Monday, December 20, 2021

Black "Project Mayhem" hints at secret hyersonics


AIR FORCE TECH:

Recent tests of the US Air Force’s most recent hypersonic development program, ‘Project Mayhem’ creates a vital avenue for the development of hypersonic aircraft, both military and civilian. The project, under the purview of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is designed as a hypersonic missile – larger than the Air-launched Hypersonic Weapon (ARRW) also under development by the Air Force.

Whilst details on the Mayhem project are scant, its capabilities would be transformative for hypersonic aircraft engines. Existing models of hypersonic aircraft, such as the recently showcased Hermeus project ‘Quarterhorse’, uses a turbine-based combined cycle which they claim is capable of be launched using a conventional General Electric J85 turbojet which pivots to a separate hypersonic engine when it approaches hypersonicspeed. The existing demonstrator displayed by the company, does not show how it will achieve that without accumulating significant drag or weight.

The potential of viable multi-cycle designs is hugely significant for both weapons and aircraft concepts, and unlike existing hypersonic projects – it could produce a vessel that is capable of hypersonic flight and could land afterwards, making it reusable. Whilst this development would be more significant for hypersonic aircraft, it would also have utility for hypersonic missiles – providing them with the capability to adjust between speeds depending on mission requirements.


Flying at hypersonic speeds creates further problems not just with standard aviation fuel solid-fuel rocket systems face challenges in high altitudes where hypersonics typically operate and research is being conducted into advanced fuels to provide wider flammability limits as well as longer ranges. European tests of hypersonic aircraft have used hydrogen as fuel, this is because liquid hydrogen is not as combustible as hydrogen reducing the chances of explosion or fire, but this will incur significant costs compared to traditional fuel.

Multi-cycle engines are an area of increasing investment, with Rolls-Royce working with Reaction engines for combined cycle engines for use on a space-launch ship and DAPRA also has a multi-cycle program under development, titled the Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program. The development of Mayhem has transformative capabilities for hypersonic flight and will likely provide existing programs with the technology needed for flight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Congress Tells Pentagon and Intelligence Community: UFOs Are Serious Business.


DOUGLAS DEAN JOHNSON WASHINGTON– (December 7, 2021, 1:45 PM EST) – With the unveiling today of legislative language already agreed on in negotiations between key lawmakers meeting privately, it is likely that Congress will soon send the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community a set of emphatic statutory commands regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (or UFOs, in common parlance).

The content of the UAP language agreed on by key negotiators from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services committees is being reported and analyzed in detail here for the first time anywhere.

The UAP-related provisions are included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) now being advanced under the bill designated S. 1605. I will sometimes refer to the new UAP text as the "Gillibrand-Rubio-Gallego" language, or "GRG." The UAP-related language is contained in Section 1683, covering 15 pages of bill text. Images of the UAP-related pages appear at the bottom of this article.

I read the unwritten message underlying the bill language as something like this: We, the Congress, have concluded that Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are serious business. We want you to start treating it as serious business: Get your act together and get a grip on this problem! Expect to be held accountable.

The measure incorporates a robust array of statutory provisions, in essence commanding the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to substantially elevate the priority, coordination, and resources that they devote to investigations of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). The legislation describes the overarching mission in unmistakable terms, but also provides detailed mandates and funding authorities to advance UAP investigations, and provisions to require a measure of periodic partial public disclosure of future findings.

This negotiated NDAA proposal has been packed into the shell of a numbered bill that has already passed the Senate (S. 1605, originally dealing with an unimportant memorial), which may simplify the procedural steps in the Senate. Even so, a round or two of legislative "ping-pong" might occur, as the Senate and House work out a few remaining issues unrelated to UAP. It is not likely that the UAP language would be altered during such any such ping pong. Congress has enacted an NDAA for the past 60 consecutive years. I think it likely that this NDAA, with its historic UAP-related provisions, will become law before Christmas.

The new negotiated NDAA text contains most, but not all, of the major components of the Gillibrand-Rubio Amendment. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who sits on both the Armed Services and Intelligence committees, introduced her amendment on November 4, 2021. [I was the first person anywhere to publicly report on the Gillibrand proposal, in a lengthy analytical post on this blog at noon on November 5, 2021. Since then, I have frequently reported on legislative developments pertaining to the proposal via my Twitter account, @ddeanjohnson.] Gillibrand's amendment was quickly co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), well known in ufological circles for a number of past actions and strongly worded public statements about UAP, beginning in 2020. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also soon joined as co-sponsors.

Gillibrand's proposal built on and greatly upgraded a set of UAP-related mandates that had earlier been incorporated into the House version of the NDAA (H.R. 4350) by Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). Gallego is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee-- a panel that had received a classified briefing from the UAP Task Force on June 17, 2021. (My September 11, 2021 report on the groundbreaking Gallego initiative is here.) That bill sailed through the House of Representatives, without any challenge to Gallego's UAP language, on September 23, 2021.

The Pentagon this summer issued a report on UAP sightings that raised more questions than it answered. It found no solid evidence that the still-unexplained sightings were from global adversaries or … something else … but it encouraged political leaders to begin taking the issue more seriously than they traditionally have.
Not so long ago, it would have sounded like science fiction, but today it makes perfect sense that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is proposing creation of the Anomaly Surveillance and Resolution Office, dedicated to investigating these sightings as they occur. Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act establishing the office.

“If it is technology possessed by adversaries or any other entity, we need to know. … Burying our heads in the sand is neither a strategy nor an acceptable approach,” Gillibrand told Politico last month. “I can count on one hand the number of hearings I had in 10 years on this topic. That’s fairly concerning given the experience our service members have had over the last decade.”

The idea has wide bipartisan support — a rarity these days, and an indication of how seriously this once-snicker-inducing topic is now being taken in Washington. For once, Washington is right.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Biden warns Putin to not invade Ukraine!

 


President Joe Biden on Friday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against taking military action against Ukraine after US intelligence warned of Russia's plans to launch an offensive attack as early as 2022.

"We've been aware of Russia's actions for a long time and my expectation is we're gonna have a long discussion with Putin," Biden told reporters outside Camp David in Maryland on Friday, according to the Associated Press

A Biden administration official told the Associated Press that US intelligence has determined Russia plans to deploy 175,000 troops to Ukraine, and about half of them are already stationed near the Ukrainian border.

"What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do," Biden also said Friday.

According to the Washington Post, which first reported the US intelligence information on Friday, the Kremlin is planning an offensive attack as early as next year. It's also demanding the US promise the Ukraine will not join NATO and that NATO will stay out of the region, according to the Post report.

"I don't accept anyone's red line," Biden said, per the AP.

According to the unclassified document seen by the Post, Russian troops are currently stationed in four locations with 50 battlefield tactical groups deployed with tanks and artillery, according to the Post.

"The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia's snap exercise near Ukraine's borders," a senior administration official told the Washington Post. "The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment."

One Biden administration official told the Associated Press the US has seen an increase in Russian propaganda by proxies and media outlets to weaken Ukraine and NATO.

According to the AP, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US is close to setting up a call next week between Biden and Putin.

"It certainly would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military buildup that we're seeing on the border of Ukraine," Psaki said, according to the AP.

A source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Biden and Zelensky were also working to set up a call next week, the AP reported.

New ICBM radar system goes online


WASHINGTON: The Missile Defense Agency today announced it had finished construction and started initial fielding on a key radar program that, once operational, will play an integral role in protecting the homeland from ballistic missiles.

The Long Range Discrimination Radar, built by Lockheed Martin, is stationed at Clear Space Force Station in Alaska and will be turned over to the Air Force after it completes testing.

“The Long Range Discrimination Radar has finished construction, and we can now begin the testing phase that will lead to the full operational use of this vital system,” MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in a statement. “LRDR will allow Northern Command to better defend the United States from ballistic and hypersonic missile threats.”

The S-band radar’s primary purpose is to distinguish between intercontinental ballistic missiles launched by adversarial nations towards the US and decoys or other innocuous objects moving through space. In addition to protecting the country from a legitimate attack, the capability to differentiate between real threats and decoys helps to preserve the Pentagon’s precious supply of interceptors.

LRDR represents one of the Pentagon’s newest ballistic missile sensors, accompanied by several other ground- and sea-based technologies deployed throughout the world, that all send information back to the GMD Fire Control component in Colorado. The ultimate goal with each new sensor is for the Pentagon to create enough vantage points and string together enough information so that no matter where in the world a missile is launched, its network of sensors will be able to find and track that threat until its neutralized.

“Digital, solid-state, and modular radars are already redefining the emerging radar renaissance. From Patriot to Aegis to GMD, the spectrum of air and missile threats is going to require a new generation of sensors, both radars and other types,” Tom Karako, a senior fellow focused on missile defense at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Breaking Defense.

The announcement comes despite a handful of setbacks the program suffered last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Parts of Lockheed Martin’s production were delayed to October 2020 from August 2020 when some workers tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in April. Coronavirus cases also paused work at the military base in Alaska, derailing “progress during the second half of the fiscal year for LRDR” and prompting further negotiations with Lockheed Martin over additional costs, GAO found.

“The increase included the costs to maintain critical staff on site to monitor the radar and equipment during the evacuation period, as well as production impacts, redeployment, and the performance impacts to the overall contract,” according to GAO.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

CIA has "credible evidence" 10 employees committed sex crimes.

 


WASHINGTON (TND) — The Central Intelligence Agency reportedly had credible evidence that at least 10 members of its staff, some of whom were contracted employees, committed sex crimes involving children, but only one individual was ever charged.

Senior investigative reporter Jason Leopold and investigative reporter Anthony Cormier with Buzzfeed News detailed their findings in an article after combing through hundreds of internal agency reports they obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits.

Leopold and Cormier say the declassified reports "show a pattern of abuse and a repeated decision by federal prosecutors not to hold agency personnel accountable."

The featured reports detail 14 years of accusations against several CIA employees and contracted employees.

One employee was accused of having sexual contact with both a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old before he was fired. Another employee resigned after being accused of purchasing sexually explicit videos of "young girls" filmed by their mothers. A contractor had his contract revoked after allegedly arranging to have sex with an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a child.

Only one of the people cited in the documents was actually charged, according to the documents.

Prosecutors sent the rest of the cases back to the CIA to handle internally, meaning few faced any consequences beyond the possible loss of their jobs and security clearances," said Leopold and Cormier in their report. "CIA insiders say the agency resists prosecution of its staff for fear the cases will reveal state secrets.

The documents were finally obtained by Buzzfeed News after a nearly decade-long pursuit. Buzzfeed News published the documents for public viewing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

B-21 Raider will replace B-1 and the B-2 but NOT the B-52.


AFCEC leads bed-down efforts for B-21 Raider Stealth Bomber


Published Nov. 24, 2021
By Mila Cisneros
Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public AffairsJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is leading a large-scale, multi-year facilities construction project to deliver infrastructure needed to support the beddown of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber, the future backbone of the Air Force bomber fleet.

The B-21 will incrementally replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit to perform both conventional and nuclear missions alongside the B-52 Stratofortress. As the Air Force transitions to a two-bomber fleet, the strategy to beddown the new bomber has been to minimize operational impacts, maximize reuse of existing facilities and reduce overhead as much as possible.

“Maintaining the lethality and readiness of Air and Space Forces’ requires continuous sustainment and modernization of mission-critical infrastructure,” said Col. Dave Norton, deputy director of AFCEC’s Facility Engineering Directorate. ”AFCEC partners with the Department of the Air Force to deliver resilient and sustainable infrastructure solutions required to successfully accomplish missions of national defense.”

In 2019, the secretary of the Air Force announced that the preferred locations for the B-21 are Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, Whiteman AFB, Missouri and Dyess AFB. After completing the requirements within the National Environmental Protection Act and the Environmental Impact Statement, in June 2021, the Air Force signed a Record of Decision officially naming Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, as the first B-21 Main Operating Base, or MOB. A second NEPA/EIS is anticipated to begin in 2022 to assess the selection for the second and third MOBs.

