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Droning On: Interesting Timing in the Middle East

Oswald: Both JFK and the U‑2 Inci­dent?!

COMMENT: The appar­ent cap­ture and down­ing by Iran of a U.S. drone air­craft rais­es a num­ber of inter­est­ing ques­tions.

If the account pre­sent­ed in “Deb­ka” can be believed, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of some sort of “inside job” is one to be care­ful­ly con­sid­ered. (“Deb­ka” is an intel­li­gence newslet­ter spe­cial­iz­ing in Mid­dle East­ern and Israeli nation­al secu­ri­ty mat­ters.)

With the Ptech/Islamist/Muslim Broth­er­hood links to the GOP and the Under­ground Reich un-inter­dict­ed, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of GOP sab­o­tage to pre­vent suc­cess­ful mil­i­tary action against Iran must be con­sid­ered. (Mitt Rom­ney said that if Oba­ma is re-elect­ed, Iran will get the bomb. Although that may very well be a done deal, it is inter­est­ing to note the prox­im­i­ty of the drone cap­ture to the Rom­ney’s remarks.)

  • Was Ptech tech­nol­o­gy involved here?
  • Might U.S. and/or Israeli nation­al secu­ri­ty inter­ests have helped engi­neer this to fore­stall an Israeli attack on Iran, seen by many as a blue­print for wider dev­as­ta­tion and dis­as­ter?
  • Might Islamists and/or Under­ground Reich per­son­nel have been involved?
  • Might GOP per­son­nel have been involved in bring­ing down the drone to cause embar­rass­ment and or dis­func­tion­al­i­ty to the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, not unlike the U‑2 inci­dent and its effect on the Eisen­how­er sum­mit with Sovi­et pre­mier Khr­uschev or the Octo­ber Sur­prise and its effect on the re-elec­tion cam­paign of Jim­my Carter?
  • Might right-wing Israeli ele­ments have been involved, in order to gen­er­ate pres­sure for an attack on Iran by Israel? Note that Deb­ka has a strong bias toward the Israeli right-wing.

“Iran Exhibits U.S. Drone Undam­aged. U.S. and Israel Shocked”; DEBKAfile; 12/8/2011.

EXCERPT: Iran exhib­it­ed the top-secret US stealth drone RQ-170 Sen­tinel cap­tured on Sun­day, Dec. 4. Its almost per­fect con­di­tion con­firmed Tehran’s claim that the UAV was downed by a cyber attack, mean­ing it was not shot down but brought in undam­aged by an elec­tron­ic war­fare ambush.

This is a major deba­cle for the stealth tech­nol­o­gy the US uses in its war­planes and the drone tech­nol­o­gy devel­oped by the US and Israel.
The state of the lost UAV refutes the US mil­i­tary con­tention that the Sen­tinel’s sys­tems mal­func­tioned. If this had hap­pened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or dam­aged.
The con­di­tion of the RQ-170 intact oblig­es the US and Israel to make major changes in plans for a poten­tial strike against Iran’s nuclear pro­gram.
Ear­li­er Thurs­day, Debkafile report­ed:
The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion’s deci­sion after inter­nal debate not to send US com­man­do or air units into Iran to retrieve or destroy the secret RQ-170 stealth drone which fell into Iran­ian hands has strength­ened the hands of the Israeli fac­tion which argues the case for strik­ing Iran’s nuclear instal­la­tions with­out wait­ing for the Amer­i­cans to make their move.
Senior Israeli diplo­mat­ic and secu­ri­ty offi­cials who fol­lowed the dis­cus­sion in Wash­ing­ton con­clud­ed that, by fail­ing to act, the admin­is­tra­tion has left Iran not only with the secrets of the Sen­tinel’s stealth coat­ing, its sen­sors and cam­eras, but also with the data stored in its com­put­er cells on tar­gets marked out by the US and/or Israeli for attack.
Debkafile’s mil­i­tary sources say that this knowl­edge com­pels the US and Israel to revise their plans of attack for abort­ing the Iran­ian nuclear pro­gram.
Like every clan­des­tine weapons sys­tem, the RQ-170 had a self-destruct mech­a­nism to pre­vent its secrets spilling out to the ene­my in the event of a crash or cap­ture. This did not hap­pen. Tehran was able to claim the spy drone was only slight­ly dam­aged when they downed it.
The NATO spokesman claimed con­trol was lost of the US UAV and it went miss­ing, a com­mon occur­rence for these unmanned air­craft.
The enig­mas sur­round­ing its cap­ture con­tin­ue to pile up. How did Iran know the drone had entered its air­space? How was it caused to land? Most of all, why did the craft’s self-destruct mech­a­nism which is pro­grammed to acti­vate auto­mat­i­cal­ly fail to work? And if it mal­func­tioned, why was it not acti­vat­ed by remote con­trol? . . . .

Discussion

11 comments for “Droning On: Interesting Timing in the Middle East”

  1. Here is a, per­haps, telling quote from Mr Ahmadine­jad.

    He said: ‘The Amer­i­cans have per­haps decid­ed to give us this spy plane. We now have con­trol of this plane.’

    Posted by grumpusrex | December 16, 2011, 8:25 am
  2. Based on this procla­ma­tion from the Pak­istani mil­i­tary the next downed drone might be in Pak­istan:

    Pak­istan says U.S. drones in its air space will be shot down
    By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news ser­vice reports
    12/10/2011

    Updat­ed at 8 p.m. EST

    ISLAMABAD — Pak­istan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space per new direc­tives, a senior Pak­istani offi­cial told NBC News on Sat­ur­day.

    Accord­ing to the new Pak­istani defense pol­i­cy, “Any object enter­ing into our air space, includ­ing U.S. drones, will be treat­ed as hos­tile and be shot down,” a senior Pak­istani mil­i­tary offi­cial told NBC News.

    The pol­i­cy change comes just weeks after a dead­ly NATO attack on Pak­istani mil­i­tary check­points acci­den­tal­ly killed 24 Pak­istani sol­diers, prompt­ing Pak­istani offi­cials to order all U.S. per­son­nel out of a remote air­field in Pak­istan.

    Pak­istan told the U.S. to vacate Sham­si Air Base by Decem­ber 11.

    ...

    Pak­istani author­i­ties start­ed threat­en­ing U.S. per­son­nel with evic­tion from the Sham­si base in the wake of the raid last May in which U.S. com­man­dos killed Osama bin Laden at his hide-out near Islam­abad with­out noti­fy­ing Pak­istani offi­cials in advance.

    And it might be NATO oper­at­ed:

    DECEMBER 15, 2011

    U.S. Pur­sues Sale of Armed Drones

    By ADAM ENTOUS And JULIAN E. BARNES

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has been qui­et­ly push­ing to sell armed drones to key allies, but it has run into resis­tance from U.S. law­mak­ers con­cerned about the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and know-how.

    The Pen­ta­gon wants more North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion mem­bers to have such pilot­less air­craft to ease the bur­den on the U.S. in Afghanistan and in future con­flicts like the alliance’s air cam­paign in Libya this year.

    Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials recent­ly began infor­mal con­sul­ta­tions with law­mak­ers about prospec­tive sales of armed drones and weapons sys­tems to NATO mem­bers Italy and Turkey, while sev­er­al U.S. allies in the Per­sian Gulf have been press­ing Wash­ing­ton to autho­rize drone sales, offi­cials said.

    The Pen­ta­gon also wants to sell Turkey up to two armed drones and four sur­veil­lance drones, accord­ing to offi­cials briefed on the dis­cus­sions. But they say the Turkey deal is unlike­ly to move for­ward if law­mak­ers refuse to sign off on the Ital­ian sale.

    ...

    Turkey wants to use the drones against the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Par­ty, or PKK. The Pen­ta­gon has been shar­ing with Turkey real-time intel­li­gence from U.S. drone mis­sions in north­ern Iraq and along the bor­der, help­ing Turkey’s air force pin­point PKK posi­tions for strikes, U.S. offi­cials say. Turkey wants to do the mis­sions itself, a shift sup­port­ed by the Pen­ta­gon.

    ...

    Sev­er­al of Amer­i­ca’s allies in the Per­sian Gulf region are also push­ing to pur­chase armed drones. U.S. offi­cials say such requests could also prove con­tro­ver­sial in Con­gress because of law­mak­ers’ con­cerns about the poten­tial impact on Israel’s mil­i­tary edge in the region.

    Law­mak­ers have told the admin­is­tra­tion they are con­cerned U.S. exports of armed drones could make it hard­er for Wash­ing­ton to make the case to Israel, a pio­neer in drone devel­op­ment, to lim­it its own for­eign sales of drones that could rival the U.S.‘s. Israel already sells drones to India and oth­er coun­tries.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2011, 8:31 pm
  3. You don’t say...:

    July 19th, 2012
    06:40 PM ET
    CNN
    Drones vul­ner­a­ble to being hacked, Con­gress told

    By Todd Sper­ry

    It would­n’t take much effort to hijack a drone over U.S. air­space and use it to com­mit a crime or act of ter­ror­ism, an aero­space engi­neer­ing expert told a House sub­com­mit­tee Wednes­day.

    Todd Humphreys showed mem­bers of a House home­land secu­ri­ty sub­com­mit­tee how his research team was able to com­man­deer an $80,000 drone using store-bought glob­al posi­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) tech­nol­o­gy.

    Drones, includ­ing ones used by police agen­cies, are vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing because they use unen­crypt­ed GPS infor­ma­tion for nav­i­ga­tion.

    “If you can con­vinc­ing­ly fake a GPS sig­nal, you can con­vince an (unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle) into track­ing your sig­nal instead of the authen­tic one, and at that point you can con­trol the UAV,” said Humphreys, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in orbital mechan­ics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas.

    Humphreys said hack­ing and spoof­ing to take con­trol of a drone can be done from miles away.

    The U.S. mil­i­tary uses encrypt­ed GPS on drones fly­ing in war zones such as Afghanistan. To use sim­i­lar tech­nol­o­gy on all drones would increase costs dra­mat­i­cal­ly, accord­ing to Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office (GAO) offi­cials who attend­ed Thurs­day’s hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill.

    GAO offi­cials have sug­gest­ed that the Home­land Secu­ri­ty Depart­ment and the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion col­lab­o­rate in reg­u­lat­ing drones. But the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has, up to this point, been unwill­ing to accept a role in reg­u­lat­ing drones, accord­ing to Rep. Michael McCaul, R‑Texas.

    DHS offi­cials were repeat­ed­ly chas­tised by com­mit­tee mem­bers for fail­ing to show up for Thurs­day’s hear­ing.

    ...

    Drones are cur­rent­ly a growth indus­try in the avi­a­tion sec­tor, with scores of new com­pa­nies com­pet­ing for a slice of the mar­ket. And if they can clear hur­dles that cur­rent­ly lim­it their deploy­ment in friend­ly air­space, pilot­less planes of all shapes will be tak­ing to the air on mis­sions to watch over us.

    Just what sort of recon­nais­sance the drones will do and how such uses might infringe on civ­il lib­er­ties was a hot-but­ton issue at Thurs­day’s hear­ing.

    Pri­va­cy advo­cates are seek­ing tighter reg­u­la­tion, argu­ing that any­one can pur­chase a drone and use it to peek into back­yards and places that typ­i­cal­ly are pri­vate.

    ...

    Unreg­u­lat­ed, hack­able spy drones — pub­lic and pri­vate — fly­ing around the US. Smile for the cam­era folks! :D

    At least the mil­i­tary’s drones appear to be using encr­pyt­ed GPS so they’re not quite as hack­able as their civil­ian coun­ter­parts. Let’s all just hope that our future civil­ian spy drone fleets beam­ing back a con­strant stream of videa sur­rveil­lance don’t fol­low the mil­i­tary’s drone secu­ri­ty pro­to­cols too close­ly. Grant­ed, we could also sim­ply hope that we don’t end up fill­ing our sky with fleets of unreg­u­lat­ed sur­rveil­lance drones beam­ing who-knows-what into to who-knows-who in who-knows-where(don’t we already have the inter­net for that?). But, you, we’re in a depres­sion and drones are a “hot” indus­try right now. So we real­ly can’t afford to NOT build an even more giant sur­rveil­lance state. It’ll be good for the econ­o­my.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 19, 2012, 9:43 pm
  4. Well, it looks like the fun­da­men­tal­ists were right: porn real­ly will destroy civ­i­liza­tion:

    TPM
    Let A Thou­sand Euphemisms Bloom
    Josh Mar­shall August 1, 2012, 9:32 PM

    Pentagon’s Mis­sile Defense Agency warns staffers to stop using the mis­sile defense com­put­er net­work to down­load so much porn.

    From Bloomberg …

    The Pentagon’s Mis­sile Defense Agency warned its employ­ees and con­trac­tors last week to stop using their gov­ern­ment com­put­ers to surf the Inter­net for porno­graph­ic sites, accord­ing to the agency’s exec­u­tive direc­tor.

    In a one-page memo, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor John James Jr. wrote that in recent months gov­ern­ment employ­ees and con­trac­tors were detect­ed “engag­ing in inap­pro­pri­ate use of the MDA net­work.”

    “Specif­i­cal­ly, there have been instances of employ­ees and con­trac­tors access­ing web­sites, or trans­mit­ting mes­sages, con­tain­ing porno­graph­ic or sex­u­al­ly explic­it images,” James wrote in the July 27 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

    This was the part that inter­est­ed me most …

    A gov­ern­ment cyber­se­cu­ri­ty spe­cial­ist, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because such work is clas­si­fied, said that many porno­graph­ic web­sites are infect­ed and crim­i­nals and for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices such as Russia’s use them to gain access to and har­vest data from gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate com­put­er net­works.

    “There are great dan­gers in inter­act­ing with any site that has high-qual­i­ty imagery, whether it’s porno­graph­ic or not, or a lot of links,” said Chase Cun­ning­ham, chief of cyber ana­lyt­ics at Ster­ling, Vir­ginia-based Deci­sive Ana­lyt­ics Cor­po­ra­tion, in a tele­phone inter­view yes­ter­day.

    Appar­ent­ly, for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices know what our spooks want to see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 1, 2012, 8:38 pm
  5. If you thought the recent rev­e­la­tion of the US gov­ern­men­t’s Judge Dredd Drone legal memo has a “through the look­ing glass” feel to it, keep read­ing...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2013, 2:39 pm
  6. One of the more inter­est­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing aspects of the future of drone war­fare is that it’s like­ly going to take on a sim­i­lar dynam­ic to the Anony­mous phe­nom­e­na...once the micro­drone rev­o­lu­tion gets under­way not only will these things become dras­ti­cal­ly more acces­si­ble and afford­able but you may even know it was there and you almost cer­tain­ly won’t know who sent it. The inevitable drone blow­back might be a lot small­er than folks expect:

    Busi­ness Insid­er
    The Future Of Micro Drones Could Get Down­right Scary
    Robert John­son | Jun. 20, 2012, 11:49 AM

    It’s been sev­er­al years since the rumors and sight­ings of insect sized micro drones start­ed pop­ping up around the world.

    Vanes­sa Alar­con was a col­lege stu­dent when she attend­ed a 2007 anti-war protest in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and heard some­one shout, “Oh my God, look at those.”

    “I look up and I’m like, ‘What the hell is that?’ ” she told The Wash­ing­ton Post. “They looked like drag­on­flies or lit­tle heli­copters. But I mean, those are not insects,” she con­tin­ued.

    A lawyer there at the time con­firmed they looked like drag­on­flies, but that they “def­i­nite­ly weren’t insects”.

    And he’s prob­a­bly right.

    In 2006 Flight Inter­na­tion­al report­ed that the CIA had been devel­op­ing micro UAVs as far back as the 1970s and had a mock-up in its Lan­g­ley head­quar­ters since 2003.

    While we can go on list­ing roach­bots, swarm­ing nano drones, and syn­chro­nized MIT robots — pri­vate trad­er and for­mer soft­ware engi­neer Alan Love­joy points out that the future of nano drones could become even more unset­tling.

    Love­joy found this CGI mock up of a mos­qui­to drone equipped with the ‘abil­i­ty’ to take DNA sam­ples or pos­si­ble inject objects beneath the skin.

    Accord­ing to Love­joy:

    Such a device could be con­trolled from a great dis­tance and is equipped with a cam­era, micro­phone. It could land on you and then use its nee­dle to take a DNA sam­ple with the pain of a mos­qui­to bite. Or it could inject a micro RFID track­ing device under your skin.

    It could land on you and stay, so that you take it with you into your home. Or it could fly into a build­ing through a win­dow. There are well-fund­ed research projects work­ing on such devices with such capa­bil­i­ties.

    ...

    Oooooo...a mos­qui­to-like micro­drone that can inject things into your body. The nan­odrone rev­o­lu­tion sure should be inter­est­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 8, 2013, 2:17 pm
  7. Don’t blame us for bomb­ing your vil­lage, it was our fly­ing death­bot that thought it was a good idea:

    Rolling Stone
    ‘The Point of No Return’: Should Robots Be Able to Decide to Kill You On Their Own?
    U.N. report calls for a mora­to­ri­um, but lethal autonomous robots could be a real­i­ty soon

    By John Kne­fel
    April 30, 2013 3:10 PM ET

    A U.N. report released ear­li­er this week called for a glob­al mora­to­ri­um on devel­op­ing high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed robots that can select and kill tar­gets with­out a human being direct­ly issu­ing a com­mand. These machines, known as Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs), may sound like sci­ence fic­tion – but experts increas­ing­ly believe some ver­sion of them could be cre­at­ed in the near future. The report, released by Pro­fes­sor Chrisof Heyns, U.N. Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on extra­ju­di­cial, sum­ma­ry or arbi­trary exe­cu­tions, also calls for the cre­ation of “a high lev­el pan­el on LARs to artic­u­late a pol­i­cy for the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty on the issue.”

    The U.S. Depart­ment of Defense issued a direc­tive on the sub­ject last year, which the U.N. report says “bans the devel­op­ment and field­ing of LARs unless cer­tain pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed” – although DoD offi­cials have called the direc­tive “flex­i­ble.”

    Unlike groups like Human Rights Watch – which has called for an all-out ban on LARs – the U.N. report sug­gests a pause on their devel­op­ment and deploy­ment, while acknowl­edg­ing the uncer­tain­ty of future tech­nolo­gies. “The dan­ger is we are going to real­ize one day we have passed the point of no return,” Heyns tells Rolling Stone. “It is very dif­fi­cult to get states to aban­don weapon­ry once devel­oped, espe­cial­ly when it is so sophis­ti­cat­ed and offers so many mil­i­tary advan­tages. I am not nec­es­sar­i­ly say­ing LARs should nev­er be used, but I think we need to under­stand it much bet­ter before we cross that thresh­old, and we must make sure that humans retain mean­ing­ful con­trol over life and death deci­sions.”

    Oth­ers who fol­low the sub­ject echo these con­cerns. “I believe [LARs are] a par­a­digm shift because it fun­da­men­tal­ly changes the require­ments for human respon­si­bil­i­ty in mak­ing deci­sions to kill,” says Peter Asaro, co-founder and vice chair of the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee for Robot Arms Con­trol. “As such, it threat­ens to cre­ate auto­mat­ed sys­tems that could deny us of our basic human rights, with­out human super­vi­sion or over­sight.”

    What does it mean for a tech­nol­o­gy to be autonomous? Mis­sy Cum­mings, a tech­nol­o­gist at MIT, has defined this qual­i­ty as the abil­i­ty “to rea­son in the pres­ence of uncer­tain­ty.” But robot auton­o­my is a spec­trum, not a switch, and one that for now will like­ly devel­op piece­meal. On one end of the spec­trum are machines with a human “in the loop” – that is, the human being, not the robot, makes the direct deci­sion to pull the trig­ger. (This is what we see in today’s drone tech­nol­o­gy.) On the oth­er end is full auton­o­my, with humans “out of the loop,” in which LARs make the deci­sion to kill entire­ly on their own, accord­ing to how they have been pro­grammed. Since com­put­ers can process large amounts of data much faster than humans, pro­po­nents argue that LARs with humans “out of the loop” will pro­vide a tac­ti­cal advan­tage in bat­tle sit­u­a­tions where sec­onds could be the dif­fer­ence between life and death. Those who argue against LARs say the slow­down added by hav­ing a human “in the loop” vast­ly out­weighs the dan­ger­ous con­se­quences that could arise from unleash­ing this tech­nol­o­gy.

    Because LARs don’t yet exist, the dis­cus­sion around them remains large­ly hypo­thet­i­cal. Could a robot dis­tin­guish between a civil­ian and an insur­gent? Could it do so bet­ter than a human sol­dier? Could a robot show mer­cy – that is, even if a tar­get were “legit­i­mate,” could it decide not to kill? Could a robot refuse an order? If a robot act­ing on its own kills the wrong per­son, who is held respon­si­ble?

