Tag Archives: drone

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”


Poland loses a drone during artillery drills and no one has a clue where it is

A mini unmmaned aerial vehicle, did not reach the desired landing zone during artillery drills. And  disappeared.

The Flyeye drone has lost contact with the ground operator on May 7, near Torun, Poland, when it was going to land and was redirected towards the alternative landing zone near Skulsk. It never reached the place eventually.

Several other UAVs and a ground search group are also looking for the lost drone but where unable to locate it due to the difficult terrain conditions.

The cause for the unmanned aircraft not reaching the landing zone is still unknown. Since the drone was flying a training sortie, representatives of the manufacturer were also present during the drill.

These ruled out the operator’s error as a possible cause for the incident that, instead, might have been caused by Software error, since the new version of code was tested during the drill.

Flyeye is manufactured by the Polish company WB Electronics, which is a part of a larger Flytronic company. Its first public appearance took place in Paris, during the Eurosatory Arms Fair in 2010. Its operational use included SAR operations in Poland and mission flown for Nil (Nile) – one of the Polish Special Operations Units. The mini-UAV has also found a wide application during the Afghan conflict.

The drone, worth 25,000 Euro, has a wingspan of 4 meters and weight of 11 kg. It can be launched by hand. Its max speed is 170 km/h and operational ceiling is 6.000 m. It can fly between 2 and 4 hours. Its main purpose is to conduct recce missions for artillery.

During a press meeting Polish Minister of National Defence, Tomasz Siemoniak, stated laughing that if anyone finds the drone, they should return it to the nearest police station. He also claimed, on Twitter, that the person who finds the drone would be invited to be an observer during the Anaconda-14 drill, which is to be organized later this year.

UPDATE [May 10. 2014]: The search operation has been cancelled according to Polish MoD spokesman, Jacek Sońta. WB Electronics decided to supply a new UAV for the miliitary in order to cover the expenses.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: WB Electronics


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Stunning video of machine guns shooting at target drones shows how difficult hitting a remotely piloted aircraft can be

This video shows how difficult shooting down a small UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) can be.

Along with larger UAVs, armed forces around the world also employ several types of smaller remotely piloted planes. Such drones are used for a wide variety of tactical missions, including battlefield surveillance and targeting.

When we posted the images of the bird-like drone believed to be used by the U.S. Army in Pakistan and Iraq someone argued that these small aircraft, more similar to a RC model than a standard UAV, could be an easy target for small arms fire.

This video shows that, given to skilled pilots, these tiny planes can be extremely difficult to hit, even for some trained shooters, thus explaining why they are used in combat quite often.

Filmed during a shooting event at Big Sandy range, in Arizona, the footage shows several MGs shooting at a small drone flying back and forth along a 1/4 mile firing line at day and night.

“I’m sure to those who have never shot a machine gun outside of Call of Duty, it looks like it would be easy to shoot these down,” says the uploader in the about section of the Youtube video. “The vital components of the plane like the engine, battery, receiver, fuel tank, etc. are very small. The main body of the plane is pretty tough and can take numerous hits without affecting it.”

Hence, unless you have plenty of ammo, skilled shooters and patience, such small drones flying over your position can be extremely difficult to shoot down.

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