Here's what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history's most expensive weapons system - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Maryland — In a nondescript US military hangar, steps away from Air Force One, sits America’s priciest weapons system.


“The F-35 is a needed aircraft to get us to where we need to be for the future of warfare,” said US Air Force Maj. Will “D-Rail” Andreotta, the commander of the F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team.

“What it’s giving to the pilots is everything I’m seeing on my screens added to that the helmet, the situational awareness, and the advanced avionics that we have on the aircraft is gonna allow us to fight wars in places that we have very limited capabilities in right now,” Andreotta told Business Insider.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria, a US Air Force Warfare Center commander, walking to an F-35A Lightning II with Lt. Col. Matt Renbarger, a 58th Fighter Squadron commander, before his final qualification flight at Eglin Air Force Base. | US Air Force photo

In August, US Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the commander of Air Combat Command, declared initial combat capability of 15 Air Force F-35A jets — a significant breakthrough for the weapons program, which has been set back by design flaws, cost overruns, and technical challenges.

Also read: The F-35 just proved it can take Russian or Chinese airspace without firing a shot

“When you look at where the Air Force is headed, you look at coalition warfare and spend time in the Pacific, what this means to the interoperability, the ability to operate with others in the battle space and create the coalition warfare that we will always, always, fight with in the future, the centerpiece of that is gonna be the F-35,” Carlisle said at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space Cyber conference.

“The integration, the interoperability, the fusion warfare that this here plane brings to the fight … it changes the game.”

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
An F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft flying with its afterburner over Edwards Air Force Base on a night mission in 2013. | Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

The fifth-generation “jack of all trades” jet was developed in 2001 by Lockheed Martin to replace the aging aircraft in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

The fighter is equipped with radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, and “the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history,” Jeff Babione, the head of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, said in a statement.

And for an enemy to engage an F-35 would be like jumping into a boxing ring to “fight an invisible Muhammad Ali,” as Gen. Tod Wolters, the commander of US Air Forces in Europe, told Business Insider.

In short, the F-35 gives pilots the ability to see but not be seen.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
An F-35B from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), flies near its base a MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. | Lockheed Martin

 

What’s more, Andreotta added, the F-35A is easy to fly.

“The F-35 is a very, very easy airplane to fly — that kinda sounds funny, but it really is … Things that were difficult and time-consuming and task-saturating in an F-16 have now become easy,” said Andreotta, a pilot in the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona who has 1,600 hours in an F-16.

“I can take information that I’m getting from the F-35 and push it out to other aircraft that don’t have the capabilities that I have. That’s huge. I would have killed for that when I was flying an F-16.”

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Maj. Justin Robinson flying the 56th Operations Group flagship F-16 Fighting Falcon, escorting the first F-35 Lightning II to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in 2014. | US Air Force photo

Unlike any other fielded fighter jet, the F-35 can share what it sees in the battle space with counterparts, which creates a “family of systems.”

“Fifth-generation technology, it’s no longer about a platform. It’s about a family of systems, and it’s about a network, and that’s what gives us an asymmetric advantage,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, said during a Pentagon briefing.

Elaborating on the advantages, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, the director of the F-35 integration office, said the aircraft was “one our adversaries should fear.”

“In terms of lethality and survivability, the aircraft is absolutely head and shoulders above our legacy fleet of fighters currently fielded,” said Pleus, an F-35A pilot and former command pilot with more than 2,300 flying hours.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
An F-35A performing a test flight on March 28, 2013. | Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Alongside Andreotta, US Air Force TSgt Robert James, also of the F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team and a pilot in the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, offered some insight as a crew chief.

“Aircraft maintenance is aircraft maintenance, but with the F-35 there is an ease in maintenance,” James told Business Insider.

“What they did with the F-35, I feel, and again I do this every day, is that they thought about the maintainer as well as the pilot. They designed the aircraft in a way that the maintainer could do their job better,” James said.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
An F-35A Lightning II team parking the jet for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho on February 8. | US Air Force photo

And while the F-35 has become one of the most challenged programs in the history of the Department of Defense, US Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Program executive officer, said “the program itself is making progress.”

“Any development program is going to encounter issues,” Bogdan said. “If you’re building a development program and you don’t find anything wrong, then you didn’t do a good enough job building that program.”

He added: “So it’s not a surprise to me that on any given day that we encounter things wrong with this airplane. Now is the time to find those things and fix them. The perfect example is our insulation problem we have right now.

“The mark of a good program is not that you don’t have any problems but that you find things early. You fix them. You make the airplane better, the weapons system better, and you move on.”

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This is what makes the Mark 48 one of the deadliest torpedoes ever built

The US Navy’s submarine service is easily the most powerful ever fielded in the history of submarine warfare. Consisting of Los Angeles, Seawolf, Virginia and Ohio-class boats, this all-nuclear force is silent and deadly, prowling the world’s waterways without anybody the wiser.


While the unlimited range, the quiet and very stealthy nature of these combat vessels makes them incredibly dangerous, it’s their armament that plays the biggest part in making them the most lethal killing machines traversing the oceans today.

Every American submarine in service today is armed with the Mark 48 Advanced Capability torpedo, the latest and greatest in underwater warfare technology. These “fish” are designed to give submarine commanders a flexible tool that can be used to destroy enemy vessels, or serve as remote sensors, extending the operational capabilities of submarines far beyond what they’re inherently able to do while on patrol.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
A Mark 48 being loaded onto the USS Annapolis, a Los Angeles-class submarine (Photo US Navy)

As you can probably tell, these next-level torpedoes have undergone a considerable evolution from their predecessors of decades past. Advanced on-board computers, propulsion systems and explosives combine within the frame of the Mark 48 to make it a highly lethal one-shot-one-kill solution for every American submarine commander serving today.

Like many weapons fielded on modern battlefields the Mark 48 ADCAP is “smart,” meaning that it can function autonomously with a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness, allowing for unparalleled accuracy. When fired in anger, the Mark 48 rushes to its target using a “pumpjet propulsor” that can push the torpedo to speeds estimated to be above 50 mph underwater, though the actual stats are classified.

The high speeds were originally a major requirement to allow American subs to chase down fast-moving Soviet attack submarines, which were also capable of diving deep and out of range, thanks to reinforced titanium pressure hulls.

The Mark 48 is initially guided by the submarine which deploys it through a thin trailing wire connected to the boat’s targeting computers and sensors. Upon acquiring its target, the wire is cut and the torpedo’s internal computers take over, guiding the underwater weapon home with precision.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
US Navy torpedo retrievers secure a Mark 48 to the deck of their boat (Photo US Navy)

In days past, when torpedoes missed their target, they would likely keep swimming on until exhausting their fuel supply, or until they detonated. That’s not the case with the Mark 48, however.

When the Mark 48 misses its target, it doesn’t stop hunting. Instead, it circles around using its onboard computers to reacquire a lock and attempt a second attack.

This time, it probably won’t miss.

When the Mark 48 reaches its target, that’s when all hell breaks loose. Though earlier torpedoes would be programmed to detonate upon impacting or nearing the hull of an enemy vessel, the Mark 48 takes a different path… literally.

When attacking surface vessels, it travels below the keel of the ship, which is generally unprotected, detonating directly underneath. The massive pressure bubble that results from the gigantic explosion doesn’t just slice through the bulk of the target boat – it also literally lifts the ship out of the water and snaps the keel, essentially breaking its back.

When attacking a submarine, it detonates in close proximity to the pressure hull of the enemy boat, corrupting it immediately with a massive shockwave. Once the Mark 48 strikes, it’s game over and the enemy ship’s crew, or at least whoever is left of them, will have just minutes to evacuate before their boat makes its way below the surface to Davy Jones’ locker.

The US Navy is in the process of exploring upgrades to the Mark 48, including diminishing the noise generated by its engine in order to make it nearly undetectable to its targets, and enhancing its in-built detection and targeting systems.

Currently, the Navy fields the Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System variant of the Mark 48 – the 7th major upgrade the torpedo has undergone over its service history.

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The Taliban are using ‘culturally sanctioned male rape’ as a weapon

“Bacha Bazi” – a.k.a. “boy play” – is a practice in which young boys are coerced into sexual slavery, sometimes dressed as women and made to dance. It was popular among the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the years preceding Taliban rule. The centuries-old custom was abolished under the Taliban, a ban that carried a death sentence for those who broke the law. That ban was in effect from 1996 until after the 2001 NATO invasion when it resurfaced.


In Uruzgan province, in central Afghanistan, north of Kandahar, the custom affects many of the local police chiefs. It’s so deeply ingrained in the society there, Taliban insurgents use young boys coerced into the act in Trojan Horse attacks.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

The boys infiltrate the ranks of the Afghan national police or are recruited by the Taliban with the promise of revenge. According to reports from Agence France-Presse (AFP), Afghan policemen say the boys are known to be commanders’ sex slaves and can move about freely. One teenager waited until all the policemen were asleep, then went on a shooting rampage. He allowed the Taliban into the base to finish off any survivors. Such attacks have been going on for two years. There have been many in the first six months of 2016, an indication of a Taliban tactic that seems to be working.

AFP reports all of the 370 Afghan police checkpoints have such sex slaves. The boys are recruited illegally and also used as fighters when necessary. Many policemen in Uruzgan will not work for a checkpoint that doesn’t have these young boys. Provincial governors have difficulty enforcing the laws against Bacha Bazi because the men jailed for it are needed to fight the war against the Taliban or because the leaders are complicit in the crime.

Though the U.S. Department of State considers the custom “culturally sanctioned male rape,” one U.S. Army Special Forces NCO, Charles Martland, was almost kicked out of the Army for trying to prevent the practice. Martland assaulted an Afghan police commander to prevent the commander from raping a young boy. He spent years in limbo before being allowed to stay in the Army.

Related: Green Beret who beat up accused child rapist will be allowed to stay in uniform

Central government authorities are afraid to investigate local police commanders, considering the amount of power they yield. They fear the commanders will not allow anyone investigating them for Bacha Bazi crimes to leave their jurisdiction alive. When the UN raised the issue with the first Afghan President Hamid Karzai, his response was curt.

“Let us win the war first,” Karzai said. “Then we will deal with such matters.”

The Russian government-funded Russia Today (widely known as RT), produced a short documentary about the practice in early 2016.

 
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This is what China plans to do with its air force of the future

The Chinese Air Force will continue to transform from a territorial air defense unit into an extended arm capable of protecting national interests wherever they exist, according to its new commander.


Lieutenant General Ding Laihang said that as China becomes stronger and security challenges continue to emerge, the military is striving to ensure it can safeguard national interests anywhere in the world.

“In the past, our strategies and guidelines focused on territorial air defense. Now we have been shifting our attention to honing our ability in terms of long-range strategic projection and long-range strike,” he told China National Radio for an article published on Sept. 3.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Lieutenant General Ding Laihang. Photo from South China Morning Post.

“A strategic force must go out,” he said. “We will continue to carry out long-distance training over oceans.”

Ding’s predecessor, General Ma Xiaotian, who stepped down in late August, had earlier said the Air Force “cannot simply guard on land and not fly out” in response to questions on Japan’s concerns about the People’s Liberation Army’s “increasing activities” over the Sea of Japan.

Ma said it is normal for the PLA Air Force to conduct training exercises over the sea, adding that “the Sea of Japan is not Japan’s sea”.

Not long after Ma’s comments, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako in the East China Sea and approached the Kii Peninsula. This was the first time the PLA Air Force had flown that route, Japanese media reported.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian HY-6 at Zhuhai Airshow. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Li Pang.

In the Sept. 3 article, Ding pledged that the Air Force will intensify its realistic aerial combat drills and continue to carry out exercises with foreign militaries.

Wang Yanan, editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the Air Force will have two priorities as it moves toward becoming a capable strategic force.

“First, as a lot of new aircraft have been delivered, it must figure out how to make these new planes combat-ready as soon as possible and how to maintain them, as they are different from the old types,” he said.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Y-20 at Airshow China 2016. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Alert5.

“For instance, the Air Force now has Y-20 heavy-lift transport jets, but it needs to design methods and gain experience when it comes to airdropping armored vehicles,” he said. “Owning advanced weapons doesn’t equate to being able to use them well.”

The second priority is that the Air Force must improve its capabilities in coordinating different types of aircraft and air defense missiles in an operation, and also nurture joint operation capabilities with other services, like the PLA Navy and Rocket Force, Wang added.

Citing the new-generation strategic bomber that is under development, Wang suggested the Air Force start studying the plane’s usage in future warfare and work closely with designers to make sure the engine and flight-control system are good and reliable.

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What happened when a Pearl Harbor attacker crash landed in Hawaii

Despite the relatively quick American recovery from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, there’s no doubt that the surprise attack hit the U.S. Army and Navy pretty hard. Despite the excellent execution and planning by the Imperial Japanese Navy, they still took considerable losses, especially given the surprise they achieved.

When the first wave came in with complete surprise, it took minimal losses. Only nine fighters went down in the first wave. With the second wave, more U.S. troops were able to mount a defense, so the incoming Japanese planes took more than twice as many losses. 

A third wave never materialized because the Japanese admirals believed they would lose more planes than they could handle. But even before they launched that day, the Japanese knew, as any powerful military force knows, that no plan survives contact with the enemy. So they had a planned rendezvous point for airmen whose planes couldn’t make it back to the carriers: the Hawaiian island of Niihau. 

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Aerial view of Niihau, 2007 (Christopher P. Becker/ Wikimedia Commons)

The tiny island of Niihau is just a 30-minute flight from Pearl Harbor and was a designated rescue point for pilots who had to take their planes down for some reason, whether it be engine failure or damage from American defenders. Flying all the way to Niihau was much better than trying to be rescued in the vast Pacific Ocean. 

Petty Officer Shigenori Nishikaichi’s Zero was heavily damaged during his second wave attack run on Wheeler Army Air Field, so he was forced to go to this contingency plan. He was able to land on the island, but his plane took even more damage in the attempt. Still, Nishikaichi was alive on what he (and the Imperial Japanese Navy) thought was an uninhabited island.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Shigenori Nishikaichi (Wikimedia Commons)

It must have been a big surprise to Nishikaichi when he was helped out of his damaged plane by a native of the island. Niihau is the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands and was privately-owned, but in 1941 it had a population of 136 native Hawaiian-speaking people and a handful of others. Three of them happened to be Americans of Japanese descent.

When Nishikaichi crash-landed there, Aylmer Robinson was the owner of the island and didn’t allow visits from outsiders. The man who rescued him knew there were tensions between Japan and the United States but was completely unaware of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even so, the man took Nishikaichi’s sidearm and papers. 

The Hawaiians on the island greeted their unexpected visitor with a party and a dinner that night, but the two sides could not communicate. Nishikaichi spoke little English and the natives spoke no Japanese, so until the Japanese residents could be found, they were unable to talk to one another. 

A local named Shintani spoke with the pilot very briefly but quickly walked away. The local Japanese couple, the Haradas, arrived next, and they spoke at length. Nishikaichi told them about the attack on Oahu and asked for help in getting his secret papers back from the natives. They decided to help him. Unfortunately for Nishikaichi, that same night, the locals learned about the attack on the radio and turned on him. The Haradas agreed to hold the pilot, with four guards stationed around their home. 

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Rusted parts of the Niihau Zero as displayed at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Wikimedia Commons)

Later that night, the Haradas waited for an opportunity to overpower the guards. When three of them departed, they attacked and locked him in a warehouse. The three Japanese armed themselves and headed for the man who still had the papers. Seeing they were armed, he fled and raised the alarm in a nearby village. Residents of the village fled when the Japanese trio began firing a shotgun. 

Meanwhile, the Niihauans signaled for help to the main islands, where the island’s owner lived. The night went on as the Japanese began capturing locals to forcibly enlist their aid in tracking down the pilot’s precious papers. When they captured a Hawaiian husband and wife, their hours-long search took its toll. At an opportune moment, the wife threw herself on Nishikaichi as Harada struggled to throw her back off. 

In response, Nishikaichi shot the husband three times with a pistol concealed in his boot. The man got right back up and threw the pilot into a stone wall. His wife crushed Nishikaichi’s head with a rock as the man slit his throat. Harada turned the shotgun on himself and committed suicide. 

The couple went to a nearby hospital as military police arrived on the island. The remaining Japanese citizens were arrested for aiding Nishikaichi. The incident was seen as proof that Japanese American citizens could not be trusted during the war when discussing Japanese internment. 

Strangely, Hawaii’s Japanese citizens were never held in internment camps.

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Why World War II soldiers mutinied in the days after V-J Day

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese Empire accepted the United States’ demands for surrender. On September 2nd, the documents formalizing the agreement were finally signed aboard the USS Missouri. World War II in the Pacific was finally over. 

Over the course of four years, the U.S. transported an estimated 7.6 million troops overseas to fight World War II. In September 1945, it was thought that they could get those troops back to their homes in time for Christmas. For many GIs, that didn’t happen and they were reasonably upset. 

If there had still been a war to fight, there’s no doubt American troops would have fought on without real complaints (soldiers will always grumble over the quality of food). But with no enemy left to vanquish, boredom and homesickness quickly set in. As 1945 turned to 1946, the men in uniform overseas began to make themselves heard. 

In “The Army ‘Mutiny’ of 1946,” author R. Alton Lee wrote that the actions soldiers and sailors took to protest the delays could easily qualify as mutiny, an offense punishable by death under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

Crowd of people, many waving, in Times Square on V-J Day at time of announcement of the Japanese surrender in 1945 / World-Telegram photo by Dick DeMarsico. (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not as though the War Department didn’t plan for how to get those troops home. Before the war in Europe ended, it knew there had to be a plan for demobilization in place to get these soldiers back to the United States. It came up with a point system that counted up a soldier’s time in service, time deployed, time in combat, and whether or not they had children waiting for them. 

Those with more points were given priority in shipping back home. It was generally considered a fair system of getting those who had sacrificed the most back to their real lives. The only problem really was gathering the ships required to transport them. That would take more time. 

With the war (and the national unity that came with it) now over, politicians in the United States were now free to start scoring political points over the government’s handling of demobilization. These weren’t just empty stunts, however, Americans wanted their loved ones back home and they let Congress know how they felt. Representatives were under immense pressure to demobilize. 

As pressure mounted in the United States, deployed service members began to hold protests and demonstrations themselves. Rallies were held in Paris, Manila and Frankfurt. They marched in London to get the attention of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who met with representatives of the protesting servicemen. They even marched in front of the home of their commanding officers, including the commander of all U.S. troops in Europe, Gen. Joseph McNarney.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Troops from the armies 164th infantry rest at a stand still at Guadalcanal. (Wikimedia Commons)

With the war going on, this kind of discontent would never have exploded into public outbursts. The behavior of U.S. servicemen would have been regarded as a mutiny and agitators would have been arrested or shot. In this winter of discontent, however, its was an understandable frustration.

With American morale at an all-time low, communist agents saw an opportunity to further agitate the dissenting crowds of soldiers. They helped the GIs formally organize their protests to maximize the visibility of the events and embarrass the U.S. and other western powers. 

But the War Department’s demobilization plan was actually working. Regardless of the wait times and discontent within the ranks, servicemembers were going home by the millions. The mutinies reached a fever pitch in January 1946, but by March, it would be a distant memory.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 29 edition)

Here’s what you need to know to make it over the hump on Hump Day:


Now: Triple-amputee Bryan Anderson catches waves with style

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This War of 1812 veteran saw the Battle of Gettysburg from his porch – then joined it

These days it’s hard to think of a veteran who could have served from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It’s happened, of course.


But imagine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 years — much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.

An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.

But not John Burns.

He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.

See, Burns already lived twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attack – or so he thought.

Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.

When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.

His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifle – a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder horn – and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.

This time, he wasn’t turned away; but the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.

They were wrong.

Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.

John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat.” But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.

He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some level–he survived his wounds and lived for another 9 years.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War. The Confederates would spend the rest of the war – two years – on the defensive.

As the poem “John Burns of Gettysburg,” written after the war by Francis Bret Harte, goes:

“So raged the battle. You know the rest. How the rebels, beaten and backward pressed, Broke at the final charge and ran. At which John Burns — a practical man — Shouldered his rifle, unbent his brows, And then went back to his bees and cows.”

Burns became a national hero after the battle. When President Lincoln stopped in the Pennsylvania town to deliver the Gettysburg Address, he asked to speak with Burns and met the veteran at his home.

He was photographed – a big deal at the time – and a poem was written about his life. A statue of Burns was erected at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1903, where it stands today.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system

The base reads “My thanks are specially due to a citizen of Gettysburg named John Burns who although over seventy years of age shouldered his musket and offered his services to Colonel Wister One Hundred and Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Colonel Wister advised him to fight in the woods as there was more shelter there but he preferred to join our line of skirmishers in the open fields when the troops retired he fought with the Iron Brigade. He was wounded in three places. – Gettysburg report of Maj.-Gen. Doubleday.”

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This recent pit stop by Navy SEALs was mistaken for a Mexican invasion

When three swift attack boats recently showed up in an unlikely spot — Dana Point Harbor — speculation ran in two directions: The boats were from the Mexican Navy or from Department of Homeland security on an immigration mission.


An Aug. 1 article by Parimal M. Rohit in the Log, a boating and fishing magazine, described the July 11 sighting of the stealth-looking boats in the harbor.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
No sir, it wasn’t us. (Photo by J. Michael Schwartz, US Navy)

“These boats might have been moving around out in the open for all to see, but no one really knows why these vessels were visiting Dana Point Harbor in the first place,” Rohit wrote.

The Log reported that officials from three local agencies, OC Parks, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, said they did not know why these boats were in the harbor or what agency they came from.

Eventually, Rohit reported, the Log confirmed both vessels “were indeed part of the Mexico Navy fleet, as a few people on the internet guessed.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 2, three boats like those mentioned by the Log appeared again in the harbor at the fuel dock, reigniting the speculation.

The next day, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to the Register that what the Log had identified as the Mexican Navy was, in fact, U.S. Navy SEALS.

“This is the second time they stopped in our harbor,” he said.

“If the Mexican Navy were in the harbor, we would be informed ahead of time by the Department of Defense or Homeland Security,” Himmel added.

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These badass historical women cross-dressed so they could fight with the boys

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system


In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced that the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women. Why was this such a massive deal? Because it shattered the U.S. military’s final “brass ceiling.” Even though women have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 15 years, thousands of jobs remained off-limits until this year. We’re pretty sure that the badass women on this list would approve of the decision. Why’s that? Because they had to cross-dress in order to fight on the frontlines.

1. Hannah Snell

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
Hannah Snell | Wikimedia Commons

On June 2, 1750, a Marine named James Gray made the following announcement in a London pub:

“Why gentlemen, James Gray will cast off his skin like a snake and become a new creature. In a world, gentlmen, I am as much a woman as my mother ever was, and my real name is Hannah Snell.”

As you can probably imagine, the gentlemen were gobsmacked by the news that their good friend James was actually a chick named Hannah Snell. Never heard of her? You’re in for a treat. Born in 1723, Hannah was an Englishwoman who disguised herself as a man so she could fight for King and Country. How’d she alight on such an unconventional career path? Her husband ran out on her after their infant daughter died. Snell heard a rumor that he was in the military, so she borrowed her brother-in-law’s identity so she could give him a well-deserved ass whooping. She later discovered that her hubbie had been executed for murder. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing an adventurous military career disguised as James Gray. Snell eventually sold her story to the London publisher Robert Walker, who published her account, The Female Soldier, to great acclaim. It’s a page-turner.

2. The Chevalier d’Éon

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The Chevalier d’Éon | Wikimedia Commons

The Chevalier d’Éon was a famous French spy with androgynous physical characteristics and a razor-sharp mind. Born in 1728, D’Éon played a key role in negotiating the Peace of Paris in 1763, whichformally ended the Seven Years’ War between France and Britain. In addition to being a skilled diplomat, D’Éon was, by most accounts, one of the more fascinating figures of the 18th-century. Hesuccessfully infiltrated Empress Elizabeth of Russia‘s court by posing as a woman, but publicly identified as a man for the first 49 years of his life. In 1777, he began dressing as a woman—claiming to have been female at birth. When Louis XVI told the decorated spy to pick a gender and stick to it,D’Éon defected to England. London society welcomed D’Eon with open arms and she dressed as a woman for the next 33 years. A post-mortem autopsy reportedly concluded that D’Éon was anatomically male. Was the Chevalier transgender? It’s hard to say. Here’s what we do know: theChevalier d’Éon was a grade-A badass.

3. Loretta Janeta Velazquez:

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Loreta Janeta Velázquez as herself (right) and disguised as “Lieutenant Harry Buford” (left)

Did you know that as many as 400 women cross-dressed so they could fight on the frontlines during the Civil War? All of these women were hardcore badasses, but Loretta Janeta Velazquez took it to a whole ‘nother level. Born in 1824 to a rich Cuban family, she got super annoyed when her husband joined up with the Confederates in 1861. Why? Because she wanted to go with him. She found a novel way of getting around the problem:

“Not content with life alone, Velazquez decided to use her wealth to finance and equip an infantry battalion, which she would bring to her husband to command. She cut her hair, tanned her skin, and went by the name Lt. Harry T. Buford. She went on to fight in various battles, including Bull Run and Shiloh, but her gender was twice discovered and she was discharged.”

What’d she do once her cover was blown? She became a cross-dressing spy. Some people are just more interesting than the rest of us.

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4 night terrors America’s enemies have about Jim Mattis

Retired Marine Gen. and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis was recently asked what kept him up at night and he responded, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night,” because Mattis is a stone-cold killer. And he’s right.


Here is how four enemies of America try, and fail, to get sleep:

1. Supreme Man-Child Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un ends every night surrounded by the young women of his personal harem, but even that isn’t enough to distract him from his one true fear, Jim Mattis. When Mattis ruled only the Marine Corps, the dreams were frightening enough. Marines assaulted North Korea’s miles of exposed coastline while Harriers roared over Pyongyang.

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(Image: YouTube/JoBlo TV Show Trailers)

But now, Mattis has a hold of the entire military, and the sick dictator tosses and turns in his bed with the images of stealth-enhanced Blackhawks swooping over his palace and depositing the elite operators of SEAL Team 6. Their attack dogs tear out the throats of his most loyal bodyguards as the SEALs sweep, slightly crouched and sighting down the barrel for new threats, through polished hallways.

In Kim’s mind, the SEALs stealthily stack on his bedroom. He looks across the massive bed at the slight gap beneath the door and searches for any change in the light, any flicker that may indicate that Mattis’s mad dogs are here at last.

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(Photo: Department of Defense)

Nothing. No shadows, no lights, and no quiet boot falls interrupt the night. But Kim knows he will go without sleep once again.

And Kim isn’t the only enemy of America who is more afraid of the dark than ever before. Here are three others who share in his terror-ridden insomnia:

2. ISIS’s top dude Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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(Photo: U.S. Army)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi holds his final meeting each nightfall for as long as possible, offering pine nuts and Chai to his few remaining aides and field commanders until they beg for sleep. He reluctantly agrees, allowing them to file out of his chambers. But the moment the door closes on them, he can feel the dread closing around him.

He forces himself not to look over his shoulder as he has so many times before, but that doesn’t stop the thoughts. The wall suddenly explodes inward as charges create three openings for Delta Force to pour through. Their suppressed weapons chuckle in the dust clouds from the explosions. Amid the cracks of the rifles and guns, another sound is audible. It’s Jim Mattis, and he’s laughing in full kit.

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Al-Baghdadi feels the first round pierce his lung as the second rips through his shoulder. He imagines himself slumped over, coughing, as the lights go out. He finally looks over his shoulder and prays the wall, and his crumbling “caliphate,” survives for just one more night.

3. Taliban’s current leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada

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Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. John Bainter

A former Taliban judge and professor, Hibatullah Akhundzada is a true believer of his perverse version of Islam. But he also believes in patterns, and his predecessor was killed in a drone strike just like many of his peers. He has to force his anxiety down every time he gets into a car or walks outside for too long. But by nightfall, he doesn’t have the energy to keep the phantoms at bay.

He can hear the soft buzz of the drone’s engines as it circles him in the sky. He knows the thermal sensors can see which room he’s in as even his breath is enough to heat the small room he hides in. He wonders what kind of weapon it will fire when it comes for him.

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Predator firing Hellfire missile. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Hellfire would approach with a roar as its engine propelled it through the night, but the Paveway would fall with a slight whistle.

He knows it’s wrong, but every time he thinks of the drone that will finally end the nightmare, he imagines it has a full cockpit with Mattis, grinning, at the controls. Mattis flips up his visor, takes a long pull from a beer bottle, and toasts the bomb as it lands.

4. Leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri has watched al-Qaeda go from the most infamous terror organization on Earth to a group of zealots barely visible in the shadow of ISIS. But he knows that some of his enemies will never forget which organization attacked on 9/11. Leaders like Mattis aren’t distracted black flags.

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Photo: (U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Akeel Austin)

He knows it’s Mattis who will keep the analysts working daily to find him, to track his patterns. Is tonight the night? The night that Mattis passes hand signals down the line as the Osprey approaches the compound and transitions from forward to vertical flight.

The rotor wash beats against al-Zawahiri’s building as Mattis and the Marine Raiders fast rope onto the roof. The al-Qaeda fighters rush to their assigned defense posts, prepared to make the Marines bleed for every room. But Mattis expected this. A young Marine detonates a charge on the roof directly over al-Zawahiri.

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Lance Cpl. Corey A. Ridgway fires the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales)

When it explodes, the blast wave disorients everyone in the room with al-Zawahiri, and Mattis descends through the hole headfirst with an M27 in his hands. The 5.56mm rounds rip through the bodyguards and then al-Zawahiri himself.

Al-Zawahiri shakes himself and turns on his TV to spend another night watching the videos Osama Bin Laden sent him before his death.

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Hackers can take a hidden test to become mid-grade officers in the US Army’s Cyber Command

As cyber attacks on the US become commonplace, disorienting, and potentially damaging to the US’s fundamental infrastructure, the US Army’s Cyber Command reached out to civilian hackers in a language they could understand — hidden hacking puzzles online.


In the opening sequence of a Go Army commercial for Cyber Command, green text scrolls on a vacant computer as the narrator details the ominous state of cyber crime today. Viewers who watch closely will find a URL at the bottom of the screen that leads to Recruitahacker.net.

From there, the user can enter rudimentary commands and access a hacking puzzle. Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone told reporters at Defense One’s Tech Summit on July 13 that of the 9.8 million people who viewed the ad online, 800,000 went on to attempt the hacking test. Only 1% passed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LZnOorfS_Q
Business Insider attempted the test and failed swiftly.

“We have the world’s adversaries trying to come at our nation,” said Nakasone, who explained that in the next few months qualified hackers could undergo “direct commissioning” and find themselves as “mid-grade officers” in the Army’s Cyber Command. Hackers who can pass the test online will be invited to apply for a role within the Department of Defense.

With Russia’s attempts to hack into voting systems during the 2016 presidential election and its alleged infiltration of US nuclear power plants keeping the US’s cyber vulnerabilities constantly in the news, Nakasone said Cyber Command will put together 133 teams to do battle in the cyber realm.

In light of the recent attacks, Nakasone said he’s seen “more enthusiasm or desire to serve and join the government or military” and that he looks forward to bringing civilians into the battle against foreign cyber crime.

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You need to see this GoPro video of Marines in the jungle

Everyone remembers the 1980s war movies with their action-packed jungle sequences and grunt lifestyle. “Full Metal Jacket,” “Hamburger Hill,” “Apocalypse Now,” and others were products of the most recent conflict at the time — the Vietnam War.


Related: Here’s the way-funnier version of what the Marine PFT is really like

Today, movies like “Black Hawk Down,” “American Sniper,” and others represent the wars of this generation. It seems like the only jungle fighting Americans get into nowadays is in video games. But just because U.S. troops aren’t involved in a jungle conflict right now doesn’t mean its troops don’t train for it.

Armando Nava, a Marine and fitness enthusiast stationed in Okinawa, Japan, captured his jungle warfare training on his GoPro camera. The video, “Military Real Life FIRST PERSON SHOOTER | Jungle Warfare Experience,” is exactly what you’d expect.

It captures the aura of most first-person shooters — the instructional phase.

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NavaTheBeast, YouTube

Then it’s off to repelling off a cliff …

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NavaTheBeast, YouTube

… crawling through mud …

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NavaTheBeast, Youtube

… and grabbing some field chow.

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NavaTheBeast, YouTube

After chow, it’s off to crossing the jungle on this bridge made out of rope …

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NavaTheBeast, YouTube

… and back on this minimal version.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

There’s nothing like passing out in a woobie after a long day of training.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

But don’t be the first to fall asleep.

Here’s what the people who fly and fix the F-35 have to say about history’s most expensive weapons system
NavaTheBeast, YouTube

Nava’s video of Marines in the jungle captures the side of the Corps only some would understand. Surely if GoPros existed in the 1980s, the soundtrack would be “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses, but the bangin’ electronic dance music paired with his footage perfectly represents modern times. We’re fans. Keep it up, Nava.

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6ag2tisV1k
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