The key qualities of operator footwear - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY BRANDED

The key qualities of operator footwear

This article was sponsored by Altama.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the field, then you likely understand the importance of having quality gear. It can make your life easier and more comfortable, and that alone is worth its weight in gold. One of the most crucial pieces of gear (and often uncelebrated) is a good pair of boots. Not only do you need a pair that will provide protection, support, and comfort; durability, affordability, moisture management, and longevity are other important traits to consider.

While there are a number of brands and styles to choose from, few companies have a reputation, credibility, and legacy like Altama, who has been providing footwear for the military for over 50 years. In fact, Altama is the largest footwear manufacturer for the Department of Defense. They even employ a team of military and civilian volunteers to put their boots through their paces to ensure they perform in real-life scenarios.


But no matter which boots you strap into, here are a few things you should consider when choosing your next pair.

1. Comfort

While this might seem like the most obvious reason to purchase a good pair of boots, this wasn’t always a primary consideration. In fact, way back in the day, before the Civil War, many boots issued to troops didn’t even have a specific left or right boot. Each troop was expected to break in each pair through extended wear. As you can imagine, this made the shoe less expensive to produce, but also extremely uncomfortable, often resulting in blisters and soreness.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Now, the top manufacturers make use of lightweight, durable materials, like knit and mesh, to improve comfort. Technical additions, like a full shank (a load bearing insert made of Nylon or other hard material), help the wearer by diminishing the load on his/her calves, arches, and knees. This has been particularly important as our service men and women find themselves carrying heavy loads on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The key qualities of operator footwear

2. Sole Toughness

A durable, non-slip sole is a must-have for operators. Operating in different topographies, such as deserts, mountains, jungles, forests, and urban environments, demands a versatile sole that can handle all surfaces and situations. Altama footwear has incorporated a high-abrasion, rubber sticky outsole into their Urban Assault shoe, which draws its inspiration from rock climbing shoes. This sole also happens to comply with OSHA standards regarding slip resistance and features a zero-drop sole which is believed to promote more of a midfoot landing, reducing wear and tear on the knees. This feature also promotes increased stability, as it offers greater contact with the floor.

The key qualities of operator footwear

3. Moisture Management

Whether you are operating in water, or simply in a hot, sweat-inducing environment, having footwear that’s suited for the task is key. Boots that keep your feet wet for prolonged periods of time can lead to problems with blisters and, in extreme cases, trench foot.

So, how do you know which shoe is right for you? Altama’s Urban Assault shoe, for example, incorporates air mesh linings that help to quickly wick sweat and moisture away from your foot. This, coupled with a chunky knit vent, promotes airflow around your foot. And, most importantly (at least to your battle buddies) it also includes an anti-microbial PU foam insole, which helps manage nasty odor.

Altama’s Maritime Assault shoe, on the other hand, features a fin-friendly fit and free-flow side drainage vents that allow water to exit the shoe for amphibious missions. The fast-dry lining also eliminates the need for a sock that’s susceptible to sogginess.

Altama has been designing footwear for over 50 years with our law enforcement and military members in mind. Check out their full line of tactical boots and shoes. Discounts are available for active duty, veteran, and law enforcement members.

This article was sponsored by Altama.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A seeming clone of the X-47B shows up at Chinese airshow

A new drone model with stealth features has been unveiled at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) booth at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition and Airshow China, in Zhuhai.

Initially hidden under a tarp, the unmanned aircraft has eventually been unveiled, showing a striking resemblance to some pretty famous American unmanned aerial systems (UAS). We don’t know whether it is a full scale mock-up or just a scale model of an existing or future prototype; still, the available images provide enough details for some analysis.


Some observers suggested the Chinese drone is a sort of copy of the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, the stealth drone captured by Iran in 2011 and then reverse-engineered by Tehran: according to the information circulating on the Chinese Defense forums, a group of 17 Chinese experts flew to Iran 4 days after only four days after the Sentinel drone had crash landed in Iran during a spy mission, not only to inspect, but also to collect and bring back to China some key components of the RQ-170.

While it’s extremely likely that China had the opportunity to inspect the drone and copy the circuitry, lenses, sensors that probably survived the mysterious crash landing, the shape of the article exhibited at Zhuhai seems to be more similar to the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program than the Lockheed Martin RQ-170.

In their article on the Chinese drones at the Zhuhai Airshow, The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway, describing the large flying wing-shaped aircraft hidden under tarps said:

“From what little we can tell of the planform under the mats, it appears to be similar in configuration to something roughly akin to an X-47B, but with more slender outer wings and less of accentuated ‘cranked kite’ configuration.”

Indeed, the new drone seems to be largely based on the X-47B with some modifications, including slightly different intake (taller than that of the Northrop Grumman demonstrator aircraft – in fact, this is the one thing that seems to really “come” from the RQ-170), wingspan/planform, nose section and landing gear (the one of the American UCAV was designed for arrested landings on aircraft carriers).

