The Pentagon is taking a firmer grip of the F-35 budget-cutting controls in an attempt to trim down costs in the billion-dollar joint strike fighter program.
The Pentagon has determined that Lockheed Martin’s internal cost-cutting program — the Blueprint for Affordability — doesn’t go deep enough into the supply chain to smaller companies involved in building the F-35 Lightning II. The new effort to trim costs was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Oct. 9.
As a result, over the summer, the Pentagon’s F-35 program office decided not to agree to a contract extension with Lockheed and then last month simply awarded the company a $60 million contract to pursue additional efficiency measures that also gave the government more oversight, the newspaper reported.
Using a contract instead of an agreement among the companies “provides the government with greater insights into the cost-saving efforts,” according to a statement from the Pentagon’s F-35 program office.
Often called the most expensive weapons program in US history, the F-35 is being assembled at the company’s sprawling Fort Worth plant. The Pentagon’s actions come after the defense industry giant hired hundreds of workers at big job fairs in Fort Worth this summer to prepare to increased production of the aircraft. Lockheed has said it plans to add 1,800 workers.
Earlier this year, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson told then-President-elect Trump that she was personally committed to drive down the cost of the F-35 program after Trump said it was “out of control.” He pledged to trim billions of dollars on military contracts once he was in office.
Lockheed doesn’t believe the Pentagon’s actions will impact its efforts to cut costs.
“The government’s decision to fund this next phase of cost-reduction initiatives is a testament to their confidence in our ability to deliver the cost savings, based on the success of the original Blueprint for Affordability projects,” Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s F-35 general manager, told the Wall Street Journal.
Lockheed and its industry partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems announced their plan in 2014 to trim costs by agreeing to invest $170 million over two years on new materials and processes, with Lockheed spending the most.
The Fort Worth plant employs about 14,000 workers, with roughly 8,800 working on the F-35. Hiring of additional workers will stretch out through 2020, company officials said. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and plans call for production to increase to about 160 a year by 2019.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.
According to DefenseNews.com, the Army is desperate to re-build its short-range air-defense capabilities. One big reason is the fact that Russia has become much more aggressive, making the need to deal with planes like the Su-25 Frogfoot close air support plane a distinct possibility.
So, here are some ideas on how America’s military can get some more surface-to-air punch.
Right now, the main system used by the Army for short-range air defense is the FIM-92 Stinger – used on the Avenger air-defense system and by grunts who carry it by hand.
1. The MIM-146 ADATS
This system was looked at by the Army in the 1980s, but at the end of the Cold War it got cancelled. Designation-Systems.net notes that Canada did buy 34 systems.
With a speed of Mach 3, and a range of six miles, ADATS has more reach than the Stinger. Canada deployed it on a M113 chassis – the U.S. Army has lots of those – and also tested a new version on the LAV III, their version of the Stryker, according to the Rheinmetall Defense web site.
2. NASAM and 3. HUMRAAM/CLAWS/SLAMRAAM
The AIM-120 AMRAAM has been a bedrock of American air-to-air capability for the last 25 years. However, Designation-Systems.net notes that Norway lead the way in developing a version used as a surface-to-air weapon.
The Marines tried out a Humvee-mounted version many called HUMRAAM, but was known as CLAWS, for Complimentary Low-Altitude Weapon System. Army-Technology.com reported that the United States Army was looking at a system, of its own called SLAMRAAM. It would seem to be a quick way to get systems in service.
While originally purchased to defense bases in Iraq and Afghanistan against mortars and rockets, C-RAM is based on the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, or “CIWS,” that was intended to kill missiles like the Russian AS-4 Kitchen. Aircraft and helicopters might not be a problem for the system to track, either.
5. RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile
Also a Navy point-defense missile system, the RIM-116 is another option for short-range air defense. According to a Navy fact sheet, it weighs about seven tons, has a 7.9-pound warhead, and is supersonic. Designation-Systems.net notes that it has a range of five nautical miles and infra-red guidance. This would be an excellent complement to the SLAMRAAM or CLAWS.
6. MIM-115 Roland
This is a missile that was widely used by adversaries and allies alike, including France and Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Designation-Systems.net reported that the U.S. tried it out in the 1980s, but never really deployed it. Army-Technology.com adds that the latest version, the VT1, has what amounts to a range of just under seven miles and a speed of almost 2,800 mph. This is probably the most “off-the-shelf” system to purchase — and it would help our allies by lowering the per-unit cost.
Where should you turn if you want to bring down the man? If you want to destroy the pillars of an oppressive society, one of the best places you could turn is, ironically, the U.S. military. It has a guide on how to make land mines, mortar tubes, and even propellants for rockets right at home. TM 31-210 can help you become a full-on anarchist or, as the government would prefer, a resistance fighter in another country.
Joint special operations teams do lots of cool stuff like this, but they also train guerrilla warriors to build rockets. Which, now that we come to think of it, is also cool.
(U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Clayton Cupit)
TM 31-120, the Improvised Munitions Handbook, was originally an annex for a Special Forces manual, and it was always aimed at helping resistance fighters fight against leaders that American administrations didn’t like.
Special Forces soldiers and the occasional CIA spook would show up in foreign countries and help train up locals to conduct operations against enemy regimes, and sometimes they could even drop a few hundred crates of weapons and ammunition.
But U.S. logistics and purchases have serious limitations and drawbacks when it comes to guerrilla operations, especially when the U.S. doesn’t want to get caught helping. If American C-130s are constantly flying over the Cuban countryside dropping crates, then the Castros are going to know just who to blame for any uprisings.
As the handbook says:
In Unconventional Warfare operations it may be possible or unwise to use conventional military munitions as tools in the conduct of certain missions. It may be necessary instead to fabricate the required munitions from locally available or unassuming materials.
So Special Forces soldiers left copies of this handbook. Resistance forces could use any weapons and munitions the Americans dropped off, and then they could make their own landmines out of tin cans. Yeah, the Army published a guide, in 1969, that explained how to make IEDs.
I would say it’s weird that MREs are heated against a “rock or something” while nitric acid instructions specify “rock or can,” but a mistake while making nitric acid could be deadly.
(U.S. Army TM 31-120)
Take the instructions for “PIPE PISTOL FOR 9 MM AMMUNITION”
All you need is a 4-inch length of 1/4-inch steel pipe, a pipe plug, two couplings, a metal strap, two rubber bands, a flat head nail, two wood screws, a piece of wood, a drill, and an 8-inch long rod.
Yup, that’s 14 items. And it only takes 11 steps to modify and assemble them. The pipe becomes a barrel with a little drilling. Slip the nail in as a firing pin, tape the barrel to the wood and cut it into a stock, then use the rubber bands and a nail to turn the metal strap into a cocking hammer.
The guide does caution that you should test the pistol five times with a string from behind a wall before carrying it into a fight.
And many of the schematics and instructions in the book assume that you’ll have some sort of access to actual modern weapons.
For instance, the tin-can landmine is reliant on a fragmentation grenade, same with the shotgun grenade launcher. But the ten recipes for “GELLED FLAME FUELS,” basically a poor man’s napalm, are made almost exclusively from household materials.
The whole handbook is interesting from an engineering, MacGyver, or historical perspective. But, and we shouldn’t have to say this, you should never try any of this at home. First of all, it’s super dangerous. The book is literally a bunch of dangerous chemical experiments complete with explosives. But also, making any of this stuff is a great way to get arrested on suspicion of domestic terrorism.
The US military is currently conducting a massive sealift stress test during which ships will flex atrophied muscles needed to fight a great power conflict.
US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), which oversees important military logistics activities, launched the large-scale “Turbo Activiation” sealift readiness exercise on Sept. 16, 2019, the command announced in a statement Sept. 17, 2019.
While these exercises, which began in 1994, typically include only a handful of ships, the latest iteration will involve 28 vessels from the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and TRANSCOM’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force.
Navy Capt. Kevin Stephens, a TRANSCOM spokesperson, told Defense News that this is the largest training activation on record.
Ships located along the East, West, and Gulf Coasts will have five days to go from reduced operating status to fully crewed and ready for action. The no-notice activations are usually followed by sea trials.
The MSC, according to The War Zone, has 15 roll-on/roll-off (RORO) cargo ships, and MARAD has another 46 ships consisting of 35 RORO ships and 11 special mission ships. The MSC, Defense News reports, also has 26 pre-positioning ships.
These vessels are “maintained in a reserve status in the event that the Department of Defense needs these ships to support the rapid, massive movement of military supplies and troops for a military exercise or large-scale conflict,” TRANSCOM explained in a statement.
There are reportedly another 60 US-flagged commercial ships in the US Maritime Security Program available to serve, but they are not part of the reserve fleets.
These sealift ships would be responsible for moving roughly 90 percent of US Army and Marine Corps equipment abroad for a fight, but this force has been languishing for years.
(US Army photo by Steven J. Mirrer)
“We are not in a good position today,” Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, the director of Strategy, Policy, Programs and Logistics at Transportation Command, said of US sealift capabilities last year, according to USNI News. “We’re on the ragged edge,” Kevin Tokarski, the associate administrator at MARAD, explained at that time. “Foreign countries [especially China] are eclipsing us.”
There are also concerns that in the event of a major great power conflict, the US Navy may not be able to provide enough escorts, given that the service is smaller than it once was.
The ongoing stress test is a critical evaluation of the sealift force’s ability to surge ships, but also the “underlying support network involved in maintaining, manning and operating the nation’s ready sealift forces,” TRANSCOM explained.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
A common debate among veterans and gun enthusiasts revolves around why the United States chose to implement the 5.56mm N.A.T.O. round into service instead of the 7.62mm.
Size, versatility, lethality, and a plethora of other semantics are usually quoted in bars across the nation. The answer to this question does not lie in the science between these two instruments of warfare but in the politics of the world stage.
Behind closed doors, world leaders are not as concerned with the penetration of a round or the distance between troops and their targets, but whether they have enough weaponry in their depots, enough money in their treasuries, and the commitment of their allies to come to their aid.
Immediately after World War II, tensions began to rise between the east and west over liberated territories and how they would be governed. An arms race of atomic proportions had begun. War-torn Europe faced the problem of depleted weapon stores and the financial inability to repulse the expansion of Soviet Communism.
In the wake of World War II, the United States of America commanded over 30,000 overseas bases, marshaled over half of the world’s manufacturing capacity, and owned two thirds of the world’s gold stock. In 1949, the Greatest Generation proposed a strategic solution: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
N.A.T.O. was created in response to failing relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, especially in the case of the reconstruction of Germany. The countries of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal banded together with the United States as its chief architect.
Article 5 of the 14 Articles of the ‘N.A.T.O. Treaty of April 4th, 1949’ most clearly defines the intent of the Organization:
“…an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each o them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” – Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.
Under the persuasive guidance of the United States, N.A.T.O. slowly standardized armaments best suited for American designs than those resembling the Soviet 7.62mm. Who else could argue the case to finance, produce, and export on a scale to rival the Russians? By the 1980s, the 5.56x45mm was adopted as the standard.
From the sands of the Middle East to the deep jungles of South America, the 5.56mm played an integral role in shaping modern warfare. Decades of proxy wars and economic down turn brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Mikhail Gorbachev, President and leader of the Soviet Union, resigned and declared his office extinct on Dec. 25, 1991.
The 5.56mm never got the chance to sing in the halls of the Kremlin, but it was the round that destroyed an empire.
Currently, the United States stands as one of the top weapons suppliers around the world. Its sales include, but are not limited to, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Iraq, and Egypt.
Our allies could always borrow our rounds in an emergency because they already own the same model guns. That is why the U.S. uses the 5.56mm: it’s a tool to be used to enforce our political intentions — one way or another.
With wearable technology, such as Google Glass or Recon Jet, shooters can stand behind a corner and still aim at a target. Not only does the sight stream from the rifle to wearable device, it also streams to mobile phones, tablets, and computers to anyone in the world over the Internet. This makes it easier to share your kills to Facebook rather than tasking your spotter to record video. Just sayin’.
Of course, while TrackingPoint makes real-life shooting seem easier than video game sniping, one should never take skills for granted. After all, it is technology, and technology breaks.
Here’s TrackingPoint’s streaming technology in action:
Soldiers train with M110A1s equipped with SIG Sauer Tango6Ts (U.S. Army).
On September 30, 2020, U.S. Army Contract Command awarded a $77,168,400 contract to SIG Sauer to equip soldiers with the Direct View Optic for use on the M4A1 carbine. The outgoing M150 Rifle Combat Optic, manufactured by Trijicon as the TA31RCO, provides soldiers with a fixed 4x magnification and is effective out to 500 meters. The new DVO allows the end-user to quickly switch between 1x and 6x magnification and boasts an increased effective range of 600 meters.
Introduced by the Army in 2007, the RCO makes up a relatively small portion of the service’s M4 carbine optics. Though equipment varies by unit, the majority of soldiers are issued rifles equipped with the M68 Close Combat Optic. Manufactured by Aimpoint as the CompM2, the CCO was accepted by the Army in 2000 and is a non-magnified red dot reflex sight designed for use with the M4 out to an effective range of 300 meters.
The Army has not said whether or not the DVO will eventually replace the CCO as well. While the CCO excels at close-quarters fighting thanks to its reflex reticle, the Army’s requirement for the DVO stated that, “The DVO will be capable of variable power magnification with minimum magnification of 1.0x with no rounding and maximum magnification greater than or equal to 6.0 power.” The “1.0x with no rounding” is important because it calls for the DVO to provide a true 1x magnification setting; many commercial Low Power Variable Optics provide close to, but not true, 1x magnification. This requirement is given reasoning in the Army’s notice. “Variable power magnification optics combine the capabilities of the non-magnified optic’s ability to engage close quarter targets with a fixed-magnification optic’s ability to detect, recognize, identify, and precisely engage targets at extended ranges,” the Army explained. “This allows the Soldier to have both critical capabilities without the limitations of either non magnified or fixed magnification optics.”
Given these requirements, it would not be unreasonable to think that the Army may try to distribute the DVO across entire infantry squads. After all, the Marine Corps has already done just that with its new Squad Common Optic. On February 23, 2020, the Marine Corps announced that it had awarded a $64,000,000 contract to Trijicon to supply its infantry with the Variable Combat Optical Gunsight 1-8×28 mm rifle scope for use on the M4 carbine and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle weapon systems. The SCO is set to begin replacing the Corps’ RCO during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.
While the exact model of SIG Sauer LPVO is unknown, there is speculation that the DVO may be the company’s Tango6T 1-6×24 mm SFP scope. The Tango6T has already been selected for use on the Army’s M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, a derivative of the Heckler & Kock G28/HK417, and general use by Special Operations Forces.
The contract allows for delivery of the DVO over the next five years. However, it is unknown how many of the new optic the Army plans to acquire from SIG Sauer, further lending to the theory that the DVO may replace the CCO as well.
The Army plans to fly its Vietnam-era workhorse CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter for 100 years by continuously upgrading the platform through a series of ongoing technological adjustments designed to improve lift, weight, avionics and cargo handling, among other things.
The Army goal is to allow the helicopter, which was first produced in the early 1960s, to serve all the way into the 2060s – allowing the aircraft service life to span an entire century.
“Our primary goal is maintaining the CH-47F’s relevance to the warfighter,” Lt. Col. Ricard Bratt said in a special statement to Scout Warrior.
The latest model, called the Chinook F helicopter, represents the latest iteration of technological advancement in what is a long and distinguished history for the workhorse cargo aircraft, often tasked with delivering food, troops and supplies at high altitudes in mountainous Afghan terrain.
Able to travel at speeds up to 170 knots, the Chinook has a range of 400 nautical miles and can reach altitudes greater than 18,000-feet. Its high-altitude performance capability has been a substantial enabling factor in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.
The aircraft is 52-feet long, 18-feet high and able to take off with 50,000 pounds. The helicopter can fly with a loaded weight of 26,000 pounds. In addition, the aircraft can mount at least three machine guns; one from each window and another from the back cargo opening.
The Chinook F is in the process of receiving a number of enhancements to its digital cockpit called the Common Avionics Architecture System, or CAAS, such improved avionics, digital displays, Line Replacement Units, navigational technology, multi-mode radios, software and emerging systems referred to as pilot-vehicle interface. Pilot-vehicle interface involves improved computing technology where faster processor and new software are able to better organize and display information to the crew, allowing them to make informed decisions faster.
By 2018, the Army plans to have a pure fleet of 473 F-model Chinooks. By 2021, the Army plans to field a new “Block 2” upgraded Chinook F which will increase the aircraft’s ability to function in what’s called “high-hot” conditions of 6,000 feet/95-degrees Fahrenheit where lower air pressure makes it more difficult to operate and maneuver a helicopter.
