Sunday, March 18, 2018

US Navy Remains Committed to Railguns

Following a flurry of reports in December predicting the Navy's $500 million electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told lawmakers this week that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.

"[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it," Adm. John Richardson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a Wednesday hearing on Navy and Marine Corps budget issues. "We've demonstrated it at lower firing rates and ... shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range."

Richardson was responding to a question from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who expressed concern about the proven capability of the Navy's railgun weapon, which has yet to leave its test site at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stealth Saga #73

Sixth Generation Fighter:

The US Air Force is warning the 6th gen fighter must arrive much faster than the F-35 did or it will be irrelevant.

China has begun work on its 6th gen fighter.


Japan is sending out an RFI for information from US aerospace companies to help build the follow-on to the F-2 fighter the second week of March 2018.

The next gen Japanese fighter will be based off a Western design.


The Anglo-French Future Combat Air System may be a casualty of Brexit.


The Indians are requiring any winning bid for the new fighters India wants to have help developing India's 5th generation stealth fighter.


The Russians have disclosed they sent the Su-57 to Syria to test radar and EW systems.  The aircraft has not been cleared for combat.

The Russians are now claiming they have withdrawn the Su-57s.

Israel is very concerned about the Su-57s in Syria.

A report claimed the Russians will be designing a new aircraft for use on its current (and possible future) carriers rather than use the Su-57.  However, the UAC came out and stated they are ready to make the Su-57 carrier compatible.


Is Tupolev struggling with being unable to find enough engineers and technically skilled people to build the PAK-DA?


The J-20 is not using the new engines (WS-15) designed by the Chinese.  The new engines are having problems during the development.  It seems to be related to metallurgy for the fan blades.

The J-20 was intended to be used as an air supremacy fighter, but will be developed into other variants like what was done with the F-15.


China's Shenyang Corporation has completed another J-31 prototype.  It should be noted the Chinese are calling the J-31 a research effort and not, as we americans call it, a program of record.  The J-31 designation is considered unofficial.


The prototype B-21 bomber(s) are being hinted at being unveiled because they need to be tested at Edwards AFB soon.

The B-21 is having some issues, but coming along well.  Supposedly.  The so-called Iron Bird is probably already flying based on reports from elsewhere.  This is how it gets transitioned into the White World.


The F-22 demo team changed pilots.

Watch an F-22 do an inverted somersault.

Listen to an F-22 pilot gas up his plane.

The F-22 pilot that reported the hypoxia problems may have been retaliated against.


The USMC is about to embark on the maiden operational deployment of the F-35B on the USS Wasp.

Watch the F-35Bs arrive on the USS Wasp.  The USS Wasp is headed to South Korea next month for exercises.

USMC Commandant is calling the F-35B key to the Marines.

The US Navy is getting frustrated it cannot connect the F-35 logistics software to its own.

Lockheed is being called 'uncooperative' on the F-35 contract.

Lockheed received an additional $148 million contract for more logistical support for the F-35.

Lockheed claims the F-35 will have really good readiness rates.

The Pentagon is doing a deep dive to figure out how to reduce the F-35's costs.

The F-35's costs are dropping, but not fast enough for the Pentagon.

The F-35 costs issues are fixable, but...

Half of F-35 manufacturing defects are stealth related.

Continued development and sustainment costs for the F-35 will be $1 billion annually.

US lawmakers quizzed the Pentagon over the F-35 costs.

The cost of the Block 4 software is increasing.

The Pentagon is seeking 400 GBU-49s for the F-35.

The US Navy gave Lockheed a $149 million contract mod.

One of the founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream was arrested for protesting the deployment of F-35s to Vermont.

The head of the Luftwaffe, German air force, is losing his job (in large part) for advocating the F-35 for Germany.

The Indian Air Force denies it asked for a briefing on the F-35.  However, the head of the US Pacific Command has stated he'd like to see India buy the jet.

Israeli F-35As may have made their combat debut in Syria.  The Israelis won't confirm, but won't deny either.

The Italian F-35As have gone IOC.

An Italian party that has vowed to end Italy's participation in the F-35 may gain power.

The Japanese Defense Minister stated he was the one who authorized the study of placing F-35Bs on the Izumo.

Taiwan still hopes to buy F-35B.

