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The best smart gun on the market is easily hacked

The German Armatix iP1 pistol, a personalized handgun design (smart gun), has gotten a lot of flack since it was introduced. While I bumped into the inventor (a guy who came up with a bunch of innovations while working for HK over the years) at a range a couple years ago, and have called, written and emailed Armatix at both their California office and in Germany for months, they won’t talk to me. Also, even though I have tried my best, I have never been able to handle one.

I did talk to a guy who had one in his possession for a long time in 2015 and he wasn’t impressed– telling me with an RF detector he could find the signal, turn it on and off, replicate it and do it all remotely as well as straight up hot wire it by taking the rear portion of the grip off and bypassing the electronic lock altogether, so that if someone who steals the firearm can simply take the back strap off, splice two wires, and the entire “smart” mechanism is disabled.

Well, low and behold, fast forward two years and a security researcher told Wired he was able to jam the radio frequency band (916.5Mhz) and prevent the gun from firing when it should, extend the authentication radius of its RFID puddle, and even defeat the electromagnetic locking system altogether with a simple $15 magnet placed near the breechblock. (More on that here).

So I sent that to the trade organization for the firearms industry to find out what they thought of it.

Their response in my column at

Remember, blue does not mean inert…

So a guy in Massachusetts got to looking at his grandpa’s old military souvenir, which everyone just took to be a keepsake.

Then he noted the bomblet had a charge inside.

From the video, the device looks to be a WWII-era AN-MK23 Mod 1 Practice Bomblet of the type used by the Army Air Force and the Navy and are made to hold replaceable spotting charges, a special 10-gauge shell with about the explosive power of a blasting cap. The light blue color, officially “Deep Saxe Blue” denotes practice use and not totally inert devices.

While inert models surface for sale here and there, live examples are recovered in the wild from time to time.

The ‘Battle Cat’ still serves

Sailors from the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently conducted damage control and medical training during three damage control “rodeo” events held aboard the decommissioned carrier ex-USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) over the past three months, showing that even ships on red lead row can still tap in when needed.

Laid down in 1956, Kitty Hawk became the oldest active warship in the Navy (besides Constitution) in 1998 and held that title for a decade until she was officially decommissioned on 12 May 2009 after almost 50-years in the fleet. Still, her hangar deck is and other passageways are similar enough to the Nimitz-class to work for DC training.

BREMERTON, Washington (May 17, 2017) Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) muster for a damage control rodeo prior to going aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). The damage control rodeo was held on Kitty Hawk to provide a shipboard environment, adequate space and hands-on training while John C. Stennis conducts a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, during which the ship is undergoing scheduled maintenance and upgrades. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop / Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

John C. Stennis’ damage control and medical departments were unable to hold the “rodeos” on their own ship due to maintenance work being conducted during its planned incremental availability (PIA), but still wanted to give their fellow Sailors the most realistic experience possible.

Enter ex-Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s last conventional-powered aircraft carrier, held at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Bremerton, and just a quick walk away from John C. Stennis. Though Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2009, it remains largely intact and shares many basic similarities to modern Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, making it an ideal location for this type of training.

Kitty Hawk is officially to be held in Maintenance Category B receiving the highest degree of maintenance and preservation to a retired ship, though with USS Ford entering the fleet, she will likely be downgraded to Category C or X in coming months as the big new carrier moves through a 10-month shakedown and goes through working up for her first deployment.

Though plans have been floated to look into reactivating “Shitty Kitty” the CNO has downplayed that and it is more likely she would be held for museum donation and, should that fall through, scrapped.

Meet Target Sprint, a game that needs to be brought over to the States

The International Shooting Sport Federation held the first world championship summer biathlon event last month, combining running and rifle target shooting.

The event, held in Suhl, Germany, and referred to officially by the ISSF as Target Sprint, makes competitors run a 400m track, then take their rifle from a storage rack and shoot at five falling targets from a 10m standing position with a time penalty for each missed shot. The athlete then repeats the lap and shoots again, followed by another lap to the finish line.

The Germans swept the event, which is aimed at more physically active competitors and getting youth into the shooting discipline. There were no American entries. In my opinion, the NSSF, CMP, 4-H, JROTC, Boy Scouts, and every other youth shooting sports organization needs to start howling for this is the States.

Get these kids off the couch.

DARPA is making progress on their autonomous FLA program

These things are pretty interesting, and could really save lives, especially in MOUT-style operations. The only human input is the target image, a basic map, and a bearing to the search area, then the quad is off, in fully autonomous flight without GPS or remote control (RC) communication links.

Phase 1 of DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program concluded recently following a series of obstacle-course flight tests in central Florida. Over four days, three teams of DARPA-supported researchers huddled under shade tents in the sweltering Florida sun, fine-tuning their sensor-laden quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the intervals between increasingly difficult runs. DARPA’s FLA program is advancing technology to enable small unmanned quadcopters to fly autonomously through cluttered buildings and obstacle-strewn environments at fast speeds (up to 20 meters per second, or 45 mph) using onboard cameras and sensors as “eyes” and smart algorithms to self-navigate.

And if you don’t think drones are the new thing in the modern battlefield, just look at the report below on how ISIS forces are using commercial quadcopters and the like around Rakka today.

Buy a Chinese-made RC copter, attach a mortar shell or hand grenade to an actuator, and you have a sub-$1K attack craft. Using swarms of these things, some local forces are reporting 10-15 drones strikes against them per day. The DGI Phantom is reportedly the go-to quad for the IS air corps for recon and attack.

A Brit describes fighting off an intruder in his home, with a very British weapon.

In a country with no right to bear arms, and no right to defense, it can get sticky sometimes.

From the Guardian

It is unusual for burglars to break into a property knowing there’s someone inside who has seen them. I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone and took it into the kitchen, dialing 999 while watching the guy through the little glass panel as he struggled to force the door. I was on the point of giving my address when one powerful blow caused the door frame to splinter, and I knew he’d be in with the next one. I said, “Too late!” and dropped the phone.

I didn’t know he’d be armed, but thought he might be, so I dashed to the cupboard under the stairs – there were a lot of garden tools in there that could have been handy. But, as it happens, I used to collect old British swords and I still had a 1796 British light cavalry sabre. It’s a fearsome-looking thing, and I hoped that the sight of it would be enough.

It has a very British outcome. More here

Also, if you are curious about the Pattern 1796 light cavalry sabre, here is Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria:

What’s in the DPRK’s nuke bin?

Really interesting info from Stratfor about coping with the Nork’s missile arsenal. (More here)

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