June 25, 2011

The Real U.S. National Security Budget is $1.2 Trillion and the Real Price of U.S. Wars is $4.4 Trillion



How Much Do the Feds Really Spend on Militarism?

Southern National Network
March 2, 2011

Christopher Hellman tries to nail down the exact mammoth amount of the Feds’ military spending for the American Conservative Magazine [see the following article].

Southerners, as a traditional people, have a martial spirit and have historically been supportive of the military. But we must remember that the Federal military is not our military. We make up a disproportionate percentage of its ranks, but it does the bidding of the corrupt politicians in Washington, DC who never have the best interests of the Southern people in mind.

The US military doesn’t serve Southerners (the Feds’ Militia Act of 1903 took over the State militias – the last vestiges of a free and truly defensive Southern military), it serves the government which conquered Southerners in the 1860s and continues to exploit them.

Today, the Feds are requiring gay sensitivity training for everyone in their military. They are attempting to police and militarily occupy almost the entire planet while they ignore the massive migration from Latin America across the Mexican-US border that is replacing the historic populations of the United States in many areas.

And while the supposedly more conservative of the two parties that run the US Empire attempts to convince everyone that they are interested in cutting the size of the Federal Government, almost no one in DC is interested in cutting back on US military spending – which equals the military spending of all other governments on planet earth combined.

So just how much do the Feds spend to support their many hundreds of foreign military bases, their multiple foreign wars, pay-offs to the Military-Industrial Complex corporations, etc.?

$1.2 Trillion: The Real U.S. National Security Budget No One Wants You to Know About

By Christopher Hellman, Tomdispatch.com
March 3, 2011

What if you went to a restaurant and found it rather pricey? Still, you ordered your meal and, when done, picked up the check only to discover that it was almost twice the menu price.

Welcome to the world of the real U.S. national security budget. Normally, in media accounts, you hear about the Pentagon budget and the war-fighting supplementary funds passed by Congress for our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That already gets you into a startling price range — close to $700 billion for 2012 — but that’s barely more than half of it.

If Americans were ever presented with the real bill for the total U.S. national security budget, it would actually add up to more than $1.2 trillion a year.

Take that in for a moment. It’s true; you won’t find that figure in your daily newspaper or on your nightly newscast, but it’s no misprint. It may even be an underestimate. In any case, it’s the real thing when it comes to your tax dollars.

The simplest way to grasp just how Americans could pay such a staggering amount annually for “security” is to go through what we know about the U.S. national security budget, step by step, and add it all up.

So, here we go. Buckle your seat belt: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Fortunately for us, on February 14th the Obama administration officially released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget request. Of course, it hasn’t been passed by Congress — even the 2011 budget hasn’t made it through that august body yet — but at least we have the most recent figures available for our calculations.

For 2012, the White House has requested $558 billion for the Pentagon’s annual “base” budget, plus an additional $118 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At $676 billion, that’s already nothing to sneeze at, but it’s just the barest of beginnings when it comes to what American taxpayers will actually spend on national security. Think of it as the gigantic tip of a humongous iceberg.

To get closer to a real figure, it’s necessary to start peeking at other parts of the federal budget where so many other pots of security spending are squirreled away.

Missing from the Pentagon’s budget request, for example, is an additional $19.3 billion for nuclear-weapons-related activities like making sure our current stockpile of warheads will work as expected and cleaning up the waste created by seven decades of developing and producing them. That money, however, officially falls in the province of the Department of Energy. And then, don’t forget an additional $7.8 billion that the Pentagon lumps into a “miscellaneous” category — a kind of department of chump change — that is included in neither its base budget nor those war-fighting funds.

So, even though we’re barely started, we’ve already hit a total official FY 2012 Pentagon budget request of:

$703.1 billion dollars.

Not usually included in national security spending are hundreds of billions of dollars that American taxpayers are asked to spend to pay for past wars, and to support our current and future national security strategy.

For starters, that $117.8 billion war-funding request for the Department of Defense doesn’t include certain actual “war-related fighting” costs. Take, for instance, the counterterrorism activities of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

For the first time, just as with the Pentagon budget, the FY 2012 request divides what’s called “International Affairs” in two: that is, into an annual “base” budget as well as funding for “Overseas Contingency Operations” related to Iraq and Afghanistan. (In the Bush years, these used to be called the Global War on Terror.) The State Department’s contribution? $8.7 billion. That brings the grand but very partial total so far to:

$711.8 billion.

The White House has also requested $71.6 billion for a post-2001 category called “homeland security” — of which $18.1 billion is funded through the Department of Defense. The remaining $53.5 billion goes through various other federal accounts, including the Department of Homeland Security ($37 billion), the Department of Health and Human Services ($4.6 billion), and the Department of Justice ($4.6 billion).

All of it is, however, national security funding which brings our total to:

$765.3 billion.

The U.S. intelligence budget was technically classified prior to 2007, although at roughly $40 billion annually, it was considered one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington. Since then, as a result of recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, Congress has required that the government reveal the total amount spent on intelligence work related to the National Intelligence Program (NIP).

This work done by federal agencies like the CIA and the National Security Agency consists of keeping an eye on and trying to understand what other nations are doing and thinking, as well as a broad range of “covert operations” such as those being conducted in Pakistan. In this area, we won’t have figures until FY 2012 ends. The latest NIP funding figure we do have is $53.1 billion for FY 2010. There’s little question that the FY 2012 figure will be higher, but let’s be safe and stick with what we know. (Keep in mind that the government spends plenty more on “intelligence.”

Additional funds for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), however, are already included in the Pentagon’s 2012 base budget and war-fighting supplemental, though we don’t know what they are. The FY 2010 funding for MIP, again the latest figure available, was $27 billion.) In any case, add that $53.1 billion and we’re at:

$818.4 billion.

Veterans programs are an important part of the national security budget with the projected funding figure for 2012 being $129.3 billion. Of this, $59 billion is for veterans’ hospital and medical care, $70.3 billion for disability pensions and education programs. This category of national security funding has been growing rapidly in recent years because of the soaring medical-care needs of veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, by 2020 total funding for health-care services for veterans will have risen another 45%-75%. In the meantime, for 2012 we’ve reached:

$947.7 billion.

If you include the part of the foreign affairs budget not directly related to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other counterterrorism operations, you have an additional $18 billion in direct security spending. Of this, $6.6 billion is for military aid to foreign countries, while almost $2 billion goes for “international peacekeeping” operations. A further $709 million has been designated for countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating terrorism, and clearing landmines planted in regional conflicts around the globe. This leaves us at:

$965.7 billion.

As with all federal retirees, U.S. military retirees and former civilian Department of Defense employees receive pension benefits from the government. The 2012 figure is $48.5 billion for military personnel, $20 billion for those civilian employees, which means we’ve now hit:

$1,034.2 billion. (Yes, that’s $1.03 trillion!)

When the federal government lacks sufficient funds to pay all of its obligations, it borrows. Each year, it must pay the interest on this debt which, for FY 2012, is projected at $474.1 billion. The National Priorities Project calculates that 39% of that, or $185 billion, comes from borrowing related to past Pentagon spending.

Add it all together and the grand total for the known national security budget of the United States is:

$1,219.2 billion. (That’s more than $1.2 trillion.)

A country with a gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion would have the 15th largest economy in the world, ranking between Canada and Indonesia, and ahead of Australia, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia. Still, don’t for a second think that $1.2 trillion is the actual grand total for what the U.S. government spends on national security.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously spoke of the world’s “known unknowns.” Explaining the phrase this way:

“That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know.”
It’s a concept that couldn’t apply better to the budget he once oversaw.

When it comes to U.S. national security spending, there are some relevant numbers we know are out there, even if we simply can’t calculate them.

To take one example, how much of NASA’s proposed $18.7 billion budget falls under national security spending? We know that the agency works closely with the Pentagon. NASA satellite launches often occur from the Air Force’s facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Air Force has its own satellite launch capability, but how much of that comes as a result of NASA technology and support? In dollars terms, we just don’t know.

Other “known unknowns” would include portions of the State Department budget. One assumes that at least some of its diplomatic initiatives promote our security interests. Similarly, we have no figure for the pensions of non-Pentagon federal retirees who worked on security issues for the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, or the Departments of Justice and Treasury. Nor do we have figures for the interest on moneys borrowed to fund veterans’ benefits, among other national security-related matters.

The bill for such known unknowns could easily run into the tens of billions of dollars annually, putting the full national security budget over the $1.3 trillion mark or even higher.

There’s a simple principle here. American taxpayers should know just what they are paying for. In a restaurant, a customer would be outraged to receive a check almost twice as high as the menu promised. We have no idea whether the same would be true in the world of national security spending, because Americans are never told what national security actually means at the cash register.

Price of U.S. Wars: $4.4 Trillion?

Politico
June 29, 2011

The final bill for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could be as much as $4.4 trillion, according to a comprehensive report Tuesday.

In the 10 years since American troops were sent into Afghanistan, the federal government has already spent $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion, say the authors of the study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

The report calculates not only direct spending on the conflicts but also the long-term costs of caring for wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012-20.

At a minimum, according to the authors of the study, the final cost for these military engagements will be $3.7 trillion. But the report also points out that their estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments and other costs that cannot yet be quantified. Indeed, the report criticized the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon for poor accounting.

Although the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been made public, the report notes, it is not yet clear how many soldiers return to the United States with injuries and illnesses. New disability claims are submitted on an ongoing basis, and many injuries among U.S. contractors have not been reported publicly, further complicating calculations of the costs of war.

Even as President Barack Obama recently announced plans for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the report asserts that conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue through the decade, adding to financial and human cost.

The report puts the number of civilian deaths to date at approximately 137,000, and the total number of deaths attributable to military conflict in these countries, in uniform or out of uniform, to around 225,000. The study also suggests that the number of war refugees and displaced persons now total about 7.8 million.

“Costs of War,” as the study was titled, was a joint project that involved the work of over twenty academics, including economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts and a physician.

How Much Will Our Wars Cost? Report Says $4 Trillion

By Liz Goodwin, The Lookout
June 29, 2011

A new report out of Brown University estimates that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--together with the counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan--will, all told, cost $4 trillion and leave 225,000 dead, both civilians and soldiers.

The group of economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists involved in the project estimated that the cost of caring for the veterans injured in the wars will reach $1 trillion in 30 or 40 years. In estimating the $4 trillion total, they did not take into account the $5.3 billion in reconstruction spending the government has promised Afghanistan, state and local contributions to veteran care, interest payments on war debt, or the costs of Medicare for veterans when they reach 65.

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has assessed the federal price tag for the wars at $1.8 trillion through 2021. The report says that is a gross underestimate, predicting that the government has already paid $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

More than 6,000 U.S. troops and 2,300 contractors have died since the wars began after Sept. 11. A staggering 550,000 disability claims have been filed with the VA as of 2010. Meanwhile, 137,000 civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have died in the conflict. (Injuries among U.S. contractors have also not yet been made public, further complicating the calculations of cost.) Nearly 8 million people have been displaced. Check out Reuters' factbox breaking down the costs and casualties here.

Perhaps the most sobering conclusion of the researchers is that it's unclear whether the human and economic costs are worth it. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are now dead, the Taliban is marginalized, and the dangerous terrorist network al-Qaeda has been all but destroyed. But Iraq and Afghanistan are far from being stable democracies.

Meanwhile, the half a percentage point a year in GDP growth the war has fueled has been offset by the enormous increase in the national deficit, the report says.

"We decided we needed to do this kind of rigorous assessment of what it cost to make those choices to go to war," study co-director Catherine Lutz told Reuters. "Politicians, we assumed, were not going to do that kind of assessment."

The researchers recommend that the U.S. government be more transparent in disclosing the costs of its wars to taxpayers, by including the costs of future health care for veterans, the cost of paying interest on debt taken out to fund the wars, and estimating how much state and local governments take on in war costs. You can see their recommendations here.

Congress Approves Largest Military Budget Since World War II, Amounting to 19 Percent of All Federal Spending; Military Spending Has Increased 100 Percent Since 1998

With 2.25 million full-time civilian and military personnel, excluding part-time National Guard and Reserve members, the Defense Department is the U.S.’s largest employer, outstripping Walmart with 1.4 million employees and the U.S Post Office with 599,000.

"We must learn the lessons of history. The Roman Republic was the longest-standing republic in the history of mankind. The Roman Empire lasted over a thousand years. There were many people that said Rome was too big to fail. I am sure that most of the citizens of the Roman Empire felt that way. The simple facts of the matter are that Rome fell for at least four reasons, and please listen carefully: a decline in moral values and political civility at home; an overconfident and overextended military; fiscal irresponsibility by the central government; and an inability to control one’s borders. Does that sound familiar? It’s time to wake up, study history, learn from it, and take steps to make sure that we are the first republic to stand the test of time." - David Walker, Former Comptroller General of the Government Accounting Office, Transforming Government to Meet the Demands of the 21st Century, August 7, 2007

Blacklisted News
December 25, 2010

On December 22nd, both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

The proposed figure for the Pentagon’s 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year’s dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone.

Last year’s Pentagon budget, by way of comparison, was $680 billion, a base budget of $533.8 billion and the remainder for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In July of this year Congress approved the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act which contained an additional $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Next year’s defense authorization of $725 billion compares to, according to the Center for Defense Information, a Pentagon budget of $444.6 billion in 1946; $460.4 billion in 1968, the highest yearly amount during the Vietnam War; and $443.4 billion in 1988, the highest during the eight years of the Ronald Reagan administration’s massive military buildup. (Numbers in 2004 constant dollars.)

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending.

In addition, Pentagon spending has increased by 100 percent since 1998 and “the Obama budget plans to spend more on the Pentagon over eight years than any administration has since World War II.”

With 2.25 million full-time civilian and military personnel, excluding part-time National Guard and Reserve members, the Defense Department is the U.S.’s largest employer, outstripping Walmart with 1.4 million employees and the U.S Post Office with 599,000.

“Add in what Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Energy departments spend on defense and total US military spending will reach $861 billion in fiscal 2011, exceeding that of all other nations combined,” according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
In April Robert Higgs of The Independent Institute advocated that the budgets – in part or in whole – of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy, State and Treasury and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be calculated in the real military budget, which would in 2009 would have increased it to $901.5 billion.
“Adding [the] interest component to the previous all-agency total, the grand total comes to $1,027.8 billion, which is 61.5 percent greater than the Pentagon’s outlays alone.”

Taxpayers on the Hook for Retiree Costs for Not Just Federal Employees But Also Federal Contractors

As with all federal retirees, U.S. military retirees and former civilian Department of Defense employees receive pension benefits from the government. The 2012 figure is $48.5 billion for military personnel, $20 billion for those civilian employees. We have no figure for the pensions of non-Pentagon federal retirees who worked on security issues for the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, or the Departments of Justice and Treasury [The Real U.S. National Security Budget is $1.2 Trillion, Tomdispatch.com, March 3, 2011].

It is one thing for the taxpaying citizens of the United States to know that federal employees are being provided for (including matching deposits into all versions of the Civil Service Retirement), but now the General Accounting Office (GAO) has come out with a new report showing that taxpayers are providing retirement benefits, including pensions and health care, for independent/freelance (private) contractors not on the federal payroll. Taxpayers also cover these retiree costs for contractors' spouses, too. And, in some cases, if contractors want to retire early (at age 50), just like regular federal workers, many can then get taxpayer-funded coverage. A statistic from this GAO Report is as follows: "For the Department of Energy alone, overall this coverage cost taxpayers $6.8 billion over the last 10 years." Note that this situation is ongoing for years.

If private citizens cannot collect Social Security benefits until age 62, and if the maximum Social Security benefit is $21,636 per individual, then why are federal employees allowed to retire at age 50 and why aren't their pensions capped at $21,636 per individual. Many federal retirees have annual pensions of $40,000 or more.

Your Tax Receipt for the Management of Federal Employees and Retirees

Management of federal employees and buildings (1.4%) $47,980,000,000
Federal retirement and disability benefits (3.2%) $110,061,000,000
Federal employees and retirees health benefits (0.2%) $7,140,000,000
General Services Administration (0.0%) $861,000,000
Office of Personnel Management administration (0.0%) $253,000,000
Merit Systems Protection Board (0.0%) $38,000,000
Legal services for government employees and applicants (0.0%) $18,000,000
Office of Government Ethics (0.0%) $13,000,000
Administrative support for federal agencies (0.0%) $1,000,000
Government reports and information distribution (0.0%) -$7,000,000
Federal employee flexible spending account reserve fund (0.0%) -$15,000,000
Federal employee life insurance benefit (0.0%) -$1,455,000,000
Federal payment for employer share of Medicare taxes (-0.1%) -$4,042,000,000
Department of Defense Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund (-0.2%) -$7,780,000,000
Fed payment for employer share of Social Security taxes (-0.4%) -$14,936,000,000
Fed payment for employer share of retirement & disability (-1.2%) -$42,170,000,000

Taxpayers on the Hook for Retiree Costs for Federal Contractors

Of course it comes out of our pockets... We not only are on the hook for the juicy unionized public servants' retirement payouts, but also for retirements of labor union third-party federal contractors...

FOXBusiness
June 10, 2011

A surprising new government report shows that taxpayers have been footing the bill for retiree benefits not just for federal workers, but for independent freelance contractors who do work for the government as well. And no one is watching the store to see if your tax dollars are being wasted.

Taxpayers for years have been covering private contractors' retiree costs for things like pensions and health care, even though these workers are not on the federal payroll.

Taxpayers also cover these retiree costs for contractors' spouses, too, and in some cases if contractors want to retire early (at age 50), just like regular federal workers, many can then get taxpayer-funded coverage, says an official at the Government Accountability office.

For the Department of Energy alone, overall this coverage cost taxpayers $6.8 billion over the last 10 years, according to the new GAO report recently sent to Congress. Nine out of ten dollars spent on the DOE's annual budget goes towards contracts, including contractor retiree benefits.

The problem is, the GAO tells FOX Business it only knows about this problem at the DOE -- no one in government knows, or is tracking with regular, transparent reports to Congress, the tax money going out the door for these costs at other agencies, like the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, or NASA.

The lion's share of the DOE’s workforce is private contractors, most of whom work in the nuclear energy sector. DOE has the largest private contractor workforce in the federal government.
“We can't speak for other contractors, but what we found at DOE is that these numbers were not transparent to Congress and recommended they be more transparent,” the GAO tells FOX Business.
Also, no one in government is tracking whether taxpayers are double-covering retiree costs for workers employed at big companies that already cover them, like Boeing (BA: 73.85, -0.79, -1.06%) or Lockheed Martin (LMT: 79.63, -0.01, -0.01%). Moreover, the GAO says in a new report the DOE has to set aside "significantly" more funds for these costs "since the economic downturn."

The GAO adds that the DOE has "limited influence" over reining in contractor retiree benefit costs.
"By contract, DOE must reimburse these costs," the GAO says.
The DOE reimburses the companies directly.

The GAO reports that the DOE says it is facing budget strains due to covering these costs.
"DOE will likely continue to face significant challenges managing the costs of those benefits and mitigating their impact on funding available for the department's mission activities," its report said.
Most of DOE’s budget for contract work is to hire freelance companies that do things like cleanup work at nuclear sites, or do outsourcing work running the business operations of our nation’s laboratories.

DOE bears the responsibility, according to its contracts, for reimbursing contractors for retiree benefits for an estimated 200,000 people, including 100,000 current and former contractor employees, and 100,000 beneficiaries of those employees, such as spouses.

Taxpayer costs for federal contractors’ retiree benefits at the DOE has been volatile. They ranged from as little as $43 million in 2001 to as high as three quarters of a billion dollars in 2009, the GAO says. In fiscal 2008 to 2009, such costs more than doubled, the GAO adds, because of a drop in the interest rate used to calculate contractors’ pension plan liabilities, and because the pension assets plunged in value as the overall market dropped due to the financial crisis.

As is the case across the board, volatile investment returns can drastically impact pension contributions for government contractors, and in turn taxpayer costs to cover them.
"As a result, DOE ultimately bears the investment risk incurred by the contractor sponsoring the plan," the GAO said in its report.
At the same time, federal refunds for contractors’ health care benefits grew by 10%, to $389 million. But all the DOE can do in the face of such funding problems, the GAO says, is to urge contractors to make appropriate investment choices that reduce volatility. It has no power to restructure these plans, the GAO says, as its role is limited to oversight, even though it could do so at the contract stage. The DOE also does not give guidance on how to pick the right coverage nor does it tell contractors how they should allocate plan assets, says the GAO.

The DOE is moving to advocate to contractors that they use 401(k) plans, instead of traditional pension plans that guarantee retirees get set payments each month.

The GAO also reported back in 2008 that the DOE has taken steps to tackle the cost of these benefits that contractors offer to new workers. But the GAO says those moves "were not expected to substantially affect the department's contractor pension and other post-retirement benefit costs for the next 20 to 30 years," since current employees would still earn benefits on their existing plans.

Each contractor negotiates its own pension benefits separately, so reimbursements vary widely among the 50 pension plans the DOE covers. The GAO said a dozen of the contractor pension plans make up 86% of the DOE's total contractor pension liabilities, with the three largest plans accounting for more than a third of all of the DOE's pension liabilities.

June 24, 2011

Drones May Well Be the 'Locusts' That Come Out from the Smoke of the Bottomless Pit (Updated 6/18/15)



And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. - Revelation 9:1-5



In first-century terms, the disciple John describes 'locusts' that come out from the smoke caused when the bottomless pit is opened to release the devil during the tribulation of the last days (Revelation, chapter 9). These locust-like creatures could be the next generation of drones (videos of the present generation are below). John sees in the vision presented to him that 'locusts' torment men without the seal of God for five months:
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
John describes the 'locusts' with both human and non-human features (shaped like horses prepared unto battle, crowns like gold on their heads, faces of men, hair of women, teeth of lions, breastplates of iron, and tails like unto scorpions ):
"The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."
The Lord reassures His people (those with "the seal of God in their foreheads") that He will protect them from the torment of these locust-like creatures which will come upon the earth in the last days.



Drones could soon hunt in Packs

Darpa is hosting meetings to discuss how aircraft could work together to find, identify and engage targets with fewer humans controlling them (illustrated). Its 'Code' programme is also designed to  cut the number of operators needed to control a single unmanned vehicle, allowing one person to operate six simultaneously

The Daily Mail
January 26, 2015
  • Darpa is hosting meetings to discuss how aircraft could work together to find, identify and engage targets with fewer humans controlling them (illustrated). Its 'Code' programme is also designed to cut the number of operators needed to control a single unmanned vehicle, allowing one person to operate six simultaneously Darpa will host a number of meetings in March to discuss how drones could work together to find, identify and engage targets
  • Aims to enable one human operator to control a pack of drones
  • Software could ‘extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft,’ and make them more autonomous
  • Idea for drones that hunt in packs was floated in the US Department of Defence's Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap for the next 25 years
Click here to read the rest of the article.

Drones of the Future Will Make Own Decisions and Hunt in Swarms

Prepare for "swarms" of unmanned drones able to choose their own targets 

By Eliana Dockterman, Time
January 2, 2014

Drones will eventually be equipped with stronger chemical weapons and able to make their own decisions, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Defense.

In a 25-year roadmap for unmanned vehicles, the DoD revealed it hopes to increase drone capabilities in order to save money and better protect the nation’s skies. Currently, drones require extensive manpower on the ground in order to fly and follow precise commands. But in order to cut down on the expense of pilots, the DoD plans to build autonomous drones able to deviate from given missions to pursue a better target, by following a certain set of “laws” delineated by algorithms and advanced sensors.

Drones will also be able to hunt in “swarms” launched from an unmanned “mothership.” These so-called kamikaze drones will be programmed to crash into targets.

Other drones will be equipped with even more deadly chemical weapons.



Drones That May Fly ‘Indefinitely’ Can Be Recharged By Lasers

KNX 1070, Los Angeles
July 18, 2012

A recently demonstrated breakthrough in technology may help Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones, stay airborne for very long periods of time before having to return to Earth.

