Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

Odd NOTAM unveils mysterious drone operations in the Las Vegas area

A NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) issued on the FAA website, provides some interesting information about UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) activity around the Sin City on Nov. 11.

LAS035020 LAS035007 LAS290040 LAS310040 FL220/BLW WEF 1211091600-1211112300

Information about drones activity (soon to be equipped with ADS-B systems to fly cooperatively and safely in the U.S. airspace), is disseminated by means of NOTAMs.

However, the one above is a bit odd, as suggested by Lazygranch:

“They usually fly the UAVs over the Nellis range. This NOTAM goes as far south as KVGT (North Las Vegas airport). It goes
far enough north to reach Creech.”

The area will be restricted up to FL220 (22,000 feet amsl) and the time window is Nov. 11 from 8AM 3PM Local Time. The activation hours cover the Aviation Nation airshow at Nellis Air Force Base that is outside the area reserved to the drone mission.

What does the NOTAM suggest?

It may suggest that an MQ-1 Predator will be launched from Creech Air Force Base, to perform an unknown mission in the outskirts of Las Vegas. Most probably a surveillance mission (along the Veterans Memorial highway?) during the open day at Nellis AFB.

Video shows how you should attack a drone if you really want to shoot it down

On Nov. 1, two Iranian combat planes (reportedly, Su-25 Frogfoot bombers) intercepted and tried to shoot down a U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator flying 16 miles off Iran’s coast.

The impromptu interceptors performed at least one firing pass, but failed to hit the drone with their guns.

Maybe they just fired some warning shots or had been diverted from a different mission, were at the edge of their endurance thus tried a quick shot and then returned home before being engaged by any U.S. fighter jet possibly launched by one of the American supercarriers steaming in the Persian Gulf.

Or they simply lacked the basic training needed to engage an other flying asset, a task not always easy to accomplish neither with the most advanced fighter plane and missiles available.

Regardless the reason of the failure the use of guns may not be the best option to down a drone (let’s not forget in this case the Su-25 didn’t carry air-to-air missiles, though).

The episode reminded me of a famous downing of Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle by a Russian Mig-29 on Apr. 20, 2008.

The unarmed Georgian UAV was conducting a surveillance above the breakaway Georgian territory of Abkhazia when it was approached by a Mig-29 and hit by an air-to-air missile shot at short distance.

You can see the entire scene thank to the footage transmitted live by the doomed drone before being hit.

Both the Georgian UAV and the Hezbollah drone that violated the Israeli airspace few weeks ago were downed in the same way: with an air-to-air missile fired at very close range. Something the Iranian should remember next time they attempt to kill a U.S. drone.

This awesome photo of a B-1B taking off at night shows how close Nellis AFB is to the Las Vegas Strip

Taken on Oct. 30, the following awesome picture shows a B-1B “Lancer” (or “Bone”) with the 28th Bomb Wing from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, taking off for a night Green Flag sortie from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

This image shows how close one the most famous airbases in the world is to the Sin City.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Similar to the more famous Red Flag series, the Green Flag exercises focus on Close Air Support missions, those flown by the B-1s in Afghanistan.

Here is why U.S. Air Force real Flying Saucer never did make it to operational service

Even if newly declassified documents concerning the U.S. flying saucer projects already made the news when they were released by the U.S. National Archives on Oct. 8, new details about round experimental aircraft were recently published by the U.S. Air Force.

Information about these Government’s UFOs were available for several years but diagrams included in the most recently disclosed documents relighted general interest in such weird flying machines whose prototypes can be found on display at the National U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and at U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

The Avro Canada VZ-9AV Avrocar was a 5-foot tall and 18-foot wide flying saucer of the early ’50s when Canada was studying a way to develop a supersonic bomber capable of vertical take off and landing (VTOL). It was a Canadian project owned and controlled by Washington.

Although it was never implemented (because of its costs) the design concept of the prototype featuring exhaust from turbojet engines to drive a circular rotor to create a cushion of air under the aircraft, served as a testing and teaching tool.

According the Air Force the service was interested in the Avrocar for its VTOL capabilities: it could potentially hover below enemy radars and accelerate to supersonic speed to strike ground targets. The U.S. Army needed a durable and adaptable, all-terrain transport and reconnaissance aircraft to replace their light observation craft and helicopters.

Even if the circular design was believed to satisfy both service’s requirements, it was soon discovered that the flying saucer was unable to perform as predicted.

Here’s why the project was dropped:

Tests with scale models at Wright-Patterson AFB indicated the cushion of air under the Avrocar would become unstable when the aircraft passed roughly three feet off the ground. It was determined the aircraft was not incapable of reaching supersonic speeds, nor would the circular shape of the craft allow the Avrocar to have stealth capabilities. Although the aircraft did not meet the expectations of the Air Force, testing was continued to examine if a suitable model could be developed to fit the Army’s needs.

The first prototype was sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Wind-tunnel tests proved the aircraft had insufficient control for high speed flight and was aerodynamically unstable. Although engineers attempted to perfect the design, the project was marred with problems.


The second Avrocar prototype underwent flight tests. Project engineers discovered once the craft rose beyond three feet above the ground, it displayed uncontrollable pitch and roll motions. The lack of computer technology and design flaws required pilots to control each engine separately, making it very difficult even for two pilots to properly control.

In December 1961, project leaders discovered the Avrocar could not reach a maximum speed higher than 35 mph. This, along with the crafts other shortcomings, led them to cancel testing permanently.

Meant to operate at supersonic speed, the flying saucer could not fly as fast as a car.

Still, it’s considered a perfect concept, ahead of time. But the technology of that era wasn’t advanced enough for it.

However, research made in the ’50 can be found in many current aircraft, like the AV-8B Harrier, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, F-22 Raptor and the F-35B, the first combat plane to combine STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) and stealth capabilities.

All images: U.S. Air Force

Photo: F-35’s first in-flight weapon release (of a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 JDAM)

On Oct. 16, a conventional take off and landing (CTOL) version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, completed the first weapon drop, releasing a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 warhead Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Flown by U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Phillips, the F-35A AF-1, dropped the bomb over the China Lake test range from the left internal weapons bay.

The F-35A is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations, four of those are internal to maximize the aircraft’s stealthiness (obviously, anything carried on the six underwing pylons make the aircraft a bit less radar evading…).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin photo by Matt Short