How the legendary B-2's stealth actually works - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

The B-2 Spirit is one of the most clandestine and rare planes in the world. Only 21 were ever built, and they reportedly have a stealth profile similar to that of a large bird despite their 170-foot wingspan. And they’re invisible to many infrared seekers, despite four large engines.

Here’s how engineers made a massive plane with large engines nearly invisible to systems designed to detect threats exactly like the B-2.


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The B-2’s stealth profile is the result of extensive computer testing that wasn’t possible before its design. While the F-117 and B-1 were stealth aircraft, they were designed by nerds with slide rules and minimal computer modeling because the technology and the computers necessary simply didn’t exist.

But when it was time to design the B-2, the all-powerful nerds had super computers and leveraged them to create a model that had no flat surfaces with which to reflect radar directly back to the sensor. While a machine with no flat surfaces is harder to manufacture, the increase in stealth was deemed worthy of extra costs.

If the B-2 were flying directly towards the radar, most of the waves would actually be reflected 90 degrees away from the receiver, giving the radar operators next to nothing to work with.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
Husband and wife B-2 Spirit pilots pose with one of the rare aircraft. The engine intakes are visible to the left and right of the cockpit.
(Avery family courtesy photo)

But of course, the flying wing would lose most of its stealth if the engines were mounted outside of its high-tech form. So the engines were mounted inside with special openings for intake and exhaust that, again, would not reflect radar waves back to the dish.

That exhaust opens its own can of worms. After all, aircraft can be tracked by their infrared signatures, if only from relatively close ranges. So, the B-2 needed tech that would let it diffuse or mask its infrared emissions at ranges as short as possible.

It has a few (mostly classified) systems to help with this. The exact shape of the exhaust helps a lot, but it also cools its exhaust and mixes it with the outside air to create a final exhaust that is at nearly the same temperature as the air flowing into the intake.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Germaine McCall, aircrew flight equipment NCO in charge, 509th Operations Support Squadron, carries a life support equipment to be cleaned and inspected upon the arrival of a B-2 Spirit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, August 28, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

This greatly frustrates pursuing missiles and fighters, but obviously still leaves it vulnerable if someone spots the plane and talks fighters into the vicinity to hunt it.

Except the B-2 has another trick up its sleeve that makes even that less likely. It’s actually extremely quiet, so much so that people at sporting events with B-2 flyovers have reported being able to speak to one another as the plane flies past.

Anyone who has worked with most other jets knows that you can typically hear them before you see them, often by a matter of hundreds of feet. It’s the sound that lets you know to look for the plane, but the B-2’s tiny acoustic signature means that most observers on the ground won’t know there’s anything in the sky to look for.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit flies past a crowd of spectators during the 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom on July 14, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball)
 

Combined, this makes the B-2 a plane with little radar observability, that’s too quiet for most people on the ground to notice it flying nearby, and it gives off little heat, frustrating missiles and fighters sent to down it.

All of this still requires good pilots and planning. Determined defenders could use low-frequency radar waves and skilled fighters to hunt down a B-2 following a too-populated or well-defended route. But the last element of B-2 stealth comes from good intelligence, allowing pilots and planners to send the bombers in through relatively undefended routes or through routes the B-2 can defeat.

Because that’s a big part of the B-2’s mission. It’s not supposed to act as the primary bomber in most circumstances. It’s a first-wave attacker, clearing the air defenses on the ground and opening “alleys” for less stealthy aircraft. Ideally, they get a picture of the air defenses they will attack from reconnaissance aircraft like the RC-135 and are then able to dismantle them piece by piece.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
An Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., takes off March 27, 2016, in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.
(U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joel Pfiester)

But the B-2 can and has been sent against other targets, including bunkers in Iraq housing command and control elements during the invasion of that country. This is particularly useful when planners need to eliminate a target too early in the timeline to dismantle the air network first.

After all, if an enemy commander shows himself at a rally in the capital during an air campaign, you aren’t going to wait for the B-2s to finish opening the air corridors, you’re just going to send in B-2s to the final target (or you send B-1s if the B-2s can’t get there in time). You can get the radars later.

