This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren't flown by the Army - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

No one is debating the effectiveness of the AH-64 Apache. It’s one of the deadliest combat aircraft ever fielded. In Afghanistan, its mere presence in the sky is enough to deter enemy fighters from even thinking about taking a shot on troops on the ground. However, there’s something to be said for close air support provided by fixed-wing aircraft. Of course, everyone is familiar with the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II and its ability to deliver huge volumes of precision fire on ground targets.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
The Air Force won’t get rid of the A-10 because they don’t want the Army to get it (U.S. Air Force)

In WWII, the Army Air Corps tore into German supply convoys with the P-47 Thunderbolt at low altitude. In Korea and Vietnam, the Navy and Marine Corps utilized the A-1/AD-4 Skyraider with great efficiency to support ground troops. Today, the Marine Corps still integrates its infantry with close air support through the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. By combining these two crucial components, the MAGTF is able to organically conduct combat operations with increased efficiency. Marines on the ground are supported by Marines in the air and everyone speaks the same language and knows what the other needs to do their job. So, why doesn’t the Army do this?

After the creation of the Air Force in 1947, the military needed to clearly define its purpose amongst the established branches. In 1948, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal held a meeting with the service chiefs in Key West, Florida to do just that. Due to the location of the meeting, the policy paper that resulted is commonly referred to as the Key West Agreement. Broadly, the agreement gave the Air Force control of everything in the sky. The Air Force’s functions included air superiority, strategic air warfare, close combat and logistical air support, aerial intelligence gathering, strategic airlift, and even maritime operations like antisubmarine warfare and aerial mine-laying. However, the agreement did provide for the Navy to retain its combat air arm “to conduct air operations as necessary for the accomplishment of objectives in a naval campaign.” The Army, on the other hand, made out like a bad divorce. Army aviation assets were reduced to solely reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes.

The Key West Agreement was built upon with the Pace-Finletter Memorandum of Understanding of 1952. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter came together to expand the Army’s allowed aviation capabilities. In an effort to restrict the Army’s use of combat aircraft, the Key West Agreement limited the weight of Army rotary-wing aircraft. With the Pace-Finletter MOU, this weight restriction was removed, paving the way for combat helicopters like the UH-1 Huey gunship, AH-1 Cobra, and AH-64 Apache. However, it did place an arbitrary weight restriction of 5,000 pounds on Army fixed-wing aircraft. Although this restriction was later modified, it set the precedent to make the Army reliant on the Air Force for close air support and airlift.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
The Army CV-7 Buffalo (U.S. Army)

If the previous agreements weren’t enough, the Johnson-McConnell Agreement of 1966 was one more blow to Army fixed-wing aviation. In Vietnam, mountainous terrain made resupply by airlift difficult with the Air Force’s primary cargo planes like the C-123 Provider which required 1,750 feet of runway to take off. To address this problem, the Army employed the CV-2 Caribou and planned to acquire the CV-7 Buffalo airplanes. Both planes could perform short takeoffs and landings while carrying more cargo than the Army and Air Force’s helicopters could lift in and out. This didn’t sit well with the Air Force and private negotiations were held between Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson and Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell. The resulting agreement forced the Army to relinquish control of the CV-2 and CV-7 to the Air Force. However, the Air Force did relinquish its sweeping control over rotary-wing aircraft. This expanded the Army’s ability to field helicopters and resulted in the diverse fleet that the Army Aviation Branch fields today.

While the Army doesn’t fly CAS airplanes like the A-10 and is still technically restricted from acquiring new CAS airplanes like the A-29 Super Tucano, it’s worth noting that the Army does have some fixed-wing aircraft. The Army flies nealy 200 turboprop R/C-12 Hurons for light transport and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Something that will further surprise most people is that the Army does fly jet aircraft for VIP transport. The UC-35 is based on a Cessna business jet and the C-37 and C-20H are based on Gulfstreams.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
The C-12 is the one airplane that active duty Army aviators can select out of flight school (U.S. Army)

Though these 20th century agreements prevent the Army from flying combat airplanes, advancements in rotary-wing technology have led to high-speed helicopters like the S-97 Raider and large tiltrotor aircraft like the V-280 Valor. Aircraft like these will carry Army Aviation into a new age of aircraft and allow soldiers in the sky to retain the advantage on the battlefield.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How America’s most troubled aircraft will define the future

The V-22 Osprey has a spotty safety record, costs twice as much as originally advertised, and has a cost-per-flight-hour higher than a B-1B Lancer or F-22 Raptor when including acquisition, modification, and maintenance costs. So, why are all four Department of Defense branches of the military looking to fly the V-22 or something similar?


This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

U.S. Marine Corps parachutists free fall from an MV-22 Osprey at 10,000 feet above the drop zone at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. on Jan. 17, 2000.

(U.S. Navy photo by Vernon Pugh)

First, let’s take a look at the Osprey’s weaknesses, because they are plentiful. The tilt-rotor aircraft is heavy, and keeping it aloft with two rotors requires a lot of lift, producing a lot of rotorwash. The rotorwash is so strong, in fact, that it’s injured personnel before, and it forces troops attempting to fast rope from the bird must do so at higher altitudes amid greater turbulence.

Which, yes, is scary and legitimately dangerous.

Meanwhile, the Osprey causes more wear and tear on the ships and air fields from which it operates. The large amount and high temperatures of its exhaust tears apart launch surfaces. And its own acquisition and maintenance costs are high.

They’re 0 million a pop, twice what they were initially expected to cost. And, after accounting for all costs, the Air Force estimates it pays almost ,000 for every hour one of the planes is aloft. The maligned F-35A only costs an additional ,000.

So, if the aircraft is dangerous and expensive, how could it possibly be the future of military aviation?

First, it’s actually a fairly safe aircraft. While 2017 was a bad year for the Osprey, accounting for three Class A accidents, mishaps that cost the government million or more, that only raised the Osprey’s accident rate to 3.27 per 100,000 hours flown, only a little above the 2.72 average for aircraft across the Corps. Go to the start of 2017, before its worst period, and the rate is 1.93 (2017 was actually a bad year for Navy, Air Force, and Marine aviation as a whole).

So, not great, but worth bearing if the aircraft fills a particular role that you really need to fill.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

U.S. Marines with India Company 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command conduct a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel exercise August 19, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Teagan Fredericks)

And the V-22 does indeed fill a unique role. Its ability to fly like a plane most of the time but then hover like a helicopter when needed is changing everything from combat search and rescue to special operations insertions to replenishment at sea.

See, fixed-wing aircraft, planes, can typically fly farther and faster while carrying heavier loads than their rotary-wing brethren. But, rotary-wing aircraft, helicopters, can land on nearly any patch of flat, firm ground or ship deck. Tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22 can do both, even though it can’t do either quite as well.

It’s a jack-of-all-trades sort of deal. Except, in this case, “Jack of All Trades” is master of a few, too. Take combat search and rescue. It’s typically done with a helicopter because you need to be able to quickly land, grab the isolated personnel, and take off again, usually while far from a friendly airstrip. But the Osprey can do it at greater ranges and speeds than any helicopter.

Or take forward arming and refueling points, where the military sends personnel, fuel, and ammunition forward to allow helicopters to refuel and rearm closer to the fight. Setting these up requires that the military quickly moves thousands of pounds of fuel and ammo quickly, either by truck or aircraft.

Doing it with aircraft is faster, but requires a heavy lift aircraft that can land vertically or nearly so. Again, the V-22 can carry similar weight at much greater ranges than most other vertical lift aircraft. The Army’s CH-47F has a “useful load” of 24,000 pounds and a range of 200 nautical miles. The Osprey boasts a 428 nautical mile range while still carrying 20,000 pounds. And, it can ferry back and forth faster, cruising at 306 mph ground speed compared to the Chinook’s 180.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

Air Force CV-22 in flight.

(U.S. Air Force)

Or look at Navy replenishment at sea, a job currently done by 27 C-2A Greyhounds, but the Navy is hoping to use 38 CMV-22Bs instead. When the CMV-22B uses rolling takeoffs and landings, it can carry over 57,000 pounds compared to the C-2A’s 49,000. And it can carry heavy loads further, lifting 6,000 pounds on a 1,100-nautical mile trip while the C-2A carries 800 pounds for 1,000-nautical miles.

Even the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces set up for crisis response in Central Command and Africa use the V-22 because, again, the range and lifting capability. In this case, it allowed them to base the Marines at fewer places while still responding quickly across their area of operations to everything from embassy reinforcements and evacuations to supporting combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations.

Meanwhile, the Marines are looking to turn some V-22s into gunships, either by bolting the weapons onto aircraft that could still operate as troop transports or creating a combat-focused variant of the V-22, like a tilt-rotor AC-130. And the Marines also tapped the tilt-rotors to carry the President’s staff and security when he travels in Marine 1.

So, why all the haters at places like War Is Boring? Well, the V-22 is very expensive. That ,000-per-flight-hour price tag makes the Air Force version that branch’s eighth most expensive plane. And getting the V-22 operationally superior to the C-2A required lots of expensive modifications and still doesn’t allow it to deliver supplies in a hover on most warships because of the hot exhaust mentioned above.

So, the Navy had to make expensive modifications to an expensive tilt-rotor aircraft so that it could do the job of a cheaper fixed-wing aircraft. But if the original, fixed-wing aircraft had gotten the upgrades instead, there’s a potential argument that it would’ve been made just as capable for much less.

Meanwhile, the V-22’s safety problems are often over-hyped, but there are issues. The C-2A has had only one major operational incident since 1973. The V-22 had three last year. This problem of cost vs. added capability comes up every time the V-22 is suggested for a new mission. It’s an expensive solution in every slot.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

The Bell V-280 Valor is a proposed successor to the V-22.

(Manufacturer graphic, Bell Helicopters)

But when people on the opposite side make grand claims like, “Versatile V-22 Osprey Is The Most Successful New Combat System Since 9-11,” they aren’t exactly wrong. Despite all of the V-22’s problems, the Army is considering tilt-rotors for its next generation of vertical lift aircraft and the rest of the Department of Defense is already flying the V-22s. That’s because tilt-rotors offer capabilities that just can’t currently be achieved with other designs.

An important note, though, is that the Army may not opt for the V-22, or a tilt-rotor at all. The two aircraft seemingly at the top of the Army’s list for the Future Vertical Lift Program are the V-280—a Bell aircraft descended from the V-22, and the SB-1 Defiant—a compound helicopter design with two stacked rotor blades and a rear propeller. Boeing is part of the V-22 project, but actually backed Sikorsky and the SB-1 Defiant when it came time to look at the Army’s future.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

A manufacturer graphic showing the SB-1 Defiant, a proposed compound helicopter to replace the UH-60, picking up troops. The SB-1 Defiant is in competition with the V-280, a tilt-rotor successor to the V-22.

(Dylan Malysov, CC BY-SA 4.0)

So, while the troubled tilt-rotor has won over at least a few proponents in three of the DoD branches, it may fall short of garnering all four, especially if the Army decides that tilt-rotor acquisition and maintenance is too expensive.

Whichever way the Army goes, it will decide the face of military aviation for a decade. A few dozen V-22s have been sold to American allies, and the U.S. has bought a few hundred, but the Army wants its next generation of vertical lift assets to all be part of the same family, and it needs to replace 2,000 UH-60 Blackhawks and 3,000 other helicopters in coming decades.

Whatever America’s largest military branch chooses will likely set the tone for follow-on American purchases as well as the fleets of dozens of allies. So, Bell has to prove that one of the military’s most troubled and expensive aircraft is still the face of the future.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The new Air Force rescue helicopter is close to delivery

The Air Force is one step closer to getting the new Pave Hawk. The first HH-60W has started the process of final assembly two months ahead of schedule and will be set to make its first flight by the end of this year.


“Final assembly of this first HH-60W helicopter marks a significant milestone for Sikorsky, our workforce, and the U.S. Air Force,” Sikorsky Air Force Programs director Tim Healy said in a Lockheed release. “We are on track to deliver this significant capability enhancement ahead of schedule.”

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
Artist’s rendition of the HH-60W. (Lockheed Martin image)

The HH-60W is slated to replace the 99 HH-60G Pave Hawks currently in service. The HH-60W features a number of improvements, including an internal fuel capacity of 660 gallons, just shy of twice as much as the amount of fuel carried in the UH-60M Blackhawk. The HH-60M medevac variant of the UH-60M is credited with a range of 275 nautical miles, which can be extended by attaching a 400-gallon, external tank of gas.

The HH-60W will also feature an integration of radar, defense systems, and other sensors to give the four-man crew more information to complete the mission of supporting the Air Force’s pararescue personnel. Healy said that this will make the HH-60W “the most thoroughly networked and connected vertical lift platform ever produced” and that it’ll bring the Air Force “unrivaled capability in high-threat environments.”

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter lands as an Army UH-60 Blackhawk prepares to pick up a medevac patient. The HH-60G will be replaced by the HH-60W. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

This first HH-60W and three others will serve as Engineering Manufacturing Development aircraft, and another five will serve as System Demonstration Test Articles. The contract also includes six training devices for aircrew and maintenance personnel. In total, the total Air Force has ordered 112 HH-60Ws. Whether the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps will get in on this chopper and further increase the production run remains unanswered, although a representative for Sikorsky told WATM, “Sikorsky is prepared to support the military’s needs should additional services be interested in purchasing the HH-60W, or in exploring whether this aircraft’s features could be used on other aircraft.”

One thing is for sure: The HH-60W is proof that the H-60 is going to be around for a long time.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Brazilian trainer thinks it can replace the Warthog

Brazil has had a decent aerospace industry centered on Embraer, a conglomerate that made everything from airborne radar planes to trainers. However, that industry has gotten a little too full of itself lately. They think one of their trainers can replace the A-10.

Now to be fair, this trainer, the Super Tucano, is doing some attack work with the Afghan Air Force and is a contender in the Air Force’s OA-X program, advancing to a fly-off with the AT-6. Two other contenders, the AT-802 and the Textron Scorpion, didn’t make it to the fly-off. Stinks to be them, but honestly, could any of them really replace the A-10?


But we digress. We’re not here to cyberbully a wannabe A-10 to the point that Selena Gomez has to consider making an aviation version of 13 Reasons Why, despite how much fun it would be to really make said wannabe feel really bad about itself. Even though it should… but again, we digress.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

The fact is, the P-51 Mustang could arguably fly circles around the A-29, but the A-29 makes for a decent trainer.

(USAF photo)

No, we are here to take a look at this plane, which is already giving honorable service in the fight against terrorism. It’s been dropping bombs on al-Qaeda and the Taliban for a bit. It’s in service with over 14 countries.

The Super Tucano boasts a top speed of 229 miles per hour (the P-51 Mustang could hit 437). It can carry rockets, bombs, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, air-to-air missiles, and gun pods for use against enemy forces. The plane also boasts a maximum range of 2,995 miles. Currently, 205 Super Tucanos are in service around the world.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

The United States Air Force is one of 14 countries using the Super Tucano.

(USAF photo)

While the winner of the OA-X competition has yet to be determined, the Super Tucano does have a decent track record as a trainer and light attack plane. Learn more about this Brazilian A-10 wannabe in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHqQ1u1yOI

www.youtube.com


MIGHTY HISTORY

The Navy’s Vigilante was designed to drop nukes at Mach 2

When you hear the term ‘vigilante,’ you think of someone who self-righteously takes it upon themselves to deliver violence to the bad guys. But there was one vigilante that made its mark not by bringing death and destruction to those who’ve earned it, but by spying.

The North American A-5 Vigilante was originally designed to be a nuclear-attack plane that would eject a nuclear bomb, attached to a pair of fuel tanks, out of the plane’s rear. The plane could also carry some bombs on the wings, but it’s intended purpose was to deliver a nuke from high altitude at Mach 2.


This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

An RA-5C lands on USS Saratoga (CV 60). Only 156 A-5s of all variants were built, most as the RA-5C.

(US Navy)

Well, that plan didn’t pan out — the program was marred with complications. First of all, the bomb and fuel tanks would sometimes come out when the Vigilante was launched from an aircraft carrier’s catapult. If you were to make a list of things you didn’t want to happen, accidentally dumping a live nuke on a carrier deck would rank pretty damn high.

Other times, the system simply wouldn’t eject the bomb as expected or the bomb/fuel tank package wouldn’t stay stable. Meanwhile, the ballistic missile submarine was coming into its own, provingto be a far more reliable nuclear delivery system.

Now, most projects characterized bythese kinds of problems would be in for a world of hurt, but the A-5’s speed and high-altitude performance instead gave it a second life — as a reconnaissance plane.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

While it is flying sedately now, the RA-5C was capable of going very fast and very high.

The RA-5C became the definitive version. It dispensed with the bomb and the weapons bay was used for fuel tanks. Catapult launches, though, still sometimes meant the tanks got left behind, starting a fire. But this plane used cameras, infrared sensors, and electronic warfare sensors to monitor enemy activities.

A total of 156 A-5s were built over the production run. Of those, 91 were built as RA-5Cs — 49 other models were later converted to that variant. The plane left service in 1979. Though some consider it a disappointment — the A-3 Skywarrior family of planes outlasted it by over a decade — but none can deny that it was an excellent reconnaissance aircraft.

Learn more about this vigilante turned spy in the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fmHOPmBSFI

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the light attack aircraft the Saudis might buy

The Textron Scorpion has been competing for the OA-X contract lately, but while the Air Force seems all too willing to ignore what could be a very capable light-attack plane, it could soon find a launch customer. That customer is Saudi Arabia.


This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S in its hangar. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Scorpion, a private venture by Textron, has been pitched as a potential trainer, light attack, or ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) platform. The aircraft, which first flew in 2014, is capable of carrying 9,000 pounds of weapons, flying as high a 45,000 feet, reaching a top speed of 450 knots, and having a maximum range of 2,400 nautical miles, according to MilitaryFactory.com.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
Textron AirLand’s armed Scorpion (Textron AirLand)

The Saudis signed a $110 billion arms deal with the United States earlier. Big-ticket items in the deal included four frigates based on the Littoral Combat Ship, as well as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile systems, and M1A2 Abrams tanks. However, the Scorpion could be an interesting pick for the Saudis.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia sign a Joint Strategic Vision Statement. (Photo from The White House Flickr)

The aircraft is easy to maintain – and its long range could be very useful given the vast distances involved on the Arabian Peninsula. It also comes cheap, allowing the Saudis to buy a lot of airframes. That last item becomes very important in an era where a new F-35 can cost as much as $100 million.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
A Textron Scorpion experimental aircraft sits at Holloman AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

The production-ready version of the Scorpion will be at the Dubai Air Show in the United Arab Emirates. That plane will feature a Garmin 3000 avionics suite. You can see a video about the potential Saudi order of this plane below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itIpxdxExFk
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Leaked photo shows China is building a new supercarrier

The Chinese shipbuilder that’s constructing Beijing’s third aircraft carrier, Type 002, leaked an artist’s impression of that carrier on social media in late June 2018 that heightened intrigue about China’s naval ambitions before quickly taking it down.

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation photo showed the future Type 002 with a large flight deck that featured an angled landing strip and three electro-magentic catapult launching systems — all of which represent a technologic leap to the kind of supercarriers fielded by the US Navy.


It’s expected to be a 70,000-ton ship that’s finished by 2021, if all goes according to plan.

Compare that to China’s second carrier, Type 001A — it has a built-in ski jump on the flight deck and uses an old-fashioned short take-off but arrested recovery launching system that limits the speed of launches and the size of the armaments fighters carry.

Type 002’s features will be much more advanced than Type 001A , allowing the People’s Liberation Army-Navy to deploy a greater number and variety of aircraft — and to deploy the aircraft more quickly. If the supercarrier works as planned — and that’s a big, if — it would make the Chinese navy one of the most powerful in the world.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

Type 001A aircraft carrier after launch at Dalian in 2017.

And this appears to be just the beginning.

China has grand ambitions for a world-class navy, and is even building a fourth carrier , which will reportedly be nuclear-powered and possibly match the specifications of the US’ Nimitz-class carriers the US Navy has operated for half a century.

A modern supercarrier would leap China ahead of Russia, which has only one carrier that’s breakdown-prone, to rival only France and the United States, the only navies that boast nuclear-powered supercarriers that launch planes with catapults.

The “interesting question is what do they intend these carriers to do,” Daniel Kliman, a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider. “What would it enable China to achieve?”

“A lot of it’s prestige,” Kliman said. And prestige is also about domestic politics.

“There’s a lot of popular attention in China to its carrier program,” said Kliman, who added that a supercarrier is also an effective means to project power in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, much as the US has used them for decades.

“Beyond that, China does see a real need to protect its far-flung investments and protect market access overseas,” Kliman said. “Carriers are certainly useful in that role.”

Whatever the intentions, these supercarriers would vastly expand China’s ability to project power into contested areas at sea and to fly missions overland.

“Either they’re going to try to take the fight to the enemy or it’s about prestige,” Eric Wertheim, a naval expert with the US Naval Institute, told Business Insider, adding that it’s probably “a little bit of both.”

Wertheim said that people were seen crying when China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned because “there was such pride.”

Wertheim and Kliman also agreed that China would initially use their current and future carriers to project power in the East and South China Seas, especially the latter.

Ultimately though, China really doesn’t need carriers to achieve its territorial objectives in the East and South China Seas. “Everything’s within land-based aircraft,” Kliman said.

So “is their goal to just dominate Asia” or to project power in other waters? Wertheim asked.

In 2017, China opened an overseas military base (its first ever overseas base) in Africa, where it continues to invest and compete for interest.

“We really don’t know what [China’s] intention [are],” Wertheim said.

Featured image: An artist’s impression of Type 002.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Exclusive: Woman makes history by being the first to graduate Special Forces training

A female National Guard soldier is set to graduate and don the coveted Green Beret at the end of the month. SOFREP has learned that she passed Robin Sage, a unique Unconventional Warfare exercise and the culminating event in the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), earlier this week.

This marks a significant milestone for women across the force. She will be the first woman to have successfully completed a Special Operations pipeline and join and an operational team since President Obama opened all jobs within the military to women.


The graduation at the end of the month definitely will not be typical. Because of this historic milestone, graduation will be held in a closed hangar to conceal her identity. A Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (18C) with the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, the female soldier has big hopes of going active duty. However, her warm welcome may not be as welcome as she may like.

Just over five feet tall, her walking into a Special Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) team room will not be high fives and handshakes. Culture takes time to adapt to change. There are plenty of older generations still within the Regiment that believe there’s no place for a woman on a team. However, when talking to newer graduates, they accept it, if she can pass the same standards. So did the new graduate pass with the same standards? All reports indicate yes. She did, however, have her fair of challenges, recycling at least one phase.

For personal security reasons, SOFREP is withholding her identity.

While this is an incredible feat, she won’t be the first. Captain Kathleen Wilder became the first woman to be eligible for the Army’s Special Forces in the 1980s (the selection was somewhat different back then). Captain Wilder attended the Officers Special Forces Course at Fort Bragg but was told just before graduation that she had failed a field exercise and could not be a candidate for the military’s premier Unconventional Warfare unit. She filed a complaint of gender discrimination. Brigadier General F. Cecil Adams, who investigated it, determined that she had been wrongly denied graduation. No reports were found on whether or not she ever graduated.

Additionally, in the 1970s, Specialist Katie McBrayer, an intelligence analyst, had served with Blue Light, a Special Forces counterterrorism element before the creation of Delta Force, in an operational role. She hadn’t graduated the Q Course, however.

Delta Force and other units Tier 1 units have been recruiting women for a variety of roles for decades. So what took the SF Regiment so long? Well for one, combat fields were previously closed to females. However at Group, since 2016, women have been working at the Battalion level. So to walk around Battalion these days and see women is now a very normal thing. And these roles could be right beside the operators while deployed as mechanics, SOT-As, intel, and now as actual operators themselves. So watch out Fort Bragg, you soon may see this woman wearing a long tab.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here is Boeing’s plan to get grounded jets back in the air

Boeing said on Nov. 11, 2019, that it expected to resume delivering 737 Max jets in December, before the plane is approved to fly passengers again.

Boeing is working to get a fix to the troubled plane — as well as a pilot-training requirement — certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane maker is looking to have pilots start delivering jets to airline customers after the plane’s main certification is complete but before that training is finalized, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Boeing has faced increasing pressure as it halted deliveries while production continued. Though in April 2019 it cut its production rate to 42 planes per month from 52, it has had difficulty finding places to store the completed but undeliverable planes.


Resuming deliveries would also help Boeing weather mounting financial pressure. The company has sold only a handful of Max jets since Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in March 2019, and it’s concerned because of dwindling wide-body orders partly stemming from the Trump administration’s trade war with China.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

Ethiopian Airlines.

Though Boeing has maintained since the summer that it would be able to get the Max flying again by the fourth quarter, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines recently pulled the plane from their schedules until early March 2020.

Despite several recent setbacks, including being required to resubmit documentation outlining changes to the Max’s flight computer, Boeing last week cleared a step in the certification process following a series of successful simulator tests with the FAA, The Journal reported.

However, even if the plane is certified by the end of 2019, the pilot training isn’t expected to be approved until several weeks later, following a public comment period, The Journal reported. Until the training is approved and implemented, airlines would not be allowed to use the planes to carry passengers.

Even so, airlines are anxious to resume deliveries. Operators will need to service the stored planes and inspect jets before returning them to service. By beginning deliveries before the training is approved, Boeing and airlines would have some extra time to get the planes ready.

Boeing’s stock was trading about 5% higher on Nov. 11, 2019, following the announcement.

Can passengers trust Boeing?

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Boeing has been preparing to aggressively deliver jets, recruiting recently retired aircraft technicians to help prepare stored planes for delivery flights, an initiative first reported by Business Insider.

The 737 Max, the latest version of Boeing’s best-selling plane, has been grounded since March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

Investigations into the two crashes suggest that an automated system called MCAS, or the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, erroneously engaged, forcing the planes’ noses to point down, and that pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.

The system could be activated by a single sensor reading. In both crashes, the sensors are thought to have failed, sending erroneous data to the flight computer and, without a redundant check in place, triggering the automated system.

MCAS was designed to compensate for the 737 Max having larger engines than previous 737 generations. The larger engines could cause the plane’s nose to tip upward, leading to a stall — in that situation, the system could automatically point the nose down to negate the effect of the engine size.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The USS Ford’s weapons are an impressive collection of firepower

The Navy is now integrating and preparing weapons systems for its advanced Ford aircraft carrier during a now-underway 12-month period called Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) — one of several key final steps designed to prepare the ship for ocean warfare when the ship deploys in 2022.

While the Ford’s electromagnetic catapult, larger deck space and nuclear power technology are heavily emphasized in public discussion of the ship’s newer technologies, layered ship defenses, are commanding commensurate developmental attention – given the global threat environment.


This includes efforts to build in the latest interceptor missiles and close-range guns, such as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Block 2 (ESSM) and the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS).

Therefore, alongside the more emphasized items for the PSA, such as the advanced weapons elevator and advanced arresting gear upgrades, preparing ship defenses for deployment will also function as an indispensable element of the Navy’s strategy for the Ford-class.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

USS Ford

(U.S. Navy photo)

“The scheduled 12-month PSA/SRA will install remaining combat systems, complete deferred work and correct remaining discrepancies identified during sea trials and shakedown,” William Couch, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman told Warrior Maven.

The PSA is intended to build upon lessons learned and adjustments emerging from previous testing.

The ship’s crew has been “conducting post-delivery testing and trial operations that identify construction and design issues. They have been extremely effective in identifying any issues early, which helps us address them prior to returning to the fleet.” Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, said in a published Navy statement.

During testing and developmental phases immediately preceding the start of the PSA, the Ford successfully completed fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft integration and compatibility testing, air traffic control center certification and JP-5 fuel system certification, Couch added in the statement.

Demonstrating the ship’s defensive systems was also a vital element of these preparations for the PSA. While carriers often travel in Carrier Strike Groups, protected by cruisers and destroyers, the platforms are increasingly being viewed as ships in need of their own organic defensive weapons.

This is particularly true in light of the often discussed threats of Chinese DF-21D “carrier killer,” a long range anti-ship guided missile reported to reach ranges greater than 900 miles.

There is much discussion about how the USS Ford’s massively-increased onboard power technology, driven by four 26-megawatt generators, will potentially enable emerging weapons, such as defensive lasers and railguns.

In the near-term, however, the USS Ford will use the PSA to solidify integration of several upgraded ship defense weapons.

“Besides carrying over 75 warplanes, the USS Ford has some serious destructive capability. Engineers and designers included ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile), RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), and a Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS,” a report from Engineering.com writes.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

An RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew J. Haran)

Upgraded Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile

The USS Ford is expected to deploy with the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2, or ESSM, a weapon designed to track and destroy incoming enemy supersonic missiles and anti-ship missiles, among other threats.

The ESSM Block 2 is engineered with what’s called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can achieve improved flight or guidance to its target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, Navy and industry ESSM developers told Warrior Maven in previous interviews.

The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.

A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target. The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon officials told Warrior.

The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.

Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

The MK-15 Phalanx CIWS

Phalanx Close in Weapons System

The Phalanx Close in Weapons System, or CIWS, is an area weapon engineered to use a high rate of fire and ammunition to blanket a given area, destroying or knocking enemy fire out of the sky before it can reach a ship. The Phalanx CIWS, which can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, has been protecting ship platforms for decades.

CWIS fires a 20 mm Vulcan cannon mounted on a swiveling base. An essay in Naval Forces magazine called “CIWS – the Last Ditch Defense,” further specifics that the weapon fires “armor piercing tungsten penetrater rounds with discarding sabots.” CIWS fires a M61A1 Gatling gun out to ranges of 3 km.

Navy officials say the latest CIWS Block IB provides ships the additional capability for defense against asymmetric threats such as small, high speed, maneuvering surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

A CIWS overhaul in recent years has consisted of numerous upgrades to the weapon itself, converting the existing systems into what’s called the Phalanx 1B configuration. At the same time, the CIWS overhaul also includes the development and ongoing integration of a new, next-generation radar for the system called the CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2, Navy officials explained.

The Phalanx Block IB configuration incorporates a stabilized Forward-Looking Infra-Red sensor, an automatic acquisition video tracker, optimized gun barrels (OBG) and the Enhanced Lethality Cartridges (ELC),

The FLIR also improves performance against anti-ship cruise missiles by providing more accurate angle tracking information to the fire control computer.

The OGB/ELC combine to provide tighter dispersion and increased first hit range, a Navy official added. The Phalanx 1B fires Mk 244 ammunition, using the Enhanced Lethality Cartridge specifically designed to penetrate anti-ship cruise missiles.

The Mk 244 ammunition is engineered with a 48 percent heavier tungsten penetrator and an aluminum nose piece, according to information from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.

The Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 radar upgrade is a new digital radar that provides improved detection performance, increased reliability and reduction in sailor man-hours for system maintenance, developers said.

The Baseline 2 upgrade mitigates obsolete components inherent in the existing analog radar by introducing COTS-based (commercial off-the-shelf) signal processing coupled with a new signal source and mixer.

CIWS uses “Ku-band radar featuring closed-loop spotting technology capable of autonomously performing its own search, detect, evaluation, track, engage and kill assessment functions,” the Naval Forces essay writes.

The Baseline 2 radar also provides the Phalanx CIWS with “surface mode,” meaning it adds the ability to track, detect and then destroy threats closer to the surface of the water compared with previous models of the weapon, developers explained.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

Articles

This is why Trump’s announcement about 90 F-35s was a big deal

The F-35 is the most expensive military project in history. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that 90 F-35As would be bought.


According to a report by the Daily Caller, the $8.5 billion deal saved taxpayers almost $740 million in costs — a cost of $94 million per aircraft.

The F-35A is arguably the simplest of the three variants, taking off and landing from conventional runways on land. The F-35B, being purchased by the Marine Corps, is a V/STOL (for Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft that required a lift fan and vectored nozzle. The F-35C is designed to handle catapult takeoffs and arrested landings on the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
The F-35. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen. (Cropped)

The increased production of the F-35 has helped knock the production cost down. An October 2015 article by the Daily Caller noted that per-unit costs of the Zumwalt-class destroyers skyrocketed after the production run was cut from an initial buy of 32 to the eventual total of three.

Earlier this year, the F-35A took part in a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev., and posted a 15 to 1 kill ratio, according to reports by Aviation Week and Space Technology. BreakingDefense.com reported that the F-35A had a 90 percent mission capable rate, and that in every sortie, the key systems were up.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
An F-35A Lightning II parks for the night under the sunshades at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 18, 2016. The F-35’s combat capabilities are being tested through an operational deployment test at Mountain Home AFB range complexes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier)

So, with these details in mind, take a look at this video Vox released on Jan. 26 of this year, before the announcement of the contract, and before the F-35s did some ass-kicking at Red Flag.

popular

4 things you didn’t know about night vision goggles

For many years, U.S. troops have hunted our nation’s enemies under the blanket of complete darkness, scoring some impressive kills due, in part, to our outstanding ability to see at night — just ask Osama bin Laden.

Oh, wait. You can’t.

Today, you can head to a tactical store and pick up a relatively inexpensive set of NVGs for a few hundred bucks. Although many models seem to have issues with depth-of-field, cheaper night optics can still get you from A to B on a somewhat clear night.


Although this impressive piece of tech can be used by anybody, not many people look into how this technology works or how it came to be. Let’s fix that.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
The “Vampir” man-portable night vision system.

German origins

Despite the fact that we defeated the Germans in WWII, they can still claim credit over many important technological advancements. For example, they manufactured the first nighttime image enhancer. The concept was worked on as early as 1935 but wasn’t put in the hands of German soldiers until 1939.

However, only the most highly trained soldiers were issued this new technology to employ in night attacks. By the end of the war, Hitler’s army had also equipped nearly 50 Panther tanks with this tech. These tanks saw combat on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army
As seen through a night-vision device, an Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter prepares to land as Army Special Forces soldiers participate in a night infiltration and exfiltration exercise.
(Photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride)

Why green?

When you look into a set of NVGs, you’ll immediately notice the green display. This isn’t some arbitrary color choice on the part of the manufacturer — your eyes are more sensitive to that particular color.

When we say “sensitive,” we’re not referring to your current emotional status. It means our eyes detect this color naturally, making it easier to pick out shapes in the otherwise dark. In short, it’s easy on the eyes.

How NVGs work

The device detects low levels of light and amplifies them. You want a little more of a breakdown? Okay, let’s get scientific.

When dim light enters the NVGs, it hits an internal layer, called the “photocathode,” which releases electrons.
These electrons then hit a second layer called a “micro-channel plate,” where they get multiplied before hitting the third layer, called the phosphor screen.

After passing through that layer, the electrons are converted back into light. The more electrons the device produces, the higher the image quality. Check out the video below for a full breakdown.

You can build your own set at home

Although high-quality NVGs require some real ingenuity and tech to produce, Superhero Armory built a rudimentary set using a pair of LCD sunglasses, a small night-vision camera, and some LED lights.

Don’t believe us? Watch the video for yourself.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Only a handful of the Air Force’s B-1 bombers are ready to deploy

Despite high demand, there are only a handful of B-1B Lancer bombers available to take off at a moment’s notice.

The head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Air Force Gen. John Hyten, told Senate Armed Services Committee members the service has only six bombers that are ready to deploy.

“We have B-1B bombers; this is the workhorse of the Air Force today,” Hyten said during his tense confirmation hearing to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


“Right now, of all of our B-1 bombers, we have six of them that are fully mission capable: five split between Ellsworth Air Force Base [South Dakota] and Dyess Air Force Base [Texas], one is a test aircraft, 15 B-1s are in depot,” he said. “The remaining 39 of 44 B-1s at Ellsworth and at Dyess are down for a variety of discrepancies and inspections.”

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Air Force Central Command, takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gracie I. Lee)

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) officials told Task Purpose on July 31, 2019, there are seven fully mission capable bombers.

Hyten said the B-1 has borne the brunt of constant deployment cycles.

“We saw issues in the B-1 because we’re just beating the heck out of them, deploying them, deploying them. And so we had to pull back a little bit and get after fixing those issues. And the depots can do that if they have stable funding,” he said.

Gen. Tim Ray, commander of AFGSC, agreed that demand has outstripped available aircraft.

During a speech at the Deterrence Symposium in Nebraska on July 31, 2019, Ray spoke about “setting the pace” for deterrence, saying that sometimes the demand for resources wins out.

Earlier in 2019, Ray said the Air Force overcommitted its only supersonic heavy payload bomber to operations in the Middle East over the last decade, causing it to deteriorate more quickly than expected.

“We overextended the B-1s in [U.S. Central Command],” he told reporters during a breakfast with reporters April 17, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Ray said that’s why he recalled the aircraft to the U.S. to receive upgrades and maintenance to prepare for the next high-end fight.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagle fly in formation during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Cupit)

“Normally, you would commit — [with] any bomber or any modern combat aircraft — about 40 percent of the airplanes in your possession as a force, [not including those] in depot,” he explained. “We were probably approaching the 65 to 70 percent commit rate [for] well over a decade. So the wear and tear on the crews, the maintainers, and certainly the airplane, that was my cause for asking for us to get out of the CENTCOM fight.”

Last year, B-1s returned to the Middle East for the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years to take over strike missions from the B-52 Stratofortress. The last rotation of bombers from Dyess returned home March 11, 2019, according to Air Force Magazine.

By the end of March 2019, Ray had ordered a stand-down, marking the second fleetwide pause in about a year.

AFGSC officials said that, during a routine inspection of at least one aircraft, airmen found a rigged “drogue chute” incorrectly installed in the ejection seat egress system, a problem that might affect the rest of the fleet. Ray said his immediate concern was for the aircrews’ safety.

The aircraft resumed flights April 23, 2019.

The command again grounded the fleet over safety concerns last year over a problem also related to the Lancer’s ejection seats. Officials ordered a stand-down June 7, 2018, which lasted three weeks while the fleet was inspected.

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagles fly in formation during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Cupit)

That pause was the direct result of an emergency landing made by a Dyess-based B-1 on May 1, 2018, at Midland Airport in Texas.

Then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed speculation that the B-1 had to make an emergency landing after an ejection seat didn’t blow during an earlier in-flight problem.

Lawmakers took note this summer: The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee in its markup of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act requested that the Air Force offer a plan for how it will address the B-1’s problems. Committee members were aware that the B-1’s availability rates were in the single digits, according to Air Force Times.

The B-1’s mission-capable rate — the ability to fly at any given time to conduct operations — is 51.75%, according to fiscal 2018 estimates, Air Force Times recently reported. By comparison, its bomber cousins, the B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress, have mission-capable rates of 60.7% and 69.3%, respectively.

The Air Force has 62 Lancers in its fleet. It plans to retire the bombers in 2036.

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

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