Saturday, August 30, 2014

US Navy to test powerful, mobile laser weapon against drones

A compact yet powerful laser weapon developed by Raytheon will soon be integrated on a HMMWV, to demonstrate its ability to defeat enemy drones, as part of the enhancement of current US Marine Corps ground-based air-defense capabilities.

Raytheon's laser architecture is implemented in a number of directed-energy weapon applications, including the Laser-Phalanx derivative of the classic naval Close-In Weapon System. Illustration: Raytheon.
Raytheon’s laser architecture is implemented in a number of directed-energy weapon applications, including the Laser-Phalanx derivative of the classic naval Close-In Weapon System. Illustration: Raytheon.
The US Navy Office of Naval Research has awarded Raytheon US$11 million adapt a tactical laser weapon systems to a vehicle-based laser device, capable of defeating low-flying threats such as enemy drones. For the field demonstration planned by ONR Raytheon will integrate a short-range laser weapon system on a HMMWV. When systems are fielded they are likely to deploy on the future Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). Some of the system’s components have already been tested under the ‘Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-the-Move Future Naval Capabilities’ program, demonstrating detection and fire control functions of the system, with the compact phased array radar detecting and tracking UAVs of all sizes. Later in the year, researchers will test the entire system against targets using a 10kW laser as a stepping stone to a 30kW laser. Raytheon will deliver a laser with a minimum power output of 25kW will be used. According to ONR, the 30kW system is expected to be ready for field testing in 2016. Tests will evaluate the complete intercept process, from detection and tracking to firing, all battle-damage assessment, all based on sensors and effectors integrated on the test vehicle.
According to raytheon, the patented Planar Wave-Guide architecture enables the implementation of single aperture optical design; without the use of complex optical beam combining elements, delivering high beam quality, and scalability beyond 200 kW output power. The design also features efficient heat removal and thermal management capability, yielding compact size, light weight and modularity. Photo: Raytheon
According to Raytheon, the patented Planar Wave-Guide architecture enables the implementation of single aperture optical design; without the use of complex optical beam combining elements, delivering high beam quality, and scalability beyond 200 kW output power. The design also features efficient heat removal and thermal management capability, yielding compact size, light weight and modularity. Photo: Raytheon
“Raytheon’s laser solution generates high power output in a small, light-weight rugged package ideally suited for mobile platforms,” said Bill Hart, vice president of Raytheon Space Systems. Raytheon’s planar waveguide (PWG) technology is the key to its unique approach to high energy lasers. Using a single PWG, the size and shape of a 12 inch ruler, Raytheon high energy lasers generate sufficient power to effectively engage small aircraft. According to Hart, the technology implemented for the test is scalable to more powerful systems. “Our PWG laser architecture is scalable: we can achieve increasingly higher power levels with the same compact design we’re using for GBAD.” he said. With the proliferation of UAVs in the modern battlefield, the Marine Corps expect that units increasingly will have to defend themselves against adversaries trying to perform reconnaissance, surveillance and attack from the air by unmanned systems. According to Col. William Zamagni, head of ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, GBAD will give the Marine Corps a capability to counter those UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. “GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces.”
The Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-the-Move Future Naval Capabilities program calls for a field demonstration of a Humvee-mounted short-range laser weapon system with a minimum power output of 25kW. The Raytheon-built laser will be packaged to meet the U.S. Marine Corps' demanding size, weight and power requirements. Illustration: Raytheon
The Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) Directed Energy On-the-Move Future Naval Capabilities program calls for a field demonstration of a Humvee-mounted short-range laser weapon system with a minimum power output of 25kW. The Raytheon-built laser will be packaged to meet the U.S. Marine Corps’ demanding size, weight and power requirements. Illustration: Raytheon

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Air Force Advanced Airborne Command Post

2 January 2014
Air Force Advanced Airborne Command Post
A sends:
Received some phone pictures of the Air Force doomsday plane in standoff at ITO, Hilo, Hawaii, 30 December 2013. Location is around Kapili Avenue, Hilo, HI 96720.
Images show tarpaulin on front and hazmat sealed bags on a dozen vehicles that loaded in/out via the cargo crane. I doubt the camera holder knew they caught Advanced Airborne Command Post loading, but its worth checking for more info. I doubt half of those are road-legal and all covered/bagged.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Military Encryption Devices

Military Encryption Devices
Soldiers operate AN/URC-103/V radios, left, and an RF 7401 remote control console in the Edingen Transceiver Station operations room. Also shown is the KL-42 message encryption device, 03/24/1986
KL-42 description:
US Air Force (USAF) STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) John Lontoc, Ground Radio Journeyman, 35th Communications Squadron (CS), Misawa Air Base (AB), Tohoku Region, Japan (JPN), installs an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) chip onto an XTS-5000 Motorola hand held radio, 03/12/2004
US Air Force Reserve (USAFR) SENIOR AIRMAN (SRA) Daniel Ratzel (left) and USAFR Technical Sergeant (TSGT) Robert Fisher (right), both assigned to the 910th Communications Flight, observe US Air Force (USAF) AIRMAN First Class (A1C) James Matthews, 31Communications Squadron, as he performs a diagnostic check on KG-194 trunk encryption equipment. Both SRA Ratzel and TSGT Fisher are deployed at Aviano Air Base (AB), Italy, for their two-week annual tour, 08/13/2002
US Air Force (USAF) STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) Jeffery Hartman (left) teaches USAF AIRMAN First Class (A1C) Travis Hoisington (center) and USAF A1C Edward Perez, Ground Radio Technicians, 52nd Communications Squadron (CS), how to load type 2 digital encryption codes into the Land Mobil Base Station. The Airmen are preparing for the 52nd Fighter Wing (FW) exercise Harley Saber at Spangdahlem Air Base (AB), Germany (DEU), 04/19/2004
During Combined Endeavor 2004, (left to right) Italian Contractor Guseppi Carucci, US Air Force (USAF) STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) Jason Bryant, Italian Warrant Officer 3 (WO3) Sandro Venazangeli and Bulgarian Captain (CPT) Stanislav Stoychev work on encrypted certificates and signature blocks for secure e-mail at Combined Endeavor, Camp Sarafovo, Bulgaria (BGR), 05/16/2004
A close-up view of the airborne launch control system aboard an EC-135 Stratolifter "Looking Glass" aircraft of the 2nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The system decodes launch instructions from an encrypted tape and after two missile launch officers turn separate keys, it transmits a launch message to a Minuteman III missile housed in a silo, 03/22/1991
US Navy Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Melissa Shirk, shown loading cryptographic code into an EA-6B Prowler aircraft, is a Cryptologic Analyst on board the US Navy's nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) where she collects and analyzes different types of encrypted signals. Commanded by Captain Larry Baucom (not shown), Carl Vinson is currently deployed to the Persian Gulf enforcing the extended "No Fly Zone" over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, 09/11/1996

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


June 23, 2013

Is PRISM just a not-so-secret web tool?


Since The Guardian first published about the PRISM data collection program on June 6, there have been new disclosures of top secret documents almost every day, resulting in some fierce protests against apparently illegal wiretapping by the NSA and GCHQ. However, it remains unclear what PRISM actually is or does, as The Guardian didn't provide any new details or disclosed more than 5 of the 41 presentation slides about the program.

This makes it hard to determine whether PRISM really is the illegal or at least embarrassing program which most people now think it is. Especially, because it could even be the hardly secret Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM), which is a web-based tool to manage information requests widely used by the US military. Here we will take a closer look at this program and try to determine whether this could be the same as the PRISM revealed by The Guardian.

Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management

The earliest document which mentions the Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM) is a paper (pdf) from July 2002, which was prepared by the MITRE Corporation Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems. The document describes the use of web browsers for military operations, the so-called "web-centric warfare", for which intelligence collection management programs were seen as the catalyst. These programs fuse battlefield intelligence information with the national data that they already possess, in order to provide a complete picture to their users.

PRISM was developed by SAIC (formerly Science Applications International Corporation, a company that was also involved in the 2002 TRAILBLAZER program for analyzing network data). The program was originally prototyped and fielded for the US European Command, but is also being used in other military operation areas such as Iraq. Involved in the establishment of PRISM was Ron Baham. His LinkedIn profile says that he currently is senior vice president and operations manager at SAIC and that he worked on CMMA PRISM at JDISS from 2000 - 2004, so PRISM might be developed somewhere between 2000 and early 2002.

On its website, SAIC says that the PRISM application allows theater users, in various functional roles and at different echelons, to synchronize Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements with current military operations and priorities. The application was first developed for use on JWICS, the highly secure intelligence community network, but is now also being used on SIPRNet, the secure internet used by the US military.

Screenshot of the PRISM Input Tool (EEI = Essential Elements of Intelligence)
source: GMTI Utility Analysis for Airborne Assets (pdf)

Other sources clarify that PRISM consists of a web-based interface which connects to PRISM servers, and that it's used by a variety of users, like intelligence collection managers at military headquarters, to request the intelligence information which is needed for operations. These requests are entered in the PRISM interface, which sends them to the PRISM server. From there the request goes to units which collect the raw data. These are processed into intelligence, which then becomes available through the PRISM server.

PRISM is able to manage and prioritize these intelligence collection requirements to ensure critical intelligence is timely available to the commander during crisis operations. The application integrates these requirements and, with other tools, generates the so called daily collection deck. PRISM also provides traceability throughout the so-called intelligence cycle, from planning through exploitation to production.

The PRISM application made by SAIC is still widely used. It's mentioned in joint operations manuals from 2012 and in quite a number of job descriptions, like this one from March 2013 for a systems administator in Doha, Qatar, which says that part of the job is providing on-site and off-site PRISM training and support. Also these US government spending data show that in 2011 a maintaince contract (worth $ 1.085.464,-) for PRISM support services was awarded to SAIC, with options for 2012 and 2013.

Are there two different PRISMs?

So now it looks like as if there are two different programs called PRISM: one is a web-based tool for requesting and managing intelligence information from a server that gets input from various intelligence sources. The other is the program from which The Guardian says it's a top secret electronic surveillance program that collects raw data from the servers of nine major US internet companies.

If the Guardian's claims are true, it's strange that two important intelligence programs apparently have the exact same name. For sure, this would not be very likely, if "PRISM" would be an acronym or a codeword in both cases. But if we assume one PRISM being an acronym and the other PRISM a codeword, it could be somewhat more likely.

As we know, the PRISM tool developed by SAIC is an acronym, just like the names of many other military and intelligence software tools are often lengthy acronyms. This leaves the PRISM which was unveiled by The Guardian likely to be a codeword, or more correctly said, a nickname. NSA data collection methods, officially designated by an alphanumerical SIGAD like US-984, can have nicknames which may or may not be classified.

These are different from codenames, which are always classified and often assigned to the intelligence products from the various data collection methods. This can cause some confusion, as "PRISM" perfectly fits in the NSA tradition of using 5-letter codewords for products of sensitive Signals Intelligence programs.

If PRISM had been a classified codename, it should also have been part of the classification line, and the marking should have read TOP SECRET // SI-PRISM // [...] instead of the current TOP SECRET // SI // [...]. This indicates that PRISM isn't a codeword for intelligence from a specific source, but more likely the nickname of a collection method.

This still leaves the question of why in 2007 an apparently new collection program got a nickname which is exactly the same as the already widely used computer application which is going to task this internet data collection method.

A less spectacular PRISM?

Allthough The Guardian presented PRISM as a method of directly collecting raw data from major internet companies, other sources say that PRISM might well be a much less spectacular internal computer program.

Initially, The Washington Post came with the same story as The Guardian, but revised some of its claims by citing another classified report that describes PRISM as allowing "collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations." These words very much resemble the way the PRISM Planning Tool is described.

National security reporter Marc Ambinder describes PRISM as "a kick-ass GUI (Graphical User Interface) that allows an analyst to look at, collate, monitor, and cross-check different data types provided to the NSA from Internet companies located inside the United States" - which also sounds much more like the SAIC application, than like a data dragnet with free access to commercial company servers.

This view was also confirmed by a statement (pdf) of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, which says: "PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program. It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s [...] collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers [...]".

With this statement, Clapper officially confirms the existance of a program called PRISM, and allthough his description could also fit that of the Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management, he didn't positively identified PRISM as such.

