Watch This F-22 Raptor Execute A Mind-Blowing Inverted Somersault At Altitude

Russia and its lineup of thrust vectoring fighters—namely modern Flanker derivatives like the Su-35—have certainly stolen the show when it comes to displaying extreme slow-speed maneuverability and other post-stall aerobatic feats. But the F-22, with its high trust-to-weight ratio, huge control surfaces, and especially its two-dimensional thrust vectoring, can holds its own in this regard as well.

Case in point, this pretty damn amazing clip of an F-22 executing a big belly-first somersault at altitude. The jet seems to defy physics as its nose quickly changes from pointing one direction to the other.

Although extreme low-speed maneuvering has limited utility in modern air combat, for the F-22 its ability to quickly turn the tables on its enemy at low-speed is more important than it would be otherwise due to the lack of specific equipment on the jet. Although the Raptor now fields the AIM-9X Sidewinder, it still lacks a helmet mounted sight to aim the missile at targets located far off the jet's centerline axis.

The next generation Sidewinder does have a wider field of view, longer detection range, and can still be cued to targets far off boresight by the F-22's APG-77 AESA radar, but in hard maneuvering fights, the pilot still has to point the jet at the target to some degree in order to get the missile to lock on and thus kill the enemy. Most fighters currently in service, including Russia's thrust vectoring types, have helmet mounted sights to aim their short-range air-to-air missiles.

You can read all about these tactics and how they apply to various aircraft and scenarios in this previous piece, but suffice it to say, beyond one-versus one dogfights, ending up in a very low energy state is a bad place to be whether you vanquish an enemy fighter or not. Yet convoluted air combat environments with strict rules of engagement, like the one over Syria, remind us that within-visual-range air combat can't be fully discounted. This is also true as a result of new tactics, electronic warfare systems, advanced missiles, and stealthy aircraft that are proliferating around the globe. Beyond that, in some cases F-22 pilots will need to use all their missiles, and no, the AIM-9X is not there for purely defensive purposes, nor is the gun.

Beyond the within-visual-range combat arena, the F-22's thrust vectoring also helps it significantly with flight control at extreme altitudes and high-speeds. The Raptor community is known to hunt as high up as 60,000 feet and can supercruise (fly faster than the speed of sound for sustained periods without the use of gas-guzzling and easy to detect afterburner) at speeds greater than Mach 1.5.

Regardless of one of the most contested subjects in modern warfare and the F-22's high-altitude abilities, this video is just another reminder that the Raptor has a deep bag of tricks and it remains the gold standard of fighter aircraft the world over.

The clip was grabbed from this awesome video from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, check it out in full below:

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Did Trump’s Much Touted Border Wall Prototypes Really Stop US Navy SEALs?

President Donald Trump has secured an important legal victory regarding his signature plans for a new wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, amid reports the prototype barriers are so good that elite U.S. special operations forces could not get through or over them. However, those tests may have had a relatively limited scope and the proposed multi-billion dollar bulwarks aren't supposed to prevent smugglers from digging tunnels, flying or otherwise launching illicit materials over the boundary, or using alternate routes to avoid them altogether.

On Feb. 27, 2018, Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California – who Trump had previously declared was unfairly biased against him personally in relation to a civil case – ruled that the Trump Administration had the authority to waive environmental protections and other regulations and begin building the barriers. Trump, who has made the new wall a centerpiece of his hard line push against illegal immigration and drug smuggling, will reportedly visit a test site in San Diego, California in March 2018, to select a winning design.

In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded contracts, worth between $300,000 and $500,000, to five different companies for prototype wall sections between 18 and 30 feet high and made of concrete or other materials. Congress has yet to approve or allocate any actual funding for the project.

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved,” Trump, who has repeatedly criticized legislators for not providing funding for his pet project, Tweeted out on Feb. 28, 2018. “OUR COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY!”

Trump’s supporters also took the opportunity to voice continued support for the project. “The interesting part about that is that the [U.S. Army] Special Forces operatives and members of our Navy SEAL community were asked to try and breach the wall prototypes and they could not do it,” editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich said on Feb. 28, 2018.

Pavlich was referring to reports in January 2018 that unspecified U.S. special operations forces and specialized teams from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), possibly either from that agency’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) or Border Patrol, Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) elements, had been unable to defeat the prototypes over the course of a three week evaluation. What she did not mention, though, was that this evaluation appears to have been extremely limited in scope and that there is no readily available information about the exact test parameters.

According to The Associated Press, the personnel involved were unable to breach the barriers using jackhammers, saws, blow torches, and “other tools." It is not clear whether or not the testers failed to reach a pre-determined threshold for how large a hole they had to create or were unable to make any reasonable opening at all.

There is also no indication that the tests involved the use of caustic chemicals, explosives, mobile battering rams or reinforced vehicles, or any other more novel solutions. While human traffickers would need to be able to get a person through, their definition of what a safe opening looks like might be very different from the parameters in these structured tests. Other smugglers might only need to create a hole large enough to pass packages of drugs and other contraband to individuals on the other side, too.

The video below shows a typical explosive breaching charge in action.

And though the tests reportedly concluded that the highly trained military and law enforcement personnel could not scale the barriers, this appears to be based on the fact that they could not climb and descend without assistance. Individuals were able to get on top of barriers, including the ones that met the 30 foot high objective requirement, but could not get down with assistance on the other side. We don't know whether or not this had to do in any way with established safety protocols.

Again, human traffickers are not well known for their empathy toward the individuals they're trying to sneak across the border and might have less concerns about getting them down on the other side safely. Similarly, they could employ teams on the other side to assist in getting people down, though the process might be time consuming enough to make them more vulnerable to patrolling law enforcement agents.

Drug smugglers, who often face the prospect that organized crime groups might harm them or their loved ones if they fail, or end up as unwilling drug mules in the first place, might be less inclined to make the same risk assessments, as well. There’s no indication that these individuals would necessarily have to climb down at all, since they could simply drop illicit cargo on the other side.

But even if it’s true that the walls present an insurmountable vertical barrier, the tests did not examine whether it would be possible to get around them by tunneling, using ultra-light aircraft, or employing a catapults, air cannon, or other means of propelling items across. Criminals have already used these methods to defeat existing walls along the U.S.-Mexico border and would likely turn to them increasingly in the face of any new barriers. Readily available small quad- and hex-copter style drones are also becoming increasingly common drug smuggling tools.

A modified van with a drug-launching cannon that Mexican Federal Police seized in 2016.

In May 2017, the Government Accountability Office released a report assessing that the DHS could do more to address both subterranean and aerial smuggling. According to the Congressional watchdog, the various arms of DHS had uncovered nearly 70 cross-border tunnels and were aware of more than 530 “ultralight aircraft incursions,” between 2010 and 2016.

“DHS has not established comprehensive standard operating procedures for addressing cross-border tunnels, and we found that relevant officials were not aware of all DHS systems or offices with tunnel information,” GAO reported. “DHS has not assessed and documented how all of the alternative ultralight aircraft technical solutions it is considering will fully address operational requirements or the costs and benefits associated with these different solutions.”

CBP seized this drug-carrying paraglider ultra-light aircraft after it crossed the US-Mexico border.

Perhaps more importantly, the same report also noted that smugglers continued to use small boats in order to avoid the existing border security measures on land altogether. Criminals have employed a wide range of watercraft, including fishing boats and private recreational vessels, as well as relatively advanced quasi-submarine semi-submersible designs.

Any existing or new walls won’t prevent smugglers from attempting to simply trying to conceal their cargoes as they move through established border checkpoints. CBP routinely released pictures of vehicles it has seized full of drugs, or even people, crammed inside the engine compartments, wheel wells, tires, or seat cushions.

US Customs and Border protection released this picture of a man they found hidden inside the rear seat of a pickup truck during a search at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California.

The tests showed that the experimental walls are “doing the job that they’re supposed to do,”’s Pavlich said on Fox News. But, at least from what we know so far, the reality appears to be more nuanced.

The barriers are definitely capable of stopping individuals from easily crossing from one side to the other and it will likely be just one part of a larger border security apparatus. It's still not clear much how much more of a barrier they present over existing U.S. border walls and fencing, which can vary in size and scope.

They seem best suited to defeating small groups of migrants looking to get into the United States illegally overland without any significant assistance. There's less evidence to suggest they'll present a serious impediment to drug smugglers. These criminal enterprises have already invested considerable energy in finding ways to avoid walls entirely.

The Trump Administration is reportedly seeking at least $18 billion for the new border wall project. Additional and more rigorous testing would help truly determine whether or not they would offer a good return on that investment.

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Strategic Command Boss Makes Case For Satellites Capable Of Tracking Hypersonic Vehicles

There has been a ton of hype over hypersonic weapons as of late, and ballistic missile defense has also become a far more popular topic as a result of North Korea's missile programs. The ballistic missile defense system the U.S. already has in place is a rickety and unreliable one, made up of a hodgepodge of various sensors, data-links, and interceptors scattered around the globe. When it comes to hypersonics, the Pentagon is just coming to terms with the emerging threat posed by these super-fast flying weapons and is trying to figure out ways to detect and destroy them before they can land a deadly blow. But General John Hyten, the head honcho over at U.S. Strategic Command and the man who says the military's inability to "go fast" keeps him up at night, has laid out his plans for confronting both threats in a far more robust manner, and possibly others in the process as well.

In the video below shot by at the Army Association's Symposium on missile defense, Hyten outlines how improved sensors are becoming his main focus on tackling both threats. This underscores something The War Zone has been saying for some time, that it's simply not feasible to provide enough persistent terrestrial radar coverage to support a robust ballistic missile "shield" yet along one optimized for also countering hypersonic vehicles. As such, Hyten wants to go to space to accomplish the critical mid-course discrimination element of the missile defense mission, and in doing so, also provide surveillance and tracking of hypersonic threats. Supposedly the Missile Defense Agency has a plan to do just that, but it is taking far too long.

This system is called the Midcourse Tracking Sensor, which will be able to track the missile as it traverses through its midcourse stage of flight. This is often referred to as "cold body tracking" as there is no infrared plume or hot reentry vehicle to home in on quickly and decisively. This is also the regime of flight where decoys can be deployed and advanced countermeasures activated, which throw off radars and other terrestrial tracking sensors. Getting an interceptor in the vicinity of a missile during its midcourse stage of flight is hard enough, but making sure it actually takes out the warhead and not a decoy is a whole other problem that this system could help solve.

But being able to detect and track ballistic missiles as they cruise towards their targets above the atmosphere is just one of this system's possible uses. It could also be able to look down on earth and track hypersonic vehicles ripping through the atmosphere at thousands of miles an hour, and provide early warning and even critical telemetry to interceptors that could streak up and knock down these emerging threats.

General Hyten addresses a space conference.

As Hyten notes, this system could change the game so to speak for adversaries who are developing high-end weapons to take advantage of the fact that America's early warning and anti-missile capabilities are built around countering traditional ballistic missile flight profiles and concepts of operation.

It's very possible that such a system, with sensitive look-down radar capabilities as well as infrared tracking systems, could even be able to detect aircraft as well. America's most high-tech space-based early warning systems, known as Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), detects the plumes of missiles during their boost stage, and may even have limited cold body tracking capabilities.

SBIRS constellation in action concept animation.

SBIRS has also been rumored that SBRIS may have a secondary capability that can detect other forms of infrared events, like artillery fire, and even the launches of surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. Some have even posited that aircraft may be traceable by the system as well under some circumstances.

Regardless of existing capabilities, the Midcourse Tracking Sensor, and other space-based sensors like it, will be critical to creating the ability to counter-hypersonic weapons as the technology continues to mature into an operational state.

According to Hyten, the technology is ready and somewhat affordable, and in comparison to what has been spent on ground-based radars, not to mention an armada of sea-going radars that support MDA missions, that still have exploitable weaknesses in coverage and capability, it really does make sense regardless of the sticker shock usually associated with space-based sensor constellations.

The general's remarks seem to be reflected, at least partially, in the 2019 budget, with the Missile Defense Agency making taking on hypersonic threats a new focus. From the budget summary:

Here are the line-item documents for hypersonic defense from the MDA's 2019 budget:

There is no mention of the Midcourse Tracking Sensor in these documents per se, but that doesn't mean it is not a program within the Missile Defense Agency's classified budget, or part of one of these existing developmental line item concepts. Even if it doesn't exist just yet, it seems like Hyten, other MDA stake holders, including members of congress and the White House, would support jump starting the program.

The idea sounds like a good one that may even be essential even to hypersonic missile early warning in the future, yet alone ballistic missile defense, but putting such critical assets into orbit also is a reminder of how vulnerable America's space-based platforms are at present. This is beginning to change though, with the USAF putting a whole new emphasis on creating far more resilient space-based capabilities. But still, with major peer state competitors hurtling themselves at anti-satellite weaponry that can jam, disable, blind, or destroy enemy orbital spacecraft, making sure such a sensor is survivable, or at least rapidly replaceable, would also be key.

With all this in mind, two things seem certain at this point, the 2020 budget will likely have far greater emphasis put on space-based capabilities, and the great hypersonics race, which will be rife with measure and countermeasure, has officially begun.

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Taoglass Introduces Polymer-Based Antennas Aimed at Drone Industry

When it comes to drones, weight and battery life are inherently linked, the lighter the drone, the longer its batteries can power it. Taoglass, leader of the Internet of Things (IoT) antenna industry introduced a series of new antennas at the Mobile World Congress 2018 Wednesday, with the goal of providing both the automotive and drone industry with lightweight, polymer-based alternatives to the current ceramic standard. The "Terrablast" antennas are not only 30 percent lighter than the contemporary benchmark, but highly impact-resistant, making them perfect for vehicles that can fall out of the sky.

According to sUAS News, the Terrablast antennas use a polymer dielectric substance fortified by glass-reinforced epoxy laminate. Essentially, the material is composed of fiberglass and epoxy resin that makes it flame resistant. While the polymer makes the antennas 30-35 percent lighter, it’s also the reason for the increased impact-resistance. How impact resistant, you ask? Let's take a look at Taoglass' own demonstration of the new antenna as it's dropped from a 39-story building.

“Taoglass is leading the charge in material science advancement for the antenna industry, and our new Terrablast antennas are the latest innovation we’re introducing to the market,” said co-founder and co-CEO Ronan Quinlan. “A variety of industries and applications, especially the automotive and drone markets, will benefit from Terrablast’s high-performance capabilities in a lightweight, impact-resistant form factor.”

The 25 millimeter embedded 2.4 gigahertz patch antenna, as well as the 35 mm embedded GPS patch antenna, reportedly have a circular design produced to withstand continuous directional-changes. In other words, the design choices made in the production of these antennas had mobile use-cases in mind from the very beginning, for usage where the direction to a transmitter or receiver changes as frequently as a vehicle might. The former antenna weighs a mere 0.19 ounces (5.6 grams), an extraordinary decrease from the ceramic counterpart’s weight of 0.3 ounces (8.5 g). It’s important to note that every little decrease in weight can drastically equate to a significant increase in the battery life of a drone.

While this may come across as highly technical jargon to those of you largely interested in hobby drones and potential new UAV gear, keep in mind that advancements like these will find their way into your life, too. The next drone you buy might well contain a Taoglass Terrablast antenna responsible for providing it with such an impressive, increased performance. Step by step, we’re witnessing some pretty significant drone tech advancements, with tangible results ahead.

Mercedes Brings AWD V-6 X-Class to Geneva

Mercedes is using the grand stage of the 88th Geneva Motor Show to make the world premier of an X-class with a V-6 and permanent all-wheel-drive. It’s called the X 350d 4MATIC and Mercedes promises its just at home on the streets as it is off-road. Powered by a diesel engine pumping out 258-horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque through 3.0-liters, the X-Class certainly has some oompf, but will that be enough to woo global customers?

The X-Class comes with a driving mode switch, something you don’t see much in pickup trucks. Drivers can select from Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Off-road modes. The different modes change the shift behavior of the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission. Mercedes says the X-Class can go zero to 60 in under eight seconds.

The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive splits up the torque between the front and rear axles with 40 percent to the front and 60 percent to the rear. There are three different all-wheel-drive modes, none of which change that torque delivery percentage. But the modes do control the differential locking in order to optimize traction depending on driving conditions.

Mercedes' new X-Class Pickup

The X 350d 4MATIC is the top-of-the-line model in the X-Class. Mercedes expects the pickup truck to make its debut in Europe in mid-2018. In Germany the model will go on sale for a little over $65,000. I’m not sure that having different driving modes is going to be enough to convince pickup truck owners to give Mercedes a chance.

It should be noted that Mercedes plans to bring the X-Class to South America, Australia and Africa after its European launch. As of right now, the U.S. market is not on that list. That could be a good thing as Mercedes can use the other pickup markets to tweak its special sauce before potentially coming to the U.S. Of course, there is no guarantee that we’ll ever see the X-Class on the road here in the states.

Report Details New Jersey Transit’s Concealed Risks

Federal inspectors uncovered a myriad of New Jersey Transit train cars with pervasive troubles that included defective brakes and electrical hazards in surveying the railway that carries 95,000 people to Manhattan each day, according to a recent report by Bloomberg News.

One engine was so defective it was classified as unsafe, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. From Jan. to Sep. 2017, federal inspectors filed 84 reports, in 10 cases advising that NJ Transit pay fines.

In Hoboken, New Jersey inspectors on Aug. 12 came across a locomotive and its four cars resting on a track without the full brakes on, Bloomberg reports. The engineer was stretched out with his cell phone on and in use, with the transit worker "in no way 'attending' the equipment he was on."

A Sep. 29, 2016, crash at the Hoboken terminal killed one person on the platform and injured more than 100 passengers, with investigators concluding an engineer's sleep apnea as the culprit. The locomotive's event recorder was no longer operational, but data on the accident was gleaned from another device.

While federal regulators routinely inspect railroads, the safety risks at NJ Transit prompted them to delve deeper in 2016. While the agency seems to have largely put to rest the findings, inspectors in 2017 tested NJ Transit equipment an unprecedented amount, detecting ongoing glitches that illustrate years of budget gaps, according to the Bloomberg piece.

The Worst Cars to Buy New Are Among the Best to Buy Lightly Used

During the three years I owned my Subaru BRZ it lost about $10,000 of its $25,000 value that I paid new. Ouch. Among the many reasons I replaced it with a WRX is that the WRX tends to hold its value quite well, especially in New England, helping me prevent this problem from happening again. Rather than a new WRX, I bought a 2-year-old 2015 model, which saved me money over a new Base model and got me a premium package car. analyzed over 6 million model year 2016 and 2017 cars sold between Aug. 1, 2017 and Jan. 24, 2018 to find out which cars were like my BRZ, a bad idea to buy new due to a huge depreciation hit, but a good idea to buy used for the very same reason. Eight models had suffered at least a 30 percent hit after leaving the lot just one year before.

The Kia Sedona dropped an even 30 percent in value. This is no big surprise, since Kia is not one of the most popular brands, and minivans are definitely considered uncool. The Toyota Camry is extremely popular, yet it suffered a 30.7 percent loss of value after a year. Sedans are on the decline, and the new 2018 Camry is much better than the previous version.

The Jeep Compass took a 34.8 percent hit in value after one year. Like the Camry, it was just replaced with a superior new model. I had the old one for a month, and unlike the Camry, the Compass wasn't already a great car to begin with. It was so bad that I named the boxy Jeep that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a Jeep "The Penalty Box."

The remaining five cars on the list have something in common—they're all luxury cars. People always want the latest and greatest in luxury cars, and as soon as one slips behind the bleeding edge, it's basically obsolete. This is consistent with what we observed in a similar report last year. The Infiniti Q50 lost 32.2 percent of its value. The Cadillac CTS lost 33.4 percent, followed by the Lincoln MKZ at 33.7 percent.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class lost 34.5 percent of its original value in one year, a loss of $22,919. You could buy a lightly used Subaru BRZ for that. But topping the list was the Cadillac XTS, losing a whopping 38.7 percent of its value in a year.

This is really bad news for anyone who bought any of these cars new. But if you want a great deal on a minivan, you can practically steal a Kia Sedona simply because nobody else seems to want one. The same goes for the Camry, though not so much for the Compass. And luxury cars that aren't quite the latest and greatest are still pretty great. A new-to-you 2017 Cadillac would make an excellent luxury commuter at a much more affordable price than new.

As for my Subaru WRX, I was glad to see it listed on's list of the best cars to buy new. Though I didn't buy mine new, it shows that it will continue to hold its value well.

Drones Provide Vital Insight to Conservation Research of Sea Turtles

As drones have become an ideal tool to methodologically monitor and survey large swaths of land, their use-cases have expanded to all kinds of industries. We recently reported on a research project that suggested unmanned aerial vehicles are far more precise than human beings at counting individual species of wildlife. This particular wildlife-related drone study, which revolves around the Olive Ridley sea turtle population in Ostional, Costa Rica, suggests that the UAV can provide exceptional insight to the conditions and surroundings of a species in the future.

According to Phys, the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica is one of the largest sea turtle nesting beaches on Earth, making it prime territory for scientists to study the species. In 2015, researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill used a fixed-wing drone to aerially observe the sea turtles for four days. They reached an estimate of 2,086 turtles per square kilometer at the height of the species’ nesting season essentially suggesting that this aerial approach can reveal highly beneficial data otherwise unavailable to environmental researchers.

