Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YouTube War

YouTube War: "

The Israel Defence Forces have taken to YouTube to bolster their claims that they are - as far as possible - targeting military objectives in Gaza, that they are serious about avoiding civilian casualties, and that Hamas has deliberately turned people into human shields by storing weapons in or under inhabited buildings.

This video shows people loading rocket-shaped devices on to a truck, apparently unaware of the reconnaissance platform overhead - a UAV, judging by the apparently tight turning radius.

We've been critical here of ground commanders' addiction to this kind of imagery, but what is's being used for here is operationally legitimate - the use of the target's behavior over time to confirm hostile intent. There is a common factor between this and the tunnel strike seen here:

That factor is that we are only seeing the end of a long and complex process. The sensors used here are not that good at detecting targets in a cluttered environment, which requires wide-area, long-term surveillance and other means, probably including human intelligence.

Also noteworthy is 'the sequence that starts about 55 sec into the second video, in which three weapons are seen to strike the same tunnel'less than two seconds'apart. Either there were several laser designators involved, or the weapons were using scene-matching electro-optical guidance.


(Via Ares.)

NASA looks for places to retire space shuttles

NASA looks for places to retire space shuttles: "If your organization has the right stuff, it could display one of the U.S. shuttles that NASA plans to retire from service in 2010.


(Via - U.S..)

Chilling last minutes aboard the Columbia

Chilling last minutes aboard the Columbia: "A NASA report on the last minutes of Space Shuttle Columbia cited problems with the crew's helmets, spacesuits and restraints, which resulted in 'lethal trauma' to the seven astronauts aboard.


(Via - U.S..)

Monday, December 29, 2008

F.E. Warren missile wing fails nuke inspection

F.E. Warren missile wing fails nuke inspection: "The 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., will fail its Nuclear Surety Inspection that is set to end Wednesday because its maintenance group did not properly document tests on its missiles, an Air Force official said."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

The Navy's Fighter-Plane-Size UAV, the X-47B, Is Unveiled in California

The Navy's Fighter-Plane-Size UAV, the X-47B, Is Unveiled in California: "Northrop Grumman unveiled its first completed X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System at its Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility. This giant UAV could soon be one of the most lethal unmanned aircraft in the U.S. military.


(Via - Technology: Military & Law Enforcement.)

Wraps Come Off U.S. Navy's First Tailless, Stealthy Unmanned Aircraft

Wraps Come Off U.S. Navy's First Tailless, Stealthy Unmanned Aircraft: "Navy and Northrop Grumman detail UCAS demo plan and novel X-47B design features"

(Via Aviation Week & Space Technology on

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel continues airstrikes in Gaza as death toll rises

Israel continues airstrikes in Gaza as death toll rises: "Israeli jets continued to pound Hamas targets in Gaza and Hamas militants launched more rockets into Israel today, as the number of people killed in the past day in Gaza rose to at least 275. Israeli ground troops and tanks were deployed around Gaza.



Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pakistan moves troops to India border

Pakistan moves troops to India border: "Pakistani troops have been moved to the Indian border amid fears of an Indian ground incursion, two Pakistani military officials told CNN today. Pakistan's armed forces have been on high alert in anticipation of a possible conflict with India following last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed 160 people. India believes the 10 men who carried out the attacks were trained at a terrorist camp in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir.



Israeli air attacks on Gaza kill 155

Israeli air attacks on Gaza kill 155: "Israeli aircraft launched air attacks across Gaza today, killing at least 155 people, including the Hamas police chief and other officials, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. Palestinian medical sources said 250 people were wounded. The strikes followed several days of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.



Suspected U.S. missiles kill 8 in Pakistan

Suspected U.S. missiles kill 8 in Pakistan: "DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Suspected U.S. missile strikes killed eight people Monday in northwest Pakistan, where al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding, officials and witnesses said."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Homes Wanted for NASA's Shuttles

Homes Wanted for NASA's Shuttles: "

Want a Space Shuttle Orbiter in your driveway, or a Space Shuttle Main Engine'as a'garden ornament? Better still, do you want to put either or both on public display in your museum? Then let NASA know. The agency has just issued a request for information to find out which 'educational institutions, science museums, and other appropriate organizations' are interested in acquiring Shuttle-related artifacts following the last flight - current scheduled for September 2010.

Before you'register interest'on behalf of your local Boy Scout Troop, be aware there is a catch. NASA expects the recipient to bear the full cost - an estimated $42 million - of getting an Orbiter safe and ready for public display.'That price includes shipping, thankfully - $6 million for delivery by Shuttle Carrier'Aircraft ferry flight from Kennedy Space Center to an airport in the U.S. The Orbiters will not come with main engines, but an SSME will'set you back a mere $400,000-800,000 - sadly shipping is extra in this case.

NASA has reserved one of the three flying Orbiters for the National Air & Space Museum, and is looking'to find'homes for the other two. They are planned to placed in storage at Kennedy and be available after September 2011. NASA wants to get them to their destinations no later than May 2012. There is a caveat. As the RFI notes: 'The Government may elect to change the scheduled date for the last flight.' So don't move that '76 AMC Gremlin off the driveway yet, even though it's been up on bricks for years...


(Via On Space.)

WhiteKnightTwo airborne!

WhiteKnightTwo airborne!: "

Taking advantage of a spell of clear weather before the expected arrival of another low pressure system in southern Calfornia, Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic successfully flew the SpaceShipTwo mothership WhiteKnightTwo on its maiden flight from Mojave on Dec 21.

blog post photo

(photo: Alan Radecki)


The unusually configured aircraft made a 59min maiden flight, taking off from Mojave at 08:16 local time, and reached a maximum altitude of 16,000ft. The twin-boomed aircraft, powered by four Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A turbofans, had been undergoing a series of high-speed taxi and brake tests in the run up to the first flight. However recent bad weather had pushed the first flight attempt back and it was unknown if Scaled Composites would successfully manage to achieve this before the company’s upcoming holiday break which begins later this week.

A second test flight, marking the start of an 18-month long test effort, is expected in early January. Captive carry flights with the SpaceShipTwo sub-orbital space tourist vehicle are not likely to begin until the last quarter of 2009. The first SpaceShipTwo is due to be unveiled around mid-year, says Virgin Galactic.


(Via On Space.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

LightSpeed binoculars transmit video and audio via Infrared

LightSpeed binoculars transmit video and audio via Infrared: "

It’s not often that tremendous advancements are made in the realm of binoculars, but these LightSpeed specs are something special. Aimed primarily at military / surveillance uses, this device is able to transmit video and audio via Infrared, theoretically enabling rooftop spies on opposite buildings to communicate. Furthermore, this method of communication is undetectable and untraceable. No mention of just how expensive these are, but suffice it to say, you aren’t apt to see these on shelves of Toys R Us and the like.

Filed under:

LightSpeed binoculars transmit video and audio via Infrared originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 16 Dec 2008 11:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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(Via Wacky Geeks.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

EA-18G: Transmit if you dare

EA-18G: Transmit if you dare: "EA-18G Growler finds enemy transmitters with its active electronically scanned array radar and passive radar threat detection and jams or eliminates them with anti-radiation missiles."

(Via Aviationweek: Defense.)

NRO Delays Delta IV Heavy Launch

NRO Delays Delta IV Heavy Launch: "Delay comes as USAF troubleshoots problems with its DSP 23 spacecraft already positioned in a stationary orbit"

(Via Space Channel.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

U.S. Confirms Iran Bought SA-20 Missiles

U.S. Confirms Iran Bought SA-20 Missiles: "

‘The Iranians are on contract for SA-20,’ says a senior, U.S. government official. The U.S. and Israel now face a ‘huge set of challenges in the future that we’ve never had [before]. We’ve been lulled into a false sense of security because our operations over the last 20 years involved complete air dominance and we’ve been free to operate in all domains,’ he adds.


blog post photo

Other senior officials independently confirm that Iran will get the Russian SA-20 strategic SAM system, irrespective of Kremlin protestations to the contrary. Tehran’s deployment of such a system would mark a step-up in capability, and considerably improve the country’s ability to defend its controversial nuclear facilities where the West remains concerned that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

The proliferation of so-called double-digit surface-to-air missile systems - such as the Almaz Antey SA-20 (S-300PMU1/S-300PMU2) - poses an increasing threat to non-stealthy aircraft, and will force changes in tactics and operational planning. The SA-20 has an engagement envelope of up to 150 kilometers; and Iran may be signed up for the S-300PMU-2 variant of the system.

Russia could use Byelorussia as the route for a sale, allowing it to deny any direct involvement, says a U.S. official.' It would likely take the Iranian armed forces some time, as much as 22 months, to become proficient in the operation of the SA-20, however, any deal would almost certainly cover training support of the system in the interim. Analysts suggest ships delivering the missiles and the training, support and assembly areas could become targets.

The SA-20, and even more so the SA-21 Growler (S-400) which is now entering service,' pose an increasing problem for mission planners using conventional strike aircraft. While low observable aircraft offer greater latitude for operations, they are not totally immune to air defenses.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 with its all-aspect, -40 dBsm radar cross-section signature can operate within the engagement envelope of the SA-20 and SA-21. But the Lockheed Martin F-35 with its -30 dBsm signature, which is not all-aspect stealth, is at greater risk. The rear quadrant of the F-35, particularly around the tailpipe area, is not as stealthy as the F-22.

The Northrop Grumman B-2, because of its aging stealth design, also has limitations in the amount of time it can spend within the range of double-digit systems since small signature clues can become cumulative and offer a firing solution. The U.S.’s next-generation bomber program is aimed at developing a low-observable platform capable of operating irrespective of the threat from systems of the SA-21 class.

More capable point defense systems - that would likely be used to protect SA-20 sites, for example - are also being introduced into the region. Syria is getting the SA-22 Greyhound (KBP Pantsyr), which uses a vehicle-mounted combination of cannon and missiles intended to provide defense against aircraft, helicopters, precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles.

New threats - involving advances in commercially available electronics - continue to rapidly mutate in the area of secure communications and command and control.

Recent pictures of the interior of a new Chinese surface-to-air missile command and control vehicle show two Inovo laptops and the commander of the integrated air defense system talking on a Blackberry. In the battery’s briefing vehicle, there’s a VOIP connection. These are all good, cheap commercial products.

With reporting from Douglas Barrie

Photo: RuLavan


(Via Ares.)

Coming Home

Coming Home: "'
blog post photo

(NASA'photo/Tom Tschida)


The Space Shuttle Endeavour is en-route back to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on top of the NASA Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, having left Edwards AFB, Calif., moments after sunrise at around 7.07 am today, Departing from runway 04, the combo made it to Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, after a 2-hr, 5-min flight - 5-min shorter than originally scheduled. After refueling and lunch for the crew, the 747-shuttle combo was scheduled to depart on the second leg of the cross-country ferry flight towards Florida.

To see the route followed by the 747SCA and to track onwards progress, check this link.

To watch a video of the departure, follow the links here.


(Via On Space.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now on Video - That Hovering MKV

Now on Video - That Hovering MKV: "

Remember the little target drone, sorry droid,'that zapped a'blindfolded Luke Skywalker during lightsaber training? Well here's the real thing. The US Missile Defense Agency has released video of the Dec. 2 hover test of Lockheed Martin's Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV-L). You can read Amy Butler's post on the test here. A hover test like this allows the vehicle to operate as it would outside the atmosphere.

Video: MDA

In the 20-sec. free-flight test'in the National Hover Test Facility at Edwards AFB, Calif., the MKV-L used its propulsion system to hover while it acquired and tracked a simulated target. Lockheed's MKV-L design has a seeker-equipped carrier vehicle that dispenses and guides a small kill vehicle (see it strapped around'its body).


(Via Ares.)

Fighter jet crashes into neighborhood killing 3

Fighter jet crashes into neighborhood killing 3: "At least two people were killed today when a military fighter jet crashed into a residential neighborhood in San Diego, California. Two other people are missing. The pilot ejected before the crash and is hospitalized. The F/A-18 jet was trying to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar when it went down.




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