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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Japan seeks stronger military ties with US

TOKYO — Japan's defence minister said his country needs stronger military ties with the US and South Korea to balance China's growing might, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with the paper, Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said relations with the United States were strengthened by the help its military provided in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

He said Japan was particularly concerned about China's increasing naval capabilities.

"Our priority is to make our bilateral relationship with the US rock solid," he told the paper.

"In order to maintain the right balance in our relationship with China, we need to also solidify the ties between Japan, the US and South Korea," said Kitazawa, of the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan.

Kitazawa earlier this month tearfully thanked US forces for their help in the round-the-clock relief effort in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami.

His comments appear to show a change of attitude in the ruling party, whose previous premier, Yukio Hatoyama, had vowed a less subservient relationship with Washington.

Relations have improved somewhat since Prime Minister Naoto Kan assumed office, but a controversial base on Okinawa, which reluctantly hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops stationed in Japan, remains an irritant in ties between the security allies.

On a visit to Japan in January, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that US forces needed to remain in Japan to deter the volatile North Korean regime and counter China's assertive stance in the region.

Japan's relations with China plunged to their lowest point in years last September over a territorial dispute involving islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

The row erupted after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard ships near the uninhabited islets.

Gates has warned that China's advances in military hardware presented a possible threat to the US military's presence in the Pacific.

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NATO Review - China: increasing interests, growing power?

China warns Britain !!

BEIJING, (Reuters) - China has warned Britain over plans to send military officers to advise Libyan rebels struggling against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi, saying that Beijing opposes any steps that go beyond the mandate of a United Nations resolution.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stopped short of directly accusing Britain of violating the U.N. Security Council resolution on the Libyan conflict, but he left no doubt that China is unhappy about Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to send about a dozen officers to Libya to help insurgents improve their fighting capabilities.

"China believes that the United Nations Security Council has primary responsibility for protecting international peace and security, and the various sides should strictly abide by the Security Council mandate in handling matters," Hong said on the Foreign Ministry's website ( late on Friday, in answer to a question about the British decision.

"China disapproves of taking any actions that exceed the mandate of the Security Council," said Hong.

China has now joined Russia in opposing London's decision to send advisers. Both countries are permanent members of the Security Council, and could have used that status to veto the resolution authorising air strikes against the forces of Gaddafi.

But Moscow and Beijing abstained from that vote, letting it go into force, but have since voiced growing misgivings about the Western military campaign in Libya.

Beijing's main fear appears to be that Libya could eventually be carved up into divided states, anathema to China's traditional views about the primacy of sovereignty in resolving security crises.

With the Libyan conflict risking getting bogged down in a stalemate, Western powers are seeking ways to bolster the rebels, whose military campaigns have been disorganised.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday the decision to send military advisers conformed with a United Nations' resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians.
The leaders of the United States, Britain and France pledged last week to continue the military campaign until Gaddafi leaves power. (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Libya Proxy Cold War between China & West?

Cold war between West & China in Libya

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How big is too BIG?

Does size matter?

NEW YORK — A wing of an Airbus A380, the world's biggest commercial passenger jet, clipped the tail of another plane while taxiing out to depart John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday night
There were no injuries when the Air France super jumbo jet touched the other plane at 8:09 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said.

Air France Flight 7, bound for Paris, was taxiing on a runway when its left wingtip struck the tail of Comair Flight 6293, which had just landed from Boston and was taxiing to its gate at Kennedy, one of the nation's busiest airports, Peters said.

Both jets were being towed to a ramp area for inspection, Peters said. The extent of the damage was unknown.

The FAA didn't immediately say how many people were on the double-deck Airbus A380, which can carry 525 passengers in a three-class configuration or more than 850 in a single-class configuration. Air France didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

The Comair CRJ 700 Regional Jet was carrying 62 passengers and four crew members, said Betsy Talton, a spokeswoman of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc., for which Comair operates regional flights. All the passengers were taken off the plane and into a terminal, she said.

The most serious safety scare for the world's largest and newest jetliners occurred last year, when a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas A380 disintegrated shortly after takeoff from Singapore, prompting Qantas to temporarily ground its fleet. A preliminary report blamed the massive engine failure on an oil leak.

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CRJ Family Milestones

Airbus A380 Painting

Megastructures - Airbus A380 HD - Part 1

Navy raygun disables boat with new high energy laser

Maritime Laser Demonstrator could one day protect military vessels

By Stuart Fox

With their new high-energy laser weapon, the U.S. Navy has succeeded in combining buccaneers and Buck Rogers. Called the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, the ray gun quickly disabled a small boat in a recent test. Such lasers could one day protect military vessels from the same kind of tiny boat that almost sunk the destroyer U.S.S. Cole by augmenting the small machine guns already aboard American warships.

The test, conducted on April 6th by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), marks the first time that a high energy laser has properly functioned as a weapon on the high seas. Offensive lasers often have problems in dynamic environments like the ocean, and have so far proven mostly useless in battle. Due to that dicey history, the lessons learned while developing the laser may prove more valuable than the laser itself

"We are learning a ton from this program - how to integrate and work with directed energy weapons," said Peter Morrison, program officer for the ONR. "All test results are extremely valuable regardless of the outcome."

As you can see in the below video, the laser works by slowly burning a hole through the boat's engine. Since it lacks the blast of a "Star Wars"-style laser, or even the force of the machine guns already used for ship defense, ONR designed the laser to complement and diversify, rather than replace, the systems already protecting American warships, Morrison said.

ONR developed the laser in conjunction with the defense company Northrop Grumman. The program had a ceiling value of $98 million, and took about two and a half years to complete

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Free Electron Laser Weapon

Maritime Laser Demonstration

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nazi warplane lying off UK coast is intact

By Stefano Ambrogi
LONDON (Reuters) – A rare World War Two German bomber, shot down over the English Channel in 1940 and hidden for years by shifting sands at the bottom of the sea, is so well preserved a British museum wants to raise it.

The Dornier 17 -- thought to be world's last known example -- was hit as it took part in the Battle of Britain.

It ditched in the sea just off the Kent coast, southeast England, in an area known as the Goodwin Sands.

The plane came to rest upside-down in 50 feet of water and has become partially visible from time to time as the sands retreated before being buried again.

Now a high-tech sonar survey undertaken by the Port of London Authority (PLA) has revealed the aircraft to be in a startling state of preservation.

Ian Thirsk, from the RAF Museum at Hendon in London, told the BBC he was "incredulous" when he first heard of its existence and potential preservation.

"This aircraft is a unique aeroplane and it's linked to an iconic event in British history, so its importance cannot be over-emphasized, nationally and internationally," he said.

"It's one of the most significant aeronautical finds of the century."

Known as "the flying pencil," the Dornier 17 was designed as a passenger plane in 1934 and was later converted for military use as a fast bomber, difficult to hit and theoretically able to outpace enemy fighter aircraft.

In all, some 1,700 were produced but they struggled in the war with a limited range and bomb load capability and many were scrapped afterwards.

Striking high-resolution images appear to show that the Goodwin Sands plane suffered only minor damage, to its forward cockpit and observation windows, on impact.

"The bomb bay doors were open, suggesting the crew jettisoned their cargo," said PLA spokesman Martin Garside.

Two of the crew members died on impact, while two others, including the pilot, were taken prisoner and survived the war.

"The fact that it was almost entirely made of aluminum and produced in one piece may have contributed to its preservation," Garside told Reuters.

The plane is still vulnerable to the area's notorious shifting sands and has become the target of recreational divers hoping to salvage souvenirs.

The RAF museum has launched an appeal to raise funds for the lifting operation.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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Luftwaffe 46' Experimental & Planned aircraft of Germany

Nazi Stealth Aircraft

The Third Reich, The Vril & Gizeh Intelligence

Hitlers Stealth fighter - Horten 229

What if you get sucked out of a plane?
Size of a hole determines how dangerous the situation will become
By Emily Sohn

The hole that ripped through the ceiling of a commercial airplane at cruising altitude last week may, for some, have brought to mind the pilot of the TV show "Lost." In that dramatic episode, an airplane breaks in half, and passengers go flying through a gaping hole in the fuselage.

For passengers on Southwest flight 812, the consequences were far milder: Soon after its takeoff from Phoenix, the plane made an emergency landing, and everyone was fine.

But people have been hurled through holes in cruising airplanes before. And that raises an important, if gruesome question: What would happen to you if you were sucked into the atmosphere at 30,000 feet?

The prognosis, experts say, would not be good.

MythBusters Video: Explosive Decompression MiniMyth

"There are a number of critical physiological problems that would be life-ending, likely within seconds," said Peter Wagner, a physician and physiologist at the University of California, San Diego. "Forget about the fact that you don’t have a parachute. You would be instantly exposed to very, very low oxygen levels. Within three or four seconds, my guess is that you would be breathing like hell."

Loss of consciousness and death would soon follow purely from oxygen deprivation to the brain, Wagner continued. At the same time, temperatures of -70 degrees Fahrenheit (-57 degrees Celsius) — made even colder by the chill of 500 mile-per-hour (805 kilometer-per-hour) winds — would lead to rapid freezing, beginning with the skin, eyes and other surface tissues.

In response to such extreme stress, your nervous system would go haywire, leading to potentially fatal spikes in blood pressure and heart rate. And the sudden change in air pressure would lead to a nasty case of the bends, as if you were scuba diving and came up too fast.

Then, there’s the danger of getting slammed into the plane on the way out, not to mention the trauma of falling.

"You would probably be cut in half or something, depending on what you hit and what part of the body connected," Wagner said. "All kinds of awful imagery are possible."

Fortunately, incidents like these are extremely rare. Holes most often appear in military aircraft that have been struck by bullets or explosives, though there have been civilian examples. In 1988, for example, Aloha Airlines flight 243 lost a large section if its roof at 24,000 feet. One flight attendant was blown out of the plane and died.

In events like these, the sucking force originates from a difference in pressure between the cabin environment and the outdoor one. Aircraft are generally kept at an air pressure similar to what you’d find between 6,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. At a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, pressure outside of the plane is about two and a half times lower than what passengers experience on the inside.

When a hole forms, a strong tendency to equalize creates a rushing tunnel of wind, like water flowing through a hose. In sections of the plane that are far from the hole, winds might be mild enough to simply whisk papers around.

But air picks up speed as it approaches a fissure, said Geoffrey Landis, a physicist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. At the point where air passes out of the fuselage, it moves at the speed of sound.

The size of a hole determines how much air could rush out of a plane at once — and how dangerous the situation will become. According to Landis’ calculations, it would take about 100 seconds for pressure to equalize through a one square-foot hole in the body of a 747. People sitting next to a hole this size would face a half a ton of force barreling against them in the direction of the hole.

Of course, wind forces immediately begin working to enlarge a hole of any size — putting extra pressure on the pilot to steer the plane downward as fast as possible.

If you are unlucky enough to end up on a plane that develops a hole on it, "all is not doomed," Landis said. In many cases, skilled pilots can react quickly enough to land the plane safely, as in the recent Southwest incident.

There are also some things you can do to protect yourself. Keep your seatbelt fastened. Put on your oxygen mask. And, Wagner suggested, if the hole is caused by something small like a bullet, slap a book or airline magazine over it.

Air pressure will cement the object over the hole. And you will walk away a hero.

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Scare on Southwest Airlines

July 14, 2009 4:04 PM

Washington Mulls Stockpiling Rare Earths

With China building up its strategic reserves of rare earth metals even as it crimps exports, a new piece of counter-China legislation on rare earths introduced to the U.S. Congress reflects the depths of Washington’s anxiety over the sector.

China has been storing up supplies of rare earths for months, recently passing a tax that could help further fund the effort, in what analysts see as a bid by Beijing to further tighten its control over a market it already dominates.

The issue of whether the U.S. itself should start stockpiling on national defense grounds is one the biggest questions surrounding the global response to China’s tight control over rare earths, which are crucial for making magnets in wind turbines and polishing the glass in night-vision goggles.

The new bill, introduced Wednesday by Colorado Republic Rep. Mike Coffman, “Seeks to Curtail Dangerous Reliance on China for Critical Materials,” according to the press release.

The Armed Services Committee member’s bill – dubbed “Resart” – stops short of calling for a permanent military stockpile. Instead, it would establish a quasi-government inventory built from U.S. production sources, which at this moment are limited.

According to his press release, Mr. Coffman proposes establishment of a “Defense Logistics Agency” that would set long-term contracts to inventory rare earths and make the material available for purchase by government contractors, presumably in the defense industry. The Department of Defense estimates the U.S. uses around 5% of the global supply of rare earths for military purposes.

It is unclear how the logistics system would work and a spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a question about the bill, which also calls for cabinet-level support, financial assistance and faster mine approval for the industry.

Though Mr. Coffman’s new agency sounds meaty, a bill he sponsored around a year ago that died in Congress was more direct, calling specifically for a “national stockpile” of rare earths. In a January interview with The Wall Street Journal, the congressman said a national stockpile isn’t his preferred route to build a U.S. supply chain in the metals because he would prefer market forces to spur its development.

Direct U.S. government involvement as a buyer of rare earths would mark an important new wrinkle for the price-sensitive sector, which in the past year has taken virtually all its cues from China. The market is in a Catch-22: An American stockpile would mean higher prices on more demand but a lack of one could also support prices on fears of supply shortfalls. Nervousness about China’s export policies has already pushed importers Japan and South Korea to stockpile the metals.

In February a group of U.S. scientists issued a report that warned against rare earth stockpiles, saying they can “act as disincentives to innovation” in terms of efficiency and innovation A Congressional Research Center report published last month described a stockpile as one option, while a Department of Defense assessment of the industry is awaited.

An association of U.S. magnet makers that supports Mr. Coffman’s issued a statement on Wednesday defending a stockpile: “The bill reconfigures the Defense National Stockpile into an interactive strategic reserve to meet national security needs for neodymium magnets and potentially other rare earths products, breaking China’s current stranglehold on the supply chain by giving industry the tools necessary to provide a reliable strategic reserve of neo alloys and magnets on an accelerated timeline.”

Other congressional efforts touch on how to counter China’s dominance in rare earths, but don’t take stands on stockpiling.

Whether there is a stockpile or not, Washington is getting closer to an industry that has until recently been all about China. The primary U.S. rare earth miner Molycorp Inc. recently announced it plans to team with the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratories to look at new ways to make rare earth magnets.

– James T. Areddy. Follow him on Twitter @jamestareddy

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Coffman on CNN: Rare Earth Metals

Introduction to Rare Earth Elements and Stans Energy Corporation

New technology could slash airplane delays

A system in development by aerospace giant Honeywell could make it possible for planes to land even when, in the past, low clouds would have made it impossible.

by Daniel Terdiman

If a technology being developed by aerospace giant Honeywell that helps airplanes land in very cloudy conditions wins regulatory approval, it could make a huge dent in weather-related delays throughout the aviation system.

The technology is called Enhanced Visual System/Synthetic Vision System (EVS/SVS), and it is designed to give pilots the information they need to land safely even when there is cloud cover near ground. Current U.S. rules mandate that pilots decide at the 200-foot mark if their ground visibility is good enough to land or if they need to circle around for another try. With EVS/SVS, they would be able to hold off on making that decision until between 100 and 150 feet.

According to Bob Witwer, vice president of advanced technology for Honeywell aerospace, cloud cover below 200 feet was responsible for six entire days' worth of delay at a single airport--New York's La Guardia--in 2010. And as anyone who flies in the United States knows, delays in one city can easily roll over and cause slowdowns or even flight cancellations throughout the country.

For years, Witwer said, airlines have relied on Honeywell's Synthetic Vision System, which provides pilots with a database and 3D graphical representation of their flight paths, complete with detailed imagery showing terrain and obstacles and automatic warnings triggered when their planes get too close. The idea was that the system could offer pilots a better sense of situational awareness, especially when flying into areas where the terrain is "aggressive," such as mountainous destinations like Aspen, Colo.

All told, Witwer said, airlines have flown 800 million hours using Honeywell's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. But that system can't do anything to help pilots when clouds are too close to the ground. At least not by itself.

However, with Honeywell's new EVS technology, Witwer said, pilots trying to land in cloudy conditions can look at their instrument displays and see a graphical representation of the area that "makes it look like a sunny day."

EVS works, Witwer said, with the aid of an infrared sensor mounted on the nose of an aircraft, which can capture real-time imagery of the ground and blend it with SVS data. Together, the two sets of data can provide a clear view of the ground, he explained, even if, in some cases, clouds go below 100 feet. "Infrared can pick up things with thermal signatures that the eye can't," like runway lights, Witwer said. "Those are the kinds of things that infrared can pick up, even if vision is obscured to the naked eye."

Witwer said that even the 100-foot limitation could disappear over time, but that it is in place in the EVS technology today owing to issues like signal accuracy around airports and general system redundancy. And in any case, Honeywell believes cloud cover lower than 100 feet is a rare situation and that it's often possible to see the runway from that height anyway.

Ultimately, Honeywell is betting that airlines and the aviation industry in general will see the value of the EVS/SVS marriage and that the technology, when and if it is approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, will help the industry cut down on delayed landings, save fuel, and generally improve the flying experience. So far, Witwer said, pilots have test-flown about 100 hours using the technology, with thousands more hours in engineering tests.

Still, Witwer said it's far too early to know if or when the FAA will approve the technology or how many more hours of testing the agency will require before it considers the system ready for prime time.

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SR22 EVS lowapproach

Taking R9 To The Next Level

Rockwell Collins Update - Ascending to Greater Pilot Convenience

NASA Tests Chicken Fat-Based Jet Fuel Using DC-8 Airborne Laboratory
By BNO News
NASA on Monday announced that a group of scientists from its Langley Research Center traveled cross-country this month for an experiment with eco-friendly jet fuel made out of chicken fat.

The Langley team drove 2,600 miles (4,184 kilometers) from Hampton, Virginia, to meet up with other researchers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California, while testing the biofuel on a NASA DC-8 to measure its performance and emissions as part of the Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment II, or AAFEX II.

The fuel is called Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel, and AAFEX II project scientist Bruce Anderson explained it is made out of chicken fat.

“The Air Force bought many thousands of gallons of this to burn in some of their jets and provided about 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) to NASA for this experiment,” Anderson said.

Anderson and his team will test a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel, biofuel only, and jet fuel only. The jet fuel is Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, a kerosene-like mix of hydrocarbons.

Two of the group’s scientists traveled in a specially RV equipped 32-foot (9.75 meter) van on loan from Langley’s Aviation Safety Program. It was dubbed “EM-50″ by researchers after the urban assault vehicle used in the 1981 comedy “Stripes” that starred Bill Murray.

Three more researchers from Langley flew to the experiment, and researchers from Dryden and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio have key roles as well. The effort includes investigators and consultants from private industry, other federal organizations, and academia. In all, 17 organizations are participating in AAFEX II.

Previously, researchers in the AAFEX I project in 2009 tested two synthetic fuels derived from petroleum-based coal and natural gas.

On this occasion, Glenn researchers shipped instruments that will be used to measure particulate and gaseous emissions.

“AAFEX II will provide essential gaseous and particulate emissions data as well as engine and aircraft systems performance data from operation of the DC-8 on a fuel produced from a renewable resource,” said Glenn’s Dan Bulzan, who leads clean energy and emissions research in NASA’s Subsonic Fixed Wing Project.

“The use of alternative fuels, including biofuels, in aircraft is a key element for substantially reducing the impact of aviation on the environment and for reducing the dependency on foreign petroleum,” said Glenn’s Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA’s Subsonic Fixed Wing Project, which is conducting the tests.

Testing is being done at a time when the U.S. military has set a goal of eventually flying its aircraft using 50 percent biofuel.

The Air Force is currently engaged in certifying its fleet to operate on a 50-percent blend of the same fuel being tested in AAFEX II. Meanwhile, some military cargo and fighter planes already use alternative fuels.

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 U.S. trucking industry $10 billion a year in diesel fuel

does big oil's influence NASA???

Weekly Standard: An Inconvenient Truth About China

by Joseph A. Bosco

Joseph A. Bosco is a national security consultant. He was China desk officer in the office of the secretary of defense from 2005 to 2006.

Did James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, utter an inconvenient truth last month when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China presents the greatest "mortal threat" to the United States?

Several committee members were aghast at Clapper's observation that China and Russia have the actual ability and the potential intention to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons.

Asked whether any country intended to pose such a threat to the United States, he responded that China did. The stunned senators pressed the DNI to soften his stark judgments and dispel any impression that either China or Russia presently contemplates such drastic action. After a confusing colloquy, Clapper gave ground and said he was describing only those countries' capabilities, not their intentions, barely mollifying the agitated committee members.

But his initial statement clearly meant that he was weighing both capabilities and intent, and his judgment stands up to analysis.

Russia easily surpasses China in both the number and range of ballistic missiles that can reach any part of the continental United States. China's far smaller arsenal can target only the U.S. West Coast.

Nevertheless, despite Russia's clear superiority in strategic nuclear capabilities, the DNI said he ranked China as the greater threat because Washington has a nuclear arms treaty with Moscow. But the New START agreement does not significantly reduce the number of Russian weapons or the Russian threat.

Why, then, does the DNI fear China more than he does Russia? One reason might be the fact that China keeps building up its own nuclear stockpile even as the United States and Russia stabilize or reduce theirs. That actually says as much about the countries' respective intentions as it does about capabilities. And it was the combination of Chinese intentions and capabilities that Clapper found so worrisome before the senatorial browbeating changed his answer.

There is good reason for the DNI's concern. In 1995, when China fired missiles toward Taiwan to protest a U.S. visit by Taiwan's president, the United States sent aircraft carriers to the region. Major General Xiong Guangkai of the People's Liberation Army warned Washington to stay out of the dispute because China could use nuclear weapons and "you care more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei."

Discussing a possible Taiwan conflict in 2005, Major General Zhu Chenghu escalated the message of China's nuclear threat: "The Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."

Western experts have dismissed those apocalyptic statements as mere military bluster — as if any Chinese general were free to say such things without the Communist regime's authorization. Not only were the generals not sacked, they were promoted.

By contrast, when Russian and American interests collided in 2008 as the United States sent aid to Georgia after the Russian invasion, Moscow did not threaten a nuclear attack on New York. (But it did move short-range ballistic missiles closer to Western Europe, presumably brandishing a "mortal threat" against Paris, Rome, and Warsaw.)

This is an uncomfortable subject for senators (and private citizens) to contemplate. But when the Senate committee confirmed Clapper as director last year, they said they expected him to provide honest assessments of the world untainted by political considerations. That is what he was doing at the hearing, not only on China but also when he predicted that Qaddafi would prevail in Libya despite President Obama's statement that the dictator must leave.

Clapper's comments and state of mind have been the subject of much public comment. But the exchange revealed a lot about the senators' own mindset regarding China's increasingly aggressive behavior and where it could lead — i.e., don't talk about it and maybe it will go away.

As for the president's reaction, the White House issued this statement: "Clearly China and Russia do not represent our biggest adversaries in the world today." Given the accuracy so far of the DNI's prediction about Qaddafi's survival, the president would be well advised to take very seriously his assessment of China's intentions.

Indeed, prior to international intervention, the success of Qaddafi's bloody crackdown when less brutal regimes in Tunisia and Egypt fell must have been vindication for the perpetrators of the Tiananmen massacre and a guide to Beijing's future actions.

Calls by senators and others for Clapper's resignation perhaps reflect the cumulative effect of his earlier controversial comments on terrorism. As one senator put it, "three strikes and you're out."

But if Clapper's career ends abruptly, it may be more because he has touched the third rail of American foreign policy — the growing possibility of military conflict with Communist China.

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China Unveils Stealth Fighter Jet

First Chinese Aircraft Carrier Is Almost Completed

Pentagon 'Some Concern' About Chinese Weapons Development

Boeing Eyes Next-Generation Composites

Boeing's next-generation aircraft, developed with NASA, will use up to 90 percent composites and be delivered as an integrated assembly, eliminating the need for thousands of fasteners.

Doug Smock, Contributing Editor, Materials & Assembly

Integrated assemblies are the Holy Grail for design engineers because they lighten structures, reduce assembly costs, and increase strength.

In the new approach being used by Boeing with help from NASA, dry carbon fiber structures are stitched together and then placed in a heated tool. A vacuum is pulled and epoxy resin is infused into the structure.

"The composites technology used in the (787) Dreamliner is 25 to 30 years old," says Andy Harber, senior project manager, design engineering for Boeing. "In the new approach, there is no lay-up and no autoclaves."

787 Composites

The Dreamliner represented a dramatic increase in aircraft composites' use, with about half of the structure made with carbon-reinforced plastic (CFRP). As reported by Design News in an award-winning series, the concept required development of autoclaves larger than those ever previously used
Otherwise, the technology was similar to composites technology long-used in making fiberglass composites. Hand lay-up is an open mold process in which successive plies of reinforcing material, usually fiberglass or resin-impregnated reinforcements are applied to a mandril. Curing is accelerated in an autoclave.

Deliveries of the Dreamliner are running more than three years late because of a variety of problems, including issues with fasteners and attachment points in the composite structure.

No decision has been made at Boeing about potential use of the new assembly technology for commercial aircraft. But Harber says Boeing expects to use the technology in a next-generation blended wing body aircraft designed for reduced noise and pollution.

Combat Testing

The process received its first field test as replacement landing gear doors in C-17s used as transport aircraft in Afghanistan. "On Sept. 17, 2009, we delivered to NATO eight landing gear doors featuring resin-infused, stitched composites," says Harber.

The original doors were made with traditional materials and had taken a beating in the rough landing environment in the battle zone. Tools for the C-17 doors were developed by Process Fab Inc.

The first licensee for the Boeing-developed technology is General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, which was awarded a $17 million contract by Boeing for the production of composite components and spares for the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Production and program management is being done at General Dynamics' advanced materials facility in Marion, VA

The latest version of the Boeing composites technology is called Pultruded Rod Stitched Efficient Unitized Structure (PRSEUS).

"This is completely reinventing how a composite structure is designed and manufactured," says Harber. One of the keys is a vacuum infusion process in which a minimal amount of resin is pulled into a tool to cover the fibers.

Another key to the use of PRSEUS is use of a pultruded rod attached to the skin as a stiffener. This could eliminate the need for thousands of fasteners on an entire aircraft. Pultrusion is a process dating back to the 1950s in which composites are pulled through a heated die, creating a very strong linear shape. Many ladder rails are made via the pultrusion process.

Phantom Works

The test bed for this new materials technology is an experimental aircraft developed by Boeing and NASA called the X-48. To date, the aircraft has been unmanned and built to small scale for testing purposes.

Boeing's Phantom Works has been developing the blended wing body aircraft concept in cooperation with the NASA Langley Research Center. Two models have been built under contract by Cranfield Aerospace in the UK. NASA and Boeing completed initial flight testing of the Boeing X-48B last year.

"This project is a huge success," says Fay Collier, manager of the project in NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. "Bottom line: the team has proven the ability to fly tailless aircraft to the edge of the low-speed envelope safely."

The blended wing body is a dramatic departure from the "tube-and-wing" approach used in commercial planes. Many engineers feel that design has reached its potential. It's not clear though how comfortable passengers would feel in such a radical departure as the blended wing.

PRSEUS technology is also a leap of faith for commercial aircraft, where use of traditional composites was a radical departure.

"Boeing is studying a number of advanced materials including PRSEUS for use on future airplanes," says Boeing spokesman Bret R. Gardner. "However, we have not made any decisions about whether we will use this material or not."

But it will have life in the next phase of development for the blended wing body aircraft, which remains an experimental aircraft.

Next year NASA will test a mid-fuselage section of a hybrid wing body aircraft made with the PRSEUS technology to determine its potential flight worthiness.

If all goes well, Boeing will use its jointly developed blended wing body as an entry in the Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project sponsored by NASA. The project's primary goals are to develop unconventional aircraft designs with the potential to reduce noise, fuel burn and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.

Environmental Project

Boeing is pinning its hopes on the integrated assembly made possible with advanced composites technology as key to its work for NASA in developing an environmentally responsible aircraft.

For this project, the Boeing team will define a concept for an aircraft that can achieve speeds up to 85 percent of the speed of sound, cover a range of nearly 7,000 miles, and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 lb of payload, either passengers or cargo.

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X-48 Blended Wing Body - NASA Test Highlights

Dan Rather Reports - Boeing 787 composite concerns (4 of 4)

Construction of composite fuselage section of a Boeing 787

Thursday, April 7, 2011

U.S. Indicts Two Chinese Citizens For Trying to Obtain Military Microchips

Two Chinese nationals were indicted and accused of attempting to obtain radiation-hardened microchips used in the military and aerospace industries in violation of an embargo.

Hong Wei Xian, also known as Harry Zan, 32, and Li Li, also known as Lea Li, 33, were charged by a U.S. grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the U.S., and the attempted export of munitions in violation of the act, according to a statement today from the U.S. Justice Department.

“Neither Xian nor Li applied for nor received a license from the United States to export defense articles of any description,” according to the statement.

Xian is president and Li is vice president of Beijing Starcreates Space Science & Technology Development Co., which imports and sells programmable read-only memory microchips to China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp., according to the statement. The latter company is controlled by the government of China, according to the statement.

The two were arrested in Hungary in September and transferred to the custody of U.S. marshals on April 1, according to the statement. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum five-year prison term and the export violation carries a penalty of as long as 20 years in prison, the U.S. said.

Lawyers for Xian and Li couldn’t immediately be reached. They were scheduled to appear today in federal court in Alexandria.

The U.S. has had an embargo against China since 1990 prohibiting the export of defense articles to the country, according to the statement.

The case is U.S. v. Xian, 10-cr-00207, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in Brooklyn, New York, federal court at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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Aircraft carrier: A mind-boggling building job

By Chris Summers
BBC News
In a shipyard in Scotland the future of the Royal Navy is slowly taking shape. But the construction of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is a mammoth task.

Imagine an aircraft carrier as a 65,000-tonne jigsaw puzzle and you have got a good idea of the scale of the building of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The pieces are being built at six shipyards around the UK and will be slotted together at Rosyth in Fife using an enormous crane which was transported by sea from China.

Around 10,000 workers across Britain are employed on the £5bn project with up to 25,000 engaged in building components for the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft.

The carrier will have 12 F-35s, or Joint Strike Fighters, costing around £65m each.

"It's the biggest shipbuilding project for the Royal Navy ever and is second only in engineering terms to the Olympics," says the man in charge of the whole project, David Downs, engineering director with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) consortium.

"All my nights are sleepless, worrying about it," he jokes.

The Queen Elizabeth and sister ship Prince of Wales will be far bigger than the Ark Royal but still significantly smaller than US equivalents.

Explore the zoomable image below to see how a QE Class aircraft carrier (left) would compare in dry dock alongside HMS Illustrious.

Continue reading the main storyYou need JavaScript to use this deep image zoom application.

Downs and his team designed the ships using computer software - every inch mapped out electronically with laser-guided measurements which ensure each part fits together.

Uniquely, a team of assessors from Lloyd's Register are on hand at all the yards to check the work as it proceeds.

BAE Systems is part of ACA and at its Govan yard in Glasgow, integrated work teams manager David Thomas gives a tour around one huge segment of the ship.

Things have changed - in 1924 the Navy's aircraft carriers were converted battleships Clambering under the hulk, wearing only a hard hat for protection, it's hard not to think of what would happen if the frame holding up 14,000 tons of steel gave way. But Thomas is reassuring on the yard's safety record.

He has been supervising the insertion of some of the 450 prefabricated cabins and 150 shower rooms - made by a firm on Teesside - in the ship's innards. He carries with him a small manual showing where everything fitted.

Anyone who finds the instructions to flatpack furniture a challenge would find it mind-boggling.

The whole process starts with the arrival of huge sheets of steel. They are "burned" into various shapes and sizes - some of them quite small - which are welded into position.

Gradually the sections become bigger as deck after deck is welded together.

One of the Govan team is Lyn Gordon, 23, an apprentice fabricator and one of a number of women working on the project.

"My fascination with shipbuilding came from living on the Clyde," she says. "I realise that it will eventually be an aircraft carrier and I will get to see it turning from a sheet of a metal, to a component, to HMS Queen Elizabeth."

The first segment from Govan should be ready this summer and will be towed by barge, around the northern tip of Scotland, to Rosyth.

At Rosyth the dry dock is ready for the assembly process. Last month the crane arrived from Shanghai, having squeezed under the Forth Bridge at low tide.

Rosyth has List X status, meaning everyone working there has to be security cleared, including the 50 Chinese workers who are helping to erect the 93m crane.

The first piece of steel was cut in 2009 but HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be finished until 2016 at the earliest, and may not be ready for action until 2020.

The construction of her sister ship, the HMS Prince of Wales, will overlap and the current plan is for one of them to be operational while the other would be kept in "extended readiness".

With the Ark Royal's fleet of Harrier jump jets being decommissioned the Navy will be without carrier-based planes for almost a decade.

Recent events in Libya have showed the importance of mobile air power.

The MoD complicated matters in October when it decided, in the Strategic Defence Review, to fit the carriers with catapults and arrester wires.

The "cats and traps" will enable them to fly the carrier variant F-35 and will also enable US and French jets to land on the deck. But it will also delay the completion of the carriers.

"If they get the two ships in the form they are expected they will be enormously capable ships. It's like having a piece of Britain you can place anywhere in the world," says naval historian Nick Hewitt.

Aircraft carriers are arguably the ultimate symbol of military prestige, a mobile projection of military might.

The Royal Navy pioneered carriers, explains Hewitt, head of attractions and collections at the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust. The first carriers were converted battlecruisers like the 7,500 ton Ark Royal, whose biplanes first saw action in February 1915 against the Turks in the Dardanelles.

Since the 1930s, US carriers have dwarfed their British allies, Hewitt notes.

"The US carriers were designed for the Pacific and to be away from base indefinitely. The British carriers were designed to operate in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic or from bases in Singapore or India."

HMS Invincible, which fought in the Falklands, and HMS Ark Royal, which was recently pensioned off, weighed in at a puny 22,000 tons compared to the American carriers such as the USS George H W Bush, at 101,000 tons. The QE Class weighs in in between - at 65,000 tonnes full displacement.

When it is finally ready the Queen Elizabeth will only be able to navigate the Forth Bridge and reach the open sea by waiting for low tide, and even then they will have to retract the radar masts.

The project has had its critics.

The former deputy chairman of Babcock - which is part of the ACA - Lord Hesketh resigned in November after describing the project as a "disaster".

He told the BBC the carriers could have been built for a fraction of the cost at a shipyard in South Korea and claims the project only went ahead in its present form because of the number of jobs it preserved.

But whatever the controversy over the carriers and the cost, the effort involved will be phenomenal.

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Future Aircraft Carrier , Royal Navy