This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust - We Are The Mighty
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This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

The SR-71 Blackbird was the fastest military jet that has ever taken to the skies. But there was a plane that not only went twice as fast, but it also went much higher.


That speedy plane was the North American X-15.

The X-15 was one of the first true spaceplanes, with a number of flights going beyond Earth’s atmosphere, according to a 2005 NASA release. It was capable of going over 4,500 mph, or nearly Mach 6, and it went as high as 354,200 feet – or just over 67 miles – above the Earth.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust
North American X-15A. (NASA photo)

The plane didn’t actually take off from the ground. In fact, it needed the help of a B-52 bomber before it could reach those dizzying heights and super-high speeds. NASA used two of the first B-52s, an NB-52A known as the “High and Mighty One,” for some flights before a NB-52B known as “Balls 8” took over the duty.

Once released from the B-52 at an altitude of 45,000 feet and a speed of 500 miles per hour, the X-15’s Reaction Motors XLR-99 would activate providing 70,400 pounds of thrust, according to a NASA fact sheet. At most, the plane had two minutes of fuel.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust
A X-15A with external fuel tanks and a new paint job is dropped from a NB-52 aircraft. (NASA photo)

Among the pilots who were at the controls of this marvel was Neil Armstrong – you’d know him as the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong didn’t get into space with this plane in any of his seven flights, but he did post the 6th-fastest speed among the X-15 sorties, according to an official NASA history.

One of those who achieved the rating of astronaut, Major Michael Adams, received the honor posthumously after he was killed in a crash of his X-15A on Nov. 15, 1967. Adams had broken the 50-mile barrier that the Air Force and NASA used to define entering space on his seventh and final flight, reaching an altitude of 266,000 feet and a top speed of 3,617 mph, according to the NASA history’s list of X-15 flights.

Below, take a look at the video from Curious Droid, which talks about the X-15 – and the awesome career it had.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US calls off search for F-35 that disappeared in the Pacific

The US military announced it is calling off its search for an F-35 stealth fighter that disappeared in the Pacific this time last month.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter piloted by Maj. Akinori Hosomi mysteriously vanished from radar on April 9, 2019, the first time this version of the F-35 has crashed. The US sent the destroyer USS Stethem, P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and a U-2 spy plane to assist Japan in its search for the fifth-generation fighter and its pilot. Later, a US Navy salvage team joined the hunt.

The destroyer and maritime patrol aircraft scoured 5,000 square nautical miles of ocean over a period of 182 hours at sea before concluding their search. The Navy salvage team managed to recover the flight recorder and parts of the cockpit canopy.


The US Navy is ending its support in the search for the missing fighter, US 7th Fleet announced May 8, 2019. Japan is, however, planning to continue looking for the aircraft.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

“We will continue our search and recovery of the pilot and the aircraft that are still missing, while doing utmost to determine the cause,” Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced, according to Japanese media. It is unclear if, or at what point, Japan would abandon the search.

It is highly unusual for a country to continue the search for a missing military pilot longer than a week, with near certainty they are dead and that the ships and planes have more pressing missions than finding a body in thousands of miles of ocean. But this is the first time an F-35 stealth fighter has gone missing and some observers have said the missing plane would be an intelligence windfall to rivals like China.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive weapon in the world today. It’s secrets are well protected, but currently, one of these fighters is in pieces on the ocean floor. Amid speculation that it might be vulnerable, both US and Japanese defense officials dismissed the possibility of another country, such as Russia or China getting its hands on the crashed fighter.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy is making progress on what will be quietest submarines ever

The Navy has now completed at least one-fourth of the design drawings and begun advanced work on a stealthy “electric drive” propulsion system for the emerging nuclear-armed Columbia-Class ballistic missile submarines — as part of its strategy to engineer the quietest, most technically advanced and least detectable submarine of all time.

The Columbia-class, slated to begin full construction by 2021, is to be equipped with an electric-drive propulsion train, as opposed to the mechanical-drive propulsion train used on other Navy submarines.

“The electric-drive system is expected to be quieter (i.e., stealthier) than a mechanical-drive system,” a Congressional Research Service report on Columbia-Class submarines from 2018 states.


In today’s Ohio-class submarines, a reactor plant generates heat which creates steam, Navy officials explained. The steam then turns turbines which produce electricity and also propel the ship forward through “reduction gears” which are able to translate the high-speed energy from a turbine into the shaft RPMs needed to move a boat propeller.

Designed to be 560-feet–long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, Columbia-Class submarines will use a quieting X-shaped stern configuration.

“Of the required design disclosures (drawings), 26-percent have been issued, and the program is on a path to have 83-percent issued by construction start,” Bill Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior Maven several months ago.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

The “X”-shaped stern will restore maneuverability to submarines; as submarine designs progressed from using a propeller to using a propulsor to improve quieting, submarines lost some surface maneuverability, senior Navy officials told Warrior Maven in previous interviews.

Navy developers explained that electric-drive propulsion technology still relies on a nuclear reactor to generate heat and create steam to power turbines. However, the electricity produced is transferred to an electric motor rather than so-called reduction gears to spin the boat’s propellers.

The use of an electric motor brings other advantages as well, according to an MIT essay written years ago when electric drive was being evaluated for submarine propulsion.

Using an electric motor optimizes use of installed reactor power in a more efficient way compared with mechanical drive submarines, making more on-board power available for other uses, according to an essay called “Evaluation and Comparison of Electric Propulsion Motors for Submarines.” Author Joel Harbour says that on mechanical drive submarine, 80-percent of the total reactor power is used exclusively for propulsion.

“With an electric drive submarine, the installed reactor power of the submarine is first converted into electrical power and then delivered to an electric propulsion motor. The now available electrical potential not being used for propulsion could easily be tapped into for other uses,” he writes.

Research, science and technology work and initial missile tube construction on Columbia-Class submarines has been underway for several years. One key exercise, called tube-and-hull forging, involves building four-packs of missile tubes to assess welding and construction methods. These structures are intended to load into the boat’s modules as construction advances.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland.

(US Navy photo by James Kimber)


“Early procurement of missile tubes and prototyping of the first assembly of four missile tubes are supporting the proving out of production planning,” Couch said.

While the Columbia-Class is intended to replace the existing fleet of Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarines, the new boats include a number of not-yet-seen technologies as well as different configurations when compared with the Ohio-Class. The Columbia-Class will have 16 launch tubes rather than the 24 tubes current on Ohio boats, yet the Columbias will also be about 2-tons larger, according to Navy information.

The Columbia-Class, to be operational by the 2028, is a new generation of technically advanced submarines intended to quietly patrol the undersea realm around the world to ensure second-strike ability should the US be hit with a catastrophic nuclear attack.

The nuclear-armed submarines are expected to serve all the way into and beyond the 2080s.

General Dynamics Electric Boat has begun acquiring long-lead items in anticipation of beginning construction; the process involves acquiring metals, electronics, sonar arrays, and other key components necessary to build the submarines.

Both the Pentagon and the Navy are approaching this program with a sense of urgency, given the escalation of the current global threat environment. Many senior DoD officials have called the Columbia-Class program as a number one priority across all the services.

“The Columbia-Class submarine program is leveraging enhanced acquisition authorities provided by Congress such as advanced procurement, advanced construction and multi-year continuous production of missile tubes,” Couch added.

This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.

Articles

Syria threatens Scud missile strikes in retaliation against Israel

After Syrian forces fired missiles at Israeli jets returning from airstrikes in the country’s ISIS-held eastern side, Syria reportedly issued a stern warning to Israel through their Russian allies — more airstrikes will be met by Scud missile fire in return.


“Despite a 6-year war Syria is not weak and knows how to defend itself,” a Saturday-evening post in Lebanon’s Al-Diyar newspaper said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust
Syria owns Scud-B, Scud-C, Scud-D, and variants of the Hwasong missile (similar to the North Korean variant pictured here). (Photo: KCNA)

At the time of the most recent airstrikes, Syria described them as an act of aggression that helped ISIS.

But Syria’s several-generations-old Scud missiles don’t pose a real military threat to Israel, which employs some of the best missile defenses in the world.

Israel has infrequently carried out airstrikes in Syria, where Iranian-aligned and anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah operate.

“When we know about an attempt to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, we do whatever we can to prevent this from happening, provided we have sufficient information and capabilities to react,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Israel’s incursions into Syria, according to Russian state-run media.

popular

5 legendary speeches delivered on D-Day over 75 years

June 6, 2019, marks 75 years since D-Day, when Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during World War II.

On June 6, 1944, roughly 160,000 troops landed in Normandy, France, on five beaches with the code names Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

D-Day involved astonishing coordination between Allied forces. Over 13,000 paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines before daybreak. At approximately 6:30 am, the first wave of assault troops hit the beach.

It was one of the most important moments in the war and represented the largest amphibious invasion in world history. D-Day marked a turning point in the fight against Nazi Germany, which would surrender less than a year later in May 1945.


But it was by no means an easy victory, and cost many lives along the way: roughly 22,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded on June 6 alone.

On that day, and in the seven and half decades since, world leaders have delivered legendary speeches about D-Day — including on the blood-stained beaches where it occurred.

Here are five of the most powerful speeches on D-Day.

D-Day Prayer
General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s D-Day Speech
Normandy Speech: President Reagan’s Address Commemorating 40th Anniversary of Normandy/D-Day 6/6/84
President Obama Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of D-Day
The Queen pays tribute to D-Day veterans

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

Articles

This automatic shotgun fires 360 rounds of bad intentions per minute

Maxwell Atchisson’s automatic assault shotgun, dubbed the AA-12, delivers pure destruction to anything in its line of fire. The AA-12 can unload a 20-round drum of 12-gauge shotgun shells in under four seconds at a devastating 360-rounds-per-minute.


It’s in a class all its own as it provides troops with an insane rate of fire with relatively low recoil.

“The versatility of that gun is frankly amazing,” said John Roos from On-Target Solutions. “The absence of recoil means a light person, any military member, can fire that weapon and there’s no trepidation when you’re firing it. Sometimes a 12-gauge can be intimidating. This one looks intimidating, but it’s a pussy cat when you fire it.”

via GIPHY

The AA-12 excels in clearing rooms, reactions to ambushes, and many other combat situations. The stainless steel parts reduce maintenance and enhance reliability for the close-quarter urban and jungle fighting it was made for.

Anything within the 100-meter max effective range will be destroyed. If not, the AA-12 can still use less-than-lethal stun rounds to incapacitate hostiles. But if you absolutely need to get rid of whatever is in front of you, pop in a high explosive FRAG-12 round to make it like another automatic weapon we all know that fires explosive rounds.

via GIPHY

The modified AA-12 was tested by select U.S. military units in 2004 but has seen limited use. Maxwell Atchisson also makes a semi-automatic variant for civilian use.

The AA-12 may be the natural successor in a long line of terrifying shotguns, but the HAMMER is a proposed unmanned defense system which would have two of these bad boys attached on top of a remote-controlled ground drone.

via GIPHY

This “Ultimate Weapons” episode shows the awesome firepower of the AA-12 12-gauge:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQVyM1axPXU

YouTube, American Heroes Channel

MIGHTY FIT

ACFT Prep: The Sprint-Drag-Carry is easy when you train like this.

The sprint-drag-carry portion of the ACFT is rough. Especially for those of you over 25 who haven’t moved quickly in years. This event is especially a bummer for those Officers and Staff NCOs that only move fast if they’re getting shot at or trying to leave work for Leave unnoticed.


To excel, you have to be well rounded in strength, endurance and cardio since it’s not only challenging, but also the fourth challenge out of six.

Its placement in this test means you’ll be fatigued before you even start, making performance more difficult.

If this portion of the ACFT worries you, here are a few tips for improving at the sprint-drag-carry.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

This is obvious… No? Just think before you waste your precious PT time.

Photo by Spc. Alonzo Clark

Focus on your weak points in training

The sprint-drag-carry test is meant to test your agility and strength endurance, so you’ll need to train for both. But, there’s a good chance that you’re better at one of these variables than the other.

If you know that your strength is better than your endurance, the farmer’s walk and sled drag portions of this test probably won’t be too difficult, but the sprints and side shuffles might be.

If that’s the case, you should continue strength training but make a special effort to perform sprints, and longer distance runs to build up your endurance whenever possible.

Use a goal oriented approach to bring up your weak areas.

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If you aren’t training how you plan to fight then you might as well lay down now.

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle

Match the demands of the test in your training

The sprint-drag-carry test alternates between the sprint and strength-focused exercises. For instance, the test starts with a down and back sprint and then requires the 90lb weighted sled drag.

A good way to train for the demands of this portion of the test is to mimic this alternate format in your training by pairing high-intensity sprints or exercises with resistance movements.

Some good pairings might include:

  • 30-second bike sprint + kettlebell front squat x 15 reps
  • 20 medicine ball squat thrusters + barbell deadlift x 5 reps
  • 50-meter sprint + weighted walking lunges x 10 each leg

Using this type of training will help you build strength endurance but also prepare you for the kind of effort you’ll need to put forth during the test.

Try out HITT or HIIT.

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Some specific work for highly-fatiguable muscles will to make your life easier on test day.

Photo by Kevin Fleming

Work on your quads and calves

Believe me when I say that the heavy backward sled drag is one of the more challenging movements in the entire ACFT test, and it’s going to burn the hell out of your quads and calves. But that’s not the worst part; you still have to run two miles after doing this test.

To prepare, spend time specifically training both your quads and calves. I’d recommend training with moderate resistance and high rep ranges if possible, like 15-30 reps or more.

Training with this type of rep range is going to work your quads and calves close to how the sled drag will and doing so will help prepare you to endure the pain you’re going to have to push through.

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You don’t need to be a farmer you just need to pick up some heavy stuff and walk.

Photo by Pfc. Kelsey Simmons

Practice heavier and longer farmer’s carries

Farmer’s carries are a straightforward exercise but a challenging one. Fortunately, training them is easy, though.

The test requires that you carry two 40lb kettlebells for a total distance of 50 meters. In your training, you should go heavier and for longer distances.

By teaching your body to hold heavier weight for a longer time, that 50-meter carry will feel like you’re bringing in a bag of groceries from the car.

Use intensity in your training to make the test feel easy.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

Only training when your fresh is a sure-fire way to ensure you get kicked in the mental toughness organ come test day.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Casey Hustin, 17th Field Artillery Brigade

Practice the sprint-drag-carry when you’re fatigued

The sprint-drag-carry portion of the ACFT test is challenging in its own right, but remember that it’s the fourth test, which means you’re going to be fatigued before you even start.

When you practice the sprint-drag-carry in training, you do want to train this test when you’re fresh since doing so will allow you to put forth the maximum effort and, as a result, make maximum improvements.

But, it would be best if you still were prepared to perform at a high level when you’re fatigued. To prepare, perform the sprint-drag-carry training after you’ve done some demanding workouts.

Practicing the sprint-drag-carry after regular training will help you understand how to perform under fatigue and also know which of the five sections of this test will be the most difficult when you’re fatigued.

Knowing these details can help you determine which sections of the test will require the most improvement.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

email me at michael@composurefitness.com

Train each section separately

In this test, you’ll need to perform a sprint, sled drag, shuffle, farmer’s walk, and a final sprint. While practicing this routine in its entirety is a smart idea, you can also train each section separately to gain specific improvements.

On training days, try breaking down the test by putting maximum effort into each exercise, but add rest between sets.

This practice will help improve each aspect of the test, specifically.

You don’t need to be a fitness genius to train for this test. You just need to change up your training by doing workouts that are closer to the test. Of course, if you aren’t training at all that will be the first hurdle to overcome. Check out the Mighty Fit Plan to help get yourself in the habit of training. You LITERALLY get paid to train so there’s no excuse.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the new helicopter guarding America’s nukes

In what many have defined as an upset victory, the United States Air Force announced the selection of the MH-139, to replace its fleet of UH-1N “Huey” helicopters. A 375M USD firm-fixed-price contract for the non-developmental item integration of four aircraft was awarded on Sept. 14, 2018. If all options are exercised the programme is valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices, and associated support equipment until 2031.


The new choppers, based on the Leonardo AW139 and offered by Boeing as prime contractor, are expected to reach the IOC (initial operational capability) in 2021 (this is what Leonardo claims in its press release even though it appears a bit optimistic considered that the Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada, both offering UH-60 Black Hawk variants, may contest the award) when they will replace the old Huey taking over the role of protecting the America’s ICBM missile silos as well as VIP transportation and utility tasks.

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MH-139 demonstrator.

(Boeing / Leonardo)

The MH-139 leverages the market-leading Leonardo AW139 baseline, a modern, non-developmental, multi-mission helicopter that is in service with 270 governments, militaries and companies across the world. According to Leonardo, over 900 AW139s are already in service with 260 assembled and delivered from Philadelphia, where the U.S. Air Force’s MH-139 will be assembled.

The U.S. Air Force MH-139 will be equipped with sensor turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras, provisions for machine gun mounts and possibly hoists: in other words the new AW139 variant will be not too different from the HH-139A, a military variant in service with the Italian Air Force we have often talked about here at The Aviationist.

The HH-139A is a multirole chopper equipped with an integrated NVG-compatible glass cockpit, 4-axis digital Digital AFCS (automatic flight control system) with SAR modes FMS SAR patterns, weather/search radar, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) II, FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS), Digital video recorder, Video downlink, Moving map on flat display, Auto-Deployable ELT (ADELT) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

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MH-139.

(Boeing photo)

The HH-139A also features a secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, cargo hook, loudspeaker system, and emergency floatation gear and any other equipment required to perform “convetional” search and rescue, as well as Combat SAR missions.

The helicopter features provisions two wing-mounted pods for 70 mm unguided rockets as those presented by AgustaWestland at Farnborough International Airshow in 2012.

The Italian Air Force helicopter can do also something else. Since they can carry a bambi bucket they can perform aerial firefighting activity. Beginning in 2018, the Italian HH-139A belonging to the 82° Centro CSAR (Combat SAR Center) from Trapani have carried out firefighting tasks in Sicily.

Feature image: Boeing MH-139.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Kim Jong Un dying may not be a good thing

As stories continue to bubble to the surface regarding the health and potential demise of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, social media has already taken to making memes about the leader of the reclusive state, celebrating the death of a man many see as a modern day tyrannical despot.

To be clear, I’ve spent years covering North Korea (and some other modern despots) in the defense news-sphere, and while I could happily provide a long list of Kim’s failings as a leader and a human being, I can’t help but feel as though we, as a people, should be careful what we wish for.


Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should lose any sleep over the potential death of a tyrant… but it’s important to consider the ways Kim Jong Un’s death could affect the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s relations with the United States, and the future of the region as a whole.

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Kim Jong Un shown with Russian President Vladimir Putin

(Kremlin)

Kim Jong Un has proven to be a cunning tyrant

While it fashionable to dismiss the acts of evil doers as inherently evil and therefore wrong, the truth is, as former Secretary of Defense and legendary Marine general James Mattis once put it, America has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield. In other words, simply coloring this conflict in shades of black and white, good guys and bad guys, doesn’t do a whole lot of good from a strategic standpoint. From the vantage point of many within North Korea and its government, they are the good guys, and America is the “imperial bully” responsible for their misfortune.

While we in America often chuckle at North Korea’s ham fisted military propaganda, Kim has proven in the years since he took power in 2011 that, despite his nation’s ailing economy and reclusive foreign policy, he’s capable of accomplishing quite a bit with his limited resources.

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Kim Jong Un (bottom right) inspecting a long range ballistic missile.

(KCNA)

While it’s all but certain that North Korea’s population is suffering under Kim’s decision to continue his pursuit of nuclear weapons even under a myriad of international economic sanctions, many mistake Kim’s nuclear efforts for nuclear intent. The truth is, it seems clear the Kim Jong Un does not want to develop nuclear weapons to use them, he wants a nuclear arsenal so other nations are forced to engage with him.

As a non-nuclear state with minimal conventional military power, it was only through the development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry them to far away targets that Kim was able to secure a meeting with the President of the United States and commence talks that could lead to lifting North Korean sanctions.

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Kim Jong Un meets with American President Donald Trump

(White House Photo)

Kim’s nukes are about leverage, not war

As a nuclear power, Kim Jong Un has enjoyed more positive exposure from an American president in recent years than either of his predecessors managed. Some may contend that Trump tends to buddy up with tyrants like Kim, but once North Korea’s tests demonstrated that they were rapidly positioning themselves to be capable of launching nuclear strikes on the American mainland, there’s little a U.S. president can do outside of opening negotiations. The only alternative, at that point, would have been kinetic intervention (military action), as sanctions alone have proven insufficient to deter North Korea’s nuclear program.

Kim has not ordered another test since sparse talks with Trump commenced, which can be credited to open diplomatic channels between the Trump administration and North Korea, but in a number of ways, it may also benefit North Korea to put these tests on hold.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

Previous tests showed that while North Korea may be able to reach American shores with missiles, they still seemed to be struggling with the survivability of their nuclear re-entry vehicle. They have also failed to demonstrate how effective their targeting apparatus is at such long ranges. In other words, North Korea may not be as nuclear capable as they are perceived to be by many around the world… and Kim likely wants to keep perceptions right where they are. Continued tests increase the opportunity for malfunction, and a loss of some of the credibility his government has gained.

Let there be no mistake, a nuclear North Korea is bad for everyone, but in Kim’s hands thus far, his nuclear weapons have appeared to be a means to gain leverage, rather than a means to initiate war.

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Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo receives photos from his meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un from Chairman Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, in Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on October 7, 2018.

[State Department photo/ Public Domain]

There seems to be no clear line of succession

While many may want to celebrate the potential passing of Kim Jong Un, it remains unclear exactly who would take the lead of the reclusive state upon his death. Many contend that Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, would be next in line for Supreme Leader, which would mark the first female leader in modern North Korean history. Questions remain about whether the North Korean system would readily accept a female leader, as well as what damage the premature death of Kim Jong Un could do to the popular North Korean sentiments about the near-deity role of their supreme leader.

While Kim Jong Un is a bad guy, he’s a fairly stable one with a firm grip on the North Korean populace. If questions arose regarding who is supposed to be in charge, North Korea runs the very real risk of seeing entire facets of its system collapse under competing claims over the role of Supreme Leader… and that would be bad news for just about everyone on the planet.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

(Image courtesy of North Korea’s KCNA)

A nuclear arsenal with new hands on the button

If Kim Jong Un passes away, the United States will be faced with the daunting challenge of re-initiating nuclear talks with a person that is far less predictable, at least early on, than Kim–who has served as the “devil you know” for nearly a decade. A new leader may not share Kim’s sense of self-preservation when it comes to nuclear war, and may choose aggression over Kim’s theatrics. While we tend to scoff at many of North Korea’s efforts to garner attention on the world stage, the truth is, those efforts are in many ways better than taking overt and aggressive action that could lead to bloody war.

A more aggressive leader may push harder for an end to sanctions by using the threat of nuclear attack–which in all likelihood would end in war, rather than an end to said sanctions… but even that would be a better alternative than a breakdown of the North Korean system altogether.

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Despite stalled talks with President Trump, North Korea has not restarted ICBM testing.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

There are many lingering questions about North Korea’s nuclear chain of command, but in the event North Korea finds itself with multiple potential leaders jockeying for position — the person with their hand on the nuclear button will almost certainly gain a significant leg up. Worse still, if civil conflict breaks out, the chance of nuclear launch or even losing nuclear weapons entirely as they’re sold to nefarious third parties becomes a very real possibility.

A nuclear North Korea is bad, but North Korean nukes falling into the hands of an extremist organization that aims to attack the United States would be worse.

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North Korean troops peering over the border into South Korea

(WikiMedia Commons)

A refugee crises in the making

Unrest in North Korea, prompted in part by the diminishing standard of living many of North Korea’s citizens have experienced under Kim’s rule, could result in an absolutely massive refugee crises on both South Korean and Chinese borders.

In 2017, a North Korean soldier named Oh Chong-Song defected by fleeing across the heavily guarded demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. North Korean soldiers opened fire on Oh, ultimately hitting him five times. He was soon rescued by South Korean troops who airlifted him to a nearby hospital, where he underwent lifesaving surgery.

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Actual shot of North Korean defector xx making a break for the border under fire.

(UNC)

The results of that surgery, however, also gave us important insights into the conditions within the reclusive state. Because of the high profile troops stationed on the border receive, North Korea tends to provide them with the best of supplies and resources. Oh was found to have little more than hardened corn kernels in his stomach, alongside large parasitic worms. If Oh’s condition was better than many within North Korea, it stands to reason that many inside Kim’s nation are truly desperate, and currently held at bay by the nation’s strict governmental rule.

If that rule were to waiver, or the system were to become unstable, many North Koreans could see that as the opportunity they need to seek a better life elsewhere, prompting millions to pour over the borders into neighboring states. Such a refugee crises would put nations like China and South Korea under incredible strain. As such, China, who can be seen as North Korea’s closest ally of sorts, is already invested in securing the stability of the nation by sending doctors to assist with whatever is going on with Kim Jong Un.

This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The devil you know

There is no debate about whether Kim Jong Un is a villain from the vantage point of the Western world, but the devil you know offers some advantages over one you don’t. Kim Jong Un may be a despot, but in many ways, he’s a fairly predictable one. A new leader could make things better, but losing Kim could potentially make things much worse… provided a more aggressive leader were to take his place or worse still, no clear leader emerges.

In many ways, preventing war with North Korea is a balancing act… and while few may weep for Kim if is dead, it’s hard to say if a North Korea without Kim will tip toward a better future, a worse future, or no future at all.

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

Articles

The US is amping up its cyber war force

A decade ago, he was a young Army soldier training Iraqi troops when he noticed their primitive filing system: handwritten notes threaded with different colors of yarn, stacked in piles. For organization’s sake, he built them a simple computer database.


Now an Army reservist, the major is taking a break from his civilian high-tech job to help America’s technological fight against Islamic State extremists, part of a growing force of cyberexperts the Pentagon has assembled to defeat the group.

“The ability to participate in some way in a real mission, that is actually something that’s rare, that you can’t find in private sector,” said the 38-year-old Nebraska native who is working at U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“You’re part of a larger team putting your skills to use, not just optimizing clicks for a digital ad, but optimizing the ability to counter ISIS or contribute to the security of our nation.”

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed frustration that the United States was losing the cyberwar against Islamic States militants. He pushed the Cyber Command to be more aggressive.

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The files are in the computer. It’s so simple. (Dept. of Defense photo)

In response, the Pentagon launched an effort to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy’s communications, recruiting, fundraising, and propaganda.

To speak with someone at the front lines of the cyber campaign, The Associated Press agreed to withhold the major’s name. The military says he could be threatened or targeted by the militants if he is identified publicly. The major and other officials wouldn’t provide precise details on the highly classified work he is doing.

But Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, said the major is bringing new expertise for identifying enemy networks, pinpointing system administrators or developers, and potentially monitoring how the Islamic State’s online traffic moves.

He “has the ability to bring an analytic focus of what the threat is doing, coupled with a really deep understanding of how networks run,” Nakasone said, describing such contributions as “really helpful for us.” He outlined a key question for the military: “How do you impact an adversary that’s using cyberspace against us?”

The military services are looking for new ways to bring in more civilians with high-tech skills who can help against IS, and prepare for the new range of technological threats the nation will face.

Nakasone said that means getting Guard and Reserve members with technical expertise in digital forensics, math crypto-analysis and writing computer code. The challenge is how to find them.

“I would like to say it’s this great database that we have, that we’ve been able to plug in and say, ‘Show me the best tool developers and analysts that you have out there,'” Nakasone said. “We don’t have that yet. We are going to have one, though, by June.”

The Army Reserve is starting a pilot program cataloging soldiers’ talents. Among 190,000 Army reservists, Nakasone said there might be up to 15,000 with some type of cyber-related skills. But there are legal and privacy hurdles, and any database hinges on reservists voluntarily and accurately providing information on their capabilities.

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Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps)

Normally, Nakasone said a reservist’s record includes background, training, assignments, and schools attended.

“I would like to know every single person that has been trained as a certified ethical hacker,” he said.

The Army has been steadily building cyber mission teams, as part of a broader Defense Department undertaking. Of the 41 Army teams, just over half come from theArmy National Guard and Army Reserve.

Nakasone said officials were still working out costs.

“The money will come,” he said, because building a ready cyber force is necessary.

The Army major said others in the civilian high-tech industry are interested in helping.

Many would like to participate “in something bigger than themselves, something that has intrinsic value for the nation,” he said.

The major said he has signed up for a second one-year tour in his cyber job. He is looking at options for staying longer.

“I find what I’m doing very satisfying, because I have an opportunity to implement things, to get things done and see them work and see tangible results,” he said. “I’m not making as much as I was on the civilian side. But the satisfaction is that strong, and is that valuable, that it’s worth it.”

Articles

Now you can help develop drones and apps for the Marine Corps

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is looking for a few good innovations to shape the future force.


The Quantico, Virginia-based lab will kick off the first “CMC Warfighting Challenge” this month, said Col. John Armellino, the warfightinglab’s operations officer. Marines can starting submitting ideas through the new “CMC Innovation Portal” once it officially goes online Sept. 15. A different challenge will be offered every other month.

Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, has encouraged Marines — from general officers to privates — to get creative and identify new ways to bolster the service’s storied combat force. Neller wants, as he often says, “disruptive thinkers.”

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Officials seek ideas that are “forward looking, futuristic and cutting edge,” Armellino said. “What we are trying to do is to address our current challenges to ensure the Marine Corps is organized, trained and equipped to meet the demands of the future environment,” he added.

Submissions can be made via the web portal, which had a “soft” opening on Sept. 1. While the first challenge is aimed at getting Marines’ input, Armellino said, the Marine Corps also wants to hear from people in academia and industry. And anyone who submits an idea will be kept in the loop, he said, and “remains part of the process.”

First up: Ideas and ways to make autonomous, robotic systems that can better support Marine air-ground task force operations. The September challenge is targeted at finding solutions to what “Marines do today that seem considerably dull or dirty or dangerous,” Armellino said.

So the lab has pitched this challenge: “Identify missions or tasks assigned to your unit that currently requires a Marine (or Marines) to accomplish, that could, and should, be replaced by robotic, autonomous, or unmanned systems. Missions or tasks that are prime candidates for autonomous solutions are typically dull, dirty or dangerous in nature.”

Some Examples:

  • Dull: Filling sandbags
  • Dirty: Going into a potential CBRNE environment to sense for chemicals
  • Dangerous: Sweeping for mines/IEDs

For November, the Marine Corps wants ideas from developers for apps “that enhance quality of life, physical fitness and warfighting in general,” Armellino said.

The innovation challenges are part of the service’s broader and ongoing effort to help develop the future force. The CMC Warfighting Challenge, he said, will provide “a focused, analytical framework.”

And it wants answers and solutions a lot faster.

So the Marine Corps also is establishing a Rapid Capabilities Office. The office will manage the crowd-sourcing portal and other pathways for innovation and will be “empowered to accelerate turnkey solutions or further incubate ideas” that could be demonstrated, tested and experimented, Armellino said. It also will play a part in the Future Force Implementation Plan.

The RCO, he said, will be a bridge between the Marine Corps’ combat development and systems commands — think, concepts and ideas and the equipment and systems that bring those to life. And it “could accelerate technology for development or rapidly get” what’s available to the operating force much faster, he said.

Innovation is a hot phrase of late, perhaps driven by the resetting of the force mired in two major wars over nearly a generation and facing a much more-advanced, high-tech and hybrid threat environment. Agencies like DARPA have reached out to outsiders for ideas, say, to counter threats to drones.

And the Marine Corps isn’t alone in tapping crowd-sourcing to broaden its stable of thinkers and developers. The Navy created Task Force Innovation in January 2015, along with a web portal for virtual collaboration called The Hatch, spurred by Navy Sec. Ray Mabus‘ Innovation Vision for the department.

The Army in 2013 started soliciting ideas for its “Rapid Equipping Force” program through a website that remains in place today. Soldiers can submit ideas or solutions online. The Army is taken a greater collaborative approach with workshops and meetings to pull ideas from soldiers and others whose innovations, expertise and skills just might help develop better gear, vehicles and equipment. Its third annual Innovation Summit was held Aug. 16-17.

“Innovation needs to be a culture, not a niche corner or a specific time,”Army Training and Doctrine Command chief Gen. David Perkins told the audience at the two-day meeting in Virginia. Soldiers “are natural innovators. We just need to make sure we don’t stifle them.”

In late August, Army Secretary Eric Fanning announced the creation of a Rapid Capabilities Office to find and field technology and equipment more quickly. “We’re serious about keeping our edge, so we need to make changes in how we get soldiers the technology they need,” Fanning said, in an Army news story. “The Army Rapid Capabilities Office is a major step forward, allowing us to prioritize cross-domain, integrated capabilities in order to confront emerging threats and advance America’s military dominance.”

What tangible, concrete innovations come of these efforts remain to be seen.

The CMC Warfighting Challenge is like a next-gen take on “Marine Mail” from the mid-1990s, when the top general, Gen. Chuck Krulak, sought out creative and innovative ideas from Marines. Krulak also established the warfighting lab during his tenure as commandant. In 2007, in the midst of two major conflicts, then-commandant Gen. James Conway revived Marine Mail, but it’s not clear what specifically came of that effort.

Marine Mail, said Armellino, was “a great idea” that also was “unsustainable.” If it’s set up as a “virtual suggestion box,” he said, “you run the risk of being potentially overwhelmed.”

Will the new CMC Warfighting Challenge work?

The Warfighting Lab worked through the web portal bugs during a beta test in July to collect thoughts about wearable technologies. That drew 260 ideas, Armellino said. It likely will fall to the lab’s RCO to cull through those suggestions.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier recounts celebrating Halloween in Baghdad with a toga party

John Daniel was an Army infantryman who remembers his Iraq deployment as long, hard, and constantly on the move.


Though is unit suffered its share of casualties, miraculously there were no fatalities. So to celebrate a KIA-free deployment, he and his men snuck some bootleg hooch and had a toga party.

Daniel has many tattoos — from a Roman helmet atop modern combat boots to his staff sergeant’s favorite phrase “Pain and Repetition.” He points to the one on his shoulder with particular pride. It reads: “The Real 1%ers.”

“We’re the ones in America who will stand up to fight and defend our country,” Daniel explains.

Daniel’s story is part of a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.

Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

MIGHTY TRENDING

US urges Taiwan to prepare for Chinese invasion

A Pentagon official is urging Taiwan to boost its defense spending and “modernize its military” in the face of Beijing’s growing military prowess.

David Helvey, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs said at a conference in Anapolis, Maryland, that the island “must have resources to modernize its military and provide the critical material, manning and training needed to deter, or if necessary defeat, a cross-strait invasion,” the South China Morning Post reported.


The official also took a shot at China for what they said was an attempt to “erode Taiwan’s diplomatic space in the international arena while increasing the frequency and scale of [The People’s Liberation Army] activity.”

“Taiwan’s current efforts will falter,” he warned, unless Taipei increases its military spending and improves its readiness for direct confrontation.

Helvey’s comments will be seen by many as a direct response to China’s President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping who told the command which oversees the tense South China Sea to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China’s Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe also 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.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded on Oct. 31, 2018, to enhanced exchanges between the US and Taiwan.

“China is firmly opposed to any forms of official exchanges and military contacts between the US and Taiwan,” he said, calling on the US to “stop its official exchanges and military contacts with Taiwan, and stop selling arms to Taiwan.”

Beijing has taken a strong stance against official US contact and arms sales to Taiwan. While the US has no formal ties with Taiwan it remains Taipei’s strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier, including the approval of a 0 million arms sale in September 2018.

Ryan Pickrell contributed to this report.

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

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