Wednesday, December 26, 2018

SIKORSKY-BOEING rolls out SB-1 Defiant prototype

click to enlarge 

BREAKING DEFENSE: After years of secrecy and CGI, we’re finally getting to see the Sikorsky-Boeing dream team’s SB>1 Defiant ultra-high-speed helicopter in real life. Unfortunately, Defiant is still on the ground, not flying: It was supposed to take its first flight this month, but that’s been pushed back until early 2019.

That puts the Sikorsky-Boeing team more than a year behind archrival Bell, their competitor for the massive Future Vertical Lift program, whose V-280 Valor has been flying for more than a year. But at least part of the delay is due to how revolutionary the Defiant is compared to Valor — and the difference between designs is why it’s so crucial that we see full testing of them both.

Where most helicopters would have a tail rotor, the Defiant has a pusher propeller. That propeller allows Defiant to reach turboprop speeds, like a tiltrotor, but, unlike a tiltrotor, Defiant never stops being a helicopter. Sikorsky and Boeing say that will make for a much more agile aircraft, especially at low speeds. Now they finally have a finished prototype for testing to prove those claims.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hypersonic Boost Glide program will have test launches from 2020-2022


DARPA and the US Army Operational Fires (OpFires) program will develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched hypersonic boost-glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time-sensitive targets. Aerojet Rocketdyne, Exquadrum, and Sierra Nevada Corporation have been given contracts.

OpFires seeks to develop innovative propulsion solutions that will enable a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapons delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges. Phase 1 of the program will be a 12-month effort focused on early development and demonstration of booster solutions that provide variable thrust propulsion across robust operational parameters in large tactical missiles.

“OpFires represents a critical capability development in support of the Army’s investments in long-range precision fires,” says DARPA’s OpFires program manager, Maj. Amber Walker (U.S. Army). “These awards are the first step in the process to deliver this capability in support of U.S. overmatch.”

The OpFires program will conduct a series of subsystem tests designed to evaluate component design and system compatibility for future tactical operating environments. Phase 2 will mature designs and demonstrate performance with hot/static fire tests targeted for late 2020. Phase 3, which will focus on weapon system integration, will culminate in integrated end-to-end flight tests in 2022.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Uh oh! B-2 Genesis video reveals a mock-up cockpit that may have been a secret stealth transport.



VIA : THE WAR ZONE:

Northrop Grumman recently released an awesome series of videos that detail the genesis of the B-2 Spirit—the world's first stealth bomber—via testimony from those who brought it to life. The videos also include a bunch of historical images and video taken during the flying wing bomber's development. One of these images grabbed my eye as it looked like no Advanced Technology Bomber—the program that gave birth to the B-2—cockpit concept I have ever seen. I reached out to Northrop Grumman about the puzzling photo and what I got back confirmed my suspicions.
In the previous article, in which I questioned the photo's origins, I wrote:


"Second is this image of the mock-up of a cockpit. The panel layout is vaguely similar to the one that made it into the B-2 but the B-2 has a two-crew side-by-side cockpit. Was this for a technology demonstrator that predated the actual B-2 itself? Maybe the single station was going to be mirrored for the actual aircraft, but there are other oddities. For instance, the panel is smaller, lacking the two lower side-by-side cathode ray multi-function displays. It also has a 'canopy severance' handle. The B-2 doesn't have a canopy but it does have hatches that its ejection seats fire through. A central windscreen support structure also seems to indicate that this is a single seat cockpit concept, or at least a tandem one..."

As I subsequently came to find out, the image made it into the B-2 video presentation by mistake—which would be incredibly easy to make. The photo in question doesn't belong to the B-2 program, at least not directly. Instead, it came about from a previously undisclosed program from the 1990s called the Special Operations Low-Intensity Combat Mission Aircraft.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Chinese spies charged for stealing jet engine tech ..

CNN; 

Two hack and infiltrate private companies over the course of five years in an attempt to steal the technology.
"This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the MSS to facilitate the theft of private data for China's commercial gain," US Attorney Adam Braverman said in a statement.
"The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy, and shareholder money into the development of products."
The US Department of Justice statement does not explicitly state where Zha Rong and Chai Meng are presently located. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with China -- and if the men are in China, the Chinese government would be unlikely to give them up.
On Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang dismissed the charges as "sheer fiction and completely fabricated."
Chinese intelligence officers have been charged by the United States Justice Department with trying to steal the details for a type of jet engine technology from US-based companies.Zha Rong and Chai Meng, intelligence officers with the Jiangsu provincial branch of the Ministry of State Security (MSS) in China, are accused of attempting to
READ MORE HERE

Friday, October 26, 2018

BREAKING; ARREST MADE IN MAIL POLITICAL PIPE BOMB CASE

(CNN)

Federal authorities have arrested a man in connection to the suspected explosive packages discovered this week, the Justice Department announced Friday. Multiple law enforcement sources told CNN the suspect is a man and that the arrest happened in South Florida.

No additional information was immediately available about the suspect.
Earlier Friday, authorities intercepted suspicious packages intended for Sen. Cory Booker and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The packages are the latest to be sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump that were discovered earlier this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Feds focusing on Florida in mail bomb investigation


By William K. Rashbaum, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman
Oct. 25, 2018

Federal authorities investigating a spate of pipe bombs sent this week to several prominent critics of President Trump have turned their attention toward southern Florida, believing that a number of the explosive devices were mailed from the area, two people briefed on the matter said Thursday.

