Everything to know about the Navy's carrier-launched drone - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

The Navy will choose a new carrier-launched drone at the end of 2018 as part of a plan to massively expand fighter jet attack range and power projection ability for aircraft carriers.


The emerging Navy MQ-25 Stingray program, to enter service in the mid-2020s, will bring a new generation of technology by engineering a first-of-its-kind unmanned re-fueler for the carrier air wing.

Also read: The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

A central key question informs the core of this technology effort: What if the attack capability of carrier fighters, such as an F-18 or F-35C, could double the range at which they hold enemy targets at risk? Could such a prospect substantially extend the envelope of offensive attack operations, while allowing carriers themselves to operate at safer distances?

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The Navy believes so — and is currently evaluating industry proposals from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics to build the new MQ-25 drone.

The service plans to award a next-phase deal to a “single air system vendor in late 2018,” Naval Air Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Cosgrove told Warrior Maven. “The source selection process is currently ongoing for the air system manufacturing and development contract.”

Related: The Navy named its newest destroyer after a heroic Marine

Perhaps enemy targets 1,000 miles away, at sea or deep inland, could successfully be destroyed by carrier-launched fighters operating with a vastly expanded combat radius. Wouldn’t this be of crucial importance in a world of quickly evolving, high-tech missile and aircraft threats from potential adversaries, such as near-peer rivals? Perhaps of equal or greater relevance, what if the re-fueler were a drone, able to operate in forward, high-risk locations to support fighter jets — all while not placing a large, manned tanker aircraft within range of enemy fire?

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Boeing gave a sneak peak of the MQ-25 Stingray. (Photo by Boeing/Twitter)

The emergence of a drone of this kind bears prominently upon ongoing questions about the future of aircraft carriers in light of today’s fast-changing threat environment. Chinese DF-21D anti-ship guided missiles, for instance, are said to be able to destroy targets as far away as 900 nautical miles. While there is some question about this weapon’s ability to strike moving targets, and carriers, of course, are armed with a wide range of layered defenses, the Chinese weapon does bring a substantial risk potentially great enough to require carriers to operate much further from shore.

In this scenario, these Chinese so-called “carrier-killer” missiles could, quite possibly, push a carrier back to a point where its fighters no longer have the range to strike inland enemy targets from the air. The new drone is being engineered, at least in large measure, as a specific way to address this problem. If the attack distance of an F-18, which might have a combat radius of 500 miles or so, can double – then carrier-based fighters can strike targets as far as 1000 miles away if they are refueled from the air.

More: Watch this crazy video of a Navy F-18 intercepting a UFO

Also, despite the emergence of weapons such as the DF-21D, senior Navy leaders and some analysts have questioned the ability of precision-guided, long-range missiles to actually hit and destroy carriers on the move at 30-knots from 1,000 miles away. Targeting, guidance on the move fire control, ISR, and other assets are necessary for these kinds of weapons to function as advertised. GPS, inertial measurement units, advanced sensors, and dual-mode seekers are part of a handful of fast-developing technologies able to address some of these challenges, yet it does not seem clear that long-range anti-ship missiles such as the DF-21D will actually be able to destroy carriers on the move at the described distances.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Furthermore, the Navy is rapidly advancing ship-based defensive weapons, electronic warfare applications, lasers, and technologies able to identify and destroy approaching anti-ship cruise missile from ranges beyond the horizon. Carriers often travel in Carrier Strike Groups where they are surrounded by destroyers and cruisers able to provide additional protection. One such example of this includes the now-deployed Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air system, or NIFC-CA. This technology combines ship-based radar and fire control systems with an aerial sensor and dual-mode SM-6 missile to track and destroy approaching threats from beyond-the-horizon. Ship-based laser weapons and rail guns, in addition, could be among lower-cost ship defense weapons as well.

Also read: Why the Navy’s Super Hornets need an extended range

The MQ-25A Stingray is evolving out of a now-canceled carrier-launched ISR and attack drone program called Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system, or UCLASS.

A Northrop demonstrator aircraft, called the X-47B, has already performed successful carrier drone take-offs and landings. Accordingly, the ability of the Navy to operate a drone on an aircraft carrier is already progressing and has been demonstrated.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Northrop Grumman X-47B Demonstrator.

An existing large fuselage tanker, such as the emerging Air Force KC-46A, might have too large a radar signature and therefore be far too vulnerable to enemy attack. This, quite naturally, then creates the need for a drone able to better elude enemy radar and refuel attack aircraft on its way to a mission.

More: Mattis warns he will not accept the USAF’s flawed new tankers

The current source selection follows a previously released Request For Proposal asking industry for design ideas, technologies and a full range of potential offerings or solutions which might meet the desired criteria.

