This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified - We Are The Mighty
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This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III | U.S. Air Force


Air Force pilots of the 1980s-era stealthy B-2 Spirit bomber plan to upgrade and fly the aircraft on attack missions against enemy air defenses well into the 2050s, service officials said.

“It is a dream to fly. It is so smooth,” Maj. Kent Mickelson, director of operations for 394th combat training squadron, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

In a special interview designed to offer a rare look into the technologies and elements of the B-2, Mickelson explained that the platform has held up and remained very effective – given that it was designed and built during the 80s.

Alongside his current role, Mickelson is also a B-2 pilot with experience flying missions and planning stealth bomber attacks, such as the bombing missions over Libya in 2011.

“It is a testament to the engineering team that here we are in 2016 and the B-2 is still able to do its job just as well today as it did in the 80s. While we look forward to modernization, nobody should come away with the thought that the B-2 isn’t ready to deal with the threats that are out there today,” he said.  “It is really an awesome bombing platform and it is just a marvel of technology.”

The B-2 is engineered with avionics, radar and communications technologies designed to identify and destroy enemy targets from high altitudes above hostile territory.

“It is a digital airplane. We are presented with what is commonly referred to as glass cockpit,” Mickelson said.

The glass cockpit includes various digital displays, including one showing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) information which paints a rendering or picture of the ground below.

“SAR provides the pilots with a realistic display of the ground that they are able to use for targeting,” Mickelson said.

The B-2 has a two-man crew with only two ejection seats. Also, the crew is trained to deal with the rigors of a 40-hour mission.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

“The B-2 represents a huge leap in technology from our legacy platforms such as the B-52 and the B-1 bomber. This involved taking the best of what is available and giving it to the aircrew,” Mickelson said.

The Air Force currently operates 20 B-2 bombers, with the majority of them based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. The B-2 can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and carry 40,000 pounds of payload, including both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The aircraft, which entered service in the 1980s, has flown missions over Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. In fact, given its ability to fly as many as 6,000 nautical miles without need to refuel, the B-2 flew from Missouri all the way to an island off the coast of India called Diego Garcia – before launching bombing missions over Afghanistan.

“Taking off from Whiteman and landing at Diego Garcia was one of the longest combat sorties the B-2 has ever taken. The bomber was very successful in Afghanistan and very successful in the early parts of the wars in Iraq and Libya,” Michelson added.

The B-2 crew uses what’s called a “long-duration kit,” which includes items such as a cot for sleeping and other essentials deemed necessary for a long flight, Mickelson explained.

B-2 Mission

As a stealth bomber engineered during the height of the Cold War, the B-2 was designed to elude Soviet air defenses and strike enemy targets – without an enemy ever knowing the aircraft was even there. This stealthy technological ability is referred to by industry experts as being able to evade air defenses using both high-frequency “engagement” radar, which can target planes, and lower frequency “surveillance” radar which can let enemies know an aircraft is in the vicinity.

The B-2 is described as a platform which can operate undetected over enemy territory and, in effect, “knock down the door” by destroying enemy radar and air defenses so that other aircraft can fly through a radar “corridor” and attack.

However, enemy air defenses are increasingly becoming technologically advanced and more sophisticated; some emerging systems are even able to detect some stealth aircraft using systems which are better networked, using faster computer processors and able to better detect aircraft at longer distances on a greater number of frequencies.

The Air Force plans to operate the B-2 alongside its new, now-in-development bomber called the Long Range Strike – Bomber, or LRS-B. well into the 2050s.

B-2 Modernization Upgrades – Taking the Stealth Bomber Into the 2050s

As a result, the B-2 fleet is undergoing a series of modernization upgrades in order to ensure the aircraft can remain at its ultimate effective capability for the next several decades, Mickelson said.

One of the key upgrades is called the Defensive Management System, a technology which helps inform the B-2 crew about the location of enemy air defenses. As a result, if there are emerging air defenses equipped with the technology sufficient to detect the B-2, the aircraft will have occasion to maneuver in such a way as to stay outside of its range.

The Defensive Management System is slated to be operational by the mid-2020s, Mickelson added.

“The whole key is to give us better situational awareness so we are able to make sound decisions in the cockpit about where we need to put the aircraft,” he added.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Photo by U.S. Air Force

The B-2 is also moving to an extremely high frequency satellite in order to better facilitate communications with command and control. For instance, the communications upgrade could make it possible for the aircraft crew to receive bombing instructions from the President in the unlikely event of a nuclear detonation.

