Posts tagged ‘MQ-9 Reaper’

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: SOCOM Seeks Small Counter-Drone Tool; Russia Says it Killed Drone with Laser; Marines Want More Reapers

DEFENSE: Updates with Russian Drone-Killer Laser Claim.

Special Ops Counter Drone Needs.

U.S. special operations forces are looking for a small device that can neutralize drone threats by land, air and sea.

Special Operations Command’s program office for counterproliferation has been focusing on finding a smaller technology package that can jam radio frequencies, to thwart roadside bombs — and counter unmanned aircraft system (UAS) attacks, Defense News, reports from the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida earlier this week (May 16-19).

Early counter-drone technology experimentation 2018. Marines test Drone Killer Technology during Urban Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2018 (ANTX-18) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Rhita Daniel)

While the current focus is on aerial threats, the counter-UAS program office is looking for ground and maritime counter-drone options as well.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) oversees Navy SEALS, Army Green Berets, Marine Raiders among other elite units, including the acquisition and development of specialized platforms and technologies.

The counter-UAS office is looking for next-generation, multimission electronic countermeasure gear that is both portable and operable from fixed expeditionary sites. The Marine Corps and SOCOM have an existing system called Modi, made by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and used by the Army and Marines. The current dismounted system weighs 40 pounds.

The next-gen version needs to hit unmanned threat across the land, sea and air domains — and be more portable. The office may select a system by fiscal 2024 and begin production in fiscal 2025.

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Russia Claims It’s Using Counter-Drone Laser 

Russia says it is using a new generation of powerful lasers in Ukraine to burn up drones, deploying some of Moscow’s secret weapons to counter a flood of Western arms.

Little is known about the new laser. Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned one in 2018 called Peresvet, named after a medieval Orthodox warrior monk Alexander Peresvet who perished in mortal combat.

Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development, told a conference in Moscow May 18 that Peresvet was already being widely deployed and it could blind satellites up to 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) above Earth, Reuters reported.

He said there were already more powerful systems than Peresvet that could burn up drones and other equipment. Borisov cited a test on May 17 which he said had burned up a drone 5 km (31 miles) away within five seconds.

“If Peresvet blinds, then the new generation of laser weapons lead to the physical destruction of the target – thermal destruction, they burn up,” Borisov told Russian state television, according to Reuters.

Asked if such weapons were being used in Ukraine, Borisov said: “Yes. The first prototypes are already being used there.” He said the weapon was called “Zadira.”

U.S. defense authorities and military experts say Moscow’s claim about the new laser has not been substantiated. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has mocked the claim, according to the Washington Post.

A retired Australian army major general, Mick Ryan, who has been studying the Russian invasion, told the Post that weapons like Zadira could take down reconnaissance drones or Ukrainian artillery. It could also be used to blind Ukrainian soldiers, a tactic that is banned under international convention, he added.

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Marines Want More Reapers.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marine Corps’ commandant says the service will expand its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones to meet growing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs, your 4GWAR editor wrote for the SEAPOWER magazine website.

“We’re going to move from three squadrons right now to perhaps double that,” General David Berger told an audience at the Modern Day Marine exposition. “And the reason why is the need for organic ISR.”

The Marine Corps’ first MQ-9A completed 10,000 flight hours in support of Marine Corps Forces, Central Command operations on March 31, 2021. (Photo U.S. Marine Corps).

The MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft can stay aloft for more than 26 hours, attain air speeds of 220 knots and can operate to an altitude of 45,000 feet. Manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the Reaper has a 3,850-pound payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds of external stores. It provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance capability with full-motion video and synthetic aperture radar.

Berger said that ISR needs were increasingly critical for Marine Corps units, large and small. “So absolutely, we’re going to expand in Group 5, large-scale, big-wing, medium-altitude, long-endurance, uncrewed aircraft. That’s so we can have, for the naval force, persistent organic ISR access from the MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] level on down to the squad level,” he said.

May 19, 2022 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Navy and Marine Corps Unmanned Vision; Mixed Manned, Unmanned Naval Exercise

DEFENSE.

Navy, Marines’ Unmanned Vision.

The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, one of several unmanned systems Navy leaders say help extend the reach and capabilities of the fleet. (U.S. AIR FORCE photo by Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr).

The top commanders of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps say the increased deployment of unmanned air and maritime systems will help extend the reach and intelligence capabilities of the Fleet and the Force.

It could also sow uncertainty among peer competitors, like China and Russia, according to SEAPOWER magazine.

The Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday told a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing that in the future, the Navy will field the Fleet in a distributed manner. And that, he said, “will allow us to come at — let’s say China or Russia — at many vectors across many domains.” In other words, the increased number of ships — some with a crew and some being controlled remotely or running autonomously — would force adversaries to spread their resources and be on guard everywhere, all the time.

When the Navy and Marine Corps released their Unmanned Campaign Plan in March, some in Congress said it was light on details. At the June 14 Armed Services hearing, Chairman Adam Smith (D-Washington) asked Gilday and Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger to explain how unmanned systems will help them perform their mission.

With unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Berger said, the the Marines expect help with intelligence collection, logistics and and command and control, in short, he said the ability to move information laterally within Marine units and back to the Joint Force commander.

The Marines are transitioning to a mixed capability of long-range ship and ground-based unmanned aerial systems (UAS) including the MQ-9 Reaper, (see photo above). “This will significantly expand our ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities and will enable us to better support the Fleet and the joint force operational commander, including anti-submarine warfare.”

Gilday noted that the Navy had recently completed its largest unmanned exercise on the West Coast, with unmanned undersea, surface and air systems operating with manned surface ships. The Navy also had the first successful refueling of an F/A-18 Super Hornet from an MQ-25 drone. The Navy also saw the third voyage of more than 4,000-miles — from the Gulf Coast, through the Panama Canal to California — by an unmanned surface vessel operating autonomously 98 percent of the time.

To read the whole story, click here.

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After Action Report.

Speaking of that big West Coast exercise with both manned and unmanned vessels and aircraft, the Navy has concluded its after-action review, according to the Office of Naval Research.

Led by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 21 (IBP21), was held from April 19-26 in San Diego, California.

During IBP21, numerous multi-domain unmanned platforms — including unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs) — were put into real-world, “blue-water” environments, working in sync with manned platforms in actual combat drills designed to support Pacific Fleet objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Large-scale exercises such as IBP21 are critical for the Navy and Marine Corps to make the transition to a hybrid manned-unmanned force in the future,” the Chief of Naval Research, Rear Admiral Lorin Selby said. “These demonstrations ensure what works in theory will work in the fleet—in an environment that is messier, dirtier and wetter than a lab. They also allow us to get valuable feedback from the Sailors and Marines themselves,” he added.

The purpose of IBP21 was to explore a variety of questions about how unmanned systems can be incorporated into fleet operations. For example: How can unmanned and manned systems work together effectively in diverse warfighting scenarios? How can you integrate unmanned systems seamlessly into existing platforms? What is the best way to train Sailors and Marines to use such complex, evolving technologies?

So far, according to SEAPOWER, major takeaways from IBP21 include:

Unmanned systems are resilient, enable better beyond-line-of-sight targeting, and improve battlespace awareness and command and control.

They also provide significant advantages in ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and Targeting and Fires capabilities, without creating additional risks to the mission or warfighters. The result—more effective offensive and defensive postures.

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INDUSTRY

From General Atomics

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. completed initial flight tests of a new brushless generator system in May on a company-owned Gray Eagle Extended Range (GE-ER) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

The tests at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizonna, mark an important milestone towards upgrading the GE-ER fleet with generators that will significantly improve reliability and dramatically reduce platform sustainment costs. The new generator also provides electrical power to support expanding mission scenarios for the UAS.

The new generator performed aircraft ground and flight tests for over 44 hours testing up to maximum electrical power output across the full GE-ER flight envelope and at engine power levels from idle up to maximum rated thrust.

The brushless generator is designed as a drop-in replacement for the current alternator to help make the upgrade seamless for maintainers in the field. The brushless design eliminates scheduled depot service for brush replacement every 300 hours on the current alternator, reducing depot, shipping, and spare inventory costs. The new generator system can provide up to 14 kilowatts of power – more than a 50 percent increase over current system – and provide up to 10 kilowatts for sensors and payloads required for flight in a Multi-Domain Operations environment.

***

From Schiebel

Austrian drone manufactuer, Schiebel, says the Finnish Border Guard is once again operating its CAMCOPTER S-100 for icoast guard functions in the Baltic Sea.

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is offered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Based at a coast guard station in Hanko, Finland, the CAMCOPTER S-100 is carrying out Coast Guard functions, such as
maritime border surveillance, search and rescue, monitoring and surveillance, ship and port security, vessel traffic monitoring, environmental protection and response, ship casualty assistance — as well as accident and disaster response.

Information collected in the Baltic Sea from the on-board RPAS system is shared with multiple Member States, allowing for a common maritime picture and more comprehensive coordination. The operations will continue until end of July.

Two other CAMCOPTER S-100 operations for EMSA are being carried out in Estonia and Romania for maritime surveillance.

June 24, 2021 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Bigger Switchblade; Iran says its the I-Spy; USAF Test Team- Operated Drone Sortie and more.

Drones.

Big, Bad Little Drone.

California unmanned aircraft maker AeroVironment has developed a bigger, badder version of Switchblade, its man-portable, tube-launched, loitering small aerial missile system, according to SEAPOWER magazine.

Artist’s rendering of AeroVironment Switchblade 600 loitering missile. (Image courtsey of AeroVironment)

The new Switchblade 600 has greater capabilities for engaging larger, hardened targets — including light armored vehicles — with multi-purpose anti-armor ammunition at longer distances, than the original Switchblade — now called Switchblade 300.

Both versions of the small loitering missile — also known as loitering munition — are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed to engage targets on the ground and beyond line-of-sight with an explosive warhead. When Switchblade was first developed back in 2011 some called the small UAV, which was built for a one-way mission, a kamikaze drone.

While launched from a tube like a mortar shell, Switchblade can “loiter” in the air for an extended period of time before striking, giving the operator time to decide when and what to attack.

An unarmed variant of Switchblade, Blackwing, provides rapid-response intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. For the U.S. Navy, Blackwing provides a low-cost, submarine-launched drone that can provide intelligence in access-denied areas. Blackwing can be launched from surface vessels and unmanned underwater vehicles, as well as submerged submarines.

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Iranian drones.

Iran says its drones shadowed the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in the Strait of Hormuz in late September, but the U.S. Navy says it ain’t so.

Though the Iranians posted drone images of the Nimitz transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Navy officials say there have been no unsafe interactions with their forces in that strategic waterway since April, Navy Times reports.

The Nimitz and its strike group transited the strait and arrived on station September 18, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said. She would not comment, however, on the images posted by Iranian media and tweeted by INTELSky, a military aircraft tracking site. But she did say the carrier began launching flight operations over Syria and Iraq that day.

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Air Force Drones.

The U.S. Air Force says it has successfully tested team operation of a single MQ-9 Reaper drone from various locations.

An MQ-9 Reaper, with laser guided munitions and Hellfire missiles, flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

During a recent exercise at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, in California, the Air Force tested whether airmen at multiple ground locations could coordinate and execute the same short trip by a single MQ-9. The result proved that numerous airmen can operate the drone during its mission, according to Lieutenant Colonel Brian Davis, commander of the 29th Attack Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, in New Mexico.

The same exercise tested whether the Air Force could use a slimmed-down profile of personnel, fuel and equipment to conduct full-scale MQ-9 operations and it could,  Davis said.

“I can now take my capability and move it,” Davis said in a video interview with Military.com September 21. Read more here.

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Robots.

Robot Ammo Workers.

U.S. Army officials want to use robots and computers to modernize the military’s aging munitions plants — to save lives, according to Defense News.

Officials told a House Armed Services Committee September 22 they were seeking a new 15-year, $16 billion strategy to modernize and automate munitions plants — some nearly a century old —  following nearly a dozen worker deaths and injuries over recent years.

They suggested workers who handle dangerous materials could be replaced by robotics and computers as part of the ambitious plan. The Army is willing to invest in robotics, automation, and other upgrades – and retrain the workforce accordingly — to make the ammunition industrial base both safer and more efficient, Breaking Defense reported. New manufacturing technology is also the only way to make new kinds of ammunition, officials said.

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Robot Dogs to Robo Cop.

The U.S. Air Force is testing Robo–Guard dogs to protect its aircraft.

A robotic dog was used during a major exercise in early September at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, according to the Popular Mechanics website. The four-legged dog-like robot, was seen alongside base security personnel. The service is apparently testing the robo-dogs as a way to patrol small battle spaces and provide needed data resources, according to the website.

An Airman patrols with a Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype during the Advanced Battle Management System exercise on Nellis Air Force Base.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cory D. Payne)

“These robot dogs are a new technology that we’re testing as part of the exercise,” said Master Sergeant Lee Boston, contingency response chief for the exercise. “The dogs give us visuals of the area, all while keeping our defenders closer to the aircraft,” he added.

The robo dogs are called Vision 60 UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles) manufactured by Ghost Robotics of Philadelphia. “Beyond all-terrain stability and operation in unstructured environments, a core principle of our legged robots is reduced mechanical complexity,” the company says on its website. “By reducing complexity, we inherently increase durability, agility and endurance, and reduce the cost to deploy and maintain ground robots.”

Ghost says its customers include military, homeland security, intelligence  and public safety agencies as well as universities and research organizations.

October 1, 2020 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

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.

12232019-F-16-APKWS-test

(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

FRIDAY FOTO (March 22, 2019)

The Future.

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Operations Program

(U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Armstrong)

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in the Unmanned Aerial System Operations Program familiarize themselves with quad-copter flight controls at the academy’s Cadet Field House in Colorado on March 4, 2019. The next day, the cadets conducted mock scenarios , in the Air Operations Center’s “Reaper Room.” An MQ-9 flight simulator allowed one operator to control multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which can autonomously search, find, identify and track various targets worldwide.

On March 1, the Air Force’s two main UAVs (also known as remotely piloted aircraft) —  the MQ-1B Predator and MQ-9 Reaper — reached a flight hour milestone. The Predator and Reaper have been flown more than 4 million hours. Since the late 1990s, Air Force drones have conducted persistent attack and reconnaissance; search and rescue, and strike and support, to civil authority missions around the world.

The MQ-1B entered the Air Force fleet in 1996 and retired in 2018. The MQ-9 mission began in 2007.

March 22, 2019 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

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.

August 17, 2018 at 12:28 am


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