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LRASM_SL_Rail_Shot_3The Navy is working on a deal with Lockheed Martin to integrate its new, semi-autonomously guided Long Range Anti-Ship Missile onto an F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, giving the fighter an increased ability to identify and strike targets at longer ranges from the air, service and Lockheed officials explained.

In development since with the Navy and the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the so-called LRASM weapon is being developed as a long-range air, surface and submarine-launched missile able to track and destroy targets semi-autonomously. [Continue reading…]

Over the PacificThe Air Force is making upgrades to the communications and weapons systems carried by the B-2 bomber by accelerating development of an air-launched, guided nuclear cruise missile and preparing to produce modifications to the existing B-61 nuclear bomb, service officials said.

The B-2 upgrades will outfit the attack aircraft with next generation digital nuclear weapons called the B-61 Mod 12 with a tail kit — and speed up development of a nuclear cruise missile called the Long Range Stand-Off weapon or, LRSO, Eric Single, chief of the Global Strike division for Air Force acquisition, said in an interview with Military​.com.

The LRSO will replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM, which right now is only carried by the B-52 bomber, Single said.

“The 2016 president’s budget accelerates this program. We plan on a milestone in the middle of next year,” he added.

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Army weapons officials recently showed off its latest effort at arming an unmanned vehicle to keep soldiers safer on the battlefield.

The Ripsaw unmanned ground vehicle, though still in development, has been tested and is capable of driving up to 1 kilometer ahead of various types of formations, said Bob Testa, lead engineer for the Remote Weapons Branch of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.

Rather than reinvent something, Testa said his team selected a vehicle already produced by Howe and Howe Technologies, since it had remote driving capabilities. In 2009, “Popular Science” magazine named the Ripsaw the invention of the year.

Testa and his team converted the vehicle for Army use, according to a recent Army press release.
The Ripsaw is armed with a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, or CROWS, a system that’s been used in combat as far back as 2004 in Iraq.

CROWS allows a soldier inside a tank, Humvee, Stryker or any other vehicle to fire his weapon safely from inside the armor-protected vehicle. Cameras and range finders on CROWS see for him and the system can tilt and swivel the weapon as needed.

While that capability probably resulted in a lot of saved lives, the soldier inside the vehicle could still be killed or injured from a large enemy mine or projectile. So Testa’s team took the remotely-operated system one step further. They completely removed the soldier from the vehicle.

So the next step for his team was to design a weapon to fire remotely. ARDEC developed the Advanced Remote Armament System, or ARAS, a gun that self-loads its own ammunition and even can swap out various types of ammunition, such as lethal and non-lethal, in just a few seconds, he said.

[Continue reading…]

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It’s hard not to like Elon Musk, who has turned his eclectic interests into a variety of market-disrupting businesses.

The billionaire entrepreneur behind such companies as the online payment firm PayPal, electric sports car company Tesla and rocket-maker SpaceX is the subject of a new book, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” by Ashlee Vance, a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. [Continue reading…]

Rolling Airframe MissileThe Navy is working on a $1.6 billion technological upgrade overhauling ship defense systems onboard amphibs and aircraft carriers to include interceptor missiles, streamlined radars and software improvements, service officials said.

The work is being done on what’s called Ship Self Defense Systems, or SSDS – a series of integrated technologies being upgraded to track, identify and destroy a wide range of possible threats such as incoming enemy supersonic missiles.

“I’m upgrading the SSDS to handle the Joint Strike Fighter and to handle higher threats. My primary upgrades with SSDS are getting an upgrade to be able to handle supersonic targets,” said Rear Adm. Peter Fanta, director of Surface Warfare. [Continue reading…]