Keen Sword is a Western Pacific region-wide multinational military exercise focused on the Japanese islands and their surrounding waters. This exercise, conducted by service elements from the United States, Canada, and Japan, is a biennial exercise conducted every other year. Keen Sword is a great representation of the cohesion and cooperation found within the U.S.-Japan Alliance and indicates the continued security focus of the Indo-pacific regional partners — a partnership that has existed for more than 60 years. Keen Sword exercises have been conducted since 1986.
Keen Sword 21, or KS21, was conducted between October 26th and November 5th, 2020. The FTX (Field Training Exercise) included nearly 10,000 personnel from the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The multinational, multi-service team also saw ships from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (pictured in the feature image) and more than 100 fixed and rotary wing aircraft — from all three participant nations.
While a significant amount of the exercise concentrated on both sea-surface and aviation assets, boots on the ground were also an absolutely integral part of the training and testing. Japan Self-Defense Force CH-47JA Chinooks dropped off Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade troops while their U.S. Marine counterparts from the USS Ashland hit the beach in small boats, as the units honed their coordinated amphibious and air-mobile assault skills. INDOPACOM and it’s partners no doubt take island-to-island combat seriously.
Though many events throughout the FTX were conducted at the unit level, unilaterally, the multinational integration portions were coordinated from the BECG (bilateral exercise control group) headshed located on Yokota Air Base, outside Tokyo. And although it says “bilateral,” we need not discount the aviation and surface assets present from the Royal Canadian Navy.
In addition to all of these warfighting domains, Japan’s air defense network was also tested. United States Army and Air Force ADA personnel worked alongside their JSDF allies to synchronize everyone’s ability to protect Japan in the event of an attack.
“The intent of this exercise was to enhance our combat readiness and interoperability by combining Air Defense capabilities with those of the U.S. Air Force and Japan Self-Defense Forces and that’s exactly what we did,” said CPT Daniel F. Emig, Air Defense officer, 38th ADA.
“As we develop new and better ways to operate and integrate, exercises like this clearly demonstrate the growing strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance,” stated LTG Kevin Schneider, commander, U.S. Forces Japan.
Furthermore, CPT Naochika Fujiwara, Japan Joint Staff director of training and exercises, and BECG co-director, said, “Exercises such as Keen Sword provide the opportunity to enhance our joint-bilateral capabilities, particularly by identifying and then overcoming obstacles through realistic and challenging training scenarios. Even more, Keen Sword provided a message that our Japan-U.S. Alliance continues to be a cornerstone of regional peace and security.”
According to Japan’s Asahi newspaper, the largest ever Keen Sword exercise — the previous iteration, in 2018 included “57,000 sailors, marines and airmen” of which “Japan’s contingent of 47,000 personnel represents a fifth of the nation’s armed forces.” Given the location of the FTX, of course the host nation will have the largest available force. But USINDOPACOM, U.S. Forces Japan, and the Royal Canadian Navy all have an important and significant role to play — just as they would in a real life live-fire wartime scenario.
On April 7, 2021, Team Rubicon CEO and Marine Corps veteran Jake Wood announced his decision to hand over the reins of leadership to Team Rubicon’s Chief Operating Officer, Art delaCruz. Despite the palpable ripple of shock felt by those outside the organization, it was always the plan.
Wood was candid in sharing he’d been thinking about this transition for years. “It’s not because I don’t enjoy it anymore but it’s just an exhausting job. You are responding to catastrophes 365 days a year and it wears on you,” he explained.
Ten years ago Wood lost one of his closest friends and original Team Rubicon partners, Clay Hunt, to suicide. The loss pushed Wood to go “all in” on the organization. Wood said he finds it “almost poetic” that after a decade of leading, he announced his transition of leaving on the anniversary of Clay’s funeral. “It’s just a good time to do it. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success and I am really proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Wood said.
The rise of Team Rubicon and its disaster relief support has been extraordinary throughout the past decade. But it was the global pandemic which truly demonstrated the vital impact and importance of the organization to communities across the world. Their leadership role in the fight against COVID-19 changed the landscape of disaster response and despite having its most successful year yet, Wood is more than ready to hand it all over to delaCruz.
