FRIDAY FOTO (September 23, 2022)

ON A (ROTARY) WING AND A PRAYER.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Jonathan L. Gonzalez)

A Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter (left) and a Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 773, conduct flight operations near the Christ the Redeemer statue at Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during exercise UNITAS LXIII, on September 12, 2022.

We haven’t focused much on U.S. Southern Command in a while here at 4GWAR, so this photo presents an opportunity to spotlight the work of this regional combatant command based at Doral, Florida near Miami. SOUTHCOM is responsible for defending U.S. security and interests of Latin America south of Mexico, including the waters adjacent to Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Conducted every year since 1960, UNITAS (Latin for “unity’), is the world’s longest-running annual multinational maritime exercise. 4GWAR has been writing about UNITAS since 2015.

HMLA 773, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force UNITAS LXIII.

This year Brazil celebrated its bicentennial, a historical milestone commemorating 200 years of the country’s independence.

September 22, 2022 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 16, 2022)

HOLY SWITCHEROO, BATMAN!

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sergean. Samantha Hircock) Click on photo to enlarge image.

Iowa National Guard Sergeant Brady Verbrugge — a horizontal construction engineer with Company A, of the 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion — rappels from a 34-foot tower at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, on September 6, 2022. Over 200 soldiers and airmen participated in a 12-day U.S. Army Air Assault course held at Camp Dodge, which trains service members in sling-load operations (2 minute 46 second video) and rappelling (one minute video). According to the Army, it’s also a test of grit.

For some context, look at the photo below. We think that’s what they mean by grit.

U.S. Soldiers and Airmen rappel from a 34-foot tower at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on September 6, 2022. Over 200 Soldiers and Airmen participated in a 12-day U.S. Army Air Assault course held at Camp Dodge. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Samantha Hircock) Click on photo to enlarge image.

 

September 16, 2022 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Navy’s First Female Chief of Boat; Return of First U.S. Nuke Submarine

TWO NAVY SUBMARINE HISTORIC FIRSTS

First Woman Chief of Boat

U.S. Navy Master Chief Information Systems Technician Angela Koogler poses for a portrait aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana. Koogler is the Navy’s first female chief of the boat. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian G. Reynolds)

Master Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela Koogler has been named the top enlisted sailor on a U.S. Navy submarine.

The appointment of Koogler as chief of boat on the ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana is a historic first for the Navy, which only began assigning female officers to submarines starting in 2011. Female enlisted sailors were allowed to serve on subs in 2016, according to Military.com.

The chief of the boat, or COB, is a sailor who serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer and executive officer on a U.S. Navy submarine.

Koogler, who has been in the Navy for 20 years, reported to her first submarine — the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan — in May 2016, followed by a tour at Submarine Squadron 19. “We need to keep breaking down the barriers so that it just becomes all Sailors,” she said in a statement issued by the Navy. “It’s important to integrate everybody and it shouldn’t matter as long as they get the job done.”

Koogler only has 36 months serving submarines, said Submarine Squadron 19’s Command Master Chief Travis Brown. “But I knew she was the perfect candidate to be the first woman COB,” he said, adding “In 36 months, she walked off a submarine as a qualified diving officer of the watch, and everything in between, while also learning how to lead submarine Sailors.” Brown called Koogler’s appointment to the Louisiana’s top enlisted spot “a huge glass ceiling busted in the submarine force.”

*** *** ***

First Nuclear Submarine.

USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, has returned to public display at Groton, Connecticut after almost a year undergoing restoration. Senior Navy leaders, government, veterans and state officials welcomed back the historic ship to her home at the U.S. Submarine Base in Groton

GROTON, CONN – Sailors assigned to Historic Ship Nautilus man the rails upon receiving the command, “Crew of the Historic Ship Nautilus, reman the ship and bring her to life!” (U.S. Navy photo by Rachel E. Rakoff)

Commissioned in 1954, Nautilus wasn’t only the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, but also the world’s first submarine to reach the North Pole in 1958.