And that’s what’s so great about the B-2. While the plane costs more dollars per hour of flight than many others and carries fewer bombs than planes like the B-52 and B-1, it can hit targets that few other platforms can, largely because of its amazing stealth.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s mechanical third arm is straight out of ‘Aliens’

If you’re a fan of the movie Aliens, then you probably remember the mechanical third arms that the Space Marines used to help support their giant weapons systems. Last year, the Army tried out a real-life version of the device at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, seeking to help Soldiers shoulder burdens in excess of 100 pounds. Too much unassisted lifting, according to an Army researcher in a 2017 report, could result in Soldiers “getting broken, sometimes in training, before they see a day in combat.”


Well, the initial prototype finished its testing and the six Soldiers who tried it gave their feedback. Now, according to an Army Times report, the Army reportedly has designed a new version and is looking for fifteen suckers volunteers to test it out.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

The six Soldiers who tested the initial prototype, which was front-mounted, had some good news for innovators: It did reduce fatigue. The sensors that participants wore throughout testing showed that the device measured lower muscle activation as well. However, like all ideas born in the mind of a science geek, there were a few implementation problems and the device wasn’t quite ready to hit the field.

Related: 8 reasons why ‘Aliens’ perfectly captures Marine infantry life

So, after a short trip back to the lab, the Army is back with a new version that weighs in at about three and a half pounds. The arm is now mounted on the back and has a new hinge plate to help the device work on folks with various body types. After all, the Army is made up of unique individuals, not battalions of clones… oh, wait, that’s a different sci-fi franchise.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

These “third arms” are generally capable of hoisting an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which weighs roughly 27 pounds. They are also capable of holding shields that weigh about 20 pounds. The next round of tests will seek to determine how well the third arm handles shooting at moving targets, assisting with recoil mitigation, and shooting while on the move.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army bars soldiers from using TikTok on government phones

The US Army has barred its soldiers from using TikTok following mounting fears from US lawmakers that the Chinese tech company could pose a national security threat.

Military.com was the first to report the new policy decision, which is a reversal of the Army’s earlier stance on the popular short-form video app.


A spokeswoman told Military.com that the US Army had come to consider TikTok a “cyberthreat” and that “we do not allow it on government phones.” The US Navy took a similar decision to bar the app from government phones last month.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

(U.S. Navy Photo by Gary Nichols)

TikTok is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, and its links to Beijing have prompted intense scrutiny from US politicians as the app’s popularity has skyrocketed. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York successfully requested an Army investigation into the app’s handling of user data in November, and numerous reports have emerged of the platform censoring content it thinks could anger the Chinese government.

TikTok has strenuously denied any allegations of Chinese state influence, and in its first transparency report claimed that China had made zero censorship requests in the first half of 2019.

Numerous reports have surfaced that the company is exploring strategies for distancing itself from its Chinese roots, including a US rebrand, building a headquarters outside China, and selling off a majority stake in its business.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s new robot tank performed horribly in Syria

Russia’s new Uran-9 robot tank apparently had a terrible debut in Syria.

The unmanned tank couldn’t operate as far away from its controllers as expected, had problems firing its 30mm gun, and couldn’t fire while moving, amid other problems, according to Popular Mechanics, citing the Defence Blog.

Unveiled in September 2016 and deployed to Syria in May 2018, the Uran-9 is an unmanned tank that was supposed to be capable of operating up to 1.8 miles away from its controller.


But in Syria, it could only be operated from about 984 to 1,640 feet from its operators around high-rise buildings, the Defence Blog reported, citing reports from the 10th all-Russian scientific conference “Actual problems of protection and security” in St. Petersburg.

The robot tank’s controller also randomly lost control of it 17 times for up to one minute and two times for up to an hour and a half, Defence Blog reported.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

Uran-9 combat unmanned ground vehicle

The Uran-9 is heavily armed with four 9M120-1 Ataka anti-tank guided missile launchers, six 93 millimeter-caliber rocket-propelled Shmel-M reactive flamethrowers, one 30-millimeter 2A72 automatic cannon, and one 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun.

But its 30-millimeter 2A72 automatic cannon delayed six times and even failed once, Defence Blog reported, and it could only acquire targets up to about 1.24 miles away, as opposed to the expected four miles.

Apparently the tank’s optical station was seeing “multiple interferences on the ground and in the airspace in the surveillance sector,” Defence Blog reported.

The unmanned tank even had issues with its chassis and suspension system, and required repairs in the field, Defence Blog reported.

“The Uran-9 seems to have proven to be more about novelty than capability, but that doesn’t mean these tests are without value,” SOFREP reported. “In time (and with funding) a successor to the Uran-9 may one day be a battlefield force to be reckoned with.”

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

Articles

6 treats for the US Army on its 242nd birthday

The United States Army celebrates 242 years of defending the America against all enemies.


So, what can you get an Army that already has a $240 billion annual budget? Obviously, it will need to be one heck of an awesome gift basket.

Here’s what we’d put in:

1. A new 7.62mm battle rifle

The Army is deciding it may go back to the 7.62x51mm NATO standard round.

Whether the new battle rifle is based on the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the new M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the M14EBR, or some other contender, the Army will want the reach and hitting power of this cartridge in the hands of more grunts.

Every rifleman a designated marksman?

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin

2. A new scout helicopter

The Army has retired the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, but there has been no replacement. The hot-rod that was the RAH-66 Comanche got chopped in 2004. The ARH-70 Arapahoe was killed in 2008. Then, the planned OH-58F Block II got the axe in 2014 thanks to sequestration.

Look, the Apache is not a bad helicopter, but the Kiowa worked well as a scout bird. UAVs are nice, but sometimes, you need a manned scout to do the job.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter from the 1st Infantry Division takes off on a mission from Forward Operation Base MacKenzie, Iraq. It is armed with an AGM-114 Hellfire and 7 Hydra 70 rockets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Cuomo)

3. More Dragoons

The Stryker got a firepower upgrade last year in the form of a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun. These Strykers got a new designation (M1296) and a new name (Dragoon). However, there are a lot of places the grunts could use that extra firepower.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: courtesy of Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems)

4. Speed up the lighter Carl Gustav

Yes, the Army invoked Army Regulation 600.9 on the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System.

After Carl (Gustav) lost the weight, it came back with some new features that will make it far more user-friendly. The system is now a permanent part of infantry platoons, and gives them a weapon capable of firing anti-armor, illumination, smoke, anti-building, and anti-personnel rounds.

But let’s get those systems there faster, please.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
U.S. Army Soldiers Spc. Joshua Rutledge (right) and Pfc. Austin Piette (left) perform a practice drill on how to hold, aim, and fire a Carl Gustav anti-tank recoilless rifle. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin/Released)

5. Bring back the W48 and merge it with the Excalibur GPS tech

ISIS has used chemical weapons a lot during its reign of terror. The United States once had the W48 round — a shell that delivers the equivalent of 72 tons of TNT (.072 kilotons).

Merging it with the Excalibur GPS guidance system would certainly have given our guys a nice option for a…decisive response to such an attack.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

That’ll do some damage. (Image via Wikipedia)

6. Air-defense systems besides the M1097 Avenger

The fact that Russia is a threat again means that it is well past time to get some more air defense besides the Avenger and man-portable Stingers.

There are some off-the-shelf options that could bolster those defenses. The Bradley Linebacker might be a system to bring back, more for a 25mm gun than the missiles (it is stuck with Stingers).

So, let’s get some other missile options.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
AMRAAMs mounted on a Humvee. Versions of this have been called HUMRAAM, CLAWS, or SLAMRAAM. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The smart anti-drone grenade and bazooka that will save us from Skynet

Ok, so modern unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t nearly as much a threat as Skynet and these weapon systems really wouldn’t do anything to the T-1000. However, today’s remote-controlled drones can prove to be major security risks as surveillance or even explosive delivery platforms—it’s this threat that the 40mm net grenade and SkyWall 100 bazooka are designed to combat.

On February 5, 2019, the U.S. Army acquired a patent for a 40mm grenade designed to snare and defeat UAVs. I can already hear you typing, “Why not just shoot them out of the sky with air-burst rounds or regular bullets?” Well, the first problem is escalation of force. Depending on the ROE, live fire may not be approved as a reaction to unmanned surveillance. There’s also the fact that bullets fired into the air that don’t connect with their target will eventually fall to earth and potentially strike an unintended target. Additionally, shooting down a drone creates the danger of an uncontrolled airborne object falling from the sky, most likely over friendly forces. This danger is amplified if the drone is carrying explosives.


Enter the 40mm net grenade. Based on the standard 40mm grenade platform used in weapon systems like the Mk19 and M320 grenade launchers, the 40mm net grenade provides troops with a non-lethal standoff countermeasure to combat drones. The basic components of the grenade are the net and proximity detector. The operator aims at the drone and fires the grenade. At six to nine yards from the target, the proximity detector detonates a small charge that propels the petals and weights from the grenade and casts the net. The net ensnares the drone and neutralizes it. The Army has reported that initial tests of the grenade have been promising since it is easily operated and it is extremely effective against multiple targets—that’s right, drone swarms.
How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

An illustration of how the net grenade works (U.S. Patent 10,197,365 B1 Figure 2)

What if the drone bigger than a standard commercial drone? Get a bigger gun. In this case, a bazooka. Built by OpenWorks Engineering, the SkyWall is a smart anti-drone shoulder-fired bazooka that assists its operator in targeting and neutralizing unmanned aerial threats. The operator identifies the target using the intelligent scope. The targeting system then calculates a firing solution based on the target’s distance, speed, and direction. Once an optimal aim is acquired, the weapon fires its round at the target. The net-carrying canister round is capable of engaging drones up to 100m away. The net round can also be equipped with a parachute which helps to bring the drone safely to the ground. This can help with identification and intelligence gathering once the aircraft is recovered. The weapon system is designed to be operated by just one person and claims a fast reload time for dealing with multiple targets. That said, it’s hard to beat the rate of fire of a Mk19.

While the net grenade is still in its testing and evaluation phase, the SkyWall has already been deployed operationally. The SkyWall Patrol model was implemented as a kinetic component of the GUARDION air defense system by German police at the Berlin Air Show. In an environment where an unregistered drone could cause serious damage to sensitive and expensive aircraft, keeping the skies safe is a serious business. The GUARDION system detects, tracks, and neutralizes drones in built-up and public spaces. This is made possible by SkyWall’s accurate and non-lethal characteristics.

The U.S. Army is also implementing SkyWall Patrol in its anti-drone system. At a demonstration in Italy, the Army provided an overview of the system, performed two engagements against a drone, and held a discussion on the recovery and exploitation of an unmanned system once it is captured. The demonstration was a major event with 55 multinational observers in attendance. Additionally, Sgt. Kiara Perez became the first female U.S. service member to operate the SkyWall Patrol during the demonstration. Sarah Conner would be proud. “The SkyWall Patrol system aligns with the U.S. Army’s modernization strategy, which focuses on making soldiers and units more lethal,” the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command said in a press release.

As technology evolves, so too does the battlefield. The implementation of new technologies in warfare also prompts further technological research and development in the pursuit of countermeasures. While this means increased capabilities for our troops, it also means more mission essential tasks to train on and more sensitive items to keep track off.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the compact eye in the sky for Russian carriers

Let’s face it – the most important aircraft that a carrier has in its air wing are not the fighters the protect it, nor the attack planes to hit targets.


Actually, no operation can go on without the carrier’s airborne early warning aircraft.

Surprised? Don’t be. Airborne early warning aircraft help protect carriers in two ways.

First, they place an eye high in the sky so that it can see further and detect threats earlier. Second, they provide the means to displace that eye, so that it is harder to find the base (whether on land or at sea).

This displacement is particularly valuable at sea. Planes from land bases can usually land at other bases. But if a carrier is sunk out in the middle of the ocean, the pilots in planes in the air only have two options: Bail out, or make a splash landing.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
An E-2C Hawkeye from the Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 lands aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). | US Navy Photo

The United States solved this problem with the E-2 Hawkeye. This plane had long range (the E-2D adds aerial refueling), and a powerful radar. But not all countries have full-deck carriers.

The British hit on the solution after the Falklands War by mashing up an air-search radar with the Sea King helicopter. They later did the same with the Agusta-Westland Merlin.

Russia had tried to build its own version of the E-2, but Ukraine got custody of the An-71/An-74 Madcap after the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the Yak-44, the only alternative to the Madcap, couldn’t be operated off the Kiev or Kuznetsov-class carriers.