Terma has joined the F-35 avionics test center.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Google Announced a 72 qubit quantum computer

Google announced a 72-qubit universal quantum computer that promises the same low error rates the company saw in its first 9-qubit quantum computer. Google believes that this quantum computer, called Bristlecone, will be able to bring us to an age of quantum supremacy.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Africa was Wetter During the Medieval Warm Period


Lüning et al


The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) is a recognized period of distinct pre-industrial climate change, with a core period of 1000–1200 CE. The field of palaeoclimatology has made major progress over the past 15 years during which a great number of high- and medium-resolution case studies were published, reconstructing climate change of the past millennia. In many parts of the world, regional data coverage has now reached a point which allows compiling palaeoclimate maps for well-defined time intervals. Here we present hydroclimatic trend maps for the MCA in Africa based on 99 published study locations. Key hydroclimatic proxy curves are visualized and compared in a series of 16 correlation panels. Proxy types are described and possible issues discussed. Based on the combined MCA dataset, temporal and spatial trends are interpreted and mapped out. Three areas have been identified in Africa in which rainfall seems to have increased during the MCA, namely Tunisia, western Sahel and the majority of southern Africa. At the same time, a reduction in precipitation occurred in the rest of Africa, comprising of NW and NE Africa, West Africa, Eastern Africa and the Winter Rainfall Zone of South Africa. MCA hydroclimate change in Africa appears to have been associated with characteristic phases of ocean cycles, as also supported by modern climate observations. Aridity in Morocco typically coincides with the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), whilst increased rainfall in the western Sahel is often coupled to the positive phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Reduction in rainfall in the region Gulf of Aden/southern Red Sea to Eastern Africa could be linked to a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) or a derived long-term equivalent Indian Ocean cycle parameter. The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) appears to have been shifted pole-wards during the MCA, for both the January and July positions. MCA hydroclimate mapping revealed major data gaps in the Sahara, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, northern Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Special efforts are needed to fill these gaps, e.g. through a dedicated structured research program in which new multiproxy datasets are created, based on the learnings from previous African MCA studies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Russia Shows off a Claimed Hypersonic Missile Test

Russia's deputy defense minister has offered new details on the new hypersonic missile announced by President Putin in a recent speech to lawmakers. This reported by Sputnik.

The Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missile system, capable of rendering useless all existing and prospective anti-missile systems, is also able to destroy large, moving sea-based targets such as aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov has confirmed.

"This is a class of precision weapons which has a multifunctional warhead capable of striking at both stationary and moving targets," Borisov said, speaking to Krasnaya Zvezda, the defense ministry's official newspaper.

Confirming that the Kinzhal ('Dagger') system is based on the MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft, the general explained that that plane "takes off into the air, accelerates to a certain speed at a high altitude, and then the missile begins its own autonomous movement."

According to Borisov, the system's capability to reach speeds of about Mach 10 "allows [the missile] to approach its target quickly, in contrast to cruise missiles, which fly at an average cruising speed of about 850-900 km/h."


The Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted the first successful test firing of the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile according to state sponsored media outlets.

The missile, supposedly named Kh-47M2 and referred to as the “Kinzhal”, was fired from a modified MiG-31BM (NATO reporting name “Foxhound”) over Southwest Russia. A report published on Facebook by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the “unique” MiG-31 that fired the missile had been “modernized”. Rogozin did not specify what modifications or “modernized” meant.

In video and still photos portions of the weapon seen in the test launch are obscured by imaging software, presumably for security purposes.


Note!  This is a missile that is NOT scramjet powered.  There are no inlets.  This is just a traditional missile that goes fast.  That limits its range.  It's also not all that different in some ways than an ATACMS missile: this is a ballistic missile the US Army uses, one that has been used to accelerate our scramjet testbeds up to mach 5+.  The Russian missile is not a huge innovation as such.  The Indian Brahmos-II is more of one, honestly.  Note: the Russians were jointly developing the Brahmos-II with the Indians when they suddenly jacked up the price on the Indians.  The Indians went it alone since.

Inhabitants of Vanuatu Were Replaced, but Their Language Lives on

The study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution and led by a multidisciplinary research team at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) together with researchers in France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Vanuatu, reveals that migrations of people from the Bismarck Archipelago in Oceania to the previously settled islands of the Pacific began as early as 2,500 years ago, much earlier than previously thought. The Remote Oceanian island nation of Vanuatu is the gateway to the rest of the Pacific and understanding its demographic history is critical to uncovering that of the wider region. The earliest inhabitants of Vanuatu, arriving about 3,000 years ago, were the Lapita peoples who spoke a form of Austronesian language and who had largely East Asian genetic ancestry. But Vanuatu's contemporary population has largely Near Oceanian heritage, showing that over time the genetic ancestry of the early inhabitants was mostly replaced by that of Bismarck Archipelago migrants, who began arriving very soon after initial settlement. Yet the original Austronesian language persisted and over 120 descendant languages continue to be spoken today, making Vanuatu the per capita most linguistically diverse place on Earth. Vanuatu therefore presents an unprecedented case, where a population's genetic ancestry but not its languages were replaced. Through analyses of new ancient and modern genome-wide data, the researchers show that rather than occurring in one wave, the genetic replacement was long and complex, likely the result of a sustained long-distance contact between Near and Remote Oceania. This provides demographic support for a model from historical linguistics, in which the initial Austronesian language of Vanuatu survived by being continually adopted by incoming Papuan migrants.

