Iranian F-4 Phantom jets fail to intercept U.S. Predator off Iran. Once again. Scared by F-22 escort? March 14, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Iran, Military Aviation , 11comments
According to a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, on Mar. 12, an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace.
As happened on Nov. 1, 2012, when two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed.
Interestingly, the last close encounter was unsuccessful because the fighter jets scrambled to intercept the unarmed U.S. drone were discouraged from accomplishing the mission: at least one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Clearly, following last year’s close encounter the Pentagon has decided to escort the drones involved in intelligence gathering missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to the UAE).
Although dispatching fighter jets to escort drones makes them less vulnerable, it makes also the UAV more visible. Unless the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) are F-22 stealth fighters.
Few days ago, Iran recovered from sea a mysterious drone; most probably an Iranian one.
Italian Predator drone stays aloft for 24 hours in Afghanistan and completes four missions in one sortie January 10, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Italian Air Force , add a comment
The Italian Air Force has set a new service record in December 2012, when one of its Predator drones deployed to Herat flew for 24 hours, supporting four different ground missions in Afghanistan.
Image credit: ItAF
The MQ-1, with the Task Group “Astore”, initially fllew over the Bakwa district to support a ground patrol of the Task Force “Victor” that was inspecting the route to be used by an arriving Italian Army convoy.
Then it moved to support from the above the important redeployment phase of the Task Force “South East” from Bakwa base, that was handed over to the Afghan Army.
Within the same district, the Predator then supported a strike mission by two Italian AMX jets that have attacked and destroyed with LGB (Laser Guided Bombs) the antennae of a group of insurgents.
During the same sortie the drone flew over a village near Shindand, where the Task Force “Center” is settled and where an army deport had been discovered, to collect imagery.
Flying for 24 hours in Remote Split Operations (meaning the aircraft is launched by a mobile ground control station and remotely taken on charge by another ground control station located at Amendola, in Italy, and controlled via satellite link) between Italy and Afghanistan, the Italian Predator beaten the previous Air Force record by 2 hours.
Europe’s first stealth killer drone “nEUROn” makes maiden flight December 1, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones , 1 comment so far
On Dec. 1, the “nEUROn”, the technology demonstrator for a European UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), made its first flight from Dassault Aviation company’s flight test base in Istres, France.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
The nEUROn, a project involving France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, had rolled out on Jan. 20, 2012, after five years of design, development, and static testing.
With a length of 10 meters, 12.5 meters of wingspan and an empty weight of 5 tons, the first stealth combat drone developed in Europe has a shape that reminds that of the American X-47B. But, unlike the U.S. killer robot that the U.S. Navy is preparing to launch from aircraft carrier, the nEURONn is only a full-scale technology demonstrator (powered by a Rolls-Royce Turbomeca “Adour” engine) for an UCAV and will not be produced in series.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
Still, UCAVs developed from the nEUROn concept will be much more advanced than the current “Predator-class” Unmanned Aerial Systems, that in the MQ-1 and 9 (Predator A and Reaper) variants have been intensely involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.
After its maiden flight, the nEUROn will be involved in a testing campaign in France until 2014, when it will be deployed to Vidsel range, in Sweden and then to the Perdasdefogu range in Italy, where its stealthiness and capability to drop PGM (Precision Guided Munitions) through the internal weapon bay, will be evaluated.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
Inside the Pterodactyl UAS: sneak preview of China’s Predator clone mobile ground control station November 20, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : China, Drones , 3comments
Image credit: Weibo.com/Chinese Internet
Similar in shape to the MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B), the Wing Loong/Pterodactyl drone is 9.05 m long, 2.77 m high and has a 14 meter (46 feet) wingspan. Its Maximum Takeoff weight is 1,100 kg and it has a ceiling of 16,400 feet and an endurance exceeding 20 hours.
And, above all, it can carry a couple of air-to-ground missiles.
A CCTV report from Zhuhai Airshow provides some (low quality) images of the Chinese Predator’s mobile ground control station.
Although the general arrangement it’s similar to the one of the Predator, the Chinese Wing Loong’s container seems to accomodate only three workstations, each one equipped with at least two joysticks and a couple of LCD screens displaying all the relevant imagery and information.
The Pterodactyl is believed to carry a suite of sensors, including an infrared camera, a TV camera, and laser designator. It’s not clear whether it feeds the ground control station and/or tactical hand-held receivers with encrypted live high-resolution video.
Hi-rez screenshots via Chinese Military Review
So, although largely copied from the U.S. version, the Chinese Predator has some peculiar features, as the Shenyang J-31, an F-22/F-35 hybrid.Whether they are better than the original, it’s hard to say.
However, these similar manned and unmanned aircraft raise a question: is China becoming increasingly effective at copying U.S. weapon systems and improve them a little bit to make them more effective and deadlier? Time will tell…
Pasdaran Su-25 Frogfoot jets in action November 12, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Iran , add a comment
Brought to my attention by Paolo Nurra and originally posted on the Uskowi On Iran blog, the following pictures were released in 2006 by the Fars and Mehr news agencies.
They show the Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) taking part to the drills in the Persian Gulf.
The Frogfoot jets of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force (former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Air Force) are believed to have been involved in the recent incident with a U.S. Predator off Iran. According to the information released by American officials, two Su-25s tried to shoot down an MQ-1 flying 16 miles off the coast. But failed.
The IRGC AF has added seven Iraqi Air Force Su-25s that fled to Iran in January 1991, during Operation Desert Storm. About 15-16 such planes are believed to be based at Shiraz, in eastern Iran, even if how many of them are airworthy is unclear.
Image credit: FARS and MEHR news agencies
- Iranian combat planes tried to shoot down a U.S. Predator. A weird story. (theaviationist.com)
- Video shows how you should attack a drone if you really want to shoot it down (theaviationist.com)