The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that's had its own share of problems - We Are The Mighty
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The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Photo: Lockheed Martin


The F-35 has become notorious for its stratospheric price tag, along with the plane’s host of mechanical and software problems.

The cost of the US’s fifth-generation fighter has already risen to approximately $400 billion with a projected lifetime operating cost of $1.5 trillion. The Marines are still set on launching the F-35 in the near term despite its incomplete software package.

These problems apply to the F-35’s helmet as well. Each F-35 helmet costs over $400,000, the Washington Post reports. And like the F-35, the helmet has had its own run of development setbacks and cost overruns.

Each visor is designed to function as a heads-up display that will work in conjunction with six high resolution cameras embedded in the skin across the F-35. Ideally, during flight the pilot would be able to see through the walls of the jet as images from the cameras are displayed in real time across the visor surface.

“When the helmet’s tuned correctly to the pilot’s eyes, you almost step into this other world where all this information comes in. You can look through the jet’s eyeballs to see the world as the jet sees the world,” Al Norman, an F-35 test pilot, told The Washington Post.

This enhanced situational awareness would allow the pilot to see enemy aircraft and targets on the ground that the sides of the cockpit might otherwise obscure. The visor also displays critical information about speed and altitude.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

But the helmet, like the rest of the F-35, ran into operational problems.

According to testing from the Department of Defense, turbulence and buffeting of the aircraft could cause significant display issues within the helmet.

The report stated that during basic offensive and defensive maneuvers the conditions negatively effected the display, a problem that could have “the greatest impact in scenarios where a pilot was maneuvering to defeat a missile shot.”

In addition, the Post noted that the helmets suffered from night-vision and streaming issues that caused motion sickness among pilots. Fortunately these problems have largely been resolved, although the green glow associated with the night vision is still a persistent issue.

More from Business Insider:

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

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The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Becky R. asks: Why do they use 21 guns in the 21 gun salute?


The 21-gun salute that we know today has its roots in the ancient tradition of warriors demonstrating their peaceful intentions by resting the point of their weapons on the ground.

The notion of making a soldier’s weapons useless to show that he came in peace continued even as warfare changed over the centuries. Gunpowder and cannons became commonplace among militaries and private forces, both on land and at sea around the 14th century. In order for a ship entering a foreign port to show those on shore that they came in peace, the captain would have his crew fire the guns. This rendered the weapons inoperable for a period of time, with early guns only being capable of firing a single shot before crews needed to reload them.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems

Traditionally when a British ship entered into a foreign port, it would fire its guns seven times. The reason for the seven shots is widely debated to this day. One theory states that the majority of the British ships at this point only carried seven guns and so firing seven shots became the standard to signal those on shore that the ship was now unarmed. Ships carried enough gunpowder and ammunition to reload multiple times, but beyond symbolism, the idea here was that the lengthy process of reloading would allow the soldiers onshore more than enough time to disable the ship with their own weapons if needs be.

Another proposed theory for the number seven relates to the Bible. After creating the world, the Bible states that God rested on the seventh day (or for the seventh “event”- there is some debate over the “day” vs. “event” translation). So it has been theorized that the number could have been chosen in reference to its Biblical significance, perhaps of resting with the ship coming to port after a long journey. Yet another theory stems from the pervasive superstitious nature of sailors combined with the historic notion in certain regions that the number 7 is sacred, and that odd numbers are lucky and even unlucky. In fact, for a time it was common to use an even number of shots to signify the death of a ship captain when returning from the voyage the death occurred on.

Whatever the underlying reason, the guns onshore would return fire as a form of welcome once the incoming ship finished firing the seven rounds. However, the shore bound guns fired three rounds for every one fired by the incoming ships, putting the total number of shots fired at twenty-one in these cases. As with the “7” number, it’s not known precisely why in the regions that used this number scheme that they chose a 3 to 1 ratio.  What is known is that as time went on where this was practiced, it became traditional for the ships themselves to start firing off 21 shots as well, perhaps due to the ships becoming larger and being equipped with more guns, with the captains ostensibly preferring a 1 to 1 salute.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Photo: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Oscar L Olive IV

This then brings us to when firing the 21 shots became considered a type of official salute, rather than a symbolic way to indicate peaceful intentions.  This seems to have started around 1730 when it became a recognized salute to British government officials. Specifically, the British Navy allowed its ships and captains the option to perform the 21-gun salute as a way to honor members of the British Royal Family during select anniversaries. About eighty years later, in 1808, the 21-gun salute officially became the standard salute to honor British Royalty.

While the British Navy adopted the 21-gun salute in 1808 as the standard, other nations, such as the United States, didn’t adopt it until much later. In fact, the United States War Department decided in 1810 to define the “national salute” as having the same number of shots as there were states in the nation. That number grew every year that a new state joined the Union.  Needless to say, this quickly became a cumbersome way to salute the United States and its dignitaries.

That said, the United States did make the “Presidential Salute” a 21-gun salute in 1842, and in 1890 officially accepted the 21-gun salute as the “national salute.” This followed the 1875 British proposal to the United States of a “Gun for Gun Salute” of 21-guns to honor visiting dignitaries.  Essentially, the British and French, among other nations, at this point were all using 21 guns for their salutes, but the U.S. system required many more shots for their dignitaries.  Besides needing to fire off more cannons, this also potentially signified greater honor to the U.S. dignitaries than to those of other nations. Thus, the British proposed a 1 for 1 shot, with 21 being the number, which was accepted by the U.S. on August 18, 1875.

The 21-gun salute still represents a significant honor today. In the United States, the 21-gun salute occurs to honor a President, former president, or the head of foreign state. It can also be fired in order to honor the United States Flag. The salute also occurs at noon on the day of the funeral of a President, former President, or President-elect along with on Memorial Day.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Photo: US Navy

You may have noticed that there’s no mention of the 21-gun salute occurring during military funerals and that’s a common misconception. Known as the “3 Volleys,” the salute that occurs during soldiers’ funerals follows a battlefield tradition where both sides stopped fighting so that they could remove their dead from the field. The series of three shots, or volleys, let the other side know that the dead had been taken care of and that that battle could resume. Therefore the number of volleys is more important than the actual number of shots. Even the United States Army Manuel’s section on the Ceremonial Firing Party at a funeral named the number of riflemen as between five and eight, rather than an exact number.

Bonus Facts:

  • When ships were engaged in battle during the 14th century, the common practice was that the captured or defeated ship needed to expend all of its ammunition in order to make it helpless in the presence of the other ship and signify surrender.
  • A 62-gun salute was fired upon the birth of Prince George of England. The 21-gun salute was increased to 41-guns because the guns were fired from a royal park or residence and an additional 21-guns were added in order to pay respect to the city of London.

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This article originally appeared at Today I Found Out. Copyright 2015. Like Today I Found Out on Facebook.

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4 weird things armies fight over

You get into a mammoth fight with another country, and you both have to go for every advantage you can get. In some cases, that means fighting for resources that most people may not realize are all that important. While everyone knows that steel and oil can make and break campaigns, it turns out that everything from coal to fish oil to guano can be important too:


4. Coal

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
The USS Jupiter was a collier ship that carried coal for other American ships before being converted to America’s first carrier, the USS Langley. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

While it’s usually either loved or hated for its role in making electricity, coal was a major fuel source for military operations during the time of America’s Civil War until a little past World War I. Even today, it’s important for industrial processes like forming steel for tanks and ships. And in World War II, Germany exploited a 1920s discovery that allowed them to turn coal into synthetic fuel and oil.

So, that hopefully explains why the Allies and Germans launched raids against coal reserves in and around Europe, often north of the Arctic Circle. The German war machine desperately needed enough fuel to fight on multiple fronts, especially when they began losing their oil fields in North Africa and the Balkans.

3. Diamonds

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
British commandos, like these two in a photo from the St. Nazaire Raid, launched a daring mission to secure Antwerp’s diamonds before the Germans could seize them. (Photo: Public Domain)

Like coal, diamonds are valuable during war for their use in industry. Their physical strength is needed for the manufacture of important items like radar as well as the tools for manufacturing weapons and vehicles.

So, when the Third Reich launched its massive assault through the low countries, Britain sent agents to buy, steal, and capture Dutch diamonds before the Germans could. Most concentrated on buying stockpiles and accepting bags of them from Jewish traders for safekeeping, but one officer actually broke into a massive vault and made away with the jewels just as Nazi paratroopers hit the building.

2. Bat and bird crap

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Guano mines were an important source of saltpeter for munitions production. (Photo: Public Domain)

So, this one is probably the most surprising, but large deposits of bat and bird feces were actually a huge deal from soon after the invention of gunpowder through World War I. That’s because the animals have diets filled with insects and their feces are often filled with saltpeter, one of the key ingredients for gunpowder.

And major countries fought for large crap deposits. Spain invaded Peru and fought an alliance that included Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador over the Chincha Islands in the 1860s. A Confederate regiment had to guard the deposits in Austin, Texas, for use in the Civil War. And one of Japan’s prizes in World War II was Nauru, a crap-soaked island between Hawaii and New Zealand.

1. Fish oil

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
British commandos burn fish oil facilities in the Lofoten Islands in World War II. (Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

Not the stuff you get in capsules from nature made, we’re talking about huge vats of fish fats. The chemicals in the fish fat included glycerine, a crucial propellant for modern weapons. And that high flammability turns fish oil fires into massive columns of black smoke.

In World War II, this turned Norway and other countries that relied on the fishing industry into targets for the two sides. The Germans captured Norwegian fishing villages but failed to fortify them well, so the British and Canadian militaries sent commandos to trash the facilities and burn them to the ground, robbing the Germans of needed supplies and forcing them to defend far-flung facilities.

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This is how a zombie apocalypse is most likely to start in China

A zombie outbreak in pop culture usually starts in the United Kingdom or the United States. However, western countries do not keep quiet for long when it come to a worldwide threat. Communist countries have time and again chosen to suppress information until it is no longer deniable. In 1986, when the Chernobyl disaster happened, the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge a problem until other countries had irrefutable proof something was wrong.

China continues this motif of lies and propaganda to save face when they mess up. In Chinese culture, losing face is worse than the actual mistake. Worse yet is owning up to it because it is seen a sign of weakness.

China would suppress news of an out break

By refusing to admit the truth of the zombie outbreak to the world, the Communist Chinese government aided its spread due to misinformation about what was actually happening.

Zombiepedia, World War Z by Max Brooks

Digging deeper into the cultural phenomena of losing face, the Chinese people, not just the government, would actively deny they are powerless. The country as a whole would lose face if the world called out the CCP when caught in a lie. They would rather invent a scenario where the cause of the outbreak was natural rather than criminal negligence. The Chinese not knowing how the virus is spreading would be another losing face situation. To be seen as ignorant of that knowledge is shameful in Chinese culture.

While the Chinese government is squabbling over how to present the situation on the world stage, the Z virus would spread exponentially. China’s population is around 1.4 billion people – that’s a lot of zombies. In 2019 Chinese “authorities deliberately sacrificed health workers to maintain their lies.” We know what the first thing the CCP would do if there was a zombie virus: lie.

They would use a zombie vaccine as leverage

The civilized world would put politics aside and band together to achieve a common goal. Yet, the Chinese government would use the zombie outbreak as an excuse to profit from the vaccines, blackmail countries to do their bidding and deny them life saving medicine. Once they can no longer deny that there is a problem, they will do everything in their power to make the rest of the world suffer the consequences.

A weaponized Z virus

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
“No, don’t be silly. These are just a precaution. Nothing to see here.” (DoD photo by Senior Airman Carlye D. La Pointe, U.S. Air Force)

China’s bioweapons ambitions are no secret. They actively pursue diseases, then engineer deadlier versions. Regardless of whether a zombie virus was manmade or developed in a lab, the cat is out of the bag. Conveniently, the CCP has been trying to cleanse China of undesirables. All they would have to do is do nothing, as the wanton destruction of the Communist Zombies eats away their political enemies.

Ground Zero

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
“You guys make Raccoon City look like a minor hiccup.” (Sony Pictures)

Instead of China having a Resident Evil Umbrella Corporation-like deliberate response to a zombie outbreak, they would most likely fall flat on their faces. The politicians at the top would continue their caricature-like information suppression tactics. The poor and disenfranchised would suffer the most. Eventually, the rest of the world would have to clean up their mess like always. When you deal with a problem when it’s small, it stays small. Bad news doesn’t get better with time. The Communists will always deny, deflect and lie until it’s too late. The zombie apocalypse is most likely to start in China, not because of deliberate evil, but because of President Winnie the Pooh’s hubris.

Feature image: ahmadreza heidaripoor from Pixabay

Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece.

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Timothy McVeigh’s rhetoric shows the path from soldier to terrorist

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building immediately after McVeigh’s attack. (Photo: NBC News)


Timothy McVeigh was a reserved, withdrawn teenager who was named “Most Promising Computer Programmer” among his high school classmates after he hacked into a government system using his Commodore 64. After dropping out of junior college he joined the U.S. Army and wound up in the infantry. While at Fort Benning he started reading up on sniper tactics, firearms, and explosives.

He was reprimanded by the military for purchasing a “White Power” T-shirt at a Ku Klux Klan protest against black servicemen who wore “Black Power” T-shirts around the army base.

McVeigh was awarded the Bronze Star for his service as a vehicle crewman in the Desert Storm. He was a top-scoring Bradley Fighting Vehicle gunner while attached to the 1st Infantry Division.

As documented in his authorized biography, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh the Tragedy at Oklahoma City, he decapitated an Iraqi soldier with cannon fire on his first day in the war and was happy about it. He said he later was shocked to be ordered to execute surrendering prisoners and to see carnage on the road leaving Kuwait City after U.S. troops routed the Iraqi army.

McVeigh wanted to transfer to United States Army Special Forces (SF) after the war, but he dropped out after he couldn’t keep up with the physical rigors of the program. Shortly after that, McVeigh decided to leave the Army. He was honorably discharged on December 31, 1991.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
McVeigh serving in the Army during Desert Storm.

He wandered around working menial jobs after he transitioned out of the military, growing increasingly reactionary in his views. He left the Buffalo area because it was “too liberal” and set out looking for his former Army buddies.  Along the way he wrote letters to newspaper editors that revealed his political views:

Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate “promises,” they will increase. More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement. They mess up. We suffer. Taxes are reaching cataclysmic levels, with no slowdown in sight. Is a Civil War imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.

McVeigh also wrote to Representative John J. LaFalce (D-NY) complaining about the arrest of a woman for carrying mace:

It is a lie if we tell ourselves that the police can protect us everywhere at all times. Firearms restrictions are bad enough, but now a woman can’t even carry Mace in her purse?

While visiting friends in Michigan, McVeigh complained that the Army had implanted a microchip into one of his butt cheeks so that the government could keep track of him.

McVeigh worked long hours in a dead-end jobs. He couldn’t get any girls to go out with him. He started gambling obsessively. Unable to pay back gambling debts, he took a cash advance and then defaulted on his repayments. He was enraged when the government told him that he had been overpaid $1,058 while in the Army and he had to pay back the money. He wrote another angry letter to the government:

Go ahead, take everything I own; take my dignity. Feel good as you grow fat and rich at my expense; sucking my tax dollars and property.

He rented an apartment that had no telephone, which had the advantage of making it impossible for his employer to contact him for overtime assignments. He also quit the NRA, viewing its stance on gun rights as too weak.

In 1993, he drove to Waco, Texas during the Waco Siege to show his support. At the scene, he distributed pro-gun rights literature and bumper stickers that read, “When guns are outlawed, I will become an outlaw.”

McVeigh also told a reporter that “the government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. . . . and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.”

He became a fixture on the gun show circuit and worked his way west until he got to Arizona. There he met Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols, two men who shared his radical views about the government. After growing weary of Fortier’s drug use, McVeigh and Nichols headed for Nichols’ farm in Michigan. While there they watched TV coverage of the Waco siege and both became enraged by the government’s heavy-handed attack on the compound there. They decided it was time for action.

McVeigh defined his struggle in a letter to a boyhood friend:

Those who betray or subvert the Constitution are guilty of sedition and/or treason, are domestic enemies and should and will be punished accordingly. It also stands to reason that anyone who sympathizes with the enemy or gives aid or comfort to said enemy is likewise guilty. I have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and I will. And I will because not only did I swear to, but I believe in what it stands for in every bit of my heart, soul and being. I know in my heart that I am right in my struggle. I have come to peace with myself, my God and my cause. Blood will flow in the streets. Good vs. Evil. Free Men vs. Socialist Wannabe Slaves. Pray it is not your blood, my friend.

Working at a lakeside campground near McVeigh’s old Army post, he and Nichols constructed an ANNM explosive device mounted in the back of a rented Ryder truck. The bomb consisted of about 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane.

On April 19, 1995, McVeigh drove the truck to the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just as its offices opened for the day. Before arriving, he stopped to light a two-minute fuse. At 09:02, a large explosion destroyed the north half of the building. It killed 168 people, including nineteen children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 684 others.

On August 10, 1995, McVeigh was indicted on eleven federal counts, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, use of a weapon of mass destruction, destruction by explosives and eight counts of first-degree murder. Among his statements while on Death Row was this:

If there is a hell, then I’ll be in good company with a lot of fighter pilots who also had to bomb innocents to win the war.

He was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001, at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, the first federal prisoner to be executed by the United States federal government since 1963.

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A Holocaust survivor joined the Foreign Legion to get revenge

Maybe the greatest thing about the French Foreign Legion for many of its enlistees is the ability to get an entirely new life upon joining. At least back in the days following World War II, you could. This meant anyone escaping their old life could earn anonymity and a new, French life after a few years of service. 

In the years following World War II, this also meant it was (potentially) full of war criminals. For Eliahu Itzkovitz, a Romanian Jew, there was only one war criminal he cared about, and that criminal did join the foreign legion. Itzkovitz was not about to let him get away with his crimes.

Itzkovitz was born to Jewish parents in Chișinău, which is today the capital of Moldova but in his time was in the Kingdom of Romania. When World War II broke out, Romania’s King Carol II opted to maintain his country’s neutrality, but the stars weren’t aligning for Carol and his traditional allies. The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from continental Europe and the fall of France in 1940 led to opposition to that policy.

Romania’s king turned to Nazi Germany to secure its borders, but the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ceded Romanian territory to the Soviet Union and King Carol II was powerless to do anything about it. He was soon deposed in a Fascist coup that led the new power to join the Axis pact in 1940. 

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
The beginning of the Holocaust in Romania, 1940 (Wikimedia Commons)

Jewish people in Romania began to meet the same fate as others in Nazi-dominated Europe. They were herded into concentration camps, ghettos or were outright murdered in pogroms by Romanian and German soldiers. Eliahu Itzkovitz and his family were deported to a concentration camp in their native Moldavia. 

It was in this prison that young Eliahu Itzkovitz watched a prison camp guard named Stănescu murder his parents. The young boy vowed to get revenge on Stănescu. HIs demand for vengeance helped him survive the war, but when he was liberated by the Soviet Union, he couldn’t find the guard. 

He returned to Romania looking for Stănescu while still a young man. He tracked down a location where he thought he would find his parents’ murder in 1947, but found only the man’s son. Itzkovitz stabbed his son with a butcher knife. He was caught and sentenced to a juvenile prison. Upon his release, the now-communist government of Romania allowed him to emigrate to Israel.

Now an orphan living in the Jewish homeland, he joined the Israeli Defence Forces, determined to never let something like the Holocaust orphan any more Jewish children. Itzkovitz joined a paratrooper brigade a year after joining the IDF. It was here he learned how and where Stănescu managed to escape the Soviet troops in 1945 – he had moved into the French occupation zone of Germany and joined the French Foreign Legion. 

Itzkovitz came up with a plan to exact his revenge. First, he transferred to the Israeli Navy, where he was stationed in Haifa. Eventually, he was sent to the Italian port of Genoa on a supply mission. Once back in Europe, he deserted from the Navy and joined the Foreign Legion himself.

While undergoing basic training in Algeria, he learned that his prey had been sent to French Indochina with the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment, where he was a noncommissioned officer and a squad leader. Itzkovitz volunteered for that same regiment and ended up in Indochina, in Stănescu’s unit. Itzkovitz didn’t strike right away – he waited for the perfect moment. 

The day he long waited for finally arrived on a 1958 patrol near the Vietnamese city of Bac Ninh. Itzkovitz finally confronted the guard that killed his parents in the Holocaust and killed him. He served out the rest of his enlistment with the Foreign Legion. Afterwards, he returned to Paris to face the music for deserting the Israeli Navy. 

The IDF court-martialed Itzkovitz and sentenced him to one year in prison.

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A Spanish woman single-handedly defeated an enemy army with a flagpole

Most people know of Spain’s disastrous effort to invade England with a massive fleet of ships that quickly ended up at the bottom of the English Channel, but that’s not where the rivalry between Spain and England ended. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 happened very early on in a series of wars between the two kingdoms. 

The Anglo-Spanish War (as it’s known today) first broke out in 1585 as an effort to resist the rule of the Habsburg family in the Netherlands, which was controlled by Spain. 

European history at this time was mostly filled with kings and royal families jockeying for power here and there, but during the early years of the conflict between Spain and England, it would be a commoner woman who would set the tone for a while. 

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
The Ark Royal, depicted here by Claes Janszoon Visscher in 1587, was Sir Francis Drake’s flagship (National Maritime Museum, London)

In 1589, England launched an armada of its own against Spain in retaliation for Spain’s armada fiasco. The English Armada was an expedition led by Sir Francis Drake to burn the Spanish Navy while it was undergoing repairs in Santander in Spain. England’s plan was to burn the warships, capture Spanish treasure fleets from the New World, and wrest Portugal from Spanish domination.

That did not happen for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the English Armada never got the chance to torch Santander because bad weather forced the fleet to bypass Santander completely. Instead, they landed their troops at a town called Coruna. 

Coruna was not much of a city. It was populated mostly by fishermen, but legend had it that it had a lighthouse made of gold, which was probably the real reason Drake bypassed Santander. He wanted that golden tower.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Considering the guy’s resumé, we’ll buy that
(Marcus Gheeraerts-Buckland Abbey Collection/ Wikimedia Commons)

The English Armada was much bigger than the Spanish Armada and carried more than 23,000 men. Drake’s massive force overwhelmed the measly defenses of the lower town and a relief force that arrived shortly after. Expecting the attack on Santander, the bulk of the Spanish Army was there and Coruna seemed an unlikely target. Its defenses were a handful of ships, a militia force led by the governor and a civilian named Maria Pita. 

The Spanish defenders abandoned the lower town and retreated to the old, “upper” city. A massive fight between English artillery and Spanish ships resulted in losses on both sides. That night English soldiers looted the areas of the city under their control and murdered civilians. The next day, they prepared to assault the upper part of Coruna. 

After numerous assaults and mines under the old city walls, cracks in the defensive fortifications began to form. The English poured in through the cracks, led by an English commander, believed to be Sir Francis Drake’s brother. Then the women of Coruna arrived on the scene, carrying pikes. They had not forgotten what the English did in the lower city the night before.

The women were led by a commoner and civilian, a woman named Maria Pita. Pita led a charge against the oncoming Englishmen. The English commander, carrying the banner of the army on a spear, met her. She tore the spear from his hands and killed him with it, flag still attached. When the 12,000 Englishmen saw their commander on the wrong end of a spear, they broke and ran. 

Pita then led a counterattack outside the old city walls, following the English to the sea. Completely demoralized, the English failed to capture the sleepy fishing town. Reinforcements from Santander were soon on their way, and the English departed. They lost 1,300 men in the effort and had to leave much of their supplies behind. 

King Philip II gave Maria Pita the rank of “permanent second lieutenant of the city.” The English also failed to capture Lisbon and liberate Portugal from French rule. After sacking a few coastal towns, Drake sailed back to England in failure. 

Feature image: Monument of the heroine Maria Pita in the Square of the Town Hall of A Coruña (Wikimedia Commons)

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The Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden wants you to invest in a new beer company

Robert O’Neill, the former SEAL Team Six operator who is credited for firing the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, has a new venture. This time the only “pop-pop” coming from O’Neill is the pop of a beer tab. 

He has a pre-IPO investment opportunity for anyone who’s both a fan of the armed forces of the United States and of craft brews: Armed Forces Brewing Company

O’Neill made a fun, goofy and at times purposely over-the-top commercial/investment pitch video, recently shared on YouTube. The video takes shots at foreign breweries, beer hipsters and more, all to get you to invest in the company. 

The former Navy SEAL kills aliens, trashes the competition and even pokes fun at himself, referencing the Delta Airlines flight in which he refused to wear a mask and was subsequently banned from the airline. Have a look:

The new venture is a brewing company comprising three brands: Seawolf Brewery, Soldier Brewery and Airmen Brewery. As of July 2021, only two beers under the Seawolf brand appear on the website. Launched by O’Neill and other special operations veterans, it’s designed to pay tribute to all branches of the military (yes, even the Space Force). 

If beers like Special Hops IPA and Cat Shot American Craft Lager sound good to you, then you can not only buy one, you can own a piece of the company. Armed Forces Brewing Company is looking to raise $7.5 million in a campaign to grow its business. With a $200 minimum investment at $10 per share, interested parties can not just get a piece of the company, they can score some fun perks.

According to the investment site, there’s more to the brews than a gimmicky commercial and one of the world’s most famous special operators. The site says its products are brewed by an award-winning brewmaster, that it’s run by successful, seasoned hospitality industry veterans and that there are plans to hire a workforce made up of 70% military veterans.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
The commercial was not clear on whether or not dress blue yoga pants will be issued to employees (screen capture from YouTube)

Right now, the beer is available only in a handful of states but will soon be available in as many as 46. The company also says it’s planning a national expansion and already has a foothold to get three of its beers into military exchange stores.  

As for the perks, $200-$499 will get investors an Armed Forces Brewing Company logo stick, challenge coin, a 5% discount online, along with your name on its online wall of investors and an invitation to the company’s annual shareholder event. Other levels offer VIP access at events, early tastings and even the chance to create and name one of the company’s beers.

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Perks are all well and good for a casual investor who wants a stake in a veteran-owned business. The biggest question for any serious investor is: is it a sound investment? According to the company’s SEC filing, Armed Forces Brewing Company has some big obstacles:

  • It’s a relatively new entity with limited tangible assets and its continued operation may require substantial additional funding
  • The company has a very short operating history and no assurance that the business plan can be executed
  • The company has entered a highly competitive industry and within this highly competitive industry are companies with established track records and substantial capital backing. 
  • The industry in which the company participates is highly speculative and extremely risky.

But there’s no significant reward without significant risk, as Robert J. O’Neill would likely tell you. Armed Forces Brewing Company could become the veteran-owned longshot-turned-competitor, in the vein of great companies like Black Rifle Coffee and Hire Purpose.

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How war memorabilia serves as a window to the past

Many children grow up with parents in the military. It usually means frequent moves, a parent being gone for long periods of time. And there is the possibility that some day an officer and chaplain might turn up, bearing bad news.


Whether the parent is a Green Beret, constantly deploying to a foreign country on missions they can’t talk about, or someone who pushed papers at a desk in a building at a military installation – they all served, and they all knew that there was some measure of risk. And when the parents pass on, what’s left behind are medals, uniforms, photos, and in some cases, films.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina on a patrol during World War II. (US Navy photo)

In this clip, Fred Linden discusses the memorabilia left behind by his late father, Navy Lieutenant Commander Frederick “Bud” Linden, of his service during World War II. His dad flew a Consolidated PBY Catalina – one of the famous “Black Cats” that made the life of many Japanese sailors miserable during the fighting in the Pacific.

Linden’s memorabilia included a map showing the route his father took to the theater he served in, as well as medals.

The two rolls of 16mm color film included in the memorabilia collection showed a wide variety of events during his father’s tour, including bombing raids. The film was preserved through the involvement of Film Corps, an outreach organization that seeks to preserve records like Linden’s.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
PBY Catalinas flying in formation during World War II. (Youtube Screenshot)

“The stuff – the medals and so forth – is not something he’d care about, but he would love to be able to sit down in front of that movie and point out the names of the guys and what they did and things he remembered about them, what happened at the time with the people he was with,” he says. “That would be the most important thing for him”

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Hackers crack Pentagon’s cyber walls more than 130 times

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YouTube


Hackers screened for their good intentions found 138 “vulnerabilities” in the Defense Department’s cyber defenses in a “bug bounty” awards program that will end up saving the Pentagon money, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Friday.

Under the “Hack The Pentagon” program, the first ever conducted by the federal government, more than 1,400 “white hat” hackers were vetted and invited to challenge the Pentagon’s defenses to compete for cash awards.

Of the 1,400 who entered, about 250 submitted reports on vulnerability and 138 of those “were determined to be legitimate, unique and eligible for bounty,” Carter said at a Pentagon news conference.

The lessons learned from the “Hack The Pentagon” challenge, an initiative of the Defense Digital Services started by Carter, came at a fraction of the cost of bringing in an outside firm to conduct an audit of the Pentagon’s cyber-security, he said.

The awards going out total $150,000 while a full-blown cyber audit would have cost at least $1 million, he said. In addition, “we’ve fixed all those vulnerabilities,” Carter said.

No federal agency had ever offered a bug bounty, he noted.

“Through this pilot we found a cost-effective way to supplement and support what our dedicated people do every day,” Carter said.

“It’s lot better than either hiring somebody to do that for you or finding out the hard way,” he said. “What we didn’t fully appreciate before this pilot was how many white-hat hackers there are.”

Carter said the Pentagon had plans to encourage defense contractors to submit their programs and products for independent security reviews and bug bounty programs before they deliver them to the government.

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These are the 12 largest nuclear detonations in history

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
Wikimedia


In a surprise announcement, North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

Pyongyang, which has a history of exaggerating its successes, claims that the test was a “perfect success.”

North Korea also believes that its successful miniaturization of a hydrogen bomb elevates the country’s “nuclear might to the next level.”

Since the first nuclear test on July 15, 1945, there have been over 2,051 other nuclear weapons tests around the world.

No other force epitomizes the absolute destructive power humanity has unlocked in the way nuclear weapons have. And the weapons rapidly became more powerful in the decades after that first test.

The device tested in 1945 had a 20 kiloton yield, meaning it had the explosive force of 20,000 tons of TNT. Within 20 years, the US and USSR tested nuclear weapons larger than 10 megatons, or 10 million tons of TNT. For scale, these weapons were at least 500 times as strong as the first atomic bomb.

To put the size of history’s largest nuclear blasts to scale, we have used Alex Wellerstein’s Nukemap, a tool for visualizing the terrifying real-world impact of a nuclear explosion.

In the following maps, the first ring of the blast is the fireball, followed by the radiation radius. In the pink radius, almost all buildings are demolished and fatalities approach 100%. In the gray radius, stronger buildings would weather the blast, but injuries are nearly universal. In the orange radius, people with exposed skin would suffer from third-degree burns, and flammable materials would catch on fire, leading to possible firestorms.

11 (tie). Soviet Tests #158 and #168

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Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On August 25 and September 19, 1962, less than a month apart, the USSR conducted nuclear tests #158 and #168. Both tests were held over the Novaya Zemlya region of Russia, an archipelago to the north of Russia near the Arctic Ocean.

No film or photographs of the tests have been released, but both tests included the use of 10-megaton atomic bombs. These blasts would have incinerated everything within 1.77 square miles of their epicenters while causing third-degree burns up to an area of 1,090 square miles.

10. Ivy Mike

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CTBTO

On November 1, 1952, the US tested Ivy Mike over the Marshall Islands. Ivy Mike was the world’s first hydrogen bomb and had a yield of 10.4 megatons, making it 700 times as strong as the first atomic bomb.

Ivy Mike’s detonation was so powerful that it vaporized the Elugelab Island where it was detonated, leaving in its place a 164-foot-deep crater. The explosion’s mushroom cloud traveled 30 miles into the atmosphere.

9. Castle Romeo

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Wikimedia Commons

Romeo was the second US nuclear detonation of the Castle Series of tests, which were conducted in 1954. All of the detonations took place over Bikini Atoll. Castle Romeo was the third-most powerful test of the series and had a yield of 11 megatons.

Romeo was the first device to be tested on a barge over open water instead of on a reef, as the US was quickly running out of islands upon which it could test nuclear weapons.

The blast would have incinerated everything within 1.91 square miles.

8. Soviet Test #123

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Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On October 23, 1961, the Soviets conducted nuclear test #123 over Novaya Zemlya. Test #123 used a 12.5 megaton nuclear bomb. A bomb of this size would incinerate everything within 2.11 square miles while causing third-degree burns in an area of 1,309 square miles.

No footage or photographs of this nuclear test have been released.

7. Castle Yankee

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Screengrab | YouTube

Castle Yankee, the second-strongest of the Castle series tests, was conducted on May 4, 1954. The bomb was 13.5 megatons. Four days later, its fallout reached Mexico City, about 7,100 miles away.

6. Castle Bravo

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U.S. Department of Energy

Castle Bravo, detonated on February 28, 1954, was the first of the Castle series of tests and the largest US nuclear blast of all time.

Bravo was anticipated as a 6-megaton explosion. Instead, the bomb produced a 15-megaton fission blast. Its mushroom cloud reached 114,000 feet into the air.

The US military’s miscalculation of the test’s size resulted in the irradiation of approximately 665 inhabitants of the Marshall Islands and the radiation poisoning death of a Japanese fisherman who was 80 miles away from the detonation site.

3 (tie). Soviet Tests #173, #174, and #147

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Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

From August 5 to September 27, 1962, the USSR conducted a series of nuclear tests over Novaya Zemlya.Tests #173, #174, and #147 all stand out as being the fifth-, fourth-, and third-strongest nuclear blasts in history.

All three produced blasts of about 20 megatons, or about 1,000 times as strong as the Trinity bomb. A bomb of this strength would incinerate everything within 3 square miles.

No footage or photographs of these nuclear tests have been released.

2. Soviet Test #219

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Alex Wellerstein | Nukemap

On December 24, 1962, the USSR conductedTest #219 over Novaya Zemlya. The bomb had a yield of 24.2 megatons. A bomb of this strength would incinerate everything within 3.58 square miles while causing third-degree burns in an area up to 2,250 square miles.

There are no released photos or video of this explosion.

1. The Tsar Bomba

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Screengrab | YouTube

On October 30, 1961, the USSR detonated the largest nuclear weapon ever tested and created the biggest man-made explosion in history. The blast, 3,000 times as strong as the bomb used on Hiroshima, broke windows 560 miles away, according to Slate.

The flash of light from the blast was visible up to 620 miles away.

The Tsar Bomba, as the test was ultimately known, had a yield between 50 and 58 megatons, twice the size of the second-largest nuclear blast.

A bomb of this size would create a fireball 6.4 square miles large and would be able to give humans third-degree burns within 4,080 square miles of the bomb’s epicenter.

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7 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

The Marine Corps doesn’t promise you a rose garden.


When potential recruits show up to boot camp, they quickly realize what they are in for. While standing on the yellow footprints at either Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California, young men and women are lined up, berated by drill instructors, and then go through a 36-hour whirlwind of receiving.

And then they have three more months to go. It’s a huge culture shock for civilians who have little idea of Marine culture or what happens at boot camp. The shock leads to some complaints, though they will likely never dare mention it to the drill instructors.

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Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

1. These drill instructors are literally insane.

They scream, use wild gestures, throw things, and run around a room and back again. In the eyes of a recruit, a drill instructor is an insane person, hell-bent on making his or her life a living hell. They kind of have a point.

During the first three days or so of boot camp, receiving drill instructors take recruits to supply, get their uniforms, feed them, and house them, before taking them to their actual DIs that will have them over a period of three months. As trained professionals, the DIs put on a front of being upset about basically everything a recruit does, right or wrong.

2. There’s no way I can put on this uniform in less than 10 seconds.

One of the “insane” things that drill instructors constantly stress is that recruits move fast. Impossibly fast. DIs will give countdowns of everything — from tying your right boot to brushing your teeth — that usually start from very small numbers like 20 seconds that rapidly dwindle depending on how hard the DI wants to make it.

The countdowns induce a level of stress in recruits that are used to completing tasks at a leisurely pace. When a DI says you have ten seconds to put on your camouflage blouse and bottoms, you better not still be buttoning at 11.

3. How are there no freaking doors on these bathroom stalls right now?

Who needs privacy when you are trying to forge a brotherhood of Marines? Walk into any male recruit “head” (aka the bathroom) at the depot and you’ll notice a couple of things: There is a big trough-like urinal with no dividers, and bathroom stalls have no doors on them.

Even during the times when a recruit is used to having maximum privacy, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, there is none. Thankfully, once they are Marines, they will earn their Eagle, Globe, Anchor — and the right to have a bathroom door.

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

4. This recruit really wishes he were treated like a human being.

The moment boot camp begins, drill instructors are teaching recruits that they are pretty much worthless, and they have a long way to go before they earn the title of Marine. Being the “worthless scum” of recruit means not even being able to speak in the first person anymore, and having to ask to do basic human functions, like using the bathroom (often refused on the first request).

No longer can recruits use “I,” “me,” or “my.” Instead, they must say “this recruit” in its place. “Sir, this recruit requests permission to make a sit-down head call,” is the way you ask to go #2. Three months later, it’ll be a bit weird at first when a new Marine can just walk into a bathroom and go.

5. What the hell is fire-watch?

Though it may not seem like it, recruits at boot camp usually get around seven to eight hours of sleep per night. But most will have to pull “fire-watch” during the night. Fire watch, put simply, is guard duty. But unlike a guard duty they may pull in Iraq or Afghanistan behind a machine-gun, guard duty at boot camp means recruits walk around aimlessly in the squad bay for an hour.

Pulling security and protecting your team of Marines is a basic function that recruits need to learn. But it’s also incredibly boring, and seems pretty pointless. And then, sometimes this happens in the middle of it:

6. Going to the head? ‘El Marko’? What language are these people speaking?

The Marine Corps has its own language, and recruits get their first taste of how weird it is during boot camp. There’s naval terminology mixed in with other terms that seem to not make any sense, and it takes a while to pick up. The bathroom is referred to as “the head,” a black Sharpie is now called an “El Marko,” the “quarterdeck” is where the drill instructor “smokes/kills/destroys” recruits.

Suck it up, buttercup. There are plenty more phrases you’ll need to learn in the years to come.

7. These flies are the devil (Parris Island recruit) — or — These airplanes are the devil (San Diego recruit).

The Marine Corps Recruit Depots on the east and west coasts follow similar training programs, so it’s hard to call either one easier or harder than the other. But they do have their own unique quirks. For recruits on the east coast, Parris Island is known for sand fleas, which make their home in the infamous sand pits and humid air of South Carolina. While recruits are getting “thrashed” — doing strenuous exercise — in the pits, sand fleas provide another terrible annoyance. But don’t dare swat one. If you are caught, a drill instructor is likely to scream about an undisciplined recruit and make you hold a funeral for the fallen creature.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems

Meanwhile, San Diego recruits live right by the busy airport downtown. Throughout their time there, they will hear airplanes taking off and landing, and it’s usually not a morale boost. While PI recruits are isolated, San Diego recruits often daydream about being on one of those flights taking off from the nation’s busiest single runway airport.

MORE: Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine boot camp is like

ALSO: 23 terms only US Marines will understand

OR WATCH: Life in the U.S. Marine Corps Infantry

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Navy officer feels the need for NASCAR speed

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Jesse Iwuji wasn’t a race car driver when he entered his first race. The Dallas-area high school football standout and son of first-generation Nigerian immigrants had been recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy to play defensive back. He’d been a big part of three winning seasons with the Midshipmen when he took his stock Chrysler 300 to the Capitol Speedway in Crofton, Maryland to see if he could beat anyone on open drag race night.

That experience fueled his desire to do it again . . . and better. Immediately after he graduated and put on ensign bars in May of 2010 he bought a Dodge Challenger SRT8 and started racing it.

After a year of coaching football at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, Jesse made his way to San Diego for his first fleet tour aboard a mine sweeper. Among his priorities once he got there was to join a car club and locate the nearest raceway. He managed to balance his shipboard duties with drag races on free weekends at a strip 45 minutes away.

His racing was interrupted by a 10-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, but when he returned to San Diego he was able to convert the money he’d saved on cruise into modifications to his Challenger that made it into a 1,000 horsepower scream machine. He took the car to the Mohave Mile and hit 200.9 miles per hour, which made him only the fifth person in the world to reach that speed with a modern HEMI engine.

“I proved you don’t have to be a fancy person to go fast,” he said.

His performance at the Mohave Mile got him the right kind of exposure. A lot of people started following his racing videos on YouTube. He was featured in a number of car magazines, including Hot Rod. That coverage led to performance company sponsorships.

Jesse transferred from sea duty to a shore tour working on the staff at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and as he did he bought a five-year-old Corvette ZO6 with an eye on switching from drag strips to road courses. He spent weekends driving five and a half hours from Monterey to Irwindale in an attempt to learn the ropes required beyond driving fast in a straight line.

“I started learning car control and the different parts of being a good driver,” he said.

Eventually he landed an invitation to try out for a driver slot with Performance P1 Motorsports. After 4 test sessions he was on the team for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season – 11 30-lap races, one every two weeks or so, all of them at Irwindale Speedway.

The F-35 relies on a $400,000 helmet that’s had its own share of problems
(Photo: Eric Win)

Race weekends start with Friday night practice runs. Saturday is race day, including qualifying runs to determine pole position in a field of 20-22 cars.

Jesse’s first race was on April 4. He crashed during a practice run but managed to make the race and finished 15th. He started in the 12th position in his second race a few weeks later but got tangled up with another car and spun out.

“The guy behind me had nowhere to go,” he said. “I got T-boned. That ended my night.”

He finished the third race in 17th place.

Jesse has quickly learned that setting the car up right maintenance-wise is crucial.  “When you don’t have a lot of seat time you don’t necessarily know what’ normal in terms of how the car should feel,” he said.  “The more runs I get the more I’ll know.”

Entry fees for races are between $3,500-$7,000, which is a lot of money for a single lieutenant. But his financial burden has been largely reduced by the Phoenix Patriot Foundation.

“We dedicate each race weekend to a wounded veteran and his family,” he said. “The effort has been widely supported by race officials and others. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give back to the people who’ve made a sacrifice on their behalf.”

Jesse plans on getting out of the Navy at the end of his current tour to pursue bigger things as a NASCAR driver. He hopes to move up to the KN Pro Series soon, driving a bigger car in front of bigger crowds. After that he wants to make it to the Xfinity series and finally the big leagues – the Sprint Cup.

Jesse’s confident he’ll make it all the way. “All the things I’ve learned in the Navy have helped,” he said.  “Some of the biggest drivers haven’t even graduated high school yet. They don’t have real life experiences.  I’ve managed myself in stressful environments, including war zones. That has already helped me a lot out here, along with networking and meeting the right people.”

Jesse’s next NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race is July 4.

For more about the Phoenix Patriot Foundation go here.

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