Defense

February 7, 2014

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

Russ Mayes
Air Force News Service

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, ACCís 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 Forceís 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.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Timothy Young

F-35 on time to deliver global security, Air Force official said

Air Force photograph by SrA. Timothy Young An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron, takes flight July 18, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Work leading up the completion of the multinational F-3...
 
 
Navy photograph

Navy’s Triton unmanned aircraft completes first cross-country flight

Navy photograph The Navy’s unmanned MQ-4C Triton prepares to land at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Sept. 18 after completing an approximately 11-hour flight from Northrop Grumman’s California facility.   The M...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Christopher Ruano

F-16 collision-avoidance system could save lives

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Christopher Ruano The Air Force Research Laboratory Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System will automatically take over an aircraft’s flight controls if a crash is imminent. The technolo...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>