Posts filed under ‘Air Force’

LOOKING AHEAD: December defense and homeland security events

Busy December.

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December 3-5

Egypt Defense Expo – At the  Egypt International Exhibition Centre, New Cairo, Egypt

December 5-6

IQPC Border Management Summit in San Antonio, Texas at the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio-Live Oak Conference Center

December 5-7

IDGA’s Future Ground Combat Vehicles summit in Detroit, Michigan at the Sheraton Detroit Novi hotel.

December 5

9:00 a.m. – 10 a.m. The Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies presents  a discussion on “Air Force Operations: Increasing Readiness and Lethality” featuring Lieutenant General Mark Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, at the Key Bridge Marriott’s Potomac Ballroom, Salon A in Arlington, Virginia.

11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. —  Book launch event for Dr. Max Abrahm’s newly released Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History (Oxford University Press). Presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Transnational Threats Project at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036.

frifo-1-20-2012icebreaker

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Benjamin Nocerini)

12:30 p.m. — United States Coast Guard commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz, discusses America’s presence in the Arctic as a matter of national security at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045.

December 6

9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. — Richard V. Spencer, 76th Secretary of the Navy, discusses the state of the Navy and Marine Corps and innovation in the naval domain at a Maritime Security Dialogue jointly sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the United States Naval Institute (USNI). At CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036.

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December 3, 2018 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 23, 2018)

Lightning Strike.

Exercise Combat Power

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Cory D. Payne)

We haven’t used an Air Force photo for the Friday Foto in a while so we decided on this visually arresting shot, taken November 19, 2018.

It shows a formation of Air Force F-35 Lightning IIs performing aerial maneuvers during a combat power exercise over the Utah Test and Training Range.

The F-35 program is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all weather, multi-role stealth fighter jets for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force — as well as foreign partners: Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark.

The fifth (latest) generation radar-evading jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready. That changed last month, when a Marine Corps jet launched from the amphibious warship USS Essex struck targets in Afghanistan.

November 23, 2018 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

1918, The Final Weeks: Aerial Combat

The Arizona Balloon Buster.

Frankluke

Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. with his SPAD S.XIII on September 19, 1918.

Some legendary World War I aviators — like Germany’s Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen, or America’s top ace, Eddie Rickenbacker — are still well known to many today.

However, Frank Luke Jr., has seldom been a household name, even though he was the No. 2 U.S. aerial ace during the Great War and earned the Medal of Honor.

Young, handsome and feisty (he was often in trouble with his superiors) Luke had the temperment, skills and killer instinct shared by the best fighter pilots on both sides. And in just a few short weeks in 1918, he shot down eight German planes and 14 enemy observation balloons. His head-on attacks on the hydrogen-filled, heavily guarded balloons earned him the nickname the “Arizona Balloon Buster.”

During a seven-day period, September 12-18, 1918 — two days of which he did not fly — Luke scored 13 confirmed victories, including five victories (two balloons and three airplanes) on the last day, according to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Luke was born in 1897 in Phoenix, Arizona — ironically the son of German immigrants — and with anti-German feeling running high after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917 (remember sauerkraut’s name was changed to “Liberty Cabbage”) he enlisted almost immediately in the U.S. Army. He joined the Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps, earned his wings and sailed for France. He was assigned to the famed 27th Aero Squadron in July 1918.

In September 1918, Luke began a personal campaign against German observation balloons and airplanes. In a single week, he scored 13 confirmed victories, including three aircraft and two balloons in one day.

WAR & CONFLICT BOOKERA:  WORLD WAR I/AVIATION, PHOTOGRAPHY, OBSERVATION

Luke brought down three German observation balloons in 35 minutes. He stands beside one of his kills. (U.S. Army photo)

His final flight took place during the first phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in late September 1918. After shooting down three observation balloons six miles behind the German lines, Luke was severely wounded by a single machine gun bullet on September 29, 1918. He landed in a field just west of the small village of Murvaux — after strafing a group of German soldiers on the ground. Weakened by his wound, he collapsed some 200 meters from his airplane. There are contradicting stories about what happened next. Some say Luke drew his Colt 1911 pistol as German infantry approached  and fired a few rounds at his attackers before dying. Others state he refused enemy calls for his surrender and killed several Germans before succumbing to his chest wound.

Here is the official Medal of Honor citation:

After having previously destroyed a number of enemy aircraft within 17 days he voluntarily started on a patrol after German observation balloons. Though pursued by 8 German planes which were protecting the enemy balloon line, he unhesitatingly attacked and shot down in flames 3 German balloons, being himself under heavy fire from ground batteries and the hostile planes. Severely wounded, he descended to within 50 meters of the ground, and flying at this low altitude near the town of Murvaux opened fire upon enemy troops, killing 6 and wounding as many more. Forced to make a landing and surrounded on all sides by the enemy, who called upon him to surrender, he drew his automatic pistol and defended himself gallantly until he fell dead from a wound in the chest.

Luke Air Force Base, located west of Phoenix, Arizona, is named for the Balloon Buster.

October 4, 2018 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 21, 2018)

Worth a thousand words.

Florence Flooding in Bladen County

(Nebraska National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Herschel Talley)

Nebraska Army National Guard Spc. Matthew Reidy surveys the flooding from the air on September 19 (Wednesday) in Bladen County, North Carolina.

Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and 13 Soldiers assigned to a Lincoln-based Nebraska National Guard aviation unit supported the ongoing Hurricane Florence relief operations from the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Raleigh International Airport in North Carolina. The Company G, 2-104th General Aviation Battalion Soldiers are equipped and trained to conduct search and rescue operations, as well as air movement missions.

For days, the storm dumped relentless rain — in some places about 3 feet — and rivers keep on rising. The storm’s death toll ticked up to 41 people in the Mid-Atlantic region on Thursday (September 20); 31 of them in North Carolina alone, according to NPR.

The disaster sparked a widespread government response from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard units — as well as the Department of Homeland Security and local emergency workers.

September 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September16, 2018)

Spy Plane Selfie.

FRIFO 9-16-2018 U@-Dragon Lady

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lieutenant Colonel Ross Franquemont)

We confess we’re a little confused as to what we’re seeing here in this photo. The official caption reads: An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady pilot flies the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft approximately 70,000 feet above an undisclosed location [on] August 13, 2018. The Dragon Lady is a single-seat, near space reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft that flies so high its pilots must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts.

Jammed with high tech sensors like infrared, and synthetic aperture radar, the Dragon Lady is the latest iteration of the Cold War-era U-2 Spy plane, which caused an international incident back in 1960 when one of the top secret, high-flying jets was shot down by a Russian missile.

U-2 New York Times, May 1960

For an easy-to-understand appreciation of that incident and the times it happened in, we recommend viewing the 2015 Steven Spielberg movie “Bridge of Spies,” starring Tom Hanks.

What confuses us at 4GWAR in this week’s FOTO is the American flag, which appears to be on display inside the U-2 cockpit, or else it is painted on the wing or fuselage and through some trick of light or photography, appears to be inside the plane.

Anybody with knowledge of the the real situation, please let us know.

At any rate, since U-2 photos from inside the super secret cockpit don’t come along very often, we decided to run this Air Force photo as this week’s Friday Foto.

September 16, 2018 at 7:15 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 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

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