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The Military Technology

Smithsonian Gets Military UAVs 148

NetworkWorld is reporting that a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is featuring some of the military's more prominent UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). In addition to the vehicles themselves, a large number of supporting technologies are also on display. "Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used by all four military branches for missions ranging from reconnaissance and surveillance to attack and each branch is represented in this exhibit: Predator, DarkStar, X-45A (Air Force); Shadow 200 (Army); Dragon Eye (Marine Corps); and Pioneer (Navy)."
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Smithsonian Gets Military UAVs

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @02:33PM (#23227782) Homepage
    It's funny that this is the second story on Slashdot in a row about military technology. For me, this shows an interesting dichotomy in how military issues are treated here. On one hand, us nerds show certain tendencies to pacifism, especially with the current war in Iraq. War, in a Star Trek sense, is often seen as belonging to a backward age of Man. On the other hand, among the nerd community there has always been an admiration of military technological advances and the efficiency of military organization. Look at the long popularity of Heinlein's Starship Troopers [amazon.com] , for example.
    • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @02:37PM (#23227838)
      Although war is bad (though, depending on your viewpoint, a necessary evil), some of the tools of war (UAVs, etc) are engineering marvels. An example would be the SR-71 blackbird.
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <`imipak' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Monday April 28, 2008 @02:54PM (#23228096) Homepage Journal
      That tends to be because the military get substantial funding for research and for recruiting the best minds. If the US Government put a trillion or so a year into civilian road car development, Slashdot would look more like Automart. Likewise, if they boosted Linux development by that amount, you'd be able to download it as a neural implant by now. The reason development accelerates in wartime is because Governments underfund research whenever possible, but the military (as much as I distrust them) have a much better grasp of the importance of such work.
    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:00PM (#23228182)
      There are plenty of "us nerds" that are far from being pacifists.
      Pacifism is fine in Moms basement. It equals "surrender" everywhere else, because it is only effective against people who aren't serious in the first place.

      "Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."
                          Robert Anson Heinlein
      • by Alinabi ( 464689 )

        Pacifism [...] is only effective against people who aren't serious in the first place.
        Like the British Empire, for example.
      • Um, I would point out that Heinlein was a science FICTION author. Reality much?
        • "Um, I would point out that Heinlein was a science FICTION author. Reality much?"

          Ad hominem much?
          Now try attacking his statement. :)
          • I did attack his statement. I'm saying that as part of work of FICTION it need have no basis in reality. Attacking Heinlein would be ad-hominem.
      • Or my favorite version of the old saying: "If violence isn't solving your problems, then you're just not using enough of it."
      • There are plenty of "us nerds" that are far from being pacifists.

        Ayup. And I'm probably not alone in being a nerd who is a veteran. (Volunteered and served back when being in the military wasn't "cool" like now. Ten years in the US Submarine Service.)
    • by ArmyOfFun ( 652320 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:06PM (#23228260)
      As with most things, The Onion has already tapped this comedy vein:
      Peace Activist Has To Admit Barrett .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Is Pretty Cool [theonion.com]
      • As with most things, The Onion has already tapped this comedy vein: Peace Activist Has To Admit Barrett .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Is Pretty Cool

        As I just had the opportunity to fire a few .50 BMG rounds through a Barrett Model 95 this past Friday, I can attest that it is indeed immensely cool! There is very little recoil, but an impressive shock wave smacks you after each shot. I challenge any man to fire this gun and not walk away smiling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX ( 229973 )
      The reason you have your beloved Internet is because of military technology. Most good stuff comes from the military. And porn.
    • Let's see... the military finances a lot of neat techie things (ARPANET, Satellites, etc.), this is a blog about new techie things... is it really hard to make that connection?
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:27PM (#23228518) Homepage Journal
      Well, the military gets the money to buy the toys; if we moved, say, 20% of the military tech budget into space exploration, that would be a lot sexier right now.

      This is one of the things the general public doesn't understand about nerds/geeks/whatever you call people who are defined by enthusiasms for difficult to understand things. Geeks differentiate between the utility of things as objects of study, and their intended utility, as any computer security researcher would tell you.

      So just because you are fascinated by things that go boom doesn't mean you want to see them used on people. In fact, it's only idiots who like to play with explosives. The geek aspect of the game is doing things that would be stupid for other people, but not for you because you know exactly what is safe and what is not.

      As far as geek militarism/pacifism goes, it seems to follow a pendulum like with everyone else, with the geeks being a bit ahead of the curve. You wouldn't be a geek exactly if your way of looking at things made you fit in.