This development comes at a time when the U.S. government is actively encouraging the domestic use of drones, first by law enforcement, and later, by private concerns.

Lockheed Martin and a company called LaserMotive have been able to keep a drone flying for some 49 hours non-stop, using a ground-based laser to recharge the drone’s on board battery, says Tom Koonce, the project manager for Lockheed Martin, in an interview with KNX1070 Newsradio.

The test, says Koonce, was conducted in a wind tunnel in Palmdale. The system will very soon be tested in actual airspace in the desert, requiring coordination with both the FAA and NASA to keep the ground-based laser from interfering with either commercial aircraft or Earth-orbiting space vehicles.
“Maybe it’s police, maybe it’s fire, maybe it’s emergency services. If they need to be up overhead for a long period of time, that makes a lot of sense to put a system like this in place,” says Koonce, who also told KNX1070′s Charles Feldman that “it aligns very well with the president’s directive to the FAA to prepare unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace to integrate them seamlessly by 2015.”
And, when the airborne drone senses it is low on “fuel,” its internal GPS would automatically guide it back to circle the ground-based laser system in order to get a re-charge.

How long could a drone be kept in the air using this laser recharging system? Koonce says, in theory, indefinitely.

Most people think of drones as weapons used to combat terrorists in far off places, but that is likely to soon change now that the FAA has streamlined the application process for law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to fly drones.

As previously reported by KNX1070 in our series “The Age of Drones,” both the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff have been looking into buying drones but neither agency has yet to actually purchase one, they say.

The notion of drones flying around snapping pictures of people below has raised the concern of critics who worry that the devices might be abused by police agencies and usher in a new age of aerial Big Brother. The idea of drones that may be kept flying for indefinite periods of time will likely fuel that concern.

Yet, as Koonce points out, being able to keep a drone airborne for a protracted period has its advantages for such things as sporting events and political conventions.



Why The Predator Drone Needs A Little Bit Of 'Horse Hair'

Drone North Dakota

Business Insider
January 2, 2014

During a recent trip to North Dakota to tour drone facilities, we got the opportunity to meet a bunch of actual military drone pilots and see some drones up close.

One of the pilots pointed out this fancy little thing called a "horse hair" (on the smaller MQ-1 Predator) that allows pilots to see how steady their hands are as they land.

Apparently, inside that dark circle sits a camera that pilots can look through as they land the drone. Most of the flying is incredibly hands free, but takeoffs and landings are still done manually.

The tilt of the horsehair in the air shows how well the pilot is flying, or, as the pilot put it, it shows "how much you suck."

Here's another low-tech piece of gear on a drone: this Rollerblade-like wheel protects the tail during a bumpy landing.

Drone North Dakota

Next Generation of Drones Inspired by the Insect World

Daily Mail
August 1, 2011

The next generation of military robots is set to be based on designs inspired by the insect world.
The dragonfly drones and cyborg moths, with in-built micro-cameras, could revolutionise spying missions and rescue operations. The advantage of using drones is that they can be used in emergency situations too dangerous for people and in secret military surveillance raids.

Housefly: Scientists hope to harness insects' extraordinary flying ability to cut down the size of military drones
Housefly: Scientists hope to harness insects' extraordinary flying ability to cut down the size of military drones

And new research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-engineered to design midget machines to scout battlefields and search for victims trapped in rubble.

Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved over millennia to the perfect conditions for flight.

Zoologist Richard Bomphrey, of Oxford University, is leading a study to generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350 million years. He said:
'Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying machines.

'By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings.'
Drone: Unmanned aircraft are currently used for surveillance and bombing missions, but their large size makes them unwieldy
Drone: Unmanned aircraft are currently used for surveillance and bombing missions, but their large size makes them unwieldy

The insect manoeuvrability, which allows flies the ability to land precisely and fly off again at speed, may one day save lives in wars and disasters.

The military would like to develop tiny robots that can fly inside caves and barricaded rooms to send back real-time intelligence about the people and weapons inside.
Dr Bomphrey said:
'Scary spider robots were featured in Michael Crichton's 1980s film Runaway -- but our robots will be much more scaled down and look more like the quidditch ball in the Harry Potter films, because of its ability to hover and flutter.

'The problem for scientists at the moment is that aircrafts can't hover and helicopters can't go fast. And it is impossible to make them very small.
'With insects you get a combination of both these assets in miniature. And when you consider we have been flying for just over a hundred years as opposed to 350 million years, I would say it is they who have got it right, and not us!'
Currently, the smallest of state-of-the-art fixed-wing unmanned surveillance vehicles are around a foot wide. The incorporation of flapping wings is the secret to making the new designs so small.

To achieve flight, any object requires a combination of thrust and lift. In manmade aircraft, two separate devices -- engines and wings -- are needed to generate these, but this limits the scope for miniaturising flying machines.

An insect's flapping wings combine both thrust and lift. If man-made vehicles could emulate this more efficient approach, it would be possible to scale down flying machines to much smaller dimensions than is currently possible.

Dr Bomphrey said:
'This will require a much more detailed understanding than we currently have of how insect wings have evolved, and specifically of how different types of insect wing have evolved for different purposes.'
The team's groundbreaking work has attracted the attention of NATO, the US Air Force and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development.

The research is expected to produce findings that can be used by the defence industry within three to five years, leading to the development and widespread deployment of insect-sized flying machines in the next two decades.

Dr Bomphrey said:
'This is just one more example of how we can learn important lessons from nature. Tiny flying machines could provide the perfect way of exploring all kinds of dark, dangerous and dirty places.'

Terrifying New ‘Insect Drones’ May Soon Be Buzzing Our Skies…





Nature has perfected something that us humans simply stumbled upon. In doing research and development of drones, engineers were struggling with one major problem: how to make drones be able to dodge and fly around objects, move with extreme agility, and navigate the elements that Mother Nature produces.

Well, Mother Nature herself had the answer to their problems. Engineers soon realized that she had perfected flight, in the form of insects, which were ‘engineered’ vastly different than what man had produced thus far: they had flapping wings, whereas man had always made it’s flight possible with ‘fixed-wing’ aircraft.
No longer…
Engineers have began producing tiny drones that mimic the biological technology that pesky insects exhibit on a daily basis. They designed drones that were just like insects…thus…the Microdrone.
Let the Apocalyptical theories begin…

Engineers have developed drones based on technology Mother Nature has provided through insects, and are calling these new drones 'Microdrones'

Engineers have developed drones based on technology Mother Nature has provided through insects, and are calling these new drones ‘Microdrones’

Mother Nature has had this technology available for millions of years. We have merely discovered it's existence.

Mother Nature has had this technology available for millions of years. We have merely discovered it’s existence.

Apparently traditional 'Fixed-wing' aircraft are pretty old school now...

Apparently traditional ‘Fixed-wing’ aircraft are pretty old school now…

"The robots you know tomorrow are going to look like nothing you know today. More likely, they will look like the animals around you.." says Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute.

“The robots you know tomorrow are going to look like nothing you know today. More likely, they will look like the animals around you..” says Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute.

The Microdrones can fly, bump into things, recover, and keep flying.

The Microdrones can fly, bump into things, recover, and keep flying.

The Microdrones can fly, bump into things, recover, and keep flying.

This is one of the first ones developed by researchers at Harvard University.

Most of them have shock absorbers that are designed from the bodies of house flies.

Most of them have shock absorbers that are designed from the bodies of house flies.

Some of these robotic insects could perform humanitarian efforts, such as searching disaster areas for survivors.

Some of these robotic insects could perform humanitarian efforts, such as searching disaster areas for survivors.

Some could have agricultural benefits, such as pollination that real bees usually do. Others could monitor traffic, or be used for environmental research.

Some could have agricultural benefits, such as pollination that real bees usually do. Others could monitor traffic, or be used for environmental research.

US military developing insect surveillance drones

PressTV
July 28, 2012

Reports indicate the US military has poured huge sums of money into surveillance drone miniaturization and is developing micro aircraft which now come in a swarm of bug-sized flying spies.

According to various internet sources, a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Arlington, Virginia, is helping develop what they are calling a micro aerial vehicle (MAV) that will undertake various espionage tasks.
The robotic insect can effortlessly infiltrate urban areas, where dense concentrations of buildings and people, along with unpredictable winds and other obstacles make it impractical.
It can be controlled from a great distance and is equipped with a camera and a built-in microphone.

