Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Do new revelations about latest Pentagon UFO study rule out extraterrestrial contact in the past?

cick to read more

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.

Working with Mr. Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company, the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift.Continue reading the main story

Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft — including one released in August of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

Two other former senators and top members of a defense spending subcommittee — Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat — also supported the program. Mr. Stevens died in 2010, and Mr. Inouye in 2012.

While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said. But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”


Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Project Maven Is Already Hunting Terrorists

DEFENSE ONE: After less than eight months of development, the algorithms are helping intel analysts exploit drove video over the battlefield.

Earlier this month at an undisclosed location in the Middle East, computers using special algorithms helped intelligence analysts identify objects in a video feed from a small ScanEagle drone over the battlefield.

A few days into the trials, the computer identified objects — people, cars, types of building — correctly about 60 percent of the time. Just over a week on the job — and a handful of on-the-fly software updates later — the machine’s accuracy improved to around 80 percent. Next month, when its creators send the technology back to war with more software and hardware updates, they believe it will become even more accurate.

It’s an early win for a small team of just 12 people who started working on the project in April. Over the next year, they plan to expand the project to help automate the analysis of video feeds coming from large drones — and that’s just the beginning.

“What we’re setting the stage for is a future of human-machine teaming,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T.“Jack” Shanahan, director for defense intelligence for warfighter support, the Pentagon general who is overseeing the effort. Shanahan believes the concept will revolutionize the way the military fights.

“This is not machines taking over,” he said. “This is not a technological solution to a technological problem. It’s an operational solution to an operational problem.”

Called Project Maven, the effort right now is focusing on helping U.S. Special Operations Command intelligence analysts identify objects in video from small ScanEagle drones.

In coming months, the team plans to put the algorithms in the hands of more units with smaller tactical drones, before expanding the project to larger, medium-altitude Predator and Reaper drones by next summer.

Shanahan characterized the initial deployment this month as “prototype warfare” — meaning that officials had tempered expectations. Over the course of about eight days, the team refined the algorithm, six times.

“This is maybe one of our most impressive achievements is the idea of refinement to the algorithm,” Shanahan said.

Think of it as getting a new update to a smartphone application every day, each time improving its performance.

Before it deployed the technology, the team trained the algorithms using thousands of hours of archived battlefield video captured by drones in the Middle East. As it turned out, the data was different from the region where the Project Maven team deployed.

“Once you deploy it to a real location, it’s flying against a different environment than it was trained on,” Shanahan said. “Still works of course … but it’s just different enough in this location, say that there’s more scrub brush or there’s fewer buildings or there’s animals running around that we hadn’t seen in certain videos. That is why it’s so important in the first five days of a real-world deployment to optimize or refine the algorithm.”

While the algorithm is trained to identify people, vehicles and installations, it occasionally mischaracterizes an object. It’s then up to the intel analyst to correct the machine, thus helping it learning.

The team has paired the Maven algorithm with a system called Minotaur, a Navy and Marine Corps “correlation and georegistration application.” As Shanahan describes it, Maven has the algorithm, which puts boxes on the video screen, classifying an object and then tracking it. Then using Minotaur, it gets a georegistration of the coordinates, essentially displaying the location of the object on a map.

That’s new, it’s different and it’s much needed for an analyst because this was all being done manually in the past,” the general said.

“Having those things together is really increasing situational awareness and starts the process of giving analysts a little bit of time back — which we hope will become a lot of time back over time — rather than just having to stay glued to the video screen,” Shanahan said.

After the Predator and Reaper video feeds get the algorithms, the plan is to put them to work on Gorgon Stare, a sophisticated, high-tech series of cameras carried by a Reaper drone that can view entire towns.

“When you look at the data labeling that has to go on, the algorithms that have to be trained and refined, that’s really what I would call the PhD-level problem that we have up next,” Shanahan said of pairing the algorithms with Gorgon Stare.

Right now, the algorithms reside in the computers that receive the video from the drones. At some point down the road, the goal is to put the technology “at the edge” on the drones themselves as well.

“The combination of those two is very powerful,” Shanahan said. “We see redundancy as important in a future world in which you may lose the ability to communicate back to big enterprises in the United States.”

The algorithms use commercial technology, which has allowed the project to move quickly — lightning fast by government standards.

“We are not trying to do something over in the department that is already being done incredibly successfully in the commercial world,” Shanahan said.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work stood up the project in April. Two months later, they received funding from Congress and six months later the first algorithms were used on the battlefield, delivering on a promise to reach combat by year’s end.

“We are learning lessons every day for the first time about how do you actually integrate AI into Department of Defense operationally fielded programs, not research and development, not test beds, but capabilities that are being used by warfighters day in and day out,” Shanahan said.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

DOE sheds light on why a suspended agent still had access to nukes.


A report, once closed to the public, sheds more light on a security mishap at the federal agency responsible for transporting nuclear weapons across the United States.

The Department of Energy inspector general inspection report, released to E&E News under a Freedom of Information Act request made more than two years ago, provides fresh detail on a troubling incident from 2011. It centered on a suspended agent with the Office of Secure Transportation (OST) gaining "unauthorized access" to a nuclear weapons storage area.

The 19-page document — its "OFFICIAL USE ONLY" classification crossed out, lined with redactions under FOIA exemptions for privacy and law enforcement matters — describes a July 14, 2011, episode when the OST agent inappropriately gained access to a secure facility.

The agent was "not weapons qualified" and had been temporarily removed from OST's Human Reliability Program (HRP), which is "designed to ensure that those who meet the highest standards of reliability, physical and mental suitability can gain access to nuclear weapons," according to the updated IG report, which is dated September 2015.

The agent gained inappropriate access to the weapons storage area primarily because he chose to disregard "specific orders" not to take part in duties that required certification under the HRP. OST officials, however, indicated to the IG's investigators that the suspended agent never had "unescorted access" to the weapons storage area.

It took until July 20, 2011, to officially launch an investigation into the security incident. That is contrary to DOE policy that says a probe of a suspected breach should be initiated within 24 hours, according to the IG.

"Characterization and review of this incident was not initiated in a timely manner," said the report.

In addition, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages OST, could not provide evidence to investigators that it officially notified "the customer agency" that a suspended agent had unauthorized access to its facility — again, not in line with department policy.

Along with reviewing allegations focused on the suspended agent, the IG also received two complaints with similar concerns, including charges of "questionable management practices" by OST officials in Amarillo, Texas, one of the agency's command posts.

The mission of OST agents is one of the most sensitive in the federal government. They drive modified tractor-trailer trucks with armed escorts to shuttle nuclear weapons and their components from DOE facilities and military bases dotted across the country.

The report had an ominous warning for OST that uncertified agents could gain access to nuclear weapons unless the agency acts.

"Unless OST takes actions to ensure that agents without active HRP certifications are clearly identified on [redacted] the risk remains that an agent who lacks required certifications could improperly gain access to certain materials, nuclear explosive devices, facilities, and programs," said the report.

The inspector general also found that certain OST officials knew the agent in question was suspended and appealed to an individual — whose identifying information is redacted in the report — to intervene. That person told investigators he didn't intervene partly because he had already ordered the agent not to enter the secure facility.

The IG had several recommendations for the nuclear transport agency, such as making sure all OST personnel know their obligations to report security incidents, drafting written policies on how to handle such incidents and ensuring that only agents with HRP certification are on missions.

Management agreed with those recommendations and took action to fix those issues, according to the IG.

In response to written questions, Greg Wolf, an NNSA spokesman, provided a statement to E&E News.

"OST works diligently to ensure a safe, secure working environment in which all employees are treated with respect, and updates policies and procedures as needed so that issues or concerns — such as those in this report — are swiftly resolved," Wolf said. "As this report indicates, NNSA took corrective action in response to the 2011 incident. The HRP program is only one element of a comprehensive approach to ensuring the safety and security of OST operations."

The NNSA spokesman noted, "No nuclear facilities or material were damaged or otherwise put at risk as a result of the incident."

He added: "NNSA cannot comment further on the details of the 2011 incident due to operational security and the privacy of personnel."
Report initially withdrawn

The inspector general's initial report on the breach at the nuclear weapons facility came under scrutiny from NNSA.

The IG issued a summary of its investigation in September 2014. But within months, NNSA questioned the accuracy of parts of the report, and the DOE watchdog also received another complaint that raised issues about the report's accuracy.

The IG then decided to remove the report and put it under internal review. The report was then updated, and a summary of its findings was released in September 2015 while the full report remained closed to the public until its release to E&E News.

The nuclear transport agency has had a history of problems catalogued by the inspector general.

A November 2014 report by the IG, also obtained by E&E News under FOIA, found that over a decade, OST agents were repeatedly getting into fights with each other. One squad commander in Oak Ridge, Tenn., another of the agency's command posts, was alleged to have threatened to kill an OST official (Greenwire, April 1, 2015).

The IG also uncovered OST agents getting drunk while on duty.

The DOE watchdog said in one memo issued in November 2010 that there were 16 incidents involving OST personnel and alcohol between 2007 and 2009. One OST agent was arrested for public intoxication in 2007, and two agents were handcuffed and detained by police after an incident in a local bar in 2009.

Wolf said despite past problems, OST agents are prepared extensively for their serious job.

"The personnel of NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation (OST) are an elite force of highly trained national security personnel. Due to the sensitive and demanding nature of their work, OST agents are subject to rigorous security and safety standards," said the NNSA spokesman.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Trump statement confirms capture of Mustafa al-Imam

A statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Apprehension of Mustafa al-Imam for His Alleged Role in the September 11, 2012 Attacks in Benghazi, Libya Resulting in the Deaths of Four Americans

"Yesterday, on my orders, United States forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya. Because of this successful operation, al-Imam will face justice in the United States for his alleged role in the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods—four brave Americans who were serving our country.

To the families of these fallen heroes: I want you to know that your loved ones are not forgotten, and they will never be forgotten.

Our memory is deep and our reach is long, and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice.

I want to thank our law enforcement, prosecutors, intelligence community, and military personnel for their extraordinary efforts in gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and tracking down fugitives associated with the attack, capturing them, and delivering them to the United States for prosecution.

The United States will continue to support our Libyan partners to ensure that ISIS and other terrorist groups do not use Libya as a safe haven for attacks against United States citizens or interests, Libyans, and others.

Libya’s long-term stability and security are linked to its ability to form a unified government and military, and we encourage all Libyans to support the ongoing reconciliation process facilitated by the United Nations and to work together to build a peaceful and stable country."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Is SKYNET here? USAF developing a cephanpoloidal nervous system.

Leaders of the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines are converging on a vision of the future military: connecting every asset on the global battlefield.

That means everything from F-35 jets overhead to the destroyers on the sea to the armor of the tanks crawling over the land to the multiplying devices in every troops’ pockets. Every weapon, vehicle, and device connected, sharing data, constantly aware of the presence and state of every other node in a truly global network. The effect: an unimaginably large cephapoloidal nervous system armed with the world’s most sophisticated weaponry.

In recent months, the Joint Chiefs of Staff put together the newest version of their National Military Strategy. Unlike previous ones, it is classified. But executing a strategy requiring buy-in and collaboration across the services. In recent months, at least two of the service chiefs talked openly about the strikingly similar direction that they are taking their forces. Standing before a sea of dark- blue uniforms at a September Air Force Association event in Maryland, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he had “refined” his plans for the Air Force after discussions with the Joint Chiefs “as part of the creation of the classified military strategy.”

The future for the Air Force? The service needed to be more like a certain electric-car manufacturer.

“Every Tesla car is connected to every other Tesla car,” said Goldfein, referring to a presentation by Elon Musk about the ways his firm’s vehicles learn from their collective experience. “If a Tesla is headed down the road and hits a pothole, every Tesla that’s behind it that’s self-driving, it will avoid the pothole, immediately. If you’re driving the car, it automatically adjusts your shocks in case you hit it, too.”
What would the world look like… If we looked at the world through a lens of a network as opposed to individual platforms?

Goldfein waxed enthusiastically about how Tesla was able to remotely increase the battery capacity of cars in the U.S.Southeast to facilitate evacuationbefore the recent hurricanes.

“What would the world look like if we connected what we have in that way? If we looked at the world through a lens of a network as opposed to individual platforms, electronic jamming shared immediately, avoided automatically? Every three minutes, a mobility aircraft takes off somewhere on the planet. Platforms are nodes in a network,” the Air Force chief said.

The idea borrows from the “network centric warfare” concept that seized the military imagination more than a decade ago. But what leaders are today describing is larger by orders of magnitude. It’s less a strategy for integrating multiple networks into operations more efficiently than a plan to stitch everything, networks within networks, into a single web. The purpose: better coordinated, faster, and more lethal operations in air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.

So the Air Force is making broad investments in data sharing. Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Crider, the service’s first data officer, issetting up a series of experimental tests in the Nevada desert at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, seeking to better understand “what happens when we actually connect into this resilient and agile network” said Goldfein. The Air Force’s current experimentation with next-generation light tactical attack aircraft are as much about hardware as networks, he said. “Not only what can I buy and what can they do, but more importantly, can they connect? Can they actually share? And can we tie it to a new network that’s based on sharable information that gets me beyond the challenges I have right now in terms of security?”

The Air Force is also fielding new connected devices. The handheld “Android Tactical Assault kit” or ATAK, designed with special operations forces, provides a common operational picture of everything going on — basically, doing what a huge command-and-control station used to do a few years ago. “What we determined was that there were so many devices on the battlefield that had information that we weren’t collecting. Rather than build a system to pull that in, we actually went to a commercial entity and they created an algorithm. It’s user-defined and it pulls in whatever data you need and puts it on Google Maps,” said Goldfein.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Classified aircraft crashes - pilot killed

LIEUTENANT Colonel Eric Schults died from injuries sustained after the military aircraft he was flying crashed on Tuesday.

The US Air Force won’t reveal what aircraft he was flying.

It also took authorities three days before publicly announcing his death.

Both elements are highly unusual, especially given it came a day before two A-10C Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft crashed on the same weapons testing range. Both pilots managed to eject to safety.

“Information about the type of aircraft involved is classified and not releasable,” Major Christina Sukach, chief of public affairs for the 99 Air Base Wing at Nellis, told

UPDATE: AVWK: Fatal Nevada Crash Involved Foreign Aircraft Type

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

LOS ANGELES—A Sept. 5 accident at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) that killed a U.S. Air Force test pilot appears to have involved a foreign aircraft type operated by the service’s secretive Red Hat squadron.

Monday, September 4, 2017

North Korea Claims to have detonated Hydrogen Bomb

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s claim of a successful hydrogen bomb test marks a major step in the isolated country’s long-stated goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that puts the U.S. mainland within range, experts say.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was a successful detonation of an advanced hydrogen bomb, technically known as a two-stage thermonuclear device.

All of North Korea’s six nuclear tests including the one on Sunday have taken place at its underground testing site in Punggye-ri, deep in mountainous terrain, and it is hard to independently verify the claims.

But experts who studied the impact of the earthquake caused by the explosion - measured by the U.S. Geological Survey at magnitude 6.3 - said there was enough strong evidence to suggest the reclusive state has either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting very close.

The detonation produced 10 times more power than the fifth nuclear test a year ago, South Korean and Japanese officials said. NORSAR, a Norwegian earthquake monitoring agency, estimated the yield at 120 kilotons, significantly above the 15 kiloton “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the 20 kiloton “Fat Man” dropped on Nagasaki at the end of World War Two.

“That scale is to the level where anyone can say (it is) a hydrogen bomb test,” said Kune Y. Suh, a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University.

“North Korea has effectively established itself as a nuclear state. This is not just a game changer, it’s a game over,” Suh said.

Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of nuclear test ban watchdog CTBTO, said: “The physics of the event that we’re talking about today seems to indicate a much larger event than the one from 2016 and before.”

North Korea claims its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) tested twice in July can reach large parts of the mainland United States.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bell V-280 Valor engine tests begin ...

Photo by Steve Douglass 
Anyone driving to Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo, Texas  might have seen this odd looking site a Bell V280 Tiltrotor prototype being attached to an engine test stand in front of the Bell Helicopter/Textron Plant.

The Bell V-280 Valor is a third-generation tilt-rotor aircraft being developed by Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army's Future Vertical Lift program and is in the running to replace the aging military UH-60 Sikorsky helicopter. 

Photo by Steve Douglass 

Photo by Steve Douglass

Monday, August 28, 2017

BREAKING; North Korea fires missiles over Japan - warnings go out.

South Korea's military said Kim's regime fired the "unidentified projectile" from Pyongyang towards the sea at 5:57am local time.
The government's J-Alert warning system advised people in the area to take precautions.
But public broadcaster NHK said there was no sign of damage and the Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile.
It passed over Japanese territory around 6:06 am local time, officials said.
Kim has sparked fury throughout the world this year by ramping up his missile programme and continuing to threaten the United States.
Donald Trump brought tensions with the North Korea to a new height as he outright threatened "fire and fury" against Pyongyan

Friday, August 11, 2017

China to North Korea: You are on your own ...

BEIJING — China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.

The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy, experts said.

China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that idea Friday.

[Trump ramps up rhetoric: U.S. forces “locked and loaded”]

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.”
In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Thewarning comes at the end of a week of threats and counterthreats between Washington and Pyongyang, and as the United States weighs its options to deal with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
The brinkmanship weighed on world financial markets for a fourth consecutive day. Main indexes were down in Frankfurt and Paris, and London’s FTSE 100 touched its lowest level since May. Asian markets also slumped, including South Korea’s KOSPI, dropping 1.8 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was largely flat after the opening bell.
On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang in turn threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles

Monday, August 7, 2017

DOD: Drones flying over military bases can now be shot down

DEFENSE TECH.ORG: The Defense Department has formally given guidance to all U.S. military installations on how best to address drones they deem a threat — including shooting them down.

“Protecting our force remains a top priority,” DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in a statement Monday. “That is why the Department of Defense issued very specific, but classified, policies that detail how DoD personnel may counter the unmanned aircraft threat to personnel, vital facilities, and critical assets.”

Davis said the policy itself is not new, as it is based off language enacted in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The NDAA is the basis for most of this,” he told “The newness of it is that we’re providing guidance to the local installation commander to craft their public affairs guidance.”

Language in Section 1697 of the NDAA, “Protection of Certain Facilities and Assets from Unmanned Aircraft,” amended Chapter 3 of U.S. Code Title 10, according to budget documents.

Through Section 130i, it gave the department the authority “to take certain actions with respect to unmanned aircraft systems, including using reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy them,” a defense official told on Monday.

“We won’t go into the specific rules for the use of force; however, we retain the right and obligation to act in self-defense,” the defense official said, reiterating the DoD’s latest stance.

The official added, “We never discuss that because then hobbyists or [those who intend harm] will know how to push the limits.”

Section 1697 offers additional help to specific missions across the Pentagon. For example, protection for the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear mission is highlighted under the bill.

The bill’s language says the defense secretary may authorize armed forces to take action to mitigate threats posed to “the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.”

The meaning behind “covered facility” is broken down even further.

According to the bill, “The term ‘covered facility or asset’ means any facility or asset that a) is identified by the Secretary of Defense for purposes of this section; b) is located in the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States); and c) relates to — 1) the nuclear deterrence mission of the Department of Defense, including with respect to nuclear command and control, integrated tactical warning and attack assessment, and continuity of government; 2) the missile defense mission of the Department; or 3) the national security space mission of the Department.”

Some Air Force leaders have been outspoken about the issue, asking for even more specific language as it pertains to their bases.

In July, Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mike Holmes told audiences that he wished for more authority to mitigate pesky hobbyists bothering ACC bases for fear they may become a bigger hazard.

Holmes said ACC tracked two incidents earlier this summer in which small drones disturbed operations at ACC, including one in which a drone almost collided with an F-22 Raptor.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

BREAKING: US convoy attacked two dead

ABC NEWS: Two U.S. service members died after their convoy came under attack in Afghanistan.
According to a U.S. official, the convoy was on a routine training, advisement and assistance mission when it was attacked. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.
"I can confirm that two U.S. service members were killed in action in Kandarhar, Afghanistan, when their convoy came under attack," said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. "U.S. Forces Afghanistan will provide additional information as it becomes available."
A statement from Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan said the attack was on a NATO convoy.
ABC News' Stephanie Ramos contributed to this report.


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A Taliban suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a NATO convoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Wednesday, killing two American soldiers, the Pentagon said.

Zia Durani, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, said the convoy came under attack when it was traveling in the area of Shorandam, which lies on the main road from Kandahar Airfield, one of the largest American bases in the country.

“The area is cordoned off by the coalition forces,” Mr. Durani said. “We are not aware of their casualties.”

An initial statements said there had been casualties among the convoy. Later, a Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, confirmed that two Americans had been killed.

At the scene of the attack, at least four helicopters landed to evacuate the casualties, and firefighters arrived to extinguish one of the armored vehicles that was in flames. Local officials said two coalition force members had been killed and three wounded.

Friday, July 28, 2017


BBC: North Korea has conducted a new intercontinental ballistic missile test, South Korea and the Pentagon say.

The missile reached an altitude of about 3,000km (1,865 miles) and landed in the sea off Japan, the Japanese national broadcaster NHK said.

It comes three weeks after North Korea's first ICBM test.

The latest missile flew higher and for longer than the one in early July and has been condemned by a number of countries.

The test - the 14th carried out by North Korea in 2017 - is the latest to be conducted in defiance of a UN ban.

The latest missile was launched at 23:41 North Korea time (15:41 GMT) from Jagang province in the north of the country, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Korean missile launches at night are rare.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for about 45 minutes - some six minutes longer than the ICBM tested in early July.

He said it landed in the sea in Japan's exclusive economic zone - not within Japan's territorial waters.

NHK said it reached an altitude of about 3,000km - about 200km higher than the previous ICBM.

The range of North Korea's ICBM has been disputed.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, said that initial indications showed the latest missile had a range of about 10,000km - far enough to strike the west coast of the United States and beyond.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Declassified memo reveals Obama's NSA improper domestic spying


The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department's national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn't due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.

The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program.

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching the NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect Americans' identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

The NSA also admitted it was slow in some cases to notify fellow intelligence agencies when it wrongly disseminated information about Americans. The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days, the memos show.

U.S. intelligence officials directly familiar with the violations told The Hill that the memos confirm that the intelligence agencies have routinely policed, fixed and self-disclosed to the nation's intelligence court thousands of minor procedural and more serious privacy infractions that have impacted both Americans and foreigners alike since the warrantless spying program was created by Congress in late 2008.

Alexander Joel, who leads the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency under the director of national intelligence, said the documents chronicle episodes that have been reported to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for years in real time and are a tribute to the multiple layers of oversight inside the intelligence community.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Military wants small drone engagement rules after F-22 near collision

Small, civilian-owned drones can buzz past the US Air Force’s stealthy fighter fleet sitting at domestic bases and the service’s head of Air Combat Command (ACC) has no way to deal with them.

In the course of one day last week, the air force counted two reports of small drones interfering with operations at an ACC base, Gen Mike Holmes told an audience in Washington DC this week. In one incident, a Lockheed Martin F-22 almost collided with a small drone during its final approach and during another, a gate guard watched a drone fly over the top of a gate and tracked the vehicle as it flew over the flight line, Holmes says.

“I have no authority given to me by the government to deal with that,” he says. “Imagine a world where somebody flies a couple hundred of those and flies one down the intake of my F-22s with just a small weapon on it.”

While ACC has no authority to disable or track UAS near its bases, the air force’s nuclear sites are working on getting government approval for deal with gate-crashing drones. Earlier this year, the head of Global Strike Command lamented the complex web of government agencies that must approve a drone defence strategy.

“It’s not a military’s a civil authority that can the be executed by military forces,” Holmes says. “The rules are basically the same as if it were a civil aircraft. If it was a civil aircraft I could track it back to where it started from and I could admonish that pilot or take their license, where the small UAS is really hard to get after.”

The USAF will receive approval for the nuclear bases first and Holmes will request air force headquarters to extend those authorities beyond global strike assets, he says. The USAF has already issued requests for counter drone technologies and industry representatives are vocal about their offerings, but the service still needs to wait for approval.

U.S. State Department has approved a possible $3.9 billion missile defense sale to Romania

The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $3.9 billion missile defense sale to Romania, in a move likely to anger Russia. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Tuesday that it delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the potential sale to NATO member Romania on July 10.

Announcing the deal, the agency said: “The proposed sale of the Patriot system will support Romania’s needs for its own self-defense and support NATO defense goals.”

It added: “Romania will use the Patriot missile system to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the Romanian military to guard against aggression and shield the NATO allies who often train and operate within Romania’s borders. Romania should have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.”

Moscow has previously raised issue with Romania hosting a U.S. missile shield that it said was a threat to Russian security. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned back in May when the Romanian element of the shield was activated that there would be repercussions for the shield, and is unlikely to react well to the U.S.’ missile defense sale to Romania…

Read full post here.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bell 525 Relentless back in the air a year after deadly crash

file photo by Steve Douglass 
AIN ONLINE: Today, a year and a day after the fatal crash of its first prototype, Bell Helicopter resumed the flight test program of its model 525 Relentless super-medium twin after receiving experimental certificate renewal from the FAA.
Today we have resumed a key element of the Bell 525 program,” said Bell CEO Mitch Snyder. “Bell Helicopter has worked with the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA since the accident and we are confident in the resumption of flight test activity.” Snyder said Bell remains on track to certify the 525 in 2018. The 525 features fly-by-wire flight controls and the Garmin G5000H touchscreen-controlled avionics system. The flight test program had been stood down since the fatal crash of 525 flight test vehicle 1 (FTV-1) last July 6th.
Neither of the remaining two test aircraft had engaged in ground runs during the standdown. Two more test aircraft are being built at Bell's plant in Amarillo, Texas. One of those new aircraft is expected to fly this year and the other early next year.
The NTSB has yet to issue its final report on the FTV-1 accident. That aircraft was conducting tests near Vne speeds when the main rotor rpm dropped off and the main rotors departed the normal rotation plane and struck both the tailboom and the nose during the in-flight break-up sequence that destroyed the helicopter, according to the NTSB. A Bell executive told AIN last year that the company was making unspecified modifications to the remaining test aircraft in the wake of the accident.
file photo 
According to FlightRadar24, the helicopter was traveling 199 knots (about 229 mph) at an altitude of 1,975 feet immediately before the crash. Throughout its one-hour test flight, radar data shows the helicopter increased and decreased speed several times.

Bell Helicopter had hoped to complete the certification process for the 525 in 2017, but the crash has delayed certification as well as first deliveries to customers.

“We do remain committed to the 525 program and will work to ensure the aircraft will be a safe, reliable and high-performance helicopter,” said Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly last week. Textron owns Bell Helicopter.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NYTIMES: In North Korea, ‘Surgical Strike’ Could Spin Into ‘Worst Kind of Fighting


SEOUL, South Korea — The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program has long been shaped by the view that the United States has no viable military option to destroy it. Any attempt to do so, many say, would provoke a brutal counterattack against South Korea too bloody and damaging to risk.

That remains a major constraint on the Trump administration’s response even as North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, approaches his goal of a nuclear arsenal capable of striking the United States. On Tuesday, the North appeared to cross a new threshold, testing a weapon that it described as an intercontinental ballistic missile and that analysts said could potentially hit Alaska.

Over the years, as it does for potential crises around the world, the Pentagon has drafted and refined multiple war plans, including an enormous retaliatory invasion and limited pre-emptive attacks, and it holds annual military exercises with South Korean forces based on them.

But the military options are more grim than ever.

Even the most limited strike risks staggering casualties, because North Korea could retaliate with the thousands of artillery pieces it has positioned along its border with the South. Though the arsenal is of limited range and could be destroyed in days, the United States defense secretary, Jim Mattis, recently warned that if North Korea used it, it “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”

Friday, June 23, 2017

Drone crashes in Sierra Nevada moutains

A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk crashed near Mount Whitney in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range at approximately 1:45 p.m. PST yesterday.
No injuries or deaths were reported.
The remotely piloted aircraft was assigned to 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, California, and was on a routine flight from Edwards Air Force Base en route to its home station when it crashed.
The incident is currently under investigation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Is Lockheed's NGAD concept the "Dorito" we photographed over Amarillo, Texas?

This author  can't help but feel a bit of vindication when I saw Lockheed Skunkworks latest update rendition of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) aircraft and it looks a heck of a lot like the mystery "Dorito" our group saw and photographed a few years ago which made national headlines.
The subsequent hub-bub, denials and disinformation put out by the war machine only helped reinforce the idea that what we witnessed was something hush-hush.
I took a lot of heat over this sighting and the photographs which were published in Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine with some internet trolls accusing me of faking the photos and lying and falsifying recorded communications to back up the supposedly hoaxed sighting.
Not to mention it was followed by a very expensive (to the American taxpayer) stunt by the Air Force in what amounted to a dog and pony show - flying three B-2s at low level over Amarillo so they could try and make us doubt what we saw and then officially state (unsolicited mind you) that "B-2s flew over Amarillo." but somehow leaving out the part that it was a month later.
So - from the latest released renditions it looks like the planform of the NGAD matches what we saw. My guess is what we photographed could have been prototypes or technology demonstrators constructed to prove the technology woks.
Still - my enthusiasm is tempered until I'm invited to the roll-out and only then will I truly get to say "I told you it was real."


Monday, June 5, 2017

Charges filed against federal contractor who leaked NSA materials to the media


The Justice Department announced charges Monday against a federal contractor with Top Secret security clearance, after she allegedly leaked classified information to an online media outlet.
Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia, is accused of "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet," according to a federal complaint.

CNN is told by sources that the document Winner allegedly leaked is the same one used as the basis for the article published Monday by The Intercept, detailing a classified National Security Agency memo. The NSA report, dated May 5, provides details of a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a US voting software supplier, though there is no evidence that any votes were affected by the hack.

A US official confirmed to CNN that The Intercept's document is a genuine, classified NSA document.

US intelligence officials tell CNN that the information has not changed the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, which found: "Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying."
Prosecutors say when confronted with the allegations, Winner admitted to intentionally leaking the classified document -- and she was arrested June 3 in Augusta, Georgia.

An internal audit revealed Winner was one of six people who printed the document, but the only one who had email contact with the news outlet, according to the complaint. It further states that the intelligence agency was subsequently contacted by the news outlet on May 30 regarding an upcoming story, saying it was in possession of what appeared to be a classified document.

"Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation's security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement Monday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also slammed leaks last month in the wake of the Manchester attacks, saying: "We have already initiated appropriate steps to address these rampant leaks that undermine our national security."

Brits secretive "Blue Thunder" SAS team responds to London Bridge attack.

A helicopter-borne team of Special Air Service counter terrorism experts landed on London Bridge in the wake of Saturday night’s London attack.
The elite SAS unit nicknamed ‘Blue Thunder’ is understood to have arrived after the attack had been ended by armed police, and sources said they played no role in confronting the three terrorists.

However a small number of special forces soldiers will remain forward deployed in the capital to support police if needed, sources said.

At least one blue Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin helicopter was photographed landing on the bridge after the attack.

A small number of the twin-engine helicopters that can hold up to 12 passengers are operated by the Army Air Corps to ferry around SAS troops.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on special forces operations, but a Whitehall source confirmed the helicopters were carrying SAS troops.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Masked militants attack Cairo Christians

CAIRO -- Masked militants riding in three SUVs opened fire Friday on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including many children, south of the Egyptian capital, killing at least 28 and wounding 22, the Interior Ministry said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The attack came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Local health officials said the attack happened on Friday while the bus was traveling on the road to the St. Samuel Monastery in the Minya governorate, about 140 miles south of the Egyptian capital.

Eyewitnesses told Egyptian media that around 8:45 a.m. local time, about 10 masked men with assault rifles, some dressed in military uniforms, emerged from vehicles and sprayed the bus with bullets.

Some of the gunmen went into the bus and continued to fire on the passengers, many of whom were women and children, according to the witnesses. The attack lasted just a few minutes, after which the attackers fled the scene. They governor of Minya said Egyptian police had launched a manhunt for the attackers and set up roadblocks in the region.

Khaled Mogahed, the Health Ministry spokesman, said the death toll stood at 28 but feared it could rise further. According to Copts United news portal, only three children survived the attack. It was not immediately known if most or all of the victims were children.

In April, ISIS suicide bombers struck hours apart at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt, killing 44 people and turning Palm Sunday services into scenes of horror and outrage at the government that led the president to call for a three-month state of emergency.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BREAKING: Cairo Embassy warned of imminent terror attack.

ABC NEWS: The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a security warning about a potential threat posed by a group it referred to as a "terrorist organization."

"The embassy is aware of a potential threat posted on a website by the Hassm group, a known terrorist organization, suggesting some kind of unspecified action this evening," the embassy said in a security message. "The embassy has no further information about this potential threat but is in contact with Egyptian authorities."

Hassm is described as "a non-Salafi revolutionary jihadist group" that uses "violent insurgency tactics against Egyptian security forces, which they refer to as occupiers," according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a digital database of research and analysis focused on terrorism.

Hasam is a splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist organization and political party, according to TRAC.

The message urges Americans living in Egypt to follow security guidelines provided by the State Department for dealing with possible threats.

"U.S. citizens should continue to follow sound security practices and adhere to the security guidelines provided in the travel warning for Egypt issued by the State Department on Dec. 23, 2016," according to the message.


Monday, May 22, 2017

US State department issues warning after Manchester exp!osion

JUST IN: U.S. Embassy London issues emergency message after Manchester Arena incident urging U.S. citizens "heed guidance from local authorities"

Thursday, May 18, 2017

U.S. airstrike targets pro-Syrian government forces.

ABC NEWS: U.S. officials say an American airstrike has hit pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area.

The officials say the strike near Tanf hit a tank and a bulldozer and forces there, but it was not clear if they were Syrian army troops or other pro-government allies.

One official says the pro-regime forces had entered a so-called "de-confliction" zone without authorization and were perceived as a threat to U.S.-allied troops there. The officials say the strike was a defensive move to protect the U.S. allies. It wasn't clear if U.S. forces were there.

The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

—Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington.

Syrian opposition activists say a suspected coalition airstrike has hit a convoy of pro-government forces in the desert near the border with Jordan.

There was no immediate response from the U.S.-led coalition following the reports. A U.S. official confirmed that an airstrike in southern Syria occurred on Thursday, though it was unclear if Syrian government troops were there. The official was not authorized to talk publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Several Syrian opposition media groups with activists in the area say the airstrike hit a convoy of government troops and allied militiamen on the road to the Tanf area, where Syria's borders with Jordan and Iraq meet.

One opposition media group, the Palmyra News Network, says the attack at the Zarka juncture, about 27 kilometers or 17 miles from the border, destroyed a number of vehicles and caused casualties.

The area has been a source of tensions as both government forces and U.S.-backed rebels advance there. Both the government forces and the rebels are trying to rout Islamic State militants from the area.

The Revolutionary commandoes or Maghaweer al-Thawra, a U.S.-backed group, shared a report about the airstrike on their Twitter account.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin