The US' most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

The Marine Corps is nearing the end of testing for a new heavy-lift helicopter expected to be a game-changer for the service.

The CH-53K King Stallion is on track to enter service in 2019, replacing aging and worn CH-53 Echo heavy-lift helicopters.


While the aircrafts look similar, and have comparable footprints, program managers said April 9, 2018, at the annual Sea-Air-Space exposition that the new aircraft represents a leap forward in capability and intelligence.

“[This is] the most powerful helicopter the United States has ever fielded,” said Marine Col. Hank Vanderborght, the Corps’ H-53 program manager. “Not only the most powerful, the most modern and also the smartest.”

The King Stallion recently lifted an external load of 36,000 pounds into a hover and hoisted a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle into the air, expanding a capability envelope that is ultimately expected to see the new helicopter carrying three times the load that its predecessor could handle.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A CH-53K King Stallion aircraft prepares to land at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Jupiter, Fla., March 8, 2016.
(US Marine Corps photo)

With flight tests ongoing since October 2015, the King Stallion has logged more than 800 flight hours and is headed into the final stages of testing before initial operational capability sometime in 2019

Smart controls and a fly-by-wire system make the aircraft safer to fly and decrease the workload for the pilot, Vanderborght said.

“A month ago, I got to fly the 53K for the first time,” said Vanderborght, a CH-53E pilot by trade. “It is absolutely night and day between Echo and the Kilo. I could have pretty much flown the entire flight without touching my controls.”

That matters, he said, because in “99-plus percent” of aviation mishaps, a major cause is human error.

“In degraded visual environments, we lose sight of the ground and crash the aircraft. If you’re able to take the human out of the loop, you’re going to increase that safety factor by multiple Xs,” he said. “That’s what the 53K is going to do for the Marines.”

The CH-53K is equipped to fly so the pilot “pretty much could be sipping on a martini while the aircraft does its thing,” Vanderborght said.

All that capability comes with a price tag, but it’s not as high as some feared it would be.

In 2017, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., raised concerns that the per unit cost for the King Stallion was climbing, to $122 million apiece in development. Program officials said the aircraft was never set to cost that much in production.

Vanderborght said the unit cost of the aircraft is now set to come in at $87 million. While that means the King Stallion will still be the most expensive helo the Marine Corps has ever bought, it’s below the service’s initial cost estimate of $89 million in production.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 reasons why Hawkeye is the most effective Avenger

Look, I don’t like him either. You think I wanted Black Widow to be the one who couldn’t be revived in Avengers: Endgame? If anything I wish Hawkeye could have died twice – or better yet, a million times while trying to cut a bargain with Dormammu. Unlike Dormammu, I would never get tired of that. Unfortunately, if we were all caught with Hawkeye somehow being away from the Avengers for all eternity, they would cease to be an effective fighting force.


I won’t even get into how one man took down cartels, terrorists, and gangsters worldwide.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Hawkward.

1. The Avengers are 7-0 with Hawkeye

This is probably the most important reason. As one aptly-named Redditor pointed out, while some of you might believe this is coincidence or luck, they are also 0-4 in battle without Hawkeye. Why did Thanos win in Infinity War? I’m not saying it wasn’t because Hawkeye wasn’t there but I’m also not ruling it out.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Black Panther is wearing a Vibranium suit and Hawkeye is fighting him with a stick while wearing a t-shirt.

2. Hawkeye is fundamentally better than every other Avenger

Is Hawkeye a demi-god? No. Does he have billions of dollars? No. Sorcery? Super Serum? A metal body? No, no, no. Hawkeye is a guy, just some dude, who sees really, really well. Let’s see if skinny Steve Rogers can get punched in the face by Thanos all day. We’ve already seen what happens when Tony Stark is wearing Tom Ford and not Iron Man. Even though he basically just wears clothes and shoots a bow and arrow (albeit with some trick arrows), he’s still flying around in space, fighting aliens, and taking on killer robots.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

At least you know one of them can help with the mortgage.

3. Hawkeye is the glue that keeps the Avengers together

Where did the Avengers go when their chips were down? Hawkeye’s house. Where even his wife had to point out what a freaking mess they all were. He recruited Black Widow and turned arguably the most powerful Avenger – Scarlet Witch – into a real sorcerer just by pointing out that he was fighting an army of robots with a bow and arrow because that is his job.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Hawkeye: 1, Avengers: 0

4. The Avengers are lost without Hawkeye

Literally. The one time Hawkeye was actually playing for the other team, he just completely kicked the crap out of them. Agent Coulson got killed and two of the more powerful Avengers were spread into the wind. He’s lucky Natasha hit him in the head with a railing because there’s no way they’d have beaten Loki – or even come together as a team – without Hawkeye. Hawkeye became the Avengers command and control center, turning a bunch of riff-raff into a coordinated fighting force.

Even when pitting Hawkeye against Wave II Avengers, there’s still no comparison. He tases Scarlet Witch and gets the upper hand against Quicksilver.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

“You exist because I let you.”

5. At least two of the Avengers are alive because Hawkeye let them live

One of the first clues we get to Black Widow and Hawkeye’s shared past is that Hawkeye was supposed to kill her and decided to recruit her for S.H.I.E.L.D instead. When Thor was powerless in New Mexico, Agent Coulson decided to send another agent in to stop the God of Thunder, who was just mowing down his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Hawkeye, instead of ending Thor, Hawkeye let him live.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Bonus: Hawkeye does sh*t other Avengers barely pull off, if at all

In Endgame, Spider-Man in a powered suit is overcome by Thanos’ forces. Captain Marvel in all her glory eventually gets taken down. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is running through tunnels and rubble away from crawling doom carrying the Infinity Gauntlet, simply handing it off to the Black Panther.

