Posts filed under ‘Unmanned Aircraft’

AROUND AFRICA: Nigeria’s Boko Haram Troubles

NIGERIA-Boko Haram.

Extremist attacks of military bases between November 2 and 18, killed 39 soldiers and wounded 43 more, Nigerian officials conceded Wednesday (November 28).

The attacks are an embarrassment and political setback for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has maintained the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram has been defeated. On Wednesday Buhari declared that Boko Haram and Islamic State-linked fighters should be wiped “from the surface of the earth.”

MAP-Nigeria

(Nigeria map: CIA World Factbook)

Shocked by the deaths, Buhari backed off past declarations that Boko Haram has been defeated and urged the military to “rise to the challenge.” He addressed security leaders in the turbulent northeast as he faces growing criticism ahead of next year’s election over the failure to end what he called a “must-win war,” the Associated Press reported.

The Islamic State West Africa Province, the largest IS-linked extremist group in Africa and a recent Boko Haram offshoot, claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack, a Nov. 18 assault on a military base in Metele. Concerns are growing that the group, which has killed two abducted health workers in recent months, is becoming more vicious, according to AP.

Mamman Nu, a slightly more moderate leader of the brutal terrorist group was killed three months ago by his more fanatical followers, according to The Economist.

Claims that the Buhari administration and the Nigerian military are inadequately equipping soldiers for the fight against Boko Haram are reminiscent of similar charges made against then-President Goodluck Jonathan at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency between 2014 and 2015, according to the Council on Foreign Relations blog. Then, as now, Nigeria faced upcoming presidential elections, which Buhari would go on to win. He campaigned on a platform of tackling corruption and restoring security, and central to his campaign was the defeat of Boko Haram.

nigerian-refugees-un-photo

A group of Nigerian refugees rest in the Cameroon town of Mora in 2015 after fleeing armed Boko Haram attacks.
(United Nations Photo by Mbaoirem)Enter a caption

“The apparent revival of Boko Haram therefore constitutes for President Buhari an electoral liability as well as added danger now faced by ordinary Nigerians in the northeast. Furthermore, according to officials from Niger, the terrorist group recently kidnapped around eighteen girls from two villages near the border with Nigeria. The episode recalls the Boko Haram kidnapping of school girls from Chibok in 2014, though the large-scale kidnapping of school girls has become a common feature of the Boko Haram insurgency. The failure of the Jonathan administration to provide adequately for the military was widely ascribed to corruption. President Buhari has launched a high-profile initiative against corruption, though many Nigerians see it as ineffective. Hence, the revival of Boko Haram and claims that the military is ill-provisioned may call to mind earlier allegations of the Jonathan government’s fecklessness and corruption that Buhari campaigned against,” writes John Campbell on the CoFR website.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian military says Boko Haram is using drones — unmanned aircraft — to gather intelligence on Nigerian troop movements, according to the BBC.

In a statement by Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman on Wednesday, the Army said “we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, increased use of drone against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks, according the Nigerian news site Vanguard.

 

 

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November 30, 2018 at 12:00 am 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 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 (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 (September 8, 2017)

Not a Toy.

FRIFO 9-8-2017 Mini Drone

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Michaela R. Gregory)

Marine Corps Lance Corporal Ryan Skinner, with the 1st Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment prepares to fly the Mark-2 Instant Eye during the Infantry Platoon Battle Course as part of a Deployment for Training (DFT) at Fort Pickett, Virginia on August 15, 2017. The Instant Eye is a small unmanned aerial system to be deployed at the squad level for quick and local surveillance and reconnaissance.

September 8, 2017 at 1:10 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 4, 2017)

Night of the Drone.

Panther Storm

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Lee)

By now regular visitors to 4GWAR have seen many photos shot through a night vision device, but this one reminds us of a poster for a horror or science fiction movie.

Here we see Army Specialist Derek Opthof preparing to launch an RQ-11 Raven drone (unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV, is the military term). This photo was shot July 27 during exercise Panther Storm at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The deployment readiness exercise tests the 82nd Airborne Division‘s ability to rapidly deploy its Global Response Force anywhere in the world within a few hours.

About the Raven: Yes, even in this high tech, digital age, some smaller drones have to be launched by hand. Here’s a three-minute video on YouTube that shows how it works in daylight. Click on the RQ-11 Raven link above to learn more at the manufacturer, AeroVironment’s website.

August 4, 2017 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

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