Friday, February 28, 2014

Worlds Largest Airship unveiled in Bedfordshire

Compiled from various sources: 

THE world's longest aircraft was unveiled in Bedfordshire, England this morning (February 28).

More than 300ft long the airship costs around £60 million and is bigger than the largest airliners.

The Hybrid Air Vehicle looks like a giant airship, but the high tech design means it also acts like one big aeroplane wing.

It was originally sold to the US Army but now it's been bought back by the original British developers who are planning their first flight this year.

It's a massive 92m long which is about 20m longer than the biggest airliners that currently exist.

It costs about £60m and the flying machine will eventually be able to carry 50 tons at a time, and could potentially fit hundreds of people on board.

Known as the HAV304, the 91m-long aircraft is designed to stay airborne for up to three weeks and can be used for a variety of functions including surveillance, communications and delivering aid.

The ultra-green aircraft created by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has just received a £2.5m grant from the UK Government and was displayed at Cardington in Bedfordshire in the only hangar big enough to accommodate its 34m-wide and 26m-high frame.

It combines the best of aeroplane, airship and helicopter design and HAV reckons there could be a world market for between 600 and 1,000 of these aircraft.

HAV chief executive Stephen McGlennan said: "This Government support shows that HAV has a credible way of solving one of the aerospace industry's key challenges – creating a viable low-carbon aircraft which can travel for days and for thousands of miles without refuelling, landing without the need for airports. It is a great story of a British company leading the world."

The vehicle was first flown in the USA, and is due to fly in the UK later this year. The plan is that the HAV304 will eventually lead to the development of the Airlander 50.

The HAV304 was first developed for the US government as a long-endurance surveillance aircraft but it fell foul of defence cutbacks. Getting the aircraft to the UK late last year involved the use of 15 gigantic containers, with four days needed to unload the equipment using a 50-tonne crane and a 100-tonne one.

It can reach 20,000ft and has a cruising speed of 92mph (148 km/h) powered by four 4-litre V8 diesel engines. The hull will be filled with the inert gas helium allowing it to combine the best of the characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology.

For the time being, the company plans to produce around 10 a year for the next four or five years, which is expected to lead to the creation of 1,800 jobs in the Bedfordshire area.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said today : "The growing aerospace sector has the potential to generate thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds to the UK economy in contracts.

"That is why so much effort is being put in by government and industry to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and build on our strong position as second in the world for aerospace."

He added: "As part our long-term industrial strategy we are jointly funding £2bn of research and development into the next generation of quieter, more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly planes.

"That includes backing projects like HAV's innovative low-carbon aircraft which can keep us at the cutting edge of new technology. Here is a British company that has the potential to lead the world in its field."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

AIR FORCE to issue request for proposal - long range strike bomber


The Air Force intends to issue a request for proposal (RFP) on its new long-range strike bomber this fall, according to the service’s top civilian official.

“We expect that there will be a full RFP, a final RFP and a competition probably in the fall timeframe,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a Feb. 26 event, hosted by Bloomberg.

James also told the audience that there are “two teams at present who are working on pre-proposal types of activities, preparing to take the next step in competition on the long-range strike bomber.”

While not identifying the two teams, it has been widely assumed for months that the two competitors for the program are Northrop Grumman and the team of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The news came as something of a surprise, as the bomber program has been shrouded in mystery. James also promised more details would come out during next week’s budget rollout.

What is known about the bomber is fairly limited. It has been identified as one of the three key modernization priorities the service is prioritizing, to the point that acting deputy defense secretary Christine Fox told an audience Feb. 26 that “[W]e actually took out more Air Force structure than we would like to protect the new long-range bomber.”

The Air Force intends to start fielding the platforms in the mid-2020s, with penetrating capability in mind. The service will procure between 80 and 100 of the bombers, which will mostly be made with existing technologies. Those platforms will also have both stand-off and direct-attack munitions and room for what Lt. Gen. Burton Field, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, has called a “significant” payload.

Service officials have cited a cost figure of $550 million per plane as the ceiling for the program, but even that figure has some mystery to it. Outside observers have noted that the figure does not include research and development costs, which could drive up that amount.

Gen. Larry Spencer, the vice chief of staff for the service, described setting that price point as a way to keep requirements from skyrocketing during development.

“What has happened in the past when wave developed new platforms, what’s happened over time, is the price just starts to skyrocket as people just want to put more and more stuff on it,” Spencer said. “As technology changes, people want more and more capability.”

“We want to get 80 to 100 of these, and the only way to do that is to keep the price down,” he added. “So we have had to turn back the temptation to put more stuff on this bomber.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Is this video showing REPLICA - BAE's stealth aircraft pole model?

Aviation plane spotters are all abuzz over this video recently posted on YouTube showing a stealthy aircraft (pole model) being transported between buildings at BAE Warton on February 18th.

Some are speculating this is either a RCS pole model or mock-up of BAE's REPLICA study which it looks remarkably similar to except for a new grey paint scheme.

The REPLICA study was "cancelled" in the late 90s which may explain why it was being moved in plain sight and in daylight.

Does BAE have new plans for REPLICA?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ethiopian Airlines hijacked by co-pilot - wanted asylum.

ABC NEWS: An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome today and flew it to Switzerland where he wanted to seek asylum, officials said.Geneva Airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot took control of Flight ET702 when the pilot left the cockpit."The pilot went to the toilet and he [the co-pilot] locked himself in the cockpit," Deillon said.

The man "wanted asylum in Switzerland," he said. "That's the motivation of the hijacking."The flight departed Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city, at 12:30 a.m. today local time. The flight was supposed to last for about six hours. The plane circled repeatedly over Switzerland before landing.

The co-pilot alerted authorities to the plane's hijacking, officials added — though passengers on the plane were unaware it had been hijacked. After landing in Geneva, the co-pilot exited the cockpit window using a rope and turned himself in to authorities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Snowden revelation- NSA eavesdropped on American law firm

The New York Times: The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

A top-secret document, obtained by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that an American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance of Americans ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.

Text: Document Describes Eavesdropping on American Law FirmFEB. 15, 2014

The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. It reports that the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the American law firm, and offered to share the information.

he Australians told officials at an N.S.A. liaison office in Canberra, Australia, that “information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included” in the intelligence gathering, according to the document, a monthly bulletin from the Canberra office.

The law firm was not identified, but Mayer Brown, a Chicago-based firm with a global practice, was then advising the Indonesian government on trade issues.

On behalf of the Australians, the liaison officials asked the N.S.A. general counsel’s office for guidance about the spying. The bulletin notes only that the counsel’s office “provided clear guidance” and that the Australian eavesdropping agency “has been able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers.”

The N.S.A. declined to answer questions about the reported surveillance, including whether information involving the American law firm was shared with United States trade officials or negotiators.

Duane Layton, a Mayer Brown lawyer involved in the trade talks, said he did not have any evidence that he or his firm had been under scrutiny by the Australian or American intelligence agencies. “I always wonder if someone is listening, because you would have to be an idiot not to wonder in this day and age,” he said in an interview. “But I’ve never really thought I was being spied on.”

Most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under American law from N.S.A. eavesdropping. Amid growing concerns about surveillance and hacking, the American Bar Association in 2012 revised its ethics rules to explicitly requirelawyers to “make reasonable efforts” to protect confidential information from unauthorized disclosure to outsiders.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

McRaven; "Destroy bin Laden corpse photos."

SOURCE: Less than two weeks after the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a top Pentagon official ordered all photos of bin Laden's corpse be destroyed or turned over to the CIA, according to a newly released document.

In an e-mail dated May 13, 2011, Adm. William McRaven, the U.S. Special Operations commander, wrote: "One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs remains. At this point — all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the (redacted)."

Shortly after the raid in Pakistan, President Obama said he would not authorize the release of any images of the al-Qaeda leader's body.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool," Obama told CBS news magazine 60 Minutes.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington echoed the Obama administration's argument that release of the photos might inflame anti-U.S. sentiment among Islamic radicals.

Days before the order to destroy the photos, watchdog group Judicial Watch and the Associated Press had separately filed a Freedom of Information Act request for photos, videos and documents regarding bin Laden during the raid.

"The McRaven 'destroy them immediately' e-mail is a smoking gun, revealing both contempt for the rule of law and the American's people right to know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The Obama administration has tried to cover this scandal up – and our lawsuit exposed it. We demand further investigation of the effort to destroy documents about the bin Laden raid."

Typically, when a Freedom of Information Act request is filed to a government agency under the Federal Records Act, the agency is obliged to preserve the material sought — even if the agency later denies the request.

A CIA spokesman said at the time that "documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sochi bound aircraft hijack attempt foiled.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Ukrainian man tried to hijack a Turkey-bound flight to Sochi, Russia, as the Winter Olympics were kicking off Friday, but the pilot tricked him and landed in Istanbul instead, where he was stealthily detained after a four-hour stand-off on a plane full of passengers, an official said.

The hijacking drama came as the Winter Olympics opened in the Russian resort city, with thousands of athletes from around the world pouring into the tightly secured stadium amid warnings the games could be a terrorism target.

A Turkish F-16 fighter was scrambled as soon as the pilot on the Pegasus Airlines flight from Kharkiv, Ukraine, with 110 passengers aboard signaled there was a hijacking attempt, according to NTV television. It escorted the plane safely to its original destination at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul.

Officials credited the pilot and crew for convincing the 45-year-old-man, who claimed he had a bomb, that they were following his wishes.

‘‘Through a very successful implementation by our pilot and crew, the plane was landed in Istanbul instead of Sochi,’’ Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters at the airport. ‘‘He thought it was going to Sochi but after a while he realized that (the plane) was in Istanbul.’’

He said the suspected hijacker was arrested after a stand-off during which a negotiator convinced him to first allow women and children to be evacuated and later agreed to let all other passengers off the plane as well.

‘‘Our security units sneaked through various entrances during the evacuation of the passengers and with a quick and effective intervention the hijacker was subdued,’’ Mutlu said. No bomb was found, he said.

The man’s motive was unclear, but Mutlu said he had ‘‘requests concerning his own country’’ and wanted to relay a ‘‘message concerning sporting activities in Sochi.’’ Mutlu said there was no immediate indication that the man was a member of any terror organization and Mutlu did not give his name.

‘‘We were receiving through various channels information that there could be initiatives to sabotage the spirit of peace arising in Sochi, but we are saddened that such an event took place in our city,’’ Mutlu said.

The governor said the man was being held at Istanbul police headquarters. The man was slightly injured during the struggle when he was detained, but no weapons were used, he said. The private Dogan news agency said later that the man was taken to a hospital for his injuries.

The Interfax news agency cited the Ukrainian Security Service, the country’s main security agency, as saying the passenger was in a state of severe alcohol intoxication. Mutlu said the man was not drunk, but said he may have taken substances to help him remain alert. He did not elaborate.

Habib Soluk, the Turkish Transport Ministry undersecretary, told NTV earlier that the man rose from his seat, shouted that there was bomb on board and tried to enter the locked cockpit. The pilot signaled that there was a hijack attempt and the airport was placed on high alert.

Air traffic at Sabiha Gokcen was halted throughout the incident but had returned to normal after the man’s arrest

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feds warn airlines flying into Russia of toothpaste bombers

The U.S. government has sent an advisory to airlines that fly into Russia, warning them that recent intelligence suggests terrorists might try to smuggle explosives onto planes by using toothpaste tubes.

An official said the intelligence does not indicate any threat to planes flying either to or within the United States, but was instead limited to flights to Russia. A U.S. official added that the advisory is directed to airline flights that originate outside the United States.

"Out of an abundance of caution, [Department of Homeland Security] regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics.

"While we are not aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time, this routine communication is an important part of our commitment to making sure we meet that priority," said a statement from a Homeland Security official.

Asked whether the advisory might lead to any change in carry-on restrictions, the official said, "That's not up to us. That would be up to airlines and authorities overseas."

As an added precaution, the advisory has also been passed along to carriers that operate charger flights to Russia for the Olympics, the official said.

The intelligence on which the advisory is based, the official said, "is very new."

The officials did not reveal either the source of the intelligence or the timeframe involved.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Navy investigating nuclear cheating scandal

AP: The Navy is investigating alleged cheating on tests by senior enlisted sailors training on naval nuclear reactors at Charleston, S.C., officials said Tuesday.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is conducting the probe.

The allegations involve alleged cheating on tests related to the nuclear reactors that provide propulsion for Navy submarines and aircraft carriers. It does not involve naval nuclear weapons and thus is not directly comparable to the Air Force's investigation of alleged cheating by officers who operate land-based nuclear missiles.

The officials revealed the probe on condition of anonymity because it has not been publicly announced.

At this stage of the investigation, approximately a dozen sailors are believed to be involved in the alleged cheating, although the investigation is still active and has not reached final conclusions, the officials said.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

SecDef makes surprise calls to missile alert officers

by Josh Aycock
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

2/1/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Flying back to Washington D.C. from the Munich Security Conference aboard an E-4B aircraft, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a series of surprise phone calls to six officers currently pulling alert in three of the 341st Missile Wing's launch control centers.

In a series of candid conversations that lasted approximately one hour, Secretary Hagel relayed his confidence in their ability to carry out the nuclear mission to members of the 10th, 12th and 490th Missile Squadrons. He also took time to listen to their concerns and relayed that he deeply appreciates their critical service to the nation.

"Secretary Hagel asked how I felt about everything that's going on and I told him the workload has increased and it's hard to see friends involved," said 1st Lt. Jordan Seibert, 12 MS missile combat crew commander. "It was really humbling, and it showed that our mission is on his mind."

The officers relayed to Secretary Hagel that they hoped the nuclear review he ordered will result in improvements for the ICBM career field.

"I was able to express to him personally that I feel optimistic about potential changes in how we're tested," said Capt. Adam Ross, 490 MS missile combat crew commander. "More importantly, I'm optimistic about how we can find new ways to interpret the results of our testing."

Secretary Hagel thanked the missileers for dealing with a higher operational tempo and more time on alert given the ongoing investigation. He encouraged them to continue carrying out their mission in support of strategic deterrence.

"The SECDEF showed concern for the crew force's personal life impacts, with the understanding that we are being called upon to complete a higher ops tempo to complete our mission," said 1st Lt. Tracie Davis, 10 MS missile combat crew commander said. "It really showed interest in us for him to take his personal time to connect with the force. He absolutely achieved his goal to connect and show concern for this mission and its people."

For one member, it was definitely an alert to remember.

"The call was surprising and really cool," said 2nd Lt. James Hunter III, 10 MS deputy missile combat crew commander who was in the midst of completing his first alert. "It's something I will never forget. Eye opening."a


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