Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine - We Are The Mighty
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Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

For close to seven years, the Russian military has been supplying separatist forces in Ukraine with weapons and supplies that has only prolonged the conflict in the country. Now, the Russians are ratcheting up tensions in the area by massing a large army along its border with Ukraine. 

With members of the G-7 calling on the Russians to de-escalate the situation by moving some troops, Russia is standing firm telling the world, they’re only responding to NATO provocations, specifically, the movement of American ships into the Black Sea. Russia has warned the U.S. Navy not to enter those waters.

Ukraine is not currently a member of the NATO alliance, so any Russian attack on the country would not provoke a military response from NATO members. The last country to join the alliance was North Macedonia, and its membership took more than 20 years to achieve. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, discusses training with soldiers from the Ukrainian national guard’s 3029th Regiment May 18, 2015, as part of Fearless Guardian in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade are in Ukraine for the first of several planned rotations to train Ukraine’s newly-formed national guard over a period of six months. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexander Skripnichuk, 13th Public Affairs Detachment.)

The United States often sends its ship into the Black Sea, but the potential deployment of two more vessels came when the Russians sent 10 of its ships into the area. The American movement was confirmed by Turkish officials, who are notified of all American movement into the Black Sea within 14 days due to the terms of the Montreaux Convention. The two warships are scheduled to stay there for a month.

Russian officials claimed their ships were moving into the area for a training exercise. The ground forces on its border with Ukraine are the most deployed to the area since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.

Ukraine has been fighting the separatist movement in the area ever since. In March 2021, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Shortly after, the United States began to operate reconnaissance patrols in nearby international airspace.

While the Russians aren’t currently posed for any offensive movements, the size and presence of the force so close to the border is causing international alarm. The new warships are a symbol of support for Ukraine from the Biden Administration. Some say the move by the Russians is a challenge to that support. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
A Ukrainian army engineer clears a mock room after his team used explosives to breach the door during training with Canadian and U.S. Army engineers to build their breaching skills, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the combat training center at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 23. (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

“The escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine justifies the measures Russia is taking,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian troops are there to protect Russian sovereignty and the United States has no reason to be there. 

“Questions are being asked about what Russia is doing on the border with Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “The answer is very simple. We live there, it’s our country. But what is the United States doing thousands of kilometers from its own territory with its warships and troops in Ukraine?”

A large-scale invasion on the level of Crimea or the 2008 Russian invasion of South Ossetia would be out of character for Russia’s recent military movements, which normally include small scale special operations or unconventional operations, like cyber attacks. But it’s not totally unprecedented, as recent events have shown. 

Russia does not easily deploy its troops out of country. Aside from the two previous invasion, Russia’s only current overseas deployment of ground troops is in Syria, which also relies on private contractors.

The presence of any large formation of ground troops along with naval warships conducting exercises is enough for anyone to take notice, especially so close to NATO’s doorstep. The deployments have increased the appeals by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ramp up efforts to fast-track Ukraine’s progress to full NATO membership. 

Articles

This extreme winter survival course teaches troops how to stay alive in Arctic conditions

Few places on the face of the earth can be as unforgiving or as deadly as the frozen Arctic.


Because of the dangers of the Arctic environment, coupled with the growing strategic importance of this part of the world, the US Air Force runs the Arctic Survival School out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

Each year, this five-day intensive training program, also known as Cool School, teaches over 700 servicemembers the survival skills necessary to fight back against nature and survive in the Arctic.

“Mother nature does not like you in this situation,” Survival Instructor Staff Sgt. Seth Reab, tells his students in the morning freeze. “She’s violent. She’s harsh. Your job is to survive until help comes; her job is to find a way to take your life.”

The Air Force’s Cool School, which brings in more than 700 participants every year across all service branches, takes place outside Eielson Air Force Base, deep inside Alaska. Temperatures average about 30 degrees below zero.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

At the start of the course, all participants are given the emergency equipment they would have depending upon what plane they would be flying.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

The emergency equipment usually works. But everything else in the Arctic will try to kill the participants. This includes subzero temperatures …

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

… and even dehydration. Despite the abundance of snow, it is extremely difficult to drink enough water under harsh Arctic conditions.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

One of the first things students are taught is to harvest snow in parachutes, in order to melt it down for water.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

This supply of snow can then be moved into tin cans, in which the snow can be mixed until it melts enough to easily drink.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Warmth is just as important as water. Students are taught to find tender wood with which to build a fire.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

In Cool School, students are taught the ideal way to split wood into longer thin splints that will burn more easily and evenly.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

