Saturday, April 23, 2011

OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN: Gates: Obama OKs Predator strikes in Libya

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama has approved the use of U.S. armed predator strikes in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said April 22.

"The president has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those," Secretary Gates said. "In fact, he has approved the use of armed Predators (in Libya)."

Armed Predators have been used in Libya "purely as (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems) until today," said Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs said.

Two unmanned armed Predators capable of around-the-clock coverage are now in Libya, the general added. The first flights launched April 22, but were cancelled because of bad weather.

The character of the fight in Libya has changed, general Cartwright said. Moammar Gadhafi's loyalists, he said, are digging in or "nestling up against crowded areas" to avoid being targeted by NATO aircraft.

The more-precise Predators bring "their ability to get down lower and therefore, to be able to get better visibility, particularly on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions," General Cartwright said.

The aircraft are uniquely suited for urban areas where more traditional bombing can cause collateral damage, he added.

"This is a very limited capability," Secretary Gates said, adding that the president has been clear from the outset that the U.S. role would be specifically defined.

President Obama structured the U.S. role in Libya as a limited one because "of all our friends and allies, we are the most-stretched military," Secretary Gates added.

"We have close to 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, we still have 50,000 troops in Iraq and we have 19 ships and 18,000 men and women in uniform still helping on Japan relief," the secretary said.

The president agreed to participate in the international effort against the Libyan government, Secretary Gates said, because "of the worry that Gadhafi could destabilize the fledgling revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt ... and second to prevent a humanitarian disaster."

The president has been clear, the secretary said, "that the primary strike role has been turned over to our allies and our friends, and if we can make a modest contribution with these armed Predators, we'll do it."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

India quietly begins combat drone project

India is quietly going ahead with an ambitious programme to develop its own stealth UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles) or 'smart' drones capable of firing missiles and bombs at enemy targets with precision.

Talking about the secretive AURA (autonomous unmanned research aircraft) programme for the first time, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) told TOI that the aim is to develop the UCAVs for IAF in seven to eight years.

"With Rs 50 crore as seed money, a full-fledged project team with 15-18 scientists has already begun work on the UCAV's preliminary design and technology. With on-board mission computers, data links, fire control radars, identification of friend or foe, and traffic collision avoidance systems, they will be highly intelligent drones," DRDO's chief controller R&D (aeronautics) Dr Prahlada said.

"Capable of flying at altitudes of 30,000 feet and weighing less than 15 tonnes, the UCAVs will have rail-launching for the missiles, bombs and PGMs (precision-guided munitions) they will carry," he added.

The realisation that UCAVs are "game-changers in modern-day warfare" has been reinforced by the successful use of American 'Predator' and 'Reaper' drones, armed with Hellfire and other missiles, against the Taliban in the Af-Pak region.

"But unlike Predators, which are like aircraft, our UCAVs will be more of 'a flying-wing' in design. This will ensure they have a low radar cross-section to evade enemy sensors," said Dr Prahlada.

Pakistan, incidentally, has been after the US to get Predators but so far has only managed to extract assurances for supply of the unarmed 'Shadow' drones for intelligence-gathering missions.

DRDO, on its part, is confident of developing the UCAVs mainly on its own, with "some foreign consultancy or collaboration" in fields like stealth as well as autonomous short-run take-off and landing.

Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) at Bangalore is the main nodal DRDO lab for the AURA project, with others like Defence Avionics Research Establishment (Bangalore), Defence Electronics Application Lab (Dehradun) and Gas Turbine Research Establishment (Bangalore) chipping in.

As earlier reported by TOI, apart from spy drones, India already has some "killer" drones like Israeli Harpy and Harop UAVs. These drones basically act as cruise missiles by detecting and then destroying specific enemy targets and radars by exploding into them.

IAF set to seal $ 10 bn combat aircraft deal

The Eurofighter Typhoon is in combat for the first time over Libya and the Indian Air Force is watching with deep interest. The aircraft is one of six competing for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender. And recent reports give the Eurofighter and the French Rafale the edge in the competition.

Air Marshal PK Barbora, Ex Vice Chief of Air Staff said, "The Air Force is not looking at price. That's not our area of concern. What we want is QRs are focussed on technical aspects, latest technology. Lot is available in the market and there is potential for future growth."

The EuroFighter and the Rafale are relatively new aircraft and in that sense, state of art. The Eurofighter entering service with six air forces in the last few years. And the Rafale in service with the French Air Force.

Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, Director, Centre for Air Power Studies said, "We've bought a huge amount of arms from the US already. In comparision, the last few years, hardly anything from Europe. Therefore, you could make an adjustment and spread your eggs in different baskets."

Subtle weaknesses could rule out some of the contenders. Boeing's F18 is huge and the IAF isn't keen on planes that heavy. Sweden's Gripen is deadly but India's Light Combat Aircraft could be improved to match it. Lockheed Martin's F-16 is also flown by Pakistan.

But, India urgently needs more fighters. The new planes will take ten years to come, even after the deal is signed. An offer for second hand planes, over and above the new ones being negotiated, could sweeten the deal.

The crucial element now, is political capital. How India can leverage the world's biggest fighter aircraft tender for larger gains.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN: Operation Odyssey Dawn Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft participated in the Qatar

Turkey, Incirlik Air Base to support Operation Odyssey Dawn fought Qatari Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters ready to scramble and then for takeoff.

Qatar, a 9-ton of the Air Force Single-seat main stage Mirage 2000-5EDA fighters and three single 2000-5DDA is the trainer switch.

And the Dassault / Dornier Alpha Jet E to operate the advanced trainer six units.
Qatar in January 2011 to replace the Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters to the next generation of Eurofighter Typhoon , Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet , Boeing F-15E , and Dassault Rafale fighter Evaluation jungyirago said. Qatar plans to introduce in the 24-36 units by the end of 2012 is expected to announce the results.

OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN: New coalition member flies first sortie enforcing no-fly zone over Libya

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Airmen from Qatar, the newest member to the coalition supporting the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, flew their first operational sortie March 25 in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

A Qatari Emiri Air Force Mirage 2000-5 flew alongside a French Mirage 2000-5 as part of a formation patrolling one sector of the airspace to prevent the Moammar Gadhafi regime from attacking Libyan citizens. Qatar officials deployed six Mirages and two C-17As to Europe supporting the Franco-Qatari detachment and delivering humanitarian assistance as part of their participation in the operation focused on protecting the Libyan people.

Qatar joins the growing coalition enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. The other nations directly involved in enforcing the no-fly zone are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. United Arab Emirates officials announced on March 24 intention to join the coalition, but is not yet flying aircraft.

"We are very happy to have the Qatar Emiri Air Force become part of our coalition team," said Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, the Joint Force Air Component commander for Operation Odyssey Dawn. "Having our first Arab nation join and start flying with us emphasizes that the world wants the innocent Libyan people protected from the atrocities perpetrated by pro-regime forces. Our efforts have been effective in protecting the citizens from fear of an air attack. We will continue our efforts for as long as it takes for Gadhafi to comply with the conditions established in the U.N. security council resolution."

Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Gadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III.