Tag Archives: US Army

First weapon designed to be dropped by gravity from a drone makes debut

Once used only to perform ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance), drones are getting new weapons day after day confirming a growing trend to arm current UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in order to make them capable to perform UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) missions.

Lockheed Martin has developed a new weapon: a drop-glide bomb called Shadow Hawk.

Shadow Hawk is the first weapon designed to be dropped purely by gravity from a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

Weighing in at 4.9kg (11lb) the bomb has a diameter of 6.9 centimeters (2.75 inches) and is guided by laser designator attached to the drone.

The weapons first launch was from a RQ-7 Shadow at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah on Mar. 28, and the munition, released from an altitude of 5,100 feet, impacted its intended target only 8 inches from the laser spot center at a speed of 460 feet per second.

After the first successful launch, more tests ahead for the new lightweight, low cost PGM that can be delivered by the Shadow UAV.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Lockheed Martin via Defense-Update

Photo: RQ-7 Bravo drone launched at night from Kandahar (as it can't fly much on hot days).

The following AP photo shows an RQ-7 Bravo UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) being prepared for launch at Forward Operating Base Pasab, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

It is particularly interesting because it was taken with a long exposure: the headlamps and bodies of a crew from the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army are blurred as they prepare the drone for a night mission.

AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, James Robinson

Night flying will be routinely performed during the summer months, not only for tactical purposes, but also because of fuel-leak problems caused by extreme heat: an internal US Marine Corps review of air operations in combat, released in October and available here, raised some questions about the possibility to employ the Shadow for daytime missions.

(U//FOUO) VMU-1 established a “hot weather schedule” during the summer months due to
temperatures that could reach as high as 135 degrees Fahrenheit on the runway.  This
extreme heat could cause the Shadow’s wings to swell and vent fuel.

Obviously, April temperatures are not even comparable to the Afghanistan’s intense summer heat that, according to a Marine Corps Time article, forced the service to fly daytime missions with smaller drones.

A Shadow drone collided midair with an Air Force C-130 in Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2011. The robot struck the Hercules’s left wing between the engines: although damaged, the aircraft managed to land safely, whereas the RQ-7 crashed.

Looks like summer is not a lucky season for the drone that the USMC wants to “weaponize” as soon as possible.


In Afghanistan, EA-6B Prowlers to be replaced by Beechcraft King Airs capable to knock out cell phones, radios

The US Army is using a brand new technology that is installed into its Beechcraft King Air aircraft deployed in the skies of Helmand Province Afghanistan, that can jam and intercept insurgent transmissions.

The new device, called communications electronic attack with surveillance and reconnaissance or CEASAR, is a rectangular box that is capable of knocking out cell phones, radios and intercepting transmissions. The new device is so precise it can knock out insurgent communications whilst not affecting friendly forces communications or that of local people in the near vicinity of ongoing combat.

Although it is not said in the Stars and Stripes article that gave the news, it is safe to say that CEASAR must be able to knock out cell phone signals that are used to trigger the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which are killing and injuring NATO troops as well as Afghan Troops and civilians.

National Guard Maj. Darell Rasor, a pilot and commander of Task Force CEASAR, which operates from Kandahar Air Field said: “We can disrupt any kind of coordinated enemy action by stopping their communication, we take away the element of surprise.”

Image credit: CENTCOM

Rasor raved about the new device pointing out its cost savings over similar systems that are attached to fast jets rather than a relatively cheap fuel efficient twin engine King Air. “Two of these aircraft can replace a whole squadron of EA-6B Prowlers” said Rasor highlighting the costs savings that some could see as being controvertial.

The CEASAR plane is part of a bigger aerial surveillance fleet which includes drones and attack helicopters who all provide clear overhead views of the battlefield, its hard to see how the Afghan army will enjoy such luxuries if as mentioned troops’ begin to withdraw during 2014.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Stars And Stripes

Video: AH-64 Apache helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

Update Mar. 21 18.20 GMT

An AH-64 Apache helicopter crashes into the ground after performing a fiesler-like maneuver at low altitude over the troops in the mountains of Afghanistan. Maybe it’s not a “crazy” maneuver as someone judged it, but still dangerous.

According to the information released along with the video, both the pilot and co-pilot/gunner survived the crash and no one on the ground was injured.

A later statement confirmed the crash occurred on Feb. 6, 2012 in the Paktika province and involved a 1-227 AvCav Regiment from FOB Sharana.

This accident reminded me of the famous Italian NH-90 helicopter that crashed in the Bracciano Lake in 2008: more or less same maneuver and same outcome. In that case, the surface of the water played a role but at least the chopper was performing during an airshow and was flown by a crew of pilots qualified for aerobatics.

North Korea developing its own UCAV. Based on U.S. drone.

There are reports coming out of South Korean media that North Korea is developing UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles).

However rather than develop them from scratch they have purchased an unknown number of American made target drones from a middle eastern country thought to be Syria. It is thought that North Korea is going to reverse engineer the drone to produce an armed drone to patrol the disputed border it shares with South Korea and it’s thought it would be used to attack South Korean troops based on Islands in the Yellow Sea during a conflict.

The american drone mentioned us thought to be MQM-107 Streaker. Developed by Raytheon during the early ’70s, the Streaker is a high sub-sonic sub-scale target drone used by both U.S. Army and Air Force for testing guided missiles.

Further details are sparse and even the media source remains unnamed but The Aviationist will monitor and report back when further details emerge.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image: Wikipedia