For the record, he’s also the only Avenger to hold an Infinity Stone and not whine about it endlessly. After seeing Hawkeye throw Cap’s shield, I’m pretty sure he was also pretending he couldn’t pick up Thor’s hammer.

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 ways to get a last-second ‘beach body’

If you want to look good without a shirt on, you need to sweat, eat clean, and lift weights over a long period of time. That’s sort of a no-brainer. If you want to look the way Dax Shepard, Ryan Hansen, and The Rock do on Instagram, though, you will also need a few tricks straight out of the movies. You see, celebrities and Instagram stars don’t actually look that good all the time. They prep their bodies for upcoming projects the way you prep your house before company comes over. (It’s not really that neat all the time, right?) So with a week to go before you and the family hit sand and surf, it’s time to change up your food, hydration, and exercise regimen to put the final touches on your look. Plus, a little baby oil can’t help to make the muscle you do have stand out. Here’s what you need to do to look good this coming weekend.


1. Drink up

It’s a myth that drinking too much liquid will make you look bloated. Actually, when your body sense dehydration, it responds by storing whatever water you do drink under the skin surface, creating a puffy look. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of H2O a day, and avoid caffeinated soda and coffee, which do cause fluid retention and increase the odds of bloating.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

(Photo by Joey Nicotra)

2. Get lubed

Baby oil will work. So will olive oil. Both nourish dry skin while adding an all-important sheen to your look. This is key because a shiny surface accentuates the ripples and bulges you’ve been building at the gym, while generously glossing over less-than-perfect areas.

3. Flex first

In the minutes after you do a weights workout, your biceps and pecs are filled with blood, pumping them up to size XL. If big is what you’re going for, hit the gym right before you hit the beach.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

(Photo by Arthur Edelman)

4. Wax your back

Yeah, it sounds sketchy. But a bear rug on your backside isn’t just unbecoming, it also disrupts your body’s symmetry and smooth lines, making you look shorter and wider than you really are. True, you could shave it off, but waxing looks better and lasts longer.

5. Hit the steam room

Did you know that the average race car driver sweats out 8 to 10 pounds during a race? While chronic dehydration can cause your body to store water in ways that make you look bloated (see above) a quick trip to the steam room or sauna will help you whittle your way down a size if you’re looking for an 11th-hour Hail Mary. Fifteen minutes is fine — too much steaming will make you feel dizzy and fatigued.

6. Hit those vanity muscles

With just seven days, now is not the time to focus on muscle-specific exercises. You want compound movements — workouts that load up several major muscle groups at once — to get the most mileage out of your sweat sessions. Five that get the job done (do three sets of 10 reps each, once a day): Burpees, lunges, pushups, pullups, and planks (skip the reps for planks and do three 60-second holds).

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

7. Eat protein, not carbs

In the long haul, skimping on carbs is stupid: They’re the primary source for workout energy and exactly what your body needs for a 3 PM pick-me-up. But in the short term, when you deplete your body’s store of carbs, you force it to burn fat for fuel, temporarily helping you lose more weight. Meanwhile, lean protein helps build lean muscle, so throw another T-bone on the grill.

8. Stand up

Your mama always told you to quit slouching, and evidence suggests when it comes to beach bodies, she was onto something. The straighter you stand, the taller you look, and the slimmer you appear. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades together as you walk.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

(Photo by Christopher Campbell)

9. Borrow some bronzer

You didn’t hear this from us, but using bronzing powder down the sides of your abs and along that V-shaped area from your hips to your privates, can give the illusion of sculpting where there is none. Just be sure to blend it with the surrounding skin so it doesn’t look like you’re headed to a Halloween costume party.

10. Skip the salt

Nothing makes your body hang onto excess water like too much sodium. While a little salt is good (it’s an electrolyte that helps regulate important organ functions), most of us eat way more than we should. This week, be extra-conscious of not adding salt to your breakfast eggs and dinner veggies.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

The idea of shooting drones out of a cannon started with this

Would you take targeting orders from an autonomous artillery shell? That’s the future the Army imagined in 1979.


A patent filed in that year and awarded in 1981 detailed an artillery round that would be fired towards a target area and then deploy a parachute. Then, it would slowly descend to the battlefield, taking pictures or video and identifying targets below. It would then feed the images and target positions to artillery batteries so the targets could be killed.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Figure: US Army patent application

That’s right, the artillery shells would’ve been feeding targets to the gun bunnies.

This would’ve reduced the need to put artillery observers into harm’s way when fighting against massed enemies. Instead of sending out a maneuver force or aerial reconnaissance patrol to find the enemy and feed targeting information back, the Army could just fire some rounds out there.

The system did include a “man-in-the-loop” function meaning that, like modern drones, a human would make the final decision on which targets would be killed. A crew chief would sit in a targeting van with a light-sensitive computer display. As the drone’s imagery and proposed targets came up on the screen, this chief could designate new targets or remove target designations as necessary with a light pen.

The patent author specifically noted the importance of the chief completing this task since most computer systems of the day were prone to identifying large rocks and bushes as targets. Also, the remains of a destroyed tank still look very tank-like and could cause the computers on the artillery rounds to keep designating an already dead target.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Modern battlefields contain more collateral damage concerns than many people envisioned during the Cold War, so this man-in-the-loop would also be useful as a final check to make sure a family SUV isn’t targeted.

Once the computer had its final list of targets, more camera rounds would be fired at moving targets. These would contain explosive canisters instead of parachutes and antennas. The rounds would identify their designated targets, predict where the vehicles would be at the end of the rounds’ flight, and then steer themselves to their final impact points.

Fixed targets identified by the system could be engaged by standard artillery rounds. Each round’s impact point would be relayed to the firing artillery battery so that gunners could adjust their firing solutions if they missed.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
(Figure: US Army patent application)

The patent also mentions the possibility of using a similar technique with helicopters. In that case, missiles would be used instead of artillery rounds and the human in the loop would ride in the helicopter, disapproving or adding targets to the computer from there.

Also, in place of the first missile being used to photograph or film the battlefield, the helicopter could pop up from behind cover to grab the first image.

In the end, there’s no evidence that the rounds were ever completed. The Army had already experimented with placing cameras in artillery rounds in the 1970s, but that project was canceled due to technical problems. The patent for the autonomous system was filed in 1979 after the earlier program was already shut down.

The Army’s plan to use aerial drones to target artillery lived on, though. Before drones were armed, they would designate targets for artillery or cruise missile strikes, a trick they can still do when necessary. In civil wars like those in Ukraine and Syria, both sides have used drones to spot targets for their artillery batteries.

Today, it’s the Navy that’s leading the charge for firing drones out of cannons. Their LOCUST program calls for dozens of drones to work together to canvas and attack a target. While other drones could be fitted into the program later, the ones currently being used are fired out of air cannons before spreading their wings and flying to their target.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The first US casualty of the Gulf War was a downed pilot

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher was flying his F/A-18 Hornet 100 miles west of Baghdad on Jan. 17, 1991. It was just minutes into the first night of Operation Desert Storm, the U.S.-led coalition’s offensive to expel the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. Speicher’s plane was shot down that night – but by what?

He was the first American combat casualty in the war.


The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Speicher was listed as missing in action, presumed taken prisoner by the Iraqi Army, after being briefly listed as killed. The Pentagon didn’t actually know. The military didn’t even really know how Speicher’s Hornet had been taken down. The Navy’s initial conclusion was that Speicher was taken down by a land-based surface-to-air missile and maintained that throughout the next decade. But other American pilots operating in the area that night reported the presence of an Iraqi MiG-25.

That Foxbat’s pilot was Lt. Zuhair Dawoud, who managed to evade a large formation of attacking American planes, singling out Speicher’s Hornet and firing a R-40D missile that exploded directly beneath Speicher’s cockpit. With the plane shredded, Speicher bailed out as Dawoud turned to find another target. Speicher did not survive long.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines patrol the Haditha Triad in Iraq’s Anbar Province. It was the 3/3 Marines who found Speicher’s remains.

The pilots in the air that night knew Speicher was taken down by the MiG-25 Foxbat. His aircraft crashed 48 miles south of Qadessiya, where the wreckage remained. According to War Is Boring, the Hornet’s digital recorder was recovered from Iraq in 1995 and confirmed the missile hit. The CIA would not confirm Speicher’s death until 2001, and even then his body had still not been recovered.

Even after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military was not able to determine Speicher’s fate. Eventually, they found that he was never captured by the Iraqis but rather was buried by Bedouins who found his body after the shootdown. Marines occupying Anbar Province in 2008 found his remains and sent them back to the U.S. They were positively identified by his jawbone.

Intel

One of the world’s shortest sniper rifles is actually a long rifle in disguise

At 26 inches long, the Stealth Recon Scout by Desert Tech is the shortest sniper rifle you’ll ever see. Thanks to the same bullpup design made famous by FN Herstal’s P90 sub-machine, it’s nearly a foot shorter than conventional sniper rifles.


Related: This is the ultimate special operations weapon

The design places the gun’s feeding mechanism in the buttstock, behind the grip and the trigger. This allows for a shorter overall weapon for the given barrel length while maintaining all the advantages of a traditional sniper rifle.

The Stealth Recon Scout is also versatile in that it can be adapted to individual mission requirements by changing the caliber and length. It can be adapted for use by a police sniper shooting 50 yards away or a military sniper shooting a mile down range.

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R66gFazyWj8

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Articles

These are the Air Force’s 10 most expensive planes to operate

1. E-4 Nightwatch

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year


Who knew the President’s mobile command post was an E-4? With all the latest and greatest gear to keep flying in the midst of all-out nuclear war and all its top secret countermeasures, it should come as no surprise that each of the Air Force’s four converted 747s cost $159,529 per hour to fly.

2. B-2 Spirit

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A KC-135 Stratotanker from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., refuels a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB, Mo., during a refueling training mission (U.S. Air Force photo)

The B-2 literally costs more than its weight in gold. The Air Force’s 20 B-2 bombers run along a similar price tag: $130,159 per hour.

3. C-5 Galaxy

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Ground crews unload a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft at Bagram Airfield, in Parwan province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Henry Chan)

The largest of the USAF cargo haulers, the C-5 can carry two Abrams tanks, ten armored fighting vehicles, a chinook helicopter, an F-16, or an A-10 and only costs $100,941 an hour to get the stuff to the fight.

4. OC-135 Open Skies

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kyle Kindig, left, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Riley Neads, right, operate air cannons from deicing trucks to blow snow off of an OC-135 Open Skies (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

This plane was designed to keep tabs on the armed forces belonging to the 2002 signatories of the Open Skies Treaty, which was is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. At $99,722 an hour, it’s one expensive overwatch.

5. E-8C Joint STARS

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
An E-8C Joint STARS from the 116th Air Control Wing, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., pulls away, May 1, 2012 after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 459th Air Refueling Wing (U.S. Air Force photo)

The airborne battle platform costs $70,780 to keep flying. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or Joint STARS, is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. Its primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.

6. B-52 Stratofortress

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A B-52 Stratofortress deployed to RAF Fairdford, England from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., prepares to air refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Griffiths)

Squeaking in just under the JSTARS cost, The B-52 BUFF (look it up) runs $70,388 per flying hour.

7. F-35A Lightning II

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A 33rd Fighter Wing F-35A Lightning II powers down on the Duke Field flightline for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sam King)

Despite its ballooning development costs, the F-35 isn’t as expensive to fly as one might think, at only $67,550 an hour. (And that fact is one of the airplane’s selling points.)

8. CV-22 Osprey

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A 71st Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey receives fuel from a 522 SOS, MC-130J Combat Shadow II aircraft, over the skies of New Mexico.

The USAF’s special operations tiltrotor will run you $63,792 per hour.

9. B-1B Lancer

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer aircraft banks away after receiving fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft, not shown, during a mission over Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway/Released)

The B-1 makes up sixty percent of the Air Force’s bomber fleet and runs $61,027 per flying hour.

10. F-22 Raptor

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
A F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly off the wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker on their way to Iraq. The F-22s are supporting the U.S. lead coalition against Da’esh. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

The “best combat plane in the world” only cost $58,059 an hour to fly. Small price to pay for the best.

Honorable Mention: A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka “Warthog”)

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo byAirman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

The BRRRRRT costs a measly (by comparison, anyway) $19,051.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US troops make pro-Assad forces pay for attack on American allies

A U.S. attack on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad killed more than 100 in the country’s north on Feb. 8, and the regime came roaring back with airstrikes of its own on rebel forces near Damascus.


The airstrikes from Assad killed 21 and injured 125, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Feb. 8.

Assad’s strikes followed what the U.S. called an “unprovoked attack” by his forces on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of anti-Assad fighters the U.S. has trained and supported for years.

The U.S. responded with artillery, tanks, and rocket fire.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Syrian Arab trainees await commands from an instructor at a Syrian Democratic Forces’ rifle marksmanship range in Northern Syria, July 31, 2017. Small arms and ammunition represent the majority of support from Coalition Forces to the SDF, the most capable and reliable force in Syria currently making daily gains to reclaim Raqqah from the hold of ISIS. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mitchell Ryan)

In the exchange, no U.S. forces were reported hurt or killed, but 500 of Assad’s were said to be engaged, many wounded, and 100 dead.

“We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from Daesh in September 2017,” a U.S. military official told Reuters.

The pro-Assad forces were “likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for [ISIS] from 2014 to 2017.”

But Syrian state media characterized the event differently, saying the U.S. had bombed “popular local forces fighting” ISIS, and that it was a U.S. “attempt to support terrorism.” The Assad regime and its Russian backers have an established history of calling anyone who doesn’t support the regime a terrorist.

Though some of the anti-Assad resistance has become entwined with Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, the U.S. vets the groups it works with and maintains that the SDF are moderate rebels who were instrumental in the defeat of ISIS.

Syria wants the U.S. out, but it won’t go without a fight

Syria’s air offensive on rebel-held areas near Damascus has been going on for days, with local reports claiming that airstrikes from the Syrian government and Russia killed scores of civilians.

Activists and first responders said that at least 55 people were killed after the airstrikes on Feb. 6.

Syria has seen a dramatic uptick in air raids by Russian and Syrian jets after a Russian jet was downed by Syrian rebels using a portable anti-air missile system.

Also Read: Combat between Turkey and US-backed militias is getting ugly

Though Russia announced its forces would withdraw from Syria in December 2017, the recent rash of renewed strikes shows they have stayed put, and are likely responding to an increased need to support the Assad regime.

In January 2018, Syria vowed that it would eject U.S. troops from the country, but since then the U.S. announced plans to stay there long enough to counter Iran’s growing influence.

Meanwhile, the U.S. began a more vocal campaign of accusing Syria and Russia of using chemical weapons in the conflict.

The U.S. has repeatedly flirted with the idea of carrying out another punitive strike against the Assad regime as reports of gas attacks grow more numerous.

MIGHTY CULTURE

9 killer photos of Marines taking on the heat in 29 Palms

Accompanied by nothing but sand, rocks and the desert sun, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division continue to prepare for the unrelenting forces ahead by training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 15-July 19, 2019.

US Marines of Invictus participated in a five-day field operation where they were evaluated as squads, based on how well they shoot, move and communicate toward their objective.


The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

US Marine Corps Pfc. Trevor M. Banks, fireteam leader, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, moves through a breach to attack an objective during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

A US Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, attacks an objective during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

US Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, prepare to breach an objective during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

A US Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, performs leaders reconnaissance before conducting a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

A US Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, engages a target utilizing the M240G during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

A US Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, communicates with his unit utilizing an AN/PRC-152 during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Luis R. Martinez, left, and Staff Sgt. Karl R. Benton, right, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, fill out evaluation sheets during squad attacks at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael Campbell, Intelligence Specialist, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, prepares an unmanned aerial system during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

A US Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, engages a target utilizing the M240G during a squad attack at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, July 15, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Aaron Harshaw

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How ‘battlefield acupuncture’ helps Air Force Ravens stay in the fight

Dressed in a gi with a purple belt, the flight crew chief with the 89th Maintenance Group then takes turns with the ABU-clad Ravens executing a fireman’s carry followed in rapid succession by throwing the opponent to the mat and a ground-grappling technique to wrench hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and forearms in a direction they were never designed to move.


The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Tech Sgt. Jessie Sosa demonstrates a jiu-jitsu throw for Senior Airman Anthony Vallejos. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

They repeat the succession of moves, fine-tuning technique, until the desired effect on the opponent is achieved – pain and complete submission.

When Sosa, an instructor and competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, asks his students if they had any questions, a Raven poses a query not directly related to close-quarters hand-to-hand combat.

“What are those things in you ears?”

It gives Sosa a chance to explain another technique that allows him to absorb the strain and pain of competitive combat without the use of a pain medication that may change his operational status to “Duties Not Including Flying” (DNIF)– Battlefield acupuncture.

The five small gold needles in each of Sosa’s ears ensure his pain is under control prior to performing aircraft maintenance, pre-flight checks, and loading of C-40 and C-32 aircraft used to transport the Vice President, Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Defense, and the First Lady and other government agency heads, dignitaries, and diplomats from Joint Base Andrews to overseas destinations.

Read Also: These Army docs are revolutionizing pain management – especially for burns

“We plan to support the Air Force’s initiative to complement western medicine with acupuncture care for service men and women in accordance with the May 2010 Pain Management Task Force objective and recommendation 4.2.1. Through this objective/recommendation, the Pain Management Task Force sought to enhance care to our DoD and VA beneficiaries by fostering this specific goal: “Incorporate integrative and alternative therapeutic modalities into a patient centered plan of care,” said Dr. Stephen Burns, Air Force Acupuncture Program.

Performing his mission can often inflict as much pain as a jiu jitsu match.

“The wear and tear of being a crew chief on the C-40 comes from the long hours crossing over the pond, which is roughly around eight or nine hours sitting in the seat,” said Sosa. “You don’t have a lot of mobility in those seats, so a lot of strain in your lower back.”

“The cargo space is limited. When we carry high-profile passengers, such as the Vice President, they bring a lot of communications gear with them. You’re crouched over in a cargo compartment loading all these heavy Pelican cases. It’s like Tetris, maximizing that space you have a lot of (physical) strain and you tend to pull your back muscles or your quads from doing all that labor working in the cramped cargo compartment.”

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Tech Sgt. Jessie Sosa performs a preflight check on the C-40 used to transport government officials and dignitaries at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Oct. 10, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Western medicine would often dictate the prescribing of drugs, such as muscle relaxers or opioids, to control such severe back pain. However, those medications, which can alter mental capacity and judgment, would immediately disqualify Sosa from operational flight status, especially considering the importance of his passengers and cargo.

When Sosa’s work aches were combined with the pain of participating in combat sports, like wrestling and jiu jitsu, over-the-counter remedies offer little relief.

“I did yoga, Epsom salt baths, tried Bengay, any type of lotion that would help loosen up the muscle aches that I had. There’s nothing that worked,” said Sosa. “I can’t be drugged up while I’m working on Air Force Two, or teaching, because it blurs my vision. Being a mechanic you don’t want to have blurry vision on a mission. So basically, I just stay away from medications.”

Then Sosa discovered Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) through a co-worker who often used it for relief from strained joints and back pain while doing Cross-fit workouts.

Sosa sought out Dr. Thomas Piazza, a 22-year Air Force physician, who is now the director of the Air Force Acupuncture Program at the JBA Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Center, for a consultation.

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A patient’s ear after five needles were inserted by former Air Force Colonel, Dr. Stephen Burns, during a Battlefield Acupuncture training session. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

“The first time I met Piazza, he really analyzed my body and really understood how much stress my body went through,” said Sosa. “He recommended Battlefield Acupuncture and said that it would definitely help me maintain my body and I’d still be able to do what I love to do … The first time I did Battlefield Acupuncture, it worked immediately on my lower back. So instead of being DNIF, I was able to take a mission the next day and fly overseas for eight hours and accomplish my mission without pain.”

Battlefield Acupuncture, which was developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, is a specific subset of the traditional acupuncture found in Eastern medicine. Small, semi-permanent, gold needles are applied to five points in each ear to provide effective and rapid pain management.

See Also: 17 photos that show the pain of MPs getting Tazed and maced

According to Piazza, Battlefield Acupuncture works because the majority of the sensory nerve connections from the body culminate in specific areas in the brain, which are in close proximity to the sensory fibers coming from the ears. The entire body, and its organs, has corresponding points mapped on our ears. Inserting a needle in a particular point on the ear will activate the nerves in its corresponding part of the body and alleviate pain.

The procedure has been greeted enthusiastically by the military not only because of its results, but also the ease of application, portability and training in its use.

“BFA, in its elegant simplicity, has been designed so that many people can use it,” said Piazza, who coordinates and performs BFA training across the military.

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Tech. Sgt. Jessie Sosa receives a Battlefield Acupuncture treatment from Dr. Thomas Piazza. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

“The technique is standardized, and everybody’s learning the same thing. It’s made a huge difference in the spread of Battlefield Acupuncture across the services. It only takes about four hours to train an individual. Approximately half is slideshow instruction, and about half is hands-on practicing with artificial ears, and, when circumstances allow, we have live volunteer patients come in so they can get the hands-on skills,” he added.

