Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

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

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

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


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

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the safest place to be in combat might be in a British Challenger tank

Anyone who says “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” has clearly never seen a Challenger 2 tank in action. The Challenger was first introduced in 1993 and has seen action in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Iraq War. In all that time, not one was ever lost to the enemy. This is a tank designed to protect its crew.

The Challenger 2 main battle tank is a direct upgrade from the Challenger 1, introduced just ten years before. Instead of being built by the government of the United Kingdom like its predecessor, the Challenger 2 was built by privately-owned companies, as if you needed more proof that capitalism is better than socialism.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
A Challenger 2 tank on Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales fires a ‘Squash-Head’ practice round. (Image courtesy of Cpl Si Longworth RLC)

Differences between the two may not be apparent at first sight, but they’re there. The upgraded Challenger 2 main battle tank has an improved gun sight, improved ceramic composite armor and a steel underbelly lined with more armor as part of a “streetfighter” upgrade, just to name a few. 

That armor served it well during its combat debut in 2003. By 2001, the Challenger 1 had been completely replaced by the Challenger 2. When the UK went to war in Iraq alongside the United States, it was finally able to bring its new tank to a fight. They were worth every pound and penny.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein probably wished he had a couple hundred of these tanks, because the British laid waste to the tanks he did have. A team of special operators from the British 40 Commando cleared the way to Basra with the help of 12 Challenger 2 tanks from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The Challengers knocked out 14 Russian-built T-54 and T-55 tanks in the fighting while suffering only two damaged.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank patrolling outside Basra, Iraq (Graeme Main, UK Defense Imagery)

In fact, no Challenger tanks were ever lost to the enemy during the entire Iraq War, although some should have been. In 2006, a British Challenger was hit by at least 15 RPGs during a fight near the Iraqi city of al-Amarah. During the battle, one of the RPGs penetrated the under armor of the tank. The driver lost a foot in the blast, but was able to withdraw the tank to safety.

The next year, an improvised explosive device also broke through the tank’s underbelly, wounding another driver, who lost both legs. The tank and the rest of the crew were just fine and the Ministry of Defense upgraded the tank’s lower armor to further protect the crews from this kind of attack. 

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Challenger 2 with armour upgrades to the sides of the turret, skirts, bar armour to rear. Smoke grenade launchers visible on turret front. Counter-IED ECM antennas are on the platform on the turret, and additional ECM equipment overhangs the left and right front fenders. A remote controlled weapon systems (RCWS) has also been fitted to the turret. (Cpl Russ Nolan RLC/MOD)

On only one occasion was a Challenger tank destroyed in combat, and it came at the hands of another Challenger in a friendly fire incident. During the fight for Basra in 2003, one Challenger mistakenly targeted friendly British forces while using its thermal guidance system. A high-explosive round hit the tank’s open hatch, starting a fire that spread to its ammunition stores. The ammunition detonated, destroying the tank from the inside. 

Despite the tragic loss of life of the crews and the injuries sustained by Challenger drivers in the Iraq War, the survivability of a Challenger tank is almost unparalleled anywhere else in the world. It’s no wonder that the British government decided to upgrade more than a hundred Challenger 2 tanks, for what will soon become the Challenger 3. 

Articles

The Coast Guard is using this drone to nab drug smugglers

ABOARD THE COAST GUARD CUTTER STRATTON, in the eastern Pacific Ocean — The drone is loaded onto a catapult on the flight deck. From a control room, a technician revs the motor until the go-ahead is given to press the red button. Then the ScanEagle lifts off with a whoosh and, true to its lofty name, soars majestically over the wide blue sea.


The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton is steaming more than 500 miles south of the Guatemala-El Salvador border, along the biggest narcotics smuggling corridor in the world.

Its mission: intercept vessels hauling cocaine bound for America’s cities.

It is a monumental task that has grown even larger in the past few years because of a boom in coca production in Colombia. But the Coast Guard is bringing more intelligence and technology to bear.

Deep within the 418-foot Stratton, which is based in Alameda, California, specialists crunch data from radar, infrared video, helicopter sorties and now the Boeing-made ScanEagle, which was deployed aboard the Coast Guard cutter for the first time during this three-month mission.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
PACIFIC OCEAN — Petty Officer 3rd Class John Cartwright, a Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crewmember, releases the Unmanned Aerial Surveillance aircraft Scan Eagle during a demonstration approximately 150 miles off the Pacific Coast, Aug. 12, 2012. The Scan Eagle is being tested for capabilities that will create a reliable reconnaissance system for all 11 Coast Guard missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Luke Clayton.

