4 of the coolest planes that might have been - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

The jet age ushered in an era of intense competition for military aircraft that pushed the envelope of design and pitted some of the country’s top engineers against the toughest problems the Pentagon could come up with.


In the end, only one could be chosen, which begs the question whether the fight would have been different had the losing designs won.

The YA-9, the YF-23, the YF-17, the X-32 — these are all planes that came up just short in competition for top-dollar military contracts.

But would they have been better choices, looking back over the years?

Let’s take a good look and see.

1. Northrop A-9

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
The Northrop YA-9 during the fly-off. (USAF photo)

Beaten out by the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka “Warthog”), the Northrop YA-9 did offer a higher top speed than the tank buster the Air Force eventually adopted.

The Soviets built a knock off of this plane in the Su-25 Frogfoot. GlobalSecurity.org noted that the plane’s YF102 engines were specially designed for the plane.

Ultimately, that was one big factor in the A-10’s victory – Fairchild’s designers had used off-the-shelf systems and locked the design down.

The fact is you have to look at the results the aircraft that was ultimately delivered. The A-10 has been a legend in its ability to not only deliver ordnance on target, but to come back after being shot up.

In this case, the right call was the A-10.

2. Northrop YF-17

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
An air-to-air right side view of a YF-16 aircraft and a YF-17 aircraft, side-by-side, armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. (USAF photo)

The F-16 has been one of the most-produced combat aircraft in recent years – over 4,500 have been built, and some orders are still coming in. There’s even controversy over handing the production line over to India.

Yet it could have been a different plane. Northrop’s YF-17 was the other candidate in what was becoming a big contest as NATO allies sought to replace their F-104 Starfighters, and Congress told the Navy that they’d be getting the winner as well.

But the YF-17 was not to be – as the Air Force went with the F-16. Aviation writer Joe Baugher notes that the difference-maker in the decision was the F-16’s proven engine, even though the YF-17 was better in some areas.

The Navy and Marine Corps would eventually modify the YF-17 into the F/A-18 Hornet, which has proven itself as a mainstay of carrier air wings since the 1990s.

Could the YF-17 have been the Joint Strike Fighter about 35 years ago? That is a very intriguing question. Still, you can’t argue with the F-16’s success, and so the F-16 was probably the right call to make.

3. Northrop/McDonnell-Douglas YF-23

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
The two Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23 prototypes in flight. The aircraft on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the darker one on the right. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Wow… Northrop’s being mentioned a lot in this piece, isn’t it? The YF-23 is yet another plane that came just short of the production nod.

Northrop named the plane the Black Widow II (as an interesting piece of trivia, Lockheed’s choice for the F-22’s name was Lightning II, now the namesake of the F-35).

According to an Air Force Museum fact sheet, Northrop made the decision to maximize the YF-23’s stealth capabilities and speed, figuring that making the plane harder to see would help it win fights.

Lockheed, on the other hand, chose to add thrust vectoring to make its design a better dogfighter. The Air Force chose Lockheed’s design.

But the YF-23 nearly made a comeback when the Air Force was seeking an interim bomber, according to a 2004 report by Flight International.

We don’t have much combat experience to tell us how well the F-22 performs (they did carry out some strikes in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), but the YF-23 might have made an excellent replacement for the F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft that retired in 1996.

4. Boeing X-32

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
The X-32 takes off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, from Little Rock AFB in 2001. The X-32 was one of two experimental aircraft involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The program is intended to provide a universal air attack platform for all branches of the American armed services. (DOD photo)

We talked about this bird before. The fact of the matter is that the Boeing X-32 just missed out, arguably because of the Lockheed demonstrator’s lift-fan performance.

In this case, playing it safe potentially cost Boeing what could be the largest fighter contract in history.

That being said, the X-32B’s use of the more-proven thrust-vectoring to acquire its V/STOL capability might have cut down on the RD time – and costs – enough to get to the Marines sooner.

With Hornets falling out of the skies (one Hornet crash off Okinawa was fatal for the pilot), that may have been very important – even if the plane had the nickname “Monica.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

How bureaucratic nonsense made the M16 less effective

When the Department of Defense first started buying AR-15s, they were clean, fast-firing, and accurate weapons popular with the airmen and Special Forces soldiers who carried them. But as the Army prepared to purchase them en masse, a hatred of the weapon by bureaucrats and red tape resulted in weapon changes that made the M16s less effective for thousands of troops in Vietnam.


