Thursday, July 17, 2014
In a post on his VKontakte page, Russia's largest social media site, separatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, wrote: "In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26. It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured."
The AN-26 is a Soviet-built twin-engine transport plane used by the Ukrainian military. Torez is a small city of 80,000 located some 40 kilometers east of Donetsk. Included in the post were two videos that showed a rising plume of black smoke in the distance.
The claim was posted at 5:50 pm Moscow time, shortly before reports surfaced that the Malaysian civilian aircraft, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in eastern Ukraine in the same area near the Russian border.
A Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser, Anton Herashchenko, claimed the plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile.
Andrei Purgin, the self-styled first vice premier of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic, told Interfax the separatists do not have weapons that could shoot down a plane flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters.
Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities have denied shooting down the Malaysian passenger aircraft.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 10:05 AM
Posted by Steve Douglass at 9:21 AM
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
(Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with direct flights into the country and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.
European airports would be taking the extra precautions, the U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Department of Homeland Security said "enhanced security measures" would be implemented in the next few days at "certain overseas airports with direct flights into the United States."
It did not specify which airports or what countries would be affected, nor did it say what triggered the extra precautions.
"We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.
Earlier, law enforcement and security officials told Reuters the United States and European authorities were discussing measures that could include extra scrutiny of U.S.-bound passengers' electronics and footwear, and installation of additional bomb-detection machines.
Bombmakers from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are believed to be working together to try to develop explosives that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems, U.S. national security sources said.
The main concern is that militant groups could try to blow up U.S.- or Europe-bound planes by concealing bombs on foreign fighters carrying Western passports who spent time with Islamist rebel factions in the region, the sources said.
AQAP has a track record of plotting such attacks. It was behind a 2009 attempt by a militant with a bomb hidden in his underwear to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.
U.S. officials believe Nusra and AQAP operatives have carried out operational testing of new bomb designs in Syria, where Nusra is one of the main Islamist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a national security source said.
The "stealth" explosives the bombmakers are trying to design include non-metallic bombs, ABC News reported.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 2:42 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs
6/18/2014 - RUSTON, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command and Louisiana Tech University recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement which will allow the two to work together to develop new defensive systems for the bomber fleet based on nanoengineered graphene.
"Graphene is a relatively new form of carbon, first synthesized in 2004. It's a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal pattern--like chicken wire," said Air Force Deputy to the Chief Scientist Lt. Col. Dennis Rand. "Because it's only one atom deep, graphene is essentially a two-dimensional material, and as a result it has unusual properties relating to things like heat conduction, electrical conductivity, and optical density."
Currently, aircraft use little metal strips, called chaff, as a defensive system to help prevent the aircraft from being targeted by anti-air defense systems.
"It is our hope that chaff based on graphene will provide improved defense against IR and RF-based systems," Rand said.
The CRADA covers the first stages of a project to develop this system, and subsequent phases will be covered by amendments to the agreement, Rand said. However, the hope is that this initial agreement between AFGSC and Tech will lead to other research and development projects, said Air Force Global Strike Command Chief Scientist, Dr. Christopher Yeaw.
"The most important milestone we're trying achieve is the first formal linking of La Tech's strong technical expertise with AFGSC's compelling mission to deter would-be aggressors and assure allies and partners," Yeaw said. "This is a natural marriage, and we hope that this first CRADA will prime the pump for wider cooperation, bolstering the local capability to tackle these types of mission challenges."
"Louisiana Tech University has a wide range of cybersecurity and electronics protection research projects and technologies that may be of interest to AFGSC," Dr. Stan Napper, Vice President for Research and Development at Louisiana Tech University, said. "Through the new CRADA, we hope to contribute more significantly to scientific and technical developments that will assist AFGSC in achieving its mission."
Yeaw said the CRADA is a new chapter in the Command's relationship with Louisiana Tech. While the partnership goes back to the establishment of AFGSC in 2009, "This is really the first formalization of that cooperation," he said.
"The importance of this type of partnership cannot be overstated. Both institutions have compelling missions, and they hold common interests not just in research and development of innovative technologies for eventual incorporation into the Command's portfolio of assets, but also in the development of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals, some if whom we hope might consider working for the Air Force after they graduate," Yeaw said. "The development of STEM professionals coming out of La Tech is strengthened by affording students meaningful and potentially impactful research and development projects."
Yeaw said a partnership with Tech will benefit more than just bombers and missiles.
"I'm also thinking of secure and reliable communications, security infrastructure surrounding our core assets, and even energy management at our bases, among other things," he said.
Even if the ultimate goal of producing an operational defensive system is not realized, Rand said the research conducted towards that end will add to the Air Force's overall body of scientific knowledge.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:38 AM