Friday, October 28, 2011

Hunt underway for Libyan weapons stores

A month after U.S. officials told ABC News they were moving quickly to secure unguarded weapons in Libya, human rights investigators have found a huge cache of unprotected weapons, including bombs, tank shells and dozens of surface-to-air missiles, in the city of Sirte.

"Anybody want a surface-to-air missile?" asks Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, in a video shot Sunday in near where Moammar Gadhafi and his son Mutassim made their last stand. Though the U.S. is rushing more and more specialists to Libya in a race to find the massive stores of weapons that have gone missing since the start of the Libyan uprising, Bouckaert beat them to Sirte.

Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro told ABC News that there was "obviously" a race to find the weapons before they fall into the hands of terrorists, "and that's why we're deploying people as quickly as we possibly can." Shapiro said the U.S. plans to increase its presence on the ground from 10 teams of weapons specialists, or less than 35 people total, to 50 teams.

"We believe that based on our examination of the numerous sites that thousands of missiles were actually destroyed during the NATO bombing campaign," said Shapiro, "and [that another] thousand missiles have been disabled or damaged."

Libyans alerted by the U.S. reached the Sirte site found by Human Rights Watch on Thursday, according to Shapiro, and moved the missiles there "to a more secure location." Shapiro denied that the Libyans had gone to the site because ABC News planned to report on it, but said the U.S. had "immediately acted" on information provided by Human Rights Watch. He said it would have been difficult to get to Sirte earlier because there was still fighting in the city last week.

In September, Shapiro said the U.S. was "making great progress" in accounting for the Gadhafi regime's missing munitions, but that the U.S. did not have a clear picture of how many missiles it was attempting to track down. Just last week, during a visit to Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons."

It would take only one of the shoulder-fired, heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, which have a range of two miles, to bring down a commercial aircraft. On Sunday, Bouckaert found dozens of Russian SA-7 missiles scattered across the ground in Sirte, along with empty crates.


US flying drones out of Ethiopia


The US military has begun flying drone aircraft from a base in Ethiopia, as part of its fight against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia.

US officials have confirmed to the BBC that the base, in the southern city of Arba Minch, is now operational.

But they stressed that the remotely-piloted drones were being used only for surveillance, and not for air strikes.

It is part of a growing counter-terrorism presence in the region as the US pursues groups with al-Qaeda links.

The US military has reportedly spent millions of dollars upgrading the remote, civilian airport - from which Reaper drones are now being flown.

The remotely-piloted aircraft can be equipped with missiles and satellite guided bombs.

But officials have told the BBC the drones are flying unarmed because their use is considered sensitive by Ethiopia's government.

Their role is surveillance of the al-Shabab militant group - based in Somalia, and already the focus of drone missions flown from other bases in the region.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

South Korea plans to build own stealth fighter.


For two decades, the U.S. has been at the forefront of stealth fighter technology. The first operational stealth fighter to come from the U.S. was the F-117 Nighthawk, which has been retired. Today, the U.S. Air Force is using the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighters both use second-generation stealth technology.

In Asia, the Chinese are well underway on new stealth fighters, and now the South Koreans are jumping into the mix.

The Korean fighter is called the KF-X and it is a twin-engine fighter that aims to fall between the speed and range of a Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F-15. The Koreans plan to develop the KF-X over the next nine years with a projected budget of $5 billion. That seems like a laughably low budget considering the latest generation U.S. stealth aircraft cost many times that amount to develop.

The goal for mass production is currently set at 2020 for the Korean fighter. South Korea also plans to use new weapons on the KF-X including new variants of the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. Other weapons will include guided bombs and anti-ship missiles.

It's worth noting that Flight Global says the KF-X was previously seen with canard wings, but the version shown at the Seoul Air Show has no canards. South Korean officials are already in talks with Turkey and Indonesia has joined the program.

Images: South Korean KF-X Stealth Fighter [Source: Flight Global]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Most Powerful Nuke Being Dismantled Today

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — The last of the nation's most powerful nuclear bombs — a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.

The final components of the B53 bomb will be broken down today at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the nation's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. The completion of the dismantling program is a year ahead of schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, and aligns with President Barack Obama's goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.
Thomas D'Agostino, the nuclear administration's chief, called the bomb's elimination a "significant milestone."

First put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.

The B53 was designed to destroy facilities deep underground, and it was carried by B-52 bombers.

Since it was made using older technology by engineers who have since retired or died, developing a disassembly process took time. Engineers had to develop complex tools and new procedures to ensure safety.

"We knew going in that this was going to be a challenging project, and we put together an outstanding team with all of our partners to develop a way to achieve this objective safely and efficiently," said John Woolery, the plant's general manager.

Many of the B53s were disassembled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired from the stockpile in 1997. Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how many of the bombs have been disassembled at the Texas plant.

The weapon is considered dismantled when the roughly 300 pounds of high explosives inside are separated from the special nuclear material, known as the pit. The uranium pits from bombs dismantled at Pantex will be stored on an interim basis at the plant, Cunningham said.

The material and components are then processed, which includes sanitizing, recycling and disposal, the National Nuclear Security Administration said last fall when it announced the Texas plant's role in the B53 dismantling.

The plant will play a large role in similar projects as older weapons are retired from the U.S.'s nuclear arsenal.

F-15 crashes in Nevada- pilot ejects safely

ALAMO, Nev. — An Air Force fighter jet crashed in a sparsely populated part of southern Nevada on Monday, but the pilot was able to eject from the aircraft and didn’t suffer any injuries, authorities said.

The F-15C Eagle from Nellis Air Force Base crashed on federal land northwest of Alamo, Nev., said Lt. Ken Lustig, an Air Force spokesman. Alamo is about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said a citizen reported seeing a large explosion and fireball west of U.S. Highway 93 shortly after 4 p.m. Deputies made their way over rough terrain and through a ranch toward the plume of smoke about five miles from the highway, he said.

“It was out in the desert, really hard to get to,” Lee said. When deputies arrived, they found a debris field about 100 yards long.

“It didn’t look like the plane slammed into the ground,” the sheriff said. “There was a lot of the plane left, but it burned up.”

The pilot had started walking and was picked up by a military helicopter about 30 minutes after the crash, Lee said. He was flown to Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital near Las Vegas for an examination that revealed no injuries, Lustig said.

Friday, October 21, 2011

F-22s grounded - again.


All F-22 Raptors at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia have been grounded after a pilot experienced loss of oxygen while flying.

Air Force officials are meeting on Friday to determine whether it is necessary to extend the grounding to the rest of the F-22 fleet. The pilot experienced what is known as "hypoxia," and had to return to base.

America's premier fighter jet has experienced similar problems in the past, though it is not clear what is causing the problem. The Air Force last month brought the jets back into service after a grounding months earlier over oxygen issues.

"There is no conclusive cause or group of causes that has been established for the incidents that prompted the stand down earlier this year," the Air Force said in a statement Friday.
While the Air Force is again using F-22s, the statement said officials are making improvements and pausing when needed.

"Part of our protocol is to allow units to pause operations whenever they need to analyze information collected from flight operations to ensure safety. That is what is happening at Langley at the moment, and we support that decision," the statement said.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Creech drone/NATO jets cornered Gaddafi for rebel forces

Special To The The Telegraph: Nato forces designated Gaddafi as a military target after the former Libyan leader’s forces started firing on civilians as they tried to escape Sirte in a convoy of up to 100 vehicles.

It is understood that RAF Tornados were patrolling over Sirte at the time of the escape attempt but were not directly involved in the operation.

Gaddafi had been under surveillance by Nato forces for the past week after an intelligence breakthrough allowed them to pinpoint his location.

An American drone and an array of Nato eavesdropping aircraft had been trained on his Sirte stronghold to ensure he could not escape.

Intelligence sources have suggested that in his last days Gaddafi broke his rigid rule of telephone silence and was overheard using either a mobile or satellite phone. Voice recognition technology would have instantly picked up any call that he made.

MI6 agents and CIA officers on the ground were also providing intelligence and it is believed that Gaddafi was given a code name in the same way that US forces used the name Geronimo during the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

Since the fall of Tripoli in August, intelligence services have been searching for Gaddafi across Libya and beyond using agents, special forces and eavesdropping equipment.
US and British special forces had trawled through Gaddafi’s former desert stronghold around Sirte and the south of Libya without finding him.

At one point they concluded that he probably had fled the country.
But as the National Transition Council forces increased their stranglehold on Sirte, Gaddafi decided to make a run for it at 8.30 yesterday morning.

Defence sources referred to the move as “tantamount to suicide”.

