Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gates: Nuclear-armed N. Korea unacceptable

Gates: Nuclear-armed N. Korea unacceptable: "The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference. 'We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region -- or on us,' said Gates, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.



Monday, May 25, 2009

Obama: N. Korean nuclear test 'a grave threat'

Obama: N. Korean nuclear test 'a grave threat': "President Obama castigated the North Korean government Monday for conducting a second nuclear bomb test in defiance of multiple international warnings.


(Via - U.S..)

North Korea's 2nd nuke test stirs outrage

North Korea's 2nd nuke test stirs outrage: "North Korea delivered on its threat today, conducting a second nuclear test that angered governments around the globe. The country also apparently test-fired a short-range missile today, the White House said. Japan called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Russia's ambassador to the U.N. said a meeting is expected today.



Sunday, May 24, 2009

US Spy Flies To Gain New Eyes

New miniature camera technology may be about to give the US military's insect-sized surveillance drones a new way of seeing the world that's more energy-conscious than before. Yay, technology?

New Scientist reports that a new microchip-sized digital camera, developed by the California Institute of Technology using funding from NASA and the Pentagon, has been patented and is expected to replace current camera technology on the tiny spy drones.

According to the article, the revolutionary aspect of the design is that the new size means that the main power drain on existing minicams - connecting the chips for the sensors and support circuitry - is no longer necessary, making the new remote controlled camera use much less energy, and therefore be more suited for secret surveillance missions. I'm not sure how I feel about this news, not least of all because I didn't even know that the US military even had insect-sized surveillance drones before.


STS-125 Ends With Edwards AFB Landing

STS-125 Ends With Edwards AFB Landing: "Hubble servicing mission ends successfully after landing at Kennedy Space Center is waved off for weather."

(Via Space Channel.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weather again delays shuttle landing

Weather again delays shuttle landing: "Weather conditions forced NASA to wave off a landing attempt for space shuttle Atlantis scheduled for 9:16 a.m. ET Saturday at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, the space agency said.



Friday, May 22, 2009

USAF Looks To Next-Gen UAV

USAF Looks To Next-Gen UAV: "

The USAF's next-generation unmanned air system could be a 'lightweight-fighter sized, 20,000 pound' aircraft with 'minimally stealthy' characteristics, according to the service's chief procurement officer for UAVs.

Col. William Bridges, chief of the airborne reconnaissance division in the office of the assistant secretary of the air force for acquisition, says that an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for what the service calls the Next Generation UAV or MQ-X could get under way in 2010, with a program start (budgets permitting) in 2012. The goal is a fielded capability in 2020. Bridges was speaking at a London conference organized by Hanson Wade.'

The service's views of MQ-X have changed since it issued a request for information in 2008. 'Two years ago we thought it would be the next improvement on the Predator - now we're thinking of something brand new.' Almost twice the size of the MQ-9A Reaper, the new aircraft would have turbofan power for higher response speeds and would be designed as 'a truck' for new and emerging sensors and weapons.'

The aircraft would be 'minimally stealthy', Bridges says, with some stealth-related shaping but few if any special materials. The rationale is that for a high-altitude, long-loiter vehicle to evade detection would require a level of stealth that's not affordable in the numbers that the USAF wants. It would probably use an off-the-shelf engine to reduce development costs.'

In what might be a sign of a new trend, Bridges also prefers to use the term 'remotely piloted aircraft' or RPA for UAVs. 'They have a pilot in the loop, and to me 'unmanned aircraft' sounds like 'horseless carriage',' Bridges says.'


(Via Ares.)

V-22 Faces Mission Capable Rates Issues

V-22 Faces Mission Capable Rates Issues: "An aircraft is usually deployed only after it has passed its Material Support date; the V-22 was deployed a year prior"

(Via Defense Channel.)

WOOPS: Wrong Video of the Sejil-2 Launch

WOOPS: Wrong Video of the Sejil-2 Launch: "

You can't blame the US-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and some news outlets too much for the small snafu. The Iranians have had a bad track record in the area of truth in advertising.

MDAA posted this video, allegedly of the Sejil-2 launch May 20 by Iran. But, as you can see, the plume is quite erratic, denoting a problem in the missile's flight.'

The May 20 test, by contrast, has been hailed as a success, even by US defense officials, who say the missile was produced in Iran. This is a significant step in Tehran's ballistic missile ambitions, they say.

Below is what really should be a pic of the Sejil-2 launch May 20.


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source: UPI/Landov Photos


(Via Ares.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"T-38" crashes near Edwards

CALIFORNIA CITY, California — A military jet on a training mission
crashed north of Edwards Air Force base in the desert on Thursday,
authorities said. The fate of the two crew members aboard was not
immediately known.

The T-38 Talon went down at 1:15 p.m. nine miles north of the base,
Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes said in a statement. Base officials
had no immediate information on the cause of the crash.

It was the second crash of an aircraft from Edwards in less than two
months. On March 25, an Air Force F-22A Raptor went down about 35
miles north of the base, killing a test pilot for prime contractor
Lockheed Martin Corp.

The T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer
used primarily for pilot training.

Test pilots and flight test engineers are trained in T-38s at Edwards,
while Air Force Materiel Command uses the jet to test experimental
equipment such as electrical and weapon systems. NASA uses T-38s as
trainers for astronauts.

The jets are a little more than 46 feet long and have wingspans of
about 25 feet.

The Talon, built by Northrop Corp., first flew in 1959. The Air Force
acquired more than 1,100 before production ended in 1972.

Obama wants classification review

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 47
May 21, 2009

"We are launching a review of current policies by all of those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible," announced President Obama in a speech at the National Archives today.

While the President has spoken broadly before of the need for greater transparency, this is the new Administration's first public approach to reform of the national security classification system. A focused review of individual agency classification policies, many of which have not been revised or updated for years, has the potential to eliminate obsolete classification requirements, and to minimize overclassification. (See "Overcoming Overclassification," Secrecy News, September 16, 2008.)

"I ran for President promising transparency, and I meant what I said," Obama said. "That is why, whenever possible, we will make information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. But I have never argued – and never will – that our most sensitive national security matters should be an open book."

"I will never abandon – and I will vigorously defend – the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war; to protect sources and methods; and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. And so, whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions – by Congress or by the courts."

The President also indicated that an ongoing review of the use of the state secrets privilege was "nearing completion."

"On all of these matters related to the disclosure of sensitive information, I wish I could say that there is a simple formula. But there is not. These are tough calls involving competing concerns, and they require a surgical approach."

"But the common thread that runs through all of my decisions is simple: we will safeguard what we must to protect the American people, but we will also ensure the accountability and oversight that is the hallmark of our constitutional system. I will never hide the truth because it is uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don't know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why," he said.

Iranian launch is a success, Pentagon says

Iranian launch is a success, Pentagon says: "WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed that Iran conducted a successful ballistic missile test."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

F-15s leaving Elmendorf

F-15s leaving Elmendorf: "ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Elmendorf Air Force Base is losing its F-15 fleet."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

4 arrested in alleged NYC synagogue bomb plot

4 arrested in alleged NYC synagogue bomb plot: "Four men were arrested Wednesday for an alleged plot to bomb a New York synagogue and Jewish community center, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

AF plans X-51 supersonic engine flight test

AF plans X-51 supersonic engine flight test: "DAYTON, Ohio — The Air Force plans to send a futuristic-looking aircraft roaring out over the Pacific Ocean at hypersonic speeds this fall in its first flight test of a scramjet engine."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Air Force deploying Raptors to Japan, Guam

Air Force deploying Raptors to Japan, Guam: "HONOLULU — The Air Force says it will deploy two contingents of the world’s most advanced fighter jet, the F-22, to Japan and Guam this month."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Rocket with military satellite launches

Rocket with military satellite launches: "ATLANTIC, Va. — A Minotaur I rocket has blasted off from Virginia’s Eastern Shore."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Was Polecat Part of a Litter with the Kandahar UAS?

Was Polecat Part of a Litter with the Kandahar UAS?: "

Does Lockheed Martin's ill-fated Polecat UAS demonstrator share a lineage with the so-called Beast of Kandahar?

Graham Warwick posted this pic of the UAS flying out of Afghanistan last week. It isn't much to go on, but you can see a basic outline of the airframe, and the landing gear down.'

Realizing this is nothing but speculation -- and hopefully educated speculation -- it does resemble the Skunk Works's Polecat, no? I pulled these photos of the UAS at a similar angle to the mystery aircraft.


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Skunk Works has been mum for years on their UAS projects, except of course for their Polecat, which crashed for about as silly a reason as a UAS can crash. A ground controller accidentally flipped the switch which told the system to crash -- at least that was the best version I heard. The intakes -- or whatever they are -- on the top of the Kandahar UAS are interesting ... I found this old pic of Polecat that shows its angled 'eyebrows.'


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What do you think; has Skunk Works been busy?


(Via Ares.)

Norad Flight Exercise Planned for Washington, D.C.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its
geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region, will
conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 09-07, on May 19 and 20 between midnight and 6
a.m. EDT in the National Capital Region (NCR), Washington, D.C.

The exercise comprises a series of training flights held in
coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital
Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the
Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR), Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard
and CONR's Western Air Defense Sector.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD's intercept
and identification operations, as well as procedural tests of the NCR Visual
Warning System. Two Civil Air Patrol Cessna aircraft, two Air Force F-16s
and one Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the
exercise. Residents may see these aircraft approaching and flying in the
vicinity of the Washington D.C. area as part of this exercise during the
late night and early morning hours from midnight through 6 a.m. on May 19th
and the 20th .

For more information on the Falcon Virgo exercise, please
contact CONR Public Affairs at (850) 283-8080, or the NORAD Public Affairs
Office at (719) 554-6889.

Someone tell Biden about Area 51!

Vice President Joe Biden, well-known for his verbal gaffes, may have finally outdone himself, divulging potentially classified information meant to save the life of a sitting vice president.
According to a report, while recently attending the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, an annual event where powerful politicians and media elite get a chance to cozy up to one another, Biden told his dinnermates about the existence of a secret bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory, which is now the home of the vice president.

The bunker is believed to be the secure, undisclosed location former Vice President Dick Cheney remained under protection in secret after the 9/11 attacks.
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek magazine’s Washington contributing editor, said Biden revealed the location while filling in for President Obama at the dinner, who, along with Grover Cleveland, is the only president to skip the gathering.

According to the report, Biden “said a young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment.”
Clift continued: “The officer explained that when Cheney was in lock down, this was where his most trusted aides were stationed, an image that Biden conveyed in a way that suggested we shouldn’t be surprised that the policies that emerged were off the wall.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

NORAD promises changes after security review

NORAD promises changes after security review: "PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command said Thursday he approved some ‘prudent’ changes in NORAD’s headquarters after a security review prompted by NORAD’s decision to move some functions out of a Colorado mountain bunker."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Another Predator crashes in Afghanistan

Another Predator crashes in Afghanistan: "For the second time in less than two weeks, a remote-controlled Air Force MQ-1 Predator crashed in eastern Afghanistan."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Two Down, Three To Go

Two Down, Three To Go: "JOHNSON SPACE CENTER -- It took them seven hours, 56 minutes, but astronauts Mike Good and' Mike Massimino kept the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on track with their first spacewalk together.

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The second EVA of the mission ran long because of the trouble the spacewalkers encountered replacing the telescope's six gyros' (see previous post). Before closing the doors on that worksite, Massimino managed to connect some power cables as a get-ahead task for EVA No. 3 tomorrow. This video shot with his helmet camera shows just how tight the workspace was.

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Once the gyros were installed, the EVA team and' controllers at' mission control here decided to press on to replace the first of two battery modules before returning to the airlock. That required Massimino to replenish the oxygen' in his spacesuit, but the work itself' went fairly smoothly. Weighing 460 pounds on the ground, each module contains three nickel hydrogen batteries that store electricity generated by the telescope's solar arrays' for use in orbital darkness.

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The batteries haven't' been replaced since the telescope was launched 19 years ago, and have worked' well even though they were designed for five-year service life.

The second EVA ran so long that mission managers here decided to give the crew an extra hour before going to sleep to finish the work necessary to get ready for the third spacewalk of the mission tomorrow. They will also get' to sleep an extra' hour - until about 5:30 a.m. EDT -- on Saturday. Spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel are scheduled to spend the day removing the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, which fixed a flaw accidentally ground into the telescope's main light-gathering mirror, and then installing the' Cosmic Origins Spectrograph in its place.

They will also attempt to repair the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which has four electronics cards that need to be replaced. Spacewalks also are' scheduled on Sunday and Monday.

(Via On Space.)

Pakistan says 1,000 militants killed

Pakistan says 1,000 militants killed: "A military offensive to rid Pakistan's northwest of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters has killed more than 1,000 militants since it began in full force earlier this month, the country's interior ministry said Sunday.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

X2 Marks Sikorsky's Spot for ARH

X2 Marks Sikorsky's Spot for ARH: "

Watch out for on-the-spot reporting later from Bettina Chavanne at the Quad-A show, where Sikorsky has taken the wraps off a full-scale mockup of its X2 Technology Light Tactical Helicopter (LTH) concept.

blog post photo
Photo: Sikorsky

A much smaller model of the coaxial-rotor LTH has been making the rounds of the shows for a year or so now, so the mockup's unveiling at the Army Aviation Association of America show is significant. The Army is looking for an armed reconnaissance helicopter to replace the cancelled Bell ARH-70, but says its recent request for information showed nothing was available off the shelf to meet its requirements. So it's gone back to square one and started a new analysis of alternatives.

Sikorsky, meanwhile, says it couldn't'deliver the high-speed X2 LTH before 2017-18, so its strategy seems to be to offer the Army the carrot of a completely new capability - if it can soldier on for a few more years with a combination of Kiowa Warriors, Apaches and unmanned aircraft in the armed scout role. The X2 would bring high speed with helicopter agility and the ability to go from the hover to 250kt and back without any rotary/fixed-wing mode changes.

Sikorsky's X2 Technology demonstrator is due back in the air shortly after the final mods to prepare for high-speed testing - connecting the pusher prop, fairing over the rotor hubs and making the gear retractable. The company expects to'pass its 250kt speed target by year end - which should mean the results will be available in time for consideration by the Army as it analyzes its alternatives.


(Via Ares.)

We Got Hosed, Osama, We Got Hosed!

We Got Hosed, Osama, We Got Hosed!: "

'We can sink a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) at 100 meters,' remarks a representative of a joint program between Raytheon's marine radar unit and Unifire, Sweden-based specialist in firefighting equipment. At the IMDEX maritime defense show in Singapore earlier today, Unifire and Raytheon unveiled their joint approach to non-lethal defense against typical pirate attacks.

The keys are that large ships often already carry water cannon for firefighting and that they are not regarded as weapons - which demand special training and may cause a ship to be restricted in using international commercial ports. Also, in addition to being powerful enough 'to send an 85 kg barrel flying end over end at 75 meters', Unifire's water cannon systems are already equipped with precise, responsive joystick remote control systems so that operators are not exposed on deck.


blog post photo
Bill Sweetman


The system is non-lethal and variable in its effects. With pepper-spray irritant, it is effective out to 200 m. Even if pirates take cover against the water blast at shorter ranges, 5000 liters of water a minute are apt to have a negative effect on a small boat.'

Raytheon's contribution to the defense package is a small-craft tracking system that comprises a special processor linked to the ship's existing navigational radar. A land-based version is already operational in Spain and the Netherlands Antilles, for coastal surveillance against small, fast craft.

The processor sifts through short-range clutter for moving target tracks, using scan-to-scan and multi-hypothesis tracking to even pick up targets that may only appear in one out of three sweeps. A digital camera can be slaved to the radar for positive ID. Unifire has developed a networking system which connects the water cannon to the radar and camera displays.


(Via Ares.)


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