These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Upon entering a room lined with panels and LED lights, described solely as something out of a science fiction movie, people in polar white suits are ready to re-skin a new beast.

The airmen working across two shifts in the work center, paint and renovate the aircraft and equipment assigned to the Air Force’s largest combat F-16 Fighting Falcon wing.


The work being performed on the aircraft is intended to provide a protective finish that prevents damage to the structure and enhance the aircraft’s overall lifespan.

“Our mission here is to remove defective aircraft coatings,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Tinsley, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control noncommissioned officer in charge. “We also inspect for corrosion and reapply coats should the aircraft need it.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control paint barn, work on an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Nov. 13, 2018.

Tinsley went on to say the flight helps identify and troubleshoot paint fatigue that may be caused by consistent flights.

Within the facility, a locker room houses the protective gear of the airmen assigned to the 20th EMS aircraft structural maintenance flight.

“When we paint, no matter what we are working on that day, we keep safety in mind at all times,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Harris, 20th EMS corrosion control shift lead.

Each job requires the airmen to gear up from top to bottom to prevent any damage or poisoning that could be caused by the exposure to paint fumes.

During the painting process, corrosion control airmen inspect the aircraft for any cracks or wear that may have been caused through various aerial missions.

“Our airmen are the ones out there doing the hard work,” said Tinsley. “They are either sanding or painting anything that may come into the paint barn … they’re the real work horses, they’re killing it.”

With the continued support of these technicians the mission of the 20th Fighter Wing can thrive and allow the pilots to accomplish the suppression of enemy air defenses mission anytime, anywhere.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

DARPA prepares to test ‘Gremlins’ with C-130s next year

US Air Force F-22s and F-35s will soon launch and control recoverable attack drones from the cockpit of the plane to expand air-combat operations, test enemy air defenses, conduct long-range ISR, and even deliver weapons.

This fast-approaching technology, which calls upon advanced levels of autonomous navigation, is closer to reality due of DARPA’s Gremlins program which plans to break new ground by launching — and recovering — four drones from an in-flight C-130 in 2019.

Air recoverable drones, slated to become operational over just the next few years, will bring a new phase of mission options enabling longer ranges, improved sensor payloads, advanced weapons, and active command and control from the air.


“The team looked at how fifth generation aircraft systems like the F-35 and F-22 respond to threats, and how they could incorporate Gremlins in higher risk areas,” a DARPA statement said.

For years, it has been possible to launch expendable drones from the air, without needing a ground control station, provided they do not return to an aircraft. Gremlins, by contrast, is a technical effort to engineer specially configured aerial drones able to both launch and return to a host aircraft.

The program is now moving into a phase three, according to DARPA statements, which cite a new demonstration and development deal with Dynetics to execute the upcoming launch and recovery C-130 flight.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

A C-130E Hercules from the 43rd Airlift Wing, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., flies over the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Howard Blair)

“DARPA is progressing toward its plan to demonstrate airborne launch and recovery of multiple unmanned aerial systems, targeted for late 2019. Now in its third and final phase, the goal for the Gremlins program is to develop a full-scale technology demonstration featuring the air recovery of multiple low-cost, reusable UASs, or “Gremlins,” a DARPA announcement said in early 2018

This technology, which hinges upon higher levels of autonomous navigation, brings a wide swath of improved mission possibilities. These include much longer attack and mission reach, because drones can begin missions while in the air much closer to an objective, without having to travel longer distances from a ground location or forward operating base. Furthermore, perhaps of even greater significance, air-launched returnable drones can be equipped with more advanced sensor payloads able to conduct ISR or even attack missions.

A flight test at Yuma Proving Ground in early 2018 provided an opportunity to conduct safe separation and captive flight tests of the hard dock and recovery system.

“Early flight tests have given us confidence we can meet our objective to recover four gremlins in 30 minutes,” Scott Wierzbanowski, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in a written statement in early 2018.

Gremlins also can incorporate several types of sensors up to 150 pounds, DARPA statements said.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Artist’s concept.

(Dynetics)

Maturing a full-scale operational capability for this technology has force engineers to confront a range of technical challenges, Dynetics engineers told Warrior Maven. Safely docking a returning drone aboard a moving C-130 requires an as-of-yet unprecedented level of technical sophistication.

“The key technological advance is achieving increased safety through software redundancies to be able to operate a vehicle of this size in close proximity to a C-130 and tether it to stabilize the vehicle,” Tim Keeter, Deputy Program Manager and Chief Engineer, Gremlins, Dynetics, told Warrior Maven in a 2018 interview.

Once stabilized, the drone can then be stowed safety in the cargo bay of the C-130, Keeter added.

“This certainly involves precision navigation and we need the structure of the airframe to bear the burden,” he said.

In preparation for the upcoming drone air-recovery demonstration, Dynetics conducted a safe separation flight test from a mock air vehicle.

“We are ready to fabricate,” Keeter said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The intense rules for US Marines who protected mail from gangsters

“When our Corps goes in as guards over the mail, that mail must be delivered,” wrote Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby. “Or there must be a Marine dead at the post of duty. There can be no compromise.” It was the Golden Age of the Gangster, when bank robbers were folk heroes, cheered on by citizens who were suffering under the weight of Prohibition and the Great Depression. But when the mail started getting robbed by these hoods, the Postmaster General asked President Harding to send in the Marines.


These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

In October 1921, gangsters hit a mail truck in New York City, making off with .4 million in cash, securities, and jewelry – million dollars when adjusted for inflation. That wasn’t the only high-stakes robbery. Between April 1920 and April 1921 alone, thieves stole more than six million dollars in U.S. mail robberies – million when adjusted for inflation. So when the Postmaster asked the President for the Marines, the Commander-In-Chief was happy to oblige.

Harding instructed Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby to meet with Commandant of the Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Lejeune to “detail as guards for the United States mails a sufficient number of officers and men of the United States Marine Corps to protect the mails from the depredations by robbers and bandits.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Marines guarding a Chicago mail train.

Marines from both coasts were activated and armed with trench guns, M1911 pistols, and the M1903 Springfield rifle to stand watch as high-value mail deliveries were moved between institutions, large cities, banks, and government offices. They rode mail trucks and trains, often seated with the driver and in with the valuable cargo. The Navy Secretary told his new detachment of 50-plus Marines and officers:

“To the Men of the Mail Guard, you must when on guard duty, keep your weapons in hand and, if attacked, shoot and shoot to kill. If two Marines are covered by a robber, neither must put up his hands, but both must immediately go for their guns. One may die, but the other will get the robber, and the mail will get through. When our Corps goes in as guards over the mail, that mail must be delivered, or there must be a Marine dead at the post of duty. There can be no compromise.”

That was the spirit of the orders. The orders themselves were just as intense.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

1. To prevent the theft or robbery of any United States mails entrusted to my protection.

2. To inform myself as to the persons who are authorized to handle the mails entrusted to my protection and to allow no unauthorized persons to handle such mails or to have access to such mails.

3. To inform myself as to the persons who are authorized to enter the compartment (railway coast, auto truck, wagon, mail room, etc.) where mails entrusted to my protection are placed, and to allow no unauthorized person to enter such compartment.

4. In connection with Special Order No. 3, to prevent unauthorized persons loitering in the vicinity of such compartment or taking any position from which they might enter such compartment by surprise or sudden movement.

5. To keep my rifle, shotgun, or pistol always in my hand (or hands) while on watch.

6. When necessary in order to carry out the foregoing orders, to make the most effective use of my weapons, shooting or otherwise killing or disabling any person engaged in the theft or robbery, or the attempted theft or robbery of the mails entrusted to my protection.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The FAQ section of the Mail Guards’ training manual tells you everything you need to know about how Marines would respond to this robbery problem, once the gangster tried to break in:

“Q. Suppose he [the robber] is using a gun or making threats with a gun in trying to escape? A. Shoot him.

Q. Suppose the thief was apparently unarmed but was running away?
A. Call halt twice at the top of your voice, and if he does not halt, fire one warning shot; and if he does not obey this, shoot to hit him.

Q. Is it permissible to take off my pistol while on duty; for instance, when in a mail car riding between stations?
A. Never take off your pistol while on duty. Keep it loaded, locked, and cocked while on duty.

Q. Is there a general plan for meeting a robbery?
A. Yes; start shooting and meet developments as they arise thereafter.

Q. If I hear the command ‘Hands Up,’ am I justified in obeying this order?
A. No; fall to the ground and start shooting.

Q. Is it possible to make a successful mail robbery?
A. Only over a dead Marine.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Marines in a mail car.

Robberies stopped entirely. For four months, the Marines guarded the U.S. Mail, and for four months, there were zero successful robberies. After a while, the Post Office was able to muster its own guard forces, and the Marines were withdrawn from mail duty. By 1926 robberies shot up again and the Marines were called back.

The second time the Marines were withdrawn, people stopped trying to rob the U.S. mail.

Articles

This airman has advice for anyone working to be an Olympic lifter

For Tech. Sgt. Kate Barone, competitive weightlifting became more than just a way to break the monotony of a desk job as an Air Force information analyst. Instead, the Ohio native turned her after-work hobby into a new lifestyle that changed her life forever.


“For any type of competition – powerlifting, CrossFit, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding – the thing is to be focused on only that,” Barone told WATM. “If you want to do really well, it’s got to be on the same level as breathing, eating, sleeping. … That is your goal and you have to change your life around that.”

As an NCO in the Ohio Air National Guard, an Olympic lifter, and bodybuilding competitor, life in the service can be difficult for someone who’s trying to be competitive in a sport.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

“For me, sitting in front of a computer a lot, it is hard to not snack,” the 25-year-old says. “I know that as long as you are able to pack your food, bring it to work, still get to the gym, you can maintain your fitness and even compete.”

She joined the Ohio ANG at 17, right out of high school. The Cincinnati native comes from a military family — her grandfathers are Air Force and Army veterans and her uncles serve in the Army and Navy. She joined to challenge herself and get a nursing degree. She loves the Air Force lifestyle but wanted to stay around her family.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Barone worked as a full-time Air National Guardsman for two years, even deploying to Korea for the annual joint training exercises there. It was on that deployment Barone realized she had to make a change. She loved the Air Force lifestyle, but went back to Guard service.

When she returned to Ohio, she finished nursing school and got into CrossFit. While Barone recalls CrossFit was rough at first, she eventually began competing in the sport, which led her to Olympic weightlifting competition, and later, bodybuilding.

In her first Olympic competition, the Strongest Unicorn, she competed in the 64-kilogram weight class against the likes of Holly Mangold of the U.S. Olympic Lifting Team. The next year, she dropped her weight class and finished second.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

“When you sign up for an Olympic lifting competition, you are supposed to put in your estimated total that you will lift,” Barone says. “You look at that and wonder how you are going to do against other people.”

“It’s not just the Olympic movements,” she adds. “You’ve got to do front squats all the time, back squats, jerks — a lot of that just to build up your muscle strength so you can lift a lot of weight.”

Bodybuilding is an entirely different kind of lifestyle change.

“You have to be in the right state of mind to do the bodybuilding part,” she says. “There are so many aspects. Unlike CrossFit or Olympic lifting, I can eat what I want, as long as I make my weight class the day of.”

But that doesn’t mean she can just go out and scarf down an entire pizza with the crew.

“It literally took up my life,” Barone recalls. “I can’t have drinks with friends because alcohol is cut out. I can’t go out to eat with my friends because I will be eating raw vegetables, egg whites, tilapia … it’s really hard to have that mindset and be focused on something without people supporting you.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

A lot of her support comes from the people in her squadron. Even so, it’s tough to eat fish and veggies while the rest of the unit is downing food from the local barbecue joint.

“They call me Bro-rone because I like to lift with them and I’m like a gym bro,” she says. “But then they bring that [food] in and I’m like oh my god I love barbecue, why are you all doing this to me?”

Barone says her sister proved pivotal to her success.

“She helped me pick out my suit, I wanted to know which one is going to look the best on me,” Barone says. “She picked the skimpiest red one with all the bling on it. You have to be prepared to show your ass in competitive bodybuilding.”

Barone says the trick is to make your training preparation a habit. Once you achieve that, missing a day at the gym becomes abnormal.

“Anyone can do it, as long as you are able to get to the gym at least once a day,” says Kate Barone.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

In Barone’s part-time civilian life, she’s a nurse at a local hospital and is excited to be taking a new position helping veterans at the local VA hospital. But fitness remains her biggest escape.

“When I’m sad, I’m depressed, I just don’t feel like things are right, I go to the gym,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a shitty day or something is going on in my life. … If I go to the gym, I lift some weight with my music blaring in my ears …  it’s therapy to me, it feels so good.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

History’s most daring thief may have been this Army paratrooper

The mysterious plane hijacker known as “D.B. Cooper,” who has eluded authorities for more than 45 years, was an ex-military paratrooper from Michigan who boasted about the daring heist to a friend, a publisher plans to reveal May 17, 2018.

Michigan publisher Principa Media says Cooper was former military paratrooper and intelligence operative Walter R. Reca, and Principa worked with Reca’s best friend, Carl Laurin, in compiling the evidence. While the publisher did not disclose if Reca was still alive, an obituary online lists Reca, of Oscada, Mich., as having died in 2014 at the age of 80.


“Evidence, including almost-daily discussions over a 14-year period and 3+ hours of audio recordings featuring the skyjacker, was compiled by Reca’s best friend. It was then analyzed by a Certified Fraud Examiner and forensic linguist,” the publisher said in a news release. “The audio recordings, created in 2008, include Reca discussing skyjacking details that were not known to the public prior to the FBI’s information release in 2015.”

The publishing company worked with Laurin for the memoir “D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, A Spy, My Best Friend,” and plans to present evidence at a press conference on Thursday in Grand Rapids linking the crime to Reca. Evidence includes:

  • Witness testimony from an individual who spoke with Reca within an hour of his jump
  • Documentation concerning how the $200,000 in stolen cash was spent
  • Confessions from Reca to two individuals at two different times
  • An article of clothing Reca wore during the jump

In 1971, on the night before Thanksgiving, a man calling himself Dan Cooper, wearing a black tie and a suit, boarded a Seattle-bound Boeing 727 in Oregon and told a flight attendant he had a bomb in a briefcase. He gave her a note demanding ransom. After the plane landed he released the 36 passengers in exchange for $200,000 in ransom money and parachutes. The ransom was paid in $20 bills.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The hijacker then ordered the plane to fly to Mexico, but near the Washington-Oregon border he jumped and was never seen or heard from again.

In one of the audio recordings provided by the publishing company, Laurin is heard asking Reca about how he felt going through life knowing he was D.B. Cooper and if he ever had second thoughts about the heist.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
Water Reca as seen in Detroit in the mid-1970s.
(Lisa Story)

“Never even a second thought,” Reca says.

After the heist, Reca said he put the money in the bank, and that he had “family to take care of” before jobs “overseas” came up. The daredevil said he treated it as any bank heist.

“It was no [big] deal really, it was done,” Reca is heard saying. “It was done, and I lived through it.”

After the skyjacking, Reca later became a high-level covert intelligence operative, according to the publishing company.

Reca possessed skills to survive jumping out of the plane because he was on the Michigan Parachute Team, according to the publisher. He attended the team reunion in 2000 and was pictured in a photo released by the publisher.

Despite the claims of the publishing company, the FBI has never ruled out the possibility that the hijacker was killed in the jump — which took place during a rainstorm at night, over rough, wooded terrain. The hijacker’s clothing and footwear were also unsuitable for a rough landing.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
A flier for a Michigan Parachute Team event. The MPC was a group of young men who performed daredevil parachuting stunts.

Over the years the most lasting image of Cooper, who became somewhat of a legend, may be the two sketches the FBI released of the suspect.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
A photo of the Michigan Parachute Team reunion in 2000.

Many investigators have come forward with their theories for who the infamous hijacker may be. In early 2018, the leader of the private investigative team who has spent years trying to crack the D.B. Cooper hijacking case claimed he believes the mysterious criminal was a CIA operative whose identity has been covered up by federal agents.

Thomas Colbert, a documentary filmmaker who helped put together the 40-member team, said in January 2018, his team made the connection from work a code breaker uncovered in each of the five letters allegedly sent by Cooper.

Since January 2018, the FBI has released more than 3,000 documents to Colbert’s team investigating the hijacking. The FBI said in court papers that it has more than 71,000 documents that may be responsive to Colbert’s lawsuit.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Smuzzle: The Army’s newest suppressor/muzzle brake

The Army Combat Capabilities Development Center (CCDC) Research Lab is testing a new suppressor with an integrated muzzle brake that will help soldiers maintain accurate and quiet fire on the enemy in future battlefields. This new device is aptly named “Smuzzle.”

Smuzzle’s design was originally meant for the Army’s 155mm howitzers, yet the inventors turned afterward to one of the army’s most common automatic weapons, the M240B. Greg Oberlin, Daniel Cler, and Eric Binter, the inventors of the new equipment, were trying to reduce recoil and muzzle flash while also reducing the sound from the machinegun.


Standard suppressors for the 7.62 mm caliber were unable to withstand the intense heat of the M240B (which is known as “the pig” by the soldiers who carry it in the field).

The device is currently undergoing testing on the M240B with the NATO 7.62×51 mm round as well as the Next-Generation Squad Weapon Technology 6.8mm round. (The 6.8mm round reduces the volume at the shooter’s ear by half, volume downrange by 25 percent, and recoil by a third said Oberlin, a small arms engineer at the Army’s CCDC Army Research Lab.)

The three inventors began their research back in 2007. They were recently awarded a 20-year utility patent with the Army in late March 2020.

“A few years ago, we were asked whether our next-gen squad weapon should have a muzzle brake or a suppressor,” Oberlin said in an interview with TechLink. “We asked ourselves ‘why not both?'”

Like any small-caliber muzzle brake, this new device vents the pressurized gas of each shot to counteract the recoil of the rifle. By venting the gas through a series of tiny asymmetric holes, the device has — in testing thus far — reduced volume by 50 percent and flash signature by 25 percent with minimal weight increase (0.8-3.0 pounds). “Suppressors are notorious for increasing flash,” Cler said. Furthermore, the Smuzzle adds only three inches to the weapon’s overall length.

When a weapon is fired using a suppressor, gases are trapped inside from the sound rings from the front of the suppressor back to the breech. That spreads the carbon throughout the weapon. It can force the soldier to clean the weapon more frequently.

“That brake baffle actually has a curvature to it borrowed from a 155mm muzzle brake I designed,” Cler said. But the researchers have stated that the device is scalable to any caliber.

“It was designed for automatic and semi-automatic weapons, but it’d be useful for anyone shooting magnum cartridges,” Cler said. “It has what you could call a bottom blocker that also reduces how much dust kicks up.” A smaller Smuzzle weighing 0.8 lbs and other larger versions weighing approximately 3 lbs have been developed to be used depending on a weapon’s caliber.

Binter said in a piece with the Army Times that although they have not yet tested the prototype devices to failure, nevertheless some of them had already fired 10,000 rounds through the weapons which continue to hold up to the sound, recoil, and accuracy standards.

In one test the researchers fired hundreds of rounds through one prototype Smuzzle attached to an M240B machine gun in a full auto failure test. (See video below.)

“It was glowing red, but it never failed,” Cler said.

In testing the weapon is expected to be able to sustain a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute.

Smuzzle goes beast mode in full auto endurance test

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Counter-terror police investigate suspected poisoning of Russian spy

British counterterrorism police are now leading the investigation into the suspected poisoning of a former Russian spy, showing that UK authorities are treating the case with increasing seriousness.


A spokesman for the London Metropolitan Police confirmed the news to Business Insider, citing the “unusual circumstances” of the incident.

“The Counter Terrorism Policing network will lead the investigation as it has the specialist expertise to do so,” Scotland Yard said. “It has not been declared a terrorist incident and at this stage we are keeping an open mind as to what happened.”

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found collapsed on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, south England, on March 4, 2018. Both remain in a critical condition at a nearby hospital. An update on the substance they were both exposed to is expected on March 6, 2018.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
Armed police officers near Downing Street gates. London, Great Britain. (Photo by Stanislav Kozlovskiy)

Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said, “the focus at this time is to establish what has caused these people to become critically ill.”

Also read: This is what a fancy Russian spy compound actually looks like

“We would like to reassure members of the public that this incident is being taken extremely seriously and we currently do not believe there is any risk to the wider public.”

Earlier, he told the BBC’s Today radio program, “if you look back at other cases like [Alexander] Litvinenko, if necessary, we will bring that investigation into the counterterrorism network.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
Alexander Litvinenko.

Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB spy who was poisoned in London in 2006. He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder on his deathbed.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the incident “a tragic situation,” but denied knowing any information about the case, Reuters reported. He added that Russia would be ready to cooperate with the investigation if asked.

When asked to respond to media speculation in the UK that Russia had poisoned Skripal, Peskov said, “it didn’t take them long.”

Related: 4 ways to have fun with that Russian spy ship off the coast

Skripal worked for the Russian military intelligence and foreign ministry until 2003, before being sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2006, Sky News reported.

He confessed that he had been recruited by British intelligence in 1995, and passed the identities of Russian agents in Europe for around $100,000.

He was granted asylum in Britain after being pardoned by Russia in a 2010 “spy swap” deal with the US, under which 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI were released.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine F-35B drops 1,000-pound bombs in the Pacific

Marines in the Pacific carried out the first-ever, at-sea F-35B “hot reloads” in that theater, allowing the aircraft to drop back-to-back 1,000-pound bombs on a target in the middle of the Solomon Sea.

Marines from the amphibious assault ship Wasp went to war last week with the “killer tomato,” a big red inflatable target that was floating off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The Joint Strike Fighter jets left the ship armed with the 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition and a 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb.

Once they dropped the bombs on the target, they returned to the Wasp where they reloaded, refueled and flew back out to hit the floating red blob again. It was the first-ever shipboard hot reloads in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a Marine Corps news release announcing the milestone.


Or as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Sallese put it, they showed how Marines operating in the theater can now “rain destruction like never before.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, move Joint Direct Attack Munitions and laser guided bombs during an aerial gunnery and ordnance hot-reloading exercise aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Solomon Sea, Aug. 4, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dylan Hess)

“Our skilled controllers and pilots, combined with these systems, take the 31st [Marine Expeditionary Unit] to the next level,” he said in a statement. “… My ordnance team proved efficiency with these operations, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

The aircraft, which are assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) and deployed with the MEU, also fired the GAU-22 cannon during the exercise. The four-barrel 25mm system is carried in an external pod on the Marines’ F-35 variant.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

An F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, armed with a Joint Direct Attack Munition and a laser guided bomb, prepares to take off during an aerial gunnery and ordnance hot-reloading exercise aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dylan Hess)

The F-35Bs weren’t the only aircraft engaging the “killer tomato” during the live-fire exercise. MV-22B Osprey aircraft and Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters also fired at the mock target.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

An ordnance Marine with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares ordnance during an aerial gunnery and ordnance hot-reload exercise aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

(Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cameron E. Parks)

The 31st MEU was the first Marine expeditionary unit to deploy with the F-35B. The aircraft has since had its first combat deployment to the Middle East, where it dropped bombs on Islamic State and Taliban militants.

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

popular

7 terrifying enemy weapons that probably suck

There are so many terrifying weapons that have come out in the last few years or are going through testing now that make it seem like the next war, no matter where it happens, will see friendly troops fighting a “War of the Worlds”-type conflict against unstoppable foes.

But many of these new weapons are either over-hyped, impossible to make work, or prohibitively expensive. In no particular order, here are seven of them you can probably stop worrying so much about:


These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Russia’s new Burevestnik will be the scariest doomsday weapon in the world if it can ever fly more than 22 miles.

(Military Aviation)

That new nuclear-powered missile

The Burevestnik is Russia’s splashy, new, nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed missile announced in a March press conference. In theory, this weapon would spew nuclear waste over a large area as it swiftly maneuvers past enemy air defenses and levels an unknown enemy capital (that’s obviously Washington, D.C.).

For all of you kept awake by night terrors, feel free to suck down some NyQuil and enjoy the dreams, because that missile barely works. And by barely, we mean that its “unlimited range” is actually 22 miles, otherwise known as 878 miles less than a U.S. astronaut will drive in a diaper to win a love triangle. ‘MURICA!

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

China’s Shenyang J-31 fighter will murder all the things.

China’s stealth jets, J-31 and J-20

The J-31 and J-20 would challenge the F-35 and F-22 for control of the skies, downing American fuel tankers at will and beating back flights of fifth-generation fighters too dumb to realize they were outmatched. Unfortunately, Chinese designers can’t get the engines, as well as some other details, right.

So, while the newest J-fighters are still a threat (fuel tankers will be vulnerable when the planes carry their longest range air-to-air missiles), American fighters will still hold a firm edge against them in nearly all conditions, especially knife fights and stealth battles where the Chinese fighters’ weak engines will make them have to choose between stealth and speed. Meanwhile, the American fighters can enjoy both at once, especially the F-22.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The tank can kill you without even breaking stealth. Or something.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

T-14 Armata tank

It’s the tank that will savagely murder every Abrams tank it faces using its autoloader and massive cannon while shrugging off enemy rounds and missiles with no problem thanks to advanced protection systems that shoot missiles down! That’d be real scary if it weren’t for the fact that it probably doesn’t work — and it costs too much for Russia to buy even if they knew how to fix it. At present, this is a tank that’s already 7 years overdue.

It looks like Russia might be throwing in the towel on ever deploying this boondoggle. The Russian Ministry of Defense allotted 7 million for upgrading existing vehicles and canceled the destruction of 6,000 current vehicles, almost as if they think they’ll need the current generation for a long time.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The Russian Bumerang can swim up behind you kill you, and then use your body as a raft.

(Photo by Boevaya mashina)

Russian Bumerang and Kurganets-25

Russia’s newest armored vehicles, designed to complement the T-14 Armata as Russian armored columns sweep through NATO formations like Han Solo flying through the Death Star (which, for the non-Star Wars fans, didn’t end well for the Death Star). And the Bumerang can do it while swimming.

But the Bumerang and Kurganets-25 rely on some of the same protection systems that don’t work on the T-14, and its offensive systems aren’t much better. The vehicles are supposed to be capable of remote operation, but that hasn’t worked well with their “tankettes” in Syria. And this only matters if the Russian Federation can buy them, but Russia’s economic problems are threatening all of their military upgrades.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

China’s J-15 carrier-launched jet is a literal flying shark and Decepticon. It’s both of them.

(Photo by Garudtejas7)

China’s carrier jet, the J-15

The J-15 is only six years old would launch from carriers to enforce China’s will on any nation or region of the Pacific that dared stand up for freedom and justice. Too bad it’s too heavy for carrier operations, has flawed mechanics that keep failing, and is already being shelved for the J-31 (which, as noted above, has its own problems).

The J-15 has to take off from the ski ramps on China’s current and planned carriers, meaning it has a lower maximum takeoff weight than U.S. jets enjoying steam and electromagnetic catapults. This is an even bigger problem since its empty weight is nearly 3,000 pounds heavier than an F-18’s. Plus, the plane doesn’t work, suffering at least four crashes and multiple mechanical failures despite being relatively new airframes.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Watch out! It’s right behind you!!

(Photo by Dmitry Terekhov)

Su-57 Fighter jet

The Su-57 fighter jet is equal to the F-22, better than the F-35, and can carry cruise missiles, allowing it to fly up to the American seaboard, launch strikes against U.S. cities, and then down the late-arriving jets sent up to intercept it.

It’s so good, in fact, that Russia is not buying it. Yeah, that’s the weird reason a Russian deputy defense minister gave for not sending the jet into mass production. It was so good and everyone knew that Russia could buy it, so they shouldn’t buy it. So, if there is a shooting war, there won’t be very many Su-57s to fight.

Those that do show up might not actually pose a grave threat. Why? Because it’s not that good. India had paid massive development costs for a Su-57 variant but then went shopping for American jets when the Su-57 repeatedly failed to live up to its promises, especially in the power and stealth departments.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Russia’s super carrier

For those who haven’t heard, Russia is planning a supercarrier that is for-real going to happen and it’ll be the best carrier. Ever. But, if completed according to the little information released, it’ll be a little bigger than a Nimitz-class carrier and have similar capabilities.

So, still smaller and weaker than a Ford-class. Also, last time Russia attempted a supercarrier (or any carrier for that matter), they had barely laid the keel before their government collapsed and they took years to sell the thing off for scrap. Also, the guys who worked on that carrier and might have any idea how to build a new one are mostly retired and — this is even more important — Ukrainian.

Many Ukrainians haven’t been big fans of Russia for a few years. Something about “the Crime and Peninsula” and “the Dumbass Region” or something? Add to that all of Russia’s already-discussed budget issues and the fact that the carrier would cost 20 percent of the Russian military budget to build…

So, yeah, the carrier will either be imaginary or ridiculously underfunded. (Additional note: Their only current carrier needs a tug escort in case it breaks down and is filled with sewage and closed bathrooms.)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The new Air Force rescue helicopter is close to delivery

The Air Force is one step closer to getting the new Pave Hawk. The first HH-60W has started the process of final assembly two months ahead of schedule and will be set to make its first flight by the end of this year.


“Final assembly of this first HH-60W helicopter marks a significant milestone for Sikorsky, our workforce, and the U.S. Air Force,” Sikorsky Air Force Programs director Tim Healy said in a Lockheed release. “We are on track to deliver this significant capability enhancement ahead of schedule.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
Artist’s rendition of the HH-60W. (Lockheed Martin image)

The HH-60W is slated to replace the 99 HH-60G Pave Hawks currently in service. The HH-60W features a number of improvements, including an internal fuel capacity of 660 gallons, just shy of twice as much as the amount of fuel carried in the UH-60M Blackhawk. The HH-60M medevac variant of the UH-60M is credited with a range of 275 nautical miles, which can be extended by attaching a 400-gallon, external tank of gas.

The HH-60W will also feature an integration of radar, defense systems, and other sensors to give the four-man crew more information to complete the mission of supporting the Air Force’s pararescue personnel. Healy said that this will make the HH-60W “the most thoroughly networked and connected vertical lift platform ever produced” and that it’ll bring the Air Force “unrivaled capability in high-threat environments.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter lands as an Army UH-60 Blackhawk prepares to pick up a medevac patient. The HH-60G will be replaced by the HH-60W. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

This first HH-60W and three others will serve as Engineering Manufacturing Development aircraft, and another five will serve as System Demonstration Test Articles. The contract also includes six training devices for aircrew and maintenance personnel. In total, the total Air Force has ordered 112 HH-60Ws. Whether the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps will get in on this chopper and further increase the production run remains unanswered, although a representative for Sikorsky told WATM, “Sikorsky is prepared to support the military’s needs should additional services be interested in purchasing the HH-60W, or in exploring whether this aircraft’s features could be used on other aircraft.”

One thing is for sure: The HH-60W is proof that the H-60 is going to be around for a long time.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

6 weapons that even a car salesman couldn’t sell

Let’s face it, some weapons have a combat record so impressive that they practically sell themselves. Others, however, aren’t so lucky — but they still manage to find their way into the hands of various militaries.

We’d love to be a fly on the wall during the sales pitches for the following weapon systems. It’d take the most skilled used-car salesman to get someone to sign on the dotted line for these duds.


Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you’ve got some weapons you’re looking to pawn off on us, feel free to give your pitch in the comments.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The long range of the Koksan would be the centerpiece of any sales pitch.

(USMC photo by Albert F. Hunt)

Koksan self-propelled howitzer- one of the most useless weapons ever

If a used car salesman finds you admiring this North Korean self-propelled howitzer on the lot, then they know they’ve found themselves a potential sucker customer. He’ll be quick to sell you on howitzer’s 37-mile range. Pay no attention to the slow rate of fire, the relative lack of mobility, or the comically long barrel — no, no. Think about that range.

“Why, you can hammer a Paladin LONG before it can get an Excalibur round in play. This baby can reach out and touch a target from beyond the horizon!”

Did he fail to mention the F-16s and A-10s that’ll quickly bomb it out of existence? Whoops.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

In some ways, the Vought F7U Cutlass looks good, but you get the sense that driving a Ford Pinto would be a better (and safer) weapon.

(US Navy)

Vought F7U Cutlass

This sleek plane sported a design that was well ahead of its time — and that’s about all it had going.

“This bird is the sleekest jet — doesn’t she look futuristic?

Unfortunately, the future was grim for many who took to the skies (or attempted to) in this plane. It had an extremely ugly flight record — over 25 percent of all Cutlasses built were lost in accidents.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The agility and endurance of the Zero would be top selling points.

(Imperial Japanese Navy)

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Next, we move down the lot to Japan’s classic fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Yes, it dominated at the start of World War II, but we all know how the story ended — not so happily for the pilots. It was nimble and it had long “legs,” but it got that agility and endurance in an aeronautical, Faustian bargain.

Our eager salesman might say, “this is a nimble plane that won’t leave you with a huge gas bill!”

That’s because you won’t live to see that bill. Just one hit turned this plane into a fireball plunging to the ground. A useful weapon if you don’t mind dying.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The only way someone would buy a Brewster F2A is if they didn’t check the PlaneFax report…

(US Navy)

Brewster F2A Buffalo

This plane has the distinction of going head-to-head with the Wildcat for a Navy contract — and winning.

“This plane? She’s a winner. You know the Navy only wants quality — and they picked Brewster. Shouldn’t you?”

Just make sure you don’t open your history books to the Battle of Midway. Its performance there would have you changing your mind.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

Lots of firepower and stately accommodations for the admiral and staff… but a kludge under the hood.

(US Navy)

Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruiser

These ships feature massive firepower and have all the accommodations that an admiral would love. But in many other ways, they are a kludge. Combined nuclear and steam propulsion? If you think doing proper maintenance on a Ferrari is tough, take a look at this hot mess.

“But it’s got luxurious staterooms and plenty of firepower — who could pass that up?”

Pay no mind to the fact that you can man two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers with number of crew it’d take to operate a single Kirov.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

When they switched from these 6.1-inch guns to eight-inch guns, these cruisers became some of the most blatant floating arms-control-treaty violations in history.

(Imperial Japanese Navy)

Mogami-class heavy cruiser

This vessel’s combination of heavy firepower and high speed is hard to beat. Ten eight-inch guns, a dozen torpedo tubes packing the Type 93 Long Land, and a top speed of 35 knots — who wouldn’t love that combo? Well, the vessels had a shaky combat history after helping sink USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth in the Sunda Strait. But that’s the least of your worries as a potential buyer.

Let’s just say that these vessels make Russia’s Iskander missile look like an honest mistake in terms of violating treaty compliance. According to the London Naval Treaty, cruisers were to displace no more than 10,000 tons — Mogami and her sisters came in at 13,440 tons. They didn’t survive long enough for treaty compliance to be a worry — all four of vessels of this class were lost in war.

“This ship has it all: Speed, firepower…”

How about something that doesn’t violate arms-control treaties?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

DOD describes space as a ‘warfighting domain’ and urges Space Force

The U.S. Space Force will allow the Defense Department to deliver space capabilities and results faster, better, and ahead of adversaries, Pentagon officials said March 1, 2019.

Officials spoke with reporters on background in advance of the announcement that DOD delivered a proposal for establishing the sixth branch of the armed forces to Congress. The proposal calls for the U.S. Space Force to lodge in the Department of the Air Force.

“What underpins the entire discussion is the importance of space to life here on Earth,” an official said. “Space truly is vital to our way of life and our way of war, and that has really been increasing over time.”


The Space Force will allow the department to face down the threats of great power competition in space, officials said.

Today, the United States has the best space capabilities in the world, they noted, but they added that this is not an entitlement. “Our adversaries have recognized that, and they recognize what space brings to the United States and our military,” an official said. “As a result, they are integrating space into their forces, and they are developing weapon systems to take away our advantages in a crisis or conflict.”

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams)

Space has changed the character of war. “Space is not just a support function, it is a warfighting domain in and of its own right where we really need to be prepared to compete, deter and win,” he said.

The Space Force is a strategic step forward that will bring greater focus to people, doctrine, and capability needed to wage a war in space, officials said.

If Congress approves the proposal, the new service will grow incrementally over the next five fiscal years. Planners already are discussing the culture of the organization and what people they would like to see populate it. “We’re going to try to establish a unique culture — the special training, the care for promotions, development of doctrine,” another official said.

Pending passage, DOD will begin transferring personnel from the Air Force to the new service in fiscal year 2021 — most of the personnel in the U.S. Space Force will come from the Air Force. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel will be affected in later years. Civilian employees will come to the new service under the auspices of the Department of the Air Force, just as civilian employees of the U.S. Marine Corps work for the Department of the Navy.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons
(Photo by Ryan Keith)

Building a culture

On the military side, the service will look for individuals who will build the culture of the new service. “We want people to be recruited into the Space Force as similar to the way the Marine Corps recruits Marines,” a senior official said. “We don’t recruit [Marines] into the Navy — they go after the specific kind of people with a vision that is necessary to build that culture.”

It will take some time for Space Force service members to build that culture. “When you grow up in your service, you are a part of a culture and that is your mindset and focus,” a senior military officer said. “The Air Force includes space, but the personnel still grow up in an Air Force culture today. I would argue that if you ‘grow up’ in a Space Force where you are solely focused on the space domain, your ability to think clearly and focus on that domain will get after the problem set much more effectively.”

The force will look for people with a technical background to apply toward warfighting. “We need people who, at their core, understand what warfighting is and how to do those things that bring together that capabilities from across all services to pursue strategic objectives as part of the joint force,” another officer said.

If Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force will have about 15,000 people — the smallest U.S. armed force. “It is a small, but mighty group,” a senior official said. “As we look forward to the importance of space to our country and national security, it is really elevating it.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A look back at the 40-plus year career of a US military legend

It’s been over 40 years since the AH-64 Apache made its first flight. This helicopter emerged as the best among entrants to the 1972 Advanced Attack Helicopter program, beating out a design from Bell to become the Army’s most advanced helicopter. From there, this legendary aircraft went on to see action across the globe in the hands of the world’s most advanced militaries.

Originally designed as a Cold War tank killer, the Apache has since become a very lethal hunter of terrorists. These helicopters are outfitted with the M230 30mm chain gun, 70mm Hydra rockets, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.


These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

An AH-64D Apache Longbow flies over Baghdad in 2007.

(US Army)

From the skies above, the Apache has watched as the Army shifted from Patton to Abrams and Bradley to Stryker. It’s had a service career that the AH-56 Cheyenne, a cancelled helicopter that created a vacuum in capabilities filled by the Apache, could only dream of.

It seems fitting that this chopper was the first to fire shots in Desert Storm — after all, it’s had a long history of making terrorist asses grass. It even took a turn as a cinematic star in the movie Firebirds, which featured Nicolas Cage and Tommy Lee Jones.

Over 2,000 Apaches have been purchased in the decades since its military debut in 1986. The Apache has seen action in the Balkans and during the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These airmen re-skin lethal F-16 Falcons

The AH-64E Apache Guardian is slated to be in production through 2026, 51 years after the Apache’s first flight.

(US Army)

The Apache has survived at least one attempt to replace it (in the form of the RAH-66 Comanche). Recently, it’s taken over scout helicopter duties from the new-retired OH-58 Kiowa — and learned how to control UAVs in the process. The new AH-64E Apache Guardian is now in service and has export orders with Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Qatar.

Learn more about this helicopter that’s survived for nearly four decades in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMdz_L2_ogo

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