This is why America needs to rethink how it 'owns the night' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

Warfighting is not a 9-to-5 job. War is waged at all hours of the day. While getting into a firefight in broad daylight means you won’t need to sling NVGs over your face to see clearly, it’s arguably more convenient to raid compounds when the enemy has their pants down — figuratively and, occasionally, literally. The two tools that make night raids possible are night vision goggles and the PEQ-15, which is basically a rifle-mounted IR laser-pointer that can be seen through NVGs.


Until recently, America and its allies have been unrivaled in nighttime operations. Now, the Taliban Red Group has been spotted using stolen and black-market NVGs while they overrun checkpoints and police bases. Retired Army Col. Steven Bucci of the Heritage Foundation told Military Times that this was, in his view, “kind of inevitable.”

 

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
The Taliban Red Group finally learned how to use eBay. (Photo by Al-Emara)

“When we do these kinds of missions, we basically try and buy [local forces] the same kind of equipment they already have,” Bucci said. “But, you know, we are trying to upgrade these folks and give them an advantage, so we do introduce them to things like night vision devices and maybe longer range optics for weapons, and you run the risk that they’re going to fall into enemy hands.”

Keep in mind, NVGs and weapon-mounted IR lasers are still hard to come by for the Taliban Red Group and even more so for the average terrorist. And the gear that they do acquire is typically far below our “lowest bidder” quality.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Your goggles may be a PoS at times, but they’re leagues better than the ones used by terrorists. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Evenson)

But this does throw a wrench in the well-oiled system that America and its allies have grown accustomed to fighting within. Just knowing that even one terrorist might be able to see what our warfighters see means a huge change of strategy is coming. NATO’s reliance on IR markings for everything from helicopter landing sites to troop positions will need to be adapted.

The easy solution here is for troops to maintain light discipline for IR, just as they do with every other light used during night operations. Though the darkness of night may no longer be an impenetrable concealer, we maintain the technological edge over those getting their first glimpse behind the curtain.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This 40-year-old carrier will be a lethal weapon for years to come

If there’s one ship that is iconic of the United States Navy’s dominance of the ocean, it is the Nimitz-class supercarrier. These vessels, the first of which entered service in 1975, are yuge (to use the parlance of the present commander-in-chief). They’re also quite fast and have plenty of endurance, thanks to the use of nuclear reactors.

Their primary weapon isn’t a gun or a missile — it’s up to 90 aircraft. When the Nimitz first set sail, the F-14 Tomcat was the top-of-the-line fighter. Today, a mix of F/A-18C Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets are carried on board, and many Nimitz-class ships will operate F-35 Lightnings in the years to come.


The Nimitz-class carriers just missed the Vietnam War. Its participation in the failed 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran was the class’s baptism by fire. The Nimitz also starred in the 1980 action-adventure film, The Final Countdown, in which it was sent back in time to just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the first of ten ships of its class,

(US Navy)

In 1981, the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) took part in freedom of navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra. During these exercises, Libya got a little bold and sent two Su-22 Fitters out to sea to pick a fight with two Tomcats and lost. Throughout the Cold War, Nimitz-class ships helped hold the line against all potential threats.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

A F/A-18 Hornet is launched from the carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75).

(US Navy)

In 1990, the Eisenhower was one of two carriers that responded to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. While the Eisenhower did not launch combat missions, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) did. The Nimitz-class remained in production even as the post-Cold War saw America’s carrier force shrink from 15 to 11. The Eisenhower was also used to help move an Army brigade for a potential invasion of Haiti in 1994.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

Not only does the United States have more aircraft carriers than any other country, they have the most powerful, dwarfing vessels like HMS Illustrious.

(US Navy)

Since then, Nimitz-class carriers have taken part in operations over Iraq, the Balkans, and as part of the Global War on Terror. The United States built ten of these ships. These seafaring behemoths displace over 100,000 tons, have a top speed of over 30 knots, and have a crew and air wing that totals over 5,800 personnel.

Learn more about one of these massive vessels that serve as both a crucial component and symbol of American naval power in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZDCb5Zloj4

www.youtube.com

Note: Contrary to the video title, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is the seventh carrier of the Nimitz class.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

Flight equipment is on its way through a major overhaul. The biggest change coming to the equipment is it is being designed with measurements from female aviators.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, held a Female Fitment Event, June 4, 2019, where Air Force and Navy female aviators gathered to have their measurements taken, which will be used to design new prototypes for female flight equipment.

“We wanted to bring together a large enough group of women to get our different sizing both in our uniforms, helmets and masks,” said Lt. Col. Shelly Mendieta, plans and requirements officer. “When you go to a squadron to go to a fitment event, there’s usually only a couple of women, so to get a full spectrum of what is going to work for women aviators, we needed to bring them all together in one place.”


In the past, flight equipment has been designed to the measurements of males because there are statistically more male aviators. This means more male measurements were used as opposed to their female counterparts. Department of Defense leadership hopes to change that.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

A female aviator has her measurements taken while in a flight suit during a Female Fitment Event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 4, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock)

“The chief of staff of the United States Air Force is committed to seeing us make progress and better integrate humans into the machine environment mix,” said Brig. Gen. Edward Vaughan, Air Force directorate of readiness and training, assistant to the director. “What has happened over the years is that a lot of our data and information we use to design these systems have traditionally been based on men.”

Female aviators using flight equipment designed to the specifications of males presents a problem for their combat effectiveness. When it comes to the mission, the tools airmen use play a big role in mission success.

Vaughan explained that if flight equipment, from harness straps to flight suits, does not meet the needs of the human, as well as of the various machines used for our missions, then service members are not going to be as effective and ready for combat.

The information gathered from the event is going to be crucial in the development of not only female flight equipment, but female aviators as a whole across multiple branches.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

A group of Air Force and Navy female aviators discuss some of the improvements they want to see made to their flight equipment during a Female Fitment Event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 4, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock)

“The goal is to ensure that the equipment that we are developing is going to fit properly, so that we have a safe and ready force,” Mendieta said. “By measuring a spectrum of women at different stages in their career, we can ensure that we have better equipment.”

Many officers participating in this event are hoping to be able to disseminate information to other bases regarding female flight equipment.

“When I look across the enterprise, this is an historic event and it’s important that we get this word out,” Vaughan said. “It’s not just the data that we are collecting and the fact that we are going to improve the equipment we use in combat, it’s also important to make people aware that this is one of the challenges that we are facing right now. It’s an airmen challenge.”

For many female aviators, this marks a monumental push to ensure they are combat ready and their opinions are being heard.

“Women have been flying in the Air Force for a very long time,” Mendieta said. “We have made progress but this is the first time in my 20-year career that we have had the kind of momentum that we have to get this right. We have the opportunity to get this right and we have to grab that and take it for all it’s worth.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Meet the Bearcat, the tough vehicle that rescued hostages in Orlando

The Lenco BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) is one of the most versatile armored vehicles on the market. It’s size, armor, and various configurations make it perfect for hostile urban environments.


Related: Meet the ‘Ripsaw,’ one extreme badass tank

Case in point is the BearCat’s use to rescue victims from the ISIS-inspired terror attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. — the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil. The vehicle was used as a battering ram to breach the side of the building to rescue patrons hiding in the bathroom, according to USA Today.

While its use during the Ferguson unrest was considered heavy-handed by many observers, the vehicle’s use in Orlando saved lives, rekindling the debate about whether or not police enforcement should have military grade gear in its arsenal.

Despite the excessive force debate, there’s no question about the BearCat’s effectiveness. It’s designed to withstand small arms, explosives, and IEDs. It’s primarily used to transport people to and from hostile situations and assist with the recovery and protection of victims during terrorist attacks, hostage situations, and riots.

The battering ram attachment is ideal for breaching walls.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
thelakewoodscoop, YouTube

But it could also be used to smoke out the bad guys from a building.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Nemi Jones, YouTube

It can transport and protect up to ten people in the rear passenger bay.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Nemi Jones, YouTube

It provides excellent fire cover.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Nemi Jones, YouTube

In 2012, Jay Leno visited the LAPD S.W.A.T. office to film an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage” featuring the Lenco BearCat. During the episode, Leno takes viewers inside and out of the revolving turret, under the hood, and a test ride.

Check it out:

Jay Leno’s Garage, YouTube
MIGHTY TACTICAL

A Green Beret’s thoughts on the Great Debate: 5.56mm vs. 6.8mm SPC

The Department of Defense is conducting trials for a new general-purpose 6.8mm round, something that I think is long overdue. Anytime a new caliber comes up, we see much gnashing of teeth from two separate camps. On the one side is the “good enough for grandpappy at Khe San” crew, who will deride the waste of tax money and preach shot placement.


And on the other will be the “I knew 5.56 was an underpowered poodle shooter round, we should all have 300 Winchester Magnum carbines.” Often accompanied by stories of shooting a bad guy 50 times, but he still ran off with the guidon. But just for a moment, let’s get our underwear out of a bunch, and take a critical look at 5.56 as a caliber.

The first thing we need to understand is how we got here. Most people already know the story of how the M-16, and its new 5.56 bullet, were first adopted by the Air Force for security forces at airfields. Painful as it is to admit, the Air Force is often smarter than the rest of us. The Army and Marine Corps were having none of it, sticking to the traditional obsession with a .30 caliber bullet. The M1 Garand, chambered in 30.06, won WW2.

New technology in the 1950’s allowed the development of .308 Winchester (aka 7.62×51), which in layman’s terms is ballistically identical to 30.06, in a shorter case. Add to that the idea of a detachable magazine, and you get the M-14.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

The resemblance of an M-14 to an M1 Garand isn’t coincidental. John Garand designed the M1, and actually started working on its perceived shortcomings in 1944. Eventually, the M-14 would emerge, which is essentially a .308 caliber, magazine-fed, M1 Garand.

It was everything the Army and Marine Corps ever wanted, while notably, allies such as NATO did not. (The British were pushing hard for a .280, which we will address further in a bit.) In 1957 it was announced the M-14 would replace the M1. And this is what set the stage for the great 7.62 vs. 5.56 showdown.

5.56 Strengths

Though it is not the iconic weapon of the war, the M-14 was the standard service rifle when Vietnam started. The Air Force was fielding the M-16 in 1962, but everyone else had some good old wood and steel. But the jungle is an entirely different environment. Special Forces, with those abnormal acquisition channels and mustaches, saw the M-16 as solving multiple problems and became early adopters.

The M-16, fully loaded, was two pounds lighter than a loaded M14. Per hundred rounds, 5.56 also weighs around half as much as .308. This matters for a couple of reasons. First, in Special Forces terms, it made sense for our allies. One of the principle jobs of Special Forces in Vietnam was training and fighting with South Vietnamese and Montagnard soldiers. Both of whom, on average, are far smaller in stature than the average American. The Montagnard’s, in particular, would be nicknamed “the little people.” The M-16 was much easier for them to handle, and became very popular with these brothers in arms.

Second, the same weight per bullet made sense for everyone. While Vietnam has a wide variety of geography, a lot of it is jungle. Fighting in dense jungle vegetation presents unique problems. While I am much too young to have been in Vietnam, I have spent some time in other jungles. And I distinctly remember how claustrophobic it feels when you are new to it. You often can’t see ten feet in front of you, which may be the case when a firefight breaks out. Jungle foliage is also notoriously thin, which means bullets zip right through it.

A lot of people are shocked to find out US troops fired around 50,000 bullets per enemy killed during Vietnam. That, in my opinion, is not a reflection on “poor marksmanship” of U.S. forces at the time. Far from it. But it is likely a reflection of how the terrain influences how you fight.

Imagine, for a moment, you are in the middle of a patrol in that same jungle. (Some of you reading this may actually have been. Give us young bucks a minute to catch up.)

You know where your guys are, because you know the direction of march. You can likely see the man in front of you, and the one behind, but that is all. All of a sudden, automatic weapons fire is shredding the jungle around you. Leaves and vines are falling like rain, dirt is kicking up all around you, and you spot the tell-tale muzzle flash of an AK-47 through the veil of green. It isn’t steady, but it gives you a vague idea of where the enemy is.

Are you going to carefully line up your irons sights, and wait for a distinct helmet (actually camouflaged perfectly with foliage, and quite possibly dug in) to appear while you slowly squeeze the trigger like you learned on the range? Or are you going to dump a magazine and hope for the best? Me too. I’ve been in a couple of gunfights where I am absolutely positive I shot at nothing, and I don’t regret it a bit.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

So while early M-16’s had some teething problems with reliability, Vietnam showed the value of having lots of lightweight bullets. The lethality out of a 20-inch barrel was fantastic, and 5.56 would gain popularity around the world as a military caliber.

5.56 Weaknesses

While some diehards would still never accept 5.56 because it isn’t .30 caliber, it did do pretty well in the original design. But when we started chopping the barrel down to 14.5 inches for the M-4, and 10.5 inches for some Special Operations variants, we started running into trouble.

As far back as the Battle of Mogadishu, if you look carefully enough, you can find reports of 5.56 being unreliable in lethality terms from the short barrels. (SFC Randy Shughart, one of the men posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from that battle, was notably carrying an M-14.)

5.56 does most of its damage through spalling, kind of a happy accident of design. Above a certain velocity threshold, the bullet positively comes apart in tissue. Even the much maligned “green tip” M855 steel penetrator round shatters into three pieces. This is well known, and backed up by research from giants such as Dr. Martin Fackler, founder and head of the Wound Ballistics Laboratory. But, velocity threshold is the key point here. And 5.56 sheds velocity at every inch of barrel below 20.

Now, as a GWOT era soldier, don’t think I am completely negating the 5.56 round. In the last 20 years, ballistics have done a lot for improving the round. While it isn’t ideal out of something like a 10-inch barrel, it is still much improved over even the bullets used Oct 3, 1993. Since 9/11, it has put a lot of bad guys in the ground.

And even among troops that have options about what to carry, the debate still rages of 5.56 vs. 7.62. I’ve used both, and both have merits. But so do a monster truck and Prius. My point isn’t that one is better, or both aren’t good in certain roles. My point is that both are old, and maybe it is time to evolve.

6.8 as a caliber was first tried at the beginning of the GWOT. A special project between the Army and commercial manufactures yielded the 6.8 SPC round back in 2002. It wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but did catch on with the civilian market. Remember the British .280 caliber bullet from way back at the top of this article? 6.8 SPC is remarkably similar.
This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

While we don’t know exactly the new bullet parameters the DOD has specified, we do know it has to be 6.8mm. And therefore, 6.8 SPC at least gives us a starting point for understanding. How would, in a hypothetical shoot off, commercial 6.8 SPC fair against 7.62×51 and 5.56×45?

Overall, it would seem to be a pretty good compromise. With barrel, bolt, and magazine changes, it fits in the standard M-4. While it does get crushed at long range compared to 7.62×51, it is also significantly lighter. While it does weigh slightly more than 5.56, it delivers more energy on target at 100-300 meters, and leaves a bigger hole, if we are counting on that.

While on paper, a specialized 5.56 round like Mk262 77 grain will outperform it at longer ranges, that 77 grain bullet is still behind in terms of energy. From shorter barrels designed for CQB, 6.8 SPC will absolutely stomp on 5.56, and at a minimally increased amount of recoil.

So will our troops soon be outfitted with some variant of 6.8 mm rifles? Only time will tell. We spent 12 years and three tests to decide on a new pistol. But at least we are looking. Currently, SIG SAUER, Textron Systems, and General Dynamics are still in the running. Little is known about how things are going, though clues do occasionally pop up.

And some of what we see is borderline science fiction. General Dynamics entry uses a proprietary polymer case design, that would be a huge weight savings. Textron Systems is said to be fielding a cased telescoped round, which wouldn’t look out of place in the HALO franchise. And SIG has won so many DOD contracts as of late that only a fool would count them out.

All in all, this is going to be exciting to watch. Weapons evolve, whether we like it or not. If we always settled for good enough, we would still be using musket balls and cannons. Our guys deserve the best option available, whatever the price. If we can afford F-22 Raptors, we can certainly afford new rifles for the ground pounders. Get out the popcorn; it is going to be an interesting year.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

F-35 Joint Program Office won’t stop now as 2020 milestones prove persistence

In 2020, unpredictable times bore a new normal without advanced warning. Countries and businesses were forced to ‘pause’ with frontline healthcare providers and essential workers supporting citizens’ everyday lives. For the F-35 Lightning II, the most lethal aircraft in the Department of Defense (DOD) air combat arsenal, production and worldwide operations continued during the global pandemic. The F-35 Enterprise rose to the challenge, ensuring Warfighters remained combat-ready, deployable, and lethal when called into action.

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), its industry partners, and international allies have addressed many COVID-19-related obstacles, with a sharp focus on the safe and effective delivery of the complex weapons system to its customers. The F-35 Enterprise saw key programmatic and operational milestones in the months following the pandemic’s onset, despite increasing barriers.

The year 2020 saw 123 F-35s delivered to customers around the world to meet their missions and maintain their military edge. The 123rd aircraft built at the Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy, was delivered to the Italian Air Force. Also during this year, the 500th aircraft was delivered to the Burlington Air National Guard, and the 600th to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. Additionally, records were set when the F-35 Production Delivery Operations Team managed the delivery of 13 aircraft over 45,000 miles in less than five days; with all of the aircraft landing “Code 1” at the customers’ destination.

The overall 2020 Mission Capable (MC) Rate for the F-35 increased to 68.4 percent (through November), an improvement of 5.3 percent from 2019, while flying 85,967 hours (10,352 more hours than 2019). In January, the F-35 European Regional Warehouse declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC), providing a critical Global Support Solution capability.

First Aircraft Arrivals were achieved at eight bases/units, most notably Korea and Japan, and USS Makin Island was certified for deployment. In April, the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska received its first two F-35As and became the Pacific Air Forces’ first base to house the F-35. The base is scheduled to receive 54 F-35As, making Alaska the most concentrated state for combat-coded, fifth-generation fighter aircraft. In December, the 355th Fighter Squadron ‘Fighting Falcons’ was reactivated to become the second F-35A squadron within the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson. The Vermont Air National Guard welcomed their final F-35A to complete the 134th Fighter Squadron’s initial stand-up, and completed their 500th flight.

Operationally, there were eight global operational deployments, comprising of 70 total aircraft. The United States Air Force deployed F-35 teams for 18 consecutive months from April 2019 until October 2020 in the Central Command Area of Responsibility with hundreds of weapons employments in support of the U.S. and our allies. Several hundred personnel from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines aboard USS America (LHA 6) are currently deployed to the Pacific with a team of F-35Bs to heed the call if needed. The F-35Bs with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted operations aboard USS America with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Akebono (DD 108). America and Akebono conducted a series of bilateral exercises – improving readiness while underway in early April. Additionally, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) departed San Diego in September to execute flight operations with U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 147 ‘Argonauts’ (VFA-147), the Navy’s first F-35C operational squadron. It completed several certifications, including flight deck and carrier air traffic control center certifications, to keep on schedule for the historic 2021 F-35C mission.

Despite COVID-19 challenges, the F-35 Integrated Test Force flew 547 sorties and logged 1,162 flight hours. The test teams implemented innovative solutions across the enterprise to operate at near-full capacity during the pandemic. Split teams, remote testing, cross-training personnel, and military air transport were several methods the test team utilized to ensure mission-essential work was completed.

The JPO team also completed Dual-Capable Aircraft (DCA) environmental, loads, and separations testing, in a restricted environment to ensure the JPO and U.S. Air Force’s top priority remained on track to certification.

Success would not be as great if it were not for the F-35 Program’s International Cooperative Partners and Foreign Military Sales Customers. In April, May, and June 2020, at the height of the pandemic, these key entities achieved several feats. The U.S. Air Force and Israeli Air Force completed the ‘Enduring Lightning’ exercise in southern Israel with numerous protocols to maintain health standards. The Royal Norwegian Air Force also completed their first NATO patrol and deployed to Iceland in 2020. In July, Italian F-35s took over the NATO mission in the North. During one historic mission, they were scrambled in response to Russian military aircraft operating in the North Atlantic again. The alert scramble marked the first time an F-35A of any partner nation was scrambled under NATO command for a real-world mission from Iceland.

The strong ties between the United States and the United Kingdom were demonstrated in September and October as HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked on a historic deployment with its F-35Bs. The U.S. Marines’ F-35Bs accompanied the 617 Squadron in exercises over the North Sea. The carrier sea training aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth enhanced F-35B integration within the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group. These same aircraft will sail this year in 2021 with the ship on her maiden Global Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment. To end the successful year for the United Kingdom, they declared Initial Operational Capability (Maritime), (IOC-M); while Australia also declared IOC for their F-35A fleet to close out the year.

F-35 system developments brought further accomplishments in 2020. The Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL), team at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., achieved IOC in February, a significant milestone for the F-35 Enterprise. The ACURL team specialists compile and test Mission Data File Sets that allow the F-35 to assess threats and command the battlespace. This past summer, the F-35 program also demonstrated a new level of interoperability, aimed at improving future combat data sharing among the U.S. Services, Cooperative Partner nations, and FMS customers. This was achieved when operational test pilots from Edwards and Luke Air Force Bases validated the new concept’s feasibility and effectiveness by executing a series of flights using two U.S. and two Netherlands F-35As operating with the same mission data file. Coalition Mission Data provides a common operating picture across a large multi-national force, affording commanders the ability to operate a mixture of F-35s regardless of variant or nationality.

In this daily-changing environment, the global F-35 fleet continued to enhance and mature sustainment and readiness performance. On Sept. 29, 2020, personnel at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz., completed the loading of a single squadron of F-35Bs on newly modernized Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN) hardware. ODIN, a U.S.-led government program, is fielded with the current Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) release 3.5.2.2 software and supported two weeks of live flight test operations with superb supportability evaluation results. Later that same day, the Marines flew the first flight supported by the new hardware. These successful operations at MCAS Yuma validate the next-generation servers as a viable successor to the ALIS system and provide a significant performance upgrade to F-35 units.

The F-35 Enterprise closed out 2020 exactly how it began: Delivering game-changing air power to our Warfighters through the persistence of the talented workforce that continues to keep the aircraft soaring – and will continue to do so for decades to come.

The F-35 JPO is comprised of more than 2,000 uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel, distributed across more than 40 locations around the world. The program provides Fifth Generation weapons system technology in support of air combat missions for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, seven F-35 cooperative partner nations, and a growing number of foreign military sales (FMS) customers. The F-35 JPO has delivered the F-35 aircraft in partnership with industry partners Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, and a diverse team of subordinate suppliers. As of 31 December 2020, more than 600 F-35s have been delivered, over 355,000 safe flying hours have been accumulated, and over 1,255 pilots and 10,030 maintainers have been trained.

For more of the latest military news stories, visit DVIDS here.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

10 commercial satellites were just launched from California

Ten commercial Earth-imaging satellites have been launched into space from California.


An Orbital ATK Minotaur C rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:37 p.m. Oct. 31.

Deployment was to occur about 12 minutes later during a communications blackout period. Confirmation of deployment was expected about an hour and a half after launch, according to the Orbital ATK webcast.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
A map of currently tracked satellite objects. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The six SkySat satellites and four miniature Dove satellites — each about the size of a loaf of bread — were bound for orbits 310 miles (500 kilometers) above the Earth to join dozens of other satellites that provide streams of data to San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc.

The satellites are designed to gather medium- and high-resolution multispectral images of Earth for businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US beat Russia to the forward-swept wing by a decade

When the Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut took to the skies in 1997, some thought the aircraft, featuring a forward-swept wing, was the future of Russian aviation. Although the Berkut had finally ended its career as a testbed, it wasn’t even that groundbreaking. In fact, the United States had flown its forward-swept wing testbed in the 1980s.


This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
The Su-47 taking off. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

That’s right, in the era of big hair, when Bon Jovi exploded into prominence and Maverick and Goose graced the silver screen, America had the X-29 in the sky. This plane used the F-5 airframe and had a single F404 engine. In essence, this was the same basic configuration of the F-20 Tigershark.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Northrop F-5E, the basis for the X-29. (USAF photo)

But it wasn’t all Tigershark. While the Tigershark was just a modified F-5 and didn’t need fancy fly-by-wire systems, the X-29 did. In fact, the X-29 had three fly-by-wire (FBW) computers and three backup computers. Like the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the X-29 was inherently unstable and needed the help of the FBW system to stay in the air. One thing it didn’t have: weapons.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
The X-29 shows moves that could make it a good dogfighter. (NASA photo)

The X-29 had a top speed of 1,131 miles per hour and a maximum range of 1,553 miles. The two X-29 airframes built as part of the program flew for seven years before being retired. One was donated to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the other is at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
This photo shows the No. 2 X-29 technology demonstrator aircraft as it lifts off from the runway at Edwards Air Force base on a 1989 test flight. (NASA photo)

By comparison, the Berkut was based on the Su-27 Flanker. This plane was also initially unarmed, but plans were for production models to carry a full suite of weapons. The Berkut flew from 1997 to the mid-2000s, before the four constructed prototypes were sent off to retirement.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
The X-29 in flight, with a good look at the front. (USAF photo)

Learn more about America’s nimble testbed in the video below. Tell us, do you think the X-29 could have been a good dogfighter?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0FXeUjjoXw
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
MIGHTY CULTURE

Why a think tank puts teen girls in command of military operations

Though women have made a lot of progress in recent years, especially in the military and defense sectors, there are still very few women in senior positions in the U.S. military-industrial complex. Only a third of the senior positions at the Department of State are women, and less than a fifth hold such positions at the Defense Department.

That’s why a Cold War-era think tank agreed to put women in command of a large wargaming exercise. Were women able to prevent an all-out nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula?


This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

Alexis Visser is a 19-year-old international relations student and Army Reservist who helped game the South Korean and American forces.

(Dori Gordon Walker/RAND)

The RAND Corporation, a global, nonprofit policy research center created in 1948, wanted to bring a much-needed female perspective to the fields of defense policy and national security. The group of women are in age groups ranging from their late teens to early 20s, and most have never had any kind of wargaming or strategy experience before. Still, they are leading command discussion about scenarios facing troops in a war with North Korea in a conference room overlooking the Pentagon.

In the scenario, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has a long-range missile that can target locations on the U.S. West Coast. The North threatens “grave consequences” if the United States and South Korea conduct their annual joint exercises to practice their responses to a North Korean invasion. The warning from the DPRK is the same the Stalinist country gives the Southern Allies every year. This time, when the allies begin their drills, the North fires an artillery barrage into Seoul. South Korea responds with missile strikes. The new Korean War is on.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

(Photo by Dori Gordon Walker/RAND Corporation)

RAND uses wargames like this one to study almost every national security scenario and has since the earliest days of the Cold War. It was the RAND Corporation who was at the center of the 1967 Pentagon Papers case that determined why the United States had not been successful in Vietnam. It’s very unlikely this is the first time RAND has wargamed a war between North and South Korea, but it’s the first time young girls were given command of the allied forces.

That isn’t to say no women have wargamed at the Pentagon. Many of the women who have participated in wargames at the highest levels of the U.S. government, including in the Pentagon, often admit to being the only woman in the room. RAND wants to create a pipeline for young women to be able to participate in such wargames – as professionals.

In the game, the women determine where to deploy infantry, how to stop North Korean advances, and even when to use tactical nuclear weapons, all under the advice and counsel of RAND’s expert and veteran women advisors.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

Samina Mondal, right, listens as RAND’s Stacie Pettyjohn reviews the blue team’s tactics.

(Dori Gordon Walker/RAND)

The game is working, and not just against North Korea. History majors decide to turn their attention instead to National Security Studies. Eighteen-year-olds decide on careers in nuclear security. Soon, women will begin to change the way we look at the defense of the United States.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This outstanding veteran-owned brewery is just down the road

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Grinch in your unit:

~a case of premium craft beer by Greater Boston’s #1 veteran brewmaster~

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Frosty the Craft Beer, had a tiny foamy head… (Photo credit: Alex Weaver/Down The Road)

Does the thought of the Holidays — and all of the fluff-trimmed kerfuffery that comes with them — make you just want to start drinking? No?

So, you’re this guy:

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

That’s cool. But we bet there’s someone on your list who’s less Jingle-bell-jazzed than you.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Found him. (Photo via Flickr, Evil Erin, CC BY 2.0)

For this guy, consider the gift of beer. Really good beer.

Donovan Bailey — Army tank operator, beer brewing genius, and owner of Greater Boston’s Down The Road Brewery — crafts exactly the kind of Holiday Cheer we’re talking about.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Bailey, brewmaster of the 3rd Armored Cav. (Photo credit: David Rainville/Greenfield Recorder)

Allow us to direct your attention his extensive line of tasty craft beers.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
That’s actually only half of them. Here’s the full menu.

Since dropping his first batch of Pukwudgie American Pale Ale in April 2015, Bailey has been quietly deepening his alchemical mastery of the hops, malts, and yeasts. (That’s Boston’s version of the breaks, rhymes, and beats.)

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Bailey’s state-of-the-art brewing facility. (Photo credit: Alex Weaver/Down The Road)

He cuts his love of European craft brewing tradition with a fiendish need to iterate and remix.  As a result, the Down The Road brew line-up is a veritable mix-tape of innovative, sample-heavy, world heritage beers. DTR very literally has something for everyone.

And as of Nov. 3 of this year, they now have their very own 2,500-square-foot taproom in Everett, MA, complete with 35′ bar, retro-pinball lounge and food trucks-a-go-go.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Crowds that deep, they’ll need more bartenders… (Photo credit: Alex Weaver/Down The Road)

If you live in the Northeast, grab your Grinch and treat him to a few tasting rounds at the taproom. Or present him with a case of Queequeg’s Revenge New England IPA and see if he doesn’t crack a smile as he cracks himself a cold one.

Because beer is full of many wonderful ingredients, not the least of which are millions of tiny, alcoholic fun bubbles that just want you to lighten the hell up for the Holidays.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

MIGHTY TACTICAL

First she invented tech to help amputees — now she’s giving it to veterans

Amira Idris Radovic is a biomedical engineer who developed a device that helps amputees manage phantom limb pain — now, she helps provide them for free to veterans.

She has managed to provide veterans with over 50 ELIX devices, each from a $210 donation, and now she’s eligible for an Amber Grant that would award her $25,000. All you have to do is click to vote — no sign-ups, no e-mails. Just click to support.

Idris is giving back to the military community — let’s show her we’ve got her six.


TheraV Our Story

www.youtube.com

How it works:

“We’ve learned that the reason people suffer form this pain is because of mixed signals that are being relayed to the nerve endings of the remaining limb and we found that we are able to overcome those mixed signals and disrupt them by using vibration technology,” she reported.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’

According to a recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Amputation System of Care, nearly 90,000 veterans with amputations were treated in Fiscal Year 2016.

“Phantom limb pain (PLP) refers to ongoing painful sensations that seem to be coming from the part of the limb that is no longer there. The limb is gone, but the pain is real. TheraV’s ELIX wearable specifically addresses phantom limb pain by stimulating periphery sensory nerves with vibrations. The vibrations activate large sensory nerve fibers, which carry touch and pressure stimulation to the brain. Activation of these large sensory nerve fibers closes the pain gate, thus inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain.”

The Amber Grants began in 1998 to support women entrepreneurs. They have grown to a ,000 monthly grant and a ,000 annual grant. In March 2019, Amira won the Amber Grant and is now competing for the annual award.

With just two clicks, you can help her provide more devices for veterans with amputations.

Amira wants veterans to know that they can sign up on her website to get the device and is adamant about spreading the message that amputation doesn’t have to mean losing quality of life.

Articles

Russian spy ship near Navy bases on East Coast

While the buzzing of the destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) and Russia’s deployment of the SSC-8 cruise missile drew a lot of attention, another Russian action has gone somewhat unnoticed.


According to the Hartford Courant, a Russian naval vessel is operating off the coast of Connecticut. The vessel, described as a “spy ship,” has been operating up and down the East Coast.

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
The Karelia, a Vishnya-class intelligence ship similar to the Viktor Leonov, sails near the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN 39). (Photo: Dept. of Defense)

A FoxNews.com report identified the Russian ship as the Viktor Leonov, noting that it was also been loitering around Norfolk Naval Station, the largest naval base in the world.

“The presence of this spy ship has to be regarded very seriously because Russia is an increasingly aggressive adversary. It reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance and cyber espionage,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in a press release.

The Viktor Leonov is a Vishnya-class intelligence ship. According to GlobalSecurity.org, Vishnya-class vessels are very lightly armed with two SA-N-8 missile launchers and two AK-630 close-in weapon systems. The ship has a top speed of 16 knots, and is loaded with gear for carrying out signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT).

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Aircrew from Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron One Four (HS-14) is embarked aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) lowers memorabilia from the Kitty Hawk Strike Group to a Vishnya-class AGI ship, Kurily (SSV-208), as a goodwill gesture. The Viktor Leonov is a sister ship to the one pictured here. (US Navy photo)

The Soviet Union built seven of these vessels in the 1980s, and all remain in service with the Russian Navy until 2020, when they will be replaced by a new class of vessels. The Leonov carried out a similar operation in early 2015 with much less fanfare.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Take a closer look at the cinematic villain helicopter of the 1980s: The Mi-24 Hind

The Mi-24 Hind had a reputation as a cinematic bad guy in Rambo III and the original 1980s Cold War flick Red Dawn.


Helping the Mujahidin kill it was the focus of 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War. But how much do you really know about this so-called “flying tank?”

Let’s take a good look at this deadly bird. According to GlobalSecurity.org, this helicopter can carry a lot of firepower, including 57mm and 80mm rockets, anti-tank missiles, and deadly machine guns or cannon. But it also can carry a standard Russian infantry section – eight fully-armed troops.

 

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
A left side view of a Soviet-made Mi-24 Hind-D assault helicopter in-flight. (DOD photo)

 

So, it’s really not a flying tank. It’s a flying infantry fighting vehicle.

There really isn’t a similar American – or Western – helicopter. The UH-1 and UH-60s were standard troop carries, but don’t really have the firepower of the Hind. The AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra have a lot of firepower, but can’t really carry troops (yeah, we know the Brits did that one time – and it was [very] crazy!).

While the Mi-24 got its villainous cinematic reputation thanks to 1984’s “Red Dawn,” and the 1988 movie “Rambo III,” its first action was in the Ogaden War – an obscure conflict that took place from 1977-1978. After the Somali invasion of Ethiopia, the Air Combat Information Group noted that as many as 16 Mi-24s were delivered to the Ethiopians by the Soviets.

It has taken part in over 30 conflicts since then.

 

This is why America needs to rethink how it ‘owns the night’
Mi-24 Super Agile Hind, a modernized Hind by the South African firm ATE. At the Ysterplaat Airshow 2006. Photo by Danie van der Merwe, Flikr

 

The Hind was to Afghanistan what the Huey was to Vietnam: an icon of the conflict. GlobalSecurity.org reported that as many as 300 Mi-24s were in Afghanistan.

In the Russian war movie “The Ninth Company,” the Mi-24 gets a more heroic turn than it did in Red Dawn or Rambo III.

At least 2,300 have already been built, and versions of the Mi-24 are still in production, according to the Russian Helicopters website. This cinematic aviation bad boy will surely be around for many years to come.

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