18. POPNAMRAD – Policies, Organizations, and Procedures in Non‐atomic Military Research and Development
19. Prime BEEF – Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force. Pictured below, members of the U.S. Air Force 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron constructs a dome shelter on Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.
20. RED HORSE – Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron, Engineers
21. SINCGARS – Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System
22. SLAMRAAM – Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile.
23. USAADACENFB – United States Army Air Defense Artillery Center, Fort Bliss
It’s not unusual for troops to have a nonchalant or comical attitude about the worst of humanity. Sometimes comedy is all they have to make it through hardships that are unimaginable to most, and those who have deployed to remote locations and hot zones know this all too well.
It’s a mechanism to keep their sanity in the midst of snipers, ambushes, and IEDs, according to an article in Esquire. Sometimes the worse a situation gets, the more they laugh. One thing is for sure, troops go to comical heights to cope with the hand they’re dealt.
Here are nine examples of dark humor in the military:
Anastacia Marx de Salcedo’s new book Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat explores how many of the processed foods we buy at the supermarket are prepared using technology and techniques invented by the military to preserve and transport food for troops in battle. To celebrate its release, the author gives us a glimpse into the book’s subject with a list that highlights just a few ways military research affects our daily diet.
Marx de Salcedo’s book dives deep into the subject: she gains access to the DoD’s Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. She explores the research and reflects on the role of processed food in the civilian diet and wonders about its long-term effects on health. It’s an ambitious book: she weaves military history into a discussion of the food industry and modern health policy, all filtered through her own family’s experiences.
Nooo! Your favorite cyclical McDonald’s treat, the brainchild of the U.S. Army? That’s right. Restructured meat, of which the McRib is an early example, was an outgrowth of a Natick Center program to lower the meat bill by gluing together cheap cuts to look like more expensive ones. The army’s veal, pork, lamb, and beef entrées hit the field in 1976 and were soon served to troops in the new MREs. McDonald’s first used the technology in 1981, but turned it into a tempting baby back shape and amped up the flavor with spices and sauce.
2. Supermarket Bread
Natural bread goes stale. Supermarket bread doesn’t. What’s the difference? Starch-snacking bacterial enzymes, discovered under a Quartermaster Corps contract with Kansas State College, now University, in the 1950s. The enzymes, like their bacterial host, tolerate the heat of baking, and keep on working for weeks, keeping bread soft and fresh.
Who put the cheese in cheesy snack foods? Until the U.S. military invented full-fat dehydrated cheese during World War II, as part of an effort to reduce weight and volume of food shipments abroad, the nation forlornly munched naked corn chips. After D Day, the cheese dehydrators needed new customers, pronto. They found them in the emerging snack and convenience food manufacturers. Today the tangy orange powder is everywhere—especially your fingers!
4. Energy Bars
Energy bars are the result of an almost a century-long quest for an emergency ration that was light, compact, and nutritious. They began as a nasty meltless chocolate bar, which became the D ration, produced by Hershey in the 1940s. They then took a detour through freeze-drying, being served in cubes during the 1960s space flights; astronauts claimed they cause nausea and weight loss. Finally, in the mid-1960s, the Natick Soldier Systems Center got inspired—by the Gaines-Burger dog food patty, the first intermediate-moisture food, which meant it stayed soft even when stored at room temperature for months. The first modern energy bar was one of these—although apricot, not hamburger, flavored—and was munched by David Scott on the Apollo 15 flight.
5. TV Dinners
The first TV dinners weren’t for dining by the flickering blue light of the boob tube but for bomber crews on long overseas flights during World War II. They were invented by an armed forces contractor, which froze meat, vegetables, and potatoes in a tray. (The microwave, also a military invention, came later to heat these up quickly.)
6. Cling/Saran Wrap
Cellophane, the only food film available during World War II, allowed moisture in, so edibles got soggy. So the Quartermaster Corps added food packaging to its wish list of everyday items to be replaced with plastics ones from a classified research program at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Saran film was developed in collaboration with Dow Chemical,which brought it to consumers as soon as it possibly could, filing a patent for the invention just days after Hitler’s death. The first cling wrap appeared in stores in the 1950s and quickly became a kitchen staple.
7. Refrigerated Guacamole
It might not look it, but that creamy, green dip from the supermarket refrigerator case has been crushed by the equivalent of a stack of twenty minivans. High-pressure processing was developed by the Natick Center with a consortium of university and industry contractors in the 1990s. It’s now not only used for rations and your guac, but for fresh-squeezed juices, sauces, preservative-free deli meats and heat-and-serve entrees.
8. Room-temperature Sof Tortillas
Seem odd that that package of soft tortillas can be left indefinitely in the cupboard? Thanks to hurdle technology, a discovery by a scientist working for the German army, room temperature foods can be preserved with a number of mild barriers to microbial growth instead of a single large dose of chemicals. The Natick Center quickly adapted the technique, first using in its famous poundcake and then moving onto more complex items, such as the three-year, shelf-stable sandwich. Coming up next: pizza!
Consumers never cottoned up to the army’s largest, longest-running, and most expensive food research program, radiation sterilization. After hundreds of employees, four decades, and $80 million, the only items in our supermarkets routinely zapped with ionizing radiation are herbs and spices, which can harbor deadly pathogens, especially when imported from abroad.
10. Plastic Coolers
Your beach brews are kept icy cold by a 1950’s Natick Center project to develop cellular polymers, foamed plastics, as building materials. The rigid, strong, and lightweight stuff was quickly incorporated into other uses, including refrigerated containers and insulated food coolers.
Anastacia Marx de Salcedois a food writer whose work has appeared in Salon, Slate, the Boston Globe, and Gourmet magazine and on PBS and NPR blogs. She’s worked as a public health consultant, news magazine publisher, and public policy researcher. She lives in Boston, MA. Visit AnastaciaMarxdeSalcedo.com.
Marine drill instructors go through some intense training to earn the military occupational specialty of 0911. With various tasks they have to complete on a daily basis, DIs have to be mentally and physically stronger than of those they train — consistently being on top of their game at all times and never letting anyone spot their flaws or weaknesses.
Despite what is typically a male-dominated world, no doubt these powerful female television characters could make badass drill instructors if they wanted to.
Played by Mariska Hargitay, this strong female lead has the ability to look deep into your soul and break you down from the inside out — a natural talent that can’t be taught.
2. Catherine Willows (C.S.I)
Played by Marg Helgenberger, this super smart detective takes pride in her ability to take down the bad guys with her attention to detail and exceptional investigative skills. Her focus on the most minute details would be perfect for finding flaws in someone’s uniform on inspection day.
3. Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer)
Played by Kyra Sedgwick, this determined leader of the major crimes division of the LAPD has no issue offending her peers to get the job done — a perfect trait for a DI.
4. Jane Tennison (Prime Suspect)
Played by Helen Mirren, this brilliant sleuth is one the first female chief inspectors of London’s Metro Police Service who looks to drive herself up in the rank structure. She’s highly moto!
5. Lydia Adams (Southland)
Played by Regina King, after years of working in some intense police situations, Adams’ passion for justice and her strong personality would have landed her in the right spot to scream at recruits to cover down and get in-line.
6. Jane Rizzoli (Rizzoli Isles)
Played by Angie Harmon, a homicide detective who is known for her raspy voice and quick decision-making skills, Rizzoli would be perfect for playing f*ck-f*ck games with future Marines.
She even knows proper trigger-finger placement before she’s prepared to fire. Outstanding! (Source: TNT )
7. Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn 9-9)
Played by Stephanie Beatriz, this detective is known for her stoic attitude and hard-hitting nature. Her strong physical stature allows her to bring down the hardened criminals in the rough streets of Brooklyn, making her a perfect candidate to shape up those recruits that will stand on the famous yellow footprints of MCRD.
Military barracks are just like college dorms, except with more booze and asbestos.
Ok, maybe not the asbestos part (as far as you know). The military has come a long way from Quonset huts and open-space squad-bays that housed an entire unit. Barracks life has improved considerably for troops in recent years, as many troops now enjoy new furniture, keycard entry, and no more than two people to a room.
But regardless of barracks amenities, they can’t really compete with married personnel living in homes on base, or being able to live off-base in an apartment. Still, some troops try to make their rooms way better than everyone else. This is how you know you’re probably one of them.
1. You have a 60″ television set that is four feet away from your face when you watch it.
How can you watch the games on Sunday with anything less? And besides, there is all this money in your bank account from last deployment. What do you think, you’re going to save it!? The key to a great barracks room is having a ridiculously-large TV, lots of DVDs and Blu-Rays, a Playstation 4, and gaming chairs.
