Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey bristles when he hears someone use the word drone

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, May 22, 2014 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey bristles when he hears someone use the word drone.

“You will never hear me use the word ‘drone,’ and you’ll never hear me use the term ‘unmanned aerial systems,’” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today. “Because they are not. They are remotely piloted aircraft.”

Dempsey spoke to Reuters and American Forces Press Service on his way back to Washington from Brussels and the 171st Chiefs of Defense Meeting at NATO headquarters.

The American people seem to have the image of robots “flying around semi-autonomously making their own decisions and conducting kinetic strikes without oversight by responsible human beings,” he said. “It’s not like that at all.”

There are more than 80 people for each remotely piloted vehicle, he said. They operate and maintain the aircraft, and analyze the information gathered. “It’s so important for us to remember that there is a man or woman in the loop,” he said.

And, whether a service member uses a bayonet or a remotely piloted aircraft with a Hellfire missile, “the ethical application of force applies,” Dempsey emphasized.

The law of armed conflict, the principles of war, U.S. ethics and legal bases apply no matter what the weapon, the chairman reiterated. “So, when we introduce remotely piloted aircraft into a theater in a Title 10 role, we apply the same standards,” he said.

The standards are predicated on the near-certainty of the effect — is the weapon going to do what the operators need it to do? Military personnel always assess the risk of collateral damage on people or buildings. And, “we ensure that we are achieving an effect with the appropriate behavior for the United States of America,” Dempsey said.

Remotely piloted aircraft are “a valid, useful and responsible military instrument in the way we use them,” he said. “So long as we continue to think of them that way and so long as we continue to use them in a transparent … ethical way, then I have no concerns about their use.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneAFPS)

By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

Contact Author

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Related Sites:
Photo Essay

USSOCOM 2014. Shopping at Tampa

Photo By Tamara Lush/AP In this May 20, 2014 photo a remote control video is displayed strapped onto a large toy dog at the Special Ops Conference in Tampa, Fla. The video can be strapped to a military dog’s backpack. The conference is one of the key events for the suppliers and contractors of elite commando units worldwide.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A conference for military special operations forces and their gadgets, weapons and tools is being held in Tampa, Florida, this week.

The Special Operations Forces Industry Conference is a key event for suppliers and contractors of elite commando units worldwide.

It’s not just US special operations forces that are shopping this week. International forces from 84 nations are also attending. On Wednesday, a multi-country group of commandos will perform land, sea and air exercises in downtown Tampa.

On the convention floor, there was plenty to see and buy. Among the interesting wares:

– A HARV, or Highly Adaptive Robotic Vehicle. One version looks like a silver child’s ball, but the 4-pound sphere with cameras can be thrown, controlled remotely and outfitted with night vision and microphones for quick surveillance.

– A lightweight medium machine gun that uses .338 Norma Magnum cartridges, eliminating the gap between .762mm and .50 caliber weapons. It’s capable of defeating Level III body armor and “incapacitating soft skinned vehicles,” according to a General Dymanics fact sheet.

  • A torpedo-shaped underwater robot called Bluefin 21. It’s built by a subsidiary of Battelle, Bluefin Robotics. One of these vehicles is currently being used to search the ocean floor for the site of the missing Malaysian airplane.

  • A remote controlled video monitor that can be strapped to a military dog’s backpack.

  • An “RP Strike-M Maverick LTV,” which is a rugged all-terrain quad with a large weapon mounted to the back.

Source: Chron 5/21/14



iHLS TV. In a decade everyone will have armed drones


Publicado el 20/05/2014

Issues and articles discussed in this episode:

Opposition wins elections in India
Israel Aerospace Industries introduce new combat engineering robot
Experts: In a decade everyone will have armed drones
U.S. expands espionage efforts abroad
New U.S. civilian surveillance balloons deployed in Puerto Rico

Source: Israel HLS 5/20/14

NAVAIR Flight Ready: Autonomous Capabilities



Publicado el 19/05/2014

From handheld to high-tech, autonomous systems are at the forefront of today’s Navy. Learn more about unmanned system technology and how it brings increased capability and situational awareness to the warfighter.


Elbit Systems “SPEAR” Mortar System

Publicado el 19/05/2014

Elbit Systems SPEAR – autonomous Recoil Mortar System (RMS) for lightweight 4×4 combat vehicles.

Introducing a revolutionary technology, the advanced 2nd generation RMS reduces 120mm gun barrel firing recoil loads from 30 to less than 10 tons, enabling adaptability with previously non-installable Light Combat Vehicles (LCVs), such as (Humvees), jeeps and more.
This capability significantly improves the maneuverability and operational performance of infantry forces, as it delivers immediate indirect artillery support for effectively engaging a wide range of targets.

SOLTAM SPEAR’s lightweight, modular design enables high-speed, all-terrain vehicle mobility, as well as helicopter and cargo aircraft transportability – allowing rapid deployment in both close range and Special Forces counterinsurgency operations. SOLTAM SPEAR is equipped with fire control, navigation, automatic aiming and propulsion systems, which facilitate a fully-autonomous operation and provide increased fire power and accuracy (within 30 meters of the Circular Error Probability (CEP) radius. In addition, the RMS” advanced target data collection and identification capabilities enhance situational awareness and increase crew survivability. SOLTAM SPEAR is offered both independently as a standalone installation or as an integral part of a larger artillery unit or formation. It is compatible with all types of 120mm smooth bore mortar systems and munitions.

Source:  defenseupdate· 5/20/14

Opinion: The Future of Navy Helicopters

An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu on Oct. 31, 2013. US Navy Photo


In the next 15 to 25 years it is not unreasonable to imagine that unmanned helicopter drones will be shuttling people and parts from shore-to-sea for routine non-tactical resupply missions.

Today unmanned helicopters are finding expanded roles in jobs that prove to be too dirty, dull, or dangerous for manned helicopter crews, said Cmdr. Brian Reardon, PMA-266, head of the MQ-8 Fire Scout program. The smaller MQ-8B Fire Scout recently passed 11,000 hours of operational flight and has more than proved its ability to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); mine countermeasures; and anti-submarine warfare with a high degree of quality and reliability.

Reardon provided a detailed update on the Fire Scout at the Naval Helicopter Association 2014, held in Norfolk May 12 to 15. The operationally fielded MQ-8B and C models are fully autonomous systems that are not flown by a pilot with a joystick on the ground; rather, the aircraft are controlled through the entering of fly-to points and parameters relayed via two way data links that provide flight inputs and receive ISR feeds from the drones.

Reardon offered a recent example of what these unmanned systems are able to provide to the Fleet, noting that last week the forward-deployed USS Elrod (FFG-55), cycled its two MQ-8B birds for 17 flight hours in a single day.

US House Leaders are calling for Secreatary of Defense Chuck Hagel to reduce the ranking of a new medal for unmanned aerial vehicle pilots and cyber troops. US Navy Photo

That type of persistent surveillance coverage is currently in high demand for Special Operations Forces and counterpiracy operations in U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command. The Fire Scouts currently are integrated into the littoral combat ship architecture, and are also being employed on the few remaining Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates.

As more unmanned rotor wing systems mature and proliferate they will soon have a part on any surface platform with a helo pad and the requisite shipboard command, control and communication systems to control and exploit collected data. Reardon added that in addition to exploitation onboard the hosting ship, MQ-8 data is, in some situations, being piped real-time via satellite to exploitation sites in the United States.

The smaller MQ-8B models will soon be augmented, and eventually replaced by the larger MQ-8C model. The Navy has recently contracted to purchase seventeen of the MQ-8C airframes.

The larger C model is built on a Bell-407 airframe. By lightening the aircraft with the removal of the crew and associated survival equipment, the MQ-8C has a 12-hour unrefueled endurance.

Composite squadrons of manned and unmanned aircraft are now deploying on the same ships in the Fleet. As one experienced SH-60R pilot said, “During the oh-dark-30 hours, when manned crews have to contend with fatigue and night operations, it is a lot safer to have the Fire Scout airborne providing an ISR screen for the surface action group.”

The Fire Scouts soon will be adding the RDR-1700B radar that is capable of surface search, inverse, and synthetic aperture radar modes. Also, the C model will soon be certified to carry forward-firing weapons, such as the LAU-153. Those added capabilities will provide for a complete find, fix, and finish capability for the drones.

Also present at NHA 2014 was Sikorsky’s X2. The world record-holder for the fastest helicopter (263 knots) was moved into the Norfolk convention center and will soon be transferred to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum to takes its place in aircraft history.

The aircraft is being used as a test platform to help design and develop a whole new generation of rotary wing craft. Sikorsky and Boeing currently are building a 25,000 pound (roughly the size of a Black Hawk) demonstrator—the SB-1 Defiant. That should be operational in a few years.

Defiant will incorporate a great deal of the X2 technology and will be among other industry entries lining up to compete for the follow-on to the current line of rotor wing aircraft.

Most interesting is the plan to incorporate a selectable autonomy function into the next-generation platform. That capability will allow the aircraft to be fully manned, partially manned, or completely unmanned.

SB-1 Defiant. Sikorsky Photo

The flick-of-a-switch selectability of the manning envisioned will provide tactical flexibility for any mission from a single surface-ship platform.

Not surprisingly, that rapidly evolving area of naval aviation is having an impact on the pilots, aircrews, and support personnel in the naval helicopter community.

As with their introduction into previous mission areas, the drones are seen as a threat to job security, but even the most junior helicopter aircraft commander who deploys side by side with a Fire Scout can grasp the advantages. Letting the robots do the dirty, dull, and dangerous missions, while manned crews pick up the complex tactical mission sorties, will allow the Navy to use the best of both platforms for the foreseeable future.

Source:News USNi 5/19/14


NAVAIR: Final UCLASS Request for Proposal Due in July

An artist’s concept of the Lockheed Martin’s bid for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS). Lockheed Martin Image

Despite a Congressional push to stall the Navy’s next generation carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) plans to issue a full request for proposal (RFP) for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) in July.

Rear Adm. Mat Winter, NAVAIR’s program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, told attendees at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Unmanned Systems 2014 conference the final RFP would be issued following an industry day with the four companies that have participated in the draft RFP process — General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

NAVAIR’s move comes as the House Armed Service Committee (HASC) included language in the current draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill for Fiscal Year 2015 that would put the program on hold until a new study on the program and would be conducted.

The bill included language that claimed the Navy’s current requirements for the program are insufficient for the Pentagon’s own stated goals.

“As planned, UCLASS appears unsupportive of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance for the United States to ‘maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged’,” read the bill.

The character of UCLASS has shifted from a stealthy, well-armed penetrator to a platform focused on uncontested information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and a secondary light strike capability after a contentious debate over the last few years inside the Pentagon.

NAVAIR issued a restricted draft RfP last month to the four companies.

According to Winter in April, the aim of the UCLASS program is to provide two ISR orbits at “tactically significant ranges” 24 hours a day, seven days a week over uncontested airspace.