“US Predators and French drones have been staking out the centre of Sirte for several weeks trying to monitor what’s going on on the battlefield,” said an intelligence source. “They built up a normal pattern of life picture so that when something unusual happened this morning such as a large group of vehicles gathering together, that came across as highly unusual activity and the decision was taken to follow them and prosecute an attack.”

Electronic warfare aircraft, either an American Rivet Joint or a French C160 Gabriel, also picked up Gaddafi’s movements as he attempted to escape

There were no RAF Nimrod R1s to intercept signals intelligence as they had been axed in the middle of the campaign as part of defence cuts.

But a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s were on a “combat reconnaissance” patrol nearby and provided intelligence on vehicle movements.

The Predator drone, flown out of Sicily and controlled via satellite from a base outside Las Vegas, struck the convoy with a number of Hellfire anti-tank missiles. Moments later French jets, most likely Rafales, swept in, targeting the vehicles with 500lb Paveway bombs or highly accurate AASM munitions.

British forces are expected to withdraw from Libya in the coming weeks.
Last night, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It brings much closer the end of the Nato mission.”

US Drone/French fighter helped corner fleeing Muammar Qaddafi

A U.S. Predator drone was involved in the airstrike on Muammar Qaddafi's convoy Thursday in the moments before his death, a U.S. defense official told Fox News.

The official said the drone, along with a French fighter jet, fired on the "large convoy" leaving Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte. A French defense official earlier said about 80 vehicles were in the convoy -- the official said the strike did not destroy the convoy but that fighters on the ground afterward intercepted the vehicle carrying Qaddafi.

He was later killed, reportedly in the crossfire between Qaddafi supporters and opponents as he was being transferred.

Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi was confirmed dead on Thursday, captured near his hometown of Sirte. Here is a look back at how the "king of kings of Africa" came to an end.

President Obama and other officials would not elaborate on the circumstances of Qaddafi's death. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said only that U.S. and NATO actions helped Libyans reach this point.

But as some lawmakers continued to criticize the administration for its handling of the Libya operation, Obama pointed to the end of the Qaddafi regime as the close of a "long and painful chapter" for Libyans and defended the multilateral mission which began in March.

"Today we can definitively say that the Qaddafi regime has come to an end," Obama said. "This is a momentous day in the history of Libya."

Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden, said of Libyans, "You have won your revolution."
Obama said the NATO mission would soon be over; if so, the use of a Predator drone Thursday would mark a fitting end for U.S. involvement.


Breaking: Gaddafi dead ...

Ousted Libya leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been killed, a National Transitional Council official has claimed.

Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters news agency the deposed dictator was wounded.
The senior NTC military official said: "He was captured. He's wounded in both legs ... He's been taken away by ambulance."

It was later reported Gaddafi had died from his injuries.
"He was also hit in his head," the official said. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."

A senior official with Libya's National Transitional Council told Reuters Gaddafi was captured near his hometown of Sirte at dawn as he tried to flee in a convoy that came under attack from NATO warplanes.

A Libyan fighter claimed Gaddafi was hiding in a hole in his hometown of Sirte shouting: "Don't shoot, don't shoot.

Epitaph for a scumbag:

Video showing Gaddafi alive - just after capture:

Breaking: Gadhafi captured?

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Revolutionary fighters have captured deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libyan television said Thursday, citing the Misrata Military Council.

That report, however, could not be independently confirmed.
Horns blared and celebratory gunfire burst into the air in Tripoli.

"It's a great victory for the Libyan people," said Libyan Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam.
Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years. The mercurial leader came to power in a bloodless coup against King Idris in 1969, when he was just an army captain.
By the end of his rule, he claimed to be "King of Kings," a title he had a gathering of tribal leaders grant him in 2008.

But a February uprising evolved into civil war that resulted in ousting the strongman from power.
But whether Thursday turns out to be the biggest day in recent Libyan history was still uncertain. Statements made by representatives of Libya's new leadership in the past have not always turned out to be true.

Many were waiting for photographs as proof of Gadhafi's capture.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unruly passenger disrupts SW flight - diverts to Amarillo

AMARILLO, TEXAS -- Update 5:20pm KVII TV

A man is now in custody after officials said he became unruly and disruptive aboard a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday afternoon.

The plane made an emergency landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport at about 3:30 p.m. It was originally reported by airport officials that the man had attempted to break in to the cockpit. Airport officials have now confirmed to Pronews 7 that he did not try to break in to the cockpit.

