Posts filed under ‘Technology’

FRIDAY FOTO (January 18, 2019)

Sending a “Stinging” Message.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

Here we have “before and after” photos of a Stinger anti-aircraft missile launch. In the first, we see Marine Corps Provate First Class Scout Mohrman testing  Stinger during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California on January 14, 2019.

In the photo below, we see the same weapon, same day, same place — same photographer — but a different Marine, Private First Class Joshua English. as the Stinger leaves the launch tube.

Stinger Missile Exercise

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rachel K. Young)

The Stinger, a Cold War weapon that is making a come-back with the U.S. military, is part of a group of anti-aircraft weapons known as Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or  MANPADS.  After the Soviet Union invadede Afghanistan, the United States supplied anti-Soviet Afghan insurgents with Stingers.  Between 1986 and 1989, Afghan forces used the missiles to down an estimated 269 aircraft and helicopters. (See video clip  from the 2007 motion picture Charlie Wilson’s War) Many Stingers, however, remained unaccounted for after the conflict despite U.S. efforts to have unused missiles returned to U.S. control. Some of the missiles made it into the international black market and the hands of terrorists.

After the 9/11 attacks, the proliferation of Stingers and other shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons was by the U.S. State Department as a “serious potential threat to global civilian aviation,” 4GWAR reported numerous times. Those concerns sparked both efforts to collect and destroy unsecured stockpiles of portable anti-aircraft missiles as well as industry efforts to equip commercial aircraft with counter MANPADS technologies.

With the rise of unmanned aircraft technology, security concerns have shifted to inadvertent or malicious drone interference with civil aviation.

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January 18, 2019 at 1:36 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.

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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: Upcoming Defense and Homeland Security events

JANUARY 2019

calendar1

CYBER

Dawn of the Code War

John P. Carlin, Former Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; and John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division discuss responses to national security threats in cyberspace.

January 15, 2019, 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington

LATIN AMERICA

How to Deal with Venezuela’s Mafia State-post January 10

An armchair discussion about the international community’s policy options in responding to Venezuela’s mafia state. Nicolas Maduro is set to be sworn in as president although the 2018 elections were widely considered to be unfree and unfair. Speakers – including former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Nicholas Brownfield and former National Security Council director for South America, Fernando Kutz — will discuss the political, diplomatic and legal implications post-January 10th and how the international community should respond.

January 11, 2019, 10:30 am to noon

Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington

FEBRUARY 2019

SPECIAL OPERATIONS

NDIA SO/LIC Symposium

Information warfare, weapons of mass destruction, artificial intelligence, robotics and rapid acquisition will be among the tactics at the National Defense Industry Association’s  (NDIA) 30th annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium.

February 5-7, 2019

Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport, Arlington, Va.

MILITARY AVIATION

International Military Helicopter

IQPC’s conference will bring government and private sector interests  together to define future threats, including the need to develop capabilities to counter the growing electronic warfare threat, increasing survivability and assessing the operational requirements of platforms.

February 5-7, 2019

Park Plaza London Victoria, London, United Kingdom

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UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

FAA UAS Symposium 2019

The FAA is bringing stakeholders together from all sectors to help define the rules and concepts — including safety issues — that will govern the future of drone (unmanned aircraft systems) operations.

February 12-14, 2019

Baltimore Convention Center

January 6, 2019 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 4, 2019)

Combat Light Show.

Night Fire

(U.S. Army photo by Army Captain Johnathan Leigh)

Like some modernistic painting, this December 20, 2018 photo shows soldiers conducting a night fire mission while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

As Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman reportedly said: “A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets.”

January 4, 2019 at 10:57 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 7, 2018)

Narrow Margin.

FRI FO 12-7-2018 Hornets Elevator

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant G. Grady)

If you ever wondered how they get Navy fighter jets to and from an aircraft carrier flight deck, this is how they do it — carefully.  Note the roiled waters below indicate the flat top is in motion during this everyday — but still hazardous — operation.

We assume these two F/A-18E Super Hornets are on their way up to the flight deck from the hangar deck since the accompanying caption supplied by the Navy said the sailors were guiding the 24-ton (when fully-loaded) multi-role fighters onto an aircraft elevator.

To get a sense of how quickly these elevators move, check out this short YouTube video from a carrier (USS Abraham Lincoln) tied up in port. To see the process for loading, securing and raising aircraft — while at sea — click here.

This FRIDAY FOTO was taken December 3, 2018 aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the Indian Ocean.

December 7, 2018 at 12:33 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 30, 2018)

Underwater Promotion.

FRI FO test 11-30-2018

(NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory photo)

Army astronauts Colonel Andrew “Drew” Morgan (left) and Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain prepare to be promoted to their current ranks while underwater following required training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas.

This photo was taken in September, but now Lieutenant Colonel McClain is in Star City, Russia, preparing for a December 3 launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.

“I am so happy that I’m going to have six months in space,” McClain — who is part of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s small astronaut detachment — said during an early November teleconference press briefing. “We’re not just going to space to visit, we’re going to go there to live.”

A West Point graduate, test pilot and combat helicopter pilot, McClain was selected for NASA’s human spaceflight program in 2013, along with fellow West Pointer, Colonel Morgan, a medical doctor, Special Forces emergency physician and former Army parachutist and skydiver.  His space mission is slated for launch in July.

If her launch goes as planned, McClain will be the first active-duty Army officer in space since 2010. Her three-person crew is expected to launch from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft and rocket.

“Feeling the thrust of the rocket is going to be something that I am really looking forward to,” she said. “It is going to be a completely new experience.” McClain, 39, of Spokane, Washington, will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 58/59.

While her crew prepares to lift off on a rocket similar to one that suffered a malfunction October 11 — triggering an automatic abort and emergency landing, McClain says she’s not worried. The Soyuz rocket, she noted, has had an amazing track record. Before last month’s incident, the rocket’s previous aborted mission was in 1983.

“I saw that October 11 incident, not as a failure, but as an absolute success,” she said. “What this really proved was that the Russian launch abort system is a really great design and for that reason we have that backup plan.

McClain’s crew also received a debriefing from both astronauts in the aborted mission — Air Force Colonel Nick Hague and his Russian counterpart, Alexey Ovchinin.

November 30, 2018 at 6:15 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

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