AFCEC has been working hand-in-hand with Air Force Global Strike Command, the DAF Rapid Capabilities Office, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Detachment 10 and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure infrastructure is in place at all MOBs to support this critical combat capability when the first aircraft is delivered to Ellsworth AFB in the mid-2020s.

As the program makes steady progress through the engineering and manufacturing development phase, Ellsworth AFB was selected as the test site to construct a temporary prototype Environmental Protection Shelter in March 2020, for which AFCEC delivered the planning. The location of the installation provides the most extreme and diverse weather conditions to test the temporary structures.

“The installation of the prototype shelter will collect data necessary to identify the most effective and affordable EPS designs for facilities to extend the life of the new aircraft and protect maintainers working on the aircraft on the flight line,” said Tom Hodges, AFCEC’s Mobility Support Branch chief.

Beyond the shelter prototype activities, AFCEC continues beddown planning at Ellsworth AFB and expects to finalize the design for mission-critical infrastructure over the next five to 10 years.

The program will account for everything from new buildings to supporting infrastructure with a mix of military construction, and operations and maintenance projects.

“It is a large construction program for a single base which is always challenging,” Hodges said. “We are well into the planning and design stages for many projects that are expected during fiscal years 2022 – 2024 and will soon begin planning for projects we anticipate for FY25 and beyond. We will be awarding five more construction contracts in 2022.”

Overall, the Air Force is projecting a $1 billion investment at Ellsworth AFB to meet warfighter demands for bomber airpower.

“We are actively working with mission commanders on a wide scope of beddown requirements for the new weapons system, and we anticipate awarding projects worth up to $410 million at Ellsworth (AFB) in the next year,” said Naomi Gabriel, AFCEC program manager.

This is a very complex program requiring careful programming, diligent planning and close partnerships with stakeholders to minimize the construction impact and maintain continuity of current B-1B operations, Gabriel said.

Specifically, Ellsworth AFB will receive a mission operations planning facility, training and flight-simulator facilities, wash rack and general maintenance hangar, warehouses and equipment storage in addition to new roads, parking and airfield infrastructure.

So far, AFCEC, in partnership with USACE, AFGSC and the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, awarded construction for an approximate $130 million low-observable restoration facility at the South Dakota installation Sept. 17, 2021.

It will provide a new state-of-the-art, 90,000-square-foot, two-bay facility with paint booth type functionality to support B-21 weapons system maintenance and operations. Construction will also include airfield paving, site features and supporting infrastructure.

New construction to meet B-21 mission requirements at Ellsworth AFB is expected to be completed over the next five to 10 years.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Pentagon announces new will investigate UFOs as possible threats to military zones.


ABC NEWS: In the wake of a UFO report last summer, the Pentagon has announced the formation of a new group that will investigate reports of UFOs close to sensitive military areas. The new Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group will specifically look at reports of Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAP) near U.S. military facilities. UAP is the military term to describe what is known as UFOs or Unexplained Flying Objects.


"Incursions by any airborne object into our SUA (Special Use Airspace) pose safety of flight and operations security concerns, and may pose national security challenges," said a Pentagon press release using the term that includes restricted military airspace, military operations areas, firing ranges and places restricted for national security and other uses.


In a memo outlining the group's formation, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote that unidentified aerial phenomena in special-use areas "represents a safety of flight risk to aircrews and raises potential national security concerns."


The new group will synchronize the Pentagon's efforts with other federal agencies "to detect, identify and attribute objects of interest in Special Use Airspace (SUA), and to assess and mitigate any associated threats to safety of flight and national security."
It will be overseen by the under secretary of defense for intelligence, who will head an executive council including the director of the Joint Staff and senior officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


Last June, the U.S. intelligence community released a report requested by Congress that provided the first unclassified assessment of Unexplained Aerial Phenomena.

Compiled by the Navy's Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, that report could not explain 143 incidents and said 18 of them appeared "to demonstrate advanced technology." The UAP Task Force will now be absorbed into the newly formed group announced by the Pentagon.

The UAP report also identified the need to make improvements in the Pentagon's processes, policies, technologies and training to improve its ability to understand UAP.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Russia's A-SAT test causes international outrage and risks to satellites and manned orbital platforms


BBC: Russia has carried out a missile test, destroying one of its own satellites. The action has caused international outrage because the debris could threaten the International Space Station (ISS) and satellites in low-Earth orbit.


Russia's test of an anti-satellite (A-Sat) missile system is not the first of its kind.

Back in 2007, China tested its own missile system against one of its own weather satellites in orbit. The explosion created more than 3,000 pieces of debris the size of a golf ball or larger - and more than 100,000 much smaller pieces.

Of the orbiting fragments considered a threat to the ISS, about a third are from this Chinese test. And at the speeds these objects travel in orbit, even small pieces can threaten spacecraft with destruction.

The A-Sat tests fit into the wider issue of space debris, which is being made worse by our continued activities in space.

There is now a wild jungle of debris overhead - everything from old rocket stages that continue to loop around the Earth decades after they were launched, to the flecks of paint that have lifted off once shiny space vehicles and floated off into the distance.

It is the legacy of 64 years of space activity.


It's estimated there is close to 10,000 tons of hardware in orbit - much of it still active and useful, but far too much of it defunct and aimless.Almost 30,000 pieces of debris are being tracked on a daily basis. These are just the big, easy-to-see items, however. Go below the scale of 1cm (0.39in), and objects move around more or less untracked. There may be 300 million of these. All of this stuff is travelling at several kilometres per second - sufficient velocity for them to become damaging projectiles if any were to strike an operational space mission.


The threat was starkly demonstrated in 2009 when an active communications satellite operated by the US company Iridium and a defunct Soviet-era military communications satellite were obliterated when they collided in orbit.

Now consider the threat to a space vehicle with humans aboard.


On Monday, Russia carried out the A-Sat test from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 800km (500 miles) north of Moscow. The missile destroyed an old Soviet spy satellite, called Kosmos 1408, that was once part of Russia's Tselina radio signal surveillance programme.


US state department spokesman Ned Price said the destruction of Kosmos 1408 had generated about 1,500 pieces of larger orbiting objects, for which tracking information is available to civilian sources. But it also created hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments.


Some of these tinier objects likely can be tracked, because the US military doesn't want to give away information about the sensitivities of its hardware. But others are probably too small to detect from the ground.


The debris field from the A-Sat test is found at an altitude of between 440km and 520km above Earth, threatening the ISS, China's Tiangong space station and other spacecraft.


When the ISS passed close to the debris cloud on Monday, crew members were told to shelter in the Soyuz and Crew Dragon spacecraft attached to the orbiting outpost. This is so that the crew could detach and come back to Earth if the space station was damaged by fragments of the satellite.



While vehicles such as the space shuttle were hit by smaller pieces of debris, it's likely that a collision with any large objects at orbital speeds would be catastrophic to the ISS.


The action by Russia has been condemned by other countries, including the US and the UK.

Russian anti-satellite missile test sparks outrage


The Russian military said it was carrying out planned activities to strengthen its defence capabilities, but denied the test was dangerous.


"The United States knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in terms of test time and orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities," it said.


Many countries now have their own A-Sat systems; the US and Russia (and previously the USSR) have been developing weapons of this kind since the 1950s. In 1985, the US used a missile launched from an F-15 fighter jet to destroy the Solwind scientific satellite.


After the Chinese A-Sat incident in 2007, the US military again shot down one of its own satellites - at a lower altitude than the Chinese or Russian operations - using a ship-launched missile. The lower height above the Earth was intended to ensure that any debris would quickly burn up in the atmosphere rather than staying aloft to threaten space-based assets.


Then in 2019, India tested its own weapon, during an operation codenamed Mission Shakti. The missile struck a test satellite in a lower orbit than those targeted by Moscow or Beijing, generating more than 200 pieces of trackable debris.


Since modern militaries rely on satellites for intelligence gathering, navigation and communications, A-Sat systems could be used to undermine an adversary's command and control system during conflict.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Iran's gas shortage blamed on hackers


The Jerusalem  Post:

Gas stations across Iran malfunctioned on Tuesday, reportedly due to a massive cyberattack, according to Iranian state media.

With the details still hazy, speculation is rife about whether the purported attack came from the US, Israel or from local Iranian anti-regime groups.

According to reports, messages were posted in some systems that were hacked, addressing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directly and demanding to know, “Where is the gas?” The attack comes some two years after nationwide protests over gas shortages in fall 2019.

“The disruption at the refueling system of gas stations... in the past few hours, was caused by a cyberattack,” state broadcaster IRIB said. “Technical experts are fixing the problem and soon the refueling process... will return to normal.”

The Oil Ministry said only sales with smart cards used for cheaper, rationed gasoline were disrupted and that clients could still buy fuel at higher rates, the ministry’s news agency, SHANA, reported.
Last week, Iran carried out a complex and coordinated strike on US forces in Syria using up to five armed drones to attack the Tanf garrison at a key strategic point near the Jordan-Iraq border.

The attack was the latest in a series of drone strikes on US forces.

In a press briefing on Monday, US Envoy on Iran, Rob Malley, mentioned possible upcoming US action to deter Iranian aggression in the region although he declined to elaborate what those actions might be.

The US is considered to be the world’s most potent cyber power by far but it has often been hesitant to use its offensive cyber capabilities against groups other than ISIS, for fear of cyber retaliation.

Under the Trump administration, the US did hack certain major Iranian intelligence sea-based operations to get the Islamic Republic to back away from attacking American allies at sea.

But the Biden administration has not done so to date, as it has focused on building goodwill for a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA.

Israel reportedly hacked Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port on May 9, 2020, as a counter strike for an attempted Iranian cyber strike on Israel’s water supply system the previous month.

Iran has also accused the Mossad, the US and European intelligence agencies of using the STUXNET virus to hack its Natanz nuclear facility in 2009-2010.

Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cyber official Harel Menashri told KAN radio that there was a good chance that to accomplish such a broad and successful attack on Tuesday, the hacker would have to be a nation-state actor.

However, recent months have also shown that amateur hackers can cause major disruption to the US and European powers with sophisticated ransomware and other means, and the Khamenei regime has many local enemies among Iran’s many minorities.

In August, Check Point Software Technologies issued a report stating that an Iranian dissident group called Indra, not Israel, executed the mega-hack on the Islamic Republic’s train system on July 9.

Check Point said Indra’s hack was “an example for governments around the world of how a single group can create disruption on critical infrastructure.”

If non-state groups are traditionally thought of as lacking the capability to do more than hack websites and data, this was an example of such a non-state group causing profound real-world damage.

Indra’s tools destroyed data without direct means to recover it by using a “wiper,” or malware designed to wipe the entire data system of critical infrastructure, making the recovery process complicated, locking users out of machines, changing passwords, and replacing wallpapers to custom messages crafted by the attackers.

The hack included the posting of fake messages about train delays and cancellations on display boards across Iran.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Monday, October 25, 2021

US airstrike kills senior al Qaeda leader


A U.S. airstrike in Syria killed a senior leader of al Qaeda Friday, according to U.S. Central Command. 

The strike — carried out by an MQ-9 aircraft — took out Abdul Hamid al-Matar, according to a U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee. 

"The removal of this al Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians," Rigsbee said in a statement. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

FBI confirms human remains are Brian Laundrie

 On October 21, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie.




This is a breaking news update. A previous version of this report is below.

The apparent human remains that authorities found Wednesday in a Florida park most likely belong to Brian Laundrie, the missing man whose fiancĂ©e Gabby Petito was found fatally strangled last month, the Laundrie family attorney told CNN.

Investigators also found a backpack and a notebook belonging to Laundrie, 23, near the suspected remains while they were searching the Carlton Reserve in North Port, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson.

The discovery came on Wednesday morning when Laundrie's parents and law enforcement searched an area of the reserve that had been underwater but recently reopened to the public. The remains and items were found in the same area that the parents had initially told the FBI to look, family attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

U.S. conducted 3 Hypersonic weapon tests in one day one failed.


WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The Pentagon's hypersonic weapon programs suffered a setback on Thursday when a booster rocket carrying a hypersonic weapon failed, people briefed on the test result said.

The test was intended to validate aspects of one of the Pentagon's hypersonic glide vehicles in development, two of the people said.

The tests occurred the same day that U.S. President Joe Biden said he was concerned about Chinese hypersonic weapons. read more

The Sandia National Laboratory ran the tests from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia which will help "inform the development of the Navy's Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and the Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) offensive hypersonic strike," a statement said.

The Navy and Army will conduct a flight test of the common hypersonic missile in fiscal 2022, which began on Oct. 1.Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound, or about 3,853 miles per hour (6,200 kph).

These tests "demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s.

Companies such as Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) and Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) are working to develop the hypersonic weapon capability for the United States.

Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

FBI raids two properties linked to a Russian billionaire with ties to President Vladimir Putin


The FBI is searching two properties linked to a Russian billionaire with ties to President Vladimir Putin, a spokesperson for the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, told NBC News on Tuesday.

The raids of two houses, located in Washington, D.C., and New York, “are being carried out on the basis of two court orders, connected to US sanctions,” the spokesperson told NBC.

An FBI spokeswoman earlier confirmed to CNBC that agents are conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at the Washington home.

The search warrants in Washington are the result of a federal investigation stemming from New York City, two officials briefed on the matter told NBC, which first reported earlier Tuesday that Deripaska’s home was being raided by the FBI.

But Deripaska’s spokesperson said the houses do not belong to him, since he is not technically allowed to own property in the U.S. due to sanctions against him. The houses belong to Deripaska’s relatives, the spokesperson said.

In 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Deripaska and about two dozen other oligarchs and Kremlin officials tied to Putin.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated Deripaska “for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation,” among other allegations. In a press release, OFAC noted that Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.

Deripaska sued over the sanctions, but a U.S. judge in June dismissed his lawsuit.

Deripaska became widely known in the U.S. for his ties to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted on fraud charges stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Then-President Donald Trump pardoned Manafort in his final month in office.

Manafort and Deripaska had numerous business dealings. Manafort was indebted to Deripaska, court filings have alleged, and reportedly tried to leverage his role on Trump’s campaign to resolve his debts with the Russian billionaire.

The FBI and the D.C. police did not immediately respond to requests for additional information regarding Tuesday’s raid. A lawyer for Deripaska did not immediately provide comment.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

FBI tactical team standing by to rescue kidnapped American missionaries

 


Port-au-Prince, Haiti — Desperate efforts continued on Tuesday to save a group of missionaries, most of them Americans, being held for ransom by a criminal gang in Haiti. FBI agents were working with local authorities in the tiny Caribbean nation to find the 16 U.S. nationals and one Canadian who were kidnapped on Saturday.

The gang was asking for $1 million for each hostage — $17 million total — to release the missionaries, a high-ranking government source confirmed to CBS News. The dollar amount was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The missionaries, from an Ohio-based Christian organization, were abducted just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez and his team in the city were able to obtain a phone number for the leader of the "400 Mawozo" gang, which authorities believe is behind the kidnappings. CBS News dialed the number and a man picked up, but he hung up after hearing who was on the other end of the line.  

FBI tactical teams were assisting as Haitian authorities try to negotiate the missionaries' safe return.

"You're trying to do two things at the same time — maintain open lines of communication, and prepare for the worst," James Gagliano, a former special agent with the FBI's hostage rescue team, told CBS News about what was likely going on behind the scenes. 

Gagliano said that if it became clear the gang was killing or threatening to kill hostages, the U.S. law enforcement agency would likely have a strike team on hand to attempt a rescue operation.

North Korea fires missile from submarine. Calls it "the worlds most powerful weapon"

 

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BBC: 

North Korea has fired a suspected submarine-launched ballistic missile into waters off the coast of Japan, South Korea's military has said.

Pyongyang unveiled the missile in January, describing it as "the world's most powerful weapon".

It comes weeks after South Korea unveiled a similar weapon of its own.

North Korea has carried out a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks, including of what it said were hypersonic and long-range weapons.

Some of these tests violate strict international sanctions.

The country is specifically prohibited by the United Nations from testing ballistic missiles as well as nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang unveiled the missile in January, describing it as "the world's most powerful weapon".

It comes weeks after South Korea unveiled a similar weapon of its own.

North Korea has carried out a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks, including of what it said were hypersonic and long-range weapons.

Some of these tests violate strict international sanctions.

The country is specifically prohibited by the United Nations from testing ballistic missiles as well as nuclear weapons.


On Tuesday South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said one missile had been launched from the port of Sinpo, in the east of North Korea where Pyongyang usually bases its submarines. It landed in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

They said it was suspected to have been a submarine-launched ballistic missile.


The latest launch comes as South Korea develops its own weapons, in what observers say has turned into an arms race on the Korean peninsula.

Seoul is holding what is said to be South Korea's largest ever defence exhibition this week. It will reportedly unveil a new fighter jet as well as guided weapons like missiles. It is also due to launch its own space rocket soon.

North and South Korea technically remain at war as the Korean War, which split the peninsula into two countries and which saw the US backing the South, ended in 1953 with an armistice.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said last week that he did not wish for war to break out again. He said his country needed to continue developing weapons for self-defense against enemies, namely the US which he accused of hostility.

Monday, October 18, 2021

What the Chinese hypersonic missile means to the world ...


ID: Amid its larger push to dominate the modern-age space race, China has reportedly gone a step further in militarizing the arena as it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. According to Financial Times, Beijing tested the vehicle in August, which circled the globe before speeding towards its target demonstrating a unique space capability developed by the dragon.

The report late on Saturday said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising towards its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles.

"The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised," the report said, citing people briefed on the intelligence. Quoting sources, FT reported that the weapon could, in theory, fly over the South Pole, posing a major challenge for the US military.

The speculation of the secret launch emerged from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, which said that it had launched a Long March 2C rocket, the 77th launch in July followed by an August 24 announcement releasing details of a 79th flight, but there was no detail about the 78th launch, sparking speculations.

WHAT IS A HYPERSONIC MISSILE?

As countries remain focused on North Korea for its nuclear-capable missile tests, China has reportedly launched a hypersonic missile secretly. A hypersonic missile is a vehicle that achieves a speed five times faster than the speed of sound, crossing Mach 5. These missiles travel at a speed of around 6,115 km per hour, with a combination of technology and manoeuvrability of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

Hypersonic weapons can take missile warfare, particularly nuclear warfare, to a new -- and, for many, frightening -- level. According to reports, they can travel much faster than current nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles at low altitudes, can switch direction in flight and do not follow a predictable arc like conventional missiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.

NOT A MISSILE, SAYS CHINA

China, acknowledging the launch, said that it has tested a hypersonic “vehicle” and not a nuclear-capable hypersonic “missile” as was reported. Asked for his reaction to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that a test of a hypersonic vehicle was carried out.

“It is a vehicle, not a missile,” Zhao said, adding that as we understand this test, it is just a routine space vehicle test to verify the repeated use of technology of the vehicle.

“This is of great significance to reducing the cost and can also provide an affordable and cheap return means for the peaceful use of space for humanity,” he said.

A GLOBAL RUSH FOR HYPERSONIC

China is not the first to develop hypersonic capabilities, while the country first showcased its hypersonic glide vehicle DF-17 during its national day military parade, the US had in 2020 announced a successful test of an unarmed prototype hypersonic missile. The Pentagon had said in March 2020 that a test glide vehicle flew at hypersonic speeds -- more than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5 -- to a designated impact point.

Russia has also shown hypersonic capabilities as it declared it had placed into service its first Avangard hypersonic missile in December 2019, making it the first country to claim an operable hypersonic weapon. According to AFP, Russian officials claimed that in tests the missile had reached speeds of up to Mach 27, roughly 33,000 kilometres per hour.

The US has recognized that the hypersonic capability can catalyse the threat of nuclear conflict between rivals. Washington is meanwhile also pouring money into advanced missile defenze research to find ways to protect against hypersonics.

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