Here's how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

In a team, there’s a leader, a lancer, the smart guy and the lovable big guy.

In the Air Force, it’s the fighter jets, the stealth bombers, the drones and the cargo planes … except they aren’t as beloved as the big guy.

Often overshadowed by their more aggressive, quicker and sleeker cousins, the fighter jets, the heavy aircraft are the airframes that carry the US Air Force and sister-service components, and it is about time they get the love they deserve.


Some people tend to think the Air Force is all about the pilots that bring the fight to the enemy and protect America’s freedoms from the sky with sleek, supersonic fighter jets. They’re not wrong, to a point. Fighter pilots in the Air Force do exactly that.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

Crew chiefs with the 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit work on an F35A Lightning II at Hill Air Force Base, in Utah, July 31, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

But just as an army marches on its stomach, an air force’s mobility depends on the fleet of aircraft and maintainers to handle the logistics of troop and material movement. That is where the heavies and their crew come in.

Aircraft from the modern C-17 Globemaster III and the KC-46 Pegasus — the new kid on the block — to the venerable C-130 Hercules, B-52 Stratofortress, KC-135 Stratotanker and others play a massive role in the service’s global operations, all with different purposes. Although one commonality they have is this — all of their crew chiefs start their careers with training at Sheppard AFB.

“For their first 23 days of training, its fundamentals,” said Master Sgt. Jason Ricke, section chief for 362nd Training Squadron’s Heavies Flight. “Fundamentals have a large focus. They learn a lot about fighters, heavies, some of the UAVs, bombers cargo, but if they’re going to 135s, the 52, or 130s, they’ll learn the specifics here [in the 362nd Training Squadron.]”

Ricke said students, whether coming in with some experience in mechanics or can’t tell the difference between a wrench and a hammer, will learn the heavy maintainer lifestyle and comradery in the crew chief apprentice course.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

C-130 crew chief apprentice students open the cargo door of a C-130 Hercules at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Nov. 20, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

“A lot of people don’t know what goes into being a crew chief specifically. It’s a lot of hours and hard work,” Tech. Sgt. Dennis Neville, 362nd Training Squadron Instructor Supervisor for the C-130 course, said. “We get students with a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Some of them who are excited to be here, some who don’t know what they will be doing yet. That’s something they’ll pick up and go with once they get out on that flight line and once they see their aircraft fly for the first time.”

Neville said there is no better feeling as a crew chief than seeing your aircraft leave with a pallet of supplies or a pallet of patients or even filled to the brim with bullets and bombs and watch it come back with nothing. Knowing that it completed its mission, but not without the help of the crew chiefs.

“Without the maintainers, and not just crew chiefs but maintainers in general, these aircraft don’t fly or at least they aren’t going to fly like they’re supposed to,” Neville said. “[The pilot] will have no guidance systems, no electrical systems, you definitely can’t fly without your engines, you gotta have fuels as well, different shops maintain those systems without them, that aircraft would just sit there and people will just admire it from the ground and it’ll never get to do its mission.”

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

US Air Force crew chief trainees change a tire on a KC-10 Extender at Travis Air Force Base, California, Feb. 7, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

This mission to get these aircraft in the air is exemplified in the crew chiefs that must undergo months of training learning more than three volumes of information. Information pertaining to engine pylons, navigator positions, booms, loadmaster tasks and refueling missions, the crew chief will learn all these tasks, depending on their assigned airframe.

Crew chiefs are part of the maintenance force that ensure aircraft are airworthy and mission-ready so pilots can complete their various variety of missions.

Examples of the wide range of missions for the C-130, one of USAF’s oldest and most reliable assets, can range from humanitarian missions, military supply runs to allies all over the world, transporting hardware like tanks for the Army, to being outfitted into a AC-130 “Spooky” gunship and going to battle with an array of weaponry to wreak havoc on the enemy.

The KC-135’s mission is a bit more streamlined as it is about 300 gas stations with wings. Its mission is to refuel other aircraft during flight so they can continue their mission without landing.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

B-52 crew chief apprentice course students install a drag chute onto a B-52 Stratofortress at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Nov. 19, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

The B-52 is the oldest bomber in the Air Force inventory, having first begun flying in the 1950s. The fortress in the sky is able to fly long distances and carry around 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance.

All these flying giants are sustained by crew chiefs that have trained at Sheppard. Ricke said the crew chief job, while daunting at times, because of the age of some aircraft in the fleet, is also rewarding because he works on aircraft and builds camaraderie with fellow maintainers. It’s why he continues to put on the uniform.

“What our instructors instill the most within the students is the brotherhood and sisterhood between all maintainers,” he said.

Ricke said everyone who joined the Air Force, right next to their personal reason, was a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, a desire to be part of a team or a second family. He said being an Air Force maintainer is something a student, whether or not they specifically wanted the maintainer job, will learn to and hopefully become excited about being part of this important team of unsung heroes.

“That’s probably the main things that really kept me around,” he said. “You’ll never make better friends than the ones you make in the military service. When it’s easy and nice anyone can do the job, but when it gets tough and dirty that’s when the best people show up and that’s when best friends make it fun.”

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

From left, Airman Greg Hogle, Airman 1st Class Daniel Miranda, Airman George Michael Singer III, and Airman Brycen Brooks, all B-52 crew chief apprentice course students, in a B-52 Stratofortress at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, July 2, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Ricke said he tries to instill these values into the students who come through that while doing their job, know there’s people who are there that can help pick up the slack as being a maintainer is a hard job. He and Neville also encourage students to try to become flying crew chiefs, a position that makes all the hardships seem worth it.

“The first time they get to do their first TDY when becoming a flying crew chief, that’s really when it gets brought home and you get to see your part of this mission,” Neville said. “The biggest thing is that drive and force, needs to remember, those pilots can’t fly those without us and who doesn’t want to fly over the world as a part of your job. There’s great food all over the world.”

Ricke said the same thing about flying crew chiefs being one of the more rewarding parts of the hard crew chief life and said whether the mission is a four to five day trip just dropping supplies or working on an military training exercise with the Army for two weeks, becoming a flying crew chief is a goal any new crew chief should strive for.

Many of the aircraft in the Air Force’s heavies fleet will be on display at the SAFB Air Show this Oct. 26-27, showing off the often underappreciated heavy aircraft that are the base of our Air Force.

“For all our cargo aircraft, they will be opened up so people can walk through it, go in the flight deck, they can experience it all,” Ricke said. “That’s the thing for us, showing them one aspect of how this little thing makes all this move around, it’s all just a piece of the puzzle and to show them that we don’t just have fighters or bombers, they can learn about the cargo mission, the training mission.”

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

Articles

Watch this Russian Su-35 fighter make what seem like impossible aerial moves

During the MAKS 2017 air show at Zhukovsky, a city about 25 miles from the Russian capital of Moscow, A Sukhoi Su-35 “Flanker E” or “Super Flanker” gave a stunning performance of aerial maneuverability.


The full name of the show is the International Aviation and Space Show, and it is held every two years on off years. Often, the cream of Russia’s cutting-edge aviation is introduced at the show, including the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
This photo montage shows the Su-35S making an almost-impossible maneuver. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Su-35 is an advanced version of the Su-27 Flanker. Russia has been showing this plane off for the last few years. It entered service in 2010, and among its most notable innovations was a radar that not only looks in front of the plane, but behind it as well. It can carry a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry, and it has a 30mm cannon with 150 rounds. The plane also is equipped with a thrust-vectoring capability.

The Su-35 has dealt with a long development. Early versions, known as the Su-27M, were built in the 1990s, but the Russian military was short on money, and so it didn’t take off. The Su-35S, the Flanker E, was developed through most of the 2000s. The Su-35 did see some action in Syria on behalf of the Russian military, and China has ordered two dozen of these planes.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
A Sukhoi Su-35 in flight. (Wikimedia Commons)

Today, Russia has acquired 58 of the Su-35s, and plans to buy as many as 90, according to GlobalSecurity.org. To put this into perspective, the similar Dassault Rafale has over 160 airframes, with orders from India and Qatar pending. The Eurofighter Typhoon, another similar plane to the Su-35, has over 500 examples in production.

You can see the Su-35 putting on an aerial demonstration of its maneuverability. Do you think this plane will prove to be better than the Rafale or Typhoon, or is it a pretender? Let us know!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The bravery of America’s first paratroopers will blow your mind – Video

America’s airborne forces did some truly amazing things during World War II — a conflict that marked the apex of airborne warfare.


American (and British) paratroopers in units like the 82nd Airborne Division wreaked havoc on the Nazis in World War II — particularly during the invasions of Sicily and Normandy.

After watching these badasses do their thing in the video below, it’s hard to imagine that Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to disband the airborne units after Sicily.

We not only get a look at the paratroopers who helped kick in the door of “Fortress Europe,” but also their weapons: The M1 Garand, the M1A1 Thompson submachine gun, the M1 Carbine, the M3 Grease Gun.

While the show does not explicitly cite the Rule of the LGOPs, the phenomenon’s existence is very strongly implied.

Which of those weapons would you jump into action with? Let us know in the comments!

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hackers are trying to bring down entire countries, and it’s a matter of time

Gatwick Airport is Britain’s second busiest by passenger volume, and Europe’s eighth. And yet it was brought to a standstill for two days by two people and a single drone.

Its vulnerability reminded me of a conversation I had two years ago, at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon with cybersecurity investor Sergey Gribov of Flint Capital. He was talking up one of his investments, an industrial cybersecurity firm based in Israel called CyberX. Half-bored, I girded myself for his pitch. They usually go like this: “The internet is full of hackers! They want to steal your data and your money! If only companies used my company’s awesome product, we would all be safe!”


I have heard hundreds of pitches like this.

But my conversation with Gribov was different. It was … extreme. The criminals who break into the web sites of banks or chainstores and steal personal data or money are not the scariest people out there, he told me. The hackers we really ought to be worrying about are the ones trying to take entire countries offline. People who are trying to take down the internet, switch the lights off, cut the water supply, disable railways, or blow up factories.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

(Flickr photo by Richard Patterson)

The West’s weakness is in the older electronics and sensors that control processes in infrastructure and industry. Often these electronics were installed decades ago. The security systems controlling them are ancient or non-existent. If a hacker can gain control of a temperature sensor in a factory, he — they’re usually men — can blow the place up, or set it on fire. “The problem people don’t realise is it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. You can take down a whole country. It can be done,” he said.

And then, how do you respond? Does the country that was attacked — the one struggling to get its power grid back online — launch nukes? Probably not, he said, because “you have no idea who did it.”

“You can have a team of five people sitting in a basement and be just as devastating as WMDs,” he said. “It’s really scary. In some sense it’s a matter of time because it’s really easy.”

At the time, I discounted my conversation with Gribov. His VC fund was invested in CyberX, so he had an obvious interest in propagating the idea that the world is full of bad guys.

But in the years since we talked, two unnerving things happened.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

The scope of the 2016 internet outage after the attack on Dyn.

(Wikimedia, CC)

“Someone is learning how to take down the Internet,” Bruce Schneier, the CTO of IBM Resilient believes

Both attacks were conducted by relatively unsophisticated actors. The Dyn attack was done by three young men who had created some software that they merely hoped would disable a competitor’s company, until it got out of control. The Mauritania attack was probably done by the government of neighbouring Sierra Leone, which was trying to manipulate local election results by crippling the media.

Apparently, it is possible to take the world offline.

It’s not merely that “someone” out there is trying to figure out how to take down the internet. There are multiple someones out there who want that power. In June 2018, Atlanta’s city government was hobbled by an attack that wiped out a third of its software programs. The FBI told Business Insider earlier this year that it believed terrorists would eventually attempt to take America’s 911 emergency system offline.

Someone is learning how to take down the Internet,” Bruce Schneier, the CTO of IBM Resilient believes.

Three major power suppliers simultaneously taken over by hackers

Next, I talked to Nir Giller, cofounder and CTO of CyberX. He pointed me to the December 2015 blackout in Ukraine, in which three major power suppliers were simultaneously taken over by hackers. The hackers gained remote control of the stations’ dashboards, and manually switched off about 60 substations, leaving 230,000 Ukrainians in the cold and dark for six straight hours.

The hack was almost certainly done by Russia, whose military had invaded Crimea in the south of the country in 2014.

“It’s a new weapon,” Giller says. “It wasn’t an accident. It was a sophisticated, well-coordinated attack.”

The fact that the hackers targeted a power station was telling. The biggest vulnerabilities in Western infrastructure are older facilities, Giller believes. Factories, energy plants, and water companies all operate using machinery that is often very old. New devices and software are installed alongside the older machinery, often to control or monitor it. This is what the industrial “internet of things” looks like. Hackers don’t need to control an entire plant, the way they did in Ukraine. They only need to control an individual sensor on a single machine. “In the best-case scenario you have to get rid of a batch” of product, Giller says. “In the worst case, it’s medicine that is not supervised or produced correctly.”

CyberX has done work for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in California. It claims to be the largest seawater desalination plant in the US. And it serves an area prone to annual droughts. Giller declined to say exactly how CyberX protects the plant but the implication of the company’s work is clear — before CyberX showed up, it was pretty easy to shut down the water supply to about 400,000 people in San Diego.

2010 was the year that cybersecurity experts really woke up to the idea that you could take down infrastructure, not just individual companies or web sites. That was the year the Stuxnet virus was deployed to take down the Iranian nuclear program.

“Stuxnet in 2010 was groundbreaking”

The principle behind Stuxnet was simple: Like all software viruses, it copied and sent itself to as many computers running Microsoft Windows as it possibly could, invisibly infecting hundreds of thousands of operating systems worldwide. Once installed, Stuxnet looked for Siemens Step7 industrial software. If it found some, Stuxnet then asked itself a question: “Is this software operating a centrifuge that spins at the exact frequency of an Iranian nuclear power plant that is enriching uranium to create nuclear weapons?” If the answer was “yes,” Stuxnet changed the data coming from the centrifuges, giving their operators false information. The centrifuges stopped working properly. And one-fifth of the Iranian nuclear program’s enrichment facilities were ruined.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

Anti-aircraft guns guarding Natanz Nuclear Facility, Iran.

“Stuxnet in 2010 was groundbreaking,” Giller says.

Groundbreaking, but extremely sophisticated. Some experts believe that the designers of Stuxnet would need access to Microsoft’s original source code — something that only a government like the US or Israel could command.

Russia is another state actor that is growing its anti-infrastructure resources. In April 2017 the US FBI and the British security services warned that Russia had seeded UK wifi routers — the little boxes that serve wireless internet in your living room — with a hack that can read all the internet traffic going through them. It’s not that Vladimir Putin wants to see what you’re looking at on Pornhub. Rather, “What they’re doing there is building capability,” says Andrew Tsonchev, the director of technology at Darktrace Industrial, a London-based cybersecurity firm that specialises in artificially intelligent, proactive security. “They’re building that and investing in that so they can launch attacks from it across the world if and when they need to.”

A simple extortion device disabled Britain’s largest employer in an afternoon

Then, in 2017, the Wannacry virus attack happened. Like Stuxnet, Wannacry also spread itself through the Microsoft Windows ecosystem. Once activated, it locked up a user’s computer and demanded a ransom in bitcoin if the user wanted their data back. It was intended as a way to extort money from people at scale. The Wannacry malware was too successful, however. It affected so many computers at once that it drew attention to itself, and was quickly disabled by a security researcher (who ironically was later accused of being the creator of yet another type of malware).

During its brief life, Wannacry became most infamous for disabling hundreds of computers used by Britain’s National Health Service, and was at one point a serious threat to the UK’s ability to deliver healthcare in some hospitals.

The fact that a simple extortion device could disable Britain’s largest employer in an afternoon did not go unnoticed. Previously, something like Stuxnet needed the sophistication of a nation-state. But Wannacry looked like something you could create in your bedroom.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

A screenshot shows a WannaCry ransomware demand.

Tsonchev told Business Insider that Wannacry changed the culture among serious black-hat hackers.

“It managed to swoop across, and burn down huge sectors in different countries for a bit,” he says. “In the course of that, the shipping industry got hit. We had people like Maersk, and other shipping terminals and operators, they went down for a day or two. What happened is the ransomware managed to get into these port terminals and the harbours that control shipping … that intrigued attackers to realise that was something they could deliberately try and do that wasn’t really in their playbook at that point.”

“Oh look, we can actually start to do things like take down manufacturing plants and affect the global shipping industry”

“So this year, we see follow-on attacks specifically targeting shipping terminals and ports. They hit the Port of Barcelona and the Port of San Diego and others. That seemed to follow the methodology of the lessons learned the previous year. ‘Oh look, we can actually start to do things like take down manufacturing plants and affect the global shipping industry.’ A couple years ago they were just thinking about stealing credit card data.”

Another scary thing? The Wannacry attack was in May 2017. By December 2017, the US government confirmed that the North Korean government was responsible for the attack. The North Koreans probably just wanted money. The hermit-communist state is chronically poor.

But it may have taught North Korea something more useful: You don’t need bombs to bring a nation to its knees.

Oddly, you have a role to play in making sure this doesn’t happen. The reason Russia and North Korea and Israel and the US all got such devastating results in their attacks on foreign infrastructure is because ordinary people are bad at updating the security software on their personal computers. People let their security software get old and vulnerable, and then weeks later they’re hosting Stuxnet or Wannacry or Russia’s wifi listening posts.

National security is, somehow, about “the absurdity of the mundane,” says Tsonchev. “These little annoying popups [on your computer] are actually holding the key to national security and people are just ignoring them. Individuals have a small part to play in keeping the whole country safe.”

So if you’re casting about for a New Year’s resolution right now, consider this one: Resolve to keep your phone and laptop up to date with system security software. Your country needs you.

Featured image by Ivan David Gomez Arce.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Strangers brave snow and ice to attend the funeral of a 91-year-old veteran

In the military community, there’s nothing more important than honoring our fallen and showing up. Earlier today, at Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO, that’s exactly what happened.


popular

Five things movies get wrong about grenades

Hollywood is infamous for screwing up just about every detail when it comes to the military, but one thing that especially grinds grunts’ gears is how they portray the use of grenades.

Grenades are extremely deadly tools of destruction that, honestly, are a lot of fun to throw — but they are too often misused in fiction. They’re easily one of the most tactically crucial weapons used in combat, but if you were operating exclusively on movie knowledge, you’d be in terrible shape (or shapes).

Here’s what Hollywood consistently gets wrong:


Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
Underwhelming, isn’t it? (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dengrier Baez)

Explosion radius

In general, movies would have you believe that grenades are just a step beneath MOABs. The reality of grenades is much like the reality of that online date you’re about to go on. When you first see it in real life, your first thought is probably going to be, “that’s it?”

It’s not some huge, f*ck-off fireball, it’s just a poof of smoke and shrapnel.

You should probably still stay away from it, though — both the date and the grenade.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
Notice the lack of rocket propulsion… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose D. Lujano)

Projectile grenades are NOT rockets or missiles

When you see some badass in a military movie shoot a grenade launcher, it looks a lot someone shooting a rocket or a missile, but that’s not the case. Grenade launchers are indirect fire weapons. They operate on the same principle as a mortar or artillery gun — there’s an arc.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
This is the right way. (Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker)

Pulling the pin with your teeth

Pulling the pin on a grenade is easy, but it’s not that easy. If you plan to pull the pin with your teeth, set up a dental appointment because you’re going to rip at least three pearly whites from your mouth.

Just slow down and pull it with your hand, Rambo.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
This is “frag out!” (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ricky S. Gomez)

“Grenade!”

We’ve seen way too many characters in movies yell, “grenade!” when lobbing one out. That is not what you want to communicate down the line when you are the one throwing it. Yelling, “grenade” is reserved for alerting the rest of your unit that an explodey-boy has landed in your position — and anyone near you should get the f*ck out of the way.

The term you’re looking for is, “frag out!” Yelling anything else puts your boys at risk.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air
These window marks are from grenade shrapnel. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

Kill/Casualty radius

One movie trope you may shake your head and cluck your tongue at is when a character jumps just outside of the explosion radius of a grenade and emerges unscathed. The fact is, even if you escape the explosion, your ass is going to be pumped full of metal. In real life, that bad boy has a casualty radius, which means you can still get wounded when you’re well beyond the explosion.

The kill radius of your typical fragmentation grenade is 5 meters, the casualty radius is 15 meters, but shrapnel can travel as far as 230 meters.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

SIG to release pellet replica of Army’s new handgun

New from SIG AIR: An air pistol that’s nearly identical to the U.S. Army’s New M17 Modular Handgun System.

The new M17 Advanced Sport Pellet, or ASP, pistol is powered by a carbon dioxide cartridge and features a proprietary drop magazine that houses a 20-round rapid pellet magazine, according to a recent press release from Sig Sauer, the maker of the Army’s MHS.

“This semi-automatic .177 caliber pellet pistol is a replica of the U.S. Army issued P320 M17 and is field-strippable like its centerfire counterpart,” the release states. “It has the same look and feel as the M17, featuring a polymer frame and metal slide with realistic blow-back action.”


Air pistols are becoming more popular as a training tool for military and police forces.

The U.S. Coast Guard recently selected the SIG AIR Pro Force P229 airsoft pistol, which is designed to be an exact replica — in look, weight, balance, and handling characteristics — of the Coast Guard’s Sig Sauer P229 service pistol.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

SIG AIR’s M17 Advanced Sport Pellet.

The Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, has long used the Sig P229 .40 caliber pistol as its duty sidearm. The Coast Guard is scheduled to join the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps in fielding the Army’s new Modular Handgun System.

But the service plans to use the SIG AIR Pro Force P229 for simulated training, according to a press release about the Coast Guard’s purchase.

The new M17 ASP’s CO2 cartridge features a patented cam lever loading port for quick and easy replacement of the cartridge, according to the release.

It weighs 2.15 pounds and comes with fixed sights. The M17 ASP has a velocity of up to 430 feet per second, but that may vary depending on pellet weight, temperature and altitude, the release states.

It comes in Coyote tan and retails for about 0.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the first draft of the Afghan Peace Accord might be a terrible deal

After almost two decades of nonstop war, the United States and the Taliban have agreed to a draft framework for a peace deal to end the fighting there.

For the United States, I mean.

For now, that is.


Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

“This is … how you say… the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever.”

America’s chief negotiator with the Taliban is Zalmay Khalilzad, who got torn a new one in the global press by Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib. Mohib accused Khalilzad of trying to usurp power in the country by installing himself as a viceroy of a caretaker government. This caused the United States to demand an apology that never came.

Now Mohib, the only member of the Afghan government involved in talks with the Taliban, is being “frozen out.” Now that a draft agreement is in place, we know it’s an agreement that no Afghan official helped negotiate. Members of the Afghan government won’t even be allowed to sit at the table until they finalize this draft agreement.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

Afghanistan is adorable.

For the internationally-recognized government of Afghanistan, the removal of American troops would be a disaster if done today. The Government only controls just under two-thirds of the population and just over half of the country’s administrative districts, according to a January 2019 report from the military’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

In reply, the Pentagon sent out a statement refuting its own report: “Measures of population control are not indicative of effectiveness of the South Asia strategy or of progress toward security and stability in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan’s army is losing soldiers at a rate of some 3,000 or more per month, due to desertions and ending reenlistments. It is currently at 87 percent strength and falling fast – because they get killed at an alarming rate.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

Maybe China will do it better.

In exchange for the United States agreeing to a timetable withdrawal, the Taliban has agreed not to let Afghanistan become a hub for international terrorism, as it was in the days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. But the Taliban’s promises are problematic from the start – every leader of al-Qaeda has declared the leader of the Taliban to be the “Emir of the Faithful,” the mujaheddin equivalent of Caliph.

Osama bin Laden named Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar the Emir. When those two died, their successors, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Aktar Mansour, recognized each other’s leadership. Mansour died in an airstrike in 2016 and his replacement, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, was named Emir by Zawahiri. You can’t really have one without the other.

But they promised. Is that good enough?

MIGHTY FIT

Are your combat boots jacking up your feet?

What do you think of the combat boots currently worn by the Service? I think they’re pretty BA. Great for kicking in doors, and stomping throats.

Turns out that may be the wrong way to look at our boots though…

When you compare the number of Spartan push-kicks and axe-stomps the average service member conducts during their career to the number of standard steps they take to get from the barracks to work it’s astounding.

It’s like one forcible entry for every 1 billion steps…..


Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

Axe stomp, push kick, round kick… you know the drill

A Marine with Korps Marinir, 2nd Marines, 6th Brigade, Tentara National Indonesia, performs a kick during martial arts training with U.S. Marines with Landing Force Company May 27

I was astonished by these numbers as well. I remember having a lot more boots pressing into my jugular while on active duty than that. Numbers don’t lie though.

The above being true, shouldn’t our boots be designed to promote the best foot function while walking, hiking, and running?

According to one paper making its rounds through the Marine Corps, modern footwear is locking our feet into a poor position that is causing structural issues in humans of all ages from the feet all the way up the kinetic chain.

What exactly is the issue with our current boots, and footwear in general, then? How can they be fixed to prevent 20-year-old veterans from feeling like someone who fell out of the disability tree and hit every branch with their feet on the way down?

Apparently, there are four parts of standard shoes and boots that make us suck at using our feet.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

The anatomy of a boot.

1. Toe Spring

It’s that bent up portion at the front of your boot.

Toe spring stretches out the various muscles of the sole of the foot and shortens the extensor muscles running along the top robbing toes of range of motion.

Over time, toe spring makes you weaker at being able to articulate your toes. Which means you’ll be getting weaker in your feet even when you are training hard.

Here’s how the Air Force keeps its biggest planes in the air

This ad did not age well…

j.gifs.com

2. Supportive Insole

You remember those commercials… Are you gellin’? (Did I just date myself?)

Supportive insoles disable the intrinsic muscles of the foot and create a dependence on support. They are the footwear equivalent of taking supplements when the rest of your eating habits are weak and unsupported by a solid foundation.

Support is great for short term bursts of concentrated effort. Like a lifting belt, it’s great if you wear it for a one-rep max deadlift. But if you use it every rep of every session, you will become reliant and weak in the muscles of your core.

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Marines with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Toe prison… See what I did there?

3. Toe Box

It’s where your toes hang out. It’s way more restrictive than it should be. You want your toes to be able to spread out and grab the ground. Currently, it should be called a toe prison.

Constricting toe boxes basically make the middle of your foot stronger than it should be and the flanks of your feet AKA your big and little toes much weaker than they should be. This often manifests as painful and disgusting bunions, which are not typically an authorized reason to report to medical.

tenor.com

4. Elevated Heel

This is probably the most egregious offender of foot deformities in the long run.

First off the heel makes us balance on the balls of our toes. This breaks the equal line of thrust of the arch from the heel and the ball and drives it all to the ball creating a collapse. This causes us to lose strength in the arch of our foot, which is supposed to naturally absorb shock when we walk or run.

Imagine what would happen to an arch bridge if you took away one of the supports on either end. The bridge would turn into the newest architectural addition to Atlantis when it crumbles and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

That’s why insoles have become a “must buy” at boot camp and the other indoc courses. They give artificial arch support when the feet fail to provide the natural support that they should.

Second, the walking pattern is changed from a natural walking pattern to a “heel strike.” We aren’t supposed to walk heel first, try it in your bare feet, you’ll immediately realize it’s quite painful. The heel and cushioning of the boot take away that immediate pain response that you get when you walk barefoot, that leads to ever more forceful heel strikes that send a shock all the way up the body to the spine. Just another example of modern conveniences making us more comfortable but ultimately worse off.

