Below, we have pulled some notable quotations from the report highlighting the issues that the F-35 faced while dogfighting against an F-16.
“Overall, the most noticeable characteristic of the F-35A in a visual engagement was its lack of energy maneuverability.”
“No effective gun defense was found during this test.”
“The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft. There were multiple occasions when the bandit would’ve been visible (not blocked by the seat) but the helmet prevented getting in a position to see him (behind the high side of the seat, around the inside of the seat, or high near the lift vector).”
“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage in a turning fight and operators would quickly learn it isn’t an ideal regime.”
“Though the aircraft has proven it is capable of high AOA [angle of attack] flight, it wasn’t effective for killing or surviving attacks primarily due to a lack of energy maneuverability.”
As damning as the report is, it’s worth remembering that the aircraft was never truly designed for dogfighting scenarios. Additionally, the test F-35 used in the test dogfight lacked many of the sensor and software upgrades that the fully deployed F-35 will have.
According to Jane’s 360, the F-35 is designed to detect and engage aircraft “on its own medium- to long-range terms.” The plane’s flexible attack range is intended to ensure that the F-35 wouldn’t usually have to engage in dogfights.
Still, the $1.5 trillion F-35’s failure to best an F-16 — a plane that was first introduced into service in 1978, is concerning. Although the F-35 may be designed to overcome rival aircraft at distance, there are is no way to guarantee that a future air war won’t involve frequent dogfights, confrontations for which the F-35 may be ill equipped.
Meanwhile, both Russia and China are currently developing their own fifth-generation fighter jets. Both countries may also intend to sell variants of their jets to the international customers, including Pakistan and Iran.
Ultimately, the F-35 may never need to participate in close-quarter, air-to-air battles. The aircraft is stealthy and may never have to dogfight with regularity.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert isn’t so sure. “Stealth may be overrated,” Greenert said during a speech in February. So in addition to its other problems, the F-35 may find itself nose-to-nose with enemy aircraft more often than military planners expect.
Russia has recently been in the news for its aggressive bomber patrols. Well, the United States has apparently flipped the script with the Russians and done a little bomber patrolling of its own.
According to a report by Reuters, at least one Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker was scrambled to intercept a Air Force B-52H Stratofortress that was flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea along Russia’s border.
Russia Today reported that the B-52 intercept was followed by Moscow scrambling a MiG-31 Foxhound to intercept a Norwegian P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The Norwegian plane was operating in international airspace over the Barents Sea, a location where Russia deploys its force of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The Russian media outlet also noted that NATO is conducting exercises in Romania.
Russia has carried out a number of similar operations against the United States, Japan, and Europe, prompting their own fighter alerts and intercepts. Russia has usually used the Tu-95 “Bear” bomber capable of firing cruise missiles, like the AS-15, in these missions.
The B-52H has been part of America’s arsenal since 1961. According to an Air Force fact sheet, 58 B-52s are in the active inventory, with another 18 in reserve. The B-52 has a top speed of 650 miles per hour, an unrefueled range of 8,800 miles, and can carry up to 70,000 pounds of nuclear or conventional ordnance, including long-range cruise missiles like the AGM-86. It is expected to remain in service until 2040.
The missile lifted off at 12:03 a.m. April 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a program to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.
Another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test Dec. 17, 2013 and again on Sep. 5, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)
The 30th Space Wing commander, Col. John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the U.S. nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.
In a Minuteman test, a so-called re-entry vehicle travels more than 4,000 miles downrange to a target at Kwajalein Atoll near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” Moss said. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”
The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.
A military family had their U-Haul stolen in Georgia during their PCS to Louisiana. Inside the moving van was their infant son’s ashes.
Benjamin and Kassandra Benton were high school sweethearts. When Kassandra found out she was pregnant with baby Wyatt, she didn’t believe the doctor — she was a Neuroblastoma cancer survivor at just seven years old and her entire abdomen was “nuked,” as she called it. “Some people may remember me from Extreme Home Makeover; I’m the one who made necklaces to raise money for kids with cancer,” she shared.
