Agoramania Soap Box
Secrets of the Stealth
The technology behind China's J-20 stealth fighter may have come from a US plane shot down during the Kosovo war, Balkan military sources say.
Adm Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff at the time, claims Chinese agents took parts of a downed F-117 stealth jet in 1999.
The F-117 had been shot down by a Serbian anti-aircraft missile during a Nato bombing raid.
China's J-20 stealth fighter had its first test flight earlier this month.
Currently, the United States is the only nation with a fully operational stealth plane.
Nighthawks were the world's first stealth fighters - planes that are almost invisible to radar.
When the F-117 was shot down in 1999 during Nato bombing, it was the first time one of the jets had been hit.
Military officials and experts say they believe that some of the parts found themselves in Chinese hands, which allowed China to replicate them to develop similar technologies.
The Pentagon has downplayed concerns over China's stealth fighter "At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents criss-crossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," Adm Domazet-Loso told the Associated Press news agency.
"We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies... and to reverse-engineer them," he said.
A senior Serbian military official confirmed that some of the pieces were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up "in the hands of foreign military attaches".
Alexander Neill, head of the Asia Security Programme at the Royal United Services Institute, said the proposition was highly possible, as Serbia and China had a very close relationship during this time and routinely shared intelligence.
"At that time the Chinese had a close relationship with Serbian military intelligence and in that regard - just as an intelligence-sharing relationship - a windfall such as a F-117 would be gold dust, and any modernising military worth its salt would examine anything of that nature extremely closely," he told the BBC.
He said it would be very difficult to know for sure, but that China had during that time a "rapacious appetite" for technology which would help them with their modernisation programme.
"Given the history of Chinese espionage, it is clear that China has had a very covert history of acquisition," he said.
Parts of the F-117 wreckage, including its left wing, cockpit canopy, ejection seat, pilot's helmet and radio, are on show at Belgrade's aviation museum.
Zoran Milicevic, deputy director of the museum, said: "I don't know what happened to the rest of the plane. A lot of delegations visited us in the past, including the Chinese, Russians and Americans. But no-one showed any interest in taking any part of the jet."
China's Chengdu J-20 stealth jet is expected to be operational some time between 2017 and 2019.
Some analysts have claimed this sign of military strength will worry the US government, but the Pentagon has played down concerns over the fighter.
"Developing a stealth capability with a prototype and then integrating that into a combat environment is going to take some time," US director of naval intelligence Vice-Admiral David Dorsett said earlier this month.
China's official military budget quadrupled between 1999 and 2009 as the country's economy grew. In 2010 it stood at $78bn (£50bn).
But the US has by far the largest defence budget in the world at just over $700bn.
Happy Presidents' Day!
As Presidents' Day approaches, let's take a moment to learn some interesting facts about two great American leaders. Read more about our presidents on the National Park Service website here : http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/pres/trivia.htm
George Washington, 1st President: 1789-1797
• Washington was the only American president to be unanimously elected.
• Washington never lived in the White House. The nation’s capital was located in Philadelphia, as well as several other cities, prior to its move to Washington, D.C.
• George Washington was the only president who did not represent a political party.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President: 1861-1865
• Abraham Lincoln was a man of perseverance. Before Lincoln’s election as the 16th president of the United States he failed as: a business man - as a storekeeper, failed as a farmer - he despised this work, failed in his first attempt to obtain political office, he failed when he sought the office of speaker, he failed in his first attempt to go to Congress, he failed when he sought the appointment to the United States Land Office, he failed when he ran for the United States Senate and he failed when friends sought for him the nomination for the vice-presidency in 1856.
• Abraham Lincoln was the first president to wear a beard and the tallest president at 6’ 4".
• Lincoln was the first president to die by assassination. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Happy New Year!
Best wishes to all our friends for a happy, healthy and American-Made 2011!
It's Another New Year...
from the website: http://wilstar.com/holidays/newyear.htm
"Happy New Year!" That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year's Day in modern America was not always January 1.
ANCIENT NEW YEARS
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
THE CHURCH'S VIEW OF NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS
Although in the first centuries AD the Romans continued celebrating the new year, the early Catholic Church condemned the festivities as paganism. But as Christianity became more widespread, the early church began having its own religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, and New Year's Day was no different. New Years is still observed as the Feast of Christ's Circumcision by some denominations.
7 Days to Go!