Happy 240th birthday, US Army! - We Are The Mighty
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Happy 240th birthday, US Army!

The Army is celebrating it’s 240th birthday today (June 14). Formed in 1775 by an act of the Continental Congress, the Army has grown from a ragtag group of state militias to one of the strongest combat forces in history. Check out this video to learn more about how the Army began and what its missions are today:


NOW: The are the Army’s top five photos of 2014

OR: Watch Stephen Colbert’s hilarious stint in Army basic training

Articles

You have to see Boeing’s awesome ‘Bird of Prey’ stealth aircraft

In the early 1990s, stealth aircraft technology was still coming into its own. The United States had developed the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, but there was still more work to do. So Boeing, one of the United States’ most capable defense aircraft developers, went to work.

The company’s Phantom Works division created the Boeing Bird of Prey, a single-seater black project stealth aircraft that looks like the most futuristic plane ever developed. It’s not — but it sure looks like it.

Boeing’s Bird of Prey looks part F-22 Raptor and part science fiction-inspired deep space fighter. Not much is known about the experimental fighter aircraft’s true purpose. Even less is known about the specific technologies it might have been testing. Its association with Phantom Works and being developed and constructed at Area 51 means the skies are the limit for UFO junkies and big tech enthusiasts. 

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
Figuratively speaking, that is. For all we know, we’re still working on sending this guy back home (Image by Pawel86 from Pixabay)

Despite its cool, futuristic appearance and the technologies it might have been testing, the program was a relatively cheap one for the aircraft manufacturer. At just $67 million dollars, the Bird of Prey is considered a “low-cost” program for a defense contractor. 

What is known about the Bird of Prey is that it was a stepping stone in the development of low-observable technologies and aircraft design. Some of its “revolutionary” design elements were later incorporated into the X-45 unmanned combat aerial vehicle, one of the earliest tested drones developed by the Air Force. 

The X-45 program was the first test the technology needed to, “conduct suppression of enemy air defense missions with unmanned combat air vehicles.”

Developing the Bird of Prey and its associated technology first began in 1992. The aircraft took its first flight in 1996. It never received an x-plane designation because it was never a true military test aircraft, but the tech it tested might later have been integrated into the F-22 and the F-35 fighters. 

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
“Well, hello, there.” (U.S. Air Force photo)

It’s also believed the Bird of Prey tested active camouflage technology for planes, which would allow it to change colors, luminosity or appearance mid-flight to blend into its environment.

Although the Bird of Prey was potentially packing a wide array of unknown and probably still-classified technologies, keeping costs down meant using commercially-available engines and manual controls, as opposed to computerized controls. 

Aside from classified future technologies, the Air Force also says its tested tech that is now considered “industry standards.” This includes the lack of a horizontal tailplane and a conventional vertical rudder, which is used in later experimental stealth drone aircraft. 

Boeing Phantom Works is an advanced prototyping arm of the aircraft manufacturer that has worked on a number of advanced vehicles and technologies, including the Boeing X-51 Waverider hypersonic vehicle and concepts for an as-yet unnamed sixth-generation joint strike fighter. 

The Bird of Prey was officially ended before the turn of the 21st Century, even though it looks the part of an aircraft from this era. After (presumably) being stripped of all the nifty tech that would allow it to evade ground sensors (and maybe the naked eye), it officially ended its career in the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
Let’s see Ben Stiller deal with this museum coming to life (U.S. Air Force)

Visitors to the massive aircraft and air power museum can see the Bird of Prey in the Modern Flight Gallery – near its successor aircraft, the X-36 flight demonstrator and the museum’s F-22 Raptor.

Feature image: Photo courtesy of Boeing

Intel

This is why China’s Social Credit Score is actually good

China has been implementing a system that looks something out of George Orwell’s 1984 called a social credit score. Yet, it has been widely accepted across the territories it operates in and applauded by the population. How can something that on paper sounds terrifying be championed by the public? Is it propaganda or does it really work?

You instantly know who will never pay back a loan

It’s hard to trust people, its harder to trust civilians when you’re a vet. We’ve all been burned by a friend or family member who needed money and tugged at our heart strings. So, we came to their aid only to be met with excuses. Now, I’m not talking about those who are genuinely having a hard time and it is hard to say when they will actually be able to pay you back. No, I’m talking about those who willingly misled people with no intention of ever paying you back. There’s a reason they couldn’t go to the bank and you should be able to know why. It’s a loan, not a gift, especially if it’s interest free.

The police can identify criminals easier

Surveillance is not uniquely communist or capitalist. Federal agencies already know everything about you. In the United States, it may not be actively observed by a person but if the need arises to investigate what you’ve been up to, the U.S. Government sure as hell has logs on your data. VPNs and The Onion Router network won’t help you against Uncle Sam. He practically invented the game of surveillance.

Using a system that knows where everyone is at all times is only a threat to criminals. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Contrary to popular belief, Joseph Goebbels did not come up with the phrase, we did. Upton Sinclair used it in 1918 in The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation. The Social Credit System can reduce both violent and white-collar crimes by action or deterrent.

The government will reward you for being a good citizen

Once the person had enacted the “honest” behavior, which happened in all the “positive” reports we analyzed, the narratives ended with a virtue cascade. Take, for example, cases in which individuals found and returned lost property to an owner. Here, all four cases assigned to the topic “return lost property to owner” ended by further attributing “self-discipline”, “helpfulness”, “care-taking for others”, and a “sense of responsibility” to the protagonist as part of a virtue cascade.

University of Munich, How China’s Social Credit System Currently Defines “Good” and “Bad” Behavior

Veterans are a selfless group of people, albeit, not always approachable. We have a moral compass that points true. Veterans have integrity. The public trusts us. Veterans are law abiding citizens, even if we get into mischief from time to time. The Social Credit System rewards people who donate money to charity, return lost items to the police, and engage in selfless acts of heroism. The SCS shows who is trustworthy, honest, and hardworking. Many of the virtues valued by the CSC are virtues that beat inside the hearts of veterans anyway.

You can better gauge if someone is a potential spouse

couple social credit score

Divorce rates for military members who have been deployed are higher: It’s 12.52% for those in the U.S. Navy, 8.9% in the Marines, 8.48% in the Army and 14.6% in Air Force, according to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch data.

Marketwatch.com

When I was in Afghanistan, I could only use the satellite phone once a month when it came to the patrol base if we were lucky. I could either call my mother or my girlfriend. They lived together while I was deployed so I could call one and speak to them both. Most deployed troops do not have the luxury of such an arrangement.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of cheating spouses. Some of you reading this may have been victims of disloyal spouses. Looking at your spouse’s Social Credit Score can give you peace of mind. When you see hers plummeting because of immoral behavior, you’re going to know why in real time.

When dating someone and getting to know them you can scan them and see immediately if they’re going to screw you over. Only unethical people would be opposed the system. With a quick scan you can see if your tinder date is just using you to score a meal or if they’re financially independent. A profile on your phone will show you if they’re in soul crushing debt or have a prison record.

You get priority access to privileges and reputable companies

As a model citizen you will get privileges like favorite interest rates on loans, first class travel tickets at better prices, rentals without a deposit and much more financially speaking. For employers, it works better than a background check. For investors, the government will show you how reputable a company is and if they’re operating in good faith. Consumers can avoid companies that are dishonest about their food safety protocols, fraudulent, and downright illegal.

A Social Credit Score is actually a good idea in theory. The system is about trust – but verify.

Intel

The Army is building robot trucks that drive themselves into battle

The US Army and Lockheed Martin developed and tested a self-driving convoy system.


“The Army envisions a future operational concept where autonomy-enabled formations augment the warfighter as team members, not just as tools,” Army Lt. Col. Matt Dooley told an audience, according to Defense One.

According to the Army’s Operating Concept for 2020-2040, soldiers will be more lethal while making their job less hazardous by combining troops and semi-autonomous machines during operations.

This video shows the autonomous convoy system developed between the Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin:

Intel

Russia’s ‘worst-kept secret’ is its dependence on mercenaries to project power

The days of the United States staring down the evil empire of the Soviet Union are long passed. Today, Russia is a Wal-Mart version of its former self, and it shows. Although it may seem like a military or strategic powerhouse, it’s ability to project real power is seriously limited. 

In the bygone Russian heyday, the communist threat loomed large. It was a threat that was enough to make the United States – the only other global superpower – limit its wars and interventions for fear of sparking another world war. 

Today, Russia’s biggest threat comes in the form of either bungled poisonings of former Soviet-era operatives and dissidents, election interference, and hacking corporate software that allowed it to collect intelligence on government email servers. 

While the SolarWinds hack was definitely threatening and potentially disastrous, it’s not really the great power struggles we’ve come to expect from an increasingly belligerent Russia. In real terms, according to the RAND Corporation, Russia isn’t really able to make a significant threat to forces on the ground… Unless you happen to be within arms reach.

In a March 2021 blog post, the RAND Corporation’s Molly Dunigan and Ben Connable wrote that Russia’s ability to project power on the ground has actually become a strategic vulnerability, and one the Biden Administration could exploit, if it chose to do so.

“It has almost no organic ability to project and sustain ground power more than a few hundred kilometers beyond its own borders. Russian strategic lift is anemic compared to Soviet-era lift. Available forces are often tied down in one of the many frozen conflicts that ring Russia’s western and southern borders,” they write. 

The conflicts they are referring to are most notably the Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War and backing separatist rebels in Ukraine. 

Russia, they posit, depends on an army full of drafted Russians who are serving one-year enlistments, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decreed that drafted Russians will never be deployed outside of Russia. Those forces make up around half of Russia’s total ground force. 

Instead of using its drafted army to project power, Russia instead uses companies that provide military services, some might call them “mercenaries” to reach its foreign policy goals in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen, Burundi, and elsewhere. 

Russia
Russia’s Ceremonial Guard still looks polished, but the Russian military’s power is not what it once was.

Russia will contend that its use of mercenaries alongside its special operations and conventional forces allows it to compete with the United States, Dunigan and Connablle wrote, but that narrative is counterfactual. Such a force actually squared off against a force of United States special operators and Kurdish SDF fighters in Khasham, Syria in 2018. The fight did not go well for the Russians, their mercenaries, and their Syrian allies. 

500 Russian, Syrian, and Shia Militiamen with T-72 and T-55 tanks hit a base of 40 special forces troops, backed by United States Marine Corps artillery, U.S. Air Force “Spooky” gunships, and more firepower were quickly routed in Khasham, losing a quarter of the attacking force in the firefight. It wasn’t even close. 

Rather than bolstering the Russian military on the ground, the mercenaries are instead an example in the decline of the former Soviet Union’s ground force, indicative of its increasing dependence on small, special operations missions and sneaky espionage tactics. But these too are things the United States will have to learn to counter as Russia’s skills with them grow.

Intel

33 of America’s most terrifying nuclear mishaps

Since the beginning of the U.S. nuclear program, there have been 33 nuclear weapons accidents, known as “broken arrows,” according to Eric Schlosser in his book: Command and Control. A “broken arrow” is the Pentagon’s phrase for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons that result in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft, or loss of the weapon.


An example of a “broken arrow” is the Goldsboro accident in which a B-52 carrying two nuclear bombs broke apart, dropping the bombs over Goldsboro, North Carolina. Or the time in 1966 when a B-52 crashed into a KC-135 Stratotanker during a refueling operation, releasing four thermonuclear bombs over Spain. It’s hard to believe, but there are 31 more times these doomsday scenarios played out.

Here is a brief, terrifying history of some of America’s nuclear mishaps:

NOW: The 7 weirdest nuclear weapons ever developed

OR: The US nuclear launch code during the Cold War was weaker than your granny’s AOL password

Intel

Here is an inside look at the Armata, Russia’s main battle tank

The Armata is billed as Russia’s deadliest battle tank and is based on a universal combat platform that serves as the chassis for other military vehicles.


The first configuration, the T-14, has a heavily armored hull and a 125-mm cannon.

T-14 Armata T-14 Armata, Wikimedia

The second configuration is an infantry fighting vehicle with a smaller, 30-mm cannon and is called the BMP Armata, or T-15.

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
T-15 Armata, Wikimedia

The third configuration has a crane instead of a cannon and is the Armored Repair-Evacuation Vehicle, or T-16. It is used to recover damaged armored vehicles and tanks.

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
T-16 Armata (RoyXPsp3, YouTube)

The Armata platform has been under development since 2009 and began trials in Feb. 2015. Large deliveries of the tank will start in 2017 or 2018, according to Interfax. Here is the latest video showing the capabilities of the tank, including shots of its interior.

Watch: 

MIGHTY TRENDING

The interesting backstories to each of Gen. Jim Mattis’ nicknames

There has never been a United States Secretary of Defense that has been so universally beloved. Retired Gen. Jim Mattis was confirmed last year by a landslide vote of 98 in favor and 1 opposed, despite being on a waiver to circumvent the seven-years-since-retirement requirement to be appointed Secretary of Defense.


Long before he rose to the highest position in the Armed Forces, second only to the President, he earned several monikers, each from a different aspect of his ability to lead.

4. “Mad Dog” Mattis

For the record: He is not a fan of the name, “Mad Dog” Mattis. So, you probably don’t want to go saying it to a man that has admitted that the max effective range on his knife hand is hundreds of miles. It dates back to a 2004 Los Angeles Times article saying that U.S. troops in Fallujah called him “Mad Dog” behind his back and that it was “high praise” in Marine culture.

The “Mad Dog” label stuck following a series of intimidating quotes, such as, “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet” and “a good soldier follows orders, but a true warrior wears his enemy’s skin like a poncho.” At Gen. Mattis’s confirmation hearing, former Maine Senator and the Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001, William Cohen, joked that it’s a misnomer and the nickname “Braveheart” would have been much more accurate.

 

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Zachary Dyer

 

3. “Warrior Monk”

The most accurate of his nicknames has to be “The Warrior Monk.” Another beautiful Mattisism is, “the most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”

Gen. Mattis is well known for his intelligence, extensive book collection, and giving his troops required reading lists that range from cultural studies to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. For his complete reading list, broken down by rank and region of deployment, click here.

 

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
One has to wonder about his take on fictional war novels, like Dune, Starship Troopers, and Ender’s Game. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

2. “CHAOS”

His preferred nickname is the call sign he used as a Colonel, “Chaos.” He joked at a conference that he’d like to tell people that it was for some dignified reason, but it’s not.

When he was a regimental commander at Twentynine Palms, he was leaving the S-3 office and noticed the words “CHAOS” written on the whiteboard. He asked someone what it meant and got, “Oh, you don’t need to know about that…” which, of course, only piqued his interest more. Finally, they broke it to him that it meant, “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution.” It was a joke at his expense that he took in stride, so he wore it as a badge of honor.

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
If anything, Gen. Mattis knows how to take a joke in stride. (Image via Instagram)

 

1. “Patron Saint of Chaos”

Secretary of Defense Mattis’ legendary status among the troops has earned him the title, “Saint Mattis of Quantico. Patron Saint of Chaos.”

The meme has spread far and wide from Terminal Lance to t-shirts to the sidebar of the USMC subreddit to even being posted by the MARSOC official Facebook page.

 

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
(Image via OAF Nation)

So, if you’ll join us in a quick reading,

Hail Mattis, full of hate. Our troops stand with thee. Blessed art though among enlisted. And blessed is the fruit of thy knife hand. Holy Mattis, father of War. Pray for us heathen, Now and at the hour of combat. Amen.

Intel

This awesome video shows planes ‘painting’ the night sky

Situated between Area 51 and the Nevada Test and Training Range is a place called “Coyote Summit” which offers a perfect spot for watching air traffic coming out of Nellis Air Force Base.


Photographer Eric Bowen went to the spot in August for Red Flag, the Air Force-sponsored exercise which simulates an air war between aggressors and aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, and Royal Air Force units.

From the Air Force:

A typical RED FLAG exercise involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft (F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, A-10, B-1, B-2, etc.), reconnaissance aircraft (Predator, Global Hawk, RC-135, U-2), electronic warfare aircraft (EC-130s, EA-6Bs and F-16CJs), air superiority aircraft (F-22, F-15C, etc), airlift support (C-130, C-17), search and rescue aircraft (HH-60, HC-130, CH-47), aerial refueling aircraft (KC-130, KC-135, KC-10, etc), Command and Control aircraft (E-3, E-8C, E-2C, etc) as well as ground based Command and Control, Space, and Cyber Forces.

Bowen spent a few nights at the Summit filming at night, and produced this awesome video. Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=31v=VXUSJzkBVDI

(h/t The Aviationist)

Intel

Air Force builds up Alaskan F-35 fleet in ‘great power competition’ Arctic pivot

April 2021 marks one year since the Air Force’s first two F-35A Lightning II advanced stealth fighters arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. Twenty-five of the Air Force’s fifth-generation fighters are now at Eielson, part of the service’s overall plan to turn Alaska into a “fifth-gen powerhouse,” according to an Air Force press release.

“We have come a long way since the arrival of the first aircraft in April 2020 to now,” Air Force Maj. Jarod DiGeorge of the 354th Fighter Wing said in the release. “Flying 24 sorties in one day barely eight months after first wheels down at Eielson. We are currently on track to achieve initial combat capability this spring and full combat capability next winter.”

Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James issued a 2016 “record of decision,” effectively establishing Eielson as the home for the service’s Alaska-based F-35s. Additionally, the measure reactivated the 354th Fighter Wing and placed it at Eielson. The wing is slated to receive 54 F-35As in total and is on track to reach full capacity by March 2022.

Happy 240th birthday, US Army!
A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing flies over Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. Thirty-five F-35As, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and KC-135 Stratotankers conducted an “Elephant Walk” formation showcasing the air assets located in interior Alaska. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Dubois/Released.

A strong deterrent in Alaska is quickly becoming a focal point of a renewed “great power competition” between China, Russia, and the US. In January 2018, Beijing’s so-called Polar Silk Road Arctic strategy declared China to be a “near-Arctic state” — even though China’s nearest territory to the Arctic is some 900 miles away. Additionally, Moscow and Beijing have agreed to connect the Northern Sea Route, claimed by Russia, with China’s Maritime Silk Road.

By 2022, Alaska will be one of most heavily defended airspaces on earth. When Eielson’s F-35 fleet is at full strength, Alaska will have more of America’s advanced, fifth-generation fighters than any other US state.

“America cannot afford to fall behind as other nations devote resources to the Arctic region to secure their national interests. America’s very real interests in the Arctic will only increase in the years to come,” authors Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis wrote in a March 2020 report for The Heritage Foundation.

As Eielson AFB gets more F-35As, it gets closer to being fully combat capable. “It allows our aircrew to be able to train realistically without limitations and to accomplish their specific airborne requirements to be fully proficient in the mission and fly at a combat mission ready rate,” DiGeorge said. “Each and every aircraft we receive is also a projection of the wing’s airpower and furthers our ability to strike in a moment’s notice.”

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This stealth helicopter was awesome right up to the point the program was canceled

Heat, smoke, and that loud “wop-wop” sound make helicopters easy targets on the battlefield. For these reasons, helicopters make the unlikeliest candidates for stealth technology. But during the 1990s and early 2000s, Boeing-Sikorsky challenged that notion with the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.

The Light Helicopter Experimental program is the brainchild of the U.S. Army. It charged Boeing-Sikorsky with developing armed reconnaissance and attack helicopters. The result incorporated stealth technologies that minimized radar and human detection. It used advanced sensors for reconnaissance intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. The helicopter was also armed to the teeth with tucked away missiles and rockets to destroy armed vehicles. Two prototypes were built and tested but the project was ultimately canceled in 2004.


Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

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