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Jun 11, 2012

Techno :: What fossil fuel costs the U.S. military

The U.S. armed forces have made the adoption of renewable energy technologies a strategic priority. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said last April that reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuel sources is correlated with its ability to project power overseas. President Barack Obama even touted the Navy’s use of solar power during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But the Pentagon’s interest in renewables isn’t political, it’s strategic. 

U.S. Army’s gunshot detector may save lives

United States armed forces fighting in Afghanistan will soon be aided by a technology capable of providing the kind of crucial split-second information that can mean the difference between life and death.

Later this month, military officials will begin equipping about 13,000 ground soldiers with gunshot detection systems that can determine the distance and direction of incoming enemy gunfire. The Individual Gunshot Detector, developed by QinetiQ North America, consists of four wearable acoustic sensors that pick up on supersonic sound waves generated by gunfire to pinpoint the exact location of the aggressor. This information is instantly displayed on a small screen that’s attached to soldier’s body armor.

“When you get fired on, instead of trying to figure everything out, you will have technology to assist you in knowing what happened and where the shot was coming from,” said General Peter Fuller of Program Executive Officer Soldier (PEO), a development arm of the U.S. Army.
Initially, the army plans to roll out 1,500 IGDs per month over the course of a one-year period. But officials hope to also integrate the technology with other networked systems under development such as Land Warrior and Nett Warrior, both of which come with a helmet-mounted screen that features GPS digital-mapping-display technology.

“The next thing we want to do is try to integrate this capability with other capabilities; for example, we have Land Warrior deployed in Afghanistan and we’re going to have Nett Warrior coming into the force. How about, if you get shot at, not only do I know where that came from, but others know where it came from because I can network that capability,” said Fuller.
“We’re really trying to ensure that every Soldier is protected,” he added.

U.S. Army to get new hybrid blimps for Afghanistan

By the end of 2011, three U.S. Army airships could be on their way to the Middle East.

The LEMVs (Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicles) will slowly skim the skies over Afghanistan, providing military surveillance to troops on the ground. Last week the U.S. Army signed a $517 million agreement with Northrop Grumman to build the aircraft within 18 months.

Longer than a football field, the new LEMV, Condor 304, will not be your grandmother’s blimp, but a robotic spy ship giving “a persistent unblinking stare” to the Earth below for weeks at a time. Though not intended for combat, the craft will be adaptable to various missions, with apparently easy sensor changes.

Traveling at altitudes of 20,000 feet for 21 days, the LEMV could possibly provide non-stop ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability to the military for a 2,000-mile landscape. No pilot necessary.

According to the Army, in about 10 months they will inflate the new LEMV and then test it in Yuma, Arizona.

The HAV304 is one of many military airship designs created in recent years. For instance, Lockheed Martin’s P-971 prototype (which reminds me of Ghostbuster’s Stay-Puft marshmallow man) is shown below. This “suck ship” used hovercraft technology in reverse to steady it to the ground.




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