An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor - We Are The Mighty
Articles

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

After a little more than a year of research and more than 20 attempts to get the right materials, an Air Force Academy cadet and professor have developed a kind of goo that can be used to enhance existing types of body armor.


As part of a chemistry class project in 2014, Cadet 1st Class Hayley Weir was assigned epoxy, Kevlar, and carbon fiber to use to create a material that could stop a bullet.

The project grabbed Weir’s interest.

“Like Under Armour, for real,” she said.

The materials reminded her of Oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid — which thickens when force is applied — made of cornstarch and water and named after a substance from a Dr. Seuss book, and she became interested in producing a material that would stop bullets without shattering. An adviser suggested swapping a thickening fluid for the epoxy, which hardened when it dried.

Related: The Marine Corps just spent $6 million on a war tool invented in the barracks

“Up to that point, it was the coolest thing I’d done as a cadet,” Weir, set to graduate this spring, told Air Force Times.

But soon after, she had to switch majors from materials chemistry to military strategies. That presented a challenge in continuing the research, but she teamed up with Ryan Burke, a military and strategic studies professor at the academy.

Burke, a former Marine, was familiar with the cumbersome nature of current body armor, and he was enthused about Weir’s project.

“When she came to me with this idea, I said, ‘Let’s do it,'” he said. “Even if it is a miserable failure, I was interested in trying.”

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Air Force Academy cadet Hayley Weir with professor Ryan Burke. | Air Force Academy photo by Tech Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes

The science behind the material is not new, and Burke expected that the vast defense industry had pursued such a substance already. But a search of studies found no such work, and researchers and chemists at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center said the idea was worth looking into.

They began work during the latter half of 2016 using the academy’s firing range, weapons, and a high-speed camera. Burke got in touch with Marine Corps contacts who provided testing materials.

In the lab, Weir would make the substance using a KitchenAid mixer and plastic utensils. It was then placed in vacuum-sealed bags, flattened into quarter-inch layers, and inserted into a swatch of Kevlar.

At first, during tests with a 9 mm pistol, they made little headway.

“Bullets kept going straight through the material with little sign of stopping,” Weir told Air Force Times. After revisiting their work and redoing the layering pattern, they returned to the firing range on December 9.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Bullets flattened during tests of Weir and Burke’s prototype. NBC/KUSA 9 News

Apprehensive, Weir fired on the material.

“Hayley, I think it stopped it,” Burke said after reviewing the video. It was the first time their material had stopped a bullet.

This year, they traveled to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to present their work and up the ante on their tests.

Weir’s material was able to stop a 9 mm round, a .40 Smith Wesson round, and a .44 Magnum round — all fired at close range.

Also read: The US Army may consider building a new ‘urban warfare’ school

During the tests, 9 mm rounds went through most of the material’s layers before getting caught in the fiber backing. The .40 caliber round was stopped by the third layer, while the .44 Magnum round was stopped by the first layer.

The round from the .44 Magnum, which has been used to hunt elephants, is “a gigantic bullet,” Weir told Air Force Times. “This is the highest-caliber we have stopped so far.”

Because it could stop that round, the material could be certified as type 3 body armor, which is usually worn by Air Force security personnel.

The harder the bullet’s impact, the more the molecules in the material responded, yielding better resistance. “The greater the force, the greater the hardening or thickening effect,” Burke said.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
The bullet-stopping material developed by Weir and Burke being mixed. NBC/KUSA 9 News

“We’re very pleased,” said Jeff Owens, a senior research chemist with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s requirements, research, and development division. “We now understand more about what the important variables are, so now we’re going to go back and pick all the variables apart, optimize each one, and see if we can get up to a higher level of protection.”

The model Weir and Burke created uses 75% less fabric than standard military-style body armor.

It also has the potential for use as a protective lining on vehicles and aircraft and in tents to protect their occupants from shrapnel or gunfire.

“It’s going to make a difference for Marines in the field,” Burke said.

On the civilian side, the material could aid emergency responders in active-shooter situations.

“I don’t think it has actually set in how big this can get,” Weir said in early May. “I think this is going to take off and it’s going to be really awesome.”

While the ultimate use of the material is unclear, the US Army and Marine Corps are reportedly looking for ways lighten the body armor their personnel use.

A study by the Government Accountability Office, cited by Army Times, highlighted joint efforts to lower the weight of current body armor, which is 27 pounds on average. Including body armor, the average total weight carried by Marines is 117 pounds, while soldiers are saddled with 119 pounds, according to the report.

The Army and Marines have looked into several ways to redistribute the weight soldiers and Marines carry, including new ways to transport their gear on and around the battlefield. The GAO report also said each branch had updated its soft armor, in some cases cutting 6 to 7 pounds.

Articles

This is what jail is like on an aircraft carrier

Most sailors who go out on deployment don’t get into trouble. Others may find themselves on the wrong side of the shore patrol, though. Much of that can be minor, and is usually addressed with a loss of pay, or placing a sailor on restriction. But in some cases, that sailor needs to be confined.


Now, when you’re deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean, or some other hot spot, it’s hard to ship the guy (or gal) back to the States to lock them up. So, on carriers and other large ships, the jail is brought with them – and it’s called the brig.

And in case you think that an upcoming battle earns some leeway for misbehavior, you’d best keep in mind that heading towards a fight won’t keep a sailor from getting tossed in the brig. In the book “Miracle at Midway,” historian Gordon Prange related how Marc Mitscher, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8), threw a couple of sailors in the brig for minor infractions prior to the Battle of Midway.

In many cases where that is necessary, the sailors are sent to the brig after what is known as a “Captain’s Mast,” which is covered under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. According to Naval Orientation, the amount of time someone may be confined is limited. The exact limits depend on the rank of the commanding officer and the rank of the accused. The chart below from the linked manual explains those limits.

 

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
(Scanned from US Navy publication)

The video clip below is from the 2008 documentary mini-series “Carrier,” produced by Mel Gibson’s production company. It provides a tour of the brig on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as it was in 2005.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0Sh3jjDdEE
MIGHTY TRENDING

Troops on the border practice nonlethal riot control

Active-duty troops deployed to the US-Mexico border are increasingly bracing for confrontations rather than just running razor wire to deter their entry in the US, images published by the US military show.

In November 2018, US troops have been conducting non-lethal riot control training at bases in Arizona and California, and tactical training is expected to continue.


Soldiers and Marines were also apparently present on Nov. 25, 2018, at San Ysidro, a busy port of entry where border agents clashed with migrants, using tear gas against those who rushed the border.

Watch US troops engage in tactical training in preparation for violence:​

This is how US troops are training for confrontations at the border.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Soldiers from 65th Military Police Company, 503rd Airborne Military Police Battalion, finish non lethal training in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 26, 2018.

(U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Bradley McKinley)

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Marines attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7 join Customs and Border Protection at San Ysidro Point of Entry, California, Nov. 25, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jesse Untalan)

Active-duty military personnel with riot shields were present at the San Ysidro port of entry Nov. 25, 2018, when CBP agents used tear gas and tactics to drive back migrants who rushed the border, some of whom threw rocks at US agents. Some critics have called the CBP response an overreaction.

US troops are authorized to provide force protection for border agents, but are barred by law from law enforcement in the US.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Soldiers from 65th Military Police Company, 503rd Airborne Military Police Battalion, take cover to conduct non lethal training in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 26, 2018.

(U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Bradley McKinley)

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Soldiers from the 65th Military Police Company, 503rd Airborne Military Police Battalion, conduct non-lethal riot control training in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

(U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Bradley McKinley)

300 active-duty troops previously stationed in Texas and Arizona were shifted to California.

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

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 9th

This week was a good week for memes. And by “a good week,” I mean I’ve seen more than 1,000 variations of the same SpongeBob meme.


Don’t worry, everybody, we’ll try not to use one… No promises.

13. We all know that one platoon sergeant that just loves watching their Joes complain.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
…or every platoon sergeant ever. (Meme via Army as F*ck)

12. Don’t worry, Airmen. We all totally believe that it was hard for you to get through Basic Military Training.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
For Marines, that’s normal. (Meme via Air Force Nation)

11. “Cellphone training” is actually just teaching young boots what they’ll be doing for 95% of their time as a Lance Corporal.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Totally. (Meme via Navy Memes)

10. Remember, that blue disk means free hugs are available.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Why else would it be baby blue? (Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

9. Everything sounds more impressive if you use the proper nomenclature instead of explaining what it is.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Not to kill the joke, but it’s the radio antenna…  (Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

8. Why would someone who’s spent their entire adult life in the military lie about what it’s like in the real world?

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
It’s a retention conspiracy. Stay woke. (Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

7. Plot twist: Submariners have been repainting it every month.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

6. Troops walk into the retention office with Christmas lists and walk out with, “Sure! I’ll just take Korea and a $20 cup.”

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
100 years of Rick and Morty memes! (Meme via Military Memes)

5. What it feels like being an RTO and you prove the drop test works.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
WOOOOOOOO!!!!! (Meme via Private News Network)

4. There are only three types on-post: the married, the coworkers, and the daughter of someone who outranks you. All three are trouble.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Just drive thirty minutes away to somewhere chicks actually dig the uniform. (Meme via Pop Smoke)

3. If you think about it, cats are perfect troops. They attack their enemies on sight, they don’t need attention, and they’re adept at sh*tting in holes.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
10/10. Would give cat treats. (Meme via Pop Smoke)

2. I would have thought they just sent them to 7th Fleet…

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
But that’s none of my concern… *sips tea* (Comic via Scuttlebutt)

1. It’s funny because of all the meanings.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
‘Wasted’ as in drunk, right, censors? (Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

*Bonus* I lied!

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
The meme is too damn dank not to use… (Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

Articles

This colorized German war footage shows why Stalingrad was hell on Earth

It was the pivotal battle that most historians believe turned the tide against the Nazis for good in World War II, resulting in a cascade of defeats as the Wehrmacht beat its retreat to Germany from the Soviet Eastern Front.


But it wasn’t always that way, and in the opening months of Operation Barbarossa the German army seemed poised for a stunning victory against the Red Army.

As part of its push to secure the southern Caucasian oil fields, the German 6th Army was ordered to take the city of Stalingrad in September 1942, a move some historians believe was strategically irrelevant as the Nazis were already well on their way to Baku.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
The German army quickly made it to the center of the city in Stalingrad, but was eventually cut off from resupply and forced to surrender in early 1943. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

But many believe Adolf Hitler wanted to capture the city as a thumb in the eye to Soviet leader Josef Stalin, for whom the city was renamed.

Initially, the German army was able to push well into the city, taking the Univermag department store at its center. But the Red Army dug into the city’s industrial areas along the banks of the Volga river and the battle ground down into a brutal street-by-street slugfest.

One of the Red Army’s most accomplished generals, Marshall Georgi Zhukov, hatched a plan to surround the 6th Army and cut off its supply lines. And by mid-November, the Soviets began to squeeze the Nazis inside the city.

As winter descended, the Germans were running out of food, ammunition and other supplies, and when a rescue mission launched by Field Marshall Erich Von Manstein failed to break through, the Nazi’s fate was sealed. The German forces under the command of Gen. Friedrich Paulus eventually surrendered in early February 1943.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
While the Soviets lost nearly 500,000 men in the battle, the Wehrmacht surrendered 91,000 soldiers and lost nearly 150,000. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

It was a horrific battle waged on a titanic scale in a battlefield unlike any seen in modern times. In all, the Germans lost about 147,000 men in the battle while surrendering 91,000. The Soviets took even more catastrophic losses, with 480,000 dead and 650,000 wounded. An estimated 40,000 civilians were killed in the fighting.

Watch some of the extraordinary footage sent back by German photographers of the battle for Stalingrad culled from historical archives and colorized for a more vivid portrayal from FootageArchive.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army wants your natural talent to be your MOS

The Army is working hard to determine Soldiers’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and preferences, and use those metrics to get the best military occupational fit for them, said Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands.


Doing so will surely benefit the Soldier as well as optimize Army readiness, he said.

Seamands, the G-1 deputy chief of staff, testified Feb. 14 before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. The general told lawmakers the Army is now piloting a talent assessment program that will identify talent and match it to Army requirements.

Also read: The Army needs to keep soldiers so badly, it’s offering $90K bonuses

For example, summer 2017 at the Aviation Captain’s Career Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, junior captains completed a battery of talent assessments, which provided them with individually-tailored feedback on where their talents align with the requirements of the Army’s various career specialties.

Likewise, junior captains at the Field Artillery Captain’s Career Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, are currently conducting a similar talent assessment, he said. The pilot program finishes this spring, and the Army plans to expand the assessment program to include additional career courses over the next two years.

“Our goal is comprehensive visibility of all our Soldiers’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors to best fit the right person in the right job at the right time,” he said.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Soldiers in the M-Stinger course practice target engagement with a Stinger Missile weapon system. (DoD photo)

One way to get that visibility is the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, or IPPS-A, which will transform the Army’s legacy personnel system to a 21st-century talent management system, he said.

The IPPS-A will enable the Army to manage all 1.1 million Soldiers across the total force in a single, integrated personnel and pay system that will directly impact the readiness of the Army and improve the lives of Soldiers, Seamands said.

More: Here’s why almost 60K soldiers could lose their housing allowance

Also, IPPS-A will provide a full end-to-end audit capability to ensure Army personnel and pay transactions are compliant with the law, he noted, explaining that IPPS-A “integrates software that creates distinct roles and permissions by individual positions, sets business processes, segregates duties, and generates system alerts when changes are made.”

Those are all things Seamands said are not possible with current Army personnel systems.

Initial implementation of IPPS-A will start with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in October 2018, he said.

Soldier for Life

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
(Photo by Sgt. Jermaine Baker)

In addition to finding the right jobs for Soldiers while they’re in the service, the Army is also committed to ensuring their successful transition to the right civilian jobs upon separation, Seamands said.

Each year, about 100,000 Soldiers transition from the Army via either retirement or separation, he said.

“Our mandate here is clear — we must continue to focus on preparing our Soldiers for the transition to productive veterans across our respective communities,” the general told lawmakers.

The Army’s Soldier for Life strategic outreach program has connected more than 1,000 private and public organizations to transitioning Soldiers and spouses, resulting in increased educational and employment opportunities for Army veterans and their families, he said.

Related: This former soldier says Team RWB helped him make the transition from service to civilian life

According to the Department of Labor, Soldier for Life efforts assisted in reducing the veteran unemployment rate to 3.7 percent for fiscal year 2017, along with the lowest amount of unemployment compensation for veterans in 17 years.

“We as an Army continue to enhance our policies and procedures for transitioning Soldiers and have ensured commanders understand that they must ensure their Soldiers attend VOW Act-mandated briefings,” Seamands concluded.

“In the end, it is in the Army’s and our nation’s best interest to ensure Soldiers transition successfully back into our communities. They are better able to become productive citizens as well as important ambassadors for the Army who can positively affect the propensity for others to serve.”

Articles

Here are 6 foreign weapons systems the Pentagon should buy now

America has had a long tradition of picking up some foreign weapons. Whether it was getting military aid from France during the Revolutionary War to borrowing Spitfires from England in World War II to using Israeli Kfirs as aggressors in the 1980s, our troops have put foreign-designed systems to good use. This idea makes even more sense in the face of the Pentagon being forced to tighten the belt while global threats proliferate.


So here are six foreign warfighting platforms that DoD should buy now:

1. Spain’s Alvaro de Bazan-class frigates

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

With the retirement of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, the United States could use some additional hulls in the water. The Littoral Combat Ship has had some good moments (like USS Freedom making four drug busts in seven weeks during a 2010 SOUTHCOM deployment), but that ship is still wrestling with teething problems, not the least of which is the fact that the missionized software packages that were supposed to make the LCS unique aren’t working.

The Navy plans to buy 20 frigates in the future, but perhaps they ought to look at getting Spain’s Alvaro de Bazan-class frigates instead. With a SPY-1 radar, a five-inch gun, and a 48-cell Mk 41 VLS that can fire Standard surface-to-air missiles, Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, and Vertical-Launch ASROCs, it would be a direct replacement for the Perry-class ships.

2. Denmark’s Absalon-class multi-role ships

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Denmark’s been building flexible warships for decades, thanks to the use of Stanflex technology. One of the more intriguing designs to emerge from this philosophy is the Absalon, a 4,500-ton ship that has a five-inch gun, and five “flexible” stations. These stations can carry a variety of weapons – usually 36 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles and 16 RGM-84 Harpoons.

But the real secret is that the Absalon also can serve as a small roll-on/roll-off vessel, a supply ship, or even as a treatment point for casualties. With a top speed of 24 knots, the ship can keep up with the large-deck amphibious assault ships like the Wasp and America classes. Also, at $225 million per hull, they are about five-eighths the cost of a Freedom-class littoral combat ship.

3. Ukraine’s BTMP-84

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Infantry has a tough job on the conventional battlefield. They can’t keep up with the tanks, but they are needed to support the tanks. They also, of course, need some support on the battlefield. But how to get troops to the battlefield, yet still get them some support? Ukraine’s BTMP-84 may be the answer to that.

The Ukrainians stretched a T-84, added some road wheels, and got a vehicle with the T-84’s firepower (a 125mm main gun with as many as 36 rounds of ammunition, a 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun), plus the ability to carry five infantrymen. While it doesn’t carry as many troops as a Bradley or LAV-25, its firepower more than makes up for that.

4. Brazil’s EE-9 Cascavel Armored Car

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

With the retirement of the M551 Sheridan in the mid-1990s, the 82nd Airborne is in need of some armored firepower. That two-decade search could end with the EE-9 Cascavel.

With a 90mm main gun and 44 rounds, this 13-ton vehicle can keep up with Strykers, and it can provide much more sustained fire support (Stryker Mobile Gun Systems only carry 18 rounds for their 105mm main guns). The vehicle, about the size of an M113 armored personnel carrier, could be carried by a C-130.

5. UK’s Systems Hawk 200

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Combat aircraft are expensive these days. Both the F-22 and F-35 cost over $100 million per airframe – and billions in RD. Yet having a lot of airframes is not a bad idea. The Hawk 200 is a possible solution.

With the same APG-66 radar used on the F-16, the Hawk can fire Sidewinders and AMRAAMs, making it a solid choice for air-defense. It also can carry almost 7,000 pounds of bombs or air-to-surface weapons. The U.S. Navy already operates the similar T-45 Goshawk, which means that some logistical support capability already exists. The Hawk 200 could be America’s lightweight joint strike fighter.

6. Israeli Sa’ar 6-class corvettes

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

The United States has made use of Israeli weapons in the not-so-distant past. The Marines’ Shoulder-launched Multi-purpose Assault Weapon is one such weapon. So was the RQ-2 Pioneer, best known as a spotter for naval gunfire from Iowa-class battleships during Desert Storm.

Now, Israel’s new Sa’ar 6 corvettes might be something to look at. With a 76mm gun, 16 anti-ship missiles, and 32 surface-to-air missiles, these vessels could enable the U.S. Navy to counter Russia’s Buyan-class corvettes and Gepard-class light frigates.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Russian beast is one of the biggest anti-aircraft missiles ever developed

Many of the most-well known anti-aircraft missiles are relatively small. The American FIM-92 Stinger is small enough to be carried by one person. The Sparrow can be carried by aircraft or launched from ships, and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow made the missile more compact while increasing performance.


But one anti-aircraft missile is simply huge. Meet the SA-5 Gammon, one of Russia’s many Cold War efforts to defend itself from Strategic Air Command’s bombers.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, this missile was huge, over 35 feet long. It had nearly 500 pounds of high explosives in its warhead, and came in at a weight of nearly eight tons. By comparison, the F6F Hellcat, the scourge of the Pacific Theater was 33 feet long, and weighted a bit over six tons. That’s right – this missile is larger than a World War II fighter.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
A SA-5 Gammon on its launcher. Was a similar missile the first kill for the Arrow? (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

These missiles had a long reach, able to hit targets as far as 250 miles away, and with a top speed of over 5,600 miles per hour. But when it comes to combat, the SA-5’s record has been… spotty. In 1986, these missiles were fired at U.S. Navy jets, and missed.

The batteries didn’t regret their poor marksmanship for long, as A-7 Corsairs used AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, or HARMs, to put the batteries out of action.

The massive plane-killing missile remains in some countries’ inventory, including Iran, India, Poland, Syria and North Korea. Others, like Ukraine, inherited SA-5s after the fall of the Soviet Union. One of Ukraine’s missiles was responsible for the accidental downing of a Russian Tu-154 airliner in 2001, killing 78 people. The SA-5 was also notable for being the first kill of the Israeli Arrow missile defense system.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor
Two SA-5s on their single-rail launchers, while a third is on the ground. Their immense size is apparent. (Wikimedia Commons)

With continued upgrades, the SA-5 will stick around for a while. Check out the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h6l3j_bX5g
Articles

Air Force resurrects Pave Hawk fleet from combat damage

When soldiers, airman and sailors are injured by enemy fire, ambushed or pinned down by dangerous attacks, Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters are tasked with the risky combat mission of flying in behind enemy lines — to save imperiled service members.


“We’ve made a promise to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines — and that promise is we will always come get you,” Brig. Gen. Eric Fick, Director of Global Reach Programs, Air Force Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview earlier this year.

However, the Pave Hawk fleet has been taxed by recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan; the fleet has been decimated by loss, damage and the wear and tear of consistent high-risk combat missions. As a result, the Air Force is deeply immersed in a crucial effort to restore the fleet to its needed operational strength, Fick explained.

“Due to the constant operation since 9-11, we have suffered loses of those helicopters in an operational sense. The objective is to bring back the fleet to full strength,” Fick said.

Facing the regular threat of Taliban or insurgent RPG, Pave Hawks are armed with .50-cal machine guns and 7.62mm weapons. They are also built with extra armor to defend against small arms fire and various kinds of enemy attacks.

“We are outfitted to go into a hostile environment to recover people, which is why we need extra armor and guns. The mission incorporates more than just recovering the downed airman, it could also include someone who is injured by and IED. We are outfitted to go recover them bring them back and give them the aid that they need. We can do MEDEVAC but also MEDEVAC behind the forward lines,” Fick explained.

Upgrades to the “life-saving” Pave Hawk helicopters include the addition of a color weather radar, upgraded radar warning receivers, automatic direction finders, digital intercom system and an ethernet backbone to the avionics system.

“This is most likely on a daily basis saving the lives of soldiers, airmen and sailors. When they get in trouble these are the guys (HH-60G) that come get them. These are the aircraft that let them do it,” he added.

Pave Hawk Upgrades

At the moment, the Air Force operates 97 embattled Pave Hawks; the goal is to restore the fleet to 112 helicopters.

The Air Force Pave Hawk restoration and upgrade is progressing along a two-fold trajectory involving the conversion of Army UH-60 Black Hawks and existing HH-60Gs into new models called Operational Loss Replacement, or OLR, helicopters.

The Army Black Hawks are given new communications technology, navigational systems, radar warning receivers and hoist refueling probes allowing the aircraft to refuel mid-mission. In addition, they are engineered with an infrared jammer and flare countermeasure dispensing system. The converted helicopters are also given longer range fuel tanks and increased armor for combat rescue missions, Lt. Col. Charles Mcmullen, HH-60 program element monitor, told Scout Warrior.

In total, 21 Army Black Hawks will be converted into upgraded models. Three of them will be configured as test models and 18 will go to three different guard units and then to active duty forces, Fick said. The first UH-60 helicopter has already been converted into a Pave Hawk, he added.

The creation of OLR models from HH-60G helicopters includes the addition of a color weather radar, upgraded radar warning receivers, automatic direction finders, digital intercom system and an ethernet backbone to the avionics system.

“A new color multi-function display on the dashboard can switch between an active moving map and infrared imaging system which can be used in low light to land the helicopter and pick up injured service members,” Fick added.

The new “picture in picture” color display allows pilots to merge separate laptop and control panel screens into a single screen designed to better expedite navigation and decision making while lowering the pilot’s workload.

All existing Pave Hawks will be transformed into OLR models within the next several years. The restoration of the Air Force Pave Hawk fleet is designed to preserve operational rescue helicopters until the services’ emerging new Combat Rescue Helicopter arrives in the mid 2020s.

“The mods will start next year. The challenge is we want to get the OLR birds out first. We are working the phasing and the timing of those mods to make sure we do not reduce readiness,” Fick added.

The Sikorsky-built helicopter operates two General Electric T700-GE-700 or T700-GE-701C engines, weighs 22,000 pounds and reaches speeds up to 184 miles per hour. It has an operating range of 504-miles.

Pave Hawk History

Pave Hawks combat missions began in Operation Just Cause. During Operation Desert Storm they provided combat search and rescue coverage for coalition forces in western Iraq, coastal Kuwait, the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, Air Force statements said.

They also provided emergency evacuation coverage for U.S. Navy SEAL teams penetrating the Kuwaiti coast before the invasion.

During Operation Allied Force, Pave Hawks provided continuous combat search and rescue coverage for NATO air forces, and successfully recovered two Air Force pilots who were isolated behind enemy lines.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The spectacular naval origin of the phrase, ‘son of a gun’

These days, Americans are less likely to exclaim “son of a gun” than the more-explicit “son of a b*tch,” but there was a time when “son of a gun” itself was not used in mixed company — and that time was more than 200 years after the age of sail.


It seems the Royal Navy, while not keen on having women aboard its ships, sometimes overlooked the practice. Different times throughout its history saw sailors of the Royal Navy either bring either their wives or lovers aboard ships that might be out at sea for a while. While it wasn’t officially tolerated, there are instances of a ship’s company turning a blind eye to it.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

At this point, it’s important that everyone knows I’m talking about prostitutes.

Everyone aboard a ship was counted in the ship’s log back in those days. The log was a detailed account of who was working, who came aboard, who left, who died, etc. It also kept track of who was born aboard one of the King or Queen’s ships. It was uncommon, but it did happen. Women had to get around the world just like anyone else. The Royal Navy kept this count, just like any other ship.

But say there was one of the aforementioned female guests aboard a ship. If that woman just happened to give birth aboard ship, that child would have to be kept in the log. If a child was born with uncertain paternity — that is to say, there were too many possibilities as to who the father could be — the newborn still had to be counted in the log.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Like an old-timey recording of the Maury Show.

If this was the case, the child’s name was recorded as the “son of a gun” — the son of a seaman below decks. Eventually, the common use of the phrase began to refer to any child born aboard a ship, even those of officers accompanied by their wives. Then, it began to refer to any child of a military man, not just the bastard children of sailors.

Some 200-plus years later, it’s used to lovingly refer to a mischievous person or as an expression of awe or esteem. To use an expletive or insult in the same vein, we’ve moved on as a society. Who knows where language will go next?

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard team up to rescue fisherman in the Pacific

Earlier in October, the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard worked together to save the life of a 73-year-old mariner in the Pacific Ocean.

In the morning hours of October 2, the Lady Alice, an 84-foot commercial fishing vessel sent out an emergency message. It was sailing approximately 150 miles east of Hawaii when one of its crew got sick. The victim’s fellow sailors notified the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the 73-year-old man was suffering from what appeared to be a stroke.


Despite administering medication to the victim, his shipmates were concerned that his situation might deteriorate. It was then decided that a team of Pararescuemen would jump next to Lady Alice and provide emergency medical care to the man.

A few hours later, three PJs from the 129th Rescue Wing jumped with their gear from an Air Force HC-130 Combat Talon II and then boarded the fishing vessel. Upon assessing the patient, the Air Commandos determined that he needed more advanced care and that a medical evacuation was necessary. The Navy was then called in, and an MH-60 Seahawk chopper from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 transported the patient directly to the hospital.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Pararescuemen assigned to the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing transfer a patient from an HH-60G helicopter to land-based medical facilities. This image shows an older rescue by the unit (U.S. Air Force).

“One of the greatest difficulties when dealing with cases in the Pacific is distance,” said Michael Cobb, command duty officer for Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu in a press release.
“This is why partnerships with our fellow armed services are so important out here. The Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force all have different capabilities and through teamwork, we were able to aid a mariner in need.”

Throughout the operation, a Coast Guard HC-130 from Air Station Barbers Point provided regular weather updates and general support.

The 129th Rescue Wing is part of the California National Guard.

This is another successful non-combat rescue operation for the Air Force’s Pararescuemen. Recently, and in two separate incidents, PJs saved a man and his daughter and a teen hiker who had gotten lost in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

This rescue operation showcased the interoperability between the three services, an interoperability that becomes ever more relevant and important. Great Power Competition (GPC) is the era of warfare, in which Russia, in the shorter term, and China, in the longer term, are the main threats to U.S. national security.

China currently fields the largest navy in the world. Although the U.S. Navy is aiming at a 500-ship fleet by 2045, it will be some time before that strategic vision turns into an operational capability. As a result, inter-service cooperation and interoperability are of the essence to enhance the overall effectiveness of the military.

The victim was the master of the Lady Alice. In a ship, a master is responsible for navigation. The rank used to exist in the Navy as well (it was a warrant officer position) but has long been replaced by the currently active rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.

The rank of Master also appears in the popular film “Master and Commander,” starring Russel Crowe which takes place in the Napoleonic Wars. That version of the rank, which was between the rank of Lieutenant and Post Captain, was active in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail and was given to officers who commanded a ship not large enough to merit a master or a captain (in rank).

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


MIGHTY HISTORY

The first tank to break into Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge was almost lost to history

Although its opening has been delayed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, houses historic Army artifacts like an M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle from the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, General Grant’s Forage Cap from the Civil War and an M4 Sherman tank from WWII. However, this Sherman is a rather special one. Its name is Cobra King and it holds the distinct honor of being the first tank to break through to the beleaguered 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Cobra King served with the 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division during WWII and fought through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, and into Czechoslovakia. Unlike regular Sherman tanks, Cobra King is an M4A3E2 “Jumbo” experimental variant. Classified as Assault Tanks, Jumbos were equipped with thicker armor than standard Shermans and were often re-armed with high-velocity 76mm M1 main guns (although Cobra King retained its factory short-barrel 75mm M3 gun during the Battle of the Bulge). The extra armor slowed the tanks down by 3-4 mph. Jumbos also featured duckbill-style extended end connectors fitted to the outside edges of their tracks for added weight-bearing and stability.


An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

An M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo on display in Belgium bearing 37th Tank Battalion markings (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Cobra King’s name follows the tank corps tradition of naming vehicles by the company’s designation; Cobra King belonged to the 37th Tank Battalion’s C Company. According to Army historian Patrick Jennings, Cobra King had been knocked out of action in France in November 1944. The tank was repaired and returned to action in Luxembourg. There, tank commander Charles Trover was killed by a sniper on December 23 as he stood in Cobra King’s turret. Trover was replaced by Lt. Charles Boggess who commanded Cobra King during the Battle of the Bulge.

Along with Boggess, Cobra King was crewed by driver Pvt. Hubert Smith, assistant driver/bow gunner Pvt. Harold Hafner, loader Pvt. James Murphy and gunner Cpl. Milton Dickerman. The five men led General Patton’s 3rd Army’s relief of Bastogne on December 26. Driving at full speed and sweeping the road ahead with gunfire, Cobra King made a 5-mile push through intense German resistance toward Bastogne. “I used the 75 like it was a machine gun,” Dickerman recalled. “Murphy was plenty busy throwing in shells. We shot 21 rounds in a few minutes and I don’t know how much machine gun stuff.”

Cobra King came across a team of U.S. combat engineers assaulting a pillbox. The tankers were wary of the engineers since German troops had been infiltrating U.S. lines dressed in American uniforms. Finally, one of the engineers approached Cobra King, stuck his hand out to Boggess and said, “Glad to see you.” The engineers were Americans and part of Able Company, 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. Together, Cobra King and the engineers destroyed the pillbox. The link-up marked the end of the German siege of Bastogne. For its relief of the city and the 101st, the 37th Tank Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

After six weeks in Bastogne waiting for a German counterattack, Cobra King and the 4th Armored Division rejoined the push into Germany. During this time, Cobra King became just another Sherman in the column of armor. Through February and March, the division broke through the Siegfried Line to the Kyll River and battled its way to the Rhine. On April 1, they crossed the Werra River and then crossed the Saale River 11 days later. The division continued to chase the Germans east and crossed into Pisek, Czechoslovakia in early May. After V-E Day on May 7, the division assumed occupation duties in Landshut, Germany until its inactivation the next year.

Cobra King remained in Germany while the 37th Tank Battalion was reactivated in 1951 and re-assigned to the 4th Armored Division in 1953 at Fort Hood, Texas. The 37th would later return to Europe; the division’s 1958 yearbook featured a picture of Cobra King (yet unidentified) on display at McKee Barracks in Crailsheim, Germany. In 1971, the 4th was inactivated and redesignated the 1st Armored Division. In 1994, Crailsheim was closed and all the units posted there, along with Cobra King, were relocated to Vilseck. The 1st was later relocated to Bad Kreuznach, but Cobra King stayed behind.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Cobra King had to be refitted with a 75mm gun during its restoration (Photo by Don Moriarty)

Cobra King stood in silent vigil at Vilseck as an anonymous display tank. Jennings credits Cobra King’s discovery to Army Chaplain Keith Goode, who suspected that the display tank might be the famous Cobra King. Army historians in Germany and the U.S. confirmed his suspicion after extensive research and the tank was shipped back to the states in 2009. Though the interior was damaged beyond repair by years of weather exposure, the exterior was given a full restoration at Fort Knox, Kentucky before Cobra King was put into storage at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2017, the tank was trucked up to Fort Belvoir amidst the construction of the Army Museum. When the museum does open, Cobra King will proudly stand on display as “FIRST IN BASTOGNE”.

An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo for body armor

Cobra King is emplaced on its foundation (Credit National Museum of the U.S. Army)


MIGHTY CULTURE

Strangers brave snow and ice to attend the funeral of a 91-year-old veteran

In the military community, there’s nothing more important than honoring our fallen and showing up. Earlier today, at Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO, that’s exactly what happened.


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