Posts filed under ‘Unmanned Aircraft’

TECHNOLOGY: Using Lasers on Drones and Against Them.

Directed Energy Weapons.

Each branch of the U.S. military is developing directed energy technology — largely for defense against small, weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones.  But the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) wants to mount a laser on a drone to attack enemy ballistic missiles.

DIRECTED ENERGY-DARPA-MobileForce

An artist’s rendering of a vehicle-mounted small laser defense against attacking drones being studied by DARPA. (DARPA photo).

Since the Air Force manned Airborne Laser system was cancelled as too expensive and impractical in 2012, the MDA has looked for a way of combining a compact, high-power laser with a high-flying aircraft that can stay aloft for extended periods. Such an aircraft, ideally a drone, would be able to destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the boost stage — shortly after launch — when it is most vulnerable.

“Our goal eventually is to integrate a high-powered, solid-state laser on a long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle operating in the stratosphere where the atmospheric disturbance of the aircraft and the laser is significantly reduced,” Richard Matlock, MDA’s program executive for advanced technology told a missile defense conference last December.

Meanwhile, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  is working on a counter drone laser system to protect moving ground vehicles. The agency’s Mobile Force Protection Program is seeking industry solutions for protecting high value ground assets from the growing threat of small weaponized drones.

C-130 Gunship.JPG

The Air Force wants to supplement the Gatling gun on the AC-130 gunship with a silent laser weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

The Navy, which is the farthest along in weaponized laser development, is also helping Special Operations forces mount a directed energy weapon on Air Force AC-130 gunships. In addition to the big plane’s flying Gatling gun with a finite load of ammunition, directed energy would bring a silent, invisible capability that will be a game changer, according to Air Force Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold. Heithold, the principal deputy director for cost assessment and program evaluation at the Pentagon, is expected to outline the Defense Department’s roadmap for offensive and defensive directed energy weapons capabilities when he and Matlock speak at IDGA’s Directed Energy and Next Generation and Munitions conference later this month in Washington.

June 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

ARCTIC NATION: NATO Air Exercise in Arctic, A-10s to Alaska, New Russian Base.

Military Update.

With an increasing number of intercontinental ballistic missile test launches by North Korea, Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic and continuing aggressive behavior toward former Soviet satellite nations that have joined NATO, the countries that ring the Arctic are increasing their defense budgets and stepping up training exercises in the Far North, as well as Eastern Europe.

Mildenhall and Lakenheath aircraft on way to Arctic Challenge

Two F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, fly in formation next to a KC-135 Stratotanker on May 19, 2017. The aerial refueling tanker is assigned to RAF Mildenhall, England. All three aircraft were flying in Arctic Challenge 2017, a multinational exercise that ended June 2 in Finland and Sweden. (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant  David Dobrydney)

ARCTIC CHALLENGE.

The U.S. Air Force and the air services of ten other nations are winding up Arctic Challenge a training exercise that began May 19 in Scandinavia and ends Friday (June 2).

The gathering sought to build relationships and increase technical inter-operability among NATO and non-NATO member partner nations. Participants included NATO members Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as non-members Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.

Lieutenant Colonel Jason Zumwalt, commander of the U.S. 493rd Fighter Squadron, said the exercise presented practice opportunities and experiences that allow Air Force pilots and aircraft maintainers to work “side-by-side with our partners and allies to plan, execute and debrief some very complex missions.”

The 493rd sent 12 F-15C Eagle fighter jets and 200 personnel from their base in England. Two  KC-135 aerial refueling tankers and 30 airmen from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron, also based in England.

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RED FLAG ALASKA.

CORRECTS: A-10 Lightning II to A-10 Thunderbolt II (What were thinking?!!)

Meanwhile, a dozen Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft based in South Korea, have flown to Alaska to participate in an exercise his summer. The move is an indication that the U.S. military is carrying on with business as usual despite rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to the Stars and Stripes website.

A-10 Thunderbolt

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Michael Battles)

The planes and additional air crew and support personnel and will join the Red Flag Alaska 17-2 drills out of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, also in Alaska, through early July, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

The exercise will simulate the first 10 days of combat with a near-peer adversary. The A-10s, also known as “Warthogs because of their homely appearance, heavy armor and fierce attack capabilities, are designed to provide close support to infantry and destroy enemy tanks.

The A-10s are based at Osan Air base in Korea, where the rest of the 25th Fighter Squadron remains to handle mission requirements.

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NEW RUSSIAN ARCTIC BASE.

The Arctic, is expected to grow more accessible as melting sea ice opens up shipping lanes and, as 4GWAR has noted since 2014, Moscow has engaged in a military buildup in its Arctic Regions, including more than a dozen new operational airfields as well as future deployments of drones, ships and submarines and future construction of mobile nuclear power plants.

The Russians recently opened their sprawling Trefoil base, located just outside the Arctic Circle, according to CBS News. The post can house 150 troops and aircraft. While parts of the base remain top secret, Moscow offered a virtual video tour of the building, CBS reported in April.

arctic-circle-svg

Arctic Circle Nations Click on image to enlarge.

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ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the Far North. The U.S. “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests” in the region. “Those interests include national security needs, protecting the environment, responsibly managing resources, considering the needs of indigenous communities, support for scientific research, and strengthening “international cooperation on a wide range of issues.”

June 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

CALENDAR: Unmanned Systems; Veterans’ Healthcare and Close Air Support.

May Events.

Calendar1

Here at 4GWAR we’re reviving our monthly calendar of newsworthy military, aviation, unmanned systems and homeland security events. May is shaping up to be a busy month starting with the annual unmanned systems industry event meeting and trade show in Dallas May 8-11.

New treatment techniques and new technology will be among the topics discussed May 15-18 at VA Healthcare 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

And from May 22-24 the best ways to support and protect ground troops from the air will be discussed at the Close Air Support Summit in Washington, D.C.

Robots, Drones and Droids.

More than 7,000 industry leaders and professionals from over 55 countries are expected to attend XPONENTIAL 2017, the annual unmanned systems and robotics trade show and conference, at the Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas next week.

AUVSI Atlanta 2015

AUVSI’s 2015 conference and trade show in Atlanta. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

The exhibit hall will showcase more than 600 companies from around the world, representing more than 20 industries, including energy and construction, defense, automated vehicles and cinematography. Speakers slated to attend include: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich,  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and executives from Airbus Defence and Space, GE Oil & Gas, and Northrop Grumman.

The event is hosted by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

VA HEALTHCARE.

Government officials, healthcare executives, medical educators and technology experts and companies will meet at the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel in northern Virginia (May 15-18).

VA Healthcare 2017 comes as the VA health care system copes with a surge of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts seeking physical and mental health services. The number of veterans enrolling for VA healthcare grew from 7.9 million in 2006 to nearly 9 million last year.

Topics will include the VA nursing shortage, training personnel, the effect of combat deployments on women vets and their healthcare needs, advanced medical simulation systems and alternative medical treatments for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The event is organized by Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

CLOSE AIR SUPPORT.

Top Air Force officials from the United States, Germany and other NATO nations will  discuss the future of close air support in an era of unconventional warfare that could see conventional conflicts break out in the Middle East, Eastern Europe or the Korean peninsula.

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The A-10 Lightning II, better known as the “Warthog.

The event is sponsored by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

Topics of discussion at the Close Air Support Summit will include future use of the AC-130 gunship, A-10 ground attack jet and F-35 fifth generation fighter/bomber. Also of concern: the U.S. Air Force’s close air support strategy in future operations; the challenge of conflicts in urban environments; training tactical air traffic controllers, developing light attack aircraft to fill the gap between the heavily armored, slow-moving A-10 and the supersonic F-35, which is more lightly armed for ground attack.

The event was organized by IDGA, a division of IQPC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

DEFENSE INDUSTRY: Trump Defense Budget Boost; Brazil to Spend More

Trump Seeks Defense Budget Boost.

FLW-AT4

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal 2018 spending plan Thursday (March 16) which sets the framework for a final budget request to Congress. If passed, the funding request would sharply increase military and homeland security spending while cutting the budgets of dozens of federal agencies and programs — including the State, Justice and Transportation departments.

In the wake of Trump’s so-called “skinny” budget, which will likely go through numerous amendments and changes before being voted upon by Congress, the Pentagon released a broad wish list on Thursday, which, the New York Times noted, signals what the Defense Department “would do with its proposed $54 billion windfall, filling its shopping cart with desires including Apache helicopters for the Army, anti-submarine planes for the Navy, fighter jets and more training for selected personnel.” The budget proposal calls for $639 billion in defense spending, up $52 billion from last year’s budget request. It also seeks another $2 billion for national security programs in other agencies, like safety oversight of nuclear weaponry by the Energy Department.

