The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Saudi Arabia has been buying a lot of weapons in recent years. So much so that a recent purchase of 17 Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawks went by almost unnoticed. What’s most interesting about this sale, though, is not just the fact that the Saudis have acquired some very versatile helicopters, but rather who the Blackhawks were bought for.


The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
A Soldier is lowered from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during the Gowen Thunder open house and air show at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, Oct. 14, 2017. Saudi Arabia recently purchased 17 UH-60M Blackhawks for the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

According to a Lockheed Martin brochure, the UH-60M has a crew of four and can hold 11 troops. It has a cruising speed of 151 knots and can haul 9,000 pounds of cargo on an external hook. Versions of the UH-60 have handled everything from packing weapons to medevac missions to firefighting.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
A UH-60 Blackhawk flies overhead during an exercise at Tactical Base Gamberi. (Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Randall Pike)

The Saudi military has six armed services: The Royal Saudi Land Forces, the Royal Saudi Navi, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Defense, the Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, and the Saudi Arabia National Guard. Two of these services will split the 17 Blackhawks: The Saudi Arabia National Guard is buying eight, while the other nine will go to the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces.

The Saudi Arabia National Guard is nothing like the U.S. National Guard. In the United States, the National Guard does everything from disaster relief to fighting in combat alongside active forces. It serves both the state and federal governments. The Saudi Arabia National Guard, conversely, is meant to protect the Saudi Royal Family from coups. It is very likely that the eight Blackhawks they’re acquiring will be used as troop transports.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
A pair of U.S. Army MH-60M Blackhawks fly in formation with a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion. There is a chance that the nine Blackhawks being purchased by the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces could be equipped with some of the same technologies in the MH-60s used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Allison Lotz)

The Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces, on the other hand, are elite troops with the Royal Saudi Land Forces, Saudi Arabia’s regular army. The Royal Saudi Land Forces website states that personnel who join the Airborne Special Security Forces are “qualified to carry out the most intricate and sensitive missions and complete them with highest speed, swift movement, and maximum accuracy.” The nine Blackhawks going to this elite unit are likely to be used for troop transport missions, but they could very well have modifications similar to those used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, better known as the Nightstalkers.

A representative for Sikorsky pointed WATM to the company’s website on the UH-60 when asked for comment. Either way, the Saudis have acquired a number of highly versatile helicopters that have served a number of countries very successfully over the years. Exactly what the Saudis intend to do with these choppers remains to be seen.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VP open to the new Space Force using orbital weapons

If officials can advocate for reusable rockets to deliver cargo to troops from space ports, perhaps more firepower in space is possible, too.

Vice President Mike Pence on Oct. 23, 2018, didn’t immediately rule out positioning nuclear weapons in space sometime in the future. In a conversation with the Washington Post during its “Transformers: Space” summit, Pence was asked if the United States was looking to renegotiate the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which currently bans “weapons of mass destruction,” but still allows for conventional weapons in orbit.


“That treaty…doesn’t ban military activity,” Pence said. “It gives nations a fair amount of flexibility in operating in their security interests in outer space. At this time we don’t see any need to amend the treaty, but as time goes forward, the hope that we could continue to see outer space as a domain where peace will reign will require military presence.”

Post reporter Robert Costa, who interviewed Pence onstage at the forum, asked him if he thought nuclear weapons should be banned from space.

“They are now,” Pence replied.

“Should they always be banned from space?” Costa said.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

A SpaceX “flight proven” first stage booster successfully lands on Landing Zone 1, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Dec. 15, 2017.

(SpaceX photo)

“Well, look. I think what we need to do is make sure that we provide for the common defense of the people of the United States of America. And that’s the president’s determination here,” Pence replied. “What we want to do is continue to advance the principle that peace comes through strength.”

The vice president on Oct. 23, 2018, headlined a few events to promote plans for the Trump administration’s proposed Space Force, intended to be the sixth military branch.

Following his appearance at the Post, Pence convened a meeting of the National Space Council at Fort McNair, where cabinet secretaries, members of the national space and security councils, and policy officials discussed recommendations to begin forming the Department of the Space Force.

Echoing a plan Pence unveiled at the Pentagon in August 2018, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Defense Department would move to:

  • Establish the creation of a unified space command, known as U.S. Space Command
  • Direct a legislative proposal for a Space Force for the White House to review
  • Form a budget request proposal to include Space Force elements in the fiscal year 2020 budget Review various space agency authorities to understand and streamline chain-of-command
  • Establishes the Space Development Agency for new satellite and technology procurement
  • Strengthen relationships between the new military space branch and the intelligence community

The recommendations, approved unanimously in the meeting, will eventually be woven into Space Policy Directive-4, known as SPD-4, Space News reported.

When SPD-4 may be signed by the president was not disclosed, even though members of the Pentagon have been waiting to discuss the directive for some months, Military.com reported last week.

During the two-hour meeting, the conferees heard from Doug Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Mark Sirangelo, an “entrepreneur-in-residence” at the University of Colorado Boulder’s aerospace engineering program and former head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space business; and Air Force Lt. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, Deputy Commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

All were in favor of establishing a Space Force. McLaughlin, however, stressed interoperability and warned of bureaucratic overlap.

“I think you undermine the need for a department if you try to create a combatant command with service-like authorities,” McLaughlin said. “We have to be careful about these three entities not overlapping, and drawing clear lines.”

According to a report from DefenseOne, the Pentagon already has some lines drawn.

Current space operations conducted by bases that belong to Air Force Space Command, the Army‘s 1st Space Brigade, the Navy‘s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and the Naval Satellite Operations Center will all be absorbed into the Space Force, according to plans.

Space Force will not initially include “the transfer of [the] strategic intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance mission of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO),” the 13-page memo said, as reported by DefenseOne Monday. Whether the intelligence agency will be incorporated at a later date remains to be seen.

“It was not easy to do this,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “But we are moving out.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army is modernizing all of its aviation systems

The U.S. Army believes that future, high-end conflicts will require aviation assets, particularly helicopters, that are long range, fast-moving, and highly lethal. Future military helicopters will need to lift more weight, generate greater power, and use less fuel.


This is why the Army has been spending billions on technologies for virtually every aircraft system: airframe, engines, flight controls, avionics, sensors, and weapons. Many of these are part of the Army-led, multi-service Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the ultimate goal of which is to replace most of the U.S. military’s fleet of helicopters beginning in the 2030s. The Army has identified FVL as one of its highest modernization priorities.

Also read: The Army wants a series of futuristic new helicopters

The FVL program is focused initially on developing a new scout helicopter as well as replacements for the Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk and the Boeing AH-64 Apache. Ultimately, the plan is to also develop a heavy lift helicopter and a super-size platform with a payload capacity equivalent to that of existing fixed-wing tactical aircraft such as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Airbus A400M Atlas.

In order to ensure that FVL can achieve its ambitious goals, the Army began the Joint Multi-Role Rotorcraft Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program in 2004. JMR’s primary objective is to develop and test advanced rotorcraft designs that can achieve a revolutionary leap in capabilities. In addition, JMR seeks to develop a common digital backbone and open architecture that will allow new systems, components, and weapons to be rapidly integrated.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
A Soldier is lowered from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

The Army selected designs by two teams to build and fly JMR demonstrators. Bell Helicopter is offering the V-280 Valor, a third-generation tilt-rotor platform. The V-280 conducted its first successful test flight this past December. A Sikorsky-Boeing team will soon begin flight tests of the SB1 Defiant, a revolutionary design with two coaxial rotors on top and a pusher propeller in back. The current plan is to begin production of a new aerial platform around 2030, although there is growing belief that the current schedule could be substantially accelerated.

Related: This is what Sikorsky thinks should replace the Blackhawk

Although the FVL has received the lion’s share of media attention, the Army has a second major aviation modernization program underway. This is the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP). ITEP is an Army-led program to develop a new engine for the military’s Blackhawk and Apache fleets, one that is 50 percent more powerful and 25 percent more fuel-efficient at no increase in weight. In addition, the ITEP engine will be designed with ruggedized parts to support operations in austere and stressful environments.

Why is the Army pursuing both the FVL programs for a new generation of rotorcraft and ITEP to put new engines in current helicopters? Put simply, even on an accelerated schedule, it will be decades before the products of the FVL program can replace the more than 2,000 Blackhawks and nearly 1,000 Apaches in the U.S. inventory. Since many U.S. allies also operate Blackhawks and Apaches, there is a long-term global requirement to modernize both platforms.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter hovers before takeoff (Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr.)

ITEP is critical to ensure the continued effectiveness of the Blackhawk and Apache fleets. As new technologies are added and additional protective measures deployed, the weight of military helicopters has steadily increased. It is estimated that the Blackhawk has gotten 78 pounds heavier every year since it was first deployed. Also, the U.S. military finds itself operating in more challenging environments and at higher altitudes than existing helicopter engines can readily support. Blackhawk and Apache crews often have had to reduce their loads of personnel, munitions, and even fuel to get off the ground.

ITEP is currently in the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase. Two companies, both with extensive experience producing high-performance engines, are competing to be the single provider of the new Blackhawk/Apache power plant. One is GE Aviation. Its design for ITEP, the T901 Turboshaft Engine, is a single spool engine meaning that it consists of a compressor and turbine section connected by a single shaft. GE Aviation believes that this design provides reliability and ease of maintenance.

More: This is what happens when the Army puts a laser on an Apache attack helicopter

The other competitor is the Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt Whitney. Its T900 engine is a dual-spool design with two rotating turbine-compressor assemblies instead of one. A dual-spool engine automatically distributes the load between the two assemblies, allowing real-time adjustments to optimize performance, run cooler, and reduce fuel use. As a result, the new engine can be designed with less need to make compromises in key performance requirements such as speed and power. The dual spool approach also tends to result in less wear-and-tear and reduced maintenance costs.

The Department of Defense needs to move forward aggressively with both FVL and ITEP. This means providing sufficient funding to accelerate FVL while also ensuring that ITEP can successfully develop a higher performance engine for legacy Blackhawks and Apaches.

Articles

How this chef runs a kitchen like a platoon

If you’ve ever served in the Army, you know chain of command is everything. Orders flow down from the Commander, and the success of the mission is a direct reflection of the rigor and discipline with which his or her subordinates execute.


The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
General George S. Patton: good plans, violently executed.

If you’ve ever worked in a gourmet kitchen, you know that chain of command is everything. Orders flow down from the Chef, and the success of the meal service is a direct reflection of the rigor and discipline with which his or her subordinates execute.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
Chef Ludo Lefebvre: great meals, violently delegated. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Cute, right? Yeah, it’s true though. The parallels between a deployed military force and a busy professional kitchen are abundant and revealing. Discipline, hierarchy, preparation, trust in team — it’s all there. And no one gets this more clearly than Army veteran Will Marquardt, who now serves as Chef de Cuisine (second in command) to celeb Chef Ludo Lefebvre in his five-star Hollywood hole-in-the-wall, Petit Trois.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
The Lieutenant of Petit Trois, hard at work. (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl took the 405 to the 10 to drop in on Petit Trois, where he found a young lieutenant at the top of his game, executing dish after perfect dish with precision, exemplary leadership, and an added dash of creativity.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

This is what it means to be American in Guam

Articles

B-52s join the fight against ISIS

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
(Photo: DVIDS)


U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, today, in support of theater requirements and Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate Da’esh and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria and the wider international community.

“The B-52 will provide the Coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces Air Component. “As a multi-role platform, the B-52 offers diverse capabilities including delivery of precision weapons and the flexibility and endurance needed to support the combatant commander’s priorities and strengthen the Coalition team.”

The 19-nation air coalition consists of numerous strike aircraft and the B-52s will bring their unique capability to the fight against Da’esh.

The B-52 is a long-range heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, and maritime operations.

Crews will be available to carry out missions in both Iraq and Syria as needed to support Air Tasking Order requirements.

“The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Da’esh and defend the region in any future contingency,”said Brown.

This deployment is the first basing of the B-52s in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in 26 years. The B-52s were based in Saudi Arabia supporting Operation Desert Storm. The B-52s were last flown operationally during Operation Enduring Freedom in May 2006, and during Exercise Eager Lion – a USCENTCOM- led multilateral exercise in Jordan in May 2015.

The coalition conducted more than 33,000 airpower missions in support of OIR. Since the beginning of the operation, the Coalition struck about 459 VBIEDs, 776 mortar systems, 1,933 logistics buildings housing these weapons, 662 weapons caches, and 1,341 staging areas.

(h/t Kevin Baron, DefenseOne.com)

Articles

Russia is bringing back the world’s largest surface combatant

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons


Developed in the late 1970s, Russia’s Kirov-class battle cruisers are the largest and heaviest surface-combat ships in the world — and they’re coming back with advanced weaponry, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

At more than 800 feet long, with a displacement of around 25,000 tons, the Kirov dwarfs any navy ship short of an amphibious assault ship or aircraft carriers. But only one, the Pyotr Veliky, is still in service.

Russian media says that another aging Kirov-class hull, the Admiral Nakhimov, is being fitted with Russia’s newest antiship, antiair, and surface-to-surface missiles.

Russia intends to return the Admiral Nakhimov to its fleet in 2019, at which time the Pyotr Veliky will be docked to undergo the same upgrades.

These include missiles of the Kalibr variety that recently hit targets in Syria from the Caspian Sea, Zircon hypersonic missiles, which are slated to be ready by 2020, and a “navalized” version of Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system, according to Foxtrot Alpha.

To accommodate these missiles, Russia plans to overhaul the ship’s vertical-launch systems. That contract alone is worth 2.56 billion rubles, or $33.5 million, NavyRecognition.com notes.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
Aerial starboard view of the foredeck of a Kirov-class ship shows four single 30 mm Gatling guns (in purple), two pop-up (lowered) SA-N-4 SAM launchers (in red), 20 SS-N-19 cruise-missile launchers (in green), 12 SA-N-6 SAM launchers (in blue), and one twin SS-N-14 antisubmarine warfare/surface-to-surface missile launcher (in yellow). These weapons systems will be updated by 2020, Russia claims. | US Navy photo

As with all Russian military expenditures, outsiders have trouble imagining how the struggling petro-state will pay for them.

Though the Russian navy has hit several setbacks before, the Kremlin seems hell-bent on revitalizing its navy.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Over 400 US Navy sailors are desperately fighting the 1,000-degree fire raging on a warship for more than a day

A devastating fire continues to spread throughout the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, a US Navy official revealed in an update Monday, over 24 hours after the ship burst into flames.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told reporters that the fire, which is believed to have originated in the lower vehicle storage area, has damaged the superstructure, collapsed the masts, and spread to the bow.


Sobeck said at the moment it is believed that there are two decks standing between a fire as hot as 1,000 degrees in some places and about 1 million gallons of fuel, but he said that while the risk of the fire reaching the fuel was “absolutely a concern,” the response team would “make sure” the fire does not reach the fuel.

With all the water that has been dumped onto the ship, the Bonhomme Richard is listing on its side. Navy helicopters alone have dumped 415 buckets of water on the ship.

And a total of 57 people, including 34 sailors and 23 civilians, have suffered injuries, such as smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. Five remain in the hospital.

Sobeck told reporters Sunday evening that “we’re absolutely going to make sure it sails again.”

He added: “We’re just going to get right back at it once we get this thing contained and put out.”

On Monday, he reiterated that he remained hopeful.

There are more than 400 sailors battling the blaze aboard the Bonhomme Richard. “We’re doing everything we can,” the admiral said, adding that the Navy responders would “make every effort to save the ship.”

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Firefighters battle a fire aboard the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross)

‘Hell in a very small space’

The ongoing fight aboard the ship is intense. “Shipboard fires are enormously hard to fight,” retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO commander, wrote on Twitter Monday.

“Having been through a couple, I can tell you they are hell in a very small space,” he said. With temperatures as high as they are in some places on the ship, sailors are rotating in and out on 15-minute firefighting shifts.

The specific cause of the fire is unknown and will likely remain unknown until the fire can be extinguished.

The ship was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego when the fire ignited.

“At least some, if not all of, the major firefighting systems are tagged out for maintenance,” retired US Navy Capt. Earle Yerger, the former commander of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, told Insider. Sobeck confirmed that the Halon fire-suppression system was not active.

Furthermore, “in the yards, you have multiple cables, wires, and hoses running straight through passageways,” he said. “As a result, you can’t close the fire doors. Once [the fire] got seeded and got going, there is no way to contain it. It was like a chimney all the way up to the island.”

Yerger added that limited manning may have also hindered the crew’s early ability to fight the fire, saying that had the ship been at sea with a full crew, they would have likely had it under control in less than an hour. At the time of the fire, there were only 160 people on the ship.

While Sobeck has expressed optimism the ship could be saved, Yerger said the ship was likely too far gone.

“You’re not going to fix it,” he told Insider, adding that the ship’s future probably involved being towed out and sunk to a “deep point in the ocean.”

“Build a new America-class and call it a day. This ship is 23 years old. You’d be better off to start fresh,” he said, referring to the newer amphibs replacing the Wasp-class vessels. “Just let it go.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

See the military’s awesome tribute to Stan Lee

As a child, Maj. Scotty Autin loved reading Marvel comic books. One of his favorite characters was Gambit, a fictional quick-handed, card-playing thief from New Orleans.

“Considering I’m from Louisiana, I was always drawn to Gambit,” said Autin, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District. “I read all the comics that featured him and watched the X-Men animated series just to see him. I remember as a 10-year-old, I would practice throwing playing cards just to be like him.”


So when Autin was invited to participate in “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” Jan. 30, 2019, at The Creative Life, or TCL, Chinese Theatre, formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Prior and active-duty military service members with the Veterans in Media and Entertainment, Los Angeles; 311th Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Reserves, Los Angeles; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District; the 300th Army Band, Los Angeles; American Legion Post No. 43, Hollywood, California; and American Legion Post No. 283, Pacific Palisades, California, pose for a picture prior to the start of “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

The event was a memorial tribute to Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics, who died in November 2018.

But it wasn’t just because Autin grew up reading Marvel comic books that made participating in the ceremony so important to him; it also was a way to honor Lee’s service to the nation as a fellow Army veteran.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Crowds start to gather Jan. 30, 2019, in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood prior to the start of “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

Lee was a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. While in the service, he started out as a lineman, before the Army realized his writing skills and moved him into technical writing for training manuals, films and posters with a group that included the likes of Oscar-winner Frank Capra and Pulitzer-winner William Saroyan. After the war, Lee returned to Timely Comics, later renamed Marvel, where he served as the editor and co-creator for decades.

He was proud of his military service, said Lee’s longtime friend, Karen Kraft, an award-winning television producer, Army veteran and the chairwoman of the Veterans in Media and Entertainment, or VME, Board of Directors.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

An artist sketches a drawing of Marvel Comic creator Stan Lee with actor, producer and director Kevin Smith during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

“He was very proud to have enlisted and was hoping to serve overseas, but his skill set was quickly discovered as a writer, illustrator and storyteller,” Kraft said.

Lee’s appreciation for his military service carried over to his civilian role at Marvel Comics, where it can be seen in the patriotic themes of “Captain America,” she said.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Paul Lilley, an Army veteran, actor, producer and member of Veterans in Media and Entertainment, center, helps fold a flag to present to “Agents of Mayhem” “Legion M” and “POW! Entertainment!” during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

Organizers of the event, which included VME, wanted to ensure that piece of Lee’s life wasn’t lost during the tribute ceremony. So they organized a color guard. A bugler was brought in to play, “Taps.” An Army band was asked to perform. Autin brought American flags he had flown in Iraq on Veterans Day to present to Lee’s daughter, J.C., and the sponsors of the event. American Legion’s Post No. 43, Hollywood, and Post No. 283, Pacific Palisades, California, got on board to help with a wreath-laying ceremony.

First encounter with Lee

Growing up in Rochester, New York, Kraft was drawn to the comic book creations of Lee.

She and her older brothers would go to the comic book store once a month, where she soon fell in love with Marvel Comics — the artwork, the words, the lettering, the coloring.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Jimmy Weldon, World War II veteran and a member of the American Legion Post No. 43, Hollywood, takes in all of the activities prior to the start of “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

“No two comic books are the same,” she said. “It so captivates you that you don’t realize you’re reading a comic book. Your mind is filling in the gaps between the boxes and the pages because you’re so enthralled by it. That’s a power; that’s a storytelling magic.”

Kraft first met Lee at a comic book convention when she was young. After the convention and at the recommendation of her mother, Kraft wrote Lee a “thank you” letter, and he wrote a “thank you” letter back. From there, the two kept in touch, she said.

Later, when Kraft worked for the Discovery Channel, she interviewed Lee and other comic book talents for the documentary, “Marvel Superheroes Guide to New York City.” The documentary entailed traveling around New York City to the locations that inspired Lee and other comic book artists.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

A military service member salutes the U.S. flag during the playing of “Taps” at “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

After she left Discovery Channel, Kraft worked with Lee on various projects. Their initial chance encounter and continued correspondence developed into a decades-long friendship.

In Kraft’s eyes, Lee had his own superpower — the ability to connect with people.

“Stan was marvelous in the use of his vocabulary and the way he created these characters you can relate to,” she said. “He created this entire world with all of these different artists … Every character he created is a co-creation. That’s also pretty stunning — including all of these people and inspiring all of that creativity from artists and writers.”

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Jere Romano, post commander of the American Legion No. 283, Pacific Palisades, California, left, along with his wife, Martha, place a wreath by a cement plaque of Marvel Comic book creator Stan Lee’s signature.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

Lee was known for a process called the “Marvel Method,” a creative assembly-line style he used in comic book-making. Lee would write in the captions, another artist would sketch the scene, another would color it and a different artist would finish the lettering. Some credit Lee’s process to his Army experience, where everyone had a job, or Military Occupational Specialty.

Throughout the years, Kraft said, Lee always opened his home and office to her and allowed her to bring veterans over to visit, where he would share his World War II stories. The two both joined the American Legion Post No. 43, Hollywood, together and Lee became an advisory board member of VME.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Members of the Veterans in Media and Entertainment present a U.S. flag to a Legion M representative during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

“He would talk to veterans about his military service … he loved to share his story,” she said. “His superpower is people. He’s extremely generous, very open with his time, very kind, very funny and very positive. And, he was very proud of his military service. We bonded over that.”

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Crowds of people gather in the TCL Chinese Theatre Courtyard in Hollywood during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

Kraft recalled one time when Lee spoke to about 300 military veterans with VME.

“I remember in the last meeting, he was very emotional when he said to the veterans in the audience, ‘You’re the real heroes in my world,'” she said. “It was very, very touching.”

A legion of fans

The tribute to Lee at the TCL Chinese Theatre was nothing short of honoring his legacy of bringing very diverse groups together. Directors, producers, military service members and veterans, artists, writers, comic book fans and celebrities packed the theatre courtyard on the day of the event.

The diversity of the crowd didn’t surprise Kraft, who said Lee made everyone feel like they were a part of his family.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

A cosplayer dressed as Spiderman holds a single red rose while listening to friends and fellow colleagues of Marvel Comic book creator Stan Lee pay tribute to him during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

On a small stage on the left-hand side of the courtyard, a military color guard posted the flags, while a bugler played “Taps” in the background. Army band members played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Those who worked closely with Lee approached the microphone one-by-one to give testimonials of how he impacted their careers and their lives, including actor, director and producer Kevin Smith. A wreath was placed near a stone plaque engraved with Lee’s signature. Folded flags encased in wooden boxes were presented to the sponsors of the event, which included Agents of Mayhem, Legion M and POW! Entertainment. A flag was later presented to Lee’s daughter on the Red Carpet.

Following the courtyard tribute, celebrities, military members and others walked the Red Carpet leading inside the theatre, where celebrity panelists and others also paid tribute to Lee.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Actor, producer, writer and director Kevin Smith addresses the crowd to pay tribute to his friend, Stan Lee, during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

The diversity of the crowd, the presenters and the celebrities at the event spoke to Lee’s impact and reach across not only generations, but ethnic and social lines, Autin said.

“During the ceremony, I stood next to a gentleman who was about my age,” he said. “I was in my military dress uniform, and he was dressed as Mr. Fantastic (of the Fantastic Four). To the outside observer, that had no context of the situation, the sight would have looked like it was straight from a Marvel movie script. However, to us, we were both there to honor a man in our own way. The man that had an impact on us individually, as well as our entire generation.”

Lee loved a crowd and would have loved the ceremony and all of the military representation, Kraft said. He would have snapped off a smart salute to all of the men and women in their dress blues, said a quick-witted phrase, and there would be lots of hugging and smiles.

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From left to right, actors Titus Welliver, Wesley Snipes, Laurence Fishburne and Bill Duke, along with a guest, pose for a picture on the Red Carpet during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

“I’m proud that he touched so many lives and inspired so many people to come together,” Kraft said. “People with very different passions, but yet they all share this passion for super heroes — people pushing themselves beyond what they think possible to do what’s right and to be good in this world.”

Finding solace

For Kraft, looking up into the Hollywood Hills, it’s hard to imagine Lee not being there anymore, but she finds solace in his legacy and what he taught her — the power and importance of storytelling to human nature.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Maj. Scotty Autin, deputy commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, reflects in the background of a wreath honoring the late Marvel Comic legend Stan Lee during “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible and Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

(Photo by Dena ODell)

“Every culture cherishes its legends, its myths, it’s identity through storytelling,” she said. “Storytelling done truly well really uplifts you … It helps carry you through tough times; it pushes you to do bigger and bolder things. His signature was ‘Excelsior,’ which in Latin means ‘upward to greater glory.’ It means keep pushing yourself, keep moving on, keep trying.”

“I think that’s the power of these superheroes that Stan Lee created,” Autin added. “They each speak to us directly for different reasons, they each show us that it’s OK to be flawed or struggling, but also push us to lean on our strengths and help others.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the US just moved the remains of fallen WWII soldiers

When American servicemen fall and are buried, it’s generally assumed that their resting place will be their last. Whether it’s a troop who was killed in World War I and buried in an American cemetery in France or a hero brought to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, the honored dead are not to be disturbed. However, some of these fallen heroes, whose identities were once unknown, are being disinterred.

One such ceremony took place in mid-July, 2018, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific near Honolulu, Hawaii. This cemetery, also known as the Punchbowl, is where thousands of servicemen who fell during operations in the Pacific Theater of World War II and the Korean War have been buried (some prominent civilians and non-KIAs are also buried there).

The reason for disturbing this rest is a damn good one, though.


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency believes it may be able to identify some of those fallen personnel and finally provide closure for their families. This has been done several times before, and a number of fallen personnel have been identified over the years as a result.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

U.S. service members with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) conduct a disinterment ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Devone Collins)

Perhaps the most high-profile disinterment for the purpose of identifying a fallen serviceman was of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War, who had been interred at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1984. In 1998, evidence pointing to the identity of that soldier resulted in the decision to disturb the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to conduct DNA testing.

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In 1998, the Department of Defense disinterred the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War to conduct DNA tests to determine his identity,

(DOD)

The tests eventually led to identifying the remains asthose of Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie, killed in action when his A-37 Dragonfly was shot down. Blassie’s remains were turned over to his family and he was buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. You can see the July 2018 disinterment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the video below.

Articles

This is how officials are reacting to White House ban on transgender troops

President Donald Trump is barring transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity.” He’s citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”


Trump’s announcement on the morning of July 26 on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.

The president tweeted that after consulting with “generals and military experts,” the government “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military.”

A Rand Corp. study estimated that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members on active duty and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban.

The Pentagon seems to have been unaware that President Donald Trump has decided to bar transgender people from the military.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, refused to answer questions about what Trump’s tweeted announcement means for the current policy, including whether transgender people already serving in the military will be kicked out.

“Call the White House,” he said.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is slamming President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military as “vile and hateful.”

In a statement, Pelosi pointed out Trump’s decision came on the same day in 1948 that President Harry S. Truman signed the executive order desegregating the military.

The California Democrat called Trump’s action “a cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who stepped forward to serve our country.”

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Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi

She said a study commissioned by the department found the cost of providing medically necessary transition-related care would be $2 million to $8 million a year, a small amount from what the Pentagon spends on military care.

She said the “disgusting ban” will weaken the military and the nation it defends. She said Trump’s conduct is not driven by “honor, decency, or national security, but by raw prejudice.”

The Pentagon, which appeared to be caught off-guard by Trump’s tweets barring transgender people from the military, is referring all questions about them to the White House.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a brief written statement that the Pentagon is working with the White House to “address” what he calls “the new guidance” from the president on transgender individuals serving in the military.

Davis said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials “in the near future.”

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee is calling President Donald Trump’s newly announced ban on transgender military service “an unwarranted and disgraceful attack.”

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Washington State Representative Adam Smith (left) and former United States Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter (right). DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz.

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington says preventing transgender people from joining the military and pushing out “those who have devoted their lives to this country would be ugly and discriminatory in the extreme.”

Smith also is challenging the estimates cited by conservative lawmakers that show the Pentagon end up spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies.

He says those figures “have no basis in fact” and likely were “cooked up by right-wing advocacy organizations whose real interest is not to support military readiness but to further discrimination.”

Ash Carter, who as secretary of defense last year ended the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, is criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to ban their service.

Carter issued a statement July 26 saying that the important thing for choosing who is allowed to serve is whether they are best qualified.

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Former United States Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter.

“To choose service members on other grounds than military qualification,” he said, “is social policy and has no place in our military.”

Carter added that transgender individuals already are serving capably and honorably in the military.

A national LGBTQ advocacy group says President Donald Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from military service is an “all-out assault” on these individuals.

Stephen Peters, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, tells The Associated Press that Trump’s decision was “alarming” because it comes after a decade of progress toward inclusion in the military. Peters says the decision is “morally reprehensible,” ”patently unpatriotic,” and dangerous because it “puts a target on the backs of thousands of service members.”

Trump announced on Twitter that he is barring transgender people from service in the military “in any capacity.” He cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Peters says the decision doesn’t appear to have factored in the effect on military morale and readiness.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
Tammy Duckworth (right) is sworn in as assistant secretary of veterans affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs by Judge John J. Farley on May 20, 2009. Photo from Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, is slamming President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Duckworth said in a statement July 26 that when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, she didn’t care “if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”

The Illinois senator said anyone willing to risk their lives for their country should be able to serve no matter gender or sexual orientation or race.

She said, “Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.”

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what would happen if North Korea tried to shoot down a US bomber

North Korea on Monday said it interpreted a tweet from President Donald Trump as a declaration of war and threatened to shoot down US B-1B Lancer strategic bombers even if they weren’t flying in its airspace — but such an attack is easier said than done.


The US frequently responds to North Korea’s provocative missile and nuclear tests by flying its B-1B Lancer — a long-range, high-altitude, supersonic bomber — near North Korea.

Fighter jets from South Korea and Japan often accompany the bomber, and sometimes they drop dummy bombs on a practice range near North Korea’s border.

The move infuriates North Korea, which lacks the air power to make a similar display. North Korea previously discussed firing missiles at Guam, where the US bases many of the bombers, and it has now discussed shooting one down in international airspace.

Related: This is what would happen if North Korea popped off an H-bomb in the Pacific

On Tuesday, South Korean media reported that North Korea had been reshuffling its defenses, perhaps preparing to make good on its latest threat.

But the age of the country’s air defenses complicates that task.

“North Korea’s air defenses are pretty vast but very dated,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst for Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence platform, told Business Insider.

Lamrani said North Korea had a few variants of older Soviet-made jets and some “knockoff” Soviet air defenses, such as the KN-06 surface-to-air missile battery that mimics Russia’s S-300 system.

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B-1B Lancers fly in formation. Photo by US Forces Korea

From the ground, North Korea’s defenses are “not really a threat to high-flying aircraft, especially if you’re flying over water,” Lamrani said.

But North Korea does have one advantage: surprise.

When aircraft enter or come close to protected airspace, intercepts are common. Very often, military planes will fly near a group of jets and tell them they are entering or have entered guarded airspace and that they should turn back or else.

Also read: Here is what a war with North Korea could look like

Though the US, South Korea, and Japan all have advanced jets that could easily shoot down an approaching North Korean jet before it got close enough to strike, the US and North Korea are observing a cease-fire and are not actively at war. Therefore, a North Korean jet could fly right up to a US bomber or fighter and take a close-range shot with a rudimentary weapon that would have a good chance of landing.

North Korea would have “the first-mover advantage,” Lamrani said, but if the North Korean aircraft shot down the US’s, “they would pay a heavy price.”

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Planes at the Wonsan Air Festival in Wonsan, North Korea, in September. | KCNA

For that reason, Lamrani said he found the scenario unlikely. The last time the US flew B-1s near North Korea, four advanced jet fighters accompanied it. North Korea’s air force is old and can’t train often because of fuel constraints, according to Lamrani. The US or its allies would quickly return the favor and destroy any offending North Korean planes.

Additionally, South Korean intelligence officials told NK News that North Korea couldn’t even reliably track the B-1B flights. To avoid surprising the North Koreans, the US even laid out its flight path, an official told NK News.

At this point, even North Korea must be aware it’s largely outclassed by the US and allied air forces, and that taking them on would be a “suicide mission,” Lamrani said.

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.

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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 reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks
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

Sweden shows its teeth with ship deployment to NATO exercise

NATO is about to kick off its largest military exercises since the Cold War, which will include more than 50,000 troops from 31 countries.

The military exercises, known as Trident Juncture 2018, will be held from Oct. 25 — Nov. 7, 2018, in Norway.

One of the countries participating in the exercises is non-NATO member Sweden, which has grown increasingly concerned about neighboring Russia, especially after Moscow apparently targeted it during a simulated nuclear strike in 2013.


In May 2018, Sweden handed out a pamphlet to its citizens titled “If Crisis or War Comes,” instructing them how to defend the country in case of war. It also purchased id=”listicle-2614541521″.3 billion worth of Patriot missile defense systems in November 2017, and even held a large joint military drill with the US two months before that.

Now, Sweden is bringing about 1,900 troops to Trident Juncture 2018, along with two stealthy Visby-class corvettes, the HMS Karlstad and HMS Nyköping.

The two corvettes will be integrated into Standing NATO Maritime Group One, which is basically NATO’s standing frigate force, Lt. Jimmie Adamsson, a public affairs officer for the Swedish Navy, told Business Insider.

Here’s what the corvettes can do.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

The Swedish Visby-class corvette HMS Nyköping (K34) transits the Baltic Sea during BALTOPS 2017.

(US Navy photo)

Sweden has five Visby-class corvettes, with the first being delivered in 2002 and the last two, the Karlstad and Nyköping, in 2015.

The corvettes are mainly designed for anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures, but the Karlstad is used more as an attack and anti-surface warfare vessel.

Source: naval-technology.com

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The HMS Nyköping docked at an unknown date.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

The Swedish corvette Nyköping (K34) docked in the Aura River during the Northern Coasts 2014 exercise public pre-sail event.

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

A Swedish sailor holds a buoy fender while HMS Karlstad comes alongside the pier in Trondheim (Norway) for a port call prior to NATO Exercise Trident Juncture 2018.

(NATO photo)

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

Royal Swedish Navy corvette HSwMS Karlstad arrives in Trondheim, Norway for a port visit prior to Trident Juncture 2018.

(NATO photo)

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

The flight deck of the HMS Visby.

(Swedish Armed Forces)

The corvettes also have one small helipad, which can carry one lightweight AgustaWestland A109M multi-role helicopter.

Source: n aval-technology.com

The reason why Saudi Arabia is buying so many Blackhawks

HMS Karlstad comes alongside in Trondheim prior participating in Exercise Trident Juncture 18.

(NATO photo)

Adamsson said that the Swedish Navy has thus far been happy with the Visby-class corvettes. They have yet to see combat, and were delivered later than expected, but the stealth technology has proven capable in all aspects.

The Visby-class is designed to minimize radar signals, optical and infrared signatures, magentic signatures, and more.

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

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