Here's what it's like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

While the Pentagon has been very adamant with claims that none of the 4,000+ American troops in Iraq are involved in “combat,” American jets have been flying attack sorties against Islamic State (IS) militants. But what exactly goes into getting bombs on the bad guys? Here’s what a day in the life of an aircraft carrier-based crew is like:


The mission cycle begins with CENTCOM’s Joint Task Force sending the tasking order to the intelligence center on the aircraft carrier. From there, the air wing operations cell assigns sorties to the appropriate squadrons, and those squadrons in turn assign aircrews to fly the sorties. At that point aircrews get to work with intel officers and start planning every detail of the sortie.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Mission planning in CVIC aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once the long hours of mission planning are done, crews attempt a few hours of sleep. (The regs call for 8 hours of sleep before a hop, but that seldom happens.)

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: Flikr)

After quick showers and putting on “zoom bags” (flight suits), aviators hit the chow line before the mission brief.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: Walter Koening)

All the crews involved with the mission gather for the “mass gaggle” brief, usually two and a half hours before launch time. After that elements break off for more detailed mission discussions.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Meanwhile, on the flight deck maintainers fix gripes and make sure jets are FMC — “fully mission capable.”

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

At the same time ordnance crews strap bombs onto jets according to the load plan published by Strike Operations.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Ordies (in red jerseys) load 500-pounders onto Super Hornets aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Forty-five minutes before launch, crews head to the paraloft and put on their flight gear — G-suits, survival vests, and helmets. They also strap on a 9mm pistol in case they go down in enemy territory.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Aviators walk to the flight deck and conduct a thorough preflight of their jets, including verifying that their loadouts are correct.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Super Hornet pilot checks a GBU-12 – a laser-guided 500-pounder. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once satisfied that the jet is ready, crews climb in and wait for the Air Boss in the tower to give them the signal to start ’em up.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Super Hornet weapons system operator climbs into the rear cockpit of an F/A-18F Super Hornet. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While lining up with the catapult for launch, pilots verify that the weight board is accurate.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Green shirt holds up weight board showing a Super Hornet pilot that the catapult will be set for a 43,000 pound launch. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

With the throttles pushed to full power and the controls cycled to make sure they’re moving properly, the pilot salutes the cat officer. The cat officer touches the deck, signaling the operator in the catwalk to fire the catapult.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Zero to 160 MPH in 2.2 seconds. Airborne! (Airplanes launching on Cats 1 and 2 turn right; those on Cats 3 and 4 turn left.)

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Overhead the carrier, Super Hornets top off their gas from another Super Hornet configured as a tanker.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
F/A-18F passes gas to an F/A-18E. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Wingmen join flight leads and the strike elements ingress “feet dry” over hostile territory.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The flight hits the tanker again, this time an Air Force KC-135.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Super Hornet tanking from KC-135 (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

At that point the mission lead checks in with “Big Eye” — the AWACS — to get an updated threat status and any other late-breaking info that might be relevant.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

E/F-18 Growlers — electronic warfare versions of the Super Hornet — are part of the strike package in the event of any pop-up surface-to-air missile threats.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Growler firing flares. (Photo: Boeing)

The AWACS hands the flight off to the forward air controller in company with Iraqi forces. The FAC gives the aviators a “nine-line brief” that lays out the details of the target and any threats surrounding it and the proximity of friendlies.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
USMC Forward Air Control team in Iraq. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The enemy has no idea what’s about to happen . . .

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

Op away!

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
F/A-18C releasing a laser-guided bomb. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Target in the cross-hairs of the Super Hornet’s forward looking infrared pod.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(FLIR screen capture: U.S. Navy)

*Boom!*

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(FLIR screen capture: U.S. Navy)

 

Ground view . . .

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Mission complete, the jets head back “feet wet,” stopping at the tanker once again along the way.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Two Super Hornets tanking from a KC-10. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Jets hold over the carrier until it’s time to come into the break and enter the landing pattern. The aircraft from the event attempt to hit the arresting wires every 45 seconds or so.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
F/A-18F about to touch down. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Once the planes are shut down on the flight deck, aircrews head straight to CVIC with their FLIR tapes for battle damage assessment or “BDA.”

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

At that point everybody waits for the word to start the process all over again . . .

Articles

This fake stealth fighter helped secure the real one

As we all know by now, the F-117 Nighthawk was America’s first combat-capable stealth aircraft. According to an Air Force fact sheet, it entered service in 1983, and was retired in 2008. It had a very effective career, serving in Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm, Allied Force, and Iraqi Freedom.


But one reason the F-117 was effective was because the Americans managed to keep it secret for the first five years it was in operation. As a result, many figured America’s stealth fighter would be named the F-19 – and in two techno-thrillers, the F-19 had major roles.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Photo: Air Force Master Sgt. Edward Snyder

It was best-known as the F-19 Ghostrider in Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising.” In that novel, the planes carry out a daring raid to destroy Soviet Il-76 “Mainstay” radar planes, enabling NATO to secure air superiority in the early stages of the war. One F-19 crew later takes out a Soviet theater commander.

Clancy’s F-19 was very different from the F-117. It had a crew of two, and was capable of breaking Mach 1. It also carried weapons externally, including Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and had a radar. While some sources, like Combat Aircraft Since 1945, credited the F-117 Nighthawk with the ability to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder, most sources claim that the F-117 has no air-to-air capability.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
A three-view graphic of what the F-19 was believed to look like. (Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

The other appearance of the F-19 was in Dale Brown’s “Silver Tower.” This time, it had the right name, Nighthawk, but it also had a crew of two. Brown didn’t go into the detail of his F-19 that Clancy did in Red Storm Rising. Brown’s F-19s had one notable success, where they bluffed their way in to attack a Soviet base in Iran during Silver Tower. Both planes were shot down and their crews killed.

After the F-117’s public reveal, the speculative F-19s were largely forgotten. But the “F-19” speculation helped keep the F-117 secret – and that secrecy was critical to the battlefield success of America’s first stealth fighter.

Articles

Marines rev up amphibious assault capabilities

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
An assault amphibious vehicle (AAV) with the AAV platoon, Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger


The Marine Corps is revving up its fleet of 1970s-era Amphibious Assault Vehicles to integrate the latest technology and make them better able to stop roadside-bombs and other kinds of enemy attacks, service officials said.

The existing fleet, which is designed to execute a wide range of amphibious attack missions from ship-to-shore, is now receiving new side armor (called spall liner), suspension, power trains, engine upgrades, water jets, underbelly ballistic protections and blast-mitigating seats to slow down or thwart the damage from IEDs and roadside bombs, Maj. Paul Rivera, AAV SU Project Team Lead, told Scout Warrior

“The purpose of this variant is to bring back survivability and force protection back to the AAV P-variant (existing vehicle),” he said.

The classic AAV, armed with a .50-cal machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher, is being given new technology so that it can serve in the Corps fleet for several more decades.

“The AAV was originally expected to serve for only 20-years when it fielded in 1972. Here we are in 2016. In effect we want to keep these around until 2035,” John Garner, Program Manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault,” said in an interview with Scout Warrior.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Marines with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, begin to exit their vehicles as they index their company-level beach operations on Camp Lejeune, N.C. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton Precht

The new AAV, called AAV “SU” for survivability upgrade, will be more than 10,000 pounds heavier than its predecessor and include a new suspension able to lift the hull of the vehicle higher off the ground to better safeguard Marines inside from being hit by blast debris. With greater ground clearance, debris from an explosion has to farther travel, therefore lessening the impact upon those hit by the attack.

The AAV SU will be about 70,000 pounds when fully combat loaded, compared to the 58,000-pound weight of the current AAV.

“By increasing the weight you have a secondary and tertiary effects which better protect Marines.  We are also bringing in a new power train, new suspension and new water jets for water mobility,” Rivera said.

A new, stronger transmission for the AAV SU will integrate with a more powerful 625 HP Cummins engine, he added.

The original AAV is engineered to travel five-to-six knots in the water, reach distances up to 12 nautical miles and hit speeds of 45mph on land – a speed designed to allow the vehicle to keep up with an Abrams tank, Corps officials said.

In addition, the new AAV SU will reach an acquisition benchmark called “Milestone C” in the Spring of next year. This will begin paving the way toward full-rate production by 2023, Rivera explained.

The new waterjet will bring more speed to the platform, Rivera added.

“The old legacy water jet comes from a sewage pump. That sewage pump was designed to do sewage and not necessarily project a vehicle through the water. The new waterjet uses an axial flow,” Rivera said.

The new, more flexible blast-mitigating seats are deigned to prevent Marines’ feet from resting directly on the floor in order to prevent them from being injured from an underbelly IED blast.

“It is not just surviving the blast and making sure Marines aren’t killed, we are really focusing on those lower extremities and making sure they are walking away from the actual event,” Rivera said.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) with the AAV platoon, Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), leave the well deck of the dock landing ship USS Comstock. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger

The seat is engineered with a measure of elasticity such that it can respond differently, depending on the severity of a blast.

“If it’s a high-intensity blast, the seat will activate in accordance with the blast. Each blast is different. As the blast gets bigger the blast is able to adjust,” Rivera said.

In total, the Marines plan to upgrade the majority of their fleet of 392 AAV SU vehicles.

The idea with Amphibious Assault Vehicles, known for famous historical attacks such as Iwo Jima in WWII (using earlier versions), is to project power from the sea by moving deadly combat forces through the water and up onto land where they can launch attacks, secure a beachhead or reinforce existing land forces.

Often deploying from an Amphibious Assault Ship, AAVs swim alongside Landing Craft Air Cushions which can transport larger numbers of Marines and land war equipment — such as artillery and battle tanks.

AAVs can also be used for humanitarian missions in places where, for example, ports might be damaged an unable to accommodate larger ships.

Alongside this ongoing effort to modernize the existing fleet of AAVs, the Corps is also constructing a new, wheeled Amphibious Combat Vehicles, or ACVs. These new platforms will include a wide range of next-generation technologies, travel much faster, deploy from much farther distances and perform at a much higher level across the board compared with the existing fleet.

Articles

US defenses get pressured by North Korean missile advances

North Korea’s newly demonstrated missile muscle puts Alaska within range of potential attack and stresses the Pentagon’s missile defenses like never before. Even more worrisome, it may be only a matter of time before North Korea makes an even longer-range ICBM with a nuclear warhead, putting all of the United States at risk.


The Pentagon has spent tens of billions to develop what it calls a limited defense against missiles capable of reaching US soil. The system has never faced combat or been fully tested. The system succeeded May 30 in its first attempted intercept of a mock ICBM, but it hasn’t faced more realistic conditions.

Although Russia and China have long been capable of targeting the US with a nuclear weapon, North Korea is seen as the bigger, more troubling threat. Its opaque, unpredictable government often confounds US intelligence assessments. And North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has openly threatened to strike the US, while showing no interest in nuclear or missile negotiations.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

“We should be worried,” said Philip E. Coyle III, a former head of the Pentagon’s test and evaluation office. North Korea’s latest success, he said, “shows that time is not on our side.”

US officials believe North Korea is still short of being able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit atop an intercontinental missile. And it’s unclear whether it has developed the technology and expertise to sufficiently shield such a warhead from the extreme heat experienced when it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere en route to a target.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said July 5, “We’ve still not seen a number of things that would indicate a full-up threat,” including a demonstrated ability to mate a nuclear warhead to an ICBM. “But clearly they are working on it. Clearly they seek to do it. This is an aggressive research and development program on their part.”

Davis said the US defensive system is limited but effective.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
The THAAD missile system. | Lockheed Martin photo

“We do have confidence in it,” he said. “That’s why we’ve developed it.”

The Trump administration, like its recent predecessors, has put its money on finding a diplomatic path to halting and reversing North Korea’s nuclear program. While the Pentagon has highly developed plans if military force is ordered, the approach is seen as untenable because it would put millions of South Korean civilians at risk.

But diplomacy has failed so far. That’s why US missile defenses may soon come into play.

The Pentagon has a total of 36 missile interceptors in underground silos on military bases in Alaska and California, due to increase to 44 by year’s end. These interceptors can be launched upon notice of a missile headed toward the United States. An interceptor soars toward its target based on tracking data from radars and other electronic sensors, and is supposed to destroy the target by sheer force of impact outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet, the collision is meant to incinerate the targeted warhead, neutralizing its nuclear explosive power.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
A long-range ground-based interceptor launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. DoD photo by Senior Airman Robert J. Volio

This so-called hit-to-kill technology has been in development for decades. For all its advances, the Pentagon is not satisfied that the current defensive system is adequate for North Korea’s accelerating missile advances.

“The pace of the threat is advancing faster than I think was considered when we did the first ballistic missile defense review back in 2010,” Rob Soofer, who is helping review missile defenses, told a Senate Armed Service subcommittee last month. Beyond what US officials have said publicly about the North Korean nuclear threat, he said the classified picture “is even more dire.” Soofer didn’t provide details.

The escalating danger has led the administration to consider alternative concepts for missile defense, including what is known as “boost phase” defense. This approach involves destroying a hostile missile shortly after its launch, before the warhead separates from the missile body and decoys can be deployed. One proposed tactic would be to develop a drone capable of long-endurance flight and armed with a solid-state laser to destroy or disable a missile in flight.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

These and other possible new approaches would add to budget strains already felt in the missile defense program.

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would cut $340 million from missile defense programs intended to deter a potential strike by North Korea, Iran or other countries. The Republican-led Congress has taken the first steps in rejecting the reduction. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R- Texas, the House Armed Services Committee chairman, declared last month that he was “astonished” Trump would propose trimming missile defense.

Thornberry’s committee voted last week to provide about $12.5 billion for missile defense in the 2018 fiscal year that begins in October, nearly $2.5 billion more than Trump’s request. The Senate Armed Services Committee also called for millions more than Trump requested. The full House and Senate are expected to consider the committees’ legislation, and the boost in missile defense money, later this month.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 5 best beards in military history

The Pentagon can resist all it wants, but beards have made a comeback.

The Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society even conducted a study to explore how individuals with (or without) facial hair are perceived by others. Women rated men with facial hair as more attractive and appearing healthier than those who were clean-shaven — and now male service members want change.


Today’s military men, however, are just going to have to rely on the uniform to gain an edge over civilians — since the advent of the gas mask, facial hair has been strictly regulated by the military. There are certain exceptions, however, such as a new regulation that will allow service members to wear a beard for religious reasons or operations where a beard could help service members blend in better with the local population.

But until the U.S. military embraces the beard, it’ll remain a rare sight on our warriors.

All the more reason to admire the best military beards in history.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

(Electronic Arts)

“Cowboy”

In 2002, Scott Nelson photographed a U.S. Army Special Forces unit in Afghanistan as they began to amp up their pursuit of terrorists in the the area. One of the soldiers photographed goes by the nickname “Cowboy” — and he’s been rather shrouded in mystery ever since.

Nonetheless, it could be argued that he has the OG operator beard — so much so that Danger Close Games used his likeness as inspiration when finding and outfitting the model for their Medal of Honor game.

Something about the tactical environment makes this otherwise-too-long-in-my-opinion beard completely okay.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Guess why he’s on this list.

Gen. Ambrose Burnside

No list of military facial hair would be complete without the man whose whiskers were so incredible that the world named a patch of facial hair after him.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Prince Harry and an American wounded warrior in a wheelchair shake hands at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

Prince Harry of Wales

The pictures of the bearded prince in his flight suit at the 2015 Battle of Britain Flypast are why I am now in full favor of allowing beards in uniform.

Harry served from 2005-2015, even secretly deploying on combat missions in Afghanistan before his location was publicized and he was pulled out for security reasons. He’s the epitome of cool, he fully recognizes the meaning and importance of service, and he’s proof that a military beard can still look professional.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Refined AF.

Ulysses S. Grant

The man led the Union to victory and served two terms as president. That is the beard of victory right there.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Magnificent.

Maj. Gen. George Crook

Crook cut his teeth fighting Native American tribes in Oregon before the Civil War. When he was called on to serve the Union, he used the same tactics in the face of the rebel enemy. His beard is exactly the kind you’d expect from a man the Apaches called “Grey Wolf.”

We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the brand used by professionals.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s and F-15s just obliterated an entire island where ISIS hides out

On Sept. 10, 2019, US and Iraqi forces dropped 80,000 pounds of munitions on Qanus Island, in Iraq’s Salah-al-Din province, to destroy what Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) called a “safe haven” for ISIS fighters traveling from Syria into Iraq.

“We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island,” Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, the commander of OIR’s Special Operations Joint Task Force, said in a press release, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.


Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Myles Caggins tweeted a video of the operation on Sept. 10, 2019, that shows bombs carpeting the tree-lined island from end to end, saying the island was “Daesh infested.”

Air Force Central Command tweeted an additional statement, saying that the strikes come at the “behest of the Iraqi government” and that Qanus Island is believed to be “a major transit hub and safe haven for Daesh.”

A spokesperson for OIR told Insider that ISIS casualties were still being assessed but that there were no casualties for the coalition or the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services. A small cache of abandoned weapons was found on the island, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the number of ISIS militants on the island at the time of the strike was unknown.

After the group’s supposed defeat in March, the Islamic State regrouped in Syria and Iraq, partly as a result of troop withdrawal in Syria and a diplomatic vacuum in Iraq, according to a Pentagon Inspector General’s report. The report also blamed Trump’s focus on Iran for the resurgence, saying that the administration’s insufficient attention to Iraq and Syria also contributed to ISIS’s ability to regroup, even though it has lost its caliphate.

While ISIS is not nearly as powerful as it once was — the Pentagon estimates the group has only 14,000 to 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria at present, compared with the CIA estimate of between 20,000 and 31,500 in 2014 — it is still carrying out assassinations, crop burnings, ambushes, and suicide attacks.

OIR said that it targeted the area because ISIS militants were using the tiny island to transit from Syria and the Jazeera desert into the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region. The dense vegetation there allowed militants to hide easily, according to OIR.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

Airstrikes on Qanus Island, Iraq, on Sept. 10, 2019.

(OIR Spokesman Myles B. Caggins / US Air Force / Twitter)

The airstrikes, carried out by US Air Force F-35 Lightning II and F15 Strike Eagles, came in the midst of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s new policy to consider flights in Iraqi airspace hostile unless they are preapproved or a medical emergency. That policy took effect on Aug. 15, 2019. These aircraft typically carry Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which are precision-guided air-to-surface munitions.

According to the release, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services are carrying out additional ground operations on the island to “destroy any remaining Fallul Daesh on the island.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the Joint Strike Fighter that might have been

The F-35 Lightning, the ultimate result of the Joint Strike Fighter program, is entering service with the Marines and Air Force. Its prototype, the X-35, won the competition in 2001, but it wasn’t the only serious contender. In fact, we were close to going in a very different direction. Boeing had its own entry into the JSF competition, the X-32, which would have been the F-32 had it won.

While the F-35 looks like a single-engine version of the F-22, the X-32 bore a resemblance to the A-7 Corsair, which is affectionately known as the SLUF, or “short little ugly f*cker.” Like the X-35, Boeing’s offering was to be cheaper than the F-22 Raptor and was intended to replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, A-10 Thunderbolt, and AV-8B Harrier.


Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

The X-32 taking off from Little Rock Air Force Base during the fly-off.

(DOD)

The X-32 and X-35 were selected to take part in a fly-off in 1996, beating out designs from Northrop Grumman and McDonnell Douglas.

The X-32 was based on reliable technology. To achieve Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing capability, it used a thrust-vectoring system similar to that used by the AV-8B Harrier. It had a top speed of 1,243 miles per hour and a maximum unrefueled range of 979 miles. It packed a M61 20mm gun (again, proven technology) and was capable of carrying as many as six AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles or up to 15,000 pounds of bombs.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

The X-32’s big chin inlet, which gave it the appearance of a futuristic A-7, netted it the nickname “Monica.”

(USAF)

Lockheed’s X-35 used a separate lift-fan, much like the failed Yak-141 fighter. That gave it a performance edge over the X-32. As a result, “Monica” ended up losing out.

Both X-32 prototypes survived and have since been sent to museums.

Learn more about the Joint Strike Fighter that could have been in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJOc3vWc7_U

www.youtube.com

Articles

Al-Qaeda is losing their minds to the CIA’s game of drones

The CIA’s drone and surveillance programs are starting to wear on al-Qaeda’s leadership. The latest trove of Osama bin Laden’s captured personal documents from the Director of National Intelligence included personal letters, al-Qaeda memos, and even a personal letter to the American people.


Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants

The release shows a rising paranoia about drones, spies, and the various agencies tracking their movement. Al-Qaeda is still waging their brand of global jihad, but are wary about how they continue their operations.

In one memo, bin Laden warned kidnappers about tracking devices in ransom payments. Another letter discusses the wrongful execution of four accused spies. He also tells negotiators in Peshawar to only leave their homes on cloudy days, he tells operatives to be aware of infrared markers on their cars, and even worrying about Iranian dentists implanting tracking devices in their dental fillings.

The documents were seized in the May 2011 raid on OBL’s Abottabad compound when members of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six killed the terrorist leader and captured his “bookshelf.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Bin Laden, watching TV in his last days.

This second release has been translated to English and declassified, and reflects events between 2009 and 2011. Just days before the raid that killed him, bin Laden wrote about the ongoing “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East. He urged more attacks against the U.S., but did not fully appreciate the battle space.

“He was somewhat out of touch with the (actual) capabilities of his organization,” an unnamed source told Business Insider. “Many of his best leaders are dead.”

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time a Nazi captain recommended a British captain for the Victoria Cross

“The lights went out, the ship rolled and tossed and suddenly seemed to settle well on her starboard side,” stoker Bert Harris later said. “The Germans had shot us to pieces.”


“Abandon ship!”

HMS Glowworm was lost, but its captain, 35-year-old Lt. Com. Gerard Broadmead Roppe, would win a posthumous Victoria Cross for the action. And, strangest of all, he would get it on the recommendation of the German captain who had sunk his ship.

Here’s what it’s like to fly a close air support mission against Islamic State militants
Glowworm moving to ram the Admiral Hipper during World War II.

In April 1940, the Glowworm, a Royal Navy G-class destroyer, was part of the escort for the battle cruiser HMS Renown during mine-laying operations in the North Sea. On the night of April 7, 1940, however, the Glowworm, which was armed with four four-inch guns and ten torpedoes, lost a man overboard in rough weather, and fell behind to search for him.

“That was a bad omen,” Harris later said.

Capt. Roppe eventually had to give up the search and was returning to the Renown when, at about 8:30 a.m., April 8, the Glowworm encountered two German destroyers. The German ships, the Bernd von Arnim and the Hans Ludemann, were escorting the 14,000-ton German heavy cruiser Admiral von Hipper, under the command of Capt. Hellmuth Heye. The cruiser was transferring German troops to Trondheim, Norway, as part of the German invasion.

The Glowworm and the German destroyers exchanged fire, with the Glowworm scoring a hit on one of the two ships before the German ships fled into a squall with the Glowworm in pursuit. But when the Glowworm came out of the squall, she suddenly found herself within range of the Admiral von Hipper and facing that ship’s eight eight-inch guns

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The HMS Glowworm burning after taking heavy fire.

The Hipper opened fire with the Glowworm at 9,200 yards (8,400 meters), and its fourth salvo struck the smaller ship. The Glowworm began making smoke and used the cover to dart back into the squall as the bigger ship continued firing. The Glowworm struggled to get within range of the Hipper. By then, her radio room, bridge, and forward 4.7-inch gun had been destroyed. Her engine room and her rangefinder had been hit, and the small ship was ablaze. The upper yard of her mast had collapsed, falling across wires and short circuiting the ship’s siren that wailed unheeded.

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The Hipper attacking Glowworm from the Hipper’s crew’s perspective.

Knowing he had no chance again the Hipper, Capt. Roppe determined to cause as much damage to the larger ship as he could.

Unbelievably, he attacked.

At 10:10, Capt. Roppe fired his ship’s five torpedoes at a range of 870 yards (800 meters), but all five missed their target. Unable to evade the larger ship, he ordered the Glowworm to ram, and the British ship struck the German cruiser near her starboard bow, gouging a large hole in the side of the German ship. The Glowworm scraped along the side of the German ship before pulling clear and coming to rest in the water, flaming and with its siren still wailing.

