Vandenberg continues to pave the way as the West Coast’s premiere space and missile establishment
Vandenberg AFB is home to the 14th Air Force, 30th Space Wing, 381st Training Group, and the Western Launch and Test Range (WLTR). A peninsula location on the Pacific Coast makes it ideal to easily launch satellites into polar orbit. This, along with its location relative to the jet stream, makes Vandenberg a good site to launch reconnaissance satellites.
Everyday thousands of Team Vandenberg members come together and work as a single force to further space power on California’s central coast. Only one unauthorized person in a critical area during a launch window can shut the operation down. Much of the base is rugged, mountainous, and undeveloped, so it can be difficult to patrol and monitor all areas of the base in the hours prior to a launch.
Vandenberg is paving the way for other bases security requirements. It has established an innovative program using a small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), called the Raven for base security. The RQ-11 Raven weighs 4.5 pounds, has a five-foot wingspan and stretches only 38 inches in length. It is equipped with a video camera which streams live feed to an operator on the ground. The Raven is launched by hand, has about an hour of flight time on a single battery charge. The system includes spare batteries and a charger that plugs into a Humvee.
Recently, the Raven found three unofficial persons on Point Sal beach just prior to a launch, which could have caused a delay or stop the launch. Day and night, live video capabilities let the Raven greatly assist with the overall situation awareness picture helping ensure mission success. Based on this success, Vandenberg is interested in more unmanned aircraft than just the Raven.
Vandenberg has requested that in early July, Mr. Mark N. Lewellen, one of Applied Technology Institute (ATI) instructors, teach ATI’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course at Vandenberg AFB. This one-day course is designed for engineers, aviation experts and project managers who wish to enhance their understanding of UAS.
The course provides the “big picture” for those who work outside of the discipline. Each topic addresses real systems (RQ-11 Raven, the RQ-7 Shadow, the MQ-1 Predator, and the RQ-4 Global Hawk) and real-world problems and issues concerning the use and expansion of their applications.
Topics covered include:
History of UAS
Categories of current UAS and their aeronautical capabilities
Major manufactures of UAS
The latest developments and major components of a UAS
What type of sensor data can UAS provide?
Regulatory and spectrum issues associated with UAS
National Airspace System including the different classes of airspace
How will UAS gain access to the National Airspace System (NAS)?