Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
BBC: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has said it was behind an attack on Yemen's defence ministry on Thursday that left 52 people dead.
The group's media arm, al-Malahim, said the ministry complex in Sanaa had been targeted because US unmanned drones were being operated from there.
The attack saw a suicide bomber ram an explosives-filled car into the main gate before gunmen launched an assault.
Among the dead were soldiers and civilians, including seven foreigners.
It was the deadliest attack in Sanaa since May 2012, when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a rehearsal for a military parade.'Heavy blow'
Thursday's attack in the Bab al-Yaman district, on the edge of Sanaa's old city, began at about 09:00 (06:00 GMT) with a huge car bomb explosion at the entrance to the defence ministry's command complex, one of the government's most important security facilities.
About a dozen militants then stormed the compound, targeting civilians working at a military hospital inside or receiving treatment there.The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil describes "plumes of smoke and gunfire" at the scene
Two doctors from Germany, two others from Vietnam, as well as two nurses from the Philippines and one nurse from India were among those killed, the official Saba news agency reported.
The Philippine foreign ministry said seven of its nationals had died.
Other civilian victims included a top Yemeni judge and his wife, and one of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's relatives.
Security forces later retook the complex after killing the attackers.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 9:36 AM
Unmasking the RQ-180Posted by Jen DiMascio 7:16 AM on Dec 06, 2013
The Air Force has long debated how to conduct penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions since the venerable, high-speed SR-71 retired in 1998. But despite the need and a lingering requirement, no visible progress toward that goal was made. That’s because the highly classified aircraft – the RQ-180 – has been developed by Northrop Grumman in secret.
Amy and Bill’s report is accompanied by both an interactive timeline and a family tree, highlighting the evolution of U.S. stealth UASs.
They explain in an additional story how the new UAS fits within the context of the Air Force’s plans for a future family of aircraft capable of conducting intelligence and strike missions.
Also, don’t miss Bill’s opinion column, ‘Commander’s Intent’ from earlier this year, explaining why UAVs need stealth, and why secrecy can be counter-productive
Posted by Steve Douglass at 6:18 AM
Thursday, December 5, 2013
NBC: The U.S. Navy says it has successfully launched a drone from a submerged submarine, another big step toward developing new military spying and reconnaissance capabilities.
In a press release, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory said the fuel-cell-powered "XFC" unmanned aircraft was fired from the torpedo tube of the USS Providence using a launch system known as Sea Robin.
The launch system was designed to fit within an empty canister used for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles. Once ejected from the canister, the launch vehicle with the drone rose to the ocean surface; the drone's wings then unfolded and the vehicle took vertical flight for several hours.
The XFC drone streamed live video back to the Providence, support vessels and Navy officials before landing at the Naval Sea Systems Command Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas.
The Navy released a time-lapse photo taken of the underwater launch but didn’t reveal exactly where — or when — the operation took place.
The sub launch came after nearly six years of development. The project received funding from SwampWorks at the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office.
"Developing disruptive technologies and quickly getting them into the hands of our sailors is what our SwampWorks program is all about," said Craig A. Hughes, acting director of innovation at ONR.
The Navy said the successful launch of a remotely deployed drone ”offers a pathway to providing mission critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the U.S. Navy's submarine force.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 9:14 PM
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Compiled from various sources:
A truck carrying "extremely dangerous" material used in medical treatment has been stolen in Mexico, officials said.
The truck was transporting cobalt-60 from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage facility when it was stolen in Tepojaco near Mexico City Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive isotope and was being used in radiotherapy.
Mexican authorities are conducting a search for the material and have issued a statement to alert the public, the IAEA said.
The truck is a white Volkswagen Worker with license plate 726-DT-8, Mexico's National Commission for Nuclear Security and Safeguards said.
"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," the IAEA said in the statement.
There was no indication from officials that the truck was headed for the U.S.
U.S. law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officials are aware of the theft and working closely with Mexican authorities, a U.S. official briefed on the situation told ABC News.
Border officials armed with radiation detection devices have been alerted. It is unclear who stole the material and if they know what they have, the official said.
Cobalt-60, which is primarily used in medical treatments, cannot be utilized in a conventional nuclear weapon; however, it could be added to a "dirty bomb." Such a device could potentially spread the radioactive material over a wide area.
An official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the agency was in close communication with authorities south of the border and "will continue to closely monitor this situation."
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has stepped up calls on member states to tighten security to prevent nuclear and radioactive materials from falling into the wrong hands, made no mention of any such risk in its statement on Wednesday.
The IAEA also did not give details on how much radioactive material was in the vehicle when it was seized. Inside a teletherapy device, cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer.
"At the time the truck was stolen, the (radioactive) source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," the IAEA said in a statement.
The IAEA has offered to assist Mexican authorities in the search.
Cobalt-60, the most common radioactive isotope of the metal, has many applications in industry and in radiotherapy in hospitals. It is also used for industrial radiography to detect structural flaws in metal parts, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2000, three people died in Thailand after a cobalt-60 teletherapy unit was sold as scrap metal and ended up on a junkyard. About 1,870 people living nearby were exposed to "some elevated level of radiation," according to an IAEA publication.
About the same time in Mexico, homes built with metal rods that had been contaminated by stolen cobalt were destroyed, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said.
"Cobalt-60 has figured in several serious accidents, some of them fatal," said nuclear expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank. "If dispersed, cobalt-60 or other radioactive source material could cause radiation poisoning locally."
More than 100 incidents of thefts and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the IAEA annually, the U.N. agency said this year.
It is rare, however, that it makes any such incident public.
Because radioactive material is regarded as less hard to find and the device easier to make, experts say a dirty bomb is a more likely threat than a nuclear bomb in a terrorist attack.
Experts say a dirty bomb carries more potential to terrorise than cause a large loss of life.
At a nuclear security summit in 2012, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano specifically singled out cobalt-60 among radioactive sources that could be used for such bombs.
"A dirty bomb detonated in a major city could cause mass panic, as well as serious economic and environmental consequences," Amano said, according to a copy of his speech.
(Additional reporting by Michael Shields in Vienna and David Alire Garcia and Alexandra Alper in Mexico City; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Simon Gardner, Doina Chiacu andMohammad Zargham)
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:47 AM