Thursday, June 30, 2022

Russian troops give up snake Island


Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian forces from Snake Island, a strategic Black Sea island off the southern coast near the city of Odesa.

Russia portrayed the pullout from Snake Island off the port city of Odesa as a “goodwill gesture”. Ukraine’s military said the Russians fled the island in two speedboats after a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes.

Ukraine’s win will weaken any plans Russia may have for a future land attack on that stretch of coastline, Ukrainian officials say.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Ukrainian-made Bohdana howitzers had played an important role in routing Russian forces from Snake Island, and he thanked foreign partners for their support.

“KABOOM!” Tweeted Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration. “No more Russian troops on Snake Island.”

Russia’s ministry of defence stated that it had completed its assigned tasks and was tactically withdrawing to allow for grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.“In order to organise humanitarian grain corridors as part of the implementation of joint agreements reached with the participation of the UN, the Russian Federation decided to leave its positions on Zmiinyi Island,” the defence ministry said.

Yermak described Russia’s claim of goodwill as a lie.

Ukrainian forces also reported a small win in the country’s southern Kherson region, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the invasion. Ukrainian forces now control the Kherson village of Potomkine, according to Ukraine’s military.

But Russia continues to carry out attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, having secured almost all of Luhansk region this month, to fulfil its goal of securing the entire Donbas region. Six people were injured in an attack on the city of Slovyansk, according to its mayor, Vadym Lyakh.

Ukraine said it had forced Russian troops to flee overnight on two speed boats. The statement, by Ukraine’s southern command, said explosions could still be heard and the island was covered in smoke, appearing to indicate a battles may be continuing.

Snake Island was made famous when Russia first captured it in February. A Ukrainian soldier posted on the island told an attacking Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”, which has become one of the most popular Ukrainian slogans of resistance since the invasion.

The Ukrainian postal service issued a stamp showing a Ukrainian soldier giving the finger to the Russian cruiser Moskva.

The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by Russia has caused grain prices to soar, threatening famine in several countries.

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said in May that the island was critically important to both Russia and Ukraine. He said whoever controlled Snake Island controlled the land – and to some extent air – security of southern Ukraine. He said at the time that Ukraine believed Russia could use the island to launch an invasion of western Ukraine and send troops into Moldova’s Transnistria region, where Moscow already has troops stationed.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, Vadym Denysenko, told Ukrainian TV that Snake Island’s recapture was a “huge victory” for Ukraine.

He said that after Ukraine destroyed Russia’s Mosvka warship, the Russians wanted to turn Snake Island into a anti-aircraft defense hub. He said they planned to then use the island to control the entire western part of the Black Sea and launch a land invasion, he said.

“Now the Russians cannot do anything in this area of the sea, except, unfortunately, shell Ukrainian cities with missiles from their ships,” Denysenko said.

Ukraine’s armed forces have reported carrying out several attacks on the island since it was captured. On 2 May the army released a video of strikes carried on two Russian patrol boats near Snake Island.

Attacks increased on the island in the last two weeks. A spokesperson for Ukrainian’s southern command said on Monday that there was “ongoing operation” to liberate the island but it was likely to go on for a long time. The southern command also released a video showing 10 strikes on the island, one of which allegedly shows the destruction of a Russian Pantsir-S1 air defence system.

The previous week, on 17 June, Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian tugboat that they said was carrying ammunition, weapons and personnel to the island. On 20 June Ukraine targeted gas platforms near Snake Island that Russia had reportedly been using. The explosion was so loud that people in Vylkove, the nearest Ukrainian land settlement, could hear it, according to residents interviewed by the Economist.

On 22 June Ukraine published a satellite image of the island. It said black dots represented places where it had successfully attacked Russian positions.

Russia appears to have responded by firing missiles into the Odesa region. Ukraine said six people were injured in the attack, including a child.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Nuclear scientist trapped in Ukraine rescued by US based project DYNAMO

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa-based nonprofit has successfully rescued and exfiltrated an American nuclear scientist from Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine.

According to Project DYNAMO, Texas native John Spor was driven nearly 20 hours straight across Ukraine before crossing into Poland and reuniting with his family.

He reunited with his sister, Laurie, and his son, Sean, around 2 p.m. local time.

Project DYNAMO says Spor, who founded Texas Photonics Inc., has been hunted by Russian forces for months.

Spor was in Mariupol when Russia attacked in February. He's been in hiding ever since.

"Think of it like you’re being hunted because that’s kind of it felt. I couldn’t make a mistake" Spor said.

He is credited with designing "sensitive technology found in dozens of laser-guided weapons systems used by the U.S. military," a spokesperson for Project DYNAMO explained.

"It changes things, because most people that get captured by the Russians are nobody’s that they think are somebody’s. John’s actually somebody," co-founder of Project DYNAMO Bryan Stern said.

The organization says the Russians consider Spor a "high-value target" and that Chechen-Russian forces have ransacked his home and tried to find him in recent months.

"I had pretty well assumed that there was not a way to get out," Spor said. "I was skeptical that they was going to be able to get me out because of where I was I was way behind the Russian lines."

"Spor’s knowledge of sensitive U.S. military technology is of tremendous intelligence value to Russia," Project DYNAMO wrote in an email. "If he was captured and interrogated, his knowledge would cause exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security and NATO forces."

Spor's sister Laurie asked lawmakers and the U.S. State Department for help rescuing Spor.

"There was no way for him to travel alone," she explained.

The State Department, in turn, recommended Project DYNAMO. The nonprofit has made headlines repeatedly in recent months. Project DYNAMO is veteran-run and donor-funded. It works to exfiltrate people from dangerous places around the world.

The mission to rescue Spor included more than a month of planning.

"On Tuesday, the team from Project DYNAMO led by Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project DYNAMO and a highly decorated U.S. military officer, moved Spor through Russian territory, crossing more than 30 Russian checkpoints and into Ukraine," the nonprofit said. "Stern employed a series of complex tactics and techniques, honed over many years of government service, to mask Spor, his location, and his movement from the clutches of Russian security services."

“Project DYNAMO has been with our family every step of the way through this nightmare. DYNAMO has been the answer to our family’s prayers,” Lauri Weigle, Spor’s sister, told Project DYNAMO. “We are in amazement that he is finally on his way to us and safe after months of hoping and praying.”

“I’m so grateful for Project DYNAMO and the support they have provided to me and my family during this time,” Sean told the nonprofit.

Project DYNAMO says it has now rescued more than 2,000 people from Ukraine. Anyone needing help is asked to register with the State Department's STEP program and then with Project DYNAMO here.

Friday, June 17, 2022

NASA team to study UAPs


NASA is commissioning a study team to start early in the fall to examine unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) – that is, observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena – from a scientific perspective. The study will focus on identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward.

The limited number of observations of UAPs currently makes it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events. Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety. Establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA’s goals to ensure the safety of aircraft. There is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin.

“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We have access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space – and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry. We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That’s the very definition of what science is. That’s what we do.”

The agency is not part of the Department of Defense’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force or its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group. NASA has, however, coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of unidentified aerial phenomena.

The agency’s independent study team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York City, and previously the chair of the astrophysics department at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. Daniel Evans, the assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, will serve as the NASA official responsible for orchestrating the study.

“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can,” said Spergel. “We will be identifying what data – from civilians, government, non-profits, companies – exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”

The study is expected to take about nine months to complete. It will secure the counsel of experts in the scientific, aeronautics, and data analytics communities to focus on how best to collect new data and improve observations of UAPs.

“Consistent with NASA’s principles of openness, transparency, and scientific integrity, this report will be shared publicly,” said Evans. “All of NASA’s data is available to the public – we take that obligation seriously – and we make it easily accessible for anyone to see or study.”

Although unrelated to this new study, NASA has an active astrobiology program that focuses on the origins, evolution, and distribution of life beyond Earth. From studying water on Mars to probing promising “oceans worlds,” such as Titan and Europa, NASA’s science missions are working together with a goal to find signs of life beyond Earth.

Furthermore, the agency’s search for life also includes using missions such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and Hubble Space Telescope, to search for habitable exoplanets, while the James Webb Space Telescope will try to spot biosignatures in atmospheres around other planets – spotting oxygen and carbon dioxide in other atmospheres, for example, could suggest that an exoplanet supports plants and animals like ours does. NASA also funds space-based research that focuses on technosignatures – that is signatures of advanced technology in outer space -- from other planets.

Learn more about NASA’s astrobiology program online at:

Thursday, June 16, 2022


US forces captured a senior ISIS leader who is known as a bomb maker during an operation in Syria on Thursday.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition against The Islamic State, said no civilians were harmed in the operation and there were no damages incurred to coalition aircraft or assets.

“The mission was meticulously planned to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to civilians,” the coalition said in a statement.

The identity of the ISIS leader, described as “one of the group’s top leaders in Syria,” has not been released. Additional details on the operation were not immediately available.

“Coalition forces will continue to hunt the remnants of Daesh wherever they hide to ensure their enduring defeat,” Operation Inherent Resolve said.

In February, ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blew himself up, killing his wife and two kids as US special forces swooped into the Syrian village of Atmeh.

U.S. defense official said there were no injuries to U.S. military personnel and no damage to aircraft involved in the raid.

"Coalition forces detained a senior Daesh leader during an operation in Syria June 16," Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement. "The detained individual was assessed to be an experienced bomb maker and facilitator who became one of the group's top leaders in Syria."

A U.S. official told ABC News the name of the ISIS leader captured in the raid is Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi and described him as actively planning ISIS operations.

“Though degraded, ISIS remains a threat. We remain dedicated to its defeat. Last night’s operation, which took a senior ISIS operator off the battlefield, demonstrates our commitment to the security of the Middle East and to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Gen. Erik Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, in a statement. 

Video posts on twitter showed black hawk helicopters flying low over Syrian city last night, possibly flown by 160th SOAR  pilots made famous by the Bin Laden raid. LINK: 

click to enlarge 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

China Science & Technology Daily announces radio telescope may have intercepted radio signals from extraterrestrials - then walks it back.

NEWSWEEK/GLOBAL SOURCES : Scientists in China say they have detected what could be the trace of a signal from an alien civilization.

The researchers have identified what they have called "suspicious" signals from space as part of a search for evidence of aliens, and work is ongoing to determine that they might be.

The signals were detected by China's FAST radio telescope, also referred to as the "Sky Eye" telescope. With a dish diameter of 1,600 ft, it is the largest of its kind in the world, and since 2020 the telescope has been involved in researching alien life.

On Tuesday, the Chinese state media outlet Science and Technology Daily reported that researchers under professor Zhang Tongjie, described as chief scientist of the China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group at Beijing Normal University, had found a number of "possible technological traces" from intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the cosmos.

Science and Technology Daily reports that Tongjie and his team identified two groups of what were referred to as "suspicious" signals back in 2020 and that a further signal was identified this year.

The signals are certainly not proof of alien life just yet. Tongjie told the media outlet: "The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out. This may be a long process."

He added that the team would use the telescope to repeat observations of the so-called suspicious signals to see if any further information can be obtained.

Unidentified radio signals from space are nothing new and often provoke speculation about a potential intelligence source. Often, though, such signals can be explained as probably having a natural source such as a highly energetic star.

Perhaps the most famous mysterious space signal ever detected was the Wow! signal, detected by the Big Ear telescope at Ohio State University in 1977.

The apparent lack of aliens has given rise to what's known as the Fermi paradox, which describes the contradiction between mathematical predictions that alien life should exist in our galaxy and the fact that we've not seen any.

Some researchers, for instance, have suggested that there should be tens of thousands of alien civilizations in our galaxy.

Some potential solutions to the Fermi paradox include that we're overestimating how common intelligence life might be; that intelligent life has decided not to transmit information; or that we're simply not seeing or understanding such information. 


The report, however, has now been deleted. The reason for the same is not yet clear. This happened after the news had already started trending on social network Weibo and was picked up by other media outlets, including state-run. When the link is clicked, the viewer sees this page:

Why China has deleted this report after publishing the report, its information is not yet available.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

C-17 crew cleared of fault after evacuating Afghans fell from plane during U.S. military withdrawal

AIR FORCE TIMES: An American C-17 crew tasked with evacuating people from Kabul last August followed the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict when they decided to take off amid a mob of frantic Afghans on the runway, killing multiple people who clung to the transport jet, the Air Force said in a release Monday.

Video footage that went viral on social media showed people falling from the outside of the enormous Globemaster III as it began its ascent from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 16, 2021. Human remains were found in the airlifter’s wheel well once it landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, spurring an Office of Special Investigations inquiry into the loss of life.

The C-17 had arrived with equipment to support the humanitarian airlift, but was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport. The jet taxied through the crowd and escaped.

Airmen used sound judgment in getting airborne as quickly as possible during the “unprecedented and rapidly deteriorating security situation,” service spokesperson Ann Stefanek said. “The aircrew’s airmanship and quick thinking ensured the safety of the crew and their aircraft.”

The Washington Post, which first reported the discovery of the remains, noted that the pilots declared an in-flight emergency when they could not pull up their landing gear.

Upon landing at Al Udeid, Air Force investigators impounded the aircraft to collect the human remains and turned the matter over to Qatari police, who did not investigate further.

Satellite images indicate Iran may be readying for space launch

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower.

Iran did not acknowledge a forthcoming launch at the spaceport and its mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, its state-run IRNA news agency in May said that Iran likely would have seven homemade satellites ready for launch by the end of the Persian calendar year in March 2023. A Defense Ministry official also recently suggested Iran soon could test its new solid-fueled, satellite-carrying rocket called the Zuljanah.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

MV-22B Osprey crashes in California - 5 dead.

WP: An Osprey aircraft carrying five Marines crashed near Glamis, Calif., located just north of the Mexican border, at about 12:25 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the California-based unit that was responsible for the MV-22B Osprey, declined to comment on potential fatalities. Military and civilian first responders are at the crash site, he said.

“We ask for the public’s patience as we work diligently with first responders and the unit to identify what occurred this afternoon,” the Marines said in an emailed statement.

The Marines denied posts circulating on social media asserting that the aircraft may have been carrying nuclear material. “There was no nuclear material on board the aircraft,” the Marines said.

Officials in Imperial County, where Glamis is located, could not immediately be reached for comment, but county officials wrote on social media that they were aware of a downed aircraft and were providing assistance. Glamis, east of San Diego, is a desert area known for its sand dunes.

Osprey aircraft, used by the U.S. and Japanese militaries, take off and land vertically like helicopters but fly like airplanes. The MV-22B — which combines the flexibility of a chopper that can operate in diverse environments with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft — is primarily used to transport troops and equipment in support of amphibious assaults.

Marines launch a ‘kamikaze’ drone from an Osprey aircraft

But the aircraft’s safety record has come under scrutiny. More than 40 people have died while flying on Ospreys since 1991.

In March, an Osprey crashed during NATO exercises in Norway, killing four American service members. In 2017, a Marine Osprey crashed in Syria, injuring two. That year, a crash in Australia also left three Marines dead. In 2014, an Osprey briefly lost power while flying over the Persian Gulf, resulting in one Marine fatality. One of the deadliest crashes came in April 2000, when all 19 Marines aboard a V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft were killed. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

Holloman AFB Rocket Sled sets hypersonic ground (recoverable) rocket speed record.

In late March, the 846th Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., successfully stopped a reusable sled traveling at 6,400 feet per second on a monorail, making it a historic event for the team’s Hypersonic Sled Recovery, or HSR, effort.

Lt. Col. Paul Dolce, Commander, 846th Test Squadron, congratulated his team on this momentous achievement at the Holloman High Speed Test Track.

"What you accomplished marked the fastest recovery of a monorail sled in over 30 years, and the first time we have recovered a planned reusable sled at those speeds ever,” Dolce said. “Truly historic in my books! This could not have been done without everyone here who works at the track. 

“These efforts will now setup our future HyTIP [Hypersonic Test and Evaluation Investment Portfolio] runs for success and add a new capability for our hypersonic customers."

Daniel Lopez, a project manager for the HHSTT, added that he hopes this is a sign of future successful hypersonic recovery tests.

“I echo what Lt. Col. Dolce said,” Lopez said. “Excellent job to the entire team for their hard work and innovation. This just sets the bar that much higher.”

The 846 TS has been responding to a significant increase in demand for hypersonic weapons testing, with a focus on improving its high-speed breaking capability in order to recover sleds for post-test analysis. HHSTT is the only sled track capable of recovering sleds with test articles from velocities over Mach 5.

The track serves as a critical link between laboratory-type investigations and full-scale flight tests by simulating selected portions of the flight environment under accurately programmed and instrumented conditions..

The HHSTT is the world's premier rocket sled test track. The HHSTT at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, is an aerospace ground test facility that conducted its first sled test in 1950. During tests, payload and instrumentation are moved along a straight-line path by means of rocket sleds, which operate on a set of heavy-duty crane rails. These rails span a total linear distance of 50,988 feet. They are continuously welded and aligned to rigid tolerances with respect to straightness and surface smoothness.

The Test Track provides a critical link between laboratory-type investigations and full-scale flight tests. The Test Track provides an efficient, safe, and cost-effective ground test alternative to expensive developmental flight tests. Complementing the Test Track itself, the overall HHSTT complex encompasses ancillary facilities for artificial rain simulation, an accurately surveyed ejection test area, captive and free-flight blast test sites, impact test sites, and a horizontal rocket test stand. Support facilities include buildings for electronic and photo-optical instrumentation, a telemetry ground station, and engineering and shop facilities for design and fabrication of test sleds.

Both military and civilian professionals operate the HHSTT and have the skills needed to design, fabricate, instrument, launch, photograph, and analyze the performance of test vehicles and payloads.


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