Here's what it's going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets - We Are The Mighty
Articles

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
An artist’s depiction of a Blue Angels Super Hornet. (Graphic: Boeing)


Boeing just announced that the U.S. Navy awarded the company a more than $12 million contract for “non-recurring design and development engineering for an engineering change proposal” to transition the Blue Angels from Hornets to Super Hornets. This prospect is exciting for aviation aficionados and air show fans nationwide — not to mention the Blue Angels pilots themselves — so how soon will the change happen?

To find out WATM spoke with Navy Capt. David Kindley, the Naval Air System Command’s program manager for both Hornets and Super Hornets. Not only is Kindley the man in charge of supporting the Navy’s Hornet and Super Hornet fleets with engineering updates and maintenance improvements, during his Navy flying career he amassed almost 3,400 flight hours in both the old and new versions of the airplane.

Kindley started the conversation by making it clear that the contract “is by no means the transition taking place. We don’t have a specific date. It could take years.”

However, he explained that the genesis of the current effort was a desire from Radm. Del Bull, the Chief of Naval Air Training (the Blue Angels’ parent command), to “move the transition to the left,” as Kindley put it.

“There’s a perception in the fleet that NAVAIR moves too slowly,” Kindley said. “We see this as an opportunity to show we can go faster.”

The first challenge for the program office and relevant fleet commands is to identify 11 Super Hornets (including a couple of two-seat F/A-18Fs) that can be turned into Blue Angel assets. (The Blue Angels only take 7 airplanes — not including “Fat Albert,” the C-130 they use to ferry parts and support personnel — on the road with them, but they have 11 in their possession.) Boeing isn’t manufacturing new Super Hornets specifically for the demonstration team, so the Navy will have to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” as the old saying goes, to make it happen.

“Super Hornets are a precious commodity,” Kindley said. “This transition is competing with the fact that the fleet is desperate for them.”

Kindley explained that the early version of the Super Hornet didn’t incorporate the advanced mission software used by fleet squadrons, and therefore those jets are only good for training new pilots on basic handling and not the full warfighting capability of the airplane. That makes them good candidates for use by the Blue Angels who don’t need drop bombs and shoot missiles while they’re flying their air show routine.

Kindley isn’t concerned about the basics of transitioning a squadron from “legacy” Hornets to Super Hornets. “We do this all the time,” he said. “This isn’t hard.”

But he allows that the Blue Angels aren’t just another Navy squadron, and he sums up their specific challenges to NAVAIR as “springs, smoke, and paint.”

“Springs” refers to the mechanical device that Blue Angels jets have attached to the control stick that creates 7 pounds of forward pressure, which allows pilots more positive control and allows them to fly smoother. However, there’s an air conditioning duct in the Super Hornet cockpit that doesn’t exist in the regular Hornet right where the spring should attach, so the engineers have to figure out a workaround.

During the show, Blue Angels jets do something other fleet jets don’t do under normal circumstances: They trail smoke. That dramatic effect is created when special chemicals mix with the air behind the plane. Creating that effect is the “smoke” part of Kindley’s concerns.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Smoke on! (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The real estate required to make smoke is realized by taking the gun out of the nose and replacing it with a tank. After conducting the initial engineering investigation, NAVAIR engineers discovered two things: The subcontractor’s production line for making the tanks is shut down, and it doesn’t matter anyway because the old tank won’t correctly fit into the Super Hornet’s nose, so they have to have new ones made.

And then there’s the paint. “Painting an airplane isn’t hard,” Kindley said. “But un-painting an airplane can be really hard.”

What he means is as Boeing strips a Super Hornet to bare metal, corrosion could be discovered. That sort of discovery demands that the contractor reach back out to NAVAIR with a “request for engineering investigation.” That potential makes it hard to scope a contract because there’s no way to know exactly how much corrosion an airplane might have until the paint comes off. And, of even greater concern to Kindley, it’s tough to predict how much time the entire process of repainting 11 jets might take.

And when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of transitioning the Blue Angels to new jets, time will matter a lot. The team’s show season ends each year in early November. The pilots, maintainers, and other support personnel have a few weeks off over the holidays, and then they start training for the next season the follow February, operating out of NAF El Centro in California’s Imperial Valley about an hour east of San Diego. That means whatever refresher training pilots and maintainers need has to occur before the show routine training starts — basically, the time between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day.

While the justification for all of this effort is that Super Hornets are easier to maintain and cheaper to fly than legacy Hornets, anyone who’s flown both types, like Kindley, knows that the Super Hornet has a lot more thrust available. That performance improvement alone should make for a more dynamic Blue Angels show in the future with faster climbs and tighter high-G turns.

But before they push the current show’s envelope, Blue Angels pilots wanted to see how the Super Hornet performed doing the current routine. Last year the team’s commanding officer, Capt. Tom Frosch, and the opposing solo pilot, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss (who was killed in a  mishap while launching on a practice sortie out of Nashville two months ago), successfully flew their parts of the routine using a Super Hornet simulator.

