The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

The U.S. Navy plans to deploy fast, high-tech surface drones equipped with advanced wireless technology able to find, attack, and ultimately destroy underwater enemy mines, all while operating at safe distance from a larger, manned surface host ship, such as a Littoral Combat Ship, service officials said.


Naval Sea Systems Command is currently working with industry to develop, assess and analyze mine-neutralization technologies for its emerging Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) — a multi-mission surface drone countermine platform slated to be operational by 2019. Capt. Jon Rucker, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems, PEO LCS, told reporters recently at the Surface Navy Association Symposium.

“MCM USV will ‘take the man out of the minefield’ when it comes to Navy mine countermeasures operations,” Alan Baribeau, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior Maven.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
A German mine swept up in Australian water by an auxiliary minesweeper visible at center right. (Image from Naval Historical Collection)

The current exploration of mine-neutralization technology is happening alongside the ongoing integration of advanced sonar mine-hunting payloads onto the USV – the AQS-20 and AQS-24, Baribeau explained.

Overall, the MCM USV represents the next-iteration of surface-drone technology, extending beyond the mine-detecting Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) now going through testing and builders trails, Rucker said.

“The UISS provides the Navy’s first unmanned minesweeping capability and the MCM USV with towed sonars provides the Navy unmanned volume and bottom mine hunting capability,” Baribeau said.

Textron Systems is now on contract with the Navy to integrate the AQS-20 and AQS-24, sonar payloads which will expand range and detection technology.

“UISS was foundational program that then migrated into expanding within the mine countermeasures technology,” Wayne Prender, Unmanned Systems Vice President of Control Surface Systems, Textron Systems, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Also Read: Collision at sea sidelines US Navy mine sweeper and nuclear submarine

Building upon these efforts, the Navy is also planning for the MCM USV to incorporate an ability to “destroy” mines from USVs as well.

Neutralizing mines, once they are found, is the aim of this longer-term Navy effort to go beyond detection and succeed in destroying mines as well. As part of this effort, the Navy is now considering the Barracuda Mine Neutralization System — a technology described by a Navy solicitation as “a modular, low-cost, semi-autonomous, expendable neutralizer conforming to the A-size sonobuoy form factor.”

Navy documents further specify that Barracuda will use wireless communications, therefore allowing for a “tetherless” operation for the MCM USV. Military Aersopace electronics describes mine neutralizers as mini underwater drones armed with explosives which travel to an identified underwater mine – and then explode.

Barracuda will first be deployed from an LCS before potentially migrating to other surface or airborne platforms, Navy statements indicated.

Mine neutralization will naturally work in tandem with sonar systems which, Baribeau explained, can both send imagery data back to a host ship in real time through a line of sight connection or store sonar information for post-mission processing.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
A port view of the guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) in dry dock in Dubai, UAE, for temporary repairs. The frigate was damaged when it struck an Iranian naval mine while on patrol in the Persian Gulf. (Image Wikipedia)

Navy Surface Drone “Ghost Fleet”

Incremental steps forward with surface drone countermine technology is all unfolding within a broader strategic context for the Navy aimed at architecting a “ghost fleet” of interconnected, unmanned vessels able to perform missions in a synchronized fashion.

Pentagon and Navy developers are advancing this drone-fleet concept to search and destroy mines, swarm and attack enemies, deliver supplies and conduct intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions, among other things.

Swarms of small aerial drones, engineered with advanced computer algorithms, could potentially coordinate with surface and undersea vehicles as part of an integrated mission, developers have explained.

As communications and networking technologies continue to evolve rapidly, drones will increasingly be able to function in a cross-domain capacity, meaning across air, sea, land and undersea operations.

Aerial swarms, for instance, could detect an enemy surface vessel and relay information to unmanned surface vessels or undersea drones to investigate or even attack. All of this could operate in a combat circumstance while needing little or no human intervention.

