Yet another patriotic war movie has taken Russia by storm.
T-34, a high-octane tribute to the Soviet tank that played a key role on the Eastern Front of World War II, is the latest in a series of big-budget history flicks sponsored by the Culture Ministry and lavished with round-the-clock coverage on Russian state TV.
Spanning the years 1941-45, the film tells the story of Red Army Lieutenant Nikolai Ivushkin’s unlikely attempt to escape a German prisoner-of-war camp in a T-34 tank that he and three other men are tasked with repairing by their Nazi overseers. The fugitives are cornered in a German village near the Czechoslovak border, where an epic tank battle culminates the movie.
The slow-motion projectiles and video-game graphics give the movie a modern feel, and its simple storyline is thin on nuance. According to director Aleksei Sidorov, the aim of the film was to “tell the story of war in a way that appeals to the youth but doesn’t prove controversial among those who still keep the Great Patriotic War [World War II] in their memory,” the Culture Ministry quoted himas saying in a press release.
T-34 | Official HD Trailer (2018) | WORLD WAR II DRAMA | Film Threat Trailers
This time, a formula used in dozens of similar films appears to have finally struck gold. T-34 is the third Russian film devoted to World War II-era tanks since 2012 — but unlike its predecessors, 2012’s White Tiger and 2018’s Tanks, it’s proving a major hit with Russian audiences.
Since its nationwide release on Jan. 1, 2019, the movie has raked in more than a billion rubles, securing the top spot at the Russian box office. More than 4 million theatergoers have seen the film so far, according to stats from the Russian Cinema Fund.
Powerful backing played a role. The producer of T-34 is Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire businessman with Kremlin ties. “For me, T-34 is more than a perfectly conceived adventure flick,” Blavatnik told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017, where the film’s budget was estimated at 600 million rubles (currently million). “My grandfather was a World War II veteran, and that great victory is part of our family lore.”
The war cost the lives of more than 26 million Soviet civilians and military personnel, and is held up as a point of national pride. The memory of the heroic Soviet campaign to oust the German invaders has often been used as fodder in propaganda, a fact noted by film critic Anton Dolin. But in a review for the independent news site Meduza, Dolin argues that T-34 avoids the primitive methods on display in other war movies sponsored by the Russian government.
“I thank the authors for creating a high-budget war blockbuster almost clear of propagandistic and ideological motives,” Dolin writes. “Even the word ‘Stalin’ is mentioned here only once, and in a facetious context. That’s a rarity in our times.”
White Tiger Official Trailer (2014) – Russian World War 2 Tank Movie HD
But T-34 is not completely free of references to contemporary geopolitics, it seems. In the tank battle that opens the movie, a cowardly Ukrainian soldier who gets mouthy with Ivushkin dies, while the tough Belarusian who obeys the lieutenant’s orders remains by the Russian’s side till the happy ending.
The film Tanks, which was released in 2018 and directed by Kim Druzhinin, can be seen as a prequel of sorts to T-34. It tells the story of two T-34 prototypes making their way from Kharkov to Moscow as the Nazi leadership looks for ways to destroy them and preempt the havoc they would soon wreak. The first audience for Tanks, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was servicemen at the Russian-run Khmeimim air base in Syria.
But while Tanks was widely panned by critics and proved a flop at the box office, T-34 has rolled over its competition. Perhaps it’s the lazy January holidays that bring Russians en masse before the screens.
“What could be merrier,” Dolin writes, than “crushing the fascist toad, and then chasing the victory down with mandarins and champagne?”
According to reports released through Chinese media, a modified version of their Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, dubbed the J-20B, has just entered mass production. This new variant of their first fifth-generation fighter will continue to run dated Russian-built engines, but will utilize thrust vectoring control nozzles to grant the aircraft a significant boost in maneuverability.
“Mass production of the J-20B started on Wednesday. It has finally become a complete stealth fighter jet, with its agility meeting the original criteria,” the South China Morning Post credited to an unnamed source within the Government.
Chengdu J-20 (WikiMedia Commons)
“The most significant change to the fighter jet is that it is now equipped with thrust vector control.”
Thrust vectoring nozzle for a Eurojet EJ200 turbofan (WikiMedia Commons)
Thrust Vector Control
Thrust vector control, sometimes abbreviated to TVC, is a means of controlling a jet or rocket engine’s outward thrust. Thrust vectoring nozzles are used to literally move the outflow of exhaust in different directions to give an aircraft the ability to conduct acrobatics that a straight-forward nozzled jet simply couldn’t do.
When paired with an aircraft like Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, thrust vectoring control allows an aircraft to make sharper changes in direction, or even to continue traveling in one direction while pointing the nose, and weapons systems of the aircraft, down toward an enemy. Put simply, thrust vectoring nozzles let you point the engine one way, while the aircraft itself is pointed in another (to a certain extent).
In a jet like the F-22 (and soon in China’s J-20 stealth fighter), this technology gives fighter pilots a distinct advantage over non-thrust vectoring jets in a dogfight. You can see the thrust vector control surfaces on the F-22’s engine, which can direct the outflow of exhaust up to 20 degrees up or down, in this video clip:
Russia also employs thrust vector control technology in some of their more capable fighters, like the Sukhoi Su-35, which is widely considered to be among the most capable fourth generation fighters in service anywhere on the planet. While stealth and sensor fusion capabilities would give an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the long range advantage against the non-stealth Su-35, the Russian jet would technically be capable of flying circles around America’s premier stealth fighter if stealth weren’t in the picture (luckily, however, it is).
Of course, that’s not what the F-35 was built for, and in a real conflict, an F-35 would likely shoot down a Su-35 before the Russian pilot was even aware of an American presence in his airspace. China’s J-20 stealth fighter, however, would very likely be extremely difficult to detect on radar or by infrared signature as it closed with an opponent from head on, and the J-20B’s thrust vector control abilities combined with that inherent sneakiness could make this new J-20 a serious adversary for the F-35, and even a worthy opponent for the F-22.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter versus China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter
While the F-35 tends to garner the lion’s share of attention, it truly was not built to serve in an air superiority role against near-peer or peer level adversaries. The F-35’s strengths don’t come from its speed or maneuverability, but rather from the extremely effective one-two punch it can deliver via stealth technologies, sensor fusion, and communications.
Many F-35 pilots, including Sandboxx News’ own Justin “Hasard” Lee, will tell you that the F-35’s role in many dogfights isn’t that of an up-close dog fighter, but rather more like a quarterback in the sky, accumulating and processing data into an easy-to-manage interface, and relaying that information to aircraft and other weapons systems in the battle space.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)
When it is up to the F-35 to take down an airborne opponent, the F-35’s speed and maneuverability limitations are usually not a significant concern, as the jet is designed to engage enemy aircraft more like a sniper than a boxer. The F-35’s data fusion capabilities make it easy for the pilot to identify enemy aircraft in their heads up display, and the fighter can even engage multiple targets from distances too far to see with the naked eye.
J-20 (WikiMedia Commons)
However, the J-20 may be difficult to see for even the mighty F-35, which, when combined with the J-20B’s higher top end and superior mobility thanks to thrust vectoring nozzles, it could be a real threat to America’s top tier stealth fighter. The front canards on the J-20, however, are believed by some to compromise the aircraft’s stealth when approaching from angles other than head-on. Debate continues on this front, but it could give the F-35 the advantage it needs.
Of course, that is if the J-20B performs as China claims it will.
USAF F-22 Raptor (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm)
The F-22 Raptor vs China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter
This match up is a bit more appropriate, as the F-35 was built to be a jack of all stealthy trades and the F-22 was built specifically to dominate a sky full of enemy fighters. Unlike the F-35, which is largely limited to subsonic speeds in both the Navy and Marine Corps’ iterations, the F-22 is fast, mean, and acrobatic in addition to its stealth capabilities.
China’s stealth fighter, the J-20, was designed using stolen plans for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, giving it a similar profile and potentially similar combat capabilities. However, it seems unlikely that China has managed to replicate the complex process of mass producing stealth aircraft to the same extent the United States has, as America’s stealth work dates back to the 1970s and the development of the “Hopeless Diamond” that would eventually become the F-117 Nighthawk.
As previously mentioned, the J-20’s front canards could potentially limit the aircraft’s stealth capabilities as well, making the plane difficult to detect from head on, but potentially easier from other angles.
Some content that these canards compromise some degree of the J-20’s stealth capabilities. (Chinese internet)
Although China has announced that their J-20B will come equipped with thrust vector controls, just how effective their system will be remains to be seen, meaning that, like China’s stealth capabilities, their execution may potentially fall behind their bluster.
Assuming, however, that the J-20B performs exactly as China says it will, the aircraft could likely be a worthy opponent for the F-22 in some circumstances, especially when flying in greater numbers than America’s top intercept fighter, which just may be a serious issue in the near future, as America simply can’t build any more F-22s.
Chinese J-20s flying in formation (Chinese internet)
While it remains to be seen if China’s J-20 stealth fighter and upgraded J-20B will be a real match for America’s F-35 or F-22 in a one-on-one fight, the truth is, very few fights actually shake out that way. Pilots spend tons of time planning their combat operations to limit their exposure to high risk situations and to maximize the effectiveness of their stealth profile.
Thus far, it’s believed that China has built fewer than 50 J-20s, though production may pick up as China now seems comfortable using dated Russian power plants in their new fighters, rather than waiting on their long troubled WS-15 engine that was designed specifically for this application. Using these engine platforms may limit the overall performance of the jet, but it will also allow for more rapid production–which may create China’s only actual advantage in an air-to-air conflict.
Lockheed Martin produced only 186 total F-22 Raptors before the program was shut down, and today, far fewer are actually operational. In other words, America may have the world’s most capable air intercept fighter in the F-22, but it also has an extremely limited supply of them. The supply chain established for F-22 production has been largely cannibalized for the F-35, so there’s no hope in building any more either.
USAF F-22 Raptor (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Westin Warburton)
China’s J-20 stealth fighter, on the other hand, is still under production, and while Russian-sourced engines may make their fighter’s less capable than America’s stealth fighters, China may more than offset that disadvantage through sheer volume. Even if a J-20 doesn’t stand a chance in a scrap with an F-22, adding four or five more J-20s into the mix places the odds squarely in China’s favor.
Today, the United States maintains the largest fleet of stealth aircraft in service to any nation, but over time, that advantage could be eroded thanks to China’s massive industrial capabilities.
Two F-22 Raptors and a T-38 Talon from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, fly together during a 43rd Fighter Squadron Basic Course training mission Oct. 7, 2013 over Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. J. Wilcox)
America’s massive experience advantage in the skies
China’s J-20 stealth fighter may potentially end up a near competitor for America’s top stealth jets, and they may eventually overcome any advantage America’s fighters do have through volume, but there’s one integral place Chinese aviators still lag far behind American pilots: experience. America’s experience advantage manifests in two specific ways.
The first experiential advantage American pilots have on their side is practical flying time aboard their specific platforms. While the total number of required flight hours for pilots varies a bit from branch to branch, on average, a U.S. fighter pilot spends around 20 hours per month at the stick of their respective jets. That shakes out to around 240 flight hours per year devoted strictly to training for combat operations.
(U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)
Chinese fighter pilots, on the other hand, average less than half of that per year, with most pilots logging between 100 and 120 hours flying their particular airframes. With more than double the annual flying experience to pull from, American fighter pilots across the board will be better prepared for the rigors of combat.
The second facet of America’s experience-advantage is in real combat operations. The United States has been embroiled in the Global War on Terror for nearly two straight decades, and while most of the flying American fighter pilots have done throughout has been for the purposes of ground attack or close air support missions, there’s no denying that American aviators have more experience flying in a combat zone than their Chinese competition.
A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)
Although there have been very few dog fights in recent years, it’s worth noting that one of the world’s more recent fighter-to-fighter shoot-downs took place over Syria and involved a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet engaging a Syrian military Su-22 Fitter. American pilots, and just as importantly, America’s military leadership, are no strangers to war, and that offers a unique insight into future conflicts.
China’s massive military has undergone a significant overhaul in recent years that still continues to this day, but their relative inexperience and likely inferior stealth technology keeps China at a disadvantage in a notional conflict with the United States, especially in the air.
Chengdu J-20 (Chinese internet)
So do the J-20B’s upgrades even matter?
While China may still have a ways to go before they can claim the sort of stealth dominance the United States enjoys, the upgraded systems placed in China’s J-20B certainly do matter. As former Defense Secretary and famed Marine General James Mattis once said, America has no pre-ordained right to victory on the battlefield.
It’s absolutely essential that we take an objective look at China’s growing military threat and remember that they don’t need to match America’s broad capabilities to gain an advantage–they need only to counter them. Working to devise creative solutions that offset tactical advantages has been an integral part of warfare ever since humans first started sharpening sticks, and it remains essential today.
The J-20B doesn’t need to be a match for the F-22 Raptor if its leveraged properly and in sufficient numbers, and that alone warrants consideration.
A growing body of research indicates that there are likely billion of Earth-like planets that we haven’t yet discovered.
That’s good news for astronomers seeking alien life. Since Earth is our only example of a life-bearing world, scientists try to pinpoint planets like ours when they search for life elsewhere.
That’s what NASA’s Kepler space telescope set out to do. Kepler scanned the skies from 2009 to 2018, and it found over 4,000 planets outside our solar system. A dozen or so of these planets seem like prime real estate for life.
Kepler’s data has produced a growing body of research that indicates there are likely billions more Earth-like planets that we haven’t discovered.
Here’s why scientists are starting to think planets like Earth might be common.
Nine years’ worth of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed about 10,000 galaxies in one of the deepest, darkest patches of night sky in the universe.
Most of what we know about exoplanets comes from the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.
Kepler, which first launched in 2009, retired last year after it ran out of fuel. NASA passed the planet-hunting torch to the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April 2018.
From the International Space Station, astronaut Scott Kelly took this photo of Earth and the Milky Way. He posted it to Twitter on Aug. 9, 2015.
So Ford’s team built a simulation of a universe like ours and “observed” its stars as Kepler would have.
The simulation gave the scientists a sense of how many exoplanets Kepler would have detected in each hypothetical universe, and which kinds. They then compared that data to what the real Kepler telescope detected in our universe, to estimate the abundance of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.
This artist’s impression shows an imagined view from nearby one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth.
The result: up to 10 billion rocky, Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.
“There are significant uncertainties in what range of stars you label ‘sun-like,’ what range of orbital distances you consider to be ‘in the habitable zone,’ what range of planet sizes you consider to be ‘Earth-like,'” Eric Ford, a professor of astrophysics and co-author of the study, told Business Insider in August 2019. “Given those uncertainties, both 5 and 10 billion are reasonable estimates.”
An illustration of the binary star system Sirius. Sirius A (left) is the brightest star in the night sky of Earth, and it has a small blue companion called Sirius B.
Many of those planets could be Earth-like in other ways, too. Last week, a study found that 87% of Earth-like planets in two-star systems should have a stable axis tilt like Earth’s.
“Multiple-star systems are common, and about 50% of stars have binary companion stars,” Gongjie Li, a co-author on the study, said in a press release. “So, this study can be applied to a large number of solar systems.”
The surface of Mars.
That stable tilt is crucial for life on Earth. The tilt of Mars’s axis changes wildly over tens of thousands of years, creating drastic shifts in global climate that could prevent life from taking hold.
Some scientists think Mars’s changing axial tilt contributed to the disappearance of its atmosphere.
A star like our sun dies by casting off its outer layers of gas, leaving only the star’s hot core behind.
In an autopsy of six dead stars, researchers found that the shredded remains of rocky planets contained oxygen and other elements found in rocks on Earth and Mars.
The researchers used telescope data to calculate how much the iron in these rocks had oxidized — the process where iron chemically bonds with oxygen and rusts.
“The fact that we have oceans and all the ingredients necessary for life can be traced back to the planet being oxidized as it is. The rocks control the chemistry,” Edward Young, a co-author on the study, said in a press release. “We have just raised the probability that many rocky planets are like the Earth, and there’s a very large number of rocky planets in the universe.”
An artist’s representation of Venus with land and water.
Earths might even be common in our own solar system. Venus may have had oceans and a climate like Earth’s for billions of years.
In September 2019, researchers presented the results of five different simulations of the climate history of Venus. In all five scenarios, the planet maintained temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees Celsius for up to 3 billion years.
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft took this colorized picture of Venus on Feb. 14, 1990, from a distance of almost 1.7 million miles.
The researchers think that a mysterious catastrophe about 700 millions years ago transformed Venus into the uninhabitable hothouse it is today.
“Something happened on Venus where a huge amount of gas was released into the atmosphere and couldn’t be re-absorbed by the rocks,” Michael Way, a NASA scientist and study co-author, said in a press release.
It could have been magma bubbling up from below Venus’s surface, releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That would have trapped enough heat to reach the broiling surface temperatures that average 462 degrees Fahrenheit today.
“It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hothouse we see today,” Way added.
On the morning of June 22, 2019, astronauts in the ISS captured the plume of ash and gases rising from the erupting Raikoke Volcano on the Kuril Islands in the North Pacific.
Even that susceptibility to disaster is, in fact, quite Earth-like.
A supervolcano eruption or asteroid impact could one day make our planet uninhabitable. That could be the end of life on this Earth, but the research shows there may be plenty more Earth-like planets to spare.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
President Donald Trump announced “precision strikes” on Syria on April 13, 2018, in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed dozens of people there earlier this month.
Britain and France have joined the US in the military operation, Trump said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was suspected of orchestrating a chlorine attack against the rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital of Damascus, on April 7. Although exact figures were unclear, the attack is believed to have killed dozens, many of them children. The New York Times said at least 43 of the victims showed signs of having been exposed to “highly toxic chemicals.”
“This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime,” Trump said on Friday.
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price)
Trump called the incident a “heinous attack on innocent” Syrians and vowed that the US would respond: “This is about humanity; it can’t be allowed to happen.”
Trump also accused Russia and Iran of being “responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing” Assad’s regime: “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children,” Trump asked.
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep,” the president said. “No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.”
Trump continued: “Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran. But maybe not.”
Britain and France join in the military action
In a statement on Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized — within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.
“History teaches us that the international community must defend the global rules and standards that keep us all safe. That is what our country has always done. And what we will continue to do.”
An international uproar over chemical weapons
The chemical attack prompted several nations to respond, including the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel. Trump had reportedly talked to UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron this week, both of whom believed that the Syrian regime should be held accountable.
“I just want to say very clearly, that if they use chemical weapons, they are going to pay a very, very stiff price,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
Although Trump reportedly advocated for a broad military strike that would punish Syria, and to an extent, its allies Russia and Iran, he is believed to have been met with resistance from Mattis and other military officials, who feared the White House lacked a broad strategy, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The latest chemical attack follows the suspected Syrian-sponsored sarin attack in April 2017, which reportedly killed 89 people. The US responded by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase that was suspected of playing a role in the chemical attacks.
Despite overwhelming evidence of the government’s involvement in the attacks, Syria has denied responsibility for both incidents.
In addition to Assad’s denials, Russia, one of Syria’s staunchest allies, has also dismissed the allegations as “fake news,” and said its own experts found no “trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians.”
On Tuesday, Russia took its response a step further and vetoed the US-backed United Nations resolution that condemned the apparent chemical attack.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley rebuked the decision and called it a “sad day.”
“When the people of Douma, along with the rest of the international community, looked to this council to act, one country stood in the way,” Haley said. “History will record that. History will record that, on this day, Russia chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people.”
The venerable Sea Cobra first flew in 1969. Now, 50 years later, it’s descendant the Super Cobra is still a mainstay of Marine offense and defense, using missiles to destroy enemy strong points and firing its cannon to break up maneuver forces trying to hit American lines. Here are 11 photos from the Super Cobras of today and history.
(U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jason Grogan)
AH-1W Super Cobra sends 2.75-inch rockets into an enemy mortar position during a close air support mission at Wadi-us-Salaam cemetery, near Najaf, Iraq, in Aug. 2004.
The Sea and Super Cobra variants of the AH-1 have decades of service. But their predecessor, the AH-1 Cobra, dates back even further to Vietnam. It was originally pitched to the Army as the UH-1G, basically a “tweaked” utility helicopter.
While anyone with eyes could easily see the design was something new, Bell had just lost an attack helicopter competition to Lockheed, and a brand new attack helicopter would’ve required another competition, delaying the weapon’s debut and potentially setting up the craft for a loss to another manufacturer. So Bell played fast and loose with the rules and the Army played along.
(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Reece Lodder)
An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and UH-1Y Huey helicopter fly off the coast of the island of Oahu, toward Marine Corps Base Hawaii during maintenance and readiness flights, June 13, 2013.
But the Army eventually admitted the UH-1G Huey Cobra was an all-new craft, and it was re-designated the AH-1. According to an Air Space history, “Cobras would launch with twice as much ammunition as Huey gunships, would get to the target in half the time, and could linger there three times longer.” Troops loved it.
The Marines in Vietnam loved the helicopter as much as soldiers did, but when the Corps went shopping, they wanted a bird with two engines so that an engine failure between ship and shore wouldn’t doom the crew.
And so the AH-1J Sea Cobra was born, first flying in 1969 and making its combat debut in 1975, barely making it into the Vietnam War. Over the following years, the Marines upgraded the guns, missiles, and rockets and proceeded to the AH-1W Super Cobra designation in 1986.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne)
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Patrick Henry braces Airmen Andrew Jerauld as he signals to an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.
But the era of the Super Cobra is coming to an end. With the debut of the AH-1Z, the Marine Corps moved to the “Viper” designation, and the Vipers have already proven themselves in combat. So the last Super Cobras in the American inventory, the AH-1Ws, are slated to be pulled from active units in 2020 and sold or gifted to overseas allies.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)
A Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter supports a beach assault during Rim of the Pacific 2016, a maritime exercise in Hawaii, July 30, 2016.
Typically, it carries the 20mm cannon as well as pods for 2.75-inch Hydra rockets and Hellfire missiles, but it can still carry and employ those other missiles and rockets easily when necessary, giving commanders a flexible, fast platform that can kill everything from enemy radar sites to helicopters to ground troops and vehicles.
(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriela Garcia)
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Philip A. Gilbert supervises the preflight ground maintenance of an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 24, 2013.
Updates to the AH-1W granted it the ability to see in night vision and infrared, helping pilots to more quickly acquire and destroy targets at night or in bad weather. During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, 48 AH-1Ws destroyed 97 tanks, 104 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, 16 bunkers, and two anti-aircraft artillery sites with zero losses.
(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson)
A UH-1Y Venom and an AH-1W Super Cobra shoot 2.75 inch rockets through the night sky and meet their targets during close air support training operations at a range near Fort Drum, N.Y., March 16, 2017.
Typically, the AH-1Ws, and now the AH-1Z Vipers, are deployed alongside UH-1s in Marine light attack helicopter squadrons. These units specialize in close air support, reconnaissance, and even air interdiction. The Super Cobras’ Sidewinder missiles are crucial for that last mission, allowing the Marine pilots to take out enemy jets and helicopters.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso)
A U.S. Marine Corps Bell UH-1Y Huey helicopter and a Bell AH-1W Super Cobra take off on one of the first flights for the new Huey from Bastion Airfield, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2009.
While the Super Cobras are faster and have more weapons, the Hueys can carry multiple gunners which can spray fire in all directions. And the UH-1Y Hueys can also carry and deploy up to 10 Marines each, allowing the helicopters to drop an entire squad on the ground and then protect it as it goes to work.
(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Jones)
An AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopter takes part in a live fire exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 15, 2013.
The aircraft can fly up to 18,700 feet above sea level, allowing it to clear many mountain ranges while serving on the frontlines. But commanders have to be careful sending the helicopter into the thin air that high as its crews aren’t typically equipped with the robust oxygen equipment of bombers or jet fighters. So the Super Cobras try to stay at 10,000 feet or below.
Check out more photos of the Super Cobra:
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ashley McLaughlin)
(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Russell Midori)
(U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Dean B. Verschoor)
The terms “Happy Hour Club,” “Happy Hour Social Club,” and similar names, had been in use as the names of social club since at least the early 1880s. By June 1913, the crew of the USS Arkansas had started referring to their social gatherings as “Happy Hours.” The “Happy Hours” included entertainment, boxing and wrestling matches, music, dancing, and movies. By the end of World War I, the practice of holding “Happy Hours” had spread throughout the entire Navy.
Unfortunately, on June 1, 1914, the Secretary of the Navy issued General Order 99 prohibiting the use or introduction of alcohol on any ship or station. It was a good run for the Navy, but it wasn’t the only alcohol-related item inspired by the military. Happy Hour requires drinks, and here are some such drinks inspired by armed forces the world over.
This legendary drink was introduced to the army of the British East India Company at the height of the British Empire. Malaria, a constant problem with officers and troops in India, was treated at the time with quinine, which tastes bitter and terrible. So the officers started mixing theirs with sugar, lime, and gin to make the stuff drinkable. Today’s tonic water is much sweeter, contains less quinine, and is much less bitter as a result.
1-1/2 ounces Gin
1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Lime Wheel or Wedge Garnish (I prefer cucumber, especially with Hendrick’s Gin)
Fill highball glass with ice. Add Gin. Top with tonic water. Stir. Garnish if desired. Repeat. Keep Uber up-to-date.
2. Cuba Libre (aka Rum & Coke)
Cuba Libre was the battle cry for the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence from Spain at the turn of the 20th century. Coca-Cola first came to Cuba in the bags of U.S. troops who invaded the island as part of the Spanish-American War in 1898. In 1900, the cola started being exported to Cuba. According to Charles A. Coulombe, author of Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World, a bartender in Havana named Fausto Rodriguez first served the drink to a U.S. troop named “Barrio” who frequented his bar. Yes, this is a rum & coke, but it’s so much more.
1 ounce Bacardi Gold Rum
3 ounces Coca-Cola
Build in a tall glass over fresh ice. Lime wedge garnish.
A much less popular drink, this concoction was served to the lower ranking members of the British Army in the 1890’s to give them a bump of courage before a morning attack. More recently, British troops in the Korean War would give it out to U.S. military policemen after recovery missions. Some UK troops still consume Gunfire on special occasions, especially Christmas when officers serve it to their troops.
1 cup of hot, black tea
1 shot of rum
Legend has it the Sidecar was created when a WWI Army Captain couldn’t beat a cold. At his favorite bar in Paris, the bartender made this libation and named it after the motorcycle sidecar in which he was usually chauffeured.
1-3/4 ounces Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
Orange Twist Garnish
Combine liquids in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to blend and chill. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.
5. French 75
World War I fighter pilot Raoul Lufbery was of French and American descent, flying with the Lafayette Escadrille, American aviators who wanted to fight against Germany, even though the United States had not yet entered the war. For French pilots, champagne was the drink of choice. For Lufbery’s American side, that wasn’t enough – so he spiked his champagne with cognac, a mix he said made him feel like he was hit by a French 75mm howitzer.
1-1/4 ounce Hennessy Cognac
3/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (or a tad less)
Lemon Twist for Garnish
Combine Hennessy, lemon juice, and bar syrup in a cocktail shaker filled one third full of ice. Shake thoroughly for ten to fifteen seconds. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top off with champagne. Garnish with lemon twist. Note :If using Courvoisier rather than Hennessy, up the amount to 1-1/2 ounces of cognac to achieve the balance of flavor.
Basic trainees use airsoft M4s at Fort Jackson, SC (U.S. Army)
If you search online for airsoft guns, you’ll find a plethora of replica firearms that shoot 6mm plastic bbs. Airsoft guns can be used in a range of activities from casually plinking soda cans in the backyard to fully immersive military simulation events that can last for days. Naturally, U.S. military firearms like the venerable M4 carbine and M1911 pistol are popular choices for airsofters to carry into their bb battles. As a result, the airsoft market is awash with every conceivable variant of these, and other, real-world firearms. However, one gun has long been coveted by airsoft players for its popularity and rarity.
Used by armed forces, security agencies and police forces in at least 48 countries, Glock pistols are some of the most iconic firearms in the world. Though they are not standard issue with the U.S. military, their use in special forces units and general popularity led to a great demand for airsoft replicas. However, the Glock Company was very wary of their designs and trademark being used without their permission and aggressively combated airsoft replicas coming to the U.S. from Asia as counterfeit products.
U.S. soldiers receive instruction from their British counterparts on the Glock 17 (DVIDS)
Airsoft guns shipped from Asia bearing Glock logos were confiscated by U.S. Customs and were unable to be sold in the United States. To get around this, some retailers selling to U.S. customers would solder the trademarks off of the replica Glocks in order to get them past customs. The occasional entrepreneurial airsofter would make a trip to Japan and bring back a few airsoft Glocks declared only as “toy guns”, and sell them at an inflated price on the Glock-hungry American airsoft market.
However, despite the incredibly high demand for the airsoft version of Gaston Glock’s famous firearms, the replicas that did make it into the states were not perfect copies. Aside from the orange tips and the fact that they shot bbs rather than bullets, the airsoft Glock replicas were slightly wider than the pistols that served as their template. As a result, they did not fit in holsters designed for real Glocks.
Left: Elite Force really wants you to know that they have the Glock license (Author)
Right: If you force an Elite Force Glock into an OEM Glock holster, you’ll have a heck of a time getting it back out…trust me (Author)
In 2017, airsoft history was made when Glock finally gave out the license for Glock airsoft guns. The German manufacturer Umarex and its subsidiary, Elite Force, obtained a worldwide (except France and all French territories) exclusive license. The French company Cybergun obtained the Glock license in France and its territories. It’s a little confusing, but this detail is important.
With its parent company holding the license, Elite Force contracted Taiwan-based airsoft manufacturers Kien Well Toy Industrial Company and Vega Force Company to produce the licensed gas-powered airsoft Glocks. Both KWC and VFC had been making unlicensed airsoft Glocks and simply adjusted some of the markings on their guns to meet Elite Force and Glock’s requirements. However, even these licensed replicas suffered from the aforementioned fault of being too wide and not fitting in Glock holsters.
Credit where it’s due, the Elite Force Glock Gen 4s do have interchangeable backstraps (Author)
Enter Cybergun and its subsidiary, Spartan Military Law Enforcement. Holding licenses in France for FN Herstal, Sig Sauer, Famas, Colt, Kalashnikov, and now Glock, Spartan MLE contracts airsoft manufacturers to supply realistic training tools to military units and law enforcement agencies around the world. Since plastic bbs are extremely inexpensive compared to simunition rounds or other training solutions, many organizations have implemented airsoft as a training tool. Building their products to a high standard to simulate real firearms as closely as possible, Spartan MLE dictates precise specifications to their airsoft manufacturers.
The “Made in Taiwan” sticker rather clashes with the “Austria” marking (Author)
Though the Spartan MLE Glocks are made by VFC like the Elite Force Glocks, Spartan MLE required VFC to update their design to make the guns as close to the real thing as possible. As a result, Spartan MLE Glocks feature a more definitive trigger (Glock triggers are infamously mushy, so that says a lot about the poor triggers in the Elite Force Glocks). Though it’s unnecessary in airsoft, the slide on Spartan MLE Glocks reciprocates the same distance as real Glocks and locks back fully; Elite Force Glocks have a shorter cycle and lock a few millimeters shorter to save gas. Finally, Spartan MLE Glocks are a 1:1 scale replica of real Glocks and fit perfectly into their holsters.
Like a glove (Author)
Unfortunately for many American airsofters, the Spartan MLE Glocks can only be sold to military and law enforcement personnel. In fact, when Spartan MLE first sold the airsoft Glocks in the states, the guns had to be purchased in bulk by military units or police departments. Today, individual military and law enforcement personnel can submit their identification to airsoft retailers and purchase the airsoft Glocks for personal use.
Whether you want to train at home for your duty weapon or just have the most exclusive gun on the airsoft field, the Spartan MLE Glocks offer service members and law enforcement personnel the best replica on the market today.
An Air Force Special Operator fires a Glock 19 (U.S. Air Force)
John Newton was not what you’d call a lucky man. One day, he went off to visit some friends in London and was caught up along the way by a press gang – Royal Navy troops sent just to force people into serving aboard the king’s ships. He found himself a midshipman on the HMS Harwich, a position he of course tried to desert immediately. But he was found out, flogged in front of the ship’s company and even attempted suicide.
But the hard luck doesn’t end there. The man who penned the hymn “Amazing Grace” sure lived a life that would inspire such work.
If you ever have a bad day, remember John Newton through his autobiographical writing.
John Newton’s luck was bad even before his impressment. He was practically an orphan; his mother died of tuberculosis when he was six and he was forced to live with a cold, unfeeling relative. After joining the Navy, Newton renounced his faith and plotted to kill his shipmates. He was so difficult to work with, the crew of the Harwich decided to transfer him to the HMS Pegasus en route to India. The Pegasus was a slave trader, but the change in ships did not suit Newton’s temper. The Pegasus decided to leave him in West Africa during one of its slaving missions.
Not quite marooned but not far from it, Newton connected with an actual slaver. He joined the crew of a slave ship and openly challenged the captain by creating catchy songs about him filled with curses and language unlike anything anyone had ever heard. Sailors were known for their foul mouths, but Newton’s was so bad the slaver’s captain almost starved him to death for it.
That’s when a large storm hit their ship.
Life aboard a British slaver in the mid-1700s.
The storm nearly sunk the ship, but Newton and another crewman tied themselves to the ship’s pumps and began to work for 11 hours to keep it from capsizing. After their miraculous escape, Newton saw the storm as a message from God. He began to work harder, eventually commanding his own slaving ship and sailing between ports in Africa and North America. Eventually, the man collapsed from overwork. He returned to England and never sailed again.
It was in his adopted home of Olney where he wrote a series of autobiographical hymnals, including the well-known “Amazing Grace” as we call it today. In this work, Newton learned how he was a “wretch” due to his participation in the North Atlantic Slave Trade. In life, he set out to help abolish it in England. Newton new connected with William Wilberforce, the British Parliamentarian who led the charge against slavery in Britain and ended it in the Empire in 1807.
If you pay attention, you might sometimes see long, cigar-shaped pods firmly attached to the undersides of classic fighter and attack aircraft, sometimes with unit markings on them.
Known as “drop tanks,” these simple devices extend the range of the aircraft they’re hooked up to by carrying extra usable fuel. Back during World War II, however, attack pilots found a secondary use for drop tanks as improvised bombs, used to bombard enemy ground positions.
Drop tanks became popular in the late 1930s as a means for fighters to carry more fuel for longer escort and patrol missions. Easily installed and removed, they were a quick solution for the burgeoning Luftwaffe’s fighter and dive bomber fleets, which would prove to be instrumental in the opening months of WWII.
By the onset of WWII, air forces with both the Axis and Allies were experimenting with the use of drop tanks in regular combat operations. In the European theater, British and German pilots stuck to using their drop tanks as range-extenders. American fighter pilots changed the game.
(US Air Force)
Though it wasn’t common practice, P-47 Thunderbolt pilots were noted for their creativity in combat, switching their fuel feed selector to their internal tanks while making a low pass over an enemy position. With relative precision, they would jettison their drop tanks, still filled with a decent amount of fuel, before climbing away.
After releasing their tanks, pilots would swoop back around and line up again with their target. If they timed it right and aimed well, a long burst from their cannons would ignite the fuel left inside the tanks, blowing them up like firebombs.
This didn’t always work, however, especially as paper tanks became popular during the war as a method of conserving metal. So, by the end of the war, American crews in both the European and Pacific theaters had to refine their drop-tank technique.
Instead of pilots peppering the tanks with shells from their cannons, they’d simply fill up the tanks with a volatile mixture of fuel and other ingredients to form rudimentary napalm bombs, which would detonate upon impact.
(US Air Force)
By the time the Korean War started, the newly-formed US Air Force had cemented the practice of filling drop tanks with napalm and using them as makeshift bombs for low-level close air support missions. According to Robert Neer in his book, Napalm: An American Biography, British statesman Winston Churchill notably decried the practice of using napalm during the Korean conflict, calling it cruel and noting the increased likelihood of collateral damage and casualties during napalm strikes.
In the Vietnam War, the use of napalm expanded greatly, though factories now began building bombs specifically designed to carry napalm internally. Today, the US military has virtually ceased using napalm as a weapon. Here’s what life is like for US Army Tankers, today.
When he meets the love of his life, a hot nurse, she’ll take some of Desmond’s blood but fails to use the proper angle when inserting the needle.
At this angle, she would have poked right through the vein at the AC space (antecubital) and into his muscle — what little Andrew Garfield has.
2. A below-the-knee tourniquet
Quentin Tarantino may be a genius at writing great character dialogue, but his medical knowledge of how to treat a gunshot wound needs a little work.
The female on the table has a tourniquet in place below her knee to help stop any arterial bleeding. A typical piece of cloth wouldn’t help a GSW too much.
Fun Fact: Your tibia and fibula are located in below the knee and the artery runs in between the two bones to provide it protection. A tourniquet placed below the knee would have no effect in stopping a massive bleed.
3. Robbed the armory?
Veterans give military movies a lot of crap, especially the 2nd and 3rd acts of “Full Metal Jacket.” But this time we’re calling out how could Gomer Pyle managed to snag a rifle and ammo while in boot camp from the armory (where they would have been stored).
Let’s face it, Pyle’s character wasn’t a genius and doubtfully would be able to pull off a single rifle heist.
4. Shoot the rear tank?
In “Fury” we got an opportunity to experience the dangers of being a tanker during WWII. In the film, David Ayer chose to make the Germans shoot and destroy the last American tank in a ranger file — even though he knew that would not be an accurate military tactic.
That would have been great if the real Germans used such ineffective tactics during the war — it would have been over way sooner. (Source: Sony/Screenshot)
In real life, they should have hit the tank in front, forcing the rest to halt and stopping the line. But if they had destroyed the front tank (War Daddy’s), the credits would roll because the movie would now be over.
Okay, Tropic Thunder isn’t technically a war movie, but it did win Tugg Speedman the fictional Oscar for best actor for “Tropic Blunder,” the true story behind the making of the most expensive fake true war story ever.
But in this helicopter insertion scene, there’s no way the men could hear the director’s instructions in a loud helicopter cargo bay (with the doors open) without proper headsets.
If any movie producers and directors out there need help on military consulting, feel free to contact us.
After the Second World War, the Air Force established their version of a LRC, Project X, which would be used as one of the four means to evaluate students of the Squadron Officers Course at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
“What we are trying to replicate for the students is being under stress and how you manage people under stress with limited resources, limited time and trying to solve a complex problem with a group of people with different personalities, different ways of leading and ways they want to be followed,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Clayton, Air University assistant professor of leadership.
The primary purposes of the course are to improve the students’ leadership ability by affording the student an opportunity to apply the lessons learned in formal leadership instruction. Secondly, to assess the students by measuring the degree to which certain leadership traits and behaviors are possessed. It’s also used to provide the students with a means of making a self-evaluation to determine more accurately their leadership ability and to provide the opportunity to observe the effects of strengths and weaknesses of others during a team operation.
Most importantly, the LRC is used to develop diverse individuals as future leaders in the Air Force.
Stress plays an important part in the evaluation of each leader as it is through stress the critical leader processes and skills will be observed by the evaluator. To produce a stressful environment for the working team, certain limitations are placed on them.
Officer trainees work together to overcome an obstacle at the Project X leadership reaction course. The course is designed to improve leadership traits to Air-men attending Squadron Officer School, Officer Training School, Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy and other schools on Maxwell AFB.
According to the LRC standard of operations, the course operation is designed so that each individual will be a leader for a task-one time and serve as a team member or observer the remainder of the time. For each task there is a working team and an observing team. The working team is responsible for completing the mission while the observing team acts as safety personnel, overwatch elements, support elements, or competition.
The tasks themselves vary. For example, one task may be to get personnel and equipment across a simulated land mine without touching the ground by building a makeshift bridge from supplies. Another task may incorporate fear and more physical endurance by getting a team and gear over a high wall. Each task has a time limit and unique problems to solve the mission.
Although completing the mission isn’t the goal of the LRC.
“As a leader, you have to recognize some of these people may be scared to do this task or to move across this task with me. So, how do you motivate those people? Do you have the emotional intelligence to understand that you may be able to get through this task on your own, but other people may be scared to do it, so how do you understand that? How do you communicate to your people, motivate them, lead them by example, inspire them to follow you and get through the task? These tasks are designed to cause that stress and to make you apply the leadership skills you learned in the classroom,” Clayton said.
The whole concept is getting students to identify what type of leader they are as well as understand and identifying leadership traits in others.
Every recruit needs to make it through Basic Training before they earn the right to be called Soldiers. Drill sergeants have just two goals: to break the civilian out of their platoon and to give recruits a crash course in military lifestyle.
Some drill sergeants may impart all of their knowledge onto recruits in as short a time as possible. Others may humorously scold their platoon. Others still may take their anger out on their platoon. It’s impossible to say exactly which kind of experience is in store for recruits because each drill sergeant is different.
But what is near universal is their commitment to maintaining order and discipline. When they say any of the following, you know heads are about to roll.
Don’t worry about not being physically fit… The drill sergeant has a plan for that.
(Photo by Sgt. First Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
“Half right, face.”
The command “Half right, face” means that you shift your current facing 45 degrees to the right. This opens up the formation for some, uh, “remedial training.”
And I don’t mean the standard “front-leaning rest position, move!” (translation: push-ups). That gets old after a while. No, instead, drill sergeants will come up with the most off-the-wall exercises that will make you question your physical limits.
Their vulgar vocabulary is astounding. You’ll hear so many new variations on expletives that Merriam and Webster can’t even keep up.
(Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart)
“Toe the f*cking line”
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about “toeing the line.” Everyone in the bay stands to receive the next command from drill sergeants.
What sets this one apart is when they sprinkle some flavorful expletives in there. This means, specifically, that someone just became the reason that everyone’s about to feel some wrath.
If you make them repeat themselves, they’ll have to make EVERYONE can hear it.
(Photo by Spc. Darius Davis)
“…I said,” followed by whatever they previously said
Drill sergeants shouldn’t have to repeat themselves. There’s a general understanding that everything needs to be broken down so simply that even a fresh-out-of-high-school kid can comprehend.
If the drill sergeant tells you to raise your duffel bag above your head, do not hesitate and make them repeat the order. The outcome is never pretty.
They’re just helping you on your PT test, really. How nice of them?
(Photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato)
The military moves at an insane pace. Run here, run there. Be there 30 minutes prior to being 30 minutes early. There is no escaping this pace.
Drill sergeants know that recruits are given near-impossible timelines to achieve a given goal, like eating an entire plate of chow in five seconds. It’s not about making it within time, though. It’s about getting recruits as close to that impossible goal as possible. Continually practice until every possible second is shaved off a task. If a drill sergeant is reminding you to hurry up, you’re taking too long.
There are few joys in being a drill sergeant — laughing at stupidity is one of them.
(Photo by Capt. Loyal Auterson)
“Hey, battle! Come here!”
On the rarest of occasions, a recruit may do something so impressive that one drill sergeant will gloat to another and, if the stars have aligned, praise may be given to that recruit.
More often than not, when a drill sergeant calls for another drill sergeant, it’s to laugh at how foolish a recruit was. Now, both drill sergeants will take turns smoking the stupid out of said reruit.
If they find it, fess up quickly and save everyone the headache. Others may still get smoked for “letting you lose it,” but hey, at least you’re honest.
(Photo by Sgt. First Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
“Whose ____ is this?”
Every other Soldier knows that “gear adrift is a gift.” Every other Soldier knows that “there’s only one thief in the Army.” Later on down the road, it sucks when your gear gets “tactically re-purposed,” but it’s just part of the lifestyle.
But recruits do not have the luxury of taking it on the chin and buying a replacement. If the drill sergeant finds anything left alone, like an unsecured wall locker, they will teach everyone the importance of proper gear security.
Many years down the line, if you ever run into them again outside of training, then (and only then) might you get that chance of receiving a friendly hello — but don’t hold your breath.
“Are we friends now?”
Don’t ever lose your military bearing — the drill sergeant won’t. Never forget that in order to stand in front of your wide-eyed platoon, a drill sergeant must have achieved their current rank, earned a selection to drill-sergeant school (which usually requires multiple combat deployments), gone through the rigors of said school, and have endured many cycles before you.
So, you shot 37/40 on your first try. This does not impress them to the point of friendship.
U.S. Air Force officials are looking to upgrade the B-52 Stratofortress‘ bomb load at a time when the service, and the Defense Department as a whole, is preparing for near-peer rivals.
In June 2018 the service posted a request for information survey to identify potential contractors that could offer insights on how to best integrate newer and much heavier bombs under the aircraft’s wings.
Given that the aircraft is expected to fly for another 30 years, the potential upgrade — part of the Heavy Weapon Release Pylon Program — speaks to the Air Force’s initiative to stay ahead of emerging threats, particularly aggressors in the Pacific, according to a service official.
“This is not a requirement that came out of nowhere,” the service official told Military.com on background July 9, 2018. “There are compelling reasons for why we have to go down that road.”
While specific munitions haven’t been advertised, the goal is to quadruple the bomb size. Officials want pylons “capable of carrying multiple weapons in the 5,000-lb to 20,000-pound weight class,” according to the RFI. The current common pylon maximum is for 5,000-pound munitions.
A B-52 Stratofortress
The external pylon “was designed in 1959 and has been in service since the 1960s. When it was introduced, there wasn’t a requirement nor did anyone foresee a need to carry weapons heavier than 5000 lbs,” the RFI states.
According to the 2018 NDS, “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.
“It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” the NDS says.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has on multiple occasions referenced China’s quick pace in technological development, which is driving the service to react. There has been explicit recognition “of the re-emergence of great power competition,” she has said.
“[China] is modernizing very quickly. They’re modernizing their air defenses, but also their air-to-air capability is really modernizing across the board. It is the pacing threat for the U.S. Air Force because of the pace of their modernization,” she told reporters at the Pentagon in February 2018.
The official also pointed to the bomber road map, which enhances the B-52 aircraft as a whole.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)
The move marked a significant shift to bring back the B-52H, which previously filled the continuous bomber presence mission from 2006 to 2016 before the B-1 briefly took over.
Bringing the B-52 back meant putting a nuclear-capable bomber in theater at a time when relations between the U.S. and North Korea were largely unpredictable, and as China continued to flex its muscles in the South China Sea.
“Nothing wrong with competition, nothing wrong with having strong positions, but when it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis said.
As for the B-52 bomb pylon upgrade, the program is in the early stages.
The RFI “is only for market research of possible contractor sources,” said Stephen Palmer, a contracting officer with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center who specializes in the B-1 Lancer and B-52 programs at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
“[We] are not asking for any contractor to provide a proposal at this time,” he said in an email.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.