According to Politico’s Morning Defense, “The Trump White House is touting a boost in military spending as a major element of what it calls a ‘hard-power’ budget proposal as it seeks to win over hawkish Republicans who are pushing for an even bigger increase in investments in the military. However, GOP defense hawks have criticized the administration’s claim that its proposed defense expansion is “one of the largest in history,” noting the Trump plan is only a 3 percent increase above the Obama administration’s projection for next year, POLITICO reported.

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Brazil Budget Battle.

Trump isn’t the only leader in the Americas planning to boost defense spending while cutting spending elsewhere in the budget.

brazilian-jungle-trained

Brazilian special operations troops.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is increasing the country’s military budget by 36 percent, local media reported Monday (March 13). The defense hike comes just months after Temer pushed the approval of a controversial constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for the next two decades, according to the Venezuela-based news site, teleSUR.

Citing a report by Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, teleSUR said data compiled by  Brazil’s Senate indicated military spending for this year is set to hit nearly $3.1 billion. The changes come after Brazil’s military budget was slashed under former President Dilma Rousseff’s government. In 2015, the finance minister at the time, Joaquim Levy, drastically reduced investment in the defense sector. From the US$ 3.8 billion expected to be spent in the area, it only allocated $2.1 billion, according to Senate data.

Temer’s move to increase military spending also comes after the approval of a constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for two decades. The reform ties any increase to social assistance programs to the previous year’s inflation rate, rather than GDP. This will effectively limit what all future governments can spend on health, education and social welfare for at least 20 years, according to teleSUR.

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Industry News:

Australian Drone Program

California-based unmanned aircraft maker General Atomics has launched its Team Reaper Australia group to meet the Australian military’s search for a new drone, according to C4ISRNET.

Turkey Defense Procurement

A Turkish government report on defense procurement for the next five years urges the input of domestic industry to become a global player.

The 124-page Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 was prepared by Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries. Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik defines the plan’s goal as making the Turkish industry “a global player with technological superiority,” Defense News reports.

March 16, 2017 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

BALTIC to BLACK: From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, Russia’s Neighbors Are Nervous

Sweden to Resume Draft.

Armored vehicles loaded with troops hit the beach in Sweeden during BALTOPS 2015

(A Swedish amphibious assault vehicle participating in NATO exercise BALTOPS 2015.)

Concerned about Russia’s aggressive actions in the Baltic region, and mounting uncertainty over Europe’s alliance with the United States, Swedish authorities have announced mandatory military service will return for men and women next year.

Sweden, which abolished the draft in 2010, plans to conscript 4,000 men and women in 2018, according to the New York Times. Unlike most of its neighbors in the region (Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) Sweden is neutral and not a member of NATO.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Baltics became a region of stability. But all that changed with Russia’s annexation of Crimea three years ago and the Russian support for the insurgency in Ukraine, the Times said. Swedish military spending last year  was up 11 percent.

“The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighborhood are some of the reasons,” Marinette Nyh Radebosaid, a Swedish defense ministry spokesperson, told the BBC.

map-baltic-region

(Map courtesy of NATO Review.)

In recent years, Baltic and Nordic nations have been rattled by Russia’s antagonistic behavior. There have been numerous reports of Russia probing Nordic defenses, from an underwater vehicle  entering Swedish waters to Russian bomber flights violating Swedish and Finnish airspace. Estonia was hit by a massive cyber attack, believed to be Russian in origin, in 2007.

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Norway Boosts Defense Budget.

Last year, Norway announced a 1.9 billion krone ($230 million) increase in defense spending for 2017, bringing the country’s total military spending to 50.9 billion krone. More than 12 billion of that amount was to go to procurement, IHS Jane’s reported last October.

The increase, part of Norway’s Long Term Defence Plan, drew criticism from opposition lawmakers who didn’t like where the money would come from — the Government Pension Fund. But according to Defense News, cross-party support for the boost in defense spending was fueled by two concerns: keeping pace with Russia’s military buildup in the High North (above the Arctic Circle) and whether the Trump White House might weaken U.S. spending on maintaining European security.

The Norwegian Defense Ministry wants to buy more F-35 strike fighters, three helicopter-equipped Coast Guard vessels and CV-90 combat armored vehicles, as well as armored reconnaissance systems and artillery equipment. Longer term acquisition plans would seek a new air defense system and multi-role drones.

