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Type 903A in Guangzhou Shipyard International

The fifth Type 903A for the PLAN was launched in Guangzhou on May 31, 2014. It still needs to be fitted out before starting sea trials later this year.

On May 31st, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) fifth Fuchi class Type 903A replenishment ship was launched at the Guangzhou International Shipyard in Guangzhou, China. With a 23,000 ton displacement capable of carrying 11,000 tons of supplies, the Type 903 class is China’s most modern and largest indigenous replenishment oiler ship*, which resupplies warships at sea with fuel and other supplies. This 903A ship still needs to be fitted out with refueling and cross ship transfer conveyer belts. The Fuchi class’s ability to transfer fuel and dry supplies to warships on the high seas in Underway Replenishment (UNREP) missions means that PLAN warships can remain on patrol instead of returning to port for fuel and food.

USNS Big Horn

The USNS Big Horn is one of the U.S. Navy’s large Henry J. Kaiser class fleet oilers, which can carry up to 25,000 tons of fuel to resupply U.S. destroyers, cruisers and amphibious assault ships. Fleet oilers, also called replenishment ships, are a necessity for any Navy that intends to conduct expeditionary operations and cannot always rely upon friendly ports for resupply.

Replenishment ships are a must have for any modern navy that wishes to undertake expeditionary and blue water control missions. The U.S. Navy (USN)’s current replenishment ship (the USN calls them oilers) is the 40,000 ton Henry J. Kaiser class, of which the USN has 15 ships, each capable of carrying up to 25,000 tons of fuel. The Royal Navy has eleven ships in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary: the tanker Fort Victoria displaces 31,000 tons and can carry about 15,000 tons of fuel. The French Navy’s four Durance class replenishment ships can carry about 10,000 tons of fuel, at a full displacement of 17,000 tons.

Chaohu Refuels Warship

Chaohu, the fourth Type 903(A) launched in 2013, refuels a PLAN warship here during its acceptance trials. The Type 903A subclass has increased fuel capacity at over 10,000 tons, and can simultaneously refuel two warships.

The Type 903A, an improvement of the Type 903, can carry over 10,000 tons of fuel to simultaneously refuel two other ships. The Alongside Connected (ASC) method of replenishment that the PLAN uses requires a high level of naval skill to maintain coordination: warships must sail alongside the replenishment ship at 12-16 knots, with only 30 yards of distance. The replenishment ship then launches cables to the receiving ships, those cables help guide and connect fuel lines and zip lines that sling across dry cargo like rations and ammunition. The Type 903A also carries two Z8 helicopters to airlift larger sized cargo like machinery spare parts.

Weishanhu Refuels Jianggang Shan

During the March 2014 search and rescue operations in the South China Sea for MH 370, the Type 903 Weishanhu replenishment ship refuels the Type 071 Jianggang Shan landing platform dock.

The Fuchi class ships have been in high demand for PLAN operations. The Weishanhu and Qiandaohu have already been deployed to the Gulf of Aden to support Chinese destroyers and frigates conducting anti-piracy patrols; the_ Qiandaohu_ also resupplied PLAN ships searching for Flight MH370 this March in the South China Sea. The Qiandaohu will also be present at RIMPAC 2014 to support the PLAN warships at the naval exercise.

* The 35,000 ton Type 908 Fusu class replenishment ship is the PLAN’s largest oiler, but is based off of a Soviet hull

Special Thanks to Josh Brine for corrections on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary

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China’s Sky Wing Uav Gets New Engines

The WZ-9 Sky Wing UAV,built by Guizhouz Aviation Industry Corporation, has been fitted with a pair of stealthy and more powerful engines. The Sky Wing was first seen in 2003, when it flew with a WS-11 turbofan, which has a thrust of 1.7 tons. It has some stealth festures, such as a V-shaped pelican tail and backwards swept wings. In its original configuration, it could carry about 80 kilograms of sensors such as electro-optical cameras and radars, on a 1.7 ton airframe. Compared to other Chinese high altitude reconnaissance drones like the BZK-005, the Sky Wing did not enter into widespread service. However, Chengdu Aircraft Corporation has undertaken further testing of the drone.

Sky Wing Prototype

The first Sky Wing, which used a single WS-11 turbofan engine (a Chinese license copy of a Russian engine) made its first flight in the mid 2000s. Less stealthy than the current Sky Wing, the Guizhou built drone apparently did not enter into widespread service, as similar long endurance but propeller powered drones were probably cheaper during that time.

But this could all be changing. In December 2014, photos showed a redesigned Sky Wing being tested on a runway. While not as stealthy as the X-47B or Lijian stealth drones, the redesigned Sky Wing has a new engine intake, and more importantly, stealthy engine nozzles. These new nozzles are similar to the F-22’s in design purpose; their angular surfaces are less detectable than conventional circular nozzles, and can hold equipment to reduce the infrared signature of hot engine exhaust. The triangular engine nozzle is a first for Chinese aviation; not even the J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters have been fitted with stealth nozzles to date.

Sky WIng Engines

The new Sky Wing has two smaller turbofan engines, as opposed to a larger single engine. Having two smaller modern engines would provide better fuel economy, as well as making it easier to fit the engine nozzles with this triangular shroud, which will reduce both radar and infrared signatures.

The smaller new engines are likely to be very small, two spool turbofan engines, with are commonly used on small and medium business jets. By comparing the people standing around the Sky Wing, the engines’ diameters appear to be about between 14-20 inches, which suggests that each engine would probably have about 800-1000 kg of thrust. A combined engine output of 1.6 tons to 2.0 tons would give this stealthier Sky Wing comparable power to the 1.8 ton thrust of the General Atomic Avenger (a jet powered version of the deadly Reaper). With a stealthier airframe and more powerful engines, the new Sky Wing would be more survivable and carry more weapons than the Wing Loong, China’s current attack drone, as well as the earlier model US MQ-1 Predator and possibly even the MQ-9 Reaper.

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Image Compression Techniques That Will Help You Rank

Web image compression may have a dramatic effect on search engine results. In April 2010, Google announced that site speed would be a major ranking factor going forward. Consequently, reducing picture size has become the de facto standard for increasing load times. But, compared to importance and credibility, speed is still a minor factor.

Images used on websites should always be compressed before being uploaded. Because of this, you’ll lose weight just by yourself. Enough to keep the website’s credibility and usefulness intact. The two have remained separate thanks to lossy and lossless picture compression methods.

How do you Define Image Compression?

When talking about data compression methods, picture compression is the most common and widely used method for digital images. This method is used to lessen the burden of picture transmission and storage.

Image compression, as opposed to more general data compression approaches, yields aesthetically attractive and statistically sound pictures. Using this method, a picture may be shrunk down to a manageable size without suffering any discernible loss in quality.

As image sizes are decreased, more pictures may be kept in the same amount of space. As a bonus, uploading and downloading pictures from the web takes far less time than a few years ago. Thus, you may get better pictures that take up less space, load more quickly, and boost your page rank.

Why Is It Necessary to Compress Images?

For websites, particularly mobile ones, photos must be lightweight or minimal in size. Having a quick download time is a top priority for mobile websites. Image compression is a practical method for this. Since compressed photos take up far less space, your website will load much more quickly.

Visuals are just as crucial as words when it comes to information. To put it simply, they are not an ornament. So, they need the same degree of caution as text.

Using relevant images helps to break up the text, making the page simpler to skim. This addition improves the entire user experience. Image compression may improve the user experience and boost your search engine optimization efforts.

Hence, instead of photos to make easy-to-read web pages, you should use images to increase your SEO ranking and provide a rich user experience. The only way to do this is to compress your photographs like you would compress text.

Methods of Picture Compression that Improve Search Engine Results

When compressing an image, how exactly does it happen? When compressing images, you may choose between two distinct methods: lossy and lossless.

Please take a moment to look at the two of them together.

Lossless Compression

To shrink an image’s file size while keeping its original quality is the goal of lossless compression. It’s analogous to a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) that lets you choose between multiple image files formats like JPEG and RAW.

JPEG files take up less space and won’t quickly fill up your hard disc, but you may lose some information in the converting process. If you are a professional user, you will benefit greatly from working with uncompressed RAW files.

Lossy Compression

When compressing images, the lossy compression method is another option since it eliminates data without changing the quality of the picture.

In order to become used to the lossy compression method, it might be helpful to practice by limiting the image’s color palette to the most often used hues and saturations. It’s a common approach for GIF images and is sometimes used for PNGs to reduce file sizes significantly.

With proper training and dithering, one may get results that are almost indistinguishable from the originals. Let’s compare lossless and lossy image compression algorithms so that you can have a better grasp on both types of compression.

Both lossless and lossy image compression methods are available.

Although many options exist for compressing images, lossy and lossless compression is the most popular. You may determine which will most likely meet your needs by comparing the two methods.

Lossless Compression

By “image compression,” we mean lowering a picture’s file size while maintaining or improving image quality. This is often done by stripping extraneous information from images like JPEGs and PNGs.

Common lossless picture formats include BMP, GIF, PNG, and RAW. Remember that JPEG is a lossy format; thus, selecting the highest quality setting may lead to some picture artifacts or loss of clarity. This issue may arise even when using Photoshop’s “save for web” option.

Lossless compression is preferred because it allows for the preservation of picture quality while yet reducing file size. Thus, lossless compression is ideal if you care about maintaining picture quality.

Lossy Compression

The term “image compression” is used to describe a method of reducing the size of a picture by eliminating details that weren’t originally there. A change in this direction cannot be undone. As a result, after you’ve converted the picture to lossy, you can no longer change the original file. More compression results in lower-quality images. Lossy picture formats include GIFs and JPEGs.


The website’s load time is crucial to improve the user experience and the site’s overall rating. It’s smart to put a lot of money into the content sector, but don’t forget about the photos; they also have a significant impact on your website’s SEO.

Now that you understand the value of image compression and the many methods at your disposal, you can work to improve your search engine rankings by compressing every picture on your website.

Hybrid Hot Water For A Hurricane House

So you’ve equipped your home with roof –top solar modules for energy production. Along comes a severe weather event which disables the power grid infrastructure and prevents your grid-tied solar inverter from doing its job. Now what? The SURE HOUSE team has a novel solution.

This intermittent “down time” problem provided the team with an opportunity – develop an integrated system to provide a domestic hot water solution that is both sustainable and resilient. Our innovative solution hybridizes a photovoltaic electric hot water system and an integrated heat pump hot water heater. Each system alone provides an efficient solution for generating hot water; however, it is the combination of these two systems that creates something unique for the homeowner.

In SURE HOUSE, the primary domestic hot water source is a standalone photovoltaic electric system. This system consists of series of dedicated solar modules that are integrated into the storm shutters located on the southern deck, and a control unit and heating element at the hot water tank. This PV electric hot water system represents a completely independent electrical system replacing a conventional fluid-based solar thermal system.

The SURE HOUSE PV Heat Pump Hot Water System is competitively priced when compared to a conventional solar thermal system. However, it offers a higher level of durability, a lower level of maintenance and provides an overall more resilient system for homeowners in coastal communities. Instead of traditional flat plate or evacuated tube solar collectors, susceptible to environmental damage, the PV electric system uses strings of durable and lightweight building-integrated PV. The harvested energy is then transferred in the form of direct current to the PV heater control unit and the heating element. In this system, the PV heater replaces the fluid loop modulating the available direct current through a resistance coil to deliver the maximum heating energy to the domestic hot water tank.

The greatest benefit of this system is that the flow of electricity and energy produced allows you to provide power to your home, even when disconnected from the grid. All you need is sunlight.

However, as fitting as the PV electric hot water system is for coastal communities, what makes the SURE HOUSE model even more desirable is the coupling with a high efficiency heat pump as a secondary source of energy. Generally, when you need to resort to a secondary heat source, the next line of defense is a traditional resistance coil that draws a large amount of electric energy to heat water. Instead, in the SURE HOUSE system, this backup device is a highly efficient heat pump triggered only when the sun cannot provide enough energy to keep the water temperature above a certain set point. The heat pump consists of a loop containing a fluid with a high thermal capacity, giving it the ability to store a great amount of energy. This energy is then easily transferred to the hot water tank due to the high surface area of the loop before it is sent back to the heat pump to be reheated. Even when in heat pump mode, our hot water system will still use 70% less energy than a standard electric hot water heater.

For the SURE HOUSE, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Our hybrid heating system offers homeowners peace of mind as they seek an energy solution that is both sustainable and resilient.

Raytheon Asks Retirees For Help Making New Stinger Anti

Stinger missiles are Cold War relics, and like many such relics, have seen action to lethal effect in Ukraine’s war against the Russian invasion. Nations like the United States and other NATO allies have given Ukraine their Stingers, putting the venerable human-portable surface-to-air missile to use against Soviet-designed aircraft, as it was originally designed to do. But the Stinger missile design is so old, and the stockpiles of the missiles being expended so quickly, that Stinger-maker Raytheon is asking for its retired missile makers to teach current workers how to restart production, Defense One reported in late June.

The US Army announced it was looking for a new Stinger missile replacement in March 2023, just a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The announcement came after the Biden administration had already announced the planned transfer of hundreds of Stinger missiles to the country. The Department of Defense’s June 27 factsheet on security assistance to Ukraine records over 1,700 Stinger anti-aircraft systems sent to the country. The missiles, which can be shoulder-fired or mounted on vehicles like Humvees, are being put to use, depleting what was already a finite supply of the weapons.

“Stinger’s been out of production for 20 years, and all of a sudden in the first 48 hours [of the war], it’s the star of the show and everybody wants more,” said Wes Kremer, the president of Raytheon parent company RTX, reports Defense One. Kremer’s remarks came at the Paris Air Show in June, an annual gathering and exhibition of aircraft and aircraft-related technologies. Kremer continued: “We were bringing back retired employees that are in their 70s … to teach our new employees how to actually build a Stinger. We’re pulling test equipment out of warehouses and blowing the spider webs off of them.”

The relevance of the Stinger to modern combat, combined with the manufacturing know-how being bound up in the minds of retirees, frames the machine as something of a useful relic. To understand the drive to restart Stinger production now, it is helpful to understand the circumstances under which the missile was first made.

Take the Redeye

The Army’s search for an anti-air missile can be traced back to 1951, after years of experimenting with anti-air guns found the weapons had insufficient range and accuracy to stop newer and faster planes. The HAWK missile, which has also seen action in Ukraine, is one of the early anti-air developments, but it is big, and needs vehicles to transport and launch it. Putting a missile in the hands of soldiers and marines on foot allows infantry to shoot down low-flying aircraft, including attack planes and increasingly helicopters. 

The first shoulder-fireable missile developed by the United States for this purpose was the Redeye, which used an infrared seeker to chase after the hottest object in the sky. It was first deployed for combat in 1967. The Soviet Union, working on a similar problem, developed the Strela shoulder-fired anti-air missile, which has seen use by both Ukraine and Russia.

The Redeye’s seeker meant it was easy to throw off targets with flares or even just the sun on a bright day, limiting the weapon’s usefulness, and it could not distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft, meaning anyone firing a Redeye risked the missile turning and hitting a nearby friendly plane. The original Redeye was also slow, making it a weapon that could hit a low-flying plane after an attack run, but not stop it before an initial pass. 

The Stinger’s evolution

What became the Stinger started its development as the Redeye II. The program was renamed in 1972 and the missile became operational in 1981. The Stinger included a system that let the missile attempt to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft, by matching a coded friendly radio signal from the allied planes. The guidance system of the Stinger is still infrared, but once it gets close to a target the missile can navigate to hit other parts of the aircraft. 

The Stinger received significant upgrades over the course of its production, ensuring the weapons would remain useful for the duration of their service life, but the weapon is fundamentally based on technology and components from decades ago. While all military production is to some extent bespoke products, they exist in an ecosystem of parts that match commercial capabilities available at the time. 

Raytheon bringing back retirees to teach the basics of Stinger production will likely help with a lost transfer of knowledge, until the Army’s desired Stinger replacement is designed, tested, and improved. In the meantime, another option for the Army would be to reach out to allies like Japan and the United Kingdom, and see if their respective Stinger updates (Japan’s Type 91) or replacements (the UK’s Starstreak) are available for production. 

Nintendo’s New ‘Pokémon Go’ Could Bring Augmented Reality To The Masses

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Pokemon Go screenshot

Time to put the cards and handheld games away and go outside. But not because you’ve been cooped up too long: because next year outside is where you’ll find Pokémon.

The Pokémon Company, in conjunction with Nintendo and Google spin-off Niantic, is working on a new game for Android and iPhone called Pokémon Go, which will allow people to use their phones to hunt for, duel, and trade Pokémon in real life — yes, out in fields and on busy streets and stuff. No precise release date or price for the game has been given, aside from sometime in 2024.

It’s not surprising that one of gaming’s biggest franchises is now at the forefront of world integrated massively multiplayer online (MMO) and augmented reality (AR) technology (the latter a blanket term referring to layering digital information over the physical world). By the nature of the game itself, Pokémon has been aching for tech like this, which could overlay the gaming experience symbiotically over the real world. The trailer looks pretty impressive — in fact we’d say Pokémon Go looks to accomplish more than Pixels did in feature length.

Which isn’t to say it can deliver entirely on that promise. Screen captures really do show a game that takes place on your smartphone’s screen alone, so while there may be GPS components and interactivity, you’ll still need decent service and still be staring at a screen most of the time. That was true of co-creator company Niantic’s last gaming experience as well, a niche AR mobile game called Ingress, which asked users to join two sides and use their smartphones to claim territory around portals of energy (actually just real-world buildings and sculptures).

But for the there’s added tech to make it less tedious than checking your phone every few minutes for Pokémon. Nintendo is working on a kind-of smart wearable they’re calling Pokémon Go Plus — something we assume built in equal parts smart watch and motion sensitive controller — which will be part of the larger system of finding and capturing Pokémon in the real world.

Pokemon Go Plus controller

The approach is noteworthy for merging one of Nintendo’s traditional strong suits — dedicated gaming hardware — with an area it has long been reluctant to make headway: smartphone gaming. After all, the company released its first dedicated console-to-smartphone game in history, Pokémon Shuffle, just last month. In all honesty, Nintendo’s Wii and WiiU consoles now look like early beta tests, pieces of the puzzle that eventually led to this: a touch-screen controller and a wrist-wrapping motion sensitive dongle.

Whether Pokémon fans will be comfortable waving their arms wildly and displaying a bright red and white wrist dongle in public is a matter that only time will sort out. We doubt the adult Pokémon fans will stop in the middle of the walk to lunch with colleagues to capture another for their collection.

On the other hand, it presents a great opportunity for real-world interaction outside of a comic shop basement, where the card tournaments usually happen. LARPing gathers people together–why couldn’t something like this?

We’ll have to wait until 2024 to see if it catches on or dies. But until then fans of the show, games, cards, and cosplay have something to watch and talk about.

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