Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

In the fast-moving world of defense technology, it pays for contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing to stay on top of Uncle Sam’s spending habits. If you can accurately predict how the government will be looking to spend its massive defense budgets, you can position yourself well to secure tomorrow’s contracts with just a little bit of leg work today–and over the past few years, few have managed to do so as effectively as Boeing.


With so much money being funneled toward stealth and hypersonic platforms over at Lockheed Martin, Boeing has adopted a different angle in its pursuit of tax dollars: leaning into America’s recent love affair with revamping aging platforms for continued use. Instead of offering up costly, all-new aircraft to the Pentagon, Boeing has focused on finding cost-effective ways to keep existing platforms relevant. This effort is not only responsible for the new slew of updated F-15EXs expected to begin production in 2020, but also the sweeping upgrades to the Navy’s Super Hornets that are so substantial, some have taken to calling the Block III version of the fighter, “Super Duper Hornets.”

It’s almost certain that same mindset led Boeing to secure a patent last May that would turn America’s only supersonic heavy payload bomber into the world’s fastest gunship.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

With a top speed of Mach 1.2, the Bone would make for one quick cannon-carrier

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Richardson)

The B-1B Lancer had a tumultuous start, with the program canceled and revived twice over the span of four sitting presidents only to finally make it into production just in time to see its nuclear delivery mission sidelined by the fall of the Soviet Union. The fighter-like bomber would have to undergo yet another technical shift, converting it into a conventional payload bomber following America’s signing of the START treaty in 1995, before the “Bone” (as aircrews took to calling it) would find its way into the fight. Now, however, with the next generation B-21 Raider slated to enter service in the coming decade, the B-1B has been set to enter retirement just as soon as there are enough new bombers to replace it.

That is, unless Boeing has something to do with it. The patent they secured last year included a number of different cannon options to be added to the swing-wing bomber ranging in size from 25mm to 40mm. Some design options involve opening the bomb-bay doors to reveal the cannon, others have cannons unfolding from the belly of the beast, but the intent is the same in either regard: creating a supersonic platform that can deliver firepower like the legendary AC-130U Spooky Gunship and still outrun whatever trouble may be headed its way.

Deadly AC-130 Gunship in Action Firing All Its Cannons

youtu.be

The Bone’s speed and advanced terrain following flight systems would allow it to fly in contested airspace with minimal detection, something an AC-130 can’t do, and its massive fuel stores and payload capacity mean it could loiter for hours over a target and deliver thousands of pounds of guided bombs between cannon volleys.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the B-1B Gunship concept. Thanks to the swing-wing design, the B-1B may have a lower stall speed than you might find in some other supersonic platforms, but it still seems unlikely that the aircraft can fly slow enough to reliably use a cannon in close air support missions. The B-1B’s biggest proposed cannon, at 40mm, is tiny compared to the 105mm cannon fired from the Spooky Gunship — though that concern could be mitigated by the B-1B’s ability to drop highly accurate ordnance in combination with the hypothetical cannons.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

One of the designs includes a cannon that would lower from the Lancer’s belly, while others would rely on opening the bomb bay doors.

(U.S. Patent Office)

The Bone would also be a costly replacement for the much slower AC-130U, to the tune of about ,000 more per flight hour, though one could argue that if they found a way to use the cannon effectively in the B-1B, it would broaden the options for commanders in the field enough to warrant the cost. Because the AC-130U tops out at around 300 miles per hour and is too big to miss with many anti-aircraft weapons, they tend to be used only in nighttime operations in lightly contested or utterly uncontested airspace. The B-1B, on the other hand, could fly close air support missions in far more threatening environments.

Will this concept ever make it off of paper and into American hangars? Well, it’s tough to say. Securing a patent doesn’t mean Uncle Sam is interested in what they’re selling — but having it means it’s always an option on the table, and as the B-1 continues to find new uses in the forms of new anti-ship and stealthy cruise missile armaments, the Air Force may find reason to invest new money in the B-1s future after all. Who knows what the wars of the future might bring.

Articles

The Harrier versus the Lightning II: Which does close air support better?

With the debate on close-air support raging between those who think the F-35 Lightning can perform the role versus those who think the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka the Warthog) can’t be beaten, one other plane that excels in this role has been all but forgotten.


Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry , North Carolina – Maj. James S. Tanis lands an AV-8B Harrier during field carrier landing practice sustainment training at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo By: Cpl. J. R. Heins)

The McDonnell-Douglas/British Aerospace AV-8B+ Harrier has played a role for decades supporting troops on the ground in combat.

The Harrier had caught the fancy of Hollywood for a while – notably being used to evacuate a defector in the beginning of “The Living Daylights” – and especially after it proved to be a war-winning weapon in the Falklands in 1982. The U.S. Marines had a similar plane in the AV-8A Harrier.

Then, around 1985, the AV-8B and GR.5 entered service, offering a greater payload for ground attack. The 1990s saw the AV-8B+ enter service with the APG-65 radar used on the F/A-18 Hornet.

So, how does this plane stack up against the competition is a close-air support mission?

In a max-payload configuration, the AV-8B+ can carry 14 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. The AV-8B+ can carry a wide variety of other weapons as well, including the Mk 84 2,000 pound bomb, CBU-87 and CBU-100 cluster bombs, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), and laser-guided bombs.

