Feb 3, 2016 | By Benedict

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has outlined plans for several new military projects during a preview of the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2017 budget request. Included in the budget proposal is a plan to build 3D printed microdrones.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter

Speaking on Tuesday at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, Carter addressed the global challenges facing the Department of Defense, outlining several projects proposed in the $582.7 billion defense budget. Five particular challenges to the US were highlighted: Russian aggression in Europe, the rise of China in the Asia Pacific, North Korea, Iran, and the ongoing fight against ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

The secretary emphasized the importance of cyber-defense alongside the more established areas of military operation. “In this budget we’re taking the long view," Carter said. "We have to. Even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. Not just the usual air, land and sea, but also particularly in the areas of cyber, space and electronic warfare, where our reliance on technology has given us great strengths but also led to vulnerabilities that adversaries are eager to exploit.”

Carter’s speech addressed many areas of national defense, but a proposal to build and deploy 3D printed microdrones may have taken some additive skeptics by surprise. The unmanned 3D printed aircraft will use commercially available components, and be deployed from larger, manned aircraft. The secretary refused to reveal whether the 3D printed microdrones would be explosive. “In the air they’ve developed micro drones that are really fast, really resistant,” he explained. “They can fly through heavy winds and be kicked out the back of a fighter jet moving at Mach 0.9, like they did during an operational exercise in Alaska last year, or they can be thrown into the air by a soldier in the middle of the Iraqi desert.”

Other projects outlined by the Defense Secretary include “self-driving boats, which can network together to do all sorts of missions” and an electromagnetic railgun that can fire projectiles at 4,500mph. The railgun is being viewed as a potential method of “gun-based missile defense,” with railgun projectiles fitted onto existing Navy weaponry.

The 4,500mph railgun developed by the DoD

The organization behind most of these futuristic contraptions is the Strategic Capabilities Office, created by Carter in 2012 to rapidly augment existing systems with new capabilities, now directed by technology expert William Roper. Keep following 3Ders for updates on new 3D printed technologies being developed by the US Department of Defense.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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