One of the Navy's newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

The USS Little Rock, a US Navy littoral-combat ship commissioned in late December 2017, finally left the port of Montreal late March 2018, more than three months after docking there for a short stop on its maiden voyage.

The Little Rock was commissioned in Buffalo, New York, on Dec. 16, 2017, but its journey to Mayport Naval Station in northeast Florida was delayed when the ship became stuck in Montreal a few days after Christmas. Unusually cold temperatures, icy conditions, and a shortage of tugboats to guide it out of port all contributed to the Little Rock staying in Canada.


The Navy said in January 2018 that the Little Rock would remain in Montreal “until wintry weather conditions improve and the ship is able to safely transit through the St. Lawrence Seaway.”

That stay lasted until 6:15 on the morning of March 31, 2018, port officials told the CBC. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson confirmed the departure. “Keeping the ship in Montreal until weather conditions improved ensured the safety of the ship and crew,” Hillson told Business Insider.

The Little Rock is expected to reach Florida later in April 2018, making several stops along the way.

The decision to keep the ship at Montreal was made on Jan. 19, 2018. Hillson told Business Insider at the time that the Little Rock’s crew was carrying out routine repair work and focusing “on training, readiness, and certifications.”

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
US Navy littoral combat ship USS Little Rock heading toward Montreal, December 27, 2017.
(Photo via USS Little Rock Facebook)

The ship was outfitted with temporary heaters and 16 de-icers to prevent ice accumulation on the hull and its roughly 170-person crew given cold-weather clothing in response to the delay, according to the CBC.

“We greatly appreciate the support and hospitality of the city of Montreal, the Montreal Port Authority and the Canadian Coast Guard,” the Little Rock’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Todd Peters, said in a statement. “We are grateful for the opportunity to further enhance our strong partnerships.”

Canadians living near the port complained about constant noise coming from the ship’s generators. The Port of Montreal dimmed lights illuminating the ship and adjustments were made to the soundproofing around the Little Rock’s generators.

The Little Rock was the fifth Freedom-class littoral combat ship to join the US Navy. It is 389 feet long with a draft of 13.5 feet, according to the US Navy. It has a top speed of over 45 knots and displaces about 3,400 tons fully loaded. The ship is scheduled for more training and combat-systems testing in 2018, its commander said in late December 2017.

Littoral combat ships are designed to operate near shore, and their modular design is meant to enable them to perform a variety of surface missions, mainly against small, fast attack craft as well as anti-mine and anti-submarine missions.

The LCS program has struggled with accidents and been criticized for cost overruns. The Navy said in January 2018 that LCS mission modules, designed to allow the ships to perform their three mission types, will enter service in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea is still hitting 17 countries with cyber attacks

A North Korea-linked hacking group has been tied to a series of cyberattacks spanning 17 countries, far larger than initially thought.

A new report by McAfee Advanced Threat Research found a major hacking campaign, dubbed Operation GhostSecret, sought to steal sensitive data from a wide range of industries including critical infrastructure, entertainment, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications.


Attackers used tools and malware programs associated with the North Korea-sponsored cyber unit Hidden Cobra, also known as Lazarus, to execute the highly sophisticated operation.

Operation GhostSecret is thought to have started with a massive cyberattack on several Turkish financial institutions and government organizations in early March 2018. The cyberoffensive then began targeting industries in 17 countries and is still active, according to McAfee.

Servers in the US, Australia, Japan, and China were infected several times from March 15 to 19, 2018. Nearly 50 servers in Thailand were hit heavily by the malware, the most of any country.

McAfee researchers noted many similarities between the methods used in Operation GhostSecret and other major attacks attributed to the group, including the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures and 2017’s global WannaCry attack.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
(Flickr photo by Blogtrepreneur)

“As we monitor this campaign, it is clear that the publicity associated with the (we assume) first phase of this campaign did nothing to slow the attacks. The threat actors not only continued but also increased the scope of the attack, both in types of targets and in the tools they used,” Raj Samani, McAfee’s chief scientist, said.

The report indicates North Korea has been expanding its cybercrime beyond its usual focus of stealing military intel or cryptocurrency that can be used to funnel money to the heavily sanctioned government.

North Korean groups have been tied to increasingly high-stakes attacks in recent months.

In January 2017, researchers from the US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future said a hacking campaign targeting the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinlink employed the same malware used in the Sony and WannaCry attacks.

