11 photos of the awesome Super Cobra after 50 years - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

11 photos of the awesome Super Cobra after 50 years

The venerable Sea Cobra first flew in 1969. Now, 50 years later, it’s descendant the Super Cobra is still a mainstay of Marine offense and defense, using missiles to destroy enemy strong points and firing its cannon to break up maneuver forces trying to hit American lines. Here are 11 photos from the Super Cobras of today and history.


(U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jason Grogan)

AH-1W Super Cobra sends 2.75-inch rockets into an enemy mortar position during a close air support mission at Wadi-us-Salaam cemetery, near Najaf, Iraq, in Aug. 2004.

The Sea and Super Cobra variants of the AH-1 have decades of service. But their predecessor, the AH-1 Cobra, dates back even further to Vietnam. It was originally pitched to the Army as the UH-1G, basically a “tweaked” utility helicopter.

While anyone with eyes could easily see the design was something new, Bell had just lost an attack helicopter competition to Lockheed, and a brand new attack helicopter would’ve required another competition, delaying the weapon’s debut and potentially setting up the craft for a loss to another manufacturer. So Bell played fast and loose with the rules and the Army played along.

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Reece Lodder)

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and UH-1Y Huey helicopter fly off the coast of the island of Oahu, toward Marine Corps Base Hawaii during maintenance and readiness flights, June 13, 2013.

But the Army eventually admitted the UH-1G Huey Cobra was an all-new craft, and it was re-designated the AH-1. According to an Air Space history, “Cobras would launch with twice as much ammunition as Huey gunships, would get to the target in half the time, and could linger there three times longer.” Troops loved it.

The Marines in Vietnam loved the helicopter as much as soldiers did, but when the Corps went shopping, they wanted a bird with two engines so that an engine failure between ship and shore wouldn’t doom the crew.

And so the AH-1J Sea Cobra was born, first flying in 1969 and making its combat debut in 1975, barely making it into the Vietnam War. Over the following years, the Marines upgraded the guns, missiles, and rockets and proceeded to the AH-1W Super Cobra designation in 1986.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne)

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Patrick Henry braces Airmen Andrew Jerauld as he signals to an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.

But the era of the Super Cobra is coming to an end. With the debut of the AH-1Z, the Marine Corps moved to the “Viper” designation, and the Vipers have already proven themselves in combat. So the last Super Cobras in the American inventory, the AH-1Ws, are slated to be pulled from active units in 2020 and sold or gifted to overseas allies.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

A Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter supports a beach assault during Rim of the Pacific 2016, a maritime exercise in Hawaii, July 30, 2016.

The Super Cobras are all-weather and have carried a slew of weapons like the XM197 20mm Gatling cannon, Hydra 70 rockets, 5-inch Zuni rockets, TOW missiles, Hellfire missiles, Sidewinder missiles, and AGM-122 SideArm anti-radiation missile.

Typically, it carries the 20mm cannon as well as pods for 2.75-inch Hydra rockets and Hellfire missiles, but it can still carry and employ those other missiles and rockets easily when necessary, giving commanders a flexible, fast platform that can kill everything from enemy radar sites to helicopters to ground troops and vehicles.

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriela Garcia)

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Philip A. Gilbert supervises the preflight ground maintenance of an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, June 24, 2013.

Updates to the AH-1W granted it the ability to see in night vision and infrared, helping pilots to more quickly acquire and destroy targets at night or in bad weather. During Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, 48 AH-1Ws destroyed 97 tanks, 104 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, 16 bunkers, and two anti-aircraft artillery sites with zero losses.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson)

A UH-1Y Venom and an AH-1W Super Cobra shoot 2.75 inch rockets through the night sky and meet their targets during close air support training operations at a range near Fort Drum, N.Y., March 16, 2017.

Typically, the AH-1Ws, and now the AH-1Z Vipers, are deployed alongside UH-1s in Marine light attack helicopter squadrons. These units specialize in close air support, reconnaissance, and even air interdiction. The Super Cobras’ Sidewinder missiles are crucial for that last mission, allowing the Marine pilots to take out enemy jets and helicopters.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso)

A U.S. Marine Corps Bell UH-1Y Huey helicopter and a Bell AH-1W Super Cobra take off on one of the first flights for the new Huey from Bastion Airfield, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2009.

While the Super Cobras are faster and have more weapons, the Hueys can carry multiple gunners which can spray fire in all directions. And the UH-1Y Hueys can also carry and deploy up to 10 Marines each, allowing the helicopters to drop an entire squad on the ground and then protect it as it goes to work.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Jones)

An AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopter takes part in a live fire exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 15, 2013.

The aircraft can fly up to 18,700 feet above sea level, allowing it to clear many mountain ranges while serving on the frontlines. But commanders have to be careful sending the helicopter into the thin air that high as its crews aren’t typically equipped with the robust oxygen equipment of bombers or jet fighters. So the Super Cobras try to stay at 10,000 feet or below.

Check out more photos of the Super Cobra:

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ashley McLaughlin)

(U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Russell Midori)

(U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Dean B. Verschoor)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Captain Marvel explains where she’s been in first ‘Avengers: Endgame’ clip

On April 8, 2019, Marvel previewed the first clip from “Avengers: Endgame” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The video begins with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), realizing that Thanos has used the stones again.

Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), jumps in to insist they team up and “get him” and use the stones “to bring everyone back.” She says it’ll be different this time because now, she’s involved.

James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), gets annoyed and asks Captain Marvel to explain where she’s been all this time.

“There are a lot of other planets in the universe,” she responds. “And unfortunately, they didn’t have you guys.”

Bruce Banner, aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), seems very apprehensive about the plan, but what else is new?

Watch the scene below. The clip begins at 2:51.


MIGHTY HISTORY

That time two Navy legends fought a duel with Marines

In 1818, two of the Navy’s most famous names, Oliver Hazard Perry and Stephen Decatur, were involved, one as a participant and the other as his second, in a duel that was the culmination of a two-year-long dispute about Navy discipline and the limits of a commander’s powers.


It was an era when dueling was all too common.

“In the United States, dueling’s heyday began at around the time of the Revolution and lasted the better part of a century,” wrote author and researcher Ross Drake for Washington’s Smithsonian Institute. “This was especially true in the Navy, where boredom, drink, and a mix of spirited young men in close quarters on shipboard produced a host of petty irritations ending in gunfire.”

In the late summer of 1816, the USS Javawhich Perry commanded, was stopped at Messina, Sicily, when Perry became displeased with what he considered the unsatisfactory appearance and attitude of the ship’s Marines. Capt. John Heath, the Marine commander, added to the problem by responding — at least in Perry’s opinion — with what Perry later called, “marked insolence.”

The incident escalated to the point that the two men had words. Perry allegedly shouted that Heath was a “damned rascal and scoundrel” and had “not acted as a gentleman.” Perry then summoned 2nd Lt. Parke G. Howle, the Marine detachment’s second in command, and relieved Heath. In a rash and thoughtless act, Perry, who was known for is short and violent temper, then slapped Heath.

Oliver Hazard Perry standing at the front of a small boat after abandoning his flagship, the Lawrence at the Battle of Lake Erie. (Library of Congress)

Lieutenant Howle stepped between the men and no further blows were exchanged — but the damage had been done.

According to a Midshipman Mackenzie, who was aboard the Java at the time, the “following day was a gloomy one on board the Java. The officers and crew had the most profound respect for their commander, [Perry], and were strongly attached to his person; the victim of uncontrolled passion, he became an object of their pity; he was himself overcome with shame and mortification.” Perry meanwhile, realizing he had acted in anger, had a fellow officer write to Heath saying that Perry regretted what had happened and was in “readiness to make an honorable and personal apology.” 

It was, however, not enough for Heath or the other Marine officer on the Java, who thought Perry’s actions had insulted the entire Corps.

Related: This fight proves Stephen Decatur is the most intense sailor ever

On Dec. 31, 1816, a court-martial was convened to hear the charges that had been placed against Heath, namely disrespectful and insolent conduct towards a superior officer, neglect of duty, and disobeying orders, which involved what Perry considered an unacceptable delay in going after deserting Marines. Heath was found guilty of all but the last charge and was sentenced to receive a verbal reprimand from the Commodore of the squadron. Perry was also found by the court to have himself used “disrespectful language” toward a fellow officer and to have slapped him.

The incident became a major controversy in the Navy, gave birth to front page newspaper stories, and even ignited calls — that were ignored — for a Congressional investigation.

In the summer of 1817, Heath, who had then been dismissed from the service, published a pamphlet about the incident in which he referred to Perry, among other things, as “the slave of the most violent and vindictive passions” who could “descend to acts of revenge and cruelty.”  Perry was also, Heath wrote, filled with “the most consummate arrogance” and “a spirit of the rankest malevolence.”

A duel between the men became inevitable.

Pistol duels, like the one depicted above, were all too common at the time.

As preparations for the meeting began, Perry, who had always opposed dueling, wrote to Decatur saying that he would meet Heath and stand in the duel, but he would not fire. He also asked Decatur to serve as his second, and Decatur traveled to New York to oblige. The two men finally met near Hoboken, New Jersey in October 1818, more than two years after the original incident. Heath and Perry stood back to back, marched five paces each, and wheeled. Heath fired missing Perry who, true to his word, handed his unfired pistol to Decatur.

Decatur then approached Heath, told him that Perry had all along intended not to fire and asked if Heath’s honor was not satisfied. Heath said it was.

