Saturday, November 25, 2017

Stealth Saga #68

The Unknown:

NORAD & the FAA are confirming an odd encounter with an unknown aircraft in Oregon.


Canada expects to kick off a competition to select a 5th gen fighter in 2019.  um.  There's only one for sale, oh Canada.


Indonesia has failed to pay its part of the KF-X program.

Harris has won a contract for the KF-X.


Japan is likely to delay the F-3 program.

Tornado Replacement:

The head of Airbus Defense and Space is calling on Germany and France to hurry up on decisions about the program.

In a bad sign for the program, Germany has stated the preferred replacement for the Tornado is the F-35.

Eurofighter Replacement:

Airbus has unveiled its concept for the Typhoon replacement.


Finland will be seeking 64 new fighters.  The F-35 may be a contender.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The USAF Penetrating Counter Air platform might have a serious funding problem.

The USAF has been working on a new very long range missile for two years.


Northrop's parking lots seem to be rather full.  Is it a sign the B-21 program is ramping up?

An FOIA document on the B-21 appears to confirm the B-21 is optionally manned and nuclear capable (but not necessarily at the same time).


F-117s were seen on the road under protective covers for transport.  Probably for destruction.

Another F-117 was seen flying the day after the previous one(s) were seen on the road.


A com gateway between the F-22 and the F-35 is on the air force wish list.

F-22s conducted its first ground attack mission ever in Afghanistan.  Against a drug lab.

Six F-22s are being deployed to South Korea in December.

Is deploying F-22s to Afghanistan realistic training or just plain overkill?


Lockheed has delayed certifying the 3F software build for the F-35 under February.

Lockheed is targeting a $80 million per F-35A price for LRIP 14.

The House authorized 20 more F-35s than the White House asked for: 56 F-35As, 24 F-35B and 10 F-35C.  The Senate has offered less.

Watch 10 more F-35As arrive at Kadena.

The 62nd Fighter Squadron traveled to Mountain Home AFB for the 2nd F-35A training course.

The damaged F-35A was transported from Mountain Home AFB to Utah by the logistics arm of the USAF by ground.

An F-35A underwent extensive lifecycle testing to see how long the airframe will survive.  The fighter seems to have made it through 24,000 hours at this point.

The USMC VMFA-121 is at full strength with its F-35Bs in Japan.

The US Navy gave Lockheed a modest contract to integrate the small diameter bomb II on the F-35.

International partners in the F-35 program are worried about sovereignty issues with the ALIS system in the F-35 and have worked up interim solutions.

British F-35Bs have been training with Kfirs.

The Brits have been talking up the interoperability of the F-35 with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Denmark has found problems with its selection of the F-35.

Israel is ready for its next two F-35Is.

The first Japanese built F-35B flew and landed at Misawa AB.

Norway's receipt of its first F-35s is a major milestone.

UAE wants to buy the F-35, the US is in discussions, but a USAF general is skeptical of a mixed F-35 and Russian air fleet.

Lockheed has stated the international partners in the F-35 program are getting their simulators.

Pratt & Whitney got a contract for spare parts for the F-35.

Counter stealth:

Iran continues to build anti stealth aircraft defenses.


Take a look at the secretive Tonopah test facility.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Robopocalypse Report #98 (mini version)

Apple has released self driving car research.

The British want a large number of self driving cars on the road by 2021.

California may limit the liability of self driving car manufacturers.

Delphi acquired self driving car company nuTonomy.

General Motors is finding self driving cars require a lot of computing power and that negatively impacts fuel economy.

General Motors has been pitching its hydrogen fuel cell tech to the US Army, including self driving, unmanned logistics trucks.

Google is driving its self driving cars around Chandler, Arizona without any backup driver.

Google will also test its cars in Detroit.

The first Las Vegas self driving bus got into an accident just hours after launch.

Lyft has received approval to drive its self driving cars in California.

Singapore will start using self driving buses in 2022.

Uber has ordered 24,000 Volvos for conversion into self driving cars.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Different Russia Minister Says it Will NEVER Legalize Bitcoin

In yet another backflip worthy of the Moscow Circus, a Russian minister has said that the country will never legalize bitcoin, just seven months after another government minister said it was considering making it legal.

Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolai Nikiforov made the statement Monday, saying that “bitcoin is a foreign project for using blockchain technology, the Russian law will never consider bitcoin as a legal entity in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017

China Claims Next Aircraft Carrier Will Have an Electronic Catapult

People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Chinese defence industry officials are claiming that the second of China’s indigenously built aircraft carriers, the Type 002, will be equipped with an electromagnetic catapult, according to a report in the South China Morning Post .

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Terminator Times #35

Drones (UAVs):

The USAF is allowing more airmen to become drone pilots.

The USMC can now print drones with its expeditionary forces.

The US Navy's ONR tested the Nomad UAV on the USS Coronado.

The US Navy has one less competitor in the Stingray unmanned tanker procurement: Northrop has dropped out.  This is a bad sign because NG was seen as the leading contender.  It strongly implies Northrop thinks the competition will not complete or be badly mismanaged,

It appears the MQ-25 Stingray has gone weirdly pear shaped: there are rumors the Stingray will be an unmanned F-18 modified for tanking.  That might be the only way to get the stingray on the deck by 2019 like the Admirals want.  It would explain Northrop's withdrawal.

DARPA has funded the development of a drone that disappears after a single use.

The US Missile Defense Agency has awarded a contract for a laser test program to General Atomics as a precursor to placing a laser on a UAV, probably some variant of GA's Avenger.

Azerbaijan's Heron drones have been spotted at a new base.

The Bolivian Army demonstrated new UAVs, apparently from China.

China will resupply its South China Sea bases with its AT200 cargo drone.

China's Sunic-Ocean unveiled its SU-H2M VTOL drone.

Pakistan claims to have shot down an Indian spy drone.

Portugal is looking for a mini UAV system.

Russia delivered over 30 new drones to its western forces.

Spain has ordered the Fulmar mini UAV system.

The Swiss government is embarrassed because its officials witnessed the testing of the Hermes 900 in the Golan Heights.

Turkey has started manufacturing suicide drones, the Alpagu and Kargu.

The Cormorant UAV got its Safran helicopter engine.

Vanilla Aircraft demonstrated a less than 500 kg UAV that can fly for more than 5 days.

The future of drones gets discussed: higher autonomy, smaller and deadlier, operational challenges, and teaming deployment.

Ogres and Bolos (UGVs):

Russia is procuring armed robots for combat.

Robo Boats (USVs):

China's Yunzhou unveiled its M80B USV for ocean recon.

Robo Subs (UUVs):

The USMC sees a need for multiple types of UUV in the littorals.

Kazakhstan established an MRO facility for UUVs.

Lockheed won a contract to design an Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle.

Skynet (AI):

Google and other tech companies are warning China could outpace the US in AI technology by 2025.

Counter Drone:

China's Digitech is developing counter UAV systems.

Russia has stood up a dedicated drone killing unit.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A/2017 U1: Our First Known Interstellar Visitor

A small, recently discovered asteroid -- or perhaps a comet -- appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

This unusual object - for now designated A/2017 U1 - is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast. Astronomers are urgently working to point telescopes around the world and in space at this notable object. Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers may know more about the origin and possibly composition of the object.

A/2017 U1 was discovered Oct. 19 by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, during the course of its nightly search for near-Earth objects for NASA. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA), was first to identify the moving object and submit it to the Minor Planet Center. Weryk subsequently searched the Pan-STARRS image archive and found it also was in images taken the previous night, but was not initially identified by the moving object processing.


Some are starting to call A/2017 U1 'Oumuamua.'

Is likely to find its next star in around a quadrillion, yes, quadrillion! years.  (get over the math envy, one friend said)

What is the rotation rate of A/2017 U1 and does it have a comet-like tail?

A/2017 U1 appears to be very red and lack absorption lines.

A/2017 U1 seems to have formed in a warm environment, not like the outer solar system.

A/2017 U1 is likely to be interstellar in origin.

Could A/2017 U1 have formed in a local stellar association?

What does A/2017 U1's detection mean about the universe?

What does A/2017 U1 imply about planetary formation?

Thursday, November 09, 2017

A Databus for Quantum Computers

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation, however, because quantum systems are very sensitive to environmental noise. Although systems can be protected from noise in principle, researchers have been able to build only small prototypes of quantum computers experimentally. One way to reduce the error rate is by encoding quantum information not in one single quantum particle but in several quantum objects. These logical quantum bits or qubits are more robust against noise. In the last few years, theoretical physicists have developed a whole range of error correction codes and optimized them for specific tasks. Physicists Hendrik Poulsen Nautrup and Hans Briegel from the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Innsbruck and Nicolai Friis, now at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, have found a technique to transfer quantum information between systems that are encoded differently.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Russia's View of American History Podcast

Ivan Kurilla is a Professor of History and International Relations at the European University at St. Petersburg. He specializes in the history of the US–Russian relations, especially during American antebellum and Civil War period. He’s the author of Zaokeanskie partnery: Amerika i Rossiya v 1830-1850-e gody (Partners across the Ocean: The United States and Russia, 1830s–1850s). His scholarship in English includes “Abolition of Serfdom in Russia and American Newspaper and Journal Opinion” in New Perspectives on Russian-American Relations, edited by Norman Saul and Russian/Soviet Studies in the United States, Amerikanistika in Russia: Mutual Representations in Academic Projects, edited with Victoria Zhuraleva and published by Lexington Books.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Russia Will Launch 4th Borei Nuclear Missile Sub in November

The first advanced version of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Project 955A Borei-class (North Wind) – the Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) – will be floated out this coming November, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Korolev, said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.

“In the near future, the Severodvinsk-based Sevmash Shipyard will float out a new nuclear-powered missile underwater cruiser, the Knyaz Vladimir, from the slipway. The event will take place in November,” he said.

Korolev earlier said that the fourth Borei-class boomer was supposed to have been floated out in August.

The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down in 2012 and will become the fourth submarine in the series of eight Borei-class underwater cruisers and the first submarine of the advanced Borei-A Project.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Stealth Saga #67


The baseline twin engine design has been decided on, but refinements are still being made.  The first prototype roll out is expected in 2022 with an ambitious 2026 entry into service.  The Indonesian variant, called the IF-X is apparently virtually the same as the KF-X, except it will lack stealth coatings and also lack an internal weapons bay.


China is moving the J-20 into production.

This stealth fighter is operational.  Really.


The Russians are claiming the Su-57 will be (or can be) upgraded with 6th generation fighter capabilities.


More reports the Indian Air Force does not want to continue their participation in the Su-57 program.

Sixth Generation Fighter:

Lockheed scored the laser portion of the SHIELD program, something that will likely lead to a weapon for fifth and especially sixth generation fighters.

The US has been working on a new long range AAM for two years.

Northrop patented a kinetic kill anti missile system for stealth aircraft.

Model 401:

Scaled Composites flew their Model 401 for the first time.  The aircraft looks like a cross between the 1960s Quiet Bird and the General Atomics Avenger.


Is the B-21 meant to be a high altitude bomber?

Will the B-21 have morphing wing technology?


The B-2 got a night time photo op.

Some interesting details on how the B-2 trained for potential strikes on North Korea.

The B-2 flew over Japan for the first time.


In 2006, the largest known formation of stealth aircraft flew over Holloman Air Force Base.


Six F-22s have deployed to Britain at RAF Lakenheath.

One of them landed with an open missile bay.

Upgrades to the F-22s might cost $1.7 billion over 11 years.


An overview of the F-35 program.

The F-35 had a week of good and bad news.

Corrosion issues are delaying F-35 deliveries by a month.

F-35 deliveries were lagging behind already.

Serious, serious spare parts issues are hitting the F-35 program: depots are six years behind on maintenance already.

F-35s are getting a significant software update.

The USAF has graduated its 500th F-35 fighter pilot.

The USAF has sent one F-35A to Eielson AFB for testing in preparation of the arrival of two F-35 squadrons in 2020.

Two F-35As participated in a South Korean air show.

12 F-35As are being deployed to Japan.  They stopped at Hawaii along the way.

As many as 108 F-35As may not get the most recent software that allows them to be considered combat coded.

The first internationally assembled F-35B has flown its first short take-off and vertical landing.

F-35Bs in Japan performed a night refueling exercise.

The US Navy has been forced to shift qualifying the VFA-125 on the F-35C from the Lincoln to the Vinson by hurricane Irma.

F-35 data was stolen from an Australian defense contractor through hacking.  None of it is supposed to be classified.

The RAF has increased the F-35's risk rating.

A rumors are spreading about an attempted SAM attack on an Israeli F-35I after the Israelis ground their F-35s for a supposed bird strike.

A RNAF F-35A has been sent to Eielson AFB for the second stage of the drag chute testing.

Norwegian F-35As were to return to Norway on November 2nd (they landed).

Turkey is interested in the F-35B.

The F-35 is increasingly important to Lockheed's profitability.

Orbital ATK will be building composite components for the F-35.

Counter Stealth:

The US Navy's newish E-2D Hawkeye is intended (supposedly) to watch for Chinese stealth fighters.

Iran is building air defenses with stealth aircraft in mind.

Friday, November 03, 2017

China Claims Will Fly HOTOL Space Plane in 2020

China plans to launch its reusable spacecraft in 2020, according to a statement from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Tuesday.

Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation.

The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.