Hypersonic Death? 5 Shocking Weapon Programs Developed for Assasination

Popular Science magazine has a hair-raising article by reporter Sharon Weinberger about the Pentagon's shift of funding to focusing on technologies that can kill individuals -- at least $58 billion worth. While much of it is still in the research phase, there are indications that some of this is in use in the field, killing people right now.

1. Deadly Dust and Smart Fleas

Mass bombing techniques were developed by the US in WW II, and "perfected" in Southeast Asia, but until recently, technology for assassinating individuals was not as advanced.  The Clandestine Tagging, Tracking and Locating initiative is set to receive $210 million in on-the-books money over the next five years, Popular Science reports, and may well rake in much more in the classified budget.

We learn that there are "biodegradable fluorescent 'taggants' that can be scattered by UAVs." -- "Voxtel, a private firm in Oregon, has already made available a product called NightMarks, a nanocrystal that can be seen through night-vision goggles and can be hidden in anything from glass cleaner to petroleum jelly. Perhaps the most advanced tagging concept is 'smart dust,' clouds of 'motes,' tiny micro-electromechanical sensors that can attach themselves to people or vehicles.Thousands of these sensors would be scattered at a time to increase the chance of at least one of them reaching its target." Kris Pister, a professor at Berkeley created sensors the size of "rice grains" and imagined  "'smart burrs' that could attach to a target’s clothing as he or she brushed by, or 'smart fleas' that could jump onto their targets."

2. Project Anubis, up and Running?

 A video depicting "an explosives-laden drone dive-bombing and killing a sniper" from the Air Force Research Laboratory suggests that future micro un-manned aerial vehicles "might be equipped with 'incapacitating chemicals, combustible payloads, or even explosives for precision targeting capability.'" Popular Science reports that military documents point to "Project Anubis (named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead) is now complete, which means a lethal micro-drone could already be in the field."

3. Tracking Chips for Cash

Popular Science resurfaces a UK Guardian report that recounts how CIA handed over some kind of tracking "chips" to Pakistani tribe members to "plant in the homes of insurgents, who would later be killed by CIA drone strikes" and highlights that NBC revealed a videotaped confession of a Pakistani who says he took payment from the US in exchange for planting tiny chips.

4. Microwave Weapons

The article reports on "directed-energy weapons that can disarm or disable individuals, including the Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), an effort ... to develop a UAV-mounted microwave weapon to fry enemy electronics." Popular Science resurfaces a USA Today article from earlier this year where Pentagon officials said the "U.S. was attempting to deploy an energy-beam weapon in Afghanistan that could detonate hidden explosives from a distance," which could include one program that is promoting how blast "microwaves to mimic the electromagnetic pulse released by a nuclear explosion."

5. Hypersonic Death

The Pentagon also has in the works "a hypersonic weapon, essentially a cruise missile capable of traveling at many times the speed of sound -- faster than anything in today’s conventional arsenal." The missile would launch into the "atmosphere by rockets and then glide back to Earth at hypersonic speeds," part of a Pentagon concept called Prompt Global Strike. Popular Science points to three other programs using "ramjets" and "scramjets," which "achieve rocket-like speeds without the heavy burden of liquid oxygen by mixing jet fuel with compressed air that enters the engine from the atmosphere." 

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