The Block 2 Chinook will also be engineered to accommodate a larger take-off maximum weight of 54,000 pounds, allowing it to sling-load the Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle underneath. This provides the Army with what it calls a “mounted maneuver” capability wherein it can reposition vehicles and other key combat-relevant assets around the battlefield in a tactically-significant manner without need to drive on roads. This will be particularly helpful in places such as Afghanistan where mountainous terrain and lacking infrastructure can make combat necessary movements much more challenged.
The Chinook F is also in the process of getting new rotorblades engineered with composites and other materials designed to give the helicopter an additional 1,500 pounds of lift capability, Army officials explained.
Another key upgrade to the helicopter is a technology called Cargo-On/Off-Loading-System, or COOLS, which places rollers on the floor of the airframe designed to quickly on and off-load pallets of equipment and supplies. This technology also has the added benefit of increasing ballistic protection on the helicopter by better protecting it from small arms fire.
“The COOLS system has been added to the current production configuration and continues to be retrofitted to the existing F fleet. We have completed approximately 50-percent of the retrofit efforts. Since its fielding we made very minor design changes to improve maintainability.
The helicopter will also get improved gun-mounts and crew chief seating, along with a new vibration control system.
“We are finalizing design efforts on an improved vibration control system that, in testing, has produced significant reduction in vibration levels in the cockpit area,” Bratt said.
The F-model includes an automated flight system enabling the aircraft to fly and avoid obstacles in the event that a pilot is injured.
Additional adjustments include the use of a more monolithic airframe engineered to replace many of the rivets build into the aircraft, Army officials said.
“The program is looking at some significant airframe improvements like incorporating the nose and aft sections of the MH-47G (Special Operations Variant) on to the CH-47F. In addition, the program office has conducted an in depth structural analysis with the intent of setting the stage for increased growth capacity of the airframe for future upgrades,” Bratt said.
The CH-47 F program is also planning to add Conditioned-Based Maintenance to the aircraft – small, portable diagnostic devices, which enable aircraft engineers to better predict maintenance needs and potential mechanical failures, service officials said.
The CIRCM system is an improved, lighter-weight version of Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, called ATIRCM, — a high-tech laser jammer that is able to thwart guided-missile attacks on helicopters by using an infrared sensor designed to track an approaching missile. The system fires a multiband heat laser to intercept the missile and throw it off course,
ATIRCM has been fielded now on helicopters over Iraq and Afghanistan. CIRCM, its replacement, lowers the weight of the system and therefore brings with it the opportunity to deploy this kind of laser counter-measure across a wider portion of the fleet.
Chinooks are also equipped with a combat-proven protective technology called Common Missile Warning System, or CMWS; this uses an ultraviolet sensor to locate approaching enemy fire before sending out a flare to divert the incoming fire from its course.
Finally, over the years there have been several efforts to engineer a small-arms detection system designed to locate the source of incoming enemy small-arms fire to better protect the aircraft and crew.
An air-to-air left side view of an F-4 Phantom II aircraft in formation with an F-15 Eagle aircraft. The F-4 has a tow target mounted under its left wing.
The distinctive design of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 is most commonly associated with the Vietnam War. But when Operation Desert Storm launched in February 1991, the Air Force needed an aircraft for Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.
It looked to its old reliable weapon, the F-4G Wild Weasel.
For those who don’t know, the F-4 Phantom II earned the nickname ‘Wild Weasel’ during the Vietnam War, when its job was to flush hidden surface-to-air missile sites by purposely getting targeted by their radar tracking systems, tracing the radar to its source and then helping destroy the SAM battery.
Not surprisingly, the motto of the Wild Weasels became “YGBSM,” short for “You Gotta Be S***ting Me.”
By the time of the Gulf War in 1991, the Air Force wasn’t flying the same F-4 they flew in Vietnam, not exactly. The F-4G was a rebuilt version of the F-4E, specially designed for tracking enemy radar and SAM batteries.
American air power focused on knocking out Iraqi SAM positions all over the country in order to give coalition aircraft total superiority above 10,000 feet.
One of the primary means for destroying Iraqi SAM missile sites was the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) that flies twice the speed of sound, using a specialized targeting system that follows radar signals. By targeting the F-4G, Iraqis would be ensuring their own destruction.
During the first four hours of the air war of Operation Desert Storm, American F-4G Wild Weasels reported more than 100 radar pings from Iraqi SAM sites. That number soon became 15. And soon after, it was only “sporadic.”
When a pilot fires a HARM, they announce it over the radio using the phrase “magnum.” It’s estimated that “magnum” was called on the radio 200 times simultaneously during the first hours of the Gulf War.
After the first few days, Air Force pilots who got hit from enemy radar systems only had to call the word “magnum” over the radio, even without actually firing the HARM, for the enemy to quickly shut down their weapons completely.
The air war over Iraq was partially successful because 95% of Iraqi early warning radar was either knocked out or voluntarily shut off from the threat of a Wild Weasel attack. Though the U.S. controlled the skies within 24 hours of the start of Desert Storm, the Air Force still launched 116,000 sorties over 42 days in the effort to expel Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army from Kuwait.
Nuclear-powered submarines are considered one of the most lethal weapons in the American arsenal and have been protecting it citizens for decades from deep down in the dark oceans. You can’t see them, but they are out there defending the United States and hunting the enemy.
In modern times, many subs have the ability to dive over 170 meters, stay below the water line for up to six months without resurfacing, and can operate for 20-years before having to refuel.
The Ohio Class is the largest submarine in the US fleet and must deliver enough oxygen to the men aboard the well-designed vessel for months while remaining cloaked for days or weeks in the ocean’s depths.
On average, each crew member needs 12 cubic meters of oxygen every single day to function — or more, depending on their level physical activity.
Typical vessels would have to come up for air every seven days, but with the innovative scientific method of extracting oxygen from the seawater that surrounds them, today’s subs can stay under much longer.
Modern submarines now use a process known as electrolysis to separate water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, thus creating the components for breathable air.
There are a lot of valid criticisms of most weapon programs while they’re in development, but some get hit with the dreaded title of “boondoggle,” a massive waste of taxpayer funds that should be canceled. But some boondoggles prove the naysayers wrong and go on to have successful careers protecting U.S. troops and killing enemies. Here are 5 of the weapons that ascended:
But the F-14 ended up proving itself in U.S. service over Libya, Iraq, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, but it really dominated in Iranian service back when they were a U.S. ally. In all, the F-14 is thought to have a 164-to-1 record of air-to-air kills and losses. The number is a little soft, though, since it takes data from multiple services including Iran.
The B-1 Bomber bucked the trend of bomber design in the late 1960s. Most were focused on faster, higher-flying bombers that could fly over enemy air defenses and outrun fighter taking off for intercepts. But the B-1 was envisioned as a low-flying bomber that would maneuver through air defenses instead. But the costly development was controversial, and the B-1 bomber was canceled in 1977.
It turns out that around the same time Russia claimed that its MiG-31 successor would fly in space, it also claimed that not only its next generation T-14 Armata tank, but the entire Armata armored vehicle series, will be able to run on Mars.
“Magic Starter: Armata Engines Make It Fit For Martian Temperature” was the headline of an article from Sputnik in late August.
“Russia’s Armata tanks and armored vehicles are to receive mobile power stations to ensure immediate and smooth engine starts at temperatures of even minus 50 degrees Celsius,” Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet, said.
The Armata Universal Combat Platform is a new series of Russian tracked armored vehicles that have interchangeable hulls and parts. The vehicles have not been mass produced yet, but the series, which was unveiled in 2015, supposedly includes the T-14 tank, the T-15 (the next generation “Terminator”), the T-16, the huge Koalitsiya-SV, and maybe more.
Essentially, Sputnik is claiming that the Armata engines will run on Mars because they have new super-condensers, similar to start-stop technology, that allow the engines to start in temperatures as low as -58 Fahrenheit.
But, as The National Interest pointed out, not only is the average temperature on Mars at -80 Fahrenheit, and it can even get as low as -195 Fahrenheit, but the internal-combustion engine would also probably not be able to handle the Martian atmosphere.
To back up their claim, Sputnik cited an article from Izvestia, in which a spokesperson for Renova, the Russian company that made the engines, was quoted saying the engines started with dead batteries in -50 degree temperatures.
Neither Izvestia, nor the spokesperson for Renova — which are both private Russian companies, unlike MiG, which is majority owned by the Russian government — said that the engines or vehicles would run on Mars.
