up with the guys on the ground, the Super T is a great platform." The Super Tucano provided the "low-end" air-to-ground attack capability the United States simply never had in Afghanistan-a capability the Pentagon's F-35 could never hope to replicate.
The Military

Forget Hashtag Activism: a Millennial's Guide To Nuclear Weapons Realism 258

Lasrick writes: Matthew Costlow is frustrated with his generation's tendency of "hashtag activism" and would like Millennials instead to get real on the issue of nuclear weapons. He writes: "Allow me to suggest a radical new mindset for my generation as it confronts the issues of nuclear disarmament, Russian and Chinese aggression, and nuclear proliferation: extreme humility. Instead of 'boldly' proclaiming the need to raise awareness, let's utilize our generation's greatest asset—access to data—and truly understand the issues before trying to solve anything. Instead of proposing 'fresh ideas' for their own sake, let's recognize that we are not the first generation to deal with these issues and probably will not be the last. Instead of studiously avoiding specifics or hard choices, let's face a messy reality and not simplify an increasingly complex world to bumper-sticker activism."
The Military

Researchers Fly 50 Autonomous Planes Simultaneously 39

New submitter MagicRuB writes: Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA recently flew fifty small autonomous planes together in what they claim is a "record-breaking drone swarm". These aircraft were built from lightweight foam wings with hobby-grade components, and were equipped with an autopilot running firmware based on the open-source Ardupilot project as well as a companion computer running custom autonomy software built on top of ROS and an 802.11n wireless device to communicate with other planes and ground stations. The researchers are using this swarm as a platform for advancing drone technology, and hope to see results implemented in agriculture, search and rescue, and defense applications.
The Military

Finnish Diver Finds German WWII Submarine Near Estonia 53

jones_supa writes: A wreck of a German submarine, presumed lost more than 70 years ago, has been discovered near the Estonian coast. The submarine, which dates back to the Second World War, was found by Finnish diver Immi Wallin in July. The U-679 was apparently the last lost German u-boat in the Gulf of Finland. It was presumed destroyed by depth charges in January, 1945. However, the wreck was found in its own patrol zone, sunk by an underwater mine. After the wreck was discovered, the first dive down to its 90-metre grave was undertaken by a six-person group on September 10. The mission was to investigate the condition of the submarine and photograph it. Wallin says that she believes the submarine had remained lost due to the great depth at which it was destroyed.
The Military

Chemical Evidence Shows the Nazis Weren't At All Close To Having the Bomb 295

TheAlexKnapp writes: The Nazis winning World War II by getting the bomb first is a staple of alt-history and it's the reason why James T. Kirk lost the love of his life, Edith Keeler. Einstein also noted possible German efforts to build one in his letter to FDR urging the U.S. develop an atomic weapon. But it turns out there really wasn't a race to build a bomb at all. Materials from Germany's atomic weapons program have been studied by an international team of researchers, who determined that Germany never achieved a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction — something that Fermi and his colleagues had accomplished in 1942 — which was a key step to actually building an atomic weapon. This chemical evidence supports other historical accounts that the German atomic program never achieved this result.
The Military

US Navy Limits Use of Whale-Harming Sonar 35

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Navy has agreed to new limits on its use of sonar and explosives in certain areas of the Pacific. Sonar is known to be capable of disrupting communication between whales and other sea life. There have also been incidents in the past where explosives have killed dolphins that got too close to a training exercise. A Navy spokesperson said, "Recognizing our environmental responsibilities, the Navy has been, and will continue to be, good environmental stewards as we prepare for and conduct missions in support of our national security." The new agreement (PDF) also requires quick reviews of the Navy's activities if there are marine-life deaths in the future.

Drone Hobbyists Find Flaws In 'Close Call' Reports 124

An anonymous reader writes: The people and agencies pushing for strict drone regulation have no trouble coming up with a list of dangerous drone-related incidents. This includes not only the recent drone crashes that have been picked up by the media, but also reports of "close calls," where drones have allegedly approached full-size aircraft. But a new study by drone hobbyists finds that most of these "close calls" were anything but. Of 764 such incidents reported to the FAA, only 27 were actually described as "near misses" by the pilots involved. None of the incidents involved mid-air collisions, and some have involved military drones rather than hobbyist ones. The people who did the study suggest that we should find a better way of classifying these drone-related situations so legislators have accurate information from which to design regulations.

Italian Military To Switch To LibreOffice and ODF 106

jrepin writes: The Italian military is transitioning to LibreOffice and the Open Document Format (ODF). The Ministry of Defense will over the next year-and-a-half install this suite of office productivity tools on some 150,000 PC workstations — making it Europe's second largest LibreOffice implementation.