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Not Sci-fi: 103 Perdix self-healing drones launched from 3 F-18s

So have you seen this yet?

“In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted Oct. 26, 2016 consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.”

Self-healing?

No shit, this is from the DOD itself.

“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper in a statement. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

The 6-inch long drone, developed by MIT in 2013, can fly for about 20 minutes at 60kts.

Controlling 100 drones individually would be overwhelming, so much like a sport coach, operators call “plays” (e.g., surveilling a field) and Perdix decides how best to run them. Because Perdix cannot change their plays, operators can predict the swarm’s behavior without having to micromanage it.

More here

It’s about time

U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center posted this image last week of a project they are working on to add a cheap solar panel to the average helmet cover.

solar-power-helmet

“As more electronics are integrated into the Soldier ensemble, powering them effectively becomes a challenge. Our researchers are looking into thin, wearable, photovoltaics for the Soldier’s backpack and helmet that could provide as much as 17 watts from exposure to sunlight.”

If 17 watts is enough to trickle charge an iPhone, this will be the the most welcome peice of kit ever, especally at JRTC, Hohenfels and NTC. The Spec4 mafia is already scheming.

Endangered Marine XM-3s being preserved via CMP

In 2004, the Marine snipers deployed in the sandbox needed a rifle that was shorter and lighter as well as quieter, than their standard M40s.

This led a small group of sniper wonks including Steve Reichert (then SNCOIC of the 2nd Marine Division’s Pre-Sniper course) and others to hammer out what was known as the DARPA XM-3 rifle, using an 18.5″ Hart 416R Stainless Steel (Mil-Gauged) barrel that was suppressor ready.

That's a full length rifle

That’s a fully asssembled sniper rifle…

What was so special about them?

From Steve Reichert:

-The receivers were clip slotted to accept the reverse-engineered titianium picatinny rail (IBA Design) to fit firmly.
-The receivers’ internal threads were opened up to 1.070” to allow a perfectly true alignment with the bolt face and chamber/bore dimension. The chamber was cut to accept M118LR ammo.
-The titanium recoil lug was built with the 1.070” diameter opening for the larger-barrel threads and surface ground true.
-The stainless steel magazine box was hand fitted and welded to eliminate movement when assembled.
-The stocks were custom made for the project.
-The barreled actions were bedded in titanium Devcon and Marine Tex to allow for decades of hard use without losing torque or consistency.
-Nightforce made a full 1 MOA elevation adjustment on their NXS 3.5-15X50’s to allow for faster dope changes at distance. These scopes had 1/4 MOA windage.

While successful and a hit with the Devils who got to use them, the 56 or so XM3’s were all pulled from service by 2014.

Thankfully, some have made thier way to the CMP and, as surplus bolt-action rifles, can be sold to the public.

They just auctioned off XM-3 rifle, serial number S6534025 with a factory green stock finish, built at Iron Brigade Armory by D. Briggs, USMC (Ret), 2112.

The rifle included the scope, sniper data book with some firing information; PVS22 Night Vision Device and other goodies.

xm-3-rifle-serial-number-s6534025-has-a-factory-green-stock-finish-and-shows-signs-of-use-but-was-well-maintained-and-cared-for-was-built-at-iba-by-d-briggs-usmc-ret-2112 pvs-22

Talk about functional history…

Meanderings of a Weapon Oriented Mind When Applied in a Vacuum Such as on the Moon

meanderings-of-a-weapon-oriented-mind-when-applied-in-a-vacuum-such-as-on-the-moon

The Aerospace Projects Review Blog uncovered a great July 1965 report from the U.S. Army’s Directorate of R&D Future Weapons Office about the realities of using firearms and other projectile weapons in space.

Conventional firearms would work just fine in space… at least for a while. A vacuum would cause most lubricants to outgas and turn to waxy solids or hard rubber-like crud. The extreme differences in temperatures between sunlit and shaded would cause many metals to warp and mechanisms to seize up. And there’s always the possibility of vacuum welding, where two similar metals will simply stick together, fusing into one. And recoil that gives a shooter a good kick on Earth might knock them over on the Moon, or send them tumbling in freefall. The authors described these problems and pointed out potential solutions. Additionally, they provided a number of notional concepts for hand-held weapons, ranging from modifications to the normal sort of firearm, to guns powered by springs (with, it must be said, rather optimistic muzzle velocities) to gas-guns and handheld mini-rocket launchers.

Such as the Sausage Gun!

pages-from-the-meanderings-of-a-weapon-oriented-mind-when_page_329-page PDF here

More on the Proteus mini-sub

Huntington Ingalls Industries just dropped a new video hyping their swag prototype Proteus DMUV (dual mode undersea vehicle– they really need to fix that acronym) which they hope will replace the vintage MkVIII “Eight Boat” SDV (frogman sub) in use by NSWG. Sure, its a little over the top with all the cheerleading by people really happy to be part of the team building experience they can pop in on their LinkedIn page, but there are lots of shots and a little background on the Proteus. Dig those interfaces.

More on Proteus here at HI Sutton’s Covert Shores site

SDV_proteus_cutaway940

 

Sea Hunter takes her TALON out to play

We’ve talked about DARPA’s 132-foot USV robot subchaser, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), dubbed Sea Hunter, a few times already this year.

The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.

We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.

Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.

I feel like this could be equal parts good and bad

Picatinny Arsenal engineers created a glass-formed “amorphous explosive” pellet, on right, that mimics the shape of a dime. Mission Impossible stuff here. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Picatinny Arsenal engineers created a glass-formed “amorphous explosive” pellet, on right, that mimics the shape of a dime. Mission Impossible stuff here. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are in the midst of crafting a generation of transparent explosives that can be used on everything from invisible mines to self-destructing optics.

Deep inside the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, at Picatinny Arsenal are engineers Victor Stepanov and Rajen Patel who are busy burning lean muscle tissue into the night to craft what they term “amorphous explosives.”

Accomplished with nanotechnology, the concept is to modify already proven battlefield shaping explosive compounds to create new ones that are clear as glass.

“If you ever seen a glassblower work, they heat the material above its glass transition point (Tg) until the glass softens. Then, the glassblower manipulates the glass, easily molding it before it cools,” said Patel. “Well, with this project, we can basically do the same thing with amorphous energetics: heat them above Tg and manipulate the structure to form complex shapes.”

What would the shapes be used for? Lots of stuff for the next gen warfighter like clear reactive armor for use in detonating anti-tank weapons, optics that can be blown up if they fall into enemy hands– such as on a drone that is lost or shot down– and even invisible mines.

In short, if you want it clear, and to go boom, this tech is key.

Patel says that key to the development is being able to keep it in its amorphous state long-term.

“This is especially true when we talk about its military application, where we could keep something in a bunker for twenty years in a hot desert,” he said.

More here

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