Dec 02, 2015 00:18 UTC
A US Air Force MQ-1 squadron has been deactivated
in Djibouti, raising doubts over the continued use of UAVs in combat operations based out of the area. The 60th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron had flown over 24,000 hours between November 2014 and October 2015. During this period, the MQ-1s neutralized 69 enemy fighters, including five high valued individuals. Based out of camp Lemonnier, the MQ-1s were involved in operations not only on the African continent, but in the Gulf region as well. It is unclear
if other units are operating UAV missions from the base or its network of camps and outposts or if the 60th is to be replaced.
Its initial battles were fought within the Pentagon, but the US Army’s high-end UAV has made its transition to the battlefield.
The ER/MP program was part of the US Army’s reinvestment of dollars from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s Aviation Modernization Plan. The US Air Force saw this Predator derivative as a threat and tried to destroy it, but the program survived the first big “Key West” battle of the 21st century. Now, the MQ-1C “Gray Eagle” is in production as the US Army’s high-end UAV. As CENTCOM’s wars end, however, the Gray Eagle may find that staying in the fleet is as hard as getting there.
This FOCUS article offers a program history, key statistics and budget figures, and ongoing coverage of the program’s contracts and milestones.
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Feb 24, 2015 00:04 UTC
Oshkosh Defense announced a new version of its ambulance variant
of its M-ATV. The first ambulance version appeared in 2010.
“The Government plans to acquire an MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). The M-ATV is a lighter, off-road, and more maneuverable vehicle that incorporates current MRAP level [bullet and mine blast] protection. The M-ATV will require effectiveness in an off-road mission profile. The vehicle will include EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile land mine) and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade panzerfaust) protection (integral or removable kit). The M-ATV will maximize both protection levels and off-road mobility & maneuverability attributes, and must balance the effects of size and weight while attempting to achieve the stated requirements.”
— US government FedBizOpps, November 2008
Oshkosh Defense’s M-ATV candidate secured a long-denied MRAP win, and the firm continues to remain ahead of production targets. The initial plan expected to spend up to $3.3 billion to order 5,244 M-ATVs for the US Army (2,598), Marine Corps (1,565), Special Operations Command (643), US Air Force (280) and the Navy (65), plus 93 test vehicles. FY 2010 budgets and subsequent purchases have pushed this total even higher, and orders now stand at over 8,800 for the USA, plus another 800 for the UAE.
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Feb 22, 2011 14:06 UTC
In 2005, the Canadian Department of National Defence awarded a 22-year, $1.77-billion (USD $1.5 billion) contract to an “Allied Wings” team lead by Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. of Kelowna, British Columbia, who beat out a competing group led by Bombardier’s military training division in Mirabel, Quebec. The long-term contract will provide primary flight training training and support services to the Canadian Forces and international allies. These services will be provided out of the “Canada Wings Aviation Training Centre” in the Southport Aerospace Centre near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
This is not the first time the Canadian government has chosen a public/private approach to aviation training. Bombardier was already managing the Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) program, and the public-private NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program has been running since 1997. In some ways, however, the new “Allied Wings” contract was a logical next step aimed at solidifying Canada’s traditional advantages, as Canada attempts to make itself an international center of excellence for foreign military aviator training:
- NATO Flying Training in Canada
- Primary Training: Competition for CFTS [updated]
- The Big Picture: International Flight Training in Canada [updated]
- Contracts & Key Events [NEW]
- Additional Readings & Sources [updated]
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Jul 11, 2010 14:58 UTC
New USAF ABU
In March 2006, “Fractal Creep: New Digitized Camo Uniforms for USAF, USN, Jordan” looked at some of the new fractal camouflage patterns emerging on the market, and the some of the design decisions behind the uniforms themselves. The new uniform design is a pixilated tiger stripe, with 4 soft earth tones of tan, grey, green and blue. The Air Force Battle Uniform will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric, eliminating the need for winter and summer weight uniforms. It will also be available in more body sizes, tailored for men and women. A tan T-shirt and polish-free suede cowhide boots in matching green-gray color will accompany the uniform, and will be available in men’s and women’s sizes. So will a fleece.
Back in 2006, Brig. Gen Robert R. Allardice said that they:
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Apr 15, 2009 04:35 UTC
Eurofighter & Meteor
European missile manufacturer MBDA plans adjustments to its long-range Meteor active radar guided air-to-air missile, to make it capable of deployment on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The MBDA Meteor will compete for orders with Raytheon’s medium range AIM-120C AMRAAM active radar missile, though the Meteor possesses longer range and several additional technological advances.
This move expands the Meteor’s original designated market, which was the Dassault Rafale, EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter systems. MBDA’s move is interesting for a number of reasons, ranging from the convergence of different fighter system design philosophies to what it implicitly says about their projections re: future fighter exports.
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Oct 15, 2008 18:17 UTC
Despite its staid sounding name, The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC has been anything but staid and diplomatic in its recent series of reports on America’s defense procurement plans. “ABANDON SHIPS: The Costly Illusion of Unaffordable Transformation” was indeed a shot across the bow. Lest anyone think that assessment was an aberration, CSIS has now followed it up with its look at the US Air Force: “America’s Self-Destroying Air Power – Becoming Your Own Peer Threat” [Summary | Full report, PDF format]:
“[The] new Burke Chair report… examines the impact of a crisis in aircraft procurement on tactical, strategic, and enabling capabilities of US air power. It draws on recent government and other reports to describe the problems in US aircraft procurement and their impact on US air power and the challenges the next administration will face in force planning and budgeting.
…The problems described in this report must be kept in context. Every service has, to some extent, mortgaged its future by failing to contain equipment costs, and by trading existing equipment and force elements for developing new systems that it may never be able to procure in the numbers planned… US aircraft procurements are no exception. The problems are so severe that the US risks becoming its own peer threat to US airpower… These problems are compounded by the fact that there now are fewer program alternatives if any key aircraft program runs into trouble. They are also compounded by the systematic underestimation of technology risk, growth in performance requirements, the use of failed methods of cost analysis, and the pressure to “sell” programs by understating cost and risk. All have combined to push air modernization to the crisis point.”