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Awesome Fatima Center Conference Coming to DFW March 9-11 2018 January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Grace, Latin Mass, priests, Restoration, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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The Fatima Center/Our Lady’s Army of Advocates will be holding a conference at the DFW airport Hyatt Regency March 9-11 2018.  A bevy of fantastic speakers are lined up, including this blog’s favorite Father Michael Rodriguez, Fr. Paul McDonald, Father Isaac Mary Relyea, Chris Ferrara, Michael Matt, and many other top speakers.  Rates for the conference vary, the rate for the entire weekend is $270 which includes meals but not lodging, but walk-in rates starting at $20 are available for the main Saturday conference, which, yay! The Sunday conference is also only $20 if you brown bag it.  What a great Lenten retreat!  I pray my wife and I and perhaps some of the kids are able to attend, it should be a fantastic event.

The flyer is below.  The complete list of speakers is here.  Father Rodriguez is mostly speaking on Sunday, for those with a particular interest in hearing him, though I’m certain the entire conference will be wonderful and well worth attending.  We should be able to make at least one of the days.  The rest of the conference schedule is here.

Flyer-Dallas2018

This conference is not just for locals.  Come in from Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, El Paso, and much further afield!  If you do plan to attend, please leave a comment and we can try to set up a meeting if you want.  I’m sure I’ll/we’ll be at least one of the days.

What a blessed event for our area and dioceses.  Though Mass will be offered each day of the conference and I’m certain the speakers will be quite busy, it would be wonderful if any of them could take a short trip over to Irving and drop by Mater Dei.  I know their presence would be most appreciated, and it might be interesting for them to see such a large traditional parish.  We’ll see.

I will post additional reminders and announcements as the event nears.  If any of the organizers would like any particular aspects advertised, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me at larryr103@gmail.com.  I’m eager to spread the word on this great catechetical and social activity.

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USAF Hosting Largest Ever Red Flag Exercise, Featuring Massive GPS Blackout over Western US January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology, Uncategorized.
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Now I know why I didn’t do a Flightline Friday for months – I knew once I got started on the subject, I wouldn’t be able to stop.  You’re witnessing the transformation of this formerly dumb Catholic blog to a smart military blog.

Actually, I’ve been just pounded at work this week and when I get a moment, I want to read something “light,” which has meant military. Because nothing says light like war and death.

Red Flag is the world’s premiere, largest, most complex, most realistic air warfare exercise.  Red Flags are typically held 4-6 times a  year, always at Nellis Air Force base adjacent to Las Vegas and the sprawling Nellis Test and Training Range.  Red Flag 18-1 is the first of the year, as the name implies, and is also the largest ever held.  Not only that, it is also one of the most secretive, highest-end threat environments ever presented at Red Flag, which is saying something, because many aircrew maintain that after experiencing the rigors of Red Flag, actual combat seems rather dull and uneventful.  Red Flag generally prepares aircrews for the highest end fight, against the most complex defenses and the most skilled adversaries.  This year is no exception, as, for the first time ever, USAF will be making use of GPS-jamming technologies so powerful that normal GPS reception over almost the entire western US will be affected for several hours a day while the exercises are ongoing:

The year’s first iteration of the USAF’s premier set of aerial war games, known commonly as Red Flag, is kicking off today at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas, but this exercise will be different than any in the past. Not only is it the largest of its kind in the exercise’s 42 year history, but the USAF is going to blackout GPS over the sprawling Nevada Test and Training Range to challenge aircrews and their weaponry under realistic fighting conditions. The tactic will spill over throughout the region, with warnings being posted stating inconsistent GPS service could be experienced by aircrews flying throughout the western United States.

The NBAA Command Center reports the U.S. military will begin training exercises on the Nevada Test and Training Range between 0400Z until 0700Z daily. Training maneuvers will impact vast portions of the Western U.S. including California, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico. FAA enroute ATC centers affected include Albuquerque (ZAB), Denver (ZDV), Los Angeles (ZLA), Salt Lake (ZLC), Oakland (ZOA) and Seattle (ZSE). Operations in R-2508 and R-2501 may also be impacted.

Arrivals and departures from airports within the Las Vegas area may be issued non-Rnav re-routes with the possibility of increased traffic disruption near LAS requiring airborne re-routes to the south and east of the affected area. Aircraft operating in Los Angeles (ZLA) center airspace may experience navigational disruption, including suspension of Descend-via and Climb-via procedures. Non-Rnav SIDs and STARs may be issued within ZLA airspace in the event of increased navigational disruption. Crews should expect the possibility of airborne mile-in-trail and departure mile-in-trail traffic management initiatives.

Those dates and the location perfectly correspond with Red Flag 18-1. The timeframe for the daily disruptions is also the same as the night launch and recovery period for Red Flag this time of year. Two major large force employment missions take place every day during the exercise, one during the light and one during the night, with each last roughly two to three hours.

