Monday, December 30, 2019

A Chinese Court has Sentenced Dr He Jiankui to 3 years in Prison for Genetically Engineering Babies with CRISPR

A Chinese court sentenced the scientist who created the world’s first “gene-edited” babies to three years in prison on Monday, according to the official Xinhua media.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Russia has Declared its Hypersonic Avangard Nuclear Weapon Operational

Russian state news media and credible western news outlets such as the BBC World News are reporting that Russia has operationally deployed its new, “highly maneuverable”, ICBM-launched Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle to an active military base somewhere in the Ural Mountains of western Russia.

The reports are significant since the Russian claims of maneuverability for the Avangard HGV may make interception of the missile system impossible with known anti-missile defense systems and countermeasures.

The Avangard is boosted into flight using an ICBM launch platform such as Russia’s SS-19 Stiletto (also known as the UR-100UTTkh). The Avangard HGV separates from its ICBM boost platform after reaching an apogee or maximum altitude of approximately 100 km. After separation from the launch ICBM platform the unpowered Avangard reenters the atmosphere at hypersonic speed. This flight profile is no different than existing ICBM deployed hypersonic weapons used by the U.S. and other nations. What is claimed to set the Avangard apart from existing reentry vehicles is its maneuverability. Russia claims the Avangard is as fast as an ICBM warhead on reentry but also as maneuverable as a low-speed cruise missile. It is this claim of maneuverability at hypersonic speeds that is alleged to make Avangard “impossible” to intercept by known anti-missile defense systems.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Stealth Saga #56

6th Generation Fighters:

Leonardo has developed new radar tech for the Tempest.

Airbus wants to absorb the British Tempest project into FCAS.

The US Navy is still mulling over the 6th gen planes.  It is unsure if the next gen fighter will actually fly from its carrier decks.

The USAF NGAD received almost $1B.

The Navy's FA-XX/Next Gen Fighter had its funding slashed.

The Japanese unveiled its latest version of the Next Generation Fighter.  It is far, far bigger than the F-22.


(again) the KF-X will get the Meteor missile.


Turkey says Britain has agreed to accelerate the TFX program.


The Chinese are developing a 5th gen fighter for the new carrier decks, probably derived from the FC-31/J-31.


Is this missile intended for the side bay of the Su-57?

An Su-57 has flown 16 times with the new engine.  Testing continues.

The Su-57 supposedly was redeployed to Syria for testing.

An Su-57 crashed.  It was the first serial production aircraft.  This is a serious blow to the Russian efforts.

A report claims the Algerians are buying 14 Su-57s.  Or not.


The contract for the B-21 has been structured to allow for buying more B-21s, faster, should the need arise without renegotiating.

An Australian think tank proposed buying B-21 bombers from the US.  There is little chance of that.


video of an F-117 at the Reagan library makes for interesting observations.

An F-117 has been spotted acting as a stealthy aggressor against F-15s and F-22s at Nellis AFB.


The saga of the first stealth cruise missile.


Congress may have just cancelled the conventionally armed stealthy LRSO cruise missile.


Lockheed got a $7B contract for F-22 sustainment.


Congress has blocked the creation of an F-35A aggressor squadron.

Congress approved the buy of 62 F-35As, 16 F-35Bs and

JSOW integration was days away.

F-35 deliveries were halted for quality control issues.

F-35s can call for artillery fire to suppress air defenses if necessary.

The 588th FW's F-35s are headed back to the Middle East for another combat deployment.

Outgoing F-35A demo pilot "Dojo" gets interviewed.

Hill AFB is getting its last F-35As.

The F-35B sporting USS America reaches Japan.

Congress has told the USN to get the USS Kennedy, the newest carrier, ready for the F-35C immediately.

Lockheed has been given contract to deliver 15 F-35As to Australia.

Australia has approved procuring 24 more F-35.

British F-35Bs have launched from the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Denmark wants more F-35s.

Lockheed is pressing for 75 F-35Is to be sold to Israel.

Lockheed is working on an Israel F-35I specific upgrade.

South Korea has declared IOC for its F-35As.

Lockheed has been given the first contracts for long lead items for the full rate production of the F-35A and for special tooling for the F-35.

Pratt & Whitney just got a $500M contract mod for the F135 engine for the F-35 and another, smaller $50-odd million contract for the engine as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

In the Falcon Strike Exercise in 2015, a PLAAF J-11 Clubbed Thai Gripens like Baby Seals

A talk was given at China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University on Dec. 9. The speaker was reported to be Li Zhonghua who is said to have participated in Exercise Falcon Strike 2015 in Thailand. One of the slides showed the score during each day of the exercise and during the first day, the Thais flying the Gripen were beaten 16-0.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pondering the Precambrian #42



Changes to the carbon cycle and environment  were detected from the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary in China.

