Tag Archives: Secrets

Russian Imprisoned for Handing ‘State Secrets’ to China

Russian Imprisoned for Handing ‘State Secrets’ to China


A Russian national has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for treason by handing state secrets to China, a court in Siberia announced Thursday.

Vladimir Vasilyev, 52, had pleaded guilty to passing state secrets to China’s intelligence services, the state-run TASS news agency quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying. He is at least the third Russian citizen to be convicted of state treason this year and the 10th in the past two years.

The Zabaikalsky region court in a closed-door trial found Vasilyev guilty of high treason and sentenced him to 8 years in a maximum-security penal colony.

The court’s press service added in an online statement that it imposed an additional year of restrictions on Vasilyev after he serves his jail term.

The court service confirmed that the sentence has come into force, according to TASS. It was unclear if Vasilyev’s defense team planned to appeal the ruling. 

State treason convictions in Russia have increased significantly since 2014 after a total of 25 Russians were sentenced in 2009-2013, according to Supreme Court data. In 2020 alone, Russian investigators opened around 30 state treason cases.

Critics have accused Russian authorities of paranoia as it has stepped up arrests of citizens, including scientists and journalists, on charges of sharing sensitive information with foreigners.

Despite the arrests, Russia has prioritized closer ties with China in the wake of deteriorating relations with the West following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.



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Magic secrets behind the new 65-stall Red Brick Market coming to Digbeth

Magic secrets behind the new 65-stall Red Brick Market coming to Digbeth


If you go down to the new Red Brick Market opening soon in Digbeth you’ll be in for a big surprise.

That’s because while the stalls will be there, the stallholders might not.

And that’s just one of the massive differences between traditional markets like the Bull Ring Markets and this forthcoming alternative coming soon to the former W. J. Wild engineering site on Floodgate Street opposite the Custard Factory.

As you can see in the above card-trick video, the new Red Brick Market even has a resident magician in Liverpool where the company was founded.

Traditional council-run markets tend to have strict ideas of what can and cannot be sold from stalls which all tend to look the same.

If a stallholder is not there when a shopper arrives, that stall won’t take any money.



Pictures on the Instagram page for the Red Brick Market in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool
Pictures on the Instagram page for the Red Brick Market in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool

Red Brick’s philosophy is the more different a stall is, the merrier – regardless of whether the stall owner is present or not.

Barely 600 yards away from Red Brick’s new Floodgate Street site, The Bull Ring Markets might have scant online presence even after 855 years of trading.

But with Red Brick you can take 360-degree style tours of stalls via Instagram to whet your appetite for a visit to what it calls “Liverpool’s finest indoor market for unique items.”

The pioneering site in Merseyside’s Baltic Triangle has recently helped to provide clothes for TV series from It’s A Sin to Peaky Blinders – which will soon be a near neighbour in both cities once creator Steve Knight’s new Mercian studio is up and running in Digbeth.

Founder Chris Day told BirminghamLive: “In contrast to Red Brick, Liverpool Council’s market at St John’s (est 1822) is like a hospital ward.”



Mask wearing has been compulsory at Red Brick Market in Liverpool since last summer
Mask wearing has been compulsory at Red Brick Market in Liverpool since last summer – but they can still help customers to look the part

How it works

Red Brick Market is being launched by Liverpool entrepreneur Chris Day, whose six-year-old first venture on Merseyside has been a roaring success.

He was a financial adviser until he realised how much he didn’t enjoy the job.

Now Chris runs his own market which features everything from a dog groomer to a masseuse – with no clothes pegs on sale in between.



One of the stalls in Liverpool's Red Brick Market
One of the stalls in Liverpool’s Red Brick Market

After literally spotting a “gap in the market,” Chris dreamed up Red Brick as an alternative site that would attract shoppers simply because it wasn’t a council-led market with derivative ideas.

Chris says: “We’re like a department store alternative retail site, with a central payment desk and our own staff on the floor.

