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Daily News
by Gail Helmer

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Friday, January 19, 2001

PC News
B-17 Flying Fortress Patch Update.
Hasbro UK announced that a patch will be available for download the 1st February 2001. A second patch will be made available later in the year to address any future issues.

New Screenshots for IL-2 Sturmovik.
Blue Byte has released some new and impressive screenshots for IL-2 Sturmovik. Check them out at: IL-2

First In-Game Screenshots for Team Factor.
7fx has announced the first in-game screenshot from their upcoming title Team Factor. Team Factor is stand-alone multiplayer action game. Set in a realistic fact-fiction story background of "shadow" military operations. You can find them on their website at: Team Factor

WIN a GameTheatre XP from Hercules.
Hercules wants to give you the chance to win one of its most exciting new audio products. The GameTheatre XP allows users to convert MP3's, hook up peripherals, and experience Dolby and DTS surround sound. Visit to enter: Hercules

Military News
Marine Corps to Investigate Osprey Squadron.
The Department of Defense today announced that the commandant of the Marine Corps has directed the inspector general of the Marine Corps to investigate allegations that the commanding officer of Marine Tilt-Rotor Training Squadron-204 asked Marines to falsify maintenance records on the squadron's MV-22 Osprey aircraft.

Marine Corps officials first became aware of these allegations Jan. 12, when they received a copy of an anonymous letter and audio tape that was mailed to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. The information alleged that the unit commander asked his Marines to falsify maintenance documents concerning the squadron's MV-22 Osprey aircraft. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.

Marine Corps officials said that although the inspector general has yet to complete his investigation, at this point there appears to be no relation between these allegations and the causes of either the April 8 mishap in Marana, Ariz., or the Dec. 11 mishap in North Carolina.

Based upon a preliminary review of the information contained in the package, the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing relieved the squadron commander this morning, pending the inspector general's thorough investigation of the matter.

Air Force Releases F-15 Ground Accident Report.
Air Force officials completed the investigation of a ground-test aircraft accident that occurred here Aug. 11. The accident, which involved an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft and an engine testing facility, has been designated a "Class A" accident, which means it resulted in more than $1 million of damage. One airman sustained minor injuries. No other military or civilian personnel were injured. The Accident Investigation Board found that during a ground test of the F-15E's jet engines, the aircraft's arresting hook disconnected from the holdback assembly, allowing the aircraft to roll forward and collide with the door of the testing facility. Investigators determined the accident was caused by a failure to properly connect the holdback assembly to the aircraft's arresting hook. The aircraft is being repaired and will be returned to flight operations.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

PC News
New Age of Sail II Web Site.
Russian developer Akella has launched a new Web site for its upcoming historical naval combat game Age of Sail II. The site features a detailed description of the game, a screenshot gallery, movie and music downloads, and forums. The new screenshots depict several ships and locations, as well as several renderings of 3D ship and structure models and design schematics. Age of Sail II will be published by TalonSoft in North America and is scheduled for release in February. For more information about the game go to: Age of Sails 2

Military News
U.S., U.K. Sign Joint Strike Fighter Agreement.
The UK has pledged £1.3 billion ($2 billion) to the JSF Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase, which will begin once a decision on which of the two contending aircraft, Boeing's X-32 and Lockheed Martin's X-35, is selected later this year.

Lockheed X35 and Boeing X32

The decision to commit to the EMD phase means that the UK believes JSF offers the best potential in meeting the MOD's requirement to replace its Harrier and Sea Harrier aircraft early in the next decade and equip the two aircraft carriers the UK plans to procure to enter service in 2012. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said "JSF will not simply replace the Harrier, it will give the UK an aircraft that can take-off from an aircraft carrier and provide the agility of a light fighter with the punch of a bomber. Put simply, it will be the best aircraft of its type in the world."

Earlier Baroness Symons, the Minister for Defence Procurement, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US in Washington for the next stage of the JSF programme. The signing confirmed the UK as a collaborative partner and ensured it would have a say in the down select of the two contenders. In addition to the £1.3 billion directly attributable to the JSF programme in the US another £600 million will be spent in UK specific modifications for the introduction of JSF into service. The total cost of the 150 plus JSFs the UK intends to buy is likely to be of the order of £9 billion.

Observers were surprised that the UK decided to commit so emphatically to the JSF programme so close to the handover of power to the Bush administration, which has pledged a root and branch review of US airpower requirements that might lead to cancellation of the project. Addressing the question at a Pentagon news conference Baroness Symons pointed out that under the terms of the original agreement the UK had to sign up to the deal by early February or risk being excluded from the decision making. It is likely that the public commitment of the UK will make it more difficult for the incoming administration to cancel the largest defence project ever, which sees production of nearly 3,000 fighters for the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the RN and RAF, with delivery scheduled to begin in 2008 in a programme valued at more than $200 billion.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

PC News
CDV Announces Sudden Stike Add-on.
CDV Software Entertainment AG will release a Sudden Strike add-on beginning of 2001. The add-on will surpass any previous expectations, as it will contain at least 4 single missions, 10 multiplayer missions including several new types of multiplayer, a Map and Mission Editor, GameSpy Support, Summer, Winter, Autumn and Desert scenarios and an improved, faster interface. In short: this add-on is marvellous and never-seen before!

The following gameplay features will enlighten any Sudden Strike fans´ heart: officers radiate experience, directional vision with binoculars, vehicles moving backwards, point-blank short-range fire mode for howitzers, parachute descent of arbitrary units, ammunition crates that can be transported by trucks and ammunition that can directly be retrieved from the crates without the ammunition truck, plus more realistic unit behaviour and improved pathfinding. You need more? Here you go: more than 30 new units, such as Br-5 mortar, ISU-152, Medics, Flak-88, Hummel, Hetzer, Sd.Kfz.303, Tetrarch, Bazooka-men, M-18 Hellcat, Mack 6x6. Visit: Sudden Strike

Shrapnel Games to Publish Air Command 3.0.
Shrapnel Games announced a partnership with Joe's Games to publish the developer's newest simulation of Air Traffic Control, Air Command 3.0. The game puts the player in the seat of an Air Traffic Controller at a major international airport. Currently in beta, Air Command 3.0 is expected to go Gold on March 30, 2001. A demo is available at: Shrapnel Games

Military News

This painting by Roderick Lees was commissioned by Maj. Blaise Martinick, a radar navigator on Operation Secret Squirrel. It depicts the seven B-52Gs on their flight Jan. 16, 1991. At the bottom are nose-art paintings from six of the B-52s, and the Strategic Air Command shield, the 2nd Bomb Wing shield and a "Magnificent 7" emblem.

Classified Mission Kicked Off Gulf War.
The deadline had passed. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had until Jan. 15, 1991, to pull his troops out of Kuwait, but he didn't. The United Nations prepared to respond with a fury. At Barksdale Air Force Base, 57 members of the 596th Bomb Squadron readied for the first front: Operation Secret Squirrel. As a heavy rain fell from a dark Louisiana sky, seven B-52Gs thundered into the air. Desert Storm had begun. The crews flew their missile-laden B-52s to Southwest Asia and back: 14,000 miles in 35 hours. As the longest combat sortie in history, Secret Squirrel re-defined the reach of U.S. air power. But the mission remained classified for an entire year. On its 10th anniversary, some members of that mission remember what it was like.

Originally known as Operation Senior Surprise, plans for the secret mission began almost immediately after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. With only a small number of U.S. forces in the region, military leaders needed another option. The new AGM-86C conventional air-launched cruise missile, or CALCM, gave them one. Developed in complete secrecy, the new missile had never been combat-tested, and the Air Force wanted it to be a complete surprise if ever used. Barksdale held more than three dozen CALCMs in storage and received the order to get ready. "There were just two of us briefed into the program initially," said Maj. Blaise Martinick, now with the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron here, who was a radar navigator on the mission. "Then we eventually briefed in a pilot to help us ... determine how much air refueling we would need to get over there, do a mission and get back." With the groundwork laid, seven full aircrews entered into the mission. "When we were first called in, we were all under the impression that we were going to be launched fairly quickly," said Maj. Todd Mathes, an electronic warfare officer on the mission who now works in 8th Air Force headquarters here. "Then it turned out one week went into two weeks, then two weeks went into months. So we started to think it was never going to happen." "Week after week we would study and brief the wing commander on a regular basis," said Maj. Marcus Myers of the 96th Bomb Squadron, an aircraft commander on the mission. "But I don't think any of us really thought we were going to do it."

