air force

With Drone Shortage, Air Force Pilots Train With Cessnas Dressed Up Like Predators

Converted manned aircraft with mounted sensor balls will imitate Predators and Reapers during military exercises

Surrogate Predator: A Cessna 182 wears the sensor ball of a Predator  Lon Carlson, L-3 Communications

A high demand for Predators and Reapers on the front lines has led the U.S. Air Force to take an unusual step: asking human pilots to mimic the drones for training purposes back in the States.

Cessna 182 aircraft have become converted "Surrogate Predators" with the installation of a "Predator ball" that typically serves as the surveillance and tracking eyes for drone operators. Such Predator balls give the manned Cessnas the ability to lock onto targets and track them.

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Pew Pew! Airborne Military Laser Takes Out Truck

In a recent test at the White Sands Missile Range, a specially equipped C-130 plane fried a parked truck with a powerful laser. And PopSci's got the video.

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Air Force Calls for Unmanned Cargo Aircraft To Supply Hazardous Combat Zones

Drone aircraft could become the air mules of tomorrow for the military

Drones already rule much of the skies over modern day battlefields, and could someday begin ferrying cargo to forward bases and troops. The U.S. Air Force put out a call this week for a fully autonomous unmanned air vehicle that can deliver cargo within a combat radius of 500 nautical miles.

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DARPA Wants A Few Good Space Debris Cleaners

Pentagon seeks solutions for clearing space junk from Earth orbit

Mad science agency DARPA has a new addition to its wish list: technology to clean up thousands of pieces of orbiting space junk. Surely, world peace can't come far behind on the agenda.

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Air Force Displays Its New "Focused Lethality Munition"

The drone-like bomb packs precision guidance systems and a highly focused lethal blast

Dr. Strangelove's Major 'King' Kong might have trouble riding this sleek bomb down to the ground, but that's the entire point of a munition meant to reduce collateral damage.

The Focused Lethality Munition, on display at the Air Force Association show, puts the emphasis on precision, with a GPS-guided inertial guidance system that supposedly has hardening against possible jamming.

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Air Force Shoots Down Runaway Drone Over Afghanistan

A drone pilot's nightmare came true when operators lost control of an armed MQ-9 Reaper flying a combat mission over Afghanistan on Sunday. That led a manned U.S. aircraft to shoot down the unresponsive drone before it flew beyond the edge of Afghanistan airspace.

The U.S. Air Force stated that a manned aircraft took "proactive measures" to shoot down the Reaper, which ended up crashing into the side of a mountain. Reaper drones have typically engaged in hunter-killer missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by targeting enemies on the ground with Hellfire missiles.

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Coming Soon: An Unblinking "Gorgon Stare" For Air Force Drones

The next-generation surveillance package for the Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper drones, named for Medusa's stony glare, will provide an unprecedentedly broad view of the battlefield spanning time and space

MQ-9 Reaper:  USAF
The military’s unblinking eye in the sky, which keeps watch over operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is about to get even beadier. A new multi-camera sensor the U.S. Air Force is adding to its killer spy drones will exponentially broaden the area troops can monitor, and the technology lets a dozen users simultaneously grab different slices of the image. Called the Gorgon Stare, it represents the next big step in unmanned combat aircraft.

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Video: An Annotated Predator Drone Strike in Afghanistan

Captain Adam Brockshuh, USAF walks us through footage from the gun camera of an MQ-1 Predator drone during a real-world strike on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan

In this video, exclusive to, Captain Adam Brockshus narrates a Hellfire missile strike on a group of insurgents in Afghanistan. As a Predator instructor pilot, Brockshus was called into the Ground Control Station to oversee a former student who was taking his first shot in combat.

Click on for an inside look at how the hundreds of attack missions using unmanned aircraft are executed.

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New System To Allow For Automated Predator Drone Landings

Any pilot will tell you that flying is the easy part, it's landing that's hard. That adage is especially true for robotic planes like the Predator and Reaper drones. While the UAVs can follow a pre-programmed flight path, they still need a human to bring them safely down to the tarmac. And that means a lot of UAVs crashing due to human error.

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Building an Electronic Fence to Track Space Junk

To ward off orbital debris, three aerospace companies compete to design a "space fence"

Thousands of manmade pieces of space junk orbit the Earth, threatening astronauts and unmanned missions alike. Now the U.S. Air Force Space Command wants an electronic "space fence" that could track any orbital object larger than two inches in width.

Such a surveillance system would require a global network of sensitive S-band radar stations that operate in the gigahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The U.S. Air Force currently relies on a system dating back to 1961, which only covers the continental United States, and can only track objects 20 inches in width or larger.

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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Takes On Thunderbirds Stripes

Though we’re likely a decade from seeing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in action, much less in the Air Force's elite Thunderbirds squad, that hasn’t stopped Lockheed Martin from releasing these images of the military’s new fighter jet in full Thunderbirds dress.

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President Convinces Congress To Scrap Additional F-22 Order

Veto threat keeps order for stealth fighter at 187

The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was designed to defeat any threat it might face on the modern battlefield. However, earlier today an even tougher fighter based out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shot down seven of the planes before they even got off the assembly line.

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Depiction vs. Reality: The Air Force Hardware of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

If you're seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen tonight, prepare yourself for a parade of hardcore military hardware unlike any you've ever seen. As was the case with the first Transformers film, the U.S. Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office played a significant role in assisting with and supervising the placement of military gear.

But what happens when the F-22 Raptor--a weapons system in jeopardy of being canceled entirely--plays a central role in the film, while unmanned drones are flying nearly constant missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? We talked to the USAF Entertainment Liaison Office to find out.

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Hackers Breach the Joint Strike Fighter Program

Cyberwarfare ratchets up as intruders siphon information from the Pentagon's most sensitive and expensive weapons program. Are Chinese hackers responsible?

After frightening revelations that hackers have already managed to break into the computer systems that control huge swaths of the United States' power grid and other pieces of national infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reports that cyber-spies have broken into the Pentagon's Joint Strike Fighter program -- its costliest initiative -- and made off with several terabytes of sensitive data.

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New Boomerang Missile Can Destroy Enemy Fighters Behind Combat Jets

The Australian Air Force comes up with an F/A-18 first

Score another one for Australians after inventing the didgeridoo and koala teddies: Their Air Force just got the first missile that can kill enemy fighters behind their F/A-18s, converting the hunter to (dead) prey.

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