4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

In the Star Wars universe, lightsaber combat is a selling point. It hearkens back to the cinematic classics of Akira Kurosawa by putting the duels of feudal samurai into a sci-fi setting. When we watch Jedi go toe-to-toe on-screen, it sets our imaginations ablaze. And when it comes to merchandise, there are lightsaber toys flying off the shelves, as every kid wants to get their hands on that ultimate blade.


While this weapon is all-powerful and completely practical in both fiction and our imaginations, in reality, there are a number of headaches that would come with using a high-powered energy blade in contemporary combat.

4. Swords are useless against guns

Let’s get the obvious shortcoming out of the way: range. A lightsaber’s max effective range is about three feet out from the user’s hand. Blasters, on the other hand, reach much further.

We can cut the lightsaber a bit of slack since the blasters in Star Wars aren’t shooting at the speed of light, or even at a fraction of the muzzle velocity of an M4. Wired recently calculated the speed of blaster rounds at 34.9m/s (or 78mph) — similar to a Major League Baseball pitch. So, it’s feasible that our heroes can deflect the lasers at a constant rate like they do in the films, but you’d definitely tire yourself out, like a baseball batter constantly swinging at fastballs.

But we’re not fighting anyone who uses blasters, so… they’re basically only useful against other lightsabers. (Image via GIPHY)

3. You can’t really practice with it

Imagine how troops practice with their weapons. There’s dry training (training that doesn’t involve actually firing the rifle) and time at the range where you fire at a designated target. This becomes a little more challenging when you’re using a weapon that only has two settings: “off” and “able to slice through feet of hardened steel.”

Any practice with a lightsaber would need to be done with a fake. By practicing with a real one, you’d run the risk of chopping off your buddy’s arm.

Your only options are this ball thing or some rocks… (Image via GIPHY)

2. It’s worthless if you don’t have the force

Everything works fine when a Jedi uses a lightsaber. Supposedly, they’ve had years of training to get to the proficiency they display in the films.

Without any Jedi training, anyone who picks up a lightsaber would probably chop off their hand. Or they’ll drop it and watch it burn a hole through to the core of the planet.

And even Jedi Masters aren’t that great at fighting… (Image via GIPHY)

1. There’s no safety

Let’s look at the basic build of a lightsaber: There’s handle that you hold onto, the extremely deadly blade, and the button that turns it on. Nowhere on the device is there any kind of safety mechanism.

If you bump into a chair and accidentally hit the button while it’s holstered, your leg gets cut off. If you’re fighting a Jedi, they could (spoiler alert) turn it on with the force and it’ll impale you. Imagine how many lightsaber battles would’ve been ended sooner if, while duelists lock sabers and stare each other down, someone just force pushes their adversary’s lightsaber.

But they’re still cool… I guess… (Image via GIPHY)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army is getting drones that fit in your pocket

Pocket-size drones are on their way to US Army soldiers, offering a better view of the battlefield and giving them a lethal edge over enemies.

The Army has awarded FLIR Systems a $39.6 million contract to provide Black Hornet personal-reconnaissance drones — next-level technology that could be a total game changer for US troops in the field — the company said in a recent press release.


4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

FLIR Black Hornet PRS.

(FLIR Systems)

The Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System

Measuring just 6.6 inches in length and weighing only 1.16 ounces, these “nano unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems” are “small enough for a dismounted soldier to carry on a utility belt,” according to FLIR Systems.

These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability day or night at a distance of up to 1.24 miles, covering ground at a max speed of 20 feet per second.

The “nearly silent” combat systems can provide constant covert coverage of the battlefield for almost a half hour, transmitting both live video and high-definition photographs back to the operator.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

FLIR Black Hornet PRS.

(FLIR Systems)

A life-saving tool for troops

FLIR said the drone’s ability to covertly detect and identify threats will save the lives of troops in combat.

Introducing the FLIR Black Hornet 3

www.youtube.com

The Army is looking at a number of technologies that will allow soldiers to spot and even fire on enemies without putting themselves in harm’s way, such as night vision goggles connected to an integrated weapons sight that allows troops to shoot from the hip and around corners with accuracy.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

FLIR Black Hornet PRS monitor.

(FLIR Systems)

On its way to troops

The new drones “will give our soldiers operating at the squad level immediate situational awareness of the battlefield through its ability to gather intelligence, provide surveillance, and conduct reconnaissance,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Isaac Taylor told Task and Purpose.