“The Super Hornet was designed to fly inverted for twice as long as the legacy Hornet can,” Kindley explained. “There was only one move — “the double Farvel” — that we were concerned about, but we found we won’t have to modify the airplane at all.”

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Double Farvel in action. (Photo: Yosempai)

Kindley would also like to see the crowd-pleasing “high alpha pass,” where the lead and opposing solo planes fly down the show line at very slow speed while cocked up at an extreme angle, flown even slower and more cocked up.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
High alpha pass. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Saul McSween)

“The Super Hornet flies slower better than any airplane I’ve ever seen,” Kindley said. The legacy Hornet flies with about 60 knots of forward airspeed at 25 alpha (the angle between the line of the fuselage and the direction of the airplane’s travel); the Super Hornet can fly even slower at 60 alpha. But, Kindley warns, the engines on a Super Hornet are spread farther apart than a legacy Hornet and so flying in a maximum alpha regime close to the ground could cause a controllability problem if a Super Hornet pilot loses an engine.

Kindley also described the legacy Hornet’s flight control response as “crisper,” meaning the airplane took fewer control inputs to get exactly where the pilot wanted it — obviously an important detail considering how close together the Blue Angels fly in the diamond formation — but he said that would be a training issue for the team and not something that required NAVAIR engineers to rewrite the Super Hornet’s flight control laws.

Overall, Kindley characterized the Blue Angels approach to modifying the show with Super Hornets as “walk before you run.”

“I don’t speak for them, but I imagine they’d start by flying the current routine and then, once they got comfortable, seeing how the show could be adjusted to accommodate the Super Hornet’s performance,” he said.

When asked by WATM what the current Blue Angels pilots thought about the potential for Super Hornets, Lt. Joe Hontz, the team’s public affairs officer, said in an email, “We know there are discussions about the possibility of an upgrade down the road. Until a decision is made, we will continue to fly a safe demonstration on the reliable F/A-18 Hornet, which has been a strong platform for the team since 1986.”

Articles

Marines move 1000 tortoises to expand desert training grounds

More than 1,000 desert tortoises are taking a trip with the Marine Corps this month.


The Marines are using helicopters to relocate the tortoises to another part of the Mojave to make way for an expansion of desert training grounds.

During the two-week long process, the hubcap-sized tortoises are being loaded into plastic containers, which are then stacked and strapped to a helicopter.

Their new home will be swaths of federal land to the north and southeast of the Twentynine Palms base, Marine officials said. The areas were deemed far enough away that the tortoises wouldn’t migrate back to their original habitat.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
U.S. Navy corpsmen from 1st Medical Battalion rush a casualty off an MV-22B Osprey after a simulated combat-related trauma at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California to a treatment facility at Camp Pendleton, July 29, 2016. The Warfighting Lab identifies possible challenges of the future, develops new warfighting concepts, and tests new ideas to help develop equipment that meets the challenges of the future operating environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nadia J. Stark/released)

The cost of the whole effort, including a 30-year monitoring program to ensure the health of the federally protected species, is $50 million.

The Marines at the Twentynine Palms base want to be able to practice large-scale exercises with live fire and combined-arms maneuvering.

The campaign goes back to 2008, when the Corps began studying how to do it without breaking environmental law.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act handed land formerly managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the Defense Department. Tortoises living on that land are now being moved.

In March 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue, arguing that the federal government failed to fully examine how the move might harm the tortoises.

However, the move went ahead this month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Marine Corps that its review wouldn’t be done before the spring window for the move, Marine Corps officials said.

Also read: Hilarious video shows what Marines stationed in 29 Palms don’t say

It’s not the first time that the Corps has been in the tortoise-moving business.

In 2006, the Twentynine Palms base relocated 17 adult tortoises in order to build a training range. Marine officials say no tortoises died during three years of post-move monitoring.

This time, Marine Corps biologists will monitor tortoises intensely for the first five years. Then monitoring requirements will diminish over time until the 30-year obligation is met, officials said.

About 235 juveniles too small for relocation are being admitted to the base’s “head start facility,” where they will remain until they grow large enough to better survive on their own.

Articles

How the Russians captured an American jet in the Korean War

In the skies over Korea in the 1950s, both the Soviet Union and the U.S. debuted new jet fighters of very similar design. The Soviet MiG-15 and American F-86 were nearly evenly matched, but both sides wanted to capture and crack open the other’s jet to see what made it tick.


The Soviets got the chance first when they managed to capture a F-86 Sabre in Oct. 1951.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Air Force

On Oct. 6, 1951, Air Force 2nd Lt. Bill N. Garrett was engaged by a Russian-piloted MiG-15 that got the better of him. Garrett made it out of the fight with his jet, but his engine and ejection seat were damaged.

As Garrett fled to the ocean, another MiG-15 caught sight of him and began chasing him. The American pilot began evasive maneuvers as Soviet rounds ripped past his aircraft. Losing altitude as he fled, Garrett barely made it to the coast before ditching.

But the jet didn’t end up in the deep seawater Garrett had originally aimed for. Because of the altitude he lost and the MiG’s aggressive attacks, Garrett was forced to ditch into mud flats that caught the jet.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
MiG-15s packed a harder punch and could accelerate faster than the Sabres they fought. Photo: Wikipedia/aeroprints.com

Garrett was rescued by a search and rescue pilot who had to land in the mud flats under mortar fire from the coast. Garrett barely made it to his rescue. Behind him, his jet was about to become a hotly-contested objective.

Over the crash site, Sabres and MiGs fought viciously for control. The Soviets lost seven jets and killed zero Sabres before the incoming tide covered the U.S. wreck.

The mission wasn’t over for the Russians. They were forced to disassemble the jet overnight as the tide receded. Working with hundreds of Chinese laborers while U.S. ships fired on them, a Soviet team disassembled the plane and packaged it for transport.

Then the Russians carefully moved it on large trucks north to the border, moving mostly at night. The one time they failed to reach cover before first light, an American plane spotted the convoy and attacked the lead truck with rockets. The truck just managed to get away.

Another American fighter was captured a few weeks later on Oct. 24, giving Russian engineers two examples to study.

The U.S. Air Force estimated after the war that of the Sabres shot down over Korea, at least 75 percent could have been partially or completely recovered by the Soviets. At least one of them was recovered, repaired, repainted, and pressed into service by Communist forces against the Americans.

America got it’s hands on a MiG-15 two years later when Korean pilot No Kum Sok defected with his jet to the U.S.

Articles

Here are 7 things NOT to do before a military move

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Photo: Amy Bushatz, Military.com)


If you sit down at your computer and search for, “Help with PCS,” you will find dozens of articles telling you what to do. Heck, the military even hands your spouse a list that says, “DO THIS.”

This is not one of those lists.

Instead, this is a list to help you de-crazy your brain in those weeks leading up to the Big Move. This is a list that reminds you that everything that needs to get done will, in fact, get done.

And, if it doesn’t? It probably wasn’t that important to begin with.

1. Do Not expect to de-clutter, organize and label every aspect of your life before the movers come.

We have big plans to separate and label all of the junk we aren’t willing to part with this time around, and we may even purchase the storage bins as a proactive move. But, let’s face it. Moving day comes at lightning speed, and you end up lugging all those loose pictures you planned to consolidate into albums. Try again next PCS.

2. Do Not become too attached to those expected dates for your Household Goods to arrive.

Riiight, 5-10 business days? Try two weeks, or a month. Or, half of it within three days, and the other half in six months after they locate it. The point is, bring enough clothes, enough toys and at least one pot for making macaroni and cheese with you to the new duty station, and you’ll survive until the movers get here. … Whenever that is.

3. Do Not bother doing all your laundry before they pack up the house.

If you plan on driving to the next duty station, toss the laundry basket of dirty clothes in your car and finish it while you sit in temporary lodging. Trust me, you’ll need something to do while you’re waiting for your spouse to out-or in-process. Candy Crush gets boring after a while.

4. Do Not plan too many activities the week of moving day.

You will be stressed out, you will be overloaded, and you will already be racking your brain to think of the million and one things you’re probably already forgetting. Plan your last Girl’s Night Out, or your kiddos last play dates the week before, and reserve those final days for the last-minute-details that always seem to pop up.

5. Do Not assume the movers will know not to pack certain things.

Even obvious things like trash, car keys and cat litter boxes. And, if they don’t have a problem packing cat feces, they’re for sure going to assume your child’s favorite stuffed animal that they tossed on the floor — the one that they have to sleep with or the world falls apart — is fair game. So, if you don’t want them to pack it, my best suggestion would be to take open a safety deposit box at the bank and keep all of the stuff you want to take with you in it. I assume that will prevent them from finding it, but no guarantees.

6. Do Not get hung up on what the movers put in which boxes.

As long as it all generally goes in the same room—or floor—of the house, just call it good. You’ll run yourself ragged trying to micromanage an entire house move, and annoy the movers at the same time. Remember, happy movers mean the potential for less damaged items.

7. Do Not sweat the small stuff.

That first PCS will make you crazy as you balance trying to clean out base housing to the housing office’s satisfaction and feeling helpless watching as the packers touch every single item of your personal effects and pack it away for who-knows how long.

A PCS only comes around … well, to be honest, they come around pretty often, which is why a “don’t” list is something we all need. Do Not fret; you learn something from each move, and by the time you make your final one, you’ll be a pro.

Articles

8 US Navy ships named for women

The United States Navy has a history of honoring women – one that goes way back to 1776, when a row galley was named for Martha Washington (George’s wife).  Currently, seven Navy ships named for women are in active service with the United States Navy, and an eighth is on the way. Here’s a rundown on these ships:


1. USS Hopper (DDG 70)

This Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is named for Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper according to the “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.” Admiral Hopper was a computer scientist who served from 1941 to 1986 in the Naval Reserve and active Navy. At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest commissioned officer in the Navy.

The destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) has a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 Vertical Launch System with a total of 90 cells for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66, RIM-161, and RIM-174 Standard missiles, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets. She also has eight RGM-84 Harpoons in two Mk 141 launchers, two Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), four .50 caliber machine guns, and two triple mounts for Mk 32 torpedo tubes.

In January, 2008, the Hopper was one of several U.S. Navy warships that had close encounters with Iranian speedboats.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
USS Hopper (DDG 70) fires a RIM-161 SM-3 missile in 2009. (US Navy photo)

2. USS Roosevelt (DDG 80)

This Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is named in honor of both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady for 12 years, then served as a diplomat and spokesperson for the United Nations.

The destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) has a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) with a total of 96 cells for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66, RIM-161, and RIM-174 Standards, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, two Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), four .50 caliber machine guns, two triple mounts for Mk 32 torpedo tubes, and the ability to carry two MH-60R helicopters.

According to a 2006 US Navy release, the Roosevelt and the Dutch Frigate De Zeven Provincien took part in an attempted rescue of a South Korean fishing vessel captured by pirates. In 2014, the DOD reported the destroyer took part in delivering a rogue oil tanker to Libyan authorities.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
USS Roosevelt (DDG 😎 in the Suez Canal. (US Navy photo)

3. USNS Sacagawea (T AKE 2)

This Lewis and Clark class replenishment ship was named for Sacagawea, the Native American woman who guided the expedition lead by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across the Louisiana Purchase. A previous USS Sacagawea (YT 326) was a harbor tug that served from 1925 to 1945.

The 41,000-ton replenishment ship USNS Sacagawea carries ammo, food, and other supplies to keep the United States Navy (and allies) fighting. The ship also can transfer some fuel to other vessels.  She can carry two MH-60 helicopters to help transfer cargo and have as many as six .50-caliber machine guns.

In 2013, the Sacagawea took part in Freedom Banner 2013 as part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
USNS Sacagawea (T AKE 2) replenishes two amphibious vessels. (US Navy photo)

4. USNS Amelia Earhart (T AKE 6)

The first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart was one of the few women who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 under unknown circumstances. DANFS notes that a Liberty Ship was previously named for the famous aviator.

The 41,000-ton replenishment ship USNS Amelia Earhart carries ammo, food, and other supplies to keep the United States Navy (and allies) fighting. The ship also can transfer some fuel to other vessels. She can carry two MH-60 helicopters to help transfer cargo and have as many as six .50-caliber machine guns.

DANFS notes that on Nov. 20, 2014, the Amelia Earhart collided with USNS Walter S. Diehl (T AO 193).

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) and the Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6) conduct an underway replenishment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (US Navy photo)

5. USNS Mary Sears (T AGS 65)

Mary Sears was the first Oceanographer of the Navy during World War II. According to the website for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, her research on thermoclines saved many American submariners’ lives by enabling our subs to hide from enemy forces.

Fittingly, the U.S. Navy named the Pathfinder-class oceanographic research vessel USNS Mary Sears in her honor. The 5,000-ton vessel has a top speed of 16 knots, and carries a number of sensors for her mission. In 2007, the Mary Sears helped locate the “black boxes” from a missing airliner.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Mary Sears supports worldwide oceanography programs, including performing acoustical, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys. (Unattributed or dated U.S. Navy photograph, Mary Sears (T-AGS-65), Ship Inventory, MSC)

6. USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10)

Former Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — whose husband is astronaut and Navy Capt. Mark Kelly — served for five years before resigning her seat in the aftermath of an assassination attempt.

The Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords has a 57mm gun, four .50-caliber machine guns, and a launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile. The vessel can carry two MH-60 helicopters and MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles.

The ship just entered service in December, 2016, and had a cameo in Larry Bond’s 2016 novel, Red Phoenix Burning, where it was rammed by a Chinese frigate, suffering moderate damage.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
An aerial view of the U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard, Mobile, Alabama (USA). (US Navy photo)

7. USNS Sally Ride (T AGOR 28)

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, flying on two Space Shuttle missions (missing a third after the Challenger exploded during launch), who died after a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2012.

The Navy named the Neil Armstrong-class oceanographic research vessel USNS Sally Ride in her honor. The vessel, which is operated by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, is equipped with acoustic systems for ocean mapping and modular laboratories, according to DANFS. In February,the Sally Ride helped map an underwater fault off the coast of California, providing information that helped to update Google Earth.

