Navy uses 'Star Wars' parody as opening salvo of this year's Army-Navy game video war - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war

The forthcoming movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has already inspired parodies, including the latest Navy spirit video ahead of the Army-Navy football game on Saturday, December 12.


In classic rivalry fashion, the Midshipmen predict their 14th straight win against the Black Nights. (Navy has enjoyed a winning streak since 2002.)

The video description follows episode IV’s plot of the rescue of princess Leia. (Just replace Star Wars terms with Navy ones.)

Luke and his band of fellow Mids set out on a journey to rescue Midshipman Leia from Army West Point on the eve of Navy football’s 14th victory. Losing streaks are a path to the dark side. May the 14 be with them.

And the jabs don’t stop there. The video cleverly pokes fun at West Point’s pillow fight incident earlier this year in which 30 first-year students were injured.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
YouTube: Nickle2e

When Darth Vader asks what the current state of the academy is, a West Point cadet answers:

My general, everything is normal. It is cold, morale is low and the football team is … like I said, everything is normal.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
YouTube: Nickle2e

The elaborate production includes 27 midshipmen, the varsity offshore sailing team,  the Commandant of Midshipmen, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and even the Chief of Naval Operations.

Watch:

Intel

ISIS fighter with a GoPro camera films himself getting shot

We can thank an unlucky ISIS fighter for giving us a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be shot in the grape.


First-person footage shot on a GoPro worn by the fighter shows the moment he’s shot during a firefight with Iraqi soldiers, according to Funker 530, a military video site.

“The full length video (which was deleted by YouTube) shows evidence that he was struck in the head by the round, and at that moment the world became a slightly better place,” Will writes.

Watch:

NOW: This awesome GoPro video takes you inside an F-16 flying over Alaska

Intel

Watch a Navy SEAL hilariously critique a video of ISIS ‘Navy SEALs’

ISIS has elite Navy SEALs. Well, at least that’s what they want you to think.


The terror group released a five-minute propaganda video in April showing fighters coming out of the water with AK-47s at the ready and learning martial arts. Then there were the masked men sneaking up and taking out clueless guards using nothing but knives.

A few weeks ago, Independent-Journal Review decided to ask real U.S. Navy SEAL Jonathan T. Gilliam to analyze and critique the video. It turned out to be pretty funny.  We especially like how impressed he was at the “Hollywood carry your knife in the mouth tactic.”

Watch:

NOW: Here’s How US Navy SEALs Take Down A House

Articles

This is how Russia could sweep NATO from the Baltic Sea

If the Baltics are a flashpoint where a war between Russia and NATO breaks out, it might be the Baltic Sea where those first shots are fired.


Things are so tense that during his Senate confirmation hearings, retired Marine General James Mattis indicated he supported a permanent U.S. military presence in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
A paratrooper assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, launches a missile from a Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile system at a live-fire training exercise in Drawkso Pomorskie, Poland, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve Aug. 19. The operation includes combined training exercises with U.S., Polish, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian military forces to foster cohesive relationships and demonstrate a commitment to NATO obligations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hector Membreno)

Tensions in that region have been high. This past April, the Daily Caller reported that Su-24 Fencers buzzed the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75). A closer look at that event, though, can give a sense as to what America could be facing.

Like it or not, in the event of war, American forces will have to get to the Baltic States. With their membership in NATO, defending them is a solemn obligation due to the provisions of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a low altitude pass by USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) April 12, 2016. Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo)

So, America has an obligation to defend them. That means getting reinforcements there in a hurry.

For armored brigade combat teams, like the one on rotation to Europe, this means a seaborne convoy. That probably means using at least a couple dozen military sealift ships and escorts to move a division of troops and supplies.

How might Russia take down such a convoy? Part of it would be using the geography of the Baltic Sea. It is a very narrow, confined body of water. Furthermore, the short distances involved mean that any convoy could have only a few minutes’ warning of an air attack.

As the Daily Caller notes, the Donald Cook was buzzed largely because she had very little warning of the Fencers’ approach.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
U.S. Navy photo by Heather Judkins

The Baltic is also full of places where diesel-electric submarines like the Kilo-class or Lada-class could hide and carry out ambushes. The submarines would likely sit at chokepoints like the Kattegat or Skagerrak – targeting escorts like Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Once some of the escorts are taken out, Russia would then send Su-24s at low level to attack the sealift vessels and surviving escorts, likely using missiles like the AS-20 “Kayak” – the Russian equivalent to the AGM-84 Harpoon.