      Geeks are just smarter than the average populace. They aren't necessarily wiser. The very basis of wisdom is accepting that you might be wrong. Some people are so good at arguing and so used to being more right than their neighbor that they never have to confront their own fallibility. So geeks can represent both the best and worst humanity has to offer, the most enlightened viewpoints and the most stubbornly insular.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by R2.0 ( 532027 )
        "Well, the military gets the money to buy the toys; if we moved, say, 20% of the military tech budget into space exploration, that would be a lot sexier right now."

        Social Security took up 20.2% of the 2007 federal budget. Defense took up 19%. By your logic, most geeks would be turned on by granny porn.

        Not that there's anything wrong with that...
        • by hey! ( 33014 )
          Wow, that was an incredible piece of irrelevant observation. Yes, indeed, if we moved the social security budget into space exploration, then the space program would be more interesting to geeks than it is now, because it would be developing more technology. You, however, seem to think I'm arguing geeks are interested in things that money is being spent upon. Obviously, that's not true, otherwise we'd be fascinated by federal flood insurance.

          I'm just refuting the notion that geeks are necessarily militari
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Russ Nelson ( 33911 )

        The very basis of wisdom is accepting that you might be wrong. Some people are so good at arguing and so used to being more right than their neighbor that they never have to confront their own fallibility.
        Yeah, I used to think that, but I was wrong .... so wrong.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )
          Correction -- you might have been wrong. You might still be wrong now. Keep trying, and you'll get there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      On one hand, us nerds show certain tendencies to pacifism, especially with the current war in Iraq. War, in a Star Trek sense, is often seen as belonging to a backward age of Man.

      Haha that reminds of a song!

      Star Trek'n

      Captain James T. Kirk

      "We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, We come in peace, shoot to kill, Scotty beam me up!"

      If you mean nerd as in a WOW/ART/Music/Myspace Nerd, then yes I might agree with you. They are typically a notch or two on the evolutionary sca

      • While I'm not sure if we'd drop the nuke on France, given than in Starship Troopers they had nuclear hand grenades, most of the rest makes sense.
        • That was in the movie, in the book the nukes were small shoulder launched rockets.

          Anyway in a ST world France wouldn't exist anyway since if you weren't willing to do service in the military you pretty much were bred out of the human race since "Civilians" were only allowed to have 1 child per couple.

          France as a country wouldn't have lasted for two generations at the most before there weren't enough people around anymore to be called French.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shmlco ( 594907 )
            "Anyway in a ST world France wouldn't exist anyway since if you weren't willing to do service in the military you pretty much were bred out of the human race since "Civilians" were only allowed to have 1 child per couple."

            Got a reference for that one? As I recall, in the book you needed military service in order to gain your franchise (the ability to vote). Everyone had to serve for a limited period in som fashion (e.g. public service), but only military service conferred the vote.

            So if you wanted a say in
            • They threw it out there in the movie. Rico's parents were civilians and he was an only child and later one of the female troopers in the infamous shower scene mentioned she wanted to have a litter of kids. I'm pretty sure it was in the book as well, or at least in some side Q & A with Heinlein, but its been a while so I don't know for sure.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        10/21 The rest of the world, in a "surprise" strike, nukes the US back to the stone age, and then, for a good measure, again, back to the primordial slime age. All US citizens abroad, all their spouses, children and anyone who says a word of sympathy towards them are then hunted down, tried, and duly executed.

        Following which the world takes a few decades to get over the latest of the failed hegemonic empires to stink up the planet Earth, after it has joined the ranks of the like of Rome and Ghingis Khan in

        • 10/21 The rest of the world, in a "surprise" strike, nukes the US back to the stone age, and then, for a good measure, again, back to the primordial slime age. All US citizens abroad, all their spouses, children and anyone who says a word of sympathy towards them are then hunted down, tried, and duly executed.

          After which they'll start nuking each other just to make sure that nobody gets any funny ideas.

          • That would pretty much be in line with the idiotic premise of "the more nukes you have - the more right you are" that the GP was proposing. It can only lead to everyone nuking everyone else.

        • by e2d2 ( 115622 )
          Yes and history would "march on", right into another empire. Most likely Russia or China or Europe lording over everyone. But let me guess, in this "what goes around comes around" view, the world has once and for all rid itself of elitist bent on world domination by this sneak attack right?

          What is most insane is the view that the US is somehow the "most" evil, when in fact right now in every country elitists strive to control the populace through fear, oppression, and outright murder.

