F-22 and F-35 test their 'beast mode' stealth technology - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and B-2 stealth bombers in the western Pacific recently trained for high-end combat scenarios requiring the full might of the US military — exercises that came as Beijing reacts with fury to heavy-duty missile deployments.

In a first, the F-35B, the short-takeoff, vertical-landing variant of the world’s most expensive weapons system, took off from the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship capable of launching aircraft, and dropped externally mounted bombs.


The F-35 is a stealth aircraft designed to store most of its weapons internally to preserve its streamlined, radar-evading shape, but the F-35Bs on the Wasp ditched that tactic to carry more bombs and air-to-air missiles.

An executive from Lockheed Martin, which builds the F-35, previously told Business Insider that an F-35 with external bomb stores represented a kind of “beast mode,” or an alternative to the normal stealth mode, and was something F-35s would do on the third day of a war, after enemy defenses had been knocked out and stealth became less of a priority.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

A B-2 bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri conducts aerial refueling near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii during a training exercise in January 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

“We conducted these missions by launching from the USS Wasp, engaging role-player adversary aircraft, striking simulated targets with internally and externally mounted precision-guided munitions,” and then landing aboard the Wasp, Lt. Col. Michael Rountree, the F-35B detachment officer-in-charge on the Wasp, said in a statement.

While F-35s trained for Day Three of an all-out war in the Pacific, stealthier jets — the F-22 fighter and the B-2 bomber — trained for Day One.

B-2s from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri flew to Hawaii, where they met up with F-22 stealth jets, the top air-to-air fighters in the US fleet.

The B-2s spent their time near Hawaii “going out to an airspace and practicing realistic threats,” with an F-22 on either wing, said Lt. Col. Robert Schoeneberg, commander of the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Whiteman.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

(South China Sea)

The Pacific area of responsibility “is of high importance as of late,” Schoeneberg said, adding that “it will continue to be of high importance.”

F-22s and B-2 bombers represent the US’s most high-end platforms, designed to work as “door kickers,” or the opening punch in a war.

B-2s carry “massive ordnance penetrators” — the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US inventory — and nuclear gravity bombs. Both could play a role in opening a conflict.

F-22s also serve an air-to-ground role and are frequently discussed as a first-strike weapon that could take out enemy air defenses and clear the way for less stealthy fighters.

(South China Sea)

China is getting mad and trying to get even

Washington’s focus on air power in the Pacific comes as Beijing’s military installations in the South China Sea are becoming formidable.

China has landed nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets and deployed surface-to-air missiles and an extensive network of radars at those installations.

This, coupled with “carrier killer” long-range anti-ship missiles deployed on China’s mainland, indicates China is determined to lock the US out of international waters in the western Pacific.

China’s military is also speaking openly about fighting the US and even about sinking aircraft carriers.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

(Defence.Pk Frorums)

Chinese state media said in early February 2019 that Gen. Xu Qiliang, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, “required the officers and soldiers to be well-prepared for different cases, encouraging them to staunchly safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests.”

Days earlier, US Navy ships had sailed through the tense Taiwan Strait. Days later, Navy destroyers challenged China’s extrajudicial claims in the South China Sea with a freedom-of-navigation exercise.

China responded to the US Navy’s sailing in international waters near its artificial islands with its usual fury, saying the US had threatened its sovereignty.

Beijing knows Washington is training, and it wants anti-stealth

China has been pioneering anti-stealth technology in an attempt to blunt the advantage of F-22s and F-35s.

“China is fielding networked air-defense systems that can coordinate the radar pictures from multiple sites in an area like the South China Sea,” Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments who was formerly a special assistant to the chief of naval operations, told Business Insider.

“This could enable the radars to see F-35Bs or other low-observable aircraft from the side or back aspect, where they have higher radar signatures, and share that information with [surface-to-air missile] launchers elsewhere in the region to engage the F-35Bs,” he added.

But the US knows no aircraft is truly invisible, especially in an area with a dense network of radars, like the South China Sea.

Instead of focusing solely on stealth, the US has shifted to employing decoys and electronic warfare to fight in highly contested areas, Clark said.

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

Life Flip

This is the Etsy for the military and first responder communities

How can two infants start a new company that helps military families and veterans?


I mean, they can’t. But.

They can inspire their parents to begin building a new business that supports military and veteran families. Our story begins with a problem familiar to mothers everywhere — dressing a baby.

Related: They started at the bottom, now they are billionaire veterans

Leslie Maneen is a mother of two beautiful daughters. She loved to put them in beautiful outfits when they were babies, but there was a problem. When she would place commercially made baby headbands on them, the band would just slip down around their necks. After much frustration — and trial and error — she developed a two-piece system that could be adjusted to her children as they grew.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Leslie and Adam Maneen with their children.

Leslie knew this was a widespread problem, so she decided to try selling them on Etsy, but when she began to research, she discovered that there were over 200,000 baby headbands already listed. How could she stand out in a crowded marketplace? Her husband, Captain Adam Maneen, saw her frustration and mentioned that it was a shame there was no way to specify that she was a military wife because people would probably want to buy from her.

At that moment, the Patriotic Online Marketplace was conceived (like a baby — get it?). The marketplace is geared toward active duty, veterans, and their immediate family members to sell products and start online businesses without fees.

It’s become a success, with an ever-expanding vendor list and over 4400 products for sale. By focusing on the military and veteran communities, new businesses have the chance to be found and to build a customer base, without fear of being lost in the shuffle of goods. The products sold range from clothing to makeup, books to outdoor equipment, and baked goods to jewelry making supplies. There truly is something for everyone on the site, and the appeal of knowing you are helping military and veteran families is an additional draw.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Patriotic Online Marketplace founded Leslie Maneen.

Not only do the customers feel good about doing business with POMPUSA, or the Patriotic Online Marketplace, but the vendors are also very happy with how easy it is to set up their online storefronts and begin selling.

“I love your website, it has the simplicity of Etsy but all the functions of an actual website,” is a testimonial from one of their clients, Tattered Flag Designs.

The Maneens understand that time is precious, especially when you have a family. That understanding has helped them to build a company that values their vendors’ time and allows them to quickly set up their ventures to provide for their loved ones.

Also read: Veteran-owned Combat Flip Flops spreads peace in conflict zones

As Adam is still active duty, both he and Leslie split the work involved with Patriotic Online Marketplace. She handles the day-to-day operations and customer service and functions as the social media manager. Adam handles everything else in the evenings and late nights. He is thankful for his military career, as it has given his family a secure base to live off of while he and Leslie build their business.

As he puts it, “My kids are going to eat, be clothed, and have a safe place to sleep and those are non-negotiable. My sleep is negotiable.”

Leslie never had the opportunity to place her headbands on sale, but she doesn’t regret the time she invested in POMPUSA. She believes this new venture has been a blessing to her and her family. The opportunities and the community they are building are far more satisfying, with plans to offer coaching and incubator services to military and veteran-owned small businesses in the future.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Afghanistan got its bizarre panhandle

For a country that hasn’t been conquered since Tamerlane rolled through, Afghanistan has sure been shaped by all those who tried to control it. Today, there’s even a little strip of land in the country’s northeast that forms a panhandle – strange for such a small strip considering the major powers who fought for control of the area.


F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Good luck getting there.

It was those major powers who created the panhandle in the first place. Today it borders China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. But during a period of time in Afghan history known as “The Great Game,” those countries were parts of China, the Russian Empire, and the British Empire, respectively.

It was Britain’s way of containing a quickly-growing Russia.

A treaty between Russia and Great Britain in 1873 made the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan’s northern border. In 1893, the Durand Line became Afghanistan’s border with British India. A mostly independent Afghanistan was a buffer zone between the two growing empires.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
The red line through the center represents the British-imposed Durand Line.

The resulting narrow strip of land became known as the Wakhan Corridor.

It’s an area even more ungovernable than the rest of Afghanistan. At elevations as high as 17,000 feet in some areas, the area is inaccessible to most Afghans – and even the Taliban and the Soviet Union were unable (or unwilling) to fully move into the area.

The form of Islam practiced in the Wakhan is very hostile to the Taliban, a further explanation of the lack of central interference from Kabul.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
A valley in the Wakhan Corridor.

The 3,500-mile area used to be a route along the Silk Road and was traversed by great historical figures like Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. People there still depend on trade, but this remote part of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province sees little in the way of tourists or even Afghan visitors.

Today the area has few roads, no government, and is home to roughly 12,000 nomadic and semi-nomadic people.

MIGHTY MOVIES

What we know about the upcoming ‘John Wick 3: Parabellum’

No action-thriller films in recent memory have received as much acclaim from both critics and audiences as the John Wick series. Ever since the credits rolled on the second film, fans have been speculating and eagerly waiting to see what will happen to the action genre’s newest beloved badass.

On the surface, it’s a very simple plot to follow. Bad guys kill a man’s dog, so (spoiler alert) man brutally kills the bad guys — but it’s so much deeper than that. The first and second films brilliantly weave in minor references to the grander world of the former-assassin-turned-world’s-most-wanted-dog-avenger. It’s fair to assume that the third film will follow in the same vein.


Throughout the series, there is only one established rule that few characters dare to break: No criminal business, especially killing, is allowed in the Continental Hotel, which serves as a neutral hub for the underworld. Nearly every hardened killer in the series is willing to obey this rule, with the exception of Ms. Perkins (portrayed by Adrianne Palicki) in the first film. For breaking this rule, she’s killed, executioner-style, by a collection of underworld bosses.

John Wick: Chapter 2 ends with John killing the man who was blackmailing him back into assassin work at that very hotel. Instead of sharing the fate of Ms. Perkins, John has a million bounty placed on his head and is given a marker, a coin that can be turned in for a favor, and an hour-long head start. Every killer in the world checks their phones and is informed of the bounty — roll credits.

It can be assumed that the next film will take place moments after the order is given.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

It just feels right knowing that the same creative team gets to tell their complete, unedited story.

(Lionsgate Entertainment)

Details surrounding the next installment in the series remain very closely kept secrets, which doesn’t point to things faring well for our legendary assassin, but we’ve dug up a few clues.

First, we look toward the film’s IMDb page. According to the credits, several of the still-living characters are set to reappear. John Wick is still played by Keanu Reeves. Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, and Ian McShane are all set to reprise their respective roles. Newcomers to the series include Halle Berry and Jason Mantzoukas, both playing assassins.

Director of the first two films, Chad Stahelski, and Derek Kolstad, writer, are also taking up their former roles. Fans of the series can rejoice because this means that the tone and feeling of the third chapter will be consistent with the first two.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

According to a leaked set photo, he’s somehow going to steal a Central Park horse… and for some strange reason I’m excited about that.

(Lionsgate Entertainment)

Principal photography is currently underway and set photos are surfacing that showcase scenes in New York City. Since the previous film ends there, it’s safe to assume that these sets will be the backdrop of Wick’s escape from New York. In an interview with Fandom for the second film, Reeves admitted that he’d love for the series to go to Jerusalem to continue with the historic feeling of the missions.

The title of the upcoming film, John Wick 3: Parabellum, is a clever nod to the Latin phrase, “si vis pacem, para bellum,” which means, “if you want peace, prepare for war” (Not to go on at length, but this is also further proof of his Marine-ness). It’s also a reference to the 9mm Luger handgun cartridge — the 9mm Parabellum round. In terms of John Wick, this means he’ll have to do a lot of shooting if he wants to find that peace.

Another interesting tidbit of information, courtesy of IMDb, is the tagline for the film: “No shout, no scream, no shoot, no fear, no fire, no sign. Just one pencil.” Fans of the series learned early on that the legends of John Wick killing two men with just a pencil weren’t exaggerated. Maybe he’ll up his tally with even more men with the very same pencil. We’ll see.

The film is scheduled for release on May 19th, 2019 — two weeks after the climactic fourth Avengers film. Here’s to hoping both films crush it at the box office.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Which special operators make the best CIA agents?

There are more rumors and myths floating around about the Central Intelligence Agency then there are actual facts. “The Agency” or “The Company” is charged with preempting threats and furthering national security objectives by collecting and analyzing intelligence and conducting covert action while simultaneously safeguarding our nation’s secrets. It’s a broad mission, and a lot of trust has been granted to them by the American people to carry it out.

But it takes a special kind of person to thrive in the CIA.

Who, or what, are they looking for? And do those who served at the tip of the spear while in the military have a competitive advantage? If so, is a U.S. Navy SEAL better than a U.S. Army Ranger? Or does a Green Beret’s experience hold more weight when competing for one of the few spots available as a gray man?


The CIA doesn’t publicly answer any of those questions, instead opting to keep their ideal candidate’s qualifications vague. So we reached out to a few veterans of the Agency to see if they noticed any trends.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

Hafer while deployed to Africa.

(Photo courtesy of Evan Hafer)

Evan Hafer, former CIA contractor

Evan Hafer is in the coffee business these days, but he started out as a U.S. Army Special Forces NCO (noncommissioned officer) before transitioning to contracting for the CIA. He’s deployed dozens of times around the world on their behalf, and he even assessed and trained those who were trying out for the Agency’s elite high-threat, low-visibility security force toward the end of his career.

“It all depends on what kind of officer you’re looking for,” Hafer said. “When you look at paramilitary operations, they have a wide variety of objectives. A good portion is working by, through, and with foreign nationals while conducting covert action. For a long time, Special Forces did a lot of covert action, so they made for the best agents in that respect.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

Hafer while deployed to Afghanistan.

(Photo courtesy of Evan Hafer)

Hafer went on to explain that there are different types of jobs at the Agency that require different skill sets. “Typically a good Ranger NCO will make a great guy for on-the-ground, high-threat, low-visibility security work. And Marines across the spectrum are pretty good at a lot of different things.”

Hafer made sure to note the difference between conducting direct action (DA) in the military’s special operations units and gathering intelligence for the CIA. “If you like blowing doors down, intel will bore the fuck out of you,” Hafer said. “It’s a lot of writing, and regardless of background, guys who enjoy DA might not like the intel job.”

“If you’re a hammer and every problem is a nail, then you won’t like being the pen.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

(Photo courtesy of Bob Baer)

Bob Baer, former CIA case officer

You may recognize Bob Baer from his work hosting investigative shows on the History Channel or delivering commentary on CNN, but before that he spent 21 years as a CIA case officer. He deployed around the world, speaks eight languages, and even won the CIA’s career intelligence medal.

“It’s almost always Special Forces,” Baer said about the ideal background for working operations in the CIA. “These guys are out in places training locals. I found the SF guys, especially the ones who have experience working in strange places, to be most effective.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

(Photo courtesy of Bob Baer)

He even went so far as to say that elite Tier 1 operators (that many would assume to be perfect for the job) often don’t work out. “For them, it’s so low-speed — there’s not as much excitement as they’re used to. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Delta or SEAL Team Six guy make the adjustment.”

Baer echoed Hafer’s sentiment toward the U.S. Marines, saying, “It seemed the Marines did a good job adjusting.” And admitted that he usually preferred a military background over a straight academic: “All in all, people who were in the military were best because they learned about dealing with government BS, while the least equipped were always the academics.”

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Robyn, former CIA case officer

Robyn, like Baer, was a case officer for the CIA and spent years running sources around the world — to include active combat zones. She asked that we not use her last name but was happy to offer her thoughts on not just the ideal military resume, but also what it actually takes to be a successful case officer regardless of background.

“At the end of the day, you’re selling a lemon. You’re convincing someone to commit espionage and provide intel against their country in exchange for whatever is valuable to them,” Robyn explained. “You have to convince them that you care, that their life matters — whether it does or not.”

“So the guys that do well are the guys that understand the human factor,” she continued. “They have to understand what makes someone tick and pretend to be concerned. People are not going to put their lives at risk for someone who doesn’t care. You have to care.”

Robyn recalled a former state trooper who she worked with that did well, noting that a law enforcement background laid a solid foundation for talking to people who can be difficult to extract information from, such as witnesses and victims.

“The militant guys don’t do well,” Robyn said, noting that there’s a difference between being militant and being from the military, and that it takes a unique person to operate in the gray for months or even years at a time. “They’ve gotta operate without mental, emotional, or personal boundaries. There’s no commander’s intent, and the mission isn’t always clear. A renaissance man will do better than the fire-breather, even if they both come from Special Forces. We need the guys who can jump between philosophy and tactics while maneuvering in all different environments.”

The one thing that Hafer, Baer, and Robyn all agreed on is that no single bullet point on a resume qualifies someone for the difficult work of the CIA. They all emphasized that it takes a special person, and the best people at the Agency often have certain intangibles that you either have or you don’t. It seems it takes much more than a trident or a tab to make it into the nation’s most elite intelligence agency — and that’s a good thing.

Trojan Footprint: Embedded with Special Forces in Europe

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Air Force tested its personnel with real cyberattacks

In November 2018, the Air Force targeted its personnel at bases in Europe with spear-phishing attacks to test their awareness of online threats.

The tests were coordinated with Air Force leaders in Europe and employed tactics known to be used by adversaries targeting the US and its partners, the Air Force said in a release.

Spear-phishing differs from normal phishing attempts in that it targets specific accounts and attempts to mimic trusted sources.


Spear-phishing is a “persistent threat” to network integrity, Col. Anthony Thomas, head of Air Force Cyber Operations, said in the release.

“Even one user falling for a spear-phishing attempt creates an opening for our adversaries,” Thomas said. “Part of mission resiliency is ensuring our airmen have the proficiency to recognize and thwart adversary actions.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

Sailors on watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet, Dec. 14, 2017.

(US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Samuel Souvannason)

The technique has already been put into real-world use.

Just before Christmas in 2015, Russian hackers allegedly used spear-phishing emails and Microsoft Word documents embedded with malicious code to hit Ukraine with a cyberattack that caused power outages — the first publicly known attack to have such an effect.

In December 2018, the US Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals with involvement in a decade-long, government-backed effort to hack and steal information from US tech firms and government agencies.

Their group relied on spear-phishing, using an email address that looked legitimate to send messages with documents laden with malicious code.

For their test in November 2018, Air Force cyber-operations officials sent emails from non-Department of Defense addresses to users on the Air Force network, including content in them that looked legitimate.

The emails told recipients to do several different things, according to the release.

One appeared to be sent by an Airman and Family Readiness Center, asking the addressee to update a spreadsheet by clicking a hyperlink. Another email said it was from a legal office and asked the recipient to add information to a hyperlinked document for a jury panel in a court-martial.

“If users followed the hyperlink, then downloaded and enabled macros in the documents, embedded code would be activated,” the release said. “This allowed the threat emulation team access to their computer.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

US Cyber Command.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Results from the test — which was meant to improve the defenses of the network as a whole and did not gather information on individuals — showed most recipients were not fooled.

“We chose to conduct this threat emulation (test) to gain a deeper understanding of our collective cyber discipline and readiness,” said Maj. Ken Malloy, Air Force Cyber Operations’ primary planning coordinator for the test.

The lessons “will inform data-driven decisions for improving policy, streamlining processes and enhancing threat-based user training to achieve mission assurance and promote the delivery of decisive air power,” Malloy said.

While fending off spear-phishing attacks requires users to be cognizant of untrustworthy links and other suspicious content, other assessments have found US military networks themselves do not have adequate defenses.

A Defense Department Inspector General report released December 2018 found that the Army, the Navy, and the Missile Defense Agency “did not protect networks and systems that process, store, and transmit (missile defense) technical information from unauthorized access and use.”

That could allow attackers to go around US missile-defense capabilities, the report said.

In one case, officials had failed to patch flaws in their system after getting alerts about vulnerabilities — one of which was first found in 1990 and remained unresolved in April 2018.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why US troops don’t use ballistic shields

Note: For the sake of brevity, I will use the term “ballistic shields” to be an all-inclusive term for III-A rated shields used by law enforcement.

Even the Ballistic Resistant Protective Materials NIJ Standard 0108.01, a publication that is used by the U.S. Department of Justice, warns of highly technical jargon that may be confusing for the uninitiated when defining a ballistic shield:

“Because this NIJ standard is designed as a procurement aid, it is necessarily highly technical. For those who seek general guidance concerning the selection and application of law enforcement equipment, user guides have also been published. The guides explain, in non-technical language, how to select equipment capable of performance required by an agency.” – Lester D. Shubin, Program Manager for Standards, National Institute of Justice.

Related video:



An edge for the Thin Blue Line

Imagine, for a moment, a metropolis of crowded buildings, hours after nightfall. Strobes of red and blue paint the virtually empty streets. Police vehicles and personnel are poised with a single structure at their center. Negotiations are faltering, their demands are too ambitious, and the hostages are too far out of reach.

Your uniform declares “Special Weapons and Tactics” to the world. Your radio comes to life and the order is issued. Everyone is on high alert for what may happen next.

Leading a four-man formation with a shield and side arm, you glide, skirting the wall, right up to the front door. The second team arrives behind your stack. Protected by eyes and weapons pointed in all directions, you check the handle:

Locked.

After a moment of communication with a team member known as the breacher, he crosses to the opposite end of the door. You feel someone squeeze your arm; that’s the signal. You make eye contact with the breacher and he gives you a nod. The adrenaline pumping through your veins fuels a moment of clarity: You trained for this. You are ready for this. It’s time to lay down the f *cking law.

Every hallway, room, and staircase are methodically cleared using slow, but deliberate movements. Your shield never lowers, but the weight begins to take its toll on your strength.

Hostiles attempt to repel your advance by firing everything they’ve got. The roar of .44 magnums and 9mm pistols fill the air. Whatever your ballistic shield doesn’t block impacts around you.

You return the greeting — with interest — and push forward.

The outside world holds their breath, transfixed on the live-stream broadcast. The eyes of millions scan for every flash, boom, and bust from the safety of their phones. After what feels like an eternity, your team and the hostages emerge.

This is one of countless scenarios that law enforcement faces as “the thin blue line” separating the civilized world from the savagery of gangs and terror. Ballistic shields give officers an edge against an enemy that would otherwise prey on the innocent with impunity.

Could this edge be transferable to the battlefield?

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

A ballistic shield loses its edge on a battlefield – and more so against an unconventional foe.

First, its cumbersome size and weight reduces a rifleman’s speed and mobility — two very important traits that are not easily sacrificed by warriors. It’s always better to dodge a bullet than to block it (for obvious reasons). A modern troop will be equipped with heavy gear, ammo, and a chest full of patriotism.

The ballistic shield is lightweight only in the sense that it weighs under 20 pounds.

It just becomes another thing to lug around with no comfortable method of carry. It would be another asinine piece of gear that could potentially get you killed because some congressman and a defense firm shook hands. Firefights can sometimes last hours, days, or (in some of the most brutal circumstances) months, and you can literally and metaphorically find yourself fighting single-handed.

Second, unconventional enemies use high-caliber, armor-piercing rounds. Most of what you would find when fighting communists or terror organizations would turn a ballistic shield into Swiss cheese.

You won’t find the Islamic State imposing their twisted ideologies with a 9mm. An Improvised Explosive Device buried underneath the ground will effectively neutralize any benefit of that additional armor.

Third, most battles don’t devolve into a “Mexican Stand-Off,” sealed away from the rest of the city. If the enemy is fortified, but there are no hostages or prisoners of war, there are other options…

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

Ballistic shields have earned their place as a staple for law enforcement because they have a specific purpose. Those same shields offer little to no benefit in combat.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dunford gets the nod for second term as top US officer

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Gen. Joseph Dunford’s nomination for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


By voice vote on Sept. 27, members of the panel recommended the full Senate consider the selection of Dunford. He’s a highly respected, combat-hardened commander who’s received high marks from Republicans and Democrats.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (left). DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

Dunford completes his first term Sept. 30. The committee held his confirmation hearing Sept. 26, with just days to spare to give him another tour of duty.

Trump in May nominated Dunford to serve a second two-year term as chairman as most military leaders serve two terms. President Barack Obama had tapped Dunford for the job.

Dunford took over as chairman on Oct. 1, 2015, after one year as commandant of the Marine Corps.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The US kamikaze plan to end the Nazi nuclear program

In August 1942, Joseph Kennedy, Jr. died aboard a B-24 Liberator loaded with explosives – and almost nothing else. He was part of Operation Aphrodite, an all-out effort to destroy reinforced Nazi weapons bunkers. But there was one bunker in particular that appeared to resist every Army Air Forces bombing attempt. This one was critical because it developed off the merciless V-2 and maybe even V-3 rocket programs that terrorized London – and the United States thought it would be the delivery agent for a Nazi nuke.


It had to go – but to do that required a developing technology and a lot of bravado. More airmen than Nazis would die trying.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

These things were built to last.

For months, the Allies worked to destroy the bunker, called the Fortress of Mimoyecques, that might be developing the V-3 rocket, one that was possibly capable of guiding a nuclear weapon over London. Time and again, the United States would conduct a massive bombing operation over the site, but like clockwork, the resupply trains would be back the very next week. It seemed like nothing could be done using conventional explosives. So the USAAF turned to the unconventional. It turned to Operation Aphrodite.

The plan was for a remotely operated, obsolete bomber to be packed with the bare minimum of machinery and equipment necessary to get the craft over the target. The rest of the plane was filled with high explosives. While nowadays drone technology is pretty par for the course, back then it was something entirely different – not quite as reliable and it required a crew to get a plane up in the air, two at the bare minimum. So two men would be aboard a ticking time bomb as it took off for enemy territory and would have to bail out shortly after.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

The men were supposed to get the plane off the ground then bail out over the English Channel to be picked up. Then the plane would be guided using cameras on the instrument panel and the view ahead of the plane via remote control. Once at the target the plane would be flown into whatever was too protected for a conventional bombing run. The volunteer who wanted to fly the plane that was destined for the Fortress of Mimoyecques was none other than Lt. Joseph Kennedy Jr., brother to future President of the United States John F. Kennedy and son to prominent businessman Joseph P. Kennedy.

Unfortunately for the Kennedy family, the B-24 Liberator bomber Kennedy and his wingman Lt. Wilford J. Willy flew took off from RAF Fersfield in England, bound for the bunker complex in Northern France. The 20,000 pounds of Torpex explosive the B-24 was carrying ignited from an electrical fault in the plane shortly after takeoff. The resulting explosion was the largest conventional explosion in history at the time. Kennedy and Willy were likely vaporized instantly.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

Luckily for the Allies, the Aphrodite plan for Mimoyecques would be unnecessary. Canadian D-Day invaders reached the complex site on Sept. 4, 1944. What they found was not the vast underground death factory planners assumed was below the surface. It turned out the heavy bombing campaign – especially the use of Tallboy earthquake bombs – was enough to disrupt work at the complex. Hitler just kept sending fake resupply trains to the site in order to keep the Allies bombing a disused factory instead of massing German troops elsewhere in Europe.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps’ JLTV is officially ready for the battlefield

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is officially ready to deploy and support missions of the naval expeditionary force-in-readiness worldwide.

Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Combat Development and Integration declared the JLTV program — part of the Light Tactical Vehicle portfolio at Program Executive Officer Land Systems — reached initial operational capability, or IOC, on Aug. 2, 2019, nearly a year ahead of schedule.

“Congratulations to the combined JLTV Team for acting with a sense of urgency and reaching IOC early,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts. “Changing the speed in which we deliver, combined with coming in under cost and meeting all performance requirements, is a fine example of increasing Marine Corps capabilities at the speed of relevance which enables our Marines to compete and win on the modern battlefield.”


The JLTV, a program led by the Army, will fully replace the Corps’ aging High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle fleet. The JLTV family of vehicles comes in different variants with multiple mission package configurations, all providing protected, sustained, networked mobility that balances payload, performance and protection across the full range of military operations.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“I’m proud of what our team, in collaboration with the Army, has accomplished. Their commitment to supporting the warfighter delivered an exceptional vehicle, ahead of schedule, that Marines will use to dominate on the battlefield now and well into the future.”

Several elements need to be met before a program can declare IOC of a system, which encompasses more than delivery of the system itself. The program office also had to ensure all the operators were fully trained and maintenance tools and spare parts packages were ready.

“IOC is more than just saying that the schoolhouses and an infantry battalion all have their trucks,” said Eugene Morin, product manager for JLTV at PEO Land Systems. “All of the tools and parts required to support the system need to be in place, the units must have had received sufficient training and each unit commander needs to declare that he is combat-ready.”

For the JLTV, this means the program office had to fully field battle-ready vehicles to the Marine Corps schoolhouses—School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; School of Infantry West at Camp Pendleton, California; The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia; and the Motor Transport Maintenance Instruction Course at Camp Johnson, North Carolina—and to an infantry battalion at II Marine Expeditionary Force. The program office started delivering vehicles to the schoolhouses earlier this year and started delivering vehicles to the infantry battalion July 2019.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

On Aug. 2, 2019, Lt. Col. Neil Berry, the commanding officer for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, notified Morin and his team of the unit’s combat readiness with the JLTV. On Aug. 5, 2019, The Director, Ground Combat Element Division at CDI notified PM LTV of its IOC achievement. The JLTV is scheduled to start fielding to I MEF and III MEF before the end of September 2019.

According to LTV Program Manager Andrew Rodgers, during the post-acquisition Milestone C rebaseline of the JLTV schedule in January 2016, IOC was projected to occur by June 2020.

Rodgers says that detailed program scheduling, planning and, most importantly, teamwork with stakeholders across the enterprise enabled the program office to deliver the vehicles and reach IOC ahead of schedule.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicles has achieved initial operational capability.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“It was definitely a team effort, and we built up a really great team,” said Rodgers. “In terms of leadership, our product managers’ — both Gene Morin and his predecessor, Dave Bias — detailed focus and ability to track cost, schedule and performance was key. Neal Justis, our deputy program manager, has significant prior military experience working for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, so having him on board knowing how to work the Pentagon network was a huge force multiplier.”

Rodgers is quick to note that, although the team has reached IOC, this is really only the beginning of the JLTV’s future legacy.

“We are really at the starting line right now. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see JLTVs in the DOD,” said Rodgers. “We’ll easily still have these assets somewhere in the DOD in the year 2100. Welcome to the start of many generations of JLTVs.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how much it’s going to cost to send more troops to Afghanistan (Hint: It’s a lot)

The nation’s top military officer says the thousands of additional US troops President Donald Trump has ordered to Afghanistan will cost just over $1 billion a year.


Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the US is spending $12.5 billion overall to wage America’s longest war.

About 3,500 more American forces are being sent to Afghanistan as part of Trump’s new strategy. Dunford says the US will “fight to win” by attacking enemies, “crushing” al-Qaeda, and preventing terrorist attacks against Americans. The additional troops will augment the roughly 8,400 Americans currently stationed there.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (left). DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

Dunford says about $5 billion of the total expense is required to support the Afghan security forces.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the United States should remain in the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration that constrains Iran’s ability to build a nuclear arsenal.

Sen. Angus King of Maine asked Mattis during a congressional hearing if he thinks it’s in the national security interests of the United States to stay a part of the international accord.

Mattis says, “Yes, senator, I do.”

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (left) and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

President Donald Trump has called the deal the worst agreement ever negotiated by the United States.

Trump has repeatedly said that he’s inclined not to certify Iranian compliance after having twice found the country compliant at earlier deadlines. Denying certification could lead the US to reintroduce sanctions, which in turn could lead Iran to walk away from the deal or restart previously curtailed nuclear activities.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Afghanistan security forces are fully engaged in offensive military operations for the first time during the 16-year-old war.

During congressional testimony Oct. 3, Mattis says the Afghan forces are suffering fewer casualties as they continue to improve.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
Photo by Michael Vadon

Mattis says more than 3,000 additional US troops are being sent to Afghanistan to reinforce the roughly 8,400 American forces currently stationed there.

President Donald Trump announced in August a plan to end America’s longest war and eliminate a rising extremist threat in Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, lectured Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford at the opening of the hearing. McCain says the Trump administration has failed to inform Congress of the details of the strategy spelled out by Trump.

popular

That time the Coast Guard tried using pigeons for sea rescues

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, the Coast Guard thought they had a better way to search for people lost in the ocean. They tested using pigeons affixed to the underside of helicopters.


Yes, like the pigeons in the park. And, yes, it did work. The birds performed about twice as well as their human counterparts at spotting “appropriate targets” on their first pass over an area.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
The pigeons performed amazingly at spotting debris in the ocean but were only trained on orange, yellow, and red objects. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

The pigeons involved in Project Sea Hunt, as the effort was known, were first sent to “basic training.” For obvious reasons, about the only thing pigeon basic shared with human basic was the name.

Pigeons were placed in training chambers with “peck keys” that released food when pressed. Once the pigeons got the hang of the keys, their training boxes would be faced toward Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where a buoy with a radio-operated orange plate floated. Trainers would expose the orange plate and then reward the pigeon when it hit the keys, but wouldn’t feed the pigeons if the plate wasn’t exposed.

Over time, the target would be moved further away from the pigeons to train them to look further out to sea.

Once the pigeons passed basic training, the top graduates would proceed to advanced training where the pigeons were actually placed in chambers mounted beneath a helicopter and had to find orange, yellow, and red objects in the ocean. Each bird covered a 120-degree window, so a pod with three pigeons could see in 360 degrees.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
A pigeon is loaded into its pod during training in Project Sea Hunt. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

In testing on the helicopter, the pigeons spotted targets on the first pass 90% of the time. The human crewmembers were capable of finding the target on the first pass only 38% of the time. In a later test, when the humans knew they were trying to catch up to the pigeons, the humans scored a 50.

In passes where both humans and the pigeons spotted the target, the pigeon spotted it first 84% of the time. The pigeons were proving to be amazing day-time searchers.

There were a few drawbacks to the use of pigeons. First, the weight of the pigeons had to be carefully maintained. Pigeons at 80% of their “free food” weight were generally hungry enough to search the ocean for hours without losing focus. Dropping below that weight threatened the pigeons’ health but going above it would reduce their effectiveness.

And there was one tragedy in the program. A flight was sent to hunt for a missing boat and the helicopter stayed out too long. It ran out of fuel and conducted a forced landing at sea. The crew escaped with no injuries but they couldn’t get the pigeons out in time.

A second batch of pigeons was sent through training to both replace the lost pigeons and to increase the number of pigeons available for missions.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology
The small bubble on the bottom of this helicopter contains three pigeons trained to spot life rafts. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

Overall, Project Sea Hunt was so successful that a 1981 audit of the program recommended that the pigeons serve at a Coast Guard air station on proper missions and that new pods be developed so that the birds could fly on newer helicopters. Federal budget cuts resulted in the program being shuttered instead.

Advances in technology have made the pigeons less necessary. Planes designed to hunt subs using magnets are much better at finding plane debris than pigeons ever were, and improved homing beacons for rafts and wrecks make the job of scanning miles of ocean less necessary.

Still, there’s a niche that pigeons could still fill better than almost any gadgets, that of looking for orange rafts and flotation devices in the open ocean.

(More photos and background on the program are available at the Coast Guard’s web page for Project Sea Hunt.)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy awards contract for long-awaited ‘Stingray’

The Navy awarded a contract to The Boeing Co. Aug. 30, 2018, for the MQ-25A Stingray, the first operational carrier-based unmanned refueling aircraft.

This fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract with a ceiling price of $805.3 million provides for the design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024.


“MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. “This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our sailors and Marines in the fleet.”

When operational, MQ-25 will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.

F-22 and F-35 test their ‘beast mode’ stealth technology

MQ-25A Stingray.

(Boeing photo)

“This is a historic day,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing — all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging.”

The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.

MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

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