How the CIA Stole a Soviet Satellite
This story originally appeared on July 22, 2014. In a scheme worthy of Mission Impossible, CIA agents hijacked a Soviet spacecraft and probed its secrets. When did this happen? That’s classified, as is the country where the caper occurred. In the declassified article on the subject in Studies in... Read more
Coffee, Tea or Mach 3—Would You Like to Fly in a MiG-25 Business Jet?
This story originally appeared on April 3, 2014. The Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat was many things. An interceptor, reconnaissance aircraft and a fast, high-altitude, record-setting bogeyman that scared the pants off Western air forces in the 1970s. But a MiG-25 business jet? Coffee, tea or vodka served by an Aeroflot... Read more
The Confederacy Almost Developed a Helicopter in 1862
It’s the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and Union forces on Cemetery Ridge await the final Confederate assault. But instead of witnessing serried ranks of rebels marching across a mile of open ground into the maws of Yankee cannons, the bluecoat regiments are shocked... Read more
Oui, Commissar! The Soviets Had a Secret Plan to Demoralize the French
Originally published on May 20, 2014. If the Warsaw Pact had invaded Western Europe in 1964, it planned to use a secret weapon to undermine French morale and induce French soldiers to hoist the white flag. A piece of paper. The Red Army’s blitz from Germany to the English... Read more
Sailors’ New Uniforms Could Electronically Track Them All Over Ship
Perhaps that’s one reason why Navy researchers are looking for a different kind of uniform. Digital clothing that wirelessly connects wearers with their ships. Oh—and they also want a uniform that you can dash off on a 3-D printer. You can find details in two Navy research projects. The... Read more
Why Terrorists Probably Won’t Hijack Google’s Driverless Cars
The FBI inspired an apocalyptic vision in August when its analysts concluded that terrorists could exploit Google’s driverless cars for their bloody and nefarious ends. Let us assuage your fear. Robot cars are not about to become the latest terror threat. The FBI report, which the Guardian obtained by... Read more
How Exactly Do You Bomb a Nerve Gas Factory Without Killing a Whole Lot of Innocent People?
Destroying a tank with a smart bomb is easy. Destroying a factory that makes chemical weapons is not. In fact, it’s absolutely perlious. The problem isn’t blowing up factories—the U.S. military is proficient enough at that. The problem is blowing up nerve gas bombs without triggering a catastrophe. Saving... Read more
NATO’s New Rapid Reaction Force Is Make-Believe
There’s an old joke that NATO stands for “No Action, Talk Only.” Which totally applies to the alliance’s recent declaration that it will form a rapid reaction force, presumably to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine. NATO already has a response force primed to deploy in a few days. But... Read more
Watch the Pentagon’s Stealth Tank Leap Over Bombs
Last week, we brought you word of the Pentagon’s plan for a stealth tank. Now we can show you the amazing feats the Ground X-Vehicle supposedly will accomplish—if the concept works. That’s a big if. A talented artist at the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center... Read more
This New Backpack Robot Can Clear Minefields
The U.S. Army is developing a robot that can scout enemy positions or detonate improvised explosive devices—and yet is small enough to fit into a soldier’s backpack. The Army has said that not having such man-portable robots resulted in a “disproportionate number of casualties” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops... Read more