Sgt. William Wickett, 2nd Radio Battalion, performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina, March 5, 2013. | U.S. Marine Corps
America’s amphibious Marine Corps and Navy SEALs are some of the most elite fighting forces on the planet, with the ability to deploy in all environments — especially the sea.
That’s why the military has created schools to prepare operators from all the sister-service branches to be physically fit, mentally tough, and responsive in high-stress aquatic situations.
During combat water-survival exercises, candidates swim with their hands and feet bound, assemble machine guns underwater, and take on the seas in full combat gear.
Below, we’ve collected 17 pictures showing just how rigorous their training can be.
A Marine uses his Supplemental Emergency Breathing Device prior to escaping the simulated helicopter seat during Shallow Water Egress Training at the Camp Hansen pool.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Kuppers
Marines and sailors with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion perform flutter kicks during combat water-survival training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
U.S. Marine Corps
Petty Officers 3rd Class Brandon McKenney and Randall Carlson assemble an M240G machine gun 15 feet underwater during the 4th Annual Recon Challenge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz
A sailor performs underwater kettle-bell walks to increase lung power and endurance at Scott Pool, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro
Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina.
Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. Sgt. William Wickett performs a rescue drill during the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, North Carolina. | U.S. Marine Corps
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students participate in night gear exchange during the second phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.
Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr
Army candidates tread water during the Combat Water Survival Test, on January 28, 2016.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joe Medrano watches as a cadet launches blindfolded and carrying an M16 from a 16-foot diving board during the Combat Water Survival Test, January 28, 2016.
Reconnaissance Marines enter the water with their ankles and hands bound during the water training at Camp Schwab.
U.S. Marine Corps
A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, dives underwater to perform a self-rescue drill during a swim-qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andre Dakis
Raid Force Marines climb aboard a rigid-hull inflatable boat after conducting combat-swimming exercises at sea.
U.S. Marine Corps
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jumar Balacy, right, documents a surface-supplied dive.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson C. Bomjardim
Students at the Search and Rescue Swimmer School at Naval Base San Diego rescue a simulated helicopter-crash survivor under the supervision of an instructor.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro
Sailors conduct cast and recovery training.
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric
An instructor watches as a sailor familiarizes himself with diving equipment while underwater.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Blake Midnight
A soldier with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducts helo-cast training with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 at Camp Pendleton.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
A Marine swims 50 meters (164 feet) with a full combat load during Marine Corps Water Survival Training at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Weapons expert Vasiliy Sichev told Slon that it’s extremely likely that this is the secret submarine. He told the site:
“It’s impossible to unequivocally say that the picture was really the AC-12, of course, because the project is classified and how the ‘Losharik’ looks is technically unknown. However, photos which were allegedly of ‘Losharik’ surfaced in 2007, 2010, and 2011, and they had a lot of similarities with the one in Top Gear.”
Russia is in the midst of a serious military buildup. Among other things, the Russian military is upgrading its navy and by 2020 is hoping to add at least 16 new nuclear submarines to its Northern and Pacific fleets.
The US military is unquestionably the world’s strongest force with the world’s largest defense budget.
But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programs “without any fielded systems to show for it,” according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.
The abandoned projects are largely the result of a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.
Sequestration, indiscriminate budget cuts across the board that affect every portion of the military equally, is currently the greatest threat to the US military, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider.
Below are a series of the military’s modernization projects that were canceled partially because of a lack of funds:
Future Combat Systems
Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion
Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which was also ultimately canceled.
An airman who braved enemy fire to save fellow troops during a river evacuation in Afghanistan in 2009 will receive a Silver Star for his bravery, a general said.
Airman First Class Benjamin Hutchins, a tactical air control party airman supporting the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, was approved for the military’s third-highest valor award in April and will receive the honor during a ceremony Nov. 4 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, an official said.
His heroic actions during a three-day period through Nov. 6, 2009, were recounted during a speech by Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, on Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space Cyber Conference near Washington, D.C.
“This is an example of our airmen,” Carlisle said.
Hutchins and a team of soldiers were on the west bank of the Bala Murghab River looking for a supply airdrop, Carlisle said. One of the canisters fell off target into the swift-moving river, and two soldiers swam out to retrieve it.
But Taliban militants on the east side of the river were watching.
The soldiers were swept out by a “strong current they weren’t anticipating,” Carlisle said. “Airman Hutchins jumps into the river after [them] … but the Taliban start[ed] shooting at the last man in the water.”
Hutchins, swimming around the frigid waters for roughly an hour, evaded Taliban fire by skimming the surface “with [only] his nose and mouth” while diving back down to find the troops.
Additional soldiers with the 82nd Airborne soon came to the aid of all three men. But the Taliban began another firefight — with machine guns, sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades — on the east bank the following day.
“They come out, and start running across an open field and take on the Taliban. They take out the rocket propeller, the machine gun. There’s still dealing with the snipers, but Hutchins, being a TACP, gets on the radio … calls in a [strike] from an MQ-1 Predator in a danger-close situation, but … it takes out the Taliban,” Carlisle said.
The award’s narrative, written by the airman’s former supervisor, Master Sgt. Donald Gansberger, describes the action in even more detail.
“Airman Hutchins moved under heavy and accurate rocket propelled grenade, machine gun and sniper fire across an open field with little to no cover or concealment,” it states. “While continuing to move forward, he managed to direct the sensors of overhead close air support while simultaneously providing accurate supporting fire with his M-4 rifle.”