The focus on Florida came as law-enforcement officials around the country were scrambling for another day to respond to the mysterious and repeated discovery of the crude devices contained in similar packages. Three more devices were found in Delaware and New York, the F.B.I. said Thursday morning. Two were addressed to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Delaware resident, and a third to the actor Robert De Niro, who lives and works in Lower Manhattan.

All of the 10 packages that have been discovered since Monday bore return addresses from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida.

The continuing wave of bombs has prompted an intense, nationwide investigation into whether people who have criticized the president and been vilified by the right are being targeted. None of the devices has so far exploded on its own, and investigators have been trying to determine whether the devices were indeed capable of detonating.

Investigators are now focusing on Florida because an analysis of information collected by the United States Postal Service indicated that many of the packages were mailed from the state. The Postal Service records images of mail that comes into its system. As part of the investigation, officials have been searching those images in an effort to determine where the packages were sent from as well as to identify and catch any other possible explosive devices by the bomber or bombers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

BREAKING; Series of suspicious packages sent to Clintons, Obama and George Soros

HILLARY Clinton and former US President Barack Obama have been targeted in bomb scares after explosive devices were sent to their home and office.

The FBI said the suspicious package was found at the First Couple's residence in Westchester County in the suburbs of New York City, at 1am (local time) addressed to Hillary Clinton.
The device was discovered by a technician who screens mail for Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to officials.

It comes at the same time US secret services said it intercepted a suspicious package sent to Mr Obama's office in Washington just a few hours after the discovery at the Clinton's residence.

The FBI and ATF are investigating also investigating a explosive device discovered at a residence owned by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

The device was found at around 3:45 p.m. Monday.

Police said an employee at the residence in the Katonah section of Bedford opened a package found in a mailbox. When it appeared to be an explosive device, the employee put the package in a wooded area and called 911.

“The officers did exactly what they were trained to do: Responded to the scene, set up a perimeter, contacted appropriate resources to further the investigation,” said Bedford Police Chief Melvin Padilla.

An official tells the Associate Press investigators are reviewing surveillance video to determine whether the package had been sent through the mail or otherwise delivered. Sources told CBS 2 officials believe the package was dropped off and not mailed. Sources also said the device was similar in nature to a pipe bomb.

Authorities detonated it as a precaution.The device was found at around 3:45 p.m. Monday.

A law enforcement official told the Associated Press the device “had the components” of an actual bomb, including explosive powder.

A suspicious package was sent to Eric Holder but it had the wrong address and was returned to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office in Florida because that was the return label on the package, according to two law enforcement sources.

The same return address was used for the Clinton and Obama suspicious packages.

Separately, the George Soros packages is believed to have been placed in the mailbox, not mailed, according to a separate law enforcement source.

Earlier today: A law enforcement source and a federal source briefed on the investigation into the Soros package said it had the return address of Wasserman Schultz, a prominent Democratic member of Congress.

Here's the list of suspicious packages so far:
  • George Soros: A suspicious package targeting the billionaire investor and philanthropist on Monday was rendered safe in Bedford, New York, a law enforcement source told CNN.
  • Hillary Clinton: The Secret Service intercepted a package addressed to the home of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee in Westchester County, New York late Tuesday night.
  • Barack Obama: The Secret Service intercepted a suspicious package addressed to the former president early Wednesday morning at his home in Washington, D.C.
  • John Brennan: A package with an explosive device sent to CNN’s New York offices today was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, according to city and local law enforcement officials.
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The Florida Democrat's office was evacuated after a suspicious package was found mailed there this morning, according to a police spokesman.
A US intelligence official tells CNN it is too early to tell whether there is a nexus to terrorism at this point regarding the suspicious packages sent to multiple locations.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Turk official says Jamal Khashoggo was dismembered in Saudi Consulate.

high-level Turkish official says police have found "certain evidence" during their search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed there.
The official did not provide details on the evidence that was recovered during the hours-long search at the diplomatic mission that ended early Tuesday.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.
Cleaning staff workers appeared to enter the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Monday morning, ahead of a joint “inspection” of the building by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, following the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi government's plans, reported the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved interrogating or even forcing Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, it said, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he had seen the report, but that "nobody knows" if this was an official report.

Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet King Salman over the case that has strained the Americans' relationship with the Saudis, carefully cultivated by the U.S. president.

Members of Khashoggi's family called for an investigation, in a statement released on Monday.

"We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago," they said.


"The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death."

A crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate after completing a search early on Tuesday, the witness said. The Turkish prosecutor assigned to the case has also left the consulate.

Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, the Reuters witness said. A police dog was part of the search team.

The team entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier on Monday for what Turkish officials called a joint inspection of the building where Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago.

The team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building. Police then pushed back journalists from the front of the consulate, where they've been stationed for days, setting up a new cordon to keep them away.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on October 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations "baseless" but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community.

Friday, October 5, 2018

US Army Launches Prototype Competition For Future Attack Recon Aircraft



By Dan Parsons |

The Army has officially kicked off a competition for industry to design its next armed scout aircraft, called the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, or FARA.

Details of the program were published Oct. 3 in a solicitation on the government’s contracting website. The Army lays out a four-phase competitive prototyping effort that should yield operational, experimental aircraft flying by November 2022.
The Army describes the desired platform as a “knife fighter” of future battlefield capabilities in a “small form factor … with maximized performance.”

In phase one, industry hopefuls will have nine months to develop preliminary designs and provide the Army with data and insight required for a down-select to two — maybe more based on funding available — designs that will move on to phase two, according to Army documents.

