Posts filed under ‘News Developments’

DRONES AND and ‘DROIDS: NATO UAVs; Indian-U.S. drone development; DARPA smart drones

Finally, a NATO UAV.

NorthGrum NATO drone

Northrop Grumman officials and NATO leaders unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in  2015. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

After years of delays, NATO will be getting its own surveillance drones for the first time, according to the German government. NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone — a variant of Northrop Grumman’s high altitude — is slated for delivery to an air base in Sigonella, Italy, sometime in the third quarter of 2019. Four additional systems, including drones and ground stations built by Airbus, will be delivered later in the year.

The trans-Atlantic alliance plans to use the aircraft  for a variety of missions from protecting ground troops to border control and counter-terrorism. The NATO drones will be able to fly for up to 30 hours at a time in all weather, providing near real-time surveillance data, writes Reuters’ Anderea Shalal.

U.S.-Indian Drone Cooperation.

The United States and India are working together on developing a small unmanned aerial system that could be launched from a cargo aircraft.

It’s all part of a broader technology effort known as the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), which looks for opportunities between the two countries  for co-production and development of military technologies, according to Defense News. The Pentagon’s acquisition chief, Ellen Lord, discussed the drone project with reporters on March 15 — the day after she hosted a delegation from India to discuss DTTI programs.

Lord said the system would have three targeted uses: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, “cross-border operations,” and cave and tunnel inspection.

DARPA AI-Drone Program.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s think-outside-the-box scientific research unit, is studying how to equip reconnaissance drones with artificial intelligence (AI) to rapidly distinguish friend from foe in complex urban environments. Most military leaders believe conflicts in the near future will take place in large cities teeming with innocent, and not-so-innocent civilians. The congested urban landscape could pose a nightmare scenario of friendly fire incidents or civilian casualties.

DARPA’s Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) aims to develop technology to enable autonomous systems — supervised and operated by humans — to detect hostile forces and establish positive identification before any U.S. troops come in contact with them.

To overcome the complexity of the urban environment, URSA seeks to combine new knowledge about human behaviors, autonomy algorithms, integrated sensors and measurable human responses, to pick up the subtle differences between hostile and innocent people.

However, URSA’s program manager, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Root, says developing  such technology is “fraught with legal, moral, and ethical implications,” so  DARPA brought in ethics advisors from the project’s start, Defense One reports.

*** *** ***

Calendar.

April 24-25 — National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) Robotics Capabilities Conference, Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center, Columbus, Georgia, http://www.ndia.org/events/2019/4/24/2019-ndia-robotics-conference-and-exhibition.

April 29-May 2 — Association of Unmanned Vehicle System International (AUVSI) Exponential trade show, McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, https://www.xponential.org/xponential2019/public/enter.aspx.

March 20, 2019 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: AFRICOM Logistics Hub; West African Violence;

AFRICOM-Ghana .

U.S. Africa Command plans to begin routing cargo flights through Accra, Ghana, as the hub of a new logistics network to ferry supplies and weapons to U.S. troops operating across the continent’s increasingly turbulent western region, reports Defense One.

Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn

Air Force C-17s may soon be making weekly supply hops to Ghana for U.S. troops in West Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

As part of a defense-cooperation agreement with Ghana reached in May, a weekly flight from AFRICOM’s home base in Germany to Accra will deliver cargo to be sent out on smaller planes and trucks to the approximately 1,800 American dispersed across nearly 20 locations in West Africa, according Defense One.

Brigadier General Leonard Kosinski, head of logistics at AFRICOM, says the operation will be like a bus route carrying arms, ammunition, food, and other supplies to special  forces troops. At first, the flights will be U.S. military cargo planes supporting American personnel. But after the first year, AFRICOM hopes that African contractors, European allies, and partner nations will plug into the network.

However, the launch of this West Africa Logistics Network suggests that at least for now, AFRICOM is planning a consistent presence in the western reaches of the continent, writes Defense One senior national security correspondent Katie Bo Williams.

West Africa Attacks.

Attacks by violent extremist groups have been on the rise in West Africa. Ten U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed in a January 20 attack in northern Mali. An al-Qaeda-linked group —   Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — claimed responsibility for the attack which also wounded 25 Chadian troops when gunmen stormed the U.N. camp in Aguelhok.

Chad funeral MINUSMA

Tribute ceremony in N’Djamena for the 10 Chadian peacekeepers who were killed on 20 January in a terrorist attack in northern Mali. (United Nations mission in Mali photo)

The death toll from a February attack by gunmen in northwestern Nigeria has doubled to more than 130, Al Jazeera reported. The attack appeared to have been a deliberate plan to “wipe out certain communities,” Kaduna state Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said,  without elaborating.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Abuja, said the increase in death toll was “expected from the beginning” as 130 people had been marked as missing in the aftermath of the attack.

The attack took place the day before Nigeria was supposed to hold a presidential but electoral authorities delayed the vote by one week citing logistical challenges.

February 22, 2019 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: Mexican Border Mess

Border Brouhaha.

The wrangling in Washington over funding President Donald Trump’s planned wall along the U.S. Southwest border is over — for now.

BP SUV watches the border along Mexico. A mobile surveillance to

Border Patrol surveillance along the Mexican border in Arizona. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

Congress passed a compromise spending bill Thursday (February 14) that will prevent a second government shutdown — which Trump threatened if he did not get sufficient funding to extend a wall along the border with Mexico. The legislation, passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, allocates just $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, according to The Hill newspaper. Trump had sought $5.7 billion for hundreds of miles of concrete wall and fencing.