It was over.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time terrorists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca

1979 was a tumultuous year in the Islamic world. The year opened with the overthrow of the Shah and a revolution in Iran. The year ended with chaos in Islam’s holy city of Mecca when radical terrorists took over the Grand Mosque.


The terrorist group, led by Juhayman al-Otaybi, believed that the Mahdi (Arabic for “the redeemer”) arrived on earth in the form of al-Otaybi’s brother-in-law, Muhammad Abdullah al-Qahtani.

On the morning of Nov. 20, 1979 al-Otaybi led some 500 armed insurgents into the mosque just as the Imam was preparing to lead 50,000 followers in their morning prayers. The terrorists killed two unarmed policemen before barricading the gates and taking up defensive positions around the mosque and in the minarets.

That’s… unexpected.

Within hours, a large force of police from Mecca assembled and attempted to retake the mosque. However, they were outgunned and exposed and were forced to fall back after taking heavy casualties.

Soon, Saudi Army and Saudi National Guard troops joined the surviving police and cordoned off the mosque. The remainder of the city was evacuated by that night. However, further response was delayed due to several issues: Two important Saudi princes were out of the country and unable to give direction. Additionally, violence inside the Grand Mosque is strictly prohibited by Islamic Law. Any kind of violent action required the issuance of a fatwa from the ulema – Islamic intellectuals – to allow for troops to retake the mosque.

In the meantime, Saudi, Pakistani, and French Special Forces arrived in the area to prepare for retaking the mosque.

According to Lawrence Wright, since non-Muslims are barred from entering the holy city of Mecca, the three French commandos converted to Islam in a brief ceremony before continuing with their mission.

With the approval of the ulema to commit violence against those holding the mosque, Saudi forces attempted another assault against the insurgents. Again, the Saudi’s were thrown back with heavy losses. The insurgent snipers in their perches easily picked off approaching troops.

After their second defeat, the Saudis turned to the French to devise a plan that would allow them to retake the mosque.

The French solution was to use gas – pumped into the underground tunnels beneath the mosque – to incapacitate the insurgents so assault forces could then make their way in and kill the terrorists. Unfortunately, the twisting, expansive nature of the tunnels failed to keep the gas concentrated enough to work.

Smoke rising from the Grand Mosque during the assault on the Marwa-Safa gallery, 1979.

Eventually, Saudi forces drilled holes in the walls and used tear gas and grenades to drive the insurgents away from their strongpoints. In conjunction with Pakistani Special Forces, the assault was renewed.

Those caught in the open were quickly killed. However, many insurgents retreated into the catacombs below the mosque and put up a staunch defense. The Saudi and Pakistani forces fought a bloody battle, oftentimes indiscriminately killing insurgents and hostages alike, in order to retake the mosque.

Saudi soldiers fighting their way into the Qaboo Underground beneath the Grand Mosque of Mecca, 1979

The siege and battle had lasted more than two weeks and resulted in 255 killed inside the mosque on top of some 127 military personnel killed. Total casualties, including wounded, exceeded 1,000.

68 insurgents, including their leader al-Otaybi, were captured following the battle. Al-Qahtani, the supposed Mahdi, was killed during the recapturing of the mosque.

The insurgents were shown no leniency and were found guilty of seven crimes: violating the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, violating the sanctity of the month of Muharram, killing fellow Muslims and others, disobeying legitimate authorities, suspending prayer at the Grand Mosque, erring in identifying the Mahdi, and exploiting the innocent for criminal acts.

They were divided up into four groups and sent to four cities around Saudi Arabia. The convicted were then publicly executed by beheading.

Surviving insurgents in custody of Saudi authorities.

The seizure of the Grand Mosque also had the effect of drastically changing policies in Saudi Arabia. Even though the attack was carried out by religious fundamentalists, the king turned to more religion in society to placate any more fundamentalism. These fundamentalist reforms hold sway in Saudi Arabia to this day.

Articles

This is why Poland wants those Patriot anti-air missiles

Designed to blast aircraft, missiles and even drones out of the skies with deadly precision, the American-made MIM-104 Patriot missile system has been sought after by a number of countries over the last 30 years to defend their sovereign territories from threats in the air.


After expressing interest in the Patriot system for years, and failing to develop a suitably-priced medium/long range air defense missile of its own, Poland will finally get its hands on a group of eight Patriot batteries pending the signing of a deal worth billions of dollars with the United States.

Poland, a former satellite republic under the Soviet Union’s scope of influence, was previously armed almost entirely with Soviet-built hardware, including 1960s-era SA-5 Gammon surface-to-air missiles. However, in the years since the fall of the USSR, most of what was once the best Eastern Bloc military technology on the market has become almost entirely obsolete.

With the Eastern European nation formally joining NATO in the 1990s, and with a plethora of aged and below-standard military equipment in the country’s possession, Poland has begun the process of pushing its armed forces through a gradual yet massive overhaul that will see it retain a degree of relevancy against potential aggressors, especially Russia.

