How America's top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

It can be hard to take a precision shot on the ground. It can be even harder to do in the air. Helo-borne snipers are elite sharpshooters who have what it takes to do both.

“There are a million things that go into being a sniper, and you have to be good at all of them,” veteran US Army sniper First Sgt. Kevin Sipes previously told Business Insider. When you put a sniper in a helicopter, that list can get even longer.

“Shooting from an aircraft, it is very difficult,” US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Hunter Bernius, a native Texan who oversees an advanced sniper training program focused on urban warfare, told BI.

“Getting into the aircraft is a big culture shock because there are more things to consider,” he added. “But, it’s just one of those things, you get used to it and learn to love it.”


How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

A lead scout sniper with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force, provides aerial sniper coverage during a simulated visit, board, search and seizure of the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), underway in the Coral Sea, July 7, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)

“Eyes in the sky”

Helo-borne snipers are called on to carry out a variety of missions. They serve as aerial sentinels for convoys and raid teams and provide aerial support for interdiction missions.

“As far as taking the shot, it is not often that we do that,” Bernius explained to BI. “Our primary mission is reconnaissance and surveillance, just being eyes in the sky for the battlefield commander.” But every aerial sniper is prepared to take the shot if necessary.

How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

A lead scout sniper with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force, tests his Opposing V sniper support system on a UH-1Y Huey aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) prior to a simulated visit, board, search and seizure of a ship, underway in the Coral Sea, July 7, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)

‘It can throw you off’

Helo-borne snipers typically operate at ranges within 200 meters, closer ranges than some ground-based sharpshooters, and they’re not, as Bernius put it, “shooting quarters off fence posts.” That doesn’t make hitting a target from a helicopter any less of a challenge.

Either sitting or kneeling, aerial snipers rest their weapon, a M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) in the case of the Marines, on a prefabricated setup consisting of several straps the sniper can load into to reduce vibration. “We’re constantly fighting vibration,” Bernius said.

Like resting your gun on the hood of a big diesel truck while it’s running, the helicopter vibrates quite a bit, Bernius explained. “If you’re talking about a precision rifle, it’s substantial when you are looking through a small scope at a hundred meters. It can throw you off a few inches or even more.”

The vibration of the aircraft isn’t the only concern. Aerial snipers also have to take into consideration rotor wash (the downward pressure from the rotating blades impacting the bullet as it leaves the barrel), wind direction and speed, altitude, and distance to target, among other things.

Communication with the pilots, who often act as spotters for these elite troops, is critical. “Going in without communicating is almost like going in blind,” Bernius explained.

Before a sniper takes his shot, he loads into the rig to take any remaining slack out of the straps and dials in the shot, adjusting the scope for elevation and wind. Breathing out, he fires during a brief respiratory pause. If the sniper misses, he quickly follows with another round, which is one reason why the semi-automatic rifle is preferred to slower bolt-action rifles.

Helo-borne snipers can put precision fire down range regardless of whether or not the helicopter is in a stationary hover or moving. In cases where the aircraft is moving, the aerial snipers will sometimes use a lagging lead, counterintuitively placing the reticle behind the target, to get an accurate shot.

Scout Snipers – Aerial Sniper Training On Helicotper

www.youtube.com

‘Very familiar with being uncomfortable’

The urban sniper training that Bernius oversees is an advanced course for school-trained snipers, Marine Corps sharpshooters who have gone through the preliminary basic sniper training at Camp Pendleton in California, Camp Geiger in North Carolina, or Quantico in Virginia.

In the advanced sniper program, Marine Corps snipers go through four weeks of ground-based sniper training before transitioning to the air. “It’s primarily 600-meters-in combat-style shooting from tripods, barricades, and improvised positions,” Bernius told BI.

“The first three days is laying down in the prone, and then after that, they will never shoot from the prone again,” he explained. “These guys get pretty good at putting themselves in awkward situations. They get very familiar with being uncomfortable,” which is something that helps when the sniper moves into a cramped helicopter.

Nonetheless, moving from the ground to a helicopter is tough, and a lot of snipers get humbled, Bernius said. Fighting the vibrations inside the helicopter is difficult. “Some guys can really fight through it and make it happen, and some guys really struggle and they just can’t get over it and can’t make accurate shots,” he explained.

In many cases, Bernius told BI, aerial snipers have to rely more heavily on instinct than the guys on the ground. That takes repetition. That takes practice.

But once a sniper has mastered these skills, they can use them not only in the air, which is the most challenging, but also in any other vehicle. The skills are transferable.

How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

Sgt. Hunter G. Bernius, a scout sniper with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Lufkin, Texas native, shoots at a target placed in the water from a UH-1Y Huey during an aerial sniper exercise.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Chance Haworth)

‘I’m doing this for the love of my country’

Not everyone can be a Marine Corps sniper, and each person has their own motivations for serving. “I grew up in a small town in East Texas hunting, playing in the dirt, hiding in the woods. It was a lot of fun. I could do that all day, day in and day out,” Bernius explained to INSIDER.

That’s not why he joined up, though.

Bernius had the opportunity to play baseball in college, but in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he decided to join the Marines instead. “I don’t regret it one bit.”

“I’m very patriotic,” he said. “I’m doing this for the love of my country. I’ve been in 13 years. There’s been a lot of ups and a hell of a lot of downs. But, I would say love of the country is what’s keeping me around.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s ‘Space Cowboys’ can see anywhere

It can sometimes be hard for commanders to get a full picture of the battlefield, whether that’s on the ground in Syria or in the forests of Colorado. The “Space Cowboys” of the Colorado Army National Guard‘s 117th Space Battalion aim to solve that problem.


Just the Facts

  • The 117th Space Battalion is the only unit of its kind in the National Guard.
  • Its 12 space support teams work with commercial and classified space-based assets to support command requirements.
  • The 117th has the highest concentration of space support teams anywhere in the Army.
  • Army Space Support Teams are made up of six soldiers — two officers and four enlisted — each with unique skills. The teams deploy around the world to enhance intelligence and operations planning abilities.
  • How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    U.S. Army Sgt. Rick D. Peevy, a crew chief from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, Colorado Army National Guard, surveys the scene while wildfires burn the training range at Fort Carson, Colo., June 12, 2008.

  • “The [space] support team allows the warfighter to see and overcome enemy forces using the most appropriate amount of lethality available to them,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Fred Korb, the 117th’s senior enlisted leader. “For example, this allows the maximum effectiveness for targeting enemy forces while limiting danger to the coalition warfighter and noncombatants.”
  • More than 55 percent of soldiers in the unit have advanced degrees.
  • “Support can include producing imagery products, deconflicting GPS issues, missile warning, missile defense, satellite communications, and space as well as terrestrial weather effects on operations,” said Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Fauskee, the noncommissioned officer in charge of one of the battalion’s space support teams.
  • The 117th’s soldiers also produce the imagery needed to support wildfire fighting efforts in their home state. This year, some of its soldiers responded to the Spring Creek fire, the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
  • This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    This attack plane turned the enemy into grease spots

    When you hear “Sandy,” maybe you think about Olivia Newton-John’s character in Grease, unless you’re in the Search-and-Rescue community. Even then, most people don’t associate the word with one of the best attack planes of all time. But the Douglas A-1 Skyraider was also a “Sandy” — and one that turned many enemies of the United States into…well…grease spots.


    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    An A-1 Skyraider in 1966, when four planes assigned to USS Intrepid shot down at least one MiG-17. (U.S. Navy photo)

    “Sandy” was the callsign A-1s operated under when they escorted the combat search-and-rescue helicopters. You may have seen Willem Dafoe’s character in Flight of the Intruder talking to “Sandy Low Lead.” Well, he was talking to a pilot flying a Skyraider when he called in an air strike on his own position.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    An A-1 Skyraider escorts an HH-3C rescue helicopter as it goes in to pick up a downed pilot in Vietnam in 1966. (Photo from the National Museum of the USAF)

    The A-1 had been started in World War II, when it was called the BT2D-1. The Navy, though, was realizing that the air wings on the carriers needed to change. Part of the reasoning was the presence of the kamikaze, which required the presence of more fighters. The Navy even put a plane it rejected, the Vought F4U Corsair, on carrier decks. As such, the plan was to replace the SB2C Helldiver and the TBF/TBM Avenger. The plane later became the AD.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    An Air Force A-1E Skyraider loaded with a fuel-air explosive bomb. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    The Skyraider had 15 hardpoints, allowing it to haul 8,000 pounds of bombs, rockets, torpedoes, or gun pods. It also packed two or four Mk12 20mm cannon. The latter weapons helped the Skyraider score five air-to-air kills, including two MiG-17 “Fresco” fighters over North Vietnam.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

     

    Some of those “Sandys” were Air Force, incidentally — one of a number of Navy bombers used by that service. The Air Force had wanted a version of the plane, which proved excellent at close-air support, since 1949. The Air Force used the A-1 over Vietnam, as did Vietnam, Cambodia, and a number of countries in Africa. The last A-1s were retired by Gabon in 1985.

    The A-10 has become a primary airframe flying the “Sandy” CSAR missions, which is one of the reasons the hog is so beloved.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    War Brides: Stories of love, hope and sometimes, regret – Part I

    An estimated 300,000 “war brides,” as they were known, left home to make the intrepid voyage to the United States after falling in love with American soldiers who were stationed abroad during World War II. There were so many that the United States passed a series of War Brides Acts in 1945 and 1946. This legislation provided them with an immigration pathway that didn’t previously exist under the Immigration Act of 1924, which imposed quotas on immigrants based on their nation of origin and strategically excluded or limited immigration from certain parts of the world, particularly Asia.

    Equipped with little but a feeling and a sense of promise, war brides left everything that was familiar behind to forge a new identity in the United States. Many spoke little to no English upon their arrival in the country, and they were introduced to post-war American culture through specially designed curricula and communities. To this day, organizations for war brides in the United States provide networks for military spouses and their children, helping them keep their heritage alive and share their experiences of their adopted home.

    To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II on September 2, 2020, We Are The Mighty is proud to collaborate with Babbel, the new way to learn a foreign language. Babbel conducted interviews with surviving war brides as much of the world endured lockdown. Many of these women are now in their 80s and 90s, and their oral histories celebrate the challenges and successes of adapting to a new culture and language, as well as reflect on the leap of faith they all took to travel across the world to an unknown country. Spoiler alert: there are few regrets.

    War Brides is a 5 part series.

    Alice Lawson — Belgium

    I was born in Belgium, in Liège. I lived in a suburb, on a high plateau that overlooked the city. I had family that lived in the countryside, in the Flemish part of Belgium, so I knew Flemish. I also studied German because I was worried about the war coming, which started when I was about 16 years old.

    I remember when I was a young girl and the Germans were coming into the city. They would crawl up the hillside with rifles in their arms, and the kids who were at the top of the hill would throw clumps of grass or rocks to try to dissuade the Germans from coming up the hill.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Alice and her family. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

    One soldier came into my parents’ house because he was hungry. My father said, “Come in the back and you can eat something.” However, the German wouldn’t eat anything unless my dad ate the same thing with him.

    My dad worked on the streetcar system where he was a conductor, and he got me to work there as well. I was one of the people in the back who moves the electrical lines to the next one over. I also worked in the garage getting things started, moving the trolleys onto the line. I was tough.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Alice as a young lady. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

    I met my husband when the Americans came in. We went to the movies, my mother and I, and he was on the other side of the road. He looked at me and then came over and presented himself. That was it. Then we started dating.

    He was an American soldier, so he spoke only English. We had things in common because I was a nurse working in the Belgian hospital and he was an American working in the American military hospital. So we had a connection in that regard, but I think the main connection had to do with the way that I looked and the way that John looked. He was good-looking, so I was willing to date him.

    He wanted to get married right away. He had to go approach my father to ask him if he could marry me. And he was, of course, very reluctant, but I would not be dissuaded.

    Once we decided to get married, he did a very unusual thing for an American soldier: he had my sister take all my measurements and sent them to his sister who lived in Maine, and he asked her to pick out a wedding dress for me and send it to Belgium. He also paid for the flowers and things like that so that we could have a beautiful wedding, which I think is pretty unusual.

    At the time, I said to him, “I’m Catholic. If I do get married, I want to be married in a church.” So he said, “Well, I’m Catholic too.” I said, “Well, tell me a few things about the Catholic religion.” And he couldn’t tell me anything! He only knew how to do the sign of the cross like a Catholic — that’s all he knew. So he took a course in the Army to become a Catholic for me.

    We went off for a two-week honeymoon in the countryside of Northern Belgium. But because the war was still going on in Japan, he was then transferred there. I was only a few months pregnant when he got sent off to Japan.

    The war ended before he got there, so he was sent back to the United States and released. He had made arrangements for me to come to the United States. But when my dad found out I was moving to America, he passed out. It was tough on the family, but my husband had made a promise that we’d be coming back to visit. Of course, that didn’t quite happen as well as my mother had hoped. It was tough on my parents, which made it hard for me.

    I went through the Ellis Island immigration area when I arrived, and I spent a night in New York before getting on a train. It took five days to get to Alabama. I didn’t recognize my husband when I arrived because he had gotten very sick and lost so much weight.

    It was a different way of life for me because I grew up in the city, had season tickets to the opera and was an art student in college. Now I was in rural America facing an outhouse: there was no indoor plumbing, no indoor running water. We ended up moving into a chicken coop that my husband covered inside with paper so that nobody could see in.

    I was also in a dry county, and I had a bottle of wine that I brought from Europe. I put it in the window to cool, and my husband saw it when he was coming home, and said, “You’re going to get us arrested! You’re not allowed to drink wine in this county!” So I said to him, “Why, are we in Russia?”

    I had a couple of sisters-in-law who were very good to me. My mother-in-law as well. So they tried to accommodate me and teach me English, and my husband would give me homework every day to study the language. Of course we didn’t have TV or anything, but I would learn through the people who I met.

    My English wasn’t good — there were a lot of hand signals at that time! It was difficult to learn, but I credit my ability to learn to the fact that I knew Flemish and German. There are a lot of French words that are English words. Between those three languages, I felt that I had a leg up on learning the English language.

    Many times, people would call me an immigrant and say, “You’ve got an accent, go back to your country.” I remember those kinds of comments, but I could shake them off. They didn’t bother me. I was pretty surprised by the racial problems I confronted in Alabama. I couldn’t understand that kind of racism because I wasn’t used to that in Belgium.

    I was once on the bus and there was no room at the front of the bus to sit. I had my son in my arms and my husband was also on the bus, the three of us. I went to the back of the bus to sit because there was an empty seat, and my husband was very upset with me, that I would do that and not stand at the front. Those kinds of encounters were part of daily life for me.

    We lived in Alabama for about a year or so. But because I was so unhappy with the lack of city life, and there was no work down there for my husband, we went up to join my sister-in-law in Michigan and get a job at one of the factories.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Alice and her husband. Photo courtesy of Alice Lawson.

    My husband worked bartender jobs and we lived in terrible housing, but he ended up getting a job at General Motors. One day, I went off with some friends on a Sunday drive and I saw a sign that said “GI homes for $5.” So I gave the guy $5, went home and told my husband, “Oh, I bought a house today!”. He said, “You bought a house?! Alice, do you know what you’re saying?” I said, “Yeah, I bought a house.” So we took a bus over there and we went to see the guy with my husband’s discharge papers, and we got the approval for buying the house! This is the house we’re still in today, since 1950.

    We lived right on the main line for a streetcar in Detroit, so we were 10 minutes away from downtown. My daughter was born two years after my son, and I would take my children into the city frequently. In Detroit, I felt more acclimated to living in America, once I got into the city routine. I’ve always been a city girl, that’s just how I roll!

    I’ve been back to Belgium a few times since. I got married in 1945 and went back in 1950. Then in 1964, when my son graduated from high school, I took him back to meet his relatives in Belgium, because he was just a baby when he left there. The last time I was there was in the early 2000s.

    I still manage to speak French — je parle toujours le français ! I have a small circle of friends, and we go to lunch and chitter chatter away speaking French. I had other friends who were from Belgium, but they have since passed. I still carry the Flemish language within me, but don’t have much of an opportunity to speak it to anyone around here.

    I’ve noticed with other war brides that they were very eager to be accepted and to acclimate into society, so they don’t necessarily talk much in their native language. I just went along with everything that was happening here. I didn’t try to change anything. I just helped myself and learned English. People would always say, “Oh, you have an accent,” and I would reply, “Yeah, vous parlez français? Do you speak French? That’s why I’ve got an accent!”

    For people who are considering moving abroad to marry someone, I would say, “Join the club!” If you love somebody, you want to do anything you can to be with them.

    The War Brides series is brought to you by Babbel. Babbel has now launched a discount for those involved with the military and veterans, as well as their relatives, as a thank you for their service. It is available here: https://welcome.babbel.com/en/military-discount/

    Articles

    This Navy vet and wheelchair basketball player is one to watch at the Warrior Games

    The 2016 Warrior Games held their opening ceremony on June 15. The games are an adaptive sports competition for veterans and service members who are ill, wounded, or otherwise injured. Two hundred and fifty athletes on six teams (Army, Marine Corps, Navy Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and the UK Armed Force) will compete for just over a week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The events include Archery, Cycling, Track, Field, Shooting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, and Wheelchair Basketball.


    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Jason Reyes at the 2016 Invictus Games

    One of the competitors to watch is Jason Reyes, a retired Navy Fire Controlman, who was in a motorcycle accident in 2012. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury as well as a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for ten days.

    In the four years since he has been a fierce competitor in wheelchair basketball, learning the ins and outs with the San Diego Wolfpack. He didn’t even know about Wheelchair Basketball until he met the Wolfpack.

    “Yeah, they’re professional, a pro team,” Reyes recalls. “Personally, it was about trying to be healthy, to do more than just sitting around. When a person is in a wheelchair and they’re not healthy, there’s a decline in their well-being. I didn’t want that for me.”

    His remarkable recovery and interest in wheelchair athletics led to even more competition. The Warrior Games inspired his interest in the Cycling and Track events. In 2015, Reyes received a sponsorship to compete in Wheelchair Motocross, or WCMX. He is the only veteran to compete in WCMX at a pro level.

    “Basically it’s a wheelchair in a skate park,” Reyes says. “I went to the 2015 world championships where I placed fourth in the world in WCMX. I’m the eighth person in the world to do the back flip in a wheelchair.”

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Reyes joined the Navy because he felt like it was his calling. He wanted to be part of something greater than himself. He was always an athletic guy. While serving as a Fire Controlman for missiles, he prepared to go into Special Operations, with the goal of one day being an officer. He was running five miles a day, hitting the gym every day because he felt like it was his calling.

    “I wanted to live for something, Reyes says. it was just something that I just latched onto easily. I felt like it was my calling, and it was going to be a lifetime thing.”

    Now, his calling is slightly different but he approaches it with the same zeal. His mission is to help others in wheelchairs understand their life isn’t over because of the wheelchair.

    “I feel like some guys just need that little bit of motivation,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll go volunteer and speak to kids that are born with Spina Bifida or veterans that I know have PTSD and depression. I try to get them to open their mind up to other things.”

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class (ret.) Jason Reyes poses with his family and Dario Santana, Warrior Games’ Family Programs and Charitable Resource Coordinator, after the U.S. team wins the gold in wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games May 12, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Marissa A. Cruz)

     

    That’s what brings him to events like the Invictus Games, the Warrior Games, and – soon – the International Paralympics. Reyes wants to represent my branch and his country but loves to be around his brothers and sisters in uniform. The military community is where he feels he belongs.

    “No matter what branch, we all go together no matter what,” he says. “I would have never thought that something like this could be possible. I just feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to be able to do what I’ve done. ”

    Reyes still feels he has much to learn. At the Warrior Games, he has met people who have used wheelchairs for as long as twenty and thirty years. Every time he meets someone, he finds it broadens his experience and he learns a lot.

    “When I first got hurt, there weren’t a lot of people there to help me,” he remembers. “Not a lot of people were around to help push me or educate me as to how the paraplegic world functions, so I try to do that for others, to open their eyes up to the idea just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean it’s over. You just have to find your calling and what makes you happy.”

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class Jason Reyes (ret.) shares an embrace with a fellow U.S. team member after winning the gold medal in wheelchair basketball against the United Kingdom at the Invictus Games May 12 in Orlando, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Marissa A. Cruz)

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    How the military is starting to crack down on the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’

    Recently, a new “challenge” trend has emerged on the internet. This time around, people are eating single-load Tide Pods and, with this reason-defying phenomenon, comes a wave of memes defending the pods and even videos of teenagers actually eating them.


    It’s called the “Tide Pod Challenge.” What started out as a joke about how the colors and smells of a Tide Pod are candy-like (kind of like a larger version of a Fruit Gusher) quickly got swept away, following Poe’s law, by idiots. A large majority of people who defend eating them are just trolling. They — and others — understand that eating laundry detergent is f*cking toxic.

    And yet, there’re at least a few dumbasses that don’t get the joke and are actually eating the damn things.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    The Duffel Blog released a satirical article about Marine Corps leaders telling Marines to stop eating Tide Pods. Their article was a great piece of satire, joking that the officials feared an uptick in sick Marines as others “pass on troublesome rumors that they can eat Tide Pods to give them more energy on hikes or give them a boost in upper body strength.”

    But in at least one Army AIT, they actually are cracking down on Tide Pods. Posted on The Salty Soldier Facebook page, someone sent in proof that their sergeants were taking away their laundry pods.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    (Image via Salty Soldier)

    If you do a little digging, you’ll find that there are other users on social media talking about how, usually in Basic or AIT, other privates are eating them. We’re dumbfounded, but don’t be surprised if this Friday’s safety brief includes a reminder to not eat toxic chemicals, no matter what you read on the internet.

    Besides, if you eat one and post it to YouTube, your video will be taken down and you’ll basically just poison yourself for nothing. To everyone who thinks this is an actual problem, you can relax knowing that it’s just a terrible joke that will die down sooner or later.

    popular

    That time scientists analyzed beer from an 1800s shipwreck

    In 2010, a shipwreck was discovered in the Baltic Sea. The 170 year-old schooner (M1 Fö 403.3) contained, among other treasures, bottles of champagne and beer. Obviously, scientists had to study the discovery.

    And divers had to taste it when one of the bottles “cracked” upon returning to the surface. While an underwater shipwreck isn’t exactly ideal storage conditions (unlike the 100 year-old Scotch whiskey excavated from the ice under a 1907 base camp in the Antarctic), two of the bottles were studied to compare the physicochemical characteristics and flavor compound profiles of the beers.

    Through careful underwater recovery, bottle opening, and liquid extraction, scientists were able to derive some indication of the original nature of the beers as well as the techniques used to create them. 

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Chemical comparisons of shipwreck beers against modern beers. (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2015, 63, 9, 2525-2536)

    First, the bottles, while initially believed to be from between 1800 and 1830, were dated as closer to the 1840s. Their shape and detailed features suggested a manufacturing process that had not yet reached Finland, and therefore suggested central or northern Europe.

    Both bottles were disturbed by the activity of microbial contaminants during aging and dilution of seawater, but the concentration of hop components revealed a lot. They confirmed that the brews were, in fact, beers — two different beers, in fact. Both seem to be cereal grain derivatives, though scientists could not distinguish between barley and wheat, which have very similar amino acid profiles

    “Concentrations of yeast-derived flavor compounds were similar to those of modern beers, except that 3-methylbutyl acetate was unusually low in both beers and 2-phenylethanol and possibly 2-phenylethyl acetate were unusually high in one beer. Concentrations of phenolic compounds were similar to those in modern lagers and ales.” —Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
    The specific chemical profiles and flavor compounds are detailed in the scientific report, which may be worth a read for all the home-brewers out there.

    Articles

    Senate confirms Mattis as secretary of defense

    The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as the next secretary of defense.


    A majority of the upper chamber voted in favor of Mattis taking over the top civilian job at the Pentagon.

    The move came after President Donald Trump, in one of his first acts as the new commander in chief, signed a waiver passed by Congress to permit Mattis to serve in the role.

    Related: 6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

    After taking the oath of office, Trump remained at the Capitol to sign a number of documents officially nominating his choices for cabinet and ambassador posts and to declare Jan. 20 a “National Day of Patriotism.”

    Among the documents was the historic waiver for the 66-year-old Mattis, who led the 2003 invasion of Iraq as commander of the 1st Marine Division, commanded a task force in Afghanistan in 2001, and commanded a battalion in the Persian Gulf war in 1990.

    In 1947, Congress passed a law barring members of the military from taking the Defense Secretary’s post until seven years after retirement to preserve civilian control of the military. Mattis retired in 2013.

    The only previous exception to the law was the waiver granted to Gen. George C. Marshall, the five-star Army chief of staff in World War II, who became Defense Secretary in 1950.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander, U.S. Central Command visits with Marines stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait on Feb. 26, 2011. | DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

    Earlier this week in separate action, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 26-1 to approve Mattis for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. The only “No” vote in the Committee was from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, who praised Mattis but said she was voting against him on the issue of civilian control.

    The full Senate was expected to confirm Mattis, possibly later Friday. If confirmed, Mattis was expected to make his first visit as the 26th Secretary of Defense to the Pentagon to meet with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who was staying on temporarily at the Pentagon to assist with management issues.

    During the campaign, Trump said he would demand a plan from his commanders within 30 days of taking office speed up and ultimately end the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In his inaugural address, Trump said he would “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth.”

    During his Senate confirmation hearings, Mattis also said he would be reviewing plans to “accelerate” the ISIS campaign but gave no details.

    Already, there were signs that the U.S. military was moving more aggressively against ISIS and also the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. On Wednesday, in the last combat mission specifically authorized by President Barack Obama, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers flying out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri struck ISIS camps in Libya.

    On Thursday, a B-52 bomber deployed to the region dropped munitions in Syria west of Aleppo against a training camp of the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham group, formerly known as the Al Nusra Front and linked to Al Qaeda.

    Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said “The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hardline Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or cooperating with Al Qaeda on the battlefield.”

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Senate passes $740 billion defense policy bill with troop pay raise

    U.S. troops are all but guaranteed a 3% pay raise next year under legislation that passed the Senate Thursday.

    The Senate passed its version of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday. The $740 billion bill contains numerous personnel initiatives, including the second consecutive 3% pay raise for service members, and hazardous duty pay for troops responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


    If signed into the law, the legislation would also make changes designed to standardize the military services’ Exceptional Family Member Programs, improve housing for military families and halt a planned reduction of teachers within Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

    The measure also includes incentive pay to retain military health officers, increases funding for child care facilities, adds money for research on industrial chemicals used in firefighting foam and packaging and expands the list of diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure.

    “The NDAA gives our military the personnel, equipment, training and organization needed to implement the National Defense Strategy and thwart any adversary who would try to do us harm,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee’s ranking Democrat, called the bill an “important step” toward wise investment for the future.

    “Mindful of new risks, as well as unfolding and unprecedented unemployment and budget challenges, Congress must wisely invest every defense dollar in a cost-effective and forward-looking manner,” he said.

    The bill would create a commission to study removing Confederate names from Defense Department assets within three years — a measure that will need to be sorted out when the House and Senate meet to develop the final version of the bill that will go to President Donald Trump for a signature.

    The House bill would force the military to take action to change the names of bases and facilities named after Confederates within a year. The Senate version of the bill incorporates similar provisions to remove Confederate names from bases over three years.

    Trump has threatened to veto any measure to remove the name of Confederate leaders from Army installations. On Tuesday, the White House released a statement listing the items Trump finds objectionable in the House’s bill, saying it is “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct.”

    Other items that pertain to personnel policy in the bill include:

    • Mandating that DoD develop and field body armor that properly fits female soldiers
    • Providing additional ways for service members to report sexual assault
    • Requiring DoD to better track and respond to incidents of child abuse on military installations.

    The vote was 86-14. The two chambers will next name a committee of members to develop a compromise bill. The House approved its version of the fiscal 2021 authorization bill Tuesday.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Navy sacks 2 more officers over USS McCain crash

    The commanding officer and the executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain were relieved of duty and reassigned to different posts for “loss of confidence,” according to a US Navy statement on October 11.


    Commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez came under scrutiny after the McCain’s collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters in August. Ten sailors died and five were injured.

    The collision tore a hole in the destroyer’s left rear hull, where several sailors were inside sealed compartments on the vessel, the Associated Press reported at the time.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    USS John McCain confronts Chinese ships in South China Sea. (Dept. of Defense photo)

    Although the investigation is ongoing, the Navy called the collision preventable and said “the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.” The Navy’s strict adherence to customs and traditions dictate that commanders be relieved of duty when superiors lose confidence in their leadership.

    The McCain incident followed another collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship in June, which killed seven sailors. The Fitzgerald’s executive officer and senior enlisted sailor were also dismissed in that case.

    US Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the three-star commander of the US 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, whose command oversaw the USS McCain and Fitzgerald, was also relieved of duty in August following the series of deadly ship collisions. Four accidents involving ships have occurred in the western Pacific since February, according to The New York Times.

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    F-35s train in ‘beast mode’ in response to China’s ‘carrier killers’

    US Marine Corps F-35B pilots aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, took off with externally stored missiles in the Philippine Sea, which suggests they trained for all-out aerial combat with China.

    The move came just days after China deployed its DF-26 missiles that experts say can take down US aircraft carriers from thousands of miles away.


    The Wasp regularly patrols the western Pacific and became the first ship to host combat-ready F-35s, the first-ever carrier-launched stealth jets. The F-35B is a short-landing and short-take-off version of the aircraft designed for Marine pilots.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Natasha R. Chalk)

    Because of the F-35’s stealth design, it usually stores weapons in an internal bay to preserve its radar-evading shape.

    So when the F-35 flies with weapons outside the bay, it’s flying in what Lockheed Martin calls “beast mode.”

    The F-35 holds only four air-to-air missiles on combat-focused air missions, and just two when it splits the mission between air-to-ground and air-to-air.

    But with weapons pylons attached, Lockheed Martin has pitched the F-35 as an all-out bomb truck with 18,000 pounds’ worth of bombs and missiles in and under the wings.

    While the F-35 has never actually tested this extensive loadout, the F-35Bs aboard the Wasp in January 2019 took off with two weapons pylons and at least one dummy air-to-air missile.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    A fully loaded F-35A.

    (Frank Crebas via YouTube)

    Other pictures of the F-35s on the Wasp showed guided bombs being loaded up into the jets.

    Flying with dummy missiles and pylons under the wings trains F-35 pilots on how the aircraft handles under increased strain, and demonstrates what it’s like to have a deeper magazine in combat scenarios.

    Lockheed Martin previously told Business Insider that F-35s are meant to fly in stealth mode on the first day of a war when the jets need to sneak behind enemy defenses and take out surface-to-air missiles.

    After the initial salvos, F-35s can throw stealth to the wind and load up on missiles and bombs, Lockheed Martin said.

    “When we don’t necessarily need to be stealthy, we can carry up to 18,000 pounds of bombs,” Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, told Business Insider in 2017.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Marines load a Captive Air Training Missile (CATM) 9X onto an F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Galbreath)

    China is seeking air-to-air dominance

    But the theoretical implications of the F-35’s loadout take on a new importance in the Pacific, where China has increasingly sought to impose its will on international waters.

    China has increasingly threatened US ships in the region, with one admiral even calling for the sinking of US aircraft carriers.

    China has responded to US stealth fighters with a stealth jet of its own, the J-20, a long-range platform with the stated goal of winning air superiority.

    But experts recently told Business Insider that the J-20, as designed, would likely lose in air-to-air combat to almost any US or European air superiority fighter.

    While the US may be able to contain China’s air power for now, Beijing recently deployed “carrier-killer” missiles to the country’s northwest. The US, in its recent Missile Defense Review, suggested F-35s could shoot down these missiles in flight.

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

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    6 reasons why Vikings were just like our Marines, long before Tun Tavern

    Troops today love to liken themselves to the warfighters of old — Spartans, crusaders, knights, pirates, or whatever else. It helps our troops buy into the classic warrior mentality and it makes us feel more badass. When it comes to U.S. Marines, there’s really one comparison that stands out above the rest as apt: the Vikings of the middle-ages.


    I’m not going to sit here and tell you, young Marine, which historical badass you should try to emulate — you do you. But if you’re looking for some inspiration from history’s toughest customers; if you’re looking for some sea-faring, slightly-degenerate tough guys that howl for a fight, you’d do well to start your search with the Vikings.

    Here’s where Vikings and modern Marines overlap:

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    1. Both were masters at disembarking amphibious landing ships to fight on land

    First and foremost, there are no two groups in history more feared for their ability to storm beaches and absolutely destroy everything within range than Vikings and U.S. Marines. The Vikings are famous for their sieges on Northumbria while the Marines are known for successes during the South Pacific campaign of WWII. For both groups, their presence alone is often enough to force a surrender.

    But their skills on the coastline don’t discredit their ability to fight inland. Vikings, accustomed to the frigid north, fared extremely well when fighting in the Holy Lands — not too far from there was where the Marines fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Hell, one of the stories of Thor is about him basically trying to drink an entire ocean made of booze.

    2. Both are known for intense post-combat partying

    Another key trait of the Viking lifestyle that isn’t too far off from what happens in the average lower-enlisted barracks of any Marine Corps installation: consuming volumes of alcohol that would incapacitate mere mortals is just the pregame for Vikings and lance corporals.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    ​I’m highly confident that a Jomsviking leaderwould have been completely cool with wall-to-wall counselling to solve any issues.

    3. Both share a deep brotherhood with their fellow fighters

    Most troops, regardless of era, become friends with the guys to their left and right, but Marines and Vikings are known for taking that brotherhood to a new level.

    The Viking mercenaries, known as the Jomsvikings, followed a strict code that revolved around brotherhood among their ranks and their motto is roughly translated as, “one shield, one brotherhood.” This way of live was written into their 11 codes of conduct. It doesn’t matter who you were before you became a Jomsviking, but so as long as you’re a brother, you will not fight with each other and you will avenge another should they fall in combat. And if there was infighting, the dispute was mediated by the leadership (or chain of command).

    All of these things are essentially within the UCMJ.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Or the story of Harald “Bluetooth”… because he ate a blueberry that one time.. Yep, Vikings were creative like that.

    4. Both had a penchant for giving each other nicknames

    Giving someone a terrible nickname after they made a silly mistake is one of the more bizarre tidbits of Viking lore — but it is exactly what Marines still do to one another today. The platoon idiot is “boot,” the big guy in the unit is “Pvt Pyle,” and you know damn well that certain guy they call “Mad Dog” did something to earn that name.

    History speaks of the famed viking warrior named Kolbeinn Butter Penis (named after his sexual exploits) and Eystein Foul-Fart (named for the noxious small that came from his ass). Hell, even Erik the Red got his name because he was a ginger — or because he was a violent sociopath at the age of ten… nobody can say for certain there.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    On the topic of Valhalla, Marines hold Tun Tavern with about the same level of respect.

    5. Both believe that the older the fighter, the more terrifying the man

    There’s an old, anonymous saying that’s often attributed to Viking culture:

    Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.

    The only thing more terrifying than a 47-year-old Master Gunnery Sergeant who’s fueled entirely by alcohol, tobacco, and hatred was a 47-year-old, bearded-out berserker who’s lived in the woods for the better part of twenty years.

    Unlike their contemporaries, Vikings had a special place in their groups for the older warrior men and treated their cumulative knowledge as sacred. Younger Vikings would pick their brains, trying to learn their tactics. And, at the end of the day, the old viking were said to fight even more ferociously in battle, knowing that their time was short. After all, dying sick in bed won’t get the Valkyries’ attention — only through glorious combat could they earn entry into the hall of Valhalla.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    Ah, vikings. You unruly, blood-thirsty a**holes. Some things never change.

    6. Both enjoyed fighting more than anything else

    The most glaringly obvious similarity between these two groups of warriors is how sacredly they hold the concept of fighting. Much like a Marine being told their deployment got pushed back a few months, Vikings would complain if they weren’t given their time on the battlefield.

    Vikings’ culture wasn’t based entirely on fighting, but man, were they good at it. That’s probably why nobody ever talks about the Vikings’ expansive trading network. There’s also a reason why people never really talk about a Water Dog’s “water purification skills.”

    H/T: to Ruddy Cano, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and fellow We Are The Mighty contributor, for helping with this article.

    popular

    This is the ironic reason the Spitfire beat the Bf 109

    Every student of history knows that the British won the Battle of Britain in August and September of 1940, and that the Spitfire played a key role. But why was that the case?


    The answer is stunningly ironic, and it requires us to look at what both the Spitfire and the Bf 109 were supposed to do.

    (Yes, I said Bf 109. Believe it or not, calling Willy Messerschmidt’s signature design a Me 109 isn’t accurate. Messerschmidt worked for the Bavarian Aircraft Works, or Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. Now, Messerschmidt bought the company in 1938, but planes designed before the purchase, like the Bf 109, kept the old designation.)

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy

    So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the Bf 109 and Spitfire.

    Both planes were really designed to fulfill the same mission profile: that of a short-range interceptor.

    The Spitfire Mk VB had a top speed of 370 miles per hour, could climb 2,600 feet per minute, and had a combat radius of 470 miles. The Bf 109G had a top speed of 398 miles per hour, a range of 621 miles with a drop tank, and could climb 3,345 feet per minute.

    In 1940, the Germans needed a plane to escort their bombers, and the Bf 109 was their only option. They tried the Bf 110, a twin-engine plane with long range and heavy firepower. The problem was, the Bf 110 was easily killed by the more maneuverable Spitfires, so the Bf 109 found itself pressed into service.

    But even with a drop tank, the Bf 109 just didn’t have the endurance to be a good bomber escort.

    How America’s top snipers fire from helicopters with deadly accuracy
    A Spitfire Mk. 1A flies in 1937. (Photo: Royal Air Force)

    The Spitfire was also plagued with short endurance, but during the Battle of Britain — and even over Dunkirk earlier in the summer of 1940 — it was fulfilling its role as a short-range interceptor.

    In essence, it was doing what it was designed to do. The Bf 109 was also a short-range interceptor…but it was pressed into service as a bomber escort, and it just couldn’t hack it.

    When the United States entered the war, one thing they were truly successful at was coming up with the perfect escort fighter, the P-51 Mustang. You could say they had learned from Nazi Germany’s mistake.

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