Posts tagged ‘U.S. Air Force’

FRIDAY FOTO (NOVEMBER 18, 2022)

BEGINNING THE NIGHT SHIFT.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Dhruv Gopinath) 

A U.S. Air Force pilot  performs preflight checks on an F-15E Strike Eagle prior to night flying exercises at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England on November 9, 2022.

An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the  F-15E has the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night and in all weather.

The pilot is assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, nicknamed “the Bolars” and “the Madhatters”, is part of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.

November 17, 2022 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

VETERANS DAY/ARMISTICE DAY (November 11, 2022)

BIG FLAG, BIG CROWD, BIG DAY.

A previous Veteran’s Day Parade in New York City (Defense Department photo) Click on all of the photos to enlarge the images.

In late May, on Memorial Day, America remembers the honored dead, those who gave their lives in this country’s wars since 1775.

On Veteran’s Day every November, Americans honor the living who served or continue to serve in uniform. November 11 is the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I – the “War to End All Wars” in 1918. Unfortunately, history has proven that was an overly optimistic term for what turned out to be just the First World War.

Crowd in Philadelphia celebrates first word of peace on November 11, 1918. (Photo: Library of Philadelphia via Wikipedia)

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

On May 13, 1938, Congress made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day,” primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. But veterans of World War II and the Korean War urged Congress to change the holiday’s name to recognize their service. And on June, 1954 Congress amended the 1938 law, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans” and making November 11th a day to honor American veterans of all wars, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.

After years of bloodshed in the 20th and early 21st centuries, we’d like to pause and remember the sacrifice of all those who serve their country in both war and peace. Even far from a combat zone, many of them have risky jobs on aircraft carrier decks, in fast moving Humvees and high flying aircraft. There is hard work, as well as danger, in airplane hangars and ships at sea. Depots and warehouses are stuffed with equipment and supplies that, improperly stored or transported, can blow up, burn, sicken or maim the humans working nearby.

It’s also a time to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans’ families who, like the people in the photos below, suffer the absence of a loved one for months — or longer.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Yvette Knoepke is greeted by family members at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, after returning from a six-month deployment, October 2, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacquelin Frost)

 

An Air Force captain reunites with his family at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina on October 15, 2022, after an overseas deployment (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Holloway)

 

A sailor assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman greets family upon returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia September 12, 2022 from deployment overseas with the U.S. 5th and  6th Fleets. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan T. Beard)

November 11, 2022 at 6:19 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 28, 2022)

OUT OF THE PAST.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bowles) Click on photo to enlarge image.

A World War II-era P-51D Mustang and an Air Force F-22 Raptor participate in a traditional “Heritage Flight” during the 2022 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show over San Diego, California on September 24, 2022.

Manufactured by North American Aviation, the Mustang was among the best and most well-known fighter aircraft flown by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The P-51 operated primarily as a long-range escort fighter and also as a ground attack fighter-bomber. Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone during WWII, and later fought in the Korean War.

In December 1943 the first P-51B/C Mustangs entered combat in Europe with the 354th Fighter Group. By the time of the first U.S. heavy bomber strike against Berlin in March 1944, the USAAF was fielding about 175 P-51B/C Mustangs, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The new P-51D incorporated several improvements, including a new “bubble-top” canopy to improved the pilot’s vision. It had a top speed of  437 miles per hour — thanks to a 1,95-horsepower, Packard Rolls Royce Merlin V-1650-7 engine, according to the National World War II Museum. Nearly 8,000 P-51Ds were built, making it the most numerous variant. The P-51D arrived in quantity in Europe in the spring of 1944, becoming the USAAF’s primary long range escort fighter. By the end of the war, Mustangs had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other USAAF fighter in Europe.

P-51Ds arrived in the Pacific and China-Burma-India theaters by the end of 1944.  Iwo Jima-based P-51Ds started flying long-range B-29 escort and low-level fighter-bomber missions against Japan in the spring of 1945. Mustangs also saw service in the Korean War until they were replaced by jet aircraft.  Production of the last variant, the P-51H, ended in 1946. More than 15,000 Mustangs of all types were built.

Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, a stealthy air supremacy aircraft, is considered the first 5th-generation fighter in the U.S. Air Force inventory, The F-22 Raptor possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected, according to the Military.com website.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines, the Raptor can reach speeds twice the speed of sound (Mach 2), says an Air Force fact sheet. Lockheed Martin built most of the F-22’s airframe and weapons systems and conducted final assembly, while Boeing provided the wings, avionics integration and training systems. The Raptor formally entered service in December 2005 as the F-22A.

The Air Force originally planned to buy more than 700 of the Raptors, but with the cost per plane reaching $143 million, the program was cut to 187 operational aircraft in 2009. Another factor cited for the shift was a lack of air-to-air missions for the F-22 due to the focus on counterinsurgency operations. The last F-22 was delivered in 2012. Congress banned foreign sales to protect stealth and other classified technologies.

The newest U.S. 5th generation fighter is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. There are now more than 400 flying in three variants with the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The total fleet will number more than 1,000. Fifteen U.S. allies and partners, including Australia, Britain, Finland, Israel, Japan Norway, Poland and South Korea, have purchased or plan to buy F-35s.

October 28, 2022 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 7, 2022)

MEET “VENOM”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Christenson) Click on photo to enlarge image.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon — part of the Viper Demonstration Team from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina — lines up with a KC-135 Stratotanker for aerial refueling 0n September 29, 2022.

Air Combat Command’s Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) performs precision aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-16 multi-role fighter at about 20 air shows annually.

One of the most versatile aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the mainstay of the Air Force aerial combat fleet. With over 1,000 F-16s in service, the platform has been adapted to complete a number of missions, including air-to-air fighting, ground attack and electronic warfare, according to Military.com.

Introduced in 2020 with its unique snake scales livery across the body of the aircraft  the F-16 in this photo, named “Venom” carries the VDT’s signature black and yellow colors — including yellow snake eyes — from nose to tail.

October 7, 2022 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 9, 2022)

BOUND FOR UKRAINE.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Porter)

Senior Airman Natasha Mundt, 14th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and other airmen assigned to the 305th Aerial Port squadron, load Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions to a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on  August 13, 2022.

The munitions cargo is part of an additional security assistance package for Ukraine. The security assistance the U.S. is providing to Ukraine is enabling critical success on the battlefield against the Russian invading force.

On Thursday, September 8, the Pentagon announced another authorization of security assistance valued at up to $675 million to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s twentieth drawdown of equipment from Defense Department inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

Weaponry and other equipment includes more ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that have been playing havoc with Russian facilities — including ammo dumps and command centers — behind the front lines, as this CBS News piece illustrates.

Also going to Ukraine will be: Four 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 105mm artillery rounds; additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARM) that destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems; 100 Armored High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV); 1.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition; more than 5,000 anti-armor systems; 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems; 50 armored medical treatment vehicles; plus additional grenade launchers, small arms, night vision devices and other field equipment.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department notified Congress it intends to make $2 billion available in long-term investments in Foreign Military Financing. One billion to bolster Ukraine’s security and the other $1 billion for 18 of Ukraine’s regional neighbors.

To date, the United States has committed approximately $15.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. Since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Ukrainian territory in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the United States has committed more than $17.2 billion in security assistance — and more than $14.5 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24.

September 8, 2022 at 11:57 pm 2 comments

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: More Drones and Equipment for Ukraine; Air Force Drone Crash in Libya

DEFENSE.

Drones in Latest U.S. Ukraine Aid Package.

On the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, the United States announced its latest military aide package — almost $3 billion to train and equip the Ukrainian armed forces, including a more small, land-based unmanned aircraft and support equipment for a land and maritime drone.

The $2.98 billion aid package President Joe Biden announced Thursday (August 24, 2022) to provide weapons and equipment through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, (ASAI) “will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term,” he said.

Unlike a Presidential Drawdown, which the Pentagon has used to deliver equipment urgently needed by Ukraine from Defense Department stockpiles, USAI permits the U.S. government to procures needed capabilities from industry.

A U.S. Marine an RQ-20B Puma unmanned aerial vehicle during Exercise Snow Panzer in Setermoen, Norway, February 11, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Nghia Tran)

AeroVironment’s Puma, a small, hand-launched unmanned aerial system (UAS), and support equipment for the larger Boeing-Insitu Scan Eagle UAS are included in the package, according to the Defense Department. An earlier assistance package promised 15 catapult-launched Scan Eagles, which originally were developed for the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and can be launched from land or ship.  Both unmanned systems are unarmed and designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The Defense Department gave no details on the number of Pumas or type of supplies for Scan Eagle being sent to Ukraine.

Since Russia is also using unmanned aircraft, the aid package will provide VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems to the Ukrainians.

In addition to marking the date Ukraine declared its independence for the old Soviet Union, August 24 is exactly six months from the start of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

The United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. In total, the United States has committed more than $15.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, according to the Pentagon.

*** *** ***

AFRICOM Investigating Air Force Drone crash in Libya.

U.S. Africa Command is investigating the cause of an Air Force surveillance drone to crash near Benghazi, Libya, the military said Wednesday (August 23, 2022).

The drone was surveilling the area Monday ahead of planned diplomatic meetings, AFRICOM said. It did not specify what type of drone was involved or whether the crash was the result of enemy fire, Stars and Stripes reported here.

August 24, 2022 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (August 19, 2022)

OUT OF THE DARK.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Technical Sergeant Brigette Waltermire) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

U.S. Air Force pilots conduct nighttime training operations aboard an MC-130J Commando II aircraft, flying over the United Kingdom (Britain) on August 3, 2022.

As you might surmise from its name, the Commando II flies clandestine, or low visibility missions that include low-level flights to infiltrate special operators/commandos in, or out (exfiltrate) of politically sensitive or hostile territories. Other MC-130J capabilities include resupplying special operations forces by airdrop or air landing, and air refueling of special ops helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

The aircraft shown above is part of the 352d Special Operations Wing. Based at RAF Mildenhall, England,  the 352nd SOW includes — not only special aircraft like the MC-130Js and pilots — but special operators with tasks like Pararescue, Special Reconnaissance and Tactical Air Control. They have can-do mottoes like “Any sky, any field, anywhere” and “Day or night – we take flight.”

The Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce the probability of being spotted and intercepted. The nighttime training mission shown in the photo included three airdrops, an emergency recovery simulation, air-to-air refueling and low-visibility special tactics.

August 19, 2022 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

ROBOTS, DROIDS & DRONES: Ukraine Getting U.S. Drones; Russia Wants More from Iran

UKRAINE, RUSSIA DRONE NEEDS

Never in the history of warfare have drones been used as intensively as in Ukraine, where they often play an outsized role in who lives and dies, according to the Associated Press.  Both the Russians and Ukrainians depend heavily on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

But after months of fighting, the drone fleets of both sides are depleted, and they are racing to build or buy the kind of jamming-resistant, advanced drones that could offer a decisive edge, the AP reported July 14.

Ukraine Getting More Kamikaze Drones

The U.S. Defense Department says hundreds of one-way drones will be included in the latest security assistance package for Ukraine in its battle against Russia’s brutal invasion.

The Pentagon announced Friday (July 22, 2022) that an additional $270 million in Security Assistance for Ukraine will include as many as 580 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). It is the sixteenth drawdown of equipment from Defense Department inventories for Ukraine authorized by the Biden Administration since August 2021 — six months before Moscow’s unprovoked multi-front attack.

Back in April, the United States committed to sending 121 Phoenix Ghosts to Ukraine. Pentagon officials have not fully disclosed the capabilities of those drones, which were developed by the U.S. Air Force and produced by Aevex Aerospace, according to the Associated Press. Aevex describes itself as a leader in “full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions.” The drones have onboard cameras and can be used to attack targets, AP reported.

In April, then-Pentagon press spokesman John Kirby said the Phoenix Ghost had been in development before the February 24 Russian invasion. And in discussions with the Ukrainians about their requirements, “we believed that this particular system would very nicely suit their needs, particularly in eastern Ukraine.”

While primarily a UAS designed for tactical operations like attacking targets, Kirby said Phoenix Ghost ‘s cameras could be used for reconnaissance. But its principal focus is attack, said Kirby, adding “its purpose is akin to that of the Switchblade … which is basically a one-way drone and attack drone. And that’s essentially what this is designed to do.”

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

Switchblade’s manufacturer, AeroVironmentc Inc.,, calls the little lethal UAV a loitering missile. Originally weighing less than six pounds, it could be carried in a soldier’s backpack and launched from a mortar-like tube. Once airborne, Switchblade sends back color video imagery and GPS coordinates which the operator can view on a hand-held ground controller.

What made Switchblade unique, 4GWAR noted back in 2011, is the ability to transition from a low-flying reconnaissance drone to small bomb with the flick of a switch by the soldier operating the ground controller. It can then be aimed at a nearby — but out of sight — target such as an un-armored vehicle.

Several improvements have been made to Switchblade since then. The larger (50-pounds) Switchblade 600, has greater capabilities for engaging larger, hardened targets with multi-purpose anti-armor ammunition at longer distances than the original Switchblade 300, your 4GWAR editor reported in SEAPOWER.

*** *** ***

Short on Drones, Russia Turns to Iran

Both sides in the war have made ample use of unmanned aircraft, both for missile attacks by armed drones and reconnaissance of enemy troop movements and potential artillery targets. However, many military analysts believe the Russians — who surprised  Western observers with their coordinated use of drones as artillery spotters to target Ukrainian tank and artillery formations in 2014  — may now be running low on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

On July 12, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Russia was seeking hundreds of UAVs, including weapons capable drones from Iran.

“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July,” Sullivan told a White House briefing, adding “”It’s unclear whether Iran has delivered any of these UAVs to Russia already.”

On July 16, the White House said Russian officials visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice to view weapons-capable drones it is looking to acquire. The White House released the intelligence the same day President Joe Biden met  with leaders of six Arab Gulf countries, plus Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

The White House also released satellite imagery indicating Russian officials have twice visited Iran in recent weeks for a showcase of weapons-capable drones.

The satellite imagery showed Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones on display at Karshan Airfield on June 8 and July 5, while a Russian delegation transport plane was on the ground, the Associated Press reported.

Shahed 129 UAV seen during the Eqtedar 40 defense exhibition in Tehran. (Photo Fars Media Corporation via wikipedia)

Sullivan said in a statement that the administration has “information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs.

“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs. We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day,” Sullivan added. “This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian rejected reports on exporting Iranian drones to Russia, calling them “baseless.”

The U.S. intelligence assessment was first reported by CNN.

Russia had previously turned to China for help in supporting its war in Ukraine, U.S. officials disclosed in March, according to the CNN report. As of late May, the US had seen no evidence that China had provided any military or economic support to Russia for the invasion, Sullivan told reporters at the time.

*** *** ***

China’s DJI Halts Drone Business in Russia and Ukraine.

China’s DJI, the world’s largest commercial drone maker, announced in late April that is was suspending all business activities in both Russia and Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, Ukraine has urged the company to take steps to stop its drones being used by Russia.

The Chinese firm said the decision was not a statement about any country, and its drones are not for military use, the BBC reported.

DJI is internally reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions. Pending the current review, DJI will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine. We are engaging with customers, partners and other stakeholders regarding the temporary suspension of business operations in the affected territories. — DJI Statement

China has sought to remain neutral on the conflict, calling for a peaceful solution, but it has yet to condemn the Russian invasion.

*** *** ***

IN OTHER DRONE NEWS …

Valkyrie Drones Complete Tests for Skyborg Program.

A pair of XQ-58 Valkyrie drones have completed a series of tests for the U.S. Air Force’s Skyborg program, to team unmanned and manned aircraft through an artificial intelligence-enabled autonomous system allowing fighter pilots and bomber crews to control unmanned wingmen.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Hoskins)

Defense contractor Kratos, which manufactures the Valkyrie, announced the successful tests at the Farnborough International Air Show in Britain July 19, but offered no details on what those tests demonstrated or when they occurred, Air Force Magazine reports.

The XQ-58, meanwhile, has conducted a limited number of flight tests showcasing some of its capabilities including releasing another drone in flight and carrying technology allowing an F-35 Lightening II and an F-22 Raptor to share data in-flight.

It was the first public announcement of the Valkyrie flying for the Skyborg program. The drone was first developed as part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio and flew its first several tests before Kratos was selected in late 2020 as one of three companies to conduct Skyborg flights, according to the magazine.

“This is a program about autonomy,” Jeffrey Herro, a senior vice president in Kratos’ unmanned systems division, told Air Force Magazine in an interview at Farnborough. “Our aircraft was chosen to be the testbed for these autonomy tests. And so we’ve been flying various payloads in support of the government’s activities on Skyborg.”

July 26, 2022 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 15, 2022)

BIG NEW DRONE.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

Team members secure batteries to the LIFT Hexa aircraft’s motors before its first flight at Duke auxiliary airfield near Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the U.S. Air Force announced July 14, 2022.

The LIFT Hexa, an electric, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOL, completed its flight test via remote control. The aircraft, which used 18 motors and propellers, flew for approximately 10 minutes and reached a height of about 50 feet.

The test was an important first step toward the incorporating the Hexa into operations at a controlled military airfield.  Duke Field is located North of Eglin’s main base. This flight was completed by Hexa 09, one of two aircraft stationed at Duke Field. Hexa 05 was used for the first test flight at Eglin in April.

The 413th Flight Test Squadron, the Air Force’s rotary wing developmental test experts, has partnered with AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force and its Agility Prime program, to advance eVTOL test and experimentation.

July 14, 2022 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (June 24, 2022)

21st CENTURY GUNSLINGER.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal David Intriago) Click on photo to enlarge image.

Corporal Monica Pomales, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773’s Detachment A, conducts live fire shooting drills in a UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter during exercise Gunslinger 22 at Smoky Hill Range, Kansas on June 17, 2022.

Gunslinger 22 is a joint Marine Corps exercise with the Kansas Air National Guard designed to increase aircraft control and training for potential real world contingencies. Pomales’ Venom was accompanied by an AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter and both provided close air support and deep air support to the Ground Combat Element at Smoky Hill Range.

HMLA 773 Detachment A, based in New Orleans, is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey — a 2009 amalgamation of three military facilities in the Garden State: McGuire Air Force Base, the Army’s Fort Dix and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, once the home of the Navy’s rigid airships and non-rigid blimps.

To see more photos of this helicopter live fire drill, click here.

June 24, 2022 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

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