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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

US HURRICANE HUNTER

While everybody run away from the hurricane.
This guys go through it.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Attack Helicopter: Mil Mi-35

Don,t have much money, but need efficient attack helicopter.
Here one the attack helicopter for you.






Sunday, October 28, 2012

Satellite pictures suggest Sudanese weapons factory hit by air strike

US monitoring group says images are consistent with attack from air as Khartoum accuses Israel over Yarmouk bombing

Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan
The Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan seen in a satellite image made on 12 October, prior to the alleged attack. Photograph: AP


Satellite images of the aftermath of an explosion at a Sudanese weapons factory this past week suggest the site was hit in an air strike, a US monitoring group said Saturday.
The Sudanese government has accused Israel of bombing its Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, killing two people and leaving the factory in ruins.
The images released by the Satellite Sentinel Project to the Associated Press on Saturday showed six 52-foot wide craters near the epicenter of Wednesday's explosion at the compound.
Military experts consulted by the project found the craters to be "consistent with large impact craters created by air-delivered munitions", Satellite Sentinel Project spokesman Jonathan Hutson said.
The target may have been around 40 shipping containers seen at the site in earlier images. The group said the craters center on the area where the containers had been stacked.
Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied striking the site. Instead, they accused Sudan of playing a role in an Iranian-backed network of arms shipments to Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel believes Sudan is a key transit point in the circuitous route that weapons take to the Islamic militant groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
Sudan was a major hub for al-Qaida militants and remains a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers. Israeli officials believe arms that originate in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas go through Sudan before crossing Egypt's lawless Sinai desert and into Gaza through underground tunnels.
The Satellite Sentinel Project is a partnership between the Enough Project, a Washington-based anti-genocide advocacy group and DigitalGlobe, which operates three commercial satellites and provides geospatial analysis.
The project was founded last year with support from actor George Clooney, and in the past has used satellite images to monitor the destruction of villages by Sudanese troops in the country's multiple war zones.
Opened in 1996, Yarmouk is one of two known state-owned weapons manufacturing plants in the Sudanese capital. Sudan prided itself in having a way to produce its own ammunition and weapons despite United Nations and US sanctions.
The satellite images indicate that the Yarmouk facility includes an oil storage facility, a military depot and an ammunition plant.
The monitoring group said the images indicate that the blast "destroyed two buildings and heavily damaged at least 21 others", adding that there was no indication of fire damage at the fuel depot inside the military complex.
The group said it could not be certain the containers, seen in images taken 12 October, were still there when explosion took place. But the effects of the blast suggested a "highly volatile cargo" was at the epicenter of the explosion.
"If the explosions resulted from a rocket or missile attack against material stored in the shipping containers, then it was an effective surgical strike that totally destroyed any container" that was at the location, the project said.
Yarmouk is located in a densely populated residential area of the city approximately 11km southwest of the Khartoum international airport.
Wednesday's explosion sent exploding ammunition flying into homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the factory, causing panic among residents. Sudanese officials said some people suffered from smoke inhalation.
A man who lives near the factory said that from inside their house, he and his brother heard a load roar of what they believed was a plane just before the boom of the explosion sounded from the factory.
In the aftermath of Wednesday's explosion, Sudanese officials said the government has the right to respond to what the information minister said was a "flagrant attack" by Israel on Sudan's sovereignty and right to strengthen its military capabilities.
In a Friday speech marking Eid al Adha, Islam's biggest holiday, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir called Israel "short-sighted," according to comments published by the Egyptian state-owned paper Al Ahram. The president likened the incident to the 1998 bombing by American cruise missiles of a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory suspected of links to al-Qaida.
Some Israeli commentators suggested that if Israel did indeed carry out an airstrike causing Wednesday's blast, it might have been a trial run of sorts for an operation in Iran. Both countries are roughly 1,000 miles (1,600km) away from Israel, and an air operation would require careful planning and in-flight refueling.

Sudan claims Israeli jets blew up arms factory

Khartoum says four planes bombed the Yarmouk facility, sending exploding munitions into nearby residential areas

A huge fire engulfs the Yarmouk ammunition factory, Sudan
A huge fire engulfs the Yarmouk ammunition factory, near Khartoum – the result of an Israeli air strike, says Sudan. Photograph: Reuters


Sudan has that Israeli air strikes caused an explosion and fire at a military factory south of the capital, Khartoum, killing two people.
The minister of information, Ahmed Belal Osman, told reporters that four aircraft hit the Yarmouk complex, setting off a huge blast that rocked the capital before dawn. "Four planes coming from the east bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex," he said. "They used sophisticated technology." He didn't elaborate further.
Belal referred to a 2009 attack on an arms convoy in the Red Sea province in eastern Sudan, which his government also blamed on Israel. "We are now certain that this flagrant attack was authorised by the same state of Israel. The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty," Belal said.
He said his country has the right to respond and may take the issue to the UN security council. Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment.
At the same news conference, military spokesman Sawarmy Khaled said two people were killed and another was seriously injured in the blast. Earlier, officials said some people suffered from smoke inhalation.
The powerful blast at the complex sent exploding ammunition flying through the air, causing panic among residents.
Abdelgadir Mohammed, 31, who lives near the factory, said a loud roar of what they believed was a plane got him and his brother out of their house around midnight to investigate. "At first we thought it was more than one plane. Then we thought it was a plane crashing because of how sharp the sound was. Then we saw a flash of light, and after it came a really loud sound. It was an explosion."
Mohammed said the explosion caused panic among the residents of this heavily populated low-income neighbourhood. Many fled to open spaces, fearing their homes were collapsing. He said ammunition was flying out of the factory into the air and falling inside homes.
"It was a double whammy, the explosion at the factory and then the ammunition flying into the neighbourhood. The ground shook. Some homes were badly damaged," he said. "The walls of our home cracked, so we left our house to sleep elsewhere. When we came back this morning, our beds and furniture were covered in ashes."
Mohammed said an artillery shell fell into a neighbour's home, and a security team had to come to remove it.
Thick smoke blackened the sky over the complex, and firefighters fought the blaze for hours.
Sudanese activists on social media websites criticised the government for placing a factory with such large quantities of ammunition in a residential area.

DCNS Anticipates Future Applications with Its New SMX 26 Submarine Concept-ship

Article from http://www.defpro.com/


An artist rendeing of the SMX 26 submarine concept-ship. (Image: DCNS)

At this year’s Euronaval show, DCNS is unveiling its new concept-ship, SMX 26, a small submarine designed for operation in very shallow waters, in littoral zones not usually accessible for conventional submarine operations. 

SMX 26 can remain on the sea bed for long periods, continuously monitoring its environment, before attacking its target with the appropriate assets. 

Its shape ensures precise, safe progress in very shallow waters, enabling operation in water less than 15 m deep. Its two shaft-lines and its four steerable and retractable azimuth thrusters give the SMX 26 extreme manoeuvrability and the ability to remain in a stabilized position near the bottom or just under the surface in swell. 

The SMX 26’s capacity for long discreet surveillance is also noteworthy. It is capable of ‘landing’ very quickly on all types of sea bed thanks to a extendable wheeled ‘undercarriage’ system, and lurking on the bottom, deploying hoses to the surface for air and power. Its embedded and deployed sensors maintain a complete watch above and below the surface. 

The SMX 26 can take rapid and effective action, including the deployment of six special forces divers at depth or at the surface for catching targets ‘in the act’. It also has two mast-mounted weapon systems: a 20 mm cannon for policing capability and missile launch container for anti-aircraft self-defence. Its main offensive armament comprises two heavyweight torpedoes and eight lightweight torpedoes with heavy warheads. 

U.S. Expands Secretive Drone Base for African Shadow War

This article from http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/

An Air Force Predator drone in New Mexico in 2010. Photo: Air Force
An Air Force Predator drone in New Mexico in 2010. Photo: Air Force


The Pentagon’s secretive drone and commando base in the Horn of Africa is getting a lot bigger and a lot busier as the U.S. doubles down on its shadowy campaign of air strikes, robot surveillance and Special Operation Forces raids in the terror havens of Yemen and Somalia.
Camp Lemonnier, originally a French colonial outpost in Djibouti, a tiny, impoverished nation just north of Somalia, has been the epicenter of America’s Indian Ocean shadow war since just after 9/11. What was once little more than a run-down compound adjacent to Djibouti city’s single-runway international airport is now a sprawling complex of hangars and air-conditioned buildings housing eight Predator drones andeight F-15E fighter-bombers plus other warplanes, as well as around 300 Special Operations Forces and more than 2,000 other U.S. troops and civilians.
According to an investigation by The Washington Post, the Pentagon is spending $1.4 billion to expand the base’s airplane parking and living facilities. The extra housing could accommodate another 800 commandos, the Post reports. The military is also adding new lighting to a emergency landing strip a few miles from Camp Lemonnier — an urgent precaution as more and more planes and drones pack onto the main base’s sole runway.
The Djibouti base is just one of a constellation of hush-hush U.S. drone, commando or intelligence facilities in East Africa. Others are located in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the island nation of the Seychelles. But “those operations pale in comparison to what is unfolding in Djibouti,” the Post’s Craig Whitlock notes.
As previously reported by Danger Room, the scale and intensity of covert U.S. operations in Djibouti has increased steadily since 2001. Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos and other Special Operations Forces stage from Djibouti on surveillance infiltrations, counter-terrorism raids, hostage rescues and pirate take-downs. And those are just the operations we know about.
The CIA’s armed Predator drones operated from Camp Lemonnier as early as 2002. In November of that year, an Agency Predator crew, following tips from the NSA, tracked al-Qaida operative Qaed Salim Sinan Al Harethi, one of the men who had organized the October 2000 attack on the U.S. Navy destroyerCole, to a car in Yemen. The drone launched a single Hellfire missile, killing Al Harethi and several other men.
Drones came and went at Camp Lemonnier on a temporary basis between 2002 and 2010, joining a little-mentioned force of F-15 fighter-bombers deployed to the desert base for high-speed bombing runs over Yemen. In 2007 a Predator apparently flying from Djibouti struck a convoy near the southern Somali town of Ras Kamboni, killing Aden Hashi Farah, one of Somalia’s top al-Qaida operatives.
In 2010, the Pentagon made the drone presence at Lemonnier full-time, with eight Predators permanently assigned. In September last year, a Djibouti-based Predator took out Anwar Al Awlaki, an American-born cleric and top al-Qaida member.
As the pace of drone and other warplane flights increased, so too did the number of flying accidents. A Special Operations Command U-28 spy plane crashed in February, killing four airmen. The Post details five Predator crashes at or near Lemonnier since January 2011. Besides providing evidence of a ramp-up in the U.S. shadow war, the crashes represent a window into the little-discussed methods of America’s commando forces. One Air Force drone accident report from last year mentions a commando officer, identified only as “Frog,” whose job it was to alert the Air Force crews to launch their drones on covert missions.
“Who is Frog?” one investigator asked, according to a transcript obtained by the Post. “He’s a Pred guy,” an airman responded. “I actually don’t know his last name.”
That level of secrecy is typical of Pentagon activities in Djibouti. Thanks to the Post’s excellent reporting, we now know just a tiny bit more about America’s expanding shadow war in East Africa.

Monday, October 22, 2012

India and Pakistan Missile Flexing: Cruising Towards Regional Instability


The Agni-V is based on the Agni-III, shown here during its fourth test flight. (Photo: DRDO)

Missile testing is currently at an all time high in South Asia. The Indian Navy’s successful test of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile on 6 October 2012, was the third missile test this month with at least another test (the indigenously built Nirbhay cruise missile) expected in October. The flurry of missile tests in the last few months conducted by both India and Pakistan indicates a competition of one-upmanship that may have negative consequences for strategic stability in the region. In this context, it is important to ascertain what kinds of danger are posed by the testing of such strategic and non-strategic missiles. Can persistent missile testing in the region contain the potential to destabilise South Asian strategic stability? 

MISSILES TESTED 

The year 2012 has reportedly seen India acquire ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) and SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) capacity with the successful testing of the Agni V and the Sagarika/K-15. The Agni V’s declared range of 5000 kms though does not technically qualify it to be an ICBM. Nevertheless, Pakistan and China have not been silent spectators. Pakistan’s response to the Agni V was the intermediate range ballistic missile Shaheen 1A. But the more recent test of the nuclear capable Hatf-VII Babur stealth cruise missile is a more worrying development from the Indian perspective. The Hatf-VII not only possesses the capacity to penetrate advanced air defence systems and ballistic missile defence systems but its range of 700kms also makes this low flying terrain hugging stealth missile a major threat to a large part of North India.

The Indian response to the challenge laid down by the Hatf-VII has been the BrahMos cruise missile that has been jointly developed by the Engineering Research and Production Association of Russia with the Indian DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation). The latest version of the BrahMos tested this week was an anti ship missile that flies at a speed of Mach 2.8 and is designed to hit all classes of warships. The Tribune reports that the Talwar class frigate INS Teg, from which the test was conducted has already been armed with this type of missile and two other frigates from the same class – INS Tarkash and INS Trikand shall also be armed with the missile in vertical launch mode.

Meanwhile, according to DRDO Director General, V.K.Saraswat, the turbo jet powered 1000km range subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay is also ready to be tested this month. This missile shall reportedly possess loitering capability, making it possible to change its target after being fired.

RECENT MISSILE TESTS IN SOUTH ASIA (SINCE AGNI V)*

• 19 April 
- Missile: Agni V
- Type: ICBM (3-10 MIRV)
- Range: 5000km + (Chinese dispute, 8000km) 
- Payload: 1500kg
- Nuclear: Yes

• 25 April 
- Missile: Shaheen IA
- Type: IRBM
- Range: 2500-3000km (estd) (officially not released)
- Payload: 200-300kg (Nuclear Warhead), 500-600kg (Conventional) 
- Nuclear: Yes

• 25 August 
- Missile: Prithvi II
- Type: SRBM (user trial by Army)
- Range: 5000km + (Chinese dispute, 8000km) 
- Payload: 500kg (Nuclear and Conventional)
- Nuclear: Yes

• 17 September
- Missile: Hatf VII Babur
- Type: Cruise Missile (Stealth)
- Range: 700km
- Payload: 450kg (Nuclear and Conventional)
- Nuclear: Yes

• 19 September
- Missile: Agni IV
- Type: IRBM
- Range: 4000km
- Payload: 1 Tonne Nuclear Warhead
- Nuclear: Yes

• 21 September
- Missile: Agni III
- Type: IRBM
- Range: 3000km
- Payload: 1.5 Tonnes (Nuclear and Conventional)
- Nuclear: Yes

• 4 October 
- Missile: Prithvi II (User trial by the Army)
- Type: SRBM
- Range: 350km
- Payload: 500kg (Nuclear and Conventional)
- Nuclear: Yes

• 5 October 
- Missile: Dhanush (Sea Variant of the Prithvi)
- Type: SRBM
- Range: 350km
- Payload: 500kg (Nuclear and Conventional)
- Nuclear: Yes

• 6 October 
- Missile: BrahMos 
- Type: Cruise Missile (Super Sonic)
- Range: 290km
- Payload: 300kg 
- Nuclear: No

• Expected in November
- Missile: Nirbhay
- Type: Cruise Missile (Sub Sonic)
- Range: 1000km
- Payload: Undisclosed
- Nuclear: -

IMPLICATIONS FOR STRATEGIC STABILITY

Missile testing ostensibly showcases technological development and strength. But the way India and Pakistan have generated visibility for their respective missile development programmes is a definite case of both the defence establishments trying to ‘outflex’ each other.

These developments are not favourable to South Asian strategic stability, which is precariously balanced on the notion of nuclear deterrence. The recent spate of non strategic weapons tests can only destabilise the region. Indian superiority over Pakistan’s conventional military strength has been hitherto undisputed. The entry of the Hatf-VII changes this equation by making a huge part of North Indian territory vulnerable to attack in a more cost effective manner than building ballistic missiles. 

Indian knee jerk responses, having already tested the 4000km range Agni IV ballistic missile and the BrahMos in October, as well as the expected test of the Nirbhay is sure to coax Pakistan into reciprocating. The frequent reminder of one’s capability to penetrate the other’s defences is not a healthy or intelligent roadmap towards attaining or maintaining strategic stability. It is believed though, that this is a part of a larger strategy by India to lure Pakistan into a ‘race’ that the latter can neither win, nor economically support. If that is indeed the case, Indian policy makers must be reminded that an economically drained Pakistan, plunged headlong towards internal instability is not in the best interests of Indian security. As the dominant South Asian power too, Indian actions should be responsibly guided towards larger regional stability. Accentuating the security dilemma does not fit that bill. 


----
By Debak Das, Research Intern
Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS)

____
*This is a list collated with information available from public sources. The details of some of the payloads and ranges are meant to be indicative and not exact. Certain Missiles have been tested multiple times. The list only indicated the last date of test. 

Read more at: http://www.defpro.com/

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kh-65 / Kh-SD Kh-101

Article from Federation of American Scientist website:




As of 1996 it was reported that at least two next-generation strategic cruise missiles were under development. By late 2000 very few details had emerged concerning either program, neither of which appeared to have received Western designations. It is reported that Russian Air Force plans call for upgrading the Tu-95MS `Bear-H' bomber to carry up to eight Kh-101 or 14 Kh-65 cruise missiles. The status of a plan for the Tu-160 to carry 12 Kh-101s or Kh-65s is unclear, and may have been cancelled.

The long-range Kh 101 cruise missile is under development for long-range aviation. It was apparebtly first launched in October of 1998 by Tu-160 during 37th Air Army exercises. It will reportedly be employed with either a nuclear or a conventional warhead. The conventional warhead version required the use of a highly accurate guidance system, which reportedly provides a circular error probable of 12-20 meters. An electro-optic flight path correction system uses a terrain map stored in its onboard computer, as well as a TV-seeker for the terminal stage of flight. The Kh-101's launch weight is 2,200-2,400kg and its maximum speed is Mach 0.77. The range of this system probably exceeds 3,000km, and some reports claim a range of as great as 5000 km.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced in January 1992 that he would end the manufacture of all sea- and air- launched cruise missiles. In March 2000 it was reported that the Russian Air Force had tested a new cruise missile with a conventional warhead. It was said to be a Kh-555 missile, which was developed from the Kh-55, with a range of 2000 - 3000 km. The relationship between the "Kh-555" and the Kh-101, with evidently similar characteristics, is unclear.

The Kh-65, also known as the Kh-SD, is reportedly a smaller version of the Kh-101. It is said to be shorter and lighter [by some 600-800kg], with a much shorter range of only several hundred kilometres. It probably uses the same homing system as the Kh-101, but may a Kh-65S anti-ship version may have an active radar seeker. The fact of the existence of this program was first disclosed in data sheets released at the 1992 Moscow Air Show, at which time it appeared to be a tactical derivative of the Kh-55 Granat [AS-15 Kent] strategic cruise missile. More recently, it is described as the short range tactical version of the Kh-101.

Based on the reported association between the Kh-55 and the Kh-65, it is probably the case that the Kh-101 is a derivative of the previous Kh-55.

Russia to field Kh-101 cruise missile next year

Tu-160 bomber Billypix
Russia's Tu-160 strategic bomber (above) will be equipped with the Kh-101


Russia's air force will accept the Raduga Kh-101 cruise missile into service in 2013, a service official has told the Izvestia newspaper.
Currently being flight-tested, the new weapon will enable bombers to hit targets with an accuracy of 10m (33ft) from a mission range of up to 5,400nm (10,000km), giving Russia's Long Range Aviation command its first such precision-strike capability.
The subsonic Kh-101 navigates primarily by using Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation system, but also has a back-up inertial guidance system. It will also be to hit small moving targets, such as vehicles, the paper says.
Carrying a bigger, 400kg (880lb) warhead than its Kh-555 predecessor's 200kg charge, the new type will also be fielded in the nuclear-armed Kh-102 variant.
The long-range capability is essential for Russia, which no longer has bases abroad and cannot provide distant fighter escorts for its bomber fleet, Alexander Konovalov of the Strategic Evaluation Institute told Izvestia.
Photographs of the Kh-101 on the internet show the Tupolev Tu-95MS bomber carrying eight of the weapons on four under-wing pylons. Russia's Tu-160 strategic bomber will also be equipped with the type, while the air force's smaller Tu-22M3s will continue to carry the Kh-555.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Russia Plans to Field the T-99, a Radically New Main Battle Tank by 2015


An artist concept view of the new Russian tank.

The Russian Army is planning to begin modernize its armored and mechanized forces beginning in 2015, fielding a new family of vehicles comprising a new main battle tank, armored infantry fighting vehicles, and various support platforms. The MBT will be based on the new Armata, the prototype is scheduled to enter field trials in 2013, about 10 months ahead of schedule. First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said. The new tank is under development at Uralvagonzavod in Omsk. The first deliveries of the tank to the Russian Armed Forces are scheduled for 2015. A total of 2,300 MBTs are expected to be supplied by 2020.

It should be remembered that the Russians are building their fighting forces not only against NATO, but more importantly, to protect their long southern borders with radical Islamic countries that may be gathering military power, and the growing dominance of China in the east. Armored and mechanized forces are key to maintaining military superiority or parity against such threats. The level of sophistication in meeting such threats is not as demanding as meeting the advanced technology fielded by US and NATO forces.


An artist concept view of the T99. Despite Russian occupation with ever higher caliber guns for their new tanks, the T-99 will be equipped with an improved version of the current 125mm cannon. 

According to preliminary reports, the new tank designated T-99 will be less radical and ambitious than the failed ‘Object 195’ or T-95, it will weigh less, therefore, become more agile and will be more affordable, compared to its more ambitious predecessors.

The Russian industry is also developing the Boomerang family of 8×8 wheeled armored vehicles which will gradually replace the current BTR-90. Additionally, the Kurganets-25 tracked armored vehicle provides high degree of commonality with the new Armata tank. The Kurganets-25 will evolve into various models, gradually replacing BMP and BMD and MT-LB and other types of tracked armored platforms.

Read more at: http://defense-update.com/20120810_russia-plans-to-field-the-t-99-a-radically-new-main-battle-tank-by-2015.html

Friday, October 19, 2012

Iran's Cyber Warfare


Iran is working to develop, implement a cyberspace strategy.

Broad interstate cooperation needed to counter Iranian cyber activity

The recent statement by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about the need to confront Iranian cyber warfare waged against American targets highlights developments of the last two years regarding Iran's extended activity to construct defensive and offensive cyber capabilities. Apparently underway is a large cyber campaign by Iran, both to attack various targets in retaliation for the sanctions imposed against it and to repel the cyber attacks directed at it. 

Iran is working to develop and implement a strategy to operate in cyberspace. The approach by Supreme Leader Khamenei to opportunities and risks inherent in cyberspace, reflected in his March 2012 announcement on the establishment of the Supreme Cyber Council, shows how central the issue is in Iran. Defensively, Iran is working to realize two main goals: first, to create a "technological envelope" that will protect critical infrastructures and sensitive information against cyberspace attacks such as the Stuxnet virus, which damaged the Iranian uranium enrichment program, and second, to stop and foil cyberspace activity by opposition elements and opponents to the regime, for whom cyberspace is a key platform for communicating, distributing information, and organizing anti-regime activities. The Iranian program to create a separate, independent communications network is particularly important in this context. 

Offensively, the cyberspace strategy is part of the doctrine of asymmetrical warfare, a central principle in the Iranian concept of the use of force. Cyberspace warfare, like other classical asymmetrical tactics such as terrorism and guerilla warfare, is viewed by Iran as an effective tool to inflict serious damage on an enemy with military and technological superiority. In a case of escalation between Iran and the West, Iran will likely aim to launch a cyber attack against critical infrastructures in the United States and its allies, including energy infrastructures, financial institutions, transportation systems, and others. In order to realize the goals of its strategy, Iran has allocated about $1 billion to develop and acquire technology and recruit and train experts. The country has an extensive network of educational and academic research institutions dealing with information technology, computer engineering, electronic engineering, and math. In addition, the government operates its own institute – the Iran Telecommunications Research Center, the research and professional branch of the Information and Communications Ministry. The institute trains and operates advanced research teams in various fields, including information security. Another government body is the Technology Cooperation Officer, which belongs to the president’s bureau, and initiates information technology research projects. This body has been identified by the European Union and others in the West as involved in the Iranian nuclear program. 

The Iranian cyberspace system comprises a large number of cyber organizations, formally related to various establishment institutions and involved in numerous fields. One central organization with a primarily defensive orientation is the Cyber Defense Command, operating under Iran’s Passive Defensive Organization, affiliated with the General Staff of the Armed Forces. Alongside military personnel, this cyberspace organization includes representatives of government ministries, such as the ministries of communications, defense, intelligence, and industry, and its main goal is to develop a defensive doctrine against cyberspace threats. Another cyberspace body of a defensive nature is the MAHER Information Security Center, operating under the aegis of the communications and information technology ministry. The center is in charge of operating rapid response teams in case of emergencies and cyber attacks. Iran also has a Committee for Identifying Unauthorized Sites and FETA, the police cyberspace unit, which in addition to dealing with internet crime also monitors and controls Iranian internet usage, with emphasis on internet cafés throughout the country that allow relatively anonymous web surfing. 

The picture is less clear regarding Iran’s offensive cyberspace capabilities. Clearly the capabilities of the Revolutionary Guards make Iran one of the most advanced nations in the field of cyberspace warfare, with capabilities, inter alia, to install malicious code in counterfeit computer software, develop capabilities to block computer communications networks, develop viruses and tools for penetrating computers to gather intelligence, and develop tools with delayed action mechanisms or mechanisms connected to control servers. There is also evidence of links between the Revolutionary Guards and hacker groups in Iran and abroad that operate against the enemies of the regime at home and around the world. The use of outsourcing allows the Revolutionary Guards and Iran to maintain distance and deniability about Iran’s involvement in cyberspace warfare and
cyber crime. 

A prominent hacker group linked to the Revolutionary Guards is the Ashiyane Digital Security Team, whose members are motivated by an ideology supporting the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolution and who target the enemies of the regime for attack. The Basij, subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, also became active in cyberspace when in 2010 established the Basij Cyberspace Council. The activities of the Basij focus primarily on creating pro-Iranian propaganda in cyberspace, and the organization works on developing more advanced cyberspace capabilities and using Revolutionary Guards cyberspace operatives to train hackers in high offensive capabilities. 

Iran is already active offensively, as evidenced by several events in recent years. In 2011 there were two attacks on companies providing security permissions; most prominent was the attack from June to August 2011 on DigiNotar in the Netherlands, whose databases – the major source of SSL permissions in Holland – were attacked. During those months, certificates for authenticating websites, including the certificate authenticating the google.com domain, were stolen; the latter item allowed attackers to pose as Google and redirect Gmail servers. In fact, the attack allowed Iran to penetrate more than 300,000 computers, primarily in Iran, and seems to have been designed to monitor users at home for internal security purposes. 

In September 2012, a number of financial institutions in the United States came under attack, including sites belonging to the Bank of America, Morgan Chase, and CitiGroup. According to American analysts, the most destructive attack occurred in August 2012 on the computers of the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco and the Qatari gas company RasGas. The attack was carried out by means of a computer virus called Shamoo, which spread through company servers and destroyed information stored in them. A group called the Cutting Sword of Justice took responsibility for the attack and claimed it was aimed at the main source of income of Saudi Arabia, which was accused of committing crimes in Syria and Bahrain. 

The development of Iran’s cyberspace capabilities and the most recent attacks should concern the United States as well as Israel. The success of the attack on Aramco computers is of concern because the standard defensive systems proved insufficient against the focused and anonymous attacks. It is therefore necessary to develop tools that can deal with such threats. One of the directions being developed involves identification, blocking, and neutralization of unusual behavior in computers under attack. Such tools could neutralize threats even after the malicious code managed to penetrate the targeted computer. The attack on Aramco was designed more to destroy information indiscriminately in tens of thousands of company computers and less (if at all) to gather intelligence. If intelligence gathering in cyberspace can be considered legitimate in some cases, a large scale attack such as the one by Iran against a civilian target marks a transition by Iran to retaliatory action. Secretary Panetta’s recent statement on the need to close accounts with those responsible for this attack demonstrates this, but what ultimately counts is the test of action and not of words.

The focus of Iran’s cyberspace activity directed against Israel and other countries in the West requires appropriate defensive arrangements, beginning with an up-to-date doctrine of cyberspace defense. The attackers’ sophistication requires intelligence-based defenses as well as the generic ones. In light of developments in Iran, the State of Israel must place the issue of Iranian cyberspace activity among its highest intelligence priorities, in order to identify advance preparations and foil attacks before they are underway. Similar to the Iranian nuclear program, the challenge is not Israel's alone, rather that of many other states in the West as well as the Gulf states. It is therefore necessary to initiate broad interstate cooperation to gather intelligence and foil Iranian cyber activity.

----
By Dr. Gabi Siboni and Sami Kronenfeld
Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
INSS Insight No. 375

(Dr. Gabi Siboni is the head of the Cyber Warfare Program at INSS. Sami Kronenfeld is an intern in the program. This essay is shortened version of a forthcoming article on Iran’s cyberspace capabilities, to be published in the December issue of Military and Strategic Affairs.)

Read more at:  http://www.defpro.com/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Czech L-159




Czechoslovakia originally ordered 72 of Aero Vodochody’s sub-sonic L-159A single-seat light attack jets. Their preceding L-39/59 Albatros trainer and light attack aircraft family became the world’s most popular jet trainers during the Cold War, and the L-159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft was positioned as a modern derivative, offering full combat capability and compatibility with western weapons. The resulting aircraft filled a useful niche for the Czechs, but its overall success always depended on exports.
Unfortunately, the Soviet Union’s demise lost the Albatros family its global market niche, and killed the military aid subsidies that had helped promote it. Worse, the L-159’s program cost grew from CZK 20-30 billion to over 51 billion Koruna. That left the Czech government in a bind. In response, they’ve been trying to keep 24-35 jets for operational use, and sell off 36-47 of the L-159As (one aircraft has been lost), since 2002. They also moved to privatize state-owned Aero Vodochody, which took place in November 2006.
A few 2-seat L-159T conversions have been performed with CzAF funding, as a demonstration of their potential to become dual-role trainer/attack aircraft. That has helped Aero tout the planes to Afghanistan, Bolivia, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Nigeria… and Iraq, where they finally had a breakthrough.

Aero’s Market Conundrum


L-159A on topnew L-159T below

The L-159s are capable aircraft. They can be fitted with targeting pods and Paveway laser-guided bombs, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and the usual assortment of guns, rockets, and conventional bombs. They can even operate from austere bases, and are easy to maintain. Countries looking for relatively low cost planes, that offer basic air patrol and advanced counterinsurgency capabilities, will find the L-159A a great fit. When touting the plane for Colombia, the firm noted that:
“An L-159 pilot can prepare and operate this user-friendly aircraft himself with no ground support. The L-159 can take off from any prepared or unprepared airstrip, during the day or night, in any weather regardless of wet or dry, hot or cold, windy or calm. A glass cockpit, equipped as the latest generation of fighters, is protected by advanced armor, Head-Up and Multi-Function Displays or Hands-On-Throttle-and-Stick concept. This gives the pilot complete confidence to successfully complete any FAC [DID: Forward Air Control targeting and attack] mission required of him.”
Aero’s difficulties stem from a variety of factors.
Supersonic snobbery. One problem is that subsonic light attack jets are often undervalued in favor of prestige buys – vid. Sri Lanka’s desire to purchase a small handful of MiG-29s, instead of acquiring far more L-159s in order to defend against terrorists in light propeller aircraft. They ended up receiving Chinese J-7s (MiG-21 copies), which have endurance issues on combat air patrols, and are even less suitable for counter-insurgency roles.
Accepted alternatives. A 2nd problem is that established entries like Brazil’s EMB-314 Super Tucano and BAE’s Hawk 109/209 already crowd the field, and have better long-term prospects in the regions likely to buy a single-seat, subsonic combat jet. The Super Tucano has always doubled as an advanced trainer, and BAE’s Hawk 209 has an array of new and used 2-seat trainer counterparts ready for sale. Aero’s L-159T variant wasn’t market-ready until 2007, and has a thin service record. Meanwhile, the L-39 and L-59 are out of production, making L-159s less attractive to countries who might have bought L-159A ALCAs along with new trainers. In recent years, Indonesia and neighboring Poland both fit the profile of countries looking for trainers with light attack capabilities, but the L-159 was not reported as a factor in either competition.
Cold-blooded customers. The L-159’s 3rd problem involves Aero Vodochody’s former customer base. The Czech Republic’s happy return to the family of free nations is its own barrier to sales. Many of the Soviet Union’s former clients, who bought Albatros jets, are deservedly well-known for brutality. This meshes poorly with democratic oversight from a recently-freed people, who will protest exports that are seen as unethical. In the Soviet era, for instance, Syria’s Bashar Assad would have been shipped Czech light attack planes without a second thought, for use against any internal enemies he cared to target. In 2012, there was never any possibility of Assad receiving L-159As, even though Syria flies L-39s, and the L-159As’ near-immediate delivery would have dovetailed with Assad’s top military priority. Syria bought Russian Yak-130s instead.
The American angle. The L-159’s American military technologies, which include its avionics, Honeywell F124 engine, and most of its weapons, require US government approval for exportunder US ITAR laws. While the Czechs would never sell to regimes like Syria, ITAR’s price was made clear in 2009, when the USA reportedly blocked a Czech attempt to sell a handful of L-159s to Bolivia. Instead, the contract went to another regime that doesn’t ask questions: China sold Bolivia its K-8 trainer/ light attack jets instead.
To add insult to injury, Aero’s lack of a US manufacturing base left it shut out of the US-run Light Air Support contract, which will buy 20 planes for the Afghan Air Force. The AAF flies L-39s, and L-159s would have been a good fit, but they’ll be receiving turboprops assembled in the USA instead.
All of this has made for slow sales.