In December things started to heat up once again, and the crews realized their time was coming. At 3 a.m. Jan. 16, the call rang throughout the alert facility: "All Sierra crews report to the vault." "As we all started filtering in with our flight suits half zipped and so on," said Martinick, "there stood the 8th Air Force commander, the squadron commander and the wing commander, and we realized that this was it." After the flight briefing, the 8th Air Force commander told the crewmembers how important their mission was and compared them to the Doolittle Raiders of nearly 50 years before. "It really reminded me of something out of an old movie, like in World War II with the general saying, 'You know some of you guys aren't coming back,'" said Lt. Col. Steven Kirkpatrick of the 93rd Bomb Squadron here who was a pilot on the mission. "It definitely grabbed our attention." "He hammered home that this was the real deal," said Martinick. "We're going to go do what we've been trained to do." "There are always some guys who are caught unaware," said Mathes. "But in our profession you have to have a warrior mentality, and you need to be ready to be called upon to perform your duties." Three hours later the crews boarded seven B-52Gs loaded with CALCMs and headed for the other side of the world. "It was exciting, yet terrifying at the same time," said Kirkpatrick.

Over the Atlantic the B-52s headed toward their first air-refueling rendezvous in complete radio silence. But the KC-135 crew still communicated a special message. "Up in the boom pod window, they held up a sign that said, 'Good hunting,'" recalled Myers. "So even though they weren't sure what we were doing, they kind of had an idea." As they soared closer to their destination, the seriousness among the crews began to rise. "There were times when things were very calm," said Martinick. "But when we got into areas of potential threat, your sense of awareness obviously becomes a little more heightened." "The danger of the mission was getting through international air space and going through countries that may not want you there," said Kirkpatrick. As they moved above the Mediterranean, over the Red Sea and finally to the vast Arabian Desert, the crews hoped that they would not be spotted by other military forces. However, they did come across some inconclusive radar contacts. "The Soviet navy knew we were there because they were lighting us up (making radar contact) pretty good," said Mathes. "But we had to actually see a missile in the air before we could react." "All we could do was sit on our hands," added Martinick. "We stuck with our flight plan." Finally, it was time to launch.

"I don't think any of us really thought we were going to do it," said Myers. "We thought Saddam would pull out and it wouldn't happen, but he didn't." At that point the seven B-52s moved toward different areas of Iraq and launched 35 CALCMs in all. "We literally launched the first weapons of Desert Storm," said Kirkpatrick. "There was a moment of excitement in launching it," Martinick remembered. "But then there's also a moment of remorse, because what we're doing could and most probably will cause death. And that is something that everyone has to think of and has in their mind." It then was time to head home but their mission was far from over. Thanks to severe weather, the trip home would last even longer. "The anticipation was gone, and so was our tailwind," said Mathes. "So it was really longer physically and mentally." "The biggest thing was the refueling," said Kirkpatrick. "It was a real workout on the boom for 45 minutes to an hour of continuous refueling."

Once back at Barksdale, the B-52s with CALCMs still attached were pushed into hangars. The tired crews were debriefed and got some much-needed rest. But the crew members were unable to share their strong sense of accomplishment with anyone, in order to protect the secret of the AGM-86C. "It was tough to not talk about it," said Myers. "People knew we were doing something, but they didn't know we were doing a CALCM strike." "My wife wanted to know, 'Where have you been?'" said Kirkpatrick. "But I couldn't say anything." Exactly one year after their return to Barksdale, the classification was removed, and the crewmembers of Operation Secret Squirrel could finally tell their story. "I am proud to be associated with it," said Mathes. "It was something special and unique, and I was proud to do my part." "The guys who were involved with it still talk about it," said Kirkpatrick. "It's a common bond." "It was a mission that anyone who was ever involved with it will never forget," said Martinick. "To have an impact like that on the opening stages of a conflict or war is truly amazing."

Each participating crewmember was awarded the Air Medal for superb airmanship and demonstration of the Air Force's philosophy of Global Reach, Global Power. "Historically, this remains an important mission for the Air Force," said Tech Sgt. Shawn Bohannon, 2nd Bomb Wing historian. "This was the first time a unit from the continental United States took off, struck a target half way around the world and returned back to its origin. Operation Secret Squirrel was the ultimate demonstration of the flexible, expeditionary capability of American air power." (Courtesy of Airman 1st Class Ryan Hansen 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs)

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

PC News
AMD and Virtutech Announce "VirtuHammer".
AMD and Virtutech announce high-performance simulator to help further enable 64-bit software development for AMD's next-generation processors. AMD and Virtutech today announced the two companies are working together to further enable the development of software supporting AMD's next-generation Hammer family of processors. The two companies have jointly developed an innovative, high-performance tool, codenamed "VirtuHammer", that will allow software developers to write and test 64-bit programs in preparation for the planned commercial introduction of the next-generation AMD processors in the first half of 2002. For more info visit: AMD

MadOnion Promotes Name Calling., the PC Hardware and Benchmarking professionals, have launched a new contest. All you have to do is try to come up with what M.A.D.O.N.I.O.N. would stand for, if it were an abbreviation. The prizes up for grabs are either a new ASUS CUSL2-C Motherboard or a new ASUS AGP-V7100 GeForce2 MX PURE! For contest rules, and how to enter go to: GamersHQ at MadOnion

Military News
No Orders Issued to Kill No Gun Ri Refugees, Report Says.
By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2001 -- American troops killed an unknown number of refugees near the Korean village of No Gun Ri in the early weeks of the Korean War, but no orders were found directing such attacks, DoD officials announced Jan. 11. Senior Pentagon officials announced findings from a comprehensive, 15-month-long, U.S.-Republic of Korea investigation at a Pentagon press briefing. The U.S.-ROK Statement of Mutual Understanding points out that, “All the veterans interviewed by the U.S. Army who fired at refugees stated that they did not receive any order to fire. Some other veterans, however, stated that they believed that such an order must have been given.

“While a comprehensive search of records and these veterans’ interviews did not disclose any evidence of the issuance of such an order, some other veterans, who themselves did not fire at refugees, assumed that there must have been an order to fire on refugees because they observed small arms, machine guns, mortar and artillery fire at refugees.” Defense Secretary William S. Cohen read from a prepared statement at the briefing. “The passage of 50 years has reduced the possibility that all of the facts can be known about the tragic incident that took place in the vicinity of No Gun Ri in South Korea,” he read. “We have determined, however, that U.S. soldiers killed or injured an unconfirmed number of Korean refugees in the last week of July 1950 during a withdrawal under pressure in the vicinity of No Gun Ri.”

The United States will erect a memorial in the vicinity of No Gun Ri dedicated to the innocent Korean civilians who were killed, and it will start a scholarship fund for South Korean youths, Cohen noted. Answering accusations that U.S. planes strafed refugees at No Gun Ri in July 1950, the statement of understanding noted that research of official U.S. Air Force records and pilot interviews taken do not reflect a July 26 mission in the vicinity of No Gun Ri. However, the report noted, an air strike occurred July 27 in the vicinity of the village, so reviewers could not rule out the possibility of a July 26 strike. Korean officials reported that an unverified total of 248 civilians were killed at No Gun Ri, according to the statement of understanding.

Earlier in the day the White House released a statement by President Clinton. “On behalf of the United States of America, I deeply regret that Korean civilians lost their lives at No Gun Ri in late July 1950. The intensive, year- long investigation into this incident has served as a painful reminder of the tragedies of war and the scars they leave behind on people and on nations,” Clinton said in the statement. According to the statement of understanding, U.S. soldiers at No Gun Ri around July 25-26, 1950, were new to combat and concerned about the real possibility of North Korean infiltrators posing as refugees. Elements of the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment were retreating through the No Gun Ri area during that time.

“In the early period of the conflict, many of the U.S. soldiers deployed to Korea were young, undertrained, underequipped and new to combat. Units operating in the vicinity of No Gun Ri were under the command and control of leaders with limited proven experience in combat. They were unprepared for the weapons and tactics of the North Korea forces that they would face and the speed of the North Korean advance,” the statement of understanding said. On Sept. 30, 1999, Cohen directed the Army, in concert with a seven-member, DoD-appointed panel that included Korean War veterans, to conduct a full investigation of No Gun Ri. A Pulitzer-Prize-winning Associated Press article published in 1999 reported that U.S. ground and air forces allegedly killed hundreds of refugees around and under a railroad bridge near a Korean village called Nukuen-Ri, often referred to as No Gun Ri.

