The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

Dr. John Paul Stapp earned the title “the fastest man on Earth” when he rode the Sonic Wind I rocket-propelled sled at the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on December 10, 1954, to a land speed record of 632 mph in five seconds.

He sustained the greatest recorded G-forces endured by man, decelerating in 1.4 seconds, which equaled 46.2 Gs, more than anyone had previously undergone.


When he was pulled from the sled, Stapp’s eyes flooded with blood from bursting almost all their capillaries. Stapp was rushed to the hospital, worried that one or both of his retinas had detached and would leave him blind. By the next day, he had regained enough of his normal vision to be released, though his eyesight would never be the same.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Col. John Paul Stapp rides the rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

More than 50 years later, the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman still exists, but its riders have changed. Stapp was the last human to ride the track and now egress missions use highly instrumented mannequins to look at what loads are and then determine whether or not aircrew survivability was achieved.

“With a human you’re going to have to conduct a post-testing examination and then look at variables from human to human, where if you can put all the instrumentation on board a mannequin you can get all that data,” said. Lt. Col. Jason Vap, commander of the 846th Test Squadron at Holloman AFB. “You can take that one step further and figure out what you need to do to your seat design, or perhaps a helmet design, or your flight gear to mitigate problems. Those are things that you are only going to get from a highly instrumented mannequin. Not from post-test examination of an individual or examining what kind of pains that they suffered from that.”

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Full-scale anthropomorphic test devices (ATD) that simulates the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and is usually instrumented to record data about the dynamic behavior of the ATD in simulated ejections.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

The data is collected with a variety of onboard data acquisition systems or telemetered for post-test analysis. Additionally, technical imagery, including high-speed digital images, is available for scientists to examine the status of their payloads. Track personnel use the same imagery to determine the status of the sled vehicle during tests. All data can be post-processed and merged using a common time reference to verify the accuracy of the data, and to produce a unified data product.

“We’re always pushing to open up new capability fronts. Thinking differently,” he said. “It’s built into our culture to think about those next steps. What do we need to do? How do we refine things? How do we look at problems differently based upon what we learn out of a mission outcome? So it’s a constant learning process here.”

At 10 miles, the track is also now the world’s longest and it is used to test high-speed vehicles such as aircraft ejection seats.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT) is a United States Air Force aerospace ground test facility located at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The HHSTT’s mission is to provide a cost-effective, realistic, dynamic test environment for the entire acquisition community, including the DoD.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

“The Holloman High Speed Test Track hearkens back to the 1950’s,” Vap said. “The mission has changed over time and the track has grown over time, from 3,500 feet to now 50,000 feet of rail.”

With the current track, the 846th TS has reached velocities in excess of 9,000 feet per second. That is around Mach 8.6 when calculating for altitude. However, the goal speed of Mach 10 has yet to be reached.

“We’re going for success, but there’s still a lot of territory to be explored and to learn from,” Vap said.

Test missions on the track last a few seconds; however, there are weeks, if not months, put into the design effort, fabrication and getting prepped for a test. There are a litany of cameras along the track to make sure that everything is captured in a six-, 10- or 30-second test mission.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Egress Craftsman, from the 846th Test Squadron, assemble an Advanced Concept Ejection Seat II, at the Holloman High Speed Test Track, At Holloman Air Force Base, NM.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

“We design the sleds, we fabricate them and we load them on the rail,” Vap said. “Prior to that work, we look at the velocity profiles … We look at our rocket motor inventory and we put together the payload necessary to reach the velocities that are needed to carry out the test mission.”

“But don’t kid yourself. It’s not a small measure,” he added. “It takes a great deal of engineering staff and a lot of hard work to carry out these missions, on the order of weeks to months to prep for a 10 second shot.”

The goal of these tests is to wring out some of the potential problems that could exist in an airborne environment.

“We don’t just slap something on a jet and hope it works,” Vap said. “Those are things that just aren’t done from an operational standpoint. You have to verify that it’s going work.”

This means failure is inevitable. Not everything is going to be a success and what Vap tells everyone is that you learn more out of your failures than your successes.

“We’re in the business of saving lives,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Holmes, Egress Craftsman, 846th TS. “Our system isn’t used as frequently as most, which is a very positive thing. Being able to come out in this environment and actually test [an ejection seat] and see it operate is pretty exciting.”

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Various body parts for a Full-scale anthropomorphic test device (ATD) allows researchers to recreate different shapes and sizes of the human body.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

Vap said there is no bigger “cool factor” in the Air Force than what the HHSTT does on a day-to-day basis. There is no other place in the Air Force that is essentially strapping rocket motors to a sled, pushing payloads down the track at flight relevant velocities and excess.

While the track’s passengers are no longer flesh and blood, they are still pioneers – of speed, science and safety. And their contributions to the high speed test track are making the goal of Mach 10 more and more a reality.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here is how Burke-class destroyers will be able to zap incoming missiles

Around this time last year, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) was targeted several times by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who fired Noor anti-ship missiles (essentially C-802 clones) at the U.S. Navy vessel. While the Mason thwarted those attacks, using RIM-66 Standard SM-2 and RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles in at least one of the three incidents, the next time, it may just zap the missiles.


The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Athena laser weapon system. (Youtube Screenshot from Lockheed video)

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin was promoting what they call the “DDG DE Laser Enhancement” at the Association of the United States Army expo in Washington, D.C. In essence, it would add at least two lasers to the five-inch gun, Mk 41 vertical-launch-systems (one with 32 cells, the other with 64 cells), a Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon system, and 324mm torpedo tubes. In addition to the Standard and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, the Mk 41 vertical-launch systems can also carry RUM-139 ASROC launchers and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Lockheed has been testing laser weapon systems for a while. Last month, WATM reported on a test of the ATHENA laser, in which five MQM-170C Outlaw drones were shot down by the 30-kilowatt system. The test was conducted in conjunction with Army Space and Missile Defense Command. ATHENA was described as “ground mobile” in a Lockheed release about the tests.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard USS Ponce. (U.S. Navy photo)

Other tests involving lasers included an Army AH-64 Apache testing a Raytheon laser in June, and the employment of a laser on board USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) during its deployment in the Persian Gulf. The Ponce was decommissioned earlier this year, and Argentina is rumored to be interested in buying the 46-year-old vessel.

The deployment of lasers could improve capabilities against enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles, and even aircraft. The need for counter-drone weapons became very acute when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria deployed UAVs against Coalition forces.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This pint-sized German tank-killer packs a punch

When one thinks of German armored vehicles, massive tanks, like the Tiger and Tiger II, from World War II spring to mind. So does the Leopard 2, considered one of the best modern tanks in the world. But while Germany has developed some huge, armored powerhouses, it’s also developed a pint-sized vehicle that packs some serious firepower.


In the 1970s, the West Germans realized that their regular infantry didn’t stand much of a chance against hordes of tanks that the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact would deploy should World War III break out. To answer to this concern was the Rheinmetall Wiesel, a very capable, air-mobile armored vehicle.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Weighing about 20 percent less than an up-armored HMMWV, the Wiesel can be carried inside a CH-53 helicopter. (Bundeswehr photo)

The Wiesel weighs in at 9,557 pounds. To put that into perspective, the M1114 Up-Armored HMMWV comes in at 12,101 pounds. The Wiesel, however, is no slouch in a fight. Depending on the version, it can carry the BGM-71 TOW missile or a 20mm autocannon.

The Wiesel also made for a natural reconnaissance vehicle. The Wiesel 1 was ordered in 1985, entered service in 1989, and 343 examples were purchased by the Bundeswehr. However, a larger version, the Wiesel 2, was designed and entered service in 1994. The Bundeswehr ordered 179 of those vehicles, which serve as ambulances, command-and-control vehicles, mortar carriers, and air-defense assets.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Wiesel can pack a 20mm autocannon, giving it an option to use against trucks, APCs, and IFVs. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Hulett)

The Wiesel, though, hasn’t gotten a lot of export orders. The United States did acquire a few to test as unmanned vehicles but, to date, the only troops using the Wiesel have been Germans. The Wiesel has seen service in Operation Enduring Freedom and in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Somalia.

Learn more about this pint-sized tankette that packs a big-time punch in the video below.

 

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

This howitzer helps North Korea threaten Seoul

While North Korea’s efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States have generated headlines, a different home-brew weapons project is worth attention. That project developed a long-range self-propelled howitzer.


