Secret In The Sky

Round and round the Earth it goes, who or what it’s spying on very few people know.

Delta 4 rocket successfully lofts surveillance satellite

A Delta 4 rocket made a thunderous departure from California on Tuesday afternoon, only to slip into a news blackout minutes later while it climbed higher and faster to deploy a classified spy satellite, a success-defining milestone that was confirmed by hobbyist observers.

The United Launch Alliance-made booster roared away from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12:57 p.m. local (7:12:57 p.m. EDT; 2312:57 GMT) on a southwesterly course to reach a retrograde orbit inclined 123 degrees relative to the equator.

. . .

The hush-hush nature for the rest of flight is all part of launching covert payloads for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency that operates the country’s fleet of spy satellites. The NRO does not disclose the purpose of its spacecraft being sent up on each launch, saying only that the flight was called the NROL-25 mission.

See also:
Rocket Launches Secret Spy Satellite for US Military
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
US launches new spy satellite NROL-25
Delta 4 lifts off
Spy satellite-carrying rocket blasts off
U.S. rocket carrying classified payload launches
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Rocket
Rocket carrying classified payload launches from California’s central coast
Rocket launch includes key parts from Utah’s ATK sites
List of NRO Launches
National Reconnaissance OfficeNational Reconnaissance Office

According to the listed launch designation, NROL-25 is a radar imaging satellite operating in a retrograde low Earth orbit.

/if I had to guess what it’s looking at, I’d guess Iran

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Sentinel Down

And yet again, after leaving behind a cutting edge stealth helicopter during the bin Laden raid, the U.S. conducts another, involuntary, state-of-the-art military technology transfer to the enemy.

Iran’s capture of US drone shines light on spy mission, but may reveal little

The Iranian capture of a high-tech, stealth U.S. drone shines a light on the American spying mission there, but probably doesn’t tell Tehran much that it didn’t already know, a senior U.S. official said.

The RQ-170 Sentinel was providing surveillance over Iran and didn’t just accidentally wander away from the Afghanistan border region, as first suggested. The official said Wednesday that the Iranians will no doubt be able to tell where the aircraft flew. A bigger U.S. concern, the official said, was that the Iranians are likely to share or sell whatever they have recovered of the aircraft to the Chinese, Russians or others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the mission.

Experts and officials acknowledge that there is no self-destruct mechanism on the Sentinels — which are used both by the military and the CIA for classified surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

. . .

U.S. officials said that while they have enough information to confirm that Iran does have the wreckage, they said they are not sure what the Iranians will be able to glean technologically from what they found. It is unlikely that Iran would be able to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

See also:
US admits downed drone spied on Iran
Iran says US spy drone was flying deep inside its airspace when it was downed
Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands
Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone
U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone
Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets
China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone
Sentinel unmanned drone lost in Iran among US most valuable warfare assets
Drone belonged to CIA, officials say
Downed drone was on CIA mission
Officials: Drone downed in Iran on CIA mission
Drone Lost in Iran Was Joint CIA-Military Reconnaissance Plane
Iran’s downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington
US ‘concerned’ over drone lost near Iran border
Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry
US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran
Spy drone may provide little help to Iran
U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
U.S. Made Covert Plan to Retrieve Iran Drone
Iran: The Stealth War Continues
Drone Drama Proves Iran Is Ready to Rumble
Stealth drone highlights tougher U.S. strategy on Iran
U.S. drones have been spying on Iran for years

The good news is that we seem to be paying close attention to what Iran is up to, have been for years, and can penetrate Iranian airspace with near impunity. These past and, hopefully, ongoing intelligence gathering and surveillance activities should help provide a detailed blueprint for when push comes to shove and Iran has to be dealt with militarily, which is sure to eventually become a necessity.

/that said, it’s a total unforced strategic error to just let Iran have this advanced technology drone, to share with or sell to other potential enemies of the United States, would it have killed us, if we didn’t want to risk lives to recover the Sentinel, to at least launch an airstrike package to obliterate the wreckage?

Do You Know Who Your Facebook Friends Are?

How creepy is this?

Army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda

It’s recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people. As disturbing as this is, it’s not really new for U.S. intelligence or private intelligence firms to do the dirty work behind closed doors.

