Pentagon Leaks: RQ-170 Flights, Ukrainian War Briefings And Other Interesting Details

Pentagon Leaks


Pentagon Leaks
Composite art work of the Pentagon leaks, with the second of Teixeira’s arrest within the field. (Unique images: Getty Photographs, Reuters and CNN, edited by The Aviationist)

Because the arrested guardsman awaits trial, let’s speak about what occurred, the data he leaked and the way the Division of Protection is reacting to the ‘Pentagon Leaks’.

As you already know by now, leaked prime secret paperwork went viral on the net this month, after a younger airman has posted them on-line for the reason that starting of the 12 months. The paperwork, which embrace a number of intelligence briefings about the Ukraine-Russia war, instantly prompted an investigation after the alarm was raised and the Pentagon went in emergency mode.

On Apr. 13, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Airman First Class Jack Teixeira, a cyber-security specialist within the Massachusetts Air Nationwide Guard, as a part of the investigation into unauthorized elimination, retention and transmission of categorised nationwide protection info. The airman had safety clearance for one of many highest ranges of classification, “prime secret/delicate compartmented info” (TS/SCI), and has now been charged below the Espionage Act.

Teixeira began leaking categorised paperwork on Discord, a preferred gaming and messaging platform, as early as January 2023, first as textual content and later as images, fearing he could be found making transcriptions whereas at work. Paperwork have been reposted on varied Discord teams, before making their way to 4chan, Telegram and Twitter. The Washington Put up says over 300 paperwork might need been leaked.

The disclosure of those categorised paperwork represents “a really severe threat to nationwide safety and has the potential to gasoline disinformation,” mentioned a Pentagon spokesperson. “We’re persevering with to analyze how this occurred, in addition to the extent of the issue. Steps have been taken to additional analyze how the sort of info was distributed and to whom.”

Nevertheless, the leak might need been just the start of Teixeira plans. Actually, reviewing his social media exercise, prosecutors discovered that Teixeira mentioned in some posts he would “kill a (expletive) ton of people” if he had his method, as a result of it could be “culling the weak minded.” He additionally had entry to an “arsenal” of weapons and equipment – together with handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, an AK-style high-capacity weapon, a fuel masks, ammunition, tactical pouches, and a “silencer-style accent” – all of which he saved in his bed room.

The paperwork introduced to the court docket to maintain Teixeira in custody detailed a troubling history going back to high school, the place he was suspended after a classmate overheard him discussing Molotov cocktails and different weapons in addition to racial threats. Extra just lately, he used his authorities pc to analysis previous mass shootings and standoffs with federal brokers, with the search queries together with “Las Vegas capturing”, “Buffalo tops capturing” and “Uvalde”.

A federal decide delayed the choice on the place Teixeira ought to stay till trial, however remained skeptical of arguments made by Teixeira’s protection crew that he needs to be launched. His launch, in line with the Division of Justice, would current a grave menace to nationwide safety, as he should have entry to secret info, and he additionally stays a flight threat.

“There merely is not any situation or mixture of situations that may make sure the Defendant is not going to additional disclose further info nonetheless in his data or possession,” prosecutors wrote. “The injury the Defendant has already brought about to the U.S. nationwide safety is immense. The injury the Defendant remains to be able to inflicting is extraordinary.”

A Russian Ka-52 crashed in Ukraine. (Picture: Related Press)

In the mean time, the U.S. Air Force also took steps to control the damages, suspending the commander of Teixeira’s unit, the 102nd Intelligence Assist Squadron, and one other detachment commander accountable for the assist duties. The Division of the Air Pressure has additionally revoked their entry to categorised networks and data.

This case has already been referred to as probably the most severe U.S. safety breach since WikiLeaks in 2010. However what can we learn about these paperwork? A big a part of these paperwork are detailed intelligence briefings concerning the Russia-Ukraine struggle, however there are additionally paperwork with intelligence about China and Iran, in addition to eavesdropping information about allies.

Among the leaked paperwork seem like doctored, however the Pentagon has not verified any of the data contained in them, describing the paperwork as nonetheless categorised. “Simply because categorised info could also be posted on-line or elsewhere doesn’t imply it has been declassified by a classification authority,” mentioned Pentagon press secretary Brigadier Common Pat Ryder. “We’re simply not going to debate or affirm categorised info because of the potential affect on nationwide safety.”

A variety of day by day intelligence briefings concerning the struggle element losses and positions of the items in fight, exposing the strategies used for intelligence gathering. One of many paperwork mentions the assessments come from a mix of images, OPIR (Overhead Persistent InfraRed), SIGINT (SIGnal INTelligence) and Ukrainian and different overseas sources, the latter served up by the U.S. European Command Ukraine Coordination Cell.

