One of NATO's most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade - We Are The Mighty
Articles

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

The ground-based version of the AIM-120 Sparrow air-to-air missile just got a major upgrade as Raytheon announced that it has successfully tested a new engine and enhanced fire distribution center that gives the system a much longer range and higher maximum altitude, according to a company press release.


One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
An AMRAAM-Extended Range missile is shot from a NASAMS launcher. The missile successfully engaged and destroyed a target drone during a flight test at the Andoya Space Center in Norway. (Photo: courtesy Raytheon Company)

Used by militaries around the world, the system is designed to bring down helicopters, jets, and even cruise missiles. Basically, it’s an oozlefinch with an “If it flies, it dies” mentality.

The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System uses the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, also known as the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, but fires it from tubes parked on the ground. The new version of the missile borrows the engine from the Navy’s Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.

This new engine, combined with better flight control, allows the AMRAAM-Extended Range to engage targets at a 50 percent longer range and 70 percent higher altitude than it used to be capable of. The exact range of AMRAAM-ER has not been released, but the Evolved Sea Sparrow can engage targets at over 30 miles away when fired from a ship.

Already popular in NATO, the NASAMS is designed for low and medium-altitude air defense. Norway was the first adopter and helped develop it under the name “Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System,” and the system is deployed by U.S. forces and five other countries.

The U.S. uses NASAMS to defend Washington D.C. from aerial attack and typically deploys Patriots, Stingers, and other air defense assets elsewhere in the world.

Articles

This Naval weapon is getting an upgrade

The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a more than $14-million contract to integrate and test an advanced version of the Aegis Weapon System, the Department of Defense said in a press release.


“Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems Moorestown, New Jersey is being awarded a $14,083,369 contract for ship integration and test of the Aegis Weapon System for AWS baselines through advanced capability build 16,” the release stated on July 14.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
Photo from Lockheed Martin.

Most of the work on the project will be performed in Moorestown in the US state of New Jersey over the next year and is expected to be completed by August 2018, the Defense Department said.

The AWS can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines, and surface vessels while automatically protecting the fleet against aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles, according to Lockheed Martin.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The all-military crew of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush welcomes a homeless veteran

This Friday, February 26, Fred Lewis will lead his all-military team to muscle through setbacks due to aging equipment. Lewis and his team of patriots are no strangers to delays, but one team member is particularly hedging his bets on this endeavor. ‘This needs to work out, I don’t want to be another homeless vet,” said Kyle Pletzke. This quote reveals more about the team than before. Pletzke is one of the nation’s homeless veterans who joined Lewis in Discovery’s Gold Rush in pursuit of fame and fortune. Homelessness is an in issue so pervasive that even I, the author, was a homeless veteran at one point in the not-too-distant past.

Time and again Lewis and his crew go through the gauntlet. Reinforcements arrive as the situation grows dire. Mitch Blatshke from Parker’s crew leaves no man left behind and renders aid to the other team’s machines. Will it be enough or too little too late? Mitch races against the clock to accomplish the mission.

In 2019 there were 37,085 homeless veterans registered with the VA’s PIT Count. The goal of the PIT count (point-in-time count) is to show Congress there is a need to end homelessness amongst veterans. From 2018 to 2019 the program reduced the homeless population by 2.1% by providing shelter.

Another resource is the Salvation Army. When I was homeless, the VA and the Salvation Army’s case workers banded together to help me find temporary housing. The irony of the situation was I could work from home, yet I didn’t have one. Long story short, my roommates lost their jobs due to the pandemic and instead of giving me a heads up to find my own place they kept me in the dark until we abruptly had to move.

If it wasn’t for We Are The Mighty and the fans who read my work I probably would have ended up a statistic. This artform is a cathartic release that pulled me through my darkest days. My mother lost her kidneys to Lupus and was fighting for her life. I’m still taking care of my sister. Veterans are proud and we won’t ask for help. However, it is important to call broken arrow when your back is against the wall.

Help is there and it will come.