The attack was attributed to the Lazarus group, which has been conducting operations since at least 2009, when it launched an attack on US and South Korean websites by infecting them with a virus known as MyDoom.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldiers at the border are doing grunt work to stay out of trouble

National Guard troops deployed to the border in Arizona are puttering around doing administrative and maintenance work in order to keep them out of potentially dangerous situations and to allow the border patrol to focus on working in the field.

Troops have been deployed to the border in the past — both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent troops there under similar circumstances — but the ones currently stationed in Arizona are even farther from the border than past deployments, according to a Politico report, and have no involvement in law-enforcement activity there.

President Donald Trump has called for up to 4,000 troops from various states to deploy to the border from Texas to California. Only about 200 Arizona National Guard soldiers have been put to work there, less than one-third of the 682 who have been authorized to deploy.


The troops are not allowed to join patrols or operations to detain people trying to cross the border undetected.

“There is a false narrative that we are doing ride-alongs,” Capt. Macario Mora of the Arizona National Guard told Politico. The troops also are not armed, Mora said, “and there is no anticipation that will change.”

Feeding horses and shoveling manure

Many have been pressed into service providing administrative support and doing upkeep, including feeding horses and shoveling manure out of stables, office work, and basic repairs and maintenance work on border patrol facilities and vehicles. “We fix flats,” one sergeant, a cook, told Politico.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
U.S Army Soldiers install steel runway planking for fence along the U.S./Mexico border in Naco, Ariz., June 28, 2007,
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.)

Troops in Arizona are kept far from the border, though some have been given training to monitor the remote cameras the border patrol has set up along the frontier. In Texas, troops are allowed to visually monitor the border, but the ones tasked with surveillance are not allowed to look into Mexico. Those troops are also performing maintenance and doing repairs on roads and vehicles.

Jurisdictional issues and legal restrictions are part of the reason troops are tasked with such a narrow range of duties, but there is also an effort to keep the soldiers out of trouble, particularly in areas where they could encounter criminal groups along the border.

The soldiers are not really trained or equipped for law-enforcement duties, and officials are still wary of the potential risks involved in them interacting with civilians. Officials are still mindful of the 1997 killing of an 18-year-old by marines who were patrolling along the Rio Grande River in Texas as part of a drug-surveillance patrol.

Esequiel Hernandez was shot and killed within sight of his home by marines who had followed him as he herded goats along the river. The marines, who had been deployed to the area secretly days before, said Hernandez pointed his .22 rifle at them fired twice in their direction. A prosecutor and Texas Rangers doubted that story but were unable to indict the marines on a murder charge, leaving locals bitter.

Mora, the Arizona National Guard captain, told Politico that the troops were in a “much safer environment” miles away from the border. “It definitely helps mitigate the risk of the National Guard running into conflict,” he said.

The troops’ muted presence stands in contrast to Trump’s rhetoric about the threats posed by border crossers and about his administration’s response.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Both the Border Patrol and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the deployments, the former regarding them as a misuse of resources and latter seeing it as unneeded. Military officials have also criticized the deployments, viewing them as a distraction and a needless strain on US-Mexico relations.

The deployments, paid for by the Pentagon, are only funded through September 2018, the end of the fiscal year. It’s not clear if funding will be extended beyond that, and other events may limit or curtail the deployments going forward.

Governors from at least eight states have said they withhold or withdraw their states’ National Guard troops from the border, many of them citing dismay over the Trump administration’s now-rescinded policy of separating children from their parents as they cross the border.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

More than 4,000 soldiers just lost their BAH

About 4,200 soldiers will see a cut in their final paycheck in May 2018, after their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payment was revoked when they failed to update their records by March 1, 2018, Army officials announced.

BAH pays service members an entitlement of up to thousands of dollars monthly based on factors including zip code and paygrade.


But soldiers are required to have documentation proving eligibility, such as a marriage or birth certificate, as well as a DA Form 5960 uploaded to the Army’s personnel system, known as iPERMS.

An official Army message released Jan. 2, 2018, gave soldiers until March 1, 2018, to update their documents or lose the payment, which could be up to several thousand dollars.

“Soldiers who did not submit their documents will see a rate reduction on their May end-of-month Leave and Earnings Statement,” Army Human Resource Command officials said in a May 21, 2018 release.

Only currently deployed soldiers are exempt from the update mandate, officials said.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

“They will need to comply with the policy 60 days after any post-deployment leave, or risk having their pay reduced,” according to the release.

Whether troops qualify for BAH at all is based on paygrade and whether they have dependents.

Dual-military couples are both given a BAH payment at the “without dependents rate,” unless they have children. In that case, one of the members receives the “with dependents rate,” while the other does not.

The documentation crackdown was first reported late summer 2017, long before the Army officially released its mandate for updates in early 2018. At the time, about 60,000 soldiers were missing BAH documentation.

Soldiers can restore their benefit, and receive as back pay any allotments they lost thanks to missing records, by updating iPERMS through their human resources office or unit personnel actions officer, the release said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

US and Canadian Air Force resupply northernmost inhabited place in the world

Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo to the most northern permanently inhabited place in the world, Sept. 26 to Oct. 4, 2019, as part of a joint operation with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Twenty airmen from the 109th, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, flew seven missions to Canadian Forces Station Alert as part of the twice a year effort to supply the station.

The resupply mission is known as Operation Boxtop and takes place in the spring and fall.

“The US Air Force’s New York Air National Guard is uniquely qualified to help us apply practical lessons from decades of successful Antarctic operations to the Arctic environment,” said US Air Force Brig. Gen. Edward Vaughan, the deputy commander for the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command Region.


One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

New York Air National Guard airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing and Royal Canadian Air Force airmen from 8 Wing, who teamed up to resupply Canadian Forces Station Alert as part of Operation Boxtop, in front of a New York Air National Guard C-130 at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Oct. 3, 2019.

(Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

The station, located on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut — 490 miles south of the North Pole — is home to around 55 Canadian Forces military and civilian personnel year-round.

Canadian Forces Station Alert, built in 1956, maintains signals intelligence facilities to support Canadian military operations, hosts researchers for Environment and Climate Change Canada, and plays a key role in projecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

A C-130 assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing with cargo at Thule Air Base, Greenland prior to being flown to Canadian Forces Station Alert on Ellsmere Island, Nunavut, September 30, 2019.

(Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

The wing, which flies the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, teamed up with the Canadian Armed Force’s 8 Wing, based in Trenton, Ontario to conduct the mission. 8 Wing is the higher headquarters for the Alert station.

The Canadian Forces asked specifically for funded the 109th’s participation in accomplishing the resupply mission as part of broader bi-national Arctic Force Package initiatives, according to Vaughan.

“Beyond operating the amazing LC-130 aircraft, the men and women of the 109th Airlift Wing are polar execution experts,” Vaughan added.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

David Jacobson, US ambassador to Canada at the time, in front of the CFS Alert welcome sign, April 19, 2010.

(US Embassy Canada/Flickr)

The mission profile called for one C-130 from the 109th to fly to Thule Air Base in Greenland, the northernmost installation operation by the US military, and then fly cargo from there to Alert. The 109th personnel included two full crews of six airmen, for a total of twelve, and eight maintenance personnel.

The 109th Airlift Wing carried bulk cargo which allowed the Canadian Armed Forces, which employed a C-130J and C-17 cargo plane, to focus on carrying fuel for generators and heating, explained New York Air National Guard Major Jacob Papp, an aircraft commander.

The three aircraft flew missions around the clock to supply the Alert outpost.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

A south-facing view of Canadian Forces Station Alert, May 30, 2016.

(Kevin Rawlings/Wikimedia Commons)

The conditions in the Arctic this time of year can be less than ideal, Papp said. The crews experience freezing fog, low visibility and high winds, making approaches and landing difficult at times. Despite the weather, the 109th Airlift Wing crews were able to complete 37.4 hours of flying for the operation, he added.

“It was great to get out there and use the skills that we train for all the time, to land on a really short strip given the conditions and unimproved surface.” Papp said. “We look forward to working with them (Canadian Forces) again.”

The 109th Airlift Wing has a long history of operating in the Arctic in support of American and Canadian operations. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the 109th Airlift Wing participated in Operation NUNALIVUT, an annual Arctic operations exercise.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

A C-130 flown by airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing takes off from Canadian Forces Station Alert on Ellsmere Island, Nunavut, after dropping off supplies on Sept. 30, 2019.

(Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

“Operating in the polar regions has been a 109th Airlift Wing core competency for the better part of 50 years, so assisting in this year’s Operation Boxtop is most definitely in the 109th wheelhouse,” said Major Gen. Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the New York Air National Guard.

“As we continue to demonstrate our collective abilities and competencies in the polar regions, I believe this effort by the 109th tangibly illustrates our ability to operate and project power in the High North,” La Barge said.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

A CC-130J Hercules aircraft prepares to depart Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut to bring more fuel to the station while another CC-130J Hercules approaches its parking spot to deliver fuel during Operation Boxtop, April 21, 2015.

(Canadian armed forces/Cpl Raymond Haack)

This historic resupply mission was conducted relatively late in the fall to help prove that science, logistics and other objectives in the Arctic can be met, according to Vaughan.

“This late season resupply of Canadian Forces Station Alert, the most northern military outpost on Earth, further demonstrates US-Canadian resolve in protecting the Arctic environment,” Vaughan said.

The Canadian NORAD Region works with the Continental United States NORAD Region to provide airspace surveillance and control for both countries.

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

Articles

Watch a US-led coalition airstrike destroy part of ISIS’ oil network near the Iraq-Syria border

While fighting in western Syria seems to have turned in favor of dictator Bashar Assad and his allies in Iran and Russia, US-led coalition strikes on ISIS continue in the eastern part of the country.


The terror group’s oil infrastructure remains a prime target, and a November 25 airstrike near Abu Kamal, close to the Iraqi border, went after several oil wellheads and a pump jack, an important piece of equipment for getting oil out of the ground.

Related: 7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

You can see a clip of the strike below.

The US-led coalition launched three strikes near Abu Kamal on November 25, destroying four oil wellheads and an oil pump jack.

That same day, slightly west of Abu Kamal in Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes reportedly destroyed three pieces of oil-refinement equipment, three oil-storage tanks, and an oil wellhead.

ISIS has relied heavily on oil revenue to finance its operations, and the US-led coalition has put special emphasis on attacking the infrastructure needed to get that oil out of the ground and to the market.

A few weeks after the November 25 airstrikes, coalition aircraft destroyed 168 oil-tanker trucks on the ground near Palmyra, in central Syria. That destruction cost the terrorist group about $2 million in revenue, according to Operation Inherent Resolve officials.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
Makeshift oil refinery in Syria. (Rozh Ahmad/YouTube screen grab)

While the coalition has been able to target ISIS’ oil infrastructure, fighting positions, and other resources from the air, progress against the group on the ground in eastern Syria has been somewhat halting.

While efforts by Kurdish militants and their Arab partners in Syria to recapture Raqqa, ISIS’ capital city, have been bogged down in recent weeks, the coalition announced on December 12 that Syrian Democratic Forces had liberated 700 square miles of ISIS-controlled territory, retaking dozens of villages around the city, and were starting the next phase of their operation to isolate Raqqa.

These developments come after Syrian government forces, backed by Iran and Russia, retook the northwestern city of Aleppo, parts of which had been held by rebels for years.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
Putin with president of Syria Bashar al-Assad. (Russian government photo)

That victory appears to have buoyed the outlook in Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus.

The recently reported outline of a deal being discussed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey would divide Syria into zones of influence for those countries, leaving Assad in power as president for at least a few years.

The purported deal appears after numerous fruitless attempts by the US and other western powers to broker a peace in Syria’s bloody, over five-year-long civil war — and may in part be inspired by Moscow’s desire to reassert itself on the world stage.

“It’s a very big prize for them if they can show they’re out there in front changing the world,” Sir Tony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, told Reuters. “We’ve all grown used to the United States doing that and had rather forgotten that Russia used to play at the same level.”

Articles

This Naval Academy grad is trying to become one of America’s newest astronauts

On Day 1 of her training as an astronaut, Navy Lt. Kayla Barron walked out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and watched with her new colleagues as the moon partially blotted out the sun.


Eclipse glasses in hand, the Naval Academy graduate said she began to get a sense of her place in at the agency. The astronauts are some of NASA’s highest-profile employees, but Barron said they’re just one part of the team.

“Everybody here is really excited about what they’re doing and doing really interesting things,” Barron said August 22 in an interview. “In a big-picture sense, everybody comes to work for the same reason.”

Barron, 29, was working as an aide at the academy in Annapolis when she was selected earlier in the summer to become an astronaut. She’ll now embark on two years of training with 11 other NASA candidates and two Canadians.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
2017 NASA Astronaut Class. (from left) Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raji Chari, Loral O’ Hara and Jessica Watkins. NASA photo by Robert Markowitz.

Many of the lessons will focus on the workings of the International Space Station, but there is a chance that members of the 2017 class — the agency’s largest in years — could end up on a mission to Mars.

“There’s a lot for us to learn, a lot of new things to master,” Barron said.

Among them: working from the back seat of a training jet, practicing spacewalks in a pool, and getting to grips with speaking Russian.

Barron was initially interested in pursuing a career as a naval aviator, but couldn’t meet the eyesight requirements. But now NASA will train her on its supersonic T-38 jets, working alongside a pilot and learning about making quick decisions and communicating clearly and getting used to extreme G-forces.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
A T-38 Talon. Photo from USAF.

Barron will keep her Navy rank but said NASA’s astronaut office blends military and civilian cultures — a reflection of the varied backgrounds of the trainees.

“It’s an interesting kind of melting pot,” she said.

The trainees are expected to bring their own ideas to the class and learn from one another.

Barron, who has a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and served as one of the first female officers on a submarine, said her military experience taught her about working as an engineer under extreme conditions.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
An astronaut performing a spacewalk. Photo from NASA.

“I think that gives me a bit of perspective on how you can keep your equipment and team running when you’re in a hostile place with limited resources,” Barron said.

During a question-and-answer session between the trainees and three astronauts on the International Space Station, biochemist Peggy Whitson said being able to fix things is one of the most important parts of the job.

“You can’t be hesitant about taking something apart and putting it back together,” Whitson said.

Barron, who said she’s both excited and nervous about learning Russian, asked the astronauts what advice they had about working with crew members from other nations.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
The International Space Station. Photo from NASA.

Col. Jack Fischer said that it was important not just to learn the language but to gain an understanding of the other culture.

“It’s no different from how you would figure out how to get along with anyone in a small-group dynamic,” he said.

Barron is originally from Richland, Wash., but will now be living in Houston near the space center.

“We all live out in town,” she said. “We have a real life outside of work.”

Articles

The war-tested C-130 is getting a massive upgrade

The Air Force is progressing with a massive technological overhaul of its warzone-tested C-130 aircraft, giving the platform new radios, digital avionics, collision avoidance technology and reinforced “wing-boxes,” service officials said.


The Air Force remains vigilant about its C-130 fleet to ensure the airframes, wingboxes, avionics and communication systems remain safe and operational well into the 2030s and beyond. This is particularly true of the older 1980s-era C-130Hs, Air Force developers explained.

Also read: AC-130 gunships could be outfitted with laser cannons

“The thing that causes the greatest risk to the airplane is the life of the wing. We monitor the wing of the aircraft and as the wings get past their service, life we bring the airplanes back in and bring in new structures — with the primary focus being the center wingbox which is the area where the wings mount to the fuselage,”Col. Robert Toth, Chief of Tactical Aircraft, Special Operations and Combat Search and Rescue Division, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
A C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 115th Airlift Squadron. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

As for when a C-130 is in need of a maintenance upgrade to preserve and maintain service life, the Air Force uses an assessment metric referred to as “equivalent baseline hours.” The wing-boxes are changed once the aircraft reaches a certain “severity factor” in its operational service time. This is necessary because the wear and tear or impact of missions upon and airplane can vary greatly depending upon a range of factors such as the altitude at which a plane is flying, Toth said.

“Low-level flight may be three to four times the severity factor of flying at a higher level,” he said.

Also, by January of 2020 the entire fleet of C-130s will need to comply with an FAA mandate and be equipped with systems that will relay aircraft position to a greater fidelity back and forth between the airplane and the air traffic management authorities, he added. This will allow them to sequence more aircraft closer together and enhance an ability to move commerce.

Avionics Modernization Program, Increment 1 involves adding new 8.33 radios to the aircraft to improve communication along with initiatives to upgrade cockpit voice recorders and digital data recorders. C-130s will also receive new collision-avoidance technology designed to prevent the planes from hitting terrain or colliding with one another mid-air.  Inc. 1 is currently ongoing and is slated to complete by 2019.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice
A C-130 Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron conducts a night flight mission over Yokota Air Base. | U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe

AMP Inc. 2 involves a larger-scale effort to integrate digital avionics throughout the airplane. Inc. 2 will require nine-months to one year of work and be completed by 2028, Toth explained.

“This will allow us to bring the airplane from analog to digital, integrate a glass cockpit and use touchscreen displays. We will get away from the old systems of avionics where we had dial-driven instrumentation to where it is all digital. This makes us able to process a lot more information,” Toth said.

As part of the C-130 modernization calculus, the Air Force will consider retiring some C-130Hs and replace them with newly-built C-130Js; the service has authority to acquire an additional 20 C-130Js, Toth added.

“We continue to evaluate where it makes sense to retire and older airplane and instead put that money into buying new airplanes,” he said.

C-130 Fleet

AC-130 gunships make up a small portion of a fleet of roughly 500 C-130 planes throughout the Air Force and Special Operations Command, Toth explained.

The cargo planes are used to airdrop supplies, equipment, weapons and troops in forward deployed locations.

As a propeller-driven aircraft, the C-130s are able to fly and land in more rugged conditions and withstand harsh weather such as obscurants. The propellers make the aircraft’s engines less susceptible to debris flying in and causing operational problems for the engines.

“It really allows you to do that tactical movement of equipment and personnel to take the airplane to the last tactical mile. A lot of our transport strategic airlifters are meant to go to a hard runway to a hard runway somewhere and then they turn over the cargo to be moved to the forward areas to a C-130 or a vehicle. The C-130 allows you to take that cargo and land on a smaller runway or an unimproved airfield,” Toth added.

C-130s are used for domestic, international and warzone transport including homeland security, disaster relief and supply deliveries, among other things.

“There are probably missions that have yet to be dreamed up for the C-130,” Toth said.

The fleet consists of 135 more modern C-130J aircraft and 165 older C-130Hs which have been around since the 80s, Toth explained.

Also, MC-130Js are specially modified airlifters engineered to transport Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Army Rangers.

“They are essentially a C-130J further modified with defensive systems with radar countermeasures and infrared radar and advanced sensors for specialized missions. They also can perform in-flight refueling,” Toth explained.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US military is preparing for North Korea’s ‘Christmas gift’

A top US Air Force general said Dec. 17, 2019, that the US is preparing responses just in case North Korea fires a long-range missile amid the stalled peace talks, possibly reigniting the tensions that characterized 2017.

North Korea warned earlier this month that “it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift” it gets, suggesting that failure to meet Pyongyang’s expectations could yield undesirable results.

“It’s not implausible that they could give the world a Christmas or New Year gift of an ICBM test,” Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, previously told Insider.


“What I would expect is some type of long-range ballistic missile would be the gift. It’s just a matter of, does it come on Christmas Eve? Does it come on Christmas Day? Does it come in after the new year?” Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the Pacific Air Forces commander, said Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

While there have been a number of short-range tests in recent months, North Korea has not launched a long-range missile since its successful test of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in late November 2017.

North Korea releases video showing the launch of the Hwasong-15 missile

www.youtube.com

“We’re watching,” Brown added, acknowledging that there are other possibilities. “I think there are a range of things that could occur.”

North Korea has given Washington until the end of the year to change the way it negotiates with Pyongyang. It has said that it will pursue a “new path” if the US does not lift its heavy sanctions in return for North Korea’s moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear testing. While the threat remains unclear, North Korea is using language similar to past ICBM tests.

Brown said Tuesday that the US military is dusting off responses should efforts to secure a diplomatic peace between the US and North Korea fail.

“Our job is to backstop the diplomatic efforts. And, if the diplomatic efforts kind of fall apart, we got to be ready,” he explained. “Go back to 2017, there’s a lot of stuff we did in 2017 that we can dust off pretty quickly and be ready to use.”

“We are looking at all of the things we have done in the past,” Brown added.

During the “fire and fury” tensions between the US and North Korea that defined 2017, the US routinely flew bombers over the Korean Peninsula as a symbol of support for US allies and as a warning to the North Korean regime.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This WWII-era ship got new life fixing helicopters in Vietnam

One side effect of the end of World War II was that the United States Navy was left with a lot of extra ships lying around. In fact, the Americans found themselves with so many extra hulls, they couldn’t even give some away. Decades later, that inability to offload ships worked in our nation’s favor — especially during the Vietnam War. Some of these old ships ended up learning new tricks, like the USS Albemarle (AV 5).

During World War II, USS Albemarle served as a seaplane tender, mostly with the Atlantic Fleet. She undertook a variety of missions in the 1950s and was slated to handle the P6M Martin Seamaster flying boat when it was introduced into service. Unfortunately, the P6M never saw the light of day and, in 1962, USS Albemarle was stricken from the Naval Register of Vessels.


One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

USS Albemarle in World War II, where she mostly served with the Atlantic Fleet.

(U.S. Navy)

Two years later, however, she was re-instated — but under a new name, USNS Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH 1). The military was facing a big problem and the former-USS Albemarle was the solution. The Vietnam War saw the first wide-scale use of helicopters in just about every facet of combat. Some served as gunships while others hauled troops. Some evacuated the wounded and others delivered supplies. Many them, however, got shot up in the process and needed repairs.

America had over 12,000 helicopters in Vietnam. With so many helicopters, transporting the damaged ones back to the United States for repairs would’ve been a logistical nightmare. So, instead of bringing helicopters to the repair facility, America brought the repair facility to the helicopters, in the form of USNS Corpus Christi Bay.

One of the Navy’s newest ships is finally free from Canadian ice

After two years of work, USS Albemarle (AV 5) became USNS Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH 1), a floating helicopter repair shop.

(U.S. Navy)

From 1966 to the end of the Vietnam War, USNS Corpus Christi Bay served as a floating repair depot for helicopters. Damaged choppers were brought in by barge, where they were fixed and returned to the front lines. USNS Corpus Christi Bay was again stricken in 1974 and scrapped, but she had served America honorably in two wars.

Learn more about her Vietnam-era service in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em1s7-Ph2wI

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

That Russian nerve agent is an old Cold War weapon

Novichok, the powerful nerve agent that British Prime Minister Theresa May says was used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, means “newcomer” in Russian. But the military-grade chemical is anything but.


Developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, novichoks are a group of advanced nerve agents designed to circumvent chemical weapons treaties and penetrate protective gear used by NATO forces.

Also read: All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

They are made of two nontoxic components that become lethal only when mixed together, making them difficult to detect and relatively safe and easy to transport and store. Once mixed, however, they are believed to be five to eight times more potent than the notorious nerve agent VX.

Dan Kaszeta, a London-based expert in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense (CBRN), said on Twitter that novichoks were “specifically developed to evade the West/NATO’s detection capabilities and foil intelligence collection efforts.”

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An example of a Novichok nerve agent.

Russia has vehemently denied any connection to the attack, which has left the 66-year-old Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter in a “critical but stable condition” at a Salisbury hospital after being exposed to the chemical on March 4, 2018.

‘Enough to kill tens of millions’

Novichoks gained notoriety in the early 1990s when Soviet scientist Vil Mirzayanov revealed that the country had secretly developed the powerful binary nerve gas that is believed to take effect rapidly by penetrating through the skin and respiratory system.

Mirzayanov, a chemist, told The New York Times in 1994 that the Russian stockpile of chemical weapons, some 60,000 tons, “would be enough to kill tens of millions.”

More: Chances are the hot model that added you to her social feed is a Russian spy

Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, the former head of Britain’s Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear regiment, told the Daily Express that novichoks are “designed to be undetectable for any standard chemical security testing.”

“Skripal would only have needed to touch it, as he opened a parcel, for it to be absorbed into his bloodstream,” he said.

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CCTV image showing Skripal buying groceries and scratch cards near his Salisbury home five days before he collapsed. (Photo by ITV News)

Despite the fact that novichoks were not developed in large quantities, de Bretton-Gordon said the Russians may have enough of them to kill several hundred thousand people.

Related: Ex-CIA agent and ‘Red Sparrow’ writer on Russian threats

He also warned that there could be hidden costs as well for those who come into contact with it such as “mutations in the next generation or future generations.”

The effects of novichoks are similar to other nerve agents.

It is believed that they attack muscles, especially around the heart and lungs, causing the collapse of body functions, including respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Articles

BREMMER: Brexit is the world’s most significant political risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis

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John F. Kennedy and Robert McNamara. | Wikimedia


It’s official: Britain has chosen to leave the European Union.

And markets are getting whacked.

Global stocks are in meltdown mode, the pound is getting clobbered, and analysts are getting antsy about the possibilityof a serious economic downturn in the UK and elsewhere.

But while the markets may have seen violent swings in the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave, the longer-term political ramifications of a Brexit are interesting to consider, too.

Earlier in the day, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer tweeted that the Brexit is “the most significant political risk the world has experienced since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

When asked to explain what he meant by that comparison, Bremmer told Business Insider in an email: “Yes it’s a significant shock for the near term. But it’s the tipping point it reflects longer term that really matters. Much, much more G-Zero.”

The term “G-Zero world,” coined by Bremmer and political scientist David F. Gordon, refers to a power-vacuum world in which “major powers set aside aspirations for global leadership – alone, coordinated, or otherwise – and look primarily inward for their policy priorities.”

In this kind of environment, global governance institutions become confrontational hotspots, and, as a result, economic growth and efficiency slows.

As for the Brexit, it has “enormous long-term and structural impact” and “critically undermines the Transatlantic Alliance – the most important alliance in the postwar era,” Bremmer said.

It “sharply weakens and probably leads to eventual disintegration of the UK” and “also ends further EU integration,” he said, “while the Brits need to be maximally punished by EU countries to ensure there isn’t a path for further exit.”

For what it’s worth, Bremmer isn’t the only one who warned of long-term political ramifications of a Brexit, including less EU integration going forward.

Ahead of the Brexit vote, a Citi Global Economics research team led by Ebrahim Rahbari, Willem Buiter, and Tina M. Fordham expressed similar sentiments in a note:

“We are very skeptical that the Eurozone and EU would respond to Brexit with attempts to deepen integration in the near-term. … Opposition to further European integration is fairly widespread across EU countries, both north and south and both debtor and creditor countries. We would therefore mostly expect a ‘freeze’ in terms of integration even though some areas may well see further headway (e.g. for existing initiatives in various areas, including banking union, capital markets union or energy union or some movement towards a Eurozone chamber in the European Parliament).”

Similarly, earlier in the week, a Deutsche Bank research team argued that in light of upcoming European elections and ongoing large-scale economic and political challenges like the migrant crisis, Europe is unlikely to see deeper coordination:

“Beyond the immediate risk events of the Brexit referendum and Spain election, geopolitical agenda remains in focus. This backdrop makes policy progress very unlikely as domestic politics drive the agenda [leading to] limited room for country-level structural reform [and] little progress toward EU or eurozone reform or integration.”

The team added that “policy uncertainty is and will remain high,” and noted that policy uncertainty in Europe is now around 2011-12 levels comparable to those during the height of the eurozone crisis.

Things are certainly starting to churn in Europe.

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Deutsche Bank Research

popular

This was the fastest manned aircraft ever

The Cold War was a great time for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. It seemed like they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted in the interest of just seeing if they could do it. But the X-15 was much more than just a power play. Even though the Air Force already had the perfect spy plane, capable of flying across the planet at Mach 3, they still decided to up the game just a little further and came away with some important discoveries, discoveries that led to the creation of the Space Shuttle.

Not to mention the world’s speed record for manned, powered flight – Mach 6.7.


The craft had to be drop launched from the wing of a specially modified B-52 Stratofortress but could reach the very edge of space, setting altitude records for winged aircraft. Once dropped from the wing of the “mother ship” the X-15 launched its XLR-99 rocket engine to propel the craft at hypersonic speeds. It was a unique plane because it was designed to operate in an environment where there was less air than other aircraft.

It was the world’s first spaceplane, thus it used rocket thrusters to control its altitude at times. It could switch back and forth between conventional flight controls as needed for exoatmospheric flight as well as landing the craft.

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There were three different X-15 airframes. One suffered from a landing accident in 1962 that injured pilot John McKay. As a result of this flight and the damage suffered to the airframe, the fuselage was lengthened, it was given extra drop tanks for fuel beneath the wings and was given an ablative coating to protect its pilot from the heat of hypersonic flight.

A second one was lost in 1967, just minutes after its launch. The craft had taken a video of the horizon at the edge of space and began its descent to the world below. As the craft descended, it entered a hypersonic spin. Even though its pilot, Michael J. Adams, was able to recover the plane at 36,000 feet, it then went into an inverted dive at Mach 4.7. The plane broke up under the stress and Adams was killed.

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View from the B-52 carrier aircraft (NASA)

Pilots who flew the X-15 to its highest altitudes were eventually given astronaut wings by the U.S. Air Force, considering the craft broke the USAF threshold for the edge of space at 50 miles above the surface of the earth. The craft would also make faster and faster hypersonic flights until Oct.3, 1967 when William J. “Pete” Knight took the craft to its maximum speed of 4,520 miles per hour.

Aside from these two achievements, the X-15 also had a number of notable firsts, including being the first restartable, throttle-controlled and man-rated rocket engine. It also tested the first spaceflight stellar navigation system and advanced pressure suits. The X-15 program was a direct ancestor of the modern Space Shuttle program, and without it, many notable achievements would not have happened.

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