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The Military Technology

The Future of Battle Tech 122

PolygamousRanchKid tips a story about research into futuristic military technology currently being funded by DARPA. The Disc-Rotor Compound Helicopter 'is propelled by rotor blades that extend from a central disc, letting it take off and land like a helicopter. But those blades can also retract into the disc, minimizing drag and letting the Disc-Rotor fly like a plane, powered by engines beneath each wing.' The Vulture program aims to keep a plane in the sky for five years or more, and 'LANdroids' are pocket-sized robots which soldiers can scatter around urban areas to seed a communications network. FastRunner is a 'two-legged robot that can cover a moderately rough terrain as fast as the best human sprinters.' The article mentions the flying humvees we've discussed in the past, as well as projects for 'smart' binoculars and a method for recycling space junk.
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The Future of Battle Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:28PM (#38400830)

    I want to hear about recent ferro-fib developments leading to overall Steiner Scouting Party weight reduction as a means to increase troop transit efficiency against Davion forces.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:28PM (#38400838)

    Going to be very big in future wars.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      DARPA needs to be defunded, we don't need to waste anymore $$$ in military tech.

      • Yeah, who wants flying cars, high-speed aircraft, or rapidly deployed distributed wireless communications anyways?
        • Re:pointy sticks (Score:5, Insightful)

          by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:54PM (#38401256) Journal

          I think you're suggesting the only way we could have these things is if DARPA comes up with them. There's some history behind you, but, seriously, peaceful civilian tech doesn't have to originate with the military.

          Cars, aircraft, and wireless communications all originated outside the military. Wars are the worst possible reason for government funding of tech improvements.

          • Re:pointy sticks (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:25PM (#38401684)

            Cars, aircraft, and wireless communications all originated outside the military. Wars are the worst possible reason for government funding of tech improvements.

            Correct. But all those things were improved, and highly, by the military (jet engines, for instance). Wars are bad: but military research is not. DARPA doesn't fund wars, they only fund research. The war is a waste of money, time, and lives. The research is most certainly not, and one does not require the other. So, we can have our cake and eat it too.

            • How about we research things we need directly instead of researching military technology and getting useful things as a side effect

              • Question is how will all the useful things get their funding. There are also cases where you might not think of something as a "useful thing" until after it is in the discovery phase. Microwave ovens for instance, were based off of military research.
              • Define need?

                you see if you only go by what you need you would live in a log house, as you don't need hollow walls, those are useless.

                the Military has needs, it needs to be able to communicate quickly, and securely, so they test and stress the systems thoroughly.

                The military needs to move troops quickly. So it took trains and doubled the number of tracks in the civil war to improve troop transport. Later those tracks where then used by civilians.

                Your needs are worthless. it takes a large organization with

          • by mekkab ( 133181 )
            And "Der Intertron" (read: the internet) was the direct result of ARPA/DARPA. And the civilian 'fallout' of the SAGE program (modems, etc.) and space program (my smooth cooktop is literally space-age technology) lead me to believe that gov't funded "races" (space race, arms race) have in actuality yielded results for the rest of us to the point where I can't see a private company with a 'publically minded' CEO providing anything similar for the greater good.
        • The DARPA program mangers I have worked with tended to be at best clueless or at worst idiots who think our technology development roadmap should be driven by what they saw in movies, not based in our current understanding of science and engineering - I am not kidding - sure the idea of DARPA sounds great but they need some managers with real technical knowledge
      • Re:pointy sticks (Score:5, Informative)

        by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:56PM (#38401278)

        DARPA's total budget is miniscule, less than 0.4% of the US defense spending. Their lack of overhead is unheard of in government organizations, 140 highly educated and knowledgeable industry experts whose sole purpose is to identify technology that is several generations ahead of what anyone else is looking at and make sure it gets funded. Besides that, much of what they fund has serious civilian applications in addition to their military uses.

        Some things that are being funded today with obvious civilian uses:
        Reusable Launch Vehicle []
        Artificial Intelligence []
        Powered Exoskeleton []
        Thought Controlled Prosthetic []
        Brain Computer Interface []
        Distributed Satellites []

        • Don't forget nuclear isomer powered GRASER rifles. They're powered by Americanium .
          Oh wait, that was swept under the rug as "junk science", right?

          Anyhow, the military seems to be the our only institution left that's doing any forward thinking and planning past the next quarter. I'm hoping for some neato civilian spin-offs.
          • by turgid ( 580780 )

            Anyhow, the military seems to be the our only institution left that's doing any forward thinking and planning past the next quarter. I'm hoping for some neato civilian spin-offs.

