Coronavirus aid coming 'from Russia with love' - or an agenda? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

MOSCOW — The 15 Russian military planes that delivered much-needed medical equipment to Italy last week to deal with the coronavirus outbreak were branded with the slogan “From Russia With Love.”

And that sentiment was reciprocated.

Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini offered official thanks to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. Italian singer Pupo posted a video of himself performing a popular Soviet song, and signed off saying: “I love you Russia. Thank you.”


And fellow crooner Al Bano was quoted by a Russian news agency saying Italy would never forget Russia’s help.

In Russia, video of the country’s anthem playing in a quiet Italian neighborhood was quickly picked up by state TV.

“Italians are turning to us with words of thanks,” said one presenter.

“A sign of gratitude from local residents,” quipped another. “The U.S. and Europe could learn a lesson,” an anchor concluded.

While reports have emerged that some of the “grateful residents of Italy” were, in fact, from Russia, cheerleaders at home are seizing the opportunity to promote Russian diplomacy and international outreach.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

That chorus grew louder following news that Russia sent masks and medical equipment to the hard-hit United States on April 1.

Russia is not alone in sending aid abroad. The United States, Germany, and France have also sent supplies despite dealing with their own domestic outbreaks. And China — where the outbreak originated — has sought to reverse the negative fallout by providing expertise and equipment to other countries, although the delivery of faulty equipment and questionable data has been criticized.

But for Russia, such missions prove a belabored point. Since its relations with the West soured amid the Ukraine crisis in 2014, and Moscow was placed under economic sanctions by much of the world, President Vladimir Putin’s government has lobbied for the world to see it as a force for good, with a crucial role to play in the international arena.

It has not been an easy sell.

Aid … But With Strings?

While a convoy of whitewashed military vehicles containing clothes and medicine that the Kremlin sent to eastern Ukraine in 2014 was shown on loop on state TV, others saw the purported humanitarian effort as a way of secretly supplying weapons to the Moscow-backed separatists fighting Kyiv’s forces.

And Russia’s military operation in Syria, launched in 2015 with the declared aim of driving out the Islamic State extremist group from the region, was presented by federal channels as a peace mission to liberate the war-ravaged Middle Eastern state. But while Russian soldiers were shown handing out food packages to Syrian children, critics accused Russia of bombing hospitals and targeting rebel forces fighting against Syria’s Kremlin-backed President Bashar al-Assad.

As the current coronavirus outbreak took root, murals in Moscow and beyond depicted Russia as an amiable bear surrounded by doves, and one Putin likeness was depicted carrying the globe on his shoulders.

In recent weeks, China — another country exporting medical aid — has also pushed positive propaganda about its contributions to that global campaign. In Italy, one newspaper found that several videos shared by Chinese officials and appearing to show Italians applauding and thanking the Chinese were doctored or staged.

For some, Russia’s latest missions have also led to questions.

The La Stampa newspaper on March 25 cited unnamed officials in Rome saying that 80 percent of Russia’s aid package was “totally useless.” Moscow was in an uproar about the claims, which were shared widely. “The aid given to Italy is selfless,” Russia’s ambassador to Italy Sergei Razov told the RIA news agency. “Not subject to a trade-off, a settling of bills or anything of the kind.”

Then there was that video of the Russian anthem being played on an Italian street. The video originated as a post to the Telegram messenger app by a Russian journalist working for the Daily Storm outlet. “Who would have thought that our Russian hymn will play on the streets of Italy?” wrote Alyona Sivkova on March 25, in a caption to the video.

The following day, after the video had been featured in various Russian reports as evidence of ordinary Italians’ gratitude to Russia, Sivkova posted an angry Telegram post alleging that Russian state media had “stolen” the video — which was recorded by the Italy-based mother of a Russian colleague — for their own purposes.

Ilya Shepelin, who leads a program debunking fake news on independent Russian TV channel Dozhd, told the BBC that Italians who have publicly praised Russia’s aid to their country are mostly people with close business ties to Russia.

“We’re not dealing here with a pure fabrication, but manipulation,” he said of the Russian TV reports. “Hybrid lies, or hybrid truth.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Humor

8 reasons why everyone knows you were in the military

It’s more than a Grunt Style t-shirt, those awful Oakleys, or an American flag ball cap — you know, the one with the IR patch on the front? People don’t need to hear you ask if there’s a veteran’s discount or relate everything back to how your old unit did things.

People can tell you were in the military — just by looking at you.


Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

Zulu foxtrot.

8. The way you stand.

Some call it “command presence” while others call it “closed body language.” No matter what you call it, you stand there with your arms crossed, feet planted beneath your shoulders, and shoulders slightly hunched – you’re in a power stance: a military power stance. How better to show someone you’re frosty, collected, and listening to them than looking like you’re leaning on a pole without actually doing it.

You may have started the conversation with his hands on his hips, thumbs through belt loops.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

“Your party called ahead. What now, POG?”

7. You are always 15 minutes early to everything.

People will figure out that if you aren’t 15 minutes early, you consider yourself late. Especially since you’ll call them to let them know… meanwhile, they haven’t even left their house yet.

For civilians, this works out because you’ll always be at a restaurant to put the group on the waiting list for a table. They will use this to their full advantage.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

When you find out Yogurtland has froyo in Sea Salt Caramel.