The drones will first be delivered to a single brigade combat team, but they will later be sent to platoons across the various brigade combat teams.

Deliveries will start early 2019 FLIR said in its recent press statement.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dashcam footage shows pilot ejecting from armed F-16 just before it crashes into a California hangar

Last Thursday afternoon, commuters driving down the 215 Freeway adjacent to Riverside County, California’s March Air Reserve Base witnessed an incredible sight. A pilot was forced to eject from his F-16 Fighting Falcon carrying live ordnance over the highway, deploying his chute as the fighter careened into the roof of a nearby warehouse.

The single-engine fighter was headed back to March Air Reserve Base after completing a routine training mission in the nearby Moreno Valley when the pilot reported a hydraulics failure in the aircraft. Soon, he was forced to eject, landing safely in a nearby field. The crippled jet, however, continued its uncontrolled descent into the roof a warehouse across the freeway from the base, belonging to a company called See Water Inc.


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In a dramatic 20-second clip captured by the dash camera of YouTuber James Dyer, you can see the stricken F-16 losing altitude as it passes from the left to the right of the screen. As the pilot ejects, the aircraft continues to coast and wobble, seemingly toward the freeway until the clip ends.

The warehouse that the armed F-16 crashed into was occupied at the time, and at least one person recorded footage of the aftermath that they later posted to Facebook.

“Holy *expletive* dude. That’s a *expletive* airplane; that’s a military airplane in our building,” one person can be heard exclaiming in the footage.

Damage filmed inside warehouse after fighter jet crash in California- video

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Warning – Video contains harsh language

While local officials would not comment on the exact munitions the F-16 was carrying, they did confirm that it was equipped with a “standard armament package,” which suggests 500 rounds for the aircraft’s on-board cannon as well as a number of potential air-to-ground or air-to-air bombs and missiles. All told, the F-16 has hard points for six external weapons, often broken down into two 2,000-pound bombs, two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, as well as two additional 2400-pound external fuel tanks when necessary for long-duration flights. Whatever ordnance was on board this Fighting Falcon was quickly secured by Air Force officials.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

F-16 carrying a full combat load including external fuel tanks

(U.S. Air Force)

Suffice to say, as bad as a hole in a warehouse roof may be, this incident could have been significantly worse. No one was killed in the crash, though 13 people were injured with three remaining hospitalized but listed as stable. According to local health officials, none of the injuries sustained were life-threatening.

“Thank God everyone is safe and OK,” Mike Johnson, the CEO of the company located in the warehouse, told the press. “We’ll have to see what this means for the company, but right now our concern is with our employees and their families.”

Articles

7 of Hollywood’s most legendary female military roles

Over the last few decades female service members have been allowed to join (or attempt to join) a number of warfare specialties that were once only available to men. Some would like to credit the political winds in the wake of the Tailhook Scandal in ’91 or the DoD Sexual Harassment Report a couple of years ago, but — as with most things in the Free World — the biggest influence to shaping attitudes about a woman’s ability to serve is how she is represented on the Silver Screen.


Here are seven of the most iconic and groundbreaking portrayals of the military female experience in the history of cinema:

1. PATRICIA NEAL as Lieutenant Maggie Hayes in “In Harm’s Way” (1965)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Patricia Neal’s reading of Lt. Maggie Hayes is pitch-perfect. She’s tough but understanding as the head Navy nurse at a Pearl Harbor installation during the high optempo days of World War II. She’s also a great girlfriend to Capt. “Rock” Torrey (played by John Wayne in maximum swagger mode) and presents a model of how to navigate the fine (and potentially messy) lines of work-life blending and differences in rank.

2. DEMI MOORE as Lieutenant Jordan O’Neill in “G.I. Jane” (1997)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

The powers-that-be are thinking of opening up Navy SEAL training to women these days? Thank Demi Moore. Her portrayal of never-say-quit Lt. O’Neill is gritty and honest.  And she also delivers a classic line where she tells one of her instructors to do something to her that’s anatomically impossible.  HOO-YAH, bitches!

3. DEMI MOORE as Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway in “A Few Good Men” (1992)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Demi Moore tackles the part of Lcdr. JoAnne Galloway with gusto, and in the process she emerges as a role model for female officers stuck in prosaic support specialties like Navy JAG. She handles the ever-whiney Lt. Dan Kaffee (played by the ever-whiney Tom Cruise) with aplomb and only cries a few times over the course of their time together. Her sense of justice is laudable. Her choice of hairstyles is less so, but let’s blame director Rob Reiner for that. Actually, skip that. He got that absolutely right.

4. GOLDIE HAWN as Private Judy Benjamin in “Private Benjamin” (1980)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Although it’s a comedy, Goldie Hawn’s reading of her character is really a procedural for using the U.S. military as a means of getting your shit together, female-style. Benjamin is a spoiled rich girl who becomes a widow at a young age and is tricked (you know how they do) by a recruiter into joining the Army. She weathers sexual harassment at the hands of her lesbian DI as well as her special ops CO (Col. Thornbush), but ultimately (after a tour at SHAPE and great Paris RR) she emerges stronger and more courageous than before she donned the uniform.  (And how about those veteran’s benefits?)

5. Kelly McGillis as Charlie in “Top Gun” (1986)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Hey, in case you haven’t noticed, contractors are a big part of the military, and no actress has ever represented those proud patriots as well as Kelly McGillis does while holding down the role of Charlie in the all-time military classic “Top Gun.” As with Demi Moore in “A Few Good Men,” McGillis gets points for playing opposite whiney Tom Cruise, this time whining into an oxygen mask a lot of the time, but beyond that she exudes strength (the government gave her a top secret clearance, lieutenant) and sweet surrender (everybody: *take my breath awaaaaaayyyy*).

6. CARRIE FISHER as Princess Leia in “Return of the Jedi” (1983)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Because she had the strength to outlast the ick of lusting after her brother for all that time and because she’s a princess, which must make her the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces (or something) and therefore a military person. *Hand salute*

7. SIGOURNEY WEAVER as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley in “Alien” (1979)

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Few characters, male or female, in the history of cinema have jumped off the screen with as much moxie and brio as Sigourney Weaver managed while playing Ripley in the sci-fi epic “Alien.” The movie is basically a one-act play where Weaver’s character has every chance to freak the hell out but doesn’t, and therefore she survives (because if she hadn’t there wouldn’t have been a sequel). Ripley is a model of strength and calm under pressure, and her BS meter is way dialed in.

Articles

This Iranian was the highest-scoring F-14 Tomcat pilot ever

Jalil Zandi’s Air Force legend almost never made it off the ground. He joined the Iranian Air Force when it was still the Imperial Iranian Air Force, under Shah Reza Pahlavi. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Zandi stayed blue – a risky move at a time when Iranian military officers were being executed for doing their duty to one’s country.


But fighter pilots need to be bold and take risks. Zandi did spend some time in a prison cell, sentenced to 10 years for… whatever. Does it matter? In September 1980 – less than a year after the revolution in Iran – Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi troops invaded Iran whose military was woefully undermanned.

So, Zandi was back in the pilot’s seat within six months.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Mustaches are always in regs in the Iranian Air Force of the 1980s.

It was a good thing too. Then-Major Zandi had some serious skills at the controls of his F-14 Tomcat. Forget what you think about the governments of Iran and Iraq in this time period, you have to admire a pilot who fought Iraqis in the skies for eight straight years to keep them from shooting chemical weapons at playgrounds.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
All those aviator sunglasses… and Top Gun wouldn’t even be released for another five years.

Zandi survived the brutal eight-year-long war, and according to the U.S. Air Force’s intelligence assessments, he took down 11 Iraqi aircraft – four MiG-23s, two Su-22s, two MiG-21s, and three Mirage F-1s. His last engagement of the war saw him go up against eight enemy Mirage F1s over Iraq in 1988. He scored two unconfirmed kills but was badly shot up in the dogfight and had to break off. He was able to fly back to his base in Iran and the war ended that very same year.

He received the Order of Fath 2nd Class for his time in the skies over enemy territory. The Fath Medal is one of the highest awards an Iranian military member can receive and is personally presented by the Supreme Leader. Jalil Zandi’s 11 kills in the F-14 make him the highest-scoring Tomcat pilot ever. Zandi died in a car accident near Tehran in 2001, having reached the rank of Brigadier General.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Brigadier General Jalil Zandi, IRIAF, ca. 2001.