“Given all that is happening in the region, Norway needs to have the strongest defense that it can afford,” Bård Vegard Solhjell, a Socialist Left Party member of parliament told Defense News last month.

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U.S. Troops in Romania.

Meanwhile, the United States military is training with NATO militaries and partner nations in and around the Black Sea.

Platinum Eagle 17.1: Dismount Range

(A U.S. Marine, center, watches Ukrainian soldiers in action during Exercise Platinum Eagle at Smardan Training Area, Romania, on February 24, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Sean J. Berry.)

The latest operation: Soldiers, tanks and M88 recovery vehicles from the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment’s “Fighting Eagles” recently arrived in Romania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The soldiers and equipment traveled more than 1,100 miles from western Poland, where the battalion and the rest of the 3,500 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), deployed to Europe, initially assembled.

Participating in Atlantic Resolve means the 3rd ABCT will conduct bilateral and multinational training with allies in eight different countries, according to the Army. The emphasis will be increasing interoperability with Romanian and Bulgarian land forces over the next six months.

The 3rd ABCT began arriving in Europe from Fort Carson, Colorado in January. The 3rd ABCT is bringing approximately 3,500 personnel and 87 tanks, 18 Paladin self-propelled guns; 419 humvee  variants; 144 Bradley Fighting Vehicles; (446 tracked vehicles, 907 wheeled vehicles, 650 trailers).

4th ID strengthes ties with Romanian NFIU

Major Royce Baker, chief of fires with the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element, meets Colonel Catalin Ticulescu, commander of the Romanian NATO Force Integration Unit, during a Multinational Division-South East Command staff exchange. (Photo by Army Staff Sergeant Diandra J. Harrell)

In February 2017 units began distributing across region with to Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany and several Baltic nations.

 

 

 

 

March 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 22, 2016)

Last Run.

Here we go Kiowa Warriors

Defense Dept. photo by Kenneth Kassens.

Thirty-two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters with the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade  — the last U.S.-based Kiowa squadron–  conduct a flyover during a farewell flight above Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Under the Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI)  — a cost-saving program to fund future development and acquisition of helicopters — the Army is divesting its OH-58 Kiowa Scout helicopters. The Army is replacing them with active duty AH-64 Apache attack helos and pairing them with unmanned aircraft.

The 1st Squadron will deploy to Korea this summer. When it returns, it will be switching over to Apaches.

The April 15 flyover served as a final “thank you” and farewell to the residents of the Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville, N. C. community. To learn more about the flyover, the Kiowa Warriors and the people who flew them, click here to read an article co-authored by our friend and colleague, Drew Brooks of the Fayetteville Observer, (via Stars and Stripes).

April 21, 2016 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: First Afghan Drone; U.S. Navy Foreign Sales Plan; China Drones in Africa

Afghan Scan Eagle.

ScanEagle

The Afghan military could be flying its first unarmed surveillance drone as early as March, according to a U.S. commander in Kabul, Reuters reports.

The NATO-led military alliance will provide the remotely piloted Insitu ScanEagle aircraft, and will train Afghan soldiers to operate the system, said Major General Gordon Davis, commander of the unit that procures new equipment for the Afghans, Reuters said.

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Navy Plans Foreign Sales.

Insitu’s RQ-21 Blackjack drone, now being flown by the Marine Corps, is among the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) the U.S. Navy says it will offer for foreign sales.

Reporting from the Singapore Air Show, Defense News, says the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, a small unmanned helicopter, and Northrop Grumman’s high flying MQ-4C Triton, a large-scale maritime surveillance aircraft, will be among the UAS available to foreign military customers.

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Nigerian Drones from China?

For African governments facing tight defense budgets and chronic security threats, Chinese military equipment has great appeal, particularly as it often comes as part of a broader package of trade and investment, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Ten African nations have started buying equipment from China within the last 10 years, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Angola and Nigeria.

And armed drones may be among the military equipment Nigeria is buying. In January 2015, photos of an armed drone that had crashed in a field in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno found their way onto the Internet. A second crash was reported in June. The drone was identified as a CH-3, an armed version of earlier drones built by China Aerospace Science and Technology, a vast state-owned enterprise employing more than 170,000 people.

February 18, 2016 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

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