Here's What It's Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

Since the early VHS days in the late ’80s squadron music video production quality has kept getting better and better. Here’s one from the Hornet (and Super Hornet) community circa 2013 that takes viewers into the cockpit for a spin around “the boat.”


Also Read: 17 Signs That You Might Be A Military Aviator

Shove the throttles forward, salute the catapult officer, and get ready to rock:

NOW: The Secret Air Force Program That Hid An Even More Secret Program

OR: Here’s What It’s Like To Fly With The US Navy’s Elite Blue Angels

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Could we really build a B-1B gunship?

In 2018, Boeing filed patents for a number of potential cannon mounting solutions for the supersonic heavy payload bomber, the B-1B Lancer, with the intent of creating a B-1B gunship similar in capability to the famed Spooky AC-130 and its most recent successor, the AC-130J Ghostrider. While the patents indicate Boeing’s interest in prolonging the life of the venerable Lancer, there’s been little progress toward pursuing this unusual design.

Recently, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to begin retiring its fleet of B-1Bs in favor of the forthcoming B-21 Raider, prompting us to ask ourselves: could we actually build a B-1B gunship to keep this legendary aircraft in service?

Could we really build a B-1B Gunship?

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

Boeing’s patents indicate a number of cannon-mounting methods and even types and sizes of weapons, giving this concept a broad utilitarian appeal. America currently relies on C-130-based gunships that, while able to deliver a massive amount of firepower to a target, max out at less than half the speed that would be achievable in a B-1B gunship. The Lancer’s heavy payload capabilities and large fuel stores would also allow it to both cover a great deal of ground in a hurry, but also loiter over a battlespace, delivering precision munitions and cannon fire managed by a modular weapon control system.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

In theory, it all sounds well and good, but there are also a number of significant limitations. The B-1B Lancer’s swing-wing design does allow it to fly more manageable at lower speeds, but it would almost certainly struggle to fly as slowly as an AC-130J can while engaging targets below. Likewise, a B-1B gunship would be just as expensive to operate as it currently is as a bomber–making it a much more expensive solution to a problem one could argue the U.S. has already solved.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll never see this concept, or even these patents, leveraged in some way. If you’d like to learn more about the concept of turning a B-1B into a gunship, you can read our full breakdown (that the video above is based on) here.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Intel

The second season of the incredibly popular ‘Serial’ podcast may focus on Bowe Bergdahl

The second season of the incredibly popular “Serial” podcast produced by NPR will focus on the Bowe Bergdahl case, The Hollywood Reporter is confirming.


The Bergdahl case has attracted plenty of interest nationwide, following the soldier’s release from Haqqani Network captivity in exchange for five Taliban detainees. The Army sergeant is currently facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his court-martial after he allegedly walked away from his combat outpost in 2009.

Bergdahl’s attorneys claim he was trying to reach a nearby base to report troubling conditions in his unit, while many soldiers he served with believe him to be a deserter responsible for lives that were lost while they searched for him.

Via Maxim:

All of this is ripe material for Serial host Sarah Koenig’s Rashomon approach to investigative journalism, which she deftly applied to the case of Adnan Syed, a man currently serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his high school ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Koenig went to great lengths to examine the case from every possible angle—interviewing witnesses whose testimonies were never heard in court, and pursuing other leads abandoned during the investigation that led to Syed’s conviction.

First debuted in 2014, the “Serial” podcast quickly rocketed to the top spot as the most popular podcast of all time. According to Maxim’s reporting, reporters from “Serial” have been seen inside the courtroom at Bergdahl’s trial.

NOW: These rare colorized photos show World War I like never before

Intel

Russia may be using directed-energy weapons on US troops

At the end of April 2021, intelligence reports indicated the use of directed-energy attacks on American troops over the course of the previous year. Politico reported that two groups of lawmakers were briefed about an investigation into the use of the weapons, both in writing and in person. 

According to those intelligence briefings, the Pentagon believes intelligence points to the energy attacks on American service members in Syria and they believe that Russia is responsible. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, later told Congress he had seen “no evidence” of the attack.

