Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Before the advent of stealth aircraft, the U.S. military had a very different approach on how to operate its planes in contested airspace. That approach could be summarized in two words:

Brute force.

In those early years of air defense system development, the U.S. was less interested in developing sneaky aircraft and more concerned with developing untouchable ones– utilizing platforms that leveraged high altitude, high speed, or both to beat out air defenses of all sorts — whether we’re talking surface to air missiles or even air superiority fighters.


Lockheed’s legendary Kelly Johnson, designer of just about every badass aircraft you can imagine from the C-130 to the U-2 Spy Plane, was the Pentagon’s go-to guy when it came to designing platforms that could evade interception through speed and altitude. His U-2 Spy Plane, designed and built on a shoestring budget and in a span of just a few months, first proved the concept of flying above enemy defenses, but then America needed something that could also outrun anything Russia could throw its way. The result was the Blackbird family of jets, including the operational SR-71 — an aircraft that remains the fastest operational military plane ever to take to the sky.

You could make a list of 1000 amazing facts about the SR-71 without breaking a sweat — but here are three even a few aviation nerds may not have of heard before:

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

USAF

The Blackbird had over 4,000 missiles fired at it. None ever hit their target.

The SR-71 Blackbird remained in operational service as a high speed, high altitude surveillance platform for 34 years — flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3 at altitudes of around 80,000 feet. This combination of speed and altitude made it all but untouchable to enemy anti-air missiles, so even when a nation knew that there was an SR-71 flying in their airspace, there was next to nothing it could do about it. According to Air Force data collected through pilot reports and other intelligence sources more than 4,000 missiles were fired at the SR-71 during its operational flights, but none ever managed to actually catch the fast-moving platform.

Its windshield gets so hot it had to be made of quartz.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

i1.wp.com

Flying at such high speeds and altitudes puts incredible strain on the aircraft and its occupants, which forced Lockheed to find creative solutions to problems as they arose. One such problem was the immense amount of heat — often higher than 600 degrees Fahrenheit — that the windshield of the SR-71 would experience at top speeds. Designers ultimately decided that using quartz for the windshield was the best way to prevent any blur or window distortion under these conditions, so they ultrasonically fused the quartz to the aircraft’s titanium hull.

The SR-71 was the last major military aircraft to be designed using a ‘slide rule.’

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

USAF

There are countless incredible facts about the SR-71 that would warrant a place on this list, but this is one of the few facts that pertains specifically to the incredible people tasked with developing it. Not long after the SR-71 took to the sky, the most difficult mathematical aspects of aircraft design were handed off to computers that could crunch the numbers more quickly and reliably — but that wasn’t the case for the Blackbird. Kelly Johnson and his team used their “slide rules,” which were basically just specialized rulers with a slide that designers could use to aid them in their calculations in designing the mighty Blackbird. Years later, the aircraft was reviewed using modern aviation design computers only to reveal that the machines would not have suggested any changes to the design.

Just for fun, here’s Major Brian Shul’s incredible “Speed Check” story about flying the Blackbird.

Major Brian Shul, USAF (Ret.) SR-71 Blackbird ‘Speed Check’

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why an airman had to shoot down his own plane – while flying it

At the height of the Korean War, Air Force pilot A.J. D’Amario was on his first solo flight since arriving in country. Luckily for him, it wasn’t a combat mission, he was just on a routine sortie to “have fun boring holes in the sky.” Things got a lot more interesting for D’Amario immediately upon taking off. He would have to put a few rounds from his sidearm in the plane before he could bring it down.


D’Amario’s P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter wasn’t the latest and greatest plane, but it was still a good fighter to have. He would have to get used to it. The MiG-15 was tearing through P-80 Fighters, but there weren’t yet enough F-86 Sabres to go around. Still, the P-80 held its own: the first American jet-to-jet kill was made behind the stick of a Shooting Star. None of that was on D’Amario’s mind as he shot up into the wild blue yonder. He was more concerned about his left fuel tank. It felt heavy – it wasn’t feeding fuel to the engine.

He wanted to land immediately, but that much fuel was a no-go for the Korean War-era U.S. Air Force. The tower at Suwan, Korea, wasn’t about to have a melted runway if that much jet fuel caught fire on the flightline. They told him to dump his tanks at a bomb range and then come back.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

D’Amario retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Col.

(U.S. Air Force)

The young pilot flew over to the range, and as soon as he came upon his target area, he flipped the switches for the bomb release. Unfortunately, nothing happened. D’Amario’s P-80 Shooting Star was still carrying the heavy tanks of dangerous fuel and had no way of dumping the tanks, feeding the engine, or landing. He did what anyone who’s felt enough frustration with malfunctioning equipment wanted to do: he shot it.

But that wasn’t his first reaction. He made a few bombing runs, trying to release the left tank at every turn. He even once hit the plane’s “panic button” – the button that released everything attached to the fuselage. It did dump everything, everything except his errant fuel tank, full of fiery death. The tower told him he was cleared to bail out. The only problem with that is that bailing out comes with its own potential consequences. The loss of the aircraft is a definite consequence.

“… pilots really hate to punch out of a perfectly flyable airplane,” D’Amario later wrote, “And I figured I still had one option worth trying.”

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

U.S. Air Force P-80 Shooting Stars with drop tanks.

(Lockheed)

That’s when the pilot opened the canopy of his jet aircraft (which he did slow down to 220 miles per hour) and pulled out his issued sidearm, a Colt M1911, and fired at the very full, very malfunctioning fuel tank.

“… liquid fuel will not burn,” D’Amario writes. “At least not like vapors, so I aimed for the part of the tank I was sure would be full of liquid.”

D’Amario fired four shots at the tank. The first shot was to understand just where to shoot to hit the tank while flying at 220 miles per hour. The next three rounds punctured the tank and went through the other side. It worked: the P-80 was still flying, and liquid fuel was pouring out of the left tank. Best of all, D’Amario and his Shooting Star did not become a real-life burning streak across the sky.

He was able to drain the tank and make a “routine” landing a half-hour later, convinced he was the only USAF pilot to shoot his own plane when it malfunctioned.

“Thank goodness for my .45,” he wrote.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the Russian Revolution brought the father of the helicopter to America

Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky was designing bombers for the Russian Empire when World War I broke out. Nowadays, the company he founded in the United States makes the “choppers” that transport U.S. presidents. This is the story of how the “father of the helicopter” crossed the Atlantic and made it big — before designing the first aircraft to make regular flights across the major oceans.


 

MIGHTY TRENDING

The first US-North Korea talks in years could happen by May

President Donald Trump gave a timeline for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and appeared to be optimistic for a positive outcome.

“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June 2018, and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump said on April 9, 2018, according to Reuters.


“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump continued. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”

On April 8, 2018, a US official confirmed that North Korea was willing to discuss the subject of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird
North Korean leaderu00a0Kim Jong Un.
(KCNA)

The CIA has reportedly been in communication with representatives from North Korea, setting up backchannels, according to multiple news reports. Officials from the two countries were reportedly communicating with the intent to establish an appropriate venue for the talks and other details ahead of the summit.

Trump’s statement comes amid North Korean state-sponsored media’s acknowledgement of the bilateral talks.

The two Korean leaders are set to hold their own historic summit on April 27, 2018, the first in 11 years, between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Memphis Belle: The legendary B-17 flying fortress

The “Memphis Belle” a B-17F Flying Fortress of the Eighth Air Force would become the most famous of the 12,750 B-17s produced by Boeing during World War II. The plane and her crew would become immortalized, first by the Army who filmed her crew for a documentary prior to a War Bond tour and later by Hollywood who made a fictionalized feature film on the exploits of her crew.

The casualty rates were so high, that the United States put a 25-mission limit on crews. If a crew flew 25 combat missions and survived, they were rotated back to the states. But none of the crews were surviving that long. The Memphis Belle was one of the first to do so.

Background

The air war for the United States in 1942 and early 1943 was a bloody affair. The United States had entered the war just months before, and Britain decided to pressure the German war machine by bombing it around the clock. The British would bomb at night, the Americans by day.

The Allies didn’t yet have fighters that had the range to escort the bombers to their targets and back. The German Luftwaffe was a formidable adversary with very experienced fighter crews. The German anti-aircraft artillery which they called “Flak” was accurate and plentiful.

In the early days of daylight bombing, the Germans exacted a terrible toll on the new American formations. Casualty rates were appalling. It was here that Captain Robert Morgan and his crew would step into the war.

B-17F 10-BO, manufacturer’s serial number 3470, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAF inventory on July 15, 1942, and delivered in September 1942 to the 91st Bombardment Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine. The aircraft was deployed to Prestwick, Scotland, on September 30, 1942,  and stationed at a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on October 1, and then finally to her permanent base at RAF Bassingbourn, England, on the 14th of October.

The marking on the sides of the fuselage bore the unit and aircraft identification markings of a B-17 of the 324th Bomb Squadron (Heavy); the squadron code “DF” and individual aircraft letter “A.”Read Next: The Eighth Air Force, “The Mighty Eighth” Was Born on This Day 1942

Morgan decided to name the plane after his sweetheart back home, a woman named Margaret Polk from Memphis, TN. Originally the plane would be named after Morgan’s nickname for Polk, which was “Little One” but after he and co-pilot Jim Vennis saw a film where the main character had a riverboat named the “Memphis Belle”, the name stuck. Morgan brought it up to the crew and they voted for it.

The drawing on the fuselage was from a pinup by artist George Petty that was in Esquire magazine in April of 1941 issue. Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl pinup on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her bathing suit in blue on the aircraft’s port side and in red on the starboard. The Memphis Belle was born.

Air War Over Europe

Morgan and his crew flew their first mission over Europe on November 7, 1942, at Brest, France. The command of the American Air Forces and the Pentagon set the incentive of 25 missions for crews to reach to be rotated back to the United States. But no one was reaching that threshold. Casualties among the bomber crews in those early dark days were at 80 percent.

In interviews much later, Morgan summed up the horror of the early days of the airwar in describing the awful casualties suffered by American aircrews in the first days of the bombing campaign.

“Eighty-percent losses means you have breakfast with 10 men and dinner with only two of them.”

Memphis Belle had her share of difficult scrapes with German fighter planes and flak and on five different occasions had an engine shot out. Another time, a diving German Focke Wulf  Fw-190 came straight at the plane and riddled the tail with holes setting it on fire. After the fire was out, Morgan climbed back into the tail to survey the damage.

His comments, captured by History.net tell of the difficulty he had in bringing the ship back safely. “It looked like we had no tail at all,” Morgan said. “I got back in the cockpit and flew back to the base in two hours. It was tough flying, and tougher than that to set her down. The elevators were damaged so badly that the controls jammed. Somehow we managed to get down safely.”

The American bomb groups were taking on tough, well-defended targets including the Focke Wulf plant at Bremen, locks and submarine pens at St. Nazaire and Brest, docks, and shipbuilding installations at Wilhelmshaven, railroad yards at Rouen, submarine pens and powerhouses at Lorient and aircraft factories at Antwerp.Read Next: The Australian Army Chief Got it Wrong…Bring Back the Punisher

During her 25 missions, Memphis Belle gunners were credited with shooting down eight German fighters with another five probable kills. They damaged 12 more fighters and dropped over 60 tons of bombs on the German war machine.

After their 25th mission, the crew which had been the subject of a war documentary by Hollywood director William Wyler, the crew was rotated home on a 31-city war bond tour. The men were treated as heroes wherever they stopped. Only one female was ever allowed to fly with the Belle. Stuka, a Scottish terrier bought by co-pilot Jim Vennis in England accompanied the crew and was spoiled with the rest of the crew.

One of the stops was in Memphis where Polk was in attendance, although interestingly enough the two never did marry but did remain life-long friends. Morgan put on a stunt at his own hometown of Asheville, NC where he flew the Fortress down the main drag in town and turned it between two large buildings on its side.

General Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave Morgan the choice of any assignment he wanted. He chose to transition to B-29 bombers and bomb the Japanese. He took part in the first raid on Tokyo in November of 1944. After flying 50 missions he was sent home for good. He remained in the Air Force and retired as a Colonel.

Memphis Belle Not the First to Complete 25 Missions

Unlike the feature film that came out in 1990, the Belle was not the first plane to fly 25 missions in Europe. That distinction belonged to Captain Irl Baldwin of the 303rd Bomb Group and the plane “Hell’s Angels” named after a Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow film from back in the day. Baldwin completed his 25 missions a week before Morgan did. Memphis Belle was the first to complete 25 missions and return to the United States. Baldwin and his crew would go on to fly 48 missions before returning to the U.S. for their own bond tour in 1944.

I met Baldwin at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, GA a few years before he passed away. And in talking to him, you got a great sense of how difficult life was for those bomber crews over Europe.

Asked which was worse, the fighters or flak he smiled and answered…”Yes!” He said, “it didn’t matter how large the group was when those German fighters were coming head-on into the group, you’d swear to God every one of them was firing at you.”

He added, “Once they’d open up it looked like they were winking at you and the next thing was those cannon shells ripping past.”

I asked how he managed to survive 48 missions where so many didn’t last long at all.

“Some of it is pure luck,” he said. “There is nothing you can do about flak and those German gunners were good. They’d get your range and it looked like you could walk from burst to burst with touching thin air.”

“But the other thing we learned right away was that we had to be better pilots. The only way we could survive the fighters was fly wingtip to wingtip. That way all of our guns could be trained as one. If the Germans could get in between the bombers of the group, and they were some great pilots, they’d cut you to pieces.”

Baldwin too transitioned to B-29s after his War Bond tour. But he never got the chance to fly in combat over Japan. “Right after I got there, we dropped the bomb,” he said with a shrug. “I got there a few days too late.”

Asked why he’d volunteer after already flying so many combat missions, he shrugged again. “We were at war and I felt I was better suited for it than other guys.”

“Besides,” he added, “ I figured the Germans were the best we’d go against. If they couldn’t get me I didn’t think the Japs could.”

This article was originally published on May 17th, 2020.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What it was like to be raided by the Vikings

They were some of the most feared and lethal warriors of their time, Scandinavian raiders who were experts in navigation and mobility, armed with iron weapons and advanced tactics, who would bear down on other European settlements for loot and pillage. Vikings were terrifying for all those not protected by high walls or standing armies.


For victims of these raids, death could come quickly and with little warning. The Vikings would raid deep inland by taking their longboats upriver, meaning that death could always be lurking just around the next bend. Towns on the coast were more likely to be raided, but they could at least see ships approaching on the horizon.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Viking shield walls provided plenty of defense while allowing the raiders to use their swords, spears, and axes over the top.

(Wyrdlight.com, CC BY 3.0)

Since Vikings could barrel down at around 10-11 knots, though, that only gave them an hour of warning, Not long enough to marshal a defending force, but long enough to crap yourself once or twice and maybe say a few confessions.

Smart victims would then cower and hide, allowing the village to be plundered without resistance or they might even drag valuables out and buy off the Vikings. This might sound like cowardice, but the Vikings were professional raiders who worked hard to ensure that they had the upper hand, partially through reconnaissance.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

The Battle of Stiklestad was fought between Norse kingdoms.

(Peter Nicolai Arbo)

Yeah, by the time you saw the Vikings, they probably already had a whole dossier on you, complete with whatever it is you did with those kind ladies in the expensive inn.

The Vikings actually took plenty of time to conduct quiet observation when they could before a raid, making sure there weren’t a bunch of enemy warriors that happened to be in town. Once they were sure it was just you and a few farmers and craftsmen around, they would launch their attack, keeping their men in tight formation and eradicating serious resistance before it could prepare.

This was made all the easier for the Vikings by how they organized their forces, employing ranged and melee attacks. Yeah, the Vikings basically had a combined arms team. They rarely had cavalry, though.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Re-enactors pour off of a longboat during a simulated raid.

(YouTube/Grimfrost)

Viking raiders carried personal weapons and weapons provided by their magnate, a sort of chieftain. Younger and poorer raiders would usually carry an ax from home or a hunting spear, weapons made with mostly wood and a little iron. Shields, made of wood, were easy to get as well. Bows were relatively rare, but available.

Richer or more established raiders were likely to carry a sword and might even have chain mail or other iron armor, making them extremely challenging to kill for startled farmers in England or France.

Archers and spear men would engage any brave defenders as soon as they got into range, and swordsmen and raiders equipped with axes would charge forward with shields for protection.

So, yeah, unless the Vikings stumbled into a fight with the king’s army because of some bad intel gathering, they were going to win. Every once in a while, they’d do something bold like besiege Paris, and even then they’d usually win, because, again, great intelligence and professional are raiders are typically victorious.

MIGHTY TRENDING

White House just formally recognized Israel sovereignty over Golan Heights

U.S. President Donald Trump has recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, the rocky plateau that Israeli forces seized from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Signing a formal proclamation on March 25, 2019, at the White House, Trump said the United States should have recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights “decades ago.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood beside Trump at the White House on March 25, 2019, as he signed the proclamation.


Netanyahu called the document a “bold proclamation” that marked a “historic day” that has transformed Israel’s “military victories” in the Golan Heights to a “diplomatic” victory.

“We hold the high ground and we shall never give it up,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also said Trump’s proclamation made the alliance between Israel and the United States “stronger and greater than ever.”

President Donald Trump: Israel Has ‘Sovereign Right Over The Golan Heights’ | NBC News

www.youtube.com

Syria’s Foreign Ministry reacted to Trump’s move by calling it a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

Syria tried to retake the Golan Heights from Israeli forces during the 1973 Middle East war, but their surprise assault was repelled.

In 1981, Israel extended its laws to the region, effectively annexing it, in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Trump’s move was unlawful and could lead to renewed tensions in the Middle East. “This could lead to a new wave of tensions…such things, they are outside the law for they ignore all international efforts…unfortunately, they can only aggravate the situation,” she told Russian radio.

Trump announced on Twitter on March 21, 2019, that the United States intended to “fully” recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the 1,800-square-kilometer territory — a decision that breaks with long-standing U.S. policy and international consensus.

Trump’s proclamation recognizing the Golan Heights comes less than a month before general elections in Israel in which Netanyahu is facing a stiff challenge from former military chief Benny Gantz, the head of a centrist party.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Former military chief Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu arrived in Washington on March 24, 2019, for what was meant to be a three-day visit that included an appearance at the annual convention of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

But he announced on March 25, 2019, that he was cutting short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack from Gaza early on March 25, 2019, destroyed a residential home and injured several Israelis in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba.

Israel’s military said the rocket attack was conducted by militants from Gaza’s ruling Hamas. It also quickly mobilized troops and called up reserve forces, setting up the possibility of a major military operation ahead of the Israeli elections.

Netanyahu pledged to retaliate and return to Israel immediately after his meeting with Trump to manage the crisis.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the AIPAC gathering that that rocket attack “proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace.”

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel, and the United States will never negotiate with terrorist Hamas,” Pence said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Medal of Honor recipient Ronald Shurer dies at 41, remembered for how he lived

On May 14, 2020, America lost one of her heroes to a deadly enemy: cancer. He was only 41 years old. But in those 41 years, Shurer accomplished more than most do in a much longer lifetime. His life was one of unwavering service – to his family, his friends and the nation he swore to protect, at all costs.


Ronald J. Shurer II was born in Alaska to parents actively serving in the United States Air Force. He spent his formative years in Washington state, eventually graduating from Washington State University with his bachelor’s degree in business administration. After graduating, he hoped to become a marine. A previous diagnosis of pancreatitis prevented that dream from coming to fruition. In September of 2001 he was a graduate student with big plans.

9/11 changed them.

In 2002, Shurer enlisted in the United States Army and became a medic, eventually qualifying to be a part of the Special Forces. He completed his training, which included the national paramedic program and an internship in a hospital emergency room. In a previous interview with Military.com, he shared that he became a medic because he wanted to not only help during the war, but take care of the guys fighting it.

Shurer promoted to staff sergeant within the 3rd Special Forces Group in 2006. By November of 2007, he was deployed with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. That deployment would change the trajectory of his entire life.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

On April 6, 2008 he was a part of a joint forces raid that was aiming to capture or kill Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the Shok Valley of the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan. As he and his team worked their way through the valley, they came under enemy attack.

The Special Forces team was under fire from snipers, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. Almost immediately they suffered several casualties and were trapped. Despite the overwhelming danger, Shurer ran through the bullets to reach an injured soldier. He worked quickly to stabilize him and then joined in the firefight for over an hour, trying to make his way to more injured soldiers. He made it to four others and worked hard to save them. He was wounded in the arm and sustained a bullet to his helmet.

But he didn’t stop.

Shurer continued fighting to save the injured men until he got them evacuated. Reports indicate he even utilized his own body to shield them and keep them safe. He and other members of his team were awarded the silver star for their bravery and dedication during that fight.

He was honorably discharged in 2009 after returning home and went on to become a special agent in the United States Secret Service. Eventually, he was selected to be a part of the Counter Assault Team under the Special Operations Division.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

upload.wikimedia.org

In 2016, the Pentagon began conducting reviews of valor medal recipients. His story of service stood out. During the investigations in 2017, Shurer began to fight another enemy. Stage four lung cancer.

On October 1, 2018 he received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump, with a beard. Although many would go on to assume he was sporting in protest to the shaving rules, the truth was he couldn’t shave. The chemo caused painful rashes anytime he shaved.

On his award record, it states that he was given the recognition “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” He would carry this devotion and bravery into his next fight.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

www.army.mil

Shurer brought the world into his cancer treatments, often posting updates on Instagram. On May 12, 2020 he shared on Instagram that he had been unconscious for a week and on a ventilator. The post stated that the medical team was going to attempt to take him off but didn’t know how it would go. It was shared with a picture of him with a peace sign and his smiling wife, Miranda.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CAIrKpypdQC/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Ronald J Shurer II on Instagram: “Very upset to write this…. been unconscious for a week. They are going to try and take it out in a couple hours, they can’t tell me if it…”

www.instagram.com

Ronald J Shurer II on Instagram: “Very upset to write this…. been unconscious for a week…”

Two days later he was gone.

Shurer was the embodiment of devotion, courage and sacrifice. He leaves behind his wife, two children, and a devastated country that is forever grateful for his service.


Articles

This is what the Army wants in a new, more powerful combat rifle

US Army weapon officials just opened a competition for a new 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle to arm infantry units with a weapon potent enough to penetrate enemy body armor.


“The Army has identified a potential gap in the capability of ground forces and infantry to penetrate body armor using existing ammunition. To address this operational need, the Army is looking for an Interim Combat Service Rifle that is capable of defeating emerging threats,” according to an August 4 solicitation posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

The service plans to initially award up to eight contracts, procuring seven types of weapons from each gun-maker for test and evaluation purposes. Once the review is concluded, the service “may award a single follow-on Federal Acquisition Regulation based contract for the production of up to 50,000 weapons,” the solicitation states.

“The Government has a requirement to acquire a commercial 7.62mm ICSR to field with the M80A1 Enhanced Performance Round to engage and defeat protected and unprotected threats,” the solicitation states. “The ultimate objective of the program is to acquire and field a 7.62mm ICSR that will increase soldier lethality.”

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird
The 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. (U.S. Army photo from Todd Mozes)

The opening of the competition comes just over two months after Army’s Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley revealed to Congress that the M4 Carbine’s M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round cannot penetrate modern enemy body armor plates similar to the US military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

This past spring, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn released a directed requirement for a new 7.62mm rifle designed for combat units, prompting Army weapons officials to write a formal requirement.

The presence of a 7.62mm rifle in Army infantry squads is nothing new. Since 2009, the Army’s squad designated marksman rifle has been the Enhanced Battle Rifle, or EBR, 14 — a modernized M14 equipped with a Sage International adjustable aluminum stock with pistol grip, a Leupold 3.5×10 power scope and Harris bipod legs.

The Army adopted the EBR concept, first used in 2004 by Navy SEALs, in response to the growing need of infantry squads operating in Afghanistan to engage enemy fighters at longer ranges.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird
A soldier spotting a target, EBR in foreground. (U.S. Army photo by Timothy Hale)

The EBR is heavy, just under 15 pounds unloaded, compared with the standard M14’s unloaded weight of 9 pounds.

The Army’s Interim Combat Service Rifle should have either 16-inch or 20-inch barrels, a collapsible buttstock, an extended forward rail, and weigh less than 12 pounds unloaded and without an optic, according to a May 31 Army request for information.

Multiple proposals may be submitted by the same organization; however, each proposal must consist of the weapons, proposal, and System Safety Assessment Report. All proposals are due by 3pm EST Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017, the solicitation states.

In addition to the weapons, gun-makers will also be evaluated on production capability and proposed price, according to the solicitation.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird
M16 assault rifles. (DoD photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy)

All weapons should include items such as a suppressor, cleaning, specialized tools, and enough magazines to support the basic load of 210 rounds.

The competition will consist of live-fire testing and evaluate the following:

  • Dispersion (300m – function, 600m – simulation)
  • Compatible with family of weapon sights – individual and laser
  • Weapon length (folder or collapsed)/ weight (empty/bare) / velocity (300m and 600m calculated)
  • Semi-automatic and fully automatic function testing (bursts and full auto)
  • Noise (at shooter’s ear) / flash suppression
  • Ambidextrous controls (in darkness or adverse conditions) / rail interface
  • 20-30 round magazine to support a 210 round combat load
  • Folding sights

“Areas to be evaluated could include, but not be limited to: Controllability and Recoil, Trigger, Ease/Speed of Magazine Changes, Sighting System Interface (e.g., ability to acquire and maintain sight picture), and Usability of Controls (e.g., safety),” the solicitation states.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Caleb Strong

“Additionally, a small, limited user evaluation may be conducted with qualified soldiers,” it states.

Milley told lawmakers in late May that the Army does not believe that every soldier needs a 7.62mm rifle. These weapons would be reserved for the Army’s most rapid-deployable infantry units.

“We would probably want to field them with a better-grade weapon that can penetrate this body armor,” Milley said.

MIGHTY HISTORY

12 surprising facts about The War of 1812

One of the most oft-overlooked wars in American history, the War of 1812 is kind of like a bad sequel to a much more exciting movie. In this case, the original film is the American Revolution and the War of 1812 is really AmRev II: the Hubris. Since no one really won and the reasoning for the war was something that could have been avoided.

No one likes a stalemate.


When people refer to interesting things about the War of 1812, they usually mention the Star-Spangled Banner, Dolly Madison saving George Washington’s portrait from the torch, or the fact the Battle of New Orleans was the most New Orleans thing ever, and it happened after the war ended.

We’ll go a little deeper than that.

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A cartoon lampooning opposition to the War of 1812.

(Oxford University Press)

New England almost seceded from the Union.

Secession from the Union was a concept that had been hanging around long before the South used it to trigger the Civil War. In this case, the New England states were so against the war that they considered seceding from the United States and forming their own country. When President Madison called up the Massachusetts militia, Governor Caleb Strong refused to send the troops, so Madison sent no troops to defend New England. New England even tried to negotiate a separate peace with the British.

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(Napoleon.org)

Europeans don’t think of it as its own war.

While Canada may revel in the ass-kicking it gave Washington, D.C., and various states around the U.S. may revel in their own victories over the hated British, the actual British don’t call the War of 1812 by its American name. To the Europeans, the War of 1812 is just an extension of the Napoleonic Wars, a new theater in the fight against Imperial France.

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(Wikimedia Commons)

The 1812 Overture is not about the War of 1812.

On that note, every July 4th, you can hear Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture blaring to the explosions of fireworks across the United States as Americans celebrate their independence. It makes for a pretty great spectacle. The only problem is that the legendary musical piece has nothing to do with the U.S. 1812 was the same year Napoleon marched his Grand Armeé on Moscow, and the Russians responded to the impending fall of their capital by burning it before the French arrived. In the overture, you can even hear parts of the La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.

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(Wikimedia Commons)

The British deployed a 1st rate Ship of the Line on the Great Lakes.

Imagine a massive ship with three gun decks and 112 guns, carrying some 700 British sailors just floating around the Great Lakes. That’s what the British Admiralty launched in 1814 in an attempt to wrest control of the lakes away from the Americans. The HMS St. Lawrence was built on Lake Ontario in just a few months. Her presence on the lake was enough to secure dominance on the lake for the British for the rest of the war.

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Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie.

(Wikimedia Commons)

It marked the first surrender of a British Naval squadron.

Despite the eventual British dominance on the Great Lakes, control of the massive bodies of water swung back and forth throughout the war, and was probably the theater where the Americans saw much of their success. Delivering blows to the vaunted Royal Navy was great for U.S. morale and terrible for British morale. American Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry constructed a fleet of ships just to challenge British dominance on the lakes. At the Battle of Lake Erie, he forced a British naval squadron to surrender for the first time in history.

His dispatch to Gen. William Henry Harrison contained the legendary line, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

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(Wikimedia Commons)

We burned their capital first.

The British did manage to torch Washington, and the city was nearly abandoned after its destruction, but it wasn’t just a random idea the British had – Americans actually burned their center of government first. The capital of Upper Canada was at a place then-called York, but today is known as Toronto. Americans burned the provincial parliament and looted key sites, taking the mace of Canada’s parliament (which President Eisenhower later returned) and a British Imperial Lion (which the U.S. Naval Academy has not).

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(Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. was saved by a giant storm.

Everyone knows British troops marched on Washington and burned the major buildings of America’s young capital city, including the White House. What they may not know is that the fires that should have raged through the night were extinguished relatively quickly by a freak tornado – some thought it was a hurricane – that hit the area just hours after the British advance. The storm even forced a British withdrawal as the storm killed more British troops than the American defenders.

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(Wikimedia Commons)

It was the first time Asian-Americans fought for the US.

Asian-Americans may have fought for the United States before the War of 1812, but the defense of New Orleans marked the first time any historian or chronicler mentioned Asians at arms during wartime. When the pirate Jean-Baptiste Lafitte famously came to the aid of Gen. Andrew Jackson and American troops in New Orleans, he enlisted several “Manilamen” – Filipinos – from nearby Saint Malo, Louisiana, the first Filipino community in the United States.

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(Imperial War Museum)

It saw the largest emancipation of slaves until the Civil War.

One of the weaknesses of American society at the time was the institution of slavery, a weakness the British would attempt to exploit at every opportunity. The British Admiralty declared that any resident of the United States who wished to settle in His Majesty’s colonies would be welcome to do so, all they had to do was appear before the British Army or Navy. American slaveholders believed it was an attempt to incite a slave revolt, which it may have been. Nonetheless, the British transported thousands of former slaves back to Africa, the Caribbean, and even Canadian Nova Scotia.

Some even joined the British Colonial Marines, a fighting force of ex-slaves deployed by the British against the Americans.

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Bilal Muhammed

(Muslims in America)

It also saw the largest slave uprising – against the invader.

While the British were rousing slaves to join the fight against their oppressors, other slaves were joining forces to fight the British for the Americans. One Muslim slave named Bilal Muhammed was the manager of a plantation of 500 slaves on Georgia’s Sapelo Island. When the British attempted to land on Sapelo, Muhammed and 80 other slaves fought them back into the sea.

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(Wikimedia Commons)

Maine was almost given to Canada as “New Ireland.”

During the American Revolution, the area we know as Maine was a haven for colonists who wanted to remain loyal to the Crown. Their ambitions were, of course, supported by the British government in Canada, who sent a significant force to defend what was then New Ireland. The British gave up New Ireland after the American Revolution in order to cut the French Canadian provinces off from the coastal areas. By the time the War of 1812 rolled through, it was almost ceded again, but the Treaty of Ghent made no changes to the borders, and the British withdrew

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(Wikimedia Commons)

The war brought about an unopposed political party.

Today we have Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats, constantly fighting to some end. Back then, the parties were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Federalist opposition to the war, which ended with the view that America had won by not losing the second war for independence, pretty much ended the Federalist party, leaving just the Democratic-Republican Party as the sole party in a new “Era of Good Feelings.” After the election of 1824, that Era was over, and the party was split into two factions, depending on how much they liked Andrew Jackson’s policies.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Reporter almost decapitated by a helicopter during a segment

A reporter with the Russian The Caucasus Post media outlet risked being decapitated while filming a news segment featuring some low-flying Mi-24 helicopters in anticipation of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

The scene speaks for itself: you can clearly see the journalist presenting her report from the runway as several Hind gunships fly close to her. As many as 14 Mi-24s can be seen in the footage with the second one literally buzzing the journalist with the stub wing endplate missile pylon missing her head by a few inches…


Take a look:

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Kim Jong Un’s aide panic on the red carpet

Kim Jong Un’s arrival in Vietnam for a second summit with President Donald Trump took an unusual turn when an aide appeared to miss his cue during a grand entrance.

Video footage of Kim’s arrival in Dong Dong, on the China-Vietnam border, shows the North Korean leader walking down a red carpet ramp from his personal armored train.

He initially descends alone. A few seconds later, an aide appears to realise what is going on, and quickly runs down the ramp to join Kim.


You can the moment in this video, via the Filipino ABS-CBN news channel. The aide’s sprint down the carpet comes around the 14-second mark:

The entourage had just completed a marathon 2,000-mile train ride from Pyongyang, across a vast expanse of southern China, which lasted two and a half days.

Experts say that Kim’s decision to travel by train could have been to avoid the appearance of being reliant on China, after he received significant attention for borrowing plane from the government-owned Air China to get to his last summit with Trump in Singapore.

The optics of Kim travelling by train could also remind North Koreans of Kim’s grandfather, who used the same train to get to countries like Vietnam as well as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, The Associated Press reported.

Trump has characterized the summit as a follow-up to the leaders’ first summit in Singapore in June 2018, when North Korea made a vague commitment to working toward denuclearization.

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Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump shaking hands at the red carpet during the Singapore Summit in June 2018.

Pyongyang appears to have made little progress on that front since the first meeting. US intelligence and North Korea experts have warned that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear arms.

Trump told the Governors’ Ball on Feb. 24, 2019, that he was “not pushing for speed” with North Korea’s denuclearization.

However, he tweeted on Feb. 25, 2019: “With complete Denuclearization, North Korea will rapidly become an Economic Powerhouse. Without it, just more of the same. Chairman Kim will make a wise decision!”

Trump tweeted on Feb. 25, 2019, that he was “Looking forward to a very productive Summit!”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Navy veteran’s show is the reason documentaries are on TV

These days, military documentaries are all over TV. Some are feature-length films and others are TV series. They cover everything, from discussing various weapon systems to describing famous, historical battles. But there was one series that kicked this whole genre off — that was Victory at Sea. The 26-episode limited series was a smash hit that won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. But it wasn’t just award-winning, it was groundbreaking.


According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Navy veteran Harry Salomon was working with Samuel Eliot Morison to compile what would eventually become the fifteen-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II when he got the idea to do a TV documentary. In the process, Salomon discovered just how much footage was available — over 11,000 miles of film, shot by all of the warring powers.

Inspired, Salomon talked with his old college roommate, who then worked for NBC. His friend was all for the idea and helped him get the green light for the series in 1951. The United States Navy, coming off the Revolt of the Admirals and fighting the Korean War, agreed to support the venture. NBC offered a $500,000 budget for the series — in 1951 dollars. In today’s money, that’s just under $4.84 million.

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The series covered all aspects of the sea battles in the Second World War, including the anti-submarine campaign fought by escort carriers like USS Mission Bay (CVE 59)

(US Navy)

Eventually, the 11,000 miles of film was cut down to a grand total 61,000 feet — just over 11.55 miles. Richard Rodgers, best known for his work on Broadway and in Hollywood, composed a stirring score, Leonard Graves signed on to do narration, and the series was underway. All aspects of the conflict were covered, from the chilly Arctic waters to the heated battles in the paradise of the South Pacific.

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

The stirring soundtrack provided by Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame) comes through, especially when covering dramatic moments, like the kamikaze campaign.

(US Navy)

The 26-episode series made its premiere in October of 1952. NBC aired the series without commercial interruption. It was a huge hit.

Not only did the naval campaigns of the Second World War get exposed to a wider audience, but an entire new TV genre was launched. Today, the series is under public domain and can be seen on YouTube.

Watch the first episode of the show that gave rise to the military documentary genre below!

www.youtube.com

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