The Ghost Fleet effort involves a collaborative venture between the Office of Naval Research, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, and the Navy.

Articles

US aircraft carrier visits Israel for the first time in nearly two decades

It leads the United States’ war against ISIS and with 75 aircraft on its deck has the ability to carry out numerous combat sorties a day. On July 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the USS George H. W. Bush docked opposite the Haifa Port and became the first sitting head of state to visit America’s largest and most lethal floating war machine.


The docking of the ship on July 1 marked the first time an aircraft carrier visited Israel in 17 years.

“The visit of the USS George H.W. Bush speaks to the enduring commitment to our shared interests and a commitment to fight against our common enemies,” Commanding Officer Capt. Will Pennington told reporters during a visit to the ship. According to a statement by the US European Command, the ship’s visit is meant “to enhance US-Israel relations as the two nations reaffirm their continued commitment to the collective security of the European and Middle East Regions.”

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
USS George H.W. Bush. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

According to Pennington, the crew is constantly engaged in cooperation with Israel, including sharing intelligence.

“There is a tremendous network of shared intelligence. As you are aware the airspace in the region is very, very, busy with lots of different actors so the need to deconflict that and make sure that everyone understands their missions is very important,” he said.

Visiting the ship with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Netanyahu recalled his visit to another aircraft carrier 20 years ago.

“So much has changed since the first time I visited… our ties have gotten stronger and deeper,” he said. “It is a floating island of America. It is a symbol of freedom and strength and victory.”

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The USS George H.W. Bush was in the region to participate in the fight against ISIS, carrying out its last operational mission on June 30. With 20-25 sorties per day, aircraft aboard the ship have carried out 1,600 sorties over both Syria and Iraq, striking targets in Mosul and in the vicinity of Raqqa on missions that can last seven to nine hours.

The targets which are directed by the coalition ground commander, are sometimes known prior to take-off and pilots have sometimes also received targets while in the air.

According to Carrier Air Wing 8 Captain James A. McCall, one of the real-time targets was the Syrian jet that was downed on June 18 in southern Raqqa province by one of the jets stationed on the aircraft carrier.

“The jet came within visual distance” McCall said, stating that US jets “warned the Syrian aircraft that they were approaching coalition friendlies. They (the Syrian regime jet) ignored the warning and even dropped bombs on the friendlies,” he said referring to the Syrian Democratic Force who are supported by the coalition.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from an aircraft carrier. Photo courtesy of US Navy

Towards the end of its seven-month deployment, the USS George H.W. Bush arrived in Haifa after a 40 day voyage from Dubai.

While the ship will not be taking part in any joint exercises with the Israeli Navy, Israel provided security as it pulled into the Haifa Bay allowing the ship’s strike group to continue to other missions and port calls.

“We are very tightly linked with our colleagues and partners and allies from the IDF and have been for very many years,” Pennington said.

Speaking at a ceremony aboard the carrier, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, commander of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, stated that the visit marks “a special moment” between Israel and the United States which “has had long standing military to military engagements with Israel.”

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on board the USS George H. W. Bush. Photo from DoD

“In this visit to Israel, the ship’s might is a metaphor for the strength of the bonds between our countries. I’d like to thank the Israeli people for hosting us and for taking care of our Sailors,” she added.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who visited the ship on Sunday stated that it was “a timely show of American power projection and deterrence capability.”

“Its support for the countries fighting Islamic extremism and terror and Iran is very important, especially now when Iran is working to create facts on the ground in Syria, including a port on the Mediterranean, and Hezbollah continues to build its arsenal with more advanced and precise missiles.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

War with North Korea will either be all out or not at all

US Navy Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the US military in the Pacific, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 15, 2018, that the US isn’t planning a one-off, “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, but rather it’s planning to go all out in war or not at all.


Senior administration officials are reportedly exploring the “bloody nose” strategy, which entails a limited strike to humiliate and intimidate North Korea. When asked about this during the Senate hearing, Harris said no such plan existed.

Also read: Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to end the Korean nuclear crisis

“We have no bloody nose strategy. I don’t know what that is,” Harris said in response to a question from Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, USNI reported.

“I am charged by the national command authority of developing a range of options through the spectrum of violence, and I’m ready to execute whatever the President and the national command authority directs me to do, but a bloody nose strategy is not being contemplated,” Harris continued.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
President Donald Trump.

Experts uniformly reacted in horror at the news that President Donald Trump’s administration was reportedly planning a limited strike on North Korea, as they allege it would likely result in an all-out, possibly nuclear retaliation from Pyongyang.

According to Harris, the US feels the same way.

Related: Trump commits US to maximum pressure on North Korea

“If we do anything along the kinetic spectrum of conflict, we have to be ready to do the whole thing,” Harris said, pouring cold water on the idea of a limited strike that would only have rhetorical ramifications.

Speculation over Trump’s willingness to strike North Korea peaked after he dismissed Victor Cha, a widely respected Korea expert, as US ambassador to South Korea after almost a year of consideration.

Cha’s dismissal owed to his disagreement Trump’s plan to attack North Korea, multiple outlets reported at the time.

Articles

Russia has a cyber-weapon that can destroy the US electric grid

With the assistance of allied hackers, Russia has developed a cyberweapon capable of destroying an electricity grid, US researchers report that such a weapon could be used to upset the American electric system.


The reports say that the devise was used to disrupt energy system in Ukraine December in 2015.

According to the Washington Post, the cyberweapon has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life.

The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December, 2015.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Photo licensed under Public Domain

In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev.

But with modifications, it could be deployed against US electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report on June 12th.

And Russian government hackers have shown their interest in targeting US energy and other utility systems, researchers said.

“It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,” Caltagirone warned. “It’s a game changer.”

The revelation comes as the US government is investigating a wide-ranging, ambitious effort by the Russian government last year to disrupt the US presidential election and influence its outcome.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Photo courtesy of USAF

Dragos has named the group that created the new malware Electrum, and it has determined with high confidence that Electrum used the same computer systems as the hackers who attacked the Ukraine electric grid in 2015.

That attack, which left 225,000 customers without power, was carried out by Russian government hackers, other US researchers concluded.

US government officials have not officially attributed that attack to the Russian government, but some privately say they concur with the private-sector analysis.

“The same Russian group that targeted US [industrial control] systems in 2014 turned out the lights in Ukraine in 2015,” said John Hultquist, who analyzed both incidents while at iSight Partners, a cyber-intelligence firm now owned by FireEye, where he is director of intelligence analysis. Hultquist’s team had dubbed the group Sandworm.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Louisiana Army National Guard photo by Spc. Garrett L. Dipuma

“We believe that Sandworm is tied in some way to the Russian government — whether they’re contractors or actual government officials, we’re not sure,” he said. “We believe they are linked to the security services.”

Sandworm and Electrum may be the same group or two separate groups working within the same organization, but the forensic evidence shows they are related, said Robert M. Lee, chief executive of Dragos.

The Department of Homeland Security, which works with the owners of the nation’s critical infrastructure systems, did not respond to a request for comment.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Female Air Commando at the helm of Special Operations Wing

Colonel Allison Black, a female Airman, made history earlier in the summer by becoming the vice commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. She is the first female to command at that level in the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

And yet this is not Col. Black’s first. Earlier in her career, she became the first female navigator in an AC-130H Spectre gunship to participate in combat operations. The different variants of the AC-130 are an invaluable asset to ground forces and they provide extremely effective close air support.

“It’s a great honor to serve the Special Tactics community as their vice wing commander,” said Col. Black in a press release. “I’m now a direct part of the machine that I’ve directly supported my entire aviation career from the air. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Col. Matt Allen. He’s a dedicated leader and consummate professional who deeply cares about our people. As Col. Allen’s vice, it’s my role to follow his lead and drive the organization toward a successful future.”

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

U.S. Air Force Col. Allison Black is the vice commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air-to-ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading operations in precision strike, global access, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Williams)

Col. Black began her career as an enlisted Survival, Evasion, Escape, and Resistance (SERE) specialist in 1992. She commissioned in 1998 and became an AC-130 navigator and later combat systems officer. She then headed the Operational Integrated Communications Team at the Pentagon and then served as the operations officer and later commanding officer of the 319th Special Operations Squadron. Before assuming her current assignment, she spent a stint at the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) headquarters.

The commander of 24th SOW, Colonel Matt Allen, said that “With any leadership team, you want to have people that cover each other’s blind spots and are able to bring the best out of the organization. Not only does Col. Black have a rich history as an aircrew member within AFSOC, but she also has key insights working on staffs within U.S. Special Operations Command and she is a female colonel, which provides really good insight as we look at our diversity and inclusion aspects of the force to make sure that we’re making good organizational decisions on bringing in the first wave of female operators onto the line.”

Based in Hurlburt Field, Florida, the 24th SOW is one of the three special operations wings in the Air Force. The unit is one of the most decorated in the entire Air Force. Airmen assigned to Wing’s units have received six Air Force Crosses, 32 Silver Stars, and hundreds of Bronze Stars with the Valor device (respectively, the second, third, and fourth highest award for valor under fire); the Air Commandos have also received 105 Purple Hearts, while 17 have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

Special Tactics Airmen during a training exercise (U.S. Air Force).

The 24th SOW commands 14 Special Tactics, training, and support squadrons. In addition, two Air National Guard squadrons fall under 24th SOW and augment the organization as needed.

“Let’s just make a difference. Let’s exploit what I have learned throughout my career on operations, risk management, and regulations,” added Col. Black. “Let’s uncover all of that and let’s roll up our sleeves and use that to make our community stronger and more effective. Let’s exploit technology and work to define what the future holds. We need to determine what niche capabilities our current Special Tactics force must bring to the future fight.”

Before Col. Black’s appointment, the special operations community achieved a historic milestone with the graduation of the first female Soldier from the modern Special Forces Qualification Course. The female Green Beret became the first to don the coveted Green Beret and join an operational team – Captain Katie Wilder had been the first woman to pass the old version of Special Forces training in the 1980s but only received her Green Beret after a legal saga and never joined an operational team.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


Articles

Base to troops: don’t chase virtual Pokemon into restricted areas

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Military.com / Reddit


At least one military base is warning service members against the dangers of wandering into unauthorized areas while chasing Pokemon.

“Since Pokemon Go hit last week there have been reports of serious injuries and accidents of people driving or walking while looking at the app and chasing after the virtual Pokemon,” says the message posted this morning to the Joint Base Lewis McChord official Facebook page. “Do not chase Pokemon into controlled or restricted areas, office buildings, or homes on base.”

The wildly popular iPhone and Android app, “Pokemon Go,” leads players on a real world chase via their phone’s GPS system and camera, through which they can “catch” virtual Pokemon that appear around the player within the app. At least one player has reportedly stumbled on a dead body while playing the game, according to news accounts, while others have been lured into corners and robbed, other sources have reported..

Lewis-McChord officials said the notice was a precaution and that there have been no reports of problems on the base caused by service members, families or employees playing the game.

“We talked about it here this morning with our director of emergency services, and said, as a precaution, let’s just tell people right away ‘do not be using the app to follow Pokemon creatures into restricted areas on base or controlled areas,'” said Joseph Piek, a JBLM spokesman. “We’re not saying don’t play — but we are saying there’s certain areas, don’t chase the Pokemon there, you’ll just have to leave them be.”

Officials with the Defense Department said they have no plans to issue military-wide Pokemon guidance or rules for playing the game within or around the Pentagon.

