Monday, January 26, 2009

Extra Red Flag week allows for more missions

Extra Red Flag week allows for more missions: "In the most significant change in its more than 30-year history, the Red Flag aerial combat exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., will expand from two to three weeks for the exercise that begins in late February and will include a greater emphasis on close-air support missions."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

MDA Fires Rocket Motor for New Target

MDA Fires Rocket Motor for New Target: "

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) test fired the rocket motor of a new Flexible Target Family (FTF) target vehicle.

The LV-2 target vehicle will be a two-stage launch vehicle that employs C4 rocket motors from retired U.S. Navy Trident missiles in both stages. MDA officials hope to use the FTF later this year for the first time as a target for a missile defense test.

The FTF program is designed to use as much commonality as possible in crafting targets for missile defense tests, eliminating maintenance hungry and out-of-date legacy systems.

The test took place Jan. 22 at China Lake Naval Warfare Center, Calif.

Below is a pic of the test (pardon the writing, please)


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credit: MDA

Also, a graphic of the configuration LV-2


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credit: MDA


(Via Ares.)

24 F-22s Deployed To Guam and Okinawa

24 F-22s Deployed To Guam and Okinawa: "U.S. officials say the ongoing rotation of forces is to ensure security and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region"

(Via Aerospace Daily & Defense Report on

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nearby range to help new Cannon AFB wing

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.—The 66,000-acre Melrose Air Force Range just 25 miles from Cannon Air Force Base will become the key air-to-ground combat training area for the Air Force Special Operations Command.
"It's not just a bombing range," said Lt. Col. Paul Caltagirone, deputy group commander for the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon. "Melrose is the crown jewel of the western home of the air commandos."

The range was cited by state and local leaders who argued against closing Cannon during a round of nationwide base closures in 2005. Eventually, the base near Clovis was saved with a new Special Operations Command mission.
Several additions are planned for the range, Caltagirone said. Those include two impact zones for certain types of weapons firings; drop zones for troops and cargo for the CV-22s and C-130s that will be flying at Cannon; and at least one landing zone for C-130s, CV-22s and small aircraft. The zones would recreate true blacked-out conditions and possibly unpaved surface landings.

Cannon is to get eight AC-130Hs this summer and 15 to 20 Attack Cargo aircraft over the next five years. CV-22 tilt-rotor Ospreys also will come to Cannon later this year.
Caltagirone said the Air Force's only gunships—AC-130Hs and AC-130Us—are valuable to ground troops because of their "persistent overhead accurate lethal firepower."
"We're trying to grow our capability here at Cannon ... so we provide more assets to not only special operations, but conventional forces on the ground," he said.

The range also will be used for ground training. A military operations and urban terrain site is being built.
"It's basically a city you build out in the middle of nowhere," Caltagirone said. "You bring in teams and they're allowed to train

in a close-quarters urban environment with overhead gunship support. ... They can go block-by-block in this city that's built out there. We're going to attract a lot of small tactical teams out in that regard."
Other ground training planned includes a sniper range and small arms range, he said.
Having so much training at the Melrose range saves fuel costs. But Caltagirone said the biggest benefit is operational tempo—crews won't lose training time in travel.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smithsonian's Dove on Bird Strike

Smithsonian's Dove on Bird Strike: "

When I heard this report on NPR recently, it struck me that Carla Dove, a scientist and erstwhile snarge expert with the feather-identification lab at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, has the perfect name for her job.

After a bird strike occurs, the feathers and other organic materials -- known as 'snarge' -- are sent to the lab, where DNA testing and feather matching techniques are used to identify the bird species.'

Click here to listen to the report and read the story. (NPR, All Things Considered, Jan. 16, 2009)

Identifying the bird helps operators take action to remove the environmental factors that caused the bird and the aircraft to collide in the first place. Once the species is known, Dove explains that operators can take steps to remove the specific vegetation, habitats, etc. that attract the species to the airport, to lessen the risk of future bird strikes.'


(Via MRO Blog.)

Underneath -- looking up.

Photographed from "The Spot " on the approach to Runway 4 at Rick Husband (Amarillo) International Airport.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Full Tilt Boogie!

What do you do when you are piloting a brand spanking new multi-million dollar MV-22 Osprey and the winds begin to gust in excess of 40 mph?

You try and ride it out ... going nowhere fast...

...and when the gusts are beyond limits you put it down quickly - somewhere -- anywhere!

Once safely down you then check your instruments - and your shorts ... wait for the gusts to subside ...

... take back off ...

... and land it on the runway alongside the F-18 jockeys who you hope didn't see what you almost just did.


Aggressors In Amarillo

Out at the airport (Rick Husband/Amarillo Int.) today there was a free air show - of sorts. The pattern was filled with military aircraft, including two F-18s on their way to Red Flag - two V-22 Ospreys doing test work ( with one of them almost loosing it in the high winds) several assorted KC-135 tankers from Altus AFB, OK and even a Navy E-6 (TACAMO) doomsday aircraft.

Here are a couple shots of a Navy Aggressor FA/18 from VFC-12 NAS Oceana all decked out in a Russian paint scheme. These guys play the bad guys at Red Flag, and true to form he flipped me the bird when he saw me taking pictures of him!

I had a great day none-the-less. I'll post more later.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

New CASA ELT Rules Take Effect Soon

New CASA ELT Rules Take Effect Soon: "

Emergency locator transmitters that operate on frequencies 121.5 and 243 MHz can't be used in Australia after Feb. 1, according to a notice of final rulemaking issued by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The rule took effect Feb. 1, meaning that all ELTs used in Australia soon must operate on 406 and 121.5 MHz.