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The barefoot rickshaw driver circa 1951

From the Ronald H. Welsh Collection (COLL/5677) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Your feet are in a prison

So it turns out that just about every aspect of current footwear is flat-out wrong for the human foot.

The interesting thing is that this isn’t a new revelation.

Dr. Schulman of the U.S. Army had very similar observations back in 1949, during WWII. This guy was a high achiever, he’s in the middle of the largest war to ever consume planet Earth, and he decided to conduct a study on the human foot…wild.

Dr. Schulman compared those who wore restrictive footwear to those who didn’t in the native populations of China and India.

His most stark observation is that barefoot rickshaw drivers had none of the same foot deformities as those that wear shoes all day.

Rickshaw drivers spend all day running on concrete, or hard-packed roads, everyday for decades, and Dr. Schulman observed that their feet were strong and healthy.

Compare that to your feet crammed into those freshly brushed feet prisons you currently have on.

His conclusion? “…restrictive footgear, particularly ill-fitting footgear, cause most of the ailments of the human foot.”

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Silent Drill Platoon performs during Cherry Blossom Festival

On their way to Dermo for new boots…

The movement for a new boot

There’s now a movement developing in the Marine Corps to change the culture of the service to promote health and longevity in the feet of today’s Marines rather than slowly break them down.

Are you in support of this movement? Do you think that a closer look at foot health and boot structure would make our services stronger and more capable? Would they do more or less to make the Force more resilient than the upcoming Plank addition to the PFT?

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Navy’s Super Hornets need an extended range

The US Navy wants to increase the range of its aircraft so carriers can remain out of missile range, an apparent response to China’s anti-ship defenses.


The Navy recently announced that it has awarded Boeing a $219,600,000 contract to build and deliver conformal fuel tanks for its air wings workhorse, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, as part of an emphasis on increasing fuel capacity and refueling ability.

CFTs are additional fuel tanks that are attached to the outside of the aircraft, somewhat similar to drop tanks. Unlike drop tanks, however, they are attached to the structure of the aircraft instead of the wing, and cannot be dropped.

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The F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corp)

The CFTs can carry hundreds of pounds of extra fuel, allowing for more hours of flight time.

The tanks are not a new concept — both the F-15 and the F-16 have conformal fuel tanks that can be fitted to them, as do the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Also read: The Super Hornet will get these ‘stealth-like’ upgrades

The Navy is also trying to implement aerial refueling for carrier missions that do not require large tankers like the KC-46 and KC-135. This will be done through the use of the MQ-25 Stingray.

The Stingray is a unmanned aerial vehicle that is part of the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System, a program that started after the Navy decided to change the direction of the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike project, which was intended to create a UAV that would strike enemy targets.

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Boeing gave a sneak peak of the MQ-25 Stingray. (Image via Boeing Twitter)

China has a distinct advantage when it comes to anti-ship defenses and reportedly has the world’s most advanced anti-ship ballistic missile.

Related: This is what Boeing’s new stealth tanker looks like

The DF-21D has an approximate range of 1,100 miles, whereas the F/A-18 Super Hornet only has a range of 500 miles. The DF-21D has been referred to as the “carrier killer.”

China is also developing other missiles that are just as intimidating, such as the DF-26, which reportedly has a maximum range of 2,500 miles. China is also testing hypersonic glide vehicles that can go as fast as mach 10, making them almost impossible to intercept.

Carrier strike groups are extremely important to the US method of waging war. They have often been the first units sent to conduct strikes in places like Syria and Iraq.

popular

Why Kosovo and Albania will pay Swiss soccer players’ fines

Leaders of Kosovo and Albania have said they are collecting money to pay fines that two Switzerland soccer players received for making a pro-Kosovo gesture when the celebrated their team’s victory over Serbia in June 2018.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri trace their roots to Kosovo, a former Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority which declared its independence from Belgrade in 2008.


The two players had made double-eagle gestures in celebration, referring to Albania’s national symbol, which is viewed as a symbol of defiance in Serbia. Belgrade has never recognized Pristina’s declaration of independence despite its recognition by 116 other countries.

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Albania Flag

The players’ celebrations caused outrage in Serbia and prompted FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, to fine both players $10,100. FIFA’s rules prohibit displaying political symbols in stadiums.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on June 26, 2018 that he had opened a bank account to enable his fellow countrymen to help pay the fines, which he called “absurd.”

The account named “Don’t be afraid of the eagle” is a “gesture of gratitude to the two sportsmen,” he said on Facebook.

Kosovo also opened an online fund and only hours afterward had collected nearly $23,000, officials said.

Kosovar Commerce and Industry Minister Bajram Hasani said he had donated the amount of his monthly salary — about 1,500 euros.

“They were punished only because they did not forget their roots, they did not forget where they came from,” Hasani told local media.

“Money cannot buy the joy that Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri brought us by celebrating with the eagle sign,” he said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A French company is developing target-acquiring drones for tanks

Remotely piloted aircraft, more commonly known as drones, have become an established part of warfare, serving as both intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance (ISR for short) assets as well as attack platforms.

More recently, smaller man-portable drones have been proposed as a way to provide infantry units with a faster organic method of scanning the battlefield around them and relaying critical intelligence and data back to infantry leaders. Now, Nexter — a French defense contractor — wants to take drone usage in a different direction and attach them to heavy armored vehicles.

More specifically… tanks.


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The gunner’s station in a Leclerc tank

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Rama)

The theory behind fitting out tanks with small drones is maddeningly simple — just tether a drone to the hull or turret of the tank, and integrate scanners and sensors aboard the drone into the tank’s onboard computers. This allows the drone to seamlessly pass what it sees to the tank’s crew, and allows them to use the data to get a visual on the enemy before the enemy sees them, or to dial in their shots for better effects on target.

Using drones, tanks could shoot “blind” out of a defilade position, allowing them to mail accurate shots downrange without having to break out of cover or expose themselves to enemy fire and retaliation.

Nexter, the developer of the Leclerc main battle tank, states that its drone, which will be fully unveiled later this year at the 2019 International Defense Exhibition Conference in the UAE, will be able to designate targets for the Leclerc, and will likely work in tandem with the company’s upcoming POLYNEGE and M3M “smart” 120 mm shells.

Given that the idea and its surrounding development is in full swing over in Europe, it’s only a matter of time until target-designating drones become an asset for American armored elements, especially the Army and Marine Corps’ M1A2 Abrams tank units, which have seen action in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the past 15 years.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks)

In recent years, both the Army and General Dynamics Land Systems (which supports, produces, and rebuilds M1A2s) have made moves towards developing methods for the Abrams to not only interface with drones, but also take control of them and use them to attack targets in a dynamic combat environment.

With a concurrent push for guided artillery munitions and “smart” shells for tanks, it’s only a matter of a few short years until the Department of Defense brings in Nexter’s tethered drone concept and implements it across the board with the latest iteration of the Abrams — the M1A2SEP V4.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Valkyrie drone suffers damage during Air Force flight test

An XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicle undergoing testing with the U.S. Air Force was damaged during its third flight test, forcing its next test to be delayed until an investigation is complete, officials announced Oct. 10, 2019.

The Valkyrie drone was hit by “high surface winds” and also suffered “a malfunction of the vehicle’s provisional flight test recovery system” and landed in a damaged state at the testing ranges in Yuma, Arizona, on Oct. 9, 2019, the Air Force said.

The drone is part of the Air Force’s Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program, an effort to develop unmanned attack aircraft that are intended to be reusable, but cheap enough that they can be destroyed without significant loss.


“We continue to learn about this aircraft and the potential … technology [it] can offer to the warfighter,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, in a released statement.

“This third flight successfully completed its objectives and expanded the envelope from the first two flights,” Cooley added. The flight lasted 90 minutes, officials said.

XQ-58A Valkyrie Demonstrator Inaugural Flight

www.youtube.com

“We have gathered a great deal of valuable data from the flight and will even learn from this mishap,” Cooley said. “Ultimately, that is the objective of any experiment and we’re pleased with the progress of the Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program.”

The Air Force did not say how long it will take to investigate the setback, nor when officials can anticipate its fourth flight.

In partnership with Kratos Defense, the drone’s manufacturer, officials previously completed a second test in Yuma on June 11, 2019.

The Air Force has been working to expedite the prototype program, which in the near future could incorporate artificial intelligence. AFRL in recent months has also been working on the “Skyborg” program, aimed at pairing AI with a human in the cockpit.

The goal is to incorporate the Skyborg network into Valkyrie. The drone’s purpose would be to operate alongside manned fighters, so the machine can learn how to fly and even train with its pilot.

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The XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicle.

(YouTube)

Valkyrie, a long-range, high-subsonic UAV, has incorporated a lot of lessons from Kratos’ other subsonic drone, the Mako, according to Kratos Defense CEO and President Eric DeMarco.

“Mako continues to fly for various customers with all types of payloads,” he said during an interview at the Paris air show in June. It was designed to carry electronic warfare or jamming equipment, infrared search and track sensors and offensive and defensive weapons, he said.

“Mako [is] a test bed, running a parallel path with the Valkyrie, so when the Valkyrie is ready, those payloads can more easily be ported over and integrated into Valkyrie because they’ve already been demonstrated in an unmanned platform,” DeMarco said.

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said during the show that there’s potential to field some Valkyrie UAVs quickly — roughly 20 to 30 — for experimentation before the service pairs manned fighters with the drone by 2023.

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

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