Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is back on the ground after completing its latest record-breaking unmanned mission in space.

The experimental, clandestine space plane landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 27, 2019, after more than two years in orbit, the service said in a release. This was the X-37B’s fifth space mission. Its last orbit ended in May 2017 after 718 days in space.

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between government and industry,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”


This was the second time the X-37B landed has landed at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. It took off for its fifth mission on Sept. 7, 2017.

While its pay loads and most of its activities are classified, the Air Force said at the time that the mission would carry “the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-II) payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment.”

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 5 successfully landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility Oct. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The space plane “conducted on-orbit experiments for 780 days during its mission, recently breaking its own record by being in orbit for more than two years,” the release said. That brings the total number of days spent on-orbit for the X-37B to 2,865, officials said.

The last two missions have pushed the boundaries for a test vehicle, originally designed to spend up to 270 days circling the Earth.

What the X-37B does is literally a matter of rocket science. According to the service, the X-37B is exploring the practicalities and risks of “reusable space vehicle technologies” while also experimenting with space technology.

Under the purview of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the test vehicle can autonomously reenter the atmosphere and eventually land horizontally on a flight line.

“This program continues to push the envelope as the world’s only reusable space vehicle,” said Randy Walden, director of the Rapid Capabilities Office.

“With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives. This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites,” Walden said Sunday.

In July 2019, the service’s former top civilian gave a glimpse into the space plane’s mission.

Air Force X-37B spaceplane successfully returns to earth after 780-day mission

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Speaking about space awareness and deterrence at the Aspen Security Forum, Heather Wilson described the vehicle as a “small version of the [NASA space] shuttle.”

It “can do an orbit that looks like an egg and, when it’s close to the Earth, it’s close enough to the atmosphere to turn where it is,” she said at the time.

“Which means our adversaries don’t know — and that happens on the far side of the Earth from our adversaries — where it’s going to come up next. And we know that that drives them nuts. And I’m really glad about that,” she added.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Military.com that Wilson’s comments on its movement may shed light on “a previously secret orbit-related capability,” and explained that the aircraft’s movement likely throws an adversary off, even if just for a short time.

“The dip into the atmosphere causes a change in the timing of when it next comes overhead. So [trackers’] predictions are off, and [they] have to search for it all over again,” McDowell said at the time.

The Air Force is preparing to launch the sixth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in 2020.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Lists

4 epic rivalries between military commanders once on the same side

Throughout military history, it was common for generals to only know of each other by reputation or by the deeds of their troops.


But when lines are drawn, ideologies change, and another war is fought for another reason, you may find yourself fighting against your former allies and those old interpersonal rivalries can get ugly fast. It takes a darker turn when both sides of that rivalry have an army ready to kill and die at their command.

Let’s take a look at some of history’s greatest rivalries between former brothers-in-arms.

1. George Washington and Benedict Arnold — Revolutionary War

One man would later be known as the “Father of America” while the other would become synonymous “traitor.” Both Washington and Arnold were heroes of the American Revolution early on and fought many battles together.

This was until Arnold switched allegiances back to the crown. His reasons for turning his back on America are still debated by historians, but the accepted reasons include money, disillusionment, and personal vendettas against the Continental Congress.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission
Their relationship is spot-on in AMC’s show, Turn (Image via AMC)

2. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee — Siege of Veracruz

Both Generals would earn historical prestige leading their respective armies against each other during the American Civil War, but they weren’t always enemies. In fact, at the beginning of the Civil War, Lee was offered command of the U.S. Army before resigning his commission. Eight days later, he accepted command of Confederate troops in Virginia.

Back in the Mexican-American War, however, both men fought side-by-side as then-Lieutenant Colonel Lee led troops in Scott’s March on Mexico City with a young then-First Lieutenant Grant. Both Lee and Grant marched under the command of then-General Zachary Taylor. In fact, the Siege of Veracruz was full of names that would eventually become essential pieces of the Civil War, including future Generals Meade, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Longstreet.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission
Appomattox, where two old friends caught up over a nice surrendering. (Image via Fine Art America)

3. Charles de Gaulle and Phillipe Petain — Battle of Verdun

Petain rose in rank to eventually become Marshal of France and, later, Prime Minister of the Nazi puppet state, Vichy France. He took strong and direct opposition to Charles de Gaulle’s revolutionary Free France. After the fall of the Nazi Regime, Petain was spared the gallows because of his actions as “The Lion of Verdun” and hero of France. France’s new leader, Charles de Gaulle, refused to execute the disgraced former-Marshal.

