Feeds

US forces developing 'miniature weapons' for killer robots

Phantom Works pocket missile ideal for 'suburban combat'

Security for virtualized datacentres

US Air Force boffinry chiefs have decided to spend as much as $7m developing "miniature weapons" for use by killer robots in the Wars On Stuff.

Weaponry'n'aerospace globocorp Boeing was chuffed yesterday to announce that it had bagged an initial $0.5m deal to look into ideas, which will lead on into another $6.5m of work if the scheme moves forward.

At the moment, unmanned aircraft in combat overseas mostly use standard air weapons. Generally the lightest, most delicate option open to a prowling airborne killbot will be the Hellfire missile, a hefty hundred-pound laser guided rocket which was originally developed for the purpose of taking out heavily-armoured main battle tanks.

Against a more typical modern-war target such as a pickup truck, a small house or a 4x4, the Hellfire is a blunt instrument rather than a surgical one. Fired at a single person or single room, as it often is, Hellfire is major overkill and causes a lot of collateral damage and dead bystanders - perhaps so much so as to outweigh the value of hitting the target.

Hence the "miniature weapons" deal from the US Air Force Research Lab announced yesterday, under which Boeing's "Phantom Works" advanced-tech shop will produce something a bit more suitable to counter-insurgency work.

The new mini-missiles seem set to be at least as sophisticated as a Hellfire, perhaps more so. In addition to seeker and guidance tech, they will feature "radar options". This could be merely a matter of fusing, making the weapon go off at a certain distance from the target, but it might also mean the missile would be able to home in on its victims independently, without a guiding laser dot.

"The concept behind this technology is designed to generate very low collateral damage," says Boeing exec Carl Avila. "[It] allows warfighters to engage a variety of targets, including those in a suburban terrain environment." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.