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V-22 Osprey Rockin’ Rockets Now

V-22 Osprey Rockin’ Rockets Now
V-22 from VMMT-203 test firing laser-guided rockets at Yuma Proving Grounds. (Photo: Bell Helicopter)


Bell Boeing recently test fired laser-guided rockets from the V-22 Osprey aircraft in a series of mock combat demonstrations at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., showing for the first time that the tiltrotor aircraft can be used for offensive missile and rocket attacks.

The forward-firing flights at Yuma shot a range of guided and unguided rockets from the Osprey, including laser-guided folding-fin, Hyrda-70 Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets and laser-guided Griffin B missiles, Bell helicopter officials said.

“The forward-firing demonstration was a great success,” Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22 said in a written statement. “We’ve shown the V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability.”

Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 tiltrotor for the Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 for Air Force Special Operations Command.  Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013, company officials said.

V-22 Osprey aircraft have been deployed in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The aircraft are often used for humanitarian assistance, casualty recovery, medical evacuation, VIP transport and raid missions. If the Marines or Air Force choose to use the rocket or missile capability, the Osprey will gain additional offensive attack mission possibilities.

“Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set,” Tobin continued. “These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points, or FARPs, which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice.”

More at Military.com:

Tricare To Cover Breastfeeding Supplies

2015 Military Pay Raise Likely 1 Percent

Pentagon Launches New Future Weapons Research Effort

 

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One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

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An F-35B using its central lifting fan to perform a vertical landing | Lockheed Martin photo


The US Air Force’s push to develop operational flying saucers 60 years ago laid the conceptual groundwork for one of the variants of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, MIT Technology Review reports.

The F-35 comes in three variants, with key mechanical differences for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy – the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C respectively.

Of the three models, the F-35B is the most technologically different.

Unlike the F-35A and F-35C, the Marines needed their variant to be capable of conducting short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.

This request necessitated that the F-35B be given a lifting fan. And, as Desire Francine G. Fedrigo, Ricardo Gobato, Alekssander Gobato note in a paper at the Cornell University Library, the F-35B’s lifting fan has its conceptual roots in flying saucers.

Between 1954 and 1961, the US Air Force spent $10 million attempting to develop a flying saucer that became known as an Avrocar. The Avrocar was a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) saucer that was powered by one giant central fan.

Despite its seven years of development, the Air Force failed to make the Avrocar into a mission capable vehicle that could potentially replace helicopters.

MIT Technology Review notes that the aircraft was “hot and almost unbearably uncomfortable for the pilot. And it demonstrated various idiosyncrasies such as taking five seconds to turn 90 degrees to the left but 11 seconds to turn the same amount to the right, presumably because of its central rotating fan.”

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An Avrocar during flight testing. | Wikimedia Commons

However, despite the Avrocars’ failings, the technology did point researchers towards the feasibility of developing and embedding a central lift fan turbine within an aircraft for variations of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.

“The concept of a lift fan, driven by a turbojet engine is not dead, and lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender,” Fedrigo notes, adding that the conceptual framework of the Avrocar helped General Electric’s own development of a booster fan propulsion system.

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US Air Force

Whereas the Avrocar’s development ultimately failed, though, GE’s “Vertifan” went on to prove the concept of successful lifting fan technology. This in turn lead to a DARPA sponsored development challenge that gave birth to lifting fans being used in the F-35B.

The F-35B was declared ready for combat by the Marine Corps on July 31.

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This is how the ‘Molotov Cocktail’ got its name

The infamous Molotov Cocktail got its start in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 when Soviet-backed forces with a large number of tanks were met by forces wielding glass jars with blankets or drapes wrapped around the lid and set on fire.


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A German Panzer II burns after being hit by a Molotov Cocktail on April 30, 1941. (Photo: Australian Armed Forces)

But the improvised weapons wouldn’t get their name until the Winter War of 1939 when Soviet forces invaded Finland. As international protests against the invasion mounted, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslev Molotov claimed that Russian aircraft were dropping humanitarian aid, not bombs.

