This classic spy plane can't land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph - We Are The Mighty
Intel

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph

The US Lockheed U-2 Spy plane is arguably one of the most capable platforms in the sky, but it needs backup when it comes in for a landing.


With only two wheels, the aircraft is incredibly unsteady when it touches down, and pilots have their hands full during the entire landing process.

The solution? Send a back-up pilot to trail the plane in a car while offering control inputs. The ground pilot can reach speeds around 140 mph while attempting to keep up with the aircraft. And without his help the plane could ground loop or worse.

Yes, it is as insane as it sounds.

Check out the video below to see a U-2 in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2tnCDBkIoI

 

NOW: Hilarious robot fails show why you shouldn’t worry about ‘Terminator’ just yet

OR: Here’s how the military takes civilian tech and makes it more awesome

Intel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intel

This video nails how battle buddies distort what happens when they’re on leave

Leave is something every service member looks forward to, a break from early morning PTs, training and military life in general. Plus, you get to skip shaving for a few days.


And once leave ends it’s time to gather up and share tales of romance and mayhem and world domination — because that’s what happens on leave, no shit.

This Terminal Boots video is spot on in showing how the truth takes a hit with each subsequent telling of the classic “there I was on leave” story.

Watch: 

 

Intel

This Remarkable Video Shows What It’s Like For Medevac Crews To Rescue Troops Under Fire

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Summer M. Anderson/ US Navy


After watching this video from The New York Times, it’s easy to see why Medevac crews have one of the most intense jobs in the military.

Also Read: Here’s What An Army Medic Does In The Critical Minutes After A Soldier Is Wounded

Medevac crews have the dangerous job of flying into gunfights in unarmed helicopters to provide medical care to wounded troops. It’s a race against time, and it’s nothing short of astonishing.

The video starts with a crew racing across Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in a Black Hawk helicopter in response to wounded Marine. The terrain makes it difficult to spot ground forces, so they bank and turn to avoid the ground fire, that may, or may not be there.

Green smoke signals the helicopter, which also serves as the chosen landing spot by the Marines huddled just a few yards away. The helicopter doesn’t just land, however; it circles around the troops to assess the danger. Once it finally lands, the Marines rush the wounded corporal to the Black Hawk for evacuation while others stand watch.

Even with a circling pass around the Marines, the medevac crew in the helicopter drew fire from three sides. Watch how the rescue unfolds in this short three-minute video:

H/T: Funker 350

Intel

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

The world of espionage requires two equally important things: access to information and a means of getting that information back to the other side. Modified DNA might make that a little easier.

Throughout history, spies have concocted many different means of secret communication. In the earliest days of modern spycraft, ink and paper had to be concealed from prying eyes. Spies wrote with anything that could be used as a kind of invisible ink, everything from lemon juice to semen. Hey, sometimes spycraft is just stressful. 

As technology advances, using biology to enhance the ability to send covert messages is only increasing, but in a very different way.

Transmitting secret messages via radio or morse code carries risks. Israeli spy Eli Cohen ascended to a high rank in the Syrian Defense Ministry over four years by befriending important people in the Syrian government. The entire time he was transmitting information back to the Mossad through radio. He was caught red-handed during a transmission. 

Being able to deliver information will always be the most secure means of communication. Over time, complex cyphers, micro-dots that can hold thousands of documents on a mark the size of a period, and dead drops of actual documents were solid means of getting that information back to handlers. Spy agencies developed incredible technology to obtain information. 

A new biological means is taking that technology a step further, using specially-modified strands of DNA to imprint messages on a molecular level. 

Though the process is complex for the layman (at the moment, don’t sleep on the CIA’s technological engineers) anyone looking to send a secret message can create a strand of DNA with the coded message. Only the receiver will be able to decode it, and possibly even know it’s there.

Like the microdot, the hidden DNA message can be pasted on a dot in a standard letter and simply mail it to whomever is intended to receive it. 

