Posts tagged ‘air defense’

DROIDS & DRONES: Medical Supply Test; Euro Drone Swarms; More Pumas for DHS

Testing Medical Supply Drones.

The U.S. Marine Corps, in conjunction with California drone maker Zipline, has been testing unmanned aircraft as combat zone delivery systems for medical supplies.

Zipline partnered with the Defense Department and Naval Medical Research Center to deploy its drones during four multinational military exercises in Australia this past summer (July 30 to September 5). Zipline made more than 400 deliveries, including mock blood resupplies to shock trauma platoons, MSNBC reported.

The Defense Department’s innovation unit came to the drone company because of its success transporting medical supplies by drone in the African countries of Rwanda and Ghana.

Zipline drone parachute

A Zipline drone-delivered package carrying three units of blood drifts to the ground. (Photo: courtesy Zipline).

The autonomous, fixed wing, catapult-launched drones made hundreds of deliveries of blood and other medical supplies in small parachute bundles dropped at their destinations. All told, they flew 461 day and night sorties and made 381 drops. It was the first time a U.S. Marine Air-Ground Task Force had incorporated autonomous drone delivery into their high availability, disaster recovery planning, according to the Defense One website.

It was not the first time the Marines have used drones for cargo delivery. Two unmanned K-MAX helicopters flew nearly 1,000 cargo missions in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2015. The Marines are still using the K-MAXes, which are currently being fitted with more autonomous capabilities. However, the Zipline drones offer a new realm of delivery options compared to a 3-ton K-MAX helicopter. The relatively small, fixed-wing Zipline drones, with a wingspan of around seven feet and a payload of just 4.5 pounds, can’t fly as fast or carry as much as the K-Max. But they are easier to load and operate, allowing them to make a lot more drops than the K-MAX, according to Defense One.

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Navy’s China Lake is expanding for future weapons, drones.

Despite two major earthquakes that struck California’s China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in early July, the Navy is moving ahead with expansion plans at the massive facility to accommodate new and future weaponry, including unmanned aerial vehicles,

The Navy has acquired more than 33,00 acres of public lands abutting China Lake’s  South Range, which houses the Weapons Division’s electronic warfare range complex.  The expansion would boost operations at China Lake’s vast land range complex by 25 percent, reports  U.S. Naval Institute News.

China Lake, 150 miles north of Los Angeles, is the Navy’s largest single landholding. Its vast weapons ranges and laboratories support a significant amount of military weapons research, development, testing and operations, according to USNI News.

However, it’s also in a seismically active region. The major earthquakes that struck on July 5 caused more than $4 billion in damages to facilities and infrastructure that affect some operations and will take years to restore.

Gremlins DARPA concept art

DARPA Gremlins program concept art. (Courtesy DARPA)

Among the operations affected was an initial demonstration flight for an air-launch-and-recovered swarming drone concept that had been planned for September. Dynetics, Inc., a science and technology firm based in Alabama, expected its initial flight test of the Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) to occur last month. The test of the small, reusable unmanned vehicles operating with a C-130 transport aircraft is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Gremlins program under a $38.6 million contract for the demonstration phase, USNI NEWS reported.

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Europeans to study self learning drone swarms.

A European consortium is pitching the idea of training intelligent drone swarms to confuse, disable and destroy an enemy’s air defenses.

The proposal is part of the Prepartory Action on Defence Research effort by the European Union to improve collaboration on drones among member states. Participating countries are Finland, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria.

The idea behind “SEAD Swarm” — which stands for “suppresion of enemy air defenses” — is to create necessary algorithms that would enable a mass of aerial drones to inspect the characteristics of air defense systems, distribute the information within the swarm and derive a plan of attack against weak points, according to Defense News. Actions taken could include blinding radar sensors, overwhelming anti-aircraft fire with kamikaze-type tactics, or attacking sites with explosive or electronic-warfare payloads.

If adopted by the EU, Defense News said, participating countries of would detail military officials to an advisory board to help ensure the planned simulations reflect real-world combat situations.

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Pentagon: Chinese drones for target practice only

The Pentagon says Chinese-manufactured drones it purchased months after their use was prohibited because of cybersecurity concerns are being used only as “targets” and are not being deployed with elite U.S. forces on missions.

Last month an investigation by the VOA website revealed the U.S. Air Force and the Navy had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drones made by market-leader Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) for some of the military’s most sensitive and secretive operators — including the Air Force’s only special tactics wing and Navy SEAL teams.

In each case, the Pentagon said, the services used special exemptions granted by the the Defense Department’s acquisition and sustainment office “on a case by case basis, to support urgent needs.”

Many in Congress the Pentagon’s continued use of Chinese-manufactured drones as a possible security leak risk. Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee also included a provision in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act banning the use of Chinese-made drones.

Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters October 18 that her office wrote the waivers in order to use the drones “on ranges in highly controlled conditions,” to test the U.S. military’s counterdrone capabilities.

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Border Patrol Drone Contract to AeroVironment

The U.S. Border Patrol has awarded a $5.25 million firm fixed-price contract award for AeroVironment Puma 3  unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and support equipment.

Delivery is anticipated by January, 2020 for the man-portable, fixed wing UAS, which is designed for land and maritime operations.

PUMA Border Patrol

The U.S. Border Patrol, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, will use the man-launched Puma 3 AE small unmanned aircraft system to extend its reach to remote border areas. (Photo courtesy AeroVironment)

Easy to transport, deploy and operate, the Puma system can be launched from anywhere, at any time, and requires no additional infrastructure, such as runways or launch devices.  The AeroVironment Puma flies for hours in the most extreme environments while producing high-resolution, continuous or on-demand spot surveillance of critical land and sea border areas at any time of the day or night.

October 24, 2019 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: Brazil, Colombia, Chile

Brazil: May Buy Russian Air Defense System

Brazil: CIA World Factbook

Brazil: CIA World Factbook

Brazil’s Defense Ministry says it will recommend that the government buy anti-aircraft and air defense systems from Russia, Reuters reports. According to a statement on its website, the Defense Ministry said it would present a proposal to President Dilma Rouseff for her approval.

Gen. Jose Carlos De Nardi, chief of staff of Brazil’s Armed Forces, said Brazil is interested inacquiring three batteries of medium level Pantsir-S1 missiles and two batteries of Igla missiles.

According to Pravda, De Nardi headed a Brazilian delegation that visited Russia last month to discuss the arms purchase. The deal is expected to be signed later this month when Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits Brazil. Part of the deal would be a technology transfer allowing Brazil to make and sell the missile systems in Latin America.

And the Moscow Times reports that Medvedev’s deputy, Dmitry Rogozin, says Russia would be interested in starting a long-term military partnership with Brazil.

We told you last month that Brazil, the world’s 6th largest economy has been building up its military capabilities as part of a defense strategy to safeguard its borders, offshore oil fields and the Amazon basin from foreign intrusion. That buildup has drawn several foreign defense contractors like France’s DCNS, America’s Boeing and Sweden’s Saab to bid for Bazil’s business.

Colombia: FARC Rebels Propose Legalizing Coca, Marijuana Crops

Colombia and Venezuela: Wikipedia image

Colombia and Venezuela: Wikipedia image

The rebel group that has been waging war against Colombia’s government since the 1960s has come up with a novel idea for land reform: legalizing some of the cash crops that can be turned into illegal narcotics, the BBC reports.

The guerrillas’ proposal came during ongoing peace talks in Cuba with the Colombian government. The chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by the acronym FARC, said legalization of drug crops like poppy, coca and marijuana should be considered for therapeutic, industrial or cultural reasons. Land reform and ending drug trafficking have been two key topics at the negotiations

Chile: Not Exactly a Sea Chanty

Chile and "friends"CIA World factbook

Chile and “friends”
CIA World factbook

Embarrassed officials in Chile are promising a swift investigation into a viral video showing Chilean naval cadets chanting they will kill opponents in three neighboring nations — they are not at war with.

According to CNN, the video shows the cadets repeating the cadence of their instructor: “Argentineans I will kill; Bolivians I will shoot; Peruvians I’ll behead” as they run through the streets. Historically, Chile has had prickly relationships with its neighbors — like Bolivia whose seacoast Chile seized in a 19th Century war, the BBC reported.

Click on all of the maps to enlarge the image.




February 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

LIBYA: U.S. Response — So Far (UPDATE)

Debating a Libyan ‘No Fly Zone”

The heads of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps confirmed today that two Navy amphibious warfare ships with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) have been stationed in the Mediterranean Sea close enough to Libya to take action if ordered by the White House.

Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, said 400 Marines of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment have joined troops of the 26th MEU aboard the the U.S.S. Kearsarge and the U.S.S. Ponce. But he and Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said no plans for an immediate intervention have been made. In fact, they both pointed  out the logistical difficulties in imposing a No Fly Zone over Libya at a Senate hearing.

The USS Kearsarge and her V-22 helicopters. (U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley)

Answering questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Amos said the ships are equipped with AV-8B Harrier jump jets, attack and cargo helicopters, including V-22 Osprey tilt rotor helos, and landing craft.

Roughead, added that the vessels are equipped with missiles that can strike land targets, as well as medical teams and operating room facilities. “They’re quite well-loaded with humanitarian assistance supplies,” Roughead told the panel.

Amos said the ships and Marines are equipped to handle everything from “a raid, an amphibious assault to non-combat evacuation.”

But both commanders were reluctant to say creating a No Fly Zone over Libya would be relatively easy. The U.S. and other western nations as well as the United Nations and Arab states are divided over the wisdom of a No Fly Zone, according to Reuters.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the committee got Amos to acknowledge Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi’s air defenses are “modest.” The top Marine said the “greatest threat” was probably Libyan helicopters. McCain, who along with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), has been advocating imposition of a No Fly Zone to prevent Qaddafi’s forces from attacking rebels and civilians in the eastern part of the country. The CBC and others report air attacks have blunted advances by rebels seeking to to topple Qaddafi, who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years.

McCain prodded Amos into confirming that Qaddafi’s air defense systems were mostly older Soviet-style surface-to-air missiles, at four air bases in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

But Amos said success for the warring Libyan parties relies on more than control of the airspace. “I think it’s more than aviation. It’s complicated,” Amos said.

A Harrier descending for a landing. (USMC photo By Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon)

No one is saying a No Fly Zone is uncomplicated,” Lieberman during his turn questioning the Navy and Marine Corps leaders.

Roughead said there was no military-to-military communication between the U.S. and the Libyan rebels. He added that the aircraft aboard the Kearsarge and Ponce do not have the electronic warfare (EW) technology like that can jam Libyan air defense systems. The closest ship with EW-equipped aircraft is the carrier U.S.S. Enterprise currently in the Red Sea and there are no plans to shift the Big E to the Mediterranean, he said.

Roughead added that the Pentagon was monitoring the Libyan situation closely. Asked if the U.S. was flying round-the-clock surveillance flights over Libya, he replied: “We have been monitoring the fighting through a variety of means.

Before any action could take place, Roughead said a number of questions would have to be answered, such as what forces would be used to maintain the No Fly Zone, where would they be based and what were the rules of engagement. “We’ve done No Fly Zones before,” said the CNO, adding: “Significant infrastructure is required.”

Although the Senate last week unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose a No Fly Zone, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been reluctant to get the U.S. military involved in another Middle Eastern country’s internal affairs.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia), a former Navy Secretary in the Reagan administration, said today that he agreed with Gates’ concerns. “I, for one, think it’s not a good idea to give weapons and support to people you don’t know,” he  said.

March 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment


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