Tag Archives: drone

NASA’s demilitarized MQ-9 Predator B drone filmed Orion splashdown for NASA TV

The video of the Orion crew module Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) as it descended through the atmosphere until splashdown into the Pacific Ocean was filmed by Ikhana, NASA’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

On Dec. 5, NASA successfully launched an Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), a spacecraft destined to carry a crew of up to four astronauts to destinations beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket.

The first flight lasted 4 hours and 24 minutes.

The Orion descending for landing as planned in the Pacific Ocean was filmed by NASA’s Ikhana UAS (Unmanned Aerial System). The drone, a demilitarized MQ-9 Predator B owned and operated by the agency with technical support from the Air Force’s Medium Altitude UAS Division and the Nevada Air National Guard, was acquired by NASA in 2006 to support science missions and technology developments.

The UAS, remotely piloted from a ground control station at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, filmed the re-entry phase of the capsule it detected though its IR (Infra Red) camera: once located and acquired, the camera operator switched to the optical camera to follow the descent until splashdown.

In the past, the Ikhana was used to perform wildfire imaging and mapping (Western States Fire Mission 2007-2009); in March 2012, NASA used the drone to test an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast device. In August 2014, the UAS conducted a series of tests in Arctic Circle.

 

Epic Fail Of Portuguese Navy New Drone’s First Launch

It’s not easy to launch a drone.

Some of our readers may have seen it already. For all the others, here is a funny video filmed during the press conference held in Portugal last April to showcase the new coastal surveillance UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) of the Portuguese Navy.

The video speaks for itself: just like a large paper airplane, the hand-launched drone immediately plummets and crashes into the water.

The mishap occurred while Portugal’s Defense Minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco was visiting a naval base near Lisbon and, according to local reports, was caused by a “launch sequence” affected by some part of the airframe clipping the special operator who was launching it.

Fortunately, a second attempt to launch the drone was successful. Too late to save the reputation of the small UAS…

H/T to Emiliano Guerra for the link

 

That’s a weird way to move a U.S. Navy drone copter: MQ-8B Fire Scout spotted on a trailer on Interstate 405

An MQ-8 Fire Scout was spotted on a trailer on I-405 at Newport Beach, California

Few months ago we published an image of an MQ-8C Fire Scout, the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) obtained by giving autonomous controls to a Bell 407 helicopter, on a trailer moving northbound on Interstate 405 near Newport Beach, California.

Whilst some readers suggested the aircraft was a model/mock-up, others were pretty certain the MQ-8C was one of the 28 such drones the Navy plans to operate in support of  naval special operations forces.

Interestingly, the same reader who had taken the photograph of the MQ-8C was able to get a shot of an MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV), a smaller “Fire Scout” drone copter capable to autonomously take-off and land from any aviation-capable warship and at unprepared landing zones and to find, identify, track and illuminate targets and to provide targeting data to other strike platform as well as perform BDA (Battle Damage Assessment).

The tiny drone was used during the air war in Libya; one MQ-8B drone copter was shot down during an ISR mission in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Anyway, the new image of an (uncovered) MQ-8B on a trailer seems to prove this is Northrop Grumman’s standard way to move its unmanned aircraft. At least Sikorsky uses a protective cover when moving helicopters on a trailer….

Image credit: “Spencer”

 

Israeli Hermes drone over Gaza with dorsal satellite antenna

A new image coming from Gaza shows an Israeli Hermes UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carrying two (still unknown) pods and dorsal antenna.

Taken over Gaza City on Aug. 3 by AP’s Dusan Vranic, the photo is not only extremely beautiful because of large moon (magnified by the zoom lens) in the background: it is the first to date showing a modified Israeli Hermes 450 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carrying the two “new” underwing pods (possibly containing SIGINT sensors or guns) with a dorsal satellite antenna.

The Israeli source who pointed us to the image said the dorsal antenna is retractable, but we are not sure it can be extended; it could be a fixed satellite antenna used for ISTAR, SIGINT, communications relay.

Image credit: AP/Dusan Vranic

 

MQ-8C extended-endurance Fire Scout unmanned helicopter caught “on the road” in California

An MQ-8C Fire Scout was spotted on a trailer on I-405 Northbound at Newport Beach, California

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is a Bell 407 helicopter modified with autonomous controls from the MQ-8B drone copter.

It weighs 2.7 tons, has a 1,000 lb payload, can fly for 24 hours and can carry AGM-176 Griffin missiles, APKWS II guided 70 mm rockets, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

It first flew in October 2013 and the first two unmanned choppers currently involved in flight testing have already surpassed 100 flight hours.

The Navy plans to operate 28 MQ-8Cs for naval special operations forces. One of those (188688) was seen on a trailer moving northbound on Interstate 405 near Newport Beach, California.

 

MQ-8C on the road

Image credit: “Spencer”