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Monday, January 31, 2011

Court Sentences Spy Who Sold Stealth Bomber Secrets to China

Mr. Gowadia helped designed the stealth and propulsion systems of the B-2 bomber, while at Northrop Grumman. But in 1999 he found a consulting firm and began selling his secrets to foreign nations, including China.

Mr. Gowadia's defense lawyers claimed he suffered from a mental illness -- narcissistic personality disorder. A federal magistrate threw out that claim. (Source: USAF)The 66-year-old Indian-born spy received a sentence of 32 years in prison

The Cold War may be over, but the art of spying is far from dead. If the recent case of Anna Chapman -- a Russian vixen turned super-spy -- wasn't reminder enough, we have the case of Noshir Gowadia, a convicted Hawaiian-based spy who sold U.S. Air Force secrets to China.

I. From Top Engineer to Dangerous Spy

This man, now 66 years old, was born in India but immigrated to the U.S., starting a new life as a professional engineer. At his new work he gained access to some our nation's most valuable secrets. The man in fact designed those secrets while working with top military contractor Northrop Grumman.
Mr. Gowadia, billed himself as "father of the technology that protects the B-2 stealth bomber from heat-seeking missiles". He was among the principle design engineers working on the B-2's propulsion system during his career with Northrop that lasted from 1968 to 1986.

In the late 1990s, he struck out on his own, founding a consulting firm in 1999 dubbed "Gowadia, Inc."

Over the next five years he reportedly proceeded to try to sell foreign operatives our nation's stealth secrets, some of which he concocted. He sent information to operatives from Germany, Israel, and Switzerland.

And his biggest transaction was his transmission of a wealth of data to the People's Republic of China. That transaction allowed China to jump-start its stealth aerospace efforts and design a stealth missile. It also netted Mr. Gowadia $110,000 USD, which he used pay off his mortgage on a luxury home on the island of Maui.

But that gain would result in a far greater loss, the loss of his freedom.

II. The Arrest

In 2005, Mr. Gowdia was arrested after the CIA and FBI analyzed his communications. Federal authorities raided Mr. Gowdia's penthouse only to discover documents showing his communication of state secrets to eight separate nations. Mr Gowdia admitted to sending the classified information, but said he only did so to "to establish the technological credibility with the potential customers for future business."

The U.S. government clearly didn't buy that excuse. They charged Mr. Gowdia with 18 counts, including espionage charges, charges about the transmission of classified documents to a foreign state, charges stemming from his role in designing Chinese stealth missiles, and money laundering charges.

The trial dragged on through 2007 as Mr. Gowdia's defense team insisted they needed access to classified materials in order to give a proper defense. Once they obtained those materials after a thorough security screening, the trial was further delayed, as the defense claimed Mr. Gowdia was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. The defense brought in Richard Rogers, a forensic psychology professor at the University of North Texas, and Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Francisco to testify about Mr. Gowdia's supposed condition.

On November 20, 2009, a federal magistrate ruled that the experts' testimony was not credible. U.S. Magistrate Kevin S.C. Chang wrote that just because the defendant couldn't communicate well with his defense team didn't mean he was incompetent and unable to stand trial, as the defense claimed.

III. The Sentence

After a three-month jury trial, Mr. Gowdia was finally found guilty of 14 out of 17 charges, with a verdict arriving August 9, 2010. Sentencing was delayed until this week. While Mr. Gowdia faced up to a life sentence in prison, he was sentenced to a slightly lesser sentence of 32 years in federal prison.

Assistant US Attorney Ken Sorenson who prosecuted the case told the Associated Press that he was "a little disappointed" with the sentence. "But 32 years is stiff and in many ways an appropriate sentence for him. We're confident the message is sent that when you compromise US national security, when you disclose national defense secrets, when you profit by US national defense information, that you will be punished, you will be pursued, you will be convicted," Sorenson continued.

If he lives long enough, he may eventually see parole, but Mr. Gowdia likely will spend most of the remainder of his life behind bars.

His family claims that he is innocent and is fighting to appeal the decision. States his son, Ashton, to the Associated Press, "My father would never, ever do anything to intentionally to hurt this country. We hope the convictions will be overturned and he'll be able to go home."

In a similar case, an elderly Chinese spy working at Boeing was recently sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

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Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber USAF Aerospace Power

China set to bid on major US aerospace programmes

By Jon Grevatt
Non-Subscriber Extract

Chinese President Hu Jintao's high-profile visit to the US looks set to be followed by ambitious bids from China to supply platforms to meet two major US military aircraft procurement programmes.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is preparing proposals, in partnership with existing partner US aviation services group US Aerospace (USAE), to bid for the US Navy's VXX helicopter programme and the US Air Force T-X project to procure advanced jet trainers (AJT).

A lawyer who represents USAE in its dealings with AVIC, John C Kirkland – a partner at California law firm Luce Forward -–revealed to Jane's on 21 January that in both proposals AVIC would supply what would be regarded as civilian aircraft platforms that would be upgraded in the US with military avionics and, in the case of the T-X, a fire control system. Such manufacturing programmes would be facilitated under a USAE-AVIC strategic partnership that was formed in September 2010.


In the VXX programme, which was revived by Washington in February 2010 after being cancelled in 2009 because of cost overruns, the partnership are planning to bid with AVIC's 13-tonne AC-313 medium-lift transport helicopter, which is principally designed for civilian use. In the T-X programme, the bid would focus on AVIC's twin-engine L-15 Falcon AJT. In addition, USAE and AVIC are planning to market the Chinese-produced C919 jet airliner in the US as a business jet as well as a regional aircraft.

