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


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


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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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.


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