July 31, 2012

FOBS - Space Based Nuclear Weapons


Russian R-36 Missile (at right) used to boost the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) into Space

Ever wondered why the US and Russia have developed space based weapons systems but never maintained them? Perhaps because these systems could be developed in secret and deployed as a "silver bullet" for a first strike in a nuclear war.

The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) is old technology which could be easily updated. FOBS was a Soviet ICBM program in the 1960s that after launch would go into a low Earth orbit and the nuclear missle(s) would then hurtle back to Earth de-orbit for an attack.

In the early 1960s, the Soviets needed a way to overcome the forward base advantage held by the west. The west had forward bases in Turkey, Europe, and Asia from which shorter range missiles and bombers could attack the USSR. Following the failure of placing missiles to Cuba, the Soviets turned to technology to overcome the lack of forward positioning.

It had no range limit and the orbital flight path would not reveal the target location.

This would allow a path to North America over the South Pole, hitting targets from the south, which is the opposite direction from which

NORAD early warning systems are oriented.
By circumventing the existing US ballistic missile early warning radars FOBS [Globalsecurity reference] missiles could hit Strategic Air Command (SAC) airfields and missile silos before the bombers could take off or missiles launched. FOBS could have also conceivably destroyed ABM radars, disrupt US retaliatory capability, destroy command posts, the White House, and the command and control network. But, due to its limited accuracy and payload, FOBS was deemed ineffective against hardened targets.

Outer Space Treaty banned nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction in earth orbit. However, it did not ban systems that were capable of placing weapons in orbit, and the Soviet Union avoided violating the treaty by conducting tests of its FOBS system without live warheads.

The Soviets developed three missiles to employ FOBS, with only one entering service:

- The orbital missile 8K69 was initially deployed in 1968, and the first regiment with the

R-36 orbital missiles was put on alert in 1969.
- The
Global Rocket 1, or GR-1, was cancelled due to engine problems.
- The
R-46 was not developed, and eventually scrapped.
The U.S. Defense Support Program early warning satellites enabled the US to detect a FOBS launch.

SALT II agreement (1979) prohibited the deployment of FOBS systems:Each Party undertakes not to develop, test, or deploy. However thats what they claim. Who knows what they've built or can build quickly.

I wonder what China has in mind?!

July 28, 2012

2008 test of Pakistan's Raad Hatf-8 missile

Raad Hatf-8 in flight - see Wikipedia

And on parade. Does anyone have any verifiable photos of a different shape? Some theories are that it looks more like an American style cruise missile than a shorter range standoff weapon.
As reported on ABC Online, August 25, 2007 Pakistan tested its Raad (Hatf-8) missile in August 2007.

Publicity about the latest test is largely misleading - usually making it appear that the Raad is a brand new missile and that Thursday May 8, 2008's test was the first test. The publicity is both a genuine way of boosting Pakistani national pride and seems more immediately a reaction to India's test launch Wednesday, May 7, 2008 of its Agni III IRBM.

Defensetalk.com of May 8, 2008 has a useful report on Pakistan's May 8, 2008 Raad test:

"ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday successfully tested a ground-hugging cruise missile capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads, the military said.The Hatf-VIII (Ra'ad) missile, developed exclusively for launch from the air, has a range of 350 kilometres (217 miles), a statement said.

"It has enabled Pakistan to achieve a greater strategic stand-off capability on land and at sea," it said.
It is a low-altitude, terrain-following missile with high manoeuvrability, and can deliver all types of warheads, with great accuracy," it said.

The firing comes just a day after neighbouring India tested a ballistic, nuclear-capable missile capable of hitting targets deep inside China.

President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani congratulated the Pakistani scientists and engineers on their "outstanding" success.

"The missile test is part of a continuing process of validating the design parameters of the weapon system," the statement said.

Last month Pakistan military carried out a training launch of Shaheen II, or Hatf VI, a long-range nuclear-capable missile which can hit targets far into India.

...South Asian rivals India and Pakistan -- which have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir -- routinely carry out missile tests since both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability in 1998."


India routinely criticises Pakistan for not building wholly original weapons. I'm semi-confident in saying that France, the US and Russia rely on almost totally homegrown aerospace technology while other countries use varying degrees of foreign content (especially engines).

Both India and Pakistan have developed highly advanced technology, most notably ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. As these weapons are potent symbols of national pride both are very reluctant to indicate any foreign content or assistance. Another issue is that those countries that have provided components or assistance (intentionally or unintentionally) don't want this widely known.

Missile tests as a demonstration of national power (by anyone US, Russia, Pakistan and India) are an interesting, expensive and inherently dangerous pastime.

Further Comment

The Raad, Hatf-8 appears in some ways to be a scaled down Russian KSR-2 / KS-11 / KSR-II AS-5 (Nato name is "KELT") . Here's a sketch of the Kelt. The Kelt went into service in Russia in the mid 1960's

July 27, 2012

Some picture prose - Nighthawks Cafe

Nighthawks was painted in 1942 by American artist Edward Hopper (1882 to 1967). It was intended to reflect the somber uncertainty in America that followed the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in late 1941.
The following is a departure from this website's concentration on international pressures of the present and future. This is a look at a famous work of art of the past, but through a bit of poetic licence it is linked with present events:

Nighthawks Café
Four people exist at the Nighthawks Cafe, in lower Manhattan. It is dark and quiet. No movement outside.

Yellow light gleams strong in Nighthawks though too weak to blaze through the glass to give the surrounding street life. No pictures on the walls, only canary yellow paint.

A Cafe for people who drift or pass. One staring down at his cup. Two occasionally chatting. The three men wear formal day hats even though it is midnight.

The busy 1940s soda slinger wears white like an icecream man. All in white at that time of night. The shiny coffee urns also strangely spell icecream but are hot. A brown swing door is the soda slinger’s way out to a back room then freedom – but on the whole he’s resigned, almost content.

