This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat - We Are The Mighty
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This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

You’ve probably followed the reports of how Iranian speedboats have harassed U.S. Navy vessels. Frustrating, aren’t they? Well, think about it this way… we’ve been “showing restraint.”


The thing is, those speedboats are not really Iranian Navy. Instead, they belong to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. These speedboats, which are often equipped with heavy machine guns, rockets, and other weapons, got a reputation for attacking merchant traffic in the Iran-Iraq War. Back then, they were called “Boghammars” after the Swedish company that built the first boats used by the Iranians.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Today, their primary threat to an American warship could be as a suicide craft. That said, American ships have options to address these craft. Two of the most prominent are the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster and the M2 heavy machine gun. The M2 is a legend. It’s been used on everything from tanks to aircraft to ships, and against just about every target you can imagine.

Now, the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster is not as well-known. That said, it’s been in quite common use. It got its start on the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, where the Army calls it the M242.

It needs a lot of luck to kill a tank, but it can bust up other infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, groups of infantry, even helicopters and aircraft. The Bushmaster made its way to the Marine Corps LAV-25.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
A Task Force Liberty Soldier from 3rd Infantry Division stands guard in an M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle near an Iraqi police checkpoint in Tikrit, Iraq. The Bradley main armament is the M242 25mm (Bushmaster) Chain Gun. The standard rate of fire is 200 rounds per minute, and has a range of 2,000 meters making it capable of defeating the majority of armored including some main battle tanks. (DOD photo)

The Navy put the Bushmaster on ships, and it comprises the main armament of the Cyclone-class patrol craft. Each Cyclone has two of these guns, one of which is paired with a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. The guns are also used on other surface combatants as well. The guns can do a lot of damage.

You can see the Mk 38 and the M2 go to work on a speedboat in the video below. One almost an imagine that the Iranian speedboat crews may be asking themselves the question that Harry Callahan told a bank robber to ask himself: “Do I feel lucky?”

Well, do they?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hackers are trying to bring down entire countries, and it’s a matter of time

Gatwick Airport is Britain’s second busiest by passenger volume, and Europe’s eighth. And yet it was brought to a standstill for two days by two people and a single drone.

Its vulnerability reminded me of a conversation I had two years ago, at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon with cybersecurity investor Sergey Gribov of Flint Capital. He was talking up one of his investments, an industrial cybersecurity firm based in Israel called CyberX. Half-bored, I girded myself for his pitch. They usually go like this: “The internet is full of hackers! They want to steal your data and your money! If only companies used my company’s awesome product, we would all be safe!”


I have heard hundreds of pitches like this.

But my conversation with Gribov was different. It was … extreme. The criminals who break into the web sites of banks or chainstores and steal personal data or money are not the scariest people out there, he told me. The hackers we really ought to be worrying about are the ones trying to take entire countries offline. People who are trying to take down the internet, switch the lights off, cut the water supply, disable railways, or blow up factories.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(Flickr photo by Richard Patterson)

The West’s weakness is in the older electronics and sensors that control processes in infrastructure and industry. Often these electronics were installed decades ago. The security systems controlling them are ancient or non-existent. If a hacker can gain control of a temperature sensor in a factory, he — they’re usually men — can blow the place up, or set it on fire. “The problem people don’t realise is it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. You can take down a whole country. It can be done,” he said.

And then, how do you respond? Does the country that was attacked — the one struggling to get its power grid back online — launch nukes? Probably not, he said, because “you have no idea who did it.”

“You can have a team of five people sitting in a basement and be just as devastating as WMDs,” he said. “It’s really scary. In some sense it’s a matter of time because it’s really easy.”

At the time, I discounted my conversation with Gribov. His VC fund was invested in CyberX, so he had an obvious interest in propagating the idea that the world is full of bad guys.

But in the years since we talked, two unnerving things happened.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

The scope of the 2016 internet outage after the attack on Dyn.

(Wikimedia, CC)

“Someone is learning how to take down the Internet,” Bruce Schneier, the CTO of IBM Resilient believes

Both attacks were conducted by relatively unsophisticated actors. The Dyn attack was done by three young men who had created some software that they merely hoped would disable a competitor’s company, until it got out of control. The Mauritania attack was probably done by the government of neighbouring Sierra Leone, which was trying to manipulate local election results by crippling the media.

Apparently, it is possible to take the world offline.

It’s not merely that “someone” out there is trying to figure out how to take down the internet. There are multiple someones out there who want that power. In June 2018, Atlanta’s city government was hobbled by an attack that wiped out a third of its software programs. The FBI told Business Insider earlier this year that it believed terrorists would eventually attempt to take America’s 911 emergency system offline.

Someone is learning how to take down the Internet,” Bruce Schneier, the CTO of IBM Resilient believes.

Three major power suppliers simultaneously taken over by hackers

Next, I talked to Nir Giller, cofounder and CTO of CyberX. He pointed me to the December 2015 blackout in Ukraine, in which three major power suppliers were simultaneously taken over by hackers. The hackers gained remote control of the stations’ dashboards, and manually switched off about 60 substations, leaving 230,000 Ukrainians in the cold and dark for six straight hours.

The hack was almost certainly done by Russia, whose military had invaded Crimea in the south of the country in 2014.

“It’s a new weapon,” Giller says. “It wasn’t an accident. It was a sophisticated, well-coordinated attack.”

The fact that the hackers targeted a power station was telling. The biggest vulnerabilities in Western infrastructure are older facilities, Giller believes. Factories, energy plants, and water companies all operate using machinery that is often very old. New devices and software are installed alongside the older machinery, often to control or monitor it. This is what the industrial “internet of things” looks like. Hackers don’t need to control an entire plant, the way they did in Ukraine. They only need to control an individual sensor on a single machine. “In the best-case scenario you have to get rid of a batch” of product, Giller says. “In the worst case, it’s medicine that is not supervised or produced correctly.”

CyberX has done work for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in California. It claims to be the largest seawater desalination plant in the US. And it serves an area prone to annual droughts. Giller declined to say exactly how CyberX protects the plant but the implication of the company’s work is clear — before CyberX showed up, it was pretty easy to shut down the water supply to about 400,000 people in San Diego.

2010 was the year that cybersecurity experts really woke up to the idea that you could take down infrastructure, not just individual companies or web sites. That was the year the Stuxnet virus was deployed to take down the Iranian nuclear program.

“Stuxnet in 2010 was groundbreaking”

The principle behind Stuxnet was simple: Like all software viruses, it copied and sent itself to as many computers running Microsoft Windows as it possibly could, invisibly infecting hundreds of thousands of operating systems worldwide. Once installed, Stuxnet looked for Siemens Step7 industrial software. If it found some, Stuxnet then asked itself a question: “Is this software operating a centrifuge that spins at the exact frequency of an Iranian nuclear power plant that is enriching uranium to create nuclear weapons?” If the answer was “yes,” Stuxnet changed the data coming from the centrifuges, giving their operators false information. The centrifuges stopped working properly. And one-fifth of the Iranian nuclear program’s enrichment facilities were ruined.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Anti-aircraft guns guarding Natanz Nuclear Facility, Iran.

“Stuxnet in 2010 was groundbreaking,” Giller says.

Groundbreaking, but extremely sophisticated. Some experts believe that the designers of Stuxnet would need access to Microsoft’s original source code — something that only a government like the US or Israel could command.

Russia is another state actor that is growing its anti-infrastructure resources. In April 2017 the US FBI and the British security services warned that Russia had seeded UK wifi routers — the little boxes that serve wireless internet in your living room — with a hack that can read all the internet traffic going through them. It’s not that Vladimir Putin wants to see what you’re looking at on Pornhub. Rather, “What they’re doing there is building capability,” says Andrew Tsonchev, the director of technology at Darktrace Industrial, a London-based cybersecurity firm that specialises in artificially intelligent, proactive security. “They’re building that and investing in that so they can launch attacks from it across the world if and when they need to.”

A simple extortion device disabled Britain’s largest employer in an afternoon

Then, in 2017, the Wannacry virus attack happened. Like Stuxnet, Wannacry also spread itself through the Microsoft Windows ecosystem. Once activated, it locked up a user’s computer and demanded a ransom in bitcoin if the user wanted their data back. It was intended as a way to extort money from people at scale. The Wannacry malware was too successful, however. It affected so many computers at once that it drew attention to itself, and was quickly disabled by a security researcher (who ironically was later accused of being the creator of yet another type of malware).

During its brief life, Wannacry became most infamous for disabling hundreds of computers used by Britain’s National Health Service, and was at one point a serious threat to the UK’s ability to deliver healthcare in some hospitals.

The fact that a simple extortion device could disable Britain’s largest employer in an afternoon did not go unnoticed. Previously, something like Stuxnet needed the sophistication of a nation-state. But Wannacry looked like something you could create in your bedroom.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

A screenshot shows a WannaCry ransomware demand.

Tsonchev told Business Insider that Wannacry changed the culture among serious black-hat hackers.

“It managed to swoop across, and burn down huge sectors in different countries for a bit,” he says. “In the course of that, the shipping industry got hit. We had people like Maersk, and other shipping terminals and operators, they went down for a day or two. What happened is the ransomware managed to get into these port terminals and the harbours that control shipping … that intrigued attackers to realise that was something they could deliberately try and do that wasn’t really in their playbook at that point.”

“Oh look, we can actually start to do things like take down manufacturing plants and affect the global shipping industry”

“So this year, we see follow-on attacks specifically targeting shipping terminals and ports. They hit the Port of Barcelona and the Port of San Diego and others. That seemed to follow the methodology of the lessons learned the previous year. ‘Oh look, we can actually start to do things like take down manufacturing plants and affect the global shipping industry.’ A couple years ago they were just thinking about stealing credit card data.”

Another scary thing? The Wannacry attack was in May 2017. By December 2017, the US government confirmed that the North Korean government was responsible for the attack. The North Koreans probably just wanted money. The hermit-communist state is chronically poor.

But it may have taught North Korea something more useful: You don’t need bombs to bring a nation to its knees.

Oddly, you have a role to play in making sure this doesn’t happen. The reason Russia and North Korea and Israel and the US all got such devastating results in their attacks on foreign infrastructure is because ordinary people are bad at updating the security software on their personal computers. People let their security software get old and vulnerable, and then weeks later they’re hosting Stuxnet or Wannacry or Russia’s wifi listening posts.

National security is, somehow, about “the absurdity of the mundane,” says Tsonchev. “These little annoying popups [on your computer] are actually holding the key to national security and people are just ignoring them. Individuals have a small part to play in keeping the whole country safe.”

So if you’re casting about for a New Year’s resolution right now, consider this one: Resolve to keep your phone and laptop up to date with system security software. Your country needs you.

Featured image by Ivan David Gomez Arce.

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

Articles

Forget The Terminator Arm — DARPA Wants An Implantable Hard Drive For The Brain

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
Photo: YouTube Screengrab


An experimental Pentagon program has already developed two types of a highly advanced, Terminator-like prosthetic arm.

What’s more, a quadriplegic woman with sensors implanted onto her brain controlled one of the robotic limbs to grab a cup, shake hands and eat a chocolate bar. She even flew an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simulator using just her thoughts.

Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to expand on that cutting-edge work to build other potential breakthrough medical technologies, including a pacemaker-sized device that might someday improve the memory of troops who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Think of it as a hard drive of sorts for the brain.

“We know we need a next-generation device that doesn’t exist today,” said Justin Sanchez, who manages DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office in Arlington, Virginia. “That’s what these new programs are all about — not only understanding the brain and these conditions, but building the hardware that enables us to address those issues. You need both.”

Memory Chip

Over more than a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombs and other explosive devices took a toll on the U.S. military. An estimated half to two-thirds of the more than 7,100 Americans killed or wounded in combat were victims of such blasts and some 1,800 lost limbs, according to USA Today. Hundreds of thousands more suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

While researchers have been scanning the brain for years, very little is known about memory, which is stored in the side parts of the brain known as temporal lobes, Sanchez said. Like epileptic patients, troops who damage this part of the brain can suffer from memory loss and other issues.

One of DARPA’s newer projects, Restoring Active Memory, seeks to build a prosthetic device that could aid in the formation and recall declarative memory, a form of long-term memory that can be recalled such as a fact. For example, a future experiment might involve a patient who is asked to identify a series of faces and names with the aid of an implant.

“The twist on this is he or she will be interacting with a prosthetic device,” Sanchez said. “So at some face and name presentations, maybe we’ll stimulate the part of the brain that is involved in the memory formation and see if there are particular patterns of stimulation that can facilitate the formation and recall of that memory.”

Terminator Arm

The research builds on the work of a precursor program, called Revolutionizing Prosthetics, which dates back almost a decade and reflects the cornerstone of the agency’s research into neural signaling.

Jan Scheuermann, one of two patients in the program, in 2012 agreed to let surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center implant a pair of pea-sized electrodes onto her left motor cortex — which controls movement — and connects her to a robotic arm. She hoped she might feed herself for the first time in a decade. She did that and more.

Scheuermann, a 55-year-old mother of two who became paralyzed in middle-age due to a rare neurological disorder known as spinocerebellar degeneration, became so adept at manipulating the arm developed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory that her participation in the study was extended until October, when the electrode arrays were removed.

“That is the first program in the agency where you have humans interacting with really advanced prosthetic devices to do something extremely useful,” Sanchez said.

Reading the Mind

The sensors on Scheuermann’s brain measured just four-millimeters long, yet included hundreds of contact points designed to pick up signals from individual brain cells called neurons.

“When you intend to move your arm, for example, there are certain places in your brain that become active, the neurons that are there become active, and that activity can occur when you physically move your arm or even if you imagine moving your arm,” Sanchez said.

The signals were relayed to a computer running software that matched the activity to patterns associated with physical movements, such as raising or lowering an arm. Scientists used vector mathematics to build algorithms that determined the intended motion of the not only the arm, but also the wrist and fingers. The code translated into operating instructions for the robotic prosthesis.

“Neurons in this particular part of your brain are tuned to certain movement directions,” Sanchez said. “You can imagine how you can use that information to operate a robotic arm. Once you know those associations, you can say, ‘Oh, whenever I see that guy firing, I’m trying to go in this direction.”

Flying the F-35

While the program’s potential real-world applications aren’t limited to prosthetics, patients won’t be flying drones into combat anytime soon. When Scheuermann piloted the F-35 simulator, she didn’t drop bombs or launch missiles. Rather, she simply cruised along — sometimes erratically — and tried to bank the aircraft on simple flight patterns.

The process of linking her brain to the aircraft’s motion was similar to the robotic arm. Scientists would tell her to imagine trying to steer the plane to the right and left, and then would have to figure out how the neural activity would connect to control of the rudders.

“You have to try to find this functional mapping,” Sanchez said. “This is a real core part of this from a science perspective: How do you learn what those signals in the brain mean when you intend to do something and how do they relate to the device you’re trying to actuate, whether it’s a robotic arm or an airplane?”

Scheuermann also virtually piloted a small Cessna plane around the Eiffel Tower in Paris — an experience she found “liberating,” Sanchez said.

“That’s a really powerful statement,” Sanchez said. “We think of neurotechnology as hardware, but we don’t often think about it in terms of how it can improve somebody’s life or change somebody’s life.”

Bringing Back Sensation

The next and final phase of the program will seek to reverse the signaling process by understanding the patterns for sensation in the central nervous system.

“It’s really easy to say, ‘We want to bring sensation back,’ but it’s really difficult to actually do it,” Sanchez said. “You have to go to a different part of the brain that’s involved in the perception of touch — the primary central cortex — and again the challenge is the same: You have an electronic device that is measuring something and we need to translate that into signals that the brain understands.”

His office is working to identify potential civilian patients for the program. The agency doesn’t perform experiments on troops, even though the research is designed to help those who serve.

“Military personnel make the ultimate sacrifice,” Sanchez said. “They serve our nation and their lives often are changed through their injury. The very least we can do is develop a technology that will help to improve their quality of life. We have to stay true to that. It’s essential.”

Reversible Procedure

In the early 2000s, connecting a brain to a robotic prosthesis would have required multiple rooms full of computers, cables and other hardware. While its recent work proved it could be done with more advanced systems and less space, the agency still wants much smaller components.

“All of the new programs have fundamentally by their design the goal of developing medical devices that are fully implantable — the size of a cardiac pacemaker that could be implanted somewhere in the body,” Sanchez said.

Under another new effort called Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (Subnets), DARPA is funding the development of implantable devices designed to more precisely identify and treat psychiatric diseases.

“All of these procedures, at least the ones we’ve talked about thus far, are reversible,” he added. “Neurotechnology is being designed in such a way that it’s reversible, so if it’s not providing a benefit for you, you don’t use it. You just take it out.”

More From Military.com

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2014. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Shia hits the fan: Understanding Iran’s role in the Middle East

The Islamic Republic of Iran was America’s original nemesis in the Middle East before Saddam’s Iraq stole the spotlight from 1990-2003. (Saddam and the Iranians, by the way, fought a bloody 8-year war against each other in the 1980s.) A casual observer might assume that the Islamic Republic of Iran must be best buddies with the infamous Islamic State (ISIS)…but no, they share a mutual hatred of each other.


Yeah, it’s all a bit complicated and messy, so strap in, and we’ll clear things up a bit.

Iran is a theocracy, meaning the country is governed by religious law. Rather than a single strongman dictator, Iran is ruled by a group of religious clerics who control the country’s “elected” leaders like former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (remember him?) Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 after religious fundamentalists overthrew the secular government of Shah Reza Pahlevi.

The Shah was a dictator, albeit one less brutal than the current regime, who came to power in 1954 with the help of the American CIA. It was a bad look for Uncle Sam, and many Iranians never forgot it.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

American hostages in Iran following the Islamist takeover of 1979.

(Source: Associated Press)

The Iranians are not Arabs like their neighbors to the west. Rather, they are Persians. Instead of Arabic, they speak a dialect of Persian called Farsi. The Iranians are predominantly Shia Muslims, whereas most Arabs are Sunni Muslims.

Theologically, Shias and Sunnis are akin to Protestants and Catholics in the Western world. 85-90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni and, while the world’s Shia are concentrated in Iran, there are Shia minorities throughout the Arab world. Iraq is unique because it has both an Arab majority and a Shia majority, giving Iran a prime opportunity for heavy influence there (check the news…)

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are Sunni jihadist groups, whereas Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and many of the large militias in Iraq are Shia.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(Source: Pew Research Center)

So the Iranians are Persians and not Arabs, and their leaders are fundamentalist Muslims but from the opposite branch of Islam than bin Laden and the Islamic State.

So what’s Iran’s game plan? In a nutshell, Iran wants to preserve and spread its “Islamic revolution” by boxing out the Sunni Arabs and supporting Shia groups across the Middle East (they also work with certain Sunni groups like Hamas.)

To dominate the Middle East, Iran’s leaders want to exploit the “Shia Crescent,” a network of Shia populations stretching from the Persian Gulf to Lebanon. Iran’s message to these Shia populations is “Big Brother Iran is here to save you from the Sunnis, the Israelis, and the Americans.”

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(Source: Geographic Intelligence Services)

You can think of the fight against ISIS as World War II, with ISIS filling the role of Nazi Germany. During WWII, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union set aside their rivalries to defeat a common threat. The Defeat-ISIS campaign was similar in that Iran’s Shia coalition shared a mutual enemy with the American/Sunni alliance, even though the two sides weren’t officially partners.

But now, like in 1945, the old rivalries are back in play once again. On one side, Iran leads Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and other Shia factions in the region. Opposing them are the Sunni Arab countries aligned with the United States.

Fear and mistrust of Iran runs deep in countries like Saudi Arabia- so deep, in fact, that Saudi Arabia has reportedly made secret arrangements with Israel to counter the Iranian threat (that’s, uh, a plot twist…to put it mildly.) Iraq, with its Shia majority but close and complicated relationship with the United States, remains stuck in a tug-of-war between the rival coalitions.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Alleged secret plan for Israeli aircraft to use Saudi airspace to strike Iran. Saudi Arabia publicly denies this.

(Source: Rick Francona)

Iran was once the great ancient empire of Persia, and there is more to modern Iran than its leaders’ ambitions. Iran has a population of over 80 million, and resentment toward the regime is widespread. Strict religious tyranny and a weak economy cause frequent protests which the Iranian regime suppresses with ruthless violence. It’s unclear if this unrest will eventually put the regime’s power in serious jeopardy.

Iran’s economic problems are driven in part by economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe. These sanctions, in turn, are imposed partly as a result of Iran’s nuclear program- a program which, the regime insists, is strictly for domestic energy production. Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons is concerning because an atomic Iran could lead its Sunni rivals to pursue their own nuclear weapons.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Iranian protesters in 2009.

(Source: Getty Images)

Further Iranian vs. American bloodshed seems to have been averted in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, but violence between the two countries is nothing new.

The infamous 1983 Beirut bombing, which killed 241 U.S. servicemen, was perpetrated by an Iranian suicide bomber and 1988’s “Operation Praying Mantis” pitted the U.S. Navy against the Iranian Navy in the largest American naval combat operation since WWII. The whole region remains a Game of Thrones-tier snake pit of conflicting loyalties, religious conflict, and political scheming.

Hopefully now, however, you better understand what led to the U.S. government ordering a drone strike on that guy who looked like Sean Connery.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Iranian Quds Force general Qasem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike in January 2020.

(Source: Getty Images)

Articles

Why the F-4 Phantom is one of the US military’s most beloved airplanes

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom was the workhorse of the U.S. military during its operational lifetime. First introduced in 1961, it served the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force until the mid-1990s. There’s a reason the United States built more F-4s than any other supersonic aircraft. 

F-4s were the go-to fighters over Vietnam, the only plane used by both the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, and they’re still fighting – ISIS is just the latest victim of the F-4 Phantom.

It wasn’t the prettiest looking aircraft, a far cry from the sleek aerodynamic beauty possessed by the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Pilots and maintainers alike knew it was ugly, they even nicknamed it the “double ugly.” but those who flew the Phantom knew it was a reliable aircraft that could accelerate like nothing that came before it. 

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
Ugly? Nah, she’s a beaut. (U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation)

It was also easy to fly, according to many pilots. One problem for fighter pilots was its wide turning radius that could be a liability in a dogfight, but the Navy and the Air Force both gave instruction to pilots on how to beat enemy fighters that could make tighter turns, a testament to the ease of instruction. 

For pilots and backseaters, the Phantom was designed to be less claustrophobic, using an improved canopy to increase in-flight visibility. It also had one of the most advanced radar systems available at the time. 

It set an altitude record in 1959 when Navy Cmdr. Lawrence Flint Jr. managed to take it to 47,000 feet at Mach 2.5. He then climbed up at 45 degrees and shut down the engines to glide up to 98,557 feet. As he descended, he restarted the engines. That’s reliability.

When first introduced, the F-4 didn’t have mounted cannons, which, combined with some unreliable missiles, also made it difficult in air-to-air combat. But the F-4E variant was produced with a 20mm cannon on the chin of the aircraft, adding an extra dimension to the F-4’s capabilities in the air. 

Even from the beginning, the F-4’s powerful J-79 engines meant it could produce 35,000 pounds of thrust, accelerating to twice the speed of sound even on its first flight. By 1962, it was setting time-to-climb records, flying to 29,500 feet in 61 seconds. In its first years of flight, the Navy and Air Force both set airspeed records – “Speed is life” became the motto of F-4 pilots.

Since it could be refueled mid-flight, it was used to fly across the United States in celebration for the 50th anniversary of naval aviation. Most of the Phantoms assigned to make the transcontinental flight made the trip in under three hours, but one made it in 2 hours and 47 minutes, earning the naval aviator and his radar intercept officer the coveted Bendix Trophy for transcontinental racing in 1961. 

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
 It was called “Project LANA” The Roman letter “L” meaning “50”, “ANA” standing for the “(50th)Anniversary of Naval Aviation.” This particular Phantom didn’t win the race. (U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation)

On April 9, 1965, the Navy scored the first F-4 aerial kill in combat against a Chinese-made MiG-17 over the skies of North Vietnam. The first aerial victory scored against an enemy fighter came on April 26, 1965, when an F-4 downed a North Vietnamese MiG-21. The U.S. military would be hooked on the Phantom for the next 30 years. 

Feature image: U.S. Air Force

MIGHTY TACTICAL

See what happened when world’s top snipers competed

The finest snipers in the US military, as well as local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies, have been battling it out against teams from across the US and around the world in the annual International Sniper Competition.

The Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment came in first, the Colorado Army National Guard took second, and Sweden’s 17th Wing Air Force Rangers came in third. There were also some surprises in the rankings.


This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

According to the Army, teams must complete “a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills that include, but are not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment.”

Source: US Army

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Snipers play a critical role in combat, with missions including “precision fires on enemy personnel and equipment, intelligence gathering, counter-sniper operations, infiltration and overwatch of [named areas of interest], occupation of and operations in support by fire positions, ballistic interdiction of IEDs, and disruption of enemy operations.”

Source: US Army

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

“Working together in this venue is a great way for us to share ideas, build rapport, and train our forces,” Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the US Army Infantry School commandant, said at the closing ceremony, “After all, the purpose of the International Sniper Competition is to improve our collective lethality.”

Source: Fort Benning Public Affairs Office

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

(U.S. Army photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

US Army teams dominated the competition. One surprising result: The US Coast Guard’s Special Missions Training Detachment edged out the US Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper instructors.

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

Humor

5 kid toys troops will reuse for tactical reasons

Children love playing with toys. So, it makes sense that immature adults love playing with toys, too. A benefit of being in the military is that we can pretend like there’s actually a legitimate reason for playing along.


Somewhere along the line, a high-ranking officer saw that same immature troop accomplish some good through playing with toys and gave the following the seal of approval.

1. Nerf guns

Never underestimate the abilities of a bored infantry platoon looking for a way to let off steam. Stacking and clearing “glass houses” (which are really just white tape on the ground) and using your gun-shaped fingers as mock-weaponry gets kinda dull after a while.

What’s actually fun is when the platoons of hardened warfighters practice their battle drills in the barracks by kicking in doors and tagging each other with Nerf darts while they’re on the toilet.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
You thought civilian office pranks were bad? Check out an infantry platoon on a regular Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Peterson)

2. Paintball guns

The rules of engagement are taken very seriously by troops who are deployed. First, you must establish a show of force, letting a potential enemy know you’re armed. Then, you shout, usually through an interpreter or in broken Farsi, to let the enemy know they should back the f*ck up. If they still don’t back away, you can physically “shove” them in the direction they should be going in. Finally, use of force is authorized.

Some troops find it easier to just cover their feet with colored paint than to bust out the real weapons.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
The real ones don’t really shoot red paint. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison)

3. Little, green Army men

Sand tables are used by commanders to show a rough overview of the mission. Many different things can be designated as a unit. This broken stick? The objective. And this pebble will flank in through the south — like this.

Commanders can clear away a bunch of the confusion by ordering a $5 bucket of plastic Army guys. Add a little bit of paint and you’ve got some distinct markers.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
“Okay, first platoon. You’re going to wave your rifles in the air like an idiot. Second, you’re going to kneel with a radio.” (Photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

4. Silly String

Trip wires are placed by the enemy on the paths through which troops will walk. When someone bumps into it, the attached explosives detonate. The solution? A cheap can of Silly String.

The string shoots out pretty far and is so soft and light that it won’t set off the wire. If troops spray it through a doorway, they’ll quickly discover a trap. Even if a wire is sensitive enough to be tripped by silly string, the surprisingly long range of the spray gives troops enough distance to mitigate some of the explosion.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

5. Walkie-talkies

The military has plans for everything, especially communication. Primarily, units depend on secured, frequency-hopping radios. Alternatively, troops can rely on a slightly less secure radio. In case of an absolute emergency, send a runner.

A cheap, effective, “ah-crap” plan is to use regular walkie-talkies instead of sending that runner to maintain unit integrity.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
At least opt for the non-kiddie version to save some dignity. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Koster)

Articles

This Marine Corporal is helping his fellow vets “cowboy up”

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
Photos courtesy Semper Fi Fund


For Marine Corporal Alex Monaghan, who retired from the Corps in 2009 after four years as a rifleman during which he deployed twice (once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan), the phrase “boots on the ground” has taken on a far different meaning than those words typically suggest.

That’s because Alex is the first graduate of a brand-new Semper Fi Fund program: Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program, which helps service members learn valuable skills that they could one day leverage to start a business.

In Alex’s case, that skill is making high-quality cowboy boots.

It all began when Alex was considering going on “one of these horse stints,” as he describes it, as part of the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program. While filling out the paperwork, there was a question at the bottom asking, “Are you interested in learning any of these skills?” Among the skills listed were knife-making, silver-engraving, roping … and making cowboy boots.

“It was weird that it was on there,” Alex recalls. “I always wanted to design my own boots. It’s a two-week program in St. Jo, Texas. The days are long—12 hours a day, six days a week—and there’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time. You get a pair of customized boots when you’re done.”

The time may have been short, but Alex was learning from the best: The boot-making program is run by Carlton T. Chappell, a third-generation award-winning bootmaker who started in leathercraft in 1964 and has been recognized as one of the very best bootmakers in the world.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
“It’s pretty neat,” Alex says. “You can’t learn everything in two weeks—Carl is in his 70s or 80s now, and he’s still learning new techniques every day–but it’s interesting. There’s always something new to learn, a new skill to master.”

While making a quality pair of cowboy boots is intricate and artistic work, Alex felt he had something of a head start over his half-dozen or so classmates.

“I did tattoo work for a couple of years,” he explains. “As far as working with machines and stuff, you have this huge thing on the table—you still have to draw out your sketch pattern and sew it up. I felt as if I had some advantage, because I’d been doing something similar to it.”

After finishing the two-week seminar, Alex went on to serve a month-long apprenticeship in Vernon, Texas, with award-winning bootmaker Dew Westover. Dew spent 20 years as a working cowboy, attended Carl’s seminar in 2002 and opened his own boot shop in 2004.

Alex made two pair of boots during his apprenticeship, and now he’s studying business at Texas AM as part of an entrepreneurship for veterans program.

Looking back over the years since he’s left active duty, Alex has seen a number of ups and downs in his own life, but he credits the Semper Fi Fund with helping him get out and get active—and he encourages his fellow veterans to do the same.

“If there are vets who are thinking about these sorts of programs, and they’re itchy or worried about it, I say just give it a try.”

“A lot of vets create a bubble and don’t go out in public,” Alex continues. “I think it’s a great experience—you have buddies to hang out with, you’re pushing yourself to do things that your anxiety or PTSD is preventing you from doing. I do these things, it pushes me to get out and go on the road and deal with people.”

“I would encourage more vets to get out there and find something they enjoy. Whether it’s bike riding or horseback riding or whatever—I’m sure the Semper Fi Fund has something for them.”

To learn more about Alex, the Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program and how these types of programs assist our nation’s veterans visit Semper Fi Fund Apprenticeship Program.

 Special thanks to the incredible generosity of one very special family for helping to provide funding for this important program in memory of their brother who wished to remember whose who serve.

We Are The Mighty is teaming up with Semper Fi Fund and comedian Rob Riggle to present the Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic. The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families. Learn more at InVETational.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China prepares forces in contested waters for war

China’s commander-in-chief has ordered the military command overseeing the contested South China Sea to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected the Southern Theater Command Oct. 25, 2018, again stressing the need build a force that can “fight and win wars” in the modern age. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war,” he explained, adding that the command has a “heavy military responsibility” to “take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.”


“You’re constantly working at the front line, and playing key roles in protecting national territorial sovereignty and maritime interests,” Xi said, according to the China Daily, “I hope you can fulfill such sacred and solemn missions.”

The powerful Chinese leader has made strengthening and modernizing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a top priority.

As Xi delivered his speech in Guangdong province, Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe warned that China will not give up “one single piece” of its territorial holdings, adding that “challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan could lead China to use military force.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

(DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The US Navy recently sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait, a move that, like the US military’s frequent bomber overflights and freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, angered Beijing.

Tensions have been running particularly high in the South China Sea in recent months, with regular US B-52 bomber flights through the region and Chinese PLA Navy warships challenging American military ships and aircraft that venture too close to Chinese-occupied territories in the disputed waterway.

US Navy Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said Oct. 29, 2018, that the US Navy will continue to carry out freedom-of-navigation operations and challenge “illegitimate maritime claims.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the US Air Force is creating futuristic fighters

Technology around the world is constantly improving, which influences the Air Force to keep up with these new developments by innovating and finding ways to effectively train airmen.

At Dyess Air Force Base, these updates can be seen in various virtual reality training systems. Now, the 7th Security Forces Squadron is implementing the newly-improved Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator as part of their regular training curriculum.

“The MILO is a 300-degree training simulator which fully immerses our trainees in many different scenarios they may encounter,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Valentine, 7th SFS instructor. “This new system forces the airmen that go through it to really be aware of their surroundings and create muscle memory, unlike our older system which has them stationary in front of one screen.”


The MILO consists of five screens, with trainees placed in the center. During each encounter, airmen are able to train on the most efficient positions to stand or walk while being recorded from above to review how they handled themselves.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, speaks to a disgruntled individual during a noise complaint simulation in the Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 18, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

The simulator can create a variety of encounters including active shooters, noise complaints, trespassers and calls regarding individuals who may be in danger.

Each scenario has the ability to be manipulated by an instructor based on the trainee’s responses to conversations or actions. This allows the airmen to have a more realistic perspective of the different outcomes their actions can cause.

“The airmen are not only able to train with firearms for the system, but with non-lethal methods like a baton,” said Richard Cook, 7th SFS instructor. “This helps to show them that they are able to use non-lethal ways to stop confrontations in certain situations.”

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

Staff. Sgt. Jordan Valentine, 7th Security Forces Squadron instructor, left, watches Airman 1st Class Jarod Nalls, 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, middle, and Airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, right, as they encounter a simulated active school shooter with the Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives training simulator at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 18, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

For both, the instructors and trainees, MILO helps to effectively lower man hours needed for the training. One instructor is able to control the scenes and debrief the airmen, rather than requiring multiple participants to create a situation for the trainees to react to.

“It was an interesting and new experience when we walked into the new system,” said airman 1st Class Lisa Villarreal, 7th Force Support Squadron career development journeyman, who was training for her security forces’ augmentee duty. “You become immersed and it made you really think on your surroundings to keep an eye on any potential threats.”

The MILO software also allows security forces members to share scenarios with defenders on other Air Force installations across the U.S.

As the technological world continues to grow, the Air Force will continue to improve airmen’s training to fly, fight and win.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This forgotten MiG was China’s air combat workhorse

When the term ‘MiG’ is thrown about, some planes come to mind immediately. The MiG-15, which fought the North American F-86 Sabre for control of the skies over Korea, is one of the more famous designs. The MiG-21 Fishbed, which still sees active service, was the best plane used by the Soviet-backed North Vietnamese. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is a front-line fighter for some countries.


But one MiG escapes the limelight: the MiG-19 Farmer. Despite being relatively unknown, this aircraft had its own moments of glory as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
A right front underside view of a Soviet MiG-19 Farmer fighter aircraft in flight. (Photo from the DoD)

As MilitaryFactory.com notes, the MiG-19 was seen by the Soviets as a stopgap to replace the MiG-17 Fresco until the MiG-21 was ready. The Chinese Communists got a production license before the Sino-Soviet split and began building their own copy of the plane, called the J-6 Farmer. The MiG-19 had a top speed of 902 miles per hour and a maximum range of 1,367 miles.

The MiG-19 saw action over Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In one moment of glory, MiG-19s shot down the F-4 Phantom, flown by Air Force pilots Robert Lodge and Roger Locher, as it tried to shoot down a MiG-21. While some versions of this aircraft carried missiles, most relied on a battery of three 30mm cannon for air-to-air combat.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

The Soviets produced just over 2,700 MiG-19s, many of which went to allies in the Middle East. Communist China produced over 3,000 of the J-6 Famers, some of which went to North Vietnam and flew alongside Soviet-built fighters, like the MiG-17 and MiG-21.

Learn more about this often-forgotten plane in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBdCUJUGEFw
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
Articles

Military applicants will now take same drug tests as active duty members

Drug testing for all applicants for military service is expanding to include the same 26-drug panel used for active military members, the Defense Department’s director of drug testing and program policy said.


The change, effective April 3, 2017, is due to the level of illicit and prescription medication abuse among civilians, as well as the increase in heroin and synthetic drug use within the civilian population, Army Col. Tom Martin explained.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
Army Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a ceremonial swearing-in of Delayed Entry Program enlistees at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

Currently, military applicants are tested for marijuana; cocaine; amphetamines, including methamphetamine; and designer amphetamines such as MDMA —also known as “Molly” or “Ecstasy” — and MDA, also known as “Adam,” he said.

The expanded testing will include those drugs as well as heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and a number of synthetic cannabinoids and benzodiazepine sedatives, Martin said.

Related: 13 hilarious urinalysis memes every troop will understand

The new standards apply to all military applicants, including recruits entering through military entrance processing stations, as well as appointees to the service academies, incoming members of the ROTC, and officer candidates undergoing initial training in an enlisted status.

Ensuring the Best Enter Military

With drug use incompatible with military service, the expanded testing is meant to ensure readiness by admitting only the most qualified people, Martin said. Incoming service members will be held to the same standards as current military members, who are subject to random drug testing up to three times a year, he added.

This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat
It’s not like at the doc’s office. It’s so much more than that.

“Military applicants currently are tested on a small subset of drugs that military members are tested on,” Martin said. “Applicants need to be aware of the standard we hold our service members to when they join the service.”

About 279,400 applicants are processed for entry into military service each year, with roughly 2,400 of them testing positive for drugs, Martin said. Data indicates that about 450 additional people will test positive using the expanded testing, he said.

Policy Details

The updated policy allows applicants who test positive to reapply after 90 days, if the particular service allows it, Martin said. Any individual who tests positive on the second test is permanently disqualified from military service, he said, but he noted that the services have the discretion to apply stricter measures and can disqualify someone after one positive test.

Current policy allows for different standards for reapplication depending on the type of drug, Martin said. The updated policy is universal and allows only one opportunity to reapply for military service regardless of drug type, he said.

The update to Department of Defense Instruction 1010.16 was published Feb. 27.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

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