Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China - We Are The Mighty
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Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

As the United States reenters the realm of great power competition, America needs to maintain its technological edge in stealth, but would benefit from a renewed emphasis on speed in combat aviation… even at the expense of observability in some platforms.

For some, the above sentence will read like a ham-fisted oxymoron coming from a chump who doesn’t understand how air power works in the modern era. After all, the most potent threats on the horizon come from China and, to a lesser extent, Russia–both nations with advanced air defense capabilities that would make even the most capable fourth-generation fighters like the new F-15EX a pretty easy target.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
U.S. Air Force F-15EX Eagle II (Left) next to an F-15E Strike Eagle (Right) (USAF Photo)

Related: THE F-15EX MAY BE THE BADDEST 4TH-GEN JET ON THE PLANET

The F-15EX is, quite literally, the fastest aircraft in Uncle Sam’s operational inventory, so one could argue that speed just isn’t what combat aviation is about anymore. In fact, that’s exactly what you’ll hear from most fighter pilots today. The F-35, for all its faults, is widely touted as perhaps the most capable tactical aircraft in history, despite being almost slow compared to Cold War powerhouses like the F-14 Tomcat. The F-35A can achieve speeds as high as Mach 1.6, while the F-35B and C are both limited to Mach 1.3–a speed they can only maintain for less than one minute. The long-retired Tomcat, on the other hand, could pass Mach 2.3 without breaking much of a sweat.

The truth of the matter is, in a high-end fight with a nation like China, the United States would be better off flying a fleet of slower F-35s than faster (and more easily targeted) F-14s… but that line of thinking isn’t accurate to the reality of America’s simmering conflict with China. Open and conventional war with China is extremely unlikely any time in the relative future, and while America needs to invest in the technology and a force structure that can deter such a fight even further, the Sino-American conflict is more likely to play out like a new Cold War in the decades to come. That means competing in the developing world, rather than in China’s backyard.

Finally, if a large-scale war were to break out, American pilots will need speed to effectively manage individual engagements as the conflict presses on. Sometimes, the best tactical decision a pilot can make is to “bug out,” or escape the area and an opponent’s advantage. That’s where speed, once again, becomes vital to survival.

Competition with China and Russia will take place in the developing world

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
China’s first military base in Africa was opened in Djibouti in 2017 (PLA Daily)

Related: J-20 FIGHTER BOMBER: CHINA’S PLAN TO FIELD THE WORLD’S FIRST 2-SEAT STEALTH FIGHTER

Immediately after World War II, the United States and Soviet Union found themselves in a decades-long staring match that prompted huge investments in military capability across both nations. The goal was simple: build the platforms you’d need to win the third World War, and that alone may be enough deterrence to prevent it from starting. Both nations built fighters and bombers that could fly ever higher, ever faster, hoping to defeat burgeoning air defenses like the SR-71 could… by simply outrunning any missile you could shoot at it.

Let there be no doubt that this method of deterrence was effective, and in truth, the most potent weapon systems are those you never have to actually employ in order to achieve your geopolitical goals. But the unintentional side effect of developing more powerful nuclear weapons and more capable airpower platforms was an inability for American and Soviet forces to actually engage one another without bringing about the nuclear apocalypse.

In order to avoid that possibility, the United States and Soviet Union turned to partner nations and proxy forces, expanding influence and strategic leverage around the globe through overt diplomacy and covert military action and assistance. In some cases, partner or proxy forces supported by each respective nation would clash, leading to America’s involvement in conflicts like the Vietnam War. Terrible as these conflicts were, they were considered a tolerable alternative to nuclear winter as the world’s two superpowers tip-toed on the line of global conflict.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
1960s era Soviet propaganda poster depicted Soviet support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam war.

China, a nation that wields not only nuclear weapons but a vast amount of economic leverage and the largest naval force on the planet, is similarly positioned for a long and drawn-out staring contest with the United States. Not only would such a fight cripple both national militaries, but it would also neuter China’s ongoing plans for expanding its global influence, as well as create chaos throughout the global economy for decades to come.

Related: JUST HOW BIG IS CHINA’S NAVY? BIGGER THAN YOU THINK

China isn’t going to declare war on the United States any time soon… But China and the United States are going to continue to compete in practically every appreciable way, which includes establishing relationships in developing countries for the purposes of gaining access to strategic resources and ports. As luck (perhaps bad luck) would have it, the regions of the world that are most likely to have those very sorts of commodities on the market throughout the 21st century are often exactly where American and allied forces are already conducting counter violent extremists operations (Counter VEO): Africa and the Middle East.

But while America and its allies have been accumulating operational experience in these theaters, China hasn’t been sleeping. Despite China largely staying out of the Global War on Terror, it has been expanding its influence in these same regions via economic and infrastructure programs, including providing massive loans to developing nations that many suspect won’t be able to pay China back. China, it seems, would prefer they didn’t anyway–as the leverage defaulted loans would offer is more strategically valuable than paying interest on a loan could be.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Chinese-built Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway. (Photo: Skilla1st)

“Right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometers are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous,” explained Daan Rogeveen, an author and expert on urbanization in China and Africa.

As a result, there’s an extremely high likelihood that the United States will find itself supporting proxy or partner forces in places like Africa and the Middle East. In fact, America already does. These forces will likely find themselves in direct competition with proxy or partner forces receiving support from China and Russia. The quagmire that is the ongoing conflict in Syria serves as a contemporary example of just how diverse foreign interests within a single nation can be, and just how dangerous operations in one can get.

America’s only dogfight in more than 20 years was in uncontested airspace against a 50-year-old jet

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel is the only American fighter pilot to score an air-to-air kill since 1999. (U.S. Navy photo)

It’s worth noting that it was, in fact, over Syria that the United States scored its only air-to-air kill in literal decades in 2017, when a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet was forced to engage a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter that was attacking partner forces on the ground.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Syrian Air Force Su-22

This short fight also offered an important lesson about bridging the gap between longstanding airpower and the cutting-edge systems employed by the United States. Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel, the pilot in the Super Hornet, first locked onto the Soviet-era Su-22 with the one of the Navy’s latest and most advanced air-to-air weapons, the AIM-9X, but when he fired, the Fitter deployed flares and managed to fool what was previously considered to be the most capable air combat missile in service.