The Cafe has heard many things, knows the secrets of thousands of late night desperate people who’ve hunched there for years. Tired people after long days. Few words spoken. Often just the sound of coffee being poured and sipped.

Nighthawks will exist for many years, be renovated, jazzed up. It will enjoy high times, the wealthy, the sad who exist.

Then in 1966 crushed by a steel ball it will make way for a World Trade Centre.

by Peter Coates
June 22, 2008

July 21, 2012

RATTLRS Supersonic Cruise Concept - a BrahMos Beater?

Artist's mockup of the jet powered supersonic missile concept dubbed Revolutionary Approach To Time Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS)
My post Hypersonic Missile Research and Doctrine of October 26, 2008 touched on the major heating problems of hypersonic missile flight above Mach 4. This may not be solved for 20 years.

There is also a propulsion problem - in the thick atmosphere there is currently a tradeoff between speed and range. The premier supersonic missile, the Indian-Russian BrahMos, may be able to travel up to Mach 2.8 but its range is probably less than 300km due to its heavy powerplant. This is a solid-propellant rocket for initial acceleration and a liquid-fueled ramjet for sustained flight.

In recognition of hypersonic heat and range problems the US-UK RATTLRS project has adopted an evolutionary approach - high supersonic speed (between Mach 3 and 4) using a single jet engine - rather than hypersonic speed with a two-stage rocket/ramjet (or scramjet) combination.
Simplicity is in the single stage and travelling within the bounds of the heat tolerance of airframe materials.
Wiki provides the following:

"The Lockheed Martin RATTLRS (Revolutionary Approach To Time Critical Long Range Strike) is an advanced cruise missile concept demonstration funded by the US Navy with the view to develop technologies that would then be used to develop a successor to the BGM-109 Tomahawk.

Lockheed’s Skunk Works is prime contractor, while Rolls Royce Liberty Worksis designing the YJ102R high-Mach turbine engine. The missile's airframe is similar in size and shape to the engine nacelle of the SR-71
Popular Mechanics says about the RATTLRS YJ102R turbine engine (probably a mockup above) it "might be the most powerful turbojet on the planet—at least by weight. It’s barely bigger than two breadboxes."

Janes provides details of the requirement and thinking behind super-hyper sonic missile systems.

"The US has been examining a range of very high-speed strike weapon concepts for a number of years. These weapons, both sea- and air-launched, have been drawn up for use against mobile and/or time-critical targets, along with hardened and buried targets. In all cases the weapons rely on the kinetic effects of a ramjet powerplant to attain the velocities needed to be effective against such target sets.

The supporters of these 'leap ahead' weapons point to their combination of range, speed and payload as a much needed way to provide the increased lethality required to defeat hardened targets (HARTs) in a non-nuclear package. The optimum penetration effect of a weapon in this class would be between 30 and 55 m.

In 1998 the US Navy drew up the concept for what, by 2001, had become known as the Joint Supersonic Cruise Missile (JSSCM) and Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (ACTD). To make the case for this weapon, CINC CFC Pacific prepared a brief that highlighted the effectiveness of a very accurate long-range, high-speed missile against mobile weapons deployed by North Korea, such as its 240 mm multiple-launch rocket systems. The same weapon would also be effective against special weapons facilities, command and control centres and air bases.

The promise held out for the JSSCM was to develop a system that could deny, degrade or destroy North Korea's strategic and operational centres of gravity within 15 minutes of the decision to launch."

Project Status

On September 28, 2007 Lockheed-Martin announced RATTLRS has completed "proof pressure testing" [what is that?]. Lockheed added: "This testing is a significant milestone as we enter into final integration and system checkouts prior to flight demonstrations planned for early 2008,"

Rolls-Royce announced on January 12, 2009 that it had successfully completed an initial test of its advanced, high-specific thrust YJ102R engine at the Indianapolis, Indiana facility. This test is the first of a series to be performed by LibertyWorks (Rolls-Royce North American Technologies Inc) , the company's research unit, and is designed to validate critical performance criteria under its High Speed Turbine Engine Demonstration (HiSTED) contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

If the US Navy is still pressing ahead with RATTLRS it would be mindful that when some US Trident submarines are fitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles meaning a cost in terms of much slower speed (time to target) compared to ballistic missiles. RATTLERS might partially make up for the shortfall. Still supersonic or hypersonic missiles suffer from, to date insoluble problems, including heat buildup, air resistence and short range for their size UNLESS:

- they have a hybrid (say turbofan and rocke) end which would mean varying velocities (though a high speed end run, say for 50 km, would be desirable) 

- and/or they are in thin (high altitude) or no air (space).

RATTLRS might also provide the new USS Virginia Class attack submarines with more potent cruise missiles, though RATTLRS might turn out to be only 20% faster than Tomahawk ie barely supersonic/supercruise.

For Australia possession of a missile with RATTLRS capabilities would be useful in the Future Submarines (Project SEA 1000) now envisaged to be operation after 2025. Air launched RATTLRS might also make up for some deficiencies in the F-35's ability to penetrate strong air defences (assuming Australia cannot buy the superior F-22 not even to face PAK FAs or Chinese made stealth jets).

July 16, 2012

New US Paper on China's NSA (aka PLA GSD Third Department)

MAP - Global Security gives directions to the HQ of China's NSA (the PLA ("3rd Department")) "...covertly located. Situated on the road between the Summer Palace and Xiangshan [Fragrant Hills], it is far from downtown and there is no plate or signboard at the gate."
The Washington thinktank knowns as the Project 2049 Institute (hotlinked here), drawing on the experience of US  Defense intelligence alumni and declassified information, has produced a detailed paper on China's Defence Sigint and Infosec Service. The paper's full title is The Chinese People's Liberation Army Signals Intelligence and Cyber Reconnaissance Infrastructure, of November 11, 2011 by Mark A. Stokes, Jenny Lin and L.C. Russell Hsiao. Its full string: http://project2049.net/documents/pla_third_department_sigint_cyber_stokes_lin_hsiao.pdf .