“He killed one enemy armed with a rocket propelled grenade launcher, at close range, before the enemy could fire and wounded an additional enemy fighter all while providing targeting and controlling information to an overhead unmanned aerial vehicle that destroyed a second enemy fighting position with a Hellfire missile,” the document states.
“Airman Hutchins’ quick, decisive actions, tactical presence and calm demeanor enabled friendly forces to eventually overwhelm the enemy stronghold,” it states. “His actions forced the enemy fighters to break contact and relinquish critical ground to friendly forces which enabled the safety of the recovery efforts for the two missing Soldiers.”
In an ironic twist, Carlisle said, “they did eventually get their container back.”
The Air Force previously said Hutchins had been submitted for the Bronze Star Medal with Valor. However, the service later clarified Hutchins had instead been submitted for two Bronze Star medals for his actions, which instead were combined into one Silver Star award.
Hutchins medically retired from the Air Force in 2014 with injuries sustained as a result of enemy attack during a separate deployment in 2012, Air Combat Command told Military.com.
The Defense Department is reviewing more than 1,100 post-9/11 valor citations to determine if they warrant a higher award such as the Medal of Honor, officials announced in January.
In 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of all decorations and awards programs “to ensure that after 13 years of combat the awards system appropriately recognizes the service, sacrifices and action of our service members,” officials told USA Today at the time.
The Pentagon released the name of a Special Forces soldier who was killed by an improvised bomb attack during a night raid with Afghan commandos in the restive Helmand province, a reminder that the fight continues 15 years after American troops first landed there.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, was killed while accompanying Afghan special forces on a raid near Lashkar Gah. Thompson was a Green Beret with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces group based in Washington and died Aug. 23 alongside six of his Afghan comrades.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, died Aug. 23, 2016, of wounds received from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)
Another American servicemember was wounded in the attack and remains in stable condition at a hospital in Afghanistan, officials say.
“This tragic event in Helmand province reminds us that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and there is difficult work ahead even as Afghan forces continue to make progress in securing their own country,” Pentagon chief Ash Carter said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and our NATO partners to bolster the capabilities of the [Afghan national defense and security forces] so they can provide the people of Afghanistan the peace they deserve.”
The deaths came on the eve of a brazen attack on the American University in the Afghan capital Kabul that killed 14 and wounded 35. No Americans are among the casualties so far.
The top spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan said special operations troops, many of them Americans, are on missions nearly every night throughout the country advising Afghan commandos who are targeting Taliban holdouts in key areas. He said that about 10 percent of Afghan special forces missions include NATO troops, but they’re not usually engaged in the fighting.
Commandos from the 7th Special Operation Kandak prepare for the unitís first independent helicopter assault mission, March 10, 2014, in Washir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan The mission was conducted to disrupt insurgent activity. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard B. Lower)
“This is something that we do nationwide [so] it’s possible that we have some NATO [special operations force] element out in the field on any given night,” said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland during an Aug. 25 press conference. “Our role in that, of course, is that we don’t participate, we don’t go on the objective, but we provide the assistance they require.”
Cleveland said about 80 percent of Afghan special operations missions are conducted solo, with another 10 percent incorporating NATO and U.S. help in the rear, including intelligence and surveillance support.
He added that the Taliban have been unable to hold any major city or town, and typically raid a checkpoint, steal equipment and are pushed out by Afghan forces some time later.
The operation in which Thompson was killed included an effort by Afghan special forces to interdict Taliban insurgents on the outskirts of the key Helmand town of Lashkar Gah. It was a “fairly large operation,” Cleveland said.
“It was an effort to clear out Taliban strongholds so conventional forces could move in,” he said.
Though violence has been on an upsurge as the summer fighting season crests, officials say the Taliban isn’t able to mount an effective, large-scale assault to win coveted territory and sanctuary.
“The idea that they’re this invincible force, moving ahead and claiming territory we don’t believe is accurate,” Cleveland said. “We don’t think there’s a massive, invincible offensive coming from the Taliban.”
When Allied troops landed in Normandy, Gen. George Patton had two jobs. One had been to lead the fictional First United States Army Group, a part of Operation Fortitude, to deceive the Germans as to the Allies’ actual intentions against Normandy. His second was training his real unit, Third Army.
Once the Allies had secured a beachhead, Patton took Third Army to Northern France where it became operational on August 1, 1944. By the time Third Army went into action, the Allies had spent nearly two months fighting for a breakout to no avail.
The thick Norman hedgerows and stiff German resistance had slowed progress to a crawl. Patton had other ideas.
As Third Army broke free of the restrictive hedgerows, Patton showed that he was truly a master of maneuver warfare and combined arms tactics.
Patton would use armored reconnaissance scouts to range ahead of his forces to find the enemy. Once found, he used his armored divisions to spearhead the attacks. Armored infantry, supported by tanks and self-propelled artillery, would attack in force.
Every breach in German lines was exploited by more armor which kept the Germans from being able to effectively regroup.
Patton also pioneered the use of tactical air support, now known as close air support, by having tactical fighter-bombers flying cover over his advancing columns. This technique is known as armored column cover and used three to four P-51s or P-47s, coordinated by a forward air controller riding in one of the tanks on the ground.