Destroying the convoy may be the Russians’ best chance to defeat NATO in a war over the Baltic States. That said, if the United States were to bring back the old POMCUS (Prepositioning Of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets) system, that would greatly reduce the time it took to reinforce any force initially in the Baltic States.

popular

This video shows how ‘Full Metal Jacket’ was made

Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is arguably one of the most influential military movies of all time. It’s the movie would-be troops romanticize about before enlisting in the military and it’s certainly the movie they watch to mentally prepare themselves before shipping off to boot camp to face their drill instructors.


However, as iconic as this 1987 film has become, it almost didn’t turn out that way. This 30-minute video shows how Full Metal Jacket was made and what the cast and crew did to “get it right.” There are plenty of interesting tidbits, like how relatively unknown actor Vincent D’Onofrio initially didn’t even want to do the film, and why a horrific scene between “Animal Mother” and the sniper was cut out.

Watch (profanity warning):


Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

Intel

This guy built the ultimate gatling gun out of Roman candles

He watched one too many 1980s action hero movies.


Seemingly inspired by characters like Rambo and Commando, this guy taped a bunch of roman candle fireworks to make the ultimate gatling guns. However, unlike Rambo and his famous machine gun scene, he actually runs out of ammo.

Watch him live out his fantasy while it lasts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPZijDUt_u0

NOW: Everyone can achieve ‘Rambo’ status with this 500-round backpack

OR: We got an inside look at the crazy guns used in ‘Terminator Genisys’

Articles

The Army dropped the Chevy Colorado-based ISV from the sky

In June 2020, the Army selected the GM submission for the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The $214 million contract calls for 649 to be delivered to the Army over a five-year period. Based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the ISV is designed to provide rapid and organic transportation to light infantry units. Naturally, the best unit to test the ISV is America’s Airborne.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
A full infantry squad of nine soldiers and all their gear aboard the ISV (U.S. Army)

The 82nd Airborne Division is tasked with being the nation’s Immediate Response Force. Along with an airlift from the Air Force, the IRF is designed around rapidly deploying a Brigade Combat Team anywhere around the world within 18 hours of notification. The lightweight ISV is ideally suited for this role. In order to test this capability, the 82nd had to drop it from a plane.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
Paratroopers of 2-325 IN de-rig the ISV on Holland Drop Zone (U.S. Army)

2-325 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team worked with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate to conduct the ISV’s airdrop certification. The ISV was delivered by standard low-velocity from a C-130 and C-17 as well as by a standard dual-row airdrop system from a C-17. Upon landing, paratroopers de-rigged the ISV, loaded their rucks on its roof, and drove it over smooth and rough terrain. “Operational testing is an opportunity for test units to train hard while having the opportunity to offer their feedback to improve Army equipment,” Maj. Cam Jordan, executive officer at ABNSOTD, said. Testing was conducted on the Holland and Sicily Drop Zones at Fort Bragg from March through June 2021.

The ISV will enhance the mobility and lethality of the light infantry. “The ISV will be a game changer for a rifle squad,” Jordan said. “The ability to drop this in with the soldiers will give them much greater reach and endurance to complete their mission.” The Colorado-based vehicle can carry all nine soldiers in a squad and their individual combat loads.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
The ISV aboard a C-17 right before it is extracted by parachute (U.S. Army)

Moreover, the ISV utilizes 70% off-the-shelf components from its commercial variant. This makes it easier for an infantry squad to operate and maintain.

“This vehicle will work well as a means of rapid insertions for an Infantry squad into all types of terrain, including urban environment,” Spc. Brice T. Dunahue, after testing the ISV, said. “The similarities to civilian vehicles will ensure training is fluid and in emergency situations can be operated by any solider.”

The 5,000-pound ISV is also designed to be sling loaded under a UH-60 Blackhawk or flown inside a CH-47 Chinook. As testing continues and the Army takes delivery of more vehicles, the ISV will roll its way into the motor pools of infantry units across the force.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
The ISV is dropped from a C-17 (U.S. Army)
Intel

See how Russia’s all-female paratrooper battalion trains for war

Russia is drastically stepping up its airborne exercises this summer, but its paratrooper training units have one battalion that stands out. The all-female battalion trains Russian women to take leadership positions in Russia’s elite blue berets. RT, a Russian news outlet, created this documentary following a group of the women through their combat training.


Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLiwRcOZhgI

NOW: The 24 funniest moments from’Band of Brothers’

OR: Four fearless fighting females

Articles

Move over stealth, America needs faster jets to beat China

As the United States reenters the realm of great power competition, America needs to maintain its technological edge in stealth, but would benefit from a renewed emphasis on speed in combat aviation… even at the expense of observability in some platforms.

For some, the above sentence will read like a ham-fisted oxymoron coming from a chump who doesn’t understand how air power works in the modern era. After all, the most potent threats on the horizon come from China and, to a lesser extent, Russia–both nations with advanced air defense capabilities that would make even the most capable fourth-generation fighters like the new F-15EX a pretty easy target.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
U.S. Air Force F-15EX Eagle II (Left) next to an F-15E Strike Eagle (Right) (USAF Photo)

Related: THE F-15EX MAY BE THE BADDEST 4TH-GEN JET ON THE PLANET

The F-15EX is, quite literally, the fastest aircraft in Uncle Sam’s operational inventory, so one could argue that speed just isn’t what combat aviation is about anymore. In fact, that’s exactly what you’ll hear from most fighter pilots today. The F-35, for all its faults, is widely touted as perhaps the most capable tactical aircraft in history, despite being almost slow compared to Cold War powerhouses like the F-14 Tomcat. The F-35A can achieve speeds as high as Mach 1.6, while the F-35B and C are both limited to Mach 1.3–a speed they can only maintain for less than one minute. The long-retired Tomcat, on the other hand, could pass Mach 2.3 without breaking much of a sweat.

The truth of the matter is, in a high-end fight with a nation like China, the United States would be better off flying a fleet of slower F-35s than faster (and more easily targeted) F-14s… but that line of thinking isn’t accurate to the reality of America’s simmering conflict with China. Open and conventional war with China is extremely unlikely any time in the relative future, and while America needs to invest in the technology and a force structure that can deter such a fight even further, the Sino-American conflict is more likely to play out like a new Cold War in the decades to come. That means competing in the developing world, rather than in China’s backyard.

Finally, if a large-scale war were to break out, American pilots will need speed to effectively manage individual engagements as the conflict presses on. Sometimes, the best tactical decision a pilot can make is to “bug out,” or escape the area and an opponent’s advantage. That’s where speed, once again, becomes vital to survival.

Competition with China and Russia will take place in the developing world

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
China’s first military base in Africa was opened in Djibouti in 2017 (PLA Daily)

Related: J-20 FIGHTER BOMBER: CHINA’S PLAN TO FIELD THE WORLD’S FIRST 2-SEAT STEALTH FIGHTER

Immediately after World War II, the United States and Soviet Union found themselves in a decades-long staring match that prompted huge investments in military capability across both nations. The goal was simple: build the platforms you’d need to win the third World War, and that alone may be enough deterrence to prevent it from starting. Both nations built fighters and bombers that could fly ever higher, ever faster, hoping to defeat burgeoning air defenses like the SR-71 could… by simply outrunning any missile you could shoot at it.

Let there be no doubt that this method of deterrence was effective, and in truth, the most potent weapon systems are those you never have to actually employ in order to achieve your geopolitical goals. But the unintentional side effect of developing more powerful nuclear weapons and more capable airpower platforms was an inability for American and Soviet forces to actually engage one another without bringing about the nuclear apocalypse.

In order to avoid that possibility, the United States and Soviet Union turned to partner nations and proxy forces, expanding influence and strategic leverage around the globe through overt diplomacy and covert military action and assistance. In some cases, partner or proxy forces supported by each respective nation would clash, leading to America’s involvement in conflicts like the Vietnam War. Terrible as these conflicts were, they were considered a tolerable alternative to nuclear winter as the world’s two superpowers tip-toed on the line of global conflict.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
1960s era Soviet propaganda poster depicted Soviet support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam war.

China, a nation that wields not only nuclear weapons but a vast amount of economic leverage and the largest naval force on the planet, is similarly positioned for a long and drawn-out staring contest with the United States. Not only would such a fight cripple both national militaries, but it would also neuter China’s ongoing plans for expanding its global influence, as well as create chaos throughout the global economy for decades to come.