Related: This naval battle helped set the stage for two world wars

The Glowworm‘s wheelhouse, transmitting station, wireless office, and the captain’s cabin that was functioning as a first aid station had all been hit and destroyed. There was a huge hole in the side of the ship near the engine room and her superstructure was in shambles.

Capt. Roppe gave the order to abandon ship.

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British destroyer HMS Glowworm recoiling from German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper after ramming her off Norway in April 1940.

As men were jumping over the side, Harris said, Petty Officer Walter Scott stayed on the only Glowwworm gun that was still operable and “kept that gun going for quite a time.”

In all, 111 members of the Glowworm’s crew were lost, including Capt. Roppe, but with a gallantry that was lost as the war advanced, the Hipper’s Capt. Heye rescued thirty-one survivors of the British ship and congratulated them for the fight they had put up.

“(He) told us that our Captain had been a very brave man,” said Harris.

The Hipper completed her mission, dropping troops at Trondheim, but then returned to port for repairs. She was out of action for a month. From there, Capt. Heye sent a Victoria Cross recommendation for Capt. Roppe to the British War Office.

And Capt. Roppe got it.

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Mars: The matchless warship that sank during its first battle

Jacob_Hägg,_Makalös_eller_Mars_(1909) Photo: Wikipedia


With irony equal to that of the unsinkable Titanic drowning on her maiden voyage, the Swedish warship, Mars, called “the Matchless,” was set afire, her armament exploded, and she sank during her first major sea battle. Lost for nearly 450 years, Marshas recently been found in the Baltic Sea, and archaeologists are giddy with the discovery.

In the 1560s, several of the Baltic states were at war, with Sweden on one side, and Denmark and Lübeck (of the Hanseatic League in Northern Germany) on the other. Continuing a practice begun years earlier, Sweden’s king, Erik XIV, funded his campaigns, at least in part, by confiscating Catholic church treasures.

Naval powerhouses, the warring states required strong fleets, and there was a push toward ever-larger ships. In 1563, as part of his drive to have the best navy, Erik commissioned the Mars, one of Europe’s first large, three-masted ships.

At 48 meters long and 13 wide, and displacing 1,800 tons, the Mars held an impressive array of armament. Spanning three decks as well as the crow’s nest, this included 53 canons and 50 smaller guns, an arsenal of incendiary grenades, round balls, chain shots and fire-balls. The ship also boasted a crew of nearly 700. Of course, there was a massive amount of gunpowder on board, as well, for use in the canons and other weapons.

According to legend, to make many of these canons, bells were taken from the Catholic churches in Swedish controlled lands and melted down and forged into the ship’s guns.

Regardless of the truth of that, this ship was launched in 1564 and shortly thereafter, on May 29, 1564, the Mars embarked on its first and only sea battle at Öland. After two days of fighting, the Mars had earned its nickname, the Matchless, as it led the fight against Denmark and Lübeck, who lost 16 ships and approximately 7,000 men in the battle.

The enemy rallied, and on May 31, 1564,  so many fireballs were lobbed onto the Mars’deck that it was soon disabled sufficiently for the German’s to board. Of course, beyond the 350 or so sailors aboard the Mars, anyone boarding it also had to contend with its full compliment of about 450 soldiers. Unfortunately for both sides, a short time after being boarded, the Matchless’ gunpowder stores ignited, creating a heat so intense it reportedly caused the warship’s loaded canons to explode. The result of all of this was enough damage to the most powerful ship in the world that it sank, killing between 800 and 900 Swedish and Lübeckian sailors in the process.

Slaget_vid_Öland_Claus_Møinichen_1686-Kronan The warship Kronan explodes during a battle. Kronan was destroyed by a fire similar to the one that claimed the Mars. Photo: Wikipedia

Slipping into the Baltic in 75 meters of cold water, many Catholics at the time blamed the disaster on the supposed theft and re-use of the church bells.

For over four centuries, the Mars remained lost.

At between 50N and 65N latitude, the Baltic Sea is cold, and at the place where the Marssank, just east of Öland Island, the currents are slow, the water brackish but with little sediment, and the mollusk typically responsible for rapidly destroying shipwrecks, the shipworm, is absent. The combination of all these factors is that, despite its long slumber in Davy Jones’ locker, the Mars is remarkably well preserved.

Discovered in 2011 by a group of divers, given the age and fragility of the Mars and its remaining contents, archaeologists have been hesitant to raise the ship. Rather, they have focused on photographing and digitally scanning the wreck with an eye toward producing 3-D reconstructions that are accurate to within 2 millimeters.

The Mars has been called by some “the missing link” because it marked the shift in Europe toward the massive, much more well-known warships of the 17th century; evidence for this is seen in the fact that, shortly after meeting the Mars at Öland, the Danes and Lübeckians were building their own massive, heavily armed ships, including the 2,100 displacement ton Fortuna and Grosse Adler (1567), and the nearly 3,500 displacement ton,St. Oluf (1573).

Note, however, that these Matchless champions of the time are tiny by today’s standards. In fact, the largest warships on the sea today, the United States Nimitz class super carriers, are over 330 meters long and 40 meters wide, sport flight decks of just over 75 meters, and displace approximately 97,000 tons when fully loaded.

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President Trump proclaims Armed Forces Day

In a proclamation signed before he left on the first foreign trip, President Donald Trump proclaimed the third Saturday of May to be Armed Forces Day.


“For almost 70 years, our Nation has set aside one day to recognize the great debt we owe to the men and women who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard,” Trump said in a statement. “On Armed Forces Day, we salute the bravery of those who defend our Nation’s peace and security.  Their service defends for Americans the freedom that all people deserve.”

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(DOD Poster)

According to the Department of Defense website, the celebration of Armed Forces Day first began in 1950, following a proclamation on Aug. 31, 1949, by then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. Johnson’s intention was to replace separate holidays for the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

“I invite the Governors of the States and Territories and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to provide for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their jurisdiction each year in an appropriate manner designed to increase public understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces of the United States.  I also invite veterans, civic, and other organizations to join in the observance of Armed Forces Day each year,” Trump said in the proclamation, which has been issued by his predecessors in virtually the same form, including George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

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West Point U.S. Military Academy cadets march in the 58th Presidential Inauguration Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

Trump’s proclamation did make special note of the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, citing the 4.7 million Americans who served in that conflict. Trump also re-tweeted a Defense Department tweet featuring a video.

“Finally, I call upon all Americans to display the flag of the United States at their homes and businesses on Armed Forces Day, and I urge citizens to learn more about military service by attending and participating in the local observances of the day,” Trump’s proclamation concluded.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 less-than-helpful remedies troops use to avoid sick call

Going to sick call is seen as optional by many troops. I mean, who wants to waste a nice morning run when you can just treat whatever ails you on your own? After all, it worked that one time, so why wouldn’t it work again now?

There’s a tendency among troops to take it upon themselves to try and fix minor medical problems without bothering the doc and missing out on a super critical 6-mile ruck. You wouldn’t want to be accused of malingering, would you?

In the minds of troops, it’s often better to roll the dice and hope you can treat yourself — and, as you can imagine, this isn’t always the best answer.


The truth is that some of the common “treatments” employed by troops are either not all that helpful or they make matters worse. Here’s the best advice we can offer: Don’t be an friggin’ idiot. Use common sense. If the sickness or injury is bad enough, go see the doc. The only prize for “toughing it out” is a f*cked up body. And by skipping out on a visit to sick call, you miss out on putting your issue on your medical records, which can be a big problem down the road.

The following are the unofficial tools for avoiding sick call — and why you might want to reconsider:

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If you don’t feel it immediately, you’ll sure as hell feel it in the morning…

(U.S. Air Force)

1. Alcohol

“It ain’t called “Grandpa’s cough syrup” for nothing! It’s like taking Benadryl — only more fun, right? After all, you can’t feel sick if you’re passed out!”

Ask anyone who’s ever tried drinking while sick and they’ll probably tell you it’s a terrible idea. Being sick dehydrates you — so does drinking. By consuming alcohol, you’re flushing the water your body needs to heal itself. In the end, this just prolongs your recovery.

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Beware the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide…

(U.S Army photo by Sgt. Leo Jenkins)

2. Guzzling down water

“If there’s one thing that the medic kept getting on your ass about, it was to keep drinking water. The surest way to detect how healthy your body is by comparing your pee to that chart that’s hanging in the latrine. It’s like a check-engine light for your body.”

This is a fantastic idea. Drinking water is a perfectly healthy thing to do. But if you quickly go from consuming barely any water at all to chugging gallons of it, you can actually become overhydrated. Your kidneys can’t process that much water and you’ll lose it all — along with some other needed stuff, like sodium. If you really want to use the pee chart, know that “pale lemonade yellow” is the healthy medium.

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At least get a sick call slip. It’s an official order from a medical officer that says you can be lazy for a few days.

(U.S. Army)

3. Ignoring it

“Sometimes, all you need is a good night’s rest and you’ll be right as rain. If that doesn’t work, ignore whatever’s going on until things get better. If it still hurts, well, just toughen up and stop complaining.”

If it’s a cold or a sore muscle, roger — get some rest and carry on. This mentality becomes a problem when whatever’s ailing you doesn’t show signs of improving. Say you tear some kinda muscle — if your body is given the proper time to heal and you take it easy, it could heal on its own. If you try to shrug it off and continue to push yourself, things are only going to get worse with each passing day.

If it remains a problem, get some help.

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If you are going to pop the blister, at least use extreme care to keep it clean. Bandage it and use moleskin.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

4. Popping blisters

“It’s only natural to poke at something when it hurts. See that blister? Screw waiting around! Pop that sucker with a needle so it can start healing and let’s get a move on.”

It doesn’t take a medical degree to know that popping blisters on your feet is a terrible idea. For starters, blisters are your body’s way of repairing itself. Popping blisters only prolongs the healing process and leaves the wound open for infection. And since it’s oftentimes on your nasty-ass feet, it’s definitely going to get infected.

