Thursday, October 23, 2014

Secret Service "catfishes" a Romanian hacker - and catches him ..

SOURCE: 

Being a Secret Service agent requires extraordinary bravery. But sometimes, it also requires flirting with a Romanian hacker.

Secret Service Agent Matt O'Neill did just that during a three-year undercover investigation that began in 2008 into the point-of-sale hacking at Subway sandwich franchises and other retailers.

He told the story in Washington on Monday during a joint Secret Service and FBI session with the Financial Services Roundtable on cybersecurity.

O'Neill said he contacted the suspected hacker by posing as a female casino employee in an effort to entice him to come to the United States for what he thought would be a gambling outing. That way, the Secret Service could arrest him on U.S. soil, rather than go to the trouble of extraditing him from Romania.

The Secret Service worked with an American hotel and casino to create a fictitious employee, "Sarah," who had an email address and direct phone line at the hotel and her name on the hotel's online directory. The fake employee would appear real if the suspected hacker tried to check out her story. Agents even photographed a young undercover female agent with a sign saying "hi!" inside the hotel's lobby, and sent the image to the Romanian.

O'Neill said over the next several months he developed a "quasi-romantic" relationship with the suspect, at times chatting online with him at 3 a.m. while he fed his newborn baby as his wife slept in another room at home.

"People say everyone has a gift," O'Neill joked. "And mine happens to be chatting with men."

The suspect, Iulian Dolan, flew to Boston to meet the supposed casino employee. When he arrived, investigators said, he was carrying a gold necklace for her as a gift, along with three boxes of grape-flavored condoms.

He was arrested and is now serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison in Mississippi.

Monday, October 6, 2014

2 killed at explosion at Iranian nuke site ...

SOURCE: Two workers were killed in an explosion that took place at a military explosives factory southeast of Tehran, near the suspected nuclear reactor in Parchin, IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, reported Monday.

The agency quoted Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, which said a fire occurred Sunday night, killing two people. The agency did not provide additional information.

The semi-official ISNA news agency also reported that an explosion occurred at a military base near Tehran, killing two people.

“Unfortunately, two workers were killed,” the defense organization’s spokesman was quoted as saying.

The Saham opposition website reported that a huge explosion occurred at the large facility in Parchin, located 30 km. southeast of Tehran.

According to the report, the powerful explosion blew out the windows of buildings located up to 15 km. away from the base, and eyewitnesses could observe the blast from a distance.

Parchin is a controversial military base where Israel and the International Atomic Energy Agency suspect the Islamic Republic is attempting to develop a nuclear explosive device. IAEA inspectors have not been permitted to enter the site since 2005.

A statement from Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, issued a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – the architect of Tehran’s diplomacy with the big powers – was to address the UN General Assembly, said internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at Parchin.

Israel, his statement said, based its information on “highly reliable information,” without elaborating.

In May, a fire broke out in an oil storage facility in the northwestern Iranian city of Qazvin. There were conflicting reports of casualties, with state news agency IRNA reporting none and the Iranian Fars news agency reporting that there were around 50 people injured, some seriously.

Channel 2 News reported that in the past it was claimed that Qazvin hosted an “unreported nuclear site” that contained stored uranium. In January of last year, Israeli intelligence officials confirmed that an explosion damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium.

Three years ago, Iran said a massive explosion at a military base 45 km. west of Tehran killed 17 Revolutionary Guards members, including the head of the elite force’s missile program. It said the blast was caused by an accident while weapons were being moved.

Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Breaking: Secret Service director resigns ...

WASHINGTON — Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is resigning in the wake of several security breaches, according to administration officials.

The resignation came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson’s leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the agency.

A 30-year veteran of the Secret Service, Ms. Pierson was supposed to have been the one to repair the agency’s reputation after scandals that raised questions about a culture that gave rise to incidents involving drinking and prostitution during overseas trips.

But her tenure has been rocked by more serious allegations that her agents and officers have not been performing their primary job competently. Under intense questioning on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Ms. Pierson admitted that those charged with securing the White House had failed to follow numerous security protocols, allowing a man armed with a knife to penetrate deep inside the mansion.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

BREAKING: Iraqi PM says terrorist plot to attack US/Paris subway uncovered.


NEW YORK (AP) — Iraq's prime minister said Thursday his country's intelligence operation has uncovered a plot for an imminent attack on subway systems in United States and Paris.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he was told of the plot by Baghdad, and that it was the work of foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq. Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, "Yes."

Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, "No." Al-Abadi said the United States had been alerted.

He made the remarks at a meeting with journalists on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Khorasan Group terror plot exposed ... planned to blow up airliners.

WASHINGTON

By KEN DILANIAN

AP Intelligence Writer

The U.S. decision to strike the Khorasan Group to stop a possible terror attack represents a significant expansion of the largely secret war against core al-Qaida, a group President Barack Obama has proclaimed was "a shadow of its former self."

Administration officials said Tuesday they have been watching the Khorasan Group, an al-Qaida cell in Syria, for years. But Obama had resisted taking military action in Syria to avoid inadvertently helping President Bashar Assad, a leader the U.S. would like to see gone. That changed, officials said, because intelligence showed that the Khorasan Group was in the final stages of plotting attacks against the U.S. and Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up an airplane in flight.

On the same night that U.S. and Arab allies carried out more than 200 airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. on its own launched more than 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles and other ordinance against eight Khorasan Group targets near Aleppo in northwestern Syria, Pentagon officials said.

It's not clear yet whether the group's leader, identified by U.S. officials as Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed in the strikes. He is a Kuwaiti who spent time in Iran and has long been identified as a significant figure in al-Qaida.

But regardless of the impact, the need for such an operation against the Khorasan Group dealt a blow to the notion, oft-repeated by Obama administration officials, that core al-Qaida has been significantly diminished as a threat to the United States.

The Khorasan Group, after all, is made up of core al-Qaida veterans.

"There are remnants of core al-Qaida still left that are still a very potent threat," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

"What this shows is that al-Qaida has not been decimated," said Seth Jones, a counterterrorism analyst at the Rand Corp. "This is a network that spans multiple countries."

The attacks add Syria to a long list of nations in which the Obama administration has taken lethal action against al-Qaida militants, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.

The Islamic State has broken with al-Qaida, and, for all its brutality, is not believed to be plotting attacks against the West.

In contrast, the Khorasan Group is a cell of al-Qaida veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate there. U.S. intelligence officials say the group has been working with bomb makers from al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate to perfect explosives that can fool Western airport security measures, including, one official said, a bomb in a toothpaste tube.

Obama presided over a dramatic expansion of secret CIA drone strikes in Pakistan that dealt significant blows to al-Qaida's leadership, and he ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He expanded the drone campaign to Yemen and Somalia, all under a veil of secrecy.

For a time, the drone campaign seemed to have shattered al-Qaida. While Obama has been vocal about the threat from al-Qaida's affiliates, he said in his 2013 State of the Union address that "the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self."

But the shadow was growing. Even as Obama spoke, some veteran al-Qaida operatives had traveled from Pakistan to Syria, where officials say they linked up with the Nusra Front and began recruiting people from the West for attacks against the U.S. and Europe. In early 2013, the CIA began developing "targeting packages" on militants in Syria -- intelligence dossiers that could be used to target them for drone strikes.

In the end Obama opted to use the military, not the CIA, to attack the Khorasan Group, in keeping with his desire to move the CIA away from lethal drone strikes.

A senior administration official said the plan to strike the Khorasan Group "is something that has been on our radar for several months, and it is an action that we were contemplating separate and apart from" the airstrikes against Islamic State group positions in Syria.

Briefing reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. William Mayville, who directs operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Khorasan Group was nearing "the execution phase of an attack either in Europe or the (U.S.) homeland."

However, two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments, said there was no particular location or target that had come to the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies.

In a memo released in February 2013, the Justice Department disclosed that in the view of government lawyers, "an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require ... clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intelligence agencies scramble to find missing airliners before 911 anniversary.


USA TODAY: Reports that 11 commercial jetliners are missing from the main airport in Libya's capital of Tripoli are raising fears that militants could use them in terrorist attacks to mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11 next week.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, cited anonymous sources who said intelligence agencies have warned the jets could be used in attacks in North Africa and elsewhere on Sept. 11.

The date also marks the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, "We have nothing to confirm these reports about missing airliners."

A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, also said there's been no confirmation that aircraft had been stolen.

Images have surfaced online showing militants posing with the jetliners taken when the militants overran Tripoli's airport last month in a fierce battle that left much of the airport and its aircraft damaged.

In the past four months, a renegade general has battled Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi — cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi — as powerful regional militias have fought for control of the Tripoli airport. Islamist-allied militias have seized virtually all of the capital.

Moroccan military expert Abderrahmane Mekkaoui said there was "credible intelligence" that one Libyan militia "is plotting to use the planes in attacks on the (region) on the 9/11 anniversary," The Huffington Post reported, citing Al Jazeera television.

An aviation security expert said the planes, if actually seized by terrorists, would pose more of a threat to countries near Libya than the U.S. homeland.

Any stolen aircraft from Libya would unlikely penetrate post-9/11 U.S. air defense and security measures, but they could pose a threat to targets that are much closer, said Jeffrey Price, author of Practical Aviation Security and professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Airliners are required to file flight plans before entering U.S. airspace, and air-traffic monitors would be looking for aircraft matching the description of any stolen planes, Price said. An airliner could try to fly below radar to avoid detection, but the U.S. military has developed systems to detect and stop low flying threats, he said.

Price said most countries near Libya, including in Europe, do not have the same air-defense capabilities and would be more at risk.

The reports of the missing planes, which first surfaced in mid-August, likely sparked an international search for the planes by intelligence agencies, Price said. "It's hard to hide a big jet," he said.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chinese jet does a "barrel roll" over top of Navy P-8 Poseidon- Pentagon pissed.

click to enlarge 
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Friday accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting a "dangerous intercept" of a U.S. Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of China in international airspace.

At a news briefing at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, called the intercept "a deeply concerning provocation" and suggested it could set back efforts to improve relations.

Kirby said the Aug. 19 maneuvering by the Chinese jet posed a risk to the safety of the U.S. air crew, was "inconsistent with customary international law," and complicates efforts to improve military-to-military relations, which are often strained.

Kirby said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet of it at one point. He said the Chinese jet did a "barrel roll" maneuver over the top of the Poseidon at one point and also passed across the nose of the Navy plane, exposing the belly of the fighter in a way apparently designed to show that it was armed.

Kirby said it happened about 135 miles east of China's Hainan Island. In 2001 a Chinese jet collided with a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft off Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island. Washington severed military relations with China after that episode.

"The intercept was aggressive and demonstrated a lack of due regard for the safety and well-being of the U.S. and Chinese aircrews and aircraft," the Pentagon said in a statement.


Monday, August 18, 2014

DARPA reveals GXV-1 concept - is this the future of armored fighting vehicles?

DARPA:

GXV-T seeks to develop revolutionary technologies to make future armored fighting vehicles more mobile, effective and affordable

For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.

The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited Soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace. The U.S. military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA has created the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program to help overcome these challenges and disrupt the current trends in mechanized warfare. GXV-T seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries. This improved mobility and warfighting capability would enable future U.S. ground forces to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations.

“GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle—it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles,” said Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager. “Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.”

To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of GXV-T, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers' Day on Friday, September 5, 2014, at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Va. Advance registration is required through the registration website:http://www.sa-meetings.com/GXV-T. Space is limited and registration closes Friday, August 22, 2014 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time or when capacity is reached, whichever comes first. DARPA reserves the right to limit the number of attendees from any individual organization.

The DARPA Special Notice document announcing the Proposers’ Day and describing the specific capabilities sought is available at http://go.usa.gov/Edsh. For more information, please email DARPA-SN-14-53@darpa.mil.

GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:
Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50 percent
Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 percent
Increase vehicle speed by 100 percent
Access 95 percent of terrain
Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles

The GXV-T program provides the following four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives:
Radically Enhanced Mobility – Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions
Survivability through Agility – Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor
Crew Augmentation – Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits
Signature Management – Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared (IR), acoustic and electromagnetic (EM)

Technology development beyond these four examples is desired so long as it supports the program’s goals. DARPA is particularly interested in engaging nontraditional contributors to help develop leap-ahead technologies in the focus areas above, as well as other technologies that could potentially improve both the survivability and mobility of future armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015. The GXV-T program plans to pursue research, development, design and testing and evaluation of major subsystem capabilities in multiple technology areas with the goal of integrating these capabilities into future ground X-vehicle demonstrators.

Associated images posted on www.darpa.mil and video posted atwww.youtube.com/darpatv may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here: http://go.usa.gov/nYr.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sikorsky selected to build SB>1 Defiant demonstrator

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2014 — (PRNewswire) —  Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), and Boeing (NYSE: BA) have been selected to build a helicopter for the U.S. Army's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase 1 program (JMR TD), paving the way for the next generation of vertical lift aircraft.

The U.S. Army Aviation Technology Directorate (AATD) selected the Sikorsky-Boeing team to continue the development of the SB>1 Defiant, a medium-lift helicopter configured to Sikorsky's X2™ coaxial design, through flight testing. First flight for the program is expected in 2017.

"Defiant will use Sikorsky's proven X2 technology to overcome aircraft design challenges, which will be critical requirements on future vertical lift aircraft," said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky president. "The Sikorsky-Boeing team's integrated approach has created a unique blend of expertise, innovative spirit and customer commitment that are unmatched in the industry. The complementary capabilities of each team member have delivered a design that will provide the best future vertical lift solution to the U.S. Army, and the flexibility of our design makes it suited for naval applications as well. This is a major leap forward."

The Defiant aircraft will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for vertical and forward flight, a pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system.

"Our team brings leadership and new ways of thinking to aircraft development," said Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. "As the original equipment manufacturers for both the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, we bring tremendous technological breadth and depth to the customer. I believe our technical capabilities and experience in development and flight testing of complex rotorcraft systems were a key factor in the customer's decision."
To date, Sikorsky and Boeing collectively have delivered more than 3,000 helicopters to the Army in support of its challenging missions.

