European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Europe is wilting under record heat that has already sparked deadly fires and looks unlikely to relent any time soon.

The heat is exacerbating another problem that European countries have long dealt with: Still-potent weaponry left over from World War II.

At the end of July 2018, firefighters grappling with a forest fire southwest of Berlin were further challenged by unexploded World War II ammunition still buried there.


Firefighters had trouble getting inside a pine forest near Fichtenwalde, which is about 22 miles from the German capital, because of safety concerns. There were signs that some explosives had already gone off because of the fire.

The fire came within about a half-mile of the village of Fichtenwald before firefighters were able to halt the flames. Because of the leftover ammunition, they employed an extinguishing tank — a tracked vehicle used by emergency responders in dangerous situations. Such tanks are sometimes built on the frame of a battle tank.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

(EPA photo)

The fire, which may have been sparked by a discarded cigarette, also caused road congestion and closures, but firefighters were able to contain it after four days, withdrawing on July 30, 2018.

Residents of Fichtenwalde and the firefighters who battled the flames there are not only ones who’ve been exposed to leftover munitions because of the heat.

The heatwave in Germany has driven water levels so low along the Elbe River that weapons and ammunition from World War II have started to emerge. At the city of Magdeburg, the water level is just a few centimeters above the historic low measured in 1934.

In Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany, police have warned people not to touch the grenades, mines, or other weapons that have started to appear. Munitions were found five places at the end of July 2018, and over the past few weeks there have been 24 such finds , compared to 12 during all of 2017. Specialists are working overtime to deal with the munitions — sometimes defusing them where they’re found.

A police spokeswoman from the region said most of the munitions were discovered by people walking through areas usually covered by water, but some people had gone out in search of leftover explosives. “This is forbidden and dangerous,” the spokeswoman said.

Even after decades underwater, the weapons can still be active — in some cases, sediment can build up and obscure rusted exteriors and the dangerous components inside. “Found ammunition is always dangerous,” the spokeswoman said.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Dense smoke over Lithi village during a wildfire on Chios island, Greece.

(EPA photo)

Little relief on the horizon

Temperatures in Saxony-Anhalt hit a high for the year so far on July 31, 2018, and the month of July 2018 is expected to be one of the hottest months on record for Germany. Temperatures are expected to remain high in the coming days, though below record levels.

The heatwave being felt in Germany has hit much of the continent, creating all sorts of problems.

Authorities in Poland banned swimming on some beaches along the Baltic during the final days of July 2018, as unusually warm weather had stoked the growth of toxic bacteria in the water. The Rhine and Elbe rivers have also soaked up so much heat that fish living in them have started to suffocate .

In Zurich, Switzerland, police dogs were issued special shoes to keep them from burning their paws on sweltering pavement. Swiss authorities have also canceled fireworks displays out of concern they could spark forest fires. Norwegian officials have warned drivers to watch out for reindeer and sheep trying to escape the heat in tunnels.

Mediterranean countries are issuing warnings for temperatures expected to top 104 degrees Fahrenheit in early August 2018.

Italy has given a red alert — the highest of its three warning levels — for the country’s center and north.

In Portugal — where blazes killed 114 people in 2017 — officials are warning that record heat in the coming days will create a high risk of forest fires. Nearly 11,000 firefighters and 56 aircraft are standing by.

The worst of the hit in Iberia is expected to hit Spain, where at least 27 of 50 provinces have been declared under “extreme risk” from high temperatures.

Wildfires in Greece killed 91 people in June 2018.

Sweden has also seen some of its worst wildfires in decades, including some blazes above the Arctic Circle (though recent rains have improved the situation). The fires overwhelmed responders and prompted some unusual measures.

On July 25, 2018, a Swedish Gripen fighter jet dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb close to a fire approaching a military firing range near Alvdalen, where tough terrain and unexploded ammunition made traditional firefighting methods unviable.

The bomb was used to “cut” the fire, as the explosion would burn oxygen on the ground and starve the flames of fuel.

It had a “very good effect,” a Swedish official said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This astronaut was the only American not on Earth on 9/11

If you were old enough, you remember exactly where you were on September 11, 2001 when you heard about the towers falling. Personally, I was on my way home from school after being let out early as a result of the attacks, when my mother told me what had happened. We had visited Washington, D.C., just a few months before, so while I wasn’t entirely familiar with the World Trade Center, I knew exactly what the Pentagon was; the fact it had been attacked shocked me. For NASA astronaut Capt. Frank L. Culbertson, Jr., who was in space aboard the International Space Station, the attacks on 9/11 were personal.

A South Carolina native, Culbertson attended the United States Naval Academy where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. While at Annapolis, he was also a member of the Academy’s varsity rowing and wrestling teams. Following his graduation and commissioning in 1971, Ens. Culbertson served aboard the USS Fox in the Gulf of Tonkin before he reported to NAS Pensacola for flight training.


Culbertson earned his designation as a Naval Aviator in May 1973. Flying the F-4 Phantom, he served with VF-121 at NAS Miramar, VF-151 aboard the USS Midway out of Yokosuka, and with the Air Force 426th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Luke AFB where he served as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor. Culbertson then served as the Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer aboard the USS John F. Kennedy until May 1981 when he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River.
European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

A VF-151 ‘Vigilantes’ F-4 takes off (U.S. Navy)

Culbertson graduated from Test Pilot School with distinction in June 1982 and was assigned to the Carrier Systems Branch of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate. He served as the Program Manager for all F-4 testing and as a test pilot for automatic carrier landing system tests and carrier suitability. Culbertson took part in fleet replacement training in the F-14 Tomcat with VF-101 at NAS Oceana from January 1984 until his selection for the astronaut training program.

Following his selection as a NASA astronaut candidate in May 1984, Culbertson completed basic astronaut training in June 1985. Since then, he worked on redesigning and testing Space Shuttle components, served as a launch support team member on four Shuttle flights, and assisted with the Challenger accident investigations.
European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Culbertson’s official astronaut portrait (NASA)

Culbertson’s first space flight was a five-day mission from November 15-20, 1990 aboard STS-38 Atlantis. His second space flight was a 10 day mission from September 12-22, 1993 aboard STS-51 Discovery. On August 10, 2001, Culbertson made his third space flight as the only American crew member of Expedition 3 to the ISS. He lived and worked aboard the ISS for 129 days, and was in command of the station for 117 days. On 9/11, as the ISS passed over the New York City area, Culbertson took photographs of the smoke rising from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.


He later learned that American Airlines Flight 77, the aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon, had been captained by a friend of his from the Navy. Charles “Chic” Burlingame III was the pilot of Flight 77 before it was hijacked following its takeoff from Washington Dulles International Airport. Culbertson and Burlingame had both been Midshipmen, Aeronautical Engineering students, and members of the Academy’s Drum Bugle Corps together at Annapolis. Both men also went on to attend flight school and become F-4 fighter pilots. With his trumpet aboard the ISS, Culbertson played taps in honor of his friend and all the other victims of the attacks that day. The Expedition 3 crew left the ISS aboard STS-108 Endeavour and landed at Kennedy Space Center on December 17, 2001.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Culbertson’s official mission photograph for Expedition 3 (NASA)

Culbertson retired the next year on August 24. Over his long career in the Navy and with NASA, he logged over 8,900 flight hours in 55 different types of aircraft, and made 450 carrier landings, including over 350 arrested landings. His awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal. In 2010, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Of all his many achievements, Culbertson is still best known for being the only American not on Earth on 9/11.


MIGHTY HISTORY

This dominating F-16 pilot ruled the skies over Desert Storm

Operation Desert Storm was a milestone — the first major conflict America fought in the 20th century without producing a fighter ace. The top-scoring pilots during the conflict were Thomas Dietz and Bob Hehemann, Air Force F-15C Eagle pilots with three kills each, according to a list maintained by Robin Lee. There was, however, one very highly-decorated pilot forged during this conflict.


William F. Andrews was a captain in the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. Flying the General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon, Andrews would prove to be a true badass fighter pilot, earning numerous medals for valor. One of those awards happens to be one of just two Air Force Crosses awarded during Desert Storm.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Colonel William F. Andrews. (USAF photo)

On Jan. 23, 1991, Andrews led a strike against a Scud assembly plant in Fallujah. Despite heavy enemy ground fire, which included at least six surface-to-air missiles, the strike inflicted heavy damage on the target, making it harder for Saddam Hussein’s regime to fire Scuds at Israel and Saudi Arabia. For his actions, Andrews received the Distinguished Flying Cross with a Combat Distinguishing Device.

One month later, on Feb. 24, Andrews was leading a flight of F-16s on a mission when they were diverted to aid some Green Berets deep behind enemy lines. Operational Detachment Alpha 525’s hide site had been discovered by local children. Silencing the kids was not an option, so, the commander of that detachment, Chief Warrant Officer Richard Balwanz, made the call to evacuate.

Almost immediately after making the call, Balwanz’s team found itself in a firefight. Thankfully, air support was just moments away. Andrews pressed his attack, dropping bombs as enemy forces came within 200 yards of Balwanz and his men. He received his second award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving eight Green Berets.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Operational Detachment Alpha – 525, led by Chief Warrant Officer Richard Balwanz. Andrews received his second Distinguished Flying Cross for providing close-air support that enabled the unit’s safe return. (US Army photo)

Three days after that, Andrews was hit while attacking enemy armor. He ejected from his stricken F-16 and broke a leg upon landing. Despite being under fire and out in the open, Andrews provided warnings that saved his wingman and an A-10 pilot from being hit by enemy surface-to-air missiles. He was quickly captured by Saddam’s thugs, but would still attempt an escape despite his broken leg. He received the Air Force Cross for his actions.

After Desert Storm, Andrews continued to serve for another 19 years, seeing combat action in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Unfortunately, Andrew was soon faced with a different kind of battle. He died of brain cancer on June 8, 2015, but his valorous acts will always be remembered.

Articles

China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters military service

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet has entered military service, according to multiple news reports.


Reuters late Thursday reported the development, citing a Chinese military report that didn’t offer additional details.

Related: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

The twin-engine fighter, built by Chengdu Aerospace Corp. for the People’s Liberation Army’s air force, first flew in 2011 and made its public debut in November when the PLAAF showed off two of the aircraft at an airshow over coastal city Zhuhai.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
China’s J-20 | Chinese Military Review

Also in the fall, China downplayed reports that the J-20 was spotted at the Daocheng Yading Airport near Tibet or that it may be deployed near the Indian border.

With a reported top speed of 1,300 miles per hour and the ability to carry short- and long-range air-to-air missiles, the jet is often compared to the twin-engine F-22 Raptor, a fifth-generation stealth fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. for the U.S. Air Force.

But the J-20 is believed to be far less stealthy than the F-22.

“The forward-mounted canards, poorly shielded engines and underside vertical stabilizers all limit the amount that its radar cross section — which determines how visible the aircraft is to a radar — can be reduced,” Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, has written.

Even so, the apparent arrival of an operational J-20 highlights China’s growing role as a military power.

The country, the second-largest spender on defense after the U.S., is also developing with private funding the Shenyang FC-31, a twin-engine multi-role fighter that resembles Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A production variant of the FC-31 may fly in 2019.

U.S. lawmakers have in the past questioned Pentagon officials why the government hasn’t retaliated against China for copying the designs of its most advanced fighter jets.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
A rendering of the Chengdu J-20. | Screenshot via hindu judaic/YouTube

“What they’ve been able to do in such a rapid period of time without any RD … I understand there might be some differences as far as in the software and the weaponry and this and that,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, asked during a hearing in 2015. “But they’re making leaps, which are uncommon, at the behest of us, and we know this, I understand, but we’re not taking any actions against them.”

Robert Work, deputy defense secretary, at the time acknowledged that the Chinese “have stolen information from our defense contractors and it has helped them develop systems,” but he added, “we have hardened our systems.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

25 strongest militaries in Europe, according to BI

NATO member and partner forces are in Norway for a sprawling military exercise called Trident Juncture — the largest since the Cold War, officials have said.

Russia is not happy with NATO’s robust presence next to its territory and has decided to put on its own show of force.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, 2018, Russian ships will carry out rocket drills in the Norwegian Sea, west of activities related to Trident Juncture, which runs from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2018.

The exercises come at a time of heightened tension in Europe, home to some of the world’s most capable armed forces, based on the 2018 military strength ranking compiled by Global Firepower.


The ranking aims to level the playing between smaller countries with technical advantages and larger, less-sophisticated countries.

Additional factors — geography, logistical capabilities, natural resources, and industrial capacity — are taken into account, as are things like diversity of weapons and assets, national development, and manpower.

NATO members, 27 of which are European, also get a boost, as the alliance is designed to share resources and military support. The US military has a massive presence in Europe — including its largest base outside the US— but isn’t included here as the US isn’t part of Europe.

Below, you can see the 25 most powerful militaries in Europe.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Belgium air force helicopter Alouette III takes off from BNS Godetia for a tactical flight over the fjords in support of an amphibious exercise during NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise.

(NATO Photo By WO FRAN C.Valverde)

25. Belgium (Overall ranking: 68)

Power Index rating: 1.0885

Total population: 11,491,346

Total military personnel: 38,800

Total aircraft strength: 164

Fighter aircraft: 45

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 17

Defense budget: .085 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

A Portuguese sniper team identifies targets during the range-estimation event of the Europe Best Sniper Team Competition at 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, July 29, 2018.

(US Army photo by Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

24. Portugal (Overall ranking: 63)

Power Index rating: 1.0035

Total population: 10,839,514

Total military personnel: 268,500

Total aircraft strength: 93

Fighter aircraft: 24

Combat tanks: 133

Total naval assets: 41

Defense budget: .8 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Slovak soldiers report to their commander during the opening ceremony of Slovak Shield 2018 at Lest Military Training Center, Sept. 23, 2018.

(US Army photo by 1st Lt. Caitlin Sweet)

23. Slovakia (Overall ranking: 62)

Power Index rating: 0.9998

Total population: 5,445,829

Total military personnel: 14,675

Total aircraft strength: 49

Fighter aircraft: 18

Combat tanks: 22

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: id=”listicle-2617982766″.025 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Austrian soldiers load gear onto their packhorses before hiking to a high-angle range during the International Special Training Centre High-Angle/Urban Course at the Hochfilzen Training Area, Austria, Sept. 12, 2018.

(US Army photo)

22. Austria (Overall ranking: 61)

Power Index rating: 0.9953

Total population: 8,754,413

Total military personnel: 170,000

Total aircraft strength: 124

Fighter aircraft: 15

Combat tanks: 56

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: .22 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

A Bulgarian army tank crew maneuvers a T-72 tank during an exercise with US soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team at the Novo Selo Training Area, Sept. 15, 2018.

(US Army National Guard photo Sgt. Jamar Marcel Pugh)

21. Bulgaria (Overall ranking: 60)

Power Index rating: 0.9839

Total population: 7,101,510

Total military personnel: 52,650

Total aircraft strength: 73

Fighter aircraft: 20

Combat tanks: 531

Total naval assets: 29

Defense budget: 0 million

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Standing NATO Maritime Group One trains with Finnish fast-attack missile boat FNS Hanko during a passing exercise in the Baltic Sea, Aug. 28, 2017.

(NATO photo by Christian Valverde)

20. Finland (Overall ranking: 59)

Power Index rating: 0.9687

Total population: 5,518,371

Total military personnel: 262,050

Total aircraft strength: 153

Fighter aircraft: 55

Combat tanks: 160

Total naval assets: 270

Defense budget: .66 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Cpl. Cedric Jackson, a US soldier from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of Army’s 1st Infantry Division, assists a Hungarian soldier in applying tape to secure a fluid-administration tube to a simulated casualty during a combat life-saver course led by US troops in Tata, Hungary, Dec. 2017.

(US Army photo by 2nd Lt. Gabor Horvath)

19. Hungary (Overall ranking: 57)

Power Index rating: 0.9153

Total population: 9,850,845

Total military personnel: 77,250

Total aircraft strength: 35

Fighter aircraft: 12

Combat tanks: 32

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: id=”listicle-2617982766″.04 billion

18. Denmark (Overall ranking: 54)

Power Index rating: 0.9084

Total population: 5,605,948

Total military personnel: 75,150

Total aircraft strength: 113

Fighter aircraft: 33

Combat tanks: 57

Total naval assets: 90

Defense budget: .44 billion

17. Belarus (Overall ranking: 41)

Power Index rating: 0.7315

Total population: 9,549,747

Total military personnel: 401,250

Total aircraft strength: 202

Fighter aircraft: 43

Combat tanks: 515

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: 5 million

16. Romania (Overall ranking: 40)

Power Index rating: 0.7205

Total population: 21,529,967

Total military personnel: 177,750

Total aircraft strength: 135

Fighter aircraft: 34

Combat tanks: 827

Total naval assets: 48

Defense budget: .19 billion

15. Netherlands (Overall ranking: 38)

Power Index rating: 0.7113

Total population: 17,084,719

Total military personnel: 53,205

Total aircraft strength: 165

Fighter aircraft: 61

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 56

Defense budget: .84 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

A Norwegian soldier takes aim during Trident Juncture 18 near Røros, Norway, Oct. 2018.

(NATO photo)

14. Norway (Overall ranking: 36)

Power Index rating: 0.6784

Total population: 5,320,045

Total military personnel: 72,500

Total aircraft strength: 128

Fighter aircraft: 49

Combat tanks: 52

Total naval assets: 62

Defense budget: billion

13. Switzerland (Overall ranking: 34)

Power Index rating: 0.6634

Total population: 8,236,303

Total military personnel: 171,000

Total aircraft strength: 167

Fighter aircraft: 54

Combat tanks: 134

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: .83 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Swedish air force Pvt. Salem Mimic, left, and Pvt. Andreas Frojd, right, both with Counter Special Forces Platoon, provide security for US Air Force airmen and aircraft on the flight line at Kallax Air Base, Sweden, during Exercise Trident Juncture 18, Oct. 26, 2018.

(Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

12. Sweden (Overall ranking: 31)

Power Index rating: 0.6071

Total population: 9,960,487

Total military personnel: 43,875

Total aircraft strength: 206

Fighter aircraft: 72

Combat tanks: 120

Total naval assets: 63

Defense budget: .2 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

erved by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in Prague, Czech Republic, Oct. 28, 2018.

(Defense Department photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

11. Czech Republic (Overall ranking: 30)

Power Index rating: 0.5969

Total population: 10,674,723

Total military personnel: 29,050

Total aircraft strength: 103

Fighter aircraft: 12

Combat tanks: 123

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: .6 billion

10. Ukraine (Overall ranking: 29)

Power Index rating: 0.5383

Total population: 44,033,874

Total military personnel: 1,182,000

Total aircraft strength: 240

Fighter aircraft: 39

Combat tanks: 2,214

Total naval assets: 25

Defense budget: .88 billion

9. Greece (Overall ranking: 28)

Power Index rating: 0.5255

Total population: 10,768,477

Total military personnel: 413,750

Total aircraft strength: 567

Fighter aircraft: 189

Combat tanks: 1,345

Total naval assets: 115

Defense budget: .54 billion

8. Poland (Overall ranking: 22)

Power Index rating: 0.4276

Total population: 38,476,269

Total military personnel: 184,650

Total aircraft strength: 466

Fighter aircraft: 99

Combat tanks: 1,065

Total naval assets: 83

Defense budget: .36 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

A sniper and spotter from the Spanish Lepanto Battalion line up their target near Folldal during Exercise Trident Juncture, using the .50 caliber Barrett and the .338 caliber Accuracy sniper rifles, firing at targets over 1,000 meters away.

(Photo by 1st German/Netherlands Corps)

7. Spain (Overall ranking: 19)

Power Index rating: 0.4079

Total population: 48,958,159

Total military personnel: 174,700

Total aircraft strength: 524

Fighter aircraft: 122

Combat tanks: 327

Total naval assets: 46 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: .6 billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

An Italian F-35A fighter jet with special tail markings.

(Italian Air Force photo)

6. Italy (Overall ranking: 11)

Power Index rating: 0.2565

Total population: 62,137,802

Total military personnel: 267,500

Total aircraft strength: 828

Fighter aircraft: 90

Combat tanks: 200

Total naval assets: 143 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: .7 billion

5. Germany (Overall ranking: 10)

Power Index rating: 0.2461

Total population: 80,594,017

Total military personnel: 208,641

Total aircraft strength: 714

Fighter aircraft: 94

Combat tanks: 432

Total naval assets: 81

Defense budget: .2 billion

4. Turkey (Overall ranking: 9)

Power Index rating: 0.2216

Total population: 80,845,215

Total military personnel: 710,565

Total aircraft strength: 1,056

Fighter aircraft: 207

Combat tanks: 2,446

Total naval assets: 194

Defense budget: .2 billion

3. United Kingdom (Overall ranking: 6)

Power Index rating: 0.1917

Total population: 64,769,452

Total military personnel: 279,230

Total aircraft strength: 832

Fighter aircraft: 103

Combat tanks: 227

Total naval assets: 76 (two aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

French sailors watch the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush as it transits alongside the French navy frigate Forbin, Oct. 25, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage)

2. France (Overall ranking: 5)

Power Index rating: 0.1869

Total population: 67,106,161

Total military personnel: 388,635

Total aircraft strength: 1,262

Fighter aircraft: 299

Combat tanks: 406

Total naval assets: 118 (four aircraft carriers)

Defense budget: billion

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II

Russian troops participating in the Zapad 2017 exercises in Belarus and Russia.

(Russian Ministry of Defense photo)

1. Russia (Overall ranking: 2)

Power Index rating: 0.0841

Total population: 142,257,519

Total military personnel: 3,586,128

Total aircraft strength: 3,914

Fighter aircraft: 818

Combat tanks: 20,300

Total naval assets: 352 (one aircraft carrier)

Defense budget: billion

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

popular

Watch what happens when paratroopers jump with a GoPro

The GoPro Camera has provided us with a ton of awesome videos. But what do you think happens when paratroopers get a hold of one? Yeah, they take it on a jump.


Probably one of the best descriptors of the ethos of the paratroopers is the “Rule of the LGOPs.” The rule describes a fascinating effect that when, in battle, an Airbone plan dissolves, you’re left with something truly fearsome: Small groups of 19-year-olds who are willing to jump from a plane, armed to the teeth, and lacking serious adult supervision and…well, you get the idea.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Fort Bragg paratroopers in action. (Army Photo by Sgt. Steven Galimore.)

But in peacetime, if these same paratroopers want to remain fearsome, they need to keep their training up. This means lots of practice jumps from aircraft. This not only helps the paratroopers, it helps the crews.

Luckily for us, the 173rd Airborne Brigade brought a GoPro on one of these practice jumps, joined by Serbian Army paratroopers from the 63rd Parachute Brigade.

These paratroopers used a pair of C-130 transport planes during an exercise code-named Double Eagle. A C-130 can carry as many as 64 paratroopers on board, according to an Air Force fact sheet. A version known as the C-130J-30 can carry as many as 92.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jasmonet Jackson)

The 173rd Airborne Brigade was part of the 87th Infantry Division in World War I, and saw some action in World War II when its headquarters company as designated the 87th Reconnaissance Troop. In 1963, it was activated, and eventually saw action in Vietnam before being inactivated. In 2000, it was reactivated, and has remained part of the active Army as a quick-reaction force based in Italy. The 173rd has generations of experience under its belt; let’s watch them put that experience to the test.

Take a look at the video below to see a first-person perspective of a parachute jump.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how servicewomen honor those who’ve fallen

Nearly 40 Air and Army National Guard women gathered at the Arlington National Cemetery Oct. 21 with hundreds of active duty, retired, and reserve service members from all branches of the military to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.


Honoring US Military Women

The memorial honors all women who have defended America throughout history. The gathering featured a weekend filled with remembrance, honor, service, leadership, mentorship, and inspiration.

“It just makes you reflect back on how much has changed in these 20 years, and the sacrifices that women are still making,” said Army Col. Cynthia Tinkham, the Oklahoma National Guard’s director of personnel. Tinkham is one of five of the event attendees with the Oklahoma Guard who were present at the memorial’s dedication 20 years ago.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Men and women participate in a half-mile honor walk through Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, Oct. 21, 2017. US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kasey Phipps.

The memorial here serves as a 4.2-acre ceremonial entrance into Arlington National Cemetery. The memorial honors the nearly 3 million women who have served or are serving in or with the US military since the American Revolution.

Also Read: The 7 everyday struggles of women in the military

The group arrived here Oct. 20, touring the memorial’s long arching hall of memorabilia that covers the history of US women in military service.

“I’ve learned a lot about women’s history and the impact it has on the Air Force and every other branch,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jaimie Haase, a member of the Air National Guard.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Women toss rose petals into the reflecting pool of the Women in Military Service for America memorial during a ceremony that honored the 15 fallen women of the US Armed Forces since 2012, Oct. 21, 2017, in Washington DC. US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kasey Phipps.

WIMSA’s 20th Anniversary Ceremony

Major events throughout the weekend included a celebration dinner, WIMSA’s 20th Anniversary ceremony, an honor walk, and an after-dark service of remembrance. Attendees ranged from women World War II veterans to those currently serving in all branches of the US military.

The keynote speaker of the morning’s ceremony, retired Air Force Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, who’s also the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in Services chair, compared her experience at the dedication in 1997 to the 20th anniversary ceremony this year, emphasizing that each year there are more “firsts” to celebrate — the first woman to serve in a particular branch, in a particular career field, and the first to die while serving.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Former Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger speaks about sustaining the force at the 2013 Air Force Association’s 2013 Air Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Nesha Humes.

“There are so many firsts that the memorial represents,” Wolfenbarger said. “But, the real objective is that there are no more firsts.”

Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Ryan emphasized the importance of honoring the past later that evening as attendees held candles honoring the lives of the 167 women who have fallen since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Related: 15 women who helped pave the way in the Army

“We can never forget our history and those who have perished for the sake of us all,” said Ryan, who was asked to speak at the event in honor of the women killed in action.

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Women from the National Guard hold candlelights during a remembrance ceremony for all the women servicemembers who have died in the line of duty, Oct. 21, 2017, at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington Cemetary in Washington D.C. US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kasey Phipps

“Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance,” he added.

Among the fallen was both the youngest and only woman in the Oklahoma National Guard to die in combat, 19-year-old Army Spc. Sarina Butcher, who was killed in 2011 in Afghanistan and is honored within the memorial.

“These women represent a bridge to those that came before them,” said Tinkham who spoke on behalf of fallen women. “To those of the new and current generation and to those still to join, I implore you to keep telling their stories. Be proud of them. Honor them … and tell your own stories.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Former sailor turned chef prepares a Thanksgiving feast for his fellow veterans

From stories of MRE jalapeño cheese-packet mac cheese to homecoming meals made by family members, the fond memories of food while serving can be vivid and sometimes terrifying. Watch how Navy veteran and pop-up chef August Dannehl cooks a four-course meal for his fellow vets with each course inspired by the veterans’ stories from service.


Amuse: Habanero Truffle Mac Cheese with 3 Cheeses and Leek

David Burnell’s memory comes from the times serving in the Marines when he could take the time to enjoy a self-made concoction of mac and cheese using the jalapeño cheese packet and spaghetti noodle pack from the MRE.

Appetizer: Striped Bass Ceviche with Uni and Yucca Chip

Daphne Bye’s memory is from her father’s traditional Peruvian Ceviche, which he made for her every time she came home. Daphne was brought up on the flavors of South America and would always crave the Ceviche, homemade by her family, especially when away from home for extended periods of time.

1st Course: Short Rib Carne Asada with Platanos and Apricot Mojo

Max Tijerino’s memory comes from his childhood. While he was deployed in the Marines, he would crave his mother’s Nicaraguan version of Carne Asada with fried sweet plantains. It was a dish that would always take him back to being a child, growing up as the son of an immigrant mother in Miami.

Main Course: Beer-Can Roasted Chicken with French Pomme Puree

Jawana McFadden’s memory is from her time in Army training. Her mother, being a vegan, brought her up to eat meat very rarely which lead to Jawana being completely pork-free. During Army training the constant bacon, ham sandwiches, and pork chops forced Jawana to eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So coming home, Jawana’s mother went out of her way to make her a beautiful roasted chicken.
MIGHTY CULTURE

Can you pass the US citizenship test?

Many people dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. The process is notoriously arduous and taxing, but the most nerve-wracking part for many is taking the U.S. citizenship test. It’s so difficult, in fact, that according to NBCNews, only 36% of American citizens could pass the test. That’s like around the same percentage of students at Arizona State that could pass an STD test. Yikes.

Some of the foundational, basic, questions are reportedly missed by as much as 60% of the population. For instance, only 39% of American test takers know how many justices serve on the supreme court. If you’re thinking, “Uhhh… I dunno, like 50…Or 12?” You’re probably in good company. You’re also wrong. It’s nine. That’s a freebie—follow along, and then plug your answers into the key at the bottom to see how well you fare.

If you get at least six correct you pass. No peeking!


How many members are in the House of Representatives? 

A.) 435
B.) 350
C.) 503
D.) 69

Who is in charge of the executive branch?

A.) The President
B.) Secretary of Defense
C.) Speaker of the House
D.) Majority Whip

What piece of land did the United States purchase from France in 1803?

A.) Alaska Purchase
B.) Gadsden Purchase
C.) Louisiana Purchase
D.) Hawaii

How many U.S. senators are there?

A.) 50
B.) 100
C.) 200
D.) 400

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Stolen by Nicolas Cage in 2004… and 2007?

When was the constitution written?

A.) 1692
B.) 1802
C.) 1776
D.) 1787

How many amendments does the constitution have?

A.) 27
B.) 25
C.) 20
D.) 14

Who was the President during World War I?

A.) Calvin Cooldige
B.) Woodrow Wilson
C.) Franklin D. Roosevelt
D.) Harry Truman

Under the constitution, which of these powers does not belong to the federal government? 

A.) Print money
B.) Declare war
C.) Ratify amendments to the Constitution
D.) Make treaties with foreign powers

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U.S. senate floor.

We elect a U.S. senator for how many years?

A.) Six years
B.) Four years
C.) Eight years
D.) Two years

The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. constitution. Which of these men was not one of the authors? 

A.) Alexander Hamilton
B.) John Adams
C.) James Madison
D.) John Jay

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Spc. Jorge Vilicana takes general Army test

(Capt. David Gasperson)

ANSWER KEY

  1. a
  2. a
  3. c
  4. b
  5. d
  6. a
  7. b
  8. c
  9. a
  10. b
If you got at least 6/10 right—congrats you passed the U.S. citizenship test! If you didn’t—you can always just lie in comments section and say you did!
MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force personnel: Here’s how you can join the Space Force

The United States Space Force, America’s newest military branch, will begin accepting applications from Air Force personnel to join the Space Force as early as May 1. Enlisted and commissioned Air Force personnel that are eligible to apply for transfer can expect to receive an e-mail from the Air Force Personnel Center early next month to announce the opening of the application process.


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What is the Space Force?

The United States Space Force is a newly established military branch dedicated to the defense of America’s orbital assets and eventually even offensive space-based operations.

The United States maintains a massive satellite infrastructure relied on all over the world for everything from navigation to communications to early missile warnings. However, as former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson put it, “We built a glass house before the invention of stones.”

In recent years, nations like Russia and China (each with their own space-based military branches) have rapidly developed weapons designed to interfere with or destroy American satellites. Some of the primary responsibilities of the Space Force currently are tracking orbital bodies (including satellites and debris), mitigating threats to America’s orbital assets, and developing a new infrastructure around “hardening” American satellites or rapidly replacing any that become compromised.

The Space Force has inherited these responsibilities from the Air Force Space Command, making the Air Force personnel tasked with operating that command great candidates for transfer to the new branch.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey)

What Military Occupational Specialties are eligible to join the Space Force?

In all, 16 MOS’s from the Air Force have been listed as essential to the Space Force and therefore eligible for transfer. Of these occupational specialties, two are considered the most coveted by the new branch: space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6).

However, Airmen in any of the following occupational specialties are eligible to apply for transfer to the Space Force:

  • 13S Space Ops
  • 1C6 Space Systems Ops
  • 14N Intel
  • 17C Cyber Ops Officer
  • 17D Cyber Ops
  • 1N0 All Source Intel
  • 1N1 Geospatial Intel
  • 1N2 Signals Intel
  • 3D1N4 Fusion Analysis
  • 3D0 Cyber Ops
  • 3D1 Cyber Support
  • 62E Development Engineer
  • 62S Materiel Leader
  • 63A Acquisition Manager
  • 63G Senior Materiel Ldr-Upper Ech
  • 63S Materiel Leader
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(USAF Photo)

How do you apply to join the Space Force?

The Air Force Personnel Center will send an e-mail on or around May 1 to eligible Airmen with instructions on how to move forward with your application.

If accepted, officers will need to commission into the Space Force, and enlisted personnel will need to re-enlist into the new branch.

Once accepted, the transfers will begin on September 1. Volunteers requesting to be transferred to the Space Force will be chosen based on the needs of the force.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Grim)

What if I’m being transferred to the Space Force but wish to stay in the Air Force?

If you are in a career field that is being transferred to the Space Force but do not wish to transfer out of the Air Force, you’ll have a few options. The Air Force recommends that you work with your existing chain of command to explore options available to you, such as retraining for a new occupational specialty, transferring to the guard or reserve, or applying for separation or retirement.

In the mean time, you will continue to be assigned to the Air Force but may be assigned roles that support the Space Force until the transition is completed sometime in 2022.

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(U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

Can I join the Space Force if I’m in the Air Force Reserve or Guard?

Currently, no. If you are already assigned to the support space operations alongside the Space Force, you will currently remain in your Air Force Reserve or Guard unit. Officials are currently trying to assess how best to manage guard and reserve assignments to the Space Force, and things may change eventually.

What if I think I’m eligible for the Space Force but I don’t receive an e-mail telling me how to apply?

If you have one of the occupational specialties listed above but you don’t receive an e-mail from the Air Force Personnel Center telling you that you’re eligible to request a transfer, you are advised to engage with your chain of command and then to contact either the Total Force Service Center or the Air Force Personnel Center.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill M. Sanders/Released)

What if I want to apply for transfer to the Space Force but I’m in a branch other than in the Air Force?

Currently, there is no new established process to request a transfer from the Army, Navy, or Marines, but that will likely change in the future. The Space Force is establishing a foundation for the branch through military personnel already trained for space operations, which is why the focus has been placed on the Air Force.

“There is a general authority for all members of other services to always ask to cross-commission; that’s an authority that already exists,” Gen. David “DT” Thompson, vice commander of Space Force, said. “But before [the Space Force] actively engages with the Army and the Navy, we need to make sure through the secretary of defense, through the joint chiefs of staff and through the leaders of the services … how we’re going to take that approach, and who should be eligible to be directly asked or not.

“That’s work [that still needs] to be done,” he said.

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

Articles

US to move mobile land artillery weapons to South China Sea

Senior Army and Pentagon strategists and planners are considering ways to fire existing weapons platforms in new ways around the globe – including the possible placement of mobile artillery units in areas of the South China Sea to, if necessary, function as air-defense weapons to knock incoming rockets and cruise missiles out of the sky, senior Pentagon and Army officials told Scout Warrior.


Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, has said he thinks the U.S. should think about new ways of using land-based rockets and howitzer systems as offensive and defensive weapons in areas of the South China Sea.

Such a move would better ensure access and maneuverability for U.S. and allied ships, assets and weapons in contested or tense areas, he explained.

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Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Ali Azimi

Howitzers or Paladins could be used as a mobile, direct countermeasures to incoming rockets, he said.  A key advantage to using a Paladin is that it is a mobile platform which could adjust to moving or fast-changing approaching enemy fire.

“We could use existing Howitzers and that type of munition (155m shells) to knock out incoming threats when people try to hit us from the air at long ranges using rockets and cruise missiles,” a senior Army official told Scout Warrior in an interview.

This consideration comes not long after Pentagon officials confirmed that satellite pictures show the Chinese have placed weapons such as Surface to Air Missiles in areas of the South China Sea.

Having land-based rockets or artillery could give US and allied forces both strategic and tactical assistance.

“A Howitzer can go where it has to go. It is a way of changing an offensive weapon and using it in dual capacity,” the official explained. “This opens the door to opportunities and options we have not had before with mobile defensive platforms and offensive capabilities.”

Mobile air defenses such as an Army M777 or Paladin Howitzer weapon could use precision rounds and advancing fire-control technology to destroy threatening air assets such as enemy aircraft, drones or incoming artillery fire.

Alongside the South China Sea, more mobile artillery weapons used for air defense could also prove useful in areas such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe, officials said. Having mobile counter-air weapons such as the M109 Paladin, able to fire 155m precision rounds on-the-move, could prove to be an effective air-defense deterrent against Russian missiles, aircraft and rockets in Eastern Europe, the senior Army official told Scout Warrior.

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Carlos R. Davis, 210th Fires Brigade public affairs NC

Regarding the South China Sea, the U.S. has a nuanced or complicated relationship with China involving both rivalry and cooperation; the recent Chinese move to put surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets on claimed territory in the South China Sea has escalated tensions and led Pentagon planners to consider various options.

Officials are clear to emphasize that no decisions have been made along these lines, yet it is one of the things being considered. Pentagon officials have opposed further militarization of the area and emphasized that the territorial disputes in the South China Sea need to be resolved peacefully and diplomatically.

At the same time, Pentagon officials have publically stated the U.S. will continue “freedom of navigation” exercises wherein Navy ships sail within 12 miles of territory claimed by the Chinese – and tensions are clearly on the rise.  In addition to these activities, it is entirely possible the U.S. could also find ways to deploy more offensive and defensive weapons to the region.

Naturally, a move of this kind would need to involve close coordination with U.S. allies in the region, as the U.S. claims no territory in the South China Sea. However, this would involve the deployment of a weapons system which has historically been used for offensive attacks on land. The effort could use an M777 Howitzer or Paladin, weapons able to fire 155m rounds.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

11 of the most powerful fully electric cars money can buy

Though it gets a lot of attention, Tesla isn’t the only company creating electric cars.

Some traditional carmakers like Aston Martin and Porsche are exploring the rapidly-growing electric car field with super powerful new models which add their own flair for luxury and speed to the market.

Meanwhile, other much smaller companies are exploring the high-end electric sector, such as the relatively unknown Aspark — which hasn’t even released a production vehicle yet.

Horsepower is measured a little differently for electric cars, as an electric motors’ full torque is deployed as soon as the driver steps on the accelerator. That means an electric car can feel more powerful than an internal-combustion-engined (ICE) car with the same horsepower rating at the low end, but start to lose some of its gusto at sustained high speeds unlike a gas-powered car.

With that crucial difference in mind, here are 11 of the most powerful electric cars money can buy, including some that are setting world records.


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Nio EP9.

1. Nio EP9

Nio has been called the “ Tesla of China.” With the EP9 supercar, it’s obvious the company means business.

The car has a top speed of 195 mph and horsepower rating of 1,341, giving it a zero-to-60 time of only 2.7 seconds. Nio boasts the car has double the downforce of a Formula One racecar and delivers a F-22 fighter pilot experience by cornering at 3G.

The EP9 has a range of 265 miles before needing a new charge, and a full charge takes 45 minutes. The car also has an interchangeable battery system that takes 8 minutes to swap.

The Nio EP9 is also self-driving and set a record in 2017 for the fastest lap driven by an autonomous car at the Circuit of Americas track.

At least six of the 16 produced units have been sold to investors at id=”listicle-2639641248″.2 million each.

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2018 Tesla Model S 75D.

2. Tesla Model S Performance

Tesla no longer boasts the horsepower ratings for its cars, but the ,990 Tesla Model S Performance is plenty powerful. It can propel its nearly 5,000-pound frame to 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds. Tesla says its top speed is 163 mph and it carries an average range of 345 before complete discharge.

Owners can recharge at the company’s Supercharger locations, where 15 minutes is good for 130 miles in optimal conditions.

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Rimac’s C_Two.

(Rimac)

3. Rimac’s Concept One and C_Two

Rimac’s Concept One, which debuted in 2011, has a rating of 1,224 horsepower, allowing it to reach top speeds of 220 mph and hit 62 mph from a standstill in just 2.5 seconds. The nearly id=”listicle-2639641248″ million supercar’s 90 kWh battery pack gives it a 310-mile range.

Rimac made only 88 units of the supercar, and British TV personality Richard Hammond famously crashed one in 2017.

In 2018, the Croatian company unveiled Concept One’s successor, the C_Two. With a 1,914 horsepower rating and a 403-mile range, the newer sibling is able to go from zero-to-60 in 1.85 seconds and a 256 mph top speed

The supercar can be charged 80% in 30 minutes when it’s connected to a 250 kW fast-charging network. It also includes a list of driver assistance systems, such as facial recognition to open doors and start the engine. It can also scan your face to determine your mood, and if the C_Two determines emotion s such as stress or anger, it will start playing soothing music.

The planned 150 units of the .1 million car were nearly all purchased within three weeks of orders opening. The cars will be delivered in 2020.

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Genovation GXE.

(Genovation)

4. Genovation GXE

The Genovation GXE is a converted all-electric Chevy Corvette with a horsepower rating of 800. It currently holds the record for “fastest street-legal electric car to exceed 209 mph,” but the company claims it can even get to 220 mph. It can go zero-to-60 mph in under three seconds.

The 0,000 car also has a range of about 175 miles, according to Genovation’s computer simulations.

Delivery of the 75 planned units will begin by the end of 2019.

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2020 Tesla Roadster.

(Tesla)

5. Tesla Roadster

The next generation of the Tesla Roadster is arriving soon.

This new Roadster will be able to hit top speeds of over 250 mph, and 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, Tesla says. There’s also a removable glass roof that stores in the trunk, turning the car into a convertible.

The 0,000 car also will have a 620-mile range, the longest of any on our list.

The company is now taking reservations for 2020 delivery.

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Aspark Owl.

6. Aspark Owl

The Aspark Owl, a 1,150 horsepower supercar, will be able to reach 174 mph and have a 180-mile range. The Owl recently hit 62 mph in 1.9 seconds, although it’s still in testing.

Only 50 of the .6 million car will be produced, according to Bloomberg, and the company plans on delivering them in mid-2020.

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Porsche Taycan.

(Porsche)

7. Porsche Taycan

Formally known as the Mission E, the Taycan will be Porsche’s first fully-electric car. Porsche initially had a target of 20,000 units for its first year of production, but it recently doubled this number due to interest, and the company already has more 30,000 reservations, it recently revealed.

The Taycan has a horsepower rating of over 600 that allows it to travel zero-to-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. The car also has a range of 310 miles on a single charge and can get 60 miles of range from just four minutes of charging.

The supercar is expected to have a starting price of ,000,according to the Drive.

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Dendrobium D-1.

(Dendrobium)

8. Dendrobium D-1

The D-1 is the first in a series of electric cars by Dendrobium Automotiv e. The car originally debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and made an appearance at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event.

The car is still a prototype but is estimated to have an output of 1,800 horsepower, giving it a top speed of over 200 mph and the ability to see 60 mph in 2.7 seconds.

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Pininfarina Battista.

9. Pininfarina Battista

The Battista is a 1,900 horsepower rated electric car from Automobili Pininfarina. The Battista can reach 60 mph in under two seconds.

The Battista will have a range of around 300 miles on one charge.

North America will see 50 out of the 150 Battista units that will be made. Half of those 50 have already been claimed, despite a .5 million price tag, according to CNBC.

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Aston Martin Lagonda.

10. Aston Martin Rapide E

Rapide E will be Aston Martin’s first fully electric vehicle. The 612-horsepower car can reach a top speed of 155 mph and can go zero-to-60 mph in four seconds.

The 0,000 car has a range of around 200 miles and can be fully charged in three hours in ideal conditions.

Only 155 units of the Rapide E will be made available with deliveries starting in 2020. One of them may be driven by Daniel Craig in the next James Bond film, according to British media reports.

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Lotus Evija.

(Lotus)

11. Lotus Evija

Lotus’ Evija is poised to be the first fully-electric British hypercar. The company will fully reveal the Evija during Monterey Car Week starting Aug. 9, 2019.

Although the company has not released final specifications, its target is 2,000 horsepower, which would be good for a zero-to-62 mph acceleration time of under three seconds and a top speed of around 200 mph, according to CNET.

The car will cost around million and 130 units will be made.

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

Articles

This is what makes tankers so deadly

American tankers were slightly late to the armored game, historically. Britain first rolled out the tank in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, before America even joined the war. In fact, America wasn’t even able to get its first tank, the M1917, to production in time to fight in World War I.


But America came roaring back in World War II with pioneers of armored doctrine, including the first American tank officer, George S. Patton. Since then, tanks have had a respected place in the pantheon of American combat arms. Today, tankers drive the M1 Abrams tanks into battle. Here’s what makes them so lethal.

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U.S. Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fire an M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams Main Battle Tank during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the 7th Army Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Aug. 18, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger)

Abrams tanks are highly mobile, capable of propelling themselves at speeds of over 40 mph despite their approximately 68 short tons of weight. That weight goes even higher if the tank is equipped with protection kits like the Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK).

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M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks move to engage targets during a joint combined arms live-fire exercise near Camp Buehring, Kuwait Dec. 6-7, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

Once it gets within range of its target, the Abrams crew can fire their 120mm smoothbore cannon, the M256A1. The cannon can use a variety of ammunition including high-explosive, anti-tank (HEAT) ammo; canister rounds that are basically tank-sized shotgun shells; and sabot rounds, depleted uranium darts that shoot through armor and turn into a fast-moving cloud of razor-sharp, white-hot bits of metal inside the enemy tank.

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Marines with 1st Tank Battalion fire the M1A1 Abrams tank during the 11th Annual Tank Gunnery Competition at Range 500, Feb. 20, 2016. The competition was divided into six segments to test the skills of the tank crewmen. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ali Azimi)

These tank rounds make short work of most enemy tanks, but they’re also heavy. Loaders have to move them from storage racks to the gun by hand, and each round weighs between 40 and 51 pounds.

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A pallet full of 120mm rounds sit waiting to be loaded and fired from the M1A2 tanks during gunnery. Considering that just one 120mm round weighs roughly 50 pounds, an entire 14-tank company is a force to be reckoned with. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Leah Kilpatrick)

The tanks can fire canister or other rounds to destroy enemy infantry and light vehicles, but they can also turn to their mounted machine guns. The Abrams has a .50-cal machine gun and two 7.62mm machine guns.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Eric C. Dostie, U.S. Army Central senior noncommissioned officer, fires a M2A1 .50 Caliber Machine Gun with a Soldier from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, during a visit to Camp Buehring, Kuwait Oct. 18, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

While Abrams can survive open warfare, crews prefer to hide and maneuver their tanks into better position as often as possible to protect the tank from enemy infantry, armor, and air assets. Covering the tank in local camouflage is a good first step, and using the terrain to mask movement is important as well.

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An M1 Abrams Tank emerges out of wooded terrain after Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division had concealed it to blend in with surrounding environment, Jan 20, at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Concealment is tricky in a tank, but it increases survivability and allows the tanks to conduct ambushes.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division sit in an M1 Abrams Tank after concealing it in wooded terrain, Jan 20, at Presidential Range in Swietozow, Poland. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Abrams tanks were originally produced in 1978, but they’ve been modernized many times since then to keep them as capable as possible. The M1A1 rolled off in 1985 and the M1A2 in 1986. Now, upgrade kits like the TUSK or the System Enhancement Packages (SEP) improve M1A2s’ capabilities.

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The Abrams Integrated Display and Targeting System, or AIDATS, upgrades the thermal and day sights on the stabilized commander’s weapon station through a state-of-the-art, high definition camera, and permanently mounted color display. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Army and Marine Corps logistics officers have to work hard to ensure the heavy tanks can always be deployed where they are needed. While Abrams can be airlifted, its much cheaper to ship them by boat.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An M1A2 Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, sits on the dock after being off-loaded from a cargo vessel at the port of Bremerhaven, Germany, Jan. 6, 2017. (Photo: U.S. Army Capt. Scott Walters)

When it would be dangerous or too expensive to drive the tanks to their objective, they can be loaded onto trains or special trucks for delivery.

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Sgt. Arnulfo Ramos, an M1A2 Abrams tank crewman for Company Bravo, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, secures the chains on a tank after it was loaded on to a rail car at Fort Carson, Colorado, Nov. 15, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Ange Desinor)

But the most impressive way to deliver an Abrams is still definitely driving it off a plane.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
(Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Wrigley)

The tanks can operate in most environments, everything from snow-covered plains…

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An M1A2 Abrams Tanks belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division fires off a round Jan. 26, 2017 in Trzebien, Poland. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos)

…to scrub-covered plains…

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Marines with Company A, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, fire a M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank during their annual training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 19, 2016. Marines fired the tanks to adjust their battle sight zero before the main event of their annual training. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gabrielle Quire)

…to sandy deserts.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fires suppressive rounds at targets during Hammer Strike, a brigade level live-fire exercise conducted by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Johnston)

To make sure they can always get to the target, tank units sometimes bring specially equipped engineers with them. The Assault Breacher Vehicle is built on the M1 chassis but features a number of tools for breaking through enemy obstacles rather than a large number of offensive weapons.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An Assault Breacher Vehicle with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, idles in the Black Top Training Area aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 17, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz)

The front of the breacher is a plow that can cut through enemy berms, creating a path for tanks.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An Assault Breacher Vehicle drives through a lane in a berm during breaching exercises aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 8, 2016. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion along with 2nd CEB worked together to conduct breaching exercises in which they provided support fire while Assault Breacher Vehicles eliminated tank pits and created a lane in which tanks may safely travel, aboard Camp Lejeune, Dec. 8-10, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald)

The main purpose of the plow is to scoop up and either detonate or remove enemy mines. Mines that don’t go off are channeles to the sides of the path, creating a clear lane for following tanks.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
An Assault Breacher Vehicle uses its mine plow in order to scan the surrounding area for potential threats during breaching exercises aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 8, 2016. Marines with 2nd ank Battalion along with 2nd CEB worked together to conduct breaching exercises in which they provided support fire while Assault Breacher Vehicles eliminated tank pits and created a lane in which tanks may safely travel, aboard Camp Lejeune, Dec. 8-10, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald)

The breacher vehicles can quickly create a lane through IEDs by firing one of their Mine-Clearing Line Charges, a rocket-towed rope of explosive cord that explodes approximately 7,000 pounds of C4, triggering IEDs and mines.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
A U.S. Marine Corps Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) launches a Mine Clearing Line Charge (MCLC) on range 600 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 20, 2015. Armed with approximately 7,000 pounds of C4 explosives and a mine resistant Titanium-plated undercarriage, the ABV ensures Marines can maneuver on the battlefield despite enemy minefields. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Warrant Officer Wade Spradlin)

The M1 Abrams is still a titan of the battlefield, allowing tankers to be some of the most lethal soldiers and Marines in any conflict.

European wildfires set off unexploded ordnance from World War II
Marines from Company C, 1st Tank Battalion, prepare their tank for the day’s attack on Range 210 Dec. 11, 2012, during Steel Knight 13. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu)