The B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber looks like one of Batman's rides. In service since the mid-1990s, the B2's distinctive flying wing shape, even after decades in service, still looks like the future – and an expensive future, at that. Each B2 costs $2.1 billion. As such, only 21 of the stealthy aircraft were ever made.
Congress, even in the heyday of "what about potential war with Russia," refused to pay for any more. It's an aircraft with a mystique that comes both from its exotic design and how little information we have on the pilots who fly it, and their experience of flying one of them.
Recently, journalist William Langewiesche was given the opportunity to become familiar with the bomber and those that pilot it. More intriguingly, given that the bomber scarcely has space in its cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot, Langewiesche, by the sound of things, was allowed to join a B2 flight crew on a mission that would take them all the way from the United States to a bombing run on an ISIS camp in Libya.
From The Atlantic:
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Night came quickly after a short day. Once they passed into the Mediterranean, the pilots used their radar to find three tankers that had come from Germany to meet them for their second refueling, and to map some thunderstorms that were active in the area at the time. Because of its composite structure, the B-2 is particularly vulnerable to static discharges and lightning strikes, and is required to stay 40 miles away from thunderstorms—twice as far as other airplanes.
The MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle is a scary piece of hardware, capable of unleashing hell on an unsuspecting target from miles away, without ever being seen. It’s the sort of hardware that you don’t want falling into the wrong hands—even the details of how it operates are best kept squirreled away.
So, of course, a group of hackers got their hands on the Reaper’s operating manual with the intention of selling it online to anyone that wants it for $150 a pop. As with most security flaws, the exploit they used was all too human: they accessed the document through an Air Force Captain’s under protected home network:
From Task & Purpose:
Andrei Barysevich at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, who first spotted the document on June 1, wrote an analysis of the hacker group’s methods, which were fairly unsophisticated. The group used the Internet of Things search engine Shodan to find open, unsecured networks, before connecting and pilfering them of documents.
The drone manual came from a captain at the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, the analysis said.
But that’s not all! As an added bonus, the hackers also managed to snag a manual for ground troops that details how to lessen the threats posed by improvised explosive devices. Where the chances of someone being able to get their hands on a Reaper Drone to pair with a pilfered manual are pretty slim, the information given to grunts on how to keep from getting blown up by IEDs could easily be put to use by an aggressor: if you know what soldiers are looking for when they're sniffing out a threat, then you understand what to change up in order to potentially provide your attacks with a higher rate of success. Read the rest