Using boron to detect the salinity of the paleooceans gives some interesting twists.

Evolution of multiple basins from the Neoproterozoic are described.

Is there a biochemical signal dividing metazoan clades into two?

Did animal-like embryos predate actual metazoans (animals).

How NOT to become a metazoan.

A Cryogenian interglacial deposit has been found in China.

When did the Sturtian glaciation begin during the Cryogenian in South China?


Where was South China in the Nuna/Columbia and Rodinia supercontinents during the Mesoproterozoic?

The Stenian Copper Harbor and Nonesuch Formations have a marine origin.


Evidence of explosive basalt volcanism found from the paleoproterozoic.

In French Guiana, a gold rich Rhyacian Period formation has been found.  It contains sedimentary layers within the volcanic ones.  Are they fossiliferous?

After the Lomagundi-Jatuli Event, the carbon-sulfur cycle seemed to return to strong activity in the aftermath in the Rhyacian/Orosirian Periods.


It appears during the GOE, the ocean basins remained anoxic.

Earth's magnetic field may have been in place during the Archean.

Evidence of subduction from the Late Archean comes from Australia.

The Kaapvaal Craton may be a remnant of the Pilbara Craton that split off in the MesoArchean.

Extraterrestrial impacts might have triggered bursts in plate tectonics.

Ancient microbes played an important role in warming the early Earth.


The impact history of Earth should NOT be correlated to other planets in the solar system.

Origin of Life:

There is a hyperacidic, hypersaline geothermal system in Dallol, Ethiopia that is lifeless and that has implications for the origin of life.

DNA is only one of several possible genetic information molecules.

Lifelike chemistry has been created in the lab.

Ribose and other sugars have been found in meteorites.

Some of the earliest animal fossils are possibly chemical 'gardens' that produce pseudofossils.

Friday, December 20, 2019

India Aims for First Human Spaceflight in December 2021 With Gaganyaan Capsule.

The Human Space Mission: Gaganyaan is targeted for December 2021. The Gaganyaan Programme has been approved by the Government of India. The design and configuration of major subsystem are finalized. The procurement and system/ subsystem realisation for tests and flight has commenced.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Russian Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov Caught Fire Again

One person was killed and about a dozen injured when Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov caught fire at a Murmansk shipyard renovating the warship, international media outlets have reported.

A source told the Russian government-owned TASS news agency that one body was found at the site of the fire, 12 people were being treated for injuries, and two more people remained unaccounted for. Those that were being treated for injuries were mostly suffering from inhaling toxic fumes from the fire, including burning diesel fuel.

The fire may have started due to violations of safety protocol while workers conducted welding on the ship, TASS reported. Russian government-owned outlet Sputnik cited the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Alexei Rakhmanov, as saying the fire broke out during welding work near the first energy compartment, when a spark fell into a hold space where fuel was handled.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Terminator Times #66

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

The USAF lost a drone over Libya just after Italy did.  Is there a new jamming/hacking system in play?

The USAF AFRL tested a low cost ISR drone flying it for 2.5 days.

The rival Shadow replacement drones for the US Army are being sent to combat units for tests.

A grenade launcher armed tricopter will be used in an upcoming US Army exercise.

The US Navy's Ohio class SSGNs were intended to be drone command posts.

The US Navy will prototype the MQ-8C with weapons.

The MQ-8C is getting a new radar from Northrop.

A US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk suffered major damage at takeoff in the Middle East.

In support of the Australian Loyal Wingman program, Boeing has started flying surrogates

Australia is considering buying the MQ-9B.

A Chinese Soar Dragon UAV shadowed and monitored USN ships recently.

Pictures of a sigint version of the GJ-2 drone seems to have emerged from China.

A whole bunch of Chinese drones were spotted at Malan AB by spysat.

British Watchkeepers are being deployed to Cyprus.

Iran is heavily dependent on UAVs for its air power.

Israel asked the US to withhold drones from the military aid to Lebanon.

Italy lost a MQ-9A Reaper in Libya.

The Japanese Coast Guard will phase out its Chinese made drones starting in 2020.

Kazakstan will start producing Elbit UAVs in 2020. 

Morocco's recently approved Apache helicopter buy will have manned/unmanned teaming.

The first NATO RQ-4D Global Hawk has been delivered.  This is the first of 5.  It has been sent to Italy.

Russians are wargaming with drones.

Serbia has bought the CH-92A UAV from China.

Turkey's UAVs in Libya are suffering from a high attrition rate.

Turkey is getting quadcopter drones with automatic weapons.

Turkish drones escorting drill ships will fly from Turkish Cyprus.

Yemeni Houthis shot down a Wing Loong drone.

AeroVironment is trying to play catchup with new Switchblade suicide drones.

Bell has flown its APT-70 cargo drone with actual cargo.

Elbit has launched its Magni quad copter.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos, Ogres and Terminators, oh my!):

The US Army has developed a universal kit for offroad self driving vehicles.

The US Army is looking for unmanned medevac vehicles.

More on the FLIR win of the CRS-H robot contract with the US Army.

The USMC wants to use autonomous robotic CRABS to clear obstacles for amphibious assaults.

Qatari Barzan Holdings showed off its multimission UGV in Japan.

Russia is testing UGVs to kill UGVs.

Critical Solutions International showed off its amphibious UGVs.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Ro-boats):

DARPA has unveiled its NOMARS USV project.

The US Navy is wargaming how to use the LUSV in the future.

The Acting US SecNavy has put forward that unmanned vessels will count to the 355 ship navy vessel count.

Congress wants to slow the US Navy's purchase of USVs becaue it thinks the Navy doesn't know what it wants.

Thales UK has demonstrated an offboard EW package on a USV during a NATO trial.

3d Printing:

The USMC is deploying 3d printers to allow for replacement parts to be made onsite instead of ordering them.

The Australian Navy is also testing deployable 3d printing tech.

Software Bots:

The SecArmy sees a huge role for AI in its long range kill chain.

A report to Congress on AI and national security.

AI command and control must leave room for people.

The US military needs better data to use AI.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Boeing to Launch CST-100 Starliner to ISS on Dec 20, 2019

NASA gave its approval Dec. 12 to proceed with the launch later this month of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew spacecraft on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station.

At the end of a Flight Readiness Review at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA officials approved plans to launch the Starliner on its Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 at 6:36 a.m. Eastern Dec. 20. A launch on that day would result in the spacecraft docking with the ISS a little more than a day later, remaining there for nearly a week before landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in the predawn hours of Dec. 28.

“I’m happy to announce we’re go for launch,” NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard said in a media teleconference shortly after the review concluded.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Does China Have a 2nd Hypersonic Weapon Under Development?

The DF-17, China's hypersonic missile that was first revealed at the National Day military parade on October 1, might not be the only hypersonic aircraft program China possesses, a report by the state broadcaster suggested.

Analysts stressed that China will not fall behind in related technologies compared with the US and Russia.

"From the test subjects that were made available to the public, the Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2) might use a different flight pattern to the DF-17," said military expert Ma Jun on Military Time, a China Central Television (CCTV) program on military affairs, on Saturday, without further elaboration.

According to Ma, the Xingkong-2 is still in the trial phase and more tests are expected.

The Xingkong-2 Ma referred to is the first Chinese waverider hypersonic vehicle unveiled by the country, dating a year earlier than the DF-17.

Designed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Xingkong-2 was successfully tested at a target range in Northwest China in August 2018, the academy announced then.

When the DF-17 missile made its debut at the National Day parade this year, some thought it might be the final product of the Xingkong-2 project.

One distinctive difference between the Xingkong-2 and the DF-17 is that the former has a fairing and the latter does not, making the two very different in appearance alone, analysts pointed out.

They noted that the time does not match either, as the Xingkong-2 was only tested in 2018 and is not likely to enter Chinese military service as early as 2019.

The CCTV program introduced two genres of hypersonic aircraft: one is a glide-boost, meaning the aircraft is propelled into the sky via a rocket and glides in the air using shock waves generated by its own hypersonic flight, while the other is air-breathing, meaning the aircraft uses a scramjet engine to provide thrust.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Robopocalypse Report #122


Some background on the ballistically launched drone.

The AB5 quadjet drone will be very expensive.

Using drones to make art in the Atacama Desert.

A fuel cell powered drone crossed 43 miles between US Virgin Islands.

Bell has test flown its APT-70 cargo drone with real cargo.

Self Driving Cars:

Who actually regulates self driving cars?

Using software bots to tell when to intervene with your driving.

Alfa Romeo is adding semi self driving tech.

MIT wants to train self driving cars to classify the personalities of the human drivers around them.

The fatal crash by an Uber self driving car was caused mostly my human error: use of a cell phone instead of paying attention and Uber not checking to see if its safety drivers were actually paying attention.

3d Printing:

A new micro 3d printing technique won a prestigious New Zealand science award.

3d printing large structures with Loctite materials.

A new 3d printer has multiple material nozzles.

3d printing with glass is now possible.

Lockheed manufactured Orion space capsule for NASA has over 200 3d printed parts.

Overcoming the problems facing printing large scale parts for aircraft.


Adidas is shifting its production from the US to Asia despite using robots in both locales.

Boeing has rescoped how it uses robots in aircraft construction after problems with the RUAB system.

Boston Dynamics' priorities are Spot, Handle and then, in the future, Atlas.

