US Navy DASH (Remote controlled helicopter)

The DASH itself isn’t very significant to being in the museum. Perhaps to show that ‘drones’ (unmanned air vehicles) are not new to the military arsenal.

But what is significant is that the DASH is being displayed with the training version of a B57 Nuclear Depth bomb.

You would have thought that the Smithsonian would have been more sensitive to this after all of the issues they had putting the ‘Enola Gay’ on display.

(the museum isn’t being shy about the DASH being shown with a Nuke. It is described on the info placard for the aircraft)


Not recycled into Soda Cans yet

Caught during a bus tour of the AMARC disposal yard in late August.

What appears to be four Grumman F-14 Tomcat’s still intact and waiting to be recycled to prevent their parts from making it to the Iranians (to help them maintain their fleet)


Want to see a 60’s era spy sat?

Agena Upper Stage by rob-the-org
Agena Upper Stage, a photo by rob-the-org on Flickr.

This weekend (Sat, 9/17), the NRO will be showing off its newly declassified HEXAGON (KH-9) for one day only at the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, VA.

After it is shown at UHC, it will be taken to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH to go on permanent display there.

Related links;

– NASM Press release –

– Space review article on the upcoming declassification of this and another spy sat (useful for the scale drawing of different sat’s) –

Update – 9/19….

Here is a link to the SpaceflightNow story of the Hexagon display.  Includes a picture of a Hexagon being prepared for flight testing.


Checkpoint: 2011 May

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. -Theodore Roosevelt


We are talking about citizenship. If one claims to support the president no matter what, then that person must support what Mr. Roosevelt said, right? Okay, that was cheap. Try this one: If one claims to support the president no matter what, then they must vote to re-elect whoever the preseident currently is, right?   Of course not!  Again, we are talking about citizenship. If and when we stop thinking for ourselves, if and when we start blindly supporting the individual serving as President, if and when we start making “no matter what” assertions as citizens, then we fail as a citizenship and a country.  As we already are.


America is not equal to the American President. America is all of us. The people, the land, the policies, the way we as humans treat others not like us. Thinking that America is equal to the American President is mindless ignorance that makes it easy for us to be led around by the media, the politicians, and to ignore the atrocities committed by them. We have become comfortably numb.


The problem is that we all find it far too easy to just blindly follow along with whatever the politicians are doing, and whatever the media tells us, and absolve ourselves of responsibility. Again, as citizens. We as citizens find it easy to ignore the atrocities committed by our politicians in our names. And then we wonder why the world hates us? As citizens, we are responsible for our country and its actions.


We all clearly know how to complain… but what can we do as a people, to change all this?


People love to complain about TSA.  The TSA is not the enemy here, any more than a “well-regulated (military)” is. They are just tools. Rudness to TSA, hatred towards our military is just cruelty to our fellow citizens. They’re just trying to do a job and survive, like the rest of us. The enemy here MIGHT BE our elected politicians, who are clearly more interested in themselves and their power than those they were called to serve. And I certainly detest many of those politicians, and what they are doing. But I believe the real enemy here is our own ignorance and apathy. Quote: “Which is worse, ignorance, or apathy? Who knows? Who cares?” Funny, but true. I believe most of us who can still think for ourselves are trying to fight THAT enemy, and none other, and trying to make our once-great country truly great again. Before it becomes too late.



Tanker wars – finally over?

With last week’s announcement that Boeing has won the latest round of the KC-X tanker contract – the Air Force may finally be on its way to replacing the aging and overworked KC-135 fleet.

This contract has been up for debate for almost 10 years, when Boeing originally proposed to lease new 767-based tankers to the Air Force at what would be a dramatic markup over buying the aircraft outright. When the Congressional outrage and indictments died down, the Air Force had to start over, and the competition was between Boeing (US) and Airbus (Europe).

The original contract was awarded to a partnership of Northrup-Grumman and Airbus in 2008, but Boeing challenged that award and the GAO forced the bidding to be restarted in 2009.

Airbus said all of the right things. Their plan was to build their existing A330 Multi Role Tanker at a new plant outside of Mobile, AL. They were already building this same aircraft for Australia (even though there have been some hiccups in the testing – notably part of the refueling boom falling off during testing in Europe). But when the decision was announced, it turned out that Boeing had beat Airbus’ price by 10%. Which in today’s tough economic times, may have been the only thing considered.

The Air Force – in an attempt to derail any possible challenges to this latest ruling, spent an extra day debriefing Airbus on why the decision went the way it did. And so on Saturday, the word has come out that EADS (Airbus parent company) will not challenge the latest result in this contract battle.

[It should be noted, that the Boeing offering changed from what had originally been proposed back in 2001/2002, so the prototype that Boeing modified – dubbed the Frankentanker – will not be resurrected for use under the latest contract award]


Iranian nuclear ambitions delayed?

Sunday’s New York Times will have an article on the Front Page that strongly suggests that the Stuxnet worm was an Infowar attack by the Israeli’s against the Iranian Nuclear program. It goes on to suggest that the US assisted and supported the development of this worm as a way to slow down the Iranian attempt to create a nuclear bomb.

This program has seemed to work – and Israeli and US intelligence seem to think this has added 3 years to the timetable for the Iranian’s to have a usable nuclear device.

Time will tell – if this has had the desired effect – or shown others a new way to attack their enemies.


Royal Navy – newest sub runs aground

HMS Astute – the lead ship of the Royal Navy’s newest class of nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN), has run aground off the Scottish coast.

[to give some perspective – this would be the equivalent of the USS Virginia (the US Navy’s newest class of SSN’s) running aground right outside Norfolk, VA]

Not a good way to improve your career options in a rapidly shrinking military.


Lockheed Martin Jet Month Sale

Its a Friday in the dog days of summer – so sit back and view this YouTube ad for Lockheed Martin’s Jet Month sale.


Washington Post series “Top Secret America”

The Washington Post started a multi-part series of articles today about the growth of “Top Secret America” since the 9/11 attacks.

Some are worried that their little fiefdoms will be exposed – and a memo supposedly went out warning Contractor’s to confirm nothing once the article came out.

Apparently there was concern about the map that is part of the web site – and besides the fact that you can’t go closer than city (and in some places that is still enough to pin point a location) – but you have to realize that any airport that has TSA and/or Custom Border Protection – will be marked on a map (and counted in the statistics).

You can argue the merits of this article either way;
– the public has a right to know how it money is being spent/wasted in this bureaucracy
– this article provides insight to our enemies that there are gaps that could be exploited
– the fact the current administration hasn’t curtailed the growth shows that they feel the need for this continued level of security (but don’t have a better way of doing it)

One way or another – it will be worth it to keep an eye on this series to see what plays out (and if any thing gets fixed after it all is brought to light).


Ohio class SSGN appear around the Pacific

In a move that almost sounds like it is out of an Action Adventure thriller, the US Navy quietly deployed 3 Ohio-class SSGN’s in and around the Pacific early last week, and had the boats all surface on the same day (Monday, June 28th) – where they would be noticed;

  • U.S.S. Ohio in the Philippines’ Subic Bay
  • U.S.S. Michigan in Pusan, South Korea
  • U.S.S. Florida at Diego Garcia

Why is just 3 submarines such a big deal? Because of their payload. Each Ohio SSGN carries almost 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles, capable of hitting a target over 1,000 miles away with a conventional warhead. So over 400 missiles just showed up within range of North Korea (whining about being caught sinking a S Korean warship) and China (who was on the verge of testing their new Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile over the 4th of July weekend – 2nd article down) without any warning.

And it was done quietly. So as not to inflame the situation.

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in either Beijing or Pyongyang when this was noticed.

Read the whole story at Time.


Israel has permission to overfly Saudi Arabia

It is always fun to see what stories are published on a slow summer Friday – that fly completely under the radar.

Take for example this story published by The Times on Saturday – that claims the Israeli’s have Saudi permission to overfly Saudi airspace on the way to attack Iran.

The fact that the story appears no where else – makes you wonder if it was just an early ‘test leak’ to gauge public opinion, or else just put pressure on the Iranian government to comply w/ UN Arms control directives.


Mig-17 Fresco blasting off


Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

As fewer and fewer World War 2 era airplanes are still flying – it is good to see that some ‘newer’ planes are being restored and flown on a regular basis (more than just at airshows).

This Mig is owned by a pilot in the Tucson (AZ) area and was leaving an area airport (where the Collings Foundation was visiting w/ their B-17, B-24 and P-51) under full afterburner.

(to see the other pictures of its departure – click here)


Quick Pima update

When I went down to Tucson last month to see the Heritage Flight rehearsal – I got down there before any flying started. So I headed over to the Pima Air & Space Museum to see what was new in the last year.

I quickly walked through the hangers and around the grounds, keeping half an eye on the air over Davis-Monthan across the street (so I wouldn’t miss too much of the Heritage flights.

If it was something that had changed since January 2009, the new picture appears on the left – and the old picture on the right. If it was something brand new, there will only be a single picture on the left. Click on any picture to go to my Flickr account for more detail on these and other pictures of these aircraft.

Convair B-36 Peacemaker (head on) B-36 Peacemaker - stripped of paint
Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Inflatable Decoys

HERE is a Gallery of pictures of different Russian military hardware decoys.

I like the claim on the 7th slide that says the decoys appear to be real even to thermal or IR sensors.


US Navy Leap Frogs – parachute demo team


Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

While the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels are two of the best known Military demonstration teams, there are others teams that travel the country and show off their skills as well.

During this past weekend – the US Navy Leap Frogs parachute demonstration team jumped into selected Major League Baseball Spring Training games in the Phoenix Metro area.

The Leap Frogs are made up of SEAL’s and other Naval Special Warfare operators, and this is just another assignment/normal tour of duty.

Click here to view selected pictures from their demonstration at the Cleveland Indians game in Goodyear, AZ.


Answer – Name this missile

Douglas AIR-2 Genie

Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

a. Douglas AIR-2 Genie (its an unguided rocket, not a missile)
b. Air to Air, designed to shoot down incoming bomber formations
c. 1.5 kiloton nuclear warhead (how else were you expecting one rocket to take out multiple bombers)

The blue body denotes an inert/training body.


Air Show Rehearsal

Last year I blogged about going to an US Air Force air show. This year – as Air Show season is about to start – I was able to spend a day watching the US Air Force demo teams practice not only their routines, but also for the Heritage Flights.

Early each Spring – the US Air Force demo teams gather at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ to plan out how the flights will be flown, then rehearsal their routines and to actually practice the Heritage Flight formations. Heritage Flights are where front line Air Force fighters (F-15, F-16, F-22 and A-10’s) will fly formation with historic aircraft (P-51 Mustangs, P-40 Warhawk, A-1 Skyraider, F-4 Phantom).

The advantage to being at this event – is you get to see more than just one Heritage Flight formation.  I saw a P-51 Mustang, flying with two F-4 Phantom’s, and a F-16 Viper.  And then later on – it was a P-51, a F-4, a F-16 and a F-22 Raptor.

All of the pictures are available through the link to the Slideshow below.


Name this missile


Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

I love wandering the aircraft museum’s to see where some curator has stashed a hidden gem. Walking along the rows of fighters on Saturday morning – I came across this one sitting on its trailer – already to be mounted to an aircraft.

Can you tell me;

a) Name/Designation?
b) What was it used for?
c) What was its payload/warhead?




Originally uploaded by Code20photog

I *think* I saw one of these yesterday afternoon.

I was waiting to board my return flight to Phoenix at Orlando (MCO), and I thought I saw one of these parked on the cargo ramp (the satcom hump on the top of the fuselage is the giveaway). Since boarding was about to start – and it was a full flight – I didn’t stop and get my camera out to snap even a crappy picture of it.

I actually had a window seat – so once I got seated I got my camera out and waiting for the plane to push back. Once we did – and I got a view of the cargo ramp – it was gone.

Let me explain a little about the E-6 Mercury. This is considered a strategic asset – in that it is responsible for relaying orders to the US Ballistic Missile Submarine fleet. Even though it is Boeing 707 airframe – it has a modern glass cockpit from the 737 next generation, and was only delivered to the Navy between 1989 and 1992.

There are 16 of these aircraft total – and at least one (and more likely two) are airborne at any time. So if you happen to see one of these outside of Offutt Air Force Base (in NE), stop what you are doing and take a picture of it.


Airborne Laser shoots and scores!

Last night – the US Air Force’s much maligned Airborne Laser project hit the jackpot with a successful in-flight engagement and destruction of a Scud-like ballistic missile shortly after it was launched.

In the video below, a timecode that could be used to evaluate how long the laser was on target before its destruction – is noticeably missing.

The Airborne Laser is a chemically charged laser mounted in a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter. This was originally planned to go into Operational use, but due to cost and schedule overruns, (Defense) Secretary Gates decided last year to downgrade the project to a R&D project. Whether this successful test will change the Pentagon’s plans for this system – has yet to be seen.

It is unknown how long this test has been planned, but what is interesting is that the results of this test were publicized, while another successful test earlier this month was not (last sentence in press release). It is possible that publicizing this test was meant to show an uncooperative Middle East state that continued nuclear enrichment is not a good idea.