Friday, November 13, 2009

Record-setting C-5 flight now official

Record-setting C-5 flight now official: "The U.S. National Aeronautic Association has given its approval to 41 world records set by a C-5M Super Galaxy cargo plane in a Sept. 13 flight from Dover Air Force Base, Del.The roughly 400,000-pound aircraft hauled a 178,000-pound payload and another 75,000 pounds of fuel to an altitude of nearly 40,000 feet in less than 28 minutes.The flight broke eight ‘time to climb’ records at each of four altitudes — 3,000, 6,000, 9,000, and 12,000 meters — achieved payload records for seven altitudes, broke a record for horizontal flight at the highest altitude, and another for heaviest payload at an altitude of 2,000 meters.The aeronautic association certified all 41 of the records Oct. 30. The data have now been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for consideration for approval as world records."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Accused 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed faces New York trial

Washington (CNN) -- Five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, including accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be transferred to New York to go on trial in civilian court, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will all be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York -- a short distance from the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September 11th will finally face justice," Holder said.
He said he expected all five to be tried together and for prosecutors to seek the death penalty. The trial would be open to the public, although some portions that deal with classified information may be closed, Holder said.
"Based on all of my experience and based on all of the recommendations and the great work and the research that has been done, I am quite confident that the outcomes in these cases will be successful," he said.

He also expressed confidence that an impartial jury would be found "to ensure a fair trial in New York."
Of the 2,752 people killed in the 9/11 attacks, 2,606 died when terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers.

Holder also announced that five other detainees held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be sent to military commissions for trial. They were identified as Omar Khadr, Mohammed Kamin, Ibrahim al Qosi, Noor Uthman Muhammed and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Al-Nashiri is an accused mastermind of the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole; Khadr is a Canadian charged with the 2002 murder of a U.S. military officer in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured in July 2002.
Holder said a venue for the military commissions has not been set.
Mohammed "will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice," President Obama said Friday in Japan.
Video: 9/11 suspect on trial Video: 9/11 plotters to face justice

"The American people insist on it, and my administration will insist on it," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Mohammed is the confessed organizer of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon. But his confession could be called into question during trial. A 2005 Justice Department memo -- released by the Obama administration -- revealed he had been waterboarded 183 times in March 2003.

The CIA has also admitted using waterboarding on al-Nashiri, the first person charged in the United States for the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 U.S. sailors.
Obama has called the technique, which simulates drowning, torture.
The alleged 9/11 conspirators are among 215 men held by the U.S. military at the Guantanamo prison camp. The Obama administration has vowed to close the detention facility but acknowledges it is unlikely to happen by its self-imposed January 22, 2010, deadline.

Bringing some of the world's top terror suspects to be tried in New York has already sparked outrage, as well as security concerns.

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the most wanted terrorist in the world. Everyone in the world is going to know precisely where he is at precisely one time," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "The Foley courthouse could become the focus of a great deal of interest from terrorists. That's going to take a tremendous security effort."

‘Shut up,’ Gates tells DoD leakers

‘Shut up,’ Gates tells DoD leakers: "ABOARD THE DEFENSE SECRETARY’S PLANE — In very blunt language, a visibly irritated Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that he is ‘appalled by the amount of’ information government officials have leaked to the press during the president’s Afghanistan strategy review.

Talking with reporters aboard his jet en route to a military vehicle factory in Wisconsin, the secretary said such disclosures of sensitive information on any ‘options under consideration’ does not serve the nation well. Nor are they in the military’s strategic interests, he added.If Gates learns of any Defense Department employees who have leaked information about the war strategy review, he warned, ‘That would probably be a career ender.’He showed the same irritation over leaks about the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings.

All individuals involved in or privy to the ongoing investigation into the killing spree ‘should just shut up,’ Gates told reporters.Leakers need to realize they only have ‘one piece’ of the picture about why 13 soldiers were killed and dozens more were wounded last week.He said it is best to let investigators handling the mass murder probe and collect all possible data before reaching conclusions about the alleged shooter’s intentions, motivations or associations."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

U.S. F-22s versus Chinese F-35s

U.S. F-22s versus Chinese F-35s: "A new Chinese fighter with stealth and supercruise is in development and may soon make its first flight with predictions of operational fielding by 2017-19, says PLA Air Force deputy chief, Gen. He Weirong.

The new Chinese fighter aircraft could come from Avic Defense’s Chengdu facility, which developed China’s latest J-10 fighter, or from Shenyang.

He says the PLAAF will emphasize development of  reconnaissance/early warning; strike; strategic airlift, and air and missile defense. The J-10 began large-scale service in 2006.

