Space & Innovation

Huge Combat Tractor Is the Ultimate Multitasker

A 32-ton armored vehicle can punch holes through concrete, fire rockets, and carve safe passage through minefields for soldiers.

Meet the 32-ton armored combat vehicle that's the ultimate tractor -- albeit one that can punch holes through concrete, fire rockets, and carve safe passage through minefields for soldiers.

BAE Systems' Terrier is affectionately known as the Swiss Army Knife of combat vehicles because there isn't anything it can't tackle. A multi-tool on a giant scale, the Terrier is a number of critical vehicles all in one. It can quickly adapt to tackle a range of important tasks. It even has a 26-foot arm.

Terrier can destroy enemy runways, rip holes in concrete compounds where terrorists hide, and dismantle bridges.

This mammoth machine beast can even unleash Python rocket-propelled explosives to destroy concealed IEDS, protecting dismounted troops.

Like tractors found all throughout the United States, Terrier can lift, grab and move things. But the Terrier is next level: its front loader system can lift five tons.

It can move a staggering 300 tons of earth per hour – that's about the weight of 120 5,000-pound SUVs.

The vehicle can deploy its excavator arm and bucket to destroy bridges, obstacles, and more. In both day and night conditions, the vehicle's cameras provide 360-degree vision.

In spite of weighing a mammoth 32 tons, Terrier can reach speeds of more than 45 miles per hour. Off-roading is no problem for Terrier, and it can even execute missions that require traveling through water and braving six-foot waves.

This cutting-edge vehicle can even be run by remote control from about 3300 feet away.

So it can shift an enormous amount of weight -- but that's just the beginning of its talents in war zones.

In the battle space, IEDs remains a serious, ongoing threat. Terrier can help defeat this threat and play a key role in keeping military, aid personnel, and civilians safe.

Terrier's telescopic investigation arm extends over more than 26 feet from the vehicle. The long arm allows warfighters to probe and unearth buried devices from a safe distance.

A special IED-focused plow -- like a massive cattle guard -- can also be quickly attached to Terrier to defeat this threat.

The highly adaptive Terrier is packed with features. Terriers can now also come equipped with a rock hammer, ripper and earth auger.

Terrier's hammer can split rocks and even penetrate concrete. Its ripper can tear up roads or runways. How is that useful downrange? One example would be preventing enemy use of transportation routes.

And for combat engineering tasks, the Terrier's earth auger can drill holes.

BAE System's new advancements mean the Terrier will also be able to wade through much deeper waters. It will even be able to withstand more than six-foot wave surges.

For combat, the surge protection and the deeper wading capabilities mean the Terrier can be even more useful in coastal and other low-lying areas. Beyond combat, the enhanced wading will mean better support in humanitarian aid and disaster response.

BAE Systems designed the Terrier to provide the British Army with maximum flexibility from a single vehicle.

Terrier's all in one, streamlined approach means the military can reduce the massive equipment they need downrange and just bring one vehicle to do the jobs of several.

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This mammoth machine can unleash Python rocket-propelled explosives to destroy concealed IEDS.

Military Mini-Shuttle Completes Secret Mission On April 22, the U.S. Air Force launched a mini unmanned shuttle called the Orbital Test Vehicle, also known as the X-37B. After 224 days in space, the 9 meter-long robotic spacecraft landed under the shroud of darkness at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. In the early hours of Dec. 3, 2010, the X-37B became the first U.S. space vehicle to make an autonomous runway landing from orbit. Although the X-37B's mission was classified, the Air Force allowed a glimpse of the space drone shortly after it landed on the Californian air strip.

Orbital Traces After launch, little was known about the X-37B's mission or orbit. However, amateur astronomers skilled at tracking satellites were able to occasionally glimpse the unmanned spacecraft as it streaked overhead.

An Infrared Landing An infrared snapshot of the X-37B shortly after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Dec. 3, 2010. Presumably, the X-37B is highlighted due to heating caused by atmospheric re-entry.

Suited Up Air Force personnel examine the X-37B shortly after landing. They are wearing S.C.A.P.E. (Self-Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble) suits while checking the vehicle and ensuring the area is safe. This is standard operating procedure, especially when working near toxic propellants.

Awaiting Re-launch The hope is to make the X-37B a fast-turnaround space vehicle, where the same re-usable spacecraft can land, re-fueled and re-launched within days, rather than the months it takes to re-launch NASA's space shuttle fleet. "Once we get the bird back, see what it really takes to turn this bird around and get it ready to go fly again," Gary Payton, who served as undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Programs, told reporters before the launch.