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Monday, May 30, 2011

Reports: Hackers Use Stolen RSA Information to Hack Lockheed Martin
Jason Mick (Blog)

Company claims fighter project schematics and hosted government information were not leaked

Over a week has passed and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the U.S. government's top information technology services provider, was hacked. The attack has been characterized as a "fairly subtle", yet "significant and tenacious" attack on servers at its massive Gaithersburg, Maryland data center, located not far from the company headquarters in Bethesda.

As details emerge the attack is appearing more and more like it was lifted out of a spy movie or Tom Clancy novel. The hackers appeared to have gained entry using information stolen in a separate, even more audacious attack of one of the world's highest profile security firms.

I. RSA Sec. Breach -- Prelude to the Lockheed Martin Attack?

Back in March hackers gained access to RSA Security's servers. RSA Sec. takes its name from the last initials of founders Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, three top cryptographers. The trio's popular public-key cryptography algorithm shares the same name -- RSA.

At the time of the RSA Sec. intrusion, the company commented that despite the fact that it believed information was stolen, the company did not believe customer information or the security of the company's software products were not comprised. Yet, they did advise clients to follow online advice to safeguard themselves against possible fallout from the data loss.

The attack on RSA was described as "extremely sophisticated".

Sources close to Lockheed point to compromised RSA SecurID tokens -- USB keychain dongles that generate strings of numbers for cryptography purposes -- as playing a pivotal role in the Lockheed Martin hack.

II. Damage Control

Hackers are believed to have entered Lockheed Martin's servers by gaining illegitimate access to the company's virtual private network (VPN). The VPN allowed employees to connect over virtually any public network to the company's primary servers, using information streams secured by cryptography.

With the RSA tokens hacked, though, those supposedly secure VPN connections were compromised.

Lockheed says that it detected the attack "almost immediately" and warded it off quickly. The company has since brought the VPN back online, but not before "upgrades" to the RSA tokens and adding new layers of security to the remote login procedure.

III. What Was Lost?

At this point the question on everyone's mind likely is "What was lost?"

Lockheed has cause for concern -- the company is not only safeguarding a wealth of U.S. government military information from external sources, it's also protecting its own valuable projects -- the F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft; the Aegis naval combat system; and the THAAD missile defense.

A U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel April Cunningham told Reuters Saturday night that the risk from the breach was "minimal and we [the USAF] don't expect any adverse effect."

Lockheed Martin claims that no compromise of customer, program or employees' personal data occurred. The company has made similar claims about past breaches.

Now that the Pentagon is involved, if anything was stolen, it should be identified shortly.

IV. Who Attacked Lockheed Martin?

After the pressing issue of what was lost, perhaps the second most compelling question is who was behind the breach. Military officials and security staff at Lockheed are looking for clues in local time stamped information stored on the server and IP logs, trying to find out who accessed the compromised systems from where and when.

The problem is not easy as hackers commonly reroute their malicious traffic through multiple proxies, disguising their location. That said, given the nature of attack -- take down one of the world's top security firms and then use that information to compromise a top defense contractor -- involvement by a foreign government is suspected.

Lockheed posted a job listing last week requesting the services of a "lead computer forensic examiner". Requirements included someone who could "attack signatures, tactics, techniques and procedures associated with advanced threats" and "reverse engineer attacker encoding protocols." The cyber forensics expert's first task will likely be to try to pinpoint the identity of the attacker.

The most likely suspect is obviously China, with whom the U.S. government has been waging a "cyberwar" with for a decade now. China hires freelance hackers and maintains a large military force of official hackers as well. It uses this force to infiltrate international utilities, businesses, government servers, and defense contractors, looking for valuable information.

China has recently been testing a stealth jet, the J-20, which contains features curiously similar to those found on past Lockheed Martin designs. China insists, though, that it did not use stolen information to build its new weapon.

V. One Million Threats

Lockheed Martin's IT staff say they encounter 1 million "incidents" a day. They have to filter through these, distinguishing "white noise" from serious threats.

The Maryland data center from which information was taken is a state of the art facility, built in 2008. It covers 25,000 square-feet and cost $17M USD to build. But even with relatively modern systems and protections, defenses were still not strong enough to hold off the sophisticated and savvy attacker.

The company has a separate back-up data center in Denver, Colorado, which shares some of the company's contract workload. That center is not believed to have been breached in the intrusion.

Going ahead, Lockheed Martin will invariably face pressure from the U.S. Military and Congress to do a better job in making its systems breach-proof. But given the company's budget versus China's virtually blank check given to cyber security efforts, one has to wonder how much the company will be able to do with so little.

Sondra Barbour, the company's chief information officer, reminded employees in an email, "The fact is, in this new reality, we are a frequent target of adversaries around the world."

