Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America's carriers - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse fighter for more than forty years, and at one point, it looked like a carrier-capable version would do the same for the U.S. Navy.

More than 4,600 F-16s have rolled out off the assembly line since it first took to the sky in 1974, and even amid this era of stealthy supercomputers like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-16 force remains the backbone of America’s air dominance. With some 1,245 of the fighter still in operation under the Air Force’s banner, the F-16’s broad multi-role capabilities and sheer performance make it one of the world’s top fighter jets, despite being old enough to have seen the original “Star Wars” in theaters.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Still pretty spry for a bird in its 40s. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Today, F-16s fly for the United States, Israel, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, and more… but the most surprising place this highly capable 4th generation fighter may have ended up is on the deck of America’s supercarriers. Shortly after the F-16 won the Air Force’s new Air Combat Fighter (ACF) contract in 1975, then-Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger pushed the U.S. Navy to adopt the new fighter as well.

The F-16 had performed well in its pursuit of the Air Force contract, and if the Navy could also find use for the Fighting Falcon, Schlesinger reasoned, the Defense Department could procure the jet in higher numbers and streamline logistics for both branches.

This line of thinking, of course, would eventually lead to the acquisition nightmare that has been the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was also intended to be a single fighter platform that could meet the disparate needs of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as foreign buyers. The F-16, then, could have become a similar boondoggle (or maybe proven the concept sound) if the Vought Model 1600, or carrier-capable F-16, had ever made it into service.

Precursors to the F-16 and F/A-18 squared off more than once

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
A right-side view of a YF-16 (foreground) and a Northrop YF-17, each armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. (U.S. Navy photo by R.L. House)

In order for the YF-16 to find its destiny as the Air Force’s workhorse fighter, it first had to contend with stiff competition in the form of Northrop’s YF-17. The YF-17 was a lightweight prototype fighter first designed to serve as a lower-cost alternative to America’s most dominant air superiority fighter in the modern era, the F-15 Eagle. In the minds of military leaders, the large, powerful, and expensive F-15 brought more power to bear than was really necessary for many combat operations, and as such, a cheaper but still highly capable jet could complement America’s fleet of Eagles by assuming those lower stakes roles.

Ultimately, the YF-16 would outperform the Northrop’s YF-17 in testing oriented specifically toward the Air Force’s needs, but it wouldn’t be the last time these two highly-capable platforms would find themselves competing over a contract. In fact, as the Navy mulled over the idea of converting the F-16 for carrier use, it once again found stiff competition in the form of Northrop’s YF-17.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Neither General Dynamics (the maker of the F-16) nor Northrop (who made the YF-17) had ever built a carrier-fighter before. With a lucrative contract on the line, both firms sought out partners with carrier-aircraft experience. General Dynamics teamed up with Vought to convert their new F-16 Fighting Falcon into the Vought Model 1600, and Northrop paired off with McDonnell Douglas to improve upon their YF-17 design.

The new iterations of both of these fighters had to place a larger emphasis on the Navy’s primary needs at the time: Namely, long-range radar capabilities for intercept missions and multi-role capabilities to support the sort of air-to-ground combat operations America has come to leverage heavily throughout the past few decades.

Making the F-16 into the Vought 1600

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
An artist’s rendering of the Vought 1600, which removed Sidewinder pylons for the folding mechanism in the wings for carrier storage. (U.S. Navy)

It seems counterintuitive today, with the F-16 so expertly filling the role of an attack aircraft as well as a fighter, but the original concept behind the F-16 was to create a no-frills fighter built to do nothing but dominate the skies. Its designers at General Dynamics, internally known as the “Lightweight Fighter Mafia,” sought to keep the “gold-plating” they believed common in new fighter programs away from their new jet. “Gold-plating,” in their minds, including a number of things we now think of as practically standard in a 4th or 5th generation fighter, like fire control radar, electronic countermeasures for flying in highly contested airspace, radar-guided missiles, and–perhaps most importantly–ground attack capabilities.

By the time the F-16A began to emerge, it would have some of that gold-plating the “Lightweight Fighter Mafia” so disdained, like an AN/APG-66 radar and some intrinsic ground-attack capabilities. It still lacked radar-guided air-to-air weapons, forgoing them in favor of the heat-seeking Sidewinder missile. These additions made the F-16 a better candidate for the Navy’s needs than it would have been as originally imagined, but it still didn’t quite fit the bill.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
(Vought Aircraft)

In order to meet the needs of the Navy, the Vought 1600 was larger than the F-16A, stretching some three feet longer, with a 33-foot 3-inch wingspan that was a full two feet broader than the Air Force’s version of the fighter. The breadth of the wings grew, covering a total of 269 feet and giving the aircraft better stability at lower speeds. The fuselage was flattened a bit and made broader, and its canopy was designed to pivot forward, which was different from the F-16, but can now be found on the F-35.

In order to withstand carrier landings, heavier duty landing gear had to be affixed to the Vought 1600’s belly, alongside the standard carrier equipment like a landing hook. The fuselage itself was made stronger and in order to offer the engagement range the Navy needed, a pulse-doppler radar for beyond visual range targeting was also added.

All told, the structural changes needed to make the F-16 into the Vought 1600 added more than 3,000 pounds to the aircraft. Further changes were made to the fuselage and wings as subsequent iterations of the Vought 1600 came to fruition. The V-1602, for instance, had even more wing area at 399 square feet, and was given a heavier GE F101 engine.

For the YF-17, the second time was a charm

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Despite the changes made to the F-16 to meet the Navy’s needs, the combined General Dynamics/Vought effort would ultimately lose out to Northrop and McDonnell Douglas’ YF-17, which would later come to be known as the F/A-18 Hornet, and its own successor, the Block II Super Hornet.

The YF-17 may not have cut it for the Air Force, but the Navy saw promise in a scaled-up version of the fighter, thanks to its superior range, and likely, safety.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Size comparison of the YF-17, F/A-18A and F/A-18F (WikiMedia Commons)

The Vought 1600’s low-lying intake located just above the nose-wheel was considered a real risk on the flight deck of a Navy carrier, as it could literally suck unsuspecting sailors straight into it. This wasn’t the first time Vought faced this sort of criticism, as the pilot-favorite Vought F-8 Crusader’s large, low intake had already earned it the nickname “the Gator,” because of its tenacity for gobbling up sailors.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
The F-8’s low-slung intake scoop earned it the nickname, “The Gator,” thanks its propensity for swallowing up Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo)

Importantly, the F-16’s lightweight design and lack of radar-specific weapons made it poorly suited for all-weather operations like intercepting fighters or bombers en route to a carrier strike group.

“I pointed out that the F-16 carried only AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and they were clear-air-mass missiles. In clouds, a radar missile like the AIM-7 Sparrow III was required,” former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James L. Holloway explains in his book, “Aircraft Carriers at War: A Personal Retrospective of Korea, Vietnam, and the Soviet Confrontation.

“This capability, with the necessary radar guidance system and heavier pylons, had been incorporated into the F-18 design, but the F-16 would not accommodate an all-weather missile system without extensive redesign and added weight.”

However, according to Holloway’s book, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger was still dead set on pushing the Vought 1600 onto the Navy. In order to settle the debate once and for all, Schlesinger invited Admiral Holloway to his office to discuss the Navy’s next fighter. Despite Schlesinger telling Holloway that his office was too small to bring more than two of his subordinates to the discussion, Holloway walked into the Secretary of Defense’s office to find more than a dozen people waiting for him. Schlesinger ambushed the admiral, keen to use his superior numbers to push the Vought 1600 onto the Navy.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Holloway stood firm, however, highlighting the concern of his engineers that the Vought 1600 was apt to bang its engine on the flight deck during carrier landings, which could cause damage to both the deck and the aircraft. When the men gathered in Schlesinger’s office argued that problems like that could be mitigated with better pilot technique, Holloway grew frustrated. Clearly, anyone peaching about improved pilot technique to offset a fighter’s design shortcomings had never attempted to land on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier that was barely visible against a seemingly endless backdrop of stormy seas during nighttime operations.

The YF-17 also offered a second engine, which could mean the difference between getting a jet back to its carrier or having to dump it in the sea if anything went wrong with one of them.

The Vought 1600 misses the boat

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Ultimately, it may have been the intended weapons for each platform that became the deciding factor. Because the F-16’s design wouldn’t accommodate an all-weather missile system without extensive modifications, the Vought 1600 may have been able to manage carrier operations, but still wouldn’t meet the exacting needs of the branch.

Of course, the F-16 would eventually gain the very capabilities it lacked at the time, both in the form of Sparrow missiles and eventually AMRAAMs. Had similar capabilities been a part of the Vought 1600’s pitch, we may not have seen the nearly four decades’ worth of service out of the Hornet and Super Hornet family that we have. Instead, the Navy would have been flying F-16s alongside F-14 Tomcats off of their flattops, and the Super Hornet would be another what-if fighter in the annals of military history.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz)

Of course, the Vought 1600 wasn’t the only legendary American fighter that very nearly found its way into Uncle Sam’s carrier fleet. At one point, a significantly upgraded iteration of the F-117 Nighthawk nearly found its way into Naval service. And just a few years later, a similar effort almost placed F-22 Raptors on the Navy’s flight decks.

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

Articles

6 nice perks of joining Special Forces while in the US Army

Everyone knows special operators are an elite warfighting team. Not to take anything away from conventional forces, we’re just saying that everyone has their place and special operations is a hard job. 

Sometimes sending 10,000 warfighters into a country with all their support units just isn’t feasible. They get the job done, sure, but when you’re conducting heart surgery, you want a doctor with a scalpel, not an axe. Also, a mission calling for a small force would require each member of the unit to have multiple specialties, so the Special Forces (SF) side of the Army gets a lot more training than the rest of big Army. 

When the United States has that much invested in you, you get a little bit more leeway when it comes to daily Army life, as former Green Beret Mark Giaconia noted on Quora in June of 2021. He admits he can only speak for the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, but you have to admit the everyday perks are pretty good.

1. No Formations

Special Forces soldiers don’t really have the same work or life schedules as the rest of the U.S. Army. They also likely have a whole host of pretty important things to do — some of them secret, others ordinary. 

This means they don’t have time for all the formations most military units often have. Some Army units have as many as three formations a day. Giaconia says his SF unit had one formation a day at most, and usually when something important needed to be discussed.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
A formation this big, odds are someone is going to lock their knees and pass out (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

2. No Inspections

Ever see Special Forces guys out in the field or catch a photo of one of them at work? They don’t look like soldiers in the United States Army most of the time, and that’s a really important point. They aren’t necessarily supposed to look like soldiers while they’re deployed, so grooming standards are usually much more relaxed.

If this is the case, then it doesn’t really make much sense to have a uniform inspection. The same goes for their nonstandard equipment (which we’ll delve into later). 

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Special Forces have leveled up past this nonsense ( (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)

3. Better Training and Pay

Green Berets get a number of stipends, Giaconia writes. On top of those special stipends, they also get extra pay for any number of special trainings they received. This includes jump pay, HALO (high altitude, low opening) pay, scuba certification and literally anything else you can get trained to do and receive specialty pay for. These guys see it all and they get paid for knowing how to handle it. 

On top of the pay, they also receive better per diem rates, as they mostly live off the local economy while deployed. 

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Being this awesome is going to cost Uncle Sam a little more (U.S. Army)

4. Better Gear

What is probably best known about how Army Special Forces operates is that they have a lot of leeway in choosing what equipment and which weapons work best for any given mission. In his own experience, Giaconia says he had a different kit setup for carrying a SAW than when carrying an M4 or M21.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
And then… like teenagers watching their favorite pop star, gear-dos will copy your setup… to go quail hunting (U.S. Army)

5. Flying Commercial Air

Depending on the mission and which Special Forces Group they’re in, America’s Green Berets don’t always have to rely on military aircraft to hitch a ride to where they’re going. In some cases, a military aircraft won’t even be an option, as they may not want anyone to know they’re with the U.S. military anyway.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Though, if we’re comparing to Spirit Airlines, we might prefer the C-130 ride (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Patrick Dixon)

6. Drinking Is Part Of The Job

Special Forces are often exempt from the U.S. military’s no alcohol rules, where they’re applied, especially while working with foreign units whose culture centers around drinking. Giaconia says while in Bosnia and Kosovo, he and his fellow Green Berets were attached to a Russian liaison, and needed to drink vodka with them.

Giaconia says this is called “building rapport.”

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
“C’mon… you don’t want all the cool countries to think you’re a nerd, DO YOU?” (Image by lannyboy89 from Pixabay)

Feature image: U.S. Army

Articles

That time an American cruise missile hit the wrong continent

Today, we see cruise missiles as very accurate. This was not always the case. In fact, one cruise missile has the distinction of hitting the wrong continent – and it was quite a miss.


Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
SM-62 Snark in flight. (USAF photo)

The missile in question was the SM-62 Snark. It was intended to help deter Soviet aggression. According to Designation-Systems.net, with a maximum range of 6,000 miles and a top speed of 550 knots, it had a W39 nuclear warhead with a 4 megaton yield – 20 times as powerful as the W80 used on the Tomahawk cruise missile and the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile.

It flew at 50,000 feet – which at the time made it hard to intercept with enemy anti-aircraft missiles.

The Snark needed the big warhead. The closest it came to hitting its target was within about eight miles. That is a very far cry from the 260 feet that Designation-Systems.net cited the early models of the Tomahawk cruise missile achieving.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
SM-62 Snark missile on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

But Air Force magazine described the miss to end all misses. On Dec. 5, 1956, a Snark was launched with a flight plan to cruise to Puerto Rico and return to its base in Florida. Only, it stopped responding to signals.

Even a self-destruct command didn’t work. The Air Force scrambled fighters to shoot down the wayward missile, but they couldn’t pull off the intercept – proving that the design got that part right.

Ultimately, the missile went beyond tracking range – last seen headed towards Brazil. The missile would remain missing for 26 years until some wreckage was found in that South American country.

According to a Reuters report in the Regina Leader-Post, unidentified Brazilians found the parts and reported them.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
SM-62 Snark launching from Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. (USAF photo)

Designation-Systems.net reported that the Snark would achieve a brief period of fully operational service from February to June 1961 (an initial operating capability was established in 1959). But then-President John F. Kennedy ordered the one active wing to stand down, largely due to the development of inter-continental ballistic missiles.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Aston Martin teamed up with Airbus to create luxurious helicopter

Aston Martin and Airbus have teamed up to create a specially designed ACH130 helicopter.

The new ACH130 represents the first helicopter Aston Martin has ever created, according to the automaker.

“[The ACH130 marries] ACH’s key values of excellence, quality and service with Aston Martin’s commitment to beauty, handcrafting and automotive art to bring a new level of aesthetics and rigorous attention to detail to the helicopter market,” Airbus wrote in a statement.


This isn’t the first time Aston Martin has dabbled in designing mobility options besides cars: it unveiled its first motorcycle, the AMB 001 in 2019, and a bicycle — made in partnership with bicycle manufacturer Storck — in 2017.

“This first application of our design practices to a helicopter posed a number of interesting challenges but we have enjoyed working through them,” Aston Martin’s VP and CCO Marek Reichman said in a statement.

Keep scrolling to see the automaker’s first helicopter:

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

The special edition helicopter has four different interior and exterior bespoke designs created by the automaker.

The four options listed below can all be customised, according to the automaker:

  • Stirling Green exterior with a Oxford Tan Leather and Pure Black Ultra-suede interior
  • Xenon Grey exterior with a Pure Black Leather and Pure Black Ultra-suede interior
  • Arizona Bronze exterior with a Comorant Leather and Pure Black Ultra-suede interior
  • Ultramarine Black exterior with a Ivory Leather and Pure Black Ultra-suede interior
Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Aston Martin and Airbus)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Kimber moves its headquarters to Troy, Alabama

Kimber has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of high quality small arms, especially their 1911 pistols. Based on the original design of John Moses Browning from over a century ago, the 1911 platform is famed for its crisp single-action trigger, .45 ACP stopping power, and being the winner of two world wars as well as the U.S. military’s longest serving sidearm. Today, Kimber makes pistols that have been used by the USA Shooting Team, LAPD SWAT, MARSOC, and John Wick.

Keanu Reeves with a Kimber Warrior. Kimber headquarters has moved to Troy, Alabama.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) with a Kimber Warrior 1911 (Lionsgate)

Originally founded in 1979 in Clackamas, Oregon by Australian immigrant Jack Warne and his son, Greg, Kimber of Oregon started as a manufacturer of precision .22lr rifles. The late 1980s and early 1990s were tough on Kimber and Jack left to found the Warne Manufacturing Company. Greg revived Kimber with the financial backing of Les Edelman, owner of Nationwide Sports Distributors. Though the younger Warne was eventually forced out of the company, Edelman saw great opportunity in pairing Kimber’s reputation for quality and extensive network of dealers with his newly acquired Yonkers-based company, Jerico Precision Manufacturing.

Jerico was undergoing a drop in production due to cuts in defense spending, but still maintained a sizable industrial capability. Edelman moved Kimber’s production to Jerico’s facilities in New York, thus ending the Kimber presence in Oregon. It was at this time that Kimber began manufacturing the high quality 1911 handguns that the company is known for today.

LAPD SWAT carrying Kimber Custom II 1911s. Kimber Headquarters moved to Troy, Alabama.
LAPD SWAT is famed for carrying Kimber Custom II 1911s (LAPD)

Though its professional connection to tier one units like LAPD SWAT and MARSOC led to great commercial success and expansion of operations to New Jersey, Kimber faced political opposition from both states.

In early 2018, Kimber announced that it would move its manufacturing operations to Troy, Alabama with a new design engineering and manufacturing facility beginning operations in early 2019. “We are pleased with the impressive track record that Alabama has with attracting and retaining world-class manufacturing companies,” Edelman said.

Less than three years after announcing the move of its design and production facilities, the company announced that it would also move the Kimber headquarters to Troy. The company says that it will have 366 employees in Troy with a $38 million investment. “The final step in completing this new facility is adding staff across all departments,” the company announced in a press release. “Kimber’s new headquarters is situated on 80+ acres with more than 225,000 square-feet of space and is now home to industry-leading design engineering, product management and manufacturing capabilities.”

Kimber is not the only company to move its business to the area. In 2019, Lockheed Martin broke ground on a new missile facility at its Pike County campus, also in Troy. Less than three hours to the southwest, Airbus opened its A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama in May 2020.

READ MORE: Targets to take your firearms training to the next level

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s the latest on the Army’s ‘Iron Man’ exoskeleton project

The Army is testing and prototyping self-generating “Ironman-like” soldier exoskeletons, designed to massively change combat missions by supporting soldier movement, generating electricity, powering weapons systems, and substantially lowering the weight burden of what troops carry in war.

Energy-harvesting technology can extend mission life for small units or dismounted soldiers on-patrol. The emerging concept, described by Army developers as a technical breakthrough is engineered, not so much for the near-term, but 10 to 20 years down the road.


“The design is for an energy-harvesting exoskeleton to address the needs of dismounted soldiers. The system can derive energy from the motion of the soldier as they are moving around,” Dr. Nathan Sharps, mechanical engineer, Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The implications of this kind of technology are significant. While exoskeletons have been in development for several years now, the technology consistently confronts the challenge of finding ways to sustain mobile power sources to support and sustain its functionality.

Furthermore, current use of batteries brings significant combat challenges due to difficulty recharging and the massive amount of weight involved in hauling them through combat.

For instance, should a soldier carry a portable 35-pound generator, water, ammunition, weapons, and communications equipment, mission duration and soldier effectiveness is greatly impacted. The Army has been pursuing various efforts to “lighten the load” for soldiers for many years now.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun, 108th Public Affairs Detachment)

“The technologies we are developing can produce electricity, which can be stored and used to power batteries. This increases the longevity of a mission, decreases the need for resupply and reduces the logistics trail,” Sharps explained.

Sharps further elaborated that during intense combat engagement, casualties often occur during logistics resupply missions.

An added advantage is that, while the technology harvests energy from the motion of soldiers, it also simultaneously eases the strain on their joints and muscles due to its apparatus.

“This decreases the chance of muscular-skeletal injury. We look at the soldier as an individual ecosystem. We’re not just looking at what they cannot do right now, but also at what challenges they are going to face 20 years from now,” Sharps said.

The emerging system, currently in the early phases of exploration, calls upon a collaborative effort between CERDEC, the Army Research Laboratory and the Army’s Natick Soldier Center.

The scientists explain that added electrical energy decreases the number of calories a soldier has to burn.

“When you move, you bounce up and down, and the gait motion is an inverted pendulum. If you lift every step thousands of times, it is a whole lot of energy you are expending,” said Juliane Douglas, mechanical engineer, CERDEC, told Warrior Maven.

The Army is currently exploring various configurations for the exoskeleton, some of which include a suspended backpack, which can slide up and down on a spring, having little or no weight impact on the soldier.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

“In mechanical engineering terms, if you have masses moving together, there is a kinetic energy difference between the two. We have mechanisms which can convert that linear motion into electricity,” explained Douglas.

This technical advantage will impact a wide array of emerging systems now being built into exoskeletons. Not surprisingly, many of these rely upon mobile power to operate.

For example, helmets with high-resolution thermal sensors, wearable computers, various kinds of conformal body armor and even many weapons systems are now being built into a range of Ironman-like exoskeletons.

U.S. Special Operations Command’s current TALOS effort is working with a wide sphere of industry, military and academic experts on plans to build initial exoskeleton prototypes within the next year or two. This longer-term CERDEC effort is the kind of thing which could easily merge with, or integrate into, some of these exoskeletons now being built.

The project, formally called Tactical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is aimed at providing special operators, such as Navy SEALs and Special Forces, with enhanced mobility and protection technologies, a Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, statement said.

The technologies currently being developed include body suit-type exoskeletons, strength and power-increasing systems and additional protection. A SOCOM statement said some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, command and control computers, power generators, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons.

Also, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a next-generation kind of armor called “liquid body armor.”

It “transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied,” the Army’s website said.

TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels, an Army statement also said.

Army evaluators have also been assessing a Lockheed-built FORTIS knee-stress-release-device exoskeleton with soldiers at Fort A.P. Hill as part of a focus on fielding new performance enhancing soldier technologies.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
FORTIS knee-stress-release-device exoskeleton

Using independent actuators, motors and lightweight conformal structures, lithium ion battery powered FORTIS allows soldiers to carry 180 pounds up five flights of stairs while expending less energy.

FORTIS is built with a conformal upper structure that works on a belt attached to the waist. The belt connects with flexible hip sensors throughout the systems. These sensors tell the computer where the soldier is in space along with the speed and velocity of the movements.

CERDEC developers say their effort is observing and working closely with many of these efforts looking to find exoskeleton technologies able to better protect and enable soldiers in combat.

“What we are doing is designing the conversion technologies to make many of these technologies more effective by storing the energy. We are testing prototypes, and we are able to leverage current exoskeleton work and use it as a platform for our systems,” Douglas said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia announces a new plane that might already be obsolete

The CEO of the Russian MiG corporation said on Aug. 17, 2018, that work on an experimental design for a MiG-41 fifth-generation interceptor will begin “in the immediate future.”

“No, this is not a mythical project, this is a long-standing project for the MiG and now we are carrying out intensive work under the aegis of the [the United Aircraft Corporation] and will present it to the public soon,” Ilya Tarasenko said, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet.


The MiG-41, or Prospective Aviation Complex of Long-Range Interception, would be the successor to the speedy fourth-generation MiG-31 interceptor, which was known to have chased away SR-71 Blackbirds.

Tarasenko, who previously claimed that the MiG-41 would be able to “operate in space,” a highly unlikely prospect, also said that the MiG-41s are expected to start being delivered to the Russia military in the mid-2020s.

But Vasily Kashin, a Russian defense analyst at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, told The National Interest in 2017 that he thought the MiG-41 wouldn’t fly until the mid-2020s, and wouldn’t be delivered to the Russian Air Force until 2035-2040.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

An SR-71B “Blackbird” over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994.

“I don’t hold out much hope for an even less proven design concept to make it into series production anytime soon,” Justin Bronk, a combat-aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider in an email.

“The Mig-31BM is already a highly capable interceptor platform and there are plans for a second modernisation upgrade of what is a relatively new aircraft for a very specific Russian territorial defence requirement,” Bronk said.

And given that the T-14 Armata tank and Su-57 stealth fighter “have had series production cancelled recently,” Bronk said, “my take is, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ and will remain extremely skeptical until that point.”

But “never say never I suppose,” Bronk added.

Richard L. Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group, told Business Insider that Tarasenko’s announcement “keeps the idea alive, and you never know, even a chance in a 100 is better than no chance at all.”

“It also, of course, doesn’t hurt in sales campaigns for current generation planes, like the [MiG-29SM],” Aboulafia said. “In other words, people don’t like buying fighter planes from a company with no future.”

Aboulafia also said that the idea of creating a pure next-generation interceptor is like “living in the past” since surface-to-air missiles “are generally a better way of intercepting things.”

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

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The world’s longest flight is moving one step closer to reality

Australian airline Qantas is taking the next steps towards its goal of having nonstop 19-hour flights between Sydney and London and New York.

The airline has openly discussed the endevour — internally known as “Project Sunrise” — for several years, following the successful launch of a slightly shorter, but still lengthy, nonstop flight between Perth and London in March 2018.

That route is measured as about 9,000 miles and takes around 17 hours, while the Sydney-New York route would be around 10,000 miles, and the Sydney-London flight is about 500 miles longer.


Qantas is scheduled to receive three new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft this fall — one each in October, November, and December 2019. The planes are being built at Boeing’s Seattle plant, and would normally be flown by Qantas pilots straight to Australia from there.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Photo by Suhyeon Choi)

Instead, the airline plans to fly the planes to New York and London first, and then fly nonstop to Sydney from there.

The planes won’t have paying customers — instead, they’ll each have about 40 people on board — including crew — most of whom will be Qantas employees. the airline says it plans to study how those on board react to the lengthy 19-hour flights.

According to the airline, “[s]cientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement, and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.”

Commercial flights with full or mostly-full passenger loads are not currently possible due to the range of the airplanes available today. Keeping the planes mostly empty will increase their range, making the test flights possible. A normal Qantas 787-9 can seat up to 236 passengers, plus crew, and carry both luggage and cargo, while still achieving a range of about 9,000 miles — the length of the Perth-London flight.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

(Photo by John Kappa)

The airline is considering new ultra-long-range aircraft from Boeing and Airbus for the eventual New York and London to Sydney flights — Airbus’ rumored A350-1000ULR airplane, and Boeing 777X project, both of which are still being tested. Qantas has previously said it would make a decision around the end of 2019.

The world’s current longest flight— from Singapore to New York’s Newark Airport — is operated by a Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR configured with only business class and premium economy seats— no regular economy cabin.

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

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5 best weapons from this famous calculator manufacturer

Texas Instruments is probably best known for making those graphing calculators that every student complains about using and every parent complains about buying. But, before Texas Instruments was making TI-83s and TI-89s, they made other stuff, like missiles and bombs, before selling their defense operations to Raytheon in 1997 for $2.95 billion.

Here are 5 of their masterpieces that, typically, aren’t issued to high schoolers:


Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Scott Henshaw, a 35th Maintenance Squadron load crew member, ensures all parts are correctly in place on the AGM-88 high speed anti-radiation missile at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 19, 2017.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile

The High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile is a pretty brilliant weapon for taking out enemy air defenses. Defenders on the ground typically run mobile radar dishes to find and target enemy planes. Planes carrying this type of missile search for such radar signals and then fire the HARM, which rides the radar signals back to their source — which is, you know, the radar dish.

There are multiple warhead options, but the big two have 25,000 pre-formed steel fragments that are propelled out by the explosive, sending fragments through the radar and antenna.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Airmen prepare a 2,000-pound Paveway-III laser-guided bomb for the Combat Ammunition Production Exercise in July 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Paveway Guided Bomb

The Paveway laser-guided bomb is sort of like the JDAM in that it’s really a kit that’s added to old, dumb bombs to convert them to guided, smart bombs. In the case of the Paveway, the missiles are guided by laser designaters, wielded by ground troops or pilots.

The Paveway can be fitted to bombs packed with up to a couple thousand pounds of explosives and can be carried by anything from fighter jets and bombers to the MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

An F-35 with the Pax River Integrated Test Force conducts a test with a a Joint Stand-Off Weapon in 2016.

(U.S. Navy photo by Dane Wiedmann)

Joint Stand-Off Weapon

The Joint Stand-Off Weapon is a glide bomb that can fly as far as 63 nautical miles from the point at which it’s dropped, allowing Navy and Air Force ground attack and bomber planes to target anti-aircraft weapons or other enemy structures and emplacements from far outside of the enemy’s range.

The 1,065-pound weapon carries up to a 500-pound warhead but can also carry smaller bomblets and submunitions for dispersal over a wide area.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

A Marine with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, fires an FGM-148 Javelin Missile during Exercise Northern Strike at Camp Grayling, Mich., Aug. 14, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Niles Lee)

Javelin

The Javelin missile is one of the premiere anti-armor missiles with guidance so good that it has a limited anti-aircraft capability and a warhead so powerful that it can kill most any tank in the field today, usually by flying up high and then going straight down through the tank’s turret. It can also be used against bunkers and other fortifications.

When fired against a tank’s hull, its two-charge warhead first initiates any explosive reactive armor, and the second charge penetrates the hull, killing the crew and potentially detonating stored explosives or fuel.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Texas Instruments pioneered the forward-looking, infrared camera used on everything from fighters and bombers to helicopters to ground vehicles to rifles. Here, the FLIR on a MH-60S helicopter is used to keep track of a rescue off Guam in 2017.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Chris Kimbrough)

FLIR for tanks, fighting vehicles, the F-117, and F-18

Forward-Looking Infrared is exactly what it sounds like, sensors that allow jet, tank, and vehicle crews to see what’s ahead of them in infrared. Infrared, radiation with a wavelength just greater than the color red on the visible light spectrum that’s invisible to the naked eye, is put off by nearly any heat source. Sources of infrared include human bodies, vehicle engines, and all sorts of other targets.

So, tanks and jets can use these systems to find and target enemies at night, whether they just want to observe or think it’s time to drop bombs or fire rounds.

Articles

The US military may soon get an R2-D2 of its own to help fix combat equipment

With the advent of “net-centric” warfare — highly-integrated and extremely complex next-generation aircraft, warships, and even infantry soldier systems — the US military has invested a good deal of effort into finding something that eases the workload and burden on troops tasked with maintaining these processes and systems, and fixes issues as they appear.


SparkCognition, a startup in Texas with a rapidly growing funding base and ties with big-name defense contractors like Boeing, aims to put a speedy end to this search with the development of an artificial intelligence “fixer” with a broad range of functions, from diagnosing complex issues with military hardware to preventing ships from colliding at sea.

Much like everybody’s favorite Star Wars robot mechanic, R2D2, this new AI system will be able to function on its own, learning the mechanical ins and outs of warships, fighter jets and everything in-between. When something goes wrong — a glitch, a software failure, or a hardware malfunction — the AI can pinpoint the exact problem, then direct maintainers and technicians on solving the issue at hand.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
R2D2 fixing a spaceship in Star Wars Episode I (Photo Star Wars via YouTube screengrab)

Pilots, don’t get your hopes up just yet… the AI probably won’t look anything like the beeping white and blue barrel on wheels from Star Wars, nor will it come with a cattle prod that can somehow do anything from fixing a busted spaceship to picking the lock on a door. And it definitely won’t slot into a compartment behind the cockpit of your aircraft to keep you company on extended sorties.

Instead, it’ll likely be a series of servers and computers that stream information from sensors planted at critical locations around vehicles and other machines, keeping a watchful eye out for any red alerts or potential causes for concern, and reporting it back to a centralized system overseen by a maintenance team.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
A group of USAF F-35As in formation near Hill AFB, Utah (Photo US Air Force)

The US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will soon begin fully fielding a far-less involved diagnostics system for the F-35 Lightning II stealth strike fighter known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System. ALIS, for short, is designed to give ground crews and support personnel a wide range of metrics and data on the functionality of the F-35.

If new parts are needed, or something is damaged, inoperable, etc., ALIS lets support crew know quickly and efficiently in order to keep the F-35 out of the hangars and in the skies.

SparkCognition hopes that they can also put their AI to sea with the Navy’s surface warfare fleet, especially aboard Littoral Combat Ships which have been experiencing a plethora of engineering troubles over the past few years. By observing and storing information on LCS powerplants, the AI would be able to accurately predict the failure of an engine component before it even happens, allowing for preventative maintenance to keep the ships combat-ready and deployable.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) pulls away from harbor in Singapore in 2016 (Photo US Navy)

Self-diagnosing and healing systems have already been predicted as an integral part of the future of military aviation, especially as the Air Force and Navy both look towards designing and developing a 6th generation fighter to begin replacing its current air superiority fleet some 15 to 20 years down the road.

By fielding AI systems and hardware which allow an aircraft to fix itself or re-optimize its configuration while in-flight after sustaining damage, fighters and other types with the technology built-in can remain on mission longer, or can promise a safe return of the pilots and other aircrew in the event that the aircraft needs to return to base. While we’re a ways off from these ultra-advanced systems, however, SparkCognition’s AI is still fairly achievable within the next five to seven years.

Let’s just hope that, should the DoD decide to pick up SparkCognition’s AI, it stays more like R2D2 and doesn’t turn into something along the lines of Skynet from the Terminator movies.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This crazy-looking cargo plane was a 1960s Osprey

When you look at the V-22 Osprey, you see an amazing aircraft. The tiltrotor has been a true game-changer for the United States, particularly the Marine Corps, which uses it to carry out missions that are impossible to accomplish with normal helicopters. But there was another plane that could have done some of what the Osprey does today — five decades ago.


That plane was the XC-142, a result of collaboration between Ling-Temco-Vought (a successor of the company that made the F4U Corsair) and Ryan-Hiller. This plane wasn’t a tiltrotor like the V-22 Osprey, but instead tilted its wings to achieve vertical take-off and landing capability. Both the Air Force and the Navy were interested in the plane.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

Imagine a plane like this landing on a carrier or amphibious assault ship — and bringing 32 grunts into battle. The XC-142 was a 1960s-tech version of the V-22 Osprey.

(US Navy)

The XC-142 had a top speed of 432 miles per hour, a maximum range of 3,790 miles, and could carry 32 grunts, four tons of cargo, or 24 litter patients. By comparison, the V-22 Osprey has a top speed of 316 miles per hour, a maximum un-refueled range of 1,011 miles, and can carry 24 grunts or 20,000 pounds of cargo.

Like the V-22, the XC-142 had a rough time during testing. One prototype crashed, killing the plane’s three-man crew. The plane also had a history of “hard landings” (a bureaucratic way of saying “minor crashes”) during early phases. Pilots also had trouble controlling the plane at times, which is not good when you have almost three dozen grunts inside.

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

The MV-22 Osprey made it to the fleet, but in some ways, it has worse performance than the 1960s-era XC-142.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser)

Ultimately, the Navy backed out of the XC-142 project. The Air Force made plans for a production version, but they never got the go-ahead to buy it. The XC-142 went to NASA for testing and, ultimately, only one prototype survived to be placed in the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

See this plane in action in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqk4-xj-ytI

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The female Viper pilot with bigger balls than you is blazing trails

Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik is the new commander of the F-16 of the Viper Demo Team (VDT).

On Jan. 29, 2019, Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander ahead of the 2019 season, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The final certification by the ACC Commander follows extensive training including four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions.


With over 1,000 flying hours in her eight years of military service “SiS”, originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is the Air Force’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot.

She will lead the team in about 20 locations across the world during the upcoming airshow season.

“What I’m looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations,” said Kotnik in a public release. “I know firsthand how impactful airshows can be and what a difference it makes to young people to see just one example of what they too can do and who they can become. I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

The F-16 VDT performs an aerobatic display whose aim is to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, better known as “Viper” in the pilot community.

“These shows allow us to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 to a world-wide audience while highlighting the work of the airmen who keep the Viper flying,” said Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent. “It’s not every day people get the chance to hear the sound of freedom roaring over their heads or watch a team of maintainers working together to make it happen.”

If you are interested in learning a bit more about her, here’s an interview “Sis” gave to LiveAirshowTV in fall 2018:

Meet Capt. Zoe “Sis” Kotnik – F-16 Viper Demo Team Pilot-Commander

www.youtube.com

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps Selects Trijicon VCOG as Squad Common Optic

Marine Corps Systems Command just announced a contract award in its Squad Common Optic program to Trijicon. The Corps chose to outfit its Fleet Marine Force, basically all of its line units, with Trijicon’s VCOG 1-8x variable magnification optic.


According to Matt Gonzales at MARCORSYSCOM’s Office of Public Affairs:

Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers
Six months after seeking industry proposals, Marine Corps Systems Command awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract to Trijicon, Inc., of Wixom, Michigan, Feb. 21 to produce Squad Common Optic systems.
The contract has a maximum ceiling of million, and Trijicon is slated to produce approximately 19,000 units. The purchase also includes spare parts, training, nonfunctional units, interim contractor logistics support and refurbishment of test articles.
Fielding to Fleet Marine Forces will begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 and will be completed by fiscal year 2023.
Vought 1600: The plan to put the F-16 on America’s carriers

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

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