The Austronesian Expansion, which began around 5,500 years ago likely in modern-day Taiwan, was the most geographically extensive dispersal of farming peoples in prehistory, ultimately carrying people as far west as Madagascar and all the way east to Rapa Nui. These seafaring Neolithic people initially expanded out across Island Southeast Asia, carrying farming technology and a major branch of the Austronesian language family, eventually reaching Near Oceania where they encountered the indigenous Papuan peoples of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. The initial settlement east beyond the Solomon Islands and out into Remote Oceania only began around 3,000 years ago, with Austronesian-speaking groups associated with the Lapita pottery culture rapidly expanding east out to Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and the islands of Western Polynesia. A previous ancient DNA study of Lapita burial sites has shown that these earliest inhabitants had East Asian ancestry with negligible evidence of Papuan genetic admixture. But the present-day genetic make-up of Remote Oceania suggests at least some degree of Papuan ancestry, meaning there must have been subsequent Papuan migration and admixture into the Pacific from Near Oceania.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

There was a Huge Steppe Migration into Europe Circa 3,300 BC

Consider the unexpected movement of people who originally lived on the steppes of Central Asia, north of the Black and Caspian seas. About 5,300 years ago, the local hunter-gatherer cultures were replaced in many places by nomadic herders, dubbed the Yamnaya, who were able to expand rapidly by exploiting horses and the new invention of the cart, and who left behind big, rich burial sites.

Archeologists have long known that some of the technologies used by the Yamnaya later spread to Europe. But the startling revelation from the ancient DNA was that the people moved, too - all the way to the Atlantic coast of Europe in the west to Mongolia in the east and India in the south. This vast migration helps explain the spread of Indo-European languages. And it significantly replaced the local hunter-gatherer genes across Europe with the indelible stamp of steppe DNA, as happened in Britain with the migration of the Bell Beaker people to the island.

"This whole phenomenon of the steppe expansion is an amazing example of what ancient DNA can show," says Reich. And, adds Cunliffe, "no one, not even archeologists in their wildest dreams, had expected such a high steppe genetic content in the populations of northern Europe in the third millennium B.C."

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Copper Age Iberian Bell Beaker Culture Exported Culture & Technology, not Genes

Prehistoric Iberians 'exported' their culture throughout Europe, reaching Great Britain, Sicily, Poland and all over central Europe in general. However, they did not export their genes. The Beaker culture, which probably originated in Iberia, left remains in those parts of the continent. However, that diffusion was not due to large migrations of populations that took this culture with them. These are the conclusions of an international study in which the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) was involved. Its findings, published in the journal Nature, indicate no evidence of any genetic outflow from Iberia to those areas has been discovered. "Therefore, the diffusion of the Beaker culture from Iberia is the first example of a culture being transmitted as an idea, basically due to a question of social prestige (since it was associated with the virtues of being virile and of being warriors), which is why it is adopted by other populations", indicates researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, a mixed research centre run by CSIC and the Pompeu Fabra University, in Barcelona, Spain.

Between 4,700 and 4,400 years ago, a new type of bell-shaped beaker pottery was introduced throughout western and central Europe. For more than a century, archaeologists have been trying to determine whether the spread of this beaker pottery - and the (Beaker) culture associated with it - represented a large-scale migration or whether it was due simply to the exchange of new ideas. Now, this new study, which includes DNA data from 400 prehistoric skeletons collected from sites across Europe, resolves the debate of whether the spread was due to migrations or ideas, indicating that both arguments are correct. The findings show that the culture which produced these bell-shaped beakers extended from Iberia to central Europe without a significant movement of populations, although the Beaker culture would spread to other places through migrations at a later date.

The study, whose first author is the Spanish researcher Íñigo Olalde, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, shows that once the (Bell) Beaker culture reaches the centre of Europe (around Germany and its surrounding area), it expands backwards to other places, notably to the British Isles. Yet, in this case, it does represent a migration, replacing around 90% of the population with it. "That is to say, the Neolithic people who built Stonehenge (and who had a greater genetic similarity with Neolithic Iberians than with those from Central Europe) almost disappear and are replaced by the populations from the Beaker culture from the Netherlands and Germany. This replacement is almost absolute in terms of the Y chromosome, which is transmitted by the paternal line, indicating an extreme reproductive bias, and therefore a previously unheard of social dominance. The backward flow also reaches other places such as Italy (at least in the north) and Iberia. I believe it is possible that this is also associated with the expansion of the Celtic or Proto-Celtic languages," Mr. Lalueza-Fox points out.