Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills - We Are The Mighty
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Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

The territory controlled by the ISIS is vast and spreads across wide areas of Iraq and Syria. To date ISIS has proved resilient in the face of American airstrikes, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Iranian-backed Shia militias, battle-hardened Syrian rebels, Asad regime forces, and even other jihadist groups.


Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Institute for the Study of War

In 2014, ISIS surprised the world with a string of military victories in Iraq, even threatening the central government in Baghdad before American and Kurdish intervention. The swath of territory under their control has not shrunk by much since then.

So how can a paramilitary organization with no recognized trading partners maintain an economy, infrastructure, and sustained military campaigns on multiple fronts? By any means necessary, it appears. Some bloggers suggest Turkey is funding them, or the U.S. government, or even payday lenders. The reality is much more simple and ISIS remains one of the most well-funded paramilitary terrorist organizations ever, with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.

Here are ISIS’ 10 main sources of funding:

1. Oil Smuggling

ISIS captured oil wells all over Iraq and in Northern Syria in 2014. With refined gasoline running near $7.50 per gallon across the border in Turkey, any relief from those kinds of prices is a welcome relief, even if that cheap oil comes from a group like ISIS. The terror group controls 80,000 of Iraq’s total 3 million daily barrels of oil, but the area of oil fields under their control is the size of the UK. In Syria, ISIS controls sixty percent of total production capacity and is selling oil at a rock-bottom $25 per barrel. As of October 2015, the market price of oil was $43. Cross-border smuggling of cheap crude oil earns ISIS and estimated $1.5-3.6 million each day, maybe as high as $800 million each year.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

2. Donations from Angel Investors

ISIS is a fundamentalist Sunni Islamist group. Their ideology is close to the Wahhabi brand of Islam espoused by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It shouldn’t come as a surprise there are wealthy oil magnates in the Gulf’s Sunni monarchies, like Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates who share ISIS’ core beliefs and are willing to send money to help them. Experts believe angel investors in Qatar are sending the largest portion of individual investments. Their interests may lie more in the overthrow of the regime of Bashar al-Asad, whose government supported Shia muslims in Syria. This income source comes to the tune of $40 million over the past two years.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

3. Organized Crime

Calling ISIS “thugs” isn’t just a way of demeaning those who fight, work for, or otherwise support the group. As the only form of law enforcement in the areas under its control, ISIS has a “massive” organized crime operation. It demands large sums of money from those in its territory. Anyone who wants to start a business, withdraw from their bank account, or just be alive are taxed on almost every aspect of daily life. These taxes also extend to dams, granaries, and even oil fields. These taxes can be as high as ten percent per transaction. They’ve even been known to take necklaces and earrings off of women.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
It’s really weird that they pose like this.

4. Looting Banks and Museums

When ISIS captured Mosul in 2014, it famously looted the central bank, cashing in on a large amount of money. It also loots smaller banks as it swarms through new territory under its control. In Mosul alone, ISIS took over 12 branches. All told, experts believe $1.5 billion was captured by the terror group in the past two years.  Bank robbery plays a part, but the terror organization will also loot museums and sell valuable artifacts through towns on the Turkish border with Syria. 1/3 of Iraqi archeological sites are under ISIS control and the looting of these sites for artifacts to sell on the black market is the group’s second largest income source.

5. Hostages and Kidnapping

Capturing Westerners and other foreigners is a major source of income for ISIS. Knowing full well the group will fulfill its word to brutally murder those it captures, hostages for profit earns ISIS an estimated $12 million per month, and at least $20 million in 2014. American journalists Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff were held by ISIS for ransom, but because ransoming the men would have been illegal, their families didn’t pay and the two were beheaded. France is known to have paid $14 million for four captured journalists. For locals, the price is $500 to $200,000.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

6. Illegal Drugs Sex Trafficking

An Iraqi in Qatar told Newsweek nearly 4,000 women and girls from the Yazidi minority in Iraqi were forced into marriage or sold for sex. There are many more women from other minorities. Girls as young as 14 are forced to either convert to Islam and be wives or be sold into slavery. Reports of cocaine and methamphetamine use are rampant, but more reliable reports indicate ISIS grows marijuana on the outskirts of major cities for sale in Turkey. ISIS is also known to smuggle cigarettes and alcohol, all of which is strictly forbidden under their brand of Islam.

7. Bitcoin

Bitcoin is not a regulated currency, and Israeli intelligence agencies acknowledged they know ISIS is using the currency for fundraising efforts in the United States.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

8. Fake Foreign Aid

Unregistered charities worldwide provide ISIS with a method of laundering money from various sources and donors, turning the money into “humanitarian aid.” Fighters will coordinate dropoffs of the aid payments through international data messaging services like Kik and WhatsApp. $11 million of fake aid came to ISIS through Qatar since the start of Syrian Civil War in 2011.

9. Internet Cafes

In Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS territory, there were less than 20 internet cafes in the city before the rise of ISIS. Since then, the number has grown to more than 500. According to Syrian activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently the city is now dependent on expensive satellite internet connections controlled by the militants.

10. Fines for Breaking Sharia Law (al-Hisbah)

The terror organization charges steep fines for breaking strict Islamic laws, for everything from smoking tobacco to arriving late to the mosque for prayers. As brutal as the group’s methods are, people living under ISIS rule can now pay fines to avoid torture or execution. Even actual crimes like theft and fraud can be mitigated with payments in Syrian currency.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

ISIS burns through cash, spending on military hardware, equipment, infrastructure, safe houses, mass transportation, food, and its own high-quality media center, al-Hayat (the life) and a magazine called Dabiq, not to mention tens of thousands of fighters operating in the fieldNo matter how much the group spends, it makes an estimated $6 million from these sources every day. There may be no limit to how much the group can expend in its effort to further its ideology.

