Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

In March 2019, the Marine Corps stood down its last squadron of EA-6B Prowlers. This stand down marked the end of the Prowler’s active service in the U.S. military. The tactical electronic warfare jamming bird first started its career in 1971, making it one of the oldest airframes still flying. Well, until Mar. 8th. 2019, it will be.

It will be replaced by the advanced capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, just like the F-35 replaced the F/A-18 Hornet and the AV-8B Harrier.


Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

#BabyPictures

It fought everyone from Ho Chi Minh to ISIS

First introduced to southeast Asia in 1972, the Prowler has been there with the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps through thick and thin, deploying more than 70 times and flying more than 260,000 hours.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Its victories were flawless

Not one Prowler has ever been lost to enemy action. Many have tried; North Vietnam, Libya, Iraq (a few times!), Iran, the Taliban, Panama, no one has been able to take down any of the 170 Prowlers built to defend America. Unfortunately, 50 of those were lost due to accidents and mishaps.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

An EA-6B Prowler at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

Its job was to jam enemy radar

But what to do when there’s no enemy radar to jam? It still blocks radio signals and weapon targeting systems. The Prowler was a perfect addition to the Global War on Terror, as it also could block cell signals and garage door openers, keeping troops on the ground safe from many remotely-triggered improvised explosive devices.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

It’s the longest serving tactical jet

F-16? Never met her. The service life of the Prowler beats that of even the F-16, making it the longest-serving tactical fighter jet in the history of the U.S. military.

For now.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

The Prowler helped ice Bin Laden

Sure, the SEALs had a specially-built top-secret helicopter to help them sneak into Pakistan. But it was an EA-6B Prowler that made sure the area around Osama bin Laden’s compound was free and clear of any pesky radar or electronic signals that might give the operation away.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Up late? 5 ways service members stay awake when the going gets tough

Exhaustion is the great equalizer. There comes a point for everyone when your body demands sleep, and if you aren’t willing to give it what it wants, things start to get rough. It doesn’t matter if you’re a soldier on post in a combat zone or a new mom trying to make it through the day after a sleepless night of diaper changes and bottle-boiling, the sandman comes for us all.

If you’re desperate for sleep, the best thing you can do is rack out and get some. If that’s not an option, however, here are some of the ways service members stay alert long after exhaustion has set in. They’re not always the healthiest options, but hey, if we were that worried about our health, we’d be getting some rest.


Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Instant coffee works best when you can chew it.

Caffeine

Ah, caffeine–the old standby. Whenever anyone’s tired, the first thing they think to do is pour themselves a nice hot cup of joe. Of course, in the field, that’s not always an option, but there are plenty of other ways to get your fix. Aside from the service-member favorite energy drinks, the most common field-sources of caffeine come in MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Some even now come with sticks of caffeinated gum.

If you’ve got the time and the hot water, the small packets of instant coffee that come in MREs can make for a passable cup, but plenty of guys simply pour the pouches into their lips like a pinch of chewing tobacco. Might not be delicious, but it’ll help keep you up. Of course, too much caffeine poses a number of problems, including dehydration and nausea, so there are limits to what a lipper of coffee can do for you.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Nicotine

Not just for smoke breaks, nicotine can also go far in helping to keep you conscious and alert during long nights on post or in the campus library. A lot of service members pick up cigarette or chewing tobacco habits during their time in uniform, in part because it offers something to do during long stretches of downtime, and in part because of the kick of energy you can get from a properly timed smoke break.

Of course, nicotine comes with a whole host of negative side effects, so choose your weapons wisely when waging war against your own exhaustion.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Debate

Many service members stumble across this tactic on post: you and another person are stuck in one place for a while with nothing to do but look at the horizon, so you spark up a bit of conversation. Before you know it, you’re arguing about whether or not Darkwing Duck was a better show than Duck Tales and you’ve both managed to kill two hours of your shift… so powerful is the magic of useless debate.

It’s important not to let friendly debate boil over into a full-fledged fight, however, which can be a real challenge sometimes when you’re operating on little sleep.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Get physical

Long after caffeine has failed you and nicotine is just giving you the shakes, there’s one more thing you can do to help you overcome the heaviest of eyelids: get up and get moving. Something as simple as hopping off your chair for a set of push-ups can get your blood pumping again. Go for a walk around the office or your house, karate chop some old boards in your garage, or haze yourself with a few sets of burpees.

And as an added bonus, you can meet the criteria for “getting physical” by getting into a fist fight with your buddy once your Ducktales debate gets out of hand.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

When your friends are counting on you, you do what you’ve got to do.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

Just ride it out

Eventually, if you ride out your exhaustion well into the next day, some of the worse symptoms will begin to subside. You’ll feel strange, hazy, and detached… but conscious nonetheless. The human body is capable of playing dirty to get you to do the things you need to do (like sleep), but it’s also good at letting you stay in the fight when it becomes clear the things you need to do aren’t in the cards.

