Posts filed under ‘Aircraft’

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.

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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

FRIDAY FOTO (August 3, 2018)

Waaay up high.

180720-N-IL409-0031

(U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Apprentice Joshua Leonard)

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Donavyn Rogers paints the superstructure of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in Bremerton, Washington on July 20, 2018. The superstructure, also known as the island, is the tower on the starboard (right) side of the carrier flight deck, although in the photo below, it looks like it’s on the port (left) side, because of the angle from which the photo was shot.

In the lower photo, compare the size of the sailors and Marines on the flight deck of another Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier —  the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) — with the ship’s superstructure to get an idea of high high up painter Rogers has to work.

Nimitz-class_aircraft_carrier_USS_Harry_S._Truman_(CVN_75)

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park)

August 3, 2018 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 29-30, 2018)

Up and Away.

CRS 3 Mark VI Patrol Boats Underway during UAV Training Exercise

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Nelson Doromal Jr.)

Navy Chief Thania Shirley (left) steadies Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryson Isaac Ostrander as he launches an RQ-20 Puma unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a Mark VI patrol boat.

The hand-held launch came during a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean on June 19, 2018. Both sailors are assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron 3.

Coastal Riverine Group 1 Training and Evaluation Unit conducted the training to enhance the capability to defend designated high value assets throughout the green (coastal/littoral) – and blue-water (ocean) environment.

Here’s what a Mark VI patrol boat looks like …

CRS 3 Mark VI Patrol Boats Underway during UAV Training Exercise

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Nelson Doromal Jr.)

… and here’s a short Navy video on what it does and how it does it. For more photos, click here.

June 30, 2018 at 5:36 pm 3 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (June 22, 2018)

Dark Confetti.

Puma 2 Lethality Demonstration During Saber Strike 18

(U.S. Army photo by Specialist Hubert D. Delany III)

Polish army Rak 120 mm self-propelled mortar systems fire for effect during a lethality demonstration for Exercise Puma 2 at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, June 15, 2018, as part of Saber Strike 18.

Saber Strike is a multinational military exercise held annually since 2010. This year’s exercise included approximately 18,000 participants, including the United States, Britain, Germany and Norway. The exercise was hosted by NATO members Poland, Lithuania,  Latvia and Estonia.

In all, units from 19 allied and partner nations participated. The lead components were U.S. Army Europe and the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

For more photos and information click here for Poland, here for Lithuania. and here for Latvia.

Russia has complained that such beefed up NATO exercises close to its borders are provocative. However, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the intrusion of Russian aircraft and naval vessels into its neighbors’ territorial waters and airspace has prompted concerns among Nordic, Baltic and Balkan states.

“Transparency is central to lowering tensions and open dialogue. Saber Strike 18 is not a provocation of Russia but an exercise with our allies. This is what normal deterrence business looks like,” according to the U.S. Army Europe website.

June 23, 2018 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

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

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