Boeing's new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones - We Are The Mighty
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Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Youtube/Boeing


Boeing’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) fires a beam of concentrated light that can disable anything from drones in flight to incoming mortar shells.

Lasers are already in use on military trucks and Navy ships, but Boeing premiered a new version that can fit inside a suitcase earlier last week in New Mexico, Wired reports.

HEL MD works by shooting a 10 kilowatt beam of focused light at light speed towards airborne targets.

The beam will then quickly heat the surface of the target until it bursts into flames. Boeing claims the laser works with “pinpoint precision within seconds of [target] acquisition, then acquires the next target and keeps firing.”

Potentially these lasers could serve to defend against hypersonic missiles, which fly too fast for conventional missile defense.

Wired reports that the laser is accurate within a few inches, and it can disable or destroy the flying foe depending on what the situation calls for. So an incoming mortar can be detonated from a safe distance.

The laser also has the benefit of being totally electronic, so no dangerous projectiles will be fired, and as long as the electricity flows, the machine can fire indefinitely. For that reason, the HEL MD system is a rare instance of a high tech defense product having a low operational cost.

Boeing hopes to have the system available for purchase within a year or two, according to Wired, who also report that Boeing will add sound effects to the silent machine.

More from Business Insider:

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

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How the Marine Corps has created Christmas spirit since 1947

You’ve seen them before at this time of year — United States Marines in their full dress blues standing near bins full of toys with the signature logo of the Toys for Tots program.  And you’ve definitely seen this commercial:


Just two years after the end of World War II, a Marine Corps Reserve officer named Maj. Bill Hendricks wanted to donate a Raggedy Ann doll his wife had made to a charity in the Los Angeles area, but he couldn’t find one that met what he had in mind.

What he did find were thousands of children who needed toys.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
A seven-year-old gives an electronic toy game to a Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. for the Toys for Tots campaign on board Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Matthew Schwarz)

So Hendricks, who was also the Public Relations Director for Warner Brothers Studios, and his wife were joined by his commanding officer and fellow Marines on a mission to collect between 5,000 and 7,000 toys to give to needy kids on Christmas Day. With that the Toys for Tots program was born.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Denis Licona, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Jarod Duke, help open a gift for a boy during a community relations event, at a school for underprivileged children. Marines and Sailors donated gifts to 60 children as part of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Christmas Drive. (Photo by Daniela Muto |Released)

“That first year we delivered the toys ourselves,” Hendricks told said in an interview before his 1992 death. “We were winding up the campaign on Christmas Eve, delivering toys right up to midnight. A master sergeant and I went to a place where three kids were waiting up for us. I can still see their faces. After leaving the toys, one of the children followed us out to the car and said, ‘Thank you very much.’ That ‘thank you’ was worth the effort.”

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

The first run was so successful, the USMC expanded it to a nationwide effort the next year. Every Marine Corps Reserve site worked with the local community to collect and distribute millions of toys.

In the years following, the Marines received star-studded help from the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. The logo was designed by Walt Disney himself.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

Now the effort is augmented by the nonprofit Toys for Tots Foundation, which expanded the number of toys collected to 16 million worth an estimated $243 million every year. The foundation regularly receives four-star ratings from Charity navigator and in 2003 was on Forbes’ Top Ten Children’s Charities.

To request toys or donate to Toys for Tots, visit their website.
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Turkey enters war on ISIS just in time to steal victory from the Kurds

Five years into the Syrian Civil War and two years after the rise of ISIS, Turkish troops finally entered the fight on August 24th, with Operation Euphrates Shield.


Turkish military officials say their artillery and rocket launchers fired 224 rounds at 63 targets in two hours. Turkish Air Force planes also struck targets in the ISIS-held town of Jarablus, which Turkish troops captured later that day.

It was ISIS’ last stronghold along the Turkish border.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
By 18:10 local time FSA troops, backed by the Turkish Armed Forces, controlled 90 percent of Jarablus. (Turkish Military photo via Twitter)

With tanks, warplanes, and special operations forces, Turkey also seeks to stem the territory and influence captured by the Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria. American air strikes are assisting Turkish forces.

The operation aims to clear the Turkish-Syrian border of “terrorist groups” to increase border security. Unfortunately, the Turkish government considers the Kurdish YPG, the most effective force fighting ISIS in Syria, a relative to a terrorist group – the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK. Turkey has been fighting the PKK for 30 years.

The 62-mile border area targeted by the Turks puts the NATO ally and its Syrian rebel forces on a collision course with U.S.- backed Kurdish and Arab fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces. Skirmishes between the two groups have already started south of the town of Manbij, just 21 miles from Jarablus.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
The area held by Turkey (purple) is expected to expand into the areas held by ISIS (black) and Kurdish fighters (yellow). (SyrianCivilWarMap.com)

Turkey gave the Kurdish fighters who captured Manbij from the Islamic State a week to leave the town and retreat East of the Euphrates River. The United States is backing its Turkish ally on the issue, and the Kurds are complying.

More than 300 Kurdish and Arab-allied fighters died taking Manbij from ISIS, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Twitter account for the official spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State said the move was to prepare for the eventual liberation of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital.

Soon after the YPG withdrew past the river, Turkish media reported Turkish artillery firing on YPG forces south of Jarablus.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Turkish Armed Forces shells a group of YPG terrorists in the west of Jarablus. (Turkish military photo via Twitter)

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There was lots of buzz at Sundance for this dramatic slave story

Nate Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation won Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury and Audience prizes for a drama, just days after the production company signed a record $17.5 million distribution deal with Fox Searchlight. The film is about what happens to a former slave after he leads a liberation movement to free other slaves.


Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

The movie is based on actual events, and the uprising did not end well for the slaves or Nat Turner, the man who led it.

Turner was a slave from Southampton County, Virginia. He could read and write, which was unusual for slaves.  He was also deeply religious, devoted to fasting and prayer.

Turner would have visions that guided him through his life. He conducted Baptist church services and was dubbed “The Prophet” by his fellow slaves. While working in his owner’s fields one day, Turner heard “a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first.”

In 1830, a man named Joseph Travis purchased Turner. It was while under Travis’ ownership Turner would make his move. The next year, an atmospheric disturbance made the sun appear bluish-green in Virginia. Turner took this as a sign, and prepared to start his rebellion.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

On August 22, 1831, thirty years before the Civil War, Turner and an inner circle of trusted slaves gathered. They killed the Travis family as they slept, then went house-to-house freeing slaves and killing white people. His number soon grew to over 40 slaves, most on horseback.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

Sixty whites were killed before Turner’s rebellion was put down. Even then, it took twice the number of men in the responding Federal and Virginia militias, along with three artillery companies to defeat the uprising. His rebellion crushed, Turner hid around the Travis farm until his capture on October 30. He was quickly tried, convicted, hanged, and skinned.

Retaliatory attacks from white mobs killed 200 more slave and free black men, women, and children. The state legislature of Virginia considered abolishing slavery, but decided instead to keep it and its repressive policy against all black people in the state, especially enforced illiteracy among slaves.

The Turner Rebellion is one of the defining events in the lead up to the American Civil War, on par with John Brown’s raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

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North Korea claims they have a hydrogen bomb and the world shrugs

Through the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, announced his country is “ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation.” American and South Korean officials are dismissing the claim.


Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Potato Guns

“The information that we have access to calls into serious question those claims, but we take very seriously the risk and the threat that is posed by the North Korean regime in their ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Binoculars

Kim made the announcement while inspecting an historical military site in Pyongyang. The regime first became a confirmed nuclear power in 2006 under Kim’s predecessor and father Kim Jong-Il when North Korea detonated the first of three nuclear bombs.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Flash Mobs

North Korea’s regime detonates nukes at “secret” underground nuclear tests sites. The announcement comes on the heels of the discovery of new nuclear testing tunnels, uncovered by satellite photos, at Punggye-ri in the northeast area of the country.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Phones

This is the first time the Kim regime claimed to have hydrogen bomb technology and the announcement may be a response to the recent U.S. sanctions targeting North Korea’s Strategic Rocket Force and banks involved in North Korean arms proliferation.

North Korea has a history of acting out in response to Western actions it sees as provocative. When the U.S. and South Korea performed its yearly joint Foal Eagle exercise in 2015, the North launched two scud missiles into the sea outside of South Korea. When the South conducted a combined arms exercise near Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands near the maritime border with the North, North Korean artillery batteries shelled the island for an hour.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Confirmed North Korean Technologies: Gloop

The North is not yet able to put a nuclear weapon on one of its rockets, but its nuclear capabilities do threaten U.S. allies in the region.

“We don’t have any information that North Korea has developed an H-bomb,” a South Korean intelligence official told the South’s Yonhap News Agency. “We do not believe that North Korea, which has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear bombs, has the technology to produce an H-bomb.”

North Korea claimed in 2010 that it had successfully developed fusion technology.

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

Pilots from the 317th Airlift Group, stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly a C-130J Super Hercules at Polk Army Airfield, La. The 317th AG delivered U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, to Polk Army Airfield during a Global Force Readiness Exercise. The exercise exhibited the partnership between the Air Force and Army and their ability to execute personnel airdrop from a large formation.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Senior Airman Peter Thompson/USAF

The MC-130P Combat Shadow team performs the final checks before takeoff on Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 17th Special Operations Squadron sent off the final two Combat Shadows in the Pacific Air Forces to retire to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Airman 1st Class Stephen G. Eigel/USAF

NAVY

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 22, 2015) The Navy’s unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Liz Wolter/USN

Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) participate in a swim call. Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), provides a versatile, sea-based expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Megan Anuci/ USN

ARMY

Congratulations to the 2015 Best Sapper Competition winners, 1st Lt. Daniel Foky and Sgt. Brandon Loeder, assigned to 127th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Pictured below,Foky andLoeder in the lead during the poncho-raft swim event, April 21, 2015, on the first day of the competition. The 2015 Best Sapper Competition, held at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. took competitors across 50 miles in 50 hours of back to back events. The 46 teams came from as far as Alaska and Hawaii to compete.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, load munitions onto an AH-64 Apache helicopter during an aerial gunnery exercise April 22, 2015, at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, in Pocheon, Republic of Korea.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Sgt. Jesse Smith/US Army

MARINE CORPS

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California – Reconnaissance Training Company Marines received an aerial view of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California during Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction training at San Mateo Landing Zone. The Marines, students of the Basic Reconnaissance Course, took turns being hoisted into the air by helicopter during the SPIE portion of their Helicopter Rope Suspension Training. During the course of HRST the students learn SPIE rigging, rappelling and fast rope techniques.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Lance Cpl Asia J. Sorenson/USMC

ZAMBALES, Philippines – ZAMBALES, Philippines – Amphibious Assault Vehicles land ashore during a bilateral amphibious landing by the Philippine and U.S. Marine Corps, April 21, on North Beach at the Naval Education Training Center in Zambales, Philippines, as part of exercise Balikatan 2015

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Cpl. Matthew Bragg

COAST GUARD

Petty Officer Jon Emerson helps three survivors out of a helicopter at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak. Earlier today, the men were rescued from a life raft 57 miles off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska, after their fishing vessel sank.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: USCG

Rough week? Here’s a dose of “Aloha” from Base Honolulu to get you through the rest of it!

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: USCG

NOW: Legendary Gen. James Mattis has an inspiring message for all Post-9/11 veterans

OR: Watch JR Martinez and Noah Galloway talk ‘Dancing with the Stars’:

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This “Gyrojet” rocket ammo made bullets faster but less accurate

As the war in Vietnam heated up during the mid-1960s, firearm manufacturers tried to sell the Army new rocket ammunition that could be fired from pistols and carbines, reducing the weight that soldiers carried while nearly doubling the velocity of their rounds.


Weapons manufacturing company MB Associates developed the first “gyrojet” weapons and led the charge in selling them to the U.S. military. The weapons featured rocket-powered rounds filled with a propellant that burned over time instead of exploding when the trigger was pulled.

The company’s pitch to the military revolved around a few traits that would be valuable in combat.

The weapons had minimal recoil due to the lack of an initial explosion. This slow burn also created less noise, allowing gyrojet firers to avoid the headaches and keep their position relatively secret.

Gyrojets also allowed for a higher firing rate before barrels overheated and provided greater bullet velocity and penetration power at range. All things infantryman love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl6zcB83xng
Video: YouTube/Midway512

But the gyrojet did not become something infantrymen love for a few reasons. Most importantly, they never reached the promised levels of accuracy. Gyrojet rounds were stabilized with vents on the rounds that caused them to spin for stability, but even tiny calibration errors between the jets could send the round spinning off.

Second, one of the primary weapons that MBA was trying to sell was a gyrojet pistol, but gyrojets weren’t lethal at handgun ranges. Since the rounds burn their propellant over time, it takes time and distance for them to reach a speed that would pierce skin or armor on impact. That meant that, during engagements at 10-20 feet, gyrojet firers would likely have watched their rounds bounce off their target.

These dual problems meant that soldiers wouldn’t have been able to engage targets at close range because the round wasn’t flying fast enough or at long range because the round wasn’t accurate enough.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: keysersoze/GPL

A member of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA’s predecessor, once critiqued another round submitted to the agency by comparing it unfavorably to the Gyrojet:

… Gyrojet all over again. If the target is close enough to hit, you can’t kill it. If you can kill it, you can’t hit it.

Still, the gyrojets generated a lot of buzz early on. A Popular Mechanics article from 1962 described the “bizarre bazooka” firing miniature rockets at the enemy. The PM article was optimistic about what it called “microjets,” citing the portability gains:

Microjet definitely will be a guerilla weapon. One fighter can discard his rifle and move lightly with just the small plastic straw and a pocketful of rocket-darts. Also, a number of launching straws can be grouped together to fire a devastating barrage, still controlled by just one man.

Yeah, shooters would need a bunch of “launching straws” to ensure that even one round hit a point target.

Ultimately, the government decided that the portability and lethality at range offered by the gyrojet weapons did not overcome the weapon’s drawbacks, and so they passed on the project. Instead, the weapons entered service with a few Bond villains in the movie “You Only Live Twice.”

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Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

While the Pentagon has been very adamant with claims that none of the 4,000+ American troops in Iraq are involved in “combat,” American jets have been flying attack sorties against Islamic State (IS) militants. But what exactly goes into getting bombs on the bad guys? Here’s what a day in the life of an aircraft carrier-based crew is like:


The mission cycle begins with CENTCOM’s Joint Task Force sending the tasking order to the intelligence center on the aircraft carrier. From there, the air wing operations cell assigns sorties to the appropriate squadrons, and those squadrons in turn assign aircrews to fly the sorties. At that point aircrews get to work with intel officers and start planning every detail of the sortie.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Mission planning in CVIC aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once the long hours of mission planning are done, crews attempt a few hours of sleep. (The regs call for 8 hours of sleep before a hop, but that seldom happens.)

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: Flikr)

After quick showers and putting on “zoom bags” (flight suits), aviators hit the chow line before the mission brief.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: Walter Koening)

All the crews involved with the mission gather for the “mass gaggle” brief, usually two and a half hours before launch time. After that elements break off for more detailed mission discussions.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Meanwhile, on the flight deck maintainers fix gripes and make sure jets are FMC — “fully mission capable.”

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

At the same time ordnance crews strap bombs onto jets according to the load plan published by Strike Operations.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Ordies (in red jerseys) load 500-pounders onto Super Hornets aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Forty-five minutes before launch, crews head to the paraloft and put on their flight gear — G-suits, survival vests, and helmets. They also strap on a 9mm pistol in case they go down in enemy territory.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Aviators walk to the flight deck and conduct a thorough preflight of their jets, including verifying that their loadouts are correct.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Super Hornet pilot checks a GBU-12 – a laser-guided 500-pounder. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once satisfied that the jet is ready, crews climb in and wait for the Air Boss in the tower to give them the signal to start ’em up.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Super Hornet weapons system operator climbs into the rear cockpit of an F/A-18F Super Hornet. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While lining up with the catapult for launch, pilots verify that the weight board is accurate.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Green shirt holds up weight board showing a Super Hornet pilot that the catapult will be set for a 43,000 pound launch. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

With the throttles pushed to full power and the controls cycled to make sure they’re moving properly, the pilot salutes the cat officer. The cat officer touches the deck, signaling the operator in the catwalk to fire the catapult.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

Zero to 160 MPH in 2.2 seconds. Airborne! (Airplanes launching on Cats 1 and 2 turn right; those on Cats 3 and 4 turn left.)

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Overhead the carrier, Super Hornets top off their gas from another Super Hornet configured as a tanker.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
F/A-18F passes gas to an F/A-18E. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Wingmen join flight leads and the strike elements ingress “feet dry” over hostile territory.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The flight hits the tanker again, this time an Air Force KC-135.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Super Hornet tanking from KC-135 (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

At that point the mission lead checks in with “Big Eye” — the AWACS — to get an updated threat status and any other late-breaking info that might be relevant.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

E/F-18 Growlers — electronic warfare versions of the Super Hornet — are part of the strike package in the event of any pop-up surface-to-air missile threats.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Growler firing flares. (Photo: Boeing)

The AWACS hands the flight off to the forward air controller in company with Iraqi forces. The FAC gives the aviators a “nine-line brief” that lays out the details of the target and any threats surrounding it and the proximity of friendlies.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
USMC Forward Air Control team in Iraq. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The enemy has no idea what’s about to happen . . .

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

Op away!

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
F/A-18C releasing a laser-guided bomb. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Target in the cross-hairs of the Super Hornet’s forward looking infrared pod.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(FLIR screen capture: U.S. Navy)

*Boom!*

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(FLIR screen capture: U.S. Navy)

 

Ground view . . .

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Mission complete, the jets head back “feet wet,” stopping at the tanker once again along the way.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Two Super Hornets tanking from a KC-10. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Jets hold over the carrier until it’s time to come into the break and enter the landing pattern. The aircraft from the event attempt to hit the arresting wires every 45 seconds or so.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
F/A-18F about to touch down. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once the planes are shut down on the flight deck, aircrews head straight to CVIC with their FLIR tapes for battle damage assessment or “BDA.”

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

At that point everybody waits for the word to start the process all over again . . .

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Corps to update social media rules in wake of scandal

The Marines’ top officer has sent a “White Letter” to all senior leaders in the service ordering them to support self-identified victims of Facebook harassment and illicit photo sharing, and to educate troops on what is expected of them in their conduct online. Sent out March 10, nearly a week after news broke that Marines had been sharing nude and compromising photos of female colleagues on a 30,000-member Facebook page called Marines United, the message also promises new guidance to Marines concerning the boundaries of appropriate online behavior.


The two-page letter, sent by Commandant Gen. Robert Neller to all commanding generals, unit commanding officers, and senior enlisted leaders across the Corps and obtained by Military.com, does not mince words.

Related: Mattis speaks out on Marine Corps’ nude photo scandal

“In the past week, our core values have come under attack,” Neller wrote. “… This inappropriate, disrespectful, and in some cases criminal behavior has a corrosive and negative effect on our Marines and on the Marine Corps.”

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Marines with the Lioness Program refill their rifle magazines during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. | Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Jones

To prevent future social media fallout, Neller said Marines must be educated, not only on the service’s expectations for their online behavior, but also on the dangers and vulnerabilities inherent in online activity. The Marine Corps will soon publish an update to its 2010 guidance governing Marines’ social media activity to further this goal, Neller said.

The current guidance dictates the Marines should use their “best judgment at all times and avoid inappropriate behavior” when using social media, adding that defamatory, libelous, abusive, threatening or hateful posts may result in disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While the White Letter does not make clear how the guidance will be updated and to what extent, the new guidance will likely provide additional specifics on what behavior is out-of-bounds and how violations will be addressed.

“Leaders should remind our Marines they are not anonymous in the virtual world and remain accountable for their actions,” Neller wrote. “Where we find criminal behavior, we will take appropriate action.”

Related: Commandant on nude photo scandal: ‘Do you really want to be a Marine?’

For Marine victims of photo sharing and other online harassment, who, Neller noted, are primarily female, he gives an order to Marine leaders: support them at every level. Commanders and senior enlisted leaders are tasked with communicating with the Marines under them and encouraging victims of online attacks to come forward. Witnesses to online misconduct should report it as well, the letter states.

“When Marines do report, they must have the full support of their leadership, from NCOs up to the commanding officers and commanding general,” Neller wrote. “They must have a viable means to report and have immediate resources available to support them.”

These resources, the letter states, includes chaplains, attorneys through the victim legal counsel program, uniformed victim advocates, equal opportunity advisers and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response resources and personnel.

“Technical assistance is also available to help remedy or mitigate the harm they have suffered,” Neller notes.

While the letter doesn’t clarify what this technical assistance includes, sources told Military.com last week that Marine officials are considering a move to offer reputation management software to self-identified victims, to allow them to cleanse damaging or sensitive information from their online profiles.

Neller ended his message to commanders with a note of optimism.

“The recent attacks on social media can be overcome if we address the behaviors and attitudes that caused these unacceptable actions in the first place,” he wrote. “We are better than this.”

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The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

Defense officials at the Pentagon say they need up to $500 million more to finish the development phase for the F-35, the troubled fifth-generation fighter that’s already gone 50% over its original budget.


The F-35 program office requested the money last month to the Defense Acquisition Board, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news Wednesday. The call for additional funds is pretty familiar at this point, since the program — known as the Joint Strike Fighter since it will be used by the Navy, Marines, and Air Force — has been plagued by lengthy delays and enormous cost overruns.

Also read: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

Its overall lifetime budget has ballooned to more than $1.5 trillion, making it the most expensive weapons system ever built by the US.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has in the past called those cost overruns a “disgrace.”

“It has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule, and performance,” he said in April.

Rising costs haven’t been the only problem of note for the F-35. The jet has had plenty of incidents while being built, such as electrical problems, major issues with its software, and problems related to its advanced helmet system.

Just four months ago, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester wrote in a memo the F-35 program was “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver.”

Still, the Air Force and Marines have both declared the fighter “combat ready” and have begun integrating it into their squadrons. The military has only taken delivery of about 180 of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin so far, though it plans to buy more than 2,400.

The fighter, which features stealth and advanced electronic attack and communications systems, is a project with roots going back to the late 1990s. Lockheed won the contract for the fighter in 2001.

“Strong national security is an expensive endeavor but the existing concerns with the F-35 make calls for even more money harder to green light,” said Joe Kaspar, chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“And the Pentagon never seems to be able to help its case on the F-35. Technical superiority is not cheap, but whether or not costs can be driven down is something Congress must look at it before throwing more money in the Pentagon’s direction.”

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13 lessons you learn while traveling in the US military

Military travel: it’s like civilian travel with more red tape. Here are 13 things every constant military traveler knows.


1. The Defense Travel System is arguably the most frustrating thing ever made.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

2. The overly moto guys will wear civilian clothes but completely fail to hide that they’re in the military.

3. Your military ID and TSA Precheck can make security a breeze.

4. Getting your gear through security can be more challenging, so you learn to make friends with security.

5. Government rate hotels are not always the nicest.

6. Someone will get lost but swear he isn’t. This is especially annoying when he outranks you.

7. Someone in your group can’t handle foreign food.

8. Take a minute to get to know the staff duty driver every night, just in case.

9. You will run into someone from an old unit. You probably will not be excited about it.

10. The DoD is paying for the rental car and mileage, so find somewhere to go every day off.

11. No matter how many phone numbers, email addresses, and instant messaging usernames you exchange, someone will be impossible to keep track of for accountability. It’s probably a senior officer.

12. Every base exchange is filled with tackier, more expensive versions of local stuff you can buy off post.

13. Despite all the frustrations, you will want to leave again 15 minutes after you return to your home base.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

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Russia appears to now be aiding the Taliban

Back in the 1980s, the US supported Afghan “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Union. Those fighters later morphed into the Taliban. And now, the Russians seem to be returning the favor.


Moscow said last month it was in contact with the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, with the stated reason being that Russia was sharing information and cooperating on strategy to fight the local ISIS affiliate there, according to The Wall Street Journal. So far, cooperation apparently doesn’t involve cash or guns.

But it understandably has US commanders there spooked.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top American military commander in Afghanistan, has spoken out against Russia’s extension of an olive branch to the Taliban as offering “overt” legitimacy to a group intent on toppling the Afghan government.

Als read: Vietnam-era S-60 gun turns Russian T-15 Armata into a Bradley killer

Russia’s “narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the Afghan government,” Nicholson said at a Pentagon briefing last month. “So this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO efforts and bolster the belligerents.”

Surprisingly, even Taliban officials say the excuse of offering help to fight ISIS doesn’t add up. Two officials disputed that characterization, including the group’s spokesman, who toldReuters that “ISIS is not an issue.” In fact, both groups forged a shaky truce in August 2016 to turn their guns away from each other, and instead target US-backed Afghan forces.

“In early 2008, when Russia began supporting us, ISIS didn’t exist anywhere in the world,” one senior Taliban official told Reuters. “Their sole purpose was to strengthen us against the US and its allies.”

As the Journal reported, it’s still unclear how a Trump administration will handle Afghanistan. The situation there has steadily declined since the Obama administration ended its “combat mission” in the country in 2014, and government forces only control about  two-thirds of the country now, according to Reuters.

Besides potential Russian meddling, Afghanistan is rife with political corruption and tribalism, while many civilians report to a “shadow” government run by the Taliban instead of the national one.

The Pentagon announced it was sending roughly 300 Marines back to the southern Helmand province this spring, where Marines haven’t been on patrol since leaving in 2014.

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One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
An F-35B using its central lifting fan. Photo: Lockheed Martin


The US Air Force’s push to develop operational flying saucers 60 years ago laid the conceptual groundwork for one of the variants of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, MIT Technology Review reports.

The F-35 comes in three variants, with key mechanical differences for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy – the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C respectively.

Of the three models, the F-35B is the most technologically different.

Unlike the F-35A and F-35C, the Marines needed their variant to be capable of conducting short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.

This request necessitated that the F-35B be given a lifting fan. And, as Desire Francine G. Fedrigo, Ricardo Gobato, Alekssander Gobato note in a paper at the Cornell University Library, the F-35B’s lifting fan has its conceptual roots in flying saucers.

Between 1954 and 1961, the US Air Force spent $10 million attempting to develop a flying saucer that became known as an Avrocar. The Avrocar was a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) saucer that was powered by one giant central fan.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite its seven years of development, the Air Force failed to make the Avrocar into a mission capable vehicle that could potentially replace helicopters.

MIT Technology Review notes that the aircraft was “hot and almost unbearably uncomfortable for the pilot. And it demonstrated various idiosyncrasies such as taking five seconds to turn 90 degrees to the left but 11 seconds to turn the same amount to the right, presumably because of its central rotating fan.”

However, despite the Avrocars’ failings, the technology did point researchers towards the feasibility of developing and embedding a central lift fan turbine within an aircraft for variations of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.

Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones
Photo: US Air Force

“The concept of a lift fan, driven by a turbojet engine is not dead, and lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender,” Fedrigo notes, adding that the conceptual framework of the Avrocar helped General Electric’s own development of a booster fan propulsion system.

Whereas the Avrocar’s development ultimately failed, though, GE’s “Vertifan” went on to prove the concept of successful lifting fan technology. This in turn lead to a DARPA sponsored development challenge that gave birth to lifting fans being used in the F-35B.

The F-35B was declared ready for combat by the Marine Corps on July 31.

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