Just like hunger pains will subside after a time, so too will the horrible weight of exhaustion… at least, for a few hours. Once that second wind subsides, you’ll be hurting worse than ever. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to rack out by then.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Air Force’s first chief of staff snuck to the front to kill 3 Germans

He would later be the first top officer of the independent U.S. Air Force, a job he earned partially by leading the Allied air forces against Germany and Japan, but in World War I Carl Spatz was just a captain in charge of America’s aerodrome in France. So, when his bosses tried to order him home near the end of the war, Spatz begged for a week at the front and used the time to shoot down three German planes.


Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

U.S. Air Service Illustration showing World War I combat between Allied pilots and a German pilot.

(United States Air Service)

(Spatz would change his name to Spaatz in 1937 at the request of his family to hide its German origin and to help more people pronounce it properly, like “spots,” but we’re using the earlier spelling here since it’s what he used in World War I.)

Spatz’s main job in World War I was commander of the 31st Aero Squadron, and building up the aerodrome at Issoudun where American flyers trained on their way to the front. This was also where large amounts of repair and logistics were handled for the small but growing American air service.

The job was important and indicated a large amount of trust in Spatz, but he hadn’t gone to West Point and commissioned as an infantry officer in order to watch everyone else fight wars while he rode a desk.

For most of the war, he did his job dutifully. He led the improvements at Issoudun Aerodrome that turned it from a mass of hilly, rocky mud pits that broke plane after plane to a functioning air installation. But that meant that he facilitated the training of units like the 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons and then had to watch them fly off to combat without him.

Future American aces like Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Lt. Douglas Campbell, and Capt. Hamilton Coolidge, passed under Spatz.

American pilots spent most of 1917 traveling to France and training, but the 94th Aero Squadron launched its first hostile mission in March 1918, and U.S. pilots were off to the races. Over the following six months, some American pilots were lost in a single day of fighting while others became ace-in-a-day or slowly racked up kills.

All the while, Spatz stayed at Issoudun, doing work.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

American pilots and gunners chewed through German pilots, but it was a tough fight. American troops joined the air war in 1917 and 1918, three years after some german pilots began earning experience.

(U.S. Army Pvt. J.E. Gibbon)

So when Spatz was ordered to the U.S. around late August 1918, he begged for a week on the front in France in order to get a little combat experience under his belt before returning home. That request was granted, and he went to the front in early September as a recently promoted major.

But in the first week, Spatz saw little combat and achieved no aerial victories, so he stuck around. He stuck around for three weeks, volunteering for missions but failing to bag any enemy pilots. But then, on September 26, he knew that an aerial attack was going down at Verdun and he asked to stay on duty to fly in it.

He went up on a patrol across enemy lines and took part in an attack on a group of German planes. The fighting was fierce, and Spatz was able to down three German planes in fairly quick succession. But even that wasn’t enough for Spatz once he had some blood on his teeth, and he gave chase to a fourth German plane fleeing east.

This was a mistake. Spatz flew too far before realizing that the rest of the friendly planes had already turned around because they were at bingo fuel. Spatz didn’t have enough gas to get home. But, despite his mistake, Spatz was still a disciplined and smart officer, and he went to salvage the situation as best he could.

He set himself up to get as far west as possible before his engine ran dry, and then he coasted the plane down to the ground, managing to crash into friendly territory, preventing his capture and allowing his plane to be salvaged.

For his hat trick, Spatz was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He would spend the interwar years advocating for air power while bouncing through between captain and major as the Army raised and lowered the number of officers who could be at each rank.

But in World War II, he quickly earned temporary promotions to major general and then lieutenant general. After the war, he was promoted to general and then appointed first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force in September 1947.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These 9 countries (probably) have nuclear weapons

The United Nations has introduced a treaty that it believes will eventually lead to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. A recent watchdog report said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a historically significant effort that’s gaining traction, which highlights the profound power imbalance between the few nuclear powers and the many countries without the devastating weapons.

“The rate of adherence to the TPNW is faster than for any other weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) treaty,” the report says.

But with an estimated 14,485 extant nuclear weapons, total elimination is more of a long-term goal.


This is an overview of the nine nuclear-armed states and the 31 nuclear-weapon-endorsing states — countries that do not develop or possess nuclear weapons but rely on another nuclear-armed state for protection.

All of these countries would need to make profound changes to reach the UN goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Russian nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine.

Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

The Russian Federation has an estimated 6,850 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

Armenia and Belarus, who both rely on Russia’s arsenal for “umbrella” protections, stand in violation of TPNW.

Russia is also only one of three nations to possess a nuclear “triad,” which includes intercontinental ballistic-missile delivery.

A nuclear “triad” refers to a nation’s ability to deploy its nuclear arsenal through intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers, as defined by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an advisory board that conducts research and provides analysis to encourage diplomacy.

The US is the only country to detonate nuclear weapons against an enemy, as it did in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks against Japan in August 1945.

The US has agreed to potentially use its nuclear weapons to protect NATO member states, as well as Japan, Australia and South Korea.

Because of these agreements, all 29 NATO member states, and the three who hold bilateral protection agreements with the US, are in violation of TPNW.

The US, which has a nuclear arsenal that’s nearly the size of Russia’s, is the only nation in the western hemisphere that possesses nuclear weapons, and one of three countries to possess the nuclear “triad.”

The US is also the only nation in the world to store nuclear weapons in other countries.

According to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor, the US is believed to store some 180 nuclear weapons in other countries.

This number has been “significantly reduced since the Cold War,” according to the report.

The United Kingdom can only launch its nuclear weapons from its four Vanguard-class submarines.

The United Kingdom is a NATO member state and shares in the umbrella protections of the alliance.

The kingdom maintains at least one nuclear-armed submarine on patrol at all times, under a Continuous at Sea Defense Posture, according to NWBM.

British policy also states that the country will not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against any “non-nuclear weapons state.”

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

A French Air Force Dassault Rafale fighter jet.

The French Dassault Rafale fighter jet can deploy a nuclear weapon with a warhead 20 times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

France, also a NATO member state, can only deliver its nuclear weapons via aircraft and submarines.

The ASMP-A is a 300-kiloton warhead, approximately 20 times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.

If a warhead of that size were to drop over Washington, DC, it would result in approximately 280,000 casualties.

Israel maintains a policy of “opacity,” while other nations promise not to use their nukes against countries that don’t have them.

China possesses a nuclear “triad,” but has agreed not to employ nuclear weapons against any nation in a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, which include Latin American and Caribbean nations, as well as some in Africa, the South Pacific and Central Asia.

US-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies reported 13 undeclared missile bases in North Korea.

Although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has publicly proclaimed a desire to denuclearize the entire Korean peninsula, there is no evidence that he has made any attempt to do so.

Reports vary as to the size of the North Korean nuclear arsenal. While the monitor follows conventional views that the country possesses 10 to 20 nukes, The Washington Post has previously reported that it may hold up to 60, citing confidential US assessments.

Negev Nuclear Research Center in Israel is said to have produced enough plutonium for 100 to 200 nuclear warheads.

Israel has never publicly admitted to possession of nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the international community operates on the assumption that since its inception, Israel has developed and maintained a nuclear arsenal.

The size of Israel’s cache remains unclear, and though it is possible that the nation holds enough enriched plutonium for 100 to 200 warheads, the NWBM accepts estimates from the Federation of American Scientists, which show that Israel possesses approximately 80 nuclear weapons.

The next Cold War may be between India and Pakistan, neither of which will back down its nuclear stance.

Attempts to develop intercontinental and submarine-launched nuclear missiles indicate that India may soon possess the nuclear “triad.”

Mainly due to tensions with Pakistan, some experts have questioned whether India’s “no first-use” posture will endure.

Pakistan can deliver its nuclear weapons from the ground and air and is allegedly developing methods of sea-based delivery to complete the nuclear “triad.”

Despite facing sanctions, Pakistan is reportedly expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than any other nation.

Similar to British policy, Pakistan claims it will not use or threaten to use its nuclear arsenal against any “non-nuclear” state, leaving many questions unanswered on the potential use against neighbor India, which also maintains nuclear weapons.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the Finns stopped the Soviets with this polka song

There’s a subsection of YouTube dedicated to playing the same song on repeat, over and over again, for hours at a time. Parents think it’s just a part of raising children when they have to listen to the same kids’ song, over and over again, for days at a time. Both of these cases have nothing on the five months of playing the exact same polka song over 1,500 times, continuously, as the Soviets retreated from Finland during the Continuation War.


As the Finns recaptured the city of Vyborg from the Soviets, they would have to travel across land saturated with mines left behind by the Soviets.  When the Finns chased out Soviet soldiers, the Soviets retreated to safety, the mines detonated and devastated the Finns. There were so many mines left that civilians, even after reclaiming the city, were still forbidden to reenter their homes.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
…if they still had one. (Photo via War Archive)

This was until an unexploded mine and the radio equipment next to it was brought to Jouko Pohjanpalo, credited as being the “father of Finnish radio” for his work establishing the Finnish radio field. Jouko tinkered with the explosives and the associated radio device and discovered that it operated at the frequency 715 kHz. Inside the radio receiver were three tuning forks. When a certain three-note sequence was sent over the radio and all three forks vibrated — boom.

Now all they needed to do was send out a signal to jam the sequence. They needed something fast with a lot of chords that wouldn’t also set off the mines. So, they played Säkkijärven Polkka by Viljo “Vili” Vesterinen. It was an immensely popular song at the time and many Finns associated it with great national pride, similar to how Americans feel today hearing America, F*ck Yeah!

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

And so began Operation: Säkkijärvi Polkka. The Finns blasted the song at 715 kHz so the mines wouldn’t explode and they continued to fight. The Soviets learned what was going on and changed the radio frequency for their mines. Because the Soviets didn’t change the mines, just the frequency, the Finns played the song on repeat on every frequency the mines could possibly operate on. Out of the one thousand or so mines in the city, only 12 went off.

In a press interview years later, Jouko told them,

In the crowds and the homeland, the operation received a legendary reputation because of its mystery. Säkkijärvi’s polka went together about 1,500 times. All kinds of rumors circulated about somebody crazy enough to have emitted it on every radio station.

To hear the majestic polka song that helped win a war, check out the video below.

(Dallape30 | YouTube)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the German military may look to recruit foreigners

The German military, the Bundeswehr, had 21,000 unfilled positions in 2017, and the service is now looking beyond its borders to fill its ranks.

A Defense Ministry report in late 2016 proposed recruiting from other EU countries, and the ministry confirmed in late July 2018 that it was seriously considering doing so.

“The Bundeswehr is growing,” a ministry spokesman told news agency DPA. “For this, we need qualified personnel.”


Germany’s military has shrunk since the Cold War. In 2011, the country ended mandatory military service. From a high of of 585,000 troops in the mid-1980s, the service’s numbers have fallen to just under 179,000 in mid-2018.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

A German infantryman stands at the ready with his Heckler Koch G36 during a practice exercise in 2004.

(U.S. Navy photo)

About half of current members of the German military are expected to retire by 2030, and with an aging population, finding native-born replacements may get tougher.

German leaders have pushed to add more troops while beefing up defense spending.

In mid-2016, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she would remove the cap of 185,000 total troops to help make the force more flexible. She said the military would look to add 14,300 soldiers over seven years. (In early 2017, the Defense Ministry upped that to 20,000 soldiers added by 2024.)

“The Bundeswehr is under pressure to modernize in all areas,” she said at the time. “We have to get away from the process of permanent shrinking.”

Efforts to grow have included more recruitment of minors — a record-high 2,128 people under 18 joined as volunteers in 2017, but signing up young Germans has been criticized.

Recruiting foreigners was generally supported by the governing parties, with some qualifiers.

Karl-Heinz Brunner, a defense expert and member of the Social Democrat Party, said foreigners who join up should be promised citizenship.

“If citizens of other countries are accepted, without the promise of getting a German passport, the Bundeswehr risks becoming a mercenary army,” he told German newspaper Augsburger Allegemeine.

Florian Hahn, a defense spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union, said such a recruitment model “could be developed,” but “a certain level of trust with every soldier must be guaranteed.”

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Burt W. Eichen)

‘Germany just doesn’t feel threatened’

Personnel woes are only part of the Bundeswehr’s problem.

Reports have emerged in recent years of shortages of everything from body armor to tanks. German troops overseas have been hamstrung by damaged or malfunctioning equipment. A lack of spare parts has left some weapons systems unusable.

Reports of inoperable fighter jets — and insufficient training for pilots — have raised questions about whether Germany can fulfill its NATO responsibilities. As of late 2017, all of Germany’s submarines were out of service, and the navy in general has struggled to build ships and develop a strategy.

Gen. Volker Wieker, the military’s inspector general, said in February 2018 that the force would be ready to assume command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in Eastern Europe in 2019.

The Bundeswehr had a long-term plan to address ” still unsatisfactory ” gaps in its capabilities, Wieker said, but it would take at least a decade to recover after years of dwindling defense spending.

Defense spending is a contentious issue in Germany — one supercharged by President Donald Trump’s attacks on NATO members for what he sees as failures to meet the 2%-of-GDP defense-spending level they agreed to reach by 2024.

Governing-coalition members have feuded over how to raise defense expenditures. Those in favor of a quick increase say it’s needed to fix the military. Others want the money directed elsewhere and have said Chancellor Angela Merkel is doing Trump’s militarist bidding.

“What we’ve seen in the last few years — really the sort of tragic and kind of embarrassing stories about the state of the Bundeswehr — that is certainly sinking in, and Germans are now supporting more defense spending than they have in the past,” Sophia Besch, a research fellow at the Center for European Reform, said on a recent edition of the Center for a New American Security’s Brussels Sprouts podcast .

“There is just this huge debate … around the 2% [of GDP defense-spending level] being the right way of going about it,” Besch added.

Some Germans also remain chastened by World War II and the Cold War, which devastated and then divided the country. The Bundeswehr still struggles with its Nazi history.

“There’s a definitely a generational aspect to this,” Besch said. “The sort of traditional pacifist approach … I think is mostly permanent in the older generations.”

Others just aren’t that worried.

“I think the issue today is that Germany just doesn’t feel threatened. Germans just don’t see a threat to themselves,” Besch added. “They see perhaps a threat in the East, but their relationship with Russia is complex. They just don’t see the need to invest that much in defense spending.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

From bazooka nukes to backpack A-bombs — 6 wild warheads the Cold War cooked up

In the United States of the 1950s and 1960s, there were a few things you could count on: poodle skirts, sock hops, rock ’n’ roll … and the ever-present specter of nuclear Armageddon. The technological innovation of the rocket age brought the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) into being, nukes that could conceivably end modern civilization in about an hour.

At the other end of the spectrum was a nearly farcical desire to bring nuclear weapons and nuclear power as the solution to every problem. Need a canal? A nuke will save millions of man-hours of digging. Need to improve your miles-per-gallon in your car? Trade your shitbox in for a nuclear-powered lead sled, and you’ll be able to drive around the world on a few ounces of uranium. 

While the more outlandish ideas never really got that far in the civilian sector, the military had no such constraints. In fact, when your evaluations are written based on how many bad guys your weapons can kill, it’s practically guaranteed to generate some truly exceptional flights of fancy. You can practically hear the meeting where someone asked, “But what if we made it nuclear?”

From the early days of the Cold War, NATO was confronted with overwhelming numbers from the Warsaw Pact. In 1961, for example, the Soviet Union had roughly a 2-to-1 numerical advantage in troops. While the West has always valued quality over quantity, quantity has a quality all its own. Accordingly, while strategic nukes threatened mutually assured destruction (MAD) upon the populations of the US and USSR, there was a whole family of tactical nukes designed merely for battlefield use. 

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Part of Operation Upshot-Knothole was a 15-kiloton shell test-fired from a 280 mm cannon on May 25, 1953, at the Nevada Proving Grounds on Frenchman’s Flat. Hundreds of high-ranking armed forces officers and members of Congress were present. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear artillery

Tactical nuclear missiles and bombs make intuitive sense, but as weapons were delegated to lower echelons, nuclear artillery gave new meaning to the term “danger close.” Starting with the 230 mm M65 “Atomic Annie” in 1953, “fire for effect” would have had a whole new meaning had the Cold War ever gone hot. Atomic Annie only ever fired one nuclear round in testing. It left service after the 203 mm M110 was fielded in 1963. But 155 mm nuclear shells stayed in the US arsenal until 1996.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
The Davy Crockett system required a three-man crew to operate and could be used in place of a turret on the back of a jeep. Photo courtesy of armyhistory.org.

Nuclear bazookas

If nuclear artillery isn’t exciting enough, try firing a nuclear weapon from a recoilless rifle, aka bazooka. The Davy Crockett came in both 120 mm (awesome) and 155 mm (more awesome) sizes and could be fired from either a tripod or the back of a jeep. Packing the equivalent of 15 to 20 tons of TNT, the Davy Crockett was intended to be a mainstay of the Army’s “Pentomic” divisions, which were designed around the presumably nuclear battlefield of a war in Europe. Thankfully, the Army decided that perhaps letting corporals roll around in jeeps with nukes wasn’t the best plan and retired the M28 and M29 in 1971. 

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Special Forces were once equipped with “backpack nukes,” which weighed about 90 pounds. Sandia National Laboratories archive photo.

Nuclear satchel charges

Being able to plant a time bomb and GTFO just in time has been a thing since before ’80s rocker Pat Benatar blew up Nazis in “Shadows of the Night.” Certain Special Forces detachments during the Cold War were equipped with the B54 atomic demolition munition, or “backpack nukes.” The B54 was designed to destroy critical infrastructure, either that of the enemy or to keep friendly assets from falling into enemy hands. With a 1-kiloton yield, the B54 wasn’t the most devastating weapon in the US arsenal, but tell that to the guy whose job it was to hump his way out of the blast radius.

Nuclear land mines

Leave it to the British to go full reductio ad absurdum and create the nuclear land mine. Unfortunately, it was not the sort of land mine where some poor Russian grunt takes a step and hears a click, followed by the biggest “oh shit” moment in history. The nuclear land mine was something more akin to a hand grenade placed underneath a corpse. As Soviet troops advanced, the mines would detonate behind their lines by command detonation or timer. Unfortunately (or probably fortunately) only two prototypes were built. 

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
An F-106 Delta Dart aircraft after firing a training version of the Genie over a range. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear air-to-air missiles

Usually, aerial combat is the epitome of precision killing: knights of the air, dueling mano a mano. Or, if you were a pilot in the 1950s and ’60s, you could just shoot the enemy with a nuclear-tipped missile. In the early days of the Cold War, NORAD still envisioned massive bomber raids, much like those the US inflicted on Japan. With that in mind, the unguided Genie missile packed a 1.5-kiloton warhead.  

It may have been the first fire-and-forget air-to-air missile, in that pilots had to execute quick turns away from their targets after firing or they could forget about coming back. The Falcon missile later added semiactive radar homing to at least get the nuke within a reasonable distance of the target. You might wonder whether shooting nuclear weapons over the US to protect it against nuclear attack is counterproductive. Don’t worry; they tested the Genie by blowing one up directly over the heads of five Air Force officers as proof of concept. 

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
A 1962 nuclear depth charge test. Wikimedia Commons image.

Nuclear torpedoes

Don’t leave the Navy out of the mix. They found that nuclear depth charges could effectively destroy submarines, albeit perhaps along with the ship dropping them. So, of course the solution was to put a rocket on the back of the depth charge to get it far enough away from the ship to keep the engagement from being a very localized version of mutually assured destruction. Submarines went on patrol with Mk45 nuclear torpedoes from 1959 all the way until 1976. Given how many close calls happened between US and Soviet subs during that time, that might not have been such a great idea.

While “if you can’t hit it, nuke it” is a valid design philosophy, it wasn’t a great military one. It makes one wonder if today’s military is similarly clueless as to the true utility of the cutting edge today, be that artificial intelligence or space travel. Regardless, I hope I’m still around in 2060 to make fun of them.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Britain has upgraded their Typhoons with awesome missiles

The Royal Air Force’s Typhoon jets have been successfully upgraded with enhanced sensors, better software, and the ability to use a new missile according to releases from military contractors and the Royal Air Force. The upgrades have taken three years and cost approximately $200 million, but the upgraded planes have already proven themselves in combat in Iraq and Syria.


All You Need To Know About The Typhoon Upgrade | Forces TV

www.youtube.com

The biggest change to the Typhoon was its integration with the Brimstone 2 missile. The Brimstone is an air-launched, anti-tank missile similar to the American Hellfire. It’s been developed specifically for its ability to hit fast-moving objects in cluttered environments, something that has been invaluable as it has already been deployed against ISIS and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria.

But the plane upgrades have also made other missiles work better. Software changes made the jet work better with the Storm Shadow, Paveway IV, Meteor, and ASRAAM. The Storm Shadow and Paveway IV are air-to-ground missiles while the Meteor and ASRAAM are air-to-air missiles.

Because the Typhoons were needed for missions in the Middle East and the Baltics, Typhoons that were upgraded were quickly pressed into operational missions. So the government and the contractors worked together to train pilots up in classrooms and simulators before units even received the new planes.

That’s what allowed British pilots in Typhoons to drop Brimstone 2s on targets in Syria and Iraq just a few months after their planes were upgraded, and it’s what allowed their counterparts in the Baltics to use these planes for patrols.

The completion of the upgrades, known as Project Centurion, was timely as the British Tornado is officially retiring. Typhoons will fly with British F-35s in a pairing of 4th and 5th-generation fighters, similar to America’s F-35s flying with F-18s and F-16s.

Britain’s future fighter, already in the early stages of development, will be the Tempest.

Humor

What these 9 vehicles say about the troops in your unit

In the 1994 classic Forrest Gump, the eponymous character begins his life story by talking about how his mama always said you can tell an awful lot about a person by their shoes. That’s very much true — if they’re not all wearing the same combat boots.


So, what personal belonging can you use to judge someone when everyone’s issued the same gear? That’s right: a troop’s vehicle.

Take, for example, a Toyota Prius driver. Chances are they’re a fresh, butterbar Lieutenant who graduated from some West Coast university before going to Officer Candidate School. They’re also probably the type of officer who doesn’t see anything wrong with telling the gritty, chain-smoking first sergeant that he technically outranks him. Then they’ll wonder what that blur they saw was just before getting choked out…

9. POS clunker

Troops can joke about not giving a single f*ck, but when this troop says it, you know they absolutely mean it.

If they’re not a broke E-1 who just needed a way to get around post, then their life and career are likely in the same condition.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

8. Reasonable (and bland) car

This person probably has their life together. They got the car at a reasonable rate and they’re probably a pretty nice person who will help the new guy in the unit get squared away. And then — poof — they’re ETSing to go to college on the GI Bill.

These inoffensive, average troops will likely never be brought up in anyone’s “no sh*t, there I was” story.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
If it weren’t for their ID, you’d never believe they actually served. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Muro)

7. Lifted pick-up truck

There’s no way this person is able to see through their rear-view mirror. They’ve either got a truck bed full of crap they’re helping other people move around, they can’t see through their many gun racks, or they’ve printed out their enlisted record brief and have plastered every medal they’ve ever been awarded on there.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

6. The ironic white Toyota Hilux

This guy thinks he’s a joker. The white Toyota Hilux is the vehicle of choice of many of the terrorists he fought. This guy thinks it’s freaking hilarious to drive one around as a trophy vehicle (but they probably just picked it up off Craigslist).

They’ll probably tell the squad an unfunny joke in the middle of formation, look around when no one laughs, and then say it again before being told to shut the f*ck up.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

5. Brand-new Mustang or Corvette

These guys fall into one of two categories. Maybe they actually do understand cars and take pride in their baby. Maybe they saved up money to find the perfect muscle car at a decent rate. Maybe they’re not a complete showoff. Nine times out of ten, the three previous statements are false.

The one guy who regularly maintains his Corvette in the barracks parking lot absolutely hates the other nine because they give him a bad name.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Hey, look! A unit just came back from a deployment! (Photo by Sgt. Apryl Bowman)

4. Mysterious Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

Don’t ask questions of this guy. You don’t know where or how they got the vehicle and you’re afraid to hear the answer.

This guy actually does know cars, which could be useful on motor pool days — if they weren’t at their fourth dental appointment this month.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Ask them no questions and they’ll tell you no lies. (Photo by Spanish Coches)

3. Minivan with military spouse stickers

“F*ck my life” is the mantra of this troop. You’ll find these senior NCOs in the training room talking about their glory days. They used to be somebody. Once they were loved by their troops and feared by their enemies. This man was a goddamn war hero…

…And now his life is babysitting troops. He tells his men Tide Pods aren’t edible before going home and watching the same episode of Paw Patrol for the 500th time with his three kids.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Their wife probably let them keep one bumper sticker to maintain some sort of dignity. (Meme via Smosh)

2. The Harley Cruiser

Remember the first sergeant that choked out the butterbar in the earlier Prius example? This is that guy.

It’s nothing personal — this dude truly does hate everyone. He’s definitely going to remind people that it takes an act of Congress to demote him before he takes his KA-BAR to the Hilux Joker’s tires.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Thankfully, they probably won’t do a recall formation on the weekend because they don’t want to come back either. (Photo by Sgt. John Carkeet IV)

1. High-end luxury vehicle

This person hasn’t spent a day of their adult life outside of the military but they will scare people right into the retention office like they’re on commission.

They’re probably married and their civilian spouse is almost guaranteed to raise hell at the main gate if they’re not saluted.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
“Do you know who the hell my husband is?” — “Do you know the hell am, ma’am?” (Photo by Valerie OBerry)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Netflix’s ‘Extraction’ sees Chris Hemsworth kick butt without a hammer

Chris Hemsworth may be best known for his recurring role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his new movie set to premier on Netflix called Extraction sees the leading man trade his magic hammers in for a different sort of nail driver: an M4.


Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

i.ytimg.com

The story, as depicted in this first trailer, seems to parallel plot points from the 2018 film Sicario: Day of Soldado, with Hemsworth playing a similar role to that of Benicio Del Toro’s “Alejandro.” Hemsworth is a mercenary tasked with rescuing the child of a drug lord from an unnamed (but desert-looking) city seemingly hell bent on the boy’s death.

As the trailer comes to a climax, Hemsworth’s character (named Tyler Rake) is presented with a choice: he can either desert the boy to be killed in order to escape the city, or choose to stay and continue protecting him with no clear way out. While the trailer doesn’t specifically show Hemsworth making a decision, the trailer (or movie tropes in general) make it pretty clear that he makes the good-guy call and sticks with the young man.

In another strange plot parallel with the Sicario sequel, Hemsworth’s character is depicted as a man with a death wish and singular purpose, broken inside over the loss of his own son years ago. In Day of Soldado, Alejandro spends the film saving a drug lord’s daughter–despite being broken inside over the death of his own family (which was ordered by the girl’s father).

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

So sure, the story may not be all that original, but when was the last time you saw an action flick break new ground in the plot department? This movie may have a lot in common with another tactical thriller, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a blast to watch.

And in truth, the vibe of this movie seems pretty far off from the Sicario approach of leveraging darkness and quiet to create suspense. Instead, Hemsworth is shown fighting his way through a city in an action packed three minutes that managed to sell me on watching this movie despite that apparent re-tread of a plot.

That action and lighter tone may be credited to the movie’s producers: the Russo brothers that helmed some of the most successful Marvel films, like Avengers: Endgame and Captain America: Winter Soldier. The Russo brothers have mastered the art of delivering gut wrenching scenes in films that are otherwise little more than action-extravaganzas, and it seems likely that we’ll see more of that in Extraction.

Netflix’s Extraction starts streaming on April 24.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army wants anti-missile lasers for its vehicles

The U.S. Army is getting closer to mounting lasers on vehicles for protection against incoming enemy rocket, artillery, and mortar fire.

The Army awarded Raytheon Company a contract worth up to $10 million to develop a “100 [Kilowatt] class laser weapon system preliminary design for integration onboard the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles,” or FMTV, according to a July 2, 2018 press release from Raytheon.

The High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstration program is part of the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 initiative.


In 2017, the Army tested 5 and 10-Kilowatt lasers, but 50 and 100-Kilowatt lasers will provide more lethality to engage targets at longer ranges, Army officials say.

“The beauty of this system is that it’s self-contained,” Roy Azevedo, vice president of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems at Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business unit, said in the release. “Multi-spectral targeting sensors, fiber-combined lasers, power and thermal sub-systems are incorporated in a single package. This system is being designed to knock out rockets, artillery or mortar fire, or small drones.”

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts
Spc. Brandon Sallaway, shows Staff Sgt. Eric Davisu00a0an unmanned aerial device he shot down with a laser during the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment.u00a0The lasers, Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser, were mounted on Stryker armored vehicles.
(Photo by Monica K. Guthrie)

In the next phase of the program, the Army will award a system development and demonstration contract valued at $130 million to a company to build and integrate a weapon system on the FMTV, according to the release.

The contract award is expected in 2019, the release states.

Over the past decade, the Defense Department has shown great interest in solid-state laser technology, which can be used to direct high levels of heat energy toward targets.

The directed energy can strike a specific spot on enemy drones or missiles and cause several failures at once. Once perfected, the technology could provide a low-cost alternative to weapon systems that require expensive ammunition, military officials say.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Paratrooper fails demonstrate butt-clenching jump ramp errors

Military static line parachuting is safe when practiced correctly, but minor mistakes can quickly turn a jump into a disaster. Take a look at these.

This video appeared on social media early March 2019 from the Flintlock 2019 military exercise in the Sahel region of Africa. Whoever the unit is in the video — and no one is giving them credit (or blame…) — they demonstrate about every aircraft exit mistake a static line parachutist can make short of actually forgetting to hook up their static line.


The video has disappeared from social media, but we managed to make a video of the video before it disappeared.

African Jump Errors Exercise Flintlock 19, 2019.

www.youtube.com

The first man looks like he is trying to do a side-door exit from an aircraft, when he’s actually using the tailgate. It’s weird, because tailgating an aircraft — jumping from the rear cargo ramp, is easier than exiting the side door of an aircraft. U.S. paratroopers look forward to the rare opportunity to do a “Hollywood tailgate party”, a daytime static line jump from a rear cargo ramp without carrying heavy combat gear. It’s the safest, easiest jump a paratrooper can make. The first troop makes a safe exit, but his parachute deployment probably had some twisted parachute risers.

