The U.S. has been using drones for years, but now that technology has become more available to other nations how will the U.S. protect itself?
Also Read: A Navy F/A-18 Flew Low Over Berkeley, California And People Lost Their Minds
Vice News’ Ryan Faith discusses what the U.S. is doing to counter drones:
Earlier this year, VICE News was one of the first media outlets ever granted access to the US military’s annual Black Dart exercise, a decade-old joint exercise that focuses on detecting, countering, and defeating UAVs.As we watched tens of millions of dollars worth of military equipment go up against $1,000 drones, Black Dart demonstrated the way rapidly evolving drone technology is challenging the military’s most basic assumptions about controlling the air. (One civilian drone maker we visited told us that the technology he has at his fingertips is outpacing some RD efforts at big aerospace contractors.) And so Black Dart continues to encourage innovation in the effort to keep the US military one step ahead in the cat-and-mouse game between drones and drone killers.
The Navy needs to start saving money, and one of the ways it wants to do that is by retiring one of its old Nimitz-class carriers, the USS Harry S. Truman, rather than just overhauling the ship. The Truman is barely halfway through its lifespan. It began its service in 1998, is scheduled for a nuclear refueling in 2024, and set to serve for at least 50 years.
But the plan to retire the carrier is already facing opposition from Congress, despite saving billions of dollars and ensuring the construction of two new Ford-class carriers.
The USS Gerald R. Ford.
Congressional leaders were “blindsided” by the Navy’s decision, especially considering a number of seapower doctrines the move will break, including the minimum force law (yes, it’s a law, 10 U.S. Code § 5062) of maintaining at least 11 aircraft carriers and a call for an increase to 12 carriers. Resistance to the Navy’s plan is already mounting among members of Congress, despite the backing of acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
The arguments for the retirement of the Truman include a – billion savings over the next few decades, increased employment for the building of two new Ford-class carriers, and a 12-carrier Navy. Former seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman questioned the move as it relates to the Navy’s plan of providing two carriers constantly on station with three more able to surge forward.
The USS John C. Stennis, the 7th Nimitz-class carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Retiring the Truman would keep the total force of carriers below the number required for several years, which is what lawmakers are currently concerned about most. The Navy would have a difficult time with its global power projection abilities. Still, Gen. Dunford argued about the wisdom of refueling a 25-year-old ship vs. investing in new technologies that would allow for greater projection of global power and the use of new technologies, such as unmanned vehicles.
But Congress has to deal with the monetary issues of having already purchased the Truman’s new reactor cores and the feasibility of new technologies to be integrated into the Navy’s maritime strike capabilities.
“I don’t think the president’s going to turn to the secretary of defense and say, ‘where are my unmanned surface vessels’ when a conflict breaks out in the world,” said Rep. Elaine Luria. “They’re going to turn and ask, ‘where are my aircraft carriers?'”
In some ways, we know the story of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. It was a dominant fighter plane in the early portion of World War II in the Pacific Theater, only to become an easy target. But how did this happen?
In some ways, the story we know about the Grumman F6F Hellcat isn’t the whole truth. Yes, the discovery of the Akutan Zero helped the United States beat this plane. But MilitaryFactory.com notes that the Hellcat’s first flight was on June 26, 1942 – three weeks after the raid on Dutch Harbor that lead to the fateful crash-landing of the Mitsubishi A6M flown by Tadayoshi Koga.
Less than six months before Pearl Harbor, the Navy signed a contract with Grumman for a replacement for the F4F Wildcat. Feedback from pilots like Butch O’Hare and other encounters lead to the addition of the Wright R-2800 engine. It also was designed with improved landing gear and visibility. Then, America built a lot of these planes – 12,272 of them. Compare that production run to the 187 F-22 Raptors that the Air Force bought!
What the Akutan Zero did, though, was to provide information that let American pilots make the most of the Hellcat’s advantages. History.com described one ace, Marine Captain Kenneth Walsh described how he knew to roll to the right at high speed to lose a Zero on his tail. Walsh would end World War II with 17 kills. The Zero also had trouble in dives, thanks to a bad carburetor (the famous Spitfire also had carburetor problems).
The Hellcat truly brought hell to the Axis in World War II. It notched 5,165 kills over World War II, and was the primary plane that was in the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The Hellcat even saw action in Korea as a guided bomb, and served until the 1960s in some air forces.
The life of a foreign partner nation force member was saved last month through MARSOC’s first operational use of freeze-dried plasma.
The foreign ally sustained life-threatening injuries during an operation in the US Central Command area of operations, requiring battlefield trauma care made possible by MARSOC training and availability of the new product.
According to US Navy Lt. Eric Green, force health protection officer, freeze-dried plasma is providing better medical care on the battlefield. Green is the study coordinator with MARSOC Health Services Support. He explained that freeze-dried plasma is a dehydrated version of plasma that replaces the clotting factors lost in blood. Typically, plasma is frozen and thawed over a period of five days, preventing quick use in a deployed setting.
Another disadvantage of traditional blood products for special operations is the need for additional equipment, such as refrigerators and electricity. This creates a higher target profile for special operations forces (SOF) teams, and presents a logistical challenge for Navy corpsmen. Use of such equipment, as well as timely casualty evacuation options, is not always possible during SOF missions. FDP eliminates the need for this equipment and buys precious time for corpsmen to treat the injured before evacuation.
“I think it reassures Raiders that when they’re in harm’s way, they have a life-saving product in the medical bags of their very capable corpsmen,” said Green.
With the need for freezing and refrigeration eliminated, FDP can sustain a wider range of temperatures and is therefore more stable and reliable than traditional plasma during military operations. The dehydrated state of the plasma allows for a shelf life of two years and is compatible with all blood types. Before MARSOC received approval to begin use of freeze-dried plasma, battlefield treatment options for hemorrhaging – the leading cause of preventable death on the battlefield – were mainly limited to tourniquets and chemical clotting agents.
“It is stable in the field unlike whole blood or if we were to do fresh plasma or frozen plasma, so our guys can carry it with them in their resuscitative packs,” said US Navy Capt. Necia Williams, FDP primary principal investigator and MARSOC force surgeon with MARSOC HSS. “They can quickly reconstitute it, infuse it to somebody, and it buys time that is so critical.”
According to US Navy Lt. Aaron Conway, Marine Raider Regiment surgeon with MARSOC HSS, reconstitution happens within six minutes and patients start showing improvement in vital signs minutes later. The precious time bought using FDP allows medical personnel to transfer patients to a hospital where they can receive full medical care. Conway, MARSOCs FDP principal investigator, said during medical care, FDP’s effects can be physically seen most in a patient when surgery and recovery is happening.
Since December 2016, every MARSOC special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman deploys with a supply of freeze-dried plasma and the experience to administer it. By October 2017, every MARSOC unit deployed will be outfitted with FDP.
Once the FDP has returned unused from a deployment it goes into quarantine and gets used during training exercises to prepare Navy corpsmen in its use. Corpsmen go through a rigorous academic and practical training process to prepare them for the field. They get practical experience before deploying and learn how to reconstitute and identify the indications to use FDP.
“We’ve trained with it, we’ve sourced it to our guys, and now we’ve actually got the combat wounded application of the product,” said Conway. “I think it is a tip of the spear life-saving measure.”
This life-saving measure is manufactured by French Centre de Transfusion Sanguine de Armees and used since 1994. They provide the US with FDP while it is pending Food and Drug Administration approval and is under an Investigative New Drug protocol. Currently the use of FDP has been allowed within US Special Operations Command. MARSOC was the second service component within US Special Operations Command to receive approval for use of freeze-dried plasma.
In 2010, US Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, then-SOCOM commander, learned that US allied forces were using FDP successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan. McRaven wanted it made available to US forces, so he pushed his plan and helped expedite the process between the White House and the FDA.
The main roadblock getting FDA approval was the historical spike of Hepatitis B after World War II, causing the stoppage of production and use by US forces, resulting in rigorous testing and changes to the original formula. Plasma donors now undergo more testing for infectious diseases to prevent similar events. Freeze-dried plasma is expected to receive FDA approval by 2020.
The U.S. military has a lot of great options when it wants to kill the enemy. Some of the world’s best planes, artillery, and helicopters work with ground pounders to dominate lethal operations.
But when it comes to dealing with crowds, the military wants more options. One of its most promising candidates is the Active Denial Technology system, which focuses a beam of energy to heat the target’s skin 1/64 of an inch deep. It creates a sensation of sudden heat and pain, convincing the target to run.
China has been implementing a system that looks something out of George Orwell’s 1984 called a social credit score. Yet, it has been widely accepted across the territories it operates in and applauded by the population. How can something that on paper sounds terrifying be championed by the public? Is it propaganda or does it really work?
You instantly know who will never pay back a loan
It’s hard to trust people, its harder to trust civilians when you’re a vet. We’ve all been burned by a friend or family member who needed money and tugged at our heart strings. So, we came to their aid only to be met with excuses. Now, I’m not talking about those who are genuinely having a hard time and it is hard to say when they will actually be able to pay you back. No, I’m talking about those who willingly misled people with no intention of ever paying you back. There’s a reason they couldn’t go to the bank and you should be able to know why. It’s a loan, not a gift, especially if it’s interest free.
The police can identify criminals easier
Surveillance is not uniquely communist or capitalist. Federal agencies already know everything about you. In the United States, it may not be actively observed by a person but if the need arises to investigate what you’ve been up to, the U.S. Government sure as hell has logs on your data. VPNs and The Onion Router network won’t help you against Uncle Sam. He practically invented the game of surveillance.
Using a system that knows where everyone is at all times is only a threat to criminals. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Contrary to popular belief, Joseph Goebbels did not come up with the phrase, we did. Upton Sinclair used it in 1918 in The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation. The Social Credit System can reduce both violent and white-collar crimes by action or deterrent.
The government will reward you for being a good citizen
Once the person had enacted the “honest” behavior, which happened in all the “positive” reports we analyzed, the narratives ended with a virtue cascade. Take, for example, cases in which individuals found and returned lost property to an owner. Here, all four cases assigned to the topic “return lost property to owner” ended by further attributing “self-discipline”, “helpfulness”, “care-taking for others”, and a “sense of responsibility” to the protagonist as part of a virtue cascade.
University of Munich, How China’s Social Credit System Currently Defines “Good” and “Bad” Behavior
Veterans are a selfless group of people, albeit, not always approachable. We have a moral compass that points true. Veterans have integrity. The public trusts us. Veterans are law abiding citizens, even if we get into mischief from time to time. The Social Credit System rewards people who donate money to charity, return lost items to the police, and engage in selfless acts of heroism. The SCS shows who is trustworthy, honest, and hardworking. Many of the virtues valued by the CSC are virtues that beat inside the hearts of veterans anyway.
You can better gauge if someone is a potential spouse
Divorce rates for military members who have been deployed are higher: It’s 12.52% for those in the U.S. Navy, 8.9% in the Marines, 8.48% in the Army and 14.6% in Air Force, according to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch data.
When I was in Afghanistan, I could only use the satellite phone once a month when it came to the patrol base if we were lucky. I could either call my mother or my girlfriend. They lived together while I was deployed so I could call one and speak to them both. Most deployed troops do not have the luxury of such an arrangement.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of cheating spouses. Some of you reading this may have been victims of disloyal spouses. Looking at your spouse’s Social Credit Score can give you peace of mind. When you see hers plummeting because of immoral behavior, you’re going to know why in real time.
When dating someone and getting to know them you can scan them and see immediately if they’re going to screw you over. Only unethical people would be opposed the system. With a quick scan you can see if your tinder date is just using you to score a meal or if they’re financially independent. A profile on your phone will show you if they’re in soul crushing debt or have a prison record.
You get priority access to privileges and reputable companies
As a model citizen you will get privileges like favorite interest rates on loans, first class travel tickets at better prices, rentals without a deposit and much more financially speaking. For employers, it works better than a background check. For investors, the government will show you how reputable a company is and if they’re operating in good faith. Consumers can avoid companies that are dishonest about their food safety protocols, fraudulent, and downright illegal.
A Social Credit Score is actually a good idea in theory. The system is about trust – but verify.
Combat aviators are conducting operational tests of Army modernization efforts using three UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters.
The UH-60V Black Hawk will retrofit the Army’s remaining UH-60L helicopter fleet’s analog cockpits with a digital cockpit, similar to the UH-60M helicopter.
Retrofitting aircraft that are already owned by the Army is a major cost saving measure over purchasing new builds, according to Mr. Derek Muller, UH-60V IOT Test Officer, with the West Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Aviation Test Directorate.
Muller and his test team worked with aircrews from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade by applying realistic operational missions, post-mission surveys and after action reviews along with onboard video and audio instrumentation to collect data directly from crewmembers.
Instrumentation installed by Redstone Test Center (RTC), Alabama provided audio, video and position data for test team to review after each mission.
“The OTC/RTC partnership has been paramount to the successful testing and evaluation of the UH-60V,” said Muller.
“The data collected during the test will support an independent evaluation by the U.S. Army Evaluation Center,” he added.
Aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and support personnel from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a logistics resupply mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.
(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)
The evaluation will inform a full-rate production decision from the Utility Helicopter Program Office at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
Aircrews flew over 120 hours under realistic battlefield conditions.
They conducted air movement, air assault, external load and casualty evacuation missions under day, night, night-vision goggle, and simulated instrument meteorological modes of flight.
“Anti-aircraft weapon simulation emitters are a valuable training enabler and reinforce much of the Air Mission Survivability training assault aircrews have received with respect to operations in a threat environment,” said Capt. Scott Amarucci, A Co. 2-158 Company Commander.
“This approach permitted evaluators from the U.S. Army Evaluation Center to see and hear how a unit equipped with the UH-60V performed operational missions against a validated threat in a representative combat environment,” said Muller.
“The operational environment designed by USAOTC and 16th CAB helped evaluators accurately assess the company’s ability to complete doctrinal missions, when equipped with the UH-60V,” said Mr. Brian Apgar, Plans Deputy Division Chief of USAOTC AVTD.
Aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade staged at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., prepare the cockpit and conduct final pre-mission checks for a nighttime air assault mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.
(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)
The U.S. Army Center for Countermeasures employed three types of threat simulations to stimulate the aircraft’s survivability equipment and trigger pilot actions using the updated cockpit capabilities.
“The three independent threat simulation systems enhanced the quality of the test and enriched the combat-like environment,” said Muller.
“2-158th aircrews reacted to threat systems they rarely have the opportunity to encounter,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Toby Blackmon, Test Operations Officer in Charge, USAOTC AVTD.
“Using Blue Force Tracking, the test operations cell and Battalion Operations Center tracked and communicated with crews during missions,” he said.
“Each day I hear feedback from the crews about the testing,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Clyde, 2-158 BN Commander. “Each Soldier I talk to is glad to place a fingerprint on a future Army Aviation program.”
Aircrews executed their Mission Essential Task Lists using the UH-60V conducting realistic missions against accredited threat systems.
“The UH-60V training has allowed excellent opportunities to train important tasks which enable our proficiency as assault aviation professionals,” added Amarucci.
In this photo clip of a 360-degree-view, aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and support personnel from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a logistics resupply mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.
(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)
Testing at A Co.’s home station allowed the application of key expertise and resources, provided by the test team, while flying in its routine training environment.
New equipment collective training and operational testing caused A Co. to focus on several critical areas, including mission planning, secure communications, aircraft survivability equipment, and internal/external load operations, improving its overall mission readiness while meeting operational test requirements, according to Muller.
“Moreover,” Muller said, “the test’s rigorous operational tempo provided an ideal opportunity for 2-158th Aviation Regiment to exercise key army battle command systems including, but not limited to, Blue Force Tracker (BFT), secure tactical communications, and mission planning.”
Ground crews from the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) prepared and hooked up sling loads during 18 missions, allowing pilots to see how the UH-60V cockpit displays provided situational awareness while carrying an external load.
“Static load and external load training not only improved unit readiness, but fostered safe operations during day and night missions throughout the test,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Keefer, AVTD’s Test Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge.
Future operational testing will ensure soldiers continue to have a voice in the acquisition process, guaranteeing a quality product prior to fielding.
When the former Soviet Union collapsed, many of the former Soviet republics had sizable stocks of military gear. Much of it ended up being sold at bargain prices around the world. One of the countries that had a large stockpile was Moldova.
According to the NationalInterest.org, the former Soviet republic didn’t have much population. They did have a number of MiG-29s, as well as helicopters, and there was a very big worry that Iran, with its bank accounts bloated with oil money, would seek to bolster its force of MiG-29s. This was bad, but some of Moldova’s MiG-29s had been equipped to deliver tactical nukes.
To prevent this, the United States opened its checkbook. According to a New York Times report in 1997, 21 of Moldova’s MiG-29s – including all of the MiG-29 Fulcrum Cs – were taken apart and shipped to the United States on board cargo planes. Yemen and Eritrea were left to pick over the remainder of the airframes.
After purchase, the MiG-29 were “exploited.” Now, that pervy-sounding term is also somewhat accurate. But really, a lot of what happened with the MiG-29 was a lot of test flights and mock dogfights. In other words, pretty much the standard practice when America gets its hands on enemy gear.
Through that testing, it was discovered that the MiG-29 had its virtues: It was easy to fly. The plane also had the ability to help a pilot recover from vertigo. It had great technology to assist in landings. Not to mention the fact that the AA-11 Archer and its helmet-mounted sight made the Fulcrum a very deadly adversary in a dogfight.
The iconic U-2 spy plane debuted in 1955, and it’s still deployable thanks to a meticulous inspection called the Programmed Depot Maintenance every 4,700 flight hours.
This incredibly complex process requires technicians to disassemble and strip the paint off the entire plane to analyze every part and make repairs. Over 1,800 individual parts are removed and revised and 40,000 rivets inspected. After completion, the aircraft is reassembled and repainted before returning to the flight line.
For a plane that’s flown over the Soviet Union, Cuba, Korea and other places around the world since its secret introduction to the inventory, it has proven its worth. The Air Force keeps 33 of them on standby and plans to keep it flying until at least 2019.
This time lapse video from Sploid shows the entire process in under two minutes:
Special operations personnel are often assigned missions in places where support is hard to come by. Expeditionary Support Bases, like the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) and sister ships, are, in essence, mobile bases, make it easier to bring support within range of troops in austere environments. However, supplies are limited; the United States Navy has just the Puller, with two sisters under construction.
Furthermore, these ships are large and lightly armed, making them vulnerable. The good news is that there may be an option to give more special ops personnel support — and the answer is a combination of two ships already in Navy service.
USS Independence (LCS 2), whose trimaran hull is the basis for Austal’s proposed Special Operations Support Vessel.
(U.S. Navy photo by Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos)
Austal is offering a Special Operations Support Ship. This concept vessel takes the trimaran hull used by Independence-class littoral combat ships and combines it with features from the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport, like a stern ramp and the ability to haul vehicles and troops around.
The model showcased at the 2018 SeaAirSpace Expo at National Harbor, Maryland showed a potent armament suite for this vessel. It included two quad launchers for anti-ship missiles, like the RGM-84 Harpoon or the Kongsberg NSM, as well as a turreted gun forward and a launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile.
Elements of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transports would be incorporated with the Independence-class littoral combat ship’s trimaran hull to make the Special Operations Support Vessel.
This Special Operations Support vessel also maintains the ability to operate a helicopter at least the size of a MH-60S Seahawk, which would not only allow it to insert special ops troops, but to also fire AGM-114 Hellfire anti-ship missiles. Even though the Navy is buying large expeditionary support bases, when it comes to supporting special operations forces in the future, deploying several little ships instead of something large may be the answer.
As the U.S. starts to forward-deploy more of its F-35 Lightning, China and Russia have been putting the finishing touches on their own batches of fifth-generation aircraft — and they all express vastly different ideas about what the future of air combat will look like.
For the U.S., stealth and sophisticated networks define its vision for the future of air combat with the F-22 and F-35.
For China, the plan is to use range to take out high-value targets with the J-20.
For Russia, the PAK-FA shows that it seems to think dogfighting isn’t dead.
Here’s how the F-35 stacks up to the competition.
The F-35 Lightning II
An F-35B begins its short takeoff from the USS America with an external weapons load. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
The U.S.’s F-35 isn’t an airplane — it’s three airplanes.
And it isn’t a fighter — it’s “flying sensor-shooters that have the ability to act as information nodes in a combat cloud universe made up of platforms, not just airborne, but also operating at sea and on land that can be networked together,” retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told Defense Aerospace Report in November.
In a discussion with four F-35 pilots that was also produced by Defense Aerospace Report, a clear consensus emerged: The difference between an F-35 and an F-15 is like the difference between an iPhone and a corded wall phone. Phones of the past might have had crystal-clear call quality and the ability to conference call, but the iPhone brought with it unprecedented networking and computing capability that has changed life as we know it.
That said, the F-35 doesn’t offer any significant upgrades in range, weapons payload, or dogfighting ability over legacy aircraft, while its competition does.
The Chengdu J-20
China’s Chengdu J-20 has one thing in common with the F-35 — it’s not a fighter.
Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Business Insider that the J-20 is “not a fighter, but an interceptor and a strike aircraft” that doesn’t seek to contend with U.S. jets in air-to-air battles.
Instead, “the Chinese are recognizing they can attack critical airborne support systems like AWACS” — airborne early-warning and control systems — “and refueling planes so they can’t do their job,” Davis said. “If you can force the tankers back, then the F-35s and other platforms aren’t sufficient because they can’t reach their target.”
On the J-20’s stealth, a senior U.S. low-observable-aircraft design engineer working in the industry told Business Insider that “the J-20 has many features copied from U.S. fifth-gen aircraft; however, it’s apparent from looking at many pictures of the aircraft that the designers don’t fully understand all the concepts of LO” — low-observable, or stealth — “design.”
The real danger of China’s J-20 lies not with its ability to fight against U.S. fighters, but with its laserlike focus on destroying the slower, unarmed planes that support U.S. fighters with its long range and long-range missiles, thereby keeping them out of fighting range.
Shenyang J-31 (F60) at the 2014 Zhuhai Air Show. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
China’s J-31 looks a lot like the F-35, and one Chinese national has pleaded guilty to stealing confidential information about the F-35 program.
That said, the J-31 suffers from China’s inferior composite-materials technology and its inability to build planes in the precise way a stealth airplane needs to be built. Additionally, there’s reason to suspect the avionics in the Chinese programs significantly lag the F-35.
But the J-31, like the J-20, still poses a significant threat because China has developed long-range missiles, which combined with their ground-based radars and radar sites in the South China Sea could potentially pick off U.S. stealth aircraft before the F-35s and F-22s could fire back.
Davis told Business Insider that the J-31 doesn’t just seek to compete with the U.S. militarily, but that the J-31 “very clearly is an F-35 competitor in a commercial sense.” Nations that weren’t invited to participate in the F-35 program may seek to buy China’s cheaper and somewhat comparable J-31.
A fleet of J-31s in the hands of Iran, for example, could pose a serious threat to U.S. interests abroad.
The PAK-FA/T-50. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)
Russia’s PAK-FA, also known as the T-50, has been criticized as being fifth-generation “in name only,” but as Russia proves time and time again, it doesn’t need the best and most expensive technology to pose a real threat to U.S. aircraft.
The PAK-FA’s greatest failure is in the stealth arena. While the PAK-FA has some stealth from the front angle, “it’s a dirty aircraft,” said a person who helps build stealth aircraft, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the work.
But stealth represents just one aspect of air combat, and the Russians have considerable counterstealth technologies. So while the PAK-FA fails to deliver the stealth or total networking capacity of the F-35, it is a fighter — and a damn good one.
The U.S.’s F-22 has 2D thrust-vectoring nozzles at the engines and is the most agile plane the U.S. has ever built. The PAK-FA has 3D thrust-vectoring nozzles and is even more agile.
Additionally, the PAK-FA can be armed to the teeth with infrared missiles that focus on heat and ignore the U.S.’s stealth. So while the U.S.’s fifth generation hinges on controlling the battle from range and at the jump-off point, Russia’s PAK-FA seems to focus on close-up fights, which the designers of the F-35 didn’t concentrate on.
The first F-35 to arrive at the 33rd Fighter Wing was on display during the aircraft’s official rollout ceremony on August 26 at Eglin Air Force Base. (The first F-35 to arrive at the 33rd Fighter Wing was on display during the aircraft’s official rollout ceremony on August 26 at Eglin Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)
China and Russia have both shown the world something new in their fifth-generation aircraft. No longer will these rising powers look to advance the capabilities they currently have — they will actively seek to enter new areas of aerial combat.
Both Russian and Chinese entries seem to focus on key weak points in the U.S.’s force structure by using specialized aircraft.
But the U.S. doesn’t specialize. The F-35 does everything well and seeks the informational high ground with massive computing power, all-aspect stealth, and the ability to network with almost every set of eyes and ears in the U.S. military.
The F-35 has limited range and ability for close combat, but unlike the Chinese and Russian fifth-gens that try to score kills on their own, the F-35 plays like a quarterback, sending targeting information to any platform available.
As the F-35 software develops, pilots will be free to take on more demanding missions, but China’s and Russia’s fifth-gens will still be confined to relatively narrow ones.
To observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing took 3 F-15 Eagles and gave them incredible paint jobs, reminiscent of the colorful and squadron-specific adornments featured on American fighters during the Second World War.
One jet from each of the 48th’s fast mover units — the 492d, the 493d, and the 494th Fighter Squadrons — was briefly pulled from service to be spruced up with a custom color scheme selected by members of the 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron.
Both the 492d “Madhatters” and the 494th “Panthers” fly F-15E Strike Eagles, the Air Force’s premier all-weather multirole strike fighter, while the 493d “Grim Reapers” flies the F-15C/D Eagle.
An F-15E Strike Eagle of the 492d Fighter Squadron in WWII paint (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
The first jet to receive the planned makeover is a Strike Eagle of the 492d, painted with “invasion stripes” used to distinguish friendly Allied from enemy Axis aircraft, a red checkerboard pattern on the nose similar to those found on WWII-era P-47 Thunderbolts, as well as a Statue of Liberty on the vertical stabilizers.
According to Stars Stripes, the repaint operation on a single F-15 took 640 man hours, spread between 10 airmen, and required just around ,000 worth of supplies to complete.
The 48th Fighter Wing is one of a number of modern American fighter units which can trace its lineage back to the Second World War. Back during the 1940s, the unit was officially designated the 48th Fighter Group, and its subordinate squadrons played an important part in Operation Overlord.
The repainted 492d F-15E parked next to a P-47 with its period-accurate WWII scheme (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
On June 6, 1944, the 48th’s three squadrons of P-47s took to the skies above Normandy, France as part of a larger flight of hundreds upon hundreds of other Allied combat aircraft. In the blistering aerial campaign that ensued, the 48th’s pilots flew over 2000 sorties, attacking scores of German military targets in support of the ground invasion force.
By the end of the invasion, the 48th had expended almost 500 tons of bombs, destroying German supply routes including bridges and rail lines, gun and artillery emplacements, and hardened German infantry positions.
The P-47s, popularly known as “Jugs” because they looked similar to a milk jug at the time, were fearsome fighter-bombers in their heyday. The Eagles and Strike Eagles that the 48th flies today would be just as worthy of carrying the same markings as their predecessors, serving as some of the most advanced and deadliest military aircraft in existence today.
The repainted F-15s will be just one of many upcoming segments the 48th will use to commemorate D-Day, which historians unequivocally agree was the turning point in the European Theater during WWII.
Dealing with computer problems and other technical failures is just one of the many joys of being in communications. Being trained to work with computers and radios often means that the commo guy becomes the go-to person for any and all computer-related problems, even outside of work.
Of all the problems that a commo guy will deal with, most stem from the continual pain-in-the-ass that is time. There are many ways to reduce the strain put on consumer goods, but Father Time remains undefeated. Eventually, there will be a point in the lifetime of any device where they become obsolete — and we’re not saying that something’s useless compared to the “newer, bigger, better” models out there — things just degrade. It happens.
Some companies (we’re not naming names) are known for their products losing juice over time. That’s how they sell yearly releases of the same product.
(Photo by Marco Verch)
Now, to avoid losing people to technical jargon, we’re going to break things down to their simplest forms — Barney style — when explaining technology. Just know that there’s almost always (read: almost) a valid, technical reason for a product aging into degradation.
The biggest tech aspect affected by Father Time is power supply. Back in the day, larger power supplies and batteries could seemingly last an eternity (by today’s standards). The Nokia 3310, for example, could run for weeks on a single charge, so you’d expect technology would just improve on that, right?
Well, no. Consumer demand drove companies to adopt faster and slimmer batteries to power phones that have more capabilities than ever. While most companies do try to include the most powerful available battery in a product, lithium-ion batteries have an average life cycle of 1200 full charges. Once they’ve been depleted and charged up around 400 times, the maximum charge is roughly 80% of the original capacity. From there, it gets exponentially worse if you allow your batteries to drain to 0% on a constant basis.
One of the many benefits of owning a desktop over a laptop computer.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Caleb Vance)
Another aspect is performance. To sum it up broadly, this is what’s really happening when a not-so-tech-savvy person says their computer is “running slower.” Think of your computer as a pack mule: The more you use it (like installing programs, downloading files, visiting websites), the more stress you put on it.
Your once-beautiful darling that could once stream videos at lightning speeds now has all of that baggage weighing it down. This is also broken down into two different categories of problem: either you don’t have enough RAM (Random Access Memory) to juggle all the tasks you’re giving it (active or passively) or you don’t have enough hard-drive space for all the crap you’re asking it to carry.
Thankfully, both of those have really easy-to-solve solutions: upgrading parts. If your computer can be cracked open, it’s far cheaper to slap in a new stick of RAM than it is to buy an entirely new computer. Adding new hard-drives is even easier.
All that tech and some people still just use it for the games.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski)
But it’s not always a result of overuse. If you were to take a fresh computer that has been sealed since 1999 out of the box — never downloaded anything, battery has never been drained, or hooked up to the internet — it still wouldn’t perform to today’s standards.
In 1999, the tech world was blown away by the IBM Microdrive when it was announced that it came with a whopping 340 MB of storage. This was around the same time it took the entire night of downloading just to watch a two-minute trailer of Star Wars: Episode I using dial-up internet.
It should go without saying that technology has become exponentially better over time. Now, you can just pick up that 512GB microSD card (that’s about the size of a toenail) and watch the entire Star Wars series from your smartphone from almost anywhere in the world, streaming video in real-time. What was groundbreaking then isn’t even comparable to just a few years later — your device isn’t just getting worse slowly, everything else is also getting better.
You don’t need to buy something that will last forever. Just for a while.
Sure, it sounds grim, but you can still do many different things to maximize your computer and phone’s lifespan. If you care for your technology and aren’t constantly using it, it’ll see a few more years of use. But there will be a point where your tech just isn’t good enough to get by.
When you’re planning your next tech purchase, keep lifespan in mind. The cheaper option may end up costing you more money over time. Why buy a 0 “meh, it’ll do” laptop and watch it careen into obsolescence in 12 months when a 00 beast of a desktop could last you several years?
So, if your computer or cell phone that’s been doing its duty just fine for the last six years starts hobbling on its last legs, don’t be shocked when your computer friend tells you it’s time to put it out to pasture.