US 'mini carrier groups' could change how Navy, Marines operate - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

US Marines are not only experimenting with a new aircraft-carrier concept, but they are also taking a fresh look at forming “mini” carrier strike groups to fill in when the carriers are called away.

The capable fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters are changing the way the service’s big amphibious assault ships — the centerpieces of the “gator navy” — go to war.

The Marine Corps is aggressively pushing ahead with the experimental “Lightning-carrier” concept, which involves arming the large flattops with a literal boatload of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to turn the traditional troop-transport ships into light carriers capable of boosting the overall firepower of the US carrier force.


US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

The USS Essex sails alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

At the same time, the service and the US Navy are looking at making changes to amphibious readiness groups (ARGs), transforming them into miniature carrier strike groups (CSGs). An ARG typically consists of an amphibious assault ship, an amphibious transport dock, a landing-dock ship, and a contingent of Marine expeditionary forces.

“We’re definitely changing the way amphibs are employed, especially on the blue side — we’re no longer just the trucks that carry Marines that we used to be,” Lt. Cmdr. David Mahoney, the Amphibious Squadron 1 operations officer, said, according to a USNI News report on April 16, 2019.

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the lead capital ship for the Essex ARG, sailed into the Persian Gulf in fall 2018 as the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its escort ships, which were initially expected to deploy to the Middle East, sailed into the north Atlantic in support of NATO.

“There was no carrier in 5th Fleet, so a lot of the CSG-like duties we started taking over just because we had to,” Mahoney said. “The ARG is now becoming almost like a mini CSG.”

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

F-35B Lightning II on the USS Essex.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Freeman)

“You can see that layered defense,” he said, pointing to the ARGs cooperation with destroyers and other warships and the increased capability provided by the multi-mission F-35s with advanced stealth and a powerful sensor suite. “This is what has to happen as the carriers are being sometimes sent elsewhere because the needs are rising elsewhere.”

The ARGs, especially in this time of a renewed great-power competition, are “definitely in high demand to fill those [CSG] roles as the Navy is spreading out further and further around the globe.”

Marine Corps F-35Bs, which are short-take-off vertical-landing aircraft built for operations aboard amphibious assault ships, flew into combat for the first time during the Essex ARG’s deployment. Amphibious assault ships lack the catapults and arresting wires used on aircraft carriers, and support only these jump jets and helicopters.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

F-35B Lightning II takes off from the USS Essex.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Francisco J. Diaz Jr.)

In February 2019, the F-35B achieved another first as fighters aboard the USS Wasp and carried out simulated strikes in “beast mode” — meaning it was operating with an external ordnance loadout — in the Pacific.

Recently, the Wasp sailed into the South China Sea with an unusually heavy configuration of at least 10 stealth fighters, significantly more than normal, for joint drills with the Philippines. During the Balikatan exercises, the ship was spotted running flight operations near the disputed Scarborough Shoal as part of the light-carrier experiment.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

The USS Wasp in the South China Sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)

At the heart of the new “mini” CSGs is the “Lightning carrier,” an amphibious assault ship loaded up with as many as 20 F-35s for carrierlike operations. This concept, which the Marines began experimenting with in 2016, is a rebranded version of the “Harrier-carrier” concept, an earlier variation with AV-8 Harrier jump jets that served the military well for decades.

“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier,” the Marine Corps said in a 2017 report, “it can be complementary if employed in imaginative ways.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Defectors living openly in US happens ‘far more often than people would think’

A former Russian official whose background matches descriptions of a high-level CIA spy hurriedly extracted from Russia has been living openly outside Washington, DC, under his own name.

According to documents from a 2017 real-estate purchase reviewed by Insider, Oleg Smolenkov bought a house in the DC area in 2018 for $925,000.

Intelligence sources told Insider that such a situation — a former agent living under his own name — was less unusual than it might at first appear, partly because of precedent and the unique personality type of high-level sources.


Smolenkov was named in Russian media Sep. 10, 2019, as a possible identity of the extracted spy. Reuters and the BBC were among Western outlets to also report the name.

A spokesman for the Kremlin said Smolenkov had worked for the Russian state but reportedly dismissed reports that a high-level spy had been extracted as “pulp fiction.”

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Smolenkov was named in the wake of reports by The New York Times and CNN that described an unnamed Russian official who worked for the CIA for decades before fleeing to the US in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

The descriptions from Russia of Smolenkov’s work for the Kremlin, the timing of his disappearance in 2017, and his presence in the suburbs of Washington, DC, appear to match the reports.

When an NBC News reporter knocked on the door of the Smolenkov house Sep. 9, 2019, he was intercepted by unidentified men asking what he was doing.

Two former FBI officials told NBC News that they thought the man in Virginia was the intelligence asset.

