Friday, February 23, 2024

Russia looses another A-50 early warning aircraft.

The Ukrainian Air Force downed a rare Russian A-50 early warning and control aircraft over the Azov Sea on the evening of Feb. 23, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk reported.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency confirmed the aircraft had been downed as a result of a joint operation with the Air Force. The downing is "another serious blow" to Russia's military capabilities, the agency said.

Oleshchuk posted on Telegram at around at 8 p.m. local time (UTC+2) to thank "all those who ensured the result."

Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported minutes later that "an unidentified aircraft crashed in the Kanevskoy District in Krasnodar Krai."

A second report from RIA Novosti said that two aircraft had crashed in the area, causing a large fire to break out at the crash site. A third update at around 9 p.m. UTC+2 time claimed that there had in fact only been one aircraft involved in the crash.

Kanevskoy District is situated on the coast of the Azov Sea, 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the front line in Ukraine.

HUR later said that the aircraft was downed near the city of Yeysk, which is located around 50 kilometers (32 miles) north of Kanevskoy District and is home to a Russian military airfield.

According the agency, the plane was a modernized version of the Soviet-built jet.

The Ukrainian Air Force had previously downed a Russian A-50 over the Azov Sea on Jan. 14. An Il-22 airborne control center was also reportedly damaged beyond repair in the same operation.

The A-50 provides several critical functions for the ongoing war in Ukraine, such as detecting air defense systems, guided missiles, and coordinating targets for Russian fighter jets. Russia possesses less than ten of these planes.

A-50 aircraft have an estimated price tag of around $350 million. The destruction of the jet is the latest in a recent uptick of downed Russian planes.

Thursday, February 15, 2024


WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House publicly confirmed on Thursday that Russia has obtained a “troubling” emerging anti-satellite weapon but said it cannot directly cause “physical destruction” on Earth.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials have information that Russia has obtained the capability but that such a weapon is not currently operational. U.S. officials are analyzing the information they have on the emerging technology and have consulted with allies and partners on the matter.

“First this is not an active capability that’s been deployed and though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety,” Kirby said. “We’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth.’’

The White House confirmed its intelligence after a vague warning Wednesday from the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, urged the Biden administration to declassify information about what he called a serious national security threat.

“It’s obvious that Washington is trying to force Congress to vote on the aid bill by hook or by crook,” Peskov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. “Let’s see what ruse the White House will use.”

The capability is space based and would violate an international space treaty, to which more than 130 countries have signed onto, including Russia.

The White House said it would look to engage the Russians directly on the concerns. Even as the White House sought to assure Americans, Kirby acknowledged it was a serious matter.

“I don’t want to minimize the potential here for disruption,” Kirby said.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was scheduled to brief lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill on the Russian threat.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Rep Turner leaks information on "serious national security threats." UPDATE: POSSIBLE SPACE BASED NUKES?


House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner has made information concerning a “serious national security threat” available to all members of Congress to review, the committee said on Wednesday.

While Turner and the White House remained vague on what the threat entailed, two sources and a US official tell CNN the threat is related to Russia. Multiple sources familiar with the intelligence characterized it as “very sensitive.”

One of the sources who has seen the intelligence confirmed that “it is, in fact, a highly concerning and destabilizing” Russian capability “that we were recently made aware of.” But House Speaker Mike Johnson later sought to soothe concerns about the unspecified threat, saying there is “no cause for alarm.”

“We just want to assure everyone steady hands are at the wheel,” Johnson said. “We’re working on it and there’s no need for alarm.”

While the Wednesday warning was vague, the United States has long been concerned about Russian military capabilities and the country’s destabilizing influence in Europe and around the world as the war in Ukraine continues, with the prospects of additional US aid being sent to Kyiv shaky.

Earlier Wednesday, Turner sent his Congressional colleagues a letter saying the urgent matter is “with regard to a destabilizing foreign military capability.”

Turner said in the letter to his congressional colleagues that the House Intelligence Committee voted on February 13 to make certain information available for lawmakers to review and says members have time to view this between Wednesday and Friday.

Turner is also calling on President Joe Biden to declassify “all information relating to this threat.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he had personally reached out to set a meeting with top lawmakers on national security committees before Turner warned publicly of what he termed the “serious national security threat.”

Sullivan signaled some frustration with Turner for preempting that meeting, scheduled for Thursday with his public statement, saying he was “a bit surprised Turner came out publicly today”

“I reached out to see Turner,” Sullivan said. “Turner has gone out publicly. I’m going to go see Turner tomorrow. That’s where I want to leave things for today.”

He declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat.

“I’m not in a position to say anything further from this podium at this time,” he said.

He emphasized the Biden administration has “gone further and in more creative, more strategic ways, dealt with the declassification of intelligence in the national interest of the United States than any administration in history.”

“So you definitely are not going to find an unwillingness to do that when it’s in our national security interest to do so,” he said

This story has been updated with additional information.

