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Posts Tagged ‘Air Force’

Pentagon: F-35 won’t have a chance in real combat

March 9, 2013 Comments off

rt.com

Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (Reuters/Lockheed Martin/Darin Russell)

Fatal flaws within the cockpit of the US military’s most expensive fighter jet ever are causing further problems with the Pentagon’s dubious F-35 program.

Just weeks after a fleet of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters was grounded for reasons unrelated, a new report from the Pentagon warns that any pilot that boards the pricey aircraft places himself in danger without even going into combat.

In a leaked memo from the Defense Department’s director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon official prefaces a report on the F-35 by cautioning that even training missions cannot be safely performed on board the aircraft at this time.

“The training management system lags in development compared to the rest of the Integrated Training Center and does not yet have all planned functionality,” the report reads in part.

In other sections of the lengthy DoD analysis, Operational Test and Read more…

Categories: military Tags: , , ,

America’s Space Weakness

January 10, 2012 Comments off

the-diplomat.com

On August 15, 2010, the U.S. Air Force almost lost a $2-billion communications satellite. A team of military and contract space operators eventually saved the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, built by Lockheed Martin. But the rescue, admittedly an impressive technological feat, is also a window into the greatest weaknesses of the world’s leading space power, according to one space insider.

The seven-ton “AEHF-1,” part of a planned six-satellite constellation meant to support radio communication between far-flung U.S. military units, had been in orbit just one day when the problems began. The satellite started out in a highly-elliptical, temporary orbit. The plan was to use the spacecraft’s on-board engine to boost it to a permanent, geo-stationary orbit. But when the Air Force space operators at Los Angeles Air Force Base activated the engine, nothing happened. The Government Accountability Office would later blame Read more…

The U.S. Arsenal Is Antiquated And Falling Apart

September 15, 2011 Comments off

businessinsider

Stratotanker

Image: wikipedia commons

Despite the daily stories of billion dollar purchasesand enormous contracts, the military’s main arsenal of ships, tanks, helicopters, and planes is decades old and ready to be replaced.

The Wall Street Journal reports that because the U.S. spent the last decade developing weapons and equipment for two specific conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, updating the rest of the arsenal was left undone.

In one instance, an Air Force pilot flies the same 30-year-old F-15 his father flew; in another, an Air Force navigator bought an off-the-shelf GPS to get better weather data and aviation notices than what’s available in his C-130 cargo plane.

From WSJ:

Much of the equipment currently in service dates to the Reagan-era Read more…

The Growing Threat From China’s Air Force

August 24, 2011 Comments off

wsj

By MICHAEL AUSLIN

Two advanced Su-27 fighters recently chased an American reconnaissance plane over the Taiwan Strait.

China watchers have been fixated on the maiden voyage of Beijing’s first aircraft carrier this month. However, U.S. and Asian defense planners should take care not to ignore another aspect of China’s growing military might. The Chinese Air Force may one day play the most significant role in challenging America’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific. At the same time, looming cuts to the U.S. Air Force may wind up reducing its ability to protect American interests.

As the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center put it in a report last year, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or Plaaf, has been “transforming itself from a poorly equipped and trained organization into an increasingly capable fighting force. Dramatic changes have occurred, and continue to occur, in the areas of mission, organizational structure, personnel, education, training, and equipment.”

Today, the Plaaf remains Read more…

Secretive X-37B Space Plane Launches on New Mystery Mission

March 7, 2011 1 comment
space.com 

The Air Force

 

The Air Force’s second X-37B robot space plane blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011 to begin its secret Orbital Test Vehicle 2 mission.
CREDIT: United Launch Alliance 

After being delayed a day by bad weather, the U.S. Air Force’s second X-37B robotic space plane blasted off from Florida this afternoon (March 5) on a mystery mission shrouded in secrecy.

The unmanned X-37B mini-shuttle — known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) — took to the skies from Cape Canaveral at 5:46 p.m. EST (2246 GMT) today, tucked away in the nose cone atop a huge Atlas 5 rocket.

“Liftoff of the Atlas 5 rocket and the second experimental X-37B, America’s miniature military space shuttle,” the Air Force Space Command wrote in a Twitter post as the Atlas 5 streaked into the Florida skies.

The space plane was originally scheduled to launch yesterday, but cloudy, windy conditions scrubbed two attempts. And a technical glitch caused the X-37B to miss a launch window earlier this afternoon; a faulty valve had to be replaced in a last-minute repair.

The X-37B’s mission is classified, but Air Force officials have said the vehicle will be used to test out new spacecraft technologies. Shortly after launch, the mission went into a scheduled media blackout, with no further public updates.

Today’s launch marks the start of the X-37B program’s second space mission. The Air Force’s other X-37B plane, known as OTV-1, returned to Earth in December 2010 after a similarly mysterious seven-month maiden mission. [Photos: First Flight of the X-37B Space Plane]

Air Force's Mystery X-37B Robot Spaceship to Launch Today 

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is shown inside its payload fairing during encapsulation at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla., ahead of a planned April 2010 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
CREDIT: USAF 

Mysterious mini-shuttle

The X-37B spacecraft looks a bit like NASA’s space shuttles, only much smaller. The vehicle is about 29 feet long by 15 feet wide (8.8 by 4.5 meters), with a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed. By comparison, two entire X-37Bs could fit inside the payload bay of a space shuttle.

The space plane, built by Boeing for the U.S. military, can fly long, extended missions because of its solar array power system, which allows it to stay in orbit for up to nine months, Air Force officials have said. [Infographic: The X-37B Space Plane]

What exactly the vehicle does while circling the Earth for so long is a mystery, since the craft’s payloads and missions are classified. Partly as a result of the secrecy, some concern has been raised — particularly by Russia and China — that the X-37B is a space weapon of some sort.

But the Air Force has repeatedly denied that charge, claiming that the X-37B’s chief task is testing out new hardware for future satellites — instruments like sensors and guidance, control and navigation systems. And that’s likely to be the case, experts say.

“It gives the Air Force the ability to test-fly some of this hardware,” said Brian Weeden, a former Air Force orbital analyst who works as a technical adviser for the nonprofit Secure World Foundation.

Weeden suspects the X-37B is testing gear for the National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency that builds and operates the U.S.’s spy satellites. That would explain all the secrecy, he said.

The x-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is an unmanned space test vehicle for the USAF.  

CREDIT: Karl Tate, SPACE.com 

Second mission for the X-37B

The Air Force’s other X-37B, known as OTV-1, launched last April and returned in December after spending 224 days in space. While its mission was also classified, technology-testing was OTV-1’s primary job, too, Air Force officials have said.

The Air Force's second X-37B space plane soars toward space atop an Atlas 5 rocket after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011.   

The Air Force’s second X-37B space plane soars toward space atop an Atlas 5 rocket after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 5, 2011.
CREDIT: United Launch Alliance

 

And things presumably went well, experts say, or the Air Force wouldn’t be launching the craft’s twin a few short months later.

While the X-37B is likely trying out new hardware, the vehicle itself is experimental — hence the “X” designation — so these flights should also help the Air Force assess the space plane as well as its payload.

“Part of its mission is to test out reusable technologies and to see how quickly they can turn around these vehicles and launch them again,” Weeden said.

Boeing’s Space and Intelligence Systems division builds the X-37B for the Air Force. Originally, NASA used the space plane as an experimental test bed until funding for the project ran out in 2004.

The vehicle then passed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and was ultimately turned over to the Air Force in 2006.


Russia Working on Mysterious Space Plane of Its Own

February 5, 2011 Comments off

It’s official: the space race is on again.

54 years after the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik I satellite, sparking the original space race — and 20 years after the USSR’s collapse left America as the sole space superpower — the Russians are back on track. The Kremlin’s military space chief Oleg Ostapenko just announced that Russia is developing a small, maneuverable, reusable space plane to match the U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.

Russian industry has already outlined the craft’s design, Ostapenko said. “As to whether we will use it, only time will tell,” he added coyly.

But it seems unlikely Russia would forgo the opportunity to Read more…