Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

With a baby on the way, Spc. Donald Ulloa and his wife were up all night preparing for the arrival of a new child. With no such luck on this particular day, he went about his normal routine.

Ulloa, a soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was at a gas station with his Family in the car when he witnessed a vehicle accident. He looked toward the road and saw a car hit a motorcyclist before the motorcyclist flew through the air.


His soldier skills kicked in and he didn’t hesitate, he ran toward the accident and immediately began to assess the situation. He quickly realized the bike on the motorcyclist’s leg needed to be moved, so he threw the bike off the man before looking around to delegate tasks. One person called 911 and another woman was able to translate from Spanish to English for Ulloa, while he began applying his combat lifesaver course techniques until emergency services arrived.

“That’s just the type of soldier he is,” said Sgt. 1st Class Billy Thornton, human resources NCO, HHC, 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT. “To be the first one on scene was great — whether here or overseas — he would do the same. I was surprised by the event, but not by Ulloa’s actions. I had immediate praise for him.”

When it comes to chaotic events, Thornton said he knows Ulloa is always ready. The office staff is constantly training to be prepared for any situation, and Ulloa is always looking for ways to improve.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

Spc. Donald Ulloa, a soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, helps Soldiers on the range.

The military taught Ulloa to remain calm in hectic situations. Whether on a range, at a shoot house or downrange, Ulloa said the first thing he realized was that he needed to be calm. But looking back, he believes he did what anyone else would have done.

“I don’t think that I could have done anything differently … as infantrymen we are taught to run toward it and provide help,” he said.

Not wanting to see any child grow up without a parent, Ulloa said it doesn’t matter who it is. He would have done the same for anyone, because he believes “it’s everyday soldier training; its selfless service, sacrifice, integrity … day one or 20 years later it’s all the same core values that are instilled in you.”

Ulloa’s quick actions that day demonstrated only a fraction of the soldier he is.

“I’ve only known Ulloa since May of this year,” Thornton said. “We showed up at Fort Carson at the same time. He does everything he is asked and in a timely manner, and he is respectful to superiors and peers. He is a model soldier.”

He recently was named “4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Soldier of the Week” for his accomplishments within the unit. The company started a program that prepares the brigade for deployments, called “Raider Onboard.” The unit ensures soldiers are deployable with the three-week program by ensuring their paperwork and annual online classes are completed. The second week focuses on buddy aid and the combat lifesavers course, and week three hones in on driver training and issuing military licenses.

Since June 2018, Ulloa has processed nearly 900 soldiers through the program, making the unit, battalion, and brigade more readily deployable.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, congratulate one another on the M4 iron sights zero range at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 10, 2009.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli, Colorado National Guard)

“Because of the manning, it became difficult,” Thornton said, before asking Ulloa to help as an assistant instructor. “Ulloa just took over … that when I came in; my commander and sergeant major said they wanted a volunteer program.”

Before moving to Fort Carson, Ulloa completed hundreds of volunteer hours, without recognition, at his last duty station.

So it was right up his alley when he was asked to pitch in with the unit’s designated driver program.

Ulloa earned his volunteer service medal by doing various things with the unit. He also volunteered for cleanup through the city of Colorado Springs, including gathering about 50 people to help clean up the area.

“It was a massive undertaking,” Thornton said.

He volunteered to raise money through a silent auction for a children’s hospital. This along with many other volunteer events is what pushed him over his hours for his first Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

“It was my pleasure to write up his award. Ulloa is about to receive his second volunteer service medal,” Thornton said.

It takes many soldiers years to get the award, but he is not surprised Ulloa is about to earn his second. Thornton said he can always count on Ulloa in areas where volunteers are needed.

“Ulloa’s work ethic and values supersede his rank,” he said.

Thornton said that regardless of the task, he is confident when Ulloa fills in for him, he “takes it and runs with it.”

Thornton said he has worked with a lot of good soldiers and despite the recent attention on Ulloa, he is humble about it.

Ulloa said he wasn’t looking for recognition but instead wanted the unit to be highlighted for the designated driver program.

Because of the program that Ulloa helped set up, other soldiers have come forward to volunteer as part of the program and some have chosen to quit drinking because of this program, he said. And to date the 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, does not have any DUIs.

Due to an accident while serving, Ulloa is set to get out of the Army soon.

“I wish Ulloa the best of luck,” Thornton said. “I hope he continues to support his community and I am quite sure he will.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran says it is negotiating 25-year bilateral deal with China

Iran has been negotiating a 25-year accord with China “with confidence and conviction,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told parliament on July 5, saying its terms will be announced once the deal is struck.

Zarif insisted there was nothing secret about the prospective deal, which he said was raised publicly in January 2016 when President Xi Jinping visited Tehran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also has publicly supported a strategic bilateral partnership with China.


China is Iran’s top trading partner and a key market for Iranian crude oil exports, which have been severely curtailed by U.S. sanctions.

Zarif made the comments in his first address to parliament since a new session began in late May after elections that were dominated by hard-liners.

During the session, Zarif was heckled by lawmakers largely over his key role in negotiating a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the U.S. unilaterally abandoned in 2018 before reimposing sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal saying it was not decisive enough in ensuring Iran would never be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Trump wants Tehran to negotiate a new accord that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear program and restrict Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States withdrew.

The 2015 deal provided the Islamic republic relief from international sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program, but Iranian hard-liners staunchly opposed the multilateral agreement, arguing the United States could never be trusted.

Hard-liners in the Iranian parliament also said on July 5 they were seeking to summon Zarif and President Hassan Rohani to respond to accusations of “betraying the people.” Several deputies called Rohani a liar as they heckled him continuously.

Lawmaker Mohammed-Taghi Nagh-Ali said during the session that Rohani and Zarif have betrayed the people and “must therefore be held responsible,” according to the semiofficial ILNA news agency.

Rohani’s policies have led to the country’s current economic crisis, and his arguments are “no longer acceptable,” Nagh-Ali said.

Some 200 members of parliament have tabled a motion to question Rohani.

Since winning their seats in February, hard-liners in Iran have been putting greater pressure on Rohani, accusing him of making too many concessions to Western nations and getting little in return.

Rohani argues that U.S. sanctions and the global coronavirus pandemic are behind the economic crisis.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why bayonet training is still just as important for today’s troops

Today’s military has many antiquated training plans still written into the calendar. Troops will still practice drill and ceremony despite the fact that the need for marching into combat died out more than a hundred years ago. We still sharpen our land navigation skills despite the fact that we have overwhelming technological advantages that make the use of more primitive tools highly improbable.

However, the one training that always draws the loudest “but why?” from the back of the formation is bayonet warfare. And you know what? That loud, obnoxious dude isn’t entirely wrong — the last time “fix bayonets!” was officially ordered to a company-sized element in combat was by Col. Lewis Millet during the Korean War.

But bayonet training isn’t about just learning to attach a “pointy thing to your boomstick and poking the blood out of people,” as an old infantry sergeant once told me. It’s about laying the fundamentals of everything else.


Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

It’s only silly if you make it silly. If you do, the other guy will knock the silliness out of you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Marnell)

Bayonet training was officially taken off the Army’s basic training schedule back in 2010 because it created scheduling conflicts with other needed skills. Still, some drill sergeants find a way to work it in on their own time. The Marine Corps still learns the skill, but it’s a part of the greater Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

The training is always conducted in stages. The first stage is to have the recruits train on pugil sticks — giant, cotton-swab-looking sticks. This teaches a warfighter the importance of maintaining a positive footing while trying to overpower an opponent. Literally anyone can take on anyone in a pugil stick match because it’s not about size or strength — it’s about control.

Learning to control your body while asserting dominance on your enemy is crucial in close-quarters combat. Once you’ve mastered the pugil stick, you can move on to bayonets.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

“Yeah! Take that, tire! F*ck you!”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II)

Fighting with a bayonet is less like fighting with a rifle that happens to have a knife attached and more like using a spear that has a rifle on it. Much of the same footwork learned while training with pugil sticks plays a role here. Maintain good footing, thrust your bayonet into the enemy, and send them to their maker.

Maintaining good footing is a fundamental of nearly every single martial arts form known to man. Instead of having troops learn a martial art (which would take years to yield workable results), troops can come to understand the importance of footwork by just stabbing a worn-out tire — much more efficient.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

“Fix bayonets!”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Maximiliano Bavastro)

The third and most vital lesson that’s secretly taught behind the guise of bayonet training is when the troops line up to conduct a full charge toward targets.

Sure, without the real threat of danger, the point may be missed by some, but it’s important nonetheless. If you and your unit are tasked with making a last-ditch effort to stop the enemy and all you have is your bayonet, many of you may die. But when you know for certain that you and your brothers will charge into death head-on with the hopes of gutting at least that one, last son of a b*tch… you’ve embraced the warrior lifestyle.

Sure, missing out on that life lesson doesn’t hurt the “combat effectiveness” that training room officers love to care about, but there’s little else that compares to the ferocity of a bayonet charge.

Articles

ISIS counterattacks US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces

Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, inspect the Tabqa dam on March 27, 2017, which has been recently partially recaptured, as part of their battle for the jihadists’ stronghold in nearby Raqa.


Clashes raged around a key northern Syrian town on Tuesday after the Islamic State group launched a counter-attack to fend off a U.S.-backed advance near the jihadists’ stronghold Raqa.

Backed by air power from an international coalition bombing, the Syrian Democratic Forces are laying the groundwork for an assault on the heart of the jihadists’ so-called “caliphate.”

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
ISIS has a history of targeting Kurds and their allies. (Dept. of Defense photo)

A key part of the campaign is the battle for the ISIS-held town of Tabqa on the Euphrates River, as well as the adjacent dam and military airport.

The SDF seized the Tabqa airbase late Sunday and began pushing north towards the town itself, but ISIS fighters doubled down on their defenses on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The fighting is a result of ISIS launching a counter-offensive to exhaust the Syrian Democratic Forces around the Tabqa military airport,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

He said the SDF was working to “consolidate its positions” near the airport ahead of a final push for the town.

SDF fighters are also bearing down on the Tabqa dam after capturing its northern entrance on Friday from ISIS fighters.

The fight around the structure has been backed by forces from the US-led coalition, with American-made armoured vehicles bearing the markings of the U.S. Marine Corps seen moving along a nearby road.

An AFP correspondent at the dam on Tuesday said it was generally quiet around the dam itself, despite the occasional ISIS-fired mortar that landed in SDF-controlled parts of the riverbank.

Airplanes could be heard humming above as SDF forces patrolled the northern entrance of the structure.

On Tuesday, coalition forces could be seen standing near military vehicles less than one mile from the dam, their mortar rounds casually stacked nearby.

After a brief pause in fighting on Monday to allow technicians to enter the dam complex, SDF fighters resumed their operations around the structure, said spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed.

“ISIS amassed its fighters and attacked our forces in the area, which forced us to respond and resume the operations to liberate the dam,” she said.

Earlier this year, the United Nations raised concern about the prospect of damage to the dam in fighting, warning that water levels — which put pressure on the structure — were already high.

ISIS has also issued warnings through its propaganda agency Amaq that the dam “is threatened with collapse at any moment because of American strikes and a large rise in water levels”.

On Tuesday, technicians accompanied by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent could be seen examining the dam to assess whether water levels had risen in recent days.

“The explosions and the clashes are threatening the dam, and we ask for all sides to distance themselves from it,” said Ismail Jassem, an engineer from the SDF-controlled Tishreen Dam in neighbouring Aleppo province.

“The water levels are acceptable now. We came to open up one of the gates to relieve the pressure,” he told AFP.

The SDF launched its offensive for Raqa city in November 2016, seizing around two thirds of the surrounding province, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

At their closest point, the forces are just five miles from Raqa city, to the northeast.

But they are mostly further away, between ten to fifteen miles from Raqa.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of source on the ground in Syria, said ISIS had deployed around 900 fighters from Raqa city to various fronts in the wider province.

“Fighting is raging on every front around the city of Raqa, accompanied by non-stop air strikes,” Abdel Rahman said.

Syria’s conflict began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 but has turned into a brutal war pitting government forces, jihadists, rebels, and Kurds against each other.

UN-mediated talks between government and rebel representatives continued Tuesday in Geneva, aimed at bringing an end to the war that has killed 320,000 people.

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Nov. 24

There’s a lot happening this week.


But everything is on hold til we all come out of our leftovers food coma.

In the mean time, let these military memes brighten up your Black Friday.

1. We aren’t above a little “sky dick.”

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
No one is.

2. The Navy proves it’s the master of multi-tasking.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
For the record, no one should be texting pics of their genitals.

3. Okay, last one. Promise. (via Decelerate Your Life)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
The Army one actually kinda stings. I mean, maybe. I dunno, I was in the Air Force.

Read Now: 6 reasons the Air Force wants to buy Russian DNA

4. “What does Azimuth stand for again?” (via Pop Smoke)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Are those regulation sunglasses, person who is clearly a Lieutenant?

5. I didn’t know the Navy wanted to go to a PX. (via People of the PX)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Shiver me timbers.

6. Not all heroes wear capes. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

Unrelated: Vietnam vet returns base library book after 52 years

7. The Air Force PT belt equivalent. (via Maintainer Nation)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
All that protective gear weighs at least 50 pounds.

8. Remember when I said no more sky dick memes?

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
The lie detector says that was a lie.

9. “Too bad Spongebob isn’t here to enjoy Spongebob not being here.” (via Maintainer Humor)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Squidward is the walking definition of swing shift.

Now: 7 more phrases old school veterans can’t stop saying — and we love it

10. “4 minutes to First Sergeant. Gotta see First Sergeant.”

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

11. No one does this much on leave for Thanksgiving. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

12. Must go faster. Must go faster. (via Decelerate Your Life)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Life found a way.

13. “POOF! Whaddya need?” (via Pop Smoke)

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
I never had a friend like my 214.

Read This: 6 memes that immortalize the now-grounded ‘sky dick’ aircrew

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force preparing for furloughed commercial pilots to request return to duty

Nearly 200 pilots have chosen to stay in the U.S. Air Force as major airlines operate in a limited capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak, sharply reducing the number of commercial flights around the world.

While the service is still gathering data, “171 pilots have been approved to stay past their original retirement or separation dates” since March, Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Malinda Singleton said in an email Thursday. She did not provide a breakdown of the types of pilots — fighter, bomber, airlift, etc. — who have extended their duty.


The service is also preparing for the possibility that furloughed airline pilots will submit requests to return to active duty in the Air Force come Oct. 1, the spokeswoman said. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, passed in late March, airline jobs have been safe as companies are prohibited from cutting their workforces until that date. However, experts foresee a dramatic reduction in airline jobs when the restriction is lifted.

“At this time, it is too early to tell what those impacts may be as the CARES Act prohibited layoffs and furloughs in the airlines until Oct. 1,” Singleton said. “We are keeping a close watch on the situation; recognizing the challenges the airline industry is facing, we are providing options for rated officers to remain on active duty who otherwise had plans to depart.”

Airline hiring efforts had been the biggest factor driving problems in pilot retention and production in the services, officials said in recent years. Commercial airlines became the military’s main competitor during a nationwide pilot shortage.

The Air Force came up 2,100 pilots short of the 21,000 it needed in fiscal 2019. In February, the service said it would also fall short of its goal to produce 1,480 new pilots across the force by the end of fiscal 2020.

But in April, the head of Air Education and Training Command said the COVID-19 pandemic might slow the rate of pilots leaving the force.

“We tend to see those [service members who] may be getting out, or those [who] have recently gotten out, want to return to service inside of our Air Force,” Gen. Brad Webb told reporters during a phone call from the Pentagon. “I expect that we will see some of that to a degree, which will help mitigate [the pilot shortage].”

Webb compared the pandemic to the 9/11 attacks, after which many service members returned to duty or extended their tours. The military also saw a surge in new recruits after the attacks.

“This is another [scenario] that we’re going to be assessing on a weekly, if not daily, basis,” he said, referencing the outbreak’s possible effect on retention and recruiting.

“While it’s too early to know the full effects of COVID-19 on the flying training pipeline, we know it will be impactful,” Webb said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

In Vietnam-Era throwback, new Air Force rescue helo is the ‘Jolly Green II’

It’s official: the U.S. Air Force will call its new HH-60W combat rescue helicopter the “Jolly Green II.”

Standing alongside combat-search-and-rescue pilots from past and current conflicts, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett made the announcement during the opening of the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Thursday.


“Reviving the Jolly Green name honors our combat search and rescue crews past and present,” Barrett said on social media following her speech. “In the hands of our airmen, the HH-60W ensures the rescue community can perform their duties better than ever,” she said.

The longstanding motto of the rescue community is, “These things we do that others may live.” The name Jolly Green — which the CSAR community has adopted as its trademark alongside green feet stamps on the aircraft — dates back to the Vietnam War era when American pilots flew the HH-3E.

While pilots today will stamp the sides of the helicopter with green feet to commemorate their own missions, the origin of the green feet is a nod to the HH-3E helicopter, also known as the Jolly Green Giant, which left fat imprints when landing in Vietnam’s rice patties and grass fields, according to the service.

Unlike the new HH-60W, which will officially be known as “Jolly Green II,” the HH-3E helicopter, used mainly for recovering downed pilots, only carried the moniker as a nickname.

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein on Thursday stressed the service’s need for HH-60W, especially given his own experience. As a lieutenant colonel, Goldfein was shot down in his F-16CJ fighter jet over Serbia in 1999 during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and subsequently rescued by CSAR units.

“The Jolly Green gives us extended range and better capability,” Goldfein said on Twitter following the announcement. “I was grateful for a ride out of enemy territory when I needed it and I can tell you first-hand that this aircraft will save lives.”

In July, the service began its first tests of the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky-made HH-60W — based on the UH-60M Black Hawk — which is meant to replace its current HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet. Its missions also include “civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support and CSAR command and control,” the service said.

Current 1980s-era HH-60G models are capable of flying low, and have a retractable in-flight refueling probe and internal auxiliary fuel tanks that allow for better range and loiter time during rescue missions.

The HH-60W doubles the internal fuel capacity without using the auxiliary fuel tanks, and also increases the flight hours. The aircraft also has improved avionics, navigation, communications and an enhanced software network, plus better defensive measures and armored plating, according to the company.

Through its fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets, Congress gave the Air Force the authority to procure 22 of the Jolly Green II. The first two units to be fielded with the aircraft will be the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, officials said.

The service plans to purchase up to 113 of the rotary-wing aircraft.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia showed off a new ‘robotank’ in its Victory Day parade

In films and in comics, combat robots have caught our imaginations for years. Whether it’s the Terminator, Optimus Prime, or giant Gundams, robots with serious firepower draw big crowds to the box office. But such mechanical marvels haven’t yet emerged on the real battlefield.

That may soon change — at least for Russia, who recently demonstrated the Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle (UGCV) at the 2018 Victory Day Parade on May 8.


Now, this vehicle isn’t some mech out of Robotech. According to Rosoboronexport’s website, this system is designed to provide “remote reconnaissance and fire support to combined arms, recon, and counter-terror units.”

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

Since it doesn’t need to haul any crew or grunts, the Uran-9 is a very compact vehicle that can hide and ambush the enemy.

(Rosoboronexport)

The system consists of a control station, a truck, and two remote-controlled tankettes. It might not sound like much, but this small tank (it weighs about 11 tons) can punch way above its weight. In fact, its armament suite is comparable to some full-sized Russian infantry fighting vehicles.

The main weapon on the Uran-9 is a 30mm autocannon, similar to those used on the BMP-2, BTR-90, BTR-80A, and BMP-3 IFVs. It also carries four AT-9 Spiral 2 anti-tank missiles, six RPO thermobaric rockets, and a 7.62mm PKT machine gun.

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision

A look at the 30mm autocannon and two AT-9 Spiral 2 anti-tank missiles used on the Uran-9.

(Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

The Uran-9 is a versatile system and can swap out and add weapons to better suit the mission. For example, it’s capable of using the SA-16/SA-18 man-portable, surface-to-air missiles for stronger anti-aircraft capability. While its diverse arsenal makes it very capable fighter, it also carries sensors and tracking gear to find the enemy.

The United States doesn’t have a similar system, but has used packbots and larger robots for clearing explosives and urban recon.

Learn more about this super-lethal, unmanned Russian tankette in the video below!

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

An Alabama startup just revealed the world’s largest drone

  • Scrappy launch startup Aevum unveiled the world’s most massive drone on Thursday.
  • Called Ravn X, the 55,000-pound UAV is designed to drop a rocket in midair, which will shoot small satellites into orbit.
  • The US Air Force picked Aevum to fly a $4.9 million satellite mission in 2021. Aevum has also contracted a commercial mission.
  • Jay Skylus, Aevum’s CEO and founder, says his company’s aiming to launch customers’ satellites within three hours of receiving them at a spaceport.
  • “We are not just a launch company — I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Aevum, a quiet, scrappy, and ambitious rocket-launch startup, unveiled the biggest drone in the world on Wednesday.

Called Ravn X, the fully autonomous vehicle is 80 feet long, has a wingspan of 60 feet, and stands 18 feet tall. It’s not the largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by size — the wings of Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton stretch nearly 131 feet. But the Ravn X wins on mass, weighing 55,000 pounds when you include the rocket that will drop out of its belly in midair and shoot a satellite into space. 

Despite its unusual size and mission, the drone isn’t so different from your standard aircraft. It flies like a typical plane, and it and its rocket use Jet A, a very common kerosene-based fuel, says Jay Skylus, the CEO and founder of Aevum.

“We don’t need a launch site. All we need is a runway that’s one mile long and a hangar,” Skylus told Business Insider. (Even small commercial airports have runways that easily meet that mark.)

Aevum has toiled over the design for roughly five years in its makeshift headquarters: an old textile mill-turned-tech incubator in Alabama. Skylus said he mulled over the concept a decade prior to that as he hopped from NASA to one space startup after another. After being disappointed with the approaches he saw and resistance to new ideas, Skylus said, he scraped together a bit of funding and got to work with some aerospace colleagues.

Read moreA colossal rocket-launching drone is just one small part of Aevum’s bid to become the ‘Amazon of space,’ the startup’s founder says

Once Ravn X reaches the right location, speed, and altitude, its two-stage rocket is designed to drop, ignite within half a second, and launch a roughly 100-kilogram (220-lb) payload into low-Earth orbit. The approach is similar to air-launched rocket systems developed by Virgin Orbit‘s and Pegasus, though Skylus claims Aevum’s unmanned version is more efficient, cost-effective, and enterprising.

Aevum is presenting a “new paradigm of access to space,” Skylus said. “There’s now ground launch, air launch, and autonomous launch.”

Autonomous launch to space within 180 minutes

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Autonomous launch startup Aevum plans to use a Ravn X rocket-launching drone to send payloads to orbit within hours of a customer’s order. 

More than 100 startups like Aevum exist in a pool of companies hoping to dominate the small-launch industry, or rockets able to fly payloads weighing 1,000 pounds or less to orbit. The market has surged in recent years with the shrinking size and increasing performance of electronics, plus a growing thirst for space-based images, data services, and more. 

What Aevum has that few similar companies do, though, is the blessing and funding of the US Air Force. Last year, the Department of Defense contracted Aevum to launch a new mission called Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer 45 (ASLON-45) for $4.9 million. The goal is to fly small, experimental satellites that can detect adversaries’ missile launches.

Aevum scooped up the contract in part because the company claims it can take a small satellite from a customer and get it into orbit within 180 minutes, if necessary — a task that’d typically take months to work out. Skylus said years of intensive software development have mostly automated the requisite launch paperwork, mission profiling, payload integration, and more. As a result, he said, Aevum needs only about 10% of the staff typically required for launching rockets. 

“We are not just a launch company — I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.

Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, a chief within Kirtland Air Force Base’s Space and Missile Systems Center, visited Aevum this week at the Cecil Spaceport-based launch facility in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I’m excited to see the bold innovation and responsiveness in development today by our small launch industry partners to support emerging warfighter needs,” she said in an Aevum press release. “The US Space Force is proactively partnering with industry to support US space superiority objectives. Having a robust US industry providing responsive launch capability is key to ensuring the US Space Force can respond to future threats.”

Aevum and the USAF hope to get ASLON-45 off the ground by mid-2021.

“There’s really no reason for us to not be ready. ASLON-45, like the name implies, is an agile mission. What we’re really trying to show is not that small launch vehicles can deliver stuff to orbit — Rocket Lab is already doing that,” Skylus said, referring to the New Zealand small-launch company that recently flew its sixteenth mission to orbit

He added: “What we’re proving is agility, flexibility, responsiveness, and operational efficiency. This is a brand-new architecture, and a brand-new launch vehicle that’s never been conceived.”

Soldier saves life after gruesome vehicle collision
Skylus, the CEO of Aevum, says his company is “being credited with having invented a brand new paradigm of access to space.” 

Skylus acknowledged the fear some people have of drones generally, and one carrying a big rocket specifically. But he said the company is working very closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure Ravn X is extremely safe to fly and launch payloads to space.

An agency spokesperson declined an interview request by told Business Insider, but noted Aevum said it plans to apply for a launch license in 2021.

“When you start looking into all of this … the line between a piloted commercial airliner versus our launch vehicle really starts to blur,” Skylus said. “It’s hard to tell where one’s more safe than the other, and why a person might feel more comfortable with in a giant Boeing airplane flying over you, every single day, versus this one.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

What you need to know about the banned missile the US is developing

Thirty years ago, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty, which called for the elimination of all ground launched-surface-to-surface missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,417 miles). This treaty held through the 1990s and most of the 2000s, but in recent years, there have been allegations of Russian non-compliance.


According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the United States has begun development of a ground-launched cruise missile. The last such system the United States had in service was the BGM-109G Gryphon, a version of the Tomahawk cruise missile still used by the United States Navy. It was one of three systems scrapped by the United States in compliance with the INF Treaty.

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A BGM-109G Gryphon is launched. (DOD photo)

Details on the new missile are scarce, as the system’s development has begun. One likely option would be to try to bring back the ground-launched version of the Tomahawk. Another option could be to launch Tomahawks from an Aegis Ashore base. The Tomahawk can be launched from the same vertical-launch cells as the RIM-161 Standard Missile, or SM-3, used in Aegis Ashore. A 2016 release from Lockheed Martin noted that an Aegis Ashore base in Romania is active, and one in Poland is under construction.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the Pentagon’s intention is to hopefully force Russia to comply with the 1987 treaty. However, should Russia not go back into compliance, a source told the paper that the United States is determined to be ready if the Russians choose to “live in a post-INF world … if that is the world the Russians want,” as one official put it.

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USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile April 7, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Released)

The Hill reported that during meetings with other NATO defense ministers at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Secretary of Defense James Mattis states that Russia’s violations raise “concern about Russia’s willingness to live up to the accords that it’s signed, the treaties it’s signed.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump is ready to negotiate a ‘real’ nuclear deal with Iran

Two days after exchanging harsh warnings with Iranian leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump says he is still eager to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

“We’ll see what happens, but we’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” Trump said on July 24, 2018, in a speech to veterans in the U.S. state of Missouri.


Trump had threatened Tehran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before” after Iranian President Hassan Rohani had warned Trump not to “play with the lion’s tail.”

The exchange of harsh rhetoric was reminiscent of the threats that volleyed back and forth between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2017 — exchanges that disappeared after the two adversaries agreed to negotiate a nuclear deal at a summit this spring.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump.

(White House photo)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on July 24, 2018, declined to comment directly on Trump’s threats against Iran, but he voiced his own concerns about Iranian actions in the Middle East, including Tehran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and for Huthi rebels fighting the government in Yemen.

“I think the president was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track,” Mattis said on a visit to California.

“It’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue to show irresponsibility as a revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption, across the region.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Damage to Americans in China match previous attacks in Cuba

The US has linked a mysterious illness contracted by a government employee in China to strange sounds heard by US diplomats in Cuba for the first time.

In an unusual move on June 8, 2018, the US Embassy in China sent out its second health advisory in two weeks warning US citizens to contact a doctor if they feel unwell and to not try to locate the source of “any unidentified auditory sensation.”

The alert came after a US government employee in Guangzhou recently experienced “vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” and developed mild traumatic brain injury, the same condition US officials developed in a serious of unusual events in Cuba.


But the US seems to have confirmed the link between the two incidents.

“The State Department received medical confirmation that a US government employee in China suffered a medical incident consistent with what other US government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba,” the advisory read.

It also advised any US citizen, or their family members, who experience “any unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns” to contact their doctor. Symptoms citizens were urged to look out for include dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints, hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping.

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(Photo by Nelson Runkle)

These are the same symptoms victims in Havana, of which there are more than 20, reported experiencing. Some of those individuals didn’t feel or hear anything strange, but others reported hearing strange noises that some have linked to “sonic attacks.”

Despite Trump blaming Cuba, Cuban officials have denied any involvement. The State Department distanced itself from Trump’s claim, but it did expel 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington in 2017.

AP recently reported the US State Department has determined the incidents in Cuba were “specific attacks” on diplomats is trying to cut staffing numbers by more than 50%.

On June 5, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the establishment of a task force meant to respond to these mysterious incidents.

“At this time, 24 U.S. government personnel and family members who served in Cuba have been medically-confirmed as having symptoms and clinical findings similar to those noted following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury. On May 16, 2018, a U.S. government employee serving in China was medically-confirmed with similar findings,” Pompeo said.

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

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