Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The SR-71 Blackbird is an awesome plane. But did you know that it could have been even more awesome than it was? The Air Force was planning to make a fighter version of the plane.


Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that as the early iterations of the SR-71 were being designed, there was a need for an interceptor. The F-108 program had been cancelled due to its high cost. However, there was still a desire for a high-speed, long-range interceptor.

 

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
The YF-12A – a fighter version of the Blackbird capable of carrying four AIM-47 Falcon missiles. (USAF photo)

The A-12 OXCART being developed for the CIA was seen as a likely basis for a fighter. Lockheed’s Skunk Works team soon figured out how to add a powerful radar, the AN/ASG-18, capable of detecting targets from as far off as 500 miles in some cases, and four AIM-47 missiles.

The resulting plane was designated the YF-12, and three prototypes were built.

Designation-Systems.net notes that the AIM-47 had a range of over 100 miles and a speed of Mach 4. While a 250-ton W42 warhead never materialized for this missile, it did get a 100-pound high-explosive warhead.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
An AIM-47 Falcon being loaded into a YF-12. (USAF photo)

News of the the YF-12’s development was leaked in an effort to distract the public from the work being done to make a reconnaissance plane. But the plane – awesome as it was – would not ever see service due to the development of reliable inter-continental ballistic missiles.

The YF-12 would get a production order for 93 airframes from the Air Force. However, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara refused to release the funds, and the project ended up being halted at the three prototypes. Two were handed over to NASA for research flights. One of those crashed after a fuel line caught fire in 1971, with the crew ejecting from the stricken plane.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
A Fighter Squadron 211 (VF-211) F-14A Tomcat aircraft banks into a turn during a flight out of Naval Air Station, Miramar, Calif. The aircraft is carrying six AIM-54 Phoenix missiles.

 

The YF-12 will remain one of the biggest “could have been” planes in history. The jet still has a legacy – partially in the SR-71 Blackbird, but also in the form of the AWG-9 radar and AIM-54 Phoenix missiles used by the F-14 Tomcat. Even though this plane never got a chance to serve, it still did a lot for America’s military aviation development.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 4 most insane military tactics people actually used

There’s an old military saying that goes, “if it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.” As enlisted personnel rise through the ranks, they tend to encounter more and more questionable practices that somehow made their way into doctrine. This isn’t anything new. Most of the veterans reading this encountered at least one “WTF Moment” in their military careers. Few of these bizarre scenarios will get a troop wounded or worse.

Then there are the tactics that could mean the difference between life and death – and you have to wonder who decided to do things that way and why do they hate their junior enlisted troops so much? These are those tactics.


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

“Walking Fire” with the Browning Automatic Rifle

When introduced in the closing days of World War I, the Browning Automatic Rifle – or “B-A-R” – was introduced as a means to get American troops across the large, deadly gaps called “no man’s land” between the opposing trenches. The theory was that doughboys would use the BAR in a walking fire movement, slowly walking across the ground while firing the weapon from the hip.

Anyone who’s ever used an automatic weapon has probably figured out by now that slowly sauntering across no man’s land, shooting at anything that moves will run your ammo down before you ever get close to the enemy trench. It’s probably best to stay in your own trench, which is what the Americans ended up doing anyway.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Soviet Anti-Tank Suicide Dogs

The concept seems sound enough. In the 1930s, the USSR trained dogs to wear explosive vests and run under oncoming tanks. In combat, the dogs would then be detonated while near the tank’s soft underbelly. It seems like a good idea, right? Well, when it came time to use the dogs against Nazi tanks in World War II, the Soviets realized that training the dogs with Soviet tanks might have been a bad idea. The USSR’s tanks ran on diesel while the Wehrmacht’s ran on gasoline.

Soviet tank dogs, attracted to the smell of Soviet diesel fuel, ran under Soviet tanks instead of German tanks when unleashed, creating an explosives hazard for the Red Army tanks crews.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Flying Aircraft Carriers

In the interwar years, the U.S. military decided that airpower was indeed the wave of the military’s future, and decided to experiment with a way to get aircraft flying as fast as possible. For this, they developed helium airships that housed hangers to hold a number of different airplanes. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but it turns out the air isn’t as hospitable a place as the seas and flying, helium-borne craft aren’t as stable as a solid, steel ship on the waves.

After the two aircraft carriers the Navy built both crashed, and 75 troops were dead, the military decided to go another way with aircraft.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Prodders

In World War II, there wasn’t always a metal detector around. Sometimes, troops had to get down and dirty, literally. In areas where land mines were suspected, soldiers would get down on the ground, with their heads and bodies close to the ground and – without any kind of warning or hint of where mines might be, if there were any at all – poke into the ground at a 30-degree angle.

The angle helped avoid tripping the mines because the trigger mechanisms were usually located at the top of the mines. If the terrain was a bit looser, the mines could be raked up by the prodders instead.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why the most successful fighter pilots in history are all Nazis

When Erich “Bubi” Hartmann died in 1993, he was still the most successful fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare. With an astonishing 352 kills, his record is all but assured until World War III comes around. He’s not the only former Nazi Luftwaffe pilot whose name is at the top of the list. In fact, the top ten pilots on that list all have German names, including Gerhard Barkhorn (301 kills), Günther Rall (275), and Otto Kittel (267).

How did one of the most notably absent air forces in history rack up such impressive kill counts?


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Hint: They had to be good because their bosses were so bad at their jobs.

The reason German pilots scored so high is a combination of skill and time in the air. There’s probably also a dash of luck in there, if they managed to survive the war. Since the Luftwaffe saw its best successes at the beginning of the war, taking on obsolete and unprepared air forces in enemy countries, Nazi pilots were fighting for years before American pilots. When the war came home, the number of German pilots dwindled, and enemy targets over Germany rose.

A skilled pilot could rack up quite a kill count in that time, especially if they had to fight until the whole war was over, or they were killed or captured.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

And they did.

(U.S. Army)

In contrast, American pilots would be sent home, or rotated out after a certain amount of time spent in the air. At the height of World War II, allied fighter pilots were required to spend at least 200 hours behind the stick of a fighter aircraft before being eligible to be rotated home. American pilots dutifully fought the required amount of time and went home for some RR.

Even Richard Bong, the Army Air Forces’ highest-scoring ace – the “Ace of Aces” – scored 40 kills in the Pacific Theater from September 1942 until December 1944. His stay was extended because he was also training pilots in the Philippines. He ended up spending much longer in the area, leading missions and training pilots. Even though he wasn’t allowed to seek combat opportunities, Bong still racked up an astonishing 40 kills against the Japanese.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

It seems being one the top aces of any war is just a matter of time… and not getting shot down.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Exciting new technology improves veteran access to emergency care

Emergency stroke care for veterans continues to improve thanks to the expansion of VA’s National Telestroke Program, one of the first nationwide telestroke programs in the world.

The program was launched in 2017 to improve veteran access to stroke specialists.

“In just two short years, the VA National Telestroke Program has grown to provide acute stroke services in over 30 VA medical centers from coast to coast,” said Dr. Glenn Graham, VHA Deputy National Director of Neurology. “We’ve built an extraordinary team of over 20 stroke neurologists across the United States, united in their passion to improve the care of veterans in the first hours after stroke.


“We’ve developed new technological tools dedicated to the task, such as the Code Stroke mobile app, and have improved the consistency and quality of stroke care in VHA nationally.”

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious long-term disability. When it comes to stroke, time is brain! During a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute. Delaying treatment one-hour ages the brain 10 years.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Telestroke go-live training at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center.

Treatment of stroke with a clot-busting drug reverses the effects of a stroke and reduces long-term disability. Having a stroke neurologist readily available to guide treatment improves outcomes for stroke patients. However, emergency access to a stroke neurologist 24/7/365 is often limited. Telestroke solves this problem by using technology to bring a stroke neurologist to a patient’s bedside anywhere in the country in seconds.

In minutes, stroke victim talking to neurologist via video

The VA program uses an innovative approach to providing services by using low-cost, highly-reliable commercial technology: iPads. When a patient has stroke symptoms, the telestroke neurologist initiates a FaceTime video call to the iPad at the patient’s bedside and has a live conversation with the patient, caregiver, and on-site providers. The neurologist examines the patient, reviews the medical record, and guides treatment.

In the first two years of operation, the program has conducted over 1,000 emergency consults and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Specialty doctors, really good ones, are not able to be in every place at every time. We had a way to connect the doctor with me when I needed it,” said one veteran.

The program has attracted stroke neurologists from around the country. “It’s the ability to serve veterans in a new way and to serve veterans that otherwise wouldn’t get that care, bringing a new service to those areas. It’s been really gratifying,” said a VA telestroke neurologist.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

VA doctor survives stroke with help of VA Telestroke program he helped put in place.

The reach of the program will extend beyond VA with the upcoming worldwide release of the Code Stroke App. The VA-developed app scheduled for release this summer will be free to users worldwide. The app is designed to be used during a stroke code to reduce time-to-treatment by providing real-time information to all team members regardless of location.

“The Code Stroke app focuses on accelerating the episode of acute care by organizing and managing the repetitive aspects of care while providing decision support, structured interaction between neurologist and ICU/ER staff, and automatic documentation,” said William Cerniuk, Director of VA’s Mobile Program.

Need for quick expert decision is critical

“While our initial focus was on small, rural VA medical centers with little or no specialty care in neurology, it is clear that even large, urban VA hospitals can benefit from participating in the VA Telestroke Program,” said Dr. Graham. “This is really no surprise, as with the increase in stroke treatment options, the need for expert decision making at the bedside and without delay is greater than ever. I can imagine a time when all VAs not having a resident or attending neurologists in the hospital at all times will use telestroke to fill these gaps. There is much exciting room for growth, and much important work to be done.”

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone you are with shows any signs of a stroke, such as the abrupt onset of weakness, numbness, vision loss, difficulty speaking or understanding, or loss of coordination. Act FAST!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Navy picks names for its ships — and breaks its own rules

The Secretary of the Navy is in charge of naming US Navy ships, under the direction of the president and with the guidance of Congress.

But it’s not just a random choice; there have long been rules and traditions concerning how ships are named.

On Monday, the Congressional Research Service released a report on the current rules for naming ships recently obtained by the Navy and those that will be procured in the future. The report outlines the rules for naming ships for Congress, but the ultimate decision rests with the Secretary of the Navy, so of course there are exceptions.

In fact, the report says exceptions to the naming rules are as much a Navy tradition as the naming rules themselves.

Learn about the Navy’s ship-naming rules — and the exceptions — below.


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

An artist rendering of the future Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.

US Navy / DVIDS

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines will replace the Ohio-class, starting to patrol in 2031. The first submarine has been named Columbia for the District of Columbia, but the Navy hasn’t publicly stated what the rule for naming this submarine class will be.

The 12 submarines of the Columbia class are a shipbuilding priority. The Columbia-class Program Executive Office is on track to begin construction with USS Columbia (SSBN 826) in fiscal year 2021, deliver in fiscal year 2028, and on patrol in 2031.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut moored at US Fleet Activities Yokosuka for a port visit.

Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Dobbs / US Navy / DVIDS

The Navy doesn’t seem to have a rule for naming Seawolf-class attack submarines. The three submarines of this class still in service are the Seawolf, the Connecticut, and the Jimmy Carter — named for a fish, a state, and a president.

Designed to be the world’s quietest submarines, Seawolf-class submarines are one of the Navy’s most advanced undersea warfighting platforms, and unique among US submarines.

The Jimmy Carter now serves the same secretive purpose as the USS Parche, the US Navy’s most decorated warship.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The Virginia-class fast attack sub USS Hawaii sails by the battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Arizona Memorial while pulling into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 6, 2019.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki / US Navy / DVIDS

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) underway in the Indian Ocean prior to flight operations. The Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently on deployment to promote peace and stability and respond to emergent events overseas. USS Carl Vinson will end its deployment with a homeport shift to Norfolk, Va., and will conduct a three-year refuel and complex overhaul.

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Dusty Howell

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

USS Preble, USS Halsey, and USS Sampson underway behind the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Persian Gulf, March 24, 2018.

US Navy

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Montgomery at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tristin Barth / US Navy / DVIDS

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

USS Boxer (LHD 4) prepares to launch Australian S-70A Blackhawks during flight operations in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2005.

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class James F. Bartels

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The amphibious transport dock ships USS San Antonio and USS New York underway together in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, June 9, 2011.

US Navy

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

A graphic representation of a future U.S. Military Sealift Command John Lewis-class oiler.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Armando Gonzales

John Lewis-class oilers will be named for civil-rights and human-rights activists, like Lewis himself.

Some of the Navy’s Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ships are named for civil-rights leaders, like Cesar Chavez, too, although the rule is to name them for explorers.

Lewis, who fought for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and is now a member of Congress, attended the keel-laying of his namesake oiler earlier this year.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City arrives in Sekondi, Ghana, in support of its Africa Partnership Station deployment, July 21, 2019.

John McAninley / US Navy / DVIDS

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

USNS John Glenn underway off the California coast, January 9, 2014

US Navy

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

An artist rendering of the future USNS Navajo (T-TATS 6), February 15, 2019.

US Navy photo illustration

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

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?

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

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.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

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.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

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.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

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

The Cyclone-class patrol craft is the Navy’s smallest warship

Gigantic warships equipped with massive amounts of firepower, like Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Nimitz-class carriers, immediately spring to mind when we think “United States Navy.” But not every ship in service is a seafaring behemoth — in fact, cyclone vessels are quite small.

The smallest warships in U.S. Navy service are Cyclone-class patrol craft. The Navy acquired 14 of these ships for special operations work in the 1990s. These small vessels weigh roughly 288 tons, have a crew of 28 personnel, and can hold either nine SEALs or a six-man Coast Guard law-enforcement detachment.


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Two Cyclones operate in a joint Navy-Coast Guard exercise.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey)

These ships are roughly 178 feet long and have a top speed of 35 knots. They also pack a punch. Cyclones are equipped with two 25mm Bushmaster chain guns and a mix of M2 .50-caliber machine guns, 7.62mm machine guns, and Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers. The ships also can carry the FIM-92 Stinger for air defense.

In some cases, even these tiny ships are too big for special operations work. So for those select missions, Cyclones carry rigid-hull inflatable craft and two combat rubber raiding craft, operated with either a hydraulic lift or a stern ramp. To date, these ships have seen a good amount of action in the Persian Gulf and in the Caribbean.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

USS Zephyr (PC 8) catches up to a drug-smuggling go-fast. While the Cyclone-class ships were intended to support special operations, they also can support the Coast Guard.

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The Navy handed down the lead ship of the class, the former USS Cyclone (PC 1), to the Philippine Navy, where it’s still in active service. Five of these ships served with the Coast Guard for a few years before being returned to the Navy. These vessels are slated to be replaced by the Littoral Combat Ship in the near future.

Learn more about these small Navy vessels that prove that size doesn’t equal strength in the video below!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This squid-like underwater drone will blow up warships

An underwater drone which moves like a squid and can explode on command was one of the stranger weapons on display at a massive arms fair in London.

The device, named the Sea Hunting Autonomous Reconnaissance Drone (SHARD), is being marketed by the Australian arms manufacturer DefendTex.

It was one of many exhibits at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) show, which is running this week in east London’s Docklands.


One was on display bobbing up and down in a tank, moving with its tentacle-like legs. Here is a video:

DefendTex staff told Business Insider that the drones are meant to float unassumingly in the sea, and are purposefully designed to look like squid as a type of camouflage.

The drones are meant to attach themselves to passing enemy vessels. They can then be detonated remotely by their operators. Each one can act by itself or as a swarm with others.

DefendTex said the drones swim using a motor, and can recharge by sinking to the ocean floor, attaching themselves to rocks, and allowing ocean currents to rotate and internal motor which charges the battery.

The drones are meant to be used in Anti-Submarine Warfare missions or Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, according to DefendTex.

The project is still in development, and is not yet on sale.

DSEI is the UK’s largest arms fair, attracting representatives from the world’s 50 largest militaries, who come to view the latest defense and intelligence technology.

Over 1,600 manufacturers attend the event, which in 2019 is at London’s ExCel center.

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

Articles

The Navy is testing a drone to hunt the world’s quietest subs

The US Navy is currently testing a robotic ship that would be able to autonomously hunt enemy diesel submarines.


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
Photo: Darpa.mil

Originally conceived as a DARPA project, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) is designed to hunt the next generation of nearly silent enemy diesel submarines.

Diesel submarines are quickly proliferating around the world due to their low cost. Russia recently announced that it has launched the world’s “quietest submarine.”

To accomplish its submarine-hunting mission, the ACTUV project is structured around three primary goals: the ability to outmatch diesel submarines in speed at significantly less cost than existing systems, the system’s ability to safely navigate the oceans in accordance with maritime law, and the ability to accurately track diesel submarines regardless of their location.

Tests of the ACTUV have been promising. Defense One reported in March that during six weeks of testing off the coast of Mississippi the ACTUV was capable of autonomously avoiding randomly moving vessels while navigating around natural obstacles.

The next major test for the ACTUV will be having the drone attempt to trail a submarine while other vessels attempt to block it.

Although diesel submarines are not capable of carrying out open ocean operations for as long or as quickly as nuclear submarines, diesel submarines still present the US with an asymmetric challenge. Significantly cheaper and more quiet-running than their nuclear counterparts, diesel subs can enable navies around the world to harass military and civilian transport along coastal routes.

The threat of diesel submarines could increase, as Franz-Stefan Gady notes at The Diplomat, as the next generation of these vessels will feature propulsion systems and lithium-ion batteries, making them even quieter and harder to detect.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Russian International News Agency (RIA Novosti)

The technical challenges are steep: “Picking up the quiet hum of a battery-powered, diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” Rear Admiral Frank Drennan said in March 2015.

By creating the ACTUV, the US Navy will be able to more accurately track the proliferation of enemy diesel submarines. The transition to using drones for such missions will also ultimately save the Navy considerable resources and manpower.

“Instead of chasing down these submarines and trying to keep track of them with expensive nuclear powered-submarines, which is the way we do it now, we want to try and build this at significantly reduced cost,” DARPA program manager Ellison Urban said at a National Defense Associate Event in Virginia.

“It will be able to transit by itself across thousands of kilometers of ocean and it can deploy for months at a time. It can go out, find a diesel-electric submarine and just ping on it.”

More from Business Insider:

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

NOW: There’s going to a ‘Top Gun 2’ – with drones

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Paratroopers get new platform for rapidly deploying equipment

Members of the 900th Contracting Battalion played a key role in revolutionizing the future of airborne operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the Aug. 10, 2018 contract award for the Caster Assisted A-Series Delivery System.

In recent years, the 900th CBN embedded soldiers from its 639th Contracting Team into the 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters to better support their customer.

“The 639th CT is embedded with 82nd Airborne Division and remains empowered to prudently apply their contracting support expertise to help meet mission readiness,” said Lt. Col. Jason Miles, deputy director of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Bragg contracting office and 900th CBN commander.


The Caster Assisted A-Series Delivery System, or CAADS, is a new door bundle dolly system that has been in development and testing since early 2018. Modeled after a similar door bundle system used by French airborne forces, CAADS is specifically designed to increase the number of door bundles that can be rapidly deployed from a DOD transit aircraft while reducing deployment time. The 82nd AD spearheaded the successful testing, and on June 5 interim airdrop rigging procedures and training manuals were published for the innovative system.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Capt. Colton Crawford and Capt. Lesley Thomas conduct a technical inspection of the Caster Assisted A-Series Delivery System at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as representatives from Carolina Material Handling Inc. look on.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Gunn)

“The acquisition of the Caster Assisted A-series Delivery Systems for the 82nd Airborne Division will help reduce jumper fatigue as well as triple the amount of supplies and equipment on a drop zone simultaneously with paratroopers exiting an aircraft” said Capt. Colton Crawford, 82nd AD parachute officer.

Equally impressive as the testing was the procurement process. The 639th CT was able to award a contract for the delivery of more than 948 units in less than 14 days after receipt of a funded purchase request. Fully involved in the acquisition planning since late 2017, the contracting team was able to conduct extensive market research and find a number of responsible vendors able meet the requirements the division.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Capt. Colton Crawford, third from right, discusses specifications with Cape Terrell during a technical inspection of the Caster Assisted A-Series Delivery System at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Gunn)

“The 639th Contracting Team and the Acquisition Corps seem to have a unique skill to increase readiness on demand. They are paramount to meeting the Army’s ability to ‘fight tonight and win,'” Crawford added.

As the first samples are delivered and inspected for quality assurance by division parachute riggers, the 82nd AD moves onto the next operation armed with increased delivery capabilities.

“It is always impactful when a requirement you’ve been working on for months satisfies the customers’ needs and directly impacts the mission,” said Capt. Lesley Thomas, a contract management officer for the 639th CT.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Contracting Soldiers from the 639th Contracting Team were joined by members of the 82nd Airborne Division and 82nd AD Sustainment Brigade as well as vendor representatives from Carolina Material Handling Inc. to conduct a technical inspection of the Caster Assisted A-Series Delivery System at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Gunn)


About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. The command is made up of two contracting support brigades, two field directorates, 30 contracting offices and nine battalions. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is what happens when you put lasers on rockets

The AGM-114 Hellfire has been a lethal anti-tank missile, and it’s also been used to make a bunch of terrorists good terrorists, according to one of William F. Halsey’s more Mattis-esque statements. But the 20-pound warhead on the Hellfire can be too much of a bang.


How that perceived problem was solved was to put laser guidance onto a smaller missile. Lockheed Martin has done just that with a program called DAGR, which you can best describe as what happens nine months after a Hydra rocket and a Hellfire hooked up.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
The key to making a Hydra a mini-Hellfire is here. (Lockheed Graphic)

According to an e-brochure sent by Lockheed Martin, DAGR used the rocket and warhead of the Hydra, and mated it with the laser-seeker technology of the Hellfire. This creates a missile with a range of up to seven and a half miles, but also has a 10-pound warhead that the laser guidance can put within three feet of a target. Okay, not as big a boom, but would you want to stand next to ten pounds of high explosives detonating?

Lockheed notes that this system is not only cheaper, but that it can hit high-value targets and minimize collateral damage. Since it works like the Hellfire, it can be used on any aircraft, helicopter, or drone that can use the Hellfire.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
The quantitative edge that DAGR provides for a AH-6 or OH-58 is obvious. (Lockheed Graphic)

The DAGR can be fired from modified Hydra rocket pods, but the system also can be used from a specialized launcher that holds four rounds. Each of these missiles comes in at 36 pounds, and is 75 inches long.

You can see a video about DAGR below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This helicopter will be the new Marine One

For a long time, “Marine One” has been the call sign for any U.S. Marine Corps aircraft that carries the President of the United States. Since 1978, two helicopters from Sikorsky, the VH-3D Sea King and the VH-60N White Hawk, have fulfilled this role.


As you can imagine, these choppers are getting up there in years. So, in the 2000s, the Marines ran a competition, called VXX, to replace the VH-3 and VH-60. Two helicopters were in competition for the gig: Lockheed teamed up with AgustaWestland (who built the Sea King in the United Kingdom) to produce a variant of the EH101/Merlin helicopter called the VH-71 while Sikorsky offered up a specialized version of its S-92.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
The Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King is the primary helicopter used as Marine One. (USMC photo)

Lockheed won that contract, but the VH-71 took a lot longer than expected to figure out. The complications kept mounting and the price kept climbing and, eventually, the Obama Administration put the VXX program on the chopping block. The need for a new presidential chopper remained unsatisfied.

Almost immediately, the DOD gathered suitors for another competition and tried again. In the second round, the Sikorsky S-92 won out. Primarily because the other two competitors, a team of Northrop Grumman and AgustaWestland (offering the Merlin again) and a Bell-Boeing team (offering the V-22 Osprey), elected to drop out of the competition. HMX-1 “Nighthawks,” who typically operate Marine One, will be equipped with 21 S-92 airframes by 2023.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?
The S-92 is used by a number of civilian and government agencies, including the British Coast Guard. (Photo from Sikorsky via Lockheed)

The S-92 has seen some export orders, often for civilian use, but the Canadian Forces (as the CH-148 Cyclone), Republic of Korea Air Force, and the Kuwaiti Air Force all use it. The baseline S-92 has a crew of 3, a top speed of 190 miles per hour, a range of 621 miles, and can carry up to 22 passengers.

Learn more about the new Marine One in the video below.

 

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

High-tech body armor of the future could come from spider butts

The silk spiders produce is tougher than Kevlar and more flexible than nylon, and Air Force researchers think it could be key to creating new materials that take the load and heat off troops in the field.

Scientists at the Air Force Research Lab and Purdue University have been examining natural silk to get a sense of its ability to regulate temperature — silk can drop 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit through passive, radiative cooling, which means radiating more heat than it absorbs, according to an Air Force news release.


Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Spc. Arielle Mailloux gets some help adjusting her protoype Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest from Capt. Lindsey Pawlowski, Aug. 21, 2012, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

(US Army photo by Megan Locke Simpson)

Those researchers want to apply that property to synthetics, like artificial spider silk, which is stronger than Kevlar, the polymer typically used in body armor, and more flexible than nylon.

Enhancing body armor and adding comfort for troops is one of many improvements hoped for by a team led by Dr. Augustine Urbas, a researcher in the Functional Materials Division of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.

“Understanding natural silk will enable us to engineer multifunctional fibers with exponential possibilities. The ultra-strong fibers outperform the mechanical characteristics of many synthetic materials as well as steel,” Urbas said in the release. “These materials could be the future in comfort and strength in body armor and parachute material for the warfighter.”

In addition to making flexible, cooler body armor, the material could also be used to make tents that keep occupants cooler as well as parachutes that can carry heavier loads.

Artificial spider silk may initially cost double what Kevlar does, but its light weight, strength, flexibility, and potential for other uses make it more appealing, according to the release.

Air Force researchers are also looking at Fibroin, a silk protein produced by silkworms, to create materials that can reflect, absorb, focus, or split light under different circumstances.

It’s not the military’s first attempt to shake up its body armor with natural or synthetic substances.

Could the SR-71 Blackbird have been a fighter plane?

Maj. James Pelland, team lead for Marine Corps Systems Command’s Individual Armor Team, jumps over a log to demonstrate the mobility provided by a prototype Modular Scalable Vest, the next generation body armor for the Marine Corps.

(USMC photo by Monique Randolph)

Two years ago, the Army said it was looking into using genetically modified silkworms to create a tough, elastic fiber known as Dragon Silk.

Dr. James Zheng, chief scientist for project manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, told Army Times at the time that while the Army is developing and testing material solutions all the time, “Mother Nature has created and optimized many extraordinary materials.”

At the end of 2016, then-Air Force Academy cadet Hayley Weir and her adviser, professor Ryan Burke, successfully tested a kind of viscous substance that could be used to enhance existing body armor. Weir did not reveal the formula for the substance, but she used plastic utensils and a KitchenAid mixer to whip up the gravy-like goo, placing it in vacuum-sealed bags and flattened into quarter-inch layers.

The material was designed to be lighter than standard Kevlar and offer more flexibility for the wearer. During tests, when struck by bullets, the gooey material absorbed the impact and stopped the bullets.

“Like Under Armour, for real,” Weir told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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

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