Air Force photo

PENTAGON CITY: The dirty secret of so-called “unmanned” systems is they require a whole lot of men — and women — to operate them. They’re just back at base, running things remotely, rather than hands-on in the aircraft. With the Air Force drone community overworked and undermanned, the service’s intelligence chief has suggested a Solomonic… Keep reading →

Grey Eagle Army drone

AUSA: When it comes to drones, the Army is now thinking small. The next new drone the service will buy is a Rucksack Portable UAS, Col. Courtney Cote, project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), told reporters at an Association of the United States Army update on Army UAS plans. Cote’s office already has a… Keep reading →

TR-X concept

WASHINGTON: “The world of manned reconnaissance is gone, and soon manned reconnaissance itself will be gone.” So says Charles E. Allen, whose opinion on such matters carries more weight than most. Charlie Allen joined the CIA in 1958 and spent the last seven of his 40 years there as assistant director of central intelligence for collection.… Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: China’s newest drone, the Caihong 5, appeared in last night’s huge military parade in Beijing. Chinese media are comparing the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone to America’s MQ-9 Reaper, which with up to four Hellfire missiles and two 500-lb. precision-guided bombs under its wings is the baddest drone known. (Today’s parade is ostensibly put on… Keep reading →

A flight of Aggressor F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges on 5 June, 2008. The jets are assigned to the 64th and 65th Aggressor squadrons at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The Aggressor mission is to prepare the combat air forces, joint and allied aircrews for tomorrowÕs victories with challenging and realistic threat replication, training, academics and feedback.
(U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald) released

Many observers of the US military would agree that the best ideas are often not to be found among its generals and admirals. If you want to find good and disruptive ideas in the military, you get to know the majors and colonels. One of the standard comments you’ll hear about smart colonels is that they… Keep reading →

Deborah Lee James

WASHINGTON: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James warned Congress today that its effort to stop the retirement of the A-10 Warthog and other aircraft could hurt the service’s modernization plans. In a speech before the National Aeronautic Association, James noted the service wants “to transfer and divest some older aircraft in order to free up… Keep reading →

Navy image

NATIONAL HARBOR: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus may want to move drones to the top of his priorities, but what kind of unmanned systems do the Navy and Marine Corps want to buy? Don’t think Predator or even the Navy’s new 131-foot-wingspan Triton. Imagine a swarm of buzzing, scuttling or swimming robots that are smaller but smarter. While a… Keep reading →

MQ-9 Reaper drone

WASHINGTON: Even unmanned aircraft need people to make them fly. Today, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced stopgap measures to shore up overworked drone squadrons. At the same press conference, the service’s Chief of Staff pledged to plug another personnel gap, the shortage of skilled maintainers for the manned F-35 — but, Gen. Mark… Keep reading →

Predator drone operators.

WASHINGTON: The Air Force has worried for almost a decade about the strains on its workforce as it fields more and more Predators, because drones need more people to fly them than do manned aircraft. Now, the head of Air Combat Command has told his boss, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, that he is “extremely concerned” about… Keep reading →

MQ-9 Reaper drone

WASHINGTON: We love being able to say “we told you so,” and today we can. During a 30-minute conference call with reporters Monday, the president of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Michael Toscano, used the word “drone” four times. Not too long ago, Toscano might have washed his own mouth out with… Keep reading →

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