Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Electromagnetic Spectrum is now an official "domain of warfare"

WASHINGTON: Pentagon officials are drafting new policy that would officially recognize the electromagnetic spectrum as a “domain” of warfare, joining land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, Breaking Defense has learned. The designation would mark the biggest shift in Defense Department doctrine since cyberspace became a domain in 2006. With jamming, spoofing, radio, and radar all covered under the new concept, it could potentially bring new funding and clear focus to an area long afflicted by shortfalls and stovepipes.

The new electromagnetic spectrum domain would be separate from cyberspace, although there’s considerable overlap between the two. “Wireless” is just another word for “radio.” Any wireless network relies on radio frequency transmissions that can be jammed bytraditional electronic warfare like any other RF device — or it can be hacked by wirelessly transmitted malware, in a hybrid of electronic and cyber attack. But the consensus among officials and experts seems to be that the electromagnetic spectrum world — long divided between electronic warriors and spectrum managers — is so technologically complex and bureaucratically fragmented by itself it must be considered its own domain, without trying to conflate it with cyberspace.

Cyber has certainly gotten more attention and, often, money than the electromagnetic spectrum. Would making the spectrum a domain fix that? It would not magically manifest the missing $2 billion a year the Defense Science Board says is needed to rebuild American electronic warfare capabilities such as jamming. Nor would calling the spectrum a domain somehow turn back the clock on the 20 years China and Russia have spent catching up while American electronic warfare largely stood still. Nor would it reduce the American military’s dependence on inherently vulnerable wireless networks for everything from commanding troops to sharing intelligence to flying drones to knowingexactly where we are.

But instead of trying to fix such complexly interrelated problems piecemeal, it would help to have a big picture endorsed at the highest levels of the Pentagon. No less a figure than Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work has chartered an “electronic warfare executive committee” (EXCOM) to advance a “department-wide” approach to the problem.

I first heard of the draft “domain” policy almost in passing during a presentation last week to the Association of Old Crows, an electronic warfare group, by a contractor for Defense Department’s Chief Information Officer. “The policy…is in the works,” said Troy Orwan, a retired Air Force EW officer himself, “and in that policy we are going to ask the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to declare a sixth domain, EMS, to man, train, and equip.”

Yesterday, Pentagon CIO Terry Halvorsen confirmed in a statement to Breaking Defensethat his office “will be the Departmental lead for these efforts” to explore a wide range of policy options for the electromagnetic spectrum, “to include the potential recognition of the EMS as a domain.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015



After a nearly three-hour-long investigation into a bomb threat, the main gate to Nellis Air Force Base in northeast Las Vegas reopened Wednesday afternoon.

According to the base’s Public Affairs spokesman, a person drove up to the gate about 11:50 a.m. and claimed to have a bomb in the vehicle.

The spokesman said police and base security blocked off the area, and an explosive ordinance team at the base investigated the claim. Ultimately, the team determined there was not a threat.

“We take all threats to our Airmen, families and installation seriously,” said Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th Air Base Wing commander. “We are glad the situation terminated uneventfully.”

The scene was cleared and the gate was reopened to traffic just before 3 p.m.

The spokesman said the person who made the threat was arrested by Las Vegas Metro police.

Neither the person’s identity nor the charges they face were immediately released.

Copyright 2015 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Read more: http://www.fox5vegas.com/story/30708660/bomb-threat-prompts-closure-of-gate-at-nellis-afb#ixzz3tswbV3b1

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

US Sending New Special Ops Force to Fight Islamic State

The U.S. will deploy a new special operations force to the Middle East to help fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that over time, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture Islamic State leaders. Carter said that will improve intelligence and generate more targets for attacks.

Carter did not offer troop numbers amid a growing call from some Republicans for more U.S. boots on the ground and a divide among war-weary Americans about the prospect of greater military involvement. He said the number in the expeditionary force will be "larger" than 50 but would not be more specific and didn't say exactly where they would be based.

There currently are about 3,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, and President Barack Obama had previously announced he was sending fewer than 50 special operations forces to Syria.

Carter said the raids in Iraq will be done at the invitation of the Iraqi government and focused on defending its borders and building the Iraqi security force's own capacity. But the force also will be in position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria, he said.

Carter said the force might be American-only, but more likely would be a mixed force with perhaps Kurdish troops or others who are fighting the militants. He said the new force would conduct operations similar to ones executed earlier this year.

He said it will be a "standing" force, meaning it will be stationed in Iraq and prepared to operate at any time. He called it a "new way of achieving our objective" of defeating the Islamic State.

"And there will be more," Carter said, in coming months.

In October, U.S. special operations troops and Iraqi forces raided a compound in northern Iraqfreeing about 70 Iraqi prisoners who were facing execution. One American service member was killed in the raid, the first American combat death in Iraq since the U.S. began its counter-IS military campaign in August 2014. In May, a Delta Force raid in Syria killed IS financier Abu Sayyaf, yielded intelligence about the group's structure and finances, and his wife, held in Iraq, has been cooperating with interrogators.

Polling after the attacks in Paris and Beirut found Americans divided over sending U.S. ground troops to fight IS. A Gallup survey said that 47 percent of Americans favored sending more ground troops to Iraq and Syria and 46 percent were opposed.

Carter said the U.S. also is expanding attacks on the militants' infrastructure and their sources of revenue, particularly from oil.

"Over the past several weeks, because of improved intelligence and understanding of ISIL's operations, we've intensified the air campaign against ISIL's war-sustaining oil enterprise, a critical pillar of ISIL's financial infrastructure," Carter said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group. "In addition to destroying fixed facilities like wells and processing facilities, we've destroyed nearly 400 of ISIL's oil tanker trucks, reducing a major source of its daily revenues. There's more to come, too."

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified alongside Carter, saying that in the past month or so, attacks on IS have disrupted 43 percent of its revenue stream.

In a later exchange with Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I., Carter elaborated on the prospect of using the expanded special operations force in Iraq to conduct raids inside Syria

Monday, November 16, 2015

Anonymous to ISIS - we will hunt you down.

THE MIRROR: Hacker group Anonymous have declared war against ISIS after the attacks in Paris on Friday night.

Posting a video on YouTube, the group said it would use its knowledge to "unite humanity" and warned the terrorists to "expect us".

Behind their signature mask, a spokesperson speaking in French said: "Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down.

"You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go.

"We will launch the biggest operation ever against you."

"Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared.

"The French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

DAILY BEAST: U.S. Kills Leader of ISIS in Libya

A day after reportedly killing "Jihadi John" in Syria, the Pentagon announced it killed the top ISIS operative in Libya, Wisam al Zubaidi.

The Pentagon announced Saturday a U.S. airstrike killed the leader of ISIS in Libya Abu Nabil, aka Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi.

The announcement confirms The Daily Beast's original report that the U.S. targeted a senior member of the group on Friday, according to two senior U.S. administration officials.

The strike, which was carried out by F-15 aircraft, marks the first time the U.S. has directly gone after ISIS outside of Iraq or Syria.

The strike hit Wisam al Zubaidi, a.k.a. Abu Nabil al Anbarian, an Iraqi national who once led al Qaeda operations in part of Iraq.At some point after that, he moved to eastern Libya to lead ISIS operations there.

The strike in Libya is completely unrelated to the series of terror attacks that took place across Paris Friday night, leaving at least 127 people dead, said the senior official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and therefore requested anonymity.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that ISIS carried out the wave of terror attacks in Paris. The group itself claimed responsibility Saturday, calling the attacks “miracles” in a written statement.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Northrop's Long Range Strike Bomber may have roots in secret program.

By Steve Douglass

There's a quote from the 1997 movie Wag The Dog, starring Robert De Niro that goes, "There is no B-3 bomber, and I don't know why these rumors get started!"

I can answer the question in two ways, first there is no B-3 bomber (yet) and secondly, rumors begin when plane spotters such as myself photographed a trio of triangular shaped aircraft flying in formation over my home city of Amarillo, Texas in March of 2014.  

On 27 October 2015, the Defense Department awarded the development contract of the LRS-B (Long Range Strike Bomber) which logically could become the B-3) to Northrop Grumman. The initial value of the contract is $21.4 billion, but the deal could eventually be worth up to $80 billion.

On 6 November 2015, Boeing and Lockheed Martin protested the decision to the Government Accountability Office. Estimates of development costs vary between 10 and 23 billion dollars.

Northrop Grumman won the award in part because of a projected cost per plane of $511 million, well below the Pentagon's cost cap of $550 million.

Boeing/Lockheed's protest is based on the assumption that Northrop couldn't possibly build an advanced next generation manned stealth strike aircraft on cost and on schedule, especially considering the cutting-edge Lockheed F-35 was anything but.

Northrop plans to field the LRS-B in only ten years, a remarkable feat considering it took Lockheed 20 years to develop the F-22.

However, there is a caveat.

If the protest goes to court it may be that Northrop will be forced to admit that they are already well on their way to building the LRS-B because they are basing their cost estimates on a covert advanced strike aircraft that is already operational, and that aircraft is what Dean Muskett, Ken Hanson and myself photographed in March of 2014.

Lockheed's Skunkworks can quite literally take the credit for basically inventing stealth, first by designing and building (in near total secrecy) the F-11A Nighthawk, followed by the F-22, F-35 and various UAV's. Lockheed Martin/Boeing might argue that Northrop has not built a stealth strike aircraft since the B-2 which is based on 1980s low observable technology, now considered vulnerable to advancements in modern radar technology, especially low frequency over the horizon systems.

However in reality NG hasn't been resting on it's laurels. Since the B-2, the programs we know about that NG has developed have been numerous, such as the FB-23 (spinoff of the YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter that lost out the F-22) Tacit Blue,  a low observable technology demonstrator (a stealth surveillance aircraft) designed to operate close to the forward line of battle with a high degree of survivability and the highly classified RQ-180 UAV, developed out of the Northrop Grumman X-47B program to field a reconnaissance drone that could penetrate Russian, Chinese and Iranian airspace with impunity.

The RQ-180 is covertly funded through the USAF's classified budget. Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract after a competition in which it defeated Boeing and Lockheed Martin's entries. Northrop Grumman is believed to have been awarded a large development contract for the RQ-180 in 2008, with deliveries of low-rate production aircraft that began in 2013.

The LRS-B is a top priority for the United States Air Force because it is believed that China will overcome the 1980s-technology B-2's low-observable features by the mid 2020s.

According to the USAF's LRS-B requirements "Where possible, existing technology and proven subsystems will be used in order to keep the LRS-B within budget" but still making it capable of avoiding detection by rapidly advancing radar systems.

This covert yet existing technology may have given Northrop Grumman the edge over Lockheed/Boeing and account for the still unacknowledged triangular aircraft photographed over Amarillo and Kansas in 2014.

If Northrop has already fielded a manned aircraft that has (and can) penetrate Chinese, Russian and Iranian airspace, it could very well be what gave Northrop their leg up on the competition and the proof it needed to show they could keep it under budget and on time.

Since the sightings in 2014, a trickle of information about the "Flying Dorito" and the LRS-B have come to light.

First, both are manned (which is supported by the communications I recorded) and Northrop's own advertising where a pilot looks longingly at the shrouded LSR-B.

From educated guesstimates our mystery aircraft could be another flying wing and to be about three quarters the size of the B-2 (like the Northrop LRS-B concept) and may very well be a stealth transport built for the CIA, JSOC/DEVGRU (AKA the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) to covertly insert Special Operation Forces, such as Navy SEALs, Army Rangers & DELTA, Marine Corp CSO's and CIA SAD/SOG detachments into hostile nations with advanced radars.

Where they are based is still a mystery, but other sightings suggest basing in Southern New Mexico/far West Texas, Florida and at Area 51 in Nevada.

One source tells me he has seen the aircraft flying on moonless nights between Marfa and El Paso, Texas on more than one occasion.

Another (a USAF aerial refueling boom operator) told me he refueled the aircraft off the coast of Florida between the US and Cuba.

New construction and a large hangar complex at Area 51 may support the assumption that the "Dorito" is based there but others postulate it is for the RQ-180.

What also is known isthat there was considerable insider scuttlebutt during the  2006-2007 time-frame regarding a “classified” proof of concept demonstrator contract being fought over (between Northrop and Boeing/Lockheed) for a large stealthy aircraft that was NOT the LSR-B or the Next Generation Bomber. 

Northrop Grumman was said to have won this $2B contract.

This could have been for the RQ-180 or it could have been the covert stealth transport.

What it was exactly for remains to be seen, or may have been seen by this author and three others flying over Texas.

The "black budget" has exploded exponentially since 9/11, and in 2014 alone it was over $50B.

Some of that money had to go somewhere and it could very well have gone into Northrop Grumman's bank account for the development and fielding of the "Dorito."

-Steve Douglass

click to enlarge

Friday, October 30, 2015

Obama to deploy SpecOps to Syria - Russia is pissed.


A small contingent of US special forces will be sent as part of an “advise and assist” mission to the Syrian rebels fighting against Islamic State militants, Reuters reported citing unnamed US officials.

Unnamed US officials told Reuters that 20-30 special forces operatives will be sent to Syria as military advisers, presumably to the US-backed rebel groups.

Obama has previously refused to send US troops to Syria, saying that local Sunni Arabs would have to fight IS (also known as ISIS and ISIL) on the ground, while the US-led coalition supported them from the air.

The troops will be sent to Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria, CNN reported citing multiple anonymous officials. While they are not expected to be on the front lines with rebel forces, they will have the right to fight back if attacked. They can also join rebel raids if authorized by Washington.

US special operatives are part of a 4,500-strong force already deployed in Iraq, advising and assisting the Iraqi army and militias in their fight against Islamic State forces. Last week, one of the US advisers – Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler of the secretive Delta Force – was killed during a hostage rescue raidin northern Iraq.

Russia has been conducting precision airstrikes on IS positions in Syria at the request of President Bashar al-Assad since September 30, which, according to the Russian General Staff, have already resulted in a large-scale militant retreat and the loss of much of their weaponry and equipment.

However, operations without a nod from the official government or UN authorization don't have legitimacy under international law.

Any operations – air based operations, ground based operations – in Syria by American forces will be illegal,” Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Russia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, told RT earlier this week, commenting on the potential involvement of US ground troops against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Obama’s announcement comes as diplomats from 20 countries gather in Vienna for talks on a political solution to the Syrian Civil War.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BREAKING: Northrop Grumman wins LSR-B contract.

Northrop Grumman, Falls Church, Virginia, has been awarded a contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber.


DEFENSE NEWS: WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman has won the contract to build the US Air Force’s next-generation Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), an industry-shaping deal that breathes new life into the world's sixth-largest defense company.

After US financial markets closed Tuesday evening, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Air Force leadership announced that Northrop beat out the team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the contract, which is expected to top $55 billion over the life of the program. It's the largest military aircraft deal since Lockheed Martin won the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) more than a decade ago.

Northrop now has the Pentagon's blessing to build a new fleet of aircraft to replace the Air Force’s aging B-52s and B-1s. As builder of the B-2 stealth bomber, Northrop beat out a joint Lockheed Martin-Boeing team in a closely watched competition that has lasted months longer than anticipated.

Boeing and Lockheed will likely wage intense lobbying campaigns to rally support for a protest. Boeing is expected to tap the Missouri delegation, including influential Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, while Lockheed will look to the Texas delegation, particularly Fort Worth’s Republican Rep. Kay Granger and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. William "Mac" Thornberry, also a Republican.

Earlier on Tuesday, before the announcement and after a hearing on streamlining defense acquisitions, Thornberry acknowledged concerns over a possible LSR-B protest and the litigious nature of acquisitions in general.

"It's part of the way acquisition culture has developed that every bid award has protests, and you're expected to protest – basically with no penalty," he told reporters. "So, a number of members have had ideas about improving that situation, and it's something that we will continue to discuss."


Thursday, October 22, 2015

US Special Ops rescue 70 Kurds - one soldier killed.

By Kellan Howell - The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2015

At least one U.S. military member has been killed in Iraq where U.S. special operations forces were involved in an attempt to rescue Kurdish hostages from an Islamic State stronghold overnight.

In a statement released Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the service member was wounded during the rescue mission after troops came under fire by the Islamic State militants.

“He subsequently died after receiving medical care,” Mr. Cook said. “In addition, four Peshmerga soldiers were wounded.”

This is the first known combat fatality on the ground in the war against the Islamic State terrorist group.

“On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, we offer our sincere condolences to the family of the U.S. service member who was killed in this operation,” Mr. Cook said. “The U.S. and our coalition will continue to work with our Iraqi partners to degrade and defeat ISIL, and return Iraq to the full control of its people.”

U.S. Special Forces on Wednesday supported Iraqi Peshmerga in an operation to rescue 70 Kurdish hostages at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

“This operation was deliberately planned and launched after receiving information that the hostages faced imminent mass execution,” Mr. Cook said.

The operation took place in Hawija in norther Iraq where Kurdish fighters were being held captive in an Islamic State controlled compound.

More than 20 of the 70 hostages rescued were members of the Iraqi Security Forces, Mr. Cook said.

Five Islamic State militants were detained during the operation and a number were killed as well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teenager hacks CIA Director's accounts.

(CNN) The FBI and Secret Service are investigating reports that non-government personal accounts associated with CIA Director John Brennan as well as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson were hacked, law enforcement officials told CNN.

The New York Post first interviewed the alleged hacker, who said he accessed an AOL email account associated with Brennan that included files regarding his security clearance application, and the hacker also claims to have accessed a Comcast account associated with Johnson.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, the alleged hacker said he has yet to be contacted by law enforcement.

The CIA issued a statement Monday saying they are aware of the report. A DHS spokesman also issued a statement saying, "We don't discuss the Secretary's security information. We have forwarded this matter to the appropriate authorities." The FBI declined to comment.

It does not appear that any classified information was accessed, according to a law enforcement official.

The alleged hacker said he was motivated both by politics and by the desire to shame the government.

"John and Jeh are both very big people and high-ranking people, so, I mean, if we hacked them, they would be ashamed," he said. "But it was really because the government are killing innocent people, they also fund (Israel) for killing innocent people."

The reports highlight the sensitivity of government officials using personal email addresses whether or not they use them for government purposes, an issue thrust into the spotlight in part by Hillary Clinton's use of private email when she was secretary of state.

While much of the controversy over Clinton's email use stems from the fact that she used the account for work purposes -- there has also been concern about officials using personal email for non-government purposes but on company computers.

The problem is that private email addresses make easy targets.

Johnson apologized over the summer for getting a waiver to use personal email on government computers at the Department of Homeland Security -- the civilian agency tasked largely with leading the federal government's cybersecurity efforts. He called it a "whoops" moment and extended an existing ban to cover top officials who had sought waivers for their email access.

The concern with personal email is that it can be relatively easy for hackers to target and exists outside the protections on .gov email addresses managed by the government.

In fact, the hacker told The New York Post that he used a stunningly simple tactic to allegedly hack Brennan's account.

The process, called "social engineering," involves collecting information on a person that is publicly available and using it to personalize an attack on their accounts. In this case, the alleged hacker told the Post he tricked Verizon employees into giving him Brennan's information and got AOL to reset his password, presumably sending the reset to the hacker.

The tactic, taking advantage of call centers, has been documented by several in the security community as a relatively easy and dangerous hacking technique.

In another form of social engineering, a hacker in 2008 broke into the email account of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin by answering her simple security questions, including her birthday and zip code.


Friday, September 11, 2015

GUARDIAN : US spy chief's 'highly unusual' reported contact with military official raises concerns

Barack Obama’s intelligence chief is said to be in frequent and unusual contact with a military intelligence officer at the center of a growing scandal over rosy portrayals of the war against the Islamic State, the Guardian has learned.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, is said to talk nearly every day with the head of US Central Command’s intelligence wing, Army Brigadier General Steven Grove – “which is highly, highly unusual”, according to a former intelligence official.

Grove is said to be implicated in a Pentagon inquiry into manipulated war intelligence.

In communications, Clapper, who is far more senior than Grove, is said to tell Grove how the war looks from his vantage point, and question Grove about Central Command’s assessments. Such a situation could place inherent pressure on a subordinate, sources said.

Knowledgeable former officials are doubtful that Clapper directly intends to manipulate intelligence. And they do not say that the director of national intelligence – who apologized to his Senate overseers in 2013 for publicly misleading Congress on the scope of domestic surveillance – ordered Grove or anyone else to change the command’s assessment of the war.

But one former intelligence official said Clapper “has to be careful of the Cheney effect, going over to the CIA and how does that affect people” – a reference to pressure felt by CIA analysts before the 2003 Iraq invasion to portray Saddam Hussein as posing a more dire threat than he actually did, following then Vice-President Dick Cheney’s direct interaction with far more junior analysts and officials.

“He can be manipulative,” a former senior defense official said of Clapper. For Clapper as a senior US intelligence officer with access to assessments across the 16 US intelligence agencies to query Grove, the Central Command intelligence chief, the ex-official said, “something’s wrong”.

Clapper’s calls, knowledgeable sources speaking on condition of anonymity said, placed Grove in a difficult bureaucratic position: between the nominal leader of the entire US intelligence apparatus and his lower-level analysts, several of whom consider the year-long war against Isis to be in dire straits.

Grove and his civilian deputy, Greg Ryckman, are said to be the sources of dissatisfaction among analysts within Central Command, where an internal controversy about integrity in intelligence has now sparked an official inquiry by the Pentagon inspector general.

More than 50 intelligence analysts, both those within Central Command and their seconded Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) colleagues, have registered complaints about manipulated or skewed data, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday. Analysts object to internal portrayals, said to come ultimately from Grove and Ryckman, of a war proceeding better than Isis’s persistent hold over large swaths of Iraq and Syria suggests. The existence of the Pentagon inquiry was first reported last month by the New York Times.

Some of those skewed and upbeat assessments have reportedly been delivered to Barack Obama. The White House has frequently defended its “Iraq first” strategy; one source interviewed by the Guardian said Obama aides were not receptive to hearing “the narrative that Isis is winning”.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

North Korean anniversary missile launch still probable despite evidence to contrary

38 NORTH: While speculation that North Korea intends to launch a long-range space launch vehicle (SLV) on the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party in October continues, it is still not possible to determine whether Pyongyang will conduct such a launch using commercial satellite imagery. Imagery from August 27 and September 1 show that a movable structure on the launch pad—intended to transfer SLV stages and components from the Stationary Preparation Building to the gantry tower—has shifted back and forth since observed in mid-August.

That movement may have occurred for a number of reasons ranging from testing the recently completed movable structure to launch preparations. Besides the fact that the general low level of activity throughout the facility suggests a launch is not going to occur over the next few weeks, in the case of a possible October launch, it is probably still too soon to move the SLV to the gantry.

Construction activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (“Tongchang-ri”) since spring 2015 has made it more difficult to spot launch preparations. Nevertheless, there are indicators likely to be present a few weeks before a launch that such preparations are underway, such as a significant increase in fuel loading and pressure testing activity at the fuel and oxidizer buildings. Moreover, it may also be possible to spot the SLV itself at the gantry.

Recent imagery also shows construction at the vertical engine test stand that will allow the testing of larger, more capable rocket engines is proceeding rapidly. That work, however, is unrelated to the question of whether the North will conduct a new launch in the near future.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

AVIATION WEEK: USAF Offers Long-Awaited Peek At Secret Bomber Plans

As Washington eagerly awaits news of a winner for the new bomber development contract, the U.S. Air Force’s covert project is further along than officials have let on, with years worth of risk-reduction work already done.
The Air Force began to hint at this secretive history in a Sept. 1 Pentagon briefing to think tankers outlining a program rooted in negotiations with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that fundamentally shaped an atypical acquisition approach to this effort.
This appears to be the beginning of an unusually savvy communications strategy by the Air Force leading up to an announcement that could come in days, or possibly weeks, on which team will build the Long-Range Strike Bomber – Northrop Grumman orBoeing/Lockheed Martin. It could also be a response to some that suggest its unconventional approach was an indictment of the service’s acquisition corps, which made major missteps in program management in the last decade.
In the 2-hr. briefing, the Air Force outlined a few key points about the procurement strategy behind what is expected to be an $80 billion-plus project to field 100 new, stealthy bombers. It was briefed under Chatham House Rules, meaning the information cannot be cited to a specific person. An Air Force spokesman present for the session declined to identify the briefer.
Only glimpses of the program were given. But they hint at a much more mature effort than previously stated and backed by government money doled out years ago to each team, meaning the forthcoming announcement of a development contract winner will not underpin a new-start program.

While Washington has been on the edge of its seat to discover which team will nab the contract, the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) has apparently been hard at work managing risk reduction with both contractors for the program since Gates issued a classified memo launching LRS-B in February 2011, according to a source briefed on the project.
Gates terminated the Next-Generation Bomber, the precursor to LRS-B. That earlier project was far more ambitious and expensive, in part because of the assumption that the aircraft would operate nearly independently, which drove requirements up. NGB would have needed to be capable of its own intelligence and other functions that LRS-B will get through support from a network of already fielded Air Force platforms. Ever skeptical of high-tech promises, Gates restarted the project with a lower-cost, reduced-risk approach. This decision was made as the F-35 was struggling with major cost and technical issues, prompting skepticism from Pentagon leaders.
This likely led to the choice of the RCO as the procurement overseer, bypassing the Air Force’s standard acquisition corps, which is typically used to manage fighter, bomber and weapons programs. The RCO reports to a board of directors chaired by Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall; Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and service acquisition head William LaPlante are also on the board. With Kendall as head, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has unusually deep insight into the ins and outs of the project, perhaps a strategy backed by Gates by design to guard against requirements creep.
Because the RCO is designed to quickly integrate and field technologies, it is often closer to the art of the available than other procurement agents may be. It is also, most likely, briefed on available classified technologies, potentially to include the classified work behind the RQ-180 intelligence aircraft built by Northrop Grumman for intelligence collection. This stealthy, penetrating spy aircraft likely will work hand-in-hand with LRS-B to collect and relay intelligence and bomb damage assessments on missions in protected airspace.
At the time the RCO was chosen, the service’s procurement corps was saddled with criticism for missteps in buying both a KC-135 and HH-60G replacement, so it could have been a political move to insulate LRS-B from similar scrutiny. The office was established in 2003 to quickly upgrade the air defense system protecting Washington after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It is led by Randall Walden (who formerly oversaw procurement of intelligence aircraft such as the U-2, Global Hawk and Reaper).
Since the 2011 Gates memo, both contractor teams have received risk-reduction funds for specific areas thought by the RCO to be the most risky, including integration of the propulsion system onto the aircraft and antenna design, a key challenge for any stealthy aircraft that is intolerant of protruding communications nodes, the source said. An Air Force spokesman declined to say how much money has been provided, but he confirmed both teams are funded. The briefer at the think tank meeting cited some wind tunnel testing, but no details on what was tested – subscale models, full demonstrators, subsystems – were provided. One source suggests the teams are already past the preliminary design review phase of the project, “years farther along” than previously acknowledged by the Air Force.
The briefer indicated the bomber would be optionally manned, not a surprising design choice. The relatively large size of a heavy bomber means the size/weight/power penalty for a cockpit is fairly low. Also, service officials would want a piloted aircraft for testing, as unmanned testing is subject to thornier constraints. “Unmanning” the bomber by equipping it with proper command and control and software would be a relatively simple addition, and hooks are built in to do so if desired. But for the near term the bomber will be manned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: BELL 525 Relentless flies for first time

Today at approximately 10:18 AM the prototype for the Bell/Textron 525 Relentless took to the skies for the first time from the Amarillo, Texas plant.

After a long engine run up the Bell 525 hovered then flew down to taxi way for about 10 minutes Bell employees and brass cheered as it took off.

More photos and video soon.

(C) Steve Douglass
Photo (C) Steve Douglass
Media contact: webbfeat@gmail.com for photo rights.


(C) Steve Douglass webbfeat@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

FBI has a secret Air Force.

IN this photo taken May 26, 2015, a small plane flies near Manassas Regional Airport in Manassas, Va. The plane is among a fleet of surveillance aircraft by the FBI, which are primarily used to target suspects under federal investigation. Such planes are capable of taking video of the ground, and some _ in rare occasions _ can sweep up certain identifying cellphone data. 
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
WASHINGTON —The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

In Boston, the FBI used aircraft to monitor Khairullozhon Matanov, a Quincy cab driver and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, before arresting him. Matanov met with the Tsarnaev brothers 40 minutes after the Marathon bombings, and he took them out to dinner that night, authorities said.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department's inspector general.

"The FBI's aviation program is not secret," spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. "Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes." Allen added that the FBI's planes "are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance."

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods. The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights since late April orbiting both major cities and rural areas.

One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side. A federal budget document from 2010 mentioned at least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, in the FBI's surveillance fleet.

The FBI also occasionally helps local police with aerial support, such as during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.

The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Russia accused of digitally altering sat images to pin MH17 crash on Ukrainian forces, it has been claimed.

Russia has been accused of digitally altering two satellite images to pin the blame of downed passenger plane MH17 on Ukrainian forces, it has been claimed.

According a report released by investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat, analysis of the satellite images when compared to Google Earth 'undoubtedly demonstrates' they were tampered with.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner, the majority of them Dutch, died when it was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year.


In this photo, you can see Ukrainian air defense equipment deployed at a military base north of Donetsk which Russia claimed was dated July 14 - three days before the crash. However, Bellingcat investigators found evidence showing it was more likely taken sometime between May and mid-June


Here you can see a photo of the same area Russia claimed was taken on July 17, the day MH17 was shot down - with the Ukrainian anti aircraft system (circled) noticeably absent from where it was previously stored. However, a tiny oil spill to the top right of the image helped date the photo as actually being taken sometime before June 17 - a full month before the tragedy

Comparisons with pictures from Google Earth now show the images the Russian Ministry of Defence unveiled to media - purporting to show Ukrainian missiles in the area at the time of the accident - were actually dated between May and June, months before the tragedy.

