Sunday, September 29, 2019

China has Launched its First Type 075 Amphibious Helicopter Carrier

China’s first amphibious assault ship, a Landing Helicopter Dock known as Type 075, was launched in Shanghai on Thursday.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy), the customer of the vessel, said in a statement that after a brief ceremony starting at 9:20 am at a CSSC’s Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard, waters began to be pumped into a dry dock in which the ship’s hull was built.

Participants at the ceremony – officials from the central and Shanghai governments, officers from the Central Military Commission’s Equipment Development Department and the PLA Navy, executives of the State-owned conglomerate China State Shipbuilding Corp as well as the vessel’s designers and construction workers – applauded as they watched the launch process, the statement said, without providing more details about the event.

According to the PLAN, the new class of ship was domestically developed and constructed. It will have a strong capability to carry out amphibious combat and other tasks.


As for its specifications, rumors speak of “36,000 tons of displacement”, “capacity of 28 helicopters”, “diesel engine with the 9,000 kW 16PC2-6B” and “four CIWS including two HQ-10 and two H/PJ-11”.

While the Type 075 appears to slightly smaller than the U.S. Navy’s LHA, it is larger compared to French or Spanish/Australian LHD equivalents. It is actually pretty close in size to Italy’s future Trieste LHD.

The first Type 075 was constructed in record time (this has become the norm nowadays, for Chinese shipbuilding: extremely fast construction pace that no one can match). A second vessel of the class is already under construction while a larger version is rumored to be planned.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #32

Genus Homo:

H. sapiens (modern humans):

Stone tools have been recovered from Cooper's Ferry, Idaho (USA) dating from 16,000 years ago.

Was the basal most H. sapiens surprisingly modern 500,000 years ago?

Human hearts evolved for endurance.

Foot prints have been found on Calvert Island, British Columbia dating from over 10,000 years ago.

H. neanderthalensis (Neandertals):

There was a shift at a single site of how stone tools were made during Late Acheulian the at Caune de l’Arago.

Did modern humans and Neandertals keep interbreeding over a long period?

Did the Neandertal Eustachian tube contribute to their extinction?

Neandertals were more innovative with their tools than normally credited.

The Neandertals footprints give insight into their social lives.

How Neandertals used birds, including their feathers, in the Qesem Cave, Israel.


Denisovans seem to have had fingers more like modern humans than Neandertals.

Using genetics and epigenetics, researchers have reconstructed the shape of the face of at least one Denisovan.  The facial features are distinct from Neandertals and modern humans.

The introgression of Denisovan genetics into modern humans gave us an immunity boost.

Sima de los Huesos Hominin

At least one of the Simea de los Huesos proto Neandertals seems to have been murdered.

One of the hominins at Sima de los Huesos had a pathological growth for its ears.  It might not have made the individual deaf after all.

The cochlea evolution of the Simea de los Huesos Hominins gets examined.

H. naledi:

H. naledi's baby teeth were unique.

Genus Paranthropus:

P. robustus:

The femural neck of P. robustus gets examined.

Genus Australopithecus:

What were the Australopithecines?

Australopithecines seem to have breast fed longer than their contemporaries.

A. anamensis:

A nearly complete skull of A. anamensis gives a face to the species and shows evolution is messy showing even in hominins species often overlap in time.


The trabecular boot gets examined in 4 different hominins.

Humans are unique in how they digest fatty foods.

Did a single gene mutation 3.3 million years ago make hominins prone to heart attacks?

Friday, September 27, 2019

NASA Will use a Cubesat to Test Gateway Station's Orbit

NASA hopes to put humans back on the moon by 2024, starting with an orbiting space station dubbed Lunar Gateway. And the space agency is already showing signs of prepping for the upcoming missions. Recently, the organization announced it will partner with Advance Space, an aerospace company from Colorado, to develop a small CubeSat mission to answer questions before the upcoming missions.

The CubeSat, named CAPSTONE, will be a tiny satellite with the same orbital path that Gateway could eventually take. This path will rotate together with the moon as it orbits Earth, brining it as close to the moon’s surface as 1,000 miles. CAPSTONE could launch as early as December 2020, and with it, could demonstrate how to enter and operate in this lunar orbit before the much larger spacecraft for Gateway are ready.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Stealth Saga #52

6th Generation Fighters:

BAe is exploiting 'syngeries' between the Typhoon and the Tempest.

BAe is imagining what the Tempest factory might be.

BAe is working on advanced cockpit controls that will inform on the Tempest.

MBDA showed off some of its work on Tempest.

Italy has signed a contract to study joining the Tempest project.

Is Italy joining the Tempest project actually a bad thing?

The FCAS vs Tempest: WHO! WILL! WIN! europe's budget.

The USAF may switch over to fast iterations of new fighters every 5 years.

F-3 Fighter:

The Japanese MoD is rumored to be placing the start of the F-3 program in the 2020 budget request.


The Russians are showing a model of the Ohotnik-B with a very different exhaust nozzle than the current aircraft.


Three Su-57s were spotted practicing for the MAKS 2019 airshow.

Development testing is supposed to be complete in 2019 for the Su-57.

The Su-57 was caught doing an interesting deployment of its drag chutes.

Turkey is considering buying Su-57s instead of F-35s.

Sukhoi unveiled the Su-57E, an export version of the Su-57.

An Su-57 was sent to Turkey as part of the airshow.

The impressive aerial display by an Su-57 gets discussed.

Chinese Loyal Wingman:

The Chinese showed off a Loyal Wingman concept at MAKS.


A dubious report has come out that the J-20 will be the basis for the J-XY.


Northrop is applying lessons learned from the B-2 to the B-21 program.

The B-21's first public flight route has been announced.

The USAF will probably need more than the 100 B-21s currently planned.

The USAF is considering dumping the B-1 to fund the B-21 to completion.


A video has emerged of the B-2 dropping practice 500 lbs bombs.

Even as the B-21 is coming, the B-2 is still being upgraded.

The B-2 visited Iceland for the first time.

Watch 3 B-2s land at an RAF airbase.

Take a look at B-2s flying with RAF F-35Bs.  They were training together.

A B-2 flew a long duration flight over the Arctic.

Take a look at these close up pictures of the B-2.

The B-2 practiced hot pitting in the Azores.


An F-117 fuselage was spotted being hauled on the California highways.  It was headed to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The first flight of the F-117 gets discussed.

51 F-117s remain in the inventory.


The USAF is working on a plan to fix the maintenance capability of the F-22's stealth tech.

The F-22 has some stunning images from its flights in Chicago.

Upgrades needed to the facilities in Germany so F-22s can be deployed there for long term have been cancelled as part of the funds transferred for Trump's stupid border wall.

The F-22 will not reach the readiness rates ordered by ex SecDef Mattis.

The F-22s from Tyndall are now active and integrated in Alaska.


F-35s struggle with readiness rates.  Parts availability and the oldest aircraft are the biggest issues.

Female pilots are involved with the F-35 program.

The F-35A finally gets chaff countermeasures next year.

USAF F-35As deployed to an austere Middle Eastern base.

The USAF plans on deploying F-35As to South Korean next year.

The USAF F-35A demo team is moving to Hill AFB for the 2020 season.

F-35As along with F-15Es bombed an ISIS stronghold.

Check out these Luke AFB F-35s in 'Beast Mode.'  Something once called a fiction by F-35 haters.

An F-35 was able to detect a missile launch and could be used in an early warning fashion.

The USMC has been invited to operate its F-35Bs off of the Japanese mini carriers.

A F-35B has fired the first AIM-9X in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Vermont ANG got two F-35s this week.

The British has had problems with ALIS.

Watch an F-35B land on the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The British will send the HMS Queen Elizabeth to Canada and US with 7 F-35Bs aboard.

The British HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier intended to carry F-35Bs set sail for the first time.

The first Dutch F-35 assembled in Italy has made its maiden flight.

Has the Israeli campaign against Iranian backed militias spread to Iraq?  (they use F-35s for these attacks)

Israel has received two more F-35Is.

Japan has formally selected the F-35B for its V/STOL aircraft.  42 aircraft will be ordered.

Japan hopes by ordering more F-35s it will get more contract work for the aircraft.

Poland has been approved to buy 32 F-35s.

South Korea is about to get 4 more F-35As.

Taiwan has revealed it has been told it can only buy the F-35 after 2030.

There is a path for Turkey to return to the F-35 program.

BAe has won contracts to upgrade the EW suite of the F-35.

BAe thinks it can reduce costs on F-35 support by applying Typhoon lessons.

Lockheed won a $32M contract to retrofit USAF F-35As.

Lockheed also won a $2.4B contract for spare parts for the F-35.

Lockheed spelled out how Poland will benefit industrially if they buy F-35s.

Lockheed got a $266M contract for F-35 tooling.

Lockheed is preparing to improve the F-35s targeting capabilities.

Raytheon demonstrated JPALS to the F-35 partners.


Who is more impressive?  The F-22 or Su-57 demo teams?

Check out these stunning pix from NYC of F-22s, F-35s and more.

Friday, September 20, 2019

WFIRST Passes its Preliminary Design Review

The telescope for a major NASA astrophysics mission has passed a key review that the agency says keeps it on track for launch in the mid-2020s despite uncertainty about its funding for 2020 and beyond.

NASA announced Aug. 28 that the telescope assembly for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission passed its preliminary design review (PDR), allowing the project to continue work to finalize its design.

WFIRST, scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s, is NASA’s next flagship astrophysics mission after the James Webb Space Telescope. The mission will use a 2.4-meter mirror provided to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office. That mirror is currently being modified by L3 Harris Technologies for use on WFIRST.

The telescope will later be equipped with both a wide-field imager instrument and a coronagraph, which blocks light from stars to allow direct imaging of planets and dust disks orbiting them. Both will have their own preliminary design reviews, along with one for the entire mission.

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.