This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

The P-51 Mustang is best known as a long-range escort fighter that helped the bombers of the Eighth Air Force blast Germany into rubble. But this plane’s first combat experience came in a very different form – as a dive bomber.

The United States Army Air Force didn’t originally buy the Mustang as a fighter, but as a dive bomber, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher. A 1995 Airpower Magazine article reported that the decision to buy a dive-bomber version was made to keep the line open because the Army Air Force had drained its fighter budget for 1942.

The A-36 was officially called the Mustang to keep the Germans from knowing about the dive-bomber variant. Some sources reported the plane was called the Apache or Invader – even though the latter name was taken by the A-26 Invader, a two-engine medium bomber. No matter what this plane’s name was, it could deliver two 500-pound bombs onto its target.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

According to an Air Force fact sheet, the A-36 was equipped with an Allison engine similar to those used on the P-38 Lightning and P-40 Warhawk fighters as opposed to the Rolls Royce Merlin. This plane had a top speed of 365 miles per hour and a range of 550 miles. It also had same battery of six M2 .50-caliber machine guns that the P-51 had. The guns were in a different arrangement (two in the fuselage, four in the wings) due to the bomb shackles attached to the wings of the A-36.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
This photo shows one of the 177 A-36s lost to enemy action during World War II. (US Army Air Force photo)

Only 500 of these planes were built, and 177 were lost to enemy action. This is because, like the P-51, the A-36’s liquid-cooled engine was easier to disable than the air-cooled engine used on the P-47 Thunderbolt and F4U Corsair. However, the A-36 did score 101 air-to-air kills. This was despite being the Mustang with the “bad” Allison engine. One pilot, Michael T. Russo, achieved the coveted status of “ace” in the A-36, scoring five kills according to MustangsMustangs.net.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Pilots in front of a North American A-36 Mustang. (U.S. Army Air Force photo)

 

Ultimately, the A-36 saw some action in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations and in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. It eventually was retired and replaced, but in one ironic twist, eventually, the P-51, intended as a long-range escort, was equipped to carry the same two 500-pound loadouts the A-36 could carry. You can see a World War II-era newsreel on the A-36 below.

While it’s not a bad plane, for ground-attack missions, the P-47 and F4U were probably better planes for the job.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is building up strength near NATO’s weak point

In the months leading up to the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump in Finland, Moscow appears to have ramped up activity in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Satellite imagery gathered by Planet Labs and reported by Defense One shows activity around bunkers in Baltiysk, a town that hosts a major Russian port and two air bases.

Between March and June 2018, “the visible change … appears to be the fortification of buildings, characteristic of explosive storage bunkers, utilizing earthen berms to further insulate these structures,” Matt Hall, a senior geospatial analyst at 3Gimbals, told Defense One.


Hall said other structures shown in the images appeared to have been reinforced over that period. Activity in a forested area was partially obscured by foliage, but there appeared to be more structures among the trees, some covered and some uncovered with different levels of fortification.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Aerial photo of Baltiysk

“In this area some of the structures have changed, potentially showing roofing structures or tarps that have since been removed to reveal caches of items,” Hall said. “Additionally, there appear to be new or redistributed items — potentially identifiable as shipping containers.” Hall also told Defense One a railroad line was visible in the photos.

Kaliningrad — 86 square miles of land bordered by Poland and Lithuania — was an important asset to the Soviet Union, and military activity there has grown amid Russia’s recent military buildup. It also hosts Russia’s Baltic Fleet and its 11th Army Corps.

Russian weapons in Kaliningrad have been a point of contention with NATO. In late 2016, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the transfer of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the exclave “means an aggressive, open demonstration of power and aggression against not the Baltic states but against European capitals.”

Iskander missiles have a range of about 310 miles and in the past were stationed in Kaliningrad on a temporary basis. But in February 2018, Grybauskaite said Russia had deployed more of the missiles there “for permanent presence.”

The head of Russian parliament’s defense committee confirmed that deployment, saying it was a response to NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe. A Kremlin spokesman said at the time that Russia had the “sovereign right” to station military forces on its territory.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Russian Defense Ministry)

Satellite imagery of another area within Kaliningrad showed renovations of what appeared to be an active nuclear weapons storage site, according to a June 2018 report by the Federation of American Scientists.

Images “show one of three underground bunkers near Kulikovo being excavated in 2016, apparently renovated, and getting covered up again in 2018 presumably to return operational status soon,” the report said.

The imagery provided few conclusive details, but “features of the site suggest it could potentially serve Russian Air Force or Navy dual-capable forces,” the report said. “But it could also be a joint site, potentially servicing nuclear warheads for both Air Force, Navy, Army, air-defense, and coastal defense forces in the region.”

The missiles deployed to Kaliningrad have raised concern about threats to Western Europe, but the exclave also positions Russian forces near the Suwalki Gap, a weak point in the NATO alliance, according to a recent report from the Center for European Analysis, coauthored by retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who was head of US Army Europe.

The gap, stretching between eastern Kaliningrad and western Belarus, is the only land connection between NATO and its three Baltic member states: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

“The Suwałki Corridor is where the many weaknesses in NATO’s strategy and force posture converge,” the report says.

“If Russia attempted to establish control over the Suwałki region, or even threatened the free movement of NATO personnel and equipment from within the borders of Kaliningrad and Belarus, it could cut the Baltic states off from the rest of the Alliance” and hinder reinforcement efforts. NATO forces did exercises focused mobility and interoperability in the Suwalki region early 2018

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Suwalki Gap crossing

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kevin Wang)

A dispute over the gap “could escalate with alarming speed,” the report says, though Hodges believes a Cold War-style Russian ground invasion is unlikely.

“I don’t think that Russia intends to invade Europe as though its 1991. They don’t have the capacity to do that anymore,” he told Defense One.

Moscow may instead look to use a crisis in the area to undermine NATO by showing it was unable to response effectively, or at all, to a threat.


“If you accept that premise, that they might do a limited attack to demonstrate that NATO cannot protect its members,” he told Defense One. “That would create a problem.”

Russia is believed to have a substantial military force stationed along NATO’s eastern border, and its ability to deploy it quickly could make it harder for Western forces to distinguish between a military exercise and an actual military operation.

During the Zapad war games in 2013 and 2017, Russian troops simulated advances on the gap, cutting off the Baltic states from the rest of Europe. There has also been an increase in close encounters between NATO and Russian aircraft in the skies over the Baltics.

In the years since Russia’s 2014 incursion in Ukraine, Baltic countries have warned about possible aggression against them.

In 2017, Lithuania said it worried Russia was laying the groundwork for “kinetic operations” through propaganda and misinformation — a manner similar to what preceded Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Lithuania, which is under pressure from Moscow to allow a permanent Russian-controlled transit corridor to Kaliningrad, has also called for a permanent US troop presence on its soil and started building a fence along its border with Kaliningrad.

The CEPA report lays out several scenarios through which Russia could provoke a crisis to justify action against Suwalki, using disinformation and hybrid-warfare techniques to deflect blame and confuse observers.

“If [Russian forces] ever tried anything, they would do it asymmetrically so that they could achieve whatever they wanted to achieve before the alliance caught on,” Hodges told Defense One.T

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

Articles

The Marine Corps’ love-hate relationship with the AV-8 Harrier

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan after conducting an aerial refuel Dec. 6, 2012. VMA-231 deployed to Afghanistan to provide close air support for counter-insurgency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)


Dubbed the “widow-maker” in some aviation circles, the AV-8 Harrier is as dangerous to America’s enemies as it is to the pilots who commandeer it.

From its commissioning to as recent as 2013, there have been about 110 fighters involved in Class A mishaps — accidents causing death, permanent injury or at least $1 million in losses.

Related: This Marine pilot makes landing his Harrier fighter on a stool look easy

“Measured by its major accident rate per 100,000 flight hours, which is the military standard, the Harrier is the most dangerous plane in the U.S. military,” said Los Angeles Times reporter Alan C. Miller in the video below. “Overall the Marines have lost more than one-third of the entire Harrier fleet to accidents.”

The first Harrier model, the AV-8A had a Class A mishap rate of 31.77 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The Marines improved the rate to 11.44 per 100,000 hours with the introduction of the AV-8B in the mid-1980s, according to Miller.

By contrast, the Harrier has more than twice the accident rate of the F-16, more than three times the rate of the F/A-18, and about five times the rate of A-10.

Despite its astronomical accident rate, the fighter is beloved and remains in service more than 40 years since its introduction in 1971.

“One Marine general who flew the plane early on described it as an answer to a prayer,” Miller said.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
An AV-8B Harrier jet aircraft assigned to the air combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) performs a vertical landing on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer June 16, 2013. Boxer is conducting amphibious squadron and MEU integrated training.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

The Corps’ need for an aircraft with a vertical landing and short takeoff capability can be traced to the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. The Marines lost over 1,000 men during that fight and felt abandoned by the Navy to fend for themselves.

“Since then, the precept that the Marines in the air should protect the Marines on the ground has been an essential part of the Corps’ ethos,” Miller said.

This History Channel video shows how the Harrier supports the Marine Corps’ mission to fight anywhere, anytime regardless of the risks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUFBV–62tA

Engineering Channel, YouTube

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why you should never trust the barracks lawyer

So, you messed up. That sucks. It’s time to absorb whatever punishment your command team is about to drop on you like an adult and carry on with your career. “But wait,” you hear from the corner of the smoke pit, “according to the regulations, you can’t get in trouble for that thing you did!”

We’ve all seen this happen. That one troop — the one who thinks they know how to help you — is what we call a “barracks lawyer.” They’re not actual legal representation and they don’t have any formal training. More often than not, this troop catches wind of some “loophole” via the Private News Network or Lance Corporal Underground and they take this newfound fact as gospel.

For whatever reason, people routinely make the mistake of believing these idiots and the nonsense that spews from their mouths. Here’s just a brief look at why you shouldn’t take their advice:


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Think about it for more than half a second. If everyone knew all the stupid loopholes, there wouldn’t be a court martial system.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen Polanco)

They think they found a loophole… They didn’t.

The actual rules and regulations have been finely tuned over the course of two hundred years. It’s very unlikely that some random troop just happened to be the only one to figure out some loophole. And, realistically, that’s not how the rules work. There’s a little thing known as “commander’s discretion” that supersedes all.

If the commander says it, it will be so. It doesn’t matter how a given rule is worded.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

What they’re suggesting isn’t real. Want to know what is? Troops breaking big rocks into smaller rocks in military prison.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)

What they’re suggesting is often insubordination.

Advice that these pseudo-lawyers offer often involves a line that often starts with, “you don’t have to follow that, because…” Here’s the thing: Unless a superior is asking you to do something that’s profoundly unsafe or illegal, you have to do it. That’s not just your immediate supervisor — that’s all superiors.

The advice that they’re offering is a textbook definition of insubordination. Disregarding an order comes with a whole slew of other legal problems down the time.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

If they’re on in the first sergeant’s office after every major three-day weekend, they’re probably full of sh*t.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

They’re usually not the best troops in the formation

If they do know what they’re talking about, it’s for good reason. They probably got in trouble once, talked their way out of that trouble, and got let off the hook because the command stopped caring to argue.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

It’s not like there’s an entire MOS field dedicated to solving such issues… oh… wait…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton)

They don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about

There are 134 articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice out there and countless other rules and regulations that pop up from time to time. There’s no way in Hell that some private in the barracks has spent the time required to study each and every one of them and how they interact with each other.

If they have, by some miracle of time management, spent the effort required to learn all of this, then why the hell have they been squandering their profound talents in your unit rather than going over to JAG? Which leads us perfectly into…

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

If you live with a lower enlisted troop who’s in JAG, they’re still a barracks lawyer if their head is firmly up their own ass about how they can help you. Catch them on the clock.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

There are actual military lawyers who will advocate for you.

They exist and aren’t that uncommon. They’re often found at the brigade-level or installation-level. It’s their job to take on your case and see how the military judicial system could work for you. Unlike your buddy in the barracks, these lawyers have spent years in military (and often civilian) legal training.

Don’t waste your time placating the barracks lawyer. Actual military lawyers in JAG will take care of you.

popular

5 tips to make your next military ball a disaster

With your next military ball around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you can ruin the whole event. With a few ill-timed drinks and a flair for the dramatic, your entire night can go up in flames, so long as you try hard enough!


Jot down these disastrous effects for a quick way to turn any military ball terrible.

Talk smack!

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
“Your gunny’s wife is sooooo pretty. Don’t you think? You do, don’t you?!”

That one guy who made everyone mad? Or the investigation that’s ongoing and hush-hush? Now is the perfect time to bring it up. Loudly. Ask for all the juiciest gossip and pass it along to the high ups. Be sure to sprinkle your own opinions and conspiracy theories for maximum effect.

Who’s calling JAG? Get the press involved. WTF Moments will be in the know if you have anything to say about it!

Wear the wrong kind of undergarments

We’re talking a too-small strapless bra that cuts off circulation, layers of Spanx that require you to get completely naked for a bathroom break. Maybe one of those pasties that comes unstuck right in the middle of your main course. Get creative! The worse the fit and function, the rockier your night will fare! Dresses with heavy sequins or glitter that trails your every move are also among top contenders.

Drink ’til you drop

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Shots are ALWAYS a good idea. Always. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Chug a lug! Nothing screams “disaster” quite like throwing up after on your spouse’s boss. Extra points if you can get a few of them with your booze-soaked contents. Where’s the general at, anyway? Take shots — the louder you are about it, the better. Shots! Shots! Shots! Don’t forget to make your way up to the grog, either. Your night will not be complete without it, obviously.

Rub ALL the pregnant bellies

See those sober ladies watching you with wide eyes? It’s because they want you to rub their growing bellies for good luck. They won’t say it, but it’s all they can think about. Talking to each in-utero babe will bring added wonder to your night of joy. Unsure if it’s a baby in there? Better rub that belly anyway! How else would the night remain as one of the worst of all time?!

Help yourself to the desserts

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
I mean, you gotta soak that alcohol up with something (Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash)

Did you know that when you arrive, dessert is already on the table? Get there first, and you can have your pick of the lot. Or better yet, you can just have it all! Be sure to stack up dirty dishes and to discuss — loudly — how good it was to finish dessert for the table. Leave the napkin for later, though; chocolate on the face will help complete your overall vibe.

Ready to have your worst military ball yet? Best of luck to all who stand in your path — in fact, it’s best to push them out of the way — especially as you run to the stage for an impromptu speech. Stiff arms out and spirit in your heart.

Godspeed on this terrible endeavor.

And as always, ‘Merica!

Feature image: Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 ways airmen party while deployed to Afghanistan

Whether you’re on a small FOB — let’s face it, most airmen won’t be here — or a military base, Afghanistan deployments can either be the most boring or a little bit exciting, depending on how you play your cards. Okay, fine — it’s going to be a little boring no matter what.


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
That reminds me, you will probably play a lot of cards.

Yes, deployments are most often filled with binge-watching TV on time off or working out multiple times a day, but these are some tips that can make time in the sandbox a little more exciting.

That is, if you can get away with them and not get an Article 15 or court-martial.

4. Alcohol in mouthwash bottles.

Everyone knows that drinking while deployed is against general orders — meaning this you could get in heaps of trouble if you’re dumb and get sh*t-faced. Tip: Don’t be dumb.

It’s easy to get alcohol into Afghanistan if you utilize everyday items to smuggle it in and send it through regular mail. Just don’t go around swigging out of the mouthwash bottle or else someone is going to figure out what’s up.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
It’s not just for cruise ships and prisons anymore!

And if you’re going to share, make sure the ones you share with don’t f*ck it up by opening their mouths to supervisors.

3. Befriend a loadmaster.

Okay, okay — this might only work if you have access to a loadmaster or if you work near the flightline, but networking saves the day in dire times.

Make friends with a loadmaster — or heck, even a pilot — and they’ll willingly bring you back anything you want from wherever they go, probably for a price. Obviously, you’ll pay the price of whatever they bring back, but you might find yourself owing them a favor later (No, not that kind of favor, sicko. Just be willing to help them when they need it).

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Spot the contraband in this photo. (Hint: It’s green). (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Hang with the foreign military.

Any chance you can spend time with military personnel from different countries, do it. New Zealand is particularly delightful because they can drink on deployment and their accents are easy on the ears (ladies).

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
If David Boreanaz were in a military, he would join the New Zealand Air Force and fit right in. Just sayin’.

Besides the allure of alcohol and the accents, getting to know others from other countries just opens up new lines of communication, and meeting people kills time. You might also end up with some cool challenge-coin swag and squadron T-shirts by the end of deployment.

1. Last Resort: O’Doul’s at the BX and binge watch TV shows.

If you’re not daring enough to do any of the above for fear of a court-martial or an Article 15, stick with a couple of O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beers and watch movies on your laptop or smartphone. The Air Force Exchanges are notorious for selling almost anything you can get at a Walmart, so go wild, go crazy, and buy some fake beer.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
The only acceptable surrender.

It might sound boring and pointless, but at least there are no general orders being broken. So, airman, crack open that O’Doul’s and re-watch Dexter for the third time, because that might be as good as it’s going to get.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

What’s actually different about the Block III Super Hornet?

The U.S. Navy began taking delivery on the first Block III F/A-18 Super Hornets for testing last year, and while the jet may look strikingly similar to its predecessor on the outside, a peek inside the cockpit shows just how much this fighter has changed.

The new Block III Super Hornet promises to be as significant a jump in capability as the earlier transition from the Block I Hornet to Block II Super Hornet in the early 2000s. As a result, the new F/A-18 Super Hornet (called the Super “Duper” Hornet by some) will join the Air Force’s new F-15EX Eagle II in serving as among the world’s most advanced non-stealth fighters in operation today. In all, the U.S. Navy intends to purchase some 78 all-new Block III Super Hornets, while also upgrading its existing fleet of 550 or so jets to match.

Related: THE NAVY’S PLAN TO REPLACE THE SUPER HORNET BY THE 2030S

From Hornet to Super Hornet

Originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas, the first F/A-18 Hornet took to the skies in 1978 and made its way into service as the U.S. Navy’s go-to carrier fighter in 1984. The Hornet design was intended to serve as a replacement for a variety of carrier aircraft, including the A-4 Skyhawk and F-4 Phantom IIs, while complimenting the dogfighting dynamo of the era, the famed F-14 Tomcat. The Hornet’s broad capability set and impressive performance made it a standout platform for both the Navy and Marine Corps, thanks in no small part to its multi-role focus. Indeed, it’s F/A prefix is indicative of this multi-role skillset, with F standing for Fighter and A standing for Attack.

By 1992, the U.S. Navy was ready to double down on the Hornet, but in order to keep up with the changing times, the aircraft needed a significant facelift. In truth, this new Super Hornet was a largely new aircraft that simply carried over the F/A-18 designation, in part, to convince Congress that the program was a cost-effective derivative effort, rather than a pricey clean-sheet design.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

The change from Hornet to Super Hornet, which are also known as the Block I and Block II orders of this aircraft, was dramatic. The Block II Super Hornet, sometimes called the Rhino by pilots, is larger than its predecessor and has some standout design cues that you may not notice at first pass, but become hard to ignore once you’re familiar with these two fighters.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
F/A-18 Hornet (top) and F/A-18 Super Hornet (bottom) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chase Hawley/Released)

Those changes granted the Super Hornet 33% more internal fuel storage and 15,000 more pounds in maximum weight, allowing for a 41% increase in operational range. The changes inside the cockpit were dramatic too. The old physical keyboard was swapped out in favor of a touchscreen display, as well as the addition of an Engine Fuel Display (EFD) and Reference Standby Display (RSD). Those displays and others throughout the cockpit also went to full color, instead of the previous monochrome.

Other avionics tucked inside the fuselage were upgraded, including onboard radar (the Super Hornet was equipped with a APG-79 radar system that could keep track of more enemy aircraft and spot them from much further distances). In order to support this improved air-to-air capability, additional weapons stations for weapons like the AIM-120 were added, alongside improved radar warning receivers, a ALQ-214 jammer, and more chaff and flares than the Hornet could manage.

The legacy Hornet was still a capable fighter, however, and Marine Hornets remained aboard America’s flattops all the way until February of this year.

The Block III Hornet is flying straight into the 21st century

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

Last June, the U.S. Navy accepted delivery of its first two Block III Super Hornets for testing; a single-seat E-model and a two-seat F model. Both iterations of the new fighter have undergone significant upgrades and design changes over the Block II version of the jet, broken up into five major design features.

Cockpit

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Block II Super Hornet cockpit (Left), Block III Super Hornet cockpit (Right)

The Super Hornet cockpit has undergone a serious overhaul for Block III, incorporating a single touchscreen design in place of a litany of gauges and readouts.

“The advanced cockpit system (ACS) takes the legacy displays of the Block II and puts them all into one big touchscreen piece of glass that’s almost like an iPad interface for the pilot,” Jennifer Tebo, Boeing director of development for F/A-18 and EA-18G programs, explained.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

The intent behind the streamlining of these screens isn’t to reduce the data available to pilots, but rather, to help manage it more effectively. Fighter pilots have to glean information from multiple screens and the world around them and then fuse it all together in their heads to develop a well-rounded concept of the battlespace they’re in. While flying supercomputers like the F-35 makes this process even easier for pilots, the Block III Super Hornet promises to bridge the gap between fourth-generation jets like the Super Hornet and computing powerhouses like the F-35.

“It’s customizable and expandable and you can set it to how you want your displays to show up every time you jump in the cockpit. I’m left-handed so I like my keypad on the left side with fuel and engine information on the right,” an unnamed Navy test pilot told Forbes last year.

Conformal Fuel Tanks

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

One of the most pressing issues facing the U.S. Navy in the 21st century is the lack of fuel range in its carrier-based fighters. Neither the existing Block II Super Hornet nor the advanced F-35C Joint Strike Fighter have the range they’d need to engage Chinese targets without placing their carriers in direct range of China’s hypersonic anti-ship missiles. As such, a slew of efforts are underway to pull more range out of these aircraft, including the development of the MQ-25 Stingray refueling drone for use on America’s flattops.

Related: MQ-25 STINGRAY: A NEW DRONE THAT COULD BE A GAME CHANGER

But in order to address this problem on the aircraft itself, the Block III Super Hornet includes the addition of conformal fuel tanks that add 3,500 pounds of fuel. These additional tanks are called “conformal” because they hug the fuselage of the fighter, limiting added drag. While this won’t be enough to offset the capability gap created by China’s anti-ship missiles, it is an important step in the right direction.

Earlier this year, Aviation Week reported that “technical, structural, and sustainment” issues had risen the anticipated cost of incorporating these conformal fuel tanks, placing their future in jeopardy. However, with the Navy concerned about the range of its existing fighters, it stands to reason that the service will find a way to work out these issues.

Related: CARRIER WOES: THE NAVY’S FIGHTERS CAN’T REACH CHINA

Networking Capabilities

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

The Block III Super Hornet is leaning into the future of data with its Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) mission computer and its Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) data link. The DTP-N is 17 times more powerful than the existing mission computer aboard the Super Hornet, but more importantly, utilizes an open architecture that will allow for software to be changed or updated without having to actually replace any of the aircraft’s hardware.

All of that computer power will support the rest of the force in the area, not unlike the “quarterback in the sky” F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, thanks to that TTNT data link.

According to Tebo, the TTNT “will allow all of the information to come into the jet from the battlespace that we need to be processed for decision making as well as pushing it back out to the rest of the air wing so that we can share common pictures of data and get better situational awareness,”

Advanced as these systems are, they are not on par with the F-35’s onboard systems, nor are they compatible, so the Block III Super Hornet will be forced to communicate with F-35s via the longstanding Link-16 tactical data link system.

Tougher to spot on radar

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

The F/A-18 was never designed to be a stealth fighter, and despite an improved radar cross-section, the Block III Super Hornet isn’t either. However, making it tougher to manage a weapons-grade lock on the new fighter has been a focus among Boeing designers, and although much of what has been done in this effort has been kept secret, reports indicate a serious improvement in minimizing detectability.

The Block III Super Hornet’s reduced radar cross-section won’t make it a “stealth” fighter, but like other less-than-perfect stealth jets, the intent may not be to completely evade detection, so much as delay engagement. Enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile platforms may be able to spot the Block III Super Hornet, but the goal is to impede securing a weapon’s grade lock to buy the aircraft time to escape or evade.

Related: WHY THE NAVY NEVER PUT THE F-22 ON AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

4,000 more hours in the sky

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

The Block II Super Hornets in operation for the U.S. Navy today are each rated for 6,000 flight hours, so it goes without saying that the past two straight decades of combat operations in the Middle East and elsewhere have wrought havoc on maintenance schedules and aircraft availability. In another one of those significant changes that are tough to spot with the naked eye, the Block III Super Hornet is rated for an additional 4,000 hours, bringing the total up to 10,000.

This is still a far cry from the F-15EX’s reported lifespan of 20,000 hours, but offers a significant jump over both existing F/A-18s and the F-35C, which is also rated for 6,000 hours.

This longer lifespan will make the new Block III Super Hornet a most cost-effective means of delivering air power than ever before, while also offering the Navy itself greater latitude in logistical planning.

Bonus Improvement: Infrared Search Track System

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Boeing)

Technically not considered a “Block III” improvement, the addition of a centerline tank-mounted infrared search track system (IRST) in the Block III Super Hornet has been called “integral” for the capability of the fighter by Boeing officials.

This passive detection capability is aimed squarely at fifth-generation competitors like Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 or China’s Chengdu J-20. The IRST can be used to scan the horizon for radar-beating fighters, picking up on the infrared heat released by their jet engines without broadcasting a signal through space to tell others you’re on the hunt. This will give the non-stealth Block III Super Hornet a real fighting chance against stealthy jets, potentially spotting them against the sky backdrop from a hundred miles away.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Make your smartphone safer with these 5 simple steps

We use our smartphones for just about everything, from mobile banking to hailing a cab, capturing and sharing photos, ordering food, and staying in touch with friends and family. As such, it’s important to make sure that the information on your phone remains secure and is only accessible to the people and apps you intend to share it with.

As data leaks become all the more common, with social apps like Instagram and Facebook, hotel chains like Marriott Starwood, and credit bureau Equifax all falling victim to breaches in recent years, keeping your web activity safe can be all the more critical.

Here’s a look at a few easy steps you can take to make using your smartphone more secure.


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Photo by Jamie Street)

1. Use secure apps for communication.

Using secure apps that employ techniques like encryption to protect your data can reduce the chances of intruders snooping on your conversations. Encryption is a process that makes information appear unintelligible when it’s being transferred from the sender to the recipient, increasing the likelihood that only the intended parties can see your text messages or emails.

Both Gmail and Outlook use encryption so long as the recipient is also using an email provider that supports it. Those who are dealing with extra sensitive information could also try Proton Mail, which doesn’t monitor web activity like large firms such as Google and only stores data in countries with strong privacy protections, such as Switzerland.

When it comes to messaging, the best choice for privacy-oriented users is Signal, which is available for iOS and Android and supports end-to-end encryption in addition to other security-centric features, like the ability to set your chat history to disappear. Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp also support end-to-end encryption by default.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Apple)

2. Keep your phone’s software up to date.

Keeping your smartphone up to date is important for several reasons.

Not only does it often bring new features to your device, but it ensures that you’re running on the most secure version of Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system. That’s because operating system updates sometimes include fixes for vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors if left unattended.

To see if your iPhone software is up to date, open the “Settings” menu, tap “General,” and choose “Software Update.” You can also choose to have updates installed automatically by tapping the “Automatic Updates” option in the “Software Update” settings.

On an Android phone, open the “Settings” menu and tap the “System” option to check whether an update is available for your device. Then choose, “Advanced” and select “System update.” If you don’t see the “Advanced” button, press “About phone.” These steps can vary depending on the Android device you’re using.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Photo by Sara Kurfeß)

3. Limit which apps have access to your device and personal information.

From your location to the contacts in your phone book, apps can gather a broad array of data from your mobile device.

The best and most efficient way to cut down on the number of companies that may have access to your personal information is to delete any apps and their respective accounts you don’t use. Purge your app library and get rid of programs you haven’t opened in a while, especially apps you have may have downloaded for a specific event like a festival or a conference.

You can also manage which apps have access to certain aspects of your phone through the settings menu on iOS and Android.

On your iPhone, you can get started by launching “Settings” and scrolling all the way down to view the apps installed on your phone. Tapping an app will display what types of data and parts of your phone that particular app has permission to use. From there, you’ll be able to enable or revoke access. For example, tapping Google Maps will list the permissions that it requests, such as your location, Bluetooth sharing, microphone, and cellular data among others.

The process is similar for Android devices, although Google presents it differently. Open the “Settings” menu, choose “Apps notifications” and press the “Advanced” option. Then choose “App permissions” to see a list of all the different permissions apps can request access to. This includes data and components such as your contacts, calendar, call logs, and location, among others. Tapping each category will allow you to see which apps have access to that information and revoke access if desired.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Photo by Markus Spiske)

4. Use a password manager.

Memorizing individual passwords for all of your online accounts can be difficult. And re-using the same password for multiple accounts is never a good idea.

That’s why apps like LastPass,1Password, and Keeper can be very useful. These apps generate complex random passwords and can automatically log you into websites. All you have to do is remember your master password for the service.

And when creating a master password — or any password — remember to create one that’s unique and difficult to guess.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(Photo by Bernard Hermant)

5. Use a virtual private network when connecting to Wi-Fi in public.

We transfer sensitive information over Wi-Fi networks every day, which is why it’s critical to make sure you’re doing so in a secure and private way. Virtual private networks, or VPNs, can help with that.

A VPN establishes a secure Wi-Fi connection that masks your device’s internet protocol address, therefore hiding your phone’s location and identity. That extra layer of security also makes it far less likely that intruders will gain access to sensitive information being shared over Wi-Fi than if you were to use a regular public network. Some popular VPN services include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and PureVPN.

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

Articles

The idea of shooting drones out of a cannon started with this

Would you take targeting orders from an autonomous artillery shell? That’s the future the Army imagined in 1979.


A patent filed in that year and awarded in 1981 detailed an artillery round that would be fired towards a target area and then deploy a parachute. Then, it would slowly descend to the battlefield, taking pictures or video and identifying targets below. It would then feed the images and target positions to artillery batteries so the targets could be killed.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
Figure: US Army patent application

That’s right, the artillery shells would’ve been feeding targets to the gun bunnies.

This would’ve reduced the need to put artillery observers into harm’s way when fighting against massed enemies. Instead of sending out a maneuver force or aerial reconnaissance patrol to find the enemy and feed targeting information back, the Army could just fire some rounds out there.

The system did include a “man-in-the-loop” function meaning that, like modern drones, a human would make the final decision on which targets would be killed. A crew chief would sit in a targeting van with a light-sensitive computer display. As the drone’s imagery and proposed targets came up on the screen, this chief could designate new targets or remove target designations as necessary with a light pen.

The patent author specifically noted the importance of the chief completing this task since most computer systems of the day were prone to identifying large rocks and bushes as targets. Also, the remains of a destroyed tank still look very tank-like and could cause the computers on the artillery rounds to keep designating an already dead target.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Modern battlefields contain more collateral damage concerns than many people envisioned during the Cold War, so this man-in-the-loop would also be useful as a final check to make sure a family SUV isn’t targeted.

Once the computer had its final list of targets, more camera rounds would be fired at moving targets. These would contain explosive canisters instead of parachutes and antennas. The rounds would identify their designated targets, predict where the vehicles would be at the end of the rounds’ flight, and then steer themselves to their final impact points.

Fixed targets identified by the system could be engaged by standard artillery rounds. Each round’s impact point would be relayed to the firing artillery battery so that gunners could adjust their firing solutions if they missed.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang
(Figure: US Army patent application)

The patent also mentions the possibility of using a similar technique with helicopters. In that case, missiles would be used instead of artillery rounds and the human in the loop would ride in the helicopter, disapproving or adding targets to the computer from there.

Also, in place of the first missile being used to photograph or film the battlefield, the helicopter could pop up from behind cover to grab the first image.

In the end, there’s no evidence that the rounds were ever completed. The Army had already experimented with placing cameras in artillery rounds in the 1970s, but that project was canceled due to technical problems. The patent for the autonomous system was filed in 1979 after the earlier program was already shut down.

The Army’s plan to use aerial drones to target artillery lived on, though. Before drones were armed, they would designate targets for artillery or cruise missile strikes, a trick they can still do when necessary. In civil wars like those in Ukraine and Syria, both sides have used drones to spot targets for their artillery batteries.

Today, it’s the Navy that’s leading the charge for firing drones out of cannons. Their LOCUST program calls for dozens of drones to work together to canvas and attack a target. While other drones could be fitted into the program later, the ones currently being used are fired out of air cannons before spreading their wings and flying to their target.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This black Samurai from Africa fought to unify feudal Japan

Oda Nobunaga was a powerful feudal lord in late 16th-century Japan. For almost 200 years, Japan had seen near-constant warfare between daimyo, lords like Oda. Although the emperor was nominally in charge of the Japanese people, his real power was ceded to the Shogun, a general who administered the government. The ongoing wars between lords were often over succession. Three subsequent warlords, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, were the ones who finally unified Japan.

Fighting alongside Oda was Yasuke, a man from Mozambique who had proven himself worthy of the title “Samurai.”


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Yasuke came to Japan in 1579 with an Italian missionary. Though it can’t be confirmed, historians believe Yasuke was from Mozambique, as many of the first Africans to arrive in the Pacific island nation were from Mozambique. The young Mozambican’s black appearance was definitely noticeable in the Japanese capital. He was presented to the Daimyo Oda Nobunaga, who forced the man to strip and clean himself, not believing his skin was naturally black. When he finally accepted this, he eventually adopted Yasuke into his own service, impressed with the African’s strength and physique.

Oda provided Yasuke with money, a residence and his own katana. The now-former missionary was given the post of the Daimyo’s weapon bearer and soon found himself in battle.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

The Battle of Tenmokuzan pitted Oda and Tokugawa Ieyasu against their longtime rival Takeda Katsuyori. Katsuyori burned his own castle and tried to escape into the surrounding hills but ended up committing ritual suicide before Oda and Tokugawa could capture him. The Tokugawa leadership describes Yasuke as standing more than six feet tall and having skin as black as charcoal.

But Oda’s luck would soon run out, and the noble Oda Nobunaga was forced to commit suicide by rival Samurai and lord Akechi Mitsuhide at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Yasuke was present for Oda’s seppuku and joined his successor Oda Nobutada’s army to avenge the elder Oda’s gruesome end. He was captured fighting Akechi forces at Nijo Castle but was not killed because he wasn’t Japanese.

Yasuke does not appear in historical records after his capture at Nijo Castle, perhaps being returned to the Jesuit order which originally took him to Japan.

MIGHTY TRENDING

12 awesome photos of the Army pounding ISIS then playing baseball

About a mile from the Iraqi-Syrian border is a US military fire base where approximately 150 Marines and soldiers are still hammering ISIS in Syria with artillery.

“To get to the firebase, you fly by helicopter over Mosul,” NPR’s Jane Arraf reported on July 2, 2018.

“And then just a little more than a mile from the Syrian border, there’s a collection of tents and armored vehicles in the desert,” Arraf said, adding that the US troops have been at the remote, temporary base for about a month.

In early June 2018, the US Army released a dozen photos showing the base and the troops firing M777 howitzers and M109 Paladins to support the Syrian Democratic Forces clearing ISIS from the Euphrates River Valley.

Then a few weeks later, the Army released photos of the troops playing an improvised game of baseball as dusk sets in and smoke clouds billow in the background.

Check them out below:


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Army photo)

Here’s part of the base, which appears to be surrounded by a sand barrier for protection.

It’s about 100 degrees at the camp, and is crawling with scorpions and biting spiders, NPR reported.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

U.S. Army Soldiers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fire artillery alongside Iraqi Security Force artillery at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 5, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

And US troops are firing M777 howitzers.

Read more about the M777 here.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Iraqi Security Forces fire at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border using an M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer, June 5, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

As well as M109 Paladins.

Read more about the Paladin here, and watch a demo video of it firing from inside here.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Army photo)

Here’s a wide shot of how the M777s are set up.

But US troops are not alone at the base as they’re operating alongside Iraqi forces.

“Iraqi commanders normally select the targets,” NPR’s Arraf said. “The strikes are mostly in remote areas. The U.S. military says it takes care to avoid civilian casualties.”

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Iraqi Security Forces are ready to fire at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border using an M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer, June 5, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

U.S. Army Soldiers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fire artillery alongside Iraqi Security Force artillery at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 5, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Army photo)

The 155mm rounds “weigh about a hundred pounds each,” Sgt. Jason Powell told NPR. “And sometimes we get up to 12-round fire missions. So with your gear on and hauling these rounds, these guys are fricking animals.”

Source: NPR

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

U.S. Army Sgt. Juan Vallellanes-Ramos, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, prepares to bat during an improvised game of baseball near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 23, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

Here’s the first shot of the troops playing baseball.

“I think Fourth will be good spent playing ball,” Private Clayton Mogensen told NPR. “We’ve got a few baseballs here, and we take the handle from a pickaxe and set bases up and just have a good time.”

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Army photo)

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

U.S. Army Sgt. Peter Scaion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, swings an improvised bat during a fun game of baseball near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 23, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Army photo)

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael England, rounds the bases during a fun game of baseball near the Iraqi-Syrian border, June 23, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo)

But it’s unclear if he scored.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is sending 200 soldiers to combat US wildfires

The US Army is preparing to send hundreds of soldiers to fight the deadly wildfires raging in 11 states across the Western US.

Two hundred active-duty soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division’s 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state will be mobilized to assist in ongoing firefighting efforts, according to a statement from US Army North, which provides operational control for ground forces deployed in support missions during national disasters.


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Pvt. 1st Class Jon Wallace, 3rd Platoon, 570th Sapper Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade uses a fire extinguisher to put out a tire fire. The fire department offers classes to Army units to ensure that they are well trained in putting out mine resistant ambush protective vehicle fires during convoy operations.

(US Army)

The Army unit will be sent out as early as this weekend after a couple of days of training. The soldiers will be organized into teams of 20 members and deployed to combat fires in an unspecified area. The deployment location will be determined based on which area is in greatest need of assistance, a US Army North spokeswoman told Business Insider.

The 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion reportedly specializes in construction and demolition, skills that the unit has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Fox News. The soldiers will be “working side by side with civilian firefighters,” as well as experienced firefighting personnel from the wildlands fire management agencies, US Army North explained to BI, adding that the soldiers will be involved in activities like clearing brush or constructing fire breaks.

Prior to deployment, soldiers will learn fire terminology, fire behavior, and fire safety. They will also be issued personal protective gear, such as boots that will not melt on the fire line, masks, and so on. Once on the fire line, the soldiers will be given tools — axes, chainsaws, etc.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

“More than 127 wildfires are burning on about 1.6 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska,” according to a statement from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho also announcing the deployment of US soldiers to combat the wildfires out west.

At least nine people have died in the wildfires spreading across the Western US, according to CBS News. President Donald Trumpdeclared the situation in California a “major disaster” Sunday, making it easier for local residents to secure access to much-needed government aid.

In many cases, the state National Guard units are already assisting state and federal agencies working tirelessly to put out the devastating wildfires. The US Army soldiers being sent to lend support are expected to be deployed for at least 30 days. The deployment could be cut short if necessary or extended, as long as doing so does not interfere with higher priority Department of Defense missions.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The way big ships are launched looks completely insane

Getting a new ship into the water is, presumably, the most important part of building a seafaring vessel. But not all ships are created equal — some are simply massive. They all need to get in the water somehow… can’t we just toss that bad boy in there?

Yes. The answer is yes, we can.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

Traditionally, shipbuilders construct a ship-launching slipway — this is, essentially, a ramp that will slide a ship of any size into the water at full force. There are four ways of going about this:


This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

1. Gravitational

This is something many of us have seen before. A ship slides sideways into the water on a ramp. That ramp has either been made slick with oil or wax, uses steel rollers, or detaches with the ship and is later recovered. The oldest ship-launching method was powered by gravity and is known as longitudinal oiled slideway launching. It uses minimal equipment, but makes heavy use of oil, which can pollute the water.

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

…it’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.

2. Floating-out

Ships built in drydocks are typically launched this way. Using locks, the drydock is filled with water and the ship simply floats out when launched. This is a much less violent way of launching a ship than throwing it over the side of the dock, but it’s also way less cool. Think about that — you could just chuck the Disney Fantasy directly into the Caribbean…

This was the dive-bomber version of the famed Mustang

At least the boat was launched, right?

3. Mechanical

Why throw a ship into the water when you can place it there, like a reasonable, civilized person? For those less interested in a cool launch and more interested in keeping their smaller craft from sinking, a mechanical assist is a great option. Large ships, of course, can’t just be picked up and slowly moved, so this method’s for the lesser vessels.

Keep in mind, however, that introducing any additional element to launching a ship opens more areas for potential chaos.

www.youtube.com

4. Air bags

This method is the safest for any size ship. The newest form of launching, employed primarily by Asian shipbuilders, uses these hardcore rubber airbags to slowly put a new ship to sea. It’s a safe way for smaller shipyards that may not have access to a slideway to get crafts in the water.

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