Military drones are alluring tools for spying and striking targets, but getting them flying where they need to be is a challenge. What if conventionally piloted cargo planes could fly to the outskirts of a battlefield, release a swarm of such drones, and then recover them for refueling and reloading? Keith Button tells us how DARPA and Dynetics brought this vision to the edge of reality.
When designers need specific magnetic properties in an aircraft component, they turn to proven alloys containing rare earth elements, a group of metals with limited suppliers. Keith Button spoke to scientists who are applying computational models toward developing alternative alloys that would meet requirements without rare earth elements.
In a handful of incidents that go back to 2004, U.S. Navy fighter pilots and weapons officers have reported detecting strange objects maneuvering quickly with unheard of agility around their aircraft. The Navy professes to be as mystified as anyone. Jan Tegler and Cat Hofacker went searching for possible explanations. Here is what they found.
For the U.S. and countries that buy its warplanes, the upgrade to fifth-generation fighters won’t be like flipping a switch. In fact, Boeing and Lockheed Martin each have proposals to soup up the designs of their decades-old fourth-generation fighters, the F-15 and F-16. Jan Tegler looks at the arguments for and against the F-15EX and F-21.
Rotorcraft advocates in the U.S. military have been laying the research groundwork to replace many of today’s helicopters with versions that would employ a revolutionary propulsion concept to-be-decided. Jan Tegler looks at the battle to elevate the Future Vertical Lift initiative into an acquisition program and speed up its schedule.