As we have explained in posts we have published recently, F-117s continue to zip through the Nevada skies despite being officially retired in 2008. Actually, the iconic stealth jet is doing probably much more than “just flying around”. The most recent sightings have seen the aircraft actively taking part in seemingly complex missions, flying the aggressor role alongside 57th Wing F-16s as The War Zonereported just a few days ago.
Anyway, it’s certain that some F-117s have been retired once for all. In November 2014, we spotted an F-117 fuselage being transported on a truck trailer was seen back on Nov. 14, 2017. More recently, on Aug. 16, 2019 at 4:09 PM aviation expert and photographer Chris McGreevy spotted another fuselage being hauled by a truck along Columbia Way (Ave. M) near the joint military/civilian use Palmdale Regional Airport outside Palmdale, California. While we don’t know where the first F-117 ended, we know everything about the latter one: nicknamed “Unexpected Guest”, the aircraft in question was #803 (82-0803), an F-117 that entered active service in 1984, flew 78 combat missions (the most of any Nighthawk) starting from Panama’s “Just Cause” operation and was retired in 2007 after logging 4,673 Flight Hours.
Peace Through Strength: F-117 Display at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
The “Unexpected Guest” was prepared for public display at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, through an operation dubbed Operation Nighthawk Landing. The interesting video was released for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Dec. 7, 2019, during the Reagan Foundation and Institute’s annual Reagan National Defense Forum. It includes footage of the F-117 stealth jets throughout their career, from the era when they flew under the cover of darkness at Tonopah, when an early form of biometric scanner called the Identimat built by Stellar Systems was used, to their last days of official operations before “retirement” (or something like that….). Long live the Stealth Jet!!
This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.
This week, National Geographic will air the first episode of The Long Road Home. The miniseries is a scripted retelling of the beginning of the U.S. Army’s fight in the Siege of Sadr City of April 2004. What began with an uprising against the U.S. occupation forces in the Shia neighborhood of the capital led to a long protracted siege spanning years.
The Long Road Home is the story of an ambushed Army escort convoy from 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. It’s based on the true story of a platoon forced to hole up in a civilian home and await rescue. With eight American soldiers lost in the initial fighting in the Baghdad neighborhood, the battle came to be known as “Black Sunday.”
Adapted from ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz’ book of the same name, the show meticulously created what might be the most accurate military story in film or television.
1. The show’s military advisors were in Sadr City that day.
Any military show or movie with an interest in authenticity is going to have veteran technical advisors on hand to tell the director when things are wrong. But in The Long Road Home, you can expect more than infantry badges and rank to be in the right place. You can expect the people and vehicles to be in Sadr City in the right places too.
Showrunner Mikko Alanne hired two veterans from Black Sunday – Eric Bourquin and Aaron Fowler – to be the show’s military advisors. If one of the actors needed to know how to wear a patrol cap, the two veterans could show him. But unlike most shows, if the director needed a minute-by-minute breakdown, he could ask the guys who were there.
“Personally, I like it,” says Fowler. “Because I’m a retired Sergeant First Class, so I have the anal-retentive part down. I’ve got lots of notebooks, and I have access to all the guys. If one of the actors had a question, I could get my phone and hand them the person that did the action they had questions about.”
Jeremy Sisto as Sgt. Robert Miltenberger in The Long Road Home. (National Geographic)
“Eric [Bourquin] was in the platoon that was pinned down on the roof and Aaron [Fowler] was among the rescuers,” says Alanne.
“I’m very proud to be a part of what happened and how it’s been handled. I’ve struggled with having to open up, because having such a wide spotlight cast on a pretty intense part of my life,” says Bourquin. “I learned things I didn’t know transpired. Because the whole time, I was stuck on the roof for four hours. People were out there trying to come in, to get us, so I’d been exposed to a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of and that was healing too. This is honoring them. Now everybody’s gonna always know their story. With that being said, how could I not be involved?”
2. Raddatz’ interviewed everyone close to the fighting.
You don’t get to be the Chief Global Affairs Correspondent of a major network without being addicted to the facts. Martha Raddatz, who literally wrote the book on the events in Sadr City that day, was working for ABC News in Baghdad at the time when she heard about what happened. She ended up talking to everyone from 2-5 Cav that was still in country.
“This story came to me,” she says. “I was covering politics and policy when a general told me about this battle. I had to go talk to these guys. We did pieces for ABC News, for Nightline… I was just so stricken by them. I come from a foreign affairs background and I see presidents make policy and then I went over and saw the effects of that policy.”
She was introduced to the families through the soldiers who fought there that day.
“It will be with me forever,” Raddatz says. “It felt like they could all be my neighbors. One day they’re all in minivans with their kids, and in three days they’re in the middle of a battle. These aren’t a bunch of action figures, these are real human beings.”
3. Mike Medavoy is an executive producer.
If the name of a film producer doesn’t excite you, that’s fine. An executive producer’s name likely doesn’t carry a lot of weight with most of America.
In the case of The Long Road Home, however, the addition of Medavoy puts the miniseries in the hands of a guy who helped make the legendary war movies Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and The Thin Red Line (not to mention non-military films Rocky, Raging Bull, and Terminator 2).
4. The Long Road Home’s depiction of Army families is heartfelt and real.
When the cast arrived at Fort Hood and met the families of 2-5 Cav, they got just a taste of what living in a military family is like.
“I took away an incredible sense of community,” says actress Katie Paxton, who plays Amber Aguero, wife to Lt. Shane Aguero. “You felt that community from the soldiers. When you’re in war covering your sector, you’re covering the guy to your left. You’re covering the guy to your right. And those guys are your family. I never really understood that until I talked to soldiers.”
A still from the opening episode of The Long Road Home. (National Geographic)
“I grew up in the city as a city kid, and this totally dispelled all of my ideas of what the soldier was actually like,” says actor Ian Quinlan, who plays Spc. Robert Arsiaga. “There was a very significant through line between these soldiers – a lot of these guys joined after 9/11. It blew me away because as a New Yorker I didn’t know anyone in my immediate vicinity in New York who would ever think of that.”
“Hearing their stories, you just feel the goosebumps,” says Karina Ortiz, who plays one of the Gold Star Wives. “The soldiers leave and everything is fine at first, but then people start hearing things. Rumors. The waiting. The not knowing. I would get teary-eyed and just feel their pain. Or I’d feel their fear.”
The experience of recreating the events of April 2004 even had an effect on its veterans.
“One of the Gold Star Wives came up to me after the Fort Hood premiere and told me thank you,” Eric Bourquin says. “I don’t know why. Her husband died trying to come rescue us guys that were stuck on the roof. But the more I thought about it I realized everyone watching is going to see what the families and everyone involved goes through when shit happens.”
5. The showrunner’s background is in documentary.
“I was very cognizant from the beginning that real life people were going to be watching this,” says Mikko Alanne. “It was my hope that we would be able to use everyone’s real name, and so Martha and I worked very closely on reaching out to all the families.”
The two were very successful. The show originally premiered in Fort Hood’s Abrams Gym. After the show’s Los Angeles premiere, the veterans and Gold Star Families took the stage with their TV counterparts, to a standing ovation from an elite Hollywood audience. But the realism didn’t stop with cooperation.
A still from The Long Road Home. Sadr City was meticulously recreated on Fort Hood for these scenes. (National Geographic)
“So many of the families sent us their photographs, actual photographs used as props, or photographs of their homes for us to recreate,” Alanne says. “And it was very important to me the cast reached out to their real-life counterparts. Bonds were formed between the actors and the real life families, and everyone became infused with the same mission that Martha really started; that these families and these experiences would not be lost to history.”
6. The Fort Hood scenes are really Fort Hood.
When you see Fort Hood, Tex. depicted on screen, you can be sure that’s what Fort Hood really looks like. The show was shot entirely at Fort Hood. The cast even lived in base housing. More important than that, however, is the exact recreation of Sadr City built on Fort Hood that took the veterans on the base back to April 2004.
“The smell was the only thing that wasn’t exactly recreated,” says Fowler. “We veterans and Gold Star Families got to walk back to the streets of Sadr City that we would never get to go. It was an incredibly healing experience. Exposure therapy plain and simple.”
Eric Bourquin agrees.
“Being able to travel back to your battlespace without fear of being captured and ending up in a YouTube video is a gift that can’t be put into words,” he says. “Just like the guys that go back and visit France, or Korea, or Vietnam — it’s become a reality.”
A candid from behind the scenes of The Long Road Home on Fort Hood. (National Geographic)
The Long Road Home starts Tuesday Nov. 7 at 9pm on National Geographic.
Chantae McMillian Langhorst is an Army spouse of two years, currently stationed in Georgia while her husband trains to be a helicopter pilot. She’s also a mama to one-year-old Otto, Olympic athlete and just won the coveted title of “Titan” for the central region on NBC’s the Titan Games, hosted by “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson.
She’s just a little busy.
Even before her husband decided to join the Army, Langhorst’s life was already deeply rooted in the military. Both of her parents were in the Army when they met, while stationed overseas in Germany. They would go on to serve and retire after 20 years each. Langhorst shared that she absolutely believes being a military kid helped her become more adaptable and independent. She knows those experiences served her well and helped mold her into the person and competitive athlete that she is today.
Langhorst graduated from Rolla High School in Missouri as a track and field athlete. She was also selected as a Nike All American. She received a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and began competing in the heptathlon. During her time in college, she received the coveted title of All-American five times while competing. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art, she was approached by a coach who suggested she continue competing.
This time, in the Olympics.
“One of the best times of my life was learning about myself, how hard I could work and being able to dig deep and figure things out,” said Langhorst. In 2011 while training to compete in the Olympics, she suffered a devastating injury to her patellar-tendon in her knee during a high jump. Although she would never want to go back to that time in her life, Langhorst believes pushing through to heal from that injury to qualify for the Olympics made her a stronger athlete in the end.
Despite that injury, she made the U.S. Olympic team. Although Langhorst didn’t medal, she credits making it to the London 2012 Summer Olympics was one of the greatest achievements of her life.
In 2014, she found herself in Ohio training for the 2016 Olympics. Langhorst became a track and field coach at the University of Dayton. She also met her future husband, who was a sports trainer at the time. In 2015, she was selected for ESPN’s famous body issue. Although she didn’t make it past the trials for the 2016 Olympics, she didn’t give up. Langhorst began exploring the winter Olympics but stopped once she was faced with a surprise.
She was pregnant with little Otto.
Langhorst’s husband had begun the process of joining the Army and knowing that little Otto was on the way, they were even more excited for their new journey. They married in 2018 and he went off to Army training in 2019. After his graduation, they were stationed in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he began helicopter pilot training. Then, Langhorst received an interesting phone call.
The Titan Games wanted her to try out.
They flew her out to Los Angeles in January of 2020 for a combine. A few days later, she was told she made the cut and would need to get to Atlanta to start filming. For 20 straight days she was involved in competitions twice a day and filming 12 hours a day. Langhorst describes it as an amazing experience but also exhausting. She also shared that there wasn’t much food. “I look so shredded on TV because I was eating like a bird,” she said laughing.
Langhorst became a Titan, swiftly eliminating her competition in the first episode.
“I hope I can inspire people,” she shared. Langhorst said that she understands how easy it is to get lost in being a military spouse and putting the service member’s career before your own. She found herself doing it before that call from The Titan Games. “Spouses need to know that they can still achieve a lot – even with a kid,” she explained. Langhorst said that having Otto gave her more purpose and the fuel to work even harder to make him proud.
These days, Langhorst is training for the Olympics again with the goal of medaling. Even with her super athletic abilities and tunnel vision goals, she’s absolutely human. She loves donuts, although she doesn’t indulge often. Fun fact: She loves training barefoot. Langhorst is also an artist who loves to paint and still searches for four-leaf clovers, something she always did with her dad who passed a few years ago. Now when she finds one, she feels him with her.
Langhorst has come a long way from the young girl who had her goals written on her bedroom ceiling. She hopes that her story of persistence and drive will encourage others to live their purpose. Langhorst has achieved so much in her life already, but she isn’t done yet. She’s just getting started.
To learn more about Langhorst, check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook as she takes you on her journey to the Olympic trials.
The new PWS Diablo AR15 pistols give us the warm ‘n’ fuzzies.
A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo of BreachBangClear.com.
Remember: At the risk of sounding orgulous, we must remind you – this is just a “be advised”, a public service if you will, letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. It’s no more a review, endorsement, or denunciation than it is an episiotomy.
PWS recently released a limited run of AR15 pistols, and while it’s too late to get one in hand for Christmas, it’s not too late to ask for one. Why? Two reasons:
One, its close kin to the Diablo AR pistol. Diablo, as you already know if you’ve ever watched Talladega Nights, is Spanish for “fightin’ chicken.”
Two, they make snow-dicks at their headquarters during the winter.
True story, and one that might stem from or more of the large number of veterans PWS employs.
There are actually two new pistols, both using the PWS long stroke *snicker* piston system. That system is something of a bastard offspring, merging elements of the Kalashnikov operating system with that of the Stoner. More on that below.
Both pistols use the Maxim Defense CQB Pistol EXC, a so-called “cheek rest” that runs something like $400 by itself. The EXC is a well regarded brace, and its use reduces overall weight.
The pistols are available in .223 Wylde or 300BLK, and with a 7.75 in. or 11.85 in. barrel, but the MK1 MOD1-P (Patrol) version features a forged receiver set with forward assist and uses a KeyMod rail, while the MOD2 uses PicMod, with a proprietary upper receiver with lightening cuts and no forward assist.
Barrels are machined there in-house at the PWS facility in Idaho; they’re rifled with a 1:8 twist.
Now, speaking of bastard offsprings, if you’re not already familiar with the PicMod system from Bootleg, you should check it out. PicMod itself is the love child of Pic rails and KeyMod.
In addition to providing the utilitarianism of having two mounting systems, it will allow you to tuck accessories like a WML in really tight too.
Grunts: utilitarianism. We may not be using that correctly, but you already knew that.
Both weapons ship with the PWS CQB Comp, a muzzle device designed to tame muzzle blast and improve rifle control at short distances.
Here’s a quick look at that long stroke *snicker* piston system:
If you’re looking for more details about the CQB Comp, you can learn more about the various PWS muzzle devices in a blog post from earlier this year on Rogue Dynamics (here). Here’s what they had to say about the CQB:
“At first glance it looks like some gimmicky, wannabe-sound suppressor, but just a few rounds later and it’s clear that this is something else. The CQB was specifically designed for SBRs that would be running in close quarters, with rounds going off inches from friendly forces.”
China’s most advanced stealth fighter is ready for aerial refueling operations, giving it the ability to pursue targets at greater distances, according to Chinese state media.
The “fifth-generation” Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter entered military service in 2017 and was incorporated into Chinese combat units in February 2018. This aircraft, the pride of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force, put on quite a show at Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai, where it showed off its payload of missiles for the first time publicly while rocking a new paint job.
China Central Television (CCTV), a state-run broadcaster, revealed recently that the aircraft has been equipped with a retractable refueling probe, which is embedded on the right side of the cockpit. The refueling probe was embedded to help the fighter maintain stealth, something with which the J-20 has struggled. A consistently-exposed probe extending from the fuselage would make the J-20 much more visible to enemy radar systems.
Four of the six onboard missiles are stored internally in a missile bay, a design feature intended to make the J-20 more stealthy, Chinese military experts told China’s Global Times.
The two Chengdu J-20s making their first public appearance.
Although the exact range of the Chinese stealth fighter, nicknamed the “Powerful Dragon,” is unknown, the aircraft has a suspected combat radius of roughly 1,100 kilometers, making it suitable for long-range strikes and intercepts. With aerial refueling capabilities, the J-20 can extend its reach, giving China the ability to better patrol the disputed waterways where it desires to exercise authority.
The J-20 could be refueled by a Chinese HU-6 aerial tanker.
The J-20’s chief designer says the world has yet to see the best that the aircraft has to offer, stressing that certain capabilities were unable to be presented at the recent airshow.
Chinese experts argue that the J-20 as a combat platform superior to the American F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, two elite fighters which have both been tested in combat. The J-20 has only taken part in combat training exercises. Furthermore, while the J-20 was expected to receive a new engine, the technology remains unreliable, the South China Morning Post recently reported.
The J-20 continues to rely on either Russian imports or inferior Chinese engines, which have, according to some observers, prevented China from achieving the kind of all-aspect stealth of which a true fifth-generation fighter should be capable. The J-20 has decent front-end stealth, but it is noticeably less stealthy at different angles.
The J-20 was rushed into production, but as China works some of the kinks out, it could potentially lead to the development of a much more lethal and effective aircraft.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
New Marine recruits destined for Parris Island will spend two weeks at the Citadel before moving into training.
The United States Marine Corps has begun placing incoming recruits into two weeks of isolation where they are regularly monitored by medical staff to identify any potential symptoms of COVID-19 infection, but the temporary tent housing these recruits stay in has been deemed insufficient as America’s southeast braces for this year’s hurricane season.
In order to ensure the safety of recruits awaiting training, the Marine Corps reached out to the Citadel, a public military college in South Carolina where aspiring military officers attend classes alongside civilians. The president of the Citadel, retired Marine General Gen. Glenn M. Walters, was happy to support.
“The Secretary of Defense charged each military service to develop strategies to maintain basic training, and The Citadel is proud to be part of the solution for the Marine Corps,” said Gen. Glenn M. Walters.
“Since The Citadel campus is currently closed due to the pandemic, the college is positioned to quickly assist as a mission-capable site in this effort that supports national security.”
Recruits will be housed in the campus’ empty barracks beginning on May 4, where they will remain for a two-week period of monitored isolation. During their time on the campus, they’ll be given access to the college mess hall, infirmary, laundry, and tailor shop. They will also utilize some classrooms for periods of instruction.
“While meeting our mission, the health and safety of our Marines, all civilians and our families are a primary concern,” said Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn, USMC commanding general, Marine Corps Recruit Depos Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region.
“With high school graduations happening now, this is one of our busiest times of the year. We are grateful to have this temporary arrangement so near to Parris Island.”
The benefits of this agreement aren’t one-sided either. While the Marine Corps gets a safe and well equipped place to house recruits in isolation, the contract established between the Corps and the Citadel will help offset the significant economic impact the college has suffered due to closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This partnership is reminiscent of the Second World War, when The Citadel campus supported over 10,000 military personnel training in various programs before shipping overseas,” Walters said.
“This is an historic partnership at a time of need, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.”
You can learn more about what each branch is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at basic training here.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, who is the Army Chief of Staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force, visited the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center Feb. 28, 2018 on behalf of Army senior leadership.
There are currently three active duty Army astronauts who are assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s NASA detachment — Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan, Maj. Anne McClain, and Maj. Frank Rubio (astronaut candidate).
These Soldiers help the Army define its requirements for the space program and enhance the Army’s use of space capabilities.
Morgan, the detachment commander who is assigned for his first mission to the International Space Station in 2019, said it was a real honor for the sergeant major of the Army, or SMA, to take the time to visit them in Houston.
“It’s rare for such a senior member of the Army leadership team to come down to Johnson Space Center to see what we do,” said Morgan. “The SMA told us he wanted to get to every place on the planet that Soldiers serve — off the planet is a little tougher; we can’t get him to the International Space Station. But we were able to give him a detailed tour of the facilities where astronauts train and see Army astronauts at work supporting human spaceflight and training for upcoming missions. The SMA is excited for our mission and anxious to share the story of Army astronauts and how space Soldiers serve our nation’s human spaceflight program.”
During his visit, the SMA was given a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, which NASA uses not only for astronaut training and the refinement of spacewalk procedures, but also to develop flight procedures and verify hardware compatibility — all of which are necessary to achieve mission success.
He also went to Ellington Field, where the primary function is to train astronauts for spaceflight; the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, here the mission is to provide world-class training for space flight crews and their support personnel; and the mission control center, where flight controllers keep a constant watch on the ISS crew’s activities and monitor spacecraft systems, crew health and safety as they check every system to ensure operations proceed as planned.
Dailey said there were a couple of reasons for his visit.
“First of all, these are Soldiers,” he said. “They belong to the United States Army. We have Soldiers everywhere. They’re out in the world. It’s our job to go out there and see the great things that our Soldiers are doing.”
“The second reason is to highlight the importance of the fact that we have Soldier astronauts, and that is amazing even to me,” Dailey continued. “I’m the sergeant major of the Army. I’ve been in the Army a long time. And that’s amazing to me, and it just shows the great contributions that Soldiers are doing from the edge of the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan to outer space. Is that unbelievable or what?”
“And the third reason is to show our support from the senior leadership perspective,” he added. “There are only three Army astronauts down here right now. They’re just as important as the other 1.18 million Soldiers we have everywhere else in the world. And they deserve that level of attention from the senior leadership of the Army and they deserve that appreciation because every single one of them has worked extremely hard to get here.”
Morgan highlighted the fact that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers regardless of rank.
“The sergeant major of the Army represents the senior Army Soldier, and the officers and astronauts of the NASA detachment consider themselves Soldiers first,” said Morgan. “The message that we really want to get out there is that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers. We don’t have a selection very often, maybe once every four years or so, but I want to emphasize that, while there are requirements to apply, rank is not one of them. We take all types. One thing that we’ve proven over and over again is that good Soldiers make good astronauts.”
McClain, who is scheduled for her first mission to the ISS in November 2017, said it was a real privilege to have the SMA visit.
“It’s not often that we can host guests from the Army,” McClain said. “We love showing the Army what we do. We’re very proud of our unit, so to have someone like the SMA who really has the ability to share with others what we’re doing and just seeing his genuine concern for the Soldiers down here is a real honor. It’s been really fun to show him around.”
If you’re unfortunate enough to be following the Twitter stream coming out of the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a summit for armored warfare. There are at least four new vehicles sporting heavy armor and tracks on the floor, all of them falling in the range of what used to be called a “light” or “medium tank.”
A Norwegian CV90 infantry fighting vehicle created by the Swedish BAE Systems company.
So, why does the convention floor at the meeting of top soldiers look like the world’s most awesome car dealership?
Because the Army has been shopping for a new weapon that’s not quite a tank, and manufacturers all think their design could draw the Army’s eyes (and wallet).
The Army program, dubbed “Mobile Protected Firepower,” is looking for an armored vehicle that could fold into infantry brigade combat teams, giving them an armored advantage against other forces. They’re not looking for a heavy vehicle that can take on tanks, but a lighter one that will be top dog in places where tanks can’t go.
The Griffin III technology demonstrator sits on the floor at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting.
(General Dynamics Land Systems)
So, something a little heavier and more robust that a Stryker or Bradley, but still light enough to cross most bridges and navigate narrow streets. This would make it useful in recent battlefields like the mountains of Afghanistan, where the heavy M1 Abrams couldn’t often go, as well as predicted future battlefields, like megacities and jungles.
It’s the infantryman’s tank.
So, what are the industry offerings available at the AUSA meeting?
A Norwegian CV90 infantry fighting vehicle created by the Swedish BAE Systems company.
One officially debuted on October 8 at the meeting: the Griffin III from General Dynamics Land Systems. This large vehicle packs a 50mm cannon, much larger than most armored vehicles and twice diameter of the 25mm gun of the Bradley. According to a tweet from the manufacturer, the gun can elevate to 85 degrees, nearly vertical. That would allow it to hit windows and ledges in cities even from tight streets.
Meanwhile, the Swedish BAE Systems has highlighted a new addition to their CV90 family of vehicles. These armored beasts tip the scales at 25-30 tonnes, can have manned or unmanned turrets, and are configurable for a variety of missions, including anti-tank or air defense. Best of all for potential infantrymen, the vehicles are supposed to be highly survivable even against larger threats, capable of firing first and of shooting down incoming munitions in combat.
Possibly the most surprising of these not-quite-tanks to debut is SAIC’s, which boasts a chassis from Singapore, a turret from Belgium, and optics from Canada. SAIC is historically a services company, repairing and upgrading components of larger vehicles, but they’re hoping to win a contract to make a fleet of vehicles from the ground up. They were passed over for the Marine Corps’ new amphibious vehicle earlier this year, but the Army would be a bigger contract anyway.
A Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle fires a 30mm tracer round at a range in Germany.
In a potentially unprecedented violation of privacy, a Navy prosecutor is suspected of spying on the media in an attempt to find leaks in a major war crimes case.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher will soon stand trial for stabbing an unarmed ISIS militant to death in Iraq in 2017, as well as shooting two civilians. The Navy SEAL’s defense team recently brought forward allegations that the prosecution sent emails with embedded tracking software to 13 lawyers and paralegals affiliated with the case.
Emails were also sent to attorneys for Lt. Jacob Portier, who allegedly conducted a re-enlistment ceremony for Gallagher next to the body of the very ISIS fighter Gallagher is accused of murdering.
The emails sent by Navy prosecutor Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak contained an unusual image of the American flag with a bald eagle sitting atop the scales of justice, an image that had not appeared in previous emails.
While most of the recipients were members of Gallagher and Portier’s defense teams, one of these peculiar emails was sent to a Carl Prine, a reporter at Navy Times who has broken several important stories related to the case. Czaplak, according to Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher’s attorneys, recently admitted to sending the emails before a military judge.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher.
The emails with the tracking software are suspected to have been sent as part of an ongoing NCIS investigation into leaks to the media, as the case is covered by a gag order imposed by Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh. Still, certain sensitive documents have been leaked to the press.
“It is illegal for the government to use [the emails] in the way they did without a warrant,” Parlatore said to Military Times, parent company for Navy Times. “What this constitutes is a warrantless surveillance of private citizens, including the media, by the military. We should all be terrified.”
The Navy explained to Military Times that the media was and is not the target of the investigations. The embedded image in the email sent by the prosecution reportedly contained a “splunk tool,” a kind of cyber tool capable of facilitating external access to a compromised computer and the files stored within, although there is the possibility the tracking software in the emails may have been more benign.
The prosecution is suspected of pursuing IP addresses and other relevant metadata, information which can only be pursued with a subpoena or court order.
U.S. Navy SEAL candidates.
(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)
While such behavior is decidedly unethical in the legal world, the targeting of reporters may be without precedent. “This is the first case I am aware of that something like this has happened,” Gabe Rottman, the director of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told Military Times. “If a prosecutor sent an email to a reporter with a tracking device intending to identify a leak, that is certainly concerning.”
“If it is true that a government official included tracking software in an email to a reporter surreptitiously to find out who the reporter is talking to, that potentially exposes that reporter’s other sources in totally unrelated cases to government scrutiny,” he added.
In response to the alleged actions of the prosecution, Parlatore is filing a motion to dismiss the case, as well as a motion to disqualify Czaplak from prosecuting the case. It remains to be seen if there will be any legal backlash to deal with the suspected blow to press freedom.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Air Force officials say they’re rolling out a number of initiatives to address the problem, but the training squadrons in charge of preparing pilots are still using some stop-gap measures to train the pilots they have.
Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, outgoing head of the Air Force’s Air Crew Crisis Task Force, told Air Force Magazine in July 2018 that his team, set up in 2017, now has a five-year plan and has made progress in revamping the pilot-training process.
The plan provides structure for implementation of the 69 initiatives proposed to address the shortage. The plan also intends to grow manning levels to 95% by fiscal year 2023.
“When I first started there was no timeline, just initiatives,” Koscheski said.
Capts. Wes Sloat, left, and Jared Barkemeger, 7th Airlift Squadron pilots, take off in a C-17 Globemaster III at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 27, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith James)
Koscheski, who is leaving his position to be director of plans, programs, and analysis for US Air Forces Europe and Africa, said the plan focuses on pilot retention, production, and requirements.
The retention element was “critically important” and the one in which the service has seen the most advancement, he said. It includes increased pay and bonuses, more flexibility in assignments, and the reduction of the administrative duties that many find onerous or distracting.
“Sometimes instead of trying to create more aircrew, if we create more support personnel or keep the aircrew we have healthy, we can get more production out of” fewer people, Koscheski told Air Force Magazine.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Air Force Times in June that the service was getting ready to announce a plan to reinvigorate squadrons, ensuring they have strong leaders and high morale.
“That, to me, is the secret sauce. That’s what’s going to keep people in. It’s what’s kept me in,” Goldfein said, without describing the plan.
Goldfein has also said he wants to push production to 1,400 to 1,500 pilots a year. (Others say 1,600 a year are needed to fix the shortfall.) But the force already faces challenges growing production from 1,200 pilots a year to 1,400.
President Donald Trump and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, second right, with two US Air Force pilots at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 15, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash)
Finding airmen who want to be pilots generally hasn’t been the issue, however. What the Air Force has struggled with is getting student pilots through the training pipeline — a process complicated by a bottleneck created by a lack of pilots available to serve as instructors.
In 2018, the training process was further delayed by a month-long safety stand down for the Air Force’s T-6 Texan training aircraft, due to unexplained physiological events that endangered pilots.
Koscheski said the stand down led the force to train about 200 fewer pilots than expected, though he and other Air Force officers have said that pause gave the service time to reevaluate the training.
A syllabus redesign was done “first and foremost … to create better pilots,” Koscheski said. “The side benefit is it now takes five to nine weeks less to get pilots through pilot training, so … we’re able to get more [students] through [the pipeline], but now it just increases production.”
Researchers from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies have also called on the Air Force to increase its use of contractors, arguing in a report in early 2018 that “innovative uses of contractors in the training pipeline” were needed to ramp up pilot production without depriving front-line squadrons of fliers.
A 64th Aggressor pilot on the flight line after a Red Flag 17-4 exercise sortie on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Aug. 25, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)
The Air Force has already brought in contractors to fill the role of “red air,” in which US pilots pose as rival aircraft.
Koscheski told Air Force Magazine that the service was considering bringing in contractors to be instructors.
‘A leap into the unknown’
The lack of instructors has led some training squadrons to implement stop-gap measures and compensate in other ways in order to use their limited resources in the most efficient way.
The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona found out in 2017 it would only get 13 of the 26 F-16 instructor pilots it requested. Rather than spread the pain, the wing commander sent 12 of the new instructors to the 54th Fighter Group at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, which will take over F-16 training as the 56th shifts to F-35 training operations.
Back at Luke, Air Force officers decided to shift their remaining resources to the squadron training on newer-model F-16s. That shift was a better use of resources and better for pilots, they told Aviation Week in early 2018, but it still was “a leap into the unknown.”
Other bases are making changes to the training itself to handle more pilots with the same number of instructors.
Pilots prepare a T-6 Texan II for a training flight at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, June 13, 2018. The T-6 Texan II is the first aircraft Air Force Pilots learn to fly before moving on to more advanced aircraft.
(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Pettis)
At Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Air Force officials are preparing for an increase of more than 100 student pilots in the next few years. By 2021, the base expects to have about 450 student pilots.
“We have an increased student load coming, and from 2017 to 2021 the forecast is a 34 percent increase in students,” Col. Darrell Judy, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing, told The Oklahoman in July 2018.
But officials at Vance don’t expect to get more instructors for several years. Judy said the base would instead increase its use of simulators and change other parts of training in order to adjust to the increase.
“We believe we have found a way to trim off about six weeks from the current 54 weeks of training that students go through,” Judy said. “That will allow us a greater throughput [of students] with the amount of instructors we currently have now.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The US military, together with its coalition partners, is close to liberating the last of the ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, the Pentagon’s top official said Jan. 29, 2019.
“I’d say 99.5% plus of ISIS-controlled territory has been returned to the Syrians,” Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan told reporters. “Within a couple of weeks, it will be 100%.”
“ISIS is no longer able to govern. ISIS no longer has freedom to mass forces. Syria is no longer a safe haven,” Shanahan added.
The secretary’s update that the fall of the physical caliphate in Syria is imminent comes weeks after President Donald Trump declared victory over the terrorist organization.
“We have won against ISIS,” President Donald Trump announced in December 2018, as he called for the withdrawal of American troops. “We’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land. And, now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”
Despite the president’s claims, many observers argue that ISIS is far from defeated, despite the organization’s crumbling caliphate.
Direct of National Intelligence Dan Coats, commenting on the Worldwide Threat Assessment, stated Jan. 29, 2019, that ISIS “has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide,” adding that “ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”
ISIS forces targeted a coalition patrol recently, killing two US service members, a Department of Defense civilian employee, and an American contractor.
Shanahan said, as others have, that there is still more work to be done, explaining that the planned troop withdrawal is still in the “early stages.”
Since Trump’s victory tweet, administration officials have said conflicting things about the timeline and full scope of the pullout, often indicating that this may be a long, drawn-out process.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The US Marine Corps says it needs ground-launched missiles that can seek out and eliminate enemy ships sailing in contested waterways.
“Part of the homework that the Navy and Marine Corps have done over the past six months is how we think we’re going to need to operate in the future as an integrated naval force,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
“That means the Marine Corps assumes a role which we have not had in the past 20 years, which is how do we contribute to sea control and sea denial,” he added.
The Marines have practiced striking stationary ships from land and sea with missiles launched from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, but now the service wants to take it a step further and hit ships on the move.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, said the Corps wants a system with an active seeker that can chase down a moving ship, something it doesn’t currently have.
“We have to have a system that can go after that,” Smith told lawmakers. “That is what matters in a contested environment in the South China Sea or in the [Indo-Pacific Command] area.”
Changing the calculus of an adversary
The Marines are currently looking at the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which has a range of roughly 750 nautical miles, as a Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missile (GBASM) solution.
Smith said the service will test fire the system in June.
The NSM is “capable of sea-skimming, high-g maneuverability, and the ability to engage targets from the side, rather than top-down,” according to written testimony submitted to the HASC.
The NSM would be fired from a mobile launch platform based on an unmanned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle called the Remotely Operated Ground Unit for Expeditionary Fires, or ROGUE-Fires, vehicle. The missile and the vehicle together are the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS), the testimony says.
The GBASM and ROGUE-Fires vehicle are “rapid prototyping and development initiatives” for the Corps, according to documents submitted as part of the service’s 2021 budget proposal.
Both have proven successful in war games and simulations, Berger said Thursday.
“Game-changer is probably an over-the-top characterization, but it definitely changes the calculus of an adversary,” Berger said.
The fiscal year 2021 budget proposal included a request for 48 Tomahawk missiles, likely the maritime variant, which appears to be first for the Corps.
“What we need is long-range precision fires for a small unit, a series of units that can, from ship or from shore, hold an adversary’s naval force at risk. That missile is going to help us do that,” Berger told the SASC.
Berger said the Tomahawk “could be the answer or could be the first step toward a longer-term answer five, six, seven years from now.”
With the collapse last year of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — which banned ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 km and 5,000 km (310 miles and 3,100 miles) — after the US withdrew in response to alleged Russian violations, the Marine Corps has more freedom when it comes to ground-launched missiles.
Asked if the request for Tomahawks was a result of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Berger said he “would assume so” but “hadn’t linked the two together.”
“We just knew we need a long-range precision fires beyond the range that we were restricted to before,” he added.
During the 1980s, the United States had a small squadron of vessels intended to work close to shore. These ships gave good service, and proved to be decent at not just their primary purpose. Yet when the peace dividend came, they got retired, and most were scrapped. One has been saved as a museum.
Meet the Pegasus-class missile-armed patrol hydrofoil. They were 255 tons. They could go up to 48 knots. They had a 76mm Mk 75 gun and eight RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
That was a lot of firepower on a small vessel. With a crew of four officers and 17 enlisted, these were not very manpower-intensive ships.
The Pegasus patrol boats never did have to carry out their primary mission to take out enemy ships. But GlobalSecurity.org notes that these ships did prove very valuable in other missions, including the drug interdiction role.
The “Seventh Edition of Combat Fleets of the World” notes that the ships were very steady weapons platforms for their size. Since they were based out of Key West, Florida, the patrol boats could keep an eye on Cuba.
Original plans to base them in the Med were scrapped, according to the “Thirteenth Edition of The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Navy.”
Think about what these ships could do with 255 tons. Now, let’s look at the Littoral Combat Ship.
What do we get for the 3,500 tons on a Freedom-class LCS? Well, we get roughly the same top speed (47 knots). We get a hangar with two MH-60 helicopters (primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but they have Hellfire missiles, which don’t do jack against anything larger than a Pegasus). We get a 57mm gun (the Mk 110), a Mk 31 RAM launcher … and a few .50-caliber machine guns.