While replicating the F-22 seems unlikely, aerospace officials with insight into the stealth fighter programs contend that building an F-35-like aircraft (with larger signature and less aerodynamic performance than the F-22) could be a threat to the U.S. if they are built in large numbers.

‘Even 4th generation fighters, when pitted in large numbers against 187 F-22s, will eventually wear [the stealth fighters] down,’ an aerospace industry official says.

‘They only carry eight air-to-air missiles. They don’t have to match Raptor capabilities if they build an advanced fighter in F-35 numbers.’

But many remain unconvinced about China’s timelines for an advanced design.

‘But we’ve yet to see a real organic design [emerge] from China. So far they’ve leveraged Russian or Israeli technology. They don’t have a lot of radar engineering capability, nor experience in integrating a complete structure.’

Those are two big obstacles.

‘You can paste on some [signature-lowering] capabilities but changing a very large target to a large target doesn’t buy you too much operational advantage,’ the Air Force official says. ‘You need very small stealth signature numbers.’

The F-22 met a -40dBsm all-aspect requirement while the F-35 came in at -30dBsm with some gaps in coverage.

‘You need a combination of the right shape, structural design, surface coatings, aerodynamic performance and flight control system designs,’ the Air Force official says.

‘It’s not magic, but there’s still a lot of art in it.’

The idea that the J-10 will serve as a technological springboard is considered unlikely.

‘I believe the Chinese have a difficult road if their design is tied to the J-10,’ he says. ‘As you know, significantly reduced signature requires more then coatings.  The J-10 has many features which may produce the desired aerodynamic effects but would be a negative for signature reduction. I am sure they can somewhat reduce the signature with a few design tweaks and coatings but the operational relevance would be questionable.

‘They can certainly refine their composite structure competency – Boeing’s been helping them with that through the commercial airliner programs
and basic [stealth] coatings are widely known and available,’ the Air Force official says. ‘The milestone will be when we see more refined shaping.’

(Via Ares.)

Whistle Blown On F-22's Stealth

Whistle Blown On F-22's Stealth: " An employee fired by Lockheed Martin in 1999 has filed a whistle-blower suit claiming that the company had troubles with its F-22 Raptor stealth coatings and resorted to adding 100s of pounds of additional material to reach the U.S. Air Force’s signature standards.

The suit asks for government reimbursement of $50 million for each of the 283 aircraft built.

A stealth signature engineer, Darrol Olsen, claims the company falsely certified the effectiveness of coatings from Sept. 1995 to June 1999, says the Associated Press. The suit was filed in Calif. during 2007.

It was transferred to federal court in Atlanta early this month.

‘During the early production lots, Lockheed Martin had difficulty with the coating and the robotic application system,’ says a senior U.S. Air Force official who had insight into and involvement with the program during that period. He told Aviation Week that, ‘The robotics applied the coatings that weren’t adhering the way that was expected. And they had to refine the robotics to apply even coatings.’

Part of the suit is a claim that the company added more than 600 pounds in extra layers of coatings to meet stealth minimums.

The layers, according to the suit, were needed because the coatings rubbed off when exposed to various materials including water.

‘While I have never heard the 600-lb. number, I know it took them several lots to work out the process,’ the Air Force official says. ‘But you can’t put 600 lb. in excess weight on an F-22 without dramatic effects on performance. That doesn’t ring true. Nor does adding even a foot of additional coatings fix a bad signature. There must be more to the story.’

As to the F-22’s anti-radar capabilities, ‘I have not heard of any lot specific signature maintenance problems, and the signature is good,’ the Air Force official says.

Early requirements for the fighter were listed as -40dBsm in a rough doughnut shape laterally around the aircraft.

(Via Ares.)

U.S. alert over German al Qaeda threat

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. officials extended a travel alert in Germany and urged Americans to remain wary after terrorist organization al Qaeda posted messages in recent months threatening attacks in the country.

The alert issued Thursday will remain in effect until February 10. It replaces one issued in September that expired Wednesday, a news statement said.

It urged Americans in Germany to keep up with news reports and to consider the security procedures in place when they visit hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment and recreation venues.
"Over the past few months, al Qaeda has released videos threatening to conduct terrorist attacks against German interests," the statement said. "While these threats initially mentioned the German federal elections in September, al Qaeda continues to threaten Germany."

Germany is investigating all threats, the U.S. State Department said.
The German interior ministry said in September that it had noted an increase in threats by al Qaeda and other Islamist groups since the beginning of the year.

Al Qaeda posted a video threat online on September 18, vowing attacks if federal elections in Germany on September 27 didn't go its way.

The speaker in the video repeatedly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- who was re-elected -- and her support of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.



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