Friday, January 18, 2008

Noble Resolve '08, Robotic Armies, Space War +

"Noble Resolve 2008" *thanks to Michael Vail

Joint forces to sharpen disaster response
The U.S. Joint Forces Command and Northern Command are planning a series of computer-based disaster drills with four states this year as part of their Noble Resolve 2008 preparedness exercises.
The drills are intended to enhance military support during and after natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks. The participating states are Indiana, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.
Although the Joint Forces Command is based in Suffolk, Va., and Northcom is at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., the exercises will bring together participants using computer models and common scenarios, Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of the joint concept development and experimentation directorate for the joint forces, said in a news release.

Although the Joint Forces Command is based in Suffolk, Va., and Northcom is at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., the exercises will bring together participants using computer models and common scenarios, Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of the joint concept development and experimentation directorate for the joint forces, said in a news release.
The scenarios will focus on maritime domain awareness, tracking of weapons of mass destruction, information sharing and tracking of populations.
Participants will make decisions and work together online just as they would in case of a real crisis. By using the models, no troops or emergency personnel will have to actually deploy or respond to events, saving money and time, the news release stated.
"We can let them actually see the scenario and provide their responses and execute their procedures in their own locations, fusion centers and operating centers," Davenport said.
Other participants in the exercises include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Department, U.S. Pacific Command, National Guard Bureau and National Guard organizations from several states. Several smaller Noble Resolve events will be held throughout the year, as well as a major exercise in July.
Disaster drills typically involve government employees, contractors, public officials and volunteers. Government contractors sometimes are called on to provide additional support during major preparedness exercises.

US Army proto-Dalek combat robots enter testing

Monster Pentagon contractors Boeing and SAIC jointly announced today that two of their latest offerings for the future robot armies of America have entered military testing early. The machines in question are a relatively dull lightweight groundcrawler job and a frankly splendid ducted-fan flying Dalek.
The two mechanoid warriors are known as the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) and the Class I (Block 0) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, aka Micro Air Vehicle or MAV. According to a joint Boeing/SAIC release, 25 SUGVs and 11 MAVs will be shipped to US Army test facilities starting this month.

"The decision to accelerate, driven in part by feedback from soldiers in theatre... confirms that we are on the right track to deliver a crucial capability that is needed and desired by our soldiers currently serving in combat operations," said Boeing wardroid veep Dennis Muilenburg.


Disharmony in the spheres


Modern American warfare relies on satellites. They make America powerful but also vulnerable, particularly in light of China's new celestial assertiveness


A HUSHED, dimmed hall in the nerve centre that controls America's air operations from Somalia to Afghanistan is dominated by giant video screens tracking coalition aircraft. Blue dots show the location of ground forces, with “troops in contact” highlighted for priority air support. Smaller screens show live black-and-white footage, relayed by satellite from unmanned drones which, in their turn, are remotely controlled by pilots in America.
The Combined Air Operations Centre's exact location in “southwest Asia” cannot be disclosed. But from here commanders supervise tens of thousands of sorties a year. Through aircraft surveillance pods they get a god's eye view of operations that range from old-fashioned strafing to the targeted killing of insurgent leaders with bombs guided by global positioning system (GPS) satellites, and emergency air drops to isolated soldiers using parachutes that steer themselves automatically to the chosen spot. (cont...)
Staging the Largest Terrorism-Response Drill in US History (TOPOFF Summary)

Lasers Zap With 'Nonlethal' Pulses

Zapping lenses and sensors is just the beginning. The same technology behind the Laser Crazer weapon I describe in Wired News may ultimately be used to produce ray guns designed for "personnel incapacitation."

The are a whole family of lasers that create intense pulses of laser energy, that, in turn, produces a plasma flash-bang at the target's surface. The Laser Crazer is just the latest example.The big bear of this technology is the Pulsed Energy Projectile, a chemical laser weighing several hundred pounds that's being developed as a nonlethal antipersonnel weapon. It fires pulses slowly -- at a rate of less than ten per second.The middle bear is the Plasma Acoustic Shield System, a solid state laser producing hundreds of pulses a second as a screening device and to stun and disorientate. The latest device is the little bear of the three, based on a femtosecond laser firing ten thousand plus pulses a second, creating a series of minute explosions at the target surface. That's enough to scratch glass and damage lenses, but little else. The photo at left shows the laser hitting a glass target.But there's more to it than that. When the PEP's predecessor was being developed – the Pulsed Impulsive Kill Laser or PIKL – the emphasis was on the shockwave it produced. Then it was discovered that against living targets, there was a more dramatic effect of pain and paralysis. This turned out to be due to the electromagnetic pulse caused by the expanding plasma, and the PEP took a new direction.
In 2005, documents released under the FoIA showed that PEP was being tuned to maximise the pain effect of the plasma blasts . The term to watch out for is "nociceptor activation." Nociceptors are the pain-sensing nerve cells, and activation is setting them off. The problem is that these laser-generated plasmas are not yet well understood.
A session at the Directed Energy & Non-Lethal Weapons conference in December was supposed to have included a session on the PEP. The topic: "identify & specify bio-effects parameters that would cause personnel incapacitation and to determine if a laser system can produce that incapacitation effect." But apparently this was canceled, alas.
So, naturally, I was interested in a paper on "detection and analysis of RF emission generated by laser-matter interactions" -- especially because the contributors included researchers into femtosecond laser and those who had done the "maximum pain" work. Basically, they fired ultrashort, one-joule pulses at copper and dielectric targets and measured the EMP produced. In the results the authors record fields of 400 volts/meter, noting that somewhat higher fields (10,000 volts/meter) are needed for nociceptor activation.
The femtosecond laser they used is not quite capable of causing agony at the receiving end. But that seems to be the intention (the fact that the study was sponsored by the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate may be a clue, too). DARPA-back researchers are already working on a shoebox-sized femtosecond laser, and it's likely they will succeed in the near future. Of course, humans aren’t the only ones vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse. The same technology could be used to develop anti-missile, anti-aircraft, anti-satellite and other weapons which would use a relatively weak laser to zap the target with EMP from a plasma burst on its surface. The US Army is developing an ultra-short pulse laser which aims to destroy IEDs and other targets.
The technology is advancing fast; how long it remains in the open is anyone's guess
World Bank Washington Buildings Closed Today After Bomb Threat

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