Wednesday, February 18, 2009
in Popular Mechanics ( March issue) this month there is an excellent cover story by my friend and fellow writer Phil Patton.
I'm not just saying it is excellent because I am quoted within, but because it is a well researched piece, exploring the current UFO myths and in particular the recent Stephenville, Texas UFO sighting.
True Believers will hate it, but Interceptors will concur, that most of what UFO buffs are seeing, are most likely the products of a even more mysterious world known as the Black World.
Some of these "UFOs" are being flown by little green men - but by "men" - I do mean humans wearing OD green flight suits.
In any event, its a good read and I hope you buy a copy.
PM Investigates: UFO Myths
Strings of lights
- what's really behind the new sightings.
The US Air Force’s Defense Satellite Communications System III constellation has bragging rights as the longest-serving on-orbit military communications system in US history.
Built by Lockheed Martin, the system has surpassed 200 years of uninterrupted secure voice and high-data rate communications for Defense Department users worldwide. In all, 14 DSCS III spacecraft have been built at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility.''
Their design life is 10 years but smart management of station keeping fuel, plus a solid design and construction, mean that 10 of them have provided a total of 71 years beyond their design life.'
There are nine operating currently, beginning with B12 launched on July 2, 1992, through the latest, B6 launched August 29, 2003'
Alas, all good things come to an end.''
DSCS’ replacement, the Boeing-built Wideband Global Satcom constellation,'is on its way. WGS-1 is in operation; WGS-2 is due for launch Mar. 13 and WGS-3 in July. The new spacecraft take advantage of innovations in commercial comsat technology and are more capable than the older DSCS III design.'
Phase-out of DSCS III is expected in 2011 after the launch of WGS-5. The network will grow to six satellites in 2013.'
Meanwhile, LockMart is busy on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency program, a replacement for the Milstar constellation. The first AEHF is to be delivered to the Air Force nest year. AEHF will increase data rates by a factor of five over Milstar and double the number of possible connections.'
Milstar will pass its 50th year of on orbit operations in April.''"
(Via On Space.)
New nuclear plants to protect against jet strikes: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted Tuesday to require any future nuclear power plants to be designed to withstand strikes from commercial jetliners, addressing a possible terrorist scenario that has haunted some people since the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Checking out the Zhuk-M1E radar at Aero-India - the new unit developed by Phazotron for the MiG-29M, MiG-29K and upgrades - one detail was obvious:' the backside of the radome and the front of the bulkhead were covered with what looked like something you'd clean the barbecue with.
Photo by Bill Sweetman
It's radar-absorbent material (RAM) and pretty effective RAM at that. Nothing very exotic, but it does not need to be, since it is sealed up inside the radome and protected from aerodynamic forces, heat and moisture. In fact, US RAM specialists Emerson & Cuming sell a very similar product on the open market, an open-cell plastic foam doped with carbon absorber.
Russians are not stupid and do not do things if there is no point, and there would not be a lot of point in dealing with the radar-cross section (RCS) hotspot from the radar antenna if they had not also dealt with the other sore-thumb hotspots, namely the inlets/compressor faces and the cockpit.
The technology to do this was described in detail in technical papers delivered in London some years ago by representatives from the ITAE research institute, who had applied it to the Su-27 family. ITAE had even worked out how to apply RAM directly to the first-stage fan blades, which is quite a neat trick, and had devised spray-on RAM for missiles. One may assume these or similar measures are available to MiG.
The same kind of measures are also used on many Western aircraft, but are usually not shown in detail unless someone screws up:
Whoops. That's a Have Glass II F-16 and the white plastic shroud around the radar workings is RAM.
Reducing the front-sector RCS, mostly in X-band, is a far cry from full-up stealth technology. It does not make the aircraft invisible. But what it does do (and quite effectively) is make jamming more effective by reducing the burn-through range (the point at which a radar defeats jamming because the reflection is stronger than the jamming signal).
The lesson:' Any combat-effectiveness comparisons that are based on the old standard for the nose-on RCS of a fighter - around 5 m2 - can be considered invalid.