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SEPTEMBER 2020

Apocalypse Soon? US Still Scrambling And Surging To Develop New High-Tech Weapons Systems

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Apocalypse Soon? US Still Scrambling And Surging To Develop New High-Tech Weapons Systems

Notional flight paths of hypersonic boost-glide missiles, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. (CSBA graphic)

Amidst the social and economic turmoil and critical shortages of food, medical supplies and other essential goods, the US leadership has not wavered in the slightest from its mission to secure and maintain the holy grail of planetary ‘full spectrum dominance’ and control of all possible theatres of war and conflict, which covers all possible physical, geographical, social, psychological, economic and technological dimensions and realms from outer space to the centre of the Earth and beyond.

This dangerous manic obsession poses enormous existential risks not just for the rest of the world, which will of course be ‘full spectrum dominated’ if the objective can be realized, but for the people of the United States itself as the basic needs, welfare and immediate security of its citizens are neglected – most of them at least, as no doubt in a worst-case scenario the political, military and financial/ corporate leadership will be safely ensconced in their deep military bases, Armageddon-proof bunkers or spaceships.

This raises the additional question as to who exactly makes up this privileged group of those to be saved: would Trump be ‘in the loop’ (assuming of course he is not killed in the initial conflagration), or will the Establishment nobility decide that they would rather not live locked up with him every day for eternity in a concrete cave deep underground. A Newsweek article from March of this year discusses some possible alternatives, reviewing some of the known elements of the ‘continuity of government’ strategy and contingency plans that would provide for the designation of all governance functions and powers in the US.

“Continuity of government and protection of the presidency began in the Eisenhower administration with the possibility emerging that Washington could be obliterated in an atomic attack. The need to plan for a nuclear decision-maker to survive even a direct attack led to the building of bunkers and a maze of secret procedures and exceptions, many of which are still followed to this day. Congress was also folded in – at least Congressional leadership – to ensure that there would always be a Constitutional successor. And then the Supreme Court was added (along with ‘other important figures’)…

All of these plans are the responsibility of U.S. Northern Command (or NORTHCOM), the homeland defense military authority created after 9/11. Air Force General O’Shaughnessy is NORTHCOM’s Colorado Springs-based commander.” (LINK)

Apart from the horrifying destructive potential of existing weapons of mass destruction and the very real risks of accidental or deliberate cataclysms being unleashed, the headlong rush to develop the ‘perfect weapon’ – a lot of them – must inevitably incur the risk that extremely complex, dangerous, untested technologies can get out of control as scientists and engineers experiment with their destructive potential and attempt to convert them into deployable weapons systems.

To take just one example, the number and gravity of nuclear accidents, incidents and near misses is disconcerting to say the very least. Just a small selection of reviews of the known cases: LINK 1, LINK 2, LINK 3

In 2015 USA Today published extensive research relating to the ongoing safety issues in biological laboratories in the US and elsewhere.

“Vials of bioterror bacteria have gone missing. Lab mice infected with deadly viruses have escaped, and wild rodents have been found making nests with research waste. Cattle infected in a university’s vaccine experiments were repeatedly sent to slaughter and their meat sold for human consumption. Gear meant to protect lab workers from lethal viruses such as Ebola and bird flu has failed, repeatedly.” The report revealed that “hundreds of lab mistakes, safety violations and near-miss incidents have occurred in biological laboratories coast to coast in recent years, putting scientists, their colleagues and sometimes even the public at risk.” Safety failures in biological laboratories aren’t just a problem in the US. “A small, deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China in 2004 was traced to lab workers at the National Institute of Virology in Beijing. In 2007, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease among cattle in England that required herds to be slaughtered was blamed on leaking drainage pipes at a nearby research complex.”

Accountability and supervision

The vast scale and inherently secretive, fragmented, compartmentalized nature of R&D programs makes even the most minimally effective forms of rational oversight and control impossible, and the apocalyptic Hollywood scenarios of Artificial Intelligence robots, nuclear, biological or some other type of cataclysmic weapons wreaking havoc seem ever more plausible. There is no supervision and accountability for the experiments and activities going on beyond those actually involved in the projects and their military and corporate overseers, not just in terms of the technical details but in terms of the fundamental aspects of objectives, goals and assessing the inherent risks of the programs, whether at the local, national or international level.

