Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nanoengineered graphene to hide future strike aircraft

by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

6/18/2014 - RUSTON, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command and Louisiana Tech University recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement which will allow the two to work together to develop new defensive systems for the bomber fleet based on nanoengineered graphene.

"Graphene is a relatively new form of carbon, first synthesized in 2004. It's a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal pattern--like chicken wire," said Air Force Deputy to the Chief Scientist Lt. Col. Dennis Rand. "Because it's only one atom deep, graphene is essentially a two-dimensional material, and as a result it has unusual properties relating to things like heat conduction, electrical conductivity, and optical density."

Currently, aircraft use little metal strips, called chaff, as a defensive system to help prevent the aircraft from being targeted by anti-air defense systems.

"It is our hope that chaff based on graphene will provide improved defense against IR and RF-based systems," Rand said.

The CRADA covers the first stages of a project to develop this system, and subsequent phases will be covered by amendments to the agreement, Rand said. However, the hope is that this initial agreement between AFGSC and Tech will lead to other research and development projects, said Air Force Global Strike Command Chief Scientist, Dr. Christopher Yeaw.

"The most important milestone we're trying achieve is the first formal linking of La Tech's strong technical expertise with AFGSC's compelling mission to deter would-be aggressors and assure allies and partners," Yeaw said. "This is a natural marriage, and we hope that this first CRADA will prime the pump for wider cooperation, bolstering the local capability to tackle these types of mission challenges."

"Louisiana Tech University has a wide range of cybersecurity and electronics protection research projects and technologies that may be of interest to AFGSC," Dr. Stan Napper, Vice President for Research and Development at Louisiana Tech University, said. "Through the new CRADA, we hope to contribute more significantly to scientific and technical developments that will assist AFGSC in achieving its mission."

Yeaw said the CRADA is a new chapter in the Command's relationship with Louisiana Tech. While the partnership goes back to the establishment of AFGSC in 2009, "This is really the first formalization of that cooperation," he said.

"The importance of this type of partnership cannot be overstated. Both institutions have compelling missions, and they hold common interests not just in research and development of innovative technologies for eventual incorporation into the Command's portfolio of assets, but also in the development of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals, some if whom we hope might consider working for the Air Force after they graduate," Yeaw said. "The development of STEM professionals coming out of La Tech is strengthened by affording students meaningful and potentially impactful research and development projects."

Yeaw said a partnership with Tech will benefit more than just bombers and missiles.

"I'm also thinking of secure and reliable communications, security infrastructure surrounding our core assets, and even energy management at our bases, among other things," he said.

Even if the ultimate goal of producing an operational defensive system is not realized, Rand said the research conducted towards that end will add to the Air Force's overall body of scientific knowledge.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Special Forces capture Benghazi attack ringleader in secret Libyan raid.

THE WASHINGTON POST: U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assaults has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.

The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.

Abu Khattala’s apprehension is a major victory for the Obama administration, which has been criticized for having failed so far to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attacks to justice.

Monday, June 16, 2014

FAST team deployed to protect US embassy in Baghdad.

The Pentagon has deployed about 100 troops — including more than 50 Marines attached to a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq, to help protect diplomatic personnel and property.

Meanwhile, President Obama is considering miltiary action against the Islamic insurgents, who have seized vast swaths of northern Iraq and are moving south toward the capital. Several U.S. warships have moved into the Persian Gulf, where they provide “the commander in chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, on Monday.

The arrival of FAST Marines and a contingent of U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq on Sunday marked the first operational deployment of U.S. troops there since the withdrawal of combat forces in December 2011. Pentagon officials declined to identify the Army unit deployed to Baghdad. The Marine platoon is based out of nearby Bahrain, and is tasked with protecting American personnel and property, said Master Sgt. William Price, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

FAST Marines are the traditional go-to assets when U.S. embassies require reinforcement in times of crises. The Marine Corps has two more forward-deployed FAST elements in Spain and Japan.

“This is a temporary thing,” Kirby said Monday. “There is no intention that this is any kind of permanent plus up. They are there temporarily, to assist with some relocation of some personnel who work at the embassy. They are not engaged in ferrying to and fro anyone. No military aircraft … is being used to ferry these folks.”

On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde, part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, to enter the Persian Gulf. It joins the carrier George H. W. Bush, which Hagel ordered to enter the Gulf on Saturday.

The carrier brings F/A-18 Super Hornets that could provide air strike capability over Iraq. The Mesa Verde carries more Marines, all members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft that will be in standby in case the State Department needs support to completely evacuate the embassy in Baghdad.

Also entering the Persian Gulf Saturday was the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer Truxtun. The ships carry Tomahawk missiles that could reach inland Iraq.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Obama may authorize military action against Sunni Islamic militants in Iraq

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama refused to rule out U.S. action in Iraq against Sunni Islamist militants who have surged out of the north to threaten Baghdad, threatening to divide the country and establish their own jihadist state.
Hours after ethnic Kurdish forces took advantage of the chaos to take control of the oil hub of Kirkuk as the forces of the Shi'ite-led government abandoned their posts, Obama was asked if he might order drone strikes or other action to halt the insurgency that has seized much of northern Iraq this week.
"I don't rule anything out," he told reporters, saying he was looking at all options to help the elected leaders who took full control of Iraq when the U.S. occupation ended in 2011.

He added that the United States had an interest in denying a foothold to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and that Washington was prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Five Americans killed in friendly fire incident by B-1B bomber

KABUL, Afghanistan Five American service members were killed in southern Afghanistan when a B-1B bomber was called in by a SOF unit that had come under intense Taliban attack.

The five were killed along with an Afghan soldier in Zabul province, said the province’s Police Chief Ghulam Sakhi Roghliwanai.“But the airstrike mistakenly bombed their own friends too,” he said.The alliance did not offer additional details.

According to sources, the troops were conducting a security sweep. Such operations have been stepped up ahead of the Afghanistan’s presidential runoff election, which will take place on Saturday.

The patrol came under heavy fire from enemy forces and an airstrike was called in. "That’s when the casualties occurred, a NATO statement said — but then it added this line: Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved.”

Roghliwanai said the troops had completed their joint military sweep when they came under rocket fire from Taliban militants.

A U.S. defense department spokesman said early Tuesday morning he didn’t have a comment about the incident.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Senator Graham calls for hearing on Taliban prisoner swap.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called on Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to immediately hold hearings on the prisoner swap that secured the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Graham questioned President Obama’s decision to release the “Taliban Dream Team” from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in exchange for Bergdahl, a 28-year-old Army sergeant who spent five years as a prisoner of the militant Haqqani network.

“While I appreciate an American was released from captivity, this decision by the Obama administration has serious implications for our future national security,” Graham wrote.

He predicted the militants released from American custody, including the chief of staff of the Taliban army and Taliban’s deputy minister of intelligence, will return to the fight “surely as night follows day.”

“I fear President Obama’s decision will inevitably lead to more Americans being kidnapped and held hostage throughout the world,” he said.

Graham questioned why the administration did not notify Congress 30 days in advance of the release of prisoners from Guantánamo as required the by the National Defense Authorization Act.

“We need a thorough review of this decision, and I urge you to hold a hearing on this matter as it has profound implications for national security,” he said.

Graham faces a crowed field of challengers in the South Carolina Republican primary scheduled for June 10.

Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services panel, and Rep. Buck McKeon (Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement over the weekend calling for a careful examination of the deal that secured Bergdahl’s release.


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