A Patriot missile test launch using the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile (Photo US Army)

At the top of the country’s wishlist is a new advanced missile defense system with the ability to deal with aerial threats in a quick and effective manner. With Russian military activity ramping up near its borders, the recent forceful annexation of the Crimea, and a general distrust for all things Russian anyways, Poland has not so subtly let the U.S. know it wants the air defense umbrella the Patriot can provide.

In 2015, Polish defense officials announced their intent to work with Raytheon, the creator and manufacturer of the Patriot, to buy eight missile batteries with a percentage of the system’s components built in Poland. But the deal, projected at $7 billion at the time, didn’t really materialize until earlier this week during a state visit by President Donald Trump.

That’s when Polish officials confirmed their country’s armed forces would begin receiving the Patriots it wanted for a little under $8 billion.

Currently, 14 countries including the United States operate the Patriot system, with a number of them having actually deployed the missile in combat situations against hostile aircraft, missiles and drones. Poland will be the 15th such country pending the signing of this multi-billion dollar deal.

Marines examine a Patriot battery aboard MCAS Futenma, Japan (Photo US Marine Corps)

The Patriot, originally designed in the early 1980s, received its combat baptism during the Persian Gulf War, engaging and destroying Iraqi Scud missiles with chemical warheads aimed at Israeli cities. In more recent history, the system has seen action in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, and in Saudi Arabia and Israel to ward off missile and drone attacks.

The Patriot achieved its first aircraft kill in 2014 in Israeli service after downing a Syrian Su-24 Fencer which penetrated protected airspace.

Among Poland’s other military modernization aims are the procurement of submarine-launched cruise missiles, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, and the construction of a series of watchtowers and observation posts on its border with the Kaliningrad Oblast region to keep an eye on any nearby Russian military activity.

Additionally, the country has discussed buying more F-16 Fighting Falcons and possibly brand new F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters for its air force.

popular

4 workouts that burn the most calories per hour

Service members have busy schedules, so it can be challenging to carve out time enough to burn those calories. Most of us exercise for about an hour each time we put on our PT gear. Typically, those workouts consists of a multi-mile run alongside our squadmates.

After the PT session, many troops call it a day, but other service members are looking to get as jacked as possible as quickly as they can — which leads us to the burning question:

Which workouts burn the most calories in the least time?


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It’s not too exciting, but it works.

Running stairs

It might sound easy, but running upstairs is anything but — in fact, it burns up to 800 calories per hour. Climbing upward puts more stress on the body, which means you’ll burn more fat in the process. Whenever you up the intensity of your cardiovascular workout, your body will feed on its stored energy to endure.

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See? The Zohan gets it.

Intense swimming

Have you ever wondered why Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is so freaking lean despite the fact that he eats upwards of 12,000 calories per day while training? It’s likely because swimming, a low-impact exercise, burns up to 890 calories per hour.

Now, dive in and start paddling.

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Feel the burn and loosen those hips.

Practicing karate

Not only does practicing a martial art help you better defend against a potential attacker, performing all those kicks and punches also helps your body burn over 930 calories per hour.

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He’s okay.

Jumping rope and running

Okay, so we were kind of derided running earlier — and we won’t take it back because it’s boring. But the fact is that it’s one of the best forms of cardio training you can do next to jumping rope. Both exercises move blood throughout the body and burn a sh*t ton of calories per hour. How many exactly? Well, a 200-pound individual can shed well over 1,000 calories if they push themselves.


For more, check out the video below!

popular

That time Russian troops repelled Germans with just their mangled faces

Built in the 19th century, the Osowiec Fortress was constructed by the Russian Empire in what is now eastern Poland as a way to defend its borders against the Germans. It was a strategic location for Russian troops.


On September 1914, German forces turned their attention to the fortress and launched a massive offensive, looking to gain control of the stronghold.

They bombarded the fortification with artillery guns for six days straight. However, the Russian troops managed to successfully counter their incoming attacks and continued to man the fort.

Also Read: That time pancakes helped fight the Japanese in WWII

 

Osowiec Fortress, today as a museum. Russian troops manned the fort.
Osowiec Fortress as it stands today, as a museum. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Despite Russian fortitude, the Germans remained optimistic as they decided to deploy their massive 420mm caliber cannon known as “Big Bertha.” The Germans pounded the fort and expected a quick surrender from the Russians within. Although the fort suffered greatly, it didn’t crumble, sustaining heavy fire for months to come.

In early July 1915, German Field Marshal Von Hindenburg took command and came up with a new offensive.

German Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, who led many attacks on the Russian troops.
German Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (left) (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

The Germans decided to use poisonous gas on their enemy knowing that the Russian troops didn’t have gas masks. 30 artillery guns hit the range and launched 30 gas batteries at the fort on Aug. 6.

A dark green smog of chlorine and bromine seeped into the Russian troops positions. The grass turned black. Tree leaves turned yellow. Russian copper guns and shells were covered in a coat of green chlorine oxide.

Four Russian companies stationed at the fort were massacred as they pulled the poison into their lungs.

Related: 6 easy ways for a grunt to be accepted by POGs

Once the gas cleared, 14 German battalions surged in to finish the job. As they approached, Russian troops from the 8th and 13th companies, who came into contact with the poison, charged the Germans. Their faces and bodies were covered in severe chemical burns and the troops reportedly spit out blood and pieces of infected lung as they attacked.

Seeing this gruesome images caused the German troops to tremble and quickly retreat. In the process, many got caught up and twisted in their own c-wire traps.

Within the next two weeks, the fort’s survivors finally evacuated the area. Later on, the newspapers reported this story, calling it the “Attack of the Dead Men.”

Check out Simple History‘s animated video below for more about this incredible story.

 

(Simple History | YouTube)

Articles

An SAS sniper killed 5 ISIS suicide bombers with 3 bullets

A Special Air Service sniper who spotted a group of Islamic State fighters leaving a suspected bomb-making facility in Iraq fired three shots that detonated two suicide vests and killed all five fighters, according to reports in British media.


The SAS sniper was operating 800 meters away from the factory when he noticed the group wearing unseasonably warm and bulky clothing. The 10-year veteran of the SAS hit the first man in the chest and detonated his vest, killing three fighters. As the two survivors attempted to escape back into the factory, the sniper shot one in the head and the other in the vest, which detonated the second vest.

Also read: 7 longest range sniper kills in history

“This was a classic SAS mission,” a British Army source told the Express. “About three weeks ago the intelligence guys got information that a bomb factory had been set up in a nearby village. With just three well-aimed shots, that single team has probably saved the lives of hundreds of innocent people. The unit was sent in to see if they could identify the house and the bombers.”

UK (Ministry of Defence photo)

The decision to attack with a sniper was made due to concerns about collateral damage.

“There were too many civilian homes nearby and children were often around so an airstrike was out of the question,” the unidentified British Army source said. “Instead, the SAS commander in Iraq decided to use a sniper team and the operation was a complete success.”

In another engagement in Aug. 2015, another British sniper reportedly saved an 8-year-old boy and his father who were about to be executed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US continues to train with allies in the event of Chinese attack

US and Philippine troops have reportedly been training for a potential island invasion scenario, which is a real possibility as tensions rise in the disputed South China Sea.

On April 10, 2019, US and Filipino forces conducted a joint airfield seizure exercise on a Lubang Island, located adjacent to the sea, in what was a first for the allies, Channel News Asia reported April 11, 2019.

The drill was practice for a real-world situation in which a foreign power has seized control of an island in the Philippines, taking over the its airfield, GMA News reported.


“If they [the Filipinos] were to have any small islands taken over by a foreign military, this is definitely a dress rehearsal that can be used in the future,” Maj. Christopher Bolz, a US Army Special Forces company commander involved in planning the exercises, told CNA.

“I think the scenario is very realistic, especially for an island nation such as the Philippines,” Bolz added.

US Marines and Philippine marines land on the beach in assault amphibious vehicles during an exercise in Subic Bay, Philippines, Oct. 3, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)

The Philippines requested this type of training last year. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) must be ready to any eventualities,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Pondanera, commander of the exercise control group with the AFP-SOCOM, explained.

Balikatan exercises are focused primarily on “maintaining a high level of readiness and responsiveness, and enhancing combined military-to-military relations and capabilities,” the Marine Corps said in a recent statement. Balikatan means “shoulder to shoulder” in Tagalog.

Both the US military and the Marines have stressed that the ongoing exercises are not aimed at China, although some of the activities, such as the counter-invasion drills, seem to suggest otherwise.

Thitu Island, known as Pagasa in the Philippines, is the only Philippine-controlled island in the contested South China Sea with an airfield, and the current drills come as Manila has accused China of sending paramilitary forces to “swarm” this particular territory.

“Let us be friends, but do not touch Pagasa Island and the rest,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a recent message to China. “If you make moves there, that’s a different story. I will tell my soldiers, ‘Prepare for suicide mission.'”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Philippines lacks the firepower to stand up to China, but it is protected under a Mutual Defense Treaty with the US.

In March 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed US commitment to defend the Philippines, stating that “any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft, or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.”

For the 35th iteration of the Balikatan exercises, the US sent the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp with 10 F-35s — an unusually heavy configuration of the stealth fighter. This marks the first time the F-35 has participated in these exercises.

Recently, the Wasp was spotted running flight operations in the vicinity of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, territory China seized from the Philippines by force roughly seven years ago.

The Philippines took the dispute before an international arbitration tribunal in 2016 and won. Beijing, however, rejected the ruling, as well as the tribunal’s authority.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why Fidel Castro froze the body of an American airman

Lieutenant Thomas “Pete” Ray, a member of the Alabama Air National Guard, was shot down during the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. When he was found by Cuban soldiers on the ground, he was shot along with his flight engineer Leo Baker. Unlike Baker, Ray’s body was frozen for the next 18 years.


At the time of the invasion, the CIA denied any American involvement. The agency also denied recruiting civilians in the Alabama Air National Guard to provide air support and hit Fidel Castro’s field headquarters with Napalm. But survivors of the failed venture say they definitely were involved.

Castro wanted to prove the Americans were not only responsible but they were providing real support to the invasion. That’s why he kept the airman on ice. But the U.S. government would not take responsibility and so could not repatriate Ray’s body.

The flag of assault brigade 2506, who invaded the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

The CIA would have to admit they were involved. Which meant they would have to admit their failure. Cuba told the world it had Ray’s body, so the body was no secret. The Cubans, according to the LA Times, were puzzled. In December 1979, the cuban government learned that Ray’s daughter was attempting to negotiate the release of her father’s body.

Ray’s body was held for 18 years. The CIA denied involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion until 1998 when they admitted U.S. pilots were shot down. But the agency never owned up to knowing where Ray’s body was. The LA Times forced the CIA to admit that Ray was one of theirs.

The CIA waited until the events surrounding the death of Ray and other members of their secret air force were declassified. They also revealed that Ray was awarded the CIA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, and his name was added to the Book of Honor in the foyer of CIA headquarters.

Articles

Iran may bankroll pro-government fighters in Syrian conflict

The Syrian government has asked Iran to take over the supervision and payroll of thousands of Shi’ite militiamen fighting alongside Russian and Syrian troops in support of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a government source and a news report.


The pro-opposition Syrian news website Zaman Al Wasel reported that it obtained a Syrian defense ministry document saying the Assad regime has approved a plan to give Iran responsibility for paying foreign fighters – mostly Shi’ites of varying nationalities. Shi’ite fighters mostly are paid in cash from Iran, the Syrian government and coffers of the Lebanese-based, pro-Iranian Hezbollah, according to analysts.

Iran would foot the bill alone in the future, a Syrian official told VOA on the condition of anonymity, confirming the Al Wasel report.

“The number of Shia militia has increased dramatically during the last two months,” the official said. “While a big part of these militia were recruited by Iran, a relatively big part was recruited by the Syrian government directly. We are speaking about more than 50,000 militants from different nationalities. The Syrian government requested that Iran provide for all of the mentioned militias.”

The document from Al Wasel put the number of fighters to be paid at 88,733 — a figure analysts say is exaggerated. They estimate that about 10,000 Iranian combat troops are in Syria fighting alongside thousands of fighters from Lebanon’s Tehran-affiliated Shiite militia Hezbollah and assorted Shiite militia made up of renegade Pakistanis, central Asians and other nationalities. Since January 2013, more than 1,000 members of Iran’s elite Quds Force or other elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units have been killed fighting in Syria.

Related: Russia denies funding the Taliban

Tehran says its forces are in Syria to protect the Zeinab Shrine in Damascus, a Shi’ite holy site. But since 2011, Iran has been a major backer of the Syrian regime in its war with rebel groups across the country, at first sending advisers, then forces from the IRGC and expanding far beyond the shrine area.

Iran has long expressed a desire to command a unified army in the region, particularly in Syria, and its growing power in Syria and Iraq is causing unease in Western capitals. In an interview with the Mashregh news agency last August, Mohammad Ali Falaki, an IRGC leader, announced formation of a unified army in Syria which appears to have come to loose fruition.

“It would hardly be abnormal for Iran’s IRGC to be controlling yet more Shia jihadists,” said Talha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute.

In the long run, the formation of a unified army in Syria under Tehran supervision appears very practical, analysts say.

“It seems plausible that the Syrian government shift the responsibility for management and organization of the militias, especially where financial burden is concerned,” said Rasool Nafisi, a Middle East affairs expert in Washington.

Asserting its military prowess would help Iran push its political agenda in the region, some analysts believe.

“The bigger and more advanced army you control, the stronger voice you have,” said Daryoush Babak, a Washington-based retired Iranian military adviser.

But unifying Assad supporters under Tehran’s umbrella could worsen sectarian conflict in the region between Shi’ites and Sunni, analysts say.

Iran is looking for any chance to increase its influence and gain an upper hand against Saudi Arabia, its strongest rival in the war of minds and hearts, analysts say. Saudi Arabia and Iran support rival groups in Syria’s civil war. And In a speech in Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump accused Tehran of contributing to instability in the region.

“Tehran and Riyadh … keep contradicting each other to prove whose ideology leads the region,” said Nafisi.

While Syria has relied on Iran militarily in the fight against rebels and Islamic State, it’s unlikely to grant Tehran a controlling foothold in the country, analysts say.

“In Syria, it is not likely to happen as long as the Assad regime harbors ambitions of regaining sovereignty rather than being reduced to an Iranian protectorate,” said Alfoneh.

VOA’s Noor Zahid contributed to this report.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 people who were erased from history

It’s not easy to remove a person from history, but brutal leaders throughout history have erased some of their formerly close advisors.

After news of the execution of Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong Un’s uncle and close advisor, broke in December 2013, North Korean state media has erased the man from history entirely, deleting him from online archives and photographs.


This extreme measure makes it “the largest deletion ever carried out by the official KCNA news agency and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper,” according to the Guardian.

But it wasn’t the first time a political leader has attempted to wipe a person clean out of history — here are five other people who were erased from existence:

Nikolai Yezhov, Joseph Stalin’s head of secret police

Stalin (center) with Nikolai Yezhov to his left. After Yezhov’s execution, he was airbrushed out of the photo.

Yezhov earned the nickname “The Vanishing Commissar” among art historians for his disappearance from photographs after his execution in 1940.

Yezhov, a loyal Stalinist, was head of the secret police during Stalin’s Great Purge, overseeing mass arrests and executions of those deemed disloyal to the Soviet regime before ironically being arrested, tortured, tried, and executed himself for disloyalty.

Stalin was known for eliminating all traces of those who fell out of his good side, or whom he no longer had use for, Yezhov included.

Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister

Goebbels (second from right) appears with Adolf Hitler and others at the home of film maker Leni Riefenstahl in 1937. In later images, he is missing.

Goebbels was immensely valued by Hitler for his enthusiasm, brilliant ideas, and vehement anti-semitism. Hitler made Goebbels his chief of propaganda, and sent him all over Germany to establish a Nazi presence and boost morale during the war. Goebbels was one of just a few people in Hitler’s inner-circle, even trusted with helping burn Hitler’s body after he committed suicide.

Like Stalin, Hitler was known for “erasing” people who fell out of his favor, though it remains unknown what Goebbels did that led to his being deleted from this famous 1937 photo taken at the home of German film maker Leni Riefenstahl.

Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary

Formerly close comrades, Trotsky appears in the image on the left at one of Lenin’s speeches; the same image, altered after the two split, shows Trotsky deleted.

An influential voice in the early days of the Soviet Union, Trotsky was initially a leader in the Bolshevik revolution, but references to Trotsky were eliminated after he switched his allegiance to the Mensheviks, splitting from comrade and fellow revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin later denounced Trotsky as a “scoundrel” in 1917 (though Trotsky eventually rejoined the Bolsheviks), and after Lenin’s death Trotsky was eliminated from photos by Stalin. Trotsky was eventually exiled from the Soviet Union completely.

Bo Gu, senior leader of the Chinese Communist Party

Bo Gu, far left, appears in the photo with Mao Zedong and comrades; in the later photo, he is missing.

Qin Bangxian, better known as Bo Gu, was the “person with overall responsibility of the CCP,” and so had tremendous responsibility under leader Mao Zedong.

However, as a result of some miscommunication on tactical military defense at the Zunyi Conference during the Long March, Bo Gu was criticized for “serious partial political mistakes” and replaced in command by Zhang Wentian in 1935.

The exact miscommunication differs in most historical accounts, but it could be what led to Bo Gu’s fallout with Mao Zedong, and therefore could have been the reason for his elimination from this photo.

Grigoriy Nelyubov, Soviet cosmonaut

Hand-picked for the first cosmonaut detachment in 1960, Nelyubov was a star choice for space flight for being “a remarkable person, an excellent pilot, a sportsman…”

A founding member of the top space team known as the Sochi Six, some say Nelyubov was the third or fourth person in space; others say he never made it into space before being expelled from the Soviet space program for alcohol-related misconduct. The incident led to his being deleted from program records.

Nelyubov was ultimately struck by a train and killed; his death was ruled a suicide.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is what’s in Batman’s utility belt

Over the years, it has become a running joke of sorts that Batman’s glorified fanny pack contains whatever items he needs to fulfill his current mission, regardless of how unlikely a scenario the caped crusader may find himself in. This leads us to the query of the hour- what has Batman’s utility belt been shown to contain?

Up until the release of Detective Comics #29, which formally introduced the idea of Batman having a utility belt, Batman’s costume had, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary belt that stored a single gadget- the bat rope with a grappling hook.


Whats in Batmans Utility Belt & Other Bat Gadgets? – Know Your Universe | Comicstorian

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In Detective Comics #29, writer Gardner Fox decided to expand his tool-set, establishing that the Dark Knight wore a belt with numerous pouches containing various gadgets he may need while fighting crime- the first revealed being small glass pellets that when thrown released a large cloud of obscuring, choking gas.

From there things became a bit more elaborate. For example, among other things the utility belt was shown to include a giant balloon figure of batman that can be inflated remotely (Batman #115), a mini Geiger counter (Batman #117), and even a small disk made of asbestos inexplicably revealing his secret identity (Detective Comics #185).

In the 1958 comic Batman #117, it even shows him carrying shark repellent, for all those times one needs to fend off sharks while fighting crime on the streets of Gotham… If you’re curious, in this case Batman was underwater on an alien planet. Lucky for him, he remembered to pack his shark repellent and used it against an angry alien, reasoning that “if it works on the killers of the deep on Earth” it might just scare away a similar creature on an alien planet. We mention this because it gives the infamous scene in the 1966 Batman film where Adam West fends off a shark in mid-air with some handy Shark Repellent Bat Spray some context. Glorious, 1950s era context with pure West.

Related: The real ‘Batman’ served during World War II

Later comics also establish that Batman has gadgets specifically designed to counter single members of his rogues gallery such as an antidote to the Joker’s Joker toxin, a Bat-heater to combat Mr Freeze, and special gloves that augment his punching power to fight on a more even playing field with the superhumanly strong villain Bane. Not just for enemies, Batman also apparently keeps what’s needed on hand to take out his allies as well, including a little bit of kryptonite, just in case.

It should also be noted here that in his very earliest comic outings, Batman’s utility belt had space for a handgun. Yes, as sacrilege as this would be in modern times, early versions of Batman had no qualms about shooting bad guys dead.

As for more day to day things, Batman’s utility belt further carries: A first aid kit containing basic surgical tools and various anti-toxins, an acetylene torch that can “cut through the hull of a battleship”, a forensic kit for analysing crime scenes, batarangs, a communication device, keys for the Batmobile, a rebreather in case Batman is ever submerged underwater, Batcuffs (special handcuffs designed to restrain even superpowered individuals), a lockpick, a high resolution camera and in some cases and the aforementioned grappling hook. In addition, the belt also contains numerous darts and pellets designed to subdue, incapacitate or otherwise stun criminals non-lethally when thrown. It also is variously shown to have a flamethrower, and EMP, a sonic devastator, remote claw, napalm, explosive gel, a cryptographic sequencer, and grenades of various type.

Bat addiction: The US wanted an army of Batman paratroopers in WW2

Batman’s Utility Belt // Supercut

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Batman’s Utility Belt // Supercut

In the Batman and Robin film, the belt is even shown to contain a bat-credit card, which, if Batman is to be believed when he flashes it, is something he never leaves home without. And, to be honest, while this scene is often made fun of by the masses, it does at least accurately demonstrate a way for Batman to use his greatest super power- being rich.

In any event, as you might be gathering at this point, writers for Batman really do use his utility belt as a deus ex machina of sorts, usually introducing an amazingly specific gadget seemingly perfectly suited to solve whatever problem Batman has at a given time, with that gadget often never being mentioned again in later depictions.

In an effort to explain away their lazy writing in a semi-plausible way, the comic authors established in Batman canon that the hero obsessively plans every encounter to the most minute detail and has safeguards in place for any eventuality. Thus implying that the exact contents of his utility belt at any given time vary considerably from day to day, though even just going with the staple items that are supposedly always there, the storage capacity of this belt would give Hermione Granger’s handbag a run for its money.

Also read: 6 DC comic heroes who served in the Army

Speaking of planning for any eventuality, the belt has numerous inbuilt security systems to prevent unauthorized use including a tracking beacon and an explosive charge so Batman can destroy it as a last resort if he ever loses it. The belt can also only be accessed by Batman and the various compartments and pouches will only open in response to a specific finger pattern.

The belt is also supposed to be constructed from a titanium alloy that makes it near indestructible, except, we guess from whatever explosive he used for its self destruct mode.

Of course, it’s at this point we feel compelled to point out that in the 1960s Batman TV show, early editions of his utility belt can very clearly be shown to be made up of common household kitchen sponges clipped to a yellow belt…

But to sum up, Batman’s superhero fanny pack contains a bafflingly array of equipment to fight crime, from shark repellent to kryptonite, that somehow all fits neatly into his tiny belt thanks to the magic of lazy comic writing.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Fact:

  • Speaking of Batman’s obsessive planning, the comic JLA: Tower of Babel notes that Batman has plans in place to take out his own teammates, keeping detailed dossiers describing how to best deal with heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash. Batman’s obsession with being prepared for every scenario is such that he even keeps a file detailing how to kill himself should the need arise. For anyone curious, Batman notes that the easiest way to kill him would be to distract him by taking an innocent person hostage then take him out like any other mortal man. Although, given countless villains have used this exact strategy against him with little effect, we’re thinking maybe Batman’s planning abilities may be a little overestimated.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.