6. You move fast.

It doesn’t matter if you actually have to be anywhere at a certain time, you move with a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose. You know that Pinkberry will still be there no matter when you arrive, but you still approach the cinnamon churro froyo like T-1000 chasing John Connor.

5. Your haircut.

This is a dead giveaway. Why would anyone on Earth willingly subject their head to the high and tight (or worse, the flattop) unless they were forced to keep it that way at some point? I’m pretty sure the coiffure equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome takes hold in TAPS class.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

Like standing at parade rest for pizza.

4. You stand at parade rest for bizarre reasons.

Ever catch yourself staring out into the distance, perhaps over a lake at sunset, only to have an older guy tell you to “stop standing at parade rest for the goddamned lake, boot.” It’s a sign of respect for those above you and, after spending so long as an E-3, just a comfortable position to put yourself in.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

Stand like you’re wearing a cavalry hat while meeting a foreign head of state.

3. Your ramrod-straight posture.

You stand tall. We all do. That’s not going to stop just because we stopped wearing a uniform.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

It’s like they drilled it into you or something.

2. You walk with coordinated arm swings.

Have you ever noticed yourself walking down the street with your right arm perfectly in sync with your left leg and vice versa? That’s not an accident. You had all those military marches and facing movements drilled into you. They’re going to hang around for a while.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

1. You eat so fast, people wonder if you ever taste food.

Appetizers, dinners, desserts — all gone in the blink of an eye. Wouldn’t it be great if you could slow down and enjoy the flavors of life? Well, you can’t. This is because you’re probably worried that, if you do, your stripper ex-wife will take that, too.

MIGHTY TRENDING

America’s sweetheart and WWII volunteer, Betty White, turns 99

Betty White is a living legend and that’s that. 

Betty White just celebrated her 99th birthday and despite that extraordinary milestone – she’s just as sassy and amazing as she was 70 years ago. Heck, maybe even more so! White is a national treasure of epic proportions for her kindness, wit, intelligence and unbelievable acting skills. It’s her heart for service that really captured the hearts of us all.

It all started during World War II.

Betty White
Image Source: Everett Collection

Many may not realize that White was turned away from studio after studio in the early days.

She was told she was not “photogenic” enough (bet those studios regret that now). Despite struggling to make ends meet and find work, she put her entire career and aspirations on hold when the war came. White became a volunteer for the American Women’s Volunteer Service. Her role required the responsibility of handling the transportation of military supplies through California. She also volunteered her time hosting events for the troops before their deployments to fight. 

She married an Army Air Force pilot in 1945, though the marriage wouldn’t last. When the war was over, she continued to visit studios but kept getting rejections. She turned her eyes to radio work and eventually made a name for herself on a number of shows. Records show there was just about nothing she wouldn’t do and sometimes even worked for free. Her big break came when she was hired to co-host Hollywood on Television and eventually, it was all hers. She was nominated for her first Emmy in 1951. 

It was her show “Life with Elizabeth” that skyrocketed her to the stardome she was destined for. From 1952-1955 she was one of the very few women with full creative control both in front of the camera and behind it. Here’s where it gets really fun and you just know White is destined to be your favorite. She started producing and acting in her own show titled, The Betty White Show. When she began featuring an African-American actor regularly on the show, people began complaining. Local southern television stations threatened to boycott NBC if he wasn’t removed. White’s response: sorry, live with it. Then she gave him even more airtime. 

Legend. 

From the 1960s through the early 1980s, she worked. A lot. She also married the love of her life, Allen Ludden. But her big, huge and life-changing role was waiting for her in 1985, though she had her doubts about it. Rose in The Golden Girls. Sing it with me: Thank you for being a friend! From its debut until 1992, the show reigned as an American favorite and forever installed White into the hearts of the world. The nineties and early 2000s were filled with Emmys and fun. Then came the commercial. 

In 2009 the Mars, Incorporated corporation decided to launch a global campaign for their Snickers bar. The slogan was, “You’re not you when you are hungry.” The first ad featured Betty White and aired during the Superbowl of 2010. The success was unlike anything we’ve ever seen! It wasn’t long before the demand that White host Saturday Night Live came along. And, she did. At 88 years old she was the oldest host the show had ever had. PS: she won an Emmy for that work, too.

 

White has always been an advocate for equal rights and basically being a good human being. She was ahead of her time in many ways. In prior interviews, she was asked about gay rights. White was often seen on the arm of Liberace and revealed that she always knew he was gay. Her thoughts on the matter? “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs and don’t worry about other people so much.” Rock on Betty, we love you!

So here we are, present day. She’s done endless films which have warmed the hearts of us all and continued her dedication to humanitarian work. Her smile, recognizable voice and endless sass is as amazing as ever, even at 99. There’s a universal agreement across the globe that she is absolutely unequivocally never-ever allowed to leave this earth. Ever. 

Happy Birthday Betty White!

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new terror supergroup is filling the void left by ISIS in Syria

With up to 90% of its territory lost, ISIS appears effectively defeated as a conventional foe. But while the black flag of ISIS is being lowered, another may soon take its place — the white flag of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

A new report in the Wall Street Journal details HTS’ rise as it consolidates power in northwest Syria. Led by a former Al-Qaeda militant, HTS is mostly based in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and has taken advantage of the US-led coalition’s focus on ISIS in the East, as well as the Syrian government and Russia’s focus on other parts of the country.


HTS came into existence when Jabhat Fath al Sham, previously known as the Al Nusrah Front and Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria until its re-branding in July of 2016, announced a merger with four other islamist groups operating in Syria.

Combined with the other groups, HTS — or the Assembly for Liberation of the Levant — was created.

The reason for its existence, according to its propaganda, is “to unite our banners and to preserve the fruits and the jihad” of the revolution against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, so that it can “be the seed of unifying the capacities and strength of this revolution.”

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
Bashar al-Assad

The group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, has said that he wants his followers to engage in “a war of ideas, a war of minds, a war of wills, a war of perseverance,” according to the Wall Street Journal, and that he will conquer Damascus — Syria’s capital — and implement Sharia law.

The group announced in February 2018, that it had defeated the remnants of ISIS militants in Idlib, and a month later said that they had taken control of up to 25 villages in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

It has created a religious police force in its territory, similar to ISIS’ Hisbah. They enforce Sharia law, control services like electricity and water, and collect taxes from citizens.

The group has also been fighting forces from the Syrian government in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. But while the terror group continues to grow and solidify its control, the Syrian government and US-led coalition have their attention elsewhere.

“The area seems to be out of focus for Western powers,” Hassan Hassan, an analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told the Wall Street Journal. “The jihadis are having a honeymoon there.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Prestigious NORAD Air Force award goes to… a coastie

When the Continental U.S. North American Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Maintainer of the Year for 2020 was announced, there was some shock. The prestigious Air Force award went to … a coastie.

The Continental Division of the North American Aerospace Defense Command is comprised of the United States Air Force, Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Canadian Air Force and to the surprise of many – the Coast Guard.


The National Capital Region Air Defense Facility of the Coast Guard is housed under the command of NORAD in Washington, D.C and is their only permanent air defense unit. Operating simultaneously as both a military branch and law enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security allows the elite Coast Guard unit the ability to respond to potential threats on a moment’s notice. One of their most vital missions is protecting the restricted air space around the White House.

When a threat to the capital is detected, coasties are the first on deck to respond.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

(Photo: USCG PA1 Tara Molle)

Avionics Technician First Class Andrew Anton is a member of the small crew of coasties tasked with protecting America’s capital and the only coastie to have ever been selected for the Maintainer of the Year award. “It was a surprise to me. I didn’t see it coming and it’s very humbling,” he said. Anton continued, “We don’t fly the helicopter by ourselves. This is a team award and a Coast Guard win.”

Anton is responsible for managing, scheduling and maintaining all of the helicopters at the unit. “We are the only rotary wing air intercept entity under the NORAD structure. We are Coast Guard but we work for the Air Force,” he explained.

Working within aviation is not without risk, which is why Anton feels his award is attributed to the team and not just him. A day in the life of a coastie working aviation involves dangerous chemicals, heavy parts and working in high lifts. Then, there’s the inherent risk of simply being up in the air in flight. “At the end of the day, there has to be a human factor in this. We all live and die together. This is a very dangerous job,” Anton shared. “This unit applies the best amount of leadership that I have ever seen. Although this is an individual award, it is a team. No one can be successful if the ones around you can’t do their jobs.”

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

(Photo: USCG PA1 Tara Molle)

Military service has been ingrained into Anton his entire life as his family has served in the Armed Forces for generations. “I have had a passion for aviation since I was very young. Every male in my family since World War II was a pilot, I am the only mechanic in my family. I love flying but I prefer to work with my hands,” he explained. When he finished college, he knew he wanted to join the Coast Guard.

“I work for Aviation Engineering and I am a maintainer, a mechanic,” Anton said. But he’s much more than that. Anton is a Coast Guard Rotary Wing Aircrew Member, an Enlisted Flight Examiner, Flight Standards Board Member, a facility Training Petty Officer and is responsible for primary quality assurance.

Since his unit is a part of NORAD and works alongside the Air Force, they have unique protocols to follow. “The Coast Guard regulations are one thing, but we also have to abide by the Air Force Regulations because we are an Air Combat Alert unit,” Anton explained.

Anton shared that when the Air Force completes the inspections for their Coast Guard unit, they are often left baffled. When they realize that only one Coast Guard maintainer does the job that it takes eight separate Air Force members to do, they’re shocked. “When they come for these assessments, it’s kind of funny to hear them ask, ‘I’d like to talk to your refueler’ or ‘I’d like to talk to your tool manager’ and I’m like – still here, all me. They’ll do that for everything. We take pride in our workload and what we are able to accomplish,” he said.
Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

(Photo: USCG PA1 Tara Molle)

They maintain their high level of efficiency with just six maintainers on a daily basis.

“As coasties, there’s just so many hats that we take off and put on, but we do it well. We’re so accustomed to being adaptable,” Anton shared. Many may find themselves shocked at what the Coast Guard accomplishes in a single day and probably didn’t realize they are a vital part of protecting the President of the United States.

“We don’t have Coast Guard signs out front and this mission isn’t as heavily publicized because we are following POTUS around. It’s a way to mitigate risk,” Anton shared. The members of this unit are not allowed to wear their Coast Guard uniforms outside of the facility and much of what they do still remains shrouded in secrecy, as a matter of national security.

While this unit is lending vital support to Operation Noble Eagle, the Coast Guard as a whole is also engaging in Rotary Wing Air Intercept nationwide for the U.S. Secret Service. They guard the skies above National Special Security Events and the president, wherever he or she goes.

Receiving this award showcases the important role that the Coast Guard plays in not only guarding America’s waters, but her sky as well. Their missions are accomplished with pride and devotion, despite the challenges they encounter within their budget. “It’s important to know that these guys and this team manage it all. You don’t hear about it because they do it so well,” Anton said. “The Coast Guard is such a small branch that it must be that good.”


MIGHTY TRENDING

New Army Howitzer models designed to outgun Russian weapons

The Army is starting formal production of a new Self-Propelled Howitzer variant engineered for faster movement, better structural protection, improved drive-train ability, new suspension, and advanced networking tech, service and industry developers said.


The new vehicle is built with a more capable, larger chassis, designed as an initial step toward building a next-generation cannon able to outgun existing Russian weapons.

As part of a longer-term plan to leverage the new, larger chassis built into the Army’s new M109A7 variant, the Army’s Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center is beginning work on a new cannon able to hit enemies out to 70 kilometers, senior Army developers said.

“Right now we have the 39 caliber cannon we have had since the 80s. We are range limited and the Russians can outgun us and shoot farther,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, former Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, said last Fall at the service’s AUSA annual symposium. “If you had not replaced the chassis first, you would never be able to put that larger cannon on there.”

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
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. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

A 70-kilometer target range is, by any estimation, a substantial leap forward for artillery; when GPS-guided precision 155mm artillery rounds, such as Excalibur, burst into land combat about ten years ago, its strike range was reported at roughly 30 kilometers. A self-propelled Howitzer able to hit 70-kilometers puts the weapon on par with some of the Army’s advanced land-based rockets — such as its precision-enabled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, which also reaches 70-kilometers.

In a modern threat environment, wherein near-peer and smaller-level rivals increasingly possess precision-guided land weapons, longer-range C4ISR technology, and drone weapons, increasing range is a ubiquitous emphasis across the Army and other services. Russia’s violations of the INF treaty, new S-500 air defenses, new Armata tanks, and fast-growing attack drone fleet all point to a growing need for the U.S. to outrange and outgun potential adversaries.

Furthermore, given the Pentagon’s emphasis upon cross-domain warfare, land weapons are increasingly being developed to attack things like enemy ships, aircraft, and ground-based air defenses; naturally, the idea is to pinpoint and destroy enemy targets while remaining at a safer, more protected distance. Deputy Program Executive Officer for Missiles Space, Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch told Warrior the service is making a decided push to upgrade and develop longer-range weapons as a way to address current threats — and re-adjust following more than 15 years of counterinsurgency.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
The T-14 Armata tank. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly Kuzmin.)

For example, senior Pentagon leaders have told Warrior Maven that there is some ongoing deliberation about placing mobile land-based artillery — such as a Paladin — in areas of the South China Sea as a credible deterrent against Chinese ships and aircraft.

Building a higher-tech, more lethal Paladin

Following years of development and advanced engineering, the Army and BAE Systems are now formally entering full-rate production of the new M109A7 and accompanying M992A3 ammunition carrier vehicles. BAE officials said the new Howitzer, designed to replace the existing M109A6 Paladin, will have 600-volts of onboard power generation, high-voltage electric gun drives, and projectile ramming systems.

Bassett described the A7 as a turret ring down revamp, including a new hull along with a new suspension and power-train. The new Howitzer will, among other things, greatly improve speed and mobility compared to the A6.

“In the past, the A6 Paladin was the slowest vehicle in the Army. It needs to leapfrog. We are restoring that mobility so it will be one of the faster vehicles. Howitzers can now outrun 113s,” Bassett said.

Related: This is what the Army’s top general wants in a future tank, and it’s straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’

Also, as part of maintenance, life-cycle, and service extension — all aimed to improve logistics — the new Howitzer is built with an engine and other parts common to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and emerging Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle.

Improved onboard power is, similar to other emerging higher-tech platforms, designed to enable the vehicle to quickly accommodate upgrades and new weapons technologies as they may evolve — such as lasers or advanced ammunition.

The advanced digital backbone and power generation capability provides significant growth potential for future payloads, a BAE Systems statement said.

One senior Army official told Warrior Maven that improved combat connectivity can enable multiple Howitzers to quickly share firing data, as part of a broader effort to expand battlefield networking and operate in more dispersed formations depending upon mission requirements.

The Army is also now working with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office to explore additional innovations for the Howitzer platform.

Army Howitzers are now firing a super high-speed, high-tech, electromagnetic Hyper Velocity Projectile, initially developed as a Navy weapon, an effort to fast-track increasing lethal and effective weapons to warzones and key strategic locations, Pentagon officials said.

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
One of the two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard the joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Kirsop.)

While initially conceived of and developed for the Navy’s emerging Rail Gun Weapon, the Pentagon and Army are now firing the Hyper Velocity Projectile from an Army Howitzer in order to potential harness near-term weapons ability, increase the scope, lethality, and rangeability to accelerate combat deployment of the lethal, high-speed round.

The railgun uses an electromagnetic current to fire a kinetic energy warhead up to 100 miles at speeds greater than 5,000 miles an hour, a speed at least three times as fast as existing weapons.

Firing from an Army Howitzer, the hypervelocity projectile can fire at high speeds toward enemy targets to include buildings, force concentrations, weapons systems, drones, aircraft, vehicle bunkers and even incoming enemy missiles and artillery rounds.

“We can defend against an incoming salvo with a bullet. That is very much a focus getting ready for the future,” Dr. William Roper, Director of the Pentagon’s once-secret Strategic Capabilities Office, told Scout Warrior among a small group of reporters last year.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The F-35 in Japan is still losing dogfights to F-15s

The most expensive weapons system in history, the US’s F-35 Lightning II, is still sometimes losing to the 1970s F-15 in dogfights during training scenarios in Japan.

US Air Force F-15 pilot Capt. Brock McGehee, when asked by Defense News if the F-35s at Kadena Air Force base in Japan still sometimes lost to the Cold War-era fighters, said “I mean, sometimes.”


The F-35 has long been plagued by reports of that it can’t dogfight as well as older, much cheaper jets, despite being in development for nearly two decades and claiming to revolutionize air combat.

In 2015, War is Boring published a report from a test pilot that said the F-35 couldn’t turn or climb fast enough to keep up with older jets, and F-16s lugging heavy fuel tanks under wing still routinely trounced it.

But a lot has changed since 2015. The F-35 has had its software upgraded and the tactics refined.

Why the Cold War jets can still pull a win out — for now

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

Retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke previously told Business Insider that the older jets benefited from decades of development and training, whereby new pilots today have established best practices. As the F-35 is still in its early days, Berke said the best is yet to come.

In 2017, the F-35 dominated older jets with a ratio of 15 kills to one death.

“The biggest limitation for the F-35 is that pilots are not familiar with how to fly it. They try to fly the F-35 like their old airplane,” Berke said.

But the pilots at Kadena dogfighting against F-15s may be a cut above, according to Berke, who said that because they have never flown a legacy jet before, they won’t bring the bad habits with them, and will instead learn how to fly the F-35 like the unique plane it is. “They’re going to be your best, most effective tacticians,” Berke said.

F-35s at a major disadvantage to any legacy jet in a dogfight

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
(U.S. Air Force photo)

“The F-35 cannot out dogfight a Typhoon (or a Su-35), never in a million years,” Justin Bronk, a combat aircraft expert at the Royal United Services Institute, previously told Business Insider.

The reason why, according to Bronk and other experts on the F-35, is that the F-35 just isn’t a dogfighter. The F-35’s stealth design put heavy demands on the shape of the aircraft, which restricted it in some dimensions. As a result, it’s not the most dynamic jet the US could have possibly built, but it doesn’t have to be.

Instead, the F-35 relies on stealth. F-35s, employed correctly in battle, would score most of their kills with long range missiles fired from beyond visual range.

“If you get into a dogfight with the F-35, somebody made a mistake. It’s like having a knife fight in a telephone booth,” civilian F-16 pilot Adam Alpert of the Vermont Air National Guard wrote in 2016 after training on F-35 simulators.

A Top Gun pilot says dogfighting is dead anyway

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?
(Photo courtesy of Dave Berke)

Berke, an alumnus of the US Navy’s famous Top Gun school, echoed Alpert’s assessment, but warned that the common perception of dogfighting was “way off,” and something US jets haven’t done in 40 years. Berke disagreed with Bronk’s “never in a million years” assertion, but maintained that the dogfighting issue was basically irrelevant.

The bottom line is that in training, all jets lose “sometimes.” That the F-35 can hold its own and beat a jet refined over four decades to excel exclusively at air-to-air combat — when the F-35 has been designed to fight, bomb, spy, and sneak — shows its tremendous range and potential.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The US Air Force is ordering more hypersonic weapons as the competition with Russia and China heats up.

The service awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Monday to develop the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), a hypersonic weapon prototype expected to cost no more than $480 million to design, according to an Air Force press release.


“We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in an official statement.

The request is the second such request for hypersonic weapons from the Air Force in 2018.

The service awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for a Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) in April 2018, just a few weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about some of the hypersonic systems Russia is presently developing, such as the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle expected to be mounted on the country’s Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

The latest request from the US Air Force comes about one week after China tested a new hypersonic aircraft, a high-speed strike platform that some expert observers say could evade air and missile defenses to obliterate enemy targets with both conventional and nuclear payloads.

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The Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2) hypersonic experimental waverider vehicle designed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics in Beijing can reportedly travel at six times the speed of sound (Mach 6). The waverider is a type of hypersonic aircraft that rides the shock waves generated during hypersonic flight.

The speed, as well as the unpredictable flight trajectories, of these vehicles make them particularly difficult for existing defense systems to intercept. Chinese military experts suspect that the system is still three to five years away from being weaponized.

Senior leadership from the Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, Navy, and Army all signed a memorandum of agreement in late June to strengthen American hypersonic capabilities.

“The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in an official statement. “We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.”

While the Air Force is pursuing hypersonic weapons of its own, US Strategic Command and the Missile Defense Agency are trying to figure out how to bolster American defenses to protect the homeland against the growing hypersonic threat.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t shoot it,” Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in March 2018. “We have globally deployed sensors today, but — just look at the globe — there are gaps. What we are looking towards is to move the sensor architecture to space and use that advantage of space, in coordination with our ground assets, to remove the gaps.”

“Why is that important? The hypersonic threat,” he asked and answered.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China has been testing anti-ship missiles in the South China Sea

The Chinese military has been practicing sinking enemy vessels with anti-ship naval missiles in the South China Sea, CNBC reported July 1, 2019, citing US officials.

The Chinese military reportedly began testing these weapons over the weekend, as a week-long drill kicked off in the disputed waterway. CNBC reports that Chinese forces test-fired anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), which could include systems like the DF-21D or DF-26.

The testing of ASBMs would be an important first for the South China Sea and a significant step forward as China seeks to strengthen its anti-access, area-denial capabilities, although some expert observers suspect China may have been testing anti-ship cruise missiles.


For ballistic-missile tests, Chinese authorities typically issue Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) identifying “temporary danger areas,” Ankit Panda, senior editor at The Diplomat, explained. Such a NOTAM was issued for the period between June 30 and July 1, 2019, marking off two locations in the South China Sea.

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The DF-26 medium-range ballistic missile.

Beijing previously moved land-based anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), such as the YJ-62 and YJ-12B, to Chinese-occupied territories in the region, a move the US condemned.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft,” Jim Mattis, the former secretary of defense, explained last year. “Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.”

Range limits require ASCMs be on islands in the South China Sea in order to reach surrounding waterways. Longer-range ASBMs could be fired from the Chinese mainland, allowing for more robust defenses around the batteries.

China argues that relevant deployments are a necessary response to aggressive US behavior.

China’s latest testing comes on the heels of joint drills in the South China Sea involving the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Escort Flotilla 1, which includes the Izumo multi-purpose destroyer that is slated to become Japan’s first carrier in decades.

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The Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan operates with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Izumo, June 11, 2019.

(U.S. Navy photo)

US officials told CNBC that while the US Navy has ships in the South China Sea, the missile testing did not endanger any US ship. The testing was, however, characterized as “concerning.”

Locked in competition with great power rivals, the US is looking more closely at the development of anti-ship capabilities as it prepares to counter near-peer threats, such as the massive Chinese navy.

Both the Army and the Marine Corps, for example, are looking at long-range artillery and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries to control the maritime space from land.

“You can imagine a scenario where the Navy feels that it cannot get into the South China Sea because of Chinese naval vessels,” Mark Esper, the former secretary of the Army who is now acting secretary of defense, explained earlier this year.

“We can, from a fixed location, on an island or some other place, engage enemy targets, naval targets, at great distances and maintain our standoff and yet open the door, if you will, for naval assets or Marine assets,” Esper said.

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

Articles

This Navy vet and wheelchair basketball player is one to watch at the Warrior Games

The 2016 Warrior Games held their opening ceremony on June 15. The games are an adaptive sports competition for veterans and service members who are ill, wounded, or otherwise injured. Two hundred and fifty athletes on six teams (Army, Marine Corps, Navy Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and the UK Armed Force) will compete for just over a week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The events include Archery, Cycling, Track, Field, Shooting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, and Wheelchair Basketball.


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Jason Reyes at the 2016 Invictus Games

One of the competitors to watch is Jason Reyes, a retired Navy Fire Controlman, who was in a motorcycle accident in 2012. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury as well as a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for ten days.

In the four years since he has been a fierce competitor in wheelchair basketball, learning the ins and outs with the San Diego Wolfpack. He didn’t even know about Wheelchair Basketball until he met the Wolfpack.

“Yeah, they’re professional, a pro team,” Reyes recalls. “Personally, it was about trying to be healthy, to do more than just sitting around. When a person is in a wheelchair and they’re not healthy, there’s a decline in their well-being. I didn’t want that for me.”

His remarkable recovery and interest in wheelchair athletics led to even more competition. The Warrior Games inspired his interest in the Cycling and Track events. In 2015, Reyes received a sponsorship to compete in Wheelchair Motocross, or WCMX. He is the only veteran to compete in WCMX at a pro level.

“Basically it’s a wheelchair in a skate park,” Reyes says. “I went to the 2015 world championships where I placed fourth in the world in WCMX. I’m the eighth person in the world to do the back flip in a wheelchair.”

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Reyes joined the Navy because he felt like it was his calling. He wanted to be part of something greater than himself. He was always an athletic guy. While serving as a Fire Controlman for missiles, he prepared to go into Special Operations, with the goal of one day being an officer. He was running five miles a day, hitting the gym every day because he felt like it was his calling.

“I wanted to live for something, Reyes says. it was just something that I just latched onto easily. I felt like it was my calling, and it was going to be a lifetime thing.”

Now, his calling is slightly different but he approaches it with the same zeal. His mission is to help others in wheelchairs understand their life isn’t over because of the wheelchair.

“I feel like some guys just need that little bit of motivation,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll go volunteer and speak to kids that are born with Spina Bifida or veterans that I know have PTSD and depression. I try to get them to open their mind up to other things.”

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Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class (ret.) Jason Reyes poses with his family and Dario Santana, Warrior Games’ Family Programs and Charitable Resource Coordinator, after the U.S. team wins the gold in wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games May 12, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Marissa A. Cruz)

 

That’s what brings him to events like the Invictus Games, the Warrior Games, and – soon – the International Paralympics. Reyes wants to represent my branch and his country but loves to be around his brothers and sisters in uniform. The military community is where he feels he belongs.

“No matter what branch, we all go together no matter what,” he says. “I would have never thought that something like this could be possible. I just feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to be able to do what I’ve done. ”

Reyes still feels he has much to learn. At the Warrior Games, he has met people who have used wheelchairs for as long as twenty and thirty years. Every time he meets someone, he finds it broadens his experience and he learns a lot.

“When I first got hurt, there weren’t a lot of people there to help me,” he remembers. “Not a lot of people were around to help push me or educate me as to how the paraplegic world functions, so I try to do that for others, to open their eyes up to the idea just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean it’s over. You just have to find your calling and what makes you happy.”

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Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class Jason Reyes (ret.) shares an embrace with a fellow U.S. team member after winning the gold medal in wheelchair basketball against the United Kingdom at the Invictus Games May 12 in Orlando, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Marissa A. Cruz)

Articles

Russia is making a big push to militarize the Arctic

The Arctic could become the location of the next phase of an arms race between the United States and Russia – and the Russians have taken an early lead.


According to a report by Reuters, Russian military assets, including Cold War-era bases in the Arctic, are being brought back into service as Vladimir Putin makes a play to control what could be massive reserves of oil. The Russian build-up reportedly includes effort to winterize modern weapons, like the Su-34 “Fullback” strike aircraft and the MiG-31 “Foxhound” interceptor.

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Photo: Wikimedia

According to Globalsecurity.org, the Su-34 is capable of carrying up to eight tons of weapons or a dozen air-to-air missiles, has a crew of two, and saw some combat action over Syria. The Fullback is slated to replace Su-24 Fencers currently serving with the Russian Air Force and Russian Naval Aviation. That site also notes that the MiG-31, an improved development of the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor, also has a two-person crew, and is capable of firing the AA-9 “Amos” air-to-air missile, which has a range of just under 100 miles. The Foxhound has been upgraded with a new radar.

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Ranker.com

Also included in the buildup are new icebreakers – including three nuclear-powered icebreakers according to a 2014 World Nuclear News report. In 2015, Port News reported that construction had started on two conventionally-powered icebreakers, while the Barents Observer reported in 2014 that the LK-25 would be delayed by up to two years from a planned delivery date of 2015.

Port News reported in December 2016 that the vessel, now named Viktor Chernomyrdin, wouldn’t be completed until sometime in 2018.

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The Russian nuclear icebreaker ’50 let Pobedy’ in the Arctic. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The British news agency noted that the push comes even though a combination of economic sanctions and low oil prices have shelved Russian plans to explore for some of the massive oil and natural gas reserves in the Arctic.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the Army trains for war

Gen. Robert B. Abrams recalled once being awakened at 2 a.m. on a Friday. It was the early 1980s then, and he was a young lieutenant stationed in a cavalry squadron in West Germany.


It was a unit alert that had woken him from his sleep, he recalled. Back then, those alerts could come at any time, completely unannounced. And when they came, soldiers in area bars would need to report to their units, in whatever state they were in, within two hours.

Abrams, commander, US Army Forces Command, spoke earlier this month at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Once soldiers were assembled, he said, they had four hours to get all their gear and ammunition loaded on trucks and tanks, and move out to their tactical assembly areas. They had to be ready to cross the border into East Germany, if called to do so.

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A US Army Soldier looks through binoculars as part of an orienteering event during the second day of the 2017 Forces Command Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 21, 2017. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III

“Everyone had a sense of urgency and knew what was at stake,” he said, remembering his early days in the Army.

The Army needs to regain that same sense of urgency today, he said, but “we’re not there yet in our Army.”

However, the mindset is beginning to shift, he said. “That’s the direction the Army is now taking.”

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A US Army Soldier, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, gives two thumbs up as he boards a plane at Fort Stewart, Ga., Aug. 3, 2017, for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt

Improved Training

Abrams pointed to a number of readiness indicators, including training, which he said has improved over the last couple of years.

Recently, the Army has shifted its training focus to a “decisive-action training environment that’s very robust,” he said.

The DATE training environment includes training with both conventional and non-conventional forces in all domains during every combat training center, or CTC, rotation, he said.

Leading up to the CTC rotation, units have also improved their home-station training, he said, adding that there’s been a 300 percent increase in company-level, live-fire exercises at home station over the last two years.

Even aviation units at the platoon and company levels are now participating in live-fire exercises, something not widely seen since before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Non-Deployables Reduced

“We’ve made huge progress over the last couple of years in reducing the number of non-deployable (soldiers),” Abrams said, adding that it’s still the No. 1 readiness challenge facing the Army today.

Some units have seven or eight percent non-deployables, he said, so there’s still some work to do to shrink those numbers.

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Photo courtesy of US Army

Abrams attributed improvements in reducing the number of non-deployable soldiers to several factors, including the fielding this year of the commander’s Medical Readiness Dashboard. That computerized medical update allows company and battalion commanders to better understand and deal with the medical status of their soldiers.

Improved physical training is another area the general credited with reducing injuries and elevating fitness levels. He gave a shout-out to a pilot program now underway that is incorporating a new soldier readiness test involving four brigades from FORSCOM that are evaluating “all five measurements of fitness.”

Also Read: This is everything you need to know about Army Rangers

The Army is moving away from an “industrial-age medical system,” to one that’s more like the type used for professional athletes that gives soldiers the care they need “at their point of impact and at the point of injury,” he noted.

The importance of care is so important because “muscular-skeletal injuries continue to impact soldiers,” he said.

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Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller.

Improved Equipment

Twelve of the Army’s 25 brigade combat teams have, to date, received their complete authorized stockage lists, Abrams said, and US Army Materiel Command is working on equipping the rest. ASLs consist of such things as repair parts, fuel, and construction material kept at each BCT distribution center.

To ensure the equipment is sufficient and where it needs to be, Abrams said FORSCOM conducts monthly logistics and aviation readiness reviews.

The biggest struggle in equipping the force right now, he said, is getting spare parts to where they are needed in a timely manner. Currently, he said, the wait time is about five times what it should be.

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A US Army Soldier, assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, guides a pilot into place during sling load operations, Aug. 11, 2016 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Sling load operations allow US Army Central to move artillery and trucks and shipping containers for mobile operations in the Middle East. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

A big part of increasing readiness, Abrams said, involves adequate and predictable funding from Congress.

“Continuing resolutions crush us at the unit level,” he said. “We are unable on a monthly basis to adequately plan to support training and requisition repair parts for our fleet at a tempo we are training.”

Abrams admitted that the Army doesn’t have an adequate narrative about readiness to present to lawmakers. “We in the military intuitively know what readiness means but have been unable to articulate it to the public. Everybody wants a ready force but we have a hard time describing it.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Last surviving Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient gets special birthday

A birthday celebration was held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Oct. 2, 2018, for retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. A man with bright eyes and heartwarming laughter, 95 years old never looked so youthful.

Williams watched as his brothers were drafted into the U.S. Army and decided he wanted to become a U.S. Marine. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1943 and retired after approximately 17 years of service.


“I joined the Marine Corps primarily because I knew nothing about the Marine Corps,” Williams said. “I was totally uneducated about the armed forces. The Marines were always very sharp, neat, polite, treated women very respectfully, and it caught my eye.”

Williams joined the Corps with the ambition to protect the country he called home. Little did he know, he would end up on enemy territory fighting for the freedom he loved so dearly.

“I thought that we would stay right here in the United States of America to protect our country and our freedom, so nobody could take this country away from us,” Williams said. “In boot camp, I was being trained by individuals who had been in combat. They were teaching us that if we were going to win, if we were going to survive, we had to fight a war.”

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Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general of 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, reads a letter written by Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, addressing retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Tessa D. Watts)

A boy from West Virginia working on a farm, Williams underwent the same honorable transformation endured by those before him and those after him; becoming a U.S. Marine headed overseas to enemy territory to defend his country.

“In boot camp, a person’s life completely changes,” Williams said. “From the time they arrive to the time they graduate, they become a new person. There is a spirit created within us that I cannot explain. It makes you so proud to be a Marine.”

Every Marine a rifleman, Williams had another asset that made him valuable to the Marine Corps and the war effort. He was selected to carry and use a flamethrower during World War II.

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Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima, explains the importance behind the Gold Star Flag and the Blue Star Flag to the attendees of his 95th birthday party at the National World War II Museum, Oct. 2, 2018. Williams established the “Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation” in 2010. The foundation encourages the establishment of Gold Star family Memorial Monuments.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tessa D. Watts)

“Naturally, we were all trained to be a rifleman first,” Williams said. “I was selected to be in a special weapons unit with a demolition flamethrower. Flamethrowers were being used a lot in the Pacific because of caves, and on Iwo Jima there were many reinforced concrete pillboxes that bazookas, artillery, and mortars couldn’t affect.”

Little did he know, his actions with that flamethrower would earn him the Medal of Honor on Oct. 5, 1945, for his heroic actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“At that point in time, I did not understand what I was receiving,” Williams said. “I had never heard of the Medal of Honor. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. As far as I was concerned, I was just doing what I was trained to do at Iwo Jima. That was my job. It wasn’t anything special.”

After receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House in Washington, D.C., Williams was called upon to speak to the 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander Archer Vandegrift. A conversation of a lifetime, something very specific stuck with Williams despite the fear of speaking to a man known to never crack a smile.

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The Victory Belles, a vocal trio, sing the Marines’ Hymn during the 95th birthday party of retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the Battle of Iwo Jima, at the National World War II Museum, Oct. 2, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Tessa D. Watts)

“When the commandant spoke to me, much of what he said I do not recall because I was too scared,” Williams said as he laughed. “One of the things he did say that registered and has never escaped me is ‘that medal does not belong to you. It belongs to all of those Marines that never got to come home. Don’t ever do anything that would tarnish that medal.’ I remember those words very well.”

Williams joined the Marine Corps with a pure heart, dedicated to perform his duty to his country. Those duties ended up being significant enough to earn himself the Medal of Honor. A hero in the eyes of many, when he looks in the mirror he sees a man who was simply doing his job and caring for the fellow Marines around him.

With the distant gaze of a mind recalling nostalgic memories, “We were just Marines looking out for each other,” Williams said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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