Thursday, April 12, 2012
By EVAN RAMSTAD WSJ
SEOUL—North Korea launched a multistage rocket Friday morning, again defying countries that want it to stop pursuing advanced weapons, but it reportedly blew up less than two minutes into flight and parts crashed in the Yellow Sea off South Korea.
The rocket took off around 7:39 a.m. local time from a new launch facility in the country's northwest corner and flew south towards Japan's Ryuku Islands, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
About 90 seconds into flight, roughly the time its first stage should have burned out and second stage kicked in, the rocket flared brightly and apparently exploded, according to ABC News, which cited U.S. defense officials. Parts fell into water near South Korea's Jeju Island, South Korean media reported.
A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said the rocket "seems to have fallen apart" minutes after launch.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:03 PM
By NBC News and msnbc.com staff
PYONGYANG, North Korea -- North Korea launched a long-range rocket early Friday, U.S. officials confirmed.
The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.
The launch, which North Korea's neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, will take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.
Regional powers also worry it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, a pattern the hermit state set in 2009.
The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket around Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. and the success of the launch was being tracked by the joint military of South Korea and United States.
UPDATE: BEIJING -- North Korea launched a three-stage rocket from a missile base near the west coast city of Sinuiju today, claiming that it was carrying a weather satellite of purely civilian use.
Its projected trajectory was almost due south on a course 150 miles east of Shanghai. The second stage of the rock was to splash down east of the Philippines, which prompted Manila to cancel northbound flights as a precaution.
Initial network news reports said the rocket failed during flight.
The rocket, named Unha-3 and emblazoned with a North Korean flag, was based on the same technology as the long-range Taepodong missile that the country is developing, which has triggered accusations that North Korea is actually conducting a weapons test.
Since 1998, Pyongyang has conducted three previous long-range launches but has not succeeded in sending a satellite into orbit, although it has claimed otherwise.
Today’s launch will be closely analyzed to determine how far North Korea has advanced its technological prowess.
"If they actually are successful, they can in theory deliver a weapon with a range sufficient to reach the United States," said Scott Snyder, an analyst from the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.
The launch occurred despite warnings from the United States, as well as China and Russia.
“We don't really care about the opinions from the outside. This is critical in order to develop our national economy,” Paek Chang Ho, head of the satellite control center at the Korean Committee for Space Technology, had told reporters who were invited to North Korea for the occasion.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 4:24 PM
A loud bang which sparked a deluge of calls to emergency services across a large part of England was a sonic boom from a Typhoon aircraft, the MoD said.
Mystified residents across the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire reported hearing a loud boom at about 18:10 BST.
The MoD revealed it was from a Typhoon responding to an emergency call.
A Coventry resident said: "I thought somebody had thrown a brick through the window."
A sonic boom is created as an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, causing a high-energy shockwave.
The Ministry of Defence initially said it was investigating what was behind the loud noise, but a spokesman later confirmed it was from one of two RAF Typhoons that had been launched following an emergency call from a helicopter.
The MoD said the Typhoons, from the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA), based at RAF Conningsby in Lincolnshire, were scrambled and authorised to go supersonic after the small civilian helicopter had emitted an emergency signal.
It said the aircraft were already on their way to the helicopter by the time the helicopter pilot realised he was transmitting on the wrong frequency and switched to the correct one.
"There was no actual threat to the civilian aircraft and they soon rectified their mistake," a spokesman added.
It was doing really tight, slow circles and it suddenly put on full power and the noise was unbelievable”
Before the MoD explained the cause, a number of organisations said they were investigating the origin of the sound.
Among them were Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, which received a flood of calls, and the British Geological Survey.
There were reports of the noise being heard in Bath, Swindon, Coventry, Rugby and Oxford.
Some of those who heard it said the sound lasted a few seconds.
Tom Sykes, from Highworth, Wiltshire, said: "I was sat at my desk doing some work and it felt like someone had put up a massive base speaker at my feet.
"I'm sure that they didn't move up in the air but they felt like they were with the vibration. I thought the window had come in."
Terry Organ, from Oldfield Park, Bath, said he saw the Typhoon.
"I thought (the sound) was a commercial airliner and then I thought 'no way'," he said.
"We watched for a while and then we saw this aircraft appear and it was a Typhoon but it was flying amazingly slow and we thought it was going to come down.
'Shook the building'
"It was doing really tight, slow circles and it suddenly put on full power and the noise was unbelievable, it was really blasting it out, and then it moved a bit further on and it did another slow turn.
"My impression was that it was struggling to stay up but then he put on full power again and you just couldn't hear anything.
"The noise was terrific, I imagine you could hear it for miles."
Another person who reported hearing the boom, who gave his name as Dave, from Warwick, described the sound as "like sitting on a hard shoulder and a big lorry going past."
"It shook the building and the windows popped," he added.
It is the second time this year that a sonic boom has been created by a Typhoon aircraft.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 1:30 PM
Based around the CH-47F, the 'Golf' is the newest and most advanced MH-47. It features a number of improvements of previous models such as:
Honeywell T55-GA-14A-714 engines
Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS)
A suite of integrated digital mission management systems including LCD screens, communication devices, moving map displays and data processing systems.
The MH-47G has the ability to integrate data from external sensors, allowing it to 'see' over the horizon and make in-flight mission changes as appropriate
Improved missile warning receiver
Improved data/SATCOM modem
MH-47 (MH-47G) Specifications:
Crew Pilot, Co-pilot + 3 crew chiefs/gunners
Engines 2xTextron Lycoming T55-4-714 Turboshaft engines
Dimensions L - 15.87m
W (rotor diameter) - 18.82m
H - 5.59m
Weights 12,210 kg (empty)
24,494 kg (max loadout)
Max Speed 259 kph
Range 1382 km
Armament 4 gun stations (port/starboard front and rear) :
2x m134 7.62mm miniguns (front)
2 xM240D 7.62mm machine gun (rear)
Avionics Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS)
Mission Management Software
Hughes AN/AAQ-16 FLIR in chin turret
Digital moving map display
Aircraft Survivability Equipment Control
BM-AlliedSignal integrated avionics with four-screen NVG compatible EFIS
dual MIL-STD-1553 digital databusses
AN/ASN-145 AHRS; jamming-resistant radios
Rockwell Collins CP1516-ASQ automatic target hand-off system
inertial AN/ASN-137 Doppler,
Rockwell Collins AN/ASN-149(V)2 GPS receiver
Rockwell Collins ADF-149
Perkin-Elmer AN/AVR-2 laser
E-Systems AN/APR-39A laser warning receiver
Honeywell AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems
ITT AN/ALQ-136(V) pulse jammer and
Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-162 CW jammer
Tracor M-130 chaff/flare dispensers
Photo by Steve Douglass
Posted by Steve Douglass at 12:48 PM
WNBC NEW YORK
2 World Financial Center building is being evacuated because of a suspicious package, police said.
The package was delivered to 2 World Financial Center.
Police are investigating. Details are sketchy at this time but sources say what appears to be a grenade.
Update: Reuters) - A suspicious package that appeared to contain a grenade was found at 2 World Financial Center on Thursday morning, prompting an evacuation of the building, police said.
The evacuation was prompted around 11 a.m. EDT after an x-ray of a package at the building appeared to reveal a grenade inside, New York City Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said. The police department's bomb squad is at the scene.
Two World Financial Center was severely damaged by the falling debris when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York. The building had to be closed for repairs until May 2002 as a result of the damage. (Reporting By Michelle Nichols and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Vicki Allen)
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:58 AM
By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times
Thu Apr 12 2012 5:37 AM
BEIJING — The spectacle unfolding on a launchpad on the west coast of North Korea creates a picture of a boastful and media-savvy regime willing to brush off international condemnation — but perhaps not completely unified behind its youthful new leader.
Despite warnings from the United States, as well as China and Russia, Pyongyang said Wednesday that it was fueling a three-stage rocket for imminent launch, depending on weather conditions.
"We don't really care about the opinions from the outside. This is critical in order to develop our national economy," Paek Chang Ho, head of the satellite control center at the Korean Committee for Space Technology, told reporters who were invited to North Korea for the occasion.
Paek said that a weather satellite had been installed on the rocket as part of North Korea's "peaceful space program."
The rocket launch is the centerpiece of the celebrations taking place this week to mark the centennial of founder Kim Il Sung's birth, April 15, 1912 — the same day, North Koreans sometimes note with irony, as the sinking of the Titanic.
For at least four years, propagandists have been promising North Koreans that they would live in a "strong and prosperous" nation by 2012, making the launch a welcome distraction from the despair in one of the world's hungriest nations. One-third of North Korean children are reported to be permanently stunted because of chronic malnutrition. North Korea recently had to lower the minimum height requirement for soldiers to 4 feet, 9 inches.
The Defense Ministry in rival South Korea released figures saying that North Korea could afford to feed its population for a year with the money it is spending on the missile launch.
Televised video from Pyongyang showed well-coiffed women in fluorescent pink gowns and the usually drab walls plastered with poster-color paintings of raised fists in a display of fealty to the regime.
Workers in blue helmets are shown on scaffolding preparing the missile, which is emblazoned with the North Korean flag and the name "Unha 3," meaning "Galaxy." A plastic tarpaulin was draped over the rocket in the latest shots, making it difficult to confirm North Korea's claim that it was carrying a weather satellite.
On Wednesday, North Korea's youthful new leader, Kim Jong Un, was named to the new position of first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party. Kim, in his late 20s and Swiss-educated, is grandson of Kim Il Sung and the son of Kim Jong Il, who died in December. Kim Jong Il was posthumously given the title "eternal general secretary."
Officials of the U.S. and other countries fear that North Korea's missile program masks an effort to develop a delivery system for a nuclear weapon.
North Korea struck a deal Feb. 29 to suspend its weapons program in return for 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the United States, but the U.S. says the aid will not be delivered if North Korea goes ahead with the launch.
The rapid collapse of the deal raises the possibility of a rift in the leadership between those who would like to end North Korea's pariah status and hard-liners in the military, with the young, untested leader perhaps caught in the middle.
"What is perplexing is that they left benefits on the table. Normally they would cash in on the agreement before reneging," said Scott Snyder, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a book on North Korean negotiating behavior.
"It may suggest inexperience in the leadership or bureaucratic cleavage," Snyder said. "My own interpretation is that these [the food deal and the missile launch] were behests by Kim Jong Il before he died and nobody knew how they fit together."
North Korea's critics have expressed dismay over the highly public spectacle of the launch, as though Pyongyang was taking extra steps to thumb its nose at the United States.
"At this point, North Korea is getting the upper hand. They're using the Western media to spread their propaganda message to the world," said Kim Chul-woo, a former South Korean Defense Ministry official.
North Korea has tried three times to put a satellite into orbit. Efforts in 1998, 2006 and 2009 either failed entirely or were unsuccessful in the final stage.
Unlike previous efforts, which were fired east toward Japan, this one is headed due south, passing just 150 miles east of Shanghai, 70 miles west of South Korea and landing near the Philippines, according to an analysis by David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Chinese President Hu Jintao in a statement Wednesday congratulated Kim Jong Un on his promotion, but made no mention of the imminent test.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:38 AM