The hater's guide to the Harrier - We Are The Mighty
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The hater’s guide to the Harrier

The AV-8B+ Harrier is an iconic plane. The British Sea Harrier arguably was the reason the United Kingdom won the Falklands War. But let’s be honest, this plane isn’t immune from being something we can poke fun at…


So, as we have done with the F-16 and the A-10, here’s the Hater’s Guide to the Harrier.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)

Why it is easy to make fun of the Harrier

It has short range. The payload’s not much when you compare it to conventional planes. It kinda looks funny.

Also, it’s British, and have the Brits developed a good combat plane since World War II? The Spitfire wasn’t bad. But the “Spit,” like the Harrier, had the same short range problem. So, it’s…a British thing?

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch)

Why you should hate the Harrier

Because it has a high rate of “Class A” mishaps. Because their pilots think they are carrier pilots, when all they do is land vertically (let’s see how they do when it’s trap or bolter). Because they think using a stool to replace a landing gear is cool.

Because it won’t win any races against an F-15, F-16, F/A-18, or F-22.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
That vertical landing, tho… (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Why you should love the Harrier

Because it can operate where other planes can’t. Runway cratered? Harriers are still in business. It holds the line when Hornets can’t. With AMRAAMs, it can shoot down anything an Eagle can. It’s GAU-12 can put the hurt on bad guys.

Because, when it was needed by the United Kingdom, it came through. For close air support, a Marine Harrier is the best option when you can’t have a Warthog.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, flies in position while conducting aerial refueling training operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad R. Kiehl)

Okay, when it comes down to it, the Harrier is, despite its foibles, one awesome jet.

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Army to start fielding new jungle boots next year

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
A U.S. Soldier crosses a stream during the 12-day Australian Army Junior Leader Jungle Training Course last year in Australia. | US Army photo


U.S. Army officials say they’re racing to find and start issuing new jungle boots to combat soldiers by late next year.

The service just released a request for information from companies as part of a “directed requirement” for a new model of Jungle Combat Boot for infantry soldiers to wear in the hot, tropical terrain of the Pacific theater.

Also read: The beloved ‘woobie’ gets a much-needed update

“It’s a challenge to industry to say, ‘What can you do based on here are the requirements that we need and how fast can you deliver it to meet these specifications,’ ” Col. Dean Hoffman IV, who manages Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, said Wednesday at theAssociation of the United States Army’s annual meeting.

The Army’s formal requirement for a new type of Jungle Combat Boot will continue to go through the normal acquisitions process, but equipment officials plan to award contracts for new jungle boots next year to meet a recent directive from Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley that two brigade combat teams in Hawaii be equipped “ASAP,” Hoffman said.

“We are going to use this request for information to see what industry can do really fast because what we would like to do is get a BCT out by March of 2017,” he said.

Equipment officials hope to have a second BCT fielded with new jungle boots by September 2017,” according to the Oct. 3 document posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

The Army and the Marine Corps retired the popular, Vietnam War-era jungle boots in the early 2000s when both services transitioned to a desert-style combat boot for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since then, Army equipment development has been geared toward the Middle East, Hoffman said.

“We have kind of neglected the extreme weather environments, whether it be jungle or cold weather,” Hoffman said. “Looking at the way the world is shaping, those are areas that we might have to go.”

The Army recently conducted limited user evaluations of several commercial-off-the-shelf, or COTS, jungle boots in Hawaii.

“We put them on soldiers, let them wear them for a couple of weeks and got feedback,” Hoffman said. “What that showed at that time was there was no COTS solution.”

The Army is looking for lightweight materials and better insole and midsole construction, he said.

The problem with the old jungle boots was they had a metal shim in the sole for puncture protection that made the boots get too hot or too cold depending on the outside temperature, Hoffman said.

There are new fabrics that could offer some puncture protection for insoles as well as help push water out of the boot through drain holes, equipment officials say.

The two drain holes on the old jungle boots often became clogged with mud, Hoffman said, adding that newer designs that feature several smaller drain holes tend to be more effective.

The new jungle boots will likely be made of rough-out leather, which tends to dry out quickly and doesn’t need to be shined, he said.

To outfit two brigades, the Army plans to buy 36,000 pairs of new jungle boots, but contracts may be awarded to multiple vendors, Hoffman said.

“If six vendors meet the requirements, we might just award six contracts because, at the end of the day, we want to meet the requirements,” he said.

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Mattis shows his ‘no worst enemy’ side in warning to North Korea

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned on Sept. 3 of a “massive,” and “overwhelming” military response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs after a small group meeting with President Donald Trump in response to Pyongyang testing its sixth and largest-ever nuclear device.


Mattis stressed that the US has “many” military options for dealing with North Korea, but that the US does not seek the annihilation of any country.

Mattis was most likely referring to the US military’s roughly 28,000 troops located in South Korea and its massive presence in Japan and in the Pacific. At the time of Mattis’ speaking, the US does not have an increased naval or military presence in the region, though the US and South Korea did just complete a joint war-gaming exercise.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2009. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

Earlier on Sept. 3, Trump floated the idea of cutting off trade with China, North Korea’s treaty ally and main trading partner, in response to North Korea’s greatly increased provocations. “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

The Trump administration has repeatedly said that “all options” are on the table in dealing with North Korea, and stressed military might represents a part of that package.

Historically, China has agreed to UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea following nuclear tests, but despite sanctions, loopholes remain that allow Pyongyang to finance its weapons programs.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Photo from Rodong Sinmun.

The nuclear device tested by North Korea on Sept. 3 had a yield of hundreds of kilotons, meaning it was most likely a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb, according to expert estimates and North Korea’s own statements.

The completion of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a thermonuclear warhead represent North Korea achieving its ultimate goal of building a credible deterrent against invasion and regime change. Experts assess that North Korea’s main goal in developing nuclear weapons is to secure its regime, and that it will not use the weapons offensively, unless provoked.

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ISIS’s finances are taking a serious hit, and it’s hurting morale inside the terrorist group

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Photo: Youtube screenshot


As a US-led coalition hammers ISIS’s oil infrastructure and other financial institutions in the Middle East, the terrorist group has cut salaries and infighting has broken out within the rank and file and senior leadership.

Reports of infighting within ISIS — aka the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh — aren’t new, but increased financial and territorial losses might be worsening the stress fractures that are splintering the group.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that ISIS is now facing an “unprecedented cash crunch” as the coalition ramps up strikes on its sources of wealth. Strikes have been hitting oil refineries and tankers as well as banks and buildings that hold hard cash.

ISIS salaries are taking a hit as a result of the financial losses. Some units reportedly aren’t being paid at all, and some fighters’ salaries have been cut in half, according to The Post.

The salary cuts specifically appear “to have significantly hit the organization’s morale,” according to Charles Lister, a resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.

“There are more and more frequent reports … of infighting, armed clashes breaking out in the middle of the night in places like Raqqa between rival factions,” Lister said on Friday during a panel discussion in Washington, DC, referring to ISIS’s de-facto capital in Syria.

“These are all indications of a significant drop in morale and a decrease in internal cohesion. And the cohesion argument was always something that analysts like myself always said was one of ISIS’ strongest strengths,” he said.

Part of what has made ISIS’s message so potent is the money that has come along with it — which is said to be a major factor in ISIS’s recruiting success. For locals in war-torn Syria especially, ISIS has been able to offer more money than people could hope to make elsewhere.

But the salary cuts have strained the loyalties of fighters to the group.

Abu Sara, a 33-year-old engineer from Iraq, told The Post that ISIS members are becoming disillusioned.

“Their members are getting quite angry. Either they are not getting salaries or getting much less than they used to earn,” Sara said. “All of the people I am in contact with want to escape, but they don’t know how.”

Some fighters “throw down their weapons and mingle with the civilians” in battle, according to Sara.

ISIS’s financial problems are compounded by the group’s territorial losses. Syrian forces recently retook the ancient city of Palmyra, while Iraqi forces are starting to move in toward Mosul, ISIS’s stronghold in Iraq.

Territorial losses could hurt ISIS’s recruiting efforts because they run counter to the group’s central message of “remaining and expanding.”

The losses also hit at ISIS’s coffers because taxation and extortion make up a large share of ISIS’s revenues. Unlike other terrorist groups that rely on outside donations from wealthy individuals, ISIS squeezes money from the local populations it controls.

But ISIS isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi military strategist, told The Post that ISIS still controls significant oil resources across the territory it holds in Iraq and Syria.

“They’re not going through a financial crisis that will lead to their collapse,” Hashimi told the newspaper. “They still have 60 percent of Syrian oil wells and 5 percent of Iraq’s.”

 

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9 reasons candidates are disqualified from military service

With sequestration and troop drawdowns forcing the military to record low levels of readiness, the requirements for joining the U.S. armed forces have become more stringent, and the pool of eligible recruits has become smaller. Out of the 34 million 17-24 year olds in the U.S. only 1 percent are both eligible and inclined to pursue military service, according to the Defense Department.


Here are the nine most common reasons civilians are disqualified from service:

1. Weight

Being overweight is the number one reason civilians are disqualified from joining the military, and it’s the only getting worse.

2. Education

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Having a diploma or GED is essential but with the military being more strict in their selection, having a GED doesn’t guarantee anything.

3. Can’t pass the ASVAB

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) exam determines what job you are eligible to perform in the military.

4. Failing Urinalysis / Drug use

5. Financial/Credit history

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

Recruiters will be concerned about your ability to stay focused on the mission if you have too much debt or financial stress on low junior grade pay.

6. Medical history

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Doctors will evaluate your physical readiness to ensure you can meet the physical demands of serving.

7. Gauges: Holes in ears

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

More of  the members of today’s generation are expressing their individuality in various and extreme ways, and that could be grounds for disqualification.

8. Tattoos

Even though the Army has recently relaxed their tattoo policy, tattoos on your neck, hands, and face are still not authorized.

9. Criminal record

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

If you have a history with the law it’s important you be up front about it rather than lie and have it come up in your background check later.

To see if you meet the requirements, click here for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

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A Navy SEAL has died in the fight against ISIS

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook has confirmed that a U.S. Navy SEAL assisting Kurdish Peshmerga fighters was killed near Irbil, Iraq, on Tuesday. The SEAL was 2-3 miles behind the frontline when ISIS car bombs and fighters forced an opening, allowing for the attack on the coalition’s position.


The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Navy SEALs fight against insurgents in Iraq in this 2007 photo. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Johansen Laurel

Cook pledged in a statement that the coalition will honor the unidentified SEAL’s sacrifice by continuing to dismantle ISIS until it suffers a lasting defeat.

ISIS uses car bombs the way many modern militaries use artillery — to soften up enemy defenses during an assault by other fighters. The U.S. responded with 20 airstrikes.

The SEAL’s name has not yet been released. It’s typical for the Department of Defense to withhold the identity of a service member killed in the line of duty until at least 24 hours after the notification of the next of kin.

Two other U.S. service members have died in the fight against ISIS. Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed Mar. 19 by an ISIS rocket attack while securing a newly-established U.S. base with other Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The fighter who most likely killed Cardin was later killed in a U.S. drone attack.

Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was a Delta Force operator who was working with Kurdish commandos when a tip came in that a large number of ISIS-held hostages were about to be executed. Wheeler and other U.S. and Kurdish special operators stormed the prison where the hostages were being kept and rescued them, but Wheeler was killed in the gunfight on Oct. 22, 2015.

Roughly 3,700 troops are deployed to Iraq and 50 have been deployed to Syria. An announced deployment of 250 more troops to Syria will bring the total there to 300.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has said that the fight against ISIS is serious, and America isn’t backing down.

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Attack helicopter lands and asks for directions

Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday. A group of truckers in Kazakhstan were surprised when an Mi-8 helicopter with attached rocket pods landed on the road, halting traffic.


The drivers waited as one of the pilots climbed out and asked a quick question before waving, running back to the bird, and taking off again.

According to RT, the drivers are getting a good laugh on the radios after they realize what has happened:
“They were lost,” says a voice on the convoy radio, failing to suppress his laughter. “He came to ask which way to Aktobe.”

“How can you get lost in the steppe? How the hell can you get lost in the steppe?” says another incredulous voice.

According to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defense, the pilots were on a planned visual-orienteering mission to test their navigation skills, including human survey. Since the pilots made it back after asking for directions, their mission was a success.

Even if it made them a bit of a joke between the truck drivers.

(H/T The Aviationist)

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Some Russians want a new Cuban Missile Crisis . . . really

 


The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Frontpage above the fold of The New York Times, Oct. 23, 1962.

Talk about flexing your missiles . . .

On Wednesday, two Communist Party members who are deputies in the Russian Duma called on the Kremlin to deploy missiles to Cuba, a request they say is in retaliation to U.S. plans to deploy a rocket system to southeastern to Turkey as part of the battle to counter ISIS in nearby Syria.

There’s no word on the class of missiles that they want placed on the Caribbean island or whether the Kremlin will comply, but the deputies aren’t shy about comparisons between their request and the 1962 Soviet decision to place nuclear-tipped intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba.

According to the Russian news service RIA Novosti, deputies Valery Rashkin and Sergei Obukhov sent the written request to Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“It is worth noting that according to available data the (American) weapons system uses missiles with a range of up to five hundred kilometers, a potential threat to Russian allies in the CSTO, primarily Armenia,” they said in the memo.

Furthermore, “we are talking about the deployment of Russian launchers similar to or of even greater range in Cuba,” the deputies continued.

On Tuesday, the Department of Defense announced that it will deploy a single truck-mounted M-142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Turkey to stop cross-border attacks by ISIS in Syria. Another HIMARS system is on its way to northern Iraq to assist in the battle to retake Mosul from the radical Islamist group.

The CSTO or Collective Security Treaty Organization is a six-member mutual defense pact comprised of Russia and several post-Soviet states, including Armenia. Other members include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Armenia is a country landlocked in the South Caucasus that shares a 165-mile border with Turkey and has cordial relations with Russia – so cordial that some observers believe Russia is taking advantage of the situation to expand its military presence right next to Turkey, a NATO ally.

Concerned parties point out recent developments: in March, a snap drill in cooperation with the Armenian military that involved 8,500 Russian troops, 900 ground weapons, 200 warplanes and about 50 warships; in December, the two nations signed a cooperative air defense agreement; even a recent basing arrangement agreement between the two governments for more than 5,000 Russian troops.

In addition, the deputies are calling for the reopening of the Lourdes signals-intelligence station located outside Havana, which the U.S.S.R. built in 1962. The Cuban government closed the station in 2002, although there is speculation that the Cubans and the Russians have recently discussed reactivation of the base.

Rashkin and Obukhov also wrote: “At a time when Russia is once again positioning itself in the international arena as a great power, our country should be more active to restore the destroyed military and economic ties with our allies, primarily with the fraternal Cuban Republic.”

The request by the two deputies echoes the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis – the 13-day standoff between United States and the Soviet Union in 1962 that brought both nations to the brink of a nuclear war.

Eventually, the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles based in Cuba because of a secret agreement forged between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy that led to removal of American Jupiter IRBMs from Turkey.

The following year, both superpowers agreed to install a direct “hot line” communication link between Washington and Moscow to manage any future confrontations, and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed treaties limiting atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

Are the Russians serious about basing missiles in Cuba today? The chances of that happening are remote at best.

What is probably happening is part of an on-going effort by Putin’s allies to remind the world that Russia is still a nation to be reckoned with – and feared.

What would the United States do if Russian missiles were once again only 90 miles away from American shores? So far, the White House has not commented.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Moscow sending advanced air defenses to Syria after lost plane

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he expects to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York amid concerns expressed by Washington over Moscow’s plans to supply Syria with the S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

Pompeo made the remarks on Sept. 24, 2018, just hours after Russia announced that it was supplying the S-300 missile system to improve Syria’s defenses and help prevent a repeat of the downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces in September 2018.

Anticipating a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which opens on Sept. 25, 2018, Pompeo said “I’m sure Sergei and I will have our time together.”


“We are trying to find every place we can where there is common ground, where we can work with the Russians,” Pompeo said, adding that Washington will hold Moscow “accountable” for many areas where Russia is working against the United States.

U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton said on Sept. 24, 2018, that Russia’s decision to deploy the advanced antiaircraft missiles to Syria was a “major mistake” and a “significant escalation” in Syria’s seven-year war.

Bolton also said U.S. troops will not leave Syria until Iranian forces leave.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sept. 24, 2018, that Moscow will deliver the S-300 within two weeks and will provide Syrian government forces with updated automated systems for its air-defense network.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

SA-12 high altitude surface-to-air missile systems

(Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

This will improve Syrian air-defense operations and “most important, the identification of all Russian aircraft by Syrian air-defense systems will be guaranteed,” Shoigu said.

Syrian government forces shot a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane down off the northwestern province of Latakia on Sept. 17, 2018, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Shoigu’s ministry angrily blamed Israel, accusing the country’s military of using the Russian plane as a cover to dodge Syrian air-defense systems.

President Vladimir Putin took a softer approach, saying that the shoot-down appeared to be the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

But Putin announced that Russia would take visible measures to protect Russian military personnel in Syria.

In a statement on Sept. 24, 2018, the Kremlin said that Putin told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of the decision during a telephone conversation initiated by Assad.

Putin “informed [Assad] about the decision to take a number of additional measures with the aim of providing for the security of Russian forces in Syria and strengthening the country’s air defense, including the delivery of a modern S-300 air-defense missile complex to Syria,” the statement said.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has given Assad crucial support throughout the war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.

Moscow helped protect Assad from possible defeat and turn the tide of the war in his favor by launching a campaign of air strikes in 2015 and stepping up its military presence on the ground.

Much of Syria’s air-defense network has been provided by Russia but consists of weapons that are older and less effective than the S-300.

Russia suspended the supply of an S-300 system at an earlier stage in the war, amid Israeli concerns that it could be used against it.

Shoigu said that “the situation has changed, and it’s not our fault,” adding that the supply of an S-300 would “calm down some hotheads” whose actions “pose a threat to our troops.”

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Russia’s decision to deliver an S-300 was not targeted against anyone and was aimed solely to protect Russian troops in Syria.

The reconnaissance plane’s downing “was indeed preceded by a chain of tragic accidents,” Peskov said, but this chain was set in motion “largely by the deliberate actions of Israeli pilots.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that supplying S-300s to Syria is Russia’s “right” and voiced confidence that this would not hurt Russian ties with Israel.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force has already flown a secret plane that could be its next fighter

The U.S. Air Force has quietly built and flown a brand-new aircraft prototype that could become its next-generation fighter, the service’s top acquisition official announced Tuesday.

Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, revealed during the virtual 2020 Air, Space and Cyber conference that the new aircraft is part of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, which defies the traditional categorization of a single platform, featuring a network of advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and weapons in a growing and unpredictable threat environment.


“NGAD right now is designing, assembling, testing in the digital world — exploring things that would have cost time and money to wait for physical world results,” he said. “NGAD has come so far that the full-scale flight demonstrator has already flown in the physical world.”

During a roundtable with reporters, Roper declined to give specifics on the project, except that the craft was created using digital engineering, which allows the service to bypass the regular manufacturing process for parts and gives developers more flexibility to design and change blueprints. The service announced Monday that any weapon made using digital concepts will have an “e-” prefix in an effort to showcase these innovative processes.

The new aircraft has “broken a lot of records and is showing digital engineering isn’t a fluke,” Roper said. He declined to comment on whether the defense industry has taken part in the endeavor.

While he touted the expedited process of digital methods, “we don’t want our adversaries to know what they are,” Roper added.

The news comes four years after the Air Force laid out initial plans for what its future fighter jets might look like.

During the 2019 Paris Air Show, Roper said discussions were ongoing within the service about the need for a proposed sixth-gen fighter concept, which could be the successor to the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, or something more elaborate. That October, the service cut the ribbon on the “Program Executive Office for Advanced Aircraft” during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The Air Force hopes to move fast on its futuristic projects. Roper last year debuted the Digital Century Series acquisition model, with the goal of using interconnectable, agile software and competitive technology prototyping to put together a combat-ready fighter jet in an estimated five years’ time. The service recently finished a business case analysis on the model’s validity, according to Defense News.

The Navy last month revealed that it has established its own NGAD program office in an effort to speed up the fielding of a new fighter prior to the 2030s, according to USNI News. But plans and discussions with industry are in the very early stages, USNI said.

The Air Force has proven it can accelerate and manufacture aircraft: The first “Century Series” aircraft initiative debuted in the 1950s and produced fighter-bomber variants such as the F-100 Super Sabre, which took roughly two and a half years to develop.

While many envision a futuristic manned fighter as a successor to today’s fifth-generation platforms, Roper has said the NGAD program could include fighters and autonomous drones fighting side-by-side.

For example, the autonomous Skyborg — which aims to pair artificial intelligence with a human piloting a fighter jet — is intended for reusable unmanned aerial vehicles in a manned-unmanned teaming mission; the drones are considered “attritable,” or cheap enough that they can be destroyed without significant cost.

In July, the service chose Boeing Co., General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems Inc. and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. to move forward on the Skyborg program.

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

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This is what a joint US Marine-Japanese training exercise looks like

Military planners spend years putting training exercises together and the political ramifications can be steep, such as with the annual Foal Eagle exercise on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has a history of shelling South Korean islands and firing missiles into the Sea of Japan whenever the U.S. and South Korea come together to train. Calling them “maneuvers” or “war games” is an oversimplification. The long-term consequences could be life or death.


The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Japanese soldiers with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force move the F470 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft off the beach during a beach raid as part of training for Exercise Iron Fist 2016, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Kierkegaard, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera)

There are times the U.S. will even conduct joint training operations with rivals and allies, such as the annual Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand, where Chinese forces were allowed to join in the humanitarian part.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Marines with 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, post a security perimeter and provide suppressive fire during the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) for Exercise Iron Fist 2016 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Xzavior T. McNeal)

2o16 marked the tenth year of Iron Fist, an exercise where soldiers of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force trained with U.S. Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to refine their amphibious landing abilities. The 11th MEU trained with the Japanese for five weeks at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, California. Their focus was on small unit combat and amphibious landings.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Western Army Infantry Regiment, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, soldiers conduct a firing mission during the Supporting Arms Coordinating Center Exercise (SACCEX) for Iron Fist 2016 aboard San Clemente Island, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Xzavior T. McNeal)

The above video of the Marine-Japanese training exercise was produced by Gunnery Sgt. Robert Brown of the 11th MEU. It’s a compilation of the kinds of maneuvers our Marines and allied troops make during war games.

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‘Missing Man’ honored after going MIA in Vietnam

Thundering jets above Colorado Springs the morning of May 9 bid a final farewell to a native son who went missing 48 years ago on a mission to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


It was a sound that Capt. Roger Helwig loved. Helwig, who was born in Trinidad and raised in Colorado Springs, was a free spirit known for meticulous honesty oddly melded with a wild streak that drove him to seek adventure in the sky.

“He was a tremendous guy,” said retired Maj. Jack Schnurr, a flight school friend, after an Air Force Academy memorial for the captain.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
The F-4 flew bombing, combat air patrol, fighter escort, reconnaissance and the famous Wild Weasel anti-aircraft missile suppression missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Helwig loved the F-4 Phantom and new bride Carol in what some joking called equal measures when he flew off for his second tour in Vietnam in 1969.

“He didn’t have to be there,” Schnurr said. “He volunteered to go back.”

On his first tour overseas, Helwig flew in the second seat of the F-4, running the plane’s weapons systems and electronics as a GIB, the military acronym for “guy in back.”

After he came home, Helwig got more flight training and headed back to war as the guy in front.

He was a forward air controller, one of the legendary “fast-FACs” who ranged far and wide over Southeast Asia spotting targets for troops on the ground.

During his final flight, Helwig and Capt. Roger Stearns were 10 miles west of Vietnam on a mission to stop the flow of arms and troops that fueled the Viet Cong insurgency. Flights against targets in neutral Laos, though, were something the Air Force avoided discussing in public.

Also read: The last US troops killed in the Vietnam War actually died two years after it ended

Records say the two had just bombed a target, and the jet was trailing a mist of fuel before it exploded. Searchers later found shredded parachutes and the remains of a life raft, but they didn’t find Helwig or Stearns.

In 1990, a Defense Department team returned to the crash site and found Stearns’ remains. Helwig stayed missing until last summer.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
Dog tags are primarily used for the identification of dead and wounded service members. (Photo: U.S. Army Human Resources Command Daniela Vestal)

His widow got a visit from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in August. Searchers had found a tiny talisman at the jungle site: Helwig’s dog tag.

“It was surreal when I held that in the palm of my hand,” Carol said May 9. “It was as if I was reliving the past.”

Dozens gathered at the academy May 9 to relive the past with her and tell stories about the 26-year-old pilot.

Lt. Col. Mike Newton, a chaplain, told mourners they need to remember Helwig’s courage.

“I have no idea what it took to fly 100 missions in Vietnam, each one of them harrowing,” Newton said. “But he strapped it on every time.”

Carol remembered the kind but kind of crazy young man she met when he was riding his motorcycle from Arizona to Washington, D.C.

She knew she was competing with a twin-engined jet for Helwig’s affection.

“He loved flying,” she said.

Helwig left no children to mourn him, but a wide array of friends came to the Air Force Academy cemetery to remember.

The academy supplied an honor guard, rifle team, and a bugler to play taps.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
The 24 notes of Taps lay heroes to rest. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

Air Combat Command offered up four F-15 Eagle fighters to blaze overhead in the missing man formation.

Carol supplied her own touch. Bells played a last waltz for the man she loved — the theme song of Doctor Zhivago, the first film they had seen together.

And as the bells played, quiet voices whispered the song’s tale of love long lost but reclaimed.

“Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing. Although the snow covers the hope of spring.”

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Feb. 18

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

An F-22 Raptor performs a heritage flight during the 2017 Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 9, 2017. The program was established in 1997, allowing certified civilian pilots and Air Force pilots to perform flights together.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kimberly Nagle

Army Spc. James Williams, an 801st Engineer Company horizontal engineer, awaits the go-ahead for Humvees to be backed into a C-17 Globemaster III prior to its takeoff from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., during Patriot Wyvern Feb. 11, 2017. Patriot Wyvern is a hands-on, bi-annual event conducted by the 349th Air Mobility Wing designed to hone combat skills and improve organizational interoperability.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps

ARMY:

U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Babbin, left, and Spc. Michael Richards, right, combat engineers, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, place C4 explosives for a live demolition training at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vt., Feb. 11, 2017. The Soldiers learn how to do this safely and correctly by training both in the classroom and field environment.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), are currently deployed to Kosovo, providing a secure environment, strengthening relationships with our allies, while simultaneously building combat readiness.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Army photo

NAVY:

PHILIPPINE SEA (Feb. 11, 2017) Air department Sailors transfer an MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, from the flight deck to the hanger bay of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during flight operations. Bonhomme Richard is conducting unit-level training to ensure warfighting readiness in preparation for a routine patrol in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan

GUAM (Feb. 11, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Seaman Stephen Mugo and Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Boling perform evening colors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship’s carrier strike group is on a western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

MARINE CORPS:

Recruits with 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, spar during Marine Corps Martial Arts training at Leatherneck Square at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program helps to create the warrior ethos by utilizing armed and unarmed techniques from various styles of martial arts.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Richard Currier

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Maritime Raid Force discuss their individual movements during Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calitfornia Feb. 8, 2017. The 15th MEU’s MEU-EX is the first major exercise conducted since the MEU composited earlier this year. The 15th MEU’s MRF bears substantial force and is capable of a high degree of tactical mobility while delivering significant, sustained firepower within an objective area.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Valero

COAST GUARD:

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward deployed in Cold Bay, Alaska, surveys the area around the fishing vessel Predator prior to hoisting three people off near Akutan Harbor, Alaska, Feb. 13, 2017. The predator ran hard aground, causing it to take on water through an eight inch crack on the hull. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Coast Guard members aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Maui conduct a patrol in support of Operation Kohola Guardian offshore Maui, Feb. 14, 2017. Operation Kohola Guardian is a cooperative operation between state and federal partners to protect the humpback whale migration to the Hawaiian Islands.

The hater’s guide to the Harrier
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa E. McKenzie

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