Wednesday, April 10, 2013

South Korea raises alert level in lieu of pending DPRK missile launch.

BOSTON GLOBE: SEOUL — US and South Korean troops increased alert levels Wednesday as South Korea’s foreign minister warned that North Korea could launch its medium-range Musudan missile ‘‘any time from now.’’

Although North Korea has tested many of its short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles, it has never flight-tested the longer-range Musudan, which is believed to have a range of around 2,175 miles. A successful test of the missile would demonstrate the North’s potential to hit not only South Korea but also all of Japan and targets as far away as the US military bases on the Pacific island of Guam.

‘‘Based on intelligence we and the Americans have collected, it’s highly likely that North Korea will launch a missile,’’ Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se of South Korea told a parliamentary hearing Wednesday, adding that such a test would violate UN resolutions banning the country from testing ballistic missiles. ‘‘Such a possibility could materialize at any time from now.’’

US and South Korean troops raised their ‘‘Watchcon’’ level of vigilance, stepping up monitoring and intelligence-gathering activities, officials at the South Korean Defense Ministry said.

Adding to the concerns, North Korea often stages military provocations around important national anniversaries, and Monday is the birthday of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

Japan was also on guard for a potential North Korean missile launch, deploying PAC-3 missile interceptors in key locations around Tokyo as a precaution. The US military has moved two Navy missile-defense ships closer to the Korean Peninsula to monitor any North Korean missiles launchings and to intercept the missiles if they threaten the US bases or Washington’s allies in the region.

South Korean military officials said that they had detected the movements of not only the Musudan but also Scud and Rodong missiles to the North’s east coast, indicating that the North might fire those missiles together, as they had done before.

Despite warnings from their leaders of impending nuclear war, residents of Pyongyang gave no sense of panic, with people planting trees and dancing in the plazas ahead of the holiday, the Associated Press, which has a bureau in the North Korean capital, reported Wednesday.

The North Korean warnings also appeared to have little or no effect on the small Pyongyang community of foreign diplomats, who had been admonished by the host government last week that it could not guarantee their safety as of Wednesday and that they should consider evacuating.

A spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official at the European Union, said in Brussels that despite North Korea’s ‘‘aggressive rhetoric, we judge that the situation on the ground does not justify evacuation or relocation.’’

Air Force report says pilot error caused Dec 17 F-16 crash near Fresno, CA.

NORFOLK, Va.  — A series of pilot errors resulted in a fighter jet crashing in a desolate area of California during a December training mission, according to an Air Force report released Tuesday.

The F-16C Fighting Falcon crashed on government land about 84 nautical miles east of Fresno, Calif. on the afternoon of Dec. 27. The aircraft belonged to the 144th Fighter Wing stationed at Fresno Air National Guard Base.

The pilot safely ejected with minor injuries, but the plane was destroyed on impact. The Air Force values the jet at $21.4 million.

The Air Force has not released the pilot's name, but said the pilot had more than 2,000 flight hours in an F-16 and was part of the 194th Fighter Squadron. The squadron's primary mission is to perform homeland defense throughout the Southwest and be prepared to deploy around the world, if needed.

The report says there were three primary factors that contributed to the crash: complacency throughout the entire flight; pressing the equipment beyond reasonable limits; and procedural error in the last few minutes of flight. An analysis of flight data records indicated there was no evidence of any flight control, electrical, or hydraulic malfunctions that would have contributed to the crash, according to the report.

Among other things, it says the pilot failed to recover the aircraft from a high pitch, low airspeed state in response to a low-speed warning tone. That resulted in an inverted deep stall.

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Bell want's to build future tilt-rotor (V-280 Valor) Blackhawk replacement.

Bell Helicopter is unveiling a new third generation tilt-rotor aircraft concept called the V-280 Valor, which it is pitching for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

The army hopes to field a new medium-lift rotorcraft to replace its fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks in the 2030s developed under its FVL effort. But the service does not simply want a new helicopter; it hopes to induct "leap-ahead" technologies that would enable its future rotorcraft to cruise at speeds approaching 230kts (426km/h). To this end, the army has launched a JMR technology demonstration effort and will select one or more companies to build a flying prototype that would be expected to take to the air in 2017.

While Bell's V-22 Osprey partner Boeing is teaming with rival Sikorsky to pitch a high-speed compound helicopter design based on that company's X-2 prototype, Bell has opted to pursue what it calls a third generation tilt-rotor.

Called the V-280, the Bell concept features a V-tail, a large cell carbon core wing and a composite fuselage. Unlike the older V-22 design, the engines do not move, only the rotor-system tilts, Bell says. Coupled with a fly-by-wire system, the aircraft should have excellent high and low-speed handling qualities, the company says.

The V-280 will be able to cruise efficiently at 280kts (519km/h) carrying 11 passengers comfortably with a mission radius of over 250nm (463km).



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