How the sinking of Germany's greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation - We Are The Mighty
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How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation


At the time of its launch, the German battleship Bismarck, the namesake of the 19th century German chancellor responsible for German unification, was easily the most powerful warship in World War II Europe, displacing over 50,000 tons when fully loaded and crewed by over 2,200 men. She had a fearsome armament of 8 15-inch guns alongside 56 smaller cannons, and her main armor belt was over a foot of rolled steel. Her top speed of over 30 knots made her one of the fastest battleships afloat.

The German Kriegsmarine was never going to have the numbers to confront Great Britain’s vast surface fleet, but the German strategy of attacking merchant shipping using U-boats, fast attack cruisers and light battleships had been bearing fruit. A ship as fast and powerful as the Bismarck raiding convoys could do horrendous damage and make a bad supply situation for Great Britain even worse.

The Bismarck was launched with great fanfare on on March 14, 1939, with Otto von Bismarck’s granddaughter in attendance and Adolf Hitler himself giving the christening speech. Extensive trials confirmed that the Bismarck was fast and an excellent gunnery platform, but that it’s ability to turn using only it’s propellers was minimal at best. This design flaw was to have disastrous consequences later.

The German plan was to team the Bismarck with its sister ship Tirpitz alongside the two light battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. This fast attack force would be able to outgun anything it could not outrun, and outrun anything it could not outgun. Pursuing convoys across the North Atlantic, the task force might finally push the beleaguered merchant marine traffic to Great Britain over the edge.

But as usually happens in war, events put a crimp in plans. Construction of the Tirpitz faced serious delays, while the Scharnhorst was torpedoed and bombed in port and the Gneisenau needed serious boiler overhauls. The heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper that might have served in their place also needed extensive repairs that were continually delayed by British bombing. In the end, the Bismarck sortied with only the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and a few destroyers and minesweepers on May 19, 1941, with the mission termed Operation Rheinübung.

Great Britain had ample intelligence on the Bismark through its contacts in the supposedly neutral Swedish Navy, and Swedish aerial reconnaissance quickly spotted the sortie and passed on the news. The British swiftly put together a task force to confront the threat. After docking in Norway, the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen headed towards towards the North Atlantic and the convoy traffic between North America and Great Britain.

They swiftly found themselves shadowed by British cruisers, and in the Denmark Strait were confronted by the famed battle cruiser Hood and the heavy battleship Prince of Wales. After a short, furious exchange of fire a round from the Bismarck hit one of Hood’s main powder magazines, blowing the ship in half and sinking it in a matter of moments. Only three of 1,419 crew members survived. This was followed by a direct hit to the bridge of the Prince of Wales that left only the captain and one other of the command crew alive, and after further damage it was forced to withdrawal.

The handy defeat of two of its most prized warships stunned the British navy, but the Bismarck did not emerge unscathed. A hit from the Prince of Wales had blown a large hole in one of it’s fuel bunkers, contaminating much of its fuel with seawater and rendering it useless. The British scrambled every ship it had in the area in pursuit, and the Bismarck continued to be shadowed by cruisers and aircraft. The Prinz Eugen was detached for commerce raiding while the Bismarck headed to port in occupied France for repairs, trading distant fire with British cruisers.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Royal Navy Kingfisher Torpedo Bomber

Even damaged, the Bismarck was faster than any heavy British ship, and it took bombers from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to bring it to heel. A torpedo hit on the Bismarck’s stern left her port rudder jammed, leaving the Bismarck to loop helplessly, and a large British surface task force closed in. Adm. Günther Lütjens, the Bismarck’s senior officer, sent a radio message to headquarters stating that they would fight to the last shell.

Unable to maneuver for accurate targeting, the Bismarck’s guns were largely useless, and British ships pounded it mercilessly, inflicting hundreds of hits and killing Lütjens alongside most of the command staff. After the Bismarck was left a shattered wreck, it’s senior surviving officer ordered it’s scuttling charges detonated to avoid its capture, but damaged communications meant much of the crew did not get the word. When it finally capsized and slipped beneath the waves, only 114 of a crew of more than 2,200 made it off alive.

The Bismarck was one of the most powerful machines of war produced in World War II, and it generated real panic in a Great Britain that possessed a far more powerful surface fleet than Germany. But in the end, the Bismarck fell prey to the same weapon that doomed the concept of battleships: Aircraft.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Bismark’s final resting place at the bottom of the sea.

 

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Pictures show USS McCain collision flooded crew berths, comm spaces

Vessels from several nations are searching Southeast Asian waters for 10 missing U.S. sailors after an early morning collision Monday between the USS John S.  and an oil tanker ripped a gaping hole in the destroyer’s hull.


The collision east of Singapore between the guided missile destroyer and the 183-meter (600-foot) Alnic MC was the second involving a ship from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Damage to the portside is visible as the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) steers towards Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore, following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21. Significant damage to the hull resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Damage control efforts by the crew halted further flooding. The incident will be investigated. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/Released)

Vessels and aircraft from the U.S., Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are searching for the missing sailors. Four other sailors were evacuated by a Singaporean navy helicopter to a hospital in the city-state for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, the Navy said. A fifth injured sailor did not require further medical attention.

The  had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation last week by sailing near one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea.

The Navy’s 7th Fleet said “significant damage” to the  hull resulted in the flooding of adjacent compartments including crew berths, machinery and communications rooms. A damage control response prevented further flooding, it said.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
A photo of the freighter that allegedly hit the USS John McCain. (AP photo via NewsEdge)

The destroyer was damaged on its port side aft, or left rear, in the 5:24 a.m. collision about 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) from Malaysia’s coast but sailed on to Singapore’s naval base under its own power. Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency said the area is at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

A photo tweeted by Malaysian navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin showed a large rupture in the side near the waterline. Janes, a defense industry publication, estimated the hull breach was 3 meters (10 feet) wide.

One of the injured sailors, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Navin Ramdhun, posted a Facebook message telling family and friends he was OK and awaiting surgery for an arm injury.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Local authorities brief the media on the USS McCain collision. (AP photo via NewsEdge)

He told The Associated Press in a message that he couldn’t say what happened. “I was actually sleeping at that time. Not entirely sure.”