The F-14 was retired from the U.S. military arsenal in 2006 but is still in use in Iran.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 simple whiskey cocktails to make this summer

A well-made whiskey cocktail is a nice reward at the end of any day. But sometimes classic cocktails are too much. For one thing, unless you’re a seasoned drink-slinger, many whiskey cocktails are often too complicated — or intensive — to whip up at the end of a long day (Hey if you want to shake the hell out of that classic whiskey sour, go right ahead). For another, the alcohol content of one concoction can quickly equal that of two or three regular drinks. Sometimes this is great; other times, not so much. Because while we’d like this to not be the case, “falling asleep in the chair” is not really a regular item on the nightly to-do list.

That’s what inspired this list of one-shot whiskey cocktails. They’re all great to sip at the end of the day but won’t put you on your ass — or require four kinds of hooch and one of those hilariously long copper mixing spoons. They’re simple, refreshing, and very drinkable. What more do you want from a summer cocktail?


4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

(Photo by Jessica Lewis)

1. The Blinker

What is it? The Blinker is a simple, refreshing drink made with grapefruit juice and rye whiskey. While they might not seem like the most obvious combination, one sip and it might just become your new summer go to.

Try it with: Michter’s Rye. It’s bold enough to shine through the intensity of the grapefruit tang.

How to make a Blinker:

  • 1-2oz Rye
  • 2-3oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1oz raspberry syrup

Instructions: Shake over ice and strain into a coupe glass.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

2. Bourbon and Georgia Peach Coca-Cola

What is it? A way better version of the classic whiskey and Coke.

Try it with: Knob Creek. The strong vanilla notes compliment the peach flavoring.

How to make a Bourbon and Georgia Peach Coca-Cola:

  • 1-2oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • 4-6oz Georgia Peach Coca-Cola
  • Garnish with a fresh slice of peach

Instructions: Fill a highball glass with ice and add all the ingredients.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

(Photo by Johann Trasch)

3. The Bourbon Bloody Mary

What is it? The vodka brunch classic made with bourbon. Whiskey gives the drink a subtle hint of smoke and more depth than the original.

Try it with: Bulleit Bourbon. The whiskey’s citrus and spice notes accentuate the punch of the tomato and the heat of the hot sauce.

How to Make a Bourbon Bloody Mary:

  • 1-2oz bourbon
  • 4oz Bloody Mary mix (we like McClure’s)
  • A few generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tapatio hot sauce
  • Garnish with black pepper and a kosher pickle spear

Instructions: Fill a highball glass with ice and add all ingredients. Stir.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

(Photo by Johann Trasch)

4. Japanese Highball

What is it? A whisky-soda with a rock and roll kick. A good Japanese malt gives this classic a radically different profile.

Try it with: Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky. The whisky is fruity and floral and the tiny bubbles from the soda atomize the nose to create a fragrantly charming and refreshing cocktail

How to make a Japanese Highball:

  • 1-2oz whisky
  • 4oz club soda

Instructions: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add ingredients. Stir briefly.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

(Photo by Adam Jaime)

5. The Single Malt Old Fashioned

What is it? It’s just an Old Fashioned made with Scotch instead of rye or bourbon. The Old Fashioned is a perfect cocktail and normally we don’t like to tinker with perfection. But, variety is the spice of life and Scotch is, and always will be our first love.

Try it with: Ardbeg 10. This single malt adds a big peaty smoke as well as a touch of salt and pepper for a more layered drink.

How to make a Single Malt Old Fashioned:

  • 1-2oz Single Malt Scotch
  • 2-3 Dashes of bitters
  • 1 Tsp of simple syrup
  • Top with 1oz club soda
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions: Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the ingredients.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 players you should look out for in the Army-Navy game

On Dec. 9, 2017, cadets from West Point will clash against midshipmen from the Naval Academy on the gridiron, marking over 120 years of epic football rivalry.


The historic contest was born after Army Cadet Dennis Michie accepted a Naval Academy challenge to a game of football in 1890. On Nov. 19, the two teams battled it out for the first time.

Year after year, these two teams continued to go head-to-head, making for showdowns fueled by high energy and unbelievable plays.

Related: Navy just dropped its new 2017 smack talk video

As we warm up our tailgating grills for the match-up, let’s take a look at a few difference-makers you should watch for during the game:

Army

6. Ahmad Bradshaw — QB

The Illinois native has racked up a passer rating of 84.8 and has already rushed for an impressive 1472 yards, including 11 rushing touchdowns.

This athletic QB stands at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds, making this senior a force to be reckoned with. The Navy’s D-line will to have to step their game up.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Army QB #17, Ahmad Bradshaw. (Image from Goarmywestpoint.com)

5. Andy Davidson — RB

This talented junior from Pennsylvania has tallied up impressive rushing yards since he put up 130 against Tulane University earlier in the year.

So far in 2017, number 40 has rushed for 517 yards on only 94 carries — 42 of those yards came in a single run against Tulane.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Davidson leading charge against Temple. (Source: Zimbio)

4. James Nachtigal — LB

This Wisconsin native is no stranger to stopping the pigskin dead in its tracks. In 2017, this talented linebacker has a total of 87 tackles and five sacks, accounting for 46 negative yards against some talented offenses.

The Black Knights are looking to this defensive anchor to put some serious hurt on the offensive line during the Dec. 9 game.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
James Nachtigal as he sets into position. (Image from Goarmywestpoint.com)

Also Read: 6 military veterans who played in the Super Bowl

Navy

3. Zach Abey — QB

This Navy midshipman is competing at a high level during his junior year. This tough QB isn’t afraid to put his shoulder down and take some hits, as he’s tallied over 1,200 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns so far this season on just 278 carries.

Expect Navy to rely on Abey’s running game for some serious gains during the game.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Navy quarterback Zach Abey carries the football during a designed run play. (Source: Navy Sports)

2. Tyler Carmona – WR

This powerful 6-foot-4-inch target has pulled down 381-yards receiving yards and 4 TDs in 2017. Hailing from Florida, Carmona is averaging over 27 yards per catch.

Look for Abey to target Carmona while Navy is trying to mix up their passing and running game.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Tyler Carmona lost his helmet but maintains ball possession.

1. Malcolm Perry — RB

Standing at 5 feet 9 inches tall, this sophomore speedster has racked up over 800-yards on just 92 carries, scoring 8 TDs in the process.

Perry broke out with a 92-yard TD run against SMU back in week 11 and looks to continue his productive year against Army on Dec. 9.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
Running back Malcolm Perry cuts it up-field in a game against Cincinnati. (Source: Youtube/ Screenshot)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is finally getting its long-delayed new tanker

The Air Force and Boeing have reached agreement on delivery of the long delayed KC-46 Pegasus tanker, with the two sides expecting the first aircraft to arrive in October 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Boeing’s original deadline to deliver 18 planes and additional materials was August 2017, but the $44 billion program has been hit by numerous delays and setbacks, and the Air Force said this spring it expected Boeing to miss its deadline to deliver the planes by October 2018, with the first KC-46 not arriving until the end of 2018 and all 18 planes by spring 2019.

The delivery of the first KC-46 by October 2018 is two months earlier than the Air Force anticipated. Matthew Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg the timeline was “aggressive but achievable.” Under the new schedule, the other 17 planes will arrive by April 2019.

The Air Force plans to buy 179 of the KC-46. Once it begins receiving them, the service will start phasing out its older KC-10 tankers. It will hold on to 300 of its KC-135 tankers, which average 55 years old. That would expand the tanker fleet to 479 KC-135s and KC-46s from the current 455 KC-135s and KC-10s.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt, July 15, 2016.
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

Under their contract, Boeing is responsible for costs beyond the Air Force’s $4.82 billion commitment. But delays in delivery could mean the Air Force will have to keep 19 KC-135s in service through 2023 at a cost of up to $10 million a plane annually.

The most serious problem facing the tanker has been the risk of its refueling boom scraping the surface of planes receiving fuel, which can damage stealth aircraft and potentially ground the tanker.

Other issues include the operation of the remote vision system, which is used to guide the boom; problems with the unexpected disconnection of its centerline drogue system, which is used to refuel aircraft; and concerns about the plane’s high-frequency radio, which uses the skin of the plane to broadcast. The latter two issues were downgraded to category-two deficiencies early 2018.


Settling on a delivery date may mean that both sides believe Boeing is close to resolving the tanker’s deficiencies. Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg that a software fix for the boom scrapping the receiving aircraft is undergoing flight testing and that flight test verification for the fixes is set for September 2018.

‘It is prudent to explore options’

The Air Force has been trying to replace its aging tankers for years, and military officials have been critical of the recent delays, even as they’ve complimented Boeing on its cooperation.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told acquisition officials in November 2017 that he was “unwilling (totally)” to accept flawed KC-46 tankers.

Early 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee that “one of our frustrations with Boeing is that they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than they are on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these airplanes to the Air Force.”

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck
The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time, October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons a minute.
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

Her remarks came a few days after Donovan encouraged Boeing to “double down” to “get this program over the goal line” during a visit to the KC-46 production and modification facility in Washington state.

Even as the KC-46 program inches forward, lawmakers are looking beyond the current, manned tankers to adapt to emerging threats.

It its markup of the 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern “about the growing threat to large high-value aircraft in contested environments” and recommended an extra $10 million in spending on Air Force research, development, testing, and evaluation, for a total of $38.4 million.

While the Air Force’s tankers allow greater operational availability and range for fighters and bombers, “these assets are manned and increasingly difficult to protect,” the committee said.

“Given the increasingly challenging operating environments our potential adversaries are presenting, it is prudent to explore options for optionally unmanned and more survivable tankers that could operate autonomously as part of a large, dispersed logistics fleet that could sustain attrition in conflict,” it added.

Boeing is researching automation for its commercial aircraft, part of an effort to address a protracted pilot shortage, an issue that has plagued both civilian and military aviation.

Russian aircraft maker Ilyushin is also working on a similar project, partnering with Kronstadt Group to develop an unmanned transport aircraft that could be used to access remote or difficult-to-reach areas.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the all-out US war plan for the entire Middle East

The days after the September 11th attacks were very different from the United States’ “business as usual” of post-Cold War days gone by. As the days stretched into weeks, the culture of the U.S. changed a little bit, and you could see it everywhere, from entertainment media to individuals across the country. The mood suddenly shifted.

For retired four-star general Wesley Clark, the mood shift was an entirely different level when he met old friends at the Pentagon.


4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Clark was a Presidential candidate in 2004.

In a 2007 interview, Clark tells Democracy Now that life at the Pentagon was markedly different from the military world he knew after 34 years in the Army. The former NATO Supreme Allied Commander got a little insight from his old friends about how the United States was preparing to respond to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Some ten days after the attacks, Clark says he was in the Pentagon visiting friends at the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he was called into a former colleague’s office. Without divulging which colleague, Clark tells Democracy Now that the general told him they were preparing for a war with Iraq. This was just ten days after Sept. 11, 2001. Clark confirmed that there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but the general was firm on the decision to invade.

“I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail,” Clark remembered the general saying.

Clark returned to the Pentagon a few weeks later. By this time, the United States was conducting bombing operations in Afghanistan. He poked his head into the same four-star colleague’s office and asked if the war was still on – it was. Not only was the war with Iraq still going on as planned, but the plan had since been expanded to also include other countries that were traditionally hostile to the efforts of the United States.

The general showed Clark a classified memo from then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that listed seven countries that were to be toppled by the U.S. military in the coming five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. In that order.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Clark believes Iran needed the US to oust Saddam Hussein, something it could never do.

Clark believed that by that time, Iran already saw itself at war with the U.S., considering the calls for regime change and the ongoing proxy war in neighboring Iraq. In 2007, the United States military was implementing the famous “surge” strategy for defeating the insurgency in Iraq, a strategy that had not yet reaped benefits by the time of Clark’s interview. Clark was trying to stop the momentum for war with Iran.

Of course, the list of countries mentioned by Gen. Clark’s friend in the Pentagon have their own set of issues or were later beset with them. Libya and Syria fell victim to the Arab Spring five years later. The government of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya eventually fell, which led to his death. The government of Bashar al-Asad in Syria was rescued from collapse by Russian intervention in the country’s ongoing civil war. Lebanon was wrecked by an Israeli invasion in 2006. Sudan has since split into two countries as a result of civil strife, and Iraq would infamously suffer at the hands of ISIS after the U.S. withdrawal.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How fighter jets can ‘headbutt’ enemy planes

When fighter jets are scrambled to intercept enemy or unidentified planes, they have a range of options, from immediate lethal fires to trying to contact the rogue plane via radio, depending on the situation. One of the options is to use their plane to conduct the “headbutt” of the other plane.

The maneuver is sweet, but not nearly as metal as it sounds.


4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet, like the ones that headbutted and then attacked and destroyed Syrian ground attack aircraft in June, 2017.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Rosencrans)

There are a number of maneuvers which have been described under the umbrella of the term, “headbutt,” but none of them include physical contact between the two planes.

Last year, the ‘headbutt’ maneuver got press coverage after F-18Es intercepted hostile ground attack jets over Syria in June. There, the U.S. fighters conducted one of the most aggressive forms of the maneuver. Two American jets flew close to one another, with one trailing behind. The jets’ wakes combine and become even stronger, and the two jets fly in front of the targeted jet in order to destabilize it with the violent wake. They also dropped flares.

Basically, the two American jets use the “winds” from their own passage to rock the targeted jet. When that failed to dissuade the Syrian Su-22 from bombing U.S. backed forces, the F/A-18E shot down the Syrian jet.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

(AirWolfHound, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Another version of the headbutt, usually seen when the Air Force is trying to get the attention of a friendly or civilian aircraft, has the headbutting jet fly well underneath the target aircraft, then fly up nearly vertical about 500 feet ahead of the friendly plane’s nose, nearly guaranteeing that the pilot will see the U.S. fighter without forcing the pilot to fly though a violent or dangerous wake.

This is only done if ground controllers and the fighter pilots have been unable to establish radio communications with the aircraft, and the aircraft is flying into restricted airspace.

A third version of the maneuver is very similar to the first, but has only one jet flying ahead of the targeted aircraft. This has two advantages. First, less wake is created, meaning that the targeted aircraft is less likely to encounter trouble in flight as a result of the maneuver. Second, it allows the wingman of the headbutting aircraft to loiter either hidden or in a good attack position, ready to move in for a kill if necessary.

This version of the maneuver is often accompanied by the release of flares in order to drive home the point that the U.S. jet is trying to communicate with the targeted aircraft.

While these maneuvers have certainly existed for a long time, the American emphasis on them has grown since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Suddenly, an Air Force that had always been aimed at foreign enemies had to be prepared to assess threats in the domestic airspace much more often.

Like all U.S. military forces, especially when operating with and near civilians, the U.S. pilots wanted a clear escalation of force procedure with ways to assess whether a civilian aircraft was a threat before they were forced to shoot it down.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

F-16s like this one can fly well over the speed of sound, but have to be prepared to slow down enough to communicate with civilian planes visually, whether its by headbutting them, rocking their wings, or flashing their lights.

(U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kathryn R. C. Reaves)

This required the pilots to develop new skills, like additional levels of warning an aircraft that it was entering restricted airspace. It also led to pilots of fighter jets that could break the sound barrier suddenly being worried about how they could slow down enough to read a Cessna’s tail number.

If that doesn’t sound challenging, realize that many of the single-engine planes flying around U.S. skies are considered fast if they can clear 175 knots, roughly equal to 200 mph. Meanwhile, F-16s can fly 1,600 mph. If a fighter is checking on a slow-moving, single-engine plane, they may need to fly (at least) 100 mph faster than their target simply to prevent a stall.

Now imagine trying to get a phone number off of a yard sign while your friend is driving 100 mph.

Takes practice.

But if they can’t get into radio contact with a plane and can’t properly identify it from its tail number, they still need options to get its attention without shooting it down. Headbutting, making radio contact, flashing their landing lights, and dropping flares are among such techniques, but they’re not the only ones. In fact, in at least one tense situation over restricted airspace, a Coast Guard helicopter flew ahead of a civilian plane with a whiteboard telling it to change to a specific radio frequency.

Thanks to all these efforts, the U.S. Air Force has never had to shoot down a civilian plane, and they’ve gained experience using a valuable tool for deterring enemy planes near U.S. forces abroad. But, like the events in June 2017 demonstrated, the “headbutt” won’t always scare the enemy away — and American pilots still might have to get their hands dirty.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Marines are being surveyed on their favorite performance snacks

Call it fourthmeal.

Since early 2018, the Marine Corps has been issuing Marine recruits and officer candidates in entry-level training a “performance nutrition pack” of high-energy snacks to get them through the 10-hour stretch between dinner and breakfast. Now, nutrition specialists want to know which items in the packs these prospective Marines are most likely to eat.

Surveys were distributed this month at Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia to gather feedback on the items in the performance nutrition packs that candidates were most likely to consume, said Sharlene Holladay, the Marine Corps’ Warfighter and Performance Dietitian.


The packs are assembled with purpose; they’re composed of off-the-shelf non-perishable food items that can include fruit-and-nut trail mixes, cereal, peanut butter and jelly packets, shelf-stable milk and more. A typical pack totals 500-600 calories in a ratio of 50-60% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 12-13% protein, Holladay said.

The intent is to give trainees a caloric boost before they head out to rigorous morning PT before breakfast; but that only works if they’re eating what’s provided.

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Rct. Thomas Minnick Jr., Platoon 1014, Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, lifts a 30-pound ammunition can during his combat fitness test Feb. 11, 2014, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Octavia Davis)

“If you’re not consuming it, it becomes really nutrient-dense trash,” Holladay said.

The survey uses a Likert scale with ratings from one to five, inviting officer candidates to indicate what they are most likely to eat and most likely to discard. Feedback will be collected through the end of October, giving officials a 95% confidence rate in the results.

From there, the feedback will be used to design future nutrition packs. Holladay noted that tastes and preferences change over time with new generations of recruits, and the survey allows officials to stay current on popular items.

The rollout of performance nutrition packs at entry-level training, following a pilot program in fiscal 2016, mirrors efforts by other services to make sure trainees aren’t limited by chow hall meal times when it comes to fueling up.

The Marine Corps dispenses roughly 1,500 of the packs each month at OCS and the two recruit depots in Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, Holladay said.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie — prove me wrong

Despite the running “Night Before Christmas” motif and a soundtrack that almost exclusively features Christmas carols, some still challenge the status of “Die Hard” as a Christmas movie — even, much to our horror, Bruce Willis himself. This year, we’ll be solving the annual debate once and for all.

If you haven’t seen it — first of all, what’s wrong with you? Are you a German terrorist? — here’s the gist of the 1988 action-thriller: “A New York City cop faces overwhelming odds when his Christmas visit to California is interrupted by a terrorist invasion of his estranged wife’s office building.”


Before we can prove that something is a Christmas movie, we first have to define what a Christmas movie is. The problem is that Christmas — or the holiday season, rather — isn’t an overarching genre so much as it as a convention that flavors other genres. Every year, we’re greeted by dozens of holiday films, but if we break them down by genre, it looks a little different. There are family films set during the holidays (“Arthur Christmas”); there are Santa-centric adventure films (“The Santa Clause”); there are quirky romantic ensemble comedies that border on horror about surviving your screwed-up family (“Love, Actually”). Each of these films spans a different genre, however, they all fall under the category of “holiday movies.”

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

Bruce Willis as John McClane in “Die Hard.”

(Photo courtesy of IMDB.)

In order to navigate this timeless convention, we have to create criteria using patterns spanning holiday films in the past. From timeless classics such as “A Christmas Carol” to Christmas-based comedies like “Home Alone,” the biggest defining factor for a Christmas film seems to be the impact that the time of the year has on the film.

The physical holiday setting is of the utmost importance, which usually manifests in two ways: art direction and audio. For holiday films, that means holiday imagery and holiday-associated sound effects (bells), as well as seasonal music. “Die Hard” is rife with all of these, from the glorious shredding of the bearer bonds in conjunction to “Let it Snow” and even Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” which very loudly proclaims “This is Christmas.” “Die Hard” may not necessarily rely on its Christmas imagery, but it does feature several allusions to the holiday. For example, “Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho”? How about the snow at the ending — in Los Angeles? All of that seems to imply that “Die Hard” is a Christmas film. In fact, all the holiday references makes it odder to consider that it may not be a Christmas film. The setting, of course, pales in comparison to the emotional and thematic contents of the movie.

‘Die Hard’ 30th Anniversary Christmas Trailer

www.youtube.com

Holidays movies usually take a pretty firm moral stance, usually about the forces of family and the holiday spirit. “Die Hard” frames these themes through John McClane’s quest to reconcile with his wife, which is the driving motivation of this film. There would be no plot without that seed of a familiar desire — no McClane versus Gruber, no grand shootout. Sure, “Die Hard” could have taken place during the summer, but the emotional stakes for John McClane’s character wouldn’t have been as high.

“Die Hard” is built around an innately deep issue: reconciliation and family bonding, which relies on the holiday spirit to intensify the stakes. At its core, this movie is about a man seeking redemption. Is it the same redemption that Scrooge was seeking? Not necessarily, but the running, gunning, and general action-packed nature of the its genre makes it no less of a Christmas film in our book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idhJqKxebVY
The Yippie Ki-Yay, MF!

www.youtube.com

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