The most exciting advancement in the evolution of the otherwise boring-as-hell world of drones isn’t the MQ-9 Reaper, favored by the Pentagon to replace the iconic Predator: It’s the Navy’s MQ-25 program, an unmanned refueling aircraft that can extend the range of carrier-based fighters far beyond their normal capabilities.
While defense contractors Boeing and General Atomics are currently vying for the MQ-25 contract, Lockheed Martin just busted out a preview of a “Stingray” concept design dreamed up by the company’s legendary Skunk Works division. We recently made fun of the Air Force’s recent drone-fleet sizzle reel for its resemblance to a war movie that was so bad Jessica Biel couldn’t save it. But… Lockheed’s preview actually has us a little excited.
According to Popular Mechanics, the program will offer a major boost to the United States’ existing airpower capabilities. The Navy is on the hunt for an MQ-25 tanker that hauls up to 14,000 pounds of fuel to other aircraft up to 500 nautical miles from their home vessel… and that also plays nicely with that brand new electromagnetic catapult system on the next generation of aircraft carrier decks.
Things are currently heating up: On April 9, Lockheed announced that its proposal would rely on Navy-savvy industry partners who produced the F/A-18 Super Hornet’s engine and the F-35C’s landing gear. On the same day, Boeing released its own sizzle reel for a MQ-25 proposal:
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."