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Entries in Lockheed Martin (3)

Wednesday
Feb012012

Sandia Labs’ Self-Guided Bullet for Future Soldiers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- War is ugly, chaotic business, and even the best shot in the U.S. military often misses in the heat of battle. Tests show that the average rifle bullet, aimed at a target half a mile away, will miss by 30 feet.

Two engineers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico report they have designed a self-guided bullet, a little like a miniaturized, low-budget guided missile.

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“It’s a bullet that can change its flight path so that it can more accurately hit a target at long range,” said Red Jones, one of the two researchers, in an interview with ABC News.  He and Brian Kast assembled a small team to work on the project.  Both Jones and Kast happen to be hunters.

Here’s how it works: Conventional gun barrels have grooves in them that set a bullet spinning for stability.  Watch Eli Manning or Tom Brady throw a tight spiral at Sunday’s Super Bowl and you’ll see the same principle at work.

The spiral helps, but a bullet still loses altitude and -- even at supersonic speed -- can be thrown slightly off course. Jones and Kast replaced the grooves with tiny fins, which can correct the bullet’s path in midair so that it will follow a laser beam from the soldier’s gun sight.

Jones said the new bullet can make course corrections 30 times per second -- and while conventional bullets might miss the target by 30 feet, their patent says the guided bullet would hit within eight inches of its target.

It meant adding some miniature electronics and a battery to each bullet, which, of course, adds to the cost -- but just one smart bullet that hits its target, researchers say, could be cheaper than a hail of bullets that go astray.

Sandia, owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by Lockheed Martin, says it is looking for commercial partners to develop the new bullet for mass production. Potential customers include the military and law enforcement, Sania said, and perhaps hunters as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

The $77 Billion Fighter Jets That Have Never Gone to War

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker(WASHINGTON) -- More than five years and nearly $80 billion after the world's most expensive fighter jets joined the U.S. military fleet, the high-tech F-22 Raptor has yet to see combat -- despite the U.S. Air Forces' involvement in three simultaneous major combat operations.

When the U.S. led an international effort to secure a no-fly zone over Libya last month, the F-22, the jet the Air Force said "cannot be matched," was not involved. The Air Force said the $143 million-a-pop planes simply weren't necessary to take out Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses.

"If this was a requirement, it would've been used," Air Force spokesperson Maj. Chad Steffey told ABC News. "We had all the assets that we needed in Europe already... It simply wasn't an operational requirement."

In fact, though the Air Force has more than 160 F-22s, Steffey said that they have not been an "operational requirement" in any major theater of combat for the U.S., from Iraq to Afghanistan, since the first of the planes went combat ready in December 2005.

Not a single one of the planes -- which cost U.S. government $77.4 billion for a total of 187 planes from Lockheed Martin according to recent report by the Government Accountability Office -- has used what Lockheed Martin's website called a "revolutionary leap in lethality" in defense of U.S. interests. And though Congress cut all funding for new Raptors in 2009, Lockheed Martin is still receiving hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to make upgrades.

The closest an F-22 has come to combat was in 2007 when a pair of Raptors intercepted and monitored two Russian bombers that were on patrol in airspace near Alaska, according to a report by Air Force Magazine.

Both the Air Force and Lockheed Martin said the reason the planes have yet to fire on any enemies is because they're designed to dominate the air against rival, sophisticated air forces or air defenses, not a small, poorly armed third-world militaries and insurgent groups.

The planes' natural enemy, therefore, is one that the program's biggest critic, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said as of now does not exist.

"The F-22 is clearly a capability we do need -- a niche, silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios -- specifically the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in 2009 while advocating that Congress ditch further funding for the Raptor from the budget. "[But] the F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict."

Dozens of supporters of the F-22 program in the House and the Senate wrote letters to President Obama ahead of the 2009 budget decision, arguing a full force of F-22s would be needed to meet the future challenge of other nations like China and Russia that are also developing fifth generation fighters and new, high-tech air defense systems. Gates dismissed these claims and said the U.S. next generation fighters, both the F-22 and the newer F-35, would greatly outnumber any adversaries for the next 15 years at least.

