The Antonov An-225 Mriya (“Dream” in Ukrainian language) is the world’s largest airplane. Designed at the end of Cold War, its main purpose was to carry the Soviet “Buran” space shuttle and parts of the “Energia” rocket. Currently, the sole existing example (UR-82060) is used commercially, as an international cargo transporter.
Mriya is not the largest aircraft ever built: this title belongs to the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose hydroplane, that made only a single flight.
The An-225 is performing a series of flights to deliver boilers for thermal power plant of Bolivia from Iquique, Chile, to Chimore, Bolivia. In each flight Mriya carries the cargo weighing up to 160 tons. This video shows a take off from Chimore.
Oreo will release “Game of Thrones”-inspired cookies just in time for the series’ final season.
The limited-edition “Game of Thrones” Oreos, which taste like the original cookie, come emblazoned with one of four different decals inspired by the show. Three of the cookies feature the family sigils of the major houses vying for the Iron Throne, while the fourth cookie comes carved with a profile of the Night King.
The House Stark direwolf sigil is embossed on one version of the cookie.
House Stark Oreo.
The Mother of Dragons is represented with a House Targaryen-inspired cookie featuring the iconic three-headed dragon sigil.
House Targaryen Oreo.
Meanwhile, the famous “golden lion” of House Lannister makes an appearance on another version of the “Game of Thrones” Oreo cookies.
House Lannister Oreo.
Finally, the Night King represents the White Walker army with a cookie of his own.
The Night King Oreo.
Oreo is celebrating the collaboration by recreating the show’s title sequence with an animated landscape built entirely out of 2,750 Oreo cookies. Check out the video below:
Fans of the show can visit Oreo’s website or post on Facebook and Twitter using #GameofCookies or #FortheThrone to pledge their loyalty to any of the houses or the White Walker opposition. Oreo will then surprise some lucky participants with a special treat; the company has not yet disclosed what the treat will be.
The new “Game of Thrones” Oreos will hit shelves nationwide starting April 8, 2019, giving fans of the series plenty of time to stock up on the limited-edition snack prior to the hit show’s season eight debut on HBO April 14, 2019.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
China is working hard to bring new stealth fighters and bombers online, and the US is preparing to push back with its F-35 stealth fighter, a US general commanding US air assets in the Pacific region told Bloomberg.
The Chinese military, according to US intelligence, is developing new medium- and long-range stealth bombers to provide penetrating strike capabilities. China’s new J-20 stealth fighter could be operational this year, and the country is also considering turning its J-31 stealth fighter into a stealthy carrier-based aircraft for the Chinese navy’s future carriers.
China’s air force is the largest in the region and the third largest in the world with 2,500 aircraft and 1,700 fighters, bombers, and attack aircraft. China is one of only three nations to develop a fifth-generation fighter, and if it successfully fields a nuclear-capable stealth bomber, it will be one of only three countries with a complete nuclear triad.
Gen. Charles Brown told Bloomberg this week that rising F-35 deployments will be needed to counter these developments. Talking about his observations of the way the Chinese operate, the commander of US Pacific Air Forces said, “They’ll continue to push the envelope to figure out does anybody say or do anything.”
“If you don’t push back it’ll keep coming,” he added, noting that the J-20 represents a “greater threat” in the Pacific.
The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) transits the waters of the South China Sea.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)
Brown recently told Japanese reporters he expects the US and its allies in the Pacific to have as many as 200 F-35s operating in the region by 2025.
A US Marine Corps F-35B squadron deployed to Japan at the start of 2017, and later that same year, a dozen US Air Force F-35As deployed to the Pacific for a six-month rotation.
The US military has also been experimenting with the “Lighting Carrier” concept, turning flattop Navy amphibious assault ships into light aircraft carriers outfitted with stealth fighter jets, and the US Navy is moving closer to fielding aircraft carriers armed with F-35Cs.
US allies Japan, South Korea, and Australia are all part of the F-35 program.
Chinese analysts, according to Chinese media, have argued the Chinese J-20 fighter will have “overwhelming superiority” over the F-35, giving it the ability to take on the so-called “US F-35 friends circle.”
While China’s new fighter has some advantages, range in particular, it is generally considered to be less capable than its fifth-generation counterparts in the US military.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The Russian maker of the AK-47 unveiled a new rifle on Aug. 20, 2018, called the AK-308, which it is expected to demonstrate at the Army-2018 Forum on Aug. 21, 2018.
“The weapon is based on the AK103 submachine gun for the cartridge 7.62×51 mm with elements and components of the AK-12 automatic machine,” Kalashnikov Concern said in a press statement on Aug. 20, 2018.
“At the moment, preparations are under way for preliminary testing of weapons,” Kalashnikov added.
The AK-308 weighs about 9 1/2 pounds with an empty 20-round magazine, Kalashnikov said. The gun also has a dioptric sight and foldable stock.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the Russian military will field the new AK-308, but it certainly seems like a possibility.
The AK-74M fires a 5.45×39 mm round, has a 30-round magazine, and weighs about 8.6 pounds when fully loaded.
On the other hand, the AK-12 shoots a 5.45×39 mm caliber round, and the AK-15 shoots a 7.62×39 mm round, according to Kalashnikov. Each of those two weapons with an empty 30-round magazine weigh about 7.7 pounds.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Large parts of western Uzbekistan and northern Turkmenistan are recovering from a severe salt storm that has damaged agriculture and livestock herds.
The three-day storm hit Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan and Khorezm regions, as well as Turkmenistan’s Dashoguz Province, beginning on May 26, 2018.
The salt — lifted from dried-out former parts of the Aral Sea — left a white dust on farmers’ fields and fruit trees that is expected to ruin many crops.
The storm also caused flights at the Urgench airport to be canceled, made driving hazardous, and caused breathing difficulties for many people.
Particularly hard hit by the storm, which reached speeds of more than 20 meters per second, were the Uzbek regions of Khorezm, Navoi, and Bukhara.
Remnants of the storm were also reported as far south as Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Temirbek Bobo, 80, told RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service that it was the first time he had seen such a harsh storm.
“I’ve seen the wind bring sand before, but this was the first time I saw salt. This event can be called a catastrophe,” said Bobo, who lives in the Takhiatash district of Karakalpakstan. “The whole day there was nothing but salt rain [coming down]. The sun was not visible.”
He added: “Nature began to take revenge on us for [what we have done] to the Aral Sea.”
A representative of the Karakalpakstan’s Council of Ministers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the council had not received any instructions regarding the situation, but suggested that the region’s Agricultural Ministry may have.
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service was unable to reach Karakalpakstan’s Agricultural Ministry for comment.
Salt storms are common in areas near the Aral Sea, but this one carried salt over a much wider area.
Once one of the four largest seas on Earth, intensive irrigation projects set up by the Soviets in the 1960s led to its desiccation.
The runoff from nearby agricultural fields has polluted the remaining parts of the Aral Sea with pesticides and fertilizers, which have crystallized with the salt.
Inhalation of the salt can cause severe throat and lung problems. The salt also can poison farmers’ produce and cause chemical damage to buildings.
If you are considering moving to a new place after the novel coronavirus pandemic, you may want to consider one of these 30 US cities.
Recent polling has suggested that many Americans are thinking about moving. The news website Axios reported in late April on a Harris Poll survey that found that about one-third of Americans said they were thinking about moving to less densely populated places. And recent research from Moody’s Analytics found that less densely populated places with a larger share of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher were likely to recover first from the economic impact of the pandemic.
During stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus, more and more Americans have transitioned to working from their homes. In a Gallup analysis, 62% of respondents in a survey conducted from March 30 to April 2 said they were working from home, compared with 31% of respondents in a survey conducted from March 13 to 15.
New Gallup polling has indicated that even after stay-at-home orders lift and employees can return to offices, some people are thinking about working remotely at least part of the time. In a survey conducted from April 13 to 19, 53% of respondents said they would work remotely as much as they could, while 47% said they would return to the office as much as they previously did.
Business Insider decided to find out which cities could be the best to live in after the coronavirus pandemic for those Americans seeking a new home and planning to continue remote work.
To do this, we used nine economic, educational, and demographic metrics from government data sources and academic research that we think people might consider when moving and that could help a metro area recover faster from the economic effects of the pandemic.
These measures are the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate, ability to work from home, population density, housing affordability, monthly household costs, cost of living, weekly two-way work commute, total elementary- and secondary-school spending per student, and share of residents age 25 and over who have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Each measure was rescaled to a uniform z-score, allowing us to add the values together to get a final overall index for each metro area that we then used to rank the 30 metro areas at the top of the list.
Here are the 30 best cities to live in after the coronavirus pandemic, based on our analysis:
30. Danville, Illinois
Danville’s cost of living — the metro area’s price level of goods and services compared with the US’s — is 21.4% lower than the national average. The city’s population density of 84.3 people per square mile is also lower than in most metro areas.
29. Grand Island, Nebraska
In Grand Island, 74.1% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, indicating better housing affordability than most metro areas. Grand Island’s cost of living is slightly lower than in most metro areas, at 15.7% lower than the national average.
28. Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is among the 100 metro areas with the lowest cost-of-living scores, at 12% lower than the national average. Average housing costs in the city are 5.22 a month.
27. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.9%, 0.6 percentage points below the national rate. Omaha’s cost of living is 7.9% lower than the national average.
26. State College, Pennsylvania
State College’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.6%, 0.1 percentage points higher than the national rate in February. Additionally, 46.7% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 18th-highest share among metro areas.
25. Green Bay, Wisconsin
In Green Bay, 75.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the 16th-highest share among metro areas. Average housing costs are 6.86 a month.
24. Columbus, Indiana
In Columbus, 79.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.3%, tied for the 13th lowest among metro areas.
23. Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.2%, tied for the sixth lowest among metro areas, and 49.3% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 10th highest among metro areas.
22. Lansing, Michigan
Lansing is among the metro areas with the highest share of jobs that could be done from home, at 41%. Lansing’s cost of living is 8.8% lower than the national average.
21. Syracuse, New York
Syracuse’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.4%, close to the national rate in February. Syracuse is also among the 100 metro areas with the highest share of jobs that could be done from home, at 38%.
20. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Among the metro areas, Cheyenne has the shortest weekly commute to and from work, at two hours and 28 minutes, and the 18th-lowest population density, at 37.1 people per square mile.
19. Ithaca, New York
Ithaca has the seventh-highest total spending per student in elementary and secondary public schools, where the school district in the metro area with the most students enrolled spends ,220 per pupil. The metro area also has the sixth-largest share of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, at 51.9%.
18. Wausau, Wisconsin
In Wausau, 77.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the fourth-highest share among metro areas, and average housing costs are 9.32 a month.
17. Madison, Wisconsin
In Madison, 42.6% of jobs could be done from home — a higher share than in most metro areas. The pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.6% was lower than the national rate in February.
16. Dubuque, Iowa
In Dubuque, 74.1% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, which is more than in most metro areas, and average housing costs are 5.57 a month.
15. Logan, Utah
Logan’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2%, tied for the second lowest among the metro areas. The weekly commute to and from work is two hours and 57 minutes, tied for the 16th shortest among metro areas.
14. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, lower than most metro areas, and 72.3% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing — it’s among the 100 metro areas with the best housing affordability.
13. Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville had a pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.2%, tied for the sixth-lowest rate among metro areas, and 41.5% of jobs could be done from home, a higher share than in most metro areas.
12. La Crosse, Wisconsin
In La Crosse, 73.7% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, which is higher than in most metro areas. It has the 15th-shortest weekly commute to and from work, at two hours and 56 minutes.
11. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
In Cedar Rapids, 75.9% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the 13th-highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3%, 0.5 percentage points lower than the national rate in February.
10. Columbia, Missouri
Columbia’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, lower than most metro areas, and its weekly commute to and from work is two hours and 58 minutes, the 18th shortest among metro areas.
9. Bismarck, North Dakota
In Bismarck, 76.7% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the ninth-highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.4%, the 19th lowest among metro areas.
8. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines’ pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, which was lower than in most metro areas. Additionally, 42.7% of jobs could be done from home, the 17th-highest share among metro areas.
7. Rochester, New York
The Rochester metro area school district with the most students enrolled spends a total of ,943 per pupil in elementary and secondary public schools, the second-highest amount among metro areas. And 39.3% of jobs could be done from home, a higher share than in most metro areas.
6. Ames, Iowa
Ames’ pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2%, tied for the second lowest among metro areas. Additionally, 50.7% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the ninth-highest share among metro areas.
5. Champaign, Illinois
Champaign’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.2%, which was 0.3 percentage points lower than the national rate in February. The school district with the most students enrolled had the 20th-highest total spending per pupil in elementary and secondary public schools, at ,606 per pupil.
4. Bloomington, Illinois
The share of jobs that could be done from home in Bloomington is 39.4%, and 72.2% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing; both shares are higher than in most metro areas.
3. Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.1%, tied for the fourth lowest among metro areas. The weekly commute to and from work in Fargo is two hours and 52 minutes, tied for the 10th shortest among metro areas.
2. Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City’s cost of living is 18.3% lower than the national average and the fifth lowest among metro areas. And 77.2% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the seventh highest among the metro areas.
1. Springfield, Illinois
Springfield’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.5%, equivalent to the national rate, and 42.9% jobs could be done from home, the 16th-highest share among metro areas.
There are so many rich, incredible facts surrounding the World War II-era Netherlands American Cemetery near Maastricht. It lies along a highway that saw some of history’s most memorable names – Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, just to name a few. In the 20th Century, Hitler’s Wehrmacht also used the road to capture the Netherlands and Belgium and bring them into the Nazi Reich.
What rests there now is a memorial and cemetery to those who fought to liberate the country from the grip of the Nazi war machine. The locals have never forgotten who died there and, from the looks of things, they never will.
The cemetery is meticulously well kept. A memorial tower overlooks a reflecting pool and at the base of the tower is the stature of a mother grieving over her lost son. Elsewhere on the grounds is a list of the battles and operations fought by U.S. servicemen during World War II, the names of those 8,301 men buried on the grounds, and the names of those 1,722 who went missing while fighting in the Netherlands.
Among the honored dead are seven Medal of Honor recipients and a Major General. In all, it’s a remarkable site with historic significance. The most significant thing about the 65-acre Netherlands American Cemetery is who takes care of each American gravestone.
Since 1945, the Dutch people in the area have adopted individual graves, keeping the site clean and maintaining the individual memorials. They ensure that flowers adorn their adopted grave and that the name and deeds of the American interred there are never forgotten. They actually research the entire life of their adopted fallen GI. Some of them adopt more than one.
“Ever since the end of WWII, people have adopted the graves of these men and women out of a deeply heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifices that they made for our freedom,” local Sebastiaan Vonk told an Ohio newspaper. “They truly are our liberators and heroes.”
The American Cemetery is one of the largest in the world. Its upkeep and memory are so important to the locals whose families saw the horrors of Nazi occupation. Even those separated by the 1945 liberation of the Netherlands by a generation or more still hold those names dear and are taking their remembrance project one step further – remembering their face.
A new effort, The Faces of Margraten, seeks to collect photos of the men who died or went missing in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. On Dutch Memorial Day, the group displays personal photos of more than 3,000 of those interred in the cemetery, holding an event that “brings visitors face-to-face with their liberators.”
The U.S. Air Force just proved it can externally mount an advanced stealth cruise missile on the B-1B Lancer for the first time, a step forward in plans to have the B-1 carry future ordnance — like hypersonic missiles — outside of its internal bomb bay.
In the demonstration, carried out by Air Force Materiel Command and Boeing Co., the B-1 carried an inert AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, known as JASSM, on an external pylon. Then, the aircraft demonstrated its “ability to safely release” a mounted AGM-158 separation test vehicle, according to Air Force Global Strike Command spokesman Lt. Col. David Faggard.
“The captive-carry event is actually not a test, but a demonstration to revalidate the previously dormant external carry capability pre-existing on the B-1,” Faggard told Military.com. “No major modifications were needed.”
He added, “This demonstration may pave the way possibly for the B-1B to carry hypersonic weapons externally.”
Members of the 412th Test Wing’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Combined Test Force, carried out the proof-of-concept over Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Nov. 20.
“Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow,” Gen. Tim Ray, head of AFGSC, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee said it would allow the bomber retirements as long as the service keeps 24 combat-coded aircraft; lawmakers previously demanded the service keep at least 36 bombers always ready for combat.
The weapons’ trial “is a true testament to the engineering and operations’ teams who took this idea from concept to rapid test in a short amount of time,” Ray added. He has previously advocated steps to make the remaining bombers even more lethal.
“This is a major step forward in our global precision fires capability and it is important we pursue these technologies to remain ahead of our competitors,” he said.
The external hardpoints on the B-1B were once built to carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles — a mission the long-range aircraft no longer has. The conversion process to make the B-1 non-nuclear began under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, with the final conversion taking place in 2011.
While the external carriage demonstration reactivates the original design and inherent capability, the aircraft “will remain treaty-compliant,” Faggard said. “The expanded capabilities will be conventional-only,” he said.
If the Air Force pursues permanent modifications, the B-1’s hard points would be reconfigured to carry modern conventional weapons and the right-forward hardpoint that currently supports the targeting pod pylon — a tracking device used for target detection and identification — that has been in operational use for the past 15 years, Faggard said.
Kingston Reif, the director of disarmament & threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, pointed out the Air Force has publicized increasing the B-1’s weapons’ payload — particularly with JASSM — for months now.
“This would not violate the treaty because the bomber is still only carrying conventional weapons,” Reif said Tuesday. “They’re not reinserting the electronics that would be required to make the bomber nuclear-capable, or to carry nuclear weapons.”
He added, “They’re doing something to reverse what they’ve previously done, but that doesn’t mean it’s a violation of the treaty.”
Upgunning the Missiles
The variable sweep-wing aircraft is capable of carrying both precision-guided and conventional bombs.
During the Syria strike in 2018, the B-1 struck targets using 19 JASSMs, marking the first operational use of any variant of the missile (the standard JASSM-A missile variant was used, not the new extended-range variant, known as JASSM-ER).
In August 2019, the Air Force proved it could transform the Lancer to hold more ordnance, a first step toward carrying hypersonic weapons payloads. The test, also conducted by Edward’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, demonstrated that crews could fasten new racks onto the B-1’s external hardpoints as well as reconfigure its internal bomb bays to hold heavier weapons.
The B-1 is also capable of carrying the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM. A single B-1B can carry up to 24 LRASMs; the Navy missile, which can autonomously locate and track targets while avoiding friendly forces, achieved early operational capability on the bomber in 2018.
The current initiative enables the B-1 “to carry 24 JASSMs [and or] LRASMs internally with 6 to 12 weapons externally,” Faggard said. The proposed increase means that two bombers would equal three bombers’ worth of weapons, he said.
The trial also determined that the B-1 can still carry a full, internal weapons complement even if JASSMs are positioned outside the bomb bay, Faggard said. Furthermore, the B-1 is able to employ internal weapons “without expending external weapons first,” he said.
Engineers are now reviewing the data collected during the Nov. 20 flight before the service moves on to the next phase of the demonstration: an external weapons release, Faggard said.
“This extensive engineering review will help the Air Force understand areas where we need to focus in order to maintain the B-1B as a multi-mission weapon system, potentially laying the groundwork for integration of future weapons on the aircraft,” he said.
Russia and the Syrian regime warned the US in early September 2018 that they planned to carry out counterterrorism operations near a key US garrison in southeastern Syria known as al-Tanf, where several hundred Marines have been stationed since at least 2016.
In fact, the al-Tanf garrison has long drawn the ire of Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime — but all they’ve been able to do is complain about it.
The US is “gathering the remnants of the Islamic State at this base in order to later send them wage war on the Syrian army,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in late September 2018, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.
“According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed [at al-Tanf],” Russian General Valery Gerasimov told Russia’s Pravda in late 2017. “[Terrorists] are effectively training there.”
Iran’s Press TV also cited Gerasimov’s quote a June 2018 article titled, “US forces training terrorists at 19 camps inside Syria: Russian expert.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem
Without any real evidence, US adversaries have lobbed many rhetorical attacks against the US forces for supposedly harboring or training terrorists at al-Tanf.
Damascus and Russian state-owned media even claimed in June 2018 that the US was preparing a “false flag” chemical attack “identical to the kind that took place in Douma” at al-Tanf.
“The U.S. led Coalition is here to defeat ISIS, first and foremost, and that is the objective of the presence in at al-Tanf,” US Army Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Business Insider in an email.
“No U.S. troops have trained ISIS and that is just incorrect and misinformation, it is truly amazing some people think that,” Ryan said.
The US has trained Syrian rebels at al-Tanf, namely a group called Maghawir al Thawra, which “is fairly secular by regional standards and has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, told Business Insider.
Members of Maghawir al Thawra and a US Army soldier repair a water well in an-Tanf.
But the “claim that the US is training ISIS and like-minded groups at al Tanf is certainly absurd,” Lamrani said.
“To the Russians and Iranians, almost any group fighting against the Syrian government can be labeled a terrorist group,” Lamrani said.
So why do Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime care so much about this garrison?
“I’d say that the primary reasons why Iran cares about it so much is, again, it blocks the Bagdhad-Damascus highway,” Lamrani said, which Tehran uses to transport weapons to Damascus, where the Syrian regime is based.
“The reason they want the land route is that it’s easier to bring [weapons] across land in greater quantities, and the shipping route is very vulnerable to Israeli interception, and the air route is expensive and often gets hit by Israeli airstrikes,” Lamrani added.
Moscow, on the other hand, is upset about al-Tanf because “it’s the last area in Syria where the United States is involved with rebels on the ground that are not Syrian Democratic Forces,” Lamrani said.
The Russians and Syrian regime have “open channels” with the SDF, and want to negotiate — not fight — with them, Lamrani added.
But Moscow, Tehran and the Syrian regime’s ire might go beyond just styming the flow of weapons to Damascus and training rebels.
“There’s a history at that garrison at al-Tanf,” Max Markusen, associate director and an associate fellow of the Transnational Threats Project at CSIS, told Business Insider.
“I think that the Syrian regime, the Russians and Iranians, would see it as a [symbolic] victory if the United States pulled out of there than just sort of tactical level objectives,” Markusen said, adding that there’s much resentment for the US having trained rebels at al-Tanf too.
But they’re not foolish enough to kinetically force US troops out because “the costs of escalation are too high,” Markusen said.
So they’re relegated to discrediting the al-Tanf garrison.
Going forward, “we will continue to see an escalation of rhetoric,” Markusen said, but “I don’t there’s going to be a major outbreak of conflict.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
During the COVID-19 crisis, President Trump has been holding daily briefings from the White House to provide updates on the pandemic. Now, the president is extending an opportunity for service members and their families to listen in on a conference call hosted especially for them, to discuss the status of COVID-19 and how it impacts the military.
The Department of Defense announced the call on social media, requesting that interested parties RSVP via a provided link.
According to the Center for Disease Control, as of March 31, 2020, there were 163,539 total cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States and 2,860 deaths. The military announced they will no longer be releasing numbers of infected service members due to security reasons.
Fighter aircraft are designed and created for a lot of reasons. The F-22’s maneuverability and speed were designed to make the aircraft the world’s premier air superiority fighter. The A-10, by contrast, is relatively slow, but the flying tank packs a mighty punch to give American ground troops the close-air support they need on the battlefield. Other countries presumably develop their aircraft for similar purposes. The Russian P-42 Flanker fighter, however, was designed with one thing in mind – beating records.
American aircraft records, that is.
The P-42 in 1986.
The Sukhoi-27 “Flanker” (as it was called by NATO) was, to many aviation historians, the pinnacle of Soviet and Russian aviation engineering. It was created in the mid-to-late-1970s as a means of taking on the American F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle fighters and all their various air combat roles. Their primary mission was to scramble and intercept heavy American bombers in the event of World War III. Of course, they never fulfilled that mission, but some Su-27s have seen active duty action in recent years, notably in Syria as part of the Russian Air Force mission there.
Su-27 Flankers, like the F-15, saw modification in different variations in order to fulfill the roles required of various aircraft in the Soviet arsenal. But one of those variants wasn’t to fill a military function at all; it was built for one reason: to beat American aviation records.
The Soviet P-42 was expected to set records for range and flight altitude, maximum airspeed, and rate of climb. From 1986 to 1990, the specially modified P-42 set 41 different world records, according to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the world’s governing body for air sports. They started by taking on the F-15 Eagle directly – with a “zoom climb” to 30,000 meters.
A zoom climb comes when an aircraft pilot pulls up, trading forward motion (kinetic energy) for upward motion (potential energy) and by applying thrusters, can actually achieve a higher climb rate than its maximum climb rate and a higher altitude than its maximum. Pilots will take off as fast as possible and fly close to the ground until they pull up at a nearly vertical angle, reaching cruising altitude as fast as possible. The Soviet P-42 was stripped-down and ready for this first part, generating so much energy for that initial burst of speed that it had to be chained to a tractor to prevent a “premature takeoff” on its own.
Its thrust-to-weight ratio meant that its brakes were unable to keep the plane in its starting position. Soviet engineers attached the plane to a towrope with a special lock. The towrope was attached to a specially outfitted and armored tractor that would be protected from the extreme heat of the plane’s afterburners. Detaching the towrope was automatically triggered by the start of the timers for all the P-42’s world records.
The F-15 “Streak Eagle” used to break world aviation records.
The Russians were targeting the altitude record set by USAF F-15 Strike Eagle in 1975. At an embarrassing rate (for the USSR, that is) American F-15 fighters smashed eight world aviation and speed records in just two weeks, records which stood for more than a decade. This apparently stuck to the Russians particularly hard, as the Soviet Air Force spent years preparing a plane specifically designed just to beat them back.
This modified Su-27 didn’t go supersonic during its zoom climbs. It didn’t have to. Without the weight of systems like avionics or armaments, the P-42 was able to easily subdue the records for the 3,000, 6,000 9,000, and 12,000 meter climbs, along with 23 other aviation and speed records.
When British General William Howe landed 20,000 Redcoats on Long Island, the situation looked grim for the young Continental Army. General George Washington’s Continentals seemed to be pinned down as Howe simultaneously attacked the Americans head-on while he moved his troops behind Washington’s position.
In his book, “Washington’s Immortals,” Patrick O’Donnell describes how their only way out was a small gap in the British line, somehow being held open by a handful of Marylanders.
Well before the signing of the Declaration of Independence put the nascent United States on a war footing with the world’s largest, most powerful empire, Col. William Smallwood started forming a regiment of men for the coming conflict.
Smallwood formed nine companies of infantry from the north and west counties of the Maryland Colony. Though they would be reassigned multiple times, the 400 men of the 1st Maryland Regiment took part in many major battles of the American Revolution, most notably covering the American retreat out of Long Island through a series of brave infantry charges.
British forces occupied “The Old Stone House” with a force that outnumbered the aforementioned Marylanders. While the rest of the Americans retreated in an orderly fashion, the few hundred Maryland troops repeatedly charged the fortified position with fixed bayonets.
American forces survived mostly intact — except for the Marylanders. Only nine of them made it back to the Continental Army.
Their rearguard actions against superior British troops in New York City earned them the nickname “The Immortal 400.” Their stand against 2,000 British regulars allowed Washington’s orderly retreat to succeed so he could fight another day.
The Immortal Regiment went on to fight at the pivotal battles of Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown. The unit continued its service long after the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War.
Maryland earned one of its nicknames, “The Old Line State,” because Washington referred to Maryland units as his “Old Line.” The U.S. Army National Guard’s 115th Infantry Regiment could trace its origins back to the Immortal 400, but the 115th is now merged with the 175th Infantry Regiment.
A typical Fieldcraft Survival classroom. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)
For our final installment of the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide, we want to politely remind you that going out and getting active with a group of likeminded individuals is, when all is said and done, the best kind of therapy for what ails the modern psyche.
Whether you deployed to combat zones or burned your PT belt as soon you could specialize into admin; whether you’re a veteran looking for new purpose on the homefront or a civilian curious about what happens when you push beyond the bounds of civilization; let us suggest, with all requisite seasonal jollity, that you seek out a school like Fieldcraft Survival, squad up with their Tribe and give yourself the gift of training under an expert like Mike Glover.
As a Special Forces Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter/Operator, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM, Glover spent 18 years acquiring the kind of skillset that would make him a force multiplier in the field and, upon transitioning, the kind of dude who would have to start a survival school.
Look, it’s easy to return to the comforts of home and get complacent. Honestly, if that’s what you want to do, you’ve earned the right. But brotherhood is what you miss the most about the military. And those bonds can be made anew, out in the bush and the muck, shoulder to shoulder, facing just the right amount of suck to bring up the best in you. When you give yourself a task and a purpose and a struggle to overcome, you invest this second life of yours with meaning.
The holidays can get pretty materialistic. But if you give yourself the right gift – the gift of a challenge – the person you want to be, or wish you were, might be out there waiting for you, just few weeks hard march into next year.
Go get ’em.
And Happy Holidays, from all of us at We Are The Mighty.
The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.
Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.