4 of the coolest planes that might have been

During a lull in the fighting in the Citadel, a Marine takes time out to clean his M16 rifle.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

(A note on measurements in this article: Most of the historical data in this article came from when the Army still used inches when discussing weapon calibers. The most common measurements are .22-caliber, roughly equal to 5.56mm ammo used in M4s today and .30-caliber, which is basically 7.62mm, like that used by some U.S. sniper rifles. There is also a reference to a proposed .27-caliber, which would have been 6.86mm).

The AR-15 was a derivative of the AR-10, an infantry rifle designed by Eugene Stoner for an Army competition. The AR-10 lost to what would become the M14. But a top Army officer was interested in smaller caliber weapons, like the AR-10, and he met with Stoner.

Gen. Willard G. Wyman was commanding the Continental Army Command when he brought an old Army report to Stoner. The report from the 1928 Caliber Board had recommended that the Army switch from heavy rifle rounds, like the popular .30-cal, to something like .27-caliber. The pre-World War II Army even experimented with .276-caliber rifles, but troops carried Browning Automatic Rifles and M1 Garands into battle in 1941, both chambered for .30-caliber.

These heavier rounds are great for marksmen and long-distance engagements because they stay stable in flight for long distances, but they have a lethality problem. Rounds that are .30-caliber and larger remain stable through flight, but they often also remain stable when hitting water, which was often used as a stand-in during testing for human flesh.

If a round stays stable through human flesh, it has a decent chance of passing through the target. This gives the target a wound similar to being stabbed with a rapier. But if the round tumbles when it hits human flesh, it will impart its energy into the surrounding flesh, making a stab-like wound in addition to bursting cells and tissue for many inches (or even feet) in all directions.

That’s where the extreme internal bleeding and tissue damage from some gunshot wounds comes from. Wyman wanted Stoner to make a new version of the AR-10 that would use .22-caliber ammunition and maximize these effects. Ammunition of this size would also weigh less, allowing troops to carry more.

Stoner and his team got to work and developed the AR-15, redesigning the weapon around a commercially available .22-caliber round filled with a propellant known as IMR 4475 produced by Du Pont and used by Remington. The resulting early AR-15s were tested by the Army and reviewed by Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The weapons did great in testing, and both services purchased limited quantities for troops headed to Vietnam.

But, importantly, the bulk of the Army bureaucracy still opposed the weapon, including nearly all of the groups in charge of buying ammunition and rifles. They still loved the M14s developed by the Army itself.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Pvt. 1st Class Michael J. Mendoza (Piedmont, CA.) fires is M16 rifle into a suspected Viet Cong occupied area.

(U.S. Army Spec. 5 Robert C. Lafoon)

Approximately 104,000 rifles were shipped to Vietnam for use with the Air Force, airborne, and Special Forces units starting in 1963. They were so popular that infantrymen arriving in 1965 with other weapons began sending money home to get AR-15s for themselves. The Secretary of the Army forced the Army to take another look at it for worldwide deployment.

As the Army reviewed the weapon for general use once again, they demanded that the rifle be “militarized,” creating the M16. And the resulting rifle was held to performance metrics deliberately designed to benefit the M14 over the M16/AR-15.

These performance metrics demanded, among other things, that the rifle maintain the same level of high performance in all environments it may be used in, from Vietnam to the Arctic to the Sahara Desert; that it stay below certain chamber pressures; and that it maintain a consistent muzzle velocity of 3,250 fps.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

A soldier with an M-14 watches as supplies are airdropped into Vietnam.

(Department of Defense)

It was these last two requirements that made Stoner’s original design suddenly problematic. The weapon, as designed, achieved 3,150 fps. To hit 3,250 fps required an increase in the amount of propellant, but increasing the propellant made the weapon exceed its allowed chamber pressures. Exceeding the pressure created serious, including mechanical failure.

But Remington had told civilian customers that the IMR 4475-equipped ammo did fire at 3,250 fps as is. The Army tests proved that was a lie.

There was a way around the problem: Changing the propellant. IMR 4475 burned extremely quickly. While all rifles require an explosion to propel the round out of the chamber, not all powders create that explosion at the same rate. Other propellants burned less quickly, allowing them to release enough energy for 3,250 fps over a longer time, staying below the required pressure limits and preventing mechanical failure.

The other change, seemingly never considered by the M14 lovers, was simply lowering the required muzzle velocity. After all, troops in Vietnam loved their 3,150-fps-capable AR-15s.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

A first lieutenant stands with his M-16 in Vietnam.

(U.S. Army)

Instead, the Army stuck to the 3,250 fps requirement, and Remington and Du Pont pulled IMR 4475 from production. The Army turned to two slower-burning powders to make the weapon work, but that created a new issue. The powders created a lot more problems.

The new powders increased the cyclic rate of the weapon from 750 rounds per minute to about 1,000 while also increasing the span of time during each cycle where powder was burning. So, unlike with IMR 4475, the weapon’s gas port would open while the powder was still burning, allowing dirty, still-burning powder to enter the weapon’s gas tube.

This change, combined with an increase in the number of barrel twists from 12 to 14 and the addition of mechanical bolt closure devices, angered the Air Force. But the Army was in charge of the program by that point, and all new M16s would be manufactured to Army specifications and would use ball powder ammunition.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Pvt. 1st Class John Henson cleans his XM16E1 rifle while on an operation 30 miles west of Kontum, Vietnam.

(U.S. Army)

Rifle jams and failures skyrocketed, tripling in some tests. And rumors that M16s didn’t need to be cleaned, based on AR-15s firing cleaner propellants, created a catastrophe for infantrymen whose rifles jammed under fire, sometimes resulting in their deaths.

Many of these problems have been mitigated in the decades since, with new powders and internal components that reduced fouling and restored the balance between chamber pressure, muzzle velocity, and ballistics. Most importantly, troops were trained on how to properly maintain the rifle and were given the tools necessary to do so.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

DARPA made a device that turns insects into remote-controlled cyborgs

DARPA created a device that hijacks an insect’s brain and body turning it into a miniature drone.


Through a DARPA-funded program, scientists at the University of California invented a tiny rig that connects to an insect’s brain and flight muscles. Once implanted, the device takes over the insect’s body, turning it into a remote control cyborg capable of receiving flight commands wirelessly from a nearby laptop.

Engineers at CRASAR developed small robots to aid in search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief, but nothing they’ve made has come close to the size and capabilities of an insect. Rather than creating such a robot, the University of California scientists decided to take a shortcut. “Insects are just amazing fliers compared to anything we can build at that scale,” said lead engineer Michel Maharbiz in and interview with WIRED.

This is not the first time scientists used technology to control insects, according WIRED:

Researches have created remote-controlled crawling insects before, forcing a bug’s legs to move by electrically stimulating its muscles. It’s simple enough that you can even buy your own kit to commandeer a cockroach at home. But flying bugs are harder to hijack.

This video shows the University of California scientists controlling a beetle cyborg:

Read more: DARPA invented a robot that can learn from watching YouTube videos

Articles

A future Gulfstream executive jet could be a lot more than a plane for VIPs

When you think of the Gulfstream, you probably think of a jet that’s used by A-list celebrities and corporate CEOs – all of whom are living the high life.


Well, that is true. In fact, the Pentagon has a fleet of Gulfstream 550s dubbed the “C-37B” for the VIP transport role, including for President Trump (who owns a 757 of his own).

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
A model of a special-missions variant of the Gulfstream G550 for the USAF. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

But if all you see is a cushy transport for execs, you’re missing the potential of the Gulfstream, company officials say.

In fact, the plane could do a whole lot more than fly high-rollers in comfort. The company is using the G550 as a platform for multiple missions, including for missile range instrumentation, a multi-mission version, and even for command and control. Some of these variants were being shown off by Gulfstream at a display at the 2017 SeaAirSpace Expo in National Harbor, Maryland.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
An AEW variant of the Gulfstream G550. This serves with the Israeli Defense Forces. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The G550 has a lot going for it. It has long range, over 6,750 nautical miles, or about 12 hours of endurance. It is also reliable – the Gulfstream website notes its 99.9 percent mission-ready rate means that this plane misses one flight every five years.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Front view of the Navy’s missile-range instrumentation version of the G550 (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

This bird could very well become a larger part of the DOD inventory – proving that airframes can do much more than you might think they can at first glance.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

DOD prioritizes research and development of artificial intelligence

Military doctrine identifies five domains of warfare — land, sea, air, space, and information. While borders and barriers define the four natural domains, the fifth dimension, with the advancements of artificial intelligence, is rapidly expanding with the potential to destabilize free and open international order.

Nations like China and Russia are making significant investments in AI for military purposes, potentially threatening world norms and human rights.

This year the Defense Department, in support of the National Defense Strategy, launched its Artificial Intelligence Strategy in concert with the White House executive order creating the American Artificial Intelligence Strategy.


The DoD AI strategy states the U.S., together with its allies and partners, must adopt AI to maintain its strategic position, prevail on future battlefields and safeguard order.

“The (executive order) is paramount for our country to remain a leader in AI, and it will not only increase the prosperity of our nation but also enhance our national security,” said Dana Deasy, DoD chief information officer.

Deasy also launched the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in February 2019 to transform the DoD by accelerating the delivery and adoption of AI to achieve mission impact at scale. The goal is to use AI to solve large and complex problem sets that span multiple services; then, ensure the services and components have real-time access to ever-improving libraries of data sets and tools.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Col. Jason M. Brown is the Air Force Lead at the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center believes developing robust artificial intelligence capability is necessary to stay inside a potential adversaries decision making loop.

(Peter Ising)

“The United States needs to drive the development of AI otherwise our adversaries will and we can’t rely that certain adversaries or rivals out there won’t develop AI that meets our standards when it comes to ethics, safety and surety,” said Col. Jason M. Brown, the Air Force lead for the JAIC.

For the DoD that also means working hand in hand with partners and industry leaders in technology and innovation to get smarter, faster.

At the 2019 Air Warfare Symposium, Mark Cuban, renowned entrepreneur and investor, spoke about the world industry competition in AI.

“It’s scary,” Cuban said. “AI is not just important — it’s everything. That’s how the battles (of the future) will be fought.”

Cuban explained China has a huge advantage because they are doing things the U.S. won’t and they have made AI a national focus over the last couple of years.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Stephen Wilson discusses the need for developing artificial intelligence capabilities with Mark Cuban at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. Fla. in Feb. 2019.

(U.S. Air Force)

“In order to do AI it’s not just about capturing data, which is important, it’s not about algorithms and research into AI; it’s how fast can you process,” Cuban said. “If there’s somebody that has a (fabrication facility) in China that’s building more advanced processors that’s just as important as keeping track of warheads.”

Brown believes AI deterrence will soon be on par with the mission of nuclear deterrence.

“If our adversaries see us moving at a speed and scale because it’s enabled by AI, that will clearly get their attention,” Brown said. “I’d much rather be in the driver seat as we develop these capabilities than to play catch up.”

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

Articles

15 astounding technologies DARPA is working on right now

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is responsible for some of the world’s most significant scientific and technological breakthroughs.


DARPA has had a hand in major inventions like GPS, the internet, and stealth aircraft. And it’s always developing new technologies — military or intelligence-related systems that could end up having a huge impact outside the battlefield as well.

We’ve looked at some of DARPA’s active projects, and found some of the more astounding systems that are currently in the works.

Bullets that can change direction in flight

Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) are the military’s first self-guided bullets.

EXACTO bullets are able to change their path during flight to correct for the movement of a target or any other factors that might have driven the bullet off course.

The bullets feature optical tips that can detect lasers on a target. Tiny fins on the bullets then guide the bullet towards that laser.

The Pentagon successfully conducted a live-fire test utilizing these rounds.

High-energy lasers

The High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program is an ambitious DARPA project aimed at neutralizing surface-to-air missile threats that aircraft may encounter.

Generally, surface-to-air missiles are faster than the plane they’re targeting, making it difficult for an aircraft to evade fire. The HELLADS program attempts to use lasers to disable incoming missiles.

DARPA is also planning on increasing the strength of the HELLADS laser in order to make it an offensive weapon capable of destroying enemy ground targets.

Flying trucks

The ARES program, a Skunk Works extension of DARPA’s Transformer program, is an attempt to develop an actual flying car.

ARES will be a dual-mode vehicle capable of both driving on the ground and achieving high-speed vertical takeoff and landing. Twin tilting fans will allow the vehicle to hover and land. The vehicle can also configure itself for high-speed flight.

DARPA hopes that the ARES will be especially resistant to IEDs — while also being able to evade aerial threats, like air-to-air missiles.

Robotic pack animals

The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) introduced by DARPA and in development by Boston Dynamics is a mobile, semi-autonomous, four-legged robot that can function as a beast of burden on the battlefield.

Boston Dynamic’s AlphaDog can currently go70% to 80% of the places that troops are capable of walking. The prototype can carry hundreds of pounds of gear, lightening the burden for soldiers. It is currently taking part in testing trials alongside Marines in Hawaii.

Self-calculating gun scopes

DARPA’s One Shot XG program aims to improve the accuracy of military snipers through a small mountable calculation system that can be placed either on a weapon’s barrel or on its spotting scope.

The One Shot system is designed to calculate a number of variables, such as crosswind conditions, the maximum effective range of the weapon, and weapon alignment, using an internal Linux-based computer. The system would then indicate an ideal aim point for the marksman.

The One Shot XG began testing in March 2013.

A system that provides almost immediate close air support

The tactic of close air-support — in which soldiers call in attack aircraft to gain advantage in the midst of a ground engagement — has remained relatively unchanged since its emergence in World War I. In conventional close air support, pilots and ground forces focus on one target at a time through voice directions and a shared map.

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program is aimed at radically redefining the concept.

PCAS would enable ground agents to share real-time situational awareness and weapons data with aircraft crews. This would allow an aircrew to focus on multiple targets simultaneously.

The PCAS is also designed to significantly reduce the time between calling in an airstrike and an aircraft’s arrival on the battlefield.

Material that allows soldiers to climb up walls

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

www.darpa.mil

Geckskin supporting 660 pounds on a glass panel

US soldiers must operate in ever condition imaginable, including environments rife with physical obstacles that require soldiers to rely on ropes, ladders, or other heavy-climbing tools.

To overcome this challenge, DARPA has initiated the Z-Man program.

Z-Man seeks to replicate the natural climbing ability of geckos and spiders. One of the main products of the Z-Man program is “Geckskin,” a synthetically produced high-grip material. In a 2012 trial, a 16-square-inch sheet of Geckskin successfully attached to a glass wall — and managed to hold a static load of 660 pounds.

Technologies that eliminate language differences

The Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT) program is exploring ways to allow translation and linguistic analysis for both online and in-person communications.

The initial phases of the program are aimed at aiding soldiers and officials with active translation of English into a listener’s native language and vice versa. DARPA plans on eventually expanding BOLT into a tool that could allow everyone to communicate fluidly without having to learn each other’s language.

A drone that can stay airborne for years

DARPA awarded a $89 million contract to Boeing to develop the Solar Eagle unmanned drone.

Part of DARPA’s Vulture II program, the Solar Eagle is designed to stay in the air for a minimum of five years using solar energy. The drone will have a 400-foot wing span, equivalent to a forty-story building, and can fly at stratospheric altitudes.

The drone will have intelligence, communications, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions.

A system that gives soldiers enhanced optical awareness

The Soldier Scentric Imaging via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) began in 2011 but is still at an early point in development. The program imagines a final system comprised of optical sensors that are both soldier and drone-mounted, allowing a synthesis of information that greatly increases battlefield awareness.

The program could provide soldiers with second-by-second information relating to their missions using a completely hands-free system.

A stratospheric airship

The Integrated Sensor IS Structure (ISIS) is a joint DARPA/Air Force project of “unprecedented proportions.”

The program aims to create an autonomous, unmanned high-altitude airship capable of conducting persistent wide area surveillance, tracking, and engagement of air and ground targets for a ten-year period. The airship will be fully solar powered as well.

Naval supply payloads hidden at the bottom of the ocean

Re-supply in remote sections of the ocean is one of the key difficulties that the Navy faces.

The Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) program envisions the deployment of supply stockpiles throughout the bottom of the earth’s oceans. These supplies will be placed in capsules that can survive for years under extreme ocean floor-level pressure.

When needed, a passing ship would be able to send a signal to the supplies, causing them to rapidly rise through the water to the ship.

Helicopters that can function like planes

The VTOL X-Plane further pushes the boundaries of hybrid-wing aircraft beyond what the V-22 Osprey can already accomplish.

DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane envisions a new type of aircraft that can maintain a flight speed of 345 to 460 miles per hour, but is still capable of super-efficient hovering while carrying at least 4,800 pounds of cargo.

The X-Plane is scheduled for three phases of development between October 2013 and February 2018.

Satellites that can provide on-demand imaging

DARPA wants military personnel to be able to call upon satellites to provide up-to-date imagery for tactical pre-mission planning. Its Space Enabled Effects For Military Engagements (SeeMe) program would allow soldiers to look at updated satellite imagery on-demand.

The SeeMe program would consist of a number of satellites that travel in a set band across the earth. This satellite constellation would provide precise imagery for any location within the pre-set band within a 90-minute time frame, making the program a potentially invaluable asset for military intelligence.

The constellation satellites would fly for 60-90 days before burning up in the atmosphere, leaving behind no space debris behind.

A precise lightweight laser weapon

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

DARPA

The Pentagon is constantly attempting to reduce combat risk in urban situations where less-precise conventional weapons may cause unintended collateral damage.

DARPA’s Excalibur program is aimed at allaying these fears through light-weight laser weapon. Eventually, DARPA hopes the program will produce a 100-kilowatt laser that could be used in precision strikes against ground and air targets.

Articles

This man found $2.5M in gold stashed aboard a surplus Russian tank

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, military surplus gear is like a box of chocolates — you never know what’s inside until you open it up and look.


For one lucky buyer, Nick Mead, who owns a tank-driving experience business in the United Kingdom, a $38,000 purchase of a Chinese-built Type 69 main battle tank off of eBay was a bargain, since he scored $2,592,010 of gold that had been hidden in the vehicle’s diesel tank! That represents a net profit of over $2.55 million.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Chinese Type 69 tank. (Photo from National Defense University)

According to militaryfactory.com, a battle-ready Type 69 main battle tank is armed with a 100mm gun, a 7.62mm machine gun, and can be equipped with a 12.7mm machine gun. The tank has a crew of four. Over 4,700 of these tanks were produced by China.

But this tank, while produced by China, was exported to Saddam Hussein’s regime. Saddam bought as many as 2,500 Type 59 and Type 69 tanks. While many were destroyed during Operation Desert Storm, this one survived the BRRRRRT!

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Marines look over a captured Iraqi Type 69 tank. (DOD photo)

The tank is believed to have also taken part in the original invasion of Kuwait. During the occupation of that country, Iraqi forces looted just about everything that wasn’t blasted apart. That included gold and other valuables.

Mead discovered the gold when checking out the tank after he’d been told by the tank’s previous owner that he’s discovered some machine-gun ammo on board. Mead then discovered the gold hidden in the fuel tank.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Nick Mead holds one of the gold bars he discovered when checking out the Type 69 tank he bought on eBay. (Youtube screenshot)

Currently the five bars of gold, each weighing about 12 pounds, are in police custody as they try to trace the original owners.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The best naval air-defense system just went ashore

The major surface combatants in the United States Navy (plus a number of ships in foreign navies) use the Aegis combat system. Centered around the AN/SPY-1 radar, this system has been used to protect the United States Navy’s aircraft carriers from aerial threats. But this system is now being used to protect more valuable things – on land – like your city.


4 of the coolest planes that might have been

The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) launches a RIM-161 SM-3 surface-to-air missile.

(U.S. Navy photo)

According to materials obtained at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, one active-duty system is already active in Romania — and by the end of this year a second system will be active in Poland. These systems use the RIM-156 Standard SM-2 Extended Range Block IV missile, the RIM-161 Standard SM-3, and the RIM-174 Standard SM-6 Extended Range Active Missile.

The primary missile is the RIM-161. This missile has already proven it can hit targets in orbit – one was used by the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to shoot down an errant satellite in 2008. The missile is designed primarily for the anti-ballistic missile role, and is designed to secure a direct impact on targets.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

A RIM-161 SM-3 launches from a Mk41 vertical launch system.

(Missile Defense Agency photo)

Japan has also acquired Aegis Ashore to protect against North Korean missiles. The system has been involved in 46 tests, and has succeeded 37 times, an 80.4 percent success rate against ballistic targets. With a track record like this, it’s hard to understand why Aegis Ashore is not being placed on land in the United States.

This has not been a new development. A number of U.S. Navy ships – and some Japanese ships – with Aegis have been modified to shoot down ballistic missiles. But Aegis is also going ashore for active duty, protecting against the threat of ballistic missiles. This seems to be a very natural approach, after all. Much research and development has already been done on the system, and it’s easy to train personnel to use it.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Submariners practice lifesaving rescue techniques

Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and the Chilean submarine CS Simpson (SS 21) completed the submarine search and rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII off the coast of San Diego, Aug. 3-7, 2018.

CHILEMAR is a bilateral exercise designed to demonstrate interoperability between the United States submarine rescue systems and Chilean submarines, which includes a search and rescue phase. This is the eighth exercise of its kind and is conducted off the coast of San Diego biennially with the exception of CHILEMAR VII, which took place in 2017 off the coast of Talcauhano, Chile.


“CHILEMAR and similar exercises with our foreign partners are extremely important to Undersea Rescue Command as they provide nearly all of our opportunities to operate with an actual submarine,” said Cmdr. Michael Eberlein, commanding officer, Undersea Rescue Command. “These exercises provide assurance to our Navy, allies, Sailors and families, that URC can bring a real capability to rescue distressed submariners worldwide if a tragedy occurs.”

At the start of the exercise, Simpson bottomed off the coast of San Diego to simulate a disabled submarine that is unable to surface. Once bottomed, Simpson launched a Submarine Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (SEPIRB) which transmits the initial GPS position and other distress data to indicate a submarine in distress.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 and 45, a P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 and unmanned undersea vehicles from the newly established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron (UUVRON) 1 conducted simulated searches of the ocean floor to hone their ability to identify a bottomed disabled submarine.

With Simpson located, the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator positioned itself over their location to launch the Sibitzky Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). During a rescue, the Sibitzky ROV provides the first picture of a disabled submarine to URC. Using two robotic arms, the ROV is able to clear any debris from the hatch used for rescue and cameras provide critical information necessary for conducting a rescue such as the hull integrity of the submarine and its position on the ocean floor.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Navy Diver 1st Class Michael Eckert, assigned to Undersea Rescue Command (URC), serves as the aft compartment controller for URC’s pressurized rescue module (PRM), as the PRM mates with the Chilean Submarine (CS) Simpson (SS 21) on the ocean floor during CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

“Over the years, we have built a great relationship with the Chilean Submarine Force through the DESI program,” said Cmdr. Josh Powers, Submarine Squadron 11 deputy for undersea rescue. “This partnership allows us to continually build upon our rescue capabilities and the proficiency of both countries that comes with routine exercises such as CHILEMAR.”

Once the Sibitzky ROV has completed its assessment of the disabled submarine, the Pressurized Rescue Module can be deployed from the back of the Dominator. The PRM is a remotely operated submarine rescue vehicle capable of diving to depths of 2,000 feet and mating with a disabled submarine on the sea floor. The PRM is capable of rescuing up to 16 personnel at a time in addition to the two crewmembers required to operate it.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Chilean Cmdr. Federico Karl Saelzer Concha, commanding officer of the Chilean Submarine (CS) Simpson (SS 21), climbs into the pressurized rescue module (PRM) of Undersea Rescue Command (URC) during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

During CHILEMAR VIII, the PRM completed three open hatch mattings with the Simpson, allowing U.S. and Chilean Sailors to traverse between the PRM and the submarine to shake hands with each other on the ocean floor.

“The exercises conducted during CHILEMAR demonstrated the advanced rescue capability our Navy provides the world,” said Lt. Cmdr. Pat Bray, Submarine Squadron 11 engineering officer. “The operations carried out by the dedicated URC and Phoenix team were impressive!”

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator during the submarine rescue exercise CHILEMAR VIII.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek Harkins)


URC’s mission is worldwide submarine assessment, intervention and expedient rescue if there is a submarine in distress. The PRM is the primary component of the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS), which can be transported by truck, air or ship to efficiently aid in international submarine rescue operations.

Simpson is operating with U.S. 3rd Fleet naval forces as part of the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI). DESI enhances the Navy’s capability to operate with diesel-electric submarines by partnering with South American navies equipped with these vessels. This provides a degree of authenticity and realism to exercises, providing the Navy with opportunities to build experience both tracking and operating with them.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Russian beast is one of the biggest anti-aircraft missiles ever developed

Many of the most-well known anti-aircraft missiles are relatively small. The American FIM-92 Stinger is small enough to be carried by one person. The Sparrow can be carried by aircraft or launched from ships, and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow made the missile more compact while increasing performance.


But one anti-aircraft missile is simply huge. Meet the SA-5 Gammon, one of Russia’s many Cold War efforts to defend itself from Strategic Air Command’s bombers.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, this missile was huge, over 35 feet long. It had nearly 500 pounds of high explosives in its warhead, and came in at a weight of nearly eight tons. By comparison, the F6F Hellcat, the scourge of the Pacific Theater was 33 feet long, and weighted a bit over six tons. That’s right – this missile is larger than a World War II fighter.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
A SA-5 Gammon on its launcher. Was a similar missile the first kill for the Arrow? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

These missiles had a long reach, able to hit targets as far as 250 miles away, and with a top speed of over 5,600 miles per hour. But when it comes to combat, the SA-5’s record has been… spotty. In 1986, these missiles were fired at U.S. Navy jets, and missed.

The batteries didn’t regret their poor marksmanship for long, as A-7 Corsairs used AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, or HARMs, to put the batteries out of action.

The massive plane-killing missile remains in some countries’ inventory, including Iran, India, Poland, Syria and North Korea. Others, like Ukraine, inherited SA-5s after the fall of the Soviet Union. One of Ukraine’s missiles was responsible for the accidental downing of a Russian Tu-154 airliner in 2001, killing 78 people. The SA-5 was also notable for being the first kill of the Israeli Arrow missile defense system.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Two SA-5s on their single-rail launchers, while a third is on the ground. Their immense size is apparent. (Wikimedia Commons)

With continued upgrades, the SA-5 will stick around for a while. Check out the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h6l3j_bX5g
Articles

These glasses can turn any location into a simulated battlefield

Marines training on the use of indirect fires and air support can now practice their engagements nearly anywhere thanks to Augmented Immersive Team Training, an augmented reality tool that projects a digital battlefield onto any terrain.


4 of the coolest planes that might have been
Four viewpoints of exercise participants during an AITT test. In this GIF, Marines engage simulated enemy tanks near an objective. GIF: YouTube/usnavyresearch

Developed by the Office of Naval Research, the system allows Marines to wear a pair of goggles that takes video of the surrounding area and combines it with computer simulations of units. Then, the Marines can engage those targets with certain weapons systems or airstrikes to destroy the target.

Participants can also view the battlefield through special binoculars and laser designators.

All Marines going through the training are synced up to the same simulation, so they see the same targets in the same spots and can watch as another Marine targets and destroys an enemy force.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been
This is the view a participant sees when a truck is destroyed during an augmented reality training mission. GIF: YouTube/usnavyresearch

Instructors use a computer to add or remove enemy vehicles and troops in the simulation, allowing them to tailor the training to a unit’s needs and current ability levels.

The system was successfully tested in 2015 on a golf course after a series of upgrades and other tests. The goal is to allow Marines to practice engaging each other in force-on-force exercises without the cost or risk associated with training using live munitions and vehicles.

Trainers and students could also more efficiently conduct training since a botched engagement can be quickly reset and the difficulty could be changed on the fly by the instructor. And, the service would no longer need tailored ranges or simulation centers to train. Marines could take the kits with them to any open area.

See the system in action in the video below:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This new attack drone is made to destroy other drones

Anduril Industries, the military tech company founded by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, has unveiled a new kind of attack drone.

Anduril demonstrated the drone, which is capable of locking onto other drones and then knocking them out of the air to Bloomberg and NBC news. The drone seeks out target drones, identifies them, and then asks an operator’s permission to attack.

Anduril cofounder and CEO Brian Schimpf said the Interceptor weighs roughly the same amount as a bowling ball, and can go 90 to 100 mph.


“The only thing that can take out a swarm of fast drones is a bigger swarm of faster drones, and that’s exactly what we’re building,” Luckey told Bloomberg.

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

A render of Anduril’s Interceptor drone.

(Anduril)

The Interceptor is apparently ready to be deployed, as Bloomberg reports the Interceptor drones have already been shipped to military bases and conflict zones. Anduril declined to give any details about where exactly the drones have been sent when contacted by Business Insider.

Anduril has drawn criticism for its close work with the US government on President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, providing surveillance software and sentry towers.

Palmer Luckey set up Anduril in 2017 after he was dismissed from Facebook, which had acquired his company Oculus for billion three years earlier. Luckey has maintained that he was fired for his right-wing views, suggesting that a donation he made to a pro-Trump group which put up posters mocking Hillary Clinton could have been behind the firing. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a congressional hearing that Luckey’s political views had nothing to do with his dismissal.

Anduril received funding September 2019 which bumped its valuation up to id=”listicle-2640846630″ billion.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Marines compete to find the Corps’ most lethal tank crew

The hot California sun beamed, drawing beads of sweat, but the US Marines, Vietnam veterans and members of the local community were heedless. Hands holding phones, binoculars and video cameras hovered as they anxiously waited for another ground shaking explosion.

A murmur erupted from the sweat-slicked crowd perched on top of the Range 409A observation point as 4th Tank Battalion’s M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fired another dead-center hit during TIGERCOMP Aug. 29, 2019, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

According to Lt. Col. Matthew Zummo, the commanding officer of 1st Tank Battalion, TIGERCOMP has been the Marine Corps tank gunnery competition since 1996. The three Marine Tank Battalions compete to determine the Corps’ most lethal tank crew. Following a six-year break from 2003-2009, the competition was reignited in 2010.


“First Tanks is hosting this year’s competition,” said Zummo. “We selected Range 409A as the venue to enable a better spectator experience compared to the usual Range 500 at 29 Palms. The winning crew will have the opportunity to compete in the Sullivan Cup, which is the Army’s total force tank gunnery competition.”

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

US Marines selected to compete in TIGERCOMP meet the local and military community on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

US Marine veteran Michael Jiron watches the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

A medium tactical vehicle replacement at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

US Marine Corps videographer Pfc. Jacob Yost records an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

US Marine 1st Lt. Daniel Lyrla, operations officer in charge of planning TIGERCOMP, talks to the local and military communities during the TIGERCOMP awards ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

US Marines with 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve celebrate during the TIGERCOMP awards ceremony on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

In the end, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, collected the enormous TIGERCOMP trophy, the pride and joy of the tank community.

Stay tuned to watch the Marines compete against the soldiers in the Sullivan Cup, the Army’s precision gunnery competition. The next competition that will rigorously test US soldiers, US Marines and international partners is set for 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information