drones

Reaper MQ-9 in flight

WASHINGTON: The Air Force planned to buy 401 Reaper drones for $76.8 billion but didn’t know why it was gong to buy that many, the Pentagon’s Inspector General says in a new report. “This occurred because Air Combat Command officials did not: follow the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System requirement to obtain Joint Requirements Oversight Council approval for… Keep reading →

The first MQ-4C Triton drone to arrive at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION: The future of Navy long-range reconnaissance, the recently arrived MQ-4C Triton drone, sprawls across its hangar here, with a wingspan 13 feet wider than a Boeing 737 but a body that’s 80 percent lighter. Designed for 24-hour-plus patrols at 50,000 feet, Triton still can’t do the job by itself, say both the program manager and… Keep reading →

Lethal Presence

Rick Whittle’s superb book on the creation and uses of the Predator drone needs to be read by the Pentagon’s head of acquisition, Frank Kendall, and everyone else who decides what weapons America buys, including the professional staff on Capitol Hill who tell their congressional bosses what’s real and why. Whittle, who seems to be making a habit out… Keep reading →

Predator 2

  Rick Whittle wrote the book on the V-22, which he covered for several thousand years while a Washington reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Now he’s written the book on the Predator (on sale Monday), the drone (no RPAs on this site) and he’s obtained a great deal of operational information about Predator and the battle against… Keep reading →

The Navy's new EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft during sea trials.

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: “We have lost the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Alan Shaffer, the Pentagon’s research and engineering chief, this morning. “That’s a huge deal when you think about fielding advanced systems that can be [countered] by a very, very cheap digital jammer.” We’ve heard senior Pentagon officials fret about electronic warfare before, most prominently the Chief of… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's UCLASS concept.

It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. The “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and… Keep reading →

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B conducts flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. Operating alongside an F/A-18, the X-47B demonstrated two successful launch and recovery sequences. The Theodore Roosevelt is currently underway preparing for future deployments. Photo by Alan Radecki.

[UPDATED: Key test goal met] Robots may be the future of war, but for now they’re going to have to share the battlefield with humans and human-operated vehicles. That’s especially tricky in the tight confines of a Navy carrier’s flight deck, where one miscalculation could drive a drone into a manned aircraft, the bridge island, a… Keep reading →

100803-F-9209C-945

[UPDATED with details on latest strikes] Yesterday, President Obama ordered humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees and authorized — but did not actually launch — airstrikes on Islamic State forces threatening either the refugees or Erbil, the capital of quasi-independent Kurdistan. This morning, at 6:45 am Washington time, the other shoe dropped, in the form of 500-pound smart bombs… Keep reading →

The Navy's UCAS demonstrator made history as the first drone to take off and land from an aircraft carrier. Its proposed successor is called UCLASS.

WASHINGTON: August is the month of decision for UCLASS, the Navy’s controversial program to build armed drones that fly off aircraft carriers. At stake: whether the “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance & Strike” aircraft will be primarily a scout (surveillance) or a bomber (strike). The new Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, delayed the Navy’s release of… Keep reading →

lockheed boeing long range strike bomber

PENTAGON: The grander the title, the blander the content. That’s normally a safe rule in Washington. But if analyzed closely, this afternoon’s “State of the Air Force” briefing by service Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Mark Welsh, plus the accompanying pamphlet A Call To the Future, actually do articulate a remarkably clear… Keep reading →

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