Robots, ‘droids & Drones: Drone Strike Kills Iranian General; Saudi, U.S. Counter Drone Research

January 9, 2020 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

Drone Shot heard ’round the World.

Armed MQ-9 Reaper drone over Afghanistan

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, flies over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Pratt)

Tensions grew in the Middle East and around the world last week after a U.S. Air Force drone attack near the Baghdad airport early Friday (January 3) killed Iran’s most powerful security and intelligence commander — Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Missiles fired from a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper blew up the Soleimani’s convoy as it departed the airport. The general was the longtime leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the foreign-facing branch of the country’s powerful security apparatus, according to the New York Times.

He worked closely with Iraqi and Lebanese allies, nurturing proxy forces to form a Shiite axis of power throughout the region. His profile rose amid the fight to prop up President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and later the fight against the Islamic State, the Times noted.

President Donald Trump said he ordered the killing of the Iranian general “to stop a war,” not start one, but in the tense aftermath the Pentagon braced for retaliation by sending more troops to the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. Democrats in Congress and numerous leaders around the world — especially American allies in Europe and Middle East worried that the strike made war more likely.

In Baghdad, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the American drone strike, which also killed an Iraqi general who was deputy commander of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, the AP noted.

The Reaper — a remotely piloted aircraft in Air Force parlance — is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance drone that is primarily an attack aircraft but it also can perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as close air support, combat search and rescue and convoy or raid overwatch.

The Reaper is a bigger, more powerful version of the MQ-1 Predator drone, which it replaced in July 2017. Both aircraft are manufactured by California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

America’s use of weaponized drones began after 9/11, expanded during Barack Obama’s presidency and appears to have increased further still under Trump, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper. In March 2019, Trump revoked the Obama-era policy which required intelligence officials to disclose the number of people killed in drone strikes on terrorist targets outside war zones, according to NBC News.

On Thursday (January 9), the House of Representatives approved a war powers resolution with a vote of 224-194 that calls for limiting the White House’s ability to direct combat actions against Iran. Three only Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the resolution, which now goes to the Senate, CNN reported.

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Saudi Counter Drone System.

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) is working on a new national counter-dronesystem, according Defense News.  The new system — under development with international partners – seeks to address asymmetric threats to the country and protect critical infrastructure and domestic military bases.

Drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in September. The current air defense systems were unable to stop the assault.

The new system is in the testing stage and is expected to be rolled out in the near term, said SAMI’s chief executive officer, Andreas Schwer.  told Defense News. The C-drone system will have the options to thwart all types of drones from very small ones to the professional militarized threats, he added.

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F-16 Shoots Down Drone.

An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet recently shot down a targeting test drone, successfully demonstrating shooting a small drone at low altitudes, Air Force Magazine reports.

12232019-F-16-APKWS-test

(Screenshot from U.S. Air Force video by 1st Lieutenant Savanah Bray)

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, conducted the December 19 test. The AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket was originally developed for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a low-cost, low-collateral weapon. By adapting the rocket for cruise missile defense, it can serve the same role as the much more expensive AIM-120 missile, according to the Air Force release.

“The test was unprecedented and will shape the future of how the Air Force executes CMD [counter missile defense],” said Colonel Ryan Messer, commander of the 53d Wing at Eglin.

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FAA, FBI Investigate Drone Swarms.

Speaking of shooting down drones, law enforcement agencies in Colorado and Nebraska  warned residents — alarmed and annoyed by mysterious swarms of drones flying at night — that shooting a drone out of the sky would be a crime, the New York Times reports.

Since mid-December, sheriff’s departments in the border area of the three states have been flooded with at least 30 reports of nighttime drone sightings, according to CBS News. Groups of a dozen or more machines, sometimes flying in formation, have been reported. The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Air Force have been called to investigate the drone swarms. While there is a lot of speculation, no one seems to know who owns or has been operating them, according to the Times.

The sightings come just as the FAA has announced new regulations that would make it easier for law enforcement to identify and track drones.

Entry filed under: Air Force, Aircraft, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Photos, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Unmanned Aircraft, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (January 3, 2020) FRIDAY FOTO (January 10, 2020)

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