U.S. May Monitor Pirates From Space: "Goal: leverage radar, transponders to create spaced-based collaboration for International Global Maritime Awareness"
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By KEITH ROGERS
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
An unmanned MQ-1B Predator spy plane crashed today on public land 1 and one-half miles west of Creech Air Force Base during a routine training mission, a spokeswoman for the 432nd Wing at the base said.
No injuries or private property damage were reported.
Base personnel responded to the crash site to work with local officials to secure the wreckage of the $4 million aircraft.
The crash occurred 8 a.m. about 47 miles northwest of Las Vegas in a remote desert area managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
No military personnel or civilians were in the area at the time of the impact, said Capt. Brooke Brander, a spokeswoman for the 432nd Wing.
“We’re still securing the site and picking up the pieces,” she said, adding that investigators will determine what caused the aircraft to go down and the amount of damage it sustained.
Editor's note: Although no humans died in the crash, three computers onboard were destroyed. They are survived by two IBM PCs (running hacked copies of Vista) and a Commodore 64.
The aircraft was being controlled remotely from a ground station at Creech and was not armed with Hellfire missiles, Brander said.
Fran Townsend, who advised President George W. Bush for more than three years, called the move "crass insensitivity" in the wake of 9/11.
"I'd call this felony stupidity. This is probably not the right job for Mr. Caldera to be in if he didn't understand the likely reaction of New Yorkers, of the mayor," Townsend said Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."
Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, quickly apologized for Monday's incident after the planes prompted workers and residents to evacuate buildings in New York and New Jersey. Watch Townsend slam Caldera »
"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision," Caldera said. "While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption."
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft, which functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard, was taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot.
On Tuesday Sen. John McCain wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying he was "profoundly disturbed" by the fly-over "against the backdrop of September 11."
"The supposed mission represents a fundamentally unsound exercise in military judgment and may have constituted an inappropriate use of Department of Defense resources," McCain, a ranking member of the Senate's Armed Services Committee wrote in the letter.
He requested an investigation into the cost of the flyover.
An Air Force source told CNN Tuesday that the White House Military Office planned a photo shoot over various Washington monuments next week but that it's now been cancelled.
An angry Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it "defies the imagination" that an agency would schedule the photo shoot so near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
President Obama also reportedly expressed outrage. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the FAA's decision to not announce the flyby "borders on being either cruel or very, very stupid."
The YouTube video shows dozens of people standing in a parking lot, watching the plane approach. As it nears, they begin to run. Someone unleashes an expletive. "Run, run!" says one person. "Oh my God," cries another.
Two officials said the White House Military Office was trying to update its file photos of Air Force One. The officials said the president was angry when he learned Monday afternoon about the flight.
"The president was furious about it," one of the officials said.
On Tuesday, Obama told reporters, "It was a mistake. It was something we found out about along with all of you. And it will not happen again."
Obama has ordered a review into "why that decision was made and to ensure that it never happens again," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday. Jim Messina, a deputy chief of staff, will lead the effort.
Bloomberg said he, too, was perturbed.
"I'm annoyed -- furious is a better word -- that I wasn't told," he said, calling the FAA's decision to withhold details about the flight "ridiculous" and "poor judgment."
"Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center defies the imagination," he said. "Had we known, I would have asked them not to."
Linda Garcia-Rose, a social worker who counsels post-traumatic stress disorder patients in an office three blocks from where the World Trade Center stood, called the flight an "absolute travesty." Watch the White House respond to questions about the scare »
"There was no warning. It looked like the plane was about to come into us," she said. "I'm a therapist, and I actually had a panic attack."
Garcia-Rose, who works with nearly two dozen patients ages 15 to 47, said she was inundated with phone calls from patients.
"They're traumatized. They're asking 'How could this happen?' They're nervous. Their anxiety levels are high," she said. iReport.com: Tell us what you think
Garcia-Rose said she is considering filing a class-action suit against the government for sanctioning the plane's unannounced flight.
"I believe the government has done something really wrong," she said.
Capt. Anna Carpenter of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland said local law enforcement agencies and the FAA had been given notice of the exercise.
New York Police Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said the department had been alerted about the flight "with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it."
White House apologizes for botched photo op: "NEW YORK — It was supposed to be a photo op that captured images of an Air Force One plane with a majestic Statue of Liberty in the background. Instead, it turned into a public relations nightmare that led to recriminations from the president and mayor and prompted thousands other to ask, ‘What were they thinking?’"
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Monday, April 27, 2009
Top U.S. military official 'alarmed' over Pakistan: "Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is 'very alarmed by the growing extremist threat in Pakistan and remains frustrated particularly by the political leadership's inability to confront that threat,' his spokesman said Monday.
White House apologizes after jet rattles N.Y.: "Workers and residents evacuated themselves from several downtown Manhattan buildings Monday after a low-flying Boeing 747 was spotted above the city's skyline. The aircraft was a White House plane taking part in a photo shoot, the FAA said later. And Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, issued an apology: 'I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.'
Sunday, April 26, 2009
China denies hacking into F-35 data: "BEIJING — China denied media reports that hackers in the country breached a U.S. jet fighter program two years ago, calling the allegations ‘irresponsible’ and ‘made up.’"
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Fighter role of ‘Tacos’ nears end: "KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — A 61-year-old Air National Guard unit that had hoped to replace its aging jets with F-22 Raptors will fly its last mission in 14 months, New Mexico National Guard Maj. Gen. Kenny Montoya said."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
An unmanned airship could be conducting weeks-long persistent ISR missions over Afghanistan within 18 months, if the US Army gets any takers for its latest sources sought notice. Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) is looking for a prototype of a hybrid airship called the Long Endurance Multi-payload Vehicle (LEMV). Requirements include a three-week endurance, station-keeping at 20,000ft altitude while carrying a 2,500lb, 16kW multi-INT payload.
At first glance the requirement looks a reasonable fit for something like Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Long Endurance Demonstrator (HALE-D) - a subscale prototype of the proposed solar-powered stratospheric High-Altitude Airship (HAA). Except for that reference to "hybrid airship", which normally connotes a vehicle combining lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air characteristics, and using buoyancy, aerodynamics and vectored thrust for lift. Think of DARPA's defunct Walrus uber-lifter program, or the Skunk Works' P-971, seen here:
The solar-powered HALE-D, which is already being funded by SMDC and is due to fly in August, is a pure airship designed to demonstrate station-keeping at 60,000ft, with the goal of exceeding two week's endurance. And it will carry only a 50lb payload. The full-size HAA would carry a 2,000lb/15kW payload at 65,000ft for more than 30 days - but is a long way from being built.
SMDC is also funding the HiSentinel solar-powered stratospheric airship demonstrator developed by Southwest Research Institute and Aerostar International, but that carries only an 80lb/500W payload. So where will the LEMV prototype come from? For a possible clue, check out Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd. The latest incarnation of Airship Industries and Advanced Technologies Group, the UK-based company says it is flying a subscale demonstrator of a unmanned hybrid airship...
Friday, April 24, 2009
Pakistani PM: Nukes safe from Taliban
Pakistani PM: Nukes safe from Taliban: "Pakistan's military can stop Taliban fighters who are closing in on the capital and the nation's nuclear weapons are safe, Pakistan's prime minister said Friday.
For all you unmanned combat aerial vehicle fans, the wait is over. Here are some snazzy'photos of the Avenger, i.e., General Atomics' new Predator C, which appears'to take the old standard and make it stealthy and more deadly.
Aviation Week & Space Technology is publishing an exclusive set of photos, the first, and they are also available here in the Defense Showcase, along with many we couldn't fit in the print version. The magazine's April 20th edition has interesting new information on the UCAV, which we previewed for you on AviationWeek.com this week.
While company officials aren’t calling it a stealthy aircraft, they will admit to a reduced signature. The 20-hr.-endurance UAV’s undeniably stealthed-up exterior offers clues about how the aircraft could be employed.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems'chief of UAVs,'retired admiral Tom Cassidy, has'created an empire by building on his own dime'what the Pentagon needs and not what it asks for. The result is a line of relatively inexpensive, armed, high-performance combat UAVs that are used by all the services and intelligence agencies. Now it appears that Cassidy could strike yet again with a stealthy, armed, fast, all-jet UCAV that is cheaper than'known Air Force or Navy UCAV designs.
The aircraft also was designed from its inception so that the wings could be folded at the point where they crank (or change shape at mid-wing) for storage in hangars or for aircraft carrier operations. The UAV also comes with a tailhook that suggests that carrier-related trials are planned. The inner section of the cranked wing is deep, providing structural strength for carrier landings and generous fuel volume while maintaining a dry, folding outer wing.
Read this week's Aviation Week & Space Technology story: Predator C Avenger Makes First Flights.
Aviation Week's Bill Sweetman, editor in chief of Defense Technology International, helped report this story.
Credit: General Atomics"
F-16s, helos intercept small plane near Capitol: "WASHINGTON — A small, single-engine plane strayed into restricted air space near the U.S. Capitol on Friday, forcing anxious officials to place the White House in temporary lock down and take steps to evacuate the Capitol."
(Via Air Force Times - News.)
Researcher and long-time collaborator Terry Mahon has passed on some observations regarding that other stealthy UAV, the one spotted at Kandahar recently. In fact, Mahon notes, this could be something that Aviation Week's been covering for some years.
As Dave Fulghum and Amy Butler reported in September 2005:
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, perceived as lagging rivals Boeing and Northrop Grumman in the unmanned aerial vehicle field, is secretly developing a stealthy, long-endurance unmanned aircraft for penetrating deep inside hostile airspace to collect intelligence.' By early next year at the latest, the company is expected to announce that - with the U.S. Air Force’s backing - it is building one or more demonstrators of what the Pentagon has newly designated an unmanned aircraft system (UAS).'
This might have been Polecat, but that aircraft was strictly a private venture, and more of an aerodynamics technology demonstrator than an operational system. Then, in February 2006, the Washington Outlook column stated that:'
The Pentagon is taking another look at an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft design that it rejected more than 10 years ago in favor of Northrop Grumman's popular Global Hawk. Planners are back looking at concepts similar to the two-engine, 125-ft. wingspan, low-signature B-2-like design offered for the competition.' It was to fly at 70,000-80,000 ft. and pull from an inventory of two dozen classified engines in storage.
'This could have referred to a Lockheed Martin proposal for the Global Hawk contest, or to the Frontier Systems/Loral offering. The engines would have been GE J97s from the late-1960s Compass Arrow program - tested and qualified for flight above 80,000 feet. (The existence of a NASA-held stockpile of these engines was confirmed in early 2006.)
Black-project researcher Peter Merlin is of the view that the Kandahar aircraft may be associated with the Desert Prowler program patch, which has circulated widely since last year. It has been suggested that Desert Prowler is a UAV that has been flying since 2005, in which case it pre-dates the split of the Joint UCAS program, which took place at the end of the year.'
Mahon adds:' 'Recall that under General Jumper (CoS 2001-2005), the AF consistently sought to position J-UCAS first and foremost as a SEAD/IW/DEW platform.''
It could be, therefore, that the Kandahar UAV - which cannot be particularly sensitive, or it would not have been seen in plain sight - is a four-year-old demonstrator, pressed into service in an information-operations role to meet an urgent requirement."
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The US Navy’s increased emphasis on stealth – recently evidenced by the low observable features of the Northrop Grumman X-47 UCAS demonstrator – also appears to be manifesting itself in new ground test facilities.
A recently snapped view of the rarely photographed Etcheron Valley Junction Ranch Range in the far northeast corner of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center clearly shows a recent addition – a newly completed radar cross section test site. Its presence seems to underline a growing focus on comprehensive stealth testing. According to Global Security, the Junction Ranch Range is the Navy's leading outdoor RDT&E antenna characterization, GPS antenna test/jamming Range, HPM/Transient Electromagnetic, and RCS/radar signature test facility.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Former astronaut: Man not alone in universe: "Earth Day may fall later this week, but as far as former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell and other UFO enthusiasts are concerned, the real story is happening elsewhere. Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments.
Data on new U.S. fighter jet hacked, officials say: "Thousands of confidential files on the F-35, the U.S. military's most technologically advanced fighter aircraft, have been compromised by unknown computer hackers over the past two years, according to senior defense officials. Hackers also gained entry to the Air Force's air traffic control systems and were able to see such information as the locations of U.S. military aircraft in flight, according to the officials.