Drone of the Day: Blackjack

William M. Arkin · 07/24/15 09:35AM

The Blackjack (RQ-21A) was deployed last year. For the Navy and Marine Corps, it fulfills a requirement for a small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS) to follow-on to the ScanEagle. And it is the first military drone that is open architecture, that is, based upon a non-proprietary operating system, allowing it to integrate almost any payload, as long as it complies with the 25 pound limit and the power capacity (called size, weight, and power or SWaP).

Drone of the Day: Fire Scout

William M. Arkin · 07/16/15 08:30AM

Just because something works, we don’t necessarily need it. Such is the case with Fire Scout, a Navy unmanned helicopter that operates from small ships, though it can fly 115 miles or so from its mother ship. But is there any reason to have an unmanned helicopter that operates at sea? One that, in the era of a fully networked global intelligence system, is redundant. One that would be highly vulnerable in a real war with a peer adversary. Is it just because we can? That unmanned everything is now within reach? There’s nothing wrong with Fire Scout per se, but in its story is an interesting parable: That just because something isn’t attracting Washington enemies bellowing about cost or “fraud, waste and abuse,” doesn’t mean we should keep using it.

Drone of the Day: XFC

William M. Arkin · 07/01/15 11:05AM

The technology of the future is already upon us. Not much stands in the way of drones that can fly in any environment and loiter for hours, autonomously searching—looking, but also waiting to pounce.

What the Times Doesn't Tell You About Seal Team 6

William M. Arkin · 06/08/15 10:50AM

SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines” reads the headline in last weekend’s New York Times. My name is listed as a contributor at the end of four pages of derring-do. Because I worked for the Times last year and have no interest in joining the Shit-on-the-New-York-Times Brigade, I have nothing to say about the article itself except to say I’m glad, especially for the reporters, that it finally saw the light of day.

Naval Industry Death Con 2015 Was Live Tweeted By a Romance Novelist

Sultana Khan · 04/16/15 01:50PM

Yesterday concluded the fiftieth anniversary edition of the naval industrial complex's festival of killing; the annual Sea-Air-Space (SAS) Exposition was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Located in made-up city National Harbor, Maryland, a military favorite for industry confabs, the expo allows global naval celebrities, defense contractors, and weapons experts the opportunity to demonstrate how well they can kill things without any interference from the general public. Luckily for us, Kerri Carpenter, a sweet, sexy, sparkly romance novelist and social media liaison for the event, was on hand to live tweet the whole thing.

Spying on the U.S. Submarine That Spies For the NSA and CIA

Adam Weinstein and William M. Arkin · 04/07/15 10:27AM

Everyone saw the USS Annapolis come home last year. It returned, poignantly, on Sept. 11, and there was a seriousness amid the usual dockside fanfare—sailors meeting newborn children for the first time, a school band playing "Anchors Aweigh." But there was no mention of the boat's secret missions.