Miscues at U.S. counterterrorism base put aircraft in danger, documents show (WaPo)


“The skies above the U.S. military’s counterterrorism hub on the Horn of Africa have become chronically dangerous, with pilots forced to rely on local air-traffic controllers who fall asleep on the job, commit errors at astronomical rates and are hostile to Americans, documents show.

Conditions at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the base for U.S. pilots flying sensitive missions over Yemen and Somalia, have become so dire that American warplanes and civilian airliners alike are routinely placed in jeopardy, according to federal aviation experts and documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Read the full article here.


Obama’s Libya Debacle (Foreign Affairs)

‘A Ground Invasion of the Capital Is Imminent’

This article by Alan J. Kuperman argues that President Obama’s policies have failed in Libya since the high-water mark of 2011.

Read the full article here.

“Egypt Launches Airstrike in Libya Against ISIS Branch” (NYT)

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“CAIRO — Egypt conducted an airstrike against an Islamist stronghold in Libya on Monday in retaliation for the beheading of at least a dozen Egyptian Christians by a local franchise of the Islamic State, in Cairo’s deepest reach yet into the chaos that has engulfed its neighbor.”

Read the article here.

Assad says Syria is informed on anti-IS air campaign (BBC)

Bashar al-Assad, courtesy of Foreign Affairs

Bashar al-Assad, courtesy of Foreign Affairs

In an interview with the BBC, Assad claimed he was not coordinating with the U.S. on airstrikes against ISIS; however, third parties (e.g. Iraq) were informing him of anti-ISIS bombing plans. Assad also denied the use of barrel bombs against Syrian civilians.

Read the article at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31312414?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AMideast%20Brief&utm_campaign=2014_The%20Middle%20East%20Daily_2.10.15

American Advanced Aircraft Reversed Engineered

Iranians created a RQ-170 Clone.



Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Air Force, announced that the IRGC flew an Iranian RQ-170 drone in November 2014, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions.

Smaller (60%) sized than an American RQ-170 Sentinel.

Intended to be used in an anti-ship warfare role against American surface ships in the Persian Gulf.

The Aviationist. Category Archives: Captured Stealth Drone.” Accessed January 4, 2014.

The Aviationist. “Iran has flown its version of the captured U.S. stealthy RQ-170 drone modified to bomb US Navy warships.” November 12, 2014.

The Aviationist. Iran releases decoded footage from captured U.S stealthy RQ-170 drone.” February 6, 2013.

Defense Radar. Iran carries successful test flight of reverse engineered RQ-170.” November 10, 2014.

Iranian State T.V. “Drone.” November 12, 2014.

Fars. “EXCLUSIVE: IRGC to Use RQ-170 for Bombing Missions.” May 12, 2014.


Chinese copy stealth fighter technology with the FC-31

China showed off its Shenyang FC-31 fighter (F-35 clone) at the Zhuhai air show.



The FC-31 initial intelligence reports suggest that the airframe has a weakness – it “bleeds” or loses altitude when it turns.

This action may be a show of force with the heightened media tension because of the APEC talks in November 2014.

CNN.Just how good is China’s new ‘stealth’ fighter?” November 13, 2014.

Defense Tech. China’s FC-31 Stealth Fighter Makes Statement at Zhuhai Air Show.” November 14, 2014.

IHS Jane’s. “Airshow China 2014: AVIC unveils FC-31 export fighter concept.” November 12, 2014.

Time. China Unveils New ‘Stealth’ Fighter in Show of Strength.” November 14, 2014.


China may have obtained a sample of the tail section of the stealth helicopter lost in Afghanistan during Operation Neptune Spear.



American intelligence officials claimed that Chinese personnel, in Abbottabad with the permission of the Pakistani Government, took photos and samples of the wreckage.

Chinese and Pakistani sources deny these allegations.

The tail rotor was supposedly shipped back to the United States.


BBC. Bin Laden raid: China denies inspecting US helicopter.” August 17, 2011.

CNN. U.S. suspects Pakistan let China visit stealth chopper.” August 16, 2011.

  1. Pakistan lets China see US helicopter.” August 14, 2011.

NPR. China Denies Inspecting U.S. Stealth Helicopter In Pakistan.” August 17, 2011.

NPR. Reports: Secret Stealth Black Hawk Helicopters Used In Bin Laden Raid.” May 5, 2011.

NYT. U.S. Aides Believe China Examined Stealth Copter.” August 14, 2011.

Reuters. Pakistan let China see crashed U.S. “stealth” copter.” August 14, 2011.

VOA. China Denies Seeing Downed US Stealth Helicopter.” August 15, 2011.

How Safe Are Our Skies? Detroit Flight 253 (BBC Documentary)


This documentary investigates the events concerning AQAP’s attempted aircraft Christmas bombing in 2009.  Key findings include:

1) Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, did not fit the typical profile of an AQAP terrorist.

2) His intended route was from Accra to Lagos, Lagos to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Detroit.

3) AQ had experimented with an underwear bomb pass metal detectors four months before Flight 253 with the attempted assassination Muhammed bin Nayef by Abdullah Al-Asiri, brother of notorious AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Al-Asiri.

4) Abdulmutallab may have been radicalized by Anwar Al-Awlaki while in Yemen.

5) After warnings from Abdulmutallab’s father to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, the State Department sent the NCTC a visa viper flag. Abdulmutallab was placed on the TIDE database.

6) Abdulmutallab was able to ignite his device, but it only caught fire and did not explode.

7) If Abdulmutallab’s device was able to explode, Dr. John Wyatt, a U.N. Blast Consultant, argued that the exterior of the plane would hold and that the bomber and the person adjacent to him would likely be the only casualties on the plane.

8) The failure to intercept Abdulmutallab led to a reform of database information sharing for the U.S. intelligence community.

9) Another approach to preventing attacks on aircraft include full body scanners or behavioral profiling.

Jordanian Pilot Shot Down over ISIS Controlled Territory (Updated)

Jordanian Pilot POW, courtesy of Al Jazeera

Jordanian Pilot POW, courtesy of Al Jazeera

Jordanian F-16 pilot Flight Lieutenant Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh was shot down over Raqqa, Syria on December 24, 2014. ISIS supposedly shot down the aircraft with a heat-seeking missile.  al-Kasasbeh and the remnants of his plane are now in the custody of ISIS. Jordanian intelligence fears for the worst for al-Kasasbeh.

AO, courtesy of the Guardian

AO, courtesy of the Guardian

ISIS fighters recovering the F-16 canopy, courtesy of the BBC.

ISIS fighters recovering the F-16 canopy, courtesy of the BBC.

Al Jazeera. ISIL captures pilot of plane downed in Syria.” December 24, 2014.

BBC. IS captures Jordanian pilot after warplane crashes in Syria.” December 24, 2014.

CNN. “ISIS captures Jordanian pilot flying for U.S.-led coalition.” December 24, 2014.

The Guardian. Isis fighters capture Jordanian pilot after plane came down over Syria.” December 24, 2014.

NYT. ISIS Captures Jordanian Fighter Pilot in Syria.” December 24, 2014.

Reuters. Islamic State captures Jordanian pilot after warplane shot down in Syria.” December 24, 2014.



CENTCOM claims that “Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming.”

BI. US Military Says ISIS Is Lying About Shooting Down A Jordanian F-16 In Syria.” December 24, 2014.

The Jordan Times. Jordanian pilot captured by IS after plane goes down.” December 24, 2014.

U.S. Central Command. “Jordanian Pilot Not Downed by ISIL.” December 24, 2014.