Posts Tagged ‘Unmanned Aerial System’

UAS students graduate from inaugural class

December 23, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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A first-of-its-kind combat familiarization program for pilots slated to fly unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, will graduate nine newly-winged lieutenants from Team Randolph’s 563rd Flying Training Squadron Monday. 

The four-week Unmanned Aircraft Systems Fundamentals Course, or UFC, began instruction Nov. 21 at Randolph AFB (TX). It’s designed to give the fledgling pilots a feel for the air- and ground-based battle space environment in 100 hours of combined simulator and academic classes. 

The UFC provided the pilots with a computer-based simulation using high-end gaming technology and exposing them to multiple Air Force strike aircraft on a cyber-based battlefield. 

“It simulates the real-world ground-combat and air-combat environment for the UFC students,” explained Lt. Col. Scott Cardozo, 563rd FTS director of operations. 

Capt. Tom Moore, 563rd FTS UFC flight commander, civilian contract instructors, and combat systems officer instructors from the 563rd FTS taught, observed, tested and critiqued the student pilots through simulated computer-based air strikes in a real-time, extremely high-fidelity, air combat picture. 

UFC instructors predict that eventually 100 UFC graduates per year will learn to fly UASs at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and eventually work with the UAS enlisted sensor operators throughout the world. The nine pilots will head to the two-week Joint Firepower Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 26. Then, it’s on to the flying training unit at Creech AFB. 

After that, qualified UAS pilots will be assigned to manned aircraft and possibly move between manned and unmanned aircraft as their Air Force careers progress. 

They’re off to a fine start, said Captain Moore, an award-winning flight instructor and flight commander shepherding the young lieutenants through the course. 

“They have all done well,” he said. 

Colonel Cardozo also praised his young charges. 

“They have strong academic averages and have taken advantage of all the training we can give them,” the colonel commented. “They learned how to read and understand an Air Tasking Order. They also learned weapons employment, watched computer videos and read text message conversations on live Predator feeds from overseas.” 

Captain Moore said the students also learned how to employ sensors on attack aircraft.
One of the nine lieutenants spoke about his experience in the inaugural course. 

“I learned in this course how we fit into the bigger picture of coordinating the airspace of a battle,” 1st Lt. Brandon Ongra said. “We’ve never been operational in the combat Air Force and here we’ve learned the capabilities of different aircraft and their weapons.”

Sean Bowlin

One Dollar (!) Investment PRovides ComSec for Predator UAV

August 15, 2008

Aviation calendar 2009

Aviation calendar 2009

The 2009 Aviation Calendar published by features 13 striking images of manned and unmanned military aircraft, from US Air Force and RAF fighter jets to unmanned combat air systems. The Aviation Calendar 2009 and its military planes from the US, Britain and France are available exclusively online through The PAtriArt Gallery.

MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial system pilots at Ali AFB (Iraq) can now talk over a secure Internet phone line using their headsets thanks to one Airman’s ingenuity and one dollar.

Staff Sgt. Ray Stetler, the NCO in charge of base information and infrastructure for the 407th Expeditionary Communications Squadron at the base, received a 2 a.m. phone call that led him to make the modification, which grants pilots access to Voice Over Secure Internet Protocol.

The sergeant said the 407th ECS help desk thought he could fill the request because of his reputation for fixing things. After they called, he went out to the Predator site and contacted the person who called in the work request.

“All he told me was that (higher headquarters) wanted to be connected to the pilot for a mission the next day, and he called the communications squadron because he couldn’t think of anyone else to call,” said Sergeant Stetler, noting that he’d never worked with secure radios or VOSIP phones before that night.

After contemplating for a few minutes how he was going to make the modification, he went to work. With five hours, a soldering iron and two meters of cable — total cost, $1 — the NCO completed his impromptu invention.

“I terminated a network connection cable inside the headset coming from the wire harness and connected it to the conference call terminations on the circuit board inside a VOSIP phone,” said the 31-year-old from Phoenix.

Predator operators can plug the modified headset into the radio system and make a call to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center or anyone else using VOSIP, said the sergeant, who is deployed from the 31st Combat Communications Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Previously, pilots used an instant messaging system to talk with higher headquarters. Using VOSIP to conduct a mission increased productivity by 50 percent, said Capt. Trey Teasley, a Predator pilot with Detachment 1, 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron here. Captain Teasley conducted one of the first missions with the modified headset.

“Now, we don’t need to get on our keyboard to type our request or take our eyes off the screen,” he said. “We can just talk (to the CAOC) to receive clearance authority to engage a target or get other updates instead.”

By using VOSIP, pilots can tap into the same resources that are available at their home units and the CAOC, said the captain, who is deployed from the 11th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.

“With the phone, (people at the CAOC) are able to call us and use all the (communications) capabilities available there to feed us real-time support through the headset,” Captain Teasley said.

Looking back, Sergeant Stetler said he just did what he could to close a trouble ticket, but now realizes his invention improved the way Predator pilots do business. It was his simple fix that caught the attention of Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Air Forces Central and 9th Air Force commander.

“I never would have thought that a three-star general would know what I did, much less think so highly of it,” Sergeant Stetler said.

General North, who visited Ali Base in July, urged the 11-year Air Force veteran to share his creation with others. Upon the general’s recommendation, Sergeant Stetler immediately submitted his design to the Air Force’s Innovative Development through Employee Awareness Program. If the Air Force adopts his idea, Sergeant Stetler could receive an award of up to $10,000 — not a bad return for a $1 investment.


Francesca Popp