(CNN) US Energy Department assesses Covid-19 likely resulted from lab leak, furthering US intel divide over virus origin. Quoting,
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the new assessment from the Department of Energy. A senior US intelligence official told the Journal that the update to the intelligence assessment was conducted in light of new intelligence, further study of academic literature and in consultation with experts outside government.
Academic literature is important, open source, and an indicator of research with escape potential. The open source community should do some digging. This is entirely separate from research at Wuhan funded by NIH, which theory disallows as a source of COVID. See (CNN) Smerconish Interview with Kate Eban; COVID WIV Lab leak #3; Baltimore Gun Has no Smoke. Quoting,
The experiments at WIV were patterned after (Baric, 2015 Naturemedicine) A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence. If this procedure was replicated at WIV, it could not produce COVID-19. If it resulted in general competence that was used in some other way, anything is possible.
So anything is possible. My opinion runs counter to the political blame game, which is gearing up to crucify China. This should be water under the bridge. See Did COVID Come From a Lab Redux? Quoting,
This is straight-up religion, Good versus Evil, bastardized for political capital, the search for the guilty, an urge to distinguish between force majeure, and negligence-by-people-who-should-know-better. There is no sharp distinction. Since punishment is out of the question, what would a guilty verdict mean?
It means we have a choice, to turn a competitor into an enemy, or let it pass. Social media is arguably responsible for the magnitude of the COVID disaster, if not the origin.
Reaction to the China spy balloon is a comic miniature of this. Let’s reserve emotional investment for fundamental issues, like human rights. Perhaps China can still appreciate the negatives of a divided world, or a world at war.
(Aljazeera) Russia again accuses Ukraine of planning ‘false flag’ attack. Quoting,
Ukraine and its allies have dismissed such accusations as cynical attempts to spread disinformation, and have accused Moscow of planning incidents itself in a bid to blame Ukraine.
Ukraine is planning to stage a nuclear incident on its territory to pin the blame on Moscow ahead of a key United Nations meeting, Russia has alleged without providing evidence.
Prior Russian assertions have not been followed by Russian use of radiological weapons. This results in opinion of the current assertion as propaganda without material consequence. This may be a grave error. We watched with concern when Russians occupied the Zaporizhzhia reactor hall, anticipating they might stage a containment breach. They did not do so, or deploy dirty bombs, for these possible reasons:
- The prevailing winds blow towards Russia.
- Prior failure of mobilization, they were not desperate.
- Easily manufactured, dirty bombs were not present in the Russian arsenal with appropriate specification.
Now they are desperate. There has been ample time to salt aerial bombs with radioactive isotopes. In a tip of the hand, Belorussian pilots have been trained to drop “special weapons.” Belarus, a quasi nonbelligerent, may be a staging area, resulting from a Russian guess that a preemptive strike is less likely.
Effective against civilian populations, dirty bombs have been disparaged as military weapons. We have watched this war for a year, as it has evolved in ways unexpected by the military profession. It has forced a look at geography with heightened perception. The Dnipro river crossings are our focus. There are not many.
- If a bridge is hit with a 500 lb bomb, it can be repaired.
- If a bridge is contaminated by radioactive substance, without other damage, it can be washed down.
- If a bridge is hit by a 500 lb dirty bomb, it cannot be repaired. Repair activity entails too much exposure.
In countering this threat, nothing, including preemption, or provision of long range weaponry, can be excluded from consideration. Russia’s looming “air war” makes this time urgent.
This has two considerations: interception and destruction.
Interception. A U-2 intercepted the large Chinese spy balloon. Could a modified U-2 employ a weapon to destroy one? A laser is conceivable. But the concept of intercept is alien to the U-2 design, which is difficult to fly even in a deliberately planned intelligence mission. See (USAF) U-2S/TU-2S. Quoting,
…These characteristics combine to earn the U-2 a widely accepted title as the most difficult aircraft in the world to fly.
Not mentioned is that, at altitude, the U-2 flies a coffin corner as narrow as 5 knots, resulting in severe loss of maneuverability.
The classified service ceiling of the U-2 may be adequate for super-pressure balloons, easily identified by the shape, which follows geometric norms, of which the sphere is most common. Zero-pressure balloons, like the NASA “Big 60”, can easily exceed altitudes of practical airplanes. Even the Lockheed A-12 was good for a max of 95,000 feet, at a speed too fast for observation of a nearby balloon.
A short term fix. Close inspection by something like the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Streak Eagle, with high speed camera. Zoom climb is a semi ballistic maneuver that has been used for most fixed wing air-breathing altitude records, when the absolute location is unimportant. Interception would require a specialized guidance package. Kinetic destruction is conceivable, but already obsoleted by laser.
Long term, integration of interception and destruction. Integration of both functions on a commercial derivative jet, flying above the weather. Integration of:
- Upwards facing large aperture telescope.
- Replacement of Sidewinders, unit cost $400K, by laser.
Perhaps JSTARS, slated for the boneyard, could be adapted. Occasional use may not justify a new platform.
(CNN) Ukraine is burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it. Inside the Pentagon’s plan to close the gap.
For techies only. U.S. contract solicitations indicate the same basic method used in WW2, the “Upsetter method”, is employed. The Upsetter forge is a horizontal forging press.
A Signal Corps documentary explains the Upsetter method in great detail, minus the automation of the modern Scranton plant:
(CNN) China accuses US of ‘illegally’ flying balloons across its airspace.
The winds off the coast of China blow in the wrong directions, away from China:
(CNN) A trio of new intrusions leaves America’s leaders grasping for explanations. Quoting,
A deepening national security mystery is threatening a political storm after US fighter jets scrambled three days in a row to shoot down a trio of unidentified aerial objects high over the North American continent.
To all, patience. The answer will come. This is science. When it comes, it will be technical, not political.
The only political aspect is, how much do you want to spend?
(CNN) Analyst thinks this is why more unidentified objects are being spotted.
CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem wants to know the constitution of the “bigger aperture.” I’ll explain the part that any electro-physicist or radar engineer knows.
Decluttering algorithms are essential to radar function. These algorithms are characterized by scales of time, known as time constants. Normally kept fixed, these numbers are now being varied — “swept.” For a balloon, you want a larger number than for an airplane, because in most circumstances, balloons move slower.
The “aperture” has another part. Out of respect for secrecy, I will not discuss what I think it is.
(CNN) US military shoots down high-altitude object over Lake Huron on Sunday. Quoting,
The object was shaped like an octagon with strings hanging off it and did not appear to be carrying anything.
The octagonal shape renews interest in a balloon structure that may contain integral antennas:
- An octagon imposes a weight penalty over a spheroid, so there must be a good reason.
- Kapton, a favored plastic for planar antennas, is inelastic and only moderately flexible.
- Design of a highly specified antenna on a curved, dimensionally unstable substrate is hopeless.
A suspended capsule containing active electronics may have been deliberately dropped.
(CNN) US jet shoots down ‘unidentified object’ over northern Canada, Trudeau says.
After Deadhorse Alaska, this is the second balloon discovered within the polar vortex, in the vicinity of the North Warning System.
The AN/FPS-117 radar component of the North Warning System uses pulse compression to defeat jamming. To jam this radar requires detailed knowledge of its emissions. To avoid the distortion of atmospheric dispersion, the radar pulse must be sampled close to the source.
Reliable insertion into the polar vortex requires launch from Russian territory, a courtesy that may have been provided to China.
(CNN) Exclusive: US developed method to track China’s spy balloon fleet within last year, sources say. Quoting,
But the new method is important because the balloons are extremely difficult to track without it – they are slow-moving and can fly extremely high, in some cases as high as much as 60 miles up,
This error appears to be propagation of a typo in a government report.
For theoretical and practical reasons, the limit is close to 170,000 feet, 32 miles.
The world record is held by NASA “Big 60”.