“In the earlier days, when you wouldn’t see or catch anything, we used to pat ourselves on our back and say we must’ve deterred them,” said Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, with more than four decades at sea. “Now rarely 72 hours go by when you don’t have an event or we send a ship down there that doesn’t come back with multiple interdictions.”

The Associated Press spent two weeks in February and March aboard the Stratton, the most advanced ship in the Coast Guard fleet, as 100-plus crew members patrolled the eastern Pacific, through which about 70 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. passes.

With three to five Coast Guard cutters covering 6 million square miles — from the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to the eastern Pacific Ocean — it’s like having a few police cars watch over the entire lower 48 states.

Just after lunch on the second day of deployment, the Stratton’s PA system starts piping out acronyms. A TOI, or target of interest, has been detected by the ScanEagle with the support of aircraft radar, and a go-fast boat slides down a rear ramp into the blue waters to begin the chase.

In just a few minutes it catches up with a fishing boat, called a panga, with two outboard motors.

Sometimes smugglers frantically dump their cargo over the side or try to make a run for it, forcing their pursuers to fire warning shots or shoot out their engines. But this time, the boat’s crewmen, some of them barefoot, offer no resistance.

The four suspected smugglers sit handcuffed as a Coast Guardsman takes out some vials to conduct a chemical test. The results come back positive for cocaine, and the two Colombians and two Ecuadoreans are put aboard the cutter.

Hidden in the bales of cocaine is a GPS tracking device in a condom, a sure sign the drug bosses behind the shipment knew right away it didn’t reach its destination.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
PACIFIC OCEAN — The Unmanned Aerial Surveillance aircraft Scan Eagle watches the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton from afar during a demonstration approximately 150 miles off the Pacific Coast, Aug. 12, 2012. The Scan Eagle is being tested for capabilities that will create a reliable reconnaissance system for all 11 Coast Guard missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

At sunset, the Stratton’s crew proudly poses for a picture with the haul while a black plume rises above the sea where the boat was set ablaze by the Coast Guard. A few hours later, the Stratton fires its cannon and sinks the vessel.

The next morning the ever-rising Narcometer in the on-board newsletter reflects the size of the bust: 700 kilograms (over 1,500 pounds) of pure cocaine with a wholesale value of $21 million. On the streets in the U.S., it could be worth more than five times that.

The Stratton’s biggest bust — a Coast Guard record — came in 2015, when it found more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine worth $225 million before the smuggling craft, a hard-to-detect semi-submersible vessel, sank with some of its cargo still aboard.

As good as the Coast Guard gets, its victories seem doomed to be short-lived. That’s because hundreds of miles to the south, in the jungles of Colombia, there’s a bumper harvest taking place. And Colombia is virtually the only source of cocaine smuggled by sea in small vessels.

That, along with better technology, may help explain why the Coast Guard has been coming back with ever-larger hauls. It set a record in 2016, seizing more than 240 tons of cocaine with a wholesale value of $5.9 billion and arresting 585 smugglers.

Last year, the amount of land devoted to coca cultivation in Colombia climbed 18 percent to an estimated 188,000 hectares (465,000 acres), according to a White House report. That is more coca production than at any time since the U.S. in 1999 began investing billions in an anti-narcotics strategy known as Plan Colombia.

“What we know here out at sea is that the business has been really good in the last couple of years,” said Capt. Nathan Moore, the Stratton’s skipper.

The surge is being driven in part by Colombia’s decision in 2015 to suspend aerial spraying of crop-destroying herbicides because of health concerns.

At the same time, there was a rush among peasant farmers to start growing coca so they could take advantage of generous payments to switch to legal crops being offered as part of a peace deal between the government and Colombia’s rebels.

Thus far, 55,000 families have signed pledges to rip up 48,000 hectares of coca in exchange for as much as $12,000 over two years. The government is also expanding manual eradication of coca, a slower and far more dangerous task, with the goal of destroying 50,000 hectares this year alone.

But many experts are skeptical that poor farmers will renounce coca growing, especially as criminal gangs fill the void left by the retreating rebels. Also, a successful drug run can net each smuggler a small fortune that makes it well worth the risk of a long prison sentence for many.

