You’ve Got Indirect Mail, Now With GPS!

Well, this doesn’t seem particularly fair.

Army Deploys First GPS-Guided Mortars

Finally, the U.S. army is giving this this infantry workhorse a 21st-century update, fielding GPS-guided mortar rounds for the first time.

One Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan has already received the new rounds, known as Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative cartridges (APMI), and seven more are expected to receive them in the next sixth months. The GPS-guided 120-millimeter mortar rounds will offer infantry commanders precision-strike capability, offering them an alternative to blanketing an area in indirect fire.

. . .

The APMI XM395 cartridge employs a standard 120-millimeter projectile body, but packed in the nose is a GPS receiver and controller that ensures the aerodynamic directional fins guide the shell toward the target. It also contains a multi-functional fuse that can be programmed to detonate upon impact, in the air, or after it penetrates the ground or a structure. Coordinates are dialed into the round using a computer.

See also:
US Army fields first precision-guided mortars to troops in Afghanistan
New GPS-guided mortar fires first round in Afghanistan
Army Fields GPS-Guided Mortar in Afghanistan
Army launches first GPS-guided mortars in Afghanistan
Army delivers GPS-guided mortars to soldiers in Afghanistan
GPS military weapon gives soldiers an edge
GPS Guided Mortar Debuts In Afghanistan

So, now we’ve got programmable bombs, bullets, grenades, and mortar rounds. The main thing that worries me about these systems is that they depend on batteries. If your batteries die and you don’t have spares, you’re screwed, and screwed is one thing you do not want to be in combat.

/how long will it be before we can deploy infantry robots to fight with all these precision guided armaments and we can take our human soldiers out of harm’s way?

Stardust Memories

A mission well played and an efficient use of taxpayer money too. They wrung every last bit of scientific data out of every last dollar.

Lights go out on NASA’s Stardust comet mission

Fresh off a bonus flyby of comet Tempel 1 in February, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft fired its four main engines for more than two minutes Thursday, draining its fuel tank as managers said goodbye to the well-traveled comet chaser after more than 12 years in space.

With Stardust’s single hydrazine fuel tank emptied, the craft lost its ability to control its orientation and the probe’s solar panels were expected to lose track of the sun, and officials anticipated the mission’s battery charge would be exhausted within hours.

Stardust was also programmed to turn off its radio transmitters about 20 minutes after the burn, just in case it might interfere with some future mission using the same frequency.

NASA announced the last transmission from Stardust was received at 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) Thursday. Officials monitored the burn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and issued commands from the Lockheed Martin Corp. mission support center in Denver.

See also:
NASA and Lockheed Martin Say Goodbye to Historic Stardust Spacecraft
NASA’s Venerable Comet Hunter Wraps Up Mission
NASA’s Stardust: Good to the Last Drop
Inside NASA’s Space Funeral for the Comet-Hunting Stardust Probe
NASA kills off comet hunter
Comet-hunting spacecraft shuts down after 12 years
NASA Retires Comet-Hunter Stardust
NASA’s Stardust set to ‘burn to depletion’
NASA’s stardust empties its tank after 12 years
NASA’s ‘Comet Hunter’ Heads Off Into The ‘Sunset’
Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Stardust (spacecraft)

Hopefully they put some type of return address on it.

/maybe, like a note in a bottle, something out there will find Stardust and bring it back home, as long as they’re good aliens that come in peace

Defilade, What Defilade?

Finally, here’s a real magic bullet, not something concocted out of Arlen Specter’s imagination.

GIs testing ‘smart’ weapons that leave nowhere to hide

The combat zone just got a little more high-tech as soldiers in Afghanistan began testing and training on five prototype weapons that fire smart bullets.

Army officials are calling the XM25 Counter Defilade Targeting Engagement System revolutionary since it is the first time soldiers will have a smart weapon in their hands. Smart weapons have some form of a processing unit that allows them to be self-guided or, in this case, have self-adjusting sights and programmable rounds.

The XM25 — which is not much bigger than a standard service rifle — fires 25 mm rounds that can be programmed to explode on impact, in front of or behind an object. The weapon allows soldiers to kill enemies hiding behind walls or other cover by firing above, or to the side, of the wall from up to 700 meters away.

“We call it a game changer,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, the project manager for the XM25 with Program Executive Office Soldier. “From the dawn of direct-fire weapons, soldiers have always been taught if you’re getting shot at or something is being thrown at you, get behind cover, whether it is your shield or a wall. We are essentially taking cover away from the enemy forever with this.”

See also:
‘Nowhere to Hide’: U.S. Army Testing New ‘Smart’ Weapons in Afghanistan
‘Smart weapon’ rifle debuts on Afghanistan’s battlefields
XM-25 Goes To War
U.S. ground soldiers to test ‘smart’ rifle
U.S. army’s XM-25 soon be seen combating in Afghanistan
XM25 Airburst Weapons System
XM25 grenade launcher / air bursting assault weapon (USA)
XM25 Individual Airburst Weapon System

Afghanistan would seem to be the perfect place to test this new weapons system. I wonder how the Taliban feel about being the lab rats?

/don’t bother to duck, you’ll just die hunched over