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Comment Re: Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 1) 299

There were over 1000 recorded attempts to shoot them down. None came particularly close. Among other problems, most antiaircraft missiles (particularly air-to-air) rely on flight surfaces designed for maneuvering in the denser air at lower altitudes and become poor at tracking at SR-71 flight altitudes. Most missiles couldn't win in a tail chase either. And they weren't designed to deal with the high net velocity of closing head-on (more similar to those for ABM defenses). The low radar cross section made it even more challenging, reducing the amount of time they had to prepare.

The Soviets and/or other anti-US powers would surely eventually have gotten the job done with advancing tech and enough tries, but at the time of its retirement, it still flew in a pretty safe envelope. Not perfectly safe. but pretty safe.

Comment Re:Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 2) 299

There are some aspects of flying a satellite that are the same no matter who you are. One is that the satellite can't just go anywhere. You have to wait until it gets to what you want to take a picture of, and the sun has to be in the correct position. If you look too far left or right, your images will have a lot of distortion and it'll be hard to determine individual pixel coordinates. If your satellite does happen to be right over what you want to look at right now, you can't just tell it to turn and look there. You have to wait until it's over an antenna to send it instructions and then wait until it's over another antenna to get its images. And you still have to compete with other people for satellite time because the satellite can't look at two different places at the same time. And once you get the images back, you need to get them into a useful format, which means a fair bit of work to determine the exact coordinates of various features in the image, assessing whether cloud cover is blocking what you want to look at, and figuring out whose hands to put that imagery in. If you're flying your own satellites, you've also already handed over some briefcases full of cash. Anything involving satellites always involves briefcases full of cash.

Comment Re:Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 1) 299

Satellites take forever and the pixels are really chunky. They also have trouble with cloud cover. If you want a bag of pixels from today, you're probably not going to get them from a satellite. A turn-around time of three days on a satellite would be astounding. Yeah, you might be able to get some shitty off-nadir and cloudy pixels from 15-20 hours ago with an appropriately-placed briefcase full of cash, otherwise you can generally assume that the pixels you're looking at are weeks-to-months old.

Comment Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 5, Insightful) 299

The programme was killed because they were a pain to maintain. Advancing needs meant that they would have on top of that had to spend money on a tech upgrade (such as adding a realtime data link). Meanwhile, there were programmes hungry for its budget, including stealth aircraft (B2) and drones (Global Hawk).

That said, in today's threat environment, I'm sure mach 5 would be appreciated ;)

Comment Re:Whatever (Score 1) 342

Lol, you realize that we were occupied by the UK and subsequently US, don't you? Then had a NATO base here for half a century? That Icelanders are among the best non-native English speakers in Europe? That there's more English TV stations broadcasting here than Icelandic?

Comment Re:Finland too.. (Score 1) 342

Worked here. TV = sjónvarp = vision-caster. And speaking of that, "radio" is "útvarp", out-caster. Again, I don't see why France gets so much credit for linguistic preservation. Their linguistic preservation efforts seem lackluster at best, and their adoption rates of official terms even more lackluster.

Comment Re:Whatever (Score 3, Interesting) 342

I don't know why France gets so much credit for linguistic preservation. Seriously, it's 2018 and they're just now getting around to formalizing a French word for smartphone? And like usual, I imagine few people will use the new word.

When telephones came out, Icelandic quickly adopted the word "sími", resurrecting an old word for "thread". Cell phones came out, and they became "farsímar". Smartphones came out, and they quickly became "snjallsímar". I mean, it doesn't happen immediately. People were calling tablets "tablets" at first, but when it came out that the proper word was "spjaldtölva", people switched over pretty quickly. Tölva (computer), by the way, comes from "tala" (number) plus "völva" (prophetess). :)

A fun experiment is to go to Wikipedia and enter a bunch of random science terms in different science fields - preferably ones not named after a person or whatnot (which tends to carry over between *any* language) - and for each one, look at the in-other-languages sidebar to see what the word is in other languages. Because as a general rule, in almost every language the terms very strongly resemble the English.... except Icelandic. You know, you look up photon, and it's a bunch of entries like "photon", "foton", "fotona", "futun", etc, etc.... then you get to Icelandic, and it's "ljóseind". ;) It's "tyrannosaurus", "tiranozaurus", "turanosaurus", etc, etc.... then Icelandic, "grameðla". But it's actually quite useful. For example, in some members of my family there's a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Unless you're a doctor who's familiar with the field, or someone in your family has it, odds are you have no clue what that is. But in Icelandic, it's "hryggigt" - that's "hryggur" (spine) + "gigt" (arthritis). Anyone can see that term and immediately have a rough idea of what the primary symptoms are like (the spine slowly fuses, among other things).

That's not like Icelandic is "pure" or anything. "Hæ" is essentially embedded in the language, for example. "Basically" is pretty much becoming that way. Etc,. But at least in general, people try. And for most - not all, but most - new science/tech terms, the Icelandic terms stick.

Comment Re: 4 meter wing spans? (Score 2) 183

Mortar attack on December 31 - oh really?

Russian officials have suggested the U.S. or its allies may have had a role in the drone attacks on the bases. Mr. Putin said drones captured in the course of the attacks revealed highly sophisticated technological elements that were acquired and passed to the rebels from abroad.

The Pentagon has said it played no role in the drone attacks.

A person close to Russia’s Defense Ministry said the accusations have largely served to deflect attention away from Russia’s own failure to protect its main Syrian base at Hmeimim.

The base was hit by a number of drones on New Year’s Eve, killing two service people, injuring 10 and damaging at least six planes, the person said. The attack was allegedly the first to penetrate the base’s formidable defenses including Pantsir and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Comment Re: 4 meter wing spans? (Score 5, Interesting) 183

Indeed, an ammo dump at Slinfah was hit by one of them as well - it was first assumed to be an Israeli airstrike, and only later determined to be a drone attack. The drones are perfectly designed for hitting soft targets - rather than single powerful charges, they use 8-20 PETN bomblets, packed full of ball bearings.

Concerning tracking them... these are not that large, and made of wood. I imagine they're pretty hard to track and home in on. Plus, having to waste an antiaircraft missile on someone people glued together with bargain basement parts is asymmetric to the benefit of the rebels. Russia's Hmeimim base is packed full of their most advanced antiaircraft systems, yet they still lost planes (ironically, as usual, they spent the next several days both simultaneously confirming and denying that they got hit ;) ). Locals described the sky as lit up by antiaircraft fire.

The US should take a lesson from this and seriously up their efforts toward anti-drone defenses. For now, I expect Russian/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah/etc forces to put more effort toward hardening depots, airfields, etc against attacks from the air. The drones have a 100km range, which lets them reach from well behind the frontlines.

I would expect GPS to have been jammed at Hmeimim. If not, Russia is incompetent. If so, the drones would appear to be prepared to deal with the loss of GPS signal. Russia was apparently caught off guard with the sophistication of the drones and is now trying to claim that they couldn't have figured out how to make them on their own. I don't buy this at all; both anti-ISIS rebels and ISIS have long been working on drone technology, as well as other "advanced" technology (such as remote-controlled robotic guns).

Comment Re:Criminal? (Score 1) 313

Seems to me a lot of the things that can make a senator very wealthy and influential can also kind of accidentally make you a felon if you happen to get caught at it. The senators are probably aware of that and would rather not risk their shiny income in the event they do accidentally get caught at it. Felons in general probably have a better approval rating than Congress, anyway.

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