2012 has been a busy year at Security Clearance. From the U.S. diplomatic facility attack in Benghazi, Libya to the Petraeus sex scandal to the future of Afghanistan and the Pentagon preparing(or not) to fall off the fiscal cliff.
But there have been numerous other stories that have caught your eye this year.
Top 10 Security Clearance stories you, the readers, made the most popular in 2012:
10. Navy detects Russian sub off U.S. East Coast
The U.S. Navy detected and tracked a Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine less than 300 miles from the southern U.S. East Coast last November, U.S. Defense officials said.
While the submarine did not enter U.S. territorial waters or follow any U.S. Navy ships, its arrival came while a Navy carrier strike group was training off Florida, according to the defense officials.
9. Imagine flying from New York to London in under an hour
Perhaps Han Solo said it best in Star Wars when, describing his hyper-fast smuggling spaceship the Millennium Falcon, he said, "It may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts."
While the Air Force might take exception to being likened to the Falcon, in reality the platypus-nosed X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle really doesn't look like much. But it definitely has it where it counts.
The unmanned 25-foot-long vehicle was dropped off of the wing of a converted B-52 bomber off the California coast and tried to fly for 300 seconds at science fiction-like speeds of Mach 6, over 4,500 mph – fast enough to fly from New York to London in less than an hour.
It is the Pentagon's latest test as it studies the possibilities of hypersonic flight, defined as moving at speeds of Mach 5 (about 3,400 mph) and above without leaving the atmosphere. The technology could eventually bring missiles or airplanes to the other side of the planet in minutes instead of hours.
8. Army to Congress: Thanks, but no tanks
If you need an example of why it is hard to cut the budget in Washington look no further than this Army depot in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada range.
CNN was allowed rare access to what amounts to a parking lot for more than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks. About an hour's drive north of Reno, Nevada, the tanks have been collecting dust in the hot California desert because of a tiff between the Army and Congress.
The U.S. has more than enough combat tanks in the field to meet the nation's defense needs – so there's no sense in making repairs to these now, the Army's chief of staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told Congress earlier this year.
If the Pentagon holds off repairing, refurbishing or making new tanks for three years until new technologies are developed, the Army says it can save taxpayers as much as $3 billion.
7. New pictures show second Chinese stealth fighter being test flown
CNN obtained detailed photographs of a new stealth fighter being tested in China. It is the second such stealth fighter China has tested in as many years and appears destined to become the communist nation's future aircraft carrier-based fighter jet, according to weapons analysts.
The plane, dubbed by outsiders as the J-31, was test flown Tuesday in Shenyang. According to the analysts, the two photographs appear to have been leaked by officials in China.
6. U.S. sends warships near Israel in case evacuation needed
Senior U.S. military officials are considering increasing the American military presence in the Mediterranean because of what they see as growing instability in recent months, CNN has learned.
"This is post-Benghazi," one military official told CNN. "We're looking at instability in Libya, Egypt, Syria and now Israel and Gaza."
The Pentagon is looking at a number of options, according to military officials. The easiest would be to extend deployments of Navy ships passing through the region.
5. Army general faces possible court-martial on sexual conduct, other charges
The former deputy commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division was charged with numerous violations of military law, including forcible sodomy, the Army said in September.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was charged with "forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, violations of regulations by wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card" and several other counts, according to Army officials.
Sinclair is still awaiting the start of his courts martial.
4. U.S. had plans to nuke the moon
You could easily skip by it in an archive search: a project titled "A Study of Lunar Research Flights." Its nickname is even more low-brow: "Project A-119."
But the reality was much more explosive. It was a top-secret plan, developed by the U.S. Air Force, to look at the possibility of detonating a nuclear device on the moon.
3. U.S. military beginning review of Syria options
Even though news on Syria has been more of a focus the past few months, Security Clearance was on the story last February as the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command started a preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities in the case the U.S. had to deal with the Syrian military.
The options were being prepared in the event President Barack Obama were to call for them. Administration officials who spoke about the review to CNN emphasized that U.S. policy was, and still is, for now, the use of non-military options.
2. Air Force’s hypersonic test fails
A hypersonic aircraft launched by the Air Force last August spiraled out of control and was destroyed before it could reach its goal of speeding to 4,600 mph, according to the Pentagon.
The third test of the X-51A Waverider was launched in early August off the California coast from a B-52 modified bomber aircraft and was to fly for 300 seconds, reaching hypersonic speeds of Mach 6, but only flew for 16 seconds, according to the Air Force. Officials said a problem with a tail fin caused the missile-like vehicle to fly out of control before the main engine could be ignited, leading researchers to destroy it early.
1. FIRST ON CNN: Iranian jets fire on U.S. drone
Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf on November 1st. The drone was on routine maritime surveillance in international airspace east of Kuwait, 16 miles off the coast of Iran, U.S. officials said. The Predator was not hit. The incident, reported first by CNN, raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.