The Harrier also features an internal gun – the 25mm GAU-12 — with 300 rounds of ammo. While not as powerful as the A-10’s GAU-12, this gun still packs a punch.

So, how does this stack up to the F-35B which the Marines are using to replace the Harrier?

The F-35B can carry JDAMs, but cannot carry any 2,000-pound bombs. As this Military.com video shows, 2,000 pound bombs are sometimes needed to support grunts.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct the first ever hot load on the F-35B Lightning II in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-17 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 22, 2016. (Staff Sgt. Artur Shvartsberg)

Even though the F-35 has a larger maximum payload (15,000 pounds to the AV-8B’s 9,200 pounds), not being able to drop the bigger bombs can be a problem. The F-35 also doesn’t carry the Maverick missile, which can be a problem when there are ground-based air defenses.

The lack of an internal gun is another killer. Sometimes, you don’t need a big bang, especially when you have to be aware of collateral damage. When you drop a 500-pound bomb, that’s still a lot of high explosives going off.

Even the AGM-114 Hellfire used on drones has caused some civilian casualties when taking out high-ranking terrorists.

The Marines need new aircraft, particularly since they had to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. The high-tech F-35B may be a good replacement for the F/A-18C Hornets the Marines desperately need to replace, but the AV-8B+ may need to stick around a while to help with the close-air support mission.

Because like the Hog, it can do stuff that the F-35 just can’t do.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NASA’s Voyager 2 finds mysterious layer outside our solar system

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe exited our solar system nearly a year ago, becoming the second spacecraft to ever enter interstellar space.

It followed six years behind its sister spacecraft, Voyager 1, which reached the limits of the solar system in 2012. But a plasma-measuring instrument on Voyager 1 had been damaged, so that probe could not gather crucial data about the transition from our solar system into interstellar space.

Voyager 2, which left the solar system with its instruments intact, completed the set of data. Scientists shared their findings for the first time on Oct. 4, 2019, via five papers published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


The analyses indicate that there are mysterious extra layers between our solar system’s bubble and interstellar space. Voyager 2 detected solar winds — flows of charged gas particles that come from the sun — leaking from the solar system. Just beyond the solar system’s edge, these solar winds interact with interstellar winds: gas, dust, and charged particles flowing through space from supernova explosions millions of years ago.

“Material from the solar bubble was leaking outside, upstream into the galaxy at distances up to a billion miles,” Tom Krimigis, a physicist who authored one of the papers, said in a call with reporters.

The new boundary layers suggest there are stages in the transition from our solar bubble to the space beyond that scientists did not previously understand.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

An image of Uranus taken by Voyager 2 on January 14, 1986, from a distance of approximately 7.8 million miles.

(NASA/JPL)

The place where solar and interstellar winds interact

On Nov. 5, 2018, Voyager 2 left what’s known as the “heliosphere,” a giant bubble of charged particles flowing out from the sun that sheathes our solar system. In doing so, the probe crossed a boundary area called the “heliopause.” In that area, the edge of our solar system’s bubble, solar winds meet a flow of interstellar wind and fold back on themselves.

It took both spacecraft less than a day to travel through the entire heliopause. The twin probes are now speeding through a region known as the “bow shock,” where the plasma of interstellar space flows around the heliosphere, much like water flowing around the bow of a moving ship.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes outside the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the sun.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Both Voyager probes measured changes in the intensity of cosmic rays as they crossed the heliopause, along with the transition between magnetic fields inside and outside the bubble.

But because so much of the transition from our solar system to the space beyond is marked by changes in plasma (a hot ionized gas that’s the most abundant state of matter in the universe), Voyager 1’s damaged instrument had difficulty measuring it.

Now the new measurements from Voyager 2 indicate that the boundaries between our solar system and interstellar space may not be as simple as scientists once thought.

The data indicates that there’s a previously unknown boundary layer just beyond the heliopause. In that area, solar winds leak into space and interact with interstellar winds. The intensity of cosmic rays there was just 90% of their intensity farther out.

“There appears to be a region just outside the heliopause where we’re still connected — there’s still some connection back to the inside,” Edward Stone, a physicist who has worked on the Voyager missions since 1972, said in the call.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

An illustration of a Voyager probe leaving the solar system.

(NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI))

Other results from the new analyses also show a complicated the relationship between interstellar space and our solar system at its edges.

The scientists found that beyond the mysterious, newly identified layer, there’s another, much thicker boundary layer where interstellar plasma flows over the heliopause. There, the density of the plasma jumps up by a factor of 20 or more for a region spanning billions of miles. This suggests that something is compressing the plasma outside the heliosphere, but scientists don’t know what.

“That currently represents a puzzle,” Don Gurnett, an astrophysicist who authored one of the five papers, said in the call.

What’s more, the new results also showed that compared with Voyager 1, Voyager 2 experienced a much smoother transition from the heliopause to a strong new magnetic field beyond the solar system.

“That remains a puzzle,” Krimigis said.

The scientists hope to continue studying these boundaries over the next five years before the Voyager probes run out of fuel.

“The heliopause is an obstacle to the interstellar flow,” Stone added. “We want to understand that complex interaction on the largest scale as we can.”

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The Voyager 2 spacecraft launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on August 20, 1977.

(NASA/JPL)

5 more years of Voyager data

NASA launched the Voyager probes in 1977. Voyager 2 launched two weeks ahead of Voyager 1 on a special course to explore Uranus and Neptune. It is still the only spacecraft to have visited those planets.

The detour meant that Voyager 2 reached interstellar space six years after Voyager 1. It is now NASA’s longest-running mission.

“When the two Voyagers were launched, the Space Age was only 20 years old, so it was hard to know at that time that anything could last over 40 years,” Krimigis said.

Now, he said, scientists expect to get about five more years of data from the probes as they press on into interstellar space. The team hopes the Voyagers will reach the distant point where space is undisturbed by the heliosphere before they run out of fuel.

After the spacecraft die, they’ll continue drifting through space. In case aliens ever find them, each Voyager probe contains a golden record encoded with sounds, images, and other information about life on Earth.

In the future, the researchers want to send more probes in different directions toward the edges of our solar system to study these boundary layers in more detail.

“We absolutely need more data. Here’s an entire bubble, and we only crossed at two points,” Krimigis said. “Two examples are not enough.”

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

MIGHTY GAMING

This is how much human blood you need to make a longsword

There’s a meme that occasionally makes the rounds on social media that claims you’d have to kill 359 people in order to save up enough human blood to get the iron required to make a longsword. Forging a weapon of war from the blood of your enemies? Sign us up.

But that number seemed a little suspect, so we decided to dig deeper.

It’s true, there is iron in red blood cells — mostly in hemoglobin — but trying to extract that iron from someone’s blood is no simple process. And, with a little math, we’ve determined that if you’re somehow able to get the iron out, the number of people you’d need to drain would be way higher than the meme suggests. Let’s explore this bloody question.


Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Yes, this scene. Side note: This is why they had Mystique inject iron into the blood of the guard — to keep this scene scientifically accurate.

(20th Century Fox)

First of all, there are roughly 5 million red blood cells in a microliter of blood. Accounting for the tiny fractions of iron in red blood cells and the amount of blood in the body, the amount of iron within an average human body totals 4 grams, enough for about eight paperclips. We’re thinking that whoever invented the meme took this number, did the division, and came to the conclusion that you’d need 359 unfortunate souls to complete the diabolical process. But we’re not finished — not by a long shot.

A single molecule of hemoglobin is comprised of 2952 carbon atoms, 4664 hydrogen atoms, 832 oxygen atoms, 812 nitrogen atoms, eight sulfur atoms, and a whopping four iron atoms. You’d have to strip away the rest of the elements in the molecule to get to said iron. So, now we have to talk extraction — and since you’re probably already thinking of that scene from X2, let’s talk magnets.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The quality of the iron in the blood might be tied to the healthiness of each individual — but we’re just going to assume that’ll average out over the several thousand souls required…

(Photo by Tamahagane Arts)

The iron in the metalloprotein hemoglobin isn’t in a metallic state, which is great for anyone who has ever encountered a magnet. This is why you don’t immediately collapse from a clogged artery when a magnet comes close to your veins. Instead, oxygenated hemoglobin is diamagnetic — meaning it repels magnets — at an extremely low level. The blood that travels between the heart and the lungs is deoxygenated, however, making it paramagnetic, so that’s the first place any chaotic-evil blacksmith should begin.

If you could manage to create a machine to pump and deoxygenate large quantities of blood, like a modified, artificial heart, it would then be prepped for a super-magnet to pull the raw iron out of the blood. Take the blood that’s been pulled out by a super magnet and set it on fire to burn away any remaining oxygen and hydrogen and, voila, you have something to work with — in theory, anyway. Nobody’s tested this, probably because they don’t feel like being labelled a mad scientist.

What you’d be left with is something similar to iron sand. You officially have a workable material for first step in the smelting process. But there’s a huge difference between raw materials and iron that’s able to be forged.

In the real world, for every 1 kg of workable iron ingots created, you end up with an average of 3.181 kg of impurities and slag byproduct — and that’s when working with the highest quality iron sand, stuff from Gampo, South Korea. We’ll give our theoretical blood-iron the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s about the same in terms of quality.

So, you’ll need a total of 4.181 kg of blood-iron sand to get 1 kg of workable iron. Now, let’s get back to the math.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

At this point, you’d already be considered a monster, so let’s keep going! To get 25 kg of usable blood-steel for a full suit of armor would require a messy 179,376 blood bags — which, surprisingly, is less than the amount of people killed annually by sugary drinks worldwide.

(Bethesda Game Studios)

An average longsword has a finished weight of around 1.5 kg — but typical generates an additional 0.75 kg of waste. That means we’ll need 2.25 kg of workable iron to make the sword. 2,250 grams of workable iron, factoring for the ratio of impurities, means we’ll need 9,407.25 grams of raw material — of blood-iron sand — to start. At 4 grams per person, you’d need at least 2,352 completely drained donors to make a iron longsword out of blood.

But if you’re going that far, why stop at iron? Why not work it into steel, which makes objectively better weapons?

Continuing folding and forging, removing the impurities, and adding carbon (which, presumably, could be found in the garbage shoot after all the work you’ve done so far) can harden that bad boy into something more durable. Granted, you’d need more blood-iron sand at a magnitude of 1 kg of blood-steel ingots to 27.7 kg of waste. That puts you at 64,749.9 grams of blood-iron sand, or a genocidal 16,188 doomed souls to create a single steel blade.

To put that in perspective, you’re looking at killing roughly half as many people as the bubonic plague did in 1625 London.

Brutal.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon will report what really happened to 4 soldiers in Niger

The Pentagon is releasing a redacted version of the lengthy Niger ambush investigation that is expected to focus on the command and tactical decisions that led to the deaths of four members of the Army‘s Third Special Forces Group.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the Article 15-6 fact-finding investigation is thousands of pages long. Pentagon officials said the report would include an animated video of what happened on the joint patrol with Nigerien troops near the village of Tongo Tongo in northwestern Niger on Oct. 4, 2018.


The families of the fallen and members of Congress have already been briefed on the findings, which were expected to answer the lingering questions about how a patrol of 12 U.S. and approximately 30 Nigerien troops came to be overwhelmed by fighters from an offshoot of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In a briefing shortly after the ambush, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the mission had been expected to pose little risk.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
(Dept. of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

However, the mission reportedly was changed and sent the patrol after a high-value militant linked to the offshoot called ISIS in the Greater Sahel.

Those killed in the patrol were Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida; Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

Four Nigerien troops and a Nigerien interpreter also were killed in the ambush near the Mali border as the patrol was returning to base near the Nigerien capital of Niamey.

Black’s father has declined to fault the decisions that led to the ambush.

He told National Public Radio, “I would not personally characterize them as mistakes. They were just decisions based on what they knew, and I believe that those decisions were sound decisions.”

One of the questions that is expected to be answered is how Sgt. La David Johnson came to be separated from the rest of the patrol during the ambush. His body was not found until two days after the attack.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Sgt. La David Johnson
(U.S. Army photo)

The noontime briefing at the Pentagon on the investigation is expected to be led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert S. Karem and Marine Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Waldhauser’s chief of staff, Army Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier, who led the Article 15-6 investigation, is also expected to join the briefing.

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

Articles

This F-15E scored an air-to-air kill by dropping a bomb on an Iraqi helicopter

The first time the F-15 Strike Eagle saw combat was in the skies over the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Although the F-15 C and D were incredibly lethal in air-to-air combat, the F-15E was primarily used to take out mobile Scud missiles and surface-to-air missile sites. It was the F-15E’s only air-to-air kill during Desert Storm that would become the most memorable.


On Valentine’s Day 1991, the offensive part of the First Gulf War was in full swing. U.S. Air Force Captains Richard “TB” Bennett and Dan “Chewie” Bakke were pilot and weapons system officer, respectively, on a Scud patrol. AWACS ordered their F-15E to hit Mi-24 Hind Gunships that were close to a U.S. Special Forces operation.

Bakke told the author of “Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements” that the F-15E’s radar became “intermittent” when they moved to strike. The pilot couldn’t get a missile lock on the targets because one the Hinds began to accelerate so fast. Bakke switched his thinking to a ground attack.

Since he could only see the rotors using his LANTIRN pod (the ground targeting system used by the Strike Eagles) Bakke used a laser-guided, 2,000-pound GBU-10 bomb on the helicopter as it began to lift off. The bomb when through the rotors and the cockpit, its fuse delay exploding the munition underneath the Hind, completely disintegrating the helicopter. The other helicopters bolted after that and more U.S. air cover came in to protect the ground force.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

After the Special Forces team was extracted, they confirmed the F-15E’s kill and sent Bennett and Bakke a “Thank You” via their headquarters based in Riyadh.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier helped police nab suspects – with his baby in tow

A Minnesota-based Army recruiter recently helped police arrest four suspected shoplifters while shopping at a local mall with his 10-month-old daughter.

Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva had been pushing his daughter in a stroller Feb. 24, 2019, inside the Southdale Mall in Edina, a Minneapolis suburb, when he saw a group of suspicious men leave an electronics store with several boxes of headphones worth thousands of dollars.

Store employees, he said, told the four men to stop, but they walked away toward the mall’s exit. Oliva said he pursued the men as the employees remained in the store to presumably call the police.


“I stayed at a safe enough distance, because I didn’t know if they had weapons,” said Oliva, the operations sergeant for the Minneapolis Army Recruiting Company.

Since the men were not running, Oliva was able to keep an eye on them the entire time without putting his daughter in harm’s way, the father of two said.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The suspects’ vehicle is seen here surrounded by police outside Southdale Mall.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva)

But when the men exited the mall, Oliva thought they would get away. A friend of Oliva’s then offered to watch his daughter while he and her husband followed the men out into the parking lot to get a vehicle description for police.

“I ended up getting my phone out and was able to get pictures of the vehicle’s license plate and of the suspects,” said Oliva, who has previously deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a field artillery surveyor.

As the suspects’ vehicle began to flee the scene, Oliva flagged down a nearby police patrol car and a brief chase ensued. Another patrol car quickly intervened, he said, and cut off the escape route for the suspects’ car after it nearly hit two other moving vehicles in the parking lot.

Officers arrested four men aged 19 to 21 years old and charged them with felony shoplifting of nearly ,300 worth of electronics, according to Edina police records. One of the men was also charged with another felony for fleeing from police in a motor vehicle.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Staff Sgt. Sean Oliva with his wife, Jamie, at a recruiter training conference.

Police later told Oliva the electronics store had recently been targeted by shoplifters several times before.

“It was just like a duty for me,” Oliva said March 4, 2019. “Living the Army values is important to me. To be taught those values and to not intervene would have been going against them.”

Oliva, who became a recruiter in 2012, also tries to assist local youth in finding their future career path whether it be in the Army or elsewhere.

“It’s good to help others who either need direction or not sure what they want to do with their lives yet,” the sergeant said. ‘We kind of get to play a big role in helping them achieve their goals.”

His company commander, Capt. Michael Beck, said he was proud of the sergeant’s actions that day.

“More than anything, I think the fact that he’s representing the Army values in a public setting really shows the type of character of all the soldiers in the Army today,” he said.

Many other people, Beck said, may not have done anything to help apprehend the suspects.

“I think more and more frequently there are people who are just comfortable with being bystanders,” he said. “They don’t necessarily feel comfortable for standing up for what’s right.

“Sergeant Oliva didn’t really hesitant. He saw the opportunity to do the right thing.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 ways East Germans escaped the grip of Communism

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided in half, leaving West and East Germany. The West was controlled by NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations controlled the East. The former capital of Berlin was torn in two, split between communists and capitalists.


As you might expect, life under a communist regime is hell and people were looking for a way out. After the Berlin Wall and Inner German border (IGB) were created and heavily guarded, only an estimated 5,000 escapees managed to sneak out and into the freedoms of Western civilization throughout the 28 years of the Wall’s existence.

1. Trains

In the early days of the Cold War, defecting wasn’t that difficult. It was estimated that, before the Berlin Wall and the IGB were erected, nearly 3.5 million East Germans defected to West Germany. Legal loopholes, a lack of physical borders, and little effort to keep East Germans meant that all it took to get away was to hop a train.

All of this changed on August 13th, 1961, when the Berlin Wall went up. By August 24th, the order was given to kill anyone attempting to leave East Germany.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
The fact that so many people risked certain death to leave a Communist regime kinda proves it’s a sh*t system. (Courtesy of the German Federal Archives)

2. Wearing uniforms

One of the most iconic images of the Cold War was captured when an East German Soldier, Conrad Schumann, leaped over concertina wire on August 15th, 1961 as the Wall was being created.

It was also common to find guard and Soldier uniforms in East Berlin black marketplaces.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Schumann’s escape has since become synonymous with the era of German history. (Courtesy Photo)

3. Counterfeit passports

Speaking of black markets, special passports that allowed access past guards were also forged. There were certain citizens that were authorized to cross the border, legally, for various reasons. While actual passport holders were required to come back by nightfall, escapees with a fake passport and little interest in returning to a Soviet sh*thole said, “scheiß drauf” and never returned.

When Communists realized people were openly spending foreign money in 1979, black markets boomed because capitalism, uh, finds a way. Fun fact: an East German diplomat passport looked much like a Playboy Club: Munich membership card. If you placed your thumb over where the Playboy Bunny logo would be, you could sneak in.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Playboy saves the world, time and time again. (Courtesy Photo)

4. Jumping from high buildings

Many options for avoiding the Berlin Wall, such as passage through the Spree or Havel Rivers, were downright dangerous. While the guards would detain or shoot as you tried to sneak across the Wall, you ran the risk of drowning if you opted for a river crossing. In fact, many people drowned in escape attempts, but that wasn’t as dangerous as this option.

There were many tall buildings located near the Wall. Escapees would climb up to the highest floor needed and, boldly, jump. Many survived, some were wounded, but others weren’t as lucky.

As the years went on, the Wall grew, making this passage impossible.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

5. Tunnels

The largest mass escape from East Berlin was when 57 people made their way through a tunnel, aptly named afterwords, “Tunnel 57.”

The tunnel systems were elaborate and ran deeply underground to prevent detection.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Shawshank Redemption has nothing on these East Berliners. (Courtesy of German Federal Archives)

6. Hiding in trunks

The final illegal journey from East Germany to the West was done by an American man who smuggled a father and his little girl in his vehicle just days before the Wall fell. Their story was shared with National Geographic in the video below.



(National Geographic)

popular

An Army vet perfectly explains the difference between a specialist and a corporal

Two ranks occupy the same pay grade in the U.S. Army, the specialist and the corporal. The difference between the two isn’t always as clear to other members of the military from other branches.

In short, the difference between the two E-4 grades is that one is considered a non-commissioned officer while the other is not. The corporal will go to the NCO training school while the specialist might not. In practice, the corporal outranks a specialist and will be treated as an NCO by the soldiers below him or her. The specialist is still an E-4 level expert at his or her MOS.

That’s why a specialist is also known as a “sham shield” — all the responsibility of a private grade with all the pay of a corporal. Now that you know the gist of the difference, you’ll see why this Quora response is the best response ever — and why only a veteran of the U.S. Army could have written it.


When someone on Quora asked about the difference between these two ranks that share a pay grade, one user, Christopher Aeneadas, gave the most hilarious response I’ve ever seen. He served in the Army from 1999-2003 in signals intelligence. Having once been both a specialist and a corporal, he had firsthand knowledge of the difference, which he describes in detail:

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

A Full Bird Private has reached the full maturity of a Junior Enlisted Soldier. That magnificent specimen is the envy of superiors and subordinates alike.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The Sham Shield is the mark of the one who has taken the first steps toward enlightenment.

The Specialist knows all and does nothing.

The first two Noble Truths of Buddhism are:

The First Noble Truth – Unsatisfactoriness and suffering exist and are universally experienced.

The Second Noble TruthDesire and attachment are the causes of unsatisfactoriness and suffering.

The Full Bird Private understands that to cease suffering, one must give up the desire to attend the Basic Leader Course (BLC).

A soldier can live for many years in harmony with his squad and his command if he simply forgets his attachment to promotion. There is wisdom in this.

In the distant past, there were even greater enlighted souls. Specialist ranks only whispered of today: Spec-5s and Spec-6s. Some even reached the apotheosis of Specialist E-7!

Mourn with me that their quiet, dignified path is lost to soldiers today.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The Corporal is a soldier of ambition.

They have accepted pain without pay.

They have taken duty without distinction.

Whether they are to be pitied or admired is an open question. I take it on a case-by-case basis.

They hung those damned chevrons on me unofficially for a time. I guess they caught on that I liked my Specialist rank a bit much.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL’s ‘Power Bottom’ — 5 least entertaining teams to watch

Like it or not, the NFL’s ratings are pretty much the same in 2018 when you look at them year over year. The ratings do dip at times, depending on the teams and the time of day. And really, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to spend three hours on a Thursday night watching the Jets and Browns pillow fight — especially because there’s no guarantee that Cleveland will lose every game in spectacular fashion this year.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
That job is taken.

But just because a team wins games doesn’t mean they’re fun to watch. This problem is most evident in college football. I’ve been raised as an Ohio State fan, but that doesn’t make the game exciting. I remember spending Saturday afternoons watching the zoomed-in-completely-yet-still-too-far-away telecast as Ohio State puts 900 points on someone like Dartmouth College. It’s just a boring day when you already know the outcome.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, these are the ones that actually make me wish they were blacked out, just so I could watch a different, interesting game. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Bengals fan — and the only reason the Bengals didn’t make this list is because it’s kind of exciting to see how they’re going to blow their lead every week. Will it be a well-timed fumble? Will they just stop scoring points in the second half? Who knows?


Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship
Or maybe it’s an Andy Dalton pass that does it!

It’s a race to the bottom here, but some other teams deserve a mention, especially the Houston Texans and New York Giants. By the time they played each other, they were both 0-2. Somebody had to stand out, but they sure waited until the fourth quarter to do anything to make anyone care.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

This is the only Bills-related thing I want to see every week.

5. Buffalo Bills

If the Bills were a flavor, they’d be vanilla. Watching the Bills is like opening a Neapolitan Ice Cream box and finding out someone ate the two good flavors and didn’t throw the rest away. Even watching them blow out the Vikings got old after a while. At least the Vikings were fun against the Packers.

It’s hard to believe the Bills gave up two second round picks to get Wyoming’s Josh Allen because they also have nothing for Allen to work with. The team’s sound reasoning is that “he is Buffalo.” Great call. No wonder the Bills’ fans are the best part about the team.

NBC’s Chris Simms was excited for Allen because his Wonderlic intelligence test score was the highest in the league, despite the fact the Wonderlic means nothing. Dan Marino scored a 15 to Allen’s 37, but my guess is the Bills would love to have a Marino. EJ Manuel complained that the Bills didn’t let him grow as a player, and there might be something to that. Many former Bills players saw limited success until they left the organization – Marshawn Lynch, Sammy Watkins, London Fletcher, Ronald Darby, and even all the way back to Antoine Winfield.

The Bills went to the playoffs last year, so obviously they have to change their entire team. You might as well sign Colin Kaepernick, Buffalo. At least it would give people something to talk about — aside from Vontae Davis retiring in the middle of a game.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

(NFL Memes)

4. New England Patriots

They may have gotten their asses handed to them in the Super Bowl last year, but this is still the New England Patriots we’re talking about, right? Right? The most interesting thing that’s happened watching the Patriots in 2018 so far is the look on Dolphins fans’ faces as their 3-0 ‘Fins get annihilated by the person they hate the most for four quarters.

The problem with that game is that the rest of us couldn’t stand to watch New England beat a lifeless Dolphin team. It sure wasn’t fun watching the Pats score two field goals they didn’t need to stay on top of the Texans. Every minute the Patriots have played after halftime of week one has pretty much been garbage time.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

The headline on Chargers.com on October 2nd reads “Philip Rivers Off to Best Start of His Career,” which tells you what it must be like for Chargers fans, waiting 15 years only to have Rivers’ “best start” be 11 touchdowns and a 2-2 record.

3. Los Angeles Chargers

The Bills may be a vanilla team, but if you’re going for consistent blandness year after year, look no further than the Chargers. They’re the plain yogurt of the NFL. As a matter of fact, since the Chargers went 13-3 in 2009, their record has been around 50-50 on average. Of all the teams in the NFL, they’re Charlie Browniest. They’re even at number three on this list.

Charger fans might ask about their recent two-point win over San Francisco, but that only proves my point. Sure, they won by just two points, not only did the Chargers only score field goals in the whole second half, their game-winning field goal was the only one they scored in the fourth quarter and they did it with more than four minutes left on the game clock. The Garoppolo-less 49ers didn’t even get past midfield in their last possessions.

If you thought the Chargers were forgotten in San Diego, remember that LeBron James plays for the Lakers, the Dodgers are in the National League Division Series, and the Rams are f*cking explosive. I’m really not sure why LA wanted the Chargers.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Just leave the ball there. It’s not like you were doing anything with it.

2. Indianapolis Colts

At least the Jets are getting fined for crude touchdown dances. The 1-3 Colts are headed to face New England in what will probably be the game I’m forced to watch in the afternoon on television after I get home from watching fun games at the bar. Which is totally fine, I like a good nap in the afternoon — but even the Indianapolis Star is calling the game a “joke.”

Sure, the Colts lost a squeaker to the Texans in overtime on week four, but you had to sit through three quarters of Colts football to catch that end, so of course no one saw it (unless you were watching the Red Zone). What’s interesting about Colts games? Their kicker. 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri just broke the all-time field goal record after 20 years and four Super Bowls and shows no sign of stopping.

That’s about it.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Larry Fitzgerald, headed to the locker room, probably to call Vontae Davis.

1. Arizona Cardinals

The winless Cardinals are not only the worst team in the league right now, but they’re also the hardest to watch. They didn’t even score a touchdown until week three and even then they didn’t do anything for the rest of the game. They don’t need to win games to be interesting, I mean, watching Cleveland is still fun, even when we’re reasonably sure they aren’t going to win, but at least Cleveland thinks they can.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

That engine is practically in a Browns uniform.

Arizona averages a whopping 9.2 points per game, making the Rams blowout their most interesting game just because we all wanted to see if LA could keep them scoreless while putting up 34 points. A Madden simulation would have been more interesting.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

SEAL boss to depart after 2 years; officials say there’s no indication he was forced out

The Navy admiral who has led the service’s most elite special operators during a string of high-profile scandals will leave his post in September, Military.com has confirmed.


Rear Adm. Collin Green will wrap up his term as head of Naval Special Warfare Command after two years in the position. The move, first reported by The Intercept last weekend, follows several high-profile controversies involving the command that, in part, prompted a full review of U.S. Special Operations Command’s ethics and culture.

A Navy official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the flag officer’s move, said “there is no indication he has been asked to leave early.”

“He’s leaving at the two-year point, which is a normal command tour,” the official said. “It’s premature to say he’s retiring.”

It’s not immediately clear in what position Green would serve next or who would replace him. The Intercept reported that Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III, a Naval Academy grad serving as head of Special Operations Command Central, will be nominated to replace Green.

Howard previously served as a commander with SEAL Team 6, which carries out some of the military’s most covert missions. The Intercept reported in 2017 that Howard gave his operators hand-made hatchets and told them ahead of missions and deployments to “bloody the hatchet.”

Green has led the Navy SEALs since September 2017 after assuming command from Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, who spent two years in the position. Of the last four flag officers who led the command, three left after two years.

Szymanski’s predecessor, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, led the command for more than three years.

The Intercept reported that Green’s tour had been set to last three years, but “the stress from his reform efforts, as well as personal issues, have taken a toll.”

Green sent a letter to his commanders in July telling them “we have a problem,” and ordering leaders to help restore discipline in the ranks. The two-star followed it up the next month with a memo to the force announcing a return to routine inspections, discipline trackers, and strict enforcement of all Navy grooming and uniform standards.

The four-page memo said the problems in the command would be met with “urgent, effective and active leadership.”

“This drift ends now,” Green wrote.

The Navy SEALs have made headlines over murder charges, allegations of rape and drinking in the war zone, and lengthy legal battles.

Some of those incidents caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who at one point ordered Green’s command to “Get back to business!” after the admiral considered stripping a former SEAL of his coveted trident pin.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Marine veteran Dan Duitsman, Camp Valor Outdoors

Previously in episode 152, Borne the Battle’s guest was Denise Loring from Camp Valor Outdoors. She gave a brief overview of the nonprofit, Camp Valor Outdoors – which included the competitive shooting program. Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting team competes in professional matches all over the country.


CMP National Matches at Camp Perry Promo

www.youtube.com

This week’s interview is Dan Duitsman. He is a Marine veteran and Camp Valor Outdoors’ Shooting Sports Program Director. His role is to get disabled veterans into competitive shooting – no matter the disability.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Camp Valor Outdoors Shooting Team at the Civilian Marksmanship Program Nationals, Camp Perry, OH.

(Photo Courtesy of Camp Valor Outdoors Facebook Page)


While in the Marine Corps, Dan worked in security forces, counterintelligence and the infantry. Prior to his role at Camp Valor Outdoors, he was a weapons instructor with the U.S. State Department. In this episode he talked about his career, his transition, the recreational-therapeutic benefits of the shooting and how to get involved in Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting program.

2019-11-20 Full Committee Hearing: Legislative Hearing on HR 3495 and a Draft Bill

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This classic-rock legend is also a top missile-defense expert

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter has earned eight platinum records in a music career that started in the 1960s, and he has received numerous security clearances and contracting jobs since the 1980s as a self-taught expert on missile-defense and counterterrorism.

Baxter was one of many luminaries at the White House on Oct. 11, 2018, to watch President Donald Trump sign the Music Modernization Act, which reforms copyright laws.

Unlike every other musician in the room, including Kid Rock, Baxter has built a successful second career as a defense consultant.


Baxter dropped out of college in Boston in 1969 to join a short-lived psychedelic-rock band. After that, he moved to California and become one of the original six members of Steely Dan, which he left in 1974 to join the Doobie Brothers, which he left in 1979.

Baxter has said he “fell into his second profession almost by accident.”

While living in California in the 1970s, Baxter helped a neighbor dig out their house after a mudslide.

“Afterward, he invited me into his study and I saw all these pictures of airplanes and missiles on the wall — it turned out he was one of the guys who had invented the Sidewinder missile,” Baxter said in a 2013 interview. “As a gift for helping him clean out his house he gave me a subscription to Aviation Week and to Jane’s Defense. It was amazing.”

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

(InnoTown Conference / Youtube)

Baxter found the technical aspects of music and of defense, particularly missile defense, coincided.

“Technology is really neutral. It’s just a question of application,” he told MTV in 2001. “For instance, if TRW came up with a new data compression algorithms for their spy satellites, I could use that same information and apply it for a musical instrument or a hard disc recording unit. So it was just a natural progression.”

He immersed himself in technical journals and defense publications during the 1980s.

“The good news is that I live in America and am something of a, I guess the term is an “autodidact,” he said in 2013, when asked about his formal education. “There’s so much information available. The opportunity for self-education in this country is enormous.”

The big shift came in 1994.

Inspired by a friend’s work on an op-ed about NATO, Baxter sat down and punched out a five-page paper on the Aegis ship-based antiaircraft missile system, arguing it could be converted to a missile-defense system.

“One day, I don’t know what happened. I sat down at my Tandy 200 and wrote this paper about how to convert the Aegis weapon system,” he said in a 2016 speech. “I have no idea. I just did it.”

Baxter, who had recently retired as a reserve police officer in Los Angeles, was already in touch with California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as an adviser. Baxter gave his paper to Rohrabacher.

“Skunk really blew my mind with that report,” Rohrabacher told The Wall Street Journal in 2005. “He was talking over my head half the time, and the fact that he was a rock star who had basically learned it all on his own was mind-boggling.”

Rohrabacher gave the paper to Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, who asked, “Is this guy from Raytheon or Boeing?” according to Baxter.

Rohrabacher replied, “No, he’s a guitar player for the Doobie Brothers.”

Like Rohrabacher, Weldon was struck by Baxter’s prowess. In 1995, he nominated Baxter to chair the Civilian Advisory Board for Ballistic Missile Defense, a congressional panel.

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper, equipped with the Aegis integrated weapons system, launches a missile during an exercise in the Pacific Ocean, July 30, 2009.

(Department of Defense Photo)

“The next thing I knew, I was up to my teeth in national security, mostly in missile defense, but because the pointy end of the missile sometimes is not just nuclear, but chemical, biological or volumetric, I got involved in the terrorism side of things,” Baxter told MTV in 2001.

The appointment to the panel “sort of opened up a door for me to end up working in the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), which then morphed into the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which then morphed into the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),” Baxter said in 2013.

He’s also worked with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and contractors like Northrup Grumman.

“We did some pretty cool stuff,” Baxter said in 2016 of his work on SDI, which President Ronald Reagan first proposed in 1983. “Reagan’s plan was a bit much. It was a plan to drive the Russians nuts, and it worked. They believed what we were doing was real and spent lots of money trying to counter it.”

He was also a hit at the Pentagon.

“Some of these people who are generals now were listening to my music when they were lieutenant colonels or lieutenant commanders, so there was a bond there,” Baxter said in 2001. “But what they realized is that they’re looking for people who think out of the box, who approach a problem with a very different point of view because we’re talking about asymmetrical warfare here.”

Military leaders brought him in to consult, regularly asking him to play the role of the enemy during war games.

“I’m told I make a very good bad guy,” Baxter said in 2005. People who worked with him also told The Journal he could be a self-promoter.

Baxter has kept up his musical work. He became a sought-after session guitarist, working with acts like Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, and Eric Clapton.

In 2004 he flew 230,000 miles to reach all his gigs. That year he also made more money from his defense work than from music.

For his part, Baxter has pointed to his creativity as his biggest asset.

“We thought turntables were for playing records until rappers began to use them as instruments, and we thought airplanes were for carrying passengers until terrorists realized they could be used as missiles,” he said in 2005.

“My big thing is to look at existing technologies and try to see other ways they can be used, which happens in music all the time and happens to be what terrorists are incredibly good at.”

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