"The control tower initially said he was trying to break in," Rhodes said. "I can only assume that's what the aircrew told the tower. We got a report he was trying to break into the cockpit but that is inaccurate to report now."

"At about 3:30 we were notified by the air traffic control tower that a Southwest aircraft was reporting a passenger trying to break in to the cockpit," Rhodes told Pronews 7. "At that point we took appropriate measures and the individual is in custody."

Amarillo Police responded to the airport and took the subject into custody.


UPDATE: Airlines flight 3683 from Los Angeles to Kansas City, officials said.

Ali Reza Shahsauri, 29, was arrested on a charge of interference with a flight crew.

Amarillo police took the man into custody and he is now being questioned by federal authorities, Rhodes said.

No one was injured.

A passenger on the aircraft, Doug Oerding said Shahsauri started screaming obsenities at passengers during the flight.

Attendants attempted to calm Shahsauri and then he went to the restroom at back of plane and started making more commotion, Oerding said.

“All of us guys were looking at him like are we going to have to do something,” Oerding said.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The son of U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki killed in drone strike

(CNN) -- The son of U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki was among those killed in a trio of drone attacks in southern Yemen on Friday night, a security official said.

The attacks, carried out in the Shabwa district, killed seven suspected militants, the defense ministry said. It would not confirm that Abdul Rahman Anwar Awlaki was among them.
The senior security official in Shabwa, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the younger Awlaki had been hiding in the mountains of Shabwa for more than eight months. He had first-hand knowledge of the death, he said.
The Awlaki family did not want to comment.

On September 30, a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born miltant cleric who was a key leader of the terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
President Barack Obama hailed that death as a "major blow" for the terror group.

Friday night's attack also killed Ibrahim al-Banna, the head media officer for AQAP, the Yemeni defense ministry said.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another air show crash - this time China.

(AFP) – 8 hours ago

BEIJING — A fighter jet plunged to the ground and exploded as it took part in an air display at a show in northern China Friday, leaving one pilot missing, organisers and state media said.
China's state-run television CCTV showed images of the Chinese-made plane falling from the sky and bursting into flames when it hit the ground at the show in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province.
"One pilot parachuted out of the plane and is alive, the search for another pilot is ongoing," the China International General Aviation Convention -- organisers of the air show -- told AFP in a statement.

"There were no casualties on the ground."
The organisers did not say what type of fighter plane was involved in the crash. The official Xinhua news agency said it was a two-seat, fighter-bomber Flying Leopard -- or JH-7 -- a model officially launched in December 1988.

But CCTV said it was a Xiaolong ("Fierce Dragon") fighter jet -- or FC-1 -- which is the result of a joint Sino-Pakistani development programme that started in 1999.
"The plane had some malfunction and an investigation team has been sent to the scene," a spokeswoman at the aviation convention held in Xian's Pucheng Neifu airport told AFP earlier.
Xinhua reporters who were at the air display said they saw heavy smoke billowing from the ground after the crash, but added the show was continuing.

According to the People's Daily newspaper, some 100 foreign and domestic planes are being shown at the air show, and around 30 aircraft are putting on displays.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RPG downed Chinook - killed 38 CENTCOM says

(CNN) -- The August downing of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan that killed 38 people, including 17 U.S. Navy SEALs, was caused by a rocket-propelled grenade, fired by insurgents, that struck the aircraft's aft rotor blade, the U.S. Central Command officially confirmed on Wednesday.

An investigation determined that the "operational planning and execution" of the ill-fated August 6 mission in Wardak Province "were consistent with previous missions, and that the forces and capabilities were appropriate given the agility required to maintain pressure on insurgent networks," CENTCOM said in a news release issued Wednesday.

"There was no evidence of a pre-planned ambush," CENTCOM said.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

America to Iran - that was not nice - go to your room!

Washington (CNN) -- With many sanctions already in place, the U.S. government is poised to take an even stronger stance Wednesday against Iran amid allegations that Tehran was behind a plot to assassinate a Saudi envoy on U.S. soil.

A naturalized U.S. citizen holding Iranian and U.S. passports is in custody, and another -- a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard -- is likewise charged in the alleged murder-for-hire scheme targeting Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that elements of Iran's government directed the plan.

