Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The US Air Force is ordering more hypersonic weapons as the competition with Russia and China heats up.

The service awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Monday to develop the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), a hypersonic weapon prototype expected to cost no more than $480 million to design, according to an Air Force press release.


“We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in an official statement.

The request is the second such request for hypersonic weapons from the Air Force in 2018.

The service awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for a Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) in April 2018, just a few weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about some of the hypersonic systems Russia is presently developing, such as the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle expected to be mounted on the country’s Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

The latest request from the US Air Force comes about one week after China tested a new hypersonic aircraft, a high-speed strike platform that some expert observers say could evade air and missile defenses to obliterate enemy targets with both conventional and nuclear payloads.

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The Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2) hypersonic experimental waverider vehicle designed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics in Beijing can reportedly travel at six times the speed of sound (Mach 6). The waverider is a type of hypersonic aircraft that rides the shock waves generated during hypersonic flight.

The speed, as well as the unpredictable flight trajectories, of these vehicles make them particularly difficult for existing defense systems to intercept. Chinese military experts suspect that the system is still three to five years away from being weaponized.

Senior leadership from the Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, Navy, and Army all signed a memorandum of agreement in late June to strengthen American hypersonic capabilities.

“The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in an official statement. “We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.”

While the Air Force is pursuing hypersonic weapons of its own, US Strategic Command and the Missile Defense Agency are trying to figure out how to bolster American defenses to protect the homeland against the growing hypersonic threat.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t shoot it,” Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in March 2018. “We have globally deployed sensors today, but — just look at the globe — there are gaps. What we are looking towards is to move the sensor architecture to space and use that advantage of space, in coordination with our ground assets, to remove the gaps.”

“Why is that important? The hypersonic threat,” he asked and answered.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Only a handful of the Air Force’s B-1 bombers are ready to deploy

Despite high demand, there are only a handful of B-1B Lancer bombers available to take off at a moment’s notice.

The head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Air Force Gen. John Hyten, told Senate Armed Services Committee members the service has only six bombers that are ready to deploy.

“We have B-1B bombers; this is the workhorse of the Air Force today,” Hyten said during his tense confirmation hearing to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


“Right now, of all of our B-1 bombers, we have six of them that are fully mission capable: five split between Ellsworth Air Force Base [South Dakota] and Dyess Air Force Base [Texas], one is a test aircraft, 15 B-1s are in depot,” he said. “The remaining 39 of 44 B-1s at Ellsworth and at Dyess are down for a variety of discrepancies and inspections.”

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Air Force Central Command, takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gracie I. Lee)

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) officials told Task Purpose on July 31, 2019, there are seven fully mission capable bombers.

Hyten said the B-1 has borne the brunt of constant deployment cycles.

“We saw issues in the B-1 because we’re just beating the heck out of them, deploying them, deploying them. And so we had to pull back a little bit and get after fixing those issues. And the depots can do that if they have stable funding,” he said.

Gen. Tim Ray, commander of AFGSC, agreed that demand has outstripped available aircraft.

During a speech at the Deterrence Symposium in Nebraska on July 31, 2019, Ray spoke about “setting the pace” for deterrence, saying that sometimes the demand for resources wins out.

Earlier in 2019, Ray said the Air Force overcommitted its only supersonic heavy payload bomber to operations in the Middle East over the last decade, causing it to deteriorate more quickly than expected.

“We overextended the B-1s in [U.S. Central Command],” he told reporters during a breakfast with reporters April 17, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Ray said that’s why he recalled the aircraft to the U.S. to receive upgrades and maintenance to prepare for the next high-end fight.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagle fly in formation during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Cupit)

“Normally, you would commit — [with] any bomber or any modern combat aircraft — about 40 percent of the airplanes in your possession as a force, [not including those] in depot,” he explained. “We were probably approaching the 65 to 70 percent commit rate [for] well over a decade. So the wear and tear on the crews, the maintainers, and certainly the airplane, that was my cause for asking for us to get out of the CENTCOM fight.”

Last year, B-1s returned to the Middle East for the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years to take over strike missions from the B-52 Stratofortress. The last rotation of bombers from Dyess returned home March 11, 2019, according to Air Force Magazine.

By the end of March 2019, Ray had ordered a stand-down, marking the second fleetwide pause in about a year.

AFGSC officials said that, during a routine inspection of at least one aircraft, airmen found a rigged “drogue chute” incorrectly installed in the ejection seat egress system, a problem that might affect the rest of the fleet. Ray said his immediate concern was for the aircrews’ safety.

The aircraft resumed flights April 23, 2019.

The command again grounded the fleet over safety concerns last year over a problem also related to the Lancer’s ejection seats. Officials ordered a stand-down June 7, 2018, which lasted three weeks while the fleet was inspected.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and F-15E Strike Eagles fly in formation during Joint Air Defense Exercise 19-01, Feb. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Cupit)

That pause was the direct result of an emergency landing made by a Dyess-based B-1 on May 1, 2018, at Midland Airport in Texas.

Then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed speculation that the B-1 had to make an emergency landing after an ejection seat didn’t blow during an earlier in-flight problem.

Lawmakers took note this summer: The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee in its markup of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act requested that the Air Force offer a plan for how it will address the B-1’s problems. Committee members were aware that the B-1’s availability rates were in the single digits, according to Air Force Times.

The B-1’s mission-capable rate — the ability to fly at any given time to conduct operations — is 51.75%, according to fiscal 2018 estimates, Air Force Times recently reported. By comparison, its bomber cousins, the B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress, have mission-capable rates of 60.7% and 69.3%, respectively.

The Air Force has 62 Lancers in its fleet. It plans to retire the bombers in 2036.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Elon Musk’s response to embarrassing Cybertruck demo fail

Elon Musk has attempted to save face on Twitter after a demonstration meant to show off the toughness of Tesla’s new Cybertruck pickup went awry.

On Nov. 23, 2019, he posted a short video to Twitter meant to show the Cybertruck’s armored glass windows to be stronger than the average car window.

Here’s the new video, showing Tesla’s lead designer, Franz von Holzhausen, throwing what appeared to be a metal ball at the Cybertruck’s windows:


Musk captioned the video: “Franz throws steel ball at Cybertruck window right before launch. Guess we have some improvements to make before production haha.”

The result in the video was different from Nov. 21, 2019’s live Cybertruck unveiling, where the truck’s armored glass dramatically cracked twice in a row after being hit by a metal ball. During that demo, multiple hard objects were used to hit the truck, including a large sledgehammer.

Though Musk laughed off the mishap onstage, exclaiming, “Oh my f—ing god” and “room for improvement,” the video went viral and Tesla’s stock price sank.

On Nov. 25, 2019, Musk tried to explain why the windows had broken during the live demo but not in earlier tests.

“Sledgehammer impact on door cracked base of glass, which is why steel ball didn’t bounce off,” he said. “Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Next time …”

The Cybertruck is Tesla’s bold, brash first foray into the pickup-truck market — a market it has gradually primed itself to enter as its battery technology has become more powerful. It is made from various tough-sounding materials, including stainless steel and ultra-strong “Armor” glass.

According to Tesla’s website, Tesla plans to begin production of the Cybertruck, which starts at ,900, in late 2021. The vehicle’s most expensive version starts at ,900, and the company says it will have a maximum range of over 500 miles, a maximum towing capacity of over 14,000 pounds, and the ability to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in under 2.9 seconds.

Musk wrote over the weekend that Tesla had received 200,000 preorders so far.

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

Featured

The history and design behind the legendary A-10

We’ve all seen the memes. The A-10 Thunderbolt II, better known as the Warthog, has become the internet’s favorite warplane thanks in large part to its signature ‘BRRRT’ sound that it makes when it fires its massive 30mm gun. It’s highly doubtful that the engineers at Fairchild Republic that designed the A-10 could have anticipated the legendary status that the aircraft they designed would achieve, let alone that it would still be flying, 50 years in the future. After all, while the A-10 was designed to take a beating, it was also designed to be cheap and easy to maintain.


Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

One of the best A-10 memes

There’s no question that the German Panzer tanks were the most thoroughly engineered and well-built tanks of WWII. However, this attention to detail would be their downfall. Because American and Soviet tanks like the M4 Sherman and T-34 were much simpler and cheaper to produce, the allied forces were able to flood the fields of Europe with armor and overwhelm the numerically inferior German tanks. In addition to this, the allies controlled the skies overhead which made German armor easy pickings for ground attack aircraft like the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. The lessons learned through the evolution of warfare would be applied to the P-47s spiritual successor a few decades later in the Cold War.

Following the end of WWII and the creation of the Iron Curtain, the Western allies of NATO embarked on a massive military buildup in order to meet the potential threat of the Warsaw Pact forces. If the Cold War were to heat up, the biggest battleground where these two sides would meet would be the Fulda Gap. Located between the Hesse-Thuringian border and Frankfurt am Main, the Fulda Gap contains two corridors of lowlands that the Soviets would have had to push their armored forces through in order to reach and cross the strategically vital Rhine River. As a result, allied armor was built up heavily in this region. The anticipated battle also influenced weapons doctrine and development at the time.

In order to win a fight on the ground, you had to win the fight in the air. This concept was proven in WWII. While ground forces went toe-to-toe with the enemy, air forces flew behind enemy lines in order to strike logistical targets like supply convoys, factories, roads, and bridges. From this, the doctrine of AirLand Battle was born. It emphasized close coordination between land forces acting as an aggressively maneuvering defense and air forces attacking rear-echelon forces feeding the enemy’s front-line forces. Picture divisions of M60 ‘Patton’ Main Battle Tanks trying to hold off the onslaught of Soviet T-54 and T-54s coming through the Fulda Gap while B-52 Stratofortress bombers flew overhead to destroy the Soviet supply lines feeding their tanks. Without going too in depth, this is AirLand Battle in a nutshell.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Admit it, you played with these; we all did

Another lesson learned from WWII was that tanks were more effective when they worked in concert with close air support. Combined attacks by Sherman tanks and aircraft like the aforementioned P-47 spelled certain doom for German tanks. In order to carry this concept into the Cold War, the United States developed aircraft to fill the CAS role. While the Army was given the AH-64 Apache to kill tanks from the air, the Air Force was given the A-10 Lightning II.

Built by the same company that built the P-47 Thunderbolt (Republic Aviation was acquired by Fairchild Aircraft in 1965 to create Fairchild Republic), the Lightning II was the Fairchild Republic submission to the Air Force’s 1966 A-X aircraft program to acquire a low-cost attack aircraft. In 1970, the Air Force issued a more detailed request for proposals to the program including the mandate that the aircraft be equipped with a 30mm rotary cannon. On January 18, 1973, after a series of tests and trials, the Air Force announced that Fairchild Republic’s submission was selected and would enter production as the A-10. The new aircraft would be equipped with the GAU-8 30mm cannon which would be built by General Electric who won their own government contract in June of the same year.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The source of the ‘BRRRT’

The A-10 was designed to engage enemy armor in close proximity to friendly forces from very low altitude. In order to deliver precision fires and avoid hitting friendly forces, the A-10 was designed to be slow but tough. Its most important component, the pilot, is protected underneath by a titanium tub capable of withstanding armor-piercing and high-explosive rounds up to 23mm in caliber. The canopy, while not as strong, is made of ballistic glass and is capable of resisting small-arms as well as shrapnel from AA fire and missiles to a certain degree. The fuel tanks are separated from the fuselage to reduce the likelihood of damage. The fuel system is also self-sealing and lined with a reticulated polyurethane foam both inside and outside. In the event that all four main tanks are depleted, the A-10 is equipped with two self-sealing sump tanks that contain enough fuel for 230 miles of flight.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The A-10 will do much more than bite your legs off

The tail of the A-10 bears a striking resemblance to WWII-era level bombers. This unusual design increases stability, like it did for those bombers, making the A-10 a very stable gun platform. This attribute is critical for a CAS aircraft. The tail also helps to mask the heat signature of the top-mounted engines. Though its twin GE TF34 turbofan engines produce just over 41 kN of thrust each (compared to the F-15 Eagle’s original Pratt Whitney F100 engines which produced over 100 kN of thrust each), the aircraft is capable of flight with just one engine. Similarly, the hydraulic flight systems are both double-redundant and are equipped with a manual backup system if both hydraulic systems fail. In all, the A-10 can fly with one engine, one half of the tail, one elevator, and half of a wing missing.

Here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for: the A-10’s massive gun. Yes, the GAU-8/A Avenger is bigger than a VW Beetle. Yes, it fires 3,900 rounds per minute (although it was originally designed to fire at either 2,100 or 4,200 rounds per minute as dictated by the pilot). Yes, it goes ‘BRRRT’ when it shoots. As mentioned previously, the A-10 was designed around its gun. Although the gun itself is mounted slightly to the port side of the aircraft, the gun actually fires centerline because the barrel firing location is on the starboard side at 9 o’clock. This is critical since the gun is powerful enough to affect the aircraft’s orientation if it mounted off-center. In fact, the Avenger produces 44.5 kN of rearward thrust when it fires. In theory, the A-10 could stall itself by firing its gun. However, because its rate of fire is so high, pilots usually fire in 1-2 second bursts. Its ammunition is also very special. Made of depleted uranium which is nearly twice as dense as lead and nearly three times as dense as iron, the A-10s 30x173mm rounds are designed to punch through enemy armor like a hot knife through butter. Depleted uranium also sharpens as it penetrates armor whereas tungsten, which is slightly denser, tends to dull on impact. As an added benefit, depleted uranium is cheap and readily available as a byproduct of uranium enrichment. The A-10 can carry up to 1,350 30mm rounds, the casings of which are cycled back into the ammunition drum to prevent them from striking the aircraft or getting sucked into the engines.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

This is basically how DoD acquisitions works

When it comes to design, it doesn’t get much simpler than the A-10. Designed to operate from forward bases with little to no logistical or maintenance support, many of the A-10s components are interchangeable between its port and starboard side, including the engines, main landing gear, and vertical stabilizers. The wing design, sturdy landing gear, and low-pressure tires allow for short takeoffs and landings from even the most rudimentary forward landing strips. Similarly, the high engine placement helps to keep foreign object debris from entering them while operating from semi-prepared runways. The skin of the aircraft is not load-bearing and can be replaced easily in the field. Additionally, whereas most military aircraft require external power sources from ground crews in order to start their engines, the A-10 is equipped with an auxiliary power unit. This allows it to start itself and, again, operate from forward airfields with little to no support. In all, the A-10 is extremely cheap to fly, costing just ,944 per hour of operation. For comparison, the F-16 costs ,278 while the F-35 costs a whopping ,455.

The A-10 is a Cold War aircraft designed to cut through lines of Soviet tanks. Instead, it found renewed purpose in the War on Terror. Its effectiveness on the battlefield made it a favorite of both its pilots and the ground troops that it supported. When Congress threatened to put it on the chopping block, A-10 fans quickly took to the internet to voice their support for the ‘Hog’. Today, just about everyone knows about the A-10. At the very least, they know the sound it makes—’BRRRT’.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Army Guard pilots get Distinguished Flying Cross for engaging Taliban at close range

Two North Carolina National Guard AH-64 Apache pilots received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor last week for providing cover to Army special forces in a remote Afghanistan village in 2018.

Army Capt. Stephen Scott and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Carver, both of the 1-130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, received the medals for their support of the 7th Special Forces Group’s Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 7225 during Task Force Panther, according to a release.


In November 2018, troops from ODA 7225 were dropped off in a remote area of Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province when they began taking heavy enemy fire, the release said. Scott and Carver, flying in an Apache, quickly identified enemy positions and “engaged them after permission was given,” it said.

One of the objectives during the night raid was to capture a senior Taliban Leader in Deh Rawud District, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon P. Faia, ground force commander for Special Forces ODA 7225, said in the release.

Acting as co-pilots and gunners, Scott and Carver were “repeatedly engaging a robust enemy force at … close range to friendly forces,” according to their award citations, obtained by The Fayetteville Observer.

Their steadfast reaction “resulted in a successful mission for ODA 7225 without injuries or loss of lives,” the release said.

Faia hailed their achievement, and said the two were consistently reliable in risky situations.

“Pilots and Green Berets have their own languages,” Faia said. “We could always count on Carver and Scott to chime in and say, ‘Oh yeah, the place you are going to is not safe, but you can count us in.'”

He added, “Immediately we became friends.”

Three months earlier that year, Taliban fighters launched an offensive assault in Ghazni province that spilled over into neighboring districts. Insurgent assaults continued weeks following, with many Afghans fleeing to southwest regions like Uruzgan and where Afghan forces faced off against Taliban fighters, according to the Washington Post.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why do we put our military community at risk with on-base quarantines?

In our small town of Pacific Grove, Calif., an email alerted us that our community would be “hosting” 24 Grand Princess cruise passengers who display mild symptoms of COVID-19. The other California “hosts” are military installations, Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., and Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego.


A press release sent out by the governor’s office tells residents, “We have an opportunity to provide an example of a compassionate humanitarian response,” but omits specific measures being taken to quarantine the passengers and protect the community, which is known for having an elderly population. The town jokes that people move here to die or multiply, with many young residents coming for the excellent schools and the elderly for the moderate climate and breathtaking Monterey coastline.

Why then was this elderly community chosen, despite our population’s median age being 49, over 10 years older than the national average? Because the passengers will be quarantined on government-owned land. This is also why military bases are “go-to” locations for other, more serious cases.
Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The Pacific Grove coastline is just across the street from where the 24 quarantined Grand Princess cruise line passengers are staying. They will be monitored for the next two weeks as part of the state of California’s plan to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

Why is it that the military community is always the first to be put at risk? As a military spouse and mother of three, I’m not so much scared of the Coronavirus as I am perplexed.

If military communities are already being asked to sacrifice more than most, don’t we at least deserve concrete facts on how we are being protected instead of attempts to pull at heartstrings?

The military housing areas on Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station are less than a mile away from where exposed citizens are being housed. I can’t imagine what these military families are feeling. As some previously in quarantine leave, new patients arrive. I hope that they are looped in, that they feel taken care of and reassured that their lives are just as important as those they are being asked to support.

While some communities may be better at communication than others, the press release likely caused more panic than reassurance. Given the current climate, words sent out through official channels carry weight. So instead of adding to the hysteria, I emailed the local public officials quoted in the article for clarification.

No response.

However, within 24 hours, I did get reassurance from every travel-related company I have ever had an online shopping relationship with that they were on top of COVID-19 and take sanitation seriously.

Shortly thereafter, I finally received an update from my daughter’s elementary school, the only reliable source of information. It seems that clarification from public officials was possible. But instead of hearing from the governor’s office again, our small town’s City Manager set the record straight, or as straight as possible given all this confusion.

According to his release, “the state of California made the determination” to temporarily house 24 exposed passengers (less than two miles from my house). Thankfully, it turns out that he did have good news. The 24 have tested negative for the virus and “are not permitted to leave the confines of their hotel rooms.”

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Costco runs feel like hoarding, but they are not. However, you might be a hoarder if you are one of the people who purchased all the paper towels, water and toilet paper.

Slightly relieved, I chuckled when I saw that “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman was trending on Netflix. Watching it served as a reminder that Americans don’t like rules or borders. We rebelled against the British. We conquered lands that weren’t our own. We believe rules are made to be broken. I hope these 24 are rule followers who regret our forefathers breaking from England and “displacing” Native Americans.

Unsurprisingly Costco was packed, leaving me either highly exposed or highly prepared. In the hidden back corner of the warehouse, a lady was positioned, not with samples, but with a clipboard and bouncer-like confidence, “we are out of water, paper towels and toilet paper.”

Twenty four hours after the first press release, I’m not scared of death or quarantine. We have Cheerios, bread, shelf-stable milk, charcoal and… champagne, because if I have to stay in the house with my three kids and husband for a month without toilet paper, I’m gonna need it.

Military Life

Your AAFES coins from deployment may be worth more than you think

When deployed troops buy whatever they need, if they pay in cash, they won’t be given pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters as change. Instead, they’ll be given cardboard coins (colloquially called “pogs,” like the 90s toys). And, now, coin collectors are going crazy for them.


Depending on where in Iraq or Afghanistan troops are stationed, they may have easy access to an AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Service) store. Bigger airfields have larger stores that sell all an airman could want — meanwhile, outlying FOBs are just happy that their AAFES truck didn’t blow up this month.

Giving cardboard in return for cash isn’t some complex scheme to screw troops out of their 85 cents. Logistically speaking, transporting a bunch of quarters to and from a deployed area is, to put it bluntly, a heavy waste of time. While a pocket full of quarters may not seem like much, having to stock every single cash register would be a headache. So AAFES, the only commercial service available to troops, decided in November 2001 to forgo actual coins in favor of cardboard credit.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carrie Bernard)

The AAFES coins aren’t legal tender. They are, essentially, gift certificates valid only at AAFES establishments. If troops can manage to hold on to their cardboard coin collection throughout a deployment, they can exchange the coins for actual money at any non-deployed AAFES customer service desk. Occasionally, AAFES runs promotions that gave double-value to troops returning their pogs — but troops who decline to cash in might be getting the best value in the end.

The weirdest thing about the AAFES pogs is the collectors’ community that has grown from it. Coin collectors everywhere have been going crazy for our AAFES pogs. On eBay, you can typically find a set of mint-condition paper coins going for ridiculous prices. Of course, like every collector’s item, complete sets and the older coins go for much more.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race
I get that it’s a typo on President Reagan’s name, but seriously… that was just worth five cents. (Screengrab via eBay)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what happened to the F-35 that mysteriously disappeared

The F-35 that went missing in April 2019 crashed after the pilot lost his spatial awareness and slammed the fighter into the Pacific Ocean at almost 700 mph, the Japanese defense ministry said June 10, 2019, according to multiple reports.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter piloted by Maj. Akinori Hosomi of the 3rd Air Wing’s 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron mysteriously vanished from radar on April 9, 2019, about 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.

The US and Japan dispatched military assets to assist in search and rescue operations. The US ended its search in May 2019, but the Japanese military kept going until last week.


“We believe it highly likely,” Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya explained to reporters June 10, 2019, “the pilot was suffering from vertigo or spatial disorientation and wasn’t aware of his condition. It can affect any pilot regardless of their experience.” The 41-year-old major had over 3,200 flight hours, including 60 hours on the F-35, under his belt at the time of the crash.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Senior leaders from Japan’s Ministry of Defense, US Forces Japan, Pacific Air Forces, and Lockheed Martin at a Japan Air Self-Defense Force hangar to welcome the first operational F-35A Lightning II to JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 24, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

This conclusion was reached after careful analysis of the radar and flight control data, as well as conversations with other F-35 pilots.

The pilot did not send out a distress signal indicating that he thought he was in trouble, and there is no indication he tried to eject. Furthermore, there is no evidence the major tried to pull up as the fighter’s onboard proximity warning system, which was presumably alerting him of an imminent collision, Reuters reported.

The Japanese defense ministry has ruled out a loss of consciousness or any problem with the plane as an explanation for the crash. Nonetheless, all Japanese F-35 pilots are being re-trained on avoiding spatial disorientation and gravity-induced loss of consciousness. All of its stealth fighters are currently grounded.

The ministry said in a statement that the fifth-generation fighter, following a rapid descent from an altitude of 31,500 feet, was flying 1,000 feet above the ocean’s surface at a speed of about 1,100 kph (683 mph) when the jet inexplicably disappeared from radar, according to Stars and Stripes. The defense ministry explained that the aircraft was destroyed “and parts and fragments scattered across the sea bottom.”

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The aircraft, designated AX-6, is the second F-35A assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 Final Assembly Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan and is the first to be assigned to the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

(ASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.)

On June 3, 2019, Japan called off the search for the missing fighter and the remains of the pilot, who was declared deceased at a press conference on June 7, 2019, after it was confirmed that body parts found among wreckage discovered shortly after the accident were those of Maj. Hosomi.

The flight data recorder was found during a later deep-water search, but the memory was lost, leaving many questions unanswered.

“It is truly regrettable that we lost such an excellent pilot,” Iwaya said late last week. “We truly respect Maj. Hosomi, who was lost while devotedly performing his duty and we extend our heartfelt condolences and offer our deepest sympathies to the family.”

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

popular

Watch these glorious videos of terrorist drug labs being destroyed

There are certain things that just put a smile on every veteran’s face. The first smell of a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, a child saying their first swear word, dogs jumping on their owners after they return from a deployment, and, of course, watching terrorist pieces of sh*t get blown to hell by precision-guided munitions. It’s the little things in life.


One of the key revenue streams of the Taliban comes from cultivating, manufacturing, and smuggling drugs. Nearly 90% of the heroin in the world comes from Afghanistan and 98% of that heroin comes from Taliban-controlled regions, which accounts for up to 60% of the Taliban’s half-a-billion dollar annual income. Not only do these labs directly fund terrorism, but the cultivation of the opium poppy fields outside them are often done using child and slave labor.

Destroying these labs and burning the fields is key to stopping terrorists in Afghanistan, which is exactly what Afghan National Police and the U.S. military have been up to in Afghanistan lately, employing 2 tons of laser-guided freedom at a time.

On Dec. 30, 2017, 24 precision-guided munitions were dropped on a Taliban drug lab and fighting position — setting a new record for munitions dropped from a B-52.

Since November, the ANDSF and U.S. forces in Afghanistan have destroyed more than 35 narcotics facilities, removing more than $30 million in direct revenue from the Taliban.
The average JDAM costs around $25,000. Each lab can generate over $1M every few months.
One of the primary reasons ISIS moved into Afghanistan was to gain control of the Taliban’s drug cartel. Thankfully, there’s more than enough ‘Murica to go around!
Everybody loves the A-10 Thunderbolt II for its BRRRRRT, but they also make things go “boom” very nicely.
In all seriousness, the shift to hitting the Taliban in the wallet has greatly weakened the recently emboldened terrorists. The Afghan National Defense and Security Force has been more successful than ever in regaining control of their country.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Kyle Lamb has lived a life most couldn’t even dream of. He grew up in a small town in South Dakota, but by the age of 24 he had been selected into the most elite special operations unit in the military. He went on to serve in “The Unit” for the next 15 years with deployments to Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq on multiple occasions (among many others).

Since Lamb’s retirement from the U.S. Army, he has authored two books on topics ranging from marksmanship to leadership and founded Viking Tactics, Inc., which specializes in tactical training and equipment. You may have even seen some of his articles in Guns & Ammo magazine or his face on the Outdoor Channel.


Coffee, or Die Magazine recently caught up with the retired sergeant major to talk about everything from combat in Mogadishu to his passion for history. Check it out:

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Lamb while serving overseas.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

You spent the vast majority of your career as a member of the military’s premiere special missions unit. There’s a lot of mystique that (rightfully) surrounds that world, but what is the one thing that would surprise most people about what it’s like to live that life?

Probably how normal those guys are. Not everyone there is like that, but there are a lot of really normal husbands and dads. They go to work in street clothes, then put on their commando costume and go do crazy stuff. Everyone expects those guys to look and act a certain way, but a lot of them aren’t like that at all. Their neighbors don’t even know what they do. It’s just a different world.

Looking back, what was the scariest “oh-shit” moment in your career?

I think probably the one that stands out the most was being in Somalia in a big gun fight and thinking, We’re done, we’re not gonna make it out of this. I said a prayer and decided to just do the best I can and not be a coward. That doesn’t mean you don’t have the pucker factor though. I don’t think you ever get to the point where you know how you’re gonna act in that sort of situation.

Once you get to a certain level in your training, and once I became a troop sergeant major, my biggest scare then was when we were getting ready to go out. I didn’t want anything to happen to my guys. Not so concerned about myself — I knew I was with the best group of guys, best medics, best equipment — I just didn’t want anyone to get jacked up on the mission.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Lamb performing shooting drills at a range.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb/Viking Tactics, Inc.)

What was your plan when you retired from the military?

I was scared to death but what helped me was that I had prepared myself pretty well before I got out. I already had 42 weeks of range classes booked before I got out. So I knew the first year I was gonna be working, making decent money, and I just hoped I would survive after that.

Well, the first year was difficult, but not because of work — I mean, I worked my butt off — it was because of separation anxiety and not having a mission. Luckily, I was around a lot of law enforcement and military guys though, which helped.

You seem to be a student of history. With the U.S. on its 17th straight year at war, how do you think this era will be viewed in future history books?

I’m a diehard history reader, studier, listener — whatever I can do. I haven’t always been that way though. I had a guy on my team named Earl Fillmore who died in Somalia. He would ask me questions about the Civil War, and I didn’t know the answers. He would say, “Man, you’re dumb.” So he gave me this book about Nathan Bedford Forrest. I read this book and thought, This is awesome, and it’s a true story.

So that really got me going with all history. I think being military guys, we definitely need to be students of history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. And if you don’t like to read books, then listen to podcasts or audiobooks.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Lamb while serving overseas.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

I think the war is one thing, but what we do at home during that war is the important thing. We’ve always had good warriors out doing good things, but now we have good warriors that are a smaller percentage of the population. And we said we’re gonna do this, and we went out and did this stuff for God and country, and I think the people who read history will say we had the greatest army in the world.

Yet we have more problems at home than a lot of other countries. I feel like we are so separated right now. It’s gonna read one of two ways: “Wow, they had the greatest army,” or “They ruined it with social experiments.” Where are we gonna be at? I just don’t know.

Finally, if you’re an American and you don’t feel that America should be No. 1, how can you call yourself an American?

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Lamb with an elk he felled on a hunting trip.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

Was coffee a part of your daily routine while in the military? What’s the craziest place you’ve ever enjoyed a cup?

My love of coffee comes from the Army. That’s when I really got into coffee. When I went to Bosnia, I had some really good coffee there. It was really strong, kind of jacked me up. But it was smooth, had the smell, the aftertaste. When I would deploy, I would take an espresso machine with me, a small basic one and a grinder, too. I would take whole beans with me and grind ’em up. I would brew it, and guys would look at me like a I was a weirdo. But by my fifth trip to Iraq, half my troop was bringing an espresso machine with them.

Everything’s relative though. Normal to me is strange to you. Probably the best places I like it is at a high altitude while hunting elk. Water boils at a lower temperature, which makes a difference with your coffee. I enjoy the coffee with that vantage point, that sun coming up.

BRCC Presents: Kyle Lamb

www.youtube.com

You’ve written a few books, including one on leadership. During your tenure, you led specially selected, elite humans performing at the pinnacle of their profession. Do you think your leadership philosophy is better or worse because of that?

Leading smart people is more challenging than leading stupid people. I was leading a lot of intelligent guys who were physically fit; top performers. People like that you can’t just bully them into following you.

Watching how some people lead in the civilian world, I feel bad for them. They try to bully and don’t define their mission. They are so politically correct that they’re ineffective. I want the truth, even if it hurts. Our guys were super honest because we wanted to be the best; we wanted our unit to be the best. If you have thin skin, you’ll get eaten alive. You want performers on the team, not people who believe in status or entitlement.

You need to look at all the people you are working with or for and figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Build on their weaknesses and utilize their strengths. People who aren’t out of control but are pushing the envelope.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

Lamb working with a student on a pistol range.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb/Viking Tactics, Inc.)

Many guys who serve in special operations and then go on to live public lives face criticism from their military peers for stepping out of the shadows of the “quiet professional.” Have you faced those criticisms, and if so, how have you dealt with it?

The difference is that I haven’t let any secrets out of the bag. The other difference is that I had my books approved by the unit. Any redactions that they asked for, I did it. I did have one TV show that I did — I never said anything about the unit, but one guy wanted to string me up for that. What that really did for me, at that point in my career as a washed-up military dude doing my thing, is upset me for a while. I was like, Why did I do that? Then I got mad. So, I called up the unit commander and said, “Hey man, what’s going on? This dude’s trying to throw me under the bus.” He said nothing’s wrong, don’t worry about it.

But here’s the deal: Eventually you’re going to get out of the military, and you’re allowed to use the term “Delta.” They tell you that when you get out, but I never used it. I’m glad that happened though because it was a real learning and growing experience. I’m just not gonna sweat it anymore, but I’ll still abide by all the rules. When you get that one dude out of a thousand who attacks you, it just shows he was never your friend to begin with.

Most guys coming out of the military are much better with a rifle than a pistol. If you had to narrow it down, what’s the one thing that will improve a pistol shot more than anything else?

You need to train. There’s not one specific little task that you can perform, it’s a total package. You gotta draw safely, present the weapon, squeeze the trigger straight to the rear, follow through on the shot, and repeat as necessary. One mag, one kill. Get out and train on your own, and once you hit that plateau, go seek professional training from someone who is a better shooter than you. Then take it to the next level. If you were in the military, you might be familiar with weapons or comfortable with them, but you may not be the best shot so get out and train. The pistol is much more difficult to shoot than the rifle for most military people.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Air Force just put on a show, and the photos are dazzling

Malmstrom Air Force Base opened its gates to the public in mid-July 2019, welcoming approximately 13,000 members of Great Falls and surrounding communities to the 2019 “Mission Over Malmstrom” Open House held on July 13 and 14, 2019.

The two-day event featured aerial acts, exhibits and guided tours which offered experiences highlighting the mission of Malmstrom AFB and the capabilities of the US armed forces.


Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A US Army parachutist with the Golden Knights parachute team approaches his landing at the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A B-2 Spirit performs a flyover during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A child tours an armored vehicle during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A family participates in a cockpit experience during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

US Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performers aerial maneuvers during the Mission Over Malmstrom open-house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

US Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performers aerial maneuvers at the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The Shetterly Squadron aerial group performs stunts during the Mission Over Malmstrom open-house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

A UH-1N helicopter performs flight maneuvers during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

MiG Fury Fighters perform a flyover during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesde)

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Japan is developing a 5th generation fighter of its own

The United States, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China have all either deployed or are developing fifth-generation fighters. These are planes that sport stealth technology, high performance, and very advanced avionics.


However, there’s another country looking at developing a fifth-generation fighter: Japan. This doesn’t come as a surprise — last September, reports surfaced that Japan had developed an unmanned combat air vehicle along the lines of the X-47 program. It’s clear that they’re looking to modernize and upgrade.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race
The Mitsubishi X-2 in a hangar. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Hunini)

Historically, Japan has long been capable of building state-of-the-art jets. The Mitsubishi F-1 fighter, based on the T-2 trainer, was a successful, indigenous fighter design. Mitsubishi also built F-4 and F-15 fighters for the Japanese Self-Defense Force under a license from McDonnell-Douglas (later Boeing) in the 1980s and 1990s. They went on to develop indigenous upgrades for the F-4 and a roided-up version of the F-16, the F-2.

Japan currently is test flying the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin, also known as the ATD-X. The plane first flew in 2016 and is expected to have an internal 20mm cannon and six bays for a mixture of air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance. MilitaryFactory.com notes that it has a top speed of just under 1,600 miles per hour. The X-2 is comparable to the Advanced Tactical Fighter prototypes that flew in the early 1990s, including the YF-22 Lightning and the YF-23 Black Widow.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race
This model of the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin was used for wind-tunnel testing. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Hunini)

Should the X-2 successfully complete its test flight, Japan would be well on their way to fielding a true fifth-generation fighter. Such a fighter is likely to be designated F-3. Mitsubishi will likely produce the plane, making it the latest in a long line of deadly fighters the company has produced, including the legendary A6M “Zero.”

Learn more about the X-2 in the video below:

 

(Skyships Eng | YouTube)
MIGHTY CULTURE

G-Forces and Fighter Pilots: What’s it like to pull 9Gs?

G-forces don’t translate to the big screen, or to video games, but they are a major aspect of flying fighters. Movies like Top Gun show the characters easily moving around the cockpit while chatting on the radio during a dogfight. In reality, during a sharp turn under peak G, you’re spending the majority of your effort pancaked into your seat, trying not to pass out.

Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re probably at 1G, or one time the force of gravity. Your weight is what you see when you stand on a scale. I weigh approximately 200 pounds, 230 with my gear on. For most people, the peak G-force they’ve experienced is probably on a rollercoaster during a loop—which is about 3-4G’s. It’s enough to push your head down and pin your arms by your side. Modern fighters like the F-16 and F-35 pull 9G’s, which translates to over 2,000 pounds on my body.


Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson)

Under 9G’s, the world appears to shrink until it looks like you’re viewing it through a toilet paper roll. Blood is being pulled out of your head towards your legs and arms, resulting in the loss of peripheral vision. If too much blood is pulled out, you’ll pass out, resulting in incapacitation for around half a minute. Due to the speeds we fly, there’s a high probability the jet will crash before you wake up.

As a fighter community we, unfortunately, have had more than one death per year, due to G’s, for the last 30+ years. This has led to a multi-pronged “systems mindset” for preparing pilots to endure them.

The first step in combating G’s is the Anti-G Straining Maneuver (AGSM). Through a combination of special breathing and tensing our lower body we can squeeze the blood back into our head. This not only prevents us from passing out, but increases our peripheral vision, which is critical during a dogfight.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

(USAF photo)

The AGSM requires a high amount of physical conditioning. We spend a lot of time in the gym, working out our lower bodies, so we can push the blood against the force of gravity during high-G maneuvers. Because our flights average one to two hours, cardiovascular fitness is important as well. During my time in the F-16, I gave a dozen, or so, people backseat rides—after the flight, due to exhaustion, every one of them had to be helped out of their seat.

Hydration and nutrition also play an important part in the amount of G’s a pilot can handle. Studies have shown that with only three percent dehydration, G-tolerance time can be reduced by up to 50%. As with any athletic endeavor, it’s important we eat nutritious foods and avoid high sugar “junk food.”

Sleep is also a contribution factor to G-tolerance. Poor sleep decreases alertness and G-awareness, which is what signals a pilot to start their G-strain. In fact, it’s so important that we’re legally required to go into crew rest 12 hours before a flight, with an uninterrupted 8 hours to sleep.

Over the years, technology has allowed us to pull more G’s for longer amounts of time. We wear G-suits, which are pants with air-bladders in them. As we enter a turn, the bladders inflate, squeezing our legs and preventing blood from rushing towards our feet. To increase endurance, we have pressure-breathing, which forces air into our lungs during high-G’s. Instead of struggling for a breath, with what feels like an elephant on our chest, we can take a small sip of air and rely on the pressure-breathing to fill our lungs.

Air Force wants more hypersonic weapons in growing arms race

The current G-suit is shown on the left, with the older version on the right.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. C.J. Hatch)

After high-G flights, my arms and legs will have what appears to be chickenpox—blood has pooled in my extremities and caused the blood vessels to rupture. It’s similar to a bruise and usually dissipates within a few days. The long term effects of high-G’s can result in neck and back issues—most pilots deal with some level of general pain due to G’s.

With our helmets on, over 135 pounds of force is applied to the neck at 9G’s. In my squadron of 30 people: one pilot is unable to fly while his neck heals, another has been told by the flight doctor that he has the spine of someone in their mid-fifties (he’s 39), and another is only able to fly low-G sorties. A few months ago, I had to get X-rays on my back to determine if I’d damaged a vertebra. As a community, we’ve started to introduce physical therapy and dedicated stretching routines after each flight, in order to extend our careers.

I often get asked why we can’t do all of our training in a simulator—G’s are one of the reasons why. It’s one thing to make decisions sitting on the ground, it’s another when you feel the world closing in as the blood is being drained from your head. One of the sayings we have in the fighter community is: as soon as you put the helmet on, you lose 20 IQ points. During a max performance turn, without extensive training, it’s probably a lot more.

Make sure to check out F-35 Pilot Justin “Hazard” Lee’s podcast: The Professionals Playbook!

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

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