Yahoo News even reported on Sept. 11 that the FBI is investigating whether Sputnik is “an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin.”
Still, back in the real world, these super-condensers might be a beneficial advancement, as they free up a lot of space in the Armata vehicles for more ammunition and will obviously make them well-suited for cold climates, like the Arctic.
And it’s not exactly clear if the US’ M1 Abrams engine has comparable technology, The National Interest reported.
Once you enter your password to access your accounts, you might imagine the website dusting off its hands in satisfaction that its verification process is complete and that, yes, it now knows it was you who just logged in and not an imposter.
But it doesn’t stop there — websites and the companies behind them often monitor your behavior as a security measure, too.
“We look into behavioral biometrics,” Etay Maor, a security advisor at IBM Security, told Business Insider. “We’ve been doing this for years … most of the industries I talk to look into these things.”
Behavioral biometrics are similar to regular biometrics, like fingerprints. But instead of recognizing a fingerprint, your actions and behavior within a website or app where you have an account with sensitive information are monitored to authenticate you.
You’ve probably encountered some examples of behavioral biometrics. For example, if you’ve ever seen an alert that says “You’re logging in from a device you don’t usually use,”where a website recognizes that you’re logging in from a new device.
There’s also location-based security alerts, where your account is being accessed from a location that you don’t typically frequent. Someone recently tried to access one of my accounts from Kuala Lumpur, but I was in bed in Connecticut when this attempt happened. I got an alert, and took the appropriate actions to better secure that account.
But there are other forms of behavioral biometrics that occur while you’re using an app or when you’re in your online accounts, and you likely have no idea it’s happening.
The way you move your mouse once you log in, how fast you swipe around an app, what you typically do within an app or website, and even the angle at which you hold your phone are being monitored, and they’re examples of behavioral biometrics.
Even when you’re not using your devices, behavioral biometrics are in play. In fact, not using your devices is a biometric in itself. If your bank account was hacked while you’re asleep and fraudulent transactions are being made, for example, banks can tell that the devices you usually use are offline. Your phone might be laying still and flat (because it’s on your bedside table) and your laptop is in sleep mode. From that information, and considering the activity going on, a bank might suspect that something is awry, and it can push out an alert of suspicious activity.
Indeed, your behavior is unique to you, like a fingerprint. And it’s more secure than passwords, PINs, and even your actual fingerprint, according to Maor.
“Passwords are not secure today because there are so many ways for hackers to guess and generate passwords. We’re in weird stage where passwords are becoming harder for a human to remember and yet still extremely easy for a machine or algorithm to guess,” Maor said.
Microsoft will make it an option to use passwords and encourage users to use PIN numbers instead, which the company argues are more secure.
That’s why Microsoft is ditching the common password and is encouraging users to log into Windows 10 using PINs and its Windows Hello facial recognition, where that data is stored in your devices. The company argues that on-device storage for security data is more secure than passwords stored in a company’s servers.
Still, even PINs and standard biometrics aren’t the ultimate in security. “If it’s something that a human knows or remembers, an attacker can extract that,” Maor said, whether it’s by hacking or social engineering, where an attacker can convince you to give them your password by, say, pretending to be tech support for a website.
Even regular biometrics like fingerprints and irises can be socially engineered out of you. At the end of the day, passwords, PINs, and standard biometrics won’t stop a “determined attack.”
With behavioral biometrics, your typical behavior isn’t something that can be easily replicated. “An attacker can’t extract your mouse movement, or your behavior from you. Maybe to a certain extent, but that’s a totally different level of attack,” Maor said.
It seems spooky, and it raises privacy concerns. And Maor recognizes that. “It sounds a bit Orwellian because it sounds like you’re being followed all the time. But yeah, as soon as you go into the website, we try to protect you by making sure it really is you without you knowing that we’re doing this.”
Behavioral biometrics also have a practical use, as they’re simply less annoying than traditional authentication methods, like remembering passwords or multi-factor authentication. Behavioral metrics that take place under the radar offer a better experience while also keeping you more secure. Maor argues that if a company tries to authenticate you by making it too difficult or time consuming to enter your account, you’ll go to another company or service.
Still, passwords, PINs, and fingerprints are still necessary first lines of defence, but they’re only used to identify you. The real security that’s used to authenticate you happens in the background, without you even knowing.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.