The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35 - We Are The Mighty
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The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

Defense officials at the Pentagon say they need up to $500 million more to finish the development phase for the F-35, the troubled fifth-generation fighter that’s already gone 50% over its original budget.


The F-35 program office requested the money last month to the Defense Acquisition Board, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news Wednesday. The call for additional funds is pretty familiar at this point, since the program — known as the Joint Strike Fighter since it will be used by the Navy, Marines, and Air Force — has been plagued by lengthy delays and enormous cost overruns.

Also read: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

Its overall lifetime budget has ballooned to more than $1.5 trillion, making it the most expensive weapons system ever built by the US.

The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has in the past called those cost overruns a “disgrace.”

“It has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule, and performance,” he said in April.

Rising costs haven’t been the only problem of note for the F-35. The jet has had plenty of incidents while being built, such as electrical problems, major issues with its software, and problems related to its advanced helmet system.

Just four months ago, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester wrote in a memo the F-35 program was “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver.”

Still, the Air Force and Marines have both declared the fighter “combat ready” and have begun integrating it into their squadrons. The military has only taken delivery of about 180 of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin so far, though it plans to buy more than 2,400.

The fighter, which features stealth and advanced electronic attack and communications systems, is a project with roots going back to the late 1990s. Lockheed won the contract for the fighter in 2001.

“Strong national security is an expensive endeavor but the existing concerns with the F-35 make calls for even more money harder to green light,” said Joe Kaspar, chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“And the Pentagon never seems to be able to help its case on the F-35. Technical superiority is not cheap, but whether or not costs can be driven down is something Congress must look at it before throwing more money in the Pentagon’s direction.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US Coast Guard is a drug busting monster

On March 22, 2019, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) offloaded approximately 27,000 pounds of cocaine at Base Miami Beach worth an estimated $360 million wholesale seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America and represent 12 separate, suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable (WMEC-626) was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 2,926 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) was responsible for six cases, seizing an estimated 18,239 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Venturous (WMEC-625) was responsible for four cases, seizing an estimated 7,218 pounds of cocaine.

    Tampa’s crew is extremely proud of the work they accomplished over the past three months. There are few things more frustrating to our sailors than idle deployments, and none more gratifying than accomplishing a very important mission with impacts that resound across our Nation. For many of the crew, this will be their last deployment on Tampa, and it’s one they will always remember.” said Cmdr. Nicholas Simmons, commanding officer of the Tampa.

    The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Mason R. Cram wraps a palette of cocaine in preparation for a drug offload March 22, 2019, at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach.

    (Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray)

    The cutter Tampa is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The cutter Venturous is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida. The cutter Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. LEDET 107 is permanently assigned to the Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team in San Diego, California.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Coast Guard Vice Adm. Daniel Abel speaks to the press about the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) crew’s drug smuggling interdictions and offload, March 22, 2019, at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach.

    (Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray)

    Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The cutter Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.

    Articles

    This poor Abrams tank got stuck in the mud — then got un-stuck

    Look, it can happen to just about any vehicle. They get stuck in the mud. Still, it’s not nice to laugh about the situation. SHOW SOME DARN RESPECT!


    Here, we can see that an M1A1 Abrams is pretty thoroughly stuck. However, some wise-cracking NCOs got to work to get the tank out.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    An M1 Abrams stuck in the mud. (YouTube screenshot)

    The M1A1 is about 70 tons, has a gas turbine engine (turn on the sound if you don’t believe us!) that delivers up to 1,500 horsepower, and is armed with a 120mm main gun as well as a .50-caliber M2 machine gun, along with two M240 7.62mm machine guns, one of which is mounted coaxially.

    Surprisingly, it doesn’t take long to get the tank out of the mud. Which begs the question: just how long was this poor Abrams left stuck in the mud? Why was it left sitting there when it could have been out so quickly?

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    The tanks backs out, getting free of the obstacle. (Youtube screenshot)

    Here’s the video, and judge for yourself if there is a need for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Armored Fighting Vehicles.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    How the Navy will enforce North Korean sanctions

    The US is reportedly talking about expanding crackdowns on North Korean ships, along with allies such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.


    North Korea currently uses ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned materials — sometimes in ports and sometimes in international waters — to evade sanctions from the international community. The UN Security Council has passed at least nine resolutions that imposed sanctions on North Korea, and Australia, the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US have all placed additional sanctions on the country.

    Also read: The US is seeking wide authority to hunt down North Korean ships and board them

    Russian and Chinese ships have recently been caught exchanging goods and resources in ship-to-ship transfers, as has a ship registered in the Maldives.

    The new efforts would expand the scope of the interceptions to possibly include searching and seizing North Korean ships in international waters. Currently, nations only have the authority to conduct these operations within their own waters, where North Korean ships that break sanctions rarely travel through.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    North Korean cargo vessel Dai Hong Dan. (Photo from US Navy)

    “There is no doubt we all have to do more, short of direct military action, to show (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un we mean business,” a senior American official recently told Reuters.

