Tag Archives: United States Navy

U.S. Navy UCLASS drone requirements leaked

A U.S. Navy document has revealed the requirements that would be the guideline for UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike) drone program.

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The key performance perimeters (KPPs) selected for the program, leaked to the press, are the operational range and maximum price.

UCLASS drones are to be introduced in the U.S. Navy by 2020. The contest for the drone is to be conducted in 2014. When it comes to KPP the minimum range of the drone is 600 Nautical Miles, and price per orbit has not to exceed $150 million. Keeping in mind that multiple UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) are required to keep a single orbit, this means that the flyaways cost includes the amount of drones needed to ensure the capability to patrol 600 miles away from a carrier in a 24 hour period; it does not mean a single drone will cost 150 million USD.

The UCLASS has to have ability to have operational radius of 1200 NM with aerial refueling.

Some more details about the UCLASS payload also have leaked: drones will have to be able to carry 1,360 kg of armament, one third to be air-to-ground weapons. 500 lbs JDAM bombs should constitute the basic munition for the drone.

Drones will be still just a complement for traditional manned aircraft, as the payload of UAS is much smaller than that of conventional fighters.

Obviously, there is still much to do when it comes use drones in combat. Or even in peacetime, as there is a large scope of problems involved in the issue of drones flying in the open airspace with civilian traffic.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Photo: Harrier night flight operations aboard a forward-deployed amphibious assault ship

Taken on Aug. 29, the following pictures show night flight operations on the deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) by U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump jet aircraft assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542.

The ship is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.

Note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane to make formation flying easier after dark.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

Top Gun director Tony Scott commits suicide. He personally paid 25,000 USD to keep an aircraft carrier on course and shoot the F-14s backlit by the sun

On Aug. 19, at around 12.30 pm, Tony Scott, film director of Top Gun, committed suicide by jumping from a Los Angeles county bridge.

Although he directed and produced many successful movies, his most famous hit is Top Gun, filmed in 1986.

Actually Top Gun 2 was in the works too with Tom Cruise initially thought to be a drone pilot and then “diverted” to the F-35 test pilot role. The future of the sequel project is obviously uncertain now that 68-year-old Tony Scott has died.

One of the most interesting things about Tony Scott and Top Gun was unveiled by the director in an interview included in the Special Edition DVD issued for the movie’s 25th anniversary.

During the filming, Tony Scott and his crew spent some days onboard USS Enterprise to shoot aircraft as they landed and took off from the aircraft carrier. Since the U.S. Navy’s flattop was on an operational cruise, the crew had to film normal flight ops. However, Tony Scott wanted to shoot flight deck activitiey with planes backlit from the sun. So, when the ship changed course with a consequent change of the light, Scott asked it the commanding officer could keep on the previous course and speed for a little longer.

However, he was answered by the commander that it would cost 25,000 USD to turn the ship, so he wrote the aircraft carrier captain a check so that the ship could be turned on the previous route for five more minutes thus giving him the possibility to shoot under the desired lighting conditions for another five minutes.

The footage was used during the movie’s stunning opening scene.

Although I’m not sure whether that check was eventually collected, I think this story shows how much Tony Scott cared about the success of Top Gun.

As tweeted by BBC News Producer Johnny Hallam:

“I hope some crazy pilot buzzes the #Miramar tower today in memory of Tony Scott and Top Gun #AvGeek”

If your vehicle's key fob or garage door don't work, a Navy radio might be jamming you

Taken at the Hertz Rental counter at San Diego International Airport, the below photograph shows a sign used to warn people of the possible interferences to vehicles key fobs caused by naval vessels activity in the Bay area.

“Once you travel approximately 5 miles away from the vicinity of the San Diego Bay, the key fob should again operate normally.”

Although the sign does not give further details about the type of activity the U.S. Navy is conducting in Southern California, it may be linked to the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) a secure, jam resistant, network of wireless tactical radios (first fielded by the Army in 1987) that distributes digital data and position location and reporting, between many mobile users.

In fact, the EPLRS/SADL (Situation Awareness Data Link – used by combat planes to interface with EPLRS for ground force support mission) uses a 3 Mhz wide pulse, right in the 433 band where European and Asian cars remote operate.

Identified as the source of interferences with garage door openers is instead a new radio system, known as Enterprise Land Mobile Radio, that is being used at most U.S. military installation reportedly to connect military servicemen and civilian first responders.

The problem has been reported around several stateside military installations, in fact some devices (including garage openers) work legally at the same frequencies used by the ELMR, although they are not licensed to do so.

Hence, , don’t worry if your car or garage door don’t work. It may be a mere problem of radio frequency jamming by a Navy or military network near you.

Image credit: “Dave”

Video: U.S. Navy initial flight (and heavy landing) of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator.

On Jul. 29 (or Jul.30 – the news release and the footage have a different timestamp), the U.S. Navy made history after it conducted the Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s initial flight of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D).

The tailless, unmanned aircraft launched from “Pax River” and flew for a planned 35 minutes over the Chesapeake Bay chased by an F-18D Hornet.

Noteworthy, the ‘bot performed a quite heavy landing: this is sometimes the outcome of a flare performed by a pilot who’s not sitting in the cockpit but remotely flies the aircraft. Drone pilots don’t feel the motions of their aircraft. Therefore, they lack some of those non-visual cues that help manned aircraft pilots to react instintively to some changes of attitude.

However, the (seemingly) heavy landing was not a big deal for the X-47B, a UCAS that was developed as a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. As such, the drone is equipped with a reinforced landing gear to withstand (heavy) deck landing impacts.