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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    attached image

    Reports from Gaza have Israel dropping leaflets advising residents to evacuate their homes and, using specific roads, make their way to Gaza City Center, BBC reports.

    This in the wake of last night's advisement that anyone leaving their home would be targeted.

    The leaflets this evening, though, advise the opposite:

    "For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre."

    The leaflets come on the eve of mainstream media reportage that seems to point at an imminent ceasefire — specifically CNN, which reported that Egypt said Israel will halt aggression within hours.

    Egypt, the largest of the Arab states, has been a major player in peace negotiations.

    Gaza Leaflet

    Now: See the three US ships ordered to turn around and rush to Israel >

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    Soviet CenterWhen the cold hard reality of Soviet communism filtered to the masses, Kremlin officials needed more than words to hold their ideals together, and their people in line. Aside from imposing a generally draconian way of life, the Communist Party erected great temples to itself — declarations of power and authority.

    Tour the Soviet past >

    Combining grand religiosity and pared down government efficiency, the propoganda centers and monuments of the day perhaps capture the essence of Soviet Communism better than any other buildings in the world.

    Though the principles that built the structures have proven hollow, these buildings represented genuine power and strength that affected the lives of millions. The presence left behind all these years later is something that must be experienced to be understood.

    Our friend and urban explorer Darmon Richter couldn't resist getting a feel for that presence himself, and takes us on a tour of the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship monument that towers over the Bulgarian coastline, looking out across the Black Sea. 

    Join him as he explains what he found.

    As I made my way up the long approach to Bulgaria's 'Park-Monument to the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship', I had no idea that I would soon find a way inside the monument itself.

    The old entrance was bricked up, but a small gap in the brickwork led onto a narrow flight of stairs.

    One wing of the trapezoid structure was hollow, with dim lighting filtering down through gaps placed high in the walls.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Soldier Firefight MK48

    A video posted recently by FUNKER530, a veteran who tracks firefights, shows just how lethal American combined arms can be on the battlefield.

    "Combined arms" is military terminology which denotes use of multiple assets — mortars, jets, ships, infantry — in a single engagement.

    Here we can see the importance of fielding well-equipped, intelligent troopers on the ground who can lay a base of fire on the enemy while simultaneously relaying strike coordinates to birds in the air.

    Or in other words a very brave dude, with a very capable gun, holding off some very doomed bad guys.

    The 'soldier' (service unidentified) here is using a MK-48 to suppress the enemy, located about 50 - 100 meters in two positions, off to his right and left.

    He dumps his full combat load of up to 300 rounds on the enemy, then takes a couple steps back to reload and refit.

    Other soldiers attempt to move up, but he advises they stay out of the fray. Instead he says ...

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    lindsey stone

    When we came across the photo yesterday of Lindsey Stone raising her middle finger at the Arlington National Cemetery, we decided to pass on making comment or adding to the viral storm around it. Gawker's refreshingly reasonable question was, should the woman in the picture, Lindsey Stone, have her life ruined over the photo?

    We figured she had enough on her plate without us adding to it.

    When my reporter Geoff and I, both military veterans, closed the page, we rolled our eyes and got on with the day.

    But as outrage grows — leading to posts across the Internet and Facebook groups devoted to getting her fired— I feel compelled to defend her.

    Stone was at the cemetery on an office trip. She's pretending to be neither silent or respectful next to a sign that demands she be both. As in, "Look it says I can't. But I am." I get it. I remember standing on the wall of a deep gorge in high school that had the words Do Not Stand here painted on it. I took a picture of my shoe beside them. These are silly, immature, little rebellions.

    Stone also apologizes in a followup Facebook post: "Whoa whoa whoa... wait. This is just us, being the douchebags that we are, challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign. OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to people that serve or have served our country."

    More importantly, if Lindsey Stone wants to rip on the Tomb of the Unknowns, me, my service, or the hundreds of mutilated troops I served with at Walter Reed Medical Center, she should be able to do so without fear of retribution. Freedom like that is what we fought for, and respecting other opinions is part of what the military tried to teach all of us who served.

    The blind adoration of the military and its personnel is getting creepy, and I'm talking from the inside looking out. While correcting the ugly way Vietnam veterans were treated is good, the over-compensation needs to stop. Putting on a uniform doesn't change who you are, and questioning institutions and individuals, including the military and its troops, is good and healthy.

    Aaron O'Connel, a Marine officer and instructor at the Naval Academy, had this to say about the topic in a NYT op-ed a couple weeks ago that definitely warrants a full reading:

    Like all institutions, the military works to enhance its public image, but this is just one element of militarization. Most of the political discourse on military matters comes from civilians, who are more vocal about “supporting our troops” than the troops themselves. It doesn’t help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II. Those who have served are less likely to offer unvarnished praise for the military, for it, like all institutions, has its own frustrations and failings. But for non-veterans — including about four-fifths of all members of Congress — there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high. ...

    Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.

    Stone has genuinely apologized, and so has her father. Her employer also publicly responded, distancing itself from the situation. Maybe a little gracious dignity is in order and the lady should be taken at her word. 

    If anyone thinks that's asking too much, check out the comments on the Fire Lindsey Stone Facebook page to see that just maybe this "Uncritical support of all things martial" has gone far enough.

    Good luck Lindsey. Give 'em hell, and don't stop challenging authority. Someone has to do it.

    Now: Check out this badass firefight that comes 'Danger Close' >

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    Tel Aviv Bus

    A bus exploded in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv just after noon local time.

    At least 21 people have been wounded, according to the LA Times.

    According to Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Netanyahu's official spokesperson, "This was a terrorist attack."

    The militant wing of Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    The cease fire agreement between Gaza and Israel was already on the rocks, but coordinated attacks within Israel's borders sends any possibility of a truce more into the distance. Although some Hamas spokesmen seem to believe that the ramped up attacks on places like Tel Aviv will mount pressure on Israel for a truce deal.

    Hamas and Fatah have struck an unorthodox truce and decided to unite in an effort to fight back against Israel, despite several years of infighting. Fatah claims it was not a suicide attack, and that the bomber has not been caught.

    The LA Times also reports a man was seen running towards the bus, throwing a bag inside and running away.

    Though they didn't claim responsibility, Hamas still cheered for the attack. From the LA Times: 

    In Gaza, Palestinians cheered and celebrated upon hearing the news announced from mosque loudspeakers along with Koranic songs about victory.

    "Israel has refused the truce and they want to escalate the violence, so we will have escalate as well," said bank employee Hesham Akram, 27, in central Gaza City. "This way Israelis will feel more insecure so they will give in to our demands for freedom."

    More to come. Click here for updates >


    Tel Aviv

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    The highly talked about Iron Dome has become the hero behind the Israeli Defense Force's efforts to defend innocent civilians. The part-automatic, part-human rocket defense system takes out upward of 90 percent of its targets. 

    There are a few folks behind the controls though, and a few different pieces to the machine, so check out a simple explanation about how the Dome works:


    Produced by Robert Libetti

    Don't Miss:

    As Death Toll In Gaza Rises, Hopes For Ceasefire Are Bleak

    Hamas Rocket Fired Toward Jerusalem Prompts Fierce Israeli Reaction

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    Burial at Sea

    Details surrounding one of the more controversial details of Osama bin Laden's 2011 takedown are starting to emerge thanks to an Information Request by the Associated Press.

    Following the Abbottabad raid on May 1 of last year, bin Laden's body was whisked away to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in a helicopter crammed with Navy SEALs.

    In his book about the raid, Matt Bissonnette says the helicopter that delivered bin Laden to the Vinson was so packed with troops and gear that he sat on bin Laden's corpse for the entire ride.

    That detail and the fact that bin Laden was given a proper Islamic burial were about the only information about the event open to the public. The APs details fill in a few gaps and offer insight into how clandestine the mission actually was.

    From The Telegraph:

    "Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag.

    "A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea."

    The letters also revealed that no Navy sailors witnessed the burial and there are no pictures or video of the event.

    From the AP:

    Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defense Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden's body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden's body on the Vinson.

    The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden's body if he were killed.

    Aside from having great portions blacked out, the emails the AP did receive show Naval officers used code words to avoid mentioning specifics, and in an exchange with two admirals included, "FEDEX delivered the package. Both trucks are safely enroute home base."

    The judicial block on bin Laden's death photos remains in place and it's uncertain how much additional information will become available about the raid.

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    Mossad Israel poison Hamas Khaled Meshaal

    Just hours into a tenuous ceasefire agreement Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Israel failed to achieve its goals thanked Egypt and Iran for their support during the recent conflict.

    From AFP:

    "After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance," Meshaal said. "Israel has failed in all its goals," he told reporters in a Cairo hotel.

    Meshaal also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, as well as Iran, which he said "had a role in arming" his Islamist movement during the conflict. "I would like to thank our dear Egypt, aided by the brave elected President Mohamed Morsi... Egypt acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people," he said.

    Meshaal went on to clarify his gratitude toward Iran was despite "Disagreements on the situation in Syria," and warned Israel not to violate the ceasefire.

    "If you commit, we will commit. If you do not commit, the rifles are in our hands," he said.

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    Carrier Pigeon

    Historians from GCHQ are appealing for the veteran codebreakers of Bletchley Park to volunteer for one last act of service for their country: cracking the D-Day carrier pigeon cipher that has stumped Britain's finest minds.

    The coded message had been carefully filed in a small red capsule and attached to a carrier pigeon to be delivered 70 years ago.

    But instead of arriving safely at its destination, the unfortunate bird got stuck in a chimney en-route and lost.

    The message was found by homeowner David Martin, who ripped out a fireplace to find the skeleton while renovating his house in Bletchingley, Surrey.

    Historians believe the bird was almost certainly dispatched from Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944, during the D-Day invasions.

    The mysterious message, which was written in unfamiliar code, was passed to Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Glos, in the hope a contemporary professional codebreaker could decipher the words.

    Today, experts have admitted they have been unable to unravel the puzzle without knowing more about the cryptographic context in which it was sent.

    They have now appealed to retired codebreakers who worked at GCHQ's predecessor, Bletchley Park, and others who may have worked in military signals, during the war to come forward to offer their expertise.

    Those who are still alive are likely to be in their nineties but their memories may be sharp enough to recognise the type of code used, and explain how it could be deciphered.

    Amongst their number is Baroness Trumpington, 90, a Conservative life peer who worked in Naval Intelligence at Bletchley Park.

    A GCHQ historian, known only as Tony for security reasons, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme it would be easier to identify the code if anyone could provide further information.

    "We know in other contexts that there are still quite a lot of people alive who worked in communication centres during the war," he said.

    "It would be very interesting if people did have any information if they could put it in the pot and we could see if we can get any further with it."

    He explained modern codebreakers had so far been stumped by the secret message, with no clues as to who sent it or who was intended to receive it.

    He added: "The sort of codes that were constructed to be used during operations were designed only to be read by the senders and the recipients. Unless you get rather more idea than we have about who actually sent the message and who it was sent to we are not going to be able to find out what the underlying code was."

    The message in full reads:







    KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6

    It is believed to have been dispatched by British forces during the D-Day invasion to relay secret messages back across the Channel, after a radio blackout left them reliant on homing pigeons.

    The Royal Pigeon Racing Association believe the bird probably either got lost, disorientated in bad weather, or was simply exhausted after its trip across the Channel.

    Due to Winston Churchill's radio blackout, homing pigeons were taken on the D-Day invasion and released by Allied Forces to inform military Generals back on English soil how the operation was going.

