US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

The 412th Test Wing, along with Air Force Global Strike Command and industry partners, held an expanded carriage demonstration with the B-1B Lancer bomber at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019. The demonstration showcased the feasibility of increasing the B-1B weapons capacity to integrate future advanced weapons.

The two potential programs — external carriage and long bay options — would allow the B-1B to carry weapons externally, significantly increasing its magazine capacity for munitions, as well as adding larger, heavier munitions, such as hypersonic weapons.

“The purpose of the demonstration was to show that we’re still able to move the bulkhead from the forward intermediate bay to the forward location; increasing the intermediate bay capacity from 180 inches to 269 inches,” said Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, AFGSC. “Additionally, we demonstrated that we can still carry weapons externally on six of the eight hard points, which increases our overall carriage capacity.”


Ross said the expanded capabilities will be conventional only, keeping the aircraft compliant with New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters Air Force, along with Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander, and other government and industry partners, were briefed on the potential expanded capabilities and how they would be able to adapt to future requirements.

“It increases the magazine capacity of the B-1B. Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally. Now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create,” Ross said. “This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the expanded weapons load that a new B-1 configuration could carry during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, provides a brief on the B-1B expanded carriage at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, Air Force Global Strike Command, explains a bulkhead modification to the B-1B bomber that allowed it to carry a notional hypersonic missile mock-up attached to a B-52H Conventional Rotary Launcher during a B-1B expanded carriage demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 28, 2019.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force weapons load crews conduct a training exercise on a B-1B Lancer with inert munitions at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sep. 13, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force Airman 1st Class Osvaldo Galvez operates a jammer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Moore and Tech. Sgt. Micheal Lewis attach an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine to the bomb racks in a B-1B Lancer at RAF Fairford, June 2, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

US Air Force Staff Sgt. Sergio Escobedo closes the crew-entry ladder at RAF Fairford, England, June 1, 2018.

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

“I was very adamant about making that happen because it was something that I wanted to have happen the whole time I was flying it,” Ross said. “I was ‘full afterburner’ to make sure we got this thing to where we are at, and to hopefully continue on to make it a reality.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Top Gun 2’ will fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet, not the F-35

The actor Tom Cruise on May 31, 2018, tweeted a teaser for the long-awaited sequel to the movie “Top Gun” — and in doing so, he wandered into one of the most heated debates in modern combat aviation and delivered a savage burn to the F-35.

The original “Top Gun” film was nothing short of a revelation for the US Navy. People around the US and the world saw fighter jets in a whole new light, and naval aviation recruitment shot up by 500%.

A new “Top Gun” movie, now 32 years after the first, could again spike interest in combat aviation at a time when the US military struggles to retain and attract top talent. But for the most expensive weapons system in history, it already looks like a bust.

Here’s the poster for the new “Top Gun.”


Notice anything? The F-35C, the US Navy’s long overdue, massively expensive new carrier aircraft, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-35’s main competitor, can be seen.

The F-35 community was not thrilled.

“Everybody that’s flown a fighter in the last 25 years, we all watched ‘Top Gun,'” retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, who flew F-35s and actually attended the US Navy’s Top Gun school, previously told Business Insider.

“Damn shame,” Berke said in response to the new movie’s choice of fighter. “I guess it will be a movie about the past!”

While experts agree that the F-35’s carrier-based variant, the F-35C, and its vertical-takeoff sister, the F-35B, represent the future of naval aviation, they’re just not ready for the big time yet.

The F-35B had its first operational deployment in 2018 in the Pacific, but the F-35C remains a ways off from adoption onto the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft supercarriers. Persistent problems with launching the sophisticated airplane off a moving ship have pushed back the schedule and resulted in huge cost overruns.

Meanwhile, the F-18 Super Hornet continues to do the lion’s share of combat-aviation work aboard aircraft carriers, and its maker, Boeing, has even offered an updated version of the plane that President Donald Trump entertained buying instead of the F-35.

In short, it’s an embarrassment to the F-35 program that mounting setbacks have pushed it out of a potentially massive public-relations boost.

“It’s a capable aircraft,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies, told Business Insider of the Super Hornet. “It’s just last century’s design.”

He added: “It is a missed opportunity.”

Berke pointed out that the producers of the new “Top Gun” may have gone with the Super Hornet over the F-35 because the Super Hornet has two seats, which could facilitate filming and possibly on-screen dynamics.

The popular aviation blog The Aviationist also pointed out that Cruise is holding an outdated helmet and that the photo does not appear to take place at the US Navy’s Top Gun school. But Hollywood sometimes makes mistakes.

“Hollywood doesn’t build movies around what makes sense — they build movies around what makes money,” Deptula said.

But despite what might have come as a slight sting to F-35 boosters hoping a new film could help usher in what they call a revolution in combat aviation, both Berke and Deptula said they were looking forward to the film.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ trailer is a love letter to the original for sure

The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick has got that lovin’ feeling, if by lovin’ feeling you mean hot shot pilots, motorcycles, beach volleyball, a military funeral, and Harold Faltermeyer’s killer music.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose”.

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.”

Top Gun: Maverick (2020) – New Trailer – Paramount Pictures

www.youtube.com

Watch the trailer — Top Gun: Maverick 

The music, I swear.

Directed by Oblivion’s Joe Kosinski, the film also stars Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, and Val Kilmer AKA “Iceman.”

The Top Gun pilots have upgraded their airframes (aviation has come a long way since 1986) from the F-14 Tomcat to the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

But that doesn’t meant the Tomcat doesn’t make an appearance…

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Here’s a little visual recognition test for you.

If you look at the very last shot of the original trailer (the middle image above), you can see a solo jet flying over the snowy landscape. Based on the angle of the vertical tails (more parallel than V-shaped) and the distance between the exhaust nozzles, that’s no F/A-18.

Could be a Tomcat, though. Fan theories would call it an Iranian Tomcat, to be more precise. Will the big bad in Maverick be Iran? We’ll find out June 26, 2020.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian weapons get between the US and India

Lawyers and policy and technical experts from the US Defense Department are in New Delhi, meeting with Indian officials to discuss a military-communications agreement that would boost the interoperability of the two countries’ armed forces.

The discussions — part of preparations for the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries’ foreign and defense secretaries, to take place in Washington in July 2018 — are a step forward, according to The Indian Express, as Delhi has been reluctant to sign the agreement, known as Comcasa, since it signed a military logistics agreement with the US in 2016, when the US named India a “major defense partner.”


India’s reservations stem in part from a lingering issue in the growing US-India military relationship: Delhi’s use of Russia-made weapons platforms.

Russia has long been India’s main weapons supplier. Delhi worked with Moscow to develop the BrahMos anti-ship and land-attack cruise missile, and India also fields Russia’s S-300 air-defense system.

India’s operational aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, is a Russian Kiev-class carrier-cruiser overhauled by Moscow for the Indian navy that carries Russian-made aircraft. India also operates squadrons of Russia-made MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter aircraft.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Indian Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya

India signed a $6 billion deal with Moscow in late 2016, agreeing to lease a Russian-made nuclear submarine, to buy four Russian frigates, to purchase the advanced S-400 air-defense missile system, and to set up a joint venture with a Russian firm to produce military helicopters.

India’s Defense Ministry is concerned that many of its Russian-made weapons, as well as its indigenous weapons systems, will not be compatible with Comcasa, according to The Indian Express, which also reports that defense officials are wary of US intrusions into their military communications systems.

The US has been seeking deeper relations with India for years. Delhi has bought $15 billion worth of US arms since 2008, and the US recently renamed US Pacific Command as US Indo-Pacific Command in recognition of India’s growing role in the region.

India sees the S-400 as a way to increase its air defenses, especially amid its growing rivalry with China. But its purchase has been an issue for Washington.

Delhi has said it will go ahead with the purchase of the missile system, despite the recent Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which aims to deter foreign individuals and entities from doing business with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

“In all our engagements with the US, we have clearly explained how India and Russia’s defence cooperation has been going on for a long time and that it is a time-tested relationship,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said early June 2018. “We have mentioned that CAATSA cannot impact the India-Russia defence cooperation.”

India reportedly wants an exception to CAATSA for its defense deals with Russia and plans to raise the issue during the 2+2 dialogue meeting.

“The S-400 deal has been on for a very long time, and we have reached the final stage of negotiations,” Sitharaman added. “That explains it.”

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has told Congress that “national security exceptions” must be made to CAATSA, which went into effect in January 2018.

Mattis said that while some countries with which the US is seeking stronger ties are looking “to turn away” from Russian-made weapons, those countries also need to keep doing business with Moscow for the time being.

“We only need to look at India, Vietnam and some others to recognize that eventually we’re going to penalize ourselves” by pursuing strict adherence to CAATSA, Mattis told senators in April 2018.

“Indonesia, for example, is in the same situation — trying to shift to more of our airplanes, our systems, but they’ve got to do something to keep their legacy military going,” Mattis added.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
(DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

China was the first foreign country to receive the S-400, but Turkey has also acquired it, adding to tensions with its NATO partners, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar also reportedly considering purchasing it.

Despite India’s commitment to the S-400 deal and Mattis’ emphasis on logistical considerations, the US is still cautioning India and other US allies about doing business with Russia.

US officials have indicated to India that not signing the Comcasa agreement could preclude India from getting high-end military equipment, like Predator drones, the sale of which the US approved in May 2018.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, head of the House Armed Services Committee, told Indian broadcaster NDTV in late May 2018, that the US was disappointed with India’s deals with Moscow, particularly the S-400 purchase, which he said “threatens our ability to work interoperably in the future.”

While there would be some “flexibility” in the law for countries with traditional defense ties to Moscow and sanctions on Delhi were unlikely, Thornberry said, the “acquisition of this technology will limit, I am afraid, the degree with which the United States will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology into whatever country we are talking about.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Marines want a 100-meter ‘Taser’ for non-lethal fights

The Marine Corps wants the defense industry to design a wireless, non-lethal munition capable of stunning individuals out to 100 meters.

The human electro-muscular incapacitation, or HEMI, munition is intended to be a small-caliber, non-lethal round that can be fired from current conventional small arms, according to a Sept. 24 solicitation posted on www.sibr.gov, a government website for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is designed to encourage small business to engage in federal research and development.

Currently, all the services field a version of the Taser International X-26 “Taser,” a pistol that fires a wire-tethered cartridge out to 25 feet to disrupt the body’s electro-muscular system for about five seconds.


The Marine Corps is “seeking innovative technologies to design” a HEMI munition capable of “hitting human targets at an effective range of 100 meters and physically disabling them for at least 30 seconds up to more than three minutes,” the solicitation states.

The projectile would have to be capable of withstanding the force of being fired from weapons chambered in calibers such as 9mm or 12-gauge, according to the solicitation.

“At least four previous DoD-sponsored SBIR efforts have been initiated on this technology area … but none led to the development of an effective HEMI munition that met the [Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program] capability gap,” it says.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Gunnery Sgt. Alexander H. Orellana, a non-lethal weapons instructor, fires the X26 Taser into the leg of Pfc. Luis E. CruzLopez with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Kuppers)

If successful, the new technology may not be cheap. The solicitation states that the Marines want a “low-cost” solution described as less than “id=”listicle-2608119323″,000 per round.”

“The prototype design may or may not be single use (i.e., parts of the design could be designed to be reusable),” the solicitation states. “This re-usability would be a design enhancement.”

The closing date for the solicitation is Oct. 24, 2018.

Early prototypes that pass initial testing will be “utilized to build additional (100+) advanced prototypes for a long-range, extended-duration HEMI munition,” according to the solicitation, which did not give a timeline for program completion.

In addition to the Marine Corps, “this developed capability to non-lethally disable/incapacitate individuals at distances in excess of 100 meters is needed to support the joint services, civilian law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, the Secret Service, and Customs and Border Protection,” it states.

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

Articles

US to evacuate Afghan interpreters ahead of troop withdrawal

The Biden administration told lawmakers Wednesday the US will soon start to evacuate thousands of Afghans who have assisted American troops for nearly two decades to other countries in an attempt to keep them safe while they apply for entry to the United States, The New York Times reported.

As the drawdown in Afghanistan enters its final stages, many veterans and some legislators have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis for the locals who have helped American forces during the past 20 years of war.

“When that last soldier goes wheels up out of Afghanistan, it is a death sentence for our local allies, the Taliban have made that clear in their words and in their actions as they hunt these people down right now as we speak,” Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and former Green Beret, said last week.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Marine Cpl. Devon Sanderfield and an Afghan interpreter communicate with a local man in Changwalok, Afghanistan. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Zachary Nola, courtesy of DVIDS.

More than 18,000 interpreters, security guards, fixers, embassy clerks, and engineers have applied for the Special Immigrant Visa, which takes more than two years on average to obtain. The Times reports that those applicants have 53,000 family members. A senior administration official told the Times family members would also be evacuated to another country to await visa processing.

Calls for the Biden administration to swiftly evacuate Afghan contractors have grown in recent months, with advocates fearing the Taliban could go “house to house” after Western forces leave, targeting interpreters and their families. The Taliban, meanwhile, said earlier this month that Afghans who helped foreign forces have nothing to fear as long as they “show remorse for their past actions” and don’t engage in future “treason against Islam and the country.”

Interpreters don’t trust that promise. The Taliban has tortured and killed dozens of Afghan translators during the past two decades, the news agency AFP reported.

“The Taliban will not pardon us. They will kill us and they will behead us,” Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter who worked with US forces between 2018 and 2020, told AFP.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Matthew Zeller, far left, in Afghanistan with his interpreter, Janis Shinwari, third from right, who later came to the US with Zeller’s help. Zeller has worked for years to bring interpreters and other Afghans to America. Photo courtesy of Matthew Zeller.

It’s not clear yet where Afghans will wait, or whether third countries have agreed to the plan. In a June 12, 2021, letter to President Joe Biden, Guam’s governor Lourdes Aflague Leon Guerrero asked that the island be a landing point for those in need, like it was in 1975 when the US evacuated approximately 130,000 Vietnamese refugees.

According to a document from the Truman Center obtained by Coffee or Die Magazine, the cost of flying Afghan allies to Guam would be relatively low. The Truman Center’s Matthew Zeller estimates the average price would be $9,981.65 per person, for a total cost of about $699 million for 70,000 evacuees.

“It sounds like a lot of money until you realize it’s an additional 8.3 hours of the DOD budget. But it’s a hell of a down payment in keeping Americans alive in future wars. Because this is how we’re going to show people that we keep our word,” Zeller said.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: US Army photo by Spc. Andrew Baker

MIGHTY TRENDING

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

After 10 years and 420,000 tons of steel, and at a devastating cost in lives and renminbi, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open — and the announcement came by a strangely curt Chinese President Xi Jinping in the port city of Zhuhai.

The opening ceremony was shrouded in some of the trademark confusion that has dogged the megaproject since its inception in 2009, with the big day having only just been announced in late October 2018.

In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing — a 35-mile (55-kilometer) bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai — as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting.


“I announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open,” Xi said.

With those accurate, though perhaps less-than-memorable words, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong caught the 700-strong audience, which included media members and dignitaries, on the hop.

It was an exercise in concision from a president who, almost a year ago to the day, opened the Communist Party congress in Beijing with a granular 3-hour, 23-minute speech summarizing his thoughts on a new era in socialism with Chinese characteristics.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Instead, before an audience of top officials including Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, Xi said his piece at the strategically located port of Zhuhai and left the podium as electronic fireworks flailed about on a television in the background.

Reporters on the ground, including Bloomberg’s Fion Li, were quick to express their surprise and disappointment.

Rhetorical revelry is a party tradition

Chinese leaders have a proud tradition of ponying up when history calls for it.

Deng Xiaoping, who while diminutive in stature was a political juggernaut in the 1980s, made a career with pithy insights that Chinese speakers around the world still quote and reexamine.

And while Mao Zedong may have presided over some of the least poetic policies of the 20th century, the Great Helmsman could turn a phrase when he had to, like this brutal and blunt firecracker from 1957.

As president, general secretary of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi has quickly and effectively concentrated influence into his sphere.

And Oct. 23, 2018’s event seemed tailor-made for a long-winded reflection on China’s increasingly successful exercise of soft power, its sheer engineering audacity, and the political genius of building a 55-kilometer crossing that continues to grow the mainland’s security apparatus and authority on both the semiautonomous gambling enclave of Macau and the city-state financial powerhouse of Hong Kong.

But in the end, the president perhaps decided to let the massive, looming achievement speak for itself.

It’s all part of the plan

The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined id=”listicle-2614804819″.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.

The 55-kilometer megastructure is a typically intimidating, awe-inspiring, and slightly pointless statement of state authority and universal purpose. It rises from the Sun and Moon Bay in the Zhuhai port like some giant, disoriented concrete serpent, snaking off mercurially into the distance.

The air is very thick too, with southern Chinese humidity and the ever-present eerie gray-brown pollution that wafts in blooms from heavy manufacturing out of the Pearl River Delta — the factory floor of the world — ensuring the megabridge in all its glory will be largely obscured from view year-round.

What it does provide, however, is direct access to both potentially wayward semiautonomous regions, binding the gambling enclave and the city-state tighter to the breast of the motherland. Indeed, it may be the angst of an ever-encroaching China that has tilted the president to such a rare and unexpected pithiness.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Site under construction in 2015.

Commentators have been quick to describe the project as a white elephant, noting that the lightly traveled crossing can hardly be a push for convenience but rather another covert expansion by Beijing as it extends its reach back into the supposedly autonomous enclaves of Hong Kong and Macau.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the second major infrastructure project binding Hong Kong to the mainland opened in just a few weeks, following a new high-speed rail connection that opened in September 2018 — the first time Chinese security were stationed on and bestowed authority in Hong Kong territory.

Certainly, there is anxiety in Hong Kong, with critics fearing the increasing inroads into the special administrative region’s territory by an ever-assertive mainland, while some local media has suggested that drivers on the bridge will be closely scrutinized by cameras that examine even their physical condition and how fatigued a driver is becoming.

The issues of territoriality may dominate the project for years to come; most of the bridge is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong vehicles and drivers, already hit by restricted access, will be traveling under the laws of the mainland, Hong Kong’s transportation department has warned.

“The Hong Kong government is always out of the picture and is under the control of the Chinese government,” the Hongkonger lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP last week. Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and was targeted for completion two years ago.

According to the South China Morning Post, 10 workers died and 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof, two-way, six-lane expressway bridge that the government expects to carry 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 single-day passenger trips by 2030.

But for now, the bridge is open to some traffic, including certain buses, freight, and selected permit-holding passenger vehicles.

It’s also a gorgeous trip by ferry.

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

popular

These 12 rare photos show the island city the US Navy built to invade Japan

In 1944, the U.S.’s progress in its island-hopping campaign through the Pacific brought it to Ulithi Atoll. From March to September, they bombed the Japanese forces stationed there until they eventually withdrew, believing the atoll was too small to accommodate an airfield and therefore not of value to either side.


The U.S. Navy disagreed. Forces landed in Sep. 1944 and began building one of the largest naval bases used in the war. At it’s peak, Ulithi Atoll housed 617 ships, had its own 1,200-yard airstrip, and hosted 20,000 troops on its recreation island, Mogmog.

Here are 12 photos from the massive base:

1. Ulithi Atoll primarily served as a massive anchoring and refueling point for Navy ships.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US Navy

2. Ulithi Atoll was home of the famous “Murderer’s Row,” where the Third Fleet’s massive aircraft carriers were parked in late-1944.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US Navy

3. Sorlen Island in Ulithi Atoll featured a 1,600-seat movie theater and a hospital. Water was pumped in from the ocean and distilled on site.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command

4. The airstrip was constructed on Falalop Islet. Hellcats and other planes were stationed there to protect the island and to bomb targets to the north.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Hellcats parked at Ulithi Atoll. Photo: US National Archives

5. Bombs were moved across the soft sand on trailers.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US Navy

6. Mogmog Island served predominantly as a rest and recreation facility where sailors could drink, lounge, and take in entertainment.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US National Archives/Charles Kerlee

7. An officer’s club was constructed on Mogmog.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US National Archives/Charles Kerlee

8. Religious services were held on the islands. Most of the natives consolidated onto a single island for the duration of the Navy’s stay, but some visited with sailors.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

9. Sailors enjoying themselves on the beach were still surrounded by their offices.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US Navy

10. The Navy set up floating dry docks to maintain and repair ships at the atoll.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Photo: US Navy

11. Ships at Ulithi were in danger from mines and suicide torpedo attacks. The USS Mississinewa, a tanker filled with aviation fuel, was sank in Nov. 1944 by a Kaiten suicide torpedo.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
US National Archives photo

12. The suicide torpedoes were a new Japanese weapon that was analyzed at the Ulithi facilities.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
U.S. Navy Photograph

Ulithi Atoll gradually drew down in size as ships moved north but remained in service through the end of the war. This video shows the sheer size of the fleet anchored there.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sunset ceremony honors USS Utah’s 58-member crew

As prior and present service members are gathered for the public USS Utah Memorial Sunset Ceremony, there is one thing on everyone’s mind: remembrance. Remembering the bravery of the crew that was lost 78 years ago, remembering the honor possessed by each soul onboard and the legacy they left behind. Fifty-eight members of the USS Utah (BB-31/AG-16) crew were lost that day, but today they are celebrated.

The capsizing of the USS Utah is honored every year on the eve of December 7. The former battleship, that was once used for target and gunnery training, was the first ship to be struck by two torpedoes during the attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941.


As the amber rays of the sunset reflected upon the island of Oahu, USS Utah survivor Warren Upton along with World War II veterans Roy Solt and Burk Waldron were greeted by applause from those attending the ceremony.

Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the National Park Service, gave thanks to those that served and showed gratitude to everyone honoring the fallen ship.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the National Park Service, says a speech during the USS Utah Memorial Sunset Ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Dec. 6, 2019.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael Amani)

“There’s often a phrase that is associated with the USS Utah,” said Ashwell. “That somehow she is the forgotten ship of Pearl Harbor. It is obvious that the USS Utah is not the forgotten ship. We are all here to remember her and her crew.”

Ashwell recounted the memory of the late U.S. Navy Master Chief Jim Taylor, who served as a full-time volunteer to Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs Office until his passing earlier this year. He served as a liaison for the survivors of Pearl Harbor and their families.

“He helped lay to rest many Pearl Harbor survivors who chose to come back and have their ashes spread in these waters around the Utah and for those who served on the Utah to be placed within the ship,” said Ashwell.

USS Utah Survivor Warren Upton was embraced by many families in attendance as he shook hands and gave hugs to those that thanked him for his service.

“This ceremony was very good,” said Upton. “I really miss Jim. He was a friend to all of the old Utah sailors.”

The ocean breeze and the water washing up against the memorial site are the only sounds heard as Musician 1st Class Collin Reichow, from Herndon Va., plays “Taps” upon his bugle. Sailors of many different ranks render a salute as the melody flows from his instrument. The ceremony comes to an end as everyone is reminded to never forget USS Utah.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

12 important things that need to be in your bug-out bag yesterday

With the entire world focused on COVID-19, it’s a great time to build your bug out bag.


A bug-out bag isn’t just for secret agents anymore.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Although a secret agent’s is probably a lot more fun.

We Are The Mighty’s resident operator, Chase Millsap, served three combat tours as a Marine Infantry Officer in Iraq and as a Green Beret leading counter-terrorism missions in Asia.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Isn’t he beautiful?

We asked him what he’s packing in his bag in case he needs to escape on short notice for any reason. Here’s what he says you must have, at minimum.

12. Water filter.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Millsap recommends a Katadyn water filter.

Given optimal conditions, a person can last up to a week without water. Extreme conditions are likely to cut that time (and yours) short. Additionally, drinking water from untreated sources can lead to a number of infections and diseases.

11. Woobie.

If you’re unfamiliar with a “woobie,” it’s how some U.S. troops refer to their issued poncho liner. It makes for a great blanket, cushion, or pillow. It’s not waterproof, but in temperatures above freezing, it’s very effective at keeping in body heat.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
It also doesn’t retain odors.

10. Two days of food.

This should be self-explanatory, but in case it isn’t, remember: You can go for weeks without food. If you’re on the move, however, that time is cut short. You can’t carry all the food you need with you, but you should have enough to last until you can make it to an area where you can get more or be rescued.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
And if you’re keeping your bug-out bag at the ready, be sure to get food that doesn’t spoil.

9. Lockpick kit.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Not just for thieves anymore.

The reason one carries lockpicks is fairly obvious: to get into things that are locked. We can’t predict why you’ll be evacuating your home, but if you’re going to be out on foot for a while, you may need this. Think about it: When the looting stops, everything that was easy to get is already gone. What’s left is under lock and key.

8. Fire starter with dryer lint.

You can’t depend on a lighter or matches. You’re going to need to start a fire the old-fashioned way: with sparks and kindling.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Make sure yours is ultra light. You have to carry this stuff.

7. Solar or hand-crank battery.

You should have electronic devices with you, namely your means of communication. A zombie apocalypse notwithstanding, you’re going to want to be rescued at some point, so secure the means of keeping your phone and/or radio alive and at the ready.

6. 550 cord and a carabiner.

Anyone who’s served in the military knows how useful 550 cord and carabiners are. If you want to augment their usefulness, learn to braid and to tie knots.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
It’s not just for woven bracelets.

5. Medical kit.

Let’s be honest, most of you are not Green Berets — and if you were Navy SEALs, you would have told us by now. Since the name of the game is surviving in a potentially hostile environment, we should be prepared for injuries sustained on our way out of the disaster area. If we want to be prepared to help ourselves and others, we need a med kit.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
We should also probably learn to use this stuff.

4. Face mask.

Dirt and debris fly everywhere during a disaster or in a disaster area. Heck, the air itself can be chalked full of dirt and harmful particles.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Or did you forget?

Be prepared for it.

3. Gloves and boots.

You shouldn’t need to be told this: Bring your boots. The best part about these items is they don’t add to the weight on your back.

2. Knife and multi-tool.

Slow down, Rambo. Don’t go out and get the largest knife you can. Get something with some utility. Go ask a Marine about their KA-BAR utility knife — it’s one of the best survival knives you can get.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Just be sure to buy your own. I hear Marines are very attached to theirs.

1. Air panels.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Any color will do.

If you need to be seen from a distance (namely, by rescue aircraft), nothing is more effective than what the U.S. military already uses, the VS-17 signal marker is the thing for the job. Best of all, that’s exactly what search and rescue teams are trained to look for.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
This isn’t always going to work.

Articles

AC-130 gunships could be outfitted with laser cannons

The new head of Air Force Special Operations Command has said he’s bullish on outfitting part of his fearsome AC-130 gunship fleet with lasers to blast ground targets and is even considering placing such weapons on CV-22 Osprey tiltrotors for his air commandos.


Admittedly a high-energy laser cannon on an airplane as small as a C-130 Hercules (others have fit on Navy ships and 747-sized airplanes) is still in the research phase, but that hasn’t kept AFSOC from pursuing the technology since 2015.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
The AC-130J Ghostrider will provide close air support, special operations armed airborne reconnaissance, and ordnance delivery to precise targets in support of ground forces. (U.S. Air Force photo)

“I absolutely do not intend to take the foot off the gas with respect to the development of a high energy laser. … I am absolutely on board with that,” said AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb. “I think that while it’s a gunship effort now, we have to keep our eye on what technologies continue to develop that would place that and any other types of these technologies on other airframes as well.”

Webb added during an interview with reporters at the 2016 Air Force Association Air, Space, Cyber conference Sep. 21 that a laser cannon could even be included on CV-22s as the weapon matures.

The former commander of AFSOC, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold launched a program last year to accelerate the development of a laser cannon for his gunship fleet, as well as a number of other advanced technologies to make the AC-130 more survivable and deadly on the battlefield. The Air Force has teamed with Navy researchers who helped deploy a laser aboard the USS Ponce and other think tanks to develop tactics for using a laser cannon on the battlefield.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
he Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

New AFSOC commander Webb said he’s also working closely with the Marine Corps — which has outfitted several of its KC-130Js with air-to-ground weapons and designated them “Harvest Hawk” — on deploying a laser cannon on their planes.

“That kind of spirit is going to apply on a number of the programs that the Marines and SOF see that are mutually supported going forward,” Webb said.

popular

This app lets you see the destructive power of nukes on your hometown

Growing up relatively close to an Air Force Major Command base toward the end of the Cold War, we were constantly reminded of one thing: If the “big one” ever came, we were among the first to be toast. But were we really? Thankfully, now there’s a way to find out for sure.


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The short answer is yes. (Nukemap)

 

This simulation is a map of the effect of a 25-megaton strike on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from a Soviet R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile warhead. The R-36, introduced in 1974, gave the Soviets a first-strike capability with a rapid reload ability and a missile that could carry up to 10 independently targetable warheads.

The green area represents an immediately lethal dose of radiation, the yellow represents the initial fireball burst, and the red is a 20 psi air blast, capable of completely destroying most structures and projecting a 100-percent casualty rate. The dark circles surrounding the outermost red area represent different air pressures inflicted by the blast on the local population. The orange-ish area shows where third-degree burns and other radiation injuries are likely.

Estimated fatalities number more than 319,000 with another 375,000-plus injured.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
It could always be worse. This is a 150-Kiloton North Korean nuclear strike on Los Angeles. (Nukemap)

 

These simulations are brought to you by The Nukemap, a project created by Alex Wellerstein of the New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology. Wellerstein is a professor at SIT, and his expertise is in the history of science and nuclear weapons technology. He also runs the Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Professor Wellerstein has devoted his life and career to the study of the effects of nuclear weapons on societies and geopolitics.

The Nukemap is aimed at helping people visualize nuclear weapons on terms they can make sense of — helping them to get a sense of the scale of the bombs. By allowing people to use arbitrarily picked geographical locations, I hope that people will come to understand what a nuclear weapon would do to places they are familiar with, and how the different sizes of nuclear weapons change the results.”

Wellerstein’s previous work was the MissileMap, a way to see that a country’s nuclear arsenal was even capable of hitting your hometown.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Sorry, Ohio. You’re toast. (MissileMap)

 

Nukemap needs the user to enter the location of the target, the yield of the warhead used, and if the explosion is a surface explosion or airburst. If you don’t know anything about nuclear weapons, that’s okay: there are numerous possible presets available. For example, you can target New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other American cities. But since the United States and Russia aren’t the only countries with nuclear capabilities, Nukemap also offers the effects of all potential nuclear attackers, including Israel, Iran, North Korea, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Japan, and South Korea.

You can even see historical presets, from the effects of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima blasts to the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear device ever exploded on Earth.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion
Which would devastate four of the five New York City boroughs, if you were curious.
MIGHTY HISTORY

This American rose to lead an entire army in a foreign war

It’s not everyday you hear about an American rising through the ranks of a foreign army, at least not in the last century. But it was surprisingly recently that one American did in an army in just that way. A U.S. citizen rolled over to Armenia during its Nagorno-Karabakh War with neighboring Azerbaijan. He entered the Armenian army having never fought with an actual army and rose through the ranks to command a force of 4,000 men.


California-born Monte Melkonian’s training regimen looks like the resume of a radical terrorist or Communist. But while he held some leftist views, his experience came fighting only for the lives of Armenians – and when the time came, Armenia itself. If you ask Armenians, who today live in a parliamentary republic, he’s a hero.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

In 1988, the breakaway Azerbaijani oblast (province) of Karabakh voted to join the vote to leave not just the crumbling Soviet Union, but also the new country of Azerbaijan. It declared the creation of a new state apart from the USSR while the autonomous oblast of Karabakh declared itself free of Azerbaijan, joining Armenia instead. After all, it did have a majority Armenian ethnic makeup. In 1992, things really hit the fan, and Armenia made decisive territorial gains. At the center of some of those gains was Monte Melkonian, an Armenian-American who had traveled to Armenia at the end of the USSR’s lifetime.

Armenians, after facing a genocide and forced exile from their homelands, are a proud and patriotic people, and Melkonian was no different. He believed that if Azerbaijan were allowed to force Nagorno-Karabakh back into Azerbaijan, then other parts of Armenia would be taken by the Azeri military forces. This was unacceptable to Melkonian, who joined the fighting in 1991. By early 1992, he was a regional commander and quickly began to turn the tides of the war in favor of Armenia.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

The California native might have had little experience running an army, but he knew how to fight. As a youth, he helped overthrow the Shah of Iran while a student in Tehran. After witnessing Iranian troops firing on student protesters, he moved north where he learned to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga, still one of the most effective fighting forces in the Middle East to this day. He then traveled to Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War to protect the Armenian Quarter of the Middle Eastern city from right-wing militants.

While in Beirut, he decided to work toward the independence of Armenia and after years of imprisonments and living underground in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, he found himself in Armenia’s disputed territory, leading thousands of men. His training at the hands of the Peshmerga and Palestinians was paying off as he not only pushed the Azerbaijani forces out of Karabakh in less than a year, he captured the region between Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia, unifying the two on the map.

Just two months later, he was dead.

US Air Force shows off B-1B weapons expansion

Monte Melkonyan’s tomb.

The Armenian hero was killed in a firefight after Azerbaijani troops got lost in the dark and stumbled into his camp. He was given full military honors at his funeral and is interred outside the Armenian capital of Yerevan, where he is still revered as a legend and brilliant military strategist. His ability against the enemy combined with his political views and personal charisma means Armenians and historians remember him as a sort of Armenian Che Guevara.

He is still revered in his adopted homeland, and the Armenian Military Academy, as well as a number of villages, streets, and schools were renamed in his honor. Armenia still controls the areas captured by his forces, even if the borders are still disputed.

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