Tag Archives: Pentagon

F-22 Raptor stealth jets to get automatic backup oxygen systems to prevent new hypoxia-like symptoms

F-22 refuel

More than 24 months since the last hypoxia-like incident occurred, the U.S. Air Force has decided to equip its F-22s with a backup oxygen system.

The Raptor fleet will soon receive a brand new backup oxygen system as part of multiple contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin (worth 30 Million USD) DefenseNews reported.

F-22s belonging to the 3rd Wing from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, have already received the new system, that will be implemented by the rest of the radar-evading planes by the second quarter of year 2015.

Being automatic, the new system does not require pilot intervention; a big improvement from the previous one that had to be activated by the pilot, which might be quite difficult, if not impossible if the latter was experiencing hypoxia-like/oxygen deprivation symptoms.

Because of the mysterious problem that plagued the stealthy fleet to such an extent the radar-evading aircraft were grounded back in 2011 following a deadly incident involving an Alaska-based, the Pentagon initially grounded the F-22s, and then, after lifting the flight ban, it restricted Air Force Raptors to fly near a “proximate landing location” in order to give pilots the possibility to land quickly if their planes’ On Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) fail.

In May 2012, two 1st Fighter Wing “whistleblowers” appeared on CBS 60 minutes to explain why they were “uncomfortable” flying the Raptor (before changing idea few days later).

The installation of the new automatic backup oxygen system is not the only upgrade the U.S. Raptors will get in 2015: according to DefenseNews, along with advanced electronic warfare protection and improved ground threat geolocation, F-22s should also get the ability to carry AIM-120D and AIM-9X advanced missiles.

In April 2013, the plan to integrate the Visionix Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS), that would have made the F-22 capable to use HOBS (High Off Boresight System) air-to-air missiles as the AIM-9X, filling a gap against other current and future stealth planes in close air combat, was cancelled following the cuts imposed by the sequestration.

Let’s see what happens this time.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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Pentagon’s vision of future of military drones takes “man” out of “unmanned”

UAS roadmap

According to the roadmap just published, in the next 25 years Pentagon aims at fielding military unmanned systems that will be autonomous and able to perceive, analyzw, correlate and make decisions or react without human intervention.

An obvious move that, among all the other implications, will also reduce the amount of UAS (unmanned aerial system) mishaps, the majority of those are caused by the human factor.

DoD vision up to 2038 is quite clear: drones are the key for U.S. military. And will be even more in the future, when the U.S. will have to face several problems: Pressure for reductions in federal budgets; U.S. military rebalance; Nuclear Proliferation; Violent extremism at home and across the globe; Threats in the Cyberspace (as in land, sea or air and space); Enemy Unmanned Systems.

Noteworthy, the Pentagon has added a new domain to its battlefield: cyberspace.

Acknowledging the risk of drones being hacked or hijacked, the DoD envisages higher data rate cryptography, and open standards to enhance encryption of data links and protect communicated information.

In the future, drones will be increasingly used to fulfil different tasks, including those currently not assigned to unmanned systems: “Although currently prohibited by policy, future capabilities by unmanned systems could include casualty evacuation and care, human remains evacuation, and urban rescue. The unmanned vehicles are intended to mitigate risk to the maximum extent by reducing the requirement to operate manned vehicles when the weather, terrain, availability, and enemy pose an unsuitable level of risk.”

Roadmap

If the long term vision foresees squadrons of robots conduct different missions in the battlefield, there will be a point in the near future when manned and unmanned systems will have to team up. It’s what the report calls MUM-T [Manned-Unmanned System Teaming].

“A force of the smaller, more agile manned-unmanned systems of the near future will enable DoD to mobilize quickly to deter and defeat aggression by projecting power despite A2/AD challenges. MUM-T will provide the following key capabilities: Defeating explosive ground surface, sub-surface (tunnel), and sea hazards from greater standoff distances; Assuring mobility to support multiple points of entry; Enabling movement and maneuver for projecting offensive operations; Establishing and sustaining the shore lines of communications required to follow forces and logistics; Protecting austere combat outposts; Providing persistent surveillance to detect and neutralize threats and hazards within single- to triple-canopy and urban terrain.”

Here comes Skynet.

Image credit: DoD

 

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U.S. evacuation flights from South Sudan hit by fire. US personnel injured

MV-22

According to the BBC (and other media outlets around the world) two US evacuation flights from South Sudan have been fired upon with subsequent injuries.

The aircraft, which landed in Uganda, were attacked near Bor, capital of the state of Jonglei occupied by forces loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar and the scene of some of the country’s worst violence since last week.

Whereas Pentagon has confirmed three US servicemen where hurt, the type of aircraft hit by the fire is not clear yet, even if it could have been a Marines MV-22 Osprey according to the first rumors.

Update: the aircraft were indeed Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, but CV-22s of the Air Force Special Operations Command.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

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E-4B “Doomsday plane” over London right now. Supporting Air Force One return trip to the U.S.

Huge 25

Nicknamed “doomsday planes”, E-4B are modified B747-200s serve as National Airborne Operations Centers providing “a highly survivable, command, control and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders and coordinate actions by civil authorities.”

One aircraft is usually airborne every 12 hours, with another one ready for departure with a 5-minute notice. If national command centers on the ground are attacked or unavailable, an E-4B is immediately scrambled.

One of them was on the ground at Incirlik, Turkey, few days ago.

Another one, that has supported Air Force One trip to the G20 meeting is returning to the U.S. broadcasting its position with the ADS-B, for anyone to see on Flightradar24.com.

Weird, but interesting.

 

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Photo shows U.S. E-4B doomsday plane on the ground at Incirlik, Turkey

E-4

Everybody know E-4Bs are extremely important. In the event of a war, a terrorist attack, an alien invasion and so on (hence the “doomsday plane” nickname), these aircraft are destined to keep the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other “decision makers” alive to direct nuclear (and conventional) forces, by receiving, verifying and relaying EAM (Emergency Action Messages).

One aircraft is usually airborne every 12 hours, with another one ready for departure with a 5-minute notice. If national command centers on the ground are attacked or unavailable, an E-4B is immediately scrambled: that’s why a “doomsday plane” was seen orbiting above Washington DC minutes after a hijacked plane had crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.

The E-6B Mercury, whose mission could be a sign that the Syria air war has just started, can do the same job.

Anyway, an E-4B was on the ground at Incirlik on Aug. 27. What was the doomsday plane doing in Turkey?

Update: Hagel visited Malaysia on Aug. 24 and later was in Brunei. Maybe this was a back-up plane?

Image courtesy of Kokpit.Aero website

 

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