Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Red October

I should have the October I&A finished by the end of next week.  The biggest issue has been the Russian air defense overview.  Russia moved to four OSCs rather than the previous military zones, meaning I had to change all of the placemark files (said changes will show up in the next SAM Site Overview update as well).  This is causing some problems with map generation, as the new OSCs are (except for the Southern OSC) a lot bigger than the previous military zones.  I'm trying to find a map style or template that works best to show the entire zone and it's taking a bit longer than I wanted it to.  Everything else was relatively simple to update.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

August/September I&A

See what I did there?  The current issue of I&A has begun distribution.  Due to my different workload this semester I didn't get around to 1) doing this on anything close to a normal schedule, and 2) get around to a separate September issue.
Also, don't expect to see anything else "new" from I&A until 2013.  The next two issues will be October and December, focusing on Russia and China and primarily consisting of updated articles on air defense, strategic forces, etc.  There won't be anything in November, the idea is to leave a lot of space open to ensure that all of the updating is complete on time (in theory). 
Because of the current workload issue, I may go to a bimonthly schedule in 2013.  We'll see.  If I get things under control the rest of the year, I may be able to retain the hypothetical monthly schedule.
Finally, anything notable will appear either here or as an I&A special report for the rest of the year for the reasons listed above.  I also have a rather large (over 100 sites) update to the SAM Site Overview to process as well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August I&A

A brief update:  the August I&A is being finalized, but may require some work on Saturday to complete given my new schedule.  I now teach five days a week instead of my more typical two, but I can't complain.  As such you may see it in your inbox during the first week of September rather than over the weekend.
There are two outstanding contributor pieces focusing on China and Pakistan, as well as two pieces of my own covering air defense updates in the Caucasus region and a new method of classifying military locations in Google Earth (or any other GIS program for that matter).
Remember that September will be a new issue, but October will not; October will be an updated, consolidated Russia-centric issue.  Then November will be new, and December will be a repeat of October but China-focused.

Also, the next Jane's Intelligence Review contains an article I wrote covering present and future upgrades to Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal.  We got some great satellite imagery in there of some of the new Voronezh BMEW radars, and a few other interesting locations.

Lastly, if you heard someone on Voice of America talking about SAMs in Syria...yeah, that was me.
I'll get back to work now.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I&A, the Business Model. Or something.

So I'm trying to wrap my brain around a way to get out there and use my brain to generate additional sources of money.  Which CFO-House usually transforms into apparel, or VP-Destruction demands for whatever the latest toy on the market is, but that's another issue entirely! 

My current line of thinking is some sort of consulting or analytical service, which I mentioned last month. 

First, a few disclaimers.

1.  Everything posted here is and will always remain free of charge.  The same goes for the I&A PDF.  I do those because I find it interesting, and because I'm apparently good at it, or so I'm told.

2.  Also free:  academic-related help.  I've assisted people who've contacted me with various things from finding sources to reviewing theses.  If you've got a question along those lines, or any other general question of amusement, don't hesitate to contact me.  You won't be getting a bill!

I've obviously started channeling brainwaves into cash deposits via my work with IHS Jane's, and will begin to pursue other similar opportunities as well.

The point of my new idea is to offer a fee-based service to, well, pretty much anyone, providing detailed analysis or imagery interpretation.  I haven't completely thought this through yet, with questions such as "do I need to set up a legitimate business" or "is there red tape to cut" still in the future.

The question right now remains:  is there a market?  Which can be translated as:  do you know of anyone who would benefit from such a service?  Pass my e-mail along to anyone you can think of that might be in the market for this kind of work.  Foreign clients are certainly acceptable, provided they aren't asking me to do something illegal under US law.

The idea is to take on analytical or analysis tasks and do the groundwork, delivering a finished product to a user.  The product can be a document, a KML file, or an annotated image or map.

The one caveat here is that if a user requests imagery-based analysis, they may have to provide externally-sourced imagery.  When we use imagery in Jane's, it's purchased directly from a provider so they have the rights to use it "for profit" (and lets us use imagery that's typically far more current than you can find in Google Earth).  I'll have to look into the guidelines a bit more from Google to see what's what with this issue.  Incidentially this is one of the main reasons I&A will never cost you a dime, because it prevents me from having to purchase rights to the imagery!

As far as a pricing system goes, I haven't thought too far on that either.  But I'm certainly not interested in making this my plan to join the 1 Percent, or throwing myself into an obnoxious tax bracket.  I do intend to use a per-project fee, rather than an hourly rate system, because it makes things a lot easier to deal with and I don't have to justify spending seven hours looking at one single image.

Once I get a better idea of the entire process, the pricing plan, and whatnot, I'll post a PDF file here outlining the way things will work.  I should probably get something together containing my areas of expertise and professional experience as well, that'd probably help.

So, is this a good idea, or have I completely lost my mind?

Which is always a distinct possibility.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July I&A going out tomorrow

UPDATE:  the first set of e-mails just went out.  Expect to see the e-mail within the next day or two.

Here's the link to download the June issue, for everyone else:  CLICK

July's I&A will go out tomorrow afternoon once I finish tweaking the book review bit.  I'd have had it done today but I got sidetracked doing final grades for the semester and taking care of some edits to my next Jane's feature covering Russian strategic force developments.  The KML file will be really amusing this time, there are a ton of palcemarks for Libya.

All for now!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July I&A and other info

July's I&A is coming along and will be distributed on time by the end of the month.  Topics will be as follows:

-A book review

-Analysis of BDA from Libya in 2011

-The ROK's ADD Complexes

-An update to the Chinese radars in Syria business

Expect a KML file for this issue as well.

Moving forward, expect "normal" I&A issues to appear every month except October and December.  Those months are reserved for Russia and China respectively, and will serve as annual volumes focusing specifically on each state.  They'll include both the content in last year's issues, as well as Russia or China focused content from other I&A issues.  Everything will get updates.

Also, my next Jane's article will focus on the updating of Russian strategic forces, to include the ABM and BMEW networks, and should appear in the August issue of Intelligence Review.  Or maybe September.  It depends on what the cover date is versus when it goes to print.  I'll post the link here once it goes on the IHS website, as I did with the previous one.

Lastly, I'm thinking of offering some sort of professional-type consulting service.  More to follow on that early August, probably.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Going "Live"

UPDATE:  No word yet as to the time, so it may be pushed to early next week.  I assume that the BBC might be paying a lot of attention to that Andy Murray guy right about now...

Either tonight or tomorrow I'll be doing a live radio interview with the BBC on 5 Live.  You can listen in online at the link, it'll be sometime between 2000 and 2200 (that's 8PM - 10PM in US Eastern Time).  I should have a bit more info regarding the schedule later today, at which point I'll post an update.

The topic will be the Syrian air defense situation, including the Turkish RF-4E shootdown.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BBC on Syria; July I&A

Here's something from the BBC that you all might find interesting:  CLICK 

In other news, the topics for July's I&A are shaping up as follows:

-A look at BDA of Libyan SAM sites struck in 2011, with an eye to what this represents as far as current SEAD/DEAD tactics go (seems like this might be relevant in the near future)

-A look at the ROK's ADD complexes

-A follow-on to the I&A special report published over the weekend examining the coverage of Chinese-sourced EW assets located in Syria

Those are all well on their way to being done, and I'm still looking at a few other ideas.  One idea is to explain the problems with this article.

I'm also re-working the layout for the imagery template I use in I&A.  The big one, like the one I posted here for the captured Syrian Type 120 EW site.  I currently have two issues to resolve, and one idea to incorporate.  First, I need to shrink the upper border a bit, to give more space to the image.  And maybe add a surrounding border as well.  Secondly, I need to figure out how to save the finished images properly so that they don't screw up the color.  Look at any of the big images in I&A, including the maps.  Any time I use red (which is a lot), the red parts look ugly in the saved image.  Nice and bright on-screen during creation, not so much after the save.  This is an image issue, not an issue converting to PDF, as it does this to the saved image before I do anything else with it.  The idea I'll be including at some point is to generate a system of identifiers for each location I show.  This can then be cross-referenced with the SAM Site Overview placemarks. 

And now I have a nice six-day weekend for the holiday, to spend working on my next IHS Jane's feature and some of July's I&A.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Strong Get Stronger

Two recent events significantly increase the effectiveness of what is already the world's most capable air defense network.  Simply put, the strong are getting stronger.

On 28 June, Ria Novosti reported that the new missile for the S-400 passed state trials, and would soon be delivered to operational S-400 batteries.  Whether this is the rumored 40N6 or not is up for debate, as is the actual genesis of the 40N6, but the classification of the new weapon as "long range" seems to indicate that the S-400 will soon have it's full design range capability of 400 kilometers at its disposal.  The "long-range" classification also appears to eliminate a 9M96 variant from consideration, a weapon long associated with the S-400 complex.

While mention of the potential 40N6 deployment has appeared in various sources, an earlier announcement seems to have largely been ignored.  In January, reports stated that S-300PM batteries had completed upgrades to Favorit-S standard.  This increases the maximum engagement range of the system from 150 to 200 kilometers, by incorporating the newer 48N6D missile.  Although still short of the S-400's 250 kilometer range against most non-cooperative targets with the 48N6DM, the Favorit-S represents a solid increase in system effectiveness, blostered by the introduction of newer electronic components. 

As the new S-400 continues to enter service, modernized Favorit-S systems present three possibilities.  First, they can be used as gap-fillers, backing up S-400 batteries uploaded with the longer-range 40N6.  This represents a useful role, given that the 40N6 likely possesses a reduced capability at range to engage non-cooperative targets.  Additionally, modernized Favorit-S batteries displaced by the introduction of S-400 units can be redeployed around Russia as replacements for older S-300PT and S-300PS batteries.  Lastly, Favorit-S batteries, displaced by S-400 batteries and not required elsewhere in the nation, could potentially represent a viable export target for a nation lacking the resources to acquire the more expensive S-400 but requiring an air defense upgrade.  As such they could also be passed on to states such as Kazakhstan or Belarus as replacements for extant S-300PS and S-300PMU systems while awaiting delivery of S-400 batteries.

Regardless of the details, one thing is clear:  the Russian air defense network is becoming increasingly potent. 

Users of the SAM Site Overview file will see these changes reflected during the next update.  S-300PM range rings will be altered to reflect a 200 kilometer range, and separate 400 kilometer range rings will be added for the S-400 to denote it's two-missile selection.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I&A Special Report: Chinese Radars in Syria

Interested readers can download an I&A special report on Chinese radars in Syria here:  CLICK

There are, at present, three different Chinese radar types identified:  the Type 120, the JY-27 (WIDE MAT), and the JYL-1.  The last identification is the least conclusive but appears accurate based on imagery analysis and examination of various photographs of Chinese radar systems.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Captured Syrian Radar Position

UPDATE:  thanks to PS860 posting in the comments, the unidentified array is a 1RL23 (SCORE BOARD) IFF system.  It's also a very small unit, and due to the size I misidentified the position in the imagery below.  It actually sits east of the domed structure, and does not appear visible in the imagery.  At least I got the IFF interrogator part right!

Rebel forces recently captured a radar site in northwestern Syria on 26 June, and subsequently released a video showing various radar systems.  The image below depicts the radar site as it appeared in August of 2011.  The site is located among the Sheikh Barakat ruins roughly 2.5 kilometers west of Dar Ta izzah in northwestern Syria, roughly 12 kilometers from the Turkish border.

The site is noteworthy as it contains both FSU and Chinese EW sensors.  An FSU P-12/18 (SPOON REST) radar system is present alongside a newer Chinese Type 120 2D surveillance radar.  A third as yet unidentified array also appears in the video, and may represent either an additional radar array or an IFF interrogator.

The Type 120, along with JY-27 (WIDE MAT) radars noted at two other EW complexes east of Damascus, highlight the Chinese industry's connection with Syria.  Given that the Type 120 represents a target acquisition sensor for SAM support in Chinese service, it is prudent to speculate as to whether Syria has acquired modern Chinese SAM systems to improve its air defense network. 

The Type 120 first appeared in imagery of the Dar Ta izzah EW complex in June 2010, with the JY-27 present at one of the southern EW sites as early as August of 2009.  It is therefore likely that the arms shipment containing these sensors was delivered no later than early 2009.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June I&A and other info

The June I&A is being finalized right now and will go out this afternoon.  As before, it takes about three days to get all of the e-mails out (stupid Gmail, I am not spam!).  Also, here's the download link for the May issue for everyone else out there to check out:  CLICK

I ended up going with only two topics:  Syria's SAM Network (hey, I figured it might be relevant...), and a contributor piece by Daniel Videre on the sources of water at the Tabriz S Silo Complex in Iran.  The other two potential topics have been shuffled around. 

The Russian radar information will now be present in a new feature I'm penning for IHS Jane's covering the modernization of Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal.  As part of that I'll be covering the ABM network, as there have been a lot of new BMEW changes, and I believe the new radars may play into that.  Did I say radars?  That's right, I found another one, a wholly different system.  At any rate, if you can get ahold of the Intelligence Review issue with the article, pick it up.  There will be a large quantity of previously unpublished (i.e. you can't find this stuff in Google Earth) overhead imagery from Digital Globe and GeoEye.  There are definitely benefits to working with a professional organization willing to find any available imagery to play with!

The Korean ADD Facility Analysis will also be in next month's I&A; I'm searching for more information on some of the recent weapon systems tested at the various complexes to include in the report.

I know, I know, June's I&A will be a little bit short, but this should give Daniel's article a bit more attention, which it definitely deserves.  I've mentioned it before, but it deserves mentioning again:  for a bunch of guys doing this for free, the contributors I have collected so far are doing first-rate work.  I've also got another new one lined up, who I hope to get involved in either July or August.  Also to combat the shortness, I've been prepping a number of articles for the next few issues, so expect an increase in content again.

Also, I've pretty much finished with rearranging the SAM Site Overview file, with the exception of the chore of identifying all of the damn Chinese arrays, so those files will go up once I&A is done with for June.

Lastly, I'm contemplating various ways to alter the format of I&A to clean up the presentation a little bit.  Maybe a smaller font, maybe a revised layout for a few things.  Don't expect to see anything different until next year though; I have no desire to completely reformat the entire "Red October" issue's contents at this point!

All for now.  And who decided to let it be so hot outside here this week?  Of this I do not approve.

Friday, June 22, 2012

SAM Update...update, plus I&A

Just about done with the updating.  For now all that has been accomplished is a sanity check of individual locations (which took a lot of time given that there are well over 7,000 sites), with some updates and deletions.  I have yet to go through China's EW sites to reattack the radar ID issue, that'll be next. 

One thing I have decided to do is go through Russia and China and break everything down by military region.  In these two cases, you'll be able to open the country folder, and see a series of subfolders for each MR.  These folders will be organized the same way the country folders are now, with subfolders for active sites, facilities, etc.  Also, the MR subfolders will also be "clickable" the same way country folders are now.  When you click on Russia, for example, a window will appear giving you the overall totals for Russia.  Then when you click on the Western Region folder, for example, you'll get the totals for that individual region.  This will make things like updating the Russia and China air defense articles for I&A that much easier as well, as I will no longer have to spend time separating everything out.

When the Russia and China breakdowns are done, I'll update the files.  Doing China's EW sites will be a bit more time consuming so it'll likely appear in the next update.  I also may go back and heavily alter the Historical Sites idea, using it only to store sites that have actually disappeared.  Given that some countries re-use old SAM sites for newer systems (like Russia) I can't justify moving, say, their SA-2 sites into the Historical section en masse.  If it can't be done there, it shouldn't be done anywhere in order to maintain consistency.

Working a few new projects for IHS Jane's as well, more details on those to follow when it gets closer to publication.  For now, pick up the next issue of Defence Weekly, I just might be quoted in there.

The June I&A is coming along, with a few interesting topics.  There will be a Syrian air defense network piece, an examination of what might be a new radar in Russia, an overview of Korea's ADD complexes, and a contributor piece on Iran.  And anything else I can think up in the next few days!  It'll be out by the end of the month.

All for now, except that if you haven't 1) seen Prometheus, 2) heard The Industrialist, or 3) acknowledged the superiority of the Heat, then, well:  summer, you're doing it wrong.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

SAM Site Overview Improvements

I'm thinking of ways to upgrade the SAM Site Overview file.  There are a few things that need to be done:

1.  Re-analyzing Chinese EW sites to accurately reflect deployed radar systems

2.  Going over everything and moving some locations to the historical section, such as sites no longer in existance due to razing and reuse of the location for something else

Beyond that, there are some things I'd like to do if and when I get the time:

1.  Locating the damn Azeri S-300PMU-2 components

2.  Incorporating more of the active and inactive EW sites in the US and Canada

3.  Changing the SA-2 range rings to a width of 2.0 rather than the current 3.0 (this brings them in line with everything else and will shrink the size of the Range Rings file)

4.  Trying to indicate the actual SA-2, SA-3, etc. variant used by each nation

5.  Putting some more detail into the site placemark windows

6.  Expanding the SHORAD section

Beyond that, are there any ideas out there for ways to further improve the file?  If you've got suggestions, throw 'em into the comments.  I'll try and reply to each suggestion and tell you if I like the idea and will do it, or why I might not like the idea and won't. 

Either way, the current system has now been in use for a while now, so it's time for a facelift and some general tweaking. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

29 May Imagery Update

First, some housekeeping.  Given that this is the first serious attempt at documenting anything interesting in the most recent Google Earth imagery update, here's how it will work.  The post title will have the date of the imagery update as displayed in the Google Earth imagery update kml file.  So don't be confused when today is 1 June and you see the post title with 29 May!  Also, I've tagged the post with the Google Earth label, and created a new one called Imagery Update.  From this point forward if you find the Imagery Update tag in the label list, you can then view all of the relevant articles talking about Google Earth's imagery updates.

Also, I'm not going to detail every little thing or every updated location.  If you want that, head over to the Google Earth Blog.  They do a great job of both announcing updates and listing locations as they're discovered.  This will serve to highlight some of the amusing new imagery, or maybe amusing updated imagery, of places of interest to myself and readers of this site.

On to the update.  The Google Earth imagery update on the 29th was pretty impressive.  Lots of new imagery incorporated, mostly a bunch of smaller cels. 

One new location now visible in high resolution is the Nenoksa SLBM test complex west of Severodvinsk.  Which sounds like a really great place for an I&A Facility Overview!

There's new imagery of a lot of the PLA's 830th Brigade complexes at Kunming, but nothing earth-shattering to report.

May 2011 historical imagery of the southwestern 53T6 ABM site around Moscow shows some sort of work at one of the silos, and there's a GAZELLE transloader parked in the vehicle area.

In terms of the SAM Site Overview file, an interesting development is the deployment of a 55Zh6 TALL RACK CVLO VHF-band radar north of Orsha in Belarus.  This makes two of the systems identified in Belarus at this time.

The most irritating update is a block of new imagery from late 2011 in Baku, Azerbaijan...which is still of no help as to locating their S-300PMU-2 components.

Those are the most interesting or significant things I've noticed so far exploring the new imagery.  If I locate anything else, I'll update this post and kick it back to the top of the page.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 2012 I&A

The May 2012 I&A is being distributed.  And there was much rejoicing.  As is usual, this will take a few days.  The first people on the list will get the e-mail today, everyone else either tomorrow or Thursday.

Here's the link to download the January 2012 issue.  Whenever a new one is released to subscribers, I'll make the previous issue available here.

One thing I forgot:  I'll be deleting people from the subscription list as I get messages from various servers saying that the e-mail couldn't be delivered.  The most common occurrences are 1) your inbox is full, or 2) the e-mail address is no longer valid.  So if you think you should be getting the message but haven't seen one by Friday, then 1) check your spam box, I get booted there sometimes, or 2) send me a new subscription request with an e-mail that's actually valid!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wireless Issues

OK, so after talking with Comcast and Terraserver, the issue is...neither of them!  If I take my computer and plug it directly into the modem, Terraserver works just fine.  But if I try and get the site running while using my wireless connection, it doesn't.  So, nobody was blocking anything, the problem lies with the wireless router.

The question now is, does anyone have the slightest idea how I'm supposed to fix this now?  I've logged into the wireless router's control panel whatever thing (at this point you should be able to easily discern my level of computer knowledgeableness), and can't find anything related to what I need to fix.  The problem is that Terraserver is pulling map data from tsms.terraserver.com, and that is the linkup that I can't make for whatever reason when using wireless.

This is all slightly weird as it happened all of a sudden, but whatever, the site does work when I plug right into the modem so we've basically eliminated my ISP and Terraserver from the equation.

So, what am I supposed to do now to get this cooperating with my wireless router again?  Ideas?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Terraserver Updated

It appears that Terraserver obtained updated imagery for a good part of the world a month or so ago.  Being that I was off in my own world at the time, it's not a shock that I didn't catch on to this before.  There are a lot of places you can now examine using their online viewer that are not yet visible in Google Earth.  Plus, they seem to have a much bigger collection of historical imagery now as well.

It figures that I notice this right after posting the latest SAM Site Overview file, but whatever.  More updates for next time!  Including the location of the third S-400 battery around Moscow...

It also figures that they seem to limit the number of searches you can perform now.  I've been messing around with the viewer for around an hour or so and all of a sudden it won't complete any of my searches.  Clearly I need to just subscribe already and get the nicer viewer!

Probable 827th Brigade HQ Located

The previous two Google Earth imagery updates haven't disclosed anything overly amusing, but they have included updated 2012 imagery around Shaoguan in southeastern China.  Shaoguan is the home to the PLA 2nd Artillery Corps' 827th Brigade, and until now the brigade facilities remained unlocated.

The image above depicts the probable HQ compound for the 827th Brigade.  The compound shares various features with other PLA 2nd Artillery Corps garrisons, including the obligatory high-bay garage and various smaller garages for launch vehicles and support equipment.

As a newer unit in the 52nd Base, the 827th Brigade compound is nonexistant in October 2005 imagery.  This is logical as the 827th represents a newer unit.

Some sources suggest that the 827th Brigade is a DF-16 unit, while others suggest that the Brigade operates the DF-21C.  The DF-16 is reportedly the new designation for the former DF-15C, a two-stage DF-15 modification.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Google Boats?

According to a news piece posted by AOL, Google is developing the ability to track and display the locations of ships at sea.

All of them.

Well, at least those actively using AIS transponders, but still.

This is a pretty interesting development, if you ask me.  Some of the benefits are obvious, and are mentioned in the article.

Then there's the fact that you could theoretically track the movement of military forces worldwide.  Provided they operate with AIS transponders active, that is.

I'd think that this represents a great tool to exploit off of the Horn of Africa.  Military vessels in the area with transponders active could act like homing beacons for shipping in the area, guiding them through protected waters and serving as a pirate deterrent.  The authors naturally assume that such new technology would obviously represent some sort of terrorist tool for attacking targets (because what else is Google Earth but a mapping program of terrorist targets, right?), but if American, Chinese, or whoever's naval units are operating in the clear, hey, go ahead and try it.  I'm willing to bet that in the battle of terrorist vs. 5 inch round or terrorist vs. CIWS, the winner will not be the guy with nefarious intentions.  Plus, in case they haven't noticed, terrorists and pirates are already attacking boats.

The really interesting bit of the article is Google's plan to map the entire seafloor in high resolution over five years.  Again, the assumption is that this will lead to all sorts of security problems when crashed spy satellites are located and the Chinese or Russians go out to lift them off the bottom.  Always with the negative waves, Moriarity.  Always with the negative waves.  Me, I'd like to see them locate Jack Weeks' A-12, to finally put an end to one of the unsolved tragedies of the CIA's OXCART program.

Of course, locating K-129 would be amusing too...we'd then know just how much of the sub was lifted off of the bottom by the CIA.  I'm not sure which would be more amusing, finding only a few pieces of the sub on the bottom, or the entire thing.

The article closes with the following line from an unnamed intelligence community source, after a brief bit about how Google services have little intelligence utility whatsoever in their minds:  "Just because you have the data, doesn't mean you can analyze the data or know how to use it."

Sure, I'll take that as a challenge.  Or maybe a mission statement...

And see?  I told you I'd be posting here again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Return

Well. Guess who's back.

Sorry for the protracted absence, I got submerged by various projects and they pretty much demanded all of my focus for the past few months. That being said, all of those projects are now over and done with. I've also cleaned out my schedule for the remainder of the year. Bottom line: from now until at least January 2013, I get to concentrate exclusively on the website, I&A, and a few other things. Well, I'll still be teaching, but that's never been a huge encroachment into my other areas of focus anyway.

So. What's the plan for the rest of the year, then? I'm going to be focusing on three areas. We'll call them three tiers to make it sound formal and organized.

Tier 1 will be the website. I want to get back to putting content here on the web. It won't be as in depth as it used to be, ebcause I&A will still be the primary monthly source of information, but there are some things I'll be doing here. Anything opinionated will go here for obvious reasons. In addition, I'm going to start posting anything of interest that pops up in Google Earth's imagery updates. The only caveat there is that I've got to wait until they push out the KML for a given update, so I can fully investigate all of the new areas to see if there's anything interesting that is now visible. They can sometimes take a while to get the KML out, so don't expect to see something here the minute you see new imagery. The SAM Site Overview will continue to be updated as well. And, like I did during the Libyan bombings, current events topics, or pretty much anything else I find amusing, will go here as well.

Tier 2 will be I&A. If the website is the personal outlet, I&A is the semi-professional outlet. I am now armed with Microsoft Publisher, so I may even be able to finally get around to tweaking the layout. Beginning with the May issue at the end of the month, I&A will now return to its regular monthly distribution schedule. I'm going to put a bit more effort into getting things lined up in advance as well, particularly from contributors, so the turnaround time for each issue should lessen. That in turn should further increase the chances that I stop with all of the irritating delays in getting things distributed. Also, the fun things that I get into for places like Air Power Australia also fall into this category.

Tier 3...this is the professional-grade material. I don't expect there to be much of a difference in scope or quality from the aforementioned material, the difference here is that this material will not be available on the web or in I&A. That's right, I have invaded the publishing world. One of those projects taking up my time the last few months was my first professionally published article. The May issue of Jane's Intelligence Review features an article penned by...me! I'll be doing more with IHS Jane's in the future, and looking for other media outlets to invade as well. And yes, I am now referring to myself as a professional author.

So that's the plan. I'm now going to be focusing pretty much exclusively on all of these areas, at least until the rest of the year. After that...who knows? And I do have to thank IHS Jane's for allowing this to happen. Being able to convert my brainwaves into cash money is the driving factor behind my ability to ignore everything that doesn't involve my teaching job, which I like too much to get rid of anyway.

The first three things on my agenda, therefore, are:

-May's issue of I&A. Expect good stuff here. I've got something in the works on Russia's CVLO radar network, and am rewriting and updating the Blackbird reading list featured here a good long time ago.

-Imagery Update Highlights from the two May updates in Google Earth, the second of which happened a day or so ago. Right now I'm waiting for the KML to update displaying the new imagery and everything will be good.

-Updating the SAM Site Overview files. I've got new files ready for upload, they'll probably wait until the weekend just to allow this post to sit at the top for a couple of days. The current total is just over 7200 sites.

And of course, as I log in to post this, I see that Blogger has changed its layout and format. Bear with me for the next couple of days as I get used to the new system.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jan/Feb I&A

Just sent out the first e-mail with the download links to the first I&A for 2012. Apologies for the delays, there were numerous factors involved including a bit more work to deal with, as in the kind that actually results in me getting paid.

If you didn't get the e-mail today, you'll get it tomorrow or Thursday. I have to break it up over three days now due to Gmail's daily limits to prove I'm not a spambot. One change: the link to download the previous month's issue will appear here when the next month goes out. Also, you can download the entire 2011 back catalog here: click

So, we're back now for 2012. Normal operations will resume from this point forward. Now I suppose I need to update the SAM Site Overview file, right?

Monday, January 2, 2012

January I&A

Here are the topics in the works for the upcoming January issue of I&A:

-The importance of IMINT
-The DPRK's SAM Network
-An overview of DF-31 bases (notice that there wasn't too much attention to the details of relevant facilities in the December 2nd Artillery Corps piece-that was done to allow me to do longer, more in-depth overviews like this in the future...plus it kept the PDF from being 500 pages)
-Something odd about HQ-9 SAM sites (as in sites designed for the HQ-9, not hybrid or other sites simply hosting an HQ-9 battery)
-A contributor piece by Christopher Biggers on Bandar-e-Abbas

Newsflash: there have been many issues with and complaints about the Google Documents format. Some people can't always get the links to work. Sometimes the system itself does weird things, like giving me the link to the wrong issue, or only allowing Google account holders to view the documents. To address these problems, beginning with the January issue I&A will be distributed via Mediafire. That's the same hosting site that I used to distribute the 2011 collection of back issues, as well as the PDF I wrote on the Falcon missile family. As far as I know, there aren't any issues using Mediafire at the present time. If there are any, let me know now! As a warning, being that it's a file hosting site, it remains to be seen if some e-mail providers will filter out the download link. If that happens I'll re-attack the problem.