22 April 2009

Pentagon: New Cyber Command

While no final decisions have been made, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to recommend the creation of a new military command to face the growing threat from cyber warfare, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Tuesday.

According to the official, the program would not be on the level of a separate combatant command. Instead, the likely recommendation would be to create a "sub-unified command" that would focus entirely on combating cyber warfare but exist under the current Strategic Command.
more here...

21 April 2009

Current Events: President Signs National Service Bill

So, how can we turn potential chaos into an opportunity? As an aside question, they get paid? What about those who serve for the love of service?

Obama signs service bill, says volunteers needed

Apr 21, 5:22 PM (ET) By ANN SANNER
WASHINGTON (AP) - Calling on Americans to volunteer, President Barack Obama signed a $5.7 billion national service bill Tuesday that triples the size of the AmeriCorps service program over the next eight years and expands ways for students to earn money for college.

"We need your service, right now, in this moment in history. ... I'm asking you to stand up and play your part," said Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago. "I'm asking you to help change history's course."

Joining Obama was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer. Kennedy championed the legislation with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the bill was named in honor of the Massachusetts Democrat.

Kennedy told the audience that included former President Bill Clinton, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former first lady Rosalyn Carter that Obama's efforts echoed that of his late brother, former President John F. Kennedy.

"Today, another young president has challenged another generation to give back to their nation," Kennedy said, citing his brother's advocacy of the Peace Corps.

The service law expands ways for students and seniors to earn money for college through their volunteer work. It aims to foster and fulfill people's desire to make a difference, such as by mentoring children, cleaning up parks or buildings and weatherizing homes for the poor.
more here...

USAF: EPLOs Redefine part of Air Force Mission

So, the natural question: Where does CAP fit in this EPLO discussion?

4/21/2009 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- When most Americans think of the Air Force, they envision slick, fast fighter jets soaring through the skies at Mach speed. A picture that doesn't normally come to mind is a military organization that helps local communities during hurricanes, wildfires, floods or other natural disasters.

Nor does the image of men and women in blue assisting during man-made emergencies such as an oil spill, chemical explosion or train derailment immediately come to mind.

Historically, that level of assistance has been offered primarily by local, state and federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross.

However, Air Force officials have been providing a growing presence during these emergencies through the emergency preparedness liaison officer program, which is part of the Defense Support to Civil Authorities mission under Continental U.S. NORAD Region - 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), headquartered at here at Tyndall.

Col. Michael Hare is the Air Force National Security Emergency Preparedness director who oversees the EPLO program for AFNORTH.
More here…

CSAR: CNN profiles PJs

For every helicopter that goes down, an Air Force Combat Search and Rescue team, which includes the PJs, must go into that same hostile territory to rescue and medically treat the downed crew. The PJs are part of what's called the Guardian Angel Weapon System, which includes combat rescue officers and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists. Pilots and aircrews of high-tech rescue helicopters, A-10 Warthog attack jets, fighter jets, reconnaissance aircraft and special refuelers round out the team.
More story…

Aerospace: The Immortal Scooter (A4 Skyhawk)

April 21, 2009: Instead of buying new aircraft. Brazil is refurbishing and upgrading the twelve A-4 light bombers they operate off their carrier Sao Paulo (x-French Carrier Foch). Eleven years ago, Brazil bought 23 A-4 Skyhawk light bombers from Kuwait for $70 million.
More here…

Aerospace: Jet Predator C takes flight

April 21, 2009: The new, jet powered "Predator C" took its first flight recently. Not to be confused with the MQ-1C Sky Warrior, the Predator C "Avenger" is a project that was started before Sky Warrior, and has taken much longer to get off the ground. The first flight was supposed to have been two years ago, but there were technical problems that kept coming up.
More here…

USAF: Foreign Aircrews Train for Multi-National Missions

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE: Instructors at the Air Force C-17 Aircrew Training Center here are preparing foreign aircrews for a first-of-its-kind mission in Hungary.

A multi-national consortium consisting of 10 North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries and two Partnership for Peace nations created the Strategic Airlift Capability Program's Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa Air Base, Hungary, and together they will provide strategic airlift to 12 nations throughout Europe.

"(The HAW) is highly visible politically so it is really important that this works," said Norwegian Maj. Christian Langfeldt, a C-17 Globemaster III student who will be the wing's director of operations. "Without the training that (Altus AFB) gives us, there would not be a HAW."

In 2009, more than 24 foreign pilots and loadmasters will learn from Altus instructors how to fly and load Globemasters. Two loadmasters will be the first HAW students to graduate May 28, followed a week later by two pilots.
More here…

Space: Earth-like Planet Detected

The lightest exoplanet yet discovered — only about twice the mass of Earth — has been detected, astronomers announced today.

"With only 1.9 Earth-masses, it is the least massive exoplanet ever detected and is, very likely, a rocky planet,"said Xavier Bonfils of Grenoble Observatory in France, a member of the team that made the discovery, which was announced at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

The planet was found in the famous system Gliese 581 and has been dubbed "Gliese 581 e." It was detected using the low-mass-exoplanet hunter HARPS spectrograph attached to the 3.6-metre ESO telescope at La Silla, Chile.
More here…

Cadet: Worlds largest model rocket

On Saturday, April 25, the Saturn V, the rocket that sent men to the moon 40 years ago, will once again lift off from U.S. soil and soar over the Atlantic.

Only this time, it won't be quite real. Rather, what's going up will be the largest model rocket ever built — a one-tenth scale, 36-foot-tall, fully working replica of the Saturn V.

Its nine rocket engines will provide 8,000 pounds of thrust to lift it between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above its launching point in Price, Md.

Once it reaches its zenith, it'll separate into three sections, each of which will parachute back to the ground.

The entire project is the work of Steve Eves, 50, an Ohio man who's been dreaming of building his own Saturn V for nearly 15 years.
More here...

Current Events: Chinese A/C Carrier

Some would say this is a sign of a bad thing. Others, that it may be a very positive sign that the US will not be the only policeman on the seas any more. 6 a half a dozen... Respect is earned, not freely given.

BEIJING -- China's navy has added sophisticated nuclear submarines, destroyers and missile systems, but the holy grail of surface ships _ an aircraft carrier _ has stayed out on the horizon. That may be about to change.

The navy will have one "very soon," says the commander of the East China Fleet, Adm. Xu Hongmeng. The navy's commander, Adm. Wu Shengli, spoke last week of plans for "large combat warships," an apparent reference to carriers.
more here...

Current Events: Walking out of the UN

23 Nations Fled Ahmadinejad's Race Speech
Of the 27 European Union states, 23 walked out of an international conference on racism Monday after Iran's president launched a verbal onslaught against Israel, triggering furious rebukes from Western capitals.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has previously called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map, criticised the creation of a "totally racist government in occupied Palestine" in 1948, calling it "the most cruel and repressive racist regime.
more here...

USAF: Danger on the web

WASHINGTON — Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project — the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever — according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.

Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.
more here...

19 April 2009

USAF: CSAR in the crosshairs

CSAR Advocates Hope for Another Resurrection

As the U.S. Air Force gets ready to recapitalize its current combat, search and rescue (CSAR) fleet, service and industry officials are hoping that history will repeat itself and the Defense Department will again realize the importance and need for a more modern dedicated CSAR fleet.

Almost immediately after Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced cancellation the Air Force's $15 billion CSAR-X program to replace the existing HH-60 fleet -- the service's number two acquisition priority -- the Pentagon issued a Resource Management Directive, according to industry and military sources. The directive would recapitalize the CSAR capacity at half of the Fiscal 2010 budget allotment, giving the service about $2.8 billion with which to work.

That will be a tough pill to swallow for the Air Force, as a major report from earlier this decade indicated. In its "Combat Rescue Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) Combat Rescue Future Recovery Vehicle Final Report," from February 2002, service officials were less than keen about continuing with the aircraft for CSAR missions.

"The expert panel identified four deficiencies: visual lookout, avionics, workload, self-defense in terminal area, and alternate insertion and extraction (AIE) with wounded crew member. Each of these deficiencies was ranked as critical," the AOA said.

At the same time, the Air Force is used to CSAR receiving short shrift.
more here....

USAF: Shok Valley, Afghanistan - Our Courageous Airmen

Simi Air Force captain describes heated U.S. battle in Afghanistan
BY: Jake Finch , Ventura County Star (Calif.)

Hat tip to the AFA web site in our links below! Visit them!

The Shok Valley mission in Afghanistan a year ago started out as a routine air support assignment for Air Force Capt. Jeremy Duffey and the other pilots from his 335th Fighter Squadron.

Six hours later, Shok Valley would become known as one of the most heated U.S. battles waged to date in Afghanistan, and Duffey, from Simi Valley, played a key role in protecting the lives of soldiers on the ground.
more here...

Aerospace: Name that aircraft!

Roughly 100 nm east-north-east of the NK's recent missle launch site is the site, unmarked, of another North Korean action undertaken in contravention of international norms. That spot is the terminus of Deep Sea 129’s final flight, now forty years ago this April 15th (Korea time, April 14th US). Hat tip to the Steeljaw Scribe.
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Aerospace: USS Midway Museum photo tour

Welcome Aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California. Thanks to the US Naval Institute blog.
more here...

SAFETY: Add Power!

Aerospace: Connie

Editors Note: Cancel the move - for now...

I am having second thoughts about keeping this blog open and unattached to an official Wing web site.

There are some technical perks to staying with blogger and it will be more of the introductory public interface we are looking for as well as an info spot for Wing members - thus fulfilling PA's two primary missions of informing the public and its members of CAP and USAF programs benefiting the nation.

Thoughts on this are always welcome...


DoD: Why We Should Get Rid of West Point, USAFA, USNA...

This one ought to solicit some interesting blow back... "more rigorous institutions?" There is a disconnect somewhere.

By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post
Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Want to trim the federal budget and improve the military at the same time? Shut down West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy, and use some of the savings to expand ROTC scholarships."

"After covering the U.S. military for nearly two decades, I've concluded that graduates of the service academies don't stand out compared to other officers. Yet producing them is more than twice as expensive as taking in graduates of civilian schools ($300,000 per West Point product vs. $130,000 for ROTC student). On top of the economic advantage, I've been told by some commanders that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs, because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military."

"This is no knock on the academies' graduates. They are crackerjack smart and dedicated to national service. They remind me of the best of the Ivy League, but too often they're getting community-college educations."

"Why not send young people to more rigorous institutions on full scholarships, and then, upon graduation, give them a military education at a short-term military school?"

more here...

18 April 2009

CAP: Competition?

So, I am wondering...

FARGO, N.D. – As the swollen Red River threatened Fargo this spring, thousands of eyes were trained on the city's miles of sandbag walls. But just in case the townspeople missed something, the eye in the sky was watching, too.

"Emergency officials long have used helicopters and small planes during disasters, but the maker of the Predator — General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. — said it has distinct advantages, chief among them its ability to stay in the air for up to 30 hours.

"It's the endurance, that's for sure. That would be the key," said Kimberly Kasitz, a spokeswoman for the San Diego company."
more here...

DoHS: Chinese Spy Chips in Us Aircraft?

Sceptical but wary...

WASHINGTON: The Chinese cyber spies have penetrated so deep into the US system — ranging from its secure defence network, banking system,
electricity grid to putting spy chips into its defence planes — that it can cause serious damage to the US any time, a top US official on counter-intelligence has said.

“Chinese penetrations of unclassified DoD networks have also been widely reported. Those are more sophisticated, though hardly state of the art,” said National Counterintelligence Executive, Joel Brenner, at the Austin University Texas last week, according to a transcript made available on Wednesday.
more here....

Morale: Alternative Mil career - Chef!

15 April 2009

NER: CISM Courses

The following CISM courses are being held in April and May 09'

CAP sponsored:

**Individual Crisis Intervention and Peer support course:

Date: 16 & 17, May 2009
Sponsor: NYCG
Loc: Queens, NY.
Course fee: $50.00 Checks made out to NYWG
*For further info including location, times and course pre-registration form,**see the attached** course flyer

Special Note: Regulation changes to the CAPR 60-5 that are forthcoming will require current CISM Team members as well as new CIST members, to have completed and received certificates from ICISF in both Group and Individual/Peer Crisis Intervention. As of this date, Individual/ Peer course is required for CIST Leader position.


Non-CAP sponsored courses:

**Pastoral Crisis Intervention:

Date: 17 & 18 April 09'
Sponsor: St. Joesph Renewal
Loc: Brentwood NY (LI)
Course fee: $100.00. Cost is $175 if at time of registration if student enrolls in both PCI 1and 2. **See Attachment**
Pre-requisite: see attachment

**Pastoral Crisis Intervention:

Date: 22 & 23 April 09'
Sponsor: NY Board of Rabbi's
Loc: NYC see attachment
Fee: see attachment
Pre-requisite: see attachment

**Emotional and Spiritual Care in Disasters:

Date: 5 & 6 May 09'
Sponsor: NYBR
Loc: NYC see attachment
Fee: see attachment
Pre-requisite: see attachment

**Pastoral Crisis Intervention 2

Date: 8& 9 May 09'
Sponsor: St Joseph Renewal
Loc: Brentwood NY (LI)
Fee: $100.00 ea. $175.00 if student signs up for both PCI 1&2 at time of initial registration.** see attachment**
Pre-requisite: PCI 1

1Lt Jack Arena
Northeast Region USAF-AUX CAP
Critical Incident Stress Management Officer

CTWG: 2009 CT Wing Conference

Confirming the new dates for the Conference at UCONN's Nathan Hale Conference Center:
October 23-25.

The new date avoids UCONN's Homecoming, opens up a cadet JROTC activity at UCONN and deconflicts us and the PA Wing Conference.

10 April 2009

Editors Note: Moving Notice 1

IF you see posting become a bit irregular its due to a technical problem the Editor is experiencing.

Also, in the near future we will be moving Always Vigilant (and most of its capabilities) over to the new Connecticut Wing SAR DOGS Web site! Soon, very soon!

Aerospace: Blackwater Blimp

Xe Company (formerly Blackwater) has a 170 ft. remotely piloted airship, who knew?

09 April 2009

Homeland Security: Portable EMP threat to aircraft

Weapons experts and techno-thriller fans are familiar with the concept of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) — a supermassive blast of electricity, usually from a nuclear blast high above ground, that fries electronic circuits for miles around, crippling computers, cars and most other modern gadgets.

Now comes word that a much smaller EMP device, or "e-bomb," could be carried in a car, or even on someone's person — and be used to take down an airliner.

"Once it is known that aircraft are vulnerable to particular types of disruption, it isn't too much of a leap to build a device that can produce that sort of disruption," Israeli counter-terrorism expert Yael Shahar tells New Scientist magazine. "And much of this could be built from off-the-shelf components or dual-use technologies."

Shahar says she's especially worried about two devices — one called a Marx generator, which beams an EMP at a target, and the other with the "Back to the Future"-like name of flux-compression generator.
More here...

Current Events: NK Parties, Battalion Style

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean soldiers on Wednesday celebrated the nation's defiant launch of a rocket in a mass rally, while Russia's foreign minister said any new measures to punish Pyongyang could be counter-productive.

The United States, Japan and South Korea said the North's launch on Sunday was a disguised test of a long-range missile designed to carry warheads to U.S. territory and deserved punishment because it violated U.N. resolutions.
More here...

Homeland Security: The vunerable electric grid

A few months back an informal member discussion on homeland security occurred. One of our CTWG Captains remarked that of all the possible things that could happen, an attack on our electric grid was one of his largest concerns. Well, the below tels us that our membership is very much on the power curve...

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Spies hacked into the U.S. electric grid and left behind computer programs that would let them disrupt service, exposing potentially catastrophic vulnerabilities in key pieces of national infrastructure, a former U.S. government official said Wednesday.

The intrusions were discovered after electric companies gave the government permission to audit their systems, the ex-official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The inspections of the electric grid were triggered by fears over a March 2007 video from the Idaho National Laboratory, which had staged a demonstration of what damage hackers could do if they seized control of a crucial part of the electric grid. The video showed a power turbine spinning out of control until it became a smoking hulk and shut down.

Although the resulting audits turned up evidence of spying sometime earlier, the former official told the AP that the extent of the problem is unknown, because the government does not have blanket authority to examine other electric systems.

"The vulnerability may be bigger than we think," the official said, adding that the level of sophistication necessary to pull off such intrusions is so high that it is "almost without a doubt" done by state sponsors.

The Wall Street Journal, which reported the intrusions earlier, said officials believe the spies have not yet sought to damage the nation's electric grid, but that they likely would try in a war or another crisis.

Chinese and Russian officials have denied involvement in hacks on U.S. systems.

Current Events: Pirates attempt to seize American flagged ship

(CNN) -- A U.S. warship arrived before dawn Thursday near a 28-foot lifeboat holding four pirates and the kidnapped captain of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship, officials said.

The USS Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer, is heading to the area to assist.

Also nearby was the Maersk Alabama -- which had been seized early Wednesday off the Horn of Africa. All 20 of its remaining crew members were in good physical shape, said Ken Quinn, second officer of the ship, in a satellite call placed by CNN.

"There's four Somali pirates, and they've got our captain," Quinn said.

Maersk spokesman Kevin Speers said the guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge was near the Maersk Alabama and that its crew was talking to the Navy.

"When the Navy comes in, they're in charge," Speers told CNN.

The hijackers boarded the Maersk Alabama early Wednesday, when it was about 350 miles off the coast of Somalia, a haven for pirates attacking shipping through the Gulf of Aden. Capt. Richard Phillips was being held in the lifeboat after the pirates reneged on their agreement to exchange him for one of their own, who himself had been captured by the crew members, Quinn said.
More here...

06 April 2009

Current Events: The truth once spoken cannot be checked

Intro; Before the Declaration of Independence there was another… Hat tip to blackfive.net

"Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood." - President Woodrow Wilson

Today is National Tartan Day which was created ten years ago to recognize that Americans of Scottish descent have played a vibrant and influential role in the development of this country. The date was chosen to coincide with the signing of the declaration of Arbroath.
The Declaration of Arbroath - April 6th, 1320.

Our own American Declaration of Independence of 1776 was based loosely on the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath. Here is one key passage:

‘Yet if he (Bruce) should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.’
Sound familiar? It's amazing that those men, so long ago, had the same ideas about freedom as those in later centuries.

The Declaration of Arbroath 1320 by John Prebble
The Declaration of Arbroath was and has been unequalled in its eloquent plea for the liberty of man. From the darkness of medieval minds it shone a torch upon future struggles which its signatories could not have foreseen or understood.The author of this noble Latin address is unknown, though it is assumed to have been composed by Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland.
Above the seals of eight earls and forty-five barons, it asked for the Pope's dispassionate intervention in the bloody quarrel between the Scots and the English, and so that he might understand the difference between the two its preamble gave him a brief history of the former. What is important is the passionate sincerity of the men who believed it, who were placing a new and heady nationalism above the feudal obligations that had divided their loyalties less than a quarter of a century before. In its mixture of defiance and supplication, nonsensical history and noble thought, two things make the Declaration of Arbroath the most important document in Scottish history.
Firstly it set the will and the wishes of the people above the King. Though they were bound to him 'both by law and by his merits' it was so that their freedom might be maintained. If he betrayed them he would be removed and replaced. This remarkable obligation placed upon a feudal monarch by his feudal subjects may be explained in part by the fact that Robert the Bruce was still a heather king to many of them, still a wild claimant ruling upon sufferance and success. But the roots of his kingship were Celtic, and a Celtic tradition was here invoked, the memory of the Seven Earls, the Seven Sons of Cruithne the Pict in who, it was believed, had rested the ancient right of tanistry, the elevation of kings by selection. This unique relationship of king and people would influence their history henceforward, and would reach its climax in the Reformation and the century following, when a people's Church would declare and maintain its superiority over earthly crowns.
Secondly, the manifesto affirmed the nation's independence in a way no battle could, and justified it with a truth that is beyond nation and race. Man has a right to freedom and a duty to defend it with his life.
The truth once spoken cannot be checked, the seed once planted controls its own growth, and the liberty which men secure for themselves must be given by them to others, or it will be taken as they took it. Freedom is a hardy plant and must flower in equality and brotherhood.

04 April 2009

USAF: The value of the GSAR skill set

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Qualified special operations officers are now eligible for a maximum of $100,000 in critical skills retention bonus money if they voluntarily extend their active-duty service commitment for up to four years.

The bonuses are due in part to a $2.5 million deposit from Department of Defense officials.

"The consistently high demand for our limited number of combat rescue and special tactics officers makes it crucial that we retain as many as of these seasoned officers as possible on active duty," said Maj. J.T. Goodson, the chief of airfield operations, special tactics and combat rescue assignments at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "These officers have experience and skills that we simply can't afford to lose."

Recognizing the additional necessity to retain those nearing retirement, Air Force officials included a provision in the critical skills retention bonus that allows those who are less than four years from mandatory retirement to incur a two- or three-year active duty service commitment.
More here...

USAF: EHF System unveiled

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Air Force Space Command officials, in partnership with Lockheed Martin representatives, unveiled a one-quarter scale model of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite here April 1 during a ceremony in the AFSPC headquarters building.

"It is phenomenally important to us and the warfighting team to get these satellites on orbit and what we have here today is a good start," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, AFSPC commander.

The AEHF system is a follow-on to the Milstar Satellite Communications system, augmenting and improving on the capabilities of Milstar, and expanding the Military Satellite Communications architecture to enable transformational communications and network-centric warfare.
More here…

Current Events: NK may launch rocket Saturday

WASHINGTON -- As North Korea fueled a multistage rocket Thursday for its threatened satellite launch, President Barack Obama promised a "stern" response and Japan vowed to press for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.
Senior U.S. defense officials said that trailers and vehicles carrying rocket propellant were in place at North Korea's coastal launch site and that fueling had begun.
A U.S. counter-proliferation official said the fueling process could take "up to a few days." But a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that Pyongyang was on track for a projected Saturday launch
More here…

But, Weather delays may affect launch date

North Korea said Saturday preparations for the launch were complete and liftoff was imminent, as U.S., Japanese and South Korean warships with radar plied waters near the communist nation to monitor what they fear is a long-range missile test.
"Preparations for launching 'Kwangmyongsong-2,' an experimental communications satellite, by carrier rocket 'Unha-2' have been completed at the satellite launching ground in the east coastal area," the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, citing information from the Korean Committee of Space Technology. "The satellite will be launched soon."
North Korea vowed to carry out its controversial rocket launch between Saturday and Wednesday.
Weather conditions Saturday, however, may have caused a delay of the launch.
More here…

Aerospace: Robots on the moon

Japan aims for walking robot on the moon by 2020

TOKYO (AP) — Japan hopes to have a two-legged robot walk on the moon by around 2020, with a joint mission involving astronauts and robots to follow, according to a plan laid out Friday by a government group.
Specifics of the plan, including what new technologies will be required and the size of the project's budget, are to be decided within the next two years, according to Japan's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, a Cabinet-level working group.
Development of a lunar robot is part of a broad framework outlined by the group, which is charged with plotting a new course for Japan's space strategy. As a next step, joint exploration of the moon involving robots and astronauts will be considered.
More here…

Aerospace: April Fools!

SAFETY: If there’s any doubt at all, there’s no doubt

From Lex of neptunuslex.com

So, I’d asked for the day yesterday from my real job, one of 15 such being accorded to my annual station these days. On top of the federals. Mine being an hourly labor, with “paid time off.”
Spent half the day at work and the other half flying, four air combat demo sorties being my apportioned ration. The planes had already flown four times that morning before the afternoon shift rung in, and daylight was wasting.
With our guest pilots having been briefed, I ended up at the hold short in 50W, going through my pre-take off checklists with John in the trunk, a magnificently framed, blond headed farmer’s son turned tractor salesman. He was at least six four, and his shoulders were nearly half that width, with a broad, easy smile on his apple cheeked face that had no least hint of guile in it. It only took a bit of imagination to draw a beard on that face, some animal hides on his back and a Viking broad axe in his hand to render him a fearful (if imaginary) specter. I honestly don’t know how he poured himself in the cramped back seat of the tiny Varga, but he was sitting there, strapped in tightly and sporting a “oh, gosh” grin.
The magnetos were fine, but the carb heat check had to be done three times. On every other flight I’d ever flown the drop from 1800 RPM with carburetor heat selected had been a hundred RPM or so. Maybe two. But 50W dropped from 1800 RPM to around a grudging thousand or so, which was passing strange.
There’s no lower limit on the checklist for an RPM drop with carb heat on, but given that the airplane idles in flight at around a thousand RPM, the idea of losing 800 more in the landing pattern should carb heat be required was thought provoking. And yet there were all those young Midwesterners (and Canadians, too) all waiting for their turn at the donnybrook. The time line was taut to get it all done.
I thought about it again, which should have been a warning sign: If there’s any doubt at all, there’s no doubt. You’d always rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground. But I get paid to fly these airplanes, not to break them. And if the airplane was hard down, it’d be me taking bread off my employer’s table.
My lead took the runway with both of us cleared for take-off, I toyed with the throttle a bit trying to come to some sort of decision as the traffic stacked up behind me - the SNJ, a Cirrus SR-22 and a beautiful little blue Champ. On the runway, I eased the throttle back to ground idle when it sputtered down to 750 RPM - a 250 RPM drop, and that with the mixture full rich. I began to feel that old “mission accomplishment” pressure kick in - it’s almost always self-imposed - the pressing need to get things done against a mulish resistance to doing it. Everybody wants you to go, but even more they want you to come back and if you don’t, it’s all on you old sport. Pilot in command, and that.
The symptoms said carburetor icing, but it was a warm, pleasant day with never a trace of visible moisture. The knowledge that adding carb heat would have caused the engine to sag even further put paid to the notion of breaking the surly bonds. My only engine was running rough on the deck, the hope that things might clear up once airborne was fond fantasy. Enough.
There was a palpable disappointment in the air as I taxied back to the flight line. The plane had already flown four flights, the clock was ticking and it isn’t all beer and skittles in the air touring business these days.
My passenger stepped out and joined a handful of his confreres, chatting thoughtfully and looking on with feigned insouciance as maintenance Jedi master Skip turned up with his wrench and went swiftly to work. I guess I sort of understand powerplants, and if you tell me what the problem is I get it immediately after you’ve told me. Skip’s the kind of man that gets it first - you tell him what you were seeing in the cockpit and the light just comes on, he knows. I’ve always admired that in a mechanic.
In short order he identified the flaw: The airscoop is attached below the carburetor and it tends to vibrate in the airflow, which over time can cause the hardware that encloses the carburetor bowl and float to shake loose a little. Eventually you get a secondary air source in the gap between the seals, which affects the fuel/air mixture adversely. Skip worked quickly but authoritatively under the engine with the cowlings all peeled back, and eventually - having tested the motor at various RPMs, mixture and carb heat settings - I was as certain as I could be that we would both be fine, your correspondent and his Viking passenger, who’s Minnesotan ma no doubt loved him dearly, and whose father loved him so much that he almost told him so, once.
I don’t know that my only engine would have quit shortly after take-off, plunging us into the densely populated departure end subdivision of Kearney Mesa . But neither was I sure it wouldn’t. The difference between the two was a matter of thirty minutes maintenance time.
It was a good flight, and a squeeker of a landing. Turning off the runway though I noticed that the right brake required a great deal more force than did its peer on the left to achieve proportionate response. Was it flyable? Yeah, I guess. But it wasn’t right, and it was with a heavy heart that I asked Skip to once again go to work while our paying passengers milled about, having first done the obvious and checked the break pads and rotor. I didn’t want to come off as a nancy boy with passengers to fly and the sun casting admiring glances at the western horizon, but you’re supposed to have two brakes.
It had been air in the brake lines, which took him a trifling amount of time to bleed. We flew the rest of the passengers in good time before the sun went down, shared a beer at the end of the day and put the airplanes to bed. Mine in better condition than I’d found it. That’s not nothing. I got the important things right.

CAP: A little USAF press for the Auxiliary

Auxiliary officials play important role in North Dakota floods

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Critical integration of efforts and resources from Air Force Auxiliary officials has helped the citizens of North Dakota during the recent flooding that hit that region in the past several days.

The Air Force Auxiliary is the official federal aviation arm of the Civil Air Patrol that provides emergency services to the Air Force and its customers.

The North Central Region of CAP has been flying Air Force Auxiliary missions since March 19 when the unit received word about the potential of flooding in the Red River area of North Dakota, as well as other surrounding areas in Minnesota and South Dakota. Since then, they have flown more than 30 sorties and captured hundreds of visual images to give emergency responders and on-scene commanders the most up-to-date picture of the affected areas.

In the case of flooding, CAP imagery can alert decision makers of damage to vital infrastructure, which can ultimately help save lives.

Falling under the operational control of Maj. Gen. Henry C. "Hank" Morrow, the Joint Forces Air Component commander, the Air Force Auxiliary works around the clock to assist federal, state, county and local government and law enforcement agencies.

One of the added benefits of employing Air Force Auxiliary in its role is the amount of money saved by the Air Force. On average, it costs $120 an hour to fly and maintain a CAP aircraft, whereas the cost of flying an Air Force fighter, helicopter or larger aircraft is much higher, making CAP a cost-effective force multiplier and essential part of Air Forces Northern's Defense Support for Civil Authorities mission.

USAF: Air Force uniforms: How materials are selected

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- Air Force Uniform Office officials have a responsibility to provide Airmen with functional and effective military uniforms, but in doing so are asked the same question over and over: "Why can't you just purchase clothing from a brand company and put the Air Force symbol on it?"

The answer to this question may be summed up in two words: Berry Amendment.

According to the Berry Amendment, USC, Title 10, Section 2533a, Department of Defense officials are required to give preference in procurement to domestically produced and manufactured products, most notably food, clothing, fabrics and specialty metals. Congress originally passed domestic source restrictions, as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental DOD Appropriations Act, to protect the domestic industrial base in the time of war.

What this means is a company that makes its product entirely in the U.S. will be given preference over a company that has any aspect of its production from a foreign source.

There have been many comments coming from the field asking why AFUO officials don't contract with a major clothing producer, such as Nike or Under Armor for physical fitness uniforms, to provide uniform items upon which the Air Force logo could be placed.

"All of the uniform items -- service dress, PT, utility, flight suits -- must be manufactured in the U.S.," said Maj. Michael Perry, Air Force clothing program manager. "The (Berry) amendment holds us to this in order to preserve not only American business, but national security."
More here…

Aerospace: US Marine Corps plans to convert KC-130J tankers into gunships

The US Marine Corps has decided to convert some Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers into combination surveillance platforms and gunships.
The renamed KC-130J "Harvest Hawk" would retain the wing-mounted refuelling pods and tanker mission, but add a new targeting sensor and a 30mm cannon, the USMC says.
Marine commanders have issued an urgent request for the Harvest Hawk capability, believing that the KC-130J could be used as more than simply a refuelling system for helicopters and tiltrotors. "If we can get more utility out of the tanker platform - then why not," the service says.
More here….