The White House's national security adviser said Wednesday that he had already scheduled a classified meeting with congressional leadership before a top House Republican requested that President Joe Biden "declassify all information" that relates to "serious national security threat."

Two sources familiar with deliberations on Capitol Hill said the intelligence has to do with the Russians wanting to put a nuclear weapon into space.

This is not to drop a nuclear weapon onto Earth but rather to possibly use against satellites.

"It is very concerning and very sensitive," said one source, who called it "a big deal."

While not addressing the subject matter directly, multiple members of Congress have described the issue as serious -- but nothing that should cause public alarm.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Ultimate "Hush Kit" NASA, Lockheed Martin Reveal X-59 Quiet Supersonic Aircraft

NASA and Lockheed Martin formally debuted the agency’s X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft Friday. Using this one-of-a-kind experimental airplane, NASA aims to gather data that could revolutionize air travel, paving the way for a new generation of commercial aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound.

“This is a major accomplishment made possible only through the hard work and ingenuity from NASA and the entire X-59 team,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “In just a few short years we’ve gone from an ambitious concept to reality. NASA’s X-59 will help change the way we travel, bringing us closer together in much less time.”

Melroy and other senior officials revealed the aircraft during a ceremony hosted by prime contractor Lockheed Martin Skunk Works at its Palmdale, California facility.

The X-59 is at the center of NASA’s Quesst mission, which focuses on providing data to help regulators reconsider rules that prohibit commercial supersonic flight over land. For 50 years, the U.S. and other nations have prohibited such flights because of the disturbance caused by loud, startling sonic booms on the communities below. The X-59 is expected to fly at 1.4 times the speed of sound, or 925 mph. Its design, shaping and technologies will allow the aircraft to achieve these speeds while generating a quieter sonic thump.

“It’s thrilling to consider the level of ambition behind Quesst and its potential benefits,” said Bob Pearce, associate administrator for aeronautics research at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “NASA will share the data and technology we generate from this one-of-a-kind mission with regulators and with industry. By demonstrating the possibility of quiet commercial supersonic travel over land, we seek to open new commercial markets for U.S. companies and benefit travelers around the world.”

With rollout complete, the Quesst team will shift to its next steps in preparation for first flight: integrated systems testing, engine runs, and taxi testing for the X-59.

The aircraft is set to take off for the first time later this year, followed by its first quiet supersonic flight. The Quesst team will conduct several of the aircraft’s flight tests at Skunk Works before transferring it to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, which will serve as its base of operations.

“Across both teams, talented, dedicated, and passionate scientists, engineers, and production artisans have collaborated to develop and produce this aircraft,” said John Clark, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “We’re honored to be a part of this journey to shape the future of supersonic travel over land alongside NASA and our suppliers.”

Once NASA completes flight tests, the agency will fly the aircraft over several to-be-selected cities across the U.S., collecting input about the sound the X-59 generates and how people perceive it. NASA will provide that data to the Federal Aviation Administration and international regulators.

The X-59 is a unique experimental airplane, not a prototype – its technologies are meant to inform future generations of quiet supersonic aircraft.

At 99.7 feet long and 29.5 feet wide, the aircraft’s shape and the technological advancements it houses will make quiet supersonic flight possible. The X-59’s thin, tapered nose accounts for almost a third of its length and will break up the shock waves that would ordinarily result in a supersonic aircraft causing a sonic boom.

Due to this configuration, the cockpit is located almost halfway down the length of the aircraft – and does not have a forward-facing window. Instead, the Quesst team developed the eXternal Vision System, a series of high-resolution cameras feeding a 4K monitor in the cockpit.

The Quesst team also designed the aircraft with its engine mounted on top and gave it a smooth underside to help keep shockwaves from merging behind the aircraft and causing a sonic boom.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

F-35 loses "stealth panel" over the Pacific

Interesting news, an F-35 losing a very expensive stealth panel over the Pacific. I couldn't help but notice the pilots of the F-35Cs (that landed at our local airport in November) were futzing with the panels. My video:


On the morning of December 18, an F-35A Lightning II belonging to the US Air Force’s 356th Fighter Squadron touched down at the Japanese Kadena Air Base. In an unusual incident, it was discovered that a vital component of the stealth aircraft was missing when it landed.

After the incident came to light, a spokesperson of the Air Force said that the advanced stealth fighter that returned to its Okinawa base without a panel might have lost the part over the Pacific Ocean.

The spokesperson for the 18th Wing, which is the USAF’s hosting Wing at the Kadena air base, 1st Lt. Robert Dabbs, stated that the aircraft was missing a hexagonal side panel that measured 18 by 12 inches and weighed roughly two pounds. The panel is generally located on the aircraft’s right side, beneath the cockpit.

“Expectations are the panel departed the aircraft over water,” Dabbs was quoted saying. “We have not received reports of damage or injuries.”

The missing panel covers the external ports for electronic devices. Without the piece, the aircraft may no longer be able to disguise itself, thus eroding the aircraft’s stealth capabilities and making it an easy target for the enemy and its air defense systems.


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