There won't be any F-22 stealth fighters at the Paris Air Show this month. U.S. officials are still concerned about intelligence-gathering, passed off as French customs inspections. That happened before when the F-117 was displayed overseas. On one occasion, the aircraft was routed over several French military establishments for electronic intelligence gathering.
However, the Raptor is going to Hawaii. A dozen of the aircraft will form the first F-22 Raptor unit, led by and primarily staffed with Air National Guardsmen. The squadron, part of the Hickam-based 154th wing, will start training its aircrews in 2010 and begin receiving its stealth fighters –- and giving up its F-15s -- in 2011 as it becomes the seventh operational F-22 unit.
Now making the running for a Cleopatra prize -- awarded by Ares to programs that are terminally snake-bitten -- is the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). JASSM has been going in fits and starts for years, with runs of reasonable success punctuated by test failures, but the USAF is now getting irritated by the fact that the only thing that JASSM hits 100 per cent of the time is the ground. With reliability at only 58 per cent, even salvoing two missiles at the target only provides an 82 per cent chance of a hit. JASSM was developed as a low-cost missile, but that objective is rather more than offset if you have to fire two weapons all the time. Moreover, if you don't hit the target you are going to hit something else (probably an orphanage, with JASSM's luck.)
In Defense Acquisition 101 the first lesson might be that it's all a giant mess. But if you really want to know how the system works and doesn't work, Secrecy News has uncovered a brand new report on the whole system put out June 4 by the Congressional Research Service.
CRS sums up the problems.
The complexity of this system of systems combined with the magnitude of
personnel, activities and funding involved in its operation can result in problems,
including inefficient operations, fraud/waste/abuse, and inadequate implementation
or enforcement of the myriad laws and regulations that govern it.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to make blood from scratch, without donor blood.
Darpa is short on details and will be until it issues a solicitation for proposals sometime after this June 29 workshop. Here's the explanation:
The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is hosting a Workshop to discuss innovative research that will enable development of an automated progenitor cell-based culture system to produce a donor-less supply of universal donor (Type 'O' negative) red blood cells (RBCs) for combat casualty care. It is envisioned that RBCs of normal structure and function will be produced and that the automated culture system would process cells from starter population to packaged RBC unit ready for transfusion. . . .
The goal of the workshop is to explore: 1) culture techniques that stimulate and support the efficient and large-scale production of mature red blood cells from human progenitor cells and 2) automated cell culture systems capable of large-scale implementation of progenitor cell expansion and RBC differentiation protocols.
Workshop participants are strongly encouraged to prepare posters describing previous or potential research in the area in order to facilitate discussions and formation of well-rounded teams. It is expected that the successful team will possess expertise in human progenitor cell biology and erythroid differentiation; RBC physiology, cellular support matrices/scaffolds; automated cell culture systems, and cell sorting, purification and packaging. In addition, teams should be led by a strong Systems Integrator and have experience with the FDA approval process for transfusable products.
A few weeks back I met with Afghan ambassador to the United States Said Tayeb Jawad to talk about international reconstruction efforts in his country and Afghanistan's tense relationship with its neighbor Pakistan. As an introduction to my coming blog series from Afghanistan, I am reposting a summary of the conversation originally published at my site War Is Boring. Here are some excerpts on ...
To fight terrorism is not just a military matter. You have to show the perception of security, [which] for everyday Afghans means a better life, [and this is] related to physical reconstruction and the ability of the Afghan government to deliver services. The role of [U.S. and NATO] Provincial Reconstruction Teams is crucial. They're the link between coalition forces and the everyday people. Now, I personally believe the PRTs should be involved more in capacity building with Afghan forces, the police and government. There has been a lot of focus on physical projects ... but by digging a well you're not going to change the economic conditions in a village. What Afghanistan is lacking is human capital. Building human capital will have a bigger effect than digging a well or building a soccer field.
Roads and power are our two biggest [physical reconstruction] priorities. Roads: there has been some progress. Power: not so much progress. Electricity is such a tangible thing.
Summer's here, the sun is shining and the poppies are in bloom. You know what that means? All the Taliban fighters who had been hibernating in Afghanistan's impenetrable mountains have emerged from their slumbers and are creeping down the mountains to visit violence on U.S. and NATO forces.
In the south, British troops swoop down in Chinook helicopters to engage the Taliban in fierce firefights while Dutch and Australian forces rebuild crumbling infrastructure in order to jumpstart the region's shattered economy and dry up the opium trade that channels cash and arms to extremist fighters. Across the country, U.S. and allied troops balance combat, reconstruction and the tough job of training up Afghan soldiers, cops and administrators -- all on unforgiving terrain and in a media environment that seems at times to favor bad news coming out of Iraq over any news from Afghanistan.
For the next three weeks I'll be reporting from Kabul and Kandahar, doing my part to ensure that our "other" war gets a little more attention. Ares and Danger Room are co-sponsoring my blog series focused on the vital Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are dodging bombs and bullets to lay the foundation for a self-sufficient Afghanistan. So check both sites regularly throughout the month of June. And wish me luck.
On May 21, Ares reported that Israel-based Bental Industries launched what it claimed to be the "smallest-size payload available today" for mini- and Micro-UAVs.
On June 6, the company announced that this new MicroBAT 275 electro-optical sensor payload has found a first customer in Europe, namely a "leading UAV manufacturer in Italy" (believed to be Galileo Avionica).
Michael Armon, Bental’s VP Marketing & Sales, says: “We are very pleased with this order, which is a result of our marketing efforts in Europe, and is an important step in Bental's business expansion in this important market."
Canada's National Post newspaper has a fascinating story today about how Russian spies are as active now in attempting to uncover U.S. secrets and technology as they ever were during the Cold War. Russian spies are second only to China in their activities, and both countries like to work their spies through Canada, which has access to U.S. technology. This heightened activity comes as the United States and other Western countries have shifted their attention away from counter-espionage and toward counter-terrorism since the end of the Cold War and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The story is particularly interesting in light of the May 15 agreement allowing Canadians with dual citizenship greater access to U.S. defense goods. The deal gives Canadian citizens, including dual nationals, with Canadian security clearances access to defense technology controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations provided that Canada can ensure the security of U.S. technology.