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Boeing, Robotic Cheetah, France

Dated: 19 Sep 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: Business Model, International, Security, Technology

Boeing: The head of Boeing’s defense unit, Chris Chadwick, is preparing a road map that would concede the fighter market to Lockheed and pin the business’s future on other aircraft, including military versions of its commercial jetliners. With defense revenues down from 56% in 2003, to 38% in 2013, the company is at a crossroads, sitting between their legacy portfolio, and a reshaping portfolio.  Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney told investors in July that keeping defense and space revenue around $30 billion a year requires replacing the lost fighter revenue by winning contracts such as a new long-range strike bomber, a proposed Air Force trainer jet and the Navy’s UCLASS carrier-based drone program.  Additionally there is a drive to build more software products, emulating the technology industry’s effort to balance sales of hardware.

Robotic Cheetah: MIT researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding that they’ve successfully implemented in a robotic cheetah — a sleek, four-legged assemblage of gears, batteries, and electric motors that weighs about as much as its feline counterpart. While a bit slower, in experiments on an indoor track, the robot sprinted up to 10 mph, even continuing to run after clearing a hurdle. The MIT researchers estimate that the current version of the robot may eventually reach speeds of up to 30 mph.

France: French President François Hollande announced that the country’s first airstrikes in Iraq destroyed an ISIS logistics center on Friday morning. The French airstrikes are the first addition to U.S. military action in Iraq against ISIS.  Meanwhile, the United Kingdom said it would help arm Kurdish forces, support the Iraqi government, keep supplying humanitarian help and coordinate with the United Nations to battle ISIS.

Middle East, Space Taxis, Pakistan

Dated: 17 Sep 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, New Markets, Security, Technology

Middle East: General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he did not rule out the possibility of sending American combat troops to fight ISIS.  The realities of a prolonged campaign, General Dempsey said, could make such a hands-off approach untenable, particularly if the battle against the militants moves into densely populated cities where airstrikes are less effective and the chances of civilian casualties are much higher.  Additionally, the sectarian divide is causing some issues in building the Arab coalition that will ultimately be responsible for stabilizing their region.  With the Sunni camp being led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the Shiite’s being led by Iran and Iraq, the question remains as to whether or not they will be able to put aside their sectarian differences and unite against the existential threat to the region.

Space Taxis: Boeing and SpaceX will partner with NASA to manufacture and operate “space taxis” to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Officials say the partnership will end U.S. dependence on Russian space transport.  By flying astronauts commercially from the United States, NASA could end Russia’s monopoly on space station crew transport. The agency pays $70 million per person for rides on Russian Soyuz capsules, the only flights available for astronauts since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.  Additionally, the companies retain ownership of their vehicles and can sell rides to customers outside of NASA, including private tourists.

Pakistan: Al Qaeda militants tried to hijack a Pakistan Navy frigate earlier this month and use it to target U.S. Navy vessels.  While the plot was foiled, the raid, in which 10 militants and one petty officer died, raised fears about terrorist infiltration of the nuclear-armed nation’s military forces.  “If they hadn’t been detected, the minimal damage would have been similar to the USS Cole in 2000. However, if they had somehow managed to maneuver the weapons systems, then we are talking about a full scale naval engagement,” said Pakistani security official.