Trump is expected to sign the bill, however, he announced plans to use executive action declare a national state of emergency on the border to finance the wall by-passing congressional restrictions, CNN and other news outlets reported.  

Meanwhile, two Western states’ governors are pulling their National Guard troops out of a military buildup on the border begun last October. Trump’s decision to order forces to the border before the midterm elections was controversial, according to POLITICO. Both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush sent troops to the border during their presidencies.

However, on February 3, the Pentagon announced that Trump had ordered 3,750 troops to the border to join the estimated 4,350 service men and women already deployed.  In a sign of continuing skepticism of that move, POLITICO noted, California Governor  Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said he would halt the deployment of his state’s National Guard.

Marines string razor wire

Marines string concertina wire at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California in 2018.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Rubin J. Tan)

A week earlier, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she was withdrawing about 100 New Mexico National Guard troops from the border buildup, declaring there isn’t a security crisis at the state’s border.

An online petition to impeach Lujan Grisham for treason has garnered more than 30,000 signatures. But Brian Egolf, the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives says there is no way he would initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor for withdrawing all but about dozen National Guard soldiers from the border. Egolf, a Democrat like Lujan Grisham, holds the authority to initiate House investigations, CBS News reported.

February 14, 2019 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 11, 2019)

Among the Finest.

USINDOPACOM Commander Visits Nepal

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robin W. Peak)

At U.S. Pacific Command they used to say their area of responsibility stretched “from Hollywood to Bollywood” — in other words, from the waters off the U.S. Pacific Coast to the eastern shores of the Arabian Sea. Reflecting changing geopolitical considerations, however, the command’s name was changed to Indo-Pacific Command in May 2018.

In his first visit to Nepal January 10 as commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Phil Davidson, participated in an honors ceremony at the Nepali army headquarters in Kathmandu.

If the Nepali uniforms look familiar, they are similar to Britain’s famed Gurkha regiments. Since 1815, when the British Empire extended over much of the Indian subcontinent, Gurkhas — “with a reputation of being amongst the finest and most feared soldiers in the world” — have been recruited in Nepal to serve the British crown.

January 11, 2019 at 12:31 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Gatwick Drone Shutdown and other drone news

UK Drone Incursions.

Airport security continues to be a concern after rogue drone incursions shut down Britain’s second-busiest airport during the busy Christmas holiday season.

Gatwick control-tower-with-aircraft-11111(1).jpg

A passenger jet departs Gatwick Airport. (Photo copyright Gatwick Airport Limited)

Drone sightings caused chaos last month at London’s Gatwick Airport, disrupting the travel plans for tens of thousands of people. The incident led to about 1,000 flight cancellations and affected the travel of 140,000 passengers. It also revealed a vulnerability that is being scrutinized by security forces and airport operators worldwide, according to Reuters.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow airports have ordered military-grade anti-drone defenses,  worth “several million pounds,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, another drone sighting just after 5pm on January 8 caused managers at Heathrow Airport to order an emergency one-hour halt of take-off flights.

The unmanned aircraft was larger than that seen at Gatwick just before Christmas. After the drone disappeared, airport officials activated measures and equipment stationed at Heathrow aimed at neutralizing any threat to passenger planes, according to The Guardian.

The British government said all major UK airports now have or will soon have military grade anti-drone equipment, the BBC reported. That announcement came after the military were called in to help when drone sightings caused delays for around at Heathrow on Tuesday.

There were concerns after the Gatwick incident — when two drones were spotted inside the runway perimeter fence — that it terrorism might be involved, although a final determination has not been made. So far, the operators of the rogue drones have not been identified.

Like the United States, Britain has strict rules for the operation of small drones in the vicinity of an airport. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bars private drone flight within five miles of an airport. The UK limit — at least until now — has only been one kilometer of an airport. Both countries require hobbyist drone operators to keep their unmanned aircraft within their line of sight, fly no higher than 400 feet above the ground and away from people and buildings.

*** *** ***

Marines Track Base Wildlife.

Marines at Camp Pendleton, California are working with the California Air National Guard to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) during emergency operations at the installation.

Operation Wild Buck

Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Echevarria, an intelligence analyst with the 4th Marines’ 2nd Battalion launches an RQ-20B Puma drone during Operation Wild Buck (OWB) at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, December 18, 2018. ((U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Emmanuel Necoechea)

The project, named Operation Wild Buck (OWB), used two types of drones to monitor  deer populations in and around the Marine Corps base.  The first was a low-flying, hand launched and battery operated RQ-20B Puma, which was controlled on the ground at Camp Pendleton. The second UAS was a high-flying, RQ-9 Reaper, launched from Las Vegas and controlled via satellite link from March Joint Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. Both drones sent back video feeds to Camp Pendleton’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

During the operation, scouts on the ground from the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Marine Regiment passed information on wildlife back to Camp Pendleton’s EOC, where it was relayed to Puma operators from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and Reaper operators from the 196th Reconnaissance Squadron, California Air National Guard. (Read more here). (Video here).

January 10, 2019 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

LOOKING AHEAD: December defense and homeland security events

Busy December.

calendar1

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.

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

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.

 

 

November 30, 2018 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


Posts

March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Categories


%d bloggers like this: