Posts filed under ‘Unmanned Systems’

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 (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

Missile Defense: Latest North Korean Missile Launch Increases Threat.

Raising the Stakes.

After more than 20 years spent focusing on global terrorism and counterinsurgency, the United States and its allies are confronting the Cold War threat of nuclear missile attack again.

FRIFO EXTRA-dAKOTA MISSILES 8-21-2015

North Korea launched another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test this week (July 4) and it’s getting a lot of attention, analysts say, because the missile was powerful enough to reach Alaska.

The United States detected the ICBM and tracked it for 37 minutes, the longest time of flight for any ballistic missile North Korea has launched to date, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The ICBM launched from North Korea’s Banghyon Airfield, which is about 62 miles from Pyongyang, said the spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis. The North Korean missile landed in the Sea of Japan.

U.S. Army-ROK launch missiles July 2017

An M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System from U.S. Army’s 18th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, fires an MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile into the Sea of Japan on July 5, 2017. In the foreground, two mobile carriers prepare to launch South Korean Hyunmoo II missiles.  (Army photo)

The U.S. and South Korean military launched their own missile tests Wednesday (July 5). The exercise utilized the Eighth U.S. Army’s Tactical Missile System and South Korean Hyunmoo II missiles. U.S. and South Korean personnel fired missiles into territorial waters along South Korea’s east coast.

Officials said the missile launches demonstrated the combined deep strike capabilities which allow the South Korean-U.S. alliance to neutralize hostile threats and aggression against South Korea, the United States and other allies.

In Poland on Thursday (July 6), President Donald Trump said the time has arrived to confront North Korea.  “I don’t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” Trump said, the Associated Press reported. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to do them,” Trump added.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters in Washington Thursday July 6 that the U.S. military stands ready to provide Trump with options, but that diplomatic and economic efforts remain the tools of choice to convince North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile programs, according to DoD News.

“The president’s been very clear, and secretary of state’s been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts,” Mattis said during an impromptu news conference in the Pentagon. “The military remains ready in accordance with our alliance with Japan, with Korea,” he added. The North Korean launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4 is a very serious escalation and provocation, Mattis said, and also an affront to the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Just last month, Mattis told the Senate Armed services committee that the “most urgent and dangerous threat” to peace and security is “North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.”

Your 4GWAR editor addressed North Korea’s belligerence and other threats for an upcoming integrated air and missile defense conference. To read more about missile threats facing the United States and its allies, click here.

 

July 6, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 29, 2017)

Tilt-rotor mission.

FRIFO 6-30-2017 Ospreys

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Amy Phan)

Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft fly in formation off the coast of Sydney, Australia on June 29, 2017. The aircraft are assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265.

To see a video of the Osprey in action, day or night, land or sea, click here.

June 30, 2017 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

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

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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