Servicemembers learn to create sparks with a metal match. Though somewhat antiquated, metal matches can be used indefinitely.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: YouTube

Once students create a fire, it can be used for signaling, heat, and food preparation.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Students also learn more basic practical skills — they have to change socks in order to keep feet dry so as to avoid hypothermia.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

On the first night of school, students are taught to create open primitive shelters that provide little insulation from the elements.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Joseph Reimer unpacks his duffle bag during the first night of arctic field training near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The course is five days in duration with instruction in familiarization with the arctic environment, medical, personal protection, sustenance and signaling. Reimer is an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron

During the second day, instructors teach students to make more complex A-frame shelters out of wood and a parachute or tarp.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon prepares the cover for his thermalized A-frame shelter during arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The A-frame shelter is designed to keep the survivor warm and dry to endure harsh arctic nights. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief.

The A-frame is then covered with almost a foot of snow to provide insulation.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon looks out of his thermalized A-frame tent during Arctic Survival School training. The thermalized A-frame is designed to keep survivors warm and dry in arctic environments. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief and also a member of a crash disable damage recovery team responsible for retrieving downed aircraft in emergency situations.

Another vital principle of survival students learn is how to create an effective signal fire by placing a flare inside a base of kindling and smoke-generating tree limbs.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Seth Reab ignites a flare in the middle of tender wood to create a smoke signal during a field training lesson at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The signal flare can be seen for up to 10 miles away and much further when rescue help is coming through the air. Reab is an Air Force Arctic Survival School instructor assigned to Det. 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB.

Next to the smoke signal, students create a giant letter ‘V’ to alert passing pilots that they are in need of rescue.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
photo: YouTube

You can watch a recap of the Arctic Survival School below.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

Here is a reminder why the coalition thought Saddam Hussein needed to go

July 22, 1979, was the day Iraq became a dictatorship headed by Saddam Hussein. In a terrifying purge of the Ba’ath party, Saddam rid himself of all opposition and secured his rule.


Just six days after seizing power by forcing out his cousin Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam summoned all of the Ba’ath party leaders to an auditorium near the presidential palace and had the secret police lock the doors behind them.

At the head of the podium stood Muhyi Abdel-Hussein, who had been the general secretary of the Revolutionary Command Council, the executive committee that ran Iraq. He accused himself of being involved in a Syrian plot against the regime along with other co-conspirators in that very room. One by one, as each name was read out loud, party members were plucked from the audience. Meanwhile, Saddam sat off to the side sitting nonchalant smoking a cigar like Al Pacino in Scarface.

In all, 68 of them were removed for alleged treason. 22 of them were subsequently sentenced to death by firing squad and the rest locked away. Here’s the actual footage from Saddam’s public purge.

Watch:

American Heroes Channel

Intel

This guy calculated how fast an anti-tank walrus would have to fly

Apparently, America’s future engineers need to learn focusing skills, because they stepped away from their studies to answer forum questions about walrus ballistics. One engineer calculated an approximate speed for a walrus to stop the M1 while another figured out how fast it would need to fly to kill a T-72, in a thread on the website 4chan.


Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service Joel Garlich Miller

The calculated speeds are essentially the same: 292 meters per second for the M1 and 291 meters per second for the T-72, respectively. To get the walrus to strike the target at those velocities, it would need to be fired at supersonic speeds.

Check out their math below. Engineering students, feel free to fill our Facebook with your own calculations for anti-tank walruses, anti-aircraft bullfrogs, and anti-submarine lemurs.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo via Imgur

NOW: Military working bees and other animals you didn’t know serve in the US military

Articles

Here’s what an Army medic does in the critical minutes after a soldier is wounded

When a soldier is wounded on the battlefield, medics get the call.


Medics are sort of like paramedics or emergency medical technicians in the civilian world, except paramedics and EMTs are less likely to carry assault rifles or be fired at by enemy forces. When everything goes wrong, soldiers count on the medics to keep them alive until they can be evacuated to a field hospital.

Also Read: Inside ‘Dustoff’ — 22 Photos Of The Army’s Life-Saving Medevac Crews 

Ninety percent of soldier deaths in combat occur before the victims ever make it to a field hospital; U.S. Army medics are dedicated to bringing that number down.

To save wounded soldiers, the medic has to make life or death decisions quickly and accurately. They use Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or TCCC, to guide their decisions. TCCC is a process of treatment endorsed by the American College of Surgeons and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

First, medics must decide whether to return fire or immediately begin care.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Army Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Since the Geneva Convention was signed, the Army has typically not armed medics since they are protected by the international law. But, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have mostly been fought against insurgencies who don’t follow the Geneva Convention and medics have had many of their markings removed, so they’ve been armed with rifles and pistols.

When patients come under fire, they have to decide whether to begin care or return fire. The book answer is to engage the enemies, stopping them from hurting more soldiers or further injuring the current casualties. Despite this, Army medics will sometimes decide to do “care under fire,” where they treat patients while bullets are still coming at them.

Then, they treat life-threatening hemorrhaging.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Major bleeding is one of the main killers on the battlefield. Before the medic even begins assessing the patient, they’ll use a tourniquet, bandage, or heavy pressure to slow or stop any extreme bleeds that are visible. If the medic is conducting care under fire, treatment is typically a tourniquet placed above the clothing so the medic can get them behind cover without having to remove the uniform first.

Now, they can finally assess the patient.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Army Spc. Evan V. Lane

Once the medic and the patient are in relative safety, the medic will assess the patient. Any major bleeds that are discovered will be treated immediately, but other injuries will be left until the medic has completed the full assessment. This is to ensure the medic does not spend time setting a broken arm while the patient is bleeding out from a wound in their thigh.

During this stage, the medic will call out information to a radio operator so the unit can call for a medical evacuation using a “nine-line.” Air evacuation is preferred when it’s available, but wounded soldiers may have to ride out in ambulances or even standard ground vehicles if no medical evacuations are available.

Medics then start treatment.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Army Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Medics have to decide which injuries are the most life-threatening, sometimes across multiple patients, and treat them in order. The major bleeds are still the first thing treated since they cause over half of preventable combat deaths. The medics will then move on to breathing problems like airway blockages or tension pneumothorax, a buildup of pressure around the lungs that stops a soldier from breathing. Medics will also treat less life-threatening injuries like sprains or broken bones if they have time.

Most importantly, Army medics facilitate the evacuation.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Army Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Army medics have amazing skills, but patients still need to get to a hospital. Medics will relay all information about the patient on a card, the DA 7656 and the patient will get on the ambulance for evacuation. The medic will usually get a new aid bag, their pack of medical materials, from the ambulance and return to their mission on the ground, ready to help the next soldier who might get wounded.

Intel

The top 5 bizarre weapons of World War II

The military often concocts some amazingly innovative technologies for use on the battlefield, but that’s not always the case.


As a video from This is Genius shows about weapons developed during World War II, there were plenty of projects that were much more bizarre than they were innovative.

There were the short-range rockets developed by the U.K. that were supposed to snag on enemy planes with cables and the Soviet bomb dogs that were trained to attack German tanks. They didn’t always work out as planned.

Check out the video for more

Intel

Marine Corps finally adopts the M4 as its main rifle

After years of “Will they, won’t they?” the Marine Corps finally made it official with their main squeeze, the M4 Carbine. It’s the new standard weapon for Marines, replacing the M16A4.


Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy

Before officially adopting it, the Corps put the M4 through extensive testing with a new round, the 5.56mm AB49 Special Operations Science and Technology cartridge.

Listen to the WATM podcast to hear the author and our veteran hosts discuss what the M4 means to the Corps:

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“We found out that the M4 actually outshoots the A4 at all ranges out to 600 meters with the new ammunition,” Chris Woodburn, the deputy Maneuver Branch head for the Fires and Maneuver Integration Division of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told Marine Corps Times.

Because the M4 has already been deployed in units across the Marine Corps, the switch is expected to take place with very little cost to taxpayers. Units will report their number of rifles to Marine Corps Logistics Command which should be able to shuffle weapons between units.

The Marines believe they can equip the entire force with the weapon without buying any new units.

See the full story at Marine Corps Times 

Intel

The awesome callsigns of the pilots bombing ISIS

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
Photo: Youtube.com


The U.S. has conducted more than 4,700 air strikes against ISIS militants since Aug. 2014, and the American pilots carrying out those attacks often have awesome — and sometimes hilarious — callsigns.

In an interesting article for The New York Times, journalist Helene Cooper profiles some of the pilots flying from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who go by names like “Yip Yip,” “Pope,” and “Pizza.” The pilots talk about some of their missions to strike inside Iraq and Syria and the camaraderie among their squadron.

“Quite honestly, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines own the skies,” Maj. Anthony Bourke, a former Air Force fighter pilot, told The Times. “So even though pilots dream of dogfights, the biggest risk now is small-arms fire, and if you stay above 10,000 feet, you’re not going to be hit.”

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
(Photo: U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski)

Though the Times article does not explain how they got their new names, it’s well known in the fighter pilot community that callsigns are usually earned during a “naming ceremony,” where fellow pilots bestow a newbie with something of a play on their name, or a name that evokes a past screw-up (cool names like “Iceman” or “Maverick” are usually out of the question).

