February 20, 2016

Photonic Laser Propulsion to send a 100 kg vehicle to Mars in 3 days and to get to wafercraft to 30% of the speed of light by 2035

Philip Lubin describes his approach to achieving laser driving spacecraft propulsion in the near term

100kg robotic craft could be sent to Mars in 3 days
1kg could go overnight to Mars
50-100 GW could send a wafercraft to 30% of the speed of light and i would involve 10 minutes

A system that is about 100 times the mass of the space station would be able to launch such missions to Mars or interstellar wafercraft.

So fully reusable Spacex rockets would be able to affordably launch such a system into space in the 2020s.

Reaching the newly discovered Planet 9 which is about 18 times farther than Pluto

Adam Crowl has a great series of article about space missions to the newly discovered super-earth or Neptune like Planet 9.

Power, Distance and Time are inextricably linked in rocketry

1. An important concept is the Power-to-Mass ratio or specific power – units being kilowatts per kilogram (kW/kg). Any power source produces raw energy, which is then transformed into the work performed by the rocket jet. Between the two are several efficiency factors – the efficiency of converting raw heat into electricity, then electricity into jet-power, which includes the ionization efficiency, the nozzle efficiency, the magnetic field efficiency and so on. A solar array converts raw sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of between 20-25%, but advanced cells exist which might push this towards 40-50%.

Let’s assume a perfect power source and a perfect rocket engine. What’s the minimum performance required for a given mission? The basic minimum is:

Power/Mass is proportional to (S^2/T^3)

That is the Power-to-Mass ratio required is proportional to the displacement (distance) squared, and inversely proportional to the mission time cubed. For example, a 1 year mission to Jupiter requires 1,000 times the specific power of a 10 year mission.

The minimum acceleration case is when acceleration/deceleration is sustained over the whole mission time. When acceleration is constant, it means a maximum cruise speed (i.e. actual speed of vehicle) of 2 times the average speed (defined as total displacement divided by total mission time).

Another result, from a mathematical analysis I won’t go into here, is that the minimum specific power mission requires a cruise speed that is 1.5 times the average speed and an acceleration+deceleration time, t, that is 2/3 the total mission time T.

The power required – which is work done per unit time – is a trade off between acceleration time and mission time. Say the mission time is 10 years. If all the acceleration is done in 1 year, then the cruise speed required is 1/0.95 times the average speed, but power is proportional to the speed squared divided by the acceleration time: P = (1/2).V^2/t = (1/2).(1/0.95)^2/1 ~ 0.55, whereas in the case of constant acceleration, the average specific power is (1/2).(2)^2/10 = 0.2. For the case of minimum power it’s (1/2)*(3/2)^2/(2/3*10) = 0.16875 – just 84.375% the constant acceleration case and ~31% the 1 year thrust time.

So what does it take to get to Planet 9? If we use the distance of 700 AU to Planet 9, and a total trip time of 10 years, that means an average speed of 70 AU per year. To convert AU/yr to km/s, just multiply by 4.74 km/s, thus 331.8 km/s is needed. Cruise speed is then 497.7 km/s and the specific jet-power is 1.177 kW/kg, if we’re slowing down to go into orbit. Presently there are only conceptual designs for power sources that can achieve that sort of specific power. If we take 20 years to get there, the specific power is 0.147 kW/kg, which is a bit closer to possible.

Space reactor designs typically boast a specific electrical power output of 50 W/kg to 100 W/kg. Gas-core nuclear reactors could go higher, putting out 2,000 – 500 W/kg, but our applied knowledge of gas-core reactors is limited. Designs exist, but no working prototypes have ever flown. In theory it would use uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) gas as the reacting core, which would run at ~4000 K or so and convert heat to electricity via a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator. Huge radiators would be required and the overall efficiency of the power source would be ~22%. In fact there’s a theorem that any thermal power source in space has its highest specific power when the Carnot efficiency is just 25%, thanks to the need to minimize radiator area by maximizing radiator temperature.

Full Size unmanned TF-X Flying Car Protoytype with fold out engines and vertical takeoff and landing will be flying 2018

A full-size unmanned prototype of the Terrafugia TF-X flying car is expected to be ready by 2018.

