The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half

Seven Air Force officers made history by becoming the first to graduate from a new pilot program earlier this month.

The “Accelerated Path to Wings” (nicknamed XPW) program promises to significantly shorten the time it takes for pilot candidates to finish their basic education.

Normally, the Air Force can create new pilots in about 12 months. The new pilot program slices five months out of that and produces pilots in just seven.

During the XPW program, pilot candidates completed their undergraduate training curriculum in the T-1 Jayhawk, making it simpler than if they were using more airframes for their basic education. The XPW program is part of the Air Education and Training Command’s (AETC) attempt to transform, improve, and shorten the current pilot program.

“We had students from various backgrounds, including five who had completed their initial flight training and two who had earned their private pilot’s license,” Lieutenant Colonel Eric Peterson, the commander of the 99th Flying Training Squadron, said in a press release.

“This is a great program for students who want to go fly heavy aircraft in Air Mobility Command, or who want to go fly certain aircraft in special operations or in Air Combat Command.”

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
Graduates from the first-ever “Accelerated Path to Wings” class gather in front of a T-1 Jayhawk aircraft after receiving their pilot wings March 12, 2021 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Accelerated Path to Wings is part of Air Education and Training Command’s pilot training transformation program, a two phase T-1 only pilot training tract. The 99th Flying Training Squadron is responsible for executing the seven month training mission that culminates with students earning their pilot wings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean Worrell).

Traditional pilot training is divided into three phases where pilot candidates first fly the T-6 Texan II before going over to the T-1 Jayhawk. The XPW program, which has two phases, does without the T-6 Texan II phase and puts students straight in the cockpits of the T-1 Jayhawk. After the standard preflight academics and aviation terminology phase, students go on the simulator where they develop extensive training profiles.

“It feels amazing to have endured the last seven months of pilot training to reach this point. It’s all been worth it. I’m extremely proud. I can’t wait to begin flying around the world,”  2nd Lt. Kassandra Fochtman, who is slated to fly the KC-135 Stratotanker out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, said.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
An air-to-air view of a T-1 Jayhawk during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Terry Wasson).

“Graduating from the first XPW class is pretty special,” said 2nd Lt. Andrew Button. “I volunteered for this not knowing if it would work out or not, but I just put my trust in the Air Force. I want to give credit to my family and the world-class instructor pilots at the 99th FTS.” Button is slated to fly the C-17 Globemaster III transport out of Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

The Air Force is suffering from a shortage of qualified pilots, a shortage so big that now the service is offering close to half-a-million bonuses for pilots to stay. If implemented fully, the XPW program might help address the issue.

Feature photo: U.S Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, signals her crew chief before taking flight at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., July 17, 2013. After being stood down for more than three months, the 336th Fighter Squadron was finally given the green light to resume flying hours and return to combat mission ready status. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley/Released)

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

Intel

The military’s best air combat exercise is getting a new twist

Red Flag is legendary among fighter pilots. This exercise, held several times a year at Nellis Air Force Base, located near Las Vegas, is where American combat pilots have gone to hone their skills since the end of the Vietnam War.

“Red Flag-Nellis was originally created to give fighter pilots their first 10 combat missions in a large force exercise before deployment to contingency operations,” Lt. Col. Christopher Cunningham said in an Air Force release. “Vietnam War analysis had proven that pilot survivability increased dramatically after surviving 10 combat missions.”


The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half

The success of the original Red Flag has left Air Force pararescue personnel, like those taking part in a 2016 demonstration, little to do.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

In terms of military exercises, Red Flag has been a blockbuster hit. The first major conflict since Vietnam, Desert Storm, saw very few pilot losses. While new technology certainly contributed, Red Flag played a vital part as well, giving pilots their first taste of “combat” over the course of two weeks. Other countries, like Israel and the Netherlands, have come up with their versions of this exercise. One of the unintended consequences of this improved readiness, however, is that it has made combat search-and-rescue missions less frequent. Less real-world experience means an increased need for specific training exercises.

To address that need, a spin-off of Red Flag was created. Red Flag Rescue took place last month at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. This exercise replaced Angel Thunder, a program for Air Force pararescue personnel (along with foreign air forces) who are responsible for carrying out the combat search and rescue mission.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half

Red Flag Rescue was not just for the Air Force. Army personnel, like this soldier taking part in a 2017 demonstration, also took part, as did the Marines and Navy.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun)

Red Flag Rescue brings together Air Force pararescuemen and the other armed services for fifteen days to practice combat search and rescue in contested, degraded, and operationally-limited environments. While Air Force pararescue personnel — and others who handle combat search-and-rescue — have gained much from this, the ultimate beneficiaries will be the pilots saved from dire circumstances in the real world.

Articles

This teenage genius created the best prosthetic ever

Easton LaChappelle, a 19-year-old from Cortez, Colorado, has created the most technologically advanced prosthetic the world has ever seen.


LaChappelle began experimenting with robotics when he was 17, creating a moveable robotic arm out of legos and other equipment found in his bedroom. Since then, he and his friends have created Unlimited Tomorrows, a robotics company that specializes in 3D printed prosthetics.

LaChapelle’s prototype possesses a range of motion that is nearly identical to that of a human hand, all controlled by the user’s thoughts. With more than 1,500 military service members having had major limb amputations since 2001, this device may be a game-changer for wounded troops.

And the best part? While most prosthetic limbs cost around $60,000, Chapelle’s prototype was created for only $350. This kid is going places.

To see more of Chapelle and his prosthetic, watch the video below:

DON’T MISS: Forget The Terminator Arm — DARPA Wants An Implantable Hard Drive For The Brain

Intel

This Texas Plumber’s Pickup Wound Up Being A Weapon For ISIS

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half


Texas City plumber Mark Oberholtzer has been bombarded with calls, some hostile, since a truck he traded in at AutoNation was shown being used as a gun platform in Syria, according to a Galveston Daily News report.

Oberholtzer said he traded in the truck to an AutoNation dealership three years ago. He usually takes the decals off his vehicles when he sells them but he left it on this truck with the expectation that AutoNation would remove it.

“They were supposed to have done it and it looks like they didn’t do it,” Oberholtzer told the Galveston newspaper. “How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know.”

Read the rest of the story here.

NOW: The Most Famous Photograph Of World War II Was Taken 70 Years Ago

OR: Here Is The Army’s Secret File On The Leader Of ISIS

Intel

This is how powerful the Tsar Bomba would have been over America

In the heights of the Cold War, Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe against his desk as he vowed to show America at the United Nation General Assembly in 1960. The following year, on October 30th, the most massive nuclear explosion ever was detonated over Severny Island.


The 50-megaton, 60,000-pound hydrogen bomb was said to have been 1,570 times larger than the combined energy of the nuclear devices dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 10 times the collective destructive power of every conventional weapon ever used in WWII, and it alone accounted for 10 percent of all nuclear yields ever.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
Thankfully for humanity, this was never tested again.
(Courtesy Photo)

The mushroom cloud of the blast soared up 40 miles high (seven times the height of Mount Everest) and had a 59-mile-wide cap. The blast was so incomprehensibly large that it’s nearly impossible to contextualize just how devastating it would have been if detonated over American soil.

To put all of this into perspective — and much to the delight of Yankees fans — let’s measure the hypothetical blast using today’s pitcher’s mound at Oriole Park in Baltimore, MD, as a point of reference.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
I have nothing but love for the city of Baltimore and the Orioles, but they do make things rather convenient for this thought experiment.
(Courtesy Photo)

The initial blast would have decimated the entire city and everything within 12 miles. The mushroom cloud, with a radius of 29.5 miles, would have stretched all the way into Washington D.C. The heat from the blast would have extended out 62 miles, and would have left everyone in Dover, Delaware with third-degree burns.

According to NukeMap, roughly 1.4 million people would have been killed immediately and the nuclear fallout would have made its way through Philadelphia, PA and into Trenton, NJ. Shockwaves reached 430 miles, which would have put it past Cincinnati, OH. Windows would be shattered up to 560 miles miles away, reaching Chattanooga, TN.

With a height of 40 miles, the mushroom cloud would have been visible from 564.5 miles. That means everyone in the outskirts of Atlanta would have been able to see it. The fireball was visible from 620 miles away, which would have meant everyone in Chicago would be witness to it.

For more information on the destructive power of the Tsar Bomba, check out this video.

Intel

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

It would’ve taken one launch officer who wasn’t right in the head to trigger a nuclear war and start World War III. For nearly two decades, the nuclear launch code was “000000000000,” according to Dr. Bruce G. Blair in his 2004 article “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark.”


In the documentary Countdown to ZeroDr. Blair describes the launch sequence and the device into which the code was entered:

When I was serving in the Air Force as a launch officer there was a device in the launch control center into which 12 digits had to be dialed in to unlock the missiles from firing. This had been installed under Robert McNamara over the objections of the Strategic Air Command. Since they couldn’t prevent the panel from being installed the strategic air command in Omaha had set these codes to zero and we all knew it. That was the secret unlock code for firing our missiles, twelve zeros. In fact in our launch checklist we had to ensure that the unlock code was set to all zeros before we completed the launch sequence.

Watch the clip:

Intel

This is how Singapore could strong-arm China

If you believe some reports, or breathless commentators, China is becoming an unstoppable naval juggernaut in the Pacific region. That may be somewhat overstated. Yes, China’s navy has become far more modern in the last ten years, but ironically, a country that is the size of the entire Washington D.C. metropolitan area (District of Columbia, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Alexandria, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County) could bring it to its knees.


 

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
A 428th Fighter Squadron crew chief member marshals an F-15SG fighter in front of the Republic of Singapore squadron May 6, 2009. The unit includes approximately 180 active duty and 130 support personnel as part of a long-standing partnership with the United States to train Singaporean aircrews. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Renishia Richardson)

Singapore is so small, about 25 percent of its combat planes are based in the United States due to a lack of space for training. In absolute terms, Singapore’s navy is small, with six frigates, six second-hand Swedish submarines, and six guided-missile patrol boats (plus a host of smaller combatants) according to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
RSS Archer prior to its re-launch. (Kockums AB photo by Peter Nilsson)

China’s just in the South China Sea fleet is much larger, and the Luyang-class destroyers outclass Singapore’s Formidable-class frigates. Yet, Singapore has one very big advantage in any conflict – and it’s best summed up in that real-estate maxim: Location, location, location.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
This map shows Singapore’s strategic location between Malaysia and Indonesia. (CIA map)

 

Singapore controls the Strait of Malacca, the most critical maritime chokepoint on the Pacific Rim. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) had a notable collision with a merchant ship near this choke point, which contributed to the Pacific fleet’s commander being passed over for a promotion.

 

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
A Singaporean F-16D Fighting Falcon with the 425th Fighter Training Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

While a lot of merchant traffic goes through this chokepoint – so called because those who control it can choke the trade of other countries – the most important are supertankers. With its diesel-electric submarines and frigates, combined with modern F-15 and F-16 fighters, Singapore can shut down traffic in the Strait of Malacca.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
The Republic of Singapore Navy missile corvette RSS Vengeance launches two Barak missiles during a missile exercise in support of the Singapore phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). The two missiles successfully shot down two U.S. Navy BQM-74E aerial drones, launched from the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46). (U.S. Navy photo)

China may be a high-tech power, but one resource it doesn’t have a lot of is oil. Cut off the oil supply, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy isn’t going anywhere. Nor will the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force. That is how tiny Singapore could put a stranglehold on China. It’s all about location – and Singapore has prime geo-political real estate.

Intel

The Army’s top NCO wants soldiers to design his first tattoo

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half


Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey is known for responding to soldier concerns. He’s overhauled the Army tattoo policy and encouraged the Army to allow headphones with the physical training uniform.

Now, he’s floated the idea of getting a tattoo selected by soldiers.

“I’m a big morale guy. I’m a positive person,” Dailey told the Army Times. “We’re always trying to raise morale, so I said one day, ‘let’s set up a website and the soldiers get to pick my tattoo; they vote on it.’ Could you imagine?”

See the Army Times article and learn how to submit your own ideas for SMOTA’s ink here.

NOW: 21 amazing tattoos inspired by Navy life

OR: 9 texts from First Sergeant you never want to read

Intel

This hilarious video shows the ‘hype vs. reality’ of Marine life

There’s a common misconception of life in the Marine Corps being filled with action-packed activities and explosions. However, reality doesn’t always live up to expectations. For instance, there are things that sound awesome, like the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), which one would expect to be filled with roundhouse kicks and other Street Fighter moves.


And then there’s reality, which involves no roundhouse kicks and a lame peer evaluation.

The boys of Terminal Boots put together this short video with four scenarios showing what Marines expect in a situation followed by what really happens.

Watch: 

NOW: Here’s the way-funnier version of what the Marine PFT is really like

OR: Here’s a hilarious look at what life is like for Marines on a Navy ship

Articles

11 Killer photos of jets in full afterburner

Check out these shots of jets turning pounds and pounds of fuel into speed when the pilots push the throttles into afterburner.


An F/A-18C launches off of Cat 3 with both GE F-404 motors in full burner.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
Interesting to note that Hornet pilots take the cat shot with their right hand gripping the canopy rail and not on the stick. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

An Air Force F-16 launches out of Aviano, Italy at night with it’s single GE F-110 engine in full afterburner.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
(Photo: DVIDS)

An F-22 Raptor makes a high-G pass at an airshow with it’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines at full power.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
The F-119 is designed to allow the Raptor to reach supersonic speeds without afterburner. (Photo: Air Force)

And F-15 Eagle launches with both Pratt and Whitney F-100s in full afterburner.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
(Photo: USAF)

An F/A-18C Hornet raises the gear and starts a left hand clearing turn off the cat with vapes streaming off of the wingtips and both GE F-404s at full blower.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

They didn’t call the F-14 the ‘big fighter’ for nothing. Here a Tomcat rages down Cat 1 with it’s Pratt and Whitney TF-30s at Zone 5 (full power).

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
Later Tomcat models used the GE F-110, which was generally considered a more powerful and reliable engine. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A B-1 ‘Lancer’ (better known as “The Bone” — B+one . . . get it?) turns at sunset with all four GE F-110s (same engine used on models of the F-16 and F-14) in full afterburner.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
The B-1 was designed for Cold War-era missions where pre-stealth conventional wisdom was to come into a target low and fast. (Photo: USAF)

An F-111B zorches over the water with wings swept aft and Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines at full power.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
While the TF-30 had compressor stall issues with the F-14 it worked well for the F-111. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Another shot of an F-14A Tomcat on the cat in afterburner.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
Pilots would start cat shots with throttles at the Zone 2 setting and then push them forward to Zone 5 as the jet accelerated toward the carrier’s bow. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A MiG-25 starts its takeoff roll with both Tumansky R-15B-300s at full power.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
The Foxbat is a scream machine, speed-wise, and has been clocked hauling at over Mach 3.

The F-35B Lightning II isn’t designed for speed as much as forward quarter lethality and survivability; but it’s single Pratt and Whitney F-135 does create a nice burner plume in this gorgeous sunset shot.

The Air Force just cut the time it needs to train pilots almost in half
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Intel

The 18 funniest moments from ‘Generation Kill’

HBO’s “Generation Kill” chronicles the experiences of the 1st Recon Marines during their first wave on Baghdad in 2003. Though the show was based on a serious book by journalist Evan Wright, it was full of funny Marine Corps moments.


From Sgt. Maj. Sixta’s ass-chewings to “Captain America’s” WTF moments, here are some of the funniest scenes distilled into one short video (clips courtesy of HBO):

NOW: Here’s how Rudy Reyes got to star as himself in HBO’s ‘Generation Kill’

OR: 5 problems infantry Marines will understand

Intel

Hilarious video shows a Navy chief riding with the ‘Blue Angels’ passing out from too much g-force

The Blue Angels don’t just hand out opportunities to fly in the back seat, but when they do, people sometimes pass out.


This video and caption was posted to the Blue Angels Facebook fan page, and it shows what happens when a first-timer experiences seven “G’s” in an F/A-18 Hornet.

We know many of you would do anything for a chance to fly in the back seat of one of our jets; however, unfortunately there are few who actually get the opportunity.

One way to ensure a flight in a practice demonstration is to join our Maintenance and Support Team like this guy did. During a demonstration our pilots experience positive and negative gravitational forces, and have developed methods to overcome them. It’s something that takes practice and is not for the faint of heart. First time passengers will often pass out briefly due to lack of blood flow to the head. People say the seconds spent passed out can feel like minutes or even hours.

With the permission of those involved in this video, we present to you, “The G-Force Strikes Back”!

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