The Air Force's search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

The Air Force is 10 days into its “light attack experiment” at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, where four aircraft — AirTractor and L3’s AT-802L Longsword; Sierra Nevada and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano; and Textron and AirLand LLC’s Scorpion, as well as their AT-6B Wolverine — have been strutting their stuff.


Air Force pilots already have flown basic surface attack missions in the A-29 and AT-6, according to the service, and conducted “familiarization flights” in the Scorpion and AT-802L as part of the month-long event.

The live-fly exercises will move into combat maneuver scenarios and weapons drops, some of which have already happened.

“This experiment is about looking at new ways to improve readiness and lethality,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement August 9. Goldfein, along with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, stopped by the event, which the service has been putting together for months.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano A-29 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Photo by Ethan D Wagner

How service leaders plan to evaluate the performance of four very different aircraft — from jet to turboprop plane to an armored cropduster — is still to be determined.

The aircraft were on static display for leaders, including Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mike Holmes and Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, to check out.

Goldfein even flew in the AT-6 and the A-29, according to reports.

“We’re experimenting and innovating, and we’re doing it in new and faster ways,” Wilson said of the experiment, dubbed OA-X. “Experiments like these help drive innovation and play a key role in enhancing the lethality of our force.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Beechcraft AT-6 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Photo by Ethan D Wagner.

Goldfein added, “We are determining whether a commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft and sensor package can contribute to the coalition fight against violent extremism. I appreciate industry’s willingness to show us what they have to offer.”

The service has said the prolonged conflict in the Middle East, with the Islamic State and other extremist groups extending their influence in the region, is the impetus for buying another plane — just one that won’t cost taxpayers a fortune.

“We want to look at a concept so we could have a lower operating cost, a lower unit cost, for something to be able to operate in a permissive … environment than what I would require a fourth- or a fifth-gen aircraft to be able to operate in,” Bunch said in March.

But no matter what the outcome, some in Washington, DC are already pleasantly surprised the Air Force has become more hands-on in potential future weapons and aircraft buying strategies.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Maj. Glenn Meleen, a test pilot for the 40th Flight Test Squadron out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, prepares to taxi prior to flight in the Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Okula

“The light attack experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, provides an example for how rapid acquisition and experimentation can help our military procure the needed capabilities more quickly, more efficiently, and more affordably than we have in the past,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain said.

“Our adversaries are modernizing to deploy future capabilities aimed at eroding the US military advantage — and reversing that trend will require a new, innovative approach to acquisition and procurement,” he said in a statement August 9.

The Arizona Republican in January released his white paper assessment on how the Defense Department should move forward in military spending.

The former Navy pilot stressed that, while the Air Force should sustain its A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter fleet for close-air support, “the Air Force should procure 300 low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft sits at Holloman AFB. USAF photo by Christopher Okula

McCain on August 9 stressed his committee has been supportive of the action, and “included $1.2 billion in authorized spending for the program in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.”

“I am encouraged to see the Air Force using the rapid acquisition authorities that Congress has given the Department of Defense in recent defense authorization bills,” he said. “The light attack aircraft will be an integral part of building our military capacity to combat current threats, and this experiment is a new model for quickly getting our warfighters the capabilities they need to bring the fight to the enemy.”

The event is scheduled to run through August 31.

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4 terrible pieces of advice ‘Carl’ would give to the US President

It was reported earlier this month that during a July 19 meeting with his national-security team, President Donald Trump turned down counsel of his generals, saying he leaned “toward the advice of rank-and-file soldiers.”


As one of those “rank-and-file” soldiers who has sat through countless sensing sessions where dumb asses give the stupidest advice on how to run the Army, I can see plenty of room for error.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Case in point (Comic by Maximilian at Terminal Lance)

Writer’s Note: This is not intended to be a political piece. It’s only meant to shine a light on the humor that would come from giving “Carl” — or the person that has to be THAT f*cking guy in your unit — the ultimate open door policy. Soldiers could have great ideas that could help turn things around in Afghanistan. But not Carl.

1. Every base would get a luxurious boost in MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation).

Soldiers are more ready and resilient if they aren’t bored out of their f*cking minds, right? Some soldiers make it seem like it’s a matter of life and death if they have to twiddle their thumbs for more than 10 minutes at a time. Carl’s first piece of advice?

“Porn, Mr. President. No one can be busy twiddling their thumbs if their twiddling their little rifleman instead. Gonna need tablets and good WiFi for every combat outpost. And make sure to not put some dumb password on it. No one wants to look for a sticky note when they’re trying to get sticky, you feel me?”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Back in my day, all we had was a broken pool table and a library that only a few people went to, and we pretended like we were fine with it! (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Get rid of the MREs for junk food.

Did you know there’s a lot of science behind MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat)? They have to have at least 5-year shelf life, specific calorie counts, have a variety of nutrients and hold their nutrients through a quick heating process, are specifically pH balanced, stay oxygen controlled, and so much more. But Carl doesn’t realize that.

