US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

The USS America was a Kitty Hawk-class supercarrier first built in the 1960s and served through the Vietnam War, Cold War clashes, and on into Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1996, the Navy decided the ship’s best post-service use was as a target. America would help design the newest fleet of supercarriers to be even less vulnerable to enemy fire than she was.

The America did not go down easy. For four weeks the Navy hit the ship with everything they could muster, short of a nuclear weapon.


Even today, the wreck lies in one piece at the bottom of the ocean near Cape Hatteras. Despite the Navy’s best efforts, they just could not sink the indefatigable carrier. The last time any carrier was lost to battle damage in combat was in World War II, where 12 such ships were sent to the bottom after heavy fighting. The America didn’t engage in combat, but the attacking forces were out to hit her as if she had. The sinking of America was a test run for vulnerabilities in American aircraft carrier designs.

The good news is that China is going to have a really hard time doing it, even if they use an intercontinental ballistic missile. The bad news is that it’s somehow possible to sink these floating behemoths, and if done could kill up to 6,000 American sailors. Still, good luck getting close.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

The wake left by America following her use as a live-fire target in 2005; the ship was used as a platform to test how the hull of large aircraft carriers would hold up against underwater attacks. Following the tests, America was scuttled, serving as a further test of the sinking of a large aircraft carrier.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Carriers traverse the waves with an entourage of submarines, cruisers, and other support craft, as well as potentially dozens of fighter and electronic warfare aircraft that would make even getting close to the carrier a nearly suicidal feat. Once in close, actually hitting the ship with any kind of accuracy is just as hard – and if you do, the chances of striking a death blow are virtually nil.

For the America, teams of scientists and military engineers targeted the ship repeatedly for a full month, both above and below the waterline using anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, and almost anything else they could think to throw at the old girl and still, she persisted. It wasn’t until a team of dedicated explosives experts boarded the ship and purposefully destroyed it that it gave way and sank to the bottom.

But even the Vietcong tried that move – and the USS Card was back up and fighting in no time. So maybe it’s just best to avoid a fight with an American carrier.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why hypersonic weapons make current missile defenses useless

The Cold War gave the world intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could carry nuclear weapons, and cruise missiles that could be launched from ships and aircraft.


Now, like a lot of Cold War-era military equipment, these weapons are getting a 21st-century tune-up. But it is not the payloads that are becoming more advanced — it’s the delivery systems.

Missiles that can fly at hypersonic speeds could render global missile defenses useless and, if left unchecked, could become the next global arms race amongst the nations of the world.

Related: The US nuclear launch code during the Cold War was weaker than your granny’s AOL password

There are mainly two types of missiles being pursued in this race: hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs) and hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). Both are being pursued by a number of nations, but China, Russia, and the US are leading the way.

Two types of weapons

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
A screenshot from a video about hypersonic missile nonproliferation made by the RAND Corporation that shows the two types of hypersonic weapons under development. (TheRANDCorporation Youtube)

HCMs are essentially faster cruise missiles and HGVs are basically replacements for conventional re-entry vehicles that are put on ICBMs.

Of the two, HGVs are the easiest to make, since they only have to overcome one of the three obstacles — material science.

HGVs are put on top of ICBMs. When they reach a maximum altitude, they separate from the missile and glide on top of the atmosphere to their target — in this case, at hypersonic speeds.

Also read: Watch the Air Force launch an ICBM in mid-air from the back of a C-5

Because of their hypersonic speeds, there may not even need to be any explosives on the weapons themselves, since the kinetic energy could be strong enough to cause damage in a limited area — although nowhere near the size of a nuclear blast.

What makes both weapons so threatening is the fact that they are maneuverable, meaning they can change direction at any moment and keep their intended target secret until the last few moments before impact.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
An image from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) showing how a hypersonic glide vehicle is launched. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)

Current missiles can be intercepted because their flight paths are determined by momentum and gravity. Most, if not all, anti-ballistic missile defenses, like THAAD and Aegis Ashore, require a projectile to make physical contact for a successful intercept or be close enough so that shrapnel from a proximity explosion could damage an incoming missile.

Because HCMs and HGVs are maneuverable and fly at such high speeds, interception of such missiles is almost impossible.

Dangerous potential results of hypersonic weapons

Widespread proliferation of this technology could have results that increase the risk of conflict and destabilization, especially when these weapons are armed with nuclear payloads.

According to a report on hypersonic weapons that was published by the RAND Corporation, governments may be so concerned with maintaining first-strike capability, since the response time for these weapons is so short, that they may take be forced to take risky actions.

These include devolving the command and control of the weapons to the military instead of the national leaders, wider disbursement of the weapons across the globe, a launch-on-warning posture, and a decision to strike first.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Concept art of the WU-14, a Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle.

The RAND report shows that at least 23 countries are active in pursuing hypersonic technology for commercial or military use. Currently, the US, Russia, and China are leading the race.

The report suggests that widespread proliferation of hypersonic technology could lead to militaries around the world, particularly those that have tense relations with their neighbors, having capabilities that could be destabilizing.

The RAND Corporation suggests that this could also spur changes or amendments to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a voluntary agreement with 35 nations that aims to prevent the proliferation of missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

More: These 5 hypersonic weapons are the future of military firepower

RAND believes that the MTCR should include completed hypersonic delivery vehicles, scramjets, and other hypersonic components to the list of items that cannot be exported. At the very least, a trilateral agreement between the US, Russia, and China could be made to prevent hypersonic weapons from falling into dangerous hands.

RAND believes that hypersonic missiles will become operable on the battlefield in the next 10 years.

Obstacles preventing sustained hypersonic flight

Hypersonic technology allows cruise missiles and nuclear weapons to go as fast as Mach 5 or above — roughly 3,800 miles per hour, or 340 miles every six minutes.

Missiles and rockets have long been able to go hypersonic; space shuttles and ICBMs, for instance, both fly at hypersonic speeds, sometimes as high as Mach 20 or 24 (Mach 25 is the upper limit). However, they only do so for a short period of time.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
A Pratt Whitney SJX61-2 successfully completes ground tests simulating Mach 5 flight conditions at NASA’s Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Virginia, 2008.

Technology is now being developed that will allow sustained hypersonic flight, overcoming three different challenges: material science; aerodynamics and flight control; and propulsion.

The problem of material science is relatively straightforward. Because the missile will be flying at such high speed, materials with high melting points are needed so they can absorb heat that would be gathered over a long period of time, so as to prevent the disintegration of the missile.

“You can think of it as flying into this blow torch,” Rich Moore, a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation, said. “The faster a vehicle flies, the pressure and temperature rises exponentially.”

The problem of aerodynamics and flight control is somewhat related. In order to achieve hypersonic speeds, the body of the missile needs to be constructed so that air resistance is minimal. Furthermore, the shape of the missile must be structurally strong enough to prevent bending and flexing which would affect the flight performance.

“You’re under such high pressures, you are going so fast, that the body itself may not keep its shape all the time,” George Nacouzi, a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation, told Business Insider in an interview.

Read next: Air Force developing hypersonic weapons by 2020s

Propulsion is probably the most complex challenge after material science. Once an object reaches Mach 5, traditional jet engines cannot generate enough power to maintain the speed or go faster. “It has been compared to lighting a match in a 2,000 mile an hour wind,” said Richard Speier, a political scientist at RAND.

Trying to keep the engine going is extremely complex.

“You have potential shockwaves, the combustion has to be just at the right rate, you have to have the right mixture of fuel and oxidizer,” Nacouzi said of the difficulties.

The result of trying to overcome this problem is a scramjet, an uncluttered, air-breathing engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere as the oxidizer for combustion. Though scramjets are currently in a testing phase, they have already reached hypersonic speeds.

Dr. Nacouzi believes that out of those three problems, flight control may be the easiest to overcome.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here are the biggest tech scandals of the 2010s

As the tech and information industries boomed in the 2010s, the decade was also rocked by scandals across both industries.

Tech companies are increasingly at the center of political and social issues in the US and across the globe, and the past 10 years saw a wave of abuses of power, failed business ventures, and disastrous gadget rollouts.

Facebook, Apple, and Google — some of the most powerful tech companies in existence — were the most frequent sites of scandal. However, startups and fringe organizations saw their share of infamy over the past ten years as well. And then there were the NSA spying revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Here are the biggest tech scandals from 2010 to the present.


US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

2010: Over a dozen workers commit suicide after working under brutal conditions at a Chinese factory making iPhones, iPads, and HP computers

At least 14 workers at Foxconn factories in Shenzen, China died by suicide over the course of 2010. Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for clients including Apple, Nintendo, and HP, reportedly expected workers to put in extreme overtime shifts under dismal working conditions and with cruel management who would dock workers’ pay for minor infractions, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company reportedly installed safety nets to catch workers who jumped from upper stories and asked workers to sign a contract agreeing not to kill themselves.

Apple, HP, and other Foxconn clients said they would pressure Foxconn to improve its working conditions in the wake of the suicides. China also put new laws in place in 2012 limiting workers’ overtime hours.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Edward Snowden

2013: Edward Snowden releases confidential documents showing the NSA has secretly had access to Google and Yahoo servers

In one of the most famous whistleblower complaints in US history, former contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency had been spying on people’s Google and Yahoo accounts, retaining text, audio, and video at will without users’ knowledge.

Both Google and Yahoo expressed surprise at the findings, stating that they had not granted the government access to their servers. However, Google said in a statement that the company had “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping.” Snowden still faces charges of violating the Espionage Act — he is living in Moscow, where he has been granted asylum status.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(Photo by Julian Hochgesang)

2015: Volkswagen admits to cheating on emissions tests to make its cars seem more eco-friendly than they are

The Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen was using “defeat devices” on its cars that detected when they were being tested for emissions and delivered artificial results to make them seem more environmentally friendly. Volkswagen confirmed the allegation, saying that 11 million of its cars were fitted with defeat devices.

The German car maker agreed to pay .3 billion in fines to the US and spend more than billion to address claims from regulators and car owners. Six Volkswagen executives faced criminal charges for their alleged involvement in the scheme.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(European Commission)

2016: Apple ordered to pay €13 billion in EU back taxes after receiving tax breaks from Ireland that were ruled illegal

For more than a decade, Apple funneled its European operations through Ireland, capitalizing on massive tax breaks the small country offered it. In 2013, the European Union concluded a three-year investigation into the tax rates and ruled that those breaks were illegal, given that they only applied to Apple. The EU ordered Apple to pay the equivalent of .5 billion back to Ireland. Apple decried the decision, saying it would rethink its future European business ventures as a result.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Elizabeth Holmes, the chief executive officer and founder of Theranos.

(Public Domain)

2016: Theranos shutters its labs and faces a federal investigation over dubious claims about its blood-testing technology

One of the most notorious startup launches of the past decade, Theranos and its mercurial leader Elizabeth Holmes fell from grace after the company proved unable to fulfill its promises that it could run blood tests on a single drop of blood. Holmes is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation and faces charges of criminal fraud.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Galaxy Note 7 security bulletin.

2016: Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7s and shuts down production of the phones after several phones explode while charging

Samsung initiated a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 phones in early September 2016 after several models caught on fire, stating that it would begin shipping updated models that were safe. However, reports surfaced that multiple replacement phones were also catching on fire while charging, leading the South Korean company to halt production on the Galaxy Note 7 entirely.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(US House Intelligence Committee)

2017: Facebook says fake accounts linked to Russia bought thousands of ads during US election

Accounts that were “likely operated out of Russia” spent roughly 0,000 in Facebook ads beginning in June 2015 with the aim of influencing the 2016 presidential election, Facebook disclosed in September 2017. Before that announcement, Facebook had repeatedly insisted that it had no reason to believe that Russian actors bought ads in connection with the election. Facebook pledged that going forward it would take action to thwart attempted foreign-funded campaigns to influence US elections.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(YouTube/Joe Rogan Experience)

2017: A Google engineer circulates a manifesto criticizing the company’s attempts to increase gender and racial diversity

Google employees were outraged after James Damore, a Google engineer, circulated an anti-diversity manifesto within the company that criticized efforts to increase the number of women and minorities working there. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Gizmodo. The memo came during a time of increasing turbulence inside Google, with staffers raising concerns over company culture. Damore ultimately left the company.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(Yoichiro Akiyama/Flickr)

2018: Google faces an internal reckoning after reports surface of sexual misconduct across the company, including prominent executive Andy Rubin

Thousands of employees walked out of Google offices in late 2018 after reports surfaced of sexual misconduct by high-ranking company officials. The New York Times reported that Google protected Andy Rubin, one of the creators of Android, while women who reported sexual misconduct internally said they were treated unfairly by Google’s forced arbitration policies. Rubin reportedly received tens of millions of dollars as part of his exit package, even after the company deemed the reports of misconduct against him credible. Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged shortcomings at the time and pledged to “turn these ideas into action.”

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(Photo by Kon Karampelas)

2018: UN investigators blame Facebook for providing a platform for hate speech in connection with the Myanmar genocide of Rohingya Muslims

A UN investigator said that Facebook played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s genocide of Rohingya Muslims, stating that hate speech and plans to organize killings flourished on the platform.

“It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities,” the investigator said.

Facebook ultimately acknowledged that the platform enabled violence and apologized for not doing more to stop it.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

2018: Facebook admits that Cambridge Analytica, a controversial data-analysis firm linked to the Trump campaign, improperly obtained and mishandled millions of users’ data

Following a bombshell investigation by The Guardian, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a firm who improperly obtained and used the data of millions of users to serve pro-Trump ads in advance of the 2016 election. The Trump campaign reportedly paid Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars for its services, which violated Facebook’s advertising partner terms but happened under the social media giant’s watch.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(Photo by Paweł Czerwiński)

2018: Following widespread protests from its employees, Google agrees not to renew a secretive contract to help the Pentagon build AI for drones

Google quietly established a partnership with the Pentagon on a fast-moving project to develop AI software for analyzing and assisting in drone strikes — a move that many at the company didn’t know about, and that drew widespread protests after it was first reported publicly by Gizmodo. After backlash, the company agreed not to renew the Pentagon contract. However, an unnamed company that partnered with the Pentagon on the same project still used an “off-the-shelf Google Cloud platform,” the Intercept reported.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

2019: Messages show top Boeing officials knew about “egregious” problems with the 737 Max years before 2 deadly crashes

At least two years before two deadly Boeing 737 Max crashes, a top Boeing pilot was warned of “egregious” problems with the planes, messages obtained by The New York Times revealed. The crashes, which took place in October 2018 and March 2019, killed 346 people. After the second crash, all Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded, and Boeing’s handling of the incident is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(Photo by Eloise Ambursley)

2019: Concerns with WeWork’s business model and management cause a failed IPO attempt, an ousted CEO, and a tanked valuation

In one disastrous month, WeWork saw its valuation drop to billion from billion, removed Adam Neumann as CEO, and cancelled its once-hyped initial public offering after investors and media raised serious questions with the company’s financials and Neumann’s eccentric managerial style. The WeWork saga is still unfolding, but the company is expected to lay off up to a quarter of its current staff in the coming months as it aims to stabilize a path to profitability.

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

Articles

These are the Coast Guard’s special operations forces

After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, it was pretty clear everybody in the government had to get into the anti-terrorism game.


From the formation of the Department of Homeland Security out of a host of separate law enforcement and police agencies, to a more robust role for Joint Special Operations Command in the hunt for terrorist leaders, the American government mobilized to make sure another al Qaeda attack would never happen again on U.S. soil.

For years, the Coast Guard had occupied a quasi-military role in the U.S. government, particularly after the “war on drugs” morphed its domestic law enforcement job into a much more expeditionary, anti-drug one.

But with the World Trade Center in rubble, the Coast Guard knew it had to get into the game.

That’s why in 2007 the Deployable Operations Group was formerly established within the Coast Guard to be a sort of domestic maritime counter-and-anti-terrorism force to address threats to the homeland and abroad. As part of SOCOM, the DOG trained and equipped Coast Guardsmen to do everything from take down a terrorist-captured ship to detecting and recovering dirty nukes.

For six years, the DOG executed several missions across the globe and prepared for security duties in the U.S., including deploying for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and helping with anti-piracy missions off the African coast (think Maersk Alabama). The DOG even sent two officers to SEAL training who later became frogmen in the teams.

But in 2013, then-Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp disbanded the DOG and spread its component organizations across the Coast Guard. And though they’re not operating as part of SOCOM missions anymore, the Coast Guard commandos are still on the job with a mandate to conduct “Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security” missions in the maritime domain.

“The PWCS mission entails the protection of the U.S. Maritime Domain and the U.S. Marine Transportation System and those who live, work or recreate near them; the prevention and disruption of terrorist attacks, sabotage, espionage, or subversive acts; and response to and recovery from those that do occur,” the Coast Guard says. “Conducting PWCS deters terrorists from using or exploiting the MTS as a means for attacks on U.S. territory, population centers, vessels, critical infrastructure, and key resources.”

The primary units that make up the Coast Guard’s commandos include:

1. Port Security Units

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Boat crews from Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313in Everett, Wash., conduct high-speed boat maneuvers and safety zone drills during an exercise at Naval Station Everett July 22, 2015. The exercise was held in an effort to fine tune their capabilities in constructing and running entry control points, establishing perimeter security, and maintaining waterside security and safety zones. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford)

These Coast Guard teams patrol in small boats to make sure no funny stuff is going on where marine vessels are parked. The PSU teams work to secure areas around major events on the coast or bordering waterways, including United Nations meetings in New York and high-profile meetings and visits by foreign dignitaries in cities like Miami.

2. Tactical Law Enforcement Teams

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Tactical Law Enforcement Team South members participate in a Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response class at the Miami Police Department Training Center, July 20, 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson).

These Coast Guard teams are an extension and formalization of the service’s counter drug operations. The TACLETs also execute the same kinds of missions as SWAT teams, responding to active shooter situations and arresting suspects. These teams also participated in counter-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and in the Suez Canal.

3. Maritime Safety Security Teams

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) 91114 patrols the coastline of Guantanamo Bay, Jan. 14. MSST 91114 provides maritime anti-terrorism and force protection for Joint Task Force Guantanamo. (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elisha Dawkins)

When the security situation goes up a notch — beyond a couple minimally-armed pirates or a deranged shooter — that’s when they call the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety Security Teams. Think of these guys as the FBI Hostage Rescue or LA SWAT team of the Coast Guard. They can take down a better armed ship full of pirates, can guard sensitive installations like the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison or keep looters in check after Hurricane Sandy.

4. Maritime Security Response Team

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Tosca and her Maritime Security Response Team canine officer sweep the deck of Mississippi Canyon Block 582, Medusa Platform during a joint exercise May 21, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Robert Nash)

The Maritime Security Response Teams are about as close to Navy SEALs as the Coast Guard gets (and many of them are trained by SEAL instructors). The MSRT includes snipers, dog handlers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians who are so highly trained they can detect and dispose of a chemical, biological or radiological weapon.

MSRT Coast Guardsmen are the counter-terrorism force within the service (as opposed to an “anti-terrorism” which is primarily defensive in nature), with missions to take down terrorist-infested ships, hit bad guys from helicopters and assault objectives like Rangers or SEALs. The force is also trained to recover high-value terrorists or free captured innocents.

“It’s important to know that the MSRT is scalable in the size of their response to an event or mission,” said a top Maritime Security Response Team commander. “Depending on the scope of the mission or the event, will determine how many team members are needed to deploy and their areas of expertise, in order to effectively complete the mission.”

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Air Force just changed enlisted performance reports

The Air Force recently updated evaluation policies for enlisted airmen, refining the process and requirements for enlisted performance reports.

The revised policies are in response to feedback from the field and are geared towards increasing flexibility for commanders and empowering performance within the enlisted corps.

“We are continuously making strides to reform our talent management system, including evaluating updates we previously made to the Enlisted Evaluation System,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services. “Our focus is on making our system more agile, more responsive, simpler and more transparent to better meet the needs of our airmen and our Air Force.”


The updated policies will impact almost every active duty enlisted airman as well as those in the Guard and Reserve.

One of the more significant updates covers a long and widely debated subject. Under the new policy senior noncommissioned officers who complete an associate’s degree or “higher level degree from a nationally or regionally accredited academic institution” are eligible for promotion and senior rater stratification or endorsement consideration.

Prior to this update, only degrees obtained from the Community College of the Air Force could be considered for senior rater stratification and endorsement. Airmen should ensure completed degrees are updated in their personnel records in the Military Personnel Data System.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

Another update focuses on equitability and streamlines the stratification process by removing ineligible airmen from the senior rater stratification pool. The previous policy allowed airmen with an approved high year of tenure, or HYT, retirement date to be factored into the senior rater’s endorsement allocations. For airmen reaching HYT, performance evaluations are also now considered optional.

An additional update authorizes the senior enlisted leader, previously only an advisor, to be a voting member of the Enlisted Forced Distribution Panel. In addition, the policy affords large units the ability to use the Enlisted Force Distribution Panel process. If a designated large unit chooses not to do so, the unit commander must publish and disseminate alternate procedures no later than the accounting date for each evaluation cycle to ensure transparency.

In yet another update, commanders now have authority to designate any number of non-rated days if they determine an airman “faced personal hardships during the reporting period.” The option provides commanders the agility to reflect periods of extenuating circumstances on annual evaluations without negatively impacting the airman.

Air Force senior leaders also made recommendations regarding referral evaluations. Currently, a report is automatically referred when “met some, but not all expectations” is selected on the AF Forms 910 and 911. To allow raters the opportunity to identify and document potential areas of improvement, these ratings will no longer be considered a mandatory referral enlisted performance report. This particular policy change will take effect in conjunction with the staff sergeant static close out date on Jan. 31, 2019.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright said the change to referral evaluation requirements allows raters to provide airmen with more honest, realistic feedback of their performance while, at the same time, allowing airmen more room to improve.

“Under the previous policy, if we set 100 expectations for an airman and they met or exceeded 99 of them but fell short on one, in essence we were saying they should be removed from promotion consideration,” Wright said. “That doesn’t align with our vision of talent management. We want supervisors and command teams to have the option to make decisions that make sense for our airmen, tailored to each individual situation.”

Wright added that providing this decision space for commanders aligns with the Air Force’s effort to revitalize squadrons and empower leaders.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

popular

How this patrolman engaged 50 enemy troops with a single M60 will make you proud

On Aug. 2, 1969, David Larson was serving as a gunner’s mate on a patrol boat as it steered up the Saigon River, transporting a seven-man ambush team.


The team was a part of the Army’s LRRP — or Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. After cruising up river for a time, they set up an ambush position during the day near the riverbank.

As night fell, they silently settled into their discrete position. Little did they know, all hell was about to break loose.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
A river patrol boat similar to Larson’s as it maneuvers through the water’s narrow lanes in Vietnam.

Later that night, the spec ops team engaged four enemy troops who, unknown to them, happened to be a part of a massive force. Almost immediately after engaging, the unit began taking accurate rocket and small arms fire, which, sadly, killed half of the team outright.

Also Read: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

One of the LRRP members called to the boat for support. This caught Larson’s attention, getting him fully engaged in the firefight.

The motivated gunner’s mate leaped out of the patrol boat with his M60 in hand and blasted the weapon system on full auto — holding off a force of nearly 50 enemy combatants.

Nothing used to clear the way like an M60. (Image via Giphy)Standing in the direct line of fire, Larson provided enough covering fire for the wounded to clear from the area. When asked, “what goes through your mind during something like that?” David Larson stoically offered a hero’s response:
“At the time, it just comes to you that you need to do it to get the job done.”

For his brave actions, Larson received the coveted Navy Cross.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel’s video below to hear this heroic tale straight from Vietnam veteran David Larson himself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin threatens Europe with massive nuclear torpedo

Russian media appeared to threaten Europe and the world with an article in MK.ru, saying that a new nuclear torpedo could create towering tsunami waves and destroy vast swaths of Earth’s population.

Russia’s “Poseidon” nuclear torpedo, which leaked in 2015 before being confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018, represents a different kind of nuclear weapon.


The US and Russia have, since the end of World War II, fought to match and exceed each other in a nuclear arms race that resulted in both countries commanding fleets of nuclear bombers, submarines, and silos of intercontinental missiles all scattered across each country.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

A Minuteman-III missile in its silo in 1989.

But Russia’s Poseidon takes a different course.

“Russia will soon deploy an underwater nuclear-powered drone which will make the whole multi-billion dollar system of US missile defense useless,” MK.ru said, according to a BBC translation, making reference to the missile shield the US is building over Europe.

“An explosion of the drone’s nuclear warhead will create a wave of between 400-500 (1,300-16,00 feet) meters high, capable of washing away all living things 1,500 (932) kilometers inland,” the newspaper added.

Previously, scientists told Business Insider that Russia’s Poseidon nuke could create tsunami-sized waves, but pegged the estimate at only 100-meter-high (330 feet) waves.

While all nuclear weapons pose a tremendous threat to human life on Earth because of their outright destructive power and ability to spread harmful radiation, the Poseidon has unique world-ending qualities.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

An LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile being serviced in a silo.

(Department of Defense via Federation of American Scientists)

What makes Poseidon more horrific than regular nukes

The US designed its nuclear weapons to detonate in the air above a target, providing downward pressure. The US’ nuclear weapons today have mainly been designed to fire on and destroy Russian nuclear weapons that sit in their silos, rather than to target cities and end human life.

But detonating the bomb in an ocean not only could cause tsunami waves that would indiscriminately wreak havoc on an entire continent, but it would also increase the radioactive fallout.

Russia’s Poseidon missile is rumored to have a coating of cobalt metal, which Stephen Schwartz, an expert on nuclear history, said would “vaporize, condense, and then fall back to earth tens, hundreds, or thousands of miles from the site of the explosion.”

Potentially, the weapon would render thousands of square miles of Earth’s surface unlivable for decades.

“It’s an insane weapon in the sense that it’s probably as indiscriminate and lethal as you can make a nuclear weapon,” Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told Business Insider.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

A briefing slide of the alleged Status-6 nuclear torpedo captured from Russian television.

(BBC)

Can Russia take over the world with this weapon? No.

MK.ru quoted a professor as saying the Poseidon will make Russia a “world dictator” and that it could be used to threaten Europe.

“If Europe will behave badly, just send a mini-nuclear powered submarine there with a 200-megaton bomb on board, put it in the southern part of the North Sea, and ‘let rip’ when we need to. What will be left of Europe?” the professor asked.

While the Russian professor may have overstated the importance of the Poseidon, as Russia already has the nuclear firepower to destroy much of the world and still struggles to achieve its foreign-policy goals, the paper correctly said that the US has no countermeasures in place against the new weapon.

US missile defenses against ballistic missiles have only enough interceptors on hand to defend against a small salvo of weapons from a small nuclear power like North Korea or Iran. Also, they must be fired in ballistic trajectories.

But the US has nuclear weapons of its own that would survive Russia’s attack. Even if Russia somehow managed to make the whole continent of Europe or North America go dark, submarines on deterrence patrols would return fire and pound Russia from secret locations at the bottom of the ocean.

Russia’s media, especially MK.ru, often use hyperbole that overstates the country’s nuclear capabilities and willingness to fight.

But with the Poseidon missile, which appears custom-built to end life on Earth, Russia has shown it actually does favor spectacularly dangerous nuclear weapons as a means of trying to bully other countries.

Featured image: Flickr/James Vaughan

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army uses pearls for life-saving technology

Round, smooth and iridescent, pearls are among the world’s most exquisite jewels; now, these gems are inspiring a U.S. Army research project to improve military armor.

By mimicking the outer coating of pearls (nacre, or as it’s more commonly known, mother of pearl), researchers at University at Buffalo, funded by the Army Research Office (ARO), created a lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel and ideal for absorbing the impact of bullets and other projectiles.

ARO is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

The research findings are published in the journal ACS Applied Polymer Materials, and its earlier publication in J. Phys. Chem. Lett. (see related links below)


“The material is stiff, strong and tough,” said Dr. Shenqiang Ren, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, a member of University at Buffalo’s RENEW Institute, and the paper’s lead author. “It could be applicable to vests, helmets and other types of body armor, as well as protective armor for ships, helicopters and other vehicles.”

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Round, smooth and iridescent, pearls are among the world’s most exquisite jewels; now, these gems inspire U.S. Army researchers looking to improve military armor.

The bulk of the material is a souped-up version of polyethylene (the most common plastic) called ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, which is used to make products like artificial hips and guitar picks.

When designing the UHMWPE, the researchers studied mother of pearl, which mollusks create by arranging a form of calcium carbonate into a structure that resembles interlocking bricks. Like mother of pearl, the researchers designed the material to have an extremely tough outer shell with a more flexible inner backing that’s capable of deforming and absorbing projectiles.

“Professor Ren’s work designing UHMWPE to dramatically improve impact strength may lead to new generations of lightweight armor that provide both protection and mobility for soldiers,” said Dr. Evan Runnerstrom, program manager, materials design, ARO. “In contrast to steel or ceramic armor, UHMWPE could also be easier to cast or mold into complex shapes, providing versatile protection for soldiers, vehicles, and other Army assets.”

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

A new lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel may lead to next-generation military armor.

(University at Buffalo)

This is what’s known as soft armor, in which soft yet tightly woven materials create what is essentially a very strong net capable of stopping bullets. KEVLAR is a well-known example.

The material the research team developed also has high thermal conductivity. This ability to rapidly dissipate heat further helps it to absorb the energy of bullets and other projectiles.

The team further experimented with the UHMWPE by adding silica nanoparticles, finding that tiny bits of the chemical could enhance the material’s properties and potentially create stronger armor.

“This work demonstrates that the right materials design approaches have the potential to make big impacts for Army technologies,” Runnerstrom said.

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

Articles

6 kick ass fusions of old weapons with new technology

While the high-tech weapon systems of today are cool, there is always a sense of nostalgia for older weapons. So, what if you could get the best of both? Say, give a classic weapons system a boost from modern technology – or use a blast from the past to make a modern system much better?


Here are a few options:

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
The M50 Ontos was a marginal tank killer but was devastating against infantry. Imagine what a .50, digital targeting and a remote operation system could do? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: M50 Ontos

New Systems: Thermal imaging sights, digital fire control and laser range finder from the M1 Abrams; Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station with M2 .50-caliber machine gun

The M50 Ontos is an obscure vehicle that never really had a chance to fulfill its role as an anti-tank weapon, but it proved to be a potent weapon against infantry. Six 106mm recoilless rifles tend to make a point very well.

But the Ontos had to get close to guarantee hits. It also lacked secondary armament beyond a M1919 .30-caliber machine gun. But what if the Ontos had the fire-control system and thermal sights of the M1A2 Abrams? Now the 106mm rifles can gain more accuracy from further out.

The Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station with Ma Deuce can give the Ontos a better chance to keep an enemy RPG team from getting too close.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

Old System: M551 Sheridan

New System: M256A1 120mm Gun

The M551 Sheridan once provided a lot of firepower for the 82nd Airborne Division. The air-drop capability meant that the paratroopers were far less likely to be mere speed bumps. And the 152mm cannon could do a number on buildings and bunkers.

But let’s be honest, the gun could be less than reliable, especially when using the MGM-51 Shillelagh missile. So, why not go with the same gun used on the M1A2 Abrams tank? Not only does this gun have the ability to beat just about any tank in the world today, logistics are simpler.

That counts as a win-win.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Oshkosh Defense

Old System: M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle

New System: Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

While systems like the BGM-71 TOW and FGM-148 Javelin provide a punch, those missiles can be expensive. But the need for fire support remains.

So, why not look for something cheaper? The M40 recoilless rifle could fit that bill. The shells are cheap, pack a decent punch, but they also can limit collateral damage in ways that a missile can’t (there’s no need to worry about burning fuel).

Think that is a stretch? In his book, “Parliament of Whores,” P.J. O’Rourke recounted how an Army unit pulled recoilless rifles out of storage for Operation Just Cause.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
The A1 Skyraider was one of the most badass CAS planes in Vietnam. What about making it into an A-10 equivalent? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: A-1 Skyraider

New Systems: AGM-114 Hellfire, Joint Direct Attack Munition, Paveway Laser-Guided Bombs, M230 chain gun, Sniper ER Targeting pod — aka a crap ton of modern aerial firepower.

The Spad did much of what the A-10 does now: it loitered, carried a big bomb load, and was generally loved by ground troops.

So, what would be a more interesting fusion than to do to the Spad what was done for the A-10 – to wit, give it the ability to use precision-guided weapons?

The Spad could carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. Imagine how many targets one equipped with JDAM or Hellfire could take out in a single sortie!

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Ready the guns! Full broadside!…(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: Sail Frigate USS Constitution (IX 21)

(Relatively) New System: M116 75mm Pack Howitzer

USS Constitution (IX 21) kicked a lot of butt during her service career. But imagine what this lightweight (1,439 pounds) howitzer would do.

It’s hard to imagine which would be the bigger game-changer in a fight: The higher rate of fire that the M116 would provide, or the high-explosive shells it could shoot up to five and half miles away.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Old System: 8-inch/55 Mk 71 Gun

New System: Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer

Let’s face it. The later versions of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers could use a little more anti-surface punch. The answer may lie in bringing back the Mk 71, an eight-inch gun capable of firing up to 12 rounds a minute. This could also help alleviate the shortfalls in fire support with the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships and the truncation of Zumwalt production from 32 vessels to three. Eight-inch rounds abound, and the precision guidance used on Excalibur, Copperhead, and Vulcano could be adapted to this gun as well.

Old System: W48 155mm nuclear projectile

New System: Excalibur, Copperhead and Vulcano precision guidance systems

With a yield of .072 kilotons (that is 72 tons of TNT), the W48 was intended for use against tactical targets from a 155mm howitzer. But artillery rounds can miss (no, it’s not about hitting the ground). But suppose you merged the W48 with the Excalibur, creating a W48 Mod 2? Now, that 128-pound package puts that .072-kiloton warhead within ten feet of the aiming point. Excalibur is not the only option: The laser-guided Copperhead and OTO Melara’s Vulcano packages would make the W48 a very potent weapon.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happens if you try to touch the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The United States government was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. That being said, if the U.S. could select a single holy site and have everyone in America agree that it was not to be trifled with, the frontrunner would be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — the monument to those who fought and died for the U.S. but remain unidentified.


Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the tomb sentinels of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard. And these guys do not mess around. When it comes to discipline, The Old Guard have such firm bearing that they can get stabbed in the foot with a bayonet and keep standing guard.

Related: Watch this guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns get stabbed and carry on

They will guard the tomb during hurricanes. They will stay at their post during epic snowstorms. There is nothing they won’t do to maintain a watchful eye on what might be America’s holiest of holies.

So, it should come as no surprise that when tourists are around the tomb, these sentinels don’t tolerate anything short of solemnity and adherence to the rules that govern such hallowed ground. In the past, numerous videos have shown how the Old Guard responds to those who try to get a closer look at the tomb by crossing barrier obviously in place to keep onlookers away.

Now: Watch this Sentinel destroy a trespasser at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

And that’s just what they do when you try to cross the barrier for a photo (to fast-forward, the sentinel admonishes a woman for crossing the line at 1:00 into the video). Imagine what happens if someone suddenly tries to reach out and touch the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier itself.

Aside from getting manhandled (and probably tazed) by the Arlington Police, the Tomb Sentinels are carrying fully functional weapons. Whether they’re loaded weapons or if the sentinels have ammunition remains unknown (many sources say they don’t), but that’s not a reason to go testing the theory. What is known, however, is the sentinels will move much faster than we’re used to seeing them in order to stop you.

Quora user Chris Leonard, who used to be a part of the Old Guard, reminds us that maintenance work is done on the aging tomb all the time, but workers are expected to show the same reverence in touching the tomb for repairs that the sentinels themselves would observe — and the sentinels are watching them every second they’re at work.

Leonard recalled a moment where a maintainer touched the tomb in a manner inconsistent with the respect called for by the monument — he was leaning on it. The sentinel yelled at the man to stop as he quickly approached. The sentinel then “cross checked” the maintenance worker.

The maintenance worker later apologized to the sentinels.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military spouses demand an end to the ‘Widow’s Tax’

Imagine the worst happens. The person you have loved, your service member spouse, dies. Maybe you have been married for ten years. Or maybe you have been married for fifty years. But you navigated the craziness of military life together only to be told you need to forfeit your Survivor Benefit Plan, the money meant to help you survive this time. This was a part of your deceased service member’s well-planned safety net for you, and the government has yanked it away at your most fragile moment.

It’s called the Widow’s Tax. But it’s not a tax.


Learn more about it here. The date on the article: 2016. But you’ll find articles and editorials on this topic for many years. No one has solved the problem beyond slapping band-aids on it.

No one is getting rich off of the government here. We’re talking widows and widowers whose lives could be greatly impacted by losing the up-to-$15,000 a year in payments they should be (but aren’t) receiving. And the widows and widowers behind trying to correct this error, they are only asking that we change it from now forward. They are not asking to get the hundreds of thousands of dollars back that some of them are owed. You read right: widows and widowers fighting for money that is owed to them.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
These are the families who are impacted by the Widow’s Tax.

Why hasn’t this problem been solved?

There are about 64,000 surviving spouses who are impacted by the Widow’s Tax. It’s a relatively small group, and that makes solving the offset harder because it can be easily dismissed.

These military spouses didn’t come from a generation of hashtags. They didn’t have the Internet to organize as a group for some time. They were in a Widow’s Fog when it came to sign papers. And, when they learned about this offset, they probably thought it would be quickly remedied because: why would anyone think two programs that are entirely not related would require forfeiting monies for an annuity they paid into for years? It certainly wasn’t mentioned when their spouse paid into it.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
These are the families who are impacted by the Widow’s Tax.

No. They were not told.

According to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), a strong supporter of repealing the SBP-DIC offset: No other federal surviving spouse is required to forfeit his or her federal annuity because military service caused his or her sponsor’s death. Additionally, the offset does not apply to surviving military children. Only to the spouse.

Oddly, it also does not apply to widows or widowers who remarry on or after the age of 57.

In fact, the whole situation is odd and why it hasn’t been fixed, that’s the oddest part of all.

These military spouses have been waiting long enough. Now we must all get behind them. #repealwidowstax

This is the call to action!

Call Senators and ask them to cosponsor SA2411 an amendment to the Defense Budget Bill for 2019 with language identical to S.339. This amendment has the same language as S.339. This would eliminate the Widow’s Tax, which is the only insurance one purchases and then is legally prohibited from collecting. This impacts all active duty line of duty deaths and disabled military retirees who purchased SBP, whose SBP is reduced dollar for dollar by DIC, indemnity compensation paid by the VA as a small reparation and to indemnify or hold harmless the government for causing the death.

Here’s how to contact your Senator.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Humor

The 6 most OFP jobs in the military

For the uninitiated, OFP is a military initialism that means, “own f*cking program.” The term is commonly used by one service member in reference to another that seems to be immune from formations, uniform inspections, working parties, and the general tomf*ckery that goes along with being a part of the world’s most elite fighting forces.


This is not to say these individuals do not work hard or are not important to the fight. In fact, in most situations, the reason they are OFP is because of the vital tasks they perform — sometimes at odd hours.

Let’s explore the duties and responsibilities of the individuals the military allows to be on their own f*cking program.

Related: The origin of the ‘best’ rank in the Marines (Lance Corporal)

6. Military Working Dog Handler – all services

Military Working Dog handlers are responsible for the care and training of his or her service dog, which contributes to combat operations abroad and installation security at home by providing targeted odor detection (explosive/drug).

Service dogs, generally seen as a non-lethal option for neutralizing a threat, also serve as a psychological deterrent during law enforcement operations.

In other words, these badasses are expected to play with their dogs — it’s their job and no one can tell them not to.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

5. Ammunition Technicians – all services (various titles)

Ammo techs do everything that needs to be done regarding ammunition, including receipt, storage, issue, and handling of ammunition and toxic chemicals.

They often spend hours driving around to various ranges ensuring compliance with standards regarding ammo. They often have their own office and a parking spot at the S-shops — all as an E-4.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

4. Enlisted Aide for Generals/Admirals – all services

Speaking of OFP, enlisted aides are responsible for… well, I’ll let the official enlisted aide guidebook do the talking:

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean

The good news is your only boss is a general and he/she is usually very busy.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Serving more than the country. (Photo by Tony Lopez)

3. CBRN Defense Specialist – all services (various titles)

These are the sadists adorned in gas masks and HAZMAT suits, making their military brothers and sisters cry with CS gas (commonly called “tear gas” by Eagles fans).

They are tasked with monitoring, detecting, training for, and advising anything that has to do with Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear threats.

CBRN personnel are often ridiculed for their abundant “spare time.”

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Yes, YES! It’s perfect! (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brendan King)

2. Religious Program Specialist/Chaplain Assistant (“Chap-Ass”) – all services except the Marines

These motivators are tasked with supporting chaplains in any area that does not require ordination or pastoral counseling.

The title explains most of the job, however, these guys have one boss and he or she is generally the most understanding, kind, and generally happy person in uniform.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
Let us pray. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Specialist Sabrina Fine)

Also Read: 7 things you didn’t know about the Marine Jungle Warfare Training Center

1. Marine Corps Infantry Weapons Specialist – aka “GUNNER”

A “Marine Gunner” is qualified to train Marines on the proper employment of all weapons systems organic to the infantry.  That includes, but is not limited to, pistols, rifles, machine-guns, rockets, mortars, missiles, explosives, and their associated accessories.

To qualify for selection as a “Marine Gunner,” you must be a Gunnery Sergeant with 16 years active duty in the infantry and have served as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant. Upon selection, Marines are promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2, but a “Marine Gunner” is always referred to as “Gunner,” never CWO.

There are about 102 Gunners total in the Corps.

After a tour with an infantry battalion, they move on to billets as regimental and divisional Gunners, range OICs, and various other positions where Gunners continue to teach infantry skills to Marines.

And nobody… nobody, tells a Gunner to do sh*t.

US aircraft carriers are almost unsinkable giants of the ocean
The Legendary Gunner Wade. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alan Adison)

MIGHTY GAMING

Yes, the mini-nuke launcher was a thing and yes, it was a terrible idea

In the game series Fallout, one of the weapons most coveted by players is a portable mini-nuke launcher that, as you might imagine, is capable of destroying basically anything it touches. It fits perfectly within the game’s theme of roaming across the apocalyptic wasteland, dispensing wanton destruction.

Bethesda, the developers behind Fallout, weren’t just pulling something out of thin air when they designed the digital weapon. In the late 1950s, when the threat of nuclear war with the Soviets was lurking around the corner, the U.S. actually created a functioning mini-nuke launcher of their very own.

It was called the M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System. And the reason it never really made it out of initial testing was because it was probably the most poorly designed weapon system the U.S. military ever thought would work.


The Davy Crockett was a recoilless, smooth-bore gun, operated by a three-man crew, that fired a nuclear projectile. In theory, this weapon gave a small squad the ability to decimate enemy battalions with an equivalent yield of 20 tons of TNT — or roughly the same firepower as forty Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The maximum effective range of the Davy Crockett was about a mile and a half. Anything within a quarter-mile radius of the explosion would receive a fatal dosage of radiation. Anything within 500 feet of the epicenter of the blast would be completely incinerated.

It was so portable that it could either be attached to the back of a Jeep or given to paratroopers for airborne insertion. The weapon technically worked, but not without a bevy of significant problems.

The first major flaw was the aiming. The launcher was flimsy when compared to the immense weight of munitions, so it was prone to toppling over at any moment. It had an unreliable height-of-burst dial, so accurate detonations were nearly impossible. It also didn’t have an abort function, which meant that as soon as it was fired, it’d have to detonate.

To make matters worse, the previously stated half-mile kill radius was only accounted to instant death by radiation. As we’ve learned, being downwind of a nuclear blast almost certainly meant death — maybe not right away, but eventually. So, the three-man crew firing the Davy Crockett, who had at most one mile of safety, could only fire and pray that the winds didn’t turn against them.

For more information on why mini-nukes were an awful idea, check out the video below: