From the first American jet fighter to the latest unmanned aircraft systems, Skunk Works has been innovating for more than 70 years.
Skunk Works was formed in 1943 by the U.S. Army’s Air Tactical Service Command and Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to counter the growing German jet threat. The organization’s first answer was the XP-80 Shooting Star jet fighter, which was designed and built in 143 days.
Skunk Works is responsible for some of the most famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk and others. This short Lockheed Martin promotional video highlights some of their famous innovations, its culture and some of their latest UAS concepts.
For the past few years, DARPA has been working on a system called ARGUS-IR, or Autonomous Real-Team Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Infrared, which can take video over an area that is so super high resolution — 1.8 gigapixels — it would take a fleet of 100 Predator drones to produce the same images.
A PBS documentary last year explored the program, which uses hundreds of cell phone cameras linked together into a sophisticated rig. Mounted underneath an RQ-4 Global Hawk for example, ARGUS could loiter over an area at 17,500 feet and capture images as small as six inches square on the ground, effectively being able to tell the color of the shirt you are wearing.
It’s pretty incredible — and somewhat scary — stuff.
Current infrared systems either have a narrow field of view, slow frame rates or are low resolution. DARPA’s Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance – Infrared (ARGUS-IR) program will break this paradigm by producing a wide-field-of-view IR imaging system with frame rates and resolution that are compatible with the tracking of dismounted personnel at night. ARGUS-IR will provide at least 130 independently steerable video streams to enable real-time tracking of individual targets throughout the field of view. The ARGUS-IR system will also provide continuous updates of the entire field of view for enhanced situational awareness.
In July, the Air Force made the first step toward making ARGUS a reality with the implementation of the Gorgon Stare Increment 2 pod on the MQ-9 Reaper.
Here’s the view from an ARGUS system from 17,500 feet. It can capture a very wide area.
When an operator wants to zoom in, the system places boxes over cars, people, and other objects and tracks them in real time.
Now check out the PBS Nova documentary on the project:
Although “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart pulls no punches when talking foreign policy, specifically that which pertains to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s a strong supporter of the people serving in the military. When American Corporate Partners approached him about mentoring a veteran, he responded by creating the Veteran Immersion Program and taking on 24 veterans instead of one, according to ACP.
The program is a five-week boot camp for veterans looking to break into the entertainment industry. Participants learn first hand about the technical and creative opportunities that exist by working at The Daily Show. The program ends with a career fair with over twenty influential production organizations.
Even though Jon Stewart is ending his run with “The Daily Show,” rumor has it that he’s just getting started with helping veterans.
In the meantime, this video hosted by our very own August Dannehl and Veteran Immersion Program alumni shows the impact the program has had on those who’ve attended.
We all remember sitting around the dinner table as kids, staring down a bunch of vegetables that we didn’t want to eat. Sure, that assortment of broccoli and cauliflower might not be so appetizing, but it’s all worth it for the dessert.
Fast forward to today — you’re lost in the middle of nowhere and your cell phone is dead. You’re searching for a way out of your sticky situation when something crappy happens: your stomach growls with hunger.
What do you do? Luckily, you’ve got options — five of them. These are a few plants that you can eat to fight off starvation. These might not be the chocolate cake you were hoping for, but when you get hungry enough, mama won’t have to tell you twice to eat these.
The yummy broadleaf plantain
This small plant can be identified by its rubbery texture and the parallel veins that run along the leaves. The broadleaf plantain is packed with such vitamin as A, C, and K. Although the entire plant is edible, it’s recommended that you only eat the leaves, as they’re nice and tender.
It’s chow time.
Wild Bee Balm
Mainly identified by its lavender flowers, it grows mostly in dry thickets and woodland edges. Known for its edible leaves, wild bee balm can also be boiled to make for a tasty, pre-bedtime tea.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Found in the deserts of North America, this fruit looks like reddish, purplish pear. Before consuming this potential life-saving plant, be sure to remove all the spines from the outer skin. If you don’t, you’re in for a world of hurt.
This plant grows in woodland areas and is considered dangerous to eat before it’s ripe. Once the fruit has from green and firm to yellow and soft, it’s safe to consume.
Almost too pretty to eat.
This pretty flower is totally edible and is commonly used as an alternative to lettuce. Mallow is loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. You’ll find this plant most often in tropical or subtropical environments and it can be easily identified by its five pink or white petals
As always, be extremely careful if decided to consume one of these plants. It’s possible to have allergies to any new food source.
