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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tensions ramp up near Yemen as Iran sends warships

Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, state media reported, establishing a military presence off the coast of Yemen where Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement.

The Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel sailed from Bandar Abbas on a mission to protect Iranian shipping from piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in comments cited by Press TV.

Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies have imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen as part of a two-week campaign to oust the Houthis, who have taken most of the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.

Iran has condemned the campaign and called for dialogue. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing military support to the Houthis, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

The Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, and the Red Sea, Sayyari said. The area is one of the world's most important shipping routes and a gateway between Europe and the Middle East

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Man killed one injured trying to ram NSA gate at Ft Meade .

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The warnings are strong and security is always tight, but most drivers are versed in the daily routine as thousands of employees and contractors stream through the closely guarded entrance to the National Security Agency.

The ordinary start to the work week came to a violent halt Monday, though, when two men dressed as women and driving in a stolen, dark-colored SUV ignored officers' orders at the gate to the spy agency headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland. Police fired on the SUV, which then rammed into a police vehicle. One suspect was killed. The second suspect was injured, as well as a police officer.

Whether the pair wanted to breach the perimeter or the driver was desperate and confused in a security-sensitive area only added to the mystery of the officer-involved shooting.

The FBI's Baltimore field office said it was investigating the "shooting incident."

"The shooting scene is contained and we do not believe it is related to terrorism," spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said in a statement.

The bureau declined to comment on the conditions of the second suspect and officer, except to say they were being treated at a local hospital.

Authorities say the cross-dressing men stole the SUV Monday morning from a hotel in Jessup, Maryland, and ended up about seven miles away at the NSA gate at Fort Meade, a sprawling Army post.

"The driver failed to obey an NSA Police officer's routine instructions for safely exiting the secure campus," Jonathan Freed, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement. The vehicle failed to stop, then "accelerated toward an NSA Police vehicle blocking the road. NSA Police fired at the vehicle when it refused to stop. The unauthorized vehicle crashed into the NSA Police vehicle."

Images from the scene showed emergency workers loading a uniformed police officer into an ambulance. Nearby were the dark-colored SUV and a white SUV emblazoned with "NSA Police," both heavily damaged.

"The incident has been contained and is under investigation," Army Col. Brian Foley, the Fort Meade garrison commander, said in a statement. "The residents, service members and civilian employees on the installation are safe. We continue to remain vigilant at all of our access control points."

The men were dressed as women, said a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing case.

Investigators have not determined how the man driving the stolen car died.

The SUV was stolen Monday morning, said Mary Phelan, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department. She declined to name the hotel, citing the ongoing investigation, or release any further details, referring all questions to the FBI.

The FBI is investigating and working with the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland to determine if federal charges are warranted, Thoreson said.

It's not the first time someone has disobeyed orders at an NSA gate. In July, a man failed to obey an NSA officer's command to stop as he approached a checkpoint. The man drove away, injuring an NSA officer and nearly striking a barricade. He was later arrested and is awaiting trial on federal charges.

Earlier this month, police captured a man accused of firing at a building on the NSA campus. The man, who was also accused of shooting at vehicles, told police he heard voices.

Fort Meade is home to the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. About 11,000 military personnel and about 29,000 civilian employees work on the property.

 The NSA's presence is visible, with large satellite dishes and glass and steel buildings rising from the tree line. Chain-link fences marked with restricted access signs and topped with barbed wire run along the perimeter of the campus. Posted signs inform drivers of various exits for the NSA and Fort Meade, including one for deliveries, another for a visitors' center and one designated for employees.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sikorsky assembling second S-97 Raider

SOURCE: Sikorsky has begun final assembly of its second S-97 Raider prototype compound helicopter. Sikorsky is campaigning the S-97 in the Pentagon's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program as part of the Defense Department's Future Vertical Lift initiative to develop future helicopter technologies. Sikorsky is funding 75 percent of S-97 costs with the remainder being contributed by supplier partners including Aurora Flight Sciences, builder of the aircraft's fuselage. The 220-knot S-97 features a coaxial main rotor system and an aft thruster and is based on Sikorsky's experimental X2 design. The S-97 is designed to replace current armed reconnaissance rotorcraft. The first S-97 is currently undergoing powered ground testing in expectation of a first flight later this year. The second prototype will be used for customer demonstration flights.

Ground testing on the first prototype began in February at Sikorsky's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sikorsky rolled that aircraft out in October and has successfully completed software qualification testing, component fatigue testing, and gearbox testing. Ground testing includes verifying the propulsion system, drive train, rotor control system, and pilot-vehicle interface with the aircraft tied down.

Sikorsky is developing other technologies that could eventually find their way onto the Raider. They include the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) for the Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Sikorsky recently announced it had received an $8 million DARPAcontract for Phase 1 of the program designed to develop and insert new automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced crew. Sikorsky plans to leverage its Matrix Technology to test and field systems and software that significantly improve the capability, reliability, and safety for autonomous, optionally piloted VTOL aircraft by adding systems intelligence to rotary and fixed wing aircraft to enable them to complete complex missions with “minimal human oversight.”

Sikorsky is partnering with the United Technologies Research Center, the National Robotics Engineering Center, and Veloxiti, Inc. to demonstrate the value of applying autonomous technology to a variety of different aircraft including the UH-60 Black Hawk.

Sikorsky fitted an S-76 with fly-by-wire controls and Matrix in 2013 to create the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft (SARA) flying test lab used for rapid testing of software and hardware. Working with the U.S. Army in 2014, Sikorsky used a UH-60 modified for autonomous flight as part of the Manned Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) programa

Friday, February 13, 2015

ISIS fails in suicide attack on US air base in Iraq

stock photo 

WASHINGTON — Several Islamic State fighters who led a suicide attack on an air base where US and coalition forces are training Iraqi forces were killed by Iraqi troops, the Pentagon said Friday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said an estimated 20 to 25 Islamic State militants were involved in the attack on al-Asad air base in Anbar province. He said the attack was led by “at least several” suicide bombers, some of whom managed to detonate their bombs before they were killed by Iraqi troops.

No Iraqi or US troops were killed or wounded, Kirby said.

Kirby also said Islamic State fighters had taken control of al-Baghdadi, a town near the al-Asad air base. He said this represented “the first (time) in at least a couple of months, if not more, where they have had any success in taking any new ground.”

Kirby said it was not clear whether the attackers at al-Asad managed to penetrate the perimeter of the base, which is a sprawling series of compounds. “Information is still coming in,” he said, which may clarify some details.

There are about 400 US troops at the base, but Kirby said none of the Americans was involved in the fighting. Another Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steven Warren, said the US troops were about two miles away, in a different section of the base.

US unmanned surveillance aircraft and Army Apache attack helicopters were sent to the scene from Baghdad, but the attack was over before they arrived, so they did not engage in fighting, Warren said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Forbes reeling after target hack by Chinese ...

(Reuters) - The financial news site was infected by Chinese hackers with spying software that targeted specific visitors, including those at U.S. financial services and defense firms, according to two cybersecurity firms.

The hackers infected in November with software that automatically attacked visitors by exploiting security flaws in Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser and Adobe Systems Inc's Flash software, cybersecurity firms iSight Partners Inc and Invincea Inc said on Tuesday.

The firms said they only had a limited view into the attacks based on customer data and other intelligence.

They said they only identified a few organizations in the defense and financial services sectors that were targeted and declined to identify them. They also said they did not know if the hackers had succeeding in stealing any data, though they believed other visitors to were affected. is the most popular website known to be compromised as part of an espionage campaign, according to iSight researcher John Hultquist. Previous cyberattacks on popular websites have involved malware used by criminals, not spies, he said.

Espionage campaigns typically target smaller websites catering to targeted communities using a technique known as a "watering hole" attack, Hultquist said. For example, hackers looking to spy on aerospace firms have been known to infect sites of associations and news blogs that focus on the industry. spokeswoman Laura Daunis said in a statement on Tuesday that the company on Dec. 1 identified an "incident" that occurred on Nov. 28.

"A file had been modified on a system related to the Forbes website," she said. "Forbes took immediate actions to remediate the incident. The investigation has found no indication of additional or ongoing compromise." She declined to elaborate.

ISight said it believed a Chinese group known as Codoso, or Sunshop, was responsible for attacking Forbes, based on evidence including use of common infrastructure with previous attacks.

The firm said it believes the group was responsible for similar recent attacks on a think tank site,, as well as and, which focus on issues of interest to China's Uighur and Turkic minorities.

Codoso is responsible for attacks dating back to 2010 on the energy and financial services sectors, government agencies, dissidents and think tanks, according to iSight.

Microsoft released an update on Tuesday to fix the bug in Internet Explorer. Adobe released a Flash update in December to fix that vulnerability., which said it had about 33 million unique visitors in September, is majority owned by Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments.


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