This deadly machine is called the Koksan, and according to MilitaryFactory.com, it can reach out and touch targets just over 37 miles away. The fact that this howitzer can move makes it even more lethal and hard to find.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
A North-Korean-built M-1978 KOKSAN displayed at the Al Anbar University campus in Ramadi, Iraq is to be removed by U.S. Forces. (USMC photo)

The main cannon has a diameter of 170mm, or just under 6.7 inches. The barrel is long, appearing to be almost twice the length of the vehicle, a modified Chinese Type 59 main battle tank chassis. That vehicle can go up to 186 miles on a single tank of gas.

The Koksan looks a lot like the American-designed M107 175mm self-propelled howitzer, and in many ways, it fulfills the same function of providing long-range firepower. That said, the Koksan comes with a set of minuses.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
And like the Akutan Zero, North Korea’s Koksan howitzer is in American hands…and revealing its secrets. (USMC photo)

One of the biggest is that the howitzer is ungainly – largely due to the long barrel. It is also slow – with a top speed of just under 25 miles per hour. That’s a problem when a M1A2 Abrams arrives. The gun also fires slowly – with two and a half minutes between rounds. The first version, the M1978, didn’t even carry rounds with it.

A newer version, the M1989, which the North Koreans have paraded publicly, does have 12 rounds of ammo on the vehicle. This howitzer is probably more likely to be used in hardened defense positions. This has the benefit of protecting the crews better, but it does mean the howitzer’s position is fixed.

You can see a video about this North Korean big gun below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army wants big upgrades for ‘enemy’ units worldwide

While the United States fought conflicts and insurgencies in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa over the last seventeen years, potential adversaries were studying U.S. operations and developing sophisticated weapons, munitions, and disruptive technologies. U.S. forces must anticipate that adversaries will employ these increasingly advanced systems, some approaching or even surpassing U.S. capabilities, while also proliferating them to their allies and proxies around the globe.

Both Russia and China, our two most sophisticated strategic competitors, are developing new approaches to conflict by modernizing their concepts, doctrine, and weapon systems to challenge U.S. forces and our allies across all operational domains (land, sea, space, cyberspace, and space). Russia’s New Generation Warfare and China’s Local Wars under Informationized Conditions are two examples of these new approaches.


In the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, non-state actors and radical militant groups are gaining military capabilities previously associated only with nation-states. Irregular forces are growing more capable as they adopt new weapons and tactics. Hezbollah has used advanced anti-tank guided missiles, man-portable air defense systems, and a sophisticated mission command system in its conflicts with Israel and participation in the Syrian civil war. Joining Hezbollah in the employment of unmanned aerial vehicles are Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and ISIS has also used chemical weapons. In addition, Iran adopted a very sophisticated warfare doctrine aimed at the U.S., and the Houthi insurgency in Yemen aims rockets and missiles at Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Army exists to fight our nation’s wars and it rigorously prepares to reach the highest possible level of sustained readiness to defeat such a wide array of threats and capabilities. To attain this end state, training at U.S. Army Combat Training Centers, or CTCs, must be realistic, relevant, and pit training units against a dynamic and uncompromising Opposing Force, or OPFOR.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

Soldiers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment maneuver through the streets of a compound at the National Training Center, Calif., during an OPFOR training exercise.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Edge)

The CTC program employs several professional OPFOR units, including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at the National Training Center in California’s Mojave Desert, the 1-509th Airborne Infantry Battalion within the swamps of Louisiana at the Joint Readiness Training Center, 1-4th Infantry Battalion at the Joint Multinational Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany, and the World Class OPFOR within the Mission Command Training Program at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. The Army’s Cyber Command also provides specialized support to these OPFOR units with cyber aggressors.

The OPFOR is representative of adversary forces and threat systems that reflect a composite of current and projected combat capabilities. The OPFOR must be capable of challenging training units’ mission essential tasks and key tasks within the Army Universal Task List. To maintain OPFOR’s relevance as a competitive sparring partner, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command devotes major analytic efforts to studying foreign armies and determining the optimum configuration for OPFOR units that both represent a plausible threat and challenge training tasks. This also requires the Army to consistently modernize the OPFOR with replicated peer or near-peer threat weapons and capabilities.

The OPFOR must be capable of challenging U.S. Army training units with contemporary armored vehicles that are equipped with stabilized weapon systems and advanced night optics, as well as realistic kill-or-be-killed signatures and effects via the Multiple Integrated Laser Effects Systems. The OPFOR must also have air attack platforms, advanced integrated air defense systems, unmanned aerial systems, modern-day anti-tank munitions, long-range and guided artillery fires, and improvised explosive devices.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

Soldiers from A Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment; 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, race their M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle toward the opposition force (OPFOR) during a battle simulation exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin.

(Photo by Maj. W. Chris Clyne, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Additionally, the OPFOR must be capable of subjecting training units to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear effects and technologically enhanced deception capabilities. The OPFOR must also be capable of degrading or denying training unit dependency on Cyber-Electromagnetic Activities with threat electronic warfare, cyberspace, and space effects.

Modernizing the U.S. Army’s OPFOR program is an unremitting endeavor, because threats continuously change and technology relentlessly revolutionizes the art of war. Replicating the most realistic threat capabilities and tactics is critical for training units and commanders to practice their tactics, techniques, and procedures, and learn from the consequences of their decisions under tactical conditions.

This topic, as well as the challenges the OPFOR enterprise faces in developing much-needed capabilities to effectively replicate threats in a dynamic Operational Environment that postulates a changing character of future warfare, will be highlighted during a Warriors Corner at the annual Association of the United States Army meeting in Washington D.C. on Oct. 10, 2018, from 2:55-3:35 p.m.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the ship Britain would use to defend the Falklands

In some ways, the Royal Navy has become a shadow of itself. At the Battle of Jutland, the Royal Navy sent 151 combat ships into the fray. Today, the Royal Navy has a total of 77 commissioned warships. But while the numbers are small, the Royal Navy’s ships are powerful.


The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
HMS Defender in London. (Wikimedia Commons)

For instance, even with a lack of aircraft carriers, the Royal Navy can still credibly defend the Falkland Islands, a territory that remains a sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina. The U.K. holds the islands with six Type 45 destroyers that are on active service. These vessels replaced the 12 surviving Type 42 class destroyers (two, HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry, were sunk during the 1982 Falklands War, during which the Royal Navy steamed thousands of miles to re-take the islands from Argentina).

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Falkland Islands are a maritime flashpoint in the South Atlantic. (CIA map)

According to the Royal Navy’s web page, the Type 45 destroyer, also known as the Daring-class destroyer, is equipped with very modern air-defense systems. The centerpiece of the ship’s armament is the Sea Viper missile system. This comes in two varieties, the Aster 15, with a range of 20 miles, and the Aster 30, with a range of 70 miles. These missiles are launched from a vertical launch system with six eight-cell Sylver A50 vertical launchers, according to navyrecognition.com.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
A Daring-class destroyer fires an Aster missile from its Sylver A50 vertical-launch system. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Type 45 also has two Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon systems, a Mk 8 114mm gun, and can also carry eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles. One of these destroyers, if based near the Falkland Islands, would provide a substantial boost in the event Argentina tried to re-take those islands. The ships displace about 8,000 metric tonnes, have a top speed of over 30 nautical miles per hour, and can go about 7,000 miles before having to refuel.

Argentina had been rumored to be trying to buy the amphibious vessel USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, ex-LPD 15), but that deal has apparently fallen through, according to a US Navy release from earlier this month, which indicates that Ponce will instead be scrapped.

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

The Milennium missile killer has a range of two miles

Warfare, in the abstract, is a race between technologies that inflict damage and those that protect against it. It’s a lot like a pendulum, where each new technological advancement either swings momentum in your favor or nullifies the enemy’s advantage, bringing things back to the baseline.


This technological tug-of-war has proven true in the air, on land, and at sea. For example, in naval warfare, we’ve watched as it’s become possible to hit ships from further away and with more firepower. Once, battleships were clad in thick armor to deflect bombs, torpedoes, and shells, but once technology outpaced old-school ordnance, suddenly, that thick armor wasn’t as useful — the pendulum swayed in favor of the attacker. Now, defensive technologies focus more on keeping the ship from being hit in the first place — leveling the playing field in the face of new weaponry.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Ivar Huidfelt-class frigate HDMS Peter Willemoes is one of the vessels equipped with this missile-killing weapon. (Wikimedia Commons photo by MKFI)

So, how are modern ships stopping advanced firepower? One way is via last-ditch defense systems, like the Phalanx and Goalkeeper. The Phalanx, one of the first of these systems, uses the M61 Vulcan cannon, as seen on fighters like the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, to automatically detect, target, and destroy incoming missiles at the very last moment. The Goalkeeper uses the 30mm GAU-8 (as made famous by the A-10 Thunderbolt) to do the same.

Now, a system based on a 35mm gun has entered the competition. The Oerlikon Millennium can fire up to 1,000 rounds per minute and, for missile-defense, uses a potent round called AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction). The system has an effective range of just over two miles, which is huge when compared to the one-mile effective range of the Phalanx.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
The Dutch flexible support ship HDMS Absalon (L 16), right, the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) transit the Gulf of Aden. Absalon arguably has a far more capable close-in weapon system than the Aegis warships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky)

The mount only carries 252 rounds — giving the gun about 15 seconds of firing time — but the 35mm rounds are about 60 percent wider than those used by the Phalanx. This means each round delivers a lot more oomph when it hits. Oerlikon has claimed that the standard load of 252 rounds is enough for as many as 20 engagements against aircraft!

Learn more about how this amazing defensive system levels the playing field against sophisticated missiles!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVsGl9XqGdE
Articles

This company can ‘hack’ enemy drones for the US military

A Maryland-based company claims it can take control over an enemy drone while in flight without the use of jamming, a potential game-changer for the US military, prisons, and airports.


Started in 2010, Department 13 came out of DARPA-funded research into radio frequencies and Bluetooth technology. That was when CEO Jonathan Hunter realized his work could have real effects in mitigating radio-controlled drone aircraft — a frequent, and growing nuisance to militaries as well as the private sector.

“We’ve learned how to speak drone talk,” Hunter told Business Insider. Though D13’s technology has often been described as “hacking” a drone, he likes to describe it differently. Instead, his black box of antennas and sensors, called Mesmer, is able to take over a drone by manipulating the protocols being used by its original operator.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Drone technology. (Photo: DARPA)

Let’s say someone is trying to fly a commercial drone over the walls of a prison complex to drop off some goodies for inmates — a problem that is increasing as off-the-shelf drones get better and less expensive. The prison can use Mesmer to set up an invisible geofence around its physical walls that stops a drone in its tracks, or takes complete control and brings it into the prison and lands it.

“If I can speak the same language as the drone, I don’t need to scream louder, i.e. jamming” Hunter said.

D13 was one of eight finalists last year in a counter-drone challenge at Quantico, Va., where it stopped a drone out to one kilometer away, though the company didn’t win first place (the winner, Skywall 100, uses a human-fired launcher to shoot a projectile at a drone to capture it in a net). D13 also demonstrated the ability to safely land a hostile drone with its technology at a security conference in October.

Besides setting up an invisible wall for drones, Mesmer can sometimes tap into telemetry data the drone would normally send back to the operator, or tap into its video feed. In some cases, Hunter said, it could even track down the person flying it.

The system does have its drawbacks: It only works on “known” commercial drones, so the library of drones it’s effective against only covers about 75% of the marketplace, according to Scout. That number is also likely much less for non-commercial drones made for foreign militaries.

Also read: New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Still, once a commercial drone makes it into Mesmer’s library, it’s unlikely that a future software update would help it overcome D13’s solution. That’s because Mesmer focuses on the radio signals, not the software.

“There is not a single drone that we haven’t been able to crack,” Hunter said. “We’re working our way through the drone families.”

The company plans to have the system on the market this month.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35 stealth fighter is still struggling with some big problems

America’s most expensive weapon — Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter — is still struggling with a number of serious problems, such as destructive chain reactions triggered by a flat tire, a weird green glow on the helmet display that makes it difficult to land on aircraft carriers, and a loss of stealth at supersonic speeds.

Documents obtained by Defense News indicate that the US military’s fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters continue to suffer from more than a dozen issues that could potentially put pilots at risk or jeopardize a mission.

The F-35 program managed to cut the number of category 1 deficiencies down from 111 at the start of last year to 64 in May 2018 to just 13 as the aircraft headed into operational testing last fall. But some of the remaining issues are very problematic.


For instance, in cold weather conditions, the F-35 may falsely report that a battery has failed, a problem that has resulted in aborted missions.

When its hot out, older engines on the short takeoff/vertical landing variant sometimes have trouble producing the necessary thrust to keep the fighter in the air, leading to an unplanned a hard landing.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago)

There have also been issues with unusual spikes in cabin pressure in the cockpit causing pain in the ears and sinuses, Defense News reports.

One particular problem that really stood out to a retired fighter pilot was that in some cases, after completing certain maneuvers, F-35B and F-35C pilots have lost the ability to fully control the fighter’s pitch, roll, and yaw.

The F-35 program, by the US military’s own admission, has been “troubled,” suffering from production problems, ballooning costs, delivery delays, and numerous technical challenges.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has colorfully described the F-35 program, the cost of which recently grew by tens of billions of dollars, as “f—ed up.”

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan.

(DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

News of the F-35s problems comes as the Pentagon and Lockheed discuss ramping up to full-rate production, increasing annual delivery from 91 to 160 jets within the next few years. The F-35 Joint Program Office told Defense News that not all of the problems will be addressed before the full-rate production decision.

While the problems reported by Defense News sound alarming, defense officials who spoke to the outlet downplayed their seriousness, with one explaining that the current category 1 deficiencies affecting the F-35 are ones “that have a mission impact with a current workaround that’s acceptable to the war fighter with the knowledge that we will be able to correct that deficiency at some future time.”

A naval aviator told the outlet that the current problems are “growing pains” that are to be expected.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

MRAD sniper rifle: The military’s new sniper weapon

Soldiers, Marines, and special operators will be soon sporting a new sniper rifle.

Following a lengthy acquisition process that began in 2016, the Army, Marine Corps, and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have started receiving the first batches of the Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) sniper rifle made by Barrett.

In the Army, the MRAD rifle will replace the M107 and M210 sniper rifles. In the Marine Corps, the new weapon will replace all bolt-action sniper rifles, such as the M40, which dates all the way back to the Vietnam War.

What makes the MRAD rifle special is its ability to be adapted according to the situation. The bolt-action rifle can quickly be re-configured to an array of different calibers as the tactical situation demands, thus giving warfighters more options.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Barrett’s bolt-action Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) system (Barrett)

On the battlefield, snipers can potentially face several scenarios, from vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (VBIED)—moving vehicle bombs—to high-value targets, to waves upon waves of assaulting enemies. The ability to efficiently adjust depending on the scenario is a remarkable and highly-sought out trait.

In addition, the MRAD rifle has a smooth recoil that allows snipers to quickly get a sight picture after engaging a target.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
Shooting a Barrett MRAD chambered for .308 Winchester with suppressor. (WikiMedia Commons)

Initially, the MRAD rifle was a SOCOM-driven initiative through the Advanced Sniper Rifle program, with the Army and Marine Corps entering the process at a later stage. It comes in three calibers (7.62 NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum).

According to the manufacturing company, the MRAD rifle’s “robust design, user modularity and unfailing accuracy combined with the new cartridge designed by Hornady, offer an unbeatable system for long-range effectiveness.”

A spokesperson with the Program Executive Officer Soldier who spoke to Task & Purpose said that the Army is planning to purchase close to 3,000 MRAD rifles, almost six times more than what was originally planned. The Marine Corps plans to buy a significantly smaller number, with just 250 rifles budgeted for.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Drones have been in the fight longer than you think

Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles have been the rage lately. The Navy has been testing the X-47. Bell is offering the V-247 Vigilant for a number of missions. But one UCAV served in the active force way before drones became so popular.


Meet the QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter, or DASH, which entered service in 1963.

DASH was intended to give the Navy’s modified World War II Allen M. Sumner and Gearing-class destroyers a long-range anti-submarine weapon. Capable of operating up to 22 miles away from a ship, and carrying two Mk 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, DASH could kill just about any submarine in the Soviet arsenal.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
A QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH) on board USS Joseph P. Kennedy (DD 850). (U.S. Navy photo)

With a top speed of 80 nautical miles per hour, and a range of 71 nautical miles, the QH-50 did not have a lot of endurance to hunt. It was intended to simply deliver its payload. It was small — just under 2,300 pounds — and at just under 13 feet long and with a 20-foot rotor diameter, the DASH was able to give these World War II ships a new lease on life.

That said, DASH was not without its problems. The electronics in its era were not reliable — and that is about as understated as calling Jar Jar Binks annoying. Eight out of ten airframe losses were blamed on failures of its early-1960s vintage electronics. One out of ten losses was due to “pilot error” (if such a thing is possible with a UAV), and another ten percent was due to failures in either the engines or airframe.

DASH served with the fleet for six years before it got the chop. While the official reason for the cancellation was unreliability, it should be noted that DASH was being fielded to the fleet around the time the Vietnam War escalated and was at its height. While some QH-50s were modified to serve as spotting aircraft for naval gunfire (a role later filled by the RQ-2 Pioneer), most were retired. Japan was the only other user; they kept their QH-50s operating until 1977.

DASH today is largely forgotten, but it was arguably one of the first UCAVs to see wide deployment — decades before America decided to hang AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on MQ-1 Predator drones.

Articles

These glasses can turn any location into a simulated battlefield

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


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Four viewpoints of exercise participants during an AITT test. In this GIF, Marines engage simulated enemy tanks near an objective. GIF: YouTube/usnavyresearch

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

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

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

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats
This is the view a participant sees when a truck is destroyed during an augmented reality training mission. GIF: YouTube/usnavyresearch

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

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

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

See the system in action in the video below:

MIGHTY CULTURE

They’ve got your back: A sniper’s role is crucial

It was 2006, and Army Staff Sgt. Brett Johnson of the 1st Ranger Battalion peered through night-vision goggles, slowly moving with his squad toward a house in Iraq with a high-value target inside. They knew there were armed militants nearby, but they had no idea they were about to run into one.

“Right as we were about to break the corner of the building, a guy — unbeknownst to us — was literally coming around the corner with an AK-47,” now-Sgt. Maj. Johnson of the 3rd Ranger Battalion recalled 13 years later.


But the insurgent didn’t make it, thanks to a sniper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5m5spHad2w
Sniper Saves Soldier’s Life (2020) ??

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“As we broke the corner, he took the most perfect, well-aimed shot and put him down,” Johnson recalled. “Had he not been there, that guy … definitely would have shot one of us.”

“It was pretty incredible for him to take that shot. An error of one foot to the right could have hit one of us,” Johnson continued.

Things happen quickly in a firefight, and even the best technology can’t always keep up with the changing battlefield environment. That’s why the sniper’s reconnaissance skills and ability to relay intelligent information to the commander are crucial.

“We’ve got drones, we’ve got robots, we’ve got all kinds of stuff … but we still need that real-time battlefield information that keeps soldiers safe,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Turner, a sniper course instructor.

Spot the Sniper

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Becoming a sniper

Becoming a sniper isn’t easy. The qualification course at the Army Sniper School in Fort Benning, Georgia, is seven weeks long, and any military branch or federal agency can send candidates. Instructors say there’s currently about a 60 percent attrition rate.

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An Army Sniper School graduate prepares for a final challenge at Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 28, 2019.

(Photo by EJ Hersom)

“As you go through it and see the maturity and discipline that it takes in order to take a shot and execute the orders … that takes an emotional toll on you, Turner said. “That’s why you need a more disciplined, intelligent soldier to process those emotions.”

It takes someone who knows how to manage resources and someone with serious patience — there’s a lot of observing and waiting for something to happen.

“They’re some of the most patient people I’ve ever met in my life,” Johnson said.

Take the stalking portion of the course. Using their homemade ghillie suits — camouflage uniforms they’ve personally retrofitted for durability and protection in all sorts of weather conditions — the sniper candidates get to “veg out” by incorporating vegetation into those suits to blend in with their surroundings. They then spend the next couple of hours moving at a snail’s pace through an area of woods. The goal — take a shot at the instructors who are looking for them in the brush, hoping to find them first.

The astonishing way the Air Force tests ejection seats

An Army sniper school graduate walks past spotters after completing a stalk course where snipers try to evade detection from the course instructors at Fort Benning Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 28, 2019.

(Photo by EJ Hersom)

But school instructors said a lot of candidates fail that part. When we visited, not a single sniper team got to take their shot.

“The hardest part about this school so far has been stalking for me, because I’m a big, gawky guy, so crawling through the woods is tough,” explained Staff Sgt. Johnnie Newton, who passed the course.

Then there are the technical aspects. They’re always refining their skills for every possible circumstance, like wind and distance.

“If I’m operating in a rural environment like Afghanistan, I have longer lines of sight and I’m at higher elevation. What that means is I’m able to extend the capability of my weapons system to a greater distance,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, team leader of the Army sniper course. “In an urban environment, things are a lot quicker, a lot more dynamic, with shorter field of views.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE3Xqra5E1o
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Many of the soldiers we talked with at our visit to the Army Sniper School said they felt safer knowing a sniper was watching their backs. So did those who’ve been saved by them in the past.

“Their critical role on the battlefield to observe and report and then take the most critical shot when needed is a skill that can’t perish,” Johnson said.

This article originally appeared on Department of Defense.

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