The Singapore government said no crew were injured on the Liberian-flagged Alnic, which sustained damage to a compartment at the front of the ship some 7 meters (23 feet) above its waterline. There were no reports of a chemical or oil spill.

Several safety violations were recorded for the tanker at its last port inspection in July.

Singapore sent tugboats and naval and coast guard vessels to search for the missing sailors and Indonesia said it sent two warships. Malaysia said three ships and five boats as well as aircraft from its navy and air force were helping with the search, and the USS America deployed Osprey aircraft and Seahawk helicopters.

There was no immediate explanation for the collision, and the Navy said an investigation would be conducted. Singapore, at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world’s busiest ports and a U.S. ally, with its naval base regularly visited by American warships.

The collision was the second involving a ship from the Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan.

The Fitzgerald’s captain was relieved of his command and other sailors were being punished after the Navy found poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch contributed to the collision, the Navy announced last week. An investigation into how and why the Fitzgerald collided with the other ship was not finished, but enough details were known to take those actions, the Navy said.

The Greek owner of the tanker, Stealth Maritime Corp. S.A., replaced its website with a notice that says it is cooperating with the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore’s investigation and with “other responding agencies.” It says “thoughts and prayers are with the families of the missing U.S. Navy sailors.”

An official database for ports in Asia shows the Alnic was last inspected in the Chinese port of Dongying on July 29 and had one document deficiency, one fire safety deficiency and two safety of navigation problems.

The database doesn’t go into details and the problems were apparently not serious enough for the Liberian-flagged vessel to be detained by the port authority.

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern for the  crew.

Trump returned to Washington on Sunday night from his New Jersey golf club. When reporters shouted questions to him about the , he responded, “That’s too bad.”

About two hours later, Trump tweeted that “thoughts and prayers” are with the  sailors as search and rescue efforts continue.

The 154-meter (505-foot) destroyer is named after U.S. Sen. John  father and grandfather, who were both U.S.admirals. It’s based at the 7th Fleet’s homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. It was commissioned in 1994 and has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted sailors, according the Navy’s website.

 said on Twitter that he and his wife, Cindy, are “keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S  in our prayers tonight — appreciate the work of search rescue crews.”

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Russia boosts its propaganda division

The Russian Defense Ministry has formalized its information-warfare efforts with a dedicated propaganda division, Russian state-run media said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.


“Propaganda needs to be clever, smart and efficient,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in reference to the new unit.

Retired Russian Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who leads the defense-affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said the unit would “protect the national defense interests and engage in information warfare.”

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The U.S. may have the stronger military, but Russia reigns when it comes to propaganda. (Image of Vladimir Putin)

But Russia has long been accused of spreading propaganda in the West. Business Insider’s Barbara Tasch detailed one case where Russian outlets spread a false story of a Russian-born 13-year-old being raped in Germany by a group of three refugees.

In December, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had meddled in the US election and that its interference may have been directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

Russia’s use of propaganda as an element of “hybrid warfare” proved instrumental during the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the later insurgency in Ukraine.

Russia has vastly improved their conventional and nuclear military assets as well. An Associated Press report on Wednesday said that Russia will deliver 170 new aircraft, 905 new tanks and other armored vehicles, and 17 new naval ships.

Russia’s forces in Eastern Europe now vastly outmatch NATO’s.

A NATO spokeswoman told Reuters earlier this month that “NATO has been dealing with a significant increase in Russian propaganda and disinformation since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.”

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9 bombers that can shoot down a fighter

When bombers beat fighters, it is very notable. But some bombers have more tools than others in an air-to-air fight. For instance, the F-105 shot down 27 MiGs during the Vietnam War, many thanks to its M61 cannon.


Here are some bombers that an enemy fighter would not want to get caught in front of.

1. De Havilland Mosquito

While some versions of this plane were designed as out-and-out bombers, with the bombardier in the nose, others swapped out the bombardier for a powerful armament of four .303-caliber machine guns and four 20mm cannons.

It goes without saying just what this could do to a fighter. One incident saw a number of Mosquitos being jumped by the deadly Focke-Wulf FW190. The Mosquitos shot down five of the enemy in return for three of their own in the dogfight.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The Mosquito’s heavy armament of four .303-caliber machine guns and four 20mm cannon is very apparent. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. Douglas A-20G Havoc

During the Pacific War, Paul I. Gunn, also known as “Pappy” came up with the idea to make use of the extra .50-caliber machine guns that came from wrecked fighters. He put those on A-20 bombers.

Eventually his modifications were something that Douglas Aircraft began to put on the planes at the factory. The A-20G had six .50-caliber machine guns in the nose — the same firepower of a P-51 Mustang or F6F Hellcat. Against a Zero, that would be a deadly punch. The A-20 later was used as the basis for the P-70, a night fighter armed with four 20mm cannon.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
A look at the nose of an A-20G Havoc. (USAAF Photo)

3. Douglas A-26B Invader

Designed to replace the A-20 Havoc, the Invader was equipped to carry up to 14 .50-caliber machine guns in its nose. Nope, not a misprint; this was the combined firepower of a P-47 and a P-51. That is more than enough to ruin the life of an enemy pilot who gets caught in front of this plane.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The A-26B Invader. Note the eight ,50-caliber machine guns in the nose. Six more were in the wings. (USAAF photo)

4. North American B-25J Mitchell

The medium bomber version of the B-25J was pretty much conventional, but another version based on the strafer modifications made by “Pappy” Gunn in the Southwest Pacific held 18 M2 .50-caliber machine guns. One B-25, therefore, had the firepower of three F4U Corsairs.

Other versions of the B-25, the G and H models, had fewer .50-caliber machine guns, but added a 75mm howitzer in the nose.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

5. Junkers Ju-88

Like the Allied planes listed above, the Ju-88 proved to be a very receptive candidate for heavy firepower in the nose. Some versions got four 20mm cannon and were equipped as night fighters. Others got two 37mm cannon and six 7.92mm machine guns, and were intended to kill tanks and/or bombers. Either way, it will leave a mark, even on the P-47.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Ju-88 in flight. Some were armed with two 37mm cannon. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

6. Vought A-7D/E Corsair

The A-7 Corsair is widely seen as an attack aircraft. It carries a huge bomb load, but the D (Air Force) and E (Navy) models also have a M61 Vulcan with a thousand rounds of ammo. While no Navy or Air Force Corsairs scored an air-to-air kill in the type’s service, if a plane or helicopter was caught in front of this bird, it wouldn’t last long.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
An A-7E Corsair from VA-72 during Operation Desert Shield. (U.S. Navy photo)

7. F-105D/F/G Thunderchief

The F-105 is probably the tactical bomber with the highest air-to-air score since the end of World War II. Much of this was due to its M61 Vulcan with 1,029 rounds of ammo. You know what Leo Thorsness did with his F-105 against a bunch of MiGs.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Republic F-105D in flight with full bomb load. (U.S. Air Force photo)

8. F-111 Aardvark

While it was an awesome strike aircraft that could still be contributing today, it is not that well known that the F-111 did have the option to carry a M61 cannon with 2,000 rounds of ammo. That is a lot of heat for whatever unfortunate plane is in front of it.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
General Dynamics F-111F at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

9. A-10 Thunderbolt

Widely beloved for its use as a close-air support plane in Desert Storm and the War on Terror, the A-10’s GAU-8 was designed to kill tanks. That didn’t mean it couldn’t be used against aerial targets. During Desert Storm, a pair of Iraqi helicopters found that out the hard way.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
BRRRRRT. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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The military built an app to call in bomb strikes

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) demonstrated a new Android tablet app where an Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller — the guy on the ground who is an expert at calling in air strikes — was able to call in multiple close air support (CAS) strikes with an A-10, using only three strokes of a finger.


How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
BRRRRRT Forthcoming. (DARPA Photo)

Conducted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the test was the first set of tests with U.S. Air Force aircraft. Earlier this year, the test were successfully conducted with Marine Corps Osprey aircraft. The Air Force tests used a mixture of laser and GPS-guided weapons, with a 100% success rate, all within the six minute test time frame.

The app — called Persistent Close Air Support — allows the JTAC on the ground to link directly with aircraft pilots, pick targets, and locate friendly forces for the inbound CAS. And you thought the Blue Force Tracker was awesome.

Watch DARPA’s PCAS video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=42v=PfdGQ98Srwc

It’s not science fiction. It’s what they do every day.

NOW: 5 differences between Navy and Air Force fighter pilots

OR: Here’s what training is like for the Air Force’s most elite operators

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ISIS may be on the verge of losing its biggest asset

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
(Screenshot Via YouTube) Islamic State fighters at the Baiji oil refinery.


The Islamic State is one of the most well-funded terrorist organizations in history thanks to the tax base it has managed to establish in its vast swaths of conquered territory in Iraq and Syria.

Running operations to maintain this tax base, however, may prove unsustainable for ISIS in the long run.

The militants are quickly racking up more expenses than they can cover, and their oil revenues have been cut by nearly two-thirds due to US airstrikes on oil refineries and the low price of crude, Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg reported.

The US has tried to cut off ISIS’ sources of revenue with little success, however: The group has compensated by levying hefty taxes on salaries and businesses, in some cases demanding residents and companies pay them as much as 20% of their income or revenue — 50% if they are employed by the Iraqi government, the New York Times reported.

And after conquering Mosul in June 2014, ISIS imposed a “protection” tax on every Iraqi Christian who refused to convert to Islam. Christians who refused to pay would not receive the protection of ISIS gunmen and could either leave or be killed.

All in all, ISIS takes in an estimated $1 million every day from extortion and taxation, according to analysts at the nonprofit RAND Corporation.

“ISIS makes most of its money from plunder,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider in May. “We’re seeing that over and over again. They go from one town to the next and knock over a bank or several banks and go house to house and extract whatever is of value.”

“It’s a racket,” Schanzer said. “And that’s how ISIS continues to survive and thrive.

ISIS can continue to tax its captive population for as long as it holds territory, but the militants’ wealth is bound to dwindle as holding this territory is in itself an expensive endeavor. Paying soldiers to rampage across the Middle East is not cheap, either — salaries cost ISIS between $3 million and $10 million every month, and the money the group steals from banks is not being replenished, according to Bloomberg.

“It is important to note that as the sources of ISIL’s wealth — notably the money stolen from banks and revenues from oil sales — are either no longer replenished or will diminish over time,” Jennifer Fowler, deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, said in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“There are already signs that ISIL is unable to provide fundamental services to the people under its control, which Baghdad previously provided or subsidized,” she added.

“While it’s true they’re the best-financed terror group we’ve seen, they’re still an insurgent group, and they have a lot of expenses.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This is mass suicide mission the Soviets wanted to use on the US Navy in WWIII

In 2013, a former Soviet Navy officer named Maksim Y. Tokarev penned an article in the U.S. Naval War College Review called Kamikazes: The Soviet Legacy. In the piece, Tokarev details how the USSR intended to use its Tupolev-22M Backfire bombers, a plan that had not been previously released.


The Soviets looked at Japanese tactics in WWII. They recognized Japan still had a fleet of capital ships but by then the nature of naval warfare had changed. Massive U.S. carriers became roving air forces in the oceans. Since much of their own naval and air forces were at the bottom of the Pacific, there was no way for the Japanese to effectively engage the U.S. forces.

The best way they could devise was a strategy as old as aviation in warfare: conduct the earliest possible strike to inflict such damage that the opponent is unable to launch its air forces. By 1944, the Japanese began these asymmetrical suicide attacks, widely known as kamikaze.

By the late 70s and early 80s, the Soviets were unable to create a carrier fleet to compete with the U.S. economically and politically. But they still had to create a strategy to deter U.S. Navy carrier task forces. So their idea was still centered around air combat, but their forces would be land-based, close to Soviet coastlines.

The tactics weren’t intended to look like kamikaze attacks, but in practice, not many Soviet sailors and airmen would be returning from these missions.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Space. The best place for a Russian sailor to be posted.

The USSR’s naval air force planned to send a fleet of 100 bombers armed with anti-ship missiles against any US aircraft carrier battle group, fully expecting to lose half of them to enemy action. This number would increase by 100 for every carrier. In their defense, these were calculated losses. Soviet planners wanted to slow the reactions of the task force’s entire air-defense system, to produce a “golden time” to launch a calculated missile strike.

Soviet planners learned U.S. interceptor crews were dependent on the opinions of air controllers, so the planners needed to find a way to fool those officers, to overload their sensors or relax their sense of danger by making attacking forces appear to be decoys, which were in reality full, combat-ready strikes.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

In contrast, Soviet naval air forces did not trust the targeting information they got from satellites or other intelligence methods. To Soviet pilots, the most reliable source was the direct-tracking ship, a ship shadowing the U.S. fleet constantly sending back coordinates just in case war breaks out.

That’s not all. If war did break out, the shadowing ship was toast, and her captain knew it. So he was prepared to take appropriate action. Tokarev writes:

“At the moment of war declaration or when specifically ordered, after sending the carrier’s position by radio, he would shell the carrier’s flight deck with gunfire…He could even ram the carrier, and some trained their ship’s companies to do so.”

The attacking planes would launch missiles from maximum range to distract the American crews while two reconnaissance TU-16 Badgers would attempt to breach into the center of the task force formation to find carriers visually, their only task to send its exact position to the entire division by radio.

No one in the Badger crews counted on a return flight. They were very aware they were flying a suicide mission.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation

“Why we are not getting a full tank of fuel, Vasily?”

Once the carrier was located, the main attack group would launch their missiles. Two to three strike groups would approach from different directions and at different altitudes. The main launch had to be made simultaneously by all planes.

The “golden time” opening for the missiles was just “one minute for best results, no more than two minutes for satisfactory ones. If the timing became wider in an exercise, the entire main attack was considered unsuccessful.”

The Soviets calculated twelve hits by conventional missiles would be needed to sink a carrier but single nuclear missile hit could produce the same result.

Because of the difficulty and accident rates associated with bailing out of, abandoning, or even in-flight refueling many Soviet-designed bombers, Soviet Naval Air Force bomber crews considered themselves suicide bombers anyway (even without an enemy).  Officers on guided-missile ships assisting in a Soviet air raid counted on surviving a battle against a U.S. Navy carrier air wing for twenty or thirty minutes, tops.

All in all, the expected loss rate was 50 percent of a full strike, whether or not the objective number of U.S. or NATO warships were successfully hit.

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The remarkable history of the Russian MiG in under 5 minutes

Despite the widespread deployment of Sukhoi aircraft to Syria, it’s important to remember that Russian MiGs were once the backbone of the Soviet air force – and will be for Russia again.


How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
(Aviata.net)

Related: Russia’s only aircraft carrier is a floating hell for the crew

From the Russian for the firm who created the airframes, Mikoyan and Gurevich, MiG fighters began their real operational history with the MiG-15 during the Korean War. The Russian MiGs proved to be so capable that the they became wildly popular in air forces from Vietnam to the Indian Subcontinent to the Middle East.

The MiG proved so popular and able from generation to generation, it maintained its supremacy in the Soviet Air Forces through much of the 1980s – until the introduction of the Sukhoi-27 ousted the MiG from its top spot.

As time went on, MiGs in the Russian service were sidelined in favor of the increased range and larger payload of the Sukhoi family’s 4th-generation fighters.

Not anymore.

The MiG is back – in a big way. The MiG-29 SMT Generation-4+ fighters have improved technology, weapons payload, and fuel space. Russia ordered four SMTs from Mikoyan to deploy them in Armenia and ordered a number of MiG-29Ks sufficient to launch from an aircraft carrier.

The MiG-35 will enter service in Russia’s air force in 2017. Though not a 5th Generation airframe, the Russians will use the MiG-35 to counter the F-16 used by most NATO countries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW6wzHOSRj8
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US aircraft carrier visits Israel for the first time in nearly two decades

It leads the United States’ war against ISIS and with 75 aircraft on its deck has the ability to carry out numerous combat sorties a day. On July 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the USS George H. W. Bush docked opposite the Haifa Port and became the first sitting head of state to visit America’s largest and most lethal floating war machine.


The docking of the ship on July 1 marked the first time an aircraft carrier visited Israel in 17 years.

“The visit of the USS George H.W. Bush speaks to the enduring commitment to our shared interests and a commitment to fight against our common enemies,” Commanding Officer Capt. Will Pennington told reporters during a visit to the ship. According to a statement by the US European Command, the ship’s visit is meant “to enhance US-Israel relations as the two nations reaffirm their continued commitment to the collective security of the European and Middle East Regions.”

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
USS George H.W. Bush. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

According to Pennington, the crew is constantly engaged in cooperation with Israel, including sharing intelligence.

“There is a tremendous network of shared intelligence. As you are aware the airspace in the region is very, very, busy with lots of different actors so the need to deconflict that and make sure that everyone understands their missions is very important,” he said.

Visiting the ship with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Netanyahu recalled his visit to another aircraft carrier 20 years ago.

“So much has changed since the first time I visited… our ties have gotten stronger and deeper,” he said. “It is a floating island of America. It is a symbol of freedom and strength and victory.”

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The USS George H.W. Bush was in the region to participate in the fight against ISIS, carrying out its last operational mission on June 30. With 20-25 sorties per day, aircraft aboard the ship have carried out 1,600 sorties over both Syria and Iraq, striking targets in Mosul and in the vicinity of Raqqa on missions that can last seven to nine hours.

The targets which are directed by the coalition ground commander, are sometimes known prior to take-off and pilots have sometimes also received targets while in the air.

According to Carrier Air Wing 8 Captain James A. McCall, one of the real-time targets was the Syrian jet that was downed on June 18 in southern Raqqa province by one of the jets stationed on the aircraft carrier.

“The jet came within visual distance” McCall said, stating that US jets “warned the Syrian aircraft that they were approaching coalition friendlies. They (the Syrian regime jet) ignored the warning and even dropped bombs on the friendlies,” he said referring to the Syrian Democratic Force who are supported by the coalition.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from an aircraft carrier. Photo courtesy of US Navy

Towards the end of its seven-month deployment, the USS George H.W. Bush arrived in Haifa after a 40 day voyage from Dubai.

While the ship will not be taking part in any joint exercises with the Israeli Navy, Israel provided security as it pulled into the Haifa Bay allowing the ship’s strike group to continue to other missions and port calls.

“We are very tightly linked with our colleagues and partners and allies from the IDF and have been for very many years,” Pennington said.

Speaking at a ceremony aboard the carrier, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, commander of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, stated that the visit marks “a special moment” between Israel and the United States which “has had long standing military to military engagements with Israel.”

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on board the USS George H. W. Bush. Photo from DoD

“In this visit to Israel, the ship’s might is a metaphor for the strength of the bonds between our countries. I’d like to thank the Israeli people for hosting us and for taking care of our Sailors,” she added.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who visited the ship on Sunday stated that it was “a timely show of American power projection and deterrence capability.”

“Its support for the countries fighting Islamic extremism and terror and Iran is very important, especially now when Iran is working to create facts on the ground in Syria, including a port on the Mediterranean, and Hezbollah continues to build its arsenal with more advanced and precise missiles.”

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10 symbols of NASA’s amazing legacy

From a one-man capsule to the space shuttle, here are ten facts about America’s space program that will remind you of NASA’s amazing history and the legacy of dedication and service on the part of all who’ve worked there over the years.


How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Wally Schirra was the only one of the Mercury 7 astronauts to fly in all three of NASA’s ‘Moon Shot’ programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo). Alan Shepard flew in Mercury and Apollo, but not in Gemini. Gus Grissom was involved in all three projects, flying in Mercury and Gemini, but he was killed during a pre-flight simulation in his Apollo 1 capsule, so he never actually flew in the Apollo program. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Gus Grissom was the only Mercury astronaut to give his capsule a name: Molly Brown. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Alan Shepard used a modified six iron during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. NASA planners were unaware that he’d carried the device with him on the mission. Shepard later presented the folding club to comedian Bob Hope, an avid golfer beloved by the military. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton are the only First Couple to watch a shuttle launch in person. They watched John Glenn’s return to Space on STS-95 on October 29, 1998 from the Kennedy Space Center. President Obama had planned to watch the shuttle Endeavour lift off on its final mission, STS-134, on April 29, 2011, but that launch was delayed. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Astronaut Kathy Sullivan was first U.S. woman to perform a spacewalk, accomplishing the feat during the shuttle Challenger’s mission (STS-41G) in October of 1984. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Norm Thagard became the first American astronaut to ride aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket when he joined two Russian cosmonauts in blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan on March 14, 1995. The Mir 18 mission lasted 115 days. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
On Feb. 9, 1995, Bernard Harris, payload specialist aboard STS-63, became the first African-American to walk in space. This photo shows Harris and mission specialist C. Michael Foale in the airlock chamber just before exiting the shuttle. (NASA.gov)

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
The shuttle Columbia flew 28 flights (including the first shuttle mission), spent 300.74 days in space, completed 4,808 orbits, and flew a total of 125,204,911 miles. The shuttle met a tragic end in 2003 when it was destroyed on re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

 

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Pushing out the boundaries of space exploration has taken a human toll. Eighteen NASA astronauts have died in the course of carrying out the mission: three on Apollo 1, one on X-15-3, seven on Challenger, and seven on Columbia.

 

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It’s not the Beretta M9 that sucks, it’s the ammo

There’s a decades-old argument about which pistol round is better that stems from a more basic argument about terminal ballistics – which is just a fancy term for what happens when bullets hit living things.


The two sides of the argument are between those who believe fast, lightweight rounds do more damage, and those who believe heavy, lower-moving rounds impart more energy and “stopping power” on the target.

Listen to the WATM podcast to hear our veteran hosts and a weapons expert discuss the M9 and why ammo matters: 

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Given its history of weapon adoption, it seems the Army is a proponent of the fast, lightweight department. First it swapped out the 7.62mm M14 for the 5.56mm M16, then the .45 1911 for the 9mm M9. While many agree with the first change (sorry M14 lovers) some still think the M9 should never have been adopted without changing the ammunition recipe beforehand.

Here’s why.

Full metal jacket ammo is really great for sending rounds through paper, but its aerodynamic and hydrodynamic design makes it zip through tissue without dumping most of the energy behind it into the target. Shot placement can compensate for this by hitting harder stuff like bones or vital organs, but under the stress of returning fire, that’s damn tough for even the seasoned Delta operator to land perfect hits with a sidearm.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
An M9 service pistol’s magazine rests on the firing line next to a scoring sheet during a pistol qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 7, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released)

Ideally, a round will dump all of its energy into a target, which reduces the need for shot placement at the cost of reduced penetration. On a rifle, this is a big drawback. It means if Johnny-Jihad is hiding behind a plywood shack, the rounds will expand in the wooden walls and lose most of their power. With a sidearm, most shooters aren’t trying to blast bad guys through walls – it’s a weapon of last resort.

So when a trooper needs to draw his M9, he shouldn’t have to worry about the bullets failing to stop his attacker.

If the military wants to put the M9 on even-footing with the M1911’s fight-stopping power, it might only need to swap out the M882 round with the good stuff being issued to American law enforcement officers.

Heck, Rangers have been running heavier, jacketed hollow-points for years. This isn’t news to the brass.

A little more than a year ago, the Army declared its Modular Handgun System should be able to operate with special ammunition like jacketed, hollow-point rounds.  The so-called XM17 is slated to replace the M9.

In fact, one recommendation is to replace the lightweight 112gr M882 FMJ cartridges with heavier 147gr expanding hollow-point rounds like those employed by Ranger elements during combat operations. These heavier rounds don’t just expand better in their targets, they’re also subsonic.

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Paquin, assigned to Expeditionary Combat Camera reloads an M9 pistol during practical weapons course training at Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, July 28. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric Dietrich)

This has two major advantageous. First, it makes them better suited to pistols and submachine guns equipped with sound suppressors. And second, it provides a more consistent flight path since the bullet doesn’t go transonic.

That all said, many agree the M9 does have some serious mechanical shortcomings. Slides cracking, junk magazines in the early days of the G-WOT, and the gun’s open-slide gobbling up sand all contribute to a pistol clearly not at home in desert warfare.

But with new magazines that work much better, reinforced slides and a proper maintenance schedule, many experts say the M9 beats the hell out of the 1911 it replaced — but only with proper ammo. Hague convention be damned, expanding ammunition isn’t designed to cruelly maim soldiers but to drop them more reliability. Plus, these same rounds are nearly always stopped by walls, putting fewer civilians at risk in adjacent rooms.

Lastly, if you’re worried about our guys getting hit with these types of rounds, don’t be. Expanding ammunition amplifies the effectiveness of body armor, since both are designed to dissipate force. So as long as Joe has his body armor on, hollow points won’t do any more than a standard pistol round.

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22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

Representative government has been a luxury that relatively few people have enjoyed throughout human history.


And while the vast majority of dictators fall short of Hitler- or Stalin-like levels of cruelty, history is rife with oppressors, war criminals, sadists, sociopaths, and morally complacent individuals who ended up as unelected heads of government — to the tragic detriment of the people and societies they ruled.

Here’s a look at 22 brutal dictators that you may not have heard of.

Francisco Solano Lopez (Paraguay, 1862-1870)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Last picture of Francisco Solano López, 1870. Wikimedia

Although he became a revered figure in Paraguay decades after his death, Paraguayan president and military leader Francisco Solano Lopez unwisely provoked neighboring Brazil and Argentina by meddling in a civil war in Uruguay in the mid-1860s.

After that war concluded, Brazil, Argentina, and the winning faction in Uruguay secretly agreed to a plan in which they would annex half of Paraguay’s territory.

Lopez rejected the peace terms offered by the “triple alliance,” incurring a full-on invasion.

What followed was a devastating conflict in which an overmatched Lopez conscripted child soldiers, executed hundreds of his deputies (including his own brother), incurred steep territorial losses, and triggered an eight-year Argentine military occupation.

By the time of Lopez’s death in battle in 1870 and the war’s subsequent end, Paraguay’s population had plunged from an estimated 525,000 to 221,000, and only 29,000 males over the age of 15 were left alive.

Jozef Tiso (Slovakia, 1939-1945)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Josef Tiso. Wikimedia

A Catholic priest who led Slovakia’s fascist moment, Tiso was in charge of one of Nazi Germany’s numerous satellite regimes for almost the entirety of World War II.

Although arguably a less energetic fascist than the leaders of comparable Nazi puppet regimes, Tiso led a brutal crackdown after a 1944 anti-fascist rebellion.

He also either facilitated or had first-hand knowledge of the deportation of the vast majority of the country’s Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

At the time, Slovakia had a Jewish population of over 88,000. However, by the conflict’s conclusion, nearly 5,000 were left in the country.

Döme Sztójay (Hungary, 1944)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Döme Sztójay.Wikipedia

Hungarian leader Miklós Horthy had been an ally of Nazi Germany, collaborating with Adolf Hitler’s regime in exchange for assistance in restoring Hungarian control over lands the country had lost as a result of World War I.

Horthy began attempting to chart an independent path from the Nazis as the German war effort flagged in 1944 and largely refused to deport the country’s Jews — triggering a Nazi invasion and Döme Sztójay’s installation as the country’s puppet leader even while Horthy officially remained in power.

During Sztójay’s six months as Hungary’s prime minister, more than 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to concentration camps in one of the last major forced population transfers of the Holocaust.

Sztójay, who had been Hungary’s ambassador to Nazi Germany for the decade leading up to World War II, was captured by American troops after the war and executed in Hungary in 1946.

Ante Pavelic (1941-1945)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Ante Pavelic. Wikipedia

Ante Pavelic started out as a politician who was opposed to the centralization of what later became officially known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

After Yugoslavia’s king declared himself dictator in 1929, Pavelic fled the country in order to organize an ultra-nationalist movement called Ustaše.

The Ustaše was dedicated to creating an independent Croatia, and sometimes resorted to terrorism. Ultimately, the group assassinated King Alexander in 1934.

After Axis forces took over Yugoslavia in the 1941, Pavelic took control as the head of the Independent State of Croatia (or NDH).

The country was nominally ruled by the Ustaše, but was essentially a puppet state of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Under Pavelic’s leadership, the regime persecuted Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Romani living in the NDH.

After Germany was defeated in 1945, Pavelic went into hiding, and eventually escaped to Argentina. He died in Spain in 1959.

Mátyás Rákosi (1945-1956)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Mátyás Rákosi. Hungarian Government

Mátyás Rákosi became the communist leader of Hungary after consolidating political power in 1945.

He was called “Stalin’s best Hungarian disciple,” orchestrating purges and installing a repressive Soviet-allied regime.

After Stalin died in 1953, the USSR decided his regime was too brutal and told Rákosi that he could stay on as the Hungarian communist party’s secretary-general — on the condition that he give up his prime ministership to the “reform-minded” Imre Nagy.

Rákosi managed to stick around for a bit, until the USSR officially decided he was a liability.

Moscow removed him from power in 1956 in order to appease the Yugoslav leader, Mashal Tito.

Khorloogiin Choibalsan (Mongolia, 1930s-1952)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Khorloogiin Choibalsan. Wikipedia

After several meetings with Stalin, Choibalsan adopted the Soviet leader’s policies and methods and applied them to Mongolia.

He created a dictatorial system, suppressing the opposition and killing tens of thousands of people.

Later in the 1930s, he “began to arrest and kill leading workers in the party, government, and various social organizations in addition to army officers, intellectuals, and other faithful workers,” according to a report published in 1968 cited in the Historical Dictionary of Mongolia.

In late 1951, Choibalsan went to Moscow in order to receive treatment for kidney cancer. He died the following year.

Enver Hoxha (Albania, 1944-1985)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Enver Hoxha. Wikipedia

Albania’s communist dictator feuded with both the Soviet Union and China before promoting a ruinous policy of national self-reliance that turned his country into a Balkan version of modern-day North Korea.

During his four-decade rule, Hoxha banned religion, ordered the construction of thousands of concrete pillboxes throughout Albania, undertook eccentric public building projects, purged his inner circle multiple times, and severed nearly all of Albania’s meaningful international relations.

Hoxha enforced a Stalin-like cult of personality and created a completely isolated society with virtually no tolerance of political dissent.

An estimated 200,000 people were imprisoned for alleged political crimes during Hoxha’s rule, in a country with a current population of around 3 million.

Lê Duan (Vietnam, 1960-1986)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Lê Duan. Wikipedia

Although he was never Vietnam’s official head of state, Lê Duan was the dominant decision-maker within the country’s communist regime for more than 20 years.

After the Vietnam War and the North’s successful invasion of South Vietnam, Duan oversaw purges of South Vietnamese anticommunists, imprisoning of as many as 2 million people and forcing more than 800,000 Vietnamese to flee the country by boat.

Under Duan, Vietnam also embarked on a failed economic-centralization effort that later generations of Vietnamese leaders would reverse.

Ian Smith (Rhodesia, 1964-1979)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Federal government photograph of Ian Smith, then a Member of Rhodesia and Nyasaland’s Federal Parliament, circa 1954.

One of the most controversial figures in post-colonial African history, Ian Smith, a decorated fighter pilot during World War II, led the secession of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from the British empire in 1965.

His aim was to preserve white rule in an overwhelmingly black colony.

As prime minister of an independent Rhodesia, Smith oversaw an apartheid system similar to the one in neighboring South Africa, seeking to ensure white rule through a system of racial separation and control.

Although whites were less than 4% of Rhodesia’s population, Smith’s government survived nearly 15 years of international isolation and civil war.

He agreed to a power-sharing accord that elevated Robert Mugabe to prime minister in 1980.

Although sometimes lauded for his willingness to surrender power — something that meant Rhodesia was liberated from minority rule some 15 years before neighboring South Africa — he still led a racially discriminatory regime for well over a decade.

Ramfis Trujillo (Dominican Republic, May 1961-October 1961)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Ramfis Trujillo. Screen grab/YouTube.

Ramfis’s father, the more infamous Rafael Trujillo, ruled the Dominican Republic for over 30 years.

His oldest son, who was made a colonel at the age of 4, only spent a few months as the Caribbean nation’s dictator — but he used them to mount a brutal reprisal campaign against those he suspected of assassinating his father on May 30, 1960.

An “accomplished torturer” and inveterate playboy, when Ramfis left the Dominican Republic by yacht to go into exile in Spain in late 1961, he reportedly took his father’s coffin with him.

What’s more, the coffin was filled with nearly $4 million in money and jewels.

Michel Micombero (Burundi, 1966-1976)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Michel Micombero. Wikipedia image.

Michel Micombero, an army captain and then minister of defense, was just 26 years old when he led the 1966 counter-coup that landed him the prime minister’s chair.

That was a dangerous job in Burundi, considering that two of his predecessors had been assassinated since the country won its independence from Belgium in 1962.

Micombero, an ethnic Tutsi, swiftly abolished the country’s monarchy and exiled its 19-year-old king.

Micombero cultivated a Tutsi elite within the army and government, raising tensions with the country’s Hutu community.

In 1972, Micombero’s government crushed a Hutu insurrection by organizing mass killings in which an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people were killed.

Although Micombero was overthrown in a 1976 coup, the Hutu-Tutsi divide persisted in Burundi, and helped spark a civil war in the country that lasted between 1993 and 2005.

Yahya Khan (Pakistan, 1969-1971)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Yahya Khan. Wikipedia

The Pakistani general and World War II British Army veteran dissolved the government and imposed martial law in 1969.

By the time he lost power two years later, Eastern Pakistan had broken off to become the independent nation of Bangladesh and Pakistan lost another war to its rival, India.

Meanwhile, Khan oversaw the mass slaughter of as many as half a million Bengalis and other minorities in India.

In March 1971, Khan ordered his army to crack down on a burgeoning separatist movement in Eastern Pakistan.

“Operation Searchlight” targeted Bengali nationalists and intellectuals and produced a wave of 10 million refugees that convinced India to intervene in Pakistan’s civil war, setting the stage for Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan the following year.

During a high-level meeting in February 1971, Khan was recorded saying to “kill three million of them,” in reference to the separatists and their supporters.

By the end of the year, hundreds of thousands of people were dead — and Khan had been deposed as president and sent into internal exile. He died in Pakistan in 1980.

Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio (Guatemala, 1970-1974)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio. Guatemalan government

Carlos Arana Osorio was one of the several military rulers who were president in Guatemala during the volatile years following a 1954 coup.

During his presidency, he amped up government efforts to subdue armed rebels and persecuted “student radicals,” workers groups, and political opponents.

An estimated 20,000 people “died or ‘disappeared’” under the Arana Osorio administration.

Guatemala went had military presidents through 1986, but the country’s civil war continued until December 1996.

Jorge Rafael Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Jorge Rafael Videla. Wikimedia image.

Military officer Jorge Rafaél Videla took over Argentina during a coup d’état in 1976.

At the time, the country was straddled with a corrupt government and a battered economy, and was “besieged by attacks from guerrillas and death squads,” with many Argentines “welcoming Videla’s move, hoping the three-man military junta would put an end to the violence,” according to Biography.com.

Videla tried to bring back economic growth via free-market reforms, and was “moderately successful.” However, he closed the courts and gave legislative powers to a nine-man military commission.

His government conducted a notorious “‘dirty war,’ during which thousands of people considered to be subversive threats were abducted, detained and murdered,” among them intellectuals, journalists, and educators.

The official estimate of people killed during his presidency is 9,000, but some sources believe the number is between 15,000 and 30,000.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1985, but pardoned in 1990. He was once again put on trial in 2010, and received another life sentence. He died in prison in 2013.

Francisco Macías Nguema (Equatorial Guinea, 1968-1979)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Francisco Macías Nguema. Wikimedia image.

The first president of Equatorial Guinea was a paranoid kleptocrat who declared himself leader for life, kept much of the national treasury in suitcases under his bed, and killed or exiled an estimated one-third of the former Spanish colony’s population of 300,000.

Nguema’s hatred of his country’s educated classes led to comparisons with Cambodia’s Pol Pot.

Extensive forced-labor programs brought to mind other historical cruelties as well: One visitor to the country during Nguema’s rule described it as “the concentration camp of Africa — a cottage-industry Dachau.”

Nguema was executed after his nephew, Teodoro Obiang, overthrew him in a 1979 coup.

Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea, 1979-present)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Teodoro Obiang.Wikipedia

Teodoro Obiang overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema, the first president of Equatorial Guinea, in 1979.

In 1995, oil was discovered in Equatorial Guinea, which provided Obiang with an almost limitless means of self-enrichment.

While the country of 700,000 languishes in the bottom quartile of the Human Development Index, its resource wealth has funded one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

Obiang’s government is accused of torturing dissidents and banning most forms of political expression.

At the same time, Obiang has attempted to turn the capital of Malabo into a tourism and conference destination, and has tried to portray Equatorial Guinea as one of Africa’s rising political and economic powers.

Siad Barre (Somalia, 1969-1991)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Siad Barre. Wikipedia

Somalia’s socialist military dictator committed a disastrous strategic error when he invaded Ethiopia’s Somali-majority Ogaden region in 1977.

The invasion convinced the Soviet Union to withdraw its support from Barre’s government.

And instead the Soviet Union backed Ethiopia’s emerging communist regime.

After the failed war against Ethiopia, Barre continued to rule Somalia for 13 years.

He maintained control through a combination of blunt force and canny manipulation of Somalia’s clan system.

His most disastrous legacy is Somalia’s descent into civil war in 1991, which marked the beginning of over two decades of anarchy in the country.

Radovan Karadžic (Republika Srpska, 1992-1996)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Radovan Karadžic’s arrest in November 1984. Wikipedia

Radovan Karadžic was president of Republika Srpska, the self-proclaimed ethnic Serb “republik” that seceded from Bosnia after Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia in 1992.

As president, Karadžic oversaw an ethnic-cleansing campaign against Bosnian Muslims that included some of the most severe human-rights abuses committed on European soil since World War II.

Karadžic is believed to have ordered the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militants killed over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the span of three days.

Karadžic went into hiding, and after Bosnia’s civil war, he became a homeopathic health expert under an assumed name and began writing articles about healing.

In 2008, he was arrested in Serbia and sent to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.

Theodore Sindikubwabo (Rwanda, April 1994-July 1994)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Theodore Sindikubwabo. YouTube screengrab.

Theodore Sindikubwabo bears little personal responsibility for the organization of the Rwandan genocide, which was largely the project of hardline army officers and government officials like Theoneste Bagasora.

But when Rwandan president Juvenal Habyrimana’s plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, Sindikubwabo was the man that the genocide’s architects selected as Rwanda’s head of state.

The former pediatrician was the official head of a government that perpetrated the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people.

Far from attempting to stop the bloodbath, Sindikubwabo appeared in Cayahinda, Rwanda, on April 20, 1994, to “to thank and encourage” militants carrying out the genocide, and to “promise he would send soldiers to help local people finish killing the Tutsi who were barricaded” in a local church, according to Human Rights Watch.

Sindikubwabo fled into neighboring Zaire after the forces of current Rwandan president Paul Kagame invaded the country during the closing days of the genocide.

He died in exile in 1998.

Than Shwe (Myanmar, 1992-2011)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Than Shwe. Wikipedia image.

Than Shwe was the leader of the ruling military junta in Myanmar (Burma) and had been criticized and sanctioned by Western countries for human-rights abuses.

Up to 1 million people were reportedly sent to “satellite zones” and “labor camps” under his rule.

There was virtually no free speech in the country, and “owning a computer modern or fax [was] illegal, and anyone talking to a foreign journalist [was] at risk of torture or jail,” the Guardian reported in 2007.

Although Shwe stepped down in 2011, The Wall Street Journal reports that he “still exerts considerable leverage behind the scenes.”

Most recently, he pledged support to his former foe, Aung San Suu Kyi, as the Myanmar’s “future leader” — even though during his rule, the country’s Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader was kept under house arrest.

Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea, 1991-present)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Isaias Afwerki. Wikipedia image.

Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 partly because of President Isaias Afwerki’s leadership in the armed struggle against Ethiopia’s brutal communist regime, which he helped overthrow.

Over the next 25 years, Afwerki built one of the world’s most terrorizing dictatorships.

Afwerki’s government maintains a network of brutal secret prison camps, and forcibly conscripts the country’s citizens into indefinite military service.

Eritrea’s internal oppression has led to over 380,000 people fleeing out of a population of less than 7 million — despite the lack of active armed conflict in the country.

Afwerki’s foreign policy has been equally problematic.

A 1998 dispute with Ethiopia over the demarcation of the countries’ border quickly escalated into the last full-scale interstate war of the 20th century, with Afwerki bearing at least partial blame for failing to defuse a conflict in which an estimated 100,000 people were killed.

Eritrea is also under UN sanctions for its alleged support of Al Shabaab militants fighting the Ethiopian military in Somalia.

Yahya Jammeh (Gambia, 1996-present)

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Yahya Jammeh. Wikipedia

Gambia’s president since 1996 has built one of the most oppressive states on earth.

Jammeh has used arbitrary arrests and torture as his preferred means of control, and has threatened to personally slit the throats of the country’s gay men.

Gambians are fleeing the country in droves.

Despite its population of only 1.8 million, Gambia is among the 10 most common origin points for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

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Nigerian Air Force takes out Boko Haram leaders

How the sinking of Germany’s greatest battleship proved the value of naval aviation
Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet loaded up for a strike mission. (Photo: Nigerian Air Force)


The Nigerian Air Force carried out an air strike on Friday that bagged some of the top leaders of Boko Haram. The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed.

The Nigerian military announced the deaths late Monday on their Twitter feed. The military statement confirmed that Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman were among the dead in the “most unprecedented and spectacular air raid” on the village of Taye in the Sambisa forest. The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

The military’s statement also claimed that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian terrorist group responsible for an attack that resulted in the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from Chibok and for selling them into slavery, was fatally wounded. Shekau’s death has been reported before, only to be disproven by video appearances.

A photo released by the Nigerian military with their statement on the air strike showed pilots in a briefing in front of a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet of the 75th Strike Group. This multi-role aircraft serves in both the light attack and training roles, and can carry up to 5,500 pounds of bombs and missiles, including the BL755 cluster bomb and the AGM-65 Maverick. It has a top speed of 540 knots, and a range of roughly 380 miles. The plane also serves in the air forces of France, Thailand, Belgium, Cameroon, Togo, Qatar, Portugal, and Morocco. The plane has been retired by Germany and the Ivory Coast.

Nigerian Alpha Jets have been the primary strike weapon against Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden.” Nigeria also has Chengdu J-7 Fishbed interceptors and Areo L-39 Albatross trainers in service, but the former are primarily used for air defense (replacing Russian-build MiG-21 Fishbeds in 2009) and the latter planes have a very limited bomb load (roughly 600 pounds).