Archive for January, 2009

Pima – Restoration hangar and grounds

Behind a sign that says ‘Museum Staff only’ rests the Restoration Hangar and storage yard.  This is where planes are prepped to go on display, and others sit either waiting for their turn, or waiting to used as parts for another exhibit.

Being allowed into the Restoration was the whipped cream on this photo trip (the cherry will be another post).  It was due to the diligence of the organizer of the photo trip.

The Restoration shop is where aircraft are taken apart, cleaned, holes patched, put back together again, and repainted.

Read the rest of this entry »




As one ThreatAxis member makes last minute preparations tonight before departing to Afghanistan tomorrow, this correspondent has been given to wonder about the apparent attempts of the United States to focus more on Afghanistan… and less on Iraq.

Media and other groups around the world are just beginning to notice this trend.  Ever a leader, the BBC reported on this very issue, outlining several of the problems faced by the United States and its allies during the coming months.

The issue is twofold. First, Iraq. There can be no doubt that the war in Iraq was grim. Former President George W. Bush sacrificed his own political career and reputation being what he was supposed to be: a leader listening to his people. Americans have quickly and conveniently forgotten that they are all complicit in the Iraq war to some degree: On September 12th, 2001, everyone was calling for retribution, and crying out in favor of war.  Regardless of any political niggling that may have come later, regardless of perceptions about weapons of mass destruction, President Bush did not push America into war.  America pushed the President into war.

And into war they went.  Iraq is now ostensibly “free” – free of its tyrranical and genocidial dictator, at least – but the official analysis of the security situation there remains “fragile, reversible, and uneven” throughout Iraq.  This key phrase says it all. Right or wrong, the United States went in to Iraq, and this brings with it responsibility to do what is possible to rebuild the nation for its innocent civilians.  The dictator was evil, the terrorists were obviously there… but the civilians were still innocent.  The people who are yammering for their “troops to come home” are the same irresponsible yet ultimately responsible people who were screaming for war and retribution seven years ago.

Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking – Airbus will not bid on new Air Force One contract

According to an Exclusive post over on Ares (AvWeek milblog) – an Airbus spokesman in Washington has said they do not plan on bidding on the replacement for the current Boeing 747-200 versions of Air Force One (VC-25).

Many had expected Airbus to propose their A380 superjumbo for the size and range requirements outlined in the Air Force RFI.


Pima – P-51 Mustang being built

In the middle of the museum field of planes – there is a non-descript building which houses a special project.  This building is referred to as ‘Area 51’ – and is where the museum’s craftsmen are building their own P-51 Mustang.

Now – they don’t ever expect this plane to fly, so the strength of the wings and the fuselage are one of the areas that they are cutting back on.  But otherwise – they are working from original blueprints and where possible (budget & availability) using original parts.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pima – Avro Shackleton AEW.Mk2 ‘Mr Henry’

Back at the edge of the restoration area – was an Avro Shackleton AEW.Mk2 named ‘Mr McHenry’ – that was donated by Air Atlantique Classic Flight.

The Shackleton was a post World War 2 design for a RAF Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This particular airframe, WL790, was converted to be a AEW (Airborne Early Warning) platform.

Read the rest of this entry »


[UPDATE] Pima – Mig 29 Fulcrum

The first new exhibit – was a Mig-29 Fulcrum on the fence line (along Valencia Road).

Even though the Mig is in Russian Air Force markings, one of the other photographers on the trip seemed to think that this is one of the former Moldovan Mig-29’s that the US bought back in 1997 (because this version of the Mig-29 – ‘S’ had a built in jammer on the spine, and was capable of being equipped with nuclear stand-off weapons).

Read the rest of this entry »


Trident – last of the UK deterrent force?


Originally uploaded by Frank Bennett.

In the next 10-15 years – the Trident D-5 SLBM deterrent force for both the US (Ohio-class) and the UK (Vanguard-class) will be approaching the end of their service lives.

In the UK, the government got approval from the House of Commons in March of 2007 to spend between 15 and 20 billion Pounds on a new class of submarines to continue to maintain a submarine launched deterrence.

Even though this program was approved, some former senior British military officers have recently come out and said the Trident replacement is ‘irrelevant’ and would prefer to see the money spent on conventional forces (which are more useful in today’s War on Terrorism).

Read the rest of this entry »


Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson AZ

Soaring over the mountains

Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

I took a road trip this past weekend down to the Pima Air & Space Museum on the east side of Tucson, AZ this past Saturday. It was my first visit in almost two years, and my first trip with my current camera.

Each time I have gone, I have found something new and surprising, and this trip was no exception. Expect to see the highlights from this trip over the coming days.


[UPDATE] DSP#23 – Dead in orbit

Defense Support Program (DSP)

Originally uploaded by megzzzzz

According to SpaceflightNow’s new ace reporterone of the US Early Warning (DSP) Sat’s stopped responding to commands from the ground in early October (2008), after being in orbit less than a year.

There will be no repeat of the US Navy shooting down this crippled sat – because this one is up in GeoSync orbit. 23,000+ miles up. Well out of range of any modified Standard missiles.

While the loss of what should be a sizeable percentage of the US’s Early Warning capacity (especially on the eve of a Presidential transition) is alarming – that is not the meat of this story….

The surprise in this story is according to the author – the US used to small test bed sat’s that were also in GeoSync to conduct fly-by check’s of the unresponsive DSP bird.

Read the rest of this entry »


[UPDATE] And you thought the Air Force Tanker was a heated debate….

Then get ready for the competition between Boeing and Airbus over building the new Air Force One.

It will be an interesting showdown between the Boeing 747-800 (Intercontinental) vs the Airbus A380.

No matter who wins – I am sure that the interior will be installed by a ‘trusted’ contractor – so that there is no repeat of the bug issue on the Chinese President’s Boeing 767.

Read the rest of this entry »


Control Alt Armagedon?


Originally uploaded by Frank Bennett.

When I saw this article – Royal Navy goes with “Windows for Subs” – I got goosebumps.

Bucking the open-source trend, the British Royal Navy has developed a modified version of Microsoft Windows XP and has begun installing it on its fleet of nuclear submarines.

According to the BAE (lead integrator) news release – the new Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG) “transfers the software applications proven on earlier variants of SMCS to a modern system architecture that uses mainstream PCs to provide the computer processing with Microsoft Windows as the software operating system.”

So at this point – all of the RN’s nuclear submarines have been upgraded with these new control stations. Including – the 4 Vanguard class SSBN’s.

Nuclear Weapons – Trident SLBM’s – controlled through Windows.

Maybe Apple should make a Mac commerical based on Windows doing this. Or else another way for Microsoft to push Vista?