How Russia gained a 'treasure trove' of intel on the US Air Force - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

In the fight against the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria, U.S. and U.S.-led-coalition jets have flown thousands of sorties and dropped tons of munitions — but in doing so, they’ve tipped their hand to Russian fighter jets that have eagerly stalked them.


“The skies over Iraq and specifically Syria have really just been a treasure trove for them to see how we operate,” Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson said at an Air Force Association briefing hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on Jan. 4.

“Our adversaries are watching us — they’re learning from us,” said Jamieson, adding that Russia’s air force cycled most forces through Syria to give them real-world combat experience.

During the air campaign in Syria, Russia got a look at the tactics, behaviors, radar, and thermal signatures of the US’s top air-dominance fighter, the F-22.

Russia is figuring the US out and gloating over it

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Russian Su-35 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the skies over Syria, Russia’s top fighter jets came face to face with the F-22 and appeared to show it little reverence.

Russia’s air force has gloated over its dominance in such encounters, though that should be taken with a grain of salt.

“We always found ourselves ‘on their tails,’ as the pilots say, which means victory in a dogfight,” said Maksim Makolin of Russian Aerospace Forces, according to state media.

Though Russia often exaggerates or fabricates stories of its air force’s prowess, there’s reason to believe Russia gained valuable information that could help it in a fight with U.S. jets.

“Russia can learn more than just observing U.S./coalition tactics, techniques, and procedures,” Justin Bronk, an expert on aerial combat at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider. “They can also ‘paint’ Western fighters and other air assets with ground-based and aerial fire control and search radars.”

Also Read: This is the reason Russian and Western tactics are changing

The F-22 relies on stealth for its major advantage against Russian jets, which perform similarly, if not better, in traditional confrontations like dogfights. If Russia gained experience tracking the F-22 with infrared-search-and-track radars, as Bronk suggested it might have, it would be “very useful stuff.”

Russia’s operating close to the U.S. most likely allowed it to tune its air- and land-based sensors to detect all varieties of U.S. and coalition aircraft operating over Syria.

Russia in Syria has been a double-edged sword

As a result, the advantages afforded to planes like the F-22 that utilize stealth — and all U.S. fighter jets that use classified tactics in combat scenarios — may have been eroded.

“Russia has gained invaluable insights and information with operating in a contested airspace alongside us in Syria, and they’re incorporating lessons learned of actually doing a first ‘away’ fight,” Jamieson said.

But as Bronk points out, the observation was most likely mutual — and most likely cut both ways.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

“Whilst Russia is certainly making every use that it can of the opportunity to learn about Western air operations and capabilities in the shared skies over Syria, that process goes both ways since whatever Russian military aircraft do is done within airspace heavily surveilled by Western assets,” Bronk said.

Still, as adversaries catch up, the future of U.S. air supremacy becomes less clear.

“The United States Air Force can and will maintain air supremacy today,” Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland said at the briefing. “The question is the future.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

US and Polish combat controllers train near Krakow

Clouds make way for the first pass of combat controllers from the U.S. and Polish forces as they free fall out of an MC130J Commando during a culmination exercise near Krakow, Poland recently. The joint team is determined to put all their recent training into action as they steer their parachutes onto the calculated target.

“We are in Poland to strengthen our already capable POLSOF allies by advising them on how we conduct special operations air land integration,” said the 321st Special Tactics Squadron commander, assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing, based in the United Kingdom. “This will give our Polish allies the ability to survey, secure and control an austere airfield anywhere in Poland.”


The exercise was based on a real-world scenario which featured jumping into and seizing an unimproved airfield, where they completed tasks such as deploying undetected into hostile combat and austere environments, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and command and control.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

Pararescuemen from the U.S. Air Force’s 321st Special Tactics Squadron assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing in England, conduct a medic response scenario during a culmination exercise near Krakow.

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

“The CULMEX was our final chance to see everything we’ve trained with our Polish counterparts,” said the 321st STS mission commander. “The 321 STS is extremely impressed with the high level of partnership and competency demonstrated by the soldiers of the Polish Special Operations Forces from Military Unit NIL.”

By sharing methods and developing best practices, U.S. and NATO partners around the world remain ready to respond to any potential real-world contingencies in Eastern Europe.

The team deployed to Poland months prior, in order to build upon Polish Special Operations Command’s ability to conduct special operations air-to-land integration.

“We’ve been planning for two months,” said a 321st STS combat controller. “We’ve practiced basics of assault zones, air traffic control, completing surveys and what we call the global-access piece; our capability to find airfields anywhere in the world to forward project highly trained manpower and equipment whenever needed.”

Along with developing joint leaders, this deployment gave the units the opportunity to establish professional development at the tactical level.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

A combat controller from U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s 321st Special Tactics Squadron assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing in England, prepares to free fall out of an MC130J during a culmination exercise near Krakow.

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

“It helped us to learn our job better too; I feel like anytime you’re training with another unit, it makes you that much better at your own skills. It allowed some of our younger guys to become leaders and put them in positions where they may not have been before,” said a 321st STS combat controller.

“We are very proud of our relationship with POLSOF and other NATO allies,” said the 321st STS commander. “We look forward to building and maintaining our abilities to conduct special operations (air-to-land) integration in Europe as a joint and ready force.”

Through these types of joint training exercises, special operation commands across the force stand ready to operate anytime, anyplace.

“This will ultimately increase the reach and the responsiveness of U.S. and NATO forces, deterring enemy aggression in Eastern Europe,” said the 321st STS commander. “Should the day come where we have to fight together in combat, I am confident in our joint capabilities.”

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

Articles

Alec Baldwin to play Colonel Jessep in NBC’s “A Few Good Men”

Emmy-Award winner Alec Baldwin will be playing Colonel Jessep in NBC’s live production of “A Few Good Men.” The role was played iconically by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 film of the same name.


According to a report by Variety, Baldwin, along with Aaron Sorkin, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron, will be credited as executive producers of the live telecast. Sorkin, who wrote the 1992 film and the 1989 play it was based on, is writing the teleplay adaptation.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Alec Baldwin (Wikimedia Commons)

“Alec is one of our greatest actors. Having him play this role — live onstage for a television audience — is a dream come true. This will be a brand new take on Nathan Jessep and I expect that Alec is going to bust through TV screens and right into living rooms,” Sorkin, also known for producing the television series “The West Wing,” told Variety.com in response to the casting announcement.

Baldwin has played other roles in military-related projects, including Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October,” and Jimmy Doolittle in “Pearl Harbor.” He also has extensive live television experience, being a 17-time host of “Saturday Night Live.”

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

The 1992 film took in over $243 million worldwide, and the American Film Institute noted that the character of Colonel Jessep was nominated as one of the great villains of all time, and his quote, “You can’t handle the truth!” was ranked 29th among the 100 greatest movie quotes.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Wikimedia Commons

The 1989 play garnered a Tony Award nomination for actor Tom Hulce, who portrayed Lieutenant Junior Grade Kaffee.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia backs off Syria threats after Marine show of force

The Russians appear to have backed off their earlier threats after the US Marine Corps sent them a clear message.

The Pentagon, US Central Command, and Operation Inherent Resolve have all confirmed that Russia has stayed out of the deconfliction zone and is no longer insisting on conducting operations or launching precision strikes in the area near the At Tanf garrison, where US Marines are based.

Russia warned the US twice on Sept. 1, 2018, and again on Sept. 6, 2018, that the Russian military, together with Syrian and pro-regime forces, planned to carry out counterterrorism operations inside the 55-kilometer deconfliction zone. It accused the US and its coalition partners of harboring terrorists.


Immediately following Russia’s threats, the US Marine Corps conducted a live-fire demonstration at the At Tanf garrison to drive home the point that the US military did not need Russia’s help eliminating terrorists.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Carter Sampson, an anti-tank missile gunner with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, fires a FGM-148 Javelin, a shoulder-fired anti-tank missile, at his target during a live fire demonstration near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, Sept. 7, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Roderick Jacquote)

“The United States does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria, or any groups that may be providing support to Syria in the Syrian civil war,” the US Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown previously told Business Insider, adding: “The United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend US, coalition, or partner forces as we have clearly demonstrated in past instances.”

“The US does not require any assistance in our efforts to destroy ISIS in the At Tanf deconfliction zone, and we advised the Russians to remain clear,” he added.

In the nearly two weeks since, the Russians have not contacted the US military about operations inside the deconfliction zone, an area the Syrians and the Russians want to access to build a strategic land bridge between Tehran and Damascus.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Call sign ‘Vader-1’- US Space aggressors prepare American combat pilots for a new era of extraterrestrial warfare

Several times each year America’s premier combat pilots converge on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for an air war exercise called Red Flag.

The storied proving ground for Air Force fighter pilots, Red Flag has become a bellwether for the war of the future, underscoring how fighter jocks and the supersonic whips they command are now only one piece of a complicated web of interwoven combat domains — including novel, non-kinetic threats in cyberspace and outer space.

As participants in Red Flag 21-1, members of the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron — an Air Force Reserve unit — simulate how America’s modern adversaries might use space-borne weapons to degrade the air superiority advantage that US combat forces have long enjoyed.

“Our role in [Red Flag] 21-1 is to replicate how an adversary would act in a conflict using space enabled capabilities,” said Maj. Scott Hollister, a flight commander in the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron — call sign Vader-1.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
An F-35A Lightning II fighter jet assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis out to the runway for a Red Flag 21-1 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 28, 2021. The F-35A is the Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. Photo by William R. Lewis/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

Activated in 2000, the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron was the US military’s first space aggressor unit. The 26th Space Aggressor Squadron, for its part, stood up in 2003. Space aggressors generally focus on three types of space-borne threats — GPS electronic attacks, satellite communications electronic attacks, and anti-satellite attacks.

“We and our active duty counterparts, the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, are the only units who bring a space oriented ‘bad guy’ perspective to the exercise,” Hollister said, regarding Red Flag.

Located just outside of Las Vegas, Nellis Air Force Base is known as the “Home of the Fighter Pilot.”

Typically running multiple times per year, Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier air combat exercise, involving air, ground, cyber, and space threats. Running from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, this year’s first iteration of the exercise includes some 2,400 participants from three countries, operating a gamut of the world’s most advanced combat aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lighting II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, EA-18G Growler, F-15E Strike Eagle, and A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog.”

During Red Flag, pilots and other personnel are pitted in mock combat against elite American “aggressor” units whose sole purpose is to simulate the combat tactics, technology, and procedures of foreign adversaries’ military forces.

The Air Force’s two active aggressor fighter squadrons fly F-16 fighters painted in unusual camouflage schemes and colors not normally found on American warplanes. The pilots in these elite aviation units compete against their peers in simulated dogfights and other air combat scenarios. Reportedly, there are plans to integrate early-model F-35As into the aggressor fleet by mid-2021.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
An F-16C Falcon fighter jet assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron prepares to take off for a Red Flag 21-1 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 28, 2021. Aggressor pilots are highly skilled in US and adversary tactics, which provides realism for US and allied forces during training exercises. Photo by William R. Lewis/US Air Force, courtesy of DVIDS.

As the Pentagon buckles down for great power competition after a generational focus on combatting low-tech insurgencies, the Air Force has put a renewed emphasis on its aggressor units. To that end, Red Flag offers American forces a chance to operate in a contested, degraded environment, facing threats from the air, ground, space, and cyberspace.

“Any realistic training against a near-peer or competitor nation is going to require heavy utilization of multi-domain operations. The classical role of the Air Force being able to penetrate an airspace protected by an Integrated Air Defense System is no longer a problem set that can be solved using Air Force assets and capabilities alone,” US Space Force Capt. Kaylee Taylor, chief of non-kinetic integration at the 414th Combat Training Squadron, said in a release.

During Red Flag, the space aggressors simulate an adversary’s tactics by jamming satellite communications and GPS receivers. This training teaches American warfighters how potent these “non-kinetic” weapons can be.

In military parlance, “non-kinetics” generally refers to electronic warfare weapons — deployed from the ground, air, and space — which can be used in tandem with cyberattacks. At Red Flag, the space aggressors work closely with a cyber aggressor unit to mimic the combined non-kinetic threats that US forces would likely face against a modern adversary such as Russia or China.

According to an Air Force release: “The 26th [Space Aggressor Squadron] mission is to replicate enemy threats to space-based and space-enabled systems during tests and training exercises. By using Global Positioning System and satellite communications adversary effects, the squadron provides Air Force, joint and coalition military personnel with an understanding of how to recognize, mitigate, counter and defeat these threats.”

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
US Space Force Capt. Kaylee Taylor, chief of non-kinetic integration at the 414th Combat Training Squadron, poses for a photo at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Photo by Senior Airman Dylan Murakami/US Air Force.

Proficiency in operating with degraded systems could be decisive in a modern war. Adversaries such as Russia and China have electronic warfare technology capable of interfering with GPS signals and communication feeds — effectively divorcing US pilots from the technological aids on which they’ve relied to prosecute the post-9/11 air wars over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

In short — US combat pilots are training to fight a far more technologically sophisticated adversary than they’ve faced since 2001. And they’re training to do so without relying on America’s vaunted technological dominance in air power.

For fighter pilots, that means a renewed emphasis on certain old-school tactics, such as executing airstrikes with unguided, free-fall “dumb bombs” that depend on a pilot’s touch to ballistically lob onto a target. They also need exposure to the full gamut of electronic warfare threats they may face in combat against a near-peer adversary.

“For the pilots, it may be their first time seeing non-kinetics, space or cyber integrated into the air fight. We introduce it to them so they can prepare to compete and win in all-domain combat operations,” Taylor, the Space Force captain, said of Red Flag 21-1.

Two decades of counterinsurgency operations have adapted American combat pilots to operate within fairly predictable war zone architectures. But in the next war, US forces will face much more confusing battlefields where nothing can be taken for granted — especially communication and GPS.

“Red Flag aims to train how we fight against modern potential adversary capabilities. In order to do this, we have to bring together airborne capabilities with the emerging capabilities of both space and cyber units,” Taylor said.

Articles

Oldest American WWII veteran dies at 110

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
(Photo: USA Today)


Frank Levingston, the oldest living World War II veteran, died on May 3 in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. He was 110 years old, which also made him the oldest living man in the United States.

According to his wikipedia page, he was born on November 13, 1905 in North Carolina, one of seven children. Levingston enlisted in the US Army in 1942. He served as private during the war in the Allied invasion of Italy which lasted from September 1943 to January 1944. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1945, he became a union worked specializing in cement finishing. He never married.

On August 16, 2015, he became the oldest recognized living military veteran in the United States, following the death of Emma Didlake.

“I’ve been through so many dangerous things and I’m still here. I’m thankful to the almighty God for it,” Levingston said in an interview with WTVR marking his 110th birthday. “I think I’m one of the blessed ones.”

Pamela Gobert, one of Levingston’s good friends, said in that interview: “He’s always got a kind word and he lets me know that sometimes it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” said Gobert. “One time we were at Memorial and a young lady asked him ‘Mr. Frank how old are you going to live?’ and he said ‘110.’”  He was right.

In December of 2015, he went on an honor flight to Washington, D.C. – it was his first time to ever visit the nation’s capital and war monuments. He helped to mark Pearl Harbor Day by taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Monument.  He was unable to meet the President but did meet representatives of his state.

(Watch footage of his visit here.)

Levingston, a member of the Greatest Generation who had little formal education, gave his most valuable lesson in life: “Be honest. That’s about all I can tell you.”

Articles

The chair of the joint chiefs of staff reveals biggest lesson he’s learned in the fight against ISIS

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Gen. Dunford touring a facility in Kabul Base Cluster | Flickr


The US has been able to greatly improve its use of intelligence over the 600-day fight against ISIS, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Business Insider on Tuesday.

“If you want to talk about lessons learned, I‘ll tell you, I’m probably relearning lessons over the last couple of years, and No. 1 is intelligence,” Gen. Joseph Dunford said in response to a question from Business Insider during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“If you want to know why our operation’s quantifiably more effective today than they were a year and a half ago, it’s because our intelligence is getting much better,” Dunford continued.

Dunford had stressed in recent congressional testimony that with nearly 100 nations and approximately 30,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, the US military needed more cooperation from other nations’ intelligence operations.

“I won’t go into great detail right now, but in terms of how you fully harness the intelligence community, getting the right people in the right places to do target development — has been something that’s frustrating to me,” Dunford said Tuesday.

“I think we’ve made some improvements that result in the progress that we have made,” he added.

Dunford’s comments came days after the Pentagon announced the US-led coalition, Operation Inherent Resolve, killed Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the top financier for ISIS (aka Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh). It was a sign of the progress to which Dunford referred.

“We’re systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a briefing last Friday.

As of March 15, the US-led coalition has conducted a total of 10,962 strikes throughout the region, with 7,336 strikes in Iraq and 3,626 strikes being conducted in Syria.

The Department of Defense puts the total cost of anti-ISIS operations at $6.5 billion as of February 29, 2016. And the average daily cost stands at about $11.4 million for 571 days of operations.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why the US doesn’t export the F-22

Lockheed Martin, the leading manufacturer of stealth aircraft in the world, proposed a new hybrid between the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning on April 22, 2018, for Japan to purchase, and it could easily outclass the US Air Force.

Japan has, for decades, wanted in on the US Air Force’s F-22, a long-range, high-capacity stealth fighter that perfectly suits its defense needs, except for one problem — the US won’t sell it.


While completing the F-22, the US ruled out its sale to allies as the technology involved in the plane was too advanced for export. But this decision took place 11 years ago in 2007.

Today, the US is in the process of selling Japan the F-35 multi-role strike aircraft, but according to Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, the plane’s design makes it less than ideal for Tokyo.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
An F-35 Lightning II
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago)

“The F-35 is primarily a strike aircraft, intended to hit well defended targets on the ground, and is limited in air-to-air combat because of its size, its single engine, and way it was designed,” Bronk said.

But because Russian and Chinese jets constantly pester Japan’s airspace, Tokyo wants a more air-dominance focused jet.

The F-22 can cruise at 60,000 feet going about 1.5 times the speed of sound without igniting the afterburners, meaning it can maintain its stealth while covering incredible distances in short times. The F-35 is a capable fighter, but can’t touch those numbers.

“Along with a bigger missile load out, it’s a much much more capable for air superiority tasks,” Bronk said of the F-22. “The strike role that Japan really really cares about is not really the one that the F-35 is designed for.”

He added that Japan would love a jet that can fire anti-ship missiles, but that the F-35 is just too small to hold them inside its stealthy weapons bays.

Beast of both worlds

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
(U.S. Air Force photo)

President Donald Trump has moved to loosen up restrictions on foreign military sales, and could potentially revisit the decade-old ruling on selling the F-22, as the sensitive technology it uses has aged and become less cutting-edge, but that same advancement in technology has likely doomed the F-22’s restart.

Bronk said the costs of restarting F-22 production were “not trivial,” and even if Japan offered to pay, “a lot of the electronic components, computer chips and things, are not built anymore.” The F-22 had a decades-long development that started off with 1980s-era technology.

“If you were going to put the F-22 into production now, it’s hard to justify doing without updating the electronics,” Bronk said. Once the electronics become updated, and take up less space and throw off the balance of the jet, the flight software would need an update. Once the flight software starts getting updated, “it starts to look like a new fighter program,” Bronk said.

This would create a serious headache for the US Air Force

In the end, Lockheed’s proposal looks like an F-22 airframe jammed with F-35 era technology, essentially stripping the best part of each jet and combining them in a plane that would outclass either.

“If it can stomach the costs, then not only would Japan have a fantastic fighter on its hands, but perhaps problematically it would be more capable than anything the US Air Force is flying,” Bronk explained.

In the end, the US Air Force would end up in a very difficult position — having to live with Japan getting a better fighter, or spending money earmarked for F-35s, which the US sees as the future of its force, on another aircraft it didn’t come up with.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

There’s a current Army helicopter you may have never seen

While Black Hawks, Apaches, and Chinooks usually get top billing when the Army comes out to play at air shows and sporting events (plus the occasional MH-6 Little Bird when special operation aviators come to play), the service does have another helicopter quietly working behind the scenes to plug crucial gaps: the UH-72 Lakota.


How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

(New Jersey National Guard Mark Olsen)

There are a few reasons why you may not know much about the Lakota. First, there aren’t very many of them. While the Army has over 2,000 Black Hawks, there are less than 500 UH-72 Lakotas. And a new purchase of less than a dozen UH-72 airframes can trigger news coverage. Meanwhile, even the expensive and relatively niche Apache fleet boasts over 650 birds.

But another reason the Lakota doesn’t usually get on the front page is that it doesn’t deploy. It wasn’t purchased to deploy, and then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Congress that it couldn’t go overseas as currently configured. It simply doesn’t have the necessary systems to protect itself from enemy fire and keep its pilots alive after crashes.

But the missions the Lakota can do are still important. It’s a workhorse that can fly in rough weather and provide assistance during disaster response. That’s a big part of why it’s primarily flown by National Guard units. It may not be expected to fight and win in the deserts of the Middle East, but it can hoist a family out of hell or high water during a wildfire or flood.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

(Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office Scott Sturkol)

And it can do so at a discount. It costs 30 to 50 percent less to fly per flight hour than a Black Hawk according to Sikorsky estimates, partially thanks to the lack of all those protective systems that a Black Hawk has.

It first flew in 2006, making it the youngest helicopter in the Army’s fleet. It has two engines that supply over 1,400 shaft horsepower to the main rotor over 36-feet in diameter. The main and tail rotors are intentionally set higher than normal above the ground so that, when the helicopter is on the ground, it’s still relatively safe to load patients, passengers, or cargo into the side or rear doors.

This is especially valuable when the UH-72 is used as an air ambulance, which it often is. Litter crews can load a patient in quickly and safely from multiple angles, and the helicopter can carry two litters and a medic per flight. In its utility role, it can carry eight troops instead of the two passengers.

It can reach a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet, pretty close to the Black Hawk’s 19,000 feet ceiling. Though, again, that’s largely thanks to all the gizmos the Lakota doesn’t need for its peacetime missions. The newest Black Hawk has way more power at over 3,600 shaft horsepower, more than 2.5X the Lakota’s.

All of this makes the Lakota great for homeland security and disaster response, and the Army has even made it the primary helicopter in its training fleet.

But don’t expect it to become the shiny crown jewel in the Army’s fleet. Modifying the Lakota to take on the Black Hawk’s mission or anything similar would drastically drive up costs and, without upgraded engines, adds little in terms of capability. And the Army is already shopping for more exotic designs like the tilt-rotor V-280 Valor and Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider with its compound rotor and push propeller.

Articles

North Korean nuke fears prompt interest in abandoned ICBM sites

As the owner selling an excavated underground Minuteman II missile site in Missouri on eBay, California investor Russ Nielsen reads the pulse of America’s darkest fears.


The number of people visiting the historic property’s eBay information page spikes like an EKG in a heart attack.

Ordinarily, the curious property located near Holden, MO, may get some 70 online views a day, Nielsen said by phone this week from California.

When Donald Trump won the presidency last November? Boom. The site was getting 140 to 150 hits a day.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

And now, as North Korea’s volatile leader Kim Jong Un defiantly sends ballistic missiles over Japan, survivalists and the frightened are back at some 150 views a day.

“It’s definitely a ‘prepper’ kind of thing,” Nielsen said, referring to the slang term for people who want to be prepared in the event of widespread calamity and disorder.

Bomb shelter companies across the nation are reporting a boost in sales.

The selling price for Nielsen’s unique property, though, is steep for most people, he said. It’s going for $325,000. He’s had five potential buyers who were serious since he put it up for sale in the fall of 2015, he said. A couple of them are still trying to raise the financing.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

What Nielsen recovered — at great cost and effort over a span of two years — is the “Mike-1” Minuteman II missile launch facility that housed the missileers who controlled the triggers to 10 of the 150 intercontinental missile sites scattered across central Missouri under the command of Whiteman Air Force Base.

Most of the Minuteman II sites — including all of the Missouri sites — were decommissioned some 20 years ago. Their shafts were buried under a mix of concrete, mud, and rock that was meant to deter any thoughts of reactivating them.

The project, including the maddening bureaucracy in getting his quixotic venture approved, turned into such a laborious boondoggle that Nielsen admits he wouldn’t have done it knowing what he knows now.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Russ Nielsen stands at the entrance of his Minuteman-II silo, before renovation. Photo by Joe Ledford of The Kansas City Star.

But, having endured it, he has relished the many inquiries he has received from veterans who served underground those many decades ago — “Ratmen,” they called themselves. The history of America’s Cold War has been fascinating.

The Minuteman II missiles represented the height of America’s Cold War arsenal, with about 1,000 of them forever ready to launch.

Some 450 sites with Minuteman III missiles remain ready in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Image from the Kansas City Star

Not surprisingly, some of Nielsen’s most interested potential buyers have had an eye on the site’s unique history as well as its accommodations in the event of a national disaster.

One potential buyer has been trying to gather financing for an historical movie project, he said. Another has interest in turning it into a residential training facility for martial and military arts.

Not surprising for a property whose curb appeal requires a bit of imagination.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Iran stopped messing with the US Navy under Trump

Iran’s navy made a point of harassing and humiliating the US Navy in 2016 after then-President Barack Obama had sealed the Iran deal, but since August 2017, the US Navy says things have changed.


“It seems like they’ve absolutely made a conscious decision to give us more space,” Navy Cmdr. William Urban recently said. “That is definitely a change in their behavior.”

Iran would charge US Navy ships with fast attack craft, buzz fighter jets with drones, and even shine lasers at helicopters operating at sea during Obama’s presidency.

But the worst, most embarrassing incident occurred in January 2016, when Iran’s navy seized two US Navy riverine boats and the 10 sailors on board after the ship wandered into Iranian waters due to mechanical issues. They broadcast footage of the sailors, crying, in detention, on television across the country. Iran later announced plans to build a monument commemorating the event.

Also read: The US Navy had 90 seconds to defend itself when Iranian-backed militants fired on them off Yemen

Later that year, Iranian ships conducted “unsafe and unprofessional” and often taunting maneuvers around US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf five times in about a month.

In September of that same year, Trump addressed Iran while on the campaign trail. “When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” Trump said.

Shortly after Trump’s election, the incidents noticeably stopped, despite Trump’s open hostility towards Iran, compared to Obama’s attempts to appease them.

What happened?

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
Iran’s fast attack craft, the type repeatedly used to harass US Navy ships. (Photo by Fars News Agency via USNI News)

The US Navy “openly acknowledged there was a shift that happened roughly around the time we had our political transition,” Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. “There was a status quo and the status quo changed.”

According to Schanzer, the Trump administration gave no official warning to Iran over the naval incidents, but instead, “the unpredictability of Trump has made Iran more reticent to test American red lines.”

Related: Iran threatened the US Navy again

Compared to the US Navy, the best on earth, Iran’s navy just treads water. Iranians, even the hardliners, must know their small attack craft can’t pose a meaningful threat to US ships, and even if they could, US retaliation would devastate the forces.

Instead, rushing US ships and putting them on the defensive, as well as capturing sailors, works mainly for propaganda purposes for Iran, whose authoritarian regime controls the media and pushes a heavily anti-US agenda.

With Trump similarly focused on optics and pledging to revitalize the US military, Iran may have pivoted towards quietly pursuing its foreign policy goals, rather than making a scene that Trump could react to violently.

More: The US Navy unloaded on the Iranians in the most explosive surface fight since WWII

“There’s another side of this,” said Schanzer. “They understood that there was a change in the rules of the risk/reward calculus, but they also seem to understand that there was less of a policy with regard to their regional activity from Yemen to Iraq to Syria.”

So while Iran has dropped the very visible, US-centric naval run-ins, it’s picked up on recruiting militias, deploying its armed forces to Syria, and supplying anti-US and anti-Israel militant groups.

“They realize if they want to actually achieve their objectives across the Middle East, they needed to dial back on the harassment that would needlessly provoke the US,” Schanzer said.

Articles

Army, NFL scientists team up to develop injury-reducing neck tether

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force
The Rate-Activated Tether | U.S. Army photo


Army scientists, working with officials from the National Football League, have developed a wearable device that helps reduce head and neck injuries.

The Rate-Activated Tether, is a flexible strap that connects a helmet to shoulder pads or body armor, said Shawn Walsh of the Weapons and Material Research Directorate at Army Research Laboratory.

“What happens is if that when head is exposed to adverse acceleration, this RAT strap will basically transition into a rigid device that will transmit the load to the body, and it has been proven to significantly reduce acceleration,” Walsh told defense reporters at a recent roundtable discussion sponsored by Program Executive Office Soldier.

Over the years, the Defense Department has partnered with the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association to research brain injuries. For example, the Army beginning in 2007 put blast sensors into tens of thousands of helmets to monitor head injuries from roadside bombs in Afghanistan. And the Pentagon and NCAA in 2014 announced a joint study into concussions.

Army scientists are not sure if the device will eliminate Traumatic Brain Injury or concussions, but “we can say with some confidence that there is some benefit to reducing adverse acceleration,” Walsh said.

The device could help to prevent head injuries sometimes experienced by paratroopers, Walsh said.

“It is a known fact that paratroopers do experience head injuries,” he said. “They are trained to land very carefully, but sometimes at night, in the rain or in irregular terrain and something goes just a little off, they can land on their head,” he said. “There is some very real Army applications associated with that as well.”

Army officials also discussed more long-term science and technology initiatives such as a project to design robots that could one day deploy shields to protect soldiers in a firefight.

“Part of our job at the research center is to kind of try to push the Army out of its comfort zone,” Walsh said. “One of the things we are exploring now is robotics.”

An effort known as Robotic Augmented Soldier Protection is designed to shadow soldiers and deploy a protective shield when an attack occurs, Walsh said.

“A lot of people associate robotics with lethality, but what we are looking at is can we use robotics in a purely protective mode?” Walsh said. “Can we use these robotics to deploy protective mechanisms … that can work to protect a human?”

What is lacking right now is the science, Walsh said, adding that the Army is trying to work with the academic community on the effort.

Army officials that develop soldier requirements at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia are also interested in the concept, said Col. Curt “Travis” Thompson, director of the Soldier Division at Training and Doctrine Command’s Capability Manpower – Soldier.

“We are the closest touchpoint to the soldiers who are out in the field … but that doesn’t mean that we are the closest touch point to the realm of the possible or where we should be going,” he said. “We absolutely rely on ARL to kind of inform us to what is possible.”

The service’s leadership has shown interest in the effort, Walsh said.

“The Army is encouraging us; we were actually down at Fort Benning,” Walsh said. “They want to see more prototyping. They want to be introduced to these concepts as soon as possible.”

While still a fledgling effort, ARL does have a working prototype, he said.

“We are not saying that every soldier would have one,” Walsh said. “This is only useful in certain scenarios.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

Camp Fuji gets ‘down and dirty’ hosting the inaugural Samurai Run

Members from the local and U.S. communities got down and dirty in the mud during the inaugural Samurai Run July 21, 2019 at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan.

The Marine Corps Community Services event was held as a chance for locals and service members to strengthen relationships through friendly competition.

The Samurai Run was a four-mile course complimented by a series of obstacles that winded through the muddy trails of CATC.

“For the past three years, we have done mud runs,” said Bud Wood, the athletic director and Single Marine Program coordinator on Camp Fuji. “We took the mud run concept and we converted it into more of Spartan Race with obstacles, including the U.S. Marine Corps obstacle course.”


According to Wood, approximately 400 people participated in the inaugural Samurai Run.

“It was a great event to allow the local national communities to come onto base.”
— Bud Wood, the athletic director and Single Marine Program coordinator on Camp Fuji

“It was designed to bring the Japanese and American cultures together into one community.”

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

(Photo by Sgt. Timothy Turner)

The run had a variety of competitive and non-comptitive categories for men, women, teams, and children.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Sassman, a military policeman assigned to CATC, Camp Fuji, placed third in the mens competitive race.

“The race is approximately four miles including all the terrain and obstacles,” said Sassman, a native of Sioux Center, Iowa. “We have members of the local communities coming out here to see the base and participate in the runs we do here. We did the mud run back in March and a lot of people showed up, got their shirts and were all motivated to come out here and run another race with us.”

According to Wood, the course was very challenging, but it was also meant to be fun and inviting to everyone.

How Russia gained a ‘treasure trove’ of intel on the US Air Force

(Photo by Sgt. Timothy Turner)

“I thought the race was very tough,” said Koji Toriumi, a participant of the Samurai Run and a native of Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. “It felt good running alongside Marines, and my favorite obstacle was the 45-degree ladder on the confidence course.”

In the future, MCCS hopes to hold this event annually.

“I want to thank everyone who came out,” said Wood. “We hope to see even more people next year and we hope this event continues to grow.”

MCCS is a comprehensive set of programs that support and enhance the operational readiness, war fighting capabilities, and life quality of Marines, their families, retirees and civilians.

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

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