Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Air Force Wants To Use Falcons To Punch Drones Out Of The Sky
What has two wings and doesn’t give a fuck? The peregrine falcon: the fastest member of the animal kingdom, preternaturally terrifying bird of prey… and, now, the natural enemy of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Air Force is into putting falcons to work for the U.S. armed forces — and new research suggests they’re smart to do so: The peregrine falcon may hold the key to developing anti-drone interceptor systems.
The research, conducted by a group of Air Force-funded researchers at Oxford University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, consisted of letting GPS-outfitted falcons go to pound-town on drone-mounted dummy targets to observe the birds’ interception behaviors. They found that, on the hunt, falcons operate “in a similar way to most guided missiles,” according to Oxford zoologist and chief investigator Graham Taylor.
To wit: The birds follow attack trajectories based on line-of-sight, despite the absence of conventional targeting information on a target's speed or distance. As Bloomberg points out, it would appear that one of nature’s most ruthless hunters subscribes to the same “proportional navigation“ principles as the rotating steering window that defined the earliest iterations of the heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder.
“Our GPS tracks and onboard videos show how peregrine falcons intercept moving targets that don't want to be caught,” Taylor said in an announcement. “Our next step is to apply this research to designing a new kind of visually guided drone, able to remove rogue drones safely from the vicinity of airports, prisons, and other no-fly zones.”
Sure, great, neat: But does this mean that the peregrine’s only future as a fighting falcon is informing the missiles mounted to the side of an actual Fighting Falcon? Probably — but maybe not, according to these brief clips of Oxford’s test falcons rocking the living shit out of their targets:
Why not? The bird of prey has proved a worthy warfighting companion for centuries. The practice of falconry dates back more than 4,000 years to the dawn of modern civilization, with the falcon’s training so critical during the Medieval era that, per Popular Science, various statutes across Europe “mention fines for the theft or killing of someone else's hawk.” Warlords rode into combat on battlefields from England to Mongolia with falcons (and falconers) at their side, until the advent of gunpowder all but banished the raptors from the battlefield.
In recent years, the falcon and other birds of prey have proven attractive countermeasures among law enforcement agencies for swarms of increasingly ubiquitous drones blotting out the skies. In 2016, the Dutch police invited raptor-training company Guard From Above to explore the deployment of majestic birds of prey against potentially dangerous drones.
It’s not the worst idea: Civilian drones have begun to invade the last untouched enclaves of the animal kingdom; in 2014, the National Park Service banned moron tourists from flying disasters in national parks. And eagles and falcons are increasingly attacking intrusive drones they see as natural threats, with fascinating results:
OK, yes, falcons aren’t the best UAV countermeasure, especially since the Department of Defense on Aug. 17 deemed conventional gunfire an appropriate response to commercial or private drones that enter the airspace at more than 130 facilities across the country. But base security won’t always be there: Just consider the illegally operated civilian drone that collided with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flown by Fort Bragg soldiers over Staten Island in September.
Despite this, the potential applications of these angry birds to drone warfare are considerable. As the researchers write, the proportional navigation guidance system at play in falcon behavior is “optimized for low flight speeds could find use in small, visually guided drones designed to remove other drones from protected airspace” — perfect medium-range solutions for the rising tide of ISIS suicide drones that have plagued troops downrange in recent months.
But if the Pentagon does decide to deploy badass birds of prey downrange, let’s be real: They better be fucking bald eagles, symbols of American badassery — and don’t even think about naming them “Redwing.”
GIF via Marvel Studios
Army study recommends more sleep for recruits at basic, which drill sergeants will absolutely not disregard or anything
(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who experience sleep problems during basic combat training may be more likely to struggle with psychological distress, attention difficulties, and anger issues during their entry into the military, a recent study suggests.
"These results show that it would probably be useful to check in with new soldiers over time because sleep problems can be a signal that a soldier is encountering difficulties," said Amanda Adrian, lead author of the study and a research psychologist at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"Addressing sleep problems early on should help set soldiers up for success as they transition into their next unit of assignment," she said by email.
Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."
The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.
There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.
A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.
Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.
It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.
It all began with a medical check.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
The US military now has to ask the Iraqis for permission before giving close air support to troops in combat
U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.
However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.