Patton’s Third Army headquarters also had more staff dedicated to tactical air support and conducting air strikes against the enemy than any other formations in Europe.
Making the best of these new techniques, much like the Germans had with the Blitz, Patton’s first moves were to drive south and west to cut off the Germans in Brittany and open more ports on the coast to Allied shipping.
Using speed and aggression, Third Army had reached the coast in less than two weeks.
Those forces then turned around 180 degrees and raced east across France.
The 28th Infantry Division on the Champs Élysées in the “Victory Day” parade on 29 August 1944. Photo under public domain.
Patton’s forces moved so fast that normal tactics were insufficient.
Light aircraft that normally served as artillery spotters were pressed into the airborne reconnaissance role.
To keep up with his troops, the 4th Armored Division’s commander, Maj. Gen. John Wood, would often task one of his aerial artillery observers, “Bazooka Charlie” Carpenter, to fly ahead to his armored columns so he could personally deliver orders.
Carpenter was famous for mounting bazooka’s on his light aircraft and attacking German armor – just the kind of fighting man Patton wanted in his army.
As Patton’s troops pushed east, they continued to drive the Germans back. Along with actions by the Canadians and Poles to the north, they were beginning to form a pocket around the German Army Group B.
The neck of the pocket was closing at Falaise, which was held by the Canadians. Patton was driving his men hard to effect a link-up and trap Germans attempting to retreat from Normandy.
Much to Patton’s dismay, Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of the Twelve US Army Group, called him off. Due to the fact that his forces were fighting the Germans all over Northern France, Patton could only commit four divisions to blocking German escape to the south. Bradley was worried that stretching Patton’s line further could lead to him being overrun by German forces desperate to escape the trap.
Undeterred, Patton consolidated his forces and continued his drive out of Normandy.
With the Germans retreating from the area, Patton set his Third Army to give chase.
Depleted German units were easily overcome.
The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, recalled to England the month before, lamented that Patton continually overran their drop zones and kept them out of the action.
On August 25, 1944, the 4th Infantry Division, a lead element of Patton’s Third Army, arrived at the outskirts of Paris. Allowing the French 2nd Armored Division to take the lead in the liberation of their capital, the division moved into the city.
Just five days later, Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Northern France, was declared over.
Patton, however, was not done. He had his eyes set on Germany and continued to push his forces.
As Third Army drove hard towards the French province of Lorraine, they finally outran their supply lines. On August 31, Patton’s drive ground to a halt. Patton assumed that he would be given priority for supplies due to the success of his offensive, but was dismayed to learn that this was not the case.
Eisenhower favored a broad front approach and allocated more incoming supplies to Montgomery for his bold plan – Operation Market Garden.
Despite their success in defeating German units all across France and driving further than any other force, the men of Third Army would have to wait for their chance to drill into Germany.
It’s well known that the fearsome Soviet spy agency, the KGB, used brutal tactics to eliminate and intimidate rivals.
Legend has it that when Soviet diplomats were kidnapped by terrorists in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, KGB officers kidnapped and killed a relative of one of the perpetrators, mailing body parts to the terrorists to demonstrate why Russia’s enemies shouldn’t poke the bear.
Now-declassified CIA documents reveal the KGB had a special team created exclusively for assassinations. The KGB’s 13th Department was called the “Directorate of Special Tasks” and used “executive actions” or “liquid affairs” (read: targeted assassinations) to eliminate threats to the Soviet state.
The directorate had two special labs that most officers didn’t know about – one for creating unique weapons and explosives, the other for developing new poisons and drugs. Poisons were a favorite for these extra-judicial killings because they attracted less attention and were often confused for natural deaths.
Here are nine KGB assassination attempts that will make you want to run background checks on your friends.
1. Leon Trotsky
Trotsky was a key player in the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1918. When Lenin died, many believed he would take over. But it was Stalin who won the succession struggle.
Trotsky criticized the new Soviet state for suppressing democracy and was expelled from the government for his trouble. Eventually, Stalin exiled Trotsky out of the USSR.
The Mexico City suburbs became his new home, but the distance couldn’t keep him safe from the death sentence Stalin ordered. In 1940, Trotsky was done in by a Spanish Communist agent with an ice pick.
2. Franz Josip Tito
The World War II leader of Yugoslavia would not give up his country’s hard-fought independence for anything. Tito’s refusal to align himself with the Soviet Bloc frustrated Stalin to no end. So the Soviet dictator decided to get rid of Tito — as he had done with many previous political roadblocks.
‘Stop sending people to kill me… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.’
3. John Wayne
Film historian and author Michael Munn tells the story of John Wayne’s brush with a Soviet assassination order in his book, “John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth.” Wayne’s anti-Communist statements didn’t sit well with Stalin, who allegedly ordered The Duke’s murder. Two Russian filmmakers, Sergei Gerasimov and Alexei Kapler, warned film legend Orson Welles about the order. Wells told Wayne, but Wayne was also warned by the FBI and stuntman Yakima Canutt, whom Wayne once credited with saving his life.
Wayne and a screenwriter friend planned to abduct the assassins, drive them to a beach, and stage a mock execution to pump them for information. The two hitmen turned and worked for the FBI while Wayne moved to a house behind a large wall.