That asset is reported to have supplied critical information that helped shape the US government’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The asset’s identity remains unconfirmed. Among assets in a similar position, however, the practice of living openly in a Western country under a real name would not be unusual, according to a former US Drug Enforcement Agency agent who regularly ran intelligence and drug-cartel sources.

“Not shocking at all to those of us who have been there,” said the former member of the DEA’s special-operations division, which handles high-level investigations and sources.

“A guy like Smolenkov spent decades working his way to the top of the Russian government and succeeded while also being an asset for the CIA,” the source said. He asked for anonymity to protect former sources and assets around the world.

“That level of political success at the same time he knew every day for decades he could be revealed and arrested usually requires a special level of ego and appetite for risk,” the source said.

“So it’s not shocking that the first reports said he turned down a chance in 2016 to escape before being convinced by the media coverage that he finally had to go in 2017. Getting him to give up that level of status inside his own homeland along with the status he secretly held with the CIA … it’s a powerful combination.”

Three other former intelligence agents contacted by Insider were less willing to talk about the story, which immediately grabbed the attention of the media and intelligence circles Sep. 9, 2019.

But all three noted that Russian intelligence assets tended to keep their identities intact after defection despite usual pleas from their handlers to adopt fake names and go into hiding.

All three noted that the Russian defectors Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko lived openly in the UK after fleeing Russia and continued to consult for intelligence services and private companies under their own names.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Footage of Sergei Skripal’s 2006 trial.

(Sky News)

Both men were poisoned in cases where UK has blamed the Russian state.

Skripal and his daughter narrowly survived a nerve-agent poisoning in 2018, while Litvinenko died in 2006 after drinking tea laced with radioactive poison.

“It’s unlikely that someone with the level of ambition to rise that high in the Kremlin while working as an agent for the Americans would want to easily drop the social status that came with both sides of their double life,” the former DEA agent said.

“And it gets even harder to convince them they’re actually threatened and need to go into deep witness-protection programs if they have families that probably didn’t know they were working for another country on the side.

“Then you add that these are people rather used to risk and living off their wits and so ego plays a huge role.”

When asked how often high-level defectors refused to completely abandon their old life and identity, the former DEA agent said “far more often than people would think.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Kalashnikov has built a huge gold robot with no obvious purpose

The Russian maker of the AK-47 unveiled a new golden robot straight out of the movie “Aliens” on Aug. 21, 2018, at the Army-2018 Forum in Moscow.

“The promising goal of using the anthropomorphic complex is to solve engineering and combat tasks,” Kalashnikov Concern said in a short statement translated from Russian.


The robot’s capabilities are still limited, but an improved version is likely to be displayed at the Army-2020 Forum, according to Meduza, a Russian media outlet.

Russian defense contractors such as Kalashnikov and Rostec have shown off several new weapons and gear this week at the Army-2018 Forum, including an AK-308 rifle and stealth camouflage.

Here’s what we know about the robot:

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

(Kalashnikov)

The robot is 13 feet tall, weighs about 4.5 tons, and has apparently been named “Igorek.”

Source: Meduza, Daily Mail

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

(Kalashnikov)

Igorek is operated by one or more controllers who sit behind the tinted-window cabin, which is said to be bulletproof.

Source: Daily Mail

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

(Kalashnikov)

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

(Kalashnikov)

But if Igorek does pan out, Moscow might very well have another tool to carry Alexei Navalny, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, away from protests, as this Twitter user pointed out.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Nevada officials ‘outraged’ after federal government shipped in plutonium

Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada railed against the Department of Energy for what he described as “unacceptable deception,” after the agency transported a half-ton of weapons-grade plutonium to Nevada, allegedly without the state’s consent.

“I am beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception from [The Department of Energy],” Sisolak said in a statement. “The Department led the State of Nevada to believe that they were engaging in good-faith negotiations with us regarding a potential shipment of weapons-grade plutonium, only to reveal that those negotiations were a sham all along.”


“They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” Sisolak said.

During a press conference on Jan. 30, 2019, Sisolak said he did not know how the plutonium was transported or the route the Energy Department took to get to Nevada. “They provided us with no information in that regard,” he said.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada.

Sisolak said he would look into several options for the plutonium, which had been taken to the Nevada National Security Site.

“To put the health and the well-being of millions of people at risk … without giving us the opportunity to prepare in case there would have been a mishap along the way, was irresponsible and reckless on behalf of the department,” Sisolak said.

In a court filing, the Energy Department reportedly revealed it had completed the shipment of plutonium, but declined to provide specifics due to security reasons. It noted that the transfer was completed before November 2018, prior to an injunction the state had filed during negotiations.

