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Defense Technology Monitor - No. 12

Edited by Richard Harrison and Liam Bobyak
January 17, 2017

Today, combat vehicles face an array of new threats on the battlefield, including electronic and cyber warfare, rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), IEDs and armor piercing guided munitions. To counter them, the U.S. military will need to invest in a new generation of combat vehicles better equipped to face contemporary battlefield realities. However, because of the long review and implementation cycle associated with such acquisitions, the clock is ticking for design decisions by the U.S. Army. For example, a unit designed in 2025 won't be ready for operations until 2035. 

Despite this lag, the military has identified several promising technological avenues that it hopes to explore. For instance, proposals include outfitting future vehicles with shielding systems to protect them from cyber and electronic warfare, as well as "active protection" systems utilizing directed energy weapons and automatic targeting as a hedge against RPGs and IEDs. At the same time, the military is also attempting to diversify and economize their fuel through the utilization of biofuels or hydrogen fuel cells, as well as hybrid batteries to help improve fuel economy and limit the fossil fuel requirements. (, November 3, 2016) 

In light of the increasing weaponization of small drones, particularly by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the potential for these to be harnessed in "swarms" in the future, the U.S. military is exploring the most efficient ways to neutralize and defeat unarmed aerial systems. To date, the DoD has developed counter drone technology employing radio wave disruptors, lasers, and more traditional kinetic weapons. However, an even more promising alternative has recently taken the stage. Defense contractor Raytheon has developed a new high-powered microwave (HPM) weapon capable of knocking out all drones within a given area in a matter of milliseconds. Unlike lasers, the HPM system does not need to focus on a single point at a time, making it capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously. (
Aviation Week, November 11, 2016) 

While trying to develop a type of concrete that to keep winter surfaces ice-free, scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln accidentally discovered that their substance is also capable of blocking electro-magnetic pulses (EMP). EMPs can occur naturally as a result of a solar flare, or be created artificially through the detonation of a high altitude thermonuclear device. In either occurrence, the circuitry in electronics below is affected, and will get destroyed or rendered inoperable. However, if "shielded" or "hardened," electronics can withstand an EMP event. As such, the new substance - which contains a mixture of carbon and metal designed to help it absorb energy - could have significant defense, homeland security and infrastructure protection implications. (
Popular Mechanics, November 15, 2016) 

Consumers of "smart" devices are becoming increasingly aware of vulnerabilities in both the hardware and software of phones, tablets and laptops that hackers can attack. However, they also need to be concerned about another threat as well: spy software built into the device straight from the manufacturer. Recently, a Department of Homeland Security contractor, Kryptowire, discovered software on a set of disposable Android phones designed to transmit data - including messages, location data, call logs, and other information - to a server based in China. The software was created by the Shanghai based Adups Technology Company for an undisclosed Chinese phone manufacturer, with the understanding that the software would be used for customer support purposes and would not reside on American phones. It is unclear how many of the 700 million phones running Adups software have this issue, because the company has so far refused to provide that information. While the firm whose products contain the backdoor, BLU Products, has since provided an update to remove the problem, the broader implications of this revelation are likely to impact U.S. trade and security concerns with regards to software and technology from China. (
New York Times, November 15, 2016) 

After a series of incidents involving North Korean drones being flown over the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) separating North and South Korea, Seoul has turned to its Agency of Defense Development (ADD) for options to destroy the hostile aircraft. In addition to traditional methods such as GPS jamming and small-guided rockets, the ADD is considering using a non-nuclear EMP device in combination with artificial intelligence to disable the drones. Details and testing of the directional EMP generator constructed by the ADD have yet not disclosed, however. (Seoul 
Yonhap, November 27, 2016) 

Related Categories: North America; Military; China; Information and Cyberwarfare; Defense Technology Program

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