Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Pilots from the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, recently received the certification they need to fly the MH-139 helicopter, scheduled to replace the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey.

Maj. Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington, an Air Force civilian pilot, completed the five-week course on the AW-139, Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s commercial version of the helicopter, according to a news release.

Roycroft and Arrington both received their “type certification,” a Federal Aviation Administration qualification that requires specialized training for a specific aircraft, the service said. They earned the certification in Whippany, New Jersey, on July 29, 2019.


The FAA type rating is a standard qualification to become mission-ready on an airframe, but pilots will receive further Air Force-specific training for the MH-139.

“Test pilots and initial cadre are qualified to fly both the AW-139 and MH-139 after having received this training,” Roycroft told Military.com in a statement.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A SASEMAR AW-139 during a helihoisting exercise.

“This puts our team one step closer to flight testing the new aircraft when production is completed,” said Roycroft, the MH-139 lead test pilot, in the release. “Ultimately, it puts the Air Force one step closer to delivery of a much-needed increase in capability.”

The 413th has kept busy: Last month, pilots from the unit conducted the first test flight of the HH-60W combat rescue helicopter, meant to replace the service’s current HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet.

Additionally, maintenance airmen from the 413th and Air Force Global Strike Command have completed a technician course for the AW-139/MH-139 to familiarize themselves on new systems unique to the aircraft, the release states.

“Every engineer, pilot and [special missions aviator] is dedicated to ensur[ing] the UH-1N community receives the most capable replacement aircraft to defend our nation’s assets,” Roycroft said.

In September 2018, the service picked Boeing Co. to build the replacement for its UH-1N Huey helicopter at a cost of approximately .38 billion.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A UH-1N Huey helicopter.

The award contract stipulates approximately 5 million for the first four MH-139 helicopters, manufactured in partnership with Leonardo-Finmeccanica, and includes equipment integration.

The service said receiving the helicopter will mark “the first time in recent history” that the Air Force will have a rotary-wing aircraft “not previously used in another branch of the military,” according to the release.

The first MH-139 aircraft delivery to the 413th is expected in late November 2019.

The UH-1Ns — some of which entered the Air Force’s inventory in 1970 — will continue to support five commands and numerous missions, including operational support airlift, test support and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile security support, until the replacements are ready.

The Air Force plans to purchase 84 MH-139 helicopters, along with maintenance and support equipment, over the next decade.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Shia hits the fan: Understanding Iran’s role in the Middle East

The Islamic Republic of Iran was America’s original nemesis in the Middle East before Saddam’s Iraq stole the spotlight from 1990-2003. (Saddam and the Iranians, by the way, fought a bloody 8-year war against each other in the 1980s.) A casual observer might assume that the Islamic Republic of Iran must be best buddies with the infamous Islamic State (ISIS)…but no, they share a mutual hatred of each other.


Yeah, it’s all a bit complicated and messy, so strap in, and we’ll clear things up a bit.

Iran is a theocracy, meaning the country is governed by religious law. Rather than a single strongman dictator, Iran is ruled by a group of religious clerics who control the country’s “elected” leaders like former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (remember him?) Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 after religious fundamentalists overthrew the secular government of Shah Reza Pahlevi.

The Shah was a dictator, albeit one less brutal than the current regime, who came to power in 1954 with the help of the American CIA. It was a bad look for Uncle Sam, and many Iranians never forgot it.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

American hostages in Iran following the Islamist takeover of 1979.

(Source: Associated Press)

The Iranians are not Arabs like their neighbors to the west. Rather, they are Persians. Instead of Arabic, they speak a dialect of Persian called Farsi. The Iranians are predominantly Shia Muslims, whereas most Arabs are Sunni Muslims.

Theologically, Shias and Sunnis are akin to Protestants and Catholics in the Western world. 85-90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni and, while the world’s Shia are concentrated in Iran, there are Shia minorities throughout the Arab world. Iraq is unique because it has both an Arab majority and a Shia majority, giving Iran a prime opportunity for heavy influence there (check the news…)

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are Sunni jihadist groups, whereas Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and many of the large militias in Iraq are Shia.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

(Source: Pew Research Center)

So the Iranians are Persians and not Arabs, and their leaders are fundamentalist Muslims but from the opposite branch of Islam than bin Laden and the Islamic State.

So what’s Iran’s game plan? In a nutshell, Iran wants to preserve and spread its “Islamic revolution” by boxing out the Sunni Arabs and supporting Shia groups across the Middle East (they also work with certain Sunni groups like Hamas.)

To dominate the Middle East, Iran’s leaders want to exploit the “Shia Crescent,” a network of Shia populations stretching from the Persian Gulf to Lebanon. Iran’s message to these Shia populations is “Big Brother Iran is here to save you from the Sunnis, the Israelis, and the Americans.”

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

(Source: Geographic Intelligence Services)

You can think of the fight against ISIS as World War II, with ISIS filling the role of Nazi Germany. During WWII, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union set aside their rivalries to defeat a common threat. The Defeat-ISIS campaign was similar in that Iran’s Shia coalition shared a mutual enemy with the American/Sunni alliance, even though the two sides weren’t officially partners.

But now, like in 1945, the old rivalries are back in play once again. On one side, Iran leads Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and other Shia factions in the region. Opposing them are the Sunni Arab countries aligned with the United States.

Fear and mistrust of Iran runs deep in countries like Saudi Arabia- so deep, in fact, that Saudi Arabia has reportedly made secret arrangements with Israel to counter the Iranian threat (that’s, uh, a plot twist…to put it mildly.) Iraq, with its Shia majority but close and complicated relationship with the United States, remains stuck in a tug-of-war between the rival coalitions.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Alleged secret plan for Israeli aircraft to use Saudi airspace to strike Iran. Saudi Arabia publicly denies this.

(Source: Rick Francona)

Iran was once the great ancient empire of Persia, and there is more to modern Iran than its leaders’ ambitions. Iran has a population of over 80 million, and resentment toward the regime is widespread. Strict religious tyranny and a weak economy cause frequent protests which the Iranian regime suppresses with ruthless violence. It’s unclear if this unrest will eventually put the regime’s power in serious jeopardy.

Iran’s economic problems are driven in part by economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe. These sanctions, in turn, are imposed partly as a result of Iran’s nuclear program- a program which, the regime insists, is strictly for domestic energy production. Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons is concerning because an atomic Iran could lead its Sunni rivals to pursue their own nuclear weapons.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Iranian protesters in 2009.

(Source: Getty Images)

Further Iranian vs. American bloodshed seems to have been averted in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, but violence between the two countries is nothing new.

The infamous 1983 Beirut bombing, which killed 241 U.S. servicemen, was perpetrated by an Iranian suicide bomber and 1988’s “Operation Praying Mantis” pitted the U.S. Navy against the Iranian Navy in the largest American naval combat operation since WWII. The whole region remains a Game of Thrones-tier snake pit of conflicting loyalties, religious conflict, and political scheming.

Hopefully now, however, you better understand what led to the U.S. government ordering a drone strike on that guy who looked like Sean Connery.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Iranian Quds Force general Qasem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike in January 2020.

(Source: Getty Images)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s everything you need to know about tattoo removal

Whether you’re considering removing your ink or are simply curious, there’s a lot to know about the tattoo-removal process.

INSIDER spoke to some experts to answer some of the most common questions people have about getting a tattoo taken off.


Where do you go to get a tattoo removed?

For your health, safety, and optimal results, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you go to a dermatologist for your tattoo removal.

Removals are typically done using lasers that the FDA states should be used by or under the supervision of healthcare professionals. Per the FDA, visiting a dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal is likely your best bet.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

(Photo by Genesis Castillo)

Although some tattoo shops and spas offer laser tattoo-removal services, only dermatologists have medical training in this area, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). And so, you may run a greater risk of experiencing negative side effects if your tattoo remover does not have appropriate medical training, per the AAD.

How long does it take to fully remove a tattoo?

Removing a tattoo will almost always take more than one visit to the removal specialist — sometimes it could even take dozens of sessions.

To figure out how many visits you’d need to get a tattoo removed, you should first consult a professional so they can review your ink and medical history, said Dr. Amy Derick, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Derick Dermatology, a Chicago-based practice that specializes in tattoo removal.

“Number of treatments vary based on many factors including: age of tattoo, number of colors, size, etc. For picosecond-wavelength tattoo removal — which is considered a gold standard for tattoo removal — most treatments will require seven to 10 treatments six to eight weeks apart,” she told INSIDER.

“The [total] number of treatments [also] depends on your body’s ability to eliminate ink from the skin. This varies for everyone,” added Dr. Debra Jaliman is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, whose practice offers tattoo removal as a specialty.

Per Jailman, generally, the more colors in your tattoo, the more treatments you will need. In addition, these sessions must be spaced out (typically a few weeks apart), so the process can take quite some time.

How much does it cost to get a tattoo removed?

Removing a tattoo can be costly depending on how many sessions you’ll end up needing. In general, a single removal session can cost around to 0, but the price may vary depending on your tattoo and your location.

To estimate how many treatments you may require for your specific tattoo and skin type, you may want to reference tools like the Kirby-Desai scale. Just keep in mind that the best and most accurate way to figure out how many sessions you’ll need is to consult a professional.

Does getting a tattoo removed hurt?

How much the removal process hurts oftentimes depends on your individual pain tolerance — just like when you first got the tattoo you’re having removed.

“Getting a tattoo is generally more painful than removing the tattoo. Uncomfortable — and there is a certain level of pain — but it’s bearable. It feels like a small rubber band is snapping on your skin,” Jailman told INSIDER.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

(Photo by Matheus Ferrero)

That said, some areas may be more painful to have ink removed from than others. “On certain bony areas, like the wrists, ribs, and ankles, tattoo removal is more painful than on other areas of the body,” Derick added.

Fortunately, there are some ways the process can be made to be even less uncomfortable, said Jailman. “The area is numbed with a topical numbing cream and a small chilling machine that blows cold air on the skin helps to keep pain at bay,” she added.

Are there any risks that come with getting a tattoo removed?

As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with tattoo removal.

“Individuals who have light-sensitive seizures, vitiligo, history of poor healing, or an active rash or injury to the area may not be an ideal candidate for laser,” Derick told INSIDER. She said these individuals may be prone to experiencing more tattoo-removal-related side effects.

She also said that all individuals (especially those with darker skin tones) are at risk of experiencing hypopigmentation after laser tattoo removal. “This is when the patient’s normal skin pigment is removed by the laser process, resulting in white-looking scarring that is permanent. This is also known as a ghosting effect,” Derick explained.

Jailman also pointed out that those who have sensitive skin and who are prone to allergic reactions may experience some issues when they have their ink removed. “You could have an allergic reaction as the laser breaks down the pigments in the tattoo,” she added.

Some may also be at risk of experiencing more prominent scarring. “If you are prone to keloids (a type of raised scar), having a tattoo removed could be a problem. The scars from the area treated may definitely develop into a keloid,” Jailman also told INSIDER.

Can all tattoos be removed?

Most of the time a tattoo can be removed — but with certain inks, it may not be possible to entirely remove your design.

“A true black-ink tattoo is by far the easiest to treat. In some cases, red ink can resolve easily as well,” Dr. Will Kirby, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer for aesthetic-dermatology group LaserAway. previously told INSIDER.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

(Photo by Ivan Verrengia)

But, he said that colors like maroon, aqua, and teal can be resistant to laser removal. He also noted that some shades like yellow, orange, and brown may not be removed by laser treatment at all.

Do you have to do any special sort of aftercare for a tattoo that’s in the process of being removed?

Derick told INSIDER that, just like with your initial tattoo, when you undergo removal you’re creating an open wound that requires careful treatment to ensure you heal properly and avoid getting an infection.

“After a session, the technician bandages the area just like the patient will be expected to do at home for generally about one week or until the area is healed,” said Derick. “The patient changes this bandage every 24 hours after washing the area with a mild soap. Keeping the area bandaged keeps the tattoo out of the sun and allows for effective healing of the treated skin.”

Those removing a tattoo can also expect to experience a bit of bruising, blistering, and scabbing, said Jailman. She said you should avoid picking scabs, cover blistering skin, and use ointment as recommended by your doctor.

If you’re experiencing any reactions that seem abnormal to you (ie: you have a fever or your skin is severely swelling), you’ll want to reach out to a medical professional.

Do tattoo-removal creams work?

Some special creams and ointments claim to help fade a tattoo by bleaching or peeling away layers of your skin to remove the ink, per Today. But there’s a reason these creams sound too good to be true — they are.

At this time, the FDA hasn’t “approved or cleared any do-it-yourself tattoo removal ointments and creams that you can buy online.” Furthermore, the FDA warns that these creams can cause adverse side effects including scarring, rashes, and burning.

Can you really use salt to remove a tattoo?

You may have heard some people talking about using salt and water solutions to scrub away tattoos in a dated method called salabrasion — but this is potentially a very dangerous strategy, according to the AAD.

Scraping off the top layers of your skin and using salt to try to rid yourself of unwanted tattoos can lead to pain, scarring, and a serious infection, per the AAD.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what equipment the Navy uses to clear mines

Naval mine countermeasures have not gotten a lot of attention in the press, which is strange considering that the job is crucial. Of the last four US Navy ships damaged by hostile action, three were by mines — the other was an Oct. 2000 terrorist attack on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).


In 1988, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) suffered severe damage from an Iranian mine, which put the vessel out of action for over a year. During Operation Desert Storm, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and the Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LPH 10) were both damaged by mines.

So, what keeps today’s Navy safe from deadly mines?

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

USS Scout (MCM 8), an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, in Los Angeles for Fleet Week.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Harkins)

11 Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships

The Navy built 14 of these vessels, starting with USS Avenger (MCM 1), which was commissioned in 1987. Prior to that, the bulk of the Navy’s minesweeper force consisted primarily of World War II-era vessels. The other 13 Avenger-class vessels entered service within the following seven years. Eleven of these ships are still in service. USS Avenger and USS Defender (MCM 2) have been decommissioned, and one vessel, USS Guardian (MCM 5), ran aground and was a total loss.

These vessels have a top speed of 14 knots and a crew of 84 officers and enlisted. Their primary systems for mine warfare are remote operated vehicles that can descend hundreds of feet below the ocean to neutralize mines.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A MH-53 Sea Dragon lowers its mine-hunting sonar.

(US Navy photo by MCSN William Carlisle)

30 MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters

The Navy operates 30 of these heavy-lift helicopters that were acquired in the 1980s. While they bear a superficial resemblance to the CH-53E Super Stallion, there are some big differences. Most notable is the fact that they have larger sponsons to hold more fuel. They can also carry additional fuel tanks in the cargo compartment.

The MH-53E has a maximum range of 885 miles and a top speed of 172 miles per hour. These helicopters tow a mine-sweeping sled and can operate from any aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship. These helicopters are slated to retire in 2025.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A MH-60S Seahawk helicopter hovers while a technician drops down to handle a mine.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Devin Wray)

256 MH-60S Seahawk multirole helicopters

This helicopter will assume the airborne mine-countermeasures role among the many other missions it carries out when the Sea Dragons retire. This versatile helicopter is responsible for vertical replenishment, combat search-and-rescue missions, anti-surface warfare, medical evacuation, and supporting special operations forces. They can operate from any carrier, amphibious vessel, or surface combatant.

This helicopter has a top speed of 180 knots and a maximum range of 245 nautical miles. While the 256 MH-60S helicopters purchased by the Navy offer a lot of versatility, the range and endurance are a significant step down from the Sea Dragon.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, is intended to help replace the Avenger mine countermeasures ships.

(U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Kaleb R. Staples)

12 Littoral Combat Ships

So far, the Navy has commissioned 12 littoral combat ships. These ships were primarily intended to replace the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, but also being given double duty in also replacing the Avenger-class mine countermeasures vessels. Their mine-clearing capability is based on a mission package that is centered around the use of MH-60S helicopters and remote-operated vehicles.

The littoral combat ship has been controversial due to numerous breakdowns and a smattering of other issues, and the production run is being cut short in favor of new guided-missile frigates.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Meet the Navy’s ‘Swiss army knife’

The rate of machinist’s mate has a long and proud history in the United States Navy. Established in 1880 as finisher, the rate changed names a couple of times before being settled as machinist’s mate in 1904.

According to the Navy CyberSpace website on enlisted jobs, “Machinist’s mates (non-nuclear) operate, maintain, and repair (organizational and intermediate level) ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, and outside machinery, such as: steering engine, hoisting machinery, food preparation equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, windlasses, elevators, and laundry equipment; operate and maintain (organizational and intermediate level) marine boilers, pumps, forced draft blowers, and heat exchangers; perform tests, transfers, and inventory of lubricating oils, fuels, and water; maintain records and reports; and generate and stow industrial gases.”

With such a wide array of skills and responsibilities, the machinist’s mates in George Washington’s engineering department prove the value and versatility of the rate to the ship and to the Navy as a whole.


Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Huizar samples liquid nitrogen in the cryogenics shop aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, October 14, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Krystofer Belknap)

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Machinist’s Mate Fireman Gopika Mayell checks a steam usage reading in one of the flight deck catapult rooms aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, June 14, 2012.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class William Pittman)

“The main ways that machinist’s mates and engineering department support naval aviation is through the catapult shop and [oxygen and nitrogen] shop,” said Huizar.

“The catapult shop makes sure that all of the machinery is up to date and fully functioning in order to operate the catapult that launch the jets. As for [oxygen and nitrogen], we create aviator’s breathing oxygen and we also have a cryogenic plant that creates liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen. The liquid oxygen is used as aviator’s breathing oxygen and the liquid nitrogen is used as gaseous nitrogen for the airplane tires because it expands and contracts less at various altitudes.”

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Duane Hilumeyer, left; Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Kexian Li, center; and Machinist’s Mate Fireman Jacob Tylisz close a valve to maintain accumulator steam pressure on a catapult aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Sept. 24, 2014.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr.)

In order to convert each gas into liquid form, the air expansion engine lowers the temperature of the air to reach negative boiling points, separating oxygen and nitrogen from air.

The air in the expansion engine is frozen to negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit to separate nitrogen, and negative 297 degrees Fahrenheit to separate oxygen.

Air separation is vital to the mission of George Washington, regardless of where the ship finds herself in her life cycle.

According to navy.mil, “O2N2 Plants Bring Life to Airwing Pilot,” O2N2 plants provide oxygen to the aviators, nitrogen to the air wing, and gas forms of both for use throughout the ship.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Robert Howard, front, Machinist’s Mate Fireman Austin Martin, center, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Glen Spitnale, test a package conveyor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Aug. 5, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brandon Amodeo performs maintenance on a pressure regulator in emergency diesel generator room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sept. 16, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS Seaman Apprentice Trent P. Hawkins)

The current refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) environment enables them to put their skills to the test in. Sailors from engineering department, such as Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Larissa Pruitt, auxiliary division leading petty officer, have provided significant support to accomplishing major ship milestones while in RCOH.

“The machinist’s mate is like the Swiss army knife of the Navy,” said Pruitt. “Since being in the shipyards, we have repaired all four aircraft elevators, started the five-year catapult inspection, restored fire pumps to support Ready to Flood operations, and refurbished the air conditioner and refrigeration units.”

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Teran Vo, left, and Fireman Billy Price perform maintenance on a deck edge door track in the hangar bay aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Nov. 4, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

As a rate that has been around for roughly 140 years, machinist’s mates will continue to make an impact throughout the surface fleet and the naval aviation community. The hard work of the machinist’s mates ensures that George Washington will have a successful redelivery to the fleet.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This common weapon was so ‘pernicious’ that Catholicism banned it

In 1096, Pope Urban II took a good hard look at this new “crossbow” thing and gave it all of the nopes. No Christians were to use it in any battle against a fellow Christian on the punishment of excommunication and eternal damnation of the soul. But the weapon that would act as the precursor to the rifle was simply too valuable to leave on a shelf.


Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A figure depicting a crossbowman who helped execute Saint Sebastian in the later 15th Century.

(Gun Powder Ma, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Crossbows were already an old weapon when European knights first ran into them in the 900s. Ancient Europeans had used similar weapons, but crossbow-like designs had fallen out of favor in Europe by the year 500 A.D., and few Europeans would’ve recognized them before their resurgence in the late 900s and 1000s.

But French use, as well as use by Eastern nations who had never stopped using the weapon, brought it back into the lexicon of European warfare.

And Western knights did not like it. Their armor protected them from most weapons they would face with the exception of the longbow, a weapon that took years to learn and decades to master. But crossbows could slice right through the armor at greater range than even a longbow, and shooters could be trained in hours or days.

The French were the ones who brought the crossbow back into European warfare. The English had a huge advantage when it came to bowmen, especially longbowmen, and France and England fought often. But while crossbow shooters could fire at greater ranges and with less training than soldiers equipped with a longbow, the weapon did have disadvantages.

Crossbows fire only two rounds per minute while good archers with longbows could fire 10. And crossbow units needed supporting staff and spare parts that weren’t necessary with traditional archers. They were also more susceptible to weather damage because it was harder to remove and replace their sensitive strings.

Still, the advantages outweighed the problems, and units across Europe adopted the new weapon. Mercenary units recruited and trained skilled crossbowmen and sold their services. For a few years, kings largely tried to follow the ban on using crossbows against Christian foes, and Pope Innocent II continued the ban in 1139 after ascending to the position of Pope.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Saint Sebastian was martyred by archers, reportedly at least one of which was using a crossbow.

(Hans Baldung, public domain)

But it couldn’t last. Kings used the weapons against pagans and Muslims, but then had to leave the men behind while fighting against each other in Europe. By the early 1200s, they were once again common in European combat. Crossbowmen played a crucial role for Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1238.

In fact, just a year later, Pope Gregory IV used mounted crossbowmen against the Lombard League, an alliance of European kingdoms that were all Christian. Yeah, the allure of crossbow power was so strong that a pope employed them against Christian forces.

Crossbows would continue to play a role in combat until after the 15th Century when advances in gunpowder slowly rendered them obsolete. First, advanced cannons were able to break up their formations from further away than even the crossbowmen could fire. And muskets and rifles eventually filled the role that crossbowmen once had.

Of course, the church didn’t love firearms either. It declared all black powder weapons to be daemonic, but armies quickly embraced them anyway.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force will clear out hundreds of ‘stupid’ regulations

At an Air Force Association breakfast March 30, 2018, the Secretary of the Air Force talked up the service’s progress in ridding the service of outdated rules and procedures that burden airmen.

When she took office in May 2017, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ordered a two-year review of the service’s blizzard of instructions, policies, and rules with the overall goal of eliminating the unnecessary ones. Since then, the Air Force has gotten rid of about 100 of the total of about 1,400 instructions, she said.


As an example, Wilson cited a regulation that would have required her as Air Force secretary to sign off on how an obstacle course could be constructed on a base.

“We have an instruction on how to build an obstacle course,” Wilson said. “My guess is, if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out.”

Wilson said the work continues to whittle down the Air Force’s body of rules and regulations.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter
Tech. Sgt. Joe Lovanisci climbs the inverted rope challenge.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

“We are prioritizing the ones that are outdated and actually track them every month,” Wilson said. “The biggest challenge we have been facing is in personnel and operations” as the Air Force presses to push decision-making down to the lowest levels to save time and money.

In addition to eliminating red tape, the Air Force is also intent on teaching airmen to act on their own initiative, she said.

“We don’t expect in future conflicts to have the exquisite command, control and communication we’ve had over the last 27 years of combat” as potential adversaries become more adept at jamming, Wilson said.

“We will need airmen to take what they know and take mission orders and execute the mission using their best judgment for the circumstances at the time. If we expect them to work that way in wartime, then we need to treat them that way in peacetime,” she said.

MIGHTY CULTURE

OP-ED: This is what it takes to lead the Navy during war

In thinking about who to select as the Navy’s next generation of senior leadership, the Nation should be fully engaged, particularly with the increasing potential of war at sea against a peer competitor. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral John M. Richardson, who wrote an article for Proceedings Magazine in June 2016 entitled, “Read, Write, Fight,” understands this. So too does Admiral Scott H. Swift, former Commander, Pacific Fleet, who suggested a way to better prepare for a fight in his March 2018 Proceedings piece, “Fleet Problems Offer Opportunities.” Given the possibility of high-end warfare facing the nation now for the first time since the end of the Cold War, picking the right leaders will be key. The question is: Is the right leadership being picked today? Is there a different, better way to consider who will lead the Navy in war?


Since 1974, every Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has come to the office with the following credentials: command of a carrier strike group (CSG); command of a fleet, and; an operational, four-star command, either Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), Atlantic Fleet/U.S. Fleet Forces Command (LANTFLT/FFC) or Naval Forces, Europe (NAVEUR). The one exception to this formula is that submariners do not command CSGs: Instead, they command submarine groups at the one-star level.

In the last 44 years, there have been only three anomalies: Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda, the 25th CNO never commanded a fleet. Then, in 1996, Admiral Jay L. Johnson, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) who had been scheduled to command Naval Forces, Europe, instead became the 26th CNO when Admiral Boorda took his own life. The current CNO, Admiral Richardson, is the third anomaly in that he has neither commanded a fleet nor had an operational four-star command.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Richardson.

Not surprisingly, there are considered reasons in this successive, operational flag, command rule: First, the Navy exists to support the operational element of the fleet – the so-called, “pointy end of the stick.” It is believed that the leader of an organization whose mission is to “conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea,” should be a person who is closely acquainted with firing shots in anger, from ensign to four stars. Second, perhaps of even greater import, the CNO sits in the “tank,” with the other Joint Chiefs. It is imperative that he or she knows the score out in the various combatant commands, and this requires genuine joint expertise attained at a high level. This sort of experience comes in places such as the forward fleets, and especially to those who command PACFLT, NAVEUR, or FFC.

This is not to say that the formula works perfectly. By the turn of the century, Surface Warfare Officers dominated a majority of significant leadership positions in the Navy, and held the office of the CNO, without pause, between 2000 and 2011. It was also this generation of leaders which presided over the diminution of the entire surface community. Still, this may all say more about either the struggle against increasing budget restrictions or a misplaced spirit of selflessness on the part of these CNOs than it does about a faulty selection approach. Nor is this to say that those who were anomalous did not perform admirably as CNO. That is for others to decide, in time.

Either way, the questions are these: How does an officer arrive at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in the first place? What are the implications which arise when there are sustained and dramatic perturbations at the flag-level? And finally, what does (or should) the future hold in preparing the Navy to face a new era of potential conflict at sea?

A process defined

Sustained superior performance is essential, but beyond that, a careful choreography occurs in every community beginning at first command if not before. Selection to flag is seldom, if ever, accidental or unanticipated. This management becomes even more meticulous once flag officers are selected. At that point, there is a determination made as to who will be groomed for the three and four-star levels, and who will serve in other, still important flag positions. To effectively regulate this complex daisy-chain, a detailed, long-term, name-to-job interaction occurs between all of the warfare communities and the Navy’s (and ultimately government’s) top leadership.

There are really only a few, key, operational flag positions available, and they are earmarked for those bound for the top. This is important as the timing and positioning associated with getting the right officers through those wickets is not a matter of chance. Here is one example: In the surface community, presume that eight officers make flag each year. Of these eight, only four will go on to command a CSG. Of those four, only two will deploy. These deployers are those who have been selected for upward movement, and this is easily observed in a historical review of those who rose higher. Likewise, while there are any number of important three-star commands, they are in not all equal regarding carrying an officer to the office of the CNO.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) left,the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) transit the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes)

Moreover, it is necessary to mention the one outlier in this job pecking order; Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP). A remarkable number of four-star admirals, some of whom achieved senior operational command, have passed through the CNP’s office, including Admirals Leon A. Edney, Ronald J. Zlatoper, John C. Harvey, Mark E. Ferguson III, and former CNOs Jeremy Boorda and James D. Watkins. Evidently, excelling in this position imparts a unique cachet, though it is neither joint nor operational.

The point here is that delicate timing and positioning are required to marshal those deemed to be most deserving to the top. Though off and on-ramps may be built into the process to allow for surprises and opportunities, the whole process is quite fragile. In recent years, this fragility has been demonstrated through two events; The “Fat Leonard” scandal, and the aftermath of the two warship collisions in Seventh Fleet.

Gutting the operational side in the Pacific

As every sailor knows, there are two sides to any chain-of-command – operational and administrative. The administrative side of the equation is responsible for the manning, training and equipping of units provided to the operational side of the chain. The operational side employs these “all-up rounds” in carrying out the nation’s business at sea.

Following the collisions in Seventh Fleet in the summer of 2017, justice was meted out on behalf of the Navy, through the agency of a Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA), Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr, Chief of Naval Reactors, appointed by the CNO, Admiral Richardson. Ultimately in this effort, the entire operational chain-of-command in the Pacific, from the ships’ officers of the deck, to CIC watch officers, to the command master chiefs, to the executive officers, to the commanding officers, and then up through their destroyer squadron commander, task force commander, fleet commander and all the way to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was implicated and then either actually or effectively fired. It was a scorched earth approach never before seen in the Navy, and it appeared to be aimed at not only justice but at sending a message to the American people.

Though the punishment handed out to Commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF), Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden may seem to have been appropriate, particularly in view of the fact that he was the responsible administrative agent charged to provide fully ready ships to the operational commanders, the fact is that he was only a small part of the responsible administrative chain-of-command. Actually, CNSF relied on a universe of other administrative commands to carry out its mission effectively. For example, the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) was responsible for providing schools and personnel (both of which were in demonstrated to be in short supply), and the Office of the CNO was responsible for the provision of funding. U.S. Fleet Forces Command was the “parent” command of CNSF, just as Pacific Fleet was the parent of Seventh Fleet. So, while it may have been desirable, for whatever reason, to create a firewall between the operational commands and those administrative commands responsible for providing the necessary wherewithal to the fleet, it also meant that significant responsibility was evaded by nearly half the chain-of-command, top-to-bottom.

The long reach of Fat Leonard

A crisis was created when Admiral Scott H. Swift, then Commander, Pacific Fleet, was implicated in the Seventh Fleet collisions. Admiral Swift had long been expected to become the next Commander, Indo-Pacific Command, and his removal from the field meant that the Navy was in danger of losing control of its most historic and treasured combatant command to the Air Force. The solution hit upon was to send Admiral Phil Davidson, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, to command the U.S. Pacific Command. Not only was Admiral Davidson one of the few viable candidates with sufficient credential and seniority, but he was arriving fresh from completion of the Comprehensive Review (CR) of the collisions, and was unsullied by that disaster. Though that may have been good news regarding saving Pacific Command for the Navy, Admiral Davidson’s last and only tour in the Pacific was a single one as a commander, serving as a staff officer at Pacific Fleet headquarters. Whether a conscious part of the decision or not, his lack of Pacific-experience meant that he was beyond the potential taint of Fat Leonard.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Admiral Phil Davidson.

Numerically speaking, only a few flag officers have been caught in the Fat Leonard scandal. Nevertheless, there have been many more who were frozen in place while the investigation continued. This “freezing” caused some of these officers to miss their planned wickets, resulting in an extraordinary upset in the carefully mapped-out flag progression. As for the collision aftermath, it is impossible to know the exact impacts of those events on the “daisy-chain.” Certainly, the loss of ADM Swift and the shifting of ADM Davidson are significant.

Regardless, all of this begs the question of who may be the next CNO? Watchers had long considered Admiral Davidson to be a leading candidate for the position, and his shift to INDO/PACOM has stirred debate regarding who might be a viable relief for Admiral Richardson.

Based on the historical template, the next CNO likely will be one of the following:

  • Commander, U.S Pacific Fleet: Admiral John G. Aquilino
  • Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces: Admiral Christopher W. Grady
  • Commander, U.S Naval Forces, Europe: Admiral James G. Foggo III
  • Vice Chief of Naval Operations: Admiral William F. Moran

Each of these officers has all of the historical credentials of operational command and joint experience at the highest level, with the exception of Admiral Moran. However, Admiral Moran merits inclusion in that he would not be the first former Chief of Naval Personnel to become the CNO, though he has not had either fleet nor four-star operational command. Moreover, the current CNO, Admiral Richardson likewise arrived at the job with credentials other than the classic operational command/joint ones which have been common. In other words, a new template may have been set.

Reset the grid for war

If the Nation is moving from a “Profound Peace” into a period of “Great-Power Competition,” then every effort must be bent to ensure that America is fully preparing to meet what may well be an existential challenge. If, as suggested by Captain Dale Rielage, in his May, 2018, USNI General Prize-winning essay, “How We Lost the Great Pacific War,” the United States were to be defeated in a conflict with China – a conflict which would most certainly be primarily a fight at sea – the United States would, for the first time since World War II lose primary control of the sea lines of communication, in the vital Pacific. China would assume dominance of at least Asia and become a prime hegemon all the way to the Arabian Gulf.

In thinking about who the Nation selects for our Navy’s senior leader, it is understood that he or she must be fully and unselfishly engaged in preparing the Fleet for war at sea against peer competitors. What are the characteristics and experiences of peace-time Navy leaders (beyond the aforementioned operational positions)? Are these characteristics the same as those which might be sought leading into a major conflict? History suggests that they are different. One needs only consider the last, great war-at-sea. Many of the Navy’s leaders at the start of World War II were cast aside in favor of those who could bring fire to the enemy. For many of those officers, including Admirals Earnest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey, it is fair to say that they might never have arrived at flag rank based were they measured against today’s standards. To win that war no one cared who was charming or polished or politically astute or properly connected. The question had nothing to do with who had attained a “zero-defects” record. It had everything to do with who could and would defeat the enemy.

More recently, there have been other “reaches” undertaken to identify the right person for the job. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower reached deep to select Admiral Arleigh Burke as the 15th CNO. At the time of his appointment, Burke was still a rear admiral (two-star). He was promoted two grades and over the heads of many flags of far greater seniority. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon selected Admiral Elmo Zumwalt as the 19th CNO for very specific reasons and aims, despite his lack of “traditional” credentials.

Today, more than ever, modern war is a “come-as-you-are” affair. There will be no slow, years-long buildup allowed. Economies and modern weapon systems suggest that a real fight will ramp up to criticality almost immediately and that wide-spread, cannot-be-quickly-replaced/repaired damage will be done to the fleets in a matter of months, if not weeks. In other words, what the Navy has, regarding leadership and wherewithal, on day one, is the best that it may have throughout the conflict. The point is this: The right leadership needs to be found and selected, now.

Prove your readiness

Cast a wide net, and seek leaders who are determined to resist the self-interested pressures of outside agencies, prioritizing lethality in the Navy above whatever else may be prized. Who in today’s ranks is best equipped to lead the Navy in waging a high-end war?

An answer may lie in Admiral Swift’s March 2018 piece, “Fleet Problems Offer Opportunities.” Deeper opportunities may be offered to the Navy in this Fleet Problem concept. If, as he suggests in his piece, the new Fleet Problem is designed to do more than check a box, before the deployment of carrier strike groups…if Pacific Fleet is determined to truly test leadership in simulations which approach the real world…if officers will be challenged to do more than just go through the motions…if failure is an option, is this not a chance to really put officers, at a variety of levels, to the real test?

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Ships from Carrier Strike Group 8 in the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julia A. Casper)

And this test need not only apply to strike group commanders, and their respective warfare commanders. A variety of officers, all at different places in their careers, can be tested in this crucible. Is there any reason that an upward-bound submariner could not take command of the Maritime Operations Center (MOC) for the duration of the game? Stand up an exercise Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). Stand up an exercise Joint Forces Command. Is there any reason for an officer under consideration for fleet command could not play fleet commander during the game?

Admiral Swift offers a key point in all of this: “We have to guard against the natural byproduct of this training reality, which is an aversion to the risk of failure that is associated with learning at the leading edge of knowledge. We had to convey to the operational leaders that failure during the Fleet Problem was not just tolerated but expected. Without pushing our operational art to the point of failure, learning would be subdued and subtle, not stark and compelling. High-velocity learning happens at the leading edge of knowledge, not at its core, and certainly not at its trailing edge.”

Learning yes, but also testing. Officers at every level can be regularly assigned to the game, and throughout their careers, to test whether they possess skills beyond administrative? The Navy needs lions for leadership in war. The Navy also needs able administrators. Certainly, there are officers in the ranks who are both.

The Navy regularly pulls officers out of their employment to serve in a wide variety of boards. Is there any reason to think that this proposal would not be infinitely more valuable to the service, both in developing the entire officer corps for real, war-time thinking at the operational and strategic level? Let officers merit their promotion beyond unit-level by demonstrating the skill necessary to fully grasp that which is imperative in fighting a war…and that which is chaff.

The next CNO has, in all likelihood already been selected. The process of selection and vetting in long and complex and it is unrealistic to think that ADM Richardson approaches the end of his tenure without a relief already having been selected. The question is, and should be, this: Is the next CNO equipped to lead in war-time?

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

Articles

4 times enlisted troops stole planes from the flightline

It must be so tempting, staring down an awesome piece of military hardware… just sitting there, waiting for someone to take it for a spin. The maintainers know everything about their plane, tank, or other vehicles, right down to the last detail.


Imagine anyone’s surprise when one of these vehicles just up and leaves when its not supposed to. Sounds unlikely, but it’s happened a lot more than one might think.

1. Sergeant Paul Meyer gets sick of his wife, steals a C-130

On May 23, 1969, Meyer, a U.S. Air Force crew chief stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England, took off in a C-130E, and very quickly crashed into the English Channel. His body was not found, but he was assumed to have died on impact.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

The USAF investigation showed Sgt. Meyer was “under a considerable amount of stress” in the days leading up to the theft. He was married just eight weeks before his deployment to England and his wife constantly badgered him to come home – because she was being sued by her ex-husband.

On top of his marriage difficulties, he failed to pass for promotion despite allegedly being better qualified than his peers who did get promoted. Meyer was grounded and restricted to barracks for being arrested in an alcohol-related incident.

The same night he was arrested, he called the fuels unit on the base to fuel up his C-130. He then took an officer’s flight clothes and GOV, then drove to the flightline.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter
A C-130E at REF Mildenhall in 1984.

He did not crash on takeoff. He climbed, turned north, and made his way over the Channel. He called his wife over the radio until he lost control and crashed.

2. An Army PFC takes a Huey to the White House

Army Pfc. Robert K. Preston washed out of Army flight school in 1973. The 20-year-old was apparently determined to get under the rotors of an Army aircraft – by any means necessary. On Feb. 17, 1974, Preston stole a Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter from Fort Meade, Maryland, and flew it down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, stopping at a trailer park along the way.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter
Screenshot of NBC’s coverage of the incident.

Preston, who held a civilian pilot’s license for fixed wing aircraft, completed 24 weeks of Army aviation training before washing out for “deficiency in the instrument phase.” Yet, Maryland State Police pilots who chased Preston called him “one hell of a pilot.”

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter
Preston (center).

The helicopter buzzed the Washington Monument and the White House itself before touching down amid a hail of Secret Service buckshot. Preston was injured in the gunfire, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,400.

3. A USAF Mechanic steals an F-86 Sabre, regrets nothing

When the F-86 Sabre appeared in the Air Force fleet in the 1950s, pilots needed a year of training to fly it. Airman 1st Class George Johnson, however, took the initiative. On Sept. 20, 1956, he hopped in the cockpit of a Sabre and went for a ride.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter
Airman George Johnson in a T-33 in late 1955. (George R. Johnson)

Johnson was a mechanic with dreams of flying. Unfortunately, a burned retina from staring at an eclipse meant a plane like the F-86 was forever out of reach. As part of a routine functional check one day, he asked the tower to clear the runway for a high-speed taxi test, which was actually a thing.

Except when it reached the right speed, Johnson took off with the plane – literally. But he had no way down. No chute. No experience. The officers of the day had to talk Johnson down. Johnson was court-martialed and fined almost $200, sentenced to six months confinement and loss of rank to Airman Basic.

He later served the rest of his enlistment.

4. A Marine becomes a mechanic – then steals an A-4M Skyhawk

Lance Cpl. Howard Foote couldn’t become a Marine Corps pilot because he got the bends during a glider test. He had to settle for becoming a mechanic.

But the dream of flying a USMC fighter never left him. One day in 198 he gassed up a Skyhawk and took it for a joyride.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter


Foote landed his plane much easier than anyone else – he was an accomplished pilot already. But he still served time in the brig for his chicanery.

BONUS: U.S. Army soldier steals a tank, goes on a rampage

In 1990, a California veteran named Shawn Nelson lost a medical malpractice suit to a local hospital, who counter-sued for thousands. His wife filed for divorce in 1991. Both parents died of cancer in 1992. His brother became hooked on meth.

By 1995, his business went defunct and he lost everything and was facing homelessness. In April of that year, his live-in girlfriend died of a drug overdose.

On May 17, 1995, Nelson calmly drove to a California National Guard armory in San Diego and forced his way into a 57-ton M60A3 Patton tank. Though unarmed, Nelson still drove the tank off the base.

For 23 minutes, he led police on a slow-speed chase through local residential neighborhoods as he rampaged over utility poles, hydrants, and at least 25 cars.
Eventually, the tank got caught on the median of State Route 163, where police ordered Nelson to leave the vehicle. When he instead tried to free the tank, the police shot him. Nelson died from his wounds, the only fatality.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Investigators release details of deadly WC-130 crash

The Air Force WC-130H aircraft veered to the left on the runway, almost rolling into the grass before the crew was able to get it airborne.

The pilot quickly made the decision to return to the Georgia airfield they had just departed. The pilot directed the shutdown of engine one, operating on the remaining three.

“Coming back,” the pilot repeated five times over the next 30 seconds.

Investigators said that within those few seconds the pilot improperly applied nine more degrees with the left rudder, “which resulted in a subsequent skid below three-engine minimum controllable airspeed, a left-wing stall, and the [mishap aircraft’s] departure from controlled flight.”


No other “meaningful direction” was given to the crew other than an order to “brace” just before impact.

The plane was airborne for two minutes overall before it crashed down into Georgia State Highway 21 roughly 1.5 miles northeast of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, killing all aboard.

A newly released mishap report determined that the WC-130 crash that claimed the lives of nine members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard in 2018 was largely due to pilot error. But troubling engine and maintenance issues documented in the aging aircraft raise more questions about the cause of the catastrophic May 2, 2018 mishap.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

C-130J Hercules and WC-130J Hercules fly in formation during an Operation Surge Capacity exercise April, 5, 2014, over the Mississippi Gulf Coast region.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicholas Monteleone)

The WC-130, which belonged to the 156th Airlift Wing, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, had recurring issues with its first engine, according to the Aircraft Accident Investigation

Board Report released Nov. 9, 2018. The issues were documented a month before the aircraft’s final flight, as well as the day of the deadly crash.

The report, authored by Brig. Gen. John C. Millard, ultimately concluded that the aircraft crashed due to pilot error.

The crew should have more closely followed emergency procedure and called for immediate action after discovering one of the aircraft’s engines was malfunctioning, Millard said. Instead, the malfunction led to loss of control of the plane, causing it to crash, the report found.

Experts who spoke with Military.com, however, pointed out that lapses in maintenance deeply disadvantaged the crew even before the aircraft left the runway. The plane, which had been in service more than 50 years, was on its final journey to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona when it went down.

“The engine malfunction is most definitely large factor and I would say the catalyst for the events that unfolded,” said an Air Force instructor pilot who flies a mobility aircraft and agreed to speak to Military.com on background about the report’s findings. “It appears the [report] narrowed in on a particular piece of the engine (the valve housing assembly) which had intermittent issues with [revolutions per minute] over its lifetime with multiple different engines.”

Nine died in the crash: Maj. José R. Román Rosado, the pilot; Maj. Carlos Pérez Serra, the navigator; 1st Lt. David Albandoz, a co-pilot; Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini, a mechanic; Master Sgt. Mario Braña, a flight engineer; Master Sgt. Eric Circuns, loadmaster; Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred, crew member; Master Sgt. Víctor Colón, crew member; and Senior Airman Roberto Espada, crew member.

The Air Force ordered an immediate investigation into the accident. Days later, after Military Times published an in-depth report showing that military aviation accidents have increased over the last five years, the service directed its wing commanders to hold a one-day pause in order to conduct a safety review with airmen, assessing trends and criteria that may have led to the recent rash of crashes.

Unsolved maintenance problems

The newly released investigation shows that the plane was cleared for flight even though the recorded oscillation data of the plane’s outermost left engine did not match its intended performance.

The WC-130 made its ferry flight from Puerto Rico to Savannah, Georgia, on April 9, 2018. And the flight crew operating the [mishap aircraft] “experienced an RPM issue with engine one, and reported the incident for troubleshooting and repair,” the report said.

While the crew found a fix, maintainers struggled to replicate both the in-flight operations and the solution the pilots used to better understand the what went wrong. They found they couldn’t recreate the crew’s original solution, which was to switch “on the propeller governor control to mechanical governing,” to see if that rectified the issue, it said.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

A U.S. Air Force Lockheed C-130E-LM Hercules (s/n 64-0510) from the 198th Airlift Squadron, 156th Airlift Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, prepares to take off from Muniz ANGB, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 29, 2004.

According to post-mishap interviews, during a second maintenance engine run, the “mishap maintainers observed engine one produced 99% revolutions per minute,” the report said.

But the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) said otherwise.

The DFDR indicated “engine one never reached sustained RPM above 96.8% and had significant oscillations between 95% and 98%,” it said.

The Air Force investigators said that when performing an engine run, the [technical order] requires a range “of 99.8% to 100.02% RPM, as displayed on a precision tachometer, to verify an engine is operating properly at 100%.2.”

The maintainers, who failed to use a precision instrument, missed a chance to diagnose a fluctuating, weaker engine.

“Good enough” mentality

The maintainers should have noted these red flags, the instructor pilot who spoke with Military.com said.

“The maintainers… failed to properly conduct the inspection of the engine,” the instructor pilot said. “The crew likely would have never stepped to the aircraft that day, at least not without the engine being verified to have reached the required power threshold, versus over 2 percent lower than the minimum.”

In the report, maintainers are faulted for having a “good enough” mentality about the aircraft’s condition.

Twitter user @MikeBlack114, a self-identified Air Force aircraft maintenance officer, also faulted the “good enough” mentality as a reason mistakes were made in a tweet thread. Furthermore, leadership should have paid better attention, he said.

“I’ll let someone with wings address the aircrew piece, but the mx [maintenance] portion is almost unfathomable,” Black said in a Twitter thread. “If you’re in a leadership position of an organization involved with flying and you aren’t uncovering the skeletons (believe me, they’re there, just a question of how severe they are) you aren’t looking hard enough.”

Another problem, according to the report, was the maintainers observing the aircraft did not use a tachometer to justify the data.

The report noted that they had conducted the engine test runs without the instrument because the compatible adapter plug to connect the precision tachometer to the aircraft was not available.

“During the engine runs and without the use of a precision tachometer, [mishap maintainer one] and [mishap maintainer two] knew that 100% RPM was the speed the engine should operate at, but believed 99% was sufficient to conclude their maintenance because of the wider gauge range provided in the [technical order],” the report said. “Thus, the mishap maintainers never corrected the engine one discrepancy and did not resolve the RPM issue.”

On May 2, 2018, engine one’s RPMs once again revealed an anomaly.

During takeoff, engine one’s RPMs fluctuated and couldn’t be stabilized when the first mishap pilot “advanced the throttle lever into the flight range,” according to the report.

“Engine one RPM and torque significantly decayed, which substantially lowered thrust,” investigators added.

While the banked turn the pilots made into the failed engine “was well below the minimum air speed needed for proper control of the aircraft, the [mishap aircraft] did still have enough airspeed to maintain flight,” the report said.

“The crew put the aircraft in a disadvantageous energy state by rotating (lifting off) 5 knots early and failing to accelerate as required by the procedures,” the instructor pilot said. “Unfortunately, this was not an unrecoverable situation by any means, and one crews in all airframes train to regularly.”

The reason for the initial flight in April 2018 was to conduct routine in-tank fuel cell maintenance in Georgia. The 165th Airlift Wing at Savannah Air National Guard Base had the means to do this, unlike the Puerto Rico Guard’s 156th Wing.

Puerto Rico’s facilities sustained substantial damage during Hurricane Maria and could not offer the maintenance at home station, the report said.

Transparency needed

Although Adjutant Gen. Isabelo Rivera, the commanding officer of the Puerto Rico National Guard, said at the time of the crash the aircraft was more than 60 years old and one of the oldest C-130s in the fleet, its history and maintenance record say otherwise.

The aircraft, tail number 65-0968, rolled off the assembly line in 1965 as a standard C-130E, its records show.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Aircraft 65-0968.

“Sometime in the early 1970’s, it was converted to a WC-130H for use in weather reconnaissance (the “W” designation indicates the weather modifications),” the report said.

The engines were also “upgraded from T56-A-7 to the T56-A-15 at that time (which changed the “E” designation to “H”),” it said.

The aging aircraft life was extended because the wing had been expected to change missions. But that transition never came.

The fiscal 2016 budget “initially divested the six WC-130H aircraft from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard “and provided direction to move the 156th Airlift Wing to the RC-26, a manned Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform,” the report said. “However, this direction did not prove viable, as there was no requirement for a manned ISR mission in the United States Northern Command Theater.”

Millard, the investigator, said in the report there were no outstanding time compliance technical orders that would have restricted the plane from from flying.

Still, there should have been more transparency, the instructor pilot said.

“As an aircraft commander, there’s a ‘trust but verify’ mentality with the maintenance crews, but our knowledge is limited. So when a crew chief hands me the signed forms,” he said, “I have to trust those procedures and previous discrepancies have been fixed in accordance with the maintenance technical orders.”

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

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This is why coffee machines are banned in the Combat Operations Center

The Marine Corps operates continuously in every clime, place, day or night. The heartbeat of the battlefield is the Combat Operations Center. By design it will work with high tech machines or on the move with radios and whiteboards. The Communications Officer is in charge of setting up encryption and making sure the battalion commander has the ability to talk to his officers. Out of all the things that are a threat to readiness, the ‘Comms O’ will always ban the use of coffee machines.

Energy needs of the equipment

Combat Operations Center energy needs are strictly monitored. Every radio, from the PRC-119 (and variants) to the high-powered antennas used at the company level and above. They need a lot of energy to transmit radio waves. Different factors such as line of sight, elevation, interference, distance, and power sources dictate what cannot be used in the COC. The power output increases and decreases to match what is going on in the field. Battery charging is the priority for obvious reasons. It is easy to underestimate the drain a coffee maker can have. If a troop disregards the standard operating procedures, it can easily knock out the topology if it is running at max power to communicate with far flung platoons. The Comms Shop will adjust the power needs for what they expect. A Coffee machine is a wrench in the engine.

combat operations center
There’s no extra time or power for coffee makers here. Wouldn’t it be nice, though?

Ironically the culprits of disregarding the ‘no coffee machines’ ban in COCs are of the brass variety. The higher in the pecking order, the easier it is to dismiss a corporal watching in horror. Luckily, this is what training is for, to do the mistakes in the field and not overseas where they count. Time and time again, without fail, the first field op a battalion conducts will lose comm because an officer gave into the temptation of a hot cup of Joe.

Rock, paper, I out rank you

This one time, an unpopular Comms O, ranted for about 15 minutes to not use coffee machines during a Command and Staff meeting. Unbeknownst to him, the colonel specifically had gourmet coffee packed with the COC gear. Fortunately, the field op was an offense and defense exercise that did not require any live fire training. In the middle of the night a little red night turned on and the COC turned off. From a distance, one heard a rampaging Comms O barreling towards the tent ready to rip the perpetrator in two.

Inside he found the three of top brass fiddling with the machine. Of course, the lower enlisted got the ass chewing for not stopping the colonel and two majors from doing what they wanted. To their credit, the senior officers took the blame for what they caused. The Comms O said that ‘that is not how any of this works’. If they wanted coffee that bad, they could have told him and he would’ve fired up a new generator just for them.

This is one of those things that is learned the hard way that is never included in the ‘lessons learned’ report at the conclusion of a field exercise. It’s a womp, womp moment every unit goes through that they will not admit. The coffee maker is an EMP waiting to happen. It is unofficially accounted for when gauging the battalion’s energy needs. The good news is that it’s a problem identified, corrected, and not repeated past the first op as a unit. The coffee machine is banned unless the Comm O says so.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

New report shows the depths of the Army’s deployability problems

The US Army sent 62 of its generals to an “executive health program” at a military hospital in Texas, where they spent three days undergoing medical examinations and receiving healthcare, according to a new report obtained by USA Today.

The program followed a military-wide sweep of the Army’s top brass and reportedly showed that only one in five of its generals was ready to deploy during 2016.


The report highlighted the Army’s struggle to get its troops ready to deploy, which has become one of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ top priorities. Conducted at the order of former Secretary Chuck Hagel, the report was completed in 2017 after Mattis had taken over.

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis.

(DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

The generals and admirals who lead the US military have also seen their reputation suffer after years of scandals, corruption and ethical lapses. An investigation, also by USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, found that military investigators documented 500 cases of serious misconduct by admirals and generals over a four-year period.

Only 83.5 percent of Army soldiers were able to deploy, USA Today reported. Other service branches reported higher numbers around 90 percent, the report showed.

But among Army generals, fewer than 80 percent were ready to deploy.

The report suggests this may be due to administrative rather than health reasons; most generals became deployable after receiving updated blood tests and dental exams, according to USA Today. The report recommended that generals take time to complete required examinations and necessary treatment.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How troops could get to keep destroyed gear as a memento

That shrapnel-scarred flak jacket or battle-blasted Kevlar might not have much use to the military by the time they’re turned in to an equipment issue facility for reset following a deployment.

But for the service member who wore them and lived to tell the tale, the items’ value just might be immeasurable.

A small provision in the fiscal 2019 defense budget bill aims to make it easier for the military to donate protective gear deemed no longer fit for military use to the service members who wore it during combat and other military operations.


The provision, first reported by Army Times, would grant formal permission to the military to do something that has from time to time been done informally — presenting old gear to the troops it protected as a keepsake — and tacitly acknowledges that the equipment these troops wear tells a story of its own.

“The Secretary of a military department may award to a member of the armed forces… and to any veteran formerly under the jurisdiction of the Secretary, demilitarized personal protective equipment (PPE) of the member or veteran that was damaged in combat or otherwise during the deployment of the member or veteran,” the provision reads. “The award of equipment under this section shall be without cost to the member or veteran concerned.”

Air Force pilots ready to replace UH-1N Huey helicopter

Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes stands with the helmet that saved his life. During a mission with his platoon, Snipes was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. The only thing that saved his life was the Kevlar helmet he wore.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander)

The stories of troops whose lives have been saved because their Kevlar helmets stopped an enemy bullet have become a genre of their own in reports from the battlefield. Photos showing Marines and soldiers mugging with shredded helmets highlight the importance of the stories these protective items tell.

One Marine Corps news release from 2005 recounts how Lance Cpl. Bradley Snipes, an anti-tank assaultman with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, was hit squarely in the head by a sniper round during a deployment to Iraq. He came away uninjured, thanks to his Kevlar.

“I was really surprised. It’s supposed to be able to stop a 7.62mm round at long distances. Well, it did,” he told a Marine combat correspondent at the time. “The gear works, don’t doubt it. This is proof.”

The story added that Snipes wanted to petition to keep his helmet as a memento. It’s not clear from the story or follow-on reports if he was given the chance to do so.

“I want to put it in a case with a plaque that says, ‘The little bullet that couldn’t,'” he said.

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

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