The JMR TD program supports the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to deliver the next generation of vertical lift aircraft with greater performance, reliability and affordability. The Defiant aircraft packages evolutionary technologies in a new, innovative and affordable design that flies faster, farther and with more payload.
The JMR TD Program offers Sikorsky and Boeing the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Government in demonstrating the maturity of advanced and enabling future vertical lift technologies. Sikorsky and Boeing formed their JMR team inJanuary 2013, and each company has invested significantly in the program. 

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based inHartford, Connecticut, provides high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $33 billion business with 56,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning opportunities for development and potential production of helicopters. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, availability of funding and in the type and number of aircraft required; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in filings submitted by UTC and by Boeing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Distribution Statement A: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BREAKING: US ARMY General killed by Afghan soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States Army major general was killed on Tuesday by an Afghan soldier, shot at close range at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, an official of the American-led coalition and Afghan media reported Tuesday. The officer was the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities in the Afghanistan war.

The coalition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and would not release the name of the major general, said an unspecified number of other service members of the American-led coalition and Afghan soldiers, including a senior Afghan commander were also shot. Their conditions were not known.

Other details of the shooting were sketchy, and the coalition official would only confirm that “an incident” had taken place at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

Tensions at the camp ran high in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which took place around noon, and foreign troops appeared to be on edge, fearful of another attack.

Massoud Hossaini, a photographer for The Associated Press, said that he arrived at the camp’s gate ahead of other journalists, and just as coalition armored vehicles were pulling out of the compound. A coalition soldier manning the roof-mounted gun on one of the vehicles shouted for Mr. Hossaini to “get away,” and then fired an apparent warning shot.

“I don’t know what he fired. It was fired near our car,” he said, adding that he left the scene straight away.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that a “few people were wounded” in the shooting, and that they had been immediately evacuated to a hospital. It described the attacker as “wearing Afghan National Army uniform,” which has long been a standard description offered after Afghan troops attack their foreign counterparts.

Other Afghan and coalition officials said they believed the shooter was an Afghan soldier. The coalition, in its brief statement, said the incident had involved “local Afghan and ISAF troops,” using the initials for the International Security Assistance Force, the formal name of the NATO-led coalition.

Sher Alam, an Afghan soldier guarding the entrance to the academy, located at Camp Qargha, said that senior Afghan and coalition officers had been meeting there on Tuesday, and that reports from inside the camp indicated that a number of the foreign officers were shot in the attack. He said that soon after the shooting, coalition helicopters landed inside the academy to evacuate the victims.

Tuesday’s shooting was the first so-called insider attack in Afghanistan in months. Such attacks, in which Afghan troops open fire on unsuspecting coalition forces, at one point posed a serious challenge to the war effort, sowing distrust and threatening to upend the American-led training mission that is vital to the long-term strategy for keeping the Taliban at bay.

Though the number of attacks has dropped sharply since 2012, when dozens occurred, they remain a persistent threat for coalition troops serving alongside Afghan forces.

Afghan and American commanders have said that they believe most of the insider attacks that have taken place were the work of ordinary soldiers who had grown alienated and angry over the continued presence of foreign troops here, and not carried out by Taliban fighters planted in Afghan units.

The Taliban, which often takes credit for insider attacks, had no immediate comment on Tuesday. Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents, said he was still trying to collect information about the incident.

But, he added, the Taliban had many people inside the camp, and that one of their loyalists could have been responsible for the attack.

Friday, July 25, 2014

US intel says Russia shelling Ukraine

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence that Russia is firing artillery at Ukrainian military positions from inside Russian territory, a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday.
Russia has boosted its support for Ukrainian separatists since a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile July 17 over territory controlled by the separatists, U.S. officials said, including sending additional rocket launchers into the conflict zone.
“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple-rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Some of the information, Harf said, is based on “human intelligence,” meaning information supplied by sources on the ground rather than intercepted communications or images from satellites.
When two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said they had been hit by missiles fired from inside Russia. U.S. intelligence analysts have not been able to determine how the jets were downed.
But fire from Russian soil would mark an escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for the separatist forces. Putin has refused to back down despite increased sanctions against Russian officials and threats of more to come. Russia has played down its military support for the separatists.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has agreed to send teams of observers to two posts on the 1,200-mile Russia-Ukraine border. Russia, which sits on the OSCE’s permanent council, refused to give observers access to other parts of the border.
“I find it deeply disappointing that Russia was only willing to accept international observers at two small checkpoints on its border with Ukraine,” Daniel Baer, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, said in a statement.
“This will not provide any real accounting of Russia’s massive flow of illegal arms, funding and personnel,” Baer said.
A Russian military base near the city of Rostov-on-Don, about 100 miles east of the Ukrainian border, has been a staging area for multiple-rocket launchers, such as the truck-mounted system that U.S. officials believe fired an SA-11 radar-guided missile at the Malaysian airliner, said a senior Obama administration official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.
In the days after the airliner crashed, U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian military sent a column of more than 100 vehicles into eastern Ukraine, including tanks, artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Wednesday.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seperatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov claims he shot down Malaysian 777

Shortly before reports surfaced that a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 had crashed in eastern Ukraine, a separatist leader boasted on social media that his men had shot down an aircraft.
In a post on his VKontakte page, Russia's largest social media site, separatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, wrote:  "In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26. It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured." 
The AN-26 is a Soviet-built twin-engine transport plane used by the Ukrainian military. Torez is a small city of 80,000 located some 40 kilometers east of Donetsk.  Included in the post were two videos that showed a rising plume of black smoke in the distance.
The claim was posted at 5:50 pm Moscow time, shortly before reports surfaced that the Malaysian civilian aircraft, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in eastern Ukraine in the same area near the Russian border.  
A Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser, Anton Herashchenko, claimed the plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile.
Andrei Purgin, the self-styled first vice premier of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic, told Interfax the separatists do not have weapons that could shoot down a plane flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters. 
Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities have denied shooting down the Malaysian passenger aircraft.

BREAKING: Malaysian jet crashes - possibly shot down over Ukraine.

Interfax news agency reports that a Malaysian jet has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. The Malaysian Airlines passenger plane had 295 people on board and was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, wrote on Facebook that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher over the country's east, the Associated Press reports.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed it had lost contact with flight MH17 and that its last position was over Ukrainian airspace.
A Russian aviation industry source told Reuters that the plane did not enter Russian airspace when expected.
Ukraine's east has seen heavy fighting between the country's military and separatists in recent days. Earlier on Thursday, the Ukrainian military claimed Russian jets had shot down a Ukrainian warplane late Wednesday night.
More from the Associated Press:
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday. The Buk missile system can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."
The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels in recent days.
On Wednesday evening, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said the pilot of the Sukhoi-25 jet hit by the air-to-air missile was forced to bail after his jet was shot down.
Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile, but added the pilot was unscathed and managed to land his plane safely
Moscow denies Western charges that is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest in its neighbor. The Russian Defense Ministry couldn't be reached for comment Thursday about the Ukrainian jet and Russia's foreign ministry didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.
Earlier this week, Ukraine said a military transport plane was shot down Monday by a missile fired from Russian territory.
The rebels are known to possess portable anti-aircraft rocket launchers, but Ukrainian officials say that kind of weapon would have been unable to reach Monday's plane at the altitude at which it was flying Monday. Aviation experts, however, have questioned whether the stricken transport plane was flying at the altitude Ukrainian officials had claimed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

US increasing security in overseas airports due to non-metallic bomb threat


(Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with direct flights into the country and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.

European airports would be taking the extra precautions, the U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The Department of Homeland Security said "enhanced security measures" would be implemented in the next few days at "certain overseas airports with direct flights into the United States."

It did not specify which airports or what countries would be affected, nor did it say what triggered the extra precautions.

"We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Earlier, law enforcement and security officials told Reuters the United States and European authorities were discussing measures that could include extra scrutiny of U.S.-bound passengers' electronics and footwear, and installation of additional bomb-detection machines.

Bombmakers from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are believed to be working together to try to develop explosives that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems, U.S. national security sources said.

The main concern is that militant groups could try to blow up U.S.- or Europe-bound planes by concealing bombs on foreign fighters carrying Western passports who spent time with Islamist rebel factions in the region, the sources said.

AQAP has a track record of plotting such attacks. It was behind a 2009 attempt by a militant with a bomb hidden in his underwear to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.

U.S. officials believe Nusra and AQAP operatives have carried out operational testing of new bomb designs in Syria, where Nusra is one of the main Islamist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a national security source said.

The "stealth" explosives the bombmakers are trying to design include non-metallic bombs, ABC News reported.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nanoengineered graphene to hide future strike aircraft



by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

6/18/2014 - RUSTON, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command and Louisiana Tech University recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement which will allow the two to work together to develop new defensive systems for the bomber fleet based on nanoengineered graphene.

"Graphene is a relatively new form of carbon, first synthesized in 2004. It's a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal pattern--like chicken wire," said Air Force Deputy to the Chief Scientist Lt. Col. Dennis Rand. "Because it's only one atom deep, graphene is essentially a two-dimensional material, and as a result it has unusual properties relating to things like heat conduction, electrical conductivity, and optical density."

Currently, aircraft use little metal strips, called chaff, as a defensive system to help prevent the aircraft from being targeted by anti-air defense systems.

"It is our hope that chaff based on graphene will provide improved defense against IR and RF-based systems," Rand said.

The CRADA covers the first stages of a project to develop this system, and subsequent phases will be covered by amendments to the agreement, Rand said. However, the hope is that this initial agreement between AFGSC and Tech will lead to other research and development projects, said Air Force Global Strike Command Chief Scientist, Dr. Christopher Yeaw.

