The AGM-114 Hellfire has gotten lots of press. Deservedly so, given how it has made a number of prominent terrorists good terrorists. Here’s the Hellfire’s tale of the tape: it weighs 110 pounds, has a 20-pound warhead, and a range of 4.85 nautical miles.
But as good as the Hellfire is, there may be a better missile — and the Brits have it. The missile is called Brimstone, and at the SeaAirSpace 2017 Expo, MBDA was displaying mock-ups on its triple mounts.
The baseline Brimstone has over 100 percent more range (over ten nautical miles, according to the RAF’s web page) than the Hellfire. The longer range is a huge benefit for the aircraft on close-air support missions, outranging many man-portable surface-to-air missiles and even some modern short-range systems like the SA-15.
Three missiles, three small boats — this is a mock-up of a typical triple-mount of the Brimstone missile on display at SeaAirSpace 2017. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)
The Royal Air Force currently uses the Brimstone on the Tornado GR.4 aircraft and also used it on the Harrier GR.9 prior to the jump jet’s retirement. The RAF will introduce it on the Typhoon multi-role fighters and the Reaper drone currently in the inventory. According to a MDBA handout available at SeaAirSpace 2017, Brimstone made its bones over Afghanistan and Libya.
But at SeaAirSpace 2017, MDBA was showing signs of wanting to put the Brimstone on more aircraft. At their booth was a model of an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with four three-round mounts for the Brimstone. Such a pairing could be very devastating to Iranian small boat swarms that have been known to harass United States Navy vessels on multiple occasions or hordes of Russian tanks that could threaten the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
On June 2, 1865, the final Confederate armies officially surrendered, effectively ending the Civil War, which had begun four years earlier on April 12, 1861, when Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln quickly called upon loyal forces to quell the Southern insurrection, which would become the bloodiest war in American history.
While General Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox, Virginia, other Confederate forces remained in the field. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston followed suit and surrendered on April 26, 1865, near Durham Station, North Carolina.
Finally, recognizing the cause as being lost, General Edmund Kirby Smith negotiated the surrender of his forces as well. On June 2, in Galveston, Texas, he signed the surrender before fleeing to Cuba by way of Mexico.
Although a force of Native Americans under Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, didn’t formally surrender until June 23, General Smith’s surrender is considered the official end of the Civil War.
Featured Image: Julian Scott, 1873, Surrender of a Confederate Soldier. (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.)
After colliding with a civilian cargo ship earlier this year, the USS Fitzgerald sustained over $500 million worth of damage to its structure and systems.
Though the Arleigh Burke-class warship was brought back to port at Yokosuka, Japan, it will likely be unable to transit the ocean in its current condition, officials say.
However, as the Navy and its contractors don’t maintain large maintenance facilities and dry docks in Japan capable of carrying out the repairs the Fitzgerald needs, it will have to somehow be delivered to the United States for fixing.
To bring the Fitzgerald home, the Navy will make use of massive heavy-lift ships, designed to hoist smaller vessels onto a platform and carry them across the world’s waterways. The alternate name of these unique ships — float on/float offs (FLO/FLO) — hints at how they’re able to load and carry ships weighing thousands of tons.
To load a vessel aboard a heavy-lift ship, it takes on water into ballast tanks, submerging its main deck area enough that its cargo can be floated into position, sometimes onto a cradle which will keep it stabilized during transport. When its cargo is in place, the ship releases its ballast and is now able to move under its own power.
This won’t be the first time the Navy has had to use a civilian heavy-lift ship to bring one of its own back to American shores.
In 1988, the USS Samuel B. Roberts, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, was struck by an Iranian mine during Operation Earnest Will. The Roberts was marred with a 15-foot gash in its hull, and its engines were rendered inoperable.
To return the Roberts back to the US, the Navy contracted Dutch shipping firm Wijsmuller Transport to the tune of $1.3 million to provide a heavy-lift ship — MV Mighty Servant 2 — that would carry the stricken frigate back to Newport, RI, where further damage assessments would take place.
Years later, in 2000, the USS Cole, another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was damaged on its port side at the waterline during a suicide attack which claimed the lives of 17 sailors and injured 39 more. Though the ship was still afloat in the aftermath of the attack, it was quickly determined that it would not be able to proceed back to mainland America under its own power for repairs.
As such, the Navy contracted a Norwegian company, Offshore Heavy Transport, to sail a heavy-lift vessel to Yemen where the Cole remained after the attack, in order to bring the warship home.
In addition to carting damaged warships around the globe, the Navy’s Military Sealift Command also charters heavy-lift ships to carry its smaller craft to various operating locations in foreign seas, including minesweepers and patrol boats.
A number of these heavy-lift ships are still in service today, save for the Mighty Servant 2, which was lost at sea near Indonesia in 1999. It’s possible that the vessel which brought the Cole back to the United States — the Blue Marlin — could be the same one to return Cole’s sister ship, the Fitzgerald, to America to begin the repair process.
It was recently reported that the move could begin as early as September, depending on when the contract for transport is issued and inked.
On April 26, Kristin Beck hopes to realize a dream of Quixotic proportions. The decorated former Navy SEAL and trans-woman aims to unseat entrenched Democratic incumbent Steny Hoyer in the primary for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District in a long-shot bid for a seat in the House.
But on April 21, five days before the vote, she was working to balance press interviews and campaign efforts with the more prosaic tasks of keeping up the farm she lives on with her wife in southern Maryland — including planning for the delivery of four tons of fertilizer the next day.
Beck, 50, began to live openly as a woman around 2013 after retiring from the Navy in 2011 as a senior chief petty officer. Then called Christopher, Beck earned a Bronze Star with valor device and a Purple Heart over the course of 13 deployments and spent time as a member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six.
Since the publication of a ghostwritten memoir in 2013 and a CNN mini-documentary that followed, Beck has achieved public acclaim as a transgender SEAL, even spending time living out of an RV as she traveled between speaking engagements. This run for Congress, however, is not a bid for more publicity, she said, but an effort to speak for others.
“I’m looking at the political machine and I see it leaving me behind,” she said. “If you’re a little bit different, not that Crackerjack box American, we get left out. I fought to defend every person. I fought for justice for all Americans.”
Rather than being daunted by the prospect of challenging Hoyer, the House minority whip who has held his seat since 1981, Beck said she felt compelled to run because of Hoyer’s very insider status.
On her campaign web site, which Beck runs with the aid of campaign manager Mike Phillips, a Marine veteran, she outlines her stance on no fewer than 71 issues ranging from ending the marriage tax penalty to reforming the Affordable Care Act, of which she is highly critical.
Beck said her campaign is most persuasive with those in her district under the age of 30 and her most effective outreach efforts are on social media, adding that her official Facebook page gets upward of 70,000 hits per week.
And while none of her platforms deals directly with the military, Beck has perspectives on many aspects of defense policy and has been closely watching efforts to open ground combat jobs to female troops. In her thinking on this issue, the tension between her former self as a no-nonsense Navy SEAL and her present efforts to promote openness and opportunity are most visible.
Beck said she absolutely stands by earlier statements that she would like to play a role in training the first female sailors to attempt the newly opened Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) courses. But she would do so, she said, only if Defense Department brass maintained their commitment to keeping the same tough physical standards, regardless of political pressure or how well women fare in the course.
“When I was in the SEAL teams, there were women I had working for me, doing UAV and intelligence work. They weren’t SEALS, but they were direct support to SEALs, doing hardcore work,” Beck said, adding that she believed there were women who were capable of completing SEAL training and thriving in the field.
But, she said, she fears that high attrition rates for women in BUD/S — which she sees as inevitable — will cause lawmakers to put pressure on the military to relax standards or gender-norm them and push more women through.
“We know that women can’t do pull-ups as well as men. If you’re going to have them gender-norm out pull-ups, what are you going to have them do?” Beck said. “The capability and the readiness of the military is so dependent on our physical abilities and how we apply our physical abilities. If you’re going up a ladder on a ship going 20 knots on eight-foot seas, pull-ups are an indication of how well you can do that.”
Of the roughly 1,000 men who attempt BUD/S each year, about 400 make it through, Beck said.
Assuming a much smaller number of female applicants who want to be SEALs and are physically qualified, Beck estimates between two and eight women will make it each year.
But for those who do make it through, Beck said the cultural challenge of entering an all-male career field might not be as daunting as some believe.
“The professionalism and the mission outweighs so many other things,” she said. “I don’t care if you can bench-press 500 pounds, I need you to bench-press 200 pounds, but do it 40 times … that’s professionalism.”
Beck, who served in the Pentagon before retiring, said she still receives invitations to speak with military brass, most recently briefing the chief of naval operations’ strategic studies group earlier this year.
On transgender troops, she advocates better education and a case-specific approach that considers the needs of the service member and the requirements of the military. She advocates, for example, that troops who opt to start living as a different gender be sent to a new duty station for a fresh start, limiting unnecessary confusion. Those who opt to undergo the lengthy process of medical transition, she suggested, might be temporarily assigned to work in a military hospital, where they could remain on duty and keep easy access to therapy and procedures.
“The biggest advice I gave them is, ‘This is going to happen and you can have a knee-jerk reaction or you can be ready for it,’ ” she said.
Beck’s battles with post-traumatic stress disorder have been documented, and she said the greatest need for other veterans with PTSD is a network of local centers that provide a safe community and companionship, outside of an impersonal institution. Veterans, she said, could meet, see movies together, share a drink, or even do physical labor on a farm like hers.
“It will be a mentoring program, a downtown store front, with a coffee pot, a place for vets to go,” she said. “A totally non-traditional program. By vets, for vets.”
For Beck herself, she sees stability, even if her congressional bid fails. She’s working on a feature film and another book now, she said, though she declined to further describe those projects.
And after decades of deployments and upheaval, she has found some permanence.
“I live here on the farm,” she said. “Win or lose, I’m here on the farm anyway.”
Matt Chasen, LIFT Aircraft chief executive officer, pilots the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Hexa over Camp Mabry, Texas, Aug. 20, 2020 Air National Guard photo by Staff. Sgt. Sean Kornegay
The US Air Force wants flying cars, and service leaders recently watched one take flight in Austin, Texas.
On Thursday, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass observed an electric vertical takeoff and landing flight (eVTOL) vehicle demonstration at Camp Mabry, according to an Air Force statement.
Others in attendance were members of the Texas National Guard and AFWERX, an Air Force innovation team.
The demonstration at Camp Mabry featured a Hexa vehicle developed by LIFT Aircraft. The vehicle has 18 independent electric motors and propellers, has floats for amphibious landings, and can be flown without a pilot’s license, according to the website.
Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr., sits in a LIFT Aircraft Hexa aircraft during a visit to Camp Mabry, Texas, Aug. 20, 2020. Air National Guard photo by Staff. Sgt. Sean Kornegay
Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, first announced the service’s interest in “flying cars” last September, and in February, the Air Force issued a request for industry ideas for what the service calls ORBs, which are not traditional military vehicles but could support similar missions.
“An ORB could act as an organic resupply bus for disaster relief teams, an operational readiness bus for improved aircraft availability, and an open requirements bus for a growing diversity of missions,” the solicitation document read.
In April, the Air Force officially launched the Agility Prime program and its search for flying cars. “Now is the perfect time to make Jetsons cars real,” Roper said in a statement.
Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director and Agility Prime lead, said in a statement following the recent demonstration that the flight “marks the first of many demonstrations.”
Diller added that near-term flight tests are “designed to reduce the technical risks and prepare for Agility Prime fielding in 2023.”
When Agility Prime was officially launched in April, the Air Force secretary said: “The thought of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle — a flying car — might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie, but by partnering today with stakeholders across industries and agencies, we can set up the United States for this aerospace phenomenon.”
Roper previously said that the service wants to eventually aquire 30 flying cars. The Air Force said in a recent statement that it has more than 15 leading aircraft manufacturers looking to partner with Agility Prime to develop flying cars for the service.
Two Kurdish peshmerga troops were killed in the attack, and two French special operators were also seriously wounded. One is still in critical condition. Both were whisked away back to France immediately.
Due to the rapid proliferation of drone technology and the fact that component prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, militant groups are quickly adopting drones as a new weapon.
And yet, the use of drones with explosives, much less against Western forces, is uncommon. In many cases, ISIS simply uses drones for surveillance footage to use in propaganda films.
U.S. forces in Iraq now carry the equipment to bring down these kinds of drones, such as a Battelle DroneDefender, which actually doesn’t even use bullets. Rather, the technology works by disrupting the communication line between the drone and its operator.
It’s unclear if France possesses the same counter-drone technology in the field.
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Guam’s first line of defense from an incoming North Korean ballistic missile could very well be MQ-9 Reaper drones. This sounds very counter-intuitive, since ballistic missiles go very fast, and the normal cruising speed of the MQ-9 Reaper is 230 miles per hour.
But according to a report from DefenseOne.com, the secret was not in what the drones could shoot or drop, but instead in what the drones could see. In a June 2016 multi-lateral exercise involving Japan, the United States, and South Korea, two MQ-9 Reapers equipped with Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting System C were able to give Aegis ships armed with SM-3s more precise targeting data on the ballistic missile.
The Missile Defense Agency is hoping to reduce the number of drones needed by adding a targeting laser to the Reaper.
According to the Raytheon web site, the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, or MTS, is a combined electro-optical/infra-red system that also adds a laser designator. Various versions of the MTS have been used on platforms ranging from the C-130 Hercules cargo plane to the MQ-9 Reaper. The United States military has two general versions, the AN/AAS-52, or the MTS-A, and the AN/DAS-1, the MTS-B. The Air Force is also buying another Raytheon MTS system, designating it the AN/DAS-4.
One possibility to improve these airborne eyes could center around a jet-powered version of the Reaper called the Avenger. According to the General Atomics web site, the Avengr has a top speed of 400 nautical miles per hour, and can stay airborne for as many as 20 hours, depending on the version.
The Avenger could have the option of not just watching a launch, but maybe even hitting an enemy missile. According to a 2015 report from BreakingDefense.com, the Avenger could also carry the HELLADS, a high-energy laser system. Earlier this year, the Army tested a high-energy laser on the AH-64 Apache, combined with Raytheon’s MTS.
The missile lifted off at 12:03 a.m. April 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a program to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.
Another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test Dec. 17, 2013 and again on Sep. 5, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)
The 30th Space Wing commander, Col. John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the U.S. nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.
In a Minuteman test, a so-called re-entry vehicle travels more than 4,000 miles downrange to a target at Kwajalein Atoll near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” Moss said. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”
The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.
A hundred years ago in a blinding fog, a U.S. Coast Guard ship was sailing off the coast of Southern California when it smashed into a passenger steamship.
The USCGC McCulloch sank within 35 minutes and lingered on the ocean floor undisturbed by people for a century.
On the 100th anniversary of the vessel’s June 13, 1917, disappearance, the Coast Guard announced that it found the shipwreck — not far from where it went down. And officials plan to leave it there.
Strong currents and an abundance of sediment would make moving the delicate ship too difficult, officials said in detailing the discovery of the San Francisco-based USCGC McCulloch. They also paid tribute to its crews, including two members who died in the line of duty, but not in the crash.
Coast Guard Cmdr. Todd Sokalzuk called the ship “a symbol of hard work and sacrifice of previous generations to serve and protect our nation” and an important piece of history.
The ship sank shortly after hearing a foghorn nearby and then colliding with the SS Governor, a civilian steamship. The McCulloch’s crew was safely rescued and taken aboard the steamship.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coast Guard discovered the wreck last fall during a routine survey.
Researchers focused on the area of the shipwreck 3 miles (5 kilometers) off Point Conception, California, after noticing a flurry of fish. Sunken ships offer a great place for fish to hide. The site is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Commissioned in the late 1800s, the McCulloch first set out to sea during the Spanish-American War as part of Commodore George Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron in the Battle of Manila Bay.
Cutters based in San Francisco in the late 1800s and early 1900s represented American interests throughout the Pacific. They also played important roles in the development of the Western U.S.
After the war, the cutter patrolled the West Coast and later was dispatched to enforce fur seal regulations in the Pribilof Islands off the coast of Alaska, where it also served as a floating courtroom in remote areas.
The archaeological remains, including a 15-inch torpedo tube molded into the bow stem and the top of a bronze 11-foot propeller blade, are draped with white anemones 300 feet (90 meters) below the surface, officials said. A 6-pound gun is still mounted in a platform at the starboard bow.
The Sunray Series is a web series created by a cast of former Royal Marine Commandos. WATM had the opportunity to interview them about their fascinating new series based on some of their life experiences. The gents bring a strong sense of realism and the struggles many veterans go through once getting out of the service. The tagline for the show is, “A collective of former Royal Marines Commandos take the law into their own hands as they struggle to reconcile with their past.” The show is described as, “Set against a backdrop of realistic, fast-paced action, guided by high-quality military drills; SUNRAY, is at it’s core a human story. A three-part serial drama exploring the veteran psyche, SUNRAY challenges the perceptions of mental health and the struggles that soldiers face when re-integrating back into civilian life.”
The series goes into some deep subjects that may be interesting and at times shocking for a viewer. The show follows Andy, who, “after dedicating his entire life to service in the armed forces now struggles to slot back into a world he no longer recognizes. He is now forced to confront the death of his daughter following a fatal encounter with drugs. Hell-bent on finding those responsible and with nothing to lose, a violent criminal underworld unravels in his wake.”
Through the interview with Sammy Seeley, Dan Shepherd and Tip Cullen, they shared their experiences in the Royal Marines, their struggles transitioning from active duty back to civilian life, and where they want to go with their careers. Seeley went into depth with his struggles to transition and how the world of directing and the arts is a place for him to deal with his experiences. Shepherd discussed his experience in the RMC deploying to Afghanistan and training the Afghan National Police. After leaving service, Shepherd fell into photography work and found his passion reignited for the arts. Cullen plays the lead in Sunray as “Andy” and joined the Royal Marines in 1986 after attending college and has been just about every rank in the RMC. He spent 29 years in the Royal Marines before deciding to become an Actor. Cullen studied acting with The Actor’s Wheel Company at Plymouth Marjon University. His first theatre performance was in a Theatre Royal, Plymouth production, Boots at the Door playing the role of “Donny.” He then appeared in a further TR, Plymouth ensemble, 18 at TR2; a dynamic “promenade” play working with an energetic and vibrant group of young actors which received critical acclaim for its spirit and originality.
Watch the trailer here:
Shepherd shared, “I was a Royal Marine for nine years, and being able to document the lives of other military personnel is something that has been my passion ever since I joined. Deploying and having the ability to experience the weird, the wonderful and the surreal, then documenting the human reaction to that through a lens is the ultimate bounty. To develop those stories in a creative and entertaining way with a cast and crew that has lived it enables a level of emotional and tactical authenticity that is immeasurable. SUNRAY is the human element in its rawest form and a production I am proud to be part of.”
Seeley said, “Having studied film, media and drama from a young age I took the next natural step and joined the Royal Marines aged 20 (pretty sure I got lost on the way to film school). Deploying to Afghanistan I found myself in an alien place, in a land of extremes. This inspired me to pick the camera back up and I haven’t put it down since. After specializing as Recce Operator I continued to grow my military knowledge and experience those things in life that money could never buy. Whilst struggling with my own mental health, on the cusp of losing everything, I began to translate my thoughts to paper, a means of therapy to vocalize the demons niggling within. Fifty Post-It notes later I had the framework of a story, 50 days later I had a script and a supportive team that cared about the project as much as me. Dan and James gave me the support I needed, both brimming with integrity, knowledge and individual skill sets that have complimented the progression of the idea to this point.”
Clarke stated, “Having studied Graphics at university and initially wanting to enter a creative industry, the prospect of taking a desk job for the rest of my life prompted a complete change in direction which somehow resulted in joining the Royal Marines. I spent most of my career in the Corps deploying around the globe with 40 Commando being involved in humanitarian operations in the Caribbean to cold-weather training in the Arctic. I found I couldn’t escape the desire for creativity and looked for a way to merge the travel and adventure of the military with a creative output. I enjoy telling human stories and developing narratives into creative mediums for an audience to enjoy. Working closely with Dan and Sam, it’s apparent we all have our own individual strengths, skills, knowledge and operational experience; this diverse skill set enables us to check all boxes and create something that we believe everyone can relate to.”
Internationally, Cullen has appeared in Blindsighted: a response to Oedipus, playing an elder and blinded Oedipus for the duration of this conceptual adaptation of the plays of Sophocles and Senecas. He performed regularly with The Actor’s Wheel Company appearing in numerous pieces including Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, as Antigonus, for a short regional tour which brought him acclaim on both local and national media. During this period he also performed with The Thespis Project in their Plymouth Fringe production The Wrong Side of Prohibition playing a dual role as Senator Jenkins, a corrupt New York politician, and Owney Madden, a New York Gangster. Tip has also been acting for the camera, being directed by several innovative new local directors. His experiments in “big” films have included supporting actor roles in the following major movies: Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle (in a specialist role, directed by Matthew Vaughn, released in summer 2017), Ready Player One (as a 101 Supervisor, directed by Steven Spielberg). More film projects have included the recent Sky series Guerrilla and an episode of Amazon-Channel 4 series Electric Dreams.
View the full interview here:
Featured photo: SUNRAY promotional materials, courtesy of SUNRAY
The MiG-29 may not be the most advanced fighter in the Russian arsenal but it still has all the features it needs to do what it was designed to do: take down American F-16s. Though it may not all the bells and whistles of the newer, more advanced MiG-35, there’s no way you’ll actually be able to fly a MiG-35, short of joining the Russian Air Force.
While that’s probably unlikely for most people reading this, anyone with the cash to spare can actually fly a MiG-29 Fulcrum. All they need to do is bring their money and their flying credentials to Russia.
MiGFlug is a Swiss company founded by two aviation enthusiasts, Philipp Schaer and Flavio Kaufmann. The two traveled the world flying aircraft and they’ve personally selected the planes and options available to pilots and passengers alike. Admittedly, they put together a number of rare and unique options open to people worldwide.
In the United States, licensed, qualified pilots can take a ride in a Skunkworks masterpiece, the F-104 Starfighter. In Europe, you can fly the legendary Hawker Hunter, the MiG-15 or engage in aerial combat with two Czech-built L-39 Albatrosses. The real fun possibilities come in – where else – Russia.
During a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, home of the SOKOL Air Base, $17,000 will buy you a 45-minute ride in the Soviet Union’s most advanced fighter aircraft, the MiG-29. During the flight, trained pilots will take the stick of the aircraft. They will break the sound barrier, perform rolls, loops, Immelmann-turns, vertical ascents and tail slides.
If that sounds intimidating, even for an experienced pilot, that’s because it is. Your vitals will be checked before you climb aboard the aircraft designed to kill F-16 Fighting Falcons. But civilian pilots who’ve never flown fighters before don’t need to be intimidated, an experienced MiG-29 pilot will be there to make sure you don’t die tragically while pushing the plane to its limits.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 entered service in the Soviet Union’s air force in 1982, at a time when the United States was flying not just F-16s, but also F-15 Eagles, F/A-18 Hornets and who knows what other secret aircraft was cooked up at Area 51. The USSR’s answer to these aviation miracles had to be fast, maneuverable and above all, lethal. The MiG-29 had some later variants but wasn’t fully replaced until Russia introduced the MiG-35.
