Navy's futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

The Zumwalt-class destroyer, the largest and most advanced surface combatant in the world, was built to be a silent killer, but the revolutionary warship has faced a string of setbacks during development — including the embarrassing problem that its supergun still does not work right.

The two 155mm guns of the Advanced Gun System on the Zumwalt, intended to strike targets farther than 80 miles away, are ridiculously expensive to fire, as a single Long Range Land Attack Projectile costs almost $1 million. Procurement was shut down two years ago, leaving the Zumwalt without any ammunition to fire.

That’s not the only problem — the gun also lacks the desired range, Breaking Defense reported Nov. 28.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Gh37B9nkaw
USS ZUMWALT in ACTION! DDG-1000 sea trials and Long Range Land Attack Projectile weapons featured.

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“We just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want,” Vice Adm. William Merz, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee Tuesday, explaining that the Navy may do away with the guns entirely if it can’t develop effective and cost-efficient ammunition, according to Breaking Defense.


The Navy “will be developing either the round that goes with that gun or what we are going to do with that space if we decide to remove that gun in the future,” he continued.

“The ship is doing fine, on track to be operational in 2021 in the fleet,” he said, adding that the Zumwalt-class destroyer remains a “very capable platform with or without that gun.”

This is what would happen if the USS Zumwalt fought a Russian battlecruiser

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The Zumwalt-class destroyers were expected to serve as multi-mission ships, focusing primarily on land-attack and naval gunfire support missions with secondary anti-ship and anti-aircraft mission capabilities.

The Navy saw the ship operating in coastal areas and supporting ground troops, but that mission was changed late last year, according to The Diplomat.

The destroyer will now serve as a surface strike combatant, relying on a diverse arsenal of anti-ship and anti-air missiles capable of being launched from 80 Mk 54 Vertical Launch System cells, which Merz said were larger than those of other surface ships, creating more options for armaments.

The Zumwalt, however, has fewer missile cells than the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, which have 96 and 122 missile launch cells that can carry interceptors, cruise missiles, and rocket-launched torpedoes.

It appears that the Navy intends to force the Zumwalt through the development process and then sort the rest out later.

“We determined that the best future for that ship is to get it out there with the capability that it has and separate out the Advanced Gun System, leaving everything else in place,” Merz said, according to Breaking News.

Life Aboard US Navy Stealth Destroyer USS Zumwalt

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But the gun is apparently not the only problem when it comes to the Zumwalt.

The ship has been steadily becoming less and less stealthy as the Navy settles for bolt-on components — including satellite communication antenna systems mounted on the sides and the high-frequency vertical antenna bolted on the top — amid efforts to cut costs.

The Drive spotted these problems on one of three Zumwalt-class destroyers in the works. (There were initially supposed to be more than 30.) The publication speculated that these non-low-observable features would negatively affect the stealth capabilities of the ship, which was initially built to be as stealthy as a fishing boat.

These potential detriments were not visible on earlier versions of the Zumwalt-class destroyers.

The Zumwalt-class destroyers have also experienced serious engine and electrical problems during development. Nonetheless, the ship’s twin Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and advanced technological systems make it a candidate for future railgun and directed-energy weapons.

“She is going to be a candidate for any advanced weapon system that we develop,” Merz said Nov. 27, according to Breaking Defense.

The Zumwalt’s primary competitor is China’s Type 055 Renhai destroyer.

Though the Chinese warship is not as technologically advanced as the Zumwalt, which remains unmatched, the Renhai destroyers are equipped with 112 VLS cells able to fire HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles, and missile-launched anti-submarine torpedoes, according to the South China Morning Post.

The missions vary a bit, as the Type 055 is expected to serve as an air-defense and anti-submarine warship, one that could escort Chinese aircraft carriers.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

B-1 Bomber may become the new face of US military power in the Pacific

The Air Force‘s B-1B Lancer bomber is about to move front and center in the U.S. military’s power-projection mission in the Pacific.

As part of its mission “reset” for the B-1 fleet, the Air Force is not only making its supersonic bombers more visible with multiple flights around the world, it’s also getting back into the habit of having them practice stand-off precision strikes in the Pacific, a dramatic pivot following years of flying close-air support missions in the Middle East.


The “nice thing about the B-1 is it can carry [the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile], and that’s perfectly suited for the Pacific theater,” Maj. Gen. Jim Dawkins Jr., commander of the Eighth Air Force and the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, said in an interview Tuesday.

“Not only are we resetting the airplane’s mission-capability rates and the training done for the aircraft, we’re also resetting how we employ the airplane to get more toward great power competition to align with the National Defense Strategy,” added Dawkins, who supports the warfighting air component to U.S. Strategic Command, as well as operations within Air Force Global Strike Command.

According to the 2018 NDS, “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.”

Former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated that China has become “a pacing threat for the U.S. Air Force because of the pace of their modernization” in the region.

The Pentagon’s strategy prioritizes deterring adversaries by denying their use of force in the first place.

That’s one reason four bombers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, have been launching from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for patrols across the East and South China Seas since May 1, according to Air Force social media posts. The bombers deployed to Andersen after the service suspended its continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific for the first time in 16 years.

During a simulated strike, crews “will pick a notional target, and then they will do some mission planning and flying through an area that they are able to hold that target at risk, at range,” Dawkins said.

Close-air support, the B-1’s primary mission in recent years, is a much different skill set than “shooting standoff weapons like JASSM-ER and LRASM,” he said, referring to the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and Joint Air to Surface Stand-Off Missiles-Extended Range.

While Dawkins wouldn’t get into specifics of how crews are conducting the practice runs in the Pacific, the non-nuclear B-1s have been spotted recently carrying Joint Air to Surface Stand-Off Missiles.

Photos recently posted on DVIDS, the U.S. military’s multimedia distribution website, show Dyess’ 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons crew members loading a JASSM into the belly of a plane. The B-1 is capable of carrying 75,000 pounds — 5,000 pounds more than the B-52 Stratofortress — of both precision-guided and conventional bombs.

The JASSM’s newer variant, JASSM-ER, has a higher survivability rate — meaning it’s less likely to be detected and shot down — due to low-observable technology incorporated into the conventional air-to-ground precision-guided missile. It is said to have a range of roughly 600 miles, compared with the 230-mile reach of JASSM, according to The Drive.

The LRASM, a Navy missile integrated on both the B-1 and F/A-18 Super Hornet, is able to autonomously locate and track targets while avoiding friendly forces.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Joint air-to-surface standoff missiles are loaded into a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 9, 2020. The B-1Bs carry the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman River Bruce)

The precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile was first tested on a B-1 in August 2017. A single B-1 can carry up to 24 LRASMs, or the same number of JASSM-ERs. The LRASM missile achieved early operational capability on the bomber in 2018.

The vast expanses of the Pacific are well-suited for training with these kinds of missiles, Dawkins explained. Stateside ranges, which may lack surface waters or enough distance between two points, depending on location, cannot always accommodate the needs of bomber crews training with these long-range weapons.

Also, “[when] we deploy, for instance to Guam, taking off from [the U.S.] and going to the Pacific, it allows us to do some integration with our allies, as well as exercise the command-and-control … and also allows us to practice our long-duration flights and work with the tankers,” he said.

Prior to the Dyess deployment, a B-1 from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, flew a 30-hour round-trip flight to Japan in late April. There, it operated alongside six U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, seven Japan Air Self Defense Force F-2s and eight JASDF F-15s over Draughon Range near Misawa, Pacific Air Forces said in a release.

The flight was part of the Air Force’s new unpredictable deployment experiment to test crews’ agility when sending heavy aircraft forces around the world, since the need to improve the bombers’ deployability rate is also crucial, Dawkins said.

Mission-capability rates refers to how many aircraft are deployable at a given time. The B-1 has been on a slow and steady track to improve its rate — which hovers around 50% — after being broken down by back-to-back missions in the desert, officials have said.

The B-1 could become the face of the Pacific for the foreseeable future, Dawkins said.

“We want … to be the roving linebacker, if you will, particularly in the Pacific,” he said, adding the mission could also pave the way for incorporating hypersonic weapons into the bomber’s arsenal.

In August, the Air Force proved it can transform the Lancer to hold more ordnance, a first step toward it carrying hypersonic weapons payloads.

Gen. Tim Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, has expressed support for the B-1 as a future hypersonic weapons platform.

“Basically, the configuration we’re seeking is external hardpoints that can allow us to add six Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapons [ARRW, pronounced “Arrow”], and then you still have the bomb bay where you can carry the LRASM or the JASSM-ER,” Ray told reporters last month. LRASM or JASSM-ER could also be carried externally, he added.

“They’re not doing any testing with the hypersonic on the B-1, but that’s definitely in the mix,” Dawkins said.

If configured with that payload in the future, that would be “quite a bit of air power coming off that airplane, whether it’s JASSMs, JASSM-ERs or some combination of those, and hypersonics,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How to fly the Little Bird’s ancestor

If you ever saw the movie Black Hawk Down, you saw the “Little Bird” kick some serious butt out there. Officially, it comes in two variants, the MH-6 (a small transport that holds as many as nine troops, according to GlobalSecurity.org), and the AH-6 (a small but powerful attack helicopter that usually carries miniguns and Hydra rockets, per GlobalSecurity.org).


Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A MH-6 Little Bird. (USASOC photo)

These helicopters serve well, but they had an ancestor that is much less known. That was the OH-6 Cayuse, also known as the Loach, which first flew in 1963, according to MilitaryFactory.com. Back then, it was made by the Hughes Tool Company’s aviation division, and was known as the Hughes 500 in the civilian market. And yes, that company was owned by the Howard Hughes – mastermind behind the Glomar Explorer and Spruce Goose, among other projects.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
This photo of Howard Hughes was taken 25 years before the OH-6 first flew. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The OH-6A was not armed, other than whatever pilots took aboard. But it was small, nimble, and fast. The Army bought over 1,400 choppers, but the Army soon was forced to re-assess its procurement decision. Massive losses in Vietnam (over 650 airframes) and training (297 more) caused the Army to realize they needed a new helicopter.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
An OH-6 Cayuse in flight. (U.S. Army photo)

In 1969, the Army bought a version of the Bell 206, which became the OH-58, and which would serve for almost five decades. It seemed like the end, but some U.S. allies bought the OH-6, and some found their way to what would become the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Nightstalkers. In the wake of “Desert One,” the Army unveiled new versions using an improved version of the OH-6, the first “Little Bird” helicopters to serve America’s special operators.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
OH-6D with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. (JGSDF photo)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the Navy SEAL Google hired as its security chief

As corporate America recruits veterans who have led men and women under fire, Google has skimmed the cream of the crop to manage its global security.


Veteran Chris Rackow heads the team that protects the company’s 80,000 employees, its offices and property, in more than 150 cities across almost 60 countries. Google tapped Rackow’s experience just over a year ago, recognizing the value the former warrior would bring to the search powerhouse. He had spent years in two of the most elite military and paramilitary organizations in the world: the U.S. Navy SEALs and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A group of U.S. Navy SEALs clear a room during a no-light live-fire drill near San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson)

Rackow’s leadership illustrates how corporate America has caught on to the resource created by veterans of U.S. foreign interventions. An ability to manage complex, risky, and dynamic problems, especially in the rapidly changing technology industry, carries a premium.

Google brought Rackow on board in September 2016 as vice president of global security. He is one of many veterans at Google, which does not disclose the number it hires, but says they’re employed in every job category, including software engineering, sales, finance, and security.

Related: Fortune 500 CEOs who served in the military

“One of the highest values of veterans is leadership just because it is such a core element within the military, from junior-enlisted all the way up to senior officers,” Rackow said. “Everybody’s expected to exert some type of leadership, and that is baked into recruits from day one all the way through.”

“It’s a quality that I have seen to be slackening across the business world,” Rackow said. “That’s, I think, where veterans really can play a huge part – coming in and providing positive, respectful, and dignified leadership for organizations, especially multinationals.”

Rackow’s military career started in 1988 when he joined the SEALs, a Navy special forces unit known for its punishing selection program and high-stakes covert missions. He was a SEAL for nearly 23 years. He also spent 13 years in the FBI, for five years as a member of the Hostage Rescue Team, a counter-terrorism unit operating at home and abroad, and, like the SEALs, famed for its harsh induction and commando-style operations.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Members of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team spring into action. (Photo courtesy of FBI)

Now he works in an industry where the weapons of battle are code and silicon chips.

“I know I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” Rackow said. “In fact, I’m probably at the very low end of the totem pole based on the amazing skills we have here at Google.”

And for veterans, the corporate world has some significant differences from the armed services.

“The government and the military really are quite homogeneous. It really is not as truly diverse as a company is, and especially a global company,” he said.

“You really are presented with 360 degrees of various belief systems and ideas and concepts. That’s probably just the unique challenge for veterans, is to understand … the larger landscape that they need to be able to understand and learn how to operate within.”

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Google employees participate in Pride 2016 in London. As a company, Google promotes, exhibits, and supports diversity. (Photo by Katy Blackwood, cropped for viewing)

Still, his service gave him deep expertise in areas where the skills needed for military operations overlap with those required in a global technology firm — teamwork, for example.

“A team is really a group that understands that we are sacrificing a small part of our individuality, but we’re coming together for a common good, a common goal,” Rackow said. “Whether you call it a common goal or you call it a mission, it’s all the same thing.”

“True leadership really means there’s no one model, and oftentimes within a team, let’s say of 10 people, you might have to exercise 10 different leadership styles … without it looking as if you’re catering to individual needs,” he said.

Along with his background in warfare, Rackow brought into the tech industry a solid civilian education – thanks to realizing during his time with the FBI that he was getting intellectually out-gunned.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Graduations aren’t just for basic. Getting a degree helps propel vets into higher positions post-service. (DoD Photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

“I was coming to the conclusion that I was going after people that were way smarter than I was, and I needed to go back to school,” he said.

He spent two years getting two degrees simultaneously: an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a master’s in global management from Arizona State’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, the latter teaching him “how to be successful across different cultures and belief systems.”

See Also: 20 private security contractors that hire vets with the skills

Rackow, married with a teenage daughter, has bounced around the world for decades, mostly in the Middle East and the western Pacific. Now, working at Google and living in Half Moon Bay, he’s not so far from where he spent his formative years. Born in Los Angeles, he lived in Lake Tahoe from kindergarten through fourth grade.

When he was in fifth grade his family moved to San Diego. “I grew up pretty much a California water kid. I was always out in the water, surfing, sailing, diving. Surfing stuck with me – I go out when it’s appropriate for my age,” he said. “I’m not charging anything big anymore. But I love to go out and stand-up paddleboard, or go out and surf.”