Serving for 26 years, the ship was decommissioned in 1980 after 2,500 dives and deploying 510,000 miles fueled by nuclear power. Since 1986 Nautilus has served as an exhibit at the Submarine Force Museum, allowing patrons to visit the only nuclear submarine open to the public.

During the scheduled closure, Nautilus received $35 million in refurbishments and preservation maintenance to ensure the historic ship will be able to inform, educate, and engage the public for the next 30 years.

Nautilus was towed to Naval Submarine Base New London in 2021 for dry-dock and refurbishment. Structural maintenance, such as the ship’s wooden deck replacement, repairs to the vessel’s superstructure, and restorations to the ship’s hull were performed to extend the vessel’s longevity.

Following repairs, Nautilus returned to NHHC’s fleet of naval artifacts on August 4, 2022. The vessel will remain ported in the Thames River, adjacent to the Submarine Force Museum.

*** *** ***

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo.

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2022 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

WORLD WAR CV: COVID-19 Vaccination Remains a Difficult Issue for the Sea Services

GETTING TO THE JAB.

On August 24th 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin determined that requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all members of the military was necessary to protect the force and maintain readiness to defend the American people.

In the year since Austin made vaccination mandatory with President Joe Biden’s approval, the vast majority of people in uniform — nearly 2 million — have gotten fully vaccinated. As of September 7, the latest Defense Department COVID-19 statistics, 1 million, 996 thousand service members have been fully vaccinated, including 909, 699 in r the Army, 387,535 in the Navy, 200,532 in the Marine Corps and 498,541 for the Air Force and Space Force combined. More than 28,000 are considered partially vaccinated — meaning those who have received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Henry Beaty administers a COVID-19 booster shot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge on March 23, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Schwab)

However, thousands more either refused to get the jab or sought administrative or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. While hundreds have been granted administrative exemption from vaccination, but just a few have received religious accommodation. That has led led to several lawsuits.

Almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines have been separated from the sea services since late 2021 for vaccination refusal. The Navy has received 4,251 requests for religious accommodation, the Marines 3,733. Less than 100 have been approved. However, a federal judge in Texas certified a class action by Sailors, mostly Navy SEALS, seeking a religious exemption and issued a preliminary injunction March 30, halting separation for members of the class. A similar injunction was issued against the Marine Corps on August 18 by a federal judge in Florida.

Meanwhile, seven cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who refused to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate were dis-enrolled and ordered off the school’s New London, Connecticut campus in late August, SEAPOWER reported. Although a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard announced a vaccination mandate for service members on August 26th, 2021. By law, the Coast Guard operates under the Defense Department as part of the Department of the Navy when war is declared and Congress directs the shift, or when the President directs the Coast Guard to switch from Homeland Security to Defense.

Fifteen cadets filed medical exemption or religious accommodation requests in September 2021. They were evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Coast Guard’s Office of Military Personnel Policy and denied. After a series of appeals and further denials, four cadets chose vaccination. Four others resigned from the Academy and the remaining seven were removed from the school for “violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” for not obeying orders. For more details click here to see the SEAPOWER report by your 4GWAR editor, who is also a correspondent for the magazine and its website.

On a final note, the Defense Department announced Aug. 29 a new COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, will be available as an option at military clinics. Officials hope Novavax, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years of age and older, may be more acceptable to the thousands of troops who have refused the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for religious or moral reasons.

Novavax uses technology that has been used in other vaccines required by the military, like hepatitis B vaccine. Novavax is not made with, or tested on, cells from fetal tissue. It does not use mRNA or DNA technology and does not enter the nucleus of cells, Pentagon officials said.

September 13, 2022 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 9, 2022)

BOUND FOR UKRAINE.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Porter)

Senior Airman Natasha Mundt, 14th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and other airmen assigned to the 305th Aerial Port squadron, load Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions to a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on  August 13, 2022.

The munitions cargo is part of an additional security assistance package for Ukraine. The security assistance the U.S. is providing to Ukraine is enabling critical success on the battlefield against the Russian invading force.