Finally, an anonymous former government official told that The Guardian's reports are "incorrect and appear to be based on a misreading of a leaked Powerpoint document", making journalist Declan McCullagh go one step further by suggesting that PRISM might be actually the same as the web application named Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management.

PRISM as an all-source planning tool

Some sources, like a joint operations manual and a number of job descriptions, seem to indicate that the PRISM planning tool is primarily used for geospational intelligence (GEOINT), which is analysed imagery of the earth as collected by spy planes and satellites.

However, more extensive research has shown that the Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM) is not only used for geospatial intelligence, but for fusing intelligence from all sources. Besides GEOINT, sources prove that PRISM is also used for SIGINT (Signals Intelligence), IMINT (Imagery Intelligence) and HUMINT (Human Intelligence), probably through additional modules for each of these sources.

Even the 2006 Geospatial Intelligence Basic Doctrine (pdf) says PRISM is a "web-based application that provides users, at the theater level and below, with the ability to conduct Integrated Collection Management (ICM). Integrates all intelligence discipline assets with all theater requirements."
More specifically, the 2012 Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations manual describes that where applicable, requests for SIGINT support should be entered into approved systems such as PRISM, for approval by a military commander.

In a job description for an Intelligence Training Instructor from 2010 we see a distinction being made between PRISM-IMINT and PRISM-SIGINT, and a LinkedIn profile mentions the IMINT/SIGINT PRISM training in 2006 of someone who was administrator for PRISM, which is described as the system of record USCENTCOM uses for submitting, tracking, and researching theater ISR requirements. In a job description for a SIGINT Collection Management Analyst (by Snowden-employer Booz Allen Hamilton!) experience with PRISM is required too.

Also a module was added to PRISM for accessing information from HUMINT (Human Intelligence) sources. Testing of this module was done during the Empire Challenge 2008 exercise. In the daily reports of this exercise we can read that for example the Defense Intelligence Agency's HUMINT team loaded "additional data into PRISM HUMINT module for operations on Tuesday morning". From a French report about this exercise we learn that the PRISM HUMINT module was a new application, just like the Humint Online Tasking & Reporting (HOT-R) tool, which runs on SIPRNet.

Are both PRISMs one and the same?

If The Guardian's PRISM really is just a computer system for sending tasking instructions directly to equipment that collects raw data, it is hard to believe that it's different from the Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM), which for many years is used to order and manage intelligence from all sources. This would also fit claims by which PRISM is most used in NSA reporting.

If this could be true, and there's only one PRISM program, what about the slides which were disclosed by The Guardian? First of all, as this newspaper is not willing to publish all PRISM-slides, we cannot be sure about what this presentation is really about, but it's possible that it's not about a PRISM which is a nickname of the US-984XN collection method, but about how to gather material from that source by using the PRISM web tool.

More specific, we can think of a machine-to-machine interface between the PRISM system and dedicated data collection devices at remote locations, like a secure FTP server or an encrypted dropbox at sites of the internet companies. At the PRISM desktop interface this tasking may be done through a separate SIGINT module. As one of the slides says: "Complete list and details on PRISM web page: Go PRISMFAA" we can even imagine a module called "PRISM FAA" for requesting intelligence from intercepts of foreign communications under the conditions of the FISA Amendment Act (FAA) from 2008.

By publishing the PRISM slides The Guardian for the first time revealed evidence about the NSA collecting data from major internet companies. But as this apparently surprised the general public, the practice is hardly new. Spies and later intelligence agencies of all countries have always tried to intercept foreign communications and of course tried to do this with every new way of communication: first letters, later phonecalls and nowadays internet based social media.

Therefore, it may hardly come as a surprise that NSA also found ways to intercept those new means of communications too. And whether these interception and collection methods might have nicknames or not, it's very likely that access to their processed output was added to all the other intelligence sources which can be tasked by using the PRISM Planning Tool.

What looks more of a problem, is the fact that in the past, enemies were nation states, which could be targeted by focussing on diplomatic and military communications. Nowadays, with terrorism considered as the main enemy, almost every (foreign) citizen could be a potential adversary, which made intelligence agencies try to search all communications available.

Next time we will discuss more specific details of the Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM), as this gives an interesting look at internal intelligence procedures.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea vowed on Thursday to launch more long-range rockets and conduct its third nuclear test, saying that it would build up its capability of striking the United States after the United Nations’s expansion of sanctions against North Korea.

