Yes it’s an AC-130 Hercules with a frickin laser beam but officially it is known as the “Boeing Advanced Tactical Laser” and it’s alive and working after many years of development.
Last week the chemically-powered laser was fired successfully 50 times in ground tests, and now the plane is being prepped for a flight test before the end of the year where it will silently zap a bunch of cars and buildings from inside a rotating turret at ranges of more than 10 miles away.
The main downside to this laser is that is is chemically powered, which means that vats of nasty toxic chemicals get stored on the plane, but if this system is proven to be successful then it will be a good interim weapon until we have electrically powered lasers strong enough to do the job.
Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) is a charity that runs a program called “Segs 4 Vets” where they help injured servicemembers (including many amputees) regain their mobility through the donation of Segways and training in their use.
As of December 31st 2007 DRAFT has given 81 Segways and they hope to present another 250 in 2008.
I don’t ask for donations from my readers to help maintain this site (the google ads on each page take care of that) but I would like to take this opportunity to ask anyone reading this to considering donating to DRAFT and helping give something back to those that have sacrificed almost everything for their Country.
Donate to DRAFT
People look at Topol-M ICBM passing by during a rehersal for the nation’s Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 5, 2008. Victory Day, in honor of the end of WWII, will be celebrated on May 9. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The Topol-M missile is 75.5 feet long, 6.4 feet in diameter, weighs 104,000lb, is know in the west as the SS-27 Stalin, and carries six 550 kiloton nuclear warheads.
This version with a mobile launcher entered service in 2006 and between silo and mobile launched Topol-M missiles there will be 62 in service by the end of 2008.
The Topol-M has a range of 6,900 miles and is thought to have propulsion enhancements designed to help it avoid US anti-ballistic missiles.
The British Royal Navy’s new Astute class of attack submarines are doing away with the traditional periscope and instead will be fitted with an optronic mast designed by Thales UK.
The mast (SHU: Sensor Head Unit) will pop-up, capture a 360-degree scan of the surrounding area, and disappear back beneath the waves before enemy ships have a chance to detect it. It is pressure-proof, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, is blast hardened, and contains stabilized high-performance cameras and optics as well as environmental sensors.
A couple of days we told you about i-LIMB – a bionic hand that is already being used by disabled servicemembers, and now another bionic hand has shown up on the scene.
The Fluidhand seems to have similar features to the i-LIMB and we say the more bionic hands out there helping amputees lead more normal lives the better (and I for one welcome our new bionic overlords!).
Touch Bionics is showing off their prosthetic hand that looks to be almost as good as the real thing. The best thing is that the case study they use on their website is a former US Army soldier injured in Iraq.
The i-LIMB is the first fully articulating bionic hand that is commercially available (for $17.5k) and has 5 individually power digits controlled my myoelectric muscle signals from the remaining part of the users arm, each digit also has advanced sensors that determine the correct amount of grip to use in order to hold something without crushing it.
Lets hope more of these find their way to injured servicemembers.
Read about US Army Sgt Juan Arredondo at Touch Bionics
A major difference between the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and previous wars is that in these wars we have been able to save a vast number of injured soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who would otherwise have died from their injuries.
This is due in part to better protective gear and in part to the excellent prompt medical care our troops receive.
The downside to this is that we have high numbers of badly injured servicemembers who need ongoing medical care along with assistance adjusting to injuries such as severe burns and loss of limbs.
With that in mind that Defense Department just launched a really worthwhile program: establishing the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine with a five-year $250m budget to “harness stem cell research and technology in finding innovative ways to use a patientâ€™s natural cellular structure to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers”.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the war on terror our servicemembers put their lives on the line for every American and they deserve the best care and rehabilitation money can provide.
(full press release after the jump)