According to Dr. Stephen Burns, a 27-year Air Force veteran also working at the Air Force Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Center, the needles can be administered quickly and remain in for days while the patient returns to work with minimal discomfort.

“Generally speaking, we put a needle in and have the first-time patient walk around to make sure there are no side effects,” said Burns. “Even then, we can do a complete treatment in less than 10 minutes. If the personnel are really practiced, and the patient’s gotten many treatments, you are able to treat a person in two or three minutes. They (acupuncture treatments) have very profound effects for about 80, 85 percent of patients. They will usually reduce their pain by at least 50 percent. And it may last for a few days or sometimes weeks, sometimes longer.”

Now Read: This treatment for wounded warriors is ‘tubular’

In the approximately 10,000 BFA treatments the doctors of the Air Force Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Center have performed, Piazza estimates that side effects occur in a very small percentage of patients.

“Euphoria is our most common side effect and it occurs around 5 percent of the time. Emotional response, ear irritation, and wooziness/dizziness occur a little less than 5 percent of the time and nausea, passing out (needle reaction), and worsening symptoms occur less than 2 percent of the time,” said Piazza. “Longer-term problems, such as infection, are extremely rare, much less than 1 percent.”

According to Burns, the effectiveness of BFA is not only the pain relief for patients, but also how it positively impacts manning and readiness.

“Say I have somebody that has migraine headaches and they have to pull guard duty, if I give this guy narcotics, he can’t work, he can’t use his weapon. But if I can put ear needles in him, and he feels like, “I feel great. I can go to work. I’m not drowsy,” then that’s a huge force multiplier,” said Burns.

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Dr. Thomas Piazza holds a single gold needle used in the application of Battlefield Acupuncture for the relief of pain. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

 The needles, which are about one millimeter long with a flat disc on the end, come in a strip of eight in preloaded plastic applicators. The small size enables trained personnel to not only administer BFA treatments in a clinical setting but also in the field, hence the name – Battlefield Acupuncture.

“You can carry enough treatments for five, 10, 15 people in your BDUs,” said Burns. This has sparked interest in BFA within the community of Battlefield Airmen and other special forces, who see the treatment as way to maintain combat effectiveness.

If a team member is injured in combat and drugs to control pain must be administered, it may not only take the casualty out of the fight, but also one or more team members who must monitor and help remove the casualty.

During a training session with special-forces personnel, Burns was asked about just such a scenario.

“Right before the break somebody said, ‘Hey, Doc. Sometimes somebody gets shot and we have to put a tourniquet on him. When you put the tourniquet on him, after about a minute or two, they hurt so badly that somebody has to give that guy narcotics and then you got to watch him and make sure he’s breathing. Would this work?'”

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Students practice the application of Battlefield Acupuncture on each other and their instructor. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

 “So I had them come back after the break with tourniquets,” said Burns. “I said, ‘Let’s try it and see.’

“We put the tourniquets on and after about 30 seconds he says, ‘Yeah. That’s starting to hurt pretty good.’ After about a minute he’s like, ‘I can barely move my hands. This is killing me. I don’t think I could even grab a weapon’.

“We put in a needle and then the next needle in. I said ‘How do you feel?’ He said, ‘I don’t … That’s different. Wow.’ He’s starting to move his hands. I said, ‘Okay. Next needle, next needle.’ About 10 seconds apart, ‘Holy cow.’ He starts laughing and says, ‘Give me a weapon I think I could fire it.’ They showed themselves that, yeah, this could work.”

Despite the treatment’s name, the Air Force Surgeon General considers Battlefield Acupuncture a force readiness asset across all career fields. As such, BFA is a key component in the implementation of an Integrated Medicine approach throughout the force.

Now Read: The best martial arts for self defense, according to a SEAL

“The concept of integrative medicine is a philosophy based in traditional western medicine, but bringing in some techniques that we would consider alternative,” said Maj. Luanne Danes, a biomedical services corps fellow in the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. Her primary mission during her yearlong fellowship is to advance Integrative Medicine and Battlefield Acupuncture in the Air Force.

“The purpose of Battlefield Acupuncture is to provide another avenue for effective pain management. Something other than pills, like opioids. The benefit is that it’s non-addictive. There are no withdrawal symptoms. It’s very quick, painless, safe and effective. So, very much a better option instead of opioids. The surgeon general, congress, all of the DOD is trying to reduce our dependence and reliance on opioids,” said Danes.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
Maj. Luanne Danes is a biomedical services fellow at the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General’s office at Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

“Reducing the dependence on narcotics, like Percocet, different opioids, those type of medicines, will absolutely benefit the aircrew fields, because that’s all downtime. If you are injured, and we need to put you on an opioid for pain management, that takes you out of rotation. You’re not going to fly until we get you fixed again, and we get you off of those opioids. With Battlefield Acupuncture, we can utilize the technique instead of the opioids and get you up flying again much more quickly.”

Sosa is living proof of the advantages of BFA to force readiness as he not only stays on the job aboard Air Force Two, but also continues to train the Ravens who provide security for his aircraft in jiu jitsu to complement their already formidable skill set.

“Ravens usually train for outside environments. Guarding the jet outside, but on Air Force Two, the Ravens are required to be inside and outside, so the jiu jitsu training is focused mostly on indoor, confined environments that will help them subdue a person that’s trying to damage the aircraft or hurt the personnel around them,” said Sosa.

While the close-combat training adds to the capabilities of the young Ravens, Sosa’s use of Battlefield Acupuncture is also teaching them that there is a way to manage pain while remaining mission ready.

“I’ve put my body through a lot; a lot of tournaments and a lot of flight hours sitting in one seat for eight hours,” said Sosa. “I am a huge believer in battlefield acupuncture because it definitely helps me stay in the fight.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-22s are refining their roles as combat dogfighters

The Air Force F-22 has been refining it dog-fighting skills, assessing technical upgrades and testing air to air combat tactics during a recent Red Flag exercise in Nevada – designed to improve attack maneuvers and solidify emerging communications technologies and sensors, service officials said.


The aircraft, from the 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, have been performing air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air operations in mock combat scenarios.

“Red Flag incorporates all spectrums of warfare to include command and control, real-time intelligence, analysis and exploitation, and electronic warfare,” MSgt. Sanjay Allen, 57th Wing Public Affairs, Nellis Air Force Base, told Warrior Maven.

While Allen said the F-22s in particular are performing primarily air-to-air support, the aircraft is also shown to be effective as a close air support platform; it has performed close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
An F-22 Raptor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cody R. Miller)

Confronting simulated “Red” force ground and air threats, F-22s attacked targets such as mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites, added.

Although modern weapons such as long-range air-to-air missiles, and the lack of near-peer warfare in recent years, means dogfighting itself is less likely these days. However, as the service prepares for future contingencies against technologically advanced adversaries – maintaining a need to dogfight is of great significance. For instance, the emerging Chinese J-10 and Russian 5th Gen PAK-50 clearly underscore the importance of this.

Advanced dogfighting ability can greatly expedite completion of the Air Force’s long-discussed OODA-loop phenomenon, wherein pilots seek to quickly complete a decision-making cycle – Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action – faster than an enemy fighter. The concept, dating back decades to former Air Force pilot and theorist John Boyd, has long informed fighter-pilot training and combat preparation.

More reading: The F-22 is getting an awesome avionics upgrade

If pilots can complete the OODA loop more quickly than an enemy during an air-to-air combat engagement, described as “getting inside an enemy’s decision-making process,” they can destroy an enemy and prevail. Faster processing of information, empowering better pilot decisions, it naturally stands to reason, makes a big difference when it comes to the OODA loop.

Connectivity with air and ground combat assets, drawing upon emerging data-link technology, has been a key part of the exercise as the Air Force strengthens efforts to work with other services on cross-domain fires operations.

The Air Force plans to actualize key aspects of this with, for instance, LINK 16 upgrades to the F-22 that enable it to improve data-sharing with the F-35 and 4th-generation aircraft in real-time in combat.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
F-22 Raptors from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fly over Alaska May 26, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

“The F-22 program is developing enhanced “5th-to-5th” generation and “5th-to-4th” generation aircraft communications via the TACLink 16 program,” Capt. Emily Grabowski, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

Grabowski added that this program includes hardware and software modifications to field LINK 16 transmit on the F-22. While not eliminating the need for voice communication, transmitting and receiving via LINK 16 datalinks can expedite data- and video-sharing, target coordination and more secure non-voice connectivity.

Related: F-22s will soon deploy anywhere in the world with 24 hours notice

​”If somebody broke our encryption they could listen to our conversation. LINK 16 transit allows us to share our screen without having any voice pass,” Ken Merchant, Vice President, F-22 Programs, Lockheed, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Merchant added that F-35-F-22 LINK 16 connectivity should be operational by 2020.

“This new philosophy will allow us to set an aggressive target for ourselves. Pilots will be better able to see an enemy or air-to-air asset coming their way,” Merchant said.

Once fielded, the F-22 TACLink 16 will enable the F-22 to receive and transmit with other platforms, such as the F-35, F-16, F-15

and others, Grabowski said.

Additional F-35-F-22 LINK 16 tests are planned for 2019 and 2020.

Also read: This is what the F-22 Raptor’s replacement will be like

First operational in 2005, the F-22 is a multi-role fighter designed with stealth technology to evade enemy radar detection and speeds able to reach Mach 2 with what is called “super-cruise” capability. Supercruise is the ability to cruise at supersonic airspeeds such as 1.5 Mach without needing afterburner, a capability attributed to the engine thrust and aerodynamic configuration of the F-22.

The F-22 is built with two Pratt Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners, Air Force statements said.

The aircraft has a 44-foot wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of more than 83,000 pounds.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Air Force delivers Army helicopters

Among members of the Air Force, there’s a tendency to be interested in aircraft. More than just aircraft, though, aircraft in aircraft is the type of idea that has the potential to harken back to the science fiction imaginings of many early childhoods. But true to form, science fiction in the military scarcely stays fiction for long.

From Jan. 11 to 13, 2019, it was the job of the C-5M Super Galaxy aircrew and aerial port specialists at Travis Air Force, California to join in efforts with the Army to transport four UH-60 Black Hawks from California to the helicopters’ home base at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.


“Accomplishing the feat took no small measure of cooperation between the two sister services,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Chase, 60th Aerial Port Squadron special handling supervisor. “You figure some of the C-5M aircrew who are transporting the Black Hawks have never even seen one before,” Chase said. “It’s because of that, having the Army here and participating in this training with us is so important. Coming together with our own expertise on our respective aircraft is what’s vital to the success of a mission like this.”

