6 Terrifying New Weapons Being Created by the Pentagon
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Through its Gravity Anomaly for Tunnel Exposure, or GATE, program, DARPA is also developing technologies that could someday allow drones, flying overhead, to “see” below the Earth’s surface and identify areas with underground tunnels. And just this month, DARPA kicked off a new program called Mind’s Eye “aimed at developing a visual intelligence capability for unmanned systems.”
Partnering with defense giant General Dynamics, Roomba vacuum cleaner manufacturer iRobot, and long-time Pentagon contractor Toyon Research Corporation, as well as scientists from military-academic powerhouses like Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Southern California, the Pentagon is exploring the idea of creating robots with artificial intelligence that could roll ahead of infantry patrols, scan the scene, analyze it, and figure out what to do next. In other words, the quest to build a robotic point man will now join a long list of DARPA projects certain to inspire fears of a future straight out of the Terminator films.
In 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, secret agent James Bond’s Lotus Esprit sports car morphed into a mini-submarine. Never one to let an old silver-screen dream go to waste, DARPA is now attempting to one-up 007. Through its Submersible Aircraft program, the agency seeks to “combine the speed and range of an airborne platform with the stealth of an underwater vehicle by developing a vessel that can both fly and submerge.” Revolutionary it may be as a machine, but the reasons for creating it remain thoroughly predictable: the “insertion and extraction of expeditionary forces at greater ranges.” In other words, it’s meant to facilitate deploying forces overseas, perhaps for the next Iraq or Afghan War.
DARPA and the New Arms Race
Recently, some military experts went into mild hysterics over the unveiling of China’s first stealth fighter plane and word that the Chinese military was developing a “carrier killer” missile. Never mind that the jet is not unlike the F-22, a relatively useless fighter in the U.S. arsenal, and is still years away from production; never mind that the man who garnered headlines for the aircraft-carrier story, Admiral Robert Willard, the alarmist chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, said intelligence indicated only "that the component parts of the anti-ship ballistic missile have been developed and tested.”
Still, advances like the proto-plane and not-yet-effective missile have made great hyperbolic copy for the military-corporate complex. Some pundits went so far as to suggest that U.S. military “weakness” in Asia was emboldening China.
From the Chinese point of view, it undoubtedly looks quite different. After all, the U.S. has all-but-encircled China with military bases, sites, and facilities -- more than 100 in Japan, around 85 in South Korea, even a few in Central Asia -- and has around 50,000 troops deployed to East Asia and the Pacific, and another 100,000 or more deployed in South Asia, as well as the largest Navy on the planet patrolling offshore waters.
As for the future, perhaps the Chinese don’t quite believe that DARPA’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile is meant to take out Somali pirates, or that the Triple Target Terminator is geared to counter the al-Qaeda air corps (which mainly seems to consist of ill-constructed bomb-laced underwear and explosive printer cartridges on commercial aircraft), or that the U.S. military plans to deploy Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munitions to fight off non-existent Taliban tanks.
Amid talk of a new arms race, the American people should know more about just what billions of their tax dollars are paying for and what message they’re sending to the world. With Beijing holding close to $1 trillion in U.S. debt, it’s unlikely that either country has actual military designs on the other. It’s far more likely that such DARPA projects (and pundit saber-rattling) will simply lead to needless expenditures on weapons designed for wars the U.S. won’t fight. In the end, if history is any guide, many of these weapons will become the overpriced means of killing lightly armed men, along with unarmed men, women, and children in one poverty-stricken country or another in the decades to come.