MQ-8C_Destroyer_FlightA helicopter drone developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. has made its first flight from a U.S. Navy destroyer, the company announced.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout on Dec. 16 completed 22 autonomous takeoffs and landings aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, according to a Dec. 23 release from the Falls Church, Virginia-based defense contractor.

“This is the first sea-based flight of the MQ-8C and the first time an unmanned helicopter has operated from a destroyer,” Capt. Jeff Dodge, who manages the program for Naval Air Systems Command, said in the release. The technology offers greater endurance, he added, allowing “ship commanders and pilots to have a longer on station presence.” [Continue reading…]

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President Obama described the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer network as an act of “cybervandalism,” not war, and an expert said the malware likely came from the black market.

“I don’t think it was an act of war,” Obama said during an interview with Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired Sunday. “I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately.”

North Korea’s Internet reportedly crashed on Monday in one of the country’s worst network outages ever. An attack was suspected but not confirmed.

The high-profile cyber-attack against Sony was linked to the government of North Korea and exposed sensitive personal e-mails, salaries and the health records of tens of thousands of employees. [Continue reading…]

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Soldiers and Marines test fire 120mm mortarsRaytheon recently test-fired a new GPS-guided 120mm mortar round at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., demonstrating a precision-firing technology designed to help Marine Corps commanders in combat.

The Marine Corps program, called Precision Extended Range Mortar, or PERM, is aimed at developing and fielding precision-guided mortar rounds able to better pinpoint targets compared to existing mortar rounds.

The rounds are configured with a GPS antenna and an inertial measurement unit, or IMU, which tells the round how it is flying, said Raytheon program manager Ty Blanchard.

In a recent test-firing, three rounds landed within 10 meters or less of the desired target, Blanchard explained.

[Continue reading…]

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Humvee-Auction-600x400It was a military bake sale of sorts. For the first time in history, the U.S. military auctioned off some of its surplus Humvees to the public.

And truck-lovers responded in kind, paying as much as $41,000 for the iconic military vehicle that entered service in the mid-1980s, spawned a commercial version called the Hummer in the 1990s and was replaced in the 2000s by bigger, more blast-resistant trucks known as MRAPs during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In all, the online auction house IronPlanet Inc. on Wednesday auctioned 25 of the vehicles on behalf of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, netting a total of $744,000. Bidding started at $10,000 and escalated quickly, indicating a high level of interest from buyers for the light-duty utility trucks, even though they can’t be driven on roads and can only be used for off-road purposes.

The lowest winning bid was $21,500 for a 1989 AM General M1038 Humvee HMMWV, while the highest bid was $41,000 for a 1994 AM General M998A1 Humvee HMMWV, according to the website. The acronym stands for High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, pronounced “Humvee.” The average successful bid was about $30,000. [Continue reading…]

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Aerostat BalloonThe first of two radar-detecting blimps is slated to rise up over Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland on Friday as part of a three-year exercise testing the integration of an Army air surveillance system with the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The 80-yard long, radar-fitted surveillance balloons, floated to an altitude of up to 10,000 feet, are intended to pinpoint beyond-the-horizon targets such as incoming enemy missiles, aircraft or drones.

A second balloon, technically aerostats because they’re tethered and do not float or maneuver independently in the sky, is expected to go up by the end of January.

One of the two is engineered with VHF radar technology capable of scanning outward to a distance of about 500 kilometers, a Raytheon official and director of the Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, JLENS, told Defense Tech in June. [Continue reading…]

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