Posts filed under ‘Air and Missile Defense’

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 FOTO (June 8, 2018)

Like a thunderbolt.

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

The very landscape of Afghanistan appears to be dressed in camouflage colors as an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II heads for an aerial refueling rendezvous with a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Longtime visitors to 4GWAR know we are big fans of the Cold War-era A-10, better known by its nickname, Warthog. The 40-plus-year-old attack aircraft, designed as a tank destroyer, has also won the affection of numerous ground troops for its tenacity in close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s a closer look at the A-10 …

KC-135 refuels A-10's over Afghanistan

(U.S.Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook)

These photos were taken May 28, 2018 during an aerial refueling mission over Afghanistan with A-10s from the 163rd Fighter Squadron and a KC-135 Stratotanker from the  340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

To see more photos, click here.

June 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 30, 2018)

Future War.

URBAN ANTX18

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rhita Daniel)

Infantrymen from the 4th Marines’ 3rd Battalion assessed emerging technologies and engineering innovations recently during an Urban Advanced Naval Technology Exercise at Camp Pendleton, California. The March 21, 2018 exercise saw leathernecks checking the operational utility of an unmanned light cargo vehicle, an electric tactical vehicle, protective helmets and defensive weapons like the Big Gun shown here. The name on the side of the weapon says it all. The “Drone Killer” is aimed at countering the threat from small unmanned aerial systems (drones).

Marine Corps planners expect battle-spaces in the future will include narrow streets lined by high rise buildings in densely populated megacities in Africa and Asia.

Click here to see more photos of the technology examined at the urban warfare technology exercise.

 

March 30, 2018 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 8, 2017)

Water Wall.

Nimitz Conducts Flight Demonstration

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Madrigal)

No, those aren’t giant polar bears, woodchucks or Yetis advancing on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean.

You can’t see them, but planes from from Carrier Air Wing 11 just dropped live ordnance (bombs) on the ocean surface, creating an exploding “water wall” in a flight demonstration. The aqua-technics were part of Tiger Cruise 2017 on December 1.

The photo below gives a closer view of the titanic splashes of water. To us they look like frolicking fuzzy critters. (the fifth from the right definitely reminds us of a giant porcupine.) What do they look like to you?

USS Nimitz Conducts Flight Demonstration

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kennishah J. Maddux)

December 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 20, 2017) UPDATE

Looking for Trouble.

2nd LAAD Stinger Range

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Cody J. Ohira)

Marines search for an aerial target during a live-fire training exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, October 10, 2017. The weapon the Marine in the middle is holding is a Stinger — a man-portable, shoulder-fired, heat-seeking, anti-aircraft, guided missile.

The Stinger provides short-range air defense to counter high-speed, low-level, and ground attack aircraft. Stingers have an identification, friend or foe (IFF) subsystem that helps the gunner and team leader identify friendly aircraft.

One interesting factoid about the Stinger, the Marines’ gunner handbook warns that when firing, the gunner and assistant must hold their breath until the trigger is released to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. And this is what it look like when the Stinger leaves the tube.

These Marines are with the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion.

FRI FRO add Marines rocket 10-27-2017

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Cody J. Ohira)

Updates with new second photo.

October 20, 2017 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Air Force Birthday 2017

Happy 70th USAF!

Air National Guard aides in the relief effort of Hurricane Harvey

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

On this day (September 18) 70 years ago, President Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act of 1947 which created the U.S. Air Force as a separate branch of the U.S. armed forces. Before that, the Air Force was a part of the U.S. Army.

Rather than commemorate the day with a single photo of fighter jets streaking across the sky, we thought we’d show a range of photos, showing some of the other things the Air Force does.

The photo above shows Senior Airman Austin Hellweg leading a family to an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in Beaumont, Texas for transport to a safer location during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in August. Most people think National Guard or Homeland Security when you mention natural disasters like hurricanes. But in this violent hurricane season, the Air Force (as well as the Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Marine Corps) have all provided assistance, following Harvey and Hurricane Irma, in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. Fifth-Generation Fighters, Strategic Bombers Conduct Show of Force with Allies in Response to North Korea Missile Launch

(U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sergean. Joshua Smoot)

In this next photo, a B-1B Lancer bomber prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base into Japanese air space and over the Korean Peninsula. After refueling on August 31, 2017, the Lancers flew with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets as part of a demonstration of America’s  commitment to its allies in the region.

Air Commandos participate in joint force exercise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Jeffrey Curtin)

Air Force personnel not only fly aircraft, sometimes they jump out of them. Special Tactics Airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron execute a high altitude, low open (HALO) jump from an MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft, flown by the 15th Special Operations Squadron. The jump came during a total force exercise mission over Terre Haute, Indiana on July 8, 2017.

Hurricane Irma

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corban Lundborg)

In the photo above, Air Force Reserve Major Nicole Mitchell records weather information while flying into Hurricane Irma September 8, 2017 on a WC-130J Super Hercules. Mitchell is an aerial reconnaissance weather officer assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. To see more photos of this mission, click here.

To learn more about the Air Force and its history — which really goes back more than 100 years, click here.

488px-Shako-p1000580

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.

September 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 11, 2017)

Blue Lightning.

Thunderstruck

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Lightning strikes behind a B-52H Stratofortress at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota on August 8, 2017. The B-52 can conduct strategic attacks, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations. It can carry up to 70,000 pounds of bombs and has a range of 8,800 miles. If these planes were humans, some of them would qualify for Social Security. Yes, they’re that old.

This big bird is one of 58 B-52s still on active duty with the Air Force. Eighteen more are with the Air Force Reserve.

August 11, 2017 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

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