DelaCruz came onboard as the COO in 2016 and was instrumental in scaling the work Team Rubicon has been able to accomplish. A retired Navy veteran and former TOPGUN instructor, his experience and skill set on the executive team was transformative, Wood said. Wood is confident the organization will flourish under delaCruz’s leadership.
“I made the decision back in December to step down as CEO while I was on paternity leave…I spent a lot of time reflecting during those six weeks off,” Wood shared. His youngest daughter was born with a serious heart condition, creating immense worry for both parents. The time of reflection with his family solidified his decision to transition out, he said.
His family is excited for the new role and future ahead, now that they too have gotten over the initial shock, according to Wood. “Being a Team Rubicon spouse is a lot like being a military spouse, you’re signed up too, because the job comes home with you,” he explained. “She’s been an amazing partner for me along the journey. She’s supported me and stuck by me during hard times. I think she’s also ready for a change and we are both excited to plot what’s next.”
Although Wood has no concrete plans yet, he jokingly said he definitely wasn’t ready to write another book. Now on a corporate board and exploring options, he remains excited for the future, whatever it holds. “I think by the time the official transition happens in June I’ll have settled on what the next thing is,” he said. “I love being an entrepreneur — it’s awesome. Greatest challenge ever and definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
It isn’t completely goodbye, either. You’ll still find Wood working hard to ensure Team Rubicon continues to serve communities across the globe for centuries to come. This time as its Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. “I’m excited to have a role that still has me meaningfully involved in the organization…I know how hard it is to be at the top and I hope to continue to support Art as he needs it and be a thought partner for him,” he explained.
With zero regrets, Wood said he’s confident that leadership will be in the best possible hands and he can’t wait to tackle his new adventures this summer. “The one thing I always told our staff is that I would not cling on to this job simply because I’m a founder,” he said with a laugh. “I always said that I would walk away when the time was right. The time is right.”
Representative Martha McSally, R-Az., an Air Force veteran, launched into the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing in the Capitol after they testified that manning levels were too low and budget cuts were too high. According to a story posted at Air Force Times, McSally called their logic the “newest excuse” for prematurely retiring the venerable A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft, and she questioned if it wouldn’t be wiser to cut non-essential personnel like “the hundreds of people playing tuba and clarinet.”
“If we really had a manning crisis, from my perspective, we would really tell people to put down the tuba and pick up a wrench or a gun,” McSally said during the hearing. “But we’re not at that place, and I’m just concerned over these conflicting statements.”
“We’ve mothballed the equivalent of four A-10 squadrons since 2012, we have only nine remaining, and there are actually less airplanes in them than we used to have,” McSally said.
“It’s not just a platform issue, it’s a training issue,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, CJCS, replied. “As the advocate for close-air support and joint capabilities, I absolutely believe we need a transition plan, and there needs to be a replacement for the A-10 before it goes away.”
“We need a fifth-generation fighter, but when it comes to close-air support, the F-35 having shortfalls in loiter time, lethality, weapons load, the ability to take a direct hit, to fly close combat … and … needs evaluation,” she said.
McSally knows a thing or two about the topic of military aviation. She graduated from the Air Force Academy and then spent 22 years serving as an attack pilot, including commanding an A-10 squadron. In 2001 she famously sued DoD over the policy of making female service members wear veils while stationed in Saudi Arabia. She retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel and spent a year as a college professor in Germany before running for Congress. She lost a close race for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District in 2012, and then won a close race two years later.
And, for the record, the Air Force says it currently has about 540 enlisted airmen and 20 officers assigned to band billets.
C-ARTS ushers in a new standard in mobile, interactive training, designed to meet the instructional needs and expectations of tech savvy Sailors, accustomed to learning through hands-on classes that exploit augmented, virtual, and mixed reality learning tools.