2. You have a full kitchen hidden in your desk or wall locker.
No need to get dressed and head to the mess hall for that meatloaf dinner. You have everything you need right here, to include a rice cooker, hot plate, microwave, mini-oven and a skillet*. That drawer over there? That’s where I keep all my spices to go on my Ramen noodles. (*Please don’t burn down the entire barracks. Your first sergeant will be upset).
3. Your fridge is filled with beer. (Extra points if you have a kegerator hidden somewhere.)
Most barracks have rules regarding alcohol. E-3 and below are usually allowed only a six-pack, while E-4 and above can have 12. But rules are meant to be broken, right lance corporal?** No one can have a proper night of fun with just six-pack, and besides, you stocked up on 30-packs because you only wanted to make one trip to the 7-day store. You are actually being responsible by cutting down on your carbon footprint. (**Rules are meant to be followed, according to your squad leader.)
4. You own a 1600-watt stereo system that looks like it was stolen from a Rage Against the Machine concert.
You take your music seriously. While a barracks amateur may get something that could play tunes at a reasonable volume and can fill the room quite nicely, you need to invest in a top-of-the-line stereo system. It probably cost at least a grand, pumps out 1600-watts of sound that rattles the entire barracks, and has the “bass boost” function. Does your clock/radio have that? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
5. You have a hot tub.
If you have this, you have completely won the barracks life. We salute you.
Today’s most sophisticated aircraft are the things of science fiction.
In a few years, drones that can fit in the palm of a person’s hand and 117-foot-wingspan planes that can launch satellites will both be a reality.
At the same time, drone and advanced-fighter technologies will spread beyond the US and Europe, and countries including China, Russia, and Iran may have highly advanced aerial capabilities.
Here’s our look at the most game-changing aircraft of the past few years — and the next few to come.
F-35 Lightning II
The F-35 may cost as much as $1.5 trillionover its lifetime. But it’s also supposed to be the most fearsome military aircraft ever built, a plane that can dogfight, provide close air support, and carry out bombing runs, all with stealth capabilities, advanced maneuverability, and the ability to take off and land on aircraft carriers.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way so far, and problems with everything from the plane’s software system to its engines has both delayed its deployment and made its costs spiral upward. And it isn’t nearly as effective at close air support as existing platforms such as the A-10.
The predecessor to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is the single-seat, twin-engine F-22 Raptor, currently the world’s most advanced combat-ready jet.
The US is the sole operator of the F-22 thanks to a federal law that prohibits the jet from being exported. Lockheed Martin built 195 of the planes before the last one was delivered to the US Air Force in May 2012.
Russia’s Su-50, also known under the prototype name of the T-50 PAK-FA, is the Kremlin’s fifth-generation fighter and its response to the F-35.
Though still at the prototype stage, Moscow thinks the Su-50 will ultimately be able tooutperform the F-35 on key metrics such as speed and maneuverability. The stealth capabilities of the Su-50, however, are believed to be below those of both the F-22 and F-35.
The Kremlin plans to introduce the Su-50 into service by 2016. Once the plane is combat-ready, it will serve as a base model for the construction of further variants intended for export. India is already codesigning an Su-50 variant with Russia, and Iran and South Korea are possible candidates to buy future models of the plane.
The Chengdu J-20 is China’s second fifth-generation fighter in development and a potential game-changer in East Asia.
The J-20 bears striking resemblance to the F-35 because of Chinese reverse-engineering and extensive theft of F-35 data. Once completed, the J-20 is assumed to have stealth capability along with the range needed to reach targets within Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam from mainland China.
As of January, Beijing had developed six functional prototypes of the aircraft, with new prototypes being released at an increasingly quick pace. The final iteration of the aircraft is expected to be released and combat-ready sometime around 2018.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine multirole fighter that was originally developed to be the primary combat aircraft of Europe and NATO.
The Typhoon is Europe’s largest military program and was founded by four core nations: Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK.
In 2011 the Eurofighter was deployed to its first combat mission, to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya during the NATO bombing campaign in the country. There are 402 Eurofighter jets designed for the Austrian, Italian, German, Spanish, UK, Omani, and Saudi Air Forces.
The Eurofighter has been called Europe’s version of America’s most expensive weapons system, the F-35 Lightning II.
MH-X Silent Hawk
The military’s secret MH-X Silent Hawk program was publicly disclosed only after one of the helicopters crashed during the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011.
It is unclear when the US Army Operations Security’s top-secret helicopter program began and how many of these stealthy aircraft are in service.
While the Silent Hawk appears to be a highly modified version of the widely known UH-60 Black Hawk, there are no unclassified details about this secret helicopter.
The Navy’s X-47B is a strike-fighter-size unmanned aircraft with the potential to change aerial warfare.
Northrop Grumman’s drone is capable of aerial refueling, 360-degree rolls, and offensive weapons deployment. It carried out the first autonomous aerial refueling in aviation history and has taken off from and landed on an aircraft carrier.
It cruises at half the speed of sound and has a wingspan of 62 feet — as well as a range of at least 2,400 miles, more than twice that of the Reaper drone.
The Stratolaunch will be one of the most astounding planes ever built.
Now in its development stage, the plane will serve as a midair launch platform capable of carrying satellites into orbit. The aircraft, whose 117-foot wingspan will be the largest of any plane ever built, will fly to an altitude of 30,000 feet and then angle upward before blasting its payload into space.
The plane would be a relatively cheap and reusable launch vehicle for satellites and would revolutionize how hardware and possibly even human beings can access orbital space. It could fly as early as 2016.
Here’s a video of how it’ll all work:
The Air Force’s secretive space drone returned from a two-year mission in October. It wasn’t clear exactly what the X-37B was doing up there, but it wasrelaunched on May 20 for another extended stint in orbit.
With the X-37B, the Air Force has a reusable satellite that it can control and call back to earth. The ability to re-equip an orbital platform for specific mission types gives the US military unprecedented flexibility in how it can use outer space — and its long periods in orbit and reusability are impressive engineering feats.
These tiny Darpa-developed surveillance drones could become future military staples. Small enough to evade enemy detection or fire, the Nano Hummingbird can fit in the palm of your hand and relay images and intelligence from the air.
Most surveillance drones, such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk, are large aircraft that fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet. Aircraft such as the Nano Hummingbird, which is light, stealthy, and easy to launch, could be a routine part of a future combat soldier’s arsenal.
Watch it in action here:
Iran has been under sanctions and a Western arms embargo for much of the past 30 years, something that has denied Tehran the chance to obtain high-quality European or American arms. That’s about to change, with the signing of a nuclear agreement that will lift all international arms import limitations within the next decade.
Iran’s drones aren’t game changers because of their high quality but because of what they represent: Even countries chafing under international pressure can develop their own drone technology with enough patience and technological expertise. The Fotros and Ababil-3 suggest that an era of widespread drone proliferation is just around the corner.
Russian military inventions tend toward the brutally practical: tanks, planes, and guns that are cheap and easy to produce. But they were also known for experimenting with wacky, expensive concepts. Here are some of their crazier inventions:
The many celebrities who were in the military are those who signed up to make the ultimate sacrifice for their countries. Through the years, many famous people have served in the military. While some were drafted, others enlisted voluntarily, and some even joined up multiple times. Many actors from the golden era of Hollywood served during World War II. The Vietnam War was also a popular era for actors who were in the military.
Many famous military veterans went on to have illustrious careers in the entertainment industry. The Good, the Bad and the Uglyactor Clint Eastwood served in the US Army during the Korean War and almost died when he was involved in a plane crash. The plane landed in the ocean near Fort Ord, CA, and Eastwood was able to swim to safety. Some 40 years later, he won his first Oscar for directing Unforgiven. Other prolific actors who have served in the military include Paul Newman, Morgan Freeman, and Chuck Norris.
Some surprising celebs also served in the military, including musicians and rocks stars. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia joined the US Army, but left the military 9 months later to study at the Art Institute of San Francisco. Other surprising military men include Tool front man Maynard James Keenan, comedian Drew Carey, and rapper Ice-T.
Do you think that serving in the military gave these famous people the discipline they needed to succeed in their careers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a sweet moment for everyone in the military. Stateside troops have come home for momma’s cooking and haven’t worn out their welcome yet and even deployed troops shift down into first gear.
But then there’re the troops still on the installation who, for whatever reason, are saving their leave days will enjoy what is, essentially, a free week off. As with everything in the military, your personal experiences may differ, but these are the six joys we’ve experienced of being a lower enlisted not on holiday block leave.
6. There isn’t much to do
The military never fully stops, but when there’s not much to do, well… Troops don’t end up doing much of the burdensome busywork they’re used to doing. You can’t get into the motor pool because everyone with the key is gone. You can’t go to the field or do some training exercise because no one is around to lead it. You’ll probably just lounge around the company area until CoB.
As long as there’re no incidents, troops will probably be cut loose early.
Hate the lines getting on- and off-post? Hate the lines getting whatever’s discounted at the Exchange? Can’t stand that one prick in your unit? Not this week! This week, it’s basically just you and a handful of others!
Of course, you’ll be given something to do. For example, you’ll probably sweep and mop the barracks, but unlike every other time you clean it and the unit comes back from the field or someone throws a raging barracks party, it stays clean. Chances are, the last person who walked it was you, when you cleaned it.
What waiting for everyone to come back feels like… (Image via GIPHY)
4. Sure, staff duty…
Holiday staff duty ranks up there with watching that prick you hate in your unit get promoted higher than you, getting your nearly-immaculate rifle kicked back for the seventh time by the armorer, and taking a Combatives class with that roided-out monster of a Staff Sergeant who’s ready to knock you out.
This week, though, it’s nothing. There’s no paperwork to file. Rarely do you need to call “Attention/At Ease” for a ranking officer/NCO because they probably won’t even come by. The duty officer probably won’t care if you bring a TV or computer to play video games — ask them before assuming you can, obviously.
This could be you at hour 16 of staff duty. (Image via GIPHY)
3. Your superiors become more ‘human’
51 weeks out of the year, your superior is — and should be — on your ass. Nothing personal, it just comes with the territory.
If they stay behind for block leave as well, you’ll see an entirely different side of them. They become human again. There’s just no need to keep up the “hard-ass” act constantly. Even they need to relax and enjoy the holidays doing nothing.
If you’re a cook, that is. Your work schedule probably hasn’t changed, except now you can practice all of the fun recipes you’ve been meaning to whip up.
If you’re not a cook, eating their awesome, new recipes prepared alongside the higher-quality holiday chow without the long lines keeping you from eating more than two pieces of bacon… Chow halls really do become the morale-boosting, five-star restaurants the cooks think they are.
Eat up. Chances are you’re also not doing unit PT. (Image via GIPHY)
1. Still get holiday four days
But what if you want to just relax and do nothing? Well, the back-to-back, four-day weekends got you covered. Sham for three days; four days off. Sham for another three days; another four days off. If you’re so inclined to go home for momma’s home-cooked meal, just fly home for the weekend and come back to post before Wednesday.
Save the 14 days of leave for two weeks when your unit is busy doing things.
Seriously. Don’t waste your leave days. (Image via GIPHY)
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 marked the end of the World War II, and the beginning of the age of nuclear weapons.
During the Cold War, the policy of mutually assured destruction between the US and the Soviet Union — appropriately referred to as “MAD” — meant that if one nation used nuclear weapons on another, then an equal response would have been doled out as soon as possible.
Over the course of the Cold War, and several times after it, the citizens of the world were forced to hold their breath as the superpowers came close to nuclear war.
Here are nine times the world was at the brink of nuclear war — but pulled back:
1. October 5, 1960 – The moon is mistaken for missiles
Early warning radar quickly became one of the most important tools in the nuclear age. American radar stations were built all around the world with the hope that they would detect incoming Soviet missiles, warning the homeland of a strike and allowing for the president to form a response.
On October 5, 1960, one such warning was issued from a newly constructed early warning radar station in Thule, Greenland (now called Qaanaaq). Dozens of missiles were reportedly detected, and at one point were said to reach the US in 20 minutes.
A panic ensued at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) HQ in Colorado, and NORAD was placed on its highest alert level.
The panic was put to rest when it was realized that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was visiting New York at the time. A later investigation found that the radar had mistaken the moon rising over Norway as Soviet missiles.
2. November 24, 1961 – A single switch causes a mechanical failure
Just over a year later, Strategic Air Command (SAC) HQ in Omaha, Nebraska lost contact with the Thule radar station. SAC officials then tried to contact NORAD HQ in Colorado, but the line was reportedly dead.
It was determined before that the probability that both Thule and NORAD’s communications would shut down due to technical malfunction was very low, making SAC believe that an attack was underway.
SAC’s entire alert force was ordered to prepare for takeoff, but crisis was averted when a US bomber managed to make contact with Thule and confirm no attack was underway.
It was later discovered that a single malfunctioning switch managed to shut down all communications, even emergency hotlines, between SAC, Thule, and NORAD.
3. October 25, 1962 – A bear almost turns the Cuban Missile Crisis hot
The Cuban Missile Crisis is perhaps the closest the world has ever come to global nuclear war. Four instances over the 13-day event stand out in particular, the first one happening on October 25, 1962.
Tensions were already high during the crisis, and the US military was placed on DEFCON 3, two steps away from nuclear war.
Just after midnight on October 25, a guard at the Duluth Sector Direction Center in Minnesota saw a figure attempting to climb the fence around the facility. The guard, worried that the figure was a Soviet saboteur, shot at the figure and activated the sabotage alarm.
This triggered air raid alarms to go off at all air bases in the area. Pilots at Volk Field in neighboring Wisconsin to panic, since they knew that no tests or practices would happen while the military was on DEFCON 3.
The pilots were ordered to their nuclear armed F-106A interceptors, and were taxiing down the runway when it was determined the alarm was false. They were stopped by a car that had raced to the airfield to tell the pilots to stop.
The intruder turned out to be a bear.
4. October 27, 1962 – A Soviet sub almost launches a nuclear torpedo
Two of the instances actually occurred on the same day — October 27, 1962, arguably the most dangerous day in history.
On the morning of October 27, a U-2F reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by the Soviets while over Cuba, killing its pilot, causing tensions to escalate to their highest point.
Later, a Soviet submarine, the B-59, was detected trying to break the blockade that the US Navy had established around Cuba. The destroyer USS Beale dropped practice depth charges in an attempt to make the submarine surface.
The captain of the B-59, Valentin Savitsky, thought the submarine was under attack and ordered to prepare the submarine’s nuclear torpedo to be launched at the aircraft carrier USS Randolf.
All three senior officers aboard the B-59 had to agree to the launch before it happened. Fortunately, the B-59’s second in command, Vasili Arkhipov, disagreed with his other two counterparts, and convinced the captain to surface and await orders from Moscow.
5. October 27, 1962 – The US Air Force sends out nuclear armed fighters
On the very same day, US Air Force pilots almost caused WW III to break out over the Bering Sea, the body of water between Alaska and Russia.
A US Air Force U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was en route to the North Pole for an air sampling mission. The spy plan accidentally crossed into Soviet airspace and lost track of its location, spending 90 minutes in the area before turning East to leave.
As it did so, at least six MiG fighter jets were sent to shoot down the U-2 while it was trespassing. Strategic Air Command, worried about the prospect of losing another U-2, sent F-102 Delta Daggers armed with nuclear Falcon air-to-air missiles.
Upon learning of the situation, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reportedly yelled “this means war with the Soviet Union!” President John F. Kennedy reportedly said that “there’s always some son of a b—- that doesn’t get the word.”
Luckily, the F-102s never encountered the MiGs, and escorted the U-2 back to Alaska.
6. October 28, 1962 – Radar operators get confused over an unknown satellite
One day after those events, radar operators in Moorestown, New Jersey reported to NORAD HQ just before 9:00 AM that Soviet nuclear missiles were on their way, and were expected to strike at exactly 9:02 near Tampa, Florida.
All of NORAD was immediately alerted and scrambled to respond, but the time passed without any detonations, causing NORAD to delay any actions.
It was later discovered that the Moorestown radar operators were confused because the facility was running a test tape that simulated a missile launch from Cuba when a satellite unexpectedly appeared over the horizon.
Additional radars were not operating at the time, and the Moorestown operators were not informed that the satelite was inbound because the facility that handled such operations was on other work related to the situation in Cuba.
7. November 9, 1979 – A training drill almost turns real
At 3:00 AM on November 9, 1979, computers at NORAD HQ lit up with warnings that thousands of nuclear missiles had been launched from Soviet submarines and were headed for the US.
SAC was alerted immediately and US missile crews were on the highest alert level possible, and nuclear bombers were preparing for takeoff.
The National Emergency Airborne Command Post, the airplane that is supposed to carry the president during a nuclear attack to ensure his command over the nuclear arsenal even took off, though without President Jimmy Carter on board.
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski knew that the president’s decision making time was somewhere between three to seven minutes, and so decided to hold off telling Carter in order to be absolutely sure there was a real threat.
Six minutes of extreme worry passed, and satellites confirmed that no attack was taking place. It was later discovered that a technician had accidentally inserted a training tape simulating such a scenario into one of the computers.
Marshall Shulman, then a senior US State Department adviser, reportedly said in a now-declassified letter that was designated Top Secret that “false alerts of this kind are not a rare occurrence. There is a complacency about handling them that disturbs me.”
8. September 26, 1983 – A Soviet colonel makes the biggest gamble in history
Just after midnight on September 26, 1983, Soviet satellite operators at the Serpukhov-15 bunker just south of Moscow got a warning that a US Minuteman nuclear missile had been launched. Later, four more missiles were detected.
Tensions between the US and Soviet Union were strained earlier in the month, when the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Sakhalin Island, killing all 269 people on board — including US Congressman Larry McDonald.
The commanding officer at the bunker, Stanislav Petrov, was to inform his superiors of the launches, so an appropriate response could be made. Soviet policy back then called for an all-out retaliatory strike.
Knowing this, Petrov decided not to inform his superiors. “All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan,” he recalled of the incident.
He reasoned that if the US were to strike the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, they would send hundreds of missiles, not just five.
But Petrov had no way of knowing if he was right until enough time had passed, by which time nuclear bombs could have hit their targets, arguably making his decision the biggest gamble in human history.
After 23 minutes, Petrov’s theory that it was a false alarm was confirmed. It was later discovered that a Soviet sattelite had mistaken sunlight reflecting off the top of clouds as missiles.
9. January 25, 1995 – Nuclear worries remain after the Soviet Union
Four years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, almost started a nuclear war.
Russian early warning radar detected a launch of a missile with similar characteristics to a submarine-launched Trident missile off the coast of Norway.
The detected missile was actually a Norwegian Black Brant scientific rocket which was on a mission to study the aurora borealis. Norwegian authorities had informed the Kremlin of the launch, but the radar operators were not informed.
Yeltsin was given the Cheget, Russia’s version of the nuclear briefcase (sometimes known as the Football), and the launch codes for Russia’s missile arsenal. Russia’s submarines were also placed on alert.
Fortunately, Yeltsin’s belief that it was a false alarm proved correct, and Russian satellites confirmed that there was no activity from US missile sites.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Thousands of whiteboards owned by inventors and military contractors around the world contain designs for military technologies that could change the way that battles are fought if they’d ever see active service.
But as the U.S. military learns time and time again, these weapons don’t always work as well as hoped. Here are seven designs that would be awesome to fly, ride, or carry into battle if designers had just been able to work the kinks out:
But high costs and weight problems kept the weapon from reaching its potential.
When the XM29 was canceled, its airburst grenade technology was split off as its own weapon with 25mm rounds in the XM25. The new weapon even saw combat tests in Afghanistan, but a malfunction that resulted in injury in 2013 caused the grenade launcher to be pulled from theater.
Would’ve been nice to fire airburst rounds though.
The Comanche was supposed to be the attack/reconnaissance helicopter to rule them all. It was quiet, featured incorporated stealth technologies, and carried a 20mm machine gun and Hellfire and Stinger missiles.
And their high maneuverability would have allowed them to fly through cities and hover near buildings.
Unfortunately, the militarization of the 407 was not as smooth as anticipated. Delays and cost overruns got the program put on ice for a few months in 2007 and formally canceled in 2008.
5. Airborne Laser
The Airborne Laser was supposed to be the ultimate ballistic missile destroyer. It would fly over or near enemy territory watching for enemy ballistic missile launches. When one took off and entered the boost phase, the plane would fire three lasers. Two were for acquiring and tracking the target and the third would punch through the missile’s body and blow it up.
But the laser had a limited range and loitering capability, meaning that planes would have to spend a lot of their time flying within an enemies’ borders to actually have a shot at the missiles. Luckily, this program could get revived using a new kind of laser and flying on high-altitude, stealthy drones.
6. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle
The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle provided better range, better speed, and better armor than the AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle it was meant to replace. It featured two 30mm cannons and was propelled through water with jets and it operated on land using its treads.
The EFV suffered some small setbacks during testing and development and then fell victim to budget cuts across the Department of Defense in 2011. The Marine Corps has wrestled with how to best move supplies and Marines from the ships to the shore since then.
The Surfaced-Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile would have been the Army’s premiere system for defending troops from cruise missiles, helicopters, many jets, and other low and mid-altitude aerial threats. It featured a proven Air Force missile, the AIM-120C-7, originally designed for air-to-air battles.
Norway and Spain field the SL-AMRAAM under the name NASAMS, but the U.S. Army pulled out of the program in an effort to save money and invest in counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar systems instead. Some NASAMS are in U.S. service defending Washington D.C. from cruise missile attack.