In the fall of 2020, a number of U.S. troops in Syria began presenting with flu-like symptoms, the Politico report says. Similar symptoms have affected American diplomatic officials in Havana, Cuba since 2016. The “Havana Syndrome,” as it’s come to be called, is believed to be caused by a kind of directed-energy weapon. 

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus delivers remarks during the 2015 Directed Energy Summit in McLean, Va. Mabus spoke about the role the Department of the Navy has in energy innovation, as well as the broader relationship between energy and national security. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Sam Shavers/Released)

The symptoms of those affected in Cuba not only include flu-like symptoms, but far-ranging and more severe symptoms. American diplomats have reported ringing and pressure in their ears, loss of equilibrium, and persistent headaches. The worst reports confirm long-term brain damage. 

When U.S. troops in the vicinity of Russians began to mysteriously develop the same early symptoms, the Pentagon allegedly set up a task force to investigate. Politico says the details about the attacks and the suspected weapons systems aren’t clear.

What is known is that the attack used concentrated beams of electromagnetic energy, high-frequency radio waves, particle beams, or microwaves to hit their targets.The attacks disrupt electronic equipment and cause neurological and other kinds of injuries. 

In Havana, researchers discovered the effects of the weapons can create air pockets in the fluids near the inner ear. Those bubbles float in the paths that carry blood to the brain. Once the cavities reach the brain, they can cause stroke-like effects.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has declined to comment about the reports but insiders told Politico that Congress has been briefed about Russia’s use of the weapons in Syria, but the only response from Congress came from Sen. Jim Inhofe, who only said that they would be talking about it and that discussion would be classified. 

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Dr. Chris Lloyd – a Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) engineer – briefs directed energy capabilities at the second DoD Lab Day held at the Pentagon. Innovations from 63 Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force laboratories and engineering centers were displayed during the collaborative event. Navy leaders have made directed-energy weapons a top priority to counter asymmetric threats.

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and without any direct intelligence of the weapons involved, it’s difficult to know for certain if the attacks on Americans in Syria are really directed-energy attacks or if they are in any way similar to the Cuba attacks. 

Not much is known about the energy attacks on the U.S. embassy in Havana. Without knowing for certain the weapon exists, it’s unlikely the United States would blame Russia for an attack that could just be an unrelated illness. 

Scientists and researchers conducted thorough tests on more than 100 other embassy personnel in Cuba. Since some of the embassy workers were attacked in their homes, they also tested other people living in their respective buildings. No one else appeared to have been the victim, as they displayed none of the neurological damage or symptoms associated with the mysterious “Havana Syndrome.” 

The team that investigated those attacks ruled out any kind of head injury, instead finding that 100 percent of those who claimed to be affected suddenly began suffering from acute onset balance disorders, cognitive issues, and other neurological problems.

Featured image: Image created for the Directed Energy Weapons section of the “Competing in Space” unclassified report, depicting threats that can temporarily impair or permanently damage space-based systems.

Intel

This First-Person Video Shows What Tankers See While Blowing Targets Away

Tanks firing isn’t something many people think of as requiring marksmanship, but tankers take it very seriously. A new video shows Marines engaging targets at the range, and most of the footage is from the perspective of the tankers.


Also Read: 7 Incredible Narco Tanks Built By Mexican Cartels

With tanks firing, the big gun is, of course, the main draw. The 120-mm smoothbore can accurately fire shells over 2 kilometers.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

But the video also shows the operations of the loader, the crew member who feeds the gun.
Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

The tanks are on a firing line and there are great shots of one tank firing right after another.
Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Machine guns on the tank are not as flashy but crucial for protecting the crew. They get to spit some brass, too.
Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

Check out the full video on Youtube:

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When US bases need backup, this is who they call: FAST Marines

The Marine Corps is a small organization that does a good job of producing a united front. Marketing people call it consistent messaging, and the Corps has long made it a part of their communications strategy. It’s simple. Marines are Marines. There are no special Marines.

While this narrative approach gives the Corps a consistent message and appearance, it also fails to highlight many of the special missions the Corps accomplishes that involve small teams of elite, specifically trained, war fighters. Today we are going to highlight one of those small teams of elite service members, commonly called FAST Marines.

FAST stands for Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team. These FAST units fall under the branch’s Security Force Regiment, which provides a dedicated security force and anti-terrorism unit made up of Security Force Marines. These Marines usually guard a variety of installations like Naval bases and others too sensitive to leave without an armed presence.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

FAST Marines have a very specific and specialized job. FAST teams are highly trained Marines who deploy across the world to serve as security at United States government installations. Imagine an embassy is threatened, and they need an immediate shot of highly trained Marines with a whole lot of guns.

They call FAST, and those Marines live up to their acronym. FAST Marines do non-traditional deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Bahrain, Spain, and Japan, where they essentially stage as a just-in-case precaution. These ‘staging’ deployments allow them to deploy at a moment’s notice to nearly anywhere in the world. On these deployments, they train extensively and keep their skills sharp in case they are called upon. FAST Marines also deploy stateside to aid Marine Security Forces in guarding nuclear subs and ships during nuclear rod replacement.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

History of FAST

FAST saw its establishment in 1987. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of modern terrorism, and American interests overseas become targets of it. The President issued an order for the military and federal law enforcement to enhance their anti-terrorism capabilities. The Marines did as ordered and found a weakness in their Security Force infrastructure.

In the event of an attack that could overwhelm a Security Force detachment, they had no dedicated quick reaction force to enhance a Security Force’s numbers and capabilities. Thus, FAST Marines were born. Their mission was simple: they exist to reinforce an installation’s security force when the threat outguns the security forces on hand.

Since then, FAST has been called in to help secure Naval stations In Panama, where they engaged with what they believed to be Cuban special forces in an intense 30-minute firefight. From there, the Fast Marines would continue into Operation Just Cause, or the full invasion of Panama, in December of 1989.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. William Chockey)

FAST Marines deployed to Bahrain to protect the Naval Installations during Desert Storm, and in 1991, helped evacuate U.S. personnel from Liberia. When the U.S. established a liaison office in Mogadishu, they called FAST to provide security.

Without going through the entire history of FAST, it’s easy to say they’ve operated at a relatively high tempo since their inception, and have always been there when the Marine Corps and their nation called upon them.

How to become a FAST Marine

FAST Marines have a long pipeline of training before they become active-duty operators. It starts with speaking to a recruiter and obtaining a Security Forces contract. Like everyone in the Corps, it starts at a recruit training depot.

From there, Security Force Marines will attend Infantry Training At the School of Infantry West or East and obtain a MOS of 0311. Security Force Marines will maintain an infantry MOS as their primary MOS.

After SOI, they attend Security Force School. Here they can volunteer for FAST company. There is no guarantee for acceptance, and it’s all based on the needs of the Corps.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

After acceptance into FAST Company, they begin 5 Weeks of FAST training. From there, they go to an 8-week Close Quarter Battle School. The CQB school teaches FAST Marines how to fight in extremely close quarters. Here they become experts in clearing rooms, hallways, stairways, as well as dynamic entry and various other tasks associated with urban combat.

Following CQB school, they take a tactical driving course. Here Marines learn Motorcade Operations, high-risk driving, evasive driving, PIT maneuvers, ramming, close proximity driving, and driver down drills.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

Marines then become bodyguards at a High-Risk Personnel course where they learn close quarters protection tactics.

From there, they begin training in individual nonlethal weapons. This course teaches them tactics and weaponry they can use to deal with threats in a nonlethal manner. Finally, they attend the Helicopter and Rope Suspension Techniques Master Course, where they learn how to fast rope, rappel down structures and out of helicopters, and use SPIE rigging.

Life as a FAST Marine

After all that training, they’ll still be expected to know basic Marine skills. This includes basic and advanced trauma medicine, how to use nearly every weapon in the Corps’ arsenal, how to use night vision and thermal optics, land navigation, HMMWV course, and more.

FAST Marines will be stationed in either Naval Station Norfolk or Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in beautiful Virginia in companies Alpha, Bravo, or Charlie. 400 Marines and Sailors make up a FAST company.

From there, they can look forward to a potential deployment at the Platoon level to one of several naval stations where they can further their training and be on call for a mission. FAST Marines can expect to be constantly training in one direction or another.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dawson Roth)

FAST Marines utilize a lot of the same gear as their infantry counterparts. This includes the M4 and likely the M27 in the near future, as well as the Beretta M9, the M249 SAW, and M240B medium machine gun. Shotguns from Mossberg and Benelli offer a powerful close-quarters fighting tool, as well as a nonlethal option with the right rounds. Some Senior FAST Marines may have even been to designated marksman school and be wielding specialized rifles for that role.

Per their contract, a Security Force Marine will only serve two years active duty with Security Forces. After these two years, most will be reassigned to conventional infantry forces. It’s an odd system that doesn’t make much sense to me. It seems like after an expansive series of schools that FAST Marines would stay FAST Marines, but the Force dictates differently.

In the Infantry

Security Force Marines often have difficulty adjusting to the infantry. They’ve spent years in Security Forces and often come to the infantry as Non commissioned officers. Their specialized training is just that, specialized. It doesn’t translate over to conventional infantry operations, and because they lack the experience of most infantry Marines, they can feel like a fish out of water in the new surroundings and operational environment.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

FAST Marines do come to the ‘fleet’ with a more advanced set of skills and can serve as excellent advisors in close quarter’s combat, however. Urban terrain has been a big factor in recent wars, and knowing how to properly fight in it is invaluable.

Loaded Up

FAST is simply one small cog in a large Marine Corps. These small teams of specialists always interest me, and I think the Marine Corps does a disservice to itself by failing to highlight their unique capabilities. Regardless, when American installations overseas dial 911, it’s FAST that answers the call.

This article by Travis Pike was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Intel

This Filipino special forces video will make you all kinds of moto

Set to the tune of war drums in the dense Philippine jungle, this Special Forces video is incredibly motivating.


You’ve seen the typical military recruitment and promotional videos. They’re usually slogan rich and filled with special effects. This video takes a different direction, a more straightforward route, thanks to GoPro mounted cameras and more affordable filming techniques.

The cinematic footage and narration is motivating and impressive – exactly what the Filipino military needs to attract young recruits to fight against their enemies. Due to the region’s heightened tensions with Islamic extremism, disputes in the South China Sea, and other local terror groups, the demand for unconventional warfare and troops willing to carry out these missions have never been higher.

Watch:

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Video: The incredible story of the SR-71 Blackbird in 3 minutes

No military aircraft – past or present – can beat the altitude and airspeed performance of the SR-71 Blackbird.


It’s design and performance evolved out of necessity: “We had a need to know what was going on in other countries,” Jeff Duford, a historian at the National Museum of the US Air Force, said. “And the way that we were going to do that was having a photographic aircraft that could fly very high and very fast. And much faster than the U2, which proceeded it. The SR-71 was that answer for the US Air Force and for the United States.”

Here’s the remarkable story of the SR-71 in a 3 minute mini-doc:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hSGGEOd9Y
Intel

Four US Marines killed in ‘act of terror’ in Tennessee

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
In this image made from video and released by WRCB-TV, authorities work an active shooting scene on Amincola Highway near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on July 16, 2015. (Photo: WRCB-TV via AP)


A lone gunman opened fire at a Navy recruiting facility and another military building in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, The Military Times reported.

“Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country,” Gov. Bill Haslam told the Military Times. “And I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this.”

A total of five people were reported dead, which included the gunmen and four U.S. Marines., according to The Associated Press. A soldier and a police officer were also wounded at the scene. An FBI special agent told The Guardian it was being treated as an “act of terror.”

On Facebook, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus released this statement:

While we expect our Sailors and Marines to go into harm’s way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable. As the investigation unfolds, our priority will be to take care of the families of those affected.

I’d like to express my gratitude to the first responders on the scene whose prompt reaction was critical to stopping this individual from inflicting further violence.

Though we can never fully prevent attacks like this, we will continue to investigate, review and guard against future vulnerabilities and do everything in our power to safeguard the security of our service members and their families.

Read the full report here at the Military Times  

Read more: The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 16 edition)

Intel

This teenager with cancer got his wish to be a Navy pilot for one day

The Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with the crew of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) to grant Peter, a 16-year-old cancer survivor, his wish to become a Navy pilot for a day.


“Since fourth or fifth grade I wanted to be a naval aviator,” said Peter, in a video produced by the U.S. Navy. “We live within twenty miles of Annapolis and so you have the Naval Academy there, everyone is a Navy fan.”

He didn’t know what to expect when he learned that he was going to be on an aircraft carrier. Little did he know that he would be traveling by air and landing on its deck. Peter got the Navy’s V.I.P. treatment and did way more than he could imagine.

Watch:

 

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Someone tried to analyze one of the weirdest insults said in ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet


It is perhaps one of the most iconic war movies ever, and certainly one of the best depictions of Marine boot camp, but at least one of the insults to come from Drill Instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman’s mouth doesn’t seem to make any sense.

And that’s where the site FilmDrunk comes in, to investigate what in the hell Hartman meant when he would “short-d-ck every cannibal in the Congo.”

I mean, seriously, what the hell is that even supposed to mean? The quote, which comes about halfway into the film, is screamed out by an insanely-annoyed (isn’t he always?) Hartman on top of the obstacle course, as Pvt. Pyle becomes too fearful to get over the top.

“I will motivate you, Private Pyle! If it shortd-cks every cannibal in the Congo!” he says.

You really need to break this one down to root words here. The term “shortd-ck” could mean to short change, and so if Pvt. Pyle becomes motivated he’ll be skinnier, and the cannibals will have less fat to eat. Or another interpretation could be that Hartman is willing to do anything it takes, even so far outside of cultural norms, to motivate the recruit.

Or it could just be drill instructor gibberish that makes no sense whatsoever.

Regardless, FilmDrunk collected up plenty of possibilities for this phrase, and the investigation of it is actually quite hilarious.

Check it all out here.

OR CHECK OUT: The 16 greatest quotes from ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Articles

Checkmate: The details on Russia’s new stealth fighter revealed

On Tuesday Morning, Russian aircraft manufacturer UAC unveiled the nation’s newest stealth fighter, the LTA Checkmate, at the MAKS air show at Ramenskoye airfield near Moscow. While information about this new 5th generation platform has steadily made its way to the media in recent months and some images even found their way onto the internet last week, we now have the most complete vision of this budget-friendly entrant into the stealth competition yet.

It’s important to remember that this new jet is not an operational platform, nor is there any strong indication that a flying tech demonstrator even exists. In other words, capabilities, cost, and even the overall design of this new fighter are all liable to change before this jet ever starts afterburning its way through production (if it ever does). Russia’s struggling economy and limited defense budget all but assure that the nation won’t be able to fund continued development, let alone production, of the LTA Checkmate single-handedly, so the future of this fighter program is largely in the hands of the foreign market. Russian officials have claimed that they invited delegations from 65 nations to come to the event and get a closer look at the fighter for this specific purpose.

According to today’s announcement, UAC believes they can start delivering new Checkmate fighters within five and a half years, with the first fighter for testing slated to be complete in 2023. ROSTEC officials predict orders of 300 aircraft, though they did not specify if they meant domestic, foreign, or total.

If Russia wants to make the LTA Checkmate its first successful stealth fighter on the export market (let alone in the sky), they need to make this jet look capable, reliable, and perhaps most importantly of all, affordable. These focal points were all on display on Tuesday, with mentions of the aircraft’s automated supply chain system and streamlined maintenance processes getting top billing alongside the usual fighter-fare.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

And while it’s important to remember that this fighter is actively being marketed (in other words, exaggeration or extreme optimism may well be in play in terms of announced capabilities), it’s also equally as important to remember that Russia has a long and illustrious history of making grandiose claims about new military technology, only for it to fail to meet expectations…or even ever manifest, after the initial headline-grabbing announcements.

So, with a baseball-sized grain of salt, let’s dive into what UAC says their new fighter can do, and why it matters for the future of Russia’s ongoing staring contest with the West.

We’ve already analyzed where the LTA Checkmate fits into Russia’s defense apparatus and what it will take to get the fighter into service in this article. The following will largely pertain to newly announced information.

Related: Here’s what we already know about Russia’s new stealth fighter

The LTA Checkmate aims to be the cheapest stealth fighter on the market

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

To be clear, being budget friendly does seem to be the focus, or at least one of the focuses, of the Checkmate. According to UAC CEO Yuri Slyusar, this new jet will ring in at under $30 million per airframe, making it the least expensive stealth fighter anywhere on the planet by a wide margin (assuming that price holds). While projected operating costs were not specified, a press release distributed during the event also emphasized cost savings in that department.

Of course, $30 million isn’t something to scoff at, but when compared to America’s two stealth fighters, the F-35 and F-22, it’s an absolute steal. The F-22 was the world’s first operational stealth fighter, but was canceled with just 183 of 750 ordered jets built. That massive cut in volume dramatically increased the per-unit price of the fighter to more than $200 million. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has consistently lowered its per-unit cost over the years and now rings in at under $80 million per aircraft, but both Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have been accused of fudging those numbers by the nonpartisan government watchdog, Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Two F-35s (Left) alongside two F-22s (Right) (USAF Photo)

In their analysis of F-35 costs, an F-35A actually costs the taxpayer around $110 million, with the F-35C ringing it at $117 million and the short take off, vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B breaking the bank at nearly $136 million a piece in 2020.

It isn’t as easy to ascertain costs for China’s Chengdu J-20 or Russia’s existing stealth platform, the Su-57, though experts have weighed in on both. The China Power Project established by the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that the per-fighter cost of the J-20 could be as high as $120 million, with the Su-57 likely closer to $100 million.

If these numbers are broadly accurate, then the LTA Checkmate would cost less than a third of its least-expensive competition, making it a viable low observable option for nations that can’t drop nine-digit checks on a single piece of equipment.

Related: Is Russia’s Su-57 the worst stealth fighter on the planet?

Russia claims it uses AI to support pilot operations

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

An ongoing concern for fighter pilots in a high-end fight is managing mental load. Traditionally, a fighter pilot has to keep track of multiple gauges and sensor read outs as well as the terrain, friendly nearby aircraft, the target, and any potential threats. Until recently, pilots had to combine all of this information in their heads, but flying supercomputers like the F-35 streamline the process and free up pilots to focus on the task at hand. Not only did UAC claim the Checkmate fighter would leverage onboard supercomputers, but they went a step further and claimed the aircraft would also use artificial intelligence, or AI, to further reduce the mental strain on its pilots.

This idea isn’t unheard of. In fact, it the was basis behind the U.S. Air Force and DARPA’s Alphadog Flight Trials held last year. The event pitted real human fighter pilots against AI in virtual dogfights, but the stated aim has long been to improve the AI while increasing pilot comfort with the idea. Eventually, the plan is to use AI in the cockpit as a co-pilot of sorts, handling monotonous tasks for the pilot, or even responding to inbound missiles faster than humans are capable of.

However, to date, AI hasn’t found a place in any fighter cockpit, and it seems unlikely that Russia will master the craft by 2023, when the first Checkmate is projected to take to the skies.

It is likely that the Checkmate fighter will leverage its onboard computers alongside some degree of sensor fusion to provide an enhanced awareness of the battlefield, like most fighters of its generation.

Related: AI wins flawless victory against human fighter pilot in DARPA dogfight

It won’t be able to match other 5th-generation fighters in a dogfight

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Rostec

All those cost savings have to come from somewhere, and even with the assumption that claims about the Checkmate will be exaggerated for marketing purposes, its claimed capabilities still fall short of the other jets of its class.

While every other 5th-generation fighter on the planet has a claimed structural limit that exceeds 9gs, the Checkmate claims only 8. G forces are measured in relation to the natural weight of gravity on earth; 1 G is what you experience all the time while walking around, so 9 Gs is literally 9 times that. Here’s an explanation from F-35 pilot instructor and Sandboxx News contributor Major Hasard Lee:

“Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re probably at 1G, or one time the force of gravity. Your weight is what you see when you stand on a scale. I weigh approximately 200 pounds, 230 with my gear on. For most people, the peak G-force they’ve experienced is probably on a rollercoaster during a loop—which is about 3-4G’s. It’s enough to push your head down and pin your arms by your side. Modern fighters like the F-16 and F-35 pull 9G’s, which translates to over 2,000 pounds on my body.”

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Hasard Lee experiencing High Gs in training.

You can read all about Hasard’s experiences pushing his F-16 to 9 Gs and just what an incredible toll it takes on your body in his article about it here.

Being limited to 8 Gs means Russia’s new Checkmate won’t be able to perform maneuvers as aggressively as other stealth fighters, or even non-stealth 4th-generation jets. Of course, that’s not necessarily a huge problem though. The Checkmate can bank on its low observability when squaring off against non-stealth fighters like the F-16, and this jet probably wouldn’t be sent out to pick fights with F-22s.

Related: What’s it like to pull 9Gs in an F-16? A fighter pilot weighs in

The Checkmate fighter has a claimed range of 3,000km (1,800+ miles)

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

The single-engine Checkmate weighs in at significantly less than the twin-engine Su-57, and in conjunction with its stealthy but high-lift delta-wing design, seems to offer good range. It’s unclear whether its claimed 3,000km range is based on a stripped-down ferry-flight, but that seems likely.

If this range holds true into production, it would give the Checkmate superior range to that of America’s F-35s, the furthest-reaching of which is the carrier-capable F-35C with a maximum range of a bit shy of 1,400 miles in the best of conditions. The F-22 Raptor can beat the Checkmate’s proposed range, but just barely, and with the addition of stealth-killing external fuel tanks.

Russia claims the Su-57 has a combat radius of around 930 miles, which is significant (that suggests a total range of 1,860 miles with a combat load), and it seems the LTA Checkmate is similarly aiming for long-distance operations.

Its claimed service ceiling of better than 50,000 feet is on par with its 5th generation competition, many of which claim operational ceilings of “better than 50,000 feet” without further specifics.

Related: This Russian pilot just flew their stealth fighter like a convertible

It will be able to carry hypersonic air-to-air weapons internally

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet

According to Tuesday’s announcement, the Checkmate fighter will be capable of carrying three RVV-BD long-range air-to-air missiles internally without compromising its stealth profile. The RVV-BD (also known as the R-37M or by NATO as the AA-13 Arrow) is a hypersonic weapon originally designed to take out tankers, AWACS, and other command and control aircraft from beyond the range of their fighter escorts, or about 124 miles.

Capable of achieving speeds in excess of Mach 6, the missile is believed to leverage an active data link for guidance, supported by the fighter’s onboard computers rather than the pilot, before switching to active radar homing in the final leg of its flight path.

Here’s What It’s Like Flying An F/A-18 Fighter Jet
Simulated cockpit view of the Checkmate fighter

Like the Checkmate itself, the RVV-BD was purpose-built with the export market in mind, and was designed to be easily mated to Russia’s export-iterations of both Su and MiG fighters. It seems logical, then, that the LTA Checkmate would be designed to leverage these weapons, as both stealth fighters and hypersonic weapons are currently considered extremely valuable for national militaries.

That added girth means a lot of added weight too. Depending on the source, the RVV-BD weighs in at between 1,100 and more than 1,300 pounds… meaning a single one of these missiles weighs as much as six Aim-9Xs, or nearly four AIM-120s. The most modern iteration of America’s furthest-reaching air-to-air missile, the AIM-120D, has a reported range of at least 87 miles, though its actual maximum range has never been disclosed. Unlike the RVV-BD, however, the AIM-120 tops out at around Mach 4, well below the hypersonic barrier of Mach 5.

However, storing three of these weapons internally is a pretty tall order. At around 13’9″, the RVV-BD isn’t that much longer than a normal air-to-air weapon, but its 15″ diameter is more than twice that of air-to-air weapons like the AIM-120 carried internally by the F-22 and three times that of smaller, short range weapons like the AIM-9X.

Those RVV-BDs will be housed in the aircraft’s primary weapons bay, with another smaller bay further forward on the fuselage that will likely house smaller defensive air-to-air munitions. Per the display, it seems likely that this new Checkmate fighter will also carry a 30mm cannon, similar to the GSh-30-1 autocannon found in the Su-57. Managing targets and other pertinent information will be accomplished via an all-glass cockpit dominated by one large primary display that’s sure to serve a variety of purposes based on the situation alongside the usual variety of cockpit bells and whistles one might expect of a fighter designed in the 21st century.

This article by Alex Hollings was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

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