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If you don’t want to be literally sh*tting out blood, don’t exceed 800mg per 6 hours.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain)

5. Lots of ibuprofen

“Why bother the corpsmen when you already know what they’re going to give you? No matter what you tell them, the solution is always the same: Motrin and a bottle of water. Skip the line and just pick some up at the local grocery store and pop a few. Besides, it’s totally funny to watch peoples’ reactions as you down three 800mg pills of ibuprofen and wash it down with an energy drink.”

Ibuprofen is not a super drug that can cure everything. First of all, it’s really only used to treat fevers and soothe pains and inflammations. Secondly, despite what you might think, there’ is such a thing as too much ibuprofen — quit popping 800mg pills whenever you start feeling a cramp. Finally, don’t be taking the huge-ass ones without food or water unless you feel like ripping your stomach and intestines up.

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1st Cav soldiers among 4 Americans killed in Afghanistan

The U.S. Defense Department on Monday identified the two soldiers killed last week by a suicide bomber at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan as from the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.


Army Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois, were killed Nov. 12 at the airfield north of the capital, Kabul. The soldiers were assigned to Headdquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, the statement said.

Also read: The US lost 6 elite Green Berets in a 72-hour span last week

Two American contractors also were killed in the blast and 16 other U.S. service members and a Polish service member were injured.

The attacker was a former Taliban militant who had joined the peace process in 2008 and had since taken a job at the base, Bagram District Governor Haji Abdul Shokor Qudosi told ABC News on Sunday.

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Airmen patrol the flightline perimeter at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, last June. | US Air Force photo by Justyn Freeman

About 14,000 Americans, including service members and contractors, are based at Bagram. The base was closed to Afghan workers immediately following the attack and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul also closed for business.

The attack occurred while U.S. service members at the base were preparing for a five-kilometer race as part of Veterans Day events.

A later statement from Fort Hood said that Perry joined the Army on Jan. 31, 2008, as a Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) maintenance support specialist. He had been assigned to 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade since Aug. 21, 2014.

Perry was on his second tour in Afghanistan. He deployed to Afghanistan when the U.S. involvement there was called Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2010 to July 2011. He deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in September 2016.

Perry’s awards and decorations included the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, one Army Achievement Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars.

He also had received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Combat Action Badge and Driver’s and Mechanic Badge.

Iubelt had been in the Army less than a year, the statement said. He entered the Army on Nov. 23, 2015, as a motor transport operator and had been assigned to 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade since May 6, 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan in September.

Iubelt’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.

Perry and Iubelt were among about 500 1st Cavalry Division soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan in the late summer of this year in a regular rotation of troops to help train the Afghan military.

The deploying soldiers were part of the Fort Hood division’s headquarters and its sustainment brigade headquarters, Lt. Col. Sunset Belinsky, the 1st Cavalry Division’s division’s spokeswoman, said at the time. They deployed to Bagram Airfield to replace the 10th Mountain Division headquarters, which had served as the planning leader for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan since November of 2015.

The deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel was expected to last about 12 months, Belinsky said. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is the United States’ continuing mission to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces in their fight against the Taliban and other insurgent networks.

Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, who took command of the 1st Cavalry Division last January, was leading the deployment, taking over duties as the U.S. deputy commanding general for support in Afghanistan.

The deaths of Perry and Iubelt were the second and third in combat for the 1st Cavalry Division in recent weeks. On Oct. 20, Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, died in Kabul of wounds received from what was suspected to be an “insider attack” by an individual wearing an Afghan army uniform. American contractor Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, also was killed in the incident.

Riney and Sauro had been on a mission for the Afghan Defense Ministry when they drove up to the entry point at an Ammunition Supply Point on the outskirts of Kabul, Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO Resolute Support mission, said in a briefing to the Pentagon late last month.

“They had not started the inspection” when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire, Cleveland said. The gunman was shot dead by Afghan security.

Cleveland said the U.S. could not confirm that the incident was an insider, or “green-on-blue,” attack since the Afghans had yet to identify the gunman.

Riney entered active-duty service in July 2012 as a petroleum supply specialist, the military said. He had been assigned to the Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, since December 2012.

Riney was on his second tour to Afghanistan. His awards and decorations included the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal.

Sauro was assigned to the Defense Ammunition Center, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, in Oklahoma, the Defense Department said. He traveled to Afghanistan in September for his third deployment and was scheduled to return to the U.S. in March.

A U.S. soldier and two other U.S. civilians employed by the Defense Ammunition Center were injured in the incident. The soldier was reported in stable condition at the time. Civilian Richard “Rick” Alford was in stable condition and civilian Rodney Henderson suffered minor injuries, the center said, adding that they will both return to the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

The attack came as the U.S. was proceeding with President Barack Obama’s plan to draw down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from the current number of about 9,500 to 8,400 by the end of this year.

The drawdown was taking place as the U.S. considers its troop and monetary support under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump for Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been at war for 15 years.

Afghanistan policy was not a main topic of debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the campaign.

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