Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Russian Bombers drill near Japan.

About 40 strategic bombers will participate in five-day drills in Russia’s Maritime Territory near the Japanese border, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said on Monday. 

The long-range aviation exercise, which started earlier in the day, includes aerial bombing and launches of airborne cruise missiles at the Litovka test range, he said.

Other training missions will include aerial patrol and midair refueling.

About 30 crews of Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers, some 10 crews of Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers will participate.

Japan has been concerned by Russian warplane flights near its coast.

In early February, a total of five Russian aircraft, including two Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, two Su-24 Fencer reconnaissance planes and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft flew close to Japanese territory, without intruding into its airspace, however.

They were shadowed by Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.

Source: 17 April 2011 - dailyairforce News

Spy blimp ready for first domestic flight over New Jersey

WIRED DANGER ROOM: TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!”
It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.
The Air Force’s highly computerized (and potenitally missile-armed) Blue Devil 2 airship recently ran into integration problems, forcing the flying branch to cancel a planned test run in Afghanistan. (Although the service had never been too hot on airships in the first place.) The Navy meanwhile grounded its much smaller MZ-3A research blimp for a lack of work until the Army paid to take it over. The LEMV seemed to be losing air, too, as Northrop and the Army repeatedly delayed its first flight and planned combat deployment originally slated for the end of 2011.
As recently as last month Northrop and the Army declined to comment on the airship’s new flight schedule. Northrop VP Brad Metzger’s boast from last summer that the $500-million LEMV prototype would “redefine persistent surveillance” seemed hollow.

bin Laden doctor jailed for helping US.

BBC: A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden has been jailed for at least 30 years, officials say.
Shakil Afridi was charged with treason for running a fake vaccination programme to gather information.
The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had called for his release on the grounds that his work served Pakistani and American interests.
Bin Laden was killed by US forces in the north-western city of Abbottabad in May 2011.
The killing triggered a rift between the US and Pakistan, whose government was seriously embarrassed to find Bin Laden had been living in Pakistan.
Islamabad felt the covert US operation was a violation of its sovereignty.
Shortly after the raid on Bin Laden's house, Dr Afridi was arrested for conspiring against the state of Pakistan.
Pakistan has insisted that any country would have done the same if it found one of its citizens working for a foreign spy agency.
Dr Afridi has been found guilty under the tribal justice system in Khyber district, and has also been fined $3,500.
If he does not pay the fine his prison sentence will be extended by a further three years.
Dr Afridi was not present in court so was unable to give his side of the story.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says that many outside observers are concerned that most of the people detained since Bin Laden's killing have been those who were trying to help capture him, rather than those who helped shield him.
It is not clear if Dr Afridi knew who the target of the investigation was when the CIA recruited him, or what DNA he managed to collect in the fake hepatitis B vaccination programme.
The idea was to obtain a blood sample from one of the children living in the Abbottabad compound, so that DNA tests could determine whether or not they were relatives of Bin Laden, our correspondent says.
US Defense secretary Leon Panetta confirmed in January that Dr Afridi collected samples for the US and he spoke to the CBS television programme "60 minutes" about the case.
He said Dr Afridi "was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan... for them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part".


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