March 28, 2015

US Air Force and Navy designing FA-XX sixth generation fighter jets to replace F22 and F 18 E/F

The Navy and the Air Force could team up for their early look into their next crop of fighters (FA-XX program) due out in 2030, the Navy’s director of air warfare told USNI News.

In 2016, the US Navy and US air force are in a position to set out on a joint analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the follow on to Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter, said Rear Adm. Mike Manazir.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, the Navy has set aside $5 million to start the F/A-XX work — planned to replace the Super Hornets in the 2030s.

The AoA — for the Navy — will focus replacing the capabilities of the fighter with a wide-range of options.

So what we would look at is everything — from an airframe, to a family of systems, to continuing something we already have flying, to capabilities that we already have in the air wing or the joint world — to assess what we really need to replace the Super Hornet,” Manazir said.

“We’re advancing engine technology. We’re working with academia, industry, other services — the weapons labs in the services to advance that technology. We’re also advancing technology in outer mold lines for airframes for faster air speeds from traditional airframes — trying to make them go faster for the fight. Obviously broadband stealth and IR stealth, the capabilities we could put into coatings, ways you could use electromagnetic energy, ways that you could dominate the EM spectrum a little better,” Manazir said.

China News Roundup - x-ghost cities, over 13 million unregistered ghost children, booming mobile commerce and US bungled policy

Nextbigfuture will be bundling news that relates to China or India to make articles on these topic less frequent and easier to skip for those not interested in this topic. We will still have standalone articles on China and India where appropriate. Here we hae four topic related to China.

The dominant angle on China's ghost cities is that four decades of overzealous growth is starting to catch up with China. China is accused of irresponsible development. The so-called ghost cities are shown as irrefutable evidence of an imminent economic meltdown. But when a Chinese “ghost city” does fill up with people and businesses it inconspicuously falls off the radar of the dominant international media. It becomes a regular city, mashed into China’s broader urban matrix — a success story that few seem interested in hearing about. We are amused by empty streets, vacant shopping malls, and barren financial districts in China, not budding new cities steadily coming to life. Ex-ghost cities are rarely news.

Standard Chartered had 2014 report on the ghost cities.

Our travels reduced our worries about ghost cities but raised our concerns about credit supply across the sector.

We believe ‘ghost’ cities are a temporary phenomenon for a country such as China that pursues continuous urbanisation. This is because of the long development cycle of new districts – typically divided into three main stages: the initial phase, the rapid growth phase and the mature phase – which normally lasts for 10-15 years.

The occupancy rate for the first few years typically tends to be low and then gradually rises during the second phase, when infrastructure and economic activity continues to improve. The occupancy rate could reach 70-90% levels when the area is fully developed and mature.

Occupancy rates were apparently higher than media reported in the four cities we visited. For example, the occupancy rate for Zhengdong New City in Zhengzhou has improved to 50-60% currently from only 20-30% several years ago. The occupancy rate for the other three ghost cities have also improved in comparison to two to three years ago.

City               Residential occupancy 2012         2014       Inventory
Dantu, Zhenjiang      10%                              40%        18-20 months
Wujin, Changzhou      20%                              50%        18-20 months
Zhengdong, Zhengzhou  30%                              60%        15-18 months
Sky City, Hangzhou    30%                              50%        15-20 months
Pudong, Shanghai                                    70-90% 

Milton Friedman criticized Pudong in 2001, but Pudong bounced back in 2005 and now has high occupancy rates.

Even in China it takes 11-20 years to get a new city or large scale new urban development area to mature.

March 27, 2015

Will Saudi Arabia get a nuclear bomb ?

There are reports that Pakistan would sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, if the United States succeeded in negotiating an Iranian nuclear deal. The US and Iran may be preparing to sign an agreement at the end of March.

The UK Independent states that western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60% of Pakistan’s nuclear programme in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice, the Guardian newspaper reported in 2010.

Eurasia Review says that it is ridiculous to believe that Pakistan would sell Saudi Arabia the bomb. Muhammad Umar case at the Eurasia Review is that Pakistan would never offer Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons, because of the political, strategic, and normative consequences. Saudi Arabia would never want to obtain nuclear weapons because it is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Adel Al-Jubeir, said the subject [of Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons] was “not something we would discuss publicly.

In 2012 the Saudi Arabian government threatened to acquire nuclear weapons were neighbouring regional power Iran ever to do so.

“Politically, it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom,” a senior Saudi source told The Times newspaper at the time.

Nextbigfuture believes the Independent UK and that Saudi Arabia has the money and resources to go nuclear if they so desired. However, this would be done in a deniable and secretive way to avoid sanctions.

Time indicates that Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have nuclear weapons programs. However, the article confuses nuclear power with nuclear weapons programs. Civilian nuclear power is not the short path to nuclear weapons.

Pakistan nuclear missile

Saudi Arabia invades Yemen with 150,000 soldiers, 100 fighter jets and 76 fighters from partners

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed Shiite rebel forces in Yemen, responding to distress calls from the U.S.-backed Yemeni president who was fleeing the country in the face of relentless advances by the rebels.

The intervention brings the risk that Yemen will become ground zero for a proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states against Iran, the region’s largest Shiite power, and signals a marked escalation of complexity in the evolving war gripping several nations across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units on Thursday, after it launched its operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. The UAE contributed 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwaiti 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 in the operation.

Yemen's beleaguered government said Saudi-led airstrikes against its Houthi militia opponents would not last long on the second day of a Gulf Arab-led campaign against the Iranian-allied militia that could escalate a proxy conflict spreading through the region.

Warplanes targeted Houthi forces controlling Yemen's capital and their northern heartland on Friday and, in a boost for Riyadh, fellow monarchy Morocco said it would join the rapidly-assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Shi'ite Muslim group.

Quantum compuer resistant version of public key encryption from modified knapsack code

- Washington State University mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer.

Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

Quantum computers operate on the subatomic level and theoretically provide processing power that could be exponentially faster than classical computers. Several companies are in the race to develop quantum computers including Google and Dwave Systems.

The currently popular internet security algorithms are nor resistant to quantum computers. Online transactions ranging from buying a book on Amazon to simply sending an email would need to be upgraded with new algorithms if quantum computers are successful.

A new public key code

Looking to protect future online information, Hamlin and retired mathematics professor William Webb turned to the long-abandoned knapsack code. To bring it up to quantum level - and possibly use it as a new type of public key encryption - the researchers first engineered new numbering systems for the code.

"We used alternate ways of representing numbers," said Hamlin.

In effect, they created new digital systems with much greater complexity than society's day-to-day decimal and binary systems.

"By using very complicated number strings, we produced a new version of the knapsack code that can't be broken by the usual cyber attack methods," said Webb.

As a result, Hamlin and Webb believe the redesigned knapsack code could offer a viable alternative for public key encryption with quantum computing.

Arxiv - A Knapsack-like Code Using Recurrence Sequence Representations


We had recently shown that every positive integer can be represented uniquely using a recurrence sequence, when certain restrictions on the digit strings are satisfied. We present the details of how such representations can be used to build a knapsack-like public key cryptosystem. We also present new disguising methods, and provide arguments for the security of the code against known methods of attack.

Boeing patents temporary plasma forcefields that will reduce shockwaves from explosions

Boeing has a patent for temporary "forcefields" against shockwaves. The blast shockwave would be attenuated by creating a plasma.

An arc generator may be configured to generate a focused microwave beam or a focused laser beam. The focused beam rapidly heats the air in the selected region and changes its temperature, density and composition, the latter the result of the creation of free electrons.

The arc generator may be adapted to create a conducting path for the electric current. Accordingly, the arc generator may be configured to generate one or more of a laser-induced plasma channel (LIPC) from converging laser beams, ionizing tracer pellets fired along converging paths, and projectiles trailing fine electrical wires fired along converging paths. In each of these embodiments, an electric arc may be generated to travel along a conducting path created by dielectric breakdown of ionized ambient air at the selected region.

The plasma would alter electric and magnetic properties and other conditions to reflect, refract, absorb and deflect at least a portion of the shockwave.

The New Aircraft carriers for UK, Japan, USA, China and India by 2020

The estimated cost for the UK of building the two large aircraft carriers has almost doubled to more than £6bn. The F-35 programme, meanwhile, has faced serious technical problems and the cost of the aircraft has spiralled to an estimated £70m each.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier under construction for the Royal Navy, with plans for active service from 2020. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are unique among world aircraft carriers in having two islands, the forward one housing the main bridge for ship control and the aft island is for air control.

Britain’s order of 14 planes is expected to cost £2.5bn if running costs are included. The original plan was to buy 138 F-35s. To save money, the MoD dropped plans to buy the “cats and traps” – catapult launch and arrester wire landing – version of the F-35.

The Queen Elizabeth class (70,600 tonnes) can carry up to 40 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II multirole jets, but a more likely airwing is 12 or 24 F-35B and a helicopter group of anti-submarine AW101 Merlins and troop transport helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is finashed construction

Prince of Wales Dec 1, 2014 under construction

Russian plans building a dozen new guide missile destoyer and then a supercarrier

Deputy Commander of the Russian Navy Admiral Igor Kasatonov recently announced that Russia would build its first aircraft carrier – although construction will begin only after 2025.

The National Interest, citing Itar-Tass News Agency, reported that the proposed carrier would be able to hold about 100 aircraft and would use a catapult take-off system.

In his statement, Kasatonov noted that Russia would gain experience in constructing and operating of large modern ships while completing the ocean-going destroyer ship “Leader,” which would become the “theoretical basis and the foundation for the construction of an aircraft carrier.” In mid-February, the chief of naval aviation of the Russian Navy, Major General Igor Kozhin said that technically everything is ready and the aircraft carrier may be built in 8-10 years.

Russia’s new destroyers are entering the design stages in 2015. The lead ship, the chief military purpose of which is to establish supremacy on the open sea, will become operative no sooner than 2025. It is presumed that the destroyer will be equipped with the Caliber cruise missile system and the Prometheus ZRK (anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system).

The construction of the first of the series of 12 ships – half a dozen for the Northern and Pacific fleets – is not expected before 2023-2025.

March 26, 2015

Sakti could mass produce next generation solid state battery for around $100 per kwh

Sakti3, a startup with $15 million of investment by billionaire James Dyson and $50 million from other sources, claims to have already generated twice the energy density of the most advanced lithium ion battery on the market today with a new solid state battery.

Toyota has a battery roadmap showing power and energy densities expected for selected battery technologies suggests that all solid-state batteries are an important step in the evolution of batteries for electric vehicles, but are not the ultimate solution.

Sakti3, Inc. ( announced that in mid-2014 that they had produced a battery cell on fully scalable equipment with over 1100 Watt hours per liter (Wh per l) in volumetric energy density. This translates to more than double the usage time in a wearable device like a smartwatch, from 3.5 h to more than 9 h. It also translates to almost double the range in an EV like the Tesla Model S, from 265 mi to 480 mi.

Sakti3 reports that it demonstrated over 1000 Wh per l in 2012, and has since moved to a pilot tool, using all scalable materials and equipment. The technology development was guided by mathematical simulations, starting with materials, and continuing to full scale plant layout to avoid any high cost materials, equipment or processes.

”Our [Sakti's] target is to achieve mass production of cells at ~$100 per kWh,” said Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3. “Our key patents on the technology have been issued, we are up and running on larger tooling, and can now speed up processing. Our first market will be consumer electronics, and after that, we’ll move to other sectors.”

Global sand use for building a larger Singapore, construction and fracking

A conservative estimate for the world consumption of aggregates (sand and gravel) exceeds 40 billion tonnes a year. This is twice the yearly amount of sediment carried by all of the rivers of the world making humankind the largest of the planet’s transforming agent with respect to aggregates.

Desert sand is no good for construction because the wind erosion makes the sand too round to bind in cement.

Extracting sand is a $70 billion per year industry.

Sand prices are now about $70 per ton and sometimes can be as high as $200 per ton. There is global criminal activity related to the sand trade and there are environmental effects. The average price of sand imported by Singapore was US$3 per tonne from 1995 to 2001, but the price increased to US$190 per tonne from 2003 to 2005

Singapore only imported about 517 million tons over 20 years out of 40 billion per year but this is a major part of imports because big countries can get sand from elsewhere in their own country

Large Hadron Collider upgraded to 13 Trillion electron volts, could get 10 times more luminosity then a 100 TeV successor

In 2015, CERN has detailed planning for a large-scale upgrade to increase luminosity and thereby exploit the LHC to its full potential. The HL (High Luminosity) LHC is CERN’s number-one priority and will increase the number of collisions accumulated in the experiments by a factor of ten from 2024 onwards. The High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC; formerly SLHC, Super Large Hadron Collider) is a proposed upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider to be made after around ten years of operation. The upgrade aims at increasing the luminosity of the machine by a factor of 10, up to 10^35 cm−2s−1, providing a better chance to see rare processes and improving statistically marginal measurements.

In 2015, the LHC has been upgraded to operate with an energy of 13 TeV, almost double its previous maximum energy.

Even though the LHC programme is already well defined for the next two decades, the time has come to look even further ahead, so CERN is now initiating an exploratory study for a future long-term project centred on a new-generation circular collider with a circumference of 80 to 100 kilometres. A worthy successor to the LHC, whose collision energies will reach 14 TeV, such an accelerator would allow particle physicists to push back the boundaries of knowledge even further. The Future Circular Collider (FCC) programme will focus especially on studies for a hadron collider, similar to the LHC, capable of reaching unprecedented energies in the region of 100 TeV.

Co-pilot crashed commercial jet shows need for emergency remote override and crash alert

The chief Marseille prosecutor handling the investigation of the crash of a Germanwings jetliner said on Thursday that evidence from the cockpit voice recorder indicated that the co-pilot had deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the plane into its fatal descent.

How to get Emergency Remote override

In the case of the Germanwings jetliner. The sane pilot or a stewardess would activate a commercial aviation grade Crashalert. Lifealert is famous for the "I have fallen and cannot get up" commercials.

This would have ground control institute an emergency override and first put the plane into safe flight mode. Where it could no longer have a rapid descent and would have crash avoidance systems active. Video cameras would be broadcast the interior of the plane to the remote center. The situation could be investigated and when in doubt just put the plane in for a safe landing at the nearest suitable airport.

This would deal with 9-11 situations and the Germanwings situation.

Passengers, stewardesses and airmartials could register and pre-certify themselves and be given the suitable level of permissions to crashalert. Even uncertified people could call in but would not have total priority until sanity investigations are conducted. But activating cameras and checking instrumentation remotely could be done.

The systems could also feed information for general automated remote monitoring. This could put a plane into more active monitoring when unusual activity is detected.

Thousands of trained remote pilots

The Defense Department planned to spend about $5 billion on unmanned systems in fiscal 2015, the vast majority for unmanned aerial systems, or UAVs, according to a report. The Pentagon has more than 200 Predators and more than 100 Reapers, which can also be used for strike missions and are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., based in San Diego.

There are nearly 1,000 active-duty pilots for Predators and Reapers, though more than 1,200 such pilots are needed.

The Air Force currently trains about 180 remotely piloted aircraft operators a year, but needs about 300 of them and loses about 240 due to attrition, Welsh said. Even the training units are chronically understaffed because many trainers are pulled from operational units, he said.

The service is considering following the Army in allowing non-commissioned officers fly unmanned aircraft.

Have a remote piloting center and separate oversight of remote piloting activity. Make sure no one crazy at the remote center can do something bad either.

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