This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks - We Are The Mighty
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This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Not every country in the world can afford to buy and operate the latest and greatest armored war machines available on defense markets today, like the M1A2 Abrams or the Leopard 2 main battle tanks.


Some countries opt to refrain from maintaining a fleet of tanks at all, and others, like Paraguay, choose to use refurbished armored steeds from conflicts long past.

As crazy as it may sound, the backbone of the Paraguayan military’s sole armored squadron consists of a humble handful of M4 Sherman medium tanks and M3 Stuart light tanks. Both of these vehicles were last fully relevant when Allied forces marched across Europe on their path to victory against the Axis scourge.

Paraguay received its small complement of Shermans in 1980 from Argentina, while the Stuarts were donated by the Brazilian government in the 1970s. By the time the small South American nation received these second-hand vehicles, however, they were already obsolete and outclassed, unable to stand up to anti-tank weaponry or even other armored vehicles anymore.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
A British Army M3 light tank operating in North Africa during WWII (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

But in recent years, the Paraguayan army has decided to reactivate its fleet of Shermans and Stuarts, “modernizing” them by installing new engines and replacing the M4’s small battery of .30 caliber Browning M1919 medium machine guns with .50 caliber M2 ‘Ma Deuce’ heavy machine guns.

The Sherman was born of a need for a medium-sized tank that was easy to mass produce and deploy overseas in large numbers, swarming larger and more heavily-armored German tanks during WWII. Cheap to produce, and pretty reliable if treated well, the Sherman was a fairly potent killing machine in the hands of tank commanders who knew what they were doing.

The Argentinian military received 450 Shermans from Belgium in the 1940s, putting them through a series of upgrades over the next 30 years that would see these old tanks get larger guns and new diesel engines. A small selection of these Shermans were passed on to Paraguay, though it’s unclear whether or not the examples donated were modernized or left in their original configurations.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
Argentinian M4 Shermans with modified turrets. Similar tanks were shipped to Paraguay in 1980 (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

According to Ian Hogg in his book, “Tank Killing,” the Stuart, wasn’t exactly very effective at all in engaging German armor. Though it was one of the few light tanks capable of firing high-explosive shells, it was better utilized as a high speed reconnaissance vehicle by British forces throughout the African theater during WWII, with its turret removed to cut down on weight.

Brazil picked up its Stuarts from the United States in WWII, actually shipping them overseas for combat in Italy as part of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. Upon the end of the war, these tanks were returned to South America by ship and were upgraded in the 1970s. During that decade, Brazil donated 15 Stuarts to Paraguay.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
An M4 of the Royal Marines in Normandy after D-Day, 1944 (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Paraguay can afford to use these older machines in place of newer heavy tanks mostly because the country hasn’t seen much war over the past 40-odd years. Currently, the military claims these modernized Shermans and Stuarts will only be used for training purposes, though the endgame of the training is highly suspect, considering that the vehicles in question aren’t fit for combat against a decently-armed enemy.

It is possible, however, that these old fighting machines could be eventually used in the long-standing counterinsurgency effort Paraguay has been embroiled in against guerrillas since 2005. Though their hulls would likely be easily destroyed by small anti-tank weapons like the M72 LAW, the armor would still be able to stand up to small arms like pistols and rifles.

Even if Paraguay never uses its tanks in combat, its geriatric fleet will still work in a pinch should the need arise — at least against unarmored and under-gunned enemies.

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Upgrade advances A-10’s search capability

A-10C Thunderbolt IIs assigned to active duty fighter squadrons here are in the process of having new lightweight airborne recovery systems installed.


The LARS V-12 is designed to allow A-10 pilots to communicate more effectively with individuals on the ground such as downed pilots, pararescuemen and joint terminal attack controllers.

Related: Watch the effects of an A-10’s GAU-8 cannon on an enemy building

The LARS system provides the A-10 pilots with GPS coordinates of ground personnel and enables them to communicate via voice or text, according to Staff Sgt. Andre Gonzalez, 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician.

The systems upgrades are being installed by the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
An A-10C Thunderbolt II upgraded with a new lightweight airborne recovery system V-12 rests on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 21, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mya M. Crosby

“This urgent operational need arose in August (2016),” said Timothy Gray, 309th AMARG acting director. “Air Combat Command and the A-10 Program Office asked me if AMARG could complete 16 aircraft by 16 December. I said ‘Absolutely!’ It was awesome to see Team AMARG take on this massive logistical challenge, build a production machine, find facilities, manpower, equipment, tools, and make material kits (to) execute the requirement.”

In the last three months, the technicians have completed LARS installations on 19 aircraft from Davis-Monthan and Moody AFB, Ga., which will ultimately provide pilots and ground personnel downrange with a valuable search capability.

“A-10 pilots take the Combat Search and Rescue role very seriously,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde, 354th Fighter Squadron commander and A-10 pilot. “While this is just one tool, it can assist us in bringing them back to U.S. soil safely.”
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The Russian military officer who ‘saved the world’ from nuclear armageddon in 1983

The “Judgment Day” of the Terminator films didn’t come on Aug. 29, 1997. But it almost came on Sept. 26, 1983.


This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Deep inside the Soviet Union that early September morning, a Soviet military officer was hearing an alarm signaling that the U.S. had launched its intercontinental ballistic missiles at his country. His name was Stanislav Petrov, and he had mere moments to react — and launch a counter-attack of Russian missiles.

“I realized that I had to make some kind of decision, and I was only 50/50,” Petrov told The Associated Press. Petrov, the duty officer whose job was to pass to his superiors reports of enemy missile launches, instead dismissed the signals as false alarms. It was not the correct protocol, but since his going against the rules saved the world from nuclear armageddon, we aren’t too mad about it.

“A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Computers changed their alerts from ‘launch’ to ‘missile strike’,” he told the BBC. “I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

From The Telegraph:

Just three weeks before, the Russians had shot down a Korean jet liner with 269 passengers on board, including a US Congressman and 60 other Americans, after wrongly suspecting it of being a spy plane. The incident pushed East-West tensions to their highest since the Cuban missile crisis, and prompted Ronald Reagan’s infamous remark that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire”.

So when, at 0015 hours, the bright red warning lights started flashing and a loud klaxon horn began wailing, indicating a missile from West Coast USA, Petrov and his colleagues feared the very, very worst. “I saw, that a missile had been fired, aimed at us,” he recalls. “It was an adrenalin shock. I will never forget it.”

Fortunately, Petrov reported the incident as an equipment malfunction. It turned out he was right, as it was later found the satellite had mistaken the sun’s reflection off high clouds as a launch, according to AP.

He was not hailed as a hero in the Soviet Union. Instead, the government swept the potentially embarrassing incident under the rug and he was reprimanded “for incorrectly filling in a log book,” the UK Express reported.

It’s a story that would make for a great movie. Which is probably why there is now a movie:

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US Defense Chief says nukes still ‘bedrock’ of American security

Defense Secretary Ash Carter kicked off a visit to DoD’s nuclear deterrence enterprise, telling airmen at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, that DoD will invest, innovate and sustain to rebuild that enterprise’s capabilities that remain the bedrock of U.S. defense strategy.


The secretary spoke at a hangar on the flightline of the base. He thanked the airmen at the base, and by extension, thanked the thousands of other technicians who man, maintain, guard and operate the bombers, ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines and the command-and-control systems around the world.

“As you know, everyone has their role to play,” he said, “and while each physical piece is important, it’s really the people who make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Launch Facility-4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base Calif. The Minuteman III ICBM is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lael Huss)

The secretary emphasized throughout his talk with the airmen that America’s nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of U.S. security and the highest priority mission in the Defense Department.

“Because while it is a remarkable achievement that in the more than seven decades since 1945, nuclear weapons have not again been used in war, that’s not something we can ever take for granted,” he said. “And that’s why today, I want to talk about how we’re innovating and investing to sustain that bedrock.”

Carter has a long history with the nuclear mission, working in the 1980s on basing for the MX missile system. He speaks from experience when he says the deterrence mission has both remained the same and changed.

“At a strategic level, of course, you deter large-scale nuclear attack against the United States and our allies,” he said. “You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression. You assure allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible — enabling many of them to forgo developing nuclear weapons themselves, despite the tough strategic environment they find themselves in and the technological ease with which they could develop such weapons.”

The nuclear deterrent also provides an umbrella under which service members accomplish conventional missions around the world, the secretary said.

But the nuclear landscape has changed and it will continue to pose challenges, Carter said.

“One way the nuclear landscape has changed: we didn’t build new types of nuclear weapons or delivery systems for the last 25 years, but others did, at the same time that our allies in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO did not,” the secretary said, “so we must continue to sustain our deterrence.”

Russia has modernized its nuclear arsenal, and there is some doubt about Russian leaders’ strategies for the weapons.

“Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations underscore that a diverse and dynamic spectrum of nuclear threats still exists,” Carter said. “So our deterrence must be credible, and extended to our allies in the region.”

North Korea is building nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them, the secretary said. The North Korean threat spurs spending on missile defense in the United States and the deployment of systems to South Korea, he added.

“We back all of that up with the commitment that any attack on America or our allies will be not only defeated, but that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response,” Carter said.

India and China are behaving responsibly with their nuclear enterprises, the secretary said.

“In Iran, their nuclear aspirations have been constrained and transparency over their activities increased by last year’s nuclear accord, which, as long as it continues to be implemented, will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Carter said. “The last example I’ll cite is Pakistan, where nuclear weapons are entangled in a history of tension, and while they are not a threat to the United States directly, we work with Pakistan to ensure stability.”

Despite the changes since the end of the Cold War, the nature of deterrence has not changed, the secretary said.

“Even in 2016, deterrence still depends on perception — what potential adversaries see, and therefore believe — about our will and ability to act,” he said. “This means that as their perceptions shift, so must our strategy and actions.”

A large-scale nuclear attack is not likely, the secretary said. The most likely scenario is “the unwise resort to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea, to try to coerce a conventionally superior opponent to back off or abandon an ally during a crisis,” Carter said. “We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence and continue to preserve strategic stability.”

NATO is reexamining the nuclear strategy to integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence to deter Russia, he said.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the United States engages in formal deterrence dialogues with its allies Japan and South Korea, Carter said, “to ensure we’re poised to address nuclear deterrence challenges in Asia.”

Carter said the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that its nuclear triad — bombers, ICBMS and ballistic missile submarines — do not become obsolete.

“We’re now beginning the process of correcting decades of under-investment in nuclear deterrence,” the secretary said.

The Pentagon has underfunded its nuclear deterrence enterprise since the end of the Cold War, Carter added.

“Over the last 25 years since then, we only made modest investments in basic sustainment and operations, about $15 billion a year,” he said. “And it turned out that wasn’t enough.”

The fiscal year 2017 budget request invests a total of $19 billion in the nuclear enterprise, Carter said. Over the next five years, he said, plans call for the department to spend $108 billion to sustain and recapitalize the nuclear force and associated strategic command, control, communications, and intelligence systems.

The budget also looks to modernization, the secretary said. Plans call for replacing old ICBMs with new ones that will be less expensive to maintain, keeping strategic bombers effective in the face of more advanced air defense systems, and building replacements for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the secretary said.

“If we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective,” Carter said. “The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives. So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping them. It’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can’t afford in today’s volatile security environment.”

While these plans are expensive, they are only a small percentage of total defense spending, the secretary said.

“In the end, though, this is about maintaining the bedrock of our security,” Carter said. “And after too many years of not investing enough, it’s an investment that we as a nation have to make, because it’s critical to sustaining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century.”

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This is how the ‘Handsomest Man in the Luftwaffe’ lost his looks

With more than 900 missions under his belt, Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was one of the most famous German fighter pilots during WWII and was reportedly known as the “Handsomest Man in the Luftwaffe.”


Operating everywhere from the western to the eastern fronts, Steinhoff squared off with some of the world’s best pilots at the time and racked up  176 victories. But he was also shot down a dozen times.

The German ace nearly rode his damaged plane all the way down to the ground every time because he didn’t trust that the parachutes would properly deploy if he jumped out.

Related: These 7 American legends were pilots for the Flying Tigers

Although he was very efficient during the war, Steinhoff was known for spearheading the fighter pilots’ revolt of January 1945 by voicing concerns to the corrupt leadership in the Third Reich’s high command who in return accused their pilots of cowardice and treason.

For this role in the rebellion, Steinhoff was threatened by his commanders with court-martial and banishment to Italy.

Towards the end of the war, Steinhoff took flight on a mission in his Messerschmitt Me-262 jet but was shot down soon after by Allied forces — officially ending his involvement in war.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
This photo was taken during Steinhoff’s recovery. (Source: WW2 Gravestone)

The German ace fighter was so badly burned in his last crash he would receive 70 operations to help restore his facial structures.

In February 1994, the German general passed away from heart failure at the age of 80.

Also Read: These were some of the ballsiest pilots of WWII, and their planes didn’t even have engines

Check out David Hoffman‘s video below to hear this story from Johannes Steinhoff himself.

(David Hoffman, YouTube)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

30 years later, the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra makes its final flight

In October, after 34 years of service and more than 930,000 flight hours, the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter made its final flight. Maj. Patrick Richardson, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, flew the last flight out of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans.

In a video released by Bell Helicopter, Maj. Richardson said that the final flight is very important to aviators as a way to honor the aircraft. He counted it as an honor to be able to fly the last flight. 

The dual-blade helicopter was received in 1994. Marines flew it in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2005. The aircraft was also flown in Iraq, Somalia, the Gulf War and with Marine expeditionary units operating on Navy ships worldwide.

This battle-hardened helicopter performed a photo-worthy display over New Orleans in tandem with its successor, the AH-1Z Viper. The last “Whiskey” sortie was performed by the Red Dogs, Detachment A of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 772. The Red Dogs are part of the Marine Corps Reserve forces based in New Orleans. 

In total, the Super Cobra’s career included 933,614 flight hours as of August 2020. Maj. Richardson called the final flight bittersweet. 

Marine Corps Colonel David Walsh said that the AH-1W Super Cobra served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of “on-time, on-target helicopter support” for the Marines. 

An evolution of aviation for the Marine Corps 

The Marine Corps first flew the Super Cobra in Vietnam in 1969. This single-engine aircraft was on loan from the Army. Then, the service introduced the two-engine AH-1J Sea Cobra in 1971. It saw combat at the end of the conflict in Vietnam and participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American diplomatic personnel from Saigon in April 1975. Just a year later, the Marine had the improved Ah-1T version, which helped add precision weapon capabilities with the BGM-71 Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) anti-tank missile.

The Whiskey model, as it’s known today, can trace its origins to the AH-1T+ demonstrator, originally developed for Iran under the Shah. The Iranians wanted an enhanced Ah-1J that could incorporate new engines and the transmission from the Bell Model 214 ST helicopter. But the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 put an end to those ambitions. The T+ variant emerged as a suitable replacement for the Army’s AH-64 Apache after Congress refused to grant funds for a Marine procurement of the A-64. 

In 1980, the AH-IT+ made its maiden flight powered by a part of 1,258-shaft-horsepower GE T700-GE-700 engines. By 1983, the helicopter was the de facto prototype for the AH-1W. Besides getting upgraded engines, the AH-1W featured bulged cheek fairings to accommodate electronics associated with TOW missiles. These cheeks were relocated from the tail boom. Enlarged exhaust suppressors helped reduce the AH-1W’s infrared signature. 

The Marines placed an order of 44 AH-1W, and the first of them were delivered in March 1986. The final aircraft was delivered in 1999, and its addition made a fleet of 179 AH-1Ws. Retirement is the official end of the AH-1W, but many of the Whiskey frames will fly on as they are remanufactured into updated AH-1Zs.

In 2000, the Turkish Army expressed interest in procuring the AH-1Z, but that order was canceled in 2004. In 2012, South Korea expressed interest in purchasing 36 of the AH-1Zs, but the country ultimately selected the comparable Boeing AH064 Apache instead. 

AH-1Z Viper

The AH-1Z Viper has now officially replaced the AH-1W. It began life as a “four-bladed Whiskey” and is now in operation together with the UH-1Y Venom. The AH-1Z has been in Marine Corps service since 2010. 

AH-1Ws will continue to serve abroad with Taiwan and Turkey. There’s still a chance that some of the Marine Corps’ fleet will be transferred to a partner ally, which might future extend its illustrious legacy.

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Marine Corps F-35s will go head-to-head with F-18s, F-22s, F-16s, and more at Red Flag

For the first time ever, six US Marine F-35s took part in Red Flag, a hyper realistic, three-week-long training exercise that takes place in the skies above Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.


The fifth-generation jets will take part in aerial combat and close-air support drills, as well as mock war games against opposing forces as part of the exercise. Red Flag is scheduled to run from July 11 to July 29.

Red Flag represents an important test for the troubled jet, which has so far been a nightmarish project running behind and over budget. In previous simulations of combat against legacy platforms, the F-35 embarrassingly failed against F-16s.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
Pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 exit F-35B Lightning II’s after conducting training during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 20, 2016. | U.S. Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

However, in more recent simulations, the improved F-35 simply dominated F-15s in dogfights.

The Marine pilots seem optimistic about the F-35s’ prospects in the simulated combat, and they are pleased with the work it has done so far.

“We’re really working on showcasing our surface-to-air capabilities,” Maj. Brendan Walsh, an F-35 pilot said in a Marine Corps press release. “The F-35 is integrating by doing various roles in air-to-air and air-to-ground training.”

“With the stealth capability, the biggest thing that this aircraft brings that the others do not is situational awareness,” Walsh said.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
Two U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during operational testing May 18, 2015. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall

“The sensor sweep capability that the F-35 brings to the fight, not only builds those pictures for me, but for the other platforms as well. We’re able to share our knowledge of the battle space with the rest of the participants in order to make everyone more effective.”

As with any warplane, the capability of the platform is directly tied to the skill of the pilot, and exercises like Red Flag provide unparalleled opportunities to train in realistic situations. This year, the F-35 will train with F-16s, F-22s, F-18s, B-52s and other current Air Force, Army, Marine, and Navy platforms.

Lt. Col. J.T. Bardo, the commanding officer of the Marine flight squadron taking part in Red Flag said of the F-35: “If I had to go into combat, I wouldn’t want to go into combat in any other airplane.”

Watch a video report on the F-35 at Red Flag below:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Czechs made the best of the awful T-72 tank

The T-72 main battle tank has been the butt of a lot of jokes. The reason behind most of those jokes is obvious: In Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom it had “performance issues,” to put it lightly. We’re talking firing at an Abrams from 400 yards and having the round bounce off. Or to put it bluntly, the T-72 sucked.


Nonetheless, the Soviet Union foisted the T-72 on many European client states who were coerced into joining the Warsaw Pact. It also was purchased by a lot of folks, predominately in the Middle East, before the design’s issues became as obvious as a turret being blown high into the air in 1991. As a result, many who had them needed to find a way to make the best of the junk they had.

 

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
A view of an Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm near the Ali Al Salem Air Base. Pretty much sums up the T-72’s combat record. (DOD photo)

The Czech Republic was one of those who had the unenviable task of dealing with these rolling disasters. Thankfully, then-Czechoslovakia was smart enough to get a license to build the T-72 themselves and not depend on Russian manufacturing.

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the Czech Republic began looking at upgrading their T-72s. Ultimately, the Czechs adapated an Italian fire-control system to enable the tank to fire on the move and hit its target, an American transmission, and a British power pack. The Czechs called this the T-72M4.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
A Czech Army T-72M4. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

The problem was that the Czech Republic soon had little budgetary room. All in all, out of plans to originally modernize 340 T-72 tanks, only 35 got the upgrade — barely enough for a battalion. Still, the Czechs do deserve credit for making one of the biggest pieces of crap in the world of battle tanks somewhat functional.

Learn more about this makeshift tank by watching the video below.

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7 awesome airpower quotes from General Curtis LeMay

The most powerful weapon in the United States’ Cold War arsenal was likely not its hundreds of nuclear warheads — it was the man whose job it was to deploy them.


There are few men in Air Force history as noteworthy and controversial as Gen. Curtis LeMay. He earned the nickname “Iron Ass” for his stubbornness and shortness once his mind was made up. When he did speak, the stout, cigar-chomping, stone-faced general had a reputation for his outspoken manner. Though not always remembered fondly by history, some of his image as a shoot-first-ask-questions-later, caveman may be undeserved.

He was the youngest general to wear a fourth star. When he retired, he had served as a four-star general longer than anyone in American history; a big deal for a general who didn’t go to a service academy, instead graduating from Ohio State. At the height of his career, he was the symbol of American military might. A bit more about one of the U.S. Air Force’s most influential founding generals can be gleaned through his more noteworthy quotes.

1. “We should always avoid armed conflict. But if you get in it, get in with both feet and get out as soon as possible.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Despite his gruff, cold image, every operational goal, in LeMay’s mind, was a means to an end. Ending a war quickly meant saving American lives. During World War II, LeMay was responsible for the firebombing of Japanese cities which completely destroyed most major Japanese cities. It was his command that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Official estimates from the United States Strategic Bombing Survey determined at least 330,000 killed, 476,000 injured, 8.5 million people made homeless, and 2.5 million buildings destroyed. Almost half of 64 Japanese mainland cities were completely destroyed. The destruction was not lost on LeMay. He acknowledged that if the Japanese had won the war, he would have been tried as a war criminal.

Later he would reveal that dropping the atomic bombs was totally unnecessary, given the level of destruction he had already waged on Japan. He said he only dropped them because of President Truman’s authority. After the war, Japan’s former Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe confirmed that the decision to surrender was based on the prolonged bombing wrought by General LeMay’s Marianas-based air forces. LeMay took command of the Marianas in January 1945. The Japanese surrendered in August of 1945.

2. “War is never cost-effective. People are killed. To them, the war is total.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

He was known as a tough commander, but a fair one. He earned a reputation for being stone-faced, uncaring about the needs of his men but LeMay actually suffered from Bell’s Palsey, which literally immobilized his face. When a Harvard study found Army pilots were aborting bombing missions over Germany out of fear, LeMay personally led every bombing sortie and ordered any crew who didn’t go over the target be court martialed.

The gruff general took combat losses to heart, knowing he’d sent men to die, but firmly believed if the death of one American could save a thousand, then it was the right decision to make. In The Fog of War, a documentary about the life of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, McNamara quoted LeMay: “Why are we here? Why are we here? You lost your wingman. It hurts me as much as it does you. I sent him there. And I’ve been there, I know what it is.  But you lost one wingman, and we destroyed Tokyo.”

3. “Successful offense brings victory. Successful defense can now only lessen defeat.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

This is an “extremely belligerent, many thought brutal” man who believed in the power, threat and use of nuclear weapons. He wanted SAC to be able to deliver every nuclear warhead in the American arsenal on the Soviet Union at once. This military rationale earned LeMay the image of a cold man who was obsessed with starting any kind of war with the Russians.

It was Gen. LeMay who inspired the character of Buck Turgidson in “Doctor Strangelove,” willing to pay for a victory over the Soviet Union with unlimited American lives. As a bomber pilot, LeMay’s point of view was one of overwhelming force. At its height, the SAC had 1600 bombers and 800 missiles in its arsenal.

4. “We can haul anything.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

As the commander of U.S. Air Forces In Europe, LeMay was asked by the Commander of all U.S. forces in Europe, Lucius D. Clay, about the feasibility of an airlift (later known as the “Berlin Airlift”) to break the Soviet blockade of West Berlin.

Gen. Clay asked LeMay “Can you haul coal?” Even though he preferred the more aggressive response of an armed convoy backed by bomber aircraft, Gen. LeMay enthusiastically began the 5,000 ton per day airlift operation within weeks. He was so instrumental in its startup, it was initially called “The LeMay Coal and Feed Delivery Service.” LeMay’s response to Clay’s hauling question represents the can-do attitude and spirit of the U.S. Air Force.

5. “If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Robert McNamara, who served under LeMay during WWII and over him as Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy Administration, called him the finest combat commander there ever was. While he was convinced a war would happen at some point and believe the U.S. should fight it on the grounds most favorable to it, LeMay’s military upbringing taught him that true readiness required constant training and this readiness was to be in place when the civilian leaders of the military deemed it necessary to use them.

His solution was to create a force so powerful no one would dare sneak an attack. He would always advocate for a heavy military response, most notably during the thirteen-day Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but always loyally and diligently carried out the orders and policy of his civilian superiors.

6. “To err is human, to forgive is not SAC policy”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

When he took control of Strategic Air Command in 1948, most of his bomber crews couldn’t hit Ohio with a mock atomic bomb during exercises. The SAC under Gen. LeMay became one of the most effective military units in the world on the basis of relentless training.

One officer was quoted as saying: “Training in SAC is harder than war … it might be a relief to go to war.” Within two years, the procedures, checklists, and training implemented by General LeMay gave SAC one of the best safety records in U.S. military history.

7. “The price of failure might be paid with national survival.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

After retiring from the Air Force in 1965, LeMay ran with George Wallace on his segregationist party ticket. It led many to conclude that LeMay agreed with Wallace’s racial views. In truth, LeMay agreed to run with Wallace because he believed in a hard line against Communism, and an end to the War in Vietnam, and didn’t see any of the potential candidates doing these things.

LeMay was no racist. During his tenure as a commander in the Air Force, he had actually promoted the integration of units well before Truman’s executive order. Protesters would attend Wallace rallies shouting “Sieg heil” at the man who designed the bombing plans that crippled Nazi war production, even personally leading the most dangerous missions.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia trashes J-15 fighter, a plane based on its design

Although Beijing and Moscow recently forged a military partnership, there still appears to be some animosity over their checkered past.

Russian state-owned media outlet Sputnik recently ripped China’s J-15 fighter jet for its many failings.

In 2001, China purchased a T-10K-3 (a Su-33 prototype) from Ukraine and later reversed engineered it into the J-15 fighter jet.

And Moscow, apparently, is still a little sour about it.

The J-15 is too heavy to operate efficiently from carriers, has problems with its flight control systems, which has led to several crashes, and more, Sputnik reported, adding that Beijing doesn’t even have enough J-15s to outfit both of its carriers.

The Sputnik report was first spotted in the West by The National Interest.


“The J-15’s engines and heavy weight severely limit its ability to operate effectively: at 17.5 tons empty weight, it tops the scales for carrier-based fighters,” Sputnik reported, adding that “The US Navy’s F-18 workhorse, by comparison, is only 14.5 tons.”

The Su-33 is about as heavy as the J-15, and Moscow is currently upgrading it’s troubled Admiral Kuznetsov carrier to launch the Su-33.

“The Asia Times noted that Chinese media has disparaged the plane in numerous ways,” Sputnik added, “including referring to it as a ‘flopping fish’ for its inability to operate effectively from the Chinese carriers, which launch fixed-wing aircraft under their own power from an inclined ramp on the bow of the ship.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, is a Kuznetsov-class carrier like the Admiral Kuznetsov, and both use short-take off but arrested recovery launch systems.

Sputnik then piled on by interviewing Russian military analyst Vasily Kashin.

“Years ago the Chinese decided to save some money and, instead of buying several Su-33s from Russia for their subsequent license production in China, they opted for a Su-33 prototype in Ukraine,” Sputnik quoted Kashin.

“As a result, the development of the J-15 took more time and more money than expected, and the first planes proved less than reliable,” Kashin added.

But as The National Interest pointed out, the former Soviet Union regularly copied Western military concepts and products.

“Considering that China has the same habit, there is a poetic justice here,” The National Interest’s Michael Peck wrote.

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

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Time is running out to help thousands of American allies who’ve been left behind

UPDATE: On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the entry of immigrants from seven countries he said were “of particular concern” for terrorism, including Iraq. It is unclear how the immigrant ban — which is mandated to last 90 days pending a review of the visa issuing process — will affect Iraqis who have applied or been awarded Special Immigrant Visas for their service with U.S. troops during OIF. But No One Left Behind’s CEO Matt Zeller tells WATM: “This action imposes a lifetime moral injury on our Afghan and Iraq war veterans. … President Trump’s order permanently harms our national security.”


It was April 2008 during a patrol in Waghez, Afghanistan, and Army intelligence officer Matt Zeller was in big trouble.

Pinned down in an ambush outside the small village, he found himself outflanked by a group of Taliban fighters about to overrun his position. Rushing to his side, Zeller’s Afghan ally and interpreter Janis Shinwari raised his weapon and fired.

“I wouldn’t be alive today without my Afghan translator,” Zeller said during an interview with WATM. “My life was saved by a fellow veteran.”

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks
An Afghan man talks with Cpl. William Gill and his interpreter in a village in southern Uruzgan. (DoD Photo by CPL (E-5) Chris Moore Australian Defence Force /Released)

Five years later, Zeller decided he’d apply his warrior ethos to “leave no one behind” and established a non-profit to help relocate Afghan and Iraqi allies who worked alongside U.S. forces to the safety of America. So far Zeller and his partners have helped more than 3,200 allies obtain so-called “Special Immigrant Visas” to resettle in the United States and avoid being target by jihadists who are targeting them for helping American troops.

Since the SIV program began, more than 43,000 allies from Iraq and Afghanistan — along with their families — have been resettled in the U.S.

But advocates claim there are still about 30,000 Afghan and Iraqi citizens whose lives are at risk for helping U.S. forces, but Congress has so far refused to help in their return. Zeller and his colleagues, like Chase Millsap of the Ronin Refugee Project, are pushing lawmakers to authorize 6,000 more visas for Afghan allies left behind and to commit to keeping the visa program for them open “for as long as the United States commits military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“We made these people a fundamental promise that we would protect them,” Zeller said. “If we don’t do this now, it will haunt us in the future.”

 

But renewing the program is facing strong opposition for influential lawmakers who Zeller claims are running with an anti-immigrant political tide.

Some lawmakers claim the Obama administration’s refugee policy, and the SIV program specifically, puts Americans at risk for terrorism.

In an Aug. 10 statement, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, claimed since 2001, 40 people admitted to the United States as refugees have been implicated in terrorism. Sessions claims 20 of those, including one SIV program recipient from Iraq, have been indicted or implicated for terrorist acts in the last three years.

“Instead of taking a sober assessment of the ‎dangers that we face, and analyzing the immigration histories of recent terrorists so that we can more effectively safeguard our immigration system from being infiltrated, the Obama Administration leads the United States down a dangerous path – admitting as many refugees as possible from areas of the world where terrorists roam freely,” Sessions said. “There is no doubt that this continuous, dramatic increase in refugees from areas of the world where terrorists roam freely will endanger this nation.”

Sources say Sessions and his staff have been instrumental in hollowing out the SIV program through parliamentary procedure in the Senate, and that House lawmakers have been powerless to stop it. Opponents point to the dangers of ISIS — which has claimed responsibility for several high-profile terrorist attacks by immigrants in European countries — and the Syrian refugee crisis, which they claim allows potential jihadis into the U.S. without a thorough background check.

Zeller says the Syrian refugee policy and the SIV program are two distinct programs, arguing Afghan and Iraqi partners who qualify for an SIV go through years of investigations and vetting before they’re admitted to the U.S. And that’s on top of the vetting they were subject to simply to work with U.S. forces overseas.

“It’s not like they just walked up to the gate and got a job,” Zeller says. “This is one of the most arduous security reviews of anyone.”

And the SIV program allows allies who directly aided U.S. forces in combat to get the “veteran” status through the immigration system advocates say they deserve.

“Granting more visas during this year specifically means the Afghan allies that we know are threatened will have a chance to be saved,” The Ronin project’s Millsap says. “Unless Congress increases this quota, these trusted Afghans will at best be at the mercy of a broken international refugee system, and at worst, they will be killed.”

The future of the SIV program is unclear as the National Defense Authorization Act languishes in committee and the clock is running out on the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. If Congress doesn’t act in the next few weeks to re-instate the SIV program, thousands of Afghans — and their families — will be at risk, Zeller says.

“I’m not optimistic, but I’m going to keep fighting until my last dying breath,” Zeller says. “I believe that no one should be left behind on the battlefield.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The awesome things the Army wants its next recon helicopter to do

One of the Army’s biggest modernization programs is the development of the “future armed reconnaissance aircraft,” a new recon aircraft that would take, roughly, the place of the retired OH-58 Kiowa, but would actually be much more capable than anything the Army has fielded before.


This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

An S-97 Raider, a small and fast compound helicopter, flies in this promotional image from Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky.

(Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky)

First, the service isn’t necessarily looking for a new helicopter, and it’s not even necessarily looking to directly replace the Kiowa. That’s because the Army’s doctrine has significantly changed since it last shopped for a reconnaissance aircraft. Instead, the Army wants something that can support operations across the land, air, and sea. If the best option is a helicopter, great, but tilt-rotors are definitely in the mix.

Maybe most importantly, it needs to be able to operate in cities, hiding in “urban canyons,” the gaps between buildings. Enemy radar would find it hard to detect and attack aircraft in these canyons, allowing aircraft that can navigate them to move through contested territory with less risk. As part of this requirement, the aircraft needs to have a maximum 40-foot rotor diameter and fuselage width.

Anything over that would put crews at enormous risk when attempting to navigate tight skylines.

And the Army wants it to be fast, reaching speeds somewhere between 180 and 205 knots, far faster than the 130 knots the Kiowa could fly.

But the speed and maneuverability has a real purpose: Getting the bird quickly into position to find enemy forces and help coordinate actions against them. To that end, the final design is expected to be able to network with the rest of the force and feed targeting and sensor data to battlefield commanders, especially artillery.

While there’s no stated requirement for the next scout to have stealth capabilities, scouts always want to stay sneaky and getting howitzers and rockets on the ground to take out your targets is much more stealthy than firing your own weapons. But another great option is having another, unmanned aircraft take the shot or laze the target, that’s why the final aircraft is expected to work well with drones.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

A soldier launches a Puma drone during an exercise. The future FARA aircraft will be able to coordinate the actions of drones if the Army gets its​

(U.S. Army Spc. Dustin D. Biven)

The pilots could conduct the actions of unmanned aerial vehicles that would also need to be able to operate without runways and in tight spaces. This would increase the area that a single helicopter pilot or crew can search, stalk, and attack. With the drones, helicopter, and artillery all working together, they should be able to breach enemy air defenses and open a lane for follow-on attackers.

That network architecture shouldn’t be too challenging since Apache pilots are already linked to drones from the cockpit. Another trait the Army wants to carry over from current programs is the upcoming powerplant from the Improved Turbine Engine Program, an effort to create a new engine for the Black Hawks and Apaches. If the new aircraft has the same engine, it would drastically simplify the logistics chain for maintenance units on the front lines.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

The Bell V-280 Valor is a strong contender to be the Army’s next medium-lift aircraft, but is much too large for the FARA competition.

(Bell Flight)

There are few aircraft currently in the hopper that could fulfill the Army’s vision. That’s why the Army is looking to accept design proposals and then go into a competitive process. The first prototypes would start flying in the 2020s.

But there are currently flying aircraft that could become competitive with just a little re-working. The Sikorsky SB-1 Defiant is a prototype competing in the Army’s future vertical lift fly off. It’s little sister is the S-97 Raider, a seemingly good option for FARA right out of the box.

Its 34-foot wingspan could be increased and still easily fit within the Army’s 40-foot max rotor diameter. It has flown 202 knots in a speed test, reaching deep into the Army’s projected speed range of 180-205 knots. Currently, it’s configured to compete against the V-280 with room for troops to ride, but that space could easily be changed over to additional weapon, fuel, and computer space. The S-97 has even already been modified to accept the ITEP engine.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

An S-97 Raider, widely seen as an obvious contender for the future armed reconnaissance attack program, flies through a narrow canyon in a promotional graphic.

(Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky)

But other manufacturers will certainly throw their hats in the ring, and Bell could advance a new design for the requirement.

The Army is keen to make sure the aircraft is built on proven technologies, though. It has failed to get a final product out of its last three attempts to buy a reconnaissance helicopter. With the Kiowas already retired and expensive Apaches filling the role, Apaches that will have lots of other jobs in a full war, there’s real pressure to make sure this program doesn’t fail and is done quickly.

Ultimately, though, it’s not up to just the Army. While the Army is expected to be the largest purchaser of helicopters in the coming years, replacing a massive fleet of aircraft, the overall future of vertical lift program is at the Department of Defense-level. The Army will have a lot of say, but not necessarily the final decision. That means the Secretary of Defense can re-stack the Army’s priorities to purchase medium-lift before recon, but that seems unlikely given the complete absence of a proper vertical lift reconnaissance aircraft in the military.

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This WWII bomber was finally found after 70 years

Nearly 74 years ago, in the skies over Hansa Bay on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas V. Kelly, Jr. was crewing a B-24 bomber named “Heaven Can Wait.” He and ten other crewmen were on a mission to destroy Japanese anti-aircraft batteries when, suddenly, his aircraft was struck, sending it crashing into the ocean below.

The wreckage and those on board were lost to the sea — until May 2018.


This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

The crew of “Heaven Can Wait.” 2nd Lt. Thomas V. Kelly is pictured in the center, top row.

(Project Recover)

On that fateful day, March 11th, 1944, 2nd Lt. Kelly’s struggle ended — but for those he had left behind back home, it had just begun. Wracked with grief and left without closure, his family pieced together whatever information they could find — eyewitness accounts from military reports, mission documents, diary entries, etc. — to try and better understand. But without help, there would be no conclusion. That’s when Project Recover got involved.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

Project Recover makes uses of the most sophisticated underwater imaging technology to find the once-unrecoverable.

(Project Recover)

Project Recover was established 2012 with the goal of locating the underwater resting places of the 72,000 Americans that have gone missing in action since World War II. Through a partnership between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, and the BentProp Project, the organization uses sophisticated, modern technologies to find those once deemed unrecoverable.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

The northern end of Hansa Bay, Papua New Guinea.

(Project Recover)

Upon receiving the compiled evidence, Project Recover set out to Papau New Guinea in October 2017, with aims of searching for 5 sunken U.S. aircraft that accounted for 24 MIA. After carefully reviewing the documents and conducting an archaeological study, the team determined that “Heaven Can Wait” was resting somewhere in the north end of Hansa Bay.

It was there, after 11 days of searching across 27 square kilometers of sea floor, that they found her under 213 feet of water.

This is why a South American country still uses WWII-era tanks

What remained of “Heaven Can Wait”

(Project Recover)

“This is an important step toward our ultimate goal of identifying and returning home the crew of “Heaven Can Wait” who bravely served our country,” said Dan Friedkin, a member of Project Recover and CEO of The Friedkin Group, whose substantial contribution to the Project made the trip to Papau New Guinea possible.

Since their discovery, a process has begun with the U.S. government to, hopefully, recover and identify the remains of the up to 11 crew members aboard “Heaven Can Wait.” In the last five months, there have been three repatriation ceremonies for veterans who served in World War II — all of which are a direct result of Project Recovery’s work — but much remains to be done.

Dan Friedkin stated, with determination, that the organization’s “search efforts for the more than 72,000 missing American service members from World War II will continue.”

For more about Project Recover, be sure to visit their website. For all the details on the amazing story surrounding the recovery of “Heaven Can Wait,” watch the video below.

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