That’s why this episode resonates so deeply for me. Another veteran is out of ammo and is fixing his bayonet, refusing to accept defeat. Gold Rush paints the perfect example of the camaraderie forged in the fires of combat. The other veterans also share their stories of their past and how they got into gold mining. Gold Rush is one of the few shows that accurately displays the brotherhood of the military.

A formerly homeless vet
After retiring from the military, formerly homeless vet Fred Lewis tried wrestling, volleyball coaching, and a number of other activities to try to regain a sense of purpose. It’s no easy task. (Discovery Channel)

Gold Rush airs this Friday at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery, followed by the military Gold Rush special at 10 PM ET/PT on Discovery. Fans can also binge all previous seasons of Gold Rush on Discovery+.

Articles

This milspouse went through the 9 circles of hell to get her family’s stuff out of storage

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(Artist’s rendition)


The end of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move does not always mean that you’re having your household goods delivered immediately.  Thankfully, the military offers some free storage with each move.  But what happens when your free government storage ends?

Last summer, my family PCS’d from Europe to the US.  We decided to renovate our house before moving in, and so we moved in with my mother “temporarily.”  In August.

Our household goods arrived in September, and so our 90 days of temporary storage began.  When the 90 days was up, my husband requested, and was granted, an extension for another 90 days.  Which ended a bit ago.  And we’re still at my mother’s house.

After evaluating all the options, my husband decided that our best choice was to keep our household goods in their current storage location, but start paying for the storage ourselves.   In this type of situation, the military still retains responsibility for the final delivery fees, which makes this option attractive.

After approximately 4,276 emails back and forth between the company who has our storage shipment, the personal property people, the transportation management people, and the legal services office, we were told that in order to “move” (not move) our items from government storage to personal storage, we would have to have the shipment inspected.  The price for the inspection is based upon weight; ours is somewhere in the $900 range.

We asked a lot of questions about who is responsible for the items at which point in the process, and got a lot of conflicting answers and a lot of “well, the rules keep changing” type of answers.

Then, we had to decide what type of insurance we wanted on the items in storage:  the free basic coverage or additional coverage for an additional cost.  There was a lot of back and forth about whether which insurance choice required inspection, but it seemed we were paying for an inspection anyway, so I never did get all the details about that issue.

Which brings us to today, when many questions were answered and even more questions were developed.

We were told to show up at the warehouse at 9 am to inspect our shipment.  When we arrived, we were taken to a corner of the warehouse with 11 of our 15 crates staged.  We repeatedly asked “how does this liability thing work?” and “At what point the process do we file a claim for damages that occurred prior to today?” but didn’t get a lot of answers.  We also didn’t get any instructions.

Our very nice crew started uncrating our items.  Anything that was in a box or a wrapped tub, we noted any damages to the carton, and all furniture was unwrapped and inspected.  The moving company rep was making notes and we were making notes and discussing which damage was new and how much was old moving damage or just normal wear and tear of life.  I took some pictures of damage that was notable, and I thought things were going pretty well.  Items were being re-crated as we went, and the process was smooth and organized.

After lunch, someone in the company decided that the process wasn’t moving fast enough, so they simultaneously added an extra crew member and instructed them to “just get everything unpacked.”  I should have put my foot down right then, but I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the chaos that ensued.  Instead of taking things out, inspecting what needed to be inspected, and then putting things back, it became a mad rush to empty the remaining 8 crates onto the warehouse floor.  I did occasionally ask, “Um, how is this going to work?” and was repeatedly reassured that they had a plan.

Once every crate was unpacked, the team decided to do a thorough search through the approximately 250 items, looking for 5 missing items.   This is when I realized that my discomfort was not irrational – this was madness!  The day was ending, we had 8 crates of stuff scattered across about 1000 square feet, with random things stacked this way and that, and about 10 items of furniture unwrapped but not yet inspected and additional items still wrapped.  I’m not sure if it was the tone or the actual words, but the crew finally got the message that we were not happy.  They pulled in additional crew members and everyone started frantically organizing and inspecting and (still!) looking for the missing items.

