Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

The U2 was produced in 1955 by Lockheed’s Skunk Works for aerial reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union. The proposal to build a plane that could fly 70,000 feet came from the need to fly beyond the reach of Soviet fighters, missiles, and radar; basically, anything that could threaten it.


Related: A successor to the storied U2 spy plane is reportedly in development

The U.S. Air Force solicited designs from several aircraft companies, including Lockheed before settling on the winning concept. Lockheed’s first try, by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson—its best aeronautical engineer at the time—included the base of an XF-104 with elongated wings and a shortened fuselage named CL-282. The design was essentially a jet-powered glider; it had a single jet engine, had no landing gear, but could reach an altitude of 73,000 feet. Gen. Curtis LeMay famously walked out during the design’s presentation, saying that he was not interested in an airplane without wheels or guns.

After the rejection and several iterations later, Lockheed submitted the design for the U2 spy plane, nicknamed “Dragon Lady.” Its basic design is still in use today, thanks to its meticulous Programmed Depot Maintenance inspections every 4,700 flight hours.

While the aircraft didn’t fully adopt the no wheels design, it did find a compromise. Instead of the typical tricycle landing gear used in most aircraft, the U2 uses a bicycle configuration with a forward and aft set of landing wheels. This minimalist approach and other design elements make the airplane lighter, which is one of the main reasons the airplane can cruise at such a high speed.

This video shows spectacular footage from the cockpit of the U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet above the Earth. Watch:

Gung Ho Vids, YouTube
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These crazy photos show 30+ ton tanks in flight

With crews of four men, thick armor, and enough firepower to level a village, tanks weren’t designed to fly. But the laws of physics never stopped tankers from trying:


1. Like this baby taking flight:

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

 2. Can you say tankapult?

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: Mitch.10.Ryan/Instagram

3. Seriously, this is what life as a US Army tanker is all about. Shooting, jumping and blowing stuff up, you know: tank stuff.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: Military_Challenge/Instagram

4. We hear that the new Polish tank will have an easier time getting off the ground than this one.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: Military_Challenge/Instagram

5. Is this a Russian separatist tank? Those guys have lots of fancy gear.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: Anoshin_A/Instagram

 6. No, this is not photoshopped.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: tankerboy/tumblr

7. Boomshakalaka!

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: Lifeofmice/Instagram

8. Here’s how the Indonesian Marines do it.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: fnhfal/tumblr

9. This photo proves that trying to fly tanks isn’t a new phenomenon.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: infinite_stash/Instagram

11. They even tried to make it into a sport.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: davechoppers/Instagram

11. Forget calling in air support, call your craziest tank crew instead.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: koko-hekmatiaru/tumblr

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This Norwegian missile could make the LCS a lot deadlier

The Littoral Combat Ship is often criticized for being under-armed. In fact, its main weapon for anti-surface warfare is reportedly a version of the AGM-114 Hellfire (after several false starts with other missiles). Now, don’t get us wrong. The Hellfire is a good missile, and it has made plenty of enemy tanks and terrorists go boom.


But against an enemy ship on the high seas, it’s an iffy option.

But the Hellfire may soon be a secondary option.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
A model of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship with two quad NSM launchers at the SeaAirSpace Expo 2017. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

At this year’s SeaAirSpace Expo, Kongsberg and Raytheon have proposed a solution – using the Naval Strike Missile on the LCS. According to a U.S. Navy release from 2014, the Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) test-fired the NSM during RIMPAC 2014.

NSM offers longer range than the Hellfire (at least 100 nautical miles compare to the Hellfire’s 4.85), and a much bigger warhead (265 pounds to the Hellfire’s 20). In other words, this missile has a lot more “stopping power” against any threat the LCS could face.

But the missile is also relatively light, coming in at 770 pounds overall. The Mk 54 MAKO Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo comes in at 608 pounds. This means that the embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopters on a littoral combat ship could also carry these – and Kongsberg demonstrated that with a model at the display.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
This model of a MH-60R Seahawk at SeaAirSpace Expo 2017 shows it carrying the NSM. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

“Helicopter sold separately,” the representative said, jokingly. But the joke could very well be on an adversary – as the helicopter extends the stand-off reach the LCS would have. The helicopter capability would also add the ability to launch from an offset – complicating the targeting for an enemy.

NSM is already in service with Norway, equipping the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates, the Skjold-class corvettes, and is in use on Norway’s F-16 Fighting Falcons. It replaced the Penguin in Norwegian service.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
A mock-up of the Joint Strike Missile – a big brother to the NSM – at the SeaAirSpace Expo 2017. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

Kongsberg also displayed a mock-up of the Joint Strike Missile, a slightly larger version of the NSM, featuring a range of at least 150 nautical miles. Even with the increased size, a handout provided by Kongsberg reps at SeaAirSpace 2017 indicated that the missile can still be carried internally by the F-35 Lightning II.

In one sense, this would be going “back to the future.” In the 1990s, the United States Navy equipped the SH-60B Seahawks with the AGM-119 Penguin anti-ship missile – also from Kongsberg. The Penguin also was a mainstay of Norway’s military during the 1980s and 1990s.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Navy backed off railguns (and China should too)

The prototype Chinese railgun is the first technical demonstrator of the tech on a ship at sea, but there are real reasons why the Navy is slow-rolling the railgun, and it’s unlikely that China has broken the code on how to make railguns viable.


First, for anyone who isn’t up on what railguns are, they’re a type of naval artillery that uses massive amounts of electricity to propel the round instead of a chemical reaction (read: gunpowder). This would be a major improvement in logistics and safety as the Navy would no longer need to ship bags of gunpowder around the world, but the best advantages come in range and lethality.

Railguns can hurl rounds very far. Navy engineers have said they think they can reach 230 miles with current technologies. And when the rounds hit the target, they’re going so fast that the total amount of damage on a target is like it was hit by a missile or a massive, high-explosive warhead but the fast-flying rounds can also pierce most armor and even underground targets and bunkers.

Oh, and the rounds are super cheap, costing about ,000 dollars per shot while the missiles they could sometimes replace are usually 0,000 a shot or more. Also, this hasn’t been proven yet, but railguns might be able to fire as fast as every 6 seconds.

Rain. Of. Fire.

So, railguns can fire up to 10 times as far as conventional artillery with a safer round that does more damage when it hits the target. And this isn’t theoretical — railguns have actually achieved these things in Navy tests. Time to put them on ships before China can, right?

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

High-speed photograph of Navy prototype railgun firing.

(U.S. Navy)

Not exactly. Because while railguns are a huge step up from conventional artillery and have a lot of advantages, there are also some serious drawbacks. First, they need a decent amount of deck space as well as a ton of space below decks. That’s because the guns require a ton of electricity, up to 9 kilowatt hours per shot. That’s how much energy an average U.S. house uses over 7 hours. The only surface ships with that kind of power on tap are the three Zumwalt-class destroyers and aircraft carriers.

Meanwhile, the weapons have improved in maintenance requirements in recent years, but still need new launcher cores every 400 shots and barrels every thousand.

But the biggest problem is the range. While a 230-mile range is phenomenal for artillery, it’s still a paltry reach compared to missiles. Tomahawk cruise missiles can reach between 810 miles and 1,550 miles depending on the type, and China’s “Carrier Killer” DF-26 is thought to strike at 1,200 miles or more. Meanwhile, a carrier-launched F-35 has a 1,380-mile range that can be extended with aerial refueling.

A railgun fires during testing at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2016.

(Monica Wood, Fort Sill Public Affairs)

So, were railguns obsolete before they were launched? No. There are still plenty of niche uses for the railgun, and the Navy has slowed development but is still pursuing the weapon. Accurate railgun fire could intercept enemy missiles and fighter jets for cheap, possibly while plugged into the super capable Aegis combat system.

And while railgun-equipped ships would likely be too vulnerable to missile strikes to be “door-kicking” ships that take out enemy defenses on day one of a conflict, they would still be very valuable for shore bombardment, strike missions, and other tasks after the first week or so of a war, after the worst of the enemy’s missiles are taken out.

So why is China pursuing the weapon so hard? It’s unlikely that it has solved the power-generation problems of the railgun. And the U.S. is working hard to get the barrels right so they could fire 1,000 rounds instead of the 10 or less that were standard pretty recently. There’s a chance that China is still struggling with that and similar problems.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

An artist’s illustration of a Navy Joint High-Speed Vessel with the prototype railgun installed for testing.

(U.S. Navy)

But being the first navy to put a railgun to sea has already granted China a pretty great and relatively easy propaganda victory. The country has worked hard on their technology in recent years in order to be seen as a great naval power, potentially positioning themselves as an arms exporter while deterring conflict.

And the U.S. will have to prepare for the possibility that the railgun is for real. The first pilots to fly within the ship’s range if a war breaks out have to reckon with the possibility that a 20-pound shell might be flying at Mach 7 towards their aircraft at any moment. Missile attacks against a fleet with the ship will have to decide whether to concentrate on the railgun or an aircraft carrier or another combatant.

But, again, this could all be China exploring the tech or bluffing, but with none of the breakthroughs needed to make the weapons viable in combat. If so, they would be wise to concentrate on the many other breakthroughs their military could use for an actual fight.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the US Army has some of the best divers in the world

Believe it or not, America’s primary land combatant force has some of the best combat divers in the world. It may seem odd that the Army, tasked with “providing prompt, sustained, land dominance, across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict” would have world-class divers. But the Army’s swimmers are kept plenty busy.


Mission of Army Divers

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The Army has two major classifications of divers: engineering and special operations. The engineering dive detachments make up the bulk of Army dive formations. Their primary mission is to conduct underwater engineering and disaster response.

Basically, these soldiers are responsible for making bridges safe, ensuring ports and harbors are stable and clear of dangerous debris, and clearing waterways like rivers. But they can also be sent to disaster response areas where they could conduct all of the above missions as well as search and rescue to save people in distress. They also provide emergency treatment for civilian divers suffering from decompression treatment.

That may not sound all that grueling. After all, welders don’t have to be super buff, why would an underwater welder have to be some elite soldier?

Well, divers are doing construction tasks like welding, cutting, bolting, and more, but they’re doing it while water presses against their bodies, they’re carrying 30 pounds or more of tanks and compressed air, and they may have to constantly paddle to stay in position for their work.

And that’s ignoring the mental fortitude needed to conduct dangerous operations underwater as cloudy water obscures vision, rushing water pushes against you, and the shadows of animals like gators or sharks pass over your body.

It’s because of all that strain that Army divers have a reputation for being jacked (not that the other services’ divers are any less fit, we’re just talking about the soldiers right now).

Army dives are typically made with teams of at least four or five divers, depending on the equipment being used. But dive detachments have 25 personnel, allowing them to support operations at three locations at once if so ordered. Each of the three dive squads in a detachment has six people at full manning, and there are seven more people assigned to the headquarters.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

Pfc. Stephen Olinger checks his oxygen levels prior to an exercise during Army Engineer Diver Phase II training at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018.

(U.S. Army Joe Lacdan)

A single squad can be deployed within 48 hours of a mission notice, or the entire detachment can move out within seven days if they receive logistics and security support from a larger unit. These short-notice missions can often be assessing damage to key infrastructure after a hurricane or earthquake or search and recovery after a disaster. But the detachment can be tasked with anti-terrorism swims, underwater demolition and construction, or salvage as well.

As we hinted above, though, the Army has Special Forces divers as well. But these divers have a more limited set of missions. They primarily are tasked with conducting reconnaissance on target areas or entering or exiting an area of operations via the water. They can conduct some demolition raids and security missions as well.

Their list of missions includes mobility and counter-mobility, physical security, and more. Each Special Forces battalion has three combat diving teams.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This tank is the backbone of the Russian Army

We hear a lot about the T-14 Armata and the T-90, some of Russia’s latest designs. But neither of these tanks, historically, has served as the backbone of the Russian Army. Let’s face facts: Most of the T-90 production has been for export — India is arguably the world’s biggest operator of the T-90 — and the T-14 is still, technically, in development. That means that the most modern tank that the Russians can operate in significant numbers is still the T-80.


This late-Soviet-era tank was produced in multiple locations, some of which are in what is now Russia and others in what is now Ukraine. Russia has around 4,500 of these tanks on hand, either in active service or in reserve. Russia may have more T-72s currently, but, frankly, the T-72 is an overhyped piece of junk.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
A Soviet T-80 main battle tank on maneuvers. (DOD photo)

The T-80 is a much-improved version of the T-64. The T-80 has a top speed of 43 miles per hour and can go 273 miles on a single tank of gas. It also has a crew of three, like most Soviet tanks, but uses an auto-loader as opposed to a 19-year-old grunt to feed the gun.

It’s armed with a pair of anti-tank missiles, the AT-8 Songster and the AT-11 Sniper, that can be fired from its 125mm gun. The tank also has a 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun and a 7.62mm machine gun. This all sounds good, but this is virtually the same gun that couldn’t penetrate an Abrams at 400 yards. The usual load is 36 rounds for the gun and five AT-8s.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
A Soviet T-80 tank with reactive armor. The tank performed poorly in the First Chechen War. (DOD photo)

The T-80 saw action in the First Chechen War — but woefully underperformed. As many as 200 tanks were lost in the city of Grozny alone. That didn’t stop the tank from being exported, however, especially as former Soviet republics fell into a cash crunch (South Korea even bought some).

Learn more about the mainstay of Russia’s task force in the video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mcxcvfy0OSQ
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SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

Officials in charge of equipping America’s top commando units are looking for some high-tech drugs to help boost the performance if their 150 “multi-purpose canines.”


According to news reports, U.S. Special Operations Command wants to find pharmaceutical products or nutritional supplements that will enhance canine hearing, eyesight and other senses.

Think of it as a “Q” for America’s four-legged special operators.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Military Working Dog Toby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

According to an official solicitation for the Performance Enhancing Drugs, SOCOM is looking for a product or combination of products that will do the following:

  • Increase endurance
  • Improve a dog’s ability to regulate body temperature
  • Improve hydration
  • Improve acclimatization to acute extremes in temperature, altitude, and/or time zone changes
  • Increase the speed of recovery from strenuous work
  • Improve hearing
  • Improve vision
  • Improve scent
  • Decrease adverse effects due to blood loss.

SOCOM’s military working dogs have been front and center on several top commando raids — with the most famous being Cairo, a Belgian Malinois who joined SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

SOCOM, though, is also looking to neutralize enemy K9s through what another solicitation calls “canine response inhibitors.”

Now, during the Vietnam War, the preferred “canine response inhibitor” was known as the “Hush Puppy.” But these days SOCOM is looking for some less permanent methods, including:

  • Inhibit barking, howling, and whining
  • Inhibit hearing
  • Inhibit vision
  • Inhibit scent
  • Induce unconsciousness
  • Induce movement away from the area where the effects are deployed

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julia A. Casper

Like the performance enhancers, the “canine response inhibitors” could also be used outside the military.

So, the company or companies that win the hearts and minds of SOCOM’s puppies could catch a huge break.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army will fire artillery and missiles from Navy ships

The Army and Navy are operating together in the Pacific to fire Army artillery from Navy ships, send targeting data to land weapons from Navy sensors, and use coastal land rockets to destroy enemy ships at sea, service leaders said.

“The Army is looking at shooting artillery off of Navy ships. Innovation is taking existing things and modifying them to do something new,” Maj. Gen. John Ferrari, Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation, G-8, told Warrior Maven in an interview.


Ongoing explorations of the now heavily emphasized Pentagon “cross-domain fires” strategy are currently taking on new applications through combined combat experiments in the Pacific theater. Ferrari explained that these experimental “teams” are combining air defense units, ground combat units, cyber units, and artillery units, and putting them together in operations.

“Part of what we do is integrate with the Navy. The Naval threat for the Pacific is one of the major threats, so the Army is doing multi-domain battle. The Pacific is inherently Joint. There is very little that we do that is not done with other services,” Ferrari said.

Much of the ongoing work involves integrating combat units which have historically operated in a more separated or “single-focused” fashion. Combing field artillery, a brigade headquarters, air defense, Navy assets, and ISR units into a single operation, for instance, represents the kind of experiments now underway.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Woody Paschall)

“Instead of having three battalions of artillery, you will have pieces of these things – then go out and use it,” Ferrari said.

Tactically speaking, firing precision artillery from surface ships could possibly introduce some interesting advantages. The Navy is now exploring weapons such as long-range precision-guided ammunition for its deck-mounted 5-inch guns, ship-fired offensive weapons such as the advanced Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), Maritime Tomahawk, and an over-the-horizon weapon for the Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate.

Something like an Army Tactical Missile Systems rocket, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or GPS-guided Excalibur 155m artillery does bring the possibility to supplement existing ship-fired Navy weapons systems. Tomahawk and LRASM, for instance, can fly lower and somewhat parallel to the surface to elude enemy defensive systems.

One senior US military official explained that bringing Army artillery to surface ships to compliment existing Navy weapons could bring new dimensions to the surface attack options available to commanders.

Artillery could also lend combat support to extensive layered defensive weapons on Navy ships such as SeaRAM, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, and Rolling Airframe Missile, among others. These interceptors, it seems, could be strengthened by the potential use of land-fired weapons on Navy ships.

“Mixing all presents multiple dilemmas for the enemy,” a senior official told Warrior.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
(Raytheon)

Much of this kind of experimentation will take the next step this coming summer at the upcoming Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, a joint, multi-national combat and interoperability exploration.

Navy commanders have been “all in” on this as well, previously using F-18s to identify targets for land weapons in exercises in recent years such as Noble Eagle in Alaska, senior military officials have described.

Along these lines, US Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris has consistently emphasized multi-domain operations in public speeches.

“I’d like to see the Army’s land forces sink a ship, shoot down a missile, and shoot down the aircraft that fired that missile – near simultaneously – in a complex environment where our joint, and combined forces are operating in each other’s domains,” Commander, US Pacific Command, said in 2017 at the Association of the United States Army LANPAC Symposium and Exposition.

During this same speech, Harris also said the Army will fire a Naval Strike Missile from land as part of the upcoming RIMPAC exercise.

Harris underscored the urgency of the US need for stronger multi-domain battle technology and tactics by telling the House Armed Services Committee early 2018 “China will surpass Russia as the world’s second largest Navy by 2020, when measured in terms of submarines and frigate-class ships.

As part of the cross-domain effort, the Army and Navy are looking at improving ways to connect their respective networks; Adm. Harris said “joint effects” in combat can be challenged by a lack of integration between different services’ “tactical ISR, target acquisition and fire control systems.”

For example the Navy’s integrated sensor network known as Cooperative Engagement Capability connects targeting and ISR nodes across the force. The emphasis now is to connect these kinds of systems with, for instance, Army weapons such as ground-fired Patriot missiles and Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense weapons.

In addition, the Army’s Integrated Battle Command Systems is itself a comparable combat theater sensor network where various radar, command and control and weapons “nodes” are networked to expedite real-time data sharing. Part of the maturation of this system, according to Army and Northrop Grumman developers, is to further extend IBCS to cue Air Force, and Navy assets operating in a given theater of operations.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fidel C. Hart)

One senior Army weapons developer told Warrior – “it’s about target acquisition and ranges. Maybe target acquisition comes from a ship and I do surface fires on land. We need to experiment with sensors.”

The advent of long-range sensors and precision fires on the part of potential near-peer adversaries has reinforced the need for the US military to operate in real time across air, sea and land domains. Furthermore, the emergence of converging newer domains, such as cyber, space and the electromagnetic sphere are naturally an indispensable element of cross-domain fires.

In an Army paper titled “Multi-Domain Battle: Evolution of Combined Arms for the 21st Century 2025-2040,” former TRADOC Commander Gen. David Perkins writes:

“It (Multi-Domain Battle) expands the targeting landscape based on the extended ranges and lethality delivered at range by integrated air defenses, cross-domain fire support, and cyber/electronic warfare systems. We must solve the physics of this expanded battle space, and understand the capabilities that each domain can provide in terms of echelon, speed, and reach.”

Perkins and other senior Pentagon strategists have explained Multi-Domain Battle as a modern extension of the Cold War AirLand Battle Strategy which sought to integrate air and ground attacks to counter a Soviet attack in Europe.

“AirLand Battle started developing the concept of ‘extended battlefield.’ Multi-Domain battle endeavors to integrate capabilities in such a way that to counteract one, the enemy must become more vulnerable to another, creating and exploiting temporary windows of advantage,’ Perkins writes in Multi-Domain Battle: Joint Combined Arms Concept for the 21st Century.

Army – Air Force

The Army and the Air Force are also launching a new, collaborative war-gaming operation to assess future combat scenarios and, ultimately, co-author a new inter-service cross-domain combat doctrine.

Operating within this concept, Perkins and Air Force Air Combat Command Commanding General James Holmes are launching a new series of tabletop exercises to replicate and explore future warfare scenarios – the kind of conflicts expected to require technologically advanced Army-Air Force integration.

In a Pentagon report, Holmes said the joint wargaming effort will “turn into a doctrine and concept that we can agree on.”

“The F-35 is doing ISR and could possibly deliver a weapon on the same flight. We can then use what they can generate on the ground, fusing sensors, and target acquisition with things that can deliver effects,” a senior defense official told Warrior.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This speedy missile gave bombers a lot of punch

In the late 1960s, the cancellation of the B-70 Valkyrie program and the retirement of the B-58 Hustler meant that the United States Air Force was likely to struggle with bypassing Soviet defenses. The FB-111 Switchblade was coming online to help address this gap in capabilities, but the plane’s production run was cut down to 76 airframes (from an originally planned 263) in 1969.

The US Air Force needed an answer — a fast one.


That answer came in the form of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile, or SRAM. The “short range” bit in the name, in this case, was relative. The AGM-69 SRAM had a maximum range of 100 miles. That’s considered “short” when compared with something like the AGM-28 Hound Dog (which had a 700-mile range). In theory, this weapon allowed B-52s or FB-111s to take on enemy air-defense sites.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

A training version of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile is loaded onto a B-1B Lancer. The B-1 could carry two dozen of these missiles.

(USAF photo by Technical Sgt. Kit Thompson)

Any air-defense site that drew the ire of a B-52 or FB-111 enough to require the use of a SRAM was in for some hurt. The SRAM packed a W69 thermonuclear warhead with a yield of 200 kilotons. A single AGM-69 sounds painful enough — the FB-111 could carry as many as six of these missiles. The B-52 could carry an even 20. By comparison, the legendary BUFF could only carry two AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missiles.

The AGM-69 entered service in 1972 and was widely deployed among Strategic Air Command units. This missile had a top speed of Mach 3 and weighed just under 2,300 pounds. The missile was 14-feet long and 17-and-a-half inches wide. Over 1,500 SRAMs were built.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

The AGM-69 could be carried in a rotary launcher inside the bomb bay of bombers like the B-52, or on pylons on the wings.

(USAF)

The missile served until 1990. It was retired after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The planned successor, the AGM-131 SRAM II, which would have had longer range (250 miles) and smaller size (under ten-and-a-half feet long and a little more than 15 inches across) was cancelled the following year.

Learn more about this essential, Cold War-era missile in the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUfEYhODsjg

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35 fighter is way too expensive, and the Pentagon is pissed

The Pentagon is taking a firmer grip of the F-35 budget-cutting controls in an attempt to trim down costs in the billion-dollar joint strike fighter program.


The Pentagon has determined that Lockheed Martin’s internal cost-cutting program — the Blueprint for Affordability — doesn’t go deep enough into the supply chain to smaller companies involved in building the F-35 Lightning II. The new effort to trim costs was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Oct. 9.

As a result, over the summer, the Pentagon’s F-35 program office decided not to agree to a contract extension with Lockheed and then last month simply awarded the company a $60 million contract to pursue additional efficiency measures that also gave the government more oversight, the newspaper reported.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
Photo from F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office

Using a contract instead of an agreement among the companies “provides the government with greater insights into the cost-saving efforts,” according to a statement from the Pentagon’s F-35 program office.

Often called the most expensive weapons program in US history, the F-35 is being assembled at the company’s sprawling Fort Worth plant. The Pentagon’s actions come after the defense industry giant hired hundreds of workers at big job fairs in Fort Worth this summer to prepare to increased production of the aircraft. Lockheed has said it plans to add 1,800 workers.

Earlier this year, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson told then-President-elect Trump that she was personally committed to drive down the cost of the F-35 program after Trump said it was “out of control.” He pledged to trim billions of dollars on military contracts once he was in office.

Lockheed doesn’t believe the Pentagon’s actions will impact its efforts to cut costs.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
CG-1, the ground test article for the Lockheed Martin F-35 carrier variant, is positioned for its final drop test at Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas, Tx. Photo courtesy of Vought Aircraft Industries

“The government’s decision to fund this next phase of cost-reduction initiatives is a testament to their confidence in our ability to deliver the cost savings, based on the success of the original Blueprint for Affordability projects,” Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s F-35 general manager, told the Wall Street Journal.

Lockheed and its industry partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems announced their plan in 2014 to trim costs by agreeing to invest $170 million over two years on new materials and processes, with Lockheed spending the most.

The Fort Worth plant employs about 14,000 workers, with roughly 8,800 working on the F-35. Hiring of additional workers will stretch out through 2020, company officials said. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and plans call for production to increase to about 160 a year by 2019.

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

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Here is a 360 degree view of Lockheed’s T-50A in flight

As you may have heard, the legendary T-38 Talon, which has been in service since 1961, is slated for replacement. GlobalSecurity.org notes that the T-X competition has apparently come down to a fight between Boeing and Saab on the one hand, and Lockheed and Korea Aerospace Industries on the other.


The Lockheed/KAI entry is the T-50A, a derivative of the South Korean T-50 “Golden Eagle.” According to Aeroflight.co.uk, KAI based the T-50 on the F-16, leveraging its experience building KF-16 Fighting Falcons under license from Lockheed. The result was a plane that has actually helped increase the readiness of South Korea’s air force, largely by reducing wear and tear on the F-16 fleet.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet
A ROKAF T-50 at the Singapore Air Show. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

FlightGlobal.com notes that South Korea already has about 100 T-50 variants in service. The plane is also in service with Iraq, Indonesia, and the Philippines, plus an export order from Thailand. The plane also comes in variants that include lead-in fighter trainer and a multi-role fighter (A-50 and FA-50).

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the T-50 has a range of 1,150 miles, a top speed of Mach 1.53, and can carry a variety of weapons on seven hardpoints, including AIM-9 Sidewinders on the wingtips, AGM-65 Mavericks, cluster bombs, rocket pods, and it also has a 20mm M61 cannon. The plane is equipped with an APG-67 radar as well.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

The T-X contract is big, with at least 450 planes to be purchased by the Air Force to replace 546 T-38s. But with how many countries that have the F-16 or will have the F-35 in their inventory, the contract could be much, much more.

So, take a look at what it is like to fly the T-50A.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

F-35 production may not begin for more than a year

It’s official: top Pentagon officials will not clear the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for full-rate production this year, after setbacks during a crucial testing phase.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord on Oct. 18, 2019, said officials may not sign off on the F-35 full-rate production milestone — a sign of confidence in the program to produce more fighter jets — until as far out as January 2021 because of the latest testing lapse.

“I’m going to make some decisions about when that full-rate production decision will be made shortly,” Lord said at a briefing at the Pentagon Oct. 18, 2019.


September 2019, it was revealed that the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 would not complete its already-delayed formal operational test phase by the new fall deadline due to a setback in the testing process.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

A combat-coded F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

Military.com first reported that while F-35 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOTE) was supposed to be complete by late summer, the testing was incomplete due to an unfinished phase known as the Joint Simulation Environment. The F-35 Joint Program Office and Pentagon at the time confirmed the delay.

“We are not making as quick progress on the Joint Simulation Environment integrating the F-35 into it,” Lord told reporters during the briefing. “It is a critical portion of IOTE,” she said, adding inspectors need to get JSE “absolutely correct” before further testing can be done.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense would be the authority to sign off on the decision, moving the program out of its low-rate initial production (LRIP) stage.

The JSE simulation projects characteristics such as weather, geography and range, allowing test pilots to prove the aircraft’s “full capabilities against the full range of required threats and scenarios,” according to a 2015 Director, Operational Test Evaluation (DOTE) report.

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

An F-35 Lightning II flies around the airspace of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 5, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro)

JPO spokeswoman Brandi Schiff in September said the JSE is in the process of integrating Lockheed’s “‘F-35 In-A-Box’ (FIAB) model, which is the simulation of F-35 sensor systems and the overall aircraft integration.” FIAB is the F-35 aircraft simulation that plugs into the JSE environment.

“This integration and the associated verification activities are lagging [behind] initial projections and delaying IOTE entry into the JSE,” Schiff said at the time.

Lockheed Martin originally proposed a Virtual Simulator program for this testing. But in 2015, the government instead opted to transition the work — which would become the JSE — to Naval Air Systems Command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

In December 2018, the JPO and Lockheed announced that all three F-35 variants belonging to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps would be field-tested “for the purposes of determining the weapons systems’ operational effectiveness and operational suitability for combat.”

The testing had originally been set to begin in September 2018.

IOTE paves the way for full-rate production of the Lightning II. Three U.S. services and multiple partner nations already fly the aircraft.

Some versions of the F-35 have even made their combat debut.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Marines want you to design their unmanned cargo system

In 2028, another major hurricane has struck Puerto Rico, causing utter devastation across the island. Buildings have collapsed, roads are damaged, and there have been reports of small scale flooding near the coast.

The Marines have been deployed as first responders to the island along with a fleet of GUNG HO (Ground-based Unmanned Go-between for Humanitarian Operations) robots have been to provide additional resources.


The ask

In this Challenge we are asking for you to visually design a concept for an Unmanned Cargo System that we are calling the Ground-based Unmanned Go-between for Humanitarian Operations or GUNG HO.

It should be a relatively small, cargo transport bot, that can be deployed easily, and is used for a variety of tasks across the Corps from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) scenarios to assisting with on-base logistics and beyond.

For this challenge the GUNG HO will be utilized to….

Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

The users

When developing your GUNG HO concept keep in mind that there are two very different users.

Operators: These are the users operating the device. They will almost exclusively be Marines who will load and secure cargo, and establish the destinations and mode of operations. In HADR situations, there is no single rank or job title that provides relief. The operators could be anyone who is available to help, and they may not have training on the system.

Receivers: These are the people who are receiving the cargo. Some of them will be Marines, but they will often be civilians.

In a disaster relief scenario the receivers may have just lost their home or family members, they might speak a different language and come from a different culture. The GUNG HO should make its intent absolutely clear, but should also come across as comforting and disarming for those in a traumatic situation.

Design principles

The following design principles have been created to help you as a designer get inspiration, provide some guidance and understand where the USMC is trying to go with this project.

  1. Understandable: Intuitive for users at every level of interaction from newly recruited marines, to civilian children and the elderly.
  2. Comforting: Those interacting with the GUNG HO might be in a traumatic situation, not speak english, or be unfamiliar with the technology. The cargo recipient should feel safe, comfortable, and compelled to interact with the GUNG HO.
  3. Unbreakable: The GUNG HO must be rugged and ready for anything just like a marine. It will be operated in a variety of terrain, air dropped into inaccessible locations, and fording water next to marines on foot.
  4. Simple: Easy to fix, easy to operate, and easy to upgrade.
  5. Original: With a broad variety of operators, recipients, and mostly importantly cargo, there is no standard form factor that the GUNG HO needs to take. Explore those boundaries!

Requirements

Dimensions and Capacity:

  • Footprint: 48″ x 40″ x 44″H (122 cm x 102 cm x 112 cm) – Shipped on a standard warehouse pallet
  • Cargo Capacity: 500lb (227 kg) or roughly half of a standard Palletized Container (PALCON).

Cargo

Cargo Examples & Specs

  • Water in Container: 8.01 ft^3 of (226.8 L) – 500 lbs equivalent.
  • Case of .5L Water Bottles: 10.2″ x 15.1″ x 8.3″ – 28.1 pounds
  • MRE Case: 15.5″ x 9″ x 11″ – 22.7lbs
  • Medical Supply Kit: Not Standardized

Additional Requirements

  • Operational speed: low speed, up to 25 miles per hour (40 KPH)
  • Range: 35 miles (56 KM)
  • Autonomous with manual control abilities. (Must be free-operating, no tethers)
  • Must be able to traverse the same area as Marines on foot, including– climbing a 60% vertical slope, operating on a minimum 40% side slope across varying terrain.
  • Must be able to cross a depth of water of 24 inches.
Slopes



Go check out the requirements for additional information.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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