            If I were a billionaire, I'd "fritter away" my money doing forward-thinking seeing as how now one else except the military.

            PHBs and MBAs would scoff but I'd be the one having lots of fun, and all the thousands of people I'd be employing to work on my hare-brained schemes. As the traditional corporations gradually cost-cutted thems

        • 0.4% of upwards of a trillion bucks is still a ton of cash. I wish i had a minuscule amount of money in that case! ;)

      • We still want to kill the bad guys. Better tech helps us reduce the good guys we need to kill to get to the bad guys.

        Fist to Fist Fighting. Ill punch you, if I am lucky I will do more damage to you then you will do to me.
        Using the club, sward, pull-arm. I can hit you without injuring myself.
        The Arrow and Guns. I will be able to hit you without being in range of you hitting me back. ...
        The Bomb I can hit you and all your allies without me being near you.

        now that we mastered killing your enemy we are now foc
        • The Bomb all your base are belong to us

          FTFY :)

        • > We still want to kill the bad guys
          Define "bad guys." I really doubt that even 1% of the people we've killed in the last 50 years posed any threat at all to the territorial United States.

      • Here here! Who needs silly things like the Internet anyway.
      • "DARPA needs to be defunded, we don't need to waste anymore $$$ in military tech."

        "Return the internet you are using" and renounce all ARPA/DARPA tech in every form. :)

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Don't forget Bananas or the box of raspberries!

      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        What was the rogue-like where one could risk being chased by banans and where berries could have random, potion-like effect?

    • “I don’t know what weapons will be used in world war three, but in world war four people will use sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein

      • "âoeI donâ(TM)t know what weapons will be used in world war three, but in world war four people will use sticks and stones.â â" Albert Einstein"

        That's adorable, but there are and will be many, many, many wars which are not Total War and lend themselves to using high tech to limit own-side casualties.

        Regardless of your stance on war, the Iraq and Afghanistan squabbles have had very light casualties compared to wars where massive less-discriminate force HAD to be used because that was the

        • That's adorable, but there are and will be many, many, many wars which are not Total War and lend themselves to using high tech to limit own-side casualties.

          And they will all be fought for the benefit of US corporations at everyone else's expense.

    • "Going to be very big in future wars."

      They have always been big. Contemplate the vast number of "spear" and "rock" variations in modern weaponry.

      DU "spears" can slice through two enemy tanks in one shot. Flechette rounds (little "spears") are fired against personnel in close combat.

      There will be many future wars. That's human nature. They will happen and it is better to be ready than not. People aren't "reasonable" so it is necessary to slay them if negotiation won't work.

    • I think the Battletech term is "cudgel".
  • BattleTech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TreyGeek ( 1391679 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:29PM (#38400856) Homepage
    Anyone else read the title and get excited that it was about the future of "BattleTech" the FASA war/board game?
    • I'm ashamed to admit it, but yes.

      I mean, the science on many of the stories in this universe is a little sketchy at times, but I can only paraphrase Napoleon from Time Bandits: "That's what I like... big robots blowing up!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by d0hboy ( 679122 )

      Anyone else read the title and get excited that it was about the future of "BattleTech" the FASA war/board game?

      I also did a double-take. On a site featuring News for Nerds, the editors had to have guessed that the title as-it-stood would have caused a bit of confusion. The closest thing I found to the future of BattleTech(tm) in a quick spot-check of the news was the development of the Mechwarrior Online [] Free to Play MMO'ish game.

    • Well Fan Pro has been reprinting a lot of the old books, but I was kind of interested in something new from them.

      The fact that Battle Tech was 2 words was your only tip off.

      • Re:BattleTech (Score:4, Informative)

        by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:06PM (#38402296) Homepage Journal

        No. FanPro has NOT been reprinting a lot of the old books. FanPro stopped being a going concern in BattleTech (or pretty much anything else) after they used FanPro USA as a piggy bank, then when the time came to renew the license, simply removed all the money from FanPro USA and closed up shop, leaving behind developers and other writers/authors who were owed sizable sums of cash.

        Catalyst Game Labs are currently the people who have the license from Topps for BattleTech. [] []

        There's been a LOT of new material out of CGL in the last several years.

        They've only recently completed integrating the Jihad and Dark Age era stuff (that was imposed by Whiz Kids) into the timeline as a congruent whole (as opposed to a couple text blurbs and some very loosely connected novels).