MiGFlug also offers anyone the chance to channel their inner tech billionaire and fly the Mikoyan MiG-29 to the edge of space. In a 50-minute flight, the MiG-29’s pilot will rocket you up 13.4 miles to the very edge of space, where you see the curvature of the Earth at an altitude that only Russian Cosmonauts and Astronauts have ever beaten.
Or if piloting the Soviet Union’s fourth-generation fighter isn’t your thing but you have the right stuff, you can still feel like a pioneer of military aviation by going up in a Soviet-built Ilyushin IL-76 MDK and experience zero gravity. This package includes a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Just bring $7,000 for your solo spaceflight to Zvyozdny Gorodok, north of Moscow. If you have a group of friends, you all can rent out the Ilyushin for just $70,000. You will likely love it, judging by customer comments, but your stomach may feel differently.
Feature image: Vitaly V. Kuzmin/ Wikimedia Commons
Clinicians who are, or becoming, experts in Point of Care Ultrasonography (POCUS) are in awe of a new ultra-portable ultrasound device, the Butterfly IQ.
The Butterfly’s first use in the United States was at VA NY Harbor Healthcare System and at NYU Langone. It is a very lightweight probe that looks like a sleek black electric razor. It plugs into an iPhone.
The user prompts the probe into action and gives it directions with a finger-flick of an app and a tap on individual links that are pre-programmed for screening of the heart, lungs, veins of the legs and other parts of the body.
Squeezing some gel onto the head of the probe, the physician then places the device on a patient’s body in the specific area of concern. For example, it might be placed on the side of the patient’s chest corresponding to the location of the lungs. The interior structure and movement of the lungs then is visualized in real time on the physician’s cell phone screen.
“Most of the time, you can figure out why a patient is having trouble breathing immediately at the bedside without sending the patient for any additional test,” said Dr. Harald Sauthoff.
Dr. Sauthoff considers the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) as his “home”, but he also sees patients on the general medicine wards, where he was using the Butterfly to examine LoRusso, a veteran with lung cancer. Fluid had been drawn and removed the previous day with a needle guided by ultrasound.
Dr. Sauthoff said, “I can still see a lot of fluid around the lung.” The patient was most concerned about not having another tissue biopsy that had been performed some weeks before. Dr. Sauthoff explained that use of the sonogram, unfortunately, might not eliminate the need for another biopsy.
He told the Korean War veteran that taking and testing more fluid might provide enough information to identify and then target the specific type of cancer cells that caused his disease.
Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) is revolutionizing the way physicians examine their patients. Rather than just feeling and listening, physicians can now look into their patients’ bodies often supporting an immediate bedside diagnosis without delay and potentially harmful radiation.
Lightweight, portable, and simple to use, the Butterfly IQ is an enormously attractive clinical tool because it produces precise, high-quality results. The low cost will make it possible for more clinicians to examine their patients using ultrasound at the bedside, carrying an ultrasound probe in their coat next to the stethoscope.
The remaining hurdle for the widespread utilization of POCUS is lack of physician training in this powerful technology. Because most attending physicians are not trained in the use of POCUS, the traditional method of teaching students and residents is ineffective.
For this reason, Dr. Sauthoff has recently created a POCUS teaching course for hospitalist attending physicians across NYU, including VA NY Harbor Healthcare System’s Manhattan Campus. Carrying a Butterfly during their rounds, they are rapidly learning to use this powerful tool, and they will soon help to teach students and residents and change the culture of bedside diagnosis across VA and NYU.
Dr. Sauthoff using the Butterfly was recorded by BBC TV for an online program about innovation called The Disruptors.