April 27, 2013

Boston Bomber Tsarnaev moved to US military prison hospital

Younger brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19 years old. Seriously injured in a shootout with police. First taken to Boston Hospital - he was then moved to the prison hospital at Fort Devens, Massachusetts around April 26, 2013.
Fort Devens is a reservist United States military installation in the towns of Ayer and Shirley, Massachusetts. Within Fort Devens Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev is being held at the Federal Medical Center, a federal prison for male inmates requiring specialized or long-term physical or mental health care.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 years old. Shot dead by Boston Police.

It might be unkind to say that between the world's largest, most highly funded, security agencies, Russia's Federal Security Bureau (FSB) and the FBI, the Tsarnaev brothers slipped through the cracks from 2011.
This might show how hard identifying and taken proactive measures is - or that big organisations (with too many distractions) might be more likely to make mistakes.

Of the two agencies FSB was probably most on the ball. It could be that the FSB provided the strongest tip-off of the brother's identities to the FBI - once the first photos of the brothers were released.

After the bombing the FBI moved very quickly to utilise the public communications revolution that is Twitter and mobile phone cameras to identify likely bombers. Commercial and police? CCTV footage would have also helped.

Two days after the bombings the inability (or unwillingness?) of the two brothers to hide and their shootouts with police spoke louder than any confessions would have that they were the bombers.
On why did they (Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) do it?

The Tsarnaev brothers (with their family) escaped the fighting in the Russian republic of Chechnya to the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan and then on to the United States in the early 2000s.

Most likely the brothers felt guilty that they were unable to fight or practice jihad (roughly translated as holy war) against the Russians in the ongoing insurgency in their place of birth, the Northern Caucasus which includes Chechnya, and the Russian republic of Dagestan . Both republics are mainly Sunni Muslim. The Russians have and are cracking down on Chechen "terrorists" much more severely than the FBI could in America (where human rights are a high priority).

Tamerlan, during his 6 month (January-July 2012) return to the Northern Caucasus, may have been aware that Russian security were on to him or that he decided to return to the US because life was too hard and risky there compared to congenial Boston.
The two brothers may well have wanted to do something for their vision of Islam against the main WoT "enemy of Islam" (the US) and other Western enemies in the most newsworthy way easily available. The Boston Marathon provided the opportunity - full of US and other Western runners making it temporarily an  international event. So this was jihad in place - highly symbolic but also a practical way to kill and injure many "enemies".


April 19, 2013

China Expanding in the Indian Ocean?

China's 6,500 ton 052C air defence destroyer (NATO code name Luyang II class, often referred to as Lanzhou class after the lead ship name)

East Timor, Indonesia and Australia are all on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Hence the gradual buildup of Chinese naval forces in the Indian Ocean is of strategic significance to those countries.

UPI Asia.com, February 27, 2009 reproduced this article "China's Naval Surveillance Capabilities" by Andrei Chang, Editor-in-Chief, Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, Toronto, Canada. Note that Chang originally used the term "battleship" which, I believe is a poor translation from Chinese. He must mean "warship". I have altered the text accordingly:

"Hong Kong, China — “Anti-piracy operations” have given China’s PLA Navy the best excuse to penetrate the Indian Ocean and station forces there permanently.

As fighting piracy around the Gulf of Aden becomes a long-term mission, the PLA Navy South Sea Fleet is likely to set up a sub-fleet to handle that task – perhaps the “Indian Ocean Sub-fleet of the South Sea Fleet” – and the PLA Navy will become the new owner of the Indian Ocean.

In recent months, Chinese military publications have carried a number of articles stating that “the Indian Ocean does not belong to India.” The intent of these articles is increasingly clear.

While carrying out anti-piracy operations, the PLA Navy’s warships will gain experience in long-distance maritime combat operations in preparation for the establishment of an ocean-going aircraft carrier fleet. The navy may dispatch other warships, such as its 054A FFG, on similar missions in the future.

China has a key military objective in dispatching warships to the Gulf of Aden. The “Chinese Aegis” class DDG it has sent to the region has the most advanced radar detection and C4IRS capabilities, and therefore can conduct effective battlefield monitoring exercises in this region. The Gulf of Aden provides the best geographical environment for the PLA Navy to conduct surveillance on the activities of the U.S. 5th Fleet.

The powerful detection capability of the Chinese Aegis DDG relies on the “Sea Lion” active phased array radar installed on the warships

China received some of the sub-systems and technological advice from the Ukrainian Kvant Design Bureau in developing this radar system. This is the bureau that participated in the research and development of almost all major Soviet surface warship radar systems. This includes the Fregat 2EM 3-D radar, which China imitated from the Russian system, working from a blueprint provided by Kvant.

China redesigned and reconfigured the Sea Lion radar system on its own, however, particularly the electric circuits, according to an authoritative source from the Ukrainian Administration of Arms Import and Export.

The development from passive to active phased array radar means huge technological progress, as the problem of the large radiator covering the antenna must be solved. The Chinese system uses the radiator cover designed by Ukraine; it regularly cools the antennas with a coolant to which a small amount of desiccant is added.

The technical perimeters of the radar system on the Chinese Aegis class DDG have never been officially released. Western observers generally believe that the Russian and Chinese “Aegis” DDGs’ data-processing systems lag far behind that of the U.S. Aegis class DDGs. The chief designer of the Chinese ship has also made similar comments.

The basic measurements of the Chinese Sea Lion radar system give some clues as to its performance features. It is a sea-to-air search radar capable of simultaneously searching for and tracking targets while constantly changing the beam indexes. It can search for more than 100 targets at once and track 50 of them.

Its search range for combat aircraft appears to be around 500-550 kilometers (roughly 300-340 miles). The design requirements for both Russian and Japanese phased array radar systems are such that even if 10 percent of the elements are lost, the radar system can continue to function.

China has built only two 052C DDGs outfitted with this advanced radar system; its purpose is to test the effectiveness of the Sea Lion for future installation on Chinese aircraft carriers.
This radar system on the No. 171 DDG currently deployed in the Gulf of Aden makes it possible for the PLA Navy to monitor most of the airspace above Yemen, Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

Tankers carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia would have to go through this strait. In addition, the 5th Fleet of the United States Pacific Fleet based in Bahrain, the Command Headquarters of the United States Central Military Command located in Qatar, and the activities of the combat aircraft of the Saudi Arabian Air Force could all come under the surveillance of the Chinese Aegis radar system.

Of course, while en route to the Indian Ocean – past the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and through the Strait of Malacca – the Chinese Aegis can conduct surveillance, including the airspace above southern India. The activities of the air forces in the above countries and voice communication signals may also be monitored and intercepted. A number of these countries have territorial disputes with China on land or sea.

Moreover, the No. 171 and No. 169 DDGs are equipped with China’s best electronic intelligence acquisition and countermeasure systems, and their antenna arrays are very similar to the electronic intelligence [interception] and support systems developed by Israel. These systems can effectively detect and acquire the radar signals of the U.S. 5th Fleet and record the data.

Naturally, the equipment can also monitor the radar signals and frequencies of the naval warships of the countries along this route. The No. 171 DDG is equipped with the NRJ6A ESM/ESM system; according to at least one military source, this microelectronic system is imported from Israel.

Any navy ship formation requires the support of a powerful underwater outpost force and reinforced anti-submarine capability to be able to engage in effective three-dimensional warfare.

The best anti-submarine measure is of course using submarines to undertake anti-tracking operations. Consequently, the possibility cannot be excluded that new generation 093 SSN or other diesel-powered submarines may have played the role of underwater outpost during recent anti-piracy actions of the PLA Navy in the Gulf of Aden.

Behind the curtain of the anti-piracy operations is in fact the rivalry of the naval forces of the major powers in establishing their new “national interest frontiers.”"
The article is an unusual combination of generalised political and strategic claims backed by more substantial technical detail.
References to "Chinese aircraft carriers" implies that they are an imminent threat when there appears to be no indigenous Chinese development program, no small carriers under construction, just vague statements by Chinese admirals. It would appear that organisations, like US Naval intelligence are hoping that China's reconstruction of the aging former Russian carrier Varyag amounts to a carrier program - that would provide extra justification for the US Navy maintaining its 11 carrier battle groups. However, reconstruction has proceeded for years and may be just for research.
Russia carriers have never been battle tested, to my knowledge. So $Billions spent by China and India (Admiral Gorshkov) reconstructing and modifying them, involves added technical and operational risk.
China's deployment of warships off Somalia does not yet prove a permanent intention to expand into the Indian Ocean in force but at least it is providing unprecedented opportunities to study China's most capable warships.

April 13, 2013

Fire Scout (drone helicopter) to be armed with APKWS "mini-missiles"

The Fire Scout (drone helicopter) (imagery above and real photo below) is to be armed with a APKWS "mini-missiles" perhaps making for a much more flexible armed drone than the Predator-Reaper series.


The Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) missile (more details of missile here) can mount several warhead types including the M151 (which weighs 9lbs). This is half the weight of the Hellfire missile's warhead currently used by Predator-Reaper armed drones. Hence theoretically use of the APKWS might save the lives of some civilians near to hapless terrorist targets.

http://defensetech.org/2013/04/12/navy-loads-laser-guided-rockets-to-fire-scout/ April 12, 2013 reports:

"The U.S. Navy is adding laser-guided, precision-fire rockets to its vertical take-off and landing Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), service officials said.

The helicopter-like reconnaissance drone is currently being configured with Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), a precision-guidance weapons technology program providing 2.75 folding-fin hydra-70 rockets with laser-guided pinpoint accuracy."

...Navy developers are enthusiastic about adding APKWS to the Fire Scout platform; APKWS is currently employed on UH-1Y (Marine "Huey") and AH-1Z (Marine SuperCobra) helicopters.

APKWS mini-missiles are also being tested on F-16s and A-10s http://defensetech.org/2013/04/19/air-force-testing-laser-guided-rockets-on-a-10s-f-16s/ .
The Fire Scout lacks many of the capabilities of Predator-Reapers (which have higher speed, much longer range, more comprehensive sensor suites and a "stand-off" capability that makes them relatively invisible and soundless to their intended targets].

Perhaps mounting APKWS on Predator-Reapers (if its not already happening) and other platforms may be a useful compromise to save lives of those (innocents) around the targeted individuals.

April 8, 2013

The DASH Program anti-submarine sensors - TRAPS & SHARK

A team from DARPA prepares to send its Submarine Hold at RisK (SHARK) unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) on a mission to hunt submarines. Photo from DARPA/Bluefin Robots

The following draws on a WIRED - Danger Room article, April 3, 2013 http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/04/darpa-subs/ and other sources.

Robots, Deep-Sea Sensors Help Pentagon Futurists Hunt Subs DARPA announced on April 3, 2013 that it’s successfully tested two methods of detecting quiet submarines under its Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH) research program. The methods are:

  • Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System (TRAPS) - a series of [presumably aircraft, ship or submarine] dropped-and-forget sonar devices. Each device is a fixed, passive sonar node, designed to sit on the sea floor (unlike existing sonobuoys that float) and communicate back to a floating “stationary surface node” through a wireless acoustic modem when something that sounds like a sub [or a surface ship? drug smugglers? pirates? etc] churns past. The idea is to trade sophistication for a distributed array of sensor packages that, once networked, will set up a vast, trap of sound detection. TRAPS may be viable if it is durable, inexpensive, the modems can handle the depths and no one hacks or spoofs the signals. There is no tech support under the waves. “This is a gamble,” DARPA program manager Andy Coon said in a prepared statement, “but we believe the potential payoff will be high" [see DARPA Press Release].” 

  • Submarine Hold at RisK (SHARK) - a yellow unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). Its torpedo shape indicates it is suitable for aircraft, ship or submarine deployment. Described by DARPA as a “mobile active sonar platform,” SHARK is supposed to track submarines once they’re initially detected, presumably by the TRAPs or current Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) technologies - see diagram below) systems.  DARPA disclosed on April 3, 2013 that it took the SHARK to an unspecified depth in February 2013, which Andy Coon likened to “going to another planet.”

US Navy engineers have yet to figure out how to design a long-distance UUVs, as the propulsion and fueling systems necessary to get the things to span oceans aren’t thought to exist - short of nuclear power. Current thinking from the Navy holds that UUVs will launch from existing aircraft, subs and surface ships, supplementing the manned platforms through scouting and a wider communications network.

It’s unclear what range DARPA wants to provide SHARK. Speed is another factor particularly in shadowing fast SSNs not just slow SSKs. If DARPA can devise, cheap and durable ways of propulsion and efficient fuelling for long-range travel, it’ll usher in not just a new wave of sub-hunting, but a new wave of unmanned subs. And it’s worth noting that DARPA’s SHARK team includes Bluefin Robotics, which is spearheading some of the Navy’s most ambitious experiments with robotic submarines.

DASH isn’t DARPAs only anti-sub program. It is also working on a largely autonomous surface ship called the ACTUV, (see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/anti-submarine-drone-ship-actuv.html ) which DARPA wants to prowl the seas hunting subs with its advanced sonars for up to 90 days at a stretch. There’s some reason to suspect ACTUV may complement the DASH program. Defence giant SAIC is building both the SHARK UUV and the TRAPS.

The US Navy network, known as the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) multi platform sensor network, may eventually incorporate TRAPS, SHARK and ACTUV technology.
For more information, dated year 2000, for the older systems FDS and ADS, see http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2000/navy/00fds.html .

Federation of American Scientists 1996 info on Fixed Distributed System (FDS)  technology https://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/fds.htm and 1998 info on Advanced Deployable System (ADS) http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/ads.htm
In addition to sound current IUSS may well include visual spectrum, night-vision, magnetic anomaly, active sonar, infrared sensors and pressure/ripple sensors. DASH technologies will upgrade some existing sensor capabilities.

Undersea sensors would be just one component/platform of a sensor network against submarines which would also include "spy" satellites, sigint ground stations, surface ships, SSKs, SSNs, aircraft and tracking information from allies. If a Chinese SSN entered the Indian Ocean all these sensors and alliances would watch and probably handover intensively.

The funneling dictated by the geography of the Strait of Malacca would assist in triggering or "scripting" the many sensor platforms available.

Link with the following on this "gentleseas" website

LIDAR an anti-submarine warfare sensor, January 16, 2014, http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/lidar-anti-submarine-warfare-sensor.html