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Pentagon Works to Disable Drones

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (Courtesy photo)

By Debbie Gregory.

To the military, they are  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS). But they are more commonly known as drones.

Drones have an array of applications ranging from being mere hobby gadgets to their increasing use in professional photography and cinematography, intelligence, mapping, reconnaissance as well as target destination besides being used in rescue missions.

Drones are used in military situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult, and often times are used as weapons with the ability to drop explosives.

Although helpful on the battlefield, drones also present a clear and present danger to our troops when they are in the hands of the enemy.

Stopping the drones has become a challenge for the Pentagon and its allies.

To that end, the Pentagon is working to develop lasers and microwaves to eliminate enemy drones in the sky.

Some soldiers are equipped with “anti-drone” rifles that use pulses across radio frequencies to interfere with the vehicles’ controls.

As terrorists move to drones as their weapon of choice, the Pentagon agency called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) is working with defense companies to develop counter-drone strategies, including lasers and microwaves to blast drones from the sky.

While France and Holland are training eagles and other birds of prey to attack enemy drones, Raytheon is mounting a high-energy laser weapon on top of a militarized dune buggy to take out drones. Raytheon also has “the Phaser”, a high-powered microwave cannon that can scramble a drone’s avionics.

CACI is developing “SkyTracker” to find and track drones using radio frequencies. And Lockheed Martin has “Athena”, a laser capable of destroying the tail of a fixed-wing drone.

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Military Connection: New Drone Training Facility in Colorado

RQ-7

By Debbie Gregory.

The Colorado Army National Guard recently dedicated a new facility to train drone operators for real world missions.

Keeping up with warfare technology is at the forefront of the success of the U.S. military. But equipping our forces with the best strategies and tools is only half the battle. Training our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and members of the Coast Guard to use their resources is just as vital to military success. The new facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora will provide that essential component for Colorado’s Army National Guard members who operate the RQ-7 Shadows.

RQ-7 Shadows are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS, commonly called drones) that carry out reconnaissance and surveillance missions, including battle damage assessment and target acquisition. The use of drones provides invaluable intelligence without putting American lives in harm’s way. Shadows and other UAVs serve as an eye in the sky for many ground operations, providing a picture of the battle that helps commanders make the most informed decisions for ground troops and air assets.

Because of the nature of the missions that Shadow operators carry out, training should include coordinating with ground forces and other elements. The new facility will provide drone operators with that type of training with classrooms, planning areas, maintenance bays and drone simulators.

Previous drone operator training has been primarily classroom-oriented, with only simulated ground forces coordination and other elements in realistic joint exercises on Buckley AFB. The new facility is geared to provide operators with the most holistic training curriculum, involving the real-world feel of their mission in a safe training environment.

The National Guard says that the new facility comes with a $4 million price tag.

In this age of budget cuts and sequestration, getting the funding to open new facilities is a difficult task. But it is imperative to the success of our armed forces that they get quality training and exercises as close to real world missions as possible.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Drone Training Facility in Colorado: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Next Generation of USMC Drones

Marine Corps Drones

By Debbie Gregory.

As the use of mechanized warfare continues to evolve, the United States Marine Corps is making a push for its next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be more versatile. One of the features that the U.S.M.C. wants for all of its UAVs, usually referred to as drones, is the capability to be launched and operated from Navy vessels.

Many civilians may not know that the Marine Corps is a part of the Department of the Navy.Historically, marines (predating, and including early U.S.M.C.) were sea-going infantry, often responsible for ship-to-ship combat in the days when ships would board each other. Marines have also traditionally been used as expeditionary forces, brought across bodies of water onboard naval vessels and disembarked to the shore. Today’s Devil Dogs of the U.S.M.C have many more areas of responsibility than their predecessors, but they still embark on U.S. Navy ships, and are used as expeditionary forces.

Keeping with their amphibious warfare role, it only makes sense that, like their Marines, the Corps’ equipment be capable of ship-to-shore operations. The next generation of U.S.M.C. drones will range in size from hand-launched model-airplane sized to UAVs that are the size of manned aircraft. The drones will be used for surveillance, attack missions and logistic support. The Corps is even looking to use some for medical evacuation of wounded Marines.

Previous generations of Marine UAVs were almost solely land based. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marine drones mostly utilized long runways on land-based airstrips. The Corps’ leadership is reluctant to rely on those types of resources being readily available for any possible needs in the future. A self-reliant Marine Corps with ship-borne troops and ship-borne UAVs is much better equipped for any challenge.

The Marine Corps also wants their new drones to come equipped with control settings that would allow for a single control station to pilot any of the Corps’ drones. They are also in the process of developing unmanned ground vehicles like the Internally Transportable Vehicle, which was designed to fit inside an MV-22 Osprey.

The Navy and the Coast Guard have also begun efforts to develop their next generation of drones that are suitable for ships. Most notably is the Navy’s X-47, which has already conducted safe takeoffs and landings from aircraft carriers, both solo and with other manned aircraft on deck.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Next Generation of USMC Drones: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Air Force Looks to Bolster Drone Pilot Pool

Drone Pilots

The United States Air Force has been finding it difficult to secure candidates for their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot program. Now, Air Force leadership is taking aggressive steps to fill the much needed drone pilot positions from their pool of National Guard and Reservist pilots.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James is laying out plans to increase incentive pay in order to bring more National Guard and Reserve pilots onto active duty, and find volunteers to fill needed slots to fly drones. James has told the media that the Air Force may seek large retention bonuses for drone pilots, close to the maximum $25,000 stipend that manned aircraft pilots receive.

The Air Force has struggled with manning drone operators. The demands of ongoing operations around the world, including persistent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, have only made the problem worse. And according to General Mark Welsh, Air Force Chief of Staff,  plans to reduce the number of combat air patrols by drones have instead  increased, mostly due to the airstrike missions in Iraq and Syria.

There are currently 988 active-duty pilots for the Predator and Reaper drones – the two most lethal unmanned aircraft commonly used for surveillance and strikes. More than 1,200 pilots are needed.

Gen. Welsh says that the Air Force can only train approximately 180 drone pilots a year.  But the annual need for drone pilots is closer to 300. And the Air Force loses about 240 drone pilots a year, as drone operators move to other jobs, or leave the military for higher paying jobs operating drones for the drone manufacturers that sell them to the military.

In an attempt to combat the issue, James said that she will more than double the monthly incentive pay for some drone operators, from $600 to $1,500, in order to persuade them to stay in the Air Force. The incentive would be targeted towards those who have finished their initial six-year service commitment. All drone pilots now get the $600 monthly stipend, but current policies do not allow for any retention bonuses, unlike the up to $25,000 given to manned aircraft pilots to encourage them to stay in the service.

Ms. James also said that she will shift funds in order to bring some National Guard and Reserve drone pilots onto active duty, and will ask other trained drone operators to volunteer to deploy for six months to some of the more strained units. It is expected that 33 current drone pilots will be asked to voluntarily stay in their jobs, rather than going back to their original aircraft, as planned, later this summer.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Air Force Looks to Bolster Drone Pilot Pool: By Debbie Gregory