China carried out a naval training exercise in the Yellow Sea ahead of the first summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The training exercise involved the deployment of the Liaoning, China’s only known aircraft carrier, the Global Times reported April 5.
Quoting a Chinese navy announcement on Weibo, a Chinese social network, state news media said the Liaoning left its station in Qingdao on March 20 and conducted “annual naval drills” in the Yellow and Bohai Seas, off the coast of northeastern China.
The Liaoning and its accompanying fleet had completed training exercises in the South China Sea in January, a move that prompted Taiwan to scramble military jets and a ship to monitor their movements.
China also deployed the Shenyang J-15, also known as the “Flying Shark,” a carrier-based fighter jet most likely based on the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-33.
The Chinese navy carried out tasks including midair refueling, aerial combat, and target strikes during aircraft deployment.
A helicopter conducted night landing drills and search missions, according to the report.
Although the exercises took place in March, they are being made public the first week of April, a day ahead of the first summit between China and the United States.
Army chaplains and their assistants provide spiritual support to soldiers, both in a deployed environment and back at home. They are part of a support network for soldiers going through a hard time or just needing someone to share their thoughts or concerns.
Army Master Sgt. Samuel W. Gilpin presents a quilt to Spc. Zowie Sprague during a battlefield circulation visit in Taji, Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. The quilt was hand-made by a family from a small town in Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cesar E. Leon)
The Army’s Chaplain Corps provides counseling for soldiers in times of crisis, such as extreme stress, grief, or psychological trauma. Army chaplains are teamed-up with an enlisted soldier known as a chaplain assistant.
Together, they form what is known as a Unit Ministry Team.
“Chaplains have to be extra resilient and take time for self-care,” said Army Maj. James S. Kim, the chaplain for the 369th Sustainment Brigade.
“Caregiver” is a term that can be given to chaplains and their assistants within the military. On a day-to-day basis, ministers may deal with many grief counseling cases and always have to remember the importance of self-care.
“I have learned from my past deployment, that when I am assisting people with their issues, there is only so much I can help with,” Kim said. “At the end of the day, I have to be able to unravel everything I heard from the day and be able to get my own counseling.”
UMT’s are empathetic to soldiers’ personal problems, such as substance abuse, relationship issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. If they are not conscious of the psychological toll their empathy can take on them, they run the risk of suffering from what is known as compassion fatigue.
UMT’s need to find ways to cope and release the weight they take on from providing moral support to their soldiers.
“It is important to understand your limitations, what you can and can’t do, but most importantly finding that time to connect to your faith,” said Army Master Sgt. Samuel W. Gilpin, the chaplain assistant for the 1st Sustainment Command UMT.
The Army Chaplain Corps provides responsive religious support to the unit in both deployed and garrison environments. The support provided can include religious education, clergy counsel, worship services, and faith group expression.
Chaplains have been an integral part of the armed forces since 1775, when the Continental Congress officially made chaplains a part of the Army.
Chaplains serve commanders by offering insight into the impacts of religion when developing strategy, campaign plans, and conducting operations.
They also provide soldiers an outlet for spiritual practice and provide counseling and moral support for soldiers in need.
So check out our list of why you shouldn’t be too nice in the military.
1. Your fellow brothers and sisters will end up venting to you on a daily basis.
If you’re that sweet guy or gal who is nice enough to listen to everybody’s problems — stand by for handing out free therapy sessions.
Best news ever! (Image via Giphy)
2. You just might get put into someone’s friend zone.
You know that hot guy or girl who works down at supply?
Because you haven’t shown signs of having a backbone — instead of going out with them on Saturday night — you’re going to be watching them leave the barracks with your co-worker who has a backbone.
They’re not coming back anytime soon. (Image via Giphy)
3. People will ask for favors — a lot of favors.
You know how you’re bad at saying no because you’re too nice? Well, have fun standing somebody else’s duty Saturday night while they’re off having an excellent time at the bar.
FML. (Image via Giphy)
4. If you get even a little upset, everyone will think the “nice guy” is going crazy.
You listen to everyone’s problems 24/7, but when you decide to emote at all — everyone now thinks you’re the crazy one.
It’s okay for everyone else, but just not the nice guy or gal. (Image via Giphy)
5. You could get pushed to the side.
People have crazy schedules this day and age. So when they need to make space in their lives for something important, they might reschedule a meeting with you — the accommodating one — to make room.
Son-of-a-b*tch! (Image via Giphy)
6. Your chain of command could assign you extra duty.
Many times a bad assignment will come down the pipeline, and your chain of command needs to assign someone to work an outside event. If you’re that person who rarely gives anyone sh*t, you may be the one they ask to come on in on Saturday because you never say no.
Yeah. So, we’re going to need you to come in on Saturday. (Image via Giphy)
HillVets has announced a new Congressional Fellowship program exclusively for veterans seeking to begin careers in Washington, called HillVets House. Phase I of the program will feature six Congressional Fellows to be hosted and placed in staff positions on Capitol Hill and is set to begin with the first cohort in July 2016.
HillVets is a bipartisan group of veterans, service members, and supporters focused on empowerment through networking, community involvement, and education. HillVets strives to increase veterans involvement in government and advocacy. This is the first time the effort is being made to get more veterans onto Capitol Hill.
The program is the result of a survey taken by the organization in 2014 in an effort to connect vets on Capitol Hill. The surveyors found that not many veterans were active in Congress. The veterans organization says if they were to rank agencies by number of veterans, the Federal legislative body would be dead last. They are making this effort to change that with the help of the Atlantic Council and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Capitol Hill experience is largely considered a key component and invaluable experience for a long-term career in government and politics. Currently, less than three percent of staff members working for the United States Congress are military veterans. As hundreds of veterans continue to come to the Washington, D.C. area, they are often frustrated by an inability to quickly build an adequate network and open the initial doors necessary for long-term success.
HillVets House is designed to help veterans overcome the many challenges they face beginning second careers by providing a comprehensive introduction to government, politics, and advocacy. HillVets says this program will provide the first premiere access point for veterans wishing to continue their service in unique roles across all government agencies and branches.
Veterans with honorable discharges, Bachelor’s degrees, or who will be in their final semester at the time of the fellowship, and are ready and able to take permanent employment will receive preference. HillVets will focus on recently-separated vets or those who just completed school.
The HillVets Fellowships will start twice a year, with the first class to start in July 2016 and the second in January 2017. Fellows will have a mandatory commitment to their host offices for a period of three months, the second three month period is to focus on finding a permanent, paid position on Capitol Hill, while continuing to work in the Congressional Host office. The placement will be sensitive to the individual’s political party affiliation.
In addition to full-time placement, Fellows will receive housing and/or a living stipend, educational and career development programs, and extensive networking opportunities.
Look for the program application on the HillVets House website by November 17, 2015. All applications are due by March 25, 2016 and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Su-27 Flanker and the MiG-29 Fulcrum were both designed and built by Russia to fight World War III side-by-side. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, that conflict didn’t happen. However, the two Russian fighters would square off over Eastern Africa.
Since Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, a border dispute had been simmering between the two countries, mostly over the territory surrounding the town of Badme. Things heated up in 1998, when Eritrean forces stormed in and took the town.
According to a report by ACIG.org, the Eritreans had been building up their military for just such an occasion. Among their purchases were ten refurbished MiG-29s from Russia. The intention was to use the planes to secure air superiority on the battlefield.
When the war started, Ethiopia began to search for a counter to the Eritrean Fulcrums. Their F-5 Freedom Fighters and MiG-21 Fishbeds were clearly outclassed. Their choice to change that situation would be the Su-27 Flanker. Eight surplus airframes were purchased from Russia in December of 1998. By the end of the following February, they would be in action.
On Feb. 25, 1999, in a pair of engagements, Ethiopian Su-27s would shoot down two MiG-29s. The next day, Eritrean MiG-29s shot down a pair of Ethiopian MiG-21s. Ethiopia would claim that a “Capt. Asther Tolossa” would shoot down a MiG-29, but the existence of Capt. Tolossa is disputed.
In March, Ethiopian Flankers claimed two more Eritrean Fulcrums.
The last encounters in that war between Fulcrum and Flanker would take place in May 2000. On May 16, Ethiopia claimed that one of their Flankers shot down an Eritrean Fulcrum. Two days later, another Eritrean Fulcrum was shot out of the sky by a Flanker. The war ended in June 2000 with Ethiopia re-claiming the seized territory, and holding on to it despite an international court ruling favoring Eritrea.
When all was said and done, ACIG noted that the Ethiopian Flankers had shot down at least five, and as many as seven, Eritrean MiG-29s, as well as one Learjet. The Eritrean MiG-29s had shot down three MiG-21 Fishbeds and a MiG-23 Flogger.
In that war, the Flanker had bested the Fulcrum, and cemented its place as one of Russia’s hottest exports. Ironically, Eritrea was among the countries to buy Flankers, operating two of those planes according to World Air Forces 2017.
“We’re trying to get normal people — civilians who wouldn’t normally have access to military equipment — a little bit of hands-on knowledge,” said Drive A Tank’s owner Tony Borglum in the video below.
It’s one of the only places in the world where you can drive a tank and shoot a machine gun under one roof that’s not owned or operated by the government, according to MarKessa Baedke-Peterson.
With packages ranging from $449 to $3,699, this military theme park will have you behind the wheel of a 15-ton armored vehicle through a course of woods and mud. The course ends at the car crushing area where visitors get to destroy perfectly intact Priuses (and other vehicles) by running them over.
But that’s not all. After the tank course, attendees get to shoot anti-material rifles like the Barrett 50 Cal. and belt fed machine guns like the M1919 Browning.
“Now that’s one badass motherf–ker,” Baedke said.
This video shows what a day is like for people who visit Drive A Tank:
“Three Kings” looks at what would happen if Army reservists and a retiring special forces officer decided to steal millions of dollars in gold under the nose of their headquarters.
Before we get started, we didn’t count each individual case of “accountability” issues in this movie because it simply comes up too often to list each individual problem. But, the movie centers on the idea that a staff officer, two mid-career noncommissioned officers, and a private could disappear into the desert for hours with a Humvee, M60, and some M16s and pistols, and return hours later with no one noticing.
No actual soldier would have thought this plan would work. Sergeants are being yelled at, asked a question, or assigned a task every five minutes. No way they could disappear for hours and no one would notice.
Plot impossibility aside, there were 33 technical errors that made us grind our teeth.
1. (1:10) Sgt. 1st Class Barlow asks whether or not the unit is shooting at Iraqis. As a sergeant first class with a small element, he is probably the senior-most enlisted soldier in this scene. He should be the one who knows the rules of engagement. Also, what patrols really go outside the wire without briefing the RoE? The Army Reserve sometimes does dumb stuff but damn.
2. (1:35) Barlow wants to ascertain whether a person has a weapon. First of all, the guy was literally waving it through the air multiple times, silhouetting it to where Barlow should be able to tell the exact kind of Kalashnikov it is. Secondly, instead of just looking he flips his iron sites to the pinhole site (which it should’ve been on in the first place). This would actually make it harder to see if the enemy had a weapon.
3. (4:50) A major wouldn’t call his superior “colonel.”
4. (5:08) Major Gates is wearing his skill badges incorrectly. Army Regulation 670-1 says that when four skill badges are worn on the Desert BDU, the first three are worn above the U.S. Army tape and the fourth is worn on the pocket flap. Gates has two above the tape and two on the pocket flap. The colonel’s badges are, surprisingly, in the right spots though the spacing looks a little iffy.
5. (5:30) That colonel must be very busy if he’s going to let an ass-chewing wait until morning.
6. (7:09) Holding your weapon close to a prisoner is begging to have it stolen and used against you, but the private does it with nearly every prisoner.
7. (9:42) The colonel puts on his hat to get in a helicopter. This is the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. Also, does he really not need armor to fly outside the wire? He better hope that cease fire is super secure.
8. (12:40) Night vision in Desert Storm didn’t blur peripheral vision, it blocked it. Also, during the day, the image would be blown out and the light could ruin the device.
9. (12:50) Soldiers don’t salute indoors and rarely salute while deployed.
10. (17:30) No one notices the soldiers shooting rounds at footballs? And no one noticed them leaving base without armor or helmets?
11. (27:18) Major remembers that he saw soldiers guarding a well. Why didn’t he put two and two together while he was still in the village?
12. (28:30) What the hell is with the dune buggy? The Army doesn’t have those. And there is no way the security in the country is so good that a commander would let a soldier leave the base alone with two civilians. A single Humvee would have been unlikely to be released as well, even with a Special Forces officer “commanding” the movement.
13. (40:13) Multiple weapons can be heard charging, but the soldiers are only switching off their safeties.
14. (43:50) They see a tank and Pfc. Vig pulls a light anti-tank weapon. These guys are civil affairs reservists. It’s guaranteed that guy does not know how to use that weapon. It’s pretty shocking that he even has it.
15. (45:55) The reservist knew exactly where his LAW was, but not the mask that should have been strapped to his leg.
16. (46:05) Vig survives a massive mine blast at only a few meters. Nope.
17. (48:30) CS gas is not uncomfortable in heavy clouds, it is debilitating. Even tough soldiers tear up, cough heavily, and struggle for breath.
18. (49:20) “Where’s Troy?” would not be answered with, “We have to get out of here.” A missing soldier is a huge deal and this is their best chance to fix it.
19. (51:07) The rebels are not taking a tank. They’re taking an armored personnel carrier. You are a damn soldier and should know better.
20. (57:14) “Get the maps, check their radio transmissions. Maybe we’ll get their positions.” So, the colonel thinks he’ll find his rogue special forces major by checking the radio traffic. That makes sense. He lied about where he was, who he was taking to, and what he was doing, but he definitely called and gave his real position on the radio.
21. (1:08:55) A special forces officer is leading a massive foot movement of rebels and lets them silhouette themselves on top of a ridge.
22. (1:15:15) The colonel is personally leading the search for missing soldiers. A subordinate officer should really be in charge and reporting up to him.
23. (1:22:50) Vig was once again way too close to an explosion to live.
24. (1:21:55) This helicopter manages to fire on the rebels three times and not hit anything until the third pass. Then, all of a sudden he kills a few people with almost every run, culminating in flying sideways while gunning a guy down. Are they badass pilots or incompetent? Pick one.
25. (1:26:15) What are the triggering mechanisms on these footballs? The first went off when it was shot, which C4 is not designed to do. The second went off on a timer. The third one went off when it impacted a helicopter. A timer makes sense but the other two need some explanation.
26. (1:30:40) When you shoot a guy to make sure he’s dead, you should really put at least one in his skull. Then he won’t shoot your buddy through the lung in exactly 59 seconds.
27. (1:32:55) Where was Maj. Gates hiding every item needed to perform a needle chest decompression?
28. (1:33:50) No, a needle chest decompression will not treat a shot up lung so well that you can just release the tension with the valve every few minutes. It makes it to where you can leave the valve open and barely breath as you are immediately moved to a hospital.
29. (1:37:45) If the colonel is special forces, it’s pretty weird that he’s commanding a unit in conventional forces.
30. (1:39:30) Put up your troop strap, morons. I know you’re a bunch of thieves, but you still need to be safe.
31. (1:40:30) There is never a good reason to leave your most casualty-producing weapon unmanned.
32. (1:41:00) Maj. Gates says only American soldiers carry guns. That’s probably offensive to the French special forces soldier who is saving his ass.
33. Epilogue: Everyone who wasn’t killed has a happy ending with new jobs and a peaceful existence after they are honorably discharged. No. A soldier was killed and a humvee and M60 are missing along with a few M16s and M9s. No. You all went to jail.
Everyone knows that when Navy SEALs arrive at their target, they can do some serious ass-kicking. But how they get to the point of attack is changing – and becoming more high-tech.
According to a report from TheDrive.com, the Combatant Craft Assault has been stealthily prowling the battlefield, giving SEALs new capabilities to insert into hostile territory and then make a clean getaway.
The CCAs reportedly took part in Eager Lion, a joint exercise in Jordan, and also got a moment in the spotlight when Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of United States Central Command took a training ride in one.
According to AmericanSpecialOperations.com, the CCA is 41 feet long, and is capable of carrying M240 medium machine guns, M2 heavy machine guns, and Mk-19 automatic grenade launchers. The boat is also capable of being air-dropped by a C-17A Globemaster, making it a highly flexible asset.
These boats can operate from the well decks of Navy amphibious ships or afloat staging bases like USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) and USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), which departed this past June for a deployment to the Persian Gulf region.
The craft reached full operational capability this year. While initially built by United States Marine, Inc., Lockheed Martin is now handling maintenance of these boats, which are manned by Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewmen. Two other stealthy special-ops boats, the Combatant Craft Medium and the Combatant Craft Heavy, are reportedly in various stages of development and/or deployment to the fleet.
It’s been six years since 1st Lt. Kimberly Colby, a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, made her first visit to a dying veteran as part of the Honor Salute program.
It still sticks out in her mind.
He was a Marine infantryman during Vietnam and had earned the Purple Heart while overseas. He was dying of colon cancer.
During the visit, she and a fellow comrade, both in their service blues, saluted the Marine and thanked him for his service.
“He was stoic throughout the ceremony despite being in immense pain,” Colby said.
When she was about to leave he said, “You know what? That’s the first time I have ever been thanked for my service.”
At the time, Colby was a cadet (midshipman) in the Naval Academy and was one of the first volunteers to sign up as a project leader with Honor Salute, then known as Final Salute. The program began in 2010 at Hospice of the Chesapeake in Pasadena, Md., for young military members at the beginning of their careers to pay tribute to veterans at the end of their lives.
“The program struck a chord with me,” said Colby, whose father and grandfather were in the military. Her grandfather was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and her father served in the Marine Corps during the post-Vietnam era.
Now after being stationed at Camp Pendleton, Colby has become instrumental in honoring San Diego-area veterans as a volunteer with the Escondido-based Elizabeth Hospice and the Carlsbad-based Hospice of the North Coast.
Colby has visited veterans at their homes and in senior living communities across the county and has spearheaded efforts to recruit fellow Marines as volunteers at the nonprofit hospices.
The hospices conduct pinning ceremonies throughout the year to recognize aging veterans and thank them for their military service. Ceremonies are held in dining halls of area senior living communities and at bedside for hospice patients. The ceremony includes a “Final Salute” where an active-duty service member salutes the veteran.
Since 2012, The Elizabeth Hospice has recognized more than 2,300 veterans.
Colby and the other Marines from Camp Pendleton who participate in the ceremonies spend time talking with the veterans. Some patients are able to share stories and some put on their old uniforms for the occasion, while others depend on family members to share the memories.
“It is especially meaningful for those who were never welcomed home or thanked for their service,” said the hospice’s veterans specialist Lisa Marcolongo, whose husband served in the Marine Corps.
“Kimberly’s smile lights up a room as she shakes the hand of a veteran,” Marcolongo said.
For Colby, the best part are the stories and instant camaraderie that can be built. The hardest part is saying goodbye to the veteran and his family and friends.
“Honoring veterans is something I consider a sacred obligation for those of us who wear the cloth of our nation,” Colby said.
Colby’s advice for current service members: “Go out of your way to honor veterans. It is within our lifetime that we will lose all WWII and Korean War veterans. Their stories and sacrifices should be honored.”
The Elizabeth Hospice is looking for veterans and active-duty service members to participate in its veteran pinning ceremonies.
It’s a video game series beloved by troops deployed to recent battlefields and has become as common in squad bays as dip and energy drinks.
And now thanks to efforts by its designer, Activision, the non-profit that bears its name has broken its own record, placing more than 25,000 unemployed, post-9/11 vets in good jobs two years ahead of schedule.
Established in 2009 by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, the Call of Duty Endowment has pledged more than $18 million to businesses and other service groups to help them place post-9/11 veterans in high-quality careers with a solid understanding of the benefits former servicemembers bring to the table.
The Call of Duty Endowment set a goal of placing 25,000 vets in partner companies by 2018. But after reaching that bar in 2016, the non-profit announced it will double the goal by 2019.
“The Endowment’s efforts have had a direct and positive impact on the lives of so many who have given so much,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard and Co-Founder of the endowment. “With U.S. veteran unemployment rates still well above the national average, we are committed to continuing our efforts and have established a new, ambitious goal to secure employment for 50,000 veterans by 2019.”
According to a statement, the Call of Duty Endowment uses a “performance-driven approach” to vetting potential partners and after earning a grant, the endowment works with grantees and employers to “provide an array of advice and support aimed at maximizing their impact.”
The non-profit says the average cost to put a veteran on the payroll of its company partners is less than $600, compared to $3,000 for government-assisted employment services for vets.
“Finding quality, meaningful employment is essential for a veteran to successfully transition back to civilian life,” said former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones, Co-Chairman of the endowment. “The Call of Duty Endowment is truly making a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of military veterans and their families.”
The endowment has already donated $18 million to get vets back to work and boasts an average $50,000 starting salary with 94 percent placed in full-time jobs.
“Twenty-five thousand veterans is equivalent to every individual recruited by the U.S. Navy in 2015, and we’ve achieved this goal by applying common sense business practices to philanthropy,” said Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the endowment. “We’re grateful for the support from Activision Blizzard, our partners and the gaming community, and are proud of what our grantees have achieved in such a short period of time.”
The Air Force plans to arm its fleet of drones and fighter jets with high-tech laser weapons able to incinerate enemy targets from the sky, service officials said.
Aircraft-launched laser weapons could eventually be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-UAS(drone), counter-boat, ground attack and even missile defense, officials said.
Lasers use intense heat and light energy to precisely incinerate targets without causing a large explosion – and they operate at very high speeds, giving them a near instantaneous ability to destroy fast-moving targets and defend against incoming enemy attacks, Air Force Chief Scientist Dr. Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview.
“The promise of directed energy is that electricity is cheap. Plus, you get the speed of light working for you so incoming missiles are easier to shoot at,” Zacharias said.
Air Force Research Laboratory officials have said they plan to have a program of record for air-fired laser weapons in place by 2023.
Ground testing of a laser weapon called the High Energy Laser, or HEL, was slated to take place last year at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., service officials said. The High Energy Laser test is being conducted by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
The first airborne tests are expected to take place by 2021, Air Force officials have said.
The developmental efforts are focused on increasing the power, precision and guidance of existing laser weapon applications with the hope of moving from 10-kilowatts up to 100 kilowatts, Air Force leaders said.
Air Force weapons developers are also working on the guidance mechanisms to enable laser weapons to stay on-track on a particular target, Zacharias added.
Zacharias explained that much of the needed development involves engineering the size weight and power trades on an aircraft needed to accommodate an on-board laser weapon. Developing a mobile power-source small enough to integrate onto a fast-moving fighter jet remains a challenge for laser technology, he added.
“The other part is all the component technology. You are going to give up fuel or some armaments. It is not just getting enough power on board it is getting the aiming technology. Its dealing with turbulent air flow on a high-speed platform,” Zacharias said.
Air Force leaders have said that the service plans to begin firing laser weapons from larger platforms such as C-17s and C-130s until the technological miniaturization efforts can configure the weapon to fire from fighter jets such as an F-15, F-16 or F-35.
Air Combat Command has commissioned the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator Advanced Technology Demonstration which will be focused on developing and integrating a more compact, medium-power laser weapon system onto a fighter-compatible pod for self-defense against ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons, a service statement said.
Air Force Special Operations Command has commissioned both Air Force Research Laboratory and the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren to examine placing a laser on an AC-130U gunship to provide an offensive capability.
A key advantage of using laser weapons would include an ability to melt or incinerate an incoming missile or enemy target without necessarily causing an explosion.
Another advantage is an ability to use a much more extended magazine for weapons. Instead of flying with six or seven missiles on or in an aircraft, a directed energy weapons system could fire thousands of shots using a single gallon of jet fuel, Air Force experts explained.
Drones Fire Lasers
Air Force drones will also one day fire high-tech laser weapons to destroy high-value targets, conduct precision strikes and incinerate enemy locations from the sky, senior service officials told Scout Warrior.
When it comes to drones, there does not yet appear to be a timetable for when fired lasers would be operational weapons – however weapons technology of this kind is moving quickly.
Zacharias also said future laser weapons could substantially complement existing ordnance or drone-fired weapons such as a Hellfire missile.
Laser weapons allow for an alternative method of destroying targets, rapid succession of fire, reduced expenditure of dollars and, quite possibly, increased precision, service officials have explained.
For instance, a key advantage of using laser weapons would include an ability to melt or incinerate an incoming missile or enemy target without necessarily causing an explosion. This would be of particular relevance, for example, in air attack such as the current campaign against ISIS over Iraq and Syria.
ISIS fighters are known to deliberately blend in among civilians, therefore making it difficult to pinpoint enemy targets without endangering innocent civilians. Precision attacks without an explosion, therefore, would provide a useful additional tactical option.
Zacharias said laser-armed drones could likely provide an impactful part of an on-the-move arsenal of weapons.
“You might want to put lasers on board so you have a distributed package when you have a bunch of different platforms carrying different parts – of weapons, sensors and even fuel in one very expensive fighter package. It is like having distributed satellite. You could have distributed fighter packages as well,” Zacharias said.
Firing laser weapons would certainly provide a different option than a 100-pound, explosive, tank and building-killing Hellfire missile.
Although firing lasers from drones is expected to be more complicated than arming fighter jets or aircraft with lasers, the existing development of laser weapon technology is quite likely to inform drone-laser development as well.
As technology progresses, particularly in the realm of autonomous systems, many wonder if a drone will soon have the ability to find, acquire, track and destroy and enemy target using sensors, targeting and weapons delivery systems – without needing any human intervention.
While that technology is fast-developing, if not already here, the Pentagon operates under and established autonomous weapons systems doctrine requiring a “man-in-the-loop” when it comes to decisions about the use of lethal force, Zacarias explained.
“There will always be some connection with human operators at one echelon or another. It may be intermittent, but they will always be part of a team. A lot of that builds on years and years of working automation systems, flight management computers, aircraft and so forth,” he said.
Although some missile systems, such as the Tomahawk and SM-6 missiles, have sensor and seeker technologies enabling them to autonomously, or semi-autonomously guide themselves toward targets – they require some kind of human supervision. In addition, these scenarios are very different that the use of a large airborne platform or mobile ground robot to independently destroy targets.