Petain’s military mind helped save France in WWI at the Battle of Verdun. One of the most heroic battles and early turning point of Verdun took place when the Germans were contained at Douaumont and surrounded by 90,000 men and 21,000 tons of ammunition. There stood de Gaulle, the then-Captain in the French 33rd Infantry Regiment, leading Petain’s charge. Charles de Gaulle was wounded and captured in that battle.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission
Like every stereotypical Frenchman, these military minds both sported stylish mustaches. (Image via Les Observateurs)

4. Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek — Second Sino-Japanese War

While Mao Zedong is etched in history as the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, his main rival was Chiang Kai-shek, the Chairman of the National Government of China (or, as it’s more commonly known in America, Taiwan). To briefly summarize a long, storied conflict, both of these nations claim to be China. As the Communist Revolution swept over the mainland during the Chinese Civil War, the capitalists fled to Formosa (the island of Taiwan), but neither ceded statehood.

Just like the nations they led, Mao and Chiang have a history that oscillates between cooperation and opposition. First, they supported each other during the Northern Expedition. Then, they went at each other’s throats during the Chinese Civil War. Then, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when Axis-aligned Japan invaded a Soviet- and American-backed China, they allied again.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch what happens when a missile misfires on a German frigate

A missile malfunction aboard German navy frigate FGS Sachsen on June 21, 2018 scorched the ship’s deck and injured two sailors.

The Sachsen, an air-defense frigate, was sailing with sub-hunting frigate Lubeck in a test and practice area near the Arctic Circle in Norwegian waters, according to the German navy.


The Sachsen attempted to fire a Standard Missile 2, or SM-2, from the vertical launch system located in front of the ship’s bridge. The missile did not make it out of the launcher, however, and its rocket burned down while still on board the ship, damaging the deck and injuring two crew members.

“We were standing in front of a glistening and glowing hot wall of fire,” the ship’s captain, Thomas Hacken, said in a German navy release.

Sachsen class frigates are outfitted with 32 Mark 41 vertical launch tubes built into the forward section of the ship. Each SM-2 is about 15 feet long and weighs over 1,500 pounds.

It was not immediately clear why the missile malfunctioned; it had been checked and appeared in “perfect condition,” the German navy said. Another of the same type of missile had been successfully launched beforehand.

While the ship’s deck and bridge were damaged, the effects were likely limited by the design of the Mark 41 launcher, which is armored, according to Popular Mechanics.

The two ships sailed into the Norwegian port of Harstad on June 22, 2018, before returning to their homeport in the German city of Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Damage on the vertical launch system aboard the German navy frigate Sachsen, June 2018.

(Photo by German Navy)

“We have to practice realistically, so that we are ready for action in case of emergency, also for the national and alliance defense,” Vice Adm. Andreas Krause, navy inspector, said in the release. Despite the risks, Krause said, “our crews are highly motivated and ready to do their best.”

Germany’s military has hit a number of setbacks in recent years, like equipment shortages and failures. Dwindling military expertise and a lack of strategic direction for the armed forces have contributed to these problems.

The navy has been no exception. The first Baden-Württemberg frigate, a program thought up in 2005, was delivered in 2016, but the navy has refused to commission it, largely because the centerpiece computer system didn’t pass necessary tests.

At the end of 2017, it was reported that all six of the German navy’s submarines were out of action— four because they were being serviced in shipyards with the other two waiting for berths.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US will pay countries not to buy arms from Russia

It was a program designed by the State Department to help the former Warsaw Pact countries break away from dependence on the Russian economy – the United States would straight up pay the newly liberated former Soviet Union allies to buy American-made weapons instead of buying them from their former patron.


That program is back, and the United States is expanding it.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

A Russian-built Hind helicopter in the Macedonian Air Force

It’s called the European Recapitalization Incentive Program and Eastern Europe is signing on for arms made in the good ol’ US of A. But the U.S. isn’t stopping at limiting Russian influence through arms sales, the American government is using the program to limit arms sales from China too. It’s a function of the State Department working hand-in-hand with the Pentagon in an effort to project American economic power and military goodwill.

“The goal is to help our partners break away from the Russian supply chain [and] logistics chain that allows Russian contractors and service personnel, and Russian-manufactured spare parts onto either NATO allied bases or partner military bases,” a State Department official told Defense One.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

A Russian-built T-72 tank in the Slovakian Army.

The countries signing on to the revitalized program can’t just promise not to buy Russian or Chinese weapons from now on. They will also need to get rid of their old ones as well as purchase new American replacements. So instead of gifting these countries a hodgepodge of military arms or vehicles, the countries can invest in American military power while getting rid of old systems and updating their military capabilities. Some of the partner countries are still using Soviet-built weapons.

In the past year, the U.S. State Department has signed on six former Soviet Bloc countries to the program to the tune of 0 million, including Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, and Slovakia. The program will even bring these countries up to NATO standards in many areas. If successful, the U.S. will expand the program beyond Eastern Europe to help other countries break free of Chinese and Russian dependence.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is spying on the South China Sea like never before

China is fielding a far-reaching reconnaissance system reliant on drones to strengthen its ability to conduct surveillance operations in hard-to-reach areas of the South China Sea, the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a report Sept. 10, 2019.

The system, which relies on drones connected to mobile and fixed command-and-control centers by way of a maritime information and communication network, stands to boost Chinese information, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities over what was previously provided by satellites and regional monitoring stations.

The highly maneuverable drones can purportedly provide high-definition images and videos in real time they fly below the clouds, which have, at times, hindered China’s satellite surveillance efforts.


“It is like giving the dynamic surveillance in the South China Sea an ‘all-seeing eye,'” the MNR’s South China Sea Bureau explained. “The surveillance ability has reached a new level.”

The bureau added that the application of the new surveillance system “has greatly enhanced the dynamic monitoring of the South China Sea and extended the surveillance capability of the South China Sea to the high seas.”

The system is currently being used for marine management services, the MNR said vaguely. While the MNR report does not mention a military application, the ministry has been known to work closely with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, and there are certain strategic advantages to increased maritime domain awareness.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Sailors of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea, a contested waterway also claimed by a number of countries in the region that have, in some cases with the support of the US and others outside the region, pushed back on Chinese assertions of sovereignty.

China has built outposts across the area and fielded various weapons systems to strengthen its position. At the same time, it has bolstered its surveillance capabilities.

“The drones have obvious use to improve awareness both of what is on the sea and what is in the air,” Peter Dutton, a retired US Navy officer and a professor at the US Naval War College, wrote on Twitter.

Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained that Chinese surveillance upgrades could help China should it decide to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone in the region, something Dutton suggested as well.

China is also developing the Hainan satellite constellation, which will be able to provide real-time monitoring of the South China Sea with the help of two hyperspectral satellites, two radar satellites, and six optical satellites. The constellation should be completed in two years, according to the South China Morning Post.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘South Park’ takes on Chinese government after China banned the show

“South Park” fired back at China during the 300th episode after the country banned the long-running Comedy Central animated series.

In the episode, titled “SHOTS!!!,” Towelie forces Randy Marsh to declare “F— the Chinese government.” Marsh is reluctant at first since he’s been selling marijuana in the country.

Last week’s episode, called “Band in China,” mocked Chinese censorship and Hollywood’s reliance on the country’s box office to boost potential blockbusters. It referenced China’s crackdown on Winnie the Pooh, which has become a symbol of resistance against China’s ruling Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping.


China retaliated by shutting down “South Park” discussion forums and removing clips and episodes of the show from its internet, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

“South Park” season 23, episode 2, “Band in China”

(Comedy Central)

“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker issued a mock apology to China on Oct. 7, 2019, saying “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all.”

The statement mocked the NBA’s apology to China after the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted on Oct. 4, 2019, (and then deleted) an image with the slogan “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters.

“Band in China” was projected onto screens throughout Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po district on Oct. 8, 2019, according THR.

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

Military Life

This is what is actually inside the top of the flag pole

Hopeful NCOs at leadership schools or promotion boards are asked a two-part question: The first part is, “how many trucks are there on the military installation?” The answer is, ‘one.’


‘Truck’ is the term for the finial — or ball — on top of the base headquarters’ flagpole. It’s kind of a trick question because every other ‘truck’ is either a military or privately-owned vehicle. The second part of the question is, “What’s inside the truck?”

The answer the Sergeant Major and First Sergeants are looking for is, “a razor, a match, and a bullet.” Occasionally, it’s also said to contain a grain of rice or penny — it depends who’s asking. The actual answer, and one they probably won’t accept, is “absolutely nothing.”

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission
With all the flag poles that have been installed, not one troop has opened the truck and taken a picture. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Limon)

The items that are supposedly inside the truck are to be used in the case of an enemy invasion. If the enemy overwhelms the base, it’s up to the last survivor to climb the 50-to-75-foot pole, unscrew the truck, strip the flag with the razor, give it a proper retirement with the match, eat the grain of rice for strength, and blind the enemy with the penny. The survivor then digs up the pistol buried six paces away from the base of the pole.

What the survivor is supposed to do then is up for speculation. If you don’t use the gunpowder for kindling, the most universally accepted use of it is for the survivor to turn the pistol on themselves in a last-ditch, you’ll-never-take-me-alive act.

Here’s the thing, though. The military is very particular about the order of precedence when it comes to the Stars and Stripes. No flag can fly higher than the American flag. There are two exceptions to this rule: “Death’s flag,” or the flag that is raised, in spirit, above the actual flag when it’s at half mast (but is actually nothing) and a chaplain’s pennant (which is a pennant, not a flag).

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Placing a chaplain’s pennant higher than the American flag is to say that the only thing higher than country is God. The fact that some claim we’d put a bullet in the finial above even the chaplain’s pennant is a dead giveaway that this myth is BS.

The final nail in the coffin on this myth is the fact that there’s no regulation set by the Department of Defense, by any branch, or by any military installation. As widespread as this belief may be, there simply isn’t any written record of it in any official capacity.

Oh. Also, nicer trucks, like the ones used to decorate a military installation’s flag that is saluted twice a day, are usually made of solid metal.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The way big ships are launched looks completely insane

Getting a new ship into the water is, presumably, the most important part of building a seafaring vessel. But not all ships are created equal — some are simply massive. They all need to get in the water somehow… can’t we just toss that bad boy in there?

Yes. The answer is yes, we can.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Traditionally, shipbuilders construct a ship-launching slipway — this is, essentially, a ramp that will slide a ship of any size into the water at full force. There are four ways of going about this:


Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

1. Gravitational

This is something many of us have seen before. A ship slides sideways into the water on a ramp. That ramp has either been made slick with oil or wax, uses steel rollers, or detaches with the ship and is later recovered. The oldest ship-launching method was powered by gravity and is known as longitudinal oiled slideway launching. It uses minimal equipment, but makes heavy use of oil, which can pollute the water.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

…it’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.

2. Floating-out

Ships built in drydocks are typically launched this way. Using locks, the drydock is filled with water and the ship simply floats out when launched. This is a much less violent way of launching a ship than throwing it over the side of the dock, but it’s also way less cool. Think about that — you could just chuck the Disney Fantasy directly into the Caribbean…

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

At least the boat was launched, right?

3. Mechanical

Why throw a ship into the water when you can place it there, like a reasonable, civilized person? For those less interested in a cool launch and more interested in keeping their smaller craft from sinking, a mechanical assist is a great option. Large ships, of course, can’t just be picked up and slowly moved, so this method’s for the lesser vessels.

Keep in mind, however, that introducing any additional element to launching a ship opens more areas for potential chaos.

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4. Air bags

This method is the safest for any size ship. The newest form of launching, employed primarily by Asian shipbuilders, uses these hardcore rubber airbags to slowly put a new ship to sea. It’s a safe way for smaller shipyards that may not have access to a slideway to get crafts in the water.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These photos show how the military is rescuing Florence victims

As Hurricane Florence, now weakened to a tropical depression, continues to wreak havoc along the East Coast, where it has claimed at least two dozen lives, more than 10,000 US service members are providing emergency assistance to those in need.

The Department of Defense, as of Sept. 15, 2018, had deployed a total of 13,470 personnel, 5,400 active-duty service members and 7,857 National Guard to support hurricane relief efforts. Additionally, 1,286 military assets, such as rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, high-water vehicles, and swift boats have been dispatched to assist with ongoing response operations.


“The collaboration between the Department of Defense, FEMA, and state and local partners is absolutely critical to our National Response Framework,” Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Commander USNORTHCOM said in a statement, adding, “We remain well informed of the emergency response requirements and are ready to respond when military assistance is requested.”

