Category Archives: Defense, Including Radar, Missiles and EW

This blog posts news about the Defense industry, including links to industry news and articles, and announcements of continuing education for professionals who are working in the radar, missiles and EW profession.

Vandenberg AFB Uses Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Provide Base and Launch Security

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)?

New 1-day short course on Unmanned Aircraft Systems

ATIcourses has a new 1 day short course on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. A full description  is at

What You Will Learn:

  • 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)?

From this course you will gain practical knowledge to understand the different classes and types of UAS, optimize their specific applications, evaluate and compare UAS capabilities, interact meaningfully with colleagues, and master the terminology.

Facts and Figures on UAS

UAS on Wikipedia

UAV Forum

DoD UAS Roadmap 2007-2032

Shepard UVOnline

Radar and Radar Signal Processing Systems Are Making Flying The Friendly Skies Safer From Bird Strikes

Radar and advanced radar signal processing technology can help make flying safer by avoiding bird strikes.

In the wake of the emergency crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River on January 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a hearing on implementing currently available avian radar technology to airports throughout the United States. The avian radar industry urges the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make the friendly skies a safer place by immediately deploying commercially-available avian radar systems to our nation’s airports. Bird strikes pose a serious threat to aviation safety. According to the FAA “there were more than 7,400 bird strikes in the United States in 2007, including 110 that caused substantial damage to aircraft.”

According to Dr. Tim J. Nohara, President of Accipiter Radar “avian radar can help mitigate bird hazards where they are most likely to occur around the airport. Real-time monitoring and alerting of approaching flocks of birds helps wildlife control personnel better manage bird hazards.”

In 2006, the FAA began evaluating the avian radar program Accipiter Avian Radar to assess if the use of commercial avian radar at airports would be justified, and would not compromise safety and would be compatible with existing wildlife control operations. The FAA contends that due to the unusual circumstance of the birdstrike current avian radar systems could not have prevented the crash of flight 1549. Flight 1549 was an unusual in that it was a high altitude strike (2800 feet) and did not occur in the immediate vicinity of the airport.

Developers within the avian radar industry, however, assert that current avian radar technology could have prevented the crash. Gary W. Andrews, CEO of DeTect (a industry leading developer of avian radar systems) stated that although some avian radar systems do not have long-range detection capabilities systems, others such as MERLIN Aircraft Birdstrike Avoidance Radar can reliably detect and track bird flocks at a range of up to 8 miles.

Andrew’s contends that MERLIN Radar system has been successfully used throughout the globe for “birdstrike risk detection, tracking and alerting at commercial airports, military airfields, and space launch facilities, with real-time bird activity displays used by airfield managers, bird control staff and air traffic controllers”
Courses in radar and radar signal processing are now becoming available to the public. The Applied Technology Institute of Riva, MD., will offer a three-day course in July 13-15 in Laurel,MD. ATI’s Radar Signal Analysis and Processing using MATLAB course explores algorithms for signal detection, false alarms, tracking techniques and systems performance equations.

Radar Signal Analysis and Processing using MATLAB course is being held July 13-15, 2009 in Laurel, Maryland, in the Washington DC area.

Tracking Soviet Submarines During the Cold War

This is an interesting article about a Navy Captain who served in submarines and was involved in tracking one of the first Soviet submarines patrolling off the Atlantic coast of the US. The incident used passive sonar to track a Zulu submarine in May 28, 1959 and was able to direct a patrol plane to photograph the submarine as it surfaced to recharge its batteries. This was an intelligence bonanza for the US.

Acoustic Analysis Software

ATI’s Advanced Topics In Underwater Acoustics course

The course provides an in-depth treatment of the latest results in a selection of core topics of underwater acoustics.Topics include software for analysis of acoustic signals and software to predict underwater propagation. Its aim is to make available to practitioners results in a tutorial form suitable for people who are already informed about the basics of underwater acoustics.

Avisoft is a company that makes a software package designed for bird and other animal researchers. They have a “lite” version available as a download.
Raven is a very capable acquisition and analysis software package from the Cornell group. Free Lite version. It now supports multi-channel recording
Sound Ruler is a free analysis and graphics package designed for animal sound analysis.
Adobe Audition Commericial Sound Analysis software. Expensive.
Sound Emission Analyzer (SEA), from the bioacoustics group at Pavia, Italy. Mainly developed for bioacoustic studies, this software can be used for a wide range of applications requiring real-time display of sounds and vibrations. It allows to view in real-time the spectrographic features of sounds acquired by any sound device compatible with Windows
BatSound software system: Real-time Imaging/Recording. Has evaluation version as download. Listed by Pettersson Elektronik AB: the Swedish Bat Detector company.
Syrinx A Windows program for spectral analysis, editing, and playback of acoustic signals.
Spectrogram 16 Spectrogram version 16 is a freeware dual channel audio spectrum analyzer for Windows which can provide either a scrolling time-frequency display or a spectrum analyzer scope display in real time for any sound source connected to your sound card.
Sonobat: software provides a comprehensive tool for analyzing and comparing high-resolution full-spectrum Sonograms of Bat echolocation calls recorded from full-spectrum and time-expansion bat detectors.
Ishmael Sound acquisition program with automatic call (signal) recognition, file annotation, acoustic localization
XBAT is a sophisticated architecture for sound analysis that allows you to write your own analysis tools in additon to the ones provided in the distribution.

Workers For The U.S. Satellite Industry

I thought that this was interesting:

by Marion Blakey, President and CEO
Aerospace Industries Association

Photo 1
The U.S. satellite industry has a great deal to worry about these days ­— lost opportunities due to outdated export control rules, global competition from more and more countries every day, the various technical challenges of providing new services — but there’s another issue out there affecting the entire aerospace industry that demands attention in the satellite sector — a looming workforce crisis.

The U.S. aerospace industry workforce is currently dominated by aging workers — baby boomers who were enthralled with space travel and answered our nation’s call to win the Space Race and put Americans on the moon. Today, nearly 60 percent of aerospace workers were age 45 or older in 2007, with retirement eligibility either imminent or already reached.

There is a growing need to replace these experienced workers, especially the engineer talent pool, with capable new talent to ensure that the United States continues to be the world’s leader in satellite technology and other important aerospace applications. But there are not sufficient numbers of young people studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — the STEM disciplines — that would put them on the path to enter aerospace careers and replace our retiring workers.

There is very strong competition for our nation’s brightest math- and science-oriented students. Aerospace companies are forced to share talent with a variety of high-tech industries that were not even around when baby boomers were selecting their careers. For example, more than half of those who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in engineering go into totally unrelated fields for employment. And the numbers earning advanced degrees in STEM subject areas lag other fields by huge margins.

More at

UAV Helped With Pirate Incident

  • ScanEagle’s Pirate Patrol Proves Potency Of UAV
    From The Enterprise (White Salmon, Washington), written by Jesse Burkhardt, comes the story of how local company Insitu’s “ScanEagle” drone aircraft contributed to the successful military operation on April 12th that freed American ship captain Richard Phillips who was being held hostage by Somali pirates and then enduring the ensuring four-day standoff. Full Story
  • The Bainbridge employed the  ScanEagle UAV technology to provide around the clock observation of the lifeboat.

Seeking Sea Based Strategic Deterrence and Future SSBNs

I found this interesting for my underwater acoustics readers.

U.S. Seeks Successor to Trident Submarine
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KING’S BAY, Ga., Feb. 20, 2009 – The U.S. Navy has started the process to find a 21st-century successor to the Trident strategic missile submarine, senior Defense Department officials said here yesterday.
“We’re just at the opening phases right now, going through the proper systems engineering that will advance that particular design approach,” Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter told reporters at a news conference.

Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, Tridents are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy’s inventory. The first Trident ballistic-missile submarine, the USS Ohio, was commissioned in 1981.

“A wide variety of options” are being considered for the Trident’s replacement, Winter said. However, the Navy secretary expressed his belief that the Trident system would be replaced by another undersea-going platform.

“I do fully expect that it is going to be a submarine,” Winter said of the Trident’s successor.

Prior to the news conference the Navy’s top leaders and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were among senior officials who attended a ceremony that paid tribute to the crew of the USS Wyoming Trident strategic missile submarine.

The USS Wyoming finished its 38th patrol Feb. 11, marking the 1000th completed patrol of a Trident submarine since the Ohio embarked on its initial patrol in October 1982. The Wyoming was commissioned in July 1996 and began its first patrol in August 1997.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Winter’s belief that the Trident’s replacement “will be a submarine.”

Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. Gary Roughead told reporters of the resilience and independence exhibited by submariners’ families.

“I think the families of our submariners are really like submariners, a special breed,” Roughead said. “And, my hat’s off to them, and they have my utmost respect and support.”

The U.S. military is about to embark on its Quadrennial Defense Review and a Nuclear Posture Review, Cartwright said, to determine what types of defense capabilities will be required to maintain U.S. national security in the coming years. The QDR is performed every four years.

The threats America faces during the 21st century are much more diverse and involve “a much broader spectrum of conflict against a much broader number of enemies, to include those that are not nation-states,” Cartwright told reporters.

Gauging and evaluating future threats and determining what kinds of military capabilities and systems will be needed to deter them will be debated during the QDR and the nuclear posture review, Cartwright said.

U.S. defense planners are now seeking “to tailor our deterrence for the types of actors that were not present during the Cold War but are going to be present in the future,” Cartwright said.

And, “it will be the sailors that will make the difference in deterrence, not necessarily just the platforms,” Cartwright said of the Navy’s future nuclear-deterrent mission.

The 14 nuclear-missile carrying Trident submarines based here and at other Navy ports provide more than half of America’s strategic deterrent capability, King’s Bay officials said.

“The application of deterrence can be actually more complicated in the 21st century, but some fundamentals don’t change,” Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said. “And, the underlying strength of our deterrence force remains the nuclear deterrent force that we have today.”

The Trident submarine strategic missile force “is absolutely essential” to America’s nuclear-deterrent capability, Chilton said.

“And, it’s not just to deter nuclear conflict,” he said of the Tridents’ mission. “These forces have served to deter conflict in general, writ large, since they’ve been fielded.”

The U.S. government agreed to reduce the number of its strategic-missile submarines as part of the 1992 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Consequently, four of the Navy’s 18 Trident submarines were modified to exchange their nuclear missiles for Tomahawk-guided cruise missiles. These vessels carry the designator SSGN. In 2006, the USS Ohio was converted into a guided-missile submarine.

At the news conference, Roughead said the Navy is “really pleased” with the converted Trident submarines, which also carry a contingent of special operations troops, as well as the Tomahawks.

“That [type of] submarine has performed extremely well,” Roughead said of the cruise-missile carrying Tridents.

The facility here was established in 1980, replacing a closed U.S. ballistic submarine facility that had been based in Rota, Spain. In 1989, USS Tennessee was the first Trident submarine to arrive at the facility. Another Trident training facility is based in Bangor, Wash.

On-Site Training at Your Facility

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