The Coronavirus outbreak is a case in point. Who can say whether it is a natural mutation or a laboratory invention that escaped or was deliberately released? Gilad Atzmon has written a thought provoking piece on this. (LINK)

Atzmon’s analysis contains many pertinent preliminary points in this respect:

“We have recently heard from frontline medical physicians that the current global health crisis is something they have not been trained to deal with nor do they fully understand the spectrum of symptoms they encounter in hospitals and emergency centres…

One would assume that if the virus at the centre of the current epidemic was an unsavoury present from ‘mother nature’ we would be able to trace its evolution. We likely would have seen the gradual appearance of some of the new symptoms that have caught our medical establishment unprepared. It doesn’t seem this happened. In the view of many medical practitioners the new disease is in a category of its own. It is a novelty.

This means that it is possible that the Corona virus wasn’t created by nature but by creatures who believe themselves to be greater than nature.

Since we do not know its provenance, we should treat the current epidemic as a potentially criminal act as well as a medical event. We must begin the search for the perpetrators who may be at the centre of this possible crime of global genocidal proportions.

While medical diagnosis is defined by:

  1. a determination of the nature of the cause of a disease.
  2. a concise technical description of the cause, nature, and/or manifestations of the symptoms.

Criminal investigations are primarily engaged with the human element. The criminal investigator seeks to ascertain the methods, motives, and identities of criminals, the identity of victims and may also search for and interrogate witnesses to the crime.

Treating the Corona virus as a crime would mean searching for possible offenders: individuals, institutions, or states that may have created the lethal virus as part of a research program or more directly, as an agent of biological warfare.

Law enforcement agencies often allocate dozens of investigators, officers, detectives and agents to untangle a single homicide. One would expect that following the deaths of tens of thousands around the globe, every police force, government and intelligence agency would join forces in the attempt to identify the possible culprit(s) at the root of the coronavirus crisis. We may be dealing with a negligent or criminal event on a massive scale…

A number of scientists have commented that laboratories and research centres have been engaged in the study of corona viruses and experimented with models that resemble the current virus. Specifically, some have pointed to a North Carolina laboratory that experimented with the viruses extracted from bats in 2015…

In 2014 the US National Institute of Health removed its funding of gain-of-function (GOF) experiments involving the influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses…

Treating the Corona virus outbreak as a crime ought to include a visit by the FBI to the office of the National Institute of Health and a careful review of all the files related to American laboratories conducting GOF experiments with Coronavirus. This investigative procedure must be exercised in every region and country in the world that has engaged in GOF experiments.

As soon as the Corona virus became the new disaster, Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, was quick to point to China’s biowarfare program as a possible originator of the virus.

By now, with the exception of President Trump and his Pompeo character, not many are convinced that Covid-19 is a Chinese Virus (as Trump refers to it when he wants to annoy progressives). A criminal investigation would have to examine Chinese as well as Russian, British, French, German, etc. laboratories and their safety records. It should also verify whether Dany Shoham had any evidence for his assertion regarding China or whether he was attempting to divert attention from another possible suspect in this Corona affair.

Israel, with its extensive biological warfare laboratories and WMD facilities must also be subject to thorough scrutiny…”

Several detailed investigative reports by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva provide considerable sources of information and preliminary evidence (LINK), as do numerous reports filed by Veterans Today (see, e.g., LINK 1, LINK 2).

There are of course many, many others, all of which must be collated and cross-checked, verified or dismissed.

A ‘crime scene’ based analysis must consider all possible culprits, to start with all countries that possess knowledge and capabilities in all related fields of technology and research, development and production, until and unless it has been demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction that they can be eliminated from the list of suspects.

Any countries that are prepared to make allegations against others (such as the US and China, which have been exchanging mutual accusations for some time now) must either disclose their evidence and reasons behind their accusations for independent verification by the world community or shut up.

All formal and documented accusations must be thoroughly and transparently investigated, with all countries contributing their most experienced and highly qualified scientific, medical, forensic and other experts to investigate the characteristics and impacts of the virus in their country as well as contribute to the international investigation. Their efforts must be subject to thorough peer review as well as full and informed public analysis and debate – the world cannot afford more of the ‘national security’,  ‘Security Council veto’, ‘diplomatic immunities and privileges’, ‘commercial confidentiality’, ‘trade secrets’, ‘it’s too complicated for the plebs to understand’ bullshit.

In at least some cases, possibly many, a country has established military and scientific bases and research facilities in other countries; these must of course be included. The US is undoubtedly the most prolific in this regard, engaging in many secretive bilateral agreements, contracts and partnerships to conduct nobody seems to know what exactly – least of all the citizens of ‘host countries’ affected. The links to the investigative reports above provides a wealth of starting points.

But it is not just Nation-States that must be considered. It is most important to include all facilities and activities of the sprawling financial-military-industrial complex involved in related activities. Some of these corporate-industrial-scientific behemoths are probably the only institutions that are even close to matching the capabilities of ‘The Pentagon’ to outsource, offshore and camouflage programs and installations for the research, development and production of materials related to biological weapons. This would include all of the biochemical, pharmaceutical, etc. giants, as well as all other major research and development foundations of all types involved in activities in potentially related fields.

The development of international and national lead agencies and fusion centres

There are numerous possible contenders for the necessary task of establishing some sort of world-wide ‘lead agencies’ or ‘fusion centres’ to plan, coordinate and supervise the international investigations, and facilitate cooperation with regional and national-level investigations (each with their own respective ‘fusion centre’). However, I would suggest that none of the existing institutions is adequate in itself to assume full control over the investigation. The enormity of the task requires full participation by the world community of nations, it cannot be put under the control of some exclusive, self-appointed ‘international community’ institution behind multiple screens of exclusion, secrecy and confidentiality.

As just one example, the Biological Weapons Convention does not provide even remotely viable mechanisms or procedures to address such possibilities (and if a regime such as that of the OPCW existed, how effective could it be in the world of realpolitik, as is apparent from its hopelessly compromised investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, see, e.g., LINK). Maybe the parties to the Biological Weapons Convention can consider this when they next meet in another 4 or 5 years.

The 73rd annual session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva (the decision-making body of WHO) urged member States to establish an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to the pandemic as well as the identification of the “zoonotic” source of the coronavirus. The potential parameters and scope of the proposed investigation are thereby limited (to only consider animals as possible sources of the virus, excluding all other possible sources, vectors and contributing factors before even beginning). Moreover, according to a Reuters report, only 116 of the 194 member States were in favour of the resolution.

Notwithstanding the difficulties and deficiencies of existing international institutions and the broader geopolitical conditions in which they must operate, some of the possible major contenders as contributors and focal points for research and investigation projects include the WHO, some sui generis measure pursuant to the Biological Weapons Convention (which as currently constituted has extremely limited verification, investigation and research capabilities), a Security Council and/ or General Assembly resolution or joint investigative mechanism, as well as other relevant UN or international institutions.

Ongoing US high tech weapons projects

The US’ full spectrum dominance objective has received major setbacks over the last few years as the Russian military in particular, working closely with patriotic industrial and technological sectors, have outperformed the US Department of ‘Defense’ and associated sprawling and astronomically expensive US financial-military-industrial complex in many crucial sectors. (LINK)

Nonetheless, the US political, economic and military leadership remain determined, and are rolling out new research and development initiatives to match and surpass the high tech weapons systems of its rivals, adversaries and (potential?) enemies. As reported last week, the newly created US Space Force is cutting its teeth with a space flight by the experimental ‘space plane’ X-37B, which will in turn launch at least one autonomous military satellite on behalf of the US Air Force Academy and is equipped with modules for the conduct of scientific experiments by NASA and the US Naval Academy. The flight will probably last for about one and a half to two years.

Another such program is a ‘Skyborg competition’ launched by the US Air Force. The website Flightglobal reports of the program:

“The US Air Force (USAF) has launched a competition to design the artificially intelligent software, called Skyborg, that would control its planned fleet of loyal wingman unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

The service intends to grant indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts worth $400 million per awardee to develop the software and related hardware, it says in a request for proposals released on 15 May. The USAF is looking for technical and cost proposals from companies by 15 June 2020 and intends to award multiple contracts…

Skyborg would be artificially intelligent software used to control the flight path, weapons and sensors of large numbers of UAVs. Automating flight control, in particular via artificial intelligence, is seen as necessary to allow a single person, perhaps a backseat operator in a fighter, to command multiple UAVs at once.

In particular, the USAF wants Skyborg software and hardware to control ‘attritable’ UAVs; aircraft with limited lifespans that are cheap enough to be produced in large numbers and could be affordably lost to combat attrition. Those UAVs could be used as loyal wingman aircraft alongside manned fighters, bombers and support aircraft.

Apocalypse Soon? US Still Scrambling And Surging To Develop New High-Tech Weapons Systems

Click to see the full-size image

The US Air Force Research Laboratory is leading development of these aircraft through its Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration programme. That effort has produced the Kratos Defense & Security Solutions XQ-58A Valkyrie, a UAV that has completed several demonstration flights. Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force also have developed a loyal wingman called the Airpower Teaming System. That UAV’s first flight is expected later this year…

(The USAF says) “The Skyborg core will be a best-of-breed combination of industry and government solutions… Low-cost unmanned vehicles are envisioned to augment high-end manned systems through a series of next-generation UAVs that are affordable, effective, quickly designed and produced… There will also be a large need to offer a short development cycle so that variants could rapidly be procured as needed.”

The UAVs are to have modular hardware and software payloads that use a common Skyborg autonomy mission system, and enable manned and unmanned teaming. The USAF wants to use the modularity to quickly plug and play software and hardware changes that would be needed to defeat new threats from near-peer militaries, such as China or Russia.

Previously, the USAF has said it wanted a Skyborg-controlled UAV reaching early operational capability as soon as 2023…”

Another high-priority area is hypersonic vehicles and weapons systems, with the US military and high-tech sectors scrambling to develop a response to Russia’s ‘Avanguard’ hypersonic glide vehicle. As far as is known, the US has neither a similar offensive weapon nor the means to defend itself against such a weapon. Last year cnbc reported; “while the Pentagon has several hypersonic weapons programs in development, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in August that it will be “a couple of years” before the U.S. can deploy a weapon of this caliber.” (LINK 1, LINK 2)

The most recent Congressional Research Service review on hypersonic systems, completed on 4 March 2020, had a restrained and prudent tone as it pondered developments and requirements:

“The Pentagon’s FY2021 budget request for all hypersonic-related research is $3.2 billion—up from $2.6 billion in the FY2020 request—including $206.8 million for hypersonic defense programs. At present, the Department of Defense (DOD) has not established any programs of record for hypersonic weapons, suggesting that it may not have approved either requirements for the systems or long-term funding plans. Indeed, as Assistant Director for Hypersonics (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering) Mike White has stated, DOD has not yet made a decision to acquire hypersonic weapons and is instead developing prototypes to assist in the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts and mission sets.

As Congress reviews the Pentagon’s plans for U.S. hypersonic weapons programs, it might consider questions about the rationale for hypersonic weapons, their expected costs, and their implications for strategic stability and arms control…” (LINK)

However, senior military officials, bureaucrats and corporate executives are much more aggressive and extravagant in their projections:

“The Pentagon has created a “war room” to ramp up production of hypersonic weapons from a handful of prototypes over the last decade to “hundreds of weapons” in the near future, a senior official said Wednesday. Those weapons will range from huge rocket-powered boost-glide missiles, fired from Army trucks and Navy submarines at more than Mach 10, to more compact and affordable air-breathing cruise missiles, fired from aircraft at a relatively modest Mach 5-plus.

“It isn’t an either-or,” said Mark Lewis, modernization director for Pentagon R&D chief Mike Griffin. “It isn’t rocket-boost or air-breathing, we actually want both, because those systems do different things.”

Right now, however, US combat units have neither. Inconsistent focus and funding over the years means that “we had a number of programs in the department that were very solid technology development programs, but at the end of those programs, we would have prototypes and we’d have weapons in the single-digit counts,” Lewis said during a webcast with the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute. “If you’ve got a program that delivers eight missiles and then stops, well, which of the thousand targets in our target set are we going to use those eight missiles against?”

With hypersonics now a top priority for both Undersecretary Griffin and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the Pentagon is trying to improve that stop-and-go track record with a new “hypersonic acceleration plan” – no pun intended, Lewis said. Griffin likes to compare the effort to the Cold War, when the US had a massive nuclear weapons infrastructure capable of building complex components by the tens of thousands…”

Their corporate counterparts are similarly bullish about the prospective benefits, market potential and profits of associated R&D, production and deployment (probably including ongoing operational management and maintenance contracts in most cases) (LINK), which promises to lock them into a spiralling cycle of lucrative confidential cost-plus contracts for many decades to come.

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