Category Archives: Unconventional Weapons

Chill out, it’s only ionizing radiation

radioactive_symbolRecommended from the Comments — straight talk about soi-disant Dirty Bombs.

Recently we read a novel that climaxed as the heroes tried to stop a hostile force from using a radioactive weapon in an American City (think it was NYFC). And the radiation from this thing… had flesh falling off their bones in minutes as they tried to set it up, and then it set the building on fire.

With its radiation, you see.

There are novelists who do research, and then… there was that guy.

Anyway, Larry Grimm, who comments here from time to time, is a health physicist. We think it’s fair to say he’s learned more about the physiology of ionizing radiation than we have, and we know we know it better than that novelist fellow. Here’s a repost of a Q&A with Larry from seven years ago.

Q: What is the biggest concern from a radiological dispersion device?
A: Two things: the irrational fear it can induce and the expense of cleanup. The possibility of the radiation actually hurting anyone is quite small. We fear what we do not understand, sometimes irrationally. The concepts of radiation are poorly taught in high school, and the only other radiation information we get has been sensationalized by Hollywood, politicians, and those looking to make a buck off of our lack of education. You can beat the fear by learning how radiation works and how to manage it safely (protection techniques). Fear and panic kill people, as any good Marine knows. Radioactive materials are chemicals. Sometimes it is easy to clean them up, sometimes hard. For example, cleaning oil off concrete is hard, but picking up chunks of metal is easy. Fortunately, it only takes a radiation detector to find the radioactive material, so it is easier to find and clean up than a non-radioactive chemical. Likely, the biggest problem will be economic disruption while cleanup takes place. Radiation dispersion devices are really disruption, not destruction, weapons.

Q: What steps should I take if a radiological dirty bomb goes off in the area?

A: There are four simple protection techniques: Contamination control, distance, shielding and time. Contamination control and distance are the most useful techniques in a bomb situation.

Remember to help others first. Radioactive materials are rarely immediately life threatening. The worst-case terrorism scenarios indicate that there would not be enough radioactive material to cause immediate harm. Did you ever feel anything or see an effect from getting an X-ray? In 99.999% of radiation exposures, no effect is felt or seen. If I went towards the blast area to help someone, I would not fear the radiation. However, I would be cautious and respectful of the radiation. Therefore, I would use the following techniques no matter if I was escaping the area, trapped in the area, or going in to help.

Contamination control: Keep the radioactive chemical off and out of your body. Button up clothing and wear a mask (or anything to cover nose and mouth.) A radioactive material is always a chemical, which behaves like the chemical wants to behave. The distance technique is the best protector in a dirty bomb scenario. However, if I need to be near the source, or if I am downwind of the blast, I will first practice contamination control. If I suspect that I swallowed or inhaled the chemical, but do not feel ill, I would later seek professional help. Radiation effects take a long time to show up, and I wouldn’t want to add to the congestion at the hospital. However, there could be a nasty chemical associated with a radioactive bomb, so if I felt even slightly ill, I would seek medical help in a hurry.

Distance: In even the worst bomb scenario, you would be safe from the radiation if you get just a couple blocks away and get upwind of potential airborne material. Think of it as standing next to a campfire – get too close to the heat radiation, and it could burn you, but if far enough away, you do not get any heat. Exactly like a campfire, you do not want to be in the smoke, so get upwind. The most likely radioactive material in a dirty bomb would be Cobalt or Cesium. If the terrorist could somehow manage to get 10,000 Curies in the bomb, you only need to be about 300 yards (three football fields) away to be safe from the radiation. If you are not downwind or near the dispersion area, you are safe. Do not “head for the hills”. Leave the roadways open so emergency responders can get through.

Shielding: Anything acts as a shield – a building, a car, a hill, et cetera. Your major concern is gamma radiation. Imagine the gamma as a radio wave. When don’t you get a radio signal? When you are in the middle of a building, in a basement, behind a hill, et cetera. Whatever shielding decreases a radio signal will decrease gamma rays. I handled 12 million curies of Cesium (a 1000 times more than a possible bomb) with a mere 20 feet of water for shielding, and I got no dose!

Time: The less you are around the radiation, the less dose you will get. As most people would use distance, and get away in a hurry, they already used the time technique by not hanging around the radiation. Emergency responders may need to use this technique, and all across the US, they are receiving training on how to use it.

“LEARN ABOUT RADIATION, AND THE FEAR OF IT WILL MELT AWAY. TERRORISTS FEED ON FEAR. FEAR IS BONDAGE, KNOWLEDGE IS FREEDOM.”

Emphasis was Larry’s, but we concur about 10 thousand percent. Do Read The Whole Thing™, as there’s a lot more sense in there, and it’s a bugle in a wilderness of nonsense.

For what it’s worth, we’re not ready to die, but we live about six or seven miles from a known nuclear target. We understand that Risk = Probability X Severity. Assuming a hit on the target, and a typical strat warhead, Severity is less than you’d think; and Probability is one of those things that really rounds to zero, especially when you figure the CEP of the bomb and the fact that it has only perhaps a 1 in 4 chance of its error from baseline bringing it closer to the Manor.

