Enough with the popularity contest. Here are my picks -- in more-or-less chronological order -- for the 50 best Defense Tech posts of 2006."Q Branch's" Stock Market ShenanigansKiller robots, cheeky Brits, cute marine mammals, shady government officials, insider trading -- plus, a gratuitous reference to James Bond -- all in one post.Laser Weapons "Almost Ready?" Not!If youre into military technology at all, somewhere in the back of your mind, you want laser guns to happen. That doesn't mean they will. The Dead Bombers of HalabjaDavid Axe finds the machines behind Iraq's gas attacks.Kneel Before the CentaurLike a lot of us, former Navy electrician Dennis Buller is worried about our troops over in Iraq. But he's actually built a machine to do something about it.China Tops Iraq, Osama in QDRHow the Pentagon's every-four-years master plan focuses more on a future fight with China than today's wars.The Best WeaponDavid Axe attends a tanker's memorial service in Iraq.Real-Life Ray Gun: Say When?I was skeptical, when I first heard about the idea of using lasers and man-made lightning to detonate explosives at a distance. Now, a little less so.Happy Birthday to MeMomma always told me to look on the bright side.Be Mickey Mouse's SpyHere's your big chance, junior spooks: the Walt Disney Company needs an ""Intelligence Analyst."The Enemy is MeLast summer, a U.S. Colonel in Baghdad told me that I was America's enemy, or very close to it.Mini-Sensors for "Military Omniscience"The Pentagon's new way to spot insurgents: a set of palm-sized, networked sensors that can be scattered around a war zone. Its part of a larger Defense Department effort to establish military omniscience and ubiquitous monitoring.Stealth's Radioactive SecretTheres a simple technology that could transform civil aviation -- slashing fuel consumption, reducing greenhouse emissions and cutting noise. The problem, David Hambling explains, is it's a military secret.New Detectors Sniff Terrorists' ScentsThe Pentagon's fringe science arm wants to keep track of potential enemies-of-the-state in every way imaginable: not just by sight, or by sound, or by their e-mail; but by their smell, as well.Laser Labs Go Back to the FutureGeorge Neil and Bob Yamamoto don't remember exactly where they were when they found out that the Pentagon was canceling their laser cannon project. But they remember how they felt.Air Force One Scare; Real Security SacrificedThe headline sure seemed scary: "Web site exposes Air Force One defenses," Steven Schwartz notes. Too bad the article didn't mention that the site is a firefighter safety manual, to help rescue passengers.Federal Bureau of LudditesWhy the FBI is still using tech that's straight out of the leisure suit era.Iran's Kooky, Incendiary ArsenalSuper-fast underwater missiles ain't the half of it. Iran's armed forces are rolling out a slew of new military hardware. China's R&D: Don't FreakChina is about to pass the U.S. in the development of defense and commercial technology, Matthew Tompkins warns. And they're gonna take our lunch money, too.Terrorists' Unmanned Air ForceThe bad guys can use drones, too.Sunny, With a 75% Chance of Air SuperioritySome Air Force weapons simulators act like our biggest enemies just don't exist. Haninah Levine explains. Giant Slingshot: New Way to Space?All space projects get into orbit pretty much the same way by burning lots of rocket fuel. But what if, David Hambling asks, we could throw something so hard, it would wind up in space?NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst SaysIt'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But a leading data analyst says that "it's a waste of time... let[ting] the real terrorists run free."The Tech That Took Out ZarqawiTen years ago, taking out Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi with F-16s would have been an impossible task. Not any more, David Axe reports.Enter the BomBotOne of the nice things about being editor of Defense Tech is that people occasionally show up at your apartment with military robots.Superbomb - or Crapshoot?A panel convenes, to assess the not-quite-dead controversy over a phantom superbomb. Sharon Weinberger wonders why she wasn't invited.Clowns Sabotage Nuke MissileOn Tuesday morning, a retired Catholic priest and two veterans put on clown suits, busted into a nuclear missile launch facility, and began beating the silo cover with hammers, in an attempt to take the Minuteman III missile off-line. Seriously.Taking on Iran's Air ForceWhat happens a stand-off with Iran turns violent?Missile Flop: Norks in Tight SpotIs North Korea's busted missile test as a major problem for the U.S. -- or for Kim Jong-il?Semper Fi SauvignonFrom the halls of Montezuma to Fallujah, the United States Marine Corps have proved themselves to be the most resourceful warriors on the planet. Now, a single test remains: Make a rich, smooth red wine.CIA's Wacky, Online 'Personality Quiz'These are tough times for the CIA. But can things have grown so dire at Langley that the it has to resort to gimmicks like a wink-wink-trying-to-be-ironic-and-cool- but-instead-looking-even-more-dorky recruiting website?Hez Hacked Israeli Radios?Readers debate whether Hezbollah really compromised Israel's most secret communications."Plug-and-Play" Ship Hits the WaterWhy Navy Captain Don Babcock is in such a hurry.Attack Of The Genius Robot Cockroach Swarm"I have seen some radical ideas for attacking deep bunkers," David Hambling says, "but this beats 'em all."Area 51: Hype vs. RealityA veteran aviation journo writes about secret airplanes he believes might be under development at Area 51. David Axe wonders how much proof he has.Robotic Frisbees of DeathThe Air Force thinks it has an answer to the most vexing problem in counter-insurgency: frisbees. Not just any frisbees, mind you. Robotic frisbees. Heavily armed robotic frisbees.How to Rate a (Possibly) Stupid Weapon IdeaSharon Weinberger's 15-point test to find out if a weapons-maker is full of it.Iraqi Forces Don't Suck ... EntirelyDespite what you might have heard from other media, David Axe says, the Iraqi Army does not suck. High-Tech Uniforms Finally Heading to WarA collection of high-tech soldier gear, 15 years and half a billion dollars in the making, will finally make it into battle.Army "Big Brother" Unit Targets BloggersBloggers: "Big Brother is not watching you, but 10 members of a Virginia National Guard unit might be."Spyboys Go Web 2.0How the military keeps tabs on overseas TV channels, 24/7 -- and what it means for the future of intelligence.Cash-Poor Army Pays Big to Pimp Pricey 'Future'The Army is quickly going broke, its leaders insist. But there's one Army account that the generals are still managing to keep packed to the brim: marketing.Bush: Space is for SoldiersTheresa Hitchens explores the President's new space plan -- and finds a martial bent.Big War Machines Pushed for Korea FightHow military bigwigs are angling for North Korean fight.NORK Nuclear Test: It's A Dud Jeffrey Lewis is the first to figure out that Kim Il Jung's nuclear test isn't all it was cracked up to be.BattleHog Drone's Story StinksDavid Hambling asks: Could a home security consultant operating out of a Manhattan apartment have built the latest and greatest killer drone?"The Deadlies"Defense Tech's search for the most insanely hazardous gear, ever.Mechanical Mole Men, Attack!Throughout the ages, bad guys have loved bunkers. Which is why the Air Force wants teams of tunneling, foot-long "subterranean vehicles."Labouchere of ArabiaDavid Axe camps out with a modern-day T.E. Lawrence.Tomorrow's Insta-WeaponsAmerica owes a big chunk of its military superiority to what it can make. So what happens, Nicholas Weaver asks, when much of that high-precision manufacturing can be located anywhere and owned by anyone?Drunks, Butts Test Pain Ray; Paris Hilton Next?David Hambling's new reality-show pitch. Milimeter wave weapons are involved.Pentagon Plan: Hit Anywhere on Earth, in an HourThe secret connection between Nordstrom's toddlers department and the Pentagon push to "strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes."
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