He considers his hiring by Google “a stroke of luck” that started with a call from one of the company’s recruiters.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Kerry-Ann Moore, left, an advisor from the Jacksonville Military Affairs and Veterans Department, shakes hands with Army Capt. Jessie Felix during a military job fair in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, May 2, 2015. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.)

“It was of great interest to see if I could actually come and work and provide value here, and especially after doing the research on what Google believes and what they think they can do for the planet in general, I looked at it as another service-based environment,” he said.

Google supports veterans through grants to an education group and scholarships. It also hosts a veterans’ network among employees and resume-writing workshops pairing Google employees with veterans entering the civilian workforce, Rackow noted.

Though a commando for most of his career, he had prefaced his service with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I’m an engineer at heart,” he said. “But as my counselor in college told me, I probably should never practice engineering.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Former Google engineer warns against building robot weapons

A former Google engineer who worked on the company’s infamous military drone project has sounded a warning against the building of killer robots.

Laura Nolan had been working at Google four years when she was recruited to its collaboration with the US Department of Defense, known as Project Maven, in 2017, according to the Guardian. Project Maven was focused on using AI to enhance military drones, building AI systems which would be able to single out enemy targets and distinguish between people and objects.

Google canned Project Maven after employee outrage, with thousands of employees signing a petition against the project and about a dozen quitting in protest. Google allowed the contract to lapse in March 2019. Nolan herself resigned after she became “increasingly ethically concerned” about the project, she said.


Nolan described her role as a site reliability engineer, and this is why she was recruited to Maven. “Although I was not directly involved in speeding up the video footage recognition I realised that I was still part of the kill chain; that this would ultimately lead to more people being targeted and killed by the US military in places like Afghanistan,” she said, according to The Guardian.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A MQ-9 Reaper US military unmanned aerial vehicle.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Nolan fears that the next step beyond AI-enabled weapons like drones could be fully autonomous AI weapons. “What you are looking at are possible atrocities and unlawful killings even under laws of warfare, especially if hundreds or thousands of these machines are deployed,” she said.

She said that any number of unpredictable factors could mess with the weapon’s systems in unforeseen ways such as unexpected radar signals, unusual weather, or they could come across people carrying weapons for reasons other than warfare, such as hunting. “The machine doesn’t have the discernment or common sense that the human touch has,” she said.

She added that testing will have to take place out on the battlefield. “The other scary thing about these autonomous war systems is that you can only really test them by deploying them in a real combat zone. Maybe that’s happening with the Russians at present in Syria, who knows? What we do know is that at the UN Russia has opposed any treaty let alone ban on these weapons by the way.”

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

The autonomous ship “Sea Hunter”, developed by DARPA. The US military christened an experimental self-driving warship designed to hunt for enemy submarines.

(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

Although no country has yet come forward to say it’s working on fully autonomous robot weapons, many are building more and more sophisticated AI to integrate into their militaries. The US navy has a self-piloting warship, capable of spending months at sea with no crew, and Israel boasts of having drones capable of identifying and attacking targets autonomously — although at the moment they require a human middle-man to give the go-ahead.

Nolan is urging countries to declare an outright ban on autonomous killing robot, similar to conventions around the use of chemical weapons.

“Very few people are talking about this but if we are not careful one or more of these weapons, these killer robots, could accidentally start a flash war, destroy a nuclear power station and cause mass atrocities,” she said.

Business Insider has contacted Nolan for comment.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The F-35 fighter is way too expensive, and the Pentagon is pissed

The Pentagon is taking a firmer grip of the F-35 budget-cutting controls in an attempt to trim down costs in the billion-dollar joint strike fighter program.


The Pentagon has determined that Lockheed Martin’s internal cost-cutting program — the Blueprint for Affordability — doesn’t go deep enough into the supply chain to smaller companies involved in building the F-35 Lightning II. The new effort to trim costs was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Oct. 9.

As a result, over the summer, the Pentagon’s F-35 program office decided not to agree to a contract extension with Lockheed and then last month simply awarded the company a $60 million contract to pursue additional efficiency measures that also gave the government more oversight, the newspaper reported.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Photo from F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office

Using a contract instead of an agreement among the companies “provides the government with greater insights into the cost-saving efforts,” according to a statement from the Pentagon’s F-35 program office.

Often called the most expensive weapons program in US history, the F-35 is being assembled at the company’s sprawling Fort Worth plant. The Pentagon’s actions come after the defense industry giant hired hundreds of workers at big job fairs in Fort Worth this summer to prepare to increased production of the aircraft. Lockheed has said it plans to add 1,800 workers.

Earlier this year, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson told then-President-elect Trump that she was personally committed to drive down the cost of the F-35 program after Trump said it was “out of control.” He pledged to trim billions of dollars on military contracts once he was in office.

