China's Air Force growing in size and technological edge - We Are The Mighty
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China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge


Tensions in the South China Sea and continued warnings about Chinese militarization of the disputed areas has led many Pentagon planners and analysts to sharpen focus on Chinese Air Force acquisitions and technological advances.

The U.S. Air Force’s technological air power superiority over China is rapidly diminishing in light of rapid Chinese modernization of fighter jets, missiles, air-to-air weapons, cargo planes and stealth aircraft, according to analysts, Pentagon officials and a Congressional review released several years ago.

The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress appoint an outside panel of experts to assess the U.S.-Chinese military balance and make recommendations regarding U.S. military plans and budgets, among other things.Despite being released in 2014, the findings of the report – if slightly dated – offer a detailed and insightful window into Chinese Air Force technology, progress and development.

The Commission compiled its report based upon testimony, various reports and analytical assessments along with available open-source information. An entire chapter is dedicated to Chinese military modernization.

The review states that the Chines People’s Liberation Army currently has approximately 2,200 operational aircraft, nearly 600 of which are considered modern.

“In the early 1990s, Beijing began a comprehensive modernization program to upgrade the PLA Air Force from a short-range, defensively oriented force with limited capabilities into a modern, multi-role force capable of projecting precision airpower beyond China’s borders, conducting air and missile defense and providing early warning,” the review writes.

Regarding stealth aircraft, the review mentions the recent flights of prototypes of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter, calling the aircraft more advanced than any other air platform currently deployed in the Asia-Pacific region.  The Chinese are also testing a smaller stealth fighter variant called the J-31 although its intended use is unclear, according to the report.

In 2014, China displayed the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter at China’s Zuhai Air show, according to various reports. However, several analysts have made the point that it is not at all clear if the platform comes close to rivaling the technological capability of the U.S. F-35.

Nevertheless, the U.S. technological advantage in weaponry, air and naval platforms is rapidly decreasing, according to the review.

To illustrate this point, the review cites comments from an analyst who compared U.S.-Chinese fighter jets to one another roughly twenty years ago versus a similar comparison today.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
J-31 prototype at 2014 China International Aviation Aerospace Exhibition

The analyst said that in 1995 a high-tech U.S. F-15, F-16 or F/A-18 would be vastly superior to a Chinese J-6 aircraft. However today — China’s J-10 and J-11 fighter jet aircraft would be roughly equivalent in capability to an upgraded U.S. F-15, the review states.

Alongside their J-10 and J-11 fighters, the Chinese also own Russian-built Su-27s and Su-30s and are on the verge of buying the new Su-35 from Russia, the review states.

“The Su-35 is a versatile, highly capable aircraft that would offer significantly improved range and fuel capacity over China’s current fighters. The aircraft thus would strengthen China’s ability to conduct air superiority missions in the Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, and South China Sea as well as provide China with the opportunity to reverse engineer the fighter’s component parts, including its advanced radar and engines, for integration into China’s current and future indigenous fighters,” the review writes.

In addition to stealth technology, high-tech fighter aircraft and improved avionics, the Chinese have massively increased their ability with air-to-air missiles over the last 15-years, the review finds.

“All of China’s fighters in 2000, with the potential exception of a few modified Su-27s, were limited to within-visual-range missiles. China over the last 15 years also has acquired a number of sophisticated short and medium-range air-to-air missiles; precision-guided munitions including all-weather, satellite-guided bombs, anti-radiation missiles, and laser-guided bombs; and long-range, advanced air-launched land-attack cruise missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles,” the review says.

The review also points to the Y-20 aircraft, a new strategic airlifter now being tested by the Chinese which has three times the cargo-carrying capacity of the U.S. Air Force’s C-130.  Some of these new planes could be configured into tanker aircraft, allowing the Chinese to massively increase their reach and ability to project air power over longer distances.

At the moment, the Chinese do not have a sizable or modern fleet of tankers, and many of their current aircraft are not engineered for aerial refueling, a scenario which limits their reach.

“Until the PLA Navy’s first carrier-based aviation wing becomes operational, China must use air refueling tankers to enable air operations at these distances from China. However, China’s current fleet of air refueling aircraft, which consists of only about 12 1950s-era H–6U tankers, is too small to support sustained, large-scale, long-distance air combat,” the review states.

The review also cites Russian media reports claiming that Russia has approved the sale of its new, next-generation S-400 surface-to-air-missile to China.

“Such a sale has been under negotiation since at least 2012. The S–400 would more than double the range of China’s air defenses from approximately 125 to 250 miles—enough to cover all of Taiwan, the Senkaku Islands, and parts of the South China Sea,” the review says.

The review also catalogues information related to China’s nuclear arsenal and long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the existing DF-31 and DF-31A along with the now-in-development DF-41.

The Chinese are believed to already have a number of road-mobile ICBMs able to carry nuclear weapons. The DF-41 is reported to have as many as 10 re-entry vehicles, analysts have said.

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Watch the insane knife training South Korean SEALs go through

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge


South Korea’s unit of elite frogmen have longstanding ties to US Navy SEALs, but some of their techniques, like a recent video displaying their knife training, shows their unique style of close-quarters combat.

In the slides below, see the Korean UDT/SEALs training in combat gear and practicing a fearsome knife-fighting regimen with blinding speed and complexity.

The video starts with the Korean UDT/SEALs practicing their form in unison.

via GIPHY

Next, they go to one-on-one duels, which are lightning-quick and insanely complicated.

via GIPHY

The takedown on display here is especially savage.

via GIPHY

Then they do disarming and counter-attack drills.

via GIPHY

Finally, we hear from the UDT/SEALs themselves: “In any situation, we will use whatever tactics necessary for the success of the mission.”

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
YouTube

Watch the full video here:

 

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron airdrops a Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System over the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise Nov. 12, 2015. This was the first time aircrews from the 9th SOS successfully completed an MCADS airdrop.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew/USAF

Maj. Cristina Moore Urrutia, the commander and conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, walks to a podium during the Japan Self-Defense Force Marching Festival at the Nippon Budokan Arena in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 13, 2015.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Airman 1st Class Delano Scott/USAF

ARMY:

An Army tank crew, assigned to 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, fire an M1 Abrams tank during gunnery at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, South Korea, Nov. 23, 2015.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy/US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 1-2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division, select items for their Thanksgiving meal at the Ghost Dining Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 26, 2015.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by US Army

Soldiers, assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, sing during their Thanksgiving celebration at the Caserma Del Din Dining Facility in Vicenza, Italy, Nov. 24, 2015.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Sgt. Lance Pounds/US Army

NAVY:

Happy Thanksgiving from your U.S. Navy and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) at sea.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by US Navy

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Monday, in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in U.S. 5th and 6th fleets. Along with Truman, guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) and guide missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) are also deploying.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by US Navy

MARINE CORPS:

Middle of Nowhere: Marines with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force load a simulated casualty on to a waiting MV-22 Osprey during Integrated Training Exercise 1-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 23-Nov. 15, 2015. The Aviation Combat Element provides additional mobility, reconnaissance and firepower capabilities to the MAGTF.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Sgt. Tia Nagle/USMC

Hydration is Continuous: Pfc. Beto Chavarria sucks the blood from the head of a python in a jungle survival course during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015. Chavarria is an automatic rifleman with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During the course, Marines learned how to trap, clean, and cook wildlife.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/USMC

COAST GUARD:

“Semper Paratus” means USCG members must train to maintain mission readiness. Members train on a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns and rifles.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi/USCG

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Semper Paratus from USCG Air Station Detroit.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw/USCG

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Navy fires fleet commander after string of ship collisions

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, has been relieved of his command by Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet. The firing comes within days of a collision between the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and a civilian tanker east of the Straits of Malacca that left 10 sailors missing.


China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin. (US Navy photo)

According to a brief Navy release, Aucoin was relieved by Swift due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to command.” The release went on to say that Aucoin’s planned successor, Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, will assume command immediately. Sawyer was confirmed to the rank of vice admiral and appointed commander of the Seventh Fleet on June 5 of this year, according to the Congressional Record.

An earlier release by the Navy indicates the bodies of some of the missing sailors had been found.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer (US Navy photo)

Since May, there had been three collisions involving vessels in the Seventh Fleet. The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) collided with a South Korean fishing boat on May 9, with no casualties involved.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), foreground, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) transit the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

On June 17, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was rammed by a container ship off Japan. Seven sailors were killed, and a number of others, including the ship’s captain, were injured in the incident. The captain, executive officer, and command master chief on that vessel were all relieved and will face non-judicial punishment.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart)

According to an official biography, Vice Adm. Aucoin’s Navy career included service in five aviation squadrons, command of the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk (CV 63), and over 150 combat missions. His awards include the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat Distinguishing Device.

Rear Adm. Sawyer, who will replace Aucoin, is a career submariner whose service included command of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) and Submarine Squadron 15. Prior to taking command of the 7th Fleet, Sawyer served as deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.

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This is the first time American troops led the march in Paris on Bastille Day

PARIS, France – The U.S. led the way down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées for the Military Parade on Bastille Day as the country of honor in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I (WWI) here July 14, 2017.


This marked the first time ever the U.S. was selected as the country of honor – a tradition that highlights a symbolic gesture of friendship from the French government.

“It’s about the partnership – a strong partnership that was forged in war many years ago and endures today,” said Commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti. “France is one of our oldest and closest allies, and so the significance of being the county of honor in their parade today underscores the strength of that partnership – and that we must work to continue to strengthen that partnership.”

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Almost 200 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen assigned to units in Europe and the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, stand in ranks during a rehearsal for the Military Parade on Bastille Day to be held July 14, 2017. This year, the U.S. led the parade as the country of honor in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I – as well as the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael McNabb/Released)

Altogether, almost 200 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from units in Europe and the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, marched down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde in support of the military parade that serves as a tribute to the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

“I’m honored and privileged to be here commemorating such a historic event and celebrating the alliance between France and the United States,” said Air Force Senior Airman Jorge Diehl, assigned to the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “I think it shows a great deal of appreciation and trust for them to allow us to lead the parade. It’s taken a long time to build that trust.”

French President Emmanuel Macron officiated the parade attended by U.S. President Donald Trump and numerous French and U.S. senior military and civilian leaders – including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David Goldfein, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

In all, this year’s parade included more than 3,700 participants and flyovers by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds; two F-22 Raptors; nine French Alpha Jets streaming blue, white and red contrails; and two French C-135s.

For the commander of U.S. troops, Army Maj. Jared Nichols, assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, the honor of participating was made even more special by the fact his great-grandfather served on the Western Front in France during WWI.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
U.S. Soldiers from1st Infantry Division meet a French service member during a break in rehearsal for the Military Parade on Bastille Day to be held in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael McNabb/Released)

“My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a private first class in the American expeditionary force; his name was Rupert Foust,” said Nichols. “He served as a medic in the 8th evacuation hospital, primarily dealing with clearing casualties off the battlefield and providing first aid. To be here to commemorate our entrance in a war to support [France] and the rest of the Allies and then also celebrate the French nation and their independence as well, is a great experience.”

It was an experience that wasn’t lost on Navy Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class John Holley, assigned to Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 37, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. He believes the friendships forged here will be life-long.

“We’ve built a lot of camaraderie so far,” said Holley. “We’ve done a lot of exchanging of patches and telling of stories. We were able to learn why we were here, the history and the importance of it.”

Historically, the 1st Infantry Division was the U.S. Army’s first division – and was formed in June 1917 to serve in WWI. In 2017, as in 1917, the U.S. stands ready with its European Allies and partners to face emerging threats and an increasingly dynamic regional security environment.

“During the centennial of U.S. entry into WWI, we commemorate America’s sons and daughters who defended peace – many of them descendants of European immigrants who came to America seeking freedom, opportunity and a better life,” said Scaparrotti. “I just want to salute the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard that keep Europe whole, free and at peace.”

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6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

On the morning of Jul 18, Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles became the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest honor for military valor.


Receiving the Medal of Honor confers a great deal of prestige on the recipient as well as an acknowledgement that the recipient and their unit members went through an especially dire and dangerous experience or gave a heavy sacrifice for the American people. The celebrity that goes with the medal allows recipients to cast light on issues that affect veterans and active duty troops.

But in addition to the intangible benefits like honor and stature, there are some tangible benefits that the military and the U.S. government give to medal recipients to acknowledge their sacrifice. Here are 6 special benefits that serve as an enduring “thank you” from the American people:

1. Preferred access to military academies for their dependents

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
(Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

Every American senator can nominate up to 10 candidates from their state for each of an allotted number of seats in the next freshman class at the Army, Navy and Air Force military academies. The number of slots changes from year to year, but the total number of names that state senators can put forward represents an annual “quota.”

But as a recognition of the sacrifice that MoH recipients have made for their country, recipients’ children can bypass this part of the selection process and put their name in for consideration regardless of whether there are open slots in that state’s  academy quota.

2. A monthly stipend

Every Medal of Honor recipient is entitled to a monthly stipend on top of all other pay or retirement benefits. This stipend was originally $10 a month in 1916 but has climbed to $1,299 per month.

The recipient’s base retirement pay is also raised by 10 percent.

3. Free, priority Space-A travel

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
(Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Medal recipients are granted lifelong access to the military’s “Space A” travel, which allows active duty military members, some veterans and their dependents to hitch rides in empty seats on military planes. MoH recipients get preferred access, meaning they can jump the line.

4. Special parking spots at on-base amenities

Service members with an MoH also get lifelong access to other military benefits like the commissary, on-post gyms and pools and recreational facilities. Many of these facilities have reserved spaces for MoH recipients.

5. Special status in the exchange of salutes

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Medal of Honor recipient Col. Lewis Millett salutes the flag during a memorial ceremony commemorating the bravery of his men during the Korean War. (Photo: US Army Al Chang)

While military members aren’t required to salute Medal of Honor recipients, they are encouraged to do so as long as the recipient is physically wearing the medal, even when the recipient is in civilian clothes.

Also, while military salutes in other situations are always up the the rank structure — meaning the junior soldier salutes the senior one — anyone may render a salute to a MoH recipient first. There have even been cases of American presidents saluting MoH recipients.

6. Headstones with gold lettering and full burial honors

Medal of Honor recipients are guaranteed a burial with full military honors — an honor otherwise only guaranteed to retirees and active duty service members. This includes a nine-member team of six pallbearers, a chaplain, an officer-in-charge or noncommissioned-officer-in-charge and a bugler.

At the gravesite, the MoH recipient is also entitled to a special headstone with gold lettering.

Author’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Medal of Honor Recipient and Lt. Col. Charles Kettles as an Army major. He was a major at the time of the actions for which he received the award, but he retired and received the award as a lieutenant colonel. The author regrets this error.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

The weekly, funny military memes rundown! Now with more Chris Farley!


1. Seriously, she’s been an E4 for decades. You’re not getting her (via The Salty Soldier).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Grandma’s gotta skate.

2. Air power for the win (via Pop Smoke).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

SEE ALSO: Here’s who’d win if an Airborne brigade fought a MEU

3. Remember to drink lots of water with it and be sure to take a knee (via Devil Dog Nation).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
If you’re really sick, you may need Ibuprofen as well.

4. When you finally realize you’ll never escape the barracks, not really (via Coast Guard Memes).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

5. Why are all these people arriving at the same time as me? Don’t they know I have formation!?

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Work faster, gate guards!

6. Seriously, should have joined the Air Force (via The Salty Soldier).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

7. Ponchos and poncho liners have more uses than duct tape (via The Salty Soldier).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Wet weather and cold weather, shower curtain and towel, tent cover and blanket ….

8. Having duty is no reason to let your Tinder game suffer.

(via Sh-t my LPO says).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
You still need to find someone to help you get out of the barracks.

9. Very close, sir (via Sh-t my LPO says).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

10. It’s required that you keep the muzzle out of the water…

(via Do you even Marine, bro?).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
… it’s recommended that you keep the water out of your nostrils as well.

11. Should’ve kept track of them a little better (via Sh-t my LPO says).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Lose them one more time and they’re getting an anchor attached.

12. From back when mustache proficiency and fighting proficiency went hand-in-hand:

(via Air Force Nation)

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
If he had grown a full beard, the Soviet Union would have fallen 5 years earlier.

13. The Marine Corps has a new retention strategy (via Military Memes).

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
It’s funny because it’s true.

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These are the 6 worst carriers (or classes) to ever set sail

Some aircraft carriers are legends – either from long service like that of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) or with an unmatched war record like that of another USS Enterprise (CV 6).


They have either heroic sacrifices, the way USS Yorktown (CV 5) did at Midway, or they simply take a ton of abuse as USS Franklin (CV 13) did.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Arabian Sea during her last deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jared King)

But some carriers just stink. You wouldn’t wish them on your worst enemy… or maybe you would, simply to make the war easier. There’s arguments on both sides of that. Here are the carriers that would prompt such an internal debate.

6. USS Ranger (CV 4)

When America was down to one carrier in the South Pacific in 1942, re-deploying America’s first purpose-built carrier, the USS Ranger (CV 4) was not considered as an option.

That tells you something about the ship. Her combat career was relatively brief, and she eventually was relegated to training duties. Still, she had a decent air group (mostly fighters and dive-bombers), so she is the best of this bad lot.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
USS Ranger (CV 4) at sea. (US Navy photo)

5. Admiral Kuznetsov Class (Kuznetsov, Liaoning, and unnamed Type 001A)

If you’ve read a lot of WATM, then you know about the Kuznetsov Follies. The crappy engines (the Russians send tugs along with her in case of breakdown), the splash landings, and the fact the Russians ended up using her as a glorified ferry all speak to real problems. In her favor, though, is the presence of 12 long-range anti-ship missiles on the lead ship, and she can fly MiG-29K and Su-33 Flankers off her deck. China’s versions carry J-15 fighters, but not the missiles.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in her natural habitat, a dry dock, in July 2015. | Christopher Michel/Flickr photo

4. Kiev class (Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk)

The Russian Kiev and her sisters are on here for a crap air wing.

The Yak-38 Forger was one of the worst planes to ever operate from a carrier. The Kiev gets a higher ranking largely because she had a lot of firepower, including eight SS-N-12 Sandbox missiles as well as a lot of SA-N-3 Goblets and point-defense systems, which were arguably more of a threat to the enemy than the planes she carried.

Yeah… that kinda has the whole purpose backwards. Now, a modern version with F-35Bs or even AV-8B+ Harriers and the Aegis system could be interesting.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
The Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev, showing off elements of the crap air wing, including the Yak-38 Forger. (US Navy photo)

3. HTMS Chakri Naruebet

The Chakri Naruebet from the Thai navy is on the list not so much for inherent problems, but because of substantial air wing neglect during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (aka Rana IX). Worse, the Thais officially call her an “offshore patrol helicopter carrier.”

They did buy some second-hand AV-8S Matadors from Spain. But most flunked the maintenance, and soon Thailand had one flyable jet. At least the Kievs had heavy firepower to make up for their crap air wing!

That said, his successor, King Vajiralongkorn, was a former fighter pilot, and hopefully will be able to turn things around.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Photo: PH3 Alex C. Witte/US Navy

2. Ise Class battleship/carrier hybrid conversions

Okay, in some ways, this is understandable. After the Battle of Midway, Japan needed carriers in the worst possible way. Ise and Hyuga are perfect examples of getting those “carriers” — in the worst possible way.

Initially built as battleships with a top speed of 23 knots, they got turned not into full carriers, which might have been useful. But a half-battleship/half-carrier holding 22 seaplanes (okay about 50 percent more than Hosho) that they could launch and recover wasn’t totally awful.

Remember that’s seaplanes, not Zeroes for fighter cover or strike planes. Granted Japan had the A6M-2 Rufe, a seaplane Zero, but this was a rush job, and it showed. At least they each had eight 14-inch guns.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
The HIJMS Ise was a failed battleship/carrier hybrid. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 

1. HIJMS Hosho

This was the world’s first purpose-built aircraft carrier. But let’s be honest, the Japanese boat was a dog. It had a top speed of 25 knots, and it carried all of 15 planes. During the Battle of Midway, it had eight biplanes.

By comparison, USS Langley (CV 1), America’s first aircraft carrier, could carry 36 planes. Even with a top speed of 15 knots, she would have been useful escorting convoys in the Atlantic – if America hadn’t turned her into a seaplane tender to satisfy an arms-control treaty Japan violated anyhow.

Are there any bad carriers we missed? Let us know in the comments!

 

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11 things your recruiter told you (and what they really meant)

Joining the military is a life-changing decision that begins at the recruiter’s office, but he or she isn’t always forthcoming with the full deal, as we say.


While some military recruiters are helpful and consider themselves life coaches rather than a salesmen, they are all under pressure to meet their quotas.

These are 11 things recruiters might tell you, (along with what they’re really saying):

1. You’ll travel to exotic places.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

This may be true but your definition of “exotic location” may be different than a recruiter’s definition. The word “exotic” may evoke imagery of Hawaii, when the recruiter really means Afghanistan. Where you may travel also depends heavily on which branch of service you join and what job you get.

2. Don’t want to be in combat? There are plenty of non-combat jobs available.

Having a non-combat job does not mean you will not be deployed to a combat zone. It simply means your chances of seeing combat are much less.

3. You can go to college while on active duty.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

This is technically true but it can often be very difficult completing classes due to deployments, training schedules, and your unit operational tempo.

4. You have a good ASVAB score so you’ll get a good job.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
While having a good ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test score can qualify you for specific jobs, it does not actually guarantee you anything. Make sure you get it in writing.

5. You only serve for 4 years.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

While your initial active duty enlistment contract can vary in years (3, 4, 6) it is important to know that your inactive service time can extend much further. For example, A typical 4 year active duty enlistment normally includes another 4 year inactive ready reserve obligation. What that means is, once you get out, there is a small chance that you can be pulled back in.

6. Your job is guaranteed.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

The job you sign up for is one of the most critical decisions you make so it’s important you get it guaranteed in your contract. However, your job is only guaranteed if you make it through all your initial training successfully. Should you fail or get into disciplinary trouble, your job can change and it will be at your branch’s discretion, not yours.

Just because you have Navy SEAL on your contract doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be one.

7. You will get a wish list of bases to get stationed at.

Chances are you will be able to send in a wish list of bases to be stationed at but it does not guarantee anything. In regards to this, you’ll likely hear “needs of the Marine Corps” or “needs of the Army” if you ask why you didn’t get what you wanted.

8. Your military school credits will transfer over to a college.

This can be true, but this often heavily depends on the job you choose and if the college you are attending is military-friendly and accepts those credits.

9. Your military job skills translate directly to civilian job skills.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

The skills you learn as a mortarman, cook, and many others may not translate directly to a post service career, but chances are you learned many skills that will. Leadership, initiative, work ethic, responsibility, and team work are examples of general skills all military service members acquire.  Fortunately, there are also careers that give military preference.

10. You can get bonus money.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

Sure, the bonus money is great but it’s being offered for a reason. It’s possible the job may not be desirable or the contract length may be longer. Make sure you fully understand all that is required to receive it.

11. There’s a waiver for everything.

Getting a waiver for something that would otherwise disqualify you for military service is possible. However, the likelihood of you getting one is dependent on how bad the branch of service needs new recruits. Currently, it is getting much harder to join the military.

BONUS: You will become a better person.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge

For the majority of veterans, this is 100% true.

NOW: 9 reasons candidates are disqualified from military service

OR: The 7 funniest Yelp reviews for military bases

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Here’s how you can get one of those awesome M41A pulse rifles from the ‘Aliens’ movie

A Colonial Space Marine without a pulse rifle is like cake without candles; good, but not great. While a Space Corps has been proposed, it’ll be a long time before we see our science fiction dreams of sweet, sweet xenomorph murdering fully realized. In the meantime while we wait for the apocalyptic space future promised by 1980’s movies, there’s an opportunity to get your hands on an original prop of arguably the most iconic movie weapon in a generation: The M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens.


China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Aliens (1986) – 20th Century Fox.

You’re going to have to pay a hefty price for the pleasure, however.

Where else but eBay can we find details on the original prop?

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Screenshot of ebay.com

The item description features a decent breakdown of the parts used. Like many other movie props of the era, the M41A Pulse Rifle consists of actual firearm components intermixed with custom fabricated elements.

Aliens original hero Colonial Marine M41-A Pulse Rifle. (TCF, 1986) One of the most famous Sci-Fi firearms, the M41-A Pulse Rifle was featured heavily in James Cameron’s 1986 action sequel Aliens.

Designed by Cameron himself and constructed under the supervision of renowned armorer Simon Atherton at Bapty Armory, the Pulse Rifle is viewed by many as the pinnacle of Sci-Fi prop weaponry. This is an original prop Pulse Rifle that was originally constructed for and used in Aliens, and later re-built and re-used in Alien 3.

The prop is constructed around a WWII era M1A1 Thompson submachine gun, which was originally modified to fire blanks for the production and has since been fully decommissioned. The Thompson is fitted with a custom-made pistol grip, and a custom-made extended barrel.

A SPAS-12 shotgun cage mounts below the Thompson barrel via a custom-stamped barrel shroud, simulating the grenade launcher. The grenade launcher features the original SPAS-12 pump handle, which was cut down for a different look in the film. It slides freely back and forth, allowing the pump-action loading of the launcher to be simulated. As only one version of the Pulse Rifle had a practical grenade launcher (actually a Remington 870 shotgun) fitted, this piece has a dummy grenade launcher filling the SPAS cage…

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Aliens (1986) – 20th Century Fox.

…The ends of the piece are capped with a custom-made steel shoulder stock, and a custom-made aluminum barrel cap at the front of the grenade launcher. The entire assembly is housed in a vacuum-formed ABS outer casing, which completes the unique profile of the prop. While all other components on the piece were used in Aliens, the casing was installed specifically for the production of Alien 3.

After Aliens, all of the Pulse Rifle props were struck back to their original firearm components, and most of the casings used were discarded as they were no longer deemed necessary. When the decision was made for Weyland scientists to carry Pulse Rifles during the climax of Alien 3, Bapty had to re-assemble the Pulse Rifles and were now lacking the outer casings. New outer casings were therefore manufactured by vacuum-forming over one of the original casings from Aliens, and the new ABS casing was fitted to the prop with bolts, brackets and custom-riveted plates.

The outer casing was originally painted black for use in Alien 3, as are all Pulse Rifle props in the film, but was later re-sprayed green by Bapty to return the piece to its classic Aliens form. The clip base is made from wood and is installed with a screw at the front of the casing. The Pulse Rifle is complete and in good film-used and weathered condition.

All of the moveable components-the shoulder stock, grenade launcher pump handle, and original Thompson selector switches and trigger-can be moved and positioned. This is a rare opportunity to own a masterpiece of film prop weaponry. Special shipping must be arranged through a federal firearms licensed dealer. $12,000 – $15,000

This famous prop is part of Hollywood Auction 89 – a live auction being held on June 28th at 14:00 PST. Details of each item up for grabs can be found on the auction page.

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Photo from Pop Culture Geek, taken by Doug Kline

If you don’t have a spare $15k set aside for a rainy day, the game isn’t over quite yet. You can build a functional M41A for yourself, or for the less mechanically inclined, obtain an airsoft version.

As for us, we’ll stick to spending that kind of coin on actual machine guns, with a healthy side of late night Aliens screenings

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4 insane things service members can do to stay awake

Not all deployments are created equal. Some troops primarily work at a desk performing critical operational tasks, while others are out and about undertaking various missions in the bush. Regardless, both schedules usually consist of long hours and a heavy workload which can run anybody down.


No matter the nature of the mission, staying in the fight and being alert is the key for any personnel deployed.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Cpl Daniel, a fire team leader, 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, posts security while members of the Afghan Narcotics Interdiction Unit search a compound during Operation Speargun in Urmuz, Afghanistan.

So if you’re worried about falling asleep when you need to be at your best, check out these simple tricks of the trade to stay awake whole on deployment.


1. Bangin energy drinks

May seem obvious to the average population that drinking a Redbull or pounding a Monster will get their minds firing on all cylinders. But in most cases, deployed troops just don’t sip a single energy drink — they take it to a whole new level by chugging multiple cans of the all mighty Rip-it.

Splashing water on your face works well too — but that’s no fun.

2. Coffee lip

One ration the military never seems to ever run off of is coffee.

When you’re occupying a patrol base or sitting in a fighting hole, coffee machines will be scarce. So instead of filtering water through the grounds, pack a solid pinch of instant coffee from the ole handy dandy MREs into your lip. It tastes like sh*t, but it can help you keep shuteye at bay.

3. “Spicy eyes”

This doesn’t refer to “the look” that civilian reporter who came by the FOB to interview the colonel gave everyone. It means sprinkling a small amount of Tabasco sauce onto your finger and rubbing the contents under your eyes. Spicy!

If it burns a little and wakes you back up, you’re doing it right.

4. Pain

There’s nothing worse than drifting off while on post.

In fact, if you get caught sleeping, that’s a crucial offense. The human body has a natural way of rejuvenating itself by excreting adrenaline into the blood stream. You can accomplish this by pinching yourself, or if that doesn’t work, delivering a light love tap across your cheek.

It might seem a bit extreme, but it could also save your life and the lives of your comrades.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.


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The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

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(Photo: Air Force Times)


On the evening of Dec. 16, 2015, members of the Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson community received an odd email. As part of their outreach efforts, the Alaskan base’s Sexual Assault and Prevention office – commonly referred to by the acronym SAPR – had given away tubes of lip balm.

They had to be destroyed.

“It has come to our attention that approximately 400 ‘SAPR lip balm’ promotional items … contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” the public address read, referring to the active ingredient in the drug marijuana. “The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator office has ceased the distribution of the lip balm … and requests that you dispose this product, if you received one of these items.”

Both the Pentagon and the Air Force – the lead service at the base – ban personnel from ingesting any substances that contain hemp seed or oil from those seeds. The flying branch specifically worries the small amounts of THC could trigger a positive result during random drug screening.

On Dec. 14, personnel from the 673rd Air Base Wing had sent the vendor a “heads up” email explaining the situation for future reference, according to records We Are the Mighty obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Earlier, the Wing had reached out to the Office of Special Investigations for advice on how to proceed.

The next day, Global Promotional Sales responded by pointing out that the lip balm did not contain any THC, along with at least two follow-up messages asking to chat with base staff. They ultimately sent along a 2001 scientific study from Leson Environmental Consulting that concluded hemp oil would never have enough THC to register in a drug test. At the same time, Wing staff and the SAPR office were debating what to do with the tubes of fruit-flavored moisturizer.

Citing personal privacy exemptions, censors redacted the names of all Air Force personnel in the records. However, they did not remove the name of the Global Promotional Sales representative.

“I’ve been told that lip balm made from Hemp [sic] will not result in a positive for THC,” an unnamed colonel in the 673d’s commander’s office wrote in one Email. “How many have you handed out?”

While the colonel’s position is widely accepted, rules are rules. “Because of the regulations banning any use of hemp products we understand that the product must be disposed of,” the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator shot back.

After untold hours working on the issue, the base leadership decided to send out the public address and ask personnel to voluntarily trash the items. In total, the SAPR office had purchased 1,600 “Fruity Lip Moisturizers” at a cost of over $1,580, according to an invoice.

The Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson public affairs office told We Are the Mighty in an email that they were unsure what had happened to the more than 1,000 tubes of lip balm that the SAPR office had not handed out. They didn’t know whether the vendor reimbursed the cost or offered credit on a future order.

What we do know is that for at least three days, both the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and the 673d’s staff were actively involved dealing with a problem that took away from their core mission in more ways than one. Emblazoned with the SAPR logo and the text “Consent, Ask, Communicate,” the lip balm itself seems to have served an unclear purpose.

“I mean, just the weight of those emails … the weight of coordination spent on pursuing swag and trinkets,” Tony Carr, a retired Air Force officer and outspoken critic of many of the flying branch’s policies, told We Are the Mighty in an Email after reviewing the documents. “This is what SARCs are doing while the issue of sexual assault continues to hover somewhere between confused and irresolute.”

Legislators, celebrities, and others have repeatedly criticized the Pentagon failing to improve the situation. While the services have focused on education, accountability seems to be the real factor holding back progress on the issue.

The Pentagon was forced to admit that “sexual assaults continue to be under-reported” when they released their latest sexual assault prevention strategy on May 1, 2014. The new policy cited a need to pursue offenders regardless of rank and make sure that accusers did not suffer retaliation from their superiors, who were often the attackers.

Retired Air Force Col. Christensen, who worked in the military legal system for more than two decades, said the incident highlighted the Pentagon’s “very simplistic” responses to very difficult problems, like rape. Christensen is now President of Protect Our Defenders, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit advocacy group that focuses on sexual violence in the U.S. military.

“They think they can powerpoint their way out of it,” Christensen lamented, describing seemingly endless briefings and courses on the ills of sexual assault. He specifically singled out the bystander training as “pretty much ridiculous,” adding that he was not aware of anyone being punished for not speaking up on behalf of a victim.

Of course, both Carr and Christensen were quick to note that these sorts of responses were not necessarily limited to one particular crisis. “It reinforces the ‘leadership by harassment’ approach of inventing and then enforcing rules with no valid military necessity,” Carr said. “I’m amazed at the extent to which this continues happening.”

Christensen compared the idea of handing out lip balm, mints, and other novelties as a solution to sexual assault to the much maligned fluorescent yellow belts troops have wear in many situations. Instead of really delving into how to prevent people getting killed while running or doing other activities at night, the Pentagon simply decreed that everyone had to wear the reflective wraps nearly everywhere, nearly all the time, he said.

But this sort of response is especially galling when it comes to sexual violence. Gimmicks like the lip balm “trivializes the impact of sexual assault” and contribute to troops generally “tuning out” the messages, Christensen added.

To really start fixing the problem, Christensen says the Pentagon and its critics both need to recognize that it will be impossible eradicate sexual assault from the military entirely. Instead, the focus needs to be on treating servicemen and women like adults who know it’s a crime, empowering investigators and prosecutors to go after attackers and instill an overall sense of accountability up and down the ranks.

Until then, SAPR offices will easily find themselves spending precious time dealing with promotional missteps than actually advocating for a healthier climate within the services.

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Nuclear trains may be coming back

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are dangerously high. Both sides are complaining that the other has ignored military norms in international airspace and at sea, both have accused the other of violating treaties designed to prevent large-scale war, and both are developing systems to counter the other’s strength.


But, while Russia works on new tanks and bombers and the U.S. tries to get its second fifth-generation fighter fully operational, each side is also looking to a nearly forgotten technology from the Cold War, nuclear-armed trains.

The idea is to construct a train that looks normal to satellite feeds, aerial surveillance and, if possible, observers on the ground, but carries one or more intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Concept art of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear-armed train, the RS-23 Molodets. (Image: Defenseimagery.mil)

These trains would remain in a fortified depot during normal operations. During periods of nuclear brinksmanship, though, they would be dispersed across the country to provide a credible counterstrike if the enemy fires their nukes first.

The trains, if properly camouflaged, would be nearly impossible to target and could launch their payloads within minutes.

Russia got the missile cars to work first and fielded an operational version in 1991. In the early 1990s, America built prototype rail cars for the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison missile system and tested them, but then the Soviet Union collapsed and the project was cancelled.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
One of Russia’s first nuclear-armed trains on display in the Saint Petersburg railway museum. Photo: CC BY-SA 2.5 Panther

Now, Russia has leaked that it is designing and fielding a new version of the trains. The Barguzin missile trains, named for a fierce wind that comes off of Russia’s Lake Baikal, will carry six RS-24 Yars missiles each. Yars missiles can carry up to six independently-targetable warheads with 100-300 kilotons of explosive power each.

The missile cars and fuel tanks are to be disguised as refrigeration cars and will be indistinguishable from regular trains if the weapons live up to the hype. Each will be able to deploy with its own security force and missile personnel for up to 28 days without resupply.

America has been flirting with restarting its nuclear trains, but it doesn’t seem likely. The Air Force awarded study contracts in 2013 to look at the feasibility of a “nuclear subway” system where missile launching trains would have dedicated tracks underground.

China’s Air Force growing in size and technological edge
Concept art for the U.S. Peacekeeper Rail Garrison missile system. Image: San Diego Air Space Museum

But, budget problems that were biting at the Pentagon then have continued to hound it, and mobile launchers are expensive. Plus, most Americans don’t like the idea of nuclear trains running under their feet any more than they like the idea of nuclear trucks driving through their local streets.

The feasibility of Russia’s plans is also suspect. After all, the Russian Defense Ministry is running into worse budget problems than the Pentagon. It’s ability to fund a nuclear-armed train while oil prices are low and its economy is in shambles is questionable at best.

Right now, America’s main counter to Russian nuclear trains, and any other intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, appears to be its missile shields in Europe which could intercept many outbound nuclear missiles.

China has also flirted with nuclear trains. In 2013, Chinese media – whether accidentally or on purpose – leaked footage of a train modified to hold DF-31 and DF-31A missiles which can carry a single 1-megaton nuclear warhead. There were some questions at the times about whether or not the system was truly operational.