The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, who is the Army Chief of Staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force, visited the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center Feb. 28, 2018 on behalf of Army senior leadership.


There are currently three active duty Army astronauts who are assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s NASA detachment — Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan, Maj. Anne McClain, and Maj. Frank Rubio (astronaut candidate).

Also read: Mercury 13: The first female astronaut candidates that time forgot

These Soldiers help the Army define its requirements for the space program and enhance the Army’s use of space capabilities.

Morgan, the detachment commander who is assigned for his first mission to the International Space Station in 2019, said it was a real honor for the sergeant major of the Army, or SMA, to take the time to visit them in Houston.

“It’s rare for such a senior member of the Army leadership team to come down to Johnson Space Center to see what we do,” said Morgan. “The SMA told us he wanted to get to every place on the planet that Soldiers serve — off the planet is a little tougher; we can’t get him to the International Space Station. But we were able to give him a detailed tour of the facilities where astronauts train and see Army astronauts at work supporting human spaceflight and training for upcoming missions. The SMA is excited for our mission and anxious to share the story of Army astronauts and how space Soldiers serve our nation’s human spaceflight program.”

During his visit, the SMA was given a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, which NASA uses not only for astronaut training and the refinement of spacewalk procedures, but also to develop flight procedures and verify hardware compatibility — all of which are necessary to achieve mission success.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
Retired Army Col. Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut, describes some of the features of the T-38 jet which is used to train astronauts for spaceflight. (U.S. Army photo by Ms. Dottie K. White)

He also went to Ellington Field, where the primary function is to train astronauts for spaceflight; the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, here the mission is to provide world-class training for space flight crews and their support personnel; and the mission control center, where flight controllers keep a constant watch on the ISS crew’s activities and monitor spacecraft systems, crew health and safety as they check every system to ensure operations proceed as planned.

Related: Army veteran and comic favorite of Mercury astronauts Bill Dana dies at 92

Dailey said there were a couple of reasons for his visit.

“First of all, these are Soldiers,” he said. “They belong to the United States Army. We have Soldiers everywhere. They’re out in the world. It’s our job to go out there and see the great things that our Soldiers are doing.”

“The second reason is to highlight the importance of the fact that we have Soldier astronauts, and that is amazing even to me,” Dailey continued. “I’m the sergeant major of the Army. I’ve been in the Army a long time. And that’s amazing to me, and it just shows the great contributions that Soldiers are doing from the edge of the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan to outer space. Is that unbelievable or what?”

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey discusses human spaceflight with Army astronauts (from left) Maj. Frank Rubio, Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan and Maj. Anne McClain during his visit to the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Ms. Dottie K. White)

“And the third reason is to show our support from the senior leadership perspective,” he added. “There are only three Army astronauts down here right now. They’re just as important as the other 1.18 million Soldiers we have everywhere else in the world. And they deserve that level of attention from the senior leadership of the Army and they deserve that appreciation because every single one of them has worked extremely hard to get here.”

Morgan highlighted the fact that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers regardless of rank.

More: This is what happens when astronauts see Earth from space for the first time

“The sergeant major of the Army represents the senior Army Soldier, and the officers and astronauts of the NASA detachment consider themselves Soldiers first,” said Morgan. “The message that we really want to get out there is that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers. We don’t have a selection very often, maybe once every four years or so, but I want to emphasize that, while there are requirements to apply, rank is not one of them. We take all types. One thing that we’ve proven over and over again is that good Soldiers make good astronauts.”

McClain, who is scheduled for her first mission to the ISS in November 2017, said it was a real privilege to have the SMA visit.

“It’s not often that we can host guests from the Army,” McClain said. “We love showing the Army what we do. We’re very proud of our unit, so to have someone like the SMA who really has the ability to share with others what we’re doing and just seeing his genuine concern for the Soldiers down here is a real honor. It’s been really fun to show him around.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle is based on the Chevy Colorado

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Army selected GM’s submission for the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. Beating out submissions from a joint Oshkosh Defense-Flyer Defense team and an SAIC-Polaris partnership, GM has been awarded a $214M contract to build 649 of the new ISVs over the next five years. Additionally, the Army has already been approved to acquire 2,065 of the new trucks over the next decade.

In 2003, GM sold its defense division to General Dynamics for $1.1B. In 2017, GM saw renewed opportunity in adapting its civilian vehicles for the defense market and created the subsidiary GM Defense. In 2019, GM Defense became a finalist in the Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle procurement competition along with the two aforementioned teams. The three teams were given $1M to build two prototypes of their proposed vehicle which were tested and evaluated at Aberdeen Test Center, Maryland and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

(Left to right) SAIC-Polaris DAGOR, Oshkosh-Flyer Defense GMV, and GM Defense ISV concepts (Photo from NationalDefenseMagazine.org)

Contract specifications called for the ISV to weigh no more than 5,000, carry nine soldiers and their gear at highway speeds in extreme conditions both on and off-road, capable of being slung under a UH-60 Blackhawk, and fit inside of a CH-47 Chinook. To meet these requirements, GM Defense based its design on the popular Chevrolet Colorado and its ZR2 and ZR2 Bison variants.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Chevy’s popular midsize truck, the Colorado ZR2 (Photo by Chevrolet)

The ISV is powered by a 2.8L 4-cylinder Duramax diesel engine that produces “significantly more power than the Colorado ZR2 known for delivering 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque,” mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission according to the GM Defense ISV product sheet.

Overall, the ISV retains much of the DNA of the Colorado variants it is based on, featuring 70% off-the-shelf components. “The chassis — which is the frame, the suspension, driveline, engine, transmission, transfer case, axles, brakes — all of that hardware comes from the Colorado ZR2,” said GM Defense Chief Engineer Mark Dickens. “Somebody could walk into a Chevy dealership and purchase those parts.”

Per the Army’s specifications, the ISV seats nine soldiers: two in the front, three in the second row, two rear-facing seats in a third row, and two outward-facing seats in a fourth row. Gear is stowed between the third and fourth rows, strapped to webbing that acts as the roof over the roll cage cabin, or slung from the roll cage itself.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

The ISV on display at the 2019 SEMA Show (Photo from GMAuthority.com)

In addition to the Army contract, GM Defense President David Albritton told Detroit Free Press that, “[The ISV] platform can be used for international sales to other militaries, other government agencies like Border Patrol, the Marine Corps, Air Force and Special Forces,” since future variants, “would be a totally different design.”

The ISV follows a trend that the military is setting of purchasing readily-available commercial technology for tactical use. On June 5, 2020, Polaris was awarded a 9M contract to supply USSOCOM with its MRZR Alpha Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle. The LT-ATV is a redesigned Polaris RZR that has been in use with the Army’s light infantry units like the 82nd Airborne Division and 10th Mountain Division.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

10th Mountain LT-ATVs (left) alongside a Humvee and an LMTV flanked by 2 M-ATVs

(Photo by author)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This company has just developed ammo that can hunt drones

Let’s face it. Enemy troops behind cover can be a real pain. In fact, someone was gonna have to root them out. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, thanks to new ammunition coming from Nammo.


The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
A drone that was shot down by some of Nammo’s programmable ammo rounds. (Photo from Nammo)

According to a report by Soldier Systems, this programmable ammo is available for a variety of weapon systems, including 40mm grenades from rifle-mounted grenade launchers or automatic grenade launchers like the Mk 19, the 66mm rockets used in the M72 Light Antitank Weapon, the 120mm guns used on the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, and the 30mm chain gun used on some U.S. Navy ships and the M1296 Dragoon infantry fighting vehicle.

However, Nammo has also reported that the programmable ammo may also be able to deal with enemy drones. This is a huge development, given that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria made use of drones as a means to deliver improvised explosive devices. As a result, friendly troops could be that much safer (if not completely safe) on the battlefield.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
The XM25 fires a programmable airburst 25mm smart round. It proved itself in Afghanistan, but it was placed on hold. (US Army photo)

Nammo is displaying some of the programmable ammo at the Defence and Security Equipment International show in London this week. In a release, Nammo claimed that its 40mm grenade has been combat proven. Nammo also stated that the use of programmable ammunition against drones would reduce collateral damage or damage from stray rounds.

Programmable ammo was used as part of the XM25 Punisher weapon system, a semi-automatic 25mm grenade launcher which proved itself in Afghanistan before being placed on hold. ModernFirearms.net notes that the XM25 had a range of up to 700 meters against area targets, and had a six-shot magazine.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Tempest: Everything we know about the UK’s 6th-gen fighter

Last week, the Royal Air Force Capabilities Office and the branch’s Team Tempest held a virtual briefing to provide updates regarding their forthcoming 6th generation fighter dubbed “Tempest.” Along with industry updates and discussion about the program’s progress, the UK’s Ministry of Defence also revealed a new artist’s rendering of the new fighter (shown above).

Team Tempest includes a laundry list of defense contractors who are currently working on facets of the forthcoming aircraft, and they’ve made some lofy claims about what this new fighter will be able to do. Industry partners involved in the program include BAE Systems (the aircraft lead), Rolls-Royce, Leonardo, and MBDA.

“We have been a world leader in the combat air sector for a century, with an enviable array of skills and technology, and this Strategy makes clear that we are determined to make sure it stays that way. It shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future – and this concept model is just a glimpse into what the future could look like,” UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

Like the U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance program (NGAD), the Tempest aims to leapfrog the capabilities offered by the world’s most advanced fighter jets in operation today–5th generation fighters like the F-35, F-22, J-20, and Su-57. However, the leap from the 5th to 6th generation is more about marketing than it is about function. Generational designations are effectively just industry shorthand to describe the design and production process that went into a platform.

While there are no formal requirements for the informal title of “6th generation” fighter, there are a number of assumptions defense experts have made regarding the capabilities such a jet would need to bring to the table. You can read a more thorough breakdown of those capabilities in our analysis of the 6th generation of fighters here. In the interest of brevity, some anticipated capabilities include the use of artificial intelligence to assist the pilot, the ability to manage drones in support of the fighter, and all the advancements that came along in the 5th generation, including stealth and data fusion.

According to this graphic created by BAE Systems, the Tempest promises to meet each of those requirements.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

“Tempest is one of the UK’s most ambitious technological endeavours and designed to deliver a highly advanced, adaptable combat air system to come into service from the mid-2030s. This next generation combat aircraft, which forms part of a wider combat air system, will exploit new technologies as they evolve to respond to the changing nature of the battlespace, addressing increasingly high-tech and complex threats and conflict.”

-UK Ministry of Defence statement

In order to build upon the data fusion success of flying supercomputers like the F-35, Tempest’s project lead for electronics and avionics Leonardo has been developing a new Multi-Function Radar Frequency System specifically for the new fighter.

This system will leverage massive amounts of computing power to collect and process a claimed 10,000 times the data of existing radar systems. As Leonardo puts it, the Tempest will be able to gather and process the “equivalent to the internet traffic of a large city every second,” offering its pilot a positively unmatched degree of situational awareness. If the F-35 is considered a “quarterback in the sky,” Leonardo hopes to make the Tempest into an offensive coordinator.

In keeping with that breadth of awareness, BAE aims to create what would effectively be a virtual cockpit pilots will use in conjunction with a similar augmented reality interface to that of the F-35. Pilots would be able to customize every facet of the cockpit around them, using digital switches that can be rapidly re-mapped to serve different roles. The helmet interface and heads up display would allow the pilot to place the information they need where they can use it most.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
(BAE Systems)

Not to be outdone, Rolls Royce is working on a new propulsion system that will burn hotter than previous engines. These new engines are expected to be more efficient and powerful that past iterations, creating the significant power spurless Tempest will need to leverage directed energy weapons that are likely to come. The aircraft’s heat dissipation will also be manageable, according to BAE, so pilots can prioritize capability over stealth, or vice versa.

And like the U.S. Air Force’s Skyborg program, Australia and Boeing’s Loyal Wingman, or Russia’s recent efforts to pair their Su-57 with the Hunter UCAV, the Tempest will be designed to operate with its own flock of drones. These drones will extend the Tempest’s sensor reach, engage targets on the pilot’s behalf, and potentially even sacrifice themselves to save the crewed aircraft from inbound attack.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
(Royal Air Force)

All that is to say that the Tempest has made some big promises, though arguably no bigger than those of the U.S., China, or Russia’s 6th generation fight programs. The question will really be, who will be able to deliver these new capabilities first, and ultimately, who will do it best?

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

New PD-100 black hornet nano-drones can fit in the palm of your hand

The new PD-100 black hornet nano-drone has made its way into the Australian Army in a very big way. It is mainly utilized as a small range, inconspicuous recon drone. However, it is essentially the first of its kind, and the possibilities are endless.


The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Not too shabby for a drone the size of a matchbox

(reddit user /u/harriharris)

These little dudes have been assisting in recon training with the Australian Army. Apparently, they are much quieter than their larger drone counterparts. This, coupled with the tiny size, makes them a perfect match for covert recon. They can also snap some really crisp pictures for a micro-drone.

This makes them a logical improvement from the already tremendously effective “instanteye” being used by forces today. The instanteye has a lackluster battery and picture resolution, but can still be advantageous for getting an idea of the enemy’s position from a safe distance. The PD-100 black hornet improves on this with a much smaller, quieter, design.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

A previous generation of the “instanteye”

The thought of spawning hundreds of these little dudes all over a battlefield, essentially giving commanders a fully comprehensive and detailed view of the battlefield, could change the way battle tactics evolve alongside nano-technology.

This brings to mind sci-fi visions of Ed Harris in “The Truman Show” overseeing every single detail in a massive landscape, pulling every tiny string perfectly. Now couple that with tactical genius in a real-world setting, and it’s not too far of a logical jump to consider the combat effects.

Another interesting implication to consider with these little marvels is their offensive capabilities. What if one of these was armed with high explosives and controlled remotely to be deadly accurate? Now consider that possibility, but with a swarm of dozens of them — or hundreds.

US Military Released Micro Drone Swarm From FA 18 Super Hornet Jet…

www.youtube.com

Here is a video of a micro-drone 9 (albeit, larger than the PD-100 black hornets) swarm being released by some F-18s.

Imagine those, but smaller, strapped and readied with high explosives, each controlled remotely by some military equivalent to a professional gamer. The quiet PD-100 black hornet certainly poses some interesting implications.

As of now, the biggest limitation of this technology is its battery life. It is estimated at somewhere between 30-60 minutes. This is somewhat of a far cry from its larger drone counterpart, the RQ-11b Raven (which is estimated at about 60-90 minutes).

Still, even with its limited battery life and the obvious problems that could arise for a small drone in heavy winds — the PD-100 seems to be dipping its tiny little toes into the water of the world of evolved combat. Time will tell if military tech will continue to go bigger, by getting smaller.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how a Marine sniper earns a real ‘HOG’s tooth’

When a newly-minted Marine Corps Scout Sniper graduates from the sniper school where they learn their trade, they will be presented with a 7.62 round, the ammunition commonly used by the Marines’ elite scout sniper corps. But earning the actual HOGs Tooth is a much, more difficult task – because a Marine will be squaring off against another sniper looking for a HOGs Tooth of his (or her) own.


The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Before graduating sniper school, Marines are called “PIGs” – professionally instructed gunmen.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos)

Before we all drown in Facebook comments, let it be known that the point of this isn’t to make one tradition seem greater or more badass than the other. We’re talking about two different traditions that just have similar superstitious origins. It was once said there was a round out there destined to end the life of any sniper – the bullet with your name on it. The idea behind the HOG’s Tooth is that if anyone could acquire the bullet with their name on it, they would be invincible.

For a sniper to acquire the tooth of a “Hunter Of Gunmen,” a sniper must go through three steps, each more difficult than the last. The first step is to become an actual sniper, not just someone who’s really good at shooting. This means snipers need to go through a sniper school and deploy to an active combat zone. Don’t worry, deploying to a combat zone definitely won’t take long.

The third step is a doozy.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Candidates for Scout Sniper Platoon dig deep to complete the two-week preparation course.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long)

The third step to getting that HOG’s Tooth trophy actually has a few sub-steps. It starts with forcing a duel against another sniper (preferably an enemy). Once a sniper defeats an enemy sniper in sniper-on-sniper combat, they must then make it over to the enemy position where they will hopefully find the scene undisturbed. This will likely be difficult because they’re supposed to be in hostile territory. If they get there before anyone else, they should capture the enemy’s rifle. But more important to the trophy process is capturing what’s in that rifle: the round in the chamber.

That round is the “bullet with your name on it.”

If a sniper captures this bullet, superstition says, that sniper cannot be killed by gunfire on the battlefield because no one there has the bullet that is destined to kill them. Separate the bullet from the cartridge and use 550-cord or some other tried-and-true stringing method and feel free to use the round as a necklace. The bullet meant for you will always be around the neck of its potential victim rather than inside him somewhere.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Turkey’s S-400 could give F-35s and F-22s a boost in a fight with Russia

Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s top-of-the-line S-400 missile defense system has caused a diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington and led NATO’s southernmost member to miss out on the F-35 stealth fighter jet, but it could actually prove fatal to Moscow’s plans to take on US F-22s and F-35s.

Articles on the threat posed to the F-35 program by the S-400 are a dime a dozen, with experts across the board agreeing that networking Russian systems into NATO’s air defenses spells a near death sentence for allied air power.

Additionally, scores of US experts have argued that Turkey’s S-400 could get a peak at the F-35’s stealth technology and glean important intelligence on the new plane meant to serve as the backbone of US airpower for decades to come.


But something weird is going on with the US’s laser focus on F-35’s security. Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, told Defense One this should be cause for concern.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

An F-35A Lightning II.

“For some reason coverage tends not to ask the question of how are Russians planning to deal with the potential problem of US intelligence being all over their system in Turkey,” he said.

“Russians are not crying about selling their best tech to a NATO country, despite the obvious implications for technology access. That should make us wonder,” he continued.

Basically, while Russia’s installation and support for S-400 systems in Turkey may give it intel on the F-35, Turkey, a NATO country, having Russia’s best weapon against against US airpower could spell doom for the system.

If the US cracks the S-400, Russia is in trouble

Russia relies on its missile defenses to keep its assets at home and abroad safe as it pursues increasingly risky military escalations in theaters like Ukraine and Syria. Defeating these systems, potentially, could leave Russia vulnerable to attack.

But if the US can take a look at Russia’s S-400 “depends entirely on what conditions the Russians manage to hold the Turks to in terms of allowing NATO (US) access to inspect the system,” Justin Bronk, an aerial combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Russian S-400 batteries in Syria.

(Russian Defense Ministry)

“It’s potentially a very valuable source of previously unavailable information about a threat system which is a specific priority for the alliance and the US has never come into possession of an S-400 before,” Bronk said. However, “it may be that the system is actually operated by and guarded by Russian personnel in Turkey which could complicate things,” he continued.

Also, Russia’s export version of the S-400 doesn’t exactly match the version they use at home, but a former top US Air Force official told Business Insider that the US already has insight into Russia’s anti-air capabilities, and that the export version isn’t too far off from the genuine article.

Russia needs the money?

“Russia will sell them to whomever will give them the cash,” the source continued, pointing to Russia’s weak economy as a potential explanation for making the risky move of selling S-400 systems to a NATO country.

So while Russia may get some intelligence on the F-35 through its relationship with Turkey, that road runs both ways.

Furthermore, while US stealth aircraft represent individual systems, Russia’s missile defenses serve as an answer to multiple US platforms, including naval missiles. Therefore, Russia having its S-400 mechanics exposed may prove a worse proposition than the F-35 being somewhat exposed to Russian eyes.

“Getting a look at the system architecture and the hardware would still be extremely valuable for NATO,” Bronk concluded.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35’s abysmal readiness rate is raising some questions

The US military’s F-35 Joint Strike Force program may be in trouble due to its abysmal mission readiness rates, according to a report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

POGO’s report is based on a chart from the Joint Program Office’s Integrated Test Force showing that the 23-aircraft test fleet had a “fully mission capable” rate of 8.7% in June 2019 — an improvement over its May 2019 mission-capable rate of 4.7%. The average rate was just 11% for December 2018 through June 2019.

The F-35 program has been plagued with problems; loss of cabin pressure and aircraft control and serious issues in both hot and cold conditions are just a few of the challenges facing the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system.


Such low rates can typically be attributed to a lack of spare parts or one of the many previously reported problems. The POGO report specifically points to issues with the aircraft’s Distributed Aperture System, which warns F-35 pilots of incoming missiles. While the aircraft can still fly without the system being fully functional, it’s a necessary component in combat.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

33rd Fighter Wing F-35As taxi down the flightline at Volk Field.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

The Lightning II test fleet is actually performing far worse than the full F-35 fleet, but even that rate is less than ideal — it was only 27% fully mission capable between May and December 2018, according to Flight Global.

In October 2018, then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for 80% mission capability for the F-35, F-22, F-16, and F-18 fleets by September, Defense News reported at the time.

But Air Force Times reported in July 2019 that the Air Force’s overall aircraft mission-capable rate fell eight percentage points from 2012 to 2018, dipping below 70% last year. Col. Bill Maxwell, the chief of the Air Force’s maintenance division, told Air Force Times that any downward trend in readiness is cause for concern but that the overall readiness rate was a “snapshot in time.”

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Hill Air Force Base F-35A Lightning IIs fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017.

(U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

The Pentagon is set to decide whether to move to full-rate production in October, but given low readiness rates, it is doubtful that testing will be completed by then. According to POGO, a major defense acquisition like the F-35 can’t legally proceed to full-rate production until after testing is completed and a final report is submitted.

The Joint Strike Fighter program declined INSIDER’S request for comment on the POGO report.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is what it’s like to fire the A-10’s BRRRRRT in combat

“Oh, man … It’s amazing,” an A-10 Warthog pilot, who preferred to be called “McGraw,” told Business Insider when asked what it’s like to fly the aircraft.

It’s “incredibly easy to fly, outstanding performance,” McGraw said on the phone from Afghanistan, adding that it’s very reliable, which he partially credited to the maintenance teams.


“If you’re employing bombs, bullets, rockets, or missiles, obviously that’s rewarding because you know you’re impacting the battlefield to help save Coalition forces,” McGraw said. “But even if you’re just overhead and nothing’s going on on the ground, and you know that the ground forces are sleeping well because they simply know the A-10s are overtop, that’s a very rewarding and self-fulfilling mission.”

“Plus it’s just cool to fly A-10s,” McGraw added.

When asked what it’s like to shoot the 30mm gun, McGraw said, “I wish I had better terms for it — but it’s amazing.”

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
US Air Force Senior Airman Corban Caliguire and Tech. Sgt. Aaron Switzer, 21st Special Tactics Squadron joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC), call for an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to do a show of force during a close air support training mission Sept. 23, 2011, at the Nevada Test and Training
(DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

“To just feel the airplane shake and to know that you can employ a gun from an airplane diving at the ground [at] 400-plus mph [and at] a 45 degree dive angle, and [that] I can confidently, on every single pass, put 30mm exactly on target … it’s very rewarding,” McGraw said.

McGraw, who has completed five tours in Afghanistan, said he’s flown about 300 combat missions in the wartorn country, deploying his weapons about 25% of the time.

“That gun is incredibly accurate, and it obviously delivers fearsome effects and devastating effects … so when I pull that trigger, I know those bullets are going where I want them [to],” he said.

“The whole heads-up display shakes,” McGraw said. “You’re engulfed in the gun exhaust … it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

The US sent a squadron of 12 A-10s back to Afghanistan in January 2018, where its quietly ramping up the longest-running war in US history.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This company is helping to solve the hypoxia epidemic

Earlier this year, both the Air Force and Navy were forced to ground planes due to pilots reporting hypoxia-like symptoms. Among the planes that have had pilots experience hypoxia include the F-35 this past June and the T-45 in April.


The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
Student pilots prepare to exit a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper)

It goes without saying that hypoxia is a big deal for pilots. To put it simply, hypoxia is a fancy term for someone is not getting enough oxygen. This tends to happen at high altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner. Not getting enough oxygen leads to unconsciousness, brain damage, and if you’re really unlucky, death.

However, Cobham Mission Systems has been working to address the hypoxia epidemic, through the development of new breathing sensors. These sensors can be incorporated into the life-support systems of any tactical jet.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
Inhalation Breathing Sensor (Cobham Mission Systems)

According to a handout obtained from Cobham’s booth at the AirSpaceCyber expo in National Harbor, Maryland, the new sensors are battery-powered and can collect data for up to 10 hours for analysis after the flight, or they can display the data in real time. These sensors are intended to be used as part of a new life-support system that will prevent hypoxia.

The first sensor, the Inhalation Breathing Sensor, monitors oxygen pressure, the gas flow, the temperature of the gas, the pressure in the hose, the humidity of the gas, the pressure in the cockpit, the cabin temperature, and three-axis acceleration.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts
The Exhalation Breathing Sensor. (Photo from Cobham Mission Services)

The other sensor, the Exhalation Breathing sensor, also monitors oxygen pressure and three-axis acceleration. However, it also notes the pressure, temperature, and humidity of the exhaled gas. It also measures the carbon dioxide and the pressure inside the mask.

Cobham is working to mate these sensors with a warning system to alert the pilot and allow him to take measures to correct the situation. The data gathered will also be used to determine the root cause of why a pilot suffers hypoxia.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

7 weapons that are used in the Marine infantry

The Marine infantry has been fighting for our nation’s freedoms for the last few hundred years in every clime and place where they can take a gun. Today, the U.S. Marine Corps is one of the most respected and well-recognized branches of any military, the world over. From a mile away, you can identify a Marine by their unique Dress Blues and their high-and-tight haircut. But the Marine getup wouldn’t be so well-known if it weren’t for the many hard-fought victories they’ve earned on the battlefield.

Historically, Marines have won battles through tough training, world-famous discipline, and, of course, the weapons they bring to the fight. So, let’s take a look at a few of those impressive weapons system used to fight those who threaten our freedoms.


Also Read: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

M9 Beretta

M9 Beretta

This pistol is the standard for the Marine infantryman. The Beretta fires a 9mm bullet and holds up to 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the pipe. Although this pistol is standard-issue to those who rate, most grunts would prefer a .45 Colt due to its stopping power.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John Brancifort, a rifleman with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa, fires an M4 carbine in the lateral movement portion of a stress shooting exercise held by U.S. Army Special Forces in Germany, Apr. 12, 2016.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tia Nagle)

M4 Carbine

This is the lighter and shorter version of the M16A2 semi-automatic assault rifle. The M4 is a direct impingement gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed weapon that shoots a 5.56x45mm round. Many M4s are retrofitted with a .203 grenade launcher that is sure to clear the bad guys from their defensive positions.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

A Marine fires an M240 Bravo medium machine gun during a live-fire training exercise at a multipurpose machine gun range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler Andersen)

M240 Bravo

This medium-sized machine gun is a belt-fed and gas-operated weapon that fires a 7.62mm round. The weapon can disperse between 650 to 900 rounds per minute while on a cyclic rate of fire. The M240 Bravo enables its operator to put down a wall of lead when ground forces need to win the war of fire superiority.

“The battlefield is a dance floor, and the machine gunners are the jukeboxes.” — Marine Lance Cpl. Dixon.
The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

A U.S. Marine with II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, fires a Mark 19 40mm grenade machine gun during the II MIG Field Exercise at Camp Lejeune. The Marines fired the weapon to become more proficient with different weapon systems.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Larisa Chavez)

Mark 19

This belt-fed, air-cooled 40mm automatic grenade launcher has a cyclic rate of fire of 325 to 375 rpm. The weapon system operates on a blow-back system, which uses chamber pressure to load the next grenade, launching each round a maximum distance of 2,210 meters.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

A sniper attached to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment takes aim at insurgents from behind cover, during a firefight in Helmand province. Patrols have been increased in an effort to push the Taliban back and create a buffer for villages friendly towards coalition forces in the region.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Clark)

M110 SAAS

The M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System is mainly for multiple target engagements, firing 7.62x51mm NATO rounds. This highly accurate sniper rifle is a favorite on the battlefields of Afghanistan as it weighs just 15.3 pounds and has a muzzle velocity of 2,570 feet per second.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

A Marine racks a round into his .50 caliber Browning M2HB on the training range at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

(DoD)

Browning M2

This .50 caliber machine gun is the stuff of nightmares for NATO’s enemies as it’s terrorized the bad guys for years. This insanely powerful weapon system can be mounted in a turret or the back of an aircraft. This belt-fed machine gun has a max range of 2,500 meters and weighs approximately 127-pounds while attached to a TE (traverse and elevation) mechanism.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

The turret-mounted M40A1 Saber anti-tank missile.

(Marine Corps Recruiting)

M40A1 Saber

This anti-tank system can nail targets moving laterally at 45 to 50 miles per hour at a range of approximately 3,500 meters. What’s more impressive is that this weapon system has a 95-percent hit-to-kill ratio.

Check out the Marine Corps Recruiting‘s video below to get the complete breakdown from the infantrymen themselves.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the US Air Force trains to fight Russia using real Russian fighters

The United States Air Force needs aggressor aircraft. There is no geopolitical adversary for the United States quite like Russia and its Soviet-built airplanes. American combat crews need to train against someone, and the best we can get comes in the form of MiG-29 fighters and Sukhoi-27 aircraft.


It doesn’t matter that the aircraft are from the 1970s, so is the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 fleet. American airmen need targets, and these are the most likely real-world ones.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Target acquired.

In 2017, onlookers spotted an F-16 engaged in a life or death dogfight over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. with a Russian-built Su-27 Flanker aircraft. It’s highly unlikely an errant Russian fighter penetrated NORAD and began an attack on a specific base. The only logical explanation was that Nellis has a supply of Russian-built fighters for U.S. airmen to train against. It turns out, that is exactly what happened in the skies over Nevada that day. Make another notch in the win column for Occam’s Razor.

The United States Air Force has acquired and maintains a number of Russian and Soviet-built aircraft for airmen to fly against. Where they get the aircraft is anyone’s guess, but The National Interest reported it likely gets the most advanced fighters from Ukraine. Other fighters are on loan from private companies who acquired the Russian planes on their own. That’s another W for capitalism.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

Anything is possible with enough money.

So even if the United States Air Force couldn’t afford to own and maintain its own supply of Russian aggressor aircraft, there are apparently a number of civilian contractors who have acquired them and are willing to loan those fighters out to the USAF. Among those come MiG-29s from a company called Air USA, MiG-21s and trainer aircraft from Draken International, and the two aforementioned Sukhoi-27 fighters from Pride International via Ukraine.

Let’s see the semi-Communist oligarchs in Moscow pull off acquiring an F-22 Raptor using their shady business dealings. But even if the United States couldn’t fight real Russian fighters, American pilots could still get excellent training.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

The emperor has new clothes.

If you’re not sure what’s happening in the photo above, that’s an F-16 Fighting Falcon all dressed up as a Sukhoi-57 fifth-generation stealth fighter. While the F-16 may not have stealth and definitely isn’t a fifth-gen fighter, it still gives U.S. airmen training on what to look for while engaging a Russian in the skies. The paint job is used by the Russians to make the Su-57 look like a different, smaller aircraft from a distance. Acquiring real enemy aircraft and training under the conditions closest to combat will give American pilots the edge they need.

That is, if they ever need that edge against the Russians.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army to issue newest groin protection to paratroopers

Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina will soon receive the Army‘s latest attempt at armor protection for the genitals and groin area.

Beginning in late March 2019, Program Executive Office Soldier officials will issue the Blast Pelvic Protector to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team as well as other items in the Army’s new Soldier Protection System such as the Modular Scalable Vest and the Integrated Head Protection System.


The Blast Pelvic Protector resembles a pair of loose-fitting shorts designed to wear over the Army Combat Uniform trousers. The device is intended to replace earlier attempts at groin protection such as the Protective Under Garment, or PUG, and the Protective Over Garment, or POG.

The PUG resembled a pair of snug-fitting boxers.

“They were underwear that had pockets for ballistics to go into,” Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment said recently at a media event.

The POG looked like a tactical diaper.

The Army has three active-duty soldier-astronauts

The Pelvic Protection System: Tier I Protective Under Garment (PUG) and Tier II Protective Outer Garment (POG).

(US Army photo)

“And then there was an outer garment — it felt like a perpetual wedgie; soldiers hated that,” Whitehead said.

“That’s why we moved to the Blast Pelvic Protector and the cool thing about this is … there is a ballistic insert that can stop certain types of rounds, and the rest of this provides fragmentation protection.”

The new protective device features open sides with two straps on either side that connect with quick-release buckles.

Earlier attempts at protecting the groin and femoral arteries on the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, consisted of triangular flap of soft ballistic material that hung in front of the crotch.

In addition to the pelvic protector, soldiers from 3rd BCT will receive the new Integrated Head Protection System, or IHPS, which will replace the Enhanced Combat Helmet in close combat units.

The new helmet offers the same ballistic protection as the ECH, but doubles the amount of protection against blunt impact or trauma to soldier’s head. Each side of the helmet has rail sections, so soldiers can mount lights and other accessories for operating in low-light conditions.

Equipment officials will also field the Modular Scalable Vest, or MSV, to 3rd BCT soldiers. The MSV weighs about 25 pounds with body armor plates. That’s about a five-pound weight reduction compared to the current IOTV.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information