miércoles, 27 de agosto de 2014

Dr. Vivek Lall joined General Atomics

Dr. Vivek Lall has moved on from the Reliance Industries Limited defense and homeland security venture and joined the US defense aviation company, General Atomics.

General Atomics has been in India for around two years pitching its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), an electromagnetic catapult system which it is developing to launch aircraft from carriers in place of the older steam catapults.

General Atomics is the manufacturer of some of the most formidable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) fielded by the US in its wars since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, which include the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper.

He joined Reliance in April 2011 and is now CEO of Strategic Development at General Atomics for the global market. Lall was earlier with Boeing Defense, Space and Security and steered the sale of aircraft and systems like the C-17 Globemaster III for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for the Indian Navy and Harpoon missiles for the IAF Jaguars as well as the navy P-8I aircraft.

While the UAV systems of General Atomics are not currently licensed for export to India, it is understood that Lall will be promoting a line-up of commercial products, besides the EMALS system being developed by the company.

lunes, 25 de agosto de 2014

Argus: The ISR Power of 100 Predators

A new technology called ARGUS has the ability to capture details (like an individual’s clothing or a bird’s nest!) all from 17,500 feet (5,334 meters) above, and (of course) all the footage could potentially be stored up to a million terabytes of video each day, the same as 5,000 hours of high definition footage.

Developed by the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), ARGUS is the acronym of Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous SurveillanceEngineer Yiannis Antonaides designed it using 368 basic cellphone cameras. ARGUS boasts 1.8 billion pixels and is also the world’s highest resolution camera, making it one enviable piece of technology. “Argus is the equivalent of having up to 100 predators look at an area the size of a medium-sized city at once. You can see individuals crossing the street, you can see individuals walking in parking lots. There is actually enough resolution to be able to see the people waving their arms or walking around or what kind of clothes they wear,” Antonaides revealed.

Employing the 368 cellphone cameras, ARGUS combines video from each one and subsequently makes a 1.8 billion pixel video stream system. ¿Is ARGUS currently being used to spy on Americans? Antonaides refuses to say. “I’m not at liberty to discuss plans with the government,” he admitted. “But if we had our choice, we would like ARGUS to be over the same area 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s not very achievable with manned platforms- this is where UAVs come in and they’re absolutely the perfect platform,” he explained.

sábado, 23 de agosto de 2014

Hill AFB gets new workload for UAVs

Hill Air Force Base has a new and additional workload for what many view as the future of defense: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The Ogden Air Logistics Complex (Odgen ALC) will open a new Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) shop dedicated to sustaining the electronic parts that keep three different Department of Defense (DoD) UAVs in the air.

The shop will work on the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper and the Army’s MQ-1C Gray EagleThe Ogden ALC already performs depot repair and modification on the ​Predator and Reaper since 2009, but the new workload is different because it will be soley focused on the electronic parts associated with the systems.

Paul Roberts, UAV project manager, said the new workload will eventually lead to new jobs at Hill. "We don’t have exact numbers yet, but we’re already starting to look at adding additional bodies in 2015,“ he said. Russell Kofoed, chief of the Logistic Branch of the Predator and Reaper program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, unveiled MQ-9 Reapers are becoming an increasingly important component in the DoD’s weapons systems. ”These are the weapons systems that are fighting the war on terror,“ Kofoed said. ”There’s no other weapon that compares,“ he added. The MQ-9 Reaper fly without a human pilot aboard and can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as performing the role of a traditional attack aircraft.

The sterile debate on UAV Strikes

Since 11-S, the U.S. government has used armed drones for precision strikes at a growing rate, and as the pace of drone strikes increased, public debate about lethal strikes has been intensified. We agree that the public debate is a good exercise of democracy and freedom, but we should question us if we can debate about something that we are far to know in deep.

One of the more prominent aspects of the discourse about Combat UAVs in general is the cost-benefit tradeoff in their acquisition and use: Combat UAVs, in general, are slightly more cost effective to acquire and operate than conventional manned aircraft, but this aspect, even being important, may not be so important when compared with their strategic value, cornerstone of results-driven policy-making in counter terrorism strategy.

There are actually two preeminent challenges in evaluating of the strategic benefits of UAVs in specific operations environments:
  1. The first is the lack of a methodology to evaluate the effects of the use of UAVs: A methodology for the identification, collection, and analysis of relevant data would create a reliable framework from which the strategic value of drone technology could be quantified and evaluated.
  2. The second and more significant challenge pivots on the availability of empirical data on post-strike effects: The most frequently cited statistic from drone strikes is the resulting number of deaths, but it is well-established that these data are generally inaccurate or manipulated to serve an ideological purpose.  

Without official confirmation of drone strikes, determining the full extent of the drone campaign in any target area is difficult. And without data on the number and location of strikes, researchers must rely on indirect measurements of drone strikes, most often inferring strike data from officials speaking to journalists. But this option represents, in fact, a twofold problem:
  1. The most basic problem with media reports is that the vast majority of media accounts about drone strikes are sourced from the government, often in the intelligence services. There is no way to confirm or refute the accounts in these reports.
  2. Depending on the perspective of the media outlet, reports on the same strike event can vary significantly.

miércoles, 20 de agosto de 2014

Holloman AFB MQ-9 Reaper Maintainers

A thorough knowledge of the Reaper is required in order to keep the aircraft flying. Holloman AFB has the important mission of preparing Airmen with the knowledge and skills necessary to deploy worldwide at a moment’s notice, to effectively and efficiently perform their duties.

Inspections are performed based on different qualifying factors, including total hours flown and discrepancies noticed or reported during training sorties. Additional inspections are completed on various milestones including 200, 400, 800 and 2,000 hours of flight time. Each inspection is increasingly more in-depth as the flight hours rise.

Recently, the mission of Holloman AFB has transformed from projecting combat airpower to training the next generation of combat pilots and among its many aircraft, Holloman Air Force Base is the premier training base for the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 ReaperThe Airmen thoroughly inspect each part of the aircraft before takeoff and after landing, looking for any discrepancies that could interfere with the proper operation and safety of the aircraft. 

The Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance RPA that is used primarily as an intelligence-collection asset. Reapers also perform missions supporting close air support, combat search and rescue, convoy over watch, and target development. The MQ-9's capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct warfare operations in support of the deployed commander's objectives.  Up to nine people will work on an aircraft at one time, each responsible for different systems. When it comes down to the wire, teamwork is a critical. "We check every part of the aircraft, from the wings to the engines and tires. It's basically like taking your car for a tune-up," said Senior Airman Courtlyn Collier, a 49th AMXS crew chief. "Once a plane lands, you'll see a lot of crew chiefs, avionics and weapons Airmen starting inspections."

FAA UAS Integration Office manager visits Grand Forks AFB

According to Aviation Week Magazine, "the UAS Integration Office has the extraordinary challenge of accomplishing the efficient and timely integration of UAS in the National Airspace System while balancing the political pressure and economic needs of the nation." 

Although Jim Williams was there primarily for the joint test flight, he did take full advantage of his official visit by taking the time to speak with the Airmen"I enjoy speaking to people like the UAV pilots and maintainers because workers at the tactical-level may provide us with more valuable information about how we can evaluate and improve our UAS mission," said Williams. "It's important that they know that what they do for this mission matters greatly, and any future success of this program will depend heavily on the work they continue to do here because it starts with them."

"I'm here to observe your UAS operations and see how I can be of help," said Williams at the start of his meeting with Col. Paul Bauman, 319th Air Base Wing commander, and three other base leaders. "Colonel Bauman had previously invited me to the base, but I could not come at the time of his original request, so when I was invited to come here for the joint flight test involving the two UAVs, I decided to meet with him and the rest of the senior leadership so they could share with me their perspective on how things were going." Since being selected to be the manager of the FAA UAS Integration Office in March 2012, Williams has had the responsibility of coordinating all aspects of the FAA's efforts to integrate UAS into the NAS. This includes activities for rulemaking, standards, guidance material, industry coordination, interagency coordination, research and development, and planning to support UAS integration. The new office combines the formerly independent efforts of the Air traffic Organization and the Aviation Safety Organization.

The 319th Operations Support Squadron gave Williams a tour of the Radar Approach Control Tower, the primary facility used for directing approaches and departures of all aircraft in and out of the installation, to include UAVs. The tour of the RAPCON tower was followed by visit to one of the Global Hawks, where two Airmen from the base waited for Williams in order to talk about their work and challenges of maintaining the base's largest UAV. Williams also spent time meeting and speaking with junior Airmen who directly impact the UAS mission there. Williams expressed his appreciation for tour of the tower and getting to speak with the Airmen.

First MQ-9 Reaper Operates at Fort Drum

Even though Reaper pilots have been operating out of the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base since 2009, the MQ-9 aircraft has never actually been used at the base. For training missions, they're flown out of Fort Drum. Tuesday 19th the UAV taxied at the base for the first time.

It will still be a slow and methodical process before seeing the MQ-9 Reaper in the air. The 174th Attack Wing Commander said he hopes to see them off the ground in the next six months. "Just staying within just a couple miles within the airfield here to work out the procedures and to get the FAA controllers comfortable with the operations. And once we're comfortable with that, we'll work our way out further," said Col. Greg Semmel.

viernes, 15 de agosto de 2014

US small UAV market awaits legal update

The development of small UAV markets is awaiting changes in airspace law, as the FAA announced that by September 2015 it would issue a comprehensive roadmap to the integration of UAVs.

Regardless of it, last March 2014 in the case Huerta v. Pirker the court stated that the FAA Regulations are not enforceable against the small UAVs that would otherwise qualify as model aircraft, even when such UAVs engage in commercial operations.

The decision caught the FAA off-guard and effectively made clear that the FAA lacks authority to ground small UAVs which are used for commercial purposes, highlighting the disconnect between the commercial demand for using drones, and the FAA slow pace in developing regulations for commercial UAVs.

Regardless of the 2014 Pirker decision, the pressure is clearly mounting on the FAA - and other aviation authorities around the globe - to accelerate the process of integrating UAVs into their respective national airspace.

General Atomics' Predator C "Avenger"

The General Atomics Avenger (formerly Predator C) is a developmental unmanned combat air vehicle built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the United States military.

Unlike the previous MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) drones, the Avenger is powered by a turbofan engine, and its design includes stealth features such as internal weapons storage, and an S-shaped exhaust for reduced heat and radar signature.

The Avenger will use the same ground support infrastructure as the MQ-1 and MQ-9, including the ground control station and existing communications networks.

Internal weapons bay with 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg) capacity.
6 external hardpoints
6,500 pounds (2,900 kg) payload total to choose:

AGM-114P "Hellfire"

GBU-12 Paveway II

GBU-16 Paveway II




Pakistan navy unmanned aircraft crashed in Thatta

Pakistan navy unmanned aircraft has been crashed during the routine training session near Sajawal District in Thatta, police informed, adding that no casualties were reported after crashing of aircraft in the fields.

Predator B ER completes Phase 1 flight testing

Frank W Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc, said: ‘This flight was a significant milestone for Predator B ER in that it closes out its Phase 1 flight test period. The entire RPAS was successfully tested from start to finish, including flying a real-world representative mission with significant loiter time, and then returning to base.’

The ER (Extended Range) variant optimises the aircraft for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions with a projected increase in endurance from 27 to 33-35 hours by adding two external fuel tanks to its existing wings and heavy-weight landing gear to accommodate an increase in maximum gross takeoff weight.

The flight, which took place from 17-18 June, saw the Predator B ER demonstrate its ability to carry an external fuel tank on each wing, and used a new fuel management system which ensures fuel and thermal balance amongst all fuel sources, including the external tanks, the wing, and the fuselage.

Final FAA-mandated UAV test site established in Virginia

In December 2013 the FAA selected six test sites that would help facilitate the utilisation of UAVs in national airspace, all of which have subsequently opened since April 2014.

The measures were a result of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, in which the administration was mandated by Congress to ensure UAVs can be fully integrated into the national airspace by 30 September 2015. The sixth and final US Federal Aviation Administration-mandated unmanned air vehicle (UAV) test site has been established in Virginia.

The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University test site officially opened on 13 August, and follows the opening of the other sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas.