Sunday, February 25, 2018

Two Intel Teams Have Developed Silicon Based Quantum Computing Chips

There’s another quantum computer to keep track of in this Wild West era of quantum computing research we’re in. And it uses some parts you might already be familiar with.

Researchers from two teams now working with Intel have reported advances in a new quantum computing architecture, called spin qubits, in a pair of papers out today. They’re obviously not the full-purpose quantum computers of the future. But they’ve got a major selling point over other quantum computing designs.

“We made these qubits in silicon chips, similar to what’s used in classical computer processes,” study author Thomas Watson from TU Delft in the Netherlands told me. “The hope is that by doing things this way, we can potentially scale up to larger numbers needed to perform useful quantum computing.”

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Stealth Saga #72

Iranian RQ-170 Copy:

The Iranian knock-offs of the RQ-170 have been involved in an air battle in Syria after a knock-off flew into Israel and then the Israelis retaliated.  An Israeli F-16 was shot down.

Shadow Star:

China's stealthy Shadow Star UCAV is expected to have a first flight in 2019.

Project Azm:

Pakistan is gearing up to attempt to manufacture a 5th gen fighter.  I'd bet there's heavy Chinese help and it looks a lot like the FC-31.


Due to budget issues, Indonesia's participation in the KFX fighter might get rescoped.

UTC will provide the environmental unit for the KFX.

Tornado Replacement:

The F-35 has been (supposedly) very aggressively banned from being considered as the Tornado replacement.  


Two Su-57s appear to have been deployed to Syria (video above).  Not as yet officially confirmed though.  Some are stating this was a very dangerous move.  The Israelis confirmed two are at the airbase in Syria.

Supposedly another two Su-57 have arrived in Syria following the first two.  No second source, just some twitter based pix.  There is a little more info.

The Russians have started weapon integration tests.

Russia will buy no more than 60 Su-57s by 2027.

The Russians have not yet signed the contract for the next 12 Su-57s.  This postpones their delivery to at least 2019.  Also, the Su-57 with the new engines has not flown since December.  The UAC is now saying they DO have a contract for delivery of 19 Su-57s starting in 2019.

The FGFA variant of the Su-57 remains in contract limbo.


China may be struggling to manufacture the J-20.  There may be issues at Chengdu in the manufacturing line.

China reiterated the J-20 is in combat service or, more properly, handed over to combat units.


Has the H-20 bomber been delayed?  Is that why China is mass producing the H-6K still?


As the B-21 bomber comes online, the B-2 will be retired.  The plans are now for the B-2 to be retired in 2032.  (B-1 by 2038, fwiw).  Are the USAF's new bomber plans a violation of the New START nuclear disarmament treaty?

This B-2 replica is how airmen practice arming the monster bomber.

Ten years ago, a B-2 crashed in Guam.


Despite the budget woes, the B-21 remains on schedule. Supposedly.  There are also rumors of multiple prototypes in the air.  No verification on the claim though.

Next Generation Air Dominance/Penetrating Counter Air:

The budget request for the NGAD/PCA 6th generation fighter has risen to half a billion.  There is something definitely afoot.  Demonstrators, perhaps?  There are rumors.

USAF is investing heavily next gen tech to replace the F-15 and F-22.  How the USAF does this is up in the air.

E-8C Joint Stars Replacement:

The JSTARS replacement might be on stealthy aircraft.


The US Air Force is fast tracking Rapid Raptor, a program to have four F-22s be deployable within 24 hours to anywhere in the world.

ADS-B transponders might be a security risk for the F-22.


An F-35 round-up.

The F-35 is getting automatic ground collision avoidance software.

The F-35A's gun still struggles with accuracy.

LRIP 11 negotiations have restarted after over a year hiatus.

All three F-35 variants went through cold-weather testing at Eielsen AFB.

The USAF's 62nd Fighter Wing had its first B Course graduates.

The USAF has named the next bases to get the F-35.

An F-35 in Japan was spotted about to takeoff without its radar reflectors.

The USMC has been testing the F-35B landing on sloped pads.

The Japanese based USMC F-35Bs have made their debut at the Singapore air show.

USMC's 13th MEU with the Essex ARG are deploying with F-35Bs.

The US Navy has ordered the development of a new anti radiation missile that will fit inside the F-35's missile bay.

The US Navy will upgrade its networks to get the most out of the F-35C.

Trump's proposed 2019 budget has 9 F-35Cs, 20 F-35Bs and 48 F-35As.

Belgium has been cleared to buy up to 35 F-35s.

Belgium could still reject the F-35.

The British have their first F-35B graduates that have not flown other fighters first.

India has requested a classified briefing on the F-35A and is expressing interest in procuring 126.

No, Israel wanting to buy more F-15s is not a condemnation of the F-35.

Israel is getting more spare parts through a contract signed by the US Navy for its F-35s.

Lockheed is delivering a special variant of the Block 3F software for Israel's F-35Is.

Italy took delivery of the first F-35B assembled outside the US.

An Italian F-35B arrived at NAS Patuxent River.

Japan has deployed the F-35 to Misawa AFB, apparently AX-6.

Japan and South Korea want the F-35B for their assault ships.  Stratfor takes a gander at the idea.

Japan's Izumo may have been designed from the start to be a jeep carrier.

Japan is considering replacing its F-15Js with F-35Bs.

Japan is looking at an additional buy of 20 to 25 F-35As.

Norway has completed its tests of the braking chute.  Watch here.

Lockheed won a $7.5 million contract mod for the F-35.

Lockheed has denied offering India the F-35.

Lockheed favors future incremental software improvements.


China will equal the West in military air power soon.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sierra Nevada gets Clearance for First DreamChaser Mission to ISS in Late 2020

NASA has given Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) formal approval for the company’s first cargo mission to the International Space Station in late 2020.

SNC announced Feb. 7 that it had received “authority to proceed” on that mission using the company’s Dream Chaser vehicle. The mission will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in late 2020.

The mission is the first of six in the company’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contract it won in 2016 to transport cargo to and from the ISS. SNC received a CRS-2 contract along with current CRS providers Orbital ATK and SpaceX.

“While we won the contract a couple of years ago, the contract still needed to be validated by a task order,” said Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area, in a Feb. 7 speech at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference here. That order, he said, is the “biggest step” to date on the program.

That flight will be a “full scale, fully operational mission,” he said, even though it will represent the first orbital flight of the Dream Chaser. Orbital ATK and SpaceX, who developed their Cygnus and Dragon spacecraft, respectively, under earlier NASA Space Act Agreements, flew demonstration missions before starting their operational CRS cargo flights.

Dream Chaser, which SNC had been developing for NASA’s commercial crew program, will be able to transport up to 5,500 kilograms of cargo to the station. The lifting body vehicle can return up to 2,000 kilograms of cargo from the station, making a runway landing at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility or other airports to enable rapid access to experiments or other time-sensitive cargo after landing.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Russia and China Will Have Operational Anti Satellite Weapons in the Next Few Years

Experts have warned for some time that wars in space are not just Hollywood fiction. And the scenario appears increasingly more likely, according to the latest analysis by the U.S. intelligence community.

“We assess that, if a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would justify attacks against U.S. and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil or commercial space systems,” warns the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, released this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The United States has benefitted from a tidal wave of innovation in the space industry, but so have many other nations. “Foreign countries — particularly China and Russia — will continue to expand their space-based reconnaissance, communications, and navigation systems in terms of the numbers of satellites, the breadth of their capability, and the applications for use,” said the report.

Both Russia and China continue to pursue anti-satellite weapons knowing that, if successfully employed, could undermine U.S. military capabilities, analysts noted. “Russia and China aim to have nondestructive and destructive counter-space weapons available for use during a potential future conflict.”

U.S. intelligence predicts that “destructive” Russian and Chinese anti-satellite weapons probably will reach “initial operational capability in the next few years.” China’s military is setting up specialized units and has begun “initial operational training with counter-space capabilities that it has been developing, such as ground-launched anti-satellite missiles.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Russian Mercenaries are Leading the Attacks on American Troops and Allies in Syria

American forces in Syria, along with their local partners, have now weathered two separate attacks from troops fighting on behalf of dictator Bashar Al Assad, one of which almost certainly involved some number of Russian military personnel or contractors from a company called Wagner. Though the United States soundly defeated its opponents in both cases, the incidents could be another sign of increasingly worrisome tensions with Russia in Syria as the situation in the country careens toward a larger regional conflagration.

On Feb. 13, 2018, U.S. personnel called in a air strike, involving an MQ-9 Reaper drone, to destroy a T-72 tank that had been firing at them and members of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the bulk of which are Kurdish fighters, on the eastern side of the Euphrates River near Syria’s strategic city of Deir ez-Zor.

Almost a week earlier, those same American troops had summoned a massive amount of air and artillery support to brush back approximately 500 pro-Assad fighters and members of Wagner armed with tanks and other heavy weapons who assaulted their positions. The SDF and their U.S. advisers are situated to the east of a formal de-confliction line that is supposed to separate United States and Russian military activities and, by extension, those of their allies, specifically to avoid these sorts of dangerous engagements that could escalate into a larger conflict. The first skirmish reportedly resulted in the deaths of dozens of Russian private military contractors, who often act as deniable stand-ins for the Kremlin’s own forces.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Russia has Successfully Tested a Modernized Missile Defense Interceptor

The Air and Space Forces conducted a successful test launch of a "new modernized interceptor of the Russian missile defense system" at the Sary-Shagan test site. According to a VKS spokesman, the new interceptor has better accuracy and range and extended service life.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Russian MoD has Ordered two Battalions of T-14 Armata Tanks

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov has confirmed an order for two battalions of T-14 main battle tanks (MBTs), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported on its website on 9 February.

The order for the T-14 MBTs and T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) is understood to have been placed in December 2017. Touring the Uralvagonzavod factory in Nizhny Tagil, Russia, Borisov said, “It’s no secret that we already have a contract for trials and combat operations: two battalions of Armata tanks and one battalion of heavy infantry fighting vehicles.” Both vehicles are based on the Armata common platform.

This is, iirc, only 60 tanks and 30 IFVs.

They are for evaluation and extended trials.