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Russia Snubs India
Moscow cancels two military exercises with India

Russia has cancelled both its 'Indra' series of military exercises with India. Last month, a flotilla of five warships from the Indian navy's eastern fleet that went for joint naval exercises to Vladivostok in the Russian far-east, was turned back without any manoeuvres. The warships-which included the missile destroyers INS Delhi, INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay-were warmly received by the Russian navy, but when asked about the exercises, they were told the Russians had no ships to spare. On a request from the Indian fleet, a face-saving 'table top exercise or a land-based simulation, was carried out.

What rubbed salt in their wounds was that Russian warships sailed out for an exercise of their own, apparently belying their earlier claims. The cancelled exercise was hushed up even as the warships returned to Visakhapatnam. A befuddled Ministry of Defence (mod) was groping for answers when they were snubbed again. Last week, Russia informed the mod that it had cancelled the upcoming joint army exercises scheduled to be held in Russia in June. One of the reasons given was that the mod had not informed Moscow of the army exercises in advance. Petr Topychkhanov of the Carnegie Moscow Centre says the cancellation of the exercises does not reflect any change in relations with India. "One of the reasons could be the hard process of military reform in Russia. The Russian armed forces are unready for an international exercise at this stage," he says.

Since 2003, India and Russia have conducted five of the Indra series military exercises between the armies and navies of both sides. The last such exercise was held between Russian and Indian army units in Uttarakhand in October last year. In sharp contrast, India has conducted over 60 military exercises with the US. Indian defence officials admit that exercises with Russia are largely symbolic but are an important barometer of healthy ties between the two sides. The strategic partnership with Russia still holds.

Indian and Russian soldiersDefence Minister A.K. Antony says that Delhi's proximity to Washington will not be at the cost of ties with Moscow. On the ground, however, ties have been on a roller-coaster ride. Russia is unhappy at losing a lucrative $10 billion contract for 126 multi-role medium combat aircraft. The iaf narrowed its choice to France's Rafale and Europe's Typhoon, ejecting US and Russian contenders. Topychkhanov does not rule out cancellation of the military exercises as a retort by the miffed Russians.

Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik visited Moscow recently to inspect progress on the joint Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (fgfa). The visit was also meant to mollify Russia and indicate India's commitment to the futuristic fighter which is expected to replace the most current fighter aircraft in the iaf's inventory when it is ready for squadron service in 2017.

Relations between India and Russia soured in recent years over the extended deadline for the refit of the aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov. The refit slipped by four years and the its cost doubled to $2.3 billion. The carrier will now be delivered late next year. Deadlines for the acquisition of an Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine have slipped by over three years. India paid $670 million for completing the submarine under a 2003 contract. This month, a 100-man Indian crew that had gone to Vladivostok to bring the vessel back returned empty-handed. There is no word on when the strategic submarine, which the navy desperately needs, will be transferred to India. Russia is reportedly keen that India pay for the completion of a second unfinished Akula hull at the Komsomolsk shipyard. This has been turned down by the navy.

The real issue is the poor sourcing of components for Russian-made equipment operated by the Indian armed forces. Over half the inventory of the three armed forces comprise equipment of Russian origin. "It takes nearly a year for us to get even export permissions from Russia. This severely impacts force preparedness," says a defence official.

Some of India's consternation over these delays may have spilled over at a meeting between navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and the visiting Russian navy chief, Admiral Sergeevich Vysotskiy, this January. Various department heads of the Indian navy read out the riot act on the poor serviceability of warships, aircraft and submarines to the Russian naval delegation. After the meeting, Vysotskiy privately conveyed his dismay at the ambush. The warning signs appeared at a recent joint meeting in Moscow when Russian defence officials refused to discuss military exercises. Evidently, it was a portent of the chill to come.

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Indo-Russian Defence Ties Part 1of 2

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ignore the critics. There is no plane that can compete with the F-35

By Alex Wilner and Marco Wyss

Stephen Harper’s recent electoral victory all but guarantees that Canadian air force pilots will be flying the Joint Strike Fighter, or F-35, in the years ahead. With the fighter jet debate finally over, the episode affords Canadians with two lessons to apply in future decisions over military procurement.

Today, there’s a quasi-revolution taking place in fighter jet technology. We are entering a period dominated by “fifth-generation” aircraft. These aircraft will have advanced stealth capabilities, advanced sensors and new kinds of control and display technology, as well as the ability to maintain high speeds at longer distances than was the case with past generations of jets.
Because of this, while opponents of the F-35 argue that Canada’s aging CF-18 Hornets can be replaced more cheaply with fourth- (and “fourth-plus-”) generation aircraft, they’re missing the point. Upgraded fourth-generation aircraft — like the American F-18 Super Hornet, for example — will surely be able to fly the kinds of missions Canada already participates in, but will essentially be obsolete from the moment we purchase them. Eventually fourth-generation aircraft will go the way of third- and second-generation aircraft: to the dump.

Fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 will have a qualitative edge over older models. Period. Our allies have gotten the message: Britain, Australia, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and Norway will all be flying F-35s by 2020. Israel and Japan are likely to follow.

