Posts filed under ‘Africa’

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Light Show, Teaming with Air Force jets; Paris patrol; Assassination Weapon?

A new kind of Fireworks.

Drone Light Show entertains Team Travis

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad)

More than 500 drones illuminated the sky during a light show at California’s Travis Air Force Base on July 5, 2018. Intel’s new lightweight Shooting Star drone — it weighs just 330 grams — is designed to carry only a light that can change colors. Together, the 500 little quadcopters are capable of 4 billion color combinations, reported CBS Bay Area TV station KPIX.

Originally scheduled for the Fourth of July, the drone light show had to be postponed for a day because of high winds. Even so, a glitch required landing the fleet, early in the show, and resetting the drones before they could conduct five minute light show — controlled by one lap top and one operator, according to ABC TV station KGO.

The tiny drones, made of plastic and foam, swooped and swirled in the night sky forming images of the American flag, an airplane, the Golden Gate Bridge and the California Grizzly Bear.

Intel, the silicon chip maker, unveiled its drone light show capabilities in 2015 using just 100 little quadcopters. “The difference between 100 and 500 is mind blowing,” Natalie Cheung, who heads the Intel light show business unit, said in a company video. The drone display integrates computing, communication, sensor and cloud technology.

“All this drone can do is light up the sky, but it is something it can do really, really well,” the light show lead engineer, Daniel Gurdan said in the video.

Teaming Drones with Manned Aircraft

Intel’s flying light show is just one way scientists and engineers are working on ways to operate drones in large numbers. The military, in particular, has been looking at ways large numbers of fast-moving, evasive drones could overwhelm and enemy’s air defense systems.

The Army has looked into pairing its MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with attack helicopters, using the drone as a kind of hunting dog to seek out targets and threats out in front of the manned helicopter. Your 4GWAR editor first wrote about that for Smithsonian’s Air&Space magazine blog in 2011

Now Air Force thinkers are looking at teaming manned aircraft with unmanned drones. In a policy paper released late last month (July 2018), the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies says maximizing the attributes of human operators and aircraft autonomy could boost affordable, effective combat capacity.

The paper notes that as a result of advancements in autonomy, processing power, and collaborative information exchange, the U.S. Air Force may soon be able to fly traditionally manned combat aircraft in partnership with unmanned aircraft.

The paper’s authors urge the Air Force to explore the advantages that could come through collaborative teaming of manned and unmanned combat aircraft. They noted  that the “combination may provide increased numbers of affordable aircraft to complement a limited number of exquisite, expensive, but highly potent fifth-generation aircraft.”

In short, that could mean meeting the requirements of Air Force Combat Command in a sustainable way during a time when there is a shortage of pilots and funds for newer, more expensive aircraft.

In other unmanned aircraft news …

Protecting Paris.

During Bastille Day celebrations in France last month (July 15), two MQ-9 Reaper drones patrolled the skies over Paris and southwestern France.

According to the manufacturer of the unmanned aircraft — San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems — the French Air Force (Armee De L’Air) operated its drones over Paris and the city of Cognac, providing airborne surveillance over the national celebration.

Equipped with an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance suite of sensors, the Paris MQ-9 flew safely over a populated area of seven million people among numerous other military aircraft participating in the airborne parade.

SONY DSC

(Photo of French MQ-9 Reaper courtesy of Business Wire)

Two French MQ-9s are based in Cognac Châteaubernard Air Base, where they perform daily training or ISR support in French airspace. Another six Reapers are operated by the 1/33 Belfort Squadron, providing intelligence and support to Operation Barkhane, the ongoing French anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Assassination Attempt by Drone?

Two drones packed with explosives reportedly flew toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Saturday night (August 4) in what his government says was a failed assassination attempt. New York Times site has video here.

MAP-Venezuela_large_locator

Venezuela in South America (Source: CIA World Factbook)

The attack  occurred while Maduro was making a speech at a huge outdoor event in Caracas to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the country’s national guard, according to USA Today, which detailed what happened.

Maduro blamed the “far right”, Colombia’s outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, and shadowy forces in Miami for the attack, The Economist reported. He has denounced a score of plots since he took over from the late Hugo Chávez in 2013.

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August 17, 2018 at 12:28 am

FRIDAY FOTOS (August 10, 2018)

Over Africa.

75 EAS C-130s deliver cargo in East Africa

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Pilots of an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules fly a mission over East Africa on July 24, 2018. These airmen are assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which supports Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa with medical evacuations, disaster relief, humanitarian and airdrop operations.

Meanwhile, on the other side of what was once called the Dark Continent …

Under Africa.

U.S. Army Soldiers participate in Jungle Warfare School in Ghana

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Brandon Ames)

An Army staff sergeant slogs through muddy water during Jungle Warfare School training at Achiase Military Base in Akim Achiase, Ghana, on August 4, 2018. The exercises train participants in counter-insurgency and internal security operations.

August 9, 2018 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 20, 2018)

So Where’s the Plane?

Pararescue Airmen practice military free fall

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Gustavo Castillo)

Illustrating the “Free” in free fall, this photo shows Air Force para rescue jumpers (PJs) performing a military free fall jump over Djibouti in East Africa on April 17, 2018. The airmen are assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. They are deployed in support of humanitarian aid and contingency operations in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa area of responsibility.

April 20, 2018 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

AFRICA/SPECIAL OPS: Seven Countries Host Special Operations Exercise

Flintlock 2017.

A U.S.-led multinational military exercise — Flintlock 2017 — is underway in seven northern and western African countries. Flintlock is an annual training exercise for Special Operations Forces (SOF) designed to reinforce cooperation and the capabilities of participating nations.

flintlock-2017-niger-troops

Nigerien armed forces participate in the opening ceremonies of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Zayid Ballesteros)

Last year, Exercise Flintlock 2016 was hosted by Senegal and Mauritania. This year, seven countries are hosting Flintlock 2017: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.

In addition to U.S. Green Berets from the 3rd Army Special Forces Group, which is regionally aligned to North and West Africa, SOF units from Australia, Belgium and Canada will be participating in the three-week exercise. The 20 personnel from Canada will include staff from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and medical specialists from Canadian Forces health services group, according to the Ottawa Citizen

Other countries sending troops, 20 in all,  include:  Algeria, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal,  Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

west-africa-map

The region where Flintlock is taking place is threatened by violent radical groups like Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, head of Special Operations Command Africa, said the training is focused on helping partners coordinate a regional response to extremist threats from al Qaeda-aligned groups and the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Stars and Stripes.

“These threats are a shared challenge we can only meet together,” Bolduc said during the Flintlock opening ceremony in Chad,” according to U.S. Africa Command. The exercise will pay special attention to protecting borders and guarding against cross-border attacks. Boko Haram, the Nigerian-based terrorist group, has launched attacks on neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

flintlock-2017-green-berets-saluting

Colonel Major TN Pale, Burkina Faso’s Army Chief of Staff, salutes U.S. Army Green Berets during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2017 at Camp Zagre, Burkina Faso on February 27, 2017.  (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Benjamin Northcutt)

March 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 20, 2017)

Why It’s Called Camouflage.

frifo-1-20-2017-camouflage-army

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Craig Philbrick)

U.S. soldiers’ uniforms blend in with the rugged terrain as they move through a trench in Thies, Senegal during Africa Readiness Training 16, a joint U.S.-Senegalese exercise last July in West Africa.

These troops from 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat team, were taking part in a company level combined arms live-fire exercise.

This photo is taken from the Army’s 2016 Year in Photos collection.

January 20, 2017 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 6, 2016)

Tree People.

FRIFO 8-6-2016 African Trees

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt

U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division cross some unusual terrain in Senegal West Africa. And, no, we don’t know for sure what kind of trees those are. Maybe baobab?

The troops were participating in a platoon-sized live-fire exercise during Africa Readiness Training 16 exercise in Thies, Senegal last month.

These soldiers are with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

To see more photos of Africa Readiness training 16, click here.

 

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August 6, 2016 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 24, 2016)

Rope Trick.

FRIDAY FOTO 6-24-2016 JUNGLE SCHOOL

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Candace Mundt

A soldier with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division pulls himself out of a hanging barrel during Jungle Warfare School near Yemen, Gabon.
These soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, of the 7th Regiment were attending the French Jungle Warfare School as part of U.S. Army Africa’s exercise Central Accord 2016. CA16 is an annual, joint military exercise to practice and demonstrate proficiency in conducting peacekeeping operations.

To see more photos from this exercise, click here.

 

 

June 24, 2016 at 2:48 am Leave a comment

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