Boston Dynamics' Spot is being tested by the Massachusetts state police.

University of Bristol has created a soft robot that cane be put in your pocket.

Domodedovo airport will start testing cleaning robots.

Google's dream of an everyday robot remains out of reach.

NYC has warned Fedex not to invade their sidewalks with delivery robots.

Someone has developed a robot to entertain cats while you are away.  I cannot help but feel this will end badly.

Researchers are trying to better understand how soft muscle actuators work.

Softbank Robotics is releasing its robot janitor in the US.

Tokyo Metropolitan University developed a ladder climbing robot.

How to design robots with flexing, stretchy pieces.

Why robots should learn to build Ikea furniture.

A new haptic skin provides a sense of touch.

Robotic surgery is safe for overweight patients with kidney disease.


Ctrl-Labs CEO is claiming we will have neural interfaces in 5 years.  Press X to doubt.

A blind man can see his birthday cake candles again after a brain implant and artificial eye.


Amazon is looking to open full supermarkets without cashiers next year.

Software bots may run the chemical factories of the future.

Should workers have a say in automation?

Software bots have greatly improved microscopes.

Software Bots:

China is using software bots to incarcerate people.  Precrime anyone?

Bill Gates is against borders being invoked to prevent AI researchers from collaborating.

The US Patent and Trademark Office wants to know who owns the inventions created by AI.

Senator Schumer wants a big push on AI in the US.

NYC has created an AI ethics officer.

The dangers of black box AI.

Researchers want to put limits on AI to protect against bias.

Ancestry is using a software bot to sift through millions of obituaries.

Google made a bot to compare voices.  Their test case was Freddy Mercury.

Google has created a software bot to designed to help with exploring fashion through color.

Why is Google slow walking its AI advances?

Microsoft has deployed a new type of AI processor into their cloud.

Better ways of understanding neural nets are underway.

A new bot can predict epilepsy seizures at almost 100% accuracy.

Software bots are more successful in interacting with people when they imitate people.

Software bots can adapt to avoid censorship.

A software bot can predict life expectancy for heart failure survivors.

A new software bot has been developed to help with plant breeding in the face of climate change.

How software bots could revolutionize psychiatry.  

Software bots are being used to study how to remediate nuclear waste.

Software bots could speed up and improve weather simulations.

A new software bot can design new tuberculosis drug regimens.

A new framework has been developed for software bots to limit bias and improve fairness.

The first census of bots on wikipedia has been completed.

A software bot lawyer can be used to untangle understanding user agreements.

Software bots writing fiction is now a thing.

Using software bots to determine if immunotherapy is working.

Software bots can now beat people in hidden goal games online.

Software bots can learn quantum mechanics.

Software bots could transform how we monitor the health of civil infrastructure.

How software bots are changing marketing research.

A software bot has been written to determine authorship and its test case is Shakespeare.

Software bots have been made for traumatic brain injury.

Software bots are been developed to screen for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Software bots have been designed to study how humans interact in groups and make group decisions.

Software bots have been designed to help with gene therapy.

Software bots are watching us and judging us.

Someone wrote a software bot to try to predict and out trade the market.


Either people are responsible for AI's actions or we will end up with Skynet?

Should modern "AI" have the same rights as animals?

The robopocalypse may threaten highly paid white collared jobs the most.

Friday, December 06, 2019

ESA is in a Race Against Time to Fix ExoMars' Parachutes

Getting a probe safely to the surface of Mars is not easy: Numerous landing attempts have crashed. Sufficiently slowing a lander in the thin air requires plenty of sophisticated kit, including designer heat shields, powerful retrorockets, and, sometimes, giant airbags. But the European-Russian ExoMars mission is struggling with a bit of technology that hails from the 18th century: parachutes. High-altitude tests earlier this year revealed that ExoMars's chutes were tearing as they were pulled from their bags. The European Space Agency has turned to NASA colleagues for help, and this week, a joint team begins tests to see whether redesigned bags and chutes now work, and if not, why. It could be their last chance to fix the problem and preserve a launch scheduled for July 2020—or face another 2 years of delay.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

US New START Nuclear Inspectors Have Examined the Imminently IOCed Avangard Hypersonic Nuclear Weapon

Russia says that a U.S. team has had a chance to inspect one of its new silo-launched Avangard hypersonic missiles under the terms of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. This comes as there are mounting questions about the future of that bilateral agreement, which could sunset in 2021 unless American and Russian officials agree to an extension.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the inspection had occurred in a statement on Nov. 26, 2019. American personnel had first arrived for the visit two days earlier. Previous reports said that Russia had placed the first two operational examples of Avangard in silos sometime earlier in the month and that the weapon system would reach its initial operational capability in December.