If Canadians want to equip their air force with the best available tools, they need to focus on next generation technology. There’s little point in looking backwards. The risk in spending a lesser fortune today on a supped-up version of the CF-18 is that Canada will find itself replacing outdated hardware before long. That’s an expensive proposition.

Second, where Canadians buy their weapons can be just as important as to what they buy. When a government decides to purchase military hardware from another country, it isn’t only thinking about improving the quality of its armed forces. It’s also thinking about the political and strategic signals it’s sending to others. The arms trade can be a political minefield. Ideally, Canada will buy its military hardware from an ally. In doing so, we’ll avoid sending an unintended message with our purchase and we’ll pre-emptively grease the wheels in the event spare parts are needed during periods of crisis. It’s important, too, that Canada signs off with a manufacturer that will survive over the long haul. That will ease with maintenance, upgrades, and future developments.

In terms of fighter-jets, that leaves Canada with few options. We could approach the French or the Swedes. Both have sophisticated warplanes in the Rafale and Gripen but, like the Super Hornet, these jets rely on older technology. And given the huge investment needed to leap into the fifth-generation, both countries are likely to close shop. It’s possible that a European consortium will emerge in the future, but it’s a long shot. Several European partners have already invested in the F-35, so they won’t be inclined to support another venture. Like it or not, the era of the European fighter is coming to a close.

That leaves Russia and China. Both countries are actively developing next generation fighters to rival the F-35. Russia began testing the PAK-FA a year ago, while China unveiled its J-20 prototype in January. But are Canadians really prepared to fly Russian or Chinese jets? What would our allies think? The political and strategic ramifications would be monumental.

Decisions over how best to arm Canada’s military are always complex, but there are lessons from the F-35 episode Canadians would be wise to consider in the future.

National Post

Alex Wilner and Marco Wyss are senior fellows at the Center for Security Studies at the ETH-Zurich, Switzerland. Wilner is also a fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa.


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F-35 JSF Tribute

F-35 glass cockpit - How to fly and drop bombs (Real Sim)


Wichita KS OKs its share of incentives for Hawker Beechcraft

The Wichita Eagle
Wichita followed through on its promise to retain thousands of jobs at Hawker Beechcraft with $2.5 million in taxpayer money.

But it's not saving quite as many jobs as advertised.

In news releases, documents and statements, government and company officials said the agreement requires the aircraft company to maintain at least 4,000 jobs.

What the City Council voted on Tuesday says the company agrees to keep 4,000 jobs. But it doesn't reduce cash payments to the company unless its work force falls below 3,600.

"It's pretty egregious that we're voting on something that's a false number," said District 4 council member Michael O'Donnell.

But vote they did: 6-1 in favor of the cash incentive.

Approval was all but assured after negotiations between Hawker Beechcraft and former Gov. Mark Parkinson resulted in a December announcement that a tentative agreement to save one of the state's largest employers had been reached.

It provided Hawker Beechcraft with $40 million in state incentives, plus $5 million cash split between Wichita and Sedgwick County.

In return, the company will keep its headquarters, engineering, supply chain management, composite fuselage manufacturing, aircraft final assembly, flight testing and global customer service and support in Wichita. Louisiana had tried to lure the plant.

The council's vote Tuesday locks the city into paying $500,000 a year for the next five years as long as the company maintains at least 3,600 jobs.

Payments will be reduced proportionally for each job short of that.

If the agreement had required Hawker to maintain 4,000 employees and the company cut its work force to 3,600, that would have been a 10 percent reduction.

Instead of getting $1 million from the city and county that year, it would get $900,000.

Nicole Alexander, a spokeswoman for Hawker Beechcraft, said "4,000 is definitely our target" and that the difference in numbers may be part of a buffer built into the agreement.

"It gives the business elasticity to respond to the market on any given week," she said.

O'Donnell said the use of 4,000 jobs retained is disingenuous given that the deal reduces incentive payments only if employment dips below 3,600. He asked how the city can protect those other 400 jobs.

"The provisions of the agreement were negotiated directly with the governor of the state of Kansas, and so I'm not certain that I have a good answer for that," said Allen Bell, director of the city's office of urban development.

O'Donnell, who has opposed other business incentives, said he may have voted in favor of the incentives if the numbers had been more transparent.

"How can I vote for something that's not solid?" he asked.

The deal met other criticism.

Clinton Coen, a District 3 council candidate who was eliminated in this spring's primary election, called the deal a bailout.

"This is nothing more than the state of Louisiana pitted against the state of Kansas by the company in a ploy to get money," he told council members.

Mayor Carl Brewer challenged the 19-year-old.

Brewer said before the recession, Cessna had 12,000 employees — now it has 6,000.

The city and state are fighting against more than just Louisiana, Brewer said.

"Our competition is probably another 25 states here in the United States and China and several other different countries," he said.

Brewer asked Coen if he knew what other states are offering these companies.

"The same thing you're offering," Coen replied.

"No," Brewer said. "They're offering to build a facility, provide the land and move the company there and provide them with $500 million in cash. That's just one city, one state."

Brewer said Wichita lost 1,500 jobs to a state that paid a company $1 million per job. He did not name the company.

"So the threat is a real threat," Brewer said.

The mayor said he would be happy to set up a meeting between Coen and aircraft company officials to hear first-hand what the aviation industry is going through.

"OK," Coen said.

Reach Brent D. Wistrom at 316-268-6228 or
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

China blocks release of UN report on NKorea

China blocked the release Tuesday of a report by U.N. experts accusing North Korea of violating U.N. sanctions that ban the export and import of ballistic missile and nuclear-related items as well as conventional arms and luxury goods.

China's U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the Security Council to discuss implementation of two rounds of sanctions against the North that Beijing is "still studying that report."

The report by the seven independent experts appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to monitor implementation of sanctions was sent to the 15 Security Council members for their approval by Tuesday morning. Diplomats said China was the only country that objected to its immediate release.

Britain's deputy U.N. ambassador Philip Parham said there was "pretty broad support" for the report in the council but China had problems with it.

The panel's first report, in May 2010, was also held up by China, which has close ties to North Korea. It was finally released in November after Beijing dropped its objections.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a faxed statement that "China is earnest and responsible in implementing Security Council resolutions." She said the panel's report "does not represent the Security Council's position" nor the position of the council committee that monitors sanctions against North Korea.

The report, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, said North Korea remains "actively engaged" in exporting ballistic missiles, components and technology to numerous customers in the Middle East and South Asia in violation of U.N. sanctions.

The panel said prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between North Korea and Iran on regularly scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air, with trans-shipment through a third country that diplomats identified as China.

At a news conference Wednesday, a Chinese foreign ministry official denied that such shipments to Iran and other Middle East countries came through China.

"I completely deny such reports," said Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue.

The panel also said North Korea has completed - or is about to complete - construction of a second launch site for long-range rockets on its west coast close to Tongchangdong which could be used for ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. sanctions. It said the installations appear "bigger and more sophisticated" than the original site on the east coast used for the 1998, 2006 and 2009 Taepodong missile launches.

The Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second test in 2009 to try to derail the country's rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The second round strengthened an arms embargo, authorized ship searches on the high seas for suspected banned items, and ordered an asset freeze and travel ban on companies and individuals involved in the country's nuclear and weapons programs.

While U.N. sanctions haven't stopped the North's ballistic missile and nuclear programs or its arms trading, the panel said, "they have made it more difficult and expensive for the country to pursue these."

But North Korea has exploited loopholes and other vulnerabilities in shipping and transportation practices and has become increasingly sophisticated in establishing shell and front companies and offshore financial agents, and in using multiple affiliates and aliases to mask individuals and companies subject to sanctions, it said.

As an example, the panel said information has recently come to light that Union Top Management, the shell company registered in Hong Kong that chartered an aircraft impounded in Bangkok last December with 35 tons of arms, planned five different fights. The Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane flying from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, with the arms was the first flight, it said.

Portugal's U.N. Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, who chairs the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea, told reporters he believes the allegations in the report "are indeed serious."

He said he expects the committee to informally discuss the panel's findings and recommendations.

According to the panel, North Korea announced several major escalations in its nuclear program during the past year: the weaponization of separated plutonium, revelation of a uranium enrichment program, construction of a light water reactor, and announcement of a program to develop nuclear fusion technology to obtain "safe and environment-friendly new energy."

The panel made 24 recommendations on improving monitoring of sanctions and oversight of their implementation and strengthening measures to prevent the export and import of banned items including enhanced cargo inspections and customs vigilance.

The panel said North Korea should be "compelled" to abandon its uranium enrichment program, saying it believes the government's aim in starting it was primarily for military purposes. North Korea should also abandon construction of a new light water reactor, which it is using as justification for the uranium enrichment program, it said.

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Dispatch: China Blocks U.N. Report on Missile Technology

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pakistan builds low yield nuclear capability

SINGAPORE: Pakistan’s successful test of a missile able to carry short range nuclear weapons threatens to raise tensions in a region already nervous that the death of Osama bin Laden will create more instability.

Tactical nuclear weapons, as these are called, are often seen as more dangerous than the traditional strategic weapons because their small size and vulnerability to misuse. Theft makes them a risk to global security.

The biggest concern is that these low yield weapons are seen as less destructive and therefore more likely to be used than other classes of weapons, forcing most nuclear states to minimise the risk by cutting back stockpiles.

Pakistani experts say the country has been forced to develop tactical nuclear weapons because of India’s “Cold Start” plan under which Indian troops are primed to carry out a lightning strike inside Pakistan if another Mumbai-style attack is traced back to Pakistan-based militant groups.

The military said it had tested last month the 60-km (36-mile) range NASR surface-to-surface missile which carries nuclear warheads to boost “deterrence at short ranges”.

