This was the US Navy's cutting-edge stealth ship - We Are The Mighty
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This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy


In the early 1980s, Cold War tensions were at their post-Cuban Missile Crisis height, and the US was looking for any strategic advantage it could get against its Soviet adversary.

Although submarine-based missiles were a well-established leg of the nuclear “triad” (along with ballistic missiles and strategic bomber aircraft) the US realized the strategic applicability of stealth for vessels at sea. Specifically, US military researchers wanted to test the viability of making nuclear-armed submarines invisible to sonar.

This effort resulted in Lockheed Martin’s experimental stealth ship, a razor-like surface vessel called the Sea Shadow.

First acquired by the US Navy in 1985, the Sea Shadow remained secret until it was unveiled to the public in 1993. The ship continued to be used for testing purposes until 2006, when it was removed from service.

Built with help from DARPA and funding from the US government, Sea Shadow was designed to test if it was possible to construct ships that could be invisible to Soviet satellite detection systems and X-band radar.

Additionally, the ship was more highly automated than previous vessels, and the Sea Shadow was partly aimed at testing how well surface ships could perform under the command of a very small crew.

First acquired in 1985, the Sea Shadow was never intended to be mission capable.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy

Instead, the ship was built to test stealth and automation technology. The sharp angles on the ship reflect designs that had previously proven successful for Lockheed’s stealth Nighthawk attack aircraft.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy

The Sea Shadow’s raised hull builds upon older technology that is widely used in ferry design for enhancing stability. The Sea Shadow was designed to be able to withstand 18-foot high waves.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy

The Sea Shadow was small and cramped. It was only 160 feet long, could only fit 12 bunks, and only had a small microwave, refrigerator, and table for the crew.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy

Although the Sea Shadow was taken out of service in 2006, it still influenced later classes of ships. Its low radar cross section, for instance, informed the design of subsequent US Navy destroyers.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Navy

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Here’s what you need to know about China’s new light tank

China has long history of using light tanks – many of which have been discarded. Light tanks have become rarer as people have discovered that they need the same crew as a main battle tank, while offering said crew less protection.


China’s primary light tanks have been the Type 62 light tank and the Type 63 amphibious light tank. Both feature 85mm main guns (the Soviet/Russian T-34 used a main gun of this caliber as well), and each hold 47 rounds for that gun. But like many light tanks today, they are light in the protection department.

The Type 62 has about two inches of armor at most.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Type 63 amphibious light tank. (Wikimedia Commons)

China has now pushed the light tank to the VT-5. This is a much more powerful system. It is centered on a 105mm rifled gun with up to 38 rounds. This gun is pretty much what was used on the early models of the M1 Abrams, and prior to that, on the M60 Patton main battle tanks. ArmyRecognition.com notes that this tank will weigh between 33 and 36 tons. Secondary armament is a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

The last light tank in United States service was the M551 Sheridan. This vehicle saw action in the Vietnam War, Operation Just Cause, and Desert Storm before being retired in the mid-1990s. Called the Buford by some sources, the Army had the XM8 Armored Gun System ready to roll out, but it was cancelled as well.

Today, the United States Army uses the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System. It has the same 105mm rifled gun as the VT-5, but only holds 18 rounds.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Armor Soldiers assigned to 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire their Main Gun Systems (MGS) Stryker’s 105 mm main gun during a live fire range 28 March 2011, at Yakima Training Center, Wash. (U.S. Army photo)

Below, you can see video of the VT-5 as it is put through some live-fire paces in Inner Mongolia. A number of military attaches witnessed this performance. Did China build the light tank that units like the 82nd Airborne Division need?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQtH4L0LsDM
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How this super-fast Russian torpedo could be a US carrier killer

new, super-fast Russian torpedo may tip the scales decisively in underwater warfare.


It is a successor to the 1970’s Shkval (Russian for ‘Squall’), which has an impressive speed of over 200 knots, far faster than any NATO torpedo, making it difficult to stop. However, it has range of less than ten miles compared to more than 30 for the US Mk 48. Shkval is also limited by the fact that it cannot use sonar guidance when travelling at speed. Western analysts have tended to be scathing about the Shkval, calling it a suicide weapon because of its short range. One Russian commentator described it as “amusing but useless.”

However, a new Russian torpedo is likely to see the Shkval’s defects remedied. The Khishchnik (“Predator”) is a new supercavitating torpedo at an advanced stage of development. Unlike various supposed super-weapons which they boast about publicly, the Russians are keeping very quiet about Predator.

High-speed underwater projectiles rely on a principle called supercavitation. Rather than being streamlined, Shkval’s nose is blunt, ending in a flat disc. This creates a low-pressure area in its wake – the pressure is so low that a bubble of water vapor forms. This cavitation effect is well known; propellers are designed to minimize it because it reduces contact with the water and causes damage. In supercavitation, the bubble is large enough to enclose the entire torpedo except for its steering fins. By travelling inside the bubble, the torpedo experiences far less drag than a normal torpedo in contact with the water. The low drag means it can reach phenomenal speeds.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
A 3D computer graphic showing the effect of supercavitation by means of a superpenetrator. As the object travels left, the blunt nose creates a pocket of air vapor (represented in light blue). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Russia has long been the leader in supercavitating weapons. These include the bullets fired by the APS underwater assault rifle, effective at a range of thirty meters underwater – several times greater than any other firearm.

Torpedoes like Shkval use a more advanced version of the effect in which the cavity is ‘ventilated,’ sustained by an injection of exhaust gases. Shkval is not rocket-propelled as many sources assume; there’s a good description (in Russian) here. A rocket boosts the torpedo up to cavitation speed, but after that, a hydrojet takes over, burning magnesium-based fuel and using seawater as the oxidizer.

Western efforts to copy Russian supercavitating technology have not so far been successful. There have been great successes in the lab, but these have not translated into deployed hardware.  DARPA had an ambitious plan for a 100 mph+ supercavitating submarine called the Underwater Express. They had a three-year contact with sub makers Electric Boat from 2006-2009, but it came to nothing.  The US Navy RAMICS project involved busting underwater mines with a supsercavitating projectile fired from a helicopter, the project ran from 1997 to 2011 before funding was terminated without the system being fielded. The US Navy’s supercavitating torpedo project has been on hold since 2012; a spokesman says that improved understanding of the basic physics of supercavitation is needed.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
The APS Underwater Assault Rifle. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user REMOV.

The Western work may give us some insight into how the Russians are improving on Shkval. The reason why it cannot carry sonar is because the cavitating disc is much too small for a sonar system, and the engine is too noisy. General Dynamics patented a new type of cavitator in the early 2000’s. Rather than being flat, this is a parabolic curve, giving gives enough surface area for the sonar receiver. In the GD design, the sonar emitters are mounted separately on the fin tips, and filters block out engine noise.

This suggests that a guided supercavitating torpedo is now feasible; a 2015 article on the Shkval suggested that one was under development.

The other issue with the Shkval is its short range.  Georgiy Savchenko of the Institute of Hydromechanics at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences works on supercavitating designs and says that improved fuel will make a dramatic difference – he estimates that the range could be improved by a factor of ten.

Khishchnik may also be significantly faster than the 1970s Shkval. Very high speeds underwater are certainly possible. A US Navy lab succeeded in firing an underwater projectile at an incredible 1500 meters per second, and the Chinese have talked about supersonic underwater vehicles, though there is no evidence they have achieved this.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
The supercavitating head of the Shkval torpedo. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Very little information is being released on Khishchnik apart from the fact that it is being developed by Elektropribor, a design bureau which makes instruments for ships and subs as well as aviation components. Its existence was revealed in documents uncovered by Russian defense blog BMPD, which revealed that the company had been working on Khishchnik since 2013 and that launch tests were expected in 2016 as part of a contract worth 3 billion rubles ($53m).  There have been no official comments or announcements.

Other companies may also be working on the project. In 2016, Boris Obnosov, CEO of Russian company Tactical Missiles Corp, mentioned work in this area to Rambler News Service

“Take, for instance, the well-known unique Shkval underwater missile. We are working on upgrading it heavily.”

The ‘heavily upgraded’ Shkval seems likely to be the Khishchnik.

Shkval has been upgraded several times previously, with improvements in range and guidance. A new name suggests a more significant upgrade. An export version of the Shkval, the Shkval-E was produced in 1999. There would be a big market for an unstoppable, carrier-killing torpedo.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy drops $72 million for new, low-band electronic jammers

The U.S. Navy awarded Demonstration of Existing Technologies (DET) contracts Oct. 25, 2018, valued at approximately $36 million each to L3 Technologies Communications Systems West and Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems in support of the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) capability.

The Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Systems and EA-6B Program Office (PMA-234) headquartered here manages the NGJ-LB program.


NGJ-LB is an external jamming pod that is part of a larger NGJ weapon system that will augment and, ultimately, replace the aging ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently in use on EA-18G Growler aircraft.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Autumn Metzger and Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Mark Homer wipe down an ALQ 99 jamming pod.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman)

“NGJ-LB is a critical piece of the overall NGJ system in that it focuses on the denial, degradation, deception, and disruption of our adversaries’ abilities to gain an advantage in that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Capt. Michael Orr, PMA-234 program manager. “It delivers to the warfighter significant improvements in power, advanced jamming techniques, and jamming effectiveness over the legacy ALQ-99 system.”

Each DET contract has a 20-month period of performance, during which the NGJ-LB team will assess the technological maturity of the industry partners’ existing technologies in order to inform future NGJ-LB capability development, as well as define the NGJ-LB acquisition strategy.

PMA-234 is responsible for acquiring, delivering and sustaining AEA systems and EA-6B Prowler aircraft, providing combatant commanders with capabilities that enable mission success.

This article originally appeared on NAVAIR News. Follow @NAVAIRNews on Twitter.

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DARPA just announced it’s one step closer to building a hypersonic space plane

The Pentagon’s research and development shop is moving one step closer toward building a hypersonic space plane that could shuttle satellites or people into space in record time.


In an announcement on Wednesday, DARPA said that Boeing, which was selected for phase one of the project, would keep working on its advanced design for the Experimental Space plane (XS-1) program with additional funding for phases two and three.

While Phase One of XS-1 was more of a drawing board/concept phase, phases two and three are all about actually building a space plane and conducting flight tests, demonstrations, and hopefully, delivery of a satellite into orbit.

Here’s how DARPA describes what it hopes XS-1 may one day pull off:

The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.

Related: Mysterious Air Force space plane lands after 2-year mission

Since it’s DARPA, the project is focused on national security, and there’s no doubt the Pentagon could save plenty of money and time by launching satellites via a low-cost space plane. But the agency also notes in its announcement that another goal is to “encourage the broader commercial launch sector,” and it will release testing data out to companies who are interested during phases two and three.

So it looks like the military won’t be the only ones having fun flying planes into space, Mr. Skywalker.

DARPA has been behind a number of huge technological advances that have made their way to the private sector, like the Internet, a ton of the components of modern-day computing, and GPS, just to name a few.

“We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. “Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities.”

Check out the demo video below:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the deadliest machine gun in military history

Many military historians argue that the Maschinengewehr 42 – better known as the MG 42 – was the best general-purpose machine gun ever made. It fired up to 1,800 rounds per minute in some versions. That’s nearly twice as fast as any automatic weapon fielded by any army in the world at the time.


But veterans of World War II rarely remember dry statistics about the weapon. They remember its fearsome nicknames – and why the machine gun earned them. American GIs were rightly terrified of the capabilities of the MG 42, so they gave it an apt name: “Hitler’s buzz saw,” because of the way it cut down troops is swaths. The Red Army called it “The Linoleum Ripper” because of the unique tearing or ripping sound it made because of its extremely high rate of fire.

And German soldiers knew they had a weapon so fierce that the Wehrmacht built its infantry tactics around squads of men armed with the Hitlersäge or “Hitler’s bone saw.”

“It sounded like a zipper. It eats up a lot of ammunition and that makes for a logistical problem, but it eats up a lot of people, too,” Orville W. “Sonny” Martin Jr., who was a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army’s 13th Armored Division, said in an oral history of infantry and armor operations in Europe. “When there’s a group of people advancing, you can really rip them up with that machine gun.”

When the war began in 1939, the Germans had a solid, reliable general-purpose machine gun: the MG34.  But like so many German weapons, it was exquisitely – and expensively – made and difficult to produce. But the German high command wanted front-line troops to have more machine guns. That meant a weapon designed to deliver a high rate of fire like the MG34 but cheaper and quicker to produce.

Mauser-Werke developed a machine gun that fired a 7.92-millimeter Mauser cartridge fed into the gun from either a 50-round or 250-round belt. What’s more, the company manufactured the machine gun from stamped and pressed parts, welding the components together with a technique that reduced production time by 35 percent. That manufacturing method reduced the cost as well. The result was the MG 42, and German soldiers soon swore by its lethal effectiveness.

The MG 42 had a range of up to 2,300 feet, weighed 25 pounds and possessed a barrel that could be changed in seconds.

True, the machine gun had its weaknesses: It used ammunition like crazy, possessed no single-shot capability and could quickly overheat. But the amount of firepower it brought to the battlefield had ghastly results.

 

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
A Waffen SS soldier totes an MG 42 with a shoulder strap. (German Bundesarchiv photo.)

The sound alone of the MG 42 took a psychological toll on troops. The situation became so bad the U.S. Army produced a training film intended to boost the morale of U.S. soldiers terrified of the machine gun’s reputation:

In one of the film’s dramatized scenes, a green replacement is portrayed pinned down by MG 42 fire while the narrator says that nobody else in the platoon seems particularly bothered by the sound – nobody but the raw G.I. who “can’t get over the fast burp of the German gun.”

“Well, so it does have a high rate of fire,” the narrator continues. “Does that mean it is a better fighting weapon than ours?”

What comes next is a “shoot off” between various U.S. machine guns and the MG 42 along with other German automatic weapons. The narrator of the training film soberly describes the accuracy and slower-but-steady rate of fire of U.S. weapons, saying, “The German gunner pays for his impressive rate of fire. But you get maximum accuracy with a rate of fire that isn’t just noise! The German gun is good – but ours is betters. Their bark is worse than their bite.”

But the reality is the MG 42 bit hard, killing or grievously wounding many thousands of Allied soldiers. James H. Willbanks, author of Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact, writes that the MG 42 was nearly everywhere on the European battlefield, either in machine gun emplacements or vehicle-mounted on everything from halftracks to Panzers.

In fact, it was so deadly the MG 42 shaped German infantry tactics during the war.

U.S. and British tacticians emphasized the importance of the rifleman, with machine guns tasked to support infantry assaults.

Because of the MG42’s devastating power, the Wehrmacht placed the machine gunner in the central infantry role with riflemen in support. Each MG42 ideally had a six-man crew: a gun commander, gunner, a soldier who carried the weapon’s tripod, and three additional troops who carried spare barrels, additional ammunition, and tools.

When Allied troops attempted infantry assaults against positions protected by the MG42, the German machine gun crew would lay down withering suppressive fire. In most cases, all the infantrymen could do was wait for a barrel change, for the gun to run out of ammunition, or for a tank to show up so it could blast the machine-gun nest to oblivion.

The MG42 survived World War II to continue service in the West German Bundeswehr.  Rechambered so it would fire the NATO 7.62-millimeter cartridge, the Germans designated the weapon the MG3 – but it still kept its blistering rate of fire and basic design.

The MG3 is used to this day, not only by the German army, but also by the militaries of 30 nations.

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Forget Godzilla, Russia is building this new sea monster

Godzilla may be king of the monsters, but during the Cold War, he’d find the Caspian Sea a little crowded.


Now, Russia is building a new Caspian Sea Monster.

According to a tweet by the Russian embassy in South Africa, the Chaika A-050 is slated to enter service by 2020. The A-050 is what is known as an “ekranoplan,” or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed these airplane hybrids during the Cold War, largely because they offered a unique mix of the capabilities of ships and aircraft.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
A Ekranoplan, or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed development of these Caspian Sea Monsters during the Cold War. (Youtube Screenshot)

According to militaryfactory.com, the Lun-class ekranoplan is one such example. It had a top speed of 342 miles per hour — slightly slower than the B-29 Superfortress — which could go 358 miles per hour. However, the Lun carried six SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles, which are limited for use on surface combatants like the Sovremenny-class destroyer and Tarantul-class missile boat. The Lun could climb to as high as 24,000 feet.

According to a 2015 report by Valuewalk.com, the Chaika A-050 will travel at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, with a range of 3,000 miles. It will be able to carry at least nine tons of cargo or 100 passengers. However, a Sputnik News report indicated that the Russians could install the BrahMos missile on the new ekranoplan.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
A model of the BrahMos II, Russian-Indian hypersonic missile under joint development.

The BrahMos is a version of the SS-N-26 Oniks surface-to-surface missile that has been installed on a number of Indian Navy vessels. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the BrahMos has a top speed of Mach 2.8 and a range of 500 kilometers. The missile carries a 300-kilogram warhead, and can hit surface ships or land targets. The missile can be used by submarines and surface ships.

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The Coast Guard wants to be the face of America in the South China Sea

The U.S. Coast Guard is ready to meet the Chinese military head on – but in a very Coast Guard way.


This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
A member of Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego stands safety watch aboard a 45-foot response boat-medium from Station Honolulu while participating in an exercise with French navy Floreal-class frigate FS Prairial (F 731), during Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa E. McKenzie)

Related: This is what a war between China and Japan would look like 

China claims sovereignty over a number of disputed islands in the South China Sea, and most of those claims are not recognized by international law. The U.S. Navy, under the guise of its mission to maintain freedom of navigation of the seas, regularly steams through these waters.

The Chinese consider these missions provocative. In October 2016, the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur sailed past the Paracel Islands – shadowed by three Chinese ships.

Beijing always threatens to respond to missions like these.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Chinese sailors travel in rigid hull inflatable boats while participating in a visit, board, search and seizure exercise between China, Indonesia, France and the United States, during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Chinese navy photo by Wenxuan Zhuliang)

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft thinks the freedom of navigation missions can be done much more diplomatically and he thinks the Coast Guard is the way forward.

“Look at China’s Coast Guard, it really is the first face of China,” Admiral Zukunft told Voice of America. “I would look at providing resources to provide the face of the United States behind a Coast Guard ship.”

The bright, white-hulled ships of the Coast Guard are much more familiar to Chinese soldiers and sailors.

“The U.S. Coast Guard has a very good relationship with the Chinese Coast Guard, with each side frequently boarding the other’s ships to carry out joint maritime law enforcement activities,” he said.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Coast Guard members participate in a counter-piracy exercise with Chinese sailors from Chinese navy multirole frigate Hengshui (572) aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart)

There’s actually a – no kidding – Coast Guard arms race in the region underway.

Using lightly-armed Coast Guard ships might actually be better for diffusing tensions in the area, instead of using heavily-armed conventional naval forces. Even China’s massive new Coast Guard supercutters will not have heavy armaments.

Zukunft added that the U.S. Coast Guard also could help Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in the area develop maritime capabilities while keeping peace and security.

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Mattis orders separate reviews of F-35, Air Force One programs

Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered separate reviews of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force One programs in hopes of restructuring and reducing program costs, an official announced Friday.


In two memorandums signed and effective immediately, Mattis said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work will “oversee a review that compares the F-35C and F/A-18E/F operational capabilities and assess the extent that the F/A-18E/F improvements [an advanced Super Hornet] can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective fighter aircraft alternative,” according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

Related: Mattis’ first message to the troops shows his leadership style

For the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program, known as Air Force One, Mattis said Work’s review should “identify specific areas where costs can be lowered,” such as “autonomous operations, aircraft power generation, environmental conditioning [cooling], survivability, and military [and] civilian communication capabilities,” the memo said.

The memos didn’t specify if the review will reduce the planned number of aircraft.

“This is a prudent step to incorporate additional information into the budget preparation process and to inform the secretary’s recommendations to the president regarding critical military capabilities,” Davis said in an email statement.

“This action is also consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense, and it aligns with the secretary’s priority to increase military readiness while gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense,” he said.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
How many people view the F-35 program at this point. | WATM /U.S. Navy photo

Both the F-35 stealth fighter and Air Force One presidential aircraft acquisition programs have been in President Donald Trump’s crosshairs in recent weeks.

Trump has criticized the high cost of the $4 billion Air Force One being developed by Boeing and the nearly $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp.

On Dec. 6, Trump tweeted “cancel order!” in reference to the Air Force One program. He brought up the issue again during a Dec. 16 speech in Pennsylvania, and also called the F-35 program a “disaster” with its cost overruns.

Also read: A-10 vs. F-35 flyoff may begin next year

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted on Dec. 22.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is expected to cost nearly $400 billion in development and procurement costs to field a fleet of 2,457 single-engine fighters — and some $1.5 trillion in lifetime sustainment costs, according to Pentagon figures. It’s the Pentagon’s single most expensive acquisition effort.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
While it hasn’t caused quite the media firestorm the F-35 program has caused, Air Force One still has its share of cost overruns. | Wikimedia Commons photo

Trump has met with Lockheed Martin Corp.’s CEO Marillyn Hewson on multiple occasions and last week with Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

The company heads have vowed — in what they said were productive conversations with the president — to drive down costs on both programs.

“We made some great progress on simplifying requirements for Air Force One, streamlining the process, streamlining certification by using commercial practices,” Muilenburg said just days after Trump met with Hewson.

“All of that is going to provide a better airplane at a lower cost, so I’m pleased with the progress there,” he said. “And similarly on fighters, we were able to talk about options for the country and capabilities that will, again, provide the best capability for our warfighters most affordably.”

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DOD rescinds policy that allowed pro athletes to defer service

The U.S. Department of Defense has rescinded a year-old policy that allowed military service academy athletes such as Keenan Reynolds to play professionally immediately upon graduation.


Athletes will have to serve two years of active duty before applying for reserve status to pursue a pro career. It’s unclear how the order, signed April 29 by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, will affect former Navy standouts such as Reynolds. The wide receiver, entering his second year with the Ravens, is expected to attend the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend.

“Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services. Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense. Therefore, upon graduation, officers will serve as military officers for their minimum commitment of two years,” Pentagon chief spokesman Dana W. White said May 1 in a statement.

White added that the Defense Department “has a long history of officer athletes who served their nation before going to the pros including Roger Staubach, Chad Hennings, and David Robinson.”

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
U.S. Naval Academy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was named most valuable player after throwing for 130 yards and a running the ball in for a touchdown in the Army Navy football game, 2012. (Department of Defense photo by Marv Lynchard)

The policy change was an unexpected blow to NFL prospects not only in Annapolis but also at the Air Force Academy and West Point. Midshipman wide receiver Jamir Tillman was not taken in last week’s NFL draft, but his agent had said he’d drawn interest from NFL teams. The Navy athletic department declined to comment on the policy reversal.

Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who led the NCAA in yards per catch last season and is on track to graduate this month, was expected to be a midround selection but wasn’t chosen after academy officials were told April 27 that the Air Force wouldn’t allow him to go straight to the NFL.

Robinette was informed of this decision about an hour into the three-day, seven-round draft. The academy said it wanted to let NFL teams know about the policy’s reversal so teams would know he won’t be available until 2019.

Also read: 5 sports stars who saw heavy combat in the US military

Robinette led the country with 27.4 yards per catch in 2016 and was the first Air Force player ever invited to the East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine. Starting in January, he maintained a full class load while commuting 100 miles six days a week to train with other hopefuls, including top-10 pick Christian McCaffrey, in suburban Denver.

Robinette had prepared for the draft believing he’d be allowed to play in the NFL right away because of a Defense Department decision in the summer of 2016.

After the Ravens drafted Reynolds, a record-breaking triple-option quarterback, in the sixth round in 2016, the department changed its policy for service academy athletes who are offered the opportunity to play professionally, saying they could receive reserve appointments upon graduation and start their pro careers immediately. (All applications for the ready reserve were reviewed on a case-by-case basis.)

Neither the Pentagon nor Reynolds could be reached May 1 to comment on the new order’s effect on his military status. Former Navy fullback Chris Swain and former Air Force tight end Garrett Graham, who spent most of last year on NFL practice squads, also were allowed under the previous policy to defer their active duty last season.

Defense Department officials announced the new order May 1; the Air Force football team arrived in Washington the same day. The Falcons were scheduled to receive the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy at a White House ceremony on May 2.

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Meet another plane in the next generation of Eagles from Boeing

The F-15 Eagle has been around in one form or another since entering service with the United States Air Force in 1973. It has an excellent combat record of over 100 air-to-air kills with very few combat losses.


But at the same time, the world’s not been standing still. Russia has developed the Su-27/Su-30/Su-33/Su-35 family of Flankers, and they are proving very deadly. China has the J-11/J-15/J-16 family of Flankers as well.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
An F-15E Strike eagle conducts a mission over Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2008. The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. This plane is the basis for the F-15SE Silent Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

Boeing, though, hasn’t thrown in the towel. The F-15SE, or F-15 Silent Eagle, is a stealthier version of the legendary Eagle. This is accomplished by putting the many weapons that the F-15E Strike Eagle can carry into conformal bays, thus eliminating their radar signatures.

With reports that the Air Force is planning to retire the F-15C/D Eagles, the air superiority mission could now fall almost entirely on the F-22 Raptors — and with the production line stopped at 187 of those planes, the Silent Eagle could help fill the gap. In any case, the F-15SE could be an option for folks who can’t afford — or don’t want to wait for — the F-35.

Take a look at this video from FlightGlobal on the F-15SE, an Eagle that could be around for a long time.

You can also see the Eagle 2040 video that should have been a Super Bowl commercial.

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College poll convinces thousands of Americans that the F-35 is a waste of money

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Big and Little Brother: An F-35A sits in a run station on the Fort Worth, Texas, flight line, while an F-16 Fighting Falcon, also produced at the Fort Worth plant, takes off in the background. | Lockheed Martin


A new poll from the University of Maryland indicates that the majority of Americans favor of cutting funding from the U.S. defense budget in five out of seven major areas.

Specifically, they favor defunding one of the U.S.’ 11 aircraft carriers, and the F-35 Lightning II, DefenseNews.com reports.

“Given all the talk about increasing the defense budget, we were surprised to find how much Americans are not sold on increases, including a majority of Republicans nationwide,” said Steven Kull, director of the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation.

Indeed the survey, which polled more than 7,000 U.S. voters across the nation, shows that a majority of Republicans would prefer to keep defense spending where it is, a majority of Independents favor reducing the defense budget by $20 billion, and Democrats favor slashing the budget by $36 billion.

The survey presented 2015 figures on spending and offered alternatives. For example, when informed that cutting funding to the F-35 program would save $6 billion this year, and $97 billion through 2037, 54 percent of citizens polled supported cutting the program.

Though the desire to save money and be fiscally responsible is admirable and understandable, top brass in nearly all U.S. military services have expressed concern that nations like Russia and China threaten the U.S.’ foreign interests, and some have even gone as far as to call them existential threats.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons

Military leaders have stressed the need for progress and innovation to rise to the task of countering a resurgent Russia and a burgeoning China. Recently, the U.S. Air Force chief-of-staff warned that China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force will be poised to overtake the US Air Force by 2030, and a RAND Corp. report found that Russia could overtake NATO forces in the Baltics in 36 to 60 hours, should they choose to do so.

On Tuesday, top Air Force acquisitions personnel took to Congress and re-asserted the need for the U.S.’ fifth generation fighter planes. “We’ve seen both Russia and China develop airplanes faster than was anticipated,” said Lt. Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, according to the Air Force Times.

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
USS Wasp Night Ops: An F-35B off on the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during operations, a part of Operational Test 1, or OT-1. | US Marine Corps photo

The survey suggested that Americans supported cutting the number of U.S. aircraft carriers to 10 from 11.

Surprisingly, nationally, the majority of Americans did not support shrinking the submarine fleet from 12 to eight, nor did they want to cut funding to development of a new long range strike bomber.

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9 of the most legendary heroes in US Army history

U.S. Army life has created a lot of heroes in its 243 years of service. Here are 9 of the most legendary soldiers to have ever shot, bayoneted, and blown up America’s enemies:


1. Gen. George Washington

 

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Photo: Public Domain

The legendary standard, George Washington began as a militia officer working for the British Crown but later commanded all American forces both as the top general in the Revolutionary War and later the first commander in chief.

2. Sgt. John Lincoln Clem

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John Lincoln Clem as a young drummer boy. Photo: Library of Congress

John Lincoln Clem changed his own middle name from Joseph to Lincoln sometime before he tried to enlist in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War when he was 9. After being rejected by another unit, he made it into the 22nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry who sawed down the musket he later used to kill a Confederate officer who demanded his surrender.

He was promoted to sergeant and became a national hero before being discharged in 1864. He returned in 1871 and rose to major general before retiring in 1915.

3. Sgt. Alvin York

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Photo: US Army

Sgt. Alvin York tried to stay out of World War I as a conscientious objector. When his plea was denied, he followed orders and went to war where he captured 132 German soldiers almost single-handedly. He then escorted those prisoners through German lines, marching them past their own comrades.

4. Sgt. Henry Johnson

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Photo: Public Domain via US Army

Sgt. Henry Johnson was a “Harlem Hellfighter” of World War I. During a fight in the Argonne Forest, Johnson and a buddy came under attack by a dozen Germans. Johnson held them off with grenades and rifle fire until he ran out of ammo, then he finished the job with a knife, saving the rest of his unit.

5. Sgt. Audie Murphy

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Photo: US Army

One of the most decorated service members in history, Sgt. Audie Murphy was initially too small to enlist after Pearl Harbor and had to fight to get into the Army. Once in Europe, he engaged in a series of heroics including jumping onto a burning tank to hold off waves of infantry and six enemy tanks.

6. Gen. George S. Patton

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Photo: Wikipedia/US Army

The Olympian and West Point graduate Gen. George S. Patton is most known for his role in creating the Armored Corps, leading tanks in World War II, and coining a collection of inspirational quotes, but he also served in World War I and the American expedition to capture Pancho Villa in Mexico.

7. Gen. Douglas MacArthur

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Photo: US Army Signal Corps Gaetano Faillace

Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the Army as the chief of staff through the early years of Great Depression. He retired but was recalled to active duty in 1941. He led Pacific Forces in World War II and then ran the war in Korea until he was relieved of command for openly criticizing President Harry S. Truman.

8. Cpl. Tibor Rubin

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Photo: Department of Defense

 

Tibor Rubin survived the Mauthausen, Austria concentration camp and joined the U.S. Army to how his appreciation for them liberating him. In Korea, he held a hilltop on his own for 24 hours while his unit retreated using the road he was guarding. When he was finally captured, he refused offers by the Chinese to send him to his native Hungary, instead staying as a prisoner and stealing food for others.

9. Col. Lewis Millett

 

This was the US Navy’s cutting-edge stealth ship
Photo: US Army Al Chang

Lewis Millett joined the Army in 1941 but got tired of waiting for the U.S. to invade someone, so he deserted to Canada and got himself deployed to London. When America entered the war, he jumped back under the Stars and Tripes and twice saved men in his unit from certain death before his desertion charges caught up with him.

He was convicted and then promoted to second lieutenant within weeks. When Korea rolled around, he was an infantry captain who received a Distinguished Service Cross for a bayonet charge he led on Feb. 4, 1951 and a Medal of Honor for another bayonet charge on Feb. 7. He later served in Vietnam and retired as a colonel.

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