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United States Defense and Military Forces

At War: Rocket-Boosted but Going Nowhere Fast: The Navy’s Failed Munitions Programs

All three of the failed projectile programs had similar design features and shared a fundamental conceptual problem. “When you try to make a rocket-boosted projectile that can steer itself to a target, you basically have built a guided missile,” said Tony DiGiulian, a retired engineer who has studied all these …

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At War: America's Relationship With Land Mines and Cluster Munitions

At War is a newsletter about the experiences and costs of war with stories from Times reporters and outside voices. Part of my job at At War is to keep an eye on developments and trends in the arms industry that may influence how wars are fought not long from …

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At War: Are Killer Robots the Future of War? Parsing the Facts on Autonomous Weapons

In autonomous cars, those new behaviors have already had deadly consequences, like when a Tesla Model S in “autopilot” mode in Florida failed to recognize a tractor-trailer crossing the highway ahead and drove under it, killing the car’s owner. That crash, in 2016, was the first of two fatal accidents …

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At War: The U.S. Army Is Trying to Develop New Land Mines — Ones That Don’t Harm Civilians

In the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War gave rise to a global movement to rid former war zones of land mines, which were littered across at least 68 countries. President Bill Clinton became the first world leader to call for their elimination on a global scale, but …

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The Chemists’ War

WASHINGTON — Under a canopy of poplar and oak trees, a team of geophysicists surveyed the forest floor for century-old wartime relics. They positioned an electromagnetic scanner atop the carpet of leaves while the delicate instrument harvested data about objects in the soil beneath. In 1918, mortars and artillery shells …

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At War: With North Korean Threats Looming, the Army Pursues Controversial Weapons

After the Pentagon scuttled a longstanding pledge to destroy its existing cluster-munitions stockpile, the Army is moving ahead with renewed vigor to acquire at least three new foreign-made versions of the weapons for its artillery. Late last year, the Trump administration canceled a Defense Department policy that limited the military’s …

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Weapons: Will There Be a Ban on Killer Robots?

LONDON — An autonomous missile under development by the Pentagon uses software to choose between targets. An artificially intelligent drone from the British military identifies firing points on its own. Russia showcases tanks that don’t need soldiers inside for combat. A.I. technology has for years led military leaders to ponder …

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