The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan - We Are The Mighty
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The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

It had to have been a simultaneously proud and awkward moment in his career: The day U.S. Navy Commander James Kirk got promoted to captain.


Of course any Trekkie would know the reason, as the real-life captain shares the name of the fictionalized character played by William Shatner on “Star Trek.” But the real Kirk is a serious officer, taking the helm of the futuristic USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), a ship christened earlier this year.

While he’s obviously of no relation to the Capt. Kirk played by William Shatner in “Star Trek,” many have had fun with that coincidence. That included Shatner himself, as a photo tweeted by Barbara Zumwalt showed the framed photo and letter he sent to the sailors who will soon be onboard, which is currently on display at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

“Unfortunately I can’t be with you when your vessel is commissioned and obviously your captain, Captain Kirk, is dear to my heart,” Shatner wrote. “So forgive me for not attending, my schedule won’t allow me, but know that you are in our thoughts — Mr. Mrs. Shatner — and that we bless you and hope that you have a safe journey wherever your ship takes you.”

Here it is:

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo courtesy of Barbara Zumwalt

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This is how Osama bin Laden trained Somalis in the “Black Hawk Down” incident

In 1997, CNN’s Peter Arnett, Peter Bergen, and news photographer Peter Jouvenal interviewed Osama bin Laden at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. They spent little more than an hour with the man who would become the world’s most wanted terrorist (and eventual casualty of a SEAL Team 6 raid).


At that time, however, bin Laden was just known as a “major financier of terrorism,” although he had already masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, a bombing in Riyadh in 1995, and one in Dhahran in 1996. He ran terrorist training camps in Sudan as well as Afghanistan and essentially declared war on the United States. Few in the West took notice of the interview or bin Laden’s declaration.

Bin Laden held the U.S., through its support for Israel and the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, responsible for the deaths of Palestinians, Iraqis, and Lebanese Palestinians. He also called the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia an “occupation.” He declared the jihad against U.S. troops and would not guarantee the safety of American civilians. These are all things he always admitted and openly discussed.

What was different about the Bergen interview was that bin Laden discussed how his network trained Somalis to fight Americans when the U.S. intervened in the Somali Civil War. In Bergen’s book Holy War, Inc., he recalls what bin Laden said about the “Black Hawk Down” incident:

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

“‘Resistance started against the American invasion because Muslims did not believe the U.S. allegations that they came to save the Somalis. With Allah’s grace, Muslims in Somalia cooperated with some Arab holy warriors who were in Afghanistan. Together they killed large numbers of American occupation troops.’ He exulted in the fact that the United States withdrew from the country, pointing to the withdrawal as an example of the weakness, frailty and cowardice of the U.S. troops.”

In 1993, an al-Qaeda commander named Abu Hafs went to Somalis to scout how U.S. troops were most vulnerable. Bin Laden was openly living in nearby Sudan at that time. During the Battle of Mogadishu (the one depicted in the 2001 film “Black Hawk Down”) on October 3 and 4, three U.S. Black Hawk helicopters were taken down by RPG fire. U.S. officials told Bergen that the accurate use of RPGs by Somali forces was not a skill they would have learned on their own. Journalist Mark Bowden confirms this in his book Black Hawk Down.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

The most powerful weapons warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid had after the U.S. decimated his tanks and larger guns were RPGs. Arab Mujahideen veterans of the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan trained Somalis to shoot down helicopters. The Arabs taught Aidid’s forces to target tail rotors. The Mujahideen addressed the inaccuracy of RPGs by replacing the detonators with timing devices so they would explode in mid-air and thus wouldn’t have to hit the rotor directly.

The Arabs also taught the Somalis to wait until the helo passed over in order to hit the aircraft from behind. Somalis would hide the tube of the RPG inside trees, in holes in the streets, anything except aiming from rooftops. Helos could spot the RPGs well before they could be aimed and fired.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

Bergen notes bin Laden’s multiple assertions of having a “military commander” in Somalia.  That commander, Haroun Fazil, was in Mogadishu during the “Black Hawk Down” incident. He also notes that members of bin Laden’s network trained members of forces that were rivals of Aidid’s, in favor of anyone fighting the Americans.

The leader of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab recently confirmed that three al-Qaeda operatives were aiding the Somalis at this time: Yusuf al Ayiri, Saif al Adel, and Abu al Hasan al Sa’idi. Al Ayiri was killed by Saudi security forces in 2003, and Al Sa’idid died in a suicide attack against Americans in Afghanistan. Saif al Adel is still alive, believed to be hiding in Pakistan. He masterminded the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat in Egypt, fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, and temporarily took bin Laden’s place after he was killed.

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4 reasons the Navy needs more ships

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the Navy has stated in its latest Force Structure Assessment that it needs a larger force – setting an ideal goal of 355 ships, an increase from the 308 requested in the 2014 update. Currently, the Navy has 273 ships that are deployable.


The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Two carriers in the South China Sea. | US Navy photo

Why does the Navy need all those ships? Here’s a list:

China is modernizing and getting aggressive

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
China’s Houbei-class (Type 022) fast-attack craft. | Congressional Research Service

The theft of a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle is just the latest in a series of incidents where China has been crossing the line. There have been buzzing incidents in the South China Sea that have gotten very close to Navy electronic surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft. They also have built unsinkable aircraft carriers on some islands in the maritime hot spot. USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out a stealth freedom of navigation exercise earlier this year without incident, but with the buzzing incidents, the next one could get rough.

With the South China Sea becoming a potential free-for-all, the Navy may want more ships.

Russia is modernizing and getting aggressive

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Concept photo of Russian Projekt 20386 littoral combat ship. (Photo from Thai Military and Region blog)

Maybe it’s the way they snatched Crimea, or their actions in Syria and the Ukraine, but it is obvious that Russia is also acting up in a manner that doesn’t bode well for American allies in Europe.

Aside from the Kuznetsov follies — notably the splash landings — the Russians are modernizing their fleet. They seem to have come up with a littoral combat ship design that outguns the Navy’s.

Iran may need a smackdown

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

Iran has threatened Navy aircraft, harassed U.S. Navy vessels, and is developing a knockoff of the S-300. It is also a major sponsor of terrorism, is still pursuing nuclear weapons, and is buying weapons from Russia.

While ISIS is one threat, Iran is lurking as well.

The Littoral Combat Ship needs work

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan

Let’s face it, if we were looking for a new Coast Guard cutter, the littoral combat ship would have been fine. But the Navy needs smaller combatants because there will be a need to handle some of the dirty jobs, like mine warfare.

But with engine problems, the littoral combat ship is having trouble getting its sea legs, if you will. The Navy may well need to look at buying some other ships to buy time to figure out how to fix the technical problems, maybe accessorize it a little, and to figure out what to do with these ships.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Back to standard two-day weekends. Oh well. At least Independence Day weekend was fun while it lasted.


1. Really, really fun (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Hopefully, this guy wasn’t in your unit.

2. If you want logistics join the Army (via Terminal Lance)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
If you want robots, join DARPA.

SEE ALSO: 5 insane military projects that almost happened

3. Your medicine will be ready when it’s ready … (via Sh*t My LPO Says)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
… which will be sometime next Thursday.

4. Congratulations on your contract (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
It’s a bummer when your family celebrates that they’ll only see you half the time for the next few years.

5. Budget cuts are taking a toll (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
But at least everyone’s spirits are up.

6. Profiles, chits, doctors’ notes, it’s all shamming.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Not sure which service lets you spend your light duty drinking beer in a recliner though. Pretty good reenlistment incentive.

7. You know that even Unsolved Mysteries couldn’t answer that question, right? (via Team Non-Rec)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Warrant Officer’s are like reflective belts. The brass insist they work and everyone else just goes along with it.

8. I want to see these three guys shark attack some young private (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
It’s always great when lieutenants explain the military to senior enlisted.

9. It gets real out there (via Team Non-Rec)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
I mean, they don’t even have napkins for their pizza.

10. Patriotic duty

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Say your pledges, protect America, see peace in our time.

11. They specialize in anti-oxidation operations and haze grey proliferation.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
That’s a fancy way of saying they scrape rust and spread paint.

12. Never forget (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Clearly, this man behind the stick of an F/A-18 is a good idea.

13. You want their attention? Better have some Oakleys and cigarettes that “fell off a truck.”

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
This is also what the E4 promotion board looks like.

NOW: The 6 most shocking military impostors ever

WATCH: Vet On The Street

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U.S. detects, tracks multiple North Korea missile launches

Defense Department officials detected and tracked multiple missile launches out of North Korea Monday, four of which landed in the Sea of Japan, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters this morning.


Davis said the four medium-range ballistic missiles were launched from the northwest corner of North Korea, traveled over the Korean Peninsula and out into the sea, totaling about 1,000 kilometers in distance, or more than 620 miles.

Related: 4 things you need to know about North Korea’s missile program

Missiles Land Off Japan’s Coast

The missiles landed in the vicinity of Akita Prefecture off the coast of Japan near that nation’s exclusive economic zone, he said. The EEZ is defined as a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Explosive ordnance disposal technicians prepare for an EOD mine-countermeasure exercise with members of a South Korean navy underwater dive team off the coast of Jinhae, South Korea. | Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield

“The North American Aerospace Defense Command detected that the missiles from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” Davis said. “This [North Korean missile launch] is very similar in terms of the path and the distance of the three missiles that flew into Japan’s EEZ in September 2016.”

He added, “These launches, which coincide with the start of our annual defensive exercise, Foal Eagle, with the Republic of Korea’s military, are consistent with North Korea’s long history of provocative behavior, often timed to military exercises that we do with our ally,”

Also read: Navy fleet commanders warn of potential fight in North Korea

The United States stands with its allies “in the face of this very serious threat and are taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as the deployment of a [Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense] battery to South Korea, which will happen as soon as feasible,” Davis said.

U.S. Strikes AQAP in Yemen

Also overnight, the United States made an airstrike on Yemen’s Abyan Governorate against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, bringing to 40 the strikes there in the past five nights, Davis said.

Since the first airstrike against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen on Feb. 28, “We will continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] militants and facilities to disrupt the organization’s plot and protect American lives,” the captain said.

The strikes have been coordinated with and done in full partnership with the government of Yemen with the goal of denying al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists’ freedom of movement within traditional safe havens, Davis emphasized.

The captain also confirmed the deaths of three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in March 2 and 3 airstrikes in Yemen.

Usayd al Adani, whom Davis described as a longtime al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organization’s emir, was killed in a U.S. airstrike March 2 within the Abyan Governorate. Killed with him was former Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee Yasir al Silmi.

Killed March 3 was al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighter and communications intermediary for Adani, Harithah al Waqri, Davis said.

“[Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies,” he said. “And we will continue to work with the government of Yemen to defeat [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula].

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America’s UN rep won’t rule out striking N Korea over new missile test

The United States could strike North Korea if it attacks a U.S. military base or tests an intercontinental ballistic missile, President Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador said Monday.


In several television interviews, Nikki Haley praised China’s involvement in trying to pressure North Korea to cease missile testing and criticized Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un, as unstable and paranoid.

Asked about the threshold for U.S. action, Haley told NBC’s “Today Show” that “if you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that.”

Haley said the U.S. wasn’t looking for a fight and wouldn’t attack North Korea “unless he gives us reason to do something.”

The Trump administration has been working to rally support behind its efforts to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear program and ending missile tests. Trump spoke again to the leaders of China and Japan late Sunday to discuss the matter.

The White House said in a brief statement Monday that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the “urgency of the threat posed by North Korea.” Trump has repeatedly promised that China will earn a better trade deal with the U.S. if it helps to exert pressure on its allied neighboring nation.

When asked what would happen if North Korea tests an intercontinental missile or nuclear device, Haley told NBC: “I think then the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen.”

North Korea has been aggressively pursuing a decades-long goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, which would have improved its knowledge on making nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.

South Korean officials say there’s a chance the country will conduct its sixth nuclear test or its maiden test launch of an ICBM around the founding anniversary of its military on Tuesday.

Haley said the U.S. is working with China to pressure North Korea on the missile and nuclear testing and other issues, including the detention over the weekend of a U.S. citizen, bringing to three the number of Americans now being held there.

Haley said the detentions are North Korea’s effort to “have a bargaining chip” for talks with the U.S.

“What we’re dealing with is a leader who is flailing right now and he’s trying to show his citizens he has muscle,” Haley told “CBS This Morning.”

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18 more photos from the hellish campaign that was Iwo Jima

Seventy-two years ago Marines raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most famous photos of World War II, but the battle actually raged from Feb. 19 to Mar. 26. Here are 18 other photos from the battle where almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and soldiers lost their lives:


1. The Marines landed on Iwo Jima in waves on tracked boats.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

2. The water was thick with the Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen of the landing force.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: National Archives and Records

3. At the beaches, the Marines poured onto the black, volcanic sand under Japanese fire.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

4. Japanese artillery and mortars took out a lot of the heavy equipment as it got bogged down in the sand.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Robert M. Warren

5. The Navy used its big guns to destroy the lethal Japanese artillery where possible and to break open bunkers firing on U.S. troops.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Navy

6. This duel between the heavy guns played out on the island as constant explosions.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

7. The Marines would advance when the fire was relatively light, trying to take Japanese positions before another artillery barrage.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

8. When the fire was particularly heavy, they’d burrow into the sand for cover.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: National Park Service

9. Additional forces surged onto the beach as the first waves made their way inland. The reinforcements were made necessary by the stunning Marine losses. One 900-man regiment lost 750 Marines in just 5 hours.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

10. Throughout the fighting up the beaches, Mount Suribachi dominated the landscape. The Marines knew it would be a tough fortress to capture.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

11. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen continued to land materials at the secure beachheads, giving the Marines more ammunition and other supplies.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Coast Guard Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Queenan

12. Moving up the mountain, the Marines had to use heavy firepower to stop Japanese counterattacks.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

13. The Marines busted bunker after bunker and cleared trench after trench, but the march up Mount Suribachi was dangerous and long.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Government

14. Flamethrower tanks helped clear out the defending Japanese.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps Mark Kaufman

15. The Marines moved into the Japanese trenches that they had just knocked the enemy out of.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps

16. The Japanese bunkers had protected both the Japanese infantry and the big guns that were firing on the Marines.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: National Park Service

17. When the Marines first took the summit, they flew an American flag they had carried up. When it was spotted by Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, Forrestal asked to keep it.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery

18. However, the Marines were set on keeping the symbol of their brothers’ sacrifice. Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson ordered a group of Marines to raise a second, larger flag and recover the original for the Corps.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Navy

The photo by Joe Rosenthal of the second flag raising became an icon of the Pacific campaign. The Marine Corps selected the image for the Marine Corps War Memorial.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain

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There’s a fight brewing over how secret America’s next stealth bomber program should be

Secrecy and classification parameters of Air Forces’ new “in-early-development” next-generation B-21 Raider stealth bomber will be analyzed by the Pentagon’s Inspector General to investigate just how many details, strategies, and technological advances related to the emerging platform should be highly classified.


While Air Force developers say the long-range bomber is being engineered to have the endurance and next-generation stealth capability to elude the most advanced existing air defenses and attack anywhere in the world, if needed. Very little about the bomber has been released by the Air Force or discussed in the open public. Perhaps that is the most intelligent and “threat-conscious” approach, some claim. Nonetheless, Congress directed the Inspector General to conduct an inquiry into this issue, asking if there is sufficient transparency and communication about the new weapon.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, told reporters May 15 that the service hopes to “balance program classification with the transparency we are shooting for to make sure we are not releasing too much or hindering too much information flow. They are analyzing what should be released.”

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez

The Air Force of course wants to maintain the openness needed to allow for Congressional oversight while ensuring potential adversaries do not learn information about advances in stealth technology and next-generation methods of eluding advanced air defenses. Such is often a challenging, yet necessary balance. Pentagon developers have often said there can be a fine line between there being value in releasing some information because it can function as a deterrent against potential adversaries who might not wish to confront advanced US military technologies in war. At the same time, US commanders and Pentagon leaders, of course, seek to maintain the requisite measure of surprise in war, meaning it is also of great value for the US military to possess technological advantages not known by an enemy.

Furthermore, funding, technology development, and procurement questions related to the new bomber are also subject to extensive Congressional review; the question is whether this should be limited to only certain select “cleared” committees – or be open to a wider audience.

While the Air Force has revealed its first sketch or artist rendering of what the B-21 might look like, there has been little to no public discussion about what some of its new technologies may include. Analysts, observers and many military experts have been left only to speculate about potential advances in stealth technology.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Rendering of the B-21 next-generation bomber, courtesy of USAF

Bunch did, however, in a prior interview with Scout Warrior, clearly state that the new bomber will be able to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the world, at any time.

Bunch, and former Air Force Secretary Deborah James, have at times made reference, in merely a general way, to plans to engineer a bomber able elude detection from even the best, most cutting-edge enemy air defenses.

“Our 5th generation global precision attack platform will give our country a networked sensor shooter capability enabling us to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world in a way that our adversaries have never seen,” James said when revealing the image last year.

However, while Air Force developers say the emerging B-21 will introduce new stealth technologies better suited to elude cutting-edge air defenses, Russian media reports have recently claimed that stealth technology is useless against their air defenses. Russian built S-300 and S-400 air defenses are believed to be among the best in the world; in addition, The National Interest has reported that Russia is now working on an S-500 system able to destroy even stealthy targets at distances up to 125 miles.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Russian air defense SA-400. Photo by Vitality Kuzmin

Nevertheless, James and other service developers have added that the new bomber will be able to “play against the real threats.”

Although official details about the B-21 are, quite naturally, not available – some observers have pointed out that the early graphic rendering of the plane does not show exhaust pipes at all; this could mean that the Air Force has found advanced “IR suppressors” or new methods or releasing fumes or reducing the heat signature of the new stealth plane.

The Air Force has awarded a production contract to Northrop Grumman to engineer its new bomber. The next-generation stealth aircraft is intended to introduce new stealth technology and fly alongside – and ultimately replace – the service’s existing B-2 bomber. Beyond these kinds of general points, however, much like the Air Force, Northrop developers have said virtually nothing about the new platforms development.

“With LRS-B (B-21), I can take off from the continental United States and fly for a very long way. I don’t have to worry about getting permission to land at another base and worry about having somebody try to target the aircraft. It will provide a long-reach capability,” Lt. Gen. Bunch, Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo from USAF

Prior to awarding the contract to Northrop, the Air Force worked closely with a number of defense companies as part of a classified research and technology phase. So far, the service has made a $1 billion technology investment in the bomber.

“We’ve set the requirements, and we’ve locked them down. We set those requirements (for the LRS-B) so that we could meet them to execute the mission with mature technologies,” Bunch said.

The service plans to field the new bomber by the mid-2020s. The Air Force plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane in 2010 dollars, Air Force leaders have said.

For instance, lower-frequency surveillance radar allows enemy air defenses to know that an aircraft is in the vicinity, and higher-frequency engagement radar allows integrated air defenses to target a fast-moving aircraft. The concept with the new bomber is to engineer a next-generation stealth configuration able to evade both surveillance and engagement radar technologies.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

The idea is to design a bomber able to fly, operate, and strike anywhere in the world without an enemy even knowing an aircraft is there.  This was the intention of the original B-2 bomber, which functioned in that capacity for many years, until technological advances in air defense made it harder for it to avoid detection completely.

The new aircraft is being engineered to evade increasingly sophisticated air defenses, which now use faster processors, digital networking and sensors to track even stealthy aircraft on a wider range of frequencies at longer ranges. These frequencies include UHF, VHF and X-band, among others.

Stealth Technology

Stealth technology works by engineering an aircraft with external contours and heat signatures designed to elude detection from enemy radar systems. The absence of defined edges,  noticeable heat emissions, weapons hanging on pylons, or other easily detectable aircraft features, radar “pings” have trouble receiving a return electromagnetic signal allowing them to identify an approaching bomber. Since the speed of light (electricity) is known, and the time of travel of electromagnetic signals can be determined as well, computer algorithms are then able to determine the precise distance of an enemy object. However, when it comes to stealth aircraft, the return signal may be either non-existence or of an entirely different character than that of an actual aircraft.

At the same time, advances in air defense technologies are also leading developers to look at stealth configurations as merely one arrow in the quiver of techniques which can be employed to elude enemy defenses, particularly in the case of future fighter aircraft.  New stealthy aircraft will also likely use speed, long-range sensors, and maneuverability as additional tactics intended to evade enemy air defenses – in addition to stealth because stealth configurations alone will increasingly be more challenged as technology continues to advance.

However, stealth technology is itself advancing – and it is being applied to the B-21, according to senior Air Force leaders who naturally did not wish to elaborate on the subject.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
Photo from USAF

“As the threat evolves we will be able to evolve the airplane and we will still be able to hold any target at risk” Bunch said.

Although the new image of the B-21 does look somewhat like the existing B-2, Air Force officials maintain the new bomber’s stealth technology will far exceed the capabilities of the B-2.

At the same time, the B-2 is being upgraded with a new technology called Defensive Management System, a system which better enables the B-2 to know the location of enemy air defenses.

The B-21 will be built upon what the Air Force calls an “open systems architecture,” an engineering technique which designs the platform in a way that allows it to quickly integrate new technologies as they emerge.

“We’re building this with an open mission systems architecture. As technology advances and the threat changes, we can build upon the structure.  I can take one component out and put another component in that addresses the threat.  I have the ability to grow the platform,” Bunch explained.

The US Navy Has A Real-Life Capt. Kirk — And William Shatner Is A Fan
A B-1 bomber launching a Long Range Stand Off weapon. Photo from US Navy.

Air Force leaders have said the aircraft will likely be engineered to fly unmanned missions as well as manned missions.

The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The B-21 is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as nuclear bombs and emerging and future weapons, Air Force officials explained. If its arsenal is anything like the B-2, it will like have an ability to drop a range of nuclear weapons, GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions and possibly even the new Air Force nuclear-armed cruise missile now in development called the LRSO – Long Range Stand Off weapon. It is also conceivable, although one does not want to speculate often, that the new bomber will one day be armed with yet-to-be seen weapons technology.

“We’re going to have a system that will be able to evolve for the future. It will give national decision authorities a resource that they will be able to use if needed to hold any target that we need to prosecute at risk,” Bunch said.

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Beijing lambastes US warship patrol in South China Sea as tensions rise over waterway, North Korea

Beijing issued a scathing rebuke on July 3 of a US warship’s patrol a day earlier near a contested island occupied by Chinese troops in the South China Sea — the latest irritant in the two powers’ increasingly fraught relationship.


The patrol, the second known “freedom of navigation” operation under the administration of US President Donald Trump, came as the White House appeared to grow ever more frustrated with China over its moves in the waterway and lack of progress on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Sunday’s operation, which involved the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based USS Stethem guided-missile destroyer, was conducted within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, a US defense official confirmed to The Japan Times.

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USS Stethem. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone

China’s Defense Ministry lambasted the move in a statement, issuing what appeared to one of the strongest condemnations yet of the US operation which Washington says is aimed at affirming its right to passage.

The US “actions seriously damaged the strategic mutual trust between the two sides” and undermined the “political atmosphere” surrounding the development of Sino-US military ties, the statement said. The Chinese military, it added, would take bolstered measures in the waters, including “an increase in the intensity of air and sea patrols.”

The tiny islet is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, and is not one of the seven fortified man-made islands located in the South China Sea’s Spratly chain, which is further south.

Late July 2, China’s Foreign Ministry said that it had dispatched military ships and fighter jets in response to warn off the Stethem, which it said had “trespassed” in “the country’s territorial waters.”

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“Under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,’ the US side once again sent a military vessel into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China’s approval,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement using the Chinese name for the Paracel Islands.

The US, he said, “has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China’s sovereignty, disrupted peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands.”

Lu said the US “deliberately stirs up troubles in the South China Sea” and “is running in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation, and development,” adding that the patrol “constitutes a serious political and military provocation.

FONOPs represent “a challenge to excessive maritime claims,” according to the US Defense Department. The significance of the distance of 12 nautical miles derives from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which generally grants coastal states jurisdiction over seas within 12 nautical miles of land within their territory.

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Paracel Islands, as seen from above. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The patrol was believed to be the second near Triton Island, after a similar FONOP under the administration of President Barack Obama in January 2016. The July 2 operation was first reported by Fox News.

Ahead of the patrol, there has been growing speculation that the White House is frustrated not only with Beijing’s moves in the strategic waterway, but also its failure to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

This frustration was seen in a tweet sent by Trump late last month, when he wrote: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi  China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

And on June 30, in a step that the White House said was not aimed at Beijing, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against a Chinese bank linked to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. The sanctions came just a day after the US announced a new $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

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Donald Trump speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by George Skidmore)

Earlier last week, the US State Department also listed China among the worst human-trafficking offenders in an annual report.

According to Mira Rapp-Hooper, an Asia expert at the Center for a New American Security think-tank in Washington, the July 2 FONOP was “not particularly provocative,” and was “basically a repeat of an earlier one.

“But given that the administration also announced North Korean sanctions and a Taiwan arms package, it’s hard to see the timing as pure coincidence,” Rapp-Hooper said. “This may not be an effort to pressure China to specific ends, rather a ‘snap back’ in Trump administration foreign policy, which was solicitous of Beijing for several months as it sought help on North Korea.”

“The White House now understands that Beijing will not solve this problem for it,” she added.

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Photo from The Moscow Kremlin

Zack Cooper, an Asia scholar with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, noted the timing between previous FONOPs and the rapid-clip announcements of recent US actions against China.

“These four actions have come in just five days,” he said, adding that the last FONOP was just under 40 days ago, while the one before that took place more than 215 days earlier.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said in a statement that “FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

“US forces operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis,” Knight said. “All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.

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Photo from US Navy

“That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe,” he added.

China has continued to militarize its outposts there — despite a pledge to the contrary — as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

Now, with fewer constraints on a tougher approach to China across the board, experts say Trump could butt heads with Beijing over a number of issues.

“What we know for sure is that the Trump administration is now more comfortable with higher levels of friction with China than in previous months,” said Ely Ratner, a former deputy national security adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden and current senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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A top US intelligence official ‘privately floated’ a potential deal to bring Snowden home

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A top US intelligence official informally floated the idea of potentially offering Edward Snowden a specific plea bargain to return home, Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reports.


Isikoff, citing three “sources familiar with informal discussions of Snowden’s case,” writes that the chief counsel to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Robert Litt, “recently privately floated the idea that the government might be open to” the former NSA contractor returning to the US, pleading guilty to one felony count, and receiving a prison sentence of three to five years “in exchange for full cooperation with the government.”

Snowden, who has lived in Russia since June 23, 2013, is charged with three felonies: Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.

ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s legal advisers, told Yahoo that any deal involving a felony sentence and prison time would be rejected.

“Our position is he should not be reporting to prison as a felon and losing his civil rights as a result of his act of conscience,” Wizner said.

Snowden, 32, allegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA documents while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii between March 2012 and May 2013.

The US government believes Snowden gave about 200,000 “tier 1 and 2” documents detailing the NSA’s global surveillance apparatus to American journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in early June 2013. Reports based on the disclosures have swayed courts in the US and influenced public opinion around the world.

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Snowden also provided an unknown number of documents to the South China Morning Post, adding that he possessed more.

“If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published,” Snowden told Lana Lam of SCMP on June 12, 2013, 11 days before flying to Moscow.

The US intelligence community believes that Snowden also took up to 1.5 million “tier 3” documents, including 900,000 Department of Defense files and documents detailing NSA offensive cyber operations, the fate of which are unclear.

Snowden reportedly told James Risen of The New York Times over encrypted chat in October 2013 that the former CIA technician “gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong.” (Wizner subsequently told Business Insider that the report was inaccurate.)

Snowden would later tell NBC that he “destroyed” all documents in his possession before he spoke with the Russians in Hong Kong.

“The best way to make sure that for example the Russians can’t break my fingers and — and compromise information or — or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all,” he told Brian Williams of NBC in Moscow in May 2014. “And the way to do that was by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia.”

In any case, some current and former officials are considering ways to bring the American home.

“I think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with,” Former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo. “I think the possibility exists.”

Check out the full report at Yahoo News

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 how the Navy’s air-to-air kill of that Syrian MiG went down

New details have emerged from the downing of a Russian-made Su-22 by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet over Syria.


The Pentagon said that after Syrian jets had bombed US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Syria and ground forces headed their way with artillery and armored vehicles, US jets made a strafing run at the vehicles to stop their advance.

But then a Syrian Su-22 popped up laden with bombs.

“They saw the Su-22 approaching,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on June 21st, as CNN notes. “It again had dirty wings; it was carrying ordnance. They did everything they could to try to warn it away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down.”

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US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez

A US F/A-18E off the USS George H.W. Bush in the Mediterranean then fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile at the Syrian jet, but the Su-22 had deployed flares causing the missile to miss. The US jet followed up with an AIM-120 medium range air-to-air missile which struck its target, US officials told CNN.

The pilot ejected over ISIS territory, and Syrian forces declared him missing in action.

The focus of the US’s airpower in recent years has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own. Before the Su-22, the US had not shot down a manned enemy aircraft since 1999.

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A Polish Su-22 Fitter at the 2010 Royal International Air Tattoo. (Photo from Wikimedia commons)

Since the downing of the Syrian jet, Russia has threatened to target US and US-led coalition jets flying over Syria west of the Euphrates river.

Both Syria’s Su-22 and the US’s F/A-18E Super Hornet are updated versions of 1970s aircraft, but Russia and the US both have much more advanced systems to bring to bear. Fortunately, an air war seems unlikely between major powers in Syria.

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10 most common ways troops get thrown out of the military

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a massive collection of rules, regulations, standards and procedures that defines the justice system for those serving according to Uncle Sam. It is federal law enacted by Congress that spells out all the activities that can cause troops to get slapped with an Article 15, Article 32, a court martial, or a host of other not-so-fun punishments.


Servicemembers have all raised their right hands and sworn an oath to protect and defend this nation and its constitution and, by default, they have also agreed, for as long as they’re in uniform, to live according to the rules and regulations of the UCMJ. But, I’m willing to bet 60 days of rollover leave that most of them don’t have a good idea of how severe the consequences often are of violating the UCMJ.

Here are 10 ways servicemembers get themselves into big trouble most often:

1. Failing the whizz quiz

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(Meme: fullbirdprivate.com)

At one point or another, we have all likely been subjected to a “sweep urinalysis,” which tests an entire company for illegal drug use by way of urine samples. Company-wide urine tests are allowed by the UCMJ, but you need to be on the lookout for commanders who order these inspections hoping to single out one specific person – perhaps you – for illegal drug use. Illegal drug use violates Article 112a of the UCMJ and could cost you your military career. Commanders need probable cause to order you to take a urine test, but not for a company-wide urine test. A commander may want to conduct a company-wide urine test to catch one specific person using illegal drugs because they may not have the evidence needed to test this one person. Ordering a company-wide urine test with the goal of catching one person using drugs is not allowed by the UCMJ.

2. Taking one drug to hide another

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(Image: usscreeningsource.com)

As a member of the U.S. Military, you are not allowed to wrongfully possess, sell or use drugs or items used to take drugs (needles, syringes, crack pipes, etc). The Department of Defense (DoD) specifically disallows this in DoD Instruction 1010.04, which addresses “problematic substance use by DoD personnel.” The DoD says drug paraphernalia is anything involved in, meant to be involved in, or meant to hide drug use. This includes things like diuretics taken before a drug test in order to hide drug use. If you are caught using one drug, such as a diuretic, to hide your use of another drug, you could be charged with failure to obey a lawful regulation. This is a violation of Article 92 of the UCMJ.

3. Getting too drunk to remember what happened

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(Photo: art15.com)

There’s nothing in the UCMJ that says service members can’t engage in consensual sex or enjoy alcohol responsibly. But UCMJ violations often appear when a lot of alcohol is mixed with a lot of sex. The extreme consumption of booze is often tied to charges of sexual assault in the military. As a result, it is common for service members to face Article 120 charges under the UCMJ for sexual assault, even when the alleged sexual assault victim does not remember consenting to sex or engaging in any sexual activity at all. The alleged victim’s lack of memory leads to an Article 120 charge and the alleged-person-who-did-the-assaulting’s lack of memory moves the charge forward with nothing to disprove a sexual assault occurred in the first place. No bender, no matter how epic, is worth this risk.

4. Sex with someone who’s underage

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(Image: Buzzfeed.com)

The last thing you want is a visit from “To Catch a Predator’s” Chris Hansen. If you are caught having sex with a minor, you’ll receive much worse than that under the UCMJ. And don’t count on the fact that you “didn’t know he/she was only 16” saving you from the wrath of military prosecutors. It doesn’t matter if the minor consented to sex or if you did or did not know the minor was underage at the time of sex, you will be charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the UCMJ anyway. This offense is punishable by up to 20 years of confinement. The cliff note summary here is if he or she looks to be under 18, don’t get involved with him or her. It isn’t worth the punishment or the end of your military career.

5. Sexting using a government phone

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(Photo: vwalways.com)

The next time you feel the need to snap and send a pic of your unmentionables, I recommend thinking twice, especially if you are about to do so with a phone issued to you by Uncle Sam. If you engage in sexting on a government-issued phone, you could be slapped with the charge of failure to obey a lawful general regulation, which violates Article 92 of the UCMJ. You may also be unaware of the real age of the person you are sexting, and sexting a minor could get you charged with online sexual exploitation of a minor, indecent language or exposure, or possibly manufacturing and/or distributing child pornography. These charges all violate Article 134 of the UCMJ or any applicable federal statute. You should also keep in mind that it is very common for text messages to be used as evidence by military prosecutors to help prove adultery and fraternization.

6. Playing fast and loose with marital status

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(Photo: psychologytoday.com)

Military swingers beware: Your wife or husband’s thumbs up for you to sleep with other men or women will not save you from a conviction under the UCMJ. Your conviction could stem from a charge of adultery in violation of Article 134 of the UCMJ. Adultery, an offense unique to the military that non-military members do not have to worry about (just ask Tiger Woods or Arnold), occurs when a service member has sex with someone who is not his or her spouse or who is married to someone else. Take note that this offense is triggered by both consensual and non-consensual sex.

7. Solving an argument with a fist

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The military promotes confrontation. It is one of the reasons we love serving. But the military also requires good order and discipline and so confrontation and aggression are only allowed under specific circumstances, such as during drills, patrols, and obviously when deployed. Violent confrontation is not allowed by the military whenever and wherever. For instance, if two service members have an argument and agree to a fist fight to settle the disagreement, this is illegal under the UCMJ. If you take this approach to solving your disagreements while enlisted, you’ll likely find yourself charged with assault by battery in violation of Article 128 of the UCMJ.

8. Failure to be not fat

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A negative fitness assessment (FA) or physical training (PT) test failure can have a disastrous impact on your military career. Depending on your status and whether any other poor fitness assessments are already in your records, just one or more failures can cause you to be kicked out of the military. If you feel your FA or PT failure was due to an error, you could challenge it up your chain of command. If you have already tried that or have already been kicked out of the military, you could go to your branch’s Board for Correction of Military or Naval Records (BCMR or BCNR) and request that the error be removed or corrected.

9. Failure to be a snitch

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Let’s say you are deployed to Afghanistan like I was a few short years ago, and you have a friend also stationed there who is a mail clerk. Your friend begins showing up after his shift with all sorts of extra goodies clearly coming from somewhere off base (cigars, video games, home cooked meals, etc.). You ask where he is getting all the loot and he says he has been opening the mail coming into the base and stealing the goods. Your ongoing knowledge of this theft and failure to report it could amount to a conspiracy in violation of Article 81 of the UCMJ.

10. Huffing

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(Image: legalschnauzer.com)

If you positively need to catch a high but are concerned about doing it with drugs that are labeled illegal by the UCMJ, you should know that “huffing” substances like dusting products, glue and gasoline can still get you in trouble with military prosecutors. If you use substances like these to get high, the military cannot punish you using Article 112a of the UCMJ, which addresses the wrongful use of a controlled substance. BUT, the military CAN charge you under Article 92 of the UCMJ for failure to obey a lawful regulation. There are various other branch regulations, such as in the Army and Navy, that also prohibit huffing. My recommendation – stick with runner’s high.

Mat Tully is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mat is the Founding Partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC, a coast to coast law firm defending the legal rights of servicemembers. The above is not intended as legal advice.

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Germany just threw a UXO party for 50,000 people

Unexploded ordnance, often called “UXO,” has long been a problem after wars. In World War II, the Allies dropped almost 1.6 million tons of bombs on Germany – the equivalent of 6.4 million 500-pound bombs. Every major city was hit.


The problem is that not all the bombs exploded — not surprising when so many were dropped. These have been hanging around – and even now, 72 years after V-E Day, some of them still turn up.

And in Hanover, Germany, on May 7, 2017, three of those UXOs were found by construction crews, according to the BBC.

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A 2,500 pound German bomb, buried opposite University College Hospital, London, was removed by Army sappers. Before the bomb, which fell in 1941, was de-fused, people in the area were evacuated to a safe distance. (National Archives)

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the city government evacuated 50,000 people, the largest since an unexploded bomb was found in Augsberg, Germany, last Christmas. In February, a German bomb that failed to detonate was discovered in the United Kingdom while construction work was underway to improve the intended home port for the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

With so many people affected, the city decided to throw a big UXO party. Numerous events were set up, including screenings of films for kids, sporting events, and museum tours. There were also efforts made to provide food and other essential supplies to the evacuees while the Allied bombs were secured.

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(Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sean Carnes)

There’s no doubt about it, UXO can still kill, even after decades under ground. The BBC reported that in 2010, three German EOD techs were killed while trying to defuse a World War II leftover. In 2012, a construction worker was killed when his equipment hit an old bomb. Old World War II ordnance has sometimes been discovered during training exercises, notably in the Baltic Sea.

In the United States, most of the UXO is from the Civil War. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a number of cannonball left over from that conflict were unearthed.

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