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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    USS Wasp

    The U.S. defense budget has ballooned to unheard of heights in the past years.

    Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with ambitious technologically advanced projects like the F-35 and the new class of aircraft carriers are expensive — and the president insisted cuts be made immediately.

    This is what came to Washington most easily. It's a list that will save the county almost $60 billion a year, but still leaves the defense budget at a staggering $650 billion a year.

    If nothing changes, however, and the big across-the-board cuts come in August this round of budget cuts will this batch seem like pocket change.

    The President's budget request for national defense discretionary programs within the Committee on Armed Services in fiscal year 2013 was $631.6 billion.

    The Senate bill — which we dissect here — authorizes $631.4 billion, in line with the Administration's request, making huge cuts to get there. 







    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mosquito Drone Mock Up

    It's been several years since the rumors and sightings of insect sized micro drones started popping up around the world.

    Vanessa Alarcon was a college student when she attended a 2007 anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. and heard someone shout, "Oh my God, look at those."

    "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?'" she told The Washington Post. "They looked like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects," she continued.

    A lawyer there at the time confirmed they looked like dragonflies, but that they "definitely weren't insects".

    And he's probably right.

    In 2006 Flight International reported that the CIA had been developing micro UAVs as far back as the 1970s and had a mock-up in its Langley headquarters since 2003.

    While we can go on listing roachbots, swarming nano drones, and synchronized MIT robots — private trader and former software engineer Alan Lovejoy points out that the future of nano drones could become even more unsettling.

    Lovejoy found this CGI mock up of a mosquito drone equipped with the 'ability' to take DNA samples or possible inject objects beneath the skin.

    According to Lovejoy:

    Such a device could be controlled from a great distance and is equipped with a camera, microphone. It could land on you and then use its needle to take a DNA sample with the pain of a mosquito bite. Or it could inject a micro RFID tracking device under your skin.

    It could land on you and stay, so that you take it with you into your home. Or it could fly into a building through a window. There are well-funded research projects working on such devices with such capabilities.

    He offers some good links though his Google+ page and Ms. Smith at Network World offers up even more.

    Now see the full sized drones of the future >

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    Bundeswher CH-53 Helicopter Flares

    After three years of intense fighting and little gain on either side, the Korean War whimpered out in a tenuous 1953 ceasefire.

    Both sides agreed enough was enough and returned home to lick its wounds and moved on into the promising armistice that divided the county into North and South in 1954. The thing about a ceasefire is that it's usually temporary, with fighting either resuming or officially concluding upon the signing of a peace treaty — neither of those things happened following the Korean War — yet, anyway.

    It has long seemed that the U.S. and South Korea were lingering more on the side of peace, with the North more firmly entrenched in their warring past, but the most recent allied war games, just south of the countries shared border, may knock that theory back a bit.

    Ahn Young-Joon and Sam Kim from the AP report that these drills fell on Monday's anniversary of the end of the Korean conflict, that technically leaves both sides still at war, with a large North Korean flag as part of some intense live fire practice.

    Wargames are not uncommon, but using the nationalistic symbol of the North as the focus of destruction is — and will no doubt be viewed with concern by the North.

    Ahn and Kim point out that no direct hits were scored on the flag itself but, which may help mitigate and immediate Northern response, along with a staggering economy that won't really support a full on military response, but it will likely increase threats and provocations.

    South Korean forces said only that the flag was meant to mark enemy territory while the North's state media called the move a "precursor to an invasion" and that even a skirmish may lead to "full scale regional nuclear war."

    Without the money or means to fight a large scale conventional battle, there doesn't seem to be much reason why the North wouldn't bring out the most powerful weapon in its arsenal should it feel attacked.

    Now check out Iran's full military might >

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    Unemployed

    "Sequestration" has become a dirty word for anyone remotely associated with the U.S. Military and defense.

    The across-the-board budget cuts set to strike the Pentagon in January would trim massive amounts of money from the defense budget and now the National Association of Manufacturers says it will cost 1 million American jobs by 2014.

    Lori Montgomery at The Washington Post reports the job losses may include three-quarters-of-a-million private sector jobs, including 100,000 manufacturing jobs.

    The large swath of cuts would trim about $100 billion from the Pentagon's budget next year with the goal of taming the national debt.

    A full report on where the cuts will fall is expected to come out August 15.

    Here's what got axed in this year's budget cuts >

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    I posted this earlier and since then some other folks believe they've set the record straight: Original title was China's Newest Fighter "May Be" Sitting Here..." Full post is below. Thanks for tipping us off Dave Cenciotti — who makes a convincing case for the trainer theory.

    China's fifth-generation J-20 fighter makes the news quite a bit these days, but what doesn't get noticed as much is its tried and true Shenyang jets that have been around since the early 1960s.

    The Shenyang J-8IIM was on display at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2006, but this possible new variant is still under wraps and the photo was surreptitiously snapped from inside the cab of a truck as guards stand bedside it.

    The photo made its way to the guys at Alert 5 and could be the newest Shenyang jet on its way to a testing facility. Or maybe not. David Cenciotti at The Aviationist doesn't necessarily agree and shot me a tweet saying it looks more like an L-15 trainer than a new jet. 

    I make a point of including that opinion because the man knows his stuff, and given the diminutive size of the aircraft, it makes a lot of sense.

    The photo was taken at a rest area on the highway from Beijing to Shenyang.

    Shenyang Jet

    Now see how China's J-20 is already doing way more than anyone expected >

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    Triton

    The U.S. Navy has its sight set on this new drone that was recently unveiled by defense company partner Northrop Grumman.

    They've been working on the MQ-C4 Triton over the last several years, and it's now ready for test flights. 

    See what the drone offers >

    With 360-degree scanning capability and an Automatic Identification System — meaning it can classify different types of ships by itself — the MQ-C4 is pegged to be the mainstay of the Navy's spying capabilities at sea from 2015 onwards.

    But even without its state-of-the-art sensors and cameras, the aircraft itself is capable. It can fly for over a day at twice the altitude of commercial jets, reaching a maximum height of 60,000 feet (11 miles) overhead.

    And Popular Mechanics explains that the drone is "vertically agile", so it won't have a problem quickly swooping down from high altitudes to take pictures of ships.

    Apart from being used for combat-related surveillance missions, the drone could also keep tabs on piracy, human smuggling, fishery violations, and organized crime. Essentially, it's all-seeing.

    Here's a break-down of the new drone and how it'll give the Navy even more control of the high seas.

    Here's what the U.S. is watching. These are the 5 main operating bases where the MQ-4C fleet will be used, networking with other Navy and Air Force drones — notice the South China Sea region is under watch



    The MQ-C4 is designed for persistent maritime surveillance and intelligence-gathering — its makers say the Navy will have "24/7" coverage. The drone can travel 11,450 miles before it needs to be refueled



    Along with its 360-degree scanning, it can capture images or full motion video at high resolution



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    V-22 Osprey

    The V-22 Osprey tilt rotor plane gets a bum rap.

    Its ability to take off and land like a helicopter and fly fast like a plane is an immense asset to troops and military planners alike, but the V-22 has suffered its share of problems.

    Last week another one went down and we thought it was time to take a closer look and the aircraft most people love to hate. 

    When we were aboard the USS Wasp from Norfolk to NYC last month the Navy let us onboard a V-22 Osprey and gave us a tour.

    This is what we found.

    The Osprey took its first flight in 1989 and despite accidents that have killed dozens of troops — it's billed by some top ranking officers as one of the safest aircraft in the fleet



    One of the problems with the plane is that the rotor can slip too deeply into its downwash — lose lift on one side and flip — the Osprey now has indicators alerting pilots when this situation develops



    Aside from its vertical and traditional flight capabilities the aircraft can haul 8,600 gallons of fuel and fly twice as fast as the Sea Knight helicopter



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Army Uniform

    The U.S. Marine Corps has long been known for doing more with less; smaller, more agile, and quick to react, it actually employed that ability when hunting for new uniforms in 2002.

    Erik German at The Daily tells the story of the Marines and the Army's uniform selections, mentioning a conversation he had with a textile technologist that shows the Marines flexibility and the Army's cumbersome bureaucracy.

    The Marines went to their sniper school at Quantico, Va., and told a couple of their guys to find a good camouflage color for the new uniform pattern. A group of snipers went to the local Home Depot and found the main base color in the Ralph Lauren section of the paint department. The color now called Coyote Brown went into the pattern of their very successful and well-loved MARPAT uniform pattern.

    This was also around the time the Army was sending its troops to Iraq with uniforms and body armor in a variety of mismatched patterns that, in effect, left U.S. soldiers wearing a target for the enemy to fire upon.

    Bedder explains that in response to this and the Marines new uniforms, the general in charge of Army uniform procurement told his staff to pick a color before trials were finished. 

    Five billion dollars, eight years later, and the Army is now doing the whole thing again. Over the next 12 months 1.1 million soldiers will be replacing their uniforms for something called Multicam.

    Hopefully this will work out better for troops, and won't have to be replaced again in a handful of years.

    Read the whole story at The Daily.

     

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    If you're paying taxes in the U.S. this year, a substantial dose of your contribution is going toward six defense contracts, awarded this week and worth about $674 million.

    This round of purchases lassoed a couple large C-17 Globemasters, some innovative new robots that'll likely save the lives of many troops, and four more interesting deals that caught our eye — including a new V-22 Osprey.

    While this is just a smattering of the 67 contracts finalized this week, they're the ones that grabbed our jaded attention and we offer them up here for your perusal.

    We'll be pulling these apart throughout the week to see why the money was spent where it was, and when it was, to get a better understanding of how the defense budget actually works – and sending that insight on to you.

    In the meantime America...enjoy your recent purchases:

     

    boeing c-17Two Brand New C-17s For The Air Force — $341 million

    The Air Force ordered two C-17s from Boeing, both of which will end up at Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio by next May.

    The Air Force is paying $171 million for one of them and $170 million for the other, generating a total haul of $341 million for Boeing.

    So far, 241 of the aircraft have been produced since their introduction in 1993.

    This buy comes at a time when the DoD and the Senate Armed Services Committee have decided to phase out the older C-130, so that could be a motivation for the buy.

              

    army alaska paratroopersAlaska Gets Base Upgrades — $123.8 million

    Two military bases in the state of Alaska are getting expensive upgrades.

    A new aviation battalion hanger is going up at Fort Wainwright for the Army. Serco Inc. will get $70 million for the project.

    A brigade combat team light complex is being constructed at Joint Base Elmendorf by the Kiewit Building Group of Omaha, to the tune of $53.8 million. 

    Why so much Alaskan investment? It could be a bunch of reasons.

    The proximity to the arctic is crucial, as land grabs and power plays by a dozen nations make a presence in the far north strategically essential these days.

    There's also, of course, the oil.

    But specifically,  Russia had historically been the reason for Alaskan outposts, and their recent resurgence — and their recent team-ups with China — could be the justification for two new battalions in the Last Frontier.


    L-3-fuzes-m935Mortar Fuzes For The Army — $100 million

    L-3 Communications/L-3 Systems Co. was awarded nearly $100 million to procure more M935 fuzes.

    L-3 has made millions of the fuzes since their introduction in the 1970s.

    The fuses are a crucial part of the 51mm, 60mm, 81mm and 120mm Mortar Launchers.

    Those have seen a significant amount of use of late.

    The fuzes have a delayed-firing system, and have achieved a 99% reliability rating from the Government.

     

       

    mv-22 oSprey, military, plane, army, marinesThe Air Force Gets Another Osprey — $74 million

    Bell Boeing Joint Project Office, the group that oversees collaboration between Bell Helicopter and Boeing Co.,  was awarded with a $74 million contract for an additional CV-22 Osprey to the Air Force.

    The Osprey will replace one that had been lost in combat.

    This acquisition comes a mere week after an Osprey crashed in Florida, wounding Marines.

    The Osprey has been frequently maligned as problematic and controversial, given its mixed performance as both an immensely powerful and useful aircraft with some performance issues.

     

    Flu Vaccine Production Scientist Lab Flu Shots For The Military — $21 million

    It may not be flu season yet, but the Department of Defense is already planning for the coming winter.

    Merck & Co. and Sanofi Pasteur have each been awarded a multimillion dollar contract for flu shots.

    The shots would go towards inoculations of all four branches as well as federal civilian employees.

    Merck gets $11.5 million and Sanofi Pasteur got $9.5 million.


    throwbot-military-robot-recon-roboticsArmy Buys A Thousand "Throwbots"— $14 million

    ReconRobotics was awarded almost $14 million for up to 1,000 Throwbot XT robots.

    The Throwbot is a clever piece of tech that can be thrown into rooms, over walls, and outside in order to perform risky recon without the possible loss of life.

    The XT model now comes with audio as well as video, allowing incredible reconnaissance abilities for troops on the go.

    The original Throwbot has already seen service with the Army, and evidently the branch liked the tech enough that they demanded much, much more. The throwbot weighs a little more than a pound, and is resistant to both dust and water. It's also rather stealthy, and can be tossed 120 feet. 

    Now, to compare, check out what kind of weaponry Iran is packing >>

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    Type 056 Corvette

    The fact that China's been building up its military with speed and agility recently is nothing new, but Beijing is now going head-to-head with one of the U.S. Navy's most troubled programs.

    The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is meant to be part of the fleet being moved to the Pacific, and though a couple versions of the ship were put to sea four years ago, the program is still beset by problems and nowhere near combat ready.

    Type 056 Corvette

    Michael Fabey at Aviation Week acquired Navy documents that show the following components had issues on the LCS USS Freedom's recent voyage:

    Littoral Combat ShipHeat, flame, smoke and flood alarms; hydraulic power unit systems, airborne mission zone lift hoist and platform; lifting capstan; gypsy winch; oily water separator and transfer pump; reverse osmosis system; watertight doors, degaussing system, gas-turbine intake plenum space; and blow-in doors.

    The ship also appears to be minus one of its four engines, upon which repair and reassembly work was started this month, according to the documents.

    This is a ship that's been in service for four years, cost over $600 million dollars, and is still having trouble performing basic functions — and now China has launched a littoral ship of its own.

    Christian Le Miere at Naval Forces and Maritime Security reports Beijing put its first Type 056 craft into the water a few weeks ago where it will become part of a four-ship team patrolling China's coast.

    Apart from looking very similar to the U.S. LCS, the 056 will have stealth characteristics and carry some impressive weaponry like Type 87 anti-submarine rockets, AK-176 Russian 76 mm gun systems, and C-803 anti-ship missiles.

    It's these ships that China may look to when enforcing the exclusive economic zones in the country's territorial waters. 

    Now see the Navy's other troubled $700 million LCS ship, the USS Independence >

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    When Rob Wise left the Marine Corps to join the Army a decade ago he may have looked forward to a better life, starting a family and receiving support from the people he worked for.

    The Marines have been known to be less than accepting of new wives and fledgling families. I've met more than one soldier who left the Corps for the Army after hearing that if the Marines had wanted him to have a wife, it'd have issued him one. After all, the hard charging, oft-deployed life of a junior Marine can take its toll on girlfriends, wives, and troops alike.

    That's worth mentioning because Andy-Lee Fry at The Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville, Tn., where Wise and his wife Ashley are stationed, tells a story all too common in the military—and Ashley's dedicated response.

    Following Rob's second Iraq combat tour he started having flashbacks. Vivid moments of surprising intensity that mentally flung him back to battle when hearing a loud noise, or catching a sudden movement from the corner of his eye. 

    Ashley told Fry the situation demanded professional attention when Rob took all the weapons he had in their home, some booze, went to a local hotel and after she called him, told her, "Life’s just really hard, I might do something stupid."

    She called the Army's Family Advocacy program, an organization that supports families in crisis. After the counselor put her hand on Ashley's arm, told her she was in a safe place and to trust her, Ashley opened up. "I hadn't slept in over 24 hours," she told me on the phone. "It's the only reason she got me."

    What she meant was that as soon as she outlined the difficulties she and Rob had been going through, the session stopped, the advocacy worker got up and Rob was promptly picked up by the Military Police.

    Rob was now facing 72 hours confinement, domestic assault charges, and a dishonorable discharge that would cause the family to lose all the benefits they were entitled to. It didn't take Ashley long to realize Army officials were preparing to make her and Rob the "civilian sector's problem."

    None of this is unusual, but facing few options Ashley did something that's started a viral Facebook movement, garnered thousands of followers, and has so far saved her family. Without a voice and ignored, she wrote a pledge on her back, took a picture of it holding Rob's M4 assault rifle over her head and uploaded it.

    The response from other wives watching their husbands suffer post traumatic stress was immediate, and the sudden interest in her case from Rob's command soon followed.

    The Facebook Group Battling BARE was born and now receives pictures from military wives around the country silently screaming the same pledge on their naked backs.

    A few of the photos are below, but you can check out the page here and see the movement in its entirety.

    Rob is now on staff at with the Army Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell.

    I spoke with Ashley on the phone following this post and we've agreed she and Battling BARE will join our pool of Smoke Pit contributors at BI Military & Defense immediately. Look for the amazing things they're doing posted here in the coming days.

    Battling Bare

    Broken by battle, Wounded by war, I love you forever

    Battling Bare

    To you this I swore: I will quiet your silent screams, Help heal your shattered soul

    Battling Bare

    Until once again, my love, you are whole.

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    The numbers flung about when speaking of defense acquisitions are so large and so many that it's easy for the amounts to lose their meanings.

    This infographic from Military Education shows the money spent on a handful of prominent defense contracts and compares each with something most average Americans can relate to. 

    Cost of Military
    From: MilitaryEducation.org

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    LCAC

    When the Marines want to haul infantry troops and the gear they'll need to fight on any shoreline they send the Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC).

    A huge hovercraft that skims the surface of the water at nearly 50 mph carrying up to 75 tons of equipment, the LCAC is as fast as it is versatile.

    See the pictures >

    The Navy says the craft can carry troops, tanks, and whatever else the military wants, to 70 percent of the world's coastlines — but it's not only used in combat.

    The hovercraft, like the amphibious assault ships that transport them, are also used in disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions. The LCACs are what brought supplies to the shores of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and the assault ships that carried them there became immense floating hospitals.

    While the LACC is not new, it was designed in the 1980s, but it remains effective and essential to many Naval maneuvers.

    When we visited the USS Wasp last month, the one in the following slides was brought into the ship's well deck and a member of the crew was good enough to show us around.

    This is the part of the USS Wasp called the well deck



    That metal gate folds down allowing cargo to be brought aboard while the ship is far from shore



    And that's how the LCAC came aboard — unfortunately there was a 'man overboard' drill and we missed its arrival



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    C-124 Globemaster

    Thanksgiving was just five days away on November 22, 1952 when a huge Air Force plane nicknamed "Old Shaky" went down East of Anchorage, AK killing all 52 servicemembers on board.

    The U.S. was in the thick of the Korean War at the time and the plane was filled with troops from the Air Force, Army, the Navy, and Marines — all of whom were likely eager to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

    As they flew above the Chugach Mountains, only minutes away from landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the massive C-124 Globemaster suffered a malfunction and began losing altitude.

    The reason even this is known, explains Casey Grove and Mike Dunham at Stars & Stripes, is because a nearby Northwest pilot deciphered a scratchy radio signal over his headset that said, "As long as we have to land, we might as well land here."

    Aside from a splash of debris spotted by a squadron of searchers that was lost to the elements within days, nothing was heard from Old Shaky's crew or passengers ever again — until now.

    The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) announced yesterday they'd finally found the plane, along with its missing passengers and crew.

    For 60 years the debris was etched into Colony Glacier, moving with the ice through time as family members held on and refused to let their loss be forgotten.

    Alaskan historian Doug Beckstead told Stars & Stripes that when the plane went down, the weather was brutal and the crew were flying blind, using their altimeter, a stopwatch, and a radio signal to find their way home.

    They plowed into the mountain at full speed and the bits of debris were re-covered by snow before an Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter found them again only days ago.

    It's welcome news to families left behind who maintain a Facebook page, and have been waiting for this news for six decades.

    Tonja-Anderson Dell posted to the page Wednesday night: "Families and Friends, what we all have been waiting for has come true. It would have been 60 years this November. There are no words I can state on this page or any other page that explains how I am feeling right now...I pray and ask for JPAC to bring our Airmen home to us; one airman at a time or all at once just home to the families member waiting."

    The Facebook page is powerful and scrolling the comments through the years it's impossible to miss the loss and lack of closure that all family members who lose loved ones in accidents that go un-found must suffer.

    On November 22, 2011, the anniversary of the crash, another member posted: "Today has been 59 Years since this crash. In Remembrance of everyone that died ... You all are truly missed. "

    The remains will be brought home in an official arrival ceremony and reunited with those who will finally say their goodbyes.

    Arrival Ceremony

    C-124 Debris Field

    C-124

    Now see how you're supporting the defense industry every time you buy these household products >

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    Walmart, prices, shopping, grocery store

    Regardless of how you may feel about America's military industrial complex, chances are some items in your home we're made by the same companies that makes drones and fighter jets.