        They're just filling in some "cracks" here and there, and then we'll be looking at some completely new development.

        Essentially, since the closure of FASA, there have been two main developers on the BattleTech line.

        FASA/FanPro/Catalyst: Randall Bills
        Catalyst (Current): Herbert Beas (Former assistant line developer)

    • Re:BattleTech (Score:4, Informative)

      by JohnnyMindcrime ( 2487092 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:38PM (#38401032)

      FASA... now there's a glorious name from the past.

      Yep, I had the Battletech boardgame, played it more than a few times and loved it.

      But the highlight of the FASA catalogue was definitely the Star Trek Tactical Combat Simulator, where you could pit all manner of Federation starships against all manner of Romulan and Klingon starships - *AND* have big sheets for each ship where you could boost your shield power, repair damage weapons and do emergency turns to bring certain weapon arcs to bear on the enemy. You could spend an entire evening playing what turned out to be about 2 minutes of real-time ship combat...

      And FASA also did the Doctor Who RPG, I seem to recall.

      Great days...

      • by Chas ( 5144 )

        Uh no. You're thinking Starfleet Battles. []

        FASA produced a Star Trek RPG.

        • No, JohnnyMindcrime is correct. FASA released a highly detailed tactical ship combat supplement to the Star Trek RPG. I owned both, as well as FASA's Federation Ship Recognition Guide. Yeah, I was a colossal Trek nerd back in the day, and FASA helped scratch that itch.

    • by z0ph4r ( 1179099 )
      For those others of you hoping to see something BattleTech: [], []
    • Catalyst Game Labs [] are the people who hold the license for the board game right now, and are releasing the 25th anniversary box set something or other...
  • Giant robots are the future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Giant robots are the future.

      Teach them well and let them lead the way.

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:35PM (#38400966) Journal

    Even if their story is true, that they jammed the communications to the drone and then spoofed the GPS so it made a landing where they wanted it, at least it didn't shoot at us. (Not so good would be the intact capture of stealth technology. Oh well).

    Hopefully that incident will have made our military technologists MUCH more careful about security/jamming and ways our systems can be compromised. As we deploy systems much closer in reality to the T-1000 Terminator (sans human "skin") having them turn on us would probably be the worst of all possible outcomes.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:39PM (#38401050) Homepage


    The Light Submersible Helo Aircraft Carrier

    A submarine design to deploy up to four helicopters or two VTOL fighter jets. For use with strategically sensitive strikes.

    The submarine can approach any coast an allow a pair of Marine strike fighter jets to attack a target, or allow up to four helicopters to deploy a special forces unit.

    Why we need one of these. There is a ton of question as to whether our huge honking navy needs tons of surface ships and carriers. Will a battle really be waged at sea like it was of old. Or will these great carrier and cruiser fleets be wiped out within the first two days of surface combat?

    A submersible light carrier can be used in the many less conventional wars we are fighting (ie: war on terrorism). The ability to strike any coastal region with almost zero warning is a very beneficial ability in today's conflicts.


    Why not just fling a metal slug at unbelievable speeds with so much kinectic force that Microsoft would be jealous.


    As seen in the movie real genius. Why send a strike force in for man like Osama bin Laden when you can simply cook him to a crisp from a satellite miles above in the sky.

    • by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:48PM (#38401186)

      The Japanese had submarine aircraft carriers in WWII [], responsible among other things for the only aerial bombardment of the US mainland in history.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Britain built a submarine aircraft carrier shortly after WWI. After it sank they decided it was probably a bad idea and didn't build another one.

    • by gknoy ( 899301 )

      I believe that Orbital Lasers (and other orbital weapons) are banned by international treaties.

      • That's only in polite wars. Everyone knows once war begins, such treaties are about as meaningful as a pinch of salt in the ocean.

      • Things being banned by international treaty has never stopped the US before....

        • "Things being banned by international treaty has never stopped the US before...." It hasn't stopped any other country either. National interests will always trump treaties when push comes to shove.
        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          Yeah except we're talking about reason enough for a nuclear war here. It's always a nation's top priority to not get nuked into oblivion.

    • The Navy is working on the Rail gun. DARPA generally works on things that are way, way out technologically (to get closer to them). Rail guns are already working, just not quite at combat-usefulness yet.. LSHAC is possible, but submarines don't work very well for things that a) really, really don't like being underwater, and b) are really big. Also, helos are really rather easy to shoot down, and have incredibly limited speed and therefore also range, making them more useful for land deployment. Or for ASW

      • And realize my post was half for fun, half tongue in cheek. I do believe there would be an advantage of the submersible strike carrier.

        My reasoning for the idea is largely for units like SEAL teams. To extend their range and self-extraction ability.

        Yes, can't wait to see a full test of a combat ready rail gun.

        The tungsten rod is a pretty cool idea.

        Lasers have advanced a lot. We now use them in full atmosphere. I am sure we could build one that was affective at scrambling a human's brains. Maybe just a very

    • by radtea ( 464814 )

      For use with strategically sensitive strikes.

      That sentence is so thickly slathered in euphemism I don't have a clue which type of killing what people under which circumstances you actually mean.

      The only things I'm sure of are a) you're talking about killing people and b) you aren't making it clear that you are talking about killing people.

    • Um, as to your first point, we use Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from submarines. We do use them to initiate first strikes. The missiles cost $1 million a pop but you don't risk a pilot, and you can stick a bunch of them into a submarine. We could make them stealthier and faster but that would violate a nuclear arms treaty. Because a nuclear-capable cruise missile that's supersonic and stealthy would put the emphasis on a first strike lo..

  • I've seen the flying Hummingbird on Mythbusters, why the hell do we need to see an artist's impression?

    Part 2, why are they calling them "impressions" artists do renderings and concept art, only French artists that died a while back did impressions, they had a whole art movement, what was it called...

    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      Someone at DARPA must have recently watched The Sixth Day []. As soon as I read what the design was I immediately remembered the helos from that movie. The DARPA one doesn't look as cool (but is probably more practical).

      I wonder, will this design be able to autorotate *and* glide? One of the last helo/plane combos, the Osprey, could pretty much do *neither*. A hit to a rotor or wing and it dropped like a stone.

  • I hope the first deployment is wall street, with loud speakers blaring 'money for nothing' as they napalm Goldman Sachs.

    Oh to dream.

  • VTOL have a bad history.

    Vulture looks like a waste - you want something up forever, use a satellite.

    Chembots look like a minimal advantage.

    Falcon is a cheaper rocket.

    Two legged robots are needlessly complicated

    Satellite recovery is a big deal - but is very hard to do.

    Shrike is already doable, but has limited range which means people in danger have to be looking at a screen. No. Soldiers in battle keep their eyes peeled, not on a screen.

    The CT2WS system looks like a pipe dream. If it is possible,

    • Actually, satellites suck for observation. People know where they are, it is very well known when they pass overhead of a sensitive area, and retasking them is a huge undertaking that can be done only a limited number of times. If there'd be something that the military could put up at a moments notice, keep up for a near infinite time and control in real-time what it is looking at, they'd do so in a heartbeat.
      And the reason they want 2-legged robots (or any multi-legged version) is because wheels are very l

      • Actually, satellites suck for observation. People know where they are, it is very well known when they pass overhead of a sensitive area, and retasking them is a huge undertaking that can be done only a limited number of times. If there'd be something that the military could put up at a moments notice, keep up for a near infinite time and control in real-time what it is looking at, they'd do so in a heartbeat.

        We've already got one [], you see.

        Oh, and it's very nice.

    • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

      But the landroid is doable and practical. Leave little things behind to extend the radio range of all the other devices. Throw in a microphone on them and you get a nice little spynetwork that you can access from a large distance away - safe and secure back in the base.

      Also gives you fire triangulation.

  • Looks like that mini Metal Gear that showed up in the third installment of the Solid series.

  • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:08PM (#38401432) Homepage
    So many trademark infringements, so little time...
  • by fgouget ( 925644 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:14PM (#38401524)

    I wonder what advantages a disc-rotor helicopter has over a slowed-rotor [] helicopter.

    • by hAckz0r ( 989977 )
      The disk itself can act like a wing to lift the vehicle at higher speeds. A stalled/slowed rotor creates drag with very little lift, so it requires a separate wing to stay aloft. In this case the disk is that wing. That being said, the disk creates drag against the 'lift' vortex currents as it is taking off. Since it isn't going to hover for long that is probably a design trade off. In that case Its not going to do close ground support very well.
  • BigDog [], RoboCheetah [], now this ostrich thing. Imagine herds of these just roaming the earth after the nuclear armageddon / pigbirdhorse flu armageddon, scavenging for fuel and occasionally blasting each other to smithereens. What will the alien archaeologists think?
  • No matter how fancy the tech, how many buzzwords... if it can be fooled by inexpensive off the shelf equipment by the opponent, then not sure how useful the equipment really is

  • the future of war (Score:4, Insightful)

    by decora ( 1710862 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:28PM (#38401728) Journal

    dead civilians

    shattered families


    horrific injuries

    rape and torture

    oh wait, EVERY war is about that. EVERY war is the same. EVERY war profiteer and war-welfare-queen is also the same.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      However the higher tech has allowed the number of civilians affected to be dramatically decreased. For example the more precise targeting allows for the use of single bombs, and/or bombs with smaller payloads. Compare Baghdad 2003 to Berlin 1945.
  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:50PM (#38402044) Homepage []
    "Military robots like drones are ironic because they are created essentially to force humans to work like robots in an industrialized social order. Why not just create industrial robots to do the work instead?"

    I know I sound like a broken record on this... But we really need a new intrinsic/mutual definition of security arising from "A Newer Way Of Thinking" like Albert Einstein called for if we are to survive all the technological power we are creating in the 21st century: []

    To go with the newer way of thinking, then we need different sorts of machines... Thinks like 3D printers of everyone, or solar panels for all, or advanced "AutoDoc" medical systems, or organic gardening robots, or plenty of other similar things where we use our technological knowledge to make abundance for all -- instead of using advanced technologies of abundance like robotics to fight over scarcity, or worse, create artificial scarcity. Still, DARPA has made contributions to some of these, so that's a good thing.

  • easily defeated by Iranians spoofing GPS signals.
  • A flying humvee with retractable rotor blades which can seed an area with a network of smaller robots all while staying in the air for 5+ years?!

    God help us all!

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:26PM (#38402592) Homepage
    is what is has always been: death. thirty years ago we cloaked the cold war in 'tech' in the hopes it would be the solution to a horrific conflict caused by humankind, and all it served to do was amplify the tone of that conflict, to push us ever closer to the precipice. in the nineties we did the same thing with guided ballistics and slaughtered countless innocents in our zeal to decree global weapons superiority in the balkans. In iraq we developed the latest, the greatest, the drones, and with a moral superiority not seen since the 1600's we proudly declared our mission accomplished as millions of iraqis died in the streets and not a single predator stood by to prevent the atrocities at abu grahib..

    so let me reiterate, the future of battle tech is a bleached-white skull rotting in the latest theatre of the most righteous conflict at the hands of the most just nation it is the carbonized ashes of a house of innocents, and the eviscerated corpses of scores as they flee from an enemy that cannot be reasoned with not because it is incapable as a machine, but because its masters stopped caring long ago.
    • "...all it served to do..." was take the wall down, disassemble the soviet union....
      • Nope.

        It did not hurt Soviet Union a single bit because instead of having a military-industrial complex that fleeced the rest of society, it operated as a giant nonprofit.
        There are plenty of things to criticize about Soviet Union, first and foremost that it could be dissolved by an arbitrary decision made by three politicians, but US-originated propaganda formulas have nothing to do with it. Cold war was a rock that keeps tigers away, and now US is desperately looking for more tigers.

  • They are just gonna mess this up. I can't believe the Drones don't have a self destruct system. First off military GPS radios have a specific password seeded handshake in order for the gps to process the beacon signals. If the authentic handshake is not there the signal is ignored. maybe the drone was a disposable device so military gps wasn't used. I think in that case it would have been easy to build a smart receiver. GPS signals are week. if the beacon is strong then the autopilot should ignore g
  • Is this stuff really hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars cool? We live in a pretty backwards country when technological innovation is about killing and oppressing instead of healing and entertaining. Every bomb or shiny gun or automated robot our military makes is being made for the sole purpose of killing or oppressing someone else, and nobody cares because those tragedies are happening in a mythical little place called "the rest of the world."
  • The U.S has 18 times more military then every country combined, DARPA is just one out of many military setups that spends money on research, however most of the time they spend that money on contracts usually given to private companies to develop technology. These private companies usually develop this stuff without these contracts, I believe Boeing had a lot to do with Jet power, and other aircraft. The government handed out millions of dollars to private companies to develop aircraft designed to do spec
  • I wish DARPA would focus more on non-violent forms of persuasion. Like for example, an entire army of non-violent protesters that we can fly to any city in the world to perform sit-ins, street demonstrations and suchlike. I can imagine a group of 100,000 americans fully equipped for urban camping occupying Beijing with placards that read "We don't like your labor laws" and other such slogans. Even if the opposing army killed all of the non-violent protesters, we would win the propaganda war, which is the

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