AF to Jettison 3,700 Airmen
November 17, 2009
Stars and Stripes|by Jeff Schogol
The Air Force announced plans on Monday to cut 3,700 Airmen, saying the mix of a poor economy and good retention has swelled its ranks beyond manageability.
The service will cut 2,074 officers and 1,633 enlisted Airmen through “voluntary and involuntary early separation and retirement programs,” an Air Force news release said.
The reduction process to last into the next fiscal year, according to the release.
The Air Force has been fluctuating between growing and contracting in recent years.
A few years ago, the Air Force cut Airmen to draw down to 316,000 in order to free up money for more aircraft, such as the F-22.
But Defense Secretary Robert Gates halted the personnel cuts after he fired the Air Force top civilian and military leadership in 2008.
The service then decided it needed to grow to 330,000 because it needed Airmen in areas such as the nuclear mission and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. As recently as January, the Air Force was seeking to bolster its officer corps by calling on retired or separated officers up to 60 years old.
So much for the war on terror. America is fighting 3 wars and they don't need people? This just goes to show the US is not trying to win the war, just keep it going. Why would they do that? War is a big money maker for banks, private contractors, big oil. Iraq is costing 225 million a day with the government borrowing every dollar from the fed, a private bank, with interest. Iraq just signed over their oil fields. Blackwater is murdering people and still getting million dollar contracts, Haliburton has been stealing from the government for years and all that can be said is nobody else can do the work.
So why not keep this muslim terrorist gold rush going. With the soldiers deaths against the money they are making, they are willing to take the risk.
Good teams win games, Great teams cover the spread
U.S. Predator Drones Use Unencrypted
Communications Links in Theater?
December 17th, 2009
I’ve seen some stupid shit in my day, but this one takes the cake…
Unless… It’s by design and intended to help the insurgents.
Or, it might be that this is part of a military deception operation where a video feed is broadcast in the clear for PSYOP or other purposes to insurgents:
Military deception is an attempt to amplify, or create an artificial fog of war or to mislead the enemy using psychological operations, information warfare and other methods. As a form of strategic use of information (disinformation), it overlaps with psychological warfare. To the degree that any enemy that falls for the deception will lose confidence when it is revealed, he may hesitate when confronted with the truth.I’d say the chances that known unencrypted links were being used in combat operations are somewhere around zero. But, like I said, I’ve seen some stupid shit in my day, and I’ve never even worked for any government organizations.
December 18 2009
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE
WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.
The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.
The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.
Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.
The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.
Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.
Updated Dec 11, 2009 2:22
10 Israeli UAVs headed
By Yaakov Katz
Ten new Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will debut in Afghanistan in the coming weeks, after the Israel Aerospace Industries made the first delivery of the Heron UAV to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on Thursday[12/10/2009].
Under the $91-million lease, the RAAF will receive 10 Heron UAVs, mission payloads, Automatic Ground Control Stations as well as spare parts. Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) already provides maintenance for the Canadian Air Force - which operates Herons in Afghanistan - and will support the RAAF mission as well.
The Heron was also recently leased to the German military and last month the Brazilian government announced that it was prepared to sign a $350-million deal to purchase Heron UAVs to patrol its cities and borders, and provide security for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
The RAAF chose the Heron from among a number of competitors after it successfully completed a series of tests of its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Under the deal, the Heron will begin operations in early 2010 for one year, with an option for an additional two years.
The RAAF expects the Heron to significantly increase its operational capabilities in the war in Afghanistan. The Heron is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV that can remain airborne for over 30 hours with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and carry a payload of 250 kg.
It has a wingspan of 16.6 meters, a takeoff weight of 1,200 kg, an operational range of several hundred kilometers, an automatic takeoff and landing system and according to IAI, is well suited to the challenging climate and conditions of
March 4, 2010
"Made Locally! Killing Globally!"
Drones Club Meets in San Diego
By FRANK GREEN
The manufacturers of drone airplanes, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are about to see their prospects soar as the Pentagon expands its vast arsenal.
At least that was the message at Tuesday's [3/2/10] "Unmanned Aircraft Systems West" conference in San Diego, where advocates of the lethal composite birds dispassionately described how unpiloted planes directed via satellite will soon come to largely replace the human element on the killing fields.
Use of the so-called Predator and Reaper drones to fight the U.S.-spawned war in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan have rapidly escalated during the opening months of the Obama administration, with 51 reported strikes in Pakistan in 2009 alone - up from 45 during the previous eight years, according to a recent report by the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
The foundation alleges in its "The Year of the Drone" account that more than 1,000 - or 32 per cent - of drone attack victims were civilians.
"People have been so disappointed in President Obama, and now he's expanding production of aircraft which is killing innocent civilians," lamented Carol Jahnkow, executive director of the Peace Resource Center of San Diego.
Jahnkow was standing near a heavily-trafficked intersection across from San Diego International Airport holding a three-foot-wide sign reading "Made Locally! Killing Globally!"
San Diego is the epicenter of drone airplane construction, with the bulk of the machines built by area defense contractor General Atomics and a local division of Northrop Grumman.
The machines, which render both surveillance and attack functions at altitudes of up to 25,000 feet, cost between $4 million and $12 million each to produce - substantially less than piloted bomber planes.
Moreover, the 27-foot-long planes can travel as far as 400 miles to their target, hover there for hours rendering their assignment, and then return home to base.
Just how prized the drones have become to the U.S. military was evident on December 8 when Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, hailed the plane's battlefield advantages during an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Never mind that the drone's reputation for precision snooping and targeting of U.S. foes has been battered lately with increasing reports of deadly stikes on unwary civilians, many of them children.
None of that was broached at the "Unmanned Aircraft" conference, where attendees referred in sometimes oblique terms to the mechanics of refining design wrinkles, target accuracy and other topics.
The two-day conference,... was held under the auspices of the Association of Naval Aviation, with corporate sponsorship supplied by the likes of RTI, a softward services company; HDT Engineered Technologies; Flow Technology and Z Microsystems, among other subcontractors hoping for expanded business from the drone's primary producers.
Several military officials and corporate executives, all of whom asked that their names not be used in this story, defended the dispatch of drones in warfare as an economical strategy to keep soldiers out of harm's way.
Missions can be executed quickly and cleanly using unmanned aircraft, and "with little, if any, collateral (civilian) damage," one company official said.
Other attendees acknowledged that the drones aren't necessarily the weapon for all occasions, but only good for use in relatively poor countries without the military capacity to launch anti-drone missiles and aircraft.
"These (drones) wouldn't do well over, say, Russia," a company salesman said with a laugh.
Frank Green is a veteran journalist and lives in the San Diego area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rogue Nation
By Philip Giraldi, March 11, 2010
In spite of the fact that the United States faces no enemy anywhere in the world capable of opposing it on a battlefield, the Defense budget for 2011 will go up 7.1 percent from current levels. A lot of the new spending will be on drones, America’s latest contribution to western civilization, capable of surveilling large areas on the ground and delivering death from the skies. It is a peculiarly American vision of warfare, with a "pilot" sitting at a desk half a world away and pressing a button that can kill a target far below. Hygienic and mechanical, it is a bit like a video game with no messy cleanup afterwards. The recently released United States
Quadrennial Defense Review reports how the Pentagon will be developing a new generation of super drones that can stay airborne for long periods of time and can strike anywhere in the world and at any time to kill America’s enemies. The super drones will include some that can fly at supersonic speeds and others that will be large enough to carry nuclear weapons. Some of the new drones will be designed for the navy, able to take off from aircraft carriers and project US power to even more distant hot spots. Drones are particularly esteemed by policymakers because as they are unmanned and can fly low to the ground they can violate someone’s airspace "accidentally" without necessarily resulting in a diplomatic incident.
Washington’s embrace of drones as the weapon of choice for international assassination is one major reason why the United States has become the evil empire. Drones are the extended fist of what used to be referred to as the Bush Doctrine. Under the Bush Doctrine Washington asserted that it had a right to use its military force preemptively against anyone in the world at any time if the White House were to determine that such action might be construed as defending the United States. Vice President Dick Cheney defined the policy in percentage terms, asserting that if there was a 1% chance that any development anywhere in the world could endanger Americans, the United States government was obligated to act. It should be noted that President Barack Obama has not repudiated either the Bush doctrine or the 1% solution of Dick Cheney and has actually gone so far as to assert that America is fighting Christianity-approved "just wars," a position disputed by Pope Benedict XVI among others. Far from eschewing war and killing, the number and intensity of drone attacks has increased under Obama, as has the number of civilian casualties, referred to by the splendid bloodless euphemism "collateral damage."
Drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. It should be noted that the United States is not at war with any of those countries, which should mean in a sane world that the killing is illegal under both international law and the US Constitution. America’s Founding Fathers used constitutional restraints to make it difficult for Americans to go to war, requiring an act of war by Congress. Unfortunately it has not worked out that way. The US has been involved in almost constant warfare since the Second World War but the most recent actual declaration of war was on December 8, 1941. And then there are the special and clandestine operations that span the globe.
Apart from Israel, no other country in the world has an openly declared policy of going around and killing people. One would think that the international community would consequently regard both Tel Aviv and Washington as pariahs, but fear of offending the world’s only super power and its principal client state has aborted most criticism. Most nations are resigned to letting assassination teams and hellfire armed drones operate as they please. If Iran were operating the drones and bumping off its enemies in places like Dubai you can be sure the reaction would be quite different.
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What does it say about America's future if earning a degree in "Drone Studies" is something worth
pursuing,and lucrative too:
WE’RE WATCHING U.
More colleges offering courses in ‘hot’ drone field as students
drawn to sky’s-the-limit salaries
By Erik German
Sunday, March 25, 2012
America’s newest college major may well be Drone Studies.
Amid a worldwide boom in unmanned aerial vehicles, a handful of U.S. colleges have begun
offering classes and even four-year degrees for students looking for jobs in the fast-growing
field where even newcomers can earn six-figure salaries.
Jeb Bailey, 28, who has taken every drone-related course at Northwestern Michigan College,
said one of his fellow students at the Traverse City, Mich., school recently landed a job
operating unmanned aerial vehicles for a private military contractor overseas. "He got like
$200,000 per year," Bailey said. "And he didn’t even finish his associate’s degree."
Bailey describes himself as lifelong geek, so the drones’ mix of airborne acrobatics and cutting-
edge technology was definitely a draw, he said. But Bailey, who has spent $80,000 for classes
and manned flight training, said the high pay that drone pilots can earn contracting in war
zones made him take notice.
"Aviation, it’s not a cheap sport," Bailey said. "The idea of going to Afghanistan for a single year
and paying off all my loans — that’s very attractive. In an airlines career path, you really don’t
expect to make a whole lot until you’ve been in the industry 20 years."
By contrast, starting salaries for drone pilots range from $50,000 to $120,000 per year, said
Tom Kenville, who founded a trade group called Unmanned Applications Institute International.
Analysts who process images captured by the vehicles can earn $100,000 per year starting out.
Salaries are rising with demand. Governments, contractors and private companies need pilots
as they launch more unmanned vehicles into the air than ever before. The market research firm
the Teal Group reported last year that annual worldwide spending on unmanned aerial vehicles,
or UAVs, and related research is projected to double by 2020 — to more than $10 billion.
In addition, the pilotless aircraft industry will create more than
23,000 U.S. jobs over the next 15 years, according to a 2010 study by the
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group for robotic and remotely
operated machines of all types.
April 02, 2012
Just Press the Button
The Drone Boom
by VIJAY PRASHAD
The $5.9 billion drone industry looks to double its size. There is a Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (co-chaired by Henry Cuellar and Buck McKeon). The US used to have fifty drones in the arsenal before 9/11, but the airforce now has 7,500 in use. Northwestern Michigan College has pioneered drone studies to prepare "pilots" for a lucrative career. A recently released Air Force’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan, 2009-2047 notes, the drones are essential "to increasing effects while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk." To reduce the risk to nothing, the Air Force has developed the X-47B which is not only unmanned but is also unpiloted. It is a robot, which will determine on its own where to go and what to strike. The Northwestern Michigan College graduates might face redundancy before they finish their degrees.
Drones create little global outrage. The drones have no names like Bales (and his confreres). Their pilots are faceless young people who sit in Nevada or upstate New York. They drink a Coke, play with their computers which send kill messages to their drones. They will have nightmares. With drones there are no stories. No narratives to create outrage. Just bodies of dead people. They have no history.
Droning on and on,here's another article on the expanding role and capability of pilotless
aircraft,coming soon to a theater near you,the latest version:
US draws up plans for nuclear
Technology is designed to increase flying time 'from days to months', along with power
available for weapons systems
By Nick Fielding Monday 2 April 2012
A conventionally powered MQ-9 Reaper drone, which has a flight time of 14 hours when
loaded, could fly far longer with nuclear energy. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty
American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones
capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling.
The blueprints for the new drones, which have been developed by Sandia National Laboratories
–the US government’s principal nuclear research and development agency – and defence
contractor Northrop Grumman, were designed to increase flying time "from days to months"
while making more power available for operating equipment, according to a project summary
published by Sandia.
"It’s pretty terrifying prospect," said Chris Coles of Drone Wars UK, which campaigns against
the increasing use of drones for both military and civilian purposes. "Drones are much less safe
than other aircraft and tend to crash a lot. There is a major push by this industry to increase
the use of drones and both the public and government are struggling to keep up with the
The highly sensitive research into what is termed "ultra-persistence technologies" set out to
solve three problems associated with drones: insufficient "hang time" over a potential target;
lack of power for running sophisticated surveillance and weapons systems; and lack of
The Sandia-Northrop Grumman team looked at numerous different power systems for large-
and medium-sized drones before settling on a nuclear solution. Northrop Grumman is known to
have patented a drone equipped with a helium-cooled nuclear reactor as long ago as 1986, and
has previously worked on nuclear projects with the US air force research laboratory. Designs for
nuclear-powered aircraft are known to go back as far as the 1950s.
U.S. Needs Another 600 Humans
to Fly Its Robot Planes
By Lorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai
June 15th, 2012
The Pentagon doesn’t have nearly enough people to operate its growing fleet of flying robots. Right now, the US Air Force is short nearly 600 drone pilots and sensor operators. And that’s before the military carries out its plans to more than double its armada of remotely operated Reaper aircraft by 2015.
Air Force leaders have been complaining for months that their "number one manning problem … is manning our unmanned platforms." But the generals’ gripe was seen mostly as a worry about finding intelligence analysts to watch the countless hours of surveillance video that the spy drones produce. Turns out, the Air Force also doesn’t have enough people to operate the aircrafts — or to turn and focus their cameras.
From and read more at:
64 Drone Bases on American Soil
June 14th, 2012
By Lorenzo Franschesi-Bicchierai
There are 64 drone bases on American soil. That includes 12 locations housing Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be armed.
Public Intelligence, a non-profit that advocates for free access to information, released a map of military UAV activities in the United States on Tuesday. Assembled from military sources — especially this little-known June 2011 Air Force presentation (.pdf) – it is arguably the most comprehensive map so far of the spread of the Pentagon’s unmanned fleet. What exact missions are performed at those locations, however, is not clear. Some bases might be used as remote cockpits to control the robotic aircraft overseas, some for drone pilot training. Others may also serve as imagery analysis depots.
From and read more at:
Can someone please tell me why we need armed drones flying over US skies above all of our houses?
This is BS IMO.
What happens when these things start accidentally crashing into people's houses?
I also find it amazing that I have not heard one thing on TV or radio opposing this as utterly insane.
Drones over America
21 June 2012
By Tom Carter
With tens of thousands of drones deployed over the mainland, the potential exists to use them to "take out" undesirable individuals within the US, or even gatherings of such individuals. When the 110 planned drone bases are completed, nowhere in the country will be outside immediate striking distance.
The arrangements to deploy these tens of thousands of drones were made entirely behind the backs of the American people. There was no debate in Congress, and despite it being an election year, neither of the two major political parties has raised the issue.
No controls have been put in place with respect to these drones. In fact, Obama signed a bill in February lifting restrictions that might have stood in the way of the rapid integration of drones "into the national airspace system." Outside of a few scattered reports, the corporate-controlled media has remained silent.
The buildup of the infrastructure of a police state is directed at the massive social upheavals on the horizon. The ruling elite anticipates that the American working class will not tolerate indefinitely attack after attack on its living standards, cuts to social programs, and unending war. Opposition will inevitably develop. When it does, armed drones will be watching.
The deployment of drones over the US is one more confirmation that the police-state measures implemented in the so-called "war on terror"–warrantless surveillance, torture, military commissions, incommunicado detention without trial, and "kill lists"–will ultimately be directed at the American people.
They were expendable:
Maple Seed Drones Will Swarm
By Carl Franzen July 4, 2012, 6:25 AM
Imagine a cheap, tiny, hovering aerial drone capable of being launched with the flick of a person’s wrist and able to provide manipulable 360-degree surveillance views.
It’s real, it’s inspired by maple seeds, and the company behind it, Lockheed Martin, envisions a future in which swarms of the new drones can be deployed at a fraction of the cost and with greater capabilities than drones being used today by the military and other agencies.
"Think about dropping a thousand of these out of an aircraft," said Bill Borgia, head of Lockheed Martin’s Intelligent Robotics Lab, in a phone interview with TPM, "Think about the wide area over which one collect imagery. Instead of sending one or two expensive, highly valuable aircraft like we do today, you could send thousands of these inexpensive aircraft, and they are almost expendable."
In June, Lockheed Martin released a video demo of the drone’s capabilities, and it is clearly impressive, launched by hand and piloted using a tablet computer, which also displays the drone’s live surveillance feed.
I think we're fine unless we elect another right winger. Obama has our best interest always. I trust this is a good thing for us. What happens if some terrorist like in Oklahoma City strikes again? With drones we are ready for them.
Anonymous July 11, 2012 12:48 PMThe Pentagon wants awards for bravery for drone pilots
who kill people remotely far from the field of battle
The effort to depict drone warfare as some sort of courageous and noble act is intensifying:
The Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield. . . .
[Army Institute of Heraldry chief Charles] Mugno said most combat decorations require "boots on the ground" in a combat zone, but he noted that "emerging technologies" such as drones and cyber combat missions are now handled by troops far removed from combat.
The Pentagon has not formally endorsed the medal, but Mugno’s institute has completed six alternate designs for commission approval. . . .
The proposed medal would rank between the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldier’s Medal for exceptional conduct outside a combat zone.
So medals would be awarded for sitting safely ensconced in a bunker on U.S. soil and launching bombs with a video joystick at human beings thousands of miles away. Justifying drone warfare requires pretending that the act entails some sort of bravery, so the U.S. military is increasingly taking steps to create the facade of warrior courage for drone pilots:
The Air Force has been working to bridge the divide between these two groups of fliers. First off, drone operators are called pilots, and they wear the same green flight suits as fighter pilots, even though they never get in a plane. Their operating stations look like dashboards in a cockpit.
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What's next? Medals for people who play "Call of Duty"?