See also:
Persona Management Software
Gaming Social Networks for Influence and Propaganda
U.S. Gov‘t Software Creates ’Fake People’ to Spread Message via Social Networking
US Gov. Software Creates ‘Fake People’ on Social Networks to Promote Propaganda
So, Why Does the Air Force Want Hundreds of Fake Online Identities on Social Media? [Update]
Revealed: Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people
More HBGary Federal Fallout: The Government Wants To Buy Software To Fake Online Grassroots Social Media Campaigns
Why Is the Military Creating an Army of Fake People on the Internet?
HBGary :: Detect. Diagnose. Respond
hbgaryfederal.com is offline

Well, at least now we know where all the “supposed” support for the malignant travesty that is Obamacare is coming from, fake people with fake opinions.

/seriously, do you trust the Obama administration and Democrats in general with software like this?

Merry Christmas From Anwar Al-Awlaki

Once again, just in time for our holiday enjoyment, al-Qaeda master propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki is busy spreading Islam’s message of peace and tolerance. And, as usual, he has plenty of brainwashed jihadi murderbots ready and willing to cause carnage at his command.

Anti-terror police arrest 12 people in nationwide raids

Twelve men were arrested in Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and the capital following intelligence that a terrorist cell was at an advanced stage of planning co-ordinated attacks on shops, banks and “iconic targets” in the capital, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The dawn raids followed months of surveillance by MI5. Police moved in when intercepted communications suggested that the bombers were ready to act.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said the raids had been “absolutely necessary” to keep the public safe. The cell was said to have been made up of young British men, largely of Bangladeshi origin, who were influenced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is based in Yemen.

See also:
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 arrests over multiple bomb attack fears
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 suspects being held
British Police Arrest 12 Terror Suspects
British police hold 12 on suspicion of terror plans
Arrested terror suspects ‘were targeting shoppers’
Police in UK arrest a dozen young men accused of plotting Christmas attacks in Britain
Major Bomb Plot Disrupted in England, Say Police
Counter terrorism arrests ‘absolutely necessary’
12 men arrested in suspected UK terrorism plot
Graphic: Arrests made in U.K. terror plot

I would be extremely surprised if their weren’t similar attacks being planned here in the United States.

/so, stay tuned, there’s still four more terrorism days until Christmas

It’s A Baby B-2!

Isn’t it cute?

Boeing’s Phantom Ray to fly in December

Boeing will put its Phantom Ray flying wing into the air before the end of the year.

The aerospace giant says that the unmanned aerial vehicle, unveiled at Boeing’s St. Louis facility on Monday, is on track to make its first flight in December. The Phantom Ray will be a testbed for unspecified “advanced technologies,” and in a press release Monday, Boeing rattled off an array of potential missions for the aircraft, from the now standard UAV tasks of recon and surveillance to aerial refueling, electronic attack, and the menacingly vague “strike.” (A separate Boeing feature on the Phantom Ray makes reference to a potential “hunter/killer” mission, which would put it in the same category as the MQ-9 Reaper already in use by the U.S. Air Force.)

Leading up to the planned December flight will be a summer schedule of taxi tests. The debut flight for the one-off prototype aircraft will be followed, Boeing said, by up to nine more flights over the ensuing six months.

“The initial flights will take Phantom Ray through its paces for the flight test profile. Beyond that, the missions and systems tested will be determined by future warfighter needs,” said Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing, in a statement.

Looking like a boomerang with a bump in the middle, the Phantom Ray is 36 feet long and has a wingspan of 50 feet. Weighing in at 36,500 pounds, it has a cruising speed of 614 mph, or 0.8 Mach, and an operating altitude of 40,000 feet. It’s powered by an F404-GE-102D turbofan engine.

Boeing is touting the UAV as an example of the ability of its Phantom Works unit to do rapid prototyping, and it’s also funding the project internally. A feasibility study took place in spring 2008, and the program got the green light in the fall of that year, the company said. Of course, they had something of a head start–the Phantom Ray design is derived from that of the X-45C experimental aircraft, part of the Defense Department’s J-UCAS effort in which Boeing was participating.

See also:
Boeing Feature Story: Phantom Ray makes its debut in St. Louis
Boeing says jet-sized drone on track to fly in December
Boeing unveils the fighter-sized Phantom Ray
Boeing unveils Phantom Ray in St. Louis
Boeing unveils Phantom Ray aircraft
Boeing unveils unmanned Phantom Ray demonstrator
Meet Boeing’s Phantom Ray while you can see it
‘Phantom Ray’ to Revive Boeing’s X-45C Unmanned Combat Aircraft
Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s Phantom Works
Boeing Phantom Works
Boeing X-45
Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS)

Hmmm, I wonder how much these beauties cost?

/we could use several hundred of them for a swarm attack on Iran, without risking any pilots