Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

Located near Clovis, New Mexico, near the Texas panhandle, Cannon Air Force Base employs around 5,800 people, including military and civilian personnel. Some of their civilian personnel include contracted radio-frequency calibration technicians in the Air Force Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory (PMEL) program. Their job is to repair and recalibrate precision measurement equipment that is used for testing, measuring, or diagnosing other systems. 

Precision is a matter of life and death

Every single machine and piece of equipment used by the Air Force and the military must work perfectly. That means each device has to operate at the highest level of precision. The civilians and AF personnel at PLEM are responsible for calibrating equipment used in just about every phase of maintenance. Specialists ensure everything works right. If it doesn’t, serious issues can happen. These experts comb over every single measurement too, to make sure aircraft is safe to operate. Sometimes this means they’re looking at increments as small as in the millionths!

Specifically, radio-frequency calibration technicians working at PMEL at Cannon AFB make sure every single piece of equipment is fully functioning. For instance, imagine that a drone’s calibration is slightly off. That could cause dire, perhaps even deadly consequences. The same is true for a bomb on target or any other equipment used by the Air Force. The radio-frequency calibration technicians in the PMEL make sure all devices are operating with pinpoint accuracy so that no unintended results occur. 

Watch out for shocks

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Just one piece of precision equipment used to test weapons (YouTube)

All Air Force test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment used to manage weapons and other support systems go through PMEL for calibration before use. This is what makes the US Air Force the best in the world. They use measurement standards that can be traced through the Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is an exact science, emphasis on “exact,”  that the Air Force could not succeed without. 

Working with electricity, the job has its risks, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon for technicians to zap themselves. To counter this, they often work on electro-static discharge (ESD) benches where they can ground themselves with a piece of wire. That way they won’t die if they get electrocuted in the process of recalibrating and repairing equipment. 

There is no Air Force without the behind-the-scenes crew

Aside from outside contractors and government civilians, the Air Force also has trained personnel who work in the PMEL. The Air Force even has a specific PEML training program that entails eight and a half weeks of basic military training followed by 124 days of technical training. While the men and women who work on the front lines tend to get most of the credit and glory for US Military success, the people behind the scenes, such as those working in the PEML at Cannon Air Force Base, are just as valuable. 

Related: Brave little heart: One Air Force family navigates the unthinkable

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Troops may soon get the lightest helmets ever made

The helmet is an essential piece of gear that protects our troops, but such protection doesn’t come without heft. Even with sophisticated technologies and materials, today’s Modular Integrated Communications Helmet weighs a little over three and a half pounds. That might not sound like much to a reader at home, but when you add on night-vision goggles and a radio, it quickly becomes quite the load for the average soldier to carry on their noggin.

That said, relief may be on the horizon. DuPont, a science company responsible for the development of many advanced materials, announced in a press release that it will be introducing a new, lightweight, synthetic fiber that could lighten helmets by up to 40 percent. The new fiber is known as Tensylon® HA120.


Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

Here is a look at how Tensylon will be used to lighten helmets.

(DuPont)

“Innovation is a continuous process at DuPont,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager of DuPont Kevlar® and Nomex®.

“We’re constantly looking for new solutions that are stronger, lighter, and more comfortable for the men and women protecting us. They deserve the best protection, so they can stay focused on the high-risk job of safeguarding their communities and their countries.”

The helmet is designed to provide what DuPont calls, “optimum ballistic properties and impact resistance” through the use of a “Tensylon® solid state extruded ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) film technology.” This will not only provide greater protection from bullets, but it will also reduce the threat from “back face deflection” — which is when an impact dislodges another portion of the armor, striking the wearer at a point opposite to the initial impact.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

These Marines from the First Marine Special Operations Battalion could be among troops who benefit from lighter helmets.

(DOD photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Storm)

There’s still a long way to go before this new technology lands in the hands (or on the heads) of troops. Still, it’s a good sign. In an era where troops are constantly expected to tack on a few pounds here, a few ounces there, a lightened load is a welcome relief.

Articles

This is what happens when Russia makes a B-2 stealth bomber knock-off

As the saying goes: “If you’re going to dream, dream big.”


That’s exactly what Russia did when it was evaluating designs for its next-generation bomber, dubbed the “PAK-DA” — which literally means “prospective aviation complex for long-range aviation.”

The initial concept was supposed to be a stealthy and insanely fast hypersonic aircraft. But then reality set in, and so far the idea’s been more wishful thinking than reality.

Related: Let’s talk about America’s rocky ‘frenemy’ relationship with Russia

The PAK-DA will be a subsonic aircraft designed for high payload and long-range flight. It’s expected to replace the aging Soviet-era turbo-prop Tu-95 “Bear” and the Tu-160 strategic bombers. Developed by Russia’s Ministry of Defense and Tupolev, the PAK-DA is scheduled to begin testing in 2019, according to KRET, the Russian company responsible for designing its radar system.

About three months ago an animated video surfaced showing the PAK-DA’s blended wing-body design, which looks a whole lot like a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber knock-off. It’s probably not the aircraft’s final design considering the style of the video, which is strikingly similar to those published by Russia’s propaganda media arm, Russia Today.

Here are two other articles with the same animation style we’ve written about:

The final design is still under wraps, so for now, Russia will just have to keep the dream alive. Here is the animated PAK DA video:

arronlee33, YouTube

Articles

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Who needs an overnight bag when you have a sturdy pair of tactical pants? Go ahead, be a TSA nightmare! (Photo: We Are The Mighty)

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

1. Skivvies are essential

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

2. Batten down the button-down

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

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

3. Don those Dockers

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

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

4. Prepare for after hours

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

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

5. Don’t forget fresh breath

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

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

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

3 pieces of military tech from ‘The Mandalorian’ that we’re already working on

It’s now safe to say that Disney+ has a bonafide hit on its hands with their new Star Wars series, “The Mandalorian,” and it’s pretty easy to see why. The gritty worlds depicted in the series are ripe with believable characters, well shot and choreographed action sequences, and of course, an adorable (and highly meme-able) character just begging to become a hit toy this Christmas. I’ll admit, as the sort of guy that tends to prefer Kirk over Solo, I wasn’t all that excited ahead of time about “The Mandalorian,” but three episodes in, it’s safe to say that I’m a convert.

What won me over? Well, I’m a sucker for a space western (I am, after all, a card carrying Browncoat), but it’s not just the “shootout at the OK Corral” vibe of the show that gets me; it’s also the weapons tech. Star Wars may take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but the technology depicted in the franchise has always been more about the future than the past, and much like “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “The Mandalorian” is choke full of technology that may seem at home in the 24th century, but is actually on the verge of becoming a reality right here and now.

While I’ll try my best to avoid them, here’s fair warning: spoilers ahead.


What sort of tech is that? Well there’s…

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

(Disney)

Weapons that can see through walls

In episode 3 of “The Mandalorian,” Mando is doing a bit of reconnaissance on a building he may want to blow his way into (trying my best to avoid spoilers here), so he shoulders his breach-loading doom-rifle and syncs it with his helmet, using the rifle to help him see the heat signatures of people through the walls of the building. This sort of gear would certainly come in handy for galactic bounty hunters, but is also finding its way into use with first responders and the U.S. military already.

Systems like Lumineye will soon allow soldiers to use a handheld device to identify targets and locate potential threats on the other side of an opaque barrier using wall penetrating radar.

Lumineye Through Wall Sensing Demo

www.youtube.com

This system won’t work from a few hundred yards away like Mando’s, but his setup seems to be FLIR based rather than using radar technology. As FLIR themselves point out, most walls are actually too thick or well insulated to allow the detection of heat signatures, putting Mando’s version a bit further into the realm of science fiction… unless those walls are made out of some really thin space dirt or something.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

(Disney)

Jet Packs that actually work

Boba Fett, the character that’s arguably responsible for the existence of “The Mandalorian” (despite never actually doing anything cool in any of the movies) may have become a pop-culture icon thanks to nothing more than a kickass helmet and a jet pack, which made it sort of disappointing when the protagonist of this new series was shown hoofing it everywhere. By the end of episode 3, we do get to see some jet-pack-packing Mandalorians take to the sky in one hell of an action sequence, proving that there’s more to being able to fly than just falling in a Sarlacc pit.

While not quite the same in practice, British Royal Marine-turned-inventor Richard Browning has been raking in headlines for a few years now with his own jet pack suit that often draws comparisons to Iron Man (the first installment of which was helmed by John Favreau — the same guy that created “The Mandalorian”). Recently, Browning made a pretty damn cool looking flight off of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Take on Gravity Jet suit demo with HMS Queen Elizabeth

www.youtube.com

Granted, the “Gravity Jet Suit” isn’t just a pack you wear on your back like you see in “The Mandalorian,” so Browning doesn’t have two free hands to dual-wield pistols… but dual wielding is a pretty dumb thing to do in a fight anyway. Instead, Browning and co. developed an M16 mount for the jetpack that, honestly, comes with its own problems.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

(Disney)

A grappling cable that works

Mando uses his grappling cable for a number of things, from climbing moving vehicles to killing bad guys, and while the U.S. military isn’t quite ready to start spearing dudes with grappling hooks in the field, they have already begun fielding machines that assist in climbing (or reverse-repelling) up walls. These systems aren’t quite small enough to be wrist-mounted like Mando’s, but are pretty damn effective when it comes to climbing. I had a chance to try out a version of this technology at Shot Show a few years ago, but I didn’t look quite as cool as the Mandalorian when I did it.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

(Alex Hollings)

A system similar to this one has already found its way into SOCOM’s inventory, and the exact system I used has since been contracted to the Chinese government for their special operators.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


Articles

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy


In the early 1980s, Cold War tensions were at their post-Cuban Missile Crisis height, and the US was looking for any strategic advantage it could get against its Soviet adversary.

Although submarine-based missiles were a well-established leg of the nuclear “triad” (along with ballistic missiles and strategic bomber aircraft) the US realized the strategic applicability of stealth for vessels at sea. Specifically, US military researchers wanted to test the viability of making nuclear-armed submarines invisible to sonar.

This effort resulted in Lockheed Martin’s experimental stealth ship, a razor-like surface vessel called the Sea Shadow.

First acquired by the US Navy in 1985, the Sea Shadow remained secret until it was unveiled to the public in 1993. The ship continued to be used for testing purposes until 2006, when it was removed from service.

Built with help from DARPA and funding from the US government, Sea Shadow was designed to test if it was possible to construct ships that could be invisible to Soviet satellite detection systems and X-band radar.

Additionally, the ship was more highly automated than previous vessels, and the Sea Shadow was partly aimed at testing how well surface ships could perform under the command of a very small crew.

First acquired in 1985, the Sea Shadow was never intended to be mission capable.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy

Instead, the ship was built to test stealth and automation technology. The sharp angles on the ship reflect designs that had previously proven successful for Lockheed’s stealth Nighthawk attack aircraft.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy

The Sea Shadow’s raised hull builds upon older technology that is widely used in ferry design for enhancing stability. The Sea Shadow was designed to be able to withstand 18-foot high waves.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy

The Sea Shadow was small and cramped. It was only 160 feet long, could only fit 12 bunks, and only had a small microwave, refrigerator, and table for the crew.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy

Although the Sea Shadow was taken out of service in 2006, it still influenced later classes of ships. Its low radar cross section, for instance, informed the design of subsequent US Navy destroyers.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Photo: US Navy

More from Business Insider:

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This futuristic ultra-flexible airplane wing could change aviation forever

Researchers from MIT and NASA have developed an airplane wing that can change shape and increase the efficiency of aircraft flight, production, and maintenance, according to MIT News.

On a traditional airplane wing, only parts of the wing, such as flaps and ailerons, can move to change the plane’s direction. The wing designed by the MIT and NASA researchers would be able to move in its entirety.


The wing is made of hundreds of small, identical pieces that contain both rigid and flexible components which make it lighter and more efficient than traditional airplane wings. Since the wing could adjust to the particular characteristics of each stage of flight (takeoff, landing, steering, etc.), it could perform better than traditional wings, which are not designed to maximize performance during any part of a flight.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

Wing assembly under construction.

(NASA)

“We’re able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack,” NASA research engineer Nicholas Cramer told MIT News.

The wing’s parts are arranged in a lattice structure that creates a large amount of empty space and covered in a thin, polymer material. Combined, the wing’s materials and structure make it as firm as a rubber-like polymer (though much less dense) and as light as an aerogel.

MIT graduate student Benjamin Jenett told MIT News that the wing performed better than expected during a test in a wind tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why Sweden is low-key one of the greatest superpowers

Imagine you’re playing a game of Risk. While everyone else is busy squabbling with their neighbors, you take each turn to quietly bolster your army. You sit back and build up while making friends with the right people so you can focus on your own military. This has been Sweden’s plan for the last two hundred years.


Now, Sweden doesn’t compete when it comes to military expenditure — they’re near the bottom of the list for developed nations. The entirety of their troops, active, guard, and paramilitary, could fit inside a single arena in Stockholm. And they’ve even made non-alignment pacts during every major conflict in modern history, so battle-hardened leaders are hard to come by.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Despite this, they’re strong allies with all NATO nations and they’ve sent many military observers to Afghanistan as apart of the ISAF.
(Photo by Pfc. Han-byeol Kim)

Sweden’s strength comes from their mastery of technology. Particularly, in three key elements of warfare: speed, surveillance, and stealth.

One of their greatest military advances is the Saab Gripen JAS 39E, a state-of-the-art aircraft that is much cheaper than its peers. The Gripen has mastered super-cruise flight, which is the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners. It is also equipped with one of the world’s leading active electronically scanned array systems and will soon lead the world in combining aircraft with electronic warfare capabilities.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Vikings in the air. Great. Just what the world needed.
(Swedish Armed Forces)

But their advanced technology doesn’t start and end with the Gripens. The next keystone of their arsenal is the unbelievable advancements they’ve made in drone technology, culminating in the SKELDAR UAV helicopter. It can carry a 40kg payload and remain in the air for up to 6 hours, which is amazing its size and cost.

The sleek rotary wing design for a UAV also gives it much more control over the battlefield when compared fixed wing aircraft. Once the SKELDAR locks onto a target, it won’t ever let it out of its sights.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
At only 4 meters in length, it’s can go undetected when it’s a kilometer in the air.
(Swedish Armed Forces)

As impressive as these are, Sweden’s biggest military boast is their war-games victory over the US Navy in 2005 when the HMS Gotland “defeated” the USS Ronald Reagan. The HMS Gotland, and all other attack submarines in the Gotland-class, are the stealthiest submarines in the ocean. This is because it was designed entirely to counter means of detection.

It’s the only submarine class to use air-independent propulsion by way of the Stirling engine. Its passive sonar system is so advanced that it can detect which nationality an unknown ship belongs to simply by identifying the operating frequency of the alternating current used in its power systems. It does all of this while remaining completely undetectable to the might of even the United States Navy.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
It’s cool though. Sweden’s Navy is a strong ally.
(Photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael Moriatis)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The legendary tanker that refuels planes in flight

While it may sound cliché, it’s a common motto within the tanker community. For more than 60 years of continuous service, the KC-135 Stratotanker has been the core aerial refueling capability for U.S. operations around the world.

The KC-135 provides the Air Force with its primary mission of global reach, but it also supports the Navy, Marine Corps and allied nations in assisting training, combat and humanitarian engagements.


The aircraft is also capable of transporting litters and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

A Cold War-era image of B-52D refueling from a KC-135A.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The stratotanker was the Air Force’s first jet-powered refueling tanker, replacing the KC-97 Stratofreighter. It was originally designed and tasked to support strategic bombers, but has been heavily used in all major conflicts since its development, extending the range and endurance of U.S. tactical fighters and bombers.

The KC-135 is a mid-air refueling aircraft with a telescoping “flying boom” tube located on the rear of the plane. A boom operator lays prone and guides the boom insert into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft. With a single boom, aircraft refuel one at a time.

The mid-air refueling capability changed the landscape of air dominance during the Vietnam War and enabled tactical fighter-bombers of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to stay on the front lines for hours rather than minutes due to their limited fuel reserves and high fuel consumption.

For bombers, all targets were now within reach without the need of hopping from base to base until striking their targets. No longer are lives at stake to build airstrips to support bombing campaigns, as they were in WWII.

Development and design

The Boeing Company’s model 367-80 jet transport, commonly called the “Dash-80,” was the basic design for the commercial 707 passenger plane as well as the KC-135A Stratotanker.

In 1954, the Air Force purchased the first 29 of its future 803 aerial refueling tanker fleet. The first aircraft flew in August 1956, and the initial production Stratotanker was delivered to Castle Air Force Base, California, in June 1957. The last KC-135 was delivered to the Air Force in 1965.

The aircraft’s KC identifier stands for (K) tanker (C) transport.

The aircraft is powered by four turbofan engines mounted on 35-degree swept wings, has a flight speed of more than 500 mph and a flight range of nearly 1,500 miles when loaded with 150,000 lbs. of fuel.

The KC-135 has been modified and retrofitted through the years with each update providing stronger engines, fuel management and avionics systems. The recent Block 45 update added a new glass cockpit digital display, radio altimeter, digital autopilot, digital flight director and computer updates.

Of the original KC-135As, more than 417 were modified with new CFM-56 engines.

The re-engined tanker, designated either the KC-135R or KC-135T, can offload 50 percent more fuel, is 25 percent more fuel efficient, costs 25 percent less to operate and is 96 percent quieter than the KC-135A.

In 1981 the KC-10 Extender was introduced to supplement the KC-135. The KC-10 doubles the fuel carrying capacity of the KC-135, which is critical in supporting mobility operations of large cargo aircraft like the C-5 Galaxy and the C-17 Globemaster III.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

Airmen of the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron perform lifesaving procedures to a patient in a KC-135 Stratotanker, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 26, 2015. Aircrew and a KC-135 from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, spent multiple days at Ramstein performing aerial refueling missions, which also gave AES Airmen the opportunity to train on their mission inside a different airframe.

(Photo by Damon Kasberg)

Through the years, the KC-135 has been altered to do other jobs ranging from flying command post missions to reconnaissance. RC-135s are used for special reconnaissance and Air Force Materiel Command’s NKC-135As are flown in test programs. Air Combat Command operates the OC-135 as an observation platform in compliance with the Open Skies Treaty.

The KC-135R and KC-135T aircraft continue to undergo life-cycle upgrades to expand their capabilities and improve reliability. Among these are improved communications, navigation and surveillance equipment to meet future civil air traffic control needs.

There have been 11 variants or models through the years of the C-135 family.

The aircraft carries a basic crew of three, a pilot, co-pilot and boom operator. Some missions require the addition of a navigator.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

An A-10C Thunderbolt II receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan Oct. 2, 2013. The A-10 is deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., to the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The KC-135 is assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

(Photo by Stephany Richards)

Nearly all internal fuel can be pumped through the flying boom. A special shuttlecock-shaped drogue attached to and trailing behind the flying boom may be used to refuel aircraft fitted with probes. Some aircraft have been configured with the multipoint refueling system, which consists of special pods mounted on the wingtips. These KC-135s are capable of refueling two receiver aircraft at the same time.

In 2007 the Air Force announced plans for the KC-X tanker replacement program for the KC-135. In 2011, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus was selected as the winner of the program.

The first 18 combat-ready Pegasus tankers are expected for delivery by 2019.

The KC-135 E and R models are expected to continue service until 2040 when they will be nearly 80 years old.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

A KC-135 Stratotanker flies through storm clouds on its way to refuel a C-17 Globemaster III off Florida’s east coast, July 12, 2012. The KC-135 was the Air Force’s first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97L Stratofreighter.

(Photo by Jeremy Lock)

Operation and deployment

Air Mobility Command manages the current inventory of 396 Stratotankers, of which the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard fly 243 aircraft in support of AMC’s mission.

While AMC gained the control of the aerial refueling mission, a small number of KC-135s were also assigned directly to U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces and the Air Education and Training Command.

All Air Force Reserve Command KC-135s and most of the Air National Guard KC-135 fleet are operationally controlled by AMC, while Alaska Air National Guard and Hawaii Air National Guard KC-135s are operationally controlled by PACAF.

Did you know?

  • The Stratotanker is constructed with almost 500,000 rivets. The installed cost of these rivets range from 14 cents to id=”listicle-2595814234″.50 each.
  • The KC-135 as 23 windows, nearly all of which are heated electrically or with hot air to prevent fogging.
  • The tanker has a cargo area easily capable of holding a bowling alley, with enough room left over for a gallery of spectators. The cargo area is almost 11 feet wide, 86 feet long and 7 feet high: the equivalent of 220 automobile trunks.
  • The KC-135 transfers enough fuel through the refueling boom in one minute to operate the average family car for more than one year.
  • It can transfer more fuel in 8 minutes than a gas station could pump in 24 hours.
Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress leads a formation of aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons and four Swedish Gripens over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2016. The formation was captured from a KC-135 from the 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana as part of exercise BALTOPS 2016.

(Photo by Erin Babis)

KC-135 Stratotanker fact sheet:

General characteristics

  • Primary function: Aerial refueling and airlift
  • Builder: The Boeing Company
  • Power plant: CFM International CFM-56 turbofan engines
  • Thrust: 21,634 pounds of thrust in each engine
  • Wingspan: 130 feet, 10 inches (39.88 meters)
  • Length: 136 feet, 3 inches (41.53 meters)
  • Height: 41 feet, 8 inches (12.7 meters)
  • Speed: 530 mph at 30,000 feet (9,144)
  • Range: 1,500 miles (2,419 kilometers) with 150,000 pounds (68, 039 kilograms) of transfer fuel; ferry mission, up to 11,015 miles (17,766 kilometers)
  • Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 322,500 pounds (146, 285 kilograms)
  • Maximum Transfer Fuel Load: 200,000 pounds (90,719 kilograms)
  • Maximum Cargo Capability: 83,000 pounds (37,648 kilograms), 37 passengers
  • Crew: 3 (pilot, co-pilot and boom operator. Some KC-135 missions require the addition of a navigator. The Air Force has a limited number of navigator suites that can be installed for unique missions.)
  • Aeromedical Evacuation Crew: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be altered as required by the needs of patients.
  • Initial operating capability: 1956
  • Unit cost: .6 million

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

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Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

The F-22 Raptor is an expensive plane. While some critics pegged its cost at over $300 million a plane, the actual fly-away cost could go down to $116 million per Raptor, according to a 2006 Air Force release.


Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
An F-22 deploys flares. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-22 was slated to replace the F-15A/B/C/D Eagles as the premier air-superiority fighter. But the Raptor’s production was halted at 187 airframes. Let’s go through a tale of the tape on these planes, before we see what happens when five Eagles jump a Raptor.

According to Joe Baugher, the F-15 has a top speed of Mach 2.5, a cruising speed of 570 knots, can carry eight air-to-air missiles (usually four AIM-120/AIM-7 and four AIM-9), and has a 20mm M61 cannon with 940 rounds. It has a range of 3,450 miles.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

Baugher notes that the F-22 has a top speed of Mach 2.2 slightly slower than the F-15. But the F-22 cruises at Mach 1.6. It carries four AIM-120 and four AIM-9 missiles. It also has a 20mm M61 cannon. It has a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles.

Here’s the video showing how the five Eagles fared against the Raptor. Warning: This was not a fair fight.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This carpet has a nasty surprise for would-be ISIS attackers

If one attack has become the signature of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in recent years, it’s an attack on civilians using a vehicle to slam into them and cause death and mayhem.


Now, London is deploying new technology that can stop these attacks in their tracks.

According to a report by the International Business Times, the Talon was deployed this past Sunday to protect a parade with active and former members of the Royal Navy at Whitehall in the capital of the United Kingdom. The system not only featured tungsten spikes to puncture tires, it also has a net to halt a vehicle weighing up to 17 tons.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
It took two cops less than a minute to deploy the Talon, a vehicle net and spikes intended to stop an ISIS-style vehicle attack. (London Metropolitan Police)

A release by the London Metropolitan Police noted that the system is also designed to ensure that the vehicle is only able to go in a straight line. The system is also designed to make it easier for officers to engage some ISIS-inspired terrorist wannabe after the vehicle is stopped.

The “Met” noted in the release that it takes less than a minute for two police officers to deploy the system. Similar “stop sticks” have been used by law enforcement to quickly end police chases by deflating the tires of vehicles within five seconds.

This is accomplished by using hollow spikes to puncture the tires and let the air out in a manner that doesn’t cause the tires to blow out and potentially cause an accident.

StopStick.com, a leading manufacturer, notes that the devices have been successfully used over 21,000 times in ending pursuits.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

In the past, a number of vehicle attacks inspired by ISIS have caused significant damage. In Nice, France, 86 people were killed when a terrorist used a truck to drive through a crowd on July 14, 2016. Similar attacks at London Bridge and Westminster Bridge combined to leave 12 dead in the summer of 2017.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The new SPEAR missile will strike any target on land or at sea

Throughout the course of human evolution, the spear, as a weapon, has provided extra reach against powerful opponents. Back then, the fierce opposition typically had four legs. Today, the spear is antiquated technology. It’s a still a great tool in a pinch, but since the introduction of firearms, better war-fighting tools have taken its place.

But there is a “spear” today that could prove extremely effective in modern warfare.


To be fair, the spear we’re talking about is much more than a sharpened stick. In this case, we’re talking about the SPEAR 3 missile (“SPEAR” actually stands for Selective Precision Effects At Range).

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

This mock-up of the MBDA SPEAR, on display at SeaAirSpace 2018, shows the wings that help give this missile an 80-mile range.

(Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The SPEAR 3 is an upgrade to the SPEAR 2, which was also known as the Brimstone 2, and comes with three big changes. First, the SPEAR 3 weighs just over twice as much as its predecessor (roughly 220 pounds). The SPEAR 3 uses a turbojet engine as opposed to the rocket motor of the Brimstone. And, finally, a wing kit has been added to the missile, which, according to a handout, gives the SPEAR a “beyond-horizon reach.”

So, how far can this precision weapon go? By some estimates, as far as 80 miles. The missile is pretty small and is intended to be used to engage tanks, naval vessels, and just about any target in between. The SPEAR 3 uses a combination of inertial navigation and GPS guidance as well as a multi-mode seeker and a two-way datalink to accurately find its target.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB

This rack holds four SPEAR missiles, and can fit with an AIM-120 AMRAAM or a MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile inside a F-35’s weapons bay. Let’s see a S-400 battery survive that!

(Graphic by MBDA)

Unlike the old SPEAR, which would only fly solo, an F-35 can carry four SPEAR 3s in a weapons bay alongside air-to-air missiles, like the AIM-120 AMRAAM or the MBDA Meteor.

Although the spear has come a long way since its pointy origins, this newest iteration gives opposing forces plenty to fear.

Articles

How America’s automakers supplied the allies during World War II

When Isoroku Yamamoto warned that Japan had no chance to win World War II, he famously cited America’s industrial might. One of the biggest areas where that strength came into play was with the automotive industry.


As this video by Fiat Chrysler shows, the automakers did step up big when World War II hit. One notable example not covered in the video is that most of the Avengers were not built by Grumman, they were built by General Motors (and thus, they were called TBMs, as opposed to the TBF for the Grumman-built versions). GM also built a lot of Wildcats as the FM and FM-2.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns. (Screenshot from Fiat Chrysler video)

Chrysler, though, was very good at building tanks. First the M3 Lee (or Grant) was rolling off the assembly lines — in some cases before the factory was completely built! The Grant was eventually replaced by the M4 Sherman. They also built lots of trucks — including the half-ton and three-quarter-ton trucks that were ubiquitous in the military.

This video notes that Chrysler was responsible for about 25 percent of America’s tank production — more than all the tank production of Nazi Germany. What is also notable is that many designs that came to Chrysler were improved by its engineers.

Precision Equipment Laboratory at Cannon AFB
Tank treads produced by Chrysler. (Screenshot from Fiat Chrysler video)

Check out the five-minute video from FCA America that explains the U.S. automakers’ amazing role in supplying the troops in World War II.

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