Posts tagged ‘FAA’

Robots, ‘droids & Drones: Drone Strike Kills Iranian General; Saudi, U.S. Counter Drone Research

Drone Shot heard ’round the World.

Armed MQ-9 Reaper drone over Afghanistan

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, flies over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Pratt)

Tensions grew in the Middle East and around the world last week after a U.S. Air Force drone attack near the Baghdad airport early Friday (January 3) killed Iran’s most powerful security and intelligence commander — Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Missiles fired from a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper blew up the Soleimani’s convoy as it departed the airport. The general was the longtime leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the foreign-facing branch of the country’s powerful security apparatus, according to the New York Times.

He worked closely with Iraqi and Lebanese allies, nurturing proxy forces to form a Shiite axis of power throughout the region. His profile rose amid the fight to prop up President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and later the fight against the Islamic State, the Times noted.

President Donald Trump said he ordered the killing of the Iranian general “to stop a war,” not start one, but in the tense aftermath the Pentagon braced for retaliation by sending more troops to the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. Democrats in Congress and numerous leaders around the world — especially American allies in Europe and Middle East worried that the strike made war more likely.

In Baghdad, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the American drone strike, which also killed an Iraqi general who was deputy commander of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, the AP noted.

The Reaper — a remotely piloted aircraft in Air Force parlance — is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance drone that is primarily an attack aircraft but it also can perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as close air support, combat search and rescue and convoy or raid overwatch.

The Reaper is a bigger, more powerful version of the MQ-1 Predator drone, which it replaced in July 2017. Both aircraft are manufactured by California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

America’s use of weaponized drones began after 9/11, expanded during Barack Obama’s presidency and appears to have increased further still under Trump, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper. In March 2019, Trump revoked the Obama-era policy which required intelligence officials to disclose the number of people killed in drone strikes on terrorist targets outside war zones, according to NBC News.

On Thursday (January 9), the House of Representatives approved a war powers resolution with a vote of 224-194 that calls for limiting the White House’s ability to direct combat actions against Iran. Three only Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the resolution, which now goes to the Senate, CNN reported.

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Saudi Counter Drone System.

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) is working on a new national counter-dronesystem, according Defense News.  The new system — under development with international partners – seeks to address asymmetric threats to the country and protect critical infrastructure and domestic military bases.

Drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in September. The current air defense systems were unable to stop the assault.

The new system is in the testing stage and is expected to be rolled out in the near term, said SAMI’s chief executive officer, Andreas Schwer.  told Defense News. The C-drone system will have the options to thwart all types of drones from very small ones to the professional militarized threats, he added.

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F-16 Shoots Down Drone.

An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet recently shot down a targeting test drone, successfully demonstrating shooting a small drone at low altitudes, Air Force Magazine reports.

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(Screenshot from U.S. Air Force video by 1st Lieutenant Savanah Bray)

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, conducted the December 19 test. The AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket was originally developed for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a low-cost, low-collateral weapon. By adapting the rocket for cruise missile defense, it can serve the same role as the much more expensive AIM-120 missile, according to the Air Force release.

“The test was unprecedented and will shape the future of how the Air Force executes CMD [counter missile defense],” said Colonel Ryan Messer, commander of the 53d Wing at Eglin.

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FAA, FBI Investigate Drone Swarms.

Speaking of shooting down drones, law enforcement agencies in Colorado and Nebraska  warned residents — alarmed and annoyed by mysterious swarms of drones flying at night — that shooting a drone out of the sky would be a crime, the New York Times reports.

Since mid-December, sheriff’s departments in the border area of the three states have been flooded with at least 30 reports of nighttime drone sightings, according to CBS News. Groups of a dozen or more machines, sometimes flying in formation, have been reported. The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Air Force have been called to investigate the drone swarms. While there is a lot of speculation, no one seems to know who owns or has been operating them, according to the Times.

The sightings come just as the FAA has announced new regulations that would make it easier for law enforcement to identify and track drones.

January 9, 2020 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

LOOKING AHEAD: Upcoming Defense and Homeland Security events

JANUARY 2019

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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

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: FAA Issues Proposed Rules for Commercial Drone Flight

Better Late Than Never.

Small UAS in Alaska (Courtesy of University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

Small UAS in Alaska
(Courtesy of University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

Seven weeks past a congressional deadline, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued proposed rules for the use of unmanned aircraft in commercial operations such as monitoring crops, inspecting infrastructure like bridges and smokestacks and filming television programs and movies.

The FAA announcement Sunday (February 15) doesn’t mean small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will delivering pizza or books to your home anytime soon. “What we are releasing today is a proposed rule,” cautioned FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. In a conference call with reporters Huerta added: “Today’s action does not authorize wide spread commercial use of unmanned aircraft. That can only happen when the rule is final.” In the meantime, he noted, commercial operators must still go through the current process for a waiver or exemption to fly.

And that process, which can take many months to complete, has limited the number of business and institutions — including police and other emergency responders — that can fly UAS.

The proposed rules apply only to unmanned aircraft under 55 pounds (25 kilograms). If approved, they would limit commercial UAS flights to daylight hours on days with a visibility of three miles from where the operator is. Other limitations: a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour (87 knots) and a maximum altitude of 500 fee above the ground. The idea is to keep small drones, which aren’t required to have sense and avoid technology like that on manned aircraft, out of the way of commercial planes which usually fly at higher altitudes. The rules also would require the operator to maintain line of sight control of the aircraft. In other words, no autonomous flight out of the operator’s sight (whether it be over the horizon or just behind a hill or building). Operators would not have to obtain a pilot’s license, but would be required to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center and then pass a recurring aero knowledge test every 24 months. Operators must be a minimum of 17-years-old and would also have to be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (a unit of the Homeland Security Department).

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is to be published in the Federal Register and can be found here. Additional information is on the FAA website. In addition to the 60-day period where the public can comment on the proposed rules, the agency said it would hold public meetings at the six FAA-approved UAS test sites around the country.

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February 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: FAA Picks Six Test Sites to Integrate Drones into U.S. Airspace

A Good Start

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees private and commercial aircraft operations, has chosen six sites to test the best ways for introducing unmanned aircraft into the crowded National Airspace.

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The sites are located in six states: Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Virginia and Texas. The entities – three universities, an aiport and two state governments were all picked for their climate, research facilities and air traffic conditions. “In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs,” the FAA said.

Congress has ordered the FAA to develop a program for the safe introduction of commercial unmanned aircraft, usually known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS – although most people call them drones – into the already crowded National Airspace System by 2015.

Currently only government, industrial and academic UAV operators are allowed to fly them in highly restricted air zones — mostly for research — once they have received a certificate of authorization (COA). The COAs limit when and where they can fly their drones. Hobbyists may fly a small UAS no higher than 300 feet above ground and must always maintain visual contact with the drone. No commercial drone activity is allowed at this time although proponents say they would be useful for monitoring traffic during a mass evacuation, crops and livestock, wild animal migration, forest fires, oil and gas pipelines, Arctic sea ice and emergency response operations.

As we noted in November, the FAA has issued its initial plans, or roadmap, for integrating UAS into U.S. skies, but the process is expected to take 15 years.

UAS supporters worry that the outrage raised by U.S. drone strikes against militants and terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere — that have led to civilian casualties — has made the American public leery of drones flying overhead. There is also concern about privacy and other civil rights being violated by a camera-equipped UAS flown by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. That worry is largely driven by last summer’s revelations of covert cell phone and email meta data gathering by the National Security Agency.

So the Aerospace States Association, the American Civil Liberties Association and other groups have developed suggested guidelines for state laws concerning drones that will protect civil liberties without pulling the plug on an industry with the potential  to create thousands of jobs and add billions of dollars to the national economy.

AUVSI Unmanned Vehicles 2013 conference. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

AUVSI Unmanned Vehicles 2013 conference.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

And the companies that provide services ranging from translators to aircraft for humanitarian aid and relief  organizations are exploring how UAS might help them with security and finding refugees or survivors of natural and man-made disasters in undeveloped countries, according to the programs and operations director of the International Stability Operations Association.

December 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment


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