Sunday, September 15, 2019

Russia Postpones its Superheavy Rocket...again

Russia’s Progress Rocket Space Centre plans to start preparations for manufacturing a super-heavy rocket no earlier than in 2020, a company spokesperson told TASS on Friday.

"Once the stage of detail design is over, the process of drafting work design documents and preparations for launch of production will follow. Preparations for production will begin no earlier than in 2020," the source said.

The project’s overall volume of financing will be known later, once other companies taking part in the project submit their technical and economic feasibility documents, he added.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Pondering the Precambrian #40



Palaeopascichnus jiumenensis can be used to determine the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary.

There's a new way to determine oxygen levels during paleo time periods.  It seems to check out in the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition based on comparison to other methods.

A bilateralan metazoan (animal) fossil and trackway was found in China dating from the Ediacaran.

The rise of siliceous sponges helped shift the Ediacaran ecosystems to the modern Cambrian. 

The differences between the Weng'an and Kuanchuanpu biotas is largely due to how they were preserved.

Acritarchs from the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation allow for biostratigraphic correlation with the Tanarium conoideum–Cavaspina basiconica Assemblage Zone.

There appears to have been long term denudation of the continents from the middle Ediarcaran based on Nd isotope traces in carbonates.

A new formation has been found dating from the Cryogenian with evidence of bacterial and algae life in South China.

How much hydrothermal activity was there during the Marinoan Glaciation (snowball earth episode) during the Cryogenian?

There is evidence of a large igneous province in the Tonian.


Horodyski moniliformis, regarded by some as a eukaryote fossil from the Calymmian, has been declared a pseudofossil.


Plate tectonics have evolved over the last 2.5 billion years.

Is there evidence for the oxygen overshoot hypothesis from the Orosirian?

There was a paleocontinent named 'Atlantica' proposed.  Recent research suggests it was configured rather differently than proposed.

Evidence has arisen supporting a snowball earth scenario during the Huronian glaciation.

An asteroid impact has been IDed from the Rhyacian in Australia.

Did the supercontinental cycle begin in the PaleoProterozoic?


There is evidence of a PaleoArchean continent.

Origin of Life:

Prebiotic amino acids can bind to lipid membranes and stabilize them.

When did eukaryotes originate?  Do we have a way to understand that?

Did the lack of nitrogenase limit early life?

Friday, September 13, 2019

SpaceX's Starhopper Flight

A prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation launch system performed a brief test flight Aug. 27, a key step in the system’s development.
The “Starhopper” vehicle lifted off from a pad at SpaceX’s test site near Brownsville, Texas, at 6:02 p.m. Eastern. The vehicle took off vertically, translated a short distance, then landed vertically on a different pad a little less than a minute after takeoff.

The long-awaited test was intended to go to an altitude of 150 meters, although it was not immediately clear from the webcast of the flight exactly what altitude the vehicle achieved. The company provided no commentary for the webcast, and ended it shortly after the vehicle made what appeared to be a successful landing.

SpaceX attempted to fly Starhopper Aug. 26, but the attempt was scrubbed after the Raptor engine failed to ignite. SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk later tweeted that “dual redundant torch igniters” in the engine appeared to have malfunctioned and needed to be inspected before trying again.

The vehicle, powered by a single Raptor engine that uses methane and liquid oxygen propellants, made its first free flight July 25, rising several meters off the pad before landing about 10 to 15 seconds later. At the time, Musk said he expected a “hop” to an altitude of 200 meters in “a week or two.”

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Terminator Times #62

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

Watch USAF's RoboPILOT on its first flight.

A USAF MQ-9 Reaper was shotdown in Yemen.

The USAF has stated drones, not fighters are the future of air to air combat.  Well, and the B-21 with A2A capabilities.

The Russians stated a USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk was detected near Crimea.

The US Army is seeking suicide drone proposals.

The USN provided an update on the MQ-25A.

A British Watchkeeper drone crashed for embarrassing reasons.

China and Iran showed off tactical UAV concepts at MAK.

China is demoing the CH-4 for Indonesia.

China showed off a Loyal Wingman concept at MAKS.  And another.

India may buy 10 Maritime Predators.  Or more for more branches of the military.

Iran unveiled the Kian long range strike UAV.

Iran displayed the Mobin stealthy UAV concept at the MAKS2019 airshow.

Iraqi Shi'ite militias stated 2 fighters were killed near the Syrian border by a UAV and they are blaming Israel.

Two Israeli UAVs crashed in Lebanon.

Israel launched an attack on a QODS base in Syria to prevent a drone attack.

Lebanon stated Israel's drone strikes on it are an act of war.

Lebanon is claiming an Israeli drone dropped incendiaries on a forest.

Russia has flown its Israeli derived Forpost UAV.

Russia has flown its Altius-U UAV, the Russian Reaper equivalent.

A model of the Ohotnik-B at the MAKS2019 airshow shows a changed exhaust nozzle.  Russia also claims it will start delivering Ohotniks in 2025.

Russia's Orion-2 UAV is at least two years away.

The Russians displayed several UAVs and UAV concepts at MAKS.

Russia displayed a model of a hypersonic testbed.

Saudi Arabia was attacked by drone again causing a 'minor' gas fire at an oil field.  Another drone attack targeted the Abha airbase/airport again.  Saudi Arabia said it downed a drone in that attack.  The Houthis claimed to attack Riyadh with drones.  Saudi Arabia claims to have shot down two Houthi drones.

Taiwan is pursuing multirotor UAVs.

Taiwan has developed a ship launched UAV.

A Turkish Bayraktar TB2 may have been spotted in Libya.

Turkey is supporting local UAV development.

General Atomics got a contract to upgrade Reaper and Gray Eagle UAVs.

General Atomics welcomed more Belgium suppliers to the MQ-9B program.

Northrop is boosting its RQ-4 Global Hawk production capabilities.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos and Ogres):

US Army has started investigating robotic decoy tanks.

The British are looking for robots to load its missiles onto Royal Navy ships.

Estonia is leading the EU project to develop the next gen UGV.

Russia is developing unmanned T-72 tanks.

General Robotics has improved its DOGO robot.

ReconRobotics has enhanced its ThrowBot with a stun grenade.

Rheinmetall proposed launching Warmate suicide drones from its Mission Master UGV.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Ro Boats):

A new USN surface squadron in San Diego will soon receive its first Sea Hunter USV.

China is developing the JARI USV.

ZSQUARED has developed a USV.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

The USN's Knifefish UUV has reached milestone C.

General Dynamics won a contract for the LRIP of the Knifefish.

Software Bots:

The USAF doesn't yet trust software bots to select targets.

The Pentagon AI lead is saying to start with 50% solutions and then improve.


The US Army is leaning on industry for its manned/unmanned teaming.

The USMC has unveiled its modernization plan and it relies heavily on unmanned systems.

A report to Congress on autonomous weapon systems.

Is the campaign to stop killer robots unethical and immoral?

Friday, September 06, 2019

Europa Clipper has has a key Review

A NASA mission to a potentially habitable moon of Jupiter has cleared a major review despite uncertainty about when, or how, it will launch.

NASA announced Aug. 19 that it had formally confirmed the Europa Clipper mission to proceed into its next phase of development, known as Phase C. That will cover final design of the spacecraft, followed by assembly and testing.

“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said in a statement announcing the milestone.

Europa Clipper will enter orbit around Jupiter and make dozens of close approaches to Europa, one of the planet’s largest moons. Europa has an icy surface, below which most scientists believe is a deep ocean of liquid water. Combined with the interior heat source that keeps the ocean from freezing, and the presence of organic compounds, Europa has the basic requirements to support life.

While the programmatic milestone Europa Clipper achieved, known in NASA parlance as Key Decision Point C, is the point where NASA sets the schedule and budget for the mission, exactly when Europa Clipper will launch is not yet clear. In the statement announcing the mission’s confirmation, NASA noted that current plans have the spacecraft ready for launch as soon as 2023. However, the mission has a formal launch readiness date of 2025.

That uncertainty is linked to how the mission will be launched. The mission’s preferred launch option is the Space Launch System, which will allow the spacecraft to travel directly to Jupiter without the need of gravity assists, arriving within three years of launch. Language in appropriations bills for fiscal year 2019 and prior years also directed NASA to use the SLS.


The IG office of NASA is asking for flexibility for the launch of the Europa Clipper.  This includes which launch vehicle will be used and when.  If NASA selects any other launch vehicle, the arrival at Europa will be delayed by over 5 years, if not more.  For that reason, I'd have to say I hope Congress declines the request.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Anthropocene Didn't Just Start, Dates from at least 4,000 Years ago

Humans had caused significant landcover change on Earth up to 4000 years earlier than previously thought, University of Queensland researchers have found.

The School of Social Sciences' Dr Andrea Kay said some scientists defined the Anthropocene as starting in the 20th century, but the new research showed human-induced landcover change was globally extensive by 2000BC.

The Anthropocene - the current geological age - is viewed as the period in which human activity has been the dominant influence on Earth's climate and the environment.

"The activities of farmers, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers had significantly changed the planet four milennia ago,'' Dr Kay said.

The ArchaeoGLOBE project used an online survey to gather land-use estimates over the past 10,000 years from archaeologists with regional expertise.

"The modern rate and scale of anthropogenic global change is far greater than those of the deep past, but the long-term cumulative changes that early food producers wrought on Earth are greater than many people realise," Dr Kay said.

"Even small-scale, shifting agriculture can cause significant change when considered at large scales and over long time-periods."

Note: *NO* part of the globe was exempt.  Not even the Americas.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Japan is Considering Building an ASAT Weapon

The government is considering launching a satellite to intercept foreign countries’ military satellites in the event of an emergency, as part of efforts to strengthen deterrence amid a rapidly increasing military threat in outer space, as seen in the development by China and Russia of satellites that can attack others, according to several government sources.

The government plans to make a formal decision on the introduction of such an intercepting satellite by the end of the next fiscal year so it can be launched in the mid-2020s, the sources said.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Robopocalypse Report #119


Amazon is seeking FAA approval for its drone delivery plans.

Bell's APT-70 cargo drone has flown.

The first FAA approved beyond line of sight drone has flown.

The FAA is warning everyone it is illegal to weaponize your drone.

DLR has been working on autonomous gyrocopters to act as cargo haulers.

The drone racing league is letting anyone buy the Racer4 drone.

Watch a drone take over a nearby smart tv.

Extinction Rebellion is threatening to shut down Heathrow with drones on September 13th.

Self Driving Cars:

What are the regulatory barriers in the US to full self driving?

Driverless scooters are coming.

Didi will offer self driving cars for its service in Shanghai.

Ford bought a robotics company to improve its self driving cars.

Kodiak Robotics has started a self driving truck route between Houston and Dallas.

Navya is abandoning the autonomous shuttle market.

Optimus Ride has started its self driving shuttle business in the Brooklyn Naval Yard.

Sony and Yamaha are working on a self driving cart for theme parks.

Tesla's Elon Musk has hinted at Project Dojo as his way to leap forward in the self driving car race.

UPS has been quietly using self driving trucks in Arizona for a while now.

Waymo has been using evolutionary competition to improve its self driving cars.

Waymo is sharing its data with researchers.

3d Printing:

3d printing has been successfully used in spinal implant work.

Researchers bioprinted living tissue in seconds.

Exploring how 3d printing might help with hip joint replacements.

A spinoff of the University of Pisa is 3d printing drone parts.

How to 3d print a human heart.  Sorta.

James Cook University compared different 3d printed rocket fuels.

SQ3D printed a prototype house is 12 hours.

3d printing is being used to try to create actuators for soft robots.


Meet FEDOR.  The scary, cylon looking robot being sent to the ISS by Russia.

Autonomous combines are being tested in Russia.

A chameleon inspired soft robot can change color.

A cockroach inspired robot cannot be squashed.

The Jellyfish robot swims untethered again.

Joola has made a robot for pingpong training.

Meet Kiki the social robot.

Apparently, Marty the grocery store bot is pretty useless and ominous.

Mesbot is a UUV intended to explore the mesopelagic depths of the ocean.

There is a robot that moves (sorta) like the human tongue.

New flexible sensors mimic human skin.

Autonomous USVs will hunt for Amelia Earhart's crash site.

Meet Astro, the robo dog.

Rollbot is a self folding, soft robot capable of self movement.

Consumer UUVs are a thing it seems.

DARPA's Underground Challenge presses ahead.

KAIST as developed artificial muscles.

MIT has developed a robot that can move through your arteries and veins.  Oh, and it's shaped like a worm.

MIT has developed boats that can reconfigure themselves.

Harvard has developed a robotic hand capable of grabbing jellyfish.

There is a new type of synthetic skin for robotics.


Harvard developed some soft robotic shorts that assist running and walking.


The Arque is a robotical tail for a person to improve balance.

Bionic (functional prosthetic) eyes will possibly be able to see into the infrared.

Say hello to the Harvard developed cyborg organelles.

Japan will be offering $1 billion worth of research grants in 25 areas for cyborg tech and human augmentation.

Software Bots:

There are calls for an international ethics board to be independent of any nation and company.

Should software bots be required to go through FDA like trials?

Should China and the US collaborate on software bots for medical science or compete?

Will China lead the world in AI develop by 2030?

Researchers have developed a rigorous benchmark for software bots to be measured by for language understanding.

Amazon and Microsoft are putting the world at risk for killer AI.

Can open source take on Amazon and Google for software bots?

Cerebas is building a massive chip to power its AI development.

Facebook is training a digital assistant with Minecraft.

Google's DeepMind AI can supposedly predict kidney disease 48 hours ahead of time.

Google's DeepMind is being used to track Serengeti wildlife.

The cofounder of Google's DeepMind has been placed on leave while improprieties are being investigated.

Sony is using software bots to replace drummers.

Squirrel AI is a new 'school marm' software bot to tutor students in China.  The Chinese are looking to export it.

Software bots are being used by the Mayo Clinic for screening for atrial fibrillation. 

Are software bots making office life easier?

Software bots are being used for breast cancer screenings in London.

Software bots can help predict if storms will cause blackouts.

How software bots may be helping revolutionize medical diagnosis.

Researchers are pushing for software bots to be granted two patents.

There is a software bot to make sure patrons at bars are served in the right order.

A software bot can improve digital breast tomosynthesis.

Software bots are learning to detect fake smiles.

Three pitfalls to avoid when developing software bots.

See a software bot rendering your digital footprint.

A software bot predicts cell response to disease and treatment.

Software bots are coming for the coders, too.

There is a call for software bots to embrace social sciences in their coding.

Software bots could yield more accurate breast cancer diagnoses.

The human brain has inspired a new type of software bot algorithm.

Software bots are classifying words from where the brain activates.

Software bots need your data and you ought to be paid for it.

Software bots intended to flag hate speech are 1.5x as likely to flag black posters online than white.

Software bots are being used to test the math behind evolutionary theory.

Software bots have been developed to read ebooks in the author's voice.

Software bots are able to help track tiny particles.

A new brain map could help with machine vision.

Flawed software bots are grading millions of student essays.

Software bots can ID people in need of strong depression treatment.

Software bots can help ID genetic influence on behavior.

Software bots can play 6 person poker.

Software bots are helping track night time migrations of birds.

Software bots can help improve eye exams.

Software bots are helping to find a 'green' path to nylon.

Software bots take a stab at simulating the universe.

Software bots are being used to study old art master pieces.


How much does robo coffee cost?

A robochemist set up uses software bots with robotics to make new compounds.

Georgia Tech has developed a robot that can build its own tools for a task.


Strap on your exoskeleton, give up control and dance at the Gray Area Festival!

The "ethics" of hiding your data from the bots.

Former Uber, former Otto, former Waymo employee Levandowski is being charged by the federal government for stealing trade secrets of Waymo's self driving cars.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

What Happened on the White Sea near Nyonoksa, Russia?

Something strange happened near Nyonoksa, Russia. There was an explosion. There was a radiation spike. At least five Russian nuclear personnel were killed. Information is dribbling out. The Russians are slowly fessing up to what happened. However, details are very, very elusive and there is an enormous amount of speculation.

Nyonoksa, Russia is in the Archangelsk Oblast (district) near Severodinsk and Archangels. It is located off the east shore of the White Sea and in the general vicinity of a lot of Russian naval bases. The accident or incident didn't happen at the town itself though, but rather at a site nearby. If the Russians are to be believed, it was out on the White Sea itself.

On August 8th, an accident took place. The accident was supposedly due to rocket fuel catching fire and at least five people have so far have died. The reports initially just stated there was an accident with a rocket. This happens rockets having far, far more energy stored in them than even a 747 and when precautions are not sufficiently taken, people die. It even happens here in the US: ask the Challenger astronauts or Virgin Galactic employees. It would have been a tragedy rather than a mystery.  This is not a strictly Russian thing.

But then...

Radiation counters spiked in in Nyonoksa, Russia and elsewhere. The radiation levels spiked to 20x the norm. And then returned to normal within days. Even possibly a day. The Norwegians reported no spike in Norway until several days later, but it was a spike of radioactive iodine. Previous radioative iodine spikes have been attributed to medical manufacturing in Russia in the past.

Therein lies the mystery.

Had this been a case where a nuclear weapon or whatnot had had a subcritical explosion, the fallout would have contaminated the area and the radiation would be persistent and VERY detectable with the cloud it would have generated in Norway with far more isotopes than merely the glowy-version of iodine. Yet it did not. Whatever caused the spike did so with a gas or something very transiently and easily dispersible.

The Moscow initially denied there was no radiation spike. They originally stated there was an explosion with a liquid fuel rocket engine. Now they are saying the stating the 7 killed were working on iso tope power sources' for new weapon systems. Yet, they still deny the radiation release: the city of Nyonoksa stated there was a radiation spike though and there was a run on iodine in town (iodine can protect the thyroid from radiation damage).  The Russians later announced and then cancelled an evacuation of Nyonoksa.

This has increased the speculation as to what happened. The Warzone (and others) have suggested there was an explosion related to the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile the Russians have been working on: NATO calls the weapon 'Skyfall' which I find to be way more awesome, btw. This uses an exposed nuclear reactor to heat air into providing thrust. This was explored by the US in Project Pluto back in the 1960s/1970s. A premature or accidental test run would fit the profile for the radiation spike, but would not be a match for the description of an explosion: the engine exhaust can be radioactive even if no radioactive material from the engine is lost. The workers being present when the engine started and unexpectedly would also fit why they died and what they were doing.


If the workers were killed in an accidental test, it would be a massive case of negligence. Worse than that, actually. Heads ought to be rolling so much that Putin could field a bowling team using the severed heads as bowling balls.

Burevestnik has been an air launched weapon. Russia has been testing it over in Siberia. Archangelsk's area is more naval. The location seems rather strange for the Burevestnik then unless they were working on it to integrate with naval assets. Possible, but strangely premature. The weapon is still in very early testing and the flight regime is still being expanded.   Adding the capability to, say, the Tu-144 Backfires, would be really dumb at this point. Likewise attempting to do the same with a sub or surface ship is also stupid: with money tight in the Russian defense budget, getting the missile working ought to come first and the Russians are far from stupid in that regard. This should have greatly decreased the possibility of the Burevestnik being the source of the radiation.  


The engineers killed were related to the nuclear industry in Russia.  the Russians have copped to the explosion being related to their nuclear weapons development.  The US gov has stated they think the explosion was related to the Burevestnik.  In a weird and blatant twist, the Russians have been disabling radiation sensors in the area.  And doctors reported Cesium-137 in patients.

Other possibilities - unlikely ones - were a nuclear sub had to do an emergency reactor venting after an explosion.  Yet another possibility was the explosion and the radiation leak were from difference incidents.   Some have thrown out some crazy ideas based on the fact the Russians called the test as using a isotopic power source: a deliciously obfuscating phrase that covers nuclear reactors, RTGs and several other oddities.

The weirdness about the very transient nature of the radioactive cloud and Russia's obfuscations leave a lot of unknowns.  So, while, far less of a mystery than two weeks ago, the real nature of what happened continues to remain murky.

What caused the radiation spike? Why did it clear so quickly? What is going on on the shores of the White Sea?   We suspect, but don't know.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #31

Genus Homo:

Apparently, there has been selection against the archaic components of the genome when interbreeding hast taken place between modern humans and other hominin species.   

Could cooking have shaped our evolution for the last 2 million years?

More articles about the two previously undetected hominin relatives people seem to have interbred with.

Rock art requires a relatively high density demographic.

Modern Humanity (H. sapiens):

Tetrapod Zoology goes into five "mysterious" cave paintings.

Two Patagonian volcanic caves have evidence of people for the last 19,000 years.

Late Pleistocene fossils of modern humans have been found across the Wallace Line.

Mesolithic fire pits from the Netherlands get studied.

Modern humans occupied the Ethiopian highlands sometime between 31 kya to 47 kya.

An infant burial was found from Late Pleistocene Morocco

Human presence evidence from the Upper Paleolithic of Joran.

Ancient tools suggest modern humans spread across Eurasia earlier than previously thought.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

Studying Neandertal brains may give insights to modern human brain evolution.

The virtual reconstruction of the Apidima-2 skull.

The paleogenetic analysis of the Gibraltar Neandertals shows two different populations separated by time.

Half of Neandertals suffered from surfers ear, strongly implying they spent a lot of time in the water gathering food.

A Neandertal tooth was found in the Zagros Mountains.


Could the 3 rooted second molar in the first Denisovan mandible be morphological evidence of introgression into modern populations?

Did Denisovans intentionally carve and paint this rock?

Denisovans are starting to come into the paleoanthropological light.

Hobbits (H. floresiensis):

Meet the hobbits of Indonesia.

H. erectus:

The Koobi Fora site in Kenya gets more support for being evidence of early use of fire.

H. naledi:

Meet Homo naledi.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. africanus mothers appear to have nursed their children for at least a year.

Authors of a new paper are arguing StW 573's skull shows it to be a different species than A. africanus.


Hominin fossils seem to indicate early human species had teeth development similar to modern humans.

A single gene mutation 2 million years ago might explain why humans are prone to heart attacks.

There were significant environmental changes in the Middle Pleistocene in Europe.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Is This China's Next Gen Space Capsule?

Pictures have emerged of what appears to be China's next generation space capsule.  It looks like the drawings I've seen, but...

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Terminator Times #61

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones):

DARPA tested OFFSET, a drone swarm building tool.  Can it be used to map battles in real time?

Four companies have been selected to compete for the US Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems.

The US Army has awarded General Atomics a contract for work on their Gray Eagle UAVs.

The US Army wants to add a UAV to its Assault Breacher vehicles.

The US Army has started using its Black Hornet mini drones in Afghanistan for infantry patrols.

The "secretive" drone base near Groom Lake that the Warzone has been obsessing over gets new sat photographs.

The USAF is already testing software for Skyborg.

USAF RQ-4 Global Hawks will be soon operating out of Yokota air base.

The USAF is expecting a revolution in small turbines.

The USAF has designated the Dynetics Gremlins as the X-61A.

The USAF's AFRL made a robo pilot that flew a Cessna for 2 straight hours.

The USAF is seeking information on the small UAV supply chain.

The first two Marines have graduated from the training for MQ-9 Reaper operations as the USMC moves to operating their own.

The British unveiled the LANCA program, a British Loyal Wingman.

The British unveiled the Reaper to Protector transition.

How a British Watchkeeper drone went down.

China had a Soar Dragon UAV shadow the USS Antietam's transit of the Taiwan Strait.

A French Rafale has been spotted with a marking for killing a UAV.

Iraq only has one operational CH-4 drone and its ScanEagles are in terrible shape, too.

Japan is considering buying the MQ-8C FireScout.

A drone strike in southern Libya has killed 43 people.

The LNA claims a counterstrike against Turkish UAVs.

The Russian flying wing Ohotnok-B/Hunter-B UCAV had its first flight.  More on the S-70 Ohotnik-B flight.

The Russians have an interesting hybrid drone.

South Korea's KUS-VH unmanned variant of the MD 500 helicopter has flown.

The US State Department approved the possible sale of support for South Korea for the Global Hawk.

South Korea will take delivery of its first RQ-4 Global Hawk next month.

Taiwan's Chien Hsiang antiradiation drone was unveiled.

Taiwan's Hong Que small UAVs have been unveiled as well.

Taiwan is also working on a new MALE UAV.

Yemeni Houthis attacked Saudi Arabia with drones again.  The Houthis also attacked a military parade in Aden.  Apparently 30 were killed.  Another attack again.  And again.  And again.  And Again.  And again (and the Saudis shot a drone down).

Boeing Australia is stepping up its unmanned work.

Kratos is expecting orders totaling up to 40 for its Valkyries UCAV by year's end.

MartinUAV's V-Bat gets profiled.  the drone is under consideration for the US Army's FTUAS program mentioned above.

Northrop won two contracts for the MQ-4C Triton.

Orbital Corp of Australia is eying the tactical UAV market.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos and Ogres):

Can robots make an Army platoon 10x more effective?

The USMC is looking at unmanned ground systems to refuel F-35s and other assets on islands and remote bases.

The Australian Army trialed logistics UGVs at an exercise.

Israel is exploring manned-unmanned teaming for armoured warfare.

The Russian Marker UGV is being used for R&D.

ST Engineering demonstrated a new UGCV, an unmanned version of its NGAFV.

Umanned Surface Vehicles (Ro-boats);

The US Navy released the draft RFP for the Overlord Large USV.

British Aerospace is demonstrating the P950 USV.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

Huntington Ingalls is expecting high demand from the US Navy for UUVs and is preparing for that future.

Saab has finished the first production Sea Wasp ROV.


Soft robotics might be the route forward for exoskeletons for the US Army.


The US Army is seeking software bots and unmanned tech to make infantry squads more effective.

The US Navy tested several unmanned systems on the USNS Spearhead.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Cargo DreamChaser to be Flown 6 Times on ULA Vulcan Rocket

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Cargo Dream Chaser has extended its agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) from two to six launches during its Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) missions to the International Space Station (ISS). All six missions will launch on ULA’s new rocket, Vulcan Centaur. The move was expected but requirement confirmation given Dream Chaser’s ability to launch on several launch vehicle options.

Dream Chaser will be flying at least six missions to the ISS in the 2020s, following NASA’s contract award to SNC – along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK for the CRS2 missions.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Is China Building a Naval Base in Cambodia?

Along pristine Cambodian beaches, past parades of elephants in its largest national park, sits an area half the size of Singapore that is raising alarm bells among military strategists in the U.S. and beyond.

Dara Sakor, a $3.8 billion China-backed investment zone encompassing 20% of Cambodia’s coastline, is unlike any other in the developing Southeast Asian nation. Controlled by a Chinese company with a 99-year lease, it features phased plans for an international airport, a deep-water seaport and industrial park along with a luxury resort complete with power stations, water treatment plants and medical facilities.

The size and scope of the plans for Dara Sakor have fanned U.S. concerns the resort could be part of a larger Chinese plan to base military assets in Cambodia, according to an official familiar with the situation. A naval presence there would further expand China’s strategic footprint into Southeast Asia, consolidating its hold over disputed territory in the South China Sea and waterways that carry trillions of dollars of trade.

Cambodia denies it.

China downplays it.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Stealth Saga #50

6th Generation Fighters:

The sixth gen of fighters gets profiled.

MDBA unveiled its weapons concepts for the European FCAS project.

The fighter component of the FCAS project is now known as the Next Generation Fighter and will be designed to work with carriers in the same way as the Rafale from the get go.

The Swedes have joined the Tempest project.

The Tempest will probably have hypersonic weapons.

Thales and Aeralis have signed an MOU to develop a combat training system for the Tempest.

US experts opine on the NGAD.

The USAF expects to do a lot of modeling and simulation in support of the NGAD effort.  This has always worked so well in the past (*cough*Zumwalt*cough*FCS*cough*).


Jakarta is still trying to get concessions on the cost of their participation in the KF-X program.

Jakarta is also exploring trying to send commodities instead of money for their payment of the KF-X program.


The Russians have stated the flying wing Ohotnik UCAV has made its first flight.


The SU-57 has supposedly entered serial production.  The first production model is supposed to be delivered this year.

The Su-57 will be put on static display at MAKS.


Supposedly, the PAK-DA will be tested (if its ever built) in Zhukovsky.  Article mostly talks about the other, older bombers Russia has.

Chengdu's Mystery Plane:

A flying pin from the Chengdu Aircraft company doesn't match with any known aircraft.  Real? Trolling? What?


AVIC officials are upbeat on the J-31/FC-31 progress and eventual adoption by the PLA.


The first J-20 has been assigned to a combat unit in Wuhu.


Northrop has started building the first EMD B-21.  There are additional test aircraft being built, which implies there were earlier demonstrators were flown.  The first flight will be in late 2021.


It is the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the B-2 bomber.


NASA tested scale models of the F-117 in 1995 to see what would happen if the aircraft carried external weapons.


Like the F-35, the F-22 will not reach the required 80% combat readiness.

Some great shots of the F-22 with aggressors were shot over Alaska.

There are some gorgeous videos of the F-22 and F-35.

The F-22 sent to Oshkosh had its RAM skin crumbling.

F-22s (and CF-18s) intercepted Russian bombers.


The F-35 won't reach the 80% availability due to parts problems.

The new engines for the F-35 will improve fuel efficiency by 25% and increase thrust by 10%.

There has been a leadership change in the F-35 program.

F-35As are getting the Auto GCAS aircraft early.

4 F-35As landed in Powidz air base as part of a deployment to Poland.

F-35s have landed in Latvia for the first time.

The first permanent base in Europe for US F-35s is being built.

The first F-35A for the Vermont NG has flown from the Lockheed Ft Worth facility.

The F-35A demo team will fly in Canada.

An F-35 went on its first combat training mission 5 hours after being delivered from the factory.

An F-35 sent target data to a US Army missile command.

The USS Tripoli has completed builder's trials.

The newest LHA USS Tripoli (F-35B baby carrier) has been delayed.

Take a look at the shockwaves on the. F-35C

1st Lt Catherine Stark is the first female USMC pilot to be selected to fly the F-35C.

WiB reports the F-35 may have an issue with its canopy.  A new canopy glue may fix the readiness problems.

The first locally trained Australian F-35 pilots have flown.

Australia has consolidated its MRO support for the F-35.

Belgium is spending 375 million Euros on F-35 infrastructure.

Britains 2nd F-35B squadron arrived at Marnham.

Israel is going to have to pick between the F-15X and F-35I in their budget since they do not have the resources for both.

Are Israeli F-35Is making strikes in Iraq against Iranian assets?

The Netherlands has plans to order another 8 to 9 F-35s.

Turkey has taken delivery of the S-400 missiles.  Will Trump keep Turkey in the F-35 program?  The Pentagon is planning on raiding the spare parts budget - which is already 15 years behind schedule! - to pay for removing Turkey from the program.  Turkey is officially out of the F-35 fighter program by March 2020: Turkey cannot have the S-400 and the F-35. The Pentagon has started unwinding Turkey's involvement in the F-35 program.  Of course, Trump found a way to blame Obama: fscking man up, Trumpster.  Lockheed's CEO is stating the Turkish question is being addressed and is confident other customers will buy the F-35s built for Turkey.  A refund and details of how Turkey will be removed are up in the air.

South Korea has had two more F-35As arrive in country: its 3rd and 4th out of 40.

South Korea has started designing a light carrier for the F-35B.

South Korea is moving forward with its F-35B acquisition.