Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s - We Are The Mighty
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Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s

The Lockheed F-35 Lightning is replacing the F-16 in many countries. For the most part, if a country is flying F-16s, then it’s a safe bet that they will get the F-35. There may be some exceptions to that rule, of course, but for the most part, it rings true.


One country slated to receive the F-35 is Belgium. F-16.net reports that, at one point, the Belgian Air Component had as many as 160 F-16A/B Fighting Falcons. Many of these planes were manufactured as part of a consortium with Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
One of the first F-16s built for the Belgian Air Force. The F-16s currently in service will be replaced by F-35s. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Rob Schleiffert)

Today, that total stands at 45 F-16AM and nine F-16BM Fighting Falcons. These planes are divided into four operational fighter squadrons primarily equipped with F-16AMs, and one operational conversion unit equipped solely with F-16BMs. This comes out to roughly 11 F-16AMs per squadron.

According to a release on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency website, Belgium will begin to replace its F-16s with F-35s. The planned purchase total, coming in at just over $6.5 billion, is 34 F-35A Lightnings and 38 F135 engines (one for each F-35, plus four spares). This comes out to eight and a half F-35s per squadron.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
The second F-35 for the Netherlands rolls out of the hangar. The Dutch also helped produce the F-16. (Lockheed Martin photo)

Now, this may just be the first batch of planes, in which case, it comes out to a more reasonable 17 planes per squadron. A Belgian media report in 2016 noted that the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet were also considered by the Belgian government.

In what seems to be a repeat of history, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark are all buying the F-35 to replace the F-16. In recent years, the Belgian Air Component has seen action in the War on Terror, the NATO intervention in Libya, and has also taken part in the Baltic Air Policing mission, often using F-16AMs.

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Three War Army Hero

This episode tells the dramatic story of an Army veteran who served in three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Al Ungerleider’s first taste of combat came on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  He went on to march towards Germany, liberating a Nazi concentration camp along the way.  Brigadeer General Al Ungerleider retired from the Army after 36 years of service.  His final active-duty assignment was commanding the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.  Al Ungerleider is a true American hero.

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Headlines

Writing a great headline is hard. Here’s how to do it.

In the digital age, writing a headline is extremely important. There are so many places out there on the web competing for people’s attention and WATM is not just competing with Military Times or Military.com, or other military-related websites. It is competing with the entire web — whatever is in the user’s Facebook news feed — for attention.A good headline grabs someone. Not only that, it should immediately get an emotional reaction. In hardly any instance is it wise to save the important part for the story, and do a straight, boring, newspaper headline. The headline is what makes a person click through to read. Put simply, if they are not interested in the headline, they aren’t going to even give you the opportunity to show them why it’s a cool story. You already lost them.


First, some formatting notes that are important:

  • Headlines should be in sentence case.
    • This is a properly-formatted headline
    • This is Not a Properly-Formatted Headline
  • Avoid swears in the headline unless absolutely necessary. There may be times when this would work, so they are not absolutely forbidden. But avoid them if you can.

Constructing a great headline

What is a great headline? This varies from person to person, but a headline should be informative and interesting, without lying to the reader. Headlines are much more important nowadays. My former boss Gus at Business Insider explains:

Your goal is to post good content and get people to view it without resorting to unfair tricks. This isn’t a magazine, where people will read whatever is on the page. It is a ruthlessly competitive environment, where people are choosing between dozens of stories on our page, hundreds of stories on twitter, and infinite stories on the Internet.

People will only click news if they understand its significance, so focus on significance when necessary to reach a wider audience. When news becomes old, which happens fast on the Internet, then further coverage of a story should focus on compelling analysis, exciting details, or other added value. Compelling analysis and exciting concepts can also be good without a news hook.

Rhetorical techniques can help increase clicks but should not be overused. Obfuscation can create intrigue and works well when a headline reads naturally and conveys some information already, but it can be annoying if too teasing. Dramatic language can heighten interest, but it backfires when overused or overstated.

Now instead of writing on and on about how to create a headline, let’s look at some examples that did well and work backwards. Here’s the headline:

11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training

This is a great headline because it tells the reader exactly what they are going to get without overselling it. It doesn’t need to be “Incredible Things” or “Awesome Things.” It’s enough as it is, and the subject is interesting while being a little teasing. What are these things? Let’s definitely click and see what they are.

Soldiers want to click this headline to see if their complaint is in it, and civilians want to click it to get a view into the world of a soldier. It’s a great headline (and a great post).

27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine

Another example of an interesting premise that both sides want to read about: sailors and civilian. This headline promises something you don’t normally get to see. Not only are you going to check out life on a Navy submarine, but it’ll include incredible photos.

7 Key Military Life Hacks That Matter In Civilian Life

This headline uses the term “life hacks” which everyone knows with a military spin on it. What can we learn from the military and really use? There is a promise give the reader something new they can learn.

Key takeways:

  1. Start with a solid premise that is accessible to a large audience
  2. Make the point in the headline. Don’t save it for the story.
  3. Use as few words as possible. Always shoot for brevity.

Here is a look at our best posts over the past few months. Check out the headlines for ideas:

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s

 

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Bob Hoover Legendary Pilot

Bob Hoover is one of history’s greatest aviators.  His career spanned from barnstorming in prop planes, to dogfighting in World War Two and then on to flight testing supersonic jets and performing spectacular aerobatic demonstrations.  As an experimental test pilot, he flight tested the Navy FJ-2 jet fighter and the USAF F-86 and F-100. Hoover was the backup pilot for the Bell X-1, and flew the chase plane as his friend Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14th, 1947. Smithsonian’s Air Space Magazine named Hoover Number Three on their list of all-time great pilots.  In this special two-part episode, Bob Hoover takes us through his long, illustrious career in flight.

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Wild Weasels in Vietnam

The Wild Weasels of the United States Air Force were some of the most courageous pilots in Vietnam. In a deadly game of cat and mouse, they flew fighter jets like the F-100, F-105 and F-4s deep into hostile airspace to coax the enemy into opening fire with their surface to air missiles. Once the Weasels located the site, other fighter bombers were called in to destroy the installations. In this episode, Jerry Hoblit, Bill Sparks, Mike Gilroy and Tom Wilson tell dramatic stories of their days as Wild Weasels.

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U.S. Army Rangers On D-Day

This episode features the dramatic role of the U.S Rangers on D-Day during World War II.  Leonard Lomell and Sidney Salomon, from the 2nd Ranger Battalion, were among those who comprised America’s first Special Forces group.  They were part of the first wave landing on Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1944.

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Episode 204: Medal of Honor & Battlefield Recordings

Medal of Honor recipient Walter Ehlers tells his dramatic stories of combat in North Africa and Europe and details the events surrounding his heroic actions during the Normandy campaign.  He also offers his unique perspectives on the infantry, his fellow soldiers and the enemy.This episode also features rare recordings of live combat, direct from the battlefields of World War II.

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Special operators are hunting Osama bin Laden’s son in ‘kill or capture’ mission

Osama bin Laden’s 28-year-old son Hamza is being hunted in a “kill or capture” mission by Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit which includes UK special forces, according to British media reports.


Hamza has become active as an al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death at the hands of US special forces in May 2011.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
Former President Barack Obama and members of the national security team receive updates on Operation Neptune’s Spear, a target and kill operation against Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011 (White House photo)

“A Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit, including 40 SAS soldiers, have reportedly been flown in to Syria on a covert mission to find Hamza and his gang,” The Mirrror reported.

“He is now considered in the top 10 ‘high-value’ targets being hunted by Coalition forces deployed on Operation Shader.”

The United States added Hamza bin Laden to its terrorist blacklist in January.

The US Treasury estimates that he was born in 1989 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. His mother was Khairiah Sabar, one of the Al-Qaeda founder’s three wives.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
Army photo by Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander

Last year, the fifth anniversary of the death of the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks on the United States, experts began to note his son’s increasing prominence in the movement. The State Department has designated him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” freezing any assets he holds in areas under US jurisdiction.

Experts believe Hamza is preparing to take over the leadership of al-Qaeda and exploit ISIS defeats in Syria and Iraq to unify the global militant movement under the banner of al-Qaeda.

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Using your military communication skills in the home

This post is sponsored by the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center (VFWC).

When you consider your family as a unit, you put its well-being before everything else, including yourself. After almost 8 years of marriage to my veteran, there are times I’ve had to dig deep into my well of patience. When my partner just said something so incredibly pig-headed that I, an angel, am left wondering what bloated, booger-eating alien just inhabited his brain and made his mouth move, I have to stop, take a breath, and remind myself that we are a unit. Is being right the most important thing in this moment? Is what I’m about to say or do going to serve the strength of the unit, or am I going to spin my wheels trying to outmaneuver my husband in an argument?

Despite what you might think, leaning back on things I’ve learned from the military lifestyle is what helps us keep comms open and clear.


We don’t argue much these days, which I attribute to years of practicing a combination of honoring our commitment to love and respect each other and using direct communication to problem solve together. Through our time in the military, he, the active duty service member, and I, the spouse, have developed the skills to say what we mean and let the rest fall away. Neither of us are much for jabbering, but there’s additional value in speaking directly that is hugely beneficial to a partnership. There is a purpose, a kernel of truth, to every message. The more you can make that purpose known, the less work the receiver has of deciphering the message.

Imagine a JTAC calling in for close air support from the F-16 in the sky with, “Hey, um, it would be super boring if you went south tonight — so maybe head west, if that’s cool. I was thinking this building we’ve confirmed for housing arms for I.S. was super ugly and could use some redecorating — like, with it and everything inside of it being on fire. It should be empty of people around 1930 zulu, unless Game of Thrones is on and you want to watch that instead… so if you felt like buzzing by and dropping a bomb that could be fun.”

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
Providing communications for Balikatan

U.S. Marines

Speaking passively with suggestions for what could be done, rather than what needs to be done, leaves a lot of room for error. It requires that the receiver, the F-16 pilot, cross a field of uncertainty to reach the intended point of the communicator, the JTAC. What if the pilot interpreted the message any other way? Turns out Game of Thrones is on at that time and she does want to see what happens to Tyrion Lannister. And why not? The JTAC said it was okay, and that building will still be there tomorrow. She can bomb it then.

There’s a reason military communication follows a formula. It gives the communicator tools to say in shorthand directly and with clarity what needs to happen. When there is a goal, every element of the message should inform as to what that goal is. In other words a successful message is objective-oriented, which is another skill we practice at home.

I am a quality time person. Gifts are nice and compliments are sweet, but I really feel loved by my husband when we spend time together. When we are hanging out and I have his attention, I feel fulfilled, deserving, and lucky in love. And then there are spells when that well runs dry. If he’s busy at work for a long amount of time, then comes home and gets on his phone to read Group Me texts from his coworkers, I start to grumble. I know more than a few times I’ve looked over at his phone, huffed, and said, “You spend 9 hours a day with those guys. Don’t you talk to them enough?” And twice a week he goes to rugby practice, often with games on Saturdays. It can be easy for me to say, “You sure play rugby a lot” to which he would probably say “…yeah.” (Fair. Was there a question asked? Nope.)

These brief conversations are tense and a perfect example of missed communication. He’s not getting what I’m saying, but he can tell I’m irritated, which in turn makes him irritated. If I were to try a direct approach, this would play out differently. What’s my goal? To have his attention and feel loved. With an objective-oriented approach in mind, I would say, without attitude, “Hey, I haven’t seen a lot of you lately and miss you. It would mean a lot to me if we can spend some time together.” I would have his attention in a second! He would put his phone down and hear me, and probably tell me about his day.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s

U.S. Coast Guard

I know this because we’ve had this conversation many times, and after years of practicing this kind of direct communication at home, he’s developed a radar on his own for opportunities when we can spend time together. This way, he still goes to rugby practice, but maybe the next night we go get a cappuccino and do a crossword puzzle. He gets to know I still crave him and he surprises me in ways to show me he cares. We eliminate the confusion of wondering why the other person is a jerk who just doesn’t get it. I’m happy. He’s happy. Win-win.

BONUS: In a more literal sense of using military communication, we just taught ourselves Morse code. Last month, we went to the symphony and during Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Minor, started tapping dirty words on each other’s palm to try to make the other person laugh. There’s always that.

This post is sponsored by the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center (VFWC). If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can request a free Lyft ride to take advantage of their benefits for veteran families.

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Bat 21Rescue in Vietnam

On Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, two EB-66 aircraft, call signs Bat 21 and Bat 22 were flying pathfinder escort for three B-52s, which were assigned to bomb the two primary access routes to the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos.  Gene Hambleton, a navigator aboard Bat 21, was shot down behind North Vietnamese lines. His rescue became known as the largest, longest, and most complex search-and-rescue operation during the entire Vietnam War.  In this episode, Gene Hambleton recounts his dramatic story, in his own words. 

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The Chinese military just conducted a live-fire exercise a few miles from a US base in Africa

China has staged military exercises in Djibouti after opening its first overseas military base there last month, official media said.


State television CCTV showed armored vehicles moving on a desert track, groups of soldiers firing automatic weapons, and cannon pointing towards the horizon.

Dozens of soldiers have been deployed in temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius “to reinforce their hardiness in combat and their mastery of military techniques,” the report said.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
Arta Training Range, Djibouti. Photo by Sgt. Steve Lopez.

“This is the first time that officers and soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left their camp to conduct live-fire exercises,” Liang Yang, the base commander, told the broadcaster.

It was unclear when the drills took place. China opened its base in Djibouti in early August.

Personnel will mainly focus on supporting UN peacekeeping operations, evacuating Chinese nationals, and providing naval escorts, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The Chinese navy has since 2008 had a presence off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden as part of international efforts to combat piracy.

Belgium is the next country to replace its F-16 fleet with F-35s
PLA troops undergo live-fire exercises in Djibouti. Source: Government handout.

“This modest live-fire drill was apparently conducted on a designated firing range in Djibouti, and involved a small-scale force, perhaps just a single platoon or maybe a few platoons,” said James Char, a specialist in the Chinese army at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

It did not mean Chinese forces could be expected to carry out “counter-terrorism or constabulary operations in the manner of the US military anytime soon”.

Djibouti is strategically located on the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, controlling access to the Red Sea.

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