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Quieter, more sustainable bases are not just more efficient, they are also safer and more survivable. We take a look at the latest technologies for energy-efficient military bases and find out how they help to keep personnel safe.

Also in this issue, we catch up with the rapid evolution of UAV designs, speak to Lockheed Martin about its work on the US Air Force’s jet-based laser weapon, and take a look at BAE Systems’ plan for a digital shipyard in Adelaide.

Plus, we visit Cranfield’s Centre for Defence Chemistry to hear how its explosives specialists are working with the MoD and defence manufacturers, and find out whether autonomy has a future in military vehicles.

In this issue

UAV explosion: rapid evolution results in all shapes and sizes

From tiny 3D printed unmanned systems to gigantic gliders and the US Navy’s new Orca ‘extra large’ unmanned undersea vehicle, the rapid rise and breakneck evolution of UAVs has resulted in a huge diversity in shape and size. We take a look at the latest designs coming out of R&D labs around the world.

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The Centre for Defence Chemistry – firing up the UK’s explosives capability

Explosives are the poor cousins in the UK’s defence capability, fighting for funding against fancy weapons systems and fashionable cybersecurity. Under the leadership of

professor Jacqueline Akhavan, Cranfield’s Centre for Defence Chemistry studies all aspects of defence manufacturing, vulnerability, combustion, and life assessment of energetic materials, and delivers training for the MOD. We visit their facilities to see how skilled researchers are working to make some of the most dangerous materials on the planet effective, stable and reliable.

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Green military structures: saving energy and lives

New methods for building bases and military structures are resulting in fewer resources exchanging hands in the supply chain, which in turn enhances security. To find out more about innovation in this field we spoke to World Housing Solution, developer of rapidly deployable military structures, which have been shown to reduce fuel consumption by 72% compared to soft-walled camps, totalling up to $49m in fuel savings over 15 years.

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Applications for driverless vehicles in the military

Innovation in driverless vehicles is gathering pace, with civilian schemes aplenty. But have projects to create autonomous vehicles taken off within military sphere too? We take a look at the potential applications of driverless vehicles and spotlight pioneering programmes led by the UK, robotic trucks trialled in the US, and a new partnership between Rheinmetall and Paravan.

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SHiELD: Building a fighter jet laser cannon for the USAF

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $26m contract to develop a high-power fibre laser for the US Air Force Research Lab’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) programme. We take a look at the project, which also involves technology from Northrop Grumman and Boeing, and is scheduled to go into testing on fighter jets by 2021.

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The digital shipyard

BAE systems has announced plans to build a digital shipyard in Adelaide to support its bid to build frigates for the Australian Government. By digitalising the process BAE hopes to bring all relevant data together and measure performance so engineers can get on with the job. We found out more about the concept of a digital shipyard.

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Next issue

While the US dominates defence technology spending and exports, some experts are warning that a lack of government spending is creating a climate that discourages smaller companies from investing in new technology development. Meanwhile, in China the industry is booming, creating a breeding pool for competitive innovation. We ask whether the US needs to change its approach to military innovation in order to keep a competitive edge.

We also check out the contenders for the US Navy’s new unmanned aerial refuelling system, take a look at the success of the Royal Air Force’s award-winning apprenticeship programme, and hear about the trends in defence logistics for the year ahead.

Plus, we look into the latest developments in regenerative medicine on the battlefield, and find out how nations with smaller defence budgets are driving innovation in submarine operations and submarine rescue.