    But the effectiveness of such operations is likely to be limited, Richard Weitz, the Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and the Hudson Institute, told Business Insider.

    Related: Beijing lambastes US warship patrol in South China Sea as tensions rise over waterway, North Korea

    “The problem is the legal complexity,” Weitz said. “Just stopping every ship that leaves North Korea is too far for countries like Russia and China.”

    If any maritime operation were to succeed, Russia and China would likely need to be physically involved, conducting joint patrols and interdictions on the Korean Peninsula with US and other regional navies.

    Limited effectiveness of maritime interdictions

    China’s cooperation would be particularly important, as Donald Rauch, a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer and former Commanding Officer of USS Independence, recently argued in Foreign Policy.

    “Such a move would convince North Korea that its sole ally and biggest trading partner had reached the end of its strategic patience,” Rauch writes.

    However, the likelihood that China would be part of this kind of operation is low, given that China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the West.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    The North Korean vessel Kum Un San 3 conducts a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, with the Panama-flagged Koti in an effort to evade sanctions, December 9, 2017. (US Department of the Treasury)

    Still, more aggressive maritime interdictions, conducted in cooperation with partners in the region, could help with sanctions enforcement and could possibly slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM ambitions.

    “I’d imagine that you could supplement it with good satellite intelligence, good espionage in the countries that are receiving the materials, and intercepted communications,” Weitz said.

    More: North Korea now has 7 missiles that can strike the US

    “It will be useful and it will certainly adapt and its an area that needs to grow, but unless China and Russia were really going all the way in, it’s going to be imperfect.”

    Weitz also pointed out that North Korea will likely find another way to continue to get the materials and money it needs.

    “Insofar as the maritime interdiction becomes more effective, the more North Korea will then turn to other means of smuggling material in and out,” he said. “Whether it be by air, through China, or other methods.”

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Ecstasy could be the latest PTSD treatment as early as 2021

    The idea of using recreational drugs to treat health problems is picking up pace. Recent research has shown how psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms can be used to treat depressive symptoms, marijuana can treat pain and seizures, and even highly hallucinogenic drugs like DMTcould have therapeutic benefits in the future.

    According to a new study, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine — known as MDMA — could be given to people who suffer with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to relieve their symptoms.


    MDMA is the most common ingredient in ecstasy pills, and can also be taken on its own. An MDMA high tends to give people a buzz that makes them feel things more intensely, see sounds and colours more vividly, and feel affection for people around them. It was made illegal in 1977 in the UK, and 1985 in the US.

    The new study, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, found that MDMA affects certain brain chemicals to help people become more engaged in their PTSD therapy.

    PTSD can affect people who have been through trauma from a distressing, dangerous, or shocking event. People with PTSD often experience flashbacks and nightmares, making their every day life difficult. Many people lose their jobs or turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve themselves from their thoughts.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    (Daiana Lorenz / Youtube)

    Currently, the most common treatments for PTSD are cognitive processing therapy or antidepressants. But many people do not respond to currently available treatments, or drop out, the authors said in the study, so the need for new, more effective treatments is clear.

    The researchers, who were funded by The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, recruited 26 people, 19 men and seven women, who had been suffering from PTSD for at least six months. They included 22 army veterans, three firefighters, and one police officer.

    They were randomly assigned to take oral doses of MDMA of either 30, 75, or 125 milligrams for two psychotherapy sessions. Neither the participants or the therapists knew what dose of the drug they had taken.

    One month later, patients in the higher-dose groups showed significantly more improvement than those who took 30 milligrams, which was believed to be too low to experience much psychoactive effect.

    In fact, 68% of the patients in the two higher-dose groups were no longer diagnosed with PTSD, compared to just 29% of the lowest-dose group. After a year, 67% of all 26 participants no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis. Those who did still experienced a reduction in their symptoms.

    Participants reported some side effects, such as headache, fatigue, and muscle tension. A week after the study, some also experienced insomnia. But major side effects —increase in suicidal thoughts, major depression, and appendicitis — were not attributed to the MDMA itself, so the researchers concluded the treatment was safe.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Although the results look promising, it’s important to remember the limitations of the study. For example, it’s very small, and a larger study would be needed to clarify the long term effects of the drug. Also, there was no placebo, and some of the participants could have continued to take MDMA after the study finished.

    Neil Greenberg, a professor of defence mental health at King’s College London, told CNN that the results do not “fundamentally change” the current services offered for PTSD, and most of the participants were recruited from the internet so “one has to assume they were interested in taking a psychedelic drug.”

    David Nutt, a British neuropsychopharmacologist, saw the results differently. Nutt was the drug adviser for the government until he stated in a research paper in 2009 that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than many illegal drugs, such as ecstasy, and was sacked. Since then, his research has focused on using MDMA to treat alcoholism following trauma.

    “It could revolutionise the treatment of PTSD, for which there has been almost no progress in the past 20 years,” he told The Guardian.

    Michael C. Mithoefer, lead author of the study and a psychiatrist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, said the next phase of clinical trials will begin summer 2018, which will be larger, involving 200 to 300 participants in the US, Canada, and Israel.

    If the results find MDMA to be a safe and effective treatment for PTSD, he expects FDA approval by 2021 — but only with use in combination with therapy sessions and not as a “daily drug.”

    “If it is approved by FDA for clinical use, it will likely be restricted to specialized clinics with properly trained therapists, not as a take-home medicine that people get from the pharmacy,” he said.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    5 misconceptions about great leaders, debunked by Navy SEALs

    Movies and TV shows often portray military leaders as harsh and demanding all the time, but Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin say this is a misrepresentation. In their book, “The Dichotomy of Leadership,” they explain that a good leader has to be aggressive, but not too aggressive. It’s all about balance.

    Following is a transcript of the video.


    Jocko Willink: One of the things that you might see in the media is that some mission is going to come down and the front line troops are going to get told exactly what’s gonna happen and exactly how they’re gonna execute the mission. That doesn’t happen, and it doesn’t work. The military operates with a very decentralized command, so a lot of times it’s the mid-level guys that are coming up with the mission and how they’re gonna execute the mission. And they’re actually briefing up the chain of command. That’s what Leif and I did. We would brief up the chain of command and tell our boss how we were going to do something. And then, our boss would give us the support that we needed to go out and execute.

    One of the better examples that kind of gets leadership right is Band of Brothers, which is an HBO miniseries that focused on Easy Company, 1st of the 506th, or actually 2nd of the 506th, and centered around a character named Dick Winters, who was just an outstanding leader. And if you watch the way he leads his men, compared to the way some of the less savory characters lead their men in that series, you’ll see the exact kind of leadership that we talk about in “The Dichotomy of Leadership.” He’s close to his guys, he’s not too close. He’s aggressive on the battlefield, but he’s not over-aggressive. So he takes risks, but he doesn’t take worthless risks that won’t gain anything. He’s a great example of a leader and he’s a guy that we definitely look up to, and try and emulate as leaders as well.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    As we work with companies and with leaders over the last several years, we saw that one of the biggest weaknesses they had was trying to deal with something that we call the dichotomy of leadership. And what that is, is these are opposing forces that are pulling leaders in opposite directions, that a good leader has to try and balance those opposing forces out. So for instance, as a leader, you can’t get too emotional about things because then you make bad decisions, but on the other hand you can’t just stay completely detached and have no emotions, otherwise, no one will follow you. You can’t be hyper-aggressive. You can’t be over-aggressive, but at the same time, you can’t be not aggressive enough. You have to find that balance in the middle.

    Leif Babin: People have a fundamental misunderstanding of what military leadership is like, and I think they look at guys like me or Jocko and think that we’re gonna be the guys that yell and scream and smash people down, and frankly that doesn’t work. That doesn’t work in any type of leadership scenario, doesn’t work in the military, doesn’t work in the business world, doesn’t work anywhere.

    Willink: One of the biggest problems that new leaders have, is they think they should know everything. They think to themselves, “I’ve gotta know everything, everyone’s watching me and they’re judging me, and if I don’t know everything they’re gonna think less of me.” And so what they do is they go in and they try and act like they know things that they don’t know. The best possible thing you can do as a new leader, if there’s something that you don’t know, is raise your hand and say: “Hey guys, I’m new at this. Do you know a better way to do this?” or “Do you know how to do this?” or “Can you give me a hand?” That doesn’t lower people’s respect for you, it actually increases their respect because they think you’re not going to try and pull the wool over their eyes. You’re gonna actually ask for help when you need it. You’re a humble leader, and that’s going to come across a lot better and it’s going to work out better in the long run for you ’cause you’ll learn more, you’ll know more, and you’ll be more respected by your team. So don’t worry about saying I don’t know something, it’s perfectly fine. You just showed up, no one expects you to know everything. Relax, and ask some questions.

    Babin: Another very common problem that we see with leaders is that leaders look at the specific problems that they’re facing, and they think it’s unique. And they think their problems are harder than everyone else’s problems. It’s a very common problem, I fall into that trap as well, and you can’t do that as a leader because what you’re really doing is you’re making an excuse. You’re making an excuse when you say, “Well, it’s harder for me than it is for other people. I have it tougher here. It’s easier for them.” Or “This other team in this situation that’s able to perform better.” And you can’t do that because as long as you’re making an excuse for yourself, an excuse for your team, you’re never going to actually solve the problems that are causing you to not perform the way you should, and therefore you’re going to keep repeating those same mistakes. And you’re gonna ultimately lead to failure. So, stop giving yourself that excuse, realize that your problems are no different than anybody else’s problems, step up, find a way to solve those problems and win.

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

    Articles

    Pentagon advances F-35 vs A-10 Close Air Support testing

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    US Air Force / WATM


    Flying close to ground troops in combat in hostile and high-threat conditions requires a host of unique attributes for an aircraft — such as flying slow and low to the ground, absorbing some degree of small arms fire and having an ability to quickly maneuver in response to fast-changing ground combat conditions.

    These and many more are among factors now being analyzed as proponents of both the A-10 Warthog and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter assess their respective abilities to perform the crucial and highly valued Close Air Support mission. The Pentagon and the Air Force are now conducting a thorough examination of each plane’s capability for this role – including extensive analysis, simulated tests, flights of both aircraft under combat-like conditions and a range of tests, Air Force and Pentagon officials have explained. While many of the details of the ongoing evaluation are not now being discussed publically, the results are expected to bear prominently upon the visible ongoing debate regarding the future mission scope of both the A-10 and the F-35.

    While the cherished A-10 is unambiguously combat-tested in the role of Close Air Support, some F-35 advocates have mused that the JSF sensors, maneuverability, high-tech computers, 25mm canon and arsenal of weapons just might better position the 5th generation aircraft for the mission; at the same time, the A-10s titanium frame, built-in redundancy, famous nose-aligned 30mm cannon and wide-ranging precision-weapons envelope make clearly make it the best choice for close air support.

    Sure enough, the A-10s performance against ISIS, Congressional lobby and broad adoration among ground troops are among the many factors believed to have influenced the Air Force’s current plan to both extend the life of the current A-10 and also explore requirements options for a future Close Air Support platform. Air Force officials have told Scout Warrior the ongoing requirements and analysis procedure is looking at three options – upgrading the existing A-10 airframe, using the best available commercial-off-the shelf aircraft, or simply engineering an building a newly designed A-10-like Close Air Support airplane.

    Many A-10 proponents are convinced that there is no other plane capable of succeeding with the highly-dangerous, revered and essential Close Air Support Mission. Nevertheless, the Air Force does plan to use the emerging F-35 for Close Air Support moving into the next decade. In addition, F-35 advocates argue that the stealth aircraft’s speed, maneuverability and high-tech weapons and sensors give the F-35 a decisive Close Air Support advantage.

    F-35 Weapons

    In the meantime, the F-35 weapons integration including live fire drops, weapons separation assessments and modifications for future munitions adaptions is progressing as well alongside the existing F-35/A-10 analysis.

    The aircraft has already demonstrated an ability to fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile), JDADM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU 12 (laser-guided aerial bomb), and AIM 9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

    So-called “Block 3F” software for the F-35 increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb and 500-pound JDAM.

    By the early 2020s, the F-35 is slated to be configured with a next-generation Small Diameter Bomb II

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    US Air Force photo

    As a multi-role fighter, the F-35 is also engineered to function as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform designed to apprehend and process video, data and information from long distances. Some F-35 developers have gone so far as to say the F-35 has ISR technologies comparable to many drones in service today that are able to beam a “soda straw” video view of tactically relevant combat locations in real time.

    Built-in ISR is an asset which could have the effect of greatly helping close-air-support efforts.

    Also, F-35 advocates reiterate that the airplane’s high-tech Electro-Optical Targeting System and 360-degree sensors Distributed Aperture System will give the newer aircraft an uncontested combat and close-air-support ability. The F-35s so-called computer-enabled “sensor fusion” might enable it to more quickly ascertain and destroy moving targets by gathering, integrating and presenting fast-changing combat dynamics and circumstances.

    Finally, the F-35’s stealth configuration and speed is expected to better enable it to evade air defenses and move closer to emerging ground-targets in many instances — and its air-to-air ability will enable the aircraft to respond to potential air-threats which could appear in the course of a ground-support mission.

    AIM-9X Sidewinder Missile

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile for the first time earlier this year over a Pacific Sea Test Range, Pentagon officials said.

    The F-35 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and launched the missile at 6,000 feet, an Air Force statement said.

    Designed as part of the developmental trajectory for the emerging F-35, the test-firing facilities further development of an ability to fire the weapon “off-boresight,” described as an ability to target and destroy air to air targets that are not in front of the aircraft with a direct or immediate line of sight, Pentagon officials explained.

    “If you think if a boresight in terms of a firearm… that’s the adjustments made to an optical sight, to align the barrel of a firearm with the sights.  If you think of it in aircraft terms… traditionally air-to-air missiles are fired at targets in front of the them,” Joint Strike Fighter Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova, told Scout Warrior.

    The AIM-9X, he described, incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe and the missile’s high off-boresight capability can be used with an advanced helmet (or a helmet-mounted sight) for a wider attack envelope.

    “For example, instead of having to position the aircraft directly in front or behind the enemy fighter… a high off-boresight weapon enables the pilot to just look to the left, right or up and down to engage a target, fire it and the missile locks on for the kill,” he explained.

    The AIM-9X missile, which can also be fired at surface-to-air and air-to-surface, is currently in use on a number of existing fighter aircraft such as the Air Force’s F-15E and F-16 and the Navy’s F-18 Super Hornet.

    Engineered by Raytheon, the newest AIM-9X Block II weapons are built with a redesigned fuse for increased safety and a lock-on-launch capability. The missile is also configured with a data link to support what’s called “beyond visual range” engagements, meaning targets at much farther ranges picked up by sensors or early warning radar. This could provide a fighter jet with an ability to destroy enemy targets in the air while remaining at a safer stand-off distance less exposed to hostile fire.

    “The AIM-9X Sidewinder is an infrared-guided, air-to-air missile employing a focal plane array sensor for unparalleled target acquisition and tracking, augmented by jet vane control technology for extreme maneuverability against a variety of high performance threats,” Mark Justus, Raytheon AIM-9X program director, told Scout Warrior in a written statement. “The missile also has proven capability in air-to-surface and demonstrated capability in surface-to-air missions.”

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    A Sidewinder missile. | US Air Force photo

    The AIM-9X Block II is the current version of the AIM-9 Sidewinder short range missile family in use by more than 40 nations throughout the world, Justus added.

    “The AIM-9X missile has been acquired by twenty international partners. It is configured for easy installation on a wide variety of modern fighter aircraft and we are excited to complete this milestone of the first AIM-9X live fire from the F-35 as we progress through the aircraft/missile integration activities,” he said.

    Weapons integration for the F-35 is designed to evolve in tandem with software advances for the aircraft, described as “increments.” Each increment, involving massive amounts of lines of computer code, improves the platform’s ability to integrate, carry and fire a wider range of weapons.

    Block 2B, for example, is already operational and builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop.

    Block 2B enables the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU 12 (laser-guided aerial bomb), JSF program officials have said.

    The next increment, Blocks 3i will increase the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

    The Air Force plans to reach operational status with software Block 3i in 2016. Full operational capability will come with Block 3F, service officials said.

    Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, Air Force officials said.

    F-35 25mm Gatling Gun

    Last Fall, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter completed the first aerial test of its 25mm Gatling gun embedded into the left wing of the aircraft, officials said.

    The test took place Oct. 30, 2015 in California, Pentagon officials described.

    Related: Watch the Marines’ F-35 fire an 80-round burst from its gun pod

    “This milestone was the first in a series of test flights to functionally evaluate the in-flight operation of the F-35A’s internal 25mm gun throughout its employment envelope,” a Pentagon statement said.

    The Gatling gun will bring a substantial technology to the multi-role fighter platform, as it will better enable the aircraft to perform air-to-air attacks and close-air support missions to troops on the ground – a task of growing consequence given the Air Force plan to retire the A-10.

    Called the Gun Airborne Unit, or GAU-22/A, the weapon is engineered into the aircraft in such a manner as to maintain the platform’s stealth configuration.

    The four-barrel 25mm gun is designed for rapid fire in order to quickly blanket an enemy with gunfire and destroy targets quickly. The weapon is able to fire 3,300 rounds per minute, according to a statement from General Dynamics.

    “Three bursts of one 30 rounds and two 60 rounds each were fired from the aircraft’s four-barrel, 25-millimeter Gatling gun. In integrating the weapon into the stealthy F-35A airframe, the gun must be kept hidden behind closed doors to reduce its radar cross section until the trigger is pulled,” a statement from the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter said.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    A gun test on the F-35 on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. | US Air Force photo

    The first phase of test execution consisted of 13 ground gunfire events over the course of three months to verify the integration of the gun into the F-35A, the JSF office said.

    “Once verified, the team was cleared to begin this second phase of testing, with the goal of evaluating the gun’s performance and integration with the airframe during airborne gunfire in various flight conditions and aircraft configurations,” the statement added.

    The new gun will also be integrated with the F-35’s software so as to enable the pilot to see and destroy targets using a helmet-mounted display.

    The gun is slated to be operational by 2017.

    Small Diameter Bomb II

    The Air Force is engineering and testing a new air-dropped weapon able to destroy moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions at ranges greater than 40-miles, Air Force and Raytheon officials said.

    The Small Diameter Bomb II, or SDB II, is designed to integrate onto the F-35 by 2022 or 2023; it is engineered todestroy moving targets in all kinds of weather, such as small groups of ISIS or terrorist fighters on-the-move in pick-up trucks.

    A weapon of this kind would be of extreme relevance against ISIS fighters as the group is known to deliberately hide among civilian populations and make movements under cloud cover or adverse weather in order to avoid detection from overhead surveillance technologies.

    While the Air Force currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions. In addition, the SDB II is built with a two-way, dual-band data link which enables it to change targets or adjust to different target locations while in flight.

    A key part of the SDB II is a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker — a guidance system which can direct the weapon using millimeter wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology.

    A tri-mode seeker provides a range of guidance and targeting options typically not used together in one system. Millimeter wave radar gives the weapon an ability to navigate through adverse weather, conditions in which other guidance systems might encounter problems reaching or pinpointing targets.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    Small Diameter Bomb II | Raytheon

    Imagining infrared guidance allows the weapon to track and hone in on heat signatures such as the temperature of an enemy vehicle. With semi-active laser technology, the weapon can be guided to an exact point using a laser designator or laser illuminator coming from the air or the ground.

    Also, the SBD II brings a new ability to track targets in flight through use of a two-way Link 16 and UHF data link, Raytheon officials said.

    The millimeter wave radar turns on first. Then the data link gives it a cue and tells the seeker where to open up and look. Then, the weapon can turn on its IR (infrared) which uses heat seeking technology, Raytheon officials said.

    The SBD II is engineered to weigh only 208 pounds, a lighter weight than most other air dropped bombs, so that eight of them can fit on the inside of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon officials explained.

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    Russia wants to give its military small bomb-dropping drones

    Russia is planning to supply its troops with small-scale drones that can drop bombs, Russian news site Izvestia reported July 2019. The quadcopters outfitted with explosives are modeled after similar commercial drones rigged with explosive devices used by ISIS fighters in Syria.

    “This is a very tactical [unmanned aerial vehicle], we’re talking about small UAV with a close range,” Samuel Bendett, a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a member of CNA’s Center for Autonomy and AI, and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, told INSIDER.

    “Downrange, they will probably be able to strap a couple of grenades or bombs” to the UAVs, Bendett said.


    While the UAVs aren’t yet outfitted with weapons, Izvestia cited sources in the Ministry of Defense saying the upgrade is imminent, and Bendett told INSIDER via email “given the relative simplicity in turning them into strike drones so they can drop grenades or mortar rounds, I would say that can happen relatively quickly.”

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in the Unmanned Aerial System Operations Program familiarize themselves with quad-copter flight controls at the Cadet Field House, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., March 4, 2019.

    (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Armstrong)

    The US has pioneered drones in military operations, and many of them are larger than piloted planes and carry a suite of surveillance sensors and missiles. The armed MQ-9 Reaper has a 66-foot-long wingspan that’s twice that of an F-16 fighter. In contrast, the kind of small drones favored by remote-control hobbyists weren’t thought of as a weapon until their use by ISIS combatants.

    “Suddenly ISIS does a 180 and turns these very simple, unsophisticated devices into very deadly ones,” he said. “So there was that realization that anything and everything could be turned into a weapon and therefore the Russian military should look at the successful adoption of the systems that have proven successful.”

    ISIS fighters used drones to terrifying effect against the US-led coalition, the attacks did not result in a “large number of deaths,” according to a report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

    Russian law enforcement agencies already use small drones, Bendett said. What’s new is Russia’s decision to weaponize them — and the Ministry of Defense announcement of the decision.

    It’s unclear how large the drones will be, or how many Russia will utilize, although Bendett said they could number in the thousands.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle launches from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock.

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac)

    “I don’t believe that very small weaponized drones pose a particularly dangerous threat simply because a drone that weighs 33 grams simply can’t carry much of a payload,” Jeff Ellis, a partner at Clyde Co. in New York, told INSIDER via email.

    “That being said, slightly larger drones can be used to target individuals or small groups and remain very difficult to detect and interdict,” he said.

    The drones will need to be able to support secure communication and small-scale sensors before they are useful to the Russian military, Bendett said.

    But anything that the military uses, Bendett noted, would eventually trickle down to Russia’s state security apparatus, including the FSB, but only for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts “for now.”

    While the adoption of terrorist tactic by a state might seem ethically dubious, Bendett said that Russia has adopted other technologies used by extremist groups, like technicals — a pick-up truck that has a mounted machine guns.

    Furthermore, Bendett said it’s important to note that the Russian military is thinking tactically. “For Russians it’s a very matter of fact thing right now,” he told INSIDER. “They’re seeing what works best, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll discard it.”

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

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 31st

    Former Secretary of Defense, retired general, and Patron Saint of Chaos James Mattis has announced that he will be publishing an autobiography called Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. It’s said to cover him coming to terms with leadership learned throughout his military career starting from his days as a young Marine lieutenant to four-star general in charge of CENTCOM.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m freaking pumped. Yes, I’d love to know the nitty-gritty of commanding a quarter million troops, but I want to know about his lesser-known butter bar years leading a weapons platoon. Because let’s be honest, that’s where the seeds of his leadership style really grew.

    He probably made mistakes and got chewed out for it. He slipped up and got mocked by the lower enlisted. He would have had to ask for advice and eventually grow into one of the smartest minds Uncle Sam has seen in a long time. Even the Warrior Monk himself may have been that nosy LT who needed to be whipped into shape by the platoon sergeant, and that’s kind of motivating in its own way. Yeah, you may f*ck up once in a while, but not even Chaos Actual was a born leader. He had to learn it.

    Just think. There’s an old salty devil dog out there somewhere who’s responsible for knife-handing the boot-tenant out of Mattis. And he’s the real hero of this story.


    While we wait for the one book that will actually get Jarheads to read for fun on June 16th, here’s some memes.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Army as F*ck)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Team Non-Rec)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Not CID)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via SFC Majestic)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Broken and Unreadable)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Disgruntled Decks)

    Fun fact: The Department of Energy renamed natural gas “freedom gas” in a memo. You know what that means, boys… 

    And no. That’s an actual thing and not from The Onion.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Pop Smoke)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    (Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    Taking the blame: Why fighter pilots have to own their mistakes

    Even the best fighter pilots make mistakes.

    One of the things that often shocks new pilots is how brutally honest our debriefs can be. After nearly a full day of planning, briefing, and flying a mission, we’ll gather in a room and spend hours picking apart everything that went wrong. Even if all our objectives were met and the mission was a success, we’ll still comb through a “god’s eye view” of the flight, along with the various recordings from inside our cockpit.


    Rank comes off in the debrief, meaning the most senior officer, or the most senior pilot, are open to just as much criticism as the newest wingman. I’ve been in debriefs where a young Captain held the Wing Commander’s feet to the fire over mistakes he made in the air. This usually comes as a shock to many in the military who are typically required to follow a strict hierarchy.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    When is comes to mistakes, fighter pilots worry more about improvement than they do about rank. (USAF Photo)

    As with all things related to flying, prioritization is key—we’ll start with the biggest things that went wrong and try to uncover their root causes. I was recently explaining to a civilian pilot that in the debrief we spend 90% of our time on the 10% that didn’t go according to plan. They were amazed that 10% doesn’t go according to plan. In reality though, it can often be much higher.

    The type of flying we do has more in common with sports than a typical commercial flight. We are fighting a thinking adversary that is specifically targeting our weaknesses. We, in turn, are making decisions that are trying to exploit theirs. As we fight to seize the initiative inside this decision loop; dozens of potential outcomes can occur at each phase of the mission. A mission therefore almost never goes exactly according to plan. It’s a dynamic environment that forces the pilot to perceive, decide, and execute in a harsh environment, often with limited information and time.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    A three-ship formation of Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons flies over Kunsan City, South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

    In training, if the bomber we were escorting was shot down, or if an enemy aircraft bombed the point we were defending, it’s usually multiple overlapping mistakes that led to the failure. In fact, everyone probably had an opportunity at some point to intervene and save the day. The fighter pilot debrief works because everyone is willing to take ownership of their mistakes.

    Taking ownership is a skill. As fighter pilots, most of us are predisposed to win at all costs—within the rules and regulations. In the debrief though, with the mission already flown, the way to win is to accurately identify lessons that will make everyone better for the next flight. It’s a fragile environment that only works when everyone is willing to first look inward for failures to the mission.

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly in formation with F-35A Lightning IIs (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

    It only takes one person trying to pass the blame for the collaborative environment to fall apart. Because it’s not stable, it requires constant maintenance, especially by those who could use their status to get by. The mission commander must be the first person to call themselves out for a mistake they made. Likewise, the pilot with the most experience must be willing to say they made a basic error that even a new pilot shouldn’t have made. The officer with the highest rank must be willing to set the example that rank doesn’t shield mistakes.

    By treating everyone equally in the debrief, the mission can be analyzed in a sterile environment. We can figure out what went wrong and capture those lessons for future flights. To the casual observer it’s a brutal environment, but to the pilots in the debrief it’s just a puzzle on how to get better.

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


    Featured

    The Captain of the Roosevelt was fired. Watch how his crew responded.

    The USS Roosevelt has dominated headlines lately after news broke that a few sailors had contracted COVID-19 while the carrier was at sea. First, the count of sick sailors was only two. Then, as this virus tends to go, the number grew exponentially. As of Wednesday, there were 93 crew members with the virus. Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier requested help and after he thought enough was not being done, he was suspected of leaking the letter to the press, as it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Crozier’s hometown paper.


    In the four-page letter to senior military leadership, Crozier asked for additional support, stating that only a small number of those infected had disembarked from the deployed carrier, in port in Guam. A majority of the crew remained onboard, where, as anyone who has spent time on a ship knows, social distancing isn’t just difficult; it is impossible. “Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote in the letter. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Crozier asked that the majority of his crew be removed, asking for compliant quarantine rooms on Guam as soon as possible. “Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care. …This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” he continued in the letter. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

    While the letter ultimately had the outcome Capt. Crozier intended — many of the crew were quarantined on Guam, it came at a high cost: Capt. Crozier was relieved of command.

    In a press conference Thursday evening, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Crozier was removed because he didn’t follow chain of command protocol in how he handled the situation.

    While Modly praised Capt. Crozier, he ultimately relieved him because the captain “allowed the complexity of the challenge of the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally.” You can read the full text of Modly’s statement, here.

    “The responsibility for this decision rests with me,” Modly stated. “I expect no congratulations for it. Captain Crozier is an incredible man. … I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns.”

    The crew cheered the Captain off of the ship. We wish all of the sailors on the Roosevelt a speedy recovery.

    Articles

    13 funniest military memes for the week of Aug. 11

    Don’t worry, destroying North Korea will wait long enough for you to take a bathroom and memes break. Here are 13 of the funniest military memes floating around, here just in time to help you relieve yourself before the Super Bowl of war:


    13. This leader started as a slave racing pods across the desert. Now he’s here (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    We can all learn something from him.

    12. It opens the cans; it pours the cans. Don’t make this complicated, sailors (via Shit my LPO says).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    It’s not your job to decide what it and is not a green bean.

    ALSO SEE: Russia just deployed the ‘Terminator’ to Syria, and you’ll be shocked to see what it can do

    11. Gonna need more beers before PT (via Decelerate Your Life).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    When it takes about half a case to make it to formation, it’s time to get out.

    10. Larger casualty radius but you’ve got to throw a lot more of them for 360 degrees of effects (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    The Army might be waiting another couple of years for that Beretta replacement.

    9. Most uncomfortable way to realize what your brother has been doing in the garage all night (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    But hey, at least you now know.

    8. Correction: You got them ON one truck (via Air Force Nation).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    Good luck at your next duty station. Maybe leave some stuff at the lending closet when you have to PCS again.

    7. When the young guys realize why the veterans still buy hard copies of their magazines:

    (via The Salty Soldier)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    Hope you kept the driftwood, Morty.

    6. Don’t care how long the contract is or how long the school is, create a dragon pilot MOS and I’m there (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    And if Trump makes it happen, #TrumpDaenarys2024.

    5. Well, at least the weak links have been identified, now (via Coast Guard Memes).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    Sort of impressed if he can jump rope in those boots for very long, though.

    4. The humvee is uncomfortable, but it’s boats that really hate this game (via Air Force Nation).

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    “Don’t worry, we’ll get you there saf—” “CUT SLING LOAD!”

    3. So, if I just stay in this toxic environment for 15 more years, I can be one voice asking it to be less evil, please?

    (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    Or I can work at a website? Making memes jokes on Fridays and then playing video games all weekend?

    2. #ThatDD214Life (via Decelerate Your Life)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35
    #SquadGoals

    1. “Oh, really, first sergeant? In the commander’s humvee, you say?”

    (via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

    The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

    Articles

    New North Korean propaganda video features nuclear attack on Washington

    On March 26, North Korea’s YouTube channel released a dramatic propaganda video that features a nuclear attack near the Lincoln Memorial:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbOYRLlhIP4
    The video is four minutes long and contains a montage of U.S. defeats throughout history set to background music reminiscent of a ’70s-era TV show .

    “If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike,” read the Korean subtitles in the video, according to The New York Times. “The United States must choose! It’s up to you whether the nation called the United States exists on this planet or not.”

    The North Korean propaganda video comes amid a string of nuclear and rocket testing, which resulted in further sanctions of the Kim regime. Most recently, the Pyongyang threatened a direct attack on the South Korean presidential palace, the Blue House, unless its demand are met.

    North Korea, sometimes called “The Hermit Kingdom” for its reclusiveness and closed borders, is known to rattle its saber when it needs something, be it food aid or cash, in order to elicit a bribe or assistance in order to return tensions to normal.

    The North also often does this in March, around the time of annually planned joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. In March 2010, the North sank the South Korean submarine Cheonan in the South’s territorial waters. In 2012, they announced planned rocket launches. In 2013, they conducted a nuclear test during the U.S.-ROK exercises, this prompted the U.S. to respond by flying B-2 Stealth Bombers and B-52 Stratofortresses over the demilitarized zone, to remind the North of U.S. bomber capabilities in the region. In response, Kim Jong-Un declared a “state of war” between the North and South, but no actual attacks ever materialized.

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