Two US Air Force F-15s nearly took out some free-falling skydivers - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Two US Air Force F-15s nearly took out some free-falling skydivers

A pair of skydivers nearly had an unfortunate run-in with two US Air Force F-15 fighter jets in the skies above southern England earlier this year, a British air safety board reports.

The US fighters out of RAF Lakenheath, home to the US 48th Fighter Wing, were flying at 345 mph above Cambridgeshire on April 17, 2019. Above Chatteris airfield, a popular skydiving location the fighter pilots were not aware was active, two parachutists were in freefall at roughly 120 mph, Stars and Stripes reported, citing a UK Airprox Board report released this past summer.

The skydivers captured video footage of the fighters passing beneath them.


“The Board was shown Go-Pro footage filmed from the helmet of one of the parachutists and could clearly see the F15s passing beneath,” the report read, further explaining that “once the parachutists had seen the F15s there was very little they could do to avoid the situation, having no control over their speed or direction whilst in freefall.”

An F-15E Strike Eagle.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Couillard)

There was a debate about how close the fighters actually came to the skydivers, Airprox explained, adding that the board eventually concluded that “safety had been reduced much below the norm.” The pilots did not see the parachutists, nor were they aware of any planned jumps.

Chatteris airfield, according to the Airprox report, notifies Lakenheath every morning of its planned activities. The board agreed that “there was very little more that Chatteris could have done from an operational perspective to prevent” this near-miss, which was the result of problems both on the ground and in the air.

In response to this incident, the 48th Fighter Wing is briefing crews again and reminding everyone of the need to steer clear of the Chatteris skydiving site.

An Air Force F-15C Eagle.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

RAF Lakenheath is “using this incident to reinforce the vital importance of situational awareness and attention to detail for all of our air traffic controllers and aircrew,” Col. Will Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, told Stars and Stripes.

“UK airspace is incredibly complex and often congested, and the safety of our aircrew as well as those we share the skies with is our number one priority,” he added. The Airprox report noted that prior to the near-miss with the skydivers, the F-15s had been forced to change course to avoid a KC-135 refueling tanker that was determined to be “on a collision course with the formation.”

It was apparently that course change, combined with various other influencing factors, that sent the fighters over Chatteris and put the skydivers in danger.

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

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3 reasons why outfitting grunts with suppressors is a great idea (and 3 reasons why it sucks)

Anyone who’s ever shot an AR or M4 with a suppressor knows how much better the experience is. Hence the saying, “Once you go suppressed, you never go back.”


Previously the exclusive domain of special operations troops, the Marine Corps is experimenting with outfitting an entire infantry battalion with suppressors to fire with their M16 and M4 rifles — and even with their light, medium and heavy machine guns, like the M2 .50cal.

“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” a top Marine Corps official told Military.com recently. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”

Industry and military experts agree, saying suppressors deliver tremendous advantages to troops in battle. But there’s a reason why the technology has been primarily in the kit bag of special operations troops and highly trained snipers — they’re not always “grunt proof” and can sometimes cause more problems than they solve if used improperly, experts say.

So first, let’s look at three reasons why firearm sound suppressors awesome. Then we’ll show you three reasons why they’re a potential bigtime problem.

1. Signature mitigation

One of the main benefits to suppressor use by infantry troops, military experts say, is that the suppressor helps eliminate the flash of the powder burn from a fired round from emerging from the end of the barrel. Sound suppressors are like a vehicle muffler and use a series of baffles to progressively disperse the gas and flash from a shot.

The flash from a shot is a dead giveaway of a trooper’s position to the enemy — especially at night. (DoD photo)

When a trooper fires his rifle equipped with a suppressor — which can add another 4-6 inches to the end of the barrel (more on that in our “disadvantages list”) — that’s a lot of extra room for the flash to dissipate, making it hard for a bad guy to see a Marine’s position in the dark.

“This reduces or eliminates attention drawn to the shooter, making him virtually invisible,” said one Marine infantry expert. “We like to fight at night because it helps us reduce the enemy’s ability to see us or identify us as quickly — add a suppressor and it will help increase tempo.”

2. Recoil reduction

One of the things that a lot of shooters don’t realize is that a suppressor drastically reduces a firearm’s felt recoil, one industry expert said. Trapping the gasses within the suppressor negates the need for muzzle breaks or other devices to help keep the barrel level shot after shot.

Suppressors help with followup shots for precision shooters like this Marine firing an M27 rifle. (US Marine Corps photo)

As anyone who’s had to fire a shot in anger would know, accuracy is the key to survival, and suppressors help a lot in this area.

“Suppressors reduce firing recoil significantly … reducing the speed and quantity of the gas expelled and reducing the total momentum of the matter leaving the barrel, transferring to the gun as recoil,” the Marine infantry expert told WATM. “Suppressors also increase the speed of the bullet to the target, and this will cause an increase in accuracy and the shooter’s ability to track the target longer — and if needed calmly fire another carefully aimed shot.”

3. Sound suppression

Of course, as the name implies, suppressors are primarily designed to reduce the report of a firearm. They are not “silencers” like the Hollywood image would imply. A suppressor typically reduces the sound of a rifle from 160 dB to 135 dB — just enough to make it hearing safe, but by no means deadly quiet.

(US Marine Corps photo)

But that sound reduction is enough to provide a major advantage in fighting indoors and helping small unit leaders communicate better on the battlefield. Particularly when used with a machine gun, the suppressor can expand the area a unit can communicate and operate, industry and military experts say.

“Especially in [close quarters battle] suppressors are particularly useful in enclosed spaces where the sound, flash and pressure effects of a weapon being fired are amplified,” the infantry expert said. “Such effects may disorient the shooter, affecting situational awareness, concentration and accuracy. This could also reduce the noise in the battlefield thus aiding leaders in maintaining command and control.”

And the affect on a trooper’s hearing isn’t anything to shake a stick at either, industry experts say.

“The VA spends about $10 million per year on helping veterans who’re suffering from hearing loss,” the silencer industry source said. “That’s a big concern for service members who’re being exposed to gunfire throughout their career.”

While it’s clear most agree suppressors deliver major advantages to the war fighter, it’s not all ninja moves and .5 MOA shots every time.

1. Heat

Look, it’s physics folks. That gas and flash from a shot has to go somewhere.

Trapped in the suppressor, the hot gas and flash of a magazine dump, for example, can heat the accessory up to as much as 500 degrees. That’s enough to melt handguards and deliver severe burns if a trooper absentmindedly handles one.

That means if grunts are using suppressors as a matter of course, they have to add yet another element to look out for when they’re manipulating their weapons.

2. Length and Weight

Adding a “can” to the end of a rifle adds extra weight and length to the firearm. That changes how the trooper operates, particularly in close quarters battle scenarios.

The whole point of equipping infantry Marines with 14.5-inch barreled M4s is the make them more maneuverable. Adding another 6 inches to their rifle puts them right back in M16 A4 land, the Marine infantry expert said.

The added weight to the end of the barrel also affects accuracy and manipulation, industry sources say. A suppressor can make a rifle “front heavy,” changing the way a shooter has to mount the rifle and balance it for an accurate shot.

3. Maintenance

Great care has to be taken in mounting a suppressor to a rifle, the industry expert told us. Marines are probably using suppressors that attach to the rifle using a quick-attach mount so that a trooper can take the suppressor off quickly if needed (the other type of attachment is to just thread it directly to the barrel).

If this attachment isn’t done right and the suppressor is just a tiny bit off from the line of the barrel, it can result in the fired bullet impacting the baffles inside the suppressor, causing it to rupture. This is known as a “baffle strike,” and while it doesn’t usually cause severe injury, it can take a gun out of a fight, the industry source said.

Additionally, on direct (gas) impingement guns like the M4 (but not like the piston-driven M27), the suppressor can force a lot of gas back into the rifle breach.

“A suppressor scenario is going to result in a much filthier gun,” the industry source said. “That could cause more malfunctions if it’s not cleaned immediately.”

Modern suppressors are awesome and make shooting a firearm more controllable, accurate and safe. Most believe outfitting service members with this technology increases their effectiveness on the battlefield. But its important to remember they do come with some drawbacks that take training and practice to avoid.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the Korean War forced the U.S. Coast Guard to change

The U.S. Coast Guard has served in every American war since the Revolution, but there was a major shift between World War II and Korea, thanks in part to the critical peacetime role the Coast Guard had assumed in 1946: training and preparing the South Korean Navy and Coast Guard before the war.


Commander William Achurch discusses the value of training aids with a Korean naval officer and another U.S. adviser.

(U.S. Coast Guard)

See, in Korea, the Coast Guard ceased to fight as a subordinate of the Navy and started to fight as its own branch, even during war.

During World War II, and nearly every war before that, the Coast Guard was shifted under the Navy during conflict and fought within the Navy ranks. Coast Guardsmen piloted most landing craft in World War II, from Normandy to Guadalcanal, but they did so under Navy command.

Even where Coast Guard officers were holding senior ranks over other Coast Guardsmen, the senior officers were still folded in with their Navy brethren. So, you could be an enlisted Coast Guardsman who was receiving orders from Coast Guard officers and Coast Guard admirals, but that admiral still fell under the fleet admirals and you were all tasked to the Navy Department.

The destruction at the South Korean capital of Seoul was extensive. The last Coast Guard officers left the city as it fell to the North Korean communists.

(U.S. Army Capt. C.W. Huff)

But in 1947, just after the Army asked the Coast Guard to come to the Korean peninsula and help the democratic forces build a naval arm, the U.S. Navy proposed that the Coast Guard should focus on an expansion of its peacetime duties during times of war instead of trying to assume Navy duties.

So, in 1950, the Communist forces in North Korea invaded South Korea. The initial invasion was wildly successful, and democratic forces were forced to consolidate and withdraw, giving up most of the country before finally holding a tiny toehold on the southern coast.

By 1950, the active duty Coast Guard had been withdrawn from Korea and a few retired officers remained, drawing paychecks from the Army. After the invasion, even these men were withdrawn. One escaped Seoul as the city was destroyed, barely passing one of the key bridges before it blew up.

A Coast Guard Martin PBM-5G commonly used in search and rescue operations.

(U.S. Coast Guard Bill Larkins)

So, as the war drug on, the Coast Guard was forced to build its own infrastructure to perform its new wartime duties. Two of the most important tasks were to provide weather observations and to conduct search and rescue missions. Both of these tasks required extensive deployment across the Pacific Ocean.

Weather operations rely on observations from a wide area, especially before the advent of satellites. And while search and rescue is typically restricted to a limited area, the Navy and Army needed search and rescue capabilities across their logistics routes from the American west coast to Korea.

So, the Coast Guard was forced to establish stations on islands across the Pacific, placing as many cutters along the routes as they could to act as radio relays and to augment search and rescue stations.

A Navy P2V-5 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare plane like the one that was downed while spying on China in January 1953.

(U.S. Navy)

And one of those search and rescue missions went horribly for those involved. On January 18, 1953, a Navy P-2V Neptune was shot down while spying on Communist forces. The Coast Guard dispatched a rescue seaplane into the rough, cold seas.

The Coast Guard crew managed to land in the seas and pull the seven Navy survivors aboard, but they still needed to get back out of the sea. The Coast Guardsmen placed jet-assisted take-off devices onto the plane and the pilot attempted to get airborne.

Unfortunately, the rough waves doomed the takeoff attempt, and the plane broke up as it slammed into an oncoming wave.

Five Coast Guardsmen were lost before the remaining survivors of the dual wrecks were rescued. All five were posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal.

Of course, the Coast Guard also had duties back home, guarding ports and conducting investigations to ensure that the people working at docks were loyal to the country to prevent sabotage.

The lifesaving service’s Korea performance would help lead to their role supporting Air Force combat search and rescue in Vietnam. But all of this was a massive departure from World War II where they saw extensive combat but worked almost solely as an entity folded into the U.S. Navy.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How CIA mistakes led to dozens of spies dead

A firewall used by the CIA to communicate with its spies in China compromised their identities and contributed to their executions by the Chinese government, several current and former intelligence officials told Foreign Policy magazine in a report published Aug. 15, 2018.

In a two-year period starting in 2010, Chinese officials began accurately identifying spies working for the US.

Chinese authorities rounded up the suspects and executed or imprisoned them before their handlers were able to determine what was going on.


“You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing,” one of the US officials said in the report. “The Ministry of State Security were always pulling in the right people.”

“When things started going bad, they went bad fast.”

US intelligence officials cited in the report are now placing the lion’s share of the blame on what one official called a “f—– up” communications system used between spies and their handlers.

This internet-based system, brought over from operations in the Middle East, was taken to China under the assumption that it could not be breached and made the CIA “invincible,” Foreign Policy reported.

Police officer, Beijing, China.

(Photo by Shawn Clover)

“It migrated to countries with sophisticated counterintelligence operations, like China,” an official said.

“The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable.”

Intelligence officers and their sources were able to communicate with each other using ordinary laptops or desktop computers connected to the internet, marking a stark departure from some of the more traditional methods of covert communication.

This “throwaway” encrypted program, which was assumed to be untraceable and separate from the CIA’s main communication line, was reportedly used for new spies as a safety measure in case they double-crossed the agency.

Unbeknownst to the CIA, however, this system could be used to connect with mainstream CIA communications, used by fully vetted CIA sources.

According to the report, the vulnerability would have even allowed Chinese intelligence agencies to deduce it was being used by the US government.

The Chinese set up a task force to break in to the throwaway system, Foreign Policy said, but it was unclear how they ultimately identified people.

The consequences for this breach were grim.

About 30 spies were reportedly executed, though some intelligence officials told Foreign Policy that 30 was a low estimate.

The US officials were reportedly “shell-shocked” by the speed and accuracy of Chinese counterintelligence, and rescue operations were organized to evacuate their sources.

The last CIA case officer to meet with sources in China reportedly handed over large amounts of cash in hopes that it would help them escape, Foreign Policy said.

The CIA has since been rebuilding its network in China, but the process has been an expensive and long endeavor, according to The New York Times, which in 2017 first reported on the suspected vulnerability and sources’ deaths.

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

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White House wants $30B defense budget increase this year to rebuild military, fight ISIS

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan March 16, President Donald J. Trump asked for a defense budget increase of $30 billion for the Defense Department in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, to rebuild the armed forces and accelerate the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.


Army Special Forces on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The fiscal 2017 budget amendment provides $24.9 billion in base funds for urgent warfighting readiness needs and to begin a sustained effort to rebuild the armed forces, according to the president’s letter.

“The request seeks to address critical budget shortfalls in personnel, training, maintenance, equipment, munitions, modernization and infrastructure investment. It represents a critical first step in investing in a larger, more ready and more capable military force,” Trump wrote.

The request includes $5.1 billion in overseas contingency operations funds so the department can accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIS and support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, he said, noting that the request would enable DoD to pursue a comprehensive strategy to end the threat ISIS poses to the United States.

At the Pentagon this afternoon, senior defense officials briefed reporters on the on the fiscal 2017 budget amendment. The speakers were John P. Roth, performing the duties of undersecretary of defense-comptroller, and Army Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, director of force structure, resources and assessment on the Joint Staff.

“Our request to Congress is that they pass a full-year defense appropriations bill,” and that the bill includes the additional $30 billion, Roth said.

“We are now approaching the end of our sixth month under a continuing resolution,” he added, “one of the longest periods that we have ever been under a continuing resolution.”

The continuing resolution run for the rest of the fiscal year, Pentagon officials “would find that extremely harmful to the defense program,” Roth said.

A U.S. Marine assigned to Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry East, loads an M203 Grenade Launcher during a live fire exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. Marines are evaluated in field craft and military occupational specialty tasks under the leadership and supervision of Combat Instructors in order to provide the Marine Corps basically qualified infantry Marines prepared for service in the operating forces. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton)

“We are essentially kind of muddling along right now in terms of … borrowing resources against third- and fourth-quarter kinds of finances in order to keep things going,” he said. “But that game gets to be increasingly difficult as we go deeper into the fiscal year.”

Under a continuing resolution, the department has to operate under a fiscal 2016 mandate, creating a large mismatch between operations funds and procurement funds, Roth explained. The department can’t spend procurement dollars because there’s a restriction on new starts and on increasing production, he said, “but we have crying needs in terms of training, readiness, maintenance … and in the operation and maintenance account.”

The continuing resolution expires April 28, “so before then, we would want a full appropriation and, of course, a full appropriation with this additional $30 billion,” he said.

Roth said much of the money in the fiscal 2017 request is funding for operations and maintenance.

“We’re asking for additional equipment maintenance funding, additional facilities maintenance, spare parts, additional training events, peacetime flying hours, ship operations, munitions and those kinds of things,” he told reporters. “This is the essence of what keeps this department running on a day-to-day basis. It keeps us up and allows us to get ready for whatever the next challenge is.”

The officials said full support from Congress is key to improving warfighter readiness, providing the most capable modern force, and increasing the 2011 Budget Control Act funding cap for defense.

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The Israeli Arrow shot down a SAM for its first kill

Israel’s Arrow missile defense system managed to get its first kill. This particular kill is notable because it was a Syrian surface-to-air missile.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, Israeli jets had attacked a number of Syrian targets. After the successful operation, they were targeted by Syrian air-defense systems, including surface-to-air missiles.

An Arrow anti-ballistic missile is launched as part of the on going United States/Israel Arrow System Improvement Program (ASIP). (U.S. Navy photo)

Reportedly, at least one of the surface-to-air missiles was shot down by an Arrow. According to astronautix.com, the system designed to kill ballistic missiles, had its first test flight in 1990 and has hit targets as high as 60 miles up.

Army-Technology.com notes that the Israeli system has a range of up to 56 miles and a top speed of Mach 9. That is about three times the speed of the legendary SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that the Arrow 2 can engage up to 14 targets, with the first battery deployed in 2000, with a second in 2002. A third is reportedly stated for deployment as well.

The surprise, of course, is that the Arrow proved capable of killing the unidentified surface-to-air missile the Syrians fired.

Surface-to-air missiles are much harder targets to hit than ballistic missiles because they will maneuver to target a fighter or other aircraft.

Furthermore, the SAM that was shot down is very likely to have been of Russian manufacture (DefenseNews.com reported the missile was a SA-5 Gammon, also known as the S-200).

A SA-5 Gammon on its launcher. Was a similar missile the first kill for the Arrow? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Most of the missiles are from various production blocks of the Arrow 2, but this past January, Reuters reported that the first Arrow 3 battery had become operational.

The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed the second successful flyout test of the Arrow-3 interceptor in 2014. (Dept. of Defense photo)

While the Arrow 2 intercepts incoming warheads in the atmosphere, the Arrow 3 is capable of exoatmospheric intercepts. One battery has been built so far, and will supplement Israel’s Arrow 2 batteries. The Arrow 3’s range is up to 2,400 kilometers, according to CSIS.

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21 of the US military’s most-overused clichés

There are certain phrases military service members hear on the regular, and by regular, we mean they are over-used like crazy.


While every workplace has its own cliche buzzwords — we’re talking about you there, “corporate synergy” — the military has plenty to choose from. The WATM team put its collective heads together and came up with this list of the cliche phrases we’ve heard way too many times in the military.

1. “All this and a paycheck too!”

Usually uttered by a staff NCO at the moment of a 20-mile hike where you wish you could just pass out on the side of the road.

2. “If you’re on time, you’re late.”

Military members are well aware of the unwritten rule of arriving 15 minutes prior to the time they are supposed to be somewhere. Of course, if there’s a senior officer involved, that might even mean 15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior.

3. “We get more done before 6 a.m. than most people do all day.”

The time can always be changed, but the phrase remains the same. Military members across the world are usually waking up way earlier than most, and as the saying goes, it probably means they have done personal hygiene, conducted an insane workout, ate breakfast, and started training before average Joe hit the snooze button on the alarm clock.

4. “Don’t call me sir. I work for a living.”

Among the enlisted ranks, it’s a common cliche that officers don’t do any real work. “There’s a reason why they have office in their name” is a popular saying. So when an enlisted service-member is incorrectly addressed as “sir,” this is one of the most popular responses.

5. “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.”

No matter what the weather, the U.S. military is guaranteed to be training or conducting some sort of exercise. But this cliche phrase is guaranteed to come out when a torrential downpour hits your unit.

6. “This ain’t my first rodeo there, cowboy.”

Let’s not ask the sergeant any stupid questions. He knows what he’s doing, because he’s done this a million times before. Cowboy.

7. “Best job in the world!”

Calling your particular field in the military “the best job in the world” usually happens during the times when you would never think it’s the best time in the world. These times include freezing cold on patrol in Afghanistan, running out of water while training in Thailand, and/or not showering for a month-and-a-half.

8. “Complacency kills.”

You’ll find this phrase spray-painted to every other Hesco barrier on the forward operating base, on a sign outside the chow hall, and on the lips of every sergeant major in a half-mile radius. Troops need to stay alert while they are out in combat, and this one gets drilled into the dirt.

9. “Keep your head on a swivel.”

This one is similar to “complacency kills” but is often said to troops about to go into dangerous situations. Before heading out on patrol, a squad leader might tell his troops to “keep their head on swivel,” meaning: keep alert and look everywhere for potential threats.

10. “Got any saved rounds?” or “Any alibis?”

At the end of a briefing, you’ll usually hear either of these phrases. “Any questions?” just doesn’t pack the same punch as using terminology straight off the rifle range.

11. “Another glorious day in the Corps!”

It could be the Corps, the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, but it’s always a glorious day there, according to whoever utters this phrase. This is meant to motivate but it’s usually met with eye-rolls.

12. “This is just for your SA.”

This is another way of saying FYI, but with a military spin. SA, or situational awareness, is all about being aware of what’s happening around you, so this is often said by a subordinate to a leader so they know what’s going on.

13. “We’re putting on another dog and pony show.”

We’ve never actually been to a real dog and pony show, but we have put on plenty of them in the military. A military “dog and pony show” is usually some sort of ceremony or traditional event for troops to show off their weaponry and other stuff. For example, Marines may put one on by standing around and answering questions about their machine-guns, rocket launchers, and other gear for civilians who are visiting the base for an event.

14. “Roger that.”

This is a phrase that should be uttered only over the radio (it’s actually just “roger, over” and “roger, out,” respectively), but troops often say this instead of saying “I understand.”

15. “Bravo Zulu.”

Bravo Zulu is a naval signal that can be conveyed via flag or over the radio, and it means “well done.” But plenty of troops will use this as a way of saying good job or congratulations.

16. “Like a monkey f–king a football.”

A favorite of NCOs and staff NCOs, this comes out when junior troops have screwed something up pretty bad. As you can probably guess, a football is not a good object for a monkey’s sexual relations.

17. “Let’s pop smoke.”

Smoke grenades are used for signaling and/or screening movements. When under fire, troops may want to pop smoke so the enemy can’t really see where they are headed. On the flip side, troops at a lame bar may want to “pop smoke” and go somewhere else.

18. “Let’s break it down, Barney style.”

Barney the dinosaur loves you, and some military members like to invoke his name to explain things. When a task is complicated, a leader may explain it “Barney style,” or so simply that a child could understand it.

19. “Look at this soup sandwich.”

This refers to someone who has usually screwed up the wear of their uniform in some way.

20. “Ok, gents, we need to be heads down on this.”

A favorite of WATM’s own ex-naval aviator Ward, this is actually a twofer. First, the use of “gents” (oh Lord please make it stop), and then referring to working hard as heads down. Apparently we’ll be more productive as long as our heads are not up or to the side.

21. “You are lost in the sauce.”

This will often be said of someone who has no idea what the hell is going on. In order to rectify, a leader will probably break things down “Barney Style.”

Got any to add to the list? Leave a comment.

NOW: 11 Vets with some of the coolest jobs in Hollywood

MIGHTY MOVIES

This astronaut says ‘The Right Stuff’ turned his life around

Scott Kelly didn’t always know that he was going to be an astronaut. In fact, he wasn’t even a particularly good student.

“As a student, it’s just really hard, especially at first, when you don’t have the habit-patterns to study and pay attention,” Kelly told Business Insider for the podcast “Success! How I Did It.” “But once I got over that, I was able to go from a kid at 18 years old that was always like a very average, underperforming student and then fast forward almost to the day 18 years later, I flew in space for the first time. It was a pretty remarkable comeback, I think.”


Kelly remained an average student until he went to college, where he stumbled across Tom Wolfe’s book, “The Right Stuff.”

“I read this book, and I could relate to a lot of the characteristics these guys had, with regards to their personalities, their risk-taking, their leadership abilities, ability to work as a team. That made me think,” Kelly said.

“I related to a lot of those characteristics with one exception, and that is I wasn’t a good student, especially in science and math,” he continued. Kelly said he then thought, “Wow, you know, if I could fix just that thing, then I could maybe be like these guys.”

“At the time I was thinking you’ve got to be really smart to be an engineer or scientist. What I realized is really what it takes is just hard work, and it’s not any particular gift you might have.”

He continued: “It was the spark I needed to motivate me to do more with my life than I was currently doing.”

You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to the episode below:


“The Right Stuff” inspired Kelly, but it was a phone call from his brother that showed him what hard work really looks like.

According to Kelly, his twin brother Mark, who also became a NASA astronaut, was also a mediocre students — but Mark turned things around in high school, while Scott kept skating by. Mark pinpoints his turnaround to an event Scott doesn’t remember.

“I was this kid that could not pay attention. Was not a good student,” Kelly said. “Always wondering how in the ninth grade my brother went from being like me to getting straight A’s — I never knew how that happened.”

“But apparently, what [Mark] tells me, is that our dad sat us down in like the eighth grade, and said, ‘Hey, guys. You know, you’re not good students, not college material. We’re going to start thinking about a vocational education for you.'” Kelly said. “And my brother thought, ‘Whoa! I want to go to college and do something more.”I, on the other hand, had no recollection whatsoever of this conversation,” Kelly said. “Probably only because there was like a squirrel running outside the window and I was like, ‘Squirrel!’ Otherwise, I probably would have been a straight-A student, too.”

Kelly, left, and his identical twin brother and fellow former astronaut Mark.
(Nasa photo)

In his memoir “Endurance,” Kelly wrote that his mind began to wander and he lost focus as a student at the State University of New York Maritime College.

His grades had risen above average and he was studying for his first calculus exam. Having decided to take a break, Kelly planned to attend a big party at Rutgers. When Mark found out about his brother’s attempt to forgo more studying for a party, he scolded Kelly over the phone.

“Are you out of your goddamn mind?” Kelly remembered Mark telling him. “You’re in school. You need to absolutely ace this exam, and everything else, if you want to get caught up.”

Scott Kelly buckled down, became a NASA astronaut, and has been to space four times.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Do expert fighters and military personnel really have to register their hands as deadly weapons?

Anyone who’s ever watched pretty much any movie in the history of ever or otherwise watched professional pugilists spar words with one another in a media session knows that those trained in the art of kicking ass are required to register their hands as deadly weapons in the United States. Further, if they use their fists of fury against the general public, not only will they get thrown in the slammer for a rather long time for assault with a deadly weapon, but afterwards they’ll go on a high flying adventure with the likes of Cyrus The Virus Grissom and his band of lovable ragamuffins. But is any of this actually true in reality? Well, as the universe hates simplicity and basically nothing is black and white- no, and also yes, and then nuance.

As to the easiest part of this particular topic to address- are those highly trained in hand to hand combat required to register their hands as deadly weapons in the U.S.? Nope… except for in one U.S. territory- Guam. There, in Title 10- Health & Safety Division 3- Public Safety, Chapter 62, it states,


Any person who is an expert in the art of karate or judo, or any similar physical in which the hands and feet are used as deadly weapons, is required to register with the Department of Revenue and Taxation…

An exception to this is that U.S. military members, as well as law enforcement, are not required to register. The fee for such a registration is a mere and does not ever need to be renewed. Should such an expert fail to register and this is discovered by the authorities, said individual will be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime.

As to the end result of such a registration, in a nutshell the Department of Revenue and Taxation keeps a database of those registered and it further states in section 62106, “Any registered… who thereafter is charged with having used his art in a physical assault on some other person, shall upon conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of aggravated assault.”

Interestingly, no part of this section of the law seems to give any guidelines about how long you have from entering Guam to register yourself. And it does seem to require you show up in person to register, so there will always be a period between entering Guam, or reaching “expert” status while living there, and when you actually register.

And if you’re wondering, they define “expert” as “a person trained in the arts of karate, judo or other hand-to-hand fighting technique, whereby the hands, feet or other parts of the body are used as weapons, who shall have completed at least one level of training therein and shall have been issued a belt or other symbol showing proficiency in such art.”

As a brief aside, we’re just saying, but if Guam really wanted to make some nice side money for their Treasury, they’d allow this registration and issuance of such a certificate to be done via the internet and then raise the price considerably, as well as offer worldwide shipping on officially embossed and laminated registration cards. With some good word of mouth marketing, this would be an extremely popular gift to get martial arts students the world over who reach certain proficiency levels, whether they ever have any plans to visit Guam or not.

On that note, other than Guam, the only places where you can even try to register your deadly hands as such are in various fighting schools we could find who sell novelty certificates to students who reach a certain threshold in their training.

So that’s the yes and no. What about the nuance?

While it is true that in most of the world you do not have to register your deadly hands, it turns out the fact that you do have that training is extremely likely to come up in any court case in which you used your skills in a fight, with potentially very serious consequences, as we’ll illustrate later in the famous Con Air Cameron Poe fight, among some real world examples.

But before we get into that, this might all have you wondering how the myth that expert fighters do have to register their hands as deadly weapons became established and so prevalent. While nobody is sure who first got the bright idea, it is the case that professional fighters in the past have occasionally claimed they had to do this. Most notably, for a time it was all the rage for boxers. In these cases, the boxer might, for example, hold up their fists during a press conference and proclaim they had to register said extremities as deadly weapons upon arrival into town and come SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY their opponent will find out just how valid that registration is.

Beyond publicity stunts spreading the myth, Taekwondo 7th Dan Grandmaster and former police officer Darwin J Eisenhart states that some among the particularly well trained actually find getting or making these novelty certificates very practical. It would seem a side effect of being a relatively high profile fighter is that random drunk or “tough guys” at bars like to challenge said fighters to fights, similar to what frequently happened to Abraham Lincoln once he gained the reputation as an expert fighter.

Such official-looking certificates help forestall these conflicts via the fighter flashing the certificate or card they made and explaining to the individual suffering from small penis syndrome that the fighter cannot engage in such a contest of manhood because it could result in said fighter getting charged with assault with a deadly weapon, regardless of the outcome of the fight.

As Eisenhart elaborates, “There was no legal standing for these claims, and no one was actually ‘officially’ registered or required to announce in advance that they had training, but most of them did this to avoid fights rather than state it as a brag or boast…”

Hollywood, of course, has done a great job further spreading the myth as well.

Now, all that said, it turns out that while the cards themselves weren’t official, the reasoning these fighters were stating it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to get into such a fight was completely valid.

You see, much like as you’re not required to register a walking stick, car, steak knife, or a dog as a deadly weapon, all four can unequivocally be considered such by the courts in the right set of circumstances. Similarly, regardless of whether you’re an expert fighter, pretty much every part of your body can be considered by the courts to be a deadly weapon in the right set of circumstances, depending on how you use said body part. For example, in the past, U.S. courts have found everything from knees to elbows to teeth to be deadly weapons in court cases.

A very important thing to note about all this is that, again, in many regions of the world, those who are highly trained in hand to hand combat will often have a much greater chance of having a court decide that the person’s body parts are to be considered deadly weapons.

The result of this is that it’s much easier for that person to be found guilty of a criminal or felony assault than a normal person who might be charged with a simple misdemeanor assault for the same set of actions and events.

On top of that, in some regions and sets of circumstances, it doesn’t even matter if you were the one being attacked and simply were defending yourself, as we’ll get into in a bit.

The distinction between these two legal classifications is rather important as, in the U.S. and many other regions, something like a misdemeanor assault might result in only a small fine to pay and/or a little bit of jail time, but not usually significant. In contrast, a Felony assault’s minimums will probably see a fine of at least several thousands dollars and very likely also include lengthy incarceration, even up to life in prison if the assault resulted in a death.

Thus, in all of this, while technically outside of Guam the letter of the law doesn’t distinguish between a random Jimmy Layabout and Bruce Lee, it turns out in criminal and civil proceedings this is most definitely going to be factored in.

As a real world example here, consider the words of Judge John Hurley who was ruling over a road-rage case that included an ex-marine and very skilled mixed martial artist by the name of Fernando Rodrigues. Judge Hurley states, “I’ve always thought that if you are a black belt in karate or you are an expert in martial arts, that your hands and feet would be considered weapons.”

Perhaps it is no surprise from this that said judge ruled, “The court believes at this time that [Rodrigues’] hands and feet are considered, for probable cause, to be deadly weapons.”

Similarly, many a jury member may hold the exact same opinion, ultimately biasing them somewhat against the professional fighter in a given assault case, especially as the opposing attorney will absolutely be shoving this fact down the jurors’ throats.

For yet another real world case, we have an incident involving one Jamal Parks of Texas in 2013. Parks first got in a fight with one of his friends, resulting in the police being called. When police arrived to the scene, Parks beat the crap out of one of the officers as well. In this case, because Parks was a mixed martial arts fighter, the court went ahead and considered his hands to be deadly weapons and he was charged with Felony Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, rather than going with a lesser charge as would have likely been the case if he was just some Jimmy Crapface. District attorney Bill Vassar noted on this one, “It’s pretty unusual, but in this instance — because he is an MMA fighter — we thought it was appropriate to charge his hands as deadly weapons.”

Jumping across the pond to Merry Ol’ England, we have a rather tragic assault against an 18 year old named Daniel Christie. Christie was walking with friends on New Years’ when they encountered a scuffle where a rather large individual was attacking some much smaller teens, prompting Christie to apparently approach and yell at the man “Why are you hitting kids?”

Well, it turns out the group of teens had offered to sell drugs to the rather muscular man, Shaun McNeil, as well as apparently made some comments about McNeil’s girlfriend which McNeil apparently wasn’t too happy about. The slightly inebriated McNeil declined the offer for drugs, but after the comments about his lady, there was some sort of fight between them, with McNeil knocking one of the teens down.

When Christie and his group approached and Christie yelled his question at McNeil, McNeil subsequently misinterpreted Christie and his friends with being with the other teens and punched Daniel in the face, as well as punched Daniel’s brother, Peter.

Unfortunately for McNeil and the Christie family, while you wouldn’t normally expect a single blow to the face to cause serious long term damage, in this case when Christie hit the ground, said unyielding surface shattered part of his skull. The result was that, 11 days later, Daniel’s family had to say their goodbyes and had the doctors turn off life support.

As to the court case, given McNeil was a highly trained fighter, it was decided to charge him with murder instead of manslaughter, despite it being very questionable that there was any murderous intent.

The court did, in the end, rule McNeil not-guilty of murder. But he wasn’t off the hook. They instead convicted him of manslaughter. As to the ultimate ruling and sentencing, Justice Hulme cited McNeil’s training in MMA and background in body building (thus his hands being more deadly than most), as well as McNeil’s rather large size compared to Daniel’s (thus Daniel could have not possibly posed any real threat to him). On top of that, witnesses claimed that once McNeil approached to punch, Daniel attempted to retreat the situation and put his hands up and said “no”. This, again, demonstrated Daniel had posed no threat to McNeil, despite the somewhat inebriated McNeil allegedly interpreting the situation as him being surrounded by a unified group of drug dealing, potentially hostile teens.

Further going against him, McNeil had something of a history of getting into random, often alcohol induced, fights with his rather deadly hands and seemingly had not learned his lesson from previous more minor run-ins with the authorities over such. Thus, after explaining all his reasoning, for this single punch, Justice Hulme sentenced McNeil to a maximum of 10 years in prison, with the earliest possibility of parole after 7.

The point being in all of this- if one is an expert fighter and is considering attacking anyone, they are in many regions of the world going to be at a higher risk of having the courts level much more severe charges against them than Jimmy Couchpotato.

Now, of course, Jimmy Couchpotato still could potentially have similar charges leveled against him if the court deems he used extreme degrees of force, such as curb stomped someones’ head into the ground or the like- even if that someone had been the one to initially attack. But should Mr. Couchpotato punch someone in the face once and accidentally kill a person with that single blow, they are more likely to face lesser charges than if Bruce Lee did the exact same thing.

So how can Mr. Lee (and indeed your average Joe) help ensure things go smoothly in court when it comes to self defense?

It’s important to note that what constitutes acceptable self-defense is an incredibly nebulous concept with varying laws from region to region, including even varying from state to state in the United States. Beyond varying laws, determining culpability can be extremely difficult, especially when factoring in both civil and criminal courts and often conflicting first hand accounts of what happened and exactly when and how.

That caveat out of the way, while rules differ, there are a handful of things you can do to help yourself out in the general case. First, if evidence shows that you attempted to de-escalate the situation in words or actions, that’s a point in your favor. Further, if it can be shown that you attempted to exit the situation, that’s another point. In fact, there are actually some regions where you are required, if at all possible, to attempt to retreat before defending yourself. (Note even in these regions, if you’re in your home, you usually are not required to attempt to exit the situation. Though, contrary to popular belief, in most regions this still doesn’t give you carte blanche to use whatever force you please to the person who entered your home without your consent. Proportional force to the perceived threat still applies.)

Just another quick note here as well, also contrary to popular belief, in most regions, you are not required to wait for the attacker to throw the first blow. If the attack is very clearly imminent, such as someone running at you and yelling they are going to put a dent in your face, you can strike first and have that be considered self defense. It’s simply that, once again, in many cases it can potentially be another point in your favor if the other person is the one that attempts the first blow.

So you’ve done all that, and the fight starts anyway. What now? Most laws concerning this sort of thing in many parts of the world usually say something like that the person defending themselves is free to use up to the minimum force required to protect themselves from harm.

As you can imagine, what constitutes “minimum force required” can vary considerably from case to case. You can also see from this why an expert fighter might be much more prone to getting into trouble while defending themselves. They are much better at inflicting an awful lot of damage with a single blow compared to most, and, on top of that, have much more experience than most at knowing what kind of damage they will do with a given blow- thus more likely that a judge or jury might deem that inflicting that excessive damage was intentional.

So, for example, if Jimmy Crapface comes at Bruce Lee with his fists, and Lee responds by a quick and decisive kick to the head which then breaks Jimmy’s skull, killing him, there’s a non-zero chance the prosecutor might level some rather serious charges against Lee and leave it up to a judge or jury to sort the matter out. After all, while Jimmy was the attacker- and being Jimmy absolutely deserved death- he only brought fists and being a Grade A asshole to the fight. In contrast, Bruce Lee knowingly brought a deadly weapon- his foot, and then used it in a way that he was expert enough to know could cause deadly damage. Thus, Lee could be deemed to have, essentially, brought a gun to a fist fight, and then used it.

Further, even if the criminal court ultimately decided to let Mr. Lee off (because Lee did the world a favor by offing Jimmy), should Jimmy’s family choose to sue Lee over the death, there’s yet another round of proceedings to contend with where the ruling very much might go against Lee. (That said, on the civil case side of things, this is region dependent as, for example, 22 states in the U.S. have rules against an attacker suing for subsequent injuries, even if excessive force was ultimately used by the defender.)

Of course, if you feel your life is in danger for some reason, such as if the attacker is coming at you with a knife, you are free to use deadly force to a point. As to the limits, let’s say the attacker comes at you, tries to stab you, and you then deflect the blow. In so doing, you cause the attacker to drop their knife. After the knife is dropped, you then use a severe blow that has the possibility of causing deadly damage. Unfortunately for you, given that the attacker no longer offers a deadly threat to you, having just dropped the knife, you once again are in danger of the court ruling that you used excessive force and, given you are an expert fighter, more likely they’ll also rule that your hands be deemed deadly weapons.

Of course, in all of this, a variety of factors are also considered including, among many other things, your size relative to your opponent (such as was brought up in the aforementioned Daniel Christie case), whether there are multiple attackers, whether it was likely that the attacker might recover the knife and try to use it against you, if the attacker seemed to be on some sort of drugs that might require deadly force to get them to stop, even if they are unarmed themselves, etc. etc. And, of course, what the exact sequence of events were in the fight is going to be closely looked at, though is a rather difficult thing to accurately determine in many cases, further muddying the waters.

So let’s now look at the Con Air fight which illustrates many of these points. In it, at no point did Cameron Poe try to de-escalate the situation with words, nor try to exit the approaching fight. In fact, when the attackers first started to approach from a distance, Poe was standing right next to his open car door with no imminent threat present. Thus, he could have simply got in and drove away, as his wife was begging him to do. Instead, he stepped away from the car towards the attackers, actually purposefully escalating the situation. The group of “hounddogs” then attacked and Poe defended himself against all of them but one in a perfectly reasonable way that would have caused him no issue in court.

But, of course, there was the matter of the person he killed. Unfortunately for him, there were no witnesses other than the combatants to that part of the fight. It was simply his word against the remaining attackers that the one he killed tried to use a knife against him. With no physical evidence that the attacker posed a deadly threat, as the knife was taken (and presumably the other attackers claiming no such knife existed), it is not out of the question for the court to rule both that Poe used excessive force to defend himself, and that he intentionally brought and used a deadly weapon to a fight where the attackers only brought fists.

Granted, there were multiple attackers and one Cameron Poe, so it might have been possible for Poe’s lawyer to try to argue that even without evidence of a knife, Poe feared for his life given he was surrounded- as ever nothing is black and white. However, given Poe more or less willingly entered the fight, arguing that he was afraid for his life is a bit of a stretch. Further, at the point he killed the attacker, he had already incapacitated everyone else. So it was just one on one. So that argument probably wouldn’t have gone far.

Thus, given all the pertinent facts that the court was aware of (including, again, no evidence of a knife outside of Poe saying there was), the ultimate ruling was perfectly reasonable given the letter of the law. Just because someone attacks you doesn’t give you the right to intentionally use deadly force against them, and the court is especially not going to be on your side if they know you had a chance to leave the situation and, rather than doing that, actually willingly entered it.

Granted, what the Judge said in his ruling about Poe not being subject to the same laws as a normal person was all a bunch of crap, and his lawyer seemingly screwed him over to boot, but the ultimate ruling even if he hadn’t plead guilty wasn’t unrealistic.

At least one thing Poe did have in his favor was that Alabama law does not allow attackers to sue for damages should the one they are attacking inflict such. So while he was convicted in the criminal court, he at least wouldn’t have faced any civil suits later.

But to sum up, while outside of Guam nobody is actually registering their hands as deadly weapons, should you actually be highly trained in hand to hand combat, you still want to approach any fight as if the courts will consider your body parts deadly weapons, whether you are attacking or are the one being attacked.

If being attacked- attempt to de-escalate the situation with words and/or leave. If that fails, then use the absolute minimum force possible to end the fight, and then resist the urge to do anything else after your opponent is incapacitated. Even a single blow after they are no longer a threat to you could be awfully expensive for you in a civil court proceeding, and may have very serious criminal ramifications on top of it.

The plus side of all of this is that, while you the expert fighter might not be able to use “my hands are registered as deadly weapons” as a pick up line for the ladies, you could technically rephrase it a bit for the same effect- “Parts of my body are more likely to be considered a deadly weapon in court given the right set of circumstances, varying based on region and exactly what I do with them in the fight. And baby, I know what to do with my body parts.”

And when that doesn’t work. Well, move to Guam. No doubt the ladies will throw themselves at you when you have the official certificate.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Russia, Syria, and Iran are no match for just 2,000 US troops

Since the US-led effort against ISIS has destroyed almost all of the terror group’s territorial sovereignty in Syria, 2,000 or so US forces remain in control of the country’s rich oil fields— something that Iran, Syria’s government, and Russia openly oppose.


But unfortunately for Russia, pro-Syrian government forces, and Iranian militias, there’s not much they can do about it.

A small US presence in a western town called Der Ezzor has maintained an iron grip on the oilfields and even repelled an advance of hundreds of Russian mercenaries and pro-Syrian government forces in a massive battle that became a lopsided win for the US.

Also read: US troops in Syria prepare for more Russian attacks

Russia has advanced weapons systems in Syria, pro-Syrian militias have capable Russian equipment, and Iran has about 70,000 troops in the country. On paper, these forces could defeat or oust the US and the Syrian rebels it backs, but, in reality, it would likely be a losing battle, according to an expert.

US forces at risk, but not as much as anyone who would attack them

(Photo by US Marine Corps)

“They have the ability to hurt US soldiers, it’s possible,” Tony Badran, a Syria expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. But “if they do that, they’ll absolutely be destroyed.”

According to Badran, even if Russia wanted a direct fight against the US military in Syria, something that he and other experts seriously doubt, the Syrian government-aligned forces don’t stand much of a chance.

More: No one is afraid of Russia’s advanced fighter plane in Syria

“I think the cruise missile attack in April 2017 showed, and the ongoing Israeli incursions show, the Russian position and their systems are quite vulnerable,” said Badran, referring to the US’s April 2017 strike on a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack in the country. Though Russia has stationed high-end air defenses in Syria to protect its assets, that did not stop the US when President Donald Trump’s administration decided to punish the Syrian air force with 59 cruise missiles.

Russia has just a few dozen jets in Syria, mostly suited for ground-attack roles with some air supremacy fighters. The US has several large bases in the area from which it can launch a variety of strike and fighter aircraft, including the world’s greatest fighter jet, the F-22.

Russia’s military aircraft at a base in Syria. (Photo by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.)

Iran has a large inventory of rockets in and around Syria, according to Badran, but an Iranian rocket attack on US forces would be met by a much larger US retaliation.

“It’s vulnerable,” Badran said of Iran’s military presence in Syria. “It’s exposed to direct US fire, just like it’s exposed to direct Israeli fire.”

If Iran fired a single missile at US forces, “then the bases and depot and crew will be destroyed after that,” said Badran, who added that Iranian forces in Syria have poor supply lines that would make them ill-suited to fighting the US, which has air power and regional assets to move in virtually limitless supplies.

Related: Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria

Badran noted that before the US entered the Syrian conflict, ISIS fighters, whose training and equipment pales in comparison to the US’s forces, had good success in disrupting Iranian-aligned militias’ supply lines “even though they’re under bombardment.”

“Imagine what it would be like” if Iranian militias had to fight against the full power of the US military, Badran added.

Syria’s military has struggled for years to take territory from Syrian rebels, some of whom do not receive any funding and backing from the US. With Syria’s government focused on overcoming the civil war in the country’s more populous east, it’s unlikely they could offer any meaningful challenge to US forces in the country’s west.

The US defending itself is a given and Russia, Iran, or Syria would be too bold to question that

(Photo by US Air Force)

“Everybody poses this question as though the US is Luxembourg,” Badran said, comparing the US, which has the most powerful military in the world, to Luxembourg, which has a few hundred troops and only some diplomatic or economic leverage to play with while conducting foreign policy.

For now, the US has announced its intentions to stay in Syria and sit on the oil fields to deny the government the funds to reconstruct the country. Syria’s government has ties to massive human rights violations throughout the seven-year-long civil war and its ruler, Bashar Assad, clings to power in the face of popular uprisings.

While the US has failed to oust Assad or even meaningfully decrease the suffering of Syrian people, it remains a force incredibly capable of defending itself.

Articles

Senator McCain and General Welsh scuffle over the A-10’s fate

As Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 3, controversy erupted when he mentioned the service’s plans to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known to troops as the “Warthog” and largely regarded as the most effective close air support aircraft in the inventory today.


Airman Brandon Kempf, 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant dedicated A-10 Thunderbolt II crew chief, watches as an aircraft taxis into position after landing May 9, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz)

For years, the USAF fought with congressional leaders about the fate of the Warthog.  Congress laid down the law in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, requiring that the Air Force find a viable replacement for the airframe’s close-air support role before they would be allowed to retire it.

Originally, the Air Force tried to wedge the F-35 program into the CAS requirement, but Congress flat-out rejected it as an option. Thus, the A-10 was given a stay of execution until a congressionally-mandated, independent study determined the Air Force has such a suitable replacement.

In his recent testimony, Gen. Welsh told the Senate the USAF will use the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-15E Strike Eagle to fly close air support missions; however, those options didn’t work for the SASC, especially not the chairman, Senator John McCain, a former Navy attack pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent six years as a POW in Hanoi.

Col. Mark Anderson (Tail No. 188), 188th Fighter Wing commander; Maj. Doug Davis (Tail No. 639), 188th Detachment 1 commander; Col. Brian Burger (Tail No. 613), 188th Operations Group commander; and Capt. Wade Hendrickson (Tail No. 638) conduct a training mission Dec. 30, 2013, over Razorback Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch)

“You have nothing to replace [the A-10] with, General,” McCain shot back. “Otherwise you would be using F-15s and the F-16s of which you have plenty of, but you’re using the A-10 because it’s the most effective weapons system. This is really, unfortunately disingenuous.”

As well as being the most tailored for the CAS mission, the A-10 also has the lowest cost per flight hour at $19,051 compared to the F-35 at $67,550, the F-16 at $22,470, and the F-15E at $41,921.

When Welsh tried to press the issue, McCain called his testimony “embarrassing.”

Capt. Richard Olson, 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot, prepares to take flight at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2011. A-10s can survive direct hits from armor-piecing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. (U.S. Air Force photo)

“Every Air Force pilot that I know will tell you that the most effective close air support system is the A-10,” McCain said.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

This B-21 bomber patch just appeared on Ebay

At least officially, there are no existing prototypes of the B-21 Raider, the U.S. Air Force’s next stealth bomber built by Northrop Grumman and destined to replace the B-1 and B-2 fleets.

In 2016, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first artist rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, that showed a concept quite similar to the B-2’s flying wing design; then, more recently, on Mar. 3, 2018, Brigadier General Carl Schaefer, Commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, publicly announced that the aircraft will be tested at Edwards: “the B-21 is coming to Edwards and we will be testing it here in the near future,” he said in his address at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and Business Outlook Conference.


The fact that the aircraft will be tested “in the near future” seems to suggest that a prototype of the new platform has already been built or is about to be readied for testing.

Meanwhile something interesting, that might confirm the B-21 is something more than a concept, popped up on eBay: journalist and photographer Steve Douglass, has just found a B-21 Combined Test Force patch.

B-21 Combined Test Force patch.

Flying units under the 412nd Operations Group of the 412nd TW are called flight test squadrons (FTS) and the squadron commander also usually fulfills the role of Combined Test Force, or CTF, Director.

“The CTF is an organizational construct that brings together the government developmental test and evaluation personnel (i.e., military personnel and government civilians and support contractors), the operational testers or representatives of the warfighters who will eventually employ the aerospace system in combat, and the contractors who develop and test the aerospace system.

Members of the CTF formulate the test program, develop the criteria for flight test missions, execute flight test missions, analyze data from the test flights and report on the results. The CTF military personnel, government civilians, and contractors all work together as a team. This concept enables a cheaper, faster, and more effective test program and produces a more effective aerospace system for the warfighter.”

Ebay screenshot ofu00a0B-21 Combined Test Force patch.

For instance, the 411th Flight Test Squadron acts as the F-22 Raptor CFT whereas the 419th FTS acts as the Strategic Systems (B-52, B-1, B-2) CFT. Provided it is genuine, the new patch may suggest the existence of a B-21 CTF dedicated to the new bomber.

Interestingly, the patch features the text “Praenuntius” that means “Harbinger” and the Roman numerals XVII (17) with the latters [speculation on] possibly pointing to a squadron: the 417th FTS, officially inactivated on Feb. 14, 2012, formerly part of the 412th OG at Edwards AFB….

The seller has explained that organizations, personnel and infrastructure at Edwards AFB are all beginning to stand up in preparation for the testing and he purchased the patch there from personnel who are standing up the testing of the new aircraft. We don’t have many details about the aircraft but collectors can get the patch ahead of the unveiling.

By the way, at the time of writing the patch costs $31 (6 bids) but it is probably going to become more expensive…

Articles

Putin says Russia is pulling its forces from Syria

Russia announced today that they are pulling most of their forces out of Syria because Russian air and missile strikes there over the last six months have allowed the Syrian government to push back rebels in many key areas.


“I hope that today’s decision will be a good signal for all parties to the conflict,” Putin said on state television. “I hope that this will considerably increase the level of trust between all parties of the Syrian settlement and will contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Syrian issue.”

Russia will keep forces at its new air force base in Latakia, Syria. The base was carved out of Bassel Al-Assad International Airport in 2015 and has been the central hub for Russian air operations in Syria. Russian forces will also remain at the Cold War-era naval base in Tartus, Syria.

Russian Hind helicopters launch rockets. Photo: Alex Beltyukov CC BY-SA 3.0

According to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Russian mission in Syria flew over 9,000 sorties and helped the Syrian government retake 400 settlements and 3,860 sq. miles of territory.

The Syrian government was teetering on the edge of collapse before the Russians intervened, but now it has forces surrounding the rebel stronghold of Aleppo. In February, government forces took sections of the city before their supply lines were cut by ISIS attacks.

Putin’s announcement that Russian forces were withdrawing came the same day that peace talks resumed in Geneva, Switzerland. Earlier talks had resulted in a shaky ceasefire but the Syrian government was accused multiple times of breaking the terms of the deal. The timing has led to speculation that Putin’s announcement was timed to place pressure on President Bashir Al-Assad to seek a peace deal.

Any deal would not directly affect operations against ISIS as the terror group is not party to the negotiations. But, a truce between government forces and moderate rebels would allow both groups to focus more resources and manpower against ISIS.