Jeff Babione, the vice president and project manager for the F-22 program at Lockheed Martin, said China and Russia's fighter programs were a consideration in the F-22's development, but also said the F-22 could find a home in strike missions against rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

"[The F-22s] are in an area where they would be solely or more suited for a sophisticated adversary like North Korea," Babione told ABC News. "In particular, its ability to penetrate highly defended locations -- such as North Korea -- only the Raptor would be able to get in there and prosecute the missions."

Another reason Gates argued against continuing the F-22 fighter is that he said he wanted to put some of that money into the newer F-35 jet fighter. That plane, which is also in development by Lockheed Martin, "will be the backbone of America's tactical aviation fleet for decades to come if -- and this is a big if -- money is not drained away to spend on other aircraft that our military leadership considers of lower priority or excess to our needs," Gates said in 2009.

"The F-35 is 10 to 15 years newer than the F-22, carries a much larger suite of weapons, and is superior in a number of areas – most importantly, air-to-ground missions such as destroying sophisticated enemy air defenses," he said.

The F-35, at a smaller price tag per plane than the F-22, is designed to replace the F-16 -- which incidentally was involved in operations in Libya -- and "will complement the F-22," according to Lockheed Martin and the GAO report. According to Lockheed, the F-35 is better suited for current combat operations since it has a superior air-to-surface attack capability, but can work in tandem with the F-22.

While the F-35 has experienced its own serious development issues, the first planes are scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force this spring, Lockheed told ABC News earlier this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

DoD, Major Private Contractor Potentially Vulnerable in Cyber Attack

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. cyber-security company charged with protecting computers for the U.S. government and thousands of private clients has itself been the target of a successful hacking attack, potentially compromising the security of software used by the Department of Defense and major defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

While the U.S. government has been aware of the attack and working with the company on plugging the security breach for more than a week, according to sources familiar with the investigation, it was only Thursday that Massachusetts-based company RSA alerted the public. RSA, the security division of EMC, claims over 25,000 clients and 40 million users of its security token technology worldwide.

"Recently our security systems identified an extremely sophisticated cyber attack in progress being mounted against RSA," said executive chairman Arthur Coviello in a statement posted on the company's website and in a filing to the SEC notifying shareholders of an adverse event. "Our investigation also revealed that the attack resulted in certain information being extracted from RSA's systems. Some of that information is specifically related to RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication products."

In addition to the U.S. government, according to its website, RSA SecureID customers include major American corporations, healthcare institutions and charities, as well as banks and institutions that cater to high net worth individuals, like Rolls Royce and Bentley Motors. The state of Kansas is also listed as a SecureID customer.

"This is a very major security compromise that has possibly put at risk numerous sensitive government sites and private industry as well" said former U.S. National Security Advisor Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

Coviello said while some information relating to RSA's token authentication system had been "extracted" by the intruders, RSA is "confident that the information extracted does not enable a successful direct attack on any of our RSA SecurID customers."

Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC News the company and the U.S. government have been working quietly to try to determine the extent of the damage and to build a patch to plug the leak.

In its statement Thursday, the company described the attack as an "extremely sophisticated" APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) attack, which cyber-experts say sounds similar to a 2009 attack on Google suspected to come from Chinese hackers.

"These hackers are not kids sitting in basements having fun," said Larry Clinton, President of the Internet Security Alliance. "An APT threat comes from highly organized, highly sophisticated, well-funded thieves. There is some evidence that this is state sponsored, and some attacks have come from China."

A company spokesman would not comment on reports of a delay in alerting the public, but in his online statement RSA executive chairman Coviello said, "We took a variety of aggressive measures against the threat to protect our business and our customers, including further hardening of our IT infrastructure".

The company's statement said its investigation is continuing and it is working closely with "appropriate authorities."

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio