It is amazing how any situation can become catastrophic within hours. We were just watching the Olympics and within minutes, we are now on the verge of war. Ukraine is between a rock and a hard place, and although tempted to go west to Europe, half of the country would rather go east to mother Russia. We thoughts the events would manage themselves as they have in the Arab spring revolutions, but that was without Vladimir. As a result, tension has grown with Russia playing the bad boy, Europe trying to remain vocal, and now, the USA are going forward too. The Pentagon says six U.S. F-15 fighter jets have arrived in Lithuania to bolster air patrols over the Baltics as the stand-off over Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine continues. A U.S. warship is also now in the Black Sea to participate in long-planned exercises. The fighter jets and 60 U.S. military personnel landed at Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania, adding to the four F-15s and 150 troops already there to do the air patrol mission. The additional fighters came from RAF Lakenheath in England. The Navy destroyer USS Truxtun is participating in exercises with Romania and Bulgaria and is expected to be in the Black Sea for several days. The U.S. and other Western nations are preparing sanctions against Russia for its recent move to send military troops into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed the sudden inspection of 150,000 or so troops across western Russia were not related to the events in the Ukraine, even though some were undertaken just beyond the Ukrainian border. So are we going to war or is it just a matter of showing who’s got the biggest ?
The Swiss are pushing democracy to a certain point which is quite amazing. They have recently being asked if they wanted more mosques to be built, if they wanted more foreigners to settle in, and now, politicians are saying the Swiss will have a say on their defense. Yes, a referendum will be held in May to ask the Swiss if they want to purchase 22 jet fighters from Sweden. It will cost 3.5Billion USD, so guess what the outcome will be ? This is a very peculiar way to administer a country, and especially, to administer defense, an area where usually citizens do not know the value of their protection. 3 billion dollars is a lot of money, so easy shortcut is simply to say no and lower taxes so they can live better. Not that they are living in dire conditions…
Approved by the government in 2011 and backed by parliament last September, the military deal cannot be blocked as such. But under Switzerland’s rules, opponents can contest the law on funding the purchase by tapping an annual 300 million Swiss francs from the military’s budget over 10 years.
The coalition campaigning against the deal is steered by the left-leaning Socialists and Greens, plus anti-militarists who last year lost in a referendum in which voters bucked a European trend and kept their conscription army. But the Gripen’s adversaries also include economic liberals opposed to the price tag. The opponents also say the chosen Gripen model exists on paper, as its maker, Sweden’s Saab, is still developing it. The Gripen fighters, however, are meant to replace Switzerland’s 54 F-5 Tigers, built by US group Northrop. “More than three decades old, they do not meet current operational requirements,” according to the air force.
So we will see in May what good comes out of this referendum, but it is fair to say that when politicians abandon guidance to make sure they can remain in place, these sorts of things happen. We can understand the price tag is expensive but surely, politicians are elected to deal with these sorts of matters. That’s democracy the Swiss way, pushed to the limits.
Ever wanted to experience something truly unique ? We love this experience so much: a real dogfight, in the air, with two aircrafts equipped with laser guns and smoke systems. The result is a day of great fun! Check out the video:
You can get more information by following this link: air combat
It is well known that rain is a pain, especially when driving. Windscreen wipers are not always that efficient. But now, cars will get the latest technology from jet fighters to wipe the rain out. Indeed, Jet fighter technology that fires ultrasonic soundwaves over windscreens to keep off rain could end the car wiper blade’s 100-year reign. Supercar maker McLaren is said to have a system that is due to arrive after 2015. And it would be cheap as It could cost as little as £10. Prof Paul Wilcox of Bristol University said the vibration would not be visible as it is at “nanometer level”. McLaren called the wiper, created in 1903, “archaic”. Its system may improve fuel efficiency without the weight of wipe motors. McLaren’s chief designer Frank Stephenson said: “It took a lot of effort to get this out of a source in the military. “I asked why you don’t see wipers on some aircraft when they are coming in at very low speeds for landing. “I was told that it’s not a coating on the surface but a high frequency electronic system that never fails and is constantly active. “Nothing will attach to the windscreen.” The pioneering system is similar to technology used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth and doctors scanning unborn babies. Removing wipers could improve cars’ fuel economy without the weight of wiper motors.
So, there is a lot of noise about 3D printing. Many in the US are strongly opposed to letting anyone use 3d printers, especially as they fear the technology will be used to build firearms. However, the recent example of what the UK’s Royal Air Force has accomplished is stunning. Britain’s Royal Air Force have for the first time test flown a tornado fighter jet using parts made with a 3D printer. BAE Systems confirmed on Monday that some of the metal components used to build the metal bird on the sky were simple print outs using a 3D technology. BAE test flew the Tornado aircraft from the defense firm’s airfield at Warton in Lancashire last month.
Using 3D technology to produce parts will not only cut down production cost but also greatly reduce the maintenance cost of the machines. RAF said on Monday that using 3D to produce parts will cut down maintenance and service bill by £1.2m over four years. BAE engineers have now started to produce the parts for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft at RAF Marham in Norfolk. The breakthrough has ensured that some parts will cost less than £100. This is a massive cost reduction!
Mike Murray, head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, said: “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers. “And if it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support.”
Well, 2014 surely starts in a very interesting way. Best wishes to you all!
Brazil is really starting to mess up with France, and it starts to show. Is it revenge for the 1998 world cup? Well, Brazil has its reasons, and Dassault’s Rafale remains one of the most expensive fighter jets, still not sold outside of France. France’s President François Hollande visited Brazil last week, and he was in for an unpleasant surprise. Brazil announced on Saturday that France isn’t getting the big contract that Hollande was pushing — a multibillion-dollar deal for new fighter jets. Contrary to what seemed to be confirmed, the French are now out of a three-way race they once seemed poised to win. The decision comes as a surprise, since France’s Rafale fighter jets were former President Luiz Inácio de Lula’s favorite option to replace Brazil’s current fighter jet, the Mirage, also a French product. Nevertheless, since the offer was made in 2009, both governments have changed leaders and Brazil’s finances have hit the skids. Brazil said no to France because of costs. This also goes to show how uncompetitive France has become, including on the technological front. More worrying, France has traditionally be at the forefront of technological innovation and especially in the aeronautical industry, building champions such as Dassault and Airbus. Although Airbus remains in the competition, mainly because it is European, the military arm of Dassault is getting into trouble. With Brazil seeking to retire its Mirage 2000 jets at the end of the year, France has been pushing the merits of the Rafale, initially believing it had a deal under Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Rousseff’s predecessor, Lula da Silva, had said in 2009 that Brazil would plump for the Rafale but he left office before a deal could be put together and Rousseff then decided to reassess the options. Some will say also that dropping the French bid demonstrates the lack of charisma of President Hollande. Brazil will now weighs the bids between the F-18 and the Gripen, which is a lot more cheaper.
Santa will be escorted by a fighter jet this year. That’s a first which is creating a bit of a stir. The NORAD website each December posts videos of Santa Claus entering different countries and cities around the world. This year, some of the videos will show fighter planes escorting the sleigh, a decision that has drawn criticism from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others. But a senior defense official traveling this week with Secretary Chuck Hagel as he visited Bahrain said the military escorts for Santa are necessary given “the proliferation of air defense identification zones.” China, of course, announced last month it would require aircraft flying over disputed islands in the East China Sea to comply with a new air defense identification zone, filing flight plans with Beijing. The move has been challenged by the U.S., which flew B-52 bombers into the zone without notifying Beijing. On a subsequent flight of American surveillance aircraft into the zone, China scrambled its own fighter jets. “While we track Santa around the world, NORAD only provides escorts while he is in North American aerospace,” he said. “Japan does not provide similar escorts that we are aware of.” Given that there are no children on the disputed islands – they are uninhabited — it seems unlikely that Santa will actually pass over the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Drones are everywhere, even Amazon is getting into the drone business for faster delivery. However, if the US online retailer is considering drones for civil use, some countries are now resenting having them hover over their heads. And that would be understandable since most drones in the skies are military, and some are specifically designed to target and kill. The US have become specialists in this field. And unfortunately, Pakistan and Afghanistan have become the preferred targets. As a result, thousands of people rallied in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore Sunday in protest at continued US drone strikes in the country’s troubled northwest. Around 5,000 protesters chanted anti-US slogans and called for an immediate end to the drone strikes at the rally organized by the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), a coalition of around 40 religious groups. DPC chief Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, in a televised address to the rally, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come under US pressure and was not expected to play a positive role in getting the drone strikes stopped. He appealed to all political parties, religious scholars and members of civil society to unite against the attacks. Since 2004 the United States has carried out hundreds of drone missile attacks on suspected militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. But at the same time, hundreds of civilians have died in the attacks, according to various estimates, prompting outrage in Pakistan and abroad.
And this is in this context that Iran unveiled a missile-equipped drone with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles), the official IRNA news agency reported. “The Fotros drone has an operational range of 2,000 kilometres and can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet, with a flight time of 16 to 30 hours,” Defence Minister Mohammad Dehgan was quoted as saying. Dehgan said the new drone could carry out reconnaissance missions or launch air-to-surface missile strikes. This of course will expectantly increase tensions in the Middle East, and Israel will be one step closer to striking Iran on its own. Most will argue that drones are a good thing, as they avoid added casualties and they can be specifically targeted. But interestingly, the pilots are now also starting to complain. The reason mainly is that they don’t feel they are at war, when they are effectively engaging in acts of war. Some pilots in Nevada have complained that they are losing touch with the reality of what they do because they can’t see or feel the results of their actions. It should be known that pilots can fly the drones like going to the office. Some are safe in the US, stopping at Starbucks for coffee before going to work, and then flying the drone, sometimes killing a target, and then going back home at the end of the day, sipping a beer by the pool. Most army men would imagine it to be the perfect way to fight, but these pilots do not, because their job is too virtual. How about that ?
China joins the US, the UK and France in successfully flying a stealth combat drone. Indeed, China has tested its first stealth combat drone, state media said Friday, citing online photos of an aircraft resembling a shrunken US B2 bomber and hailing the advance toward Western-level technology. Lijian, or “sharp sword” in English, aced its first test flight in southwest China, making the People’s Republic of China the fourth nation to successfully fly a stealth unmanned aerial vehicle. The test flight lasted nearly 20 minutes, according to accounts on cjdby.net, a Chinese military forum, and later picked up by the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency and the South China Morning Post. “The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,” the China Daily newspaper said, adding the flight made China the “fourth power… capable of putting a stealth drone into the sky”. The Sharp Sword might be intended for eventual use with the aircraft carrier and for “long endurance” surveillance missions. This demonstrates the enormous investment that China is making toward building a world class level of military power. This type of aircraft “will greatly complicate the defense” of other countries. The drone, which is capable of flying undetected at high altitudes while providing high-resolution video and other intelligence, will let maritime departments keep abreast of developments in the East and South China seas and will help Beijing make accurate decisions when dealing with territorial disputes with its neighbors. This was said by a Chinese official in a newspaper. Well Japan will be thrilled…