Chase went on to explain that in a deployed environment, Black Hawks are usually ferried around on C-17 Globemaster IIIs because of their tactical versatility.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

US Air Force C-17A Globemaster III.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

Which is great, he said, but in respect to total force readiness, sometimes a C-5M is the better choice for airlift.

“Our job as a military isn’t only to practice the tried and true formula — it’s to also blaze and refine new trails in the event we ever need to,” he said. “By allowing us to train on mobilizing these Black Hawks, the Army is giving us the opportunity to utilize not only the C-17s in our fleet, but also our C-5Ms. As it pertains to our base’s mission, that difference can mean everything.”

The difference Chase speaks of is one of 18 aircraft — over five million more pounds of cargo weight in addition to the 2,221,700 afforded to Travis AFB’s mission by the C-17. In terms of “rapidly projecting American power anytime, anywhere,” those numbers are not insignificant.

The Army, likewise, used the training as an opportunity to reinforce its own mission set.

“The decision to come to Travis mostly had to do with our needing a (strategic air) asset to facilitate our own deployment readiness exercise to Elmendorf,” said Capt. Scott Amarucci, 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, C Company platoon leader. “Travis was the first base to offer up their C-5M to get the job done, so that’s where we went.”

Amarucci’s seven-man team supervised the Travis AFB C-5M personnel in safe loading techniques as well as educated the aircrew on the Black Hawks’ basic functionality to ensure the load-up and transport was as seamless as possible.

Amid all the technical training and shoring up of various workplace competencies, the joint operation allowed for an unexpected, though welcomed, benefit: cross-culture interactions.

“It’s definitely been interesting being on such an aviation-centric base,” said Private 1st Class Donald Randall, 2-158th AHB, 15 T Black Hawk repair. “Experiencing the Air Force mission

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

Airmen and soldiers offload a UH-60 Black Hawk from a C-5 Galaxy at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Henry Chan)

definitely lends to the understanding of what everyone’s specialties and capabilities are when we’re deployed.”

“Plus, the Air Force’s food is better,” he laughed.

Chase also acknowledged the push to bring the Air Force and Army’s similar, yet subtly different cultures to a broader mutual understanding during the times socializing was possible, an admittedly infrequent opportunity, he said.

“Outside of theater, there aren’t too many opportunities to hang out with members from other branches,” he said. “So when the chance to do so kind of falls into your lap, there’s this urge to make the most out of it. A lot of the differences between branches are very nuanced, like how the Army likes to be called by their full rank and stuff like that, but knowing them and making an effort to be sensitive to those differences can pay huge dividends when it comes time to rely on them during deployments.”

Along with finding room in our demeanors to give space for cross-cultural interactions, Chase also underscored the importance of a positive mindset to ensure successful interoperability.

“It’s the idea of taking an opportunity like this that was very sudden and probably pretty inconvenient for a few people’s weekend plans and asking, ‘Well, I’m here, so how can I help — what lessons can I learn to help benefit my team and take what I’m doing to new heights?'”

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

MIGHTY GAMING

Why ‘Far Cry 5’ is the most veteran AF game ever

The Far Cry video game series has always gone above and beyond in placing the player in a beautiful, open world and pitting them against a cunning and well-written antagonist. The graphics in the most recent installment are as crisp as you’d expect from the series, the gameplay is phenomenal, and plenty of critics are already singing its praise, but what sets this game apart from every other shooter is the storyline.


This time around, instead of exploring some scenic island fighting against drug-running pirates or a prehistoric valley against neanderthals, Far Cry 5 pits the player against deranged cult in a fictional county of Montana.

You play as a Sheriff’s deputy tasked with arresting Joseph Seed, a cult leader who is a mix of David Koresh, Jim Jones, and a hipster douchebag. There’s a palpable eeriness as you walk through his church’s compound and Joseph is seemingly compliant at first. He lets you handcuff him before saying, “you’ll never arrest me.” As you make your way back to the helicopter, one of his followers hurls himself into the propellers, allowing Seed to escape back to his followers, kicking off the game.

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And, yes, the hipster cult leader even has a manbun.
(Ubisoft)

The player is then saved by the first of many veterans you’ll encounter in the game, Dutch. He’s a loner Vietnam veteran who has shut himself off in a bunker while the world goes to sh*t outside. Inside his bunker, you’ll find plenty of little references to real-life military units, like an homage to the 82nd Airborne patch (the “AA” has been replaced by the number “82” in the same style) and a patch that’s the shape of the 101st, but with the XVIII Corps’ dragon.

He offers to help you out and gives you something to wear something other than your uniform, which includes (and I’m not making this up) some 5.11 gear.

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No word on if the guy has his own unapologetic military apparel line yet u2014 maybe in the DLC.
(Ubisoft)

The next veteran who helps you out is Pastor Jerome Jeffries, a Gulf War veteran turned Catholic priest. He’s holed up in his church with the few citizens who haven’t been indoctrinated by the cult. While there, you set up a resistance to buy time until the National Guard can come reinforce. You must band together with the rag-tag group of remaining people to take down Seed and his followers.

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Basically how every Chaplain assistant sees themselves after ETSing.
(Ubisoft)

Which brings you to the third main veteran in the storyline, Grace Armstrong, a U.S. Army sniper who deployed to Afghanistan. She’s one of the characters that fights alongside you throughout the game, providing fire support from a good distance.

Though his veteran status remains unknown, you’ll also come across a companion named Boomer. Boomer’s a dog who, if he gets hurt, can be healed with a nice belly rub. It’s the little things in this game that make it amazing.

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year
He’s a very good boy.
(Ubisoft)