Track Points lower price point Precision Guided Firearms

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So again ars Technica has a great article on Track Points latest products, $10,000 AR15 class weapons with their tracking/guidance package.

This is a remarkable technology and if I wanted to hunt it’s one I’d consider since you’re much more likely to get a clean kill.

These weapon’s make almost anyone a one shot one kill marksman, eroding a little the ‘advantage’ of a professional and increasing my concerns regarding their use in politically motivated murder.

The use of the weapon wit a remote sight also increases my concern in this area though the existing versions are heavy very expensive and near useless at short range.

However those disadvantages will rapidly dwindle, the technology is not that complex and I can see many bells and whistles I would work in over time.

In the not to distant future advanced combat forces will be using this and derived technology on all of their firearms, the battlefield will become deadlier and counter measures, operational, tactical and technical will be deployed.

Some in the political arena will want this tech banned, they may succeed in the short run. Some may demand it become mandatory, with the development of a human target recognition element and over ride…an expansion of the smart gun push.

But for now, it’s a cool use of technology by some pretty savvy guys and it’ll be fascinating to see where it goes.
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Go and See Edge of Tomorrow, it Rocks!

The hero and her sidekick Tom Cruise

The hero and her sidekick Tom Cruise

Edge of Tomorrow is a kick ass science fiction action flick.  GO AND SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!!!!!

It is action packed, actually makes sense (in science fiction terms,)has a quirky dark military sense of humor and an odd quirky dark romantic subtext (to me who loves warrior women [and my wife].)

OK Groundhog Day and that episode of Stargate did the reliving the 24hours bit before but not with the firepower (literally) of this movie.

I love the fighting machine, its direct line descent from what we are seeing in progress today and it certainly give the heroes a rational ability to carry REALLY BIG GUNS!

Emily Blunt is the hero here though the action revolves around the time looping Tom Cruise character.  Right now I think she’s better than Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Aliens because she is not so much reacting heroically to the demands of the moment as displaying long-term self-control and holding onto hope long after knowing the chances of survival are in the hands of pure chance.

SPOILER ALERT:    DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND HAVE ANY INTEREST IN GOING.

The aliens have invaded, 4 years ago, worse, they’re winning.

Tom Cruise’s character, a slimy salesman in uniform, pisses off the Allied high commander and gets assigned to the invasion force getting ready to push the aliens back from the beaches of Normandy (D-Day with choppers.)  It all goes terribly wrong and TomC gets killed in the first few minutes, along with pretty much everyone else.  But he’s not the utter waste of humanity you first thought.  In a final act of bloody-mindedness he takes an alien commander with him, setting off a time loop around his last 24 hours (which the aliens had set up so they got the advantage of do overs.)

Rita (Emily Blunt’s character) was killed early on during an earlier great battle in similar circumstances. In a series of many hundreds of do overs she finally has enough of an effect to win the battle though she cannot in the end get to the alien’s core (the Omega) and destroy them.   It is never stated in so many words but it is obvious that she learns from, and works with another soldier in this repetitive nightmare, falling in love with him but never able to save him.  At some point after the battle, probably trying to find a final solution, she is wounded in combat and given a transfusion, which destroys the looping.

By that time she is the new Sampson, Hercules, Sergeant York, Audey Murphy…but damned now to live and die just once she has to try to find a way to counteract the aliens’ undetectable, undefeated advantage.  Her friends dead or discredited she has to grit her teeth and allow herself to be used to recruit cannon fodder, in the hopes that somehow, she can help stave off defeat and find a key to victory.

My read of Rita is that she is very near the breaking point by the time the too cute TomC character pops into her life.  Not given the advantage of looping with her guide, each time she has to accept, come up to speed and move out with him each and every time, and it looks hard for her.

The TomC character Major Cage, starts out as a near total waste of oxygen, but his act of rage that sets up the loop is an act of redemption. And somehow, with backsliding, he keeps the redemption train moving.  When Rita first meets him I’m fairly sure she’d really like to pull his head off to see what goo is inside.  But as time progresses he earns her trust (remember this is over a period of less than 24 hours for her) and finally a little bit more.

It’s fairly obvious that Cage falls for Rita, physically at first (Blunt is Valkyrie hot) and then in a far deeper way (after the first several hundred deaths or so) and is also convinced that she (and her mad scientist friend) is the key to not having to die for good eventually.

At the end of the movie they die…after their first (and only) kiss, but the loop acts one last time to toss Cage back to an even earlier beginning, the beginning of a new age as the aliens have been destroyed though nobody has any idea what happened.

Last Scene, Cage in his noncombat officer finest faces the still burnt out and very dangerous Rita but now he is a seasoned warrior under the glow.  He has seen her die many hundreds of time, almost every time knowing that her death was the death of any hope except for his death and a do over.  She is seeing him for the first time, again.

I’ve spent hours thinking about the pick up line after the fade out.  One does not know what will happen, “Hi Rita you don’t remember me but we blew up the alien Omega together.  Just dropped by to thank you for saving humanity with my help,  I wanted you to know that seeing you die several hundred times was a real bitch and dying that last time, I was glad I wasn’t going to survive without you.   Could I take you out for a cold beer and pizza later?”

OK so that’s corny but I bet there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others wondering the same thing.

 

Sometimes old & reliable is far better than new and shiney

20130823-202452.jpgAt: http://breakingdefense.com/ Stick With The Tomahawk, Forget LRASM
on July 12, 2013
By Steve Russell

In America’s culture of optimism and innovation, there is always the desire for the better mouse trap. Sometimes, traps are needed to catch rats and not mice, so the mouse traps must be replaced. Sometimes, the existing traps can be modified to more than do the job against the actual threat they face. But we must be intellectually honest and ask, “Can what we have already get it done?”
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For example, the .50 caliber Machine Gun was designed in 1919. That’s right, just after the First World War. It has been successfully upgraded and is still used today by all the armed services. It is efficient, deadly and respected by all of us who have used it in battle to defeat America’s enemies. Why? It simply works. America has protected thousands of lives and saved billions of dollars by resisting the calls for a potentially better mouse trap.

Too many times the urge to build new vs. incremental upgrade is hard to resist especially if a clique of advisors is captured by an aggressive sell of shinny new technology. ( Though alternately it can be hard to tell when an old war horse needs to be put out to pasture.)

But…if the shinny new blivet is only incrementally better and many or all of its advantages can be spun onto the old gray tiger you really have to consider incrementalism.

Speed, stealth or smaller, are often sold as the key advantage of a new frame…but most of the time the advantage so bought costs in $’s and in lost capability, flexibility, or maybe even reluctance to pull the trigger given a fear that the shinny new tech will be revealed to the oppo…

Especially in a world of rapid change the urge for the new is not necessarily a good one. Too many times a brilliant idea today is obsolescent before it’s out of development and can get caught in a horrifically expensive dollar death spiral chasing evolving requirements.

Also remember that the old guard primes have huge infrastructures (and stockholders) they have to support. And upgrading old systems will not fill the pipeline. So they have a strong motivation to denigrate the old and laud the new, so do many in the DoD bureaucracy.

Unfortunately for the new platforms, most technologies coming down the affordability curve are as good for, or better at upgrading older platforms or capabilities, than providing big step changes at the platform level.

Not to say that this won’t doom some old war horses. I’m not confident that the CVN is anything more than an admiral’s yacht and diplomat’s crutch these days.

A world (at sea ) of difference

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as in many engineering projects the Navy’s UCAV X-47B flight testing and carrier qual seems to have suddenly jumped from baby steps to hyper speed.

Navy officers are very clear on a distinction between the Navy and the Air Force, which insists on talking about remotely piloted aircraft: Navy “unmanned air systems” have operators, not pilots. Of course, the Navy hasn’t been forced to divert a large number of qualified pilots into UAVs, as the USAF has been (Predators and Reapers are the USAF’s second-largest pilot force after the F-16), and will not have to do so for a long time. But the fact remains that flying a UAV with a stick and rudder or any semblance thereof is (to quote an Airbus guy’s comment on the Boeing 777’s back-driven yoke) like putting a steering wheel on a horse. “Pilot” is a bit of a misnomer.
Speaking of pilots, the Navy’s attitude towards adopting the X-47B’s automatic landing technology for manned operations is quite positive. The potential benefits — less wear and tear on airframes and less training time for the air group, along with improved safety — are substantial.

Read more at: http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs
Wired has a different set of thoughts and more questions here. Wired sometimes seems to confuse the world of war with the world of tech and the world in general with the blue coasts of the US but they do a good job of tracking the tech and monitoring for hubris.

Smart Rock(ets)

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Classic shot of the classic, classy, grungy, so ugly it’s cute, A10 Warthog dropping a flare I think

The new family of 70mm laser guidance plug on warheads are another tick of the game precision warfare revolution.

What caught my eye:

While the APKWS, designed for maximum precision, has a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of about 2-meters, the round has exceeded this benchmark in testing and come within inches of targets at ranges up to 5 kilometers, according to BAE Systems officials.

Think about that … this is a WW II weapon and in the big picture inexpensive trending to dirt cheap. The guidance package-warhead replaces the dumb warhead, it has a trick laser based guidance system that is precise while leaving room for an effective warhead. The guidance system has an inertial reference platform and range finder…about the smarts and sensing of the original iPhone. In the future I see no reason it couldn’t have the ability to switch to pattern recognition guidance in the last few meters to go from inches to millimeters … At which point some targets don’t need an explosive ‘after.’

One Two Three Four, We Could Get A Nuclear War

One Two Three Four, We Could Get A Nuclear War.

ARES a AWST blog….

“money quotes:”

Watts argued that many countries are no longer pursuing nuclear weapons as a direct counter to U.S. nuclear power, but to compensate for relatively weak conventional forces. That includes Russia, where Watts cites president Vladimir Putin’s emphasis on the importance of nuclear weapons, and post-Cold-War doctrinal writings that talk about using limited nuclear attacks as “demonstration and de-escalation” strikes, to deter or terminate a large-scale nuclear war.

…it’s like a police department whose only force option is to blow up the entire block where the perpetrator lives.

Indeed, U.S. extended deterrence is something that not enough people think about when they advocate further cuts in U.S. nuclear forces. The American “umbrella” covers nations such as South Korea, Japan and Turkey, which have the industrial and technological capability to go nuclear very quickly if they feel that they can no longer rely on the U.S.

Watts warns, “limited use of low-yield nuclear weapons will become the new normal and give rise to a second nuclear age whose dangers and uncertainties will dwarf those of the first.”

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Crap!

Anti-drone Laser, the Navy steps forward

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From Wired as so often, this came out the week of SAS(SeaAirSpace) in DC, a conference/exhibition by the Navy League (the premier Naval support/booster society.)

Lasers are used every day for cutting sheet metal, the main issue in weaponizing has become compactness, cooling, and beam forming over miles not inches. The line of sight, zero time of flight nature of its sting, along with some ability to vary your effect and to choose what sort of damage you do (shown in the video), low chance of collateral damage AND the low cost per shot make even a modestly powerful laser weapon a very interesting for ships deployed in zones where the threat can be very low tech but hard to discriminate from non threat till very late, or where you would rather disable than destroy.