Category Archives: AERO SPACE

China says Snowden’s stealth F-35 jet hack accusations ‘groundless’

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(Reuters) – China dismissed accusations that it stole F-35 stealth fighter plans as groundless on Monday, after documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on a cyber attack were published by a German magazine.

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged that hackers had targeted sensitive data for defense programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but stopped short of publicly blaming China for the F-35 breach.

Defense experts say that China’s home-grown stealth jets had design elements resembling the F-35.

The Pentagon and the jet’s builder, Lockheed Martin Corp, had said no classified information was taken during the cyber intrusion.

German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday published a cache of Snowden documents, including a top secret U.S. government presentation that said China stole “many terabytes” of data on the F-35 program, including radar designs and engine schematics.

“The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

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Hong said the “complex nature” of cyber attacks makes it difficult to pinpoint the relevant attacker, adding that China wanted to work with other countries to prevent hacking.

“According to the materials presented by the relevant person, some countries themselves have disgraceful records on cyber security,” Hong added.

Snowden’s 2013 revelations of the broad reach of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying program sparked international outrage.

Lockheed Martin is producing the F-35 for the U.S. military and allies in a $399 billion project, the world’s most expensive weapons program.

It is intended to deliver advanced stealth capabilities, improved manoeuvrability and high-tech sensors, but the program has struggled with delays and budget overruns.

China unveiled its highly anticipated J-31 twin-engine fighter jet at an air show late last year in a show of muscle during a visit to the country by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The aircraft’s maker, Aviation Industry Corp of China, caused a stir when its president, Lin Zuoming, said the jet could “take down” the F-35.

President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the country’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

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Henry Sapiecha

Where is that spacecraft? Space surveillance @ work

man floats in space without craft image www.intelagencies.com

Philadelphia, PA—Space surveillance is inherently challenging when compared to other tracking environments due to various reasons, not least of which is the long time gap between surveillance updates. “Unlike the air and missile defense environments where objects are frequently observed, the space surveillance environment data is starved, with many objects going several orbital periods between observations,” according to researcher Joshua Horwood. “Thus, it is more challenging to predict the future location of these sparsely-seen objects and they have a tendency to get lost using traditional methods. A new way of tracking them, the Gauss von Mises (GVM) distribution, has improved predictive capabilities that permit one to more effectively maintain custody of infrequently-observed space objects.”

In a paper published in July in the SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification, authors Horwood and Aubrey Poore, both of Numerica Corporation, propose a more statistically rigorous treatment of uncertainty in the near-Earth space environment than currently available. The method proposed is a new class of multivariate probability density functions, called the Gauss von Mises (GVM) family of distributions.

“By more faithfully representing the uncertainty in a space object’s orbit, the GVM distribution allows one to more accurately predict the future locations of satellites and debris,” says Horwood. “Uncertainty propagation using the GVM distribution can be achieved at a computational cost commensurate with traditional methods and can maintain a proper characterization of the uncertainty for up to eight times as long.”

It is important to study uncertainty in the space surveillance tracking environment in order to protect space assets and maintain awareness of potentially adversarial space deployments. The proper characterization of uncertainty enables us to allocate resources in order to gain as much information about the system as possible, and detect satellite maneuvers. Better uncertainty quantification also helps us track and look for close approaches between any two space objects, a process called conjunction analysis.

Horwood explains further with an example, “In the problem of conjunction analysis, the use of the GVM distribution can provide a more reliable probability of collision and allows conjunction assessments further into the future. This translates into fewer false alarms and hence fewer expensive maneuver operations that have to be performed on operational spacecraft.”

In order to quantify uncertainty, proper characterization of a space object’s full state probability density function (PDF) is required to faithfully represent the statistical errors. The GVM distribution approach is supported by a suite of next-generation algorithms for uncertainty propagation, data association, space catalog maintenance, and other space situational awareness functions. What distinguishes the GVM distribution is that it is defined on a cylindrical manifold, and such coordinates, used in conjunction with the GVM distribution, can provide a statistically rigorous treatment of uncertainty needed for orbit determination and tracking.

Methods proposed in this paper will be beneficial for studying various aspects of future space surveillance. “A quantification of the uncertainties in space surveillance is a prerequisite for robustly tracking hundreds of thousands of space objects that are expected in the future,” says Horwood. “This involves various levels of research including sensor-level processing (to improve the characteristics of the measurement errors and biases), propagation of uncertainty, dynamics and space environment modeling, inverse problems such as statistical orbit determination, and high performance computing to serve the growing space catalog.”

Original release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/sfia-wit091914.php

Henry Sapiecha

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