    Speaking earlier this month, Mr Martin said: "It's a real mystery and I cannot wait for the secret message to be decoded. It really is unbelieveable."

    It is thought that the bird was destined for the top secret Bletchley Park, which was just 80 miles from Mr Martin's home.

    The message was sent to XO2 at 16:45. The destination X02 was believed to be Bomber Command, while the sender's signature at the bottom of the message read Serjeant W Stot.

    Experts said the spelling of Serjeant was significant, because the RAF used J, while the Army used G.

    Pigeon enthusiasts - commonly known as "fanciers" - have called for Mr Martin's mysterious military bird to be posthumously decorated with the Dickin Medal; the highest possible decoration for valour given to animals.

    The dead pigeon was likely to be a member of the secret wing of the National Pigeon Service - which had a squadron of 250,000 birds during the Second World War.

    They can reach speeds of 80mph, cover distances of more than 1,000 miles and are thought to use the Earth's magnetic fields to navigate.

    Can you crack the D-Day pigeon cipher? Send your solutions to, with an explanation of how it can be done. The best entry will receive a copy of the Telegraph All New Toughie Crossword Book.

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    Amid the recent political shift within Chinese politics, the effort at modernizing and advancing its military has remained unchanged.

    Minnie Chan of the South China Morning Post reports that to demonstrate this unwavering effort, China today confirmed the first successful carrier landings of its J-15 fighter aboard its first aircraft carrier the Liaoning.

    The landings are the culmination of a years-long effort at refitting the Soviet-era carrier, originally christened the Varyag, and are perhaps the most difficult technical carrier maneuvers to accomplish.

    Testing on land-based, carrier shaped decks, has been going on for months, so this recent achievement is causing a bit of celebration. While not the culmination of China's entry into a functioning carrier military power, the successful landings put it on track to enter that club with gusto when it adds additional carriers to the group.

    The Liaoning will no doubt serve as China's training carrier, where it cuts its teeth on the technical and tactical challenges facing flattop operations. Rumors have persisted for some time that Beijing was building two indigenous carriers as well, but proof of that has yet to be seen.

    China PilotIf those rumors turn out to be groundless, it likely won't be long before China is producing carriers on its own as Chinese shipbuilders are already clamoring for the chance.

    The jet that performed the arrested landing, the J-15, is believed to be a near clone of Russia's Su-33 carrier-based fighter and was seen sporting Russian AL-31 turbofan engines in 2009. While Russian military officials have played down the J-15's achievement and said China will no doubt continue seeking to purchase Su-33s, it's not likely to get any, and the J-15 may prove they don't need them regardless.

    China and Russia are at a long-standing impasse over military deals after China ripped the Russian Su-27SK design and cloned it into the Shenyang J-11B, violating all sorts of intellectual property agreements.

    Finally, these developments come as the U.S. announces the USS Nimitz is so dysfunctional it cannot be deployed and is pulling the USS Eisenhower from the Persian Gulf for a quick ref-fit before sending it back to cover for the Nimitz.

    The Nimitz is about 40 years old and discovered a major problem with its propulsion system during pre-deployment maneuvers. No word on how long it may be out of rotation, but the Eisenhower will be picking up the slack, at least in the near future.

    Now: Step aboard the US carrier Eisenhower >

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    Launched just over a year before the bicentennial of the United States in 1975, the USS Nimitz has been diagnosed with mechanical problems that will keep it sidelined for at least two months.

    See the Nimitz >

    Aside from offering a hard look at America's aging naval force, the Nimitz's propulsion system problem will leave just one carrier in the Persian Gulf for the first time since December 2010.

    With a projected lifespan of about 50 years the Nimitz is more than a decade away from possible retirement. This longevity is expected with regular maintenance and overhauls, like the one USS Nimitz underwent in Bremerton, Washington in 2011.

    The carrier spent more than a year in port undergoing service and re-entered service in March 2012, but whether this breakdown is a concern after such an extensive overhaul has yet to be confirmed by the Navy.

    In the meantime, it's the USS Eisenhower that will pick up the slack and cover the Nimitz's rotation in the Persian Gulf. The Ike is already in that part of the world with 5th Fleet in Bahrain, but will be returning to its home port of Norfolk for a flight deck resurfacing before heading back.

    A changing schedule is part of Navy life and servicemembers and their families do their best to keep that in mind and go with the flow, but it's a disruption on everyone involved.

    With the Nimitz making today's headlines we thought we'd take a look at the flag ship of Carrier Strike Group 11.

    USS Nimitz is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 11 that included five other ships and four additional fighter squadrons on its last deployment

    The carrier will be at sea for at least six months when deployed and supplies are constantly brought aboard

    Carrier Air Wing 11 is attached to the Nimitz and its pilots and ground crew work alongside sailors

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Drone BAE

    As Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) become more sophisticated their, capacity for abuse only grows.

    Governments are already having a hard time resisting the temptation to use UAV's for striking enemies wherever they may hide, even when they're hiding among civilians.

    See the pictures >

    We posted this a few months ago, but as new efforts to ban automated drones grow, we thought we'd point out the technology is not going away anytime soon.

    Northrop Grumman X-47B

    The strike fighter was developed by Northrop Grumman as part of a research contract awarded in 2007. Look for these in use for the Navy, which hopes to use them as carrier-based drones. Tests for that begin in 2013. 

    National Origin: United States

    Intended Customers: United States Military and clandestine services

    Status: In development, used by Navy for testing

    Cruise Speed: around 420 mph, (Mach 0.55) 

    Wingspan: 62 ft

    Range: At least 2,400 miles

    Boeing Phantom Ray

    The project was hatched in 2007, and was carried out in utmost secrecy. The drone's development was funded internally, without funding from the government of military. The Boeing Phantom Ray, which precedes the development of the Phantom Eye, is Boeing's planned ground strike and surveillance drone.

    National Origin: United States

    Intended Customers: United States Military and clandestine services

    Status: In development, maiden flight April 27, 2011

    Cruise Speed: 614 mph (Mach 0.8)

    Wingspan: 50 ft

    Range: 1500 miles

    General Atomics Predator C Avenger

    This drone is incredible. The Predator line of drones currently in constant use in Afghanistan and Iraq were the first ever weaponized UAVs. This model follows up with a reduced heat signature and speed boosts. It boasts an upgraded "quick response armed reconnaissance capability" from its predecessors. 

    National Origin: United States

    Intended Customers: United States Military and clandestine services

    Status: Deployed. Maiden flight April 4, 2009

    Max Speed: 460 mph

    Wingspan: 66 ft

    Range: 20 hours

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    david's sling

    During its recent back and forth with Hamas in Gaza, Israel exercised its Iron Dome rocket defense system that kept almost 90 percent of all rockets launched within 40 kilometers from reaching Israeli targets.

    A success by any measure, Iron Dome is but one facet of Israel's planned missile defense and Israeli officials waited just four days after the Gaza ceasefire before testing its next line of missile defense called David's Sling.

    The new system is designed to bring down medium to long range missiles fired from the 50 km to 250km range and was successfully tested Monday at an undisclosed location in southern Israel.

    From AFP:

    Israeli and US defence officials have successfully tested the David's Sling missile defence system, completing the first phase of the weapon's development, the defence ministry said on Sunday. "The Israel Missile Defence Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency completed the first phase of the development of the David's Sling Weapon System, by conducting a successful interception," a statement said.

    The system "is designed to provide an additional layer of defence against ballistic missiles by adding additional opportunities for interception to the joint US-Israel Arrow weapon system," it added...The announcement came four days after a truce ended eight days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. The military said 1,354 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip , 421 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome short-range defence system.

    Though originally not expected to be fielded until 2014, UPI reported in May that David's Sling should begin deployments as early as next year

    Once the Sling is in place, Israel will use the new Block 4 version of its old Arrow 2 missile interceptor for long range missile intercepts, the Sling for medium, and the Dome for short range.

    All three combined should offer a comprehensive missile defense, allowing a certain confidence in engaging with any of Israel's regional enemies.

    Now: See how Israel would defend itself against a full on missile attack >

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    Moon far side

    When word came out that the U.S. likely tested toxic aerosols on unsuspecting Missourians during the Cold War, it was hard to imagine the period offering up any stranger scenarios, but it has.

    Asian News International reports the U.S. had plans to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb as late as the 1950s.

    From ANI:

    At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America's Cold War muscle. The secret project, named 'A Study of Lunar Research Flights' and nicknamed 'Project A119,' however was never carried out.

    America's planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast. According to the report, viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted U.S. confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel said.

    The American atom bomb was intended to be sent 238,000 to the moon where it would detonate upon impact, but the plan was scrapped over concern for earth's inhabitants if the mission failed.

    When contacted by the Associated Press, the U.S. Air Force declined to comment on the project.

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    Just days after announcing the first successful takeoff and landing aboard its refitted Soviet aircraft carrier the Varyag, Focus Taiwan reports China will launch its own carrier next year.

    Made completely in China and commissioned between 2015 and 2016 it will be the first of two domestically made carriers, with the second launched two years after the first.

    Focus Taiwan picks up the report from an unnamed Hong Kong magazine, that says China plans to build a "superb first-class Navy over 20 to 30 years."

    Over the next 10 years it says China will build three carrier fleets, and in the second decade will begin producing nuclear-powered carriers.

    The launch of its first nuclear powered carrier is slated to occur no later than 2020.

    Rumors of these two domestically made carriers have been in the wind for years, but this is the first time a date has been associated with the construction.

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    Minnie Chan of the South China Morning Post reported last week on China's first aircraft carrier takeoff and landings on the Liaoning.

    The event was the culmination of a years-long effort at refitting the Soviet-era carrier, originally christened the Varyag, and are perhaps the most difficult technical carrier maneuvers to accomplish.

    Testing on land-based, carrier shaped decks, has been going on for months, so this recent achievement is causing a bit of celebration. While not the culmination of China's entry into a functioning carrier military power, the successful landings put it on track to enter that club with gusto when it adds additional carriers to the group.

    We reported that on Friday, but now China's CCTV has released this video of the event shown below.

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    WWII art, military, defense

    Battlefield artists are quickly fading in relevance as digital cameras become smaller, more accurate, and cost effective.

    Old hand-crafted, battlefield art, though, often characterizes best the antiquated past of armed conflict — war has since become a speedy affair, quick as the shutter of a photographer's camera.

    Check out this blast from the past art, as a time machine to the way war used to be waged ...

    Until the arrival of dedicated units like the US Army Air Corps "Burma Bridge Busters," low level attacks on Japanese supply lines were carried out by Royal Air Force Hurricane fighter-bombers like the ones shown taking out a bridge here.

    Outraged when his guns jammed and determined to take down his foe, Parker Dupouy slammed his fighter into the Japanese plane to take it down.

    Way less precise, way more aggressive.

    The US was caught so off-guard by the attack on Pearl Harbor that few pilots made it into the air: Lt. Joe Moore was one of them.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    X-47B Truman

    The X-47B, unmanned carrier drone, is loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and being prepped for its at sea trials.

    One of two X-47B prototypes took its first recorded flight in September (video below) when the Navy announced it would be adding refueling capabilities to the aircraft by 2014.

    David Ax, at Wired, reported then that the move will allow the X-47B to remain in flight well beyond 3,000 nautical miles — 10 times the ability of a traditional manned fighter.

    This will also put U.S. aircraft carriers outside the reach of, say, China's 'carrier-killing' ballistic missiles and submarines.

    The X-47B's manufacturer, Northrop Grumman also received contracts to modify long-range Global Hawks to serve as refueling tankers. When those aircraft come online, the entire process will be conducted with no pilot at all.

    In the meantime, aboard the Truman tests will begin to adapt the craft to seagoing flight.

    From Defense News:

    TRUMAN was fitted during a recent overhaul with gear and software to operate the X-47B, the first jet unmanned strike aircraft designed for carrier operation. Extensive carrier deck handling tests will be run before flying operations take place later this winter.

    The carrier will undertake three weeks of tests with the X-47B, both in port at Norfolk and underway along the Atlantic coast. Engineers and sailors will use a hand-held control display unit to control the aircraft moving along the carrier’s deck.

    TRUMAN is scheduled to deploy to the U.S. Central Command region early in 2013.

    Video of the X-47B in flight is below these photos of the X-47B getting hoisted above the Truman.




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    In an effort to shed some of its lurching dependence on gasoline, the Army is hosting the Ground Combat Vehicle Competition and this is BAE's official entry.

    Matt Cox at reports:

    BAE’s release of its hybrid-electric infographic comes on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office report that states that the Army’s GCV may have to weigh as much as 84 tons for the vehicle to meet the service’s list of requirements. This would make the GCV heavier than the 64-ton M1A2 Abrams tank and more than twice as heavy as the 33-ton M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicle its replacing.

    It has been difficult for Army officials to refute such estimates since the service didn’t set a weight limit for the new vehicle to avoid trade-offs in soldier protection, lethality and survivability.

    The CBO reports the Army's looking for over 1,800 vehicles, beginning in 2018, at about $13 million apiece with an average cost of $200 per mile to operate. The following graphic from BAE shows where the savings lie and how much the military currently spends inching its armor across the battlefield.


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    Belarus River

    The Belarus army is a conscript force, burdened by ancient equipment and traditions instilled by the Stalinist regime of the 20th century.

    The following photos were made public by Alexander Mihalkovich who introduced them to the web at large along with a string of tweets from a Belarusian conscript called Max (not his real name).

    See Max's photos >

    Max's intention was to use his time in service to film army life, but it was difficult even keeping a point-and-shoot in his pocket to take the following shots.

    Life for recruits is harsh, according to Max, and the officers above them rule with a draconian vigor that's almost as shocking as Max's claim that his salary amounted to only about $16. Max says he was with the 5th Spetsnaz Airborne brigade, which we were unable to find reference to after 2008.

    When we wrote Alexander Mihalkovich, the publisher, he responded with the following pictures, titles, and this explanation:

    The Belarusian army considers itself as a successor to the Soviet army. It maintains the same archaic  traditions between soldiers and officers. Equipment dates back to the 1960-70’s, already out-of-date, is still used. The soldiers (even the ones from Special Forces) just clean the grounds of the Military Unit, repair old barracks and equipment most of the time. Army life seems like a children labor camp or even prison. Army customs are based on old-timer soldiers dominating over recruits, forced to take up all the work at the Unit. Young soldiers are able to tolerate all the humiliations and hard work only because of army archaic traditions, the thought of them dominating over new recruits in future and teenager idealism.

    Every man of 18-27 year old has to serve 548 days in the army. Many people wonder if it is necessary and whether young men benefit, or it is just a waste their time. But the majority of the patriarchal society thinks that the army toughens up young boys and makes them real men.

    For a deeper look into his daily life check out Max's tweets and additional photos here.

    Max's family hosts a feast before sending him off to the army — dinners like this are common in Belarus where every son between 18 and 25 gets sent off to serve

    Relatives see their young men off at the train station — For Max it is a long trip, in very ancient train cars to the Special Forces Military Base

    Here conscripts chat on the local train outside the military unit — they're getting close to where they'll spend the next 12 to 18 months of their lives

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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