    Fact is, a lot of the defense contractors make a bunch of other stuff.

    Here are eleven items that you probably own that were probably made by weapons manufacturers. 

    Nearly every aluminum can is made by Ball...

    Most of the cans in your house– whether they contain Coca Cola, peas, or  beer — were probably manufactured by the nation's largest producer of cans of all sizes, Ball Incorporated. They're also into plastics. 



    ...Ball also makes gear that goes into drones

    Ball also manufactures a huge amount of aerospace components — gimbles, lasers, cameras, and a ton of sensors — that can be found throughout everything in the Defense industry from the Predator drone to high flying space gear. 



    The Roomba is made by iRobot...

    Or a Scooba? The robotic vacuum for your pool? They're extremely capable devices from iRobot, and they're only going to get more complex. But consumer electronics isn't iRobot's only market. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    lightbulb-explosiom

    Regardless of how you may feel about America's military industrial complex, chances are some items in your home we're made by the same companies that makes drones and fighter jets.

    Fact is, many defense contractors make a bunch of other stuff and you probably never would have guessed the companies that make simple things like the items here also make advanced weapon systems.

    Here are eleven items that you probably own that were probably made by weapons contractors. 

    Nearly every aluminum can is made by Ball...

    Most of the cans in your house — whether they contain Coca Cola, peas, or  beer — were probably manufactured by the nation's largest producer of cans of all sizes, Ball Incorporated.

    They're also into plastics. 



    ...Ball also makes gear that goes into drones

    Ball also manufactures a huge amount of aerospace components — gimbles, lasers, cameras, and a ton of sensors — that can be found throughout everything in the Defense industry from the Predator drone to high flying space gear. 



    The Roomba is made by iRobot...

    Or a Scooba? The robotic vacuum for your pool? They're extremely capable devices from iRobot, and they're only going to get more complex.

    But consumer electronics isn't iRobot's only market. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    China Ship

    After months of mounting tensions that flared up with the Philippines at the Scarborough Shoal in April, China announced it's sending "combat ready" naval and aerial patrols to the Spratly Islands.

    Jojo Malig at ABS-CBNews reports the Chinese Defense Ministry said the planes and ships will be sent to "protect Beijing's interests" in the area.

    From ABS-CBNews:

    Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China will "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior" from other countries also claiming ownership of the Spratlys.

    "In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.

    "The Chinese military's resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable," Geng added. Vietnam has launched regular air patrols over the Spratly Islands.

    Vietnam and the Philippines are also claiming territory in the region which is believed to hold significant deposits of energy reserves.

    This deployment comes just a week after China denounced Vietnam's law claiming the Paracel and the Spratly's are its own.

    Reuters reports the South China Sea could be the biggest flashpoint for confrontation in Asia, a prediction that becomes only more severe as the U.S. tries to restore its influence in the region.

    To that end the situation is made even more interesting with the U.S. - Philippine exercise called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) set to commence July 2.

    The exercises will continue until July 10 with the U.S. Navy deploying two ships and the Philippines sending four more.

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    Type 022 Houbei class

    Americans have heard about China's military expansion for years at this point.

    Some say it's a minor threat, others claim Chinese expansion is to everyone's benefit, and still others think it spells doom for American world dominance. 

    Here's a look at many of the weapons that China's betting on to establish its new military might.

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) makes up the whole of China's military machine. The Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery Corps all fall under the PLA. 

    The PLA is the world's largest military, with more than 2.25 million active personnel. Currently, Chinese forces are only deployed fighting piracy, so — while not battle-hardened — this army is fresh, well equipped, and in excellent health. 

    The Type 99 Main Battle Tank is the most advanced tank in all of China

    The Type 99 is a third-generation Main Battle Tank (MBT) tank, like the American M1 Abrams. 

    The U.S. rolled out its MBT in 1980 and pays about $8.6 million for each one while the Type 99 sells for less than a third that price and went into production in 2001.

    It's packing a 125mm cannon, three machine guns, and also hosts an array of countermeasures to disable an enemy tank's night vision and targeting systems. 



    The HQ-19 missile system can track up to 100 airborne targets at once

    The HQ-19 is likely a complete version of the Russian S-400 Surface to Air Missile system. 

    Not only can the HQ's radar track 100 airborne targets, engage up to a dozen as far out as 250 miles, it is also effective for attacks on low-orbit satellites. 

    The system has three missile variations for targeting at different ranges and they can all be fitted into the same truck mounted canisters.

    One thing prompting the recent American scramble to upgrade or replace the Patriot system is the fact that the S-400 is — allegedly, arguably, possibly, etc — a lot better. 



    The PGZ-95 anti-aircraft system fires up to 800 25mm rounds a minute

    This self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery (SPAAA) has four 25 mm cannons, and four infrared homing missiles effective to almost 11,500 feet. 

    The vehicle weighs 22 tons, is 20 ft long, has a crew of three and cannon can be brought to bear on ground targets making short work of light armored fighting vehicles.

    A simple PGZ-95 battery consists of six units led by a command vehicle and three resupply trucks. 

    The PGZ 95 is manufactured by Chinese Defense powerhouse Norinco, and is another example of the homegrown Chinese engineering making China a genuine military power.

     



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    Alaska Corps of Engineers

    It's a pretty sweet deal to live in Alaska. Aside from the cold and the neverending periods of darkness, of course.

    There's no income tax or sales tax, and because of the oil and gas business, the state really pays for itself by taxing that.

    On top of that Alaska pays you to live there; all residents receive a yearly check from the government with their share of the state's oil and gas profits, lately in the ballpark of one to two grand a year per person.

    But all of that is peanuts compared with the money brought in by Alaskan Senators in Washington, D.C.

    In the past 40 years, the state has had only five people fill its array of Senatorial appointments. One of them even fathered another, and handed down the job like a family business.

    It is because of the skilled work they do in Washington that the Alaskan delegation has been pulling in immense federal contracts for decades. 

    We've found this PowerPoint by the head of the Army Corps of Engineers Alaska District that show how vast their work alone is in America's 49th state.

    FACT: Col. Reinhard Koenig, the Commander of the Alaska District, was promoted to the Pentagon shortly after delivering this PowerPoint



    As you can see, the Corps of Engineers is all over the state of Alaska



    These are some of the largest - most expensive projects underway in Alaska right now



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    RQ-170

    A research team at the University of Texas has successfully hijacked an unencrypted drone for the first time by overtaking its GPS signals with $1,000 worth of equipment and custom software.  

    The feat raises alarm about the new federal mandate that allows for up to 30,000 drones to patrol U.S. skies with little discretion by the end of the decade. Raising alarm is precisely what Texas assistant professor Todd Humphreys wanted his students  to accomplish.

    "We're raising the flag early on in this process so there is ample opportunity to improve the security of civilian drones from these attacks, as the government is committed to doing," Humphreys said in a press release.

    Using a small but sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) along with a system running on more than three years of custom-built software, the research team repeatedly overtook navigational signals going to the GPS-guided vehicle.

    The technique — known as "spoofing" — creates false GPS signals that trick the drone's GPS receiver to think that nothing is wrong as an outside hacker induces it to steer a new navigational course.

    Iran claimed to spoof the advanced stealth drone that went down in Iran in December while the U.S. insisted that an American error caused the RQ-170 Sentinel to crash with sensitive data onboard while on a CIA fact-finding mission.

    Humphreys told BBC that "it wouldn't be too hard for [a very skilled person] to work out how to un-encrypt military drones and spoof them, and that could be extremely dangerous because they could turn them on the wrong people."

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invited the team to attempt the feat in New Mexico this month. The demonstration definitively shows that it is possible to commandeer a drone via GPS spoofing.

    And since spoofing fools GPS receivers' on both location and time, most GPS-reliant devices, infrastructure and markets are potentially vulnerable to attacks. 

     "I think this demonstration should certainly raise some eyebrows and serve as a wake-up call of sorts as to how safe our critical infrastructure is from spoofing attacks," said Milton R. Clary, a senior Department of Defense (DoD) Aviation Policy Analyst, in the press release.

    Humphreys told Fox News that spoofing a GPS receiver on a drone "is just another way of hijacking a plane.” 

    During the spoofing demonstration in White Sands, New Mexico, the research team took control of a hovering drone from a little more than a half-mile away. Next year the team plans to perform a similar demonstration on a drone from a little more than 6 miles away.

    Here is a video staged exhibition of the spoofing operation held at the Longhorns' football Stadium (via Fox News):

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