“Stallholders can come and go as they please – shoppers just pay on their way out whether they are there or not.



The former W. J. Wild building on Floodgate Street could become a 65-stall indoor market
The former W. J. Wild building on Floodgate Street could become a 65-stall indoor market

“”And they can decorate their stalls however they see fit, though we do have an “artists’ space” with dedicated lighting and plain walls.”

“The people who founded Ghetto Golf at the Custard Factory expanded up to Liverpool and they told me I would love this site on Floodgate Street.

“Just looking online before I even got here, I knew it would be just what I was looking for having looked at other places up and down the country.

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“The graffiti art on the outside is just fine. We don’t want perfect. we really need an industrial vibe.”

If lockdown eases, the new Digbeth Red Brick Market could be open as soon as Easter / April.

Chris adds: “We’re an ideal incubator for start-ups and small businesses and anyone who wants to avoid high street business rates. You can come here and put your own stamp on it.

“I used to be a financial adviser and on paper it was a dream job, but I hated it and to stop doing that was the best decision I ever made in my life.”



The single-storey former W. J. Wild site on Floodgate Street is being taken on by Liverpool-based Red Brick Market - it could be up-and-running by Easter, Covid-19 restrictions permitting
The single-storey former W. J. Wild site on Floodgate Street is being taken on by Liverpool-based Red Brick Market – it could be up-and-running by Easter, Covid-19 restrictions permitting

Liverpool role model

Chris says stallholders at his first market can sell “anything in reason that’s not too offensive.

“We’ve got studios, magicians and a hippy market that is ethical and anti-fast fashion with zero waste.

“Anything but fishmongers, key cutting and clothes pegs – so that includes a barber, tattooist, alternative therapies and a masseuse.”

Although Chis has been to Birmingham before, he doesn’t know the area particularly well.



One of the stalls in Liverpool's Red Brick Market - a concept expanding to Digbeth in 2021
One of the stalls in Liverpool’s Red Brick Market – a concept expanding to Digbeth in 2021

So once he took the trouble to have a look round, it’s a testimony to the city’s appeal that he quickly felt at home.

“I found a city a bit like Liverpool that maybe hadn’t done so well in the 80s and 90s but which is having a rebirth.

“The people here don’t seem to take themselves too seriously – they do have a joke and a laugh.

“I did have a look at the Bull Ring Markets,” he says. “But even the Rag Market just looked like a standard sort of market to me,” he says

“We steer well clear of bric-a-brac.

Ready for action

Chris said he was hoping to get builders in very soon in order to be ready for any lifting of lockdown restrictions.

“I’d first looked at the (Floodgate Street) site in late 2019, but then Covid came,” he said.

“We signed in June last year.

“The site on Floodgate Street has toilets and fire exits etc so doesn’t need that much work in that direction.

“We think it will cost from £40,000 to £60,000 to get it how we want it and depending how things go we could be advertising for stallholders by the end of February with a view to them being in for Easter or April.

“In Liverpool we have to introduce a one-way system so we might keep that as it seems to work well.

The cost of running a stall is set to be around £75 per week (£300 per month) and you can see what the Liverpool market looks like in this video here:


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Pre-covid rental deals in Liverpool were for six months, but that might be tweaked this time around.

“I think with the whole Debenhams / Arcadia thing, people will come out of lockdown wanting to spend money with smaller businesses, not with big conglomerates,” says Chris.

“We’ve also got a stall that has raised thousands for the NHS.

“Out stallholders can be on their stall as much or as little as they want to be, which might help some to take risk.

“One guy in Liverpool is there all day every day, others less so. – we just help to strip out the worry of what it’s like to start a new business.”

Digbeth Red Brick’s opening hours will typically be from 10am to 6pm or till 5pm on Sundays – but part of the planning application was to have the ability to open from 8am till 8pm if a special occasion of Christmas run-up demands it.