4. Lev Rebet
Rebet was a Ukrainian nationalist writer, Nazi death camp survivor, and staunch anti-Communist. He was also the leader of the Ukrainian government for a time. In 1957, Rebet died suddenly of “natural causes” while on a trip to Munich. In 1961, a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky defected to the West and revealed Rebet’s death was an assassination. The weapon he used was a gun that sprayed a cloud of cyanide gas. Stashynsky also killed Rebet’s party boss, Stepan Bandera, with the gas weapon.
5. Georgi Markov
A gray-haired man waiting for a London bus in 1978 would have attracted little attention from passers-by. In this case, that man was Georgi Markov, a Communist defector from Bulgaria who made England his new home. The man next to him dropped his umbrella, hitting Markov in the leg. It hurt, but Markov barely noticed. The man apologized and they both went on their way. Markov died four days later.
His autopsy revealed a pellet in his leg which contained .2 milligrams of ricin, a deadly poison used in chemical warfare and made famous by the show “Breaking Bad.” Vladimir Kostov, another Bulgarian defector, survived a similar fate with the pellet being stuck in his back. He told the world about the attack on Radio Free Europefour days after his brush with death.
“Georgiy Sergeyevich, I have come to you from Moscow. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has ordered your assassination.”
But Khoklov didn’t kill him. Instead, the KGB agent defected to the U.S. and revealed (via press conference) the weapon he was supposed to use: a cigarette pack that was actually an electrically-operated, silenced gun that fired cyanide rounds.
7. Nikolai Khoklov
In retaliation for his defection and failed assassination of Okolovich, Khoklov’s wife was sentenced to forced resettlement in the Soviet Union and Department 13 ordered Khoklov’s own assassination. The weapon would be thallium poisoning, the first use of radiological weapons by the KGB.
Thallium is a soft metal element that was often used as a rat or ant poison but fell into disuse for its potential side effects. When Khoklov’s skin began to crack, he began to lose his hair, and bleed without clotting, he knew what was happening. German doctors irrigated him with antidotes and he survived.
8. Pope John Paul II
When Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope in 1979, the Soviet Union was less than thrilled. They believed he was the single greatest threat to their power, especially in Poland. So when the Pontiff was shot and wounded on May 13, 1981, the world looked to more than his attacker, a Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca, for answers.
The Solidarity movement was a direct outgrowth of the Pope’s visit to Poland in 1979 and became a constant irritation in the side of the Soviet leaders. A book detailing the Mitrokhin Archive, a massive trove of Top Secret KGB documents carried over by Vasili Mitrokhin after his defection to the West, shows the KGB carried out this assassination attempt in retaliation for the Pope’s attempt to undermine Soviet regime.
9. Alexander Litvinenko
Litvinenko served with the KGB from 1986 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. He continued serving in Russia’s internal security service long after, working to infiltrate organized crime groups. In 1998, he accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of a Russian media mogul in a public press conference. He was arrested twice for this and personally fired by Vladimir Putin, whom the agent accused of bombing Russian apartments and murdering a Russian journalist to get elected president.
He fled to London with his family and began to write books and advise the Britain’s intelligence community on Russian activities. Allegedly a target of the KGB’s susccessor, the FSB, in 2006 he suddenly became gravely ill, growing weak and unable to walk. When he was hospitalized, specialists conducted a test for radioactive materials and discovered the element Polonium-210, a radioactive element that emits alpha radiation – only damaging to human tissue when ingested.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency discovered the Polonium poison in Litvinenko’s teacup, 200 times greater than a normally lethal dose.
In his April 2017 book “Make Your Bed,” Admiral William McRaven described what it was like for him as a leader and military officer to receive the families of fallen troops — including those who died under his command.
The former SEAL officer vividly paints a scene at Dover Air Force Base, the first stop on American soil for the remains of U.S. troops killed in combat. The waiting rooms are filled with “wives with a far-off look of disbelief, … inconsolable children, … [and] parents holding hands hoping to gain strength from one another.”
A number of Navy SEALs died in 2011 when their helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan – all 38 men aboard were killed, including 30 Americans. It was the single greatest U.S. loss in the War on Terror. Then-President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and the military’s senior leadership were all present to receive the flag-draped coffins.
The admiral and his wife were there too. He writes in his book that he began to wonder if his words were any solace to the families, if they made any difference at all, or if the shock made his words incomprehensible to the bereaved. He knew what he said was never going to be enough, but he tried to empathize with them.
That’s when he noticed a then-Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly talking to a number of the families. He could tell that what Kelly was saying was actually hitting home to those who lost their loved ones. The effect was what McRaven described as “profound.” He hugged them and they hugged him in turn.
General Kelly talked to every person in the room.
The Marine’s word hit home because they weren’t the words of comfort from a commander to his troops’ families, they were the words of a parent who lost a son in combat, just as they had.
Only General Kelly could have said anything that would mean something to those who lost their children, parents, and spouses in combat. As McRaven puts it:
“When you lose a soldier, you grieve for the families but you also fear that the same fate may one day befall you. You wonder whether you could survive the loss of a child. Or you wonder how your family would get along without you by their side. You hope and pray that God will be merciful and not have you shoulder this unthinkable burden.”
Okay, you’ve heard all the complaints about the F-35. It’s super-expensive. It’s got problems getting ready for combat. But in the real world, there’s no other option. And as WATM has already explained, the Marine Corps desperately needs to replace its F/A-18 Hornets.
But suppose, instead of blowing their RD money on the F-35, the Air Force, Navy, and Marines had decided to pull out File A56-7W and instead replicate Airwolf? They’d have gotten a much better deal – and it might even have helped the Army, too.
Airwolf’s specs (click here for another source) reveal this helicopter already took advantage of some stealth technology, had modern ECM systems and sensors, and very heavy armament (four 30mm cannon, two 40mm cannon, and various air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles). All in all, it’s very powerful, even if it was the brainchild of one of the big TV showrunners of the 1980s and 1990s.
So, why does it beat the F-35? Here are some of the reasons.
1. It can operate off any ship
With a top speed of over Mach 2, Airwolf may have the performance of a fighter jet, but it takes off and lands like a helicopter – without the need for the complex mechanisms used on the V-22 Osprey.
Think of it this way; with Airwolf in its hanger deck every surface combatant and amphibious ship could carry what amounts to a Generation 4.5 fighter. Even the Littoral Combat Ships could handle Airwolf, giving them a lot more punch in a fight than they currently have.
2. It would replace more airframes than the F-35 would
The F-35 is replacing the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and A-10 Thunderbolt II in U.S. service. Airwolf not only would replace all four of those airframes, but it would also replace all of the AH-1 and AH-64 helicopters in Marine Corps and Army service. The promise of the TFX program as originally envisioned in the 1960s could be fulfilled at last!
3. Better performance
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the F-35 has a top speed of Mach 1.6, a ceiling of 50,000 feet, and a range of 1,350 miles without refueling. Airwolf hits a top speed of Mach 2, a ceiling of 100,000 feet, and a range of 1,450 miles.
In other words, Airwolf would have the F-35 beat in some crucial areas. Now, the F-35 might have an advantage in terms of payload (fixed-wing planes usually have that edge), but the fact remains, Airwolf would have been a very viable candidate for that competition – and might have had the edge, given that the Army would have bought airframes to replace the Apache.
Oh, and here’s the Season 1 opener, just for kicks:
Would you take targeting orders from an autonomous artillery shell? That’s the future the Army imagined in 1979.
A patent filed in that year and awarded in 1981 detailed an artillery round that would be fired towards a target area and then deploy a parachute. Then, it would slowly descend to the battlefield, taking pictures or video and identifying targets below. It would then feed the images and target positions to artillery batteries so the targets could be killed.
That’s right, the artillery shells would’ve been feeding targets to the gun bunnies.
This would’ve reduced the need to put artillery observers into harm’s way when fighting against massed enemies. Instead of sending out a maneuver force or aerial reconnaissance patrol to find the enemy and feed targeting information back, the Army could just fire some rounds out there.
The system did include a “man-in-the-loop” function meaning that, like modern drones, a human would make the final decision on which targets would be killed. A crew chief would sit in a targeting van with a light-sensitive computer display. As the drone’s imagery and proposed targets came up on the screen, this chief could designate new targets or remove target designations as necessary with a light pen.
The patent author specifically noted the importance of the chief completing this task since most computer systems of the day were prone to identifying large rocks and bushes as targets. Also, the remains of a destroyed tank still look very tank-like and could cause the computers on the artillery rounds to keep designating an already dead target.
Modern battlefields contain more collateral damage concerns than many people envisioned during the Cold War, so this man-in-the-loop would also be useful as a final check to make sure a family SUV isn’t targeted.
Once the computer had its final list of targets, more camera rounds would be fired at moving targets. These would contain explosive canisters instead of parachutes and antennas. The rounds would identify their designated targets, predict where the vehicles would be at the end of the rounds’ flight, and then steer themselves to their final impact points.
Fixed targets identified by the system could be engaged by standard artillery rounds. Each round’s impact point would be relayed to the firing artillery battery so that gunners could adjust their firing solutions if they missed.
The patent also mentions the possibility of using a similar technique with helicopters. In that case, missiles would be used instead of artillery rounds and the human in the loop would ride in the helicopter, disapproving or adding targets to the computer from there.
Also, in place of the first missile being used to photograph or film the battlefield, the helicopter could pop up from behind cover to grab the first image.
The Army’s plan to use aerial drones to target artillery lived on, though. Before drones were armed, they would designate targets for artillery or cruise missile strikes, a trick they can still do when necessary. In civil wars like those in Ukraine and Syria, both sides have used drones to spot targets for their artillery batteries.
The worst terrorist attack in U.S. history turned more than a few ordinary Americans into heroes.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on Sep. 11, 2001, after al Qaeda hijackers flew airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York. More than 6,000 were injured.
Tens of thousands of people typically worked in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and most were able to escape. While all who endured that terrible day can be considered brave, there are some who went above and beyond in trying to save lives, and ultimately prevented the tragedy from becoming even worse.
1. A 24-year-old equities trader helped at least a dozen people get out, and then he went back in with firefighters to save more.
Just a few minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 24-year-old Welles Crowther called his mother and calmly left a voicemail: “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m ok.”
Crowther was an equities trader at Sandler O’Neil and Partners on the 104th floor. But after that call, the man who was a volunteer firefighter in his teens made his way down to the 78th floor sky lobby and became a hero to strangers known only as “the man in the red bandana.”
Amid the smoke, chaos and debris, Crowther helped injured and disoriented office workers to safety, risking his own life in the process. Though they couldn’t see much through the haze, those he saved recalled a tall figure wearing a red bandana to shield his lungs and mouth. He had come down to the 78th-floor sky lobby, an alcove in the building with express elevators meant to speed up trips to the ground floor. In what’s been described as a “strong, authoritative voice,” Crowther directed survivors to the stairway and encouraged them to help others while he carried an injured woman on his back. After bringing her 15 floors down to safety, he made his way back up to help others.
“Everyone who can stand, stand now,” Crowther told survivors while directing them to a stairway exit. “If you can help others, do so.”
“He’s definitely my guardian angel — no ifs, ands or buts — because without him, we would be sitting there, waiting [until] the building came down,” survivor Ling Young told CNN. Crowther is credited with saving at least a dozen people that day.
Crowther’s body was later recovered alongside firefighters in a stairwell heading back up the tower with the “jaws of life” rescue tool, according to Mic.
2. A group of strangers teamed up to take back United Flight 93, preventing the plane from killing untold numbers of people in the U.S. Capitol.
At approximately 9:28 a.m. on Sep. 11, 2001, United Flight 93 was hijacked by four al Qaeda terrorists. After the terrorists had stabbed the pilot and a flight attendant, the passengers were told that a bomb was onboard and the plane was heading back to the airport.
But this was after two planes had already hit the World Trade Center, and the passengers on United 93 — huddled in the back of the plane — were beginning to find out what the real plan was. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., several passengers made phone calls to their loved ones.
“Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast,” Deena Burnett told her husband Tom, a passenger on United 93, in a cell phone call at 9:34 a.m. “They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.” In another phone call, Tom learned from his wife that another plane had hit the Pentagon.
“We have to do something,” Burnett told his wife at 9:45 a.m. “I’m putting a plan together.” Other passengers, including Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer, were learning similar details in their own phone calls, as the plane was barreling towards Washington, D.C.
The passengers voted on whether to fight back against the hijackers. Led by the four man group, the passengers then rushed the cockpit, with Beamer rallying them in his last words: “You ready? Okay, let’s roll.”
From 9.57, the cockpit recorder picks up the sounds of fighting in an aircraft losing control at 30,000 feet – the crash of trolleys, dishes being hurled and smashed. The terrorists scream at each other to hold the door against what is obviously a siege from the cabin. A passenger cries: ‘Let’s get them!’ and there is more screaming, then an apparent breach. ‘Give it to me!’ shouts a passenger, apparently about to seize the controls.
Instead of the plane hitting its intended target — believed to be The White House or the Capitol Building — it crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 44 passengers onboard.
3. Two former U.S. Marines put their uniforms back on and searched through rubble that could have collapsed at any moment. They found two survivors.
While the planes were hitting the World Trade Center, 27-year-old Jason Thomas was dropping off his daughter to his mother in Long Island. When Thomas heard what had transpired, he changed into the Marine Corps uniform he had sitting in his trunk — he was a former sergeant who had been out of the Corps for a year — and sped toward Manhattan.
“Someone needed help. It didn’t matter who,” Thomas told AP. “I didn’t even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, ‘My city is in need.'”
Around the same time in Wilton, Connecticut, Dave Karnes was working in his office at Deloitte watching the attack unfold on TV. “We’re at war,” the former Marine staff sergeant said to his colleagues, before telling his boss he might not be back for a while, according to Slate. He went and got a haircut, changed into his Marine uniform, and drove toward New York City at 120 miles per hour.
Once both Marines reached the collapsed towers — the site now covered in ash and debris — they began searching for survivors, but first, they found each other. They had little gear with them besides flashlights and a military entrenching tool, AP reported.
Along with other first responders, the pair climbed over the dangerous field of metal, concrete, and dust, calling out, “United States Marines! If you can hear us, yell or tap!”
When they reached a depression in the rubble of what had been the south tower, he said, “I thought I heard someone. … So I yelled down and they replied back that they were New York Port Authority police officers. “They asked us not to leave them.”
Karnes told Thomas to get to a high point to direct rescuers to the site, then called his wife and sister on his cell phone and told them to phone and give the New York police his location.
The two officers, William Jimeno and John McLoughlin, were on the main concourse between the towers when the South Tower began to fall, but made it into a freight elevator before the collapse. They were alive but seriously injured, trapped approximately 20 feet below the surface.
According to USA Today, once they heard the voices of the Marines, Jimeno began shouting the code for officer down: “8-13! 8-13!” After they were located amid the unstable mountain of debris, it took rescue workers roughly three hours to dig out Jimeno, and another eight to reach McLoughlin, who was buried further down.
An exhausted Thomas, who never gave his first name, left the site after Jimeno was rescued, but returned to Ground Zero for the next 2 1/12 weeks to help. His identity was a mystery until after Oliver Stone’s 2006 film “World Trade Center” chronicled the rescue of the officers, and Thomas emerged from the shadows.
Karnes also left after Jimeno came up, but helped at the site for another nine days. After he returned to Connecticut, he went to his reserve center and reenlisted, and later served two tours of duty in Iraq.
4. Two flight attendants on American Airlines Flight 11 calmly relayed information on the hijackers that would help the FBI determine the perpetrators were al Qaeda.
Fifteen minutes after takeoff from Boston, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked by five al Qaeda terrorists and sharply changed its flight path away from Los Angeles to New York City. With the group leader Mohamed Atta at the controls and some flight attendants and passengers stabbed, the terrorists pushed the remaining passengers toward the back of the plane.
Using crew telephones, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney calmly relayed information to their colleagues on what was unfolding that morning. “Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I’m number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there’s somebody stabbed in business class, and there’s — we can’t breathe in business class. Somebody’s got mace or something.”
Speaking with an American Airlines reservation center, Ong explained that some of the crew had been murdered and hijackers had infiltrated the cockpit. She shared information on the men, including their seat numbers and what they looked like. Her colleague Amy Sweeney did the same.
Sweeney slid into a passenger seat in the next-to-last row of coach and used an Airfone to call American Airlines Flight Service at Boston’s Logan airport. “This is Amy Sweeney,” she reported. “I’m on Flight 11 — this plane has been hijacked.” She was disconnected. She called back: “Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully.” Within seconds, her befuddled respondent was replaced by a voice she knew.
“Amy, this is Michael Woodward.” The American Airlines flight service manager had been friends with Sweeney for a decade, so he didnt have to waste any time verifying that this wasn’t a hoax. “Michael, this plane has been hijacked,” Ms. Sweeney repeated. Calmly, she gave him the seat locations of three of the hijackers: 9D, 9G and 10B. She said they were all of Middle Eastern descent, and one spoke English very well.
Those on the other end of the line were astonished at their calm demeanor and professionalism at the time, according to ABC News. At least 20 minutes before the plane crashed into the North Tower, American Airlines had the names, addresses, and other information on three of the five hijackers, details that would help the FBI get a jumpstart on the investigation.
Nydia Gonzales, an operations specialist with American, later testified to the 9/11 Commission about the calm demeanor of Ong, who asked her to “pray for us.”
5. Rick Rescorla was responsible for saving more than 2,700 lives, and he sang songs to keep people calm while they evacuated.
Rick Rescorla was already a hero of the battlefields of Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star and other awards for his exploits as an Army officer. Rescorla — once immortalized on the cover of the book “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” — would often sing to his men to calm them down while under fire, using songs of his youth while growing up in the United Kingdom.
Many more in the South Tower would hear his songs on Sep. 11, where Rescorla was working as head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley. When American Flight 11 hit the tower next to him, Port Authority ordered Rescorla to keep his employees at their desks, according to San Diego Source.
“I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,'” Rescorla told Daniel Hill, a close friend who was trained in counterterrorism, in a phone call that morning. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the fuck out of here.”
Rescorla, who had frequently warned the Port Authority and his company about the World Trade Center’s security weaknesses, had already issued the order to evacuate. He had made Morgan Stanley employees practice emergency drills for years, and it paid off that day: Just 16 minutes after the first plane hit the opposite tower, more than 2,700 employees and visitors were out when the second plane hit their building.
During the evacuation, Rescorla calmly reassured people. singing “God Bless America” and “Men of Harlech” over a bullhorn as they walked down the stairs.
During the evacuation Rescorla called his wife, according to The New Yorker:
“Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”
Rescorla was last seen on the 10th floor of the South Tower, heading upward to look for any stragglers. His body was never found.
6. Two unarmed F-16s scrambled to stop any other hijacked airliners and the pilots were prepared to give their lives to stop them.
With scant detail of what was happening and no time to do pre-flight checklists, two D.C. Air National Guard pilots quickly scrambled to intercept United 93 after two other planes had hit the World Trade Center.
In the days before Sept. 11, there were no armed aircraft standing guard in Washington, D.C., ready to scramble at the first sign of trouble.
And with a Boeing 757 aircraft speeding in the direction of Washington, D.C., Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, couldn’t wait the dozens of minutes it was going to take to properly arm their respective jets.
“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” Maj. Heather Penney recalled to The Washington Post in 2011. “We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft. I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.” Before they took off, Penney and Sasseville both planned to ram the aircraft with their F-16s.
Instead, the passengers on United 93 made the intercept unnecessary, ultimately fighting back against the hijackers and downing the aircraft into a Pennsylvania field 20 minutes outside of Washington.
7. A tour guide at the Pentagon gave medical aid to the injured outside, then went back in to the building while it was still in flames.
Army Spc. Beau Doboszenski was working as a tour guide on the opposite side of the Pentagon when the building was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, and didn’t even hear it. But Doboszenski, a former volunteer firefighter and trained EMT, responded after a Navy captain asked for anyone with medical training, The Army News Service reported.
“Specialist Beau Doboszenski was a tour guide that morning, on the far side of the building,” Vice President Joe Biden said on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. “So far away, in fact, he never heard the plane hit. But he shortly felt the commotion. He could have gone home — no one would have blamed him. But he was also a trained EMT and came from a family of firefighters.”
Doboszenski ended up running around the building to try to get to the crash but was stopped by police. Eventually he went around the barricades to reach a medical triage station, and helped give first aid to numerous victims. Afterward, he joined a six-man team that went back in to look for survivors, while the building was still in flames.
“When people started streaming out of the building and screaming, he sprinted toward the crash site,” Biden said. “For hours, he altered between treating his co-workers and dashing into the inferno with a team of six men.”
Think of the most famous starfighters of film and TV. You know them — The X-wing, the Y-wing, the VF-1 Valkyrie, the Colonial Viper, the F-302 — pop culture has gifted us with many famous planes we fly in our dreams… or on our personal computers and game consoles.
But if they existed for real, which squadrons would they be assigned to?
Here’s what We Are The Mighty is thinking:
Valkyrie from Robotech
Suggested Markings: VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”
The cartoon Robotech gave us this variable-configuration multi-role aerospace fighter in its first season, which was based on the Japanese anime Super Dimension Fortress Macross. With the jet mode looking like an F-14 and the famous “Skull One,” the markings from VF-84, the “Jolly Rogers,” are really the only call you can make.
Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica (Either Series)
Suggested Markings: VMFA-323 “Death Rattlers”
The Colonial Viper was an icon of whichever iteration of Battlestar Galactica you watched, whether it’s the classic one with Lorne Greene as Commander Adama and Dirk Benedict as the Starbuck, or whether it’s the new version with Edward James Olmos as Adama and Katie Sackoff as Starbuck. A number of squadrons have adopted nicknames based on snakes, but Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-323’s “Death Rattlers” seem particularly appropriate. The Vipers dominated their opponents when not caught by surprise or disabled by a cyber-attack – dealing death out far more than they received it.
Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica (Either Series)
Suggested Markings: VFA-127 “Cylons”
Yes, this is an adversary unit. But there is no other squadron arsenal appropriate for the front-line fighter used by the villains of either version Battlestar Galactica.
Incom X-Wing Fighter from Star Wars
Suggested Markings: VF-194 “Red Lightning”
“Red Five standing by.” Luke Skywalker’s call in the first Star Wars movie makes this designation a good one. Coincidentally, one of the planes flown by Navy Fighter Squadron-194, the F-8 Crusader, featured four 20mm cannon – while the X-wing has four lasers that proved to be capable of destroying TIE fighters easily.
Koensayr BTL Y-wing from Star Wars
Suggested Markings: VA-128 “Golden Intruders”
Best known as the fighters flown by the ill-fated Gold Squadron in the first Star Wars movie, the Y-wing was intended as an attack plane – and in the first movie, the Y-wings were torn to bits by Darth Vader’s TIE fighters (with only one surviving the Battle of Yavin). So, Attack Squadron-128, which flew the A-6 Intruder, seems to be appropriate markings for this space fighter.
This is another case where an easy call comes in. Gou’ald were called “snakes” by the heroes of Stargate SG-1. So, the 160th Fighter Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard — also called the “Snakes” — is really the only fitting mockup for this fighter.
This was a space-superiority fighter designed to take on other fighters. The 1st Fighter Squadron flew the F-15C Eagle, the definitive “not a pound air-to-ground” fighter in Air Force service. Appropriately, the 1st Fighter Squadron was called the “Fighting Furies.”
Thunderfighter from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
At the start of the 1980s series Buck Rogers, the title character went into space on a rocket before things went south and he had 500 years in a deep freeze. Using the livery of the 336th Fighter Squadron makes a lot of sense, particularly since the F-15E is also a multi-role fighter that can be a capable dogfighter.
PWF-12 Peregrine Fighter from Deep Space Nine
Suggested Markings: VF-96 “Fighting Falcons”
This fighter is another multi-role vessel, which could handle opposing fighters like the Romulan Scorpion or take on capital ships with proton torpedoes. With a decent war load, and a two-man crew, it seems reminiscent of the F-4 Phantom. Fighter Squadron-96 saw several tours during Vietnam, and was notable for producing the only Navy ace of that conflict. Their nickname also fits with this Starfleet fighter.
Sienar Fleet Systems TIE Advanced x1 from Star Wars
Suggested Markings: VMF(AW)-114 “Death Dealers”
Darth Vader dealt death in this fighter in the first Star Wars movie, scoring six kills and becoming an ace in a day for the bad guys. This fighter was arguably able to take on the snub fighters of the Rebel Alliance in a one-on-one fight. This would make it a “Death Dealer” to any overconfident Rebel pilot.
American television personality Montel Williams wants the Democratic presidential candidates to talk about a Marine veteran imprisoned in Iran, and he’s using his star power to make it happen.
In addition to questions asked by the moderators at Tuesday’s debate, CNN is soliciting questions from anyone via Facebook and Instagram, some of which will end up being asked by Don Lemon. In a video posted to his Facebook page, Williams — who served in the Marine Corps and Navy — asks about Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran held in Iran for more than four years, the longest of any American held there.
“What will the candidates do to bring him home so that his father’s dying wish to see his son just one more time comes true?” Williams asks.
Born in Arizona to Iranian immigrants in 1983, Amir Hekmati served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps — mostly as a translator — and he was discharged in 2005 as a sergeant. In 2011, he decided to visit his extended family in Tehran, but soon after he arrived, he was arrested and sentenced to death by an Iranian court on charges of spying for the CIA, according to Al Jazeera America.
Iran later released a videotaped confession of Hekmati, where he admitted to being recruited into companies affiliated with the CIA with the goal of infiltrating Iranian intelligence.
“Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are simply untrue,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told CNN in 2012. “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
Hekmati’s death sentence was later repealed in March 2012 and a new trial was ordered, though that has yet to take place. He continues to be held in prison in Tehran with little contact with the outside world, though he was able smuggle a letter out of jail, according to The Guardian. In it, in which he addressed Secretary of State John Kerry, he wrote:
For over 2 years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement. This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges. Iranian intelligence has suggested through my court-appointed lawyer Mr. Hussein Yazdi Samadi that I be released in exchange for 2 Iranians being held abroad. I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition.