Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bastille Day

Mr. DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoItToYou is green with envy.  Why didn't the Pentagon give him a flying hoverboard and a three and a half hour show?

My favorite as always was the axe wielding Pioneer detachment of the Légion étrangère.  Axes for their Pioneer duties.  Tough buffalo hide aprons for their Sapper role to protect the family jewels from 18th century breaching blasts.  I need to grow a beard like those.  I'll pass on the epaulets though.  They won battle honors at Sevastopol, North Africa (three times), Italy, Mexico (Camarón), China, Việt Nam, Madagascar, and Macedonia.

I do like that UAV mounted on the yellow pick-up.  It appears capable of being launched from the truck bed.  What about landing?  Can't find any data on it.  Kind of a mini-UAV.  For tactical level recon maybe?  But it clearly has French Air Forrce markings and NOT French Army.  The launch catapult rails look similar to a ground-based version I've seen before, can't recall which system.

The hoverboard which got all the raves was piloted by the civilian inventor, Franky Zapata, and NOT by a member of the French military.   Apparently the French Army has wisely not bought it yet and it is just there for the show.   I am not a fan either.  At least not for the high-flying part.  If it could skim along a foot of the ground in real nap-of-the-earth fashion maybe I'd change my mind, but that would take some major upgrades.   And how about unmanned for hi-value logistics delivery?


Franky Z's next Flyboard show will be critical for his ambitions — On July 25, he plans to cross the English Channel.   I wish him good luck and fair weather.  But he reportedly will need mid-air refueling.  It must be a gas hog as the Channel is only 33 kilometers (<21 miles) wide at the Strait of Dover.   The 25 July date is the 110th anniversary of Louis Blériot's historic flight across the Channel:

Zapata claims his Flyboard has a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph).   Maximum load is 100 kg (220 pounds), perhaps 200 kg for short distance3 low speed runs.   Maximum altitude is 3,000 meters.


  1. The hoverboard could be a big deal in mountain warfare. I know someone who wrote a bit abou that. ;-)

  2. From the office (rather than train):

    The event in Paris was a multinational military parade under a motto of European unity and brotherhood.
    The event in Washington, DC was a partisan political rally with militaristic decorum and both poor speechwriting and -reading.

    I suppose both countries got what they deserve.

  3. Sven -

    I agree it could be useful for Alpini battalions. But I still like it more for a sled than a set of skis, except for use during reconnaissance.

    What was Merkel saying to that wheel-chair bound WW2 Vet? The audio was atrocious, as is my French.

    1. Not sure which scene you think of. I've read that she tried to explain a 101 y.o. woman that she's not Mrs. Macron, but the German chancellor first in German, then in minimalistic French (the latter with success).

    2. Sven -

      It starts about minute 1:57:23 in the linked video after Macron shakes hands with various veterans. He, Macron, goes to Merkel and brings her over to introduce her a an old Legionnaire in a wheel chair who is wearing the Medaille militaire, Croix de la Valeur, and Croix combattant. She talks with him then shakes hands with the other two wheelchair bound vets, then returns to him and appears to joke with him up until 1:59:00. Volume is crappy. I thought maybe he might be a German National and there was something in the German press about it.

  4. I updated the post above with Flyboard specifications and Zapata's attempt to cross the Channel in ten days. I hope they film it, especially the mid-air refueling.

  5. I love it that the Armée de l'Air Française has a technical to launch its drone. That's delightfully piratical; you KNOW the USAF would have a multi-million-dollar specialty-built vehicle for the job that this Datsun pickup does for France...

  6. I also think it's a great idea. Although I think it may be experimental due to the coloring and I cannot find any details on it. If it is just experimental then they should NOT jazz it up later with multi-million-euro vehicle. But France's 'Aerospace Vallee' is undoubtedly lobbying for more funding, more jobs, and that 'they-could-make-it-better'.

    I wonder about that little yellow UGV delivery vehicle at minute 2:00. Tires look to be offroad, but it does not look like it could operate on other than the flats.

  7. Put that UAV and its current pick-up truck in the field as is. Let the operators recommend asny changes id necessary after they have used it for awhile.

  8. Drones of this size can be launched with pneumatic power from a stationary launch rail.
    The launch isn't the issue; the landing is tricky with (reusable) drones.

    1. Sven -

      They also use pneumatics to launch small UAVs at sea. A la the ScanEagle, which is used aboard small warships and even with tuna boat fleets. They are recovered via a Skyhook system, which works fine. They uses the same recovery system for those deployed with ground troops. That Armée de l'Air UAV could probably be similarly recovered, although I did not see any wingtip hooks.

  9. The Iranian drone brought down non-kinetically by a vehicle mounted jammer onboard the USS Boxer may well have been a reverse-engineered ScanEagle. The Yasir or Yasseer was reportedly built as a modified copy of ScanEagle. Although it has a different tail and does not appear to have the wingtip hooks needed for a Skyhook rig recovery.

    It could have been one of the other IRGC UAVs. But those are either older or like the Saeghh or Shahed are more suited for longer missions. Did we recover the wreckage?

    The jammer that brought down the UAV is interesting. Made by Sierra Nevada Corporation. They got their start in that line by making small backpacked jammers to counter IEDs. Jamming UAVs would seem to be much more problematic because of the wide range of frequencies. I wonder how this system would do against a swarm of drones of different types. Seems to me the software would constantly need to be updated.