Paul Miller writes: Mayor Clint Eastwood became famous playing fictional tough guys like Rowdy Yates and Dirty Harry. Lately, he’s achieved even greater fame as the director of films about real-life heroes — including Iraq vet Chris Kyle and pilot Sully Sullenberger.
Now, Eastwood is working on his next project, about three friends who stopped a terrorist attack two years ago on a train in France. One of them, a U.S. Air Force enlisted man named Spencer Stone, did something very few people have done and lived to tell about: Without a weapon or anything to defend himself, he charged a fanatical and heavily armed enemy, knocking him to the ground. And then he and his friends, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, disarmed the man and rendered him unconscious, saving dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent lives in the process.
“It was a very important event, because there were so many people on the train, and the guy had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and he could have done a tremendous amount of damage,” Eastwood said. “And there’s no reason to think he wasn’t going to.”
At his office on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Eastwood is busy these days refining the shooting schedule, while his casting directors are choosing the actors, costumers are picking the outfits, and set designers are planning the shots — all routine tasks for a major Hollywood picture. But the film, “The 15:17 to Paris,” which Eastwood says will probably be released later this year, has a story that promises to be unprecedented in its heart-stopping impact, yet which carries a timeless message of people putting their lives on the line to protect others.
“My buddies and I were on a trip around Europe,” Stone told The Pine Cone this week from a family cabin at Lake Tahoe. He’d known the men — Sadler, a student at Sacramento State, and Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — since their childhood in a Sacramento suburb. “Anthony and I started the trip in Rome, and then we went to Venice, Munich and Berlin. And then Alek, who was coming off a tour of duty in Afghanistan, joined us in Amsterdam.”
Their next destination was to be Paris, and on August 21, 2015, they boarded a high-speed train set to leave Amsterdam at 3:17 p.m. (15:17 on the 24-hour clock used in Europe) for the French capital. “As we boarded,” Stone said, “we noticed there didn’t seem to be any security — no metal detectors, no bag check. Nothing.”
But they didn’t think much about it, and the men — off duty and in civilian clothes — soon settled into their first class seats, had a meal and a little wine, checked the internet, and promptly went to sleep.
“We were always on the go, and for us, trains rides were a chance to take a nap,” Stone said.
A brief stop at the Gare Midi in Brussels woke them up — but for only a moment, Stone said. They had no idea a 25-year-old Moroccan man, Ayub El Ghazzani, had boarded in Brussels carrying a deadly backpack.
A man running and glass shattering
As the train hurtled through the European countryside, the three friends dozed, and the next thing Stone remembers was being awakened when a train crew member sprinted past him toward the front of the train. Taking off his noise-reducing headphones, Stone says he heard glass shatter behind him, and people gasping and screaming. Turning around to look in the direction of the noise, he saw El Ghazzani, shirtless and with a backpack attached to his chest, bend down at the end of the car and pick up an assault rifle.
“It was an AK-47, and he was trying to load a round, and I immediately knew he was a terrorist,” Stone said.
And this was no movie. Suddenly confronted with what was sure to be a life-or-death situation, the Air Force man hesitated for just a moment. Read the rest of this entry »
The new intellectualism of cultural anxiety
And that’s why France is the epicenter of today’s fearsome battle between Western elites bent on protecting and expanding the well-entrenched policy of mass immigration and those who see this spreading influx as an ultimate threat to the West’s cultural heritage, not to mention its internal tranquility. In France it is a two-front war. One is the political front, where Marine Le Pen’s National Front has moved from the fringes of politics into the mainstream. The other is the intellectual front, where a new breed of writers, thinkers, and historians has emerged to question the national direction and to decry those who have set the country upon its current course.
Americans have always had a special affinity for France. It was critical to the American founding by way of Lafayette’s mission. In the 20th century many artistic and upper-class Americans embraced Paris as the site of and model for their own cultural strivings. France’s 1940 fall to Nazi Germany dealt the first real blow to American isolationism. After the 1945 victory in Europe, U.S. links to Paris, London, and Europe generally rendered postwar Atlanticism more than just a strategy: it was a civilizational commitment that helped define who we were as Americans.
Paris remains beautiful, though crime has been rising for a generation and the city has the trappings of wartime, with heavily armed soldiers visibly guarding sensitive targets—museums, schools, newspapers—against Islamist terror. The approaching elections, where the National Front will surely exceed its past vote totals, mark a tremulous new era.
Indeed, serious people have for some years been contemplating whether France is nearing the precipice of civil war. That’s probably unlikely, at least in the near future, but few would be shocked if the political and communal conflicts exploded into violence not seen in decades. And that has spawned a radically changed intellectual climate. The French intelligentsia and its cultural establishment still lean, in the main, toward the left, as they have since the end of World War II, or indeed since the divisive Dreyfus affair of the Third Republic. But today, France’s most read and most discussed popular writers—novelists and political essayists—are conservatives of one stripe or another. They are not concerned, even slightly, with the issues that animate American “mainstream” think-tank conservatism—lowering taxes, cutting federal programs, or maintaining some kind of global military hegemony. Their focus is France’s national culture and its survival. When they raise, as they do, the subjects embraced by American paleoconservatives and the so-called alt-right, that doesn’t mean the French debate has been taken over by extremists. The authors driving the French conversation are in almost every instance prominent figures whose views would have put them in the Gaullist middle or somewhat left of center at any time in the 1960s or ’70s. But France has changed, and what National Review in the 1990s called “the national question” has been brought to the very heart of the country’s national debate.
At the moment, France’s most important political intellectual on the right is probably Éric Zemmour, a former editorial writer for Le Figaro. A natural polemicist, he is a descendant of working-class Algerian Jews who fled to France in the 1950s. Though he demonstrates serious intellectual breadth, Zemmour’s particular passion is polemical battle. He was fined under French anti-racism laws in 2011 for publicly referring to racial discrepancies in crime rates. No one questioned the accuracy of his statistics, but discussing them in a way that was seen as contravening French anti-defamation law was an absolute no-no. Three years later, he reached a pinnacle of influence with the publication of his 500-page Le Suicide français, a modern national history that sold 400,000 copies within two months and became the top-selling book in France. Weeks later, when attacks by French-born Islamists on the offices of Charlie Hebdoand a kosher supermarket outside Paris stunned the nation (while being greeted with shocking indifference in the predominantly Muslim Paris suburbs), Zemmour’s book was there to explain how France had arrived at that dismal intersection.
The literary technique of Le Suicide français seems made for the internet and social media. The book marches, in short vignettes, from the death of de Gaulle in 1970 through the end of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency in 2012. Zemmour takes an illustrative event—sometimes no more than a demonstration, a film, or a pop song—and shows how it reflects national decline or actually pushed that decline onward.
One central theme is that the young bourgeois nihilists of the May 1968 street revolution prevailed. Not in politics or at least not immediately: de Gaulle’s party remained in power for more than a decade after. But the cultural victory was decisive. De Gaulle as a father figure was overthrown, and so was the traditional idea of the father. As the traditional family weakened, birth rates sank. In short order, France embraced legalized abortion and no-fault divorce; the father, when he didn’t disappear altogether, began to behave like a second mother. Traces of the shift show up in pop music. The singer Michel Delpech gave his blessing to his wife leaving for another man in one popular song:
You can even make a half-brother for Stéphanie
That would be marvelous for her.
Or as the comic Guy Bedos put it, “We separated by mutual agreement, especially hers.”
Such shifts coincided, in symbiotic ways that few understood at the time, with the advent of mass immigration. Zemmour writes, “At the same moment the traditional French family receded, as if to compensate symbolically and demographically, the most traditional type of Maghrebine family, the most archaic, the most patriarchal, is invited to take up its role. To come to its rescue. To fill up the places it has left vacant. To replace it.”
Like the immigration narrative of every advanced Western country, the story is complex. France had welcomed and assimilated immigrants from eastern and southern Europe for a century. In the 1960s, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, encouraged by an industrial elite seeking cheaper manual labor, recruited to France each year hundreds of thousands of workers from Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. Rural Maghrebine workers were preferred; they were seen as less Frenchified than workers from Algerian towns, more docile. After worker recruitment was stopped during the recession of 1974, family reunification as a humanitarian policy was instigated, and hundreds of thousands of North African women and children joined their husbands in France. Zemmour concludes that this represented a kind of posthumous victory over de Gaulle by the partisans of Algérie Française, the blending of France and Algeria which de Gaulle had rejected—for reasons of sociology and demography as much as for peace. As he told Alain Peyrefitte in 1959, “Those who dream of integration are birdbrains, even the most brilliant of them. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake up the bottle. After a while, they separate again. The Arabs are Arabs, the French are French.” In the same interview, de Gaulle said the Algérie Française would result in massive immigration to France, and his town Colombey-les-Deux-Églises would be turned into Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées. Read the rest of this entry »
MiG-35 Demo is Both Product Debut and Contrast of Russian and Western Doctrine in the F-35 Era.
Tom Demerly reports: In a widely publicized event on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) parented by United Aircraft Corporation officially demonstrated the new MiG-35 to the Russian government. A subsequent demonstration for export customers was carried out today Jan. 27.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have viewed the first demonstration via remote video due to poor weather in the region.
The new MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: “Fulcrum Foxtrot”) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. Significant upgrades on the MiG-35 include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy on the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 will also integrate precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, a rarity in previous Russian air-ground doctrine.
There is a significant engine upgrade on the new MiG-35. The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.
This marks a fascinating departure from previous Soviet-era combat aircraft capabilities while retaining the Russian penchant for lower unit cost in exchange for numerical superiority, a doctrine that has pervaded Russian military thinking for the entire century.
The Russians have always traded unit capability for numerical superiority, relying on the hope that quantity would beat quality in a major conflict. Interestingly, this doctrine has shifted moderately toward a centrist mix of quality and quantity apparently in search of the best solution for indigenous use as well as attracting export buyers.
The new MiG-35 is an example of this shift. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] 600 Days & Counting: US Air Force’s Unmanned Space Plane, X-37B, on Verge of Breaking Record for Longest Time in SpacePosted: January 16, 2017
It marks the first time for that stealth aircraft to be stationed overseas.
The US Marine Corps said it has sent a squadron of F-35B fighter jets to Japan, marking the first operational overseas deployment for the controversial aircraft that is under scrutiny from president-elect Donald Trump.
The deployment of the 10 planes to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.
With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.
The Marines’s version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.
Trump last month sent shockwaves through the aerospace industry when he tweeted that he wanted rival Boeing to price out a possible alternative.
“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted December 22.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet does not have stealth capabilities and has been in use since the late 1990s.
Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.
Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday conducted a low-altitude flight over South Korea in a show of force against North Korea, which last week conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test to date.
Two Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a single B-52 Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, last week for the NATO exercise.
Three U.S. long-range bombers will be flying over the Czech Republic this week for Joint Terminal Attack Controller Exercise Ample Strike, U.S. European Command announced this weekend.
Two Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a single B-52 Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, last week for the NATO exercise, which kicked off Aug. 30.
The Czechs are hosting the exercise, aimed to train partners in air-land scenarios, for the third time, according to NATO. The bombers will conduct day and night operations Sept. 5-16, EUCOM said. Approximately 300 participants from 18 countries will attend.
The Air Force also is adding air-to-air refueling missions during tactical aircraft and bomber missions. “US Air Force KC-135R tankers will refuel not only the German Tornado jets, Czech and Hungarian Gripen aircraft, but also US Air Force strategic bombers,” Col. Zdenek Bauer of the Czech Air Force Command, the exercise director, said in a release. Read the rest of this entry »
So far, his story is shaping up as the now-customary list of jihadist clichés.
America just suffered our worst terrorist attack since 9/11. We need to start talking honestly about the enemy that keeps butchering Americans.
writes: Tonight we burn illusions. A terrorist attack on a popular gay club in Orlando, Florida in the middle of the night ended before the dawn with the violent deaths of at least 50 innocents and the maiming of 53 more. This was the bloodiest terrorist attack on America since 9/11. The Pulse nightclub, something of an icon in Florida LGBT circles, was transformed into a charnel house.
“While all Islamists view gays and lesbians with a distaste that veers easily into violence, ISIS kills them so routinely – pushing them off buildings before the cameras, for instance – that it scarcely attracts attention any longer. Nobody should be shocked that a murderer swearing allegiance to ISIS makes gays his target – particularly during Ramadan, when the group has exhorted its followers to make war on infidels with enhanced intensity.”
The United States had been lucky, having avoided truly mass casualty terrorist incidents since that awful day 15 years ago, through a combination of luck, inept enemies, and excellent intelligence work. But the Orlando horror demonstrates that attacks on soft targets in public places can cause huge numbers of casualties, here as well as in Europe, like last November’s assaults on Paris that killed 130 people, 89 of them at the Bataclan theater, where a hostage situation resulted in a bloodbath. Something similar has just happened in Florida.
His statement that his son was triggered by seeing two men kissing in public seems unlikely to endear the family to the American public.
“Within hours of the massacre, progressives and jihad apologists were insisting that the Orlando attack was ‘really’ about guns – and certainly not about Islamism or jihadism. The Pulse massacre was about guns the way that the 9/11 attacks were ‘really’ about box cutters and the 2013 Boston bombing was ‘really’ about pressure cookers.”
While the Paris attacks were the work of nine terrorists, plus several others providing logistical support, so far only one killer has been identified in the Orlando atrocity. While there are reports of other shooters, these remain unconfirmed, and the sole terrorist definitely involved was Omar Mateen, born in this country in 1986 to immigrant parents from Afghanistan. He was killed by police at the end of the nightmare he inflicted on Orlando.
So far, his story is shaping up as the now-customary list of jihadist clichés. The 29-year-old went from a relatively normal American life towards extremism, winding up on the radar of the FBI more than once for his aggressive beliefs. A brief marriage failed, in part because he frequently beat his wife, she claims, asserting that Mateen “was not a stable person.” A trauma like divorce leading to an embrace of jihadism is as common as can be in extremist circles.
The killer’s family has claimed that their son’s terrible act had “nothing to do with religion” – again, following the script we have come to expect whenever a young person, usually male, brutally murders strangers in the name of Islam. While Omar Mateen’s father claims to be utterly mystified by his son’s actions, that assertion should be examined closely, since Seddique Mateen has publicly praised the Taliban in his home country – the very people the American military has been fighting since late 2001. In a truly bizarre twist, Mateen Senior claims to be the real president of Afghanistan. His statement that his son was triggered by seeing two men kissing in public seems unlikely to endear the family to the American public.
Wasting no time, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Pulse nightclub. This should not surprise, since Mr. Mateen is reported to have declared allegiance to ISIS just before starting his rampage, and that group boasts of its pathological hatred of homosexuals. While all Islamists view gays and lesbians with a distaste that veers easily into violence, ISIS kills them so routinely – pushing them off buildings before the cameras, for instance – that it scarcely attracts attention any longer. Nobody should be shocked that a murderer swearing allegiance to ISIS makes gays his target – particularly during Ramadan, when the group has exhorted its followers to make war on infidels with enhanced intensity.
“There’s also a disturbing question about how Mr. Mateen managed to keep working as a security guard despite having been twice investigated by the FBI.”
Whether Mr. Mateen had any bona fide contacts with the Islamic State is another question, one that investigators will want to answer properly. Since he was known to the FBI, it seems likely that U.S. intelligence had questions about that too. Regardless, since the Islamic State has commanded jihadist wannabes worldwide to take action by themselves, without any direct orders from the group, it’s quite possible that this killer was simply doing what he thought ISIS would want him to do in their name. Read the rest of this entry »
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, reports: A U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying Tuesday in international airspace over the East China Sea was intercepted in an “unsafe manner” by a Chinese J-10 fighter jet, several defense officials tell CNN.
The Chinese jet was never closer than 100 feet to the U.S. aircraft, but it flew with a “high rate of speed as it closed in” on the U.S. aircraft, one official said. Because of that high speed, and the fact it was flying at the same altitude as the U.S. plane, the intercept is defined as unsafe.
The officials did not know if the U.S. plane took any evasive action to avoid the Chinese aircraft or at what point the J-10 broke away. It is also not yet clear if the U.S. will diplomatically protest the incident.
Officials said the RC-135 was on a routine mission.
Why is something that looks just like America’s premiere fighter hanging out parked at a Chinese airport?
In the images, the fifth generation fighter is clearly parked alongside two rows of what appear to be cropdusting airplanes.
Located at Shaanxi provinece in central China, Pucheng Neifu Airport is not even remotely a military airport. There is no obvious link between it and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). It has the layout of a rural civilian airport found in any country, with a single runway, large tarmac, and control tower. An examination of satellite imagery indicates anywhere from seven to nine civilian planes are parked there at any one time.
It has none of the characteristics of a military airbase such as other (real) military aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, surface to air missile and gun emplacements, or munitions bunkers. Here’s an example of a typical PLAAF base just outside Weifang for comparison. Read the rest of this entry »
In this instructable, I will teach you how to fold the plain awesome origami F-16! This model is not nearly as hard to fold as it looks, so don’t be deterred by its complex appearance.
Despite the sad fact that this particular plane doesn’t fly too well, it never fails to impress. If you want to see my youtube video on how to make this same model, just click How To Fold an Origami F-16 to see a tutorial that is slightly easier to follow. So lets get started!
My printer paper is standard 8.5×11 inch. Fold it in half lengthwise, or hotdog style as some people call it, then unfold….(more)
70 years after the atomic bombings, time stands still on the island of Tinian
Mark Schreiber writes:Imagine disembarking on the shore of a remote tropical island. Walking cautiously past swaying palm trees into the heavy undergrowth, you soon encounter what appears to be the fossilized bones of an enormous prehistoric creature. The thick parallel lines might have been ribs, and the long straight stretches its spine or appendages. Naturally you’re moved to wonder how it appeared when alive, how it moved about and what it ate.
For dyed-in-the-wool history buffs or those merely looking for an exotic place off the beaten track to relax, Tinian beckons. It’s an easy trip from Japan. If you take a Delta Airlines flight to Saipan during daylight hours, be sure to request a window seat on the right side of the aircraft. On the plane’s approach to neighboring Saipan, you’ll get a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the “ribs” of that prehistoric creature — the four runways of North Field — which in the waning months of World War II was the largest operational U.S. air base in the world.
Home to barely 3,000 people, the 101-sq.-km island of Tinian is one of three inhabited islands of 14 that make up the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Over a period of half a century — between 1899 and 1944 — Tinian went from being controlled by Spain to Germany, Japan and finally the U.S., which in July 1944 captured the island in an eight-day campaign that was largely overshadowed by the bigger and bloodier battle on Saipan, located just 9 km to the north.
From the late 1930s, Japan had begun to augment its military presence in the Nampo Shoto (groups of islands south of the main archipelago), sending 1,280 convicts from Yokohama Prison to Tinian to expand Hagoi Field, located at the north end of the island, with a 1,450-meter-long runway.
Once in American hands, teams of U.S. Navy construction battalions (known as “CBs” or “Seabees”) swarmed over the island, eventually moving an estimated 11 million tons of coral to build runways, taxiways, buildings and some 145 km of roads. The former Japanese airstrip was extended for use by the U.S. Air Force’s new long-range B-29 bombers, adding three more 2,440-meter runways.
It was from North Field’s runway, “Able,” that a specially modified B-29 christened Enola Gay, took off in the early hours of Aug. 6, 1945, to drop the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima.
I’d visited Tinian once before in 2007, but left to my own devices failed to find several of the places I’d wanted to see. This time I had much better luck, thanks to an introduction to the island’s resident historian, Don Farrell.
Farrell, who’s married to a native of Tinian, has taken up the story of his new home with gusto. In addition to publishing an illustrated guidebook for visitors in 2012 titled “Tinian: A Brief History,” he’s currently nearing completion of his magnum opus, a detailed history of the atomic bomb project that promises to shed new light on Tinian’s role in the war.
Arriving at the lobby of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino clad in sandals, Bermuda shorts, aloha shirt and a baseball cap, Farrell appears like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe — if Crusoe had driven a Mazda pickup truck.
“What would you like to see?” he asks me while delivering a firm handshake.
“What do you say we retrace the actual route the bomb parts took from their arrival on the island?” I suggest.
After stopping for bottled water and gasoline, we head north. Our first destination is Tinian’s small port, where the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, on a top-secret mission, delivered the housing and key components of the uranium bomb on July 26, 1945. (Four days later a Japanese submarine would sink the ship east of the Philippines, with great loss of life.)
No ships, or people, are in port and there’s little left to see. We turn around and head northward on a bumpy, but still negotiable, road marked “8th Avenue.” (The roads in Tinian, named after streets in Manhattan, also include Broadway, Columbus Avenue and Riverside Drive.)
On our way north, we deviate up an overgrown hillside leading to the ruins of the Rasso Jinja, a Shinto shrine at the top of Mount Lasso, which at 171 meters marks the highest point on Tinian. Little remains of the shrine or the B-29 homing tower that stood close by. What can be seen is the concrete foundation of the old U.S. Army hospital. Read the rest of this entry »
Pilot at ‘distinct energy disadvantage’
“The technique required a commitment to lose energy and was a temporary opportunity prior to needing to regain energy… and ultimately end up defensive again.”
A five-page report obtained by Medium’s War is Boring columnist said a test pilot was at a “distinct energy disadvantage” during the training, The Diplomat reported Wednesday. The author of the piece said the only feasible way to engage the F-16 was to pull off a specific maneuver that usually only works once.
“The technique required a commitment to lose energy and was a temporary opportunity prior to needing to regain energy… and ultimately end up defensive again,” the author wrote, War is Boring reported.
The F-35 pilot also complained that it was difficult to engage the F-16 with 25mm cannon and that his helmet was too cumbersome for a dogfight, The Diplomat reported. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING — Joe Zieja reports: In the wake of the massive data breach that led to millions of security clearance applications to be transmitted to China, Beijing has announced that they are holding open applications for U.S. intelligence personnel.
“The application process will be easy,” Zhang San Li Si, the Chinese architect of the project, said during a press conference that was forcibly broadcast via classified US intelligence computer systems. “We already have your SF-86s and we also have the Office of Personnel Management’s evaluation of them. All you really need to do is download this PDF to your desktop and click ‘open.’ Don’t forget to email it to all of your friends!”
The call for applications has resulted in a scramble throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community as IT and HR departments work together to try and simultaneously stem the tide of malware and stop the hemorrhaging of qualified intelligence personnel.
“We need to emphasize that there are actual, no-kidding laws that prohibit anyone from working for a foreign intelligence agency,” Katherine Archuleta, director of OPM said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
Boeing and Lockheed aren’t the enemy, but accelerating a competitive launch business is worth some risks
“Should Congress, however bad the precedent, climb down from sanctions enacted last December curtailing the Pentagon’s reliance on a Russian-made engine to put U.S. military satellites in orbit?”
Witness how frequently the words “to compete with SpaceX” appear in industry statements and press coverage. To compete with SpaceX, say multiple reports, the United Launch Alliance, the Pentagon’s traditional supplier, is developing a new Vulcan rocket powered by a reusable engine designed by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.
Because of SpaceX, says Aviation Week magazine, Japan’s government has instructed Mitsubishi to cut in half the cost of the Japanese workhorse rocket, and China is planning a new family of kerosene-fueled Long March rockets. “Stimulated by SpaceX’s work on reusable rockets,” reports SpaceNews.com, Airbus is developing a reusable first stage for Europe’s venerable Ariane rocket.
“Yes, say the Pentagon, the national intelligence leadership and the White House, because avoiding disruption to crucial military launches is more important than any symbolic weakening of sanctions against Russia.”
All this comes amid one of those Washington battles ferocious in inverse relation to the certainties involved. Should Congress, however bad the precedent, climb down from sanctions enacted last December curtailing the Pentagon’s reliance on a Russian-made engine to put U.S. military satellites in orbit?
Yes, say the Pentagon, the national intelligence leadership and the White House, because avoiding disruption to crucial military launches is more important than any symbolic weakening of sanctions against Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
An American Atlas V rocket in the 501 configuration has successfully lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral carrying the US Air Force‘s X-37B spaceplane, a smaller version of the Space Shuttle. This will be the fourth mission of the X-37B which conducts top secret missions in orbit via payloads in it’s payload bay. Liftoff occurred at 11:05 Local time, 15:05 UTC time on May 20th 2015.
Grand Jury Indicts Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh: Air Force Vet Charged in Plot to Aid Islamic State GroupPosted: March 17, 2015
He will appear Wednesday in federal court in New York City and is now in custody….(read more)
For NBC News, Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin report: A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.
The indictment said that Pugh was fired from a job in Kuwait as an airplane mechanic in December 2014. It said that he flew from Egypt to Turkey on January 10, in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS and wage violent jihad.
Turkish authorities denied him entry into the country, however, and sent him on a return flight to Egypt. He was deported from Egypt to the U.S. in January 15, after he was found carrying suspicious items, including a photograph of a machine gun.
Pugh was arrested Jan. 16, but the case has been sealed since that date.
Searches of his laptop revealed online queries about borders and crossing points controlled by the Islamic State, and videos showing ISIS executions. Posting on social media show Pugh repeatedly professed a desire never to return to the U.S., even though he has family — including children — in the country….(read more)
This is a breaking news story. Please refresh for updates.
— Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin
China’s mysterious “Dark Sword” combat drone could become the world’s first supersonic unmanned aviation vehicle, reports the website of the country’s national broadcaster CCTV.
The Dark Sword — known in Chinese as “Anjian” — made quite a stir in 2006 when a conceptual model of the unusually shaped triangular aircraft made its debut at the Zhuhai Airshow in southern China’s Guangdong province.
The model was subsequently exhibited at the Paris Air Show but has disappeared from future airshows, with no official word on the development of the UAV. Some claim the project has already been scrapped due to insufficient funding or other reasons, while others believe the development of the drone is now being kept secret as it is undergoing further research and testing.
Chinese aviation expert Fu Qianshao told CCTV that while he does not know the status of the Dark Sword project, the drone could become the world’s first supersonic UAV if it proves a success. He said he would not be surprised if the project is still ongoing in secret as a lack of transparency is nothing new for the aviation industry and is an approach commonly taken by the Americans.
Fu believes even conceptual models of aircraft can reveal something about a country’s technology and the quality of its research and development, adding that analyzing models at Zhuhai can allow experts to gauge the pulse of China’s aviation industry and pick up data that may be more valuable than what the developers are leaking out to the public. Read the rest of this entry »
Defense contractors are now bidding on the right to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. This is what you need to know about the Air Force’s next big machine of death.
For Popular Mechanics, Joe Pappalardo writes: The U.S. Air Force this week made it official: They are officially in the market for a new bomber. In wonk speak, the service sent a formal Request for Proposals to defense contractors who will vie for the (at least) $55 billion program.
“Will the LRS-B be designed to deliver nukes? The Air Force has indicated that the priority for America’s new bomber is not an ability to drop nuclear bombs but to deliver other weapons”
Like any massive, classified national security effort, few things about the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) are exactly what they appear to be. So here’s a cheat sheet.
1. Our Bomber Fleet is Old—Very Old
The average B-52 Stratofortress is 50 years old, and the B-1 Lancer fleet has a mean age of 28. Now, there are plenty of things you can do with a B-52; you can fly over undefended terrain and drop bombs, or launch missiles from longer, safer ranges. But you can’t fly a B-52 anywhere that is guarded by the kind of top-notch, integrated air defense radar and anti-aircraft missiles that Russia sells and that China, Iran, Syria, and others use. Only the B-2 stealth bomber can breach those defenses. Read the rest of this entry »
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – The U.S. Air Force has deployed two of its most advanced long-distance surveillance drones to a base in northern Japan over the past week, enhancing its ability to monitor nuclear activities in North Korea and Chinese naval operations.
The deployment of the two unarmed Global Hawk drones to Japan, a key U.S. ally, is intended to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to security in Asia as part of its rebalancing of forces to the Pacific. But it will likely rankle with China and North Korea, which have been working to improve their own unmanned aircraft fleets.
“The aircraft has proven itself to be one of the most reliable in the Air Force.”
— Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella
Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said Friday the drones will remain here until October, when the typhoon season on the drones’ home base on the Pacific island of Guam is over. Similar rotations from Guam to Misawa are expected in the future, though Angelella said no firm plans have been made. He refused to comment on the specific missions the drones will carry out but noted that the Global Hawk’s “capabilities are well known.” Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Gertz reports: An experimental scramjet-powered, ultrahigh speed strike vehicle is emerging as the Pentagon’s main choice for a new long-range, rapid attack weapon, a seniorPentagon official says.
Alan R. Shaffer, principal deputy assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, told a defense industry conference that prototypes and recent tests proved concepts for hypersonic arms, and several systems are part of a high-priority effort by Pentagon weapons developers, despite the era of sharply-diminished defense spending.
The comments come 2 1/2 months after China’s surprise Jan. 9 test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed the Wu-14. That ultrahigh speed maneuvering vehicle test represents a major challenge for current U.S. missile defenses, which are designed to counter non-maneuvering ballistic missile threats. Read the rest of this entry »
What’s her full-time gig? First lieutenant in the US Air Force.
Rookie “Sea Gal” Alicia Quaco, 25, works long days as a contract manager for the Air Force before rushing to evening cheerleading practice… taking on the demanding double life, she first had to convince her military higher-ups in a formal presentation to let her moonlight as a Sea Gal after trying out for the squad last year, she said.
‘You really ought to go home’
In what only can be described as a scene out of Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun,” Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, describes how F-22 stealth jets scared off Iranian jets from a U.S. drone flying in international airspace.
Zach Rosenberg writes: The drone that spied on bin Laden and on Iran’s nukes was just the start. Meet its bigger, higher-flying, stealthier cousin, the Northrop Grumman RQ-180. It’s probably been flying for a few years now, but you weren’t supposed to know that; the existence of this secret project, based out of Area 51, was revealed Friday by Aviation Week.
The existence of the RQ-180 has been long rumored. Cryptic public statements by U.S. Air Force officials indicated a secret high-altitude reconnaissance drone, and Northrop officials frequently reference the broad strokes of the program. For that matter, it is likely not the only classified unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. Other companies, including Lockheed and Boeing, also have a stable of smaller secretaircraft.
The RQ-180 is likely flying from the secret Air Force test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, widely known as Area 51. Its exact specifications, including such crucial details as the number of engines, is unknown, but Aviation Week suggests a wingspan of over 130 feet, based on hangar construction at Northrop’s Palmdale, California facility. The number of aircraft built is also unknown; however, a flight test program, relatively quick entry into service and open budget documents suggest a small fleet are flying routinely. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Air Force has released a new request for a high-powered laser weapon that could be mounted on a next-generation air dominance fighter in the post-2030 era.
“The emphasis of this effort is to identify potential laser systems that could be integrated into a platform that will provide air dominance in the 2030+ highly contested Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments,” the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) said in a Request for Information document posted on FEDBIZOPPS last week.
The AFRL is particularly interested in lasers that would be at technology readiness level four (TRL4) by October 2014. That means the basic components are already integrated enough to work together in a lab. But the USAF wants the laser to be at TRL5 or better by 2022, which means the system’s components could be integrated with “reasonably realistic supporting elements” to be tested in a simulated environment.
“Laser and beam control systems are being investigated independent of platform in the flight regime from altitudes Sea Level to [65,000ft] and speeds from Mach 0.6 to 2.5,” the AFRL posting states.
Among professional aviators, there’s a well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. But I don’t recall too many periods of boredom during my 30-year career with Lockheed, most of which was spent as a test pilot. By far, the most memorable flight occurred on Jan. 25, 1966.
Jim Zwayer, a Lockheed flight-test specialist, and I were evaluating systems on an SR-71 Blackbird test from Edwards. We also were investigating procedures designed to reduce trim drag and improve high-Mach cruise performance. The latter involved flying with the center-of-gravity (CG) located further aft than normal, reducing the Blackbird’s longitudinal stability.
We took off from Edwards at 11:20 a.m. and completed the mission’s first leg without incident. After refueling from a KC-135 tanker, we turned eastbound, accelerated to a Mach 3.2-cruise speed and climbed to 78,000 ft., our initial cruise-climb altitude. Several minutes into cruise, the right engine inlet’s automatic control system malfunctioned, requiring a switch to manual control. The SR-71’s inlet configuration was automatically adjusted during supersonic flight to decelerate airflow in the duct, slowing it to subsonic speed before reaching the engine’s face. This was accomplished by the inlet’s center-body spike translating aft, and by modulating the inlet’s forward bypass doors. Read the rest of this entry »
He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human
From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives. Read the rest of this entry »
Jason Paur reports: Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works has finally unveiled the long-awaited successor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Aviation Week and Space Technology’s Guy Norris pulled the covers off the project that Lockheed Martin is simply calling the SR-72. The new airplane will be roughly the same size as the record-setting Blackbird, but will be able to fly twice as fast as the jet that still holds the speed records.
The new spy plane will be capable of Mach 6 cruise speeds, making it the first hypersonic aircraft to enter service should it be produced. Only the rocket-powered North American X-15 was able to regularly fly those speeds, and the three examples built were used for research. The SR-71 Blackbird is legendary in aviation circles for its Mach 3 capabilities, and different iterations served as a spy plane for 35 years until its retirement in 1998. It still holds several records, including a flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes, 20 seconds.
The new SR-72 has long been rumored and debated, and is part of the U.S. Air Force’s plan for hypersonic capabilities that will allow fast reaction for gathering intelligence around the world. A Mach 6 airplane fills the gap between current surveillance aircraft that can loiter for long periods of time, but don’t have the ability to transit to a new area quickly. The SR-72 is also expected to have optional strike capabilities, according to Aviation Week. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Air Force has spent years developing so-called “Agent Defeat Weapons” designed to target and destroy stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons without dispersing or releasing them to surrounding areas, service officials said.