So, the Russians have fielded the Ka-31, an airborne early warning variant of the Ka-27/Ka-29 Helix series of helicopters, which they intended as a stopgap.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
Ka-31 Helix AEW helicopter. (Youtube Screenshot)

The Ka-27 has long been used on Russian surface combatants as an anti-submarine helicopter, and at 37 feet long and 17 feet, nine inches high, it is shorter but taller than the MH-60R Seahawk (just under 65 feet long and 12 feet, four inches high). The Ka-31 is slightly longer (41 feet long) and taller (18 feet, four inches).

You can see a video about this Russian solution below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNDC5fJcwEw
MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Marines compete to find the Corps’ most lethal tank crew

The hot California sun beamed, drawing beads of sweat, but the US Marines, Vietnam veterans and members of the local community were heedless. Hands holding phones, binoculars and video cameras hovered as they anxiously waited for another ground shaking explosion.

A murmur erupted from the sweat-slicked crowd perched on top of the Range 409A observation point as 4th Tank Battalion’s M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fired another dead-center hit during TIGERCOMP Aug. 29, 2019, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

According to Lt. Col. Matthew Zummo, the commanding officer of 1st Tank Battalion, TIGERCOMP has been the Marine Corps tank gunnery competition since 1996. The three Marine Tank Battalions compete to determine the Corps’ most lethal tank crew. Following a six-year break from 2003-2009, the competition was reignited in 2010.


“First Tanks is hosting this year’s competition,” said Zummo. “We selected Range 409A as the venue to enable a better spectator experience compared to the usual Range 500 at 29 Palms. The winning crew will have the opportunity to compete in the Sullivan Cup, which is the Army’s total force tank gunnery competition.”

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

US Marines selected to compete in TIGERCOMP meet the local and military community on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

US Marine veteran Michael Jiron watches the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

A medium tactical vehicle replacement at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

US Marine Corps videographer Pfc. Jacob Yost records an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks fire during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

US Marine 1st Lt. Daniel Lyrla, operations officer in charge of planning TIGERCOMP, talks to the local and military communities during the TIGERCOMP awards ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

US Marines with 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve celebrate during the TIGERCOMP awards ceremony on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

In the end, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, collected the enormous TIGERCOMP trophy, the pride and joy of the tank community.

Stay tuned to watch the Marines compete against the soldiers in the Sullivan Cup, the Army’s precision gunnery competition. The next competition that will rigorously test US soldiers, US Marines and international partners is set for 2020 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Special Forces medic will receive Medal of Honor

A former medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) that heroically fought his way up a mountain to render aid to his Special Forces teammates and their Afghan commando counterparts will receive the Medal of Honor.

The White House announced Sept. 21, 2018, that former Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II went above and beyond the call of duty April 6, 2008, while assigned to Special Operations Task Force – 33 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He will receive the highest military award for valor at a White House ceremony, Oct. 1, 2018.


In April 2008, Shurer was assigned to support Special Forces operators working to take out high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley.

As the team navigated through the valley, a firefight quickly erupted, and a series of insurgent sniper fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms and machine gun fire forced the unit into a defensive fighting position.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II graphic.

Around that time, Shurer received word that their forward assault element was also pinned down at another location, and the forward team had sustained multiple casualties.

With disregard for his safety, Shurer moved quickly through a hail of bullets toward the base of the mountain to reach the pinned-down forward element. While on the move, Shurer stopped to treat a wounded teammate’s neck injury caused by shrapnel from a recent RPG blast.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II.

After providing aid, Shurer spent the next hour fighting across several hundred meters and killing multiple insurgents. Eventually, Shurer arrived to support the pinned down element and immediately rendered aid to four critically wounded U.S. units and 10 injured commandos until teammates arrived.

Soon after their arrival, Shurer and his team sergeant were shot at the same time. The medic ran 15 meters through a barrage of gunfire to help his sergeant. Despite a bullet hitting his helmet and a gunshot wound to his arm, Shurer pulled his teammate to cover and rendered care.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

Medal of Honor.

(US Army photo.)

Moments later, Shurer moved back through heavy gunfire to help sustain another teammate that suffered a traumatic amputation to his right leg.

For the next several hours, Shurer helped keep the large insurgent force at bay while simultaneously providing care to his wounded teammates. Shurer’s actions helped save the lives of all wounded casualties under his care.

Shurer also helped evacuate three critically wounded, non-ambulatory, teammates down a near-vertical 60-foot cliff, all while avoiding rounds of enemy gunfire and falling debris caused by numerous air strikes.

Further, Shurer found a run of nylon webbing and used it to lower casualties while he physically shielded them from falling debris.

Shurer’s Medal of Honor was upgraded from a Silver Star upon review.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

Intel

North Korea May Have Equipped Two Submarines With Ballistic Missile Launch Tubes

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
Photo: Wikimedia


Evidence in recent commercial imagery suggests that a new North Korean submarine has up to two vertical launch missile submarines.

The website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies called 38 North, posted the imagery with tags showing how the conning tower of a new North Korean submarine can house 1–2 ballistic or cruise missile tubes.

Also Read: 27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine

The submarine was spotted at the Sinpo South Shipyard in North Korea, which has seen significant infrastructural improvement recently.

Officials at the U.S. Korea Institute at SAIS speculate that a “shorter naval version of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, a Nodong medium-range ballistic missile, or naval versions of the solid-fuelled KN-02 short-range ballistic missile” could be the missile used aboard the submarine.

Of course, a ballistic missile submarine would pose a new risk to South Korea. However, the analysts at Johns Hopkins pointed out that the imagery doesn’t mean the North Koreans are necessarily close to completing the project.

Much like North Koreas ICBM program, experts believe this sort of technology is still lacking north of the 38th parallel.

This article originally appeared at Military.com. Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

4 of the coolest planes that might have been

The jet age ushered in an era of intense competition for military aircraft that pushed the envelope of design and pitted some of the country’s top engineers against the toughest problems the Pentagon could come up with.


In the end, only one could be chosen, which begs the question whether the fight would have been different had the losing designs won.

The YA-9, the YF-23, the YF-17, the X-32 — these are all planes that came up just short in competition for top-dollar military contracts.

But would they have been better choices, looking back over the years?

Let’s take a good look and see.

1. Northrop A-9

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
The Northrop YA-9 during the fly-off. (USAF photo)

Beaten out by the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka “Warthog”), the Northrop YA-9 did offer a higher top speed than the tank buster the Air Force eventually adopted.

The Soviets built a knock off of this plane in the Su-25 Frogfoot. GlobalSecurity.org noted that the plane’s YF102 engines were specially designed for the plane.

Ultimately, that was one big factor in the A-10’s victory – Fairchild’s designers had used off-the-shelf systems and locked the design down.

The fact is you have to look at the results the aircraft that was ultimately delivered. The A-10 has been a legend in its ability to not only deliver ordnance on target, but to come back after being shot up.

In this case, the right call was the A-10.

2. Northrop YF-17

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
An air-to-air right side view of a YF-16 aircraft and a YF-17 aircraft, side-by-side, armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. (USAF photo)

The F-16 has been one of the most-produced combat aircraft in recent years – over 4,500 have been built, and some orders are still coming in. There’s even controversy over handing the production line over to India.

Yet it could have been a different plane. Northrop’s YF-17 was the other candidate in what was becoming a big contest as NATO allies sought to replace their F-104 Starfighters, and Congress told the Navy that they’d be getting the winner as well.

But the YF-17 was not to be – as the Air Force went with the F-16. Aviation writer Joe Baugher notes that the difference-maker in the decision was the F-16’s proven engine, even though the YF-17 was better in some areas.

The Navy and Marine Corps would eventually modify the YF-17 into the F/A-18 Hornet, which has proven itself as a mainstay of carrier air wings since the 1990s.

Could the YF-17 have been the Joint Strike Fighter about 35 years ago? That is a very intriguing question. Still, you can’t argue with the F-16’s success, and so the F-16 was probably the right call to make.

3. Northrop/McDonnell-Douglas YF-23

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
The two Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23 prototypes in flight. The aircraft on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the darker one on the right. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Wow… Northrop’s being mentioned a lot in this piece, isn’t it? The YF-23 is yet another plane that came just short of the production nod.

Northrop named the plane the Black Widow II (as an interesting piece of trivia, Lockheed’s choice for the F-22’s name was Lightning II, now the namesake of the F-35).

According to an Air Force Museum fact sheet, Northrop made the decision to maximize the YF-23’s stealth capabilities and speed, figuring that making the plane harder to see would help it win fights.

Lockheed, on the other hand, chose to add thrust vectoring to make its design a better dogfighter. The Air Force chose Lockheed’s design.

But the YF-23 nearly made a comeback when the Air Force was seeking an interim bomber, according to a 2004 report by Flight International.

We don’t have much combat experience to tell us how well the F-22 performs (they did carry out some strikes in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), but the YF-23 might have made an excellent replacement for the F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft that retired in 1996.

4. Boeing X-32

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
The X-32 takes off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, from Little Rock AFB in 2001. The X-32 was one of two experimental aircraft involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The program is intended to provide a universal air attack platform for all branches of the American armed services. (DOD photo)

We talked about this bird before. The fact of the matter is that the Boeing X-32 just missed out, arguably because of the Lockheed demonstrator’s lift-fan performance.

In this case, playing it safe potentially cost Boeing what could be the largest fighter contract in history.

That being said, the X-32B’s use of the more-proven thrust-vectoring to acquire its V/STOL capability might have cut down on the RD time – and costs – enough to get to the Marines sooner.

With Hornets falling out of the skies (one Hornet crash off Okinawa was fatal for the pilot), that may have been very important – even if the plane had the nickname “Monica.”

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The Air Force built one of the world’s fastest computers out of Playstations

When the Playstation 2 was first released to the public, it was said the computer inside was so powerful it could be used to launch nuclear weapons. It was a stunning comparison. In response, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein opted to try and buy up thousands of the gaming consoles – so much so the U.S. government had to impose export restrictions.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works

But it seems Saddam gave the Air Force an idea: building a supercomputer from many Playstations.


Just 10 years after Saddam Hussein tried to take over the world using thousands of gaming consoles, the United States Air Force took over the role of mad computer scientist and created the worlds 33rd fastest computer inside its own Air Force Research Laboratory. Only instead of Playstation 2, the Air Force used 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3 consoles. They called it the “Condor Cluster,” and it was the Department of Defense’s fastest computer.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
Playstation-less children called it “the summer of despair.” (Image by Shlomaster from Pixabay)

The USAF put the computer in Rome, New York near Syracuse and intended to use the computer for radar enhancement, pattern recognition, satellite imagery processing, and artificial intelligence research for current and future Air Force projects and operations.

Processing imagery is the computer’s primary function, and it performs that function miraculously well. It can analyze ultra-high-resolution images very quickly, at a rate of billions of pixels per minute. But why use Playstation consoles instead of an actual computer or other proprietary technology? Because a Playstation cost $300 at the time and the latest and greatest tech in imagery processing would have run the USAF a much more hefty cost per unit. Together, the Playstations formed the core of the computer for a cost of roughly $1 million.

The result was a 500 TeraFLOPS Heterogeneous Cluster powered by PS3s but connected to subcluster heads of dual-quad Xeons with multiple GPGPUs. The video game consoles consumed 90% less energy than any alternative and building a special machine with more traditional components to create a processing center, the Air Force could have paid upwards of $10 million, and the system would not have been as energy-efficient.

It was the Playstation’s ability to install other operating systems that allowed for this cluster – and is what endangered the program.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
If only Saddam had lived to see this…

In 2010, Sony pushed a Playstation firmware update that revoked the device’s ability to install alternate operating systems, like the Linux OS the Air Force used in its supercomputer cluster. The Air Force unboxed hundreds of Playstations and then imaging each unit to run Linux only to have Sony run updates on them a few weeks later. The Air Force, of course, didn’t need the firmware update, nor could Sony force it on those devices. But if one of the USAF’s Playstations went down, it would be the end of the cluster. Any device refurbished or newly purchased would lack the ability to run Linux.

The firmware update was the death knell for the supercomputer and others like it that had been produced by academic institutions. There was never any word on whether Saddam ever created his supercomputer.

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How the US military went from the Willy to the JLTV

Over the past few decades, the character of military conflict has changed substantially as “front lines” and “rear areas” have blurred into a single, full-spectrum operational environment. That increasing complexity is reflected in the tactical vehicles that commanders need to address that spectrum of operations. When the Army looked to replace the venerable Jeep, the July-August 1981 issue of RDA magazine, Army ALT’s predecessor, described the new vehicle it sought to acquire, the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, this way:


“The HMMWV will be diesel powered and have an automatic transmission. It will carry a 2,500-pound payload, have a cruising range of 300 miles, accelerate from 0 to 30 MPH within 6 to 8 seconds and achieve a maximum speed to 60 MPH. Since the HMMWV will be operated in forward areas, it will feature run-flat tires and ballistic protection up to 16-grain fragments traveling at 425 meters per second, as well as explosion-proof fuel tanks for some models. The vehicle will use off-the-shelf civilian hardware and military standard parts wherever possible.”

It was, essentially, a better Jeep. There was nothing in that description about blast resistance or networking. It would have been hard to imagine a tactical network such as today’s in 1981. Nor was any consideration given to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Contrast that with the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is currently in low-rate initial production.

JLTV is an Army-led, joint-service program designed to replace a portion of each service’s light tactical wheeled vehicle fleets while closing a mobility and protection gap. The intent is to provide protected, sustained, networked mobility for warfighters and payloads across the full range of military operations.

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Willys-Overland was awarded the contract for the 1940 Willys Quad Original Pilot, the Jeep’s precursor, which began production in 1941. The vehicle underwent countless modifications and upgrades, and remained in service for the next 44 years.

 

During World War II, the Jeep was considered the workhorse for logistical and support tasks. The early vehicles were used for laying cable and hauling logs, and as firefighting pumpers, field ambulances and tractors. However, the vehicle didn’t include armoring, a radio, seatbelts—or even doors. After the war, the Jeep went through many modifications and upgrades and remained in service for the next 44 years.

The HMMWV was fielded in 1985, a couple of years later than anticipated back in 1981, and they have been used since as troop carriers, command vehicles, ambulances, for psychological operations and as weapon platforms. In the early 2000s, HMMWVs faced an entirely new threat in the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—the IED—and they proved vulnerable. DOD responded with up-armoring and the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, which was designed specifically to resist and deflect IED explosions.

JLTV gives the current warfighter significantly more protection against multiple threats while increasing mobility, payload and firepower, something that Soldiers and Marines from past conflicts could only envision in their wildest dreams.

“The JLTV has been designed to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of today’s battlefield,” said Dave Diersen, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs at Oshkosh Defense, which won the JLTV contract. Diersen added that JLTV offers “a leap forward in performance and capability that can only come from a vehicle that is purpose-built for a spectrum of light vehicle missions.”

How the legendary B-2’s stealth actually works
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland

BIGGER, STRONGER, SAFER

Army leaders from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command tested a production model of the JLTV, right, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, on May 2. The JLTV bridges the capability gaps in protection, performance and payload of the HMMWV on the left.

The JLTV has two variants, to cover the requirements of both the Army and Marine Corps, and can be transported by a range of lift assets including rotary-wing aircraft. It can traverse rugged and dangerous terrain including urban areas, while providing built-in and supplemental armor against direct fire and IED threats. The JLTV features advanced networking, by being wired for current and future command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

JLTV was purposely built for the Army’s tactical network and designed to have MRAP-like protection, but also to improve fuel efficiency, increase payload and provide greater maintainability, reliability and performance—and the potential for continuous improvement to meet future mission requirements.

 The first production vehicles are intended to serve as the first assets for JLTV’s performance and operational testing programs. Roughly 40 vehicles have been delivered to test sites thus far, and will undergo complete reliability, transportability, survivability, network and other testing to verify the production vehicles’ ability to satisfy the program’s requirements. The most important outcome of this testing is to ensure that Soldiers can effectively interact with the JLTV and all of its integrated equipment.

As the Jeep and HMMWV did on past battlefields, JLTV will no doubt face challenges of 21st century military operations that the Army and DOD can scarcely imagine today, as well as provide a much-needed tactical vehicle capability for the Army and Marine Corps that doesn’t compromise among payload, mobility, performance or protection.

 

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