The accusations have rankled many throughout Washington.
Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called carrying out such a scheme an "act of war" five times during a five-minute CNN interview.

Iranian amb: Terror plot is 'big lie' Iran diplomat denies terror plot King: Terror plot 'an act of war' Iran, Saudi Arabia tensions escalating
While outlining several other steps that Washington may take, he insisted that no options be ruled out.

"We should not be ... automatically saying we're not going to have military action," King said Tuesday night, saying that this "flagrant and notorious" alleged plot brought already testy relations between the United States and Iran to a "very precipitous level."

"Everything should be left on the table when you are talking about a potential attack (in) the United States, an act of war."

Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations, said Tuesday night that he was "shocked to hear such a big lie."

He said the chain of events outlined by U.S. authorities was an "insult to the common sense" of people everywhere.

A senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday that there has been no change in U.S. military posture in reaction to the alleged terror plot.

No U.S. Navy ships, for example, have been repositioned and there currently are no plans to do so.

"The act is already done," the official said, noting the plot purportedly has been disrupted and calling it "much more of a law enforcement matter" than a military one.
"One of the people involved is still at large, but the other principal is in custody. So what does changing military posture do?"

Already, the U.S. government has numerous sanctions against Iranian interests, amid continuing concerns about Tehran's budding nuclear program and its alleged ties to terrorism.

The focus on this front will be to urge other nations to join Washington and get tougher on Iran, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior diplomatic officials will place calls to foreign leaders and U.N. Security Council representatives, the official said.

That includes reaching out to key figures from countries, such as Russia and China, which have diplomatic relations with both Washington and Tehran.
Senator condemns alleged Iranian plot Rep. Rogers: Terror plot a big deal Iran calls plot 'fabrication' Iran accused in other terror plots.

The United States also plans on getting in touch with leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (a coalition of Persian Gulf nations), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (which consists of 56 Islamic states and promotes Muslim solidarity) and the Arab League, said two Obama administration officials.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for the United States and the world to create pressure (on Iran)," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said on Tuesday. "We have the opportunity to change the dynamics."

The idea is to push others to enforce existing sanctions, implement new ones, cut ties with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard and generally join the United States in a "chorus of international condemnation," according to the State Department official.
"(They'll) go to other countries and say this is a serious escalation of Iran's use of political violence," a senior Obama administration official added.
If there is an international debate, Iran fired its first salvo Tuesday night. Khazaee wrote U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "express our outrage" over what he called "fabricated and baseless allegations."

"As the Secretary-General of the United Nations you have an important responsibility in enlightening the international public opinion about the dangerous consequences of warmongering policies of the United States government on international peace and security," the Iranian envoy wrote.

Yet such rhetoric has not appeared to have much of an impact, as of yet, in Washington, with politicians from both major parties insisting that the entire Iranian government be held responsible.

Monday, October 10, 2011

al Qaeda - blah -blah - revenge - blah -blah - Al-Awlaki so on and so forth.

This story brought to you by SEAL TEAM SIX.

CNN) -- The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has confirmed the death of U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, calling him a martyr, according to a statement posted Sunday on jihadi internet forums.

Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, but American officials said internet postings following his death indicated many who share his ideas did not believe he had been killed and were seeking confirmation.

Another American named Samir Khan and two other people also died, officials said. Khan was the co-editor of the terrorist network's English-language online propaganda and recruiting magazine, Inspire.

The AQAP "eulogy" states that while the United States killed al-Awlaki, it "cannot kill his ideas," according to an English translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi forums.

The statement also picks up on a theme being discussed in the United States: whether the United States had the right to target and kill al-Awlaki without a legal trial and guilty verdict. The controversy is complicated by the fact al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen.

The message said the United States killed al-Awlaki and Khan but "did not prove the accusation against them, and did not present evidence against them." The statement claims such actions go against the values the U.S. espouses.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the Justice Department prepared legal guidance in the summer of 2010 which said the United States could kill al-Awlaki if it was not possible to capture him.

In Sunday's message, AQAP also promised to "retaliate soon" for the deaths of al-Awlaki and the three others. The U.S. issued a worldwide alert earlier this month warning of "the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests" following al-Awlaki's killing.

Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, al-Awlaki lived in the United States until the age of 7, when his family returned to Yemen. He returned to the United States in 1991 for college and remained until 2002.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Huge flying egg - is super spy drone blimp


That teeny-weeny, toy-looking thing to the left? An 18-wheeler truck. The giant egg to the right? The biggest spy drone anyone has ever made.

