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To combat cyber espionage, US Navy returns to WWII communications technology

Dispatch bean bag

Last week, the American helicopter MH-60S Sea Hawk made the first test delivery of an information package aboard the USS Boxer using new technology. It is called “new” exclusively in quotation marks, since in essence it is a return to the long-forgotten method of exchanging data on the high seas. The helicopter did not even begin to land, but only hovered over the ship in order to drop a bag with a message from the squadron commander onto the deck.

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The experiment was a reconstruction of an invention 80 years ago when, in April 1942, a reconnaissance aircraft from a USS Enterprise aircraft carrier found a Japanese ship at the rate of another USS Hornet aircraft carrier. The USS Hornet was preparing for a covert attack and kept radio silence, so the pilots quickly wrote a warning note and dropped it onto the ship, passing on a shaving flight over the deck. Now, instead of the old bag stuffed with dry beans, a new moisture-resistant container was used, but the essence of the method remained the same.

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The US military (and the Navy in the first place) recognize their total dependence on high technology. And they don’t really believe that secure communication channels, digital communications and satellite communications will remain operational in conflict with a modern adversary. And if so, then it's time to recall the forgotten grandfather's methods of warfare and the organization of interaction at sea. Even if the enemy uses AI to crack encrypted messages, he won’t be able to find out the contents of the “bean bag”.

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The point is small – to train helicopter pilots to drop such a specific load onto ships as quickly as possible. Moreover, it is likely that they will have to act without GPS, and even without radio communications. Well, there recently, sextants began to be returned to the US Navy as part of training courses for officers. Antique navigational instruments may be the last chance for military sailors in an environment where all electronics turn into lifeless bricks.

Dispatch bean bag

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