Such dynamics help explain why, despite the Coast Guard’s technological superiority, four drug-running boats are thought to get through for every one caught, Zukunft said.

Those taken into custody for smuggling are put in white hazmat suits, given health exams and then led into a converted helicopter hangar aboard the Stratton, where they are shackled to the floor and issued a wool blanket, toiletries and a cot or a foam mat. Eventually they are flown to the U.S. and prosecuted at American expense.

The alternative would be to seek prosecution in Central American countries such as Honduras, where the vast majority of crimes go unpunished.

More than a dozen nations in Central and South America have essentially outsourced their drug-interdiction efforts to the U.S.

“Imagine you’re out at Ocean City, Maryland, and then out of nowhere comes this foreign helicopter and it starts peppering a U.S. recreational boat with automatic machine gun fire and sniper fire. We would say it’s an act of war,” Zukunft said.

“But that’s the faith and confidence these countries have in the U.S. and our Coast Guard.”

Articles

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

The AV-8B+ Harrier is an iconic plane. The British Sea Harrier arguably was the reason the United Kingdom won the Falklands War. But let’s be honest, this plane isn’t immune from being something we can poke fun at…


So, as we have done with the F-16 and the A-10, here’s the Hater’s Guide to the Harrier.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)

Why it is easy to make fun of the Harrier

It has short range. The payload’s not much when you compare it to conventional planes. It kinda looks funny.

Also, it’s British, and have the Brits developed a good combat plane since World War II? The Spitfire wasn’t bad. But the “Spit,” like the Harrier, had the same short range problem. So, it’s…a British thing?

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch)

Why you should hate the Harrier

Because it has a high rate of “Class A” mishaps. Because their pilots think they are carrier pilots, when all they do is land vertically (let’s see how they do when it’s trap or bolter). Because they think using a stool to replace a landing gear is cool.

Because it won’t win any races against an F-15, F-16, F/A-18, or F-22.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
That vertical landing, tho… (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Why you should love the Harrier

Because it can operate where other planes can’t. Runway cratered? Harriers are still in business. It holds the line when Hornets can’t. With AMRAAMs, it can shoot down anything an Eagle can. It’s GAU-12 can put the hurt on bad guys.

Because, when it was needed by the United Kingdom, it came through. For close air support, a Marine Harrier is the best option when you can’t have a Warthog.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, flies in position while conducting aerial refueling training operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad R. Kiehl)

Okay, when it comes down to it, the Harrier is, despite its foibles, one awesome jet.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This ugly plane blinded enemy radar after 45 years

The naked eye can only see so far and it can’t track the really fast stuff. Radar makes up for that natural shortcoming and has become a necessity in warfare. In fact, it’s arguably the main reason that the British won the Battle of Britain.


Ever since the Battle of Britain, folks who wanted — or needed — to put bombs on target in enemy territory needed to disable enemy radar first. Blowing up enemy radar is no easy task as most military forces keep them well guarded. Thankfully, you don’t need to blow up the enemy radar — you just need to make sure it can’t see. During World War II, specialized units, like No. 100 Group of the Royal Air Force, flew a variety of planes modified with jammers with the sole purpose of disrupting radar.

 

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

A U.S. Navy EA-6B Prowler from the Electronic Attack Squadron-133 out of Woodby Island, Washington, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska, in support of exercise Northern Edge 2002. (USAF photo)

After World War II, the United States military decided they needed two planes for the job: the EF-111 Raven and the EA-6B Prowler. The Prowler entered service in 1971, replacing the EKA-3B Skywarrior, which was better known as the “Whale.”

Although both the Raven and the Prowler were modified attack planes, the Prowler hardly resembled its original after modifications. The A-6 had a crew of two while the EA-6B Prowler had a crew of four. The Prowler carries up to five pods for the ALQ-99 electronic countermeasures system. The ALQ-99 carries out what is known as “soft kills” of enemy radars and missiles. A “soft kill” doesn’t do physical damage, but instead confuses targeted systems by sending false signals, jamming enemy systems with static, or even turning displays blank.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
An EA-6B Prowler assigned to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens)

 

The EA-6B could also do the “hard-kill” work, using AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. This plane is still in service today with the United States Marine Corps and ended a 44-years term with the United States Navy in 2015.

popular

This app lets you see the destructive power of nukes on your hometown

Growing up relatively close to an Air Force Major Command base toward the end of the Cold War, we were constantly reminded of one thing: If the “big one” ever came, we were among the first to be toast. But were we really? Thankfully, now there’s a way to find out for sure.


Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
The short answer is yes. (Nukemap)

 

This simulation is a map of the effect of a 25-megaton strike on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from a Soviet R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile warhead. The R-36, introduced in 1974, gave the Soviets a first-strike capability with a rapid reload ability and a missile that could carry up to 10 independently targetable warheads.

The green area represents an immediately lethal dose of radiation, the yellow represents the initial fireball burst, and the red is a 20 psi air blast, capable of completely destroying most structures and projecting a 100-percent casualty rate. The dark circles surrounding the outermost red area represent different air pressures inflicted by the blast on the local population. The orange-ish area shows where third-degree burns and other radiation injuries are likely.

Estimated fatalities number more than 319,000 with another 375,000-plus injured.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
It could always be worse. This is a 150-Kiloton North Korean nuclear strike on Los Angeles. (Nukemap)

 

These simulations are brought to you by The Nukemap, a project created by Alex Wellerstein of the New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology. Wellerstein is a professor at SIT, and his expertise is in the history of science and nuclear weapons technology. He also runs the Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Professor Wellerstein has devoted his life and career to the study of the effects of nuclear weapons on societies and geopolitics.

The Nukemap is aimed at helping people visualize nuclear weapons on terms they can make sense of — helping them to get a sense of the scale of the bombs. By allowing people to use arbitrarily picked geographical locations, I hope that people will come to understand what a nuclear weapon would do to places they are familiar with, and how the different sizes of nuclear weapons change the results.”

Wellerstein’s previous work was the MissileMap, a way to see that a country’s nuclear arsenal was even capable of hitting your hometown.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Sorry, Ohio. You’re toast. (MissileMap)

 

Nukemap needs the user to enter the location of the target, the yield of the warhead used, and if the explosion is a surface explosion or airburst. If you don’t know anything about nuclear weapons, that’s okay: there are numerous possible presets available. For example, you can target New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other American cities. But since the United States and Russia aren’t the only countries with nuclear capabilities, Nukemap also offers the effects of all potential nuclear attackers, including Israel, Iran, North Korea, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Japan, and South Korea.

You can even see historical presets, from the effects of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima blasts to the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear device ever exploded on Earth.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Which would devastate four of the five New York City boroughs, if you were curious.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the missile the IDF uses to spike enemy tanks

Over the years, Israel has nurtured a high-tech defense industry that has developed its own missile-defense systems and tanks. They’ve even “hacked” F-16s to make them deadlier. Israel’s military tech is so good, that even their historical enemy, Saudi Arabia, is a willing buyer.


Much of this development was out of necessity. Israel has had to defend its territories from political enemies and neighbors for centuries. And, in the wake of the Six-Day War, France went back on the sale of an airframe that would become the Mirage V. A constant need for arms and the unreliability of vendors led Israel to develop and maintain the capacity to build their own weapons.

One such weapon system is the Spike family of anti-tank missiles. There are six varieties of this armament: the Spike-MR for grunts and special forces; the Spike-LR for use from armored vehicles; the Spike-ER, which is used from helicopters like the AH-1 Cobra; the Spike-SR, which was modified for shorter ranges; the Mini-Spike, which is a portable, anti-personnel version of the missile, and, finally, the Spike-NLOS, which offers a range of roughly 15 miles.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
While the Spike-LR is meant for use from armored vehicles, it can also be carried by infantry. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Natan Flayer)

The missile packs a tandem warhead. This means it has a smaller warhead used to trigger the explosive reactive armor (ERA) on a tank, which then allows the larger warhead to get inside the tank and destroy.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
South Korea is a major user of the Spike anti-tank missile. (Photo by Republic of Korea Armed Forces)

The Spike has been a very successful product for Israel, with a number of countries buying, including Poland, Chile, Belgium, South Korea, Finland, and the United Kingdom. Now, this isn’t the first time Israeli systems have been exported. India has become a major customer of Israel’s Barak point-defense surface-to-air missile, using it on a number of naval platforms.

To learn more about this tank-spiking family of missiles, check out the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7oAX6xl59Y
Intel

The Nazis had insane ‘superweapon’ ideas that were way ahead of their time

The Nazi propaganda ministry assigned the term Wunderwaffe – German for “wonder-weapon” – to some of their most evil creations.


From sonic cannons that can rip a person apart from the inside out, to a gun that harnesses the power of the sun from space, these weapons were so outlandish in their design that most believe they could never exist beyond the realm of fantasy.

The following video by Strange Mysteries put it best: “The Nazis were a band of f–king insane evil geniuses developing s–t so crazy it’s like they had literally traveled in time 75 years into the future where they discovered games like Call Of Duty and Halo, which is where they got most of their ideas from.”

Check out the video:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The definitive guide to US special ops

You’ve heard about the men who come in the night, the badasses, the snake eaters. These are the rough and tumble soldiers who spill out of helicopters and kick in doors, neutralizing a high-value target and egressing before locals get a clue. These are the gritty recon Marines who stalk through the underbrush before taking down a terrorist camp. But special ops isn’t one thing; it’s a bunch of different things. Operators from different units conduct missions in very different ways.


Check out this handy WATM guide that covers the basics of special ops:

Army

Delta Force

Along with SEAL Team 6, Delta Force is one of the most famous and capable anti-terrorism teams in the world. It’s members are pulled from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, primarily from the Army’s Special Forces and Rangers (more on them in a minute). As an anti-terrorism task force, Delta is tasked with hunting down some of America’s worst threats- the most intense special ops around. They were sent after Osama bin Laden in 2001 and more recently killed Abu Sayyaf, a key figure in ISIS. They specialize in “direct action.”

Special Forces (The Green Berets)

Special Forces soldiers focus on supporting foreign allies by training with and fighting beside their military and police forces. Special Forces also engage in reconnaissance and direct action missions. The multi-tool of special ops, SF soldiers are sometimes tasked with peacekeeping, combat search and rescue, humanitarian, and counter narcotic missions.

Rangers

 

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire off a Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle at a range on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 26, 2014. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. Rashene Mincy)

The modern 75th Ranger Regiment was established with three Ranger battalions in 1986, though it has roots dating back to World War II. The Rangers form three infantry battalions that focus on moving fast and striking hard. They are deployable to anywhere in the world within 18 hours. Rangers are primarily a direct action force, entering an area forcibly and engaging whatever enemies they find.

The Night Stalkers (160th Special Operations Air Regiment)

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
An MH-6 Little Bird carrying troops. (Photo: Department of Defense)

 

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) flies helicopters in support of other special ops units, especially the Army units discussed above. They fly modified Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters as well as the MH/AH-6M Little Bird. The Night Stalkers can drop off combatants on a battlefield and provide air support to fighters already on the ground.

Navy

SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU)

 

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Navy SEALs practice desert fighting techniques during an exercise. SEAL Team 6 specializes in anti-terrorism operations and are perhaps best known for the successful raid into Pakistan to kill Osama Bin Laden. (Photo: Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon)

Like Delta, SEAL Team 6 is a top-tier anti-terrorism force. Officially named United States Special Warfare Development Group and sometimes called DevGru, SEAL Team 6 specializes in arriving violently and killing bad guys. They recruit their members from the Navy SEAL community (discussed below). Though they train to operate anywhere in the world, they specialize in fighting on the waters and the coast.

MORE: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

SEALs

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

SEALs are named for their ability to fight in the sea, air, and on land. Though designed to conduct operations that begin and end in the water, modern teams routinely operate far from water. They primarily conduct reconnaissance and perform direct attack missions but are capable of training with and fighting beside foreign militaries like U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers do. They are also the operators most known for working with the CIA’s Special Activities Division.

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen


www.youtube.com

SWCC, pronounced “swick,” provide covert insertions in coastal areas, most notably for the Navy SEALS. They operate small boats which they can use to drop off operators as well as provide heavy weapons support when necessary. They can drop their boats from planes or helicopters and can be picked up with a helicopter extraction. Additionally, SWCC teams have their own medics who provide care for special operators when evacuating patients, and they get at least 12 weeks of language training.

Marine Corps

Marine Special Operations Regiment (Raiders)

Similarly to the Army Special Forces, Marine Raiders specialize in training, advising, and assisting friendly foreign forces. They can also conduct direct action missions: Kicking down doors and targeting the bad guys. They receive more training in maritime operations as well as fighting on oil and gas platforms than their Army counterparts.

Recon

Some of the world’s best reconnaissance troops, Recon Marines primarily support other Marine units, though they can provide intelligence to other branches. They move forward of other troops, getting near or behind enemy lines, where they survey the area and report back to commanders. They can also engage in assaults when ordered, though that mission has been transferred in part to the Marine Special Operations Regiment discussed above.

Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown

This Marine Corps ANGLICO’s primary mission is to link up with friendly units and direct fires assets from different branches. That means they have to be able to tell helicopters, jets, cannons, and rockets which targets to hit and when during large firefights. They support other U.S. military branches as well as foreign militaries, so they have to train for many different operations and be able to keep up with everyone from Army Special Forces to British Commandoes to the Iraqi Army.

Air Force

Combat Controllers

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.

Combat controllers, like ANGLICO Marines, support all the other branches and so have to be able to keep up with all special operators. They deploy forward, whether in support of another mission or on their own, and take over control of air traffic in an area. They direct flight paths for different classes of planes and helicopters to ensure all aircraft attacking an objective can fly safely. They also target artillery and rocket attacks. In peacetime missions, they can set up air traffic control in areas where it’s needed.

The day after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, combat controllers began directing air traffic control from a card table with hand radios. They directed the landing of over 2,500 flights and 4 million pounds of supplies with no incidents.

Pararescuemen (PJ)

Pararescumen are some of the world’s best search and rescue experts. They move forward into areas a plane has crashed or there is a risk of planes being shot down. Once a plane has hit the ground, they search for the pilots and crew and attempt to recover them. In addition, they perform medical evacuations of injured personnel and civilians. To reach downed crews, they train extensively in deploying from helicopters and planes. In order to save injured personnel after recovery, they become medical experts, especially in trauma care.

Coast Guard

Maritime Security Response Team

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team from Virginia participates trains on tactical boardings-at-sea, active shooter scenarios, and detection of radiological material in a 2015 exercise. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

The MSRT focuses on counter-terrorism and law enforcement against well-armed adversaries. They are like a SWAT team that can also deal with chemical, biological, and nuclear threats on the open water.

Though this list focused on operators who engage in combat with the enemy, there are members of the special operations community who provide support in other ways.

The Army has military information-support operations which seek to spread propaganda and demoralize the enemy and civil affairs soldiers who serve as liaisons between the Army and friendly governments. The Air Force has special operations weather technicians who deploy into enemy environments to conduct weather analysis in support of other military operations. The Marine Corps has the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force which responds to possible attacks by chemical, biological, or nuclear means.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy ships will get powerful lasers to zap incoming missiles

During the course of covering the five entries for the Navy’s FFG(X) program, much has been made of the light armament of the littoral combat ships. They are limited to what are essentially point-defense systems, specifically, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile. This missile has a range of about five nautical miles, and usually comes in launchers holding 11 or 21 missiles.


Now, the RIM-116 is joined by the Mk 15 Phalanx as the major point-defense systems on U.S. Navy ships. But there are some drawbacks that one has to keep in mind with these systems: they both have a finite supply of ammo (albeit the Phalanx’s ammo issues are not as bad as the RIM-116’s), and their limited range means that the ships may take some damage when the missile is stopped by those systems (albeit not as much as it would take from a direct hit).

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile has a range of five nautical miles, but the launcher can only hold so many rounds.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary Granger Jr.)

One of the ways that those drawbacks will be addressed is from a system called HELIOS. According to materials obtained from Lockheed at the 2018 SeaAirSpace expo in National Harbor, Maryland, this sea-based directed-energy weapon could either replace both of these systems or help supplement them.

Lasers would bring the best of both the RIM-116 and Phalanx systems for just about any warship. They would offer the extended range of a system like the RIM-116 (possibly a little more), and they would have almost no limits on the ammo (just keep the juice flowing!). This is a good thing for something like the littoral combat ship.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

The Mk15 Phalanx carries more ammo than the launchers for the RIM-116, but has a much shorter range.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Weinert)

Lasers have been used to guide bombs in the past, and the United States tested an airborne laser on a 747 for a number of years before the plane was dismantled. Still, it may be that when it comes to beating missiles headed for ships, BRRRZAP could replace BRRRRRT or a missile launch in the near future.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This was the Soviet version of the C-130 – only less safe

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was looking for transports. They needed these transports to support their numerous airborne divisions. By the Cold War’s end, the Soviets had six airborne divisions but historically, they had as many as 15 active airborne divisions, which makes for a lot to move.


They also had the same need for tactical airlift to supply personnel. While the United States met that need with the C-130 Hercules, the Soviets turned to the Antonov design bureau to address their needs. The plane that emerged was the An-12, nicknamed the “Cub” by NATO.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
An ex-military An-12. Note the tail gun position – minus the two 23mm cannons. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the An-12 can reach a speed of 480 miles per hour and has a maximum range of 3,540 miles. It can carry up to 60 paratroopers or two BMD airborne armored fighting vehicles. It was in production for sixteen years and 1,248 airframes were produced.

What distinguishes the Soviet-designed plane from the C-130 is that some variations of the An-12 sport a twin 23mm turret. The other big difference is the accident rate. Aviation-Safety.net reports that of the 1,248 Cubs produced, 232 have been lost in accidents. By comparison, that same site notes that 353 C-130-type transports (including the civilian-model L-100) have been lost in accidents out of the more than 2,500 airframes.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators
A baseline Y-8 with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

China also has a version of the Cub known as the Y-8, a pirated design that was reverse-engineered after the Sino-Soviet split in the last 1960s. According to FlightGlobal.com, China has over 100 Y-8s in service, including airborne early-warning, maritime reconnaissance, and electronic-warfare variants. China also has the Y-9, a stretched version, with seven airframes in service.

You can see a video about this Russian ripoff of the Hercules below. That said, if you need a tactical transport, an An-12 “Cub” is not the way to go. Just buy a real C-130.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How America would slaughter Kim’s nuclear subs

As North Korea continues with their will-they/won’t-they stance on de-nuclearization, it’s worth looking at what options the U.S. has for countering the doomsday weapon that North Korea might posses: a nuclear-armed, ballistic-missile submarine. These are, broadly speaking, comparable to America’s Trident submarines designed to deliver a nuclear strike anywhere in the world with zero warning.

So, how is the Navy ready to prevent a radioactive Alaska or metro Los Angeles?


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Literally everything in this picture is more capable and stealthy than any asset the North Korean Navy has.

(U.S. Navy photo by Fire Control Technician Senior Chief Vien Nguyen)

America’s best offensive tool against enemy submarines is our own nuclear-powered attack subs. Right now, the Virginia class is the top of the line, and we’ve covered before how these things are basically 400-feet of black death. They’re super stealthy and capable of finding most other vessels underwater. They also carry a huge arsenal with up to 12 tomahawk cruise missiles and 38 torpedoes, usually the Mk. 48. They can also carry anti-ship missiles, but that requires trading out torpedoes.

When fully configured for anti-ship, anti-shore missions, the subs can take 50 shots at enemy forces on a single cruise. If it catches some enemy subs in the docks, the tomahawks can quickly wipe them out. But catching them underwater is even better since the Virginia-class can flood its torpedo tube, take its shot, and then disappear back into the surrounding ocean noise for a re-attack or to hunt down more targets.

Best of all, the Virginia-class has a huge noise advantage over North Korea’s fleet of antique and homegrown subs, all of which are diesel electric. While diesel-electric boats can be quieter than nuclear ones, it still requires a huge amount of research and engineering knowledge to create stealthy subs. North Korea’s fleet mostly pre-dates these developments and their performance in the open ocean has been less than stellar. It’s doubtful that their ballistic missile subs are much stealthier than the rest of the fleet.

Oh, and if you don’t like the Virginia class, we still have dozens of Los Angeles-class and Seawolf-class attack submarines that are also leaps and bounds ahead of anything North Korea can put to sea.

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The USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, fires an anti-submarine rocket that is otherwise known as the “North Korean party crasher.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann)

But surely we aren’t counting solely on a couple of subs being on-station when a potential war breaks out? Of course not —rest assured, scared doubter that I made up for this segue. America also has a number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that we deploy to the Korean peninsula, especially during anti-submarine exercises.

The Arleigh Burke-class vessels are equipped with the awesome Aegis radar that you’ve likely heard so much about. If not, it’s such an amazing air defense radar that it’s often used on land-based installations to counter nearly anything that flies including Russia’s nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

If a North Korean sub actually got a nuclear missile into the air, the Arleigh Burke-class has a good chance of knocking it right back out of the sky. The chances are slim that the sub would even get a chance to fire that missile since the Arleigh Burkes’ towed sonar array would likely find the sub and the destroyer’s anti-submarine rockets could put a quick end to it.

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These things can hover over you, waiting as long as is required to murder you and your whole crew.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis)

Add in the destroyer’s anti-submarine helicopter (yup, it has those), and it’s hard to imagine that those poor North Korean crews have much of a chance.

But what if all of that is somehow not enough? After all, the subs and ships have to get fairly close to the North Korean subs to find them, and there’s a lot of ocean out there.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

NK Sub: I’ll just hide way over here, far from the destroyers and subs. P-8 Poseidon: LOL

(U.S. Navy)

Luckily, the U.S. has also invested in a little thing called the P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft. It’s a Boeing 737, but with all the flight attendants and overhead bins ripped out and replaced with all the electronics you could ever imagine, all focused on spying out enemy submarines and reporting their locations to any and every asset in the area that can hurt them. Badly.

The plane can also do search and rescue or whatever, but that’s not important for this discussion.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

America has all these assets to destroy North Korean subs. Meanwhile, this North Korean sub was captured when it got itself stuck against the South Korean coast.

(Idobi, CC BY-SA 3.0)

So, with all the assets in theater, there are planes and helicopters in the air scooping up data on everything under the water, surface ships towing sonar arrays, and submarines carefully patrolling beneath the waves, listening to everything that happens in every nook and cranny.

And once one of them finds a target, Americans in the air, on the sea, and under the surface can all start pinning it in and attacking it with a vengeance. So, good luck, North Korean submarine crews. For your sake, you better hope that your engineers somehow created more stealthy submarines than the U.S., Russia, China, or NATO, because you will be very dead otherwise.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s new stealth attack drone just leaked

Russia’s new heavy attack drone, called the Okhotnik (Russian for “hunter”), just made its visual debut as a flying wing stealth platform intended to fight Moscow’s enemies from the air and inform the next generation of jet fighters.

The picture of the Okhotnik, posted on a Russian aviation blog and first reported at Aviation Week, shows a drone on a snowy runway with a flat flying wing design like the B-2 Spirit bomber of the US Air Force.


The B-2 represents the US’s stealthiest plane despite being originally built in the early 1980s, which owes to the flying wing design.

Fighter jets which hit supersonic speeds and maneuver tightly need vertical fins, meaning Russia’s Okhotnik likely places stealth above turning and air-to-air combat.

In July 2018, Russian media quoted a defense industry source as saying the Okhotnik could perform “any combat task in an autonomous regime,” but that the drone would require a human pilot to pull the trigger.

US drones only perform in an air-to-ground role, as they’re subsonic aircraft that would be sitting ducks to enemy fighters.

But the defense industry source claimed the “Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,” further suggesting some air-to-air role.

Recent pictures of Russia’s Su-57 fighter jet, billed as a stealth fifth-generation answer to the US F-22 and F-35 fighters, showed the manned fighter jet with a flying wing aircraft painted on its vertical stabilizer next to a silhouette of the Su-57.

Again, this seems to suggest a connection between the combat drone and air superiority fighters, though Russia’s own media describes the drone as having a takeoff weight of 20 tons and an airspeed in the high subsonic range.

Russia frequently makes unverified and dubious claims about its combat aircraft. Russia dubbed the Su-57, meant to fight F-22 and F-35 fighter s or beat top-end air defenses, “combat proven” after a few days of dropping bombs on militants in Syria who had no anti-air capabilities.

Additionally, a senior scientist working on stealth aircraft in the West told previously Business Insider that Russia’s Su-57 lacks any serious stealth treatment in a few painfully obvious ways.

Flight equipment will finally fit female aviators

Russia’s Okhotnik stealth attack drone revealed.

(Fighter_Bomber_ /Instagram)

But the sixth generation of fighter aircraft, or even the true purpose of the current, fifth generation of fighter aircraft, remains an open question. Many top military strategists and planners have floated the possibility of pairing advanced manned fighter jets with swarms of drones or legacy aircraft to act as bomb trucks or decoys.

By incorporating stealth drones into the operational plan for the Su-57, Russia may have considerably complicated the picture for US pilots and military planners who speak as though they have Russia’s jet fighters figured out.

Russia has a number of drones in operation, but typically has shied away from combat drones, as it still uses an affordable fleet of older Sukhoi fighter/bombers to drop bombs in Syria.

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

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