Operation Desert Storm kicked off 24 years ago on Jan. 17, 1991.
The Gulf War officially lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. It consisted of two phases; Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Desert Shield was the codename used for the part leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Desert Storm was the combat phase by the coalition forces against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
15,000 Western civilians – including 3,000 Americans – living in Kuwait were rounded up and taken to Baghdad as hostages. In this YouTube screen capture, 5-year-old Briton, Stuart Lockwood refuses Saddam Hussein’s invitation to sit on his knee … Awkward.
700,000 American troops were deployed to the war; that’s more than 2015’s entire population of Nashville, TN.
Desert Storm was the largest military alliance since World War II; 34 nations led by the United States waged war in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
American troops prepared for every scenario since Iraq was known for employing chemical weapons in the past.
Untested in combat, Desert Storm would be the first time the M1 Abrams tank saw action; 1,848 of them were deployed to the war.
The Iraqi Army used T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks imported from the Soviet Union and Poland.
But they were no match for U.S. forces.
More than 1,000 military aircraft were deployed to the Gulf War.
One of the key players in Desert Storm was the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk.
Coalition forces flew over 100,000 sorties and dropped more than 88,500 tons of bombs.
You can’t hit what you can’t see. Iraq’s anti-aircraft guns were useless against the F-117.
Here’s the aftermath of a coalition attack along a road in the Euphrates River Valley…
Today, militaries all over the world are still pushing technological boundaries. Since the turn of the millennium, weapons featuring a vast range of technical sophistication have proven to be game changers.
Everything from concealed roadside bombs — cheap, primitive, and deadly — to multibillion-dollar aerial lasers have transformed conventional methods of combat and altered the world’s technological and political landscape.
Here are 19 of the most important weapons of the last 15 years.
Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs
America’s largest conventional bomb is precision-guided, 20 feet long, weighs 30,000 pounds, and can blast through underground bunkers.
Boeing’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb is designed to pierce 60 feet of reinforced concrete and then detonate 200 feet underground — making no bunker safe.
After the MOP’s first successful test in 2007, the US Air Force ordered an arsenal of these mega-bombs.
In a single widely condemned move, China had militarized outer space. It was a move that might have been inevitable, but whose long-term consequences are startling. If satellites were considered legitimate military targets, attacks could create debris fields that would knock out entire orbits or create chain reactions that might destroy vital communications and global-positioning satellites. Similarly, countries could deploy weapons to outer space capable of destroying terrestrial targets once the global taboo against space warfare is obliterated.
If that alarming worst-case scenario ever comes to pass, future generations could identify the successful 2007 test as the moment that space became a military frontier. The test also displayed China’s eagerness to develop weapons that its rivals would never use — showing how a state can use asymmetrical means to close the gap with it more powerful rivals.
The Navy’s X-47B is a strike-fighter-sized unmanned aircraft with the potential to completely change aerial warfare.
Northrop Grumman’s drone is capable of aerial refueling, 360-degree rolls, and offensive weapon deployment. It’s carried out the first autonomous aerial refueling in aviation history, and has taken off and landed from an aircraft carrier.
It cruises at half the speed of sound, and has a wingspan of 62 feet — as well as a range of at least 2,400 miles, which is more than twice that of the Reaper drone.
The M19 Reaper drone has radically changed the way that the US carries out military operations. First released in 2001, the Reaper drone has been used in surveillance operations and strikes against militants in places ranging from Iraq to Somalia to Pakistan.
Reaper drones are built to be effective at both surveillance and air support. The drones are capable of reading a license plate from over two miles away while at an altitude of 52,000 feet.
The drones can also carry 500-pound bombs and both air-to-ground missiles and air-to-air missiles. Capable of staying airborne for 36 hours, the drone has given the US a remarkable ability to strike targets quickly and quietly around the world — and without risking personnel in the process.
The V-22 Osprey
The V-22 Osprey is a multitask tilt rotor aircraft that has become a staple of the Marine Corps since its introduction into service. The Osprey can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but it can also travel at speeds approaching that of a fixed-wing plane.
The Osprey originally suffered from several worrisome accidents, including a series of fatal crashes, before it was officially introduced into service in 2007. The plane’s later models have now become absolutely indispensable for the Marines. It has seen use in combat and rescue operations as far afield as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marines have used the Osprey for almost every conceivable mission. It has been used for troop transport, MEDEVAC missions, supply transport, and aerial delivery; it is also being tested for use as an aerial refueling platform. As it can land vertically, the Osprey is also able to take part in operations normally out of bounds for traditional aircraft, which typically need hundreds of feet of runway space.
Boost-glide hypersonic weapons
Boost-glide hypersonic weapons are the latest arena in which the US and China are competing militarily. Neither country has quite developed a working advanced hypersonic weapon (AHW) prototype, but the two countries both tested their own versions in August 2014.
