In this edition of Latest In Defence, American researchers have developed a jetpack to enable soldiers to run a four-minute mile; DARPA brings us a vision of some futuristic new ground vehicles that dodge damage; and Boeing aims to prove its new laser weapon works through fog.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Air Force Research Laboratory have developed a turret that could be used to aim future high-powered laser weapons through 360o at aerial and ground targets. Previous attempts to develop airborne laser weapons were ridiculed, but without an effective laser to use with its turret, is DARPA’s attempt also doomed to fail?
While ceramics, smart materials and additive manufacturing have dominated recent military material innovation headlines, metal alloys have been quietly evolving to deliver unprecedented new protective properties. A new form of steel alloy called super bainite has been licensed to Tata Steel for use in its vehicle development projects – and it performs even better with holes in.
Michelin has introduced a new military anti-landmine tyre that runs at very low pressure and presents the longest possible footprint, enabling a specialised vehicle to drive across a minefield without triggering detection systems. The tyres are used on the SOUVIM 2 route clearing system developed by MBDA for the French Army to safely clear long stretches of road for mobility support operations.
Military hybrid flying trucks, or road-capable aircraft, may offer a future solution to the problem of delivering troops and logistics to otherwise inaccessible regions by ground and air. As one impressive technology demonstrator takes its maiden flight and others take shape, how do their capabilities compare, and do they really improve on current alternatives such as heavy lift helicopters?
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Military systems increasingly need to directly interface with each other to reduce redundancy and soldier burden, and to take advantage of new ‘big data’ analysis techniques. British software specialist 2iC has written and shared with the MOD an innovative standard that could greatly improve interoperability and overcome the technical constraints of battlefield systems.
Body-worn health monitoring systems measure physiological signals in real time to track individuals’ physical condition and performance. Combining data from established human monitoring technology with environmental and performance information, a new system provides detailed live feedback from military training exercise participants, monitors their well-being and records changes in ability over time.
Latest In Defence visits D3O’s laboratory headquarters in Brighton to investigate how the company develops military armour products using its patented gooey orange smart material. Not only does it make helmets and body armour more effective and comfortable for soldiers, but it could also reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The ATK XM-25 Individual Semi-automatic Airburst Weapon System (ISAAW) was nicknamed The Punisher by Special Operations personnel who trialled it in Afghanistan. Using laser targeting technology, soldiers can control where the 25mm round will explode in relation to the target. Jarrod Krull, communications manager with ATK Armament Systems, offers an update on the current status of the programme.
Military personnel and equipment helped turn the tide for people left homeless and stranded after the unrelenting winter storms that hit the UK in late 2013 and early 2014.. Critics complained that the government left it too late to get troops involved, but what is the process by which British armed forces respond to disasters, and could it be made more efficient?