Dry Dock Flooding

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 29, 2019) Huntington Ingalls Industries today began flooding the dry dock at its Newport News Shipbuilding division where the keel of aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) was laid in 2015. The controlled process of slowly filling the dry dock with more than 100 million gallons of water takes place over several days, and marks the first time the ship has been in water. Kennedy is expected to join the fleet in 2022.

The United States Super-Secret Nuclear Missile Base under the Polar Ice

Project Iceworm was the code name for a top-secret United States Army program during the Cold War to build a network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The ultimate objective of placing medium-range missiles under the ice — close enough to strike targets within the Soviet Union — was kept secret from the Danish government. To study the feasibility of working under the ice, a highly publicized “cover” project, known as Camp Century, was launched in 1960. Unsteady ice conditions within the ice sheet caused the project to be canceled in 1966.

 

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Details of the missile base project were secret for decades, but first came to light in January 1995 during an enquiry by the Danish Foreign Policy Institute (DUPI) into the history of the use and storage of nuclear weapons in Greenland. The enquiry was ordered by the Danish parliament following the release of previously classified information about the 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash that contradicted previous assertions by the Danish government.

 

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To test the feasibility of construction techniques a project site called “Camp Century” was started by the United States military, located at an elevation of 6,600 feet (2,000 m) in northwestern Greenland, 150 miles (240 km) from the American Thule Air Base. The radar and air base at Thule had already been in active use since 1951.

Camp Century was described at the time as a demonstration of affordable ice-cap military outposts. The secret Project Iceworm was to be a system of tunnels 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) in length, used to deploy up to 600 nuclear missiles, that would be able to reach the Soviet Union in case of nuclear war. The missile locations would be under the cover of Greenland’s ice sheet and were supposed to be periodically changed. While Project Iceworm was secret, plans for Camp Century were discussed with and approved by Denmark, and the facility, including its nuclear power plant, was profiled in The Saturday Evening Post magazine in 1960.

 

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The “official purpose” of Camp Century, as explained by the United States Department of Defense to Danish government officials in 1960, was to test various construction techniques under Arctic conditions, explore practical problems with a semi-mobile nuclear reactor, as well as supporting scientific experiments on the icecap. A total of 21 trenches were cut and covered with arched roofs within which prefabricated buildings were erected. With a total length of 3,000 metres (1.9 mi), these tunnels also contained a hospital, a shop, a theater and a church. The total number of inhabitants was around 200. From 1960 until 1963 the electricity supply was provided by means of the world’s first mobile/portable nuclear reactor, designated the PM-2A and designed by Alco for the U.S. Army. Water was supplied by melting glaciers and tested to determine whether germs such as the plague were present.

Within three years after it was excavated, ice core samples taken by geologists working at Camp Century demonstrated that the glacier was moving much faster than anticipated and would destroy the tunnels and planned launch stations in about two years. The facility was evacuated in 1965, and the nuclear generator removed. Project Iceworm was canceled, and Camp Century closed in 1966.

The project generated valuable scientific information and provided scientists with some of the first ice cores, still being used by climatologists today.

 

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According to the documents published by Denmark in 1997, the U.S. Army’s “Iceworm” missile network was outlined in a 1960 Army report titled “Strategic Value of the Greenland Icecap“. If fully implemented, the project would cover an area of 52,000 square miles (130,000 km2), roughly three times the size of Denmark. The launch complex floors would be 28 feet (8.5 m) below the surface, with the missile launchers even deeper, and clusters of missile launch centers would be spaced 4 miles (6.4 km) apart. New tunnels were to be dug every year, so that after five years there would be thousands of firing positions, among which the several hundred missiles could be rotated. The Army intended to deploy a shortened, two-stage version of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman missile, a variant the Army proposed calling the Iceman.

Although the Greenland icecap appears, on its surface, to be hard and immobile, snow and ice are viscoelastic materials, which slowly deform over time, depending on temperature and density. Despite its seeming stability, the icecap is, in fact, in constant, slow movement, spreading outward from the center. This spreading movement, over the course of a year, causes tunnels and trenches to narrow, as their walls deform and bulge, eventually leading to a collapse of the ceiling. By mid-1962 the ceiling of the reactor room within Camp Century had dropped and had to be lifted 5 feet (1.5 m). During a planned reactor shutdown for maintenance in late July 1963, the Army decided to operate Camp Century as a summer-only camp and did not reactivate the PM-2A reactor. The camp resumed operations in 1964 using its standby diesel power plant, the portable reactor was removed that summer, and the camp was abandoned altogether in 1966.