''''''''''' ELTs, essentially distress beacons, become activated after an accident either automatically by embedded electronics or manually by a pilot or other person. Active beacons are detected via satellite or by other aircraft. CASA explains its satellite-based ELT monitoring service provider, Cospas-Sarsat, will cease processing the 121.5/243 MHz signals.

''''''''''' As another new requirement, CASA mandates the 406/121.5 MHz ELTs be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

''''''''''' Click to view the new rule: NFRM 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs)—Amendments to Civil Aviation Regulation 1988 (CAR) 252A and Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 20.11'''''''''''


(Via MRO Blog.)

6 bases considered for Global Strike Command

6 bases considered for Global Strike Command: "The Air Force announced Wednesday the six bases where officials are considering stationing the permanent headquarters of Global Strike Command:"

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

N. Korea claims to have 'weaponized' plutonium

N. Korea claims to have 'weaponized' plutonium: "Senior North Korean officials say the communist regime has 'weaponized' its stockpile of plutonium, according to a U.S. scholar, in a move suggesting that North Korea may have significantly hardened its stance on nuclear negotiations.



NTSB: Pilot ditched in river to avoid 'catastrophe'

NTSB: Pilot ditched in river to avoid 'catastrophe': "The right engine of a US Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River Thursday is still attached to the aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday.



Friday, January 16, 2009

Black Horizon: More "Red Whoosh" photos

Here are a few more frames. In one of the earlier photos it almost looks like it staged, like a rocket.

First stage plume?

Enlarged and enhanced. You can see a conical object at the head of the plume.

All photos (C) Steve Douglass and require permission for use.

Note: Turn up your speakers and reload this page to hear the military aircraft radio chatter I recorded at the time of this sighting that may or may not be related.

Investigation in plane’s river landing begins

Investigation in plane’s river landing begins: "NEW YORK — Everything about the fate of Flight 1549 seemed like a million-to-1 shot — a flock of birds crossing a jetliner’s path and taking out both engines, a safe landing in the Hudson River by a former fighter pilot."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

FBI: Man held in Nellis bomb hoax

FBI: Man held in Nellis bomb hoax: "LAS VEGAS — The FBI says a 30-year-old man from Fresno, Calif., could face federal charges after allegedly driving onto Nellis Air Force base in a rental truck that he said had a bomb."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

'We're going down -- brace for impact' NYC plane crash a miracle.

'We're going down -- brace for impact': "Passengers scrambled to get off a sinking jetliner after it went down Thursday in New York's Hudson River with 155 people on board. The US Airways jet apparently experienced a bird strike while en route to Charlotte. All of the passengers survived. 'I think that's miraculous,' a passenger told CNN.



Another Red Whoosh!

I shot this sequence of another "Red whoosh" This time it headed straight up until its contrail disappeared and I couldn't see it anymore. I was looking southwest toward New Mexico Test Ranges where I (educated) guess this thing may have originated.

Luckily I had my 300 mm lens with me.

I did happen to be recording my military aviation scanners at the time and caught a cryptic snippet - at about the same time as the sighting but I don't know if it is related to the sighting.

I'll post the wav file later,

Enlarged and enhanced:

Comparison shot of a normal (military) contrail made a few minutes later.

(C) Steve Douglass

Link to .wav file of possibly associated military communication:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Solar Weather Threat To Wired Earth

Solar Weather Threat To Wired Earth: "U.S.-commissioned report sees possibility of 'space weather [hurricane] Katrina' that could cost up to $2 trillion"

(Via Space Channel.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Supersonic and Tailless - the Next Step in Stealth?

Supersonic and Tailless - the Next Step in Stealth?: "

The US Air Force may have decided to stay subsonic for its ultra-stealthy Next Generation Bomber, but it has not lost interest in high speed for long-range strike. Air Force Research Laboratory officials speaking at the AIAA aerosciences meeting in Orlando (Jan. 5-8)'say they are windtunnel-testing stealthy tailless supersonic designs with embedded engines. The combination has never been done before, they say, and the technology needs to be matured before it will be seriously considered by the Air Force.

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Photo: Arnold Engineering Development Center

The key technology is active flow control, which is used to improve the efficiency of'the serpentine inlet and exhaust ducts for the embedded engines and for'stability and'control of the tailless aircraft. The above model of a Lockheed Martin design has been tested in the 4ft transonic tunnel at AEDC to compare the effectiveness of a jet-effects spoiler (lower wing) and a conventional solid spoiler (upper wing) for yaw and roll control.

Supersonic designs, manned and unmanned,'were evaluated in the analysis of long-range strike alternatives that led up to the selection of a manned subsonic platform for the Next Generation Bomber, A key factor was technology maturity, as the NGB is intended for service-entry in 2018 and has to be low-risk. Broadband all-aspect stealth requires a tailless configuration, and the risk with a supersonic design was too high, says AFRL.

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Artwork: Northrop Grumman

With a subsonic platform selected, the Air Force is looking at high-speed weapons that could be carried by the NGB. AFRL, Air Combat Command and Pacific Command are evaluating long-range strike weapon alternatives under a project called Trespass/Trespals - an acronym no-one seems able to explain. Options include a missile derivative of the scramjet-powered X-51 hypersonic demonstrator.


(Via Ares.)

Bio-Inspired Robots

Bio-Inspired Robots: "

Dave Fulghum had an article in this week's AW&ST entitled 'Bugging the Bugs'. It appeared here on the Aviation Week website yesterday as Unmanned Vehicles Mimic Insects.

It turns out that BAE has a resource page for the project you might be interested in. A couple images:

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I call this one 'Cylon Dragonfly MAV'.

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Bumper sticker for your Porsche: My other spider's a UGV.

BAE also has a video animation of how robots like these might work with combat troops.


(Via Ares.)


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