But she was pregnant and 14 weeks along. Kassandra was considered high risk and went into labor at home unexpectedly at just 24 weeks. Ben delivered baby Wyatt who wasn’t breathing while Kassandra continued to hemorrhage. EMS personnel rushed them to the hospital where they were both saved. But they’d spend five months watching Wyatt fight for his life.
Ben headed to Air Force basic training not long after Wyatt’s birth. Kassandra kept him up to date through letters. “Some of the bad things I’d leave out scared that Ben would get discouraged and drop out. It was hard,” she said.
Eventually, she had to call him to come home. Wyatt’s brain shunt was overrun with infection and there was nothing more they could do. “We decided instead of Wyatt living his whole life in the hospital, we’d take him into hospice where he could see the outside … where we could cuddle and enjoy his last days,” Kassandra explained.
On November 12, 2015 he took his last breath.
“We held him. We loved him and we made sure he felt that. He was our world and he still is. Because of Wyatt I have my two beautiful daughters,” Kassandra said. She went into labor early with both girls but because of her experience with Wyatt, she recognized the signs and got to the hospital early. Charlotte and Amelia are here because of him, Kassandra said.
The young family was on their way to Ben’s new duty station at Barksdale Air Force Base when they stopped at a motel in Georgia for the night. When they awoke, their U-Haul was gone. Although it was found days later, it was empty except for a few bags of clothes. Wyatt’s ashes, hand and footprints and hand mold were still gone. It was all they had left of him.
A local nonprofit near Barksdale Air Force Base has stepped forward to help. EveryWarrior is offering a $3,000 reward through the Covington, Georgia Police Department for the return of Wyatt’s remains. The military spouses at the base have also rallied behind the Benton family, establishing a GoFundMe page to support their needs.
In the end though, they just want Wyatt’s remains returned safely and don’t care about the rest of their stolen things. Kassandra has pleaded through every media interview for the person who took his ashes to please “have heart” and bring him home. For the Benton family, it feels like they are mourning his loss all over again.
In a Facebook post on March 6, 2021 she pleaded once again. “Keep sharing, keep looking, and keep the hope. I believe, I have to believe Wyatt will find his way back to me. It’s the only thing keeping me going. And a THANK YOU! To everyone who is helping us on this search, and who’s donated for my family, and who is praying for us. You are our village…”
If you have information about Wyatt’s stolen remains, please contact the Covington Police Department at 770-786-7605.
As everyone watches the event in Oregon, which so far isn’t really a standoff, reporters are trying to figure out who the 12-150 people in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building are.
Ryan Payne speaks with Youtube vlogger Pete Santilli about the militia occupation of federal buildings at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Youtube/Pete Santilli Show
Ryan Payne, a former soldier, is among them. He has been a prominent presence in the buildup to the occupation of the buildings in Oregon and claimed to have lead militia snipers who targeted — but didn’t fire on — federal agents during the showdown at the Bundy ranch in Nevada in 2014.
Payne claimed to be a Ranger on internet forums and during interviews early in the Bundy ranch standoff, but it’s been pointed out by a number of stolen valor sites that Payne never earned a tab.
“It’s all in the Ranger handbook,” Payne once said. “The Ranger handbook is like the quintessential fighting man’s story. You know, how to do this—everything to be a fighting guy. And having served in that type of unit, that was my Bible. I carried it around on me everywhere I went.”
The only Ranger-type unit Payne was in was the West Mountain Rangers, a militia that is likely not associated with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Payne did serve in the Army and likely did some awesome stuff as a member of the 18th Airborne Corps Long Range Surveillance Company during the invasion of Iraq. The LRS is comprised of paratroopers who move behind enemy lines and conduct reconnaissance on enemy forces. But any paratrooper knows the difference between being Airborne and being an Airborne Ranger.
The difference is at least two months of grueling training, longer for the 34 percent of graduates who have to recycle at least one phase of the 61-day course. The difference is an assignment to one of the three battalions of the storied Ranger Regiment. The difference is earning the scroll, tab, and beret that are worn by actual Rangers.
It was after members of the Ranger community called him out that Payne switched from touting his fictional credentials as a Ranger to his actual “achievements” of targeting federal police officers with sniper rifles.
While many Westerners associate Islamic State propaganda with violence and beheadings, the terror group also likes to showcase its deceptively “softer” side to those within its territory in the Middle East, as a Vocativ analysis showed this week.
And given that their target audience is disaffected Sunnis living in war-torn Iraq and Syria, the plan is working.
Videotaped beheadings and action-packed fighting scenes might be effective recruitment tools for young people who are thinking about traveling to Syria to fight with the militants, but the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) knows that winning hearts and minds is just as important to its longevity.
Vocativ notes that “in the areas it already controls or is fighting to take over, almost half of what [ISIS] broadcasts has a positive theme to it. ‘Come to the Islamic State,’ is the message. ‘There is fun here, and food, and services.'”
ISIS markets itself as an Islamic utopia that can provide happiness and stability its residents. In addition to enforcing a strict interpretation of Sharia law, ISIS sets up schools and consumer protection bureaus in the areas of Iraq and Syria it holds.
And apparently, ISIS also operates a mall and amusement park near Mosul, Iraq:
The above propaganda video shows children playing and residents talking about how much better life is now that ISIS has moved in and taken control of Mosul.
The video makes no mention of the headless bodies that can also be seen in the streets of ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate,” an aspirational Islamic empire that aims to unite the world’s Muslims under a single religious and political entity.
With its civil services and positive propaganda, ISIS seeks to build a sense of community within its caliphate. And given that many ISIS members are from disaffected Sunni communities, the group has a natural advantage over Westerners in uniform trying to win hearts and minds.
Recruiting with camaraderie
ISIS also uses positive propaganda, along with more brutal propaganda, to bring in foreign fighters replenish their ranks on the battlefield.
In an extensive analysis of ISIS propaganda for the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation, Charlie Winter noted that the idea of belonging is “one of Islamic State’s most powerful draws to new recruits,” especially Westerners who are thinking of traveling to the caliphate.
“Through their regular publication of, for example, videos and photographic reports depicting istirāḥat al-mujāhidīn — fighters relaxing with tea and singing with each other — the propagandists emphasise the idea of brotherhood in the ‘caliphate,'” Winter wrote.
“The carefully branded camaraderie that one is absorbed into upon arrival in Islamic State-held territories is, as the propagandists would have their audiences believe, almost overwhelming.”
ISIS “recognize[s] that offers of friendship, security and a sense of belonging are powerful draws for its supporters abroad,” Winter wrote.
But ISIS doesn’t just want to attract fighters who are willing to die on the battlefield for their cause. They also see women and families as crucial to their long-term quest for dominance and control of territory.
In their recent book “ISIS: The State of Terror,” Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger noted that ISIS leadership says “hijrah (or emigration) to the land of Islam is obligatory” for all Muslims. They recruit doctors, administrators, engineers, scholars, and women who could marry future martyrs and bear their children.
“They’re the first terrorist group that aren’t interested in [just] fighters, they want families to come,” Patrick Skinner, director of special projects at The Soufan Group, told Vocativ. “They need women and children, they believe they have a state, they now need a future. A lot of people are going there just to live in the caliphate.”
The propaganda depicting bucolic settings and a fully functioning society is obviously false.
ISIS’ caliphate is extremely violent, and militants loot homes, tax residents heavily, and behead opponents. Some who have decamped for ISIS territory have desperately sought to return to their home countries after realizing that the reality on the ground is vastly different from the propaganda they saw online.
Nevertheless, ISIS is still seeing foreigners stream into their territory (many through the Turkish border), and the US is trying to come up with ways to counter the propaganda and come up with an effective counter-narrative.
And as you can see in the above GIF from a similar exercise, the fighters don’t need anywhere near a mile of road. The minimum takeoff distance for an F-18C on a flat surface is 1,700 feet, about 0.33 miles. The Finnish F-18 taking off in the video is using a downhill slope, letting it gather speed a little more quickly and get off the road.
Relations between Vladmir Putin’s Russia and the west have been frosty since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 but have worsened in recent months over the role Russia has played in the Syrian civil war.
Putin’s Russia has gone through a significant transformation since the president’s re-election in 2012. It had the world’s fourth-largest defence budget in 2015, at a cost of $66.4 billion (£46 billion).
For that, the state boasts 845,000 troops, 22,550 tanks, and 1,399 combat aircraft.
The army is being split into smaller, more dynamic brigades. The focus is on new technologies rather than brute manpower. (For instance, this Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft system is basically a tank with a load of extra cannons sticking out of it.)
Here’s a review of some of Russia’s more menacing military machines.
Bora-class guided-missile hovercraft: This ship is actually a catamaran with a base that turns it into a hovercraft. Armed with eight Mosquito missiles and 20 anti-aircraft missiles, the ship has a crew of up to 68 sailors and a cruising speed of 100km per hour.
The Pantsir-S1: A combined short-to-medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft missile system. The system consists of 12 surface-to-air guided missiles and two 30-mm automatic guns effective against planes, helicopters, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.
A virtually invisible submarine: The first of six diesel-electric stealth submarines, the Novorossiysk was launched from a St. Petersburg shipyard last year. Its designers say its stealth technology makes it virtually undetectable when submerged.
The Mig-35 multirole jet fighter: Effective both in air-to-air combat and precision ground strikes. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 2,400 km per hour despite being 30% larger than its predecessor, the Mig-35 is able both to dogfight and destroy sea and surface targets from long range, as well as conduct air reconnaissance missions.
The BUK-2 missile system: This is the battery that allegedly brought down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Its 9M317 missiles can reach 46,000 feet at Mach 3, carrying 154-pound warheads.
The RS-24 Yars: A thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile system that can carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads with a range of 10,000 miles. Designed to replace Topol-M ballistic missiles, it has been operationally deployed since 2010. Each missile has the power of 100 “Little Boys” — the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.
“The Russian Concorde”: The Tupolev Tu-160 is the world’s largest supersonic combat aircraft. It was designed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It boasts the most powerful engines ever on a combat aircraft and can hold 40,000kg of weaponry. There are 16 in service.
The T-90: The most advanced battle tank used by the Russian armed forces. Its main weapon is a 125mm smoothbore gun with anti-tank capabilities, but it also boasts a remote-controlled anti-aircraft heavy machine gun.
At 14,700 tonnes, Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines are slightly smaller than their predecessors, the massive Typhoon-class. But with a capacity of 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each carrying six to 10 warheads with a range of 8,300km, they are still a force to be reckoned with.
The Russian Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter: This is the go-to attack helicopter for the Russian air force and army. Its basic armament is a 30mm Shipunov underslung auto-cannon and wingstubs that can carry up to four anti-tank missiles, rocket pods, or gun pods.
The S-300: Another long-range surface-to-air missile system, the S-300 is a beast at bringing down aircraft. In fact, it can take out six planes at the same time, with 12 missiles per target. Anything in the air within 300km should watch out.
In World War II, the battleship Yamato dwarfed nearly all others, and many Japanese ships were larger than their American counterparts. But how was Japan, a relatively small country with limited natural resources, able to construct larger ships than America?
First, Japan started early with the knowledge that it wanted a naval force capable of widespread offensive warfare. But it also benefitted from specializing. Since the Imperial Navy wanted to dominate the Pacific, they didn’t need to make their ships capable of transiting the Panama Canal like America did.
Of course, making the world’s greatest battleships came with plenty of engineering challenges.
The designers of the Yamato had to figure out how to keep a floating platform steady when it fired 18-inch guns, each of which fired a shell roughly the same weight as a car. How can such a large ship be made to sail smoothly through the water quickly?
In this video from PBS, interviewers speak with historians and experts, including a Japanese engineer who served during World War II. Watch it below to see how Japanese designers ensured the ship would be battle ready:
In the end, the Yamato was never able to live up to its glorious design. It took some small part in battles in the Pacific but frequently found itself in the wrong spot on the battlefield to bring its weapons to bear.
One of its few claims to fame was inflicting damage on a small number of U.S. ships in the Battle off Samar.
In April 1945, the Japanese Navy decided to beach the Yamato on Okinawa and use it as a fortress and gun platform for as long as possible before U.S. ships and planes destroyed it.
The main trailer for ‘Dunkirk’ is out, and it seems that Christopher Nolan will be telling the amazing story of Operation Dynamo from all angles as weekend sailors, Royal Air Force pilots, nurses, fishermen, and others appear in the footage.
Operation Dynamo, often called “The Miracle at Dunkirk,” was the evacuation of nearly 400,000 British and allied troops from the coast of France in 1940 after the German blitzkrieg cut through Allied defenses much faster than anyone anticipated.
The German invasion was expected to take months, but Nazi forces slashed a corridor through France to the English Channel in just over two weeks before they halted their advance. But the Nazis hadn’t been stopped by force of arms.
Rather, the high command decided that they didn’t want to risk panzers in pitched fighting near Dunkirk. So the German army kept the expeditionary force pinned down on the beach and sent the Luftwaffe to kill British ships in the English channel and strafe and bomb survivors on the beaches.
On May 26, the British launched Operation Dynamo, a Hail Mary attempt to rescue those dying troops through Royal Navy assets and, when those proved to be too few, hundreds of small fishing and pleasure boats piloted by civilians. Nearly 340,000 troops were evacuated from May 26 to June 4.
Previous trailers for Nolan’s movie about the event have focused on the plight of soldiers on the beach who waited for days, sometimes in shoulder-deep water while under fire from the Luftwaffe, for rescue. The new trailer shows them, but it also spends a lot of time on a father crossing the channel with his sons, as well as the nurses and pilots who made the mission possible.
It looks like World War II buffs may get to see one of the war’s most miraculous moments played out on the screen through perspectives of everyone who made it possible. Many of the troops rescued from the beaches went on to fight in North Africa, the D-Day landings, and on to Berlin.
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. Since it’s 4th of July, we found the most patriotic photos among the best military shots:
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) arrived in Yokosuka to join the forward deployed naval forces deployed to Japan. Like and share to welcome the Chancellorsville crew to the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Sailors engage in a simulated aircraft fire in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman is underway conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) off the east coast of the United States.
The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs during the sunset parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Va., June 30, 2015. The Honorable Mr. Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of Defense, was the guest of honor for the parade, and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, was the hosting official.
Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia – Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, presents medals to the Marine Corps Sitting Volleyball Team during the Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
U.S. Airmen with the Bagram Air Field Honor Guard stand ready to present the colors during the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing change of command ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, July 1, 2015.
Thunderbirds Solo pilots perform the Opposing Knife Edge Maneuver during the Minnesota Air Spectacular practice show June 25, 2015, at Mankato Regional Airport, Minnesota.
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief, assigned to the Alaska National Guard, conducts water bucket operations during a firefighting mission south of Tok, Alaska.
Paratroopers, assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct an airborne operation on Malamute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“I will ensure that my superiors rest easy with the knowledge that I am on the helm, no matter what the conditions.” – Surfman’s Creed
In January the U.S. Central Command announced that U.S. and coalition airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria destroyed some 184 Humvees, 58 tanks and nearly 700 other vehicles. The number of ISIS military vehicles destroyed may seem significant, but is really just a drop in the bucket compared to the militants’ overall firepower.
While specific numbers are difficult to come by, reports suggest that ISIS has a huge fleet of vehicles – including tanks – its possession. Last year, for example, the jihadists captured 2,300 Humvees from Iraqi forces when they captured the city of Mosul, some of which were then converted to armored vehicles.
Unlike traditional nation states ISIS doesn’t produce tanks or other weapons in factories, and unlike past insurgent forces that were supported by a nation state ISIS isn’t being armed or equipped by a major power either. Yet the group’s fleet of vehicles continues to grow. In May ISIS captured U.S.-built equipment, including M1A1 tanks after the group took control of the town of Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. The militants’ haul reportedly included about 100 wheeled vehicles and dozens of tracked vehicles.
There should be concern that ISIS has become so well armed, experts warn. In addition to modern military hardware, militants have also captured Cold War-era weaponry from Syrian forces. The nation was supported throughout the Cold War by the Soviet Union and built up vast quantities of Warsaw Pact armaments. Today those weapons – everything from AK-47 assault rifles to T-72 main battle tanks – are being utilized by all sides in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
“Syrian rebel groups probably make the most extensive use of heavy equipment at the moment, thanks largely to battlefield successes,” Jeremy Binnie, Middle East/Africa Editor for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, told FoxNews.com. “But that is also a product of the Syrian military’s vast inventory of Soviet-era weapons and equipment, (as well as) its inability to destroy this materiel after it has been captured.”
Many of these Syrian rebels likely served in the military at some point and this may provide them with the knowledge to operate and, more importantly, maintain the equipment.
There is a growing concern that these weapons have allowed groups to operate more like an actual army than merely as insurgents. This has enabled them to take and actually hold ground. ISIS has not only tanks but towed field guns and artillery pieces, which allow the group to conduct shelling against Iraqi military targets from a great distance; as well as fixed anti-aircraft guns and even shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weapons. Each of these presents serious problems. While the fixed anti-aircraft guns threaten coalition aircraft, shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weapons could take down a commercial airliner.
“Rocket-fired grenades and shoulder-launched missiles have long been available in black markets in the Middle East and Africa, but this higher-end stuff is coming from other sources,” Seth Jones, director of international security and defense policy center at the RAND Corp. told FoxNews.com. “This really shows that conventional weapons are a reason for concern. In many ways we’re largely past the stage of nuclear proliferation unless it was provided by a state, and that isn’t likely to happen. However, these anti-aircraft weapon systems of all sizes are still a reason for concern.”
Armored vehicles are increasingly a problem as well, and one factor is that tanks – especially Soviet era ones – aren’t that difficult to maintain and are difficult to destroy.
“Modest investment in an old tank can become a successful weapons platform,” David Willey, curator of The Tank Museum in the U.K., told FoxNews.com. “Today’s modern anti-tank weapons now cost as much as what an old tank costs on the black market, so it makes destroying a tank an expensive proposition.”
The cost factor is largely because western doctrine in destroying a tank is far different to the likely tactics of a rebel force. “There is the cost of flying a combat aircraft and its weapons system,” Robert Farley, assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, told FoxNews.com.
Rebel groups might just as easily use a gasoline bomb – much like the Finnish-devised “Molotov Cocktail” of World War II – or other IED (improvised explosive device) added Farley. It may be rare that such improvised weapons could truly take out a tank but it would certainly put the crew at risk, especially if they are not locked inside the tank.
ISIS and other rebel groups, have largely, not attempted their own aerial sorties, despite the fact that combat aircraft from Iraq and Syria have also been captured.
“There are number of reasons why ISIS hasn’t taken to the sky, even as there are reports that they do have people who could fly,” Farley told FoxNews.com. “In the case of Iraq there are Sunni pilots who are likely fighting with ISIS, and the group even likely has maintenance crews who could prepare the planes for flight.”
However, there are logistics to overcome, including the lack of proper fuel, not to mention spare parts. There is also the fact that a single plane can only do so much.
“You drive a tank down the road, and if it breaks you still have a tank that you can repair and the crew, which can still fight,” Farley added. “If you put a vintage Soviet Mig21 in the air and it crashes it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
The final equation for why ISIS aircraft remains grounded is likely a psychological, according to Farley, “ISIS knows that there are American fighter jocks who want nothing more than to put an ISIS flag on the cockpit and have a combat air kill. It is quick death for anyone who gets into an ISIS plane.”
In fact, ISIS is just one of several group that have built up powerful arsenals that include weapons that were typically only fielded by major powers.
“The extent to which non-government forces use heavy weapons typically depends on the level of external support they receive, the local availability of such equipment, and their ability to maintain it,” Binnie told FoxNews.com. “The Polisario Front [in Western Sahara] has numerous Soviet-era armored vehicles thanks to Algerian support rather than victories over the Moroccan military.”
Other nations such as Libya and Iran have been the alleged suppliers of weapons to groups such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi large quantities of weapons have flown out of Libya and across the region. This included not only Gaddafi’s vast caches of convention weapons but also small arms and other weapons intended to be used by the Libyan rebels. Now some of these weapons are reportedly in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked militants and other radicalized groups.
“It is certainly unhelpful to the west that a range of rebel groups in Africa, the Middle East and as far away as South East Asia have acquired everything from small arms to tanks,” added Rand Corp.’s Jones. “It has facilitated their ability to achieve their objectives and there isn’t enough emphasis that this access to weapons has given rise to rebel groups.”
Al Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and other groups certainly could have gotten weapons on the black market, but the lack of stable governments in Libya and Syria have made it easier for these groups to get armed – and with weapons past insurgents might have only dreamt of possessing.
“The collapse of the Libyan military in 2011 has allowed many of the militias in that country to obtain heavy equipment,” added Binnie. “The same is true in Iraq after the military collapse in 2014, although the ISIS struggles to keep that equipment operational due to coalition airstrikes and probably a lack of spares and familiarity with U.S. equipment.”
While the ISIS arsenal remains an ongoing concern for the U.S. and its allies in Operation Inherent Resolve, other shadows of the Cold War remain visible in the Middle East. The Pentagon, for example, has been warily eyeing a Russian military buildup in Syria as Moscow protects its interests in the civil-war ravaged country.
Every Memorial Day we remember those veterans who have departed or paid the full measure. But how do they want to be remembered? I believe I know.
Assigning meaning to Memorial Day can be more difficult than Veteran’s Day. On Veteran’s Day, we can shake a hand (bump an elbow) and thank them for their service. Memorial Day, on the other hand, is much more introspective. Fresh flowers and flags on the rows are designed not only to honor, but to remind us of the awesome sacrifices that come with freedoms we enjoy. These concepts are noble, but to be honest, I usually found myself thinking much more locally. I often recall my great uncle who bore a tremendous sense of guilt over his younger brother’s ultimate sacrifice on “The Rock”, Corrigedor toward the end of World War II.
Like so many stories of that time, three brothers – my grandfather Frank and his two younger brothers Emanuel “Mindy” and Maurice “Morsie” all served in combat in the Army during WWII. At the start of the war in Europe, Frank was already an ROTC grad, and an officer with the Corps of Engineers. Mindy was back home in Ohio running the family hardware store. When the clouds of war began to gather and it became clear America’s involvement was inevitable, he convinced himself and his friends that the best thing to do was to enlist together and get into “parachute school” so they could all make a higher rate of pay than your basic GI. (PS: There was no question why Mindy was chosen to run the family business.) In this posse who made their way to the recruiter’s office that day (seven in all) was Mindy’s younger brother Morsie, then just barely 18, still in high school.
Of all those men that day, all but one washed out of jump school: Morsie. He took Mindy’s advice even further by training to become a combat medic and went to war an SP5. Having jumped his way into combat all the way down the South Pacific, on his fateful day (in fulfillment of MacArther’s promise), the planes faced tricky winds – they jumped too low, and many – including Morsie – did not survive the landing. His older brother Mindy never forgave himself. His only consolation was to admit so much every time he told us Morsie’s heroic story.
This year, for the first time, I figured out how Morsie wants to be remembered. On April 6, 2020, the most decorated officer of the 82d Airborne and Medal of Honor nominee Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Magellas died at age 103. I had the good fortune in 2014 to have interviewed him for an article I wrote in US Veteran’s Magazine that same year. Maggie had left such an impression on me that we stayed in touch over the years. Upon his passing, I went back to his interview and reflected on his brand of leadership philosophy. However, what caught my attention was the part of the interview where he discusses how veterans want to be remembered. Like a voice from beyond, Maggie was telling me first hand how he saw his legacy. It spoke directly to us all in 2021.
On this first Memorial Day since his passing, here is that transcript:
“What was it we were fighting against (in WWII)? It threatened those things that we hold dear: rule of law, anti-discrimination, respect for others. We were against violence … instead of hatred, we believed in tolerance. The enemy embodied all those things, and that’s what we fought.”
“When I was with the guys, I never knew whether they were Republicans or Democrats or where they came from. It made no difference; that was never a factor, ever or since. What held us together was the adversity we were facing together and looking out for each other.” Maggie said, pointing at me for emphasis.
“Respect the other guy.” He paused for effect. “We are not all the same; diversity is what makes us great … [the Allies] were against gangs and against violence and bullying,” Maggie said, voice animated.
Off record Maggie told me that he decided at some point to stop speaking and taking questions about his battlefield experiences and leadership decisions. He understood the interest in it but thought there was something far more important that he wanted to talk about. He was afraid that we were losing our respect for one another. When asked about the war his stock answer became “it’s all in my book.” (His book All the Way to Berlin is considered one of the best accounts of the American European campaign, and was source material for the film and series Band of Brothers.)
He then decided to go to schools and military bases and speak to youth about integrity and leadership. By 2014, when I interviewed him, he had done more than 250 speeches, ranging from high school students in Phoenix, Arizona, to active 82nd Airborne troops in Afghanistan. With a razor sharp mind at 97, he spoke like a philosophy professor to those who he believed are the true “legacy of every veteran”. Here is an excerpt from one of his speeches to high school students:
“You are in a beautiful school because someone paid the price. If you want to honor me, and you want to honor veterans, then you will bide your lives along those principles for which we fought … I’ve left a lot of buddies that I buried over there who lost their lives so you could come to this beautiful school … we fought to preserve our way of life.”
It’s as if Maggie is speaking to us all this Memorial Day 2021, as we emerge into a post-COVID world of separation, with so many things designed to bring out our worst nature, tribalism and partisanship. We must use this day for its purpose to let their sacrifice bring us together and refresh our resolve to care for each other, respect one another, one and all.
So on this Memorial Day, I have decided to remember my uncle Morsie – not by lamenting where he fell, but by celebrating where he rose. Taking his brother’s sage advice, he challenged and educated himself to excellence in all his actions in service to our way of life, and moreover in service to his brethren as a combat medic. I also thank Maggie for recalibrating how we should all be remembering our veterans, and the character we should bring as a country in their honor. Defense of our way of life does not refer to the maintenance of a prosperous economy, but truly a nation of citizens who strive to accept and respect everyone equally, and who can celebrate in its own diversity.
In closing, I send Maggie’s message to our students and their parents who struggled through a hard year, and need to hear his words more now than ever. Maggie said, “I always speak to students, because if [veterans] have a legacy to leave, it’s got to be with the students. If our service changes the life of one child, it was worth it.”
Yes, Maggie, it was worth it. Thank you and God Bless your soul.
Frank Connelly serves as producer for ‘Those Who Serve,’a feature-length documentary, that gives a compelling and personal look at three psychologically wounded American combat veterans who committed crimes and now struggle to find a just outcome in our nation’s courtrooms.