This is what it's like to feel zero G aboard NASA's 'Vomit Comet' - We Are The Mighty
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This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’


Way back in the early ’90s, when I was a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as the editor of Approach magazine (Naval Aviation’s Safety review), I was invited by NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd to come down to Houston for a hands-on tour. Along with suiting up in full astronaut gear and flying the shuttle simulator in all regimes of flight, I had the opportunity to ride in NASA’s “reduced gravity aircraft,” better known as the “vomit comet” (because of its tendency to cause passengers to throw up during the zero-G missions).

In those days NASA used a couple of KC-135 Stratotankers as the Vomit Comets, which were big ol’ beasts relative to the contract Airbus 300s and 727s they used later. We launched out of Ellington Field at headed over the Gulf of Mexico. There were about a dozen passengers in the compartment with me, mostly engineers who were testing exercise equipment for future use on the space station.

There was a crew chief who was charged with making sure nobody got hurt, and he explained during his safety brief that the main way to avoid injury was to make sure you had a hand on the padded floor during the transition from zero-G back to 1-G.  He said that passengers had sprained ankles and wrists or twisted neck muscles by getting disoriented while weightless and hitting the deck in an awkward fashion once G came back on the airplane.

The pilot announced “starting the pull,” which meant he was commencing a 1.8 G pull until the aircraft’s nose was pointed 45 degrees up. At that point he pushed the nose forward until the aircraft was right at zero G and held it there until the aircraft was pointed 45 degrees nose down, which resulted in about 30 seconds of weightlessness. At that point he’s start another 1.8 G pull back to 45 degrees nose up into another zero G pushover . . . over and over again.  Each cycle was known as a “parabola,” and a mission consisted of 40 of them – 20 headed eastbound and 20 headed back to the base, westbound.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

My host Navy Captain Bill Shepherd, a SEAL by warfare specialty who later broke the record for days on the International Space Station, had done the Vomit Comet missions many times. He’d admitted before the mission that he’d become airsick every time and predicted he’d do so on that day’s mission as well.

I was a Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer with more than 1,000 tactical jet hours under my belt at the time, so high-G flight was nothing new to me.  In fact, the parabola profile seemed pretty mild compared to the way a fighter maneuvered during a dogfight. But the engineers weren’t as experienced, and Capt. Shepherd instructed me to watch them as the flight went along.

“Everybody will do the first 10 parabolas very giddy,” he said.  “They’ll flip around and laugh and high five each other.”

The next ten parabolas would have fewer spins and less laughter, he predicted.  The 10 after that would consist of people fighting the urge to throw up. And the last 10 would be a bunch of miserable people wishing the flight would end as they floated for 30 seconds at a time after getting sick.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

And that’s pretty much what happened. At some point in the flight everybody’s joy wore off as their inner ears said “WTF?” with all the gyrating and weird sensations. Along with Capt. Shepherd the majority of those in the compartment got airsick, and about three-quarters of the way through the mission all of the engineers were so incapacitated that they were unable to test the fitness equipment.  According to former Reduced Gravity Research Program director John Yaniec, anxiety contributes most to passengers’ airsickness. The stress on their bodies creates a sense of panic and therefor causes the passenger to vomit.

The crew chief noticed that I seemed to be doing okay, so he asked if I would jump in and try out the reclined bicycle and the stepper. I did, and we were able to flag that the stepper had a tendency to stick on the down-stroke during zero G.

I’d experience zero G many times before that, but never for 30 seconds at a time. The sensation of being weightless for that long was very cool, relaxing even. Although those suffering airsickness among us certainly didn’t feel the same way, before I knew it we’d done 40 parabolas and we were back on deck at Ellington Field.

My flight on the Vomit Comet was among the most memorable experiences of my 20-year Navy career, and I’m glad I got to do it before the “reduced gravity” program was cancelled in 2014, another casualty of NASA’s dwindling budget.

Now: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator

And: 10 Things That Will Remind You About NASA’s Amazing Legacy

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Air Force loosens flight suit sleeve rules

The Air Force is allowing its pilots, navigators and airmen who wear flight suits to roll up their sleeves whenever they’re not on in-flight duty, according to a new memo.


The latest policy, first published on the popular Air Force blog John Q. Public, mimics what airmen who wear the Airman Battle Uniform are already allowed to do when they’re not performing official duties, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis.

Also read: 15 years later, Pararescueman awarded Air Force Cross for valor

“The flight suit sleeve policy was updated to align with the Airman Battle Uniform coat [shirt] wear policy,” Lewis said in an email Monday.

The change amends Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel,” which already states in the case of the ABU that “commanders may authorize sleeves to be rolled up on the ABU coat; however, the cuffs will remain visible and the sleeve will rest at, or within 1 inch of, the forearm when the arm is bent at a 90-degree angle.”

“Regardless as to whether the sleeves are rolled up or unrolled, the cuffs will remain visible at all times,” the AFI says.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

Similarly, airmen who wear a Flight Duty Uniform or Desert Flight Duty Uniform can roll or tuck their suit sleeves under, Lewis said, and “are now approved to pull the sleeves up to within 1 inch of the elbow using the Velcro, already incorporated in the suit, to hold them in place.”

Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, enacted the change — effective immediately — on Jan. 23, according to the memo.

Airmen “will still be required to have sleeves rolled down to the wrist when performing aircrew duties in-flight,” Lewis said — for example, while flying or on the flight line.

The previous policy for flight suits stated airmen could have their sleeves rolled under “if not performing in-flight duties.” However, the rolled-under sleeve “will not end above the natural bend of the wrist when the wearer’s arms are hanging naturally at their side.”

Lewis could not say if similar provisions for flight suits were made in the past.

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How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

Two Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters headlined China’s Airshow China in Zhuhai on Tuesday, flying for just a few minutes, Reuters reports.


But Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, said the display left many questions unanswered.

Also read: Future Marine mega-drone may carry same weapons as F-35

On paper, the J-20 represents a “big leap forward in terms of the capabilities of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) have on scene,” Bronk said.

Compared with the US’s fifth-generation fighter jets, the F-22 and the F-35, the J-20 has “longer range, more internal fuel capacity, and larger internal weapons capability,” Bronk said.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
A rendering of the Chengdu J-20. | Screenshot via hindu judaic/YouTube

This combination of factors presents a real risk to US forces in the Pacific. Long-range, capable strike fighters like the J-20 put the US AWACS, or airborne warning and control system, as well as “refueling tankers, and forward bases at risk much more than current types if flying in relatively large numbers” should any kind of kinetic conflict flare up in the Pacific, Bronk said.

David Goldfein, the chief of staff for the US Air Force, told Breaking Defense he was not overly troubled by the new Chinese jet.

“When I hear about F-35 versus J-20, it’s almost an irrelevant comparison,” Goldfein said in August.

Indeed, nothing indicates that the Chinese have built in the type of hyper connectivity and sensor fusions that make the US’s fifth-generation fighters so groundbreaking. Of the F-35 in particular, Bronk said: “Pilots are not spending a huge amount of time managing inputs — the machine does it for him. It produces one unified picture, which he can then interrogate as required.”

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
F-35 pilots have unprecedented 360-degree visibility, can even see through the airframe with cameras, and can fire missiles at targets they aren’t even facing. | Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

This gives F-35 pilots a situational awareness the Chinese most likely leverage in combat.

But what exactly goes on under the hood of the J-20 remains a mystery. What is known is that the Chinese have managed to steal a considerable amount of info from US defense aviation projects.

“We don’t know how much F-35 technology the Chinese have managed to steal,” Bronk said, adding that while it was “impossible to say for sure” what the J-20 is capable of, common sense dictates that the “the sensor fusion and network integration is significantly behind what the US has managed with the F-35 and F-22.

“This is purely based on the fact that sensor fusion has taken the most effort, time, and money,” he continued.

But one-on-one combat scenarios or feature-for-feature comparisons don’t capture the real threat of the J-20.

Long-range stealth fighters, if fielded in large numbers along with older Chinese aircraft, surface-to-air missile batteries, radar outposts, missiles, and electronic-warfare units, present another wrinkle in an already complicated and fraught operating envelope for US and allied forces in the Pacific.

But is it real?

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Not really a J-20, but a rendering of it. | Alexandr Chechin photo via Wiki Commons

Whether the Chinese will actually be able to field this plane by 2018, as Beijing has projected, remains the real question.

Bronk pointed out that it took a decade between US developers building a flying model of the F-22 and getting real, capable F-22s in the air. Even if the Chinese have accelerated the process through espionage, Bronk says, “We know how much money and time it takes to make a lethal and effective fighter like the F-22,” and it’s “very unlikely that China is that far along.”

Additionally, the J-20s in Zhuhai flew for only about one minute. They didn’t do low passes. They didn’t open up the weapons bay. They didn’t do much except fly around a single time.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
F-35s and F-22s fly in formation. | US Air Force photo

“We learned very little,” Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of FlightGlobal, told Reuters. “We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility.”

Bronk speculates that the models on display at Airshow China were not much more than showpieces: “It’s possible that the aircraft that were shown are still instrumented production aircraft,” or planes with “loads of sensors to monitor performance” instead of in a combat-ready formation.

Bronk points out that the aircraft most likely flew with underpowered engines and not the engines that would fly on the final version. “Engine performance is a key function of any aircraft,” he said, adding, “China and Russia continue to lag behind because of the really top-end manufacturing processes you need” to create and tune high-quality aircraft engines.

So while China’s new “impressive low-observable heavy strike” fighters could change the balance of power in the Pacific, whether they can field the planes in significantly large numbers at any time in the near future remains an open question.

Watch footage of the J-20’s flight below:

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Four Chaplains Day: Remembering the men of faith who willingly gave their lives during World War II

The stark vision of the Four Chaplains with linked arms praying while their ship sank 78 years ago lives on. Today, we honor their courage, devotion and ultimate sacrifice.

It was two years after the United States entered into World War II. The Four Chaplains – who would leave an extraordinary legacy – boarded the SS Dorchester, all coming from completely different backgrounds but completely united in a commitment to bring spiritual comfort to their men.

Chaplain George Fox was a veteran of World War I, having served as a medic. He was highly decorated, having received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. Fox had lied about his age and was just 17 years old when he left for war. When he returned, he finished high school and went to college. He was eventually ordained a Methodist minister in 1934. When war came calling, he volunteered to become an Army Chaplain. On the day he commissioned, his son enlisted in the Marine Corps. 

Chaplain and Rabbi Alexander Goode earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1940, while finishing his studies to become a Rabbi – like his father before him. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he applied to the Army to become a Chaplain. In 1942, he was selected for Chaplains School at Harvard. 

Chaplain Clark Poling was the son of a minister and was ordained as one for the Reformed Church in the late 1930s. After war broke out, he was called to serve. His own father had served as a Chaplain during World War I. He headed to Army Chaplains School at Harvard. 

Chaplain John Washington was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1935, having served the church all his life in some form or another. When the war began, he received his appointment as an Army Chaplain. 

All four men from different corners of the country and varied faiths, met at Harvard in 1942 and became friends. A year later they’d be on a ship together, all ready to serve. 

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

On February 3, 1943, the civilian liner SS Dorchester, which had been converted for military service, was en route to Greenland with 902 military members, merchant marines and civilian workers. It was being escorted by Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Escanaba and Comanche. It was a chilly morning as the new day began and the water temperature was hovering around 34 degrees with an air temperature of 36 degrees. 

The Coast Guard alerted the captain of the Dorchester that U-Boats had been sighted and he ordered the crew to sleep in their clothes and life jackets. Most of them ignored it though, because it was either so hot down below or they couldn’t sleep well with the life jackets on.  

At 12:55am, a German torpedo struck their ship. 

A large number of men were killed instantly from the blast and many more critically injured. It knocked their power and communications out, leaving them unable to radio the other ships for support. By some miracle, the CGC Comanche saw the flash of light from the explosion and headed their way to help. They had radioed the Escanaba for added support, while the Tampa continued its escort of the fleet. 

According to records, panic and chaos had quickly set in. Men began throwing rafts over and overcrowding soon set in, causing capsizing into the frigid waters. But four Chaplains became a light in the dark for the terrified men. They spread out throughout the ship comforting the soldiers and civilians, bringing order to the frenzy. As the life jackets were being passed out, they ran out. 

The Four Chaplains took theirs off, giving them to the men. 

Engineer Grady Clark witnessed the whole thing. Each Chaplain was of a different faith, but worked in unison to serve and save the men. 

Despite their orderly work, the ship continued to sink. They helped as many men as they could. When it was obvious the ship was going down, the Chaplains linked arms and began praying together. It was said that the crew in the waters below could hear hymns being sung. Survivors would later report hearing a mix of Hebrew and Latin prayers, melding together in a beautiful harmony as they went under, giving their lives to save the rest. 

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
American Legion archives painting by Dudley Summers

Of the 902 men, only 230 survived. 

Before boarding the ship and leaving to serve, Chaplain Poling asked his father to pray for him. The words were poignant and a deep insight to the character of the man he was and those he died alongside. He asked his father to pray “Not for my safe return, that wouldn’t be fair. Just pray that I shall do my duty…never be a coward…and have the strength, courage and understanding of men. Just pray that I shall be adequate.”

Although many fought for these brave men to receive the Medal of Honor for their bravery and heroism, the stringent requirements prevented it from happening. They all received the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. In 1961, Congress created the Special Medal for Heroism, The Four Chaplains Medal. It was given to them and them only, never to be awarded again.

On this Four Chaplains Day, we remember.

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That time dentures were made from dead soldiers’ teeth

The first casualty of a U.S. troop’s military service is usually his wisdom teeth. It’s as if the U.S. military secretly runs on some kind of wisdom tooth-based fuel.


There are many supposed reasons for the mass extraction of otherwise normal wisdom teeth, but we can all be glad they don’t get sold into, say, dentures or something.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

But travel back in time a couple hundred years and they certainly could have.

By 1815, the British Empire’s acquisition of a steady source of sugar coming from its Caribbean colonies created an embarrassing source of tooth decay – and a huge market for dentures.

Both were only for the wealthy.

In the earliest days of oral care on the British Isles, “everyone dabbled in dentistry,” according to a BBC interview with the British Dental Association. And replacement teeth were made from a variety of material, including ivory and porcelain — each with its own set of pros and cons.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Wooden tooth jokes are as funny as actual wooden teeth.

The best dentures, however, used real extracted teeth. As the demand for dentures grew, so did the demand for ones made with real teeth. To get a full set of real teeth, someone had to lose a full set of real teeth, and who would give up their teeth?

Someone who doesn’t need them anymore, of course.

Good thing the British just finished fighting a huge war with Napoleonic France. The recent Battle of Waterloo gave British dentists a huge source of teeth whose owners didn’t need them anymore.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Dead people. I mean dead people. Specifically soldiers.

And that’s just what happened.

Everyone, according to the British Dental Association Museum — from locals to other troops to scavengers — would have been pulling dead soldiers’ teeth out for sale back home. The demand was that great.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
(British Dental Association Museum photo)

They wouldn’t take all of the teeth. Molars would be left in place because they were too hard to take out and difficult to turn onto dentures.

Once back in Britain, the “Waterloo Teeth” (as they came to be called) were sold at a price that couldn’t be beat, considering the demand for real teeth and the scarcity of them. It provided those battlefield scavengers with plenty of incentive to grab a pair of pliers and head out to Waterloo.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

The recipients had no idea their new dentures came from the dead men on the battlefield of France. All they knew is that they could now eat all the boiled food the British Isles could muster. Which is a lot.

“Waterloo Teeth” would come to be known as any kind of tooth that was extracted from dead soldiers on battlefields for sale for use in dentures. This also happened during the American Civil War and the Crimean War.

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The Army bought this tiltrotor aircraft over 30 years before the Osprey flew

When the military adopted the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft in 2007, there were legions of naysayers who thought the military’s first tiltrotor was too unsafe and too expensive to be added to the fleet.


But while the V-22 did have a spotted history during development, it wasn’t the first military tiltrotor aircraft. A few such aircraft were in the early stages of development during World War II, and the U.S. Army bought a tiltrotor aircraft in 1956 — over 30 years before the first V-22 flew in 1989.

Video: YouTube/AIRBOYD

The Doak Model 16 was a vertical take-off and landing aircraft that used ducted tilt-rotors to generate forward thrust and — in the vertical flight mode — lift. Like the V-22, the Model 16 only rotated its rotors when transitioning between flight modes.

The Doak company spent years developing VTOL technologies before it sold a single Model 16 to the Army for further testing and development. For its part, the Army dubbed the Model 16 the VZ-4 and flew it for three years, evaluating its flight characteristics and the potential for full production and deployment.

Cobbled together with parts from other planes and using still experimental tiltrotor technologies, the VZ-4 had fairly impressive stats. It was capable of flying at 229 mph and had a 229-mile range.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
The Doak VZ-4 hovers during flight testing. (Photo: U.S. Army)

But, the plane struggled with some “undesirable characteristics,” especially during the transitions between vertical and horizontal flight. The most problematic was a tendency for the nose of the aircraft to rise in relation to the tail during the switch between flight modes.

Ultimately, the Army passed on purchasing more of the planes and loaned its single Model 16 to NASA for continued tests. When NASA was finished with it, the aircraft was sent to the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Nowadays, the performance of the CV-22 and MV-22 Osprey has left little doubt that there’s a place in the military inventory for tiltrotor aircraft. The Ospreys can fly from patches of dirt or relatively small ships at sea that traditional planes could never operate from. And they can fly for over 1,000 miles without refueling, over twice the range of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

These traits have earned the Ospreys spots in special operations units and Marine air-ground task forces around the world. And for the U.S. military, the road to tiltrotor aircraft all started with a single plane purchased in 1956.

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These startups are hiring thousands of military veterans — as long as they have a car

There are plenty of companies willing to hire veterans, and for those wanting to break into the startup world, it could be as easy as having your own car.


Veterans and service members have a new opportunity to earn money with a flexible, autonomous schedule. DoorDash, a fast-growing tech startup out of Silicon Valley, is looking for new people — called Dashers — to join its ranks. The company also isn’t alone: Veterans around the country can find on-demand job opportunities at other companies such as Uber and Lyft. Uber, for example, is looking for 5,000 drivers in Houston alone.

“As a former Force Recon Marine and veteran of the Iraq war, I understand the difficulty of transitioning out of the military,” said Chris Clark, DoorDash’s Operations Manager in Orange County. “It can be a challenge both financially and psychologically. That’s why I am fighting as hard as I can to get vets positions in our Dasher fleet.”

Todd Bowers, who runs Uber’s military outreach program, described driving for the company in a recent interview as “a unique opportunity for military families who really appreciate flexibility, mobility, and safety.”

DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft offer the kind of flexible work that defines the modern, on-demand economy. There is no resume required, or interview process to prep for prior to making money. All you need to do is be licensed to drive a car and — for DoorDash — be able to carry some food from Point A to Point B. It’s a pretty good gig for someone looking to make cash on the side, or even full-time.

“Former military members make the best Dashers – they are reliable, disciplined, timely and professional. I would love to fill my entire fleet with veteran Dashers. They know the meaning of hard work, don’t complain, and get the mission done,” Clark said.

Active duty, reserve, and veterans can all apply for this opportunity, which pays up to $25 per hour. If you’re interested in applying, fill out this Dasher application, which takes roughly two minutes. To help fast-track people applying with military experience, put Veteran in the “Referred By” field.

For vets who are interested in going all the way and relocating to Silicon Valley, check out a recent recap of tech companies who are hiring and read through a great explanation of the hiring process at most tech companies.

William Treseder served in the Marines between 2001 and 2011. He now writes regularly on military topics, and has been featured in TIME, Foreign Policy, and Boston Review. You can follow him on Twitter @williamtreseder.

NOW: 5 high-paying jobs for veterans without a college degree

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North Korea’s missile shot at Japan could be a warmup for a Guam strike

North Korea fired a missile over Japan’s Hokkaido province in the early morning hours of August 29, and the early figures coming out from the launch indicate it could have been a warm up for similar action toward the US territory of Guam.


North Korea has expressed vitriolic anger over US and South Korean war games throughout the month of August. It culminated in the announcement of a plan to fire missiles toward Guam, where the US keeps nuclear-capable bombers and some 7,000 military personnel.

The launch August 29 overflew Japan and traveled almost 1,700 miles before crashing down into the sea, hitting a high point of about 340 miles over land. Japan has previously said it would shoot down any missiles headed toward its territory, but this one simply flew over. The missile launch coincides with the completion of Northern Viper, a joint US-Japanese military drill in Hokkaido.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Lance Cpl. Mario Anderson checks on a team member during a live fire training event Aug. 16, 2017 at the live fire range in Hokudaien, Japan, in support of Northern Viper 17. USMC photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger.

Specifically, North Korea threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into the waters just about 20 miles short of Guam.

Experts contacted by Business Insider said it would be unlikely that North Korea could pull off such a feat with a missile that has only been tested once successfully. Furthermore, doubts remain about North Korea’s ability to create a warhead that can survive reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Based on early estimates, the launch August 29 appears to have used a single Hwasong-12 rocket in a possible confidence-building measure before any possible attempt on Guam.

But even if the launch ends up having been another missile, or not intended to sure up capabilities headed for a shot toward Guam, the violation of Japan’s sovereign air space will likely demand a response. And US and Japanese policymakers may look to shoot down further tests if they travel the same route.

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Army still testing Ripsaw ‘Luxury Super Tank’

The U.S. Army continues to test a lightweight tracked vehicle known as Ripsaw that’s now being pitched to the consumer market as a “luxury super tank.”


A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey to assess how they could be used in future combat operations. Indeed, on Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, head of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, rode in one of the vehicles with a driver as part of a demonstration.

Related: SOCOM plans to test Iron Man suit by 2018

The company describes the 750-horsepower, optionally manned vehicle — which is capable of reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour and costs roughly $250,000 — as a “handcrafted, limited-run, high-end, luxury super tank developed for the public and extreme off road recreation.”

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Howe and Howe)

For one, it’s too light. At 9,000 pounds, the EV2 is closer in size to the Humvee than a tank. For example, the Army’s M1A2 Abrams main battle tank tips the scales at more than 70 tons. Indeed, the Ripsaw isn’t even in the same weight class as an M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle or M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

Also, it doesn’t carry the same firepower. The EV2 is designed to accommodate the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, which can mount any number of weapons — including the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, Mk19 40mm automatic grenade machine gun, M240B 7.62 mm machine gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. By comparison, the M1A2 tank’s main armament is the 120mm L/44 M256A1 smoothbore tank gun.

Finally, it doesn’t have any armor to speak of, just an aluminum frame with gull-wing doors. So it’s really more of a tracked DeLorean than a tank (see picture below).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Howe and Howe)

Even so, the manufacturer says the Ripsaw is the “fastest dual tracked vehicle ever developed.”

And that may be why, several years after the vehicle was featured in “Popular Science” magazine in 2009, the Army remains interested in seeing how it might incorporate the EV2 into its combat formations. The service has tested the technology for at least a year — a soldier in 2016 operated a Ripsaw from a M113 Armored Personnel Carrier trailing a kilometer away, according to a press release at the time.

Here at Military.com, we’re fascinated by the technology and reaching out to the Army to learn more about how officials are evaluating this slick ride, which is almost guaranteed to get more popular in the months and years ahead.

See the Ripsaw in action below:

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

It’s memes day!


And do you have memes you want to see included next week? Hit us up on Facebook.

1. “Billy Mays here for the full metal jacket!” (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

2. Should’ve studied (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
If he had scored any lower, he might’ve had to join the Army.

SEE ALSO: The 17 most hardcore WWII Air Corps Bomber Jackets

3. You have your chain of command, the NCO support channel … (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
… and then you have the guys who actually make decisions.

4.  Junior enlisted can’t get no respect (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

5. When you’ve spend just a little too much time at home (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

6. A clean ship is a safe ship (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
You don’t want to see what happens when you skip painting.

7. “Mom, really, I love you. It’s just …” (Via Out Of Regs)

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

8. See? This is why you’re supposed to leave the post after you retire (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Come on. You’re caught. Just salute.

9. Sure. It’s funny when he shows up at berthing with all those tacos (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

10. Purell. Nearly as good as inspections at keeping recruits awake (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Veterans know to just mix dip with their energy drinks.

11. They’re going to take on a lot of water when they pull out of port.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Probably less likely to damage a World War II monument though.

 12. How about a date with democracy?

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

13. No matter how many times you tell them, this still happens.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Side note, does that pilot in the foreground know how to curl his fingers at the position of attention? Or does an NCO need to go correct him?

NOW: 9 things new chief petty officers do when they put on khakis

AND: Marines Improvise an awesome waterslide during a rainstorm

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The Air Force names its futuristic bomber after World War II Tokyo raid

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — The Air Force went deeply into its history to name its proposed new strategic bomber, announcing Sept. 19 that it will be the called the B-21 “Raider” in honor of Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo raiders from World War II.


The name was announced by retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole, who was Doolittle’s copilot and is the last surviving member of the 80 Army Air Corps airmen who flew 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers from the Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, to bomb multiple targets in Japan.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
The USS Hornet had 16 U.S. Army Air Forces North American B-25B Mitchells on deck, ready for the Tokyo Raid on April 18, 1942. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cole, now 101, said he was “humbled to be here representing Gen. Doolittle and the raider. I wish they were here.”

The announcement came in the opening session of the Air Force Association’s Air, Space, Cyber conference here. Cole was introduced by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who said “the legacy of Air Force strategic air power continues” with the proposed stealthy bomber, which is to be built by B-2 Spirit bomber builder Northrop Grumman.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Retired Lt. Col. Robert E. Cole, a B-25 Mitchell bomber co-pilot and survivor of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, answers questions in the Airman’s Hall at the Pentagon, Nov. 5, 2105. Cole toured the Pentagon and met with service members to share the history of the Doolittle Raiders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

The Air Force has said it wants at least 100 B-21s at a projected cost of $550 million each. It would replace the B-52Hs, which are approaching 50 years old, in the nuclear deterrence missions. Later, it also could replace the 1980s-vintage B-1Bs, which are limited to conventional bombing.

But the program already has come under attack from arms control advocates and from other defense critics who argue that the nation cannot afford another hyper-expensive aircraft while still struggling with the fifth generation F-35 fighters.

James listed the B-21 among the Air Force’s top three acquisition programs, along with the Lockheed Martin produced F-35 and the KC-46A aerial refueling plane, being built by Boeing.

In a panel session later in the day, Gen. Rand, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command which would employ the new bomber, said the B-21 was necessary to keep the nation’s long-range strike capabilities reliable and effective.

Rand said he has set 100 B-21s as the absolute minimum required, based on the current and projected requirements from the geographic combatant commanders. And, Rand noted, the Air Force currently has 158 combat ready bombers. “I cannot imagine the nation or the Air Force having one less than we have now.”

Although the actual buy would be determined after the first of the new bombers are delivered, Rand said, “I’m going to stick to my guns, that 100 is the minimum.”

The panel was asked how they could expect the B-21 coming in on time and at the estimated cost when every major weapon system in decades has fallen behind schedule and run well over projected price.

Lt. Gen. James Holmes, deputy Air Force chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said they were doing a base lining study with the contractor, but had a cost-plus contract for research and development that has incentives for Northrop “to deliver on cost and on schedule. The contract also sets a fixed price for the first five blocks of bombers, “which  normally are the most expensive,” Holmes said.

“All indications are we will beat the $550 [million] estimated cost,” he said.

The B-21 program also is being managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is designed to reduce the bureaucracy and paperwork involved with procurement.

Randall Walden, director of that office, said the B-21 was being designed with “open architecture” requirements, which make it easier to upgrade technology, particularly in the sophisticated electronic systems that drive up much of the cost of new high-tech weapons. He estimated that could save “upward of 50 to 80 percent of the cost” over the life of the bomber.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Artist rendering of B-21 Raider bomber. (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

Holmes was asked how the Air Force could afford its top three procurement program along with all the other expenses it had and the limited budgets expected. He said that because the F-35, KC-46 and B-21 were the top priorities, they are funded first when the Air Force crafts its budget and the other programs are funded with what is left.

He also said the Air Force plans to push through some of the lesser programs, such as replacing the Vietnam-vintage UH-1 helicopters that provide security and mobility at its Minuteman III missile bases, before the big spending starts on the B-21 and the Minuteman replacement.

The panel also was asked about whether the B-21 would be manned or remotely piloted. Rand and Walden both said current plans were to have it manned.

Rand said some future systems could be unmanned. “Personally, I like the idea of having a man, or a woman, in the loop,” he said.

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Watch this Green Beret-turned-aid-worker brave enemy fire to save an Iraqi girl

A dramatic rescue of a little girl trapped by ISIS gunfire was captured Friday on video.


David Eubank, a former Special Forces soldier-turned-aid worker, was filmed as he ran out in the open amid ISIS sniper fire to rescue the girl as two other men covered him with rifle fire.

“I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand,” Eubank told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Times, Eubank’s dramatic rescue played out on a street in the Iraqi city of Mosul, where ISIS snipers were firing at civilians that were attempting to flee. Wearing only a t-shirt, bulletproof vest, and helmet, Eubank is seen running out into the street approximately 150 yards where he picks up the girl and brings her back safely behind a tank.

Eubank, 56, served for a decade with the US Army Special Forces. After leaving the military, he founded an aid group called the Free Burma Rangers, which seeks to bring “hope and love to people in the conflict zones of Burma, Iraq, and Sudan,” according to its website.

Watch the dramatic video:

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21 things sailors who’ve served in Yokosuka will understand

The sailors assigned to the commands around Yokosuka, Japan know about high optempo. The units assigned to Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan are either on deployment or working up for deployment.


But with limited liberty time, the sailors of Yokosuka (and Atsugi) also learn how to play hard.

Here are 21 things every sailor who’s ever been stationed there knows all too well:

Related: 7 lies sailors tell their parent while deployed

1. Your weekend begins with a Liberty plan and a designated buddy

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson

(The liberty plan may not apply to those before 2002 or after 2014. Lucky you.)

2. But in reality, you have alternate plans

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

3. Instead, you pregame with a Chu-Hi or three

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Image: Kirin

4. And head for the Honch

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Off to the Honch, Yokosuka, Japan. Image: Shissem

5. But you only stay for a while because you don’t get along with the regulars: a.k.a. ‘shore patrol’

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Instagram, zacharyattackery

6. And, trust us on this one, you won’t stand a chance if you start your Captain’s Mast like this:

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
YouTube, Paul Coleman

7. Dinner options always brings out the toughest debates

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Image: Rocket News 24

(By the way, Sukiya is way better.)

8. You opt for taco, rice, and cheese because there’s no way to come to an agreement

 

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Photo Credit: Okinawa Hai!

9. Or maybe you settle on ramen (because it’s crazy delicious)

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Pinterest, Honest Cooking

10. After dinner, it’s off to Roppongi

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Giphy

11. You learn to stay away from “buy me drink” bars

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Giphy

12. You learn that trains stop running at midnight . . .

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
YouTube, kennooo93

… the hard way.

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

12. But if you happen to miss the last train the real debauchery begins

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Giphy

13. Really, what’s a sailor to do without transportation? 

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Instagram, AgehaTokyo

15. Somehow you always manage to save just enough cash to get you back to base

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Flickr, BriYYZ

16. You know you missed your stop when signs are no longer in English

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Flickr, François Rejeté

17. Luckily, the Japanese people are very friendly

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Giphy

18. MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) trips are great for holding on to your money, exploring Japan and staying out of trouble. You could visit Kyoto …

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Image: Wikimedia

19. … climb Mount Fuji …

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Image: US Navy

20. … or take an epic snowboarding trip to Nagano

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
Image: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

21. And you know how to make the best of a liberty incident

This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’
VAW-115 barracks party. (Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty)

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