The incendiary bombs that the Russians were dropping became known as “Molotov’s Bread Baskets,” and so the Finns decided to greet them with “Molotov Cocktails.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt9a7M2oRiA
The rebels took the weapon formerly used in Spain and perfected it. Some earlier versions used fuel that was too thin, causing it to burn out too quickly, so the Finns added thickening agents like tar. And the Finns preferred to use a bottle with some air inside instead of the completely full jars that were common in Spain. The air gap in the bottles made them more likely to break.

But the Molotov Cocktails of 1939 were otherwise the same as their 1936 forebears. And they’re basically unchanged today. Breakable containers, usually glass, are thrown against tanks with a burning cloth either stuffed into the bottle or tied around it.

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Molotov Cocktails are still commonly used today, but it’s more likely to be used by rioters against police rather than soldiers against tanks. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Bryan Rankin)

The Cocktails are thrown against the tanks. Today, throwers either need to hit the intake or the fuel storage of the tank in order to really threaten it. During World War II, the treads of many tanks were propelled via rubber wheels which could be targeted and the crew was susceptible to cocktails thrown against the air intake for their cabin.

And of course, a tank with the hatches open becomes a rolling oven if someone gets a cocktail inside.

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This artist did a World War 2-Star Wars mashup and the result is intense

Thirteenth Floor is an Akron, Ohio art and clothing store whose run by Billy Ludwig, an artist working under the name Impale Design.


“All of the artwork is my own, Ludwig says. “Although my work can take on different styles and personalities, the majority of my work revolves around the paranormal and macabre.”

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He has a small staff who runs his Akron-based warehouse, from where they run their online store. Ludwig and Thirteenth Floor also sets up shop at Comic-Cons and horror conventions throughout the United States.

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“I was renting an old store front in Massillon, Ohio, our original location,” Ludwig recalls. “[It was] as a rehearsal studio, and I decided to convert it into an art gallery to sell my artwork along with other regional artists.”

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Ludwig has been a Star Wars fan since he was able to say the word “Star Wars.” He was inspired to create a signature poster series, merging World War II imagery with imagery from Star Wars.

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“Many of George Lucas’ concepts for Star Wars came from WWII,” he says. “I thought it would be interesting to combine the two. It was just something I did for fun, and over time has gained quite a large following.”

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Ludwig is currently creating a fourth series of posters, and plans to create some interesting surprises for his series and for the fans who frequent his work.

Check out Thirteenth Floor’s Instagram and Website for more beyond the “SWVSWWII” Series.

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21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger

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The 75th Ranger Regiment is an elite airborne light infantry unit, falling under the U.S. Special Operations Command.

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Though headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Ranger regiment has three active Ranger battalions and one Special Troops Battalion, stationed at different bases in the U.S.

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The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalions have approximately 600 men in each of its ranks, according to American Special Ops.

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With an increasingly fast op-tempo in a post-9/11 world, Rangers have stood out amongst their special ops peers as the experts in pulling off raids. “On multiple occasions, my teammates pulled terrorists out of their beds and flex cuffed them before they even woke up. That’s how precise Rangers have become in this war,” one Ranger wrote on the website SOFREP.

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But before any soldier can make it within the regiment, they need to go through some of the toughest training the military has to offer.

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For most soldiers, that training pipeline begins with the Ranger Assessment and Selection Programs. Once complete, soldiers will be assigned to the regiment and be authorized to wear its distinctive tan beret.

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While they are then authorized to wear the unit scroll of the 75th, they still need to attend the 8.5 week Ranger School if they want to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

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The Army calls the 61-day Ranger School “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school” it has to offer.

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According to American Special Ops, students train for about 20 hours per day on two (or fewer) meals while sometimes carrying upwards of 90 pounds of gear. By the end of the course, they will hike or patrol approximately 200 miles.

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All will learn to memorize the Ranger Creed, an oath which embodies the elite soldiers’ ethos of never leaving a comrade behind, to never surrender, uphold Ranger history, and always complete the mission.

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The Regiment traces its lineage back to World War II. They were held in special regard after the Normandy landings, when 225 Rangers scaled cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc on June 6, 1944 under intense enemy fire. “The Rangers pulled themselves over the top,” President Ronald Reagan said of the men, in 1984. “And in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe.”

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Rangers have distinguished themselves on many battlefields since then, to include places like Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, and most recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Rangers in Vietnam


Like other special operations units, Rangers yield a variety of skills, weapons, and can conduct operations in different environments. They can hit a target on land,

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from the air …

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… and out of the water.

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Beyond formal schools like Ranger, Airborne, and Mountain Warfare, soldiers in the Regiment are often practicing their skills or taking part in real-world exercises when they are not deployed.

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Among its most recent high-profile missions, the 75th Ranger Regiment played a larger part in overthrowing the Taliban in 2002, and the invasion of Iraq.

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Rangers jumping into Afghanistan near Kandahar in 2002. (Photo: Youtube/screenshot)

They also helped rescue Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who was taken prisoner of war during the invasion.

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Though the Ranger Regiment is composed entirely of men, a number of women currently going through Ranger School who are poised to graduate may someday change that composition.

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That possibility is likely a long way off. But one thing is absolutely clear: The 75th Ranger Regiment, in keeping with its creed, will continue to lead the way into battle.

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NOW DON’T MISS: The history of the U.S. Navy SEALs

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How Tolkien’s war experience shaped ‘The Lord of the Rings’

 

“An author cannot, of course, remain wholly unaffected by his experience.”


These are the words of arguably the most influential writer of the 20th century and WWI veteran, John Ronald Reuel “J.R.R.” Tolkien.

In June 1916, the newly commissioned lieutenant kissed his newly married wife goodbye as he boarded the transport to Calais, France. Come July 1st, one of the bloodiest battles in human history took place near the Somme River. That day, his closest friend was killed and Tolkien forever changed.

Shouldering the burden of leadership and the ever looming threat of death, by disease or the enemy, Tolkien carried on. Ultimately, it was Trench Fever that sent him home ten days before the dust settled.

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Tolkien’s Battalion, The 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. (Photo via Wikicommons)

Deemed no longer medically fit for service, Tolkien returned to his passion: writing. The rest is history.

When the second edition of The Lord of the Rings was released, the foreword stated: “The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion.” Tolkien continued with, “But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.”

He hated direct comparisons of his works to real world events. No real world leader is Sauron. No real world army are the orcs. And the One Ring is not a reference to the nuclear bomb.

Much of the psychology and emotions of his works, however, did pull from his time on the battlefield, most notably with the Dead Marshes. In the second volume (and film) The Two Towers, the ghoulish Gollum lead the protagonist, Frodo Baggins, through a swamp full of bloated bodies under the mud and water.

Tolkien’s biography, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, explained that what Frodo experienced in the Marsh was specifically based on the Battle of the Somme where Tolkien saw countless bodies across the muddy battlefield.

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‘Somme 1 July 1916 Tragedy and Triumph’ by Andrew Robertshaw

Themes were also pulled from his leadership and the bravery of his men. Tolkien studied at Oxford and lead men from mining, milling, and weaving towns of Lancashire. In another biography, Tolkien and the Great War, Tolkien said he “felt an affinity for these working class men, but military protocol forbade him from developing friendships with ‘other ranks’.” This man-apart thematically affected many of the characters in his novels.

One of the largest changes from the novel to any film adaptation is the “Scouring of the Shire” and the mindset of Frodo after the war. In the final chapters of the last book, Saruman attacked the Shire and all of the townspeople had to defend their home.

Afterward, Frodo was left alone.

War changed him. Frodo couldn’t just return to being a happy, singing Hobbit like everyone else after the war. He’d been stabbed, poisoned, and lost a finger. Frodo, like Tolkien himself, had become “shell-shocked” after combat.

The forward of the 1991 release of The Lord of the Rings added another Tolkien quote: “The country in which I lived in childhood was being shabbily destroyed before I was ten. Recently I saw in a paper a picture of the last decrepitude of the once thriving corn-mill beside its pool that long ago seemed to me so important.”

Check out this video for more:

(YouTube | The Great War)

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Navy keeps T-45 Goshawk fleet on the ground

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces, is visiting T-45C training commands across the fleet April 6 to April 8 to address recent concerns.


Shoemaker is visiting Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, NAS Pensacola, Florida, and NAS Meridian, Mississippi, to talk face-to-face with instructor pilots and student pilots about their physiological episodes experienced in the cockpits of T-45C training aircraft. Shoemaker will listen to their concerns and communicate the ongoing efforts to tackle the problem.

On Friday, March 31, roughly 40 percent of flights in the T-45C training commands in Meridian, Pensacola and Kingsville were canceled because of the operational risk management issues raised by local IPs.

“Our instructor pilots were implementing a risk management practice we require they do prior to all flights,” Shoemaker explained. “It was important for me to come talk with my aviation team members and hear their concerns as we work this challenging issue together. We ask a lot of our pilots, and we owe it to them to ensure they understand we are doing everything we can to fix this problem and that they have access to top leadership.”

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A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 makes an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

“This will remain our top safety priority until we fully understand all causal factors and have eliminated PEs as a risk to our flight operations,” Shoemaker continued. “The NAE [Naval Aviation Enterprise] has been directed to expedite solutions for PEs and to prioritize those efforts.”

Engaging with aircrew face-to-face at their home stations is only the most recent in a series of activities undertaken by CNAF and the NAE to deal with PEs. Even before the concerns were raised by the pilots, CNATRA had scheduled expert engineers to visit the training sites and educate them on the ongoing efforts to fix the machines, and to enable the engineers to hear pilot feedback directly. The Navy implemented an operational pause for its T-45C fleet Wednesday at the direction of Shoemaker in response to the T-45C pilots’ feedback about the potential for PEs. That operational pause has been extended to allow Naval Aviation Leadership time to review the engineering data and developing a path forward for the fleet that will ensure the safety of its aircrew.

“We have the right team of NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command] program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commander Staffs, medical and physiological experts immersed in this effort working with the same sense of urgency to determine the root causes of PEs,” Shoemaker said.” To tackle this as effectively as possible, we are using an ‘unconstrained resources’ approach to the problem, meaning we have not been nor will we be limited by money or manpower as we diligently work toward solutions.”

As far back as 2010, NAVAIR established a Physiological Episode Team (PET) to collect data, investigate occurrences of PEs and coordinates with technical experts to identify and develop solutions based on root cause determinations. Naval Aviation has provided training and encouraged reporting of PEs since the development of the PET.

Finding the causes is a challenging problem on a complex, highly sophisticated platform. Though the number of components and configurations of the aircraft make finding “smoking guns” difficult, Naval Aviation has continued to implement multiple lines of effort across over the past couple years to mitigate the risks. Naval Aviation requires pilots train in the simulator using a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device to improve aircrew recognition of physiological symptoms related to hypoxia.

The improved On Board Oxygen Generating System material, known sieve bed (filter) material has been installed in all T-45, and new oxygen monitors are being fielded as part of an operational test in Pensacola. Sorbent tubes, devices that detect contaminants in breathing gas air, are also are being provided to pilots and, as soon as our inventory supports, will be required on every flight to help ensure we capture any PE event that might yield clues to the contamination agent.

Other mitigating efforts in place include: refinements to aircrew procedures; improved maintenance practices and procedures for better system reliability; releasing Air Frame Bulletin (AFB)-794, which changes inspection intervals to improve the rate of component failure detection; procurement of a cockpit pressurization warning system.

In one of his many previous messages to the Force, Shoemaker explained that, “Our aviators must be able to operate with confidence in our platforms and in their ability to safely execute their mission. To help ensure we eliminate this risk, collection and reporting of event data and your continued leadership is critical.”

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Experts say missile defense alone won’t stop growing North Korea nuke threat

North Korea launched on Sunday a land-based version of the KN-11 nuclear-capable ballistic missile that may have traveled further and faster than any North Korean missile before it.


The missile flew about 300 miles before hitting the Sea of Japan, likely further than any test before it and used solid fuel that allowed it to be launched off a tank-like truck in a matter of minutes, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday.

Older North Korean missiles have used liquid fuel, which requires them to travel with huge convoys and to gas up prior to a launch, which gives observers time to prepare and respond.

Related: Here’s why North Korea’s latest type of missile would be a nightmare to stop

While Davis said the launch made clear the “grave threat to our national security,” he added that the US is “capable of defending against a North Korean ballistic missile attack.”

Experts on North Korea and missile defense told Business Insider a different story about the US’s ability to defend against North Korean attacks.

The US is “certainly capable of addressing the North Korean threat both regionally and to the homeland,” Abel Romero
, the director of government relations
 at the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance,
 told Business Insider. But he added that the systems in place have considerable flaws.

Though the US has guided missile destroyers and local missile defense batteries in the region, missile defense is not “solely the answer” to stopping threats from North Korea, Romero said.

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The Heritage Foundation: 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength

Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation at the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider that missile defense isn’t a good enough response to North Korea’s missile tests — diplomatic engagement is needed.

The latest test “underscores the urgency for a new approach to North Korea,” Davenport said.

“The major issue with relying on the missile defense system is capacity,” Ian Williams, associate director at the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Business Insider.

The US has 25,000 troops deployed to South Korea, and more than 50,000 in Japan. While most military sites have ballistic missile defenses, North Korea could potentially trick missile defenses by using decoys, exhausting the US’s supply of interceptor missiles, which can knock out incoming missiles.

The US just doesn’t “have enough interceptors to sit and play catch with everything that North Korea can throw,” Williams said. “US and allied missile defenses could likely absorb a first wave, but there would need to be coordination with strike forces to start knocking out North Korea’s missiles out before they could be launched.”

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Heritage Foundation

The second major issue, according to Williams, is coverage. The US uses multiple layers of missile defense systems like Patriot missile defense batteries and guided-missile destroyer ships, but they provide uneven coverage in the region.

The US has been pushing to deploy a larger range missile defense system to South Korea, known as Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), as a kind of admission that the current systems have weaknesses and flaws.

But like other systems, THAAD isn’t perfect. It has an excellent track record within it’s range, but North Korea could simply send a submarine outside of range and fire away.

“Missile defense is not a surefire way to negate the threat posed by another country’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles,” said Davenport.

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The THAAD missile system. | Lockheed Martin photo

For example, while the US may have systems in place to counter North Korea, it has no defenses built specifically to counter Chinese or Russian nuclear missiles, which are far more advanced and capable, according to Romero.

“As of right now I’ve never heard anyone come out and say we need to build a missile defense system to defend us from Russia and China,” said Romero.

Instead, the US uses diplomacy and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction to coexist with Russia and China. As the nuclear missile threat grows from North Korea, the US must find a way to coexist with them as well.

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This Hollywood ranch was built just for Hitler

A short hike North of Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Boulevard in Will Rogers State Park will lead you to a seemingly out-of-place, abandoned WWII-era complex fit for a king. But this ranch wasn’t built for a king; it was built for a Führer.


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Just take the 405 Norrth and exit about 80 years ago.

What is today condemned and covered with graffiti was built by American Nazi sympathizers to be a world-class command center for Adolf Hitler’s “Thousand-Year Reich,” Left Coast Edition. Built with the intention of winning the hearts of the Hollywood Elite, the bunker was also supposed to regale Hitler with the luxury and symbolic power of wealth that only a bunker in LA could provide.

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Or Scientology, but the Stephens weren’t as strict as Scientologists, they were just Nazis. (Photo by Domas Mituzas)

We tend to forget the world of the 1920’s and 1930’s wasn’t so cut and dry as we like to imagine. While Fascism wasn’t as popular as other social movements, it hadn’t entirely slid off its rocker into the genocidal megalomania we associate it with today. That is to say a lot of people though Fascism was a good idea, including a number of Americans.

One such American was Jessie M. Murphy, a widower who purchased a 50-acre tract of land North of Los Angeles, the namesake of the Murphy Ranch. The only problem is Jessie Murphy never existed. Jessie Murphy was really a pseudonym created by Winona and Norman Stephens, who fancied themselves “Silvershirts.”

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Silver Nazis.

Silvershirts were members of the Silver Legion of America, an organization of Nazi sympathizers founded by a North Carolinian named William Pelley. The Silvershirts were a white supremacist, anti-Semitic group who wore campaign hats and blue trousers to go with their silver shirts, sort of like glittery drill sergeants with a red “L” over their hearts.

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Kinda like that, but with more glitter, I think. (For the record, Laverne De Fazio was definitely not a Nazi)

Pelley even ran for President in 1936, but was trounced with everyone else who thought running against President Franklin Roosevelt was a good idea. Once elected, Pelley hoped to create a “Silver Revolution” and turn the U.S. into a Fascist state.

The Stephens built the Los Angeles compound sometime in the 1930s at the behest of a Nazi agent known only as “Herr Schmidt.” It was designed to be a long-term, self-sufficient base for Nazi activities in the United States. Complete with water storage tanks and a bomb shelter, it cost the Stephens the equivalent of $66 million in today’s U.S. dollars.

The Silvershirts there were rounded up the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Three days later, Hitler declared a state of war between Nazi Germany and the United States. The complex fell into a state of disrepair and is now property of Los Angeles County.

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The front gate (Photo by Jamie Martin @mcflygoes88mph)

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No Nazis here. (Photo by Jamie Martin @mcflygoes88mph)

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(Photo by Jamie Martin @mcflygoes88mph)

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(Photo by Jamie Martin @mcflygoes88mph)

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The Water Tank (Photo by Jamie Martin @mcflygoes88mph)

If the Axis powers had won World War II, it seems LA might have been the capital of the Western Reich.

 

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Navy SEALs are prowling the Middle East on these stealthy boats

Everyone knows that when Navy SEALs arrive at their target, they can do some serious ass-kicking. But how they get to the point of attack is changing – and becoming more high-tech.


According to a report from TheDrive.com, the Combatant Craft Assault has been stealthily prowling the battlefield, giving SEALs new capabilities to insert into hostile territory and then make a clean getaway.

The CCAs reportedly took part in Eager Lion, a joint exercise in Jordan, and also got a moment in the spotlight when Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of United States Central Command took a training ride in one.

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SEALs use a Combatant Craft Assault to insert special operators during an exercise as part of Eager Lion 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul Coover/Released)

According to AmericanSpecialOperations.com, the CCA is 41 feet long, and is capable of carrying M240 medium machine guns, M2 heavy machine guns, and Mk-19 automatic grenade launchers. The boat is also capable of being air-dropped by a C-17A Globemaster, making it a highly flexible asset.

These boats can operate from the well decks of Navy amphibious ships or afloat staging bases like USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) and USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), which departed this past June for a deployment to the Persian Gulf region.

The craft reached full operational capability this year. While initially built by United States Marine, Inc., Lockheed Martin is now handling maintenance of these boats, which are manned by Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewmen. Two other stealthy special-ops boats, the Combatant Craft Medium and the Combatant Craft Heavy, are reportedly in various stages of development and/or deployment to the fleet.

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Service members assigned to Naval Special Warfare Command and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) participate in an interoperability exercise in the ship’s well deck during exercise Eager Lion 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Darren M. Moore)

CENTCOM has seen a number of incidents with Iran, including a near-midair collision between a drone and a F/A-18E Super Hornet. Iran also notably seized American sailors in December, 2015 detaining the crews of two Riverine Command Boats. The stealthy boats could prevent future incidents by being far more difficult to track.

You can see the Eager Lion video with a CCA cameo below.

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The Pentagon wants an ‘aerial dragnet’ to find enemy drones on the battlefield and in US cities

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DARPA


The Pentagon’s research and development outfit wants to stop “UAS-enabled terrorist threats” with a new system it’s calling Aerial Dragnet that would track slow, low-flying drones — or what the military calls unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

“As off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a news release. “Especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds.”

DARPA is soliciting proposals for the program, which seeks to provide “persistent, wide-area surveillance” of multiple drones on a city-wide scale.

Drones have become a mainstay on the battlefield — especially where the US is involved — but many other countries have, or are producing, drones for use in combat. Then there are the smaller, off-the-shelf types, which have even been used for surveillance purposes and to deliver explosive devices by terrorist groups like ISIS, for example.

The proliferation of drones is going to continue, so it looks like DARPA wants a sort-of “super drone” that will tell US forces where all the other little ones are on the battlefield. That is a ways off, since the the Aerial Dragnet research program will take more than three years, after which it’s up to the Pentagon on whether any of the research is implemented in the field.

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft — from small general aviation planes to large airliners — all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” Jeff Krolik, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”

Krolik also works on another DARPA program called “upward falling payloads” — a way of parking drones in sealed cases on ocean floors around the world, where they can be remotely activated to “fall” up and take a look around should trouble occur.

DARPA said the program is mainly designed to protect deployed troops, but the system “could ultimately find civilian application to help protect US metropolitan areas.”

The agency is hosting a proposers day on September 26, and full proposals for those interested in getting the contract are required by November 12.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

A formation of F-15C Eagles, assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, and an F-15E Strike Eagle, assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, fly over Gloucestershire, England, to attend the Royal International Air Tattoo air show at Royal Air Force Fairford July 7, 2016. The RAF Lakenheath aircraft were on public display, along with many other military aircraft from around the U.K., to provide an opportunity for the U.S. military and its allies to showcase their capabilities.

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U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower

Airmen complete the Grog Bowl ritual during a combat dining out at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, July 9, 2016. The combat dining out is a modern informal twist on the ancient tradition of the military dining in. 

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U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division, Task Force Al Taqaddum, fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, June 27, 2016. The strikes were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and aimed at eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert

A soldier assigned to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, crosses a river using a single line rope bridge at Camp Rudder, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 7, 2016. The Florida Phase of Ranger School is the third and final phase that Ranger students must complete to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner

NAVY:

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (July 10, 2016) President Barack Obama departs USS Ross (DDG 71) after a tour aboard the ship. During the president’s visit to Naval Station Rota, he met with base leadership, toured USS Ross (DDG 71) and spoke to service members and their families during an all hands call. Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Dietrick

AMSTERDAM (June 21, 2016) Amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) makes its way through the locks of the North Sea Canal enroute to Amsterdam for its second port visit after the ship’s participation in exercise BALTOPS 2016. BALTOPS is an annually recurring multinational exercise designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate the capability and resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Julio Martinez Martinez

MARINE CORPS:

Lance Cpl. Mackinnly Lewis, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa, guides an MV-22B Osprey during a helicopter support team exercise aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain, July 6, 2016. This training prepares Marines to deliver and recover supplies and equipment quickly and efficiently in potential future missions around Europe and Africa.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Nagle

Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, fix a humvee during Exercise Hamel at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 8, 2016. Exercise Hamel is a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

COAST GUARD:

Twenty-six nations, 49 ships, six submarines, about 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in the Rim of the Pacific exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

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Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle

The Maritime Security Response Team is a highly specialized team with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

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North Korea accuses White House of assassination plot

After arresting two American university instructors and laying out what it says was an elaborate, CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korea is claiming to be the victim of state-sponsored terrorism — from the White House.


The assertion comes as the U.S. is considering putting the North back on its list of terror sponsors. But the vitriolic outrage over the alleged plan to assassinate Kim in April is also being doled out with an unusually big dollop of retaliation threats, raising a familiar question: What on Earth is going on in Pyongyang?

North Korea’s state-run media announced May 7 that an ethnic Korean man with U.S. citizenship was “intercepted” by authorities for unspecified hostile acts against the country. He was identified as Kim Hak Song, an employee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

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The Supreme Leader doesn’t like these kinds of images. (Via reddit user Rotorammer)

That came just days after the North announced the detention of an accounting instructor at the same university, Kim Sang Dok, also a U.S. citizen, for “acts of hostility aimed to overturn” the country. PUST is North Korea’s only privately funded university and has a large number of foreign teachers, including Americans.

What, if anything, the arrests have to the alleged plot is unknown. But they bring to four the number of U.S. citizens now known to be in custody in the North.

“Obviously this is concerning,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters May 8. “We are well-aware of it, and we are going to work through the embassy of Sweden … through our State Department to seek the release of the individuals there.”

Sweden handles U.S. consular affairs in North Korea, including those of American detainees.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

The others are Otto Warmbier, serving a 15-year prison term with hard labour for alleged anti-state acts — he allegedly tried to steal a propaganda banner at his tourist hotel — and Kim Dong Chul, serving a 10-year term with hard labour for alleged espionage.

The reported arrest of another “Mr. Kim” — the North Korean man allegedly at the centre of the assassination plot — is more ominous.

According to state media reports that began May 5, he is a Pyongyang resident who was “ideologically corrupted and bribed” by the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service while working in the timber industry in Siberia in 2014. The Russian far east is one of the main places where North Korean laborers are allowed to work abroad.

The reports say Kim — his full name has not been provided — was converted into a “terrorist full of repugnance and revenge against the supreme leadership” of North Korea and collaborated in an elaborate plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un at a series of events, including a major military parade, that were held last month.

They allege Kim was in frequent contact through satellite communications with the “murderous demons” of the NIS and CIA, who instructed him to use a biochemical substance that is the “know-how of the CIA” and that the hardware, supplies, and funds would be borne by the South Korean side.

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In this image, Kim Jong Un is looking at a thing.

Kim Jong Un attended the military parade on April 15 and made several other appearances around that time to mark the anniversary of his late grandfather’s birthday.

The initial reports of the plot concluded with a vow by the Ministry of State Security to “ferret out to the last one” the organizers, conspirators and followers of the plot, which it called “state-sponsored terrorism.”

The North Korean reports also said a “Korean-style anti-terrorist attack” would begin immediately. Follow-up stories on the plot have focused on outraged North Koreans demanding revenge.

It’s anyone’s guess what a “Korean-style” attack might entail.

North Korea is known for its loud and belligerent rhetoric in the face of what it deems to be threats to its leadership, and the reference to ferreting out anyone involved in the plot could suggest not only action abroad but possible purges or crackdowns at home.

“I wonder if Kim Jong Un has become paranoid about the influence Americans are having on North Koreans, and about the possibility of U.S. action against him,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defence analyst and North Koreaexpert at the RAND Corporation. “Will Kim increase his internal purges of North Korean elites? Will he focus on North Korean defectors, people who the regime would like to silence? Or will he do both?”

Tensions between North Korea and its chief adversaries — the U.S. and South Korea — have been rising over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that include training for a possible “decapitation strike” to kill the North’s senior leaders.

Bennett noted that such training has been included and expanded upon in annual wargames hosted by South Korea, which were bigger than ever this year.

The wargames, called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, just finished, without any signs of North Korean retaliation.

Further reading: 3 jokes that could get you sent to a firing squad in North Korea

But the current rhetoric from Pyongyang has a somewhat familiar ring to it. Case in point: the movie “The Interview” in 2014.

In June that year, the North denounced the Seth Rogen comedy, which portrays the assassination of Kim Jong Un for the CIA by two American journalists, as “a most wanton act of terror and act of war.” A few months later, hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment computers and released thousands of emails, documents, Social Security numbers, and other personal information in an attempt to derail the movie’s release.

The U.S. government blamed North Korea for the attack. Pyongyang denies involvement, but has praised the hackers.

The North’s claims of a plot to kill Kim Jong Un with a biochemical agent also have an eerie similarity to the assassination of his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, at an airport lobby in Malaysia in February.

In that attack, seen by many as orchestrated by the North, two young women who were allegedly tricked into thinking they were taking part in a television game show, rubbed the deadly VX nerve agent onto the face of the unsuspecting victim, who died soon after.