This particular Red Flag includes players from the USAF, USMC, Australia and UK. [Those are the US’ top-tier allies and get access to the darkest and spookiest stuff.  Britain used to far and away be the most trusted in that respect, but more and more of late Australia is given the most favored nation status in access to highly classified capabilities and programs. Still, the two are easily the most trusted and given access to the most sensitive capabilities – and vice versa.  The militaries of the US, Britain, and Australia share as much, and are as integrated, as any in the world.] The very limited guest list of only America’s most trusted allies is indicative of a Red Flag exercise where high-end and sensitive capabilities will be put to the test. According to a press release from the USAF that was posted just hours ago, this seems to be an accurate assumption, with Colonel Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, stating:

“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1… It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness… Red Flag 18-1 primarily is a strike package focused training venue that we integrate at a command and control level in support of joint task force operations… It’s a lot of words to say that we integrate every capability we can into strike operations that are flown out of Nellis Air Force Base.” [So Red Flag also often involves lower-tier allies, and even some nations that are only kinda sorta friendly, like India.  Adversaries are not invited. So, it’s not unusual for the Israeli Air Force to attend, or Colombia, S. Korea, and certainly other NATO nations.  But this one is reserved only for the closest allies, which says something special is going on]

If you read  yesterday’s single post, you know that the US presently has a significant vulnerability to anti-satellite weapons, which is another way to deny critical capabilities like GPS to US forces.  Powerful ground- or air-based jammers are another way to accomplish the same goal.  I’m glad, in a sense, to see USAF taking the threat seriously and training to fight in a GPS-degraded environment.  My brother-in-law who is apparently a genius at packaging ever-smaller and cheaper inertial navigation systems (INS) into aircraft, weapons, ships, and ground vehicles has his work cut out for him, but should stay busy for years.

A bit of a rah-rah video from USAF on this Red Flag 18-1.

Unfortunately, a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing EF-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft caught fire and was severely damaged during the exercises this week.  Apparently the crew were able to escape without injury, but the aircraft is likely a total write off.  It seems the starboard engine caught fire and burned through the empennage.

As to the threat, here’s a video the Navy released of Russian Su-27 Flankers – armed with live missiles – flying dangerously close to an EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance aircraft over the international waters/airspace of theBlack Sea recently.  This kind of thing used to happen occasionally during the Cold War, but has been occurring regularly, several times a year, since tensions mounted with Russia over their intervention in the Ukraine/Crimea:

In some of those shots, that Flanker is single digit feet from the Aries.  Dangerous.  Lots of potential for bad things to happen with that kind of behavior.

Don’t Have a Freak Out – Russian, Chinese Anti-Satellite Technology Nothing New January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, history, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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This article from Hot Air is remarkably ignorant of history.  It does not mention, for instance, Program 437, which ran from 1962 until 1975, which involved launching a Thor missile from Johnson Atoll in the Pacific to down low earth orbit satellites and/or fractional orbit bombardment systems (FOBS) – a kind of nuclear warhead designed to behave like a satellite and thus attack by stealth, possibly from a surprising direction – like from the south.  This was an active US anti-satellite (ASAT) capability for over a decade.

And even Program 437 was preceded by another American ASAT system, Program 505, which used a Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile missile to also target low earth orbit satellites and FOBS.  505 was phased out because Thor could reach much higher altitudes than Zeus, up to 800 miles above earth – really out of LEO territory and into medium orbits.  Both were armed with nuclear warheads to make sure they killed what they targeted, though they were accurate enough (at least Zeus was) to get skin-to-skin hits even way back in the very early 60s.  Satellites and ICBM reentry vehicles behave in extremely similar ways, if you have a capability against one, you have a capability against the other.  And right now, the US missile defense system is neither the world’s most advanced nor it’s most comprehensive.  Apparently, many other nations have concluded that shooting down targets on entirely predictable ballistic paths is not impossible.  Because it’s not, and we’ve been doing it for nearly 60 years, though the current Ground Based Mid-Course Defense system is kind of a kludge and has been starved of vital infrastructure for years (like enough radars to discriminate targets).

The thing is, all of our major world adversaries have had a similar capability for decades.  Pretty much, if you have the ability to orbit a satellite, you have the ability to shoot them down, at least the ones in LEO. Simply calculate the orbit of the target satellite, and launch your own to coincide with at some determined time, and blammo, no more satellite. The Soviets had a massive ASAT program from the 60s on, and deployed a number of ASAT systems, up to an including a 1 megawatt laser battle station prototype, which, thank God, failed to achieve orbit when it’s booster turned the wrong direction and fired it back into the atmosphere (that was in 1987, when the same Soviets were screaming to all the world, and had eager acolytes in the Western press doing same, that orbital laser battle stations were an impossibility.  They were actually way ahead of us at the time, and in some ways, still are).

Anyhoo, some statist media were trying to work up a panic today, eagerly parroting what their patrons in the Deep State wanted them to say, proclaiming that Oh My God, the bad guys are threatening us again!  It’s all much ado about nothing (or very little, and very old, news), but it does point up that, indeed, at present, the US has no viable, operational ASAT system, not because we don’t have the ability, or can’t afford it, but by deliberate act of policy. Any number of systems have been proposed, and a good number have reached the hardware stage, but demonrats in Congress (or the executive branch) have always managed to scuttle them, since we signed a stupid treaty in 1967 that pretends to ban warfare in outer space.*  Good luck with that:

China and Russia are developing anti-satellite missiles and other weapons and will soon be capable of damaging or destroying all U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

The Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2, issued the warning in a recent report on the growing threat of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons from those states, according to officials familiar with the assessment.

The report concludes that “China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit” in the next several years, said the officials.

The capability to attack low-earth orbit satellites could be in place by 2020, the officials said.

Notice the subtle manipulation – there is a big threat, but it’s not quite real, yet.  We’re safe for now.  But you better pour billions into our pet project, or we’ll be doomed, doomed!

There actually is a real threat out there, but I think it has much more to do with how the US defense establishment has allowed its operations to evolve into this desire for an ultimate control, God’s eye view of the battlespace, requiring massive recon and even more massive data transfer capabilities.  Because the “gods” don’t want to be anywhere near an actual battlefield, which tend to be in hot, nasty, dusty, and sticky places.  They want to sit in their air conditioned cocoon in DC and call all the shots.  The only, or easiest, way to get worldwide recon and transmission of data is via satellite.  Thus, the US military is now incredibly, incredibly dependent on constant and massive satellite presence, a very very delicate system and one with a thousand and one dire vulnerabilities and single points of failure. Thus the screaming about the threat.  25 years ago, satellites were very nice to have an in some limited ways even vital, but the Gulf War could have been fought with a serious reduction in our satellite capabilities without a great deal of impact at the operational level.  Nowadays, literally everything runs via satellite, from the Predator footage that allows Obama to sit in the Oval Office and watch a terrorist get Hellfired in Yemen, to all the JDAMs/JSOWs/JASSMs and other “joint” bombs and missiles that now make up the overwhelming majority of the ordinance dropped by tactical aircraft, which, similarly, navigate via satellite.  There is still some sanity, many of these bombs and certainly the aircraft have embedded INS and other systems to back up and replace the GPS if need be, but a) those are just that, back ups, and not used much anymore, and b) the entire concept of operations, training, budgets, etc., are focused around constant availability of very expensive, very few, and very vulnerable satellites.  This actually is a very major concern for the US, because satellites are extremely difficult to harden, and they are very easy to find (there are ways around this, satellites do contain maneuvering fuel, but not very much, and a few orbit changes to avoid a threat will use that up very quickly.  Plus, moving them around causes them to not be where you need them to be when you need them – at least some of the less numerous kinds. Probably most of you would be shocked to know how FEW recon “spy” satellites the US has in orbit – even adding in the radar and other non-visual types, it isn’t even 10, and may be as few as 4 or 5).

Thus, ZUMA, which some of you may have heard of, was probably not actually a failed mission, but is almost certainly a prototype (or not so prototype) stealth satellite design.  That’s one way to avoid being targeted – many amateur astronomers, radio hobbyists, etc, are able to track all publicly acknowledged satellites by their transmissions (even if they cannot decode them), literally see them in orbit, etc.  It is known there have been some stealth satellites that were not visible to the ground and used transmission technologies that most ordinary enthusiasts could not ID and track.  Several of these have been orbited over the years.  ZUMA appears to be another one, but unusually large and with an unusual cover story.

*- While the Us has no acknowledged, purpose-built ASAT system at present, as recently as 10 years ago, the US very publicly shot down a satellite in LEO using an ABM missile (a Navy Standard 3 missile, our best ICBM defense weapon at this point).  If a nation has an operational ABM system, it most certainly has at least some measure of an ASAT capability. I’m sure Obama scratched any further development of that capability, even at the classified level, but perhaps Trump will turn it back on.

In the past, I’d have said that was a good thing.  Not so sure anymore.

Sorry I do have a lot of good Catholic stuff to get to but had little time today.  I’m really running late now, have a blessed evening.

Sorry for the atrocious pic – who would take it from between some fuzzy covers, and why? But it’s the only one that shows what we could have had, and almost had – a layered missile defense system covering almost the entire US with nearly 1000 interceptors (more could have been added later) with numerous, very capable and very hardened, targeting radars. Not sure why New Orleans and El Paso were left uncovered – Miami, too, apparently. This system wasn’t really good against SLBMs but with additional radars and interceptor sites, easily could have been. Yes it was expensive but at present we have almost no defense, and for some of the country, none at all, against a ballistic missile attack, nuclear or otherwise.
These are coverage areas of the proposed – and somewhat built – Sentinel ABM system, which later was called Safeguard under Nixon, and then cancelled by the commie Congress of the mid-70s that came in the national temper tantrum in the wake of Watergate, which was an absolute nothing burger compared to what the corrupt federal government is up to today, and has been since at least Jan 20 2009, when Obama turned it into the paramilitary enforcement branch of the demonrat party.