The new device has the capability to land precisely on human skin, use its super-micron sized needle to take DNA samples and fly off again at speed. All people feel is the pain of a mosquito bite without the burning sensation and the swelling of course.
The hard-to-detect surveillance drone can also inject a micro radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking device right under skin, and can be used to inject toxins into enemies during wars.
As early as in 2007, the US government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies when anti-war protesters in the United States saw some flying objects similar to dragonflies or little helicopters hovering above them.

The US is not alone in miniaturizing drones that imitate nature: France, the Netherlands and Israel are also developing similar devices.

France has developed flapping wing bio-inspired micro drones. The Netherlands BioMAV (Biologically Inspired AI for Micro Aerial Vehicles) has also built Parrot AR drones.
Meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has produced a butterfly-shaped drone, weighing just 20 grams, which can gather intelligence inside buildings.
The insect drone, with its 0.15-gram camera and memory card, is managed remotely with a special helmet. Putting on the helmet, the operator finds themselves in the “butterfly’s cockpit” and virtually sees what the butterfly sees in real time.

Flashback: Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs

The Washington Post
October 9, 2007

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.
"I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects."
Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.
"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "
That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.

No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely.

The robobugs could follow suspects, guide missiles to targets or navigate the crannies of collapsed buildings to find survivors.

The technical challenges of creating robotic insects are daunting, and most experts doubt that fully working models exist yet.
"If you find something, let me know," said Gary Anderson of the Defense Department's Rapid Reaction Technology Office.
But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s. And given recent advances, even skeptics say there is always a chance that some agency has quietly managed to make something operational.
"America can be pretty sneaky," said Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert in unmanned aerial vehicles who is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit Washington-based research institute.
Robotic fliers have been used by the military since World War II, but in the past decade their numbers and level of sophistication have increased enormously. Defense Department documents describe nearly 100 different models in use today, some as tiny as birds, and some the size of small planes.

All told, the nation's fleet of flying robots logged more than 160,000 flight hours last year -- a more than fourfold increase since 2003. A recent report by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College warned that if traffic rules are not clarified soon, the glut of unmanned vehicles "could render military airspace chaotic and potentially dangerous."

But getting from bird size to bug size is not a simple matter of making everything smaller.
"You can't make a conventional robot of metal and ball bearings and just shrink the design down," said Ronald Fearing, a roboticist at the University of California at Berkeley. For one thing, the rules of aerodynamics change at very tiny scales and require wings that flap in precise ways -- a huge engineering challenge.
Only recently have scientists come to understand how insects fly -- a biomechanical feat that, despite the evidence before scientists' eyes, was for decades deemed "theoretically impossible." Just last month, researchers at Cornell University published a physics paper clarifying how dragonflies adjust the relative motions of their front and rear wings to save energy while hovering.

That kind of finding is important to roboticists because flapping fliers tend to be energy hogs, and batteries are heavy.

The CIA was among the earliest to tackle the problem. The "insectothopter," developed by the agency's Office of Research and Development 30 years ago, looked just like a dragonfly and contained a tiny gasoline engine to make the four wings flap. It flew but was ultimately declared a failure because it could not handle crosswinds.

Agency spokesman George Little said he could not talk about what the CIA may have done since then. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service also declined to discuss the topic.

Only the FBI offered a declarative denial.
"We don't have anything like that," a spokesman said.


The Defense Department is trying, though.

In one approach, researchers funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are inserting computer chips into moth pupae -- the intermediate stage between a caterpillar and a flying adult -- and hatching them into healthy "cyborg moths."

The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project aims to create literal shutterbugs -- camera-toting insects whose nerves have grown into their internal silicon chip so that wranglers can control their activities. DARPA researchers are also raising cyborg beetles with power for various instruments to be generated by their muscles.
"You might recall that Gandalf the friendly wizard in the recent classic 'Lord of the Rings' used a moth to call in air support," DARPA program manager Amit Lal said at a symposium in August. Today, he said, "this science fiction vision is within the realm of reality."
A DARPA spokeswoman denied a reporter's request to interview Lal or others on the project.
The cyborg insect project has its share of doubters.
"I'll be seriously dead before that program deploys," said vice admiral Joe Dyer, former commander of the Naval Air Systems Command, now at iRobot in Burlington, Mass., which makes household and military robots.
By contrast, fully mechanical micro-fliers are advancing quickly.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have made a "microbat ornithopter" that flies freely and fits in the palm of one's hand. A Vanderbilt University team has made a similar device.

With their sail-like wings, neither of those would be mistaken for insects. In July, however, a Harvard University team got a truly fly-like robot airborne, its synthetic wings buzzing at 120 beats per second.
"It showed that we can manufacture the articulated, high-speed structures that you need to re-create the complex wing motions that insects produce," said team leader Robert Wood.
The fly's vanishingly thin materials were machined with lasers, then folded into three-dimensional form "like a micro-origami," he said. Alternating electric fields make the wings flap. The whole thing weighs just 65 milligrams, or a little more than the plastic head of a push pin.

Still, it can fly only while attached to a threadlike tether that supplies power, evidence that significant hurdles remain.

In August, at the International Symposium on Flying Insects and Robots, held in Switzerland, Japanese researchers introduced radio-controlled fliers with four-inch wingspans that resemble hawk moths. Those who watch them fly, its creator wrote in the program, "feel something of 'living souls.' "

Others, taking a tip from the CIA, are making fliers that run on chemical fuels instead of batteries. The "entomopter," in early stages of development at the Georgia Institute of Technology and resembling a toy plane more than a bug, converts liquid fuel into a hot gas, which powers four flapping wings and ancillary equipment.
"You can get more energy out of a drop of gasoline than out of a battery the size of a drop of gasoline," said team leader Robert Michelson.
Even if the technical hurdles are overcome, insect-size fliers will always be risky investments.
"They can get eaten by a bird, they can get caught in a spider web," said Fearing of Berkeley. "No matter how smart you are -- you can put a Pentium in there -- if a bird comes at you at 30 miles per hour there's nothing you can do about it."
Protesters might even nab one with a net -- one of many reasons why Ehrhard, the former Air Force colonel, and other experts said they doubted that the hovering bugs spotted in Washington were spies.

So what was seen by Crane, Alarcon and a handful of others at the D.C. march -- and as far back as 2004, during the Republican National Convention in New York, when one observant but perhaps paranoid peace-march participant described on the Web "a jet-black dragonfly hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th avenue . . . watching us"?

They probably saw dragonflies, said Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Washington is home to some large, spectacularly adorned dragonflies that "can knock your socks off," he said.

At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.
"Dragonflies never fly in a pack," he said.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies.
If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, "it would be a significant violation of people's civil rights."
For many roboticists still struggling to get off the ground, however, that concern -- and their technology's potential role -- seems superfluous.
"I don't want people to get paranoid, but what can I say?" Fearing said. "Cellphone cameras are already everywhere. It's not that much different."


Robot Wars, SkyNet, the Beast and the False Prophet

Endtime Prophecy Net
November 12, 2007; Last Updated on January 3, 2009

As some of my regular readers may already know, I have been a follower of developments within the fields of robotics and nanotechnology for a number of years now. Not only do I find these topics interesting, but I believe that it is important that we have a grasp of where these fields are heading, as they may possibly help us to better understand some of the rather cryptic visions which are found in the Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, as it is commonly known.

For example, in chapter nine, after the fifth Angel has blown his trumpet, we find the following intriguing Scriptures which describe the deadly locusts which ascend out of the Bottomless Pit, led by the demonic leader known as Abbadon, (or Apollyon in Greek); which literally means the Destroyer:"
"And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months." Revelation 9:7-10, KJV
Obviously, these creatures are not regular locusts as we know them. Is it possible that they've been genetically modified; or could it be that they are not locusts at all, but rather something entirely different? We need to consider that given the time period in which John was given his visions, and the unusual appearance of these creatures, the best that he could possibly do was to compare them with something with which he was familiar, and that apparently was locusts. According to Thayer's Greek lexicon, the word translated in these verses as "locusts" is derived from the Greek word "akris", which it defines as follows:
A locust, particularly that species which especially infests oriental countries, stripping fields and trees. Numberless swarms of them almost every spring are carried by the wind from Arabia into Palestine, and having devastated that country, migrate to regions farther north, until they perish by falling into the sea. The Orientals accustomed to feed upon locusts, either raw or roasted and seasoned with salt (or prepared in other ways), and the Israelites also were permitted to eat them."
I honestly don't know what John saw. However, according to information I read years ago, some writers have suggested that these "locusts" may represent fighter helicopters of one kind or another, which are used by national militaries all over the world. The sound that John describes might very well be attributed to the helicopter's engines. The "hair of women" might possibly be a reference to the fast-spinning propellers. The "faces of men" could possibly be a reference to seeing soldiers through the transparent windshield on the front of the craft. The "teeth of lions" might be referring to "teeth" painted on the front sides of the helicopters in order to make them look more fierce. As you'll already know, it is a common practice of war pilots to do this in order to scare their enemies. Last of all, the sting in their tails might be referring to the ability of helicopters to shoot missiles from their tail sections.

Further down in the very same chapter, after the sixth Angel has sounded his trumpet, we read of a great army of horsemen, two hundred thousand thousand (200 million); but again, the horses upon which these riders ride do not sound like regular horses at all. In verses 17-19 we read:
"And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." Revelation 9:17-19, KJV
Again, I really can't say what John saw. One speculation that I read a number of years ago suggests that John may have seen a battlefield full of army tanks. Tanks shooting artillery shells would certainly fit John's description of these horses shooting fire, smoke and brimstone from their mouths. As far as their tails being like serpents with heads that hurt, the picture I am given is of a poisonous snake striking out at something which it perceives as a threat, and then recoiling. If we think about how when fired, an artillery gun on some of these tanks will sort of spring forward momentarily, and then draw back again, it makes perfect sense to describe them as serpent heads.

Taking into consideration these explanations, theories that they may be, does suggest then that some of the things that John saw in his visions may have actually been war machines of the future, and not real locusts or horses. But the real question is, how far into the future?

We find another Scriptural example which suggests futuristic technology in Revelation chapter thirteen, where the Prophet John describes the amazing "Image of the Beast", which seems to come alive through the power of the False Prophet. Verses fourteen and fifteen state:
"And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." Revelation 13:14-15, KJV
In the previous verses, according to Thayer's Greek lexicon, the word "image" is derived from the Greek word "eikon". It means "image, figure, likeness". It's from this word that we also get our English word "icon". In other words, the False Prophet will encourage the world to make a statue bearing a resemblance to the Beast. But how can a statue possibly be made to speak? In John's day, such a feat would have been impossible; but today, given our technology, the answer is as simple as using a speaker; or it could possibly be that, as I have suggested before, the phrase "Image of the Beast" is referring to a computerized image of the Beast, such as on a huge monitor; or it might even be some kind of robotic entity. To John, seeing a futuristic-looking robot suddenly move or speak, would indeed seem like a statue coming to life by some unseen spiritual power.



What actually inspired me to write this commentary was some news articles I have been reading in the New York Times over the last several years, regarding the US military's efforts to create robotic vehicles which it plans to use in its wars of the next decade. At this current time, as you may know, the American government has already been deploying drones in foreign countries. These pilot-less vehicles are used, among other things, to map terrain, to spy on the activities of perceived enemies, and even to fire missiles on selected targets with deadly precision.

In order to pool ideas, and speed up the development of its battle machines of the future, during the last three years or so, a special US Government agency known as DARPA, which is an acronym for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been sponsoring a robot race that has drawn participants from major corporations and universities all across America. These include Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Tech, and other prestigious institutions. While the race, currently called the "Darpa Urban Challenge", is a lot of fun for the participants, we should not lose sight of the fact that the primary goal of these races is to help the Pentagon to build its next generation of war machines. In fact, it should be noted that this year's race was held at a former Air Force base located in Victorville, California, according to the New York Times.

Of course, these universities aren't just participating in the DARPA races because they are a lot of fun, or even just because they are American patriots. There is a lot of money involved. This year's race involved navigating a sixty-mile course through a simulated urban environment; and the robotic vehicles had to accomplish this task in less than six hours, in order to qualify for one of the three prizes, which were two million dollars, one million dollars, and five hundred thousand dollars.

There were eleven entrants in the "Darpa Urban Challenge", and the grand prize went to a vehicle designated as "Boss", which was designed by noted roboticist William L. Whittaker and his team at Carnegie Mellon University.
According to the information I have read, Professor Whittaker was one of the original individuals to propose using these kinds of vehicle races as a means to advance robotics. Since earning his B.A. and Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in the mid-70's, he has been deeply involved in the field of robotics. In fact, in the same year that he received his Ph.D., the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred, and Whittaker and his team constructed robots to inspect and repair the damage which had occurred in the reactor's basement. Later, in 1986, Whittaker would perform a similar function when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in Ukraine.

In addition to his experience with nuclear reactor meltdowns, beginning in the late 1990's Professor Whittaker and his team designed and created a robot called Nomad the meteorobot; the purpose of which was to search for fallen meteorites in the glacial ice fields of Antarctica. This project was funded by a $5 million dollar grant from NASA's Telerobotics Research Program in the Space Science Office. Furthermore, the project was a prelude to sending exploratory robots to the Moon, as well as to Jupiter's frozen moon, Europa, and also to the red planet, Mars. Furthermore, Whittaker has been involved in projects which have sent robotic vehicles into the craters of active volcanoes, and also into collapsed mine shafts.
While there are obviously some ways in which these races can benefit society as whole, such as by leading to the eventual production of regular vehicles which will be safer for the general public, nevertheless, as I read these news articles regarding the DARPA project, it occurred to me how dangerous these developments can be as well; and I will now explain to you why I feel this way.

As I have pointed out in earlier articles, modern technology can be very beneficial for humanity in many different ways. Through a plethora of modern inventions, no one can deny that our lives have become so much easier. As a result of modern medicine, lives have been prolonged, and the suffering of a lot of people has also been eased. However, just as there is potential for a lot of good to be derived from this modern technology, there is likewise potential for evil being done as a result of it as well. It depends on who has access to the technology, what their motives are, and how they intend to use it. On one hand, well-meaning scientists may create prosthetic limbs or an artificial heart, while on the other, they also invent nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

To understand how evil this is, stop and consider how much of the world is opposed to America's illegal, ill-conceived war in Iraq.

As a direct result of George W. Bush's foolish invasion of that sovereign nation, literally millions of people's lives in Iraq have been negatively affected. Iraq's government, as well as its military forces, was shattered. Social order was destroyed. Iraq's economy was obliterated. Its infrastructure was in large part destroyed, and basic social services came to a standstill. Furthermore, as the mass media has revealed, millions of people have been displaced; thousands of people have died, or been physically or psychologically crippled needlessly, and poverty, sickness, starvation and misery have become more widespread.

But in America, as past wars have shown, what makes a war unpopular, is when the body bags begin to come home, or when soldiers arrive home horribly disfigured, missing limbs, or psychologically messed up. If the numbers rise to high, that is when the American public begins to say "Enough is enough". This is precisely what occurred during the Viet Nam war era, and this is what is happening now with the Iraq war. As a result, next to the economy, the war in Iraq has become one of the most important issues to American voters as the 2008 presidential election approaches.

In spite of the fact that President Bush has done everything in his power to keep the full truth from the American people regarding how many American dead and injured there have been, enough of the truth has leaked out, to where a large portion of the American population are now sick of the war, sick of Bush's lies and deception, and they want American forces out of Iraq. What was supposed to be a war that would last a few weeks, or a few months at the longest, has now turned into almost a five-year war, and Bush and his cronies insist that America needs to remain there even longer, years in fact.

So how does the war in Iraq relate to our main discussion? Well, what would happen if instead of there being thousands of Americans casualties, plus thousands more of American soldiers maimed, disfigured and psychologically messed up, there were only hundreds, or perhaps even dozens, or less? After all, Norman Whitaker, the DARPA project manager for this year's race stated:
"We've been looking at the problem of protecting people on the battlefield".
Exactly what did Whitaker mean by that? Well, what better way would there be to protect American soldiers on a foreign battlefield, than by not having to use real people at all, or at least very few of them? This is not as far-fetched an idea as you may think; and all indications are that this is precisely the ultimate goal of those who deal with these things.

