Posts filed under ‘Unmanned Aircraft’

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.

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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

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Cyclocopters Go All-Terrain

Paddlewheel Propulsion.

The U.S. Army’s quest for autonomous reconnaissance aircraft that can fit in the palm of a soldier’s hand has led to a breakthrough in vertical lift technology by researchers utilizing a concept long-known, but never successfully demonstrated: the cyclocopter.

Cyclocopter-Uof Md water test

The multi-modal quadrotor cyclocopter developed at the University of Maryland began aquatic mode testing in March. The unmanned aircraft, equipped with plastic foam pontoons, successfully crossed calm water. (Photo via Elena Shrestha)

A cyclocopter is a vertical lift aircraft — but unlike a helicopter — it has at least two rotors, one on either side of the servo and autopilot. A ring of rotor blades extend horizontally like the wings of an airplane and rotate around a horizontal axis, moving in a cycloidal way, like a paddlewheel on a riverboat.

Your 4GWAR editor reports on the latest developments in these tiny unmanned aircraft in the new issue of Vertiflite, a publication of the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International.

In flight, the cyclocopter’s cycloidal rotors and their circular housing look something like a speeding exercise wheel in a hamster cage, but without the hamster. The angle of the rotor blades can be shifted, altering lift and thrust that allows the aircraft to shift seamlessly from vertical to horizontal. The rotating multiple, uniform blades provide the aircraft with 360 degrees of thrust vectoring.

The cyclo rotor concept is over 100 years old with recorded experiments dating back to 1909 but early researchers focused on manned flight and were never able to demonstrate a vehicle that could fly, despite several attempts in the 1930s

Texas A&M tiny cyclocopter

Researchers at Texas A&M achieved the world’s smallest cyclocopter, weighing just 29 g (1 oz). (Photo via Moble Benedict)

With funding from the Army Research Laboratory, engineers at the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University have been designing, building and flying unmanned  cyclocopters to demonstrate their agility and viability. At Maryland’s Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, student researchers have built small unmanned cyclocopters ranging in weight from just over two ounces (60 grams) to almost two pounds (900 grams). The largest of the little drones is multi-modal and designed to travel across land and water, as well as the air. At Texas A&M’s Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory, researchers have also developed a range of increasingly smaller cyclo rotor-powered drones, including one that weighs just 29 grams, currently the smallest ever made.

Anticipating challenging battle environments that U.S. forces will face in future conflicts, the Army Research Lab’s Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) program began looking for promising technologies that would provide portable air and ground situational awareness devices for soldiers moving on foot through complex terrain, like dense urban areas. MAST’s Collaborative Technology Alliance (MAST-CTA) was created in 2008 to encourage cooperation among the military, industry and 20 research universities ….

TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY IN THE JULY/AUGUST ISSUE OF VERTIFLITE MAGAZINE, CLICK HERE.

VERTIFLITE-JA17-cover1 (2)

 

 

 

July 12, 2017 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

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