The complete hater's guide to the F-15 Eagle - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

The F-15 Eagle has proven itself as one of the best air-superiority planes of all time. In fact, unlike some legends of air combat, including the P-51, F-86, and F-4 Phantom, it remains undefeated. This plane is loved for its speed, performance, and sheer dominance in combat.

Despite all that, there are some folks who hate this aerial powerhouse. This, too, is very understandable — and the hate isn’t limited to those who’ve faced it in air-to-air combat (though we’re sure they make the list).

Plenty of folks have reasons to hate the F-15C. These reasons, specifically.


The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
A F-15C Eagle fires an AIM-7 Sparrow.
(USAF)

 

Why it’s easy to make fun of the F-15C

The F-15C Eagle is always flying high — it has its cockpit in the clouds. But it’s not like it can do anything air-to-ground, anyway. It was developed as a strict fighter, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher, with some bomb-dropping ability tacked on as an afterthought

So, this is a plane that hasn’t gotten any real action since 1999, when F-15s scored kills a few MiGs over Serbia. Twenty years without any real action — that’s one heck of a dry spell.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Nope, nothing loaded to help support the grunts.
(USAF)

 

Why we should hate the F-15C

Well, what does it do for the grunts? Nothing. As an air-to-air specialist, the grunts don’t get jack from the Eagle. In essence, the pilots are getting flight pay to… what? Bore holes in the sky? To wait for MiGs and Sukhois that never come? To bring their ordnance back to base?

Plus, these birds are getting up there in years — some are even falling apart. These planes need replaced. Restart the F-22 production line, anyone?

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
When Eagles are around, Fulcrums and Flankers won’t be.
(USAF)

 

Why you ought to love the F-15C

When it comes right down to it, the F-15C is the plane that makes it possible for every other plane to support grunts. Without the Eagle, the enemy could very well achieve air superiority, and that would leave planes like the A-10 and F-16 in a world of hurt.

Instead, historically, it’s been enemy planes that end up getting shot down or being forced to dump ordnance long before they reach their targets. Thanks to the F-15, A-10s and F-16s can drop their bombs, launch their missiles, and fire their guns at the bad guys without having to worry about enemy fighters.

Furthermore, it will keep dominating for years, aging like fine wine.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps plans to replace LAV with new ‘transformational ARV’

The Marine Corps plans to begin replacing its legacy Light Armored Vehicle with modern Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle late in the next decade.

The ARV will be highly mobile, networked, transportable, protected and lethal. The capability will provide, sensors, communication systems and lethality options to overmatch threats that have historically been addressed with more heavily armored systems.

“The ARV will be an advanced combat vehicle system, capable of fighting for information that balances competing capability demands to sense, shoot, move, communicate and remain transportable as part of the naval expeditionary force,” said John “Steve” Myers, program manager for MCSC’s LAV portfolio.


Since the 1980s, the LAV has supported Marine Air-Ground Task Force missions on the battlefield. While the LAV remains operationally effective, the life cycle of this system is set to expire in the mid-2030s. The Corps aims to replace the vehicle before then.

Marine Corps Systems Command has been tasked with replacing the vehicle with a next-generation, more capable ground combat vehicle system. In June 2016, the Corps established an LAV Way-Ahead, which included the option to initiate an LAV Replacement Program to field a next-generation capability in the 2030s.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

U.S. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle.

Preliminary planning, successful resourcing in the program objectives memorandum and the creation of an Office of Naval Research science and technology program have set the conditions to begin replacing the legacy LAV with the ARV in the late-2020s.

“The Marine Corps is examining different threats,” said Kimberly Bowen, deputy program manager of Light Armored Vehicles. “The ARV helps the Corps maintain an overmatched peer-to-peer capability.”

The Office of Naval Research has begun researching advanced technologies to inform requirements, technology readiness assessments and competitive prototyping efforts for the next-generation ARV.

The office is amid a science and technology phase that allows them to conduct advanced technology research and development, modeling and simulation, whole system trade studies and a full-scale technology demonstrator fabrication and evaluation.

These efforts will inform the requirements development process, jump-start industry and reduce risk in the acquisition program.

The office is also supporting the Ground Combat Element Division of the Capabilities Development Directorate by performing a trade study through the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Michigan. This work will help to ensure ARV requirements are feasible and to highlight the capability trade space.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

U.S. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicles with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division standby to be armed with ammunition to conduct a platoon level gunnery range at Fort Irwin, California, March 22, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Justin M. Smith)

ONR has partnered with industry to build two technology demonstrator vehicles for evaluation. The first is a base platform that will comprise current, state-of-the-art technologies and standard weapons systems designed around a notional price point. The second is an “at-the-edge” vehicle that demonstrates advanced capabilities.

“The purpose of those vehicles is to understand the technology and the trades,” said Myers.

In support of acquisition activities, PM LAV anticipates the release of an acquisition program Request for Information in May 2019 and an Industry Day later in the year to support a competitive prototyping effort. The Corps expects a Material Development Decision before fiscal year 2020.

“We will take what we’ve learned in competitive prototyping,” said Myers. “Prior to a Milestone B decision, we’ll be working to inform trade space, inform requirements and reduce risk.”

The Corps believes the ARV will support the capability demands of the next generation of armored reconnaissance.

“This vehicle will equip the Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion within the Marine Divisions to perform combined arms, all-weather, sustained reconnaissance and security missions in support of the ground combat element,” said Myers. “It’s expected to be a transformational capability for the Marine Corps.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

This new ‘Surf Rifle’ is built to benefit wounded vets who like to hit the waves

There’s always One More Wave.


This is gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo at Breach-Bang-Clear.

Remember. At the risk of sounding unnecessarily contumelious, we must remind you – this is just an be advised, a public service if you will, letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. If you have questions about it, you’ll need to reach out to the respective organizations.

Grunts: Contumelious.

Surfers and guns — sometimes it’s a thing, ‘specially when those surfers are former pipe-hitters who love the sea, surf, and spray.

That’s why U.S. Navy veteran Alex West launched One More Wave, a non-profit that hand builds specialized surfboards that accommodate different veterans’ injuries. They want to make it easier for those disabled veterans to get back to riding waves. It’s therapeutic.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

As you can imagine, it’s hard to surf with just one leg, even if you have a badass prosthetic leg.

The new blaster is called the OMW Rifle. It’s a Noveske Gen III 300BLK with a 16 in. barrel (full specs below), and a large portion of proceeds from its sales will be donated to One More Wave.

They’ll use that money to help rehabilitate wounded vets — not just physically, but emotionally as well.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

Check ’em out.

Go check out the full specs on the rifle here on the Noveske website.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

Here’s how Noveske describe their decision to help One More Wave.

“One More Wave is a non-profit charity started by US military veterans with the focus of enhancing the recovery of wounded or disabled vets via ocean therapy.  They work with vets who have a wide range of disabilities, and hand craft surfboards to suit the specific injury. These surfboards are customized with graphics, and when needed, customized for performance- working with specific physical disabilities. Noveske is proud to partner with One More Wave to help raise money for the creation of these fully customized surfboards. A large portion of the profit of the One More Wave rifle will be donated to aid in offsetting the cost of building the boards, and providing each vet with a special, life changing experience.

It’s a story that moved us so much that we hit the drawing board with the One More Wave crew to cook up a new Gen III Noveske rifle, where a portion of their proceeds will go directly to aiding them in their mission of creating custom surf equipment to help veterans find that next wave and discover the therapy they need.”

About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch a Croatian Volcano battery erupt in a live-fire exercise

Artillery has long been the king of battles — but one of these kings has been far more devastating than others. Guns are accurate, but one conventional shell won’t do the job against a lot of bad guys, and a nuclear artillery round, like one from the W48, is overkill.


The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
A M270 MLRS fires a rocket. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Thankfully, there’s middle ground: rockets. More accurately, there’re multiple-launch rocket systems. Perhaps the most well-known is the M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. This system fires 12 rockets to a range of up to 44 miles. It’s lethal and it’s been combat-proven in Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror.

But M270 isn’t the only system of its type out there. Russia had the first, notorious Katyusha and, most notably, the BM-21. The BM-21 was Russia’s primary multiple-launch rocket system. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the BM-21 holds 40 rockets and can fire them up to 20 miles away — not bad for a system that entered service in 1964, 18 years before the United States Army had the MLRS.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The BM-21, a widely-exported multiple-launch rocket system. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

The thing is, like a number of older Russian systems, it was widely exported. And, just as India did with its MiG-21s, some countries have upgraded their old Russian tech. Romania, for example, made modifications to the BM-21 to create the APRA-40. This system is based on a six-wheeled truck. Romania exported this system to a number of other countries, including Croatia.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
A Romanian-built APR-40, that country’s own multiple-launch rocket system. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

The Croatians reportedly want to buy the American M270, but until then, this modern version of Russia’s famous BM-21 will help them hold the line. You can see what these launchers, assigned to the “Volcano” Battery of the Croatian Army, can do below:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army is issuing a Marine Corps sniper rifle to squads

The Marines have often had to follow the Army’s lead on procurement. When the Army wants a rifle, the Marines have to get it as well. Part of this is due to logistics — it’s easier to keep a single set of spare parts. When a unit needs more magazines, it’s simpler to make sure they’re sent the right part when choices are limited. Now, however, the script has been flipped.


The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Australian Army Pvt. Levi Mooney, right, bumps fists with a child during a patrol in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, July 26, 2013. Mooney carries a HK417 rifle, similar to the M110A1 that will be the new squad-level designated marksman rifle. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick)

The Army is now following the lead of the Marine Corps and buying a rifle that is based off a Marine project. The new Army weapon system, designated the M110A1, is a scaled-up version of the Marine’s M38 that’s able to fire the 7.62x51mm NATO round.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M38 Squad Designated Marksmanship Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)

The baseline M110 is a Semi-Automatic Sniper System and is based on a rifle built by Knight Armaments System. The M110 features a 20-shot magazine and a 20-inch Chrome Plated 5R Cut barrel. The system has been used by the Army and Marines for over a decade and was considered one of the Army’s best inventions of 2007.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
U.S. Soldiers with 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team prepare to engage enemy combatants in Chak district, Wardak province, Afghanistan. The kneeling soldier has an M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, which is being replaced by the M110A1. (DoD photo by Pfc. Donald Watkins, U.S. Army)

The M110A1 is also designated the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System and is based on the Heckler and Koch G28/HK417 rifle. It is slated to replace modified M14 rifles currently in use by the Army. This is not the first time the Army has used a semi-automatic sniper system. The M21 sniper rifle was used by Army snipers in the Vietnam WarAdelbert Waldron was the top American sniper in that war with 109 confirmed kills. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
A rifle similar to the M110A1, the MR762A1, is available on the civilian market. (Heckler and Koch photo)

The M110A1 will be fielded among Army units later this year. Heckler and Koch, which makes this rifle, also sells a civilian version, the MR762A1.

Articles

This converted airliner was death for Allied convoys in the Atlantic

One of Nazi Germany’s most deadly weapons wasn’t really a weapon at all – at least not when it first took flight. However, it did eventually became a deadly foe; not for what it could drop, but for what it could see. It also set the pattern for two iconic planes of the Cold War.


The Focke-Wolf Fw 200 Condor began its life as an airliner for Lufthansa, according to aircraftaces.com. As a civilian transport, it generated some export orders to Denmark and Brazil. As an airliner, the Fw 200 held 26 passengers, and was able to fly from Berlin to New York non-stop.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Fw 200 as an airliner. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Fw 200 as a maritime patrol plane. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In World War II, the airliner versions were used as military transports by the Germans. But the real impact would come because the prototype for a reconnaissance version requested by the Imperial Japanese Navy. According to uboat.net, the Luftwaffe looked at the prototype, and requested that designer Kurt Tank make some changes.

What emerged was a plane that could fly for 14 hours, and carry 2,000 pounds of bombs. By February 1941 they were responsible for putting 363,000 tons of merchant shipping on the bottom of the Atlantic. That is the rough equivalent of four Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Two Fw 200 Condors parked. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

But the Condor’s real lethality wasn’t from what it dropped, it was from what it told the Germans — namely the locations of Allied convoys necessary to keep England in the war. That allowed Karl Donitz to vector in U-boat “wolfpacks” to attack the convoys some more.

Ultimately, when the British began to field catapult-armed merchantmen and eventually escort carriers, the Germans had the Condors avoid combat and just report the positions. By 1943, though, the Condor had been shifted to transport missions.

At the end of the war, the Fw 200 returned to the maritime strike role, carrying Hs 293 anti-ship missiles.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The ultimate legacy of the Fw 200 Condor: P-8A Poseidon aircraft No. 760 takes off from a Boeing facility in Seattle, Wash., for delivery to fleet operators in Jacksonville, Fla., marking the 20th overall production P-8A aircraft for the U.S. Navy.  (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Boeing Defense)

The Fw 200, even though it was on the losing side of World War II, was a ground-breaking concept. In the Cold War, two major maritime patrol aircraft used by Germany’s World War II enemies — the Lockheed P-3 Orion and the British Aerospace Nimrod — were based on airliners themselves (the Lockheed Electra and the de Havilland Comet). The Boeing P-8 Poseidon, replacing the Orion and Nimrod, is based on the Boeing 737.

The Condor has a long legacy – one that continues to this day.

Articles

This is what happens when the Army puts a laser on an Apache attack helicopter

The United States Special Operations Command just tested a high-energy laser on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, marking the first time such a weapon has been deployed aboard a rotary-wing aircraft.


According to a press release from defense company Raytheon, the test was a complete success, “providing solid experimental evidence for the feasibility of high resolution, multi-band targeting sensor performance and beam propagation supportive of High Energy Laser capability for the rotary-wing attack mission.”

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
Matthew Ketner, branch chief of the High Energy Laser Controls and Integration Directorate at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia, shows the effects of laser hits on materials during Lab Day in the Pentagon, May 18, 2017. (Photo Credit: Mr. David Vergun (Army News Service))

“This data collection shows we’re on the right track. By combining combat proven sensors, like the MTS, with multiple laser technologies, we can bring this capability to the battlefield sooner rather than later,” the release quoted Raytheon vice president of Advanced Concept and Technologies for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems Art Morrish as saying.

The Apache used a HEL mated with a version of Raytheon’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which combined electro-optical and infrared sensors, against a number of targets. The data from this test will be used to future HEL systems to address unique challenges that stem from their installation on rotary-wing aircraft, including the effects of vibration, downwash, and dust.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
(DOD photo)

The Apache has had laser systems since it entered service in 1984, but the lasers were low-power systems that are used to guide AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. A HEL will have the ability to destroy targets.

An Army release noted that the service has also tested lasers on the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck in April 2016 and the Stryker this past February and March. In both cases, the lasers downed a number of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Navy has a laser on board USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, formerly LPD 15), which is currently operating in the Persian Gulf.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. | US Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released

Lasers offer a number of advantages over artillery and missiles. Notably, they are invisible, and the power of the weapon can be adjusted to handle a specific material, like steel plating or Kevlar. HELs can even be set for non-lethal effects on people.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

No one is debating the effectiveness of the AH-64 Apache. It’s one of the deadliest combat aircraft ever fielded. In Afghanistan, its mere presence in the sky is enough to deter enemy fighters from even thinking about taking a shot on troops on the ground. However, there’s something to be said for close air support provided by fixed-wing aircraft. Of course, everyone is familiar with the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II and its ability to deliver huge volumes of precision fire on ground targets.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The Air Force won’t get rid of the A-10 because they don’t want the Army to get it (U.S. Air Force)

In WWII, the Army Air Corps tore into German supply convoys with the P-47 Thunderbolt at low altitude. In Korea and Vietnam, the Navy and Marine Corps utilized the A-1/AD-4 Skyraider with great efficiency to support ground troops. Today, the Marine Corps still integrates its infantry with close air support through the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. By combining these two crucial components, the MAGTF is able to organically conduct combat operations with increased efficiency. Marines on the ground are supported by Marines in the air and everyone speaks the same language and knows what the other needs to do their job. So, why doesn’t the Army do this?

After the creation of the Air Force in 1947, the military needed to clearly define its purpose amongst the established branches. In 1948, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal held a meeting with the service chiefs in Key West, Florida to do just that. Due to the location of the meeting, the policy paper that resulted is commonly referred to as the Key West Agreement. Broadly, the agreement gave the Air Force control of everything in the sky. The Air Force’s functions included air superiority, strategic air warfare, close combat and logistical air support, aerial intelligence gathering, strategic airlift, and even maritime operations like antisubmarine warfare and aerial mine-laying. However, the agreement did provide for the Navy to retain its combat air arm “to conduct air operations as necessary for the accomplishment of objectives in a naval campaign.” The Army, on the other hand, made out like a bad divorce. Army aviation assets were reduced to solely reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes.

The Key West Agreement was built upon with the Pace-Finletter Memorandum of Understanding of 1952. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter came together to expand the Army’s allowed aviation capabilities. In an effort to restrict the Army’s use of combat aircraft, the Key West Agreement limited the weight of Army rotary-wing aircraft. With the Pace-Finletter MOU, this weight restriction was removed, paving the way for combat helicopters like the UH-1 Huey gunship, AH-1 Cobra, and AH-64 Apache. However, it did place an arbitrary weight restriction of 5,000 pounds on Army fixed-wing aircraft. Although this restriction was later modified, it set the precedent to make the Army reliant on the Air Force for close air support and airlift.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The Army CV-7 Buffalo (U.S. Army)

If the previous agreements weren’t enough, the Johnson-McConnell Agreement of 1966 was one more blow to Army fixed-wing aviation. In Vietnam, mountainous terrain made resupply by airlift difficult with the Air Force’s primary cargo planes like the C-123 Provider which required 1,750 feet of runway to take off. To address this problem, the Army employed the CV-2 Caribou and planned to acquire the CV-7 Buffalo airplanes. Both planes could perform short takeoffs and landings while carrying more cargo than the Army and Air Force’s helicopters could lift in and out. This didn’t sit well with the Air Force and private negotiations were held between Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson and Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell. The resulting agreement forced the Army to relinquish control of the CV-2 and CV-7 to the Air Force. However, the Air Force did relinquish its sweeping control over rotary-wing aircraft. This expanded the Army’s ability to field helicopters and resulted in the diverse fleet that the Army Aviation Branch fields today.

While the Army doesn’t fly CAS airplanes like the A-10 and is still technically restricted from acquiring new CAS airplanes like the A-29 Super Tucano, it’s worth noting that the Army does have some fixed-wing aircraft. The Army flies nealy 200 turboprop R/C-12 Hurons for light transport and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Something that will further surprise most people is that the Army does fly jet aircraft for VIP transport. The UC-35 is based on a Cessna business jet and the C-37 and C-20H are based on Gulfstreams.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The C-12 is the one airplane that active duty Army aviators can select out of flight school (U.S. Army)

Though these 20th century agreements prevent the Army from flying combat airplanes, advancements in rotary-wing technology have led to high-speed helicopters like the S-97 Raider and large tiltrotor aircraft like the V-280 Valor. Aircraft like these will carry Army Aviation into a new age of aircraft and allow soldiers in the sky to retain the advantage on the battlefield.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force lab on Mars-like island is straight out of sci-fi movie

Space has been the center of conversation in the news and entertainment. There was even a movie about future human inhabitants on Mars! But how would that happen? How would we be able to sustain growing food? Mars, a dry and dusty planet, would not be able to support human life organically.

And just like the case would be on Mars, the food choices on Ascension are very limited and depend completely on what supplies are flown to the island.

“If you’ve ever been to Ascension Island, or even looked at photos online, the island doesn’t differ much from Mars,” said Cathy Little, Ascension Island Auxiliary Airfield agricultural specialist.


Supplies, including food, are flown to the island because Ascension’s water cycle, soil and topography make it very difficult for anything to grow on the island — what does grow, you cannot or would not want to eat, until recently.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

The 45th Space Wing’s Ascension Island Auxiliary Airfield looks quite similar to Mars, per its physical characteristics. Food must be flown in because the topography of the island isn’t able to grow food organically. However, a team from the 45th Mission Support Group’s Detachment 2 has revamped the hydroponics lab so that fresh vegetables can be grown and consumed by the 700 inhabitants of the volcanic island.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Cathy Little)

Introducing Ascension Island’s own personal ‘garden’, the hydroponics laboratory.

Hydroponics, or the process of growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid instead of soil, can be seen in the movie “The Martian.” Though it seems like something only a screenwriter could come up with, the agricultural team on Ascension Island has taken the idea and run with it.

“The hydroponics lab isn’t a laboratory in the traditional sense,” Little said. “Our facility is an 8,721 square foot greenhouse that has two vine crop bays and one leaf crop bay.”

In the greenhouse, the team on Ascension uses two different systems to grow fresh produce on the volcanic island. For vining crops, like tomatoes and peppers, they use a nutrient injection system, bucket system and Perlite, which is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content. For leafy crops, like lettuce and herbs, they use a nutrient film technique, where a very shallow stream of nutrient-filled water is re-circulated past the bare roots of the plants.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

The 45th Space Wing’s Ascension Island Auxiliary Airfield looks quite similar to Mars, per its physical characteristics. Food must be flown in because the topography of the island isn’t able to grow food organically. However, a team from the 45th Mission Support Group’s Detachment 2 has revamped the hydroponics lab so that fresh vegetables can be grown and consumed by the 700 inhabitants of the volcanic island.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Cathy Little)

Though the lab has grown over the years, hydroponics is not new to Ascension Island.

“During World War II, the shipping of fresh vegetables overseas was not practical and remote islands where troops were stationed were not a place where they could be grown in the soil,” said Rick Simmons, hydroponics expert, in a 2008 article. “In 1945, the U.S. Air Force built one of the first large hydroponic farms on Ascension Island, using crushed volcanic rock as a growing medium.”

“Growing conditions haven’t changed since World War II; therefore, the need for hydroponics still exists,” Little said. “Just as it was in 1945, shipping fresh vegetables to a remote island is not cost effective and with the lack of arable soil on the island. We face the same dilemma as our forebears — how to reduce costs and meet the nutritional needs of the troops and contractor personnel stationed here.”

With the revitalization of the hydroponics lab, Little thinks a shift could be on the horizon for Ascension Island.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

The 45th Space Wing’s Ascension Island Auxiliary Airfield looks quite similar to Mars, per its physical characteristics. Food must be flown in because the topography of the island isn’t able to grow food organically. However, a team from the 45th Mission Support Group’s Detachment 2 has revamped the hydroponics lab so that fresh vegetables can be grown and consumed by the 700 inhabitants of the volcanic island.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Cathy Little)

“In addition to having a virtually limitless supply of fresh produce and reducing the cost of transportation, morale is greatly improved knowing that produce, picked that very day, is awaiting everyone in the base dining hall,” Little said. “Hydroponics allows us to meet demands, reduce costs and provide nutritional value for our personnel.”

As the team continues to experiment with different crops, they hope to expand the size of the lab and the list of what they’re able to grow.

“If we were to operate at a full greenhouse capacity, we could produce enough fresh produce to feed the entire population of Ascension Island,” Little said. “That’s about 700 people.”

For the 45th Space Wing’s Ascension Island Auxiliary Airfield, neither the sky, nor Mars, is the limit.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here are all the standard issue weapons used by US Marines

The US Marine Corps started issuing the Glock 19M pistol to marines, which they call the M007, in May 2017.

“The M007 has a smaller frame and is easier to conceal, making it a natural selection to meet the Marine Corps’ conceal carry weapon requirement,” Gunnery Sgt. Brian Nelson said in a November 2017 Marines Corps Systems Command press release.

And since the Corps continually upgrades and adds new weapons to its arsenal, we reached out to the Marines Corps Systems Command, which is in charge of all acquisitions for the Corps, to find out which standard issue weapons it currently gives to Marines.

Check them out below:


1. Beretta M9 pistol

1. Beretta M9 pistol

The Beretta M9 is a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

2. Beretta M9A1 pistol

2. Beretta M9A1 pistol

Specifically designed for the Corps, the Beretta M9A1 is an upgrade to the M9.

The M9A1 a little heavier than the M9, and has extra features, such as a sand-resistant magazine and a Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 rail under the barrel for accessories and more.

3. Colt M45A1 close quarters battle pistol

3. Colt M45A1 close quarters battle pistol

The Colt M45A1 is .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol that the Corps started purchasing in 2012.

4. Glock 19M or M007 conceal carry weapon

4. Glock 19M or M007 conceal carry weapon

The Glock 19M, which the Corps named the M007 after James Bond, is a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that will slowly replace the M9.

5. M1014 joint service combat shotgun

5. M1014 joint service combat shotgun

The M1014, or Benelli M4 Super 90, is a 12-Guage shotgun developed by Italian gun maker Benelli.

The Corps began fielding shotguns during World War I to breach and clear trenches, and began fielding the Benelli M4 in 1999.

6. M500A2 shotgun

6. M500A2 shotgun

The Mossberg 500A2 is a 12-Gauge shotgun that usually comes with a five-round capacity tube.

7. M16A4 rifle

7. M16A4 rifle

The M16A4 shoots 5.56×45 mm rounds and is basically an M16A2, but with a removable handle and full-length quad picatinny rail.

8. M4 carbine

8. M4 carbine

The M4 shoots 5.56×45 mm rounds, and is a shortened version of the M16A2.

9. M4A1 carbine

9. M4A1 carbine

The M4A1 is an upgraded M4 with “full auto capability, a consistent trigger pull, and a slightly heavier barrel,” according to Military.com.

10. M249 squad automatic weapon

10. M249 squad automatic weapon

The SAW shoots a 5.56mm round like the M4 and M16, but it’s heavier and has a greater muzzle velocity and firing range.

11. M27 infantry automatic rifle

11. M27 infantry automatic rifle

The M27 shoots 5.56×45 mm rounds, and was adopted by the Corps in 2011. The Corps recently purchased 15,000 of them to slowly replace the M4 and SAW.

12. M38 designated marksman rifle

12. M38 designated marksman rifle

The M38 is a marksman upgrade to the M27 with a Leupold TS-30A2 Mark 4 2.5-8x36mm Mid-Range/Tactical Illuminated Reticle Scope.

13. M240 machine gun

13. M240 machine gun

The M240 fires 7.62s up to 2.31 miles away. There are multiple variants of the M240.

14. M240B machine gun

14. M240B machine gun

The M240B also shoots 7.62s, but is heavier than the M240 or M240C.

Read more about the difference in the variant specs here.

15. M110 semi-automatic sniper system.

15. M110 semi-automatic sniper system.

The M110 shoots a 7.62x51mm round with an effective firing range of more than 2,600 feet.

16. M40A6 sniper rifle

16. M40A6 sniper rifle

The M40A6 shoots a 7.62×51 mm round with an effective firing range of more than 2,625 feet.

17. Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle

17. Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle

The Corps announced in April that it would replace the M40 with the new Mk13 Mod 7, which shoots a .300 Winchester Magnum round with an effective firing range of more than 1,000 yards.

18. M107 special applications scoped rifle

18. M107 special applications scoped rifle

The M107 Special Applications Scoped Rifle, or M107 long-range sniper rifle, shoots an incredibly large 12.7x99mm round with an equally incredibly large effective firing range of more than 6,500 feet.

In 2011, a marine actually had his M107 break down during a firefight, and he called customer support to fix it.

19. M2 machine gun

19. M2 machine gun

The M2 is a .50 caliber machine gun with an effective firing range of 22,310 feet. The Corps also provides an Up-Gunned Weapons Station that fixes the M2s to vehicles.

20. M2A1 quick change barrel

20. M2A1 quick change barrel

The M2A1 is a .50 caliber machine gun and an upgrade to the M2, featuring reduced muzzle flash and reduced time to change the barrel.

21. M203A2 grenade launcher

21. M203A2 grenade launcher

The M203 shoots 40mm grenades and can be fitted under the M4 and M16, but the US military is currently phasing it out for the M320.

22. M32A1 multiple grenade launcher

22. M32A1 multiple grenade launcher

The M32A1 is six-round 40mm multiple grenade launcher with a maximum range of 2,625 feet with medium velocity grenades.

23. MK19 grenade machine gun

23. MK19 grenade machine gun

With a maximum range of 7,218 feet, the MK19 is a 40mm automatic grenade launcher and can mount on tripods and armored vehicles. The Corps issues two different versions: the Mod 3 and Mod 4.

U.S. Marine Corps photos

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force planners want to grow future runways from bacteria

The Blue Horizons Program at Air University is an Air Force chief of staff-chartered, future-oriented think tank that creates and tests prototypes of new strategic concepts and capabilities.

Three Blue Horizons fellows, with different technical backgrounds, including a former member of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, were among those who graduated June 3, 2019, as part of this year’s class of 16.

As part of their research, Maj. MacKenzie Birchenough, a developmental engineer, and former deputy chief of the Commander’s Action Group at AFLCMC; Maj. Laura Hunstock, a combat systems officer; and Maj. Kelly Martin, an intelligence officer, formed a team called, “Project Medusa,” to develop a prototype landing strip to ensure continuity of airlift operations at austere locations during future military conflicts.


Fellows spend a year in specialized academics and focus research on a CSAF-directed question. Their research is on developing and testing prototypes of ideas that can help the Air Force meet future threats.

“As the United States turns its focus toward a potential near-peer conflict, the Air Force may no longer have access to its current mature basing structure,” Birchenough said. “In future fights, contingency operations will depend on the ability of mobility platforms to operate out of austere locations and under compressed timelines,” she said in describing the background for Project Medusa.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright pose with graduates of the Center for Strategy and Technology’s Blue Horizons class at Air War College, May 16, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers Cox)

Students actually go through an entire prototyping phase so that at the end of the year they can brief the CSAF on the problem they were able to address, what they did about it and then give a recommendation, with the ultimate goal of being able to transition it at the end of their year.

“We started out thinking about the differences between the way we fight today in the Air Force and what tomorrow’s fight might look like,” Hunstock said. “Knowing that we’re going into more of a near-peer competition, one of the things we talked a lot about was how we’re going to have to move away from our centralized basing that we use today and more into a dispersed and agile type of basing.”

The team wanted to narrow the scope of the problem down, so they looked at the issue of not having the availability of runways everywhere that the Air Force might need to go.

“We wanted to try to find a way that we could get into those austere locations to rapidly create landing zones for our aircraft where we don’t already have them,” Hunstock said. “That also means with this type of basing situation, you’re not going to have a month or two to go in and build your normal concrete runways. We need something that’s going to take a lot less time and require less people and less heavy equipment.”

While trying to think completely out of the box, which is what Blue Horizons fellows are asked to do, the team came up with an innovative idea that might seem on the edge of reality.

“The idea that we came to was using biomanufacturing to build runways, which can also be translated into things like ramp space or any hardened surface that you might need. By saying biomanufacturing, what we mean is that we’re applying bacteria to the surface, feeding it and effectively growing a runway. This process could potentially replace the need to bring in cement, heavy equipment and dozens of personnel to create a concrete runway,” Birchenough said.

“While our prototype is a small step toward enabling full runways to be built with something other than concrete, it demonstrates this technology is absolutely feasible outside of the laboratory and could be used to support the warfighter much sooner than expected,” Birchenough said.

They started by testing different protocols with two foot by two-foot boxes, but their final prototype was a 2,500 square foot site to demonstrate the process on a much larger scale. Working with bioMASON, a biomanufacturing company in Durham, North Carolina, the team created the site near there.

The 2,500 square foot prototype turned out great, working exactly how they expected it to, Birchenough said.

“It showed that we could reproduce what we had done in the laboratory and on a larger scale. The really exciting thing about this process is that it utilizes the local soil and requires very little equipment. Basically, you need an agricultural sprayer and some water tanks, so there is very little in materials you need to bring to the site,” Birchenough said.

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The Project Medusa Team members received strong support from bioMASON, the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center.

(James O’Rourke)

“We learned that while biotechnology sounds like it is part of a future science fiction type of idea, it’s actually here and now, and it’s absolutely leverageable for the (Defense Department) and we need to be investing in it at a much higher rate,” she said.

The team was lucky to work with the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office as well as the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate on the project, according to Birchenough.

The SDPE office contributed more than 0,000 toward Project Medusa, and made significant contributions across the entire Blue Horizons portfolio this year, Birchenough said.

A follow-on effort will begin this summer between bioMASON, AFRL, and DARPA that will continue to mature the technology and build up different soil samples to see how well the technology functions across different areas of responsibility.

“AFRL is excited to continue the support for the follow-on project,” said Dr. Chia Hung, AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate research biological scientist. “We will continue to work with bioMASON in their optimization of the cementation process and we will also assist to identify unique requirements for different user cases. Based on what is learned from Project Medusa and will be learned from the follow-on, we will be better poised in helping to mature this technology for many users in not just the Air Force, but also other services within DoD.”

The Project Medusa team briefed their recommendation to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein May 16. Six other teams of Blue Horizons fellows also made presentations.

“Our recommendation to CSAF was to invest in biomanufacturing with a faster transition to the user, to continue this effort with both AFRL and SPDE to make sure that this technology will have great use out in the operational Air Force, as well as making sure the feedback of the user is incorporated into it from the get go,” Hunstock said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Welcome to space, Air Force — the Marines have been here for years

President Trump’s Space Force came as a shock and surprise to many, even if the U.S. Air Force isn’t quite sure how to move forward with it. NASA’s chief executive wants it. America’s pop culture astrophysicist Neil deGrasse-Tyson says it isn’t a weird move. Even the Trump-critical Washington Post says now is the time.

The Marines thought it was time more than a dozen years ago.

Only back then the thinking was using space to bridge the time it took to get Marine boots on the ground. Earth’s ground. Writing for Popular Science, David Axe described this new way of getting troops to a fight as a delivery system of “breathtaking efficiency.”

Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or SUSTAIN (as the Corps’ idea wizards called it) was designed to be a suborbital transport vehicle that flew into the atmosphere at high speed 50 miles off the Earth’s surface, just short of orbiting the Earth. There, in the Mesosphere, gravity waves drive global circulation but gravity exerts a force just as strong as on the surface. It’s also the coldest part of the the atmosphere and there is little protection from the sun’s ultraviolet light. These are just a few considerations Marines would need to take.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The Space Shuttle Endeavor breaching the Mesosphere.
(NASA)

This is also much higher than the record for aircraft. Even balloons have only reached some 32 miles above the Earth, so this pocket of Earth’s sky is an under-researched area that not much is known about. What the Marine Corps knows for sure is that going that high up means it doesn’t have to worry about violating another country’s airspace, and it can drop Marines on the bad guys within two hours.

The SUSTAIN craft would need to be made of an advanced lightweight metal that could be used in the liftoff phase but also handle the heat of reentry into the atmosphere. Each lander pod would hold 13 Marines and be attached to a carrier laden with scramjet engines and rocket engines to get above the 50-mile airspace limit.

The complete hater’s guide to the F-15 Eagle
The layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

Objects moving in Low-Earth Orbit (admittedly at least twice as high as the SUSTAIN system was intended) move at speeds of eight meters per second, fast enough to circumnavigate the globe every 90 minutes. But the project had a number of hurdles, including the development of hypersonic missiles, a composite metal that fit the bill, and the size of a ship required to carry the armed troops and their equipment.

At the time the project wasn’t feasible unless ample time to develop the technology needed to overcome those hurdles was given to researchers. But if the SUSTAIN project was given the green light in 2008, maybe we’d have a Space Corps instead of a Space Force.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch Keanu Reeves get some tactical training for ‘John Wick 3’

Keanu Reeves is back at it.

Vigilance Elite just released footage from a training session with Reeves for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, and you can see that he’s training like an operator, not just an actor. In the video below, trainer and former Navy SEAL Shawn Ryan walks Reeves through room clearing with a rifle — in particular, negotiating the “fatal funnel.”

This kind of dedicated training is just one reason why Reeves is highly respected and his films are so fun. Check out the video for a bit of Reeves-worship…but stay for the refresher in case you ever get into a sh*t sandwich.


Keanu Reeves Tactical Training for John Wick 3 with Vigilance Elite .MP4

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Check out the video:

“My character’s always in shit sandwiches,” jokes Reeves.

Reeves maintains a professional, respectful demeanor throughout the process, which is exactly the kind of attitude that bridges the divide between military and civilian audiences. Reeves is believable as an assassin because he puts in the work to understand weapons and tactics; military audiences can spot a phony a mile away and it ruins the cinematic experience.

Related: Video shows just how operator Keanu Reeves can be

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BwEso5VFim6/ expand=1]Shawn Ryan on Instagram: “Say when… ? @vigilanceelite #saywhen #johnwick #keanureeves #johnwick3”

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It’s clear he’s got a good student-teacher relationship with Ryan, considering the banter on social media — and the fact that Reeves is a repeat customer.

Shawn Ryan on Instagram: “Ok Keanu, we all know you can shoot like a BAMF. But… Can you shoot like that while doing the “limbo”? How low can you go❓ ?…”

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From the shots we get in the trailer, it looks like that training has paid off (my question is whether Ryan offers swordsmanship training as well?).

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019 Movie) New Trailer – Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, and Laurence Fishburne, opens in theaters May 17, 2019.