A strand of modified DNA
DNA can be used to store information, but in very tiny pieces.

According to the New York Times, the procedure was developed by a civilian, Dr. Carter Bancroft, professor of physiology and biophysics at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. 

The idea is to arrange the four nucleotides that comprise DNA into a simple encryption cypher using the letters that denote the nucleotides: A,C, G, and T, then marking them with “primer” DNA. It would be mixed with human DNA and sent off. The receiver would have the key to the cypher.

DNA manipulation can be a useful way to send messages because of the complexity of human DNA. It can be “chopped up” into 30 million different strands. 

The Mount Sinai researchers then hid the DNA onto a microdot in a regular letter and mailed it through the U.S. Postal Service.

Once received, a spy agency would then use techniques common in DNA laboratories to replicate the strand containing the hidden message, so long as they know the “primer” sequence. If an intercepting agency suspects a DNA microdot but doesn’t know that sequence will have 30 million possibilities to sift through.

Until the Alan Turing of DNA cyphers is born, that is. To get the general idea of how it works, watch the video below.

Intel

This Is A Triple-Barreled Soviet Space Gun With An Attached Machete

For 20 years Russians were equipped with a triple-barreled gun with a swing-out machete for space missions.

Also Read: 10 Things That Will Remind You About NASA’s Amazing Legacy

The TP-82 pistol was included in the Soyuz Portable Emergency-Survival Kit after two cosmonauts crash-landed into a forest in Siberia in 1965. They struggled to hunt prey, build shelter, and send a distress signal and thus, the “space gun” was born to shoot rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and flares.

During flight, the gun is stowed in a metal canister and if all goes well, the canister is never opened, NBC News space analyst James Oberg reports. “At the end of the mission, after landing, the gun is usually presented as a gift to the Soyuz spacecraft commander,” Oberg reports.

Astronomer Matija Cuk at Harvard University explains that the only difference between shooting a gun on Earth and in space is that the bullet will keep traveling forever. “The bullet will never stop, because the universe is expanding faster than the bullet can catch up with any serious amount of mass,” Cuk told LiveScience.

Astronomer Peter Schultz at Brown University also notes that in space you could technically shoot yourself in the back.

“For example, while in orbit around a planet, because objects orbiting planets are actually in a constant state of free fall, you have to get the setup just right. You’d have to shoot horizontally at just the right altitude for the bullet to circle the planet and fall back to where it started (you),” Shultz told LiveScience.

Russia replaced the gun with the semi-automatic Makarov pistol because all the in-stock ammunition for the TP-82 had expired.

While the conjoined gun-machete no longer exists in the Soyuz portable emergency-survival kit, an individual gun and machete are still included.

More from Business Insider:


Intel

This Army veteran and NASCAR fan got the surprise of a lifetime

When Army cavalry veteran Rick Groesbeck was invited to the Hendrick Motorsports race shop, he probably suspected he would get a bit of a thrill. He couldn’t have expected everything that was about to happen.


From USA Today:

Groesbeck, 46, had shown up to the Hendrick shop at the request of Charlotte Bridge Home, which helps area veterans transition back to civilian life after their military service has concluded. Groesbeck was told a camera crew wanted to talk to a veteran who was also a NASCAR fan, but he had no clue what was about to happen.

First, the 11-year Army veteran and his six-year-old son were given a personal tour of the shop and Rick Hendrick’s car collection by Rick Hendrick himself.. Then, he met Xfinity Series Champion Chase Elliott and was able to ride with Elliott in a race car on Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Finally, he learned he would be waving the green flag to start Saturday’s Bank of America 500.

“What they did that day and what I get to do this weekend, you see that happening to other people,” Groesbeck told USA Today. “You never think what I did was anything compared to what other people did, and you think there’s other people out there who deserve it more than you. So to have all that happen, I’m truly humbled by that appreciation and gratitude.”

To learn more, check out the original article at USA Today or watch the video below:

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

Intel

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph

The US Lockheed U-2 Spy plane is arguably one of the most capable platforms in the sky, but it needs backup when it comes in for a landing.


With only two wheels, the aircraft is incredibly unsteady when it touches down, and pilots have their hands full during the entire landing process.

The solution? Send a back-up pilot to trail the plane in a car while offering control inputs. The ground pilot can reach speeds around 140 mph while attempting to keep up with the aircraft. And without his help the plane could ground loop or worse.

Yes, it is as insane as it sounds.

Check out the video below to see a U-2 in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2tnCDBkIoI

 

NOW: Hilarious robot fails show why you shouldn’t worry about ‘Terminator’ just yet

OR: Here’s how the military takes civilian tech and makes it more awesome

Intel

Marine vet/comedian Rob Riggle uses his star power to showcase veterans’ strengths

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph


Popular comedic actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle volunteered his time to star in a new public service announcement to help showcase the strengths of military veterans.

The PSA titled “What to Wear” is the third in a series created by Easter Seals Dixon Center, a non-profit changing the conversation about veterans and military families to highlight their potential and create life-changing opportunities.

The majority of the PSA’s production team were made up of veterans, including actor and Air Force veteran Brice Williams, who co-stars with Riggle, and director Jim Fabio, who currently serves as an Air Force Combat Camera Officer (all three are pictured above). Fabio was selected out of more than 50 directors — all military veterans — and was mentored by Hollywood producer-writer Judd Apatow during the process.

Learn more about how the project came together by reading Col. David Sutherland’s post on the Easter Seals Blog 

Or watch all three PSA’s on the campaign’s website

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76Gt1MYpmyw

Intel

How US special operators use a Vietnam War-era method to get into and out of dangerous spots quickly

  • During the Vietnam War, US commandos developed an insertion and extraction method that is still used today.
  • Now, with conflict in Southeast or East Asia a growing prospect, its an increasingly relevant but still risky method.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During the Vietnam War, American commandos developed an insertion and extraction method for operations in the jungle that is still used by today’s special operators.

The Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) system is designed for small special-operations teams that operate in areas where an enemy presence or the terrain prevents helicopters from landing.

The SPIE technique hasn’t been used operationally for decades, in part because US air superiority and lackluster enemy anti-aircraft capabilities have meant it wasn’t needed.

But as the US military gears up for great-power competition against near-peer adversaries, like China and Russia, the SPIE technique is relevant again, especially in a potential conflict in the Pacific.

Warriors of the jungle

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
SOG recon team members dangling in mid-air after being evacuated from the jungle. 

The SPIE system can be traced to the rope insertion and extraction techniques of the Vietnam War. It was the innocuous sounding Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) that invented and used the method.

A highly classified unit, SOG took the fight to the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong, conducting cross-border operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam—where US troops officially shouldn’t have been.

Composed of Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Recon Marines, Air Commandos, and indigenous forces, SOG tried to stop the onslaught from the North and give South Vietnam some breathing space.

SOG’s classified operations mainly took place in rough and inaccessible jungle, where the NVA had built the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail complex, over which flowed supplies to their forces in South Vietnam. The terrain restricted operations and often forced SOG teams to create their own landing zones by either detonating explosives or by requesting B-52 bombing runs to create craters where helicopters could land.

But landing wasn’t always an option. Secrecy was paramount for mission success. SOG patrols of six to 14 men didn’t have a chance of survival against hundreds or thousands of NVA in an open battle.

With so few landing zones available in the jungle, and with the NVA always trying to monitor them, SOG operators came up with different techniques that didn’t require landing.

Ropes away

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Recon Marines practicing SPIE insertions and extractions. 

At the time, the SPIE terminology didn’t exist, and operators simply used the term “ropes” to refer to methods such as the STABO Extraction Harness, McGuire Rig, and “Swiss Seat.”

The STABO Extraction Harness, or STABO rig, was one of the most used. Designed for quick infiltration into and exfiltration from the jungle, the STABO rig was a mandatory piece of equipment for every recon member. It was worn throughout the mission since recon team members didn’t know if or when they would be compromised, which would often mean a frantic race to escape from superior forces.

During an extraction by ropes, the helicopter crew chief would throw ropes with a sandbag tied to one end down from a hovering helicopter. SOG commandos would hook the ropes to links on their uniforms. The helicopter would then rise straight up to clear the jungle before flying away.

Throughout the Vietnam War, ropes methods saved several lives, and their use sometimes seemed straight out of a movie.

In June 1967, a reinforced SOG company composed of Green Berets and local troops entered Laos to conduct battle-damage assessment after an airstrike on a North Vietnamese headquarters hub along the Ho Chi Minh trail complex.

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal sailors conduct a special patrol insertion/extraction exercise aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, September 29, 2015. 

The roughly 100-man “Hatchet Force” came upon a strong NVA force, and a fierce battle ensued. The American commandos and their local allies were surrounded and pinned down, but their firepower saved them from being overrun.

The NVA shot down several fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft that tried to exfiltrate or support the battered SOG company. Eventually, some choppers were able to come in and exfiltrate members of the force.

During one of those trips, a Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Stallion was shot down close to the Hatchet Force’s perimeter. Somehow, Sgt. First Class Charles Wilklow survived the crash, though he was badly wounded.

The NVA captured him but, seeing his wounds, thought he only had a few hours to live. They tied him down and used him as bait for a rescue operation. Considering the certain failure of a rescue mission, SOG headquarters didn’t take the bait.

After four days, Wilklow was still alive, despite his grievous wounds. Yet the NVA didn’t guard him, believing he wouldn’t survive. Wilklow managed to free himself and crawl into the jungle at night.

The next day, a SOG forward air controller spotted an almost-dead Wilklow. He was soon extracted by ropes — despite his ordeal, he was still wearing his STABO rig.

Moving parts

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
US Marines conduct special patrol insertion/extraction and helicopter rappel training in Okinawa, Japan, October 23, 2020. 

As tensions rise with China, and with conflict in Southeast or East Asia a growing prospect, the SPIE method is increasingly relevant, but it remains risky and inconvenient.

“[SPIE] operations are pretty dangerous, with lots of moving parts that can potentially go wrong,” a Marine Raider told Insider. “You have to watch as you exit the aircraft mid-air, and more so if you’re the first man out because you’ve got five, six, sometimes seven guys right behind you while the pilots are trying to hold position midair. You also have to account for the rotor wash in water and desert ops. You can’t see much while landing because of the sea spray or dust in the air.”

Since the SPIE technique can be used for both land and water operations, it provides special-operations units with more choices when planning operations in the Pacific theater.

For example, the SPIE technique can be used to extract Navy SEALs conducting special reconnaissance along the Chinese coast or a Special Forces detachment doing unconventional warfare in support of local forces on China’s borders.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Intel

Meet the American raising a Christian army to fight ISIS

Former Georgetown grad Matthew VanDyke is fighting ISIS the only way he knows how — through a grassroots military training initiative he calls Sons of Liberty International (SOLI).


The self-made nonprofit aims to equip the Christian north of Iraq against the threat of the so-called Islamic State, mobilizing local volunteers against insurgents that have devastated Assyrian communities since ISIS invaded last year.

Despite VanDyke’s zeal for the cause, reactions to SOLI and the involvement of fellow Westerners in the Arab conflict are greatly divided. The American Evangelical community hails VanDyke’s work as revolutionary, while others are suspicious of SOLI, which has zero backing from Iraqi or American governments.

SOLI’s main objective is to empower the Ninevah Plain Protection Units (NPU), a volunteer Christian militia that is comprised of Iraqi civilians, American ex-soldiers and everything in between. Originally operating as a ragtag defense unit, VanDyke and senior NPU members are shifting the group to the offensive, hoping to reclaim ISIS-occupied Assyrian villages and eventually join the fight for the ISIS-stronghold of Mosul.

VanDyke himself has no formal military training, but he’s no stranger to Middle Eastern conflict. The 36-year-old ‘s rap sheet includes living as a POW after fighting with Libyan rebels in 2010, as well as working alongside war journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff while filming a documentary short to promote the Free Syrian Army.

In an interview with Adam Linehan of Maxim, VanDyke expressed his fierce belief in SOLI and its work:

“Sometimes I question if it was a wise decision,” he said. “But once you become aware of the brutality of the modern world, there’s no plugging back into the matrix. There’s no un-ringing that bell.” Then, after a long pause, he added: “I’m fully committed to the cause. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

For the full story, check out Maxim

To watch SOLI train, watch the video below:

NOW: ISIS may be on the verge of losing its biggest asset

OR: An American has died fighting ISIS in Syria

Intel

Veterans On Reddit Shared Their Favorite Experiences From The US Military

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Photo: Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/US Army


People have a range of different reasons for joining the military, and each US veteran has their own unique experiences and memories while in the service.

Redditer user airmonk asked the veterans at the military community on Reddit about their single best experiences while serving. The answers run from the mundane to the comical to the serious, and present a glimpse into life in the military that many outside of the service rarely encounter or even know about.

Below are some of our favorite answers to airmonk’s question: “veterans of reddit, what is the best experience you’ve had while serving?”

Bat_Manatee, a member of the US Army, said that his best experience was taking part in the commemorations of the D-Day invasion’s 70th anniversary over the summer in 2014: “Jumped into Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The entire Normandy experience was awesome, capped off by the jump.”

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Photo: The National Guard/Flickr

User docskreba, a member of the Air Force, was also at the commemorations and echoed Bat_Manatee’s sentiment:

“I was part of the crew running the flight line at Cherbourg for that jump (and everything else going on that week). I have a video of the elephant walk somewhere…”

I do have this videoof a C-130 flyby at Pointe du Hoc.

Very cool experience indeed.

Other veterans said that their favorite experiences while serving were the moments of silence and contemplation.

Stinkfingers, a member of the US Coast Guard, shared this experience: “Being at sea looking at the stars. All you can hear is the gentle rumble of the diesel engines and the water sloshing. Very relaxing after a long day.”

Likewise, Spritzertog, a member of the Marines, held a similar affinity for staring skyward: “Sitting on the hood of my car with a female Marine friend of mine, in the middle of the desert just outside of 29 Palms [a Marine base in California] … staring up at the star-filled night sky with absolutely no lights anywhere nearby.”

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony R. Martinez/US Navy

Potato_Muncher, an Army veteran, enjoyed the hard living and action that came with serving in Iraq:

68W AIT [healthcare specialist advanced individual training]. Enough trim and alcohol to kill a small elephant.

Besides that? Probably the outpost outside of Bartella, Iraq near Mosul. I loved that little 75 x 75yd plot of land. No one to tell you what to do, leadership that was as exhausted as you, my own room (Medic perks), daily foot patrols, etc. It was like an awesome FTX [field training exercise] away from Big Army.

Pntfrk also had his best experience in the military while in the field:

Blew up a house on the 4th of July. I was EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] and we were called out to clear/dispose of a cache found in a house. The IA major in charge of the area wanted us to take down the house since they kept finding caches there. We happily obliged.

But for thepancakedrawer, serving in the military was worth it just for the nuggets: “Free chicken nuggets on Mondays at Chick-Fil-A.”

This classic spy plane can’t land safely without a car driving behind it at 140 mph
Photo: yoppy/Flickr

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

Also Watch: The Military Categories The Oscars Forgot

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