Each phase one contender will receive about $15 million between fiscal years 2019 and 2020 to complete the work. While the Government anticipates 4 to 6 participants in phase 1, the decision is contingent on the technical merit of the proposed approaches, the solicitation says.

The second phase is broken in two, with the designs selected moving into detail design and build with a final design and risk review scheduled for November 2020.

“Upon assessment of technical progress and risk, the Government will make the determination to approve continue or terminate the effort,” the solicitation reads.

Teams will then have about two years to build prototype aircraft, including subsystem testing with an anticipated first flight in November 2022.

In the second half of phase two, operational prototypes will be delivered to the Army for performance testing and evaluation of maneuverability. In phase three, the Army will evaluate if the Performers have successfully completed the competitive prototype project and may select a design for entry into a subsequent full-system integration, qualification and production phase.

The two Industry Performers selected for phase two in fiscal 2020 will receive a fixed funding level of approximately $735 million between through fiscal 2023.

Two rotorcraft industry giants already are stalking the FARA award. Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider has been flying a test regime for several years and recently exceeded 200 knots in forward flight. Raider uses coaxial rigid rotors for lift and an aft pusher propulsor for forward thrust. Sikorsky, now owned by Lockheed Martin, has formally announced Raider as a contender for FARA.

Sikorsky is teamed with Boeing in developing the SB-1 Defiant to satisfy another Army requirement for a long-range assault aircraft to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk. The first operational prototype is nearing completion and is scheduled for first flight by the end of the year.

Bell, which has put more than 60 hours on its prototype V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor, also will compete. CEO Mitch Snyder on Oct. 2 said the company has already worked up a prototype design, but is not ready to make it public.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sunspot Observatory incident shrouded in mystery


David LynchSeptember 16, 2018 03:49 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – After mysterious circumstances closed the Sunspot Solar Observatory in southeast New Mexico on Sept. 6 – prompting conspiracy theories of close encounters and men in black suits – it was announced over the weekend that the facility will "transition back to regular operations" on Monday.


The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy announced the reopening on Sunday, saying it had been cooperating with local authorities on the "investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak," where the observatory is located. The developments come after over a week of minimal details from law enforcement, leading to theories of all kinds from New Mexicans and others across the country.

"We became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents," AURA wrote on its website Sunday. "In light of recent developments…we have determined there is no risk to staff."


Last week, officials with the Otero County Sheriff's Office told KOB they had "no information" on what exactly federal authorities were looking into at the facility, only confirming the FBI was involved.


AURA says that, given the high-profile nature that has surrounded the observatory's closure, security will be present at the facility's reopening.

The group added that remaining tight-lipped about the closure was necessary to protect their investigation's integrity, saying it recognized the frustration that strategy caused.

"Our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation," AURA said. "That was a risk we could not take."

AURA is a collaboration of mostly U.S. institutions, and some international entities, which promotes astronomical research, according to its website. They operate several observatories, including Sunspot.

RELATED VIDEO; MAN WALKS AROUND INSIDE ABANDONED SUNSPOT OBSERVATORY 

READ MORE HERE

UPDATE VIA KOB

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The mysteriously shut down Sunspot Observatory is reopening Monday after more than a week of shadowy investigations by the FBI and tight-lipped officials.


KOB spoke exclusively with an employee at the observatory who said he believes the FBI investigation could revolve around the theft of some expensive equipment.

"It really didn't surprise me that FBI might be showing up someday, due to the things that have been going on at the site prior to the evacuation,” said the Sunspot employee, who KOB is not naming on the basis of anonymity. "I have noticed that Sunspot is basically, what I would call, a breeding ground for crime."



He said loose security management at the site has led to criminal trespassing, vandalism and theft.


"We discovered what appears to be, it's still under investigation, the theft of $15,000 of electronic test equipment,” he said, adding most people wouldn’t even know what the equipment comprises. “The only type of person that would need it is someone working on a communications system."

KOB reached out to the FBI and asked if there was any stolen property. They directed us to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), the group running the facility.

AURA issued a statement attributing the shutdown to a security risk and said a suspect in a criminal investigation posed a potential threat to staff.

AURA said recent developments have determined there is no risk to staff, and operations will resume. The group said it has temporarily hired a security company amid an unusual number of recent visitors.

Still, this employee has concerns about lack of security going forward.

"The operating authorities are either unaware of the extent of the problem, or unwilling to deal with it,” he said.


AURA said the reason they stayed silent during the shutdown was to prevent potentially alerting the suspect and impeding law enforcement’s efforts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Will attacks by killer drones become the new terrorist threat?


THE ATLANTIC: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was intoning something about economic renewal, flanked by his wife and a handful of high officials, in a country gripped by poverty, starvation, and shortages. Then, in a moment broadcast live on television that has since gone viral, his wife’s face changed. For an instant she seemed to duck as she reached for the official next to her; Maduro glanced up with apparent concern. The camera panned to the National Guardsmen in formation on the street before him as dozens suddenly started running. According to the government and witnesses, they had seen explosions in the sky.

By the government’s account, those explosions were part of an attempted assassination by drone—which if correct would be the first instance of such an attack targeting a head of state, and a possible portent of things to come.

The United States pioneered military drones for surveillance and then missile strikes in Afghanistan nearly two decades ago; only a handful of states now have those capabilities. But small, commercially available drones of the kind Venezuela says were used in the attempt have proliferated widely among private actors in recent years. They do not require billions of dollars to procure or runways to take off. They can be used for filming or for delivering commercial products or humanitarian aid. They can just as easily carry explosives.