Then the late 1990s Asian financial crisis hit Thailand. Bangkok’s grand plans for its carrier were significantly hobbled. Commissioned in 1997, the same year the financial crisis struck the country, the Chakri Naruebet — which means “Sovereign of the Chakri dynasty,” the Thai monarchy’s ruling family — was mostly consigned to sitting in port due to lack of funding.
Now, according to The Motley Fool, Asia has plenty of aircraft carriers, as China, India, Japan, and South Korea all have carriers of different sizes. Not wanting to be left out, Singapore is on its way to constructing a carrier too.
All this competition has only made Thailand’s once-proud carrier look like a bizarre reminder of the country’s dysfunction, rather than the symbol of growing prestige that it was intended to be.
According to The Diplomat, Thailand’s AV-8S Matador (Harrier) accompanying jet fleet was withdrawn from service in 2006, leaving Bangkok with an aircraft carrier without aircraft. Thailand experienced a military coup that same year, along with a second one in 2014.
Thailand ordered its aircraft carrier from Spain in 1992. The vessel was commissioned five years later, in 1997
Almost immediately, Thailand ran into budget constraints. The Chakri Naruebet was put to port for the better part of each month and in 2006 its associated air wing was withdrawn. The Harriers are now over 30 years old.
Even while operational, the carrier has been outclassed by the larger vessels of India and China, not to mention the US’s super carrier fleet pictured below. It’s now the smallest functioning aircraft carrier in the world.
Still, despite its shortcomings, the Chakri Naruebet has proved useful in humanitarian missions. The Diplomat notes that the carrier was used after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as well as in rescue operations after flooding in Thailand in 2010 and 2011.
The GI Film Festival is an annual event that introduces new and established filmmakers that honor the stories of the American Armed Forces.
“From the very beginning, it has been about fostering a positive image for men and women in uniform,” said Brandon Millet, co-founder and director of the GI Film Festival. “We’ve expanded that image to also connecting service members to society given that only one percent serve. We want people to come to the event and be highly entertained and walk away with a greater sense of appreciation for what are men and women in uniform do for us on a daily basis and if we accomplish those two missions we’re happy.”
The GI Film Festival is open to filmmakers of every level, from first-timers to veteran directors and producers. Here’s a short video featuring some of the directors, actors, and producers at the GI Film Festival this year:
Easton LaChappelle, a 19-year-old from Cortez, Colorado, has created the most technologically advanced prosthetic the world has ever seen.
LaChappelle began experimenting with robotics when he was 17, creating a moveable robotic arm out of legos and other equipment found in his bedroom. Since then, he and his friends have created Unlimited Tomorrows, a robotics company that specializes in 3D printed prosthetics.
LaChapelle’s prototype possesses a range of motion that is nearly identical to that of a human hand, all controlled by the user’s thoughts. With more than 1,500 military service members having had major limb amputations since 2001, this device may be a game-changer for wounded troops.
And the best part? While most prosthetic limbs cost around $60,000, Chapelle’s prototype was created for only $350. This kid is going places.
To see more of Chapelle and his prosthetic, watch the video below:
In January 2015, Logos announced that the company was issued a second grant to develop a prototype in partnership with Alta. The Logos-Alta team named their concept dirt bike SilentHawk and plan to have an operational prototype in 18 months. Here’s a concept rendering of what it looks like:
According to War Is Boring, the SilentHawk runs on a hybrid-electric drone engine and can use three different fuels – gasoline, diesel, and JP-8, a type of jet fuel. Since the combustion side isn’t silent, operators will have to switch to the electric battery when they want to be stealthy.
DARPA has been interested in silenced motorcycles as stealthy, quick, insertion and extraction vehicles for quite some time. According to Defense Industry Daily, Air Force teams have been shoving dirt bikes out of planes since 2010, and the Marine Corps has been training troops on third party vendors since 2012.
Zero Motorcycles toyed with the idea and developed the Zero MMX, but it didn’t work out. DARPA pulled their funding because the battery only lasted two hours.
With backing by DARPA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a robot that can run 13 mph and jump over obstacles without guidance from a human. A video of it in action was released yesterday, though it doesn’t appear to be running at full speed.
Looks like it’s time to start training. “Terminator” robots are going to be way faster than we ever imagined.
Some of the technology is explained in the video available below.
For more information on the robot, check out the full article on it over at Wired.
Israel responded to a barrage of rockets Thursday with more airstrikes and artillery shells as it called up thousands of reservists for a possible invasion, The Associated Press reports.
The last major Israeli ground offensive into Gaza began on July 17, 2014 — 10 days into a serious conflict with Hamas that would last 50. The ground invasion was the expansion of Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 7 in response to Hamas rocket fire following smaller clashes and elevated tensions.
The invasion that summer was the first significant armed incursion into Gaza since 2009, when Israel and Hamas fought a horrible three-week fight that took over 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.
“We have hit Hamas hard and we will continue to hit Hamas hard,” the Israeli military said on social media as the invasion began. Hamas said the Israelis had “taken a dangerous step,” warning that “the occupation forces will pay a high price.”
Numerous Israeli infantry and artillery units, supported by air and naval assets, entered the Gaza Strip focused on crippling Hamas ability to fire rockets at Israel and destroying the dozens of tunnels used to infiltrate Israel and launch assaults.
Dozens of Palestinians were killed on the first day of the ground offensive, both combatants and civilians, Reuters reported at the time, citing Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Similar to the Biden administration’s official statements on the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, President Barack Obama acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense but said “we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.”
The fighting that followed caused significant devastation inside the Gaza strip.
Almost two weeks into the conflict, the number of fatalities had risen to nearly 400, almost double what it was a few days prior, with Palestinians making up the overwhelming majority of the deaths, The Associated Press reported.
Among Israel’s casualties, the Israeli military also saw losses in the fighting.
The official end of hostilities, however, did not come for almost another month. Israel and the Palestinian militant forces agreed to an unconditional ceasefire on August 26, 2014.
“Palestinians and Israelis were profoundly shaken by the events of the summer of 2014,” a UN report on the bloody conflict said. “In Gaza, in particular, the scale of the devastation was unprecedented.”
UN investigators said that Israel conducted more than 6,000 airstrikes during the conflict while Palestinian militants fired over 6,600 rockets and mortars at Israel.
The report said that 2,251 Palestinians died during the fighting.
Among the dead were 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 299 women and 551 children. Another 11,231 Palestinians were wounded, with at least 10% suffering some form of permanent disability. Israel was critical of some of the report’s findings.
In Israel, six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed, and 1,600 people, including 270 children, suffered injuries as a “tragic result of the hostilities,” the report said.
The UN team acknowledged that the casualty figures collected by the UN, Israel, the Palestinians, and non-governmental organizations vary.
“Regardless of the exact proportion of civilians to combatants,” the UN report argued, “the high incidence of loss of human life and injury in Gaza is heartbreaking.”
There are concerns that another ground offensive could also have devastating results.
Speaking to Insider about past and present conflicts, Israel Defense Force spokeswoman Capt. Libby Weiss told Insider Thursday that “after every operation that the IDF has, there is an extensive process of learning, understanding what took place, and applying those lessons to training and to better preparedness for the future.”
She said that the challenge is that Hamas operates in and around civilian infrastructure in a densely populated area, making it difficult for Israeli forces to target Hamas and ensure its own defense without sometimes affecting civilians.
That said, Weiss stressed that “when it comes to our practices in the Strip, we are obviously very concerned about the impact on the civilian population within Gaza.”
Snipers are highly trained marksmen who can hit a target from incredible distances with high-powered rifles. Their craft requires training in camouflage, infiltration, reconnaissance, observation and more, making them feared in the field.
But at the end of the day it’s about who gets the job done. That’s right – snipers are ranked by confirmed kills.
In the United States, November 11th is the day we commemorate the men and women who swore an oath to protect and defend our constitution against our enemies with service in the military. What is now known as Veterans Day was originally observed for a different reasons than it is today.
To begin with, it was called Armistice day in commemoration of the cease-fire between Germany and the Allied Nations during World War I. Although the war didn’t officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, the real fighting stopped on November 11, 1918 — “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
Bryan Sperry left college football at Kansas State to serve in World War II. At 19, he was an infantryman in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, Sperry returned to the game. He played football in England for a short period before making it back to the states and playing for Kansas University. He and the KU team went on to play in the 1948 Orange Bowl and only lost one game, the Orange Bowl, that whole season.
On April 25, KU held an alumni scrimmage with players from the 1948 team and Sperry, 70 years after his last KU appearance, scored an over 30-yard touchdown. The video of the touchdown is below. For the full story, check out the article in the Kansas City Star.