When Drones Became Lethal

The transformation of drones from aerial surveillance aircraft to instruments of surveillance and attack accelerated greatly after a key missed opportunity and the events of 9/11.

A New Way of War

For more than a decade, we’ve been getting somber Pentagon emails telling us the name, hometown and age of every U.S. troop killed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Noticed something new, at least to us, in …

Privatizing War

There’s a new link in the chain that operates U.S. forces in war zones. You can see it in the Air Force’s own crash reports.

Usually, there’s a section up front called “Unit Information,” and it deals with the …

Manning Unmanned Systems

Eyes glaze over when diving deep into Defense Science Board studies, those phonebook-thick reports (today more PDF than pdf) salted through with buzz phrases (potentially unlimited persistent capabilities, bounded autonomous

Unmanned Jet Headed to Carriers

Young boys of a couple of generations ago loved to get dizzy, flying their yellow Cox PT-19 with its buzzing .049 Babe Bee engine in endless circles. The “pilot” was connected to the plane via a pair of control lines that allowed the model planes to climb and dive…and occasionally crash.

That’s why the X-47B is so exciting. …

Saying Twice, Paying Once?

One of Battleland’s crew of ace accountants flipped Monday’s list of Pentagon contract announcements our way, and pointed out this drone upgrade program (you can click on it to enlarge):

Then he tossed us Friday’s list, and pointed to this one:

Just a simple error, the Air Force said Tuesday.

“This contract was …

How Drones Can Reinforce Failure

Gaeta, Italy — This report by independent journalist Gareth Porter is extremely important. Porter, one of our finest investigative journalists, highlights one of the central problems in drone warfare: how its imperfect …

Betting Against a Drone Arms Race

Bold predictions of a coming drones arms race are all the rage since the uptake in their deployment under the Obama Administration. Noel Sharkey, for example, argues in an August 3 op-ed for the Guardian that rapidly developing …

Surefire Way To Render Unmanned Drones Obsolete…

No doubt the Pentagon is behind this: a human-powered quad-rotor helicopter. If this thing, ahem, really takes off, unmanned drones are doomed

All kidding aside, congratulations to the team at the University of Maryland, and pilot Kyle Gluesenkamp, for getting this muscle-fueled whirlybird airborne for 50 seconds last Thursday …

Designation Resignation

Battleland was at a party this weekend where someone got the X-37B confused with the X-47B. You’d think the Air Force and the Navy would have a Joint Operating Coordination Committee on Aircraft Designation and Nomenclature to avoid fielding two new aircraft with such similar designations (but you’d be wrong: back in the early 1980s …

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