"The most important milestone we're trying achieve is the first formal linking of La Tech's strong technical expertise with AFGSC's compelling mission to deter would-be aggressors and assure allies and partners," Yeaw said. "This is a natural marriage, and we hope that this first CRADA will prime the pump for wider cooperation, bolstering the local capability to tackle these types of mission challenges."

"Louisiana Tech University has a wide range of cybersecurity and electronics protection research projects and technologies that may be of interest to AFGSC," Dr. Stan Napper, Vice President for Research and Development at Louisiana Tech University, said. "Through the new CRADA, we hope to contribute more significantly to scientific and technical developments that will assist AFGSC in achieving its mission."

Yeaw said the CRADA is a new chapter in the Command's relationship with Louisiana Tech. While the partnership goes back to the establishment of AFGSC in 2009, "This is really the first formalization of that cooperation," he said.

"The importance of this type of partnership cannot be overstated. Both institutions have compelling missions, and they hold common interests not just in research and development of innovative technologies for eventual incorporation into the Command's portfolio of assets, but also in the development of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals, some if whom we hope might consider working for the Air Force after they graduate," Yeaw said. "The development of STEM professionals coming out of La Tech is strengthened by affording students meaningful and potentially impactful research and development projects."

Yeaw said a partnership with Tech will benefit more than just bombers and missiles.

"I'm also thinking of secure and reliable communications, security infrastructure surrounding our core assets, and even energy management at our bases, among other things," he said.

Even if the ultimate goal of producing an operational defensive system is not realized, Rand said the research conducted towards that end will add to the Air Force's overall body of scientific knowledge.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Special Forces capture Benghazi attack ringleader in secret Libyan raid.


THE WASHINGTON POST: U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assaults has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.

The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.

Abu Khattala’s apprehension is a major victory for the Obama administration, which has been criticized for having failed so far to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attacks to justice.

Monday, June 16, 2014

FAST team deployed to protect US embassy in Baghdad.

The Pentagon has deployed about 100 troops — including more than 50 Marines attached to a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq, to help protect diplomatic personnel and property.

Meanwhile, President Obama is considering miltiary action against the Islamic insurgents, who have seized vast swaths of northern Iraq and are moving south toward the capital. Several U.S. warships have moved into the Persian Gulf, where they provide “the commander in chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, on Monday.

The arrival of FAST Marines and a contingent of U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq on Sunday marked the first operational deployment of U.S. troops there since the withdrawal of combat forces in December 2011. Pentagon officials declined to identify the Army unit deployed to Baghdad. The Marine platoon is based out of nearby Bahrain, and is tasked with protecting American personnel and property, said Master Sgt. William Price, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

FAST Marines are the traditional go-to assets when U.S. embassies require reinforcement in times of crises. The Marine Corps has two more forward-deployed FAST elements in Spain and Japan.

“This is a temporary thing,” Kirby said Monday. “There is no intention that this is any kind of permanent plus up. They are there temporarily, to assist with some relocation of some personnel who work at the embassy. They are not engaged in ferrying to and fro anyone. No military aircraft … is being used to ferry these folks.”

On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde, part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, to enter the Persian Gulf. It joins the carrier George H. W. Bush, which Hagel ordered to enter the Gulf on Saturday.

The carrier brings F/A-18 Super Hornets that could provide air strike capability over Iraq. The Mesa Verde carries more Marines, all members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft that will be in standby in case the State Department needs support to completely evacuate the embassy in Baghdad.

Also entering the Persian Gulf Saturday was the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer Truxtun. The ships carry Tomahawk missiles that could reach inland Iraq.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Obama may authorize military action against Sunni Islamic militants in Iraq

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama refused to rule out U.S. action in Iraq against Sunni Islamist militants who have surged out of the north to threaten Baghdad, threatening to divide the country and establish their own jihadist state.
Hours after ethnic Kurdish forces took advantage of the chaos to take control of the oil hub of Kirkuk as the forces of the Shi'ite-led government abandoned their posts, Obama was asked if he might order drone strikes or other action to halt the insurgency that has seized much of northern Iraq this week.
"I don't rule anything out," he told reporters, saying he was looking at all options to help the elected leaders who took full control of Iraq when the U.S. occupation ended in 2011.

He added that the United States had an interest in denying a foothold to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and that Washington was prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Five Americans killed in friendly fire incident by B-1B bomber






KABUL, Afghanistan Five American service members were killed in southern Afghanistan when a B-1B bomber was called in by a SOF unit that had come under intense Taliban attack.

The five were killed along with an Afghan soldier in Zabul province, said the province’s Police Chief Ghulam Sakhi Roghliwanai.“But the airstrike mistakenly bombed their own friends too,” he said.The alliance did not offer additional details.

According to sources, the troops were conducting a security sweep. Such operations have been stepped up ahead of the Afghanistan’s presidential runoff election, which will take place on Saturday.

