Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Atta boy Chuck! : Yeager named to California Hall of Fame

Yeager named to California Hall of Fame: "SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager, who served in World War II and went on to be the first pilot to break the speed of sound, will be among the newest inductees to the California Hall of Fame.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California first lady Maria Shriver unveiled the list of 2009 inductees on Tuesday. They said the latest 13 ‘embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history.’The others are ‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas, feisty football commentator John Madden, entertainer Carol Burnett, former Intel chief executive Andrew Grove, former Gov. Hiram Johnson, decathlete and philanthropist Rafer Johnson, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, philanthropist and peace activist Joan Kroc, artist Fritz Scholder, author Danielle Steel, bodybuilder and Schwarzenegger mentor Joe Weider, and slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk.The nominees will be inducted in a Dec. 1 ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento. Shriver started the program to honor artists, sports figures and others who’ve helped shape the state."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Ask A Spy: Talking About Sports

Better Luck Tomorrow

Better Luck Tomorrow: "

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - A sudden and unexpected onset of bad weather over Launch Complex 39A here caused NASA to scrub its first attempt to launch space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-128 to the International Space Station.

Although forecasts originally called for an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for launch, the situation rapidly deteriorated as the scheduled 1:36 a.m. EDT Aug. 25 liftoff time neared. A storm cell cropped up directly over the launch site, pouring rain on the orbiter and creating lightning strikes within five nautical miles of the pad.

Numerous weather constraints were violated concerning cloud cover, lightning potential and flight-through-precipitation. Some of those constraints were lifted shortly before the launch window, but conditions didn’t improve in time to allow a flight.

The shuttle team will try to launch Discovery again early Wednesday morning, at 1:10:22 a.m. EDT, when forecasters estimate a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions for liftoff. If that attempt also is scrubbed, the team will stand down for 24 hours before trying again.

There were no major technical problems with Discovery that would have precluded a launch. The Final Inspection Team expressed brief concern about an ice formation about 4.5 inches long on the liquid hydrogen T-zero umbilical, but it was determined not to be a problem.


(Via On Space.)

U.S. Researchers: Russian Military ''Plagued''

U.S. Researchers: Russian Military ''Plagued'': "Russian media and military leaders are widely lamenting the state of military following last years' Georgia invasion"

(Via AviationWeek.com Defense Channel.)

Stealthy Sukhois

Stealthy Sukhois: "

Talking about stealth in relation to the Sukhoi Su-27 and its extended family, including the new Su-35S, tends to cause people to fall over in fits of mirth. Like Chandler's Moose Malloy, the basic airplane looks about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.

But just about six years ago, in late 2003, Defense IQ managed to persuade a team from the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Electromagnetics (ITAE), part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to present at a conference on stealth in London. I was a presenter - I don't recall any other journalists being present. It sounded as if the paper was going to be some kind of theoretical snorefest and I didn't expect much from it.

I was wrong. 

The ITAE researchers produced a highly detailed paper showing how the institute had developed radar cross-section (RCS) prediction software, test facilities for measuring the RCS of real aircraft, and a variety of RCS-reduction materials, all with the Su-27 family as the main application. One illustration showed an RCS test on Bort (fuselage number) 708, one of the Su-27M prototypes that were precursors to the Su-35S:


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The invaluable Flateric has recently posted my full account here, together with some artwork from the paper. (Ignore the comments from the f-16.net F-35 fans, who have a hard time with words of more than two syllables.) 

According to the paper, the ITAE researchers had found materials that solved the dominant problem in the Sukhoi design:  straight-through inlets to the compressor face, with no line-of-sight blockage. Rather than placing an absorber-treated blocker in front of the engine, as on the Super Hornet, ITAE developed a radar absorbent material (RAM) that could be applied to the first-stage compressor blades. The rest of the RAM suite included a metallic treated canopy and sprayed-on RAM coatings on the missiles. 

ITAE had also experimented with a plasma screen in front of the radar antenna. Details were few - it was possible that it was contained in some kind of dielectric plastic envelope - but it could be switched on and off in tens of microseconds, so that it could be turned off when the radar needed to operate and turned on at other times. Along with RCS-reduction treatments for the exhaust, it seemed less mature than the rest of the technology. 

One year later, the same presenter appeared at IQPCs conference. I asked him if any production aircraft had been modified, and he responded that 'about 100' Sukhois had received RCS-reduction mods. 

Of course, this by no means will render a Sukhoi invisible - and similar measures have been implemented on many aircraft, including F-16s (Have Glass I and II), the Super Hornet and new European fighters. But when you consider that the most recent versions carry a very serious jamming suite, the complexion of the issue changes.

Jamming and RCS reduction are highly synergistic. The 'burn-through' range - the point at which none of my jamming works because the jammer power is less than the scatter from the target - goes down much more quickly with lower RCS than the detection range.

Yes, there are 'home-on-jam' technologies that can be applied to missiles - but if the missiles computer has to match its wits with the agility of the jammer, its a more dicey proposition. New jammers with solid state directional transmitters and digital RF memory (DRFM), which allows you to parrot the incoming signal back in a nanosecond, can give anyone a hard time. 


(Via Ares.)

Su-35S Updated

Su-35S Updated: "

One reason that JSF fans react to Carlo Kopp and his merry band at Air Power Australia the way liberals react to Sarah Palin is that their open-source work on Russian systems is second to none. So this updated page on the Su-35S is worth a look.

APA compares the Su-35S upgrade process to the move from the F-15C/D to the F-15E, but I would say that this 'deep modernization' goes further than that. You almost have to look back to the 1950s and the creation of the B-52G/H and the General Dynamics F-106A. With new engines, new avionics and a fundamentally different flight control system, the Su-35S shares only a proven aerodynamic and structural shape with the earlier Su designs.


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You have to like that camouflage scheme, too, which is reminiscent of the 'dazzle' schemes applied to ships in 1914-18. Its monochrome because we dont see in color at long ranges;  it varies in shade so that parts of the aircraft will tend to merge into the background in almost any conditions, even against the ground;  and the random shapes will make it quite difficult to get an instant read on the jets attitude. This, by the way, is the second prototype, not yet equipped with the production types big wingtip ECM pods.

Also noteworthy - the newer video on the APA site continues to show the use of a long-range missile to target AWACS - and by extension other slow, vulnerable but essential aircraft like tankers or Global Hawks. It's not an in-service weapon - but neither is it that difficult to produce and it could introduce some hellishly complicated challenges into the combined campaign.


(Via Ares.)

Things To Come, Likely.

Things To Come, Likely.: "

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Weapon mock-ups loaded on the second Sukhoi Su-35 prototype on display at MAKS 2009 give an indication of the future air-to-surface weapons the aircraft could carry in Russian service.

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The aircraft, side number 902, was shown with fitted a variant of the Kh-38M family  (above, intake weapon station) of air-to-surface missiles being developed by Tactical Missile Corp. It was also carrying a Kh-35UE (below) extended range development of the Kh-35 (AS-20 Kayak) anti-ship missile.

The Kh-35UE is fitted with a new engine, smaller in length than the original turbojet, providing additional fuel space. The intake design has also been revised. The maximum range is extended to 260km (162.5 miles). The weapon is also claimed to be fitted with a dual mode seeker, providing both active-radar guidance and passive homing.

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The weapons package for the Su-35S for the Russian air force has yet to be concluded, but air force and industry officials suggest this is anticipated relatively soon. Both suggest the contract will include 'new' missile types.

Pictures Credit D.Barrie/AW&ST


(Via Ares.)

Young Gitmo prisoner back in Afghanistan

Young Gitmo prisoner back in Afghanistan: "SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Guantanamo prisoner once charged with wounding two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter was back home in Afghanistan on Monday, months after a war crimes case against him unraveled when a military judge ruled his confession was coerced.Mohammed Jawad, one of the youngest people held at Guantanamo, was flown from the U.S. base in Cuba over the weekend and released to his family by Afghan authorities, said Air Force Maj. David Frakt, one of the military lawyers appointed by the Pentagon to defend the prisoner.Frakt told The Associated Press that Jawad, now about 21, hopes to go to school and ‘make up for lost time’ after nearly seven years in custody.The U.S. Department of Justice later issued a statement confirming the release, which was ordered by a federal judge in July.Justice Department officials have said the criminal investigation of Jawad is still open, but his transfer back to Afghanistan makes prosecution increasingly unlikely. The judge who ordered him released said the government’s case was an ‘outrage’ and ‘full of holes.’Attempted murder chargeJawad had been charged with attempted murder before the special military tribunals at Guantanamo, accused of throwing a grenade into a jeep carrying the two U.S. Special Forces soldiers and their interpreter in Kabul in December 2002. The wounded soldiers had dozens of operations, and the interpreter lost sight in one eye as a result of the attack, authorities have said.The case was first complicated by doubts about Jawad’s age. His attorneys say family accounts suggest he was about 12 when he was arrested. The Pentagon said a bone scan shows Jawad was about 17.Last October, a military judge at Guantanamo threw out a confession by Jawad following his arrest. The judge found that Jawad initially denied throwing the grenade and only said he had done it after Afghan authorities threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t confess.U.S. authorities said they would pursue a criminal investigation of Jawad but U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled in July that he was being held illegally and must be released.There are more than 200 prisoners at Guantanamo, which President Barack Obama has pledged to close in January."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)


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