Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan - We Are The Mighty
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Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

The first permanent deployment of F-35B Lightning II fighters outside the U.S. took place last week, and the location is probably no surprise.


According to a Marine Corps release, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, or VMFA-121, has now become permanently based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, lands at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. VMFA-121 conducted a permanent change of station to MCAS Iwakuni, from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and now belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The F-35B Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter, which is the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. The F-35B brings strategic agility, operational flexibility and tactical supremacy to III MEF with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. – Japan alliance. (USMC photo)

According to F35.com, VMFA-121 consists of 16 F-35B fighters. In its previous iteration as VMFA(AW)-121, the squadron had 12 F/A-18D Hornet fighters, a number that was reduced to 10 as planes wore out, according to a BreakingDefense.com report from last April.

The deployment comes as tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China have increased over the South China Sea, a potentially volatile maritime flashpoint. China issued a warning after White House press secretary Shawn Spicer said, “So it’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
Two F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, prepare to land at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. VMFA-121 conducted a permanent change of station to MCAS Iwakuni, from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and now belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The F-35B Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter, which is the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. The F-35B brings strategic agility, operational flexibility and tactical supremacy to III MEF with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. – Japan alliance. (USMC photo)

Spicer had echoed comments made by Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, during his Senate confirmation hearings. According to a FoxNews.com report, Tillerson said earlier this month, “You’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.”

In recent months, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out operations in the South China Sea. In December, China used a H-6 Badger to assert its claims as marked by the “nine-dash line.” There have also been close encounters between Chinese J-11 fighters and U.S. Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and EP-3E electronic surveillance planes in recent years, according to a report by the Daily Caller.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how a Marine sniper earns a real ‘HOG’s tooth’

When a newly-minted Marine Corps Scout Sniper graduates from the sniper school where they learn their trade, they will be presented with a 7.62 round, the ammunition commonly used by the Marines’ elite scout sniper corps. But earning the actual HOGs Tooth is a much, more difficult task – because a Marine will be squaring off against another sniper looking for a HOGs Tooth of his (or her) own.


Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

Before graduating sniper school, Marines are called “PIGs” – professionally instructed gunmen.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos)

Before we all drown in Facebook comments, let it be known that the point of this isn’t to make one tradition seem greater or more badass than the other. We’re talking about two different traditions that just have similar superstitious origins. It was once said there was a round out there destined to end the life of any sniper – the bullet with your name on it. The idea behind the HOG’s Tooth is that if anyone could acquire the bullet with their name on it, they would be invincible.

For a sniper to acquire the tooth of a “Hunter Of Gunmen,” a sniper must go through three steps, each more difficult than the last. The first step is to become an actual sniper, not just someone who’s really good at shooting. This means snipers need to go through a sniper school and deploy to an active combat zone. Don’t worry, deploying to a combat zone definitely won’t take long.

The third step is a doozy.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

Candidates for Scout Sniper Platoon dig deep to complete the two-week preparation course.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long)

The third step to getting that HOG’s Tooth trophy actually has a few sub-steps. It starts with forcing a duel against another sniper (preferably an enemy). Once a sniper defeats an enemy sniper in sniper-on-sniper combat, they must then make it over to the enemy position where they will hopefully find the scene undisturbed. This will likely be difficult because they’re supposed to be in hostile territory. If they get there before anyone else, they should capture the enemy’s rifle. But more important to the trophy process is capturing what’s in that rifle: the round in the chamber.

That round is the “bullet with your name on it.”

If a sniper captures this bullet, superstition says, that sniper cannot be killed by gunfire on the battlefield because no one there has the bullet that is destined to kill them. Separate the bullet from the cartridge and use 550-cord or some other tried-and-true stringing method and feel free to use the round as a necklace. The bullet meant for you will always be around the neck of its potential victim rather than inside him somewhere.

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Watch airmen and soldiers rescue people from a burning building

This video shows airmen and soldiers rescue people, three women, and three children, after a building near Songtan, South Korea caught fire and trapped them in a third-story apartment. Luckily, Songtan is near Osan Air Base. Local airmen from the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan and the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, along with soldiers from the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade happened to be in the area and rushed to the scene.


The Korea service of the Armed Forces Network shared the mobile phone video of the rescue, as Army Master Sgt. talks about grabbing a blanket from a nearby store to use to catch children, as their mother tosses them out of the high window.


In all, the troops rescued three women and three young children.

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6 times ‘Murphy’ was an uninvited guest on special operations missions

When special operators (or any armed force, for that matter) goes on an operation, Murphy (of “Murphy’s Law” fame) can be an uninvited and very unwelcome guest — whether with last minute changes in the plan, an inopportune discovery by civilians, or gear breaking down.


America’s highly-trained commandos have an amazing track record of achievement, wracking up huge wins with very few losses over the decades since World War II. But their missions are often so high stakes that when Murphy does pay a visit, the damage has an outsized public impact.

Here are some of the more notable instances where Murphy’s Law sent spec ops missions into a tailspin.

1. Desert One

On April 24, 1980, the newly established Delta Force attempted a daring rescue mission of the 66 Americans being held hostage in Iran.

At the initial landing site codenamed “Desert One,” the mission went south in a big way. Ultimately, eight special operators died in the abortive effort, which contributed to the undoing of the Carter administration. The mission did become the backdrop used for the opening of the Chuck Norris classic, “The Delta Force,” which was also Lee Marvin’s last role.

2. Operation Urgent Fury

After a Marxist coup seized power of the small Caribbean nation of Grenada in 1979, tensions between the country (essentially a Cuban puppet) and the United States increased. After an internal power struggle ended up leaving the island nation’s president dead, President Ronald Reagan ordered American forces to settle the matter.

Unfortunately the SEALs involved with the invasion really had a rough time of it.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

The Navy SEAL Museum notes that a drop that was supposed to be in daylight and calm seas got delayed to night. A bad storm resulted in the loss of four SEALs. The lack of reconnaissance and bad comms (SEALs who rescued the island’s governor, had to use a phone to call HQ for support) created problems, but the operation was successful.

The SEALs at the governor’s mansion were eventually rescued by Force Recon Marines. Other SEALs managed to destroy a radio tower and swim out to sea, where they were picked up. Grenada was a success, and many of the lessons learned were applied in the future.

3. Operation Just Cause

The SEALs again were involved in an op where Murphy paid a visit when the United States decided to remove Manuel Noriega from power after Panamanian troops killed a U.S. Marine.

SEAL Team 4 drew the assignment of taking Punta Paitilla airport and disabling Noriega’s private jet. According to the Navy SEAL Museum’s web page, Noriega’s jet had been moved to a hanger.

As a result of the move, the SEALs ended up into a firefight that left four dead. One of those killed in action. SEAL Don McFaul would receive a posthumous Navy Cross, and have an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS McFaul (DDG 74), named in his honor.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

4. ODA 525 – Desert Storm

In this special op, Murphy took the form of children discovering the hide site of nine Green Berets lead by Chief Warrant Officer Richard Balwanz. Balwanz made the decision to let the kids, go, and his force found itself under attack.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Daily Caller noted that Balwanz brought his entire team back. In this case, the special operators overcame Murphy in an outstanding feat of arms that few Americans have heard about.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

5. Mogadishu

If you’ve seen “Black Hawk Down,” you pretty much know the story of how the firefight in Mogadishu went down. In this case, a 2013 article at RealClearDefense.com noted that two MH-60 Blackhawks from the 106th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the “Nightstalkers”) were shot down. Murphy had a lot of room to maneuver when armor and AC-130 support was denied.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

6. Operation Red Wings

If you read the book, “Lone Survivor” (or saw the movie), you have a very good sense as to what went wrong here. Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s team of SEALs was discovered by civilians, a force of insurgents launched an attack and three SEALs were killed in the harrowing firefight.

It got worse when a Chinook helicopter carrying a quick reaction force was shot down by insurgents, killing 11 SEALs and eight Nightstalkers.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US is ready to hit North Korea with tactical nukes

The U.S. has been quietly amassing firepower in the Pacific during a lull in tensions with North Korea, but recent developments on an under-the-radar nuclear weapon suggest preparation for a potential tactical nuclear strike.


The U.S. recently sent B-2 stealth bombers to Guam, where they joined B-1 and B-52s, the other bombers in the U.S.’s fleet.

While the B-2 and B-52 are known as the air leg of the U.S.’s nuclear triad, as they carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, a smaller nuclear weapon that has undergone some upgrades may lend itself to a strike on North Korea.

Newly modified tactical nukes — a game changer?

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A front view of four nuclear free-fall bombs on a bomb cart. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The B-61, a tactical nuclear gravity bomb that the B-2 can carry 16 of, has been modified in recent years to increase its accuracy and ability to hit underground targets, though that version has not yet been deployed.

Not only will the B-61’s new modification make it ideal for destroying dug-in bunkers, the kind in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might hide during a conflict, but it has an adjustable nuclear yield that could limit harmful radioactive fallout after a nuclear attack.

Though the U.S. has plenty of nuclear weapons that can easily hit North Korea from land, air, or sea, they’re predominantly large ones meant to deter countries like Russia or China.

2017 paper in MIT’s International Security journal suggested that recent advances in guidance systems and nuclear weapons could allow the U.S. to destroy all of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure while causing 100 or so deaths, versus 2 million to 3 million deaths on both sides of the 38th parallel without them.

But Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, suggested the paper was flawed.

 

Hanham told Business Insider that the paper’s supposition that only five sites would constitute the bulk or entirety of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure stood without merit.

North Korea has gone to great lengths to deter nuclear or conventional strikes by spreading its nuclear infrastructure across the country. The sites are shrouded in secrecy, and the U.S. intelligence community, despite its best, concerted efforts, has been wrong about their locations before, a former State Department official told Business Insider.

Trump seems to like the idea of tactical nuke strikes and striking North Korea

Despite evidence that tactical nuclear weapons won’t solve the North Korean military quagmire, President Donald Trump’s administration has looked favorably on smaller nuclear weapons.

Trump’s recent nuclear posture review recommended building more small nuclear weapons, as their size would make them easier to use in a conflict — something the International Security paper supports.

Also Read: Turkey fought a proxy battle with the US in Syria this weekend

The B-61 bombs live in military bases spread across Europe and are much less visible than big bombers, whose movements are often publicized. For example, The Aviationist reported in October that a civilian with a handheld radio scanner intercepted B-2 and B-52 pilots over Kansas training to pull off a strike on North Korean VIP targets.

Recent reports have suggested Trump is considering a “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, or a move designed to embarrass Kim by responding to a missile launch or nuclear test with the limited use of force.

But experts and politicians have characterized the idea of a nuclear strike as destabilizing and frankly crazy. Rep. John Garamendi, a California Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, questioned the wisdom of it in an interview with Business Insider.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
B61 nuclear bomb casing, MAPS Air Museum, North Canton, Ohio. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

“Certainly, North Korea understands that the U.S. is pretty tough,” Garamendi said. “The U.S. is prepared and willing to respond to aggression by North Korea.”

He added: “But we must assume that if we were to do a bloody-nose attack, that North Korea would respond in some way. Then what?”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why all these costly US missile defenses don’t work

The U.S. public learned on Jan. 31 that the U.S. Navy tried and failed for the second time in a year to intercept a missile with an SM-III missile from the defense contractor Raytheon.


On the same day, the Pentagon announced it would spend another $6.5 billion on 20 more missile interceptors for the ground-based, mid-course defense system (GMD), which is meant to protect the U.S. homeland from missile attacks from North Korea or Russia.

But the GMD has a bad track record. It recently had a successful test that may have calmed the fears of some in the U.S. amid nuclear tensions with North Korea, but a recent paper on the test shows it was unrealistically generous.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A ground-based missile interceptor is lowered into its missile silo during a recent emplacement at the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, Alaska. (Army photo by Sgt. Jack W. Carlson III)

Laura Grego and David Wright, leading experts in the field of ballistic missiles, writing for the Union of Concerned Scientists, found that the so-called intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the GMD knocked down was flown on a favorable trajectory, slower than the real thing, and without any of the tricks or savvy North Korea might use in an actual attack. The paper concludes the U.S. has no reliable ballistic missile defense capability for the homeland.

That capability, or lack thereof, comes after the U.S. has spent more than $40 billion over the last decade and a half on ballistic missile defense.

During that time, Boeing, Raytehon, and Lockheed Martin, key players in the BMD scene, have all posted record profits — and they continue to get contracts with the Pentagon.

Also Read: The Pentagon is pumping millions more into missile defense

To be clear, the U.S. can defend against some, shorter-range missiles. Aegis-equipped ballistic missile destroyers at sea have a good track record of defending themselves, but they’re not meant to go after ICBMs. Patriot missiles have saved some lives from short-range missile attacks on the battlefield, though that has been historically over-hyped or just lied about.

BMD kind of works on a theoretical level, but is that worth $40B?

Missile defense plays into the complicated and highly theoretical world of nuclear deterrence. For an adversary like North Korea, maybe even the single-digit percent chance a missile would be intercepted by the U.S. would dissuade them from attacking.

But much more likely, North Korea wouldn’t attack the U.S. because of the U.S.’s ability to return the favor tenfold.

It’s entirely unclear, and no expert can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that BMD has ever deterred anyone, or done anything beside line pockets of defense contractors.

For the U.S. taxpayer, who has contributed billions to the cause of missile defenses while enriching the world’s biggest defense contractors, a fair question might be: Where is the capability? Why don’t these systems work?

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5.11 Rolltop Pack Gucci-ed up in MultiCam Black

5.11 Tactical has been building gear for military personnel, law enforcement officers, and PMC/PSC contractors for years now (and of course for adventurer- and gun-carryin’ type civvies as well). We’ve received word they just released a new, limited edition version of its rolltop boxpack — in Multicam. But what sets it apart is that this time it’s in Multicam Black. MultiCam Black is pretty damned sexy if you ask us.


Go ahead, ask us.

The color will surely excite some (MC Black has become a defacto Gucciflage over the last year or so) and the pack itself will give others that tingly sensation — but there will be a few who piss and moan about it. Special operations forces, military security and three-letter agency types have been drooling over this pattern for their operational kit for a few years now.

5.11 Tactical takes a beating sometimes (as a company, we mean) for having its gear built overseas, and we understand that. We’re as pro “Made in the USA” as you can possibly get, but we’re also realists who try to be pragmatic about gear.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
(Photo from 5.11 Tactical)

Lots of of reputable companies have their kit built in foreign lands where sweat smells funny and the food makes your guts rumble the first few times you eat it — and much of the equipment they make is worth using. When it comes to packs, bags, and plate carriers, 5.11 makes good stuff.

Besides, the ladies of Siam and Cathay are hawt.

Reminder: At the risk of sounding orgulous, this is just a gear porn notification — a public service if you will — letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. It’s no more a review, endorsement, or denunciation than it is an episiotomy.

Grunts: Orgulous.

The 5.11 “Covert Boxpack” is water- and weather-resistant (note, not -proof) and it’s built of 1680 ballistic polyester (the sames stuff they build tool belts with). It’s a rolltop model, with a dorsal pocket to access things you need in a hurry (primary or secondary handgun depending on your needs, spare mags, rin-no-tama, etc.) and a ventral pocket that’ll hold a ballistic panel.

What, you don’t roll every day with an extra mag or six and a trusty set of rin-no-tama?

Side pockets with elastic retention loops zipper down the sides and a bottom pouch can be used to sequester an IFAK, electronic gear, or whatever else you need to have compartmentalized.

The laptop pouch inside can be accessed through the rolltop or in through the zippered back. It features padded, reinforced shoulder straps and a slide-adjusting sternum strap, and their signature lined eye-pro pocket up top.

The description of the new pack reads largely the same as the regular version. We’ve copied that below from the actual product page. You can watch the manufacturer’s video detailing the original versions features below.

Take a few minutes to check it out. Some of our wretched minions have carried these things. They’re good to go.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

PURPOSE BUILT:

The Limited Edition Multicam Black Covert Boxpack is engineered for speed, agility, and dependability in any environment. A slide-adjusting sternum strap and reinforced padded shoulder straps ensure a stable and comfortable carry when you’re on the move, and the roomy TacTec™ main compartment is designed to remain covert but allow fast access to your sidearm or backup. A water resistant finish keeps your gear dry in wet climates, dual side zip pockets are ideal for accessories or a hydration bottle, and internal elastic retention straps allow secure storage for additional magazines.

OVERVIEW:

All-weather roll top backpack

Multicam Black™ exterior

Multiple externally-accessible pockets

Dual size zip pockets with internal elastic retention

Slide adjusting sternum strap

Reinforced padded shoulder straps

Bottom pocket for general storage

SPECIFICATIONS:

1680D ballistic polyester

Water resistant finish

Authentic YKK® zippers

Durable Duraflex® hardware

Imported

We picked this video because it’s labeled in Russian, which reminds us of Timka, but don’t worry, it’s narrated in English.

The link to find the MC Black version of this is: http://www.511tactical.com/multicam-black-8482-covert-boxpack.html.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps 3D printing is like ‘spare tire’ for tanks

Marine Corps Systems Command recently collaborated with fleet Marines and other organizations to review the successful performance of several 3D-printed impellers used on M1A1 Abrams tanks at Twentynine Palms, California.

The Corps plans to use 3D-printed impellers when the original part wears or becomes inoperable and a new part cannot be received in a timely fashion.

“Call it a spare tire or a stop-gap solution,” said Joseph Burns, technical lead for MCSC’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell. “This can get you through a mission, through your training exercise or whatever may be critical at the time.”


An impeller expels dust from the tank engine to keep the filters clean. When an impeller experiences wear and tear, the part may not pull enough air to function properly, which could degrade mission effectiveness.

A few years ago, the Marine Corps and the Army ordered a large batch of impellers. As a result, the Defense Logistics Agency — the agency responsible for providing parts for military vehicles — did not have enough parts to satisfy all orders.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Charles Matte, a machinist with 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, mills an impeller fan on a computer numerically controlled lathe machine aboard Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 17, 2017.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Sorci)

“At certain times, logistical issues can occur,” said Tony Delgado, research and development program manager for additive manufacturing at DLA. “Sometimes the part is not available right away or something happens with a vendor and a part cannot be provided immediately. This was one of those times where the part wasn’t available.”

DLA can award a contract to a company, let that manufacturer set up a production line and then order a large sum of parts. However, it can take from six to 10 months for the Marines to receive a part. Waiting months for an order can reduce readiness or effectiveness on the battlefield.

Consequentially, MCSC had to find an alternative solution.

“Around that time, the Marine Corps had been provided with 3D printing additive manufacturing tools,” said Burns. “And Marines were being encouraged to be innovative and develop prototype solutions to real-world problems. A young Marine identified the impeller and began exploring ways to 3D print this part.”

Building on this early success, MCSC collaborated with Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Laboratory and DLA to formally qualify the performance of the 3D printed impeller and document the design in a technical data package.

The exercise conducted at Twentynine Palms in December and January was the culmination of formal qualification testing and was intended to confirm the performance of a 3D-printed version of an impeller in an operationally relevant environment.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

Marines drive M1A1 Abrams tanks in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 19, 2015.

(U.S. Department of Defense photo)


After about 100 hours of testing on Abrams tanks during these exercises, Marines at Twentynine Palms disassembled the impellers to look for any unusual wear, leakage or other problems. None existed.

“Right now, we don’t see any reason why the 3D-printed impeller is any less reliable than the OEM version,” said Burns. “We plan to continue to collect operational hours on three 3D-printed impellers to better assess the long-term reliability of the part.”

MCSC is in the process of creating a 100-page technical data package for the 3D-printed impeller. The AMOC has reviewed two drafts of the TDP and plans to finalize the first version by the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.

Once the TDP is finalized, the 3D-printed impeller will be fully qualified, tested and certified by the Marine Corps for use in the Abrams tank.

Although a more expensive alternative, a 3D-printed impeller can be produced and ready for use in less than a week, said Burns. Once the TDP is certified, a manufacturer, depot or Marine unit with the right equipment can 3D print an impeller for use. The expedited delivery can improve readiness on the battlefield.

“The 3D-printed impeller also gives the tank commander another option,” said Delgado. “It’s important to have an alternative option.”

The organizations and agencies that helped develop the 3D-impeller and its TDP include DLA, Johns Hopkins University-Applied Physics Laboratory, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Tank Battalion, and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Delgado emphasized the importance of all parties involved in the creation of the 3D-printed impeller.

“We’ve involved engineers from Marine Corps Systems Command and the Army, and we’ve even had lawyers in some meetings to ensure there’s no intellectual property infringement,” explained Delgado. “In terms of collaboration, this has been a great project.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Even the Warthog is giving pilots hypoxia

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II has been a legend in providing close-air support. However, even legends have bad moments, and the A-10 has now succumbed to one of the problems plaguing other United States military aircraft: It’s giving pilots hypoxia.


Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
Joint terminal attack controllers wave at an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft during a show of force on the Nevada Test and Training Range July 19, 2017. The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low airspeeds and altitudes and is a highly accurate weapons delivery platform. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

According to a report by Aviation Week and Space Technology, the hypoxia incidents, which the Department of Defense labeled as “physiological episodes,” took place last year. There were two cases among A-10s assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where the 355th Fighter Wing is based.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
Two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs fly in a wingtip formation after refueling from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

In both cases, backup oxygen systems kicked in and allowed the pilots to return safely to base. One plane was equipped with an onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS), which replaced an older liquid oxygen (LOX) system. The other plane still had the older system installed.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A-10 Thunderbolt IIs break over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex and one aircraft drops a flare during live-fire training April 24. The A-10s are from the 355th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Members from the 355th FS are tasked to provide mission-ready A-10s, as well as search and rescue capability in Alaska and deployed sites worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Robert Wieland)

An investigation determined that the Warthog with the LOX system had issues with the oxygen regulator and cabin pressure systems. The problems were repaired. However, 28 OBOGS-equipped A-10s were grounded while investigators tried to determine the cause of the incident.

While no root cause was found, some corrosion was located among system’s pipes. New procedures, including making sure that the water separator is drained, allowed the OBOGS-equipped A-10s to return to operational duties after a week. During that week, A-10s with the LOX system held the line. Since the implementation of the new procedures, no hypoxia incidents have occurred among the A-10s at Davis-Monthan.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A USAF F-35A departs from Luke AFB in Arizona (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

Other planes where pilots have reported hypoxia issues in recent years include the F-22 Raptor, the F/A-18, the T-45 Goshawk, the T-6 Texan, and the F-35 Lightning. Last year, Cobham developed a system to help warn pilots when a hypoxia incident is taking place.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA mental health therapy in your living room

Veterans receiving care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas, can now connect to mental health services remotely using a computer, smartphone or tablet. The system, called telemental health, has helped nearly a thousand Houston area veterans get the care they need.

telemental health uses the VA Video Connect app, which provides a secure connection between veteran and provider no matter where the veteran is located. Seventy-five Houston VAMC mental health providers are equipped to provide remote services.

“The technology is ideal for veterans who live far away, have medical problems or find it difficult to leave the house,” said Houston VAMC psychologist Dr. Jan Lindsay.


“Often, coming to the clinic is a big burden for our veterans. Barriers include child care, traffic, parking, taking off work or feeling anxiety when leaving their homes for treatment.”

telemental health eliminates those barriers. “When we provide psychotherapy via telehealth, some veterans report that being at home makes it easier to focus on the work being done and acquire the skills they need to engage their lives more fully,” said Lindsay. “They feel safer at home.”

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

Houston VAMC social worker Veronica Siffert places a consult for a veteran to receive telemental health services.

“It is actually easier than coming into the facility,” said Air Force Veteran Christopher Banks. “I can be in my own home, which helps me with sharing.”

Banks, who has trouble walking, often had to cancel his in-person mental health appointments. When he did make it to the provider’s office, he had to fight traffic to get there. “I’d get so stressed from the drive that I would spend 90 percent of my therapy talking about why I’m so angry,” he said.

telemental health is “a major benefit for those with mobility issues,” agreed Dr. Kaki York, deputy clinical executive with the Houston VAMC Mental Health Care Line.

“We have vets with ALS or Parkinson’s or who have had a stroke, who for whatever reason cannot get here to continue treatment. Also, family therapy services. Have you ever tried to coordinate an entire family? It’s very difficult. Video allows them to get in the same place at the same time instead of getting all of them to the VA.”

Veterans who travel for work also benefit from using telemental health. “Houston has a lot of oil field workers who live here for part of the time but somewhere else the other time,” said York. “They’re here for three months, then travel for six months. If they have an internet connection, we are here for them.”

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

(Photo by Christin Hume)

For Banks, another plus is that reading material his therapist recommends is right at his fingertips. “When I was with the providers, they would recommend different links or health guides and I had to wait to get home to pull it up,” he said. “With telehealth, it’s right there. Memory is not the most reliable, especially with some of us vets. At home, I can open a search bar and go straight to it.”

There are advantages for clinicians as well. For example, during an office visit, if a therapist asks a veteran what medications she is taking, the veteran might not remember them all. Using remote video, the veteran can just show the therapist her medication containers.

“It’s up to each veteran how much he or she uses remote services,” said Lindsay. “If you like coming into the clinic to see your provider, you can continue to do so and only use video telehealth when convenient,” she said. For veterans who lack the means to connect remotely, equipment is available to use for the duration of treatment.

“Our goal would be that any mental health clinician at the main facility will be able to provide telehealth services when the patient wants it and provider thinks it would be helpful,” said York. “We are not quite 100 percent there yet, but we are getting close.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why US troops wear ceramic plates instead of just kevlar

Body armor for your average infantry troop has come a long way. Today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are issued amazing technology designed to stop the most common threat they will likely face in combat: the rifle round. But the tech that will stop a lethal bullet isn’t just one miracle material that they can wear all over their bodies. There is a combination of forces at work, working to stop another combination of forces.


Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

Soldiers don the Interceptor Armor before going on patrol in Iraq.

(U.S. Army)

Kevlar itself is a plastic material five times stronger than steel. Everything about the material, from how it’s woven, right down to its molecular structure just screams strength. Its tensile strength is eight times that of steel. It doesn’t melt, it doesn’t get brittle with cold, and is unaffected by moisture. Kevlar is an awesome antiballistic material because it takes incredible amounts of kinetic energy to pass through it. Its molecular structure is like that of rebar through solid concrete, and forces a bullet to fight its way through at every level.

When layered, the material can sort of “soak up” a lot of the kinetic energy from a projectile. For most low-velocity handguns and even some of the more powerful handguns, a few layers of Kevlar is enough protection. But for high-velocity rifles, it needs some help. That’s where ceramic plates come in.

The standard AK-47 fires with a muzzle velocity of 716 meters per second. For Kevlar alone to protect a soldier from that kind of kinetic energy, the Kevlar would have to have more layers than a troop could carry while retaining the mobility necessary to perform his or her job functions. Kevlar is lightweight, but it’s not weightless, after all. The standard-issue Interceptor body armor was not tested to stop rounds at that velocity, which is classified as Level III protection. The Interceptor Armor does have pockets on the outside of the vests, so ceramic plates can be inserted to upgrade the armor to Level-IIIA.

Just like the Kevlar, the ceramic plates redistribute the kinetic energy of an incoming rifle round, slowing it down enough that it would not be able to penetrate the Kevlar, if it passed through the ceramic at all. It also prevents blunt force trauma from other rounds that may not penetrate the Kevlar, but still cause indentations in the material. The impact from bullets that don’t penetrate the Kevlar can still cause internal injuries. Ceramic inserts are rated to stop whatever projectiles are listed on the plate, and can take up to three hits before failing.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan

The ESAPI plate saved Sgt. Joseph Morrissey when he was hit in the chest with a 7.62mm round from about 30 meters while deployed to Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army)

While ceramic may seem like an odd choice for stopping bullets, this isn’t the ceramic material used to make vases or coffee mugs. A lot of materials are actually ceramic, including titanium diboride, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide, one of the world’s top ten strongest materials – the material used in the U.S. military’s Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts, or ESAPI plates. These enhanced plates, combined with the Kevlar are capable of stopping a Springfield 30.06 round with a tungsten penetrator.

That’s why the U.S. military uses ceramic plates and Kevlar body armor. It not only protects troops but allows them enough mobility to do their jobs in a hostile environment. And body armor tech is only getting better. Materials like spider silk and nanotubes are being tested that are even lighter and don’t take on as much heat as Kevlar. Maybe one day, we all won’t be drenched in our own sweat when we take off our armor.

Articles

Time-tested U-2 cameras are getting new life on drones

A major defense corporation has announced that their RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has successfully flown test missions carrying the Optical Bar Camera broad-area synoptic sensor, an imaging device originally deployed on the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane.


Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
An RQ-4 heads back to its hangar. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

Northrup Grumman has been testing the RQ-4 with new sensors in an attempt increase the types of missions for which the aircraft can be deployed. The SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor, another item commonly deployed on U-2 missions. The SYERS-2 collects multiple sources of energy and can detect teams burying explosives or dismounts on the move, even from high altitude.

Adding U-2 equipment to the Global Hawk makes a lot of sense because the two aircraft are both focused on high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance. The drone can fly for 30 or more hours on a mission with ground-based pilots and sensor operators switching control in shifts.

With the new cameras, the RQ-4 could become an even more valuable eye in the sky for the Air Force. And it might allow the Global Hawk to take over some of the U-2’s missions at a fraction of the cost.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
A U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane comes in for a landing. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt Aaron Oelrich)

“The successful flight of the Optical Bar Camera is another significant step in the evolution of Global Hawk,” said Global Hawk’s Northrup Grumman Program Manager, Mick Jaggers. “It’s the result of our focus on increasing capability, reducing sustainment costs and fielding the open mission systems architecture that enables faster integration of cutting edge sensors at lower costs.”

Northrup Grumman is also looking at testing the MS-177 multi-spectral sensor on the RQ-4. The MS-177 has similar imaging capabilities to the SYERS-2B and is often deployed on the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the JSTARS.

The MS-177 does provide a significant advantage over the SYERS-2B. While the SYERS is a “wet-film” camera that requires film processing before the image can be analyzed, the MS-177 uses an electro-optical sensor, which allows digital files to be sent to the ground station while the drone is still in flight.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A Boeing 757 was hacked and the Department of Homeland Security is concerned

The increasing use of electronics and internet connectivity in transportation vehicles is a double-edged sword. While new technology gives drivers and pilots more information and makes communication easier, it also leaves vehicles more vulnerable to cyber attacks.


The Department of Homeland Security illustrated that fact when it remotely hacked into a Boeing 757 through its radio communication system at an airport in Atlantic City, NJ, according to CSO. While the hack occurred in September 2016, it wasn’t revealed until DHS official Robert Hickey gave his keynote address at an aerospace security summit on Nov. 8.

Marine F-35 Lightning fighters arrive in Japan
American Boeing 757 flight deck.

Though the exact details of how he and his team managed to hack into the plane are classified, Hickey indicated that no one on his team was in physical contact with the aircraft or used any materials that would be flagged by security. Boeing insists that the hack was limited to the aircraft’s communication system and did not reach any of the controls or software that could alter its flight path.

“We witnessed the test and can say unequivocally that there was no hack of the airplane’s flight control systems,” the company told the Daily Beast.

Also Read: The vulnerability of US Navy ships to computer hacking is scarier than you’d think

Still, this is alarming news for the aviation industry. The Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration have been aggressive in trying to prevent passengers from boarding aircraft with items that could put other passengers at risk, but if it becomes possible to control a plane’s communication and flight capabilities from the ground, their existing security infrastructure may need a significant update.

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