This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

For decades, U.S. military air operations have relied on increasingly capable multi-function manned aircraft to execute critical combat and non-combat missions. Adversaries’ abilities to detect and engage those aircraft from longer ranges have improved over time as well, however, driving up the costs for vehicle design, operation and replacement. An ability to send large numbers of small unmanned air systems with coordinated, distributed capabilities could provide U.S. forces with improved operational flexibility at much lower cost than is possible with today’s expensive, all-in-one platforms—especially if those unmanned systems could be retrieved for reuse while airborne. So far, however, the technology to project volleys of low-cost, reusable systems over great distances and retrieve them in mid-air has remained out of reach.


To help make that technology a reality, DARPA has launched the Gremlins program. Named for the imaginary, mischievous imps that became the good luck charms of many British pilots during World War II, the program envisions launching groups of UASs from existing large aircraft such as bombers or transport aircraft—as well as from fighters and other small, fixed-wing platforms—while those planes are out of range of adversary defenses. When the gremlins complete their mission, a C-130 transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
A Navy artistic depiction of a drone swarm launched from a cargo aircraft.
(U.S. Navy)

The gremlins’ expected lifetime of about 20 uses could provide significant cost advantages over expendable systems by reducing payload and airframe costs and by having lower mission and maintenance costs than conventional platforms, which are designed to operate for decades.

The Gremlins program plans to explore numerous technical areas, including:

  • Launch and recovery techniques, equipment and aircraft integration concepts
  • Low-cost, limited-life airframe designs
  • High-fidelity analysis, precision digital flight control, relative navigation and station keeping

The program aims to conduct a compelling proof-of-concept flight demonstration that could employ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and other modular, non-kinetic payloads in a robust, responsive, and affordable manner.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Now you can read about every single fallen US troop in the Vietnam War

From the day the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was erected in 1982, it has brought closure and healing to veterans who visit the solemn site. And millions of people visit “The Wall” each year.


How can a memorial bring the same feeling of remembrance and gratitude to those who can’t make the trip to Washington every year? The answer is to bring the wall to them.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
Now, the Virtual Wall, a website that archives the names of the 58,300 Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War — the names depicted on The Wall — gives veterans and curious visitors the chance to search for specific people from anywhere in the world.

There’s more to the Virtual Wall than searching for veterans by name, though. To safeguard American history and preserve local history, the Virtual Wall allows people to browse and search the names by state and city. More importantly, visitors can read about each individual’s death, often see a photo, and read more about their awards and decorations.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
Today I learned about my hometown’s Vietnam War heroes. (VirtualWall.org)

The Virtual Wall allows visitors to leave photos, memories, poems — basically anything to remember the fallen. It also allows others to see and read those personal memorials.

Related: How to honor Vietnam veterans

Each name on the pages of The Virtual Wall leads to a memorial, written by someone who had a personal connection to the man or woman remembered.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
It doesn’t have to be from a fellow veteran. It can be from someone who knew them.

While The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Washington’s National Mall is operated by the National Parks Service, the Virtual Wall is a creation of private citizens who thought a virtual version of the memorial was a good idea.

It looks a little dated (it was first launched in 1997), but the site is maintained for free, by Integration, Incorporated, a Batavia, N.Y.-based corporation and from “the pockets of three veteran volunteers.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
For example, Robert Louis Gunther died Nov. 23, 1967, the result of an artillery-related accident.

The Virtual Wall’s founder, Jim Schueckler, is a Vietnam veteran himself and its creation led the effort to the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It is also an official partner of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new Viper attack helicopters pack a huge Hellfire punch

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 received three upgraded AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Dec. 19, 2017.


The AH-1Z aircraft is an updated version of the AH-1W, bringing new capabilities and features into the squadron’s arsenal.

“The AH-1Z’s are replacing the AH-1W’s, which are essentially from the 1980’s,”said Marine Corps Capt. Julian Tucker, the squadron’s ground training officer. “Some big takeaways on the new aircraft can be summarized into greater fuel capacity, ordnance capabilities, and situational awareness.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
An AH-1Z Cobra helicopter assigned to Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron (HX) 21, based in Patuxent River, Md., Approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). This upgraded version of the Cobra is not yet available to the fleet. The helicopter features a larger engine and has two more blades than the Cobra’s original two, giving it more power and maneuverability. Wasp is conducting test flight operations and was chosen as the platform to evaluate the Limits and capabilities of newer models of Aircraft. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler)

More Firepower

The AH-1Z can carry and deploy 16 Hellfire missiles, effectively doubling the capacity of its predecessor, the AH-1W. Updated avionics systems and sensors are another important aspect of the upgrade. The upgraded capabilities allow the squadron and Marine Corps Base Hawaii to further project power and reach in the Asia-Pacific region.

“With the new turret sight system sensor, we can see threats from much further out than before,” Tucker said. “Obviously, that’s a huge advance for our situational awareness.”

Marine Corps Maj. Christopher Myette, the assistant operations officer for the squadron, piloted one of the new Vipers back from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Also Read: This is why the H-1 Huey has a special place in US military history

“Having the displays under glass is a big change from the old steam gauges,” Myette noted on the new digital display systems. “Another thing you notice is that in the electrical optical sensor, there’s a night and day difference.”

The updated electrical systems create a new situation for Marines like Sgt. Jeremy Ortega, an avionics technician with the squadron.

“The new Zulus incorporate systems from the AH-1W and the UH-1Y and essentially combine them,” Ortega said. “The upgraded turret sight systems create much more in-depth images, which allow pilots to pinpoint targets better and get more descriptive, accurate pictures.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
Photo: Sgt. Jamean Berry/USMC

Marines like Ortega are essential to keep the squadron at the peak of readiness during the transition, Myette said.

“Maintenance Marines have done an outstanding job of accepting the new aircraft,” Myette said. “They have really done the majority of the heavy lifting on this project, and we definitely appreciate them.”

Although there will be a learning curve working with the new system due to its modernity, Ortega said he is excited to work with the upgraded helicopters.

“Times are changing and things are evolving,” Ortega said. “It’s time for the AH-1W’s to go to bed. And, the AH-1Z’s are the perfect candidate to replace them.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why nuclear subs don’t try to rest on the sea floor

Before getting too deep into the details, let it be known that American nuclear submarines can come to rest on the ocean floor. Even since the early days of the nuclear sub program – dating back to Admiral Hyman Rickover himself – these submarines have been able to touch the bottom of the ocean, so long as that bottom wasn’t below their crush depths.

But the more important question is whether they should touch the bottom or not.


The Navy’s Seawolf-class nuclear submarine first started its active service life in 1997, and while it’s not the latest and greatest class, it is a good midrange representation of the possibilities of a nuclear sub. Like all U.S. nuclear subs, its real crush depth is classified, but it has an estimated 2,400 to 3,000 feet before its time runs out. So the Seawolf and its class can’t touch the very depths of any ocean, but it is able to come to rest in some areas below the surface, those areas in the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones of the ocean. These are the areas where sunlight can still reach the depths.

The problem for U.S. subs isn’t the temperature or pressure in these zones; it’s what is actually on the seafloor that can cause trouble for nuclear submarines. Rocks or other unseen objects can cause massive damage to the hull of a submarine, tearing up its vents, stealth cover, or steering.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

Or hitting a mountain like this submarine did.

What’s more, is that the submarine’s engines pull in seawater to cool steam down from its main condensers and those intakes are on the bottom of the vessel. Bottoming a submarine could cause mud and other foreign objects to be pulled into the submarine. The boat could even get lodged in the muck on the seafloor, unable to break free from the suction, like a billion-dollar boot stuck in the mud. This is why the Navy has special equipment and/or submarines for bottom-dwelling.

The U.S. Navy’s NR-1 research submarine was a personal project of Adm. Hyman Rickover, the godfather of the nuclear submarine program. The NR-1 was designed to bottom out to collect objects from the seafloor and was fitted with retractable wheels to be able to drive along the ocean’s bottom. But that’s not all; the second nuclear submarine ever built had a similar capability.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

A model of the USS Seawolf with its special operations features deployed.

The USS Seawolf (not of the later Seawolf-class) was eventually fitted with a number of unique intelligence-gathering equipment and devices that would make it very different from other submarines in the U.S. Navy fleet. Along with extra thrusters and a saturation diver dock, she was fitted with retractable sea legs so that she would be able to rest on the bottom for longer periods of time without getting damaged or stuck.

So while any submarine can bottom for evasion and espionage purposes, they really can’t stay for long. Those that are designed to hang out at the bottom aren’t likely to see the light of day anytime soon.

popular

This is why most military aircraft have ashtrays

Just as with civilian flights, ashtrays on an aircraft make little sense. According to both civilian and military guidelines, smoking is forbidden while the aircraft is in flight. The no-smoking signs are a constant sting to every smoker with the urge to light up.


And yet…there are ashtrays on aircraft.

In 1990, the U.S. banned smoking on all flights. In 2000, international airlines followed suit. But before then, smoking was allowed on planes. Even in the military, older Blackhawks were outfitted with ashtrays that required cleaning before each and every flight. John F. Kennedy’s Marine One had been made with several “smoking pits.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
JFK loved his cigars.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines were changed after the crashes of Varig Flight 820 and Air Canada Flight 797 were believed to have each been caused by smoking passengers — killing 123 and 23 people respectively.

New rules were enforced, but aircraft models were still required to have ashtrays installed…just not used.

However, if someone does light up, risking a $100k fine and the lives of everyone on-board, the flight attendants need a place to dispose of the cigarette butt. The trash bins are filled mostly with paper waste, so that’d be a terrible (read: flammable) idea.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
Don’t try it. Even if you tamper with the large smoke detector, there are more hidden through out the lavatory.

The FAA doesn’t have much jurisdiction over the U.S. military. Military operations are exempt from FAA guidelines but as a show of good faith while flying in U.S. National Airspace they follow them willingly.

Even down to the size of the UH-60 Blackhawk, an ashtray is still installed to adhere to FAA guidelines. Military helicopters still treat the cigarette butt as foreign object debris and that needs to be disposed of properly so as not to damage the aircraft.

Articles

Army’s last Kiowa scout helicopter squadron switching to Apaches

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
OH-58D Kiowa scout helicopters | US Army photo


The venerable Vietnam-era OH-58D Kiowa scout helicopters have done the job as the valued eyes and ears of the Army‘s 82nd Airborne Division, but today’s more complex battlefields demand the switchover to AH-64 Apaches, Col. Erik Gilbert said Monday.

In a telephone conference from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Gilbert, commander of the 82nd Airborne’s Combat Aviation Brigade, said the Army’s “last pure Kiowa Squadron,” now deployed to South Korea, is preparing for the switch.

Also read: This is how Royal Marines used Apaches as troop transports during a rescue mission

When the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, returns to Fort Bragg early next year, the Kiowas will likely be available for foreign sales; some will be put in storage; and others may go to the National Guard, Gilbert said.

“This rotation will be the final Kiowa Warrior Squadron mission in the Army,” Gilbert said of the South Korea deployment. He praised the Kiowa’s versatility but said the Apache has more speed, durability and firepower, and “is just a far more capable platform.”

However, Gilbert acknowledged that the Apaches still can’t match the speed at which the smaller and lighter Kiowas can be deployed to a remote airfield and be in the air to provide cover and reconnaissance for ground troops.

Kiowas can go aboard C-130 Hercules aircraft and be in the air within a half hour of landing, Gilbert said, while the bigger and heavier Apaches aboard a C-17 Globemaster take three hours.

The difference, Gilbert said, is that the Kiowas can simply be pushed off the C-130 while the Apaches have to be winched out of the C-17 and “their blades fold up a little differently.”

“No other unit in the Army is capable of such rapid night-time employment of AH-64 Apaches,” Gilbert said, but “frankly, I think we can get faster.”

The great advantage of the Apaches will be their ability to marry up with expeditionary Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to provide commanders with more battlefield options.

“The UAS is a game-changer for us,” Gilbert said. The 82nd Airborne currently has the RQ-7 Shadow UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, which can be controlled by an Apache crewman to survey enemy positions and relay information to ground forces.

For commanders, “it gives them another data source,” Gilbert said.

In the coming months, the Combat Aviation Brigade also will be acquiring the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS, similar to the Predator UAV, which has greater range, Gilbert said.

Against more advanced enemies, the Apaches tend to loiter low to avoid enemy radar, making it “harder for them to pick out targets,” Gilbert said, but the UAVs can provide that intelligence at less risk.

The transition from the Kiowa to the Apache was part of the Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative, a five-year plan aimed at retiring “legacy systems” to make way for newer technologies.

The Kiowa first flew in 1966 and was used extensively from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Kiowas first came to Fort Bragg in 1990.

Articles

US troops reach out to scared Muslim child with ‘#IWillProtectYou’ hashtag

Amid a recent wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, current members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are using social media networks to reassure all Muslim Americans, and specifically Sofia Yassini, a Texas-based 8-year-old, they will fight for the rights of all U.S. citizens.


This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
Little Sofia Yassini outside a mosque in her hometown.

Inspired the social media story of Sofia’s mother reacting to her daughter’s fear of being deported, the hashtag #IWillProtectYou started trending on Facebook and Twitter.

Sofia’s mother, Melissa Chance Yassini, originally took to Facebook to write about her daughter’s reactions to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States:

She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes. She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.

The post was shared more than 20,000 times. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and Army veteran Kerri Peek of Colorado, also a mother, saw the story.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

She posted a photo of herself in her Army uniform with the message “Here’s a picture of me as a mom and soldier and I’ll come to protect you.” Peek then asked her veteran friends to do the same.

“Post on Facebook or Twitter with the #IWillProtectYou and your picture of uniform. Make this go viral so that these children see this.”

It wasn’t just Peek’s Army friends who responded. Current and former military service members from all branches and eras are re-affirming their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Follow the trend on Twitter and Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pacific allies conduct exercise Keen Sword 21

Keen Sword is a Western Pacific region-wide multinational military exercise focused on the Japanese islands and their surrounding waters. This exercise, conducted by service elements from the United States, Canada, and Japan, is a biennial exercise conducted every other year. Keen Sword is a great representation of the cohesion and cooperation found within the U.S.-Japan Alliance and indicates the continued security focus of the Indo-pacific regional partners — a partnership that has existed for more than 60 years. Keen Sword exercises have been conducted since 1986.

A formation of ships from the Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force cruise in the Pacific Ocean at the conclusion of exercise Keen Sword, which took place Dec. 3 through 10, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo)

Keen Sword 21, or KS21, was conducted between October 26th and November 5th, 2020. The FTX (Field Training Exercise) included nearly 10,000 personnel from the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The multinational, multi-service team also saw ships from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (pictured in the feature image) and more than 100 fixed and rotary wing aircraft — from all three participant nations.

While a significant amount of the exercise concentrated on both sea-surface and aviation assets, boots on the ground were also an absolutely integral part of the training and testing. Japan Self-Defense Force CH-47JA Chinooks dropped off Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade troops while their U.S. Marine counterparts from the USS Ashland hit the beach in small boats, as the units honed their coordinated amphibious and air-mobile assault skills. INDOPACOM and it’s partners no doubt take island-to-island combat seriously.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Though many events throughout the FTX were conducted at the unit level, unilaterally, the multinational integration portions were coordinated from the BECG (bilateral exercise control group) headshed located on Yokota Air Base, outside Tokyo. And although it says “bilateral,” we need not discount the aviation and surface assets present from the Royal Canadian Navy.

In addition to all of these warfighting domains, Japan’s air defense network was also tested. United States Army and Air Force ADA personnel worked alongside their JSDF allies to synchronize everyone’s ability to protect Japan in the event of an attack.

“The intent of this exercise was to enhance our combat readiness and interoperability by combining Air Defense capabilities with those of the U.S. Air Force and Japan Self-Defense Forces and that’s exactly what we did,” said CPT Daniel F. Emig, Air Defense officer, 38th ADA.

(U.S. Navy photo)

“As we develop new and better ways to operate and integrate, exercises like this clearly demonstrate the growing strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance,” stated LTG Kevin Schneider, commander, U.S. Forces Japan.

Furthermore, CPT Naochika Fujiwara, Japan Joint Staff director of training and exercises, and BECG co-director, said, “Exercises such as Keen Sword provide the opportunity to enhance our joint-bilateral capabilities, particularly by identifying and then overcoming obstacles through realistic and challenging training scenarios. Even more, Keen Sword provided a message that our Japan-U.S. Alliance continues to be a cornerstone of regional peace and security.”

According to Japan’s Asahi newspaper, the largest ever Keen Sword exercise — the previous iteration, in 2018 included “57,000 sailors, marines and airmen” of which “Japan’s contingent of 47,000 personnel represents a fifth of the nation’s armed forces.” Given the location of the FTX, of course the host nation will have the largest available force. But USINDOPACOM, U.S. Forces Japan, and the Royal Canadian Navy all have an important and significant role to play — just as they would in a real life live-fire wartime scenario.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants its flag to be raised at a consulate it doesn’t run

The Russian Embassy in Washington has demanded that a flag removed from the now-closed Russian Consulate in Seattle be put back.

The embassy claims that the U.S. removal of the flag “under the cloak of night” in late April 2018, violated international law and was “unacceptable treatment” of the Russian national symbol.


But U.S. State Department officials countered on May 2, 2018, that the Russian flag was lowered “respectfully” from the Seattle consul-general’s residence after it was vacated in April 2018, under orders from the department.

While the Russian Embassy said the mansion is still its property and the flag should still be flying there, the department countered that the house was built on U.S. government-owned land.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
The building that housed the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The State Department said it asked Russian consulate personnel to take the flag down themselves before they vacated the premises.

U.S. officials say that U.S. diplomats took down an American flag flying at the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg with a brief ceremony when they were similarly ordered to leave by Moscow.

“Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them,” the department said, adding that it will return the flag removed in Seattle to the Russian Embassy.

The Seattle Consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government poisoned a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom with a nerve-agent in March 2018.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The Seahawks just made Thanksgiving for troops who can’t go home

Washington State is big on the U.S. military. It’s a major part of their economy and culture. More than 69,000 troops are on active duty in the state, many of those in the Seattle-Tacoma area. With those troops are more than 90,000 dependent family members who make their living in Washington.

The Seattle Seahawks consistently recognize the importance of the local military community, and that’s exactly why they wanted give its members a Thanksgiving holiday they’ll never forget.


Troops and families in Washington State face the same hardships as troops stationed anywhere. Some are unable to go home and be with their families during the holiday. And some families are missing an essential element to their holiday celebrations – a deployed loved one.

But the Seattle area has something that other big cities don’t: the Seattle Seahawks. Few NFL teams are as committed to making an impact on the community that sustains them as Seattle’s local NFL team. For them, and the state in which they live, the military is hugely important.

Recently, the Seahawks invited a large group of military personnel and their families to their home, Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. They wanted to show their appreciation to the families for their sacrifices while giving them a thoughtful Thanksgiving meal —complete with all the trimmings, of course.

Seahawks’ rookie linebacker, Shaquem Griffin, and cornerback Shaquill Griffin, twin brothers, led the family effort to get more than a hundred service members to join them in celebrating the holiday. The team served a meal to their guests and they all spent time getting to know one another throughout the day.

Of course, no Thanksgiving Day celebration would complete without a little touch football – and the Seahawks were more than happy to toss a ball around.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

(USAA)

It wasn’t just the current members of the Seahawks family who joined military families. For local Seahawks fans, the event was also a blast from the past, featuring the Seahawks’ Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, who spent his entire 14-season career in Seattle and is regularly listed among the NFL’s top all-time wideouts.

Also visiting the families was Kenny Easly, Seattle’s Hall of Fame strong safety, who is considered one of the Seahawks’ all-time greatest players.

“It’s really cool to talk to the players one-on-one and get to know them as a person,” one soldier told USAA. That sentiment was repeated by Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

The players and families got closer than expected.

(USAA)

“It’s pulling at the heartstrings,” Baldwin said. “Being able to be around them [military and their families], spend some time with them, eat some food, just like their families would back home.”

The Seahawks want the military all to know how grateful they are for everything service members sacrifice, especially during the holidays.

“Everybody that’s serving our country, we appreciate you guys so much,” Shaquill Griffin said. “I’m not just saying it to say it, but it’s an honor.”
Articles

Navy sub-hunting aircraft joins search for EgyptAir wreckage

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms


A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft joined the search Thursday over the Mediterranean for EgyptAir Flight 804 which went missing on a Paris to Cairo flight, the Pentagon said.

The P-3, flying out of Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy, was the only U.S. military asset involved in the search thus far, said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. The U.S. did not have any ships in the area and there were no immediate plans to send any, Cook said.

“At this point, it’s just the aircraft that’s involved,” he said at a Pentagon briefing.

The four-engine turboprop planes made by Lockheed Martin Corp. have been maritime surveillance and submarine hunting workhorses for the Navy for decades. The aircraft features a distinctive tail antenna, or “MAD Boom,” for the underwater magnetic detection of submarines and other objects below the surface.

EgyptAir Vice Chairman Ahmed Adel told CNN that what was believed to be the plane’s wreckage had been found in the Mediterranean about 160 miles north of the Egyptian coast. He said the search and rescue operation was on the verge of “turning into a “search and recovery” mission.

The signal from the EgyptAir Airbus A320 carrying 66 passengers and crew was lost at about 2:30 a.m. early Thursday local time as it began its approach to Cairo. None of the passengers were listed on terror watch lists and three security officials were on board the aircraft, according to CNN.

Cook declined to speculate on whether terrorism may have been involved but said U.S. law enforcement agencies were in contact with the Egyptians.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi said technical failures and terror are both possible explanations for the disappearance of the aircraft.

“But if you analyze this situation properly, the possibility of having a different action aboard, of having a terror attack, is higher than having a technical problem,” Fathi said.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Guardsmen hope this new bathroom rule will motivate soldiers

Guardsmen from the Utah Army National Guard implemented a policy of doing physical exercise prior to using the bathroom at the organization’s headquarters in Draper, Utah.

“Soldiers will perform one [Army Combat Fitness Test] leg tuck (LTK) to enter and/or exit,” a sign read in front of both female and male bathrooms.

The new rule, which the Utah Guard says will not be strictly enforced, was given by its senior enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Eric Anderson. A public affairs officer for the Utah Guard said the directive is not intended to be a serious mandate and is purely for motivational purposes.


“One of the weaknesses we noticed in our soldiers is the leg tuck,” Maj. DJ Gibb said to Insider. “We just had a couple of these pull-up bars in our work-out areas.”

The sign is intended to be a friendly prompt that “when [soldiers] get a chance, [they] should,” Gibb said, referring to the leg tuck.

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

(DoD photo by Benjamin Faske)

The purpose of the loose rule was to motivate its soldiers to pass the ACFT, the Army’s newest physical assessment test. Soldiers are expected to take two ACFT assessments by this month, and the Army will officially begin administering on-the-record tests starting October 2020.

The ACFT is comprised of six separate, timed events ranging from deadlifts to a two-mile run. The leg tuck, one of the events, requires soldiers to “complete as many … as possible in two minutes” on a pull-up bar as they “maintain a relative vertical posture while moving the hips and knees up and down without excessive swinging or kipping.”

“The LTK assesses the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles,” the Army says on its website. “These muscles assist Soldiers in load carriage and in avoiding injuries to the back.”

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test.

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

The ACFT is slated to replace the Army’s antiquated Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). The APFT consisted of a timed two-mile run, push-ups, and sit-ups and has been in use by the Army since 1980. Critics assailed the APFT for not adequately measuring the combat readiness of a soldier, and calls for a revamped test prompted the Army to research newer methods of assessing physical fitness.

Despite some concerns in the military community about the new ACFT, namely potential injuries and costs of the program, Gibb said the Utah Guard was “confident” that the new standards will continue to be met.

“I think we do put an emphasis on the readiness of our soldiers, and it’s attributed to little things like this,” Gibb said.

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

Articles

Trump’s Marine general picks all served together during the Iraq War

Just before the 1st Marine Division advanced on the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003, Maj. Gen. James Mattis pinned a star onto each collar of his assistant division commander, Col. John F. Kelly. He was now a brigadier general, and the first to be promoted on the battlefield since the Korean War.


Not far from there, another colonel in the unit named Joe Dunford was leading his regimental combat team.

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

By the end of the campaign, they had fought together in places like Nasiriyah, Al Kut, and eventually Baghdad. The division they were in — along with the US Army and UK armored elements — carried out one of the most aggressive, high-speed attacks in history, and 1st Marine Division’s ground march was the longest in the history of the Marine Corps, for which it earned the Presidential Unit Citation.

Those three officers went on to become four-star generals. Mattis retired in 2013 as the commander of Central Command, while Kelly retired as commander of US Southern Command in 2016. Dunford became commandant of the Marine Corps, and eventually chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he remains.

All three remain good friends. And if President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for his Cabinet are all confirmed, they’ll once again be serving together — only this time, it’ll be in the White House.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
DoD photo

Mattis has often been praised by senior leaders at the Pentagon as both a strategic thinker with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and an incredible leader. His legendary status among Marines mainly originated from his command of 1st Marine Division, where he popularized its motto, “No better friend, no worse enemy.”

The 66-year-old retired general is the only pick that has a legal roadblock in front of him. A 1947 law, updated in 2008, requires military officers to be out of uniform for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon. Mattis would need a waiver, which Republicans have already signaled support for.

When asked recently if he was concerned by Mattis as Trump’s pick, Gen. Joe Dunford just said, “No.”

If confirmed, Mattis would replace Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who supports Mattis and called him “extremely capable.”

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
DoD photo

John Kelly just accepted Trump’s request for him to serve as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, according to CBS News.

Like Mattis, he is a blunt speaker who opposes the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

“What tends to bother them is the fact that we’re holding them there indefinitely without trial. … It’s not the point that it’s Gitmo,” he told Defense One earlier this year. “If we send them, say, to a facility in the US, we’re still holding them without trial.”

Kelly is also the most senior-ranking military official to lose a child in combat since 9/11. His son, Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.

If confirmed, Kelly would replace Jeh Johnson.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joe Dunford

This is why DARPA wants to build reusable drone swarms
US Marine Corps photo

Joe Dunford is the last of the three generals who is still in uniform. He served briefly as commandant of the Marine Corps before President Barack Obama nominated him as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in May 2015. He earned the nickname “Fighting Joe” during his time with 1st Marine Division.

Dunford has been in the Marine Corps for 39 years, less than Mattis’ 44 years and Kelly’s 45. His chairmanship term is scheduled to run through 2017. Though the Joint Chiefs are not part of the president’s Cabinet, they are appointed by — and serve as the top military advisers to — the president.

Trump is likely to replace many of Obama’s appointees, but Dunford may not be one of them.

Typically, Joint Chiefs chairmen serve two terms, and having comrades like Mattis and Kelly in Dunford’s corner would make it much harder for Trump to replace him.

Trump has floated other generals and admirals for his Cabinet, including Gen. David Petraeus for secretary of state and Adm. Michael Rogers for director of national intelligence. Michael Flynn, his controversial choice for national security adviser, is a retired lieutenant general who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency.

These choices don’t come without pushback. Some, like Phillip Carter, a former Army officer with the Center for a New American Security, have argued that Trump’s reliance on retired military brass for traditionally civilian-led organizations could jeopardize civil-military relations.

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