From China, With Sprinkles

Gee, you’d think there’s be some type of common sense rule about not buying critical electronic components for your military hardware from your enemy, but I guess not.

Fake electronics becoming military danger

“Sprinkling” sounds like a fairly harmless practice, but in the hands of sophisticated counterfeiters it could deceive a major weapons manufacturer and possibly endanger the lives of U.S. troops.

It is a process of mixing authentic electronic parts with fake ones in hopes that the counterfeits will not be detected when companies test the components for multimillion-dollar missile systems, helicopters and aircraft. It was just one of the brazen steps described Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing examining the national security and economic implications of suspect counterfeit electronics — mostly from China — inundating the Defense Department’s supply chain.

See also:
U.S. defense equipment has been outfitted with counterfeit parts from China
Senate Homes in on China’s Role in Counterfeit Parts Entering DOD’s Supply Chain
Senators to Take on Counterfeit Electronic Parts in DOD
US Senators Demand China Crack Down on Suppliers of Fake Military Parts
Officials: Fake weapons parts ‘ticking time bomb’
Officials: Fake weapons parts ‘ticking time bomb’
Opening Statement at SASC Hearing on Counterfeit Electronic Parts in DOD Supply Chain
Fake Chinese weapons costs US millions
Lawmakers says counterfeits flood Pentagon supply
Chinese counterfeit parts found in U.S. weapons
Officials: Fake weapon parts hit Pentagon supplies
Lawmakers describe counterfeit electronic parts flooding into military’s supply chain
Probe traces bogus military parts to China
Report: US military supply chain riddled with shanzhai parts from China
China rejects U.S. charges of bogus weapons parts

It’s bad enough that China steals our intellectual property at will and that we owe them over a trillion dollars, but now they’re deliberately sabotaging our military equipment with fake electronics that, upon failure, could cost the lives of our military service members?

/it’s not a hot war, but it’s not a cold war either and we seem to be losing

Dead Man Dumping

Why is this happening again?

Pentagon braced for the release of 400,000 Iraq files on Wikileaks

A task force of 120 people has been assembled to assess the potential implications and damage of the disclosure of the documents, which promises to eclipse the recent release of more than 70,000 classified US military files on the Afghanistan war.

Col. Dave Lapan, the Pentagon spokesman, said the timing of the leak remained unclear but the Defence Department was ready for a document dump as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Some of the new data is said to be from a “tactical reports database” in Iraq that lists SIGACTS (“Significant activities”) relating to major military operations, movement of personnel and alliances with key tribal figures and allies.

See also:
Pentagon Preparing Response to Iraq Secrets Release by WikiLeaks Website
Pentagon braces for huge WikiLeaks dump on Iraq war
Wikileaks prepares to publish 400,000 secret reports on Iraq
Report: WikiLeaks to Release 400K More Iraq Files Monday
WikiLeaks To Release 400,000 Iraq War Files
400,000 secret Iraq war files set to be published by WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks expected to release 400,000 secret Iraq War files

Are you telling me that the combined resources of the U.S. Military and U.S. intelligence services can’t find Julian Assange and the rest of his criminal gang? It’s not like he’s trying to hide or anything. He should be declared an enemy of the State and dealt with accordingly. It’s ridiculous that he’s still walking around free, especially since he’s already leaked classified U.S. military documents once before.

/if these were Israeli classified military documents Assange was threatening to release, he’d be dead by now

Weakest Link In The Chain

Who’s running the show here, Microsoft?

Cyber Command chief suggests Pentagon networks are vulnerable

In his first hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, new US Cyber Command head Gen. Keith Alexander offered a troubling window into the threats that Pentagon networks face at the hands of terrorist and criminal syndicates, foreign intelligence organizations, and “hacktivists” intent on infiltrating power grids and financial networks.

These are threats that could hamper the US war effort in Afghanistan. Though the command recently deployed an “expeditionary cybersupport” unit to help to defend US networks in Afghanistan, Alexander on Thursday told the committee: “We’re not where we need to be” in ensuring the security of US military networks there.

In the past, cyberattackers have been able to steal key information from the US troops who rely on sophisticated equipment, including data on convoy supply routes, according to senior US officials.

Every hour, there are some 250,000 attempted attacks on Defense Department networks worldwide, Alexander told the committee. Throughout the Department of Defense, there are more than 15,000 different computer networks, including 7 million computers on some 4,000 military installations, committee chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D) of Missouri pointed out.

See also:
Cybercom Chief Details Cyberspace Defense
Pentagon Faces Massive Cyber Threats
Military’s cyber defense limited in protection of US, top general says
Gaps in authority hamper military against cyber-attacks
Pentagon: Military networks vulnerable
Cyber Command chief proposes secure network for government, key industries
US reviewing ways to fight cyber attacks: general
Cyberwar Chief Calls for Secure Computer Network
An army of tech-savvy warriors has been fighting its battles in cyberspace
NSA chief envisions ‘secure zone’ on Internet to guard against attacks
White House reviews nation’s cybersecurity

Well, obviously, for starters, you could solve most of these problems by severing all connections between critical defense and infrastructure networks and the public internet. I’m pretty sure they already know that, so I’m not sure why this basic step has yet to be completed.

/today’s U.S. warfighters are so dependent on electronics that I sometimes wonder what would happen if, say an EMP attack disabled all their electronic gear, are they even trained to fight the old fashioned way anymore or would they be helpless?

Chinese Dragon And American Eagle Headed In Opposite Directions

While we unilaterally disarms under Obama, the Chinese are strengthening their military capabilities, specifically gearing toward a confrontation with the United States.

China Strengthens Strategic Capability, Report Says

The U.S. Defense Department said in a report issued yesterday that China continues to strengthen its strategic capability through updates to its nuclear and missile systems, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, June 3; Anne Flaherty, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, Aug. 16).

. . .

Beijing’s aggressive spending on its effort to become a top military force has been recognized for some time, AP reported. China has rejected U.S. concerns about its defense program. Frustrated by Washington’s military support for Taiwan, it has halted U.S.-Chinese military contact that could address the issue.

“The limited transparency in China’s military and security affairs enhances uncertainty and increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation,” the report says (Flaherty, Associated Press).

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the Pentagon document “paints an alarming picture, despite its ‘glass half full’ perspective,” the Washington Times reported.

“It is clear that China is aggressively expanding its military capabilities, which appear to be aimed at limiting American strategic options in the Pacific,” he said. “This troubling reality is inconsistent with China’s supposed interest in fostering a peaceful, stable region” (Bill Gertz, Washington Times, Aug. 16).

Read the report:

Military and Security Developments
Involving the People’s Republic of China
2010

See also:
U.S. Sounds Alarm at China’s Military Buildup
Economic powerhouse China focuses on its military might
Pentagon: China Continues to Expand Military Capability
The Chinese Military Challenge
China Could Intervene at Military ‘Flash Points,’ Pentagon Warns
China threat: Now you see it, now you don’t
Chinese military’s cyber-attack capabilities mysterious: Pentagon
China Fires Back on U.S. Report
China warns U.S. military report threatens ties
Pentagon’s China military report ‘ignores objective truth,’ says China
Chinese Government Rejects Pentagon Report on Country’s Military Ambition

I used to think that, given our vast Pacific superiority in the air, in space, and on the sea, there was no way in Hell that China would ever dare to invade Taiwan or otherwise engage the United States in a military conflict. Now, I’m no longer sure that’s necessarily true.

/every day, they get stronger, we get weaker, and the gap in the military balance of power narrows toward parity

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

Operation Frequent Wind

It was 35 years ago today . . .

Operation Frequent Wind . . . as told by Chris Woods, Crew Chief of Swift 2-2.

“Gentlemen, start your engines.” The laconic command copied from the Indianapolis 500 auto races, echoed from the 1MC, the public-address system of the U.S.S. Hancock. Moments later, the Commanding Officer of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, LtCol. Herbert Fix, lifted his CH-53A Sea Stallion off the deck of the aging carrier. When the other seven choppers in his squadron had left the deck, they fluttered off in a tight formation through blustery winds and dark, ominous rain clouds that hovered over the South China Sea. Operation “Frequent Wind,” the emergency evacuation of the last Americans in Saigon was under way.

The rescue operation had been delayed as long as possible-too long, in the view of many Pentagon officials. In recent weeks 44 U.S. Navel vessels, 6,000 Marines, 120 Air Force combat and tanker planes and 150 Navy planes had been moved into the area. Nevertheless, Secretary of State, Henry Kissenger and the U.S. ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, argued that the final withdrawal of the American community would probably set off a wave of panic in Saigon and hasten the fall of the South Vietnamese government.

During the preceding eight days, U.S. planes had evacuated almost 40,000 American and South Vietnamese refugees from Tan Son Nhut airbase near Saigon. By last week, the airlift was growing increasingly dangerous. Artillery shells and rockets closed Tan Son Nhut airport Monday morning, April 28, 1975. The next day, an U.S. C-130 transport was hit by a rocket on the runway and burst into flames as the crew escaped. A short time later, two Marine Corporals, Cpl. N. McMahon of Massachusetts and LCpl. D. Judge of Iowa, guarding the US defense attache’s compound at Tan Son Nhut, were killed by Communist artillery.

News of the destruction of the C-130 and the Marines’ deaths reached President Ford during a meeting with his energy and economic advisers. He scribbled a note to the deputy director of the National Security Council, LtGen. Brent Scowcroft: “We’d better have a NSC meeting at 7.”

Plainly, evacuation by commercial flights, by military airplanes or by sea was no longer feasible. The security advisers discussed whether conditions might permit a resumption of the military airlift. If not, they would have to go a fourth option, the riskiest of all: evacuation by Marine helicopters. Scarcely two hours after the meeting ended with no decision, Ford learned that two C-130s attempting to land at Tan Son Nhut had been waved off; the airport was blocked by thousands of panicky South Vietnamese, by then all of Ford’s advisers, including Martin agreed that it had to be “Option Four.” At 10:45 p.m., the President ordered Operation Frequent Wind to begin.

Kissinger telephoned Ford to report that a fleet of 81 helicopters was about to embark on its mission, then, at 1:08 a.m. Tuesday, he called again with the news that the evacuation had begun. In Saigon, the center of activity for much of the day was the landing at Tan Son Nhut airport, a tennis court near the defense attache’s compound. Landing two at a time, the helicopters unloaded their squads of Marines- 860 in all, who reinforced the 125 Marines already on the scene- and quickly picked up evacuees.

As the operation continued, many helicopters came under fire. Most evacuees sat in cold panic as their choppers took off. “For the next three minutes as we gained altitude,” reported TIME Correspondent William Stewart, “we held our breaths.” We knew the Communists had been using heat-seeking missiles, and we were prepared to be shot out of the sky. As I turned around to see who was aboard, Buu Vien, the South Vietnamese Interior Minister, smiled and gave a thumbs-up signal. “Forty minutes later we were aboard the U.S.S. Denver, a landing-platform dock, and safe.”

By nightfall, the mission had been completed at Tan Son Nhut, but the evacuation of the embassy was still to be accomplished. Sheets of rain were pelting the city, and visibility had dropped to barely a mile. Some choppers had to rely on flares fired by Marines within the embassy compound to find landing zones; others homed in on flashlights.

Through Tuesday night, the Vietnamese crowd grew uglier, hundreds tried to scale the ten-foot wall, despite the barbed wire strung on top of it. Marines had to use tear gas and rifle butts to hold back the surging mob. Some screamed, some pleaded to be taken along. Floor by floor, the Marines withdrew toward the roof of the embassy with looters right behind them. Abandoned offices were transformed into junkyards of smashed typewriters and ransacked file cabinets. Even the bronze plaque with the names of the five American servicemen who died in the embassy during the 1968 Tet offensive was torn from the lobby wall. Marines hurled tear-gas grenade into the elevator shaft; at time the air was so thick with tear gas that the helicopter crews on the roof were effected.

By that time, tempers were frayed in Washington as well as in Saigon. Martin had drawn up a list of 500 Vietnamese to be evacuated; he refused to leave until all were safely gone. His delay prompted one Administration official to quip, “Martin got all 600 of his 500 Vietnamese out.” Finally, at 5:00 p.m., Washington time- it was 5:00 a.m., in Saigon- Kissinger told the president that Martin was closing down the embassy and destroying its communications equipment. Minutes later, Lady Ace 09 landed on the embassy helo pad and Ambassador Martin boarded the helicopter as Major James Kean urged the CH-46 pilot Captain Berry, to please be sure someone comes for them. After lift off, Captain Berry broadcast the message; “Lade Ace Zero Nine, Tiger-Tiger-Tiger.”

As many as 130 South Vietnamese planes and helicopter, including F-5 fighter-bombers, transports and attack planes, were reported meanwhile to have reached the US run Utapao airbase in Thailand with about 2,000 soldiers and civilians; already some 1,000 Cambodian refugees were crowed into tents there. Alarmed, the Thai government announced that the refugees had to leave within 30 days and that it would return the planes to “the next government in South Vietnam.” Defense Secretary James Schlesinger firmly advised Bangkok that it should do no such thing; under aid agreements, the equipment cannot be transferred to a new government but must revert to U.S. possession.

By the end of the week, another seven or so South Vietnamese helicopters had landed or tried to land on the U.S. naval vessels. One South Vietnamese pilot set his chopper down on top of another whose blades were still turning. Others ditched their craft and had to be fished out of the water. An American search-and-rescue from the U.S.S. Hancock crashed at sea, and two of its crewmembers, Captain William C. Nystul and First Lieutenant Michael J. Shea were listed and missing, possible the last American fatalities of the war. The Crew Chief, Cpl. Steve Wills and the left gunner were rescued by another CH-46, Swift 0-7, during a zero visibility, night water landing to pick up the two wounded Marines.