The patrol came under heavy fire from enemy forces and an airstrike was called in. "That’s when the casualties occurred, a NATO statement said — but then it added this line: Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved.”

Roghliwanai said the troops had completed their joint military sweep when they came under rocket fire from Taliban militants.

A U.S. defense department spokesman said early Tuesday morning he didn’t have a comment about the incident.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Senator Graham calls for hearing on Taliban prisoner swap.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called on Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to immediately hold hearings on the prisoner swap that secured the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Graham questioned President Obama’s decision to release the “Taliban Dream Team” from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in exchange for Bergdahl, a 28-year-old Army sergeant who spent five years as a prisoner of the militant Haqqani network.


“While I appreciate an American was released from captivity, this decision by the Obama administration has serious implications for our future national security,” Graham wrote.

He predicted the militants released from American custody, including the chief of staff of the Taliban army and Taliban’s deputy minister of intelligence, will return to the fight “surely as night follows day.”

“I fear President Obama’s decision will inevitably lead to more Americans being kidnapped and held hostage throughout the world,” he said.

Graham questioned why the administration did not notify Congress 30 days in advance of the release of prisoners from Guantánamo as required the by the National Defense Authorization Act.

“We need a thorough review of this decision, and I urge you to hold a hearing on this matter as it has profound implications for national security,” he said.

Graham faces a crowed field of challengers in the South Carolina Republican primary scheduled for June 10.

Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services panel, and Rep. Buck McKeon (Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement over the weekend calling for a careful examination of the deal that secured Bergdahl’s release.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

White House accidentally leaks cover of top CIA officer in Afghanistan.

USA TODAY: The White House accidentally blew the cover of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan Saturday, when his name and title were released in an e-mail sent to reporters who traveled with President Obama on his surprise visit to Bagram Air Field.

The CIA officer's identity was released as part of a list of U.S. officials who were attending a military briefing with Obama at Bagram, theWashington Post reported.

The individual was identified as "Chief of Station," a term used for the top spy in a country, according to the Post.

The White House recognized the error and issued a revised list that did not include the official's name.

The list was sent in an e-mail to reporters traveling with Obama to Afghanistan, and then further distributed in a "pool report" to reporters not taking part in the trip, including members of foreign press agencies. In all, more than 6,000 people were sent the initial pool report that included the CIA officer's identity.

The Post reported that Scott Wilson, the newspaper's White House bureau chief, filed the pool report. Wilson copied the list contained in the e-mail sent from White House press officials.

"Wilson said that after the report was distributed, he noticed the unusual reference to the station chief and asked White House press officials in Afghanistan whether they had intended to include that name," the Post reported. "Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organizations. But senior White House officials realized the mistake and scrambled to issue an updated list without the CIA officer's name."

The CIA and the White House have not officially commented on the incident and it remains unclear how the exposure will affect the CIA officer's ability to continue in his in role in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

State Department classified e-mail says White House warned You Tube about anti-Muslim video



ABC: A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.

The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is “Update on Response to actions – Libya.” The was written hours before the attack was over.

Issa has asked the White House to declassify and release the document. In the meantime he has inserted a sentence from the e-mail in the Congressional Record.

“White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video,” the e-mail reads, according to Issa.

Issa’s full statement can be read here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

UPDATED: Video: Search underway for man who fell out of V-22 Osprey


UPDATE: ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. — The body of a Marine who fell from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft Monday evening during a training flight near White Lake was recovered Tuesday evening after an exhaustive search by more than 1,000 military and law enforcement personnel.

The name of the man, who served in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, will not be released until 24 hours aftr relatives are notified.

"I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine," said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. "I also want to extend my thanks to the community for their tireless efforts throughout this search. Without your cooperation, we could not have brought closure to this phase of such an unfortunate incident."

Military service members and authorities from Bladen and Sampson counties slogged through marshy forests Tuesday in search of the man, whose body was found shortly before 6 p.m. on a blueberry farm in the northeastern part of Bladen County.

The accident occurred about 6:30 p.m. Monday some 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, where the Osprey is based, on a return flight from Elizabethtown.

Marine Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said the Marine, who was a crew chief with his unit, was accounted for when the Osprey left the airport in Elizabethtown, but he disappeared from the back of the aircraft sometime during the 35-minute flight.

Cargo doors are usually open throughout training flights, officials said.

"It was just some routine operation we do every day with hundreds of aircraft throughout eastern North Carolina," Marine spokesman First Sgt. Hector Alejandro said.

Crews searched for the Marine late Monday and returned at daybreak Tuesday.

Phoebe Campbell, a junior at North Carolina State University who recently returned home for the summer, said she was surprised to see a military command post across the street from her house.

"The roads have been blocked off. We can’t get (my sisters) to school or work," Campbell said. "The helicopters have been loud through the night."

Hundreds of Marines were bused in to assist with the ground search in the dense woods and swamps, and helicopters and Ospreys from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and search-and-rescue helicopters from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point were scanning the area from the air, Marine spokesman Michael Barton said.

"Our primary goal is to make sure we find this missing Marine," Alejandro said during the search. "We’re prepared to stay here as long as it takes."

The Osprey was flying at varying speeds and altitudes while returning to New River, Harshberger said, so investigators reviewed the flight data to help narrow the search area to 5 to 10 square miles.

Investigators also checked to see if cellphone towers in the area picked up a signal from the missing Marine's phone, Alejandro said.

"This is something that affects all of us. Anytime a Marine is missing, we’re worried," he said.

Not many details at this time but according to news reports from WECT - crews are combing through wooded areas in Bladen County, searching for a United States Marine who reportedly fell from an Osprey aircraft during a nighttime exercise.

The V-22 Osprey is made at the Bell/Boeing Textron plant in Amarillo, Texas. According to news reports the Osprey was attached to the Marine Air Station, New River, Jacksonville NC.

The Air Station was the first Marine Corps base with the new MV-22 Osprey. It has the ability to fly like a plane, and take off and land like a helicopter. The MV-22 has replaced all of the CH-46E Sea Knightson the east coast with the exception of HMX-1 and HMM-774. Currently there are six operational Osprey squadrons, VMM-261, VMM-263, VMM-162, VMM-365, VMM-264, and VMM-266.

TIME: 8:11 PM

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Iran publishes RQ-170, drone mock ups and other mil hardware photos online.

SOURCE

click to enlarge

Topside original crashed RQ-170 

Original crashed  RQ-170 


original crashed RQ-170 and mock-up with sub-scale model in background 

full scale mock-up 

full scale mock up 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Russia bars US from using Russian rocket Engines

source
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will bar the United States from using Russian-made rocket engines for military satellite launches, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday, retaliating for sanctions on high-tech equipment which Washington has imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

He also said Russia would reject a U.S. request to prolong the use of the International Space Station beyond 2020.

Russia pledged to respond in kind when the United States said last month that it would deny export licenses for any high-technology items that could aid Russian military capabilities and would revoke existing licenses.

Moscow's measures would affect MK-33 and RD-180 engines which Russia supplies to the United States, Rogozin told a news conference. "We are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites," he said.

Washington wants to keep the International Space Station, a $100 billion orbital outpost that is a project of 15 nations and a showcase of Russian-U.S. cooperation, flying until at least 2024, four years beyond the previous target.

In spite of differences on foreign policy and security matters, Washington and Moscow have cooperated extensively on space exploration. Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only way astronauts can get to the space station, whose crews include both Americans and Russians.

Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass.

He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska,; Editing by Steve Gutterman and David Stamp)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WFAA: Amarillo Interceptors and the Flying Dorito




WFAA: AMARILLO — BYRON HARRIS:

What's that in the sky over Amarillo?

"It was the strangest thing I've seen, as far as aviation," said Dean Musket, part of the motley crew of airplane buffs who sits down at an airport restaurant in this West Texas city and looks up.

"They are aviation junkies," waitress Erin Williamson said. "They love it."

And they are seeing things you can't see anywhere else.

Military aircraft cruise over Amarillo like sharks looking for baitfish.

"If you're flying east, west, or vice-versa across the United States, you're probably flying over Amarillo," Steve Douglass said.

A group that might be called the "interceptor club" watches everything military that flies over. But back in March, they spotted three craft they'd never seen before, about six miles up.

"We had captured something completely unique," Douglass said.

It was trianuglar, like a stealth bomber... but not a stealth bomber.

"The back edge was smooth like a Dorito," Douglass said. "It wasn't jagged."

A few weeks later, the same shape was snapped by another spotter in Kansas.

"This is when we first saw it flying in formation from the backside of the airport," said Douglass, who is something between an aircraft enthusiast and a fanatic.

He's sitting in what he jokingly calls "Kitch Com," a nook of his kitchen crammed with electronic gear to monitor aircraft traffic. He's got a special antenna to pick up satellite transmissions.

"On this side, it's my bunker, and on this side, it's my kitchen, which is microwave ovens and food," he said.

On the day the mystery planes were spotted, Douglass recorded air traffic controllers giving the aircraft a clear lane through the sky. The Air Force confirms nothing.

Now Douglass suspects the triangular shape may be a stealth transport. "You could put a dozen Navy SEALs in, fly them over Afghanistan or Pakistan or whatever-stan, and have them inserted in some way without an adversary being any the wiser," he said.

At the Old English Field House Diner, Erin Williamson has become part of the group.

"They're out here four or five days a week," she said. "They watch the planes; they take pictures; they'll let us know if there's an important or cool looking plane coming in."

The patches on the wall show all the military pilots who've stopped for lunch, along with a movie star or two.

On this day, six Air Force trainers landed; a special ops plane from a nearby airbase buzzed; three air force tankers passed at six miles high.

But no flying Dorito.



LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin