Monday, September 14, 2009

Universal Soldier

Universal Soldier: "

Contributor Kimberley Johnson has a story in next months DTI about operational experience with current Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in Afghanistan. Without revealing too much, lets say that the commercial-chassis vehicles ponderous size is not working out as it did in Iraq. 

blog post photo

That makes BAE Systems RG-35 family, unveiled today at the DSEi show, even more interesting. Evolved from a long line of vehicles designed and built in South Africa, the RG-35 is largely new, and is intended to provide the protection of an MRAP with the mobility of a traditional combat vehicle. 

A key feature is that the engine has been moved. Older BAE vehicles had the engine in front, under a long and lightly protected hood. On the RG-35, the powerpack is installed behind the driver, offset to the left, with space for a gun turret and operator on the right. The result is a compact vehicle with space for the driver plus 15 crew, only 2.5 meters wide and with a 15 m turning circle, with all critical systems under armor. 

The basic vehicle weighs 18.1 metric tons and is designed to operate at 26 tons for high-mobility operations and 33 tons when kitted with extra armor for urban combat - the design provides for 50 mm of added side armor and 120 mm extra protection on the V-shaped lower hull. The prototype is a 6 x 6, but a 4 x 4 version should be running within a year.


(Via Ares.)

Don't fear the Reaper - just shoot it down?

USAF Splashes One Reaper: "

Is it a blue-on-blue incident if it is deliberate?

Regardless, a U.S. Air Force fighter downed a MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft over Afghanistan on Sunday.

Operators lost control over the unmanned aircraft during its operation. With the UAV headed in a direction where it was about to depart Afghanistan's air space, a U.S. Air Force aircraft brought down the Reaper in what the Air Force says was a remote part of Afghanistan. The type of aircraft or method used to take out the Reaper was not specified.

The Air Force says merely that ‘the Reaper impacted the side of a mountain and there were no reports of civilian injuries or damage to civilian property at the site.’

The incident is now under investigation. Investigators also will be busy looking into the crash of an MQ-1 Predator at Creech AFB, Nev. That took place on Sept. 11. That General Atomics UAV was being used in a training mission.


(Via Ares.)

VIDEO: ABL Targets Missile With Surrogate Laser

VIDEO: ABL Targets Missile With Surrogate Laser: "This video from Boeing takes a little bit of interpretation, so I suggest you watch it, read the description below, then watch it again (once or twice). The surrogate high-energy laser referred to is a low-power laser that is fired through the ABL's beam-control optics to simulate the aircraft's actual megawatt-class high-energy laser.

Video: Boeing

Here's Boeing's description:

'On August 10, 2009, the Airborne Laser engaged an instrumented target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, located in the Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range, off the central California coast. This was a test of the tracking laser, atmospheric compensation laser, and surrogate high-energy laser (SHEL) for scoring purposes in preparation for a high-energy laser shootdown later this year.

A camera sensitive to infrared wavelengths was positioned on the Boeing 747 cockpit glare shield by the pilot. In the video, you see the bright missile plume moving left to right across the windshield. Note several small windshield reflections as the missile travels across the screen. The first laser beam that comes on is the tracking laser, followed by the atmospheric compensation laser, and finally the SHEL.

The 36-foot-long Terrier Lynx/Black Brandt missile moves rapidly across the sky, showing the rapid timelines and clear advantage that speed-of-light, directed energy weapons deliver.'

Eight days after this test, on Aug. 18, the ABL fired its high-energy laser in the air for the first time, but into an onboard calorimeter to capture and measure its power. Actual shots against target missiles are the next step on the road towards the much-anticipated lethal shoot-down test against a ballistic missile.

(Via Ares.)

The only good terrorist ... a dead terrorist.

ABC NEWS: A U.S. commando attack in Somalia has killed an al Qaeda operative who is on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists, sources tell ABC News.

Somali residents said a helicopter raid on Monday by suspected foreign commandos looked to have killed one of the region's most wanted militants.

The dead terrorist, Saleh Ali Nabhan, is believed to have taken part in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is also believed to have orchestrated the 2002 bombing of a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and a failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa airport.

Several sources tell ABC News at least one U.S. helicopter fired on a convoy carrying suspected al Qaeda targets in southern Somalia. An American official says a U.S. Navy ship was also nearby to monitor the situation and provide assistance if needed.

Ali Nabhan's death has not yet been officially confirmed, but sources tell ABC News that his body is now in U.S. custody.

Ali Nabhan, a 28-year-old Kenyan, is on the FBI's most wanted list for terrorist activities such as the resort and missile attacks as well as participation in the 1998 attack on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

New York terrorism raid


Authorities raided properties in New York City today in an effort that was intended to disrupt the plans of a terror suspect whose travels had been tracked by the FBI, according to an official briefed on the raids.

"He was being watched and concern grew as he met with a group of individuals in Queens over the weekend," said Congressman Pete King (R-NY). "The FBI went to court late last night for an emergency warrant to conduct the raids this morning." A resident in the neighborhood said there was police activity around 2 a.m. Monday.

New York City police and the FBI searched a home in the borough of Queens early as part of an investigation into suspected terrorism, focusing on one man who has been under surveillance, officials said.

Members of US Congress briefed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was no imminent danger.

"There was nothing imminent, and they are very good now at tracking potentially dangerous actions and this was preventive," said Charles Schumer, a US Senator from New York who was among those briefed by FBI officials.

"He was being watched and concern grew as he met a group of individuals in Queens over the weekend," said Peter King, a Republican congressman from New York who was also briefed on the case, according to ABC News.

"The FBI went to court late last night for an emergency warrant to conduct the raids this morning," ABC quoted King as saying.

NYPD and FBI officials provided few details, calling it part of an ongoing investigation.

"There was activity in Queens last night by the NYPD and the FBI that was part of an ongoing joint terrorism taskforce investigation," New York Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly declined to say more, telling reporters only that it was part of an ongoing investigation and "normal procedure."

A congressional aide said members of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee were given a classified briefing on the raid.

New York City has been on high alert since the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and the recent anniversary has reminded many that the city was targeted in the suicide hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Centre eight years ago.

The Twin Towers were also hit by a truck bomb attack in 1993 that killed six people and wounded more than 1000.


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Federal agents raided residences in New York City early Monday as part of a terrorism investigation, law enforcement sources said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, confirmed the raids in an interview with CNN affiliate WABC.

"There was nothing imminent, and our law enforcement officials are very good now at tracking potentially dangerous actions," Schumer said, speaking from Washington. "This was preventive."

Schumer said the raids were unrelated to President Obama's visit to New York on Monday for a speech.

A source at the New York Police Department confirmed to CNN that the Joint Terrorism Task Force executed multiple search warrants early Monday at more than one building in Flushing, Queens, a borough of New York City. The source said the search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation, but provided no further information on the number executed.

A federal law enforcement source confirmed the Joint Terrorism Task Force's involvement in the raids, adding that agents were searching for a particular individual who wasn't at the raided buildings.

In Washington, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, was briefed Monday on the situation, a congressional source told CNN. A spokesman for Thompson declined to comment further, saying the briefing was classified.

Schumer told WABC he was unable to provide further information due to the classified nature of the case. He said the FBI and New York City Police Department told him they would provide further information when appropriate.

The raid happened in the early morning and involved dozens of agents, some wearing FBI jackets, some wearing suits, and many carrying weapons, according to an eyewitness who lives in one of the raided buildings.

The witness said agents emerged from one building carrying a black document box.

Shuttle ferry update

Processing Operations Under Way at Dryden
Mon, 14 Sep 2009 03:28:20 PM CDT

Technicians working at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California are moving carefully through a regimen to ready the shuttle for its cross-country ferry flight atop a modified 747 back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That trip could begin as soon as Friday morning, although weather and other technical issues could push that date back.

Among turnaround tasks already completed by Monday morning, United Space Alliance technicians finished shuttle main engine drying operations, offloaded cryogenics, removed the external tank separation camera and inerted the Power Reactant Storage and Distribution system battery tank. Purging of the Orbital Maneuvering System fluid lines and valves and other tasks requiring access to the aft end of the shuttle are in process Monday.

Processing managers hope to begin the all-day process of purging and offloading of residual fuels and oxidizers and other hazardous chemicals early Tuesday morning.

I got buzzed - again.

Does my apartment just happen to lie under a new (unmarked) test flight operations area or (and i can't help but wonder) do they know an aviation photographer lives at my GPS coordinates and is always ready to take a portrait of these amazing aircraft/hybrid helicopters?

This afternoon about 2:PM I heard the familiar sound of an V-22 Osprey.

I see them in the pattern a lot since they are built out at the Bell/Textron plant on the east side of Amarillo.

Thing is, I live 12 miles from the plant and no where near their usual flight test areas, but lately they have been flying very low (and in tight circles) right over my abode in SW Amarillo.

When they do their circles, it seems my place is located right in the very center of things.

Today they came over very low (below a thousand feet) and did three circles allowing me enough time to grabb my camera and make a few shots.

When an Osprey is circling over one's apartment, you jolly-well know it because the whole place vibrates. I noticed other inhabitants sticking their heads out to see what was causing all the clamor.

Some seemed to be peeved, but some thought it was cool. I lean heavily toward the cool side.

Keep it up guys!

-Steve Douglass

CNN: Bin Laden's Failure/Calls 9-11 "disagreement"

CNN) -- An audio message purportedly from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has accused President Barack Obama of being unable to fulfil his election pledge to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

The tape emerged on radical Islamist Web sites, just two days after the United States marked the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"To the American people, this is my message to you: a reminder of the reasons behind 9/11 and the wars and the repercussions that followed and the way to resolve it," the message said.

"From the beginning, we have stated many times ... that the cause of our disagreement with you is your support of your allies, the Israelis, who are occupying our land in Palestine. Your stance along with some other grievances are what led us to carry out the events of 9/11."

The video plays the audio over a undated photograph of bin Laden. The video also shows a banner with the American flag as the backdrop and an image of the New York City skyline with the twin towers of the World Trade Center -- destroyed in the 9/11 attack -- still standing, said terrorism analyst Laura Mansfield.

CNN could not independently authenticate bin Laden as the speaker in the 11-minute video posted on Sunday by As-Sahab Media -- al Qaeda's production company.

Obama was "a vulnerable man who will not be able to stop the war, as he promised, but instead he will drag it to the maximum possible extent," the message said.

Though U.S. troops no longer patrol Iraq's major cities and a large number have left, tens of thousands remain in the country and are expected to stay for years to come.

The message claims that the Obama administration is under the influence of the Republican White House it replaced, pointing out that the president kept Robert Gates as defense secretary -- a holdover from the Bush administration.

"Prolong the wars as much as you like. By God, we will never compromise on it (Palestine), ever," the message continued.

Mansfield noted that the video brings no new images of the elusive bin Laden, who was last seen in footage two years ago on the sixth anniversary of the terror attacks.

Bin Laden has released audio messages since then, most recently on June 9

Drone attack kills 4 militants in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- An apparent drone attack on Monday killed four suspected militants in northern Pakistan, an intelligence source said.

An unspecified number of others were injured in the attack in the Khushhalee Turi Khel area of north Waziristan, according to the Pakistani source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The remains were not in identifiable condition, area residents said.

The United States is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely. The U.S. normally does not comment on suspected drone strikes, which have caused tension between Pakistan and the United States in the past.

Pakistani and U.S. officials think a drone attack killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, last month in Waziristan. A new leader was named afterward.


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