Boost-glide weapons can hit their targets with unprecedented speed and effectiveness. If they ever become operable, these weapons would be able to deliver weapons payloads while traveling at a velocity five times faster than the speed of sound over a range of several thousand miles.
Boost-glide weapons are capable of traveling on a trajectory that makes them difficult for missile-defense systems to intercept, since those systems are designed to work against the high arc of traditional ballistic missiles. Boost-glide projectiles travel quickly and at a flat angle, working at speeds and trajectories that flummox existing missile defense technologies.
On January 27, the Navy carried out a successful test of a steerable marine-launched Tomahawk missile. Guided by an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the modified missile was able to change directions in flight and hit a moving maritime target.
“This is potentially a game-changing capability for not a lot of cost,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said at the WEST 2015 conference. “It’s a 1,000-mile anti-ship cruise missile.”
The new converted Tomahawks would have a range of almost 1,000 nautical miles, allowing the US to maintain a considerable edge over rival naval powers. On the other side of the Pacific, one of China’s most threatening new military advancements is its development of its own advanced anti-ship cruise missiles. While potentially threatening to US ships, these missiles would have just half the range of the converted Tomahawk.
The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — from a truck, no less.
With its unmatched precision, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system can equalize conflicts around the world. With its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement, the THAAD can close the gap between mismatched military forces and take away an enemy’s aerial advantage.
Impressively, the THAAD missile does not carry a warhead, instead using pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit-to-kill” lethality to ballistic missiles inside or outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles, depending on the severity of the threat.
The YAL Airborne Laser Testbed
Weaponized lasers will likely be a feature on the battlefield of the future. Even though only one of the weapons was ever built and the program has been discontinued, the YAL Airborne Laser Testbed was an important proof of concept.
The military decided the YAL was impractical — in order to intercept a missile, the aircraft would have to already be in the air, while the weapon itself was expensive to fabricate, operate, and maintain. Still, it demonstrated that enormous, high-powered lasers could destroy large and fast-moving objects, and do so in midair.
If lasers ever become a feature of aerial combat, it will be because of the precedent of the YAL.
The Laser Weapon System
The Navy’s Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, is a ship-mounted weaponized laser that can burn through enemy targets in less than 30 seconds.
The energy used to deploy a single LaWS laser shot costs approximately $1 compared to the traditional SM-2, a similar surface-to-air system that runs $400,000 per missile.
Earlier this year, Boeing signed a contract with the US Navy to upgrade the current software used on the laser system.
In 2010, a malicious computer program swept through Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Stuxnet caused uranium enrichment centrifuges to inexplicably fail and knocked out as much as 20% of Iran’s enrichment capacity. The computer worm essentially slowed Iran’s nuclear efforts, raising the pressure on Tehran and buying the US and its allies some valuable time to build up international opposition to the country’s program.
Stuxnet was a turning point in the modern history of warfare. It was a state-sponsored hack, a computer program likely built by the US and Israel in order to influence the behavior of a rival government. It arguably worked, to a degree — Iran’s program was slowed; the international community tightened its sanctions regime; the Iranian economy teetered on the brink of collapse, and the conditions for the current negotiations slid into place.
But it also set a precedent for governments hacking one another and hashing out their disagreements in the cyber realm. The North Korean hack of Sony is arguably the next step in the process and shows how cyber weapons may be so hard to control now that they’ve been introduced into international affairs.
Ever since Hezbollah rained hundreds of rockets over northern Israel during a July 2006 escalation in hostilities, projectile attacks have been the country’s most pressing security challenge. There have been some 15,000 rocket attacks on the country since 2001, including attacks from Iranian and Russian-made missiles capable of hitting Israel’s major population centers.
The Iron Dome antimissile battery is capable of tracking the trajectory of an incoming projectile and then launching an interceptor that detonates the missile at a safe altitude. Iron Dome saves lives on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Hamas rocket attacks during flare-ups in 2012 and 2014 killed few people inside of Israel even including days in which more than 100 rockets were fired. Without Iron Dome, the death toll would have been far higher in both conflicts and Israel’s response might have been even more protracted.
Iron Dome was developed by a state-owned Israeli defense company to face a specific threat and therefore has little battlefield applicability beyond the country’s borders. But it’s one of the primary modern examples of a country mustering all of its technological resources to solve a highly specialized and difficult security problem. In an era where large, set-piece battles between armies and traditional battlefield tactics may be a thing of the past, this may be the kind of the military edge that ends up counting the most.
Both China and the US have developed nonlethal “heat rays” that cause extreme pain and can aid in crowd control. The general idea behind the weapons is to heat the water just below the surface of a person’s skin so as to induce pain, causing the target to flee without inflicting death or incapacitation.
The Chinese heat ray can target individuals at up to 262 feet away. When hooked up to an extra power source, the beam can hit targets at distances of 0.6 miles.
The US version of the heat ray, known as the Active Denial System (ADS), had a range of 1,000 meters and could raise the temperature of a target’s skin by 130 degrees. However, the ADS was recalled by the US military without ever having been used over questions of its ethical application.
Bullets that can change direction in flight
Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) are bullets that can change their path during flight to correct for the movement of a target or any other factors that might have driven the projectile off-course.
The bullets feature optical tips that can detect guidance lasers focused on a target. Tiny fins on the bullets then guide the bullet towards that laser. The Pentagon just successfully conducted a live-fire test utilizing these rounds.
If fully implemented, these rounds could drastically improve the accuracy of US soldiers. The weapons would also help reduce the risks of friendly-fire incidents or of stray bullets harming civilians.
The Golden Hour blood container
This isn’t a weapon — but it’s still a game changer.
The Golden Hour, developed by US Army scientists in 2003, helped keep US soldiers alive after suffering a major battlefield injury. The box-like thermal container preserved red blood cells at a temperature that would prevent donor blood from dying under harsh environmental conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan — all without having to use electricity, batteries, or ice to moderate the blood’s temperature.
If soldiers were injured on the battlefield, there would be life-saving donor blood immediately on hand in small and easily portable containers that require no actual energy input. This allows medics to perform transfusions quickly and efficiently when soldiers’ lives are most at risk.
The container shows that not every major battlefield development is weapons related, and it demonstrates just how far technology has come in saving soldiers’ lives.
Improvised explosive devices
Every era of modern warfare has had weapons that closed the gap between powerful state militaries and nonstate militant groups. During the Cold War, rebel groups around the world used the cheap and plentiful AK-47 to defeat far larger armies around the world.
The roadside bomb is how insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan bogged down a far larger and more powerful US military. Camouflaged “improvised explosive devices,” often hidden in cars or potholes, could be detonated using cell phones. They could also be built quickly and covertly, and without a huge amount of engineering expertise.
IEDs killed as many as 3,100 US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, representing around two-thirds of total US combat deaths. The bombs prevented the US from winning in both countries through conventional means, leading to technological developments like the MRAP and a shift to counterinsurgency strategy in both wars. IEDs have arguably transformed the US military and its mission like no other modern weapon.
Roadside bombs showed how in the 21st century, it’s still possible for a small and technologically primitive military force to wreak havoc on a larger and infinitely better-equipped one.
Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles
The US was in huge trouble in Iraq in 2005. The American-led mission was losing ground to a growing insurgency led by Al Qaeda elements. And the US was suffering huge losses from improvised explosive devices that would rip through even heavily armored vehicles. Insurgents were setting bombs that would detonate under American personnel carriers, which weren’t built to withstand the insurgents’ weaponry.
The heavily armored MRAP was designed, developed, and built in a matter of months to counter the US’ biggest operational challenge in Iraq; by 2009 over 21,000 of them were in service.
Each member of Navy SEAL Team Six is issued $65,000 four-tube night-vision goggles, according to Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette in his book, “No Easy Day.”
Compared to the standard two-tube goggles, which Bissonnette says are similar to binoculars, the four-tube model gives soldiers a greatly expanded field of view.
The Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles are made in Londonderry, New Hampshire, by L-3 Warrior Systems’ Insight division, Defense One reports.
Since 2010, the Pentagon has spent at least $12.5 million on this elite military eyewear, according to Defense One.
The Ghost hovercraft
Developed by Juliet Marine Systems, the Ghost could become one of the military’s ships of the future.
Propped on two blade-like pontoons, the Ghost cuts through the water while maintaining enhanced balance. The design allows the ship to reduce friction and increase its stability.
The ship has also been designed for maximum stealth. It is nonmagnetic and hard to detect via sonar, making it ideal for infiltration and surveillance of enemy waters.
The Ghost can also deploy a range of offensive weapons that are similar to what an attack helicopter would carry. The vessel can be equipped with Gatling guns, Griffin missiles, and rockets launched either from its hull or from the craft’s skin.
Specialist Bryan Anderson’s first question when he came out of a seven-day coma and saw his mother was, “What are you doing in Iraq?” But his mother wasn’t in Iraq. She was at his bedside at Walter Reed Medical Center.
A week before Anderson had been on his second combat tour, once again serving as an Army MP this time charged with training members of the Iraqi police. His unit had to travel the streets of Baghdad in up-armored Humvees to get to the various police stations around the city, and they were getting hit by IEDs on a daily basis.
“It wasn’t a matter of if we’d get hit, but when we’d get hit,” he said.
Anderson’s exposure was increased by the fact that the unit commander liked his squad. “He knew we knew what we were doing,” he said. “So our mission became to take him wherever he wanted to go to do whatever he wanted to do.”
And his CO wanted to see everything. “He was ‘Capt. America,’ as we called him,” Anderson said. “I get what he was trying to do – lead by example – but at the time we viewed it as he was putting our lives in danger because he was going out to the same Iraqi police stations every day.”
Although they tried to stay unpredictable with their routes and times, there were only so many police stations and so many ways to get to them. The odds caught up to Anderson on October 23, 2005 at 11 o’clock in the morning. He was driving the last of three Humvees in a slow-moving convoy when an IED triggered by a laser beam exploded next to him.
“I had both my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel and one leg curled under the other because we were only doing, like, five miles per hour, which is why we’re all still alive,” Anderson explains. “The IED was set for a vehicle traveling 30 miles an hour, so instead of going through the passenger compartment the explosion took off the front of the Humvee.”
But although the detonation didn’t happen as the insurgents had planned, the toll on Anderson’s body was substantial. “I saw smoke, fire, and sparks coming through my door,” he said. “And then it was pitch black because there was so much smoke.”
The soldier riding shotgun jumped out before the vehicle stopped with shrapnel in his wrist and hip. The gunner got what Anderson called the “Forrest Gump wound” – shrapnel to his butt – and he jumped out of the turret.
Anderson tried to get out of the Humvee but couldn’t, unaware of his wounds. The two others busted the bolts off the driver’s side door and pulled him out of the wreckage.
“All I could see was my friends running back and forth like they’d just seen a ghost, and I knew something was wrong,” Anderson said.
He tried to use his right hand to swipe the flies away from his face, and noticed that his index finger tip was missing. He turned his hand over and could see shattered bones and torn ligaments.
As he was looking at his right hand a fly landed in his left eye. He went to swipe it with his other hand, but “whiffed,” as he put it. His left hand was gone.
Then he looked down. His legs were gone. He couldn’t process what he was seeing. “There’s no way that just happened,” he thought to himself. “I’m dreaming.”
“Then I got this weird feeling, like, ‘Oh, man, my mom’s gonna kill me,” he said.
Then he looked up at the soldier who was attending to him and asked, “Do you think I’m ever going to get laid again?”
It took the medevac helicopter 12 minutes to get to the scene. Anderson was having trouble breathing because his right lung had collapsed with the concussion of the bomb. The shock was wearing off a bit, and he described the initial pain sensation as a “burning all over, like putting on too much Icy Hot.”
The helo landed in what Anderson described as “an impossible place.” Once they were airborne he passed out.
He awoke seven days later to see his mother standing over him, saying, “You had an accident.”
Anderson considered his injuries and thought to himself, “Really?” Fortunately his entire family was there along with his mother – his identical twin brother, his sister, his aunts and uncles. “That gave me enough strength to say screw it,” he said. “One day at a time, right?”
He spent 13 months at Walter Reed, six weeks in-patient and the rest living at the Malone House as he did physical therapy. For the first four months he had a good attitude, sort of what he called a “wait and see” outlook. But then he fell into deep depression. “I’d look at myself as a triple amputee and ask, ‘What am I possibly going to be able to do?'”
He had panic attacks and flew into uncontrollable rage. He didn’t sleep for two weeks. Then one day he was sitting by a reflecting pond near the Malone House talking to his twin brother who asked him if he was listening to music. Anderson replied that he wasn’t. His brother gave him a CD of a mutual friend’s band.
“I was listening to the chorus of this one song,” he recounts. “The words got to me: ‘Life’s been less than kind. We’ve all been hurt; we’ve all been sorry. Take a number, stand in line. How we survive is what makes us who we are.’ For some reason that just resonated with me, and at that moment I felt like I’d grabbed the first rung of the ladder to pull myself out of this hole.”
The second rung was an impromptu trip to Las Vegas. “I was able to just be a dude for the first time in a long time,” he said. “I had fun, and that forced me to think about what’s in front of me. It made me live in the moment.”
When he got back to Walter Reed he mediated at the reflecting pond again, and it struck him that he had two choices: He could roll over and die or he could go live his life.
“At that moment I made the decision to start figuring out what I could and couldn’t do,” he said. “And it turns out there’s not a lot I can’t do.”
Anderson started skateboarding and snowboarding again. And, after being profiled in Esquire magazine and receiving a couple of offers, he decided to head to LA to pursue an acting career, something he’d always wanted to do.
His first gig was as a stunt driver in “The Dark Knight.” On the set he befriended the movie’s star, Heath Ledger. “He was a skater,” Anderson said. One day he mentioned to the actor that it was intimidating to talk to him with his Joker makeup on. Ledger replied, “You realize I could say the same thing about you, right?”
Anderson’s next role was in “The Wrestler” in which he has a brief scene handing Mickey Rourke one of his prosthetic legs to use as a weapon against an opponent. After that he played a wounded Navy SEAL accused of murder on “CSI: New York.”
Following a couple of episodes of “All My Children,” a cameo in “The Wire,” and an episode of “Hawaii Five-O” he landed a part in “American Sniper.”
“I was standing next to Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper thinking, ‘This is crazy,'” Anderson said.
The first scene he was in had no script. “Bradley Cooper told us, ‘Clint likes to do things natural,’ and he told us to just say whatever we wanted. Nobody was talking, so I just wound up taking the lead and telling the story about how my right hand was saved the day I was hit because I reached for a cigarette.”
Anderson’s plan for a future in Hollywood is pretty simple: “More parts,” he said.
Whatever happens he’s going to leverage the main lessons his life since that tragic and fateful day in Iraq has taught him: “Nobody’s going to make you happy. You have to do that yourself,” he said. “And take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way.”
Towards the end of WWII, allied forces gained much-needed ground on diminished German forces while Adolf Hitler was carefully concealing a dark secret from his devoted followers.
Years prior, Hitler was seen in several propaganda films walking tall and strong. As time progressed, detailed media footage was limited as the Führer showed signs of a major debilitating disease.
The German leader tried to hide his declining posture, stumbling walk and hand tremors during his public appearances. Theodore Morell was Hitler’s devoted personal physician for nine years but missed the critical condition — Parkinson’s disease.
A U.S. Coast Guard crew based in Astoria, Oregon, returned after a 2.5-month deployment that yielded the seizure of $11 million in cocaine and marijuana, officials said.
The Steadfast, which earned the nickname “El Tiburon Blanco,” or the white shark in English, returned April 23 after seizing 700 pounds of cocaine and 170 pounds of marijuana. The cutter’s deployment included a 69-member crew, plus helicopter personnel from the Air Station Humboldt Bay and a law enforcement team, said spokeswoman Senior Chief Rachel Polish.
The crew patrolled the eastern Pacific Ocean and seized the drugs from two smuggling incidents off the Central American coast, according to a news release. The crew unloaded the drugs April 20 during a port call in San Diego.
Polish said she could not disclose, for security reasons, the specific locations and general trajectory taken by the Steadfast for those operations. However, the crew traveled 12,000 miles that began with a training stop at a U.S. naval station in Washington before heading south, according to the news release. The crew also stopped in Mazatlan, Mexico, with $2,500 in supplies and equipment, and guardsmen helped repair and paint a classroom and exterior of a school.
Polish said the deployment was part of the broader Operation Martillo — Spanish for hammer. Since its launch in 2012, the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other agencies have seized 693 metric tons of cocaine, $25 million in cash, and hundreds of vessels and aircraft, and they have arrested 1,863 people, according to the U.S. Southern Command website.
Drug smugglers off the Florida coast called the Steadfast “El Tiburon Blanco” when she was based in St. Petersburg, according to the news release. The vessel’s reputation for busting up smugglers made her the first cutter to be awarded the “gold marijuana leaf, indicating one million pounds of marijuana seized,” officials said.
The 49-year-old Reliance Class Cutter made her home in Astoria in 1994.
Marines also got into the action with displays of their capabilities and equipment, some driving amphibious vehicles off ships and right into the reviewing areas.
Russia first established a formal navy under Tsar Peter the Great in 1696. In the over 300 years since then, it has undergone a number of changes from the Imperial Navy to the Soviet Navy to today’s Russian Federation Navy.
Despite the navy’s prestige in Russia, the military branch faces a lot of problems.
Its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is outdated and in ill repair. It often needs an oceangoing tug to accompany it on long trips in case it breaks down. Its plumbing is also bad, leading to uncomfortable conditions for the crew.
Lockheed Martin completed the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline, a company statement said.
“Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the 5th Generation Raptor’s Very Low Observable radar cross-section,” Lockheed stated.
The increase in F-22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support, and antenna calibration.
Also, Air Force officials have told Scout Warrior that, by 2019, the service will begin upgrading F-22 functionality for the AIM-120D and AIM-9X Air-to-Air missiles as well as enhanced Air-to-Surface target location capabilities. The F-22 currently carries the AIM-9X Block 1 and the current upgrade will enable carriage of AIM-9X Block 2.
Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers explain that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuse and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety. Block II also features updated electronics that enable significant enhancements, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range engagements, a Raytheon statement said.
Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states. The AIM-120D is built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurment units, and a two-way data link, Raytheon statements explain.
The AIM-120D also includes improved High-Angle Off-Boresight technology enabling the weapon to destroy targets at a wider range of angles.
Additional upgrades to the stealth fighter, slated for 2021, are designed to better enable digital communications via data links with 4th and 5th generation airplanes.
As the Air Force and Lockheed Martin move forward with weapons envelope expansions and enhancements for the F-22, there is, of course, a commensurate need to upgrade software and its on-board sensors to adjust to emerging future threats, industry developers explained. Ultimately, this effort will lead the Air Force to draft up requirements for new F-22 sensors.
The Air Force is in the early phases of designing new sensors for its stealthy 5th-generation F-22 Raptor as it proceeds with software upgrades, hardware adjustments, new antennas, and data link improvements designed to better enable to connect the F-22 and F-35 sensor packages to one another, industry officials explained.
Sensor interoperability, two-way data links, and other kinds of technical integration between the two 5th-Gen stealth aircraft are considered key to an Air Force combat strategy which intends for the F-22 speed and air-to-air combat supremacy to complement and work in tandem with the F-35’s next-gen sensors, precision-attack technology, computers, and multi-role fighting mission ability.
An essential software adjustment, called “Update 6,” is now being worked on by Lockheed Martin engineers on contract with the Air Force. Work on the software is slated to be finished by 2020, John Cottam, F-22 Program Deputy, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.
“The F-22 is designed to fly in concert with F-35. Software Update 6 for the F-22 will give the Air Force a chance to link their sensor packages together. Sensors are a key component to its capability. As the F-22 gets its new weapons on board – you are going to need to upgrade the sensors to use the new weapons capability,” Cottam added.
A hardware portion of the upgrades, called a “tactical mandate,” involves engineering new antennas specifically designed to preserve the stealth configuration of the F-22.
“New antennas have to be first constructed. They will be retrofitted onto the airplane. Because of the stealth configuration, putting antennas on is difficult and time consuming,” Cottam said.
While the F-35 is engineered with dog-fighting abilities, its advanced sensor technology is intended to recognize enemy threats at much further distances – enabling earlier, longer-range attacks to destroy enemies in the air. Such technologies, which include 360-degree sensors known as Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Aperture System and a long range Electro-Optical Targeting System, are designed to give the F-35 an ability to destroy targets at much longer ranges – therefore precluding the need to dogfight.
Like the F-35, the latest F-22s have radar and data-links, radar warning receivers, and targeting technologies. Being that the F-22 is regarded as the world’s best air-to-air platform, an ability for an F-35 and F-22 to more quickly exchange sensor information, such as targeting data, would produce a potential battlefield advantage, industry developers and Air Force senior leaders have explained.
For example, either of the aircraft could use stealth technology to penetrate enemy airspace and destroy air defense systems. Once a safe air corridor is established for further attacks, an F-22 could maintain or ensure continued air supremacy while an F-35 conducted close-air-support ground attacks or pursued ISR missions with its drone-like video-surveillance technology. Additionally, either platform could identify targets for the other, drawing upon the strengths of each.
Conversely, an F-35 could use its long-range sensors and “sensor fusion” to identify airborne targets which the F-22 may be best suited to attack.
Air Force developers are, quite naturally, acutely aware of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter and Russia’s PAK-FA T-50 stealth aircraft as evidence that the US will need to work vigorously to sustain its technological edge.
Along these lines, both the F-22 and F-35 are engineered to draw from “mission data files,” described as on-board libraries storing information on known threats in particular geographical locations. This database is integrated into a radar warning receiver so that aircraft have the earliest possible indication of the threats they are seeing.
Cottam also explained that the House and Senate have directed the Air Force to look at two different potential sensor upgrades for the F-22, an effort the service is now in the conceptual phase of exploring.
“A sensor enhancement program is now being configured. We do not know what that is going to entail because it is not yet funded by the Air Force and we have not seen a requirements documents,” Cottam said. “Threats in the world are always evolving so we need to evolve this plane as well.”
Newer F-22s have a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which uses electromagnetic signals or “pings” to deliver a picture or rendering of the terrain below, allow for better target identification.
The SAR technology sends a ping to the ground and then analyzes the return signal to calculate the contours, distance and characteristics of the ground below.
The sun has set over the scrubby Savannah. The moon is full. It is time for Ryan Tate and his men to go to work. In camouflage fatigues, they check their weapons and head to the vehicles.
Somewhere beyond the ring of light cast by the campfire, out in the vast dark expanse of thornbushes, baobab trees, rocks and grass, are the rhinos. Somewhere, too, may be the poachers who will kill them to get their precious horns.
The job of Tate, a 32-year-old former US Marine, and the group of US military veterans he has assembled in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa is simple: keep the rhinos and the rest of the game in the bush around their remote base alive.
The men are not mercenaries, or park rangers –they work for Tate’s Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (Vetpaw), a US-based nonprofit organization funded by private donations. All have seen combat, often with elite military units, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Though equipped with vehicles, trail bikes, assault rifles, sniper suits, and radios, the most important weapons in the war against poaching, Tate believes, are the skills and experiences his team gained on successive deployments in conflict zones over the last decade and a half.
“We are here for free. We are not going anywhere. Whether it is cold or hot, day or night… we want to work with anyone who needs help,” Tate says.
The initiative is not without controversy. Some experts fear “green militarization” and an arms race between poachers and gamekeepers. Others believe deploying American former soldiers to fight criminals in South Africa undermines the troubled country’s already fragile state.