The front nose gear bay door reminds the one of another quite famous Northrop Grumman stealth aircraft: the B-2 Spirit bomber.

The key qualities of operator footwear

A B-2 Spirit sits on jacks Feb. 26, 2010, awaiting Airmen from the 509th Maintenance Squadron Aero Repair Shop to perform landing gear operational checks.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jessica Snow)

Anyway, until more images and details about this new drone emerge we can just add that considered all the cyber attacks targeting Lockheed Martin stealth projects as well as other US aerospace industries in the last years, we can’t rule out the possibility that Chinese hackers were able to put their hands on some useful technical drawings of some American UAVs, useful to “clone” U.S. shapes, planforms and components. And possibly improve them or at least try to.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Burning 50,000 pounds of fuel per hour: Aerial refueling from a fighter pilot

The development of aerial refueling was one of the greatest leaps in fighter lethality. A fighter, just like any aircraft, consists of hundreds of tradeoffs—cost, payload, speed, stealth, size, weight, maneuverability, the list goes on and on. But, the Achilles heel of fighters has always been their fuel consumption.

At the heart of a modern jet like the F-16 or F-35 is an afterburning turbofan engine. The turbofan part is similar to an airliner, however the afterburner is a special section fitted to the aft-tailpipe that injects fuel and ignites it, similar to a flame thrower. This rapidly increases thrust, however the tradeoff is that it burns fuel at an incredible rate.


The key qualities of operator footwear

Members of the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron engine test facility, run an F-15 Eagle engine at full afterburner while checking for leaks and any other issues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

I remember flying in an F-16 in afterburner while supersonic over the Yellow Sea and looking down to see a fuel-flow rate of over 50,000 lbs per hour. To put that into perspective, that’s similar to a fire-hose operating fully open—and that’s just a single engine, a twin-engine jet such as the F-15 or F-22 can double that. The problem is, topped off, I could only carry 7,000 pounds of fuel which was enough for me to fly at that fuel-setting for less than 10 minutes.

The reason we’re able to sacrifice fuel for incredible speed and maneuverability is because we can refuel in the air. The Air Force has over 450 airborne tankers, which are specially modified passenger aircraft that are filled with fuel. The backbone of our tanker fleet, the KC-135 Stratotanker is based on the Boeing 707, which amazingly has been flying aerial refueling operations since the 1950’s.

The key qualities of operator footwear

A 401st Tactical Fighter Wing F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft as another F-16 stands by during Operation Desert Storm. (USAF Photo)

When we need fuel, we’ll pull up slightly behind and below the tanker. The tanker will then extend it’s boom, which is a 50 foot long tube with small flight control surfaces on it. The boomer, who sits in the back of the aircraft, then steers the boom using those control surfaces into the refueling receptacle of our aircraft.

Once contact is made, a seal forms and fuel starts transferring at several thousand pounds per minute. We’ll then continue to maintain that precise position using director lights on the bottom of the tanker until we’re topped off. The amount of time it takes depends on how much fuel is transferred, but generally takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

The key qualities of operator footwear

A U.S. Air Force pilot navigates an F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing into position to refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 336th Air Refueling Squadron over the northwest coast of Florida. (USAF photo by MSgt John Nimmo Sr.)

Aerial refueling is a common part of most missions. When we take our jets to different exercises around the country, we’ll use tankers so we can fly nonstop. Tankers also allow us to double our training during a flight—we’ll fly our mission, refuel, and then fly it again. When we deploy, tankers allow us to cross vast swaths of ocean in one hop—I remember topping off 10 times on my way to Afghanistan. But, the most critical benefit of air refueling is it allows us to project and sustain air power.

Tankers allow us to fly indefinitely. Even if I was running my power settings as efficiently as possible, I could only stay airborne for about two hours, which translates into a combat radius of just a few hundred miles. That’s not nearly enough range to project power into another country and return home. With a tanker though, our combat radius can extend into the thousands of miles—we’re primarily limited by pilot fatigue.

The key qualities of operator footwear

(USAF Photo)

By breaking the fighter range problem into two components—a fighter and a tanker— engineers were able to massively increase the performance and relevance of fighters in combat. A single formation of fighters can have a near strategic level impact on the battlefield.

Make sure to check back in two weeks for an in-cockpit play-by-play of how we rejoin with the tanker and refuel at 350 mph.

Want to know more about life as a fighter pilot? Check out Justin “Hasard” Lee’s video about a day in the life of a fighter pilot below:

Air Force Fighter Pilots | Ep. 5: A Day In The Life Of An Air Force Fighter Pilot

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This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s mechanical third arm is straight out of ‘Aliens’

If you’re a fan of the movie Aliens, then you probably remember the mechanical third arms that the Space Marines used to help support their giant weapons systems. Last year, the Army tried out a real-life version of the device at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, seeking to help Soldiers shoulder burdens in excess of 100 pounds. Too much unassisted lifting, according to an Army researcher in a 2017 report, could result in Soldiers “getting broken, sometimes in training, before they see a day in combat.”


Well, the initial prototype finished its testing and the six Soldiers who tried it gave their feedback. Now, according to an Army Times report, the Army reportedly has designed a new version and is looking for fifteen suckers volunteers to test it out.

The key qualities of operator footwear

The six Soldiers who tested the initial prototype, which was front-mounted, had some good news for innovators: It did reduce fatigue. The sensors that participants wore throughout testing showed that the device measured lower muscle activation as well. However, like all ideas born in the mind of a science geek, there were a few implementation problems and the device wasn’t quite ready to hit the field.

Related: 8 reasons why ‘Aliens’ perfectly captures Marine infantry life

So, after a short trip back to the lab, the Army is back with a new version that weighs in at about three and a half pounds. The arm is now mounted on the back and has a new hinge plate to help the device work on folks with various body types. After all, the Army is made up of unique individuals, not battalions of clones… oh, wait, that’s a different sci-fi franchise.

The key qualities of operator footwear

These “third arms” are generally capable of hoisting an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which weighs roughly 27 pounds. They are also capable of holding shields that weigh about 20 pounds. The next round of tests will seek to determine how well the third arm handles shooting at moving targets, assisting with recoil mitigation, and shooting while on the move.

MIGHTY BRANDED

These wounded warriors compete against NFL alumni in a show of solidarity and respect

At the College of San Mateo this year, Kaplan University sponsored the Wounded Warrior Amputee vs. NFL Alumni Flag Football game prior to Super Bowl 50. The flag football game is a chance for these veterans to compete together against NFL greats, to raise awareness, and inspire their audience with their determination. Kaplan University proudly supports the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, a team made up of service members who were injured in the line of duty, in their drive to inspire their fans and prove their ability to go above and beyond all expectations.

Articles

This is why the UH-1 Huey became a symbol of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War’s icon was arguably the UH-1 helicopter. Officially designated the Iroquois (‘Huey’ is more of a term of endearment), this helicopter has been the most-produced in history, first flying in 1956 — that means it has just over six decades of service with the United States military!


Over 7,000 Hueys were used in Vietnam, and 2,500 were lost during the war.

According to the Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation, the UH-1D had the ability to carry up to 16 passengers and crew.

The chopper could also carry just under 3,900 pounds of equipment in the cabin or 5,000 pounds in an external sling. It also could serve as a potent gunship, firing 70mm rockets, M60 machine guns in 7.62mm NATO, and M134 miniguns.

 

The key qualities of operator footwear
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (U.S. Army photo)

The secret to the Huey’s success was a gas turbine engine that not only was able to perform at higher temperatures and in less-dense air than previous helicopters, but it was also much lighter than previous helicopter engines.

This allowed the Huey to be smaller (48-foot rotor diameter, 57 foot length) and lighter — making it fast (a top speed of 135 miles per hour) and maneuverable. It had a range of 315 miles, giving American troops the ability to strike hard and fast at a distance.

The chopper’s mobility meant that in a one-year tour, the average infantry soldier saw 240 days of combat. For some perspective, in the Pacific Theater during WWII, the average grunt saw 40 days over the nearly four years that conflict lasted.

The key qualities of operator footwear
U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom flies during an exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

 

Today, versions of the UH-1 are still in service with the Marine Corps (the UH-1Y Venom), the Air Force (UH-1N), and Navy (UH-1N). The Army’s last Huey mission was flown on Dec. 15, 2016. According to an Army release, the helicopter was handed off to the Louisiana State Police a week later.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Army needs 6 years to field the new light tank

U.S. Army modernization officials defended the rapid prototyping strategy for the service’s Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) system, even though infantry units won’t receive the new light tank until 2025.

The Army announced Dec. 17, 2018, that it awarded contracts to General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. and BAE Systems, worth up to $376 million each, to produce prototypes of the MPF.


The two companies will each build 12 prototypes so the Army can begin testing them in early 2020. The goal is to down-select to a winner by fiscal 2022.

“We are excited about this opportunity,” Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, head of Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems, told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have an aggressive schedule to take a look at these two companies as they build the prototypes.”

The key qualities of operator footwear

BAE Systems displays an early prototype of its Mobile Protected Firepower at AUSA’s meeting and exposition in Washington. Events such as this provide industry with opportunities to showcase technologies and discuss requirements for new capabilities.

(BAE Systems photo)

GDLS and BAE beat out SAIC and its partner, ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd., but Army officials would not comment on the reason the winners were chosen.

Service officials lauded the contract awards as a major step forward in streamlining Army acquisition and said they plan to use the rapid prototyping approach as a model for future programs.

But even if the Army in 2022 selects one of the companies to build production MPF systems, it likely will take another three years before the service will field the first of 504 of these lightweight tanks to infantry brigade combat teams.

Army officials said it would take longer to field the MPF if they hadn’t used what’s known as “Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping (Section 804)” contracts, an acquisition tool designed to streamline testing and development of prototypes.

The process is quicker than other acquisition procedures in that the MPF program will not use time-consuming preliminary and critical design reviews to ensure that platforms meet requirements, Army officials explained.

“For a new system, [going through that process] could add as much as a year-and-a-half to two years onto the whole cycle,” said David Dopp, Mobile Protected Firepower program manager, adding that the Army is pleased it will take just 14 months for GDLS and BAE to produce the 12 prototypes each.

“Fourteen months is very challenging. I don’t think you can find another program that ever got prototypes in 14 months,” he said. “When you build these vehicles and you put them together, [sometimes] they don’t work, or if they do work, we take them out and test them, and there are things that happen, and we need that time to prove it out.”

The key qualities of operator footwear

A General Dynamics Land Systems Griffin II prototype vehicle. GD was selected to produce similar, medium-weight, large-caliber prototype vehicles for the U.S. Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower program.

(General Dynamics photo)

Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, said the Army will use the 14 months to get a headstart on figuring out how infantry units will utilize the MPF to destroy enemy bunkers and other hardened battlefield positions.

“Right now, we are doing experiments and tactical training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with vehicles that have a similar profile of the Mobile Protective Firepower to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for the light forces to work with mechanized vehicles in the close fight,” he said.

The MPF concept emerged several years ago when maneuver leaders started calling for a lightweight, armored platform for light infantry forces equipped with a cannon powerful enough to destroy hardened targets.

Since then, the MPF program has been placed into the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, or NGCV, portfolio, the second of the Army’s six modernization priorities that fall under the responsibility of the new Army Futures Command.

Coffman said he was pleased with the MPF’s progress, calling it the “first NGCV major decision that’s come out, as far as procurement actions.”

“If anything needs to be changed, we are not afraid to do it,” he said. “We want what is best for our soldiers as fast as we can get it.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How do first-, second-, and third-wave coffee movements relate to conflict coffee?

In 2015, a cup of coffee in New York City averaged $1.70; in 2019, that price jumped to $1.97. Besides inflation, coffee has undergone quite the transformation since its first wash of national popularity in the 1960s — known as the first-wave coffee movement.

As much as our favorite drink has transformed, the efforts made to source and sell coffee have also drastically transformed, eventually bumping into its fair share of problems. While it currently boasts one of the biggest markets globally, the method in which coffee is sourced often skirts the questions about morality. Conflict along the coffee belt has been a recurring issue within the past few years, but that wasn’t always the case. In order to understand the extent of coffee conflict, we must first understand the waves of coffee and how they have changed the shape of the market.


Back in the 1960s, Maxwell House and Folgers earned their place in our pantries as a morning beverage readily available for the American masses. These two companies, in combination with other “gourmet” brands, represented the face of the first wave of coffee, in which coffee was treated as a daily commodity rather than a specialty trade. These were the days of no-nonsense, pre-ground beans and a good, old-fashioned percolator drip. The grounds weren’t single-roast, imported beans that capitalized on flavor through specialized processing — and the brands weren’t interested in marketing themselves as such. Likewise, consumers weren’t invested in where their grounds were being sourced from.

Folgers Coffee Commercial 1 1960’s

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The second wave gets a little more complex, but experts commonly refer to it as the “Starbucks” wave, and for good reason. Whereas the first wave seemed to be exclusive to the domestic realm, the second featured a heavy focus on intense mobilization of cafe culture, as well as the specialty beverages and passionate baristas that came along with it.

With the introduction of predominantly West Coast coffee chains, brands like Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Tim Hortons used espresso-based specialty beverages to lure in crowds. Ironically, the emphasis wasn’t on the coffee but the supplementary elements of the drink, as well as the cafe’s ambiance. It’s here that companies began publishing roasts and origins, which created an awareness of sourcing without a heavy emphasis on it.

Aptly nicknamed the “hipster boom,” the third wave of coffee carved its place into existence as the movement that mobilized coffee on its own terms. No longer about the syrup or milky beverages, cafes like Blue Bottle and La Colombe shifted their focus to the beans, roast, flavor profile, and origin of the individual cup of coffee. The hallmark of this wave remains the manner in which coffee is regarded. Like wine or cheese, the third wave considers coffee an artisanal good that requires knowhow to hone in on the drinker’s preferences.

How to Make Coffee With A Chemex

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Rather than percolators or espresso barges, the third-wave movement revitalized manual methods like pour over and French press, controlling every aspect of the brewing process to best manifest each roast’s specific characteristics. And while this seems like an ideal scenario for coffee lovers, the third wave struggles to balance its morality with its dedication to sophistication and flavor. Of all the waves, the third is correlated with the most paltry, having been sourced primarily by strife-ridden communities.

The first and second waves vaguely alluded to the origin of their beans. They were predominantly Colombian or Arabica beans with a selection that grew to include Indonesian and Vietnamese coffee. The origins of these beans weren’t obscure, but they were never highlighted the way they are now.

The third wave doesn’t share its predecessors’ inclination for simplicity — on the contrary, it places a heavy emphasis on exoticism. This makes sense considering that coffee is now treated as an artisanal good, and as with any business, the forces of supply and demand are at work. Quality plays an important role, however, it’s less about overall flavor than it is about rarity. “Rarity” in this context is defined as how difficult something is to source rather than how obscure it is. Inevitably, the rarest beans remain engrossed in the throes of conflict. In 2016, Blue Bottle paid 3 a pound for coffee imported from a war-plagued Yemen.

The process of roasting a batch of high-quality, single-origin coffee beans in a large industrial roaster; the toasted beans are in the cooling cycle.

Before we can delve into the main connection between the third wave and coffee conflict, it’s important we understand exactly how those bags of beans end up on the shelves of our local cafes. Whereas first-wave coffee was sourced privately by equitable firms and sold wholesale to companies like Maxwell House and Folgers, the third wave engages coffee sourcing with intense vigor. With consumers willing to pay higher prices, the more direct their relationship with their coffee can be. The third wave actively removes the middleman and encourages cafes to source the coffee themselves, providing associates with a direct relationship with the farmers.

To the naked eye, this seems beneficial for both parties. Cafes get their specialty products, and farmers facing dismal conditions sell their beans for what seems like a pretty penny. But the latter isn’t necessarily true. With bigger companies entering the fray, the division of money can get staggered, leaving farmers with fractions of what their crop is worth. For farmers growing what’s deemed as a differentiated or specialized crop, money will be consistent. For farmers growing a common bean, it’s trickier. Despite the coffee industry being valued at billion, growers across the globe are struggling to rally the proper funds to cover the cost of production.

As farmers struggle to maintain a profit and, in turn, make a living off their trade, the future of coffee remains volatile. This is especially problematic when you account for the conditions of most of these farmers. Residents of Sudan have been facing a deeply violent civil war, Yemeni farmers have been dealing with crippling government oppression, and farmers in the Republic of Congo stand to lose their lives while active explosives litter their farmland. The latter is hardly an isolated incident — Colombia, Burma, Ethiopia, and Vietnam all feature obscured remnants of war, literally making coffee-growing the riskiest enterprise in the country. But there is an upside.

The key qualities of operator footwear

Pour-over coffee brewing and a deeper understanding of each roast’s origin is a hallmark of the third-wave coffee movement.

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.)

The third wave is comprised of a hyper-aware generation of consumers that take pride in knowing how their coffee is processed and where their coffee is coming from. As such, the global approach to sourcing coffee has offered cafe patrons an easy way to engage with the origin of their beans. This usually splits the consumers into two groups: those who consider buying conflict coffee a great atrocity, and those who see their purchase as a positive impact on an ailing community. Neither are right. This hyper-awareness of farming conditions is slowly growing into what will become the fourth wave of coffee.

The fourth wave builds upon the principles of its predecessor — they share their affinity for manually processed coffee as well as quality beans and roasts. The major difference remains the issue of sustainability. Consumers swimming in this wave not only pride themselves on the awareness of the conditions of farmers but also the climate impact of sourcing particular roasts. While it doesn’t solve the moral complication of buying from the conflict community, it puts farmers’ narratives front and center, allowing consumers to make educated purchases.

As consumers of the market, it’s easy to look past the method that brings us these goods. The onus is on both the company and the consumer to be responsible and make responsible decisions for how we source our coffee.

Trojan Footprint: Embedded with Special Forces in Europe

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

30 years later, the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra makes its final flight

In October, after 34 years of service and more than 930,000 flight hours, the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter made its final flight. Maj. Patrick Richardson, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, flew the last flight out of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans.

In a video released by Bell Helicopter, Maj. Richardson said that the final flight is very important to aviators as a way to honor the aircraft. He counted it as an honor to be able to fly the last flight. 

The dual-blade helicopter was received in 1994. Marines flew it in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2005. The aircraft was also flown in Iraq, Somalia, the Gulf War and with Marine expeditionary units operating on Navy ships worldwide.

This battle-hardened helicopter performed a photo-worthy display over New Orleans in tandem with its successor, the AH-1Z Viper. The last “Whiskey” sortie was performed by the Red Dogs, Detachment A of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 772. The Red Dogs are part of the Marine Corps Reserve forces based in New Orleans. 

In total, the Super Cobra’s career included 933,614 flight hours as of August 2020. Maj. Richardson called the final flight bittersweet. 

Marine Corps Colonel David Walsh said that the AH-1W Super Cobra served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of “on-time, on-target helicopter support” for the Marines. 

An evolution of aviation for the Marine Corps 

The Marine Corps first flew the Super Cobra in Vietnam in 1969. This single-engine aircraft was on loan from the Army. Then, the service introduced the two-engine AH-1J Sea Cobra in 1971. It saw combat at the end of the conflict in Vietnam and participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American diplomatic personnel from Saigon in April 1975. Just a year later, the Marine had the improved Ah-1T version, which helped add precision weapon capabilities with the BGM-71 Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) anti-tank missile.

The Whiskey model, as it’s known today, can trace its origins to the AH-1T+ demonstrator, originally developed for Iran under the Shah. The Iranians wanted an enhanced Ah-1J that could incorporate new engines and the transmission from the Bell Model 214 ST helicopter. But the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 put an end to those ambitions. The T+ variant emerged as a suitable replacement for the Army’s AH-64 Apache after Congress refused to grant funds for a Marine procurement of the A-64. 

In 1980, the AH-IT+ made its maiden flight powered by a part of 1,258-shaft-horsepower GE T700-GE-700 engines. By 1983, the helicopter was the de facto prototype for the AH-1W. Besides getting upgraded engines, the AH-1W featured bulged cheek fairings to accommodate electronics associated with TOW missiles. These cheeks were relocated from the tail boom. Enlarged exhaust suppressors helped reduce the AH-1W’s infrared signature. 

The Marines placed an order of 44 AH-1W, and the first of them were delivered in March 1986. The final aircraft was delivered in 1999, and its addition made a fleet of 179 AH-1Ws. Retirement is the official end of the AH-1W, but many of the Whiskey frames will fly on as they are remanufactured into updated AH-1Zs.

In 2000, the Turkish Army expressed interest in procuring the AH-1Z, but that order was canceled in 2004. In 2012, South Korea expressed interest in purchasing 36 of the AH-1Zs, but the country ultimately selected the comparable Boeing AH064 Apache instead. 

AH-1Z Viper

The AH-1Z Viper has now officially replaced the AH-1W. It began life as a “four-bladed Whiskey” and is now in operation together with the UH-1Y Venom. The AH-1Z has been in Marine Corps service since 2010. 

AH-1Ws will continue to serve abroad with Taiwan and Turkey. There’s still a chance that some of the Marine Corps’ fleet will be transferred to a partner ally, which might future extend its illustrious legacy.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These 4 old weapons might deliver an edge in a war with Russia

If America goes to war with Russia, it will not be like Iraq or Afghanistan. This one will likely be very hard-fought, and the odds may be against our guys sometimes.


Are there some old systems that were designed to fight the Soviet Union that might be worth considering to help the troops? You betcha, and here is a look at some of them.

1. F-111 Aardvark

 

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ex: F-111 Combat Lancer

When this plane was retired two decades ago, nobody really gave it much thought. A Daily Caller article noted that the F-111 brings speed and a very heavy bomb load to the table. The United States once had four wings of this plane.

If it were combined with either the CBU-105 or modern stand-off weapons, it could take out a lot of Russian hardware.

2. MIM-72 Chapparal

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MIM-72 Chapparal (US Army photo)

With a near-peer enemy, it might make sense to improve ground-based air defenses. The Su-25 Frogfoot, while not as good as the A-10, is still potent. It’s also tough enough that the FIM-92 Stinger might not be able to guarantee a kill.

This is where the MIM-72 Chaparral comes in. Initially, this missile was a straight-up copy of air-launched Sidewinders. Going back to its roots, using the AIM-9X, could help keep the Russian planes dodging fire instead of dropping bombs.

3. OH-58 Kiowa

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An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter from the 1st Infantry Division takes off on a mission from Forward Operation Base MacKenzie, Iraq. It is armed with an AGM-114 Hellfire and 7 Hydra 70 rockets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Cuomo)

This helicopter is slated for retirement after a final deployment to South Korea, according to a July Army Times report. While much of its scout functions have been taken over by unmanned aerial vehicles, the OH-58 can still carry up to four AGM-114 Hellfires, rockets, FIM-92 Stingers, and a .50-caliber machine gun.

When facing a formation like the First Guards Tank Army, extra missiles – and eyes – just might be a very good thing to have.

4. AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile

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General Dynamics AGM-129A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Withdrawn in 2012 according to an Air Force release, the Advanced Cruise Missile was stealthy.

While the initial version was strictly nuclear, conventional versions could trash S-400 missile batteries. 460 missiles were built, according to an Air Force fact sheet. Bringing it back, though, means re-starting production.

The Obama Administration elected to have the entire inventory scrapped.

Articles

Here is how the United States Navy gets SIGINT

Russia has a “tattletale” (spy ship) operating off the East Coast of the United States, but they’re not the only ones collecting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). Here’s how the U.S. does spying of its own.


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The Karelia, a Vishnya-class intelligence ship, sails near the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN 39). (Dept. of Defense photo)

The Viktor Leonov’s snooping has drawn headlines this year – although a similar 2015 operation didn’t draw as much hoopla. It is one of a class of seven vessels in service with the Russian Navy, and is armed with a mix of SA-N-8 missiles and AK-630 close-in weapon systems.

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USS Pueblo (AGER 2).

The United States has not operated similar vessels ever since the environmental research vessel USS Pueblo (AGER 2) was captured off the coast of North Korea in 1968 and the technical research vessel USS Liberty (AGTR 5) was attacked by Israeli forces that mistook her for an enemy vessel in 1967, during the Six-Day War.

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EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance plane. (U.S. Navy photo)

Still, the Navy needs to carry out collection missions and it does have options.

One is the use of aircraft like the EP-3E Aries II electronic intelligence aircraft. Based on the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, a Navy fact file notes that a dozen were purchased in the 1990s.

The plane was involved in a 2001 mid-air collision with a People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force J-8 Finback. The EP-3E made an emergency landing at Hainan Island and the Chinese pilot was killed.

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An antenna for the AN/SLQ-32 system on board USS Nicholson (DD 982). (U.S. Navy photo)

The Navy also uses its ships and submarines to gather signals intelligence.

According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, many of its top-of-the-line surface combatants, like the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are equipped with the AN/SLQ-32 electronic support measures system for SIGINT collection.

According to the Raytheon web site, this system also has the capability to jam enemy systems in addition to detecting and classifying enemy radars.

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Sailors aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Texas (SSN 775) moor the boat to the pier. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds)

U.S. Navy submarines also have a sophisticated SIGINT suite, the AN/BLQ-10.

According to the Federation of American Scientists website, this system is capable of detecting, processing, and analyzing radar signals and other electronic transmissions. It is standard on all Virginia-class submarines and is being backfitted onto Seawolf and Los Angeles-class ships.

In other words, every American sub and surface combatant is able to carry out signals intelligence missions.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The youngest Special Forces captain in Vietnam was a war hero

The Vietnam war gave us a lot of things: Zippos, M16s and the list goes on. Before it popped off, there hadn’t been a war like it; it was highly televised, deeply protested and involved heavy use of special operations units. From this war came tons of stories of heroism and courage in the face of extreme danger. One such story that stands out from the rest is that of U.S. Army Captain William Albracht.

Albracht graduated from Alleman Catholic High School in Illinois in 1966 and found himself in Vietnam just three years later. He wasn’t just a Green Beret captain, he was the youngest Green Beret captain in the entire country. He took command of a hilltop outpost known as Firebase Kate with a total of 27 American Soldiers and 156 Montagnard militiamen. This is where Captain Albracht earned his place in history and solidified his status as an American badass.

This is the story of the youngest Green Beret captain in Vietnam:


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Landing Zone Kate in 1969.
(Storytellers International)

Firebase Kate

Landing Zone Kate, also referred to as Firebase White, was built in 1969 on a hilltop northwest of Quang Dug Province in Southern Vietnam. It was near the Cambodian border. It was also the first command for Captain Albracht, who was just 21 at the time.

The young captain saw the hilltop location as problematic, primarily because the North Vietnamese Army controlled the nearby road and could freely fire from Cambodia. To make matters worse, supplying the base was also a very tricky.

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Army Special Forces and Rangers in Vietnam. (U.S. Army)

Supplies & discipline

Since the NVA controlled the road, supplies and personnel for LZ Kate could only be delivered via helicopter. Despite each delivery being protected by a wide range of aircraft, Captain Albracht felt it wasn’t enough support for their location.

On top of that, Sergeant Daniel Pierelli arrived ahead of Captain Albracht to find the troops located there playing volleyball and lounging around instead of preparing to defend the place. He and Captain Albracht made sure to address this before increasing patrols in an effort to gain more intelligence on the NVA. Unfortunately, fate had other plans.

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Army artillerymen in Vietnam.
(Storytellers International)

Siege at LZ Kate

On the morning of October 29th, the NVA launched the first assault on the Firebase, outnumbering the defenders 40 to 1. For the next few days, the men there sustained heavy casualties from small-arms gunfire, mortars, rockets, and artillery.

The wounded included Captain Albracht, who sustained a shrapnel wound in his arm on October 29th while he directed a medevac helicopter. He was given the opportunity to leave, but instead decided to stay at Kate and continue to lead his men.

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Members of Mike force on the left and a member of the Montagnard militia on the right.

A great escape

Supplies dwindled fast, and the situation wasn’t getting any better. Eventually, on November 1st, Captain Albracht realized Kate could not be saved and decided they needed to escape. They destroyed their gun tubes, artillery ammo, and anything that could be considered intelligence before slipping away.

He, along with around 150 men, eventually arrived at another Special Forces camp, only losing one American soldier in the jungle. In the early hours of November 2nd, they linked up with SF Mike Force, their closest allies. To do so, Captain Albracht had to cross an open field three times, putting himself at risk of being spotted by the enemy, to ensure the safety of his men.

Due to his heroics, the men safely escaped.

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Captain William Albracht in 2016.
(Photo by Kevin E. Schmidt)

Captain William Albracht

For his service and actions during the war, he earned three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, and five Bronze Stars. After the war, he continued serving his country in the Secret Service, guarding five presidents during his time. He then went on to manage security for the Ford Motor Company.

He returned home to Illinois in 2005 and, in 2012, he ran for Senator for Illinois’ 36th district. He co-wrote the book, Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate, and his story is featured in a documentary entitled Escape from Firebase Kate.

Captain Albracht is still alive today.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what it takes to change the 28 tires on the Air Force’s largest plane

How many airmen does it take to change a cargo aircraft tire? Too many, according to J.D. Bales, Air Force Research Laboratory and Junior Force Warfighter Operations team member of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.

The 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, part of the Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, who maintain the US Air Force’s largest aircraft, the C-5M Super Galaxy, contacted the JFWORX team seeking assistance to increase the safety and decrease the manpower requirements of the current tire-changing process.


Each C-5 tire wears down approximately 0.002 inches per landing on an aircraft that has 28 tires. The current tire changing method is performed several times a week. It is a complicated multistep procedure that requires up to five people working together for an extended period of time with a number of safety risks due to the size and weight of the tires and tools.

The design of the hub consists of a single large nut that holds the wheel in place. Heavy tools ensure placement of the wheel (almost 4 feet in diameter). The spanner wrench, used to tighten the nut, weighs 15 pounds and has to be held accurately in position so the nut can be tightened to the appropriate torque specification.

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The rear wheel assembly of a C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft inside a hangar at Travis Air Force Base, California, March 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

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Current C-5 cargo airplane tire replacement requires up to five airmen with a multitude of tools to replace a tire, Aug. 26, 2019.

(Air Force Research Laboratory/Donna Lindner)

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The new C-5 cargo airplane tire replacement platform requires only three airmen with one tool to replace a tire, Aug. 26, 2019.

(Air Force Research Laboratory/Donna Lindner)

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The nose and main landing gear tires of a C-5M Super Galaxy hang over a parking spot at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, June 25, 2015.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Two 30-ton tripod aircraft jacks hold up the nose section of a C-5M Super Galaxy, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, June 25, 2015.

(US Air Force photo/Roland Balik)

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Airman 1st Class Vincent Gaspara, left, and Nathan Shull, center, and Tech. Sgt. Andrew Hamilton, right, all crew chiefs assigned to the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, remove a C-5M Super Galaxy main landing gear wheel and tire assembly, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Airman 1st Class Vincent Gaspara, left, and Tech. Sgt. Andrew Hamilton, right, both crew chiefs assigned to the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, install a new C-5M Super Galaxy main landing gear wheel and tire assembly at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Airman 1st Class Vincent Gaspara, left, and Nathan Shull, center, and Tech. Sgt. Andrew Hamilton, right, all crew chiefs assigned to the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, secure a C-5M Super Galaxy main landing gear wheel and tire assembly to the main landing gear bogie at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Airman 1st Class Nathan Shull, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, cleans the number four main landing gear bogie assembly of a C-5M Super Galaxy, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Tech. Sgt. Andrew Hamilton, front, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects the main landing gear brake assembly of a C-5M Super Galaxy at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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Airman 1st Class Vincent Gaspara, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, rolls a defective C-5M Super Galaxy main landing gear wheel and tire assembly, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

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A defective C-5M Super Galaxy main landing gear wheel and tire assembly prior to being taken away for maintenance April 22, 2014, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 22, 2014.

(US Air Force/Roland Balik)

The primary technical focus of JFWORX projects is the rapid development of customer-centric projects that will provide real-world solutions to existing warfighter needs.

JFWORX develops near term, innovative solutions to warfighter operational needs. Department of Defense organizations interested in working with the JFWORX team can contact the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s Corporate Communications team at AFRL.RX.CorpComm@us.af.mil to learn more.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.

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

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