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American Marines might deploy aboard Brit carrier with F-35s

When HMS Queen Elizabeth makes her maiden deployment in 2021, she will be operating the short take-off, vertical landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II.


There’s just one catch – the planes will not be owned by the United Kingdom.

According to a report by The Register, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy won’t have enough Lightning IIs to fill out even a reduced air wing of 12 F-35s (about the size of a squadron). To put that into perspective, plans call for a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier to have as many as 36 of the multi-role V/STOL fighters. The Brits have stood up 809 Squadron in the Fleet Air Arm and 617 Squadron of the RAF (the famous Dambusters), plus the RAF’s 17 Squadron as an operational conversion unit.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
The Royal Navy’s largest ever warship HMS Queen Elizabeth is gently floated out of her dock for the first time in Rosyth, Scotland, in July 2014. (Photo from U.K. MOD)

Fortunately for the Brits, the United States Marine Corps operates a similar version of the F-35Bs, and when the Queen Elizabeth deploys, some Marines with their new jets will be deploying on board the 70,000-ton carrier alongside their British brothers.

The deployment will come after a lengthy gap, since the British retired their force of GR-7 and GR-9 Harriers in 2010.

The two planes will carry some different missiles. British Lightning IIs will carry other weapons, like the Meteor air-to-air missile and the Brimstone air-to-ground missile. British combat aircraft are also able to carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder, and other American-made munitions.

The Marine F-35Bs that will come to the rescue might come from one of two squadrons.

The first, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-211, is the famous “Wake Island Avengers.” That unit, with five F4F Wildcats, held the line in December 1941 against long odds, and was credited with sinking a Japanese destroyer and three other vessels, as well as inflicting other losses on the enemy. Henry Elrod received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the siege.

Throughout its history VMFA-211 operated classic planes like the F4U Corsair, the A-1 Skyraider, the A-4 Skyhawk, and the AV-8B Harrier before transitioning to the F-35B.

The other unit that could deploy aboard the British carrier is Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-121, the “Green Knights,” saw action as part of the famous “Cactus Air Force” that flew from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The squadron was credited with 208 kills, and included Medal of Honor winner (and #2 Marine ace Joe Foss) among the pilots who flew with it.

The planes this squadron flew throughout its history prior to receiving the F-35B include the FU4, the F8F Bearcat, the A-1 Skyraider, the F9F Cougar, the A-4 Skyhawk, the A-6 Intruder, and the F/A-18D Hornet.

This joint air wing for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s historic deployment will harken back to World War II history as well. The Marines will be pulling from the “Cactus Air Force,” the polyglot force that held the line on Guadalcanal that included VMFA-121. The British will recall the “Eagle Squadrons” of American pilots who fought Nazi Germany before the U.S. entered World War II.

Articles

11 images of what it’s like seeing your DI for the first time after boot camp

From the moment a recruit arrives at basic training they’re called some pretty inventive names — and the abuse won’t stop for at least 12-weeks.


They can be the strongest or fastest in their platoon, but their drill instructors will still find a reason to yell at them to try to break them down — it’s just the way it goes.

The DI’s evil personality will usually drive recruits to resentment.

Since the military is smaller than most people think, it’s possible to run into your former drill instructor months or even years after you graduated boot camp.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

Check out what many young troops go through when they see their DI for the first time outside of boot camp.

1. When you’re now an E-3, and you think you’re the sh*t walking into the PX on a Saturday afternoon.

Somebody point me to the X-box games — or else. (Image via Giphy)

2. That look you give when you spot your former DI checking out DVDs with these little kids who appear to be mini versions of them.

WTF! They don’t live at boot camp? (Image via Giphy)

3. When they look over in your direction and you pretend you didn’t see them.

You can’t see me. (Image via Giphy)

4. After a few moments of hiding, you decide to casually walk over in their direction — hoping they spot you.

You just ease your way over. (Image via Giphy)

5. Once you get close enough, you pretend you’re doing something important or in deep thought to get them to notice you.

Yup, you look real freakin’ important now. (Image via Giphy)

6. You then attempt to make eye contact with them.

I command you to look at me. (Image via Giphy)

7. Your former DI starts to take notice of your subtle eye contact.

Who the f*ck is this person looking at? (Image via Giphy)

8. They finally semi-recognized you, but you act surprised like you didn’t recognize their face the moment you saw them checking out those adorable family fun genre DVDs.

Sergeant? Wow, I barely recognized you since I’m so mature these days. (Image via Giphy)

9. You start up a meaningless conversation with them. You show off how well you’re doing with your new unit.

What a show-off. (Image via Giphy)

10. But they congratulate you and even shake your hand before walking away. You’re more confused now than ever.

What just happened here? (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: 14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

11. Then you realize, this whole time you thought they were an a**hole, but they weren’t.

Unreal. (Image via Giphy)

Did you ever see your instructor outside of boot camp? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Lists

5 war movie wounds that the troop had no chance surviving

War movies wouldn’t be complete without some cinematic deaths. In some of these flicks, the troop is killed instantly by a barrage of incoming fire, but in others, the director decides to take his time with something dramatic and drawn out.


In some cases, there’s a hint of hope that the near-death character just might pull through — but that sh*t is freaking rare.

Check out these five on-screen wounds that the troop had no chance of surviving.

1. Cowboy (Full Metal Jacket)

In the film our favorite Texan takes a direct sniper round to his chest out of nowhere. F*ck! Cowboy’s Marines drag him to safety to render treatment, but there are two things working against him:

  1. He got hit in the back and round went through his chest wall. That’s bad.
  2. The squad’s Corpsman got killed in the previous scene. That’s double bad.

Cowboy made a boot mistake by standing in front of those two big-ass holes in the wall, giving that sniper a clear line of sight on him — just sayin’.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Source: Warner Brothers Pictures)

2. Nick (Deer Hunter)

While playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette — which we strongly recommend against — Nicky fires a round straight into his brain and falls to the floor. Michael rushes over and applies pressure to his massive, bleeding wound, but he doesn’t have a chance at saving his friend without an operating room and a skilled neurosurgeon on hand.

It’s a great movie, but why didn’t Micheal use Nicky’s red head wrap to help stop the bleeding? Just sayin’.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Source: Universal Pictures)

3. William Wallace (Braveheart)

William Wallace’s legacy is so impressive that we hate to rain on every Scotsman’s parade with this one. Toward the end of the film, Wallace is hung by the neck, his limbs are stretched apart by horses, and his entrails are pulled out his abdomen — brutal. Wallace is told throughout his execution that if he asks for mercy, they will grant it.

As they pull out his insides, he’s told one final time to ask for mercy — as if the medical technology of the time could help them properly restore those vital organs.

Plus, his diaphragm was probably ripped to hell, making it impossible for him to famously scream, “freedom!” — just sayin’.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Source: Paramount Pictures)

4. Medic Wade (Saving Private Ryan)

Deep in the second act, Medic Wade takes a few rounds to his torso. Capt. Miller and the rest of the Rangers render the best treatment they can muster.

The soldiers use a lot of pressure dressings, iodized salt packets, and water to try and save their friend and only medic. Unfortunately, his wounds were far too severe. They never had a shot.

It’s a dramatic scene, but we also doubt Wade would’ve been able to speak as clearly as he was — just sayin’.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Source: DreamWorks Pictures)

5. Elias (Platoon)

This fictional sergeant is one of the film’s most influential characters, as he brings a glimmer of humanity to an inhumane world. Once we witness (spoiler alert) Sgt. Barnes shoot Elias a few times, we figure he’s was dead. Little do we know, he’s got a lot more fight in him.

Later, we spot Elias running away from the enemy toward the helicopter and, for a split second, we think he just might make it. We’re so wrong.

It’s amazing none of those AK-47 rounds rip through the front of his chest wall like they do Cowboy’s — just sayin’.

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Source: Orion Pictures)

I challenge you to count the number of times Elias gets shot. If you think you’ve got it, comment below.

Lists

The 25 most powerful militaries in the world 2018

President Donald Trump has emphasized military might during his first year in office, but the US is not the only country seeking to expand its battlefield capacities. Between 2012 and 2016, more weapons were delivered than during any five-year period since 1990.


Arms sales indicate who is beefing up their armed forces, but head-to-head military comparisons are harder to come by. Global Firepower’s 2017 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 50 factors to assign a Power Index score to 133 countries.

The ranking assesses the diversity of weapons held by each country and pays particular attention to the manpower available. The geography, logistical capacity, available natural resources, and the status of local industry are also taken into account.

Also read: Search militaries The top 10 militaries of the world in 2017

While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, the nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score.

Moreover, countries that are landlocked are not docked points for lacking a navy, though they are penalized for not having a merchant marine force.

Countries with navies are penalized if there is a lack of diversity in their naval assets.

NATO countries get a slight bonus because the alliance would theoretically share resources, but in general, a country’s current political and military leadership was not considered.

“Balance is the key — a large, strong fighting force across land, sea and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure — such qualities are those used to round out a particular nation’s total fighting strength on paper,” the ranking states.

Below, you can see the 25 most powerful militaries in the world:

25. Algeria

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Algerian Army. (Photo by Lamraoui.lamin)

Power Index rating: 0.4366

Total population: 40,263,711

Total military personnel: 792,350

Total aircraft strength: 502

Fighter aircraft: 89

Combat tanks: 2,405

Total naval assets: 85

Defense budget: $10.6 billion

24. Saudi Arabia

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian Naval Special Forces prepare for an assault during a subject matter expert exchange with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, in Saudi Arabia, May 15, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNan)

Power Index rating: 0.4302

Total population: 28,160,273

Total military personnel: 256,000

Total aircraft strength: 790

Fighter aircraft: 177

Combat tanks: 1,142

Total naval assets: 55

Defense budget: $56.7 billion

23. North Korea

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(KCNA)

Power Index rating: 0.4218

Total population: 25,115,311

Total military personnel: 6,445,000

Total aircraft strength: 944

Fighter aircraft: 458

Combat tanks: 5,025

Total naval assets: 967

Defense budget: $7.5 billion

22. Australia

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Australian army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lock.)

Power Index rating: 0.4072

Total population: 22,992,654

Total military personnel: 81,000

Total aircraft strength: 465

Fighter aircraft: 78

Combat tanks: 59

Total naval assets: 47 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $24.1 billion

21. Iran

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Iranian soldiers.

Power Index rating: 0.3933

Total population: 82,801,633

Total military personnel: 934,000

Total aircraft strength: 477

Fighter aircraft: 137

Combat tanks: 1,616

Total naval assets: 398

Defense budget: $6.3 billion

20. Thailand

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Royal Thai Navy. (US Navy photo)

Power Index rating: 0.3892

Total population: 68,200,824

Total military personnel: 627,425

Total aircraft strength: 555

Fighter aircraft: 76

Combat tanks: 737

Total naval assets: 81 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $5.4 billion

Related: The 9 coolest things militaries have done with the M113

19. Poland

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Polish soldiers pull security near a breach in the perimeter wall following a complex attack on Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Aug. 28, 2013. (Operational photo courtesy of Polish Land Forces)

Power Index rating: 0.3831

Total population: 38,523,261

Total military personnel: 184,650

Total aircraft strength: 465

Fighter aircraft: 99

Combat tanks: 1,065

Total naval assets: 83

Defense budget: $9.4 billion

18. Taiwan

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

Power Index rating: 0.3765

Total population: 23,464,787

Total military personnel: 1,932,500

Total aircraft strength: 850

Fighter aircraft: 286

Combat tanks: 2,005

Total naval assets: 87

Defense budget: $10.7 billion

17. Brazil

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
The Brazilian aircraft carrier NAe Sao Paolo.

Power Index rating: 0.3654

Total population: 205,823,665

Total military personnel: 1,987,000

Total aircraft strength: 697

Fighter aircraft: 43

Combat tanks: 469

Total naval assets: 110

Defense budget: $24.5 billion

16. Vietnam

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(U.S. Army photo)

Power Index rating: 0.3587

Total population: 95,261,021

Total military personnel: 5,488,500

Total aircraft strength: 278

Fighter aircraft: 76

Combat 1,545

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $3.4 billion

15. Israel

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Photo from Israeli Defense Forces Flickr)

Power Index rating: 0.3476

Total population: 8,174,527

Total military personnel: 718,250

Total aircraft strength: 652

Fighter aircraft: 243

Combat tanks: 2,620

Total naval assets: 65

Defense budget: $15.5 billion

14. Indonesia

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
(Photo by Spc. Elizabeth Cole, 9th Mission Support Command)

Power Index rating: 0.3347

Total population: 258,316,051

Total military personnel: 975,750

Total aircraft strength: 441

Fighter aircraft: 39

Combat tanks: 418

Total naval assets: 221

Defense budget: $6.9 billion

13. Pakistan

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

Power Index rating: 0.3287

Total population: 201,995,540

Total military personnel: 919,000

Total aircraft strength: 951

Fighter aircraft: 301

Combat tanks: 2,924

Total naval assets: 197

Defense budget: $7 billion

More: These countries still force people into their militaries

12. South Korea

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
South Korean Soldiers in the 631st Field Artillery Battalion, 26th Mechanized Infantry Division Artillery.  (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Dasol Choi, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 1st Cav. Div.)

Power Index rating: 0.2741

Total population: 50,924,172

Total military personnel: 5,829,750

Total aircraft strength: 1,477

Fighter aircraft: 406

Combat tanks: 2,654

Total naval assets: 166 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $43.8 billion

11. Italy

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Two troops ride on an A129 attack helicopter. (Photo by Aldo Bidini)

Power Index rating: 0.2694

Total population: 62,007,540

Total military personnel: 267,500

Total aircraft strength: 822

Fighter aircraft: 79

Combat tanks: 200

Total naval assets: 143 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $34 billion

10. Egypt

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Two Egyptian Mi-8 Hip helicopters. (US Air Force photo)

Power Index rating: 0.2676

Total population: 94,666,993

Total military personnel: 1,329,250

Total aircraft strength: 1,132

Fighter aircraft: 337

Combat tanks: 4,110

Total naval assets: 319 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $4.4 billion

9. Germany

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
A German soldier aims his gun during a Belgium and German military forces weapons qualification at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 29, 2009.

Power Index rating: 0.2609

Total population: 80,722,792

Total military personnel: 210,000

Total aircraft strength: 698

Fighter aircraft: 92

Combat tanks: 543

Total naval assets: 81

Defense budget: $39.2 billion

8. Turkey

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Turkish Armed Forces shells a group of YPG terrorists in the west of Jarablus. (Turkish military photo via Twitter)

Power Index rating: 0.2491

Total population: 80,274,604

Total military personnel: 743,415

Total aircraft strength: 1,018

Fighter aircraft: 207

Combat tanks: 2,445

Total naval assets: 194

Defense budget: $8.2 billion

7. Japan

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Soldiers from the Japanese 22nd Inf. Regt. prepare to attack Leschi Town, a MOUT site on Fort Lewis, during bilateral training with the U.S. 1-17 Inf. (Photo by Phil Sussman)

Power Index rating: 0.2137

Total population: 126,702,133

Total military personnel: 311,875

Total aircraft strength: 1,594

Fighter aircraft: 288

Combat tanks: 700

Total naval assets: 131 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $43.8 billion

6. United Kingdom

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
A British Parachute Regiment soldier prepares to load a helicopter during a simulated medical evacuation in an exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area, in Hohenfels, Germany, June 17, 2016. (Photo by Sgt. Seth Plagenza, US Army)

Power Index rating: 0.2131

Total population: 64,430,428

Total military personnel: 232,675

Total aircraft strength: 856

Fighter aircraft: 88

Combat tanks 249

Total naval assets: 76 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $45.7 billion

5. France

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
A French paratrooper aims his antitank weapon at an enemy. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Juan F. Jimenez)

Power Index rating: 0.1914

Total population: 66,836,154

Total military personnel: 387,635

Total aicraft strength: 1,305

Fighter aircraft 296

Combat tanks: 406

Total naval assets: 118 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $35 billion

4. India

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Soldiers of the Madras Regiment, Indian Army.

Power Index rating: 0.1593

Total population: 1,266,883,598

Total military personnel: 4,207,250

Total aircraft strength: 2,102

Fighter aircraft: 676

Combat tanks: 4,426

Total naval assets: 295 (three aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $51 billion

3. China

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
The crew of a Chinese navy patrol plane. (Photo from People’s Liberation Army)

Power Index rating: 0.0945

Total population: 1,373,541,278

Total military personnel: 3,712,500

Total aircraft strength: 2,955

Fighter aircraft: 1,271

Combat tanks: 6,457

Total naval assets: 714 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $161.7 billion

2. Russia

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills
Russian Army Soldiers.

Power Index rating: 0.0929

Total population: 142,355,415

Total military personnel: 3,371,027

Total aircraft strength: 3,794

Fighter aircraft: 806

Combat tanks: 20,216

Total naval assets: 352 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: $44.6 billion

1. United States

Sex, drugs, and Bitcoin: The 10 ways ISIS pays the bills

Power Index rating: 0.0857

Total population: 323,995,528

Total military personnel: 2,363,675

Total aircraft: 13,762

Fighter aircraft: 2,296

Combat tanks: 5,884

Total naval assets: 415 (19 aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: $587.8 billion

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The 5 best ways US troops can blow down enemy doors

A good, stout door will protect people from a lot of dangers. It will not, however, save enemies of the U.S. from America’s armed forces. While troops can usually open a door with a swift donkey kick or a battering ram, they also have more violent ways of making an entrance.


1. Rifle-fired grenades

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

The Simon grenade rifle entry munition, or GREM, is mounted on the end of a M-16 rifle or M-4 carbine. The weapon’s standard 5.56mm round is fired, striking the grenade and sending it 15-30 meters to the target door. Once the grenade’s standoff rod strikes the target, the grenade detonates and opens the door — violently.

2. Standard breaching charges

When firing a grenade isn’t an option, troops can just plant an explosive on the door.

3. Water charge

A modification of the standard explosive charge, water charges reduce the risk of injury to the breachers or the people on the other side of the door. Standard explosives sandwiched between containers of water are placed on the door and detonated. Water bottles are commonly used, but this video was filmed using IV bags.

4. Shotgun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmt8NyvcJgY

Of course, service members who are already carrying a shotgun would probably prefer to just use it. Troops press the barrel against the frame, aiming for hinge points or where bolts pass through the frame. Once the round rips through the wood, the door can be quickly kicked or pushed open.

5. Blowing out an entire wall

Sometimes it’s not a good idea to go through the door at all. In that case, there are a few ways to rig explosives to make a new opening in a wall. In this video, det cord was placed on a marksmanship target to create a large, oval-shaped explosive and the whole thing was stuck to the wall. When detonated, it makes a hole big enough to run through. To go straight to the explosion in the video, skip to 2:20.

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Is the new Iranian fighter a paper tiger?

Iran has made waves announcing new weapons, like the Bavar 373 and Qaher 313 in recent years, and they’ve been conducting a lot of tests. Iran even claimed to have copied the RQ-170 “Beast of Kandahar” reconnaissance drone after one of the American spy planes made a forced landing in Iran.


But are these systems paper tigers? According to the National Interest, the Iranians may not have thought through their Qaher 313 very well. In fact, the Qaher 313 may be in the pantheon of “most useless combat planes” that includes such luminaries as the Boulton-Paul Defiant and the Brewster F2A Buffalo.

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Lineart of the Qaher-313 mockup based on estimations. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, when Iranian-made versions of the Chinese C-802 missile were fired at American ships on multiple occasions this past October by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, they failed to score any hits, and drew a retaliatory strike.

The Qaher 313 is touted as Iran’s fifth-generation stealth fighter, capable of carrying 2,000-pound bombs, Chinese PL-12 missiles, and other weapons. That’s the hype. But what is the reality?

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani joins Defense Ministry officials at the unveiling of the Bavar 373 SAM system. (Photo: Tasnim)

The claim drew skepticism, with the National Interest reporter recalling a comparison of the Qaher 313 to a GI Joe toy. One of the reasons is that the Iranians appear to only have the option of using reverse-engineered versions of the J85 engine, which is used on their inventory of F-5E Tiger fighters.

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Public Domain

The aircraft’s size has also caused some discussion, with some believing that the Iranians displayed a small-scale mock-up. Others, though, have claimed that the plane is just a propaganda exercise — and a poorly executed one, at that. Haaretz.com called the plane a “glorified mock-up” that “won’t cause any panic in the Israeli Air Force’s intelligence wing.”

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Iran has reportedly made a killer drone based on a secret U.S.-designed RQ-170 Sentinel.

This isn’t the only such dispute. Iran’s claims to have copied the RQ-170 also drew skepticism, with some claiming the Iranians had built a static mock-up. It should be noted that Iran has successfully built naval vessels, notably the Jamaran-class frigates and the Peykan-class missile boats, as well as an indigenous coastal submarine.

Articles

How going to war brings out the best and worst in people

Sebastian Junger is not a military veteran. He makes that clear, but he sure sounds like one. Maybe it’s because he’s covered conflict zones from Sierra Leone to Nigeria to Afghanistan as a journalist. It’s safe to say he’s seen more conflict than many in the United States military.

If there’s an expert on modern warfare and the long-term effects of those who live it, that person is Sebastian Junger.


He sees war and its effects through the lens of an anthropologist. This not only gives him the perspective to look back on his homecoming—and the homecomings of U.S. troops—to see the problems and abnormalities with how societies deal with their combat veterans, it allows him to put those ideas into words. Some words returning and transitioning veterans may not have ever known to use.

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“We try hard to keep combat at a distance,” he says in the new PBS documentary Going to War. “But when we talk about war, we talk about what it means to be human.”

In Going to War, Junger and fellow author Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) examine the paradox of fighting in combat: how the brotherhood and sense of purpose contrast with the terror, pain, and grief surrounding the violence and destruction. It starts with the training. Whenever young men (and now women) are placed in a situation where they would be fighting for their lives, the training would diminish perceptions of the individual in favor of the group.

“If you have people acting individualistically in a combat unit, the unit falls apart and gets annihilated,” Junger says. “So you need them to focus on the group. The training, beyond firing a weapon, is an attempt to get people to stop thinking of themselves.

This is not just the U.S. military. This is every military around the world.

The United States is “orders of magnitude” more capable than most. What the U.S. is having trouble dealing with is what comes after its veterans return home and then to civilian life. For returning vets, sometimes the problem is returning to an unearned hero’s welcome.

Only about ten percent of the military will ever see combat. Those who don’t still get the welcome home, but feel guilty for feeling like they never did enough to earn that accolade.

For those who were in combat, the experience of being shot, shot at, and watching others get killed or wounded is a traumatic experience that our increasingly isolated society doesn’t handle well.

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When veterans leave the military, separation becomes a more apt term than we realize. Our wealthy, individualistic modern society rips military veterans from their tribal environment while they’re in the military and puts them back into a cold, unfamiliar and far less communal world.

Junger thinks a fair amount of what we know as PTSD is really the shock of a tribal-oriented veteran being put in an individualized environment.

Going to War did a fantastic job of capturing the experience of fighting in a war and then coming home,” Junger says. “For me one of the most powerful moments wasn’t even on the battlefield.

Junger goes on to describe what, for him, is the most poignant story out of a slew of emotional, true stories of men fighting nearly a century of wars:

“A young man, a Marine describing his final training, a ruck march. They had heavy packs and the guy had an injury so he couldn’t walk very well. Another guy comes along and carries his pack for him, so the second guy is carrying 160 pounds maybe, and says ‘If you’re not gonna make it across the finish in time, then neither will I. We’re gonna do it together or fail together.’ And that is the central ethos to men in combat in the military.”

For more of Sebastian Junger and his thoughts on war and the men and women who fight it, be sure to download or listen to this podcast. If you still can’t get enough Junger (and we totally get understand), check out his amazing books or our previous podcast with him where we talked about his latest book, Tribe.

Going to War airs on PBS on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. Eastern. Check your local listings.

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7 reasons why Obi-wan Kenobi was basically Ulysses S. Grant

Just replace Kenobi’s spirit form at the end of “Return of the Jedi” with Ulysses S. Grant’s love of spirits and you have a strong case that the famed Union general and 18th president was the real world inspiration for the legendary Jedi Master.


Both of these bearded military masterminds have just way too much in common.

1. Both are widely regarded for the first half of their accomplishments, but were immortalized by their final ones.

Quick history lesson for anyone living under a rock since 1977 or never picked up a history book.

Obi-wan Kenobi was a Jedi Knight in the prequel trilogy of “Star Wars.” His level head and skill in battle shot him up the ranks before eventually being recognized as the mentor to Luke Skywalker in the Original Trilogy.

Ulysses S. Grant was the top general of the Union Army during the American Civil War. His level head and skill in battle shot him up the ranks before eventually being elected to be the 18th President of the United States during the Reconstruction era.

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Did I mention they both rocked some glorious beards?

2. Both accepted their adoptive names early in life.

Each of them have semi-arbitrary names, Ben Kenobi and Ulysses S. Grant.

According to the canon novel “Kenobi,” Obi-wan was meditating in an attempt to contact Qui-Gon. In his conversation, he remembers that Ben was a name he saw on a map and liked it. His fling would then call him by it and it sort of stuck.

It came in handy when he needed to go into hiding (because I guess Kenobi was a common name).

Grant was actually born Hiram Ulysses Grant. When his father wrote his representative to help get the 16-year-old Grant into West Point, the forms were filled out incorrectly and mistakenly written as “Ulysses S. Grant.”

Because this was the biggest opportunity for him at that point, he adopted the name. He would also go by the name “Sam,” because his initials U.S. were a play on Uncle Sam. Eventually that U.S. became “Unconditional Surrender.”

Even though his mother’s maiden name was Simpson, he joked with his wife, “You know I have an ‘S’ in my name and don’t know what it stands for.”

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Pictured: Beardless Obi-wan and Goatee’d Ulysses. They’re still working their way to the awesome beards.

3. Republic versus the Confederacy.

Civil War breaks out for both men. The Galactic Republic fights the separatists, The Confederacy of Independent Systems. War rages on between them in many star systems.

As in our timeline, the United States of America fought the separatists, the Confederate States of America. War rages on between them in many states.

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Obi-wan had clones. Ulysses had Tennesseans.

4. Both were responsible for the first major victory in their wars.

The people of Naboo were losing the invasion by the Trade Federation. Tides were turned when a young padawan, Obi-wan, struck down Darth Maul in an epic light saber battle. He was promoted to Jedi Knight for his actions.

The Union was losing the skirmishes along the Tennessee-Kentucky border, most notably at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Tides were turned when a young Brig. Gen. Grant pushed back Brig. Gen. Floyd in an epic counterattack (and earning him the “Unconditional Surrender” Grant nickname). He was promoted to major general for his actions.

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One saved a film from being completely hated. The other saved a nation.

5. Both had beaten major adversaries in other generals — and a comrade.

Kenobi fought many great enemies during the Clone War and after. In “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” he fought General Grevious, commander of the CIS forces. Afterwords, his largest enemy was the commander of the 501st, Darth Vader himself. Twice (if you consider him being struck down and achieving more power than Vader would ever know a victory).

Darth Vader, previously Anakin Skywalker, was once a great ally to Kenobi, fighting at his side other during the Clone War. By the end, they would both become each other’s greatest enemy.

Grant lead the Union Army through many of its more memorable victories. Grant defeated Confederate generals left and right — many of whom hold the name of U.S. military bases today. General Bragg, Gen. Polk, Gen. A.P. Hill, and of course, Gen. Robert E. Lee. He would defeat Lee at Petersburg and then force his surrender at Appomattox.

Robert E. Lee and Grant had first met each other during the Mexican-American War. Both were present at Scott’s March to Mexico City. This was back when Grant was a still a lieutenant and Lee a lieutenant colonel long before they were both Generals-in-Chief of their respective armies.

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One hated rebel scum. The other had a rebel yell.

6. Both saw their people in turmoil after their Civil Wars.

After the Galactic Republic collapsed into the Empire, Obi-wan needed to go into hiding and assumed the name of “Ben.” He witnessed the collapse of the Jedi Order and the chaos that was brought by the Emperor and Darth Vader. More about what happened in those years is rumored to be played out in the upcoming “Obi-wan” stand-alone film.

Grant may have been victorious, but Reconstruction wasn’t an easy step. The short time between the Union victory and Lincoln’s death was mixed with the moderate positions and vetoes of Andrew Johnson and the devastation of white supremacists had on the newly freed slaves. Grant would try his best to push through his Enforcement Acts, which were in place to protect African Americans and combat the Ku Klux Klan.

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I’m confident a film about what Kenobi was doing between Episodes III and IV will be far cooler than a film about Grant’s presidency.

7. Their successors (mostly) ended the strife.

Obi-wan was slain by Darth Vader, giving his pupil the next step in his hero’s journey. By the end of “Return of the Jedi,” Luke Skywalker would help (spoiler alert: by the way for those aforementioned people under a rock) his father, Darth Vader, renounce the Dark Side and overthrow the Empire, bringing peace until “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

Grant tried to reunite the divided country again, make peace with the Native Americans, and help with civil rights. They still weren’t enough. The Luke Skywalker in this comparison? Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican nominee who took his place. Even still, Hayes only withdrew troops from the South.

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They also both learned the art of the beard and perfected it.

*Bonus!* The strong connection with “McGregor.”

First being portrayed by Alec Guinness of “Bridge on the River Kwai” fame in the original trilogy, he would later be brought to life by Ewan McGregor from “Trainspotting” and “Black Hawk Down.”

As for Ulysses S. Grant, he spent the last weeks of his life at his friend’s cottage atop Mount McGregor while he finished his memoirs.

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Articles

The 7 best Futurama technologies for the war on terrorism

Good news everyone! The year 3000 saw a lot of technological breakthroughs. While some may be purely fictional, not everything about the science and technology of Futurama was entirely fantasy.


From fully interactive holograms to creating a new math theorem to explain a plot twist, the writers of Futurama are very prescient.

Some of their predictions even have military applications. The 7 best are listed below.

1. Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle Cream

The amazing prescription for life’s aches and pains also tends to give its users superpowers like super strength, lickety-speed, and the ability to sometimes command sea creatures. Nothing says “precision strike” like flying to Syria just to punch the caliph in the face. All this for $60!

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Warning: “Keep out of reach of children under the age of 500. For best results, sacrifice a small mammal Xanroc then apply evenly to interior of eyeball. Would you like to sell Dr. Flimflam products? Contact a representative at a covered wagon near you!”

2. Tube Transport

“[being controlled by a Brain Slug] On to new business. Today’s mission is for all of you to go to the Brain Slug Planet.” – Hermes

“What do we do there?” – Zoidberg

“Just walk around not wearing a helmet” – Hermes

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MomCorps’ Transport Tubes are all over New New York, sucking in passengers and flying them to their destinations… but this may soon be a reality.

Instead of long waits for an airplane to get you to and from deployments, imagine just hopping in a tube and magically arriving where you want to go. Sounds better than wasting precious leave days while traveling to R and R from the Brain Slug Planet.

3. Electronium Hat

Please, Fry. I don’t know how to teach. I’m a professor!―Professor Farnsworth

Designed by the Professor to harness the power of sunspots, the electronium hat makes cognitive radiation, a special energy that makes any animal intelligent. The Professor tested it on a monket named Guenther whom he sent to college.

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The intelligence potential of this technology is exciting (see what I did there?). The U.S. military could ally itself with hordes of hat-wearing animals.

4. Q.T. McWhiskers

“Now conquer Earth you bastards!” – Mom

“Conquer Earth us bastards!” – Killbots

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Originally intended to be a children’s toy, petting it would cause the toy to meow and shoot rainbows from its eyes. Mom changed the production model into a massive killbot that shoots lasers.

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5. F-Ray

“Hey, try it on me!” – Fry

Bender points it at Fry’s crotch.

“OW! My sperm!” -Fry

Professor Farnsworth’s F-Ray device emits a neutrino beam which allows the ray’s user to see through anything, including metal. The only problem was it emitted so much nuclear radiation that the Professor had to wear a full-body protective suit.

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It would make searching prisoners much easier, but would likely violate a few treaties.

6. Universal Translator

“This is my Universal Translator, although it only translates into an incomprehensible dead language” – Prof. Farnsworth

“Hello!” – Cubert 

“Bonjour!” – machine

“Crazy gibberish” – Prof. Farnsworth

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In the episode A clone of my own, Professor Farnsworth reveals his Universal Translator invention, which only knows how to translate a funny, dead language (actually French). As is, the universal translator could help French forces in West Africa fighting al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Ansar Dine, and ISIS elements by allowing other intervening Western countries easier communication with locals.

Another version of this device works for alien languages as well as English.

7. What-If Machine

Alright, Professor! Let’s do it. Make that machine show me what would happen if I was a little more impulsive. Just a little… Not too much.Leela

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What if SOCOM had a 500-foot Bender maybe?

The ultimate weapons against ISIS is the ability go back and prevent them for ever forming. By now the world knows ISIS formed in the power vacuum left by the Americans after the Iraq War, but we didn’t see that then. What if we had a machine that would let us watch the consequences of our foreign policy decision so we could always make the right one?

Articles

The Air Force is bringing the C-5 galaxy back into action

Senior Air Force officials want to return a number of C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to active duty after budget cuts pushed them out of service over the last few years.


The C-5 Galaxy is the largest airlifter in the Air Force, standing 65 feet high with a length of 247 feet and a 223-foot wingspan.

The C-5M model, first deployed in 2009, featured more powerful engines that allowed it to haul more cargo with less room needed for takeoff.

The C-5M can haul 120,000 pounds of cargo more than 5,500 miles — the distance from Dover Air Force base in Delaware to Incirlik airbase in Turkey — without refueling. Without cargo, that range jumps to more than 8,000 miles.

It can carry up to 36 standard pallets and 81 troops at the same time or a wide variety of gear, including tanks, helicopters, submarines, equipment, and food and emergency supplies. The C-5M also set 45 aviation records in one flight.

Also read: The first Marine F-35 squadron is gearing up for a Pacific deployment

Because of previous budget cuts as well as sequestration, the Air Force has already moved 12 C-5s and C-5Ms into backup aircraft inventory, “which means we still have the aircraft but lost all manning and funding to operate them,” Air Mobility Commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II told lawmakers at the end of March.

Everhart also said the C-5 inventory had fallen from 112 C-5s a few years prior to just 56 now.

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US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock

In the coming years, the Air Force wants to move at least eight of the mothballed C-5Ms back into service, using newly allocated funds, according to DodBuzz.

“We’re going to buy back two a year for four years, if we’re able to have a predictable budget to get the fleet back to higher quality,” Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee this week.

Also read: This is the Army’s super secret special ops aviation unit

“I need them back because there’s real world things that we’ve got to move, and they give me that … added assurance capability,” Everhart told lawmakers at the end of March. The C-5M’s increased range makes it doubly valuable in the vast Pacific theater.

“Recently, one of these aircraft flew from Travis Air Force Base, California, to Yokota, Japan,” Everhart said of the C-5M. “It’s the only airlifter in the inventory that can make the flight nonstop, which means we can put the American flag on the ground in hours versus days.”

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AP Photo by Francois Mori

Air Mobility Command also intends to improve its current active fleet of airlifters, “upgrading the avionics to improve communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management compliance as well as adding new safety equipment and installing a new autopilot system,” according to an Air Force release.

The project, slated to wrap up in 2018, will also upgrade C-5As, C-5Bs, and C-5Cs into C-5M Super Galaxies by installing the F-138 commercial engine, the release said, giving them a “22 percent increase in thrust, a 30 percent shorter takeoff roll, a 58 percent faster climb rate and will allow significantly more cargo to be carried over longer distances.”

Articles

This is how researchers are trying to stop sand from killing aircraft engines

If you’ve ever seen some of the DOD videos – or photos, for that matter – from Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re often accompanied by huge clouds of dust as helicopters come in for a landing.


But here’s what you don’t see; the damage the sand and dust does on the engines of those helicopters.

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A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes into land at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan following a mission. Note the huge cloud of dust. (UK MoD photo via Wikimedia Commons)

That matters – because the engines of helicopters and jets have one naturally-occurring enemy: FOD, which stands for “foreign object debris.” According to an FAA fact sheet, FOD was responsible for the June 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

What the fact sheet doesn’t mention is that sand and dust are also foreign objects to an engine. What they do isn’t as spectacular as what happened in Paris almost 17 years ago, but it can be just as lethal.

Worse, while regular FOD walks can handle the larger objects, you can never quite get all the sand and dust away from an air base in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, there is a need to figure out how to keep the sand and dust from damaging engine components.

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A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Department of Defense recently released a video about efforts to address this. For instance, one of the researchers in this video one component in the T-700 engine is supposed to last 6,000 hours, but sand and dust reduce that to 400 hours – 1/15 of the planned operating life.

The price tag for the component in question? $30,000. That is a minor inconvenience. When a helo goes down, things get even uglier.

So check out the new ways researchers are attacking the problem of sand-damaged engines.

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