What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

The first time you select afterburner in a fighter is an experience you’ll never forget. Over a decade later, I can still remember every second of it.

I had made it through the attrition of pilot training and was now in the 9-month B-Course learning to fly the F-16. After several months of academics—going over every system on the jet and how to troubleshoot malfunctions, it was time to finally get in the air. 

The way the jet is configured makes a big difference in terms of its performance. Usually, there are several weapons, pods, and fuel tanks hanging off the jet, which makes it much more capable in combat. However, they add a significant amount of weight and drag to the airframe. 

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
It is not uncommon for F-16s to fly carrying two 2,000-pound bombs, two AIM-9, two AIM-120 and two 2400-pound external fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

The squadron leadership had decided to completely clean off the jets for our initial phase of flying—nothing external would be added, making it the stripped-down hot-rod that John Boyd famously envisioned back in the ’70s. It’s a rare configuration that I’ve only seen a handful of times during my career.

On the day of the flight, after I strapped in, I started the engine and could feel the F-16 coming to life: the slow groan of the engine transforming into a shrieking roar. 

After the ground-ops checks, my instructor and I taxied to the end of the runway—as a wingman, my job was to follow him throughout the sortie. Once we received clearance to take off, he taxied onto the runway and pushed the throttle into afterburner. 

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

I could see the nozzle of his engine clamp down as the engine spun-up into full military power—the highest non-afterburning setting. The nozzle then rapidly opened as the afterburner kicked in and a 10-foot bluish-red flame shot out of the back of the engine. Looking into the engine, I could only see a few feet of the nozzle before it disappeared into a whitish-yellow fire, similar to the sun. As he rapidly accelerated down the runway, I taxied into position.

After 15 seconds, I pushed the throttle forward until it hit the military power stop. I then rotated the throttle outward, which allowed me to push it further into the afterburner settings. Nothing happened for what seemed like a minute, but in reality, it was only a few seconds. It was enough time for me to look down to make sure nothing was wrong when, suddenly, the thrust hit me in the chest. 

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford/Released)

Before flying the F-16, I had flown a supersonic jet trainer called the T-38, so I was familiar with high-performance aircraft… But this acceleration was on another level. Before I knew it, a second jolt of thrust hit me, further increasing my acceleration—and the engine wasn’t even at full thrust yet.

There are five rings in the back of the engine that make up the afterburner. Each ring has hundreds of holes, through which fuel is sprayed at high pressure and then ignited. In order to not flood the engine, each ring sequentially lights off. So far, only two of the five rings had started spraying fuel.

The interesting thing about the way a jet accelerates is that as it goes faster, it accelerates faster (to a point). This is unlike a car, which starts off quickly and then slows down. As each afterburner ring lit off, my acceleration further increased. Before I knew it, I was at my rotation speed of 150 knots, or 175 mph. As soon as I was airborne, I began retracting my gear, reducing my drag, which further increased my acceleration. Even though it takes just a few seconds to retract the gear, I came dangerously close to overspending the 300-knot limit.

The one thing that stands out about that takeoff is that even though I was operating way behind the jet, I was smiling the whole time–it was an awesome experience that I’ll never forget.

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

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7 things all troops should know before becoming a sniper

For decades, snipers have been a dominating instrument of warfare striking fear in the heart of their enemies — scoring record kill shots from distances up to two miles away.


With Hollywood tapping into the lifestyle with such films as “American Sniper” and the “Sniper” franchise, many young troops get a misconception of what it’s like to be one.

So we asked a few veterans of the craft what would they want young troops to know before embarking on the intense journey to become a sniper. Here’s what they said:

1. It’s not like in the movies

Hollywood often showcases a sniper as a single-man force tracking down that perfect location to take that most concealed shot possible.

In modern day, scout snipers typically work in 4-8 man teams consisting of a shooter, spotter, radioman, and additional troops to provide security.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A Scout Sniper team from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (Darkhorse) during cold weather training in Bridgeport, Ca. (Source: Mark Hamett)

2. Shooting is only a fraction of the job

A sniper needs to properly plan the mission, insert and quietly maneuver to a well-concealed firing location, stalk his prey, complete the math calculation before firing his weapon accordingly, then safely egress out.

A mission could last days.

3. Have mental conditioning

Being sniper isn’t just about being an excellent marksman — although that’s important. But when you’re in an operational status, you have to overcome many mental constraints like lack of sleep and sometimes limited rations. The teams typically only leave the wire with what supplies they can carry — and that’s it.

The teams are usually outnumbered by the enemy and must maintain discipline throughout the mission. If the sniper has a mental breakdown in the field, the mission could be lost.

(Wikimedia Commons)

4. Patience is a virtue

Making a mistake because you’re in a hurry is unacceptable and can get you killed. A sniper’s hyperactive moment could result in death.

5. The selection

Completing indoctrination doesn’t guarantee a spot in the platoon. Sniper teams look for the guy who is not only capable of firing that perfect shot but has an outgoing personality. Once a troop is selected, they will go on to the next phase of intense sniper training.

6. It’s constant training and learning

Battlefield tactics change and evolve based on the environment the shooter is facing. That said, a sniper team must be able to adapt and overcome any situation that presents itself.

If the wind keeps up or the sniper is forced to relocate, he will more than likely have to reconfigure his sight alignment within moments.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A U.S. Army sniper using a Barrett M82. (Wikimedia Commons)

7. It’s not a way out of the infantry

Young troops tend to believe that going through the sniper pipeline is an easy way out of the grunt lifestyle. To outsiders, life in the scout sniper platoons can appear more glamorous because of the modernized gear they train with and operate.

The truth is, that’s just additional heavy gear they must haul during their missions.


Feature image: U.S. Army photo

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Here are 7 battlefield-tested tips from a US Army sniper on how not to lose your mind in isolation

On the battlefield, snipers often find themselves isolated from the rest of the force for days at a time, if not longer.

With people around the world stuck at home in response to the serious coronavirus outbreak, Insider asked a US Army sniper how he handles isolation and boredom when he finds himself stuck somewhere he doesn’t want to be.


Obviously, being a sniper is harder than hanging out at home, but some of the tricks he uses in the field may be helpful if you are are starting to lose your mind.

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Sniper in position in the woods

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. John Bright

Remember your mission

As a sniper, “you’re the eyes and ears for the battalion commander,” 1st Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran sniper from Texas, told Insider, adding, “There’s always something to look at and watch.”

He said that while he might not be “looking through a scope the whole time, looking for a specific person,” he is still intently watching roads, vehicles, buildings and people.

“There are a lot of things that you’re trying to think about” to “describe to someone as intricately as you possibly can” the things they need to know, he said. “Have I seen that person before? Can I blow a hole in that wall? How much explosives would that take?”

There is always work that needs to be done.

Break down the problem

One trick he uses when he is in a challenging situation, be it lying in a hole he dug or sitting in a building somewhere surveilling an adversary, is to just focus on getting from one meal to the next, looking at things in hours, rather than days or weeks.

“Getting from one meal to the next is a way to break down the problem and just manage it and be in the moment and not worry about the entirety of it,” said Sipes, a seasoned sniper with roughly 15 years of experience who spoke to Insider while he was at home with his family.

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Work to improve your position

“You’re always trying to better your position,” Sipes told Insider. That can mean a number of different things, such as improving your cover, looking for ways to make yourself a little more comfortable, or even working on your weapon.

Take note of things you wouldn’t normally notice

“What is going on in your own little environment that you’ve never noticed before?” Sipes asked.

Thinking back to times stuck in a room or a hole, he said, “There is activity going on, whether it’s the bugs that are crawling across the floor or the mouse that’s coming out of the wall.”

“You get involved in their routine,” he added.

Look for new ways to connect with people

In the field, snipers are usually accompanied by a spotter, so they are not completely alone. But they may not be able to talk and engage one another as they normally would, so they have to get a little creative.

“Maybe you can’t communicate through actual spoken word, but you can definitely communicate through either drawings or writing,” Sipes said.

“We spend a lot of time doing sector sketches, panoramic drawings of the environment. We always put different objects or like draw little faces or something in there. And, you always try and find where they were in someone’s drawing.”

He added that they would also write notes about what was going on, pass information on things to look out for, and even write jokes to one another.

Think about things you will do when its over

“One big thing I used to do was list what kind of food I was going to eat when I get back, like listing it out in detail of like every ingredient that I wanted in it and what I thought it was going to taste like,” Sipes said. He added that sometimes he listed people he missed that he wanted to talk to when he got back.

Remember it is not all about you

Sipes said that no matter what, “you are still a member of a team” and you have to get into a “we versus me” mindset. There are certain things that have to be done that, even if they are difficult, for something bigger than an individual.

He said that you have to get it in your head that if you don’t do what you are supposed to do, you are going to get someone else killed. “Nine times out of 10, the person doing the wrong thing isn’t the one that suffers for it. It is generally someone else.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Finland and Norway prepare to fly without GPS

Disruptions to Global Positioning System signals have been reported in northern Norway and Finland in November 2018, overlapping with the final days of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, a massive military exercise that has drawn Russia’s ire.

A press officer for Widerøe, a Norway-based airline operating in the Nordics, told The Barents Observer at the beginning of November 2018 that pilots reported the loss of GPS while flying into airports in the northern Norwegian region of Finnmark, near the Russian border, though the officer stressed that pilots had alternative systems and there were no safety risks.


Norway’s aviation authority, Avinor, issued a notice to airmen of irregular navigation signals in airspace over eastern Finnmark between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, 2018, according to The Observer.

The director of Norway’s civil aviation authority told The Observer that organization was aware of disturbances to GPS signals in that region of the country but there is always notice given about planned jamming.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Finnish military personnel in formation at the Älvdalen training grounds in Sweden, Oct. 27, 2018.

“It is difficult to say what the reasons could be, but there are reasons to believe it could be related to military exercise activities outside Norway’s [borders],” the director said.

Aviation authorities in Finland issued similar notices in early November 2018, warning air traffic of disruptions to GPS signals over the northern region of Lapland, which borders Finnmark.

A notice to airmen from Air Navigation Services Finland warned of such issues between midday Nov. 6 and midnight on Nov. 7, 2018.

ANS Finland’s operational director told Finnish news outlet Yle that the information had come from the Finnish Defense Forces but did not identify the source of the interference. “For safety reasons, we issued it for an expansive enough area so that pilots could be prepared not to rely solely on a GPS,” the operational director said.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Canadian army sappers await attack after constructing makeshift barricades near Alvdal in central Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 4, 2018.

(NATO photo by Rob Kunzing)

Electronic warfare

The cause for the disruptions to GPS signals is not immediately clear, but the reports came during the final days of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, which involved some 50,000 troops, tens of thousands of vehicles, and dozens of ships and aircraft operating in Norway, in airspace over the Nordic countries, and in the waters of the Norwegian and Baltic seas.

All 29 NATO members took part, including Norway. Also participating were Sweden and Finland, which are not NATO members but work closely with the alliance. Moscow has in the past warned them against joining NATO.

While NATO stressed that Trident Juncture was strictly a defensive exercise — simulating a response to an attack on an alliance member — Russian officials saw it as hostile, calling the drills “anti-Russia.”

Much of the exercise took place in southern and central Norway, but fighter jets and other military aircraft used airports in northern Norway and Finland. (US Marines stationed in Norway also plan to move closer to that country’s border with Russia.)

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Russian armored vehicles participating in Zapad 2017 exercises.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

GPS disruptions related to military activity have been reported in the Nordics before.

Norwegian intelligence services said in October 2017 that electronic disturbances — including jamming of GPS signals of flights in the northern part of the country — in September 2017 were suspected of coming from Russia while that country was carrying out its Zapad 2017 military exercise.

Reports of similar outages were reported around the same time in western Latvia, a Baltic state that borders Russia.

Electronic warfare appeared to be a major component of Zapad 2017, with the Russian military targeting its own troops to practice their responses to it. “The amount of jamming of their own troops surprised me,” the chief of Estonia’s military intelligence said in November that year.

Norwegian and Latvian officials both said the jamming may not have been directed at their countries specifically. Latvia’s foreign minister said Sweden’s Öland Island, across the Baltic Sea from Latvia, may have been the target.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Ships take part in a photo exercise in the Norwegian Sea as part of NATO’s exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 7, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie)

At the end of 2017, Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told media that he was not surprised that Russian jamming activity had affected Norway.

“It was a large military exercise by a big neighbor and it disrupted civilian activities including air traffic, shipping, and fishing,” he said, referring to Zapad 2017-related disturbances, adding that Norway was prepared for it.

Similar disruptions were detected in Norway near the Russian border in 2018. Norwegian authorities said the interference was related to Russian military activity in the area and that they had requested Russia take steps to ensure Norwegian territory was not adversely affected.

Russia has invested heavily in electronic-warfare capabilities and is believed to have equipment that can affect GPS over a broad area. Northern Norway and Finland are adjacent to Russia’s Kola Peninsula, which is home to Russia’s Northern Fleet — its submarine-based nuclear forces — and other Russian military installations.

“If your offensive military capabilities rely on GPS, guess what the adversary will try to do?” Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said in response to the latest reports of GPS interference in Finland.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This ship from Rolls Royce could one day be a robot aircraft carrier for drones

Unmanned air vehicles, better known as drones, have been operating for a long time. And those drones have been used in some high-ranking terrorist kills, like the one that took out Anwar al-Awlaki of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.


Other unmanned vehicles are on the ground and are being tested by the Army and Marine Corps.

And the Navy’s gotten into the unmanned game as well. In 2014 the service tested small, unmanned boats as a way to prevent a repeat of the 2000 attack on the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). But Rolls Royce is now proposing something that could put the Navy’s plans to shame.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A look at an artist’s impression of an unmanned ship. (Rolls Royce graphic)

According to a company release, Rolls Royce is developing a 700-ton vessel capable of operating for 100 days unmanned, and it could be a game-changer for navies around the world. This vessel would be about the size of the Nanuchka-class corvette. It would have a range of 3,500 miles and a top speed of more than 25 knots.

What might this vessel be used for? The big mission Rolls Royce is pitching is “coastal patrol and surveillance,” logistical support, or even as a means to protect other vessels. This ship would still be very capable for its size, largely because, “[m]any of the habitation systems and accommodation compartments are removed, bringing immediate cost savings and making the vessel smaller.”

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
Artist’s impression of an unmanned ship in action. (Rolls Royce graphic)

“The autonomous platforms are likely to cover a range of single role missions, e.g. patrol and surveillance, mine detection or fleet screening, while the larger manned ships will cover the multi-role missions,” Rolls Royce adds.

In addition to having on-board sensors, the unmanned vessel could also carry a number of unmanned aerial vehicles. In essence, it is a robotic aircraft carrier for drones. This could make things very interesting at sea.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How you can help Navy SEALs fight veteran homelessness — and swim the Hudson!

On Saturday, Aug. 3, a team of over 30 Navy SEALs will swim across the Hudson River to honor military veterans and their families, as well as those who died during the 9/11 attacks and the wars that followed.

It will be the first Navy SEAL Hudson River Swim and Run — and the first ever legally sanctioned swim across the Hudson River. The event has the full support of New York City and state officials as well as the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority of New York, New Jersey Police Department, and New Jersey State Police.

The benefit will help the GI Go Fund, which supports veterans and their families with housing, health care, employment services, and financial aid.

Swimming over two and a half miles in the currents of the Hudson is a great challenge — but that’s how the frogmen like it.


Former Navy SEAL Swims Across Hudson River

www.youtube.com

Former Navy SEAL Swims Across Hudson River

“We get nowhere in life by staying in our comfort zone. Results come when we get uncomfortable, challenge ourselves and push pass our perceived limits. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t apply that lesson, and I won’t get to where I need to be in life if that trend doesn’t continue,” shared Remi Adeleke, a SEAL embodying the idea of service after service.

There are nearly 38,000 homeless veterans in the United States. The SEALs, through GI Go Fund, are helping to give back to their community of service members — and they could use your support.

“The route we chose is important,” said Kaj Larsen, one of the Navy SEAL swimmers. “We are swimming to the Statue of Liberty because it is an iconic symbol of freedom, the same thing we fought for overseas. Ellis Island represents the diversity that makes us strong as a nation. And finally the Ground Zero memorial, which has deep significance for the country, the SEAL teams, and me personally.”

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Larsen and his team train beneath the Statue of Liberty.

Larsen was in First Phase of SEAL training on 9/11. His roommate LT Michael Murphy, a Medal of Honor recipient, was from New York. His father was a New York firefighter and when Murphy was killed on June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings, he was wearing an NYFD t-shirt under his uniform.

“There is an inextricable connection between the SEAL community and New York. Our fates were intertwined on September 11, so it is an honor to come back here with my fellow SEALs and compete in this event and give back to the city,” said Larsen.

First the frogmen will swim from Liberty Park to the Statue of Liberty. From there they head to Ellis Island. Finally they swim to Battery park and run as a unit to the Freedom Tower and the site of a new memorial dedicated to Special Operations Forces.

At each stop they will perform a series of push-ups and pull-ups culminating in a ceremony at the SOF memorial.

So far they have raised over ,000 to benefit homeless and transitioning veterans in NYC, but they’re not stopping there.

Check out details about the event and help spread the word — or maybe pitch in a few bucks — right here.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia just developed a lethal armored flamethrower

Flamethrowers have always brought a unique, visceral dynamic to war. Back in World War I and World War II, specialized troops carried them — and they were relied on to clear out fortifications. This was particularly important in the Pacific Theater as the Marines (and Army) made their way across the various atolls and island chains.


What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A flamethrower operator doing what they do best.

The problem with flamethrowers then was that they had to be worked by troops. The mixture was, by necessity, volatile. If the fuel tank got hit, the Marine or soldier with the flamethrower went up in flames rather than turning enemy troops into crispy critters. Furthermore, you had to get very close to use a flamethrower effectively.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
An M67 throwing flames. No big deal. (U.S. Army photo)

In World War II, however, the United States began to install flamethrowers in tanks. This solved the fuel tank’s vulnerability to bullets while it was on the back of the Marine or soldier, but the range was still short. Eventually, flamethrowers changed from something like a backpack to something more like a rocket, launchable from systems like the M202 FLASH.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A soldier operates the M202 FLASH, an American flame-throwing rocket launcher. (U.S. Army photo)

Russia, however, has taken this concept to its extreme. In the late 1980s, the T-72 chassis was used as the basis for a large, rocket-launching flamethrower called the TOS-1. The TOS-1 carries up to 30 220mm rockets that it can fire to a range of just over two miles. The TOS-1 saw action in Chechnya, Iraq, and the Soviet-Afghan war.

According to the news agency TASS, Russia has created a new rocket-launching flamethrower, the Tosochka TOS-2, based on the T-14 Armata. The system has a range of just over six miles and the vehicle can travel over 300 miles on a single tank of gas. In short, Russia is likely to be able to make opposing troops feel some serious heat.

Learn more about this powerful rocket launcher in the video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI5nKV_AxZA
(New Update Defence | YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force is finally getting its long-delayed new tanker

The Air Force and Boeing have reached agreement on delivery of the long delayed KC-46 Pegasus tanker, with the two sides expecting the first aircraft to arrive in October 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Boeing’s original deadline to deliver 18 planes and additional materials was August 2017, but the $44 billion program has been hit by numerous delays and setbacks, and the Air Force said this spring it expected Boeing to miss its deadline to deliver the planes by October 2018, with the first KC-46 not arriving until the end of 2018 and all 18 planes by spring 2019.

The delivery of the first KC-46 by October 2018 is two months earlier than the Air Force anticipated. Matthew Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg the timeline was “aggressive but achievable.” Under the new schedule, the other 17 planes will arrive by April 2019.

The Air Force plans to buy 179 of the KC-46. Once it begins receiving them, the service will start phasing out its older KC-10 tankers. It will hold on to 300 of its KC-135 tankers, which average 55 years old. That would expand the tanker fleet to 479 KC-135s and KC-46s from the current 455 KC-135s and KC-10s.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt, July 15, 2016.
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

Under their contract, Boeing is responsible for costs beyond the Air Force’s $4.82 billion commitment. But delays in delivery could mean the Air Force will have to keep 19 KC-135s in service through 2023 at a cost of up to $10 million a plane annually.

The most serious problem facing the tanker has been the risk of its refueling boom scraping the surface of planes receiving fuel, which can damage stealth aircraft and potentially ground the tanker.

Other issues include the operation of the remote vision system, which is used to guide the boom; problems with the unexpected disconnection of its centerline drogue system, which is used to refuel aircraft; and concerns about the plane’s high-frequency radio, which uses the skin of the plane to broadcast. The latter two issues were downgraded to category-two deficiencies early 2018.


Settling on a delivery date may mean that both sides believe Boeing is close to resolving the tanker’s deficiencies. Donovan, the Air Force undersecretary, told Bloomberg that a software fix for the boom scrapping the receiving aircraft is undergoing flight testing and that flight test verification for the fixes is set for September 2018.

‘It is prudent to explore options’

The Air Force has been trying to replace its aging tankers for years, and military officials have been critical of the recent delays, even as they’ve complimented Boeing on its cooperation.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told acquisition officials in November 2017 that he was “unwilling (totally)” to accept flawed KC-46 tankers.

Early 2018, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the House Armed Services Committee that “one of our frustrations with Boeing is that they’re much more focused on their commercial activity than they are on getting this right for the Air Force and getting these airplanes to the Air Force.”

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time, October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons a minute.
(Boeing photo by John D. Parker)

Her remarks came a few days after Donovan encouraged Boeing to “double down” to “get this program over the goal line” during a visit to the KC-46 production and modification facility in Washington state.

Even as the KC-46 program inches forward, lawmakers are looking beyond the current, manned tankers to adapt to emerging threats.

It its markup of the 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern “about the growing threat to large high-value aircraft in contested environments” and recommended an extra $10 million in spending on Air Force research, development, testing, and evaluation, for a total of $38.4 million.

While the Air Force’s tankers allow greater operational availability and range for fighters and bombers, “these assets are manned and increasingly difficult to protect,” the committee said.

“Given the increasingly challenging operating environments our potential adversaries are presenting, it is prudent to explore options for optionally unmanned and more survivable tankers that could operate autonomously as part of a large, dispersed logistics fleet that could sustain attrition in conflict,” it added.

Boeing is researching automation for its commercial aircraft, part of an effort to address a protracted pilot shortage, an issue that has plagued both civilian and military aviation.

Russian aircraft maker Ilyushin is also working on a similar project, partnering with Kronstadt Group to develop an unmanned transport aircraft that could be used to access remote or difficult-to-reach areas.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Everything to know about the Air Force’s largest transport

Since 1969 the C-5 Galaxy has dwarfed all other airframes in the Air Force inventory. The C-5 Galaxy has provided the U.S. Air Force with heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability capable of carrying oversized loads and all air-certifiable cargo, including the M-1 Abrams Tank.


Development and design

During the Vietnam War, the USAF saw the necessity of moving large amounts of troops and equipment overseas quickly. Lockheed was able to meet the ambitious design requirements of a maximum takeoff weight twice that of the USAF current airlifter, the C-141 Starlifter.

“We started to build the C-5 and wanted to build the biggest thing we could… Quite frankly, the C-5 program was a great contribution to commercial aviation. We’ll never get credit for it, but we incentivized that industry by developing [the TF39] engine,” said Gen. Duane H. Cassidy, former Military Airlift Command commander in chief.

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The C-5 is a high-wing cargo aircraft with a 65-foot tall T-tail vertical stabilizer. Above the plane-length cargo deck is an upper deck for flight operations and seating for 75 passengers. With a rear cargo door and a nose that swings up loadmasters can drive through the entire aircraft when loading and offloading cargo. The landing gear system is capable of lowering, allowing the aircraft to kneel, making it easier to load tall cargo.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

The C-5A Galaxy undergoing flight testing in the late 1960s.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The rear main landing gear can be made to caster enabling a smaller turning radius, and rotates 90 degrees after takeoff before being retracted.

The C-5 Galaxy is capable of airlifting almost every type of military equipment including the Army’s armored vehicle launched bridge or six Apache helicopters.

In the early 2000s, the Air Force began a modernization program on the C-5 upgrading the avionics with flat panel displays, improving the navigation and safety equipment and installing a new auto-pilot system. In 2006, the C-5 was refitted with GE CF6 Engines, pylons and auxiliary power units. The aircraft skin, frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization systems were also upgraded. Each CF6 engine produces 22 percent more thrust, reducing the C-5’s take off length, increasing its climb rate, cargo load and range. The new upgraded C-5s are designated as the C-5M Super Galaxy.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

A 433rd Airlift Wing C-5 Galaxy begins to turn over the runway before landing Nov. 14 2014, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.. The reserve aircrew of the “heavy” aircraft brought Army 7th Special Forces Group personnel and equipment to the base for delivery.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Operational history

In the past four decades, the C-5 has supported military operations in all major conflicts, including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. It has also supported our allies, such as Israel, during the Yom Kippur War and operations in the Gulf War, and the War on Terror. The Galaxy has also been used to distribute humanitarian aid and supported the U.S. Space shuttle program.

On Oct. 24, 1974, the Space and Missile Systems Organization successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test where a C-5 air dropped a Minuteman ICBM 20,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 feet before its rocket engine fired. The test proved the possibility of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile from the air.

The C-5 was used during the development of the stealth fighter, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, as Galaxies carried partly disassembled aircraft, leaving no exterior signs as to their cargo and keeping the program secret.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

An air-to-air right side view of a 22nd Military Airlift Squadron C-5A Galaxy aircraft returning to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., after being painted in the European camouflage pattern at the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Bill Thompson)

Did you know?

  • The cargo hold of the C-5 is one foot longer than the entire length of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.
  • On Sept. 13, 2009, a C-5M set 41 new records and flight data was submitted to the National Aeronautic Association for formal recognition. The C-5M had carried a payload of 176,610 lbs. to over 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Additionally, the world record for greatest payload to 6,562 feet (2,000m) was broken.
What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

A load team from the 352nd Maintenance Squadron, along with the crew of a C-5 Galaxy from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., loads a 21st Special Operations Squadron MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopter to be transported to the ‘Boneyard,’ or the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 5, 2007.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Tracy L. Demarco)

General characteristics

  • Primary Function: Outsize cargo transport
  • Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin-Georgia Co.
  • Power Plant: Four F-138-GE100 General Electric engines
  • Thrust: 51,250 pounds per engine
  • Wingspan: 222 feet 9 inches (67.89 meters)
  • Length: 247 feet 10 inches (75.3 meters)
  • Height: 65 feet 1 inch (19.84 meters)
What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

The C-5 Galaxy has been the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory since 1969.

(Graphic by Travis Burcham)

Cargo compartment

  • Height: 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 meters)
  • Width: 19 feet (5.79 meters)
  • Length: 143 feet, 9 inches (43.8 meters)
  • Pallet Positions: 36
  • Maximum Cargo: 281,001 pounds (127,460 Kilograms)
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 840,000 pounds (381,024 kilograms)
  • Speed: 518 mph
  • Unrefueled Range of C-5M: Approximately 5,524 statute miles (4,800 nautical miles) with 120,000 pounds of cargo; approximately 7,000 nautical miles with no cargo on board.
  • Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers and three loadmasters
What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Capt. Grant Bearden (left) and Lt. Col. Timothy Welter, both pilots with the 709th Airlift Squadron, go over their pre-flight checklist in the C-5M Super Galaxy March 28, 2016, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Reservists from Dover Air Force Base, Del., in the 512th Airlift Wing, conducted an off-station training event to satisfy most deployment requirements in one large exercise.

(U.S. Air Force photo by apt. Bernie Kale)

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

India is going to launch its new homegrown fighter design

The Indian Air Force has been one of the more underrated air forces in the world for a while now. But what’s most impressive is that India has been able to build some of the planes it relies on for defense domestically. The Jaguar and MiG-27 “Flogger” are two such planes currently serving, while India also developed an upgrade kit for their force of MiG-21 “Fishbeds.”


What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
An upgraded Indian MiG-27 Flogger. (Wikimedia Commons)

Now, the Indian Air Force could see a new multi-role fighter in service, one that is not a licensed copy, but rather indigenously designed and built. India did this before, with the Ajeet and Marut. However, both of these planes were very simple and were rapidly replaced by designs from the United States, Western Europe, and the Soviet Union.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
HAL Marut, a home-grown combat aircraft that served in the Indian Air Force. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

India turned to licensed production, the development of upgrades, and imports to meet its needs for combat aircraft. Being a neutral party in the Cold War, they were able to leverage relatively cheap Soviet aircraft technology on the one hand, and advanced Western tech on the other. With India’s force of MiG-21s getting older — despite the “Bison” upgrade program that gave it the ability to fire advanced AA-11 “Archer” and AA-12 “Adder” air-to-air missiles — the country began to pursue a home-built project.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A HAL Tejas in front of a F-16 Fighting Falcon and a Eurofighter Typhoon. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Tejas, also known as the LCA, is a multi-role fighter that was intended for use by not only the Indian Air Force (which sought to replace its force of MiG-21s), but also the Indian Navy (seeking to supplement its force of MiG-29s).

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
An Indian Navy prototype HAL Tejas takes off during tests to determine if it could operate off carriers. (Youtube Screenshot)

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Tejas has a top speed of 1,370 miles per hour, a maximum range of 1,056 miles, has a twin 23mm GSh-23 cannon, and can carry a wide variety of air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, bombs, and rockets.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
A HAL Tejas flies overhead. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Indian Air Force has already ordered 123 of these planes, and the Indian Navy had planned to order 57 before backing off due to weight issues. You can learn more about this plane in the video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmtMszY8z0M
(New Update Defence | YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This German rifle is a combination of one of the best rifles in the world — and a flop

Let’s face it, there are some cool rifles out there.


There’s the HK416, a derivative of the M16 that is best known as the rifle used by SEAL Team Six to kill Osama bin Laden. There is the Steyr AUG, a so-called “bullpup” design that packs a full-sized rifle in a shorter package.

There is, of course, the M1 Garand, celebrated by George S. Patton and R. Lee Ermey.

Others don’t fare so well, like the Canadian Ross rifle, an effort by America’s northern neighbor to be self-reliant in at least some aspect of small arms. It didn’t work, and today Canada uses a version of the M16 known as the C7 alongside a variant of the M4 carbine called the C8.

Even the Germans had a recent dud in the G36 rifle, which they are trying to replace.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
During exercise Joint Resolve 26, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), soldiers from the German Battle Group’s 2nd Reinforced Infantry Company, armed with Heckler and Koch G36 automatic assault rifles, seek to capture French soldiers playing the role of paramilitary extremists, near a paramilitary training camp in the town of Pazaric.

One possible contender for this replacement is the HK433 rifle — basically an effort to take the best features from the AR-15/M16 platform, which includes the HK416, and the G36. Yes, the G36 had some virtues, including its ability to be operated by both right-handed shooters and southpaws.

According to a handout from Heckler and Koch that was available at the Association of the United States Army annual exhibition in Washington, D.C., the HK433 offers operators the choice between the operating concept of the M16/M4/AR-15 and that of the G36. But this rifle, chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, is customizable in many more ways.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time
The HK433. (Photo from Heckler and Koch)

There are six choices for barrel length, from 11 inches to 20 inches. Two color options, black and “flat dark earth” are available. The rifle can handle a grenade launcher, optics, and a suppressor. The rifle also includes an adjustable cheek rest, a round counter, a magazine well that is compatible with both the AR-15 and G36 magazines, and a foldable and retractable buttstock.

And as the U.S. Army takes a look at its potential future rifle, the HK433 could be a contender.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The M16 was originally intended to fire the 7.62mm NATO round

Today, the M16 rifle and M4 carbine are ubiquitous among American troops. These lightweight rifles, which both fire the 5.56mm NATO round, have been around for decades and are mainstays. The civilian version, the AR-15, is owned by at least five million Americans. But the troops hauling it around almost got a similar rifle in the 1950s that fired the 7.62mm NATO round.

It’s not the first classic rifle to be designed to fire one cartridge and enter service firing another. The M1 Garand, when it was first designed, was chambered for the .276 Pedersen round. The reason that round never caught on? The Army had tons of .30-06 ammo in storage, and so the legendary semi-auto rifle was adapted to work with what was available.


The story is much different for the M16. Eugene Stoner’s original design was called the AR-10 (the “AR” stood for “Armalite Rifle” — Armalite was to manufacture the weapon). This early design was a 7.62mm NATO rifle with a 20-round box magazine.

According to the National Rifle Association Museum, this rifle went head to-head with the FN FAL and the T44 to replace the M1 Garand. The T44 won out and was introduced to service as the M14. This doesn’t mean the AR-10 was a complete loss, however. Sudan and Portugal both bought the AR-10 for their troops to use and, from there, the rifle trickled into a few other places as well.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Portugal bought the AR-10 and used it in the Angolan War.

(Photo by Joaquim Coelho)

Armalite, though, wasn’t ready to give up on getting that juicy U.S. military contract, so they began work on scaling down the AR-10 for the 5.56mm cartridge. The Army tried the resulting rifle, the AR-15, out in 1958 and liked what the saw, pointing to a need for a lightweight infantry rifle. It was the Air Force, though, that was the first service to buy the rifle, calling it the M16, which serves American troops today.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

The AR-10 made a comeback of sorts during the War on Terror. Here, a Marine general fires the Mk 11 sniper rifle.

(USMC photo by Cpl. Sharon E. Fox)

Despite the immense popularity of the M16, the AR-10 never faded completely into obscurity. During the War on Terror, operation experience called for a heavier-hitting rifle with longer range. In a way, the AR-10 made a comeback — this time as a designated marksman rifle in the form of modified systems, like the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System and Mk 11 rifle.

What it’s like to hit the afterburner in an F-16 for the first time

Variants of the AR-10 are on the civilian market, including this AR-10 National Match.

(Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Over the years, the AR-10 has thrived as a semi-auto-only weapon, available on the civilian market, produced by companies like Rock River Arms and DPMS. In a sense, the AR-10 has come full circle.

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