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The rocket launched this week by Amazon​.com founder Jeff Bezos’ private space company may help break the U.S. military’s reliance on Russian engines.

Bezos’ company, Blue Origin LLC, on Wednesday successfully lifted off its New Shepard spacecraft from a range in West Texas. The unmanned vehicle, powered by a liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen engine called BE-3, hit Mach 3 and climbed 307,000 feet into space before beginning a controlled descent back to Earth.

The firm has teamed with United Launch Alliance LLC, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., to develop an updated version of the engine that could eventually serve as a replacement to a Russian design used on U.S. military rockets. [Continue reading…]

B-52 successfully tests alternative jet engine fuelA Florida lawmaker’s bid to push the Air Force to develop new electronic weapons failed on Tuesday when the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said the effort was technically flawed.

Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Florida, said the Air Force “has been dragging its feet” on preparing the weapon for deployment and instead redirecting $10 million the service received in 2015.

“The Air Force has really been skating around this congressional intent a lot lately, and almost everyone has experienced frustration [with their] tactics,” Nugent said, citing the service’s determination to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt over the will of Congress. [Continue reading…]

Tomahawk missileThe House Armed Services Committee added money to the 2016 defense bill to keep the Tomahawk Block IV missile production line open even after the Navy had chosen to close it.

Committee leaders included funding to order 198 additional Tomahawk Block IV missiles despite plans by the Navy to pursue a next-generation land attack weapon – a move which could wind up leading the service to develop an upgraded, next-generation Tomahawk.

Last year, the House made the same move increasing the order for Tomahawk missiles from 100 to 196 missiles.  The fiscal year 2015 budget proposal had called for 100 Tomahawk missiles to be produced in 2015 before stopping production in 2016 until re-certification in 2019.

Tomahawk missiles weigh 3,500 pounds with a booster and can travel at subsonic speeds up to 550 miles per hour at ranges greater than 900 nautical miles. The missiles built by Raytheon are just over 18-feet long and have an 8-foot, 9-inch wingspan. [Continue reading…]

ESPIRITU SANTO, Vanuatu (May 2, 2011) - Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Cassandra Townsend shows ni-Vanuatu students a music video on her cell phone at Matevulu College during the Vanuatu phase of Pacific Partnership 2011.  Pacific Partnership is a five-month humanitarian assistance initiative that will make port visits to Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tony Tolley)

The Navy has green lighted a plan that allows sailors to stop carrying their work and personal phones.

Navy leaders authorized mobile software for Defense Department-issued phones that will separate a user’s official calls, messages and images from their personal ones.

Newly issued devices, starting with Apple’s iPhone 5S and 6 models running IOS 8, will utilize systems developed by Good Technology that segregate official business uses of the phone and securing it with enhanced encryption and passwords, according to the Navy’s April 21 announcement. [Continue reading…]

Northrop Grumman's X-47BThe Navy issued video Thursday afternoon showing the first ever refuel of the X-47B, a carrier drone prototype.

Built by Northrop Grumman, the X-47B has taken part in a host of tests as the Navy sees what’s possible for a future carrier drone fleet. (Video after the jump) [Continue reading…]