Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

The U.S. Air Force is delaying the official solicitation for its E-4B Nightwatch replacement, citing a new acquisition strategy approach.

In an update last week, the service said it recently classified its Survivable Airborne Operations Center, or SAOC, Weapon System program — intended to replace the infamous nuclear command-and control aircraft commonly known as the “Doomsday” plane — as an Acquisition Category 1D program.


That category covers major procurements, typically costing billions of dollars. The “D” classification requires a defense acquisition executive, who reports to the defense or deputy defense secretary, to oversee the program.

Because of the change, the request for proposal “originally planned for release in December 2020 is delayed,” according to the presolicitation notice. The service said additional timeline details would be forthcoming.

Last December, Congress authorized .6 million for the SAOC’s research and development.

The Air Force and the Navy — which oversees the E-6B Mercury fleet, a companion aircraft to the E-4B — want to consolidate the two aircraft’s missions.

The E-4B, also known as the National Airborne Operations Center, can be used by the president and defense secretary to execute operations in the event of a nuclear war; the E-6B “looking glass” aircraft serves as an airborne communications relay between the Pentagon’s National Command Authority and U.S. nuclear submarine, bomber and missile forces.

The Navy keeps 16 E-6B aircraft, which are based on a commercial Boeing 707 and began flying in the early 1990s. The Air Force has four E-4Bs, which are modified versions of the Boeing 747 and have been in service since the 1970s.

Traditionally used by defense secretaries for transport around the world, the aging Nightwatch had to ditch that secondary mission because too many E-4Bs required maintenance, according to a report from DefenseOne. The website noted that the E-4B and the two planes used by the president are among the oldest 747-200s still flying.

Small fleets are a drain on the service because they drive up operational costs, according to a 2019 report, “The Air Force of the Future: A Comparison of Alternative Force Structures,” by Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“[The problem] that the Air Force has right now, which is making its operating costs so much higher, is because they have so many small fleets,” he said.

The E-4B was built to withstand an electromagnetic pulse in the event of a nuclear blast. The Air Force is hoping for the same hardened architecture in its replacement.

“In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command control centers, the SAOC aircraft will provide a highly survivable command, control and communications platform to direct US forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities,” according to the service’s initial notice, posted last December.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy used to have nuclear-powered cruisers

While nuclear-powered carriers and submarines are all the rage in the U.S. Navy today, the sea-going service used to have a much wider nuclear portfolio with nuclear-powered destroyers and cruisers that could sail around the world with no need to refuel, protecting carrier and projecting American power ashore with missiles and guns.


Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
The USS Long Beach fires a Terrier missile in 1961. (U.S. Navy)

 

The first nuclear surface combatant in the world wasn’t a carrier, it was the USS Long Beach, a cruiser launched in 1959. That ship was followed by eight other nuclear cruisers, Truxtun, California, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The Arkansas was the last nuclear-powered cruiser launched, coming to sea in 1980.

During the same period, a nuclear-powered destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, took to the seas as well. Due to changes in ship nomenclature over the period, it was a frigate when designed, a destroyer when launched, but would be classified as a cruiser by the time the ship retired.

The head of the Navy’s nuclear program for decades was Adm. Hyman G. Rickover who had a vision for an entirely nuclear-powered carrier battle group. This would maximize the benefits of nuclear vessels and create a lethal American presence in the ocean that could run forever with just an occasional shipment of food, spare parts, and replacement personnel.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
The Navy launched Operation Sea Orbit where nuclear-powered ships sailed together in 1964. This is the USS Enterprise, a carrier; the USS Long Beach, a cruiser; and the USS Bainbridge, classified at the time as a destroyer. (U.S. Navy)

 

The big advantage of nuclear vessels, which required many more highly trained personnel as well as a lot of hull space for the reactor, was that they could sail forever at their top speed. The speed thing was a big advantage. They weren’t necessarily faster than their conventionally fueled counterparts, but gas and diesel ships had to time their sprints for maximum effect since going fast churned through fuel.

That meant conventional vessels couldn’t sail too fast for submarines to catch them, couldn’t sprint from one side of the ocean to the other during contingency operations, and relied on tankers to remain on station for extended periods of time.

Nuclear vessels got around all these problems, but their great speed and endurance only really helped them if they weren’t accompanied by conventional ships. After all, the cruisers and destroyer can’t sprint across the ocean if that means they are outrunning the rest of the fleet in dangerous waters.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
The Navy detonates an explosive charge off the starboard side of the USS Arkansas, a nuclear-powered cruiser, during sea trials. (U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Toon)

 

That’s why Rickover wanted a full nuclear battle group. It could move as a single unit and enjoy its numerous advantages without being slowed down by other ships.

And the ships were quite lethal when they arrived. Nuclear carriers at the time were similar to those today, sailing at a decent clip of about 39 mph (33.6 knots) while carrying interceptor aircraft and bombers.

The 10 nuclear cruisers (counting the Bainbridge as a cruiser), were guided-missile cruisers. Four ships were Virginia-Class ships focused on air defense but also featuring weapons needed to attack enemy submarines and ships as well as to bombard enemy shores.

The other most common nuclear cruiser was the California Class with three ships. The California Class was focused on offensive weaponry, capable of taking the fight to enemy ships with Harpoon missiles, subs with anti-submarine rockets and torpedoes, and enemy shores with missiles and guns. But, it could defend itself and its fleet with surface-to-air missiles and other weapons.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
Ticonderoga-class cruisers like the USS Hue City, front, and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers like the USS Oscar Austin, rear, replaced the nuclear cruisers. (U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson)

 

But the nuclear fleet had one crippling problem: expense. Rickover knew that to ensure that the larger Navy and America would continue to embrace nuclear power at sea, the ships had to be extremely dependable and secure. To do this, ships needed good shielding and a highly capable, highly trained crew.

Nuclear cruisers had about 600 sailors in each crew, while the Ticonderoga-class that took to the sea in 1983 required 350. And the Ticonderoga crew could be more quickly and cheaply trained since those sailors didn’t need to go through nuclear training.

Also, the reactors took up a lot of space within the hull, requiring larger ships than conventional ones with the same battle capabilities. So, when budget constraints came up in the 1990s, the nuclear fleet was sent to mothballs except for the carriers.

And even at that stage, the nuclear cruisers cost more than their counterparts. Conventional cruisers can be sold to allied navies, commercial interests, or sent to common scrap yards after their service. Nuclear cruisers require expensive decommissioning and specially trained personnel to deal with the reactors and irradiated steel.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force increases B-52 patrols in clear signal to China

Several US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers have flown through the contested East and South China Seas multiple times in August 2018, sending an unmistakable message to potential challengers.

Four flights involving no more than two bombers each time were carried out in the disputed seas as part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission. Two B-52s assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron (EBS) participated in joint anti-submarine training exercises with two US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft on Aug. 1, 2018, in the East China Sea, US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said in an official statement.

“Ultimately, it increased our readiness to serve as a credible deterrent force and presence within the theater,” Maj. John Radtke, 96th EBS mission planner, explained.


One B-52 bomber out of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam participated in a CBP training mission in the East China Sea on Aug. 22, 2018, PACAF public affairs told Business Insider, adding that two more B-52s with the 96th EBS conducted CBP operations in the South China Sea on Aug. 27, 2018. It is unclear if the bombers flew past Chinese occupied territories in the area, as PACAF refused to provide the information, citing “operational security concerns.”

The flights were initially detected by Aircraft Spots, on online military aircraft tracking site.

The site’s latest flight tracking data suggested that two more B-52s conducted exercises in the South China Sea on Aug. 30, 2018, which would mean that American heavy bombers have been active in the disputed waterway twice in a week. PACAF confirmed in a public statement the Aug. 30, 2018 flight following queries from Business Insider.

“Is the US trying to exert more pressure on China’s trade by sending a B-52 bombers to the South China Sea?” China’s nationalist state-affiliated tabloid Global Times asked in an editorial Aug. 30, 2018.

The CBP flights are “flown in accordance with international law” and are consistent with America’s “long-standing and well-known freedom of navigation policies,” PACAF public affairs said. China has often expressed frustration with the US position on this particular matter.

In early June 2018, a pair of B-52s ripped across the South China Sea, causing the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accuse the US of “running amok” in the region. China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the time, “We will only even more staunchly take all necessary steps to defend the country’s sovereignty and security, to protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea region.”

The US Air Force similarly sent B-52s into the South China Sea in late April 2018.

In response to questions about a possible B-52 overflight in the East China Sea in August 2018, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “We hope that actions taken in this region by any country could help enhance mutual trust and show respect for the legitimate security interests of regional countries. Nothing that undermines mutual trust and regional security and stability shall happen.”

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has warned repeatedly that China “will firmly defend the sovereign security and territorial integrity of the country.”

News of the recent bomber flights in the East and South China Sea comes just after the Department of Defense released its annual report on Chinese military power. The report specifically noted that Chinese bombers were operating with increased frequency in flashpoint zones in the region.

“The [People’s Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” the report explained. “The PLA may continue to extend its operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.”

The Pentagon has noted that the Chinese air force is pushing to become a “strategic” force capable of power projection.T

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Our Forgotten Heroes: Why don’t we talk about World War I?

During the “Great War”, the United States of America lost over 116,000 of her troops in a span of only 19 months. While initially remaining neutral and refusing to enter into World War I when it began in 1914, that changed after repeated attacks on America’s ships. In 1917 the U.S. entered into the fray, declaring war against Germany.

It can be argued that without American’s force beside the allies, the war wouldn’t have ended in victory, but a stalemate. History has documented this impressive and vital piece of our story. So why don’t we talk about it and those incredible heroes that turned the tide for an entire world in the name of democracy?


Why don’t we discuss how more Marines were killed or wounded in the battle of Belleau Wood than their service’s entire history at that point? That battle alone claimed over 10,000 American casualties in just three weeks. It should also be known that France refused to enter into this particular battle because they felt it was too dangerous. Instead, they insisted that the Americans do it.

We did, but it came at an extremely heavy cost.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

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In September of 1918, 1.2 million American troops entered into the deadliest battle in its history. Many were undertrained and not yet battle-tested – but their sheer numbers and grit did what other armies could not in four years. It was an incredible offensive effort as the Expeditionary Forces of the United States actually caught Germany completely by surprise with their attack.

America’s troops took an area that had been held for four years in just two short days. This battle ended the war, but America lost 26,277 of their own to win it. We also had 192,000 casualties. It was this specific battle at Meuse-Argonne, or The Battle of Argonne Forest, that pushed Germany into literally pleading for an end of World War I. America brought Germany to its knees.

This war was pivotal for so many things that have occurred in the last hundred years. We need to remember those lost their lives in the name of democracy. Let us also not forget the ones that died slowly years following World War I due to the effects of the lingering bullets, “shell shock” (now called post-traumatic stress disorder), and the effects of poison gas exposure.

Those who survived through all of that though? Their personal war at home was just beginning.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

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When service members returned home following the end of World War I, they were celebrated with parades – if they were white. The African American men who returned home after fighting alongside their brothers’ in arms were treated with open hostility and disdain. Some were killed.

The years following the “Great War” were not kind or easy to digest but need to be remembered. They matter.

Following the war, the Great Depression and race riots wreaked havoc on the United States, leading many to question what they fought for. Not only did they question their sacrifice – but they were deeply suffering after their service for their country.

Veterans received just with an honorable discharge. Although they received monetary allotments if they had a disability through the War Risk Insurance Act, it wasn’t enough. They were also required to maintain insurance for care and paid a premium that came out of that allotment, reducing their income even more. Many were too severely disabled to work to make any extra income and the money they received from the government didn’t cover living any kind of quality life.
Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

media.defense.gov

High unemployment, lack of quality medical care and poor housing was the “thanks for your service” that these veterans received – if they were white.

The African American veterans were often denied housing or any kind of equality – leaving them homeless and destitute. This terrible choice for America to treat these brave men in such an abominable way would go on to pave the way for the next seventy years of struggle, advocacy, and racial tension that the country had ever seen.

The government failed all of its returning servicemen.

America failed its heroes by avoiding that chapter in its history.

Our World War I veterans did fight, suffer, and die for our freedom. Let us not forget it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy prepares for healthy Thanksgiving feast

As Thanksgiving approaches, Navy Culinary Specialists (CS) around the world are preparing to serve sailors a healthy variety of traditional fare.

This year, the Navy plans to serve an estimated 105,000 pounds of roast turkey, 24,000 pounds of stuffing, 54,000 pounds of mashed potatoes, 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 5,000 pounds of cranberry sauce, and 4,500 gallons of gravy.


In support of the Navy’s ongoing Go for Green nutrition awareness program, the food offered in shore and ship galleys during Thanksgiving will be labeled to encourage healthy food choices; green (eat often), yellow (eat occasionally), and red (eat rarely), along with a salt shaker graphic to measure sodium content. The food classification is based on calories, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium content. Go for Green encourages healthier food and beverage selections to support peak physical and cognitive performance of sailors. The Navy food service team takes professional pride in their quality service and important contributions to fleet health and readiness.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

The combined leadership of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, and U.S. Embassy Djibouti staff, serve a Thanksgiving meal to forward-deployed service members, civilians, and contractors, Nov. 22, 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Shannon D. Barnwell)

About 7,000 Culinary Specialists serve in our Navy today. They receive extensive training in culinary arts, hotel management and other hospitality industry areas. Culinary Specialists provide food service, catering and hospitality services for sailors, senior government executives, and within the White House Mess for the President of the United States.

They are responsible for all aspects of the shipboard mess decks and shore duty living areas, and are vital to maintaining high crew morale on ships, construction battalions and shore bases.

This article originally appeared on United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian-backed forces using texts in psychological warfare

As the war in eastern Ukraine rages on, so too does Russia’s invasive electronic warfare — and it’s changing how war is fought by sending threats to individual soldier’s phones, and those of their families.

Since the war began in 2014, Russian-backed separatists have repeatedly employed all kinds of electronic and cyberwarfare tactics against Ukrainian troops.


Although Russia’s use of electronic warfare was limited during its 2008 invasion of Georgia, Russian-backed separatists, who are funded by the Kremlin and at times commanded by Russian troops, have used it proficiently in the Donbas, a section of southeastern Ukraine where the war is fought.

Russian-backed separatists are “adept at identifying Ukrainian positions by their electrometric signatures,” US Army Col. Liam Collins wrote in late July 2018.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

Ukrainian soldiers.

(Ukrainian Ministry of Defense photo by Lt. Col. Taras Glen)

They “use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground systems to conduct electromagnetic reconnaissance and jamming against satellite, cellular and radio communication systems along with GPS spoofing and electronic warfare attacks against Ukrainian UAVs.”

Russian-backed separatists are adept at psychological warafre tactics too, often in the forms of threatening text messages from cell-site simulators meant to shatter morale.

“Soldiers of [Ukraine Armed Forces], reverse your offensive to Kyiv while Kyiv hasn’t destroyed you yet,” read one text message several Ukrainian soldiers received in July 2018 near Krymske, according to UNAIN, a pro-Ukrainian media outlet.

“Murderer from UAF [Ukrainian Armed Forces]. The East won’t forgive you and the West won’t remember you!” another text Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint received in November 2015 said.

But sometimes, the separatist texts are disguised as being sent by Ukrainian troops themselves and meant to sow confusion and discord.

“The company commander ran away to Kramatrosk. It smells like trouble. Tonight we are also leaving,” one text Ukrainian troops in Debaltseve received in February 2015 read.

“The natsyky [servicemen of the National Guard of Ukraine] vamoosed. Dnipro [volunteer batallion] was hatcheted. We should run away,” another text Ukrainian troops in Debaltseve received in February 2015 read.

Other times, the texts appear to come from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv.

“Balance of you account was reduced on 10UAH. Thank you for supporting ATO,” read one text that Ukrainian troops have received.

UAH is the Ukrainian currency, and ATO is the Anti-Terrorism Operation (now called Joint Forces Operation), which commands Ukrainian forces and law enforcement in the Donbas.

In 2017, the Associated Press compiled a spreadsheet of several such Russian-backed separatist texts that have been sent since the war began.

Russian hackers were reportedly even tracking and targeting Ukrainian artillery units with a once popular Android app between 2014 and 2016.

To be fair, Ukrainian troops have been known to wage their own kind of pyschological warfare against Russian-backed separatists by raising American flags over their bunkers, or pretending to be members of US Navy SEAL Team 6 by giving orders over the radio in English.

In 2015, Ukrainian troops even changed the name of a street in Krymske from an old Soviet hero to “John McCain Street.”

But Russian-backed separatists appear to have taken the game to a whole new level, sometimes coupling the texts with artillery strikes and even bringing the families of Ukrainian troops into it.

“In one tactic, soldiers receive texts telling them they are ‘surrounded and abandoned,'” US Army Col. Liam Collins wrote.

“Minutes later, their families receive a text stating, ‘Your son is killed in action,’ which often prompts a call or text to the soldiers,” Collins wrote. “Minutes later, soldiers receive another message telling them to “retreat and live,” followed by an artillery strike to the location where a large group of cellphones was detected.”

“Thus, in one coordinated action, electronic warfare is combined with cyberwarfare, information operations, and artillery strikes to produce psychological and kinetic effects,” Collins added.

The US military has little experience fighting in conditions where soldiers and their families are being individually threatened through personal phones. The US military must not only understand these new threats, but also train to counteract them, Collins wrote.

Collins suggests that US “garrisons” should teach their troops more land navigation and map reading so that they don’t have to rely on GPS if it has been compromised.

He also suggests that US forces should use less technology at times and become more comfortable deploying small units without knowing every little move they make.

He lastly advises that tactical operation centers should move antenna farms far away from their location or bombard the area with false signals, that the military should teach troops about electronic warfare in the beginning of training, and continually “develop and refine [its] electronic warfare capabilities.”

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

Articles

No luggage? No problem. Stow a weekend’s worth of clothes in your tactical pants

You get a call on the way to the office and your boss says he needs you in Dubuque on the next flight.


If you’re not there, the deal won’t get done, and you’ll have to stand tall before The Man.

As a vet, you remember how your cammies held everything for a patrol — from bottled water to extra gloves to a couple of spare mags. So why would it be any different in civilian life?

Today’s tactical pants borrow from the utility of military versions with civilian-worthy styling that doesn’t scream “SEAL wannabe!” while still delivering the storage and durability those issued trousers were known for during service. They can hold another AR mag and a bottle of water or two, but since your “business trip” no longer entails kicking in doors and grabbing tangos, those pockets now serve a far more pedestrian purpose.

So you’re on the clock, you don’t have time to pack a bag. Can your tactical pants pick up the slack and help you make that crucial meeting two states away?

Here’s a basic loadout that’ll get you through a couple of days in front of a client.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
Who needs an overnight bag when you have a sturdy pair of tactical pants? Go ahead, be a TSA nightmare! (Photo: We Are The Mighty)

Think you can’t fit that into your TacPants? Think again…

1. Skivvies are essential

Think about it folks, who wants to face down a big business deal with skanky set of drawers? Success demands feeling fresh, and that requires a extra set of skivvies to deal with sweaty “subjects.”

2. Batten down the button-down

Rolling on an unannounced trip usually means planes, trains, and automobiles. And when you finally arrive at the destination, you’re probably going to look like a soup sandwich.

So go-ahead, pack that fancy button-down to turn heads — there’s room for that.

3. Don those Dockers

Sure, we all love our tactical pants — heck, that’s what got you to your destination ready to roll, right?

But sometimes those civilian types might think you’re from Delta Team 6 come to snatch bin Laden if you’re sporting pants that feature pockets for extra pistol mags. So bring those Dockers to the party, you’ve got room for them!

4. Prepare for after hours

The client dug your pitch and signed on the dotted line. What better way to celebrate your victory than with a couple of beers out on the town with your new business partners?

But those nights can get cold on the road, and any former trooper worth his salt is going to pack some snivel gear for when the sun goes down and the temps drop. Fortunately, you still have plenty of room to pack your pants with fleece.

5. Don’t forget fresh breath

All the other gear is worthless if you’re sporting bad breath and low-reg grooming. Would gunny flame spray you if you sauntered up to formation with a 5 o’clock shadow? Then you can probably figure that the deal won’t get sealed if you’re rolling in looking like a college puke who spent last night at a Chi O mixer.

Cellphone, schmellphone — stash that toothpaste and razor right up front and make sure you’re as fresh as a boot in the squad bay for that all-important pitch.

Sure, it’s pretty unlikely you won’t have time to zip home and pack a duffel for that FRAGO from your boss. But isn’t it nice to know that the folks who’re designing the street-legal version of today’s combat gear have your back — with a fashion-forward place to stow all your gear and still dress for success?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Indian Navy suddenly became a major power

The Indian Navy has quietly become one of the most powerful navies in the world, and it’s still on the upswing. You might be surprised, thinking to yourself, “how did the land of the peace-loving Mahatma Gandhi become a major military power?”


Truth is, the Indian Air Force has long been a power in South Asia. Not only have they improved on Russian-era jets, but they’ve also built their own jets and helicopters. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has also become a major power. It has operated aircraft carriers continuously since 1961, a streak second only to the United States Navy. Not even the vaunted Royal Navy can match that (and no, the HMS Ocean doesn’t count).

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
The largest and the first indigenously-built, 40,000-ton aircraft carrier (IAC) named INS Vikrant is undocked on June 10, 2015. (Photo from Indian Navy)

But one of the biggest areas in which India is advancing is in submarines. The nation’s success is built upon a tradition of very advanced sub-operations. India is one of six countries to have operated a nuclear-powered submarine. In fact, they quietly commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant just last year.

Related: This is what would happen if China and India went to war

The Indians aren’t stopping there. While SSBNs are important to establishing a survivable deterrent, India also needs to protect those subs or to take the fight to an enemy navy far from shore. According to NDTV.com, India is now pursuing plans to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort
India’s first nuclear sub, the Charlie-class SSGN, dubbed the INS Chakra. (U.S. Navy photo)

India already has some experience with nuclear attack submarines. The Indian Navy leased a Charlie-class, nuclear-powered, cruise-missile submarine from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, called INS Chakra. Recently, India acquired a more modern Akula-class, nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia, naming it INS Chakra II.

Outside of the announced plans to build them, India has not released details about this new class of nuclear submarines. That said, the development of the Arihant shows that it may not be a design to be taken lightly. Watch a video about the expansion of the Indian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine force below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v1ka7DkEdg
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35’s abysmal readiness rate is raising some questions

The US military’s F-35 Joint Strike Force program may be in trouble due to its abysmal mission readiness rates, according to a report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

POGO’s report is based on a chart from the Joint Program Office’s Integrated Test Force showing that the 23-aircraft test fleet had a “fully mission capable” rate of 8.7% in June 2019 — an improvement over its May 2019 mission-capable rate of 4.7%. The average rate was just 11% for December 2018 through June 2019.

The F-35 program has been plagued with problems; loss of cabin pressure and aircraft control and serious issues in both hot and cold conditions are just a few of the challenges facing the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system.


Such low rates can typically be attributed to a lack of spare parts or one of the many previously reported problems. The POGO report specifically points to issues with the aircraft’s Distributed Aperture System, which warns F-35 pilots of incoming missiles. While the aircraft can still fly without the system being fully functional, it’s a necessary component in combat.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

33rd Fighter Wing F-35As taxi down the flightline at Volk Field.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

The Lightning II test fleet is actually performing far worse than the full F-35 fleet, but even that rate is less than ideal — it was only 27% fully mission capable between May and December 2018, according to Flight Global.

In October 2018, then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for 80% mission capability for the F-35, F-22, F-16, and F-18 fleets by September, Defense News reported at the time.

But Air Force Times reported in July 2019 that the Air Force’s overall aircraft mission-capable rate fell eight percentage points from 2012 to 2018, dipping below 70% last year. Col. Bill Maxwell, the chief of the Air Force’s maintenance division, told Air Force Times that any downward trend in readiness is cause for concern but that the overall readiness rate was a “snapshot in time.”

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

Hill Air Force Base F-35A Lightning IIs fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017.

(U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

The Pentagon is set to decide whether to move to full-rate production in October, but given low readiness rates, it is doubtful that testing will be completed by then. According to POGO, a major defense acquisition like the F-35 can’t legally proceed to full-rate production until after testing is completed and a final report is submitted.

The Joint Strike Fighter program declined INSIDER’S request for comment on the POGO report.

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

Military Life

6 activities in the infantry that are more common than combat

People often associate the military with fighting wars, which makes complete sense. The infantry, which is the spearhead of the military, is the primary combat job. So, one might would think infantrymen are in every country upon which the United States is dropping bombs. The truth is: they’re not. In fact, chances are, they’re stuck on a boat, an island, or in a porta-john waiting for the next war to pop off so they can play in the big leagues.

Being in the infantry between wars is a lot like being on a professional sports team that only ever goes to practice. Realistically, the United States has been at war for quite some time, but what people don’t know is that infantry probably aren’t involved in that war.

Here’s what they’re doing instead:


Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

It might be accurate to assess military life as 80% waiting. Hell, most of the time you spend in boot camp is in lines.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)

Waiting

Whether it’s in a line, in the field, or in a barracks room, the infantry is stuck waiting. Always. Waiting. Anthony Swafford, author of Jarhead, truthfully wrote, “…we wait, this is our labor.” If that doesn’t define “peacetime” military life, what does? The fact of the matter is that you’ll spend most of your time waiting for something and no one knows what that something is, not even your command.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

You’ll probably spend more time holding a broom than a rifle, honestly.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Caitlin Brink)

Cleaning

Everyone knows veterans are extremely organized and are good at keeping things clean. That’s because we spend so much of our time cleaning everything that it becomes habit. In the military, you even clean things that can’t be cleaned. In fact, most of what you do is polish turds, considering military barracks (specifically those of the Marine Corps) haven’t been renovated since the day they were built.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

You’ll get used to smoking in your free time.

(Rally Point)

Smoking

This isn’t for everyone, but quite a few people pick up the habit because it’s a great time killer. Remember how we said you spend 80% of your career waiting? Well, if you pick up smoking, you’ll bring that down to 70% and use that other 10% to smoke as you combat the boredom of waiting.

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This will probably be what kills you first.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl Andre Heath)

In a safety stand-down

Whether it’s a three-hour lecture on sexual assault, the importance of wearing a seat belt, or why the desert tortoise is sacred at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (a.k.a. Twentynine Palms), you’re going to sit in the base theater for an entire day listening to one commander “piggy back” off another.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

Don’t worry, there will be porta-johns in-country.

‘Appreciating’ adult films

If you don’t pick up smoking, you might instead find yourself killing time in a porta-john doing this. If you’re at Twentynine Palms during the summer (or in general), you might even challenge yourself to see if you can complete your “mission” before you pass out in the porta-john.

Just to be clear, this will probably be in addition to killing your lungs.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

You’ll probably play a video game where you portray someone doing your job, too.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ash Severe)

Video games

Remember what we said about waiting in a barracks room? This is what you’ll probably do during that time. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a leadership position or if you’re a boot rifleman (if you’re a boot, you should study instead), you’ll be killing time by playing video games. When you’re taking a break from that, you’ll probably be doing #3 or #5 instead.

Just make sure one of the first things you do in your unit is buy a small T.V. and game system or a highly efficient laptop. Even if you go on a combat deployment, you might be able to take it with you to kill time between patrols or other duties.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This future President and First Lady fought with US troops in China

When you think of badass U.S. Presidents, you likely aren’t thinking of Herbert Hoover. In fact, he’s probably very low on your list of presidential badassery, right there with James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and Chester A. Arthur.


But what if you saw him and his wife fighting with the U.S. Army’s 9th Infantry, his wife brandishing a .38 Smith Wesson, to fight Chinese rebels trying to murder tons of foreigners?

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Better start packing heat if you want to be top FLOTUS, Melania. Lou Henry Hoover don’t play.

Before he became President of the United States, Hoover was the general manager for the Chinese Engineering and Mining Corporation. He and his wife lived in China around the turn of the 20th Century and was generally well-regarded by the Chinese for his progressive views regarding their treatment.

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But the Boxer Rebellion soon broke out in 1900, a semi-spiritual effort to rid China of foreigners, often by ridding their heads of their bodies. It spread from sporadic acts of violence against Western influence to a full-on peasant uprising. That’s when the Chinese Empress Dowager Tsu’u Hzi declared war on all foreign nations at the same time.

Good call, lady.

The powers allied against China included France, Germany, the British Empire, the United States, Russia, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Japan, who mobilized a multi-national force (called the Eight-Nation Alliance) to protect foreign interests and recuse the besieged foreign legations and citizens around the country.

The Hoovers were in Tianjin, and they were ready for the Boxers.

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I told you, Lou Henry Hoover does not f*ck around.

For a month, Hoover and his wife – along with the rest of the city – resisted the siege of Tianjin. Future First Lady of the United States, Lou Henry Hoover, defended herself with a Smith Wesson .38 caliber pistol while traveling from the battlefield to the hospital.

Air Force delays moving forward with E-4B Doomsday plane replacement effort

Initially, the Hoovers enlisted the 800 other Westerners and Chinese Christians (also a target of the Boxers) to maintain a defense of the west end of Tianjin. They reinforced the area with bags of grain and sugar while arming U.S. Marines and sailors who happened to be there.

Hoover was known to have rescued Chinese children caught in the crossfire during the street-to-street fighting. Both Hoovers did duty manning the barricades. It’s not known if the Hoovers — devout pacifist Quakers — actually killed anyone, but they did keep the Boxers from doing it.

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Scenes like this don’t happen when there are Hoovers around.

The beginning of the end came as the multinational relief column — including the U.S. Army’s 9th Infantry Regiment, to this day known as the “Manchus” — arrived in Tianjin. Hoover himself led U.S. Marines, along with columns of British, French, and Japanese troops around the city. His knowledge of the area and its terrain was critical to their success there.

Later, biographer David Bruner recalled Mrs. Hoover’s account of her time in his book, Herber Hoover: A Public LifeShe said she “had a splendid time during the Boxer Rebellion and would not have missed it for anything.”

Tianjin was the bloodiest battle of the entire Boxer Rebellion.

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Top-tier special operators of the Cold War worry about modern ‘soft skills’

As the shadow operators of the Cold War reveal more and more about their formerly classified service, they’ve highlighted the wide set of soft skills necessary for finding success as they stared into the eyes of one of the greatest adversaries the U.S. ever faced — and they’re worried that today’s military might not have the same, broad toolkit.


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Soviet tanks disperse protesters in the Soviet Sector of Berlin in 1953. Blending into Cold War Berlin was a must as Soviet forces outnumbered those of the former Allied forces by a massive amount, necessitating that elite operators blend in to the local populace in order to gather intelligence and prepare for combat operations.
(U.S. Army)

 

For former Special Forces soldiers Master Sgt. Robert Charest and Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Stejskal, those skills were needed while they were assigned to West Berlin during the Cold War as part of a top-secret Army unit known as Detachment-A.

“We did everything,” Charest told WATM in an interview, “direct action, guerrilla warfare, unconventional warfare, stay behind, anti-terrorist. These all changed with the situation, year by year, as it happened in Europe.”

The members of Detachment-A, which Stejskal said included roughly 800 people over its 34-year lifespan, from 1956 to 1990, were tasked with monitoring Soviet activities in the city and surrounding areas and slowing or halting a Soviet invasion of the rest of Europe for as long as possible in the case of war.

To do this, the men tailed Soviet operatives; practiced crossing the city in secret, even after the Berlin Wall went up; and practiced digging up caches of secret radio equipment, weapons, and medical supplies that were placed there by the CIA in case war broke out.

While preparing for these missions required a lot of cool-guy, “hard skills,” like SCUBA diving through Soviet canals and shooting enemy role-players in the face and chest, they also required that the men develop “soft skills,” like diplomacy and psychological operations.

A lot of their skills, from using knives and forks the German way and speaking like a Berliner, were learned from Germans and other Europeans recruited into the military under the Lodge Act.

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Everyone is interested in the “sexy” skills, like SCUBA diving, marksmanship, and demolitions, but special operators also have to rely on language and civil affairs skills.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

“One of my favorite quotes,” Stejskal told WATM, “is, the guy talking to the [Commanding Officer] and the guy, he’s a reporter, and he asks the CO what languages he speaks and the CO comes back, ‘Why would I want to learn a foreign language? I’m just going to kill the guy.’ It, kind of, sums up how I feel about the hard-skill people these days.”

“You can only kick doors for so long before you realize that it’s not going to solve the issue,” Stejskal said. “There’s always going to be a door to kick down. So, I think, things like psychological operations are good. Emphasis on intelligence collection, finding out what the problems are, and figuring out how to solve them.”

The intelligence-gathering issue is one that Robert Baer, a former top-CIA case officer in the Middle East, has addressed in his non-fiction books and writings.

Baer talked about the run-up to the September 11th attacks in his book, See No Evil, in 2002 and said:

“As for Islamic fundamentalists in particular, the official view had become that our allies in Europe and the Middle East could fill in the missing pieces. Running our own agents — our own foreign human sources — had become too messy. Agents sometimes misbehaved; they caused ugly diplomatic incidents. Worse, they didn’t fit America’s moral view of the way the world should run.”

In the next paragraph, Baer writes:

In practical terms, the CIA had taken itself out of the business of spying. No wonder we didn’t have a secure source in Hamburg’s mosques to tell us Muhammad Atta, the presumed leader of the hijacking teams on September 11, was recruiting suicide bombers for the biggest attack ever on American soil.

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A civil affairs soldier trains alongside African wildlife students. Civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers specialize in some of the soft skills that were crucial for operators during the Cold War.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Megan Coin)

This isn’t meant to say that the military or the CIA has completely abandoned soft skills or that soft skills could’ve necessarily prevented the 9/11 attacks, but it is to say that men and women who carried the mantle against the Soviets in the Cold War and against Islamic extremists in the 80s and 90s have seen a lapse in the kind of skills they once used to assure victory.

Stejskal specifically mentioned future conflicts while lamenting the loss of soft skills, and he mentioned a new domain where we need experts besides the trigger pullers.

“I think that the next wars are going to be fought as a complete combination of military, civil, and in the cyber arena. I think those are areas that we need to look at.”

So, what would an increase in soft skills look like? More language experts, like those in Special Forces and psyops units but spread further through the force. It would include, like Stejskal mentioned, additional cyber and civil assets. We need to be ready to defend our networks and to rebuild cities after we take them, hopefully addressing the concerns of scared citizens before they grow into an insurgency. But, certainly addressing the issues if an insurgency is already in place.

“If you go to the insurgency in the El Salvador in the 1980s, 1990s, you can see a good resolution for a problem and it wasn’t just military,” he said. “It was us working with the local government, with people and, eventually, with the insurgents to determine what the problems were and find a solution for them. Killing people is not going to solve the problem of why they’re out there in the first place.”

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This pilot landed her shot-up A-10 by pulling cables

On April 7, 2003, three weeks into the Invasion of Iraq and day four of the nine-day Battle of Baghdad, twenty-eight year-old Captain Kim Campbell (callsign “Killer Chick”) of the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron was on her way in from Kuwait on a close air support mission when she got a call for immediate assistance from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division.


The 3rd Infantry was attempting to take the North Baghdad Bridge, which was an essential maneuver for capturing the city and cutting off reinforcements, when they found themselves in a desperate Rebel Guard situation.

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Killer Chick and her hog. (Staff Sgt. Jason Haag, United States Air Force)

Upon receiving the call, Campbell and her A-10 Warthog (no need for “Thunderbolt II” pleasantries here) re-routed and readied the BRRRRT.

“We were originally tasked to target some Iraqi tanks and vehicles in the city that were acting as a command post, but on the way to the target area we received a call from the ground forward air controller or FAC, saying they were taking fire and needed immediate assistance,” she told Women’s History Month Luncheon guests.

With only seconds to identify the enemy location and — friendly troops — in a blazing war zone, she unleashed bullets on the enemy from the 19-foot long GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun strapped to the nose of her A-10, followed by 2.75-inch high-explosive rockets.

She immediately became a target for Iraqi anti-aircraft weapons and she took heavy fire.

Also read: This Warthog pilot will receive the Silver Star 14 years after saving troops in battle

The Warthog’s tail was struck by a missile, impairing both hydraulic systems and sending it spiraling towards the city of Baghdad. Campbell had to react quickly.

She switched the jet into manual reversion (which basically looks like one of those old “Flying Machine” Da Vinci sketches – just a bunch of hand-cranking cables and wires rigged to the flaps and rudders of the aircraft).

She manually wrangled her mighty steed and mechanically regained control like some sort of god d*mn puppet master.

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Yeah. She flew this thing. (Staff Sgt. Jason Haag, United States Air Force)

Heading back to her base in Kuwait, Campbell had the option of ejecting from the aircraft but decided to manually land the A-10 instead, hoping to keep the rig in one piece.

Only twice before this had manual landings like this been attempted: the first time ended with the pilot crashing to his demise, and the second time the pilot had to be rescued by fire crews after the plane broke in half and caught fire…

Related: 6 awesome photos that show A-10 Warthogs landing in Putin’s backyard

Crash recovery teams surrounded the base as Campbell made her descent, but against all odds, she landed her battered up beast.

“I was impressed,” said Lt. Col. Mike Millen, chief of the 355th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group and a fellow A-10 pilot. “Kim landed that jet with no hydraulics better than I land the A-10 every day with all systems operational.”

Despite this near fatal mission, the very next day Campbell was up and running on another rescue mission over Baghdad, completely unfazed by the events that had only just transpired.

“I never really had time to think about the fact that I was going back to Baghdad where just the day before I had escaped a possible shoot down,” she shared. “In my mind, the only thing that I could think about was that I had a job to do. I knew that the search and rescue alert crews were there for me the day before and I was going to do the same for this pilot.”

In honor of her heroic feat, Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross — a medal awarded in support of operations by “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

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