Here are some excerpts (some I've bolded) on each page reflecting some of the more interesting details:
p.2 "This overview offers a preliminary examination of the PLA [General Staff Department] GSD Third Department, China‘s premier cryptologic service. The CCP owes its success during the Chinese Civil War to signals intelligence (SIGINT) derived from interception and decoding of telegrams and radio communications. With modest origins in the 1930s, the Third Department was previously known as the Central Military Commission (CMC) Second Bureau and consisted of three entities responsible for collection, translation, and deciphering/encryption.

Today, the GSD Third Department and its counterparts within the PLA‘s Military Regions (MRs), Air Force, Navy, and Second Artillery oversee a vast infrastructure for monitoring communications traffic from collection sites inside China, possibly from embassies and other facilities abroad, and perhaps from space-based assets in the future. Its network of assets are able — assuming sufficient interest and barring sophisticated encryption — to monitor almost any radio communication or phone call within line of sight of Third Department SIGINT...
p. 3 "...On the other hand, faced with increasing challenges to its communication systems and computer networks, the Third Department also has assumed the responsibility for assuring the security of PLA computer systems in order to prevent foreign adversaries from gaining access to sensitive national security information. These functions are encompassed under the concept of technical reconnaissance which is the foundation of ―informatized warfare.

Like its American counterpart, the National Security Agency (NSA), the GSD Third Department appears to be diversifying its traditional SIGINT mission. Cyber surveillance, or computer network exploitation (CNE) in the U.S. lexicon, represents the cutting edge of SIGINT and the Third Department may serve as the national executive agent for CNE. The GSD Third Department stands as a reasonable choice to act as the national PRC authority over cyber surveillance because of its traditional core competency in SIGINT, its high performance computing and encryption/decryption technical capabilities, and status as China‘s largest employer of well trained linguists. Computer network operations (CNO) in China often are referred to as network attack and defense, based on the premise that without understanding how to attack, one will not know how to defend. In the U.S. lexicon, CNO includes computer network attack (CNA), CNE, and computer network defense (CND)."
p.4 "...the GSD Third Department manages a vast communications intercept infrastructure and cyber surveillance system targeting foreign diplomatic communications, military activity, economic entities, public education institutions, and individuals of interest....One unconfirmed report credits the Third Department with as many as 130,000 personnel working in general headquarters staff positions, 12 operational bureaus, and three research institutes.

Major General Meng Xuezheng is reported to be serving as the Third Department Director. Meng appears to have replaced Lieutenant General Wu Guohua [Director 2005 - December 2010]...One Western report claims that Wu Guohua was transferred out due to unauthorized cyber operations..

p.5 "...According to one U.S. study, Chinese analysts believe that the United States is already carrying out extensive CNE activities against Chinese servers. Therefore, from the Chinese perspective, defending computer networks must be the highest priority in peacetime. ..."

p.7 "...In addition to a liaison office in Shanghai, the Third Department manages a Hong Kong and Macao Liaison Bureau"

p.8 "The Second Bureau appears to function as the Third Department‘s premier entity targeting the United States and Canada, most likely focusing on political, economic, and military-related intelligence."

p.9 [possibly covering Taiwan and South Asia is the Sixth Bureau] headquartered in Wuhan‘s Wuchang District.

p.15 [Paper's] Conclusion

"If information is power, then the GSD Third Department represents one of the most powerful bureaucracies in China today. Among its sources of strength is the country‘s largest pool of well trained linguists specialized in niche areas, such as banking and financial transactions, military activities, energy, and diplomatic exchanges.

The combination of SIGINT and CNE, for example, fusing transcripts of phone conversations with intercepted email exchanges, would enable a powerful understanding of plans, capabilities, and activities of an organization or individual in near real time. Key word and voice recognition technology and large data bases permit greater efficiency in collection directed against specific targets. Advanced computing facilitates breaking of all but the most sophisticated encryption and passwords. The linkage between CNO and PLA psychological warfare training units appears reasonable. Monitoring of communications, email accounts, websites, and internal networks could support sophisticated perception management operations."

p.16 "Beyond its traditional SIGINT mission, the Third Department serves as the national authority for CND and most likely CNE. "

p.17 "...If monitoring of the cybersphere and intrusion of foreign computer networks is an extension of SIGINT, then one could assume the Third Department prefers to operate surreptitiously. Alerting defenders of vulnerabilities within communications and computer networks seems to contradict a basic cryptologic principle. Third Department resources dedicated toward high performance computing – the best in China – and its large arsenal of competent linguists could constitute China‘s cryptologic A-Team.

One possibility is that a capable yet overt B Team operates independently at the MR or Military District level. However, given its oversight of the cybersphere in China, alongside domestic law enforcement, Third Department authorities, at a minimum, are likely aware of CNE activities directed against foreign targets from Chinese soil. Regardless, if the B Team in China has been the main source of cyber surveillance, one should wonder what a GSD Third Department A Team could achieve when operating in a clandestine fashion.

As a final note, the linkage between psychological warfare and CNO indicates a broader perspective than that adopted in the United States. Rather than a narrow technical concern over hostile computer network attacks, Chinese authorities may also seek to counter the introduction of ideas and concepts deemed harmful to the CCP‘s monopoly on state power. A priority of CNE operations may be identification of friends and foes in Washington [and in Australia?] through social network analysis.

