U.S. military advisors could be taking a self-driving pack mule back to Afghanistan with them on their next deployment.

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. Michael L. K. West)

The Army may be celebrating its prized Army Futures Command (AFC) reaching full operational capability, but the organization's leaders still have quite a to-do list in front of them.

AFC commander Gen. John Murray briefed reporters on Thursday alongside Bruce Jette, the Army's Assistant Secretary of Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, on the progress of the Army's modernization roadmap and what's coming down the pipe to help soldiers soldiers win the conflicts of the future.

But while that lawmakers skirted questions on the war in Afghanistan during former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper's confirmation hearing for defense secretary this week, AFC's top priority remains, first and foremost, the soldiers fighting in conflict zones right now.

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The U.S. military's growing fleet of F-35 stealth fighters will fall short of the 80 percent readiness goal that former Defense Secretary James Mattis instituted before quitting in protest of President Donald Trump's foreign policy in January 2019.

Former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, who is Trump's nominee to replace Mattis, in mid-July 2019 told a Senate committee the roughly 300-strong fleet of F-35s belonging to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps "is not expected" to meet Mattis's readiness goal.

Esper blamed the F-35's canopy, or "transparency."

"Transparency supply shortages continue to be the main obstacle to achieving this," Esper told the committee. "We are seeking additional sources to fix unserviceable canopies."

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Just two years after Russian defense contractor Zala Aero first unveiled REX-1 anti-drone system back in 2017, the Kalashnikov Concern subsidiary is back with an girthy update to its slick electronic rifle.

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(U.S. Army photo)

Army Futures Command will reach fully operational status just before the newest gem of the Army's modernization plan sees its first birthday on August 24th, officials announced on Tuesday.

AFC Commander Gen. John "Mike" Murray told reporters at a technologies showcase on Tuesday that the command will be fully operational on July 31st before showing off everything AFC personnel have been working on over the last year, from night vision goggles and robotic vehicles to new air- and missile-defense capabilities.

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(Reuters/Stephen Kalin)

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington.

The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones, U.S. officials say.

The disclosure comes at a time of heightened tensions with Iran and underscores the many ways in which Tehran and the forces it backs are increasingly relying on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in places like Yemen, Syria, the Strait of Hormuz and Iraq.

Beyond surveillance, Iranian drones can drop munitions and even carry out "a kamikaze flight where they load it up with explosives and fly it into something", according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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