 

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When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall. A 2016 study found that the portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century will start to melt by the end of the century, if current trends continue. When the ice melts, the camp’s infrastructure, as well as any remaining biological, chemical and radioactive waste, will re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems.

 

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Got to give it to the Americans, they have big bold ideas. Sometimes not for the betterment of the world however.

The Doomsday Jet

The Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post, with the project name “Nightwatch”, is a strategic command and control military aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The E-4 series was specially modified from the Boeing 747-200B. The E-4 serves as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority, namely the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and successors. The four E-4Bs are operated by the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron of the 55th Wing located at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska. An E-4B is denoted a “National Airborne Operations Center” when in action, it is to be a command platform in the event of nuclear war.

 

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The E-4B is designed to survive an EMP with systems intact and has state-of-the-art direct fire countermeasures. Although many older aircraft have been upgraded with glass cockpits, the E-4B still uses traditional analog flight instruments, as they are less susceptible to damage from an EMP blast.[

The E-4B is capable of operating with a crew up to 112 people including flight and mission personnel, the largest crew of any aircraft in US Air Force history. With in-flight aerial refueling it is capable of remaining airborne for a considerable period (limited only by consumption of the engines’ lubricants and food supplies). In a test flight for endurance, the aircraft remained airborne and fully operational for 35.4 hours, however it was designed to remain airborne for a full week in the event of an emergency. It takes two fully loaded KC-135 tankers to fully refuel an E-4B. The E-4B has three operational decks: upper, middle, and lower.

 

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In January 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced a plan to retire the entire E-4B fleet starting in 2009. This was reduced to retiring one of the aircraft in February 2007. The next Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates reversed this decision in May 2007. This is due to the unique capabilities of the E-4B, which cannot be duplicated by any other single aircraft in Air Force service, and the cancellation in 2007 of the E-10 MC2A, which was considered as a successor to the EC-135 and E-8 aircraft, and could also perform many of the same tasks of the E-4B. As of the 2015 federal budget there were no plans for retiring the E-4B. The E-4B airframe has a usable life of 115K hours and 30K cycles, which would be reached in 2039; the maintenance limiting point would occur some time in the 2020s.

All four produced are operated by the U.S. Air Force, and are assigned to the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron (1ACCS) of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Maintenance and crews are provided by Air Combat Command. Operations are coordinated by the United States Strategic Command.

When the President travels outside of North America using a VC-25A as Air Force One, an E-4B will deploy to a second airport in the vicinity of the President’s destination, to be readily available in the event of a world crisis or an emergency that renders the VC-25A unusable. When the President visits Honolulu, Hawaii, an E-4B has often been stationed 200 miles away at Hilo International Airport on Hawaii Island.

 

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Battle Staff Cabin

 

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A right front view of an E-4 advanced airborne command post (AABNCP) on the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) simulator for testing.

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An electromagnetic pulse (EMP), also sometimes called a transient electromagnetic disturbance, is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. Such a pulse’s origination may be a natural occurrence or man-made and can occur as a radiated, electric or magnetic field or a conducted electric current, depending on the source.

EMP interference is generally disruptive or damaging to electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP event such as a lightning strike can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures. The management of EMP effects is an important branch of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering.

Weapons have been developed to create the damaging effects of high-energy EMP. These are typically divided into nuclear and non-nuclear devices. Such weapons, both real and fictional, have become known to the public by means of popular culture.

U.S. is developing new Super-Drone

DARPA is building a drone to provide ‘persistent’ surveillance virtually anywhere in the world

 

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is on track to unveil a working prototype of its “Tern” drone system in 2018 that could eventually give the Navy and Marines persistent surveillance and strike targeting “virtually anywhere in the world.”

If it’s implemented, the Tern program would see fully-autonomous drones on small-deck ships throughout the world that can take off and land vertically. Once in flight, they transition to wing-borne flight at medium 

altitude and become the eyes and ears for its ship for long periods of time.

Among the things the Navy wants is a drone that can provide surveillance capability and strike targets, but with greater range than a traditional helicopter. It also would likely be used to gather signals intelligence from foreign adversaries — one of the main missions for US submarine forces.

 

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Tern, short for Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, is a joint program between the Office of Naval Research and DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm. The agency just funded a second Tern test vehicle for the next year that’s being built by Northrup Grumman.

If all goes to plan, Tern will move to ground-based testing in early 2019, before being tested at sea later in the year.

“We’re making substantial progress toward our scheduled flight tests, with much of the hardware already fabricated and software development and integration in full swing,” Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in a statement.

“As we keep pressing into uncharted territory—no one has flown a large unmanned tailsitter before—we remain excited about the future capabilities a successful Tern demonstration could enable: organic, persistent, long-range reconnaissance, targeting, and strike support from most Navy ships.”

 

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Tern isn’t the only drone program DARPA is working on. The agency has also been working on something called “upward falling payloads,” a program that would station drones in water-tight containers around the world’s oceans until they are called to the surface.

Here’s a concept video of how Tern is supposed to operate:

Vladimir Putin’s War Room makes Dr. Strangelove War Room look Puny

Vladimir Putin’s massive, triple-decker war room revealed

 

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MOSCOW — “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the war room!”

It could have been a scene straight out of “Dr. Strangelove” when President Vladimir V. Putin stepped into the Russian Ministry of Defense’s brand new, three-tiered, multibillion-dollar control center this week, for a war briefing that had its fair share of movie-like pageantry.

The fortified National Control Defense Center was Putin’s first stop after officials confirmed that the Russian charter jet crash that claimed 224 lives last month was the result of an act of terror.

On movie-theater-size screens, live broadcasts showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly sorties over Syria. Putin instructed commanders in Syria to “make contact with the French and work with them as allies” as Russia seeks a central role in a proposed anti-terrorist coalition.

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But the real star of the show may have been the building itself, which is designed to be a new nerve center for the Russian military that will coordinate military action around the world, including ballistic missile launches and strategic nuclear deployments.

The building is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. National Military Command Center used by the Pentagon, but as one Russian state news agency noted in a breathless headline this week, “Russian Defense Data Center Outperforms US Facility Threefold: Official.”

The center, which is fortified and said to sit on top of a maze of underground tunnels, is on the Frunze Naberezhnaya on the left bank of the Moscow river, a little over two miles from Red Square.

 

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It was finished in 2014 and is part of a massive, decade-long modernization of Russia’s army, which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but has also produced noted improvements, from the expertise of Russian troops deployed during the Crimea operation to the recent cruise missile strikes launched from the Caspian Sea.

The new national defense center also includes a helicopter pad that was deployed on the Moscow River late last year and can accommodate Russia’s Mi-8 transport helicopter. In case of a war, it would be the country’s premier communications center, and one Russian commander compared it to the military headquarters of the Soviet Union during World War II.

 

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Another room with a large round table and more giant monitors.

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Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said that the center is a step toward “forming a single information space for solving tasks in the interests of the country’s defense.”

As Worldviews noted during Russia’s International Army Games in August, Russia’s military has sought to raise its public profile through savvy media branding.

At the briefing, army personnel sat in color-coded rows with matching headsets and water bottles bearing the Russian army brand (their flagship store recently opened on Tverskaya Street here, Moscow’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue). The briefing was covered on Russian national television from at least four distinct camera angles.

Andrei Kolesnikov, a reporter who has covered Putin for the past 15 years and is known for his lyrical, fawning reports of the Russian president, waxed introspective as he covered the briefing Tuesday.

“When this building and this room were opened a year ago, I was somewhat perplexed: Yes, it all looks very persuasive, and the Pentagon might even only dream of something like this, if only in a nightmare. But why? Who will need these screens the size of small soccer fields with grandstands for viewers?

 

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“And here was the answer. Every spot was filled. Russia’s entire high army command were the viewers. Or was it like the warming bench, and at any moment everyone was ready to go on the field …”

Later in the piece, he added: “My soul of course was not filled with delight and trembling at the hellish power of this armada. But I was perturbed, yes, I was.”

The War Rooms from the movies take a backseat to this giant high-tech cavern.

Dr. Strangelove

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WarGames 1983

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‘You Only Live Twice”, James Bond.

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