Saturday, February 4, 2023

Rep. Rogers says Biden administration 'had hoped to hide' China spy balloon

A U.S. Air Force fighter jet safely shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon on Saturday after it flew over the United States for a week collecting intelligence information, according to Department of Defense officials.

A single F-22 Raptor fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon. The F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.

F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., supported the F-22, as did tankers from multiple states including Oregon, Montana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

The balloon fell approximately six miles off the U.S. coast in about 47 feet of water.

Chinese balloons over the US a normal thing?

"Today's deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the Peoples Republic of China unacceptable violation of our sovereignty," said the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III in a written statement.

U.S. officials said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration.

While Chinese officials admitted that the balloon was theirs, they said it was a runaway weather balloon. “This is false," U.S. defense officials said.

The situation has raised deep concern among members of Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) says now the White House must provide answers about why they decided to allow a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spy balloon to cross the United States.

“What damage to our national security occurred from this decision?” Rogers said. Rogers is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Rogers released a statement on Saturday after the balloon was taken down.

“I applaud our service members for completing a successful mission to neutralize a spy balloon sent by the CCP,” Rogers said. “I remain deeply concerned by the Biden administration’s decision to allow the spy balloon to traverse the United States. The Biden administration reportedly learned of the CCP spy balloon on Jan. 28 – nearly a week before residents in Montana spotted the balloon loitering over their state.”

President Joe Biden ordered the balloon be shot down on Wednesday, but it was delayed until the balloon was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed.

The balloon was being used to “surveil strategic sites in the continental United States,” Austin said.

U.S. officials first detected the balloon and its payload on Jan. 28 when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, and Canada and re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho.

“It’s clear the Biden administration had hoped to hide this national security failure from Congress and the American people,” Rogers said. “Now, the White House must provide answers about why they decided to allow a CCP spy balloon to cross the United States and what damage to our national security occurred from this decision. The United States must project strength to deter China – this failure is another example of weakness by the Biden administration.”

House Armed Services Committee hearing next week

The discovery of the Chinese spy balloon comes at a time when congressional members are taking a deep look into how much of a threat China poses to the United States.

The House Armed Services Committee has a hearing scheduled on Tuesday next week titled “The Pressing Threat of the Chinese Communist Party to U.S. National Defense.” Members of the committee, along with Chairman Rogers, will receive testimony from non-governmental witnesses on the pressing threat of the Chinese Communist Party to U.S. national defense.

Testimony will be provided by Former National Security Advisor Ambassador Robert O’Brien, Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., USN (Ret.), and Melanie Sisson, Foreign Policy Fellow with the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Thermal testing for NASA X-57 electric plane before first flight

NASA’s X-57 Maxwell all-electric aircraft reached another milestone recently toward its first flight with the successful thermal testing of its cruise motor controllers.

Thermal testing is important because it validates the design and workmanship quality of the controllers – critical components for providing power to X-57’s experimental electric motors. These complex systems have temperature-sensitive parts and must be able to withstand extreme conditions during flight.

The cruise motor controllers convert the energy stored in the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries to power the aircraft’s motors, which drive the propellers. The controllers use silicon carbide transistors to deliver 98% efficiency during high-power take-off and cruise, meaning they do not generate excessive heat and can be cooled off by the air flowing through the motor.

During a recent test at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, each of the flight motor controllers survived while operating inside a test chamber under the range of temperatures they may encounter during flight with a safety margin applied (minus 11 to 147 degrees Fahrenheit).

NASA engineers closely monitored the temperature responses of the power components and the control components inside the controllers, making sure they stayed within their allowable temperature range limits of the components. Close monitoring ensures the cruise motor controllers will perform correctly during piloted research flights.

Now that ground tests have validated the controllers under the most extreme temperature conditions expected in flight, the X-57 team is one step closer to integrating all of Maxwell’s systems and ensuring that they can work together.

An upcoming Flight Readiness Review at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., is the next major step before flight.

Konami adds China Shores slots and more to Caesars Sportsbook NJ

Las Vegas-based slot game developer Konami Gaming, Inc., announced Wednesday that some of their most popular slot games have arrived online at Caesars Sportsbook & Casino in New Jersey and Michigan.

Game titles like China Shores, All Aboard Dynamite Dash, and Quick Strike are now online with Caesars, the company said in a press release.

The partnership makes Konami’s complete online games library available across all real money sites owned and operated by Caesars Digital. Caesars online players in New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ontario can play the same games found inside Caesars brick-and-mortar casino locations across North America.

