The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II - We Are The Mighty
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The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

During World War II, the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the 2nd Polish Corps had an unusual soldier among its ranks, a 440-pound Syrianbear named Wojtek.


Wojtek first came to the company as a cub, but over the course of the war he matured and was given the rank of corporal in the Polish army.

Here’s Wojtek’s amazing story below.

After being released from a Siberian labor camp during the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1942, the 22nd Polish Supply Company began a long trek south toward Persia. Along the way, they bought an orphaned bear.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

“He was like a child, like a small dog. He was given milk from a bottle, like a baby. So therefore he felt that these soldiers are nearly his parents, and therefore he trusted in us and was very friendly,” Wojciech Narebski, former Polish soldier, told the BBC.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

As he grew, his diet changed, but he remained friendly.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The New York Public Library

The bear became fond of drinking beer, as well as smoking, and even eating cigarettes. “For him one bottle was nothing, he was weighing 440 pounds. He didn’t get drunk,” Narebski said.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

The bear became a major morale boost to the troops.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museum

The company was fond of boxing and wrestling with Wojtek, as seen in this footage.

via GIPHY

While he was still small enough, Wojtek would hang out of the passenger side of trucks, until he eventually grew so large he had to be transported in the back of cargo vehicles.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

By 1943, the Polish company had reached Egypt and was preparing to reenter the war zone in Italy. The army had strict rules denying pets passage to war zones, so the company did the only thing they could — they made Wojtek an official soldier.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

Because of his fearsome size and strength, Wojtek carried crates of munitions much easier than his human comrades. He inspired the emblem for his company.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museum

After the war, Wojtek spent his days in the Edinburgh zoo, where he was a beloved attraction. Wojtek died in 1963.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Skabiczewski

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This famous guerrilla leader captured the general hunting him

Confederate Col. John S. Mosby was one of the world’s greatest guerrilla leaders, deploying cavalry against Union forces in lightning raids. In one impressive raid, he even managed to kidnap the Union general who commanded forces sent to stop him.


The engagement took place in March 1863, when Mosby was new to his command. He and his men were interrogating prisoners when a Union deserter laid out the location of the brigade’s picket lines and other defenses.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
John S. Mosby and his Rangers. (Photo: Public Domain)

As it turned out, the Union 2nd Vermont Brigade had moved camps, but its general decided to stay at a local doctor’s house about three miles from his closest regiment. It was the 2nd Vermont that had so often sent its cavalry forces to try and catch Mosby — and Mosby saw an opportunity to end the harassment.

Mosby created a daring plan to slip through the nearby picket lines and kidnap both Brig. Gen. Edwin Stoughton, the commander of 2nd Brigade, as well as the colonel who commanded the brigade’s cavalry regiment.

The Confederate forces launched their operation on the night of March 8. Mosby and 29 others followed the Union deserter through the picket lines, then cut carefully though the forest toward Fairfax Courthouse. They arrived without incident and went into action.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Union Brig. Gen. Edwin Stoughton with other Union soldiers. (Photo: Matthew Brady, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

They cut the telegraph wires and captured the operator as well as most of the guards in the area. They attempted to grab the cavalry colonel but learned that he had been called to Washington.

But the general was there — and he was woken by Mosby spanking his back.

“There was no time for ceremony, so I drew up the bedclothes, pulled up the general’s shirt, and gave him a spank on his bare back, and told him to get up,” Mosby later wrote.

As the general tried to understand what was going on, Mosby asked him, “Do you know Mosby, General?”

The General replied, “Yes! Have you got the rascal?”

“No,” said Mosby. “He’s got you!”

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Union Brig. Gen. Edwin Stoughton was captured by Confederate forces before his commission could be voted on by the Senate. (Photo: Matthew Brady, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Stoughton was captured with three other officers, a number of enlisted men, and at least 55 horses. When President Abraham Lincoln was told of the event, he supposedly said that he could always make a new brigadier general in five minutes, “but those horses cost $125 apiece!

Surprisingly, both the men of the 2nd Brigade and officers in nearby units had predicted that Stoughton would be captured if he didn’t move his headquarters, and Stoughton himself expressed concern about the thin manning of the picket lines.

The deserter stayed with Mosby’s Rangers for a year before he fell in combat.

Stoughton’s fall was, for obvious reasons, very quick. His capture was an embarrassment for the nation and his rank had not yet been confirmed by the Senate as a brigadier general. Lincoln withdrew his nomination. When Stoughton was traded back to Union lines two months later, he found that he had no military rank or position.

He left the military and died within a few years.

Mosby would go on to become a legend and survive the war. He later supported the Republican Party and was made consul to Hong Kong by President Ulysses S. Grant.

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It’s been 100 years since one of the biggest game-changers in military aviation history

On November 5, 1915, a plane was launched from a ship by catapult for the first time in history.


And, despite the prevailing ideas at the time that naval aviation was an outlandish endeavor, the flight was a success.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Curtiss AB-2 (C-2) Aircraft being catapulted from USS North Carolina (ACR-12) on 5 November 1915. (Image: Naval History Heritage Command)

The pilot for that historic flight was Henry C. Mustin, a naval aviator who helped to found the Naval Aeronautic Station at Pensacola, Florida in 1913. Mustin, using an early catapult system, managed to launch himself successfully from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina at the naval station.

By today’s aircraft carrier standards, the USS North Carolina was a tiny ship. Of course, it was not built as a carrier, but the size differential between the North Carolina and today’s carriers still shows how far things have come in the last 100 years. The North Carolina had a total displacement of 14,500 tons, compared to the 100,020 tons of a present-day USS Nimitz-class supercarrier.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin (Image: Naval History Heritage Command)

Unlike modern carriers, which have built-in flight decks and launch systems, the launching platform built atop the North Carolina was an ad hoc endeavor. At the time, launching a plane from a ship while underway had not been attempted. The questions of whether the plane would fly, or whether it would be possible to safely abort takeoff, were still big unknowns.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
The first catapult launch of an aircraft from a naval vessel, on November 5, 1915. (Image: US Navy)

After that risky start in 1915 US aircraft carrier abilities quickly advanced. By 1922, the US operated the USS Langley, an aircraft carrier that could carry 30 planes.

Today’s Nimitz supercarriers can carry upwards of 62 aircraft. Still, despite their size and capacity, the Nimitz still owes one of its major functions — the use of catapults to launch planes at high enough speeds for flight from a short runway at sea — to Mustin’s original takeoff from the USS North Carolina.

Here’s what a catapult launch looks like today:

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Source: YouTube

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Where were the US fighters on 9/11?

As had been the case since the earliest days of the Cold War, the Pentagon had air assets on alert the morning of 9/11. But for all of the time and money invested in protecting the homeland from airborne threats, none of the American fighters were able to intercept the airliners that had been hijacked by terrorists on that terrible day.


This exclusive WATM video explores the chain of events, how information was passed between commands, and how jets wound up in the wrong pieces of sky only to arrive over the WTC and Pentagon too late to prevent the attacks or effect the outcomes in any way.

Watch the video:


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4 reasons the Aardvark and Switchblade could still kick ass today

In this day and age, the F-111 Aardvark and its larger variant, the FB-111 Switchblade, are often forgotten. That shouldn’t be the case. Here are four reasons that these planes could still kick a lot of ass.


1. Speed

The F-111 was fast – with a top speed of Mach 2.5, according to GlobalSecurity.org. The FB-111 was also capable of going fast, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher. Not just at high altitudes, but also on the deck. In fact, these planes were designed to deliver a knockout punch at treetop level.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
A General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark on display at the Barksdale Global Power Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base. This plane could fly over twice the speed of sound – and deliver 35,500 pounds of bombs. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. Payload

The B-2, B-1B, and B-52 get a lot of press for their huge payloads — anywhere from 51 to 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. But the F-111 and FB-111 could each carry 36 Mk 82s. That is nothing to sneeze at. During the Vietnam War, Baugher noted that four F-111s were delivering as many bombs as 20 F-4s.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
A left side view of an F-111A dropping 24 Mark 82 low-drag bombs in-flight over a range on May 1, 1980. The aircraft was assigned to the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. (USAF photo)

3. Range

Baugher notes that the FB-111 could fly over 2,500 miles with four AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missiles and internal fuel. That is a long reach – without tying up tankers like the KC-135, KC-46, or KC-10. While the AGM-69 is no longer in service, imagine what sort of distant targets could be hit by a squadron of FB-111s carrying AGM-158 JASSMs based at Aviano Air Base in Italy.

The F-111F demonstrated this range in an operational context during Operation El Dorado Canyon, when 18 planes from the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing flew from bases in England around Spain to hit targets around Tripoli. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that the mission was about 6,400 miles — the longest fighter mission in history.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Ground crew prepares an F-111F of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing for a retaliatory air strike on Libya. (USAF photo)

4. Accuracy

The F-111 was very capable with laser-guided bombs, but the planes could also deliver unguided bombs accurately. During Desert Storm, that the F-111Es from the 20th Fighter Wing carried out attacks with conventional “dumb” bombs — and suffered no combat losses doing so.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
A U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-111F aircraft, equipped with an AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack laser target designator, banking to the left over Loch Ness (UK). (USAF photo)

In short, the Aardvark and the Switchblade had a lot of life left when they were sent to the boneyard in the 1990s. One could imagine that with upgrades to carry JDAMs, AGM-154 JSOWs, and even the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER systems, that these planes would certainly be a huge assets in today’s global hotspots.

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Sebastian Junger’s ‘Hell on Earth’ chronicles the rise of ISIS in Syria

War correspondent Sebastian Junger, most famous for his documentaries “Restrepo” and “Korengal” that followed paratroopers in the Korengal Valley, has teamed up with Nick Quested to create a new documentary with National Geographic detailing the hell that is life in ISIS-controlled territory.


“Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS” is cut together from over 1,000 hours of footage, most of it filmed inside the so-called caliphate.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
ISIS members conduct a checkpoint in their territory. The footage comes from an upcoming National Geographic documentary. (Image: YouTube/Deadline Hollywood)

This 13-minute teaser tells the story of families trying to escape, at first with smugglers and then on their own when their smuggler is caught by ISIS.

(Be warned that some of the images in the documentary are disturbing)

Previous reporting has shown how ISIS maintains control in its territory, how it makes its money, and how it recruits and deploys fighters.

None of it is good.

Torture and public executions are used to keep populations cowed, and money is raised through debilitating taxes, sex slavery, robbery, and other pursuits. And its fighters are recruited through international networks and then deployed at half pay or less, often as undertrained frontline fighters that amount to little more than human shields.

The full documentary is scheduled to air June 11.

Articles

The 7 most bizarre foreign military uniforms

Sure, each nation has its own style. But some militaries have introduced dress uniforms so surprising, they’d stop you in your tracks if you saw them in person.


1. French Foreign Legion Pioneers

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Davric

This engineering unit works like America’s sappers, clearing the way through enemy obstacles so other forces can attack behind them. In their dress uniforms, the pioneers carry ceremonial axes and wear large, leather aprons.

2. Greek Evzones

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Robin

These light infantry soldiers are a primarily ceremonial unit whose members are pulled from the standard army’s infantry, artillery, and armored corps. The uniform they wear harkens back to the klephts, anti-Ottoman insurgents who fought for Greek independence from the 1400s to 1800s.

3. India Border Security Force

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Daniel Haupstein

Formed in response to a failure by the State Armed Police to prevent incursions by Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, this young force has grown from a few battalions to over 186 battalions in its 50 years. The headdress is surprising to many visitors to the country, but it’s a common uniform item in the Indian military. Like the U.S. military’s berets, different colors and patterns of headdress indicate different units.

4. India Border Security Force, Camel Contingent

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Jared Wiltshire

India’s BSF is tasked with guarding a desert border with Pakistan, and so they have camel units which operate in sensitive areas. The camel contingent wears a separate uniform from the rest of the BSF and bedecks its camels in colorful harnesses.

4. Fiji’s Presidential Guard

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Jared Wiltshire

The sulu is a skirt that is part of Fiji’s national dress, but it can still be surprising for tourists the first time they see ceremonial guards wearing it.

5. Mongolian Army

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Dr Victor von Doom

The uniforms are meant to harken back to the days of the Mongol Empire, as is the white staff with yak hair. The staffs are called tug banners and are white during times of peace, black during times of war. Large processions like this are typically done before Nadaam, the Mongolian independence celebration.

6. South Korean Royal Guard

In 1996, the guards at the main palace of South Korea, Gyeongbokgung, reenacted the changing of the guard conducted during ancient times. The display was popular, so the guard unit protecting the palace has conducted the ceremony for tourists ever since, continuing to wear traditional clothing and carrying traditional weapons throughout the ceremony and their guard shift.

7. The Vatican Swiss Guard

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Paul Ronga

The famed guards of the Vatican are partially known for their bright uniforms. Each uniform weighs 8 pounds and consists of 154 pieces before you count both the traditional and modern weaponry they carry. The uniform was redesigned in 1914, but it was created to match the uniforms the unit wore in the 1500s when they were formed.

NOW: The 7 best ways to prove your ‘sham shield’

OR: 5 signs you’ve been in the barracks way too long

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8 of the coolest military technology advances from 2016

While 2016 took a lot from us (Carrie Fisher being one of the most recent losses), it also provided us with glimpses into the future.


So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of the new tech of 2016.

1. Carbon Nanomaterials

This article from April outlines the potential of aircraft made in one structure as opposed to many components that have to be assembled. Lockheed Martin made its mark in aviation with its famous Skunk Works in the 20th Century. The nanomaterials could lead to new developments in a wide range of products, from medical applications to building ships.

2. Russia Gets Its LCS Right

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Concept photo of Russian Projekt 20386 littoral combat ship. (Photo from Thai Military and Region blog)

Russia began work on the Derzky-class littoral combat ship this year, as WATM reported in November. While the American versions have been in the news with engineering problems, Russia seems to have taken the time to think about what its navy wanted.

Derzky will not be in service until 2021, according to reports. Perhaps, by then, the American LCS will have the kinks worked out of it.

3. New Round for Snipers?

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
A sniper from the U.S. team makes adjustments to his rifle during the unknown distance event during the Fuerzas Comando competition July 26. (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Army Master Sgt. Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs)

In November, WATM also noted that snipers were taking an interest in the .300 Norma Magnum round. This round offers an improved ballistic coefficient over the .338 Lapua Magnum round currently used by snipers. The round will be used in the Advanced Sniper Rifle that SOCOM is trying to procure.

4. No More “Feeling the Burn”

The Enhanced Fire Resistant Combat Ensemble is slated to help keep Marines and sailors assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command from “feeling the burn.”

This past November, WATM reported that these uniforms brought some financial bonuses, too, as they are twice as durable as the ones currently in use.

5. The Speeder Bike becomes a reality

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
(Photo from Malloy Aerospace)

When the Army began testing the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, comparisons to the speeder bikes used in Return of the Jedi were quick in coming.

This October, WATM noted it was also being eyed for use in combat re-supply missions. While the Marines have used an unmanned K-Max, this is much smaller and could help resupply a platoon in a firefight.

6. A Bird of Prey that hunts subs

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

This April, WATM reported on the ACTUV, which could make life very difficult for enemy subs. ACTUV, which stands for Antisubmarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, displaces about 140 tons and is 132 feet long.

Equipped with sensors and a datalink, this is a robotic scout that can track submarines or other targets, and it has a sustained speed of 27 knots.

7. Russia’s Killer Robot

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Screen capture from video of a FSB raid on the leader of ISIS’s Russian affiliate.

On Dec. 3, Russian FSB troops carried out a raid that took out the top dog of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s Dagestan chapter.

Earlier this month, WATM took a closer look at the gear displayed in a video that was released. The star attraction was a little robot packing what appeared to be a PKM machine gun and two RPG-22s. Now, isn’t this robot cooler than BB-8?

8. Bigger guns on Stryker and JLTV

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: courtesy of Program Executive OfficeGround Combat Systems)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

Since relations between the Russians and Americans seem to be heading south, two vehicles are getting bigger guns. In October, the Stryker got a 30mm turret, and became the XM1296 Dragoon. But this September, WATM reported that the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle got a bigger gun in the form of a modified M230. Now, these vehicles can take out BMPs.

So, those are some of the big tech stories out there for 2016. Which military tech story from 2016 is your favorite?

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Still feeling the St. Patrick’s Day hangover? These memes are better than a 1-quart canteen and 800mg of Motrin.


1. You sleep soundly in your bed at night because dashing men are willing to ride horses on the beach for your freedom (via Coast Guard Memes).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Seriously though, top 10 military jobs stuff right here.

2. The only missions that got volunteers were the ones that went near a Green Beans-equipped base (via Air Force Nation).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

SEE ALSO: America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end

3. To spread democracy, squeeze trigger (via Military Memes).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Always keep your weapon pointed up and downrange. Really, you could accidentally destroy a car with this thing.

4. Not even for a Rip-It?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Would you do it for two Rip-Its?

5. Wait, Skateteers can get “Leave” rings?

(via Air Force Nation)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Screw combining powers for SrA Scumbag, I would just rock my leave ring every morning.

6. Ain’t Ready to be a Marine Yet (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
And you never have to be ready. The Army is here for you.

7. False promises. You know he isn’t going to paint (via Coast Guard Memes).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
It’s a miracle he even walked on deck.

8. 75,000 pounds of Freedom at full load (via Air Force Nation).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

9. You can get a whole other layer of Marines on top of that one (Via Marine Corps Memes).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Send another squad over here.

10. When you have something in common with the galley vending machine:

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

11. Yeah! The fascist overlord thinks your Facebook game is on point!

(via Artwork of Armies)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

12. A one-item aid kit would be simpler (via Artwork of Armies).

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Hopefully, DARPA will figure something out soon.

13. The more important question is probably, “Why were you wearing a dress?”

(via Military Memes)

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
But hey, good on you for making formation.

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Here is a 360 degree view of Lockheed’s T-50A in flight

As you may have heard, the legendary T-38 Talon, which has been in service since 1961, is slated for replacement. GlobalSecurity.org notes that the T-X competition has apparently come down to a fight between Boeing and Saab on the one hand, and Lockheed and Korea Aerospace Industries on the other.


The Lockheed/KAI entry is the T-50A, a derivative of the South Korean T-50 “Golden Eagle.” According to Aeroflight.co.uk, KAI based the T-50 on the F-16, leveraging its experience building KF-16 Fighting Falcons under license from Lockheed. The result was a plane that has actually helped increase the readiness of South Korea’s air force, largely by reducing wear and tear on the F-16 fleet.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
A ROKAF T-50 at the Singapore Air Show. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

FlightGlobal.com notes that South Korea already has about 100 T-50 variants in service. The plane is also in service with Iraq, Indonesia, and the Philippines, plus an export order from Thailand. The plane also comes in variants that include lead-in fighter trainer and a multi-role fighter (A-50 and FA-50).

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the T-50 has a range of 1,150 miles, a top speed of Mach 1.53, and can carry a variety of weapons on seven hardpoints, including AIM-9 Sidewinders on the wingtips, AGM-65 Mavericks, cluster bombs, rocket pods, and it also has a 20mm M61 cannon. The plane is equipped with an APG-67 radar as well.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

The T-X contract is big, with at least 450 planes to be purchased by the Air Force to replace 546 T-38s. But with how many countries that have the F-16 or will have the F-35 in their inventory, the contract could be much, much more.

So, take a look at what it is like to fly the T-50A.

Articles

The most damaging spy in US history just walked free

Jonathan Pollard, the most damaging spy in U.S. history, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for passing documents to Israel. After thirty years in jail, he was released on parole to great fanfare from his wife, the government in Israel, and the American pro-Israel lobby. According to Pollard’s lawyers, he will be required to wear an electronic bracelet so his movements can be monitored at all times and his computers and those of any employer who hires him will be subjected to “unfettered monitoring and inspection.”


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the release “a dream come true” and that “the people of Israel welcome his release.” The PM’s office restricted celebrations of his release in hopes the American government will allow him to travel to Israel sooner.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Pollard released this photo with his wife, Esther.

While Israel is an American ally and has access to a lot of American intelligence, the information provided by Pollard to Israel is said to have caused grave damage to the national security of the United States.  The information was so damaging, when President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, presented an assessment of Pollard’s spying to the presiding judge in his trial, the judge threw out Pollard’s plea deal and threw the book at him and his wife.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II

Weinberger said he sought to “dispel any presumption that disclosures to an ally are insignificant; to the contrary, substantial and irrevocable damage has been done to this nation.”

The most damaging release included the 10-volume Radio and Signal Intelligence [RASIN] manual, aka “the Bible,” detailing the entire U.S. global listening profile, “frequency by frequency, source by source, geographic slice by geographic slice. RASIN was in effect, a complete roadmap to American signal intelligence.” The manual revealed which communications channels of which powers, in which regions, the NSA was intercepting and in what order of priority, providing insight on where and what actions the U.S. military might take next.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
Pollard caught stealing documents on camera.

The memo said many documents the spy gave the Israelis included details on sourcing and the identifications of U.S. agents abroad. Among other information Pollard admits giving to Israel:

  • Detailed information about a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) HQ in Tunisia
  • Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare factory locations and production capabilities
  • Regular PLO operations plans
  • Soviet arms shipments to Arab states unfriendly to Israel
  • Soviet fighter jet information
  • Information about Pakistani nuclear weapons programs

“Unauthorized disclosures to friendly powers may cause as great a harm to the national security as to hostile powers because, once the information is removed from secure control systems, there is no enforceable requirement nor any incentive to provide effective controls for its safekeeping,” the memo read.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itIwrWPQ00E

The CIA believes the information Pollard gave them might have been traded to the Soviet Union in exchange for looser travel restrictions of Russian Jews trying to emigrate to Israel.

Pollard claimed he was acting in a sense of altruism and loyalty toward Israel. Yet, In an exhaustive 1987 report, NCIS investigator Ron Olive alleged Pollard passed material on to South Africa and tried to pass it on to Pakistan as well. He took intelligence documents about China which his wife used to advance her business interests. He passed No Foreign Access (NOFORN) information on to an Australian Navy officer.The government’s case against Pollard included unsuccessful attempts to broker arms deals with South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Iran. And for all of Pollard’s altruism, he accepted more than $30,000 in cash and luxury items from Israel in exchange for information.

Many former Department of Defense officials are against his release. Some prominent Jewish-American figures are against it. Even once-ardent supporters of Pollard disagree with the timing. Ron Olive, the NCIS investigator who caught Pollard after he handed more than a million documents to Israeli agents over 18 months, believes the spy should stay in jail. So does Vice-President Joe Biden. Then-CIA director George Tenet threatened his resignation if President Clinton released Pollard in the late 1990s.

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The F-16 could transition to an unmanned aerial asset

In its quest to meet and exceed the challenges of the future, the U.S. Air Force has been increasingly looking to unmanned systems — and a recent test proved that an unmanned F-16 can now think and fight on its own.


The U.S. has used F-16 drones before as realistic targets for the F-35 to blow up in training, but on April 10 it announced fully autonomous air-to-air and ground strike capabilities as a new capability thanks to joint research between the service and Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunkworks.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
An F-35 Lightning II from Eglin AFB flies with an F-16 Fighting Falcon from Luke AFB at the Luke Airshow. Was the Viper just bait? (Lockheed Martin photo)

Not only did the F-16 drone figure out the best way to get there and execute a ground strike mission by itself, it was interrupted by an air threat, responded, and kept going.

“We’ve not only shown how an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle can perform its mission when things go as planned, but also how it will react and adapt to unforeseen obstacles along the way,” said Capt. Andrew Petry of the Air Force Research Laboratory in a Lockheed Martin statement.

But having F-16 drones plan and fly their own missions is only part of a much larger picture. The future of the U.S. Air Force may well depend on advanced platforms like F-35s commanding fleets of unmanned drones which can act as additional ears, eyes, and shooters in the sky during battles.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
F-16 Fighting Falcons from Kunsan Air Base and South Korean KF-16s taxi to the runway together during Exercise Buddy Wing 14-8 at Seosan Air Base, Republic of Korea Aug. 21, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force has what’s called an “open mission system” where it designs all platforms to network together and share information. Essentially, even an unmanned drone will have decision-grade data fed to it from everything from satellites in the sky to radars on the ground.

Lockheed Martin calls it the “loyal wingman” program, where drone systems like old F-16s can seamlessly network with F-35s and think on its feet.

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Russia’s International Army Games are an intense alternative to Rio Olympics

If watching the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio doesn’t suit your taste, you may want to check out this year’s International Army Games, hosted by the Russian Defense Ministry.


Related: The RAF’s ‘Mach Loop’ turns intense fighter training into a spectator sport

Held in Russia and Kazakhstan, this 2-week live-streamed event consists of 23 distinct trials ranging from air, marine, and field operations.

The story of Wojtek: The 440-pound bear that drank, smoked, and carried weapons for the Polish army during World War II
One of the aviation requirements during the competition. | Russia Ministry of Defense

From sniper competitions, tank biathlons, underwater searches, and aircraft ground attacks, over 3,000 servicemembers hailing from 19 different countries will be competing this year.

According to International Business Times , Russia had reportedly invited 47 countries, including the US and other NATO member states; however, the only NATO country that seems to have accepted their offer has been Greece.

Here’s some clips of the International Army Games:

via GIPHYvia GIPHY

Watch the livestream here.

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