Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time - We Are The Mighty
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Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Shortly after Orville and Wilbur stopped making bicycles and started hanging out around Kitty Hawk, Hollywood took to making movies about those who venture into the wild blue yonder.


Here are the best Air Force characters they’ve created over the years. Remember: half of these guys are real people. That’s what makes being in the military so great – the chance to do something someone might make a movie about one day.

1. Captain Virgil “The Cooler King” Hilts — “The Great Escape”

The Great Escape is one of the best heist-style films of all time. It’s also one of the best military films of all time, based on the true story of a group of Allied POWs put together in a Nazi “escape-proof” camp because of their ability to escape from POW camps.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Captain Hilts of the Army Air Corps constantly frustrates guards with escape attempts, landing him in solitary confinement, or the “cooler.” Hilts is easily #1 on this list, not only because he’s depicted on screen by Steve “The King of Cool” McQueen, but also because the real guy this character is based on David M. Jones.

Jones was an Air Corps pilot who started World War II as a Doolittle Raider (the character can also be seen in “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”), and flew sorties over North Africa before being captured and held by the Germans for nearly three years. Jones survived the war and went on to a 37-year career in the Air Force.

2 . Lt. Col. James Rhodes aka War Machine — “Iron Man”

James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes is not based on a real character, though having the War Machine around IRL would make life a lot easier for much of the Air Force (and the lawless areas of Pakistan too… probably).

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Rhodes is the stable, dependable version of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (In the Marvel Comic, Rhodey is a Marine). Colonel Rhodes is also Stark’s best friend and the DoD liaison to Stark Industries, which means he gets to pal around on private jets and hang with the Avengers while taking down terrorists and robot drones (that aren’t American).

 3. Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton — “BAT 21”

BAT 21 is a the dramatized story of the rescue of Lt Col. Hambleton (whose call sign was BAT 21 Bravo), the largest, longest and most complex search and rescue operation of the Vietnam War. He was the navigator on a USAF EB-66 aircraft and an expert in signals intelligence whose aircraft was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Hambleton was the only survivor, but his parachute took him well behind the North Vietnamese lines.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

With the amount of classified information in Hambleton’s head, capture by the communists would have been extremely detrimental to U.S. security. Hambleton (played by Gene Hackman, who is awesome in every movie) makes radio contact with Birddog and makes his way South to be picked up.

To communicate his intended path, Hambleton, in true Air Force fashion, uses a code comprised of various golf courses he knows. The actual rescue of Hambleton took 11 days, six American troops’ lives, a lot more ARVN lives, and another plane being shot down.

In real life Hambleton was rescued by Navy SEAL Thomas R. Norris (who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the rescue) and a South Vietnamese Navy Petty Officer.

4. Capt. John Yossarian — “Catch-22”

Alan Arkin headlines the legendary cast of Catch-22 as Yossarian, a US Army Air Forces B-25 Bombardier, stationed in the Mediterranean during WWII. He’s committed to flying the dangerous missions as quickly as possible so he can go home, but his squadron commander keeps raising the required number of missions.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Yossarian can’t even claim a mental breakdown to go home because famously, Airmen “would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he’d have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t, he was sane and had to.”

5. Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer — “Good Morning, Vietnam”

Another real Airman, A2C Cronauer is an Armed Forces Radio Service DJ stationed in Vietnam whose DJ style is less than appreciated by his superiors but beloved by the men in the field.

 

When Cronauer is suspended for his style and his determination to read the news, the command is flooded with letters demanding his reinstatement. Few things in life are more satisfying than someone thumbing their nose at a stodgy old command.

Cronauer’s real-life show was called “Dawn Buster” and its opening was immortalized forever by Robin Williams’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM.

 6. Hannibal Lee — “The Tuskegee Airmen”

Some points have to be added when the whole world is against you, even your own government. Lee was loosely based on Robert W. Williams, an actual Tuskegee Airman who helped co-author the screenplay.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

In the film (and IRL), the famous group of African American pilots struggling to join the US war effort as capable fighter pilots finally get their chance when Hannibal Lee (Fishburne) and his wingman get the chance to protect B-17s over Italy and sink a destroyer for good measure.

 7. Robert “Dutch” Holland — “Strategic Air Command”

Jimmy Stewart plays Holland, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player who is on inactive reserve in the Air Force who gets recalled to active duty for 21 months, which would be unbelievable for anyone else but Jimmy Stewart. Stewart, whose family military tradition dated back to the Civil War, enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private, was an officer pilot within a year, and so enjoyed bombing Germans in his spare time he would eventually retire from the Air Force Reserve after 27 years. Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
 

Holland’s life is on constant hold as he is on alert status to deter the Soviets from starting WWIII. He forces a landing of a damaged aircraft in Greenland after his crew bailed out then flies new jets to Japan with a broken arm from that landing, an injury which ends both his military career and his baseball career, and he seems mildly okay with it.

8. Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper — “Dr. Strangelove”

A commie-obsessed Air Force General, he starts World War III after describing a Communist plot to pollute the bodily fluids of Americans. He launches an all-out attack on the USSR and refuses to give the codes that will belay the launch orders.

Air Force Movie Characters

While the Kubrick’s masterpiece obviously isn’t based on a real war, the crazed General is based on Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who once threatened to bomb the Soviet Union back into the Stone Age. 

9. Colonel Jack O’Neil — “Stargate”

Who better to lead a team through an alien-created wormhole navigated by hieroglyphs uncovered in Giza than a career Air Force Special Operations officer? No one, obviously, as Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell, with a severe flat top) takes a day off of contemplating suicide to lead one last mission to destroy the Stargate and ends up saving humanity by beaming a nuclear weapon onto an alien ship.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

It’s not (just) science fiction. It’s what we do every day.

10. American Astronaut George Taylor — “Planet of the Apes (1968)”

George Taylor’s background doesn’t specifically mention his Air Force affiliation, but does mention he was a West Point grad in 1941 and flew missions in World War II and Korea, and his then becoming an astronaut is clearly indicative of a U.S. Army Air Corps to Air Force transition.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

So the Air Force gets Charlton Heston (also Marky Mark Wahlberg‘s Capt. Leo Davidson from the 2001 remake, clearly identified his tribe as United States Air Force). Taylor earns a spot on this list because of Charlton Heston’s iconic performance.

Edit 5/28 2:07 pm:

Twitterati and US Air Force Pararescue Jumper @PJMatt reminded me about the 1983 epic The Right Stuff and Sam Shepard’s badass take on the legendary USAF test pilot Chuck Yeager.

The author hangs his head in shame as both a film student and Air Force veteran. Few scenes in cinema rival the scene where Yeager is walking away from a smoldering heap, badly burned, holding his parachute because anyone who’s ever met Yeager in real life knows that’s the kind of badass sh*t he did every day of his career.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Articles

The first aerial refueling was straight-up nuts

Aerial refueling has always been risky business. Tankers fly through the sky, loaded to the gills with flammable fuels while dragging long hoses or booms behind them as jets chase after them like hungry mosquitos.


But if that’s risky, the first aerial refueling was straight-up crazy. Wesley Mays, a famous daredevil of the late-1910s and early-1920s, climbed from one biplane onto another with a 5-gallon jug of fuel strapped to his back.

Three men worked together to pull off the stunt. Mays, the daredevil, was joined by two pilots, Frank Hawks and Earl Daugherty. Mays rode along with his gas can in the plane piloted by Hawks. Then, he climbed out of Hawks’ passenger seat and walked onto the right wing tip.

From there, he waited for Daugherty to bring his wingtip in range and grabbed it. Mays lifted himself onto the wing and worked his way between the planes’ wings and into the cockpit. He poured the gas into the engine and strapped himself into his waiting seat, sealing his place in history.

The Army Air Corps got in on the aerial refueling action 2 years later in Jul. 1923, but they needed a way to transfer much more than 5-gallons at a time. So they opted to use a tanker aircraft, a hose, and a receiving aircraft. First Lt. Virgil Hines flew a DH-4B outfitted as the tanker ahead of 1st Lt. Frank W. Seifert’s DH-4B receiver. Hines dangled the hose behind and beneath his aircraft where Seifert could reach it.

 

The fuel was transported without incident, but engine trouble in Seifert’s plane prevented the duo from achieving a planned endurance record. Still, they developed techniques that allowed another Air Corps team to set the record with a 37-hour, 25-minute flight in Aug. 1923.

Today, aerial refuelings are usually conducted by specially designed aircraft, though modified fighters and attack jets such as the F/A-18 have been pressed into service when needed. The Navy has even looked at using its unmanned X-47B as an automated tanker, but the two aircraft sit in hangars and have not yet been modified for the test missions.

Articles

Green Beret describes harrowing tank attack during Battle of Ben Het

When people think of the Vietnam War, they think of helicopter-borne Marines or soldiers taking on Viet Cong guerillas. They think of F-105s and F-4s going “downtown” to Hanoi, or ARC LIGHT B-52 missions. They don’t think about tanks slugging it out.


That’s the Arab Israeli-Wars, over on the other side of the continent of Asia.

Well, contrary to many people’s preconceptions, there was tank-versus-tank action in the Vietnam War. Not exactly on the scale of the Arab-Israeli wars, but when you’re the one being shot at, you’re dealing with a significant action.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Ben Het was a special forces camp overlooking one of the many infiltration points into South Vietnam from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Among the units there were Operational Detachment Alpha A-244, which consisted of 12 Green Berets. They were backed up by a number of Montagnard tribesmen, a battery of 175mm howitzers, and M48 Patton main battle tanks, and had the mission of tracking movements by North Vietnamese troops in the area. When they found the enemy, they particularly liked calling in air strikes by F-4 Phantoms and A-1 Skyraiders.

On March 3, 1969, the North Vietnamese attacked the camp with a force that included PT-76 amphibious tanks. These tanks had a 76mm gun, but were lightly armored. In that battle, the M48 tanks engaged the PT-76s. While one M48 was damaged, with two crewmen dead, at least two of the North Vietnamese tanks were also destroyed, along with a BTR-50 armored personnel carrier.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
A PT-76 that was destroyed during the Battle of Ben Het. (US Army photo)

The North Vietnamese were beaten back, and the Green Berets proceeded to evacuate their dead and wounded. Below, listen as retired Maj. Mike Linnane discusses his perspective of the Battle of Ben Het.

Articles

The 9 coolest things militaries have done with the M113

Though one wouldn’t expect much from an armored vehicle developed by the Food Machinery Corporation, the M113 has become ubiquitous on the battlefield. In nearly 60 years of service, the M113 has found its way into the inventories of over 20 different countries and served in war zones across the globe.


As various militaries realized the utility of the platform, they greatly modified them for their own needs. Here are 9 of the coolest examples:

1. Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
M113 armored cavalry assault vehicle with three machine gun turrets (two M60 / one M2 Browning .50″). (Photo: U.S. Army)

Early in its service in Vietnam, it became apparent that the M113 needed to be more than just a “battle taxi” — it needed to bring some guns to the fight. To remedy this, Vietnamese, and later American, units made field-expedient improvements that led to the development of the Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle, or ACAV.

Mounting a single .50 caliber machine gun and two M60’s behind armored gun shields, the ACAV became a rolling gun platform that could deliver massive firepower.

2. M132 Armored Flamethrower

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
M132 Armored Flamethrower on display at the War Remnants Museum. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The jungles of Vietnam led to another development of the M113 — the M132 Flamethrower. Replacing the cupola with a flame turret and filling the passenger compartment with 200 gallons of flame fuel, the M132 was the mechanized equivalent of a fire-breathing dragon.

3. Missile Launcher

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Pershing missile launch at Hueco Range, Ft. Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Army Photograph by Warren C. Weaver)

Numerous countries used the M113 platform to launch missiles, particularly anti-aircraft missiles. But, for the United States the M113 would join the nuclear triad when it was modified as a Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) for the Pershing I nuclear missile system. Other modified 113’s served as support vehicles in these operations.

4. Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
M113 Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle in the Puckapunyal Army Camp, Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Wiki user Bukvoed)

Almost as soon as the Australians received the M113’s, they began splicing them together with other components. First, they took the turrets from their retiring Saladin armored cars and mounted them on the M113 to make the Fire Support Vehicle.

This vehicle was just an interim measure, though, while the Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle was being developed. This vehicle used the newer turret from British FV101 Scorpion tanks along with upgrades to the hull.

5. Air Defense Anti-Tank System

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
The Air Defense Anti-Tank System (ADATS) is a dual-purpose short range surface-to-air and anti-tank missile system based on the M113A2 vehicle. The ADATS missile is a laser-guided supersonic missile with a range of 10 kilometres, with an electro-optical sensor with TV and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). The carrying vehicle also has a conventional two-dimensional radar with an effective range of over 25 kilometres. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Air Defense Anti-Tank System, or ADATS, was a unique dual-purpose system designed to fight low flying aircraft and oncoming tanks. The Canadians mounted it on the ever-versatile M113 for mobility purposes. Armed with eight missiles and a power search radar, this created a formidable piece of defensive equipment.

6. M163 VADS

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Crewmen stand in the hatches of an M163 Vulcan self-propelled anti-aircraft gun of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during an exercise at the National Training Center. The M163 consists of an M168 Vulcan 20 mm cannon with radar fire control mounted on a modified M113 armored personnel carrier. (U.S. Army photo)

The United States used the M113 for a variety of anti-aircraft platforms, but the coolest was the M163 VADS.

VADS, or Vulcan Air Defense System, was the anti-aircraft platform for the M61 20mm Gatling Gun used in American fighter aircraft. With all systems mounted on the venerable M113, the VADS, in conjunction with short-range missile systems, provided a highly mobile and deadly effective anti-aircraft system.

In Israeli service, the VADS was credited with downing a MiG 21 while under heavy fire and transitioning from ground targets to aerial.  

7. Arisgator

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
An Arisgator on display in Rome. (Photo by Heinz Guderian)

In the late 1990s, the Italian defense firm ARIS SpA made one of the most radical modifications to the M113 by making it fully ship-to-shore capable.

The M113 was always designed to be amphibious but the modifications made by ARIS, known as the Arisgator, put the M113 in league with the USMC’s Amtracs. Buoyancy was improved by adding a long bow section as well as two stern sections that also mounted propellers to move the 113 through the water.  

8. Danish Mk I/Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
The Danish M113A2 MK I DK (Wildcat).

What do you get when you mount a Swiss autocannon and a German machine gun in an Italian turret and marry that to and American APC?

You get Denmark’s version of the M113, known as the Mk I. Mounting a Oerlikon-Contraves 25mm autocannon, a German MG3 coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, and an Italian Oto Melara turret with advanced optics the Danes got an IFV just to their liking.

In the same vein, but uniquely more American, the Egyptians upgraded their large fleet of 113’s with the powerful turret assembly from the M2 Bradley to create the Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

9. Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Soldiers from 2nd platoon, E-company, Battle Group 7, Task Force Uruzgan move toward Mirabad in an YPR765 armored infantry fighting vehicle. (ISAF photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Collins, U.S. Navy)

The Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, or AIFV, was initially sought by the United States Army for its own Infantry Fighting Vehicle but when the M2 Bradley was chosen instead other governments picked up the idea.

The AIFV uses a modified M113 platform and mounts a one-man turret with a 25mm autocannon and a 7.62mm machine gun set behind the engine on the vehicle’s right side. The crew compartment holds seven troops, facing out, with five firing ports for mounted fighting.

Articles

Senate committee renews medical marijuana provision in VA Bill

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time


Senate lawmakers on Thursday once again signaled to the Veterans Affairs Department they want VA doctors able to talk to patients about use of medical marijuana.

By a 20-10 bipartisan vote, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the military construction and veterans legislation allowing agency doctors to make recommendations to vets on the use of medical marijuana — something they can’t do now even in states where cannabis prescriptions are legal.

“We should be doing everything we can to make life easier for our veterans,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said in a statement. “Prohibiting VA doctors from talking to their patients about medical marijuana just doesn’t make sense. The VA shouldn’t be taking legal treatment options off the table for veterans.”

Medical marijuana is being prescribed in some states for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, even though its effectiveness remains questionable.

The legislative amendment was sponsored by Merkley and Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, who successfully got the same amendment through the committee in November, only to see it stripped from the bill by House lawmakers a month later.

The latest language still has to be considered by the full Senate and then be sent once more to the House for approval.

The VA won’t comment on the lawmakers’ actions on medical marijuana, but its website quotes a report by Marcel Bonn-Miller of the National Center for PTSD at the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, and Glenna Rousseau of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont, dismissing marijuana as useful in treating veterans.

“Controlled studies have not been conducted to evaluate the safety or effectiveness of medical marijuana for PTSD,” the report states. “Thus, there is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD. In fact, research suggests that marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.”

The federal government in 2014 approved a study on medical marijuana to be conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a California-based nonprofit research center. But the research hasn’t yet been completed.

Articles

ISIS militants are now using civilians as bait

The Pentagon says Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul are holding civilians in buildings by force and then deliberately attracting coalition strikes.


A Pentagon spokesman on March 30 said the U.S. military will soon release a video showing IS fighters herding people into a building, then firing from the structure to bait coalition forces.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ push toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The comments come as the U.S. military responds to criticism from within Iraq and internationally over a separate incident in which as many as 240 civilians are believed to have been killed.

“What you see now is not the use of civilians as human shields,” said Colonel Joe Scrocca, a spokesman for the coalition. “Now it’s something much more sinister.”

He said militants are “smuggling civilians so we won’t see them” into buildings and then attempting to draw an attack.

He said he was working on declassifying a video showing militants conducting such an operation.

Human rights group Amnesty International, Pope Francis, and others have urged for better protection for civilians caught in the war, with calls intensifying after a separate March 17 explosion in the Mosul al-Jadida district, killing scores of people.

The U.S. military previously acknowledged that coalition planes probably had a role in the explosion and subsequent building collapse, but it said the ammunition used was insufficient to explain the amount of destruction observed.

Officials said they suspect the building may have been booby-trapped or that the damage may have been caused by the detonation of a truck bomb.

U.S.-backed forces are attempting to push IS fighters out of west Mosul after having liberated the less-populated eastern part of Iraq’s second-largest city.

Scrocca estimated that some 1,000 militants remain in west Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, down from 2,000 when the assault was launched on February 19.

They are facing about 100,000 Iraqi government forces, he added.

Humor

15 Star Wars memes we can all relate to

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Star Wars memes are classic. Military memes are hilarious. So we grabbed up some of our favorite Star Wars memes and gave them military tag lines.


1. “Lance Corporal has too much…time…on his hands.”

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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2. We never realized Imperial visibility was so bad until this happened.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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“What are you thinking about, Lieutenant?”

“Oh you know, Army stuff.”

3. What recruits hear when their drill instructors say, “We’re going to the rifle range.”

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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 4. ISIS is no match for the Dark Side.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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 5. When it’s time to wake up the new fire watch.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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6. Every private ever getting his weapon for the first time.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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7. When Doc puts you on bedrest for two broken legs, four busted ribs, and a hernia, but your command is having none of this “broke” shit.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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8. Every Drill Sergeant ever.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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9. Why the Air Force doesn’t have an infantry.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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10. The range of expressions during LIBO brief when the Colonel just said for the tenth time, “And I’ll leave you with this…”

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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11. When your platoon sergeant is two weeks away from his EAS.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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12. Walking away from the range safety brief like, “Was anyone even listening to what he said?”

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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13. If Lance Corporals were in charge of recruiting posters.

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14. If pilots were in charge of recruiting posters.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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 15. When you suddenly realize after 7 months on a ship that this IS your Gunny’s happy face.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
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Articles

THAAD missile system has China and North Korea spooked

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Lockheed Martin


The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — and we got to spend a day with it.

Meet the US’s THAAD system.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a unique missile-defense system with unmatched precision, capable of countering threats around the world with its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement.

“It is the most technically advanced missile-defense system in the world,” US Army Col. Alan Wiernicki, commander of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, told Business Insider in an interview.

“Combatant commanders and our allies know this, which puts our THAAD Batteries in very high global demand,” Wiernicki added.

And that demand seems poised to rise.

Deploying America’s THAAD

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
AiirSource Military | YouTube

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed his country had developed miniaturized nuclear warheads, which can be mounted to long-range ballistic missiles.

The rogue regime’s latest announcement is a follow-through pass to last month’s long-range-rocket launch and January’s purported hydrogen-bomb test.

Negotiations to equip South Korea with THAAD have been ongoing since South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s October 2015visit to the White House.

As of yet, there has not been a formal move to deploy the missile system.

“The complexity of global-security challenges is increasingly causing combatant commanders to request more Army forces,” US Army Capt. Gus Cunningham told Business Insider.

“With that said, THAAD is ready to respond to any request, at any time,” Cunningham added.

If a THAAD battery were deployed to South Korea, depending on its exact location, nearly all incoming missiles from the North could be eliminated, as displayed by the following graphic from The Heritage Foundation.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Heritage.org

Meanwhile, China is spooked over the potential THAAD assignment to South Korea.

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong warned that basing the US-made THAAD missile system in South Korea would irreparably damage relations between the countries, The Chosunilbo reported.

THAAD deployment, Qiu said, “would break the strategic balance in the region and create a vicious cycle of Cold War-style confrontations and an arms race, which could escalate tensions.”

During his most recent visit to Beijing, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the US was “not hungry or anxious or looking for an opportunity to deploy THAAD,” CNN reported.

“THAAD is a purely defensive weapon. It is purely capable of shooting down a ballistic missile it intercepts. And it is there for the protection of the United States,” Kerry said.

“If we can get to denuclearization, there’s no need to deploy THAAD,” he added.

How THAAD’s ‘hit to kill’ lethality works

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
USMDA | YouTube

Currently, there five THAAD batteries — each of approximately 100 soldiers — assigned to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

One of those THAAD batteries was deployed to Guam in April 2013 in order to deter North Korean provocations and further defend the Pacific region.

Impressively, the THAAD interceptor does not carry a warhead. Instead, the interceptor missile uses pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit to kill” strikes to incoming ballistic threats inside or outside the atmosphere.

Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles at once, depending on the severity of the threat.

Lockheed Martin’s missile launcher is just one element of the four-part antimissile system. The graphic below shows the rest of the components needed for each enemy-target interception.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Photo: Raytheon

THAAD’s first line of defense is its radar system.

“We have one of the most powerful radars in the world,” US Army Capt. Kyle Terza, a THAAD battery commander, told Business Insider.

Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar is used to detect, track, and discriminate ballistic missiles in the terminal (or descent) phase of flight.

The mobile radar is about the size of a bus and is so powerful that it can scan areas the size of entire countries, according to Raytheon.

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar | Raytheon

Once an enemy threat has been identified, THAAD’s Fire Control and Communications (TFCC) support team kicks in. If there is a decision to engage the incoming missile, the launcher fires an interceptor to hunt for its target.

Here’s what the launch looks like from far away:

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
BMDA | YouTube

While in flight, the interceptor will track its target and obliterate it in the sky.

The following infrared imagery shows THAAD demolishing the target:

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
USMDA | YouTube

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from the MDA’s director, Vice Admiral J.D. Syring, given before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the MDA, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

While other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD, the United Arab Emirates is the sole foreign buyer after signing a deal with the Department of Defense for $3.4 billion.

Articles

Police officer calls BS on the ‘crazy veteran’ stereotype

Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo.


In 2006 I was attending a Field Training Officer Class. Field Training Officers, or FTOs, train new police officers after they leave the academy on how to do field police work. As I perused the class syllabus I saw a topic which surprised me. A one hour block on dealing with military veterans who are training to be police officers.

In law enforcement its generally accepted that veterans make good cops. They are recruited heavily and are often given preference during hiring. They adapt well to the job and are well respected.

Related: How to make yourself hard to kill, according to a special operator

So I was surprised to see it as an instructional topic. When we got to that point in the class the instructor, not a veteran, began discussing the difficulties FTOs would have with teaching vets. This included:

-How vets would handle dealing with people of Middle Eastern Decent

-How vets would react to loud noises like explosions

-What to do if a vet has a “flashback”

Adding fuel to the fire was a student in the class who regaled the rest of us with stories of dead bodies he had seen in Iraq and how it haunts him to this day. I later met a guy who served with him and he said the necromancer never left the wire. Must of have been scores of bodies seen during marathon Call Of Duty sessions.

Needless to say I was appalled. I voiced my concerns, called bullshit to the “out of control veteran” theory. I added that vets are used to things like gunfire, stress, death, etc. and they should probably be more concerned with the 22 year olds who still live at home with little or no life experience that we often have to train. I see young cops all the time who have never even been in a fist fight! That’s generally not the case with veterans.

The crazy veteran theme pops up time and time again and is used as by criminals, the media and others to explain or rationalize bad behavior. I sat in court one time during the trial for a man accused of robbing a drug store of OxyContin. His lawyer argued that his exposure to dead bodies (the corpse argument again!) during a tour in Bosnia 10 years prior caused PTSD, leading to his addiction and subsequent crimes.

In 2005 a “Marine” got into a shootout with the Ceres Police Department in California. He killed one officer and wounded another. He was also a Norteno gang member but the media chose not to focus on that. Later reports showed he never saw any significant combat. The news painted him to be John J Rambo, the mentally unstable veteran, rather than the gangster criminal piece of shit that he really was.

Now it has been brought up again in the Ft Lauderdale shootings. A mentally ill person with possible ISIS leanings is being touted as yet another example of a crazy veteran gone bad, driven insane by his war experiences. The reality is his military experience has nothing to do with it. It just makes good press. There has been no evidence reported that he was involved in any actual combat. Just stories from family members that he came back from the war changed and that he saw, “bodies”(again with the bodies…).

He was kicked out of the Alaska National Guard which, I’m sure, will undoubtedly be blamed on his wartime experiences…

Preliminary reports show that he had reported to the FBI that an “intelligence agency” had forced him to watch ISIS videos. He is also a convicted wife batterer and had previously brought a loaded gun to an FBI Office. NEWSFLASH: He is mentally ill, not suffering from some war induced PTSD.

I’m not trying to downplay the effects of PTSD. It is a very real ailment that effects many. But, as we have seen time and time again, vets who are afflicted with it turn their suffering inward. This manifests itself in drug and alcohol abuse and, in the worst cases, suicide.

As a cop I routinely see crooks blaming outside influences for their behavior. From, “I didn’t get enough love as a child” to, “I got too much love as a child”. They blame their race, my race, their gender, my gender, their religion, my religion, and so on.

And, on occasion, when they are veterans (or claim to be veterans), they sometimes claim wartime experiences as the cause for their abhorrent behavior. Or their friends, family or the media provide that excuse for them.

Service to one’s country is one of the finest things a person can do. It shouldn’t be tainted by the criminal behavior of those who use their service as an excuse to harm others.

Articles

This new radar could be the US Navy’s force field against Chinese ship-killing missile

The AN/SPY-1 system, more popularly known as “Aegis,” is arguably the best air-defense system sent out to sea. It has been exported to South Korea, Japan, Spain, and Australia. But the U.S. Navy has not been sitting still with the design.


The AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar is planned for use on the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

According to the Raytheon web site, this modular radar system is 30-times more sensitive than the SPY-1D used on the current Arleigh Burke-class vessels. This system can also handle 30 times as many targets as the SPY-1D. The system also used commercially-available computer processors in the x86 family pioneered by Intel.

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A Raytheon SM-3 launches from the vertical launcher on the front deck of a ship. | Raytheon

The AMDR was tested July 27, 2017, by the Navy. According to a Navy release, the system successfully tracked the target — a simulated medium-range ballistic missile — or “MRBM.” According to the Department of Defense, MRBMs have a range between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers, or about 600 to 1,800 miles.

Perhaps the most notable missile in this category is China’s DF-21, which supposedly has a carrier-killer version.

“AN/SPY-6 is the nation’s most advanced radar and will be the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatants for many decades,” said Aegis program official Capt. Seiko Okano.

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USS Hopper (DDG 70) fires a RIM-161 SM-3 missile in 2009. (US Navy photo)

The first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Harvey C. Barnum (DDG 124), is slated to enter service in 2024. These ships will have a five-inch gun, two Mk 41 vertical launch systems (one with 32 cells, the other with 64 cells) capable of firing RIM-66 Standard SM-2 missiles, RIM-174 SM-6 missiles, RIM-161 SM-3 missiles, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and RUM-139 Vertical-Launch ASROCs.

It’ll also be armed with a Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, and two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

You can see a video from Raytheon about AMDR below.

Articles

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

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


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Institute for the Study of War

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

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

Here are ISIS’ 10 main sources of funding:

1. Oil Smuggling

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

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2. Donations from Angel Investors

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

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3. Organized Crime

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

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It’s really weird that they pose like this.

4. Looting Banks and Museums

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

5. Hostages and Kidnapping

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

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6. Illegal Drugs Sex Trafficking

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

7. Bitcoin

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

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8. Fake Foreign Aid

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

9. Internet Cafes

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

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

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

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

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These nuclear test dummies are fuel for Atomic-Age nightmares

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During the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear holocaust hung over every American’s head. One burning question consumed the populace: was it possible to prepare a home to survive an atomic blast? Hoping to collect hard data to begin to answer that question, the Federal Civil Defense Administration arranged an experiment known as Operation Doorstep, part of the 1953 Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.


To prepare for Operation Doorstep, federal workers constructed two suburban-style houses, which were furnished and populated with cheery department store mannequins.

Some were set up around the houses as if they were going about their everyday lives…

atom bomb test dummies

…some were posed in basement shelters…

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…and some were set up in cars around the test site.

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When everything was ready, the bomb was detonated.

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Reportedly, the destruction done to the two test homes by the blast was “as expected.”

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MIGHTY MOVIES

This documentary showcases vets treating PTSD with psychedelics

There’s no perfect treatment for the psychological ailments that veterans face when returning from combat. What works for one veteran may not work for another — in some cases, it may even make things worse. Unfortunately, the burden of finding the best method of treatment (which usually involves endless hours of trial and error) is almost always placed squarely on the shoulders of those preoccupied with coping with post-traumatic stress.

For some folks, taking prescription medication helps — and that’s great. For others, those same medications may cause more harm than good. The veterans for which standard treatments don’t work often feel as if they’re being tossed into a box and told to just keep taking pills until the problem is better. We can all agree that there has got to be a better solution, but it’s not an easy ask — there’s no magic wand to wave to make the bad life experiences just go away.

So, to take some steps in the positive direction, some veterans are venturing into the taboo. From Shock to Awe, a new documentary that comes out November 12, follows two veterans as they embark on a journey into psychedelic medicines to try and finally find peace and balance.