The C-ARTS facility is located on the waterfront at NNS and also nearby Newport News Shipbuilding for Sailors assigned to PCU John F. Kennedy. Since December, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has been conducting multiple underway test and training evolutions, as part of an 18-month phase of operations known as Post-Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T), scheduled to continue through mid-2021. The crew on this first-in-class aircraft carrier are certifying fuel and on-board combat systems as well as exercising the flight deck, launching and arresting aircraft as part of critical aircraft compatibility testing. In preparation for these complex tasks, many Sailors have attended unique training courses, conducted at the C-ARTS facility.
“As the first new aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years, Gerald R. Ford is integrating advanced warfighting technologies essential for air dominance in an era of great power competition,” said Downey. “Sailors can’t wait to receive training on these systems. C-ARTS provides the capability to bring high-velocity instruction to crews at the Sailor’s point of need.”
When the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System launched its first course in 2018, C-ARTS instructors guided technicians through the complexities of fiber optic cable repair. Since then, more than 500 Sailors have completed 17 courses logging more than 5,700 total classroom hours.
Interior Communications Specialist 1st Class Jessica Diaz, assigned to CNAL and the first billeted instructor assigned to the Ford Center of Excellence, participated in the C-ARTS ceremony demonstrating her training proficiency of the high-velocity learning opportunity for Sailors assigned to Ford-class aircraft carriers.
“As the lead instructor I am responsible for building curriculum that is both hands-on and interactive while utilizing the augmented, virtual, and mixed reality learning tools,” said Diaz. “The training is currently tailored to the 29 new systems including the Advanced Weapons Elevators, Machinery Control Monitoring System, and Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System found on the Ford Class Carrier but there is unlimited potential to be used fleet wide.”
The 1,000-sq-ft reconfigurable classrooms offer “high-velocity” learning—integral to the Sailor 2025 concept of providing ready relevant learning at the sailor’s point of need. C-ARTS provides innovative tools for delivering the right training at the right time in the right way to crews in modern, spacious spaces—all in the shadow of the ships on which sailors serve.
As the Command Master Chief assigned to the future USS John F. Kennedy, Wright brings a credible amount of experience to the table. Having served on board the Enterprise, Nimitz, and Ford class aircraft carriers he is witnessing the warrior ethos today’s Sailors display.
“Technology is a vehicle that Sailors continue to benefit from,” said Wright. “I am happy to serve on a Ford-class aircraft carriers knowing that through C-ARTS we have brought the training to the Sailors on the waterfront. This form of high velocity learning will allow us to fulfill the vision of the Sailor 2025 concept in building warriors who serve at sea.”
The training site consists of two stand-alone, 53-foot trailers, which may operate either in pairs—with one unit providing an electronic classroom and the other a maintenance lab—or independently. Adjustable classroom configurations can accommodate 16 students, each training on two 24-inch touch screen monitors, with instructors teaching a single class or two classes of eight students. In the lab, eight students perform tasks from portable workbenches using 24-inch touch-screen monitors.
Delivering training at the Sailor’s point of need helps to mitigate impacts to Sailors’ work/life balance. In the case of the C-ARTS facility at Naval Station Norfolk, CVN 78 Sailors can walk 1,200 ft. from pier 11, where the CVN 78 is berthed. Two other units are also located at Newport News Shipbuilding, walking distance to Pier 3, where the John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is under construction. A fifth 1,000-sq-ft classroom unit is planned to join the C-ARTS location at NS Norfolk in Spring 2021..
Spoiler Alert: This is not an Article 107 News article. The federal government paid over $53 million to two companies to build combat helmets between 2006 and 2009. The cost is not the problem. The problem is almost 150,000 Army and Marine Corps combat helmets were defective.
And oh by the way, prisoners made the helmets.
First of all, the prisoners came from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, working under… wait for it… a federally owned company called Federal Prison Industries. But wait, there’s more! FPI, also known as UNICOR, received the sub-contract from a privat vendor, ArmourSource LLC.
So, a private company was awarded a government contract to make combat helmets after normal bidding procedures. No problem.
The private company then sub-contracted out a federally owned company for cheap prison labor and reaped a $30.3 million windfall as a result. That’s a problem, even if just from a perception viewpoint.
Furthermore, FPI received its own contract to make helmets for the US Marine Corps. A federally owned company received a contract from its “owner,” and all without competitive bidding. True to form, the government recalled the helmets after multiple deficiencies. This isn’t a case of “lowest bidder;” this is a case of negligence. It is negligent to entrust the lives of American soldiers with equipment made by federal prisoners.
Scrap kevlar used in between layers (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
Blisters and bubbles which caused decreased effectiveness (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
Prisoners pried off kevlar pieces to use as potential weapons against guards (less material means, yep, won’t stop bullets)
And my personal favorite:
Prisoners prepared and conducted quality certifications on order from the FPI staff, and FPI staff signed the certifications without checking the prisoners’ work.
Consequently, ArmourSource settled for $3 million and still makes products for the military. The loss to the military was over $19 million. That seems like an unfair trade if you ask me.
If ever there was a time for people to call for accountability in the government contracting process, this is it. Discuss it, debate it, and actually support the troops you say you support. War is a money-making machine and if you didn’t understand that after the $5 billion “Universal Combat Pattern” debacle then you do now.
I understand prison industry is a vital tool for teaching job skills and reducing recidivism rates. What I do not understand is how anyone with a simple knowledge of course of action analysis felt it was a good idea to allow federal criminals to build US military equipment and put soldiers’ lives at risk.
Dog Tag Bakery is justly renowned for its butterscotch blondies and buttery cinnamon buns. But the Washington, D.C., shop has a mission that goes far beyond turning out stellar baked goods. In partnership with nearby Georgetown University, Dog Tag runs a nonprofit fellowship program that operates as a living business school for post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as for military spouses and caregivers.
Twice a year, between 14 and 16 fellows go through the five-month program, which combines academics and hands-on small business experience. Fellows take seven courses that cover business basics, including finance, strategy, marketing, management and communications. Those courses are taught by Georgetown faculty in a classroom above the bakery. Meanwhile, on the floor of the bakery itself, fellows learn a wide range of practical skills, like how to decorate a cake, interact with customers, and manage a budget. For their capstone project, fellows are required to create and present a fully-vetted business plan, complete with operations, marketing, logistics, and financial projections, to help solidify the value of an entrepreneurial mindset.
Wellness is a cornerstone of the fellowships with daily workshops in mindfulness, journaling, nutrition and yoga. And, to relieve financial barriers to participating in the program, fellows receive a $1,400 monthly stipend, as well as a laptop for use during the program.
Claire Witko. Photo by Richie Downs Photography.
Claire Witko, Dog Tag’s director of programs, says the fellowship is designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. “That includes,” she says, “understanding that failure is an unavoidable part of forging a successful path forward, and that learning how to rebound and find creative solutions to challenges are essential skills.”
The aim of the program, however, isn’t to groom the next Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey.
“We don’t define success,” Witko said. “Our fellows discover their own definition of success. It’s about finding purpose and voice.”
Fellows who complete the program earn a Certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown. Many find themselves transformed.
“Alumni often emerge completely different people,” Witko said. “They have new confidence; they know what they want and how to pursue it.”
That was certainly the case for Adela Wilson, a 2019 Dog Tag fellow. The wife of an Air Force veteran who was medically retired in 2007, the 51-year-old mother of three sons had resettled her family in several cities in the Middle East and Europe during her husband’s 15-year military career. In each new city, she’d forged a career for herself in sales. But back home in Virginia, acting as her husband’s full-time caretaker, she felt she’d lost her sense of identity and, she says, her “edge.”
“Getting accepted into the fellowship was lifechanging,” Wilson said. “The program is like drinking through a firehose. It’s so intense and fast-paced.”
She loved every minute of it, from the improv workshops and a visit to Capitol Hill where the Dog Tag fellows had meetings with Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Mark Warner of Indiana, to “living labs” where executives from corporations like Boeing, Nestle and Capital One mentor fellows on soft skills like delivering an elevator pitch or understanding your personality style.
Today, Wilson works as a career transitions specialist at the Wounded Warrior Project, helping veterans overcome barriers to employment.
“I feel like I’m really making a difference and I absolutely love my job,” she said.
A favorite word at Dog Tag, Wilson says, is “pivot”— fellows are encouraged to be flexible and open to new goals as their circumstances and passions change. When COVID-19 struck, the organization had to do some pivoting of its own, taking the fellowship classes and workshops virtual.
“We’ve learned how to bring the experience of being in the kitchen to Zoom,” Witko said. “The fall fellowship will be completely virtual and we’re beginning to explore hybrid models — a combination of in-person and remote elements — for the post-COVID world.”
Meanwhile, the bakery itself has reopened for business. Featured on the menu is a specialty created by some recent fellows as their capstone project: freshly baked bread pudding topped with homemade caramel and a drizzle of chocolate. Success, as the saying goes, is sweet.
By the numbers Since it began its fellowship program in 2014, Dog Tag Inc. has enrolled 148 Fellows across 12 cohorts, or classes. Here’s a look at who these fellows are: Age (at time of enrollment) 18-24: 3% 25-31: 24% 32-38: 24% 39-45: 22% 46-52: 22% 53 and older: 5% Gender Male: 41% Female: 59%
What appeared to be a contact-style naval mine was detected mysteriously floating off the coast of Washington state Aug. 28, 2018, prompting the US Navy to send in a team to destroy it, according to local reports.
Images of the mine, which was first discovered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, showed a round, rust-covered object with rods protruding from it floating in the water near Bainbridge Island, located across the way from Seattle and near Naval Base Kitsap, which is home to one of the Navy’s most important shipyards, Puget Sound.
The Navy sent an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team to deal with the mine while the Coast Guard and local authorities set up a safety zone, encouraging nearby residents to shelter in their homes.
“Upon initial inspection, the unidentified moored mine was found to have decades of marine growth,” the Navy revealed. After lassoing the mine and dragging it out to open waters, the Navy EOD team detonated the mine at around 8 pm Aug. 28, 2018.
The Navy noted that because there was no secondary explosion, the old mine was most likely inert, according to local media. The Navy detonated the mine at sea because it was initially unclear whether or not there were explosives inside.
Exactly how the mine ended up off the coast of Washington remains a mystery.
Featured image: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, conducts floating mine response training with the Kuwait Naval Force, Nov. 9, 2014.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
U.S. Navy SEALs — the elite Special Operations group with a name that has earned its reputation around the world. If people know the name of one elite unit, it’s probably the Navy SEALs.
U.S. Army Rangers — as old as American history itself, they have presented themselves as masters of both conventional and unconventional warfare time and time again. During the Global War on Terror (GWOT), they have evolved into a precision special operations force (SOF) and gained extensive combat experience, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Both are intensely involved in the GWOT, and both have had resounding successes and serious losses. As modern warfare continues to evolve, which one of these SOF units has delivered more impact in the War on Terror?
Navy SEALs train at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
(Photo by John Scorza, courtesy of U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command)
When discussing the U.S. Navy SEALs, it’s important to distinguish between the SEAL Teams and SEAL Team Six. SEAL Team Six (sometimes referred to as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU) belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and is tasked with executing a broad scope of special missions that often have a direct impact on the United States’ foreign policy and national security strategy. Most notably, they were responsible for killing Usama Bin Laden in 2011.
The other SEAL teams are under the purview of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) and conduct special operations, often against terrorists and insurgents. This can be confusing since the vast majority of U.S. troops in foreign engagements from Afghanistan to Syria are fighting “terrorists,” but SEAL Team Six specializes in it.
Navy SEALs conduct operations in Afghanistan alongside Afghan partners.
(U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command)
In short, SEAL Team Six is conducting complex missions like hostage rescue; high-level, low-visibility reconnaissance; and direct-action raids against high-value targets (more in the vein of Delta Force, their Army counterpart). The other SEAL Teams have a different overall mission, though overlap does exist. The clear-stated mission on paper is to conduct maritime-based missions, but that is certainly not the end of it. Special operations units are versatile, and today’s SEALs are often training friendly foreign forces, conducting direct-action raids in and outside of large American engagements, or performing their legacy mission of carrying out maritime missions.
SEALs are currently conducting operations in war zones around the world; not all of the teams are relegated to Afghanistan and Syria. They have recently worked in the Philippines, Djibouti, Central America, and South America, to name a few places. They are not necessarily running direct-action raids in all these places. For example, conducting FID (Foreign Internal Defense) with a host nation could mean accompanying local groups on missions, or it could simply mean training them on basic infantry tactics and calling it a day.
A Navy SEAL conducts training with a SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV).
(U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command)
Rangers, on the other hand, are more specific when it comes to geography. You’re not going to run into a Ranger platoon in the middle of Ethiopia, and Rangers aren’t going to be the ones tasked with hostage rescue missions off the Ivory Coast. For the most part, they go to places where there is a large American presence (or where the military wants there to be one), where the fighting is heavy and the missions are frequent, and they can roll up their sleeves and get busy. They are a precision strike force, but they are precise amid large military efforts.
While Rangers also conduct FID missions, especially in Afghanistan, their purpose revolves around kill/capture missions on a day-to-day basis.
Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment prepare to conduct an airfield seizure.
(75th Ranger Regiment)
Seizing an airfield is to Rangers as a maritime raid is to the SEALs. The 75th Ranger Regiment is known for its ability to take an airfield from enemy control, though this hasn’t actually been conducted for years. Most of the time, Rangers are conducting kill or capture raids in Afghanistan. In fact, they were credited with killing or capturing over 1,900 terrorists during a recent deployment to Afghanistan. They have had a presence in Syria as well.
As terrorism and insurgent-type tactics have been more common among the enemies of the United States (in contrast to conventional military tactics), the need for special operations units has skyrocketed. Rangers, SEALs, and other elite groups have found themselves bearing that weight, evolving rapidly, and fulfilling the needs of a constantly changing battlefield.
A Ranger from the 75th Ranger Regiment conducts close quarters combat training.
(75th Ranger Regiment)
These units are required to have a breadth of skillsets, intensive training, and a specific state of body and mind — however, that doesn’t mean that every deployment is rife with firefights and explosions. Many Ranger deployments to Afghanistan have ended with no shots fired; many SEALs will deploy to countries around the world without conducting any raids.
So, who has the greatest impact on the GWOT?
Rangers often use helicopters to get to their objective.
(75th Ranger Regiment)
Many of these conversations — Rangers versus SEALs versus MARSOC versus PJs versus Green Berets — devolve into a “which one is better” conversation. However, each has their task and function, and asking whether one is better than the other is like asking if a cardiac surgeon is “better” than a neurosurgeon — it depends on if you need heart surgery or brain surgery. The better informed find themselves asking: “Who is better at a maritime interdiction?” “Who can take this airport?” “Who has a presence in this area?” These are the practical questions that warrant practical answers, and those are the ones that matter on the practical battlefield.
This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.
U.S. Army soldiers descending on a field outside Mont Saint Michel.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Avery Cunningham)
The jump celebrated the 75th anniversary of jumps by three-man “Jedburgh” teams ahead of the Allied invasion of Normandy during WWII. Around 300 Allied troops dropped behind enemy lines to train and equip local resistance fighters.
The “10th SFG(A) draws [its] lineage from the Jedburghs. We’re celebrating their combined effort to liberate Western Europe with local forces,” a senior enlisted soldier assigned to 10th SFG (A) said in a statement.
A US soldier collecting his parachute after landing.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexis K. Washburn)
“Overall it was a great jump. It was smooth and went as planned,” one soldier who made the jump explained, adding, “It’s an outstanding experience to be able to honor the paratroopers who jumped into France during World War II.”
Lockheed Martin completed the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline, a company statement said.
“Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the 5th Generation Raptor’s Very Low Observable radar cross-section,” Lockheed stated.
The increase in F-22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support, and antenna calibration.
Also, Air Force officials have told Scout Warrior that, by 2019, the service will begin upgrading F-22 functionality for the AIM-120D and AIM-9X Air-to-Air missiles as well as enhanced Air-to-Surface target location capabilities. The F-22 currently carries the AIM-9X Block 1 and the current upgrade will enable carriage of AIM-9X Block 2.
Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers explain that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuse and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety. Block II also features updated electronics that enable significant enhancements, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range engagements, a Raytheon statement said.
Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states. The AIM-120D is built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurment units, and a two-way data link, Raytheon statements explain.
The AIM-120D also includes improved High-Angle Off-Boresight technology enabling the weapon to destroy targets at a wider range of angles.
Additional upgrades to the stealth fighter, slated for 2021, are designed to better enable digital communications via data links with 4th and 5th generation airplanes.
As the Air Force and Lockheed Martin move forward with weapons envelope expansions and enhancements for the F-22, there is, of course, a commensurate need to upgrade software and its on-board sensors to adjust to emerging future threats, industry developers explained. Ultimately, this effort will lead the Air Force to draft up requirements for new F-22 sensors.
The Air Force is in the early phases of designing new sensors for its stealthy 5th-generation F-22 Raptor as it proceeds with software upgrades, hardware adjustments, new antennas, and data link improvements designed to better enable to connect the F-22 and F-35 sensor packages to one another, industry officials explained.
Sensor interoperability, two-way data links, and other kinds of technical integration between the two 5th-Gen stealth aircraft are considered key to an Air Force combat strategy which intends for the F-22 speed and air-to-air combat supremacy to complement and work in tandem with the F-35’s next-gen sensors, precision-attack technology, computers, and multi-role fighting mission ability.
An essential software adjustment, called “Update 6,” is now being worked on by Lockheed Martin engineers on contract with the Air Force. Work on the software is slated to be finished by 2020, John Cottam, F-22 Program Deputy, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.
“The F-22 is designed to fly in concert with F-35. Software Update 6 for the F-22 will give the Air Force a chance to link their sensor packages together. Sensors are a key component to its capability. As the F-22 gets its new weapons on board – you are going to need to upgrade the sensors to use the new weapons capability,” Cottam added.
A hardware portion of the upgrades, called a “tactical mandate,” involves engineering new antennas specifically designed to preserve the stealth configuration of the F-22.
“New antennas have to be first constructed. They will be retrofitted onto the airplane. Because of the stealth configuration, putting antennas on is difficult and time consuming,” Cottam said.
While the F-35 is engineered with dog-fighting abilities, its advanced sensor technology is intended to recognize enemy threats at much further distances – enabling earlier, longer-range attacks to destroy enemies in the air. Such technologies, which include 360-degree sensors known as Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Aperture System and a long range Electro-Optical Targeting System, are designed to give the F-35 an ability to destroy targets at much longer ranges – therefore precluding the need to dogfight.
Like the F-35, the latest F-22s have radar and data-links, radar warning receivers, and targeting technologies. Being that the F-22 is regarded as the world’s best air-to-air platform, an ability for an F-35 and F-22 to more quickly exchange sensor information, such as targeting data, would produce a potential battlefield advantage, industry developers and Air Force senior leaders have explained.
For example, either of the aircraft could use stealth technology to penetrate enemy airspace and destroy air defense systems. Once a safe air corridor is established for further attacks, an F-22 could maintain or ensure continued air supremacy while an F-35 conducted close-air-support ground attacks or pursued ISR missions with its drone-like video-surveillance technology. Additionally, either platform could identify targets for the other, drawing upon the strengths of each.
Conversely, an F-35 could use its long-range sensors and “sensor fusion” to identify airborne targets which the F-22 may be best suited to attack.
Air Force developers are, quite naturally, acutely aware of the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter and Russia’s PAK-FA T-50 stealth aircraft as evidence that the US will need to work vigorously to sustain its technological edge.
Along these lines, both the F-22 and F-35 are engineered to draw from “mission data files,” described as on-board libraries storing information on known threats in particular geographical locations. This database is integrated into a radar warning receiver so that aircraft have the earliest possible indication of the threats they are seeing.