The North’s threat was the boldest challenge its new, untested leader, Kim Jong-un, has posed at his country’s longtime foe, the United States, and its last remaining major ally, China, and rattled governments in Northeast Asia that are undergoing sensitive transitions of power.
In a statement issued through state-run media, the National Defense Commission, the North’s highest governing agency, headed by Mr. Kim, said that “a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the D.P.R.K. one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it” will be “targeted” at “the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
The statement, which used the acronym for the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, did not clarify when it would conduct such a test, which would be the first since Mr. Kim came to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.
But citing preparations at the Punggye test site in northeastern North Korea, Army Col. Wi Yong-seob, deputy spokesman of the Defense Ministry of South Korea, said on Thursday, “North Korea can conduct a nuclear test as soon as its leadership makes up its mind.”
North Korea had previously hinted at the possibility of conducting a nuclear test, as its Foreign Ministry did on Wednesday when it issued a scathing statement rejecting a unanimous resolution that the United Nations Security Council adopted on Tuesday. The resolution tightened sanctions and condemned North Korea’s Dec. 12 rocket launching as a violation of earlier resolutions that banned the country from conducting any tests involving ballistic-missile technology.
North Korea has since declared that it would shun any talk on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, adding that it would not give up its nuclear weapons until “the denuclearization of the world is realized.”
The North’s statement on Thursday indicated that Mr. Kim, despite recent hints of economic changes and openness in North Korea, was likely to follow the pattern his father established when he ran the country: a cycle of a rocket launching, United Nations condemnation and nuclear testing.
“It’s a major test for Kim Jong-un,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul. “Unlike the rocket launching in December, which the North has said was conducted because it was his father’s dying wish, a nuclear test will be Kim Jong-un’s decision, one for which he will be held responsible.”
By a “nuclear test of higher level,” North Korea most likely meant that it was seeking the technology of building nuclear warheads small enough to mount on long-range missiles, analysts here said. They said that North Korea could detonate a uranium bomb this time to demonstrate its ability to produce weapons-grade uranium. The North’s two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, used some of its limited stockpile of plutonium.
A nuclear test would compel the United States and South Korea to take a tough stance, dispelling hopes that Mr. Kim might use the inaugurations of new government in the countries to open a new path of engagement.
Glyn Davies, Washington’s special envoy on North Korea, warned on Thursday that a nuclear test would be “a mistake and a missed opportunity” for North Korea.
“This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” said Mr. Davies, who was visiting Seoul to coordinate the North Korea policies of President Obama’s second-term administration and the incoming government of President-elect Park Geun-hye in Seoul. From Seoul, Mr. Davies will move on to Beijing and then to Tokyo to continue policy consultations with the new governments there.
President Lee Myung-bak, who will hand over the South Korean presidency to Ms. Park next month, said on Thursday that his “biggest worry” was that North Korea might launch a military provocation in time with the changes of hands in government in Seoul.
On Thursday, the North expressed bitterness at China and Russia’s endorsement of the United Nations resolution, denouncing “those big countries” as “failing to come to their senses.” It said that North Korea’s drive to rebuild its moribund economy and its rocket program, until now billed as a peaceful space project, will now “all orientate toward the purpose of winning in the all-out action for foiling the U.S. and all other hostile forces’ maneuvers.”
“They are making a brigandish assertion that what they launched were satellites but what other country launched was a long-range missile,” the statement said, insisting that North Korea had a sovereign right to test rockets.
Moon Soon-bo, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute, said North Korea’s harsh reaction reflected the pain the isolated regime felt by the new resolution, which expanded the number of ways that countries can interdict and inspect cargo bound for the North.
North Korea said Unha-3 rocket it launched in December put a scientific satellite into orbit. But Washington said the launching was a cover for testing technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles. After analyzing the debris of the rocket North Korea fired in December to put a satellite into orbit, South Korean officials said North Korea indigenously built crucial components of a missile that can fly more than 6,200 miles.
Analysts speculated on Thursday that North Korea might test launch one of its KN-08 missiles. KN-08, first unveiled during a military parade in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in April last year, is the North’s biggest missile deployed yet but has never been flight tested, according to officials in Seoul.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Visitors from Elsewhen: Time Travelers Among Us

Visitors from Elsewhen: Time Travelers Among Us

Time travel is a subject that has fascinated all manner of authors and given rise to a galaxy of speculation. Whether it’s the romantic, non-technical treatment of Somewhere in Time (1980), the high-tech action adventure of the Time Tunnel (1968) or contemporary projects like Looper (2012), the thought of going back to visit our collective historic past – or the subjective personal past – remains a gripping concept, and one that is surely to remain with us for generations to come. The ability to go back in time and change situations (the rise of fascism) or view historic events (the fall of Rome) has also fueled a number of plots that have become legendary in the realm of science fiction, which has explored the paradoxes of such endeavors.

But what does science have to say about this elusive, seductive subject?

In the 1950s, Arthur C. Clarke penned the essay “Things That Can Never Be Done”, included in his book “Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations”. Listed among these were immortality, invisibility, thought transference, levitation and the creation of life. “For my part,” wrote Clarke, there is only one of these that I feel certain (well, practically certain!) to be impossible, and that is time travel...” Fifty years later, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku have left the door ajar for the possibility, with a new understanding of physics.

Hawking originally scoffed at the possibility of time travel, suggesting that we would currently be hosting visitors from our future (perhaps we are, in the shape of UFOs?) and since we have no futuristic travelers among us, was never developed. One could argue that it was developed, but never used, much like a “doomsday weapon” whose consequences are too terrible to contemplate.

The Chrononaut’s Tale

Stories of time travelers – accidental or deliberate – in our times have multiplied thanks to diffusion on the Internet. YouTube presents us with videos of old movies showing characters dressed in an unusual manner for their time, or else using devices that did not exist in the era. 19th century daguerreotypes of people resembling popular actors like John Travolta or Nicholas Cage have been added to the mix, fueling further “time traveler” speculation. Millions of radio listeners were gripped by the time-traveling character who went by the name “John Titor”, sent from the future to obtain an obscure item of computer equipment that would prove vital in his time. While we can dismiss these as flights of fancy or hoaxes, their grip on the popular imagination still remains strong.

As it turns out, a similar time traveler emerged in South America in the year 2000.

According to the Crónica newspaper of Concepción (Chile) a man named Osvaldo Navarrete had arrived from our near future – the year 2012, to be exact. According to Navarrete’s testimony, he had been one of several subjects of a military experiment in time travel designed to return to the year 2000. Interviewed by journalist Richard Sierra, Navarrete made some predictions about the coming ten years, stating that a disaster would sweep the planet and have “terrible consequences for mankind.”

The time traveler informed the journalist that in the year 2012, the United States was governed by a black president, and that this head of state would inform the people of the discovery of vestiges of ancient intelligent life on Mars following the arrival of a space probe. Writing in mid-October 2012, we can say that the time traveler was on the money. President Obama, however, has made no such disclosure yet). The result of this announcement, stated Navarrete, would be worldwide unrest. Discovery of the Marian ur-civilization would prompt the great powers to work jointly against “an alleged alien attack”, adding to the worldwide social and political crises.

Chrononaut Navarrete was not forthcoming about the way in which he crossed the unsoundable gulf of time from 2012 to 2000. Did he appear in a baroque time machine like Rod Taylor in George Pal’s legendary The Time Traveler, or naked and disoriented in an alleyway like Michael Biehn in The Terminator? The question remains unanswered, and his whereabouts unknown. The last available information on this intriguing person is that he claimed to be “eluding pursuit”, vanishing after making a statement to a radio station.

As an interesting side note, an Argentinean novel about time travel – La invención de Morel (Morel’s Invention), written in 1940 by Adolfo Bioy Casares – is considered by many as the inspiration for the series “LOST”, with its copious doses of confusing time travel and interdimensional action. In Bioy Casares’s novel, the action plays out on an enigmatic island known as Villings, somewhere in the Ellice and Gilbert Archipelago, although the protagonist is never quite sure of the exact location. The characters on the island appear unaware of each other, as if existing in separate time streams, sometimes repeating conversations as though stuck in a “time loop”. The protagonist finds no sign of recent habitation on the island, but the tourists, as he calls them stage a reappearance out of nowhere in the evening. Even more disquieting is the presence of two suns and two moons in the sky, suggesting time and space being superimposed and out of synch.

The Possibility of Time Ships

Unassisted access to another place in time – by stepping into a distortion of what we understand to be space/time, or entering a sacred cave or structure – has been a constant feature in non-technological fiction on time travel. Thus, we have Christopher Reeves visiting Jane Seymour in the past of the early 1900s (Somewhere in Time) by surrounding himself with objects from the epoch, or a memorable Superman comic adventure in which photographer Jimmy Olsen places his head under the hand of a statue of Anubis and finds himself revisiting the Revolutionary War era. Such time travel – untrammeled by machinery – makes for better storytelling, no doubt.

But what about machines that can do the seemingly impossible – go from one age of mankind to another?

Andre Douzet and Filip Coppens, writing in The Chronodome ( provide us with the views of legendary author Jacques Bergier on UFOs. Bergier, they note, was ready to accept the notion of UFOs as time machines, not extraterrestrial craft. The gifted mind that gave us Le Matin des Magiciens believed that “a UFO was not a spaceship but a timeship. They were temporal capsules, created by our future descendants, who performed time tourism in them, visiting their distant ancestors – us – if not our own ancestors. For Bergier, this was the main reason why they never interfered with Mankind. Any such action, he felt, might have serious consequences in the future...”

One possible time machine that would have met with Bergier’s approval can be found in the works of the controversial academic Frank J. Tipler of the University of Texas (of Omega Point theory fame). In 1974, Tipler suggested that time travel would be possible by means of an object or spacecraft having the mass of our sun, yet compressed into a cylindrical form measuring 100 kilometers in length and having a diameter of 20 kilometers, spinning at 2000 revolutions per second. These rotations would create closed timelike curves, distorting the surrounding space-time. Approaching the distortion from the right angle, and departing it at the exact point, would conceivably result in an arrival taking place 50 years before the moment of departure. Pinpoint accuracy would be of the essence, as an infinitesimal variation could result in an arrival five hundred or five thousand years prior to the moment of departure.

In 1988, physicist Kip Thorne and colleagues presented a paper suggesting that it would be well within the reach of an advanced civilization to create machines able to “manipulate concentrations of matter-energy” to create closed timelike curves (CTCs). These machines would have little resemblance to Dr. Who’s TARDIS or the sleek stainless steel exterior of Marty McFly’s DeLorean in Back to the Future. In the early 1990s, Stephen Hawking’s own work on the subject (The Chronology Protection Conjecture) posited that time-travel was only possible on the microscopic level, and that CTCs could not be created. Describing - much less understanding! – the physics involved in these theories go beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that minds not bent on science fiction or mysticism have approached the problem objectively and come up with interesting conclusions

There appear are instances, however, where moderately sophisticated man-made objects have become time machines.

The late Antonio Ribera mentions an unusual case in his Las Máquinas del Tiempo (Planeta, 1984) involving an AVIACO airliner on regular service between the Spanish cities of Valencia and Bilbao. At 16:45 hours on an unspecified day in February 1978, the airliner was over Bilbao’s Sondica Airport, awaiting clearance to land. Due to poor weather, the flight was redirected to Parayas Airport in the city of Santander. The AVIACO crew complied and climbed to twelve thousand feet over the sea, heading toward their new destination. Upon reaching their new cruising altitude, the airliner entered a whitish “cloud” and its avionics began to fail one by one, communication systems were among them. Ribera quotes the pilot: “The two VHF systems quit working. We could neither send nor receive. In other words, we couldn’t hear Bilbao or Santander, and they couldn’t hear us either.”

To the crew’s astonishment, the DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) continued to operate – only backwards. “As soon as we entered the cloud,” said the pilot, “the DME began counting miles, but in reverse. That is to say, if we’d covered 24 miles at the time from Bilbao, the DME did not proceed with its normal count forward, but to the contrary. To our astonishment, the DME began counting 23, 22, 21, 20 until it reached zero. It kept measuring another nine miles beyond Bilbao, backward.”

Upon emerging from the cloud, all systems were restored to normal operation, even the radar. The AVIACO flight was able to contact the Santander tower, which had frantically been looking for the missing plane, having received no transponder signals at all. But what astonished the crew was that thirty-five minutes had astonishing fact, considering that the normal flight time between Bilbao and Santander was ten to twelve minutes. Fuel consumption was commensurate to the 35 minute time span...a time period which would have put the airliner well past its intended destination.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Badge Of The Winged Serpent: The Herbert Schirmer Abduction

Saturday, January 09, 2010

On December 3, 1967, around 2:30 a.m., in the vicinity of Ashland, Nebraska, police sergeant Herbert Schirmer, 22, noticed some red lights along Highway 63. Thinking that it was a stopped truck he approached and shown his high beams on it. Soon he realized it was no truck. Instead it was a disc-shaped object with a shiny, polished aluminum looking surface, and a catwalk that went around it. The red lights, which were blinking, were shining out from windows in the object. The UFO appeared to be a mere 6 to 8 feet above the road, and was hovering in the air with a slight tilt. Then the object began to slowly ascend, making a siren kind of noise, and issuing a flame-like display from the underside. Sticking his head out the window, Sgt. Schirmer watched the UFO pass nearly overhead. Then suddenly it shot up and out of sight.

Schirmer then got out of the police car and, with a flashlight in hand, inspected the surface of the road where the object had hovered so low to the ground. After this he drove to the police station and wrote in the log book, “Saw a flying saucer at the junction of highways 6 and 63. Believe it or not!” He was puzzled to notice that it was now 3 a.m., as the sighting seemingly lasted no more than ten minutes. As the morning wore on, Schirmer was to suffer a headache, a “weird buzzing” in his head, and would discover that he had a “red welt” on his neck. It was about two inches long and approx. half an inch wide, and was located on the “nerve cord” below one of his ears.

A few hours later, Chief Bill Wlaskin would visit the alleged encounter site and find a small metallic artifact. Chemical analysis revealed it was composed of iron and silicon. Investigators from the Condon project out of the University of Colorado speculated that it was probably “ordinary corroded earthly waste.”

Later, under hypnosis, Schirmer would recall for investigators how humanoid beings, between 4 1/2 to 5 feet tall, escorted him from his car and into the ship, where the “leader” gave him a tour and explained various things about themselves and their mission on earth.

The entities had slightly slanted “catlike” eyes (that didn’t blink), gray-white skin, long and thin heads, with flat noses and slitlike mouths. They wore silver-gray uniforms, gloves, and helmets (which had a small antenna on the left side around their ear), and at the left breast of each suit they had the emblem of a winged serpent. Schirmer had the impression that the small antennas were somehow a part of their communication process with him - that part of their contact with him was mental and part of it was physical.

A few years back, I discussed this case with noted UFO author Brad Steiger, who was involved in the initial hypnotic regression work with patrolman Schirmer. He recalled: “He was describing, ‘Well I’m walking here,’ ‘Well I’m walking there.’ We asked him to make certain sketches and so forth, and then all of a sudden the control seemed to slip away instantly. I guess I shouldn’t say slip away. It was an abrupt kind of thing, and he began to speak as though he were one of the occupants and said he would be, from time to time, returning in one way or another to keep tabs on Herb.”

What did Brad make of this? “Either it’s a case of extreme identification or some sign of hypnotic contact that we seem to uncover as we probe deeper and deeper into the unconscious,” he replied.

Psychologist R. Leo Sprinkle of Wyoming, had also been involved in hypnotic regression work with patrolman Schirmer at the University of Colorado. He offered, “In a few cases (e.g., Herb Schirmer) the UFO witness claimed to experience ‘mental communication’ with UFO occupants at the moment of the interview. I have no way of knowing whether the claim is ‘true’ or whether the observer had been ‘programmed’ to experience such a feeling when hypnotic time regression procedures were followed; however, to the person, the experience was ‘real.’”

So what did Dr. Sprinkle think? “I believe that each person is ‘monitored’ by spiritual guides, but in regard to the UFO contactee, the monitoring process seems to be unusually intense,” he stated. “Perhaps someday, we will learn if the prophecies about “good” vs “evil” and predictions of earth changes....are related to this monitoring process.”

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