Air Force

February 7, 2014

Remotely piloted aircraft flies first long-duration test using repurposed satellite

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft sits on a ramp. The Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets.

WASHINGTON — Using a repurposed commercial satellite, Air Force crews flew MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during multiple missions in November and December.

A test team with the 53rd Test Management Group, Detachment 4 and led by Lt. Dan Broyles successfully demonstrated inclined orbit satellite capability for MQ-1 and MQ-9 to meet operational needs this year and beyond, said Maj. Joshua Williams, the detachment commander.

MQ-1 and MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft were used during tests late last year to implement beyond line-of-sight capability using lower-cost, inclined orbit satellite communications.

“Inclined orbit satellites are older satellites that lack the fuel to maintain a fixed geostationary location and are allowed to drift into slightly ‘wobbling’ orbits,” said Lt. Col. Gary Rafnson, the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron commander. “This wobbling requires users to use satellite dishes that move to track the satellites rather than fixed dishes like those used by satellite television providers.”

This technical difficulty limits the utility of inclined satellites for commercial users, resulting in reduced lease costs over traditional satellites.

“MQ-1 and MQ-9 programs have integrated the required satellite tracking software and the 53rd Wing, as part of the Air Force RPA test community, developed procedures for continuously updating the satellite tracking data needed,” Rafnson said. “Leveraging space expertise, the RPA test community turned to the 17th Test Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base (Colo.) to guide them in obtaining the essential data from military rather than commercial sources. This ability to ingest satellite tracking data from the Joint Space Operations Center, Vandenberg Air Force Base (Calif.), will minimize the chance of errors and ensure the antennas point at the right location.”

For Air Combat Command, inclined orbit SATCOM provides a tangible, long-term savings opportunity, said Derek Jatho, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 communications lead. As an indicator of the type of savings that can be achieved, ACC’s latest lease for continental Unites States commercial SATCOM includes four inclined orbit SATCOM lines at approximately 50 percent savings over a typical lease.

“Increased (inclined orbit) SATCOM use, depending on availability, will further reduce the Air Force’s total annual SATCOM costs, and ACC plans to expand its use after sufficient evaluation,” said Col. Brian Pierson, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Weapons Systems Division, Plans, Programs and Requirements directorate chief.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

First enlisted Airmen awarded Weapons School graduate patches

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — History was made June 27, when five graduates of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Joint Terminal Attack Controller Weapons Instructor Course became the first enlisted Airmen in the school’s 66-year mission to be awarded the Weapons School’s graduate patch. These graduates will now be recognized as subject matter...
 
 

Staying safe during flash flood season

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — July is here with high temperatures and a high chance of flash flooding. The months with the highest probability for thunderstorms are July through September. Las Vegas’ annual rainfall is approximately 4.13 inches, and while this may not seem like a lot of rain, the elevation of Las Vegas...
 
 

Conquer fear, live your dream

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Are you living the dream? Do you wake up with energy each morning or do you need an energy drink to get you going? If you constantly hit the snooze button on your alarm, wake with no energy and low self-esteem, need lots of coffee, soda or energy drinks...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz

Weapons School honors newest graduates

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, delivers the keynote speech during the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Class 15-A graduation ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., Ju...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay

Hunters save lives through RPA Human Performance Team

U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay Considering the demands facing the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise, Team Creech has formed their own human performance team to meet the needs of those suppo...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Employment Assistance Program aids military members’ transition

Courtesy photo Members of the Nellis community attend a job fair as part of the Airman and Family Readiness Center’s Employment Assistance Program at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 23. The Employment Assistance Program he...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>