This technological evolution is typical of terrorist groups’ tactical innovations, which often involve devising low-cost ways to inflict disproportionate damage on a stronger enemy. It’s easier and cheaper, for example, to rig and hide a simple explosive device along a roadside, as various insurgent groups did to devastating effect in Iraq, than it is to find and disarm them, or protect personnel against them. Similarly, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and others have turned everyday technologies—from pressure cookers, to vans, to airplanes—into weapons of war. Commercial drones are just the latest example of a longstanding pattern.

While ISIS’s drone activity has declined with its loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, the problem is not limited to them, nor to the world’s battlefields. In 2015, Reuters reported that a protester flew “a drone carrying radioactive sand from the Fukushima nuclear disaster onto the prime minister’s office, though the amount of radiation was minimal.” Mexican cartels have used drones to smuggle drugs and, in one instance, to land disabled grenades on a local police chief’s property. Last summer, a drone delivered an active grenade to an ammunition dump in Ukraine, which Kyle Mizokami of Popular Mechanicsreported caused a billion dollars’ worth of damage.

That attack was atypical of the damage small commercial drones can cause, as Ulrike Esther Franke, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who has studied the use of drones, noted in 2016. A U.S. military Reaper drone, she noted, can hover for much of a day carrying 500-pound bombs; the Venezuelan interior minister said that the two drones used in the alleged attack were carrying about two pounds’ worth of plastic explosives. Those explosives caused injuries but no fatalities; still, the stampede that resulted shows the drones’ efficacy in another terror tactic of causing panic disproportionate to the actual damage inflicted. And it doesn’t take much to cause more serious damage; last summer, a commercial drone briefly knocked out power for more than a thousand people when it crashed into an electricity wire in California.


Top U.S. officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray, have warned that America is vulnerable. Washington, D.C., for example, has what Department of Homeland Security officials have called “the most tightly controlled airspace in the country;” it’s illegal to fly drones anywhere in the District. And yet: In 2015, an off-duty government employee managed to crash a drone onto the White House lawn. Last November, a man was able to fly a drone over one football stadium and near another in California, with the aim of dropping political leaflets, despite legal prohibitions against flying drones near such events. (He was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.) Cathy Lanier, the senior vice president and chief security officer for the National Football League, who also served as Washington, D.C.’s chief of police from 2007 to 2017, said that the ability to curb the threat of commercial drones “is very limited right now. The problem is that the popularity is growing exponentially. … How do you identify the nefarious actor from the hobbyist?”


Jaz Banga, the CEO and cofounder of Airspace, a firm that works on air security to counter rogue drones, said “there’s really no comprehensive protection right now across the U.S.” Drones have to be registered to fly—and attach identifiers akin to a license plate—but it can be difficult to discern them in the air. Like the drone that crashed on the White House lawn, they can be too small or too low to spot with radar. And though the technology now exists to identify who is operating a commercial drone, drone operators are not yet required to use it. In the event that a rogue drone is detected, it’s generally illegal to shoot it down; ditto with jamming the radio or WiFi signal controlling it, as the Venezuelans apparently did. And if law enforcement did so anyway, it could pose risks to civilians on the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration is working on rules to require identification; other defense measures would require changes to the law.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Will the next Aston Martin fly James Bond?

FLYING:


You haven’t seen Aston Martin’s new Volante Vision in a James Bond movie, at least not yet. In a joint venture with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Rolls-Royce Electrical, the luxury car maker recently unveiled drawings of an autonomous hybrid-electric VTOL flying vehicle that Aston Martin believes will operate in either the urban or the intercity travel marketplace. The first concept drawings of the Volante Vision were shown to the public on Monday at the Farnborough Air Show.

The Volante is also expected to bring luxury to the autonomous flying vehicle with items like leather seats. Whether the hybrid vehicle will ever take to the skies is anyone’s guess at the moment since the technology necessary to make the vehicle fly doesn’t really yet exist. Could the motivation to release the Volante concept have anything to do with Aston Martin’s plans to soon create an initial public offering? Aston Martin also recently entered into a partnership with Triton Submarines to create a submersible vehicle.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Novichok spy-poison weapon bottle found in Porton Down home.


BBC: Novichok that poisoned a couple in Wiltshire came from a small bottle found in the home of one of the victims, police say.

A bottle was found in a search at Charlie Rowley's Amesbury house and was tested by scientists at Porton Down, the Metropolitan Police said.

Mr Rowley, 45, remains in hospital in Salisbury in a serious but stable condition after falling ill on 30 June.

His partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, died last weekend.

Scientists at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory are still trying to establish whether the deadly substance found at Mr Rowley's house came from the same batch of Novichok that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.
Cordons remain

Police said they were still trying to find out where the bottle came from, and why it ended up in the house.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said it was "clearly a significant and positive development".

"However, we cannot guarantee that there isn't any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time," he added.

"This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team."

A spokesman said detectives had spoken to Mr Rowley and were due to speak to him again to establish how he and Ms Sturgess came to be contaminated.

A murder inquiry was started following the death of Ms Sturgess, a mother of three, on Sunday.

The discovery of the bottle comes as the Foreign Office announced independent chemical weapons experts would arrive in the UK next week to assist with the investigation.

Staff from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will travel to the UK to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent which led to Ms Sturgess's death.

The samples will be analysed at "highly reputable international laboratories designated by the OPCW", a spokesman said.

The discovery of the bottle is a significant moment.

It will help reassure residents in the local area that the risks to their health have been reduced, although the police say they cannot guarantee no more of the substance is left.

And it also may provide a significant piece of evidence in trying to establish how Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley came to be poisoned - and what link there might be with the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

The working assumption of police is that the bottle was a container discarded after the March poisoning.

It may now be possible to establish a scientific link by trying to match impurities in both samples of Novichok to see if the nerve agent comes from the same batch.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the discovery of the bottle was "significant and encouraging".

He said private security guards would join officers on some of the cordons from next week, as the investigation continued.

"This will free up some Wiltshire Police officers to get back to supporting day-to-day community policing,"

About 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network are continuing to work on the investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police, a spokesman said.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Laser armed Tactical Vehicles becoming a reality.





MCKINNEY, Texas. U.S. Army officials tapped Raytheon to develop a preliminary design of a 100 kW class laser weapon system that will integrate onboard the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs). The contract is worth an estimated $10 million.

"The beauty of this system is that it's self-contained," says Roy Azevedo, vice president of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems at Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business unit. "Multi-spectral targeting sensors, fiber-combined lasers, power and thermal sub-systems are incorporated in a single package. This system is being designed to knock out rockets, artillery or mortar fire, or small drones."

The preliminary design that Raytheon engineers will develop falls under the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstration (HEL TVD) program contract. HEL TVD, a U.S. Army science and technology demonstration program, is part of the Army's Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 initiative. Upon HEL TVD Program Option Two completion, the one supplier will be awarded a system development and demonstration contract by the Army to build and integrate a weapon system on FMTVs.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trump considering housing 20k unaccompanied migrant children on U.S. military bases

ABC NEWS: 

The Trump administration is considering housing up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on U.S. military bases, according to a U.S. official.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the request to the Department of Defense (DOD), and Congress has been notified, the official said.

The story was first reported by The Washington Post.

Last month, ABC News reported that HHS officials were touring four U.S. military bases to see if they could be used to house migrants in the event that other facilities reached capacity. Those bases were Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Ark.

While officials have completed their tours of those installations, no final determination has been made as to where the unaccompanied migrant children would be located.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that DOD would support the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if requested.

"We have housed refugees, we have housed people thrown out of their homes by earthquakes and hurricanes. We do whatever is in the best interest of the country," Mattis said.

HHS has used facilities on U.S. military bases to house migrants in the past.

In 2014, the department used bases in Texas, Oklahoma, and California to house 7,000 unaccompanied migrant children after HHS facilities reached capacity.

Mattis has already signed a memo allowing up to 4,000 National Guard troops to assist DHS with the security of the U.S./Mexico border. About 2,000 troops, mostly from the National Guards of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, are serving there now -- but as support services to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, not in a law enforcement capacity.

Several governors have pulled their small contingencies of Guard troops from participating in the southern border security mission in protest over the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy" on immigration that forcibly separated migrant children from their families.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order, ending the forced separation of children, so that families who cross the border illegally will now be detained together.

Mattis told reporters on Wednesday that the withdrawal of Guard troops was not having an immediate impact on the border security mission.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump directs Pentagon to establish "Space Force."

President Trump officially directed the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the U.S. military in space on Monday. Speaking at a National Space Council meeting at the White House, Mr. Trump called for a "space force" to ensure American dominance on the high frontier.

The president also signed his administration's third Space Policy Directive, calling for establishment of new protocols and procedures to manage and monitor the increasing numbers of satellites in low-Earth orbit and the tens of thousands of pieces of space junk and debris that pose an increasing threat to costly spacecraft.

The directive follows on the heels of two other major space policy initiatives being implemented by the National Space Council, one calling for returning humans to the moon before eventual missions to Mars and another aimed at streamlining the federal space bureaucracy to reduce red tape and streamline licensing and oversight of commercial space activity.

In remarks that ranged over a variety of unrelated topics, Mr. Trump began by saying current U.S. employment levels were the best "in recorded history" and blaming current immigration problems on the Democrats, saying "we have the worst immigration laws in the entire world" and that ongoing issues could be resolved "very quickly if the Democrats come to the table."

"Everybody wants to do it," he said. "We want to do it more than they do. If they come to the table, instead of playing politics, we can do it very, very quickly."

Turning his attention to space, the president praised the National Space Council and its chairman, Vice President Mike Pence, for its work re-focusing national space policy, saying "for too many years, our dreams of exploration and discovery were really squandered by politics and bureaucracy. And we knocked that out."

"My administration is reclaiming America's heritage as the world's greatest space-faring nation," he went on. "The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security."

He said when it comes to defending America, "it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space."

"Very importantly, I'm hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. ... We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal."\

Friday, March 30, 2018

Audio: Airliners communicating about UFO over Arizona.

Newly obtained audio of a bizarre UFO incident that occurred in the skies above Arizona last month has been released online, providing first-hand evidence of a strange aerial encounter that nobody at the FAA has been able to explain.


The incident, which took place on the afternoon of February 24 in the airspace over southern Arizona, began when the pilot of a Learjet 36 airliner operated by Phoenix Air Group contacted Air Traffic Control, after witnessing something he couldn't comprehend.

"Was anybody above us that passed us, like, 30 seconds ago?" the pilot asks, stammering a little, which you can hear in recordings originally obtained from the FAA by The Drive, excerpts of which are posted below.

"Negative," the air traffic controller, stationed at Albuquerque's Air Traffic Centre in New Mexico, replies to the pilot.

"Okay…" the pilot confirms, sounding unconvinced. "Something did."

Another pilot on the recording says "A UFO!", and the first pilot simply replies, "Yeah."

After a few minutes pass, the air traffic controller contacts another airliner in the vicinity, an Airbus A321 operated by American Airlines, to tell them to keep a lookout for anything that passes over them in the next 15 miles.

"If anything passes over?" the pilot asks, sounding confused.

The air traffic controller explains the situation regarding the previous unexplained sighting, and the Learjet pilot clarifies things to the extent that he can, describing what he did – and didn't – see.

"I don't know what it was, it wasn't an airplane but it was… the path was going in the opposite direction."

Moments later, the Airbus pilot confirms that he too has witnessed whatever the strange object is.

"Yeah something just passed over us, like a… I don't know what it was, but it was at least 2,000–3000 feet above us. Yeah it passed right over the top of us."

The controller presses him as to whether the UFO was "in motion or if it was just hovering", but the Airbus pilot isn't totally sure.

"I couldn't make it out if it was a balloon or whatnot, but it was just really beaming light or had a big reflection and several thousand feet above us going the opposite direction."

When asked if it was a Google balloon, the Airbus simply responds, "Doubtful."

These exchanges, which are thought to have taken place over the span of just 6 minutes, are all that remain of a bizarre incident that doesn't appear to have ever been formally written up by aviation authorities, despite the seemingly invisible presence of a UFO detected by two separate aircraft in a highly trafficked airspace.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Is the B-21 program further along that they claim? Raider patches being sold on E-bay!

From time to time I check EBay for interesting military patches, especially those related to black projects. EBay is the last place you'd think of  to look for information coming out of the Black World, but you'd be surprised what people attached to secret programs sell there.

Many years ago a desk model of a purposed  Northrop FB-23 Bomber was sold way before the program was acknowledged.

Today this patch (see above photo) was found listed for $31 (previously $15) - a B-21 Raider Combined Test Force Patch. Although it's authenticity hasn't been established it looks like most combined test force patches such as during the B-2 program.

Since these patches are usually only worn by those working on the program could this indicate the B-21 is farther along in development than we think?

According to recent press (READ MORE HERE) the B-21 is only now officially moving to Edwards AFB in California - however (speculation to follow) it may be that key components or even sub scale manned aircraft may have already flown at Area 51.
This may account for the sightings by myself and others of an unidentified aircraft over Texas several years ago. LINK

Adorned with a spooky spectral hooded figure  and springing out of it is an aircraft that looks a lot like the B-21 renderings that have been seen so far.

Under B-21 the Latin word "Praenuntius" loosely translated means harbinger of death.

The number is 17 is represented in Roman numerals under what looks like a Raven. The symbolic meaning of the Raven and number are not known at this time but are often featured on patches that come out of the Black World.

Just this last week Lockheed revealed at the Los Angeles County Airshow - a previously classified drone known as the X-44. On it's side was a decal that laid to to rest the origin and meaning of a "secret" patch and challenge coin that has been been popping up for auction many times on EBay.

By the way "INDIGO DELTA KILO" is code for "I Don't Know. The Latin phrase Pottus est melius quam sattsbene" translated means "Making something better than just good enough.



-Steve Douglass


AFRL video "Call For Action' showcases laser armed future fighters, drone swarms and EMP weapons.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Secret X-44 Drone unveiled

THE WAR ZONE:

Early last February, The War Zone published an exclusive story detailing what amounts to a "missing link" in Lockheed's flying-wing unmanned aircraft lineage, one that bridges the gap between the Skunk Works' abortive RQ-3 Darkstar from the 1990s and the RQ-170 Sentinel that appeared a decade later in Afghanistan. You can read all about what we know and what we don't about this previously highly classified experimental aircraft and why its existence is so important in our feature on the X-44A linked here. And now we are excited to announce that we have detailed images of the aircraft we described in our report to share with our readers.

The X-44A is being unveiled to the public there as part of the Skunk Works' 75th anniversary. Considering it is the biggest public aerospace event in the same community where the famed 'bleeding-edge' aerospace engineering unit is based, it is a perfect setting to show off a previously unknown and seemingly very important Skunk Works test article.

Our original analysis and report seem to be spot on, with the aircraft having roughly a 30 foot wingspan, about half that of its RQ-170 successor. The designation and even the use of the Indigo-Delta-Kilo (I Don't Know) cryptic badge are as we previously reported, as it the fact that it uses a small Williams jet engine (Williams badge on the fuselage). The wings also appear removable and/or foldable, and the belly fairing seems to be able to be changed out to accept various payloads and gear designs. And its resemblance to the P175 Polecat demonstrator and the RQ-170 is striking.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Israel claims it was behind 2007 bombing of Syrian nuke facility

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel's confirmation Wednesday that it was behind the 2007 bombing of a suspected Syrian nuclear facility had a specific intended audience: longstanding enemy Iran.

The airstrike on the al-Kabur site in Deir al-Zor destroyed what was believed to be a nuclear reactor, and had been one of the most secretive Israeli military operations in recent memory. Although Israel was widely believed to have been behind the Sept. 6, 2007, strike, it has never before commented publicly on it.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz sent "congratulations" to then-prime minister Ehud Olmert for the "decision to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria eleven years ago."

"The operation and its success made it clear that Israel would never allow nuclear weapons to those who threaten its existence," he said on Twitter. "Syria back then — and Iran today."

Israel is deeply alarmed by Iran's growing regional power and ambitions. Tehran is allied with the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in Syria— also a longstanding enemy of Israel. Sunni powers in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are also deeply suspicious of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which they claim have not been curbed by a landmark 2015 international agreement that saw some international sanctions lifted.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman underlined intelligence minister Katz's statement.

"The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the ... Israeli Defence Forces," he said in a statement. "Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation."

Amos Yadlin, who was the head of Israeli military's intelligence at the time, told NBC News that a unique intelligence operation in Syria in 2006 led to the conclusion that Israel was "facing a project of a plutonium nuclear reactor which has only one purpose — to produce a nuclear bomb."

"The question was how much time do we have, our accurate answer was that we have six to seven months before it will be hot, and then we moved to the operational planning," said Yadlin, the current head of the Institute for National Security Studies research institute in Tel Aviv. "We understood that we have two goals: No core, no war — destroying the nuclear reactor on one hand, and avoiding a war on the other hand."

Israel and Syria were bitter enemies before the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. Since the conflict erupted, Israel has carried out well over 100 airstrikes, most believed to have been aimed at suspected weapons shipments destined for the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia, Hezbollah.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

FBI: Chinese Huawei and ZTE phones a security threat.


WASHINGTON -- Amid heightened concern about Russian election meddling, the FBI on Tuesday warned U.S. universities about Chinese intelligence operatives active on their campuses, adding that many academics display "a level of naivete" about the level of infiltration.

At the same congressional hearing, several senators also voiced concern about China's efforts to obtain U.S. technology through investments and the rise of two of its own giants, Huawei and ZTE, telecom companies with a growing worldwide footprint and close ties to China's ruling Communist Party. Both companies have U.S. operations headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that China has aggressively placed operatives at universities, "whether its professors, scientists, students," and the bureau must monitor them from its 56 field offices across the nation.

"It's every field office, not just major cities. It's small ones as well," Wray said.

The FBI is also "watching warily" activities at dozens of Confucius Institutes, Chinese government-sponsored academies that are often embedded within universities and public schools to offer U.S. students Mandarin language classes.

Some 350,000 Chinese students are enrolled at U.S. universities, about 35 percent of the more than 1 million foreigners attending university in the country, the Institute of International Education estimates.

The Senate hearing to discuss an annual assessment of worldwide threats focused heavily on Russian hacking and the nuclear threat from North Korea. But several senators pushed the five intelligence agency chiefs and the FBI director testifying at the hearing about China's ambitions.

Wray described China as using a lot of "nontraditional collectors" of intelligence and technology, not only in the business community but also in academia.

"I think the level of naivete on the part of the academic sector about this creates its own issues. They're exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere. But they're taking advantage of it," Wray said.

Having potentially unfriendly foreign companies inside the U.S. telecom network, Wray said, "provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information and it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former People's Liberation Army officer, has galloped to a global lead in telecommunications, almost absent in the U.S. market but hugely popular in China, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. As recently as January, it was close to bringing its smartphones in the U.S. consumer market but Dallas-based AT&T scuttled the deal at the last minute.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Russian's caught mining for cryptocurrency using nuke lab's supercomputer..

ARS TECHNICA;  Russia's Interfax News Agency reports that engineers at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF)—the Russian Federation Nuclear Center facility where scientists designed the Soviet Union's first nuclear bomb—have been arrested for mining cryptocurrency with "office computing resources," according to a spokesperson for the Institute. "There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining," said Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the Institute's press service.

Zalesskaya did not say how many people were detained, and the Federal Security Service (FSB) has not issued a statement on the arrests or criminal charges pending. But reports indicate that the group was caught trying to harness the lab's supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency.

The Institute is located in Sarov, a "closed" city east of Moscow where nuclear weapons research has been conducted since 1946. The facility is so secret that it was left off Soviet maps; Sarov is surrounded by fences and guarded by the Russian military accordingly. While the city is the home of Russia's Nuclear Weapons Museum, don't plan a visit anytime soon—access to Sarov is restricted, and no one who does not live in the city is allowed to visit without permission. Foreigners visiting on official business have to surrender their passports, cell phones, and other electronic devices at the city's checkpoints.
Because of the nature of the work at the Institute, technically none of the Institute's computers—including its 1-petaflop capable supercomputer, used for simulating tests of nuclear weapons designs—is supposed to be connected to the Internet. According to the Russian news service Mash, someone at the Institute attempted to connect the supercomputer to the Internet, and that attempt was detected by the FSB, launching an investigation.

Cryptocurrency speculation and mining have generated so much interest in Russia that one businessman—Alexey Kolesnik—recently bought two power plants in the Russian republics of Perm Krai and Udmurtia to be used exclusively to generate electricity for Bitcoin-mining data centers. But there have been numerous other attempts recently in Russia to harness corporate and industrial computer systems for illicit cryptocurrency mining as well.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SpaceX launches most powerful rocket in decades...




NPR: The world's newest, most powerful rocket in decades has reached space. It took a few weather delays Tuesday, but the private space company SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

Watch the video of the launch at the here. (If you'd like to skip ahead to the very moment the rocket lifts off, you can find it about 29:50 into the video.)

Not long after the massive craft blasted off NASA's historic Launch Pad 39A, arcing a fiery path through the sky, its side boosters fell away. As the main rocket continued its journey into space, two of the boosters returned to Earth, landing successfully back on their designated pads.

UN investigating reports of alleged chlorine attack in Syria


(CNN)

United Nations human rights experts said Tuesday they were investigating reports of alleged chlorine bomb attacks on civilians in two Syrian towns.

"Most alarmingly, the commission has received multiple reports, now under investigation, that bombs allegedly containing weaponized chlorine have been used in the town of Saraqeb in Idlib and in Douma in Eastern Ghouta," near Damascus, Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the UN's commission of inquiry on Syria, said in a statement issued in Geneva.

The panel also expressed "deep concerned" over the escalation of violence in rebel-held Idlib province and in Eastern Ghouta, Pinheiro said.

The White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group, said three of its members and six others were injured by chlorine gas attack in Idlib's Saraqeb on Sunday night. The group posted several videos on social media showing men coughing and being put onto stretchers.

Two media activists who spoke to CNN from the nearby town of Kafranbil said they were told that the chlorine attack in Saraqeb had been launched from Syrian helicopters.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Was TOP SECRET ZUMA satellite lost in space?



THE SLATE:

SpaceX launched a rocket in Florida on Sunday carrying a secret military satellite dubbed “Zuma,” which was likely worth billions of dollars. The mission has been largely shrouded in secrecy—everything from the purpose of the payload to the identity of the government department that commissioned it is classified. And now, in the days after the launch, the public has been kept in the dark about what happened to the satellite. All we really know is that something went wrong.

Various news outlets are reporting that the satellite, built by Northrop Grumman and reportedly belonging to the United States, is now lost because it did not detach as planned from the Falcon 9 rocket and thus failed to reach orbit.

However, because the mission was classified, accounts of the bungled mission have conflicted about what exactly occurred. Even the livestream of the launch offers few answers, because SpaceX cut the broadcast before the satellite’s separation from the rocket to maintain a level of confidentiality.


The Wall Street Journal’s is reporting, based on interviews with industry and government sources, that the satellite was dragged back down into atmosphere when it didn’t separate properly from the upper part of the rocket, either due to problems with the timing of the release or damage to the payload. Members of Congress and staffers were then briefed on the situation. The report, however, acknowledges the murky nature of the events and contains a caveat: “The lack of details about what occurred means that some possible alternate sequence of events other than a failed separation may have been the culprit.”

Spokespersons for the companies involved offered the Journal very little by way of on-the-record information. Northrop Grumman did not provide a comment due to the “classified” nature of the launch, and a spokesman from SpaceX told the Journal, “We do not comment on missions of this nature, but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally.”

Bloomberg cited a U.S. official and two congressional aides in its account of what went wrong, which is roughly the same as the Journal’s.
One of the aides told the reporters that the satellite was lost, while another claimed that it crashed into the sea.

Yet, SpaceX’s chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell gave Bloomberg an even stronger statement concerning the success of the operation, which reads, “After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.” She added that “no design, operational or other changes are needed.”

READ MORE HERE


UPDATE: TESLARATI

After some 24 hours of total silence from all parties involved, dubious rumors began to trickle out on the afternoon of January 8 suggesting that SpaceX’s launch of Northrop Grumman’s highly secretive Zuma payload had somehow failed. Without hesitation, otherwise reputable outlets like CNBC and the Wall Street Journal immediately published separate articles claiming that lawmakers had been updated about the mission and told that the satellite had been destroyed while reentering Earth’s atmosphere. Having completely failed to both make it to orbit and “perfectly” separate from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 second stage, these articles implicitly placed the blame on SpaceX.

Claims of Zuma’s failure to properly separate from the second stage of the rocket led immediately to suggestions that SpaceX was at fault. The satellite’s manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, also refused to comment due to the classified nature of the mission, and the company may well have had their hands tied by requirements of secrecy from their customer(s). Immediately following these quick revelations, SpaceX was understandably bombarded with requests for comment by the media and furnished a response that further acknowledged the off-limits secrecy of the mission. However, SpaceX also stated that the company’s available data showed that Falcon 9 completed the mission without fault.

Without any background knowledge of spaceflight, this flurry of reporting and corporate comments would seem to be perfectly reasonable and unsurprising. However, the barest application of simple logic and orbital mechanics (what is actually involved in launching satellites to orbit) would have almost completely invalidated the information purportedly given to them.

Around the same time as claims of complete failure and satellite reentry were published, amateur spy satellite trackers had already begun the routine task of tracking and cataloging Zuma’s launch and orbit. 

Following Ars Technica’s breaking (and thankfully even-keeled) article on whispers of failure, reputable journalist Peter B. de Selding corroborated the rumors with reports that Zuma could be dead in orbit after separation from SpaceX’s upper stage. These facts alone ought to have stopped dead any speculation that Zuma had reentered while still attached to the Falcon 9 upper stage, and this was strengthened further by Dr. Marco Langbroek, who later published images provided to him that with very little doubt showed the second stage in a relatively stable orbit similar to the orbit that might be expected after a nominal launch.

While current information almost unequivocally suggests that SpaceX is in the clear, there has yet to be any official confirmation that the Zuma satellite is in any way dead or has actually failed. This is par for the course of classified government launches, and Zuma’s launch campaign was even more secretive and eccentric than usual – we still have no idea what government agency or agencies are responsible for the mission. And the satellite’s manufacturer was explicitly provided only a few minutes before its launch. Any publication with experience dealing with military topics and news would explicitly understand that any ‘leaked’ information on highly classified topics is inherently untrustworthy and ought to be handled with the utmost rigor and skepticism.

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