Related: JUST HOW BIG IS CHINA’S NAVY? BIGGER THAN YOU THINK

China isn’t going to declare war on the United States any time soon… But China and the United States are going to continue to compete in practically every appreciable way, which includes establishing relationships in developing countries for the purposes of gaining access to strategic resources and ports. As luck (perhaps bad luck) would have it, the regions of the world that are most likely to have those very sorts of commodities on the market throughout the 21st century are often exactly where American and allied forces are already conducting counter violent extremists operations (Counter VEO): Africa and the Middle East.

But while America and its allies have been accumulating operational experience in these theaters, China hasn’t been sleeping. Despite China largely staying out of the Global War on Terror, it has been expanding its influence in these same regions via economic and infrastructure programs, including providing massive loans to developing nations that many suspect won’t be able to pay China back. China, it seems, would prefer they didn’t anyway–as the leverage defaulted loans would offer is more strategically valuable than paying interest on a loan could be.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
The Chinese-built Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway. (Photo: Skilla1st)

“Right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometers are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous,” explained Daan Rogeveen, an author and expert on urbanization in China and Africa.

As a result, there’s an extremely high likelihood that the United States will find itself supporting proxy or partner forces in places like Africa and the Middle East. In fact, America already does. These forces will likely find themselves in direct competition with proxy or partner forces receiving support from China and Russia. The quagmire that is the ongoing conflict in Syria serves as a contemporary example of just how diverse foreign interests within a single nation can be, and just how dangerous operations in one can get.

America’s only dogfight in more than 20 years was in uncontested airspace against a 50-year-old jet

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel is the only American fighter pilot to score an air-to-air kill since 1999. (U.S. Navy photo)

It’s worth noting that it was, in fact, over Syria that the United States scored its only air-to-air kill in literal decades in 2017, when a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet was forced to engage a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter that was attacking partner forces on the ground.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
Syrian Air Force Su-22

This short fight also offered an important lesson about bridging the gap between longstanding airpower and the cutting-edge systems employed by the United States. Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel, the pilot in the Super Hornet, first locked onto the Soviet-era Su-22 with the one of the Navy’s latest and most advanced air-to-air weapons, the AIM-9X, but when he fired, the Fitter deployed flares and managed to fool what was previously considered to be the most capable air combat missile in service.

“It came off the rails quick,” Tremel said. “I lost the smoke trail and I had no idea what happened to the missile after that.”

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
AIM-9X Sidewinder (U.S. Navy photo)

Related: AIR FORCE’S NEW F-15EX MAKES DOGFIGHTING DEBUT IN ALASKA WAR GAMES

Tremel then locked on once again with an older AIM-120 AMRAAM and fired, this time finding his target and turning the Su-22 into a fireball. While the Pentagon hasn’t offered an explanation as to why their newest missile failed to discern a real fighter from a bucket of flares, some experts have postulated that it may have been a result of the AIM-9X being too well-tuned to distinguish jets from the latest and most advanced flares employed by top-of-the-line 4th and 5th generation platforms. The Su-22 has been flying since 1966, and its dirty old flares weren’t something the AIM-9X expected to run into.

Sometimes, winning a fight isn’t about who fields the latest or most expensive technology. It’s about who fields the right technology for the right situation.

Detection isn’t a threat over the developing world. Distance is.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war

On October 4, 2017, a group of U.S. Army Green Berets and Nigerian soldiers was ambushed by fighters from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in Niger. The tragic firefight ended with four dead U.S. troops, five dead Nigerian soldiers, and some difficult questions about how the most highly trained warfighters in the world with support from the most powerful military in the world found themselves fighting through a tactical disadvantage without any air support close enough to make a difference.

In 2012, a coordinated attack against two separate U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya came with similarly painful lessons. When the dust settled, four Americans were dead, including two CIA contractors and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Like the ambush in Niger, air support for Americans in Libya was too far away to provide any meaningful assistance throughout the majority of the fight.

These two instances were outliers stretched across two decades worth of counter-extremist operations, but they both perfectly demonstrate the very real limitations of American airpower when it comes to distance. Public perception of American airpower is not always congruous with the realities of combat, an issue that extends all the way to partner forces. The assumption among most is that America has all-seeing aircraft flying overhead at all times… but that simply isn’t true.

“Unfortunately, public perception is driven sometimes by news coverage, but also by modern movies,” Dr. James Kiras explained about partner forces in a recent episode of The Irregular Warfare Podcast.

“And the idea that somehow we can’t maintain persistent coverage, that a cloud-for example-moving between you and a target could allow you to lose coverage for a critical period just seems completely inconceivable to them.”

Related: F-35 PILOT: FORGET DRONES, THE SKIES STILL BELONG TO FIGHTER PILOTS

The American people also tend to think that the United States has MQ-9 Reapers or armed F-15E Strike Eagles standing by within firing distance of every military operation–something that has been true to a large extent throughout the past two decades of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a “stack” of air support platforms are often standing by to engage the enemy. Now, however, as the U.S. repositions assets to better deter Chinese aggression, there will be fewer air platforms to go around in these regions.

At the same time, American special operations forces tasked with fighting or training proxy fighters for conflicts in Africa and the Middle East will be spread out further and operating with less support than ever before in the modern era. Without a new approach to air support, it’s a recipe for Niger or Benghazi-style disasters.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
This chart offers some visual context regarding the vast size of the African continent. It would take even America’s fastest fighters multiple hours and frequent refuels to cross the continent. (WikiMedia Commons)

In order to provide real airpower where it’s needed, the United States doesn’t need a fleet of slow and stealthy F-35s standing by on airstrips across friendly African nations–it needs fast air platforms with great fuel range and loitering capabilities that can reach operators in need, provide air support as necessary, and still make it back to an airstrip.

America will also need less advanced platforms that can fly from austere airstrips and travel alongside special operations teams (the Armed Overwatch Program). There are no advanced air defenses to defeat or sneak past in places like Africa. The greatest challenge to overcome then is what’s commonly referred to as “the tyranny of distance.”

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
A Beechcraft AT-6 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. Platforms like the AT-6 are being tested for us in air support and ISR roles in places Special Operations troops are operating without traditional air support. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner)

Related: DRONES WILL COMPETE WITH CREWED AIRCRAFT FOR AFSOC ARMED OVERWATCH PROGRAM

When isolated elements of American troops are caught at a disadvantage, waiting four hours or more to get an F-16 on station may require a miracle, but waiting more than twice that long for a slow-moving MQ-9 Reaper may be impossible. Worse still, once the fast-moving F-16 does reach the embattled troops, they usually only have about 30 minutes of fuel to burn before having to head back–once again leaving these isolated troops without air support.

Speed has already proven handy in combat in the uncontested airspaces of the Middle East. Two years ago, I interviewed Major “Coyote” Laney, a B-1B pilot instructor from the 28th Bomb Squadron, for Popular Mechanics. He told me a story about one air support mission he flew in which the supersonic bomber’s speed made all the difference.

“I remember in Afghanistan where troops needed help across the entire country and I could go 1.2 Mach all the way there and still have enough gas to hang out when I got there,” Laney explained.

“So you can take a platform that’s on the East side of Afghanistan and 15 or 20 minutes later, I’m showing up when there’s no one else for several hundred miles that could help.”

Of course, the B-1B Lancer is now slated for retirement, with the sub-sonic and stealthy B-21 Raider slated to replace it.

We need stealth to deter China, but we need speed and volume to counter them

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war

We have a bad habit of treating these sorts of discussions like they’re all-or-nothing debates. When the Air Force requests funding for new F-15s, lawmakers and the public together cry foul at the idea of spending money on old jets that lack the stealth they’d need to survive a fight against China or Russia. Then, when the Air Force uses stealthy F-22s to conduct airstrikes against targets in uncontested airspace over places like Afghanistan, lawmakers and the public again cry foul over the high cost of using a stealth fighter for such a simple job. We can’t have it both ways, but we do need both jets.

America needs platforms like the F-35 and forthcoming Next Generation Air Dominance fighter to win the wars of tomorrow, and importantly, to deter them today, but we can’t let our American preference for only the newest and best platforms unduly influence the composition of our military forces. In a perfect world, the United States wouldn’t need any fighter jets. In an almost perfect world, the U.S. could afford to operate massive fleets of stealth fighters for each and every job. But in the decidedly imperfect world we live in, we’re often stuck choosing between capability and capacity. Do we want the best jets we can build or enough jets to meet our mission requirements?

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
Balancing capability against budget is the unfortunate reality of warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Related: WHY IS AMERICA BUYING THE F-15EX INSTEAD OF MORE F-35S?

While not exactly like the last Cold War, this new Sino-American Cold War possesses a similar capacity for proxy conflicts, and because these conflicts are likely to play out over the massive landmass of Africa as well as the Middle East, finding a way to get air support to far-flung troops quickly will undoubtedly save American lives.

But it won’t just be enough to field fast aircraft. They’ll also have to be cheap enough to be built in the sort of volume that would be required to overcome that tyranny of distance. With enough fast and cheap air support platforms spread throughout the continent, getting air support to special operations troops in Africa could shift from practically impossible to just another day at the office, or as close to that as one can come in combat.

Re-learning that dogfighting isn’t dead

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
(DARPA)

While there’s a much higher likelihood that the United States will find itself supporting proxy or partner forces in the developing world with interests that run counter to China’s or Russia’s, there remains the possibility that this new “Cold War” could boil over into a hot one. The implications of such a conflict would be massive, and even attempting an analysis of just the air war that would unfold would take a book in itself–but as this discussion pertains to tactical aircraft and speed, this is another place the U.S. needs more power under the hood.

If you talk to most modern fighter pilots, they’ll tell you that the days of dogfighting are over, thanks to the development of over-the-horizon weapons and advanced sensor suites that will allow pilots in America’s most advanced jets to target inbound fighters before their pilots even know there’s trouble brewing.

Ward Carroll, famed journalist, author, and former U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) has heard the contemporary arguments about dogfights being a thing of the past and warns about making assumptions amid a decades-long era of uncontested flight operations, especially in aircraft that aren’t fast enough to escape a pursuing fighter.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
An F-14 Tomcat engages and F-16N Viper adversary aircraft during a TOPGUN ACM flight in the 1980s. (U.S. Navy photo)

“We get too liquored up on the technology and we start to forget what happens when it gets messy. You can run out of a squadron of F-35s in short order,” Carroll told Sandboxx News.

“I get F-35 guys who are like, ‘you just don’t get modern battles anymore.’ No, I think I do. I think you’re not remembering the lessons of serious roll your sleeves up, get your nose bloodied warfare.”

The idea that dogfighting is dead has been informed not only by two decades worth of counter-terror operations against enemy forces with no airpower, but it also carries an uncomfortable similarity to the line of thinking that dominated air war conversations leading into Vietnam. The U.S. believed the days of dogfighting in close quarters were over, so they fielded fast-moving F-4s armed with air-to-air missiles that weren’t nearly as effective as they were intended… and no guns for fighting in close quarters.

As a result, American aviators took a serious pounding from dated Soviet aircraft with tighter turn radiuses and guns.

 “That was the biggest mistake on the F-4,” John Chesire, who flew 197 combat missions in the Phantom during two tours in Vietnam, told Air & Space Magazine.

“Bullets are cheap and tend to go where you aim them. I needed a gun, and I really wished I had one.”

Winning a dogfight might take speed. Escaping one almost always does.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

While American F-86 Sabre fighter pilots racked up a kill-to-loss ratio of 10:1 in the Korean war, American dogfighting performance, due largely to assumptions about how combat had changed, diminished dramatically in Vietnam. In the first half of the Vietnam war, American pilots could manage an average of only 2 kills for every U.S. fighter downed. Those losses directly led to the formation of the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program that most of us know today as Top Gun, where a renewed emphasis was placed on dogfighting tactics.

Now, after another multi-decade lull in air combat, America’s aviation corps is once again certain about the future of the fight, but history begs that we hedge those bets. Ward Carroll recently published a YouTube video called “Dogfighting 101” wherein he argues that dogfighting may be absent in today’s combat environment, but it’ll come back in a hurry if a near-peer conflict were to unfold. I’ll set the video to start at that portion, but it’s really worth watching Carroll’s analysis in full.

If you aren’t able to give the video a watch, here’s what Carroll had to say about dogfighting being dead:

“I’m going to submit that dogfighting is not dead, because if you’ve ever been in a major exercise, not to mention, an air-to-air war like Desert Storm, then you know that, in the heat of battle, there’s confusion, there’s all kinds of chaos, and ultimately a bandit is going to sneak through and you’ll find yourself basically engaged one-on-one with the bad guys in an old school kind of way.”

Carroll doesn’t argue that American fighters are going to go looking for a chance to get up close and personal with China’s thrust-vectoring, stealth J-20B like some imagine when they picture dogfights. Instead, he reasonably expects that in a large force-on-force situation, the chaos of warfare is going to create the circumstances for these kinds of one-on-one engagements to occur.

Carroll’s argument seems to hold true when you look at the breakdown of the early days of the air war of Desert Storm. The Coalition Forces brought a massive amount of airpower to bear over Iraq in those first days of the conflict, but despite the sheer volume of airframes in the fight, a number of small dogfights broke out and, had there not been plenty of support in the area, many more could have.

You can see exactly what Carroll predicts in this breakdown from The Operations Room. The value of speed and maneuverability when within visual range is also evident in the video. Once again, I’ll start the video at the pertinent point, but it’s worth watching this in its entirety:

Related: WATCH: DESERT STORM’S AIR CAMPAIGN WAS ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE

What does all this have to do with speed? It’s certainly of use in a dogfight, but speed is also extremely important when it comes to getting out of a dogfight. Even the most advanced stealth platforms aren’t invisible, and if an F-35 found itself squaring off with a J-20B in a one-on-one situation, it’s feasible that the Chinese fighter could have the advantage through surprise or the roll of the combat dice.

In either regard, it would be in the F-35 pilot’s best interest to bug out and get away from that fight, or at least, to create enough separation to gain an advantage he or she could then press in turn. Unfortunately, the F-35 wouldn’t be fast enough to escape a J-20 if a pilot tried, so he or she would just be giving the Chinese jet a perfect opportunity. What’s worse is that, at this range, the F-35’s opponent wouldn’t even have to be a stealth aircraft itself.

“Stealth doesn’t work against bullets,” Carroll told Sandboxx News.

“We have multi-axis missiles now where I can shoot you behind my three-nine line [behind my aircraft]. Okay, but once you Winchester, meaning run out of those weapons, and you’re now in the visual arena, then none of your [stealth] defensives are working. And now you have an airplane that can barely go supersonic. So, welcome to getting shot down.”

When we’re talking about fighters squaring off with one another, stealth is extremely valuable, but in a large-scale fight with hundreds of jets in the area, speed clearly counts too.

How do you build a force that balances cost, speed, and technology?

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
(U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Melanie Bulow-Gonterman).

The Air Force purchasing new F-15EXs isn’t going to solve this problem. Not only do these new fighters cost around as much as an F-35 to build (despite offering significantly more service life), the new (old) fighters the Air Force receives are already slated to replace existing F-15s that are aging out of service. While they do offer greater capability than their predecessors, each jet can still only be in one place at a time.

Related: HOW MUCH CHEAPER IS THE F-15EX COMPARED TO THE F-35?

“We’ve got to refresh the F-15C fleet because I can’t afford to not have that capacity to do the job and the missions,” now-retired General David Goldfein said in 2019.

“That’s what this is all about. If we’re refreshing the F-15C fleet, as we’re building up the F-35 fleet, this is not about any kind of a trade.”

SOCOM’s Armed Overwatch program promises to alleviate some of this need by fielding a small and inexpensive aircraft that can provide ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and direct air support to special operators. These planes are expected to operate from austere airfields with support from a very small group of maintainers. Effectively, SOCOM wants a simple aircraft that can live with the troops in the vein of the OV-10 Bronco of Vietnam fame, but with advanced ISR capabilities usually only found in technological marvels that need airstrips and facilities to operate. It’s a tall order, but fielding such an aircraft would make the sorts of special operations skirmishes that are sure to litter the coming decades far more survivable.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
The OV-10 Bronco was light, cheap, and capable during Vietnam, and was brought back into service with SOCOM between 2012 and 2015 to test light attack aircraft concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Despite America’s massive military budget, resource and asset scarcity remains an ongoing challenge. The MQ-9 Reaper, for instance, is the most highly requested air asset among ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with only 280 of these remotely piloted aircraft to go around, the Air Force will have to choose between continuing to support the full breadth of combat operations in the Middle East or transitioning platforms to the Pacific where a more potent deterrent maritime force is increasingly necessary.

The truth is, even after the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, the U.S. military can’t completely withdraw from the Middle East and will likely need to place a larger emphasis on Africa moving forward. There are only so many air platforms to go around, especially at modern fighter jet prices of around $100 million per aircraft. In effect, America is going to be stuck fighting its old wars for some time, while adding new conflicts and new tensions elsewhere around the globe. In order to do it all, America needs more platforms without increasing defense spending in a massive way.

That may be feasible through attritable programs like Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is a low-observable UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) capable of carrying two small diameter bombs and covering more than 2,000 miles before refueling. What makes the Valkyrie special isn’t its payload or range capabilities though, it’s the cost. At just $2-3 million per airframe, the XQ-58 costs only slightly more than a single Tomahawk cruise missile.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
(Kratos Defense)

The Valkyrie lacks the speed that would be necessary to cover the vast distances between units that we can expect in Africa and the Middle East in the coming years, with a top end of around 650 miles per hour (Mach 0.85), but the attritable premise coupled with more power could prove to be just what the doctor ordered. Valkyries have already been launched from stationary platforms using rockets, which would mean that these types of drones could be deployed from places that don’t even have airstrips, and they’re cheap enough that losing a few in a fight won’t give a commander pause.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Related: THE AIR FORCE JUST DROPPED NEW CONCEPT ART OF ITS NGAD FIGHTER

As for the high-end fight, America’s forthcoming NGAD program, under development with both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, is expected to produce a family of systems that can effectively counter the most advanced fighters on the planet like the J-20B or SU-57 without breaking a sweat. This platform will hopefully incorporate a return to emphasizing speed as well as stealth, with fuel range serving as yet another essential facet of military aviation America needs to address.

It’s going to take new platforms to counter the full spectrum of threats nations like China pose in the 21st century, and these planes can’t take decades to go from the drawing board to production as the F-35 has. In many places, they won’t need to be stealth, nor is there a requirement for a human on board, but one thing they will need to overcome the tyranny of distance and protect American lives is speed.


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

Intel

US spec ops are using AI to look for an edge

In the last few years, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been increasingly investing in Artificial Intelligence capabilities in an attempt to secure an edge over near-peer competitors.

During the Yale Special Operations Conference that took place in March, US special operations leaders offered some insight on how SOCOM has been approaching artificial intelligence. SOCOM’s chief technology officer Snehal Antani stated that they want data scientists and technical experts to be as close to the warfighters as possible to ensure a better and quicker research and development and implementation process.

SOCOM isn’t new to artificial intelligence. In 2019, the Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the Marine component of SOCOM, began experimenting with artificial intelligence to improve its selection process and ensure that more candidates pass and go on to become operators.

Navy uses ‘Star Wars’ parody as opening salvo of this year’s Army-Navy game video war
Recon Marines conducting a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) training exercise (USMC).

“It’s not just about tech, it’s about the process, it’s about the function,” Lieutenant Mike Groen, the director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) said during the Yale Special Operations Conference. “It’s enormously educational when you really start asking folks, ‘Okay, how do you actually make that decision. What data do you use? What data should you be using? How is that data presented to you? Could it be presented in a different way? Who actually owns that data? It is a huge leap to bring somebody in from the outside, into those types of organizations. So step one is, keep your mouth shut and learn, listen, earn the right to be part of the team.”

SOCOM has also been looking into developing multisensory data fusion and processing technology that would offer special operators an advantage on the battlefield. More specifically, SOCOM has been working with the industry to develop ways to quickly fuse different data, such as temperature, elevation, visibility, humidity, overhead imagery, and create an accurate picture of the battlefield and provide it to commandos.

As with many other initiatives and projects, artificial intelligence first designed for SOCOM often trickles down to their conventional brethren. There is a reason why SEAL Team 6’s official name is Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). It’s just not a cover name but a reflection of the unit’s and indeed of the rest of the special operations community’s research and development aspect. Now, the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division are looking to get their hands on some of the artificial intelligence projects used by their special operations colleagues.  

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

Intel

‘South Park’ episode compares Yelp reviewers to ISIS terrorists

Angry Yelp reviewers have come in the crosshairs of Comedy Central’s “South Park.”


In an episode titled “You’re Not Yelping,” the cartoon makes fun of over-the-top Yelp reviewers who criticize everything, or demand perks while threatening one-star reviews. The show pushes the practice to absurd lengths, which means for “South Park,” a restaurant owner is eventually beheaded (taking off his mask) while his business is burned to the ground, in footage reminiscent of ISIS terrorist videos.

Eater writes:

Cartman may be the worst of them all, constantly threatening one star reviews if he doesn’t get what he wants: “I was thinking of giving this place five stars, but I am kind of teetering on five stars or one star. I mean I can probably be persuaded with free desserts.”

You can watch the full episode here, or just watch this clip:

Do Not Sell My Personal Information