This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

As the space domain continues to grow, so does the need for access to space.

The U.S. Air Force and Space Command are powered by innovation. Because of this, Vandenberg Air Force Base is continually making improvements to base facilities, equipment, and the way airmen and operation partners do their job in order to complete the space mission.

“Our mission is to provide robust, relevant and efficient spaceport and range capabilities for the nation,” said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander. “However, as space domain progresses, so must we.”

The installation has come a long way since 1958, when it was repurposed from a deactivated U.S. Army training camp, to a U.S. Air Force missile launch and training base. Since then, the base has developed better amenities to increase productivity and has expanded its launch facilities, allowing space for more commercial partners.


There are many different components. Whether it be airmen, mission partners, commercial partners or contractors, who contribute to successfully launching a missile or satellite at Vandenberg AFB, each diverse role plays an important part to accomplishing the mission.

“On day of launch, we provide mission assurance. We provide technical oversight of everything happening to assure no incidents occur,” said Lt. Col. Brian Chatman, 1st Air and Space Test Squadron commander. “We’re shifting our methodology for how we provide mission assurance from days-of-old, to days-of-new for a more practical approach.”

Members of the 1st ASTS continuously implement innovations regarding space lift operations by evaluating, operating and emerging current launch and landing operations. By assessing the Space Launch Complex modifications that industry partners create, the 1st ASTS engineers ensure they understand the changes or modifications made, as well as, evaluate any risks that are associated with the changes.

“Airmen from the squadron are taking tactical approaches, tailoring analysis to provide risk assessments to the commander of the Space and Missile Center for a flight worthiness certification,” Chatman said.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test May 1, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks)

Through maintaining the range and retaining airmen, Vandenberg AFB is creating a better chance of accessing space through members of 30th SW such as 1st ASTS, as well as tenant units and mission partners. With the help of each squadron and various tenant units on base, the mission continues to be successful.

“This is an exciting time in the space community and I’m looking forward to working even closer with allies and partners to guarantee unconstrained access to and freedom to operate in space,” Hough said.

Through expansion and revamping of routines and facilities, innovative airmen continue to improve Vandenberg AFB range capabilities, supporting not only the current mission, but future generations and their access to space.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Spanish aircraft carrier was an elegant warfighter

The Spanish Navy has always operated an aircraft carrier. Its most recent carrier is SNS Juan Carlos I, which is, in essence, an amphibious assault ship capable of operating Spain’s force of EAV-8B Harriers. Juan Carlos I’s predecessor, though, was Spain’s first home-built aircraft carrier.


The Principe de Asturias, named for the heir to the Spanish throne, replaced the Dedalo, which began its life as the Independence-class light carrier USS Cabot (CVL 28). The Dedalo had been modified to operate AV-8S Harriers, which were very similar to various the Harriers in service with both the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Air Force.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
The Spanish aircraft carrier SPS Principe De Asturias (R 11) steams through the Atlantic Ocean while participating in Majestic Eagle 2004. Majestic Eagle is a multinational exercise being conducted off the coast of Morocco. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class William Howell)

The fact of the matter was that Independence-class light carriers were good ships — of the nine vessels to serve in World War II, eight survived — but they were designed to launch a piston-engine fighter, like the F6F Hellcat. The Principe de Asturias was designed to be a Harrier carrier from the getgo. One of the primary features of that ship was the ski-jump ramp on the bow.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Principe de Asturias displaced 17,190 tons and had a top speed of 25 knots. It could operate a mix of Harriers and anti-submarine helicopter and had four Meroka 20mm close-in weapon systems.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
An EAV-8B Harrier II from the Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias (R 11) prepares to land after a live-fire exercise as part of a passing exercise with ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Leonardo Carrillo)

25 knots seems quite low when compared to American Nimitz-class supercarriers. This is because the Principe de Asturias wasn’t meant to take on the Soviet Navy in the Norwegian Sea. Her mission was to help protect convoys heading across the Atlantic. The Harriers might not be able to destroy a regiment of Backfires, but they could kill the occasional Tu-95 “Bear D” search aircraft. Meanwhile, her helicopters could keep an enemy submarine at bay — or better yet, sink it.

This ship gave Spain 25 years of excellent service. Despite reports of a number of countries wanting to buy it, she was sold for scrap.

Learn more about this vessel in the video below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIFsez062MY
(Dung Tran | YouTube)
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This is the most powerful sidearm ever issued by the US military

In 1846, American firearms legend Samuel Colt teamed with Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker to produce the most powerful sidearm ever issued to the U.S. military – the Colt Walker 1847.


Walker, a Texas Ranger (no joke) and officer in the militaries of both the Republic of Texas and the United States when Texas entered the Union, served in the American West’s many armed conflicts. He fought the Indian Wars and the Texian War of Independence as well as the Mexican-American War.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

After he was discharged from the Texas Rangers, Walker self-funded a trip to New York to meet Colt. The duo based their design on the five-round Colt Paterson revolver. Walker and Colt would add a sixth round to the chamber, along with a stationary trigger and guard. With that, they created the most powerful black powder handgun ever made.

With a 9-inch barrel and .44 caliber round, this weapon had an effective range of 100 yards and the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum. At only 4.5 pounds, the Colt Walker 1847 was the most powerful U.S. military sidearm ever issued and the most powerful pistol until the introduction of the Magnum .357 in 1935. Walker himself carried two of his own pistols into Mexico during the war with the U.S. mounted rifles.

When one of his troops killed a Mexican soldier with the pistol at Veracruz, a medical officer reportedly remarked that the hand cannon shot hit with equal force and range as a .54-caliber Mississippi Rifle.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
(Warner Bros.)

There were some drawbacks to the design, including that sometimes the cylinders blew up in the shooter’s hand due to the amount of powder used — which was twice the amount used in similar weapons of the time. Colt recommended using 50 grains of powder, instead of the prescribed 60. Lard was sometimes used to keep all the cylinders from exploding at once.

Walker was killed leading troops through Huamantla, Mexico, during the Mexican-American War. Colt, who was bankrupt when he met Walker, rebuilt his business and reputation beginning with the Colt Walker 1847.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The Colt Walker’s legacy lives on in the hearts of firearms enthusiasts and American historians. In 2008, an original model, with original powder flask, fetched $920,000 at auction. That model was sold by Montana’s John McBride, whose great-great uncle was a Mexican War veteran.

Watch below as two European enthusiasts load and shoot a reproduction of the Colt Walker 1847.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how a Marine sniper earns a real ‘HOG’s tooth’

When a newly-minted Marine Corps Scout Sniper graduates from the sniper school where they learn their trade, they will be presented with a 7.62 round, the ammunition commonly used by the Marines’ elite scout sniper corps. But earning the actual HOGs Tooth is a much, more difficult task – because a Marine will be squaring off against another sniper looking for a HOGs Tooth of his (or her) own.


This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Before graduating sniper school, Marines are called “PIGs” – professionally instructed gunmen.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos)

Before we all drown in Facebook comments, let it be known that the point of this isn’t to make one tradition seem greater or more badass than the other. We’re talking about two different traditions that just have similar superstitious origins. It was once said there was a round out there destined to end the life of any sniper – the bullet with your name on it. The idea behind the HOG’s Tooth is that if anyone could acquire the bullet with their name on it, they would be invincible.

For a sniper to acquire the tooth of a “Hunter Of Gunmen,” a sniper must go through three steps, each more difficult than the last. The first step is to become an actual sniper, not just someone who’s really good at shooting. This means snipers need to go through a sniper school and deploy to an active combat zone. Don’t worry, deploying to a combat zone definitely won’t take long.

The third step is a doozy.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Candidates for Scout Sniper Platoon dig deep to complete the two-week preparation course.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long)

The third step to getting that HOG’s Tooth trophy actually has a few sub-steps. It starts with forcing a duel against another sniper (preferably an enemy). Once a sniper defeats an enemy sniper in sniper-on-sniper combat, they must then make it over to the enemy position where they will hopefully find the scene undisturbed. This will likely be difficult because they’re supposed to be in hostile territory. If they get there before anyone else, they should capture the enemy’s rifle. But more important to the trophy process is capturing what’s in that rifle: the round in the chamber.

That round is the “bullet with your name on it.”

If a sniper captures this bullet, superstition says, that sniper cannot be killed by gunfire on the battlefield because no one there has the bullet that is destined to kill them. Separate the bullet from the cartridge and use 550-cord or some other tried-and-true stringing method and feel free to use the round as a necklace. The bullet meant for you will always be around the neck of its potential victim rather than inside him somewhere.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force tested its personnel with real cyberattacks

In November 2018, the Air Force targeted its personnel at bases in Europe with spear-phishing attacks to test their awareness of online threats.

The tests were coordinated with Air Force leaders in Europe and employed tactics known to be used by adversaries targeting the US and its partners, the Air Force said in a release.

Spear-phishing differs from normal phishing attempts in that it targets specific accounts and attempts to mimic trusted sources.


Spear-phishing is a “persistent threat” to network integrity, Col. Anthony Thomas, head of Air Force Cyber Operations, said in the release.

“Even one user falling for a spear-phishing attempt creates an opening for our adversaries,” Thomas said. “Part of mission resiliency is ensuring our airmen have the proficiency to recognize and thwart adversary actions.”

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Sailors on watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet, Dec. 14, 2017.

(US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Samuel Souvannason)

The technique has already been put into real-world use.

Just before Christmas in 2015, Russian hackers allegedly used spear-phishing emails and Microsoft Word documents embedded with malicious code to hit Ukraine with a cyberattack that caused power outages — the first publicly known attack to have such an effect.

In December 2018, the US Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals with involvement in a decade-long, government-backed effort to hack and steal information from US tech firms and government agencies.

Their group relied on spear-phishing, using an email address that looked legitimate to send messages with documents laden with malicious code.

For their test in November 2018, Air Force cyber-operations officials sent emails from non-Department of Defense addresses to users on the Air Force network, including content in them that looked legitimate.

The emails told recipients to do several different things, according to the release.

One appeared to be sent by an Airman and Family Readiness Center, asking the addressee to update a spreadsheet by clicking a hyperlink. Another email said it was from a legal office and asked the recipient to add information to a hyperlinked document for a jury panel in a court-martial.

“If users followed the hyperlink, then downloaded and enabled macros in the documents, embedded code would be activated,” the release said. “This allowed the threat emulation team access to their computer.”

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

US Cyber Command.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Results from the test — which was meant to improve the defenses of the network as a whole and did not gather information on individuals — showed most recipients were not fooled.

“We chose to conduct this threat emulation (test) to gain a deeper understanding of our collective cyber discipline and readiness,” said Maj. Ken Malloy, Air Force Cyber Operations’ primary planning coordinator for the test.

The lessons “will inform data-driven decisions for improving policy, streamlining processes and enhancing threat-based user training to achieve mission assurance and promote the delivery of decisive air power,” Malloy said.

While fending off spear-phishing attacks requires users to be cognizant of untrustworthy links and other suspicious content, other assessments have found US military networks themselves do not have adequate defenses.

A Defense Department Inspector General report released December 2018 found that the Army, the Navy, and the Missile Defense Agency “did not protect networks and systems that process, store, and transmit (missile defense) technical information from unauthorized access and use.”

That could allow attackers to go around US missile-defense capabilities, the report said.

In one case, officials had failed to patch flaws in their system after getting alerts about vulnerabilities — one of which was first found in 1990 and remained unresolved in April 2018.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This suppressed pistol was custom made for Navy SEALs

The Mk 22 is a modified Smith & Wesson M39 pistol with a silencer, but it’s mostly known as the “Hush Puppy.”


During the 1960s, the Navy SEALs were just starting to develop their clandestine techniques that would eventually turn them into one of the finest fighting forces in the world. Being special operations commandos, they had their pick of conventional and non-conventional military weapons.

One of those was the M39. But after a few runs in the field, the frogmen started asking for modifications, which resulted in a longer barrel threaded at the muzzle to accept the screw-on suppressor, among other modifications.

“We’d go into these villages at two or three o’clock in the morning, and the dogs and ducks raised all kinds of kain [noise],” said former Navy SEAL Chief James “Patches” Watson in the video below. “We needed something to shut them up without disturbing the whole neighborhood.”

The gun was fantastic for silencing noisy dogs, hence its nickname. (Editor’s note: please don’t kill dogs.)

American inventor, Hiram Percy Maxim created the first commercially successful firearm suppressor in the early 1900s, giving way to the quietest gun on the battlefield.

Ironically, his father, Hiram Stevens Maxim, was the inventor of one of the loudest — the Maxim Gun. This weapon was the first fully automatic machine gun, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Maxim Jr.’s suppressors were popular in the 1920s and 30s among shooters and sportsmen before being adopted by the Office of Strategic Services — the predecessor of the modern CIA — during World War II. The next use by the American military were by the Navy SEALs, according to this American Heroes Channel video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm9zGv8oIR8

American Heroes Channel, YouTube

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the military tried to create an army of super soldiers

Technology wasn’t actually the method by which the military tried to create an army of super soldiers. It wasn’t a special armor or a Captain America-like serum either. No, like most harebrained schemes of the Cold War, the military tried to create a kind of “warrior monk soldier” with paranormal abilities that would take on the defense of the United States when technology could not.


The Army and the CIA, it turns out, could spend money on anything.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The Marines got the Warrior Monk anyway.

The First Earth Battalion was more than just a bunch of men staring at goats. The idea was derived from the human potential movement, a counterculture phenomenon of the 1960s which believed humans were not using their full mental and physical capacity in their lives and could thus be and do more when properly trained or motivated. After the end of the Vietnam War, the Army was ready to review how it fought wars and try an approach less focused on filling body bags.

When the Army sent word that it was seeking new ways of fighting and training its soldiers, it was bombarded with suggestions that seemed bogus but had some merit, like sleep learning and mental rehearsal. It was also offered some of the less down-to-earth ideas in American culture. It attempted to create an Army focused on unleashing the human potential locked within the bodies of its soldiers, unused.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Admit right now that unleashing an army of Tony Robbinses would be terrifying for the enemy.

So the U.S. military was divided over how to proceed. One side wanted to invest in developing weapons, technology, armor, and ways to train its soldiers. You know, Army stuff. The other side wanted to train soldiers to master extra-sensory perception, leaving their body at will to fight on the astral plane, levitation, psychic healing techniques, and the ability to walk through walls – they were asking for a “super soldier.”

Forget that there was no scientific evidence that this stuff actually worked. Or that the Army didn’t really ask if there was concrete evidence. And forget that the Army had no real plans to integrate these super soldiers into its order of battle against the Soviet Union when and if they did work. All they cared about were reports that the Soviets were seeking the same technology and powers, and the Americans wanted it too.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

In Marvel Comics, the Soviet superhero is the “Red Guardian” and I really need him to fight the First Earth Battalion now, thanks.

To settle the matter, the Army researched a report on all things parapsychology, from remote viewing to psychokinesis. This comprehensive study took two years and was released at a whopping 425,000 pages by the National Research Council. Their findings? Spoiler Alert: the evidence in favor of nearly all of these techniques and powers were “scientifically unsupported.”

What they did find to work were things like mental rehearsals before physically performing a task. Still, the 0,000 allocated toward the potential research in 1981 was never spent and was still unspent seven years later.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Who would win a 1989 dogfight between a Tomcat and an Eagle

Today, when we talk about a dominant plane in air-to-air combat, the conversation starts and ends with the F-22 Raptor. But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1980s, the F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle were contenders for the title of biggest air-to-air badass. So, between these two planes, which would come out on top in a head-to-head duel?


 

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The F-14 was capable of reaching speeds above Mach 2 and could carry a variety of air-to-air missiles. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Ramon Preciado.)

First, a little background. Both the F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle were modeled after lessons learned from the Vietnam War about the realities of air-to-air combat. Previously, the F-4 Phantom had been used as a multi-role fighter, and to do so, it had to give up some air-to-air capability. In the 1980s, both planes were dedicated exclusively to air-to-air missions — in fact, “not a pound air-to-ground” was the design mantra.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The F-15 Eagle entered service in 1976 and still serves today. In that sense, it has beaten the F-14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

The F-14 Tomcat has a crew of two, a top speed of 1,544 miles per hour, a maximum unrefueled range of 1,864 miles, and is equipped with the AWG-9 radar. It carries a 20mm M61 cannon and can carry eight air-to-air missiles, often operating with a mix of AIM-54 Phoenixes, AIM-7 Sparrows, and AIM-9 Sidewinders. The plane first joined the Navy in 1974. The only export customer was Iran. The Tomcat was primarily designed to counter Soviet bombers trying to sink carriers, but it was intended to also fight for air superiority.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The one clear advantage the F-14 has over the F-15 is reach — the AIM-54 Phoenix has much longer range than the AIM-7 Sparrow, but the Phoenix isn’t good at killing fighters. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Dana Potts)

The Air Force selected the single-seat F-15 Eagle for its air-superiority needs. This plane, which entered service in 1976, is equipped with the APG-63 radar, a 20mm M61 cannon, and also could carry eight air-to-air missiles. However, it could only carry the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-9 Sidewinder. It had a top speed of 1,875 miles per hour and a maximum unrefueled range of 2,402 miles. It got far more export orders than the F-14 and was purchased by Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
The best chance the F-15 Eagle would have in a fight with the F-14 is to get in close and use superior performance and endurance. (USAF photo)

Which of these planes would come out on top? Well, much depends on which gets to play to their own strengths. The F-14’s best chance against the Eagle is to initially fight at a distance – using the Phoenix missile. This may not be much help as the Phoenix isn’t designed to engage fighters, but there’s always a chance. Even then, this advantage is offset by the fact that the Phoenix could displace as many as six AIM-7 Sparrows, which perform better. That said, the Eagle needs to manage to get close and to use its performance and endurance to win a dogfight.

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Why the Glock is the sidearm of choice in Special Operations

When people think of U.S. military pistols, the M1911 and M9 come to mind. The former is iconic for being in service in some capacity for over a century and winning two World Wars. The latter is well-known as the standard-issue sidearm since 1985. However, the Glock 19 has quickly become a favorite in Special Operations. After all, these top-tier operators get to cherry-pick the best equipment available over the standard-issue gear.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
A MARSOC Raider fires a Glock 17 (U.S. Marine Corps)

Introduced in 1982, the Glock is arguably the most iconic handgun in the world. Its boxy shape and common depiction in media make it instantly recognizable. Moreover, its lightweight polymer frame revolutionized the firearm industry. Even the new standard-issue sidearm, the Sig P320-derived M17/M18, follows this design methodology. Despite initial doubts over the strength of a polymer-framed handgun, the Glock has proven its dependability over decades of use in the hands of soldiers and law enforcement officers all over the world.

Despite its track record, the Glock lost to the aforementioned Sig for the contract as the U.S. military’s standard-issue sidearm. A major factor in this decision was the fact that the Sig provided the modularity that the contract called for with its interchangeable chassis system while the Glock did not. After all, it was called the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. Sig also bid with a specialized ammunition package from Winchester which reportedly edged it out over Glock.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation
General Miller, the top man in Afghanistan for years, and former Delta operator, with a tricked out Glock on his hip (U.S. Army)

The cost of arming and rearming an organization the size of the U.S. military is an enormous one. However, Special Operations has a much smaller population to supply and a bigger budget per capita. As a result, SOCOM is able to supply its operators with the best gear for the job at hand. Delta Force has reportedly used the .40 S&W-chambered Glock 22 heavily in the Global War on Terror. However, advancements in 9mm ammo and reduced maintenance have led to reports that they have switched to the Glock 19. The Navy SEALs famously used the Sig Sauer P226-based MK25 before making the switch to the Glock 19. Even the MARSOC Raiders have traded in their steel-framed .45 ACP 1911s for Glocks. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention General Austin “Scott” Miller and his tricked out Glock.

As part of a system, the Glock 19 makes sense a lot of sense. Its compact size and polymer frame save weight on an operator’s total kit. Remember, ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. The Glock 19 is also accurate enough to serve as a combat sidearm while being small enough to conceal for the more covert operations that SOCOM undertakes. Although the majority of the U.S. military has modernized with the adoption of the M17/M18, SOCOM continues to field the tried and true Glock.

MARSOC Marines go through the Tactical Driving and Shooting Course with carbines and Glocks (U.S. Marine Corps)

Feature image: A representative assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group fires a Glock 19 Pistol during range training in support of Emerald Warrior Feb. 24, 2021 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Emerald Warrior is the largest joint special operations exercise where U.S. Special Operations Command forces train to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabriel Macdonald)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Hint about big changes coming to naval aviation hidden in new seal

November 2019, the US Navy unveiled the official seal for the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, which was officially launched on Oct. 29, 2019 — three months ahead of schedule.

The Kennedy will be christened in Newport News, Virginia, on Dec. 7, 2019, and even though it likely won’t be commissioned into service until 2020, the carrier’s seal reveals what naval aviation will look like aboard the Kennedy in the decades to come.

The seal, which is meant to honor Kennedy, his Navy service, and his vision for space exploration, depicts several of the aircraft that will operate on the carrier.


In front of the superstructure is what appears to be an E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, its wings folded back. Next to it, on the carrier’s bow, are F/A-18 Super Hornet jets, while an F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter and an H-60 helicopter variant are on the other side of the deck.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

The crest for the Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

(US Navy graphic)

Between the F-35C and the helicopter is a new addition to the carrier air wing: an MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicle, its wings folded above it.

In an email, Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, public affairs officer for Naval Air Force Atlantic, confirmed that the MQ-25 was pictured on the seal, which “displays future naval aviation capabilities that the aircraft carrier will likely support throughout its estimated 50 year service life.”

The MQ-25’s inclusion means the Navy “firmly expects UAVs will play a key role in directly supporting the primary combat function of the carrier, which will still be conducted by Super Hornets, Growlers, and the F-35,” said Timothy Choi, a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary’s Center for Military and Strategic Studies.

“Contrast the MQ-25’s presence with the absence of other carrier aircraft, such as the C-2 or its replacement, the CMV-22, that don’t play a combat role,” added Choi, who first spotted the MQ-25 on the seal when it was released.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Boeing’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueling tanker, being tested at Boeing’s facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

(Boeing photo by Eric Shindelbower)

A heavyweight champion

The Navy awarded Boeing an 5 million contract for the Stingray in August 2018, and one of four development models made the drone’s first flight in September. The first of four development models is expected to be delivered in fiscal year 2021, followed by planned initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2024.

In all, the Navy expects to get 72 MQ-25s and for a total cost of about billion, according to James Geurts, Navy assistant secretary for research, development, and acquisition, who called it “a hallmark acquisition program.”

The MQ-25 is a refueling drone, meant to ease the workload of the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets, which currently conduct both combat missions as well as refueling operations, using detachable tanks.

The drone would also allow carrier aircraft to fly longer and farther, conducting more missions and putting more space between the carrier and the growing variety of weapons that threaten it.

A dedicated carrier-based aerial refueling tanker could allow carrier aircraft “to reach [combat air patrol] stations 1,000 [nautical miles] from the carrier and conduct long-range attacks to respond promptly to aggression while keeping the carrier far enough away from threat areas to reduce the density of air and missile threats” to a level the carrier strike group’s defense could handle, according to a 2018 report on the carrier air wing by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

This US Air Force base is providing access to space through innovation

Boeing and the US Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler during its first test flight, Sept. 19, 2019.

(Boeing)

The Stingray “gives us additional reach, just like that of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali,” Adm. James Foggo, head of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said on a recent edition of his On the Horizon podcast.

The Navy may eventually ask for more than range, however.

The CSBA report also recommended redesignating the MQ-25 as a “multi-mission UAV,” modifying later versions to conduct attack, electronic warfare, or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions where appropriate.

Those modified MQ-25s “would be able to complement [unmanned combat aerial vehicles] when the risk is acceptable, providing the future [carrier air wing] a potentially less expensive option for surveillance, EW, or attack missions in less stressing environments,” the report said.

But the Stingray is still a long way from joining the fleet, and what it can do when it gets there, if it gets there, remains to be seen.

“The positioning of the MQ-25 into the background and off to the side might also be interpreted as a certain hesitancy” by the Navy, Choi said. “In the event UAVs turn out not to be as successful as expected, it can be easily ignored and the seal is not burdened with a white elephant sitting front and center on the deck.”

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

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This is the deadliest airplane ever, period, end of discussion

In the 1950s, Lockheed Martin designed the C-130 with transport in mind, by the end of the 1960s, Boeing converted the lumbering giant into one of the deadliest aircraft in the world. Its endurance and capacity to carry munitions made it the perfect AC-47 Spooky gunship replacement.


Related: This monster aircraft was the helicopter version of the AC-130 gunship

Like the AC-47, the new, AC-130 was capable of flying faster and higher than helicopters, and its excellent loiter time allowed it to deliver concentrated fire to a single target on the ground. The gunship first saw action during the Vietnam War and has continued to receive updates. The newest version of the gunship, the AC-130U Spectre, uses the latest sensor technologies and fire control systems to improve range and accuracy.

This video perfectly shows why Boeing received an $11.4 million indefinite contract by the U.S. Air Force. Watch it now:

Video: American Heroes Channel, YouTube

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are some of the craziest planes ever flown by the US military

A number of American planes have become classics. We know them off the top of our head: the P-51 Mustang, the F4U Corsair, the B-17 Flying Fortress. We can go on and on, and even debate amongst ourselves which planes were the coolest.


Some, though, are just plain crazy. You have to wonder Whiskey Tango Foxtrot were they thinking when they tried to fly `em. Was there ever any hope of them working? Here’s a look at a few — but just because they look crazy doesn’t mean some of them didn’t work.

McDonnell F-85 Goblin

Early jet fighters were a lot like sprinters. They were fast, but they didn’t have a lot of range. So some folks had the bright idea of having the bomber bring along its fighter escort. The “parasite fighter” was intended to be carried in by a bomber, be discharged, fight off enemy planes, then hook back up with the bomber.

The ultimate expression was the F-85 Goblin. This plane weighed less than 5,000 pounds, and was armed with four .50-caliber machine guns. It made a total of seven flights before the program was cancelled. Why? Aerial refueling was perfected, and making bombers trade off a lot of their payload to carry their fighter escort was no longer necessary.

 

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To fit inside the parent aircraft’s bomb bay, the XF-85’s wings folded up. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

Northrop B-35 and B-49

We see the B-2 today as perhaps the ultimate high-tech bomber. But Northrop had been trying to make a flying wing work since World War II. The B-35 and B-49 looked futuristic — and indeed they were decades ahead of their time. In this case, that was literally their problem.

The flying wing had its benefits, but the problem was the technology wasn’t there yet. The crash of a YB-49 prototype helped put the flying wing into limbo, not to return until the B-2 program, when computers enabled the flying wing to fly.

 

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YB-49 takes off. (U.S. Air Force photo)

 

NB-36H Peacemaker

In one sense, the B-36 arguably made the legendary B-52 Stratofortress look puny. However, that plane took a lot of fuel to get off the ground, and to keep flying. Fuel can get expensive, and its flammable. So, they decided to see if they could use nuclear power. The NB-36H was built to test the concept.

The reactor weighed 35,000 pounds. But after test flights, the Air Force decided that jet fuel was still a better option. Besides, they were buying some of the first of 732 KC-135 tankers.

 

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The NB-36H testbed. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

 

C-5 Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy is crazy, all right. Crazy huge. It is 247 feet long, 65 feet high, and has a wingspan of just under 223 feet. The Air Force built 126 of these planes: 76 C-5As from 1968-1973, and 50 C-5Bs from 1985-1989.

It can be refueled while flying, but even when carrying 60 tons, it can fly 4,800 nautical miles. Currently the Air Force has 78 C-5s on inventory. But when you have something that can haul as much as 135 tons of cargo in one go, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to build more.

 

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A C-130 Hercules training fuselage is loaded into a C-5 Galaxy for transport to Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York. This was the first time a C-5 transported a C-130 fuselage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ty Moore)

 

F-117 Nighthawk

This plane falls into the crazy-enough-to-work category. Just looking at it, you think it wouldn’t even fly. Well, it could, and it is one of the crown jewels to emerge from that famous Lockheed refinery known as the “Skunk Works.”

Often called the “Wobblin’ Goblin,” the F-117 was designed to have a very low radar cross-section. It ended up working very well for American pilots, easily penetrating Iraq’s vaunted air defense system. One was lost over Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999, but the F-117 served well, and the planes have still been flying despite having been “retired” in 2007.

 

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An F-117 on display at MCAS Miramar, in 2006 (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

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One of America’s legendary small arms was designed by a convict

One of the most decorated soldiers in American history had his big day on Jan. 26, 1945. For three hours, he fought off dozens of advancing Nazi troops, coming at him from three sides. He did it with a field phone, an M2 Browning .50-cal, and his trusty M1 Carbine. General MacArthur called the M1 carbine, “One of the strongest contribution factors in our victory in the Pacific.”

That carbine was a weapon designed just for Army paratroopers in World War II. It had its shortcomings, but its reliability would ensure it would see action in three American wars — and was even a preferred weapon of the enemy. But not many people know the steadfast weapon was designed by a self-taught gunsmith, one-time moonshiner, and convicted felon.


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David Williams started making moonshine in North Carolina’s backcountry in 1919. The only problem was the Cumberland County native was good at it — really good. Soon, word spread about the quality of the young man’s whiskey. With the rise of Prohibition in 1920, his elevated status soon became unwanted attention. The very next year, his still was raided by local law enforcement, and a shootout ensued. Williams shot and killed a deputy sheriff.

He was captured, convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to 30 years in state prison.

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Audie Murphy with an M1 carbine in ‘To Hell And Back,’ the film about his Medal of Honor experience in World War II. (Universal International Pictures)

The man who would later earn the nickname “carbine” spent a lot of time in both the prison blacksmith shop, as well as solitary confinement. An inventive tinkerer with no formal training, he spent his time in the box thinking of new ways to improve existing machines — including firearms. He began to make spare parts from scrap metal and wood, which, in turn, earned him more time in the shop. The more time he spent in the shop, the more good he did for himself and society.

It turns out the uneducated tinkerer was exceptionally adept with machine parts. He invented the floating chamber, a mechanism that allowed a larger caliber rifle to fire smaller .22 ammo. While other prisoners were known for building homemade knives, Williams was able to construct rifles from scraps.

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David Marshall “Carbine” Williams with his contribution to World War II. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

He earned an early release in 1929 and returned to his farm, where he constructed a large workshop and began to refine his inventions. Eventually, he was employed by the Winchester Repeating Firearms Company. Just before World War II broke out for the United States, he was able to develop a carbine version of the M1 Garand Rifle.

A carbine is essentially a shorter version of an existing rifle. It’s often lighter in weight and uses a shorter barrel but doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of consistency or accuracy. The M1 carbine, however, was not just a carbine version of the M1 Garand. The two firearms used different ammunition, and the only features they shared were the buttplate and screw. But there was a need for lighter weapons among paratroopers and support crew.

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M1 Carbines were present at the first Iwo Jima flag raising. (USMC photo by Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery)

 

Williams self-designed and built a short-stroke gas piston while in prison and incorporated it into his design for a lighter-weight infantry rifle. In trials, “Carbine” WIlliams’ design proved much more effective and consistent than other gun manufacturers, especially in sandy conditions — an environment that would prove very important to the Marine Corps.

By the end of World War II, the U.S. Military produced more than six million M1 Carbine rifles to use against the Nazis and the Japanese, making it America’s most-produced small arm of the war, edging out the iconic M1 Garand by more than a million units.

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