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These Secrets About Bones Could Bring A Season 13

These Secrets About Bones Could Bring A Season 13


We are digging the skeletons out of the closet! God and Fox knows that ‘Bones’ had had a tough time keeping up, sometimes floating and other times not so much. However, the drama behind the scenes is taking centre stage as we wonder if the secrets could renew ‘Bones’ for season 13. What secrets? Find out here!

The gritty bits of Fox’s procedural drama ‘Bones’ are not the only bones in the grave. Although ‘Bones’ could be called somewhat PG 13, the amount of drama that has been associated with it behind the scenes is astonishing! From the lead character’s open admission of infidelity to suing the show for money, ‘Bones’ has seen it all. Well, almost! Here, we will break down for you some of the itty bitty juicy bits that went on behind the curtains, while you wonder if these secrets could renew ‘Bones’ for season 13.

Highlights —

  • Emily Deschanel found the show too weird
  • David Boreanaz said the show was ending before it did
  • ‘Bones’ had a spin-off that didn’t work
  • The leads had sued for more money
  • Boreanaz’s shocking revelation of infidelity

Emily Deschanel found the show too weird

Not a fan of ‘Bones’? Well, you have a major insider on your team now! ‘Bones’ might come across as a little too strong for the viewers with all the blood and bones and gore, but they are not alone in it. The lead star, Emily Deschanel, expressed how ‘Bones’ grossed her out not unlike some of us. There were things that gave her the heebie-jeebies and creeped her out, although not the things you would expect.

Deschanel explained in an interview that it was not the bones and the blood or the death that actually grossed her out. Instead, it was the show itself. It felt like a whole new level of weird for her. In an anecdote, Deschanel had shared how in one of the episode’s story, a coral inside a bone bothered her. Weirdly enough, it was not the coral inside the bone part, but just the coral, the porous nature of which made her feel iffy. Say what!

David Boreanaz said the show was ending before it did

Here’s a weird little bit among the secrets that could actually mean something if Fox were to renew ‘Bones’ for season 13. Usually, when lead actors from a show drop hints about the goings-on of the show, more than often they turn out to be true. However, David Boreanaz, the lead from ‘Bones’, landed flat on his face when he had revealed that the show was to end after season 8. We all know how that went! ‘Bones’ went on to continue for five more seasons after season 8. Although creator Hart Hanson dismissed the rumours sourced from Boreanaz’s casual comment about being “a free agent” post season 8, we wonder if the two had a tiff on the sets leading the actor to make such comments.

Bones Season 13
These Secrets About ‘Bones’ Could Bring A Season 13

‘Bones’ had a spin-off that didn’t work

Whether uncovering secrets could renew ‘Bones’ for season 13 is still a matter of speculation, but ‘Bones’ did get a spin-off of its own that never made it beyond the first season. The success that ‘Bones’ had brought in for Fox, quite naturally, made the network want to double it. The result was a spin-off named ‘The Finder’, that failed miserably and was taken down just after season 1. The plot of the spin-off followed a man who had a mysterious talent for finding things. Talk about getting too creative! Obviously, the plot was not as interesting as the puzzling murder investigations that ‘Bones’ had to offer and, as expected, ‘The Finder’ had too short a life.

Video Credits: Looper

The leads had sued for more money

Channelizing and using their worth to their advantage is something that people should take away from Hollywood stars. The lead actors on ‘Bones’, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz realised soon enough that they were indispensable to the show bringing in a huge tribe of viewers.

That led to the actors feeling that they have been short-changed in matters of the cheque amount. Both Deschanel and Boreanaz sued the network and show-runner Kathleen Reichs for 10 million dollars right ahead of season 12. The lawsuit claim was not to increase the pay but to answer for the 3 percent gap in the amount the actors were owed. Sooner or later, the lawsuit sank under the ground as the network tried to work it out privately. Whether it was settled or not, is something people still wonder about.

Boreanaz’s shocking revelation of infidelity

Negative publicity brings in more views than anything else and that’s just basic showbiz marketing. While most celebrities try to make their scandals go away and bury them deep under the ground, Boreanaz shocked the world being open about his infidelity. He blatantly admitted in an interview to the “People magazine”, in public, that he had cheated on his wife, Jaime Bergman. Not just that, he continued to call himself arrogant and selfish, pushing Bergman emotionally away from him.

However, the two seems to have worked things out, mostly with couple therapy, and a little bit of work. Dark secrets such as these provide the best publicity for the entertainment industry and we wonder if it could do the same to renew ‘Bones’ for season 13.

Do you know any other secrets about ‘Bones’? Let us know in the comments below!



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The secrets to Israel’s coronavirus vaccination success – POLITICO

The secrets to Israel’s coronavirus vaccination success – POLITICO



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Just three weeks since the first Israeli citizen received the BioNTech/Pfizer jab — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself — the country has raced ahead of the rest of world with vaccinations, covering about 20 percent of its population to date.

Reasons behind this roaring start are fast emerging: Netanyahu revealed on January 7 that Israel struck an agreement with Pfizer to exchange citizens’ data for 10 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, including a promise of shipments of 400,000-700,000 doses every week.

Under this agreement, Israel will provide details to Pfizer (as well as and the World Health Organization) about the age, gender and medical history of those receiving the jab as well as its side effects and efficacy. No identifying information will be given in order to maintain some privacy.

Ten million doses are a drop in the ocean for Pfizer, which has pledged to produce 1.3 billion vaccine doses in 2021 — and is likely to produce more. Once regulatory approval came in mid-December — ahead of the EU — Israel was waiting with its syringes out, making it worthwhile for Pfizer to remove the first vaccines from its production line to one of the first countries that would use them.

The news couldn’t come soon enough for Israel. It has reported more than 495,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,689 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic — alarmingly high figures for the small country of 9 million.

Pfizer clearly has much to gain by rolling out its vaccine in Israel, turning it into the global pilot for a rapid vaccination campaign — and the depth of results now available to Pfizer, especially if successful, can boost marketing worldwide.

“We convinced them that if they give their vaccine to us first, we will know exactly how to administer it in the shortest time possible — and this is precisely what happened,” Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told POLITICO via his spokesperson. “We were prepared early, signed the agreements early, and told pharmaceuticals they would see results early. It’s a win-win situation.” 

With some days seeing more than 150,000 people getting vaccinated, Edelstein said, he’s confident about Israel’s success: “We continue to lead worldwide.” 

Still, health authorities aren’t answering direct questions about the exact number of doses Israel has secured or how much it paid for them, saying only that the country signed secret agreements with manufacturers as the vaccination campaign began.

Also unclear was the price it had paid for the Pfizer jab — until January 5, when officials disclosed off-the-record that Israel paid $30 per person. That’s more than twice the amount listed by Belgium, for example, which accidentally revealed its vaccine price list when Belgium’s secretary of state tweeted it. Then, on Monday night, an Israeli public broadcaster reported an even higher price, at $47 per person.

Netanyahu — who is hoping to get reelected in March — has also repeatedly brought up his close relationships with the chief executives of Pfizer and Moderna, suggesting his connections helped secure millions of doses. 

“I speak to them all the time,” Netanyahu said. He added that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a descendant of a Jewish family from Thessaloniki, is “a great friend” of Israel.

Small country, strong health care

Israel has a mandatory public health system connected to a nationwide digital network. Health maintenance organizations keep digital records of all patients, allowing any authorized computer to extract people’s medical data since birth — including past hospitalizations, prescribed medications and vaccinations.

“An operation at such scale could not have happened in a private health care system,” said a senior nurse at Israel’s renowned Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, who preferred to remain anonymous. She has vaccinated hundreds of people against the coronavirus so far.

“I have never seen so many health care workers volunteering their free time for the greater cause like this,” she explained. The sense of social solidarity and the feeling of being in this together has contributed massively to the speed of Israel’s vaccination campaign — “perhaps more so than in other countries,” she said. 

For now, Israel is prioritizing people older than 60, health workers and people with medical conditions, followed by over-55s with underlying conditions. At this point, more than 72 percent of people aged 60 and older have been vaccinated.

Not without hurdles

Israelis have so far only been receiving the Pfizer jab, but the country has also secured deals with Britain’s AstraZeneca and U.S. manufacturer Moderna. The latter announced last Tuesday that its vaccine had been approved by the Israeli health ministry. 

Moderna promised to supply 6 million doses, enough to vaccinate 3 million people. Israel has already received the first of an expected four shipments coming over the next few weeks, with a second shipment of about 480,000 doses expected Wednesday or Thursday. 

Bottlenecks or distribution hurdles aren’t solved once imported doses cross the border, however. Unlike the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius, which requires special storage techniques.

These jabs are handled by SLE, the logistics unit of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Thirty underground freezers located in a facility near Israel’s main international airport hold about 5 million doses, which are then repackaged into 100-dose bundles and delivered across the country.

Distributing the jabs quickly is crucial, and this is one area where the eagerness among Israelis to get vaccinated is accelerating the effort. Interest is so high that every day, queues of younger people hoping for leftover doses form in front of inoculation stations. WhatsApp groups filled with people contacting each other to secure these doses have also appeared. 

Ahead of the pack

Despite leading vaccination campaigns worldwide, Israel has come under fire from human rights groups and news organizations for failing to provide vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian health ministry has more than 100,000 confirmed cases in the West Bank, with more than 1,100 deaths, in a population of roughly 3 million. Gaza has reported over 45,000 cases in 2 million residents, with more than 400 fatalities.

There is also the issue of cross-border traffic: About 60,000 Palestinian workers enter Israel every day, most of whom work in the construction industry. But Israel only started testing them in December, when the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced it would start conducting sample testing.

Despite the urgent situation, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank has not publicly asked for Israeli assistance in vaccine procurement, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, is highly unlikely to coordinate with Israel in any vaccination effort.

But according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing the main Russian vaccine against COVID-19, known as Sputnik V, the Palestinian health ministry has approved its jab for use on Monday, with the first shipment of the shot expected to arrive next month.

Over the weekend, Palestinian general director of public health Yasser Bozyeh said that the PA had also sought supplies from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to supplies expected through COVAX, the WHO’s vaccine program for poor and middle-income countries.

Still, Israeli media reported last Wednesday that thousands of doses have already been passed to the West Bank, a claim which was later denied by the PA Health Ministry.

There also remain pockets of communities that might hold out. Israel’s Arab minority — about 21 percent of the population — has shown wariness towards vaccination. And numerous ultra-orthodox Jewish communities are ignoring the coronavirus-control measures altogether, resulting in infection rates sometimes five times higher than in many secular cities.

In the meantime, Netanyahu has vowed to increase Israel’s vaccination pace to at least 170,000 people per day. But as many of his critics point out, it takes more than a country’s leader to secure such operation.

“Personally, I am truly excited to take part in the vaccination efforts,” said the Ichilov senior nurse, who’s also a fierce critic of the prime minister. “The amount of people wholeheartedly committed to this operation is what made it all possible.”

 UPDATE: This story has been updated to include new media reports about the vaccine price.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.





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Secrets of property management that lead to success

Secrets of property management that lead to success


The line between being a successful landlord and losing the shirt off your back is thinner than most think. But if you study those on the winning side of things, you’ll find that their formula for success isn’t as sophisticated as it might initially seem. For the most part, they focus on proven principles like these:

1. Make Your Money When You Buy

There’s a common saying in real estate investing that you “make your money when you buy, not when you sell.” In other words, the profit comes from buying a piece of property at the right price point, which allows you to lower your expenses and generate more cash flow. 

Don’t get suckered into buying a property because it speaks to you on an emotional level, or you’re tired of going through the time-consuming process of searching for properties. Wait until you’ve found the right deal. Then – and only then – should you pull the trigger.

Patience is extremely important. You might get turned down 25 or 30 times before you ultimately get an offer accepted. But this patience will pay off in big ways – both in terms of monthly cash flow and future profits (should you decide to sell the investment at a later date). 


2. Get Serious About Tenant Screening

You must take tenant screening seriously, even when it feels time-consuming and wasteful.


“As a landlord, you don’t want a rental to remain vacant for long periods of time. After all, you’re losing money every day on a vacant property. While you might be tempted to rent the property quickly, sacrificing tenant quality may cause costly, time-consuming problems down the road,” industry insider Andrea Collatz writes.


“Using a fast and easy tenant screening service can help you screen applicants quickly while also helping you to reduce future headaches.”

If it takes a few extra days to find the right tenant, so be it. It’s better than the alternative of choosing the wrong tenant and then dealing with months of headaches before ultimately having to find a replacement.

3. Hire a Local Property Manager

Don’t feel equipped to do your own tenant screening? A property manager can step in and handle this important task on your behalf.

One of the keys to hiring a property manager is to go local. You don’t want to work with some national brand with little or no presence in your area. You need someone you can speak with face-to-face.

 4. Focus on Tenant Retention

The most successful landlords in our industry are the ones who develop long-term relationships with reliable tenants. In other words, they’ve mastered the art of tenant retention and minimized the negative impact of turnover and vacancy.

It’s often better to keep a good tenant locked in place with a rental agreement that’s below the market rate than it is to increase your rent and force a good tenant out. Do everything you can to prioritize retention. You won’t regret it.

5. Know Your Number

You can’t afford to be slack with your accounting. In fact, a lack of familiarity with your numbers is one of the major driving forces behind failed real estate investments.

Even if you have a property manager or accountant handling your investment for you, it’s important that you’re aware of property taxes, insurance, HOA dues, maintenance and repairs, vacancy rates, rental rates, cash flow, mortgage rates, interest, and other key numbers. This will help you make more educated decisions. 

Taxes are especially important and should be given a great deal of attention. Every state has its own real estate tax laws, so make sure you know what you can and can’t deduct in your area. 

Give Yourself a Competitive Advantage

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be a successful landlord. Sometimes the best approach is to study what’s already working and model your system after those core principles. In that vein, the hope is that this article will serve as a strong foundation to help you do just that. Start with the low hanging fruit and gradually implement the more challenging ones over time. Your long-term dedication to getting the details right will take you a long way. 



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Ferreting Around for Secrets – Asian Military Review

Ferreting Around for Secrets – Asian Military Review


Shaanxi-Y-9
Since 2014, the Shaanxi Y-9/GX-8 ‘ferret’ aircraft has been regularly intercepted by the JASDF while approaching Japan’s ADZ.

Published in the September/October 2020 Issue – Japan has experienced an increase in visits by Chinese and Russian ISR aircraft, but also has snoops of its own.

With the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world, it is easy to forget that there is a ‘parallel’ world in which pre-March 2020 concerns remain unresolved. For the Asia-Pacific region this means continuing tension with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS); on-going border tensions between India and Pakistan and India and the PRC, as well as continuing uncertainty about the short and long term intensions of North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-un (and increasingly sister Kim Yo-jong). Combine these considerations with the area’s geography and the economic and social effects of the pandemic itself and it is not hard to see that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities are to the fore and that air- and space-borne systems provide the best option for monitoring events in this vast region. It is with a sampling of the area’s airborne systems that the remainder of this article concerns itself.

One of the least known regional airborne ISR capabilities is that of the PRC. Here, the past 20 years has seen that country develop and deploy a range of ‘information gathering’ aircraft based on the Tupolev Tu-154 (possibly designated as the Tu-154M/D Type 1) and the Shaanxi Y-8 and Y-9 (designs that have been developed from the Russian An-12 transport) airframes. In order, the Tu-154 is understood to have entered service during 1998 and has been fielded in at least two variants. In the first instance, aircraft B-4108 was equipped with a ventral array of blister and teardrop radomes and was almost certainly a signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform. For their part, six other aircraft of this type have been fitted with a large ‘canoe’ fairing beneath their forward fuselages and have been variously described as being radar reconnaissance and/or a SIGINT platforms. Despite its age, the Chinese continue to utilise the Tu-154 for reconnaissance, with the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) having intercepted such a platform off the Japanese home islands as recently as January 2020.

The most modern of the Shaanxi-based systems is the one that is based on the company’s Y-9 airframe and which was first identified during October 2014. Externally, these new ‘special mission’ aircraft are characterised by an aft-facing fin-top radome; a possible satellite communications antenna fairing above its rear fuselage; six or seven blade aerials above its wing centre section and forward fuselage; a ventral radome beneath its forward fuselage; a prominent nose radome and pairs of lateral antenna ‘boxes’ arranged on either side of its forward and rear fuselage. Possibly bearing the local designation ‘GX-8’, a limited number of ‘ferret’ Y-9s are thought to have been supplied to the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) and have been intercepted by JASDF fighters approaching Japan’s air defence zone (ADZ) from 2016 onwards, with the latest example being spotted as late as early June 2020.

Visitors to Japan’s ADZ are not limited to manned aircraft – a Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was intercepted over the East China Sea – or just those aircraft belonging to the PRC. A variety of Russian aircraft (including Tu-142 and Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol and Il-20M and Tu-214R ‘ferret’ types) are fairly regular visitors to offshore Japan. For their own part (and aside from tactical reconnaissance assets), both the JASDF and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) operate small fleets of ‘snoopers’. In order, the JASDF operates a small force of YS-11EB derivatives of the twin-engined NAMC YS-11 airliner in the electronic reconnaissance role. Characterised by both dorsal and ventral antenna arrays, the JASDF’s quartet of YS-11EB are said to have been used to monitor Sino-Russian activity in the northwest Pacific and the Sea of Japan and are said to have been used to collect data on North Korean missile tests. As of the period 2019-20, the now ageing YS-11EB remained in service. Looking the future, a prototype ‘ferret’ based on Japan’s Kawasaki C-2 transport aircraft made its maiden flight in February 2018 and may be a precursor to a ‘production’ YS-11EB replacement.

Ilyushin-II-38
Ilyushin’s Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft is used to monitor activities in the sea lanes off Japan.

For its part, the JMSDF operates an airborne maritime reconnaissance & SIGINT capability built around eight assorted Kawasaki EP-3 ‘ferret’ and Lockheed Martin OP-3C multi-sensor surveillance aircraft. In order, the EP-3’s baseline mission suite is logged as having comprised ‘low-’ (manufactured by NEC) and ‘high-band’ (manufactured by Mitsubishi) sub-systems, with a possible total frequency coverage of between 30MHz and 18/20GHz. Identified EP-3 usage includes regular monitoring of the Sea of Japan and the waters around the Japanese home island of Honshu’s western coastline together with ‘specials’ against targets such as North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The JMSDF’s second ‘surveillor’ (the OP-3C) is a perhaps even more exotic creature than the ‘ferreting’ EP-3. As far as can be ascertained, the service’s quartet of OP-3Cs are used to monitor ‘shipping of interest’ in the seas around Japan and are equipped with a mission suite that, over time, has included an electronic support (ES) system, at least one radar, the DB-110 electro-optic/infra-red (EO/IR) imaging system and an IR ‘search & track’ sub-system. As with the JASDF’s YS-11EB fleet, the JMSDF’s EP-3 and OP-3C aircraft are becoming ‘long in the tooth’ and as of 2018, it was being suggested that there was a wish to obtain replacements for both types of aircraft.

Mention of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes leads neatly to consideration of the Republic of Korea’s (RoK) recapitalisation of its ability to monitor its northern neighbour’s activities. Traditionally, the RoK has relied heavily on America to boost its airborne surveillance capability which is currently vested in tactical reconnaissance platforms and the ‘Peace Krypton’ and ‘Peace Pioneer’ programmes. In reverse order, the ‘Peace Pioneer’ RC-800SIG capability is vested in four Hawker 800XP business jets that have been modified to accommodate an L3Harris combined communications- and electronic intelligence suite that covers a range of frequency ranges up to and including the Ka-band (26.5 to 40GHz). The same airframe also forms the basis of the RoK’s four ‘Peace Krypton’ RC-800RA aircraft that are equipped with an X-band (8-12.5GHz) Lockheed Martin synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for ground surveillance. As of 2020, all eight of these aircraft were being reported as ‘being in service’, with (in July 2020) the ‘Peace Krypton’ aircraft being the subject of American approval for an estimated $250 million RC-800RA follow-on support and equipment upgrade programme which, if consummated, will have Lockheed Martin as its ‘principle contractor’

RC-800RA
The ‘Peace Paekdue’ RC-800RA is a radar-equipped Hawker 800XP business jet that is used by the RoK’s air force to monitor activity in North Korea.

As noted earlier, pre COVID-19 the RoK was in the process of a substantial recapitalisation effort that would both improve its available ISR capability and reduce reliance on its American ally. As part of this effort, the RoK has acquired a pair of Dassault Falcon 2000 business jets that have been modified to undertake both communications intelligence gathering and missile launch detection. Entering service during (it is thought) 2017/18, these Falcon 2000s are said to be discrete replacements for the ageing RC-800SIG aircraft. A similar lack of fanfare greeted the arrival of the RoK’s first Block 30 Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk high-altitude, long endurance (HALE) UAV in late December 2019. Offering both EO/IR and radar imagery, the Global Hawk will provide South Korea with the ability to monitor its neighbours for extended periods of time and the type (together with its MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance offspring) is becoming a major force in ISR provision in the Pacific region. In addition to the RoK, Australia is in the process of acquiring up to six MQ-4C platforms as a corner stone in its latest ISR plan while Japan is understood to have decided to procure three RQ-4s for delivery by September 2022. For its part (and as of May 2020), the United States Navy (USN) is reported to have deployed a pair of MQ-4Cs on Guam, while the United States Air Force (USAF) made its first RQ-4 rotation to Japan (specifically, Yokota Air Base) during late May 2020.

As noted earlier, the RQ-4B is equipped for EO/IR and radar imaging while the MQ-4C is optimised for maritime operations. Retaining the RQ-4’s airframe profile, the MQ-4C carries a mission suite that includes the X-band AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active sensor (MFAS) radar, an AN/ZLQ-1 ES system (with specific emitter identification), an MTS-B EO/IR imager (with auto-track), an automatic identification system (AIS) application and a communications package that includes Link 16. Again, the MQ-4C is quoted as having a maximum range of 9,950 nautical miles (18,427km) and as being able to stay aloft for up to 30 hours. In the specific Australian context, the combination of the updated Jindalee over-the-horizon radar, the MQ-4C, the Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and the E-7A airborne early warning platform should provide that country with an extremely capable

MQ-4C
Operated by the USN and on order for Australia, the MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance UAV promises to be a ‘game changer’ in Asia-Pacific airborne ISR capabilities.

surveillance capability for the mid- to late 21st century.

 

Hopefully, the foregoing will have given the reader at least a feel for current airborne ISR in the Asia-Pacific region. At the time of writing (August 2020), there was no reason to suppose that any of the described programmes were being cancelled due to the effects of the COVID-19 virus. This said, there is no doubt that the pandemic has caused grievous damage to the populations of almost all the countries in the region (particularly those of China, India and Australia) and it is almost certain that the economic effects of what is effectively the 21st century’s ‘Black Death’ will only serve to increase both tensions and the need to ‘see’ what competitor nations are up to.

by Martin Streetly





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