11 Photos that show why the SR-71 'Blackbird' was all kinds of amazing - We Are The Mighty
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11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

When it comes to curb appeal, few airplanes in history can match the look of the SR-71 “Blackbird.” And nothing in the Air Force’s inventory — past or present — can beat its signature performance characteristics. Here are 11 photos that show why the Blackbird remains the standard of aviation cool:


The SR-71 “Blackbird” was a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed’s legendary “Skunk Works” team in the 1960s.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Blackbird was capable of speeds exceeding Mach 3.0. The fuselage was designed to expand at high speeds, which caused the airplane to leak fuel on the ground because the panels fit very loosely when jet was parked.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Blackbird’s service ceiling (max altitude) was 85,000 feet, which forced crews to wear pressure suits and astronaut-type helmets.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
SR-71 pilot Col. ‘Buz’ Carpenter. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

SR-71s were manned by two aviators: a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer who monitored surveillance systems from the rear cockpit.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Only 32 Blackbirds were manufactured, and they were in service from 1964-1998. Despite over 4,000 combat sorties, none of the planes were lost due to enemy fire. However, 12 of them were destroyed in mishaps.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Claustrophobic types need not apply. The narrow space between canopy rails didn’t give crews much room to move around. The outer windscreen of the cockpit was made of quartz and was fused ultrasonically to the titanium frame. The temperature of the exterior of the windscreen reached 600 °F during a mission.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Pilot mans the brakes as the SR-71 is towed out of the hangar. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Nothing ‘glass’ about this cockpit. The SR-71 presented the pilot with a dizzying array of steam gauges and switches. And visibility out the front wasn’t the greatest.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Although not technically a stealth aircraft, the SR-71 was hard for enemy SAM systems to spot because it was designed with a low radar cross section in mind.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Because of its high approach speed the Blackbird used a drag chute to slow down on the runway after touchdown.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Aerial refueling capability allowed the SR-71 to perform long-range, high endurance missions.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
SR-71 refueling from a KC-135. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Blackbird still holds the record for fastest air-breathing manned aircraft (a record it broke in 1976). Although the SR-71 is no longer in service, the legend lives on.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

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This is the new super fighter from Russia

While the F-35 got a lot of attention for its debut at the Paris Air Show, the Russians were quietly promoting one of their upcoming attractions.


According to a report from DefenseTech,org, the  MiG-35 “Fulcrum F” is slated to make its big debut at the MAKS international air show in Russia in July 2017.

The plane has been in development since 2007, when an initial prototype flew at an air show in Bangalore, India. MiG claims that this fighter has also been developed for very austere operation conditions.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
The MiG-35 is an upgraded version of the MiG-29. (Photo from migavia.ru)

“It can take off from a very short lane, take off and land on unprepared airfields, and can be stored without a hangar for a period of a few months,” MiG publicist Anastasia Kravchenko said through an interpreter. “And it’s important and we consider this to be somewhat of a record, if needed, the engines of the MiG-35 could be swapped in the conditions of active operations within the framework of 58 minutes.”

The MiG-35 is an evolution of the MiG-29, a lightweight multi-role fighter that has been in service since 1983 with the Russians. Photos released by MiG show that the MiG-35 has eight under-wing hardpoints for air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, bombs, rockets, and other ordnance.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Hardpoints for days. (Photo from migavia.ru)

By comparison, MilitaryFactory.com notes that the MiG-29 has six under-wing hardpoints. The MiG-29 was widely exported, and notably saw combat with Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, and Yugoslavia. Other countries that acquire the MiG-29 include Peru, India, North Korea, Algeria, Cuba, and Myanmar.

MilitaryFactory.com reports that the MiG-35 has a top speed of 1,491 miles per hour, can fly up to 1,243 miles, and can climb 65,000 feet in a minute. The MiG-35 has been ordered by Egypt in addition to the Russian Air Force, with China, Peru, and Vietnam all rumored to be potential export customers.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
The MiG-35 at the MAKS air show in 2007. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

You can see what the hype is about in the video below.

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Russian jet crashes, ruins military infomercial

A Russian Mig-29K assigned to the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier splashed down in the Mediterranean Ocean soon after takeoff during a planned mission to Syria. The pilot ejected and was recovered by a helicopter.


According to U.S. officials who spoke to Fox News, three Russian fighters took off from the ramp of the Kuznetsov to conduct missions in Syria, but one of them turned around. It attempted to land but crashed in the ocean instead.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
British destroyer HMS ‘York’ shadows ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in 2011. (Photo: U.K. Ministry of Defense)

This is bad news for Russia whose deployment of the Kuznetsov was believed by some experts to be an infomercial for their equipment rather than a military necessity. Of course, Putin hopes countries like India and China will buy Moscow’s ships and weapons.

