Notes from all around

The Canadian Defense Minister now thinks that Pakistan is the “most dangerous country in the world”. At a talk I recently attended on Pakistan, the speaker said the country was ruled by the “Three A’s: Army, Allah and America”. And remember that America has no direct armed force in the fight.


Extremist attacks across nuclear-armed Pakistan in recent years have made it “the most dangerous country in the world,” Canada’s Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Monday. “I’m extremely concerned,” MacKay told a press conference. “The instability in Pakistan in my view makes Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world.”

Meanwhile, in other developments, Pakistan is going to test-fire the “Spada 2000 air defense system it has acquired from MBDA Italia”.

Across the border in Afghanistan, 84 schoolgirls were poisoned for the apparent crime of learning while female. The main goal of any terror-based insurgency is to maintain control over the population. Defeating superior counterinsurgency forces is secondary or even unnecessary. Who stays — in the village — wins. Who closes the schools — or keeps them open — wins. In some deeply philosophical way counter-terrorism is not at all about a “cycle of violence”. It’s about a clash of cultures.

At least 98 patients were admitted from Aftab Bachi school, including the principal, 11 teachers and two cleaners, said Khalid Enayat, the hospital’s deputy director. He said about another 30 students were being monitored to see if they developed symptoms, although they were not admitted to the hospital. An official earlier said 89 schoolgirls had been hospitalized.

Tuesday’s apparent attack is the third alleged poisoning at a girls’ school in less than three weeks. It comes one day after 61 schoolgirls and one teacher from a school in neighboring Parwan province were admitted to a hospital after complaining of sudden illness. They were irritable, confused and weeping, and several of the girls passed out.


Now there’s news that the USMC, perhaps without the budget to acquire AC-130 gunships of their own, have bought conversion kits called Harvest Hawk to convert KC-130 tanker assets into gunships. The kit will consist of “a modular surveillance and targeting pod taking up the rear portion of the inboard left external fuel tank, an AGM-114 Hellfire missile rack on the left wing, and a modular 30mm ATK cannon rolled in and mounted in the troop door.”

In other aviation news, Pratt and Whitney reports that it has successfully tested a “dual mode” ramjet engine. The interesting question is what sort of aircraft would use a dual mode engine.

A dual-mode ramjet engine is designed to operate as both a ramjet at moderate supersonic speeds (up to Mach 5) and a scramjet at hypersonic speeds (greater than Mach 5).

This broad range of operational capability is required for turbine-based, combined-cycle propulsion that would enable a vehicle to take off from and land on a conventional runway, and travel at speeds up to Mach 6.

One cited problem is the lack of any way to conceal such an aircraft. Wikipedia writes “there is no published way to make a scramjet powered vehicle (or any other hypersonic vehicle) have any sort of stealth. This is because the vehicle would be very hot due to its high speed within the atmosphere, and it would be easy to detect with infrared sensors. However, any aggressive act against a scramjet vehicle during flight would be nearly impossible because of the high speed at which it operates. However, if the aircraft was covered with RADAR absorbent material (RAM), the scramjet vehicle would be slightly more stealthy at lower speeds and altitudes.”


Lastly, one of the “wow” features at any Australian air show is the dump and burn routine of the F-111s, which the RAAF still operates. A video of a dump and burn shown below. Somehow I think it would be a bad idea to ask the RAAF to provide entertainment for a conference on Global Warming.

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