PENTAGON SEEKS WEAPONS OF TOMORROW FOR TODAY’S WARS

Washington Times on January 7, 2015, reported that Pentagon has spent much efforts during 2014 to produce futuristic weapons systems. Excerpts below:

The U.S. government has spent billions on warfare initiatives over the past five decades, and only last year began to see some of its most intriguing technological investments overcome testing hurdles.

The innovations came as outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued an all-hands-on-deck call for new and creative ways to expand the growth of U.S. military technology as a means to advance and expand “American dominance.”

Mr. Hagel said in a Nov. 15 memorandum that identifying and developing breakthrough technology is also key to preventing the Pentagon’s weapons capabilities from eroding “at a time of constrained and uncertain budgets.”

To maintain superiority in a competitive security environment, the U.S. military has poured money into research and development companies like Boston Engineering, which created the “GhostSwimmer” about six years ago.

But it was only last month that the Navy was able to take the 5-foot-long drone, which weighs 100 pounds and mimics the movements of a shark, for a spin off the coast of Virginia Beach in Virginia.

The drone, which offers a glimpse of where the service will be headed, integrates the biotechnology of whale fins with the rudders on naval ships, said Michael Rufo, the director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group.

Boston Engineering hopes to make GhostSwimmer available to the Navy in 2016 so that it can use the technology to surveil the ocean for potential threats, Mr. Rufo said.

Not only are Navy officials capitalizing on biotechnology, but they also made history this year when they tested a high-energy laser weapon system aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf. Navy officials used the electrically charged weapon to destroy speedboats and small drones during a demonstration phase that began in September.

Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which develops new military technologies on behalf of the Defense Department, conducted the first live-fire tests of guided .50-caliber bullets in February and April 2014.

DARPA has made public on its website a video of those demonstrations, which show that the ammunition is capable of weaving away from the projected target of a sniper rifle and striking a target off to the side.

The government agency also made progress with its high-energy technology this summer when it strapped a 360-degree turret system designed to hold a laser weapon onto military aircraft.

Mr. Hagel pointed to the technology as a way to stay ahead militarily of any international threat.

“We have always lived in an inherently competitive security environment, and the past decade has proven no different,” he said. “While we have been engaged in two large landmass wars over the last 13 years, potential adversaries have been modernizing their militaries, developing and proliferating disruptive capabilities across the spectrum of conflict. This represents a clear and growing challenge to our military power.”

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