The Army is now crafting early requirements for what is expected to be a new attack helicopter -- beyond the Apache -- with superior weapons, speed, maneuverability, sensor technology and vastly-improved close-combat attack capability. "We know that in the future we are going to need to have a lethal capability, which drives us to a future attack reconnaissance platform. The Apache is the world's greatest but there will come a time when we look at leap ahead technology," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told a small group of reporters. A future attack-reconnaissance helicopter, now in its conceptual phase, is a key part of a wide-spanning, multi-aircraft Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. FVL seeks a family of next-generation aircraft to begin emerging in the 2030s, consisting of attack, utility and heavy-class air assets.
Pilot Tammie Jo Shults, who was previously a Navy fighter pilot, had to make an emergency landing after an engine explosion; Linda Maloney, a friend and former combat pilot, shares details on'The Story.' Captain Tammie Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor revealed they "pushed fear" away in landing fatal flight 1380 in their first public interview since the harrowing April 17 incident that left one passenger dead. On May 11, the pair's appearance on ABC's "20/20" aired, in which they revealed new details from the cockpit during the tragic flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Dallas' Love Field. Forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport after an engine exploded mid-air, Shults and Ellisor had to act quickly to save the 149 people on board, People reports. "My first thoughts were actually, 'Oh, here we go' -- just because it seemed like a flashback to some of the Navy flying that we had done," 56-year-old Navy veteran Shults recalled. "But really, Darren is just very easy to communicate with and we had to use hand signals because it was loud and it was just hard to communicate for a lot of different reasons."
President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead Wednesday, signing a directive intended to increase the number and complexity of drone flights. The presidential memo would allow exemptions from current safety rules so communities could move ahead with testing of drone operations. States, communities and tribes selected to participate would devise their own trial programs in partnership with government and industry drone users. The Federal Aviation Administration would review each program. The agency would grant waivers, if necessary, to rules that now restrict drone operations.
From crop dusting to package delivery, commercial drones are about to become a part of everyday life. "Just in the last 18 months, we've registered twice as many unmanned aircraft (as) we registered all aircraft from the previous 100 years," said Earl Lawrence, director of the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office. To safely integrate the vast numbers of new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation's airspace, the FAA is relying on a group of 23 research institutions led by Mississippi State University. The Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) is conducting in-depth studies on virtually every aspect of drone operations, including air traffic control, pilot certification and crash avoidance. "What happens when a drone hits a wing or a windshield or any other part of the aircraft is (one) of our key questions," Lawrence said.
As the battlefield use of commercial drones by ISIS extremists becomes more prevalent and sophisticated, there is growing concern that these unmanned aircraft systems could be used in terror attacks inside the U.S. Drones, relatively inexpensive and easily purchased online or at a local big-box retail store, have been modified by ISIS fighters to drop grenades or to surveil troop movements overseas. The terror group continues to bolster its use of weaponized and surveillance drones against Iraqi and U.S. forces. In April, U.S. Central Command told Fox News that coalition troops have as many as 30 encounters a week with unmanned aerial vehicles. In fact, ISIS announced the formation of a new drone warfare unit in January, whose sole purpose is to inflict "a new source of horror for the apostates." And, according to a January report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point "we should expect the Islamic State to refine its drone bomb-drop capability.
A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed Iranian drone advancing on coalition forces in southern Syria on Tuesday, Fox News confirmed. The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle about 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces. This is the second the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone in less than a month. The coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS. This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down on June 8.
Boeing is looking ahead to a brave new world where jetliners fly without pilots and aims to test some of the technology next year, the world's biggest plane maker said in a briefing ahead of the Paris Airshow. The idea may seem far-fetched but with self-flying drones available for less than $1,000, "the basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available," said Mike Sinnett, Boeing's vice president of product development. Jetliners can already take off, cruise and land using their onboard flight computers and the number of pilots on a standard passenger plane has dropped to two from three over the years. Sinnett, a pilot himself, plans to test the technology in a cockpit simulator this summer and "fly on an airplane next year some artificial intelligence that makes decisions that pilots would make," he said. Self-flying aircraft would need to meet the safety standards of air travel, which had its safest year in 2016, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
Experts at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Naval Postgraduate School have deployed drone swarms in a first-of-its-kind aerial dogfight test. In a statement released Friday, Georgia Tech said that that the test involving opposing swarms of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) took place Feb. 9, 2017 at Camp Roberts in Monterey County, California, a National Guard facility. The small propeller-driven foam-winged Zephyr aircraft used in the exercise sported identical computers and used algorithms to collaborate their approaches. In addition, they used communications software developed by the institutions. GPS tracking also allowed the aircraft to be aware of one another.
The U.S. military is developing a fairy-tale-inspired "Gremlin" program that aims to launch and retrieve drones in midair. "Gremlins" are a swarm of drones that can be deployed from a manned aircraft, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. military charged with developing new and innovative technologies for the nation's war fighters. The Gremlin program will allow aircraft pilots to launch the drones as needed, and call them back to the transport plane while both are still in flight. DARPA announced the Gremlin concept in 2015, when the agency called for proof-of-concept designs for the first phase of the project. Now, DARPA is moving on to the second phase, which will see the continued development of two ideas, according to Scott Wierzbanowski, DARPA program manager.
Trespassing drones are becoming such a problem, says one Oklahoma lawmaker, that he wants people to be able to shoot them down without facing civil liability. State Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican who represents the Oklahoma City area, authored a bill that exempts people from lawsuits if they damage drones that veer onto their property, according to multiple reports. The lawmaker's measure unanimously passed out of the state Senate Judiciary Committee in late February and is headed for a full vote in the upper chamber sometime this month, according to ABC-TV affiliate KTUL.com The measure applies to drones that are not under Federal Aviation Administration regulation. "There (are) privacy issues that have not been addressed by any of the FAA regulations or state law," Shortey was quoted by KTUL as saying.