Yemen gets Scan Eagle UAS
Yemen has become the latest export customer for American Scan Eagle UAVs. Yemen has ordered a dozen of these aircraft, along with a launcher, control and maintenance equipment. The U.S. is also providing operator and maintenance training. The entire package costs $11 million.
Before this deal, the United States has provided Yemen with Raven micro (4.5 pound) UAVs.
According to Strategy Page, Yemen is not the first customer in the region. Iraq ordered ten Scan Eagle UAVs in late 2013 and these were rushed to Iraq in 2014 because Iraqi troops have already gotten a taste of how effective these small remotely controlled aircraft are from using some 4.5 pound Ravens the U.S. left behind and seeing American troops benefit from the many UAVs they regularly used.
The Scan Eagle weighs 40 pounds, has a ten feet wingspan, and uses day and night video cameras. It uses a catapult for launch and can be landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a fifty feet pole. There is also a smaller CLRE (Compact Launch and Recovery System) that will eventually be available for ship use. On land Scan Eagle can also land on any flat, solid surface.
The Scan Eagle can stay in the air for up to 15 hours per flight and fly as high as 16,000 feet. Scan Eagles cruising speed is 110 kilometers an hour and it can operate at least a hundred kilometers from the ground controller. Scan Eagle carries an optical system that is stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. Scan Eagle has been flying for over a decade now and has been in military service since 2005.
Meanwhile the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy have ordered a new UAV that is basically a larger Scan Eagle. This is the RQ-21A Blackjack. Production began in 2013 and deliveries began shortly after that. RQ-21A is a 121 pound UAV, which has a 16 foot wingspan and can fly as high as 15,000 feet at a cruise speed of 100 kilometers an hour. RQ-21A can stay in the air up to 24 hours and can carry a payload of 50 pounds. It uses the same takeoff and landing equipment as the Scan Eagle. RQ-21A also uses many of the Scan Eagle sensors, in addition to new ones that were too heavy for Scan Eagle. The additional weight of the RQ-21A makes it more stable in bad weather or windy conditions.
Foreign sources: Israel has warheads poised to be launch
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in the turn of 2014, 9 countries worldwide, including Israel, were in possession of 4,150 operational nuclear bombs. At least 1800 of them in a state of “launch readiness” by means of missiles within a short time frame. The full list of these countries, published by the renowned Swedish institute SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) includes the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
SIPRI notes that 2013 saw a mild decrease in the total number of non-operational nuclear weapons these countries possess, from 17,270 to 16,350. Russia and the US account for 90% of the entire nuclear arsenal.
The information on the global operational nuclear arsenal is based on quite detailed – albeit inaccurate and partial – figures published by the US, France and Britain. Russia has consistently opposed providing info on this issue, but the US and Russia adhere to data exchanges as per their previous arms reduction treaties. China also refrains from reporting its arsenals.
As for Israel, SIPRI is reporting that in the framework of its policy of “nuclear ambiguity”, Israel has never owned up to possessing nuclear weapons, but based on the Institute’s multi-annual publications, Israel is listed as having operational nuclear arms.
According to SIPRI, both Russia and the US are cultivating their ballistic programs, designed to launch their existing arsenal. The development efforts focus on both extending the range and increasing the payload. The same applies to India and Pakistan. North Korea, on the other hand, is unrelenting in its efforts to produce nuclear arms. In 2013, the North Koreans even conducted a nuclear experiment and announced their nuclear policy is a matter of “security strategy”.
SIPRI also reports that Israel possesses a large arsenal of dozens of Jericho 3 ballistic missiles, which are capable of delivering nuclear warheads to any target in the Middle East and beyond. It is estimated that these missiles have a range of 4,800 to 11,500 kilometers. Global assessments say the Jericho 3 missiles have been operational since 2008.
iHLS TV - Nuclear Turkey, Apache simulator hacked, drone strikes in Syria against ISIS, new anti-mine weapon, technology aids law enforcement
In this weekly report (21 October 2014):
- German intelligence: Turkey is working on its own nuclear program
- Gamers hacked US Army Apache simulator
- US launched first drone strikes in Syria against ISIS
- IAI unveils CIMS: Counter Improvised Explosive Devices and Mine Suite
- US law enforcement agencies turn to technology to help maintain their performance
Internet troll? You may be subject to 4 years in prison
A recent story in the Guardian (16.10.2014) reported that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is promoting legislation according to which anyone indicted of internet ‘trolling’ will be subject to four times longer prison sentences. From six months to two years. “Internet trolls spread ‘venom’ on social media, ” said the minister.
Who are these Internet trolls? what is the threat they pose, and perhaps the only threat is to their personal liberty? The i-HLS.com technology desk is setting the record straight.
We all probably know the garden variety Internet troll, even if we do not know him or her to be one. At the end of each story on the news, however painful or troubling, there will always be those whose reactions are sarcastic, cruel, offensive and hurtful.
They are known as ‘talkback writers’. They practically have nearly unlimited scope to vent, release their malice, offend, curse, and hurt people while hiding behind total anonymity.
Where is the fine line between voicing one’s opinion, however unpopular or unconventional, and those who could be indicted and imprisoned for long sentences – allegedly for only having shared their opinion?
There is of course no straight answer to this complex question, predominantly since in this day and age of rapid mass information, any attempts to draw a parallel between virtual life within the blogosphere and real life are hardly simple.
One of the customary tools Internet trolls employ is to masquerade as registered users in forums, and sometimes as public figures by lightly distorting or slightly changing their name or real nickname. Internet trolls tend to write much like the characters they impersonate, and they spread venom, lies, inflammatory remarks and threats by introducing slight variations into pre-written text.
It would seem that impersonating someone else in the cyber world would be the same as in the real world. Nevertheless, opinions are divided. But the greater problem of persecuting an Internet troll is tracing him or her, identifying them, and most difficult of all: tying them to the deed in order to bring them to trial and indicting them successfully.
There is no one way to fight this phenomenon. Sometimes, harsh sentencing, like the one being proposed in Britain, or even extreme sentencing, like in Arizona (up to 25 years in prison) only serve to motivate certain people who have the mental composition and personality which are prone to further provoke the law and law enforcement agencies.
The course most data security companies and experts advise is to ignore Internet trolls altogether. This is probably the most effective method to “take the sting out” of their activity, as they are primarily after inflaming discussions.
Another reason to do more think about the extent of Internet trolls’ sentences, is the degrees lawmakers should have when they are faced with determining a punishment which fits the crime. Given that data and cyber related offences pose an enormous potential for harm, whose scope is something we may not be aware of yet, we should be mindful of some proportion between the act itself – impersonation or unsavory conduct on the one hand and cyber crimes which could bring a nation’s economy crashing down – and the sentence it carries.
l for harm, whose scope is something we may not be aware of yet, we should be mindful of some proportion between the act itself – impersonation or unsavory conduct on the one hand and cyber crimes which could bring a nation’s economy crashing down – and the sentence it carries.
S-Plane launches new UAV control system
UAV company S-Plane from South Africa has unveiled its new Paragon command and control system, able to control multiple UAVs simultaneously.
Paragon was officially launched at the Africa Aerospace and Defense exhibition last month. The system is essentially a 3D world in which unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), waypoints and other metadata are all objects that can be manipulated and controlled graphically by the operator.
UAV sensor data can be viewed and projected onto the map, and as more data is gathered, more detail is added to the map. “This is the first of its kind as far as we know…there has been a lot of interest,” said Dr.. Iain Peddle, Chief Technical Officer at S-Plane.
Paragon allows the operator to control multiple UAVs as well as their payloads and can plot sensor swathe areas so that maximum coverage is obtained by aircraft sensors. This is according to Defense Web. An archiving function allows specific imagery to be reviewed in high definition.
The system can be run on mobile devices such as rugged tables and laptops connecting to S-Plane’s ground data terminals wirelessly for freedom of operation.
Met Police and NCA: UK businesses are not helping fight cyber-crime
Two of the UK’s top cyber crime-fighters have accused financial institutions and other companies of failing to share information about cyberattacks because of ‘mutual suspicion’ between police and the private sector.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Donald Toon, director of the economic crime command at the National Crime Agency (NCA), both told the World Cities Conference in London last Thursday that getting businesses to share evidence of attacks is a vital issue for law enforcement, as it emerged that cyber-crime reports rose 54% in the last year.
Separately, NCA’s Donald Toon told the conference: “There’s a real issue around co-operation between some parts of the private sector and law enforcement. For too long there has been a degree of mutual suspicion.” This, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Toon said UK banks with operations abroad are loathe to share information regarding money laundering and cyber crime, because of national anti-money laundering and national data protection laws.
Hogan-Howe told the conference: “Organizations have control rooms running 24 hours a day to fend off attacks, often against state actors, but rarely will they share that information with the police.
“They say the police will be overwhelmed. I tell them that if they don’t tell us, I can guarantee we won’t do anything about it. It’s vital they share that information with us.”
Hogan-Howe added: “Of course, businesses are concerned about shareholder value, and we’re all concerned that the reputation of our organizations are intact. But the only person who benefits from that confidentiality and that discretion is the criminal who attacks us, or the state actor who may be involved.”
John Walker, visiting professor at Nottingham-Trent University and director of cyber security consultancy ISX told: “They are absolutely spot on. First of all, commercial organizations are not gathering information as they should. It’s one of those black arts which has got to be corrected – because until the commercials all get into a position where they’re feeding into a central repository about the amount of attacks they’re seeing and where they’re coming from, we’ll never get anywhere.
“I’m absolutely sure law enforcement will treat that information with confidentiality. We need to get commercial organizations telling the police and National Crime Agency what’s going on because that is the only way we’re going to get a big picture – and until we get that big picture we will never ever be in a position to curtail this threat.”
Fast draw - Palestinian Statehood
The Palestinians want statehood at any price, and they are counting on the new composition of the UN’s Security Council. A terrorist organization wants to become a nation, even if this would be the product of some international scheme. Dream on.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki says the Palestinian Authority can secure 9 votes of member countries by the end of 2014 and call for the end of the Israeli occupation by November 2016.
The UN Security Council (SC) comprises 15 members, including 5 permanent member states and 10 alternating members which are chosen by region. In the beginning of 2015, 5 new members are expected to join: Spain, New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Angola.
The Palestinians hope the new composition of the SC – which is pro-Palestinian compared with the incumbent one, as it consists of pro-Israeli countries such as Australia and Rwanda – will support their demand that the SC will recognize a Palestinian State. Israel, for its part, is counting on the permanent members’ veto and on the US which would exert its authority against the resolution the Palestinians wish to promote.
So let’s say a resolution calling for Palestinian Statehood does pass, and that the US will not veto it. Does this turn Hamas’s terrorist branch in the West Bank into a state? What is this resolution worth if Israel won’t give them anything as long as they support terror and merely disguise themselves as more moderate compared with the Palestinians in Gaza?
Playing games is for children. If Abu Mazen want to play, let’s send him coupons to Toys R US.
Mounting international effort against Ebola
Reports of expanding international aid to West Africa in the wake of rising Ebola death toll and the spread of the disease are hailing growing US, British and German involvement on the ground.
In addition to the US, Spain, Turkey, and additional countries are regularly sending medical supplies and equipment West Africa. The WHO, the CDC and the EU are doing their best to sound the alarm about the threat, and airports security has been stepped up worldwide, not only in the US. Tougher measures are being taken to screen incoming flights from Africa, given the Ebola mortality rates exceed 70%.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said his country would provide more than 750 troops to help build treatment centers and an Ebola “training academy” in Sierra Leone. Army medics and helicopters will provide direct support. Britain will also contribute an aviation support ship.
British troops are expected to arrive next week in Sierra Leone, where they will join military engineers and planners who have been there for nearly a month helping to construct medical centers.
The German military, which has already been flying material such as protective clothing from Senegal to the worst-hit countries, planned to start a wider deployment of aid in mid-November. The military is expected to set up a clinic for 50 patients.
These forces are expected to operate in tandem with American forces already on the Ground. There are currently nearly 300 US Marines deployed in Liberia, aiding local health workers with logistics missions. The US may send as many as 4000 soldiers to West Africa to aid in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. The US is already considering pulling more forces out of Afghanistan to aid missions in Africa.
Counterfeit parts in military and aviation systems – the problem is getting worse: Part 2
The first part of this story – reviewed the serious situation of having counterfeit electronic parts of dubious quality installed inside critical military and aviation systems.
Israeli experts say the fakes focus predominantly on integrated circuits, which abound in nearly any advanced electronic system. “These items cost between $50 and $1500, and they are mass produced, sometimes in millions of units.”
What motivated the counterfeiters? One expert says these units have a market worth billions of dollars, and the profit margins are high. So it is all very clear when it comes to the side of the fakers. But why do companies buy counterfeit parts?
"When you offer someone a unit that normally costs $200 for $80 or less, this poses a major temptation," says one expert.
Another no less important reason is time to market. Sometimes, acquisition departments are stressed over delays in the chain of production, which could derail an entire project’s timetable. “When a certain supplier guaranteed delivery within weeks this is a big temptation,” explains an Israeli expert.
Another reason is to do with export licenses. Some parts, especially in the defense sector, require export license. Red tape is famously long and laborious worldwide, so if someone offers you these parts without all the paperwork, you take them up on their offer.
The fourth reason the expert cited has to do with military systems’ life cycle. Take a radar system for instance. Its average lifespan is no less than 30 years. Not all manufacturers and subcontractors continue making the same parts for the same system. So system operators have a problem at some point.
The expert also added “there are places in China where hundreds and thousands of workers dismantle outdated electronic systems and remove the electronic parts that can be reused in other systems.” This may sound efficient and economically sound, but it is far from it. Electronic parts are very sensitive to the touch. Sweat or human fat could damage them. Dismantling in China is far from being done in clean conditions, so the parts become faulty.
In addition, counterfeit parts come in various forms. Sometimes, the boxes come in with parts that do not even resemble the drawing on the box. Others come in faulty even though the manufacturer is a known company. How does this happen? The Israeli expert explains the manufacturers carry quality inspections, and the parts which do not meet the standards must be destroyed. “Nevertheless, this is not always done, so sometimes, an entire production series finds its way to the market.”
The problem is also known in Israel, where it is classified as “serious”.
Nowadays, awareness for this problem of counterfeit electronic parts is high worldwide, Israel included, but everyone is of the opinion the flood is so great, the problem cannot eliminated, but only minimized.
Big robot fleet takes to UK waters
A fleet of marine robots is being launched in the largest deployment of its kind in British waters. Unmanned boats and submarines will travel 500km (300 miles) across an area off the southwestern tip of the UK. The aim is to test new technologies and to map marine life in a key fishing ground.
In total, seven autonomous machines are being released in a trial heralded as a new era of robotic research at sea. Two of the crafts are innovative British devices that are designed to operate for months using renewable sources of power including wind and wave energy.
The project, led by the National Oceanography Center, involves more than a dozen research centers and specialist companies.
Data about the oceans is usually gathered by a combination of satellites, buoys and research ships, but all three have limitations in their coverage, and large crewed vessels are particularly expensive.
The motivation for exploring the use of massed robotic vehicles is to assess whether they can provide near-constant coverage at far lower cost – the equivalent of CCTV offering round-the-clock surveillance.
The target for the deployment is an area of ocean marking the boundary between Atlantic waters and tidal waters from the English Channel – what’s known as an ocean front.
Instruments will record key parameters of the ocean, ranging from the concentrations of plankton to the clicks and whistles of dolphins and porpoises. Cameras on the surface vehicles will also attempt to capture images of seabirds and other marine life.
Until now, companies developing robotic vehicles for use at sea have focused on military and commercial customers such as the US Navy and oil and gas companies, and American firms have dominated the market for automated submarines.
The British government’s hope is that the UK may become a leader in unmanned surface machines – robotic boats – which can act as drones gathering information to help weather forecasters or do conservation work.