Last year I had the opportunity to view a short-lived sci-fi television show called "Masters Of Science Fiction". One of the four episodes was called "Jerry Was A Man". It turns out that Jerry was an android designed, like his fellow androids, to clear mines in a battlefield. Sometimes the robots would take the wrong step and would be blown up. Jerry, however, was different. In a particular test, he clearly demonstrated the will for self-preservation when he purposely bumped into another android, which subsequently stepped on a mine, and was blown up. The reason why I find this story interesting, is because, as we have seen through other examples of modern technology, our science fiction is slowly catching up with us. What does this say about our future, and the future of human warfare?

That is precisely what could happen in the not-too-distant future, if an American president, or any world leader for that matter, could fight a war primarily using intelligent robotic machines. The high-flying drones that are now in use are just the beginning, and the tip of the ice berg, of what terrible wars could lie in the world's near future.

Can you perceive the danger of such a scenario? As a result of this kind of advanced technology, an American president, or any world leader, could wage a secret, endless war against his enemies, and not be held accountable for it, because there would be very few, if any, body bags coming home from the war front. Many Americans have become so callous, that as long as there are no American casualties, and as long as the economy is doing well, they would probably offer very little protest.



It is a well-established historical fact that the U.S.A. was founded upon war. America, and its economy, have survived to this day, as a result of being almost in a constant state of war, somewhere in the world. The U.S.A. has repeatedly used war, or at least the threat of war, as a means to spread its imperialistic empire around the world. The America government has repeatedly used war to punish its perceived enemies, and to force "belligerent" nations into submission to the will, and foreign policy objectives of the war hawks in Washington D.C.

Given America's clear history over the past two hundred plus years, it can be honestly said that the American people are really a war-prone people. While they claim to be a peaceful nation, the record reveals that the USA has resorted to war in order to achieve its objectives, more than any other major world power during the last seventy years. Whenever Americans have hesitated to engage in a war, the president, along with his propaganda agent, the mass media, has always found a way to convince them that waging war is in their best interest. The war, so he claims, will make them a lot safer, and it will protect the comfortable American way of life, which no American is about to give up, for any price.

The prevailing attitude seems to be that it is far better to make the other fellow, in some other country, pay the price for Americans' luxury and wasteful lifestyle. Thus, through a constant barrage of slick propaganda, Americans are lulled back to sleep, and the war, legitimate or not, is waged by their Commander-In-Chief.

While I have highlighted America's war sins, it should be noted, of course, that the American president is not the only world leader who engages in such subtle tactics. All world leaders, when embarking on the war path, have to first convince their constituents, that a war is a just and necessary cause, even if it is a distasteful one; and like the American president, they too will promote patriotism, and will spin whatever lies are necessary, in order to convert the populace to their way of thinking.

As I pointed out earlier, if robotic vehicles and automated fighter machines are used in future wars, it means that the human casualty rate on the American side will be very low, if not totally nonexistent. As a result, lethargic American society will have nothing to complain about, and a president could potentially wage a war for years, without ever taking any negative heat for it. As long as the economy is strong, and the public continues to enjoy their materialistic life- style, everyone is happy; except, of course, for the people in the targeted country, whose lives are being destroyed by America's merciless, "shock-and-awe" wars.

So this is the potential evil which may some day result from fighting wars with only machines. It is interesting to note that the Bible tells us that the coming world leader known as the Beast will have such tremendous military might at his disposal, that no one will be able to resist him or prevail against him. The Book of Revelation seems to indicate that he will be the absolute ruler of the world. Is it possible that this strong military advantage over other nations will be a result of possessing advanced robotic technology? The Book of Revelation tells us:
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? . . . And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Revelation 13:4, 7, KJV
As I explain in "From Armageddon To The New Earth", having subdued their earthly enemies by their great military power, the Beast and the False Prophet make a very serious mistake when they defy God, and challenge Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. In spite of the advanced military technology which they may possess at that time, Revelation informs us that this devilish pair will be soundly defeated by the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, as we see by the following verses:
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Revelation 16:12-16, KJV

"And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Revelation 19:19-20, KJV
Concerning the armies of the Beast and the False Beast, who blindly follow them into battle, we are informed that their rotting bodies will be devoured by the fowls of the air, as we see here:
"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God . . . And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." Revelation 19:17, 21, KJV
As I mentioned earlier in this article, due to the current pace of technological developments, what was once considered to be merely writing tools deployed in the science fiction genre, are now, in certain cases, actually becoming reality. Many of you reading this article have undoubtedly viewed the highly popular "Terminator" movies, and perhaps the American television spin-off program, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". While the writers have obviously taken a lot of artistic license in inventing the sinister "SkyNet" threat, and ask us to suspend our disbelief, I can't help but wonder if, like the Patriarch of old once stated, we might in fact bring upon ourselves those things which we fear the most; in other words, by the inventions of our own hands. As Job said in a moment of desperation:
"For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." Job 3:25, KJV


At this current time, the general consensus within the realm of science is that computers will become as smart as, or even smarter than human beings, around the middle of this century. Is it conceivably possible that SkyNet will begin to evolve? While that is indeed a scary thought, I don't think that it's going to come to that. My reason for stating this is simple. What the previous verses seem to indicate, is that while the wars of the future may involve a lot of automated technology, apparently, at the time that the Battle of Armageddon occurs, there are still going to be a lot of human beings engaging in warfare; although they may be enhanced human beings; that is to say, what are referred to as "super soldiers". These rebellious souls will be devoured by the fowls, so they are obviously not robot fighting machines.

I suspect that it may in fact be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which will stop humanity from reaching the point of no return where fully automated armies become a reality, and where intelligent machines begin to take over the world, as per the "Terminator" franchise. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus plainly stated:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened." Matthew 24:21-22, KJV
So exactly what will be the cause of this Great Tribulation, such as the world has never seen before? Will it just be the armies of the Beast and the False Prophet waging war against the people of God, and the nations of the world? Will we be facing complete annihilation due to multiple nuclear wars? Will it be the result of the many earthquakes, famine, and disease which will plague the world? Or is it possible that the "Rise Of The Machines" will begin to become a reality, and Christ will have to put a stop to it, lest there is no one left alive?

Please notice that Jesus clearly states that if it weren't for the fact that He is coming back, and thus shortening the days of this time of great trouble, no flesh would be saved; in other words, no one would be left alive. That, my friends, means complete and total annihilation. Or does it infer extermination by a superior evil force?

Interpret His words as you will. Personally, I am just glad that Jesus Christ will arrive just in time to put a stop to the world's, and Satan's, madness; and I hope that you are too. As Jesus stated in that same chapter:
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:29-31, KJV
Exactly how Jesus will save us out of this world is another interesting question I pondered some time ago. If you would like to know what I think, you may want to consider reading the intriguing series called "Chariots Of Fire: A Voluntary Voyage To Heaven?". It is rather challenging; particularly for conservative-minded Christians. You may marvel at the creations of the writers of science fiction, but your mind will be blown when you discover what God may have. Even the crew of the Starship Enterprise would be jealous.

In conclusion, John and Sarah Connor may be cool in the world of science fiction, but I'd rather put my trust in Jesus any day. How about you? With these words, I'm going to bring this article to a close. I pray that it has been a blessing to many.



U.S. Army to Fly 'Kamikaze' Drones Dubbed the 'Switchblade'

A miniature "kamikaze" drone designed to quietly hover in the sky before dive-bombing and slamming into a human target will soon be part of the US Army's arsenal, officials say.

Dubbed the "Switchblade," the robotic aircraft represents the latest attempt by the United States to refine how it takes out suspected militants.

Weighing less than two kilos, the drone is small enough to fit into a soldier's backpack and is launched from a tube, with wings quickly folding out as it soars into the air, according to manufacturer AeroVironment.

Powered by a small electric motor, the Switchblade transmits video in real time from overhead, allowing a soldier to identify an enemy, the company said in a press release last month.
"Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm it and lock its trajectory onto the target," it said.
The drone then flies into the "target," detonating a small explosive.

The California-based firm also said the drone can be called off at the last moment, even after a kill mission has been ordered.
That feature provides troops with "a level of control not available in other weapon systems," it said.
The United States currently uses larger Predator and Reaper drones to hunt down suspected militants in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The robotic planes fire powerful Hellfire missiles and drop heavy bombs that can cause civilian casualties and extensive damage, which has fueled popular anger with the United States in Pakistan.

In the war in Afghanistan, US and coalition troops fighting the the Taliban can call in artillery fire or air strikes from fighter jets and attack helicopters. But the heavy firepower has been blamed by Afghan leaders for claiming the lives of innocent civilians and strained US relations with Kabul.

The Switchblade, however, is touted as a way to avoid killing bystanders.
"Flying quietly at high speed the Switchblade delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage," the company said.
The US Army in June approved a $4.9 million contract for AeroVironment to supply the new drones as soon as possible. Officials have not said how many Switchblade drones were ordered or when the robotic weapons would make into the hands of US forces.

Human rights groups have raised concerns that the use of drones by the CIA has allowed the conduct of a secret assassination campaign abroad without public scrutiny and little oversight by lawmakers in Congress.

Here is a demo of the Militarys UAV Switchblade drone:

Original Video – More videos at TinyPic

U.S. Military Launches Urgent Procurement Program for Lethal Mini-drones

Each time that I hear of a new drone strike by America in some distant foreign land, by some video game player wielding a computer joystick in Nevada, I get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my soul that my country has committed a cowardly act of murder, simply because it’s virtually risk-free and so easy to do so. There is something about a remote-controlled, highly efficient killing machine that just does not sit well with me, both as a civilized human being, and an American citizen. And there is also something about the CIA conducting these so called ‘war on terror’ drone missions through a ‘Special Activities Division’, which has a conveniently irresponsible ring to it. - R.F. Goggin, Drones : Killing For Sport?, Activist Post, October 29, 2011

LiveLeak
May 2, 2011

The U.S. Air Force...launched (an) urgent procurement program for lethal mini-drones, aiming to field such weapons with Special Operations command units in 2012. The weapons to be delivered...will offer the warfighter a portable, non-line-of-sight precision strike capability against individual stationary or moving individuals, ensuring high precision effect from covert positions, with a very low risk of collateral damage.

In December 2010 the air force selected three contractors to provide provide weaponized systems for a test series, planned for April 2011. The companies are Aerovironment, IAT and Textron Defense Systems. The Air Force plans to begin procurement of such weapons as early as 2012. Two representative systems in this category are a new ‘Point and Toss’ mini-drone from IAT and the Switchblade developed by Aerovironment, presumably under ‘Project Anubis‘.

The Air Force expects the new weapon to weigh around 3 lbs (1.36 kg). The user will also carry the integrated operating console and communications unit, weighing additional 3 pounds. The entire system could deploy and be ready to fire within 30 seconds.

Once launched, the system should be capable to acquire a man-size target at the system’s combat range, in less than 20 seconds, flying at an altitude of 100 meter above ground. If conditions for attack are not met, the MAV will be able to loiter over the target for up to 30 minutes. For the terminal phase, the MAV is designed to hit target within 3.28 ft (1 meter) radius, at maximum speed of 80 – 100 mph (35-44m/sec).

This accuracy matches the warhead’s effectiveness to kill or incapacitate personnel in the open or on soft skinned vehicles, within a two meter radius from the point of detonation.

The Switchblade is designed to provide the warfighter with a “magic bullet”. It can rapidly provide a powerful, but expendable miniature flying Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance...within minutes.

This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition. The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize, and track even at very close range. The Switchblade is fully scalable and can be launched from a variety of air and ground platforms.

New U.S. Infantry Weapon System - SWITCHBLADE


If the target is confirmed, the pilot can arm the on-board munition and fly the drone straight into the target. The drone can fly piloted or autonomously (though naturally it has to receive human commands before arming and attacking). It can even power down its motor and glide in for the kill, offering mission operators a stealthy means of approach.

While a weaponized-robotic-aerial-kill-vehicle sounds cool enough on its own, what Switchblade really offers is a capability–it can loiter overhead and observe a situation on the ground, confirm that a target is indeed a legitimate target and not a civilian or some other non-threat, and then deliver a strike without the soldier who deployed the aircraft ever having to stick his head out.

Such a capability trumps calling in airstrikes or artillery fire for small targets, and perhaps best of all it’s a capability available at soldier level.

These Drones Transform into Suicide Bombs


Drones Spray, Track the Unwilling in Air Force Plan

Wired
April 28, 2011

Here’s how the U.S. Air Force wants to hunt the next generation of its enemies: A tiny drone sneaks up to a suspect, paints him with an unnoticed powder or goo that allows American forces to follow him everywhere he goes — until they train a missile on him.

On Tuesday, the Air Force issued a call for help making a miniature drone that could covertly drop a mysterious and unspecified tracking “dust” onto people, allowing them to be tracked from a distance. The proposal says its useful for all kinds of random things, from identifying friendly forces and civilians to tracking wildlife. But the motive behind a covert drone tagger likely has less to do with sneaking up on spotted owls and more to do with painting a target on the backs of tomorrow’s terrorists.

Effectively tracking foes has become a high priority — and deeply secret — research effort for the Pentagon, which has struggled at times to sort out insurgent from innocent in places like Afghanistan. The Navy has a $450 million contract with Herndon, Virginia’s Blackbird Technologies, Inc. to produce tiny beacons to make terrorists trackable. The Defense Department has been pouring serious cash — $210 million that they’ll admit to — to find advanced new ways to do this so-called “Tagging, Tracking and Locating” work, as Danger Room co-founder Sharon Weinberger noted in Popular Science last year.

The research she cataloged is as mind-boggling as it is varied. Ideas range from uniquely-identifiable insect pheromones to infrared gear that tracks people with their “thermal fingerprint.” One company, Voxtel, makes tiny nanocrystals that can be hidden in clear liquids and seen through night vision goggles.

A 2007 briefing from U.S. Special Operations Command on targeting technology stated that SOCOM was looking for perfumes” and “stains” that would mark out bad guys from a distance. The presentation listed a “bioreactive taggant” as a “current capability” next to a picture of what looks like a painted or bruised arm.

Another tracking technology is “smart dust” — a long-forecast cloud of tiny sensors that stick to target human or his clothes. And that seems to be what the Air Force wants its mini drone configured for.

The solicitation floats the idea of dropping a “dust-like” cloud of electromagnetic signal-radiating taggants, either on top of the target or in his path so that he’ll walk into it. To do that, they’d need to either do some high-altitude “crop-dusting” of the target or launch a small munition that would blow out the taggant in mid-air when it was nearby.

It may be a signal that the smart-dust technology is at least feasible enough to plan a vehicle around. In her article, Weinberger notes that Darpa-funded researchers had drones that could drop clouds of taggants the size of a grain of rice as early as 2001.

It’s hard to say for certain, but accounts of drone targeting tech from Taliban and al-Qaida leaders indicate that the current tracking beacons — which rely on radio frequency pulses, radar or infrared flashes — pale in comparison to some of the proposals. According to statements from a Pakistani Taliban commander, the U.S. gives local spies tracking “chips” in their cell phones in order to train Hellfire missiles on militants. The battery-powered infrared beacons that al-Qaida says it found spies using, are a well-known technology that dates back to at least 1984.

What form will the Air Force’s dusting drone take? The Air Force states the design isn’t set in stone — they’re open to “other innovative methods” — so it’s as-yet unformed. But the “References” section of the solicitation name-checks a 1997 study for Darpa,Small Scale Propulsion: Fly on the Wall, Cockroach in the Corner,” [pdf] which may contain some clues.

The study examines the feasibility of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) on the battlefield to deliver a payload of taggants or explosives and mentions that while animal-like robots would be great, the technology to replicate their movement isn’t quite available yet. Al-Qaeda might want to keep an eye out for strange birds in the coming years, because one of the companies mentioned in the 1997 study as having promising MAV technology, AeroVironment, has been perfecting a robotic hummingbird that can fly remotely for up to 10 minutes.

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