“Our personnel are well informed on the restrictions regarding restricted areas, regardless of if they’re chasing Pokemon or otherwise,” they said.

JBLM is home to the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Group as well as the Army’s I Corps and the Air Force’s 62d Airlift Wing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the must-go-to conference if you’re a military blogger

Back and better than ever, this year Dallas, Texas, will host the largest gathering of top-tier military bloggers and entrepreneurs during the Military Influencer Conference to be held Oct. 22-24.


What started as a get-together for a handful of military bloggers back in the early 2000s has mushroomed into a full-fledged conference that brings together hundreds of community leaders, digital entrepreneurs, and influencers united by a passion for the military.

Through inspiring keynote speeches and immersive, hands-on workshops with some of the top names in the digital space, attendees can learn proven strategies, tactics and techniques needed to grow their brands.

This year’s speakers include Matt Griffin of Combat Flip Flops, The Duffel Blog‘s Paul Szoldra, Erica McMannes from Mad Skills and Honor Courage Commitment‘s Urshel Metcalf — among many others.

With more than 21 educational sessions and a wide range of dynamic, inspiring speakers, this event gives digital entrepreneurs an unprecedented opportunity to find the resources and connections needed to grow an online business.

All tickets to the 2017 Military Influencer Conference can be purchased online until Oct. 10. And right now if attendees use the discount code “wearethemighty” they can earn a 20 percent discount on tickets.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This admiral thinks North Korea’s nukes are meant to be used

The commander of U.S. Pacific Command said Feb. 14, 2018 he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pursuing nuclear weapons to eventually reunify the Korean Peninsula under his brutal communist regime.


The U.S. should take that long view into account when dealing with Kim’s quest for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. cities, Adm. Harry Harris said in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

“I do think that there is a prevailing view that KJU [Kim Jong Un] is doing the things that he is doing to safeguard his regime. I don’t ascribe to that view,” Harris said. “I do think that he is after reunification under a single communist system, so he is after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do.”

North Korea conducted ICBM and nuclear tests in 2017 and has defiantly continued to pursue the weapons despite U.S. and international condemnation and economic sanctions. Recent testing and U.S. intelligence estimates show the regime is close to completing the missiles.

Also read: North Korea is calling US sanctions on Kim Jong Un a ‘declaration of war’

“It puts him in a position to blackmail the South and other countries in the region and us,” as Kim pursues what he sees as the regime’s “natural place” controlling the entire Korean Peninsula, Harris said.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Kim Jong Un with North Koreans just after the test fire of a surface to surface medium long range missile. (image KCNA)

“I think we are self-limiting if we view North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as solely as a means to safeguard his regime.”

An armistice between the North and the United States has been in place since the Korean War ended in stalemate more than six decades ago. Since then, three generations of Kims have ruled the North and turned it into one of the most isolated and repressive regimes in the world.

The Trump administration is now struggling with the youngest Kim’s nuclear aspirations, which have put the regime on the verge of becoming the world’s latest nuclear power to acquire ICBMs.

Related: Here’s what you need to know about Kim Jong Un’s missile arsenal

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the House Armed Services chairman, cited an article by former Ambassador James Jeffrey and speculated that current thinking on the North may be wrong.

“The dominant view is he wants missiles and nuclear weapons in order to safeguard his regime,” Thornberry said. “To think anything else is so unpleasant that we don’t let ourselves think that maybe he wants these nuclear weapons to hold U.S. cities hostage so that he can have his way and finish what his grandfather started on the peninsula.”

But North Korea is notoriously insular and U.S. intelligence is scant on its internal workings.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, questioned whether Harris could be so certain about Kim’s motivations.

More: A fake Kim Jong Un greeted North Korea’s Olympic cheer squad

“I think the real answer is there is no way to know. We can guess what he is trying to do,” Smith said. “I think anyone who confidently asserts that all Kim Jong Un wants to do is protect his regime is just as wrong as anyone who confidently asserts that he definitely wants to unify the peninsula.”

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Dec. 15

It’s been only seven days since our last meme call, and…where do we even begin?


Army beats Navy. Trans troops get the green light. We have a new NDAA for 2018 — no one cares about any of that. The real Star Wars Day is today.

Celebrate with memes. These memes.

1. He can’t name drop PJs and JTACs like the rest of the Air Force does when Marines make fun.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Let’s be honest, he looks Air Force.

2. But suffering leads to a lobbying job. (via Coast Guard Memes)

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
This is how icebreakers get made.

3. “Look at how shiny those floors are.”

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Also, how do you pee in that armor?

4. I didn’t know Meth came from fabric softener.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Ewoks should use Snuggle on their fur instead of drinking it.

5. New Yorkers aren’t like the rest of us.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Terrorism fail.

6. Basic training is the hydroelectric dam.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Who needs fusion when you have every day life?

7. “Things you’ll never actually say to an E-7” for $100.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
There’s a reason dude got choked out.

8. It’s not the worst grouping. (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said)

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
But you’d still be dead. Or unqualified.

9. No passes in the Army-Navy Game, just like in real life. (via Decelerate Your Life)

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
To be fair it’s usually the Coast Guard chasing little white lines.

10. I was more of a Han Solo fan until this.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Majestic reveal.

11. Your girl knows.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
You know he has one.

12. It doesn’t show the NCO school on Dagobah.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Life is pain.

13. Who’s in the Christmas spirit?

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force’s new tanker is going to be delayed again

Boeing missed a self-imposed deadline to deliver the first new KC-46 tanker to the Air Force by the end of 2017, and now the Air Force believes the company may miss its expected delivery window in spring 2018, instead presenting the first tanker late 2018, according to Aviation Week.


The Air Force came to that conclusion after a recent joint schedule risk assessment. Boeing is obligated to give the Air Force 18 of the new tankers by October 2018. Missing that deadline will likely bring additional financial penalties.

The firm has already been hit with about $2.9 billion in pretax costs under the tanker contract, which holds the planemaker responsible for costs beyond the Air Force’s $4.82 billion commitment.

Also read: Why Boeing may stop building fighter planes

Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Emily Grabowski told Aviation Week that the force will continue working with Boeing “to develop schedule mitigations” as needed and to expedite the program. “These potential delays will not result in additional program cost to the taxpayer,” she added.

The tanker program has been hindered by a few persistent problems in recent months.

The most severe — a “category 1 deficiency” — is the tanker’s rigid refueling boom scraping against the plane it is refueling. Such contact can compromise the special stealth coating on aircraft like the F-22 and F-35 fighters. And a tanker with a contaminated boom may also have to be grounded.

Air Force and private-sector personnel are reviewing flight data to determine the nature of such incidents and compare them to international norms, Aviation Week previously reported. That investigation will also inform a decision about replacing the remote camera used during the refueling process.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
A KC-46 Pegasus refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II, July 15, 2016. (Boeing/John D. Parker)

Two other issues, which have been lowered to category II, involve the tanker’s high-frequency radio, which uses the skin of the aircraft broadcast and can cause sparks and fires. The Air Force wants assurances those radios will never broadcast while fuel is flowing and expects a long-term fix from Boeing. The force also expects a Boeing software update in 2018 to address the deficiency in which the refueling boom would extend on its own when disconnecting from a refueling aircraft.

Related: Report blames Boeing mechanics for Air Force One oxygen problems

In December 2017, the FAA granted Boeing an amended type certification for the 767-2C, which is the tanker derivative of the 767 commercial plane. But the firm is yet to receive the supplemental type certification that signs off on all the military and aerial-refueling modifications that turn a 767-2C into a KC-46.

Air Force Materials Command also told Air Force Times that the tanker still needs to get the Air Force’s military type certification, which will signify the safety and airworthiness of those systems and equipment.

Early 2018, a Pentagon testing and evaluation office report indicated the KC-46’s most important systems — including its ability to transfer fuel — had been uninstalled or deactivated during testing under electromagnetic-pulse conditions. It recommended retesting “operationally representative” conditions.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
A KC-46 Pegasus takes its first flight at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, September 25, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jet Fabara)

However, the Air Force said in February 2018 it was working with the testing and evaluation office to reconcile those concerns but had no plans to change the overall tanker program or its testing timelines.

Officials from Air Force Materials Command told Air Force Times that the EMP testing was intended to evaluate mission-critical systems — like takeoff, flight, landing, aircraft control, voice communications, and use of the refueling boom and centerline drogue system.

More: Boeing’s SR-71 Blackbird replacement totally looks like a UFO

“The systems that were uninstalled or deactivated were not flight-critical or required for aerial refueling operations,” according to the officials. After the EMP tests, they said, those critical or required systems were still operational.

The Air Force has two nuclear-threat-related tests planned for fiscal year 2018, which began in October 2017 and ends in September 2018. One will evaluate the KC-46’s ability to launch and fly a safe distance from a simulated nuclear attack on its base. The other will test the tanker’s “inherent nuclear hardness” to blast, radiation, flash, thermal, and EMP effects. The tests are slated for the second half of the fiscal year.

The Air Force currently plans to buy 179 of the KC-46, which is being developed to replace the Air Force’s aging KC-135 fleet, the members of which are, on average, 55 years old.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the federal tax changes for military troops and spouses

Most service members and their families will see a reduction in their tax bills in 2019, but there are a number of changes in U.S. federal tax laws that they need to be aware of, said Army Lt. Col. Dave Dulaney, the executive director of the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Tax Council.

“The last tax year has been quite exciting with all the changes that were made,” Dulaney said. He noted that the Internal Revenue Service will start accepting tax returns Jan. 28, 2019, for tax year 2018.


A number of pieces of legislation affect military taxpayers, he said: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act and the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act are just a few.

Tax cuts for troops

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will mean that most service members will see a reduction in federal taxes for 2018, he said. There is an overall reduction of 3 percent for most military families under this act, Dulaney said, in addition, the standard deduction doubled, as did the Child Tax Credit. “Because of these three things, most of our military families are going to see a substantial reduction in overall tax liability,” he said.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

There are also some special provisions that apply to military personnel. Service members who served in the Sinai Peninsula since June 9, 2015, are now eligible for the combat zone tax exclusion, the colonel said.

“This was retroactively applied and what that means is that since taxpayers have up to three years to file an amended tax return to make a claim for refund, those service members who served in the Sinai back in 2015 would be eligible to file an amended tax return, and they need to do it quickly,” he said.

Service members with questions should go to their local tax assistance centers, Dulaney said, noting that this change should affect about 2,000 service members.

Members of the armed forces are still able to deduct their unreimbursed moving expenses incurred during permanent change of station moves, he said.

There are changes to deductions for travel to drill for reservists. “Reservists cannot take deductions for drill duty expenses that are under 100 miles,” he said. Those driving more than 100 miles can still take deductions.

Military spouses

For military spouses there is a significant change as part of the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018. “This allows military spouses to elect to use their service member’s state of legal residence for state and local taxes,” he said. “

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines

In the past a spouse may have had to file a different state tax return because they had split legal residences. For example, if a service member with a legal residence of New York moved to Virginia and married a person with a legal residence from that state.

“Now, our military spouses can now elect to use the legal residence of the military member for purposes of filing their state and local taxes,” Dulaney said. “Now military couples will no longer have to file different state tax returns … additionally it will reduce the overall tax burden for military families.”

Injured troops

Finally, the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act has been implemented for veterans who received disability severance pay and had tax withholding applied to the pay. “Now under the tax code, disability severance pay is not taxable under certain situations,” he said. More than 133,000 veterans who have received this pay are eligible for relief under the act.

The vets have until July 2019 to file for a refund.

There are a number of aids for military personnel and their families as they prepare their taxes. Each base has a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program office that will help. To find your local office, visit Military OneSource.

The IRS offers information about free tax preparation.

Military OneSource also has information about military tax services in its tax resource center.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

President Ford’s clumsiness is now enshrined forever

Gerald Ford had a reputation for being clumsy.


As we learned during our tour of the new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the former president’s clumsiness almost cost him his life as a young sailor.

During World War II, Ford served as a navigation officer on the USS Monterey.

Related: These photos show what our veteran presidents looked like in uniform

At one point, a large wave almost washed Ford overboard the Monterey, but his foot got caught on a drain, preventing him from going over, US Navy spokesman Corey Todd Jones told Business Insider.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Ford. (Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum.)

There’s now a statue immortalizing that moment in the hangar bay of the USS Ford, which even features the drain that saved his life.

The statue, however, is removed when the ship is deployed.

One of the president’s most famous falls came on a rainy day in December 1975. Ford was walking down the stairs of Air Force One when he slipped and fell down the remaining steps.

Also read: Search gerald ford That time Gerald Ford promoted George Washington to six-star general

Unfortunately for Ford, who was actually a decorated college football player, that wasn’t the only stumble he made as president.

He also once tripped going up the stairs of Air Force One, and reportedly fell while skiing.

Chevy Chase routinely mocked him on Saturday Night Live, and there was even apparently a running joke at the time that Ford’s vice-president was just a banana peel away from the presidency.

Here’s the infamous slip:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why a simple fence is perfect armor on today’s battlefield

The M1126 Stryker is a beautifully designed vehicle. It’s packed with 16.5 tons of high-hardness steel to shield the passengers from direct attacks and a unique underbelly design to help defend against IEDs. Many are outfitted with remote weapon systems, allowing troops to engage the enemy without fear of snipers. It even has one of the most state-of-the-art fire-extinguishing systems in the world in case the worst happens.


With all that protection, it seems strange that someone decided a bunch of steel bars around it would make great armor…

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
It also works great for extra storage space for things you don’t mind losing.  (Photo from U.S. Army)

Though it might look flimsy, the simple fence design is an excellent counter considering how explosives blow up. Having thick, reactive armor works wonders against conventional fragmentation rounds, but HEAT (High explosive, anti-tank) rounds are designed specifically to burst through it.

Take a standard RPG-7 single-stage HEAT round for instance: The explosion isn’t what makes it deadly. By forcing the explosion into a narrow cone, it’s used to blow a hole through whatever it hits. It’s the molten copper follows and uses the pathway cleared by the explosion that’s truly deadly.

Not pleasant, to say the least. (Image via GIPHY)

In comes what we’ve been calling “fence armor.” This type of armor is actually called “slat armor” and has been used since the World War II on German panzers. The Germans needed an extra layer of defense from Russian anti-tank rifles and low velocity, high explosive rounds. They added steel plates. set a few inches away from the actual shell of the vehicle, so when it’s hit, the cheaper plates would be hit and the copper would have time to cool, causing minimal damage.

This method of stopping common HEAT rounds is still used today by armies going against enemies with RPGs. While slat armor isn’t 100% effective (no armor is, truly), it does have up to 70% effectiveness, which is remarkable for a solution that costs nearly nothing, is an addition to existing armor, and doesn’t negatively affect the mission.

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
And hell, for years, troops used to just put sandbags under their seats and called it good enough. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

Though nowhere near as effective, even ISIS tried to Mad Max their vehicles. Note, for this to work, slat armor needs to be a few inches away from the vehicle, it should cover vital spots, and shouldn’t be welded on (since the point of it is to be destroyed and swapped out).

The Navy will use drones to seek and destroy underwater mines
B- for effort. F for forgetting that missiles drop down — not across — at three feet above ground. (Image via Reddit)

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