          Name a country and I wi
          • Yes and history would "march on", right into another empire. Most likely Russia or China or Europe lording over everyone. But let me guess, in this "what goes around comes around" view, the world has once and for all rid itself of elitist bent on world domination by this sneak attack right?

            Of course. That is why my bet on the humanity outgrowing its own idiocy is still 10:1 against.

            What is most insane is the view that the US is somehow the "most" evil, when in fact right now in every country elitists stri

            • by e2d2 ( 115622 )
              Apologies, I looked at your post first and GP was filtered.

              I love your odds on humanity outgrowing it's own idiocy, I wish I was around to cash in because they seem pretty good. :-D

              I think what's really insane is that there are people like GP in America who have a very thin grasp of reality, how thin America's "power" really is and how it relies on such blinded views to continue.
        • Following which the world takes a few decades to get over the latest of the failed hegemonic empires to stink up the planet Earth, after it has joined the ranks of the like of Rome and Ghingis Khan in the realm of the past tense. And history marches on.

          Well if the US longevity is anything like Rome's you are going to have to put up with us for another 1000 years or so.

          • Maybe, maybe not. Rome had a lot of other things going for it (such as very slow communications) and by today's standards a minuscule population density.

            The point was however that all, even the longest lasting, empires crumble eventually. And in the case of the USA the cracks are all over the place already, or you haven't been watching news lately.

        • Wow I didn't know they let people in the looney bin post on /.

          I write a tongue in cheek post just to be silly and you respond with an Al Qaeda "The Great Satan must die" thread.

          I do find it funny when I get responses from belligerent supreme-penis envyists with their big big wet dreams that some how their little 3rd world country will become more than a tourist trap for Europeans who come to see the ancient archtecture, which the current populous's ancestors had nothing to do with building because they

          • LOL.

            And here I thought that I was responding to a closet US-ian supremacist, who out of poorly disguised rage and frustration that the UN and the rest of the world dares to be disobedient and not submissive enough was "tongue-in-cheek" proposing a "solution": nuke em all! (Ha, Ha, Hee, Hee, Ho, Ho, A knee-slapper!).

            I simply responded in the same vein, to demonstrate what all of these comedic wargasm "war-hawks" always forget to mention: the step 2 of their wet dream, titled "Most of the time, instead of f

        • Following which the world takes a few decades to get over the latest of the failed hegemonic empires to stink up the planet Earth, after it has joined the ranks of the like of Rome and Ghingis Khan in the realm of the past tense. And history marches on.

          I agree that the Roman and Mongol empires ultimately came to an end, but I don't see how they "stink up the earth". Although both of these empires were brutal and expansionist at times, they both had admirable qualities and made significant contributions.

          • Although both of these empires were brutal and expansionist at times, they both had admirable qualities and made significant contributions.

            That depends on your answer to this question: would the same "admirable qualities" be acquired in time by the conquered peoples on their own, without the empire first murdering scores of them and enslaving the rest? And no, the supposedly more rapid time frame is not important, as bloody and fast "progress" is definitely worse then the slow and peaceful variety.

            The Ame

            • That depends on your answer to this question: would the same "admirable qualities" be acquired in time by the conquered peoples on their own, without the empire first murdering scores of them and enslaving the rest? And no, the supposedly more rapid time frame is not important, as bloody and fast "progress" is definitely worse then the slow and peaceful variety.

              I agree that peaceful progress is far better than progress brought about by subjugation, but I disagree with your assertion that the time frame is

              • ... but I disagree with your assertion that the time frame is not important. I don't think that we can change each other's opinion on that.

                All that remains for you to do then is to explain how getting literacy at the expense of half of your village murdered horribly, but in a period of 5 years is far superior to you developing literacy over the period of say, two generations, but without all the rape, pillaging and disemboweling for fun.

                I always wandered how the "speed of progress" or "speed of growth" o

      • by dodobh ( 65811 )
        10/17 France responds with nuclear strikes. The US suffers massive casualties, and retaliates in kind.
        10/19 Nuclear winter: day 1
    • It was my understanding that the military geek was more a specific sub-type (in Japan they are called gunji otaku [wikipedia.org]) rather than a contradiction in terms.

    • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @04:38PM (#23229358) Homepage
      Efficiency? You mean like designing and building four different UVAs for each branch of the US military? You mean like designing a computer language for its own projects that nobody else uses (Ada)?

      Don't get me started about government efficiency.
      • Efficiency? You mean like designing and building four different UVAs for each branch of the US military?

        It's interesting - normally the Slashdot Mantra is that competition is a Good Thing by definition. Why not here? Now four may be a bit excessive - but you need at least two, probably three, because USN/USMC have different requirements than the Army/USAF. USN/USMC UAV's must operate off of carriers and LHxs and thus must be corrosion resistant and smaller. OTOH, the Army and USAF have different requir

    • On one hand, us nerds show certain tendencies to pacifism
      [citation needed]

      It is true that all nerds believe "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent," however not all subscribe to the Asimovian interpretation that it means the use of violence is a sign of incompetence -- a good many take the Piperian stance that it means that the competent don't wait until the last extreme to resort to violence.
  • There's five branches in the U.S. military. Four in the Department of Defense, and one in the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by techpawn ( 969834 )
      Coast Guard? Coast Guard is the strange cousin of the Military. They invite him to the family get together but you know they talk about him when he's not in ear shot.
      Don't get me wrong. I respect the men and women who do it, I don't want to be on the water like that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Solandri ( 704621 )

        Coast Guard? Coast Guard is the strange cousin of the Military. They invite him to the family get together but you know they talk about him when he's not in ear shot.

        Prior to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, the US Coast Guard was part of the Treasury Department (along with Customs and Border Patrol) during peacetime, and transferred to the Department of Defense during times of war. e.g. During Desert Storm (Iraq War I), the Coast Guard was transferred to the DoD and some of its ships

      • I'm not going to debate how 'military' the CG is or isn't, but they are part of the US military by legal definition, if not by public usage.
    • There's five branches in the U.S. military. Four in the Department of Defense, and one in the Department of Homeland Security.

      In your snarkiness, you were partly right (since you left out the Coast Guard), even as you knew you were wrong about DHS. If you're going down that road, why not say that Agriculture Department is part of the DoD, since pilots have to eat? Or that the IRS is just the revenue collecting branch of the military? Or that Nancy Pelosi is part of the military since it's something she t
      • Well, unless of course you're not trolling, and decided to be REALLY oblique about the Coast Guard. Which isn't exactly how that played, is it? Most people here don't like the necessary interaction between, and sharing of intel between the domestic activities of the DHS and the military intel people. Well, unless they can complain that sharing it badly is a defect of whatever administration they don't like, in which case sharing correctly is goood... but otherwise it's bad, see? One must slashdottify one's
      • Unless I'm missing something, or not comprehending something correctly, in your response, the U.S. Coast Guard is structured under the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to the existence of DHS, it was part of the Department of Transportation. FWIW.

      • In your snarkiness, you were partly right (since you left out the Coast Guard), even as you knew you were wrong about DHS.

        The Coast Guard is part of DHS. So you're either not paying attention to the last five years or you're trolling.

        And in response to your other post about what constitutes "military", it's a service which uses military rate & rank structure & is subject to the UCMJ. Of which there are five branches in the US - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. There's two othe

    • Four. Three in the Department of Defense, and one in the Department of Homeland Security. Unless you can name the Secretary of the Marine Corps for me.
      • So if that's your definition, there's only three. However, the legal definition in the US (if not the public use one) is a uniformed service that falls under the UCMJ, of which there are five.

        As an aside, if you're trying to imply that the Marine Corps is part of the Navy, you're either a former squid yourself or just trying to start a fight. Possibly both. :)

        • by Tacvek ( 948259 )
          The Marine Corps can be considered part of the Navy. However, this is true only if the Navy is considered part of the Marine Corps. They are run by the same department, and share resources far more closely than other branches. The Marine Corps primarily relies on the Navy for transportation, just as the Navy primarily relies on the Corps for their ground forces. One could not really argue that one is a subset of the other, but neither completely stands alone.
    • Actually, there are just three -- Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Marines are a subset of the navy consisting of people too dumb to know that ground troops belong in the Army. The Coast Guard can be militarized in times of war, but they aren't at present.
    • There's five branches in the U.S. military. Four in the Department of Defense, and one in the Department of Homeland Security.

      There are five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (defined in 10 USC 101(a)(4)) and seven branches of the U.S. uniformed services (defined in 10 USC 101(a)(5)) (the two not included in the Armed Forces being in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce). The uniformed services that are not part of the armed forces were specifically created as uniformed

  • Time to visit the Smithsonian, take lots of pictures, and reverse engineer a couple of my own. :D
    • Yeah, but you'd have to leave the basement to do so. I've heard there's a daystar that burns you if you venture outdoors. Much easier to just use Google Earth for all your domestic spying needs.

  • I was actually at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum [si.edu] a week ago. The museum overall is simply fantastic--a must see for any die-hard geek. Actually, the Air and Space is split into two parts: a museum in downtown DC [si.edu] that has some planes and the lunar re-entry vehicles; and a larger hangar [si.edu] near the airport (Dulles, in Virginia) that has larger planes and space vehicles (including the Space Shuttle Enterprise [wikipedia.org]). Best of all, the Smithsonian Museums all have free admittance. (I probably sound like an ad for t
    • I'm definitely putting _them_ on my must-see list for when I visit the USA next time (dunno when that'll be, but it will happen). I am particularly interested in the UAVs, but I doubt the exhibit will still be up by the time I'll get over to yankeeland. I'll definitely try to come by the end of the year, though.

      Other geek-friendly places to see?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
      • by rikkards ( 98006 )
        The wife and I decided to go to DC last July and had a great time. We only rented a car one day and it was to go to the Dulles arm of the Air and Space and a outlet mall. The entire time we were there we relied on the Subway and taxis. All of the Smithsonian museums are free to get in. The only one I know of that costs is the Spy museum which is privately run if I recollect.
    • I totally agree, having the Smithsonian Museums within driving distance is one of the best parts about living in the Northern VA / Maryland area.

      It's worth noting that the charge for parking at the Dulles Air and Space annex.
    • by jfinke ( 68409 )
      I went to the one by Dulles a couple of years ago. They were actually having an air show at the time, which made it pretty cool.

      One of the things they were doing inside was putting together a UAV so you could see the packaging it came in and how quickly a team could get the thing put together and ready for flight.

      The museum is way cool if you have any interest in flight. There are a lot of historic aircraft there including a Blackbird, Rutan's first Cozy, adn like the poster above stated, the Enterpri

    • Just to pile on, about 2 years or so ago I drove my parents down to the Dulles branch (my mom suggested we go so I drove). The real issue was that there were some ham related (as in amateur radio) satellites and exhibits on display and she wanted to surprise my dad when he saw it (K3SZH for anyone that is interested).

      In the same room as the shuttle, they have a cut away of a V2 rocket engine bell which allows you to see the channels the liquid fuel went through when it cooled the bell before being consumed
  • They use them more now than the little electric carts with six wheels. They go through the gate and can fly and some have little missles that can take out small squads of Jaffa really quickly.

  • UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)

    Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

    Was that really necessary? :p

  • From the article:

    On one notable mission, a group of Iraqi fighters surrendered to the [UAV] as it flew over their heads. Marines were directed to their position, where they then captured the fighters.


    Ahhh ha ha. Suckers.
    • From the article:

      On one notable mission, a group of Iraqi fighters surrendered to the [UAV] as it flew over their heads. Marines were directed to their position, where they then captured the fighters.

      Ahhh ha ha. Suckers.

      The UAV was supplying live feed to a US battleship for targeting coordinates. This was the second UAV to fly over them. Just previously they had received some presents curtesy of the USS Wisconsin's and USS Missouri's 16 inch guns. They decided they wanted to live. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Wisconsin_(BB-64)#Gulf_War [wikipedia.org]

    • Watch this [dodvclips.mil] and tell me if you think those guys would have been suckers to surrender to the UAV.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CompMD ( 522020 )
      See? Some people do welcome their robotic overlords.
  • they should try and get their hands on the uk 'bugger off' drone

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/26/phoenix_says_goodbye/ [theregister.co.uk]

    if only so future generations can learn how not to make a drone.
  • But I'm wondering...why no Frogstar Fighter?
  • I wonder if this could have any impact on operational security.

    Obviously, someone vetted putting these on display, so I'm likely wrong ... it's just hard not to wonder if being able to walk into a museum and take photos and whatever of something deployed in an operational theater mighn't be problematic.

    Then again, I'm sure all of the good bits like avionics have been stripped, so the carcass of the drones probably doesn't tell you much.

    Cheers
    • Well, to tell you the truth (and as someone who has worked on some of these wonders), there isn't much to learn by looking at them.

      They are essentially airplanes. I shouldn't say that- they _are_ airplanes, plain and simple. There just isn't a crew compartment. You could easily build one with a little money to buy the fiberglass and graphite and Epon and Rolls Royce engine. No biggy.

      The problem has never been, "How do I build an airplane?"; It has always been, "How do I build a reliable autonomous/remote-co
  • New? (Score:3, Informative)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:55PM (#23228808) Journal
    Not sure how new this is, we were there well over a month ago and it was already there.

    I found it underwhelming - I mean, instead of an interesting exhibition on some of the capabilities of UAVs and how significantly they are changing the tactical landscape, it was just a few UAVs hanging at one end of the hall. (shrug).

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