Internet News
  • If they want it, let 'em pay.
    Web film site is going to offer customers a subscription service to its original 1,500 short- and somewhat-longer-form films. CEO Howard Rosenberg said his company currently gets some revenue from advertising and syndication, but that won't pay the bills, let alone make money. "Like in any business, if the customer doesn't value the product enough to pay something for it, there's no business," he told the Journal. Subscriptions, which will begin in February, will be at discounted rate of $4.99 for a month. The Internet film sector has not had a happy time of it -- lots of consolidations and failures -- as it struggles to find a business plan that works. Check it out at: ALWAYSi

  • AOL, Time Warner Merger Provides Choices for Subscribers.
    In approving the AOL, Time-Warner merger on Jan. 11, the Federal Communications Commission stated that the combined company must open its cable lines up to other video and Internet service providers. By opening up the network, subscribers will now be given a greater choice of service providers. In fact, Time-Warner has already reached a deal with EarthLink for the right to carry Internet signals on Time Warner's cable networks. Additionally, there are several new entrants in the market, such as Grande Communications, WIN, WOW, DirecTV and EchoStar that offer consumers virtually the same products. For a company to succeed, it must face the challenge of increasing profitability while providing the services needed to retain customers.

  • Monday, January 15, 2001

    Today is Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday in the U.S.A.

    PC News
    FLY! II Features Revealed.
    Game developer Terminal Reality and Gathering of Developers, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive released more details about FLY! II, the sequel to general aviation simulation FLY!. FLY! II will feature new and expanded 3D models, aircraft, elevation scenery and higher resolution images. Like its predecessor, FLY! II will feature a global flight area, worldwide digital elevation terrain model, photo-realistic terrain imagery, and high fidelity cockpit and avionics systems, detailed to each aircraft's original configuration. FLY! II will also include more points of interest, improved visual effects, dynamic environments and thorough tutorials, instructions and assistance for beginners.

    FLY! II’s features include:
    • New, exclusive aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12 Turboprop. The most advanced single-engine turboprop aircraft available in the world, with a cockpit resembling the complexity and feel of a jumbo jet.
    • Bell 407 helicopter, the single most popular helicopter in the world. This rotary prop aircraft will be a highlighted vehicle for many of the adventure missions in FLY! II
    • Updated versions of aircraft included in FLY!. -Cessna Skyhawk single-engine prop -Beechcraft KingAir twin-engine turboprop -Raytheon Hawker business jet -Twin-Engine prop -Single Engine turbo-prop
    • New scenery imagery. FLY! II expands FLY!’s existing flight scenery using the Terrascene 2 scenery system by Perspective Consulting and new global imagery by How in the World?. This allows users to navigate effectively in a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) environment.
    • Pre-configured single user adventures. These pre-configured flight adventures describe a goal and set flight parameters, then score users based on their performance and completion of the primary goal.
    • Downloadable community adventures and challenges. Terminal Reality will continually update its Web site to post downloadable challenge flights and adventures submitted by simmers or developed by Terminal Reality.
    • Extended multiplayer flight parties. Virtual pilots are lead into a world of flight where the simulation itself will develop an exciting set of emergency situations, weather conditions and flight patterns.
    • Dynamic vehicles. FLY! II will increase the realism of taxiing with the addition of airport vehicles such as fuel trucks, emergency vehicles, and baggage handlers.
    • Compression technologies. This allows users to utilize photo compression technologies for maps and scenery imagery.
    • Failures and damage. FLY! II will feature basic system failures as well as limited structural damage.
    • Enhanced visuals and weather effects and aircraft systems.
    FLY! II lands in stores nationwide for the PC and Macintosh this spring.

    Military News
    Boeing Completes JSF X-32B Engine Accelerated Mission Tests.
    Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce today completed accelerated mission tests of the Joint Strike Fighter X-32B qualification engine at Pratt & Whitney's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. The government-monitored durability evaluation will lead to certification of the propulsion system for short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) flight. The Boeing X-32B aircraft, which will demonstrate the company's direct-lift approach to the STOVL requirements for the U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, is expected to make its first flight during the first quarter.

    "During the tests, the team took the Pratt & Whitney engine and its Rolls-Royce STOVL components on the test stand through two full profiles of what the X-32B will do in flight test," said Frank Statkus, Boeing vice president and JSF general manager. "All propulsion-system components operated as predicted; this is another major step in reducing risk as we move closer to first flight of the X-32B." The qualification engine components now will be taken apart and inspected prior to the government's certification for flight. Last week in Palmdale, Calif., Boeing successfully completed low- and medium-speed taxi tests with its X-32B concept demonstrator.

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