Whereas there are nonetheless limitations to the usefulness of a few of the information within the paperwork, the detailed description of the intelligence gathering strategies, in addition to the presence of images and OPIR maps, would possibly expose the capabilities of the sensors and tools used. This, in flip, may even result in the implementation of countermeasures in an effort to restrict the effectiveness of those intelligence gathering strategies.

Anyway, again to the paperwork, the day by day briefings present snapshots from the principle battlefields, detailing the numbers and composition of defending and attacking forces. The paperwork present that the Russian forces, whereas in some areas they largely outnumber the Ukrainian forces (as much as a 7 to 1 issue), are advancing very slowly, at a tempo of lower than 3 km a month. As a matter of reality, the intelligence assesses that Russia settled into an attrition marketing campaign, with the Ukrainian protection facing daily artillery fires, airstrikes, and repeated multi-pronged, small-unit floor assaults.

One other day by day briefing particulars the losses of each international locations, with as much as 43,000 Russians and 17,500 Ukrainians killed in motion. Including the wounded, these numbers rise to 223,000 and 131,000, respectively. Tools sensible, Russia misplaced about 75% of its deployed artillery programs, whereas Ukraine misplaced about 10% of them.

Losses are additionally described for the aviation elements of each international locations. One of many paperwork estimated that Russia has lost 72 aircraft and 82 helicopters, whereas Ukraine has misplaced 60 plane and 32 helicopters. Whereas the numbers are decrease for Ukraine, Ukrainian losses are greater if we take into account them relative to their stock.

An RQ-170 Sentinel photographed over the Californian desert in 2021. (Picture: @point_mugu_skies)

Earlier than the struggle began, Russia had greater than 1,500 plane and 1,500 helicopters, so their losses would quantity to only 4% of the plane and 5% of the helicopter fleets. On the opposite aspect, Ukraine had, earlier than the struggle, about 110 plane and 110 helicopters, so their losses are more significant, amounting to 53% of the plane and 28% of the helicopters.

Among the day by day briefings additionally detailed sabotage operations. Amongst these there may be the assault in opposition to a Russian Beriev A-50U Mainstay airborne early warning & management plane at Machulishchy Airbase, Belarus. The plane was broken in a drone attack at the base near Minsk, which was claimed by the Belarusian partisan group, BYPOL.

The identical paperwork additionally detailed allied Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance efforts over Poland, Romania and the Black Sea, with the day by day flights of the USAF and RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint SIGINT plane, the USAF E-8 JSTARS, the US Military ARTEMIS jet, U-2s and MQ-9s. These flights complement the day by day 110 missions of NATO fighter jets defending the Japanese flank.

One other file provides additional particulars concerning the ISR missions, with an surprising “visitor”. The doc, in reality, says the US and NATO flown 16 manned and 73 unmanned reconnaissance flights over the Black Sea in a 150-day timeframe since September, including nine flights of the RQ-170 Sentinel. The presence of the stealthy UAV in Europe has by no means been acknowledged, because the plane remains to be surrounded by secrecy 15 years after its existence was confirmed by officers.

The position of the Sentinel just isn’t identified, nonetheless its low observability and excessive altitude make it excellent for missions nearer to the contested airspace over Crimea and Ukraine. For the reason that UAV has a supposed autonomy of 5-6 hours, it’s potential that its missions have been launched from one of many US UAV bases in Europe, like those in Poland, Romania, Greece and presumably Turkey.

The identical doc additionally mentions for the primary time using French Mirage 2000D fighters for reconnaissance missions within the space, presumably with using the ASTAC SIGINT pod, which have been flown below nationwide authority. A map included within the briefing confirmed pattern routes for the RQ-4 (each USAF and NATO), Mirage 2000, RC-135, however not those of the MQ-9 and RQ-170.

An attention-grabbing piece of information is the presence of a “SECDEF [Secretary of Defense] directed standoff” distance which separates the ISR routes from Crimea. It’s potential that this distance is a consequence of the near-shoot down of a RAF RC-135 in September 2022. One of many paperwork additional detailed this episode, disclosing for the primary time that the Rivet Joint was indeed about to be shot down if the missile hadn’t malfunctioned after a Su-27 pilot reportedly misinterpreted a radio message.

From September to February, the briefing studies that Russia reacted to 5 reconnaissance missions, however with out penalties. Nevertheless, in March Russia reacted to a different ISR flight, resulting in the loss of a MQ-9 Reaper after a Su-27 collided with it throughout an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept concentrating on the drone because it was working in worldwide airspace.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally learning to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT methods utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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