The third guy should be commended for his motivation, if not his style. It looks like he is doing a freefall exit, not a static line exit. It likely went OK for him, but the opening shock probably spun him around some, making for an uncomfortable parachute deployment.

The third man out executes a pretty nice exit; feet and knees (sort of) together, relatively tight body position, hands protecting his reserve parachute. The black hat instructors at the U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning might give this exit a “Go”.

Things really go south for the fourth guy, who face plants on the exit ramp. He may have been hesitant to exit, he may have tripped on the non-skid surface of the exit ramp, hard to say, but he makes an incredible mess of the exit and belly-flops out the rear exit ramp. This is extremely dangerous because falling on your reserve parachute, worn in front by these jumpers, could accidentally deploy it. It may get tangled in the jumper’s main parachute and, at low jump altitudes of around 600-800 feet and sometimes even less, could cause a catastrophic malfunction with way too fast of a descent rate and no way to untangle the two chutes before impact. Expect broken bones at best.

The rest of the jumpers seem justifiably freaked out by this. But the fifth man sucks it up and makes a passable, if messy, exit. His feet are too far apart. Static line parachute jumpers must “maintain a tight body position and count” to insure the parachute does not accidentally deploy between their legs. I don’t have to explain why having the static line become high speed dental-floss deal between your legs would be bad.

Jumper number six just isn’t sure about this whole “Airborne!” thing. He decides to sit down on the exit ramp for a minute and contemplate his participation in the elite parachute infantry. Someone on the aircraft, presumably the jumpmaster, motivates him by shouting “GO!”. After his moment of quiet reflection on the future of his military career, he apparently decides that being an elite airborne trooper is worth a bit of a risk and tentatively tumbles off the ramp. He may have also calculated that leaving the aircraft from the seated position got him about two feet closer to the ground upon exit, thereby presumably making the jump safer.

Jumpers seven and eight both execute fairly decent exits, at least relative to the other jumpers, but that’s a pretty low bar.

Jumper nine defies description. He apparently deduces that using his butt as a kind of braking device upon exit may make his jump somehow safer or easier. Whatever the reason he smacked against the exit ramp on exit, that had to hurt. He also kind of flaps his arms in a bird-like motion. Maybe he doesn’t trust his ‘chute.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

(Video: YouTube via Facebook)

That was it for this stick of jumpers. It would seem as though these guys need to head back to the jump ramp simulator and practice some exits if they are going to continue their Airborne careers. Whatever the case may be, nearly every exit on this jump demonstrates what can go wrong when a static line tailgate parachute jump is executed poorly. For that reason, we owe these guys for 32 seconds of video that is destined to go down in Airborne history as a documentary on how not to leave an aircraft.

The Author of this article was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what it’s like to enlist after growing up in the post-9/11 world

It was a cold February in 2014 when I was staying at a tiny U.S. Army installation right near the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea with the rest of my company. We hadn’t been there long before we got our first mail drop, right before Valentine’s Day. Some of us got care packages, but everyone in my platoon got a letter.

These letters were sent by elementary school kids back in the States — probably around third grade — and they were just as you’d expect: immaculate spelling, artwork that rivaled the classic greats, and fine calligraphy. Jokes aside, receiving that letter put me in an interesting head-space.

At that point, the war in Iraq had mostly died down. Marines were still being sent to Afghanistan, but just a handful of months prior, we were reflecting upon the 12th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks that kick-started the whole shebang.


Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

1st platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in South Korea. C. 2014.

(Dave Grove)

What I realized then and there is that, just a decade earlier, I was the elementary school kid writing a letter to some service member who was, at that time, fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, I was even younger than whoever penned my letter when I saw the events of that fateful September day repeated on the news. The kid who wrote the letter in my hands now wasn’t even around in 2001.

It never occurred to me, especially back at the turn of the century, that I would one day enlist to fight in the same war that started when I was a kid.

When I was growing up, you’d hear this left and right: “Don’t join the military, you’ll go to war and die.” I always dismissed it as ignorant. After all, my father fought in the war before this one and he came back, didn’t he? But, at the time, half of that statement was true. If you enlisted immediately after 9/11, there was a near guarantee you’d go to war.

That sentiment followed me through boot camp.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and I was still sure I’d go to war. But, with time comes change — and that’s exactly what happened. From the time I went to MEPS and had an old guy tell me to turn my head and cough to the time I walked across the parade deck at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, everyone said I would go to war. My recruiter, my drill instructors, everyone.

But once I got to the School of Infantry, things had mellowed out a bit.

I never went to war. In fact, a lot of people I served with never did. The crazy thing is that it was the reason we enlisted. We were kids when 9/11 happened and we grew up during the war that it spawned. We had time to grow angry about what had happened and we enlisted for a lot of the same reasons as our predecessors.

Say goodbye to the EA-6B Prowler with these fun facts

Marine Corps Ball in 2014. That’s me on the left.

(Dave Grove)

What blows my mind the most, however, is that I completed my service over two years ago and that war is still going on, even if the Marine Corps infantry isn’t actively involved. Meanwhile, that kid who wrote me the letter is probably sitting in a high school classroom learning about 9/11 as a historical event — not as something that happened to them.

Makes you feel old, doesn’t it?

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