A Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, carrying the DART spacecraft on its terminal mission to the Didymos binary asteroid system. (NASA)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission payload out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on 24 November 2021, the first tangible mission under the US banner of ‘planetary defense'.
The spacecraft is on a circa10-month journey to cover the 6.8 million miles to the binary asteroid system Didymos, where it will deliberately impact on the 160-m diameter moonlet Dimorphos, orbiting the main Didymos asteroid.
It is anticipated that the 610 kg DART's 6.6 km/s impact will deflect Dimorphos' orbit around Didymos by several minutes, which will be ascertained by terrestrial sensors. This will in turn be verified by a European Space Agency mission named Hera, which is set to launch in 2024 and conduct high-resolution surveys of the Didymos pair from 2026.
This marks the first attempt by humanity to deliberately interfere with celestial bodies and to defend the planet from hazardous impacts.
USAF reveals B-21 Raider stealth bomber following years of secret development
03 December 2022
by Zach Rosenberg
The B-21 Raider was unveiled to the public during a 2 December 2022 ceremony in Palmdale, California. Few details have been revealed about the two-engine bomber. (Northrop Grumman)
The US Air Force (USAF) unveiled the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber on 2 December at the company's factory at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, where the aircraft was built. At least five B-21s (not including the completed example unveiled) are in various stages of production.
“If you want to talk about integrated deterrence in action, well, just look at this aircraft,” said Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin II, introducing the aircraft. “The B-21 looks imposing, but what's under the frame and space-age coatings is even more impressive.” Austin went on to praise the B-21's range, stealth, maintainability, and adaptability – but nearly all specifications were withheld and only the aircraft's front was displayed, presumably to hide the engine outlets from public view.
French Senate submits budget request for national future fighter effort
02 December 2022
by Gareth Jennings
A model of the NGF manned fighter at the core of the FCAS/SCAF project. The French Senate has issued a budget amendment request to fund a feasibility study to develop a wholly national alternative should the project with Germany and Spain fail. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)
French lawmakers have submitted a request to develop a wholly national future combat aircraft, with a Finance Bill for 2023 amendment posted in late November.
The budget request by the French Senate is to fund a EUR10 million (USD10.5 million) feasibility study to develop a future replacement for the country's Dassault Rafale. It came after repeated references by that company's CEO, Éric Trappier, to a “Plan B” should industrial agreements not be reached on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de combat aérien du futur (SCAF) project with Airbus of Germany and Indra of Spain.
Phase 1B of the New Generation Fighter that sits at the core of FCAS/SCAF project will now go ahead, with Dassault as the lead partner. (Dassault)
The industrial partners heading up the trinational Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/Système de Combat Aérien du Futur (SCAF) have agreed to the demonstrator phase of the project.
Dassault announced the milestone on 1 December, saying that an agreement on Phase 1B of the New Generation Fighter (NGF) element of the FCAS/SCAF project had been reached with Airbus and Indra.
“Yes, today it is done. We have an agreement with Airbus,” Dassault CEO Éric Trappier said in an interview given to
. “We'll now be able to move into the next phase of studies, known as [Phase] 1B, to prepare for the development of a demonstrator, which should fly around 2029… We have been confirmed in our role as prime contractor and architect of the aircraft, and we have obtained protection for our industrial know-how and technologies.”
In this episode we speak to Claire Chu, Senior Chinese Analyst at Janes Group to discuss economic statecraft as a valuable element of your OSINT toolbox and how open source intelligence on state sponsored commercial activity can support their na...