The TF-X will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), along with a 500-mile (805 km) flight range. It will have fold-out wings with twin electric motors attached to each end. These motors allow the TF-X to move from a vertical to a horizontal position, and will be powered by a 300 hp engine.

The planned four-person TF-X will be semi-autonomous and use computer-controlled so that passengers can simply type in a destination before taking off.

Terrafugia have successfully completed static load testing of a scale prototype of the TF-X™ wing. This test verified that the one-tenth scale carbon fiber wing will be able to safely withstand the necessary loads during wind tunnel testing, and is an essential step along the path towards TF-X™ development.

Terrafugia’s vision for the future, the TF-X™ is a plug-in hybrid electric flying car with semi-autonomous flight and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Estimated to enter production in 8-12 years, the TF-X™ will create a new dimension of personal freedom.

To complete this test, Terrafugia engineers developed one-tenth scale prototypes of the wing and applied loads to both the central wing structure and the side motor pods to test its performance at progressively higher loads. The wing maintained structural integrity at over five times the maximum predicted loads, validating the wing design and allowing the team to move forward with further preparations for wind tunnel testing.

Russia has armed a multi-copter drone with a light anti-tank RPG

Russia has a prototype of a new multi-copter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fitted with cameras and a shoulder-launched rocket system.

The multi-copter appears to be a single shot solution, with the aircraft having to land and reload after each shot.

The rocket used is most likely to be the RPG-26 Aglen light anti-tank weapon. The RPG-26 fires the 72.5 mm PG-26 rocket that is armed with a HEAT warhead and has an initial velocity of 144 m/s. It has a maximum effective range (from the ground) of 250 meters, with target penetration of 400 mm of rolled homogenous armor (RHA) plate. RPG-26 weighs 2.9 kilograms (6.4 lb).

A variant of the RPG-26, called the RShG-2, is armed with a thermobaric warhead. The RShG-2 is heavier than the RPG-26 at 3.5 kilograms, and has a reduced direct fire range of 115 meters. The RShG-2 renders enemy manpower ineffective inside rooms with a space of up to 200 cubic meters and inside trenches and bunkers when it explodes 0.5-1.0 meters away from a trench or a firing port.

According to RT, the anti-tank multicopter is part of a wider 'complex' of armed UAVs made of four unmanned platforms with different capabilities and tasks. For this complex, the anti-tank multicopter is joined by an unarmed electro-optic/infrared camera-equipped multicopter for real-time battlefield surveillance and artillery spotting; an unarmed, unmanned helicopter for reconnaissance and cargo delivery; and an armed 'assault' unmanned helicopter that would be able to operate outside the threat envelope of small arms and even some man-portable air defense systems.

“The rocket appears to be unguided and visually sighted, as evidenced by the ‘rocket-eye view’ of the on-board camera in the opening seconds of the footage and the optical sighting system that has been flipped down over the lens,” IHS Jane’s International Defense Review explains.


February 19, 2016

Zika Virus May Increase Risk of Mental Illness even in infants without shrunken heads

A baby with a shrunken, misshapen head is surely a heartbreaking sight. But reproductive health experts are warning that microcephaly may be only the most obvious consequence of the spread of the Zika virus.

Even infants who appear normal at birth may be at higher risk for mental illnesses later in life if their mothers were infected during pregnancy, many researchers fear.

The Zika virus, they say, closely resembles some infectious agents that have been linked to the development of autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia and other debilitating mental illnesses have no single cause, experts emphasized in interviews. The conditions are thought to arise from a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition and traumas later in life, such as sexual or physical abuse, abandonment or heavy drug use.

But illnesses in utero, including viral infections, are thought to be a trigger.

A viral attack early in pregnancy can kill a fetus or stunt the growing brain, producing microcephaly, they explained. An infection later in the fetus’s development, when the brain is nearly fully formed, can do damage that is less obvious but still significant.

“It is pretty scary,” said Dr. Urs Meyer, a behavioral neurobiologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who studies the consequences of fetal infections in lab animals. “These problems are on a continuous scale, and whether you end up with autism or schizophrenia is complex — and we really can’t predict it.”

