Nov 19, 2012 17:12 UTC
RQ-7 launch, Mosul
RQ-7 Shadow UAVs can be launched via runway or catapult, and land on runways. They’ve become the mainstay tactical-class battalion/ brigade level UAS for the US Army and US Marine Corps, and have also been exported to a number of countries. Italy and Sweden picked it, and Australia bought it under their JP129 program when their original choice didn’t perform.
The RQ-7B offers a longer wingspan and larger tail than the initial RQ-7A, and can carry a payload of 27.2 kg/ 60 pounds. This usually entails IAI Tamam POP-200/300 or L-3 Wescam 11SST surveillance turrets, but add-on kits can insert useful capabilities like laser targeting, the TCDL datalink, communication relays, or other sensors. The US Marines are even investigating weapon options. Meanwhile, that large UAV fleet needs support.
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Nov 18, 2012 14:45 UTC
In November 2012, the Royal Thai Army signed a contract with Thales UK to become the STARStreak air defence missile’s 3rd customer, after Britain and South Africa. Introduced in 1997, the dual-stage High Velocity Missile flies at Mach 3+. Its uses laser guidance to home in on fast-flying aircraft, pop-up helicopters, or UAVs, then shreds them with 3 individually-guided hit-to-kill projectiles. Numbers and amounts aren’t specified, beyond a “multi-million pound” deal, but the number of 3-missile Lightweight Multiple Launchers (LML) is probably relatively low.
The STARStreak system’s combination of extreme speed, laser guidance approach, kill method, and low maintenance costs offers a number of advantages over peer systems like the American Stinger, French Mistral, and Russian SA-18. The flip side is that its manual all-the-way guidance approach places a premium on operator training. That can be a disadvantage in some quarters, and the firm’s natural customer set was pre-empted by competitors who introduced their wares during the Cold War. Interest in these weapons is slowly picking up again, and Thales says that STARStreak/LML’s high profile deployment at the London 2012 Olympics “has led to increased interest in the system around the world.”
Nov 16, 2012 09:15 UTC
- The Stimson Center released a report [PDF] which concludes that the “strategic agility” needed by the US could be achieved while spending significantly less. You have heard their recommendations before: don’t get drawn in land wars, reduce nuclear stockpiles, develop new tech and special forces, get allies to contribute more to global security. The think tank does not see Russia or China through rose-tinted glasses, but it estimates that their capabilities remain far from Western levels and that they have more to gain from continued economic integration. A reduction or cancellation of future F-35 deliveries is seen as an acceptable tradeoff in case of continued development problems, but development of the F-22 should be sustained.
- Senator Coburn [R-OK] dubs the Pentagon the “Department of Everything” in a report [PDF] that enumerates extraneous areas in the budget that have little to do with defense and could easily be cut. Most of the report lists science projects of dubious value, at least to the military.
- The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is gathering information on industry capabilities to deliver additional Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS) satellites. PTSS is a space sensor program that started in FY2011 to contribute to Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). They might help with characterization and discrimination challenges facing ground-based radars.
- European NATO members are setting up an online marketplace dubbed eQuip to sell surplus military equipment according to Reuters, though it is a little odd that the official who provided that information to the media insisted on remaining anonymous.
- BAE Systems Ship Repair will acquire for $69M Marine Hydraulics International, Inc. (MHI), a shipyard in Virginia employing 400 people. Alabama Live.
- Israel is deploying a 5th Iron Dome anti-rocket battery tomorrow. Jerusalem Post.
- Negotiations between the US and Afghanistan have started about the size, nature and conditions for the presence of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Similar talks ultimately fell apart with Iraq last year. Washington Times.
- An F-22 crashed yesterday afternoon at Tyndall AFB, FL. The pilot ejected safely. The USAF statement has few other details.
- An anonymous officer from an African air force delegation at this week’s air show in China wraps it up: “When you come and see these aircraft you relate them to what you have seen before. […] That is why some people don’t want to send their planes here. You come back in five years and it’s called a J-something.”
Or a Z-something. The Z-10 attack helicopter made its first public flight earlier this week at the show. Pratt & Whitney Canada was in June 2012 for illegally exporting software that ended up in this helo. Video below:
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Nov 15, 2012 17:06 UTC
In November 2012, Battlespace Flight Services LLC in Arlington, VA received a maximum $950 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract for worldwide organizational level UAV maintenance support. Battlespace is the incumbent provider for the USAF’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, and this program supports USAF Air Combat Command, the Air National Guard, and other major command and combatant command customers.
Work will be performed in Newport News, VA until March 31/14, which seems to add up to a lot of maintenance if they hit their maximum over just 17 months. USAF Air Combat Command’s AMIC/PKCA in Newport News, VA manages the contract (FA4890-13-D-0001).
Note that Battlespace is hiring, if you’ve been an MQ-1 or MQ-9 pilot or sensor operator.
Nov 15, 2012 09:20 UTC
Meet the new boss
Xi Jinping will not only take over from Hu Jintao as China’s next President in March 2013, but as of today he chairs both the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Communist Party. This breaks from precedent, as it took Hu a couple of years to consolidate these three functions. Asia Times | Xinhua (i.e. literally the party line) | Lowly Institute.
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