Month: June 2020

Missile Defense Chief Looks to Handle Changing Threat


Missile defense has gone from pie-in-the-sky Star Wars technology in the 1980s to a proven military capability in the 21st century, and the Missile Defense Agency is looking to extend those capabilities against new threats.

Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, the agency’s director, told the Hypersonic Weapons Systems webinar in London the agency is looking to adapt current technologies against the hypersonic threat while looking toward new capabilities.

“The sad reality is that many of these threats, regardless of how they’re launched and what their profiles are, really do look like hypersonic threats,” he said.

Ballistic missiles as they approach impact are hypersonic, as are many maneuverable cruise missiles. “So if you’re the sailor on the deck of a ship, they all look the same to you,” Hill said. “If you’re a soldier manning a land-based battery, it’s going to be maneuvering and coming in very quickly at hypersonic speeds. If you’re one of the airmen that’s manning one of the many sensors that are out there, it’s going to look fast, and it’s going to be moving quickly.”

So, the hypersonic threat already exists. The Missile Defense Agency now must adapt as the threat morphs, Hill said. Right now, the hypersonic threat is almost ancillary to the capabilities of ballistic and cruise missiles, he added, but as competitors test and build, that threat will become more sophisticated. 

“We’re defending the United States, our deployed forces, our allies and friends from missile attacks in all phases of flight,” Hill said. It is a simple mission statement, but not so simple to execute.

The key to the program is the sensor array. “We leverage all sensors, and many, many countries are in the business of fusing data so that you have a complete track picture,” the admiral said. “We call it from … birth-to-death tracking and that is absolutely required. You don’t want to lose track of the threats, particularly if [they are] unpredictable and maneuverable.”

The agency will leverage space sensors, which is typically how it sees initial launches. “We will fly through ground-based sensors,” he said. “We have ships with the sensing capability deployed globally. Another great way that we partner with our allies that sensor architecture is critically important, particularly as the threats become more and more maneuverable over time.”

The existing sensing architecture and battle management system and even existing weapons can counter this very formidable threat, but more needs to be done, he said.

So, the bottom line is that just because a weapon is hypersonic doesn’t mean it can’t be intercepted. “Like all good engineering organizations, we’re going to look for where the vulnerabilities are in a hypersonic flight, whether it’s a glide vehicle or cruise missile,” Hill said.

The glide phase looks to be the most promising place, because it is earlier in a missile’s trajectory, Hill said. “We are now investigating what it would take to move into that first part of the glide phase,” he added. 

This means evolving the terminal system, “and then looking at how we can change the propulsion as required — change the front end to get to the glider phase,” Hill said. “It is a tough regime to operate in. But you have to remember that the hypersonic threat is not invincible — in that phase, it’s bleeding off energy, it may be doing a roll, and may be starting its maneuver. But it’s a great place to engage.”

In addition, the admiral said, the agency is looking to build sensing from space.

This is not the 21st century version of pie-in-the-sky. The Missile Defense Agency is working closely with the services and combatant commands and having discussions with international partners on defending against this threat, Hill said.

Blogs to Follow:

Defense.gov (June 2020) Missile Defense Chief Looks to Handle Changing Threat

10,800 Assault Weapons Parts Seized by CBP in Louisville


At the Express Consignment Operations hubs in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a shipment from China that contained over 10,000 Assault Weapons parts being smuggled into the country. 

The shipment was seized on May 22. Officers inspected the item, which was arriving from Shenzhen, China, destined for a residence in Melbourne, Florida. The parcel was manifested as containing 100 Steel Pin Samples.

This is a common practice of smugglers manifesting the contraband as a harmless or a legitimate commodity in hopes of eluding further examination.

“The importing of any type of munitions is regulated by the ATF,” said Thomas Mahn, Port Director, Louisville.  “This smuggler was knowingly trying to avoid detection. However, our officers remain vigilant, ensuring our community is safe.”  

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates and restricts firearms and ammunition. Importation of weapons or ammunition must be made by a licensed importer, dealer or manufacturer.

Officers referred the shipment to the CBP Center of Excellence and Expertise, Machinery team who appraised the shipment with a domestic value of $129,600.

CBP’s border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. 

CBP officers use a variety of techniques to intercept narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products, and to assure that global tourism remains safe and strong. 

Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders.

Blogs to Follow:

CBP.gov (June 2020) 10,800 Assault Weapons Parts Seized by CBP in Louisville

Radicals in Northern India Threaten to Kill Christian Family


According to Morning Star News, a 12-year-old Christian boy and his brother in Uttar Pradesh received a death threat at late hours of the night on June 18 from a group of radical Hindu nationalists led by his uncle. The threats started after the boys’ family refused to renounce their Christian faith.

It was past 11’o clock at night when we heard them banging on the door and shouting,” the Christian boy told Morning Star News. “Five men, along with my uncle, were standing at the door, issuing threats that they would murder my brother and me.

The boys’ father, Anil James, works 116 miles away in Delhi. The COVID-19 lock-down has kept him from returning home, leaving the family vulnerable to attack. The boys’ terrified mother, Molly James, told her two sons to run to the police station while she locked the doors and would catch up with them later.

My brother and sister have portrayed me as a bad woman in this Hindu neighborhood for accepting Christianity,” Molly James told Morning Star News. “They have been trying to expel my family from the area for the past three years.”

After Molly and her sons arrived at the police station, officers made sure they returned to their home safely.

The next day, police went to investigate the issue. Molly’s brother and sister told the police that the death threats were actually a property dispute in an attempt to avoid police involvement. Later that day, Molly’s brother threatened her again, saying he would kill her and her two children.

Prior to the June 18 incident, Molly’s siblings demanded she resume Hindu rituals and stop worshiping Christ to continue living in her home. They also have objected to her oldest son rehearsing Christian worship music on his guitar.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started spreading, he is doing it all the more to scare us,” Molly told Morning Star News of her brother. “He also tells the neighbors and his friends that we belong to the lower class and that Christianity is the religion of lower castes and classes. The neighbors also look down on my children, calling them lower class, so that it affects them mentally. They had been very outspoken about their faith at school and among their friends. I’m afraid that witnessing this amount of violence and aggression, and their fear, would affect them.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (June 2020) Radicals in Northern India Threaten to Kill Christian Family

Chinese Citizen Convicted of Economic Espionage, Theft of Trade Secrets, and Conspiracy


Defendant Stole from U.S. Companies to Benefit Instrumentality of the Chinese Government

Hao Zhang, 41, of China, was found guilty of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and conspiring to commit both offenses on Friday, announced the Department of Justice.  The ruling was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge, following a four-day bench trial.

Evidence submitted during the course of the trial demonstrated that from 2010 to 2015, Zhang conspired to and did steal trade secrets from two companies: Avago, a designer, developer, and global supplier of a broad range of analog, digital, mixed signal and optoelectronics components and subsystems with a focus in semiconductor design and processing, headquartered in San Jose, California, and Singapore; and Skyworks, an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts.  Judge Davila found that Zhang intended to steal the trade secrets for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China

“The defendant plotted with Tianjin University to take trade secrets from two U.S. companies, including his own employer, to China for the benefit of the Chinese Government,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Today’s guilty verdict on all counts is an important step in holding accountable an individual who robbed his U.S. employer of trade secrets and sought to replicate the company’s technology and replace its market share.  The Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting these cases should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone considering doing the same.”        

“A free nation is naturally innovative.  No nation is more innovative than the United States.  Countries without freedom cannot match our innovation, and inevitably must resort to theft.  Theft is not innovation.  By combatting theft, we protect innovation and freedom,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California.

“Economic Espionage is a pervasive threat throughout the United States, particularly to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley which is the center of innovation and technology,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  “While this case exemplifies how easily a few motivated employees can conspire to misappropriate intellectual property for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China, Zhang’s conviction should serve as a warning to our adversaries that the FBI and our partners remain committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting these crimes.”

According evidence presented during the bench trial, Zhang stole trade secrets relating the performance of wireless devices.  Specifically, Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) and Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW) filters are used in wireless devices to eliminate interference and improve other aspects of device performance.  Film Bulk Acoustic Resonators (FBAR) are one type of BAW filter. 

The most common and most profitable application of FBAR technology is as a radio frequency (RF) filter for mobile phones and other wireless devices.  Technological advances in FBARs have played a substantial role in creating smaller, more efficient wireless devices for both consumer and military applications.  Avago, one of the victims of Zhang’s theft, was the leading company in the United States manufacturing and selling FBARs.  Zhang’s other victim, Skyworks, was developing its own BAW technology.

Evidence at trial further showed that in October 2006, Zhang and his co-conspirators started a business in China to compete with Avago and Skyworks.  One of Zhang’s co-conspirators, Wei Pang, started working at Avago at the same time.  Zhang and Pang illicitly shared trade secrets with each other and with co-conspirators in China while they worked for the U.S. companies.  

Zhang and Pang then connected their venture to Tianjin University (TJU) in China, an instrumentality of the Chinese government.  By 2009, they left their work in the United States to relocate to China, following a plan laid out by TJU officials to form another company, Novana, in the Cayman Islands.  Along the way, Zhang obtained patents in his own name using trade secret information he knew was stolen from Avago.  Zhang also worked with stolen trade secrets in a lab he founded at TJU while developing his new FBAR business. The FBAR processes that Zhang and his co-conspirators stole took Avago over twenty years of research and development to build.  Additional evidence during the bench trial demonstrated that Zhang engaged in economic espionage to help TJU and Zhang’s Chinese company unfairly compete in the multi-billion dollar global market for cell phone RF filters. 

Zhang was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on April 1, 2015.

Zhang is currently released on a $500,000 secured bond. 

Zhang’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31, 2020, before Judge Davila in San San Jose.  The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1831 is 15 years in custody and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate.  The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832 is 10 years in custody and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Michelle J. Kane and Susan Knight are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rebecca Shelton, Susan Kreider, and Laurie Worthen.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Blogs to Follow:

Justice.gov (June 2020) Chinese Citizen Convicted of Economic Espionage, Theft of Trade Secrets, and Conspiracy

Multiple Suspects wanted for Vandalization of Federal Property


The FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force, in conjunction with the United States Park Police, is interested in identifying several individuals who are responsible for vandalizing federal property at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

On June 22, 2020, at approximately 7:15 p.m., a group of individuals vandalized the statue of President Andrew Jackson at Lafayette Square, located at Pennsylvania Ave NW and 16th Street NW.

The FBI and the United States Park Police are attempting to identify the individuals responsible for the violation of Destruction of Government Property.

Damage or attempted damage exceeding $1,000 to federal property is a felony offense.

If you have any information concerning these individuals or this incident, please contact the FBI’s Washington Field Office at (202) 278-2000.

You may also contact your local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or you can submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Blogs to Follow:

FBI.gov (June 2020) VANDALIZATION OF FEDERAL PROPERTY – WASHINGTON, D.C.