One of the F-35's most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers - We Are The Mighty
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One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
An F-35B using its central lifting fan. Photo: Lockheed Martin


The US Air Force’s push to develop operational flying saucers 60 years ago laid the conceptual groundwork for one of the variants of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, MIT Technology Review reports.

The F-35 comes in three variants, with key mechanical differences for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy – the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C respectively.

Of the three models, the F-35B is the most technologically different.

Unlike the F-35A and F-35C, the Marines needed their variant to be capable of conducting short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.

This request necessitated that the F-35B be given a lifting fan. And, as Desire Francine G. Fedrigo, Ricardo Gobato, Alekssander Gobato note in a paper at the Cornell University Library, the F-35B’s lifting fan has its conceptual roots in flying saucers.

Between 1954 and 1961, the US Air Force spent $10 million attempting to develop a flying saucer that became known as an Avrocar. The Avrocar was a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) saucer that was powered by one giant central fan.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite its seven years of development, the Air Force failed to make the Avrocar into a mission capable vehicle that could potentially replace helicopters.

MIT Technology Review notes that the aircraft was “hot and almost unbearably uncomfortable for the pilot. And it demonstrated various idiosyncrasies such as taking five seconds to turn 90 degrees to the left but 11 seconds to turn the same amount to the right, presumably because of its central rotating fan.”

However, despite the Avrocars’ failings, the technology did point researchers towards the feasibility of developing and embedding a central lift fan turbine within an aircraft for variations of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Air Force

“The concept of a lift fan, driven by a turbojet engine is not dead, and lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender,” Fedrigo notes, adding that the conceptual framework of the Avrocar helped General Electric’s own development of a booster fan propulsion system.

Whereas the Avrocar’s development ultimately failed, though, GE’s “Vertifan” went on to prove the concept of successful lifting fan technology. This in turn lead to a DARPA sponsored development challenge that gave birth to lifting fans being used in the F-35B.

The F-35B was declared ready for combat by the Marine Corps on July 31.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Navy grounds T-45 Goshawk fleet after pilot protests

The navy has instituted an “operational pause” for the entire fleet of one of it’s most important training jets due to problems with its environmental control systems feeding air to pilots.


The Navy announced the grounding April 5, saying it was “in response to concerns raised by T-45C pilots over the potential for physiological episodes.”

Multiple sources tell We Are The Mighty that the grounding was prompted by protests by Navy instructor pilots who were concerned over the effects of the malfunctioning oxygen system in the Goshawk. One source tells WATM that more than 100 instructors “I am safed” themselves — essentially telling the Navy they felt unsafe to fly — en masse at three air bases to force the service into coming up with a solution.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Student pilots prepare to exit a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper)

According to the Navy statement, on March 31, 94 flights were cancelled between Naval Air Stations Kingsville, Meridian and Pensacola due to operational risk management concerns raised by T-45C instructor pilots. Their concerns are over recent physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit that were caused by contamination of the aircraft’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System. Chief of Naval Air Training immediately requested the engineering experts at NAVAIR conduct in-person briefs with the pilots.

The briefs were conducted in Kingsville Monday, then Meridian and Pensacola April 4, the Navy said.

The T-45C Goshawk is a two-seat, single-engine, carrier-capable jet trainer aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps for intermediate and advanced jet training. The T-45 is a derivative of the British Aerospace Hawk and has been in service since 1991. The Navy currently has 197 T-45s in its inventory.

“This issue is my number one safety priority and our team of NAVAIR program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commanders, medical and physiological experts continue to be immersed in this effort working with a sense of urgency to determine all the root causes of [physiological episodes] along multiple lines of effort,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces.

The Navy says it expects to resume flight operations for the Goshawks April 10.

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The ‘Caesarea’ is the most secretive unit in Israeli intelligence – here’s why

American intelligence isn’t the only one who goes around “sheep dipping” its elite military members for clandestine service. The term means taking a military member out of uniform to do work for an intelligence agency, so as not to commit an act of war. The CIA is well-known for doing it, but we now know Israel does, too.

Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, creates some of the best spies in the world. So when they have a really well-placed operative, it doesn’t make sense to risk blowing their cover on a risky, high-profile assignment. That’s where the Caesarea branch comes in.

Caesarea, named for the ancient town (now ruins) in Israel built by King Herod the Great, is one of the most closely guarded areas of Mossad’s inner workings. It was founded in the 1970s by famed Israeli spy Michael Harari and quickly became one of its important operations because the world was a very different place for Israelis back then. 

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
A reception at the home of the State, Zalman Shazar, for the captives from Egypt, 1968. In the photo, from right to left: 
Mike Harari , Wolfgang Lutz and his wife, 
Zalman Shazar and 
Meir Amit.

The main problem was that terrorism was proliferating in the world, which included the kidnapping and murdering Israeli citizens. Mossad and the Israel Defense Forces would rescue them if possible. If not, Caesarea would be the ones to avenge them. Using a specialized task force inside Caesarea called “Kidon” (or “bayonet”), which is made up of former IDF special operators, they would be Israel’s assassination squad. 

With possibly hundreds of spies in place throughout the Arab world, they could easily identify and reconnoiter possible targets. When not actively working on an assassination plan, Caesarea collects information and conducts surveillance on possible enemy targets. Kidon is then sent in to end the threats or enact biblical justice. 

Of course, given the incredibly secretive nature of Mossad and its operatives, not much about the organization can be confirmed beyond the fact that it exists. A number of prominent journalists have written about various targeted killing operations allegedly conducted by Caesarea and Kidon but the sources for those stories are unknown.

It’s alleged that the unit began in the wake of the 1972 Munich Massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists from the group Black September took the Israeli Olympic team hostage at the 1972 Summer Games in West Germany. Mossad Operatives took revenge on the planners and perpetrators of the attack through targeted assassinations. The Israelis dubbed the mission Operation Wrath of God. 

Kidon was also assumed to be involved in the 1997 attempt to kill Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Amman. There, they used a unique poison sprayed into the terror leader’s ear. The operatives were chased down by Meshaal’s bodyguards, who turned them over to Jordanian authorities. 

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Khaled Meshaal in a meeting with Spanish journalists. Wikimedia Commons

In this incident, Meshaal was saved only by the intervention of King Hussein of Jordan, who threatened to withdraw from its peace treaty with Israel unless the Israelis provided the antidote to the poison, which they quickly did. Kidon is also said to have participated in similar targeted killings during the two Palestinian intifadas, which saw massive unrest among Palestinians and numerous terror attacks inside Israel.

Kidon and Caesarea are so secretive, even the domestic Israeli news agency Haaretz describes it as “the Mossad within Mossad.” The secretive nature also lends itself to a number of Israeli and international conspiracy theories, including hiring Monica Lewinsky to embarrass President Bill Clinton and killing Princess Diana. 

The one thing anyone outside Mossad knows is that Kidon exists. And that’s all anyone may ever know for certain.

Featured image: IDF Special Forces soldiers, November 2019, Source: Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit

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Check out an inverted F-35 firing off a missile to test performance under negative G forces

As the F-35 marches closer to full combat readiness, pilots test the jet in ever more challenging environments, most recently by firing a AIM 9x air-to-air missile while flying upside-down.


“This unique missile launch is a situation we don’t expect a pilot to be in very often,” read a release. Firing a missile upside-down is nothing new. Fighters have had this capability for decades, and the stealth F-35 shouldn’t often find itself in a turning fight with adversaries.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo from F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office

But now they know that if they need to fire a missile while experiencing negative G forces and inverted, they can.

“We want to provide the maximum capability of the F-35 to the fleet to get them where they need to be for training and operational use,” said James Shepherd, the flight test engineer for the missile test at Patuxent River Navy Base. “This will ensure we meet our promises to deliver the most advanced fifth generation fighter in the world.”

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This Marine Corporal is helping his fellow vets “cowboy up”

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photos courtesy Semper Fi Fund


For Marine Corporal Alex Monaghan, who retired from the Corps in 2009 after four years as a rifleman during which he deployed twice (once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan), the phrase “boots on the ground” has taken on a far different meaning than those words typically suggest.

That’s because Alex is the first graduate of a brand-new Semper Fi Fund program: Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program, which helps service members learn valuable skills that they could one day leverage to start a business.

In Alex’s case, that skill is making high-quality cowboy boots.

It all began when Alex was considering going on “one of these horse stints,” as he describes it, as part of the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program. While filling out the paperwork, there was a question at the bottom asking, “Are you interested in learning any of these skills?” Among the skills listed were knife-making, silver-engraving, roping … and making cowboy boots.

“It was weird that it was on there,” Alex recalls. “I always wanted to design my own boots. It’s a two-week program in St. Jo, Texas. The days are long—12 hours a day, six days a week—and there’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time. You get a pair of customized boots when you’re done.”

The time may have been short, but Alex was learning from the best: The boot-making program is run by Carlton T. Chappell, a third-generation award-winning bootmaker who started in leathercraft in 1964 and has been recognized as one of the very best bootmakers in the world.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
“It’s pretty neat,” Alex says. “You can’t learn everything in two weeks—Carl is in his 70s or 80s now, and he’s still learning new techniques every day–but it’s interesting. There’s always something new to learn, a new skill to master.”

While making a quality pair of cowboy boots is intricate and artistic work, Alex felt he had something of a head start over his half-dozen or so classmates.

“I did tattoo work for a couple of years,” he explains. “As far as working with machines and stuff, you have this huge thing on the table—you still have to draw out your sketch pattern and sew it up. I felt as if I had some advantage, because I’d been doing something similar to it.”

After finishing the two-week seminar, Alex went on to serve a month-long apprenticeship in Vernon, Texas, with award-winning bootmaker Dew Westover. Dew spent 20 years as a working cowboy, attended Carl’s seminar in 2002 and opened his own boot shop in 2004.

Alex made two pair of boots during his apprenticeship, and now he’s studying business at Texas AM as part of an entrepreneurship for veterans program.

Looking back over the years since he’s left active duty, Alex has seen a number of ups and downs in his own life, but he credits the Semper Fi Fund with helping him get out and get active—and he encourages his fellow veterans to do the same.

“If there are vets who are thinking about these sorts of programs, and they’re itchy or worried about it, I say just give it a try.”

“A lot of vets create a bubble and don’t go out in public,” Alex continues. “I think it’s a great experience—you have buddies to hang out with, you’re pushing yourself to do things that your anxiety or PTSD is preventing you from doing. I do these things, it pushes me to get out and go on the road and deal with people.”

“I would encourage more vets to get out there and find something they enjoy. Whether it’s bike riding or horseback riding or whatever—I’m sure the Semper Fi Fund has something for them.”

To learn more about Alex, the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program and how these types of programs assist our nation’s veterans visit Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program.

 Special thanks to the incredible generosity of one very special family for helping to provide funding for this important program in memory of their brother who wished to remember whose who serve.

We Are The Mighty is teaming up with Semper Fi Fund and comedian Rob Riggle to present the Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic. The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families. Learn more at InVETational.com.

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The US Army’s ‘Tiger Force’ took terror tactics to the Viet Cong

By 1967, the United States was firmly committed to the war in Vietnam. That year saw 485,600 American troops in country. That’s like arming the entire population of Kansas City and moving them into another country.


So yeah, they were invested.

But from the start, the Vietnam War was unlike the previous American wars. There was no real front, the enemy could be anywhere, and most importantly, they didn’t always fight like a conventional army in the mountains, jungles, or rice paddies.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

The Americans were fighting a limited war, trying to keep North Vietnam from infiltrating or taking over the South. They were also using a data-driven (but flawed) campaign of bombing and other operations based on pursuing and exploiting the fears and beliefs of the North Vietnamese.

Enter then-Maj. David Hackworth.

Hackworth was tasked with creating an elite commando unit from the already elite Special Forces long range reconnaissance patrol units. The mission of what he would call Tiger Force was more than just intelligence gathering. As he put it, he wanted to “out-guerrilla the guerrillas.”

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

In 1967, Hackworth was out of the unit, and it was assigned to Vietnam’s Central Highlands, where it conducted a six-month long terror campaign in the Song Ve Valley and as part of Operation Wheeler. The mission was so brutal and so deep in enemy territory, members of the Tiger Force did not expect to survive.

“We didn’t expect to live. Nobody out there with any brains expected to live,” then-Sgt. William Doyle told the Telegraph. “The way to live is to kill because you don’t have to worry about anybody who’s dead.”

In a war where the U.S. military relied on body counts as a measure of success, Tiger Force was ready to do its part. Hackworth once noted, “You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.”

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

Tiger Force went into villages the Viet Cong relied on for support and shelter in the Spring and Fall of 1967 and drove the villagers out of their homes using brute force. They allegedly used some disturbing methods to achieve those ends.

The Toledo Blade’s Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss, and Joe Mahr (right) won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for their eight months of investigation and reporting on the alleged war crimes committed by Tiger Force.

“Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed — their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”

The three journalists say the Army commandos, far from friendly areas and left without support, routinely violated the laws of armed conflict, killed unarmed civilians, dropped grenades on women and children, and covered up the incidents during the official Army investigations.

Some members of the Tiger Force today aren’t even disputing the allegations. Doyle, along with others, claims to have lost count of how many people they killed.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

”I’ve seen atrocities in Vietnam that make Tiger Force look like Sunday school,” Doyle told the New York Times. “Everybody I killed, I killed to survive. They make Tiger Force out to be an atrocity. Well, that’s almost a compliment. Because nobody will understand the evil I’ve seen.”

The Army investigated the allegations for four and a half years but no charges were ever filed and the men of tiger Force became some of the most decorated in the Vietnam War. They were even awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.

For its part, the Army told the Toledo Blade that, barring any new evidence coming to light, the investigations would remain closed, even after comparing the newspaper’s information with their official records.

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18 more photos from the hellish campaign that was Iwo Jima

Seventy-two years ago Marines raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most famous photos of World War II, but the battle actually raged from Feb. 19 to Mar. 26. Here are 18 other photos from the battle where almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and soldiers lost their lives:


1. The Marines landed on Iwo Jima in waves on tracked boats.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

2. The water was thick with the Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen of the landing force.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: National Archives and Records

3. At the beaches, the Marines poured onto the black, volcanic sand under Japanese fire.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

4. Japanese artillery and mortars took out a lot of the heavy equipment as it got bogged down in the sand.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Robert M. Warren

5. The Navy used its big guns to destroy the lethal Japanese artillery where possible and to break open bunkers firing on U.S. troops.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Navy

6. This duel between the heavy guns played out on the island as constant explosions.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

7. The Marines would advance when the fire was relatively light, trying to take Japanese positions before another artillery barrage.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

8. When the fire was particularly heavy, they’d burrow into the sand for cover.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: National Park Service

9. Additional forces surged onto the beach as the first waves made their way inland. The reinforcements were made necessary by the stunning Marine losses. One 900-man regiment lost 750 Marines in just 5 hours.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

10. Throughout the fighting up the beaches, Mount Suribachi dominated the landscape. The Marines knew it would be a tough fortress to capture.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

11. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen continued to land materials at the secure beachheads, giving the Marines more ammunition and other supplies.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Coast Guard Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Queenan

12. Moving up the mountain, the Marines had to use heavy firepower to stop Japanese counterattacks.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

13. The Marines busted bunker after bunker and cleared trench after trench, but the march up Mount Suribachi was dangerous and long.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Government

14. Flamethrower tanks helped clear out the defending Japanese.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps Mark Kaufman

15. The Marines moved into the Japanese trenches that they had just knocked the enemy out of.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps

16. The Japanese bunkers had protected both the Japanese infantry and the big guns that were firing on the Marines.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: National Park Service

17. When the Marines first took the summit, they flew an American flag they had carried up. When it was spotted by Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, Forrestal asked to keep it.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery

18. However, the Marines were set on keeping the symbol of their brothers’ sacrifice. Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson ordered a group of Marines to raise a second, larger flag and recover the original for the Corps.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Navy

The photo by Joe Rosenthal of the second flag raising became an icon of the Pacific campaign. The Marine Corps selected the image for the Marine Corps War Memorial.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Britain’s Royal Navy is testing new robotic submarine tech in deep water trials

Not since the year 1066 have the British home islands been successfully invaded by an outside power. One of the reasons for that is the United Kingdom’s unfailing, stout supply of able British seamen. But the UK may no longer be dependent on the bravery of those men. Instead, the Royal Navy might be filled with robotic, autonomous submarines to rule the high seas. 

In February 2021, the government of the United Kingdom announced that it will be accepting submissions for sensors, computers, and other technology to outfit its new crewless fleet of submarines.

Formally referred to as the Extra Large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV), the robot submarines are still in the very early experimental phases, but critical to its development is its ability to move and see as it traverses the depths of the world’s oceans. 

The first trial submarine in the series of experiments will be 30 feet long and displace about 10 tons. The technology being developed for the new robot fleet will be tested in the water, in a real-world setting. 

Not much else is known about the future of this fleet, either by those who will be submitting potential technology or by the Royal Navy itself. One of the objectives, says Popular Science, is that the UK’s navy will be determining its own future needs as well as the potential abilities and limitations of underwater autonomous vehicles.   

There are at least two companies already using their tech to build similar submarines. Boeing’s Echo Seeker is one example as is the UK’s home-built Manta sub. But the proposed electronic sensors and other components will be installed on the Royal Navy’s existing XLUUV (made by MSubs, Ltd.), tested in the sea trials, and then removed. 

For companies looking to develop their technology in this area, it’s a chance to build, develop, and test their wares in real-world environments under the auspices of a real military purpose. The Royal Navy, while testing the equipment, will not be signing contracts to buy any of it. 

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
The British Royal Navy, Type 42 Class Destroyer, HMS NOTTINGHAM

“The main aim of this activity is to help the Royal Navy shape future requirements and design future capabilities and concepts of operation,” the Ministry of Defence said in an announcement, “whilst providing innovators in industry and academia the opportunity to develop and test technology aligned to this future capability.”

The call for technology is not limited to defense contractors or corporations. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is opening it to anyone who has technical expertise in underwater sensors. Tech startups, individual innovators, and even universities are welcome to propose technology for the new robot submarines. 

The United Kingdom’s engineers will be on hand to fix any external technology to the XLUUV and integrate it into the submarine’s operations. 

While the future defenses and nuclear capabilities of the Royal Navy may one day be in the hands of robotics underwater vehicles, there are some functions that will still require the UK’s cadre of brave sailors. These are missions like underwater intelligence gathering, tracking enemy submarines, and the myriad other things submariners do while deployed for months on end, things they just can’t talk about. 

But crewless subs operating unseen in the depths around America’s greatest ally may give enemies pause to wonder what’s down there – and how long they can stay hidden from view.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The way big ships are launched looks completely insane

Getting a new ship into the water is, presumably, the most important part of building a seafaring vessel. But not all ships are created equal — some are simply massive. They all need to get in the water somehow… can’t we just toss that bad boy in there?

Yes. The answer is yes, we can.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

Traditionally, shipbuilders construct a ship-launching slipway — this is, essentially, a ramp that will slide a ship of any size into the water at full force. There are four ways of going about this:


One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

1. Gravitational

This is something many of us have seen before. A ship slides sideways into the water on a ramp. That ramp has either been made slick with oil or wax, uses steel rollers, or detaches with the ship and is later recovered. The oldest ship-launching method was powered by gravity and is known as longitudinal oiled slideway launching. It uses minimal equipment, but makes heavy use of oil, which can pollute the water.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

…it’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.

2. Floating-out

Ships built in drydocks are typically launched this way. Using locks, the drydock is filled with water and the ship simply floats out when launched. This is a much less violent way of launching a ship than throwing it over the side of the dock, but it’s also way less cool. Think about that — you could just chuck the Disney Fantasy directly into the Caribbean…

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

At least the boat was launched, right?

3. Mechanical

Why throw a ship into the water when you can place it there, like a reasonable, civilized person? For those less interested in a cool launch and more interested in keeping their smaller craft from sinking, a mechanical assist is a great option. Large ships, of course, can’t just be picked up and slowly moved, so this method’s for the lesser vessels.

Keep in mind, however, that introducing any additional element to launching a ship opens more areas for potential chaos.

www.youtube.com

4. Air bags

This method is the safest for any size ship. The newest form of launching, employed primarily by Asian shipbuilders, uses these hardcore rubber airbags to slowly put a new ship to sea. It’s a safe way for smaller shipyards that may not have access to a slideway to get crafts in the water.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NASA’s newest spacecraft is ready to launch

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:48 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2, 2019, for the launch of the company’s uncrewed Demo-1 flight, which will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station. The launch, as well as other activities leading up to the launch, will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.


The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at approximately 5:55 a.m. Sunday, March 3, 2019.

This will be the first uncrewed flight test of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

A SpaceX, Falcon 9 rocket lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The flight test also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight, which will fly NASA astronauts to the space station, is targeted to launch in July 2019.

Following each flight, NASA will review performance data to ensure each upcoming mission is as safe as possible. After completion of all test flights, NASA will continue its review of the systems and flight data for certification ahead of the start of regular crewed flights to the space station.

Full Demo-1 coverage is as follows. All times are EST:

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019:

  • (no earlier than) 6 p.m. – Post-flight readiness review briefing at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
    • Astronaut Office representative

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019:

  • TBD – Pre-launch briefing at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • SpaceX representative
    • Astronaut Office representative

Saturday, March 2, 2019:

  • 2 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 2:48 a.m. liftoff
  • 5 a.m. – Post-launch news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • Steve Stich, NASA launch manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • SpaceX representative
    • Astronaut Office representative

Sunday, March 3, 2019:

  • 3:30 a.m. – Rendezvous and docking coverage
  • 8:45 a.m. – Hatch opening coverage
  • 10:30 a.m. – Station crew welcoming ceremony

Friday, March 8, 2019:

  • 12:15 a.m. – Hatch closing coverage begins
  • 2:30 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins
  • 7:30 a.m. – Deorbit and landing coverage
  • TBD – Post-landing briefing on NASA TV, location TBD, with the following representatives:
    • Steve Stich, deputy manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • International Space Station Program representative
    • SpaceX representative
    • Astronaut Office representative

The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed, but more information about media accreditation is available by emailing ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.

For more information on event coverage, got to:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

Articles

Upgrades to the CH-47 Chinook will allow it to serve for 100 years

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner


The Army plans to fly its Vietnam-era workhorse CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter for 100 years by continuously upgrading the platform through a series of ongoing technological adjustments designed to improve lift, weight, avionics and cargo handling, among other things.

The Army goal is to allow the helicopter, which was first produced in the early 1960s, to serve all the way into the 2060s – allowing the aircraft service life to span an entire century.

“Our primary goal is maintaining the CH-47F’s relevance to the warfighter,” Lt. Col. Ricard Bratt said in a special statement to Scout Warrior.

The latest model, called the Chinook F helicopter, represents the latest iteration of technological advancement in what is a long and distinguished history for the workhorse cargo aircraft, often tasked with delivering food, troops and supplies at high altitudes in mountainous Afghan terrain.

Able to travel at speeds up to 170 knots, the Chinook has a range of 400 nautical miles and can reach altitudes greater than 18,000-feet. Its high-altitude performance capability has been a substantial enabling factor in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.

The aircraft is 52-feet long, 18-feet high and able to take off with 50,000 pounds. The helicopter can fly with a loaded weight of 26,000 pounds. In addition, the aircraft can mount at least three machine guns; one from each window and another from the back cargo opening.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman

The Chinook F is in the process of receiving a number of enhancements to its digital cockpit called the Common Avionics Architecture System, or CAAS, such improved avionics, digital displays, Line Replacement Units, navigational technology, multi-mode radios, software and emerging systems referred to as pilot-vehicle interface. Pilot-vehicle interface involves improved computing technology where faster processor and new software are able to better organize and display information to the crew, allowing them to make informed decisions faster.

By 2018, the Army plans to have a pure fleet of 473 F-model Chinooks. By 2021, the Army plans to field a new “Block 2” upgraded Chinook F which will increase the aircraft’s ability to function in what’s called “high-hot” conditions of 6,000 feet/95-degrees Fahrenheit where lower air pressure makes it more difficult to operate and maneuver a helicopter.

The Block 2 Chinook will also be engineered to accommodate a larger take-off maximum weight of 54,000 pounds, allowing it to sling-load the Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle underneath. This provides the Army with what it calls a “mounted maneuver” capability wherein it can reposition vehicles and other key combat-relevant assets around the battlefield in a tactically-significant manner without need to drive on roads. This will be particularly helpful in places such as Afghanistan where mountainous terrain and lacking infrastructure can make combat necessary movements much more challenged.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
A Chinook lands at Forward Operating Base Kala Gush. Photo: US Army Maj. Christopher Thomas

The Chinook F is also in the process of getting new rotorblades engineered with composites and other materials designed to give the helicopter an additional 1,500 pounds of lift capability, Army officials explained.

Another key upgrade to the helicopter is a technology called Cargo-On/Off-Loading-System, or COOLS, which places rollers on the floor of the airframe designed to quickly on and off-load pallets of equipment and supplies.  This technology also has the added benefit of increasing ballistic protection on the helicopter by better protecting it from small arms fire.

“The COOLS system has been added to the current production configuration and continues to be retrofitted to the existing F fleet. We have completed approximately 50-percent of the retrofit efforts. Since its fielding we made very minor design changes to improve maintainability.

The helicopter will also get improved gun-mounts and crew chief seating, along with a new vibration control system.

“We are finalizing design efforts on an improved vibration control system that, in testing, has produced significant reduction in vibration levels in the cockpit area,” Bratt said.

The F-model includes an automated flight system enabling the aircraft to fly and avoid obstacles in the event that a pilot is injured.

Additional adjustments include the use of a more monolithic airframe engineered to replace many of the rivets build into the aircraft, Army officials said.

“The program is looking at some significant airframe improvements like incorporating the nose and aft sections of the MH-47G (Special Operations Variant) on to the CH-47F. In addition, the program office has conducted an in depth structural analysis with the intent of setting the stage for increased growth capacity of the airframe for future upgrades,” Bratt said.

The CH-47 F program is also planning to add Conditioned-Based Maintenance to the aircraft – small, portable diagnostic devices, which enable aircraft engineers to better predict maintenance needs and potential mechanical failures, service officials said.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
A military policeman pulls security as other soldiers load a CH-47 during non-combatant evacuation training. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Thomas Scaggs)

Protecting Helicopters

The CIRCM system is an improved, lighter-weight version of Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, called ATIRCM, — a high-tech laser jammer that is able to thwart guided-missile attacks on helicopters by using an infrared sensor designed to track an approaching missile. The system fires a multiband heat laser to intercept the missile and throw it off course,

ATIRCM has been fielded now on helicopters over Iraq and Afghanistan. CIRCM, its replacement, lowers the weight of the system and therefore brings with it the opportunity to deploy this kind of laser counter-measure across a wider portion of the fleet.

Chinooks are also equipped with a combat-proven protective technology called Common Missile Warning System, or CMWS; this uses an ultraviolet sensor to locate approaching enemy fire before sending out a flare to divert the incoming fire from its course.

Finally, over the years there have been several efforts to engineer a small-arms detection system designed to locate the source of incoming enemy small-arms fire to better protect the aircraft and crew.

Articles

The US military’s first digital camo was a weird one

As the US military entered the 21st century, its uniforms went digital. The Desert Combat Uniform and Battle Dress Uniform, which were worn by all branches, were replaced with new service-specific pixelated uniforms. The Marine Corps adopted MARPAT, the Army got UCP (ACU is the uniform, UCP is the pattern), the Air Force went to a digital tiger stripe on their ABU, and the Navy adopted the often hated NWU Type I. While these digital camouflage patterns came to represent the military at the turn of the century and into the Global War on Terror, they were not the first digital camos.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Only the Marines still wear their digital camouflage, MARPAT (USMC)

A major battlefield technology that evolved during the Cold War was night vision. Although relatively primitive at the time, infrared optics allowed a soldier to easily pick out enemy troops in the dark. In 1967, the Army decided to create a new type of camouflage to defeat Soviet night optical/observation devices.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
William Wright from Natick chats with a 3CR soldier wearing a DNC parka at Fort Bliss, 1976 (U.S. Army)

In the midst of the Cold War, night vision technology advanced rapidly. As a result, solving the problem of how to beat it proved to be quite a challenge to the Clothing Equipment and Materials Engineering Laboratory at Natick, Massachusetts. Testing continued throughout the 70s with emphasis placed on the arid desert environment, where warm-bodied troops stood out in the cold nights like sore thumbs under NODs.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
Even modern uniforms provide only minimal concealment from NODs (USMC)

In the early 1980s, the military finally introduced the Desert Night Camouflage pattern. It featured a base color over-dyed with two screens to form a two-color grid pattern with irregular blots. With its odd camouflage, DNC supposedly lived up to its name and was optimized for concealing troops from enemy NODs in the desert. The pattern was used on a parka and trousers intended to be worn at night over the Desert Battle Dress Uniform, also known as 6-color desert or chocolate chips.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
A Marine wearing DNC, second from the right (USMC)

It took nearly a decade for DNC to be put to the test in combat. Beginning in 1990, soldiers, Marines, and Special Forces were issued DNC for use in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Initially, the uniform was well-received because it kept the troops warm during the cold desert nights. However, the camouflage itself was outdated by then and no longer effective against the more advanced NODs being fielded in the late 20th century. In fact, one Marine scout sniper section reported that DNC was more easily visible than the DBDU or winter overwhites when viewed through AN/PVS-5 night-vision goggles.

One of the F-35’s most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers
A DNC parka sold as a vintage parka jacket (Urban Outfitters)

Following this failure, DNC was discontinued in 1991. Still, the camouflage was historical for the military. It was the first pattern designed to defeat artificial imaging technology, the first pattern designed specifically for nighttime use, and of course, the first digital camo. Today, the military uses infrared and thermal treatments on uniforms to reduce their signature when viewed through NODs. Although DNC was ultimately a military failure, the unusual pattern has seen a resurgence in popularity on the private market in both outdoor and fashion circles.

Articles

Today in military history: ‘Swamp Fox’ victory in South Carolina

On Aug. 15, 1780, American Colonial militia leader Francis Marion continued to frustrate the British in South Carolina after an overwhelming win at Port’s Ferry.

Francis Marion learned guerrilla warfare as a militia lieutenant in a war against the Cherokee Indians in 1761. When the Revolutionary War began, Marion was named a captain and given command of an infantry unit. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and fought hard, but he was there when the battle of Camden ended organized resistance in South Carolina.

Rather than sit out the rest of the war, he enlisted a force of a few dozen men known as Marion’s Partisans and led them in harassing operations against the British. The Partisans scattered British and Loyalist forces on multiple occasions and once rescued 150 Patriot prisoners. Multiple British task forces to capture or kill Marion and the Partisans failed.

Called the “Swamp Fox” for his ability to hit the British and disappear without a trace into the South Carolina swamps, Marion was the only senior officer to escape the British capture of Charleston (and he went on to inspire Mel Gibson’s character in the 2000 film The Patriot).

Marion took command of a force of irregular troops who would hit British forces and terrorize Loyalists. He and his men fought for no pay and supplied their own horses, arms, and food.

The Swamp Fox and his irregular cavalry of 250 completely routed a loyalist force on the Pee Dee River at Port’s Ferry.

After General Horatio Gates sent Marion away from the main body of the Continental Army, Marion launched a strategic campaign against all British and Tory forces in the colony. Port’s Ferry was an important river crossing for the Swamp Fox’s forces.

Marion’s campaign was so successful that support for the British in South Carolina was largely restricted and Lt. Col. Francis Marion  was never captured.

Featured Image: Mel Gibson in The Patriot (Columbia Pictures)

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