US Army Grounds Entire Fleet of 400 Chinook Helicopters

The US Army has grounded its entire fleet of some 400 CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters after engine fires broke out on a few of them, a spokeswoman for the service said Tuesday evening.

“The Army has identified the root cause of fuel leaks that caused a small number of engine fires among an isolated number of H-47 helicopters, and is implementing corrective measures to resolve this issue,” the spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith said in a statement…

The iconic twin-engine aircraft, an Army workhorse for six decades, is manufactured by the Boeing Co. and its engines are made by Honeywell International Inc…

Boeing referred questions to the Army. Honeywell said in a statement that, working with the Army, it had “helped discover that O-rings not meeting Honeywell design specifications had been installed in some T55 engines during routine and scheduled maintenance at an Army depot.

In other words, installing replacement O-rings from Uncle Fred’s O-ring Bargain Store was a mistake.

What does growing pot in New Mexico have to do with the NSA?

pot chopper

Fourteen marijuana plants and seven years later, a New Mexico high court has overturned a lower court opinion and ruled that a police helicopter search operation in rural Taos County was illegal and unconstitutional.

The subject of that search, who said he had the 14 plants for personal use to smoke to alleviate physical ailments, was elated when contacted on Friday.

“It has been a lesson in the slow progress of the legal system … I’m happy that justice was served,” said Norman Davis, now 78.

Davis’ home was one of several checked out during a 2006 operation dubbed “Operation Yerba Buena” – a joint State Police, National Guard, and state Game and Fish effort that was targeting marijuana plantations in the sparsely populated Carson area…

Davis had his privacy jarred when, on a summer day as he was sitting on his sofa and feeling a bit out of sorts, he “heard this helicopter overhead.

“It was loud. Very loud,” Davis said at the time. “And I looked out the window and see these guys hovering over me.” The drug raid by the New Mexico State Police, using National Guard helicopters, involved six or seven officers armed with semiautomatic weapons and at least five police vehicles…

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Russia discovers how “Low Bid” process really works!

Two amphibious assault ships bought for the Russian Navy from France in a 1.2 billion euro deal will not be able to operate in temperatures below seven degrees centigrade, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin admitted…in critical comments about the contract.

“It’s very odd that ships for offloading a landing force, floating in our latitudes won’t work in temperatures below seven degrees,” said Rogozin, who has special responsibilities for the defense industry, in a meeting of the Academy of Military Science…”Maybe they thought we’re going to undertake special operations in Africa but I doubt that’s going to happen,” he added.

Russia signed the 1.2 billion euro deal in June 2011 for two of the Mistral ships, which will carry helicopters to support landings by marines. The first of the ships is due for delivery in 2014…

The first Mistral is due to be deployed in Russia’s Pacific Fleet, based in the port of Vladivostok, which is ice-free all year round but still experiences months of severe winter cold. The second is due to be deployed with the Northern Fleet, which also has ice-free bases, due to the Gulf Stream, but also experience very cold temperatures for several months a year.

I love beancounters who only think about the price of a deal – ignoring completely all other qualities which determine real value.

Like, how’s the quality of roads in your neck of the prairie? Most municipalities in the Anglophone world have been reducing the specification of road construction so any fly-by-night cousin of some state politician can afford to put in a low bid. And we get crap roads that start to disintegrate within three years.

Sounds like the same genes carry over into ship-building in France.

Umbrella, not gun, brought mall evacuation, SWAT teams

Police responded in force today to a report of a man with a rifle at a mall, evacuating shoppers and calling in a SWAT team as worried workers locked themselves into stores. But it turned out that the man was only carrying an umbrella.

Police said the umbrella, which had a samurai sword-style handle, did look like a rifle, and they didn’t fault those at the Burlington Mall who had reported the man…

“I’d do it all over again if this happened tomorrow,” said Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent, who said about 40 officers responded to the scene from his department, surrounding departments, the State Police and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement…

Police raced to the mall, blocking off the parking lot as four helicopters hovered in the sky. The North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council SWAT team, composed of officers from area communities, was summoned.

Tigges said that once police were inside the building, they were alerted that there was surveillance video of the suspect leaving the Sears store at the mall. Police showed the video to two people who had spotted the man at the Nordstrom store. They confirmed it was the same person, and police were able to determine the object the man was carrying was an umbrella and not a rifle…

State Police also said in a statement that a man had called them to report that he was the person seen in the mall. Troopers and officers went to the area of the nearby Lahey Clinic hospital, where the man worked, and interviewed him, determining he was not a threat…

Chief Kent praised the man, whom he would not identify, saying he had helped to bring the crisis to quicker end by contacting police. “We appreciate that he put an end to it a lot sooner,” he said. The man still has his umbrella.

Yes, this is the mall where they filmed the movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”

South Koreans succeed in daring rescue of hijacked ship

South Korean naval special forces during the rescue operation
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

It was code-named “Dawn of Gulf of Aden,” and when South Korea gave it a green light Friday, its daring execution led to five hours of chilling drama on the high seas.

A South Korean navy destroyer and Lynx helicopters fired warning shots as elite forces, in pre-dawn darkness, silently approached the deck of the freighter Samho Jewelry, hijacked by Somali pirates Saturday, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The pirates fired with their AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The South Koreans shot back.

When it was all over, the South Koreans had rescued 21 sailors, killed eight pirates and captured five others, said Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The captain of the 11,500-ton ship was shot in the stomach during the rescue, but no other crew member was hurt…

A U.S. Navy helicopter from the USS Shoup performed a medical evacuation in the operation…

The South Koreans launched their secret rescue mission earlier in the week, chasing the Samho Jewelry for days in the Arabian Sea. When the pirates seemed exhausted and after intelligence that suggested a pirate “mother ship” was leaving a Somali port, the South Koreans decided to attempt the rescue, Yonhap said…

Somali pirates have seized seven other South Korean ships. All but one have been released with ransom payments, Yonhap said.

It appears that someone decided it’s time to change tactics, eh?

Russia joins the United States in Afghan drug raids

Russian counternarcotics agents took part in an operation to eradicate several drug laboratories in Afghanistan this week, joining Afghan and American antidrug forces in what officials here said Friday marked an advance in relations between Moscow and Washington.

The operation, in which four opium refining laboratories and over 2,000 pounds of high-quality heroin were destroyed, was the first to include Russian agents. It also indicated a tentative willingness among Russian officials to become more deeply involved in Afghanistan two decades after American-backed Afghan fighters defeated the Soviet military there.

“This is a major success for cooperative actions,” Viktor P. Ivanov, Russia’s top drug enforcement official, told journalists in Moscow. “This shows that there are real actions being taken amid the reset in relations between Russia and the United States.”

Although Russia has a large stake in the outcome of the war in Afghanistan, the country has not participated in the NATO-led military coalition there and has seemed ambivalent about the American effort in its backyard…

At the same time, Russia has strong interests in a stable and cooperative Afghanistan. A Taliban resurgence and the return of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan could bolster Islamic extremism in Central Asia and southern Russia, where the authorities continue to battle a potent Islamic insurgency in Chechnya and the surrounding region.

The issue of Afghan heroin, which is derived from opium, is particularly vexing. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of heroin, much of which seeps into neighboring Central Asian countries and then into Russia, where it finds a ready market of over a million users.

Almost 90 percent of Russia’s heroin comes from Afghanistan, according to government statistics. Injected drugs kill thousands annually and are the main driver of Russia’s H.I.V. epidemic, which is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world.

A positive start to an alliance that frankly I found nonplussing when first noted. Russians haven’t much of a record of accomplishments in Afghanistan. Though, coming into action as a response to their out-of-control problem with heroin certainly makes sense.

At least, within the sort of 19th/20th Century standards they share evenly with the United States.

World’s helicopter leader ready to try diesel

The largest helicopter maker in the world has announced it is committed to developing a diesel-powered helicopter in the next five years. Eurocopter displayed an example of a possible diesel piston-engine design at this week’s Heli-Expo in Houston. The company says the efficient powerplant could replace turbine engines in its light, single-engine helicopters…

Diesel engines have proven to be very successful in the auto industry over the past decade. Gone are the days of noisy, gutless, smoky motors. Today’s diesels are quiet, efficient and the power-to-weight ratio is so good, diesels are used in racing. Diesel-powered cars from Audi and Peugeot have dominated the iconic 24 Hours of LeMans in recent years…

“Specific fuel consumption is cut by 40 percent,” he said compared to existing turbine engines used in the company’s smaller helicopters.

Currently all of Eurocopter’s helicopters are turbine-powered. Turbine engines are incredibly reliable and provide a large amount of power for the weight of the motor. But they are also quite thirsty for fuel. The cost of fuel for a small helicopter can run several hundred dollars per hour. Any reduction is obviously welcome news to helicopter operators.

Eurocopter has said its EC120 (pictured above) would be a likely candidate for the diesel engine. Currently, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arrius turbine engine…

RTFA. Interesting tech in the 2-stroke diesel Eurocopter exhibited. Jason Paur asked the same questions I would have – and apparently got the right answers.

Usually, I’d suggest a twin turbo to cut lag time. But, the EcoMotor is dual-piston, 2-stroke and might not need the extra timing boost.

Thanks, wok3