Going Hypersonic

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The U.S. Air Force is making progress in developing a hypersonic weapon based on the success of an experimental scramjet program, engineers said.

The service in 2013 conducted its fourth and longest flight of the so-called X-51 WaveRider. After separating from a rocket launched beneath the wing of a B-52 bomber, the hypersonic vehicle built by Boeing Co. climbed to 60,000 feet, accelerated to Mach 5.1 and flew for about three and a half minutes before running out of fuel and plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

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EMP attack worries

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New concerns are being raised that the nation’s electrical grid and critical infrastructure are increasingly vulnerable to a catastrophic foreign attack — amid speculation over whether officials are eyeing a former Cold War bunker, inside a Colorado mountain, as a “shield” against such a strike.

North American Aerospace Defense Command is looking for ways to protect itself in the event of a massive electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack — a deliberate burst of energy that could disrupt the electrical grid and cripple NORAD’s ability to defend the nation.

“What it could do, these various threats, is black out the U.S. electric grid for a protracted period of months or years,” warned Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force, a bipartisan congressional commission. “Nine out of ten Americans could die from starvation, disease and societal collapse, if the blackout lasted a year.”

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Russian Air Force Upgrades

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Russia is rapidly attempting to modernize its air force. Dmitry Gorenberg, a research scientist writing for the blog Russian Military Reform, notes that the Kremlin is allocating $US130 billion for modernization efforts through 2020.

As part of this multi-billion modernization plan, Gorenberg notes Russia will acquire “more than 600 modern aircraft, including fifth-generation fighters, as well as more than 1,000 helicopters and a range of air defence systems.”

According to Gorenberg, Russia has been successful so far in terms of replacing its combat aircraft with newer variants. As of January, Moscow has introduced 28 Su-35S, 34 Su-30, and 20 Su-34 aircraft. In addition, the Kremlin hopes to acquire a new fleet of MiG-35 fighters as well as its own T-50 PAK FA fifth-generation jet. (pictured above)

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New Iranian missiles unveiled

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Iran unveiled a new long-range missile Sunday, just days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up another round of negotiations with Iran’s foreign minister over its controversial nuclear program.

The announcement of the domestically-manufactured surface-to-surface missile, named Soumar, was made in a ceremony reported on by Iranian state news media.

While the State Department has said missiles are part of the negotiations with Iran, Iranian officials have said they have never agreed to negotiate over what they describe as the Islamic Republic’s defensive abilities, including missiles.

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