Tag Archives | Lockheed Martin

USA Has Plans for Hypersonic Robot Plane

blueskyWhen I was a kid I couldn’t wait for robots to be a part of daily life. Sadly, my childish dreams of a robot buddy a la R2D2 have long been replaced by the reality of globe-crossing semi-autonomous bringers of death. Check out Lockheed Martin’s newest entry into the world of robot death machines, a hypersonic drone that should be on schedule to be killing babies born today by the time they’re nearly adults.

Via BBC:

Lockheed Martin has begun work on a successor to the supersonic Blackbird SR-71 spy plane.

The unmanned SR-72 will use an engine that combines a turbine and a ramjet to reach its top speed of Mach 6 – about 3,600mph (5,800km/h). Like its predecessor, the SR-72 will be designed for high-altitude surveillance but might also be fitted with weapons to strike targets.

Lockheed said the aircraft should be operational by 2030.

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Military To Use “Spy Rocks” For Surveillance

spy rocksThere’s no one around to hear us but that rock sitting over there. Wired UK reports:

At the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, DC, Lockheed Martin showcased developments in their surveillance technology called SPAN (Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network), a “covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network” that can provide “unobtrusive, continuous surveillance” in units so small they can fit in a rock.

SPAN is a mesh network of self-organizing sensors that, when triggered, can cue a camera or an unmanned aerial vehicle to further study an area, or summon an engineer when a pipeline or bridge structure is in danger or fractured.

Lockheed touts the “field-and-forget” technology as providing maximum coverage at minimal costs, claiming that the sensors can remain in the field for years at a time without maintenance, powered by solar technology. The defense contractor is hoping to sell its spy rocks for surveillance, border protection, pipeline monitoring and bridge security, among other things.

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The Most Important Obit You’ll Ever Read

CVarnadore NYT

If you think Obama’s war on whistleblowers is getting ugly, take a look at the incredible ugliness visited upon Charles Varnadore during the 1990s.  This New York Times obituary tells the story of his struggle to expose nuclear malfeasance at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the sinister retaliation he faced:

His difficulties began in 1990, after he returned to work following colon cancer surgery. He found that his replacement had shortcomings in handling lab samples, and he pointed this out to his superiors. He also complained about his new assignment, operating mechanical arms to handle radioactive materials; he had been blinded in his left eye as a child and had poor depth perception.

“I tried it and made a hell of a mess,” he told The Houston Chronicle in 1993. “I didn’t think it was right for me to make this mess and have other people exposed to it.”

Mr. Varnadore began to receive negative performance evaluations after many years of good ones.

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You Can Be A Patriot or a Profiteer…But You Can’t Be Both

This week, the three military contractors that do the most business with the Pentagon announced their quarterly profits for 2012. Their profits continue to grow while they push Washington, D.C. to protect their budgets at the expense of the rest of us. Here’s the breakdown so far for this year: This week's announcement raises a fundamental question: Should people and companies be allowed to make huge profits from war? Even raising this question in today’s environment may seem trite, but we used to have different answers than those that prevail in modern-day Washington, D.C....
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Army Recruits Prisoners To Make Body Armor

Spc. Guy Mellor, US Army National Guard, tries on his helmet for the perfect fit.

Spc. Guy Mellor tries on his helmet for the perfect fit.

Another deal for Unicor. Via Wired News:

Building parts for Patriot missile systems was just a warm-up, apparently, for a government-owned company that relies on federal inmates making as little as 23 cents an hour. On Wednesday, the U.S. Army announced that it handed Federal Prison Industries a no-bid, nearly $20 million contract to build body armor.

It’s the latest in a decades-long string of military deals for FPI, also known as Unicor.

Over the years, the company has supplied parts for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the Cobra attack helicopter, and the iconic Patriot interceptor system. (More about that in a second.)

But this deal is particularly odd, because FPI’s track record with protective equipment is, to put it generously, uneven. In May of last year, the Army recalled 44,000 FPI-made protective helmets after they failed ballistic testing.

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