“We’re pleased to be working with Konami to bring even more diversified entertainment options to our online players that build on our goal of offering unmatched gaming experiences both in person and online,” said Matt Sunderland, senior vice president of Online Gaming at Caesars Digital.

For more than 20 years, Konami Gaming has been a leading developer of casino games. Through this collaboration between Konami and Caesars, players can check out Konami's newest releases, like Ocean Spin, and Kingdom’s Treasures —directly from an online device.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Army sets up sale of the King Air 360 aircraft to Peru

The U.S. Army Contracting Command-Redstone in Huntsville, Ala., intends to award a sole source five-year contract to Textron Aviation, Inc. in Wichita, Kan., for the initial purchase of two King Air aircraft for the country of Peru.

The Army announced the contract in a Combined Synopsis/Solicitation document on Thursday.

Textron is the original equipment manufacturer of the King Air B200 series, King Air B300 series, Cessna C-208B, and Cessna C-408 aircraft.

The contract will include one 12-month base period and four 12-month ordering periods for the procurement of King Air Series B200 and B300 and Cessna C208B and C408 to support upcoming Foreign Military Sales cases.

“The government’s minimum quantity to be awarded simultaneously with the award of the basic contract is two King Air 360 (B300 series) aircraft to the country of Peru,” the Army said in contract documents.

Textron Aviation introduced the KingAir 360 in August 2020. A key feature of the King Air 360 cockpit is the addition of the Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense Autothrottle. The autothrottle supports pilots in their critical mission of delivering people or cargo safely by automatically managing engine power from the takeoff roll through the climb, cruise, descent, go-around, and landing phases of flight. This enhancement reduces pilot workload and supports them in their continuous vigilance to prevent over-speed or under-speed, over-temp, and over-torque conditions.

The first Beechcraft King Air 360 was delivered to the launch customer – Stamoules Produce Company, Inc., in November 2020.

The anticipated award date for the Army contract is no later than July. The contract will have a set maximum ceiling of $99,788,000.00.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

DCNewsroom most popular posts January 2023

1.) NTSB report shows pilot and passenger were in plane “not to be flown” - A preliminary report released in January by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows a pilot and passenger were riding in a plane that was “not to be flown.” [Full story]

2.) Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 first flight at Greenville facility - Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70 performed its first flight in January at its Greenville, S.C., facility. [Full story]

3.) Delta Air Lines orders a dozen more A220 aircraft - Delta Air Lines firmed up an order for a dozen more A220-300 aircraft, bringing the airline’s total firm order for A220s to 119 aircraft. [Full story]

4.) Air Force orders 15 more KC-46A Pegasus tankers under $2.3 billion contract - The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract for the ninth production lot of 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, expanding its fleet of multi-mission aerial refuelers. [Full story]

5.) FBP outlines air charter service contract for prison inmate in New York - The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP): Metropolitan Detention Center, located in Brooklyn, N.Y., put out a request last month for air charter services to transport a prison inmate to the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. [Full story]

Monday, January 30, 2023

Air Force orders 15 more KC-46A Pegasus tankers under $2.3 billion contract

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract for the ninth production lot of 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, expanding its fleet of multi-mission aerial refuelers. To date, 128 KC-46A Pegasus tankers are on contract with the U.S. Air Force, with 68 delivered and operationally deployed worldwide.

The KC-46A Pegasus delivers fuel to airborne aircraft and can transport cargo, personnel, and aeromedical missions. Last year, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command approved the KC-46A for global operations including combat deployment.

The Pegasus continues to demonstrate its agile combat employment capabilities, recently completing a 42-hour endurance flight supporting a U.S. Air Force Bomber Task Force mission in the Indo-Pacific region.

During 2022, KC-46A aircraft operated in a series of U.S. Air Force global employment exercises in the European theater, Indo-Pacific region, and the Middle East.

Boeing builds KC-46A aircraft on the 767 production line in Everett, Wash., supported by a supplier network of about 37,000 workers employed by more than 650 businesses throughout more than 40 U.S. states.

Boeing is on contract for 138 KC-46A Pegasus tankers globally. Boeing has delivered two of six KC-46A tankers to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and is on contract for four KC-46A tankers for the Israel Air Force. The expanding global fleet creates commonality and interoperability efficiencies and mission-readiness advantages for the U.S. Air Force and its allies.