“The last days of the evacuation were very hairy indeed,” Ford confesses afterward. “We were never sure whether we were going to have trouble with the mobs.” As Ford noted, the whole operation had gone better “than we had any right to expect.” According to the Defense Department, 1,373 Americans and 5,680 South Vietnamese- many more that the US had originally intended- had been removed. Another 32,000 desperate Vietnamese had managed to make their way by sampan, raft and rowboat to the US ships offshore, bringing to about 70,000 the number evacuated through the week.

For the next three hours the Marines wait, and grow more concerned as they discover no one responds to their radio signals. Finally, after they have resigned that they will not be rescued, and have voted to make an Alamo-like stand, the Marines hear the familiar sound of rotor blades slapping the humid air, a CH-46 Sea Knight, and two AH-1G Cobra escorts come in to view.

Dodging small arms fire and using riot control agents against people attempting to force their way to the rooftop, Major Kean and his 10 Marines boarded a HMM-164 CH-46 helicopter, Swift 2-2. After closing the ramp, Swift 2-2 (piloted by Captains Holden and Cook, and crewed by Sergeant Stan Hughes, left machine gunner and Sergeant Chris Woods, Crew Chief and right gunner) lifted into a hover and the pilots were overcome by CS gas had to set back down on the embassy helo pad. Regaining their composure, Captain Holden lifted the helo and departed the embassy rooftop. The last American helicopter to leave South Vietnam, Caption Holden radioed the last official message from Saigon: Swift 2-2 airborne with 11 passengers, ground security force onboard. Clearing antennas and church steeples, Swift 2-2 picked up the Saigon River and descended to tree top level and followed the river out to the awaiting American Forces. During the flight along the river, Sergeant Woods sighted approximately eight communist tanks, parked side-by-side, waiting until the eighth hour to enter the city. Checking his watch, Major Kean noted that it was two minutes until eight, only 23 hours since the NCOIC of Marine Security Guard, Manila, had called him to relay a message from his wife in Hong Kong that she was pregnant. Only 32 minutes later on that unforgettable day, 30 April 1975, the 11 Marines exited Swift 2-2 onto the deck of the U.S.S. Okinawa.

Disembarking, many on board the Okinawa, the consensus was why so much time had elapsed between the arrival of the Ambassador’s flight and Swift -2-2, well over two hours. Had someone forgotten these Marines were still at the Embassy? The answer is no. The intention was to remove the Ambassador while some security still remained at the Embassy, and then have other helicopters pick up the remaining Marines, but it appears that when Captain Berry’s aircraft transmitted “Tiger is out,” those helicopters still flying, including Captain Walters who was orbiting the Embassy at the time the Ambassador left, thought the mission was complete. This particular transmission had been the preplanned code to indicate when the Ambassador was on board a helicopter outbound to the task force. Having waited so long for his departure, this transmission caused some to conclude that he had departed as part of the last group to leave the Embassy. Captain Berry later explained that radio message ” Tiger-Tiger-Tiger” was the call to be made when the Ambassador was on board and on his was out of Saigon. It had absolutely nothing to do with the cessation of the operation. We had originally planned to bring the Ambassador out on the afternoon of the 29th.”

At this juncture, thinking the mission complete and the Ambassador safe, Captain Walters headed back to the USS Okinawa. Subsequent to his landing at approximately 0700, the command realized that Captain Walters did not have the remaining Marines on board. Due to a misunderstanding and miscommunication, they were still at the Embassy. General Carey immediately recycled the HMM-164 CH-46 “Swift 2-2”, but by this time due to the ships’ offshore movement, the time required to reach the Embassy exceeded 40 minutes. With two hours of fuel on board, the CH-46 did not have any room for error. Swift 2-2 landed on the USS Okinawa with two “LOW FUEL” lights, or 20 minutes of fuel remaining.

To the Marines waiting in Saigon, attempts by the South Vietnamese to reach the rooftop kept them busy and as a consequence, they did not notice the extended gap between the flights. Major Kean later stated that he and his Marine did not become alarmed because they knew that another CH-46 would arrive. “We never had a doubt that our fellow Marines would return and pick us up. They had been doing it all night long.”

See aslo:
OPERATION “FREQUENT WIND,” EVACUATION OF SAIGON, SOUTH VIETNAM
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation FREQUENT WIND Photo Gallery
A Vietnam War Lesson
Fall of Saigon revisited
Fall of Saigon

/well, hopefully, as a country, we’ll never have to experience anything like that again