The optionally manned airship — known by the cumbersome code name of “Blue Devil Block 2” — was first inflated with air in early September. Last week, at a hangar in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the blimp was filled with helium, and began to float.

By the middle of next year, the Air Force hopes, the airship will be hovering in the skies over Afghanistan, where it will use a supercomputer and a pile of surveillance gear to look down on the battlefield — 36 square miles at a time.

“It could change the nature of overhead surveillance,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former Air Force intelligence chief now in charge of Mav 6, the company building the blimp.

If the thing works as planned, it’ll park itself in the air for five days at a time, at a height of 20,000 feet or more. Wide-area cameras and advanced eavesdropping gear will be able to watch (and listen) to militant suspects for miles around. Information on their location will be beamed down to U.S. forces with a laser. Like everything else in this project, that laser will be gigantic.


Computer virus infects military drones

A fleet of U.S. military drones on a Nevada Air Force base has been infected by a keylogger virus that tracks every key and button their pilots press, reported Friday -- and top Air Force sources strongly contested.

The virus was first noticed by officials at Creech Air Force Base nearly two weeks ago using the base's security system. It logged every keystroke of the pilots in the control room on the base as they remotely flew Predator and Reaper drones on missions over Afghanistan and other battle zones.

There has been no confirmation of information being lost or sent to an outside source, but the virus has been resistant to military efforts to clear it from the system.

"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," a source told Wired.
It's not immediately clear whether the virus hit the system intentionally or by accident. But the existence of ordinary-seeming computer viruses on what should be the most extraordinarily secure of military systems is far from shocking, said Anup Ghosh, a former scientist with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and chief scientist with security company Invincea.
They're just computers, after all.

"[The drones] are controlled by standard PCs," Ghosh told "None of this should be surprising." The system should be replaced or "re-imaged" with a virus-free, bit-for-bit copy of the data on the drive in order to get rid of the infection, he said..

"If they are connected to a larger network they will be infected again," he said.
A senior Air Force source with knowledge of the drone program and familiar with the virus that was caught in recent weeks told that Wired's story is "blown out of proportion" and "vastly overwritten."

"The planes were never in any jeopardy of 'going stupid'," the source said, and the virus "is not affecting operations in any way ... it showed up on a Microsoft-based Windows system. We have a closed-loop system and heavily protected cockpits -- the planes were never in jeopardy."
The virus was introduced when the Air Force was transferring data maps between systems using external hard drives, he said. Very quickly the Air Force protective network tracked the virus.
"The system worked," the Air Force official said.

In the last 12 hours the Air Force ran some clearing software to make sure the viral agents weren't lying dormant in the system. They found some non-descript viral agents at what was described as a "third- or fourth-level function" and dealt with them.

The U.S. military has increasingly been relying upon drones to conduct surveillance and air strikes on enemy targets. The Air force currently uses 150 MQ1 Predator drones and 50 MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Drone planes similar to the ones infected were recently used in a CIA-directed strike against American-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen on September 30.
This is not the first time that U.S. drones have been infected. In 2009, U.S. troops discovered drone footage on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents. The insurgents had stolen the video with easy to access software that cost $26, Wired reported.

In the fall of 2008, a cyberworm inched its way through military networks as well. The effort to erase it was dubbed Operation Buckshot Yankee.

"It may have to be determined if this new threat was an original attack or a residual from Buckshot Yankee," Ghosh told

Read more HERE

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is this the prototype for the stealth helicopter that was used in the bin Laden raid?

Recently I was sent a photo of a pole-model of a "stealth helicopter" being tested at a radar cross section facility known as RATSCAT/RAMS located in the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Could this be a prototypical test-shape that lead to the "stealth blackhawk" used in the bin Laden raid or is it something else in the works or (maybe) a vintage photo of an early low RCS helicopter UAV concept?

Unlike the tail section left behind in the bin Laden raid - this one looks more like a NOTAR design. However, it's an educated guess the radar data collected from this model may have lead to the design of the Stealth Blackhawk.

Info sought - please e-mail the author at

-Steve Douglass

This just in:

Hi Steve & folks,
That picture shows a RCS modell for the Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft (UCAR) program. It seems to be from Lockheed Martin.
The program was cut abruptly in late 2004.

Pictures and Source:,1966.0/all.html

IMHO, maybe it became a black program and some parts like the rotor might used for the "MH-60? Silent Hawk" ;) !

Have a nice weekend! :)

Member at Secret Projects Forum

The real Star Chamber? Secret panel decides which terrorist dies.

(Reuters) - American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.

Current and former officials said that to the best of their knowledge, Awlaki, who the White House said was a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, had been the only American put on a government list targeting people for capture or death due to their alleged involvement with militants.

The White House is portraying the killing of Awlaki as a demonstration of President Barack Obama's toughness toward militants who threaten the United States. But the process that led to Awlaki's killing has drawn fierce criticism from both the political left and right.

In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush's expansive use of executive power in his "war on terrorism," is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics. They include secret legal justifications and undisclosed intelligence assessments.

Liberals criticized the drone attack on an American citizen as extra-judicial murder.

Conservatives criticized Obama for refusing to release a Justice Department legal opinion that reportedly justified killing Awlaki. They accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques many equate with torture, but refused to make public its rationale for killing a citizen without due process.

Some details about how the administration went about targeting Awlaki emerged on Tuesday when the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, was asked by reporters about the killing.

The process involves "going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law," Ruppersberger said.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making the unmanned X-37B mini space shuttle - manned?

LOS ANGELES AVWK — Boeing is studying scaled-up variants of the reusable X-37B orbital test vehicle (OTV) for potential delivery of cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS) and other low-Earth-orbit destinations.

The development plan is believed to be aimed at providing a larger cargo adjunct to the company’s CST-100 crew vehicle as well as a possible longer-term, crew-carrying successor. The plan builds on the ongoing OTV demonstration with the U.S. Air Force, the first phase of which ended when the classified, unmanned OTV-1 demonstration flight concluded in December 2010 with an autonomous landing at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., following 244 days in orbit. A second mission, OTV-2, is under way.

OTV-2 has been in space since March 5, and assuming it has not already been covertly recovered, is expected to remain in space until at least mid-October. A landing around Oct. 15 will equal the OTV-1’s mission length. Given the 270-day mission endurance limit of the X-37B, as earlier described by the Air Force, the early March launch means the landing at Vandenberg can be expected on or before Nov. 30.

The X-37B evolution study, which harks back to the pre-military NASA origins of the OTV, envisages a three-phase buildup. The first would see the current 29-ft.-long vehicle used for demonstration flights to the ISS. In its current configuration, the X-37B launched inside the 5-meter (16.5-ft.) fairing of the Atlas V could already take bulky items such as the station’s control moment gyros, battery discharge and pump module, Boeing says.

The second phase would see the development of a 165% scaled-up version, roughly 47 ft. long and large enough to transport larger line replaceable units (LRUs) to the station. The larger version would demonstrate operations to and from the ISS, paving the way for a human-carrying derivative in the third phase. This would see a human-rated version transport “five to seven astronauts,” says Art Grantz, Boeing’s X-37B project chief.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dismantling the Haqqani network: Dilawar smote!

(CNN) -- A week after the senior Haqqani network leader in Afghanistan was captured, a coalition airstrike killed one of his associates, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said on Wednesday.

Dilawar, known by one name, died in the Musa Khel district of eastern Afghanistan's Khost province on Tuesday in what ISAF called "another significant milestone in the disruption of the Haqqani network." Two other militants were killed in what was an Afghan-coalition operation, ISAF said.

Dilawar was a "senior Haqqani leader" and "a principal subordinate" to Haji Mali Khan, whose capture in Paktia province last Tuesday was hailed as a blow against the network, widely regarded as one of the most effective militant groups in Afghanistan.

Western officials believe the Haqqanis were involved in the assassination last month of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, and a June attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.

Dilawar planned attacks with Mali Khan, including an ambush on Afghan forces in Paktia last month.

"Dilawar operated along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, between the Khost and Paktia provinces, where he actively coordinated numerous attacks against Afghan forces and facilitated the movement of weapons. Dilawar also facilitated the movement of foreign fighters and was associated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," ISAF said.

ISAF said security forces have conducted more than 530 operations this year "to disrupt Haqqani network activities in eastern Afghanistan. It said the effort led to the deaths of 20 network leaders and the capture of more than 1,400 suspected Haqqani insurgents. Around 1,400 suspected Haqqani insurgents had been captured this year, 100 since the start of October alone, and 20 network leaders killed, NATO said.