“These are extraordinary numbers, much higher than any of us anticipated,” said Seth Sykora-Bodie, a Ph.D. student at Duke who co-headed the research project with Vanessa Bézy, a Ph.D. student at UNC-CH. “Our findings confirm drones can be used as a powerful tool to study sea turtle abundance at sea, and reveal incredible densities of turtles in Ostional’s nearshore habitat,” he said. “The development of this methodology provides vital new insights for future conservation and research.”

The UAV employed here was fitted with a high-definition camera with near-infrared capabilities, and was piloted 295 feet above the ocean. This provided for a wide field of view and clear image quality that the research team used to count the number of turtles right beneath the ocean’s surface (as opposed to manually counting them from a boat). The parallels between this study and the Adelaide duck-counting project grow larger.

According to Phys, the peer-reviewed research paper was published in Scientific Reports in December of last year, and is the first study to use drones for estimation of sea turtle populations. “Because of the clarity of the images we can collect, and the greater flexibility we have in where, when and how we collect them, this approach provides us with better data for understanding population status and trends, which can then be used to inform management decisions and develop conservation measures tailored to individual populations, locations and time frames,” said Sykora-Bodie.

While drones are being used to monitor pipelines, survey farmland, gather news footage, and even deliver burritos, the UAV is also an exceptional tool to reveal the world’s wildlife conditions to us. It’s because of studies like these, that new generations will have more accurate, practical data at their disposal. Perhaps someday in the future, we’ll look back and notice that these humble beginnings were actually something much larger. The clearest, most honest picture of the environment we live in.

BMW Tweaks Aero in M4 DTM Car for Upcoming Racing Season

It’s that time of year when racing teams lift up the garage door and pull off the dust over to reveal what they’ve been working on all winter. We’ve seen plenty of F1 reveals over the last few weeks and now we’re seeing some German DTM submissions. Today BMW released a slew of aerodynamic changes to its M4 DTM car. Some changes are blatantly obvious while others are a bit more subtle.

At the front of the car, the team has taken away one of the “aero flicks” or canards from each side of the front bumper. The side channel has been simplified and the side plate below the doors has been taken out. The front skirt has also been modified, albeit in a subtle fashion. Under the hood, the third element of the front axle has been dropped, leaving just four conventional side springs, one per each wheel.

The modifications will cut downforce by a third and will also lead to the car moving more under braking this year. That means higher top speeds and more pressure on the driver’s vehicle control abilities. The changes are all meant to adjust to new technical regulations mandated by the DTM series this year.

The engine itself was left untouched but BMW Motorsport engineers said they were able to optimize oil use through its partnership with Shell. DTM driver Bruno Spengler sounds like he’s fired up about the changes to the car this year, saying, “I’m excited to take to the track in the 2018 version of the BMW M4 DTM. The less downforce a racing car has, the more challenging it is to drive it at the limit. It will be exciting for the engineers to find the perfect set-up. The mechanical grip of the car will be more important than ever.”

The upcoming season is set to kickoff May 5. Expect higher speeds and some carnage as drivers get used to the new cars.

Watch This 805-HP Cadillac Escalade Smoke a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Hennessey Performance has made a name for itself by taking top-level performance cars from manufacturers and jacking up the power even further. But really, they'll make a demon out of anything—including a black-car-special Cadillac Escalade. And this drag race shows that 805 horsepower is more than enough to make mincemeat out of some pretty stiff competition, like a quick-as-a-whip Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE.

In stock form, the Escalade is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine putting out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers aren't bad, but Hennessey's HPE800 upgrade adds a laundry list of mechanical improvements and tops it off with a 2.9-liter high-flow supercharger. The result is around 805 horsepower and 812 pound-feet of torque.

And here are the numbers that really matter: That new and improved motor can push the nearly 6,000-pound, full-size SUV from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds on its way to an 11.7-second quarter mile. It also sounds incredible, for what it's worth.

It's not clear whether the Escalade was in all-wheel-drive mode during its face-off with the Camaro ZL1 1LE, but it probably doesn't matter. The truck is heavy enough to put the power down, but not too heavy to get off the line—although the Camaro does appear to be catching up by the end. Doesn't matter, though. It's hard to beat something that accelerates like a house falling off a cliff.

We dig the sleeper appearance of this roided-out Escalade, and even though it's a hair slower than the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it provides a much nicer throne for watching people disappear in your rear view mirror.