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Archive for January, 2009

Russia Now 3 and 0 in Cyber Warfare

Friday, January 30th, 2009


In January of 2009 the world witnessed the third successful cyber attack against a country. The target was the small country of Kyrgyzstan. The country is only about 77,000 square miles in size with a population of just over 5 million. The attackers focused on the three of the four Internet service providers. They launched a distributed denial of service attack traffic and quickly overwhelmed the three and disrupting all Internet communications. The IP traffic was traced back to Russian-based servers primarily known for cyber crime activity. Multiple sources have blamed the cyber attack on the Russian cyber militia and/or the Russian Business Network (RBN). RBN is thought to control the world’s largest botnet with between 150 and 180 million nodes. These reports go on to say that Russian Officials hired the technically capable group to do this. It is widely believed that this group also played a substantial role in the Estonia Attack in 2007 and the attack on Georgia in 2008. The mechanism of attack was a fairly large botnet with nodes distributed in countries around the world. (DefenseTech Enemy among Us) One significant difference in the Kyrgyzstan attack is that most of the DDoS traffic was generated in Russia.

INTEL: One source reports that this attack was commercial — insinuating the civilian organization (attackers) may have been paid to carry this out.

ANALYSIS: The commercial sourcing of the cyber attack is believed to have been done to put the Russian government an arms length away from the hostile act.

The attack seems to be politically motivated and is the latest example of geopolitical disputes being fought with cyber weapons. Cyber Intelligence Analysts stated that attacks were launched to disrupt demands that leaders halt plans to prohibit access to an airbase for the US military in its war in Afghanistan. The analysts went on to say the Russian officials want nothing more than the base closed as soon as possible. (This is said to be one of the terms of a $2 billion investment deal that Russia is trying to negotiate with Kyrgyzstan.)

– Kevin Coleman

Body Armor Recalled by Army

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered the recall of more than 16,000 sets of body armor following an audit that concluded the bullet-blocking plates in the vests failed testing and may not provide Soldiers with adequate protection.

The audit by the office of the Defense Department inspector general, not yet made public but obtained by The Associated Press, faults the Army for flawed testing procedures before awarding a contract for the armor.

In a letter dated Jan. 27 to Acting Inspector General Gordon Heddell, Geren said he did not agree that the plates failed the testing or that Soldiers were issued deficient gear. He said his opinion was backed by the Pentagon’s top testing director.

Despite his insistence that the armor was not deficient, Geren said he was recalling the sets as a precaution.

Geren also said he’s asked for a senior Pentagon official to resolve the disagreement between the Army and the inspector general’s office.

“To ensure there can be no question regarding the effectiveness of every Soldier’s body armor, I have today ordered that the plates at issue be identified and collected until such a time as the matter has been adjudicated by the deputy secretary of defense,” he wrote.

Hundreds of thousands of body armor sets have been manufactured by nearly a dozen different companies over the past seven years. The vests are now standard gear for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The audit by the inspector general’s office was the second requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. She first asked the watchdog agency to look into the acquisition of the ballistic vests in 2006 after she read newspaper reports saying inadequate body armor was causing U.S. casualties.


[Editor’s Note: The story goes on to say that three of eight plate designs in the latest Army buy failed FAT testing. The AP sleuthed around and found that the contract # for the plate order in question correlates to a purchase from Armor Works. I seem to remember that the Corps had some problems with substandard Armor Works plates back in ’04-’05 timeframe, but I’m going to have to check back at my records to confirm that.]

– Christian

Pentagon Wanted Sole-Source Search, Rescue

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

The Pentagon attempted to force the U.S. Air Force to forego an open competition for the service’s $15 billion combat, search and rescue (CSAR-X) helicopter replacement program and wanted the service to conduct a directed buy of Bell-Boeing CV-22s, Boeing MH-47s, Sikorsky MH-60s, or a mixed fleet of these types, Aerospace DAILY has learned.

A Defense Department study guidance and the supporting e-mail trail show that the department was pushing for sole-source procurement for the mixed CSAR-X replacement fleet as late as the fall of 2005 and well into 2006 — even though Air Force CSAR-X requirements ruled out MH-60s, and concerns over costs, downwash and sufficient weaponry dropped the CV-22 out of the running. This meant only one aircraft in the analysis would likely meet the Air Force requirements — the MH-47 Chinook.

A Chinook variant wound up winning the first go-around of the eventual CSAR-X competition in 2006, but that effort is now being rebid after multiple industry protests.

In a telephone interview with Aerospace DAILY, DOD acquisition chief John Young questioned the validity of the entire CSAR-X process prior to his 2007 appointment as acquisition chief, saying Air Force and even Pentagon officials failed to ask some of the most basic questions, including: should the service even have a dedicated CSAR force, and if so, what should the aircraft’s requirements truly be?

DOD has declined to comment about moves made before Young’s tenure.

The Air Force started looking for a CSAR helicopter replacement about a decade ago. The service said it needed a better-armed aircraft that was more agile, networked, powerful and modern to survive the high-threat missions it would perform.

After the service formed and vetted its requirements through the Pentagon process, the three remaining potential replacement helicopters were variants of the Boeing H-47, Lockheed US101 and Sikorsky S-92. The three prepared timely and expensive proposals for the program.

But service documents and related e-mails show the Pentagon was looking to bypass the required selection route. An Air Force briefing dated Sept. 26, 2005, about the Pentagon guidance says: “Selection of OSD-recommended mixed fleet solution would require sole-source acquisition strategy.“

The briefing also says the Pentagon’s plan would most certainly lead to protests, including by contractors like the Northrop Grumman-EADS team, which had pulled its NH-90 out of the running because of requirement issues.

“Any competitor that bids to CDD [capabilities development document] requirement but loses will claim that they would have won had they been allowed to bid less than CDD offering,” the briefing says.

Congressional staffers also have confirmed they pushed the Air Force toward a Chinook variant because lawmakers wanted an aircraft already in production.

The Pentagon interference set up a questionable parallel procurement track outside the one the service had already started with CSAR-X bidders, the e-mail trail and other documents show.

So concerned was Gen. T. Michael Moseley in March 2006 when he was Air Force chief of staff that he wrote to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he was “troubled” by all the “discussions” of a program “path” that has been twice approved by DOD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC).

Young said he thought the JROC acted too hastily with its CSAR-X approvals, failing to ask the appropriate questions about the real need for a dedicated CSAR force and the true requirements for such aircraft.

Read the rest of this story, learn why the Euros are out of the Air Force One business, see the first shots fired since Gaza’s cease fire and get a glimpse of German defense from our friends at Aviation Week exclusively on Military​.com.

– Christian

Sniper (i)Phone

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I know most of you have already seen the Knight’s Armament sniper application for the iPhone. I ran across it at SHOT Show just like everyone else but since the MSM latched onto it, I decided against posting it for fear my beloved readers would skewer me for being so late.

But our friends at Milspecmonkey went one step further, posting a video from the Knight’s Armament booth with a company official describing new features to their popular Mk-11/SR-25/M-110 sniper rifle lineup.

– Christian

Build your own Death Stick

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Have fun with this one, folks.

Our friends over at Soldier Systems Daily blog found a cool feature on the web site for Brownells — a leading manufacturer and customizer for ARs and other “black guns.”

Click HERE and use their online application to build your own rifle. Trick it out like a freakin’ commando brother and let’s go kick in some doors!

(Gouge: Soldier Systems Daily)

– Christian

Live Q&A With Winslow Wheeler

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

A Rare Glimpse Inside FCS Armor

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


The vulnerabilities, components and processes used to make armor are rarely discussed with reporters, or the general public. Keeping those things secret saves soldiers lives. So when the Armys testing community rolled out the services top armor scientists and allowed us glimpses of the facilities used to make armor as part of our FCS tour at Aberdeen Proving Ground they sent a very clear message of the importance they attach to this enormous program.

After a briefing by two top Army materiel scientists, the group of reporters trudged in to a large room that looked like a cross between a package wrapping station for a small mail-order company (big rolls of flat and bubbly plastics) and an enormous art studio, with several giant presses and kilns dominating the structure. Everyones heard of ceramic armor and Kevlar, but few have seen the seemingly ordinary stuff that helps make armor really effective. The two scientists had laid out on a big metal table more than a dozen samples of various armor components. One mat roughly the size of a dinner table mat looked like woven glass fibers. There was a roll of something that felt and looked remarkably like magnetic tape. Of course, there was a ceramic substance that had been shattered in some sort of ballistic test. Next to it was a big thick wad (maybe three inches thick) of surprisingly light aluminum.

Ernie Chin, from the Army Research Laboratory, told us that some armor variants involve ceramics or other materials bonded to metal matrices (of which there were several examples including one that looked a lot like a honeycomb), perhaps with layers of glass, plastics or other more exotic materials. The whole point is, how do we put all this together, he said.


F-22s Deployed To Guam and Okinawa

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

This story first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

In the fourth and largest F-22 deployment so far, a squadron of the U.S. stealth fighters has shifted from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, to Andersen AFB, Guam.

Another 12 fighters from Langley AFB, Va., flew to Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan, earlier this month.

The first F-22 deployment was from Langley to Elmendorf, the second was from Langley to Okinawa and the third was from Elmendorf to Guam. All were temporary single squadron moves to test the new aircrafts logistics and reliability and in the last two moves to participate in the rotation of units to the western Pacific Ocean.

Moving the F-22s to non-U.S. bases, like Kadena, which belongs to Japan, is considered risky because intelligence gathering can be conducted from both the island and from ships in the area. Of particular concern are electronic and signals intelligence (sigint) that might be gathered by the extensive Chinese merchant fleet, according to senior U.S. intelligence officers. Russian Tu-95s with sigint capabilities recently flew close enough to Guam to create an operational stir.

U.S. officials say the two units are part of an ongoing rotation of forces to ensure security and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In case of a military emergency in Asia, U.S. fighters from Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and Kadena would shift to forward bases in Japan, South Korea or Singapore. Then additional aircraft from the continental United States would shift to the intermediate bases, ready for further deployment.

Read the rest of this story, see more about the USMC/F-35/Obama nexus, find out of the French are going to nab Gaza smugglers and see how they’re upgrading fighting vehicles in Afghanistan from our friends at Aviation Week exclusively on Military​.com.

– Christian

Interactive Q&A: “Sparticus”

Monday, January 26th, 2009


We have a very special online interview coming up tomorrow (Jan. 27) here on Defense Tech.

One of the most knowledgable civilians in America on Pentagon budgets and defense spending will be our guest at 1500 EST for an hour-long interview on the current DoD budget, spending priorities and Gates’ testimony on Captiol Hill earlier in the day.

Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Center for Defense Information’s Strauss Military Reform Project has been involved in military budgeting for more than three decades as a senior budget staffer on Capitol Hill and preeminant critic of the Pentagon’s status quo. He’s also been a longtime friend of mine and a valuable guide throughout my career in navigating the often trecherous waters of the Pentagon hall of mirrors.

So be sure to browse over to Defense Tech tomorrow (Jan. 27) at 1500 EST for our live, online interview with Winslow Wheeler and come armed with good questions on the day’s events.

– Christian

Monkeying with Magpul

Monday, January 26th, 2009

You guys might remember that I mentioned I’d met the folks from Milspecmonkey at the SHOT Show a couple weeks ago in Orlando.

We’ve run a couple of their gear reviews in the past and I like their “next-gen operator” approach to things. Milspecmonkey has a keen eye for the innovative companies out there finding real solutions to the needs of troopers in combat and on the job.

Well, we’re going to build on that earlier relationship and offer up some of the videos the boys shot at the show this year.

As you know they are (and so am I) a big fan of the guys at Magpul. Here are a few of the vids Milspecmonkey shot on new products being released by Magpul…maybe this’ll give some of the boys in “supply” a few ideas to make a Joe’s life a bit more bearable.

Here’s a look at some new Magpul M4 add-ons…

The Monkey takes a look at some more accessories…

…and Magpul explains why bigger is better

– Christian