“Beer and brauts. And make sure they have lots of pork so the locals won’t want to touch us. Come to think of it, put some stickers in ’em that say, ‘Infidel filled with pig,’ so all the enemies will know our blood is unsafe to touch. Yeah, mess with us, lose your virgins. Expiration dates? Nah, we’ll drink ’em before they go bad.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The last of these were made in ’08. Unless they were kept in a temperature of below a constant 40°F, these f*ckers should all be expired. We should be safe now. (Photo via Wikicommons)

3. Put fast food joints on all FOBs.

I remember my first time at Ali Al Salem Air Base. One of my NCOs took me to the McDonalds. He bought me a burger and told me “Ski, (every service member with a Polish last name has it reduced to the same three letters) enjoy this burger because it’s all down hill from here.” I replied, “But Sergeant, this tastes like cat sh*t flattened in an ash tray.”

“Like I said, all down hill from here.”

And Carl doesn’t get that it’s a problem of logistics and security.

“Here we go, President Trump. What they really need over there is a little taste of home, specifically, a taste of home-fried chicken from Kentucky. Yeah, KFC. Finger-licken good.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Yet, it tasted so much better the second time around. (photo via TheBlueShadow)

4. The definition of “hazing” would get a lot more intense.

‘Member hazing? I ‘member.

There’s a difference between taking a wooden mallet and giving someone a seizure and tapping someone on their new rank to say “good sh*t, sergeant!” There’s a difference between having a lighthearted joke with the new guy by telling him to run around everywhere on a scavenger hunt and things that are the definition of sexual assault.

“But like, they were super mean to me. One of ’em said I should go get the keys to the drop zone for the airborne guys. But, get this, there’s no such thing! Yeah, so no more snipe hunts, Mr. President. And also, no more hard stuff right after lunch. I need time to digest my KFC.”

Related: This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

 

What dumb ideas do you think Carl would give the President of the United States? Let’s hear them in the comment section.

Associate Editor and Army paratrooper Logan Nye contributed to this story.

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5 ways Russia’s military is literally falling apart

Russia has been saber-rattling so hard that cracks are forming in the blade and the hilt seems to be falling off. The military has been embarrassed by a number of of high profile failures and missteps in the past few years.


To be clear, the Russians aren’t helpless and certain units are deadly. They have a large nuclear arsenal, some of the world’s quietest submarines, and an impressive new tank. But here are six reasons Russian military planners can’t be sleeping easy.

1. Their planes keep falling out of the air.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
The MiG-29 in flight. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin L. Bishop

An Su-24M tactical bomber and a Tu-95 strategic bomber crashed in separate incidents in July, two MiG-29 fighters crashed in June as did an Su-34 strike fighter. In total, these crashes cost the lives of four Russian service members and resulted in the groundings of the Tu-95 and MiG-29 fleets.

Meanwhile, the replacements for the aging fighters keep getting cut back due to funding problems, a theme which will recur in this list. Also, Russia claims that it is building new Tu-160 bombers and developing a brand new bomber, but industry experts think it is frankly not feasible for the Russians to find the required high-skill workers or money to do everything at once.

2. Their only aircraft carrier needs a tug boat escort and can’t launch fully-armed planes.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: Mil.ru

The Russians have one carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. The ship was launched in 1985 and began active duty in the fleet in 1991. In 24 years, it has served only four frontline deployments. It requires tugs to accompany it in deepwater in case it breaks down at sea and needs to be refueled every 45 days. The crew has trouble completing the refueling missions however, sometimes spilling the fuel across the ocean instead.

Meanwhile, even when everything is working to plan, the Kuznetsov has troubles. It isn’t a proper carrier and launches aircraft from a bow ramp rather than catapults, limiting her jets to low takeoff weights with limited fuel and ammunition. Plumbing problems in the ship limit the number of functioning latrines to 25 for her full crew of nearly 2,000. In 2011, U.S. Navy ships trailed the Kuznetsov to her home port to rescue the Russians if the ship sank.

Russia is planning a larger, more robust new carrier but it would still rely on ramps for two of its four launching positions, would require refueling every 120 days, wouldn’t have many ports it could be parked in, and may be too expensive and complex for Russia to actually complete.

3. They rely on conscripts and soldiers forced into contracts.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Photo: US Air Force

Russian Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, then-head of the National Center for Defense, bragged in 2014 that “two army brigades, 12 special forces units and five battalions of airborne troops and marines were manned entirely with contract servicemen,” according to RT, a Russian media outlet. But, that’s the first time the Russian military has had more contract soldiers than volunteers in its history. And, first-term contract soldiers aren’t “volunteers” the way they are in America.

In America, all service members are volunteers who don’t have to serve in the military unless a draft is ordered. In Russia, males between the age of 18-27 must serve in the military, either one year as a conscript or two as a “volunteer.”

4. Even their domestic displays of power keep going wrong.

In July, a Russian Navy Day celebration saw a missile frigate fire at a target only for the missile to fail, spinning through the air and breaking apart meters from the ship, a display of an anti-aircraft missile failed in April when the missile fell back to the ground, and one of Russia’s premier new tanks broke down during a rehearsal for the country’s Victory Day Parade.

Tragically, a helicopter also crashed during an air show Aug. 3, killing one of the pilots.

5. Their funding situation is bad and getting worse.

While Russia continues to spend heavily on defense, the upgrades will eventually be limited by what the rest of the economy can bear.

Russia, crippled by sanctions, falling oil prices, and a weakening currency, has been forced to cut their purchase plans for fighters and new tanks. Some Russian contractors have attempted to sell the nation new helicopter carriers after a deal with France fell through, but there are reports that Russia can’t afford new ships anyway. Meanwhile, Russia’s largest economic ally, China, has questionable loyalty to Moscow.

NOW: See how Russia’s all-female paratrooper battalion trains for war

OR: This video shows the awesome capabilities of Russia’s elite Spetsnaz troops

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Here are the steps to vote while deployed overseas

Being so far from home is a challenge for deployed service members in lots of ways. Voting is one of those challenges. Naturally, voting is an essential part of American citizenship, and it’s important for the military to make their voices heard when it comes to choosing the next commander-in-chief, and being a few thousand miles from their voting districts is no excuse for not doing so.


The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
People with AT-4s should always have a say. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

No matter where in the world service members are stationed, under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) military members have the right to register and vote using an absentee ballot. Most states require service members to be registered to vote before requesting an absentee ballot, but both can be done in conjunction by filling out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).

When filling out the FPCA form, all changes in legal residency need to be updated. Service members should be careful and not confuse their record home address when they entered the military from their state of legal residence. State of legal residence should be the state listed in service members Leave and Earnings Statement or identified by the state which withholds their taxes.

To request a ballot, service members should go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website and select their state of legal residence. Once prompted, voters can register to vote, request a ballot, update their information, and check the status of a voted ballot.

As an emergency back-up service, members can fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to ensure that they meet election deadlines.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

It is vital to make sure that service members are aware of the federal election deadlines for their state. Ensure that mail is sent early enough to account for delivery times. The Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) provides estimated delivery times by location.

All services have voting assistance programs dedicated to ensuring that each service members vote matters. Check with your unit Service Voting Action Officer for more information or issues related to the UOCAVA act.

Go to the FVAP website to verify the requirements, deadlines, and information unique to each state. FVAP is a program vested in ensuring that service members have access to the tools and information they need to vote anywhere.

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Wounded female warrior accepts ESPY in the spirit of Pat Tillman

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Danielle Green on stage at the ESPY Awards. (AP photo)


Danielle Green learned how to be tough while growing up on the mean streets of Chicago. That outlook served her well during her intercollegiate basketball career at Notre Dame in the late ’90s where she fought to win and racked up enough points to become the Fighting Irish’s sixteenth leading scorer of all time.

But it wasn’t until Green enlisted in the Army that she was made to discover just how tough she really is. She deployed to Iraq in January of 2004 with the 571st Military Police Company.  Shortly into that tour she was hit by shrapnel from an RPG that exploded next to her while she was pulling sentry duty on a rooftop in Baghdad.

“That pain was like nothing else,” Green said. “It was so painful I wanted to die.”

Green lost her left arm halfway between the wrist and elbow. After extensive surgeries and rehab, she had to face the reality that her military career was over. “I gave all I could give,” she said. “I realized I wanted to serve in a different way.”

Watch:

 

She attended graduate school and studied to be a school counselor, and at some point between getting her degree and her job search a friend suggested she focus on helping service members with the issues that surround the move back to civilian life. “That’s my purpose,” she said. “That’s my mission.”

Green now works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a readjustment therapist at the Veterans Center in South Bend, Indiana. “It’s how I can continue serving my fellow veterans,” she said.

Last week Green was honored with the 2015 Pat Tillman Award for Service at ESPN’s Espy Awards held in Los Angeles.

Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation and Pat Tillman’s widow, said Green was selected for the award because of her resilience and personal efforts that have made her “a voice and advocate for this generation of veterans.”

“Not all of us are Pat Tillman,” Green said during her acceptance remarks in front of a packed house of sports greats and celebrities broadcast to a national TV audience. “But we can all find ways to serve our community. We can all find ways to support the people around us. We can all find a purpose on this earth larger than ourselves.”

Now: For triple-amputee war veteran Bryan Anderson, walking the dog is exhilarating

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Kayla Williams (Still) Loves Her Rifle More Than You

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles of incredible female veterans that WATM will be presenting in concert with Women’s History Month.


The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Kayla Williams (right) with unidentified female soldier next to an up-armored Humvee during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The title of Kayla Williams’ 2005 book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army uses an old marching cadence to seemingly thumb its nose at what some might consider the more antiquated ways of US Army culture, especially when it comes to women. Fifteen percent of the Army is female, but Williams would come to learn during the Iraq War, the only women in the Army the public knew well were Lynndie England and Jessica Lynch… and those were not the people Williams wanted representing women in the Army.

“When I came home from Iraq, I realized people can be ignorant about the role of women in combat,” Williams told me. “Some people asked if I was allowed to carry a gun, some asked if I was in the infantry, even though women still can’t be. I was acutely aware women’s roles were largely unknown to the general public and I wanted to give a nuanced perspective of what women experience in the current conflicts.”

Williams was an Army signals intelligence linguist, specializing in intercept and direction finding. She enlisted in 2000 because she wanted to learn another language. The language the Army chose would dramatically affect the way she looked at her career.

“I got Arabic as opposed to Korean or Chinese,” Williams says. “I was at the Defense Language Institute on 9/11 and it was clear to us then the world had changed.” In 2003, Williams was part of the initial invasion of Iraq with the 101st Airborne Air Assault. Though her primary function was signals intelligence, she found there was a huge need for Arabic translation on the ground. Beyond any of her expectations she found herself doing foot patrols with the Army infantry.

“This was the very early days of the war,” she recalls. “The Iraqi people were still hopeful they would see a better future in the aftermath of the down fall of the regime. I was making a difference in the lives of those Iraqis and in the lives of my fellow soldiers.”

Williams’ work took her all over the American area of responsibility in Iraq.  She worked her way North to Mosul, Sinjar, and Tal Afar, and spent a great deal of time on the Syrian border.

“In my experience,” she says, “everyone has to prove themselves in a new unit, male or female. Everyone is going to test you. It’s inevitable. In the combat arms units I was attached to, how they treated me depended on how well I did my job. When they saw me translating for them, they could see I could help them. And when commanders treated me with respect, the troops would too.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Williams getting promoted in Iraq.

Though far from a support structure, Kayla Williams remembers those first days in the Northern areas of Iraq as relatively peaceful.  By the time her deployment was over, however, the situation had completely changed. They had electricity and running water in their camp, but now the insurgency had taken root.

“When we drove back to Kuwait at the end of my tour we had to do it at night in a blackout drive.”

Despite personal feelings about the war, Williams approached every mission to the best of her ability. She knew her skill as a translator could be the most necessary help to the war, and thus the troops. She thought at the time though we went to war for the wrong reasons, maybe we still did a good thing. Now, with a Master’s degree in International Affairs with a focus on the Middle East from American University, her observations are more grounded in fact than feeling.

“Maybe in a generation or two the Middle East will be better off,” she says. “But who knows? Who predicted the rise of ISIS? I’m not sure that anyone can predict the long term. It’s the polite way of saying I hope we didn’t fuck it up too bad.”

Williams sees the roles of women in the Armed Forces as a necessary one, especially given cultural sensitivities in predominantly Muslim countries. To her, being able to assign women to combat units will give field commanders better command and control capability without sacrificing readiness or discipline.

“The decision to lift the exclusion policy for women in combat was a validation and vindication of the more than 280,000 women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Williams says. “The former Secretary of Defense made the decision with the unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now commanders will be able to train like they fight and function better as a military by putting the right people in the right jobs.”

Williams’ second book, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War is the story of her return home, her husband’s struggle with traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an IED attack during his own time in Iraq, and how they struggled to overcome; it was published in 2014.

Now: Female Vet Says ‘They’ll Have To Pry My Uniform Out Of My Hands’

And: This Female Vet Is One Of History’s Most Decorated Combat Photographers

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‘Man’s best friend’ saves another veteran

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense


Candace Colburn faced some challenges in her career. As an African-American female, the 28 year old Airman is a minority among minorities. These are not her challenges, though, they’re just her demographics. Staff Sergeant Colburn, stationed at the 802d Security Forces Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, is the model of today’s USAF Security Forces troops.

“My personal experience has been awesome,” Colburn says. “I know people always have their points of view – some people might say because I’m a minority people may treat me differently. Or because I’m a female, I might get lighter treatment. But I’ve been afforded my opportunities because of my abilities.”

She owns her challenges as much as she owns the rest of her career. After I interviewed her, Candace sent me a fact sheet about herself. The struggles she faced are listed before her successes.

“I’m a cop – a K9 handler, but I want to go to OSI (Office of Special Investigations) to be an investigator,” she says. “I got picked up to be on the base Tactical Response Team. I went SWAT School, Basic Combat Medic School, I trained Emirati forces in UAE… I’ve had so many opportunities because of the military. No one ever treated me different because I was a girl – in fact, my kennel master took it upon himself to research if women were allowed in air assault school because he thinks I should go.”

Colburn and the 802d recently sat with former Air Force combat photographer Stacy Pearsall as a part of Pearsall’s Veterans Portrait Project (VPP). The VPP honors veterans from every conflict, hearing their stories, thanking them for their service and preserving their image for generations to come. In 2008, the first year of the VPP, she photographed over 100 veterans. Since then, she’s made portraits of nearly 4000 more. See more of the VPP here.

Growing up in Newark, Delaware, Colburn always wanted to be a Marine, but her father wasn’t having it. Her Dad told her if she were to enlist, he wanted her in the Air Force. If that was the way, so be it, but she wanted to be a dog handler – which requires three years time in service. At age 22, she joined the as Security Forces and was soon deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, where her challenges really started.

“We were mortared everyday,” Colburn recalls. “But I’m an adrenaline junkie. I loved my time there. I even volunteered for the Balad Expeditionary Strike Force, a tactical response team, so I was both in and outside the wire all the time. I always challenge myself. My Iraq deployment was my favorite, because UAE and Qatar were too easy… it was too easy to become complacent.”

Her experience would leave a lasting impression. Like many returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the signs and symptoms were most visible when she returned to her home duty station.

“I don’t know how I fell into alcoholism,” she says. “My life started changing after Iraq and I started drinking. Mental Health told me I had signs of post-traumatic stress but I soon PCSed and fell out of following up on treatment. When I admitted I had a problem, I was scared I would lose my Security Forces job.”

Rather than lose her job for her issues, the Air Force worked with her, sending her to rehab and then through the Air Force Drug Demand Reduction Program (ADAPT) program. Colburn won’t take all the credit, though.

“It was my dogs who helped me recover,” Colburn says. “I don’t know why I love dogs, they comfort me… they got me through a lot in life. I graduated ADAPT early because I made so much progress because of my dogs.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

After three and a half years as a dog handler, three deployments, and three special assignments with the Secret Service supporting the President and Vice-President, Staff Sergeant Candace Colburn lives on a farm with her own dogs, Sonny and Gunner, near San Antonio. She commutes to her unit at Lackland, Texas to work with Kormi, her partner.

“In my experience,” Colburn says, “alcoholism is not something to handle on your own. I’m a very strong person but it took an outsider to see that I wasn’t okay. You have to be strong enough to say ‘I need help’.”

For more information about the Veterans Portrait Project or to donate to keep preserving the images of American veterans visit: http://bit.ly/1unnLV4

NOW: A dog’s love can cure anything – including PTSD

OR: 11 steps to turning a puppy into a badass military working dog

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Here was the major problem with the South Vietnamese army

“Be glad to trade you some ARVN rifles. Ain’t never been fired and only dropped once.” — Cowboy from Full Metal Jacket.

Many audience members may think this famous line served no other purpose other than showing a few Marine characters’ attempts to negotiate the cheapest deal possible with a Vietnamese prostitute and her pimp.


In fact, the remark is full of meaning when it comes to the relationship that American infantrymen shared with their South Vietnamese counterparts during the war.

Cowboy’s quote in the film was meant to surface the idea that the ARVN — or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam  — didn’t do their part during combat operations.

For many Vietnam vets, that statement couldn’t have been more truthful.

Related: This video shows the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong tunnel systems

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
U.S. troops with ARVN soldiers on the frontline of Vietnam.

When the U.S. entered the war in the mid-1960s, the goal was to aid South Vietnam with American personnel and equipment to help defeat the communist North.

Many of those South Vietnamese troops serving during the era were members of a militia known as the “Popular Force” or “PF.” Their mission was to protect the local villages from deadly Viet Cong attacks. Many Vietnam vets believed the PF fed intel to the enemy instead of engaging them.

Meanwhile, ARVN troops would patrol alongside selected Marine and Army units taking the fight to the enemy.

“A few of the ARVN units would stay and slug it out,” Vietnam veteran James “Doc” Kirkpatrick states. “But for the most part, they didn’t do shit.”

James “Doc” Kirkpatrick served in Vietnam at Fire Base Stallion (Hill 310) with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 7th Marines as a Hospital Corpsman from 1968 – 1969. Kirkpatrick had more negative run-ins with South Vietnamese troops than he’d like to remember.

While the NVA would consistently pound it out against American forces, the ARVN would commonly hesitate during the skirmishes and egress out of the area before the engagement was over — leaving their rifles behind.

This action severely upset American forces, diluting their respect for their counterparts.

Also Read: These were the terrifying dangers of being a ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A PF soldier patrol with a Marine unit during the Vietnam War.

Many Vietnam veterans were unclear about what the South Vietnamese’s actual goal was during the war, especially when experiencing first-hand the south’s lack of effort when compared to the North’s passion to fight.

Doc Kirkpatrick believes the South just didn’t care enough — or wasn’t well enough equipped — to fight the enemy. So the Americans were left shouldering the burden.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military identifies 2 sets of Korean War remains from July

The US has successfully identified two American service members from among the remains North Korea returned in July 2018 as part of the agreement signed by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

“We will notify the family first,” John Byrd, the director of scientific analysis at the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency explained to Reuters Sept. 10, 2018. The two US service members, who were identified through DNA analysis and historical documents, are believed to have died in late 1950 in an area near the Chongchon River, where US forces suffered heavy losses during the Korean War.


The fight where the two service members likely died was characterized as a “huge battle,” as an estimated 1,700 missing US troops are suspected to have fallen there.

“One of the reasons that we were able to identify them so quickly [was because their remains] were more complete than usual so it gave us more to look at and narrow down the identity with,” Byrd told The Wall Street Journal. One of the deceased is presumed to be African-American.

The condition of some of the remains is decidedly better than that of others.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

The honor guard assigned to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command move a flag-draped case from a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)

Researchers and analysts at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii have so far sampled 23 of the 55 sets of remains returned in late July 2018. The US military estimates that more than 7,000 US troops who lost their lives during the Korean War remain unaccounted for. The US is still in talks with North Korea on the return of additional sets of remains of US war dead.

A United Nations Command delegation led by US Air Force Major General Michael Minihan met with North Korean officials at Panmunjom Friday to discuss “military-to-military efforts to support any potential future return of remains,” AFP reported Sept. 11, 2018.

The return of the remains is probably the most visible and concrete achievements of the president’s summit with the North Korean leader, as denuclearization talks appear to be at an impasse. Despite setbacks in the nuclear negotiations, North Korea has maintained its moratorium on weapons testing, has toned down its rhetoric, and attempted to downplay the threatening nature of its arsenal, as was evidenced by its decision not to feature ICBMs in its most recent military parade.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the combat drone Japan has been building in secret

Unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs, are seen as a key part of the future of military aviation. A number of countries have openly been developing these vehicles, including the United States, Russia, and France.


But as We Are The Mighty has learned, Japan also was developing a UCAV, but didn’t tell anyone.

During a recent Air Force conference near Washington, We Are The Mighty witnessed a video at the Kawasaki booth that revealed a brief clip of the company’s research and development efforts into a UCAV. The UCAV appeared to be similar to the Boeing X-45 and Northrop Grumman X-47 test vehicles.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
This scene from a video shows Kawasaki’s UCAV prototype in flight. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

An initial request for information was declined by a company representative, who told us that the Japanese government did not wish to discuss the program. The next day, another representative claimed to have no knowledge of the program.

Only after a third Kawasaki representative, Takumi Kobayashi, was forwarded a cell phone photo of the UCAV’s cameo did he state that it was “an experimental aircraft tested about 10 years ago” and that “it was a research project funded by Japan MOD.” Kobayashi later stated in an e-mail that the described the UCAV as “a project in 2008.” Japan does maintain a Self-Defense Force and established a Ministry of Defense in 2007.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
David Deptula during his service with the United States Air Force. (USAF photo)

When WATM asked Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who was the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance who now serves as the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, about whether he had any indication Japan was developing a UCAV, he had a one-word answer: “No.”

This points to Japan’s UCAV program being carried out behind a veil of secrecy comparable to those used with American black projects like the F-117 Nighthawk.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A second image of the Kawasaki UCAV’s appearance in a video shown at the 2017 AirSpaceCyber expo held in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The likely reason for this veil of secrecy and the reluctance to discuss the Kawasaki UCAV lies in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. This provision states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” and that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH-181) underway in the Pacific Ocean as U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopters hover nearby. Japan calls this carrier-like vessel (Photo: U.S. Navy)

This provision explains why Japan considers its light carriers of the Hyuga and Izumo classes to be “helicopter destroyers.” The Italian carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi, displacing about 10,500 tons as compared to the roughly 19,000-ton displacement of the Hyuga, operated AV-8B+ Harriers during the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D, a previous name for the MQ-25a) launches from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2013. Kawasaki’s UCAV appears similar to the X-47. (US Navy Photo)

How does Kawasaki’s UCAV fall within those restrictions? Its apparent similarity to the X-45 and X-47 opens the possibility that it may not. Deptula told WATM in a phone interview that UCAVs presently fit “much more in an offensive context as opposed to air defense” given the current state of technology.

According to specs available at GlobalSecurity.org, the baseline X-47 did not have a payload capability, but the larger X-47B had two weapons bays and was able to carry 4,500 pounds of ordnance. A planned X-47C was to increase the payload to 10,000 pounds.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
An X-47B demonstrator with folded wings on the aircraft elevator of USS George H.W. Bush. (US Navy photo by MC2 Timothy Walter)

Inquiries from WATM to Japan’s Ministry of Defense received no responses, but the Japanese embassy in the United States did respond to an inquiry, offering to have a defense attaché contact Kawasaki for more information. When asked about any plans the Japanese Self-Defense Force had involving UCAVs, they stated, “The Japanese self-defense force is currently not planning on acquiring or deploying UCAVs.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The F-35 can make China’s carrier killer missiles ‘irrelevant’

As China builds out its network of militarized islands in the South China Sea and expands a sphere of influence designed to keep the U.S. out, the U.S. Marine Corps is putting the finishing touches on a weapon to burst its bubble: the F-35B.


China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has turned out a massive number of so-called carrier-killer missiles, ballistic missiles that can target ships up to about 800 miles out at sea, even testing them against models of U.S. aircraft carriers.

With the U.S. Navy’s longest-range platform — aircraft carriers — maxing out at a range of about 550 miles, this means China could theoretically use the missiles to shut the U.S. out of a battle for the South China Sea.

But theories and lines drawn on paper won’t beat the U.S. military in a battle.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, conducts a vertical landing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 15 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carlos Jimenez)

In pursuing the strategy of anti-access/area denial, known as A2AD, China assumes that the U.S. must launch aircraft from bases or aircraft carriers. But the F-35B, the U.S. Marine Corps’ variant of the most expensive weapons system of all time, doesn’t work that way.

“You can fly the F-35B literally anywhere,” David Berke, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, told Business Insider. “If your traditional places of operation are unavailable” — perhaps because Chinese missile fire cratered them, a likely tactic in a war — “the F-35B can be there.”

By taking off in just a few hundred feet or so and landing from a vertical drop, the F-35B frees up the Marine Corps from worrying about large, obvious bases.

If China targets carriers, the U.S. won’t use carriers

Marines have been training for this operating concept in the Pacific as well. In mid-January 2018, they landed an F-35B on a sloped platform, showing that future pilots could land their plane almost anywhere.

Throughout last year, F-35B crews trained on tactics like “hot loading” and “hot refueling,” which aims to turn reloading the F-35 — usually an affair that takes time, space, and a massive air base to support — into the equivalent of a NASCAR pit stop.

For the F-35B, the ground crew runs up to the jet while it’s still running to pump more fuel and load more bombs. In just a few minutes, atop a dirt floor with minimal support infrastructure in an improvised location China’s missiles won’t know to hit, the F-35B can take off again.

Also Read: How the F-35B can defend ships from cruise missiles

“Find me 600 feet of flat surface anywhere in the world, and I can land there,” said Berke, who compared the F-35B to the A-10 “Warthog,” the U.S. Air Force flying gun famous for its ability to land on dirt roads and fight on despite getting roughed up.

So while China has focused on pushing back the U.S.’s aircraft-carrier-bound fleets of F-18s, the Marines have cooked up a new strategy involving smaller carriers, like the USS Wasp, and heavy-lifting, quick-flying helicopters for support. Using the V-22 Osprey’s and the CH-53’s extreme-lifting capability, Marines could set up makeshift bases inside China’s supposed A2AD bubble.

From there, the stealth F-35Bs could take out the threats keeping the carriers at bay, poking holes in that bubble.

“If you’re looking at warfare two-dimensionally, you’re looking at it wrong,” Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander, said of the A2AD concept. “You don’t beat me in a boxing match ’cause your arms are longer than mine.”

The U.S. is sending the F-35B to the Pacific ASAP

The U.S.’s faith in the F-35B’s ability to shake up the balance of power in the Pacific is evident in recent deployments. The first outside the U.S. was in Japan.

Now, amid rising tensions with North Korea, an F-35B-capable aircraft carrier will station itself in Japan.

“You’re about to put for the first time ever fifth-generation fighters on a ship at sea and put it into a highly contested area that is fraught with geopolitical risk and controversy and tensions,” Berke said.

“The implications of a fifth-generation airplane being in [the Pacific] is impossible to overstate,” he added. “They’re going to provide capability that nobody knows exists yet.”

Articles

14 reasons Chuck Yeager may be the greatest military pilot of all time

Air Force legend Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager turned 93 this year, but don’t let that milestone fool you into believing that he’s too old to be tech-savvy. A couple of years ago he started to tweet about his exploits during his long flying career, which spanned more than sixty years.  Here’s an example:


 

Reading General Yeager’s tweets is like looking back at his life, and what an amazing life it’s been. Here are a few reasons why the private who rose to become a general just might be the greatest military pilot ever.

1. He enlisted to be a mechanic. Within two years, he was a pilot.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
In September 1941, 18-year-old Yeager enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an an aircraft mechanic. His eyesight and natural flying ability earned him a Flight Officer (Warrant Officer equivalent) slot at Luke Field, Arizona. By November 1943, he was in England flying P-51 Mustangs against the Nazi Luftwaffe.

2. After being shot down, he aided the French Resistance.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Yeager was shot down over France in March 1944 on his eighth air mission. He taught the Maquis (as the French Resistance was called) to make homemade bombs, a skill he learned from his dad. Yeager escaped to Spain through the Pyrenees with their help. He also helped another airman, who lost a leg, escape with him.

 

3. He fought to go back into air combat and won.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
During WWII, pilots who were helped by resistance groups during evasion couldn’t return to air combat in the same theater. The reason was that if they pilot were downed and captured, he could reveal information about the resistance. Since the Allies were already in France and the Maquis were openly fighting against the Nazis, Yeager argued there was little the he could reveal that the Nazis would learn. Eisenhower agreed and returned him to flying status.

 

4. Yeager downed five enemies in a single mission. Two of those without firing a shot.

On October 12, 1944, he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt BF-109 when the enemy pilot panicked, broke to starboard and collided with his wingman. Both pilots bailed out.

5. He scored one of the first kills against jet aircraft.

The German ME-262 was the second jet-powered fighter aircraft. It didn’t appear in the war until mid-1944, too late to make a difference in air superiority. It was still able to take down more than 500 allied fighters, however. Not before Yeager took down two ME-262s. He finished WWII with at least 11 kills and the rank of captain.

 

6. He became a test pilot after the war.

When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, Yeager stayed in and became a test pilot at what would become Edwards Air Force Base. He was one of the first U.S. pilots to fly a captured MiG-15 after its North Korean pilot defected to the South.

7. Yeager broke the sound barrier with two broken ribs

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Capt. Charles E. Yeager (shown standing next to the Air Force’s Bell-built X-1 supersonic research aircraft) became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound in level flight on October 14, 1947.

This is one of Yeager’s highest achievements. After civilian pilot “Slick” Goodin demanded $150,000 to do it, Yeager broke the sound barrier in an X-1 rocket-powered plane. The night before this flight, he fell off a horse and broke two ribs. Worried the injury would get him booted from the mission, he had a civilian doctor tape him up. The injury hurt so much he couldn’t close the X-1’s hatch. His fellow pilot Jack Ridley made a device with a broom handle that allowed Yeager to operate it. His plane was named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife.

 

8. He rained on the Navy’s parade.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Chuck Yeager in the cockpit of an NF-104, December 4, 1963. (U.S. Air Force photo)

After Scott Crossfield flew at twice the speed of sound in a U.S. Navy program, he was to be dubbed “the fastest man alive” during a celebration for the 50th anniversary of flight. Yeager and Ridley launcher what they called “Operation NACA Weep,” a personal effort to beat Crossfield’s speed. They did it in time to spoil the celebration.

9. He was cool under pressure.

On December 12, 1953, Yeager reach Mach 2.44 in a Bell X-1A. He lost control of the aircraft at 80,000 feet, unable to control the aircraft’s pitch, yawn, or roll. He dropped 51,000 feet in 51 seconds before regaining control and landing the plane without any further incident.

 

10. He trained astronauts and test pilots.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
Yeager was the first commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, producing astronauts and test pilots for the Air Force. Since Yeager only had a high school education, he could not be an astronaut, but he still trained to operate NASA vehicles and equipment.

11. He was the first pilot to eject in full compression gear and the story is epic.

He was flying a Lockheed NF-104 Starfighter, which is basically an F-104 attached to a rocket that would lift the plane to 140,000 feet. The pilots wore pressure suits like astronauts, training in weightlessness to work the thrusters used in space vehicles at the time. One morning, Yeager topped 104,000 feet but the air was still too thick to work the thrusters while Yeager’s 104 was still pitched up. He fell into a flat spin and started dropping back to Earth. He fell at 9,000 feet per minute in a spin. He deployed the craft’s chute to pitch the plane back down. Once he jettisoned the chute, the plane pitched back up. Since he couldn’t restart the engines and had no power, he ejected from the plane at 8,000 feet. His suit was covered in propellant and caught fire. The fire spread to the oxygen in his suit and turned the inside of his helmet into an inferno. His finger was broken, he was covered in burns, and he almost lost his left eye… but he still walked away from the crash.

 

12. He flew combat missions in the Vietnam War.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense
In 1966, Yeager was a full-bird colonel in command of the 405th Fighter Wing in the Philippines. He flew 414 hours of combat time over Vietnam in 127 missions while training bomber pilots. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1969.

13. After retiring, he continued to fly as a consultant for the Air Force.

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Yeager retired from the Air Force in 1975, and continued to work for the Air Force until 1995. President Reagan appointed him to the Rogers Commission, the body that investigated the 1986 Challenger Shuttle disaster. He continued to break light aircraft speed and endurance records. Two years after his retiring from flight, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier by doing it again in an F-15D named Glamorous Glennis III.

 

BONUS: He made a cameo appearance in “The Right Stuff.”

The Air Force’s search to find a new ground attack plane is getting intense

Look for “Fred,” a bartender at Pancho’s Place, in the 1983 film “The Right Stuff.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the MLK Memorial, the Mall’s newest monument

Adjacent to the FDR Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial sits on a four-acre site along the National Mall’s Tidal Basin. It shares a direct site line between the Lincoln and the Jefferson memorials. 

The MLK memorial is one of the few at the Mall to have an official address. Its address is 1964 Independence Avenue, SW, in honor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. He became an iconic figure because of his use of nonviolent resistance and powerfully moving speeches. King led the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech on the Lincoln Memorial’s steps. The bas-relief statue is intended to give the impression that King overlooks the Tidal Basin toward the horizon. Cherry trees that are at the site bloom every year during the anniversary of King’s death. 

The memorial opened in 2011 after more than twenty years of planning, fundraising, and construction, making it the newest at the National Mall. It’s the fourth in Washington, DC, to honor a non-president and the first to honor a man of color. The site is designed to be a lasting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy. This isn’t the first memorial to a person of color in Washington DC, but it is the first memorial of a person of color o or near the National Mall. Dr. King’s memorial is the fourth non-president to be memorialized in such a way. 

The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope and emerges from two large boulders, the “Mountains of Despair.” Text from the “I Have a Dream” speech is cut into the rock of the Stone. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 450-foot long inscription wall includes excerpts from King’s sermons and speeches. On the crescent-shaped wall, fourteen of King’s quotes are inscribed, the earliest from the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama and the last from his final sermon in 1968, delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, just four days before his assassination. 

(National Parks Service)

A ceremony dedicating the memorial was initially scheduled for Sunday, August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, but it was postponed until October 16, the 16th anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March. 

The memorial is the result of the early efforts of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. King was a member of that fraternity while he attended Boston University to complete his doctorate. King was heavily involved with the fraternity after he graduated. He delivered the keynote speech at the fraternity’s 50th-anniversary banquet in 1956. In 1968 after King’s assassination, Alpha Phi Alpha proposed erecting a memorial for Dr. King in Washington, DC. 

In 1996, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Interior to allow Alpha Phi Alpha to create a memorial on the Department of Interior Lands in the District of Columbia. Congress gave the fraternity until 2003 to raise $100 million and break ground. Two years later, the Washington DC Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc was established to manage the memorial’s fundraising efforts and design. 

In 1999, the US Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission approved the memorial’s site location. 

ROMA Design Group was selected out of 900 candidates from 52 countries to create the memorial. On December 4, 2000, a marble and bronze plaque was laid by Alpha Phi Alpha members to dedicate the site. Shortly after, a full-time fundraising team began the promotional campaign for the memorial. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 13, 3006, in West Potomac Park.

By August 2008, leaders at the foundation estimated it would take an additional 20 months to construct the memorial with a final cost of $120 million. By December of that year, the foundation had raised about $108 million, including contributions from celebrities, large corporations, and other nonprofits, as well as the NBA, NFL, and filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. US Congress provided $10 million in matching funds as well.

Construction began in December 2009 and was completed two years later. As with all other memorials at the National Mall, the MLK memorial is free and open to the public. 

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