But the Russian product display in the Mediterranean is filled with old gear and compromises. The MiG-29K is the carrier variant of the Fulcrum and is generally considered to be a capable but lackluster aircraft.

Andrei Fomin, chief editor of the Vzlyot magazine, said the planes boast “stealth technologies, a new system of in-flight refueling, folding wings and mechanisms by which the aircraft has the ability to perform short take-offs and land at low speeds.”

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
MiG-29K of INAS 303 prepares to catch the wire aboard the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya in 2014. (Photo: Indian Navy)

Those short takeoff and in-flight refueling capabilities are vital for Russian carrier-based fighters, since the only Russian carrier is the Kuznetsov which has no catapults. Planes have to take off under their own power with a limited load of fuel and ordnance.

This limits the planes’ range, forcing Russia to keep the carrier close to Syria’s shores for its pilots to have a chance at hitting anything.

So the MiG-29K was a hard sell anyway, one of the reasons that the MiG firm has fallen on hard times since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. And new customers aren’t likely to line up for a plane that just crashed on the international stage.

The crash comes after the Kuznetsov was already being mocked for its massive plumes of smoke on the current mission and frequent breakdowns on previous deployments.

This stands in stark contrast to Russia’s big, flashy military display of 2015. Their navy fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea at targets in Syria and sent the footage around the world. Even that display wasn’t perfect. Four missiles fell short and crashed into Iran, killing cows.
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US think tank says Israel planned to use a nuclear bomb in 1967

JERUSALEM (AP) — A leading Washington think tank has detailed what it says was a secret Israeli plan to detonate an atomic bomb in the event it faced defeat in the 1967 Mideast war.


The operation never took off. But details about the doomsday scenario, in which Israel planned to set off a nuclear weapon atop a remote mountain in the Sinai Peninsula, shed new light on the fearful climate at the time. It also could undermine Israel’s decades-long policy of nuclear ambiguity.

The Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars unveiled a website Monday devoted to “Operation Shimshon,” the codename for what it said was the hastily arranged plan.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry had no comment.

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The veteran’s guide to getting a job on Capitol Hill

Purpose:


This “how to” guide is for veterans who are interested in working on the Hill. Staffers are the most common Hill positions in both the House and Senate. Personal staffers work for members and professional staffers work on committees. Most offices separate policy topics into portfolios and oftentimes veterans are most qualified to cover the Department of Veterans Affairs, foreign affairs and/or DoD/military. However, based upon the veterans’ education and career field they may be qualified for other portfolios.

How to Search for the Perfect Hill Position

  • Sign up for HillVets Insider
    1. HillVets Insider often posts positions that are being exclusively offered to veterans via HillVets
    2. HillVets also proactively sends resumes to positions and postings as an official “HillVets Recommended Candidate” when we come across members that we believe are good fits for open positions.
    3. As such be sure to provide HillVets Insider with your latest resume even after you land your first job!
  • Get on a job list
    1. Tom Manatos (free for Veterans participating in the Veterans Congressional Fellowship, costs $5 per month)-best resource, stays up to date on new jobs and takes down positions that were filled. Updated daily. Register at http://www.tommanatosjobs.com/
    2. Scott Baker (free)—good place to start but is not always up to date and positions that are filled may stay on the list for weeks. Emails sent out weekly. Email Scott Baker at m.r.baker@gmail.com and ask him to add you to his job lists.
    3. Brad Traverse. Is another Capitol Hill job board that requires a subscription. $10 registration, $5 monthly dues. Traverse and Manatos are generally accepted as the lead job posting subscriptions; Manatos started in the democratic space, Traverse in the Republican space, both have moved towards posting jobs for both parties. http://www.bradtraverse.com/joblistings.cfm
  • Network through HillVets and build a team to help you with your job search. This is key as staffers know each other and if there is a position open in an office a staffer friend can inquire and pass your resume on to the office of interest. Offices receive hundreds of resumes for positions and any way to get yours noticed is a plus.
    1. Compile an email list of staff, or people that know staffers, that you have met with.
    2. When you apply for an open position let them know that you did so and ask if they know anyone in that office. Recommend your emails subject lead with your name and the member office as these emails can be easily screened if the busy staffer does not know anyone in the said office. For example John Doe (you)/Rep. John Doe
    3. Never assume that staffers from the opposite party can or will not be helpful in your hunt! This is a common mistake that we have seen over and over again. We have had young veterans insinuate we could not help them because we were on one side of the aisle or the other when in fact we have hundreds of friends on both sides many of which may be close friends. The reality in Washington, if you are going to be good, or have been here for any period of time, you not only have a few contacts on the other side, but a lot, so keep this in mind as you network!
  • Questions to ask yourself
    1. What states do I have a connection to?—Offices like to hire people from their state. Start with your home of record but also explore states where you were assigned to in the military, or where you went to school.
    2. What kind of job do I want on the Hill?
      1. Policy—legislative assistants (LAs) are assigned portfolios and work on legislation in those areas. For most separating military personnel interested in policy work, this is the most appropriate position for you but may be very difficult to land out of the gate.
        1. Legislative Correspondents—work for LAs by handling mail, taking meetings, and assisting with research. Some offices have LCs doing LA work, which is great but the LC is most likely being paid less than an LA.
      2. Communications—All offices have communication directors and assistants.
    3. When can I start work?—If you are coming off of active duty think about when you will be taking terminal leave and when you can actually start a new position. Networking and applying for positions is important but create a timeline for yourself from the earliest you can begin a position.
    4. Who do I know that is currently or previously worked on the Hill?—these people are your new best friends. Talk to them about your interest in the Hill and get their advice and perspectives. Congressional offices all work a little differently and you want to know if there are offices to avoid.
    5. Do I have a preference for House or Senate positions?—the House and Senate operate differently and have different cultures. There is much to be learned in both chambers and people often work or intern in both. As you network ask people how they like the Senate or House and the differences that they perceive in each.

Getting the First Job: So you are on a couple of job lists, you have some hill buddies, and you are actively looking for a position…now what!!!

  • Create a phenomenal resume and cover letter.
    1. The Resume—Almost always 1 page, rarely 2. The only purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. The resumes purpose is not to tell your life story and highlight things that only you will care about, it should tell the employer what your value is to them if they hire you. You are not applying for a military awards package OR a GS federal job. Your resume should be something in between. Offices get hundreds of resumes for positions and do not have time to read 10 page resumes and will not understand 20 acronyms.
      1. If printing, use high quality, heavier weight, and off-white paper. This will set you apart in a stack of hundreds and shows attention to detail
      2. Ask people on the Hill if you can review their resumes
  • Look at how Hill staffers place their resumes on LinkedIn
  1. Ask other HillVets members to review your resume
  2. Highlight your military experiences, particularly deployments
  1. The Cover Letter—You can use general language for the cover letter and then tailor for specific positions and offices. Do not make your letter longer than 1 page, and relate your military experiences to what you want to do on the Hill. Generally these should explain why you are interested in the position, the skills you have to offer, and what makes you a unique/best fit for the position.
  2. Ask at least 5 people to closely review your cover letter and resume for grammar mistakes and advice on how to make both stronger.
  • You Got an Interview!
    1. Reach out to your Hill network (previously highlighted) and ask if they know anything about the office or member.
    2. If you are interviewing with a personal office you will most likely interview with the Legislative Director and/or Chief of Staff. Most offices will prefer someone with Hill experience, which includes internships and fellowships. This is where you have to sell your military experience and overcome lack of prior Hill experience (if that is your situation).
      1. Be likable, warm and friendly to everyone in the office. Offices have too many candidates to choose from to not select someone that feels like a good fit for their office and culture. Smile!
      2. Inspection ready is the dress code of the day, seems obvious but we have had to address this before…
  • Think about general skills that you obtained from being a military officer or NCO such as: leadership, responsibility, general understanding of the military, experience working with all kinds of people, communication skills, professionalism.
  1. Think about what your career field experiences bring to the position. Remember that you have the advantage of serving in the military and try to think of your understanding of the military prior to your service. A majority of staffers have NO military experience and limited understanding of how DoD works. That is a huge selling point.
  2. If you have connections to the state make sure to explain your connection. Did you grow up in the state? Go to school there? Were you assigned to an installation in the state? If you are applying for a military portfolio position, know the military installations in the state. Explain why you care about the state.
  3. Do your research! Know a bit about the member, their issues, what committee the member sits on and explain what you can bring to the table. Know if the member is a veteran, which branch did they serve; do you have anything in common?
  1. You did great on your first interview and now you are called back to meet the member! Very exciting and means that you get to meet a member of Congress and are shortlisted for a staff position.
    1. Think about your first interview and topics that you spent time discussing. What points do you feel made you strong? Emphasize those in the interview with the member.
    2. Do more research on the member. Be familiar with legislation they have introduced. Be ready to talk about the stuff they care about (which is germane to the position you are applying). Be personable and the job is yours!

Financial Expectations

  • You are likely going to make less money as a Hill staffer than you did on active duty.
    1. Again personal offices vary on pay. Legistorm (legistorm.com) is a service that provides information on Hill staffers, including their income. You can view the most recent salaries of staffers for free on the site to get a sense of how much you can expect to make in a given office for a given position. The salary of the recently departed staffer is likely listed if you know who that is or you can compare the pay rates of the various staffers in the current position you are interviewing for.
    2. Some negotiation of salary is normal but remember these jobs are very competitive and the office may refuse to increase the salary offer. Then you must decide if this is a position you want.
  • Benefits:
    1. Health Insurance: Currently Hill staffers must buy their health insurance off of the insurance exchange unless they are in a Committee office, then they may be eligible for the same insurance held by federal employees.
    2. Leave days: Varies by offices. Some offices will take into account your federal service and give you more days. The good news is that you will never be charged leave on weekends or federal holidays!

Conclusion: Working on the Hill is an amazing experience and if you get the opportunity to do it…Do IT! However, it is high tempo, intense, and tough work. Be ready to experience a learning curve and accept that you are starting a new career in a new environment. HillVets is here to help you move into this realm. We believe that more veteran voices are needed on the Hill to provide our experiences and perspectives to members and staffs for the good of our Nation. The right job is out there and we are ready to help you find it. Stay Positive, these are not easy jobs to land and competition is fierce. Typical timeframes to find your first job is months, so keep that in mind. Keep piling through the “no’s” to get to your first “yes.” The first one is the hardest one by far.

Happy Hunting!

Jennifer Mitchell is the Military/Veterans’ Affairs Legislative Assistant for Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). As a Military Legislative Assistant, Jennifer advises Senator Kirk and his staff on military and VA appropriations and policy issues. She also works to address Illinois veteran issues including access to healthcare. Jennifer is a licensed attorney and attended law school at Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

 

Prior to her current position in Sen. Kirk’s office, Jennifer was an active duty Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer and is currently an Air Force Reserve officer. As a JAG, Jennifer assisted hundreds of military members, retirees, and their family members on a variety of legal issues ranging from bankruptcy to family law to will preparation. She practiced military justice by administratively disciplining and prosecuting military members for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Jennifer also specialized in federal labor and employment law where she negotiated union contracts and defended the Air Force against discrimination and wrongful employment cases. 

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13 little-known facts about Arlington National Cemetery

 


1. The property used for Arlington National Cemetery was an estate that was forcibly acquired from the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1864.

2. The first military burial at Arlington was William Henry Christman, who died of non-combat related illness, on May 13, 1864.

3. The first African-American to be buried there was William H. Johnson, an employee of President Lincoln.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Union soldiers in front of the Lee family estate during the Civil War.

4. In December 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Lee family’s favor that Arlington had been confiscated without due process. After that decision, Congress returned the estate, and on March 3, 1883 Custis Lee (Robert E. Lee’s eldest son) sold it back to the government for $150,000.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

5. President Herbert Hoover conducted the first national Memorial Day ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, on May 30, 1929.

6. Arlington did not desegregate its burial practices until President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

7. Five state funerals have been held at Arlington: those of Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, his two brothers, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, and General of the Armies John J. Pershing.

8. U.S. presidents are eligible to be buried at Arlington whether or not they served on active duty since they oversaw the armed forces as commanders-in-chief.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

9. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded by the U.S. Army since July 2, 1937.

10. Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War was interred on May 28, 1984. President Ronald Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred, under the authority of President Bill Clinton, on May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family had them reinterred near their home in St. Louis, Missouri. Since that time the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown has remained empty.

11. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently offers 57 authorized faith emblems for placement on markers to represent the deceased’s faith.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

12. Prior to 2007, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs did not allow the use of the pentacle as an “emblem of belief” on tombstones in military cemeteries. This policy was changed following an out-of-court settlement in April of that year.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

13. Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 6,900 burials each year.

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Today in military history: Battle of Gettysburg begins

On July 1, 1863, the decisive Battle of Gettysburg began.

Possibly the most important engagement of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg marked the turn of the war against the South. It would also be the bloodiest single battle of the conflict.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had recently won an overwhelming victory against the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville just weeks before and was preparing to invade the North with 75,000 men.

President Abraham Lincoln appointed General George G. Meade to meet Lee, who’d assembled his forces at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. 

The ensuing battle raged for three days with over 50,000 American casualties. It ended in a hard-won victory for the North — one that turned the tide of the war against the South, who would never advance as far North again for the rest of the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the largest battles in North American history. A portion of the battlefield became a final resting place for Union soldiers as well as the site for President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, which reasserted the purpose of the Civil War:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Featured Image: L. Prang & Co. print of the painting “Hancock at Gettysburg” by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett’s Charge. Restoration by Adam Cuerden. (Library of Congress image)

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How the Coast Guard is going to play a big role in preventing terrorism in America’s ports

Security at shipping ports around the US, including testing containers and vessels for biological and radiological hazards, is a top priority to preventing terrorism, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said July 20.


As he rode aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, near the Port of Los Angeles, Kelly viewed an array of new equipment used to test for radiation and biological threats.

“The threat always changes, so we always have to be on top of that,” Kelly said as the vessel cruised through the Pacific Ocean off Southern California.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Port of Los Angeles. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

While he was aboard, members of the Coast Guard conducted a training demonstration, simulating the boarding of a ship with a radiological threat.

Members of the Coast Guard’s new California-based Maritime Safety and Security Team descended from helicopters with assault rifles and stormed the ship. Kelly watched from a deck above as they charged up stairwells and searched the ship as part of the exercise. Other crew members climbed up ladders from a smaller boat that pulled alongside.

“What they do, they do for you,” Kelly said.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
USCG photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon-Paul Rios

As the vessel passed stacks of shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles, Kelly said it is essential for law enforcement and Coast Guard personnel to constantly train and be prepared for any threats.

Kelly said he believes the current security levels at US shipping ports is adequate, but his agency must continue to research new technology to keep up with changing threats. His biggest concern, he said, is contraband, including illegal drugs that are shipped in from other countries.

“It is all about protecting the nation and doing it as fast as we can so normal legal commerce, normal legal people can come in and out of the country and be inconvenienced at the minimum,” Kelly said.

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What if the A-12 had avoided Dick Cheney’s axe?

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing


During the George H. W. Bush Administration, the Navy and Marine Corps were pursuing two revolutionary aircraft. One was the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor intended to replace the CH-46 Sea Knight. The other was the A-12 Avenger, the planned replacement for the A-6 Intruder, the classic attack airplane made famous in the book and movie Flight of the Intruder.

Early on in the first Bush Administration, the Berlin Wall fell, thanks in no small part due to the Reagan defense build-up and more covert efforts (Peter Schweizer’s Victory tells that tale). For the world, the collapse of communism was a good thing. But for the V-22 and A-12, things started to get rough, as a “peace dividend” was eyed by politicians inside the Beltway. Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney soon put both aircraft projects on the chopping block — the V-22 because of developmental test failures that resulted in several high-profile mishaps, and the A-12 for massive cost overruns well before a single airframe was ready to launch.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Congress acted to save the V-22 (over Cheney’s objections). The Marines then stuck with the plane during a lengthy RD effort. What the Marines got as a result of that decision was a game-changer, particularly when compared to the CH-46 Sea Knight, as the included graphic from the Government Accountability Office shows. The V-22 can carry half of a Marine infantry platoon almost 400 miles from its base at speeds of up to 275 knots. Compare that to the CH-46E’s 184-mile combat radius, and top speed of 166 miles per hour, and the fact it could carry only a third of a Marine infantry platoon.

Marines found the V-22 to be effective in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Air Force Special Operations Command proved their version’s mettle in a raid against ISIS in Syria. To put it bluntly, the V-22 proved Cheney wrong, while the Marines and AFSOC were rewarded for their perseverance and faith in the new technology. In fact, the V-22 could even add a new mission not planned for in the initial specs: Aerial refueling.

As we know from history, the A-12 Avenger was not so lucky. Trying to make a point with his budgeteers about fiscal responsibility, Cheney made that cut stick.

So what did the Navy lose out on? For starters, let’s look at the plane the A-12 was supposed to replace.

The A-6 Intruder was an all-weather attack plane that was designed to carry a large bomb load (up to 18,000 pounds). At the time it was designed, stealth technology and smart bombs weren’t in the picture. But the plane gave valuable service, both during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, as well as also seeing action in smaller conflicts like the 1986 clashes with Libya and Operation Preying Mantis in 1988.

While the Avenger’s actual performance will not be known, some estimates are available, including a range of just over 900 miles, a top speed of 578 knots, and a bomb load of 5,000 pounds. Notable in this is that the plane was also slated to carry two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AGM-88 HARMs for self-protection in addition to its bombload.

But the real game-changer was its stealth technology. The A-12, like the F-117, B-2, and F-22, would be able to evade detection by most radars, and deliver precision-guided weapons on to targets. Would it, like the V-22, have been able to do more? Again, we will never know.

These days, developing a new combat aircraft takes longer than it used to, as the F-35, V-22, and F-22 have proven. Part of it is because that to survive in a modern environment, the aircraft is, in one sense, a flying computer, running as much on software as it does jet fuel. There is a major implication to this. When your laptop has a software hiccup, it’s an inconvenience. When a software hiccup happens on a modern combat plane, it means the loss of an airframe, and possibly the pilot as well. So, the required level of reliability gets higher, and reaching that level of reliability will take longer and cost more money.

In an age where both Russia and China have become more hostile to the United States, and their militaries are bringing new weapons systems on line, one has to wonder if the presence of the A-12 would have helped.

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This shows why the battle for Fallujah is so important to Marine Corps history

It still remains one of the bloodiest battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was a 48-day house-to-house urban nightmare that left a major city in ruin and an insurgency reeling.


But while Marines (and their Army brothers) lost many men in the fight for Fallujah, Iraq — including 82 Americans killed and more than 600 wounded — it remains a vivid memory for the thousands of Leathernecks who fought there and has earned its place as an iconic battle in the history of the Corps.

Dubbed “Operation al Fajr,” or New Dawn, the battle served as a major test for modern urban fighting in a counterinsurgency and tested many newly emerging theories on how to confront guerrilla armies. It also drew on the Marines’ history, recalling battles like Hue City, and Okinawa.

In the end, it was about the Marines and their brothers, fighting for each and every inch and looking after their own.

Happy 241st birthday United States Marine Corps!

Marines had to engage insurgents in house-to-house fighting.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
A U.S. Marine watches for anything suspicious from a building in Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Nov. 10, 2004. The Marine is assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 1st Marine Division. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Trevor R. Gift, U.S. Marine Corps.)

Marines moved in small, squad-sized units to clear buildings block-by-block.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
041126-M-5191K-005U.S. Marines prepare to step off on a patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, to clear the city of insurgent activity and weapons caches as part of Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Nov. 26, 2004. The Marines are (from left to right) Platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, Machine Gun Section Leader Sgt. Aubrey McDade, Radio Operator Cpl. Steven Archibald, and Combat Engineer Lance Cpl. Robert Coburn. All are assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Knauth, U.S. Marine Corpss)

For many Marine officers and NCOs, this was their first major test of combat.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
041112-M-5191K-007U.S. Marines, assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 1st Marine Division, confirm map details about Fallujah, Iraq, before continuing patrols during Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Nov. 12, 2004. The 1st Marine Division is conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan C. Knauth, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

When it came to taking down Fallujah, the Marines used everything they had.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
An Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) drives through a wall and locked gate to open a path for Marines assigned to 2nd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, as they gain entrance to a building that needed to be cleared in Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Al Fajr (New Dawn). Operation Al Fajr is an offensive operation to eradicate enemy forces within the city of Fallujah in support of continuing security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan L Jones)

Once Marines secured a building, they rearmed, reoriented and moved on to the next target.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
U.S. Marines huddle behind walls as they receive instructions about their next move after a M1A1 tank eliminates the Iraqi insurgents in a house the Marines were receiving fire from in Fallujah, Iraq, in support of Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Dec. 10, 2004. Operation al Fajr is an offensive operation to eradicate enemy forces within the city of Fallujah in support of continuing security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. The Marines are assigned to 3rd Platoon, I Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris, U.S. Marine Corps.)

When the Marines were done, the city of Fallujah was in shambles.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Fallujah, Iraq (Nov. 15, 2004) – Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Marines of 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, L Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, patrol south clearing every house on their way through Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Al Fajr (New Dawn). Operation Al Fajr is an offensive operation to eradicate enemy forces within the city of Fallujah in support of continuing security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq by units of the 1st Marine Division. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris.)

Leathernecks went on for days without sleep, sometimes grabbing rest only for a few minutes before taking up the fight once more.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
041109- Marines of 1st Battalion 8th Marines search the city of Fallujah, Iraq for insurgents and weapons during Operation Al Fajr.Operation Al Fajr is an offensive operation to eradicate enemy forces within the city of Fallujah in support of continuing security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar province of Iraq by units of the 1st Marine Division.Official Marine Corps photo by: LCpl J.A. Chaverri


Classic Marine quote…

“We took down the hardest city in Iraq. This is what people join the Marine Corps to do. You might be in the Marine Corps for 20 years and never get this chance again — to take down a full-fledged city full of insurgents,” said Cpl. Garrett Slawatycki, then a squad leader with India Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. “And we did it.”

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9 things that would happen if the Power Rangers were actual Rangers

A bunch of teenagers found magic coins and became rangers — specifically, Power Rangers.


While everyone has to believe that Zordon had his reasons for selecting angsty teens rather than proven leaders, Army Rangers might have a little issue with magical coins being the only threshold for assuming their coveted title.

But what if real Army Rangers became Power Rangers? While the fights would be awesome, there would also be some other changes. Here are nine of them:

1. Step one would’ve been finding out where the alien spaceship that grants superpowers came from

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Kinocheck International)

Seriously, who finds a spaceship with super-powering coins on it and doesn’t start investigating where more coins are? After all, denying the enemy the coins limits the enemy’s combat power and distributing those coins to other Rangers would multiply friendly combat power.

So why not look for the coins? Would be pretty great to get a whole battalion of Power Rangers to spearhead all future American operations, right?

2. Every one of them would need a dip straw installed in their helmets so they could spit tobacco juice during fights

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Kinocheck International)

Army Rangers are known as well for stuffing their lips with coffee grounds and tobacco as they are for annihilating enemy forces with extreme prejudice. But take a look at the screengrab above. See anywhere to spit dip in that helmet? That’s going to need a redesign. May we humbly suggest DARPA? Natick might not be up to this.

3. Alpha 5 would’ve been relentlessly mocked for being a POG

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

The spaceship has a small robot with super strength and, instead of fighting in the field, it helps train and manage the Power Rangers. Sure, the Rangers may need him to get the job done, but that never stopped them from making fun of any other support troops, so why would they stop with the robot with Bill Hader’s voice?

4. Every Ranger would carry a crew-served weapon — either the M2 .50-cal or Mk-47 grenade launcher or the M107 .50-cal sniper rifle

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Sure. Go with a kick. That’s more effective than firearms. (Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

Does anyone think a bunch of Rangers would get super strength and start carrying less firepower into combat? Hell no. Rangers with super strength would go shopping in the Weapons Company armory.

Those guys would carry modified M2s and Mk-47s. At least one guy would grab a Barrett .50-cal. sniper rifle and start using it like a carbine.

5. The drunken shenanigans would be legendary (assuming they can get drunk)

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Imagine this, but with a DUI. (Screenshot: YouTube/Kinocheck International)

So, we’re not yet sure that the Power Rangers can get drunk since some superhero stories say that the healing factors make it impossible. But think a bunch of Rangers would give up drinking if they could?

Nope. And superpowered humans would get in fights with bouncers, police, and the special operators who would have to be pressed into law enforcement roles to keep them in line.

Legen-dary.

6. They would show off in the gym all the time

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

The Power Rangers woke up completely ripped. Of course, the Rangers probably went to bed at least a little ripped, so imagine how strong they would be in the morning.

Now imagine that they don’t work out the next morning shirtless, bench pressing entire people who are bench pressing lots of weight.

7. At least one of them would try to sleep with Rita

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

Yeah, Rita is the supreme evil lady. But she’s pretty attractive. And she’s probably available (there aren’t many handsome monsters in the trailer). At least one Ranger would proposition her. At least.

8. At least one Ranger would be missing from each of the first few fights because they would be combat jacking

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

Speaking of things that at least one Ranger would be doing in combat, the attempted “monster jacking” — combat jacking but in a fight with a monster — would disrupt each of the first five fights. At least the first five.

9. The rest of the Rangers would make fun of them for needing super powers

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
(Screenshot: YouTube/Lionsgate Movies)

The entire rest of the Army’s Ranger Regiment would be super jealous that they weren’t the ones who got super powers, but they wouldn’t let it show. Instead, they would heckle the Rangers with power coins relentlessly.

“Oh, the little baby can’t throw a car without his special coin? Guess the rest of us will go ahead and protect the U.S. everywhere else in the world without any magical powers. Like real Rangers.”

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Coast Guard commandos guarding Trump, deployed to Med

A little-known group of specially-trained Coast Guardsmen are playing a key role in securing a presidential retreat in Florida and guarding against the smuggling of doomsday weapons out of war-torn Syria.


Few know about the Coast Guard’s cadre of special operations units but that doesn’t mean they’re sitting idle, says the service’s top commander.

“This is a team that’s not sand lot ball. These are the pros that have very unique weapons skills and training and not everyone makes this team,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft during a breakfast meeting with reporters April 12. “These teams are if anything probably over employed right now in terms of their optempo — both on the anti-terrorism front and on the counter-terrorism front as well.”

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
The official patch of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Established in the years after 9/11 to provide another layer of special operations capability both in the United States and worldwide, the Coast Guard previously housed these various specialized teams under one command, dubbed the “Deployable Operations Group.” Comprised of highly-trained boat teams, crisis response forces and counter proliferation experts, the DOG was disbanded in 2012 and its units dispersed to separate commands.

Despite its troubled past, the Coast Guard’s special operators are front and center in some of America’s most high profile missions. Zukunft said his teams are providing maritime security for President Donald Trump when he visits his golf resort at Mar a Lago in Florida, working closely with the U.S. Secret Service to protect world leaders from potential attack.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
Security Zones in vicinity of Mar A Lago, Florida are established during VIP visits to the Miami area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Seventh Coast Guard District)

“I had three teams providing force protection for presidents of the two largest nations in the world — China and the United States — at Mar a Lago. That’s what these teams do, Zukunft said. “We’re seeing more and more of these nationally significant security events in the maritime domain.”

The service’s capability also includes Coast Guardsmen trained to locate and secure chemical and nuclear weapons — operators that are part of the Maritime Security Response Teams. Similar to SEALs, the MSRT Coast Guardsmen can take down ships, oil platforms and other vehicles used to smuggle WMD material over water.

It’s members of these MSRT units that are currently deployed to help the U.S. military guard against doomsday weapons leaking out of Syria and other regional hotspots.

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing
The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) from Virginia participates in a training evolution in Hyannis, Mass., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The highly trained and specialized team, using a real-world underway ferry, practiced tactical boardings-at-sea, active shooter scenarios, and detection of radiological material. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

“We have a full-up [counter terrorism team] deployed right now in the Mediterranean in support of CENTCOM. It’s an advanced interdiction team in case there is any movement of a weapon of mass destruction,” Zukunft said. “This is a team that if necessary, forces itself onboard a ship … and they have all of the weapons skills of special forces, but they have law enforcement authority.”

Despite the rocky road in the unit’s formation, Zukunft is confident the Coast Guard’s special operations units are here to stay.

“To turn the lights out and then decide ‘whoa we have this threat’ — it’s going to take [a while] to reconstitute that, and in doing so the assumption would be that we will never have a terrorist attack directed agains the United States ever again,” he said. “I am not willing to make that assumption. I am all in.”

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5 surprising advantages the infantry has over other fields

The infantry is an enigma. There are legitimate advantages to have the 03 or 11B military occupational specialty. There are also no-so-legit advantages for trigger pullers as well. Soldiers and Marines can put aside their branch rivalries and bond over their experiences in theater. The differences in conduct and promotions vary among the other jobs in the military. The advantages continue after their service if they choose to continue to work for the government.

1. The job has an element of prestige

11 Photos that show why the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ was all kinds of amazing

When a civilian asks what one does in the military and the response is infantry, they have a general idea of what we do. Grunts do not have to feel with the condescending, disappointed ‘oh’ when personnel other than grunts say they do a non-combat job. Sometimes civilians are just ignorant, they want immediate gratification. Forgive the civilian, they simply do not know what they do not know. When they meet a troop they want to hear you have a high speed, low drag occupation. Infantrymen do not have that problem.

When infantrymen retire as staff NCOs or officers there are jobs in the Department of Defense that are unofficially reserved just for them. Uncle Sam has a seat for those willing to continue their service to their country after their contracts have ended.

2. They shine brighter on promotion boards

When infantrymen switch military occupational specialties into other fields, they quickly climb the ranks. Their service records are more impressive, they’ve earned more awards, and they’ve lead troops in battle. Its hard to have a meritorious board not take any of that into consideration. When a former infantryman switches to a new field there is an expectation they will succeed – and they do. A both a non-infantry and grunt can check all the boxes, but the POG can’t deploy back in time to a time of war.

3. The way infantry junior troops respect seniors

When I was in the Marine Corps I joined with several friends during the surge. Together we covered different MOS: Infantry, engineer, airwin and cook. When we became noncomissioned officers it was night and day whose troop are whose. The cook’s behavior was borderline disrespectful compared to grunt juniors. It was far too casual for the likes of anyone in a line company. The engineers didn’t fair too much better but they at least took hierarchy a little more seriously. The air wingers are just weird.

In the end your juniors are a reflection of yourself. Some NCOs prefer a more relaxed environment while other prefer tact and instant obedience to orders. There is something missing from the way other fields react when being issued an order that just rubs grunts the wrong way.

4. Infantry Drill Instructors have a secret mafia

infantry

Similar to the advantage of switching to another MOS, infantrymen who go drill instructor have a whole other advantage to POGs. Becoming a drill instructor is a fraternity within a fraternity. When one observes the chain of command’s staff non commissioned officers, I will bet my last dollar most are former drill hats. The drill field is one bridge between grunts and others.

However, that same experience gives one an edge on promotion boards. So, while two E5s stationed at boot camp fulfill their billet commitment, infantrymen will be more bias to award the grunt. When that, now E6, returns to their MOS they will have that same favorable bias for becoming drill instructors. Think of it as the universe balancing itself out for years of slow promotions as a lower enlisted. Drill Instructors do a lot of work, so, it isn’t free chevrons by any means.

5. The MPs don’t roll by the barracks

An infantry barracks is a no man’s land for military police. They may show up occasionally but they will not patrol certain areas as if it was downtown Detroit. I vividly remember seeing a patrol car showing up to a non infantry barracks during weekend parties to establish a presence. Those MPs are absent during the debauchery unfolding at our barracks.

My first experience in the fleet was a battalion formation with a livid colonel chewing out everybody. Apparently, alpha company and charlie company’s rivalry escaladed into a unit wide brawl with reinforcements from bravo and weapons company. When the MPs showed up half naked Marines disarmed the MPs and beat them with their own batons. The commander’s main point was that just because the unit returned from Iraq doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. There were no arrests because they could not get a single witness statement or detainees.

That was my second week in the fleet. I rarely saw MPs show up around our area throughout my career in the Corps. In the infantry there is a code of silence. It is true what they say, the infantry is the biggest gang in the world and the cops know it.

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