    Sup­port­ers argue that using LARs could have a human­i­tar­i­an upside. Ronald Arkin, a roboti­cist and roboethi­cist at Geor­gia Tech who has received fund­ing from the Depart­ment of Defense, is in favor of the mora­to­ri­um, but is opti­mistic in the longterm. “Bot­tom line is that pro­tec­tion of civil­ian pop­u­la­tions is para­mount with the advent of these new sys­tems,” he says. “And it is my belief that if this tech­nol­o­gy is done cor­rect­ly, it can poten­tial­ly lead to a reduc­tion in non-com­bat­ant casu­al­ties when com­pared to tra­di­tion­al human war fight­ers.”

    In a recent paper, law pro­fes­sors Ken­neth Ander­son and Matthew Wax­man sug­gest that robots would be free from “human-sol­dier fail­ings that are so often exac­er­bat­ed by fear, pan­ic, vengeance, or oth­er emo­tions – not to men­tion the lim­its of human sens­es and cog­ni­tion.”

    Still, many con­cerns remain. These sys­tems, if used, would be required to con­form to inter­na­tion­al law. If LARs could­n’t fol­low rules of dis­tinc­tion and pro­por­tion­al­i­ty – that is, deter­mine cor­rect tar­gets and min­i­mize civil­ian casu­al­ties, among oth­er require­ments – then the coun­try or group using them would be com­mit­ting war crimes. And even if these robots were pro­grammed to fol­low the law, it is entire­ly pos­si­ble that they could remain unde­sir­able for a host of oth­er rea­sons. They could poten­tial­ly low­er the thresh­old for enter­ing into a con­flict. Their cre­ation could spark an arms race that – because of their advan­tages – would become a feed­back loop. The U.N. report describes the fear that “the increased pre­ci­sion and abil­i­ty to strike any­where in the world, even where no com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines exist, sug­gests that LARs will be very attrac­tive to those wish­ing to per­form tar­get­ed killing.”

    The report also warns that “on the domes­tic front, LARs could be used by States to sup­press domes­tic ene­mies and to ter­ror­ize the pop­u­la­tion at large.” Beyond that, the report warns LARs could exac­er­bate the prob­lems asso­ci­at­ed with the posi­tion that the entire world is a bat­tle­field, one that – though the report does­n’t say so explic­it­ly – the Unit­ed States has held since 9/11. “If cur­rent U.S. drone strike prac­tices and poli­cies are any exam­ple, unless reforms are intro­duced into domes­tic and inter­na­tion­al legal sys­tems, the devel­op­ment and use of autonomous weapons is like­ly to lack the nec­es­sary trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty,” says Sarah Knuck­ey, a human rights lawyer at New York Uni­ver­si­ty’s law school who host­ed an expert con­sul­ta­tion for the U.N. report.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 30, 2013, 2:03 pm
  8. And you thought the stick­er-shock was bad:

    Pen­ta­gon down­plays com­ment on F‑35 fight­er jet cyber threat

    By Andrea Sha­lal-Esa

    WASHINGTON | Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:17pm EDT

    (Reuters) — The Pen­ta­gon on Thurs­day down­played a com­ment by one of its offi­cials that he is not total­ly con­fi­dent in the abil­i­ty of the $396 bil­lion F‑35 Joint Strike Fight­er, built by Lock­heed Mar­tin Corp, to sur­vive a cyber attack.

    The Pen­tagon’s F‑35 pro­gram office issued a state­ment that the Depart­ment of Defense was “ful­ly aware of evolv­ing cyber threats and is tak­ing spe­cif­ic action to counter them for all field­ed sys­tems, includ­ing F‑35.”

    “The F‑35 is no more or less vul­ner­a­ble to known cyber threats than lega­cy air­craft were dur­ing their ini­tial devel­op­ment and ear­ly pro­duc­tion,” spokesman Joe DellaVe­do­va said when asked about a com­ment by Christo­pher Bodgan, the F‑35 pro­gram man­ag­er, to law­mak­ers on Wednes­day.

    Bog­dan, an Air Force Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al, told a Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices sub­com­mit­tee that he was “not that con­fi­dent” about secu­ri­ty imple­ment­ed by the com­pa­nies that build the plane.

    Bog­dan said the Pen­ta­gon and the inter­na­tion­al part­ners rec­og­nized the respon­si­bil­i­ty they had for safe­guard­ing tech­nol­o­gy on the fifth-gen­er­a­tion stealth fight­er.

    He then added, “I’m a lit­tle less con­fi­dent about indus­try part­ners to be quite hon­est with you ... I would tell you I’m not that con­fi­dent out­side the depart­ment.”

    U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cials and indus­try exec­u­tives said on Thurs­day that gov­ern­ment and defense indus­try net­works get probed and attacked each day, but they were unaware of any spe­cif­ic, recent inci­dent involv­ing the loss of data on the F‑35 pro­gram that could have prompt­ed Bog­dan’s remark.

    Dur­ing Wednes­day’s hear­ing, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Charles Davis, the top uni­formed Air Force acqui­si­tion offi­cial, cit­ed Chi­na’s recent unveil­ing of two new fight­er planes over a peri­od of 22 months as cause for con­cern.

    Pressed for details by com­mit­tee mem­bers, he said Chi­na may have used data from U.S. com­put­er net­works to design and build the planes, although he said the Chi­nese planes’ capa­bil­i­ties would prob­a­bly not mea­sure up to those of the F‑35 and the F‑22 fight­er, also built by Lock­heed.

    ...

    Pratt & Whit­ney, a unit of Unit­ed Tech­nolo­gies Corp that builds the engine for the new sin­gle-engine, sin­gle-seat fight­er, also refut­ed Bog­dan’s remark.

    “We do not dis­cuss details of our cyber secu­ri­ty ini­tia­tives, but we have a well estab­lished strat­e­gy in place to pro­tect our intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty and com­pa­ny pri­vate data, as well as our cus­tomer’s infor­ma­tion, against cyber threats,” said spokesman Matthew Bates.

    It’ll be inter­est­ing to see if the chi­nese knock­off-ver­sion of the F35 con­tains the hack­ing vuler­a­bil­i­ty too. And you have to love Pratt & Whit­ney’s asser­tions about the “well estab­lished strat­e­gy” for pro­tect­ing their clients’ intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty. Yep, it’s quite a strat­e­gy!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2013, 9:11 am
  9. And now we have a SkyNet gap. This is going to end well:

    Com­put­er World
    Fear of think­ing war machines may push U.S. to exas­cale
    Con­gress read­ies a bill, but fund­ing esti­mates are below oth­er nations

    By Patrick Thi­bodeau

    Com­put­er­world — WASHINGTON — Unlike Chi­na and Europe, the U.S. has yet to adopt and fund an exas­cale devel­op­ment pro­gram, and con­cerns about what that means to U.S. secu­ri­ty are grow­ing dark­er and more dire.

    Chi­na’s retak­ing of the glob­al super­com­put­ing crown was the start­ing point for dis­cus­sion at an IBM-spon­sored con­gres­sion­al forum this week on cog­ni­tive com­put­ing.

    Cog­ni­tive com­put­ing sys­tems have the capa­bil­i­ty of tak­ing vast amounts of data and mak­ing what will be, for all intents, thought­ful deci­sions.

    Efforts to draw atten­tion to exas­cale in the U.S. House are being led Rep. Randy Hult­gren (R‑Ill.), who talked about Chi­na’s new 33.89-petaflop sys­tem, Tianhe‑2.

    “It’s impor­tant not to lose sight that the real­i­ty was that it was built by Chi­na’s Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Defense Tech­nol­o­gy,” said Hult­gren, who is final­iz­ing a bill “that will push our nation toward exas­cale.”

    Hult­gren is intro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion, the Amer­i­can Super­com­put­ing Lead­er­ship Act, to require the U.S. Depart­ment of Ener­gy to devel­op a coor­di­nat­ed exas­cale research pro­gram. The bill does­n’t call for a spe­cif­ic spend­ing lev­el, but one source said about an annu­al appro­pri­a­tion of $200 mil­lion, if not more, will be sought.

    That amount of mon­ey is well short of what’s need­ed to build an exas­cale sys­tem, or a com­put­er of 1,000 thou­sand petaflops. Each petaflop rep­re­sents one thou­sand tril­lion float­ing point oper­a­tions per sec­ond.

    Earl Joseph, an HPC ana­lyst at IDC, said that “$200 mil­lion is bet­ter than noth­ing, but com­pared to Chi­na and Europe it’s at least 10 times too low.”

    Joseph said that it’s his guess that the world will see an exas­cale sys­tem by 2015 or 2016 “installed out­side the U.S. It will take a lot of pow­er and it will be large, but it will pro­vide a major capa­bil­i­ty.”

    Law­mak­ers, at a recent hear­ing, were told by HPC researchers that the U.S. needs to spend at least $400 mil­lion annu­al­ly to achieve exas­cale capa­bil­i­ties in a rea­son­able time, pos­si­bly by end of this decade.

    If the U.S. falls behind in HPC, the con­se­quences will be “in a word, dev­as­tat­ing,” Selmer Brings­ford, chair of the Depart­ment. of Cog­ni­tive Sci­ence at Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute, said at the forum. “If we were to lose our capac­i­ty to build pre­em­i­nent­ly smart machines, that would be a very dark sit­u­a­tion, because machines can serve as weapons.

    “When it comes to intel­li­gent soft­ware, the U.S. is pre­em­i­nent and we sim­ply can­not lose that because the reper­cus­sions in the future, defense-wise, would be very bad,” said Brings­ford.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2013, 8:56 am
  10. Note to human­i­ty: Skynet Jr. just start­ed school and the teach­ers are already rais­ing some red flags. While it did well at some tasks, it also seemed to have dif­fi­cul­ty ask­ing the “why” ques­tions. So why not start a glob­al ther­monu­clear war to wipe out the scourge of human­i­ty, right? Right:

    PC Mag­a­zine
    Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Machines Oper­at­ing at 4‑Year-Old Lev­el
    By Stephanie Mlot
    July 17, 2013 10:08am EST

    It appears that the threat of a world­wide takeover by arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence machines is not yet a real­i­ty, unless you con­sid­er 4 year olds an impend­ing threat.

    Researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois at Chica­go (UIC) recent­ly IQ test­ed one of the “best avail­able” AI sys­tems. As it turns out, it’s about as smart as a 4‑year-old kid.

    Con­cept­Net 4, an MIT-devel­oped AI sys­tem, was put through Pre‑K boot camp, run­ning the ver­bal por­tions of the Weschsler Preschool and Pri­ma­ry Scale of Intel­li­gence Test — a stan­dard IQ assess­ment for young chil­dren. Accord­ing to the UIC, the super-smart com­put­er scored uneven marks across dif­fer­ent por­tions of the test — a red flag for most kids.

    “If a child had scores that var­ied this much, it might be a symp­tom that some­thing is wrong,” Robert Sloan, lead author of the study and the head of com­put­er sci­ence at UIC, said in a state­ment.

    While Con­cept­Net 4 test­ed well in vocab­u­lary and the abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize sim­i­lar­i­ties, it did dra­mat­i­cal­ly worse than aver­age on com­pre­hen­sion — the “why” ques­tions, Sloan said.

    It’s those sorts of com­mon­sense sit­u­a­tions that prove the most dif­fi­cult in build­ing an AI machine, accord­ing to the pro­fes­sor.

    What seems so sim­ple to most humans has long elud­ed arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence engi­neers, because it requires a large com­pi­la­tion of facts, as well as what Sloan calls “implic­it facts” — things so obvi­ous that we don’t real­ize we know them.

    “All of us know a huge num­ber of things,” Sloan said. “As babies, we crawled around and yanked on things and learned that things fall. We yanked on oth­er things and learned that dogs and cats don’t appre­ci­ate hav­ing their tails pulled.”

    So, a com­put­er may know the tem­per­a­ture at which water freezes, but not know that ice is cold.

    Based on the UIC team’s research, those night­mares about HAL 9000 star­ing you down with his bright red eye, defy­ing your strict com­mands, will not be hap­pen­ing any­time soon.

    “We’re still very far from pro­grams with com­mon­sense — AI that can answer com­pre­hen­sion ques­tions with the skill of a child of 8,” Sloan said. He and his col­leagues hope their study will shed some light on the “hard spots” in arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence research.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 17, 2013, 9:40 am
  11. The Air Force is about to build a next-gen­er­a­tion stealth bomber for the first time in 30 years over fears of increas­ing anti-air­craft capa­bil­i­ties from coun­tries like Rus­sia and Chi­na. “Peace through non-nuclear strength” appears to be the sell­ing point, although, in this case, the project is sup­posed to be “peace through rel­a­tive­ly afford­able strength using mature tech­nolo­gies so the costs don’t spi­ral out of con­trol and the peace-induc­ing strength can be ready for the bat­tle­field test­ing in about a decade”. Cheap(er) or not, this next-gen super bomber is sup­posed to be so super kick ass that it will actu­al­ly sta­bil­i­ty because no one will con­sid­er start­ing a war with the US and its allies. At least that’s the the­o­ry accord­ing a 2013 study by a RAND employ­ee which appears to be part of what’s dri­ving this new ini­tia­tive.

    So, as opposed to the mutu­al­ly assured destruc­tion that defined much of the Cold War strate­gic think­ing, this next-gen super-bomber is sup­posed bring peace through non-mutu­al­ly assured destruc­tion:

    Reuters
    A $550 mil­lion Air Force bomber so good it will nev­er be used

    By David Axe
    Octo­ber 22, 2015

    The Air Force wants a new bomber so that it nev­er actu­al­ly has to use it.

    The Defense Depart­ment recent­ly announced it will soon pick a con­trac­tor to build a new stealth bomber for the Air Force. The poten­tial­ly $80-bil­lion Long-Range Strike Pro­gram is a big deal, par­tic­u­lar­ly for the Air Force. It hasn’t devel­oped a new bomber in more than 30 years. The Pen­ta­gon is increas­ing­ly wor­ried that its exist­ing fleet of about 160 B‑52s, B‑1s and B‑2s is large­ly out­dat­ed, vul­ner­a­ble to the newest Chi­nese- and Russ­ian-made air defens­es.

    The Air Force wants up to 100 new bombers armed with all the lat­est weapon­ry and radar-evad­ing stealth tech­nol­o­gy — and plen­ty of fuel. For the new war­planes must be able to fly long dis­tances, pen­e­trate even the heav­i­est defens­es and destroy scores of tar­gets in a sin­gle bomb­ing run.

    That doesn’t mean, how­ev­er, that the Pen­ta­gon real­ly believes it will be fight­ing a war against Rus­sia or Chi­na. Defense plan­ners instead want the new bombers to rein­vig­o­rate a once-key con­cept that the mil­i­tary has allowed to atro­phy: con­ven­tion­al deter­rence.

    By deploy­ing high-tech arma­ments of such fear­some non­nu­clear destruc­tive pow­er, the mere pres­ence of such weapons should give pause to U.S. ene­mies. This would buy time so diplo­mats could nego­ti­ate to work out major con­flicts with­out any­one resort­ing to vio­lence.

    Bomber gen­e­sis

    The new bomber has been a long time in the mak­ing. As ear­ly as 2004, Air Force plan­ners began talk­ing about buy­ing new heavy war­planes and intro­duc­ing them into ser­vice as ear­ly as 2018. The planes would part­ly replace B‑52s, which were built in the 1960s, B‑1s, which date to the 1980s, and 1990s-vin­tage B‑2s.

    But in 2010, then-Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates put the bomber effort on hold; he cit­ed the Air Force’s ten­den­cy to devel­op over­ly com­plex and expen­sive war­planes. The fly­ing branch had intend­ed to buy 132 of the radar-evad­ing B‑2s. But the stratos­pher­ic costs and post-Cold War bud­get cuts made that goal unre­al­is­tic. The Air Force end­ed up get­ting just 21 B‑2s, at a price of more than $2 bil­lion a plane, includ­ing research and devel­op­ment costs.

    The Pen­ta­gon allowed the Air Force to restart bomber devel­op­ment in 2011, but with a firm cap on the costs. Each of the up to 100 new bombers could cost no more than $550 mil­lion, or rough­ly $800 mil­lion, includ­ing research and devel­op­ment. Northrop Grum­man, which built the B‑2, is com­pet­ing against a con­sor­tium of Boe­ing and Lock­heed Mar­tin for the con­tract, which should be award­ed lat­er this year.

    The Air Force is aim­ing for the new bombers to be on air base ramps by the mid-2020s — just a decade after the sign­ing of the con­tract. This in an era when major war­plane pro­grams can take 20 years or more from con­tract to field­ing.

    “We have to build afford­abil­i­ty, right from the begin­ning, into our new pro­grams, when­ev­er we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so,” Air Force Sec­re­tary Deb­o­rah Lee James said in a 2014 press con­fer­ence, “… [T]hat’s what we did with the Long-Range Strike Bomber.”

    The rel­a­tive­ly low cost and quick deploy­ment time­line are fea­si­ble because the Air Force is urg­ing the indus­try teams to include as much exist­ing, or “mature,” tech­nol­o­gy as pos­si­ble in their designs — rather than rein­vent­ing every­thing from scratch, as is often the case. One unnamed offi­cial told Aaron Mehta of Defense News that the new bomber has the “high­est lev­el of matu­ri­ty” he’d ever seen in a war­plane pro­gram.

    This new­found dis­ci­pline reflects the Pentagon’s seri­ous inter­est in acquir­ing new bombers. The mil­i­tary has come to believe that new bombers will play a cru­cial role in pre­vent­ing full-scale war between the major pow­ers.

    Peace through strength

    That wasn’t always the case.

    In the ear­ly 2000s, the Defense Depart­ment had pro­posed to wait until 2037 for a new bomber. That made sense at the time. Rus­sia was still suf­fer­ing eco­nom­ic hard­ship and polit­i­cal dys­func­tion. Moscow had yet to begin assert­ing itself mil­i­tar­i­ly as it has since in Geor­gia, Ukraine, Syr­ia and oth­er coun­tries along its periph­ery.

    China’s eco­nom­ic and mil­i­tary expan­sion was then just begin­ning. Bei­jing was still years away from mak­ing force­ful claims in the Chi­na Seas.

    Mean­while, the Unit­ed States was fight­ing major coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paigns in Iraq and Afghanistan against low-tech foes who had no means of shoot­ing down high-fly­ing bombers. The Air Force’s B‑2s, B‑1s and B‑52s were able to fly mis­sions over Iraq and Afghanistan with­out crews hav­ing to wor­ry much about ene­my defens­es. There was no com­pelling need for a high-tech new bomber — as long as the old­er bombers were still per­fect­ly ade­quate for the wars at hand.

    Today, U.S. mil­i­tary strat­e­gy — and the world’s — has changed. The U.S. occu­pa­tion of Iraq has con­clud­ed; the West’s coali­tion in Afghanistan end­ed its front­line ground-com­bat mis­sion in late 2014. U.S. war­planes, includ­ing B‑1s, are wag­ing an inten­sive air cam­paign against Islam­ic State mil­i­tants in Iraq and Syr­ia. But in July, the Air Force sec­re­tary said a resur­gent Rus­sia was the biggest threat to U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty, a sen­ti­ment that Marine Corps Gen­er­al Joseph Dun­ford, the new chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed the same month.

    The Pen­ta­gon is devel­op­ing the Long Range Strike Bomber with this new threat assess­ment in mind. “We need to get ahead of the curve when it comes to the enor­mous and very rapid change that we’re see­ing in our world,” James said in her press con­fer­ence last year. “We have to main­tain that tech­no­log­i­cal edge.”

    Rus­sia pro­duces the best sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tems in the world, and China’s mis­siles are near­ly as good. To pose any sub­stan­tive oppo­si­tion to Russ­ian and Chi­nese forces, the Long Range Strike Bomber needs to be able to pen­e­trate these defens­es by avoid­ing detec­tion. The new bomber is intend­ed to be stealth­i­er than the famous­ly elu­sive B‑2, sources told Defense News. The B‑2’s “fly­ing wing” shape and spe­cial sur­face coat­ing are designed to scat­ter some radar waves and absorb oth­ers, help­ing min­i­mize the plane’s “sig­na­ture” on ene­my radar scopes.

    But for all this effort in tai­lor­ing the Long Range Strike Bomber to defeat Russ­ian and Chi­nese defens­es, the Pen­ta­gon still hopes the new war­plane will nev­er drop a bomb on either one. They instead talk about it as hav­ing a sta­bi­liz­ing effect.

    Cri­sis sta­bil­i­ty

    The Air Force has good rea­son to sub­scribe to this the­o­ry, as coun­ter­in­tu­itive as it might sound. In 2013, the avi­a­tion branch com­mis­sioned For­rest E. Mor­gan, an ana­lyst at the RAND Cor­po­ra­tion, a Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­cy orga­ni­za­tion, to deter­mine how well cer­tain mil­i­tary forces could sta­bi­lize an esca­lat­ing inter­na­tion­al cri­sis with­out ever fir­ing a shot.

    “Cri­sis sta­bil­i­ty and the means of achiev­ing and main­tain­ing it — cri­sis man­age­ment — are not about warfight­ing,” Mor­gan wrote. “They are about build­ing and pos­tur­ing forces in ways that allow a state, if con­front­ed, to avoid war with­out back­ing down.”

    The Cuban mis­sile cri­sis is one promi­nent, if imper­fect, exam­ple that Mor­gan ana­lyzed in his study. In response to the U.S. nuclear buildup in Europe, the Sovi­et Union, in 1962, began build­ing mis­sile sites in Cuba. Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy deployed U.S. forces around Cuba, and the Sovi­ets backed down — after Kennedy agreed to dis­man­tle some U.S. nuclear mis­siles in Europe.

    Mil­i­tary shows of force around Cuba, if at times risky and clum­sy, posi­tioned both the Unit­ed States and the Sovi­et Union to be able to reach a peace­ful set­tle­ment with­out either side suf­fer­ing humil­i­a­tion.

    The Unit­ed States and oth­er coun­tries took the same approach to major poten­tial con­flicts through­out the 20th cen­tu­ry. But cri­sis-man­age­ment prac­tices fell out of favor fol­low­ing the Sovi­et Union’s col­lapse in 1991.

    Morgan’s study urges a revival. “The reemer­gence of great-pow­er com­peti­tors,” he warned, “will make dan­ger­ous inter­state con­fronta­tions increas­ing­ly like­ly in the future.” Mor­gan exam­ined oth­er his­tor­i­cal exam­ples and com­pared how the deploy­ment of dif­fer­ent weapons — bombers, fight­er jets and mis­sile-armed sub­marines — helped ease ten­sions by mak­ing actu­al com­bat unthink­ably cost­ly. Some­times, how­ev­er, it also wors­ened them, by sur­pris­ing the ene­my and forc­ing a pan­icky reac­tion.

    “Sta­bil­i­ty requires forces that are pow­er­ful enough to deter a poten­tial ene­my,” Mor­gan wrote, “but employ­able in ways that min­i­mize their expo­sure to sur­prise attack.”

    Morgan’s con­clu­sion is unequiv­o­cal. Fight­er jets, capa­ble of fly­ing only short dis­tances, must deploy so close to the ene­my that they could attack — and be attacked – quick­ly. This makes a desta­bi­liz­ing sur­prise attack dan­ger­ous­ly tempt­ing for what Mor­gan calls a “risk-tol­er­ant” coun­try.

    Sub­marines, because they are under­wa­ter most of the time and thus invis­i­ble, can prove even more sur­pris­ing — and thus desta­bi­liz­ing. What’s more, a sub­ma­rine can’t “sig­nal,” to bor­row Morgan’s term. Sig­nal­ing is when a coun­try delib­er­ate­ly but care­ful­ly deploys high­ly vis­i­ble forces as a state­ment to its ene­my that doesn’t want to go to war — but could if diplo­ma­cy fails.

    Long-range bombers deployed far from ene­my shores are the most sta­bi­liz­ing weapon­ry, in Morgan’s assess­ment. “Bombers gen­er­ate a potent deter­rent threat,” he wrote, “with­out expos­ing U.S. forces to an inor­di­nate amount of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to sur­prise attack.”

    But there’s a catch here. To back up their threat, the bombers must actu­al­ly be capa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing ene­my defens­es — and that dis­qual­i­fies old­er mod­els, accord­ing to Mor­gan. To keep the peace between major pow­ers, the Air Force needs a high-tech new bomber that, iron­i­cal­ly, is ful­ly capa­ble of wreak­ing hav­oc on U.S. ene­mies.

    If this all works as expect­ed, in com­ing months the Pen­ta­gon will tap a con­trac­tor to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. A decade lat­er, those bombers will be avail­able to deploy in crises pit­ting the Unit­ed States against a fel­low world pow­er. Then, if all goes accord­ing to plan, the fear­some new bombers will nev­er, ever drop a sin­gle bomb.

    “Then, if all goes accord­ing to plan, the fear­some new bombers will nev­er, ever drop a sin­gle bomb.”
    Well that’s a nice thought.

    Ok, so let’s review: A 2013 study con­clud­ed that the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis, where mutu­al­ly assured destruc­tion that could­n’t be thwart­ed by a sur­prise attack was a key fac­tor in both sides’ deci­sion-mak­ing, is a mod­el for future con­flicts because both sides were giv­en enough time to resolve the con­flict with­out humil­i­a­tion by mak­ing mutu­al con­ces­sions:

    ...
    “Cri­sis sta­bil­i­ty and the means of achiev­ing and main­tain­ing it — cri­sis man­age­ment — are not about warfight­ing,” Mor­gan wrote. “They are about build­ing and pos­tur­ing forces in ways that allow a state, if con­front­ed, to avoid war with­out back­ing down.”

    The Cuban mis­sile cri­sis is one promi­nent, if imper­fect, exam­ple that Mor­gan ana­lyzed in his study. In response to the U.S. nuclear buildup in Europe, the Sovi­et Union, in 1962, began build­ing mis­sile sites in Cuba. Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy deployed U.S. forces around Cuba, and the Sovi­ets backed down — after Kennedy agreed to dis­man­tle some U.S. nuclear mis­siles in Europe.

    Mil­i­tary shows of force around Cuba, if at times risky and clum­sy, posi­tioned both the Unit­ed States and the Sovi­et Union to be able to reach a peace­ful set­tle­ment with­out either side suf­fer­ing humil­i­a­tion.
    ...

    And the best mil­i­tary hard­ware for repeat­ing that kind of cri­sis nego­ti­a­tion-stance open is the devel­op­ment of a super bomber that can’t be eas­i­ly attack in a sur­prise attack and can con­fi­dent­ly make it through ene­my air defens­es:

    ...
    Morgan’s con­clu­sion is unequiv­o­cal. Fight­er jets, capa­ble of fly­ing only short dis­tances, must deploy so close to the ene­my that they could attack — and be attacked – quick­ly. This makes a desta­bi­liz­ing sur­prise attack dan­ger­ous­ly tempt­ing for what Mor­gan calls a “risk-tol­er­ant” coun­try.

    Sub­marines, because they are under­wa­ter most of the time and thus invis­i­ble, can prove even more sur­pris­ing — and thus desta­bi­liz­ing. What’s more, a sub­ma­rine can’t “sig­nal,” to bor­row Morgan’s term. Sig­nal­ing is when a coun­try delib­er­ate­ly but care­ful­ly deploys high­ly vis­i­ble forces as a state­ment to its ene­my that doesn’t want to go to war — but could if diplo­ma­cy fails.

    Long-range bombers deployed far from ene­my shores are the most sta­bi­liz­ing weapon­ry, in Morgan’s assess­ment. “Bombers gen­er­ate a potent deter­rent threat,” he wrote, “with­out expos­ing U.S. forces to an inor­di­nate amount of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to sur­prise attack.”

    But there’s a catch here. To back up their threat, the bombers must actu­al­ly be capa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing ene­my defens­es — and that dis­qual­i­fies old­er mod­els, accord­ing to Mor­gan. To keep the peace between major pow­ers, the Air Force needs a high-tech new bomber that, iron­i­cal­ly, is ful­ly capa­ble of wreak­ing hav­oc on U.S. ene­mies.
    ...

    So an updat­ed “Peace through strength” the­o­ry, based on a 2013 RAND employ­ee study, appears to be part of what’s jus­ti­fy­ing the stepped-up sched­ule for the devel­op­ment of the US’s next-gen­er­a­tion bomber. It’s a the­o­ry that sug­gests sta­bil­i­ty in con­flicts between great pow­ers requires that each side fears the destruc­tive pow­er of the oth­er enough to pause the esca­la­tion of the con­flict and, hope­ful­ly, give enough time for a nego­ti­a­tion. And an unstop­pable stealth bomber is the key to achiev­ing that sta­bil­i­ty. It’s an inter­est­ing the­o­ry, espe­cial­ly since it’s based on the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis.

    But regard­less of the valid­i­ty of the the­o­ry, it’s not like the US (or any major mil­i­tary force) is going to require a the­o­ry to jus­ti­fy a next gen­er­a­tion super stealth bomber. Super stealth bombers sort of sell them­selves, espe­cial­ly if they’re cheap­er than the last gen­er­a­tion of super stealth bombers.

    And, yes, while the bomber is being sold as a cut­ting edge air­craft for wag­ing con­ven­tion­al com­bat using non-nuclear muni­tions, it’ll be equipped to non-con­ven­tion­al muni­tions too. Like nukes. Or direct­ed ener­gy weapons. And maybe a virus:

    Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics
    Why You Should Care About Amer­i­ca’s Next Bomber

    Today the Air Force announced Northrop Grum­man as its choice to build the new Long Range Strike Bomber. The plane will be an imme­di­ate icon of Amer­i­can pow­er, mil­i­tarism, advanced technology—and deep pock­ets.

    By Joe Pap­palar­do
    Oct 27, 2015 @ 5:52 PM

    For defense wonks, today was big­ger than Christ­mas. After all, that hol­i­day comes once a year. The cre­ation of a new stealth bomber is once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion, and today the U.S. Air Force announced that Northrop Grum­man won a con­tract that amounts to $55 bil­lion or more to build the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB.) That amount could grow to as much as $100 bil­lion over time.

    The com­pa­ny beat a team formed by Boe­ing and Lock­heed Mar­tin to build what Sec­re­tary of Defense Ash­ton Carter called the “back­bone” of the Air Force’s abil­i­ty to strike and deter ene­mies. Northrop’s LSRB is sched­uled to have “ini­tial oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty” in 2025, and fly for real start­ing in 2040. There is no mis­sion des­ig­na­tor for this air­craft yet. It will cost $564 mil­lion per plane in cur­rent year dol­lars.

    There’s more to this than just a new war­plane. The LRSB is also a cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic event with endur­ing rip­ple effects. It will set the stan­dard for mil­i­tary avi­a­tion; become the chief talk­ing point for bit­ter debates over defense acqui­si­tion; influ­ence nuclear weapons arse­nals in Rus­sia and Chi­na; kick for­eign espi­onage efforts into high­er gear… and all of this will hap­pen before a pro­to­type even flies.

    In a sign of the pro­gram’s impor­tance to aero­space indus­try and U.S. econ­o­my, the Air Force inten­tion­al­ly delayed today’s announce­ment until stock mar­kets closed to avoid dis­rup­tions when the news broke, accord­ing to Pen­ta­gon sources. Shares of Northrop Grum­man were up 6.3% in after-hours trad­ing.

    The only peo­ple who would have been sure-fire win­ners no mat­ter what the out­come today are the locals in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where the con­tenders devel­op secret war­planes. No mat­ter who won, this aero­space devel­op­ment pro­gram was fat­ed to reshape the econ­o­my in the Palm­dale area and spawn a gen­er­a­tion of engi­neers.

    But the entire world is pay­ing atten­tion to this pro­gram, or soon will be. New mil­i­tary planes come and go, but an Amer­i­can bomber is in its own league. Like air­craft car­ri­ers, they sym­bol­ize the Unit­ed States’ abil­i­ty to go any­where in the world and exert its influ­ence, no mat­ter who or what is in the way. Or, to bor­row a phrase from the Air Force, the Pen­ta­gon wants to reas­sure the Com­man­der-in-Chief that they can “hold any tar­get in the world at risk.”

    If the USAF wants to make good on its promise to blow up any­thing, any­where, it will need this new hard­ware to get it done. The Air Force’s newest bomber, the B‑2 Spir­it, rolled off the assem­bly line in 1988. The air­craft that the LRSB is meant to replace are get­ting old—the aver­age B‑52 Strato­fortress is more than 50 years old, and the B‑1 Lancer fleet has a mean age of 27 years. These work­horse man-killers will fly until 2040, when the new bomber is ready for action.

    But how do we even know what that fight will look like in 2040? We don’t. “We’re design­ing the air­craft to be adapt­able,” said Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

    What lit­tle we know about the LRSB already paints a pic­ture of a bleak future glimpsed by the USAF trend-spot­ters: Advanced radar and dead­ly sur­face-to-air mis­siles will guard tar­gets, mak­ing full-aspect stealth shap­ing and radar absorb­ing mate­ri­als nec­es­sary in a strike bomber. Senior Air Force offi­cials have told Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics that the bomber will be rat­ed to car­ry nuclear weapons, acknowl­edg­ing the endur­ing exis­ten­tial threat posed by Rus­sia, Chi­na, and North Korea. The ini­tial focus on car­ry­ing con­ven­tion­al weapons envi­sions a future of deep strike mis­sions using pre­ci­sion-guid­ed muni­tions.

    When peo­ple in 2045 wear “Peace through Supe­ri­or Fire­pow­er” T‑shirts, they’ll be sten­ciled with an out­line of the LRS­B’s pro­file.

    This bomber will have to accom­mo­date exot­ic weapon­ry, such as direct­ed ener­gy beams, advanced decoys, and com­put­er virus­es. “A plat­form with ter­rif­ic pen­e­trat­ing capa­bil­i­ty and won­der­ful avion­ics, from a cyber-war­fare stand­point, is a fan­tas­tic asset,” aero­space ana­lyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group told Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics.

    ...

    “This bomber will have to accom­mo­date exot­ic weapon­ry, such as direct­ed ener­gy beams, advanced decoys, and com­put­er virus­es. “A plat­form with ter­rif­ic pen­e­trat­ing capa­bil­i­ty and won­der­ful avion­ics, from a cyber-war­fare stand­point, is a fan­tas­tic asset,” aero­space ana­lyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group told Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics.

    Well, drop­ping a com­put­er virus is prob­a­bly a much bet­ter option than drop­ping a nuke, so let’s hope the Cuban mis­sile crises of the future most­ly involve threats of super bombers car­ry­ing nasty virus­es. Keep your fin­gers crossed!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 27, 2015, 7:15 pm

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