Security experts in the United States, India and Pakistan said it meant the military planned to deploy these weapons in the battlefield, escalating the regional nuclear competition that has often seemed a replay of the US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War.

“Pakistan’s development and testing of nuclear-capable short-range missiles is a destabilizing and potentially dangerous development,” Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said.

“It suggests that Pakistan would seriously contemplate use on the battlefield in the event of an incursion by Indian forces.”

India may yet respond by mounting nuclear warheads on its shorter range missiles to meet the Pakistani threat. It tested low yield nuclear devices in 1998 but there has been no word since then on whether it has added them to its arsenal.

“Our capability in the area of low yield fission devices is well known,” a former Indian defence scientist involved in the 1998 tests said, declining further comment.

Pakistan responded to India’s tests with explosions of its own. Both nations have since been expanding their arsenal, Pakistan even more and at a pace that Western experts say may, within a decade, make it the fourth largest weapons power, behind the United States, Russia and China.

Pakistan says it has invested a lot of resources to ensure that its nuclear facilities, materials and weapons are secure.

But Pakistan’s support for militant groups including al Qaeda and the Taliban, who have found sanctuary along the Afghan border, has always heightened concerns about its ever expanding armoury. These worries have deepened after al Qaeda leader bin Laden was found and killed in a garrison town.

If there was one nuclear-armed country that kept him awake at night, it was Pakistan, senior White House coordinator on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, Gary Samore said.

“What I worry about is that, in the broader tensions and problems within Pakistani society and polity…even the best nuclear security measures might break down,” Samore said in an interview published in the May 2011 issue of Arms Control Today.

“You’re dealing with a country that is under tremendous stress internally and externally, and that’s what makes me worry.”


The problem with deploying tactical weapons to the battlefield is that command and control has to be dispersed down to military units on the ground.

This increases the risk of things going wrong, either through miscalculation, an accident or the nightmare scenario of infiltration by militant groups, nuclear experts say.

In either case, once Pakistan had fired off the missile, it would invite retaliation, the extent of which is unknown.

Within Pakistan itself, security experts have questioned the logic of deploying tactical weapons, arguing that it exposed the country to bigger risks rather than improving security.

Ejaz Haider, a Pakistani security expert and columnist, said if Pakistan is going to unleash these weapons as the Indian military crosses the border, it would effectively be dropping them on its own soil.

“We are, of course, not even considering how our own troops and population would be exposed to the fallout from a TNW (tactical nuclear weapon),” Haider said.

But several experts also say that India’s Cold Start doctrine, even if it is not fully operational, is seen as a real threat in Pakistan.

Cold Start is aimed at mounting rapid military incursions into Pakistan to punish it, take limited amounts of territory, and then negotiate to compel Islamabad to rein in militant groups that act against India.

It is not aimed at threatening the Pakistani state into resorting to its final, nuclear option, but it’s a risky gamble.

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Pakistan successfully flight test of Air Launched Cruise Missile Hatf-8 (Ra'ad) - April 29, 2011

Pakistan successfully test fires Hatf-2 (Abdali) missile‎

Pakistan Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile..

IMAGES: Pakistan Building New Nuclear Facility

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pakistan threatens to cut NATO's supply line !

ISLAMABAD — Still angry over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistani lawmakers demanded an end to American missile strikes against Islamist militants on their soil Saturday, and warned that Pakistan may cut NATO's supply line to Afghanistan if the attacks don't stop.

The nonbinding parliamentary resolution reflects the precarious state of the U.S.-Pakistani alliance, which is vital to the war effort in neighboring Afghanistan. The bin Laden raid has brought to the fore a longstanding dilemma that U.S. strikes that Washington says kill militants often are seen by Pakistanis as a violation of sovereignty with mostly civilian victims, exacerbating an already-high anti-American sentiment.

During a visit to Afghanistan, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on Pakistan to be a better partner in the fight against terrorists.

"We obviously want a Pakistan that is prepared to respect the interests of Afghanistan, and to be a real ally in our efforts to combat terrorism," said Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts. "We believe that there are things that can be done better."

Story: Kerry: Pakistan can be better ally against terror
The Pakistani measure was passed after a rare, private briefing in Parliament by Pakistan's military leaders, who were humiliated by the May 2 U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, a northwest garrison city. Pakistanis were angry the military allowed it to happen while the U.S. said the proximity to a military academy and the capital, Islamabad, raised suspicion that some security elements had been harboring bin Laden.

Washington also has been unable to get Islamabad to go after militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, who use its soil as hideouts but stage attacks only inside Afghanistan. Analysts say Pakistan may be maintaining ties to some insurgents because it wants leverage in Afghanistan — and a wedge against archrival India — once the U.S. pulls out.

Pakistani officials deny links to militant groups, saying they are too stretched battling insurgents attacking the Pakistani state to go after those fighting in Afghanistan right now.

Underscoring the threat, a roadside bomb hit a passenger bus Saturday near Kharian, a garrison town in eastern Pakistan, killing at least six passengers and wounding 20, senior police official Mian Sultan said. The bus was en route to Kharian from the nearby city of Gujrat.