The VXX programme is worth about USD6 billion and, if USAE-AVIC bids for the contract, it is likely to be up against the AgustaWestland AW101 and the Sikorsky S-92 medium-lift helicopters. The USN is expected to procure more than 20 platforms to replace the existing Sikorsky VH-3 and VH-60 helicopters from around 2017.

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Cote Says U.S. Must Compete, Not Complain About China

Chinese man jailed for 8 years illegally exporting US military equipment

Washington, (ANI): A US court has sent a Chinese man to jail for eight years for illegally exporting military electronics components to a China.

Zhen Zhou Wu, 46, is said to have made multiple visits to the United States to buy components used in radars and missile systems which he then exported to China via Hong Kong using forged papers to evade the US arms embargo to China imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings.

According to The Telegraph, he is the second Chinese to be sentenced in America this week for illegally transferring military technology to China.

Earlier, a 66-year-old former B-2 Stealth Bomber engineer was jailed for 32 years for selling military secrets to be used in the development of a Chinese cruise missile.

A US Congressional commission on US-China affairs warned in 2009 that Chinese spying in American was becoming increasingly aggressive and "growing in scale, intensity and sophistication."

Zhen's sentencing comes just days after China's president Hu Jintao completed a state visit to American which analysts billed as chance to "re-set" US-China relations that have become severely strained over the past year.

China has persistently claimed it intends to have a "peaceful rise", however the US has expressed growing concerns that However, China's rapid military modernization - including developing new fighters, an aircraft carrier and a carrier-killing missile - appears at-odds with that stated policy. (ANI)

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Counterfeit Electronic Component Avoidance and Detection by North Shore Components

Soldiers to get more killing power

New Zealand
The country's soldiers are about to get more killing power with a new weapon which will better the range and accuracy of the rifles used by the enemies they are likely to be fighting.

A 7.62mm marksman's rifle will be issued to each section of eight to 10 soldiers after the New Zealand Defence Force completed a study of 10 of its weapons systems, mostly small arms issued to soldiers.

Three sections make up a platoon and the army said today one soldier in each section would get the new weapon when the army decided what rifle to buy. The rest of the soldiers in the section would continue to be issued with Steyr rifles which fire a 5.56mm standard issue Nato cartridge which was limited in range, said Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier Dave Gawn.

The new rifle would fire a more powerful cartridge with greater range and accuracy.

Brig Gawn said most hostile forces used the Russian-designed AK47, which fired a similar 7.62mm round.

"In terms of range and hitting power there is a mismatch between the 5.56mm (bullet) which has a maximum range of around 300m versus the 7.62mm which is closer to 600m."

He said giving the soldiers more powerful 5.56mm cartridges would overcome some of that difference but the new weapon would have a range of up to 1000m.

The army would also replace its specialist 7.62mm sniper rifles.

About 3000 of the 13,000 Steyr rifles in the Defence Force armory would be fitted with a new sighting system, which would increase magnification from 1.5 times to four times magnification. They would also be modified to allow thermal sighting systems to be fitted.

The Steyr rifles were likely to last another 10 years before they were replaced, but Brig Gawn said it was too soon to say what calibre rifle would be adopted.

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STEYR AUG assault rifle

Airbus develops new, fuel-efficient taxiing system

Written by Guy
Airbus has developed a new taxiing system which uses electrically-driven wheels in order to reduce fuel consumption during ground operations. The patented system will be used on its A320 family.

Airbus announced earlier this month that it has developed an eco-efficient alternative to using jet engine thrust for ground taxiing operations, which is highly inefficient as the engines run but the aircraft does not move very far. Aircraft spend a high proportion of overall flight time on the ground taxiing, with engines running at idle and below optimal conditions, Airbus says. Indeed, for short haul flights of 60-90 minutes, up to a third of third of total trip time may be spent on the ground.

The new system relies on electrically-driven wheels rather than the engines to move the aircraft. The Airbus-developed solution is simple: an electric actuator, powered by the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU), drives the landing gear’s wheels. As the APU runs on kerosene, fuel consumption is expected to be five times less than it would be with engine power – saving as much as 200 kilograms of fuel per flight.

In addition, this alternative delivers a feature much requested by airlines: the aircraft can reverse back from the boarding gate by itself, as no tug is required.

“Autonomous taxiing and tug-free push-back are hugely attractive to aircraft operators, giving Airbus a competitive advantage,” said Airbus research and technology engineer Jérémy Bedarrides, who took part in the system’s development. “With the deployment window we have and the patents we hold, we are ready to support Airbus' leadership in innovation.”

Apart from fuel-saving benefits, the new technology will result in quieter airport operations and fewer ground vehicles. As an airliner would be independent of ground manoeuvring vehicles, turnaround times would be faster and operations would be cheaper.

Design and implementation for the project, involving Airbus’ Engineering and Procurement department, is progressing in two concurrent stages. The demonstration phase is scheduled to close in 2012 with completion of the prototype electric wheel actuator. In parallel, the modified APU and power systems will be tested on the Airbus electrical test bench, with full-scale rolling tests to begin in 2013. If all goes as planned, initial flight tests will take place the following year.

In theory it would be possible to spin up the wheels before landing using this system, thus extending tyre life dramatically because the stationary tyres would not initially slide and smoke on the runway at the point of touchdown. Airliner tyres are changed after between a hundred and several thousands landings, according to maintainers and pilots.

Similarly, in May last year Delos Aerospace announced it holds two patents for a system for reducing aircraft fuel burn through the use of in-wheel electric motors/generators. As an aircraft landed, it would use the electrical generators to brake, as conventional, heat-inducing brakes would be discarded. The regenerative braking system would convert the breaking motion into electricity, which would be stored and used when the aircraft manoeuvres on the ground. The benefits include reduced engine wear, faster breaking and longer tyre life if the tyres are spun up before landing.

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Maximus buys three JAL planes

Rory Jones
Maximus Air Cargo, the UAE's largest cargo aircraft operator, yesterday announced a major expansion of its fleet.

The company, which owns eight planes, is in the process of buying three Airbus passenger aircraft from the international carrier Japan Airlines for a total investment of Dh350 million (US$95.2m).

The new aircraft are intended to be used to further the cargo operator's rapid expansion after total flying time last year rose 23 per cent compared with the year before.

Fathi Buhazza, the chief executive of Maximus, said the company was now ready for the extra workload having built the necessary "know-how and understanding" for this type of aircraft.

Offering 48 tonnes of load capacity, the three Airbus A300-600 jets will be first sent to Dresden, Germany, to be converted into freighters at the repair and maintenance centre run by the pan-European aerospace and defence manufacturer EADS.

The Maximus purchase is part of a strategic move by the operator to offer more cargo planes to customers on lease for a fixed term. The company will lease the three aircraft to airlines, complete with engineering crew, maintenance personnel and insurance.

Leasing planes is a low-margin business for Maximus, but it provides a stable income as airlines are charged a minimum price for the lease whether or not the planes fly.

Etihad Airways currently leases two planes from Maximus and Mr Buhazza hopes to offer the new aircraft to the Abu Dhabi carrier first.

Maximus also provides a charter service on an ad-hoc basis, transporting livestock such as horses, or heavy loads such as trains.

Although chartering is highly profitable, the work is less predictable than leasing, so the chief executive aims to buy more planes for leasing in the future.

The addition of the Japan Airlines planes will see Maximus become the world's largest provider of leasing services, also called aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) services, for this type of aircraft.

Saj Ahmad, the aerospace analyst at FBE Aerospace, said the A300-600 offered good value for money."Being able to acquire three newer jets gives Maximus added growth for the next 10 years or more through more regular ACMI-based business, reducing their exposure to any volatility in the air-freight market, which is still far from stable," he said.

Local and international banks are being tapped to finance the purchase of the three planes, which were built in 2001 and 2002.

Maximus' revenues and profits more than doubled over the past three reported financial years and Mr Buhazza said the strong performance continued last year as revenues grew 16 per cent to Dh430 million on 2009.

Once the new aircraft are brought into service in July, September and November, he expects next year's profits to be materially higher.

"We can now offer cargo agents and freight forwarders a wider choice of cities for their shipments," Mr Buhazza said.

Maximus is owned by ADA Group, which was established in 2005 and includes the private aircraft operator Royal Jet and Abu Dhabi Aviation, the commercial helicopter operator.

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UBMA: Dubai Airshow 2009 - Maximus Air Cargo Interview


TaxiBot™ is a pilot-controlled semi-robotic towing system. Developed jointly by IAI's Lahav Division and Airbus it is an innovative environmentally-friendly Dispatch Towing system, that allows airplanes to taxi to and from the airport gate to the runway without the need to operate their jet engines.

By Andy Choi

Lufthansa and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) successfully conducted an operating test for the TaxiBot™ used with a B747-400 to demonstrate its ability under typical taxiing conditions at the Frankfurt International Airport.

During the demonstration, following TaxiBot™ push-back, all taxiing processes were controlled by the aircraft's pilots from the cockpit, using the normal tiller and braking pedals just as in regular airplane taxiing. The TaxiBot's™ special control system controlled the load on the aircraft's Nose Landing Gear (NLG) in real time, maintaining it within a pre-calculated envelope, such that there is an insignificant fatigue effect on the NLG. Despite the severe weather conditions which prevailed during the Frankfurt test, the demonstrator system showed excellent capabilities and successfully maintained the defined envelope.

After the test, Bernd Pfeffer, a Lufthansa B747 pilot said: "The overall impression is very good, and better than I expected. Steering the aircraft using the TaxiBot™ with all kinds of turns was absolutely to my liking in addition to the accelerating and braking capabilities that were good. A big advantage of using the TaxiBot™ is on icy or slippery surfaces where traction is now better, and safety is increased when turning. I wouldn't change anything at all".

Itzhak Nissan, IAI's CEO said," The TaxiBot™ development is naturally integrated in IAI's policy regarding new business areas such as ground robotics, and renewable energy ."

The test, conducted on a Lufthansa commercial B747-400 aircraft, followed a test in Toulouse on an Airbus A340-600 test aircraft, conducted by Airbus and IAI during the second quarter of 2010 that showed promising results.

Yehoshua (Shuki) Eldar, IAI's Corporate VP, Business Development and Subsidiaries, commented: "The successful B747-400 Frankfurt test joins the Toulouse A340 test in showing that IAI’s innovative concept can help airliners save large amounts of fuel and help airports around the world reduce their annual fuel costs, noise and CO2 emissions by a significant margin."
With the conclusion of the B747 test, the TaxiBot™ demonstrator exhibited successful performance of dispatch towing missions with both Airbus and Boeing aircraft, which represent the bulk of commercial aircraft in current use.

The TaxiBot™ program was launched in mid-2008 with the contribution of a Lufthansa LEOS Krauss-Maffie TPS-1 which became IAI's base vehicle for the TaxiBot™ concept demonstrator. The Frankfurt test is yet another milestone it has achieved.

From the start of the program, Lufthansa LEOS supported the TaxiBot™ team consisting of IAI, Airbus, TLD, a French world leader in the manufacture of Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Ricardo (a British vehicle engineering designer) and it was therefore only natural that the TPS-1 vehicle would return to its home base, with its new design and state-of-the-art technologies, to lead the way in proving the concept of such an innovative program as TaxiBot.

Current work is continuing to develop a TaxiBot™ prototype vehicle for Narrow Body airplanes, such as the A320 and B737 families.

The second quarter of 2011has more demonstrator tests scheduled on Airbus aircraft are for, to allow various operational and technical conclusions to be reached regarding prototype development and bringing the system design to maturity prior to commercial production.


Taxibot Demo - Dunsfold UK

Boeing Holders Ride Out 787 Woes to Prepare for Payoff on Debut

Boeing Co. ended 2010 with delays for its two marquee jets, upheaval in its $35 billion tanker bid and a canceled defense contract. The same year, the shares almost doubled the gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Even with a likely drop in quarterly profit tomorrow, investors are looking past setbacks on the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 and positioning themselves to benefit from the planes’ entry into service, said David Rowlett, an analyst at T. Rowe Price Group Inc., which owns 7.1 million Boeing shares.

Boeing’s outlook is “very positive” once deliveries begin for the 787, now more than three years behind schedule, he said. Demand for the 737 and 777, which produce most of the company’s commercial-jet revenue, has been so strong that Chicago-based Boeing plans to boost output through 2013 to record levels.

“People generally want to own the stock,” Rowlett said in an interview. “The 787 situation has been no doubt frustrating, but investors don’t want to hold grudges about past mistakes too long when a stock offers enough upside going forward.”

Adjusted fourth-quarter earnings may be $1.11 a share, down from $1.79 a year earlier, the average of 22 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Full-year net income probably more than doubled to $2.99 billion, based on analysts’ projections, as improved production helped Boeing avoid financial charges for its delays.

Boeing fell 49 cents to $72.24 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have jumped 25 percent in the past 12 months, and their 21 percent climb in 2010 beat the Dow’s 11 percent.

Dreamliner Focus

While the latest variant of Boeing’s 747 jumbo jet also is running a year and a half late, attention among analysts and within the industry has focused on the Dreamliner, the first jetliner built chiefly from plastic composites. It is Boeing’s best-selling new aircraft, with 847 advance orders.

“You’ve got a large, troubled development program that’s the primary concern, and it’s a big overhang on the stock,” Rowlett said. “At some point the 787 will get delivered and production will ramp up. Investors want to be there when that happens. That’s what keeps them interested.”

Boeing offers the industry’s best potential gains in 2011, provided the 787 arrives as promised, said Ken Herbert of Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, who is among 20 analysts who recommend buying the stock. Eight say hold and two say sell.

After the first delivery of each new model in the past two decades, Boeing outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by an average of 8.1 percent three months later, Herbert said in an interview. Boeing’s advantage rose to 14 percent a year after each new jet’s debut.

Scarcity Value

“Scarcity value” also compels investors to stick with Boeing, Herbert and Rowlett said.

Only a handful of U.S. aerospace companies have a market value topping $10 billion, including Boeing, Precision Castparts Corp. and Goodrich Corp. That means options are limited for funds that invest only in large companies and want to buy aerospace shares, Rowlett said. The S&P 500 Aerospace & Defense Index has risen 20 percent in the past 12 months.

“We are approaching an up cycle, and if you want to get in the middle of that, now’s the right time to do it,” said Clay Jones, chief executive officer of cockpit-controls maker Rockwell Collins Inc., a Boeing supplier.

In October, Boeing said 2010 earnings would more than double to as much as $4 a share on sales that may reach $65.5 billion. Boeing’s orders more than tripled in 2010, swelling its backlog to 7 1/2 years, as demand recovered from the recession.

Aerospace Cycle

“If Boeing can, for once, avoid further problems on the 787 and enjoy the fruits of this aerospace cycle, that’s what investors are buying into,” Rob Stallard, an RBC Capital Markets analyst in New York who recommends buying the stock, said in an interview.

Challenges remain for Boeing, which faces a “difficult” time with its defense business as the U.S. government scales back spending, Douglas Harned, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, wrote in a note yesterday. He rates the shares as “market perform.”

The Air Force still hasn’t decided between Boeing and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. for its new aerial tanker, and the Senate Armed Services Committee plans a Jan. 27 hearing into the service’s inadvertent disclosure of each rival’s bid data late last year.

The Department of Homeland Security canceled Boeing’s SBInet “virtual fence” program for the U.S.-Mexico border, and lawmakers said in a Jan. 12 report that Boeing’s battlefield communications system for the Army is expensive and unreliable.

New Timetable

Shareholders got better news on Jan. 18, when Boeing unveiled the new timetable for the Dreamliner’s first delivery after a Nov. 9 fire grounded the six-plane test fleet and forced engineering changes.

The latest reverse shouldn’t hurt 2010 earnings, Boeing said. The stock rose 3.4 percent amid investors’ relief that the latest delay only amounted to a six-month postponement, to the third quarter. The original target was May 2008.

“The 787 has been a wild card for many of us for a long time,” said Jones, the Rockwell Collins CEO. “Ultimately the plane will be built, and when it does, it will be a positive to the company and will relieve the negative burden that has weighed on it. As you get toward the finish line, it boosts investor confidence.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Susanna Ray in Seattle at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at

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Solid State Laser Programs On Track for 2013 Field Tests

Hellad [High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System] program small [size of a large refrigerator and about 1650 pounds] 150KW lasers are working to ground tests in 2011 and will include a demonstration of the system's ability to shoot down two SA-10-class surface-to-air missiles in flight simultaneously. "We want as realistic a tactical environment as possible," says Woodbury. "The next step is to line up support for an airborne demonstration. The system will be ready in 2012, and we could see a demo in 2012-13."

What's Inside Darpa's $21 Million 'Liquid' Laser?

The goal of the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program is to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. With a weight goal of < 5 kg/kW, HELLADS will enable high-energy lasers (HELs) to be integrated onto tactical aircraft and will significantly increase engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems. The HELLADS program has completed the design and demonstration of a revolutionary subscale high-energy laser that supports the goal of a lightweight and compact high energy laser weapon system. An objective unit cell laser module with integrated power and thermal management is being designed and fabricated and will demonstrate an output power of >34 kW. A test cell that represents one-half of the unit cell laser has been fabricated and used to characterize system losses and diode performance and reliability. The test cell is being expanded to a unit cell. Based on the results of the unit cell demonstration, additional laser modules will be fabricated to produce a 150 kW laser that will be demonstrated in a laboratory environment. The 150 kW laser will then be integrated with an existing beam control capability to produce a laser weapon system demonstrator. The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets will be demonstrated.

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Top 5 Military Research Projects

Metaflex, a material for invisible cloaks

Invisible cloaks outside of the confines of a movie may be just around the corner. Scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have created a new material they are calling Metaflex that can bend and channel light.

Such materials have been created before, but Metaflex is significant because it not only allows manipulation of light, but it can also be used on a flexible surface. Until now similar metamaterials have only been possible on a hard, rigid surface.

Adding flexibility means that an invisible cloak could eventually be made. More practically, it means making clothing that allows the wearer to turn invisible will be easier to manufacture.

Writing about Metaflex in the New Journal of Physics the researchers said:

Arguably, one of the most exciting applications of Metaflex is to fabricate three-dimensional flexible MMs (metamaterials) in the optical range, which can be achieved by stacking several Metaflex membranes on top of one another.

These results confirm that it is possible to realise MMs on flexible substrates and operating in the visible regime, which we believe are ideal building blocks for future generations of three-dimensional flexible MMs at optical wavelengths.

Metaflex may bring to mind images of walking around invisible, but it also has applications for producing much better lenses called superlenses. It also opens the way for new projects to research what other uses Metaflex could have in different fields.

Matthew’s Opinion

The military will be all over this research and offering bags of money to be the first and exclusive beneficiaries of the final product. A soldier that is invisible is a lot harder to kill after all.

There is a dilemma faced if this technology ever became good enough to render someone completely invisible. Do you make it publicly available? While the initial wow factor would mean it sold very well, it would also lead to problems due to lots of people walking around completely invisible. There would be more traffic accidents, more (less?) cases of stalking, thieves would have a field day, and there would be cries for regulation and a ban.

There’s still a long way to go before such a development ever happens, but when and if it does I suspect you’ll never see an invisible cloak for sale in your local clothes store.

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How to Become Invisible 1/3


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Boeing says learned from outsourcing issues with 787

(Reuters) -
By Kyle Peterson

EVERETT, Washington (Reuters) - On a blustery and drizzly December afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, about 20 airplanes sat engineless and inert near the runway at a Boeing manufacturing plant. Huge, yellow blocks hung from the wings of some planes to substitute for the weight of absent engines.

Every few minutes, the heavy clouds parted to give a glimpse of blue skies over Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle. Then new clouds rolled in.

The parked planes are 787-8 Dreamliners, the world's first commercial aircraft with a body and wings made largely of lightweight carbon-composite materials instead of aluminum. Someday these sleek, fuel-efficient machines -- already painted in the liveries of their airline customers -- may change the face of air travel and plane-making.

But not today.

The program that produced these unfinished 787s is nearly three years behind schedule and, by some estimates, at least several billion dollars over budget. Dreamliner flight tests were halted in November after an electrical fire aboard a test plane. The tests resumed in December, and the company later announced yet another delay for the delivery schedule. The new ETA is sometime this summer.

About 45 miles away in south Seattle, members of Boeing's work force gathered at a union hall for a monthly lodge meeting, a holiday party and a chance to lament the seismic shift in plane-making strategy they say the Dreamliner represents.

The 787 is not merely a historic feat of engineering. The program also marks Boeing's departure from its own time-honored manufacturing practices.

Instead of drawing primarily from its traditional pool of aircraft engineers, mechanics and laborers that runs generations deep in the Puget Sound region around Seattle, Boeing leads an international team of suppliers and engineers from the United States, Japan, Italy, Australia, France and elsewhere, who make components that Boeing workers in the United States put together.

"Do you see the stupidity in that?" said James Williams, an imposing 43-year-old who has been employed by Boeing for 15 years, mostly working in factory safety.

Williams, whose father worked at Boeing for more than three decades, is just one of many in the company who blame the repeated Dreamliner delays on a splintered engineering strategy and a complex supply chain of about 50 partners.

Boeing itself has acknowledged that the system needs tweaking, and the company promises to bring more of the design work back in-house for the upcoming 787-9 model. But Boeing defends its reliance on outside partners, saying their work and investments made the Dreamliner possible.

"It is true that supplier involvement in the development and design of the 787 is significant," the company said in an emailed response to Reuters questions. "Suppliers helped us develop and understand technologies and options for the airplane as we went through the early phases of concept development. Suppliers have also provided more of their own development, design and manufacturing funding."

Whatever the advantages, Boeing's outsourcing is emblematic of corporate practices that have sent large chunks of U.S. industry overseas and to other states, battered communities and vaulted the U.S. jobless rate to nearly 10 percent, economists say.

Yet the biggest victim may be the culture that underpins the aerospace behemoth. Here in Boeing country, where children follow parents into the aviation business, outsourcing is plain heresy.

"It was like the family," said Williams, whose wife, Sarah, and three children joined him for the holiday party. "Can you outsource Mom? Can you outsource Dad?"


Boeing is the world's second-largest commercial plane-maker after its European rival Airbus. Founded in 1916 in Seattle by William Boeing, the company earned $68.3 billion in revenue in 2009, split between its defense and commercial airplanes divisions.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the aerospace industry achieved $215 billion in sales in 2009 and provided more than 644,000 jobs. According to data compiled by consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Boeing is the 24th largest U.S. employer, including private companies and government. It is the fourth-largest employer in the U.S. manufacturing sector, excluding wholesalers, distributors and construction companies.

All told, Boeing and its subsidiaries employ 160,000 people in the United States and abroad, including 73,000 people in Washington. But while the company remains a pillar of the local economy and is hiring right now in Washington, Boeing is not the engine of job growth it once was.

At the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D.C., Boeing's total workforce was about 199,000. Its defense and commercial units shed 20,000 jobs between January 2002 and January 2003 after the 9/11 attacks sparked a steep decline in air travel and aircraft orders.

Myriad other U.S. manufacturers also cut jobs during that economic downturn, and many of those never regained their former staffing levels.

"What you've seen is a continual decline in manufacturing employment that didn't just start 20 years ago," said Stephen Bronars, senior economist at Welch Consulting. "And it's accentuated during downturns, where you see the steepest decline in manufacturing employment when there's a recession."

At its numerical peak, in 1978, the U.S. manufacturing sector accounted for more than one out of every four U.S. jobs, according to government data. Back in the 1950s, manufacturing made up an even higher share -- more than a third -- of total employment.

"A lot of Western Europe was still reeling after World War Two, and so we didn't have the same kind of competition when it came to manufacturing in the '50s," Bronars said.

Since the 1970s, employment in manufacturing has fallen more than 30 percent in the United States, compared with about 60 percent in Britain, and about 20 percent in Japan.

Then came the 2008/2009 global economic downturn, which wiped out nearly 8 million U.S. jobs. About 2 million of those were in manufacturing. Economists believe that many of these positions are gone for good, forcing blue-collar workers to search for employment elsewhere -- often at lower wages.

In several ways, Boeing's replacement of in-house labor with outside partners is typical of this trend. Although some of its outsourcing is to other U.S. companies and some of its job reductions came from spinning off businesses, the net effect has been punishing for Boeing's Washington workforce.

From Boeing's perspective, change was inevitable. Its role as a truly international company -- with 80 percent of its commercial airplane backlog for international customers -- demands a diverse and global operation to blunt the shocks to the U.S. job market from the highly cyclical aerospace business.

"Clearly, Boeing is a global company with a global customer base, and our U.S. employees benefit from that," the company said in an email response to questions by a Reuters reporter. "U.S. jobs are created by selling airplanes around the world."


That is true as far as it goes, but building airplanes is far more complicated than other frequently outsourced jobs like, say, textile manufacturing.

Plane-making is best done by a group of engineers and builders working in close proximity without the distractions of language barriers, cultural differences and bureaucracy, said Tom McCarty, president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) local representing Boeing engineers in the Puget Sound region.

"Now with the 787, management felt they knew how to outsource the design jobs. Turns out they didn't," he said. "We're talking about how do you design and manufacture a plane like the 787?" McCarty said. "It's a very unique skill set. And schools don't turn out people who know how to do that. And there is a culture that has developed the composite knowledge of all those skills. We know how to build all these planes."

To be sure, language barriers and borders have not prevented Airbus from overtaking Boeing as the world's largest aircraft manufacturer in the past decade.

Driven by history and political necessity, the 40-year-old plane-maker was forced from the outset to create a system in which planes are built from large sections made in four countries -- Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- and then assembled in France or Germany. Airbus has also begun assembling smaller A320 150-seat planes in China for the local market.

The difference with the 787 and its future Airbus rival, the A350, is that both manufacturers are being forced to ship an increasing quantity of work for these planes beyond their traditional borders to share the risk and costs of giant technological changes aimed at making planes lighter to save fuel.

Still, Airbus has been more conservative on outsourcing. It contracts 52 percent of the airframe to outside suppliers. Boeing says it purchased 65 percent of the 787 airframe, which is comparable to the 777.

Because the A350 will not be available before 2013 -- a result of previous dithering over product strategy, according to its critics -- the EADS subsidiary can also afford to sit back and learn from Boeing's perceived mistakes on the 787.

McCarty said that by relying so heavily on foreign partners for their engineering, Boeing devalues the so-called tribal knowledge that facilitates practical application of complicated, academic engineering concepts that eventually produce a new plane.

Acquired on the job and over time, tribal knowledge is a key ingredient in the development of a new plane, some experts say. It is the shared method of performing countless daily tasks efficiently and in coordination with colleagues. In short, tribal knowledge is the grease that cuts friction throughout the design and assembly process.

"One of the things you don't want to outsource is your core competencies," said Karen Kurek,

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Boeing Revolutionizes Flight: 787 Dreamliner - Episode 2

"world's hottest female hacker" - recently appeared in a NYC courtroom

Among the 37 people charged yesterday for participating in an Eastern Europe–based bank-hacking scheme in which $3 million was siphoned from bank accounts belonging to small businesses and individuals were four New York college students — "sexy Eastern European coeds," according to the Daily News, which is gunning to make one of them, a 21-year-old Kristina Svechinskaya, who appeared in court "in calf-high boots and skin-tight jeans," the next Anna Chapman.

But is Kristina SEXY enough to become a star? As you can see by her picture, she is very attractive, but her name is a mouthful, and as far as we can tell she doesn't have a huge Internet presence. And then there's her crime: According to the feds, Kristina used special software to hack into bank accounts of individuals, skim a little money off of each of them, deposit it into one of five bank accounts she had created for the purposes of laundering said money, then transfer it to the ringleaders of the group. Sexy! However, after all of that, she only stole $35,000, and cried in court. Not sexy. Then again: the name of the software she used? Trojan. Maxim, it's your call.

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Two Russian hackers guilty of fraud in US

Young Russians steal millions from US banks - FBI

Cloaking technology takes big step forward

MIT scientists have discovered a new cloaking technology that can hide an object as large as a peppercorn.
Rather than the synthetic materials used in other research efforts, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) team used a common mineral called calcite — a crystalline form of calcium carbonate.

"Very often, the obvious solution is just sitting there," says MIT mechanical-engineering professor George Barbastathis.

The object to be hidden is placed on a flat, horizontal mirror, and a layer of calcite crystal — made up of two pieces with opposite crystal orientations, glued together — is placed on top. When illuminated by visible light and viewed from a certain direction, the object under the calcite layer 'disappears'.

The team placed the MIT logo upside-down on the vertical wall behind the apparatus, positioned so that one of the letters could be viewed directly via the mirror, while the other two were behind a two-millimeter-high wedge and its concealing layer of calcite. Then the whole setup was submerged in liquid.

The logo appeared normal, as though there was no wedge but a flat mirror piece, when illuminated with visible green light. With blue or red illumination, the cloaking was still effective, but with a little misalignment.

In principle, Barbastathis says, the same method could be used in real-life situations to conceal an object from view — and the only limitation on the size of the hidden object is the size of the calcite crystal that’s available.

The team paid about $1,000 for the small crystal it used, he says, but much larger ones could be used to conceal much larger objects. The largest known natural crystal of calcite measures 21 feet square.
For now, the system is essentially two-dimensional, limiting the cloaking effect to a narrow range of angles - but Barbastathis says he has some ideas about how to make the effect work in three dimensions. He also hopes to eliminate the need for immersing the system in liquid and make it work in air.

Coincidentally, another independent research team, from the UK's University of Birmingham, has also published a paper this month describing a similar calcite-based method.

The MIT and Birmingham results "are two beautiful experiments. I particularly like their simplicity," says Ulf Leonhardt, chair in theoretical physics at Scotland’s University of St Andrews.

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Cloaking Technology makes Invisibility a Scientific Reality

Monday, January 24, 2011

Obama’s guy Immelt exports US jobs as GE gives tech secrets to Chinese government

Posted by mikeparanzino
Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, was responsible a number of years ago for one of the great quotations of recent decades, so I do not criticize him or GE lightly. He said: “More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees. So, if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we’re well on our way.”

His willingness to take on the University Industrial Complex for the costly and useless degrees they hand out – while not sparing young Americans’ complacency as our nation’s leading position in the world erodes – was courageous and much-needed. Unfortunately, it was noted by Newsweak magazine and Fareed Zakaria, so no one has ever heard the line. [I'm breaking my only-link-to-Newsweak-for-Kaus-and-Will rule because the Immelt line is so good.]

But with President Barack Obama making Immelt the willing front man for Obama’s latest head-fake on jobs and the economy, and ultimately his re-election campaign, Immelt has cast GE into the spotlight and sorry, Mr. Immelt, the spotlight is incandescent, not compact fluorescent, so Americans will actually be able to see the truth about your company. It ain’t pretty.

Let’s start with jobs. The media, of course, took the bait surrounding Immelt’s new position at the helm of Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor, to take one example, embraced the White House spin in its headline: “Obama launches new push for US jobs, tapping GE’s Immelt to help.”

But tapping GE’s top honcho to generate jobs for Americans is like the old saw about the guy who loses money on each item he sells but intends to make it up in sales volume. Newsflash for the Lamestream Media: GE has been shedding US jobs under CEO Immelt, while adding jobs overseas, notably in China.

In 2001, the year Immelt became CEO, GE had 158,000 US employees. In 2009, GE employed just 134,000 Americans. Under Obama’s guy Immelt, GE has shed 24,000 American workers, or 15% of its US workforce.

Abroad it’s a different story. In 2001, GE employed 152,000 workers abroad. In 2009, that number had edged up to 154,000. GE’s non-US workforce now exceeds its American workers. [I have heard that this trend continued in 2010 but could not find an authoritative figure by press time.]

Speaking at GE this past week, Obama said he intends, with Immelt’s help, to increase US exports. Let’s hope he was not talking about GE’s record exporting US jobs.

Where GE does clearly excel is getting the federal government to give taxpayer dollars to GE. The stimulus bill was loaded with programs for GE, and of course GE and GE Capital tapped tens of billions in bailout funds. And when they are not taking direct cash handouts from US taxpayers, GE lobbies for programs to make it billions more.

Obamacare includes mandates that are expected to make GE billions in electronic medical records and other areas. And GE even lobbied in support of the (sadly bipartisan) 2007 law that will ban the inexpensive, sometimes US-made, bright incandescent light bulb by 2014, in favor of mercury-containing, expensive, foreign-made, dim compact fluorescents. GE recently shut its last US-based light bulb factory, in Virginia, as Chinese plants churn out almost the entire supply of mercury-laced CFCs. (By the way, Speaker Boehner, it’s late January: why hasn’t the House yet passed a repeal of the “efficiency standards” that effectively ban incandescents? Call it the No Mercury for our Kids Act.)

So GE exports US jobs and aggressively sucks at the taxpayer teat. How’s it doing on our economic and national security? Not so good. GE recently inked a deal with a Chinese government-owned aviation company that will transfer advanced GE knowhow to the Chinese communist party and Chinese military – yes, the folks with nukes pointed at our cities. As the NY Times reports it:

G.E., in the partnership with a state-owned Chinese company, will be sharing its most sophisticated airplane electronics, including some of the same technology used in Boeing’s new state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner.
… But doing business in China often requires Western multinationals like G.E. to share technology and trade secrets that might eventually enable Chinese companies to beat them at their own game — by making the same products cheaper, if not better.
The other risk is that Western technologies could help China play catch-up in military aviation — a concern underscored last week when the Chinese military demonstrated a prototype of its version of the Pentagon’s stealth fighter, even though the plane could be a decade away from production.

In fact, the corporate competition for contracts on the C919 became a “frenzy,” said Mark Howes, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific. The Chinese government, he said, had made it clear to Western companies that they should be “willing to share technology and know-how.”
But the G.E. avionics joint venture, analysts say, appears to be the deepest relationship yet and involves sharing the most confidential technology. And G.E.’s partner, Avic, also supplies China’s military aircraft and weapons systems.

This is not just GE creating a future national security threat by handing advanced dual-use (civilian and military) technology to a dictatorship (Senator Reid was right on that one, bless his heart) with a soaring defense budget. GE is also eating its seed corn to goose profits today. As the Times put it:

The real concern lies further head, according to a study of China’s strategy included in a report published in November by a bipartisan Congressional advisory group, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The group concluded that China’s huge state subsidies for its own industry, its requirements that foreign companies provide technology and know-how to gain access to the Chinese market, along with the close ties between its commercial and military aviation sectors all raise concerns and “bear watching.”
The big aviation equipment makers say that, by now, they are experienced at grappling with matters of technology transfer in China. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kent L. Statler, an executive vice president for commercial aviation at Rockwell Collins, observes that his employees often ask whether the company is trading its future for immediate sales in China.

So GE is just a typical company putting short-term profits ahead of longer-term interests of itself or our country. That’s what companies do, right? That’s what GE does, except in one area. In its ownership of NBC and MSNBC, GE has consistently walked away from profits to maintain the liberal bias in its news division. In this one area alone, GE has left hundreds of millions of dollars in profits on the table over the years by keeping its news reporting slanted Left even as Americans grew more conservative and even after Fox News showed how a network devoid of liberal bias can dominate the ratings. Imagine if NBC News had ever eliminated its liberal bias. It would enjoy mammoth ratings (and bigger profits) today. But GE ignored those potential profits. Handing sensitive aviation technology to the Chinese communists for a quick buck? Sure. Eliminating liberal bias to increase profits? GE has always said no thanks. It took Comcast buying control of MSNBC just to get Keith Olbermann fired!

All of this is a reminder why it is folly to merge in one’s mind the interests of the American people with that of corporations, or labor unions, for that matter. Always look to the fiduciary duty to sort these issues out. A corporation’s duty is to its current shareholders, to maximize their profits. Their duty is NOT to America. A union’s duty is similarly to maximize its members’ wealth, NOT to help customers or make money for shareholders or to help America. It is the government’s role to protect America’s vital interests. Unfortunately, too many of our politicians believe their role is to protect favored corporations, or to protect the politicians’ own jobs. This is why our country is in so much trouble.

GE exports jobs, lobbies very well for direct taxpayer handouts and laws and regulations to further enrich itself at Americans’ expense, hands over its advanced technology to our adversaries for short term profits but to the nation’s and the company’s future peril, while protecting liberal media bias at all costs.
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General Electric Aviation - GEnx Engine Test

GEnx: the Next Generation of Commercial Jet Engines

General Electric Biggest Jet Engine for B-777