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)

So who are the mystery men flying in on F/A-18s to strike terrorist infrastructure? According to the photo spread accompanying the article, they are:

  • “Yard Sale” — Navy fighter pilot
  • “Chaz” — Navy fighter pilot
  • “Xerxes” — Navy weapons officer
  • “Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
  • “Yip Yip” — Navy fighter pilot
  • “Pickle” — Navy fighter pilot
  • “Skull” — Marine fighter pilot
  • “Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
  • “Betty” — Marine fighter pilot (and yes, he’s a guy)
  • “Sweet P” — Navy weapons officer
  • “Smoat” — Navy fighter pilot
  • “Bones” — Navy weapons officer
  • “Pizza” — the commander of the Roosevelt’s air wing

Now after an ISIS truck gets blown to bits, we know it may have all been the work of a guy named Yard Sale.

Now check out the Times article

OR: That time when Americans and Germans fought together during World War II

Intel

The US military is using ‘Forensic Files’ technology to identify unknown remains

America is hooked on true crime stories. One of the most engrossing among those true crime stories is “Forensic Files,” the true stories of murder and intrigue solved by scientific professionals who think of creative ways to link a crime with its perpetrator. 

For decades, forensic investigators have used everything from DNA analysis to gas chromatography to determine who killed who and where and with what – like a giant, real-world game of Clue. 

Gas chromatography and similar forensic studies can help identify remains, but it’s much more challenging when scientists have no clue who the deceased individual might be.

Military scientists have been at the same game for around the same amount of time. The only trouble is that these scientists know who killed the dead men and how they died. In the military, they don’t know who the dead men are. For Americans and the U.S. military, that’s the most important puzzle to solve. 

In the days of wars past, the quest to identify America’s honored dead was limited by the technology of the times. This is why the United States has Unknown Soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korea. Only the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War could be identified.

But new forensic technology offers hope to scientists who spend their days trying to identify soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, despite the lack of evidence. 

Advanced forensic technology used to catch serial killers along with the rise of publicly available DNA ancestry databases has given them new methods of finding clues that could lead to more positive identifications – even if the dead were killed 70 years ago. 

As the New York Times reported in April of 2021, traditional methods used by the POW/MIA Accounting Agency usually use DNA samples from found remains and try to match them with a known relative. But if there are no known relatives from which to draw a sample, the case quickly runs cold. The agency can’t even exhume remains of unknown war dead unless there is a 50% chance of identification.

This means they have to have a known relative to compare the sample. IF there is no known relative, the remains are unlikely to ever be identified. 

So some analysts believe all the remains should be exhumed, DNA samples taken, and run through every available DNA database, including those used by the public for ancestry identification. 

While this sounds like a good idea, it could also be a massive invasion of privacy. Genetic testing open to the public has done a lot of good, such as finding the true identity of the Golden State Killer. It has also led to the inadvertent discovery of deeply hidden family secrets, such as extra-marital affairs, children who didn’t know they were adopted, and so on. 

In World War II alone, more than 73,000 American service members were unaccounted for by the end of the war. An estimated 41,000 of those are considered to be lost at sea. In the years since, researchers at the POW/MIA Accounting Agency have been able to find and identify 280,000 of the 400,000 who died during World War II. 

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier early in the morning at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, August 7, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

There are also more than 7,800 missing from the Korean War, 1,626 missing from the Vietnam War, 126 from the Cold War and six from conflicts fought since 1991. As technology advances, so does the likelihood of finding and identifying the remains of the missing, but there’s still more work to do for those who gave their lives in the great power conflicts of America’s past. 

Intel

Could we really build a B-1B gunship?

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

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

Could we really build a B-1B Gunship?

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

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

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

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

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

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

Intel

This bomb is designed to kill 40 tanks at once

The CBU-105 cluster bomb is a devasting tank-killer. One bomb can carpet an area of 1,500 by 500 feet, roughly 15-acres.


But unlike traditional cluster bombs, the CBU-105 is considered a “smart bomb.” The weapon can destroy multiple moving or stationary threats with minimal collateral damage while leaving no hazardous unexploded ordnance on the battlefield.

Its BLU-108 submunition cylinders use infrared and laser sensors to seek and destroy targets by pattern-matching. If it fails to find a target, the skeet warhead within the bomb self-destructs. And if the self-destruct system fails, a backup timer disables the skeet. The disabled skeets that make it to the ground also have an inert feature, which make it resistant to exploding via tampering, according to Textron.

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY9gojFu-_U

ArmedForcesUpdate

Intel

Air Force offers pilots $420K bonus to stay in the cockpit

When the Air Force tells its pilots to “aim high,” they sure as heck mean it. In a bid to offset its persistent pilot retention woes, the Air Force is reportedly offering its aviators a bonus of up to $420,000 to stay in uniform.

The payments are to be doled out over time or in lump sums, and vary in their value according to different types of aircraft. For example: bomber, fighter, special operations, air mobility, and combat search and rescue fixed-wing pilots can receive an additional $25,000 annually for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $35,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

Those pilots also have the option to receive a lump sum payment of $100,000 for the five-to-seven-year contracts and $200,000 for the eight-to-12-year contracts.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
F-35A Lightning II pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are met by family and friends as they return home on May 10, 2020, after a six-month deployment to the Middle East. Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

Remotely piloted aircraft pilots can receive the same benefits, except they can only opt for a $100,000 lump sum payout for contract lengths of eight to 12 years. Combat search and rescue rotary-wing pilots are set to receive annual bonus payments of $15,000 for contracts lasting five to seven years, and up to $25,000 annually for contract lengths of eight to 12 years.

The stress of more than two decades of constant combat deployments has spurred many Air Force pilots to hang up their spurs, so to speak, and head for the airlines or other civilian careers. In March 2020, the Air Force reported that it was 2,100 pilots short of the 21,000 required to execute the National Defense Strategy.

In its fiscal year 2021 budget request to Congress, the Air Force described its crop of pilots as “a force that remains inspired to serve, but are nevertheless stressed by nearly two decades of sustained combat.”

The bonuses are intended to keep pilots in the Air Force. However, with the commercial airline industry in turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pilots looking to leave the service may already be set to decrease in the coming years. Nevertheless, the diminished pull of the commercial aviation economy could be offset if the tempo of military operations ticks up again in the coming years.

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine
US Air Force Lt. Col. Frederick M. Wilmer III, a KC-10 Extender pilot with the 76th Air Refueling Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, has apple cider poured on him by his daughter, Samantha, after completing his final flight at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., May 18, 2018. Photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

“Retention of these valued aviators remains at risk should operational demands continue to outpace our available force structure, shifting the burden of a high operations tempo onto our already stressed aircrew,” the Air Force budget document added.

To make up the pilot shortfall, the Air Force is also looking to add more pilots; the service’s stated goal is to train 1,480 new aircrew annually by 2024.

“Increasing production of new aviators remains the most significant lever we have to arrest aircrew shortages,” the Air Force stated.

To ramp up its pilot “production,” the Air Force is experimenting with an expedited pilot training curriculum for certain types of aircraft.

The Accelerated Path to Wings program trains transport pilots in about seven months, as opposed to the traditional 12-month undergraduate pilot training program. The expedited curriculum cuts flight time in the T-6 Texan II aircraft — which includes training in aerobatics and other skills that aren’t necessarily essential to pilots of large transport aircraft. Rather, Accelerated Path to Wings student pilots perform all their training in the T-1A Jayhawk.

The Air Force is also experimenting with “augmented reality training” to accelerate the pilot training curriculum and cut down on costs.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Intel

The Navy’s New Weapon System Is A Laser Pointer On Steroids

The U.S. Navy Research team published a video on Wednesday showing off the capabilities of its new “Laser Weapon System” or LaWS, and it’s terrifying. It shoots a 30 kilowatt blast within 2 nanometers of its target according to Defense One.


Also Read: 7 Jobs That No Longer Exist In The Modern Navy

Simply put, it’s an oversized laser pointer on steroids.

The video starts with a time lapse of the weapon aboard a Navy ship while a boat appears over the horizon. It quickly cuts to an operator housed somewhere within the vessel. He’s standing in front of several screens holding what looks like a glorified X-Box controller. A blast is fired but there’s no bang, no smoke, no projectile, and no tracer, all you see is an explosion.

The video switches to a camera aboard the approaching boat for a close-up of the target. It’s a small stack of shells next to a cut-out of a human. The stack is precisely destroyed without damaging the wooden dummy.

Maybe I’ve seen too many comic book movies, but this is like X-Men’s Cyclops with an invisible laser beam.

Defense One reported that this is the Navy’s answer to drone attacks. Drones are becoming cheaper and more accessible, we’ve had them for years, but now American adversaries have begun to roll out their own versions. The LaWS will hopefully help the Navy keep drones at bay.

According to the Office of Naval Research, this isn’t the final version of the weapon. A more powerful 150-kilowatt version is scheduled for testing in 2016.

Check out the video:

usnavyresearch, YouTube

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