Cottam also explained that the House and Senate have directed the Air Force to look at two different potential sensor upgrades for the F-22, an effort the service is now in the conceptual phase of exploring.
“A sensor enhancement program is now being configured. We do not know what that is going to entail because it is not yet funded by the Air Force and we have not seen a requirements documents,” Cottam said. “Threats in the world are always evolving so we need to evolve this plane as well.”
Newer F-22s have a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which uses electromagnetic signals or “pings” to deliver a picture or rendering of the terrain below, allow for better target identification.
The SAR technology sends a ping to the ground and then analyzes the return signal to calculate the contours, distance and characteristics of the ground below.
On January 13, 2018, a ballistic missile alert went out across televisions, radios, and cellphones in the state of Hawaii. The message went out at 0807 local time and civil defense outdoor warning sirens went off across the islands. However, the alert turned out to be an accident. On December 12, 2020, Ramstein Air Base had a similar alert.
Ramstein Air Base personnel were alerted to a real world inbound missile strike and received an Alarm Red MOPP 4 notification. “Take immediate action!” The alert read. “For further information refer to Airman’s manual.” While the alert certainly put a lot of people in the Kaiserslautern Military Community on edge, the “All Clear” was issued two minutes later. It is unknown what triggered the warning system’s mass alert. However, the alert was later attributed to an exercise.
“Attention Team Ramstein, today, the Ramstein Air Base Command Post was notified via an alert notification system of a real-world missile launch in the European theater. The Command Post followed proper procedure and provided timely and accurate notifications to personnel in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. The missile launch was then assessed to be part of a training exercise and not a threat to the KMC area. The situation is all clear. We’d like to thank our Command Post members for their quick response to ensure our people stay informed so they can take the proper safety precautions.”
Despite the all clear and the message from the Command Post, personnel in the KMC area remain on edge. “That’s not the kind of thing you joke about,” one anonymous service member told WATM. “Hasn’t 2020 been hard enough?” Neither USEUCOM nor Ramstein Air Base have released an official statement regarding the incident.
The erroneous 2018 Hawaii missile alert was corrected 38 minutes after it went out. Following the incident, the FCC and Hawaii House of Representatives conducted investigations into the cause of the event. These resulted in the resignation of the state’s emergency management administrator. Whether or not the alert at Ramstein was a training exercise, the reaction of the KMC community was very real.
There’s an old U.S. Marine adage: “The only color that matters in the Corps is green.” That saying got its start in the 1970s under the guidance of Gen. Leonard Chapman, Jr. In the 20th Century, the U.S. military was far ahead of the rest of the country in terms of race relations.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its shameful moments.
There are so many stories of American troops overcoming racial bias in World War II because Chapman is right: the only color that mattered was (and still is) green. It would be years before these stories became widespread. It would take even longer for the stories of racial bias without happy endings to come to light.
One such story is that Cpl. John E. James, Jr. James, an African-American drafted in 1941, attended officer training school at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1942. But instead of graduating with the deserved rank of second lieutenant, he was given corporal’s stripes and shipped overseas with an all-black unit.
The U.S. Army rectified that error in judgment on June 29, 2018, according to the New York Times. James was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant at age 98.
“It’s unbelievable,” James, who comes from a military family dating all the way back to the Revolution, told the New York Times. “I thought it would never happen.”
James’ daughter spent three years fighting the Army Review Board to get her father his promotion. It was originally denied because his OCS records were lost in a fire – but they resurfaced in the National Archives. His daughter even had a photo of his graduating class as proof.
(Museum of the American Revolution)
When James was told he wasn’t going to be an officer, he did his duty like any U.S. troop might have during World War II. He took the racial injustice and became a typist in a quartermaster battalion. When he got home after the war, he didn’t even tell his wife.
But 76 years later, with the support of his family and his senator, he found himself reciting the officer’s oath to retired Air Force General and former Chief of Staff John P. Jumper at the Museum of the American Revolution.
There is no word on his date of rank and if it comes with back pay.