Unsubstantiated rumors regarding the transfer of Third Department Director Wu Guohua for his inability to control CNE operations are interesting. If true, it appears that senior civilian leaders could have some understanding of the political damage caused by overt, hostile network penetration. The PRC government has legitimate information security concerns. However, aggressive and overt cyber surveillance directed against foreign targets does little to engender sympathy. The inability of the GSD Third Department to control intrusive cyber activities directed against foreign entities may indicate a profound weakness in the governance of China‘s sprawling cyber-infrastructure."


July 13, 2012

Anzac Day Songs and Photos 2012

Australia and New Zealand commemorate ANZAC Day on the 25th of April each year to honour the memory of troops of the combined Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in World War One. It also remembers Aussies and Kiwis who fought, were wounded and often died in World War Two, Korea, Vietnam and now Afghanistan.

From New Zealand is Hayley Westernra and separately a piper in Afghanistan (below).

From Australia is Fred Smith, Redgum and great singer-songwriter Eric Bogle.

Anzacs (or 'diggers') at Gallipoli in a rare quiet moment.

New Zealand Army CPL. Robert Skerten, part of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), Afghanistan playing his bagpipes (35 seconds into the Video) and then doing a bit of electrical work at Forward Operating Base Bamyan.

 The hymn Abide With Me is traditionally sung at ANZAC Day services. The singer is Hayley Westernra from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Iconic Vietnam War photo by Michael Coleridge. Diggers of 5 Platoon, B Company, 7RAR, waiting for Iroquois helicopters to land and take them back to Nui Dat at the end of Operation Ulmarra.

 I Was Only 19 (by that far leftwing and undervalued Australian group Redgum) is in memory of Australians who fought, died and were injured in Vietnam (early 1960s to 1972).

This great song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle is about the life of a digger wounded at Gallipoli.

I think Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France or No Man’s Land (above) is the best anti-war song ever written. As a haunting poem, march, song of love and injustice it is a fitting anthem to remember the men and women, living and dead, who are our Anzacs.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

(In Flanders Fields by John McCrae).
For many more songs of remembrance this is the "Rembrance Day Songs 2009" post on this blog.

July 12, 2012

US difference(?) with India over Iran oil imports.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna not seeing eye-to-eye in a press conference in New Delhi, May 8, 2012.
Occasionally stilted English.xinhuanet.com, May 10, 2012 with probable Schadenfreude  reports slight(?) tension between the US and India over cutting oil imports from Iran.

"Hillary Clinton's India visit focuses on Iran"
BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Hillary Clinton's 3-day India visit is centered on pressuring India to cut further its oil imports from Iran. An overlapping visit from the Iranian trade delegation forced the country to walk a fine line while keeping its own interests in mind.

When Hillary waved to India as she touched down the nation, she was all smiles as she greeted and praised the nation. But top on her mind was a serious agenda to pressure India to cut its oil imports from Iran. US have been asking India to cut its oil imports from Iran. India gets 9 per cent of its oil from Iran and despite pressure from US, India has decided to stand firm.
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary State, said, "We also look at Indian as a partner in the broad international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The best way to achieve this diplomatic solution that we all seek is for the international community to stay united and keep the pressure that has brought Iran back to the negotiating table on Iran until we reach a peaceful diplomatic resolution."
But India has immense energy needs and keeping world economic condition in mind, India has said it will do what suits its own economy. Shweta Bajaj, New Delhi, said, "In all of Hillary Clinton's meetings in India from the Indian prime minister to Indian minister of external affairs, the topic revolved around Iran. But India said that United States needs to look at Iran and India's relationship, away from its crude oil and energy needs."

S.M. Krishna, Indian External Affairs Minister, said, "Iran remains an important source of oil for us although its share in our imports are declining and that is well known, ultimately it reflects the decision that refineries make based on financial, commercials and technical considerations."

Foreign affairs experts also believe that India should continue to do what’s best in its own interests.
Aijaz Ilmi, foreign affairs expert, said, "Our energy needs and requirement of fuel is ever increasing so wherever we can get fuel from at the right rates, India should look at its own interest"...

(Source: CNTV.cn)"

July 9, 2012

Litvinenko Mystery Darker Than James Bond

Originally publishes in early December 2006.

Litvinenko BEFORE his Polonium-210 poisoning.

The death of Alexander Litvinenko on November 23, 2006 has become a major issue in Britain due to the cause of death. Initial suspicions were that he was poisoned with Thallium; confirmation that it was radioactive Polonium-210 came later - did suggestions by British intelligence that it was former (or current)  Russian agents that killed him.

Litvinenko succeeded in gaining political asylum in Britain in 2000. He formerly worked on organised crime matters for the Russian Security Service (FSB) 
and before that in the KGB. He specialised in crime groups rather than the traditional Russian intelligence areas of obtaining foreign secrets and crushing domestic opposition.

The UK government has quickly discounted the possibility that the government of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia since 2000, ordered Litvinenko’s death and more diplomatically speculated that “rogue elements” in Russian intelligence may have done the deed.

It may be a coincidence but other figures dealing in information critical of Putin have since also come to grief. On November 28, 2006, Yegor Gaidar, a Russian economist and a former acting Prime Minister of Russia, collapsed in Ireland where he had been presenting a book critical of Putin’s economic policies. Two days later Gaidar's Irish doctors said he was poisoned, however Gaidar was quickly flown to Moscow thus removing the possibility of an independent assessment of his illness. Seperately on December 2, 2006 doctors reported that Mario Scaramella a colleague of Litvinenko also had received large dose of Polonium-210 (smaller than that present in Litvinenko but potentially deadly).

Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive isotope, so much so that minute amounts were used as power sources on satellites and Russian moon rovers. It is produced in deadly quantities in nuclear reactors by a small number of scientific institutes in Russia and several other countries. Safe transportation of Polonium-210 requires expert handling. This appears to point to the involvement of a well connected, well funded, supply chain for the substance, be that a state body or organised crime.

Russian intelligence apparently used Thallium poisoning to conceal radiation decades ago. On April 7, 2005, long before the Litvinenko affair emerged a former Russian intelligence officer Boris Volodarsky is on record as stating:

“I'm reminded of the 1955 attempt on Nikolay Khokhlov, a defector from the KGB. He drank a cup of coffee at a public reception in Germany in 1957 and fell ill. In his blood the doctors found traces of thallium, a metallic substance commonly used as rat poison. But the appropriate treatment had little effect and it was not until weeks later when Khokhlov was close to death that imaginative doctors at a U.S. Army hospital in Frankfurt found the hitherto undreamed-of answer. The thallium had been subjected to atomic radiation so that the metal would slowly disintegrate in the system, giving symptoms as common as gastritis as a patient slowly died of radiation poisoning. By that time, the thallium would have disintegrated and left no trace even for an autopsy.”

Its too early to speculate about Gaidar but Alexander Litvinenko appears to have been killed by Russians because he was considered a traitor and may have been about to release secrets especially damaging to Putin and the FSB.

Russian intelligence may have wanted to make an example of Litvinenko, punishing him as a traitor in the pay of the oligarchs, in the most excruciating and public way possible. In the 1990s Russian businessmen acquiring state assets, particularly oil, were popularly branded as “oligarchs” but with particular venom by a group known as the “siloviki”. The siloviki are a brotherhood of former and present members of Russian intelligence (most commonly from the KGB and the FSB) and military services. An indication of its probable power is that a former member of the KGB and onetime Director of the FSB is Putin himself. Another powerful siloviki is Nikolai Patrushev, Director of the FSB, who also served in the KGB with Putin. The siloviki support significant state intervention in economic, social and personal matters. They are often see as the force behind recent controls on democracy occurring under Putin, including some curtailing of freedom of the press.

Litvinenko’s close business and political ties with
Boris Berezovsky a leading oligarch, who fled to London, would have further angered the siloviki.

Litvinenko has variously been suspected of holding powerful dossier on:

- the FSB’s failure to protect (or even kill) recently murdered human rights campaigner and journalist Anna Politkovskaya;
- further information on FSB crimes generally; and,
- the Kremlin’s demolition of the Yukos oil company.

In response to this avalanche of bad press Russian sources appear to be doing their utmost to obfuscate the issue and discredit Litvinenko’s memory. One Russian report implied Berezovsky himself wanted to kill to Litvinenko.

More convincing information, with a nasty photo, is based on Moscow sourced information and statements from a Russian student currently in London. It originally appeared in the UK’s Observer of December 3, 2006 and makes the assessment “Litvinenko's access to such documents could have made him an enemy of both big business interests and the Kremlin. However, his claims are almost impossible to verify and some political analysts have gone as far as to dismiss him as a fantasist.”

The investigation of Litvinenko death is being pushed energetically by the British government. As of December 4, 2006 officers from Scotland Yard (and probably from British intelligence) have flown to Moscow to interview the three identified Russians (Andrei Lugovoi (former KGB), Dmitri Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko) who met Litvinenko in London on November 1, 2006 as well as two other Russians, not yet identified. It is unlikely, however, that British investigators will make much headway in Putin’s Russia. More explicit information may come from other Russian defectors, but, as such information is unofficial it carries less weight.

A report that the British Home Secretary will refer the matter to the European Commission sadly sounds like investigations may be converted into committee work to avoid maintaining pressure on Russian suspects.

Litvinenko died bravely after fighting a dangerous game against a Russia still dominated by genuinely dark institutions. He had no institution of his own to protect him. The press may turn to information packaged by the Russians concerning his foibles and occasional miscalculations, but his criticisms of Putin and overly powerful Russian intelligence services should not be drowned

Natasha and Pete

July 8, 2012

India's Phalcon AEW&C/AWACS on the IL-76

India's Phalcon AEW&C and AWACS on the Russian built IL-76 transport platform.

First posted Sunday, May 17, 2009

The IAI EL/M-2075 Phalcon is an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) radar system developed by Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel. Its main objective is to provide intelligence to maintain air superiority and conduct surveillance including a means to track incoming missiles and look deep into neighbouring countries without violating their air space.

Phalcon provides 360 degree coverage. This allows it to track high maneuvering targets and low flying objects from hundreds of kilometers away, under all weather conditions, in both day and night.

Sale to India

- In March 2004, Israel and India signed a US$1.1 billion deal - according to which IAI would deliver the Indian Air Force three Phalcon AEW&C radar systems.
- India signed a separate deal with Russia's Ilyushin Corporation to supply the three Il-76 A-50s airframes for an additional US $500 million.
- In November 2007, Indian defense officials said that there were significant delays in the supply of the Il-76 airframes postponing the induction of the radar to 2009-10.
- In June 2008, media reports suggested that India and Israel were about to sign a deal for three additional Phalcon radars (carried by Il-76s].
- India is due to get its first Il-76 mounted AWACS system on May 18th 2009 with another two to follow sometime in 2010. It will probably be based in Agra. India does need the two other AWACS which, if things go as planned, will be flying in Indian airspace by 2011.
- all three Phalcons will be networked to a dedicated Military Satellite due to be deployed by mid 2010. The new satellite is intended to relay the pictures to the IAF's Integrated Air Command and Control System and then uplink to the Phalcons and other platforms for further survillance, cordination and attack if need be.

Phalcon has already been fitted to aircraft for three countries:
- Israel 3 using Gulfstream G550 Eitam as its platform
- Chile with the 707, and
- India wit 3 on Ilyushin Il-76 almost ready, perhaps 3 more on order

Singapore has 4 Gulfstream G550 on order.

