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.


 
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 
 
LM-C130

U.S. Air Force receives additional MC-130J Commando II

MARIETTA, Ga., Aug. 27, 2015 – A crew from the U.S. Air Force Aug. 27 ferried a new MC-130J Commando II aircraft assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command to Cannon Air Force Base, N.., from the Lockheed Martin facilit...
 

 
af-uav4

Arming the RPAs

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Joseph Swafford A1C Matthew Lopez (center), 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015...
 
 
dragon-lady1

Local efforts help keep Dragon Lady flying at 60

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings A U-2 Dragon Lady soars above the flightline at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 22, 2014. The low-altitude handling characteristics of the aircraft and bicycle-type lan...
 
 
Air Force photograph

U.S. Navy awards production contract for additional P-8A aircraft, first RAAF planes

Air Force photograph A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft parked on the tarmac during a BALTOPS 2015 mission on the flightline of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, June 9, 2015. The U.S. Navy awarded a nearl...
 




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>