HomeNewsArticle Display

Remotely piloted aircraft flies first long-duration test using repurposed satellite

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Using a repurposed commercial satellite, Air Force crews flew MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during multiple missions in November and December.

A test team with the 53rd Test Management Group, Detachment 4 and led by Lt. Dan Broyles successfully demonstrated inclined orbit satellite capability for MQ-1 and MQ-9 to meet operational needs this year and beyond, said Maj. Joshua Williams, the detachment commander.

MQ-1 and MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft were used during tests late last year to implement beyond line-of-sight capability using lower-cost, inclined orbit satellite communications.

“Inclined orbit satellites are older satellites that lack the fuel to maintain a fixed geostationary location and are allowed to drift into slightly ‘wobbling’ orbits,” said Lt. Col. Gary Rafnson, the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron commander. “This wobbling requires users to use satellite dishes that move to track the satellites rather than fixed dishes like those used by satellite television providers.”

This technical difficulty limits the utility of inclined satellites for commercial users, resulting in reduced lease costs over traditional satellites.

“MQ-1 and MQ-9 programs have integrated the required satellite tracking software and the 53rd Wing, as part of the Air Force RPA test community, developed procedures for continuously updating the satellite tracking data needed,” Rafnson said. “Leveraging space expertise, the RPA test community turned to the 17th Test Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base (Colo.) to guide them in obtaining the essential data from military rather than commercial sources. This ability to ingest satellite tracking data from the Joint Space Operations Center, Vandenberg Air Force Base (Calif.), will minimize the chance of errors and ensure the antennas point at the right location.”

For Air Combat Command, inclined orbit SATCOM provides a tangible, long-term savings opportunity, said Derek Jatho, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 communications lead. As an indicator of the type of savings that can be achieved, ACC’s latest lease for continental Unites States commercial SATCOM includes four inclined orbit SATCOM lines at approximately 50 percent savings over a typical lease.

“Increased (inclined orbit) SATCOM use, depending on availability, will further reduce the Air Force’s total annual SATCOM costs, and ACC plans to expand its use after sufficient evaluation,” said Col. Brian Pierson, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Weapons Systems Division, Plans, Programs and Requirements directorate chief.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
The nation’s most elite, #USAF #HonorGuard team, recently debuted their 2019 routine! (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemb… https://t.co/QxwpQdczUO
20 @AFSpecOpsCmd #Airmen will ruck from TX to FL in honor of Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, a #SpecialTacticshttps://t.co/bbti0C2Nlm
#Doyouevenlift? We do! @AirMobilityCmd #C17s recently delivered #hope on its way to the man-made humanitarian crisi… https://t.co/b1GicnXJ3l
.@AFWERX & @Techstars announce the 10 companies participating in #techaccelerator. See how they're working to solve… https://t.co/BCdoR4Cmmt
RT @DeptofDefense: These probably aren’t the FRIES you’re used to. @USArmy Special Forces operators practice their skills with the Fast Ro…
RT @AFEnergy: From installations, to propulsion, to maintenance, to research... engineers are critical to every part of the @usairforce mis…
.@HAFB #Airmen and the F-35 are a lethal combo during exercise Red Flag. For more about the exercise:… https://t.co/nc7F82hPI8
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from @Whiteman_AFB, is staged on the flightline @JointBasePHH, Jan. 30, 2019. (… https://t.co/SVPJe2AfGH
#USAF, @USMC & @USArmy air & ground force elements train together, strengthen skills in the field and sky. #Jointhttps://t.co/Arm1IXIaDy
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis
.@30thSpaceWing civilians use #innovation, reutilization, and team dynamics to save #USAF $1 billion.… https://t.co/TpFKYvaxay
.@374AirliftWing #Airmen are leading the way, learning how the M50 gas mask works w/other #USAF large-frame aircraf… https://t.co/n3cuh1OQnd
“Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.” - Senior #Airman Jeffre… https://t.co/DM22RiBKNN
Citing health, safety concerns, @SecAFOfficial and @GenDaveGoldfein order commanders to conduct ‘100% review’ of al… https://t.co/DzvwOAQDvH
The 6 finalists of @SecAFOfficial’s #SparkTank initiative will showcase their ideas to #USAF senior leaders at… https://t.co/s9PUuNa3BN
The U.S. considers freedom to operate in #space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to prosperity &… https://t.co/qcgciOUiTe