During this frenzy, it somehow became clear what was happening with regard to the inventorying.  The crew wasn’t helping us inspect for damage to make a claim; they were inventorying the condition of items to cover their own liability.  Any information being used for our claim needed to be coming from our notes.  This makes perfect sense, in retrospect, but it would have been significantly more helpful to have known that BEFORE we started, not 7 1/2 hours into unpacking and repacking.

At 5 p.m., some guy who we’d not yet seen (despite having talked to at least 10 people) showed up and announced that the warehouse was closing for the evening and we’d have to come back tomorrow.  Whoa, Nellie!  Number one, we’re not available tomorrow.  Number two, this is the sort of information that should have been shared at any point prior to now.  Number three, the reason we’re in this situation is because someone in your company decided that the previous system wasn’t working and messed with it.  I’m pretty irritated that has somehow become my problem.

After a few heated words, it became clear that we really didn’t have any choice but to return.  Neither my husband or I can cancel our activities for tomorrow, so it was decided that the company would do their inspection, repack as much as possible, and leave out the items that we needed to inspect when I return on Friday.

On the way out, we checked with our office contact and asked a few more questions.  It was at this point in time that we were told that we should have been making all those damage notes on the claim form.  I asked where we got those and was informed that we should have been given them at the beginning of the day.  She tracked down our forms and handed them over for us to transcribe all our notes before returning on Friday.  It seems that our 70 days to claim damage starts with today’s inspection.  Nice to know.

It feels like there is a lot more to say about this “process,” and I suspect I’ll be updating this as things evolve, but I want to get it all out to you while it is fresh in my head.

If you find yourself in a situation where your government storage ends before your storage needs end, be sure to explore all the other options.  Hopefully, this will provide some insight into the option of keeping your items with the same company that is already storing them.  It is by no means a complete or definitive guide, but our experiences that may help you do it better than we are.

Articles

Here Are The Best Military Photos Of The Week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here is the best of what they shot this week:


An Arizona Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with 2-285th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Phoenix soars over a low layer of clouds during a flight to the Western Army Aviation Training site in Marana, Arizona.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

Decommissioned Forrestal-class aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV 61) is towed away from Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton. The Ranger is being towed to Brownsville, Texas, for dismantling.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Frost)

Army Pfc. Ryein Weber assigned to Apache Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, qualifies with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon on Grezelka range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

Two Marines from Silent Drill Platoon practice spinning their rifles through the air to each other.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Oscar L Olive IV)

Marines with Mobility Assault Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division stand behind a blast blanket as detonation cord ignites, blowing the door in and giving them a clear passage to breach the building during an urban breaching course, aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff)

Dragoons assigned to Bull Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment participated in a live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area located near Rose Barracks, Germany.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(Photo by Sgt. William Tanner, 2nd Cav Regiment)

Crews from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod conduct helicopter operations with Station Provincetown to remain proficient.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Enrique Ferrer)

NASA astronauts U.S. Air Force Col. Terry Virts and U.S. Navy Capt. Barry “Butch” Wilmore successfully completed their tasks on their third spacewalk in eight days, installing 400 feet of cable and several antennas.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(Photo: NASA)

A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), floats to the drop zone during the annual African-led training event Exercise Flintlock 2015 held in Mao, Chad.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Timothy Clegg)

U.S. Army paratroopers, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, fire their M777 towed howitzer at high angle as part of Table VI Section Qualifications on Fort Bragg, N.C.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joe Bush)

U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 274, are exposed to M7 A3 riot control CS gas by aggressors during a field gas event conducted part of the Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) Field Exercise held at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Orlando Perez)

Army Pfc. Aaron Hadley assigned to Apache Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, qualifies at night with the M240 machine gun on Grezelka range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

A soldier assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, provides security during Decisive Action Rotation 15-05 at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Richard W. Jones Jr.)

U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, Right Wing pilot Lt. Matt Suyderhoud flies in formation with the Diamond pilots over Naval Air Facility El Centro during a practice demonstration.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

NOW: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator 

AND: 13 Signs You’re An Infantryman

Articles

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

In January 2017, the CIA release a large number of newly-declassified documents about information collected on the Soviet Union. One of those documents included two pages of Russian jokes about the Soviet Union.


Headed “Soviet Jokes for the DDCI” (Deputy Director of Central Intelligence), the jokes make reference to Mikhail Gorbachev, so they date from at least as late as the 1980s. The jokes are surprisingly directed at all Soviet leaders, from Lenin to Brezhnev.

It’s good to know there were chances for levity behind the Iron Curtain. One thing’s for sure, people didn’t love Communism as much as the Russians led us to believe.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

A worker standing in a liquor line says, “I have had enough, save my place, I am going to shoot Gorbachev.” Two hours later he returns to claim his place in line. His friends ask, “Did you get him?” “No,” he replied. “The line there was even longer than the line here.”
Q: What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek*?

A: Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know it yet.

*(Alexander Dubcek led the Czech resistance to the Warsaw Pact during the Prague Spring of 1968, but was forced to resign)
Sentence from a schoolboy’s weekly composition class essay: “My cat just had seven kittens. They are all communists.” Sentence from the same boy’s composition the following week: “My cat’s seven kittens are all capitalists.” Teacher reminds the boy that the previous week he had said the kittens were communists. “But now they’ve opened their eyes,” replies the child.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

A Chukchi (a tribe of Eskimo-like people on Russia’s northwest coast) is asked what he would do if the Soviet borders were opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he replies. Asked why, he responds: “So I wouldn’t get trampled in the stampede out!” Then he is asked what he would do if the U.S. border is opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he says, “so I can see the first person crazy enough to come here.”
A joke heard in Arkhangelsk has it that someone happened to call the KGB headquarters just after a major fire. “We cannot do anything. The KGB has just burned down!” he was told. Five minutes later, he called back and was told again the KGB had burned. When he called a third time, the telephone operator recognized his voice and asked “why do you keep calling back? I just told you the KGB has burned down.” “I know,” the man said. “I just like to hear it.”
A train bearing Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev stops suddenly when the tracks run out. Each leader applies his own, unique solution. Lenin gathers workers and peasants from miles around and exhorts them to build more track. Stalin shoots the train crew when the train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev rehabilitates the dead crew and orders the tracks behind the train ripped up and relaid in front. Brezhnev pulls down the curtains and rocks back and forth, pretending the train is moving. And Gorbachev calls a rally in front of the locomotive, where he leads a chant: “No tracks! No tracks! No tracks!”

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
You try finding photos of Russians laughing.

Ivanov: Give me an example of perestroika*.

Sidorov: (Thinks) How about menopause?

* The literal meaning of perestroika is “restructuring” – usually referring to economic liberalization by Gorbachev.
An old lady goes to the Gorispolkom* with a question, but by the time she gets to the official’s office she has forgotten the purpose of her visit. “Was it about your pension?” the official asks. “No, I get 20 Rubles a month, that’s fine,” she replies. “About your apartment?” “No, I live with three people in one room of a communal apartment, I’m fine,” she replies. She suddenly remembers: “Who invented Communism? –– the Communists or scientists?” The official responds proudly, “Why the Communists of course!” “That’s what I thought,” the babushka** says. “If the scientists had invented it, they would have tested it first on dogs!”
* Gorispolkom is the local political authority of a Soviet city.

** A babushka is another term for older woman or grandmother.

An American tells a Russian that the United States is so free he can stand in front of the White House and yell “To hell with Ronald Reagan.” The Russian replies: “That’s nothing. I can stand in front of the Kremlin and yell, ‘to hell with Ronald Reagan’ too.”
A man goes into a shop and asks “You don’t have any meat?” “No,” replies the sales lady. “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”
A man is driving with his wife and small child. A militiaman pulls them over and makes the man take a breathalyzer test. “See,” the militiaman says, “you’re drunk.” The man protests that the breathalyzer must be broken and invites the cop to test his wife. She also registers as drunk. Exasperated, the man invites the cop to test his child. When the child registers drunk as well, the cop shrugs and says “Yes, perhaps it is broken,” and sends them on their way. Out of earshot the man tells his wife, “See, I told you is wouldn’t hurt to give the kid five grams of vodka.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

TrueCar is partnering with DAV to give cars to wounded vets

TrueCar and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) just launched their second annual DrivenToDrive program, which is aimed at helping disabled veterans by retrofitting vehicles to accommodate their injuries. Last year, TrueCar gave their first-ever recipient the keys to a brand-new and modified cargo van.


One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
DAV has been serving veterans since 1920.

And now it’s time to give away another car.

The CEO of DAV, Marc Burgess spoke in a March 15 press release, “DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence. Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”

“Driving is an expression of freedom and independence,” said Lucas Donat, Chief Brand Officer at TrueCar. “Helping injured veterans, those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom, to drive again is a cause close to our heart. Last year we had such an incredible response that we are excited to open up the contest again, and we’re honored to be working with DAV.”

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
Vehicle awarded may differ from Vehicle shown.

Applicants are selected by a panel based off criteria to determine who will receive the vehicle. The program is only giving one deserving member of the military community a new vehicle. Active duty, veterans, and immediate family members are eligible to enter by visiting the link here. While there, visitors will be asked “what drives you” and how they would use the new vehicle to help them reach their goals.

Entrants must act fast as the submission period ends Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 9PM (PST.) Up to five finalists will be notified on or about March 26 and the Grand Prize winner will be notified on April 9. The official announcement will take place on or about May 21, 2018.

Humor

9 Navy SEAL memes that you’ll be afraid to laugh at

Since the halcyon days of World War II frogmen, Navy SEALs have completed some of the most dangerous missions while remaining hidden in shadows — until the tell-all book comes out, that is.

Although the few who have earned the beloved SEAL Trident are considered the toughest the military has to offer, like anybody, they also have a humorous side the world rarely gets to see — until now.

So, kick back, enjoy and try not to laugh too hard — they could be watching.


One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

We’re pretty sure they meant King Salman, not the king of upstream swimming.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

Did you really think these memes were going to be disrespectful? If so, you’re crazier than we thought. We’re talking about the Navy SEALs here — we’re not taking that risk.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy sacks 2 more officers over USS McCain crash

The commanding officer and the executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain were relieved of duty and reassigned to different posts for “loss of confidence,” according to a US Navy statement on October 11.


Commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez came under scrutiny after the McCain’s collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters in August. Ten sailors died and five were injured.

The collision tore a hole in the destroyer’s left rear hull, where several sailors were inside sealed compartments on the vessel, the Associated Press reported at the time.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
USS John McCain confronts Chinese ships in South China Sea. (Dept. of Defense photo)

Although the investigation is ongoing, the Navy called the collision preventable and said “the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.” The Navy’s strict adherence to customs and traditions dictate that commanders be relieved of duty when superiors lose confidence in their leadership.

The McCain incident followed another collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship in June, which killed seven sailors. The Fitzgerald’s executive officer and senior enlisted sailor were also dismissed in that case.

US Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the three-star commander of the US 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, whose command oversaw the USS McCain and Fitzgerald, was also relieved of duty in August following the series of deadly ship collisions. Four accidents involving ships have occurred in the western Pacific since February, according to The New York Times.

Articles

US defenses get pressured by North Korean missile advances

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


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

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

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

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

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

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

Davis said the US defensive system is limited but effective.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
The THAAD missile system. | Lockheed Martin photo

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

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

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

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

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
A long-range ground-based interceptor launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. DoD photo by Senior Airman Robert J. Volio

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

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

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

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

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

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

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

In 1949, six men gathered in Indianapolis for the last meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization. At its peak, it boasted 400,000 members with thousands of posts nationwide. By 1949, however, only 16 remained. And only six were able to make the trek to Indianapolis. One of those was 108-year-old James Hard, a veteran of the battles of First Bull Run, Antietam, and Chancellorsville.

In the next four years, all but one of those would have died, and with them, the firsthand memory of Civil War combat.


One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

The battle standard of James Hard’s Civil War infantry unit.

The only one of the six to outlive Hard would be Albert Woolson, the last known member of the Union Army and the last undisputed surviving member on any side of the Civil War. But Woolson never saw action as a member of a heavy artillery unit from Minnesota. Hard was the last surviving Union combat veteran of the Civil War.

Between 1900 and into World War II, the surviving number of American Civil War veterans began to dwindle at an exponential rate, much like what the U.S. is seeing with its World War II veterans today. The Grand Army of the Republic held marches, and a yearly meeting called the Encampment to celebrate those veterans who served and to make sure they held on to their hard-won rights.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

A 1912 Grand Army of the Republic parade marching through downtown Los Angeles.

James Hard was born in Rochester, New York around 1843. He lied about his age in 1861 to be able to join the Union Army. He joined the 37th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the Irish Rifles, in May 1861 and his service record verified his claim.

His unit was stationed around Washington, DC until Gen. Irvin McDowell used the 37th as a reserve unit in the battle of First Bull Run. McDowell had never led troops in combat and was soundly beaten. Its biggest loss came at Chancellorsville in 1863 when it lost more than 200 men to night fighting and a surprise attack during a flawed, unorganized retreat. A young James Hard was present for all of it.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

The last of America’s Union Army, gathered in an Indianapolis ballroom in 1949.

By the time the First World War came around GAR membership was still very strong, its encampment still bringing in numbers just shy of a half a million or so. By the time the United States entered World War II, however, the Civil War veterans time had passed, and with their memory went so many of their numbers. In 1942, just over 500 Civil War veterans were on the rolls of the Grand Army of the Republic.

At the outset of the Cold War and the Atomic Age, only 16 remained. They were too frail to walk in any parades and had to be accompanied to Indianapolis by their Veterans Administration nurses. They drove through the parade route in vehicles, machines that were a very new invention to them.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Marine Corps’ last Prowler returns from final deployment

The last of the Marine Corps‘ remaining EA-6B Prowlers have wrapped up their final mission in the Middle East, where they supported troops taking on the Islamic State group. Now, the electronic-warfare aircraft will soon be headed to the boneyard.

More than 250 members of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 are returning to North Carolina after spending seven months operating out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The squadron — the last to fly the service’s decades-old electronic-warfare aircraft — is only about four months away from being deactivated.


But that didn’t slow the Death Jesters downrange, where they were tapped with supporting two campaigns simultaneously: Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.

“The mission of the Prowler is and always has been to deny, degrade and disrupt the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Capt. Robert Ryland, an electronic-countermeasures officer with VMAQ-2. Being based in Qatar, he added, allowed them to respond to missions for both operations.

Ryland declined to specify how many flight hours the crews flew throughout the deployment, due to operational security concerns. But the operational tempo remained high throughout the deployment, he said.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

A U.S. Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

“The presence of electronic warfare is extremely important to the supported unit,” he said. “Though this is the final EA-6B deployment, the need for electronic warfare will remain high worldwide in the future.”

The Marines were called on to support not only U.S. ground troops, but coalition forces as well. From planning missions to executing them, the squadron worked with troops from several countries.

“There were a lot of people on this deployment who’ve dedicated their entire lives to this aircraft, its community and most importantly, the electronic-warfare mission,” Ryland said.

The end of an era

The Prowler has been a part of the Marine Corps’ aviation arsenal since the Vietnam era. The aircraft has been vital on the battlefield, since, including during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now in the fight against ISIS terrorists.

Seeing the Prowler used all the way up until its sundown says a lot about its capabilities, said 1st Lt. Sam Stephenson, a spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Despite the aircraft’s age, Ryland said the Marines with VMAQ-2 were able to maintain high readiness throughout this final deployment.

“There’s sometimes a bit of a misconception that old equals having a hard time getting jets airborne, but that’s actually not the case with the Prowler,” he said.

Ryland credits their skilled maintainers, who’ve worked on Prowlers for a long time. Some joined VMAQ-2 when other Prowler squadrons deactivated.

Now as VMAQ-2 prepares to deactivate, too, the Marines with this squadron are on the lookout for new opportunities. Some will transition to other Marine Corps aircraft, join a different branch, or leave the military when their service time is up, Ryland said.

“Everybody has their own personal plan for what they’ll do next,” Ryland said.

Lt. Col. Greg Sand, EA-6B requirements officer with Marine Corps headquarters, told Military.com in 2017 that the Prowler’s sunset wouldn’t force anyone out of the Marine Corps.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade

Three EA-6B Prowlers.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas)

If Marines weren’t selected to transfer to work on another aircraft, he said they could always serve in B-billets or support their headquarters. And some with EA-6B aircrews were also transitioning to work with drone squadrons, he said.

Despite the end of the Prowlers’ era, the need for electronic-warfare capabilities on the battlefield isn’t going away. Throughout the aircraft’s sundown process, Stephenson said the Marine Corps has been building up a suite of new electronic-warfare capabilities across the Marine air-ground task force.

According to Marine Corps planning documents, that includes pods or sensors that can be affixed to other aircraft and new signals intelligence and cyber capabilities.

“This will be the new way the Marine Corps plans to transition from utilizing the Prowlers to a more distributed strategy where every platform contributes and functions as a sensor, shooter and sharer and [includes] an EW node,” Stephenson said.

Marine units heading to sea or combat are already carrying some of those capabilities, Sand said. They offer commanders a great deal of flexibility, since they can be added to fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

“A MAGTF commander can just walk out onto a flightline now, see the asset, and he or she owns that asset and can task that asset,” Sand said.

And Marine ground troops will still be able to call on joint forces when they need airborne electronic attack capabilities, he added.

“The Prowler in practical terms has been replaced in additional capacities by the Navy [EA-18G] Growler,” Sand said. “That’s a Super Hornet … with a pretty fierce EW capability. The Growler really is the follow-on to the Prowler.”

For now, VMAQ-2 still has a few months of work left before the Prowlers’ final flights. When the squadron does get ready to say goodbye to its beloved aircraft in March 2019, Ryland says they’ll hold a sundown ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Any Marine who worked with the Prowler, whether a year or decades ago, is invited to attend.

“The Prowler has been a really incredible workhorse for the Marine Corps, the United States and allied forces for many, many decades,” Ryland said. “I know the people who fly and fix these aircraft have a lot of respect for them and certainly for those who came before us.

“There is a tremendous amount of hard work and training that goes into performing the Prowler mission,” he added. “It’s a great honor, every time I get to fly in one.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch this video of an air strike against an F-15S in Yemen

Currently, Yemen is in the midst of a civil war. On one side, there are the Houthi rebels, backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the other side is the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. This war has raged since 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition tried to defeat a 2014 coup lead by Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced out as President of Yemen, received the backing of the Houthi rebels. Last month, Saleh was killed after switching his allegiance to the Saudi-led coalition.


The Saudi-led coalition has been dominating the skies since the war exploded on the international scene. This is no surprise, as the Saudi Air Force is one of the most modern in the Persian Gulf region. The strikes have been controversial, causing an American cutoff of munitions deliveries under the Obama Administration. The Trump Administration resumed the deliveries last year.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S in its hangar. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by Eagleamn)

The Houthi rebels have received arms from Iran, including the Noor anti-ship missile. The Noor is an Iranian copy of the Chinese C-802, and was used in multiple attacks on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87).

However, the Houthi have also apparently begun to MacGyver some weapons as well. In the video below, rebels claim to have hit a Saudi F-15S Strike Eagle. According to a Facebook post by aviation historian Tom Cooper, the weapon that was apparently used was a modified AA-11 “Archer” air-to-air missile.

One of NATO’s most deployed anti-air missiles is getting a major upgrade
The AA-11 Archer, also known as the R-73. (DOD graphic)

While the United States has developed surface-to-air versions of air-to-air missiles like the AIM-9 Sidewinder (MIM-72 Chapparal), the AIM-7 Sparrow (the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow), and the AIM-120 AMRAAM (in the HUMRAAM), Russia has not taken this path, preferring specialized missiles. The jury-rigged approach did almost work for the Houthis, but the missile appears to hit a flare from the Saudi Strike Eagle. AA-11s would likely have been in the Yemeni arsenal to arm MiG-29 Fulcrums exported to that country by Russia.

While the Saudi Strike Eagle survived this close call, it’s a reminder that on the battlefield, any weapon can kill you. It may also give Iran – and Russia – some new ideas.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information