On Friday, two suicide bombers struck a training center for paramilitary police recruits , killing 87 people in the Shabqadar area of Pakistan's northwest in what the Pakistani Taliban called a revenge attack for the death of bin Laden.

Pakistani military officials insist they did not know bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, and U.S. officials say they have no evidence that the top leadership was involved in hiding the 54-year-old al-Qaida chief.

Story: Pakistan parliament condemns bin Laden raid

Still, the U.S. didn't warn Pakistan ahead of the raid, and suspicions linger that some elements in its security establishment were helping to hide the terrorist leader.

That has deepened distrust between the two countries, who have had an uneasy alliance since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Ties have frayed in recent months over the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January, as well as missile strikes that have allegedly killed civilians.

Davis, who claimed the two Pakistanis were trying to rob him, was eventually freed after the victims families agreed to financial compensation, even as the U.S. insisted he had diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

The U.S. and NATO rely heavily — though increasingly less — on land routes in Pakistan to ferry non-lethal material to their troops across the border in Afghanistan. That gives Pakistan some leverage in its dealings with the U.S.

Last fall, after NATO choppers from Afghanistan killed two Pakistani soldiers during a border incursion, Pakistan closed the border to U.S. and NATO supply trucks for nearly two weeks.

The parliamentary resolution called the U.S. raid a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and said Pakistan would not tolerate future such incursions. It also criticized the drone strikes and said the government should consider preventing U.S. and NATO supply trucks from crossing over to Afghanistan if they continue.

The measure doesn't have the force of law, but is likely to be influential because it enjoys broad support from the ruling party and the opposition. It also reflected the political cost in Pakistan of the partnership with the U.S.

It's difficult to say how much of the anger over missile strikes is real and how much of it is Pakistani officials' way of appealing to a domestic audience that is largely anti-U.S. The government is widely believed to secretly aid in the missile strikes.

Few Pakistani lawmakers would discuss the confidential session, which began Friday and stretched into Saturday morning. The length alone suggested that the generals were questioned vigorously — a rarity in a place where the military operates largely out of civilian control.

Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha admitted negligence in tracing bin Laden, but also noted that Pakistan had cooperated with the U.S. in helping kill or capture numerous bin Laden allies.

When asked why the CIA was able to track bin Laden, the spy chief said the U.S. agency had managed to acquire more sources in Pakistan than the Pakistani agencies because it paid informants far better, according to a lawmaker who attended the session.

"Where we pay 10,000 rupees ($118), they pay $10,000," one lawmaker described Pasha as saying. The lawmaker described the proceedings on condition of anonymity because the session was supposed to be confidential.

Pasha offered to step down if the political leaders demanded it, but none did, according to the lawmaker. Still, Parliament requested that an independent commission probe the U.S. raid debacle instead of one led by generals.

Pakistan: A nation in turmoil

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"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." Samuel Adams

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September 11 2001 Video.

Russian Helicopters' London flotation fails to get off the ground

The state-backed aircraft maker Russian Helicopters has shelved its proposed float in London after failing to attract enough investors.

Andrei Reus, chief executive of parent company Oboronprom, said he believed the market will "benefit from more time to reflect upon the true value and growth potential of our business".

The pulling of the IPO is the latest in a line of setbacks for Russian companies trying to list in London. The likes of Etalon, the property developer, have made it to the market at the bottom of their price range, while mobile phone retailer Euroset was forced to scrap IPO plans.

In total, 10 Russian companies have tried to float in London since the start of the year, but only four have made it.

Russian Helicopters, which has made one in 10 of the world's helicopter fleet, planned to raise about $500m (£306m). It wanted to issue $250m in new shares and sell $250m held by Russian state-controlled defence group Oboronprom to pay down debt and invest in an expansion plan.

However, investors are understood to have been put off by the valuation of the company of up to $2.4bn, despite claims from management that Russian Helicopters is "already the undisputed leader in some of the most attractive and fastest growing markets".

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Russian Mil Mi-8 Water Takeoff Fail

Vladimir Putin Test Drives New Car

Nobel laureate says science investment critical to nation's economy, future

WENDY PITLICK Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD, S.D. — The United States is falling behind in science and technology, officials say, and the slip could threaten the country's global economic primacy — unless the nation steps up investment in basic science research and in projects like the proposed national underground lab in Lead, S.D.

"Science and engineering are the drivers of a modern economy," said Dr. Jerome Friedman, a retired Nobel-laureate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We will not be competitive in terms of our economy unless we are a leader in science."

A report by a special committee representing the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine says the United States has fallen far behind China and Europe in publications, patents, biomedical research and other key aspects of science and technology. The 2010 report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited," prepared in response to a request by a bipartisan group of senators and members of Congress, recommended doubling the country's research budget in order to remain competitive and halt the downward slide.

"If the nation is to maintain (its) economic strength, science has to remain a priority," said Dr. Mike Lubell from the American Physical Society. He pointed to the proposed deep underground science and engineering laboratory, or DUSEL, planned at the former Homestake Gold Mine in Lead as precisely the kind of project the country needs to maintain — and boost — its standing in the world.

The DUSEL "would certainly be consistent with the overall recommendations in the academy's report," said Lubell, whose American Physical Society is one of the country's largest physics membership organizations and the world's premier physics publisher.

Friedman, who is not affiliated with the DUSEL proposal but who is familiar with it, said building the underground laboratory would be a step in the right direction because discoveries hatched there could lead to greater technologies in the private sector, improving the health and well being of society.

He cited examples of modern technology that are directly attributable to basic science research such as: The Internet, which was developed as an avenue of communication for particle physicists; accelerators used in cancer therapy that were designed for particle physics; MRI machines that were developed as the result of scientists studying the properties of a nucleus; and the study of X-rays that yielded the development of CAT Scan technology.

"We would be very much poorer in terms of our ability to cure people, to feed people and do basic things if we didn't do basic science," he said.

With experiments in dark matter detection, neutrinos, carbon sequestration and many other ground-breaking topics already planned for the DUSEL, Friedman said the country could reclaim its position as a scientific leader.

But the road ahead will be "difficult," Friedman acknowledged. The project has faced repeated funding hurdles, and the current taste for austerity in Washington could portend future budget tussles. "I think (building the DUSEL) will depend upon our political leaders having some foresight into the importance of it and what it will take to keep the United States a super power in science as well as the military domain," he said.

One such political leader, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., recently demonstrated his support for investments in research and development. Holt, who was a physicist at Princeton University before launching his political career in 1999, called efforts to indiscriminately cut programs in education and innovation reckless. The longtime advocate and supporter of scientific research asked his colleagues to consider investing in research and development that would encourage high tech jobs and income.

"As the budget process moves forward, I will work to ensure that we invest in, encourage, and support the spirit of American innovation and entrepreneurship that has been the cornerstone of our national prosperity since our founding," Holt said as Congress worked to reconcile the federal budget for the remainder of the 2011 year.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said support for science in general, and specifically the DUSEL project, remains high in Congress and in the executive branch, despite the economic downturn. Johnson was an original supporter of the lab, having secured $10 million in Housing and Urban Development grant funds in 2001.

Though Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. said he supports tightening the federal government's belt across all sectors of government, he said the decision to build DUSEL should be based on scientific promise and peer review — not politics.

Funding transition

The project has faced funding hurdles from the very beginning. In 2004 the state of South Dakota threw its full support behind the lab project. Since then it has invested more than $120 million in private funds and tax dollars to develop an interim laboratory to demonstrate that multidisciplinary science can be achieved at the site — and pave the way for the deeper federal facility. Today the not-yet-fully-built interim lab, known as the Sanford Lab, already hosts 19 biology, physics, geology and engineering experiments.

Two major experiments — the Large Underground Xenon dark matter detector and the MAJORANA Demonstrator that seeks to determine whether neutrinos are their own antiparticle — are slated to be deployed underground in late 2011. Clean room space to ensure the ultra-pure production of copper for the MAJORANA (pronounced MY-or-ah-na) project has already been completed, and scientists are now preparing to fashion copper that is not tainted by the cosmic radiation on the earth's surface. Ultra-purity is paramount, scientists say, since even the slightest radioactivity could devastate the multi-million dollar experiments.

The state's support has been crucial as the path to full federal funding is very long — and increasingly uncertain.

Last December the National Science Board nixed $29 million in anticipated federal funding that was expected to pick up when state dollars run out in 2011, raising eyebrows at the federal and state level. With an operating budget of about $1 million a month just to keep the site viable for science, lab officials say the funds were necessary to carry operations and to maintain a design and engineering team until the National Science Foundation decided whether to build DUSEL. The funds, officials said, were largely needed to continue pumping out the water that continually flows into the mine, and which filled the mine when it was closed a decade ago, as well as to maintain the minimal staff and contracts necessary to keep the site ready for federal approval.

The science board's unexpected decision raised caution flags throughout the scientific and political community, from Capitol Hill to Lead, as National Science Board members called for other science funding agencies, such as the Department of Energy, to come forward with funds.

"There are a whole range of other international deep labs being built, and we thought DUSEL needs to be considered within the international context," said National Science Board Chairman Dr. Ray Bowen. "NSF dollars are really limited, and we have to look and see where is the most effective use of NSF money ... and we didn't think the DUSEL bridge award was going down the right path."

In February 2011, the National Science Foundation pledged $4 million in federal funding that is expected to start in June and help carry operations at the lab for four months, until the 2012 fiscal year begins in October.

President Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposal includes $15 million to fund DUSEL from the Department of Energy. DUSEL supporters are hopeful that line item will survive sweeping budget cuts that are anticipated this year, since that is the money that will help keep operations going after the Sanford Lab runs out of dollars in October.

The funding move shifts the project from where it originated, as an answer to a National Science Foundation solicitation for underground lab proposals, to the Department of Energy's stewardship. Both agencies have experience in lab management, as the Department of Energy operates 10 national laboratories across the country, as well as other research facilities and infrastructure. The National Science Foundation devotes about a quarter of its budget to research instrumentation and infrastructure, including Amundsen-Scott South Pole station in Antarctica, and the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) High Magnetic Field Labs in Louisiana and Washington.

Important science investments

But no matter what agency calls the shots on the project, experts say investments in DUSEL must be made in order to preserve America's future as an economic leader.

"It's a large amount of money but it's a very small investment for a country such as the United States," Friedman said. "The real issue is, can America be great in science again? It is my belief that what you will get from DUSEL in the long run will more than pay that debt many times over."

In fact, he said, most economists agree that the percentage of our national economy that depends on science and technology is greater than one-third. Some economists even say that 70 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is attributable to science and technology investments.

"In one shape or another, the accumulated technology is probably even more than (70 percent)," said John Quinn, president of National American University in Rapid City and an economist. "Technology drives productivity and productivity drives human progress. What the DUSEL represents is basic science that can drive economic activity."

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Deep Science-DUSEL research vision

Touring George Hearst's Homestake Gold Mine

Friday, May 13, 2011

NASA Plans Test of New Moon Lander Morpheus
By Clara Moskowitz

A squat, insectlike contraption is set to fly untethered for the first time soon in a NASA test of technologies designed to take humans to the moon, Mars or beyond.

The unmanned Morpheus lander, named after the Greek god of dreams, was built at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston using cutting-edge technologies that the agency hopes will one day enable manned missions to another planet or even an asteroid. The vehicle, about the size of an SUV, could carry about 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of cargo to the moon.

Not only are the technologies onboard innovative, but NASA's process of building the lander is, too.

"Part of what this project set out to do was to question the way we've done things," Project Morpheus manager Matt Ondler told "We purposefully set out to see if we could do things faster and cheaper, leveraging off the work that was already done."

So far, the project has cost NASA about $4 million over the last 18 months, not counting the NASA work force, which is accounted for under NASA's general overhead.

Cutting-edge tech

One of the primary technologies being tested on the lander is a system intended to spot dangerous craters or boulders that could make a landing spot on another planet unsafe. The so-called Automated Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology — or ALHAT — uses lasers to image the surface of a body and identify hazards as it flies over. [Video: NASA's Morpheus Lander Lights Engine]

Previous missions, such as the Apollo 11 moon landing, have taught us that such a capability could be critical. When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were nearing the lunar surface on that first moon trip, they almost ran out of fuel while looking for a suitable spot to touch down.

Another innovation being tested on Morpheus is a lighter, safer mix of fuel.

The landing machine is powered by liquid oxygen and methane, which NASA says is a safer alternative to traditional spacecraft propellants. Not only that, but it's 10 to 20 times less expensive and weighs significantly less — an important distinction when every pound of weight carried into space requires an additional 15 pounds of fuel to get it there.

Such a fuel mix might also be renewable at the spacecraft's destination. Engineers are already working on methods to extract oxygen from the lunar surface, and methane is known to exist in the atmosphere on Mars.

Tethered tests

Morpheus has already undergone several tests while tethered to a crane so it doesn't get out of control. But these haven't always gone quite as planned.

One test on April 27, for example, had to be aborted after the lander started swinging wildly. In NASA parlance, "shortly after ignition the vehicle pitched over and control authority was lost," according to a NASA Morpheus blog.

But the Morpheus researchers aren't discouraged, and are gearing up for the machine's biggest test to date: an untethered, free flight up to an altitude of 100 feet (30 meters), then over 100 feet to the west, then a landing.

The exact date for this test isn't yet set, but mission managers expect it to occur sometime in June.

"There are still a few more issues that we're working through," Ondler said. "We want to have two complete tethered flights in a row with no anomalies before we go untethered."

The test will be a significant milestone for the Morpheus project.

"It's sort of like taking the training wheels off," Ondler said. "If we've done everything right, it should work just fine, but there's no safety net to catch it if things don't go right."

The project involves about 30 mostly full-time workers, plus another 30 part-time employees at Johnson Space Center, Ondler said.

"For a lot of the people here, this is why they came to NASA," Ondler said. "It was to build stuff, to light engines off and fly things, so I think it's been very exciting for people who've had a chance to work on it."

Ondler said the work on Morpheus is going so well, NASA hopes to expand the development model to more projects throughout the agency, both at Johnson Space Center and other NASA centers around the country.

"Projects like Morpheus are invigorating and infectious," said Steve Altemus, director of Johnson's Engineering Directorate, in a statement. "And they help us find better and cheaper ways to do things. To challenge our existing processes. To innovate."

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Project Morpheus: Americans Heading Back to the Moon?

[Video: NASA's Morpheus Lander Lights Engine]