Lockheed doesn’t believe the Pentagon’s actions will impact its efforts to cut costs.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
CG-1, the ground test article for the Lockheed Martin F-35 carrier variant, is positioned for its final drop test at Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas, Tx. Photo courtesy of Vought Aircraft Industries

“The government’s decision to fund this next phase of cost-reduction initiatives is a testament to their confidence in our ability to deliver the cost savings, based on the success of the original Blueprint for Affordability projects,” Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s F-35 general manager, told the Wall Street Journal.

Lockheed and its industry partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems announced their plan in 2014 to trim costs by agreeing to invest $170 million over two years on new materials and processes, with Lockheed spending the most.

The Fort Worth plant employs about 14,000 workers, with roughly 8,800 working on the F-35. Hiring of additional workers will stretch out through 2020, company officials said. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and plans call for production to increase to about 160 a year by 2019.

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

popular

Army v. Navy: How the academies stack up

On Dec. 8, 2018, cadets from the Military Academy will take to the field to defend its current winning streak against the Naval Academy midshipmen in the 119th annual Army-Navy football game.

“America’s game” is no typical rivalry. Cadets and midshipmen, including the players on the field, endure rigorous challenges that extend far beyond the classroom.


Which of these prestigious institutions outperforms the other is an enduring debate. To settle the question, we compared the academies in terms of academics, the “plebe” experience, location, career options and football statistics — read through to find out which of these rivals has the edge.

Full disclosure: The author of this post graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2010. This comparison is based on totally objective analysis, but you can weigh in with your perspective at the links on her author bio.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

The US Naval Academy’s sprawling campus, known to midshipmen as ‘the yard,’ is located in Annapolis, Maryland.

(US Naval Academy Flickr photo)

LOCATION: The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland is nestled in an idyllic location on the Chesapeake Bay.

Annapolis, the “sailing capital of the world,” is just outside the Naval Academy gates. Midshipmen are part of life in the picturesque town.

The correct term for students at the Naval Academy is “midshipmen,” not cadets like their counterparts at West Point.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

The US Military Academy in West Point, New York.

(US Military Academy Flickr photo)

Army’s West Point is a bit more isolated, and located on the western bank of the Hudson River.

Cadets have to travel much farther to experience the joys of time-off in a city.

On the rare occasion they get to experience extracurricular activities, midshipmen have an abundance of options in closer proximity.

In terms of location, the Naval Academy takes the trophy.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Midshipmen toss their midshipmen covers at the end of their class graduation in May 2018.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kaitlin Rowell)

ACADEMICS: US News ranks the Naval Academy as the #2 Public School for an undergraduate degree.

The student-faculty ratio is 8:1 at Annapolis, and about 75% of classes there have fewer than 20 students, according to US News.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Cadets enter Michie Stadium for their graduation ceremony at West Point. 936 cadets walked across the stage in May 2017 to join the Long Gray Line, as West Point’s graduates are known.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

West Point is ranked at #1

At West Point, the student-faculty ratio is 7:1, and about 97% of classes have fewer than 20 students. West Point also offers 37 majors, compared to the 26 offered at the Naval Academy.

Based on self-reported data compiled by US News, West Point has an edge over Navy in academics.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A new cadet reports for ‘Reception Day’ in summer 2016. Cadets must endure a difficult 7-week training regimen before being accepted into the Corps of Cadets at the beginning of the academic year.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Vito Bryant)

MILITARY TRAINING: Academics are only part of the curriculum at these federally-funded academies. Students begin with tough summer training to kick off their military careers.

These training regimens are generally comparable to basic training for officers and enlisted, and provoke a lot of debate about whether they’re easier than what other officers must go through.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Plebes must endure difficult challenges during their first summer at the Naval Academy.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Danian Douglas)

At the Naval Academy, “plebe summer” involves rigorous physical activities, including PT in the surf.

At both academies, freshmen are referred to as “plebes” to indicate their lesser status. These students are also known as midshipmen fourth-class; first classes are seniors.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Cadets from the class of 2022 ‘ring the bell’ at the end of their March Back, marking the culmination of Cadet Basic Training.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

At the end of their first summer, cadets conduct a 12-mile ‘March Back’ to West Point from Camp Buckner before being formally accepted into the Corps of Cadets.

The initial summer training at both institutions are physically and mentally challenging. In terms of difficulty, the two stand on even ground.

But Naval Academy midshipmen have to endure one more week than their cadet brothers and sisters, so we have to give the edge to Navy’s plebe summer.

(When the last real plebe summer took place remains an open debate among graduates).

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

30 cadets ended up injured during the pillow fight in 2015.

(CBS / Screenshot from Youtube)

At West Point, plebes celebrate the end of their difficult summer with a giant pillow fight.

In 2015, cadets took the fight to the next level, and The New York Times reported 24 freshmen got concussions from the bloody brawl.

Navy doesn’t have a pillow fight, and it’s unclear whether that should count as a win or a loss.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Midshipmen run across the Naval Academy bridge during the Sea Trials event at the U.S. Naval Academy.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan L. Correa)

CULMINATION OF TRAINING: Midshipmen must endure a rigorous 14-hour set of physical and mental challenges known as “Sea Trials” at the end of their freshman year.

Cadets do not have a “Sea Trials” equivalent.

Overall, the Naval Academy’s plebes face more hurdles than plebes at West Point — the scales therefore tip towards Annapolis for a more challenging regimen that they can, and will, brag about.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Naval Academy plebes climb Herndon monument.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brianna Jones)

The plebes then climb a monument called Herndon, which their upperclassmen have greased with tubs of lard, to replace the iconic ‘plebe’ dixie hat with an upper class cover.

The tradition is also a competition among classes — bragging rights belong to the class that can replace the cover in the shortest period of time.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Plebes climbing Herndon.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brianna Jones)

The tradition has seen various iterations throughout Naval Academy history, but can sometimes get ugly — and even bloody.

The Herndon climb is considered the final rite of passage for ‘plebes’ at the Naval Academy.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the USS George H.W. Bush on November 2, 2018 during a routine training exercise. Every year roughly 1,000 Navy and Marine officers are commissioned from the Naval Academy to join units like these around the world.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Kaleb Sarten)

CAREERS: Upon graduation, newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers ‘join the fleet.’

Marines will be selected for either an air or ground option. Once they graduate from a common officer training course, the officers will go on to receive specialized training in their fields, which include infantry, artillery, intelligence, aviation, and several more.

Navy officers are commissioned for roles in surface, subsurface, aviation and special operations communities. A handful will be selected as Navy SEALs. A select few may be accepted into medical school.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A new cadet shoots an M203 grenade launcher for the first time at West Point on July 31, 2018 during cadet basic training.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

West Point commissions its cadets into one of over 17 branches of the Army when they graduate, sending them into careers ranging from artillery and infantry to intelligence and engineering.

While West Point has an impressive selection of career options, when considering both Navy and Marine Corps communities, Annapolis offers more options and therefore has an edge.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Stephenson)

ATHLETICS: On Dec. 8, 2018, the cadets and midshipmen will face off in the 119th Army-Navy football game.

In terms of their football team’s 2018 statistics, Army has the edge to beat Navy for the third year in a row.

West Point’s current record stands at 9-2, and holds a current 7-game winning streak this season.

Navy’s record is bleak: 3-9 this season overall.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A player from the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen football team is stopped inches from the goal line by a University of Virginia Cavaliers player at the 2017 Military Bowl.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)

Overall, midshipmen have won the majority of Army-Navy games, in football and most other sports.

Historically, Navy is the better team. In football, and most other sports as well.

Navy holds 60 wins over Army, who has won only 51 games. (Seven games have ended in a tie).

Midshipmen also hold the longest streak — 14 wins between 2002 and 2015. The Army will have to defend its 2-year streak.

Though other sports are largely overlooked by the public, the Army-Navy rivalry extends well beyond the gridiron. The all-time Army-Navy competition record holds Navy as the better athletic program, with a 1071-812-43 win-loss-tie ratio.

Some of the teams that have boosted the Naval Academy’s record are listed below:

Navy Women’s swimming and diving crushes Army with a 34-4 W-L record.

Navy Men’s basketball has defeated Army 78 times, with only 50 losses against their rival.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A U.S. Naval Academy fan cheers on the sidelines at Lincoln Financial Field during the Army-Navy football game.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Brenton Poyser)

WINNER: Naval Academy

Overall, the Naval Academy takes the trophy as the better service academy.

Although Army’s current athletic season and academics are impressive, the Naval Academy’s prime location, rigorous training, career options and overall athletic program give it an edge over its rival.

Go Navy!

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

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.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
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.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
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.

Articles

4 reasons the Aardvark and Switchblade could still kick ass today

In this day and age, the F-111 Aardvark and its larger variant, the FB-111 Switchblade, are often forgotten. That shouldn’t be the case. Here are four reasons that these planes could still kick a lot of ass.


1. Speed

The F-111 was fast – with a top speed of Mach 2.5, according to GlobalSecurity.org. The FB-111 was also capable of going fast, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher. Not just at high altitudes, but also on the deck. In fact, these planes were designed to deliver a knockout punch at treetop level.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark on display at the Barksdale Global Power Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base. This plane could fly over twice the speed of sound – and deliver 35,500 pounds of bombs. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

2. Payload

The B-2, B-1B, and B-52 get a lot of press for their huge payloads — anywhere from 51 to 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. But the F-111 and FB-111 could each carry 36 Mk 82s. That is nothing to sneeze at. During the Vietnam War, Baugher noted that four F-111s were delivering as many bombs as 20 F-4s.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A left side view of an F-111A dropping 24 Mark 82 low-drag bombs in-flight over a range on May 1, 1980. The aircraft was assigned to the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. (USAF photo)

3. Range

Baugher notes that the FB-111 could fly over 2,500 miles with four AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missiles and internal fuel. That is a long reach – without tying up tankers like the KC-135, KC-46, or KC-10. While the AGM-69 is no longer in service, imagine what sort of distant targets could be hit by a squadron of FB-111s carrying AGM-158 JASSMs based at Aviano Air Base in Italy.

The F-111F demonstrated this range in an operational context during Operation El Dorado Canyon, when 18 planes from the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing flew from bases in England around Spain to hit targets around Tripoli. Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that the mission was about 6,400 miles — the longest fighter mission in history.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
Ground crew prepares an F-111F of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing for a retaliatory air strike on Libya. (USAF photo)

4. Accuracy

The F-111 was very capable with laser-guided bombs, but the planes could also deliver unguided bombs accurately. During Desert Storm, that the F-111Es from the 20th Fighter Wing carried out attacks with conventional “dumb” bombs — and suffered no combat losses doing so.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-111F aircraft, equipped with an AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack laser target designator, banking to the left over Loch Ness (UK). (USAF photo)

In short, the Aardvark and the Switchblade had a lot of life left when they were sent to the boneyard in the 1990s. One could imagine that with upgrades to carry JDAMs, AGM-154 JSOWs, and even the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER systems, that these planes would certainly be a huge assets in today’s global hotspots.

popular

This is the ironic reason the Spitfire beat the Bf 109

Every student of history knows that the British won the Battle of Britain in August and September of 1940, and that the Spitfire played a key role. But why was that the case?


The answer is stunningly ironic, and it requires us to look at what both the Spitfire and the Bf 109 were supposed to do.

(Yes, I said Bf 109. Believe it or not, calling Willy Messerschmidt’s signature design a Me 109 isn’t accurate. Messerschmidt worked for the Bavarian Aircraft Works, or Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. Now, Messerschmidt bought the company in 1938, but planes designed before the purchase, like the Bf 109, kept the old designation.)

 

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

 

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the Bf 109 and Spitfire.

Both planes were really designed to fulfill the same mission profile: that of a short-range interceptor.

The Spitfire Mk VB had a top speed of 370 miles per hour, could climb 2,600 feet per minute, and had a combat radius of 470 miles. The Bf 109G had a top speed of 398 miles per hour, a range of 621 miles with a drop tank, and could climb 3,345 feet per minute.

In 1940, the Germans needed a plane to escort their bombers, and the Bf 109 was their only option. They tried the Bf 110, a twin-engine plane with long range and heavy firepower. The problem was, the Bf 110 was easily killed by the more maneuverable Spitfires, so the Bf 109 found itself pressed into service.

But even with a drop tank, the Bf 109 just didn’t have the endurance to be a good bomber escort.

 

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns
A Spitfire Mk. 1A flies in 1937. (Photo: Royal Air Force)

The Spitfire was also plagued with short endurance, but during the Battle of Britain — and even over Dunkirk earlier in the summer of 1940 — it was fulfilling its role as a short-range interceptor.

In essence, it was doing what it was designed to do. The Bf 109 was also a short-range interceptor…but it was pressed into service as a bomber escort, and it just couldn’t hack it.

When the United States entered the war, one thing they were truly successful at was coming up with the perfect escort fighter, the P-51 Mustang. You could say they had learned from Nazi Germany’s mistake.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Christian Bale could have done a 4th Batman movie — here’s why he didn’t

At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman is not only alive but happily drinking wine with Anne Hathaway. It seems impossible, but it’s been 11 years since the final Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan Batman movie hit theaters. Since then, Ben Affleck has played Batman and now Robert Pattinson has slipped into the Batsuit for the highly anticipated 2021 film, The Batman. But what if it had all happened differently? What if Christian Bale had done one more turn as Batman?

Speaking to the Toronto Sun about his new film, Ford v. Ferrari, Bale makes it clear that a fourth Batman film was 100 percent in the cards, and certainly something Warner Bros. wanted from both him and director Christopher Nolan.


“Chris [Nolan] had always said to me that if we were fortunate to be able to make three we would stop,” Bale explains, saying the director always wanted it to be a trilogy, no matter what. Though Nolan and Bale always felt lucky each time they were able to make a new installment in their version of Batman. These days, we consider the Dark Knight trilogy to be a modern classic in the superhero genre; movies that stand apart from the Marvel versus cinema debate. But, at the time, Bale points out that doing a new version of Batman was considered to be a fairly risky gamble.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises.

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

“I literally had people laugh at me when I told them we were doing a new kind of Batman,” Bale says. “I think that the reason it worked was first and foremost Chris [Nolan’s] take on it.”

Still, when the studio wanted a sequel to The Dark Knight Rises, Bale said Nolan turned it down. “Let’s not stretch too far and become overindulgent and go for a fourth…That’s why we, well Chris, stepped away. After that, I was informed my services were no longer required.”

Though this interview makes it sound like Bale was in solidarity with Nolan, that last detail also suggests he would have done another Batman movie in a different capacity if asked. Though Christopher Nolan produced The Man of Steel and Batman eventually appeared in its sequel, Batman v. Superman, it’s an interesting thought experiment to consider what would have happened if it was Bale’s Batman and not Ben Affleck who battled with Superman? It’s an alternate dimension we’ll never visit; one starring a Batman that we didn’t need, per se, but certainly, the Batman we still think we all deserve.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

See the letter General Eisenhower prepared in case D-Day failed

During World War II, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were responsible for leading their nations to victory and jointly planned strategies for the cooperation and eventual success of the Allied armed forces. Roosevelt and Churchill had already agreed early in the war that Germany must be stopped first if success was to be attained in the Pacific. They were repeatedly urged by Stalin to open a “second front” that would alleviate the enormous pressure that Germany’s military was exerting on Russia. Large amounts of Soviet territory had been seized by the Germans, and the Soviet population had suffered terrible casualties from the relentless drive towards Moscow. Roosevelt and Churchill promised to invade Europe, but they could not deliver on their promise until many hurdles were overcome.


Initially, the United States had far too few soldiers in England for the Allies to mount a successful cross-channel operation. Additionally, invading Europe from more than one point would make it harder for Hitler to resupply and reinforce his divisions. In July 1942 Churchill and Roosevelt decided on the goal of occupying North Africa as a springboard to a European invasion from the south.

In addition to the troops, supplies, ships, and planes were also gathered. One photograph shows some of the equipment that was stockpiled in this manner. Countless details about weather, topography, and the German forces in France had to be learned before Overlord could be launched in 1944. In November American and British forces under the command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed at three ports in French Morocco and Algeria. This surprise seizure of Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers came less than a week after the decisive British victory at El Alamein. The stage was set for the expulsion of the Germans from Tunisia in May 1943, the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy later that summer, and the main assault on France the following year.

Because of this success, Eisenhower was named commander of all Allied forces in Europe in 1943. When in February 1944 he was ordered to invade the continent, planning for “Operation Overlord” had been under way for about a year. Hundreds of thousands of troops from the United States, Great Britain, France,Canada, and other nations were assembled in southern England and intensively trained for the complicated amphibious action against Normandy.

Stockpiled Military Equipment in England (National Archives)

General Eisenhower’s experience and the Allied troops’ preparations were finally put to the test on the morning of June 6, 1944. An invasion force of 4,000 ships, 11,000 planes, and nearly three million soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors was assembled in England for the assault. Eisenhower’s doubts about success in the face of a highly-defended and well-prepared enemy led him to consider what would happen if the invasion of Normandy failed. If the Allies did not secure a strong foothold on D-Day, they would be ordered into a full retreat, and he would be forced to make public the message he drafted for such an occasion. View a large version of the letter here.

Eisenhower D-day retreat message (National Archives)

Here’s what it says: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

As the attack began, Allied troops did confront formidable obstacles. Germany had thousands of soldiers dug into bunkers, defended by artillery, mines, tangled barbed wire, machine guns, and other hazards to prevent landing craft from coming ashore. Document 3 featured with this lesson shows some of the ferocity of the attack they faced. About 4,900 U.S. troops were killed on D-Day, but by the end of the day 155,000 Allied troops were ashore and in control of 80 square miles of the French coast. Eisenhower’s letter was not needed, because D-Day was a success, opening Europe to the Allies and a German surrender less than a year later.

This article originally appeared on National Archives. Follow @USNatArchives on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia warns that its largest-ever war games are the new norm

Big Russia-China war games are apparently going to be routine going forward, the Russian defense minister revealed Sept. 12, 2018.

“We have agreed to conduct such exercises on a regular basis,” General Sergei Shoigu stated Sept. 12, 2018, as he toured the Tsugol firing range in eastern Siberia where thousands of Russian and Chinese troops are training together for war. The defense minister was accompanied by Chinese General Wei Fenghe at the time of the announcement, which comes as both Russia and China confront the US.

During Sept. 12, 2018’s exercises, Russian strategic bombers launched long-range cruise missiles at a firing range while warships opened fire on targets at sea, the Associated Press reported. There are at least 300,000 Russian troops, 36,000 vehicles, and 1,000 aircraft taking part in the Vostok 2018 exercises, the largest Russian war games in decades, CNN reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense.


Shoigu said previously that the drills were being held on an “unprecedented scale both in territory and number of troops involved.” China deployed 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft, along with 3,200 troops, to the drills. Mongolia also sent troops to participate.

The strengthening of military ties between Russia and China is particularly alarming given rising tensions between each country and Washington.

Navy’s futuristic destroyers might lose their big guns

A Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter.

China has grown bolder in the South China Sea, deploying advanced weapons platforms to the disputed waterway and challenging foreign ships and planes that fly or sail too close to territorial holdings occupied by China while Beijing argues with Washington over everything from trade to North Korea. Russia, on the other hand, has gone so far as to threaten to conduct strikes on a key US-led coalition base in Syria and fly strategic bombers near Alaska, risky moves amid deteriorating relations between Russia and the US.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Sept. 10, 2018, that the US respects Russia and China’s decision to hold military exercises, something the US also does with its allies and international partners. He added, though, that the US is watching these exercises closely.

Featured image: Russian armored personnel carriers roll during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises in Russia.

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

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