We used to live just about in the shadow of a coastal nuclear power plant. (Actually, we’ve lived near a few of them over the years). But you know, decades after the nuclear age was rung in, there are still more deaders from riding with Senator Kennedy, or falling off the high-wire, or being hit by a falling Concorde, than from nuclear power plants.

Does radiation need respect? Yes. Does it need fear? No. More of the people reading this are going to die from bad choices with respect to diet and exercise than just about anything else. We take a lot bigger risk when saddling up the bicycle (with or without a helmet, latest stats seem to say it’s about a wash) than we do living near strat nuke targets, or nuclear power plants.

Can you die from radiation? Hell, yes. Rare but it happens, like when uneducated people go fooling with abandoned radiomedical equipment, in this case in Brazil (.pdf) in 1985. But even most of the exposed people in that case lived. Unfortunately, an awful lot of people were subjected to nuclear war terror propaganda back in the 50s through the 80s, and now have a completely unrealistic idea of what radiation does.

Like make your skin fall straight off, and set you on fire.

 

On this Day in 1962: Infantry Nuke Test

The USA fired its last above-ground nuclear test at a test site in Nevada on this day, 17 July, in 1962. The operation was a culmination exercise that brought together nuclear warhead tests (code-named Little Feller, as a nod to the W54 warhead’s light weight and low yield) and nuclear weapons employment maneuvers code-named Ivy Flats.

Screenshot 2014-07-17 12.50.48

The test was a pretty-much full-spectrum test of an actual tactical nuke, and a very unusual one — a nuclear infantry weapon called the Davy Crockett. A lot of tripe is written about the Davy Crockett, including that it could not fire a projectile further than its blast radius, but most of that tripe is written by people who either apply unreasoning fear to all nuclear weapons (something that was encouraged during the Cold War by the Soviet Union and its witting and unwitting agents of influence), or by the sort of uninformed juicebox mafiosi that become “national security” writers for Wired. Even more-respected anti-nuclear campaigners often got it wrong, like some of the details on this basically solid page at the Brookings Institution. In fact, this test demonstrated that the weapon was safe, within its limits, and effective.

After many rehearsals, including a live-fire of an actual warhead suspended three feet above the ground (Test Little Feller II on 7 Jul 62), a Davy Crockett crew fired their weapon at a simulated enemy force 2,852 meters distant. They launched the projectile in front of trench-covered friendlies and — much further back — bleachers full of observers, including such VIPs as Robert F. Kennedy (then Attorney General) and Army Chief of Staff Max Taylor. (This test was Little Feller I, even though it was 10 days after Little Feller II). The weapon functioned flawlessly. Within half an hour, military units advanced through the blast zone. The entrenched troops were 1600m from the detonation; the Army calculated that the low-yield W54 would produce immediate casualties from radiation only within 250m, and delayed casualties only within 350m, of its impact point. These radiation effects were much more long-ranged than the heat and blast effects of the .02 kiloton warhead. A tank 100m from detonation would be usable, apart from the effects of radiation, which would have killed its crew.

Here’s a video of the test. We tried to find the original because this one has too much compression and a lot of video artifacts, but sometimes you have to take what you can get:

The actual burst is at about the half-way point, about nine minutes in. Other reports suggest that its yield was later calculated to be 0.018 kt, a little lighter than the 0.022 produced by the confusingly earlier Little Feller I test. As none of the surviving documentation suggests that this yield variation from the nominal 0,02 kt setting upset anyone at the time, it suggests that variance of plus or minus two-thousandths of a kiloton was considered nominal.

It’s interesting to see the other equipment the troops, from the 4th Infantry Division then at Ft. Lewis, Washington, have: Garand M1 rifles, M48 tanks, a Hiller UH-12 helicopter.

The Davy Crockett was actually an ingenious weapon, and for its time, an effective one, if only psychologically. How effective? Decades after it was retired, it was still taught to Soviet tank officers as a battlefield threat to be feared and targeted. When the weapon was withdrawn (due to further miniaturization allowing longer-range and more-accurate delivery of tactical nukes), the GRU managed to convince itself, and the Soviet General Staff, that the withdrawal was all a ruse by those perfidious Americans.

Here’s how it worked: the DC came in two versions, the M28 and M29. The “light” DC had a 2000 meter range, and the heavy 4000 meters. The caliber of the main recoilless gun was different: 120mm versus 155 mm, and even the caliber of the spotting gun, which was used to check trajectory before firing, differed: the “light” Davy Crockett has a 20mm recoilless spotting gun firing the M101 spotting round, and the “heavy” had a 37mm. Because the gun was recoilless, it and its tripod could be light. Both versions could be carried by Jeep or M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, and the M28 could be broken down into manpack loads (if heavy ones) and carried by its own crew.

davy crockett jeep

When XM101 spotting rounds were found in Hawaii, the media went haywire. Typical of the products of their “layers and layers of editors” was this graphic.

davy crockett

What’s wrong with it? Count the legs on the tripod.

The projectile, the M388, was roughly the size and shape of a prize watermelon, and could contain conventional explosives or a W54. It worked with both guns because it was a “supercaliber” projectile. (Imagine a watermelon-sized rifle grenade). A different piston was used in the smaller and larger guns. They also fire two non-nuclear (or simulated nuclear) Davy Crockett rounds.

A war in which battalion commander had their own nukes would have been… interesting. Army planners expected the US warhead stockpile to grow to over 150,000 warheads to support their Pentomic Division warfighting scheme. (That was about five times its actual 1967 peak).

The dummy version was of the M388 the M421. Almost all surviving documentation shows these weapons as non-type-classified, “XM” weapons (i.e. XM388, XM29, etc).

FM23-30-Davy-Crockett-warhead

Authority to deploy the Davy Crockett was devolved almost as low as nuclear weapons commit authority ever got: the battalion commander had full authority to use the weapons as he saw fit, once a general release was granted.

Most Davy Crockett launchers were allocated only one or two warheads, plus several conventional high-explosive ones; this was because the system’s survivability on a tactical nuclear battlefield was somewhat constrained. It had to be fired within field-gun and mortar range of the targeted enemy (4,000m max), it was an unprotected weapons system, and it was

The launch produced a considerable backblast, and would have exposed the firers to enemy retaliation. This gave a small advantage to the light weapon, which was usually fired from its jeep. The heavy weapon had to be dismounted from a charmer personnel carrier or truck and fired from the tripod every time. Then, after exposing its position, it would have to be reloaded before the crew could skedaddle.

The Davy Crockett had a short service life; it was an interim weapon before warheads could be miniaturized into standard gun artillery weapons.

Because the M101 spotting rounds contained depleted uranium, which is now managed as a hazardous material, we’ve learned that 75,318 rounds of spotting M101 were produced. Some 2000 were expended in lot qualification tests at the factory, 44,000 were destroyed by firing into a containment after the weapon was scrapped, and a max of 29,000 were fired from the deployed launchers at a variety of field sites. Apart from the Ivy Flats/Little Feller I test on 17 Jul 62, no Davy Crockett was ever live fired. (There were warhead live tests earlier, during development).

Both versions of the Davy Crockett used the same projectile, the M388.

At the end of FY 62, the USA had 25,540 operational warheads in its stockpile, and growing. About 2,900 of them were Davy Crockett warheads. At the end of 2013, we had 4,804 total warheads, and shrinking. Among the entire classes of nukes that were eliminated were small-yield nukes like the Davy Crockett warhead, and battlefield nukes — like the Davy Crockett warhead.

One Giant Step towards Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament

This three-reentry-vehicle warhead was once standard on Minuteman III missiles. As part of a policy of unilateral disarmament, the MIRVs have been taken out of service.

This three-reentry-vehicle warhead was once standard on Minuteman III missiles. Each warhead could be aimed at a different target. As part of a policy of unilateral disarmament, the MIRVs have been taken out of service.

The United States has met a second strategic goal of the Soviet Union Russian Empire Federation. After giving them the unilateral cancellation of European missile defense, the United States has now unilaterally de-MIRVed its ground-based missiles. This serves no United States security purpose, but does please entities with one kind of relationship to the United States: enemies, foreign and domestic.

MIRVs are Multiple Independently Targetable (re-entry) Vehicles, multiple warheads on a single missile. They complicate a potential adversary’s defensive strategy and decrease his confidence in being able to execute a first strike without retaliation.

Eliminating the MIRVs is a political, not military, decision that makes the missiles less of a threat to any opponent or potential enemy (especially a sophisticated enemy), and is destabilizing, encouraging rogue states to attempt a first strike. But politically, this sets up for the third strategic goal, complete elimination of the now-obsolete single-warhead missiles. The Nuclear Threat Initiative, an anti-nuclear*, left-wing group, crows:

The United States this week finished altering its ground-based, long-range nuclear missiles to each carry just one warhead, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

Crews carried out the final modification of an intercontinental ballistic missile at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, the newspaper reported on Wednesday. The service implemented the alterations under a nuclear-arms pact with Russia.

The New START strategic arms-control treaty called for the change to the nation’s Minuteman 3 ICBMs, which were previously able to carry three “Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles.” The United States maintains roughly 450 of the missiles, deployed at the Montana facility and at bases in North Dakota and Wyoming.

“This was the last Minuteman 3 in the Air Force to be ‘deMIRVed,’ and this is a major milestone in meeting the force structure numbers to comply with the New START requirements,” Steve Ray, a member of Air Force Global Strike Command’s missile maintenance division, said in a released comment.

“This is historic because we’ve had MIRVs in the field for more than 40 years, since 1970 when the first Minuteman 3 came on alert,” Ray said.

In its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Obama administration said “deMIRVing” the weapons would “enhance the stability of the nuclear balance by reducing the incentives for either side to strike first.”

via U.S. Eliminates Multi-Warheads on All Ground-Based Nuclear Missiles | Global Security Newswire | NTI.

MIRVs do remain in service on submarine launched ballistic missiles, for the time being. But there are fewer missiles, and fewer subs, than there were five years ago, and there will be fewer still by the time a new president and national security team is sworn in.

Even if the incumbents don’t decide the SLBM MIRVs too must go, to please international counterparties and their domestic collaborationists and fifth columnists.

There may yet be political fallout from the executive decision to unilaterally disarm ground-based MIRVs. In 2012, Secretary of State Kerry promised at least one Senator that no further unilateral cuts would be made, but most Senators have been there long enough to have served with Kerry and already have no illusions about what his promise is worth.

*NTI is “anti-nuclear” as far as American nuclear weapons and nuclear allies. Not anti-war, just on the other side.

Electromagnetic Pulse, Scaremongering, and You

People keep saying that an EMP attack on America could kill 90% of Americans. Last month, for example, in Investors Business Daily, not usually a fever swamp of paranoia. But it sounds a little paranoid to us:

That dire warning came from Peter Vincent Pry, a member of the Congressional EMP Commission and executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

He testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event could wipe out 90% of America’s population.

These frightening reports and scary numbers are reminiscent, for those of us sufficiently “seasoned” to remember, of the hysteria surrounding nuclear weapons in the Cold War. Hawks amped up the threat to justify our defensive measures, from SAMs to Civil Defense. Doves amped up the threat to justify a preemptive surrender: since resistance is futile, we might as well lie back and enjoy being assimilated. “Better red than dead,” some of them intoned, while one always had a deep-seated suspicion that for many of them the closely-held imperative was “better red than anything,” actually. The Doves were once distributed across parties, with pinks on the Democrat side matched by isolationists on the Republican, and the Hawks were similarly spread. The sixties and seventies, and mostly, the Vietnam War, sped a process of assortation that has made today’s hawk-dove axis a largely partisan one.

RIght now, the EMP threat is being promoted by two groups, those for whom it is a big issue: a mix of scaremongers who have a solution to sell you, and the press, who are always up for a round of predictions of disaster and decline.

Some attention has been paid to the potential cataclysmic effects of a natural phenomenon such as a massive solar storm, an event that has occurred in America’s horse-and-buggy era when it did not matter.

Today an electromagnetic pulse event would be devastating. It wouldn’t need a solar storm, just a solitary nuke detonated in the atmosphere above the American heartland. We would envy the horse-and-buggy era.

As we’ve reported here before, there are qualitative differences between a Carrington Event and a nuclear-generated EMP.

In any event, it would take a complete societal collapse and a passive lack of reaction by institutions and even individuals to produce the sort of societal collapse that these guys fear. One of the more realistic fictional renditions of an EMP attack is William Forstchen’s best-selling One Second After from a couple years ago. But even Forstchen underestimates the degree to which people will survive and recover from such an attack. The human impulse to survival is very strong, and it’s a social impulse: people up against the wall tend to cooperate to the extent that they can, even victims of horrible natural and man-made disasters.

But the EMP fright industry never lets up:

“Natural EMP from a geomagnetic superstorm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9-of-10 Americans through starvation, disease and societal collapse,” the Washington Free Beacon quoted Pry as saying.

As we reported early last year, Pry, a former CIA nuclear weapons analyst, believes that North Korea’s recent seemingly low-yield nuclear tests and launch of a low-orbit satellite may in fact be preparations for a future electromagnetic pulse attack.

via EMP Attack On Power Grid Could Kill 9-In-10 Americans – Investors.com.

Are the Norks preparing an EMP? Maybe. But how do they test it? How do they know it works?

A copy of a report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department, obtained by Pry from sources within DHS, finds North Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack America from the south.

But that understates, or fails to state, the Nork problem. Testing an EMP warhead is a tough thing to do, as is testing any kind of nuclear warhead, compounded by the fact that the foreign supporters of the Nork program, who have included at times Russia China and Pakistan, haven’t ever solved this conundrum, either. And even though the Norks have made this their national priority, they’re still a poor, badly-organized, and ill-led country.

Also, there are some American infrastructure elements, including most military weapons systems and command and control networks, that are already EMP-hardened. So you might succeed in taking down the power grid, but you won’t prevent massive retaliation.

EMP links & Videos

Here are a few more EMP resources. All of these are of the Chicken Little variety, including other takes on Pry’s testimony, and his actual written testimony (as opposed to some newshound’s version of what he said).

http://4thst8.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/what-will-you-be-doing-the-day-after-the-emp/

Here’s a brief video showing how an EMP would take place.

This is a longer (and more alarmist) video. Bill Forstchen, mentioned above, is interviewed in this. (His book is a worst-case scenario, but quite readable, unlike most didactic literature). He has some unpleasant comments about Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, a standout even in a Senate where every single member is a crook.

http://4thst8.wordpress.com/tag/peter-pry/

Pry’s testimony:

http://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM08/20140508/102200/HHRG-113-HM08-Wstate-PryP-20140508.pdf

http://www.empactamerica.org/2012-05-02_Pry-Homeland-Security.pdf

http://www.ferc.gov/CalendarFiles/20120502132652-Pry,%20Homeland%20Security.pdf

http://www.shieldact.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Senate-ENR-Handout.pdf

But even if the EMP scenario is overstated…

…as we think it is, you might still be well served by preparing for it. One thing to think about is this: most of the measures you would take to protect your family from the consequences of an EMP attack would also protect your family many times over from such more common disasters as flooding, urban riots, or a worst-season power outage that lasts several days. That’s why you owe it to yourself to read Bill Forstchen and other survival writers like John Wesley, Rawles.

What’s this “rifle?”

Yes, it’s time again to play Stump the Commenters:

stump_the_commenters_20140612

And here are a few clues that may help you. (Of course, they may further confound you. If so, that’s your problem, Mac).

  1. wile_e_coyote and bookWe will say that no one ever died of it.
  2. What appears to be a kink in the stock is the result of a scan of an image resting across the center gutter of a book.
  3. It is not from an English-speaking country. (Therefore, it did not come in a mail-order box from ACME).
  4. For its inventor, it was not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
  5. It was effective in that, for him.
  6. His work was soon overshadowed by that of others, who built on his successes.

We’ll post an UPDATE here when one of you Wile E Coyote Certified Super Geniuses nails it.

The Cyberdefense Consequences of Policy Weakness

Spy-vs-Spy-fullThis one’s been sitting around since March, unfinished, but we still have the jaws about it, and events this week compelled us to update and hit “send.”

Always opposed to US defense, the Administration managed at once to leak the secrets from the F-22 and F-35 secrets to China, while canceling the former and slow-walking production of the latter, ensuring that America’s future, smaller, land forces won’t be protected by American air superiority.

 

The F-22 cancellation was the second backstab, the F-35 delays the third, but the first and greatest backstab of them all has been to leak the secrets of those under-purchased planes to a potential competitor.

The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.

The new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defenses, along with many other systems, were compromised through cyber espionage, the board said in a report.

Most details of the Chinese cyber espionage campaign to obtain F-35 technology remain secret.

However, the Chinese probably obtained the F-35 secrets from Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors, or U.S. allies involved in the development program. Allies that took part in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

A Chinese Academy of Military Sciences official, Du Wenlong, told Chinese state television on Feb. 20 that the new J-20’s shortened exhaust nozzles, along with tail and vertical fin modifications, are designed to reduce radar detection.

Du also said that a “revolutionary” breakthrough allowed the twin engines to increase both power and reliability.

China’s inability to manufacture quality jet engines has been a weakness of its aircraft manufacturing programs.

Du also said that the electro-optical targeting system provides better surveillance and strike capabilities against both land and sea targets.

The J-20 also has a larger weapons bay than the U.S. F-22, which allows it to carry more powerful missiles that can be used against “aircraft carrier and foreign AEGIS ships,” Du said.

U.S. officials said the new J-20 had undergone ground tests, but it had not been flight tested as of early March.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on Chinese weapon systems, said the new J-20 was flight tested on March 1 and demonstrated the enhanced fifth generation jet fighter features.

Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it is “very curious” that the new J-20 featured its new electronic targeting system under its nose. That location increased its field of view and is similar to the targeting system on the F-35.

“This targeting system and a set of distributed high-power infrared sensors give the F-35 a previously unrivaled ‘situational awareness,’ but the now it is clear that the J-20 will have a similar targeting system and its own set of distributed sensors,” Fisher said.

“If as part of their espionage, China had also gained engineering insights into the F-35′s very advanced sensor systems, that could prove disastrous to its combat potential barring a rapid redesign and improvements before entering service,” Fisher added.

Advanced sensors on the F-35 were intended as insurance for the jet not having the best capabilities for maneuvering in flight, he said.

“But if the Chinese, via cyberespionage, have gained insights into its sensor system, then it is to be expected that China is also working on ways to jam or otherwise degrade its advantage,” Fisher said.

The J-20 targeting system indicates that the Chinese plan to use the jet for ground attack and air superiority missions like the F-35, he said, adding that it now appears the J-20 will be comparable to the more capable F-22.

“We can be assured that J-20 production will significantly exceed that of the 187 F-22 fighters cut off by the Obama Administration in 2010,” he said.

China’s Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Jan. 20 that China obtained key technologies from the F-35 and incorporated them into the J-20

The newspaper did not admit stealing the technology, but stated that China “completely obtained the six key technologies” from the F-35.

Those features include the electro-optical targeting system and a diverterless supersonic inlet, a thrust-vectoring jet nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.

via F-35 secrets now showing up in China’s stealth fighter – Washington Times.

There have been previous revelations of Chinese penetrations of the F-22 and F-35 projects. As far back as 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that:

In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.

Accused cyber spy Sun Kailang

Accused lead cyber spy Sun Kailiang.

And the espionage continues, and it isn’t just military information that is targeted. Just this week (19 May 14) the US indicted five Chinese officers for a variety of cybercrimes. ABC News:

Monday’s prosecution was announced on the heels of a separate worldwide operation over the weekend that resulted in the arrests of 97 people in 16 countries who are suspected of developing, distributing or using malicious software called BlackShades. Holder said the two cases illustrate an increased emphasis on cyber threats.

The criminal charges underscore a longtime Obama administration goal to prosecute state-sponsored cyberthreats, which U.S. officials say they have grappled with for years. One government report said more than 40 Pentagon weapons programs and nearly 30 other defense technologies have been compromised by cyber intrusions from China. And the cybersecurity firm Mandiant issued a report last year alleging links between a secret Chinese military unit and years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies.

Wang Dong's wanted posted (excerpt). The whole gang is at FBI's Most Wanted Cyber Criminals.

Wang Dong’s wanted posted (excerpt). The whole gang is at FBI’s Most Wanted Cyber Criminals.

The indictments  (summarized at DOJ; full indictment at DOJ [.pdf]) name the Chinese official hackers, one of whom has the pungent name (or nym) of Wang Dong, although he goes online by CyberGorilla. Wang, or Dong,  has his own FBI Wanted Poster now. The others are Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui. Wang, Sun and Wen are alleged hackers and Huang and Gu support officers assigned to Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. All of the suspects are charged with 31 assorted cybercrimes; if they were convicted and got maxed on all counts, they’d be liable for 187 years each (the 6 identity theft charges, if proven, must have consecutive sentences under the law). These particular spooks were engaged in economic, not military, technology theft.

You can put a nerd in uniform, but he's still a nerd: accused spy Gu Chunhui

You can put a nerd in uniform, but he’s still a nerd: accused spy Gu Chunhui

The case may have a rough time ahead in US courts, which seldom take espionage seriously, and defense attorneys are already floating a tu quoque defense suggesting that the Chinese collection is an understandable reaction to massive American collection.

In any event, we can’t try them if we don’t have them, and if you were a Chinese official, how would you react to the US trying to extradite a couple of your, not only nationals, but military officers? Various expressions of mirth come to mind. So why indict these guys now?

Apparently, a Deputy Attorney General at DOJ is upset that the Chinese spies didn’t stop when the American President used his magic powers of speech to persuade his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to rein in the cyberspooks last year. Sure enough, the White House’s policy was led by this forceful step: “Convey concern.”  The other steps all involve speaking, talking, or, as a last resort, “increasing public awareness.” Ooooh. That’s powerful.

convey_concerns_cyber_wussitude

And yet, all this conveying and concerning and consciousness-raising made no impact on the behavior of the boys of 61398.

It’s almost as if they don’t respect him, or something, and it’s totally hard to understand how they’d come to that position.

Meanwhile, MIT Technology Review interviews an internet security CTO about possible American countermeasures. Oddly enough, he doesn’t suggest another stirring speech.

An excellent overview of Military Unit Cover Designator 61398 can be found at Kevin Mandia’s Mandiant.com. Yes, 61398 is the Chinese cyberattack entity formerly known to defenders, and outed by Mandiant to the world, as APT 1 (Advanced Persistent Threat 1). Mandiant’s blog is also on point if this sort of thing interests — or simply frightens — you.

DIY Wolverine Claws

We hadn’t heard of Colin Furze (his last name sounds like the plural of “fur”) before, but he’s a manic young Englishman who gets an awful lot of DIY mileage out of his small urban garage, or shed. The word “manic” is overexposed in our adjective-happy culture, but in a moment we’ll let Colin himself show you his project, and you tell us if that’s the right word for him.

Project? Make a set of Wolverine claws, like the mutant X-man of the same name. Only, make them work. In the comic books and movies, Wolverine is a mutant; Colin, conversely, is a plumber, but he’s got a model builder’s eye, and he builds a set of claws that are not just special effects, but have the potential to actually be weapons. And then… he laughs!

So, did we nail him with “manic,” or what?

Anyway, if you liked that video you’ll probably like the making-of video even more.

“Can we recreate Wolverine’s claws? His come out between his knuckles. Can’t do that… it’s gonna require surgery, and I haven’t got any space in there.”

He explains what he was thinking on his web page. A creative guy, as you’ll see if you watch some of his other videos also.

FDA Moves to Regulate Lasers, Ban High-Powered Units

Is that a warm glow we’re feeling, or are you just glad to range us? The Food and Drug Administration, apparently upset that all kinds of other agencies are getting their Nazi on and leaving the pill police behind, wants to restrict and, functionally, ban, all but the lowest-powered laser pointers. Everything but the green five-watters in the chart below? Banned. “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Pretty neat,” as some politician or other said.

WL-Powerabilitiesnew

Why? Because they’re from the Government and they’re here to help you, and because occasional asshats have aimed pointers at aircraft. (The usual outcome: asshat in prison. It’s a Federal felony to point a laser at an aircraft in flight. A guy got 14 years for this, last month). As the above chart (from laser vendor wickedlasers.com shows) higher-wattage and -wavelength lasers are powerful enough to, as your mother warned you, put your eye out. Kind of like a scissors, then, which the nannzies at FDA haven’t gotten to. Yet.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration published new draft guidance that could effectively put an end to high-powered lasers in the United States. It will not be formally approved until the 90-day comment period has passed.

The move is likely in response to the growing threat of laser strikes against aircraft. Since early 2014, the FBI has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who reports a laser strike to federal authorities, leading to an arrest. Since the FBI began keeping track in 2004, there have been more than 12,000 reported incidents nationwide—and the incident rate continues to climb.

Earlier this year, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison in a lasering incident, believed to be the harshest such sentence in the United States, and possibly in the world. Pilots say that being struck with such lasers can be terrifying, causing temporary blindness and sometimes lingering headaches.

The new draft regulation expands the definition of surveying, leveling, or alignment (SLA) lasers, which are currently capped at five milliwatts of power, to include consumer-grade lasers. Sites, like WickedLasers.com, openly sell lasers with up to 2W of power for $200 to $600.

via Feds issue “draft guidance” to restrict high-powered laser pointers | Ars Technica.

The clowns managing the transition from nanny to Nazi at the FDA (which is where we get the neologism nannzies) announce their power over lasers on a web page, but have yet to announce their intent to ban large sections of the things, although they do assert that any laser not now making less than their future limit IS ILLEGAL. (Emphasis theirs).

Even the smallest handheld, battery-powered lasers are capable of emitting laser light at hazardous powers. Larger models, the size of a small flashlight, can burn skin and pop balloons. More importantly, consumers should assume any size handheld battery-powered laser they do not directly control has the potential to blind or permanently affect eyesight.

Do not purchase a handheld, battery-powered laser labeled with hazard Class IIIb, Class IV, Class 1M, Class 2M, Class 3B or Class 4 unless the manufacturer has an approval from FDA (called a “variance”) to allow the purchase.  Sales without a variance, or sales that violate the conditions of the variance, ARE ILLEGAL.

You might have something to say to that, but the only thing they want to hear from you is “Jawohl,” and a smart click of the heels. If they want any lip from you, they’ll scrape it off their brass knuckles.

So how did the payroll patriots at the FDA come to regulate lasers? They just decided to grab the power one day, and they up and did it. And nobody objected, so they kept grabbing more power. As they told the owner of the website LaserPointerSafety.com, they didn’t bother to announce the new regulation in the Federal Register, as the law requires regulators do. Why not? “Because of the way the regulations are stated, the FDA determined that a guidance document was not needed when making this determination.” (More detail in this pdf).

If that sounds like Because F!&% You then you’ve tapped into the essence of Washington attitude. What’s the best way to deal with criminal misuse of a product? Ban it! If they want any lip from you…

For the time being, of course, high-powered lasers remain for sale. The ArsTechnica story linked above shows you a 2 Watt laser (often stated as 2,000 MW, because 2 Watts sounds tiny when it’s actually a gorilla among lasers) for $600, featuring hip/cool/George Lucas-ified Star Wars styling. If your taste in lasers runs more to the functional than the theatric, you can get the same power in a knurled alloy tube from Sky Technologies for $270. It has a neat focus feature making it useful as a long-distance flashlight. And here’s one for $170, that’s visibly cheaper in both senses of the word.

But even if the ban slides through, despite the complete lack of applicable statutory authority, the FDA’s nannzies can’t — yet — come into your home and stop you from building one. Here’s an example:

And this site seems to be one source of expertise and parts. Scroll down past the ads. When will they ever learn, you can’t stop the signal?

Gilboa Constrictor

OK, it’s really called the “Gilboa Snake,” but our name is way better, no?

Gilboa  Snake

Anyway, what it is is a unique dual-upper AR-based weapons system from Gilboa Rifles of Israel; it was a surprise at the NRA Show and people are talking about it, although nobody in the USA has one yet thanks to the political police at the BATFE and the laws they enforce (for which you can thank your Congressman and Senator).

The Snake has a trigger system that only fires the left barrel. The left barrel’s gas system itself then cycles the reload for its barrel whilst firing the right barrel. The right barrel’s gas system reloads the right barrel, and then your trigger is reset to fire again. Since every trigger pull (or press, for you NRA terminology pedants) fires two barrels and therefore two shots, it’s a “machine gun” under the National Firearms Act and therefore it is banned from manufacture and sale in the USA, under the Hughes Amendment.

So Gilboa, which is a gun-making branch of an Israeli defense firm, Silver Shadow, started by retired paratrooper LTC Amos Golan, is redesigning the gun to have two separate triggers, one for each barrel. This loses some of the benefits of automatically firing two rounds with a delay measured in (says Gilboa) nanoseconds: the slight dispersion around the single aiming point that increases hit probability, and the ability to put two rounds very close together in space and time to defeat barriers like auto windshields.

The mechanism sounded at first like some update of the old siamesed Gast machine gun, but it’s really quite different; the Gast’s twin barrels and twin mechanisms were mirror images of one another, and the gun operated by recoil.

The receivers, upper and lower alike, are machined from billet 7075-T6 aluminum. The two barrels are set 3 centimeters (a little over one inch) apart, and are harmonized to converge on the single point of aim at 100 meters (although this can be altered). Each side of the gun ejects to its side and has its own ejection port, ejection port cover, and cartridge deflector. There is a single central Picatinny rail along the top of the receiver and forearm. There is no buffer in the stock, so a pistol Snake is a possibility, as are all kinds of detachable and folding stocks.

 

Gilboa Snake

According to an Israeli magazine article (.pdf) hosted on Gilboa’s website, the gun fires from an open bolt, another thing that must change for US sales.

The Gilboa is no lightweight. With 9.5″ barrels it weighs a good nine pounds, and that’s not counting two loaded magazines. Normal 20- and 30-round box magazines will fit, but most drum magazines will not.

Gilboa’s initial design was the well-publicized Corner Shot add-on for the Glock pistol. Their initial Gilboa Assault Rifle was a much more conventional single-barreled AR-based rifle. All in all, they offer 11 different major versions of the rifle, most in either piston or direct impingement variations. One can be excused for wondering if they have more variations than actual serial numbers so far, but Gilboa has one of Israel’s top weapons men in Efraim Yaari, formerly of IWI. Yaari is, as we understand it, principally responsible for the design of both the single-barrel Gilboa and its siamese-twins sibling, the Snake.

To close, here’s a look at another one of the other Gilboa variations: a 9mm SMG using Glock magazines.

Gilboa 9mm

 

The Gilboa guns have a certain aesthetic to them, one that’s a little bit reminscent of the Glock itself. Certainly Amos Golan will be gladdened if his guns are anything like as popular as the once-oddball Austrian pistols. Thirty years later, polymer pistols are normal. In 2044, will most rifles have double barrels and actions?

When the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace Went to War

Major General Snow after the war, with US and Allied decorations.

Major General Snow after the war, with US and Allied decorations.

It was 1918, and the organization was then known as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The very able Maj. Gen. William J Snow had just been appointed to the new position of Chief of Army Artillery. The position was desperately needed: at the US entry into the war in 1917, the Army had barely 275 officers and 5000 men in its trained artillery, yielding, apart from colonial garrisons, one understrength regiment each of light, heavy, and horse artillery. You would think that the branch would have grown as the Great War roiled Europe, but the 1917 numbers, and the situation, were practically identical to those that obtained in August 1914 when the war broke out. Snow recalled:

In 1914 the Field Artillery of the United States Regular Army consisted of 266 officers and 4,992 enlisted men organized into six regiments. This was sufficient only to provide small overseas garrisons and what might be considered “display samples” of the different classes of field artillery in the United States.

There were no mortars (in WWI, the US would consider these infantry weapons artillery, but they hadn’t got to the point of having any yet), and no echelons above the artillery regiment, which was suited to be part of no combined-arms or infantry formation larger than division. In the four-million-man army built after 1917 for the war, all these things would be rectified, but not without drama. After Snow’s appointment as the Army’s chief of cannon-cockers, he found, initially, there was no office for him in Washington. (The Pentagon, of course, was 25 years in the future). But he had brought some resourceful staff officers with him:

On my third day in office two assistants reported for duty. They were Majors Bacon and Channing, who had been on my staff at Camp Jackson. I told them to go out and hire an office and engage some clerks, while I again spent the day in the staff and supply departments. Late that afternoon they returned and told me that there was not an office to be rented in Washington but that they had secured the loan of the building occupied by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and that for my personal use Elihu Root was lending me his office!

And so it was that I began my work in the War Department in this Peace Endowment building, the Carnegie Peace people paying the rent. I always thought this quite appropriate, for certainly so far as practical results go I accomplished more to restore international peace than Mr. Carnegie ever did to maintain it.

That last was a bit of a zing, but then, as now, the peaceniks have it coming. For “peace”, most of them mean, “surrender”; and for resolving conflict, most of them take the bold approach of the ostrich of legend. Root’s Carnegie Peace office would continue to serve Snow, and by extension, the nation, even after Major General Snow had an office of his own:

The Secretary of the General Staff kept his promise in a few days he assigned me one room6 and one clerk in the War Department building. He also furnished me the money-saving rubber stamp, Office of the Chief of Field Artillery.

For some time, even after my office was well established in a suite in the State, War, and Navy Building I kept Mr. Root’s office as a place where I could worked quietly and undisturbed on knotty problems; for frequently when I arrived at my main office in the morning I found, extending down the corridor, a line of people waiting to see me.

One of the perks, if that’s the word, of being Chief of Artillery during wartime, is that inventive Americans being their high-tech solutions to you:

THE FIELD ARTILLERY JOURNAL – JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1940

Of course, the Office had an Inventions Section. The American is quite prolific with ideas. One contractor thought guns and ammunition were obsolete and that what was needed was modern machinery on a large scale, so that a veritable subway could be dug under the enemy with steam shovels and the whole German army be blown up. Another man suggested a loaded club so arranged that when you hit a man over the head it would shoot him too. A very modest fellow proposed a pencil that would make its writing visible in the dark. Another had a plan for a folding bullet-proof steel umbrella. Still another suggested chemical powder to sift on one’s body to cleanse it like a bath.

And so on. These schemes poured in. And they all had to be treated with polite consideration. As an illustration, I may mention the idea of a man from the southern part of the United States, who suggested that instead of high explosive, we load a rattlesnake into each shell. We thanked him and mentioned several obvious disadvantages and invited him to communicate with us when these difficulties were solved.

That was a general with a dry sense of humor indeed. And, even then, Congressional inquiries were a bane of pre-Beltway existence:

Then there was an Information Bureau, principally for members of Congress. We took the position of never saying “You have the wrong office.” On the contrary, when a member of Congress called up about hand grenades or whatnot, we would tell him that, while this did not pertain to field artillery, we would get the information for him. We were always definite, specific, and helpful.

General Snow’s reminisces are excerpted in the January-February 1940 number of the Field Artillery Journal. They’re worth reading in depth, including his visit to the respected training expert General Morrison, who advised him, “if you value your reputation, get away from the War Department,” and his frank assessment of General Pershing’s criticism of the War Department, and Woodrow Wilson’s performance as Commander-in-Chief. Still a good read, almost a century after the events he describes. More of his memoirs were excerpted in at least one subsequent issue, perhaps more.