The Haqqani network is one of three Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting in Afghanistan and perhaps the most feared -- they are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to the country and be behind many high-profile attacks.

They have sworn allegiance to the Taliban, but have long been suspected of also having ties to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate.

The outgoing chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, testified before the U.S. Senate after an attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul believed to be the work of the group, that the Haqqani network was a "veritable arm" of the ISI.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the group, says it no longer needs sanctuaries in Pakistan and it feels safe operating in Afghanistan.Around 1,400 suspected Haqqani insurgents had been captured this year, 100 since the start of October alone, and 20 network leaders killed, NATO said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Freaky "Alpha Dog" may some day accompany troops in to battle scare crap out of the enemy.

Some dog owners spend years grooming their pups into strong, obedient alpha dogs. But scientists? They just build them.

A group of military-funded scientists from Boston has invented a dog-like robot, that can carry over 400 pounds on its back for 20 miles and on any sort of terrain. It uses computer vision and GPS to follow a leader, rather than require a remote-controlled driver to tell it where to go.

Nicknamed "AlphaDog," the prototype is the latest from the minds behind a four-year undertaking called BigDog, that's being developed by Boston Dynamics and funded by DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps. AlphaDog is officially called "LS3," or the Legged Squad Support System.

Check out a video demo below. As you can see, AlphaDog can walk and trot over sharp rocks, albeit rather slowly. Escapist Magazine says it will take the robot 24 hours to cover 20 miles, though no re-fueling is needed. Clearly AlphaDog is designed more for walking alongside troops rather than outpacing anyone.

The video also shows two grown men pushing AlphaDog off its course, and once it does, the robot immediately resumes its original path. It can even get up after being knocked down. Pretty cool stuff.

LS3 is scheduled for a "walk out" in 2012.

Boston Dynamics is also making robotic bugs that can squeeze through cracks, a reptilian robot that can scale walls and trees, and an anthropomorphic robot that will be used to test chemical protection clothing worn by the U.S. Army.


Small Texas helicopter company wins study project for UH-60 follow-on.

Is this the next Blackhawk?

AVX Aircraft Company has been awarded a contract by the US Army to conduct Configuration Trades Analysis (CTA) studies for the Joint Multi Role helicopter program.

The approximately $4 million contract, awarded by the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate of The Research, Development and Engineering Command located in Fort Eustis, Virginia, calls for AVX Aircraft Company to conduct studies that define an objective aircraft that represents an affordable, technically feasible aircraft design that meets a provided set of performance attributes.

According to AVXs' web site: "AVX Technology can be used to modify existing fleets of helicopters at a very low cost, and can be used to design and manufacture completely new helicopters. In both cases, AVX Technology combines proven technologies to achieve greater aerodynamic efficiency, speed, range, fuel efficiency, HOGE, utility and the ability to operate at higher altitudes and in hotter temperatures than conventional helicopters.

The key technical features of the configuration are Counter Rotating Coaxial Rotors and Dual Ducted Fans. AVX is working on several new aircraft programs including the U.S. Army Joint Multi Role helicopter under a CTA contract with the U.S. Army."

Jetman flying in formation!

Electric plane wins NASA prize

A Pennsylvania company has won a $1.35 million prize from NASA for developing a highly efficient airplane power by electricity. of State College earned the top prize in the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, NASA announced Monday.

The plane developed by Pipistrel doubled the fuel efficiency requirement for the competition – flying 200 miles in less than two hours while using less than a gallon of fuel per occupant or the equivalent in electricity. The winning plane used a little more than a half-gallon of fuel per passenger for the 200-mile flight.

Team was one of 14 entrants in the competition, which began two years ago. In total, the 14 teams invested $4 million in the competition, according to NASA.

"Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team, said in statement. "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."

Second place, and a $120,000 prize, went to Team eGenius of Ramona, California, whose leader, Eric Raymond, congratulated Team Pipistrel.

The winning aircraft, the Pipistrel Taurus G4, is a four-seat, twin-fuselage aircraft powered by a 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor driving a two-blade propeller mounted on a spar between the fuselages. The plane's wingspan is about 75 feet.

"I'm proud that Pipistrel won. They've been a leader in getting these things into production, and the team really deserves it, and worked hard to win this prize," Raymond said in a NASA statement.


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