The service previously awarded four development deals for the MQ-25 to prior to its current proposal to the industry. Deals went to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman.

The early engineering process thus far has been geared toward MQ-25A Stingray technical and task analysis efforts spanning air vehicle capabilities, carrier suitability and integration, missions systems and software — including cybersecurity.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the Army trains for war

Gen. Robert B. Abrams recalled once being awakened at 2 a.m. on a Friday. It was the early 1980s then, and he was a young lieutenant stationed in a cavalry squadron in West Germany.


It was a unit alert that had woken him from his sleep, he recalled. Back then, those alerts could come at any time, completely unannounced. And when they came, soldiers in area bars would need to report to their units, in whatever state they were in, within two hours.

Abrams, commander, US Army Forces Command, spoke earlier this month at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Once soldiers were assembled, he said, they had four hours to get all their gear and ammunition loaded on trucks and tanks, and move out to their tactical assembly areas. They had to be ready to cross the border into East Germany, if called to do so.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
A US Army Soldier looks through binoculars as part of an orienteering event during the second day of the 2017 Forces Command Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 21, 2017. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III

“Everyone had a sense of urgency and knew what was at stake,” he said, remembering his early days in the Army.

The Army needs to regain that same sense of urgency today, he said, but “we’re not there yet in our Army.”

However, the mindset is beginning to shift, he said. “That’s the direction the Army is now taking.”

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
A US Army Soldier, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, gives two thumbs up as he boards a plane at Fort Stewart, Ga., Aug. 3, 2017, for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt

Improved Training

Abrams pointed to a number of readiness indicators, including training, which he said has improved over the last couple of years.

Recently, the Army has shifted its training focus to a “decisive-action training environment that’s very robust,” he said.

The DATE training environment includes training with both conventional and non-conventional forces in all domains during every combat training center, or CTC, rotation, he said.

Leading up to the CTC rotation, units have also improved their home-station training, he said, adding that there’s been a 300 percent increase in company-level, live-fire exercises at home station over the last two years.

Even aviation units at the platoon and company levels are now participating in live-fire exercises, something not widely seen since before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Non-Deployables Reduced

“We’ve made huge progress over the last couple of years in reducing the number of non-deployable (soldiers),” Abrams said, adding that it’s still the No. 1 readiness challenge facing the Army today.

Some units have seven or eight percent non-deployables, he said, so there’s still some work to do to shrink those numbers.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Photo courtesy of US Army

Abrams attributed improvements in reducing the number of non-deployable soldiers to several factors, including the fielding this year of the commander’s Medical Readiness Dashboard. That computerized medical update allows company and battalion commanders to better understand and deal with the medical status of their soldiers.

Improved physical training is another area the general credited with reducing injuries and elevating fitness levels. He gave a shout-out to a pilot program now underway that is incorporating a new soldier readiness test involving four brigades from FORSCOM that are evaluating “all five measurements of fitness.”

Also Read: This is everything you need to know about Army Rangers

The Army is moving away from an “industrial-age medical system,” to one that’s more like the type used for professional athletes that gives soldiers the care they need “at their point of impact and at the point of injury,” he noted.

The importance of care is so important because “muscular-skeletal injuries continue to impact soldiers,” he said.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller.

Improved Equipment

Twelve of the Army’s 25 brigade combat teams have, to date, received their complete authorized stockage lists, Abrams said, and US Army Materiel Command is working on equipping the rest. ASLs consist of such things as repair parts, fuel, and construction material kept at each BCT distribution center.

To ensure the equipment is sufficient and where it needs to be, Abrams said FORSCOM conducts monthly logistics and aviation readiness reviews.

The biggest struggle in equipping the force right now, he said, is getting spare parts to where they are needed in a timely manner. Currently, he said, the wait time is about five times what it should be.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
A US Army Soldier, assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, guides a pilot into place during sling load operations, Aug. 11, 2016 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Sling load operations allow US Army Central to move artillery and trucks and shipping containers for mobile operations in the Middle East. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

A big part of increasing readiness, Abrams said, involves adequate and predictable funding from Congress.

“Continuing resolutions crush us at the unit level,” he said. “We are unable on a monthly basis to adequately plan to support training and requisition repair parts for our fleet at a tempo we are training.”

Abrams admitted that the Army doesn’t have an adequate narrative about readiness to present to lawmakers. “We in the military intuitively know what readiness means but have been unable to articulate it to the public. Everybody wants a ready force but we have a hard time describing it.”

Articles

SecDef Mattis puts North Korea on notice over ‘provocative behavior’

Kim Jong Un may have just received his only warning to shape up or risk upsetting Secretary of Defense James “Chaos” Mattis. And when Chaos Mattis gets pissed off… well, it would be a lie to say it was nice knowing Kim Jong Un.


According to a report by CBSNews.com, Mattis indicated that the United States could very well end up deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, formerly known as the “Theater High-Altitude Area Defense” system, to South Korea. Either way, the system, dubbed THAAD, is used to shoot down ballistic missiles like those pointed at Seoul from the north.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with South Korea’s acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 2, 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

“Well, you know, North Korea has often acted in a provocative way, and it’s hard to anticipate what they do,” he told reporters, according to a DOD transcript of a press gaggle on board his aircraft as it was en route to Osan Air Base in South Korea.

“There’s only one reason that we even have this under discussion right now, and that is North Korea’s activities,” he added. “That THAAD is for defense of our allies people, of our troops who are committed to their defense. And were it not for the provocative behavior of North Korea we would have no need for THAAD out here.”

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. The test, designated Flight Test Operational-01 (FTO-01), stressed the ability of the Aegis BMD and THAAD weapon systems to function in a layered defense architecture and defeat a raid of two near-simultaneous ballistic missile targets. (DOD photo)

THAAD is a ballistic missile defense system. According to Army-Technology.com, the system has a range of at least 200 kilometers (124 miles), and is able to hit targets almost 500,000 feet above ground level (ArmyRecognition.com credits THAAD with a range of 1,000 kilometers – equivalent to over 600 miles).

A Missile Defense Agency fact sheet notes that each THAAD launcher holds eight missiles. The system also uses the AN/TPY-2 radar to track targets. Currently, six batteries are in service per the MDA fact sheet. A 2016 Defense News article notes that each battery has six launchers.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Marine is conquering adversity and extreme sports

In August 2008, 17-year old Kirstie Ennis enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Pensacola, Florida. After training, she served as a door gunner and airframes mechanic on the CH-53 helicopter.

As a Marine Corps “brat,” choosing to enlist was not a question for her; she had been committed to serving and protecting her country since childhood. However, her plan to serve for 20 years was cut down to six after suffering traumatic injuries during her second deployment to Afghanistan.

On June 23, 2012, while performing combat resupplies to Forward Operating Base Now Zad, the helicopter Kirstie served on as an aerial gunner made a crash landing in the Helmand Province. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, full thickness facial trauma, bilateral shoulder damage, cervical and lumbar spine injuries, and severe left leg wounds. After approximately 40 surgeries over the course of three years, Kirstie’s left leg was amputated below the knee. One month later, she underwent an amputation above the knee. Even though she was forced into medical retirement from the Marine Corps in 2014, she still found a way to serve to prove to herself and the world that circumstances do not control us.


Although Kirstie does not have a background in sports, her competitive spirit led her to consider extreme sports as a way to raise money for others going through difficult situations like hers, and to inspire the world.

Even while lying in a hospital bed post-operation, snowboarding was one of the first sports Kirstie considered. She competed for three years, winning a USA Snowboard and Freeski Association national title.

In the future, Kirstie hopes to compete in the X Games, and — via her partnership with Burton Snowboards — create a program to take adaptive athletes on skiing and snowboarding trips.

When she’s not snowboarding, Kirstie also enjoys mountaineering, and is determined to climb the highest peak on each continent, a feat known as the “Seven Summits.”

In 2017, she climbed the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, and also Mount Kilimanjaro. There, she left behind the dog tags of her friend Lance Cpl. Matthew Rodriguez, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. This endeavor also made her the first female above-the-knee amputee to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Since then she has taken on several other challenging preparation hikes to train for the Seven Summits.

Kirstie Ennis Goes From Survivor To Competitive Athlete In The 2017 Body Issue | ESPN

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As if that wasn’t enough, Kirstie started a non-profit organization to raise money for organizations that strive to improve lives through education. She also sits on multiple charity boards. She even learned how to create her own prosthetics for climbing, and then used these skills to create a climbing foot for another retired Army veteran who will use it to climb Mount Rainier.

From physical battles in combat to personal battles after her accident, Kirstie serves as a constant reminder to never hold back, to always live life to the fullest.

Thank you for your service, Sgt. Kirstie Ennis.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 reasons ‘The Guardian’ should be in your top ten military films of all time

Apocalypse Now. Full Metal Jacket. Platoon. Top Gun. Black Hawk Down. A Few Good Men. Saving Private Ryan. Kelly’s Heroes. Crimson Tide.

If you ask your circle of friends and family what some of their favorite military films are, you could get literally a hundred different answers. You’d probably have to ask a few more friends and listen to another hundred more before you get someone to organically name 2006’s The Guardian as a movie they’ve even heard of.

