Tuesday, November 15, 2022

BREAKING: Poland hit by missiles, two dead.

Missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, killing two people, a senior US intelligence official said on Tuesday in what could mark a serious escalation.

The weapon hit a farm in Przewodów, Lublin, near the border with Ukraine, according to Polish media reports.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials say that although not all details are clear at this time it appears a grain elevator was hit and at last two people are dead.

A Polish government spokesman did not immediately confirm the information, but said  leaders were meeting on "crisis situation."



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UPDATE: SKY NEWS

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called an urgent meeting to discuss national security, a government spokesman said on Twitter.State news agency PAP said the meeting was to be held at 8pm GMT.

Latvia's deputy prime minister, Artis Pabriks, said Moscow had fired missiles that landed in Poland and sent Warsaw his condolences.

Polish media said missiles hit an area where grain was drying in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine.

"Firefighters are on the spot - it's not clear what has happened," said firefighter Lukasz Kucy.

Moscow launched a large number of missiles at Ukraine on Wednesday, knocking out power for seven million households.

It is unclear whether the two missiles that apparently landed in Poland were part of the same wave, but it is the first time Russian rockets are said to have reached Poland.

Poland has not been involved in the conflict, but has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees and has widely condemned the war.

UPDATE: 

There is no evidence a missile that slammed into a Polish border town near Ukraine was an intentional attack on his country, Poland President Andrzej Duda said Wednesday.

The missile, which killed two people in a rural area, appeared to be Russian-made, Duda said. Ukraine's weaponry includes Russian-made missiles.

“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” Duda said. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, at a meeting of the military alliance in Brussels, said a preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Saudi Arabia tells Pentagon Iran is poised for an attack


WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with American officials that suggests Iran could be preparing for an imminent attack on the kingdom, three U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The heightened concerns about a potential attack on Saudi Arabia come as the Biden administration is criticizing Tehran for its crackdown on widespread protests and condemning it for sending hundreds of drones — as well as technical support — to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.

“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” the National Security Council said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”

Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

One of the officials who confirmed the intelligence sharing described it as a credible threat of an attack “soon or within 48 hours.” No U.S. embassy or consulate in the region has issued alerts or guidance to Americans in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East based on the intelligence. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. and Saudis blamed Iran in 2019 of being behind a major attack in eastern Saudi Arabia, which halved the oil-rich kingdom’s production and caused energy prices to spike. The Iranians denied they were behind the attack, but the same triangle-shaped, bomb-carrying drones used in that attack are now being deployed by Russian forces in their war on Ukraine.

The Saudis have also been hit repeatedly in recent years by drones, missiles and mortars launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia formed a coalition to battle the Houthis in 2015 and has been internationally criticized for its airstrikes in the war, which have killed scores of civilians.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Iranian officials for the brutal crackdown on demonstrators after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September after her arrest by Iran’s morality police. The administration has also hit Iran with sanctions for supplying drones to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.

READ MORE HERE

Monday, October 31, 2022

UAP/UFO report due out today - but don't expect any relevations.

 

ABC NEWS: 
The enduring debate about whether UFOs are caused by extraterrestrial beings will once again be front and center next week as U.S. intelligence agencies will provide Congress with an updated report on UFO incidents over the past year.

Meanwhile, it appears that other more recent incidents are being attributed to weather balloons, other airborne clutter, and foreign surveillance, according to a U.S. official.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has until Monday to provide Congress with its first annual unclassified update on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena, the new term for UFOs, that includes all new UAP incidents over the past year and any previously unreported incidents.

The report was required by the 2022 Defense Bill that mandated that the DNI provide an annual declassified update and a classified annex by Oct. 31 of every year through 2026.

The update follows the DNI's first-ever report released in June 2022 that listed 144 UAP incidents, only one of which could be explained. At a congressional hearing earlier this year Pentagon officials said that the number of UAP incidents under investigation had risen to more than 400.

While it is unclear how many new reports will be included in the upcoming update, a U.S. official told ABC News that the most recent UAP incidents can be explained as a mix of weather balloons, airborne clutter, and foreign surveillance. But the official stressed that other incidents still cannot be explained.

The official added that it cannot be determined who is behind the foreign surveillance but the most likely candidates would be China and Russia since they have the most interest in monitoring the U.S. military.

"There is no single explanation that addresses the majority of UAP reports," Sue Gough, a Defense Department spokesperson, said in a statement. "We are collecting as much data as we can, following the data where it leads, and will share our findings whenever possible. We will not rush to conclusions in our analysis"




Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Does the Lockheed Martin future aerial refueling tanker rendering show what NGAD looks like?

 Two artist renderings, since scrubbed off the Lockheed Martin website promoting their LMXT tanker proposal shows it refueling an unknown stealth fighter (possibly) the top secret Next Generation Air Dominance aircraft - stealth fighter.

Here are the artist renditions here which appear to have been scrubbed from Lock-Marts' site.



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-Steve Douglass 

NSA unveils "Battle Bridge" nerve center.

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WASHINGTON TIIMES:

The National Security Agency, which is in the middle of moving into a new “nerve center” on its Fort Meade campus, says it is still ready for whatever foreign threat may emerge against the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

“We’re ready to go,” NSA Director Gen. Paul M. Nakasone said in an interview in the “battle bridge” of the new National Security Operations Center.

Commonly referred to as the agency’s “nerve center,” the facility provides the NSA with a real-time window into government operations across the globe and allows the agency to respond to a crisis in an instant.

The NSA is America’s spy agency focused on smashing codes, intercepting secret messages, and leveraging computer operations to guard the U.S. against threats coming from places such as China, Iran and Russia.

“What’s NSA’s competitive advantage? We make code and we break code better than anyone in the world,” Gen. Nakasone said. “That’s what we do.”

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"RACETRACK UAPs" leave pilots stumped.

THE DEBRIEF 


Pilots and crews from more than 15 commercial aircraft say they have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) in American airspace in recent weeks, according to eyewitness testimony and videos that detail the unusual events.

According to witnesses, the rash of incidents occurred over a seven-week period and involved sightings of bright luminous aerial objects in airspace from the American Midwest to as far west as the Pacific. The Debrief has learned that several of the objects were reportedly observed performing unconventional tight-circling maneuvers, which pilots and others involved said defied simple explanation.

The objects, which have since garnered the nickname “Racetrack UAPs” for the descriptions of their odd circular flight paths, were first reported by researcher and television personality Ben Hansen on social media and his YouTube channel, where he has featured several videos detailing the pilot encounters.

While several of the incidents were reported to air traffic controllers, no official investigations are known to have taken place, although The Debrief has learned that the events were reported to at least one Federal Aviation Administration unit tasked with responding to potential threats to American airspace.

One of the earliest known incidents in the recent spate of sightings occurred on August 18, 2022, involving a Gulfstream 650 private jet flow by former Navy F-18 pilot Mark Hulsey, along with a second pilot identifying himself only by his first name, “Keith,” while traveling between Florida and Hawaii. Passing over Los Angeles, the pilots observed between 4 and 7 luminous objects at an estimated 5000 to 10,000 feet above them performing odd, circular maneuvers.

Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) was contacted to determine whether the objects represented potentially conflicting traffic, although radar controllers at the facility had been unable to detect any primary targets operating near their aircraft at that time. The two pilots watched as ATC personnel attempted to paint the objects on their scopes as the UAPs maintained their peculiar, revolving flight paths above them.

Nearby, an American Airlines flight passing through the area also reported seeing the objects over the radio. Later, the Gulfstream pilots learned that calls were made to the Los Angeles ARTCC by at least two more airlines that saw the objects. Neither of the principal witnesses believed that the objects they observed were any kind of conventional aircraft, based on their odd maneuvering and the speed they exhibited.

The Debrief independently obtained transcripts of radio communications recorded on the night of the August incident with the help of researcher Dave Beaty, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the incident. A portion of the transcript Beaty provided to The Debrief, which identifies the Gulfstream as “Twighlight (sic) 670”, reads as follows:

Twighlight 670 (04:58): LA Center Twighlight 670 Uh, Go Ahead, We’ve got a few aircraft here, Going around in circles. higher altitude than us. Any idea what they are?

LA Center (05:06): No, I do not. OK Strange. Gulf 41. Stand by and Twighlight 670. Say the last part again.

Twighlight 670 (05:23): Yeah, they look to be, you know, much higher than we are, They’re going around in circles so, maybe three aircraft.

LA Center (05:32): Roger. Um, yeah, I don’t know. You’re not entering any military or space or anything? I’m not sure.

Speaker 3 (05:38): Roger that

LA Center (05:39): Delta 41 go.

Twighlight 670 (05:42): Uh, Delta 41. Uh, yeah, we’re just wondering if uh, we needed a frequency. Change.

The day after the August 18th incident, the Gulfstream pilots told Hansen that a closed-door meeting occurred at Los Angeles Center, where data about the incident was reviewed and forwarded to the Joint Air Traffic Operations Command (JATOC), the FAA’s response unit for events that either represents a potential threat or are otherwise capable of impacting the National Airspace System (NAS) or national security.


Thursday, October 20, 2022

B-21 Raider to be unveiled on December 2nd.



The Air Force confirmed today it plans to reveal the B-21 Raider  on December 2nd during an unveiling ceremony hosted and sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Corporation at its production facilities in Palmdale, California.

The B-21 is a long-range, highly survivable, penetrating strike stealth bomber that will incrementally replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers, becoming the backbone of the U.S. Air Force bomber fleet.

"The unveiling of the B-21 Raider will be a historic moment for our Air Force and the nation," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. "We last introduced a new bomber over 30 years ago. As we look to the threats posed by our pacing challenge; we must continue to rapidly modernize. The B-21 Raider will provide formidable combat capability across a range of operations in highly contested environments of the future."

The Department of the Air Force is investing in the aircraft’s long-range strike capability as part of its seven
Operational Imperatives as it develops the advanced communications, sensors, and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems needed to deter our adversaries and prevail in combat.

We must invest in long-range strike in a highly contested environment by integrating the B-21 bomber with advanced communications, sensors, and a broad mix of weapons and supporting systems.

After unveiling, the B-21 program will continue its rigorous testing campaign with a combined team of professionals from the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, and Northrop Grumman. Their work will verify performance and identify areas for improvement for the weapon system.

"The B-21 program is a powerful example of America's long experience with fielding advanced military technology through an innovative, adaptable and efficient defense industrial base," said Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "The Air Force made the decision early in the life of the program to make the flight test aircraft production representative, which is paying dividends as we look towards first flight."

The B-21 weapon system is manufactured under the Air Force's contract with Northrop Grumman. It is designed with an open systems architecture, enabling rapid insertion of mature technologies, and allowing the aircraft to remain effective as threats evolve over time.

Monday, September 26, 2022

BREAKING: Russia grants Snowden citizenship


Sept 26 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday granting Russian citizenship to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Snowden, 39, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor.

U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.

Snowden was already allowed to travel freely in the country as part of his residency permit, but citizenship will give him added benefits.

The whistleblower has served as a constant critic of the U.S. government in exile through social media as well as several media appearances.

Putin, a former Russian spy chief, said in 2017 that Snowden, who keeps a low profile while living in Russia, was wrong to leak U.S. secrets but was not a traitor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

USAF B-21 to be unveiled in December


The US Air Force is set to lift the veil of secrecy around the B-21 Raider, its highly-classified, next-generation stealth bomber, with a formal rollout planned for the first week in December.

The timing of the rollout was announced today by Air Force acquisition executive Andrew Hunter during a roundtable with reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference.

The service has not cemented a final date for the event, which will take place at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Palmdale, Calif., where the B-21 is in production. “We are still working to nail down all the plans,” Hunter said.

In a news release, Northrop Grumman stated that the event would be “invitation only” and provide an “exclusive view” of the B-21 — hinting that those so lucky to see the new bomber in person may only be able to view it from a specific angle, allowing the Air Force and company to prevent any secret information about its design to be gleaned by onlookers.

“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” Doug Young, Northrop’s sector vice president for aeronautics, said in the release. “The Raider showcases the dedication and skills of the thousands of people working every day to deliver this aircraft.”

The B-21 contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in 2015, which beat out a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. So far, Northrop has disclosed that it has six B-21s in production, with the first flight scheduled for 2023.

In March, then-Rapid Capabilities Office Director Randall Walden told Air Force Magazine that the first B-21 bomber had moved off the production line and into a calibration facility, where it will undergo testing to ensure the structure of the aircraft meets the Air Force’s requirements.

“It’s got landing gear. … It’s got wheels on it. … It’s got the wings on it. It really looks like a bomber,” Walden told the magazine.

The Air Force requested $5 billion for B-21 in fiscal 2023, including $1.7 billion in procurement funding, although the service will not disclose how many bombers that will buy. Overall, the Air Force plans on buying at least 100 B-21s. Each B-21 is projected to cost approximately $550 million in FY10 dollars.

Earlier this year, Air Force security officials told Breaking Defense that there had been an upswing of strange security incidents at the Air Force’s Plant 42 — the Palmdale-based facility where Northrop is building B-21 and where numerous other defense contractors work on black programs.

UPDATED: Putin's latest rant - accuses the West of risking "nuclear catastrophe." Biden reacts


LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia's first mobilization since World War Two and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West he was not bluffing when he said he'd be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

In the biggest escalation of the Ukraine war since Moscow's Feb. 24 invasion, Putin explicitly raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict, approved a plan to annex a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary, and called up 300,000 reservists.

"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people - this is not a bluff," Putin said in a televised address to the nation.

Citing NATO expansion towards Russia's borders, Putin said the West was plotting to destroy his country, engaging in "nuclear blackmail" by allegedly discussing the potential use of nuclear weapons against Moscow, and accused the United States, the European Union and Britain of encouraging Ukraine to push military operations into Russia itself.

"If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people - this is not a bluff," Putin said in a televised address to the nation.

Citing NATO expansion towards Russia's borders, Putin said the West was plotting to destroy his country, engaging in "nuclear blackmail" by allegedly discussing the potential use of nuclear weapons against Moscow, and accused the United States, the European Union and Britain of encouraging Ukraine to push military operations into Russia itself.

"In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line," Putin said. "This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them."

The address, which followed a critical Russian battlefield defeat in northeastern Ukraine, fueled speculation about the course of the war, the 69-year-old Kremlin chief's own future, and showed Putin was doubling down on what he calls his "special military operation" in Ukraine.

In essence, Putin is betting that by increasing the risk of a direct confrontation between the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and Russia -- a step towards World War Three -- the West will blink over its support for Ukraine, something it has shown no sign of doing so far.

Putin's war in Ukraine has killed tens of thousands, unleashed an inflationary wave through the global economy and triggered the worst confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many feared nuclear war imminent.


MOBILISATION Putin signed a decree on partially mobilizing Russia's reserves, arguing that Russian soldiers were effectively facing the full force of the "collective West" which has been supplying Kyiv's forces with advanced weapons, training and intelligence.


Speaking shortly after Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia would draft some 300,000 additional personnel out of some 25 million potential fighters at Moscow's disposal.

The mobilization, the first since the Soviet Union battled Nazi Germany in World War Two, begins immediately.

Such a move is risky for Putin, who has so far tried to preserve a semblance of peace in the capital and other major cities where support for the war is lower than in the provinces.

Ever since Putin was handed the nuclear briefcase by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, his overriding priority has been to restore at least some of the great power status which Moscow lost when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Putin has repeatedly railed against the United States for driving NATO's eastward expansion, especially its courting of ex-Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia which Russia regards as part of its own sphere of influence, an idea both nations reject.


Putin said that top government officials in several unnamed "leading" NATO countries had spoken of potentially using nuclear weapons against Russia.

He also accused the West of risking "nuclear catastrophe," by allowing Ukraine to shell the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is under Russian control, something Kyiv has denied.
ANNEXATION

Putin gave his explicit support to referendums that will be held in coming days in swathes of Ukraine controlled by Russian troops -- the first step to formal annexation of a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary.

The self-styled Donetsk (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republics (LPR), which Putin recognized as independent just before the invasion, and Russian-installed officials in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have asked for votes.

"We will support the decision on their future, which will be made by the majority of residents in the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson," Putin said.

"We cannot, have no moral right to hand over people close to us to the executioners, we cannot but respond to their sincere desire to determine their own fate."

That paves the way for the formal annexation of about 15% of Ukrainian territory.

The West and Ukraine have condemned the referendum plan as an illegal sham and vowed never to accept its results. French President Emmanuel Macron said the plans were "a parody." Kyiv has denied persecuting ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers.

But by formally annexing Ukrainian territories, Putin is giving himself the potential pretext to use nuclear weapons from Russia's arsenal, the largest in the world.

Russia's nuclear doctrine allows the use of such weapons if weapons of mass destruction are used against it or if the Russian state faces an existential threat from conventional weapons.

"It is in our historical tradition, in the fate of our people, to stop those striving for world domination, who threaten the dismemberment and enslavement of our Motherland, our Fatherland," Putin said.

"We will do it now, and it will be so," said Putin. "I believe in your support."

UPDATE: 

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, President Joe Biden on Wednesday cast the defining conflict facing global leaders as a duel between democracy and autocracy, directly responding to new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin to escalate the war in Ukraine.

The speech is Biden's first at the forum since Russia's invasion, offering him the opportunity to condemn the Kremlin in front of an audience of fellow heads of state.

Biden opened his remarks with a strong rebuke of Putin after he earlier Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia and raised the specter of using nuclear weapons after a retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

"Let us speak plainly, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map," Biden said. "Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenants of the United Nations Charter."

"Just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe and reckless disregard of the responsibilities of a nonproliferation regime," Biden continued. "Now, Russia is calling, calling up more soldiers to join the fight and the Kremlin is organizing a sham referendum to try to annex parts of Ukraine, an extremely significant violation of the U.N. Charter. The world should see these outrageous acts for what they are."

Friday, September 16, 2022

Ukraine: mass burial sites found in wake or Russian retreat ...

Izium, Ukraine

Complied from various sources:

Even the heavy rainfall couldn’t erase the smell of death in the pine forest in Izium on Friday afternoon, as Ukrainian investigators worked their way through a mass burial site found in the eastern Ukrainian city after its recapture from Russian forces.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said at least 440 “unmarked” graves were found in the city in recent days. The country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies found in Izium showed “signs of torture,” blaming Russia for what he called “cruelty and terrorism.”

Izium was subject to intense Russian artillery attacks in April. The city, which sits near the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, became an important hub for the invading military during five months of occupation. Ukrainian forces took back control of the city on Saturday, delivering a strategic blow to Russia’s military assault in the east.

Wooden crosses, most of them marked with numbers, were discovered in a forest outside the city by advancing Ukrainian forces.

Authorities said they would start exhuming some of the graves on Friday.


 

It is not yet clear what happened to the victims.
Speaking on Friday, the head of Ukraine's national police service said most of the bodies belonged to civilians.

Ihor Klymenko told a news conference that although soldiers were also believed to be buried there, there was so far no confirmation. Earlier, Ukrainian authorities told the BBC more than 400 bodies were thought to be buried at the site.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, that "many places of mass burials" had been discovered in some liberated areas.

"We saw many places where people were tortured," Mr Podolyak said. "We saw wildly frightened people who were kept without light, without food, without water, and without the right to justice. Because there was no authority there, there were only people with weapons."



Thursday, September 1, 2022

Russian energy magnate "falls" from hospital window after criticizing war in Ukraine



The chairman of Russian energy firm Lukoil has died after "falling" from a hospital window in Moscow, state media has reported.

Ravil Maganov, 67, was pronounced dead after plunging from ward on the sixth floor of the Central Clinical Hospital where he was receiving treatment, according to Russian state news agency Interfax.



Lukoil confirmed Maganov's death in a press release on Thursday, but said only that it came "after a serious illness."

But Maganov is now the latest in a series of Russian business executives who have died in unusual circumstances this year, amid speculation that murders of top businessmen are being staged to look like suicides.

In March, Lukoil's board of directors issued a statement expressing "its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine."

It said: "Calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy."

Billionaire Alexander Subbotin, the former top manager at Lukoil, was one of the oligarchs who died in strange circumstances this year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Iran tries to steal US Surface (water) drone. VIDEO

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy attempted to capture a U.S. Navy unmanned surface vessel that was operating in the Arabian Gulf on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement.

The Navy stopped the IRGCN support ship from capturing the Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel, which was not named in the news release. The USV does not store sensitive or classified information. It is equipped with commercially available cameras, radars and sensors for data collection and navigation.

the U.SL 5th Fleet spotted IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar towing the USV around 11 p.m. local time Monday, according to the release. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC-12), which was operating nearby, responded while 5th Fleet also sent a MH-60S Sea Hawk from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 out of Bahrain.

Shahid Baziar detached its towing line from the USV and left the waters about four hours after the U.S. responded.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in the release. “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”

Thursday, August 25, 2022

USAF SECRETLY TESTS LONG RANGE CRUISE MISSILE - LAUNCHING FROM B-2


DEFENSE ONE: The U.S. Air Force secretly test-fired a long-range variant of a stealthy cruise missile from a B-2 stealth bomber late last year, defense contractor Northrop Grumman revealed Thursday.

The disclosure of the December 2021 test comes amid increased tension between the United States and China. Beijing conducted military drills and ballistic missile launches near Taiwan after high-profile visits to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. lawmakers.

The cruise missile—Lockheed Martin’s JASSM-ER—has about triple the 370-kilometer range of the standard JASSM, and is slated to be retargetable in flight, making it easier to hit mobile targets deep behind enemy lines. The variant has already been fitted to the B-1 bomber and F-15E strike fighter.

“That's a real advantage to be able to conduct strikes in any direction, if you will, and at range,” said Mark Gunzinger, a retired Air Force B-52 pilot who directs future aerospace concepts and capabilities assessments at The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. It also “expands their ability to avoid the highest-risk threat areas while still holding the targets at risk.”

Few details of the test were revealed. The “B-2 successfully released a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range,” Northrop said in a Thursday statement. Air Force officials confirmed the test occurred, but did not immediately have additional details.

“The JASSM-ER further enhances the B-2’s ability to hit any target, anywhere,” Northrop said in the statement. “The integration of JASSM-ER enables the delivery of a low observable asset capable of traveling greater distances than its predecessor.”

Monday, August 22, 2022

NASA releases stunning images of Jupiter from James Webb telescope

NASA:

click to enlarge (C) NASA


With giant storms, powerful winds, auroras, and extreme temperature and pressure conditions, Jupiter has a lot going on. Now, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured new images of the planet. Webb’s Jupiter observations will give scientists even more clues to Jupiter’s inner life.  

“We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley. De Pater led the observations of Jupiter with Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program. Webb itself is an international mission led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). “It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image,” she said. 

The two images come from the observatory’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. Since infrared light is invisible to the human eye, the light has been mapped onto the visible spectrum. Generally, the longest wavelengths appear redder and the shortest wavelengths are shown as more blue. Scientists collaborated with citizen scientist Judy Schmidt to translate the Webb data into images. 

