Saturday, August 9, 2008

MQ9 Reaper - Predator UAV

Imagine coming home from a hard day’s work, relaxing on the couch, and busting out your XBOX 360. Instead of playing a video game, you decide it would be nice to unwind while thinking to yourself…”ten seconds to impact”, then witnessing the full-color obliteration of an opportunistic target in Iraq. While this situation is not entirely accurate, it is very close to what US Air Force pilots of tomorrow will be doing on a daily basis as they command the new squadron of MQ9 Reapers set to arrive in Iraq. Controlled–piloted–from a base in Nevada, remote-control airplanes with laser-guided bombs and hellfire missiles attached to them will be raining death from above on anything that might look out of place. In fact, it seems like all the hoopla about the Democratically supported troop “pull out” seems more or less like this–human army out, robot army in. About 60 MQ9s have been ordered by the air force, and they will be flying out of the largest US Air Force base in Iraq, Balad Air Base just outside of Baghdad. Likewise, Balad has begun construction of a 400,000 sq. ft. expansion of the runway to accommodate the staging of the new Reapers. Ultimately, the MQ9 Reaper represents the culmination of about 20 years of R&D, mostly carried out by engineering students working at our nations best research universities. From MIT to Georgia Tech, probably millions of man-hours from our brightest aeronautical, electrical, and mechanical engineering students seeking their doctorates have been, and likely unknowingly, contributing to the final product that represents the forefront of a futuristic military comprised of hunter-killer robots and aircraft. As long as they are used to dominate the world, then I guess that no time has been wasted, not even by reading this article. Have a nice day, and never forget that our people are the most valuable asset we have in America.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fire Scout - UAV Helicopter

Manufacturer: Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC]

Sometimes I have trouble controlling myself when it comes to some of this stuff. I have seen it before on TV, but just simply haven’t gotten around to writing about it. I’m talking about the awe-inspiring Fire Scout UAV helicopter. A remote control helicopter capable of autonomous take-off, landing, and flight, it really just makes me giddy. Not to mention that this death machine’s release was coupled with an upgrade to the Hydra 70 rockets typically fired from the rocket pods mounted on Ah-64 Apaches. Now they’re laser-guided. I guess they figured that they just couldn’t have a creation as brilliant as this tainted by “dumb” unguided payloads. Seen this guy on Future Weapons yet? Of course they’ve already made some with the Metal Storm gun mounted to the weapons pylons.

This bad boy has already been procured by the US Army, whose interest in turn spurred a purchase by the US Navy. The Fire Scout actually landed on a moving ship during, on auto-pilot, during its testing phase. The Fire Scout will eventually end up being deployed at the brigade level, and I’m sure that they are looking forward to having such a weapon added to their already Omni potently superior arsenal. Actually though, it really is just one of the cogs in the network-centric warfare concept known as Future Combat Systems.

V22 Osprey - Hybrid Helicopter Aircraft of the Future

V22 Osprey

Manufacturer: Boeing [NYSE: BA]

Obviously, getting troops to the battlefield as quickly as possible is a paramount concern for military planners. Choppers can carry many troops, but really can’t fly very far or fast. Planes can get troops there quickly, but where can you launch transport planes without a runway? Aircraft carriers are too small, nevermind the deck of an amphibious assault ship. Clearly, a solution is needed for high speed troop transport in a scenario of limited runway space. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, and respectively the Americans invented the V22 Osprey to fill this vital role. Employed by the United States Marine Corp, the V22 Osprey is the only tiltrotor aircraft in production by any nation’s armed forces. Combining the essential elements of the vertical take-off of a helicopter with the speed and mid-air refueling of a convential airplane, the V22 Osprey can get lots of troops to anywhere, and fast. The top speed of the Osprey stands at around 316 mph, where the closest helicopter comparison, the CH-47 Chinook transport, only reaches 196 mph. In support of a high speed amphibious invasion, this aircraft is intended to work alongside the Marine Corp’s new LCAC’s and EFVs, which will enable the US Marines to rush up to any shoreline with overwhelming force.