The plutonium was shipped from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in order to comply with a federal court order in the state, according to a National Nuclear Security Administration official cited in a Las Vegas Review-Journal report.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency responsible for nuclear applications in the US military, claimed the plutonium would only be temporarily stored in Nevada before being moved to another facility in New Mexico or elsewhere, The Review-Journal reported.

Lawmakers from Nevada sought an injunction and raised questions about the safety of transporting the nuclear material, including the impact it could have on the environment. The state also claimed the Energy Department failed to conduct a federally mandated study to assess the risks in transportation, and neglected to study alternative sites for depositing the plutonium, according to The Review-Journal.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

United States Department of Energy headquarters.

Sisolak said the state filed a temporary restraining order on Wednesday to prevent future shipments, and that he was seeking retribution from the Energy Department.

Throughout 2018, state and the federal officials were in preliminary negotiations for the transportation of plutonium, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in the press conference.

In previous group emails, Nevada officials questioned the procedure and said their analysis indicated it was “insufficient … to commence this transaction,” according to Ford.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Nevada officials met with Energy Department officials in Washington, DC, to “express the concerns regarding this proposal,” Ford said. In November 2018, the state also sent a request to the Energy Department for specific commitments and timelines.

“Now, this is all the while … they had already shipped some plutonium,” Ford said. “We’re having good-faith discussions and negotiations … but they had already shipped this plutonium.”

The Energy Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Jan. 30, 2019.

The transportation of nuclear waste is traditionally kept under close guard due to safety concerns. The Office of Secure Transportation within the Energy Department reportedly contracts hundreds of couriers to transport radioactive material using truck convoys.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia trashes J-15 fighter, a plane based on its design

Although Beijing and Moscow recently forged a military partnership, there still appears to be some animosity over their checkered past.

Russian state-owned media outlet Sputnik recently ripped China’s J-15 fighter jet for its many failings.

In 2001, China purchased a T-10K-3 (a Su-33 prototype) from Ukraine and later reversed engineered it into the J-15 fighter jet.

And Moscow, apparently, is still a little sour about it.

The J-15 is too heavy to operate efficiently from carriers, has problems with its flight control systems, which has led to several crashes, and more, Sputnik reported, adding that Beijing doesn’t even have enough J-15s to outfit both of its carriers.

The Sputnik report was first spotted in the West by The National Interest.


“The J-15’s engines and heavy weight severely limit its ability to operate effectively: at 17.5 tons empty weight, it tops the scales for carrier-based fighters,” Sputnik reported, adding that “The US Navy’s F-18 workhorse, by comparison, is only 14.5 tons.”

The Su-33 is about as heavy as the J-15, and Moscow is currently upgrading it’s troubled Admiral Kuznetsov carrier to launch the Su-33.

“The Asia Times noted that Chinese media has disparaged the plane in numerous ways,” Sputnik added, “including referring to it as a ‘flopping fish’ for its inability to operate effectively from the Chinese carriers, which launch fixed-wing aircraft under their own power from an inclined ramp on the bow of the ship.”

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, is a Kuznetsov-class carrier like the Admiral Kuznetsov, and both use short-take off but arrested recovery launch systems.

Sputnik then piled on by interviewing Russian military analyst Vasily Kashin.

“Years ago the Chinese decided to save some money and, instead of buying several Su-33s from Russia for their subsequent license production in China, they opted for a Su-33 prototype in Ukraine,” Sputnik quoted Kashin.

“As a result, the development of the J-15 took more time and more money than expected, and the first planes proved less than reliable,” Kashin added.

But as The National Interest pointed out, the former Soviet Union regularly copied Western military concepts and products.

“Considering that China has the same habit, there is a poetic justice here,” The National Interest’s Michael Peck wrote.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Fans gather with wary excitement for new ‘Watchmen’ teaser trailer

If you’re a fan of Watchmen and you’re worried about the upcoming series from HBO, rest assured: it is in the hands of a true fan as well.

Set in the same alternate history as the graphic novel, Damon Lindelof’s (Lost, Star Trek) series will take place in the modern day where superheroes are mistrusted and the vigilante Rorschach appears to have made quite the impact.

The teaser runs against the ‘tick tock’ of a timeline we can’t yet understand, but it sets a gritty and intense tone:


Watchmen | Official Tease | HBO

youtu.be

‘Watchmen’ | Official Teaser Trailer

In anticipation of fan’s reactions (and also to address the reactions of original creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), Lindelof penned a lengthy (and amazing — seriously, read the whole thing) missive, which he shared on Instagram in 2018:

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BjFsj6JHEdq/?utm_source=ig_embed expand=1]Damon on Instagram: “Day 140.”

www.instagram.com

“Day 140”

“We have no desire to ‘adapt’ the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created thirty years ago. Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted. They will, however be remixed.”

Lindelof goes on to assert that “Watchmen is canon. Just the way Mr. Moore wrote it, the way Mr. Gibbons drew it and the way the brilliant John Higgins colored it.” (By the way, the omission of an Oxford Comma here is just as Mr. Lindelof wrote in his letter, which I will discuss with him when I get the chance.)

That being said, he goes on to say that neither is this series a sequel. It will take place in the world the creators built, but it will be entirely its own — including a contemporary (albeit alternate) time period.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

“Tick tock.”

Rorschach isn’t the only character hinted at in the teaser. The ticking time clock itself harkens to Dr. Manhattan (whose father was a watchmaker) and the Doomsday Clocks that appear in the original graphic novels, counting down to catastrophe.

As for the rest, well, most of them are Oklahoma cops, who also wear masks.

The cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, and Adelaide Clemens. Produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television, based on characters from DC. It is set to debut on HBO in the fall of 2019.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

America is selling anti-tank missiles to people fighting the Russians

Last month, the news that Ukraine would receive FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States generated headlines. It’s not surprising that the move got attention from the public, given the fact that Russia and Ukraine have been fighting a low-level war since 2014. But Ukraine is not the only neighbor who has received weapons from the U.S. under the Trump Administration.


US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
The javelin antitank missile training system, stowed in its container, that was issued to Marine Corps Base (MCBH), Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on August 31st, 2000. 410 of these missiles were sold to Georgia. (USMC photo)

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Republic of Georgia will be receiving 72 launchers and 410 FGM-148 Javelin missiles. Why might this be a big deal? Well, in 2008, Georgia and Russia fought a war over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia lost the war and Russia seized the territory. Russia claims that the disputed territories are now independent nations, but if you believe that… well, then we’ve got some lovely beachfront property in North Dakota to sell you.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
A Russian Army T-80. The FGM-148 Javelin gives Georgia a fighting chance against a horde of these tanks. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

So, how does the Javelin change things for Georgia? Well, most of Georgia’s current anti-tank missiles are older Russian models, like the AT-4 Spigot, AT-7 Spriggan, and the AT-13 Saxhorn 2. These missiles are generally wire-guided and, as a consequence, aren’t entirely safe. This is because most anti-tank missiles have a huge backblast that reveals their position. Worse, when you have a wire-guided system, you have to direct the launch until the missile reaches its target. If the bad guys can hit your position in the meantime, you’re likely finished.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
The AT-13 Saxhorn-2 was among the anti-tank missiles Georgia had in service when they bought 410 FGM-148 Javelin missiles. (Polish Ministry of Defense photo)

The Javelin, on the other hand, is a fire-and-forget system with a range of roughly one and a half miles. That means that once you fire the missile, it hunts its target with on-board seekers (the Javelin uses an imaging infra-red seeker). This is much safer for anti-tank teams since they can relocate to a new firing position immediately. In essence, Georgia has just seen a substantial uptick in its capabilities against the horde of Russian tanks.

popular

This is the silky smooth voice every airline pilot tries to imitate

Think back to literally any time you’ve sat on a plane as you travel for the holidays. Each time, you’ve been greeted by an all-too-familiar voice. The PA system hisses to life and you hear, “ladies and gentlemen, ehhh, good morning. Welcome aboard. This is, ehh, your, uhhh, captain speaking…” before the rest of the relevant travel information is droningly rattled off.

It doesn’t matter who the pilot is, where you’re taking off from, or what the country of destination is — every single one of the 850,000 plus pilots out there take on the exact same speech pattern and pseudo-West Virginian accent.

That’s all thanks to one man.


US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
I don’t know about you guys but, personally, I’d feel perfectly comfortable if a Texan pilot got on the intercom saying, “a’right y’all. Buckle yer asses in. This gon’ be fun.”
(Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield)

Civilian pilots and co-pilots follow a very thorough script before each flight. This rehearsed speech checks every required box and lets passengers know what to do in any given situation. It’s a speech we’re all used to hearing by now and, honestly, if we didn’t, it’d feel a little weird.

As we all know, plane passengers come from all walks of life — and the airlines must do their best to accommodate everyone. So, pilots are instructed to speak as clearly (and consistently) as possible. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as speaking “without an accent,” so pilots do the next best thing, which is to adapt the most “neutral” accent: the Rust Belt or the Upper Midwestern accent.

Not only is this neutral accent easy to understand, it’s also comforting. A 2018 study showed that over 50 percent of all passengers have more confidence in a pilot with an Upper Midwestern, Southern Californian, or Great Lakes accents (all notably neutral accents). Passengers have the least amount of confidence in a pilot that speaks with a Texan, New Yorker, or Central Canadian accent (all notably thick accents).

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
There’s no denying Yeager was one of the coolest troops ever. The man was taking officially sponsored and Air Force-approved glamour shots in his jets and signing autographs for crying out loud.
(U.S. Air Force Photo)

But that accent doesn’t explain the slightly staggered speech pattern that pilots use to tell us about the weather conditions waiting for us at our destination. Many recognize that as a nod to the aviation world’s biggest badass: Brigadier General Chuck Yeager.

The story of Chuck Yeager reads almost like a comic book superhero. A young aircraft mechanic became one of the first to fly the P-51 Mustang, earned a Bronze Star for saving his navigator after being shot down and captured, was put back in the sky by a direct action from Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Eisenhower, and then went on to achieve “ace-in-a-day” status in the first victory over a jet fighter… And that’s all before he became an officer and test pilot and the first man to break the sound barrier.

In addition to his laundry list of notable accomplishments, Chuck Yeager also holds the distinction of being one of the coolest and most admired pilots in history.

And there’s no denying that Chuck Yeager’s middle-of-nowhere, West Virginia accent is stoic and calming. When he speaks, everyone listens. Other military pilots have been imitating his twangy voice ever he was a test pilot and, as his legend grew, more and more pilots took on his accent.

When the 1983 film, The Right Stuff, was released, moviegoers were pulled into his life’s story. Audiences watched as he was denied the chance to go into space despite overwhelming qualifications because of a lack of a college degree. Sam Shepard‘s portrayal of Yeager was so spot-on and captivating that he stole the show, even if Chuck wasn’t the main character. Since then, nearly every single aspiring pilot has, consciously or otherwise, started adapting his accent.

But while we’re here: let’s set the record straight. The long, drawn-out pauses aren’t necessarily a “Chuck Yeager” thing. Like all imitations, the characteristics of his speech have been greatly exaggerated over time, but Yeager is undeniably the origin.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Is the rereleased version of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ worth your time?

“Avengers: Endgame” just got re-released in theaters with bonus content.

The movie, which initially hit theaters in April 2019 and went on to hit $1 billion at the box office, returned on June 28, 2019. Prior to the re-release, Marvel revealed that the new version would have an introduction from Anthony Russo, an unfinished scene that didn’t appear in the final movie, and a sneak peek at “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (which comes out on July 2, 2019).

Keep reading for a breakdown of what to expect from the latest version of “Endgame,” and whether or not it’s worth seeing in theaters.


US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Anthony and Joe Russo.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Before the movie plays, codirector Anthony Russo shares a few words with viewers

“On behalf of all of us at Marvel Studios, we want to thank you for joining us on this journey,” Russo says. “Make sure you stick around after the credits. We have something special to share with you. Enjoy.”

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

After the film, there’s a touching tribute to Stan Lee

Once the three-hour film ends, you’ll have to wait for all the credits to roll before Marvel honors the comic book legend who died in November 2018 at the age of 95. The tribute, which lasts about three minutes, is stuffed with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage that shows Lee interacting with cast and crew members over the years. There’s also a recap of his cameos and Lee says that he remembers every single one.

You can see him chatting with Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau on the set of 2008’s “Iron Man,” and you can spot Brie Larson leaning on him while filming his quick appearance in the 2019 movie “Captain Marvel.”

“Not only did I not think I would be doing a cameo in such a big movie, I hadn’t dreamt it would be such a big movie,” Lee says. “In those days, I was writing those books, I was hoping they’d sell so I wouldn’t lose my job and could keep paying the rent.”

He goes on to talk about the success of his comic characters and the “blockbuster movies.”

“In the days [when] I was writing these things, I never thought it would turn into something like this,” Lee says.

He adds: “I can’t believe I lucked out.”

The tribute concludes with silver text on the screen that says, “Stan We Love You 3000,” a heartwarming nod to Tony Stark’s line from “Endgame.”

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Mark Ruffalo in “Avengers: Endgame.”

(Disney/Marvel)

The unfinished deleted scene shows Hulk being heroic

Russo returns to the screen to say that it’s a moment that they “loved, but just couldn’t keep in the final cut of the film.”

The scene opens with a burning building and several firefighters arriving at the site. Then Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) shows up, looking a little different because the CGI work hasn’t been completed. As the firefighters panic over how to rescue people stuck on the 40th floor, the superhero valiantly arrives and gets the job done. Then Hulk answers a phone call and says, “Steve who?,” presumably referring to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).

It’s unclear where this scene would have fit into the final version of “Endgame,” but perhaps it was meant to highlight what he was doing after the Avengers tracked down Thanos and killed him in the garden. Following the five-year jump, Professor Hulk seemed to become popular in town, as shown during one “Endgame” scene in which three kids approached him at a diner so they could snap a photo with him.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson in “Avengers: Endgame.”

(Sony Pictures/Marvel)

The final treat gives fans a glimpse of what to expect from ‘Far From Home’

The scene opens in Ixtenco, Mexico and shows Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) evaluating the damage done in the area by a cyclone that seemingly had a face. Then, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio appears and says, “You don’t want any part of this.”

That sneak peek just reiterates what fans have already seen in the trailer for the “Spider-Man” sequel. The movie focuses on new threats, referred to as Elementals, who take the form of earth, fire, water, and air.

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

“Avengers: Endgame” is the culmination of several Marvel movies.

(Walt Disney Studios)

Is the new version of ‘Endgame’ worth your time?

“Endgame” is not too far from surpassing “Avatar” and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, and this re-release of “Endgame” seems like Marvel’s attempt at dethroning James Cameron’s 2009 movie. But fans flocking to the theater might not feel like the new content was worth the time or money spent.

If you’re lucky, you might snag a cool “Endgame” poster from the theater you attend. But other than that, you might be left feeling unsatisfied. While the Lee tribute is emotional and full of nostalgia, it’s not necessary to see it now.

“Endgame” will be available on digital on July 30, 2019, and you can purchase the Blu-ray beginning on Aug. 13, 2019, and it’s likely that the tribute will be included as an extra.

And because “Far From Home” hits theaters in a few days, the sneak peek at the end of “Endgame” isn’t strong motivation to catch the re-release. You’re better off just waiting to see “Far From Home” when it’s released, since it marks the final film in phase three of the MCU and teases where future movies in the universe will be headed.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

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Articles

After years of declining military spending, the world is now re-arming

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate
Lockheed Martin photo


For the first time since 2011, the world has spent more on troops and weapons than in the previous year, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The researchers estimate that countries spent $1.676 trillion on their militaries in 2015, a one-percent increase over 2014. This is equivalent to around 2.3 percent of the world’s economic output.

But as is often the case with these kinds of statistics, the details are actually more interesting than the headline figures. For starters, there are stark regional differences. Only Eastern Europe and Asia and Oceania boosted their spending. The rest of the world spent less — a lot less.

Africa reduced its spending by 5.3 percent, the first reduction in 11 years. But a closer look at the data makes clear that the continent’s governments haven’t suddenly become radical pacifists. Instead, all North African countries with the exception of Morocco actually increased military spending at rates comparable to previous years. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, most countries stayed on their previous trajectories, as well.

The big outlier is Angola. The southern Africa country cut its military budget by a whopping 42 percent, the first real reduction since it embarked on a spending spree in 2002 after the government had regained control of all diamond mines and oil wells in the aftermath of the civil war.

Angola is still essentially a military dictatorship, so the spending cuts are not representative of a changing government doctrine. Instead, historically low oil prices have battered the heavily oil-dependent economy and government budget, making drastic cuts to military spending all but inevitable.

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SIPRI chart

Some other oil-reliant governments across Africa also cut their spending, but more modestly than Angola did. This seems to indicate that these countries have either diversified their economy much better than Angola has …. or have much more pressing security concerns that make continued high spending necessary despite eventual financial collapse.

Overall, Africa spent 68 percent more on its militaries in 2015 than it did in 2006.

In South America, the situation is comparable to Africa, with Venezuela taking the role of Angola and cutting its military spending by 64 percent. Overall, South America and North America slightly decreased their spending, while Central America and the Caribbean increased spending by 3.7 percent.

Obviously, the United States is North America’s most prolific military spender — $596 billion in 2015, a 36-percent share of the whole world’s spending on troops and weapons.

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Iraqi M-1 tanks on parade | Wikimedia photo

This is actually more than 20 percent below America’s most recent spending peak in 2010, a result of troop draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the automatic “sequestration” budget cuts.

Western and Central Europe essentially maintained their military spending, laying out 0.2 percent less than in the previous year. European spending is down 8.5 percent since 2006.

But the researchers believe that military spending could rise again in this part of the world. “For the first time since 2009, the number of countries in the subregion that increased expenditure was higher than the number of those that reduced spending.” Austerity measures are declining while the threat from terrorism — and Russia — seems to be increasing.

This brings us to the regions that have actually increased spending. All sub-regions of Asia and Oceania boosted their military budgets by at least 0.9 percent — and most individual countries did, as well.

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Russian Su-30 fighter | Wikimedia photo

China is obviously the most relevant in this part of the world, representing 49 percent of the regional total. Beijing boosted outlays by 7.4 percent and retained its position as the world’s second-biggest spender. The region at large increased military spending by 64 percent from 2006 to 2015, with only Fiji recording a significant decrease of 23 percent.

But no region increased spending more drastically than Eastern Europe did, at 7.5 percent, contributing to an overall 80-percent boost in military budgets over the last decade. Russia obviously drives this development, both directly by way of Moscow’s own 7.5-percent increase in spending, and indirectly by compelling neighboring countries to re-arm in order to deter Russian aggression.

Still, Russia actually lost its third place in the world rankings to Saudi Arabia. The Middle East country now spends $87.2 billion a year on its military, which actually represents only a 5.7-percent increase over 2014. Saudi Arabia placed before Russia due to the weak ruble, which made Russian military investments cheaper in dollar terms.

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A Saudi F-15 during a Red Flag exercise in the United States | U.S. Defense Department photo

SIPRI’s researchers did not include estimates for the Middle East overall because too many countries in the region did not provide public military expenditure data — and independent estimates are unreliable.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the most interesting country with sufficient data is Iraq, which stands out for its record spending increases over the last decade as it tries to rebuild its shattered armed forces. The Iraqi government increased military spending by 536 percent since 2006 and 35 percent since 2014, bringing the total in 2015 to $13.1 billion.

In contrast, Iran’s military expenditure decreased by 30 percent since 2006, with the largest part of these cuts taking place in 2012 and 2013, after the European Union enacted economic and financial sanctions. As sanctions began to lift in January 2016, experts expect Iran’s military spending to increase in coming years.

Looking at the long-term data, military spending seems to rise and fall based more on economic cycles and long-term policy decisions than on short-term shocks and conflicts. Russia’s recent spate of foreign interventions came after Pres. Vladimir Putin boosted military spending.

Western and Central Europe seem to spend mostly in years when their overall balance sheets look good — and Saudi Arabia is decreasing its rate of spending growth despite its ongoing intervention in Yemen.

MIGHTY CULTURE

PBR just dropped a beer with no alcohol and a beer with extra alcohol

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is celebrating its 175th birthday the same way most people celebrate their (18th, 19th, 20th and…) 21st birthday–with a whole lot of beer. However, PBR has a new spin on their own birthday gift this year. They are debuting two very different beers: one a totally non-alcoholic beer, and the other a more alcoholic beer (from 4.6% ABV to 6.5% ABV).

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In true yin and yang fashion–they come in black and white cans. Debauchery and purity. Dark and light. Stumbling into a Little Caesars at 2 a.m. Being the DD driving your buddies to buy Little Caesars at 2 a.m.


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According to PBR, both beers are modeled after the same taste profile as standard PBR. In case you are unfamiliar with binge drinking on a budget, that taste can only be described as “fun water.” This is not to say that PBR tastes bad. It’s arguably the best bang-for-your-buck beer out there.

Please do not let beer snobs fool you. There is a reason most beer snobs end up brewing their own god-awful wheat sludge in a basement– because they are ashamed, deep down, that the neighbors will see their pretentious witchcraft-beer rituals.

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It’s really refreshing to know that PBR is finally going to bring some easy drinkability to the non-alcoholic beer market. Gone are the days of choking down a couple of lukewarm O’Douls (gag) with your dad. We’re so happy you’ve kept the promise for yourself to bend your situation towards self-improvement and hold yourself accountable all these years…but damn it those things taste like liquid saltines with no salt.

Now next time that weird distant uncle nobody really knows shows up to the 4th of July party ready to turn it into a rager–you can just toss him a white non-alcoholic can of PBR. It’ll taste great, and he won’t know the difference. You just may save that above-ground pool from his antics this year…

On the flip side– think of all the possibilities now that PBR can get you drunk before 20 beers! Think about all the conversations you can see through to the end, instead of going to take a whiz every 6 minutes! Think of the 10s of dollars you can save! Think about only having to use your car keys to shotgun 10 PBRs instead of 12!

All joking aside this is great news. You and your buddy fresh out of AA can still enjoy some PBRs together in the summer heat. Throw some brats on the grill. Get too hot and move inside. Watch some underwhelming baseball game. Live life.

This is of course, if you’re over the age of 21.

If you’re a 20-year-old man or woman, you can ship out overseas. You can be trusted with millions of dollars of equipment. You can be trusted with the responsibility of defending your life and your brothers in arms.

But for some reason, you still can not be trusted with a six pack of PBR. Hell, depending on the state, you can’t even buy that nice new white can of non-alcoholic PBR.

But that is a thought for a different day.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thief who stole from the National Archives will go to jail

French historian, Antonin DeHays, who stole almost 300 U.S. dog tags from fallen Airmen and around 134 other items, which included identification cards, a bible, and pieces of downed US aircraft, has been sentenced to 364 days in prison.

Approximately 291 Dog Tags and 134 other items were sneaked out by Antonin DeHays during his visits to the National Archives in College Park in Maryland. All of the dog tags belonged to fallen airmen who fell in Europe in 1944. Those tags bore the cruelties of war and Antonin DeHays made advantage of that when selling these items online.


“Burnt, and show some stains of fuel, blood… very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash,” DeHays told a potential buyer in a text message.

On another dog tag, he texted a potential buyer that the item was “salty” or visibly war-damaged while also marketing the “partially burned” appearance of a Red Cross identification card.

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The National Archives Building in College Park, Maryland.
(National Archives)

Not only did he sell most of the items, some of the items were used as a trade in return for rare experiences. He gave a brass dog tag to a military aviation museum in exchange for the chance to sit inside a Spitfire airplane, according to the Department of Justice.

On April 9, 2018, a federal judge in Maryland sentenced DeHays to 364 days in prison for the theft of government records, and ordered him to pay more than $43,000 in restitution to the unwitting buyers who purchased the stolen goods.

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 reasons why infantrymen are perfect for the SWAT team

Many troops enlist with hopes of finding something bigger than themselves. After their contract is up, it’s not uncommon for the battle-hardened grunt to feel lost in a world now unfamiliar. All the while, they’re told that there’s nothing out there for them but flipping burgers or greeting customers at some supermarket.

Then, there’s the world of law enforcement. The police force is, and always will be, trying to scoop up as many of these former-military badasses as possible. In terms of transitions, going from the armed forces into law enforcement isn’t that much of a stretch: you’ll face similar hours, do similar tasks, and be surrounded by similar camaraderie all in attempts to promote greater good.

With the utmost respect to law enforcement officers, however, many infantrymen aren’t interested in waiting at the local doughnut shop until it’s time to write parking tickets and toss the same village drunk into the lockup — again. They want something bigger, something badass, something that rewards their ability to kick in doors. This is where the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team comes in.

For many, the only real change between the infantry and SWAT is the uniform. Here’s why:


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You’ll even do the exact same training. Being an infantryman just gets you ready for the same ol’ ride.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

The job description is nearly identical

Heavy ballistic armor? Check. Assigned weapon? Check. Breaking down doors to catch bad guys? Oh, yeah — check.

The SWAT team’s objective is to keep the peace at a level higher than is expected of the average cop. While every police officer should be trained and ready to fight at a moment’s notice should the situation arise, the SWAT team provides that extra oomph needed in intense situations, like bank robberies, hostage negotiations, and high-level drug cartel activities.

Instead of infiltrating a compound in Kandahar to catch an HVT bomb maker, SWAT officers are infiltrate compounds back home to catch drug kingpins.

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Did I mention that you’ll spend a lot of time training at the range?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

The requirements are basically the same

Potential applicants must be physically fit, hard working, excellent shots, mentally and emotionally strong, decisive under stress, and able to communicate under hazardous conditions.

The help-wanted ad reads almost exactly like a description of a post-deployment infantryman.

The only thing holding an infantryman back from immediately joining the SWAT team is that, typically, membership requires three years of prior experience in law enforcement. I can’t speak for every police department, but that requirement can be lessened for exceptionally badass applicants.

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You really will be training… a lot. Which shouldn’t be too far off from infantry life.

(Photo by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt)

The structure almost mirrors the military

Between SWAT teams and military life, the chain of command is identical and the organizational structure is the same.

Being selected for SWAT isn’t easy. Potential recruits go through a grueling process and only the best of the best can make it through to the end. But if you do, you’re basically in the military again.

You’ve still got a battle buddy (you’ll call them “partner” instead), you still work in four-man teams (squads) and there’ll be, on average, 15 teams per district. Since high-stakes situations aren’t happening every day, you’re going to be training and continually honing your skills with your team.

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Officers got each other’s back, literally and figuratively.

(Photo by Sgt. John Crosby)

The brotherhood is just as tight

If there’s one thing that damn-near every veteran misses about the military, it’s the camaraderie. Knowing that the people to your left and right would die for you without a second thought is hard to come by at some desk job.

SWAT is not a place to go if you’re looking to make a name for yourself at the expense of others. Real SWAT teams live as a unit, work as a team, and train until everyone becomes as close as family.

This level of trust in another human can only be formed in groups like the military and SWAT.

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Military service is very common among law enforcement officers — especially in SWAT. You’ll fit right in.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower)

The good you do is in your community

As a SWAT officer, you’re not deploying for 12 months at a time and leaving your family behind. You’re still going to come home and sleep in your own bed most nights.

Now, don’t get that twisted: There will be bad nights. There will be moments that go horribly wrong. There will be missions that require you to be gone for extended periods of time. SWAT officers, like infantrymen, are over-worked and under-appreciated.

But doing the difficult thing to promote the greater good is exactly what you’re signing up for — again.

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