A sister ship, the USNS Neil Armstrong (T AGOR 27), named for the first person to walk on the moon, is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Dr. Tamara E. O’Shaughnessy, Sally Ride’s sponsor, breaks a bottle across the ship’s bow during her christening at Dakota Creek’s shipyard in Anacortes, Wash., 4 August 2014. Joining O’Shaughnessy on the platform are Dick Nelson, president, Dakota Creek Industries, Inc., the reverend Dr. Bear Ride, matron of honor, Kathleen Ritzman, assistant director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, Kathryn Sullivan, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research. (US NAvy photo)

8. USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123)

Lenah Higbee was the first woman to receive the Navy Cross – being recognized for her service as Superintendant of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps in World War I. She was recognized with a Gearing-class destroyer in 1945, according to DANFS, that saw action in the last months of World War II.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee will have a 5-inch gun, two Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) with a total on 96 cells for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66, RIM-161, and RIM-174 Standards, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, two Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), four .50 caliber machine guns, two triple mounts for Mk 32 torpedo tubes, and the ability to carry two MH-60R helicopters when she enters service. MarineLog.com reported in January that construction of the destroyer had started.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Lenah Higbee, Superintendant of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I. (US Navy photo)

Articles

ISIS just became the latest victim of the red mercury hoax

Arms smugglers and ISIS buyers are hunting for red mercury, a substance that can make dumb bombs smart, hide anything from a drone, and allow for the creation of miniaturized nuclear weapons. If ISIS actually manages to get their hands on the material, it’s likely they could develop weapons that would wipe out any force sent to destroy them.


Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Imagine this coming from a bomb the size of a suitcase. Photo: FEMA

Luckily, red mercury is a hoax and ISIS is just its latest victim.

Searches for red mercury are like snipe hunts. Those in the know get a good laugh while the new kid tries desperately to find something that doesn’t exist.

As with the legendary snipe, the physical description of red mercury changes depending on who is telling the tale. Sometimes it’s a powder, sometimes liquid. It’s always some tint of red or brown, but it may change to yellow at high temperatures.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
This is mercury iodide, a compound that is red until it is heated about 258 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it turns yellow. There is no temperature at which it becomes a nuclear weapon. Photo: Wikipedia/W. Oelen CC BY-SA 3.0

Likewise, its abilities change in every telling. When references to it first appeared in the 1970s, it was an essential ingredient for boosting the yield of nuclear weapons. As its myth grew, it became capable of guiding missiles to their target or hiding aircraft from enemy radar. It was later described as a nuclear material, capable of fueling a bomb on its own.

The legend of red mercury was boosted through the work of Sam Cohen, a U.S. nuclear physicist. Cohen claimed that red mercury served as a containment vehicle for nuclear reactions, allowing enough pressure and temperature to build for deuterium-tritium fusion bombs to become a reality.

North Korea, Iran, South Africa and others have all searched for the substance to accelerate or enhance their nuclear weapon programs. Now ISIS has joined them, even though the British, Russian, and American governments have all investigated it and determined it is an urban legend.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
An Army major and another research look at something that isn’t red mercury, because red mercury is not real and so can’t be properly researched in labs. Photo: U.S. Army Africa Rick Scavetta

In a recent New York Times piece, journalist C. J. Chivers compiled a number of stories about the element. Men in the Middle East discuss a test of red mercury where a bit of the powder was mixed with chlorine. The resulting gas supposedly filled the room and then the building, forcing all the viewers from the area.

There is also a tale of different types of mercury, from green to red to the “Blood of the Slaves.” That last one can be used by magicians to summon a genie, allegedly.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets

ISIS is looking specifically for the weaponized version of red mercury, and has a photo of what they think it looks like. From the C. J. Chivers piece:

The images showed a pale, oblong object, roughly the length of a hot-dog bun, with a hole at each end. It bore no similarity to the red mercury that smugglers often described — a thick liquid with a brilliant metallic sheen. It appeared to be a dull piece of injection-molded plastic, like a swim-lane buoy or a children’s toy. But it had an intriguing resemblance that hinted at how the Islamic State’s interest might have been piqued: It was the exact likeness of an object that in 2013 the Cihan News Agency, one of Turkey’s largest news agencies, had called a red-mercury rocket warhead.

So what is the government doing to prevent ISIS getting red mercury? Mostly just celebrating that ISIS is expending time and a lot of money to get it. With the International Atomic Energy Authority declaring red mercury “a bunch of malarkey,” there are much worse and very real things ISIS could be hunting for instead, like yellow cake or weaponized anthrax.

Articles

Marines arrive in Syria to support assault on ISIS capital

U.S. Marines arrived in Syria Wednesday to begin the first phase of President Donald Trump’s plan to expel the Islamic State from its capital of Raqqa, The Washington Post reports.


Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Marines with the 11th MEU train in Djibouti. Leathernecks from the 11th MEU reportedly just deployed to Syria to bolster an assault on Raqqa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The Marines reportedly from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit based in San Diego will provide artillery support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, and accompanying U.S. special operators in the assault on the city. The type of artillery base must be within 20 miles of its intended target to be effective, the Post notes. Some infantry Marines accompanied the unit to provide force protection on the mission.

Read More: STRYKER combat vehicles roll into Syria

Trump, along with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, will also likely lift the current cap on U.S. special operators embedded with local forces in tandem with the deployment. The U.S. has approximately 500 special operators in the country currently. Their proposal would also include the use of U.S. attack helicopters, U.S. artillery, and increased arms sales to U.S.-backed forces.

The main recipient of U.S. aid and artillery support will likely be the Syrian Democratic Forces, an anti-ISIS force largely composed of Syrian Kurdish fighters. American reliance on Syrian Kurds will likely spark major tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, who regard the Kurdish forces as an existential threat on par with ISIS. The Kurdish forces have proven the only reliable, large-scale U.S.-backed force capable of fighting the terrorist group effectively.

New strategic plans for Raqqa are likely just a small facet of a new overall strategy to eradicate ISIS. Trump ordered a 30-day review of U.S. strategy, along with options to increase operations tempo, which the Pentagon delivered to the White House Monday.

“This plan is a political-military plan,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told a think tank audience in late February. “The grievances of the [Syrian] civil war have to be addressed, the safety and humanitarian assistance that needs to be provided to people have to be addressed, and the multiple divergent stakeholders’ views need to be addressed.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

popular

We made the best fictional infantry squad ever

Managing an infantry squad is similar to a sports coach shifting players around to positions that best fit their strengths and talents. Since Marines aren’t created equal, capitalizing on those strengths and building up weakness is why the U.S. military is such a juggernaut today.


On special occasions, a Marine infantry squad patrol is comprised of a platoon leader (if he decides to go), a squad leader, three fire team leaders, three SAW gunners, and six riflemen.

This all, of course, depends on how your squad is made up — we’re even going to throw in a Company Gunny for sh*ts and giggles.

Related: 6 newbie boots you wouldn’t want in your infantry squad

So check out our list of who’d make up our infantry squad if we got to pick favorites.

Our Platoon Leader: Splinter

He’s been there, done that, and he’s missing half of an ear from fighting a fellow ninja.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)

 

Our Company Gunny: Gunny Thomas Highway

He eats concertina wire and pisses napalm. What else do you look for in leadership?

 

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: WB/Screenshot)

Our Squad Leader: Sgt. Slaughter

He’s a career Sergeant and loves his country. That is all.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Twitter @_SgtSlaughter)

Three Fire Team Leaders:

1. John McClane

He’s a smart *ss and a pretty good detective, but can’t ever seem to pick up E-5 because of bad luck. Everywhere he goes a terrorist attack breaks out, but he knows how to handle that sh*t.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(20th Century Fox)

2. Indiana Jones

He never quits, plus he’s great at reading maps and studies the cultures of the countries he’s about to help invade.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

3. Neo

He is the “chosen one” and we’re choosing him to be a fire team leader.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: WB/Screenshot)

Saw Gunners

1. Animal Mother

He doesn’t give a sh*t about anything but killing the bad guys which is totally bad ass.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: WB/Screenshot)

2. Rambo

He can carry all the gear and shoot from the hip; no doubt he’ll put accurate rounds down range.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: TriStar/Screenshot)

3. Xander Cage

His hair is always in regs and he’s an adrenaline junky — we like that.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Sony/Screenshot)

Riflemen

1. Luke Skywalker

I mean, obviously, right?

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Buena Vista/Screenshot)

2. Sloth

He’s strong as hell, but needs to be told what to do.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: WB/Screenshot)

3. Deadpool

He’s an outstanding shot, but he’ll never get promoted to Corporal — not with that smart ass attitude.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Flickr)

4. Private Reiben

He’s a hard charger and fights ’til the very end.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Dream Works/Screenshot)

5. Frank Drebin

He’s comical as hell and Marines loved to be entertained while out in the sh*t. Plus he seems to always get the job done…somehow.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

6. Wolverine

He’s always down to fight and can heal himself up, making the Corpsman’s life easier.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Fox/Screenshot)

The Comm Guy/ Radioman: Donatello

The one from the latest movies, not the cartoon version where he can’t get sh*t to work properly. Plus he’s a freakin’ ninja.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: Paramount/Pinterest)

Corpsman: Dr. Doug Ross

He’s good looking and has good hair — so do all Corpsmen.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: NBC/ The Ringer)

Bonus – The first infantrywoman: Imperator Furiosa

Just in case we get stuck in a firefight, she’d be good to have around.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
(Source: WB/Screenshot)

Who would you put into your infantry squad? Comment below.

Articles

Here’s why the US is sending 100 more Marines to Afghanistan

A small number of additional Marines is headed to Helmand province, Afghanistan, temporarily in a move designed to “reinforce advisory activities,” military officials confirmed August 8.


The move was first reported by NBC News August 7, which cited defense sources saying dozens of Marines — fewer than 100 — would be added to Task Force Southwest, a 300-man advisory unit that works with local Afghan National Army and defense forces.

The unit deployed in April, representing the first time Marines have been in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province since they pulled out and ceded headquarters buildings and infrastructure to the Afghans in 2014.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Afghan National Army Sgt. Rhaman, a machine gunner with 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, fires his weapon under the watch of US Marine Sgt. Joshua Watson. Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder.

Prior to the Marines’ arrival this year, a US Army advisory element, Task Force Forge, had been deployed to Helmand.

A spokesman for US Central Command, Army Maj. Josh Jacques, said the move is not related to any Defense Department change in policy or strategy in Afghanistan.

“The reallocation of Marine forces in support of the Resolute Support Mission is a routine, theater-coordinated activity,” he said. “These Marines are already in the US Central Command area of responsibility and will be in Afghanistan temporarily to give Resolute Support the ability to reinforce advisory activities.”

Most Marines in CentCom, which covers all of the Middle East, fall under Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command, which has troops stationed at the Al Asad and Al Taqaddum air bases in Iraq and dispersed to other strategic positions in the region.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo by Sgt. Matthew Moeller

But in the recent past, Marines have also been dispatched from shipboard Marine Expeditionary Units deployed to the region to hot spots in the Middle East. Last year, troops from the 26th MEU were sent to Iraq to establish an artillery firebase and support the assault on the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul.

And earlier this year, an artillery element from the 11th MEU was dispatched to Syria to stand up a mobile fires position in support of the coalition fight to flush ISIS out of Raqqa.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is currently deployed to the Middle East.

Articles

8 military terms civilians always get wrong

We know it’s hard to keep track of military lingo and technical terms, that’s why we’ve published so many guides (Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, Navy). But there are some terms that the media — especially Hollywood — just can’t stop getting wrong when referring to the military.


1. Bazooka

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Army Signal Corps

Bazooka refers specifically to a series of anti-tank rocket launchers used from World War II through the Vietnam War. American troops today do not fire bazookas. There are modern rocket launchers that do the job the bazooka was once used for, but they have their own names, like the “AT-4” and the “SMAW.”

2. Missile/Rocket/bomb

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Lisa Aman

Bombs are explosive devices that are not propelled. They can be placed somewhere, they can be launched, or they can be dropped, but they are not propelled along their route. They may be guided. Rockets are like bombs, except they are propelled along their route without any type of guidance. The fins don’t move and the projectile can’t turn. Missiles are like rockets except they can turn, either under the instructions of an operator or according to an automated targeting system. One of the most common errors is referring to the Hellfire Missile as a Hellfire Bomb.

3. Soldier

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Marines are not soldiers, though they have been referred to as “soldiers of the sea” in past recruiting posters. In the U.S., people not in the Army are not soldiers, especially so for Marines — who will strongly protest being painted with that brush. “Troops” or “service members” are the umbrella terms that refer to all the members of the military.

4. Humvee/Hummer

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Angela Stafford

The military doesn’t have Hummers. They have High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles with the acronym HMMWV, commonly pronounced “Humvee.” Hummer is a civilian, luxury knockoff of the HMMWV. Anyone who has seen the inside of a HMMWV knows that it is not a “luxury vehicle.”

5. Commander

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rosa Larson

Not everyone in charge of troops is a commander. For instance, the highest-ranking officer in each branch, the branch chief of staff, doesn’t actually command anything and is not a “commander.” Neither is their superior, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The only people who are “commanders” have the word “command” in either their rank or job title.

6. UFO

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Niegel

It’s not strictly a military term, but much is made of Air Force reports of UFOs by conspiracy theorists and alien enthusiasts. Without getting into an argument about whether or not aliens are real, UFOs are just unidentified flying objects. The Air Force recording 12,618 of them from 1947 to 1969 does not mean that alien spacecraft have flown 12,618 or more sorties over American soil. It means that there have been 12,618 recorded sightings or sensor contacts of objects in the air. A balloon in an unexpected spot can be recorded as an unidentified flying object.

“UFO” and “alien spaceship” are not synonyms, even though they’re used that way.

7. Collateral Damage

Specifically, this is not shorthand for civilian deaths or a “euphemism.” It is an official term that refers to damage done to any unintended target in any way during an attack. When American bombs were dropped on German trains that were later found to be carrying American prisoners of war, that’s collateral damage to friendly elements. When missiles launched against a bomb maker’s home also damage a nearby mosque, that’s collateral damage.

Of course the most tragic instances of collateral damage are when people, including civilians, are accidentally killed. But those aren’t the only instances of collateral damage.

8. Gun

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Robert R. McRill

Machine guns and sidearms are guns. Most soldiers and Marines are carrying rifles. While it would be nice if the news media would use the more exact term “rifle” when referring to rifles, they can get a pass because the civilian definition of gun does include rifles. Entertainment media needs to learn this lesson though, since troops in movies and T.V. would never call their “rifle” a “gun.” It’s drilled into service members with the same ferocity as the meaning of “attention” or the proper way to salute.

NOW: 15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

WATCH: Biggest Complaints From Soldiers New To Basic Training | Military Insider

Articles

New Got Your 6 star-studded PSA urges Americans to vote

As a tangible way to honor those who fought to defend their freedoms, Americans are being encouraged to perform their civic responsibility just days before Veterans Day in a new national PSA from Got Your 6 and issue-driven media company ATTN:


The PSA launched a nonpartisan campaign “Don’t Just Thank, Vote!” featuring actors and veterans Rob Riggle, David Eigenberg, and J.W. Cortes, actors Tom Arnold and Joe Manganiello, and supporters of the veteran empowerment organization Got Your 6.

“We know that veterans are more engaged in the democratic process, but even if all 21.8 million veterans were to cast a ballot in November, we still wouldn’t reverse the downward trend in voter participation,” said Iraq War veteran and Got Your 6 Executive Director Bill Rausch. “Got Your 6 believes that voting is the most basic civic responsibility, and that disengagement is a sign of faltering community health. As veterans, we feel it is our responsibility to lead from the front by challenging Americans to not just thank us for our service, but to honor every veteran by voting.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 70 percent of registered veterans voted in the 2012 presidential election, compared with 60.9 percent of registered non-veterans. A recent report by Got Your 6 demonstrates that that gap is even more profound in local elections, with 15 percent higher voting rates for veterans over their non-veteran counterparts.

Not only are veterans statistically more likely to vote this Election Day, they are also uniquely positioned to encourage non-veterans to do the same.

The “Don’t Just Thank, Vote!” PSA acknowledges that voter turnout in the United States is among the worst of all developed nations. To increase the voting rate on Nov. 8, the veteran-driven campaign challenges all citizens to show their support of the men and women who wore the uniform through actions, not just words.

Watch the video:


Articles

China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters military service

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet has entered military service, according to multiple news reports.


Reuters late Thursday reported the development, citing a Chinese military report that didn’t offer additional details.

Related: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

The twin-engine fighter, built by Chengdu Aerospace Corp. for the People’s Liberation Army’s air force, first flew in 2011 and made its public debut in November when the PLAAF showed off two of the aircraft at an airshow over coastal city Zhuhai.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
China’s J-20 | Chinese Military Review

Also in the fall, China downplayed reports that the J-20 was spotted at the Daocheng Yading Airport near Tibet or that it may be deployed near the Indian border.

With a reported top speed of 1,300 miles per hour and the ability to carry short- and long-range air-to-air missiles, the jet is often compared to the twin-engine F-22 Raptor, a fifth-generation stealth fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. for the U.S. Air Force.

But the J-20 is believed to be far less stealthy than the F-22.

“The forward-mounted canards, poorly shielded engines and underside vertical stabilizers all limit the amount that its radar cross section — which determines how visible the aircraft is to a radar — can be reduced,” Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, has written.

Even so, the apparent arrival of an operational J-20 highlights China’s growing role as a military power.

The country, the second-largest spender on defense after the U.S., is also developing with private funding the Shenyang FC-31, a twin-engine multi-role fighter that resembles Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A production variant of the FC-31 may fly in 2019.

U.S. lawmakers have in the past questioned Pentagon officials why the government hasn’t retaliated against China for copying the designs of its most advanced fighter jets.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
A rendering of the Chengdu J-20. | Screenshot via hindu judaic/YouTube

“What they’ve been able to do in such a rapid period of time without any RD … I understand there might be some differences as far as in the software and the weaponry and this and that,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, asked during a hearing in 2015. “But they’re making leaps, which are uncommon, at the behest of us, and we know this, I understand, but we’re not taking any actions against them.”

Robert Work, deputy defense secretary, at the time acknowledged that the Chinese “have stolen information from our defense contractors and it has helped them develop systems,” but he added, “we have hardened our systems.”

Articles

This former airman is the first American veteran charged with trying to join ISIS

A veteran of the United States Air Force is accused of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. Tairod Pugh is  a 48-year-old New Jersey man who was an Air Force avionics instruments specialist from 1986 to 1990.


Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Pugh, from his Facebook page.

Pugh was working as a commercial airplane mechanic in Kuwait, but was fired in December 2014. The next month, authorities say he purchased a one-way ticket to Istanbul through Cairo, where Pugh refused to let Turkish authorities search his laptop. The Turks sent him packing back to Egypt. Once back in Egypt, security officers found a number of damaged electronics. The Egyptians deported Pugh back to the United States.

Once there, Pugh told an undercover law enforcement agent he was indeed trying to join the terrorist group. Prosecutors say his laptop had Islamist propaganda videos on it, along with a letter to a woman he married in Egypt in 2014, where he vowed to “defend the ISIS.”

The FBI says Pugh converted to Islam in 1998 while living and working Texas. Former co-workers say he became radicalized, openly sympathizing with Osama bin Laden.

Here’s what it’s going to take to upgrade the Blue Angels to Super Hornets
Pugh court illustration

He was indicted by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization. Twenty-three Americans have been charged for trying to fight for ISIS. Pugh pled not guilty.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information