Evidence has increased for years that mental illnesses may be linked to exposure during pregnancy to viruses like rubella, herpes and influenza, and to parasites like Toxoplasma gondii.

Virgin Galactic revealed an upgrade Spaceship Two

Richard Branson unveiled Virgin Galactic’s much anticipated second SpaceShipTwo at a ceremony in Mojave, CA, attended by his family, Virgin Galactic’s Founder Future Astronauts, stakeholders and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”

The space tourism project was dealt a major blow after an in-air explosion killed one of the company’s pilots on a test flight in 2014. Virgin’s CEO Richard Branson questioned continuing the project. But today, at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert, the record label-turned-space travel agency is once again throwing its hat in the ring to make commercial civilian spaceflight a reality.

This new version of SpaceShipTwo is structurally almost identical to the shuttle that tragically failed, with a few upgrades. “Most of the changes that we made were planned before the accident,” said Will Pomerantz, Vice President of Special Projects at Virgin Galactic. “With regard to the accident specifically, we have made one structural change to the vehicle, which is to add a mechanical inhibit to the featherlock system that would prevent that from ever being inadvertently opened at the wrong time in flight.” Such a safeguard could have protected against pilot error, which was the primary source of failure in the deadly 2014 test flight.

Scaled Composites didn’t factor human fallibility into their models. Pilot Michael Alsbury unlocked a feathering mechanism at the incorrect time, triggering a chain of events that caused SpaceShipTwo to break apart in flight, according to the National Transportation Safety Bureau’s investigation.

Pluto's moon Charon used to have a subsurface ocean

Images from NASA’s New Horizons mission suggest that Pluto’s moon Charon once had a subsurface ocean that has long since frozen and expanded, pushing outward and causing the moon’s surface to stretch and fracture on a massive scale.

The side of Pluto’s largest moon viewed by NASA’s passing New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015 is characterized by a system of “pull apart” tectonic faults, which are expressed as ridges, scarps and valleys—the latter sometimes reaching more than 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) deep. Charon’s tectonic landscape shows that, somehow, the moon expanded in its past, and – like Bruce Banner tearing his shirt as he becomes the Incredible Hulk – Charon’s surface fractured as it stretched.

The outer layer of Charon is primarily water ice. This layer was kept warm when Charon was young by heat provided by the decay of radioactive elements, as well as Charon’s own internal heat of formation. Scientists say Charon could have been warm enough to cause the water ice to melt deep down, creating a subsurface ocean. But as Charon cooled over time, this ocean would have frozen and expanded (as happens when water freezes), lifting the outermost layers of the moon and producing the massive chasms we see today.

A close-up of the canyons on Charon, Pluto's big moon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July. Multiple views taken by New Horizons as it passed by Charon allow stereo measurements of topography, shown in the color-coded version of the image. The scale bar indicates relative elevation.

US$5 billion settlement offer for Iron ore waste water dam break in Brazil is too small

The government has signaled that Samarco, co-owned by giants Vale and BHP Billiton, is ready to pay 20 billion reais for the collapse of a waste water dam at its iron ore mine in Minas Gerais on November 5.

The accident, which unleashed a massive flood of mud into the River Doce, was described as Brazil's worst ever environmental disaster. Drinking water supplies were cut for hundreds of thousands of people, a village was flattened, and local fishing and tourist businesses were badly impacted.

The nearly US$5 billion expected settlement for last year's toxic flood that killed 17 people in Brazil could be challenged by prosecutors, who say the amount is not enough.

A car and two dogs are seen on the roof of destroyed houses. The dam held waste from an iron ore mine and the accident unleashed a deluge of thick, red toxic mud Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

February 18, 2016

B52 and B1 bombers will be converted into Arsenal Planes

In order to remain stealthy, modern fighters such as the F-22 and F-35 have to carry all their weapons in internal bays, significantly reducing the payload they can carry. For example, the F-22 can fit four air-to-air missiles and two 1,000-pound bombs in its internal bay, whereas the F-35, next to two air-to-air missiles, can only carry two 2,000-pound bombs in its stealthiest configuration.

The B-1 and B-52, however, can carry up to 75,000 pounds (34,000 kilograms) of weapons and are available in large numbers. The U.S. Airforce still operates 62 B-1B Lancer and 58 B-52 Stratofortress (with 18 in reserve)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in speech at the beginning of February, in which he discussed the Department of Defense’s 2017 budget.

And the last project I want to highlight is one that we’re calling the arsenal plane, which takes one of our oldest aircraft platform and turns it into a flying launchpad for all sorts of different conventional payloads. In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, network to fifth generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes, essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities.

The arsenal plane/fifth-generation fighter jet interaction would be similar to the artillery observer and artillery battery in ground warfare: The fifth-generation aircraft will first identify and then direct fire from the arsenal plane unto a target. Depending on the battlefield environment, the arsenal plane would carry long-range standoff missiles such as the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) to in order to stay outside the enemy’s air defense perimeter, or — when engaging a technologically less advanced adversary — move closer and drop precision-guided bombs.

Blade Runner 2 will be released January 12, 2018

The sequel to Blade Runner is officially set to begin filming this year for a 2018 release date. Harrison Ford is back. Original director Ridley Scott is an executive producer. There’s a press release and everything. Blade Runner 2 is real.

Blade Runner 2 will begin filming this July and will be released on January 12, 2018.

John Wick Chapter 2 on Feb 10, 2017

John Wick 2 is the sequel to the surprise action hit that starred Keanu Reeves as a skilled assassin who kills most of the Russian mafia in New York City. A handful of the co-stars from the first film, including John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynihan, and Lance Reddick of Fringe and The Wire, would be returning to their original roles. New supporting actors, ranging from Ruby Rose and Laurence Fishburne to Peter Stormare and Common are joining.

The sequel, now known as John Wick: Chapter Two, will be released on February 10th, 2017 in theaters nationwide. Beyond that, the film now has a new European place of business, with the tweet announcing that Reeves’ superior hitman will be kicking “Italian ass” in Rome in the upcoming sequel

Here is the club scene from the original John Wick.

Another combat scene with John Wick defending his home.

Peace Dividend from end of Cold War is over as European defense spending up by 8.3% after 20 years of declines

Fear of Russian aggression will help drive European defense spending up by 8.3 percent this year, putting a halt to 20 years of declining budgets, a new report by European think tanks claimed.

Over two decades after the end of the Cold War, Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policies in Crimea and Ukraine have pushed European leaders to once again increase their spending on military programs, according to the report, which was funded by the European Defense Agency.

“The decline that has affected European defence budgets for over twenty years, and more acutely after 2008, has halted,” the new report stated, adding that the rise is most pronounced in central and Eastern Europe, an area covering the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

Those seven countries will hike spending by 19.9 percent this year, the report said, with Hungary pushing up spending by 22 percent to nearly €1 billion.

In southeastern Europe, an area covering Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, the rise will be 9.2 percent, while Western Europe will see a rise of 2.7 percent.

Peace dividend is a political slogan popularized by US President George H.W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1990s, purporting to describe the economic benefit of a decrease in defense spending. The term was frequently used at the end of the Cold War.

February 17, 2016

New hardware to lower cost of expanding up to 10 Gbps fiber-to-the-home

The cost of deploying fast fibre connections straight to homes could be dramatically reduced by new hardware designed and tested by University College of London researchers.

While major advances have been made in core optical fibre networks, they often terminate in cabinets far from the end consumers. The so called ‘last mile’ which connects households to the global Internet via the cabinet, is still almost exclusively built with copper cables as the optical receiver needed to read fibre-optic signals is too expensive to have in every home.

Lead researcher, Dr Sezer Erkilinc (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering), said: “We have designed a simplified optical receiver that could be mass-produced cheaply while maintaining the quality of the optical signal. The average data transmission rates of copper cables connecting homes today are about 300 Mb/s and will soon become a major bottleneck in keeping up with data demands, which will likely reach about 5-10 Gb/s by 2025. Our technology can support speeds up to 10 Gb/s, making it truly future-proof.”

They simplified the design of the optical receiver, improving sensitivity and network reach compared to existing technology. Once commercialised, it will lower the cost of installing and maintaining active components between the central cabinet and homes.

Academic and industry experts, along with policy makers, largely agree that FTTH is the most future-proof solution to meet the fast and exponentially growing demand for bandwidth. Yet even in countries leading the way in implementing FTTH technology such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, fewer than 50% of connections use FTTH while this figure is less than 1% in the UK.

Journal of Lightwave Technology -
Polarization-Insensitive Single Balanced Photodiode Coherent Receiver for Long-Reach WDM-PONs

First Internet delivering Google Loons launched in Sri Lanka

Google's balloon-powered high-speed Internet service known as 'Project Loon' began its first tests in Sri Lanka Monday ahead of a planned joint venture with Colombo, the country's top IT official said.

One of three balloons that will be used in the trials entered Sri Lankan airspace Monday, the Information and Communication Technology Agency chief Muhunthan Canagey said.

'The first balloon entered our airspace this morning. It was launched from South America,' Canagey told AFP. 'It is currently over southern Sri Lanka.'

He said a Google team was expected later this week to test flight controls, spectrum efficiency and other technical matters.
The government announced earlier this month it would take a 25 percent stake in a joint venture with Google to deliver a high-speed Internet service powered by helium-filled balloons.

Sri Lanka is not investing any capital, but will take the stake in return for allocating spectrum for the project.

The inflatable part of the balloon is called a balloon envelope made from sheets of polyethylene plastic that are 49ft (15 meters) wide and 40ft (12 meters) tall when inflated.

The balloons harness power from card table-sized solar panels that dangle below them, and they can gather enough charge in four hours to power them for a day.

Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area of around 25 miles (40km) in diameter using LTE, also referred to as 4G, technology.

The balloons will have a lifespan of about 180 days, but can be recycled, according to Sri Lankan officials involved in the venture.

Official figures show there are 3.3 million mobile Internet connections and 630,000 fixed line Internet subscribers among Sri Lanka's more than 20 million population.

Sound wave therapy could provide long lasting erectile dysfunction treatment

Sound wave therapy that treats erectile dysfunction offers men the first alternative to Viagra, Cialis and other drugs in 15 years.

Viagra and similar drugs work by increasing blood flow to the penis, but men who use them have to plan sex around the drugs, and side effects can include headaches, dizziness, nasal congestion and sudden hearing loss. An alternative, called extra-corporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), could provide a longer-term solution, according to several studies discussed this month at a meeting of the European Society for Sexual Medicine in Madrid, Spain.

One study of ESWT involved 112 men with erectile dysfunction. Half received five weekly doses of low-intensity sound waves directed at six sites along their penis. The other half received a placebo. At the start of the study, none of the men were able to have penetrative sex without medication. By the end, 57 per cent of the treated men said they were having intercourse, compared with 9 per cent of the men who received the placebo

The treatment seems to increase blood flow to the penis by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels, says Ilan Gruenwald of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. If this proves true, it suggests the treatment could be long-lasting.

Another study found that ESWT improves erectile function in men who do not respond to traditional drugs. Other small trials have also reported positive results. The treatment is unlikely to cause any harm because the sound waves are of such low energy

extra-corporeal shock wave therapy devices. Sound wave promotion of new blood vessel growth

Scandinavian Journal of Urology - Can low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy improve erectile dysfunction? A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Genetically modified mosquitoes seem to stop the spread of disease but program needs to be expanded from two small neighborhods

250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes are released each day in Sao Palo. They spend their lives competing, copulating, and, because they are so numerous, overwhelming the population of wild males in the pursuit of females. Because of a genetic change to their DNA, they will live only four days—and their offspring won’t ever develop past the larval stage.

The insects were developed by Oxitec, a U.K. company that calls them “Friendly Aedes” and produces them at a facility located an hour away by car. Although the insects aren’t yet commercially available, the pilot program in Piracicaba has become a test case for whether GM insects can stop disease—and, if so, whether it will be at a cost cities can afford.

The project here began in April 2014, a year after an epidemic of dengue fever that caused more than 1.5 million cases in Brazil. So far, it is working: after 10 months of testing in two small neighborhoods, the number of dengue cases among 5,600 residents fell from 133 in a year to only one.

Manoeuvrable warheads are back due to expectations of improved anti-missile missiles, lasers and railguns

On 5 February 2016 Chinese state TV revealed for the first time the manoeuvrable warhead that could be from the DF-21C medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) produced by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

However, subsequent Chinese TV reporting from 12 February shows an exercise involving what may be the CASIC DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), raising the possibility that the 5 February TV coverage could be the same missile.

The TV report shows a CASIC Sanjiang 10-wheel transporter erector launcher (TEL) associated with the DF-21C and the DF-21D. Which one cannot be discerned, but the 12 February coverage shows the end of the missile tube having the new cushion structure seen on the DF-21D in the People's Liberation Army's 3 September 2015 parade.

Only the 5 February video features a missile launch showing a warhead stage with fins. First revealed in 2007, the 1,700 km-range DF-21C MRBM is most often reported to carry a simpler land-attack version of a manoeuvring, terminally guided warhead.

The 1,400-1,700 km-range DF-21D ASBM was reported by the Pentagon in 2010 to have achieved initial operating capability. Its warhead is believed to be longer and may have internal side-mounted radar in order to make final target location calculations before its terminal attack.

Chinese TV coverage on 12 February 2016 showed what may be a DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. Source: Via CCTV

MARV Manoeuvrable warheads decades old and are back due to expectations of improved anti-missile missiles, lasers and railguns

Manoeuvrable Russian warhead

MARV (maneuvering re-entry vehicle) technology has been around for decades and the last time it was clear that the cost (in terms of payload) is not worth the price of penetrating defenses, especially when those defenses are non-existent

US military budget loading up on nuclear missile submarines and F35 fighters

The Pentagon's next five-year budget proposal seeks over $13 billion in funding for a new submarine to carry nuclear ballistic missiles, plus orders for more Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) fighter jets.

The Pentagon's plan will also underscore the need to fund all three legs of the U.S. strategic deterrent "triad" - a new Air Force bomber, a replacement for the Ohio-class submarines that carry nuclear weapons, and new nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles

The Navy's proposed fiscal 2017 budget will fund procurement of materials for the new submarines that take a long time to acquire, with funding for construction of the first full new submarine to follow in fiscal 2021.

Over the next five years, the Navy would spend over $4 billion on research and development of the new submarines, plus over $9 billion in procurement funding.

The Navy will request funding for two Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 14 unfunded Boeing Super Hornets as part of the fiscal 2017 war budget, and 14 in the fiscal 2018 budget.

The five-year budget plan calls for Lockheed to sell a total of 161 F-35 fighter jets to the Navy and Marine Corps - 64 C-model jets that take off and land on aircraft carriers and 97 B-model jets, which can take off from shorter runways and land like a helicopter.

The Navy plans to rename the new drone program the Carrier-Based Air Refueling System, or CBARS, instead of the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program and narrow the mission of the drones.

US military will get more MQ-9 Reaper, Triton and Blackjack drones

In 2017, the USA is spending $2.4 billion on unmanned flying drones for research and procurement

They will procure 24 of MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The Navy requested $293 million for research, development, testing and evaluation as well as an additional $464.7 for procurement, with the addition of two new Triton drones, for a grand total of $757.7 million.

The Navy has asked for $70 million in procurement from OCO funds for four additional Blackjack drones while the Marines have requested $80.2 million for procurement from the base budget for four additional aircraft.

February 16, 2016

China places HQ-9 anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in South China Sea

Taiwan said Wednesday that China had positioned anti-aircraft missiles on a disputed South China Sea island (Woody Island in the Paracel group), as Australia's foreign minister began talks in Beijing expected to deal with tensions over China's moves to assert its maritime claims.

U.S. network Fox News also said China had moved surface-to-air missiles to the Paracels, identifying them as two batteries of the HQ-9 system, along with radar targeting arrays. The missiles have a range of about 200 kilometers (125 miles)

The airport on Woody Island will be handling regular flights this year.

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