[ISN] Army Unveils Menacing Truck at Auto Show

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Jan 09 2003 - 01:44:50 PST

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    [Hacker in a box?!? I'm game if it does cool commericals too. :)  - WK]
    By Greg McCune
    January 7, 2003
    DETROIT (Reuters) - It looks like a contraption that should be entered 
    in a monster truck rally -- menacing black with reinforced silver 
    bumpers, big tires and floodlights mounted on top of the cab.
    But it can track down and zap the enemy in so many ways.
    At the Detroit auto show, the U.S. Army on Tuesday unveiled a hulky, 
    prototype "SmarTruck II" -- designed since the September 11, 2001 
    attacks with President Bush's War on Terrorism definitely in mind.
    It will not be rumbling through the desert toward Baghdad any time 
    soon, but the military is trying to create an all-purpose vehicle that 
    could make a statement if it suddenly appeared over the sand dune.
    "Once this vehicle comes on the scene, we want everyone to know that 
    we mean business," Germaine Fuller, the director of the project that 
    created it, told Reuters at a news conference featuring a marching 
    color guard and a military band playing patriotic songs such as "God 
    Bless America."
    Last year at the Detroit show, the U.S. Army showcased its first 
    attempt at a high-tech truck, which the military brass now 
    acknowledges was eye-catching with a pop-up pepper spray dispenser and 
    surveillance cameras, but hardly ready for the real world.
    "It was more a James Bond vehicle, more 'gee whiz' but not designed 
    for a specific mission," Army General N. Ross Thompson III, chief of 
    the command that designed the truck, told Reuters.
    SmarTruckII is equipped with all the latest hi-tech bells and whistles 
    too. This time, however, the designers have tried to create a military 
    vehicle that can be changed in an hour or so to fight a new enemy with 
    new weapons in a post-Sept. 11 world.
    Built on the modified platform of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck 
    with a 350 horsepower, V-8 engine, the watchword of the SmarTruckII is 
    Designers created what they call "nodules," based on a stainless steel 
    box that sits on what would normally be the bed of the truck. The 
    boxes are swapped on and off the truck depending on the mission.
    The idea is for the vehicle to be useful in conventional combat, or be 
    transformed quickly to detect chemical and biological weapons, or even 
    help in recovery from a disaster.
    Fuller said the boxes can be changed in about an hour, depending on 
    the situation.
    For example, out of the top of one of boxes on the prototype vehicle 
    popped SPIKE, which the military described as a "fire and forget" 
    small missile and launcher system that can fire two missiles 
    Others boxes housed equipment useful in communications or 
    In another twist, the vehicle can house an unmanned drone-like small 
    aircraft that can hover over a nearby area and send live video back to 
    the vehicle.
    In the cab of the truck are housed a 3-D mapping system and a 
    communications system that Fuller described as "hacker in a box." It 
    includes a computer program linked with surveillance equipment to 
    monitor what people in the area around the vehicle are saying in 
    e-mail. SmarTruckII could just sit and listen, send bogus e-mails to 
    confuse an enemy, or, if it is not amused, kill the enemy 
    communications system altogether.
    The prototype vehicle cost between $500,000 and $1 million, Fuller 
    said, although she said it is tough to estimate precisely because it 
    involved partnerships with several firms.
    The military said it has no plans to produce the truck any time soon, 
    although Bran Ferren, a designer of SmarTruckII, said that if an order 
    came through it could be put in production in a year.
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