“This program will help with nuclear and conventional communications. It will provide a very big increase in the bandwidth available for the B-2, which means an increased speed of data flow. We are excited about this upgrade,” Mickelson explained.

The stealth aircraft uses a commonly deployed data link called LINK-16 and both UHF and VHF data links, as well. Michelson explained that the B-2 is capable of communicating with ground control stations, command and control headquarters and is also able to receive information from other manned and unmanned assets such as drones.

Information from nearby drones, however, would at the moment most likely need to first transmit through a ground control station. That being said, emerging technology may soon allow platforms like the B-2 to receive real-time video feeds from nearby drones in the air.

The B-2 is also being engineered with a new flight management control processor designed to expand and modernize the on-board computers and enable the addition of new software.

This involves the re-hosting of the flight management control processors, the brains of the airplane, onto much more capable integrated processing units. This results in the laying-in of some new fiber optic cable as opposed to the mix bus cable being used right now – because the B-2’s computers from the 80s are getting maxed out and overloaded with data, Air Force officials told Scout Warrior.

The new processor increases the performance of the avionics and on-board computer systems by about 1,000-times, he added. The overall flight management control processor effort, slated to field by 2015 and 2016, is expected to cost $542 million.

B-2 Weapons Upgrades

The comprehensive B-2 upgrades also include efforts to outfit the attack aircraft with next generation digital nuclear weapons such as the B-61 Mod 12 with a tail kit and Long Range Stand-Off weapon or, LRSO, an air-launched, guided nuclear cruise missile, service officials said.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Photo by Jordon R. Beesley | US Navy

The B-61 Mod 12 is an ongoing modernization program which seeks to integrate the B-61 Mods 3, 4, 7 and 10 into a single variant with a guided tail kit. The B-61 Mod 12 is being engineered to rely on an inertial measurement unit for navigation.

In addition to the LRSO, B83 and B-61 Mod 12, the B-2 will also carry the B-61 Mod 11, a nuclear weapon designed with penetration capabilities, Air Force officials said.

The LRSO will replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM, which right now is only carried by the B-52 bomber, officials said.

Alongside its nuclear arsenal, the B-2 will carry a wide range of conventional weapons to include precision-guided 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, 5,000-pound JDAMs, Joint Standoff Weapons, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles and GBU 28 5,000-pound bunker buster weapons, among others.

The platform is also preparing to integrate a long-range conventional air-to-ground standoff weapon called the JASSM-ER, for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Extended Range.

The B-2 can also carry a 30,000-pound conventional bomb known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, Mickelson added.

“This is a GBU-28 (bunker-buster weapon) on steroids. It will go in and take out deeply buried targets,” he said.

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That time Japanese soldiers cannibalized US pilots in World War II

In 1944, pilots shot down over Chichi Jima Island in the Pacific were captured and executed by the Japanese before being turned into gruesome dishes for the soldiers defending the island.


This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Photo: US Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation

The U.S. Navy bombed and shelled the Bonin Islands from late 1944 to early 1945 in anticipation of the invasion of Iwo Jima and the eventual attack on Tokyo. One of the islands, Chichi Jima, had a small airfield, crack anti-aircraft gunners, and communications that supported Japanese positions on other islands.

A number of planes were shot down while attacking Chichi, including one piloted by Navy Lt. (and future President) George H. W. Bush. Bush was rescued by a submarine and was one of the few aviators to go down around Chichi and survive.

A more grisly fate awaited at least four of the 20 Americans who bailed out near the island. Japanese defenders were led by navy Rear Adm. Kunizo Mori and army Maj. Gen. Yoshio Tachibana who approved executions and allowed cannibalism on the island.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Australian Sgt. Leonard G. Siffleet is executed by a Japanese soldier in World War II. Photo: Australian War Memorial

Tachibana, with the approval of Mori, had the American prisoners executed by beheading. The day after an early execution, a Japanese major had flesh of the executed prisoner prepared for a feast. The island doctor removed a liver and a portion of the human thigh.

The body of the flyer was served at a large, alcohol fueled banquet that night.

The practice continued on the island for some time, and at least four victims were partially or fully eaten.

Marve Mershon, Floyd Hall, Jimmy Dye, and Warren Earl Vaughn were all victims of the practice, according to James Bradley in his book, “Flyboys.”

American aviators weren’t the only ones to fall victim to Japanese troops practicing cannibalism. Chinese, Australian, and Indian troops were all executed and eaten by Japanese soldiers.

In some cases, including those of the Americans on Chichi Jima, the leaders responsible were tried for war crimes and executed. Tachibana was hanged for his part in the atrocities.

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The namesake of Tinker Air Force Base was a total badass

Clarence L. Tinker wasn’t always an airman, but he was always a warrior. I don’t mean that in the way that we call everyone in the military a “warrior” these days. I mean Tinker was not only an infantry officer, he was an Osage warrior from Oklahoma, and it makes perfect sense that the Air Force Base in Oklahoma City is named after him.

Spoiler alert: Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker was killed in World War II. He was actually the first general officer to die in the war. Before flying his last mission, however, he had the storied career of an old-school badass. 

Tinker was born on the Osage nation in Oklahoma in 1887. He grew up speaking his native language and living like an Osage. He loved the old stories about Osage warriors and the Osage scouts who rode with American cavalry units. Though he had a traditional upbringing, he attended federally-funded schools for Native Americans, including Missouri’s Wentworth Military Academy, where his career began. 

After a stint in the Philippine Constabulary, a national police force designed to take over the duties of Spain’s Guardia Civil during the American occupation of the islands, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army infantry in 1912. 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
United States military man Clarence L. Tinker. The first Native American Major General in the United States Army, he was the first American general killed in World War II, at the Battle of Midway. Tinker Air Force Base was named in his honor. Photo: Creative Commons.

He never made it to the trenches of World War I, but within a year after the war’s end, he was training for the future of the Army: the Air Service. He started flying lessons in 1919 and was officially transferred to the Air Service in 1922. 

After graduating from the Army’s Command and General Staff School in 1926, he became the Assistant Military Attaché for Aviation in London. Shortly after arriving in Britain, he was flying with the U.S. Naval Attaché when the plane started having engine trouble. It went down near some cliffs and burst into flames.

Tinker, dazed, got up from the burning fuselage and ran clear. When he realized that his co-pilot was still in the flames, he went to rescue the unconscious man. Despite terrible burns and flames so hot that he couldn’t get closer at times, he managed to pull the man out and clear.

He would become the Commandant of the Air Corps Flying School in Texas, and would lead countless air units as their commander. By October 1940, he was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shook the islands’ defensive posture, the Army sent Tinker to command the 7th Air Force and reorganize Hawaii’s defenses. 

Like many airmen and Army generals in the Air Corps, Tinker believed that air power was the future of warfare and only a strong air force would turn the Japanese back, end the threat of Japanese aggression through long-range bombing and ultimately bring the Japanese Empire to its knees. 

In 1942, Tinker was promoted to Maj. Gen. Tinker, becoming the first Native American to hold the rank and the highest ranking Native in the Army. He finally got his chance to show what strategic long-range bombing could do in combat in the Pacific Theater, but it would also be his undoing. 

During the Battle of Midway, Tinker decided to fly a squadron of B-24 Liberator Bombers to meet the retreating Japanese ships, and deliver a heavier blow than their loss at MidWay already was. Somewhere along the way, his fellow airmen watched in horror as Tinker’s plane dove out of control and crashed into the ocean below. 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
B-24 Bomber. Wikimedia Commons

Tinker and his 10 crew members were never found. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and six months after his death, the airfield in Oklahoma City was named Tinker Field, soon to be Tinker Air Force Base. 

To this day, Osage natives sing songs about the Osage warriors who served in the U.S. military. Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker has a song of his own. 

Featured photo: Tinker Air Force Base/Air Force Photo; inset: Clarence Tinker, Wikimedia Commons

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Air Force declares the F-35A ‘ready for war’

The largest buyer of America’s most expensive weapons program just declared it ready for war.


“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” US Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said on a call with reporters.

“The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield,” Carlisle said.

Of the sister-service branches, the Air Force has been the most bullish on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II’s combat capabilities.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Fun Fact: The F-35 actually runs on a money-based fuel.

The 15 Air Force F-35A jets, and 21 combat-mission-ready pilots from Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron, represent a significant breakthrough for the weapons program, which began development 15 years ago and has been offset by design flaws, cost overruns, and technical challenges.

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program’s executive officer, said that the Air Force’s decision to declare the F-35A’s initial operational capability (IOC) “sends a simple and powerful message to America’s friends and foes alike, the F-35 can do its mission.”

“The roads leading to IOC for both services were not easy and these accomplishments are tangible testaments to the positive change happening in the F-35 program,” Bogdan said.

As the Air Force is buying nearly 70% of the fifth-generation jets being made domestically — 1,763 of 2,443 aircraft — the Air Force sets the economies of scale for the tri-service fighter, with each plane costing a cool $100 million.

Lockheed Martin, considered a bellwether for the US defense sector, is expected to generate nearly a fifth of its $50 billion in 2016 sales solely from the F-35 program.

In the company’s latest quarter, the defense giant posted net sales in its aeronautics business up 6%, or $244 million — compared to the same period in 2015.

The Pentagon’s top weapons supplier is also building the “jack of all trades” aircraft for the UK, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, Japan, and South Korea.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Behold, the F-35. | Lockheed Martin

Even though the Air Force is operating the oldest fleet in its history, it’s not the first of the sister-service branches to declare its variant combat-ready.

Last summer, the US Marine Corps was the first of the military branches to declare initial operational capability for 10 F-35B jets.

“There were a lot of people out here in the press that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC because it would be politically untenable not to do that,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation, said during a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on the readiness and future trajectory of Marine aviation.

“IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat. That’s not a decision I was gonna take lightly, nor Gen. Dunford,” Davis said, referring to Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

The US Navy variant, the F-35C, is scheduled to reach IOC by February 2019.

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This Somali war criminal has been guarding Dulles Airport for the last 20 years

As if you needed another reason to avoid what is widely considered the DC-area’s worst option in terms of airports, a CNN investigation revealed that one of Dulles International Airport’s security guards is a Somali man wanted for war crimes.


Yusuf Abdi Ali has lived in the area of Alexandria, Virginia for the past 20 years. He has been employed by the airport, one of an estimated 1,000 war criminals living and working in the United States.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
CNN video still of Ali on duty at Dulles

Everyone employed by Master Security, Dulles’ security contractor, undergoes “the full, federally mandated vetting process in order to be approved for an airport badge,” the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told ABC News. The process includes a background check by the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration. Master Security employees working at Dulles must also be licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the state in which Dulles is located.

“We have verified that all of these processes were followed and approved in this instance,” MWAA said in a statement.

Ali is the subject of a lawsuit from The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) on behalf of his alleged victims. He is accused of torturing people, burning villages, and conducting mass executions during The Somali Civil War from 1986 – 1991. Ali denies all accusations listed in the CJA lawsuit.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Yusuf Abdi Ali in a Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary about his a

Ali was a military commander under the regime of Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. He fled Somalia after the fall of the regime, eventually ending up in the United States in 1996.

The suit was dismissed by a circuit court which found the case lacked jurisdictional authority. A higher ruling allowed the suit to proceed and it is now waiting for review by the Supreme Court to determine if foreigners living in the U.S. can be held accountable for crimes committed abroad.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Ali in uniform under the Barre regime.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials estimate at least 360 arrests of human rights violators in the U.S. in the past 12 years. ICE has also deported more than 780 such cases. According to CNN, they currently have 125 active investigations. Ali’s airport credentials have been revoked and he is on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation.

 

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These are the 9 general officers who have earned five stars

Even though the five-star general rank essentially died in 1981 with Omar Bradley, the idea of a five-star general rising above all others to command so much of the American and allied militaries is remarkably heroic.


The five-star general officer was born in WWII because American generals and admirals were often placed above allied officers of a higher rank. Someone elevated to that position could never retire and was considered an active-duty officer for the rest of their life.

That’s a lot of trust. The list of the 9 officers we deemed worthy of the honor rightly reads like a “who’s who” of U.S. military history.

1. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
How many WWII-era Admirals were issued that hat?

Leahy was the first officer to make the rank. He was the senior officer in the U.S. Navy and the senior-most officer in the U.S. military. He retired in 1939 but was recalled to active duty as the Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt and then Truman until 1949. During the latter years of his career, he reported only to the President.

2. General of the Army George Marshall

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Gen. Marshall looks like he’s already sick of your shit.

George Marshall was a major planner of the U.S. Army’s training for World War I and one of Gen. John J. Pershing’s aides-de-camp. He would need those planning skills when World War II broke out, as he oversaw the expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces and the coordination of U.S. efforts in the European Theater. After the war it was Marshall who helped rebuild Western Europe with an economic plan that came to be named after the man himself.

3. Fleet Admiral Ernest King

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

King was the Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces (the U.S. now only uses the term “Commander-In-Chief” to refer to the President) and the Chief of Naval Operations. Though he never commanded a ship or fleet during a war, as the Navy representative of the Joint Chiefs, he helped plan and coordinate Naval Operations during WWII.

4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

MacArthur graduated from West Point in 1903, fought in the occupation of Veracruz, World War I, and resisted the Japanese invasion of the Philippines for six months during WWII. MacArthur, despite having to retreat to Australia, oversaw the defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific and accepted their surrender less than four years later.

He would also orchestrate the occupation and rehabilitation of Japan, and the American counterattack during the early months of the Korean War.

5. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Even though he looks sad, Chester Nimitz will f***ing kill you.

Nimitz was the Navy’s leading authority on submarine warfare at the outbreak of World War II.  He would rise to be Commander-in-Chief of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and eventually take control of all U.S. forces in the Pacific Theater. He served the Navy on Active Duty in an unofficial capacity until his death in 1966.

6. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
“Hitler! Macho Man Dwight Eisenhower coming for youuuuuu OHHHHH YEAHHHHHHH.”

Ike never saw combat as a soldier, but his planning skills were essential as Supreme Allied Commander of all allied expeditionary forces in Europe during World War II. He planned and executed the invasion of North Africa in 1943, and of course the D-Day invasion of France in 1944. After the war, Eisenhower was the first Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and was elected President in 1952.

7. General of the Army and Air Force Henry H. Arnold

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

“Hap” Arnold is the only officer ever to hold two five-star ranks in multiple branches and is the only person to ever to be General of the Air Force.

Before WWII, Arnold was the Chief of the Air Corps and became commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces when war broke out. He was one of the first military pilots ever, being trained by the freaking Wright Brothers themselves.

If Billy Mitchell is the Father of the Air Force, Hap Arnold helped raise it — he took a small organization and turned it into the world’s largest and most powerful air force during the WWII years.

8. Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
That is one salty sailor.

“Bull” Halsey started World War II harassing Japanese fleet movements in the Pacific in his flagship, the Enterprise. He was later made commander of all U.S. forces in the South Pacific and commander of the Navy’s third fleet. Halsey earned his status after the war ended but took the Navy on a goodwill cruise of friendly countries

9. General of the Army Omar Bradley

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

As mentioned, Omar Bradley was the last surviving five-star general, dying in 1981. He fought alongside the U.S. Army’s greatest all under the command of Dwight Eisenhower. He excelled during the D-Day landings and subsequent European campaigns. He eventually commanded 1.3 million fighting men as they invaded fortress Europe — the largest assembly of U.S. troops under a single commander.

* General of the Armies of the United States John J. Pershing

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

Pershing was promoted to this rank and title in 1919, though no official rank insignia existed at the time. It was made by Congress to recognize his role in the American entry into World War I in Europe.

* Admiral of the Navy George Dewey

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

Dewey received the title “Admiral of the Navy” by act of Congress in 1903. Admiral Dewey’s service during the Spanish-American War made him a national hero and celebrity.

* General of the Armies of the United States George Washington

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

President Gerald Ford promoted Washington to this rank and title — essentially a six-star general — in 1976 to always ensure Washington would be the senior-most officer of any group.

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The Marine Corps’ F-35B is practicing in Nevada for future combat

For the first time ever, Marine Corps aviators will fly their short-takeoff and vertical landing version of the F-35 Lightning II in one of the world’s most intense aerial combat training exercises, the Red Flag Exercise in Nevada.


The F-35Bs will be focusing on flight safety and how to best employ the plane’s current suite of weapons and tools and will not seek to engage targets within visual range, 2nd Lt. Casey Littesy, a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing spokesperson, told the Marine Corps Times.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
A US Marine Corps F-35B conducts a short take-off and vertical landing exercise in Oct. 2013. Photo: US Air Force Samuel King

All friendly fighters in the exercise go up against American jets and surface-to-air missiles tweaked to provide realistic training that simulates a war with a near-peer rival such as Russia or China. These advanced threats from rival nations are the exact adversaries that the F-35 — and its sibling, the F-22 Raptor — were designed to fly against.

A hot debate rages over whether the F-35s will work as advertised against advanced fighters, like Russia’s PAK FA, China’s J-20 and ground threats like the S-400 and HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems. Red Flag — which runs from July 11-29 — represents one of the Corps’ best chances to see how the F-35B can play in airspace that an enemy is trying to control or take.

Red Flag trainers have even begun folding cyber attacks into the exercise, meaning F-35B pilots will have to deal with attacks on their network. But this could actually be a prime area for the F-35 to shine.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
The F-35 can connect to most any friendly force on the battlefield, feeding information from its sensors to friendlies and grabbing information from other planes and sensors. (Graphic: Lockheed Martin)

The Lightning II is outfitted with top-tier sensors, advanced software that sorts and compiles information and network capabilities that allow it to connect to other combatants. That means the F-35B may be able to ferry information for others when the battlefield network is attacked.

This isn’t the first time the Marines have taken the F-35B out of the stable and put it through its paces. The plane has been folded into the Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructors course, an intense school for elite pilots that tests the F-35B and its operators.

During a recent test, 30 F-35Bs ran an exercise against 24 aggressor aircraft. Legacy aircraft that have attempted the test suffered losses of between 33 and 50 percent of their aircraft, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said during Congressional testimony on July 6. The F-35B chewed through the enemy instead, killing all 24 without suffering a single loss.

Detractors of the program believe that these battlefield exercises are either stacked in the F-35’s favor or that the results were tweaked or outright fabricated. The debate will likely continue until the Lightning II is first sent to war. Until then, it’s the Marine Corps’ job to make sure F-35B aviators are ready for that call.

(h/t Marine Corps Times)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marine F-35s fly 5,000 miles, join new UK aircraft carrier

Six U.S. Marine Corps F-35 jets flew more than 5,000 miles to join their British counterparts as the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier prepares for its first worldwide deployment.

The F-35B fighter jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, the “Wake Island Avengers,” flew from their home base in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, in Arizona, to Royal Air Force base Lakenheath.

From there, they joined the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 21, in a series of NATO exercises in the North Sea. They will be flying alongside 617 Squadron, the “Dambusters,” a joint Royal Air Force-Royal Navy unit that also flies the F-35B. The combined US-UK wing will be the largest 5th generation carrier air wing in the world.

“Moving the Marines, aircraft and equipment to the United Kingdom required coordinated planning, complex logistical effort, diligent maintenance and seamless execution,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew D’Ambrogi, the commanding officer of VMFA-211, said in a press release.

“Now that we have arrived in the United Kingdom, we are reintegrating with our UK counterparts and focused on providing both the commodore of CSG-21 and US combatant commanders with ready, combat-capable, 5th-generation aircraft.”

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21 “The Wake Island Avengers” conduct carrier qualifications in F-35 jets aboard Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth at sea off the coast of the United Kingdom (UK) on 02 May, 2021 (1st Lt. Zachary Bodner).

Carrer Strike Group 21 will be sailing in its inaugural worldwide deployment later in the year. The inclusion of the VMFA-211 in the British order of battle will mark the first operational deployment of a combined US-UK F-35 air wing.

“We have no closer ally than the United Kingdom. Together, we stand committed to protecting our shared security, addressing security challenges in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and reaffirming our steadfast commitment to the NATO alliance,” Yael Lempert, the U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires in London, said.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
F-35 jets assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 “The Wake Island Avengers” and the United Kingdom’s Lightning 617 Squadron shortly after embarking onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth (Royal Navy Photograph by LPhot Belinda Alker)

HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, are the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carriers. After several years without an aircraft carrier capability, the British Armed Forces decided to invest again in the concept. The last time British aircraft carriers saw operational use was in the first Gulf War in 1990-91. Before that conflict, British aircraft carriers had been pivotal in the recapturing of the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War with Argentina in 1982.

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Iranian speedboats just harassed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Hormuz

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and a small boat participate in a simulated small boat attack exercise (SWARMEX) in 2004. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


Four speedboats from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps harassed the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) during a transit of the Strait of Hormuz earlier this week. The incident comes a month after Iranian officials talked tough about closing the maritime chokepoint if Iran was attacked.

Also read: The USS Squall fired shots after an ‘incident’ with Iranian navy ships

According to a report from FoxNews.com, at least two of the speedboats came within 300 yards of the destroyer. The Nitze reportedly tried to communicate with the Iranian vessels a dozen times but received no response before the close pass. The destroyer fired warning flares and sounded its whistle five times in an effort to warn off the Iranian vessels, which approached with uncovered weapons. The speedboats in question appeared to have heavy machine guns mounted forward, and had them turned towards the destroyer.

“The Iranian high rate of closure on a United States ship operating in accordance with international law while transiting in international waters along with the disregard of multiple warning attempts created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures by Nitze,” an unidentified defense official told USNI’s blog.

The guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), a sister ship of the Nitze, was also making a transit of the Strait of Hormuz during the incident. The two 9,200-ton vessels are Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, with a single five-inch gun, a 32-cell Mk 41 VLS, a 64-cell VLS, a Mk 15 Close-In Weapon System, and two triple 324mm torpedo tube mounts.

The IRGC has been involved in past incidents, including the 2015 seizure of a Marshall Islands-flagged merchant vessel and the temporary detention of U.S. Navy sailors who strayed into Iranian waters this past January. That force also was involved in incidents in December 2007 and January 2008 where U.S. Navy ships were harassed in a similar manner during a transit of the Strait of Hormuz.

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THAAD now in place to take out North Korean missiles if required

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via Lockheed Martin


The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — and it appears to be headed to North Korea’s backyard.

On the heels of last month’s purported hydrogen-bomb test and a long-range rocket launch on Saturday, the US has apparently agreed to equip South Korea with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, according to CNN.

With its unmatched precision, Lockheed Martin’s THAAD can equalize tensions around the world with its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement.

In order to deter North Korean provocations and further defend the Pacific region, the Pentagon deployed a THAAD battery toGuam in April 2013.

However, after the rogue regime’s most recent launch, the US has reportedly agreed to deploy the THAAD to South Korea — which would counter almost all incoming missiles from the North.

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Heritage.org

The pressure to deploy THAAD is rapidly mounting, as US defense officials have cited North Korean missile developments.

In October, Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, assessed that North Korean has “the capability to reach the [US] homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket,” The Guardian reported.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the United States Forces Korea, a sub-unified command of the US Pacific Command, told a forum in 2014 that placing THAAD in the country is a “US initiative.”

Discussions to equip South Korea with THAAD were held during South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the White House last October.

THAAD’s ‘hit to kill’ lethal effects

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AiirSource Military | YouTube

The THAAD missile does not carry a warhead. Instead, the interceptor missile uses pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit to kill” strikes to incoming ballistic threats inside or outside the atmosphere.

Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles at once, depending on the severity of the threat.

Lockheed’s missile launcher is just one element of the antimissile system.

The graphic below, from Raytheon, shows the rest of the equipment needed for each enemy-target interception.

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via Raytheon

How THAAD works

Five minutes after an enemy missile takes off, a truck-mounted THAAD interceptor missile launches in pursuit of its target.

This is a close shot of what the THAAD missile looks like when launched:

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Lockheed Martin | YouTube

And here’s what the launch looks like from far away:

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Lockheed Martin | YouTube

THAAD’s missile hunts for its target, then obliterates it in the sky.

The following infrared imagery shows THAAD demolishing the target:

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Lockheed Martin | YouTube

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from MDA director Vice Admiral J.D. Syring before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the US Missile Defense Agency, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

Other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD.

The United Arab Emirates has become the first foreign buyer after signing a deal with the Department of Defense for $3.4 billion. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have “expressed interest,” according to Richard McDaniel, vice president of Patriot Advanced Capability programs at Lockheed Martin. “We expect deals,” he added.

The UAE seems like a particularly appropriate buyer: In September, 45 of its troops deployed near Yemen were killed when an enemy missile struck an arms depot, a reminder of the strategic challenge of ballistic missiles falling into the wrong hands.

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22 mind-blowing confessions from around the military

Whisper is a mobile app which allows its users to post anonymous messages (called “Whispers”) out into the ether and receive replies from other users who might be interested in what they have to say. The messages are text superimposed over a (presumably) related photo to illustrate the point.


A recent update allowed Whispers to be categorized into a few firm subcategories: Confessions, LGBTQ, NSFW, QA, Faith and Military. Military members and those with an interest in the military can “anonymously” (quotes because the app still tracks users with their phone’s GPS) post their thoughts, feelings, and interactions with military members. For better or for worse, we compiled some of the more colorful Whispers.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
She’s on to us.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
He’ll probably show up in his blues and full size National Defense Medal.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
You’re in luck, buddy.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
You’re a future sailor for Captain Morgan, sh*tbag.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
He just hopes you’re not pregnant.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Kentucky National Guard?

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
We have enough women like you to deal with as it is.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
There’s always the Army.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
A reminder for Marines at Lejeune to always look their finest at the Exchange.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
This guy has all 100 problems.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
It’s too late for you already.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
#Goals

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
We roll our eyes at typos.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Rip-Its and Beef Jerky are part of this balanced breakfast.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Today might be the day you get out.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
#MOTO

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
If that’s all you can think, we can’t wait for you to get out either.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Weed is that good, apparently.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
The Army only clothes us and feeds us, but I hate it.

 

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
Everyone who enlists knows exactly what it will be like for six years. Sack up, military men!

NOW: The 13 funniest memes of the week

OR: The US military took these incredible photos this week

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5 of the best ways to camp like a grunt

Grunts, the poster boys of the Marine Corps and the Army, go to the field on a regular basis. Camouflage is not just functional, its cool. The easy way or the hard way, these warfighters learn a few tricks over time. This is what you can do to infantry-fy your camping experience in the wilderness.

  1. Buy a tiny chair

You can go all out on folding chairs, cup holders, pouches, and Knick knacks. If the occasion calls for comfort, then by all means go for it. However, I recommend buying a tiny, folding stool. Mobility is the key to camping like a Grunt. Sure, you could bring a comfortable folding chair to the field op on active duty, but that doesn’t mean you should. Essentially because they’re cumbersome if you want to do the following tip.

2. Hike a ridiculous distance

An infantryman’s feet are his Cadillac, they will take you anywhere you need to go. Bring some hygiene gear for your feet and pick a point off the grid. National Parks are the best for this because you will have picture perfect scenery to enjoy. Teddy Roosevelt loved to just disappear into the mountains.

One time when I was in Djabouti, Africa during a M.E.U. deployment (Marine Expeditionary Unit), we got a half day of down time at the end of an extended field op. We were given a magazine of rounds, a radio, and free reign to explore or hang out. My friends and I decided to climb a mountain and we found some ancient graffiti carved onto a cliff face, a cave used by nomads, and a goat carcass we threw off the peak to see what would happen. We were 19 get off my back!

camping
(picture of me on said mountain in Djabouti)

3. Identify wildlife

camping
All that’s missing is a cold one and some s’mores.

Grunts love wildlife. Sometimes a little too much and suddenly the platoon has a pet camel. It’s fun to figure out what something is and watch it life in it’s natural habitat. Do not go full Grunt, don’t ever go full Grunt and mess with the wildlife. Not only is it dangerous for the animal it can be potentially deadly if it’s poisonous. Gear fails in the field all the time, so, don’t expect your cellphone to work to call for help.

4. Shoot something

If it’s allowed to discharge a firearm for hunting or practice, shooting things is a great way to get the Grunt experience. That line from Apocalypse Now ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning.’ is oddly accurate. Switch out napalm for gunpower and you’re going to have a good time. Personally, the smell went great with breakfast. It should go without saying but employ safety measures, it is a weapon after all.

5. Copious amount of cigarettes and booze

Okay, maybe not that much booze and smokes but infantry culture in the field is smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Obviously, if there is a fire restriction do not break the law. Also, booze is sometimes allowed in the field but under very rare conditions. One time it was the captain’s birthday, and he had some beers shipped out to the troops. Two beers per Marine, hey, we wanted to have a good time not ruin our lives. It was surprise to be sure but a welcomed one.

As a civilian, the best perk is to be able to drink liberally outside your tent by a fire. So, crack a cold one for the troops the next time you’re out there camping, surrounded by nature.

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Former US Navy vessel attacked by Yemeni rebels in Indian Ocean

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HSV-2 Swift came under attack off the coast of Yemen this past weekend and suffered serious damage from what appears to be multiple hits from RPG rockets. Photos released by Emirates News Agency show at least two hits from rockets that penetrated HSV-2 Swift’s bow, in addition to substantial fire damage.

According to media reports, HSV-2 Swift is being assisted by the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94) as well as USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15). The vessel is currently being towed away from Yemen.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified

HSV-2 Swift was acquired by the Navy from Incat, a shipbuilder in Tasmania, in 2003, where it served for a number of years in Pacific Command, European Command, and Southern Command until 2013, when the first Joint High-Speed Vessel, USS Spearhead (JSHV 1) replaced it. During its deployments, HSV-2 Swift primarily carried out humanitarian missions, including for relief efforts in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. The vessel also took part in a number of deployments, like Southern Partnership Station while in U.S. service.

This look inside the B-2 Bomber is so detailed it should be classified
HSV-2 Swift in happier times. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

In 2013, the vessel was returned to Incom, where it was refitted and then acquired by the National Marine Dredging Company in the United Arab Emirates, where the ship was used to deliver humanitarian aid. HSV-2 Swift was on such a mission to not only deliver medical supplies but to extract wounded civilians when it was attacked this past weekend. Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, claimed to have sunk the vessel.

HSV-2 Swift displaces 955 tons of water, has a top speed of 45 knots, and has a crew of 35. The vessel can carry over 600 tons of cargo on  nearly 29,000 square foot deck.

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