In 2009 the Air Force conducted beta classes in which it trained officers who had not previously been pilots to be UAV operators. (It also created new “wings” for the RPA pilots and granted them flight pay.) Earlier this year, the first non-pilots graduated into the RQ-4 Global Hawk, a keyboard-operated UAV.
Now, the first non-prior pilots have graduated to become MQ-9 Reaper operators:
This marks the first time a student pilot Read more
F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487 recently achieved 10,000 flight hours, making it the first F-15 of any type to log that many hours.
It an interesting bit of trivia, 487 is the same F-15E that logged the only Strike Eagle air-to-air kill in Operation Desert Storm when it dropped a bomb on an airborne Iraqi helicopter. It also scored an air-to-air kill on a rogue Reaper in Afghanistan, fulfilling every fighter pilot’s dream…
An MQ-9 Reaper has crashed on final approach at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The base reported that the owning squadron was a training unit for the MQ-9.
A newspaper columnist recently suggested there was a “strong moral argument” for taking out the Libyan leader, and the MQ-1B Predator was just the tool for the job. Columnist Richard Miniter said:
Since President Barack Obama seems comfortable killing terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Predator drone strikes, why not in Libya?
Ignore the political and even moral aspects of such a statement for a moment.
Such an assertion is both ignorant and asinine.
Following Operation Desert Storm, hundreds of hours of CNN Read more
The US Air Force has accepted delivery of the last MQ-1 Predator. This completes the purchase order created some time ago.
For all those who look forward to joining the Air Force to fly by remote control, not to worry: Production and purchase of the Predator‘s bigger brother, the MQ-9 Reaper, is still in full swing.
This was the “last” only because newer and better UAVs are now filling the ranks.
The Washington Post recently caught up to the announcement from last June that the US military was attempting to field UAVs with a multitude of cameras and sensors called the Gorgon Stare — named for the Greek mythological creature.
Of actual interest in the article is the technology the Air Force is using to help analysts sift through the vast amount of material produced by UAVs:
The Air Force…is working with Harris Corp. to adapt ESPN’s technique of tagging key moments in National Football League videotape to the war zone. Just as a sportscaster can call up a series of archived quarterback blitzes as soon as a player is sacked on the field, an analyst in Afghanistan can retrieve the last month’s worth of bombings in a particular stretch of road with the push of a button, officials said.
A story at Wired.com notes the Air Force has completed its purchase of 268 MQ-1B Predators from General Atomics. The Predator made waves first as a reconnaissance platform and was subsequently retrofitted with a limited amount of weapons. The USAF continues to purchase the MQ-9 Reaper — with 57 so far in a planned purchase of 272 — a beefed-up version of the Predator designed to carry weapons.
The Gorgon Stare is a 1,000 pound sensor that will enable a wide area to be monitored across a variety of spectrums, day or night, likely including both visual and infrared. It is currently set to be deployed to Afghanistan on the MQ-9 Reaper. Rather than having a single operator operate a single camera pointed at an area just a few miles (or feet) across (as, say, the Predator), the idea is that this sensor will capture a huge area, and users can simply choose that which they want to see. Think of it as “Google Earth” — only live.
The ARGUS may eventually supersede Gorgon Stare with, as its namesake implies, far more — and more detailed — “eyes.”
Think “religious freedom” advocate Michael Weinstein will consider this an endorsement of Greek mythology by the US military, and a “propaganda tool” for American adversaries? Given Weinstein’s selective outrage to date, it’s probably unlikely, though the fact it fits so well into his dogmatic rants demonstrates how ludicrous his claims actually are.