“It came off the rails quick,” Tremel said. “I lost the smoke trail and I had no idea what happened to the missile after that.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
AIM-9X Sidewinder (U.S. Navy photo)

Related: AIR FORCE’S NEW F-15EX MAKES DOGFIGHTING DEBUT IN ALASKA WAR GAMES

Tremel then locked on once again with an older AIM-120 AMRAAM and fired, this time finding his target and turning the Su-22 into a fireball. While the Pentagon hasn’t offered an explanation as to why their newest missile failed to discern a real fighter from a bucket of flares, some experts have postulated that it may have been a result of the AIM-9X being too well-tuned to distinguish jets from the latest and most advanced flares employed by top-of-the-line 4th and 5th generation platforms. The Su-22 has been flying since 1966, and its dirty old flares weren’t something the AIM-9X expected to run into.

Sometimes, winning a fight isn’t about who fields the latest or most expensive technology. It’s about who fields the right technology for the right situation.

Detection isn’t a threat over the developing world. Distance is.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

On October 4, 2017, a group of U.S. Army Green Berets and Nigerian soldiers was ambushed by fighters from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in Niger. The tragic firefight ended with four dead U.S. troops, five dead Nigerian soldiers, and some difficult questions about how the most highly trained warfighters in the world with support from the most powerful military in the world found themselves fighting through a tactical disadvantage without any air support close enough to make a difference.

In 2012, a coordinated attack against two separate U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya came with similarly painful lessons. When the dust settled, four Americans were dead, including two CIA contractors and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Like the ambush in Niger, air support for Americans in Libya was too far away to provide any meaningful assistance throughout the majority of the fight.

These two instances were outliers stretched across two decades worth of counter-extremist operations, but they both perfectly demonstrate the very real limitations of American airpower when it comes to distance. Public perception of American airpower is not always congruous with the realities of combat, an issue that extends all the way to partner forces. The assumption among most is that America has all-seeing aircraft flying overhead at all times… but that simply isn’t true.

“Unfortunately, public perception is driven sometimes by news coverage, but also by modern movies,” Dr. James Kiras explained about partner forces in a recent episode of The Irregular Warfare Podcast.

“And the idea that somehow we can’t maintain persistent coverage, that a cloud-for example-moving between you and a target could allow you to lose coverage for a critical period just seems completely inconceivable to them.”

Related: F-35 PILOT: FORGET DRONES, THE SKIES STILL BELONG TO FIGHTER PILOTS

The American people also tend to think that the United States has MQ-9 Reapers or armed F-15E Strike Eagles standing by within firing distance of every military operation–something that has been true to a large extent throughout the past two decades of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a “stack” of air support platforms are often standing by to engage the enemy. Now, however, as the U.S. repositions assets to better deter Chinese aggression, there will be fewer air platforms to go around in these regions.

At the same time, American special operations forces tasked with fighting or training proxy fighters for conflicts in Africa and the Middle East will be spread out further and operating with less support than ever before in the modern era. Without a new approach to air support, it’s a recipe for Niger or Benghazi-style disasters.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
This chart offers some visual context regarding the vast size of the African continent. It would take even America’s fastest fighters multiple hours and frequent refuels to cross the continent. (WikiMedia Commons)

In order to provide real airpower where it’s needed, the United States doesn’t need a fleet of slow and stealthy F-35s standing by on airstrips across friendly African nations–it needs fast air platforms with great fuel range and loitering capabilities that can reach operators in need, provide air support as necessary, and still make it back to an airstrip.

America will also need less advanced platforms that can fly from austere airstrips and travel alongside special operations teams (the Armed Overwatch Program). There are no advanced air defenses to defeat or sneak past in places like Africa. The greatest challenge to overcome then is what’s commonly referred to as “the tyranny of distance.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
A Beechcraft AT-6 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Platforms like the AT-6 are being tested for us in air support and ISR roles in places Special Operations troops are operating without traditional air support. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner)

Related: DRONES WILL COMPETE WITH CREWED AIRCRAFT FOR AFSOC ARMED OVERWATCH PROGRAM

When isolated elements of American troops are caught at a disadvantage, waiting four hours or more to get an F-16 on station may require a miracle, but waiting more than twice that long for a slow-moving MQ-9 Reaper may be impossible. Worse still, once the fast-moving F-16 does reach the embattled troops, they usually only have about 30 minutes of fuel to burn before having to head back–once again leaving these isolated troops without air support.

Speed has already proven handy in combat in the uncontested airspaces of the Middle East. Two years ago, I interviewed Major “Coyote” Laney, a B-1B pilot instructor from the 28th Bomb Squadron, for Popular Mechanics. He told me a story about one air support mission he flew in which the supersonic bomber’s speed made all the difference.

“I remember in Afghanistan where troops needed help across the entire country and I could go 1.2 Mach all the way there and still have enough gas to hang out when I got there,” Laney explained.

“So you can take a platform that’s on the East side of Afghanistan and 15 or 20 minutes later, I’m showing up when there’s no one else for several hundred miles that could help.”

Of course, the B-1B Lancer is now slated for retirement, with the sub-sonic and stealthy B-21 Raider slated to replace it.

We need stealth to deter China, but we need speed and volume to counter them

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

We have a bad habit of treating these sorts of discussions like they’re all-or-nothing debates. When the Air Force requests funding for new F-15s, lawmakers and the public together cry foul at the idea of spending money on old jets that lack the stealth they’d need to survive a fight against China or Russia. Then, when the Air Force uses stealthy F-22s to conduct airstrikes against targets in uncontested airspace over places like Afghanistan, lawmakers and the public again cry foul over the high cost of using a stealth fighter for such a simple job. We can’t have it both ways, but we do need both jets.

America needs platforms like the F-35 and forthcoming Next Generation Air Dominance fighter to win the wars of tomorrow, and importantly, to deter them today, but we can’t let our American preference for only the newest and best platforms unduly influence the composition of our military forces. In a perfect world, the United States wouldn’t need any fighter jets. In an almost perfect world, the U.S. could afford to operate massive fleets of stealth fighters for each and every job. But in the decidedly imperfect world we live in, we’re often stuck choosing between capability and capacity. Do we want the best jets we can build or enough jets to meet our mission requirements?

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Balancing capability against budget is the unfortunate reality of warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Related: WHY IS AMERICA BUYING THE F-15EX INSTEAD OF MORE F-35S?

While not exactly like the last Cold War, this new Sino-American Cold War possesses a similar capacity for proxy conflicts, and because these conflicts are likely to play out over the massive landmass of Africa as well as the Middle East, finding a way to get air support to far-flung troops quickly will undoubtedly save American lives.

But it won’t just be enough to field fast aircraft. They’ll also have to be cheap enough to be built in the sort of volume that would be required to overcome that tyranny of distance. With enough fast and cheap air support platforms spread throughout the continent, getting air support to special operations troops in Africa could shift from practically impossible to just another day at the office, or as close to that as one can come in combat.

Re-learning that dogfighting isn’t dead

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
(DARPA)

While there’s a much higher likelihood that the United States will find itself supporting proxy or partner forces in the developing world with interests that run counter to China’s or Russia’s, there remains the possibility that this new “Cold War” could boil over into a hot one. The implications of such a conflict would be massive, and even attempting an analysis of just the air war that would unfold would take a book in itself–but as this discussion pertains to tactical aircraft and speed, this is another place the U.S. needs more power under the hood.

If you talk to most modern fighter pilots, they’ll tell you that the days of dogfighting are over, thanks to the development of over-the-horizon weapons and advanced sensor suites that will allow pilots in America’s most advanced jets to target inbound fighters before their pilots even know there’s trouble brewing.

Ward Carroll, famed journalist, author, and former U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) has heard the contemporary arguments about dogfights being a thing of the past and warns about making assumptions amid a decades-long era of uncontested flight operations, especially in aircraft that aren’t fast enough to escape a pursuing fighter.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
An F-14 Tomcat engages and F-16N Viper adversary aircraft during a TOPGUN ACM flight in the 1980s. (U.S. Navy photo)

“We get too liquored up on the technology and we start to forget what happens when it gets messy. You can run out of a squadron of F-35s in short order,” Carroll told Sandboxx News.

“I get F-35 guys who are like, ‘you just don’t get modern battles anymore.’ No, I think I do. I think you’re not remembering the lessons of serious roll your sleeves up, get your nose bloodied warfare.”

The idea that dogfighting is dead has been informed not only by two decades worth of counter-terror operations against enemy forces with no airpower, but it also carries an uncomfortable similarity to the line of thinking that dominated air war conversations leading into Vietnam. The U.S. believed the days of dogfighting in close quarters were over, so they fielded fast-moving F-4s armed with air-to-air missiles that weren’t nearly as effective as they were intended… and no guns for fighting in close quarters.

As a result, American aviators took a serious pounding from dated Soviet aircraft with tighter turn radiuses and guns.

 “That was the biggest mistake on the F-4,” John Chesire, who flew 197 combat missions in the Phantom during two tours in Vietnam, told Air & Space Magazine.

“Bullets are cheap and tend to go where you aim them. I needed a gun, and I really wished I had one.”

Winning a dogfight might take speed. Escaping one almost always does.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

While American F-86 Sabre fighter pilots racked up a kill-to-loss ratio of 10:1 in the Korean war, American dogfighting performance, due largely to assumptions about how combat had changed, diminished dramatically in Vietnam. In the first half of the Vietnam war, American pilots could manage an average of only 2 kills for every U.S. fighter downed. Those losses directly led to the formation of the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program that most of us know today as Top Gun, where a renewed emphasis was placed on dogfighting tactics.

Now, after another multi-decade lull in air combat, America’s aviation corps is once again certain about the future of the fight, but history begs that we hedge those bets. Ward Carroll recently published a YouTube video called “Dogfighting 101” wherein he argues that dogfighting may be absent in today’s combat environment, but it’ll come back in a hurry if a near-peer conflict were to unfold. I’ll set the video to start at that portion, but it’s really worth watching Carroll’s analysis in full.

If you aren’t able to give the video a watch, here’s what Carroll had to say about dogfighting being dead:

“I’m going to submit that dogfighting is not dead, because if you’ve ever been in a major exercise, not to mention, an air-to-air war like Desert Storm, then you know that, in the heat of battle, there’s confusion, there’s all kinds of chaos, and ultimately a bandit is going to sneak through and you’ll find yourself basically engaged one-on-one with the bad guys in an old school kind of way.”

Carroll doesn’t argue that American fighters are going to go looking for a chance to get up close and personal with China’s thrust-vectoring, stealth J-20B like some imagine when they picture dogfights. Instead, he reasonably expects that in a large force-on-force situation, the chaos of warfare is going to create the circumstances for these kinds of one-on-one engagements to occur.

Carroll’s argument seems to hold true when you look at the breakdown of the early days of the air war of Desert Storm. The Coalition Forces brought a massive amount of airpower to bear over Iraq in those first days of the conflict, but despite the sheer volume of airframes in the fight, a number of small dogfights broke out and, had there not been plenty of support in the area, many more could have.

You can see exactly what Carroll predicts in this breakdown from The Operations Room. The value of speed and maneuverability when within visual range is also evident in the video. Once again, I’ll start the video at the pertinent point, but it’s worth watching this in its entirety:

Related: WATCH: DESERT STORM’S AIR CAMPAIGN WAS ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE

What does all this have to do with speed? It’s certainly of use in a dogfight, but speed is also extremely important when it comes to getting out of a dogfight. Even the most advanced stealth platforms aren’t invisible, and if an F-35 found itself squaring off with a J-20B in a one-on-one situation, it’s feasible that the Chinese fighter could have the advantage through surprise or the roll of the combat dice.

In either regard, it would be in the F-35 pilot’s best interest to bug out and get away from that fight, or at least, to create enough separation to gain an advantage he or she could then press in turn. Unfortunately, the F-35 wouldn’t be fast enough to escape a J-20 if a pilot tried, so he or she would just be giving the Chinese jet a perfect opportunity. What’s worse is that, at this range, the F-35’s opponent wouldn’t even have to be a stealth aircraft itself.

“Stealth doesn’t work against bullets,” Carroll told Sandboxx News.

“We have multi-axis missiles now where I can shoot you behind my three-nine line [behind my aircraft]. Okay, but once you Winchester, meaning run out of those weapons, and you’re now in the visual arena, then none of your [stealth] defensives are working. And now you have an airplane that can barely go supersonic. So, welcome to getting shot down.”

When we’re talking about fighters squaring off with one another, stealth is extremely valuable, but in a large-scale fight with hundreds of jets in the area, speed clearly counts too.

How do you build a force that balances cost, speed, and technology?

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
(U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Melanie Bulow-Gonterman).

The Air Force purchasing new F-15EXs isn’t going to solve this problem. Not only do these new fighters cost around as much as an F-35 to build (despite offering significantly more service life), the new (old) fighters the Air Force receives are already slated to replace existing F-15s that are aging out of service. While they do offer greater capability than their predecessors, each jet can still only be in one place at a time.

Related: HOW MUCH CHEAPER IS THE F-15EX COMPARED TO THE F-35?

“We’ve got to refresh the F-15C fleet because I can’t afford to not have that capacity to do the job and the missions,” now-retired General David Goldfein said in 2019.

“That’s what this is all about. If we’re refreshing the F-15C fleet, as we’re building up the F-35 fleet, this is not about any kind of a trade.”

SOCOM’s Armed Overwatch program promises to alleviate some of this need by fielding a small and inexpensive aircraft that can provide ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and direct air support to special operators. These planes are expected to operate from austere airfields with support from a very small group of maintainers. Effectively, SOCOM wants a simple aircraft that can live with the troops in the vein of the OV-10 Bronco of Vietnam fame, but with advanced ISR capabilities usually only found in technological marvels that need airstrips and facilities to operate. It’s a tall order, but fielding such an aircraft would make the sorts of special operations skirmishes that are sure to litter the coming decades far more survivable.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The OV-10 Bronco was light, cheap, and capable during Vietnam, and was brought back into service with SOCOM between 2012 and 2015 to test light attack aircraft concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Despite America’s massive military budget, resource and asset scarcity remains an ongoing challenge. The MQ-9 Reaper, for instance, is the most highly requested air asset among ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with only 280 of these remotely piloted aircraft to go around, the Air Force will have to choose between continuing to support the full breadth of combat operations in the Middle East or transitioning platforms to the Pacific where a more potent deterrent maritime force is increasingly necessary.

The truth is, even after the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, the U.S. military can’t completely withdraw from the Middle East and will likely need to place a larger emphasis on Africa moving forward. There are only so many air platforms to go around, especially at modern fighter jet prices of around $100 million per aircraft. In effect, America is going to be stuck fighting its old wars for some time, while adding new conflicts and new tensions elsewhere around the globe. In order to do it all, America needs more platforms without increasing defense spending in a massive way.

That may be feasible through attritable programs like Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is a low-observable UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) capable of carrying two small diameter bombs and covering more than 2,000 miles before refueling. What makes the Valkyrie special isn’t its payload or range capabilities though, it’s the cost. At just $2-3 million per airframe, the XQ-58 costs only slightly more than a single Tomahawk cruise missile.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
(Kratos Defense)

The Valkyrie lacks the speed that would be necessary to cover the vast distances between units that we can expect in Africa and the Middle East in the coming years, with a top end of around 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.85), but the attritable premise coupled with more power could prove to be just what the doctor ordered. Valkyries have already been launched from stationary platforms using rockets, which would mean that these types of drones could be deployed from places that don’t even have airstrips, and they’re cheap enough that losing a few in a fight won’t give a commander pause.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Related: THE AIR FORCE JUST DROPPED NEW CONCEPT ART OF ITS NGAD FIGHTER

As for the high-end fight, America’s forthcoming NGAD program, under development with both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, is expected to produce a family of systems that can effectively counter the most advanced fighters on the planet like the J-20B or SU-57 without breaking a sweat. This platform will hopefully incorporate a return to emphasizing speed as well as stealth, with fuel range serving as yet another essential facet of military aviation America needs to address.

It’s going to take new platforms to counter the full spectrum of threats nations like China pose in the 21st century, and these planes can’t take decades to go from the drawing board to production as the F-35 has. In many places, they won’t need to be stealth, nor is there a requirement for a human on board, but one thing they will need to overcome the tyranny of distance and protect American lives is speed.


This article by Alex Hollings was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

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Britain’s ‘Protector’ drone will rain Hellfire and Brimstone

The United Kingdom’s current drone fleet is made up primarily of aircraft purchased from the U.S.


But the country is now working on its own unmanned aerial vehicle dubbed “The Protector” which will feature specialized sensors and will be armed with Britain’s Brimstone missile, a low-collateral-damage version of America’s Hellfire missile.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
An illustration of the Protector drone carrying Brimstone missiles. (Illustration: MBDA Missile Systems)

The Protector drone is based on the Predator-B and is being created by the Predator’s manufacturer, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

Britain owns 10 Reaper drones but was never able to fly them in European airspace. That’s because current drones don’t support certain devices required to fly in American and European civil airspace such as a detect-and-avoid system and an airborne “due regard” radar.

These upgrades would allow the drones to avoid collisions with other aircraft including human-piloted planes.

General Atomics is working on the required radar upgrades as part of the contract with the U.K., but the technology will also support U.S. projects like the MQ-4C, a surveillance UAS for the U.S. Navy.

Drones with collision avoidance systems would be able to legally fly in areas other unmanned aircraft can’t, such as the border regions between the rest of Europe and Russia.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
An illustration of the Protector drone under development for the United Kingdom. (Illustration: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.)

The Protector will also fly on longer wings that will increase its lift capacity as well as its maximum fuel and weapons payload. The design is a compromise which will lower the Protector’s maximum altitude — 45,000 feet versus 50,000 feet in the Predator B — and top speed — 200 knots versus 240 knots.

The other significant upgrade that the Protector will boast is the ability to carry Britain’s Brimstone missile.

The Hellfire is predominantly a laser-guided missile but one variant, the AGM-114L, features radar guidance instead of laser-guidance. Each Brimstone can be guided by either method, meaning pilots can determine the best targeting method in the air instead of having to decide when they load their weapons.

The Brimstone, manufactured by MBDA, is also designed to fly on fast jets and hit even fast-moving targets accurately.

It carries a 14-pound warhead that creates less collateral damage than the Hellfire’s 20-pound warhead, but that also limits its effectiveness against the main battle tanks the Hellfire was designed to kill.

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Here’s the most influential US general you’ve never heard of

Winfield Scott, the longest-serving general officer in the history of the United States Army, served an astonishing 53 years in a career stretching from the War of 1812 to the Civil War. Known as “Ol’ Fuss and Feathers” for his elaborate uniforms and stern discipline, he distinguished himself as one of the most influential U.S. commanders of the 19th century.

Born in Virginia , he briefly studied at the College of William and Mary before leaving to study law, and served for a year as a corporal in the local militia. He received a commission as a captain of artillery in 1808, but his early career was less than auspicious. He vehemently criticized Senior Officer of the Army James Wilkinson for allegations concerning treason, and after a court-martial was suspended by the Army for a year.

After being reinstated, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel as the War of 1812 was getting underway. Serving in the Niagara Campaign, he was part of surrendering American forces during the disastrous crossing of the river into Ontario and exchanged in 1813.

After his successful capture of Ft. George, Ontario in 1813, he was promoted to brigadier general at the exceptionally young age of 27. He played a decisive role at the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane, earning him acclaim for personal bravery and a brevet promotion to major general, but his severe wounds during the second battle left him out of action for the rest of the war.

Following the war, Scott commanded a number of military departments between trips to Europe to study European armies, whom he greatly admired for their professionalism. His 1821 “General Regulations of the Army” was the first comprehensive manual of operations and bylaws for the U.S. Army and was the standard Army text for the next 50 years.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Legend says he can be summoned if you put your hands in your pockets while in uniform and say “Winfield Scott” three times. (Portrait by George Caitlin/ Wikimedia Commons)

After serving in a series of conflicts against the Indians, including the Blackhawk, Second Seminole and Creek Wars. When President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee removed from Georgia and other southern states to Oklahoma in 1838-39, Scott commanded the operation in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” when thousands of Cherokee died under terrible conditions during the long journey.

In 1841, Scott was made Commanding General of the U.S. Army, a position he would serve in for 20 years. When President James Polk ordered troops to territory disputed with Mexico along the Texas border, Scott appointed future president general Zachary Taylor to lead the expedition while he stayed in Washington. This was under pressure from Polk, who worried about Scott’s well known presidential aspirations. When the Mexican War subsequently broke out, Taylor grew bogged down in northwest Mexico after an initial series of victories, and it became clear that the northern route to Mexico City was no longer viable. Scott decided to personally lead a second front in order to break through to the Mexican capital.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
A little war going on is no excuse to not look your best. (Copy of lithograph by Nathaniel Currier, 1847/Wikimedia Commons)

Scott and his army’s landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico marks the first major amphibious landing by a U.S. army on foreign soil, and they seized the strategic port after a short siege. Roughly following conquistador Hernan Cortes’s historical route to Mexico City, U.S. forces won a series of victories against generally larger Mexican armies. Scott showed great skill in maneuver warfare, flanking enemy forces out of their fortifications where they could be defeated in the open. He successfully gambled that the army could live of the land in the face of impossibly long supply lines and after six months of marching and fighting, the U.S. seized the capital, putting the end to most resistance. The campaign had been a resounding success, with no less an authority than the Duke of Wellington, hero of Waterloo, declaring him “the greatest living general.”

Scott was an able military governor, and his fairness towards the conquered Mexicans gained him some measure of popularity in the country. But his vanity and political rivalry with Taylor, along with intercepted letters showing a scathing attitude towards Washington and Polk, lead to his recall in 1848.

Scott’s presidential aspirations were dashed when he badly lost the 1852 election to Franklin Pierce after a lackluster campaign. Continuing as commander of the Army, he was only the second man since George Washington to be promoted to Lieutenant General. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, however, Scott was 75 years old and so obese he couldn’t even ride a horse, and Lincoln soon had him replaced by general George B. McClellan. His strategic sense had not dulled. His “Anaconda Plan” to blockade and split the South, first derided by those seeking a quick victory, proved to be the strategy that won the war.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Scott’s Great Snake by J.B. Elliot (Library of Congress)

Scott was a vain man, prone to squabbling with other officers he held in contempt, and his political aspirations lead to great tensions with Washington during the Mexican War. His command of the “Trail of Tears” put him at the forefront of one of the most disgraceful episodes in the U.S. treatment of Native Americans. But his determination to turn the U.S. Army into a professional force, his immense strategic and tactical skill, and a career that spanned over five decades makes him one of the most influential figures in U.S. military history.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Greek yogurt could be a new sustainable jet fuel

When companies mass-produce Greek-style yogurt, there’s a significant output of what they call “waste” product. The acid whey — milk sugar, fructose, and lactic acid — is still edible, but it’s not used in the product. Researchers have found that a few modifications to the whey can turn it into a fuel for jet engines.


In an attempt to discover a natural antibiotic for livestock, scientists added carbon elements to the waste product to make a biofuel — and a sustainable fuel for jet engines.

When the yogurt is produced, the protein is strained from milk, leaving behind a watery liquid whey. The mixture of acids and sugars is prime food for certain kinds of bacteria. As the bacteria feed on the acid whey in an oxygen-deprived environment, they create caproic acid and caprylic acid, a kind of “bio-oil.”

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The process is the same as what goes on in the human stomach. The bacteria in human stomachs convert food into different acids, which fuel the body.

The dairy sector of the agricultural market has what Cornell researcher Dr. Lars Angenent calls, “a very large carbon footprint.” His work is focused on creating closed, sustainable cycles of production. The researchers added bacteria to the waste product to create a natural antibiotic for cattle.

Related: The Pentagon wants to buy mortar rounds that grow plants

Angenent’s team created two “open-culture” reactors, featuring bacteria feasting on the waste products at two different temperatures and extracting the flammable gas given off. The team’s next step is to scale-up the reactor’s size and create changes that increase both the efficiency of the reactions and how the oil is collected.

Once that process is more economical, the bio-oil production could become a sustainable source of fuel. At the same time, it will make the agricultural sector more profitable and less wasteful.

Articles

The 32 best military movie quotes of all-time

Hollywood is known for riddling military movies with technical errors, but from “Full Metal Jacket” to “Stripes,” the movie industry gets it right with plenty of quotable military movies.


Here are WATM’s picks for 32 of the best ever:

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

1. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like … victory. Someday this war’s gonna end.” — Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore, “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

2. “When I go home people will ask me, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?’ You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.” — Norman “Hoot” Hooten, “Black Hawk Down” (2001)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

3. “You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it’s all about.” — Michael, “The Deer Hunter” (1978)

4. “Keep the sand out of your weapons, keep those actions clear. I’ll see you on the beach.” — Capt. John Miller, “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

5. “Are you smoking this sh-t so’s to escape from reality? Me, I don’t need this sh-t, I am reality. There’s the way it ought to be, and there’s the way it is.” — Staff Sgt. Barnes, “Platoon” (1986)

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6. “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” — Gen. George Patton, “Patton” (1970)

7. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” — Maximus, “Gladiator” (2000)

8. “The Almighty tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re f–ked.” — Stephen, “Braveheart” (1997)

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9. “Aim small, miss small.” — Capt. Benjamin Martin, “The Patriot” (2000)

10. “Out here, due process is a bullet!” — Col. Mike Kirby, “The Green Berets” (1968)

11. “Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war? … He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” — Gen. Jack D. Ripper, “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

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12. “I feel the need . . . the need for speed.” — Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, “Top Gun” (1986)

13. “Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps… And I want my scalps!” — Lt. Aldo Raine, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

14. “Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy f–king walrus-looking piece of sh-t! Get the f–k off of my obstacle! Get the f–k down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Pyle, IF IT SHORT-D–KS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!” — Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, “Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

15. “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” —Wardaddy, “Fury” (2014)

16. “I ain’t got time to bleed.” — Blain, “Predator” (1987)

17. “I could have killed ’em all, I could kill you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it. Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go.” —Rambo, “First Blood” (1982)

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18. “Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty… For tonight, we dine in hell!” — King Leonidas, “300” (2006)

19. “All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!” — Sgt. Apone, “Aliens” (1986)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

20. “You still think it’s beautiful to die for your country. The first bombardment taught us better. When it comes to dying for country, it’s better not to die at all.” — Paul Baumer, “All Quite on the Western Front” (1930)

21. “Sir, Custer was a p-ssy. You ain’t.” — Sgt. Maj. Plumley, “We Were Soldiers” (2002)

22. “Sir, I got lost on the way to college, sir.” — Anthony Swofford, “Jarhead” (2005)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

23. “Remember Sully when I promised to kill you last? I lied.” — John Matrix, “Commando” (1985)

25. “Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts. You guys are the Fighting 29th.” — Brig. Gen. Norman Cota, “The Longest Day” (1962)

26. “F–kin’ badass, I was there. F–kin’ took him out at 400 yards, head popped up three feet in the air. Crazy shot, man.”

27. “Yes they had weapons! You think there’s a script for fighting a war without pissing somebody off? Follow the rules and nobody gets hurt? Yes, innocent people probably died. Innocent people always die but I did not exceed my orders.” — Col. Terry Childers, “Rules of Engagement” (2000)

28. “We’re Airborne. We don’t start fights, we *finish* ’em!” —Galvan, “Hamburger Hill” (1987)

29. “Lighten up, Francis.” — Sgt. Hulka, “Stripes” (1981)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

30. “My name is Gunnery Sergeant Highway. I’ve drunk more beer, banged more quiff, pissed more blood, and stomped more ass than all of you numb-nuts put together.” — Gunny Highway, “Heartbreak Ridge” (1986)

31. “All I ever wanted was an honest week’s pay for an honest day’s work.” — Master Sgt. Ernie Bilko, “Sgt. Bilko”

32. “You see Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is for you to stand there in that f–goty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth extend me some f–king courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely.” — Col. Nathan Jessep, “A Few Good Men” (1992)

Articles

WWII nose art motivated airmen with sex and humor

From the court-martial of Billy Mitchell to Robin Olds’ mustache, U.S. Air Force history is filled with examples of Airmen thumbing their nose at authority. So of course what started as a way to identify friendly units in mid-air in World War I quickly evolved into a way of thumbing one’s nose at military uniformity and authority. The unintended consequence of that effort is a gallery of beauty and style — a lasting legacy in the minds of generations to come.


Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

This art form is as old as powered flight. In the context of war, crews created designs to immortalize their hometowns, their wives and sweethearts back home, to earn themselves a name in the minds of their enemies, or provide some kind of psychological protection from death, among other motifs.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Some things were universal. “Mors ab alto” is Latin for “Death from above.” And then some art was based entirely on the record of the plane. Like the B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, below, who dropped the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man on Nagasaki, Japan, and whose nose art depicts a train boxcar nuking Nagasaki.

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Nose art was also a great way to build esprit de corps with the crew and maintainers around a plane, as seen in this photo of the crew of Waddy’s Wagon recreating their own nose art.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Of course, a list of the best WWII nose art would not be complete without the pin-ups.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Nose art wasn’t all sexy women and bombs, though. Some crews used their nose to (deservedly) brag.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Don Gentile, World War II Eagle Squadron member and the first ace to beat Eddie Rickenbacker’s WWI dogfighting record, flew a P-51B famously called Shangri-La, which featured a bird wearing boxing gloves.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

And sometimes, when your war record is long enough, it’s okay to let the world know you’re watching the clock.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Popular cartoons were also featured on World War II-era planes. Walt Disney famously looked the other way (in terms of copyright infringement) for much of the art done in the name of winning the war, notably on bomber jackets and nose art. The RAF’s Ian Gleed flew a Supermarine Spitfire featuring Geppetto’s cat Figaro.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

American pilot and Doolittle Raider Ted Lawson flew a B-25 Mitchell Bomber over Tokyo called the Ruptured Duck, an image of an angry, sweating Donald Duck wearing pilot headphones in front of crossed crutches.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

 

Next time you watch Dumbo with your kids, remember that Dumbo dropped ordnance on Japan and was said to be fairly accurate.

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Bomb icons depicted the number of missions flown over the enemy. For some icons weren’t enough. Thumper here took the war personally and marked the name of each city it bombed.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Nose art was also used to complain (as all troops do) as a way to deal with the monotony of deployed life, the lack of supplies, and/or the frustrations of the crew to keep their bird flying, as seen by Malfunction Sired by Ford (below).

461st Bomb Group 767th Bomb Squadron 15th AF. Nose art „Malfunction Sired By Ford

Or it was used to brag that they could keep their girl in the air, with whatever they had lying around.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Some crews definitely brought their A-game to the art form, like the crew of this B-29 Superfortress.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Others tried, but were ultimately (and obviously) better suited to fighting the war than designing the nose of their B-24 Liberator.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

The award for all-around best nose-art in World War II has to go to the RAF’s James Archibald Findlay MacLachlan, who lost an arm to a combat injury early in the war and thus had to fly with a prosthetic limb. His fighter plane’s nose depicted the hand from his own amputated arm making the “V for Victory” sign.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

Now: 6 of the most badass US military test pilots of all time

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Feb. 17

The week is over, but the memes are neverending. Check out 13 of our favorite military memes of the week below:


1. This woobie is my woobie, and we have seen unspeakable things together (via Pop smoke).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Just take the statement of charges, dude. It’s worth it.

2. “Build a wall over the tunnel!”

(via Military World)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Yeah, that doesn’t stop Marines.

3. The flight line plays by its own rules. Like criminal gangs do (via Air Force Memes Humor).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

ALSO SEE: The CIA just declassified these 11 Russian jokes about the Soviet Union

4. Admit it, when you’re in contact, you would rather those Chair Force fellows were in the chairs than in the gym (via Military Memes).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Course, they could go practice some ruck marching when they’re off duty.

5. Dream away, fellows. Dream away (via Pop smoke).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Take a look at the age of that baby. You left her newly pregnant when you deployed and thought you would come back to her full of energy?

6. First sergeants were trying to save your life, Bubba (via Team Non-Rec).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Also would have helped if you kept your dang feet dry, like L-T told you to.

7. Oh yeah, sir? Those were your accomplishments?

(via Shit my LPO says)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Guess I’ll just go over here and keep typing your reports for you.

8. Just give it some liberty, man. Those claws look sharp (via Pop smoke).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Maybe throw in some donut holes for free.

9. D-mnit, Carl. You never learned to secure your weapon? (via Military World)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Guess who’s going swimming?

10. When you find out where Jodie goes after the housing area:

(via The Salty Soldier)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

11. Turns me on (via NavyMemes.com).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Haze grey and underway.

12. Ummmm … I’m fine, bro. Keep your motivation to yourself (via The Salty Soldier).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
And if that cadence caller could shut up, too, that’d be great.

13. You can tell the safety NCO is phoning it in when:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Maybe keep some water bottles handy for the foreseeable future.

Articles

Here’s how the F-35’s new tech could change aircraft carrier missions forever

Seven Navy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters spent Monday morning in a round robin off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, completing a tight succession of take-offs and arrested landings as pilots with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 completed carrier qualifications on the aircraft.


The dozen instructors with the squadron each completed the required 10 traps and two touch-and-go maneuvers in less than two days. But thanks to an advanced landing system in the fifth-generation aircraft that limits the variables pilots need to monitor when they catch the wire, officers with the squadron said they could have gotten the practice they needed in much less time.

“What has traditionally been required for initial qualifications … that can probably be reduced, because the task becomes mundane after a while,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Kitts, officer in charge of the testing detachment aboard this ship. “You can make corrections so easily.”

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Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

The system that makes the difference is Delta Flight Path, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. with input from Naval Air Systems Command. That system is one of more than a half-dozen F-35C features that are being tested in this third and final round of carrier exercises.

During a 20-day developmental testing period aboard the George Washington that will conclude Aug. 23, pilots will test the aircraft’s ability to fly symmetrical and asymmetrical external weapons loads, execute aircraft launches at maximum weight and against crosswinds, try out a new helmet software load designed to improve visibility in dark conditions, test the capabilities of Delta Flight Path and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, and take out and replace an entire F-35C engine to simulate major maintenance aboard a carrier.

At the conclusion of these tests, officials believe the F-35C will be substantially ready for initial operational capability, a milestone the aircraft is expected to hit in 2018.

But success of the built-in carrier landing technology may have even wider-reaching effects.

Like the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, or MAGIC CARPET, system now being tested on the Navy’s legacy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Delta Flight Path gives the aircraft the ability to stay on glide slope automatically and minimize the number of corrections the pilot must make.

“All pilots are trained, we make corrections for glide slope with the throttle. We practice it when we get to our fleet trainers, and we practice it a bunch each and every time before we come out to the boat,” Kitts said. “So what you’re able to do when you come out here is hopefully spend less time practicing, because the workload on the pilot is extremely reduced.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) on Aug. 15, 2016, in the Atlantic Ocean. | US Navy photo by Wyatt L. Anthony

That’s important, Kitts said, because time spent in the field and on the carrier practicing landings is time in which pilots are becoming less tactically proficient because they can’t develop and drill other skills.

The commanding officer of VFA-101, Capt. James Christie, said pilots are collecting data as they complete their required takeoffs and landings that could be used to inform a prospective proposal to reduce carrier training and qualification requirements.

“We’re not going to move too quickly; we’re going to ensure it’s the right thing to do,” Christie said. “But as soon as we have the empirical evidence that shows we can safely reduce those numbers, I’ll be all for submitting that to leadership.”

So far, the data looks good. In this round of testing, there have so far been no bolters, when an aircraft unintentionally misses the wire, and no landing wave-offs attributed to aircraft performance or safety issues, said Lt. Graham Cleveland, landing signal officer for VFA-101.

Cleveland said this new technology might enable the Navy to cut ashore training from 16 to 18 field carrier landing practices to between four and six. He said he also envisioned cutting carrier qualification requirements from ten to six traps in the future.

“That’s going to save money, that’s going to save fuel, that’s going to save aircraft life, basically,” he said.

The future aside, getting out to the carrier for the first evolution of testing to involve operational pilots as well as test pilots was its own milestone for many at the fore of efforts to ready the F-35C for the fleet.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see them come out and really make this aircraft real from the perspective of the fleet,” said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy. “This is going to be a viable program, a viable aircraft that’s really going to do what it’s designed to do… watching them come out here and do this, it’s goose-bumpy.”

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Watch this Marine gunner desperately try to destroy his pack

Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian P. Wade, the 2nd Marine Division Gunner as well as the personality behind that video of cooking bacon on a suppressor, has a new video where he tests the resilience of the Marine Corps’ new reinforced pack frame.


Despite long falls, getting dragged behind a Jeep, and about 51 Kalashnikov rounds, the new pack proves itself to be surprisingly tough. You can see what finally destroys the pack in the video below:

The requirement for a new pack grew out of complaints by Marines that the legacy pack frames couldn’t hold up to cold weather conditions or to airborne operations. Some were even breaking under regular use at the School of Infantry-West.

So, Marine Corps Systems Command got to work testing new builds with the goal of keeping the feel and form of the pack the same while making it more rugged, preferably without adding weight.

The initiative appears to have been successful, but Wade is still able to destroy it. Think you can make a pack he can’t kill SysCom?

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Japan snaps surveillance pics of Chinese navy carrier battle group

China’s deployment of the Liaoning, an Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier, has not seen anything equivalent to the Kuznetsov follies, but it is a note that China’s navy is becoming more capable by the year.


The carrier recently conducted flight deck tests of Chinese PLAN fighters and is cruising through parts of the disputed South China Sea, worrying allies in Japan and Taiwan.

Here are some photos that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force took of Beijing’s latest show of force.

Smile, Chinese Navy, you’re on candid camera!

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Liaoning. (JMSDF photo)

According to a release by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Liaoning was sailing along with two Luyang II-class destroyers (Zhengzhou and Haikou), a Luyang III-class destroyer (Changsai), and two Jiangkai II-class frigates (Yantai and Linyi).

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Zhengzhou, a Luyang II-class destroyer. (JMSDF photo)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Luyang II-class destroyer Haikou. (JMSDF photo)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Changsha, a Luyang III class destroyer. (JMSDF photo)

According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, the Luyang-class destroyers carry the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, which is comparable to the SA-N-6 Grumble used on the Kirov-class battlecruisers and the Slava-class cruisers. The Jiangkai II-class frigates carry the HHQ-16 missile, a knockoff of the SA-N-7 – the naval version of the SA-11 Gadfly.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Yantai, a Jiangkai II-class frigate. (JMSDF photo)

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
The Jiangkai II-class frigate Linyi. (JMSDF photo)

The Liaoning can carry roughly two dozen J-15 Flankers — knock-offs of the Su-33. The carrier also will have a variety of choppers as well, most for anti-submarine warfare or for search-and-rescue missions.

Intel

Ronda Rousey plans to attend Marine Corps ball for more than 34 seconds

Lance Cpl. Jarrod Haschert asked Ronda Rousey to this year’s Marine Corps Ball in a video that went viral over the past few weeks.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6H696ZbkXA

Apparently Rousey knew about the invitation but couldn’t accept because training for her fight with Holly Holm conflicted with the event. When the fight was moved to November, she decided to go to the ball but didn’t know how to to contact Haschert.

“Do I call him?” she said in an acceptance video that went viral as well. “Or do I set up a time and place like “Never Been Kissed” and wait until the clock runs out and be like ‘I’m here!'”

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

She also said the Marine would have to be on his best behavior and would have to find dates for all her single friends.

“He needs to find dates for my girls,” she said, “and we’ll all go.”

Rousey is undefeated in the UFC with 12 wins. Her last three fights all lasted 34 seconds or less.

NOW: Watch UFC fighters get stomped by Marine Corps martial arts experts

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US aircraft carrier visits Israel for the first time in nearly two decades

It leads the United States’ war against ISIS and with 75 aircraft on its deck has the ability to carry out numerous combat sorties a day. On July 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the USS George H. W. Bush docked opposite the Haifa Port and became the first sitting head of state to visit America’s largest and most lethal floating war machine.


The docking of the ship on July 1 marked the first time an aircraft carrier visited Israel in 17 years.

“The visit of the USS George H.W. Bush speaks to the enduring commitment to our shared interests and a commitment to fight against our common enemies,” Commanding Officer Capt. Will Pennington told reporters during a visit to the ship. According to a statement by the US European Command, the ship’s visit is meant “to enhance US-Israel relations as the two nations reaffirm their continued commitment to the collective security of the European and Middle East Regions.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
USS George H.W. Bush. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

According to Pennington, the crew is constantly engaged in cooperation with Israel, including sharing intelligence.

“There is a tremendous network of shared intelligence. As you are aware the airspace in the region is very, very, busy with lots of different actors so the need to deconflict that and make sure that everyone understands their missions is very important,” he said.

Visiting the ship with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Netanyahu recalled his visit to another aircraft carrier 20 years ago.

“So much has changed since the first time I visited… our ties have gotten stronger and deeper,” he said. “It is a floating island of America. It is a symbol of freedom and strength and victory.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The USS George H.W. Bush was in the region to participate in the fight against ISIS, carrying out its last operational mission on June 30. With 20-25 sorties per day, aircraft aboard the ship have carried out 1,600 sorties over both Syria and Iraq, striking targets in Mosul and in the vicinity of Raqqa on missions that can last seven to nine hours.

The targets which are directed by the coalition ground commander, are sometimes known prior to take-off and pilots have sometimes also received targets while in the air.

According to Carrier Air Wing 8 Captain James A. McCall, one of the real-time targets was the Syrian jet that was downed on June 18 in southern Raqqa province by one of the jets stationed on the aircraft carrier.

“The jet came within visual distance” McCall said, stating that US jets “warned the Syrian aircraft that they were approaching coalition friendlies. They (the Syrian regime jet) ignored the warning and even dropped bombs on the friendlies,” he said referring to the Syrian Democratic Force who are supported by the coalition.

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from an aircraft carrier. Photo courtesy of US Navy

Towards the end of its seven-month deployment, the USS George H.W. Bush arrived in Haifa after a 40 day voyage from Dubai.

While the ship will not be taking part in any joint exercises with the Israeli Navy, Israel provided security as it pulled into the Haifa Bay allowing the ship’s strike group to continue to other missions and port calls.

“We are very tightly linked with our colleagues and partners and allies from the IDF and have been for very many years,” Pennington said.

Speaking at a ceremony aboard the carrier, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, commander of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, stated that the visit marks “a special moment” between Israel and the United States which “has had long standing military to military engagements with Israel.”

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on board the USS George H. W. Bush. Photo from DoD

“In this visit to Israel, the ship’s might is a metaphor for the strength of the bonds between our countries. I’d like to thank the Israeli people for hosting us and for taking care of our Sailors,” she added.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who visited the ship on Sunday stated that it was “a timely show of American power projection and deterrence capability.”

“Its support for the countries fighting Islamic extremism and terror and Iran is very important, especially now when Iran is working to create facts on the ground in Syria, including a port on the Mediterranean, and Hezbollah continues to build its arsenal with more advanced and precise missiles.”

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