The following photos show the US military in action, lending a much needed hand to rescue people and even animals affected by the storm.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

U.S. Marines assigned to Combat Logistics Group 8 (CLB-8) drive through the rain to a local fire station in order to aid in evacuating victims of Hurricane Florence to shelter in Jacksonville, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nello Miele)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Williams)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Williams)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Williams)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle Hagan)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle Hagan)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U. S. Army photo by Spc. Andrea Salgado Rivera)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Stephen Kelly)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damaris Arias)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damaris Arias)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damaris Arias)

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damaris Arias)

US Marines with Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training conduct post hurricane cleanup at the Marine Corps Exchange on Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Air Force F-22 stealth fighters return to the Middle East

US F-22 stealth fighters have returned to the Middle East to “defend American forces and interests” at a time of high tension with Iran, although it is unclear whether the advanced air superiority fighters have been deployed as part of the ongoing deterrence mission or for some other purpose.

An unspecified number of US Air Force F-22 Raptors arrived in the US Central Command area of responsibility June 27, 2019, flying into Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a statement June 28, 2019.


Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor arrives at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, June 27, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson)

This is the first time these fifth-generation fighters have flown into Qatar, as they have previously operated out of Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, where a collection of US Air Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters are currently deployed.

The Aviationist’s David Cenciotti, citing sources, reported that nine F-22s with the 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia have flown into the region with at least three more expected to follow at a later point in time.

Photos of the aircraft flying in formation showed at least five fighters.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

F-22s flying in formation in the Middle East.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Gardner)

The US Air Force deployed F-15C Eagles to the Middle East in early 2019 to replace F-22s after years of regular deployments to the region.

“There are currently no F-22s deployed to AFCENT, but the United States Air Force has deployed F-15Cs to Southwest Asia,” AFCENT told Air Force Magazine in March. “US Air Force aircraft routinely rotate in and out of theater to fulfill operational requirements, maintain air superiority, and protect forces on the ground.”

But now these unmatched air assets are back in the region, and their arrival, likely part of a routine deployment, comes as US troops, weapons, and equipment are increasingly moving into the CENTCOM area of responsibility to deter possible Iranian aggression.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

F-22s in Qatar.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson)

As sanctions crippled the Iranian economy, intelligence reports pointing to the possibility of Iranian attacks led the US military to send the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to confront Iran.

Those assets were followed by more naval vessels, air-and-missile defense batteries, and thousands of additional troops.

In June 2019, Iranian forces shot down a US Navy drone, a serious escalation in the wake of a string of attacks on tankers, allegedly the work of Iranian forces.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

F-22 in Qatar.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson)

Although the US was prepared to retaliate with airstrikes on Iranian positions, President Donald Trump said he called off the attack at the last minute, arguing that taking life in response to an attack on an unmanned system would be a disproportionate.

But after Iranian leadership issued a statement insulting the White House, Trump changed his tune. “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,’ Trump tweeted.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s won’t save NATO from a war with Russia

Much of NATO’s hope to remain a relevant fighting force in the coming decades has been pinned on the introduction of the F-35, but a simple look at the numbers shows that one airframe alone won’t turn the tide against Russia.

“If we think we’re going to wait for the next generation to sort the problems out, I can categorically tell you we will fail when next major conflict occurs.” Simon Rochelle, the Royal Air Force’s air vice-marshal, told the Royal United Service Institute’s Combat Air Survivability conference on March 20, 2019.


“In 2030, 80% of the European NATO forces — should one of those situations occur, God forbid — will be gen 4 fighters. You can’t walk away from that,” he continued, referring to pre-stealth jets as belonging to a fourth generation of fighters.

While Rochelle sounded confident in the F-35’s ability to meet current and future threats, he stressed that NATO wouldn’t hit critical mass in its fifth-generation fleets in time for the next big conflict.

But instead of demanding a deeper well of F-35s, Rochelle said the only practical way was to spread the benefits of the F-35 horizontally, to other airframes.

“I need the F-35’s ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) information off boarded,” he said. “We have F-35s and Typhoons, and I have to use those symbiotically. I can’t afford poor interoperability.”

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(Crown Copyright)

Too little, too late

While the UK has its own fifth-gen fighter planned, the Tempest, Rochelle said the slow pace of fielding the fighters slightly defeated the purpose.

“If both those airframes take 10 years to mature to the next level, they won’t fit the purpose,” he said.

In the meantime, Russia has come up with a slew of new, low-cost, and potentially potent weapons systems meant to down NATO jets.

“The threats, in terms of how it is progressing, [are] significant,” Rochelle said of Russian systems such as the S-400, which has begun to proliferate across the globe with China, Syria, and even the NATO member Turkey looking to buy.

“Those systems are so complex and so capable that a price point for those systems of defense is far cheaper than the long running programs we have in the aircraft to development,” Rochelle said. “We can’t afford not to respond at pace, because our adversaries are responding at pace.”

An S-400 can spot even stealth aircraft such as the F-35 and, using a relatively cheap missile, down a jet that costs many hundred times its own value.

Additionally, Russia may have the even more advanced S-500 system online by the time fifth-generation fighter aircraft hit the front lines en masse.

“They are formidable beasts,” Rochelle said of Russia’s new systems, which include directed energy weapons.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Eurofighter Typhoon.

(Photo by Ronnie Macdonald)

Think fast

At the Rapid Capabilities Office in the Royal Air Force, Rochelle’s job is to innovate new solutions to these mounting problems and get them done fast.

Rochelle discussed cutting down extensive, sometimes grueling testing requirements for non-mission critical components of fighter aircraft. He also explained how his office was able to get Tornado jets fighting ISIS in 191 days.

When it came to fitting the F-35 into the bigger NATO fight against Russia, Rochelle was full of ideas.

“I want to be able to connect a Rivet Joint, through space, into the cockpit … We need to be thinking in those dimensions,” he said, referencing the US and UK’s standard airborne signals-intelligence plane that can help spot anti-air batteries like Russia’s S-400.

“Ideally, I’d like to reprogram the F-35 in flight” with new information, potentially including things spotted by Rivet Joints and other legacy aircraft.

Essentially, Rochelle knows that Europe won’t have B-21s, F-22s, and F-35s of its own on day one of a conflict with Russia, and has launched a series of programs to make his Typhoons fight harder with the benefit of targeting and threat data pulled from F-35s.

In effect, he’s gunning for a much cheaper, lighter air force that takes the cutting edge of the F-35 and spreads it out across the entire mass of NATO’s jet fighter fleet.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How intermittent fasting can help boost your immune system

Forget three square meals a day. Fasting may be the ultimate recipe for long-term health.

This is a piece of advice that cultures and religions around the world have been taking for centuries.

In recent years, a version of this practice called intermittent fasting, where people skip eating anywhere from several hours to several days in a row, has started taking off. Hugh Jackman once said he only eats for a strict 8 hours each day, and Silicon Valley biohackers are embracing a 36-hour water-only “Monk fast,” as they call it, which some perform once a week.

Another popular version of the plan, the 5:2 fast, lets people eat normally most of the week, but then requires a strict limit of around 500 calories per day on the remaining 2 days.


There’s clear evidence that fasting, when done right, can reduce a person’s chances of developing long-term health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS). And it helps some people lose weight, too.

Dr. Miriam Merad, director of the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said the typical modern diet of constant eating is making our immune system cells work overtime, and it’s not good for long term health. Her team’s small study (in both people and mice) out in the journal Cell today provides some of the first essential clues about why letting our guts spend many hours of the day without food can do a body good.

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(Photo by Toa Heftiba)

Eating food turns on inflammatory cells in the body

The reason why fasting is good for us has to do with a type of immune cell called a monocyte, which our bodies typically release to fight off infections and wounds.

Monocytes are inflammatory, and the white blood cells can cluster to heal the body when we’re injured. But any time we eat food, monocytes are also standing guard in case we ingest any threatening microorganisms. This is especially true when we eat (and drink) sugar. Monocytes also accumulate in fat tissue, contributing to chronic disease.

Merad’s new study provides some of the first evidence that intermittent fasting can help calm these inflammatory cells, making them less active. By taking blood samples from 12 healthy adults who were asked to fast for 19 hours in a day (and performing similar experiments with similar results on mice, too), Merad’s team of scientists discovered that the subjects’ circulating monocyte levels were astonishingly low while fasting.

“That scared us, because we thought maybe when you diet like this, if you have an infection, this monocyte won’t be able to react to it,” Merad said. This turned out not to be the case.

Her hunch is that by being well-fed every day, we are creating a perfect storm of inflammatory monocytes running on overdrive in the body, setting people up for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and liver issues, especially if we run on lots of sugar.

When we fast, though, we deprive our bodies of glycogen, a simple energy source that often comes from carbohydrates like sugar.

“Usually the number of monocytes that we have circulating is pretty high because, in America especially, we eat all the time, Merad said. “We snack. I don’t know whether you snack, I snack all the time.”

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

Don’t start a fasting plan without expert advice

Merad cautions that her study should not serve as dietary advice on its own.

“All fasting has to be done in discussion with a dietitian, with a nutritionist, with your general practitioner,” she said.

She said it’s important to understand the difference between fasting and starving, which can cause long-term brain damage or even be deadly. People who are particularly sensitive to glucose levels (like diabetics) and other at-risk groups, including pregnant women, likely should not fast.

Fasting is not 100% safe for anyone when taken to extremes.

“If you start fasting for too long you destroy your immune system,” Merad said. “You become very susceptible to infection. So fasting is not a trivial thing. It’s good to fast, but you cannot starve yourself.”

Air Force space plane touches down after 2-year mission

(Photo by Jamie Street)

Fasting has so many health benefits, they’re hard to count

Researchers have known for a long time that caloric restriction is tied to a host of health benefits. Periodic fasting can help people steer clear of long-term health problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. It can also can boost the production of a protein that strengthens connections in the brain and serve as an antidepressant. Some scientists even think fasting can help people live to a ripe old age by keeping cells healthy and youthful longer.

Merad now tries to eat dinner a few hours earlier than she used to, and she said other researchers in her lab (as well as her husband) are also experimenting with their own versions of intermittent fasting plans, like skipping breakfast.

“Often we eat because we want some social time with family and friends, but do we need to eat three times a day?” she asked. “Maybe eating two times a day would be entirely sufficient and very beneficial, in fact, in terms of health.”

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA and DoD Identification Card Renewal and Issuance Guidance During the Coronavirus Pandemic

VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have taken action to minimize the number of non-essential required visits to identification (ID) card offices during the coronavirus public health emergency. If you have a VA or DoD ID card that has expired or is getting ready to expire, here are your options.


VA-issued Veteran Health Identification Cards (VHIC):

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Veterans enrolled in VA health care who are seeking a brand new VHIC (initial) should contact their local VA medical facility for guidance on going to facility to request a card. Once issued, cards are valid for 10 years.
  • Most Veterans will be able obtain a replacement VHIC (not initial VHIC) by contacting their local VA medical facility and making their request by phone, or they can call 877-222-8387, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Once their identity has been verified, a replacement card will be mailed to them.

DoD-issued ID Cards:

Detailed information concerning DoD ID Card operations during the coronavirus pandemic can be found at the DoD Response to COVID-19 – DoD ID Cards and Benefits webpage (https://www.CAC.mil/coronavirus).

For all information regarding DoD-issued ID cards, please contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Identity and ID Card Policy Team at dhracacpolicy@mail.mil. Limited information follows:

Common Access Cards (CAC) (including military and civilian personnel):

  • DoD civilian cardholders who are transferring jobs within DoD are authorized to retain their active CAC.
  • Cardholders whose DoD-issued CAC is within 30 days of expiration may update their certificates online to extend the life of the CAC through Sept. 30, 2020, without having to visit a DoD ID card office in person for reissue. Directions for this procedure may be found at https://www.CAC.mil/coronavirus under News and Updates / User Guide – Updating CAC/VoLAC Certificates.
  • Cardholders whose DoD-issued CAC has expired will have to visit a DoD ID card office in person for reissuance. Visit http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl to find a DoD ID card office near you and schedule an appointment at https://rapids-appointments.dmdc.osd.mil.

DoD-issued Uniformed Services ID Cards (USID) (including Reservist, military retiree, 100% disabled Veteran, and authorized dependent ID cards):

  • Expiration dates on USID cards will be automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2020, within DEERS for cardholders whose affiliation with DoD has not changed but whose USID card has expired after Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Sponsors of USID card holders may make family member enrollment and eligibility updates remotely.
  • Initial issuance for first-time USID card-eligible individuals may be done remotely with an expiration date of one year from date of issue. The minimum age for first-time issuance for eligible family members has been temporarily increased from 10 to 14 years of age.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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