Just to get a few FAQ out of the way early on: yes, Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher did a film together. Yes, it is based on the military. Yes, it is about the US Coast Guard. Yes, the USCG is an arm of the US Armed Forces.


As you can imagine, there aren’t very many people who would dare call this a good film, but I ask that you pump the brakes a bit and read why The Guardian should be on your list of favorite military films.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

The original DHS

(Image from MilitaryHumor.com)

A movie about the Coast Guard?

As stated above, yes, the Coast Guard is a branch of the military… kind of.

They aren’t, technically, a part of the Department of Defense so there is that odd “one of these things is not like the others” vibe going on, but they are our brothers and sisters, regardless. At one point they were Department of Transportation during peacetime and switched over to Department of Defense, falling under the umbrella of the Navy, during wartime.

They currently fall under the Department of Homeland Security, another departmental move that makes many of us lower-level peons scratch our heads.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Yes, the USCG got some badasses, too!

(Image from Outsideonline.com)

It features some unheralded badasses

Rescue swimmer seems like the most fitting name for this group of hardened heroes, but they have a much more official title: Aviation Survival Technician. Regardless of all of that, the AST of the US Coast Guard is a certified badass.

It is one of the US military’s most elite careers with about an 80% washout rate. For comparison sake, that’s about the same attrition rate as the Green Beret and Navy SEAL, and higher than the Army Ranger!

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

A bit of split in opinion between the critics and the audience

(Image from Rotten Tomatoes.com)

It’s better than you think

Sure it made less than m in profit (horrible for a major theatrical release). Yes, it is lambasted on movie critiquing platform, Rotten Tomatoes. However, have you seen it?

Give The Guardian a good, genuine, non-biased once over, and you’ll likely find yourself among the 80% of the audience who think this film is rated “fresh.” The film doesn’t tell any groundbreaking story. It is a completely fictionalized account but there are enough moments to draw you in, and that ending is truly special, if not a bit predictable.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Uh, yea

(Image from 20th Century Fox’s Dude, Where’s My Car?)

It’s one of the few watchable Ashton Kutcher films

Look, Ashton Kutcher is a great man. He is involved in some of the most selfless causes in modern society. He has been instrumental in raising awareness, if nothing else, to the mainstream.

He also has a pretty decent track record when it comes to television. He was key in That 70’s Show, created and hosted Punk’d, replaced Charlie freakin’ Sheen on Two and a Half Men, and is currently putting out the Netflix Show, The Ranch. His television reputation is intact. Filmwise..not so much.

A bit of a holdover of a foregone era in a way, Kutcher doesn’t seem to have the same magic when selected for movie projects as he does with TV. Of the 20+ movies Kutcher has starred in The Guardian is one of about four films that is actually enjoyable without intoxicants.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Yea… he did this doozy too

(Image from Universal Pictures’ Waterworld)

It’s got Costner being Costner

Similar to his co-star, Kevin Costner has a bit of a checkered history when it comes to choosing movie roles. On the one hand you have films like Dances with Wolves and Hatfields McCoys, two productions that yielded major awards and nominations for Costner.

Then you have Waterworld.

Just take this victory and go.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 2 edition)

Late for morning muster? No problem. You can still stay informed interweb-style. Here are the stories that you need to know about right now:


  • Navy Yard on lock down as police respond to reports of an active shooter. Reuters has the first word here.
  • Engine failure may have caused Indonesian Air Force C-130 crash right after takeoff. Fox News has the story here.
  • Retired military working dogs find new purpose as they help take down meth labs. Associated Press has the skinny here.
  • Military morale hitting ‘rock bottom’ according to a report posted by our partners at Business Insider. Check it out here.
  • The mighty EA-6B Prowler has made it’s final flight. Our partners at Military.com have the story here.

Now read (and watch) this: We asked civilians to name the five military branches. This is the hilarious result.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army wants to extend basic training for a new fitness plan

Senior U.S. Army leaders are pushing a campaign to enhance recruiting, toughen physical fitness training, and extend Basic Combat Training to prepare soldiers for a major future conflict.


Secretary of the Army Mark Esper spoke March 26, 2018, at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium about his vision for the Army of 2028 that calls for a larger, more physically fit force.

“To meet the challenges of 2028 and beyond, the total Army must grow,” Esper said. “A decade from now, we need an active component above 500,000 soldiers with associated growth in the Guard and Reserve.”

Also read: 5 ethical ways to make Basic Training easier

The Army requested 4,000 soldiers be added to the active force as part of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget. The increase would boost the active-duty ranks from 483,500 to 487,500.

The Army must focus on “recruiting and retaining high-quality, physically fit, mentally tough soldiers who will deploy and fight and win decisively on any future battlefield,” he said.

“A decade from now, the soldiers we recruit today will be our company commanders and platoon sergeants. That’s why we are considering several initiatives, to a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat,” he added.

Esper did not give details about extending Basic Combat Training, which currently lasts 10 weeks. But the Army has already begun reforming BCT.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
(Photo by Spc. Madelyn Hancock)

By early summer 2018, recruits will go through a new Army BCT, redesigned to instill strict discipline and esprit de corps by placing enhanced emphasis on drill and ceremony, inspections, and pride in military history while increasing the focus on critical training such as physical fitness, marksmanship, communications, and battlefield first aid skills.

The new program of instruction is the result of surveys taken from thousands of leaders who have observed a trend of new soldiers fresh out of training displaying a lack of obedience and poor work ethic, as well as being careless with equipment, uniforms, and appearance, according to Army Training and Doctrine Command officials.

Related: Bad discipline forced the Army to redesign basic training

The Army has also been considering adopting the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test: A six-event fitness test designed to better prepare troops for the rigors of combat than the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT.

The ACRT was developed, at the request of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, to better prepare soldiers for the physical challenges of the service’s Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills — the list of key skills all soldiers are taught to help them survive in combat.

Gen. James McConville, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said that the service is also considering improving the screening processes it uses to better prepare recruits coming into the Army.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Marnell)

“We are going to put more screening systems in place to make sure that when young men and women enter the Army, they are ready to meet the standards,” McConville said.

Training and Doctrine Command has done a “great job of implementing the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is a four-event physical-fitness test to make sure that young men and women get in shape before they go to initial military training,” he said.

More: This is why the Army is taking a fresh look at basic training

“Then once they get into initial military training, we are screening them again to meet the physical demands of being in the Army,” McConville said.

The Army is also testing a concept that involves assigning fitness experts to two Army divisions, he said.

“We are putting physical therapists, we are putting strength coaches, we are putting dieticians into each of the units so when the [new] soldiers get there, we continue to keep them in shape as they go forward,” McConville said.

“We are going to have to take what we have, we are going to have to develop that talent and we are going to bring them in and make them better,” he added.

Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said the service is also going to have to get better at how it approaches recruiting.

“When 87 percent of the people we recruit have someone in their family that has been in the military, it starts to beg the question, ‘Are we expansive enough in our recruiting efforts?’ ” McCarthy said.

“Are we sophisticated enough in the way we communicate to the entire country and recruit the best quality individuals?” he said. “So our sophistication has got to get better, from the tools that we have to find the people to the manner in which we communicate.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the 6 Marines lost in crash near Japan

The US Marine Corps has identified the six Marines who were killed when their planes crashed off the coast of Japan early December 2018.

On Dec. 6, 2018, an F/A-18 Hornet collided with a KC-130 aerial refueling tanker, sending both aircraft into the sea. Only one of the two fighter pilots walked away from the crash, and all five of the tanker crew members were lost. The lone survivor was released from the hospital Dec. 13, 2018.

Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, a 28-year-old F/A-18 pilot, was declared deceased last Dec. 7, 2018, while American and Japanese forces continued to search for the KC-130 crew members, who were officially declared dead Dec. 11, 2018, when military search and rescue efforts concluded.


The five Marines who were killed serving aboard the aerial refueling tanker were Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann, 38, Maj. James M. Brophy, 36, Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, 27, Cpl. Daniel E. Baker, 21, and Cpl. William C. Ross, 21. The oldest member had served in the Marine Corps for 16 years. Three were married, two with children.

The Marines released the following video honoring the dead.


In Memoriam

www.facebook.com

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the names of our fallen Marines,” U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mitchell T. Maury, the commanding officer for the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152), said in a statement Dec. 12, 2018. “They were exceptional aviators, Marines, and friends whom will be eternally missed. Our thoughts and prayers remain with their families and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

The Corps has suffered a number of deadly aviation mishaps in recent years, including a KC-130T crash in Mississippi last year that killed 15 Marines and a sailor.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China tests massive new sea plane that could tip balance

On Oct. 20, 2018, the AG600, the world’s largest amphibious airplane, completed its first takeoff and landing on water at a reservoir in China’s central Hubei province.

The plane, known as the Kunlong and developed independently by China, took off from the water and landed steadily after a 14-minute flight, according to China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency.


The 121-foot-long aircraft is about 40 feet tall and has a 127-foot wingspan, making it roughly the size of a Boeing 737. It has a range of 2,800 miles and a cruising speed of about 310 mph, and it can fly for up to 12 hours.

Powered by four WJ-6 turboprop engines — Chinese-made versions of a Russian engine — it has a maximum takeoff weight of about 59 tons on land and about 54 tons on water.

It’s the third-largest aircraft designed and built in China, after the Y-20 military transport plane and the C-919 commercial passenger plane.

It can carry up to 50 people for maritime search-and-rescue operations and scoop up about 12 tons of water in 20 seconds during firefighting operations.

It’s designed to take off and land in waves up to 6.5 feet high. While it has a flight ceiling of just under 20,000 feet, it can cruise as low as about 160 feet.

Aerial view: China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight from water

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Beijing approved a development plan for the AG600 in 2009 and unveiled it in July 2016, when it rolled off an assembly line in Zhuhai in southern China. It made its first flight in December 2017 and carried out its first on-water tests in September 2018.

Its chief designer, Huang Lingcai, said in May 2017 that the manufacturer, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, was aiming to get an airworthiness certification by 2021 and start deliveries by 2022.

It’s designated primarily for civil operations and intended for the Chinese market. As of December 2017, there had been 17 orders from the Chinese government and Chinese companies.

But its capabilities lead observers to think it could be used to transport troops or conduct surveillance in disputed waters like the South China Sea.

Beijing could use it to justify more buildup in the South China Sea

Xinhua has said the aircraft could “be used to monitor and protect the ocean” and called it the “protector spirit of the sea, islands, and reefs.”

The state-owned China Daily newspaper in December 2017 described Huang as saying the AG600 could make round trips from China’s southern island province of Hainan to James Shoal at the southern edge of the South China Sea without refueling.

Collin Koh, a security expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, told the South China Morning Post in September 2018 that “the AG600 would be suitable for the quick transport of troops and materials and could also provide other support such as evacuating garrisons in the South China Sea or even out to the Spratlys.”

“Beijing will also use it to justify any further buildup in the region, saying the aircraft can be used for the common good, such as providing support to foreign vessels in the area and for search and rescue,” Koh added.

China’s land-reclamation projects in the South China Sea have helped it expand its presence in the area, which is covered by overlapping claims made by several countries.

Since 2013, China has developed more than 3,200 acres of land in the Spratly Islands. Those efforts have turned to construction.

In addition to building runways, communications facilities, barracks, and hangars, China has militarized several of its outposts in the Spratlys and the Paracel Islands, adding various point-defense systems, jamming technology, anti-ship cruise missiles, and surface-to-air missiles.

Satellite imagery released in 2018 by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative showed at least four airstrips in the Spratlys and the Paracels capable of handling military aircraft.

The AG600, which can take off and land in water as shallow as 8 feet, could be used to link those islands.

In early 2016, China appeared ready to start reclaiming land at Scarborough Shoal, a group of rocky outcroppings about 130 miles from the Philippine coast. But it backed down after the US warned of consequences, and the Philippines has since said that building at Scarborough is a “red line.”

In 2018, China’s air force said it landed bomber aircraft, including the H-6K strategic bomber, on islands in the South China Sea as part of an exercise it described as preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

For the first time in history, a US military service is working without pay

As Coast Guard paychecks went undelivered Jan. 15, 2019, as the result of an ongoing partial government shutdown, the service’s top officer urged its members to stay the course.

In a public letter published Jan. 15, 2019 on his social media pages, Adm. Karl Schultz said the day’s missed paycheck, to his knowledge, marked the first time in the history of the nation “that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”


The Coast Guard, the only military service to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, is also the only service with payroll affected by the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, 2018. The Coast Guard was able to issue final paychecks for the year, but will be unable to distribute further pay until a budget deal is reached or another appropriation agreement is made.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Coast Guard Cutter Munro navigates through the Oakland Estuary en route to the cutter’s homeport of Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi)

In all, some 55,000 Coast Guard active-duty, reserve and civilian members are going without pay; the number includes 42,000 active-duty service members.

Coast Guard civilians have been on furlough or working without pay since the shutdown began.

While some government employees affected by the shutdown have been furloughed, the Coast Guard continues to conduct operations around the world.

“Your senior leadership, including [DHS] Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen, remains fully engaged and we will maintain a steady flow of communications to keep you updated on developments,” Schultz said in his letter. “I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf.”

Schultz added that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, the service’s official military relief society, received a million donation from USAA to support those in need. The American Red Cross will help distribute the funds, he said.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon Adams from Coast Guard Station Venice, Louisiana, tows a vessel that was disabled approximately 25 miles south of Venice.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Venice)

The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board is also offering increased interest-free loans to junior employees and junior enlisted service members.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the country, particularly in local communities, for our men and women,” Schultz said. “It is a direct reflection of the American public’s sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard; they recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make in service to your country.”

The Coast Guard, Schultz said, had already many times proven the ability to rise above adversity.

“Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve with pride,” he wrote. “You are not, and will not, be forgotten.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Air Force pits a military working dog against a ‘downed pilot’

“Hide!”

Four crashed aircrew members scatter into knee-high desert brush searching for a spot to blend-in with the environment. There’s nothing but a dying, desolate landscape as far as the eye can see. And yet, they need to disappear. These aircrew are being hunted.

Rustling through the brush downwind of the pilots is a man and his dog.

“Find them!”

The duo presses on with the hunt, despite being at a disadvantage. The dog puts his nose to the air and takes in short, quick breaths, but an unrelenting mist keeps the aircrew’s scents from being carried by the wind. They traverse miles of mud and brush, stopping every-so-often to stare out into the seemingly endless tan and brown canvas laid out before them.


No matter how this ordeal ends, both sides will be better for it.

Staff Sgt. Antonio Padilla, 336th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, and Alf, 366th SFS military working dog, acting as opposition forces, hunt down pilots to enhance the combat readiness of both parties during a search and rescue operation as part of a Gunfighter Flag exercise at Saylor Creek Range Complex, Idaho.

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Staff Sgt. Antonio Padilla, 366th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, gives Alf, 366th SFS military working dog, a water break while acting as opposition forces to hunt down “crashed” pilots during a combat search and rescue exercise April 2, 2019, at Saylor Creek Range near Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Andrew Kobialka)

Gunfighter Flag concentrates on preparing airmen to be ready to overcome obstacles that may appear in a deployed environment. Padilla plays a unique role in that preparation.

“When we are at the range, scouting for pilots, we are not only testing the survival skills of our pilots, but also honing the capabilities and teamwork between MWDs and their trainers,” Padilla said.

To effectively enhance readiness this training has to be exactly like the real deal.

“Finding a way to simulate stress is important,” said Staff Sgt. David H. Chorpening, 366th Operation Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of survival, evasion, resistance, escape operations.

“AHHH!”

Screams riddled with anguish and anxiety filled the air as each aircrew member suffered a bite from Alf.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

U.S. Air Force Alf, 366th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, acts as opposition forces and hunts down “crashed” pilots during a combat search and rescue exercise April 2, 2019 at Saylor Creek Range near Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Andrew Kobialka)

The aircrew was protected by a bite-suit, but the stress they experienced was almost tangible, and not easily forgotten.

Incorporating stress into these scenarios helps ingrain the survival process and procedures into the minds of airmen to ensure they will be able to act on it in the field, Chorpening said.

Padilla and Alf bring a dose of stressful realism to the exercise through Alf’s vicious bite and undying loyalty that, consequently, often inflicts fear into whoever they pursue.

However, to be frightening is one thing, to be ready for deployment is another. That requires MWDs to be well-trained, obedient and skilled. Developing that in a MWD, like Alf, takes time and dedicated trainers.

Padilla said that there is a process of building rapport with new dogs, solidifying their commands, and exposing them to realistic situations like bite-work and detection that has to take place before they are cleared for deployment.

Ultimately, MWDs are tested in exercises like scouting for aircrew members in a vast environment with endless hiding places. This serves as a great preparation tool for MWDs and their trainers.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Antonio Padilla, 366th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, and Alf, 366th SFS military working dog, act as opposition forces and hunt down “crashed” pilots during a combat search and rescue exercise April 2, 2019 at Saylor Creek Range near Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Andrew Kobialka)

As an MWD and its trainer work together, they understand each other better and are able to work cohesively, Padilla said.
“On a scout, the dog leads the way, but we are a team,” Padilla said. “Alf’s senses are a lot better than a human’s. Alf will often see, hear or smell a potential target before I do. Then I am able to decipher whether or not it is what we are looking for or if we should move on.”

It is a rigorous journey to become a MWD but in the end they are able to save lives in real-world situations and through readiness exercises like Gunfighter Flag.

“This training is so beneficial for trainers and their dogs to gain the experience of realistic training,” Padilla said. “What is even better is the dualistic nature of the exercise that enables pilots to improve their survival and evasion tactics simultaneously.”

The search and rescue exercise at Saylor Creek Range Complex may be a single piece of Gunfighter Flag, but is vital nonetheless because of the life saving potential it holds. Padilla and Alf continue to diligently work towards enhancing the readiness of themselves and the aircrew they hunt.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

An experimental vaccine is fighting the latest Ebola outbreak


The first batch of 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines to combat an outbreak suspected of killing 23 people arrived in Congo’s capital Kinshasa on May 16, 2018.

The Health Ministry said vaccinations would start at the weekend, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.


The vaccine, developed by Merck and sent from Europe by the World Health Organization, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014-2016.

Health officials hope they can use it to contain the latest outbreak in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo.

8,000 doses needed

Peter Salama, WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

“Our current estimate is we need to vaccinate around 8,000 people, so we are sending 8,000 doses in two lots,” he told Reuters in Geneva.

“Over the next few days we will be reassessing the projected numbers of cases that we might have and then if we need to bring in more vaccine we will do so in a very short notice.”

Health workers have recorded confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in three health zones of Congo’s Equateur province, and have identified 432 people who may have had contact with the disease.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
Siah Tamba is an Ebola survivor who now works at the Ebola treatment unitu00a0in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount, Liberia, after losing her mother, sister, and daughter.
(Photo by Martine Perret)

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the supplies sent to Congo included more than 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.

“In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination,” Jasarevic said. “So it means this first shipment would be probably enough for around 25-26 rings — each around one confirmed case.”

Storage temperature

The vaccine is complicated to use, requiring storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.

“It is extremely difficult to do that as you can imagine in a country with very poor infrastructures,” Salama said.

“The other issue is, we are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles.”

The outbreak was first spotted in the Bikoro zone, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts. There have also been eight cases and 115 contacts in Iboko health zone.

The WHO is worried about the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka with a population of about 1 million people, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle. Two brothers in Mbandaka who recently stayed in Bikoro for funerals are probable cases, with samples awaiting laboratory confirmation.

The WHO report said 1,500 sets of personal protective equipment and an emergency sanitary kit sufficient for 10,000 people for three months were being put in place.

This article originally appeared on The Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

Articles

US Navy amps up to edge out China and Russia

The U.S. wields the world’s biggest, most powerful Navy, but recent developments in China and Russia’s missile inventory severely threaten the surface fleet with superior range and often velocity.


But the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin have a variety of solutions in the works to tip the scales in the United State’s favor by going hard on offense.

For years, the Navy has focused on a concept called “distributed lethality,” which calls for arming even the Navy’s smallest ships with powerful weapons that can hit targets hundreds of miles out.

Yet Russian and Chinese ships and missile forces already field long-range precision missiles that can hit U.S. ships before the forces are even close.

Additionally, both Russia and China are working on hypersonic weapons that could travel more than five times as fast as the speed of sound. These weapons would fly faster than current U.S. ships could hope to defend against.

Related: China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters military service

Meanwhile, tensions and close encounters between the U.S., Russia, and China have peaked in recent years, as Russia routinely threatens NATO ships in the Baltics and China cements its grab in the South China Sea.

Lockheed Martin’s Chris Mang, vice president of tactical missiles and combat maneuver systems, told reporters at its Arlington, Virginia, office that “defense is good,” but “offense is better.

“People don’t shoot back when they go away,” he said.

Mang said that promising new missiles like the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile for ships and planes could hit the field by 2020, which would bolster the Navy’s strategy of “see first, understand first, shoot first.”

The LRASM boasts a range of well over 200 nautical miles, a payload of 1,000 pounds, and the ability to strike at nearly the speed of sound.

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
An anti-ship missile LRASM in front of a F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. (U.S. Navy)

It also has a huge advantage that neither Russia nor China have come close to cracking: naval aviation. Lockheed Martin officials said U.S. Navy F-18s and long-range B-1B bombers could carry the LRASM as early as next year.

While the U.S. has been surpassed in missile technology in some areas, the Navy still has a considerable edge in radar technology and command-and-control that can provide intelligence to ship captains faster than its adversaries.

As for the hypersonic weapons meant to redefine naval warfare, Mang said they’re still a long way out. (The U.S. Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are working on their own versions, though.)

Everything to know about the Navy’s carrier-launched drone
An artist’s concept of an X-51A hypersonic aircraft during flight. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“How far do they go?” Mang said of the hypervelocity weapons. “They tend to be fuel-consumption-heavy and thermally limited, so they go really fast for a very short distance. If you can shoot them before they get in range of you, that is a tactic.”

Also read: China’s trying to push around American bombers flying in international space

The Navy continues to improve and spread its Aegis missile-defense capabilities so the long-range missiles Russia and China have can be knocked out and the short-range hypersonic missiles they’re developing can be out-ranged.

Though adversaries out-range the U.S. Navy on paper, the U.S. military has and will never be defeated by figures on paper.

Instead, the U.S. and Lockheed Martin seem to be pushing forward with proven technologies that would bolster the United State’s ability to protect its shores.

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