But the scale of the challenge of protecting South Africa’s rhinos is clear to everyone, with a rise in poaching in recent years threatening to reverse conservation gains made over decades.
Though rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, a kilo is worth up to $65,000. The demand comes from East Asia, where rhino horn is seen as a potent natural medicine and status symbol, and is met by international networks linking dirt-poor villages in southern Africa with traffickers and eventually buyers. Patchy law enforcement, corruption and poverty combine to exacerbate the problem.
In South Africa, home to 80% of the world’s wild rhinos, only 13 were poached in 2007. In 2015, the total was nearly 1,200, though losses have declined slightly since.
“These criminal gangs are armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates who will stop at nothing,” a South African government spokesman said in February.
Tate founded Vetpaw after seeing a documentary about poaching and the deaths of park rangers in Africa. His team now works on a dozen private game reserves covering a total of around 200,000 hectares in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province. One advantage for local landowners is the protection heavily armed combat veterans provide against the violent break-ins feared by so many South Africans, particularly on isolated rural farmsteads. The team has also run training courses for local guides and security staff.
But if one aim of Vetpaw is to counter poaching, another is to help combat veterans in the US, where former servicemen suffer high levels of unemployment and mental illness.
“Everyone gets PTSD when they come back from war … you are never going to get the brotherhood, the intensity again … [There are] all these veterans with billions of dollars of training and the government doesn’t use them. I saw a need in two places and just put them together,” says Tate.
The Vetpaw base in the bush in Limpopo, though considerably less spartan than most “forward operating bases”, is familiar to anyone who has spent time with US forces. There is a rack of helmets and body armor, a detailed map pinned to the wall, and banners with the insignia of US Special Forces hung above a dining table. There is the banter, and the jargon. The team talks of tactical missions, intel, and “bad guys”.
Despite lines on a whiteboard reading, “In the absence of a plan move towards the sound of gunfire and kill everything,” Tate says he has selected combat veterans because they will resist the temptation to use lethal force. Poachers are told to put down their arms, and then handed over to the police.
“This is textbook counterinsurgency here. It’s unconventional warfare,” says Kevin, a British-born veteran who quit US Elite Special Forces last year after a decade and a half largely on active duty, frequently in close quarter combat. “Shooting and killing is easy. The hardest thing is not shooting but figuring stuff out… if you kill someone do you turn a family, a village against you?” Like other members of Vetpaw, Kevin did not want to be identified by his full name.
The thinking is rooted in the “hearts and minds” approach developed by the US military a decade ago when senior officers realized their massive firepower was winning battles, but not campaigns.
Tate says poachers coerce local communities into providing safe houses or other support – much as US army officers once explained assistance given to insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Francois Meyer, who grew up in northern Limpopo and runs a local conservation NGO that works with Vetpaw, says villages vary. “In some, the poachers are seen as heroes. They give out money. There is a kind of Robin Hood syndrome. Taking from the rich white man to give to the poor. But in others, the poachers get the living shit kicked out of them,” Meyer said.
There is little consensus on what response to the problem of poaching might work best, and fierce debate rages among conservationists, farmers, and officials.
A moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn in South Africa implemented in 2009 was controversially overturned by a court in April. Though there has been an increase in arrest of poachers, there are few convictions and “a lack of political will” means many of the “kingpins” remain untouched.
The complexities of the issue seem distant to the veterans out on patrol in remote northern Limpopo, high on a rocky crag, listening to the grunt of a leopard or the cough of the baboons in the gathering night.
“After what I’ve done, I couldn’t just go and do a nine to five. I’ve never had nightmares or flashbacks or anything … [but] after years of doing what I’ve done, this is good for the soul,” says Kevin, the former Green Beret. “It’s in a good cause and you get to watch the African sunset.”
The Christmas Day crash of a Tupelov Tu-154 off the coast of Sochi, a Black Sea resort town in Russia, killed all 92 people on board. Among the dead are 60 members of the Red Army Choir.
The Red Army Choir had a viral moment when they sang backup to a cover of “Sweet Home Alabama” done by the Leningrad Cowboys. One Youtube video is below:
The choir members killed were part of the Alexandrov Ensemble, according to a CNN report. The choir was slated to perform for Russian military personnel at the Khmeimim air base in Syria.
According to the choir’s iTunes page, the group took first place at the Paris International Exposition in 1937, and features a male chorus, with dancers and an orchestra.
The impact of this crash on Russia could be compared to the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that killed rock-and-roll artists Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, or the loss of band leader Glenn Miller in unexplained circumstances while en route to Europe on Dec, 15, 1944.
A 2009 photo of the Alexandrov Ensemble. (Photo from Wikiemdia Commons)
In a statement on Facebook, the director of the MVD’s Red Army Choir, Gen. Victor Eliseev, said, “Today we are in the shock of the catastrophe in which our colleges of the Alexandrov Choirs and Dances disappeared. Not only were they our colleagues, but a very important military art company, and I am shocked to learn of the disappearance of their leader, my fellow student and friend General Valery Khalilov, with whom we studied and professed together at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. It is a terrible loss for Russian music and art.”
“All members of the Red Army Chorus MVD of the Russian National Guard join me in expressing their friendship to the families of the members of the Alexandrov Ensemble and the families of all the victims of this tragedy and to address our feelings to them more affectionate in this dramatic moment,” Eliseev added.
Ah, the American shopping mall — filled with department stores, gag gifts, and five or six pretzel shops per floor. It’s hard to imagine a United States that isn’t anchored around these retail utopias.
But the shopping mall is only 60 years old, and — while they were partially envisioned as a way to get people to stay near stores and spend money — they were designed to spread the American population away from industrial centers and provide shelter in case of nuclear war.
The first was Southdale Mall near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Southdale and many of the malls that followed were designed by Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant who fled Nazi Germany in 1938.
Gruen’s main goal when designing malls was that they should act as self-contained downtown areas. All the best parts of 1950 cities without any of the cars, crime, and unrest that he loathed. Climate-controlled to an eternal spring, his designs featured green space and were surrounded by apartments and office centers.
When Gruen began proposing his indoor malls to civic and business leaders, he packaged it as a civil defense measure. It was to be a perfect cornerstone of the “life belts” around major cities.
The idea for “life belts” had been gaining traction since 1950. It called for a circle of civil defense infrastructure, like shelters and hospitals, to be built just far enough from city centers that they would survive a nuclear bomb strike on the city.
When plans were made for Southdale Mall, civic leaders asked for it to be built at a location 10 miles from Minneapolis’s city center, two miles from the edge of an expected blast. It was nestled between two highways so people could arrive quickly during an attack.
It was constructed of steel and reinforced concrete. A large fallout shelter and a 10,000-kilowatt generator sat underground in case they were needed for an emergency. Plans were drawn to turn shops into food production centers during a crisis.
Other malls, like Randhurst Mall near Chicago and Park Lane Mall in Reno, incorporated shelters and other aspects of Gruens’s designs. But the shopping center as fallout shelter concept didn’t really catch on.
President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Dec. 28 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to pay their respects to the victims and honor the survivors of the attack 75 years ago that drew the United States into World War II.
Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe in Honolulu, President Barack Obama reflects on how war tests people’s most enduring values, Dec. 27, 2016.
“It is here that we reflect on how war tests our most enduring values,” Obama said. “How even as Japanese-Americans were deprived of their own liberty during the war, one of the most decorated military units in the history of the United States was the 442nd Infantry Regiment, and its 100th Infantry Battalion, the Japanese-American Nisei.”
“America’s first battle of the Second World War roused a nation,” Obama said. “Here, in so many ways, America came of age. A generation of Americans — including my grandparents, that greatest generation — they did not seek war, but they refused to shrink from it.”
On the front lines and in factories, Americans did their part to win that war, Obama said. To the World War II veterans in his audience, he declared, “A grateful nation thanks you.”
The meeting of the two leaders, the president said, was intended to “send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war, that reconciliation carries more rewards than retribution.”
“Here in this quiet harbor, we honor those we lost,” Obama said. “And we give thanks for all that our two nations have won, together, as friends.”
Managing an infantry squad is similar to a sports coach shifting players around to positions that best fit their strengths and talents. Since Marines aren’t created equal, capitalizing on those strengths and building up weakness is why the U.S. military is such a juggernaut today.
On special occasions, a Marine infantry squad patrol is comprised of a platoon leader (if he decides to go), a squad leader, three fire team leaders, three SAW gunners, and six riflemen.
This all, of course, depends on how your squad is made up — we’re even going to throw in a Company Gunny for sh*ts and giggles.
Bell Boeing recently test fired laser-guided rockets from the V-22 Osprey aircraft in a series of mock combat demonstrations at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., showing for the first time that the tiltrotor aircraft can be used for offensive missile and rocket attacks.
The forward-firing flights at Yuma shot a range of guided and unguided rockets from the Osprey, including laser-guided folding-fin, Hyrda-70 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets and laser-guided Griffin B missiles, Bell helicopter officials said.
“The forward-firing demonstration was a great success,” Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22 said in a written statement. “We’ve shown the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability.”
Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 tiltrotor for the Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 for Air Force Special Operations Command. Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013, company officials said.
V-22 Osprey aircraft have been deployed in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The aircraft are often used for humanitarian assistance, casualty recovery, medical evacuation, VIP transport and raid missions. If the Marines or Air Force choose to use the rocket or missile capability, the Osprey will gain additional offensive attack mission possibilities.
“Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set,” Tobin continued. “These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points, or FARPs, which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice.”