In the standalone view of Jupiter, created from a composite of several images from Webb, auroras extend to high altitudes above both the northern and southern poles of Jupiter. The auroras shine in a filter that is mapped to redder colors, which also highlights light reflected from lower clouds and upper hazes. A different filter, mapped to yellows and greens, shows hazes swirling around the northern and southern poles. A third filter, mapped to blues, showcases light that is reflected from a deeper main cloud.  

The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears white in these views, as do other clouds, because they are reflecting a lot of sunlight. 

The brightness here indicates high altitude – so the Great Red Spot has high-altitude hazes, as does the equatorial region,” said Heidi Hammel, Webb interdisciplinary scientist for solar system observations and vice president for science at AURA“The numerous bright white ‘spots’ and ‘streaks’ are likely very high-altitude cloud tops of condensed convective storms.” By contrast, dark ribbons north of the equatorial region have little cloud cover.  


click to enlarge




Friday, August 12, 2022

Russia launches satellite stalking satellite.




INTERESTING ENGINEERING: In covert space operations news, a strange Russian satellite that is apparently intended to eavesdrop on U.S. military satellites in orbit has just been launched. At its current trajectory, it should be able to close in on its target sometime on August 4th, 2022.

Before its launch, the new Russian spacecraft was rumored to be an "inspector" satellite and is thought to be specifically designed to stalk other satellites to get a closer look. The espionage satellite, which is expected to be given the name Kosmos 2558, was put into the same orbit as the USA 326 military satellite, which was launched in February.

The Russian satellite was launched at a time when the American satellite was traveling above the Russian spaceport of Plesetsk, according to Marco Langbroek, an astrodynamics lecturer at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, who followed the two satellites' orbital planes.

“The two orbits are very close, the main difference being a relatively small difference of a few tens of kilometers in orbital altitude,” Langbroek told Gizmodo in an interview. “So that is a very clear indication.”

The U.S. satellite is moving in a 97.4-degree inclined Sun-synchronous orbit, while the Russian satellite is moving in a 97.25-degree inclined orbit, explained Langbroek. The Russian satellite might also maneuver its orbit within the next few days to move even closer to its U.S. counterpart.

“If one or both of them do not maneuver in the meantime, Kosmos 2558 will pass USA 326 at a distance of approximately 75 kilometers (46 miles) on August 4th, near 14:47 UTC [10:47 a.m. ET],” Langbroek said.
Satellite stalking is not exactly something new

According to experts like Langbroek, this type of Russian satellite has already been used to stalk satellites in orbit.

“Presumably, it has some kind of sensor system that’s optimized to observe other satellites, rather than the sort of usual observing satellite that’s optimized to take pictures of the ground,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also told Gizmodo. “We don’t know that for sure, we’re just inferring that from how it’s behaving.”






Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Video shows multiple explosions at Russian Air Base in Russian-occupied Crimea

Huge explosions at the Saki Air Base (Novofedorivka) in Russian-occupied Crimea after possible Ukrainian strikes this afternoon. 

Oleg Kryuchkov, adviser to the head of the Crimean region -- which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 -- confirmed several explosions had occurred near the village of Novofedorivka.

On his Telegram channel, Kryuchkov said: "So far, I can only confirm the fact of several explosions in the Novofedorivka area. I ask everyone to wait for official messages."
Separately, Sergey Aksenov, the head of the so-called Republic of Crimea, said "I went to the scene in the village of Novofedorivka, Saki district. The circumstances are being clarified."

There was no word from the Ukrainian side about any possible attacks in the area. Ukraine is not known to have struck the territory of Crimea since the Russian invasion began.



Russian Television quickly sent out an explanation saying it was an accident: 

"Huge explosions reported near a Russian military base in Crimea were the result of an accident at an ammunition storage facility, according to Russia’s MoD. No one was injured in the accident and damage to the stored equipment has apparently been minimal, officials added. Emergency services are combating the flames on site. An investigation into the exact causes of the accident is underway."

Saki is a homebase of the 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet (warplanes: Su-30SM, Su-24M, Su-24MP, Tu-134).

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Zawahiri killed in drone Hellfire 9x "Flying Ginsu" strike .

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US
officials on Monday said that US forces in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. In a televised address, President Joe Biden announced his death and said no civilian casualties were reported in the operation that was conducted over the weekend.

Quoting a senior official in the Biden administration, news agency AFP said that Zawahiri was on the balcony of a house in Kabul when he was targeted with two Hellfire missiles, an hour after sunrise on July 31.

According to the official's account, Biden gave his green light for the strike on July 25 - as he was recovering in isolation from Covid-19.

However, pictures from the Kabul home where Zawahiri was living showed no signs of an explosion, pointing to the use again by the US of the macabre Hellfire R9X.

But, What is Hellfire 9X?

Hellfire 9X is also called the "ninja bomb". It is reportedly said that the missile has become the US weapon of choice for killing leaders of extremist groups while avoiding civilian casualties.

The missile is fired from a Predator drone. It has no warhead, but deploys six blades which fly in at high speed, crush and slice the targeted person.

This is the reason why it is called the "flying ginsu", after the 1980 TV commercial for Japanese kitchen knives that would cut cleanly through aluminum cans and remain perfectly sharp.

Some pictures posted online show the impact of these missiles. One of these old photos on Twitter claims to show a car destroyed by Hellfire R9X in Idlib, Syria.


Why are these missiles used in special cases?

In a report, the Wall Street Journal said that the missiles were born after former US President Barack Obama emphasized on avoiding civilian deaths in US airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and other countries.

The R9X variant of Hellfire is used only in specific circumstances, particularly when a terrorist leader has been pinpointed. It is intended to limit damage compared to typical missiles by reducing the risk of killing innocent civilians around the target.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Aircraft spots: UAE C-17 spotted in Amarillo picking up two AH-1Z viper helicopters


Super rare visit in Amarillo from a United Arab Emirates C-17 as they flew in to pickup two 2 AH-1Z Vipers for Bahrain. Needless to say I was there to document it.

Funny thing, millions of dollars of aviation hardware on the ramp and what it finally comes down to loading it - is old fashioned human muscle pushing it like my old Buick that wouldn't start.

Bahrain is to receive its AH-1Z attack helicopters under an FMS deal that was first approved in April 2018 and signed in February 2019. The helicopters are being built under the US military’s Lot 16 production run, with deliveries to Bahrain now expected to commence later this year.

As noted by the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) when the procurement was first approved, in addition to the 12 AH-1Z helicopters, Bahrain is to also acquire Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and BAE Systems Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II guided rockets, as well as Thales’ TopOwl helmet-mounted display system.

The total value of the deal, including spares, support, and ancillary equipment, was estimated by the DSCA to be USD911.4 million.


Video by Steve Douglass 

click to enlarge - video (C) Steve Douglass 


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Northrop Grumman concept showcases hypothetical supersonic Air Force One

FARNBOROUGH, England – July 19, 2022 – A new supersonic aircraft tailored to provide quick-reaction capabilities to the U.S. military and allies will be offered through a collaborative agreement between Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Boom Supersonic.

The agreement to together propose special mission variants of Boom’s Overture supersonic aircraft was finalized at the Farnborough International Air Show.

PHOTO BY GUY NORRIS AVWEEK 

“Pairing Northrop Grumman’s airborne defense systems integration expertise with Boom’s advanced Overture supersonic aircraft demonstrates the power of collaborations like this for the benefit of our customers,” said Tom Jones, president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “Together we can ensure our military customers have variants of Overture for missions where advanced system capabilities and speed are critical.”

Designed to carry up to 80 passengers at twice the speed of today’s airliners, a special mission variant of Overture has the potential to support government and military missions that require rapid response.

Fitted with specialized capabilities, the aircraft could be used to deliver medical supplies, provide for emergency medical evacuation or surveil vast areas faster than conventional aircraft. The special mission Overture variant could also be used to coordinate other aircraft and ground assets in a variety of scenarios.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN/BOOM SUPERSONIC 



“Time is a strategic advantage in high-consequence scenarios, from military operations to disaster response,” said Blake Scholl, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Boom Supersonic. “This collaboration between Boom and Northrop Grumman unlocks Overture’s unmatched high-speed mission capability for the United States and its allies.”

Designed and built in the United States, the first Overture aircraft will be in production for commercial use in 2024, start flight tests in 2026 and begin carrying passengers in 2029.

About Northrop Grumman

Monday, July 18, 2022

KENDALL: USAF'S NGAD CONTRACTOR SELECTION IS DRAWING NEAR

LONDON:



The Air Force has yet to pick a winner among the companies still vying to build the service’s sixth generation jet, but a final down-select is “not all that far away,” the service’s top leader told Breaking Defense this weekend. While Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall declined to say when the service will choose a manufacturer for the fighter jet that will be the cornerstone of the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems, he offered a small clue about the trajectory of the highly-classified program. “It’s not imminent but it’s not all that far away,” Kendall said in an exclusive interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo. “There’s a little hint I’ll drop for you.” The Air Force has confirmed three elements of the NGAD program so far: a manned, sixth-generation fighter, the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile currently under development, and a suite of drones — what Kendall calls “collaborative combat aircraft” — that will augment the manned fighter in battle.

In June, Kendall announced that the NGAD fighter had progressed to the engineering, manufacturing and development stage, prompting speculation about whether the Air Force had chosen a prime contractor for the program. However, later that month Kendall said there was still ongoing competition for NGAD, raising further questions about the status of the program.

Although Kendall declined to answer most of Breaking Defense’s questions about NGAD, he stated that the program will not have a single prime in the “systems integrator” that oversees the makeup of the family of systems, and that the Air Force has separate acquisition efforts for each of the elements.

“The overarching integrator will probably be the government, with probably some industry help,” he said. “The NGAD platform itself will have a traditional prime [contractor].”

The Air Force has been unwilling to discuss which aerospace companies are involved in NGAD. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman could potentially manufacture the sixth-gen fighter, but it is unclear whether all three are currently still participating in the ongoing competition.

At least one full-scale NGAD fighter demonstrator made its inaugural flight in 2020. Air Force officials have declined to give further details about the maker of the aircraft or its capabilities, although they have made clear that digital engineering has been a critical technology that has allowed the service to develop it much more quickly than onlookers had expected.

“What we did was an experimental prototype,” Kendall said in June. “We basically had an X-plane program which was designed to reduce the risk of some of the key technologies that we would need for a production program.”

Kendall has said the Air Force plans to field NGAD “by the end of the decade.” How many the service will ultimately buy is still yet to be disclosed.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Artist illustration of what looks like an unmanned version of the B-21 posted by General Atomics,

 What looks like a unmanned version of the B-21 raider popped up online posted by General Atomics. 


The illustration accompanies an article titled "How AI And Supervised Autonomy Will Change Combat."

LINK

A recent Freedom of Information Act request revealed the B-21 Raider could be operated in a manned or unmanned configuration.


To date, the Air Force has confirmed that the B-21 will be manned — that is, it will carry aircrew — when it enters service around 2025 and that it will be
nuclear-certified about two years later. 

The service has also said no nuclear missions will take place without crew aboard. However, the service has not given a definitive answer on when the aircraft is expected to feature an uninhabited capability. It is reportedly “not a short-term priority” for the Air Force, and thus unlikely to be incorporated into early production models.

The B-21 Raider is currently under construction at the company’s Air Force Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, Calif., and look set to make its first flight in December 2021, after which it will enter flight test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.



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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

New Bell Invictus photos leak online

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Bell’s 360 Invictus advanced helicopter is now 90 percent complete and has had its new open tail rotor system attached at the company’s facility in Amarillo, Texas. Originally designed with a canted, ducted tail rotor, Invictus’ entire tail boom structure was reconfigured to simplify the design and speed building Bell’s pitch for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Recon Aircraft.

New photos of the Invictus (sans engine) began showing up on Twitter and other social media platforms, most likely taken outside the Bell Amarillo Assembly plant.

"One of the things we looked at is as we were doing a competitive prototype, and at the same time are iterating on a weapon system of what the [engineering and manufacturing development] aircraft is going to be — the increment one aircraft — and the way we’re organized is to maintain the connective tissue between those two so that we can keep them as close as possible in terms of what we’re doing on the CP and what the weapon system will be,” Flail recently told reporters on a media trip to Texas." 

As per U.S. Army speed requirements, the tandem-cockpit, single-main-rotor Bell 360 Invictus is designed to fly at least 180 knots. The aircraft’s main rotor system is based on Bell’s 525 Relentless helicopter — which has flown at speeds beyond 200 knots in test flights — but will be scaled to fit the Invictus. While the Bell 525 has five rotor blades, the 360 Invictus will have four.

Bell is competing against Sikorsky and its Raider X helicopter in the FARA contest. The Raider X is a compound-coaxial helicopter with counter-spinning main rotors and a pusher propeller.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Lockheed Martin reveals it's testing lasers on tactical aircraft


WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin today revealed that it delivered a compact directed energy weapon to the Air Force Research Lab in February, a key milestone in the service’s effort to equip a tactical fighter jet with a laser capable of shooting down anti-aircraft missiles.

“It is the smallest, lightest, high energy laser of its power class that Lockheed Martin has built to date,” Tyler Griffin, a company executive, told reporters earlier this month in the run up to the Farnborough Air Show. “It is a critical benchmark in developing an operational laser weapon system in the airborne domain.”

While the Pentagon has pushed forward a number of different directed energy weapons in recent years, the value of this one, dubbed LANCE, is its minimal space, weight and power requirements. “It’s one-sixth the size of what we produced for the Army going back to just 2017,” Griffin added, referring to the Robust Electric laser Initiative program.

The LANCE acronym stands for “Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments.” Lockheed got the initial contract to design, develop and produce LANCE in November 2017 as part of the Air Force’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program.

That effort has three components: in addition to LANCE, there is a beam control system, built by Northrop Grumman, which directs the laser on its target, as well as a pod that is mounted on the aircraft. Boeing is responsible for that pod subsystem, which the Air Force said it received in February 2021.





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