Monday, June 29, 2015

Indian Army Starts 40+ ton Future Ready Combat Vehicle (tank), Arjun MBT may be in Trouble

The Indian Army's plan to develop and build a medium-weight main battle tank to replace more than 2,500 Russian T-72s has raised questions about the future of the homemade Arjun tank and likely would kill a decade-old proposal by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to build a tank, according to analysts and officials.

The Indian Army this month floated a global request for information to seek partners to design the new tank under a program called Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). As a medium-weight platform it would weigh 40-plus tons, compared with the Arjun, which weighs 60 tons.

"The proposed FRCV is in the medium category and is more likely to be around the T-90 platform than the Arjun Mark-II platform, which is getting close to the medium-heavy/heavy category," said Anil Chait, retired Indian Army lieutenant general. "Designing and developing the product around proposed qualitative requirements afresh would suggest that we may be looking toward the end of the Arjun saga," he said.

However, Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army brigadier general and defense analyst, said the Arjun will progress from the current Mark-1 level to Mark-3.

"The lead time for the FRCV to be manufactured, if all goes well, is likely to be approximately 15 years or so. This provides adequate scope for the Arjun series to be progressed to at least Mark-3. Moreover, there is a need in the Indian Army for an Arjun class of tank."

While no Ministry of Defence official would comment on the fate of the decade-old Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) project to be developed by DRDO, an Army official said FRCV has "surely killed" the FMBT.

The FMBT, intended to be in the 50-plus ton category, was also meant to replace the T-72s.

"The FRCV seems to be a completely new project which possibly junks the FMBT, which was being worked upon by the DRDO or may be a lead to the developing agency to add on to the existing work that has already been done on the same," Bhonsle said.

"I surely see Americans, Russians, French, Germans, Koreans and British participating along with Indian companies in stand-alone or joint venture mode. We could see leading companies from there which are involved with tank design, participating in it," Chait said.

If I were a gambling man - heh - I'd say this would be an natural match for the Russian T-14 tank.  It is lighter than the 60+ ton Arjun (I've seen both 48 tons and 57 tons thrown around, something definitive would be nice!) and the Russians have a historical relationship with the Indians in the defense sector.  There has been a lot more strained relationships as of late with the Russians (re: the problems with the carrier India bought and very dramatically recently the FGPA/PAK-FA problems).  

OTOH, the Russians will almost assuredly be willing to let the Indians manufacture the tank locally: this is a huge plus for the Indians.

OTGH, the Americans and Europeans have not been manufacturing 'medium tanks' for some time.  They either go light (M-8 Buford, the MGS Stryker, etc) or very heavy (Abrams, Leopard, LeClerc).  The Japanese with their Type 90 and the South Koreans with their K2 tank would possibly work.  The Koreans have successfully worked with the Turks on their Altay tank, though the Altay ended up heavier than what the Indians want.

It comes down to what the Indians really want.  If they want to diversify their defense industrial input, they'll go with the Japanese or Koreans.  If they want to get a crack at the new Russian tank, they'll...well, duh.  However, there is a slim chance they will want to collaborate with the Americans to bring the two defense industries closer.  They are already going to do so for naval armaments, especially aircraft carriers.  This would be purely a political decision though.

NeoTethys Seawater was Oxygenated, but had Increasingly and Rapidly Warming Temperatures Just Before the Permian Extinction

Neotethys seawater chemistry and temperature at the dawn of the end Permian mass extinction


Garbelli et al


The end of the Permian was a time of great death and massive upheaval in the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. Over the last decades, many causes have been suggested to be responsible for that catastrophe such as global warming, anoxia and acidification. The Gyanyima limestone block was an open ocean seamount in the southern Neotethys at subtropical latitude, and it affords us insight into open-ocean oceanographic changes during the end of the Permian After careful screening using multiple tests, we reconstructed carbonate/seawater curves from the geochemical data stored in pristine brachiopod shell archives from the shallow water limestone of the Changhsingian Gyanyima Formation of Tibet. The reconstructed strontium isotope curve and data for the late Changhsingian is relatively invariant about 0.707013, but in the upper part of the succession the values become more radiogenic climaxing at about 0.707244. The 87Sr/86Sr curve and trend is similar to that observed for the Upper Permian succession in northern Italy, but dissimilar (less radiogenic) to whole rock results from Austria, Iran, China and Spitsbergen. The Ce/Ce* anomaly results. ranging from 0.310 to 0.577 for the brachiopods and from 0.237 to 0.655 for the coeval whole rock before the event, and of 0.276 for whole rock during the extinction event, suggest normal redox conditions. These Ce* values are typical of normal open-ocean oxic water quality conditions observed in modern and other ancient counterparts. The biota and Ce* information clearly discounts global anoxia as a primary cause for the end-Permian biotic crisis. Carbon isotopes from brachiopod shells and whole rock are relatively invariant for most of the latest Permian interval, which is in stark contrast to the distinct negative carbon isotope excursion observed near and about the event. Estimates of seawater temperature at shallow depth fluctuated from 22.2 to 29.0 °C up to unit 8-2, and then gradually rise from 29.7 °C in unit 8-13 to values exceeding 35 °C at a stratigraphic level about 120 ky before the Permian-Triassic boundary, and just before the onset of the extinction interval. This dramatic increase in seawater temperature has been observed in global successions from tropical to mid latitude and from restricted to open ocean localities (e.g., northern Italy, Iran). The brachiopod archive and its geochemical proxies from Tibet support the paradigm that global warming must have been an important factor of the biotic crisis for the terrestrial and marine faunas and floras of the late Paleozoic world.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ukraine War Update: здесь, лягушачий! лягушачий!

This is probably Komsomolske's quarry.

There are now too many sites like this to count.  Donnie Reb could leave all the artillery he has which the OSCE has taken into account at the storage sites and still have enough to quickly launch an offensive.  The Russians have poured in enough troops now so an attack is entirely doable.  tanks have been cruising Donetsk. 

Reports are that there is a very, very large massing of armored fighting vehicles (tanks, APCs and IFVs) in Gorlovka.  These are being interspersed with the remaining residential buildings.  That leads to this.  There's a reason the locals in Donetsk held their rally against the DNR.

The artillery barrages take place all along the contact line.  North to south.  There's far too few places having peace.  At least if you are a significant population center.   The strangest bombardment was in Peski.  Ukrainian sources are claiming it was (a) white phosphorus shell(s).  Here's another video with another shot n a guy's phone and some of the results of the bombardment.  It looks like it, but the Russian side has been claiming the Ukrainians have been using the stuff for some time. 

There have been some claimed ground combat in various places rather than just the artillery.  However, I have not been able to find a video in support.  It seems to happen at night save for Shirokyne.

It ought to be noted, a large number of videos which may contain Russian troops, which have been filmed since Vice News did their hunt down of the Russian soldier, are being released with the faces blurred and/or covered with balaclavas.  To me, that alone is an admission of guilt.  Never mind what Simon did.

Here's a translation of one of the videos of the protest against the DNR and you can contrast what the protestors were saying to what the Russian news broadcast near the end.  Love the claims of concentration camps in Kirovsk. 

(btw: going ad hominem is classic for a argument in Russian)

As another note, Ukrainians are watching 'Electric Yerevan' with extraordinary intensity.    I wonder why?  ;)

SETI Talks: Steps Exploring to the Stars (old school)

Brit Woman Goes Cyborg

A British woman has been fitted with what's billed as the "world’s most lifelike bionic hand". The bebionic small hand is the latest model in Steeper's bebionic line of prosthetic hands and is the first of the advanced myoelectric hands to be specially designed to fit women and teenagers as it senses the user's muscle movements and uses these to trigger individual motors in each finger.

Rocket Science is Hard: SpaceX Loses Falcon9 Rocket Carrying Space Station Resupply Dragon

Skip to the beginning of the launch proper here.

Polymerizing Life's Building Blocks on Europa and Other icy Moons

Polymerization of building blocks of life on Europa and other icy moons


Kimura et al


The outer solar system may provide a potential habitat for extraterrestrial life. Remote sensing data from the Galileo spacecraft suggest that the jovian icy moons, Europa, Ganymede, and possibly Callisto, may harbor liquid water oceans underneath their icy crusts. Although compositional information required for the discussion of habitability is limited because of significantly restricted observation data, organic molecules are ubiquitous in the universe. Recently, in-situ spacecraft measurements and experiments suggest that amino acids can be formed abiotically on interstellar ices and comets. These amino acids could be continuously delivered by meteorite or comet impacts to icy moons. Here, we show that polymerization of organic monomers, in particular amino acids and nucleotides, could proceed spontaneously in the cold environment of icy moons, in particular the Jovian icy moon Europa as a typical example, based on thermodynamic calculations, though kinetics of formation are not addressed. Observed surface temperature on Europa is 120 and 80 K in the equatorial region and polar region, respectively. At such low temperatures, Gibbs energies of polymerization become negative, and the estimated thermal structure of the icy crust should contain a shallow region (i.e., at a depth of only a few kilometers) favorable for polymerization. Investigation of the possibility of organic monomer polymerization on icy moons could provide good constraints on the origin and early evolution of extraterrestrial life.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Difference Between Self Driving Cars, Driver Assistance Systems and how Self Driving Cars see the Roads

Google Takes 3rd Gen Self Driving Car to Roads

In a post today on its Google+ page, the Google Self-Driving Car Project announced that its latest cars were being tested on public roads starting today. The odd-shaped little cars are the third generation of self-driving car technology that Google has been testing since 2012.

Drivers around Mountain View might see the little cars rolling around suburban streets and the Google campus, joining the existing fleet of modified Lexus RX450h and Toyota Prius models. Each car will have a "safety driver," although Google's ultimate vision is to do away with standard controls such as the steering wheel and accelerator.

The cars are part of an ongoing project to develop self-driving cars that could potentially be safer than human drivers. Automotive equipment supplier Delphi Labs, also in Mountain View, has been testing its own self-driving car technology on public roads, making the area a hotbed for this type of technology. Automakers, such as Nissan and Ford, have predicted that autonomous cars will become available to the public by 2020.

Google notes that its new self-driving cars, which use electric propulsion, have a top speed of 25 mph. The Google+ post asks "to hear what our neighbors think," seeming to elicit comment from drivers who encounter the cars.

What Caused Mars to Lose its Atmosphere?

Outgassing History and Escape of the Martian Atmosphere and Water Inventory


Lammer et al


The evolution and escape of the martian atmosphere and the planet's water inventory can be separated into an early and late evolutionary epoch. The first epoch started from the planet's origin and lasted ∼500 Myr. Because of the high EUV flux of the young Sun and Mars' low gravity it was accompanied by hydrodynamic blow-off of hydrogen and strong thermal escape rates of dragged heavier species such as O and C atoms. After the main part of the protoatmosphere was lost, impact-related volatiles and mantle outgassing may have resulted in accumulation of a secondary CO2 atmosphere of a few tens to a few hundred mbar around ∼4--4.3 Gyr ago. The evolution of the atmospheric surface pressure and water inventory of such a secondary atmosphere during the second epoch which lasted from the end of the Noachian until today was most likely determined by a complex interplay of various nonthermal atmospheric escape processes, impacts, carbonate precipitation, and serpentinization during the Hesperian and Amazonian epochs which led to the present day surface pressure.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flexible Robotic Manufacturing: Building a Birdhouse

Can the US Afford to Replace its Cold War Nuclear Arsenal?

The greatest threat to the US long-range strike bomber (LRS-B) programme could be a submarine, with new a report showing that modernization of the sea-based leg of America’s nuclear triad dwarfs planned spending on airborne assets.

At a congressional hearing June 25, the US deputy secretary of defense Robert Work said the Pentagon is going to need an average of $18 billion per year between 2021 and 2035 on top of what it already spends on the nuclear force just to afford its planned submarine, bomber, intercontinental ballistic missile and cruise missile replacement efforts.

Work says without more money for nuclear modernization, the DOD will be forced to make “very, very hard choices” that impact conventional weaponry.

“The choice right now is modernizing or loosing deterrent capability in the 2020s and 2030s. That’s the stark choice we’re faced with,” Work says, noting that the current nuclear force that has been in place since the Cold War is “ageing out”.

He agreed with a recent analysis published June 23 by the Center Force Strategic and Budgetary Assessment that shows a almost doubling of spending on the sea-based leg of the nuclear force in the mid-2020s, just as LRS-B production and spending peaks.

Highly Productive Polar Forests in Permian Antarctica Before Siberian Traps Eruptions

Highly Productive Polar Forests from the Permian of Antarctica


Miller et al


Two stratigraphically closely spaced bedding planes exposed at Lamping Peak in the Upper Buckley Formation, Beardmore Glacier area, Antarctica contain abundant in situ stumps (n=53, n=21) and other plant fossils that allow reconstruction of forest structure and biomass of Glossopteris forests that thrived at ~ 75o S paleolatitude in the Permian. Mean trunk diameter is 14 and 25 cm, corresponding to estimated mean maximum heights of 12 and 19 m. Basal areas are 65 and 80 m2ha- 1. The above ground biomass was calculated using allometric equations for Ginkgo biloba, yielding biomasses of 147 and 178 Mg ha- 1. Biomass estimates based on comparison with biomass of modern forests with equivalent basal areas are higher (225 – 400 Mg ha- 1). The amount of above ground biomass added each year (Annual Net Primary Productivity), based on biomass estimates and growth rings in silicified plant material from the Buckley Formation nearby, is poorly constrained, ranging from ~ 100 – 2000 g m- 2 yr- 1.

Compared to modern forests at all latitudes, the Permian forests have high basal areas and high biomass, exceeded in both only by forests of the U.S. Pacific northwest and Sequoia forests. The estimated range of productivity (ANPP) is within that of many very productive modern forests. The Lamping Peak forests’ basal areas and calculated biomass are also larger than younger high paleolatitude fossil forests except for Arctic Cenozoic forests.

Presence of these highly productive fossil forests at high paleolatitude is consistent with hothouse conditions during the Late Permian, prior to the eruption of the Siberian flood basalts.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Повторный запуск Огонь для Лягушка??

Yesterday, a Russian aid convoy arrived in the Donetsk region.  The aid convoy came in two groups.  The Russian border officials inspected the interiors of the trucks.  The Ukrainians only inspected the exterior of the trucks.  If the previous patterns hold, 48 to 72 hours from yesterday, Donnie Reb will go on the offensive.

This ties in nicely with the leader (Zakharchenko) of the DNR stating if Ukraine does not surrender the rest of the Donetsk Oblast, the DNR will attack to take it.

A Donetsk resident made an interesting video:

He notes the firing artillery or launch of rockets and when they impact.  Ukrainians are claiming this is evidence of what they have been saying all along: the DNR is shelling its own territory to make the residents think the Ukrainians are hitting them.  Its not clear this is happening.  The distances between the DNR and UAF forces is rather short and it could be they are impacting the UAF only.

For the moment, fighting actually died down.  Not as much as the OSCE sees, but it significantly less.  Two possible exceptions are Maryinka and Shirokyne. 

I missed putting this video up from the large assault on Maryinka:

Look at 00:54.  Peekaboo!  I see you!

May be of Historical Interest for Supercomputing Geeks & Groupies

This little pamphlet was given to me by a retiring coworker.

Iowa State Develops Micro Tentacle Manipulators

If you had to grasp a tiny delicate object such as a blood vessel, doing so with traditional tweezers would be a very painstaking process – just a little too much pressure, and the object could be crushed. Instead, scientists from Iowa State University have developed miniature coiling tentacles for doing the job. They're even capable of holding an ant without harming it.

The tentacles are actually microtubes measuring just 8 mm long by about a quarter of a millimeter across, that are composed of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer.

You know the Japanese anime crowd are going to love this tech.

Better Fossil Makes Cambrian Ecdysozoan Hallucigenia’s Head Seem Even More Alien

Hallucigenia’s head and the pharyngeal armature of early ecdysozoans


Smith et al


The molecularly defined clade Ecdysozoa comprises the panarthropods (Euarthropoda, Onychophora and Tardigrada) and the cycloneuralian worms (Nematoda, Nematomorpha, Priapulida, Loricifera and Kinorhyncha). These disparate phyla are united by their means of moulting, but otherwise share few morphological characters—none of which has a meaningful fossilization potential. As such, the early evolutionary history of the group as a whole is largely uncharted. Here we redescribe the 508-million-year-old stem-group onychophoran Hallucigenia sparsa from the mid-Cambrian Burgess Shale. We document an elongate head with a pair of simple eyes, a terminal buccal chamber containing a radial array of sclerotized elements, and a differentiated foregut that is lined with acicular teeth. The radial elements and pharyngeal teeth resemble the sclerotized circumoral elements and pharyngeal teeth expressed in tardigrades, stem-group euarthropods and cycloneuralian worms. Phylogenetic results indicate that equivalent structures characterized the ancestral panarthropod and, seemingly, the ancestral ecdysozoan, demonstrating the deep homology of panarthropod and cycloneuralian mouthparts, and providing an anatomical synapomorphy for the ecdysozoan supergroup.

If that doesn't look like an sfnal alien critter, IDK what would.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ukraine War Update: Steinmeier ist ein dummkopf bereit

Sorry if my German is a little rusty.  I get more practice these days with my Russian (which is still atrocious) than either my German or Spanish.  Normally, I open with a discussion of the battles going on in Ukraine.  While the large scale incursions, like at Maryinka, have died down again, well, except for Shirokyne, of course, the clashes are ongoing all along the contact line.  We seem to have returned to a sitzkrieg.

However, the big news of today is the idiocy of the German government.  Not only have they lost their minds over Greece, they keep demonstrating batshit nutsiness when it comes to Ukraine: ""The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine could become an example for other regions."  oy.  Just oy.  He said it in context of atempting to broker a ceasefire in Shirokyne.

Let me be blunt: Donnie Reb has no desire to make peace.  As soon as there is peace, the local populace will turn their attention on their 'leaders' and that will turn out badly.  The locals have already stated protesting the war and the conditions they are in.  Without having to duck and hide all the time...

Speaking of Shirokyne.  Vice News spent time with the fighters there and one of the soldiers they interviewed was killed during the visit:

Then there is a 'nice' walk through of the remains of Shirokyne by some Ukrainian allied Chechens:

 Further to the north, around Shirokyne, more villages are now being bombarded. These are ones you would hit if you were to bypass Shirokyne to head to Mariupol.

Finally, lest we forget Lugansk:


While the battle for the Donetsk Airport is remembered, it had a prequel in the battle for Lugansk's airport.  There are the photos of the Lugansk airport since the battle there ended. 

Robopocalypse Now: FAA to Allow First Drone Deliveries in USA on July 17th

Here in the United States, it seemed like legal red tape would stall the launch of delivery drones for years, but the wait is over sooner than expected.

On July 17, the Federal Aviation Administration will allow unmanned aircraft to deliver medical supplies to a free clinic during research flights in West Virginia. That occasion will be the first legal drone delivery on U.S. soil, and represent another big step forward for the U.S. drone industry.

Wait! WHAT?!?! DARPA Working on Genetically Engineering Mars Terraforming Organisms?!

It’s no secret that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing heavily in genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Whether that excites or terrifies you depends on how you feel about the military engineering totally new life forms. If you’re in the excitement camp, however, here’s a nugget for you: DARPA believes that it's on the way to creating organisms capable of terraforming Mars into a planet that looks more like Earth.

The goal of terraforming Mars would be to warm up and potentially thicken its atmosphere by growing green, photosynthesizing plants, bacteria, and algae on the barren Martian surface. It’s a goal that even perpetual techno-optimists like Elon Musk think isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but it’s a goal that DARPA apparently already has its eyes on.

“For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay,” Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s new Biological Technologies Office said Monday at a DARPA-hosted biotech conference. As she said this, Jackson was pointing at an artist's rendering of a terraformed Mars.

Knowing DARPA, I suspect they are going more for an Scalzi Future rather than terraform Mars.  Then again, maybe DARPA is prepping Mars as the American bolthole in case we lose in a fight with China.  ;)

DM Technologies Blade: how Much of This car was REALLY 3d Printered?


I can find a quick blurb on the car and the photo gallery, but nothing substantial. 

Parrots Push Chaco Canyon (Anasazi/Puebloan) Culture/MesoAmerican Trade Origin Between 800 to 900 AD

Somehow, colorful tropical scarlet macaws from tropical Mesoamerica -- the term anthropologists use to refer to Mexico and parts of northern Central America -- ended up hundreds of miles north in the desert ruins of an ancient civilization in what is now New Mexico.

Early scientists began excavating the large Pueblo settlements in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico and found the birds' remains in the late 1890s, but only recent radiocarbon dating of the physical evidence has pushed back the time period of sophisticated Pueblo culture by at least 150 years, according to a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Co-author and archaeologist Stephen Plog, the University of Virginia's David A. Harrison Professor of Anthropology, worked with Adam S. Watson of the American Museum of Natural History, Douglas J. Kennett of Pennsylvania State University and a team of researchers from the museum and other universities to have macaw bones dated and interpret the results.

Using accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon methods with high precision in dating, the researchers found the macaw skeletal remains were much older than previously thought -- from as early as the late A.D. 800s -- signaling what researchers theorize was a Pueblo culture established enough to form relationships with Mesoamerican cultures to the south. Plog said archaeologists had typically put the beginning of the apex of ancestral Pueblo civilization in Chaco at A.D. 1040, based on other means such as tree-ring dating that suggested a major architectural expansion began at that time.

Anthropologists had already determined that the ancient Pueblo developed a complex social and religious hierarchy in the canyon, reflected in their distinctive architecture. They have posited that Chaco's 'golden century' or the Chaco 'florescence' occurred from A.D. 1040 to 1110, coinciding with a major expansion of the 'great houses.' These great houses contained clustered complexes of rooms for large gatherings, lodgings, storage, burial and religious rituals. Pueblo Bonito, with about 650 rooms in the largest of the great houses of Chaco Canyon, is where most of the macaws were recovered.

'In general, most researchers have argued that emergence of hierarchy, and of extensive trade networks that extended into Mexico coincided with what we see as other aspects of the Chaco florescence: Roads being built outward from Chaco and the formation of what are called Chaco outliers that mimic the architecture seen in the cultural center,' Plog said.

The radiocarbon dating project, led by Plog, Watson, and Kennett, showed that the bird remains came from as early as the late A.D. 800s to mid 900s. The earlier dating suggests that the rise of Pueblo sociopolitical complexity developed earlier than previously thought.

Mesozoic Marine Revolution Started Very Quickly After Permian Triassic Extinction

Coprolites of marine vertebrate predators from the Lower Triassic of southern Poland


Brachaniec et al


Numerous coprolites are described for the first time herein from the Lower Triassic (Olenekian) shallow marine sedimentary rocks in southern Poland. X-ray Diffraction and geochemical analyses show that they are preserved as calcium phosphate with small admixtures of quartz and calcite. Additionally, SEM and thin section studies revealed that they contain highly fragmented faunal remains (crinoids, molluscs and vertebrates). The size, shape, geochemistry, biostratigraphic distribution and co-occurrence with vertebrate skeletal remains imply that the coprolites at hand were likely produced by nothosaurids, the durophagous sauropterygian reptiles and actinopterygian (ray-finned) fish. The large number of recorded coprolites implies that durophagous predation has been intense during the Early Triassic and suggests that the so-called Mesozoic Marine Revolution probably started soon after the end-Permian extinction. Furthermore, discovery of sinusoidal trails attributable to nematodes in some coprolites implies that the intestinal parasitic associations with these predators had already evolved by at least the Early Triassic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ukraine War Update: сумасшедшая Лягушка

F-35B Does First Ski Jump Lift off for Royal & Italian Navies

The F-35B jump-jet version of the Joint Strike Fighter has completed its first takeoff from a ski jump, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The stealthy fifth-generation fighter jet designed to fly like a plane and land like a helicopter accomplished the task Friday from a test-ramp at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, according to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program.

“This test is one of the milestones along the way for integrating the F-35B aboard UK and Italian aircraft carriers,” he said in an e-mail.

Both countries plan to deploy their short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) versions of the jet aboard carriers equipped with a ski jump, a feature that allows aircraft to carry more weight despite taking off from a short runway.


American Nuclear Weapons Update: Nukes for F-35C and Commonality Sought for US Navy SLBM and USAF ICBM Replacements

A US think tank has proposed installing nuclear weapons on the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter for deployment aboard aircraft carriers as a hedge against Russia and China.

Clark Murdock of the Center for Strategic and International Studies floated the idea of a return to carrier-based nuclear weapons in a new report published on 22 June.

The US government has committed to outfitting only the land-based F-35A with nuclear weapons as a “dual-capable aircraft,” namely the Boeing B61-12 thermonuclear guided bomb.

According to Murdock though, the F-35C should also receive nuclear weapons in the future as a “visible manifestation” of the United States’ commitment to protecting its allies.

As the Air Force train pulls out of the station, the Navy’s running alongside asking to be pulled aboard. Both services will need to replace aging nuclear missiles sometime ca. 2030. They could save money by coordinating their modernization programs — but the Air Force is on a tighter schedule and the window of opportunity is starting to close.

“Commonality [is] a topic that I’ve been pretty aggressively shopping around town to anyone who will listen to me,” said Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, the Navy’s director of Strategic Systems Programs. But while the Navy’s not officially launched an effort to replace its Trident submarined-launched ballistic missile, the Air Force’s Minuteman ICBM replacement, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, already issued a Request For Information back in January. “Because of the urgency of the GBSD effort,” Benedict said, “we need to begin this assessment now.”

“There’s absolute consensus at the leadership level to begin that work,” Benedict said at Peter Huessy breakfast hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute. “I think the direction to formally proceed on that work is imminent.”

In the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon’s top buyer, Undersecretary Frank Kendall himself, is conducting a Strategic Posture Review that addresses the commonality question. Benedict has also spoken to the Air Force’s top buyer, Assistant Sec. Bill LaPlante, and to the service’s program executive officer for weapons, Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson. Strategic Command chief Adm. Cecil Haney even got Benedict to address a meeting of “basically every flag officer in the United States Air Force associated with ICBMs.”

“It’s hard to argue with [commonality]: I mean, who doesn’t want to save money?” Benedict said. “But, rightfully, they have a requirement that they have to meet to replace the Minuteman III, and so there are concerns that this does not distract them or derail them from meeting that requirement, and I respect that.”

The Air Force and the Navy also need their missiles to do different things. At the most basic level, launching from a silo underground is very different from launching from a submarine underwater. A component that works for both may not be optimal for either.

Archosauriforms Radiated, Became Parasagittal During Late Permian

The Origin and Early Radiation of Archosauriforms: Integrating the Skeletal and Footprint Record


Bernardi et al


We present a holistic approach to the study of early archosauriform evolution by integrating body and track records. The ichnological record supports a Late Permian–Early Triassic radiation of archosauriforms not well documented by skeletal material, and new footprints from the Upper Permian of the southern Alps (Italy) provide evidence for a diversity not yet sampled by body fossils. The integrative study of body fossil and footprint data supports the hypothesis that archosauriforms had already undergone substantial taxonomic diversification by the Late Permian and that by the Early Triassic archosauromorphs attained a broad geographical distribution over most parts of Pangea. Analysis of body size, as deduced from track size, suggests that archosauriform average body size did not change significantly from the Late Permian to the Early Triassic. A survey of facies yielding both skeletal and track record indicate an ecological preference for inland fluvial (lacustrine) environments for early archosauromorphs. Finally, although more data is needed, Late Permian chirotheriid imprints suggest a shift from sprawling to erect posture in archosauriforms before the end-Permian mass extinction event. We highlight the importance of approaching palaeobiological questions by using all available sources of data, specifically through integrating the body and track fossil record.