System - The Phalcon uses the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) an active phased array radar. This radar consists of an array transmit/receive (T/R) modules that allows a beam to be electronically shifted, hence making mechanical rotation (seen in rotadomes) unnecessary. AESA radars have very short to instantaneous scanning rates, which makes them difficult to detect (ie "stealthy"). Because they are redirected electronically AESAs can come in many shapes (mounted on the an aircraft's fuselage (in the belly, nose, tail or sides) or on the top inside a small fixed dome) rather than being restricted to a circular rotational mount. Phalcon has a target acquisition capability close to 250km.

Note that the NATO E-3 AWACs and Russian Mainstay have rotating radomes for their pulse doppler radars. In the case of India's Phalcon Il-76 it has a three faced fixed AESA array, hence the radome itself doesn't rotate. The radome is retained for its aerodynamic design.

Information has come fon one network use by India "[the IL-76 mounted Phalcon] is primarily destined in a super-tactical/ operational role. This is because (and I wonder why most people forget this), the Su-30 [see Su-30 Avionics reference] itself plays the role of a mini-AWACS.

The grid, therefore, is something like this. Imagine a concentric circle. At the center of the circle, you have the IL-76 AWACS, at the periphery, you have not more than 3 SU-30s in an AWACS role. These SU-30's provide the tactical early warning, which is relayed to the IL-76, which then combines the data with its long-range sensors and pushes the data out to the air-defence squadron."

Platforms - Phalcon can probably be fitted to most mid to large passenger style jets, including the Boeing range, Il-76, Gulfstream G550, presumably the Airbus range and Nimrods etc. Under a contract signed with Chile in 1989, the first Phalcon system to be installed was fitted to a former LanChile Boeing 707, and was first flown in 1993. In May 1994 the aircraft was delivered to the Chilean Air Force, where it is known as the Condor.

Operational history - The Israeli Air Force has purchased 3 Gulfstream G550 aircraft to serve as the new IDF platform for the Phalcon system. The system is called Eitam. Extensive modifications made to the Gulfstream's fuselage, such as the addition of protruding composite radomes, are intended to allow for the housing of the radar arrays. In 2007, 4 similar G550-Phalcon aircraft were also purchased by the Republic of Singapore Air Force, to eventually replace its ageing E-2C Hawkeyes. All 4 G550s are expected to be in-service by 2010.

China's purchase of the Phalcon system (to be fitted to Il-76s) in 2000 was blocked at a late stage due to pressure from the United States on Israel not to complete delivery to China. The US would have argued that many of Phalcon's component technologies were originally of US origin and could not be cleared for export to China.

While China did not receive Phalcon Chinese technicians would have already thoroughly examined the Phalcon system during the evaluation and partial purchase phases. China would therefore know a great deal about Phalcon technology and network operations. Perhaps this examination assisted China to rapidly develop the KongJing-2000 Airborne Warning & Control System instead. This also uses the Il-76 as its platform.
India's strategy of shopping around between the Western and Russian blocs has clearly payed dividends - in the aviation area - though less so in the naval arena (Gorshkov, Akulas etc).




Phased array radars can come in many shapes because they are redirected electronically rather than driven around a standard field (like a pulse doppler radar)mechanically.

Note that the NATO E-3 AWACs and Russian Mainstay have rotating radomes for their pulse dopplers.

In the case of Phalcon Il-76 and China's KongJing-2000 the phased array radars are steerable within the radome (a convenient aerodynamic shape) but the radome itself doesn't rotate.

On Boeing 737 instead of the proven Gulfstream G550?

I'd say the weight of the MESA radar-electonics suite for Wedgetail aka Boeing 737 AEW&C http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW%26C was too great for the G550 to lift. The Boeing 737 AEW&C is almost 3 times heavier.

Also more work stations in the 737 would be needed to get maximum benefit out of the radar.

Also Boeing wants to stay in military "airliner" busines, post 707 so would have put heavy pressure on the US Government, Australia and the radar builder (Northrop Grumman) to campaign for a 737 solution.

I'll put your orbital coverage diagram on the RISAT-2 post.

I meant the Phalcon Gulfstream 550 solution would be cheaper than the B-737 Wedgetail. As you point out, the American solution is aimed at selling the airliner, and is therefore, much more expensive. The Phalcon solution appears to be cheaper and is a proven package. The Wedgetail B-737 solution hasn't been deployed yet from what I can tell, so it's unproven. I must be an abberation. I believe in the best solution, not necessarily the solution that makes a company the most money which may be the American definition of what a "best" solution is.

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Yes the Wedgetail 737 AEW&C project may bring one of the four 737 on order up to a 90% capability ceiling in 2010 and the minimum 3 units (to form a working network by) 2012. Still only 90% of projected capability.

90% capability may well equate to what Phalcon can do.

So if we'd ordered Phalcon we may well have had four Phalcon 737's becoming operational this year.

Meanwhile Australia appears to be about to order 50 to 100 untested F-35s. Australia's ANZUS Treaty relations with the US often makes us an early, guinea pig customer, extending credit to US arms giants many years ahead of postponed delivery. Taxpayers money is constantly offered easily and too early.

"Tried and tested" and "off the shelf" is rarely in the vocabulary of our air force officers, defence aquisitions people or politicians bedazzled by Washington.

The one good acquisition lately has been Australia's purchase of 24 Super Hornets. Twelve of which may come out as EW "Growlers" (F/A-18G) something India should also consider in any airstrikes on Pakistan.

Well then...India's Phalcon is set to arrive next week...details at this link:


Apparently will be based in Agra., Has a range of 800kms with a target acquisition capability close to 250. India does need the two other AWACS which, if things go as planned, will be flying in Indian airspace by 2011.

July 7, 2012

Many paid "experts" minimise Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

On where not to build reactors or at least accurately gauge risk this is interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Ring_of_Fire  .

Fukushima No. 1 reactor plant is built on the coast of northern Japan partly so it can utilise seawater to keep it cool (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor_coolant ) and partly for safety. Most of the water, with no radioactive increase or contact is circulated and discharged back into sea. Some water however, circulates through to the reactor becoming radioactive.

This water as expanding steam is a major issue. Expanding steam mixed with hydrogen gas (which ignited) apparently blew the top off the containment building.

Another more serious threat is that one or more of the 6 reactor cores (consisting of red hot fissioning fuel rods) at Fukushima 1 will overheat/melt down - which may have occurred in 3 reactors. Larger meltdowns could cause explosions that could project highly radioactive fragments or dust over a wide area - in a disaster equivalent to a dirty bomb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_bomb . Fortunately "dirty bombs" are non-nuclear (non-fission or non-fusion) explosions. There is no large-scale heat or blast effects but a severe problem is widely spread radioactive material.

The bias of many Australian experts, many of whom act as consultants for the nuclear industry, is obvious. Like many Japanese politicians and power company executives they are presenting a limited and optimistic gloss on an ongoing disaster.

Its even more extreme amongst "experts" and perhaps journalists paid by the British nuclear industry see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/14/fukushiima_analysis/  headed "Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!

Analysis Japan's nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently ..."

It is interesting to look at the results of the Three Mile Island disaster, which appears to be a lesser meltdown event than Fukushima.

Three Mile Island (TMI) had profound effects on the US nuclear industry for decades. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident#Effect_on_nuclear_power_industry
"The Three Mile Island accident is one of the factors cited for the decline of new reactor construction...51 American nuclear reactors were cancelled from 1980–1984."

The clear and present danger to the Japanese public (some already irradiated) over more than a 30 kilometre radius speaks louder than pro-industry experts.

The Japanese Government will no doubt be organising a multi-year committee of industry experts to talk away responsibility and dumb down public fears. Its notable that many national Japanese politicians, including the PM are often in power for less than 12 months - so they'll be long gone when the committee issues recommendations. As with the Canberra Fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Canberra_bushfires#Official_responses committees remove responsibility.

But the inherent danger of building reactors in Japan will not be addressed until a full megadeath reactor meltdown occurs on the scale of radiation from a nuclear explosion.

Map courtesy of ABC News Online, World Nuclear Association and The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan. Location of multiple reactor plants damaged by the earthquake and tsunami including the disaster at Fukushima No. 1 plant.

This blog is just doing brief summaries about the rapidly changing Fukushima nuclear disaster - detailed updates round the clock are best read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents   .
The Australian, March 14, 2011 has produced a clear explanation about the problems of cooling reactors and cause of physical events if a major meltdown occurred:

"...Nuclear reactors produce heat in two ways: one is simple fission, where atoms are split to produce heat that generates electricity plus the neutrons that keep the nuclear chain reaction going. This process can be shut down in an instant by pushing control rods into the fuel.

However, there are far less controllable processes at work in all reactors.

According to Robin Grimes, director of the Nuclear Energy Centre at Imperial College London, "when you split an atom you get heat and radiation, but you also get two new atoms which then undergo further radioactive decay. That decay produces about 10 per cent of a reactor's heat output, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. It generates an incredible amount of energy and it takes days to die down."

So, even when a reactor has been technically shut down it is essential that cooling continue. If it does not, the heat will build up and melt the reactor core. At Fukushima that meant engineers had to keep pumping water through the core or face disaster. Initially all appears to have worked as intended. Three of the plant's six reactors were in operation when the quake hit and they automatically shut down. But then their normal cooling system stopped, too.

The plant operators started to remove the heat caused by nuclear decay with emergency diesel generators. But these failed about an hour later, perhaps because of flooding. When the hydrogen-filled steam was vented from the reactor vessel, the hydrogen reacted with oxygen, either in the air or water outside the vessel, and exploded. A similar "hydrogen bubble" concerned officials at the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in Pennsylvania until it dissipated.

If the temperature inside the Fukushima reactor vessel continued to rise it could eat through the bottom of the reactor vessel. Next, it would eat through the floor of the already-damaged containment building. At that point, the uranium and dangerous by-products would start escaping into the environment.

At some point in the process, the 15cm stainless steel walls of the reactor vessel would melt into a lava-like pile, slump into any remaining water on the floor, and potentially cause an explosion much bigger than the one caused by the hydrogen. Such an explosion would enhance the spread of radioactive contaminants. If the reactor core became exposed to the external environment, officials would likely begin pouring cement and sand over the entire facility, as was done at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine, Peter Bradford, a former commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in a briefing for reporters.

Ken Bergeron, a physicist and nuclear waste expert, added that as a result of such a meltdown the surrounding land would be off-limits for a considerable period of time, and "a lot of first responders would die".

As the authorities battle to avert a meltdown at the Fukushima plant, it emerged that a senior figure in Japan's nuclear community had resigned in protest from a safety panel saying guidelines to protect atomic power plants from earthquake damage were too lax.

Ishibashi Katsuhiko, a professor at Kobe University, said seismic guidelines brought in to protect Japan's 55 reactors in 2006 were "still seriously flawed".

He pointed out that big quakes had taken place in "close proximity" to three nuclear power plants in Japan from 2005 to 2007. In each case, the ground motion caused by the quake was stronger than that for which the plants had been designed. A tremor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, less than 320km across the main island from Fukushima, had experienced a tremor with ground motion of 993 gal (a measure of ground movement), far beyond its design value of 450 gal. "Not only are the new design guidelines defective but the system to enforce them is in a shambles," wrote Katsuhiko after his resignation. He said it was just a matter of luck that the epicentre of each earthquake had not been nearer.

...In Australia. the federal government and the opposition have both refused to buy into a debate on nuclear energy following Fukushima.

However, ALP president and Queensland premier Anna Bligh, who called for a debate on domestic nuclear power in December said the explosion was "cause for some pause and consideration before we see anybody jumping to invest in that sort of energy, particularly here in Australia".

The Australian Greens say Fukushima is another pointed reminder for Australia not to go down the nuclear route.

Greens leader Bob Brown used the incident as an argument against nuclear, which he labelled a delicate and unsafe technology.

"It's the potential for terrorism, you can't have it in flight paths, it needs to be built next to big areas of population . . . it takes up a lot of water, it's enormously expensive," he told Sky News.

"We have much better alternatives, thank God. WHOLE ARTICLE"
Building reactors in a highly active seismic/earthquake areas like Japan is intrinsically dangerous, hence longterm plans to build reactors in Indonesia in an equally active zone are dangerous. Very low earthquake areas like Australia are much safer places to build reactors, oil refineries or any other types of large factories.

Japan's heritage of nuclear bombing both of Hiroshima and Nagasaki make Japanese people highly sensitive to nuclear safety - yet Japanese companies have built more than 50 reactors in their earthquake prone country.

July 6, 2012

Some advantages over Satellites of the X-37 and Stealthy UAVs .

The X-37 may be better suited than satellites at surprise inspections of an opponent's activities including submarine movements. 

A similar role but at a lower altitude could be undertaken by UAVs that are stealthy and relatively fast moving such as the RQ-170 Sentinel.

The X-37 and stealthy UAVs have several advantages over satellites:

- they can be launched to observe specific opponent activities more frequently and at lower cost than satellites.

- mission hardware and software can be changed for specific tasks each time they land.
- they can alter their orbital and flight course, altitude and speed to optimise intelligence gathering from opponents' submarines (snorkels, periscopes and subtle wakes) ships, satellites, mobile and fixed land targets and weapons tests,

- for data security reasons X-37s and UAVs would encrypt data and specifically direct the data streams to friendly earth stations. Its unknown the extent this would foil interception of the data and detection and destruction of the X-37s/UAVs themselves by beam following missiles,

- rather than X-37s and UAVs transmitting all data to US ground stations (which may threaten data security and give away position) they can retain the most sensitive data in hard disks and then transfer data after landing)

- to minimise detectability and improve data security the X-37 and UAVs could relay data to and from US satellites.

While countries wishing to conduct ground operations or weapons tests can time these activities to evade scrutiny from predictably orbiting US GSO and LEO sattellites the X-37 can create surprise by altering its orbit. When this orbiting flexibility is combined with the X-37's orbital speed of 17,500 mph (28,200 km/h) the X-37 can catch its opponent's activities and tests that hitherto could be hidden.

Stealthy, fast moving and ultimately expendable UAVs can also be launched from (say) Afghanistan to conduct surpise inspections of weapons tests in Iran, Pakistan as well as China and Russia.

The X-37 and stealthy UAVs have therefore revolutionized intelligence gathering.

July 4, 2012

Likely Israeli "Spy" killed in Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb 2011 Earthquake.

1st Published July 20, 2011


[photo off the web from Israel's YNet news) of Ofer Mizrahi .

Ofer's van after the quake (via YNet news)
My comments are in [ ] brackets and at end. msnbc.com (Asia Pacific) June 20, 2011 reports:

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — One of the victims of the February [2011] earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand may have been an Israeli spy [intelligence officer who had the job of collecting NZ passports for later use by Mossad, Shin-Bet or Israeli military intelligence] according to a report in The Southland Times.

The man, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, 24, was carrying five passports with him at the time of his death, according to the Times. The newspaper's reports centered around a possible breach of New Zealand's national police computers. The Times said police and the nation's New Zealand SIS. were investigating

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, who was in Los Angeles Tuesday, declined to comment on the report other than to say "there had been no misuse of the police computer system or New Zealand passports by Israeli citizens," The Southland Times reported.

Mizrahi was one of three Israelis who died in the Feb. 22, 2011. earthquake, according to the Israeli media outlet Haaretz. Around 120 Israelis were living in the area around Christchurch at the time of the 6.3 magnitude quake, which destroyed most of the central business district in the southern city of Christchurch.

Misrahi and three other people were in a van that was crushed by a falling pillar. Misrahi was killed, but the others were able to extricate themselves, the The Southland Times said.

Mizrahi's three companions, one man and two women, photographed the crushed van and rendezvoused at a city square that Israeli officials had designated an "emergency meeting point," then were able to travel back to Israel within 12 hours, The Southland Times said.

[further proof that the passport gathering activity was an extensive and expensive Israeli operation comes from this: ] New Zealand authorities later confronted an "unaccredited Israeli search and rescue squad" and [armed New Zealand guards removed the Israeli "squad"] from the sealed-off area in the city, the Times said. This squad was one of two private search parties brought from Israel to New Zealand, without prior coordination with local authorities in New Zealand, [Israel's] Haaretz reported.

Israel's ambassador to the South Pacific region, Shemi Tzur [putting on a bold face] said the spy reports were "science fiction," The Southland Times said. New Zealand police say they are confident their computer system is secure.,

Israel obtains and uses "real" passports from popular, neutral countries, like New Zealand, for Israel's worldwide intelligence operations.

Invaluable Wikipedia reports that Israeli agents visiting NZ were earlier caught red-handed in 2004 attempting to acquire NZ passports:

"In July 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over an incident in which two Australian based Israelis, Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara , who were allegedly working for Mossad, attempted to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports by claiming the identity of a severely disabled man. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom later apologized to New Zealand for their actions.
New Zealand cancelled several other passports believed to have been obtained by Israeli agents. Both Kelman and Cara served half of their six-month sentences and, upon release, were deported to Israel see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossad#New_Zealand .

Hatikva" or "Hope"  not because he's Israeli but because he's dead.
Shiri Maimon is also very cute, and that jerk is on his cell phone right through.