On Thursday, September 8, the Pentagon announced another authorization of security assistance valued at up to $675 million to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s twentieth drawdown of equipment from Defense Department inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

Weaponry and other equipment includes more ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that have been playing havoc with Russian facilities — including ammo dumps and command centers — behind the front lines, as this CBS News piece illustrates.

Also going to Ukraine will be: Four 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 105mm artillery rounds; additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARM) that destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems; 100 Armored High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV); 1.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition; more than 5,000 anti-armor systems; 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems; 50 armored medical treatment vehicles; plus additional grenade launchers, small arms, night vision devices and other field equipment.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department notified Congress it intends to make $2 billion available in long-term investments in Foreign Military Financing. One billion to bolster Ukraine’s security and the other $1 billion for 18 of Ukraine’s regional neighbors.

To date, the United States has committed approximately $15.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. Since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Ukrainian territory in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the United States has committed more than $17.2 billion in security assistance — and more than $14.5 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24.

September 8, 2022 at 11:57 pm 2 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (September 2, 2022)

One of the Perks of the Job.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Abban)

Crew members look at the aurora borealis as it’s seen from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear while transiting northward in the Atlantic Ocean, August 9, 2022.

The Bear was heading for Operation Nanook, the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature northern operation, this year in and around Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Nunavut is a massive, sparsely populated territory of northern Canada, forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The aurora, also known as the Northern Lights, is an electrical phenomenon in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

September 2, 2022 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: New AFRICOM Commander Visits Africa; U.N. Report Says 50 Killed in Mali Military Ops

U.S. AFRICA COMMAND

New AFRICOM Commander Visits Africa

The new head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) visited Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya recently on his first trip to Africa since taking command on August 9.

During the four-day visit (August 28-31), U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley visited with host nation leaders, senior State Department and defense officials, and deployed troops to better understand the political and military situation in East Africa, to discuss shared concerns and priorities, and observe ongoing operations firsthand.

U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley, the new commander of U.S. Africa Command, meets with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (right) Aug. 29, 2022 during Langley’s first visit to Africa since becoming AFRICOM’s leader. On the left is U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre. (Courtesy photo)

While in Somalia, Langley met leaders and troops at operational sites across the country to witness ongoing training efforts and assess security and force protection measures.  He also met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, to discuss shared priorities and operations, such as the shared fight against Al-Shabaab.

“The United States supports the Somali government and its people. We are committed to working together to advance our mutual prosperity for our countries. I appreciate Somalia’s efforts in the fight against Al-Shabaab and look forward to continued partnership between our two militaries.”

Djibouti in Africa. click to enlarge (CIA World Factbook)

In Djibouti, Langley discussed the variety of missions that stage out of Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa.  He also met with President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh and Minster of Foreign Affairs Mahamoud Ali Youssouf.

“The United States is grateful for the leadership Djibouti has shown through its contributions to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia and the gracious hospitality the Djiboutians show to our troops. I look forward to continuing to foster our enduring, strong and cooperative relationship,” Langley said.

Finally, at Manda Bay, Kenya, Langley met with the new U.S. Ambassador, Margaret “Meg” Whitman, as well as senior defense leaders stationed at the U.S. Embassy, and leaders from the base to assess security and force protection measures.

 

Before Langley took command, on January 5, 2020, between 30 and 40 Al-Shabaab fighters launched an attack on Cooperative Security Location Manda Bay. The attack resulted in the deaths of Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., as well as civilian contractors Dustin Harrison and Bruce Triplett. The attack also destroyed six U.S. aircraft, one aircraft owned by the Kenyans and several vehicles.

Kenya (CIA World Factbook) click to enlarge

A review of the attack by AFRICOM and a follow-up review by the Pentagon found no single point of failure for the loss of life or property damage. But both teams looking into the incident agreed on factors that contributed to the outcome of the attack and on recommendations for improved security operations.

“Cooperative Security Location-Manda Bay is an important operational base for U.S. Africa Command forces in the region,” Langley said.

*** *** ***

U.N. Report: At Least 50 Killed by Malian Army.

At least 50 civilians were killed during a military operation conducted by Mali’s army and “foreign troops” on April 19, the United Nations said in a new report, Reuters reported August 31.

The U.N. has repeatedly accused Malian soldiers of summarily executing civilians and suspected militants over the course of their decade-long fight against groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

Mali in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Mali’s military government — which took power in a 2020 coup — has been battling Islamist insurgents with the help of private military contractors belonging to Russia’s Wagner group, mercenary military contractors that have been deployed across the Middle East and Africa, including to Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, Madagascar, Central African Republic, and Mali. According to the Brookings Institution, they focus principally on protecting the ruling or emerging governing elites and critical infrastructures.

The massacre victims included a woman and a child, the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission MINUSMA said in a quarterly report on human rights violations in the insurgent-hit West African country.

It did not specify the nationality of the foreign military personnel accompanying local troops.

 

September 1, 2022 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Taiwan Military Shoots Down Drone; U.S. Navy Thwarts Iran Seagoing Drone Capture; Micro Drones for Ukraine

UPDATE: Updates with Taiwan shooting drone

DEFENSE

Taiwan Shoots Down Unidentified Drone

Taiwan says it shot down an unidentified civilian drone Thursday (September 1) in restricted airspace over one of its islands just a few kilometers from mainland China.

The drone was spotted above Lion Islet in the Kinmen County grouping of islands controlled by Taiwan about two and half miles (4 kilometers) from the city of Xiamen, China. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said the drone was shot down after warning flares failed to drive it away, CNN reported.

Unidentified drones have been reported in the area for four days in a row but Thursday’s incident was the first time one was shot down by Taiwan. Two days earlier, (Tuesday, August 30), Taiwanese soldiers shot flares at three unidentified drones that flew near Kinmen and fired warning shots at one that re-entered the area.

It is not clear who was flying the drones. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “not aware of the situation” and that it was “pointless for (Taiwan) to exaggerate the tension.”

On Friday (September 2), Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the drone shoot-down was the most “appropriate” thing to do after repeated warnings. Su added that China should exercise restraint, Reuters reported.

Speaking to reporters, Su said Taiwan had repeatedly issued warnings and “asked them not to encroach on our doorstep.”

Chinese forces have been exercising near Taiwan since early August, following the visit to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — which infuriated Beijing. China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei.

At least two videos of recent drone trips have circulated widely on Chinese social media, in one of which Taiwanese soldiers were seen throwing stones at the craft.

Su said the videos were made for China’s “propaganda at home,” adding to the anger of Taiwan’s people. China’s foreign ministry dismissed Taiwan’s complaints about drones as nothing “to make a fuss about.”

*** *** ***

Iranian Attempt to Grab U.S. Seagoing Drone Foiled

The U.S. Navy says it prevented an Iranian ship from capturing one of the 5th Fleet’s unmanned surface vessels in international waters of the Arabian Gulf on the night of August 29-30.

U.S. sailors observed an Iranian vessel, identified as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) support ship Shahid Baziar towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in an attempt to detain it. The Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt and MH-60S Sea Hawk launched from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 in Bahrain responded.

Screenshot of a video showing support ship Shahid Baziar, left, from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy unlawfully towing a  small Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in international waters of the Arabian Gulf as U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt approaches in response, August 30, 2022.  (U.S. Navy photo) Note: Sensitive data on the video are blacked out.

The Iranian vessel disconnecting the towing line, releasing the seagoing drone, and departed the area approximately four hours later, without further incident.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”

Nournews, an Iranian media outlet close to the country’s Supreme National Security Council, reported that the IRGC Navy “impounded” the U.S. vessel to secure safe shipping lanes and decided on its own to release it after briefing the American patrol ship about security and safe navigation, according to the Wall Street Journal, which noted more violent confrontations have recently occurred in recent weeks between U.S. forces and Iranian-backed militias. On August 15, an Iranian-backed militia in central Iraq attacked the U.S. base at al-Tanf, Syria, with two drones that were supplied by Tehran, U.S. officials say. No U.S. soldiers were hurt.

The Saildrone Explorer USV is equipped with sensors, radars and cameras for navigation and data collection. However, this technology is available commercially and does not store sensitive or classified information, the U.S. Navy said.

(U.S. Army photo by Corporal DeAndre Dawkins) Click photo to enlarge image.

Naval Forces Central Command launched the Saildrone Explorer in the Persian Gulf on January 27, following a month-long test period in the Gulf of Aqaba,. The USV is part of Task Force 59, headquartered in Bahrain, which stood up nearly a year ago to test unmanned and contractor-owned vessels in the Middle East. The goal of the task force is to have 100 unmanned platforms, belonging to the U.S. and allies, operating together by the end of 2023, USNI News reported.

Meanwhile, Austal USA and Saildrone Inc. have announced a strategic partnership to build cutting-edge, autonomous uncrewed (unmanned) surface vehicles. See story below in INDUSTRY section.

*** *** ***

Britain Supplying Micro Drones to Ukraine.

Target-spotting micro-drones, will be included in the next weapons package Britain will supply Unkraine, departing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Black Hornet micro drone. (U.S. Army photo)

 

The British announcement was light on details, except for saying 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, primarily used in urban warfare, are included in the package, Defense News reported August 24. . The micro-drones, made in Norway by American firm Teledyne FLIR, were originally developed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics, now part of the U.S.-based sensor specialist. The company advertises the drone, which resembles a thin helicopter that can fit in the palm of a hand, for its stealthy operations as it scouts for nearby threats.

Johnson made the announcement on his third visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24. Johnson, who was forced from office in July, is effectively a caretaker prime minister while the ruling Conservative Party prepares to elect a new leader in early September.

London’s latest commitment brings the amount given in military and financial aid to more than £2.3 billion since the war began in February.

The Norwegian Defence Ministry, which partnered with Britain on the Black Hornet deal, said Oslo contributed upward of $9 million to the transaction. According to a ministry statement, Norway’s contributions to the British-led fund in support of Ukraine total roughly $41 million.

 

*** *** ***

 

INDUSTRY.

Saildrone Partners with Austal USA

Alabama-based shipbuilder Austal USA and Saildrone Inc. announced they are forming a strategic partnership to build cutting-edge, autonomous uncrewed surface vehicles.

The new partnership combines Saildrone’s uncrewed surface vehicle technology with Austal USA’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. The partnership provides the U.S. Navy and other government customers a cutting-edge solution for maritime domain awareness, hydrographic survey, and other missions requiring persistent wide area coverage, the partners said in an August 30 statement.

The partnership ensures that production of the Saildrone Surveyor will accelerate to meet the rapidly growing demand for the ground-breaking technology. The Surveyor was developed and designed by Saildrone and will be manufactured exclusively by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

The Saildrone Surveyor, at 65 feet (20 meters) in length, is designed specifically for deep ocean mapping and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications, both above and below the surface. As with all Saildrone vehicles, the Surveyor is autonomous and uncrewed, offering extreme endurance, reliability and cost-effective operations. With its industry-leading expertise in aluminum shipbuilding, Austal USA is uniquely equipped to fabricate the Surveyor’s aluminum hulls and ensure rapid delivery to the fleet.

*** *** ***

Airbus Zephyr Tests Halted

Testing of Airbus’ long endurance Zephyr drone have been halted suddenly and further flight demonstrations of the solar-powered, uncrewed aircraft have been postponed until 2023, Defense News reports.

Flight tests unexpectedly concluded after completing a record 64 days aloft following an incident at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, according to U.S. Army Futures Command.

“Our team is working hard to gather and analyze important data following the unexpected termination of this flight,” Michael Monteleone, the director of the command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team, said in a statement.

The team launched the aircraft June 15 and it remained flying until August 18 when it “encountered events that led to its unexpected termination,” according to the command. With a wingspan of just over 82 feet and weiging less than 166 pounds, the Zephyr drone shattered its own longevity record for time spent aloft as an uncrewed aircraft system in the process.  No injuries or risk to personnel or other aircraft resulted from the incident.

*** *** ***

Aerovironment Acquires Planck Aerosystems

AeroVironment announced August 13 it has acquired Planck Aerosystems, a small company that develops and supplies technology enabling autonomous operations by aircraft, ground and marine vehicles and vessels.

The transaction “significantly accelerates AeroVironment’s development of advanced autonomy capabilities for the company’s unmanned aircraft systems,” the Virginia-headquartred small and medium-sized drone maker said in a statement.

Planck is a small technology company based in San Diego, California and will be acquired by AeroVironment’s Petaluma-based medium unmanned aircraft systems (MUAS) business segment to focus on integrating its flight autonomy solutions, such as ACE™ (Autonomous Control Engine), into AeroVironment’s offerings to enable safe, autonomous takeoff and landing from moving platforms on land or at sea in GPS-denied environments.

Founded in 2014, Planck has worked closely with customers from the U.S. Department of Defense, security agencies, allied governments and offshore industrials to develop customer-centric unmanned aircraft solutions. Planck’s products include embedded technologies and fully integrated unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and leverage their deep technical expertise in UAS guidance and navigation, autonomy and artificial intelligence.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

August 31, 2022 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 26, 2022)

KEEPING WATCH.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Randi Brown)

U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jordan Massey, mans an M240 machine gun aboard a patrol boat while providing security for ships inside the Port of Djibouti in East Africa on August 9, 2022.

Massey is assigned to U.S. Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces (MSRON-1). Based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti MSRON-1 provides port and harbor security, high-value asset protection and maritime security operations in coastal waterways of the Gulf of Tadjoura.

Camp Lemonnier is the primary base of operations for U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa. It is also the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa.

August 26, 2022 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: More Drones and Equipment for Ukraine; Air Force Drone Crash in Libya

DEFENSE.

Drones in Latest U.S. Ukraine Aid Package.

On the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, the United States announced its latest military aide package — almost $3 billion to train and equip the Ukrainian armed forces, including a more small, land-based unmanned aircraft and support equipment for a land and maritime drone.

The $2.98 billion aid package President Joe Biden announced Thursday (August 24, 2022) to provide weapons and equipment through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, (ASAI) “will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term,” he said.

Unlike a Presidential Drawdown, which the Pentagon has used to deliver equipment urgently needed by Ukraine from Defense Department stockpiles, USAI permits the U.S. government to procures needed capabilities from industry.

A U.S. Marine an RQ-20B Puma unmanned aerial vehicle during Exercise Snow Panzer in Setermoen, Norway, February 11, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Nghia Tran)

AeroVironment’s Puma, a small, hand-launched unmanned aerial system (UAS), and support equipment for the larger Boeing-Insitu Scan Eagle UAS are included in the package, according to the Defense Department. An earlier assistance package promised 15 catapult-launched Scan Eagles, which originally were developed for the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and can be launched from land or ship.  Both unmanned systems are unarmed and designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The Defense Department gave no details on the number of Pumas or type of supplies for Scan Eagle being sent to Ukraine.

Since Russia is also using unmanned aircraft, the aid package will provide VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems to the Ukrainians.

In addition to marking the date Ukraine declared its independence for the old Soviet Union, August 24 is exactly six months from the start of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

The United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. In total, the United States has committed more than $15.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, according to the Pentagon.

*** *** ***

AFRICOM Investigating Air Force Drone crash in Libya.

U.S. Africa Command is investigating the cause of an Air Force surveillance drone to crash near Benghazi, Libya, the military said Wednesday (August 23, 2022).

The drone was surveilling the area Monday ahead of planned diplomatic meetings, AFRICOM said. It did not specify what type of drone was involved or whether the crash was the result of enemy fire, Stars and Stripes reported here.

August 24, 2022 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

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