Bellingcat investigators also found they had been tampered to make it appear missile launchers had left their bases and were deployed within striking distance of the plane on the day it was shot down.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3105497/How-Russia-faked-two-satellite-images-attempt-shift-blame-Ukraine-MH17-Investigation-shows-Kremlin-altered-pictures-missile-launcher-missing-aircraft-s-flight-path.html#ixzz3bpZKHxte
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

NSA phone data collection illegal feds rule ...

THE GUARDIAN: The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.

NSA bulk data collection ruled illegal – read the court document

But the judges also waded into the charged and ongoing debate over the reauthorization of a key Patriot Act provision currently before US legislators. That provision, which the appeals court ruled the NSA program surpassed, will expire on June 1 amid gridlock in Washington on what to do about it.

The judges opted not to end the domestic bulk collection while Congress decides its fate, calling judicial inaction “a lesser intrusion” on privacy than at the time the case was initially argued.

“In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape,” the judges ruled.

But they also sent a tacit warning to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who is pushing to re-authorize the provision, known as Section 215, without modification: “There will be time then to address appellants’ constitutional issues.”

“We hold that the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,”concluded their judgement.

“Such a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism requires a clearer signal from Congress than a recycling of oft‐used language long held in similar contexts to mean something far narrower,” the judges added.

“We conclude that to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may become relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future fails even the permissive ‘relevance’ test.

“We agree with appellants that the government’s argument is ‘irreconcilable with the statute’s plain text’.”

The ruling, one of several in federal courts since the Guardian exposed the domestic bulk collection thanks to Snowden, immediately took on political freight.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate who has made opposition to overbroad surveillance central to his platform, tweeted: “The phone records of law abiding citizens are none of the NSA’s business! Pleased with the ruling this morning.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jihadist recruiter may have interacted with Garland, Texas attackers

One of the gunmen in the attack on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas on May 4th had interacted online with a jihadist recruiter well known to US authorities.

Elton Simpson, who was killed while attempting to attack the event, had a series of social media exchanges with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, an American-born jihadist and "mysterious ISIS recruiter" who has been living in Somalia since 2007.

Hassan, who goes by the nickname "Miski," was part of an initial wave of Minnesota-based youth who traveled to the Horn of Africa to fight alongside Al Shabaab, a jihadist group that initially formed to oppose the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. Hassan left for Somalia in 2008 at the age of 17, joining an organization that rapidly morphed into one of the world's most successful recruiters of foreign jihadists.

At the time Hassan arrived, Shabaab largely consisted of fighters that had been members of the Islamic Courts Union, a fundamentalist Islamic political movement that the Ethiopian invasion had removed from power. In Somalia's stateless vacuum, Shabaab was able to create an extensive safe haven for foreign fighters and to develop one of Africa's most dangerous terrorist groups. The group's foreign connections allowed Shabaab to claim a notable jihadist milestone: the first American jihadist suicide bomber in history carried out his attack on Shabaab's behalf, in 2011.

FBI photo of Hassan

Shabaab officially pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012, and though the group had seen its territory reduced and much of its major leadership killed, it retains startling operational capabilities. On April 2nd, Shabaab killed 147 college students during an attack on a university in eastern Kenya.

Hassan had attracted the attention of American authorities from the outset of Shabaab's reign of terror and was charged with conspiracy to support terrorism in 2009.

According to short profiles from Minnesota Public Radio and the New York Times, Hassan was devoutly religious, and left for Somalia at the age of 17, when he was only one year away from graduating high school. He was determined to join the fight in Somalia, but only made it there on his second try: Hassan and an accomplice had previously attempted to purchase tickets to Africa but a mosque volunteer had caught wind of their plans and stopped them from leaving.

Hassan was part of a much larger group of Shabaab recruits and was charged under an indictment of 13 other American jihadists. In his book, Networks and Network Analysis for Defense and Security, Anthony J. Masys writes that Hassan was a peripheral member of a network of nearly two dozen Shabaab-related individuals from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-mysterious-american-isis-recruiter-may-have-played-a-role-in-the-texas-attack-2015-5#ixzz3ZOneLz7M

U.S puts up big bounty for Isil leadership .

The U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program is offering rewards for information on four key leaders of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Secretary of State has authorized rewards of up to $7 million for information on ‘Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli; up to $5 million each for information on Abu Mohammed al-Adnani and Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili; and up to $3 million for information on Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi.

Established in 2004 as “al-Qaida in Iraq” and later known as the “Islamic State of Iraq,” ISIL has recruited thousands of followers from across the globe to fight in Iraq and Syria, where ISIL members continue to commit gross, systematic human rights abuses, including mass executions, persecution of individuals and entire communities on the basis of their identity, killing and maiming of children, rape, and numerous other atrocities.

In April 2013, ISIL’s current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Du’a, publicly declared that the Islamic State of Iraq was operating under the moniker of ISIL. ISIL has since asserted publicly that it is the true inheritor of Usama bin Ladin’s legacy.

‘Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli is a senior ISIL official who rejoined ISIL following his release from prison in early 2012. He traveled to Syria where he has worked with an ISIL network. He originally joined al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) in 2004 and served as AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s deputy and as AQI emir of Mosul, Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Qaduli as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 on May 14, 2014.

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, whose birth name is Taha Sobhi Falaha, is a senior leader of and official spokesman for ISIL. He is the main conduit for the dissemination of ISIL messages, including its declaration of ISIL’s creation of an Islamic caliphate. In public statements, al-Adnani has repeatedly called for attacks against Westerners and has vowed “defeat” for the United States. The U.S. Department of State designated al-Adnani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on August 18, 2014.

Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili has served as a senior ISIL commander and Shura Council member. Batirashvili has overseen an ISIL prison facility in al-Tabqa where ISIL possibly held foreign hostages, has worked closely with ISIL’s financial section, and has managed ISIL operations in the Manbij area of Syria. In May 2013, he was appointed ISIL’s northern commander of operations in Syria’s Aleppo, al-Raqqah, Latakia, and northern Idlib provinces. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Batirashvili as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 24, 2014.

Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi was one of the first terrorists to join ISIL and has served as an ISIL official operating in Syria. He has helped to raise funds from Gulf-based donors for ISIL and has recruited and facilitated the travel of ISIL fighters. He was named ISIL’s leader for the border region between Syria and Turkey. As of late 2013, al-Harzi was chief of ISIL’s suicide bombers, overseeing ISIL’s suicide bomber facilitation pipeline. Al-Harzi also has procured and shipped weapons from Libya and Syria for ISIL operations in Iraq. On September 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Harzi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

More information about these individuals is located on the Rewards for Justice website at www.rewardsforjustice.net. We encourage anyone with information on these individuals to contact the Rewards for Justice office via the website, e-mail (info@rewardsforjustice.net), phone (1-800-877-3927), or mail (Rewards for Justice, Washington, D.C., 20520-0303, USA). All information will be kept strictly confidential.

The Rewards for Justice program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Since its inception in 1984, the program has paid in excess of $125 million to more than 80 people who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rewards4Justice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tensions ramp up near Yemen as Iran sends warships

Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, state media reported, establishing a military presence off the coast of Yemen where Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement.

The Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel sailed from Bandar Abbas on a mission to protect Iranian shipping from piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in comments cited by Press TV.

Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies have imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen as part of a two-week campaign to oust the Houthis, who have taken most of the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.

Iran has condemned the campaign and called for dialogue. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing military support to the Houthis, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

The Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, and the Red Sea, Sayyari said. The area is one of the world's most important shipping routes and a gateway between Europe and the Middle East

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Man killed one injured trying to ram NSA gate at Ft Meade .

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The warnings are strong and security is always tight, but most drivers are versed in the daily routine as thousands of employees and contractors stream through the closely guarded entrance to the National Security Agency.

The ordinary start to the work week came to a violent halt Monday, though, when two men dressed as women and driving in a stolen, dark-colored SUV ignored officers' orders at the gate to the spy agency headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland. Police fired on the SUV, which then rammed into a police vehicle. One suspect was killed. The second suspect was injured, as well as a police officer.

Whether the pair wanted to breach the perimeter or the driver was desperate and confused in a security-sensitive area only added to the mystery of the officer-involved shooting.

The FBI's Baltimore field office said it was investigating the "shooting incident."

"The shooting scene is contained and we do not believe it is related to terrorism," spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said in a statement.

The bureau declined to comment on the conditions of the second suspect and officer, except to say they were being treated at a local hospital.

Authorities say the cross-dressing men stole the SUV Monday morning from a hotel in Jessup, Maryland, and ended up about seven miles away at the NSA gate at Fort Meade, a sprawling Army post.

"The driver failed to obey an NSA Police officer's routine instructions for safely exiting the secure campus," Jonathan Freed, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement. The vehicle failed to stop, then "accelerated toward an NSA Police vehicle blocking the road. NSA Police fired at the vehicle when it refused to stop. The unauthorized vehicle crashed into the NSA Police vehicle."

Images from the scene showed emergency workers loading a uniformed police officer into an ambulance. Nearby were the dark-colored SUV and a white SUV emblazoned with "NSA Police," both heavily damaged.

"The incident has been contained and is under investigation," Army Col. Brian Foley, the Fort Meade garrison commander, said in a statement. "The residents, service members and civilian employees on the installation are safe. We continue to remain vigilant at all of our access control points."

The men were dressed as women, said a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing case.

Investigators have not determined how the man driving the stolen car died.

The SUV was stolen Monday morning, said Mary Phelan, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department. She declined to name the hotel, citing the ongoing investigation, or release any further details, referring all questions to the FBI.

The FBI is investigating and working with the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland to determine if federal charges are warranted, Thoreson said.

It's not the first time someone has disobeyed orders at an NSA gate. In July, a man failed to obey an NSA officer's command to stop as he approached a checkpoint. The man drove away, injuring an NSA officer and nearly striking a barricade. He was later arrested and is awaiting trial on federal charges.

Earlier this month, police captured a man accused of firing at a building on the NSA campus. The man, who was also accused of shooting at vehicles, told police he heard voices.

Fort Meade is home to the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. About 11,000 military personnel and about 29,000 civilian employees work on the property.

 The NSA's presence is visible, with large satellite dishes and glass and steel buildings rising from the tree line. Chain-link fences marked with restricted access signs and topped with barbed wire run along the perimeter of the campus. Posted signs inform drivers of various exits for the NSA and Fort Meade, including one for deliveries, another for a visitors' center and one designated for employees.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sikorsky assembling second S-97 Raider

SOURCE: Sikorsky has begun final assembly of its second S-97 Raider prototype compound helicopter. Sikorsky is campaigning the S-97 in the Pentagon's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program as part of the Defense Department's Future Vertical Lift initiative to develop future helicopter technologies. Sikorsky is funding 75 percent of S-97 costs with the remainder being contributed by supplier partners including Aurora Flight Sciences, builder of the aircraft's fuselage. The 220-knot S-97 features a coaxial main rotor system and an aft thruster and is based on Sikorsky's experimental X2 design. The S-97 is designed to replace current armed reconnaissance rotorcraft. The first S-97 is currently undergoing powered ground testing in expectation of a first flight later this year. The second prototype will be used for customer demonstration flights.

Ground testing on the first prototype began in February at Sikorsky's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sikorsky rolled that aircraft out in October and has successfully completed software qualification testing, component fatigue testing, and gearbox testing. Ground testing includes verifying the propulsion system, drive train, rotor control system, and pilot-vehicle interface with the aircraft tied down.

Sikorsky is developing other technologies that could eventually find their way onto the Raider. They include the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) for the Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Sikorsky recently announced it had received an $8 million DARPAcontract for Phase 1 of the program designed to develop and insert new automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced crew. Sikorsky plans to leverage its Matrix Technology to test and field systems and software that significantly improve the capability, reliability, and safety for autonomous, optionally piloted VTOL aircraft by adding systems intelligence to rotary and fixed wing aircraft to enable them to complete complex missions with “minimal human oversight.”

Sikorsky is partnering with the United Technologies Research Center, the National Robotics Engineering Center, and Veloxiti, Inc. to demonstrate the value of applying autonomous technology to a variety of different aircraft including the UH-60 Black Hawk.

Sikorsky fitted an S-76 with fly-by-wire controls and Matrix in 2013 to create the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft (SARA) flying test lab used for rapid testing of software and hardware. Working with the U.S. Army in 2014, Sikorsky used a UH-60 modified for autonomous flight as part of the Manned Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) programa

Friday, February 13, 2015

ISIS fails in suicide attack on US air base in Iraq

stock photo 

WASHINGTON — Several Islamic State fighters who led a suicide attack on an air base where US and coalition forces are training Iraqi forces were killed by Iraqi troops, the Pentagon said Friday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said an estimated 20 to 25 Islamic State militants were involved in the attack on al-Asad air base in Anbar province. He said the attack was led by “at least several” suicide bombers, some of whom managed to detonate their bombs before they were killed by Iraqi troops.

No Iraqi or US troops were killed or wounded, Kirby said.

Kirby also said Islamic State fighters had taken control of al-Baghdadi, a town near the al-Asad air base. He said this represented “the first (time) in at least a couple of months, if not more, where they have had any success in taking any new ground.”

Kirby said it was not clear whether the attackers at al-Asad managed to penetrate the perimeter of the base, which is a sprawling series of compounds. “Information is still coming in,” he said, which may clarify some details.

There are about 400 US troops at the base, but Kirby said none of the Americans was involved in the fighting. Another Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steven Warren, said the US troops were about two miles away, in a different section of the base.

US unmanned surveillance aircraft and Army Apache attack helicopters were sent to the scene from Baghdad, but the attack was over before they arrived, so they did not engage in fighting, Warren said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Forbes reeling after target hack by Chinese ...

(Reuters) - The Forbes.com financial news site was infected by Chinese hackers with spying software that targeted specific visitors, including those at U.S. financial services and defense firms, according to two cybersecurity firms.

The hackers infected Forbes.com in November with software that automatically attacked visitors by exploiting security flaws in Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser and Adobe Systems Inc's Flash software, cybersecurity firms iSight Partners Inc and Invincea Inc said on Tuesday.

The firms said they only had a limited view into the attacks based on customer data and other intelligence.

They said they only identified a few organizations in the defense and financial services sectors that were targeted and declined to identify them. They also said they did not know if the hackers had succeeding in stealing any data, though they believed other visitors to Forbes.com were affected.

Forbes.com is the most popular website known to be compromised as part of an espionage campaign, according to iSight researcher John Hultquist. Previous cyberattacks on popular websites have involved malware used by criminals, not spies, he said.

Espionage campaigns typically target smaller websites catering to targeted communities using a technique known as a "watering hole" attack, Hultquist said. For example, hackers looking to spy on aerospace firms have been known to infect sites of associations and news blogs that focus on the industry.

Forbes.com spokeswoman Laura Daunis said in a statement on Tuesday that the company on Dec. 1 identified an "incident" that occurred on Nov. 28.

"A file had been modified on a system related to the Forbes website," she said. "Forbes took immediate actions to remediate the incident. The investigation has found no indication of additional or ongoing compromise." She declined to elaborate.

ISight said it believed a Chinese group known as Codoso, or Sunshop, was responsible for attacking Forbes, based on evidence including use of common infrastructure with previous attacks.

The firm said it believes the group was responsible for similar recent attacks on a think tank site, Cefc.com.hk, as well as Turkkonseyi.com and Gokbayrak.com, which focus on issues of interest to China's Uighur and Turkic minorities.

Codoso is responsible for attacks dating back to 2010 on the energy and financial services sectors, government agencies, dissidents and think tanks, according to iSight.

Microsoft released an update on Tuesday to fix the bug in Internet Explorer. Adobe released a Flash update in December to fix that vulnerability.

Forbes.com, which said it had about 33 million unique visitors in September, is majority owned by Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments.

Monday, January 12, 2015

CentCom twitter feeds hacked by group claiming to be sympathizers of the Isis

A US military Twitter feed appears to have been hacked by people claiming to be sympathizers of the Isis militant group.

In a disturbing demonstration of the vulnerability of the American government’s cyber networks, a group claiming association with the Islamic State gate-crashed the Twitter account of Central Command, also known as CentCom, and began posting internal information including personal details of retired senior officers.

Identifying themselves as the Cyber Caliphate, the infiltrators seized Central Command’s Twitter account at about 12.30 pm eastern time on Monday and began posting assorted messages including threats to US military personnel. They said the hacking operation was part of a so-called ‘CyberJihad’.

Among messages seen by anyone following the account was, “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS”. As well as posting direct messages and threats, the group used the incursion to post images of documents containing what appeared to be sensitive Pentagon information as well as links to other sites where more information was available for download.

However it wasn’t clear if those documents had been stolen as a result of an earlier, successful hack into Pentagon servers or if they were in fact already publicly available. A US Defence Department official told Reuters that nothing in the trove of information being made available was classified.

Friday, January 9, 2015

MI5 warns mass casualty attacks against the West are looming.

SOURCE: Andrew Parker, Director General of Britain’s intelligence sector MI5, has issued a statement to the media that “mass casualty attacks against the West” are being planned by “a group of core al-Qaida terrorists in Syria.” As the tragic terrorist situation in Paris continues to unfold, Parker has warned that transport networks and iconic landmarks in Western countries were central to “complex and ambitious plots” by Syria-based extremists. His speech and its message were scheduled prior to the Paris attacks, and its unfolding has added considerable weight to his announcement.

With the world’s eye being trained on movements of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, more focus has been zeroing in on Syria. The UK official reported that “a significant proportion” of British citizens, believed to number over 600 people, have traveled to the area with the intention of joining the jihadists. Not all extremists have left the country, however, and some have been encouraged to launch attacks against the nation. So far, three known Islamic terrorist plots on British citizens have been stopped by security services in recent months.

Al-Qaida has become a house hold name in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, but since the death of Osama Bin-Laden in 2011, the group has seemed to recede into the background. Parker wants to highlight the group is still very much active, and still very dangerous. Al-Qaida-based terrorist cells are reportedly planning several large-scale aviation bombing and mass shooting attacks against the UK and other Western nations. Parker was believed to be referring to the Khorasan Group, made up of veteran al-Qaida members. According to intelligence assessments, many Pakistani members of the cell have appeared in Syria, lending authorities to believe the threat of mass attacks to be a very real possibility.

Read more HERE


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