The other day someone pointed out that we had lost the ability to innovate and invent here in America. While in general that seems to be the truth, there are pockets of invention left out there. Unfortunately for the people that usually see defense spending as a waste, these inventions and innovations these days seem to all predominantly come from military R&D like this one about long endurance drones:
October 6, 2011: America sees long (up to five years) endurance UAVs as salvation in the event of a space satellite apocalypse. The U.S. military is concerned about American dependence on space satellites, particularly the GPS birds. The U.S. Navy is particularly disturbed about this, because their warships depend on satellite communications while at sea. They can get by with the older wireless communications, but this form of transmission is very slow, and the navy has to move a lot more data these days in order to operate effectively.
The U.S. Air Force believes China is developing the ability to carry out a major attack on American military satellites (the “satellite apocalypse”). Their proposed solution is to take GPS out of orbit, and make it portable. High flying aircraft, UAVs or blimps would take over satellite communications, surveillance and navigation (GPS) chores, although for smaller areas. This would make GPS, and other satellite functions, more resilient to attack.
This where the navy and the long endurance UAVs come in. There are several models in development. They all are similar in concept. They are lightweight, use solar panels to drive the electric motors day and night and power the communications relay or sensors (cameras and such) and fly at high altitudes (20,000-30,000 meters, above the weather).
The American model is called Vulture. It’s the one that can stay up for five years. Currently, a version capable of staying up three months is being readied for a test next year. That will be followed by the full size version, that will be tested with 12 months of continuous flight. Then will come multi-year flights, and entry into service (within five years). This version will have a payload of 450 kg (1,000 pounds) and be able to act as a communications and reconnaissance satellite substitute.
I have often contended that despite the fact that some military dollars tend to be pork sent to their states by politicians from both parties – and nobody beat Murtha at that game back when he was around and kicking – that the majority of it is a far better investment, with a larger payoff to the average American tax payer, than any other money spent by government, bar none. It’s not by coincidence that many things we currently take for granted where invented as part of defense/space programs. I also believe that it is not a coincidence that the latte sipping, apple computer using, Marxists that are the kids of well off parents decrying the injustices of the world out of guilt, that form the core of the left’s intelligentsia so hate defense spending of any kind.
Inovation still exists. Of course, we all know that paying for defense or paying some kid to be in the military isn’t as noble as giving freeloaders money to keep making more freeloaders that need money and will trade it for votes.