Posts filed under ‘Air and Missile Defense’

FRIDAY FOTO (January 18, 2019)

Sending a “Stinging” Message.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

Here we have “before and after” photos of a Stinger anti-aircraft missile launch. In the first, we see Marine Corps Provate First Class Scout Mohrman testing  Stinger during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California on January 14, 2019.

In the photo below, we see the same weapon, same day, same place — same photographer — but a different Marine, Private First Class Joshua English. as the Stinger leaves the launch tube.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

The Stinger, a Cold War weapon that is making a come-back with the U.S. military, is part of a group of anti-aircraft weapons known as Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or  MANPADS.  After the Soviet Union invadede Afghanistan, the United States supplied anti-Soviet Afghan insurgents with Stingers.  Between 1986 and 1989, Afghan forces used the missiles to down an estimated 269 aircraft and helicopters. (See video clip  from the 2007 motion picture Charlie Wilson’s War) Many Stingers, however, remained unaccounted for after the conflict despite U.S. efforts to have unused missiles returned to U.S. control. Some of the missiles made it into the international black market and the hands of terrorists.

After the 9/11 attacks, the proliferation of Stingers and other shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons was by the U.S. State Department as a “serious potential threat to global civilian aviation,” 4GWAR reported numerous times. Those concerns sparked both efforts to collect and destroy unsecured stockpiles of portable anti-aircraft missiles as well as industry efforts to equip commercial aircraft with counter MANPADS technologies.

With the rise of unmanned aircraft technology, security concerns have shifted to inadvertent or malicious drone interference with civil aviation.

January 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Gatwick Drone Shutdown and other drone news

UK Drone Incursions.

Airport security continues to be a concern after rogue drone incursions shut down Britain’s second-busiest airport during the busy Christmas holiday season.

Gatwick control-tower-with-aircraft-11111(1).jpg

A passenger jet departs Gatwick Airport. (Photo copyright Gatwick Airport Limited)

Drone sightings caused chaos last month at London’s Gatwick Airport, disrupting the travel plans for tens of thousands of people. The incident led to about 1,000 flight cancellations and affected the travel of 140,000 passengers. It also revealed a vulnerability that is being scrutinized by security forces and airport operators worldwide, according to Reuters.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow airports have ordered military-grade anti-drone defenses,  worth “several million pounds,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, another drone sighting just after 5pm on January 8 caused managers at Heathrow Airport to order an emergency one-hour halt of take-off flights.

The unmanned aircraft was larger than that seen at Gatwick just before Christmas. After the drone disappeared, airport officials activated measures and equipment stationed at Heathrow aimed at neutralizing any threat to passenger planes, according to The Guardian.

The British government said all major UK airports now have or will soon have military grade anti-drone equipment, the BBC reported. That announcement came after the military were called in to help when drone sightings caused delays for around at Heathrow on Tuesday.

There were concerns after the Gatwick incident — when two drones were spotted inside the runway perimeter fence — that it terrorism might be involved, although a final determination has not been made. So far, the operators of the rogue drones have not been identified.

Like the United States, Britain has strict rules for the operation of small drones in the vicinity of an airport. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bars private drone flight within five miles of an airport. The UK limit — at least until now — has only been one kilometer of an airport. Both countries require hobbyist drone operators to keep their unmanned aircraft within their line of sight, fly no higher than 400 feet above the ground and away from people and buildings.

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Marines Track Base Wildlife.

Marines at Camp Pendleton, California are working with the California Air National Guard to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) during emergency operations at the installation.

Operation Wild Buck

Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Echevarria, an intelligence analyst with the 4th Marines’ 2nd Battalion launches an RQ-20B Puma drone during Operation Wild Buck (OWB) at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, December 18, 2018. ((U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Emmanuel Necoechea)

The project, named Operation Wild Buck (OWB), used two types of drones to monitor  deer populations in and around the Marine Corps base.  The first was a low-flying, hand launched and battery operated RQ-20B Puma, which was controlled on the ground at Camp Pendleton. The second UAS was a high-flying, RQ-9 Reaper, launched from Las Vegas and controlled via satellite link from March Joint Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. Both drones sent back video feeds to Camp Pendleton’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

During the operation, scouts on the ground from the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Marine Regiment passed information on wildlife back to Camp Pendleton’s EOC, where it was relayed to Puma operators from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and Reaper operators from the 196th Reconnaissance Squadron, California Air National Guard. (Read more here). (Video here).

January 10, 2019 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

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.

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

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