The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria

The U.S. sent a veiled warning Russia’s way on Sept. 18, saying that it will not hesitate to defend the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which Russia reportedly hit Saturday with airstrikes.


“@CJTFOIR will defend itself and #SDF against threats; continue to defeat #ISIS in Syria,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted out Monday.

Dillon’s tweet is clearly in reference to the Pentagon’s claim that Russian airstrikes targeted the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led SDF in Deir Ezzor east of the Euphrates River.

“Russian munitions impacted a location known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Several SDF fighters were wounded.”

No U.S. advisers embedded with SDF were hit, but a U.S. official told CNN that U.S. special operators were only a couple miles away from the location where the Russian airstrikes hit. The U.S. is still exploring the possibility that the strike was merely an error by the Russians, as opposed to a deliberate attack.

Russia shot back Sunday denying the Pentagon’s claim, stating instead that Russia only targets Islamic State fighters.

“Russian air forces carry out pinpoint strikes only on IS [Isis] targets that have been observed and confirmed through several channels,” Russian defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

Both the SDF and Syrian Army have been in a race to take back Deir Ezzor from ISIS. While SDF was working on retaking Raqqa, Russian airstrikes backed the Syrian Army in breaking ISIS’ three-year-long siege on Deir Ezzor. Following Syrian Army advancements on Deir Ezzor, SDF quickly moved 86 miles south-east to the city from Raqqa, announcing Saturday it was launching a new offensive from the north and east, just as the Syrian Army is making major strides from the west.

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91-year-old twins finally getting medals earned during World War II

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
The Barrett brothers before Richard’s medal ceremony. (Screen grab of Fox 4 News broadcast.)


Twin brothers who went to war together are receiving medals 70 years after they took off their combat boots.

Richard and Robert Barrett, 91-year-old veterans of World War II, never knew they supposed to be getting medals nor were they looking for these accolades. A family member happened to discover the oversight after requesting replacement copies of their Army records – the originals had been destroyed.

The crowd gave a standing ovation after Richard received the Silver Star and Bronze Star with additional military honors from Congressman Sam Graves, who had expedited the process for them.

The brothers, who were 18 when they shipped off to war, recalled their time in combat:

“We were just kids when we heard our first machine gun fire and [we said] ‘Oh that’s great, that’s fun, machine gun fire,'” said Richard, “But a little later the Germans started shooting those 88 artillery shells, and things changed after that.”

He was also quick to point out that he is 5 minutes older than his brother Robert, and joked, “Of course, I had to take care of him in combat; he was kind of a puny kid.”

The Barretts showed humility as they talked with Fox 4 News about being honored for their service:  “It’s nice, but we’re both kind of humble about it,” Richard said. “We don’t let it get to be a prestigious deal for us. Awards or no awards, I’d do it again.”

“We saw some rough times,” Robert added. “We slept on some cold ground, but there are other men that did so much more than we did too.”

Robert will receive his medals in a separate ceremony.

MIGHTY HISTORY

See how the Army evacuates wounded working dogs

Look, you all know what military working dogs are. Whether you’re here because they’re adorable, because they save lives, because they bite bad guys, or because they bite bad guys and save lives while being adorable, we all have reasons to love these good puppers. And the military protects these warriors, even evacuating them when necessary.


And so that brings us to the above video and photos below. Because, yes, these evacuations can take place on helicopters, and that requires a lot of training. Some of it is standard stuff. The dogs can ride on normal litters and in normal helicopters. But medics aren’t always ready for a canine patient, and the doggos have some special needs.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

One of the most important needs particular to the dogs is managing their anxiety. While some humans get uncomfortable on a ride in the whirly bird (the technical name for a helicopter), it’s even worse for dogs who don’t quite understand why they’re suddenly hundreds of feet in the sky while standing on a shaking metal plate.

So the dogs benefit a lot just from helicopter familiarization training. And it’s also a big part of why handlers almost always leave the battlefield with their dogs. Their rifle might be useful on the ground even after their dog is wounded, but handlers have a unique value during the medical evacuation, treatment, and rehabilitation. If a dog is already hurt and scared when it gets on a helicopter, you really want it to have a familiar face comforting it during the flight.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

But it’s not just about helping the dogs be more comfortable. It’s also about preparing the flight medics to take care of the dogs’ and handlers’ unique needs. Like in the video at the top. As the Air Force handlers are comforting and restraining the dogs, the helicopter crew is connecting handlers’ restraints because the handlers’ hands are needed for the dogs.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Military Working Dog Medical Care Training

(U.S. Army courtesy photo)

The personnel who take part in these missions, from the handlers to the pilots to the flight crews, all get trained on the differences before they take part in the training and, when possible, before any missions where they might need to evacuate a dog.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Yarborough)

Of course, ultimately, the dogs get care from medical and veterinarian teams. Don’t worry about this good dog. The photo comes from a routine root canal.

MIGHTY MOVIES

LA veterans bring ‘Henry IV’ with Tom Hanks to the stage

Those attending the current four-week run of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ production of “Henry IV” at the West Los Angeles VA Campus may immediately recognize Tom Hanks as Falstaff, but what they probably don’t realize is that a crew of veterans not only built the stage, but are also working behind the scenes to make the production a success.

“It’s exciting to partner with The Shakespeare Center to provide our veterans incredible opportunities like the chance to work alongside professional actors, and to view live entertainment right here on the West LA VA campus,” said Ann Brown, director of VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. “Partnerships like this one are vital to bringing the vision for this campus to life and to transform it into a vibrant, welcoming, veteran-centric community.”


“Henry IV” performances began June 5, 2018, and run through July 1, 2018, at the Japanese Garden located on the West Los Angeles VA Campus. The Shakespeare Center, in partnership with West LA VA, set aside 2,000 tickets for eligible veterans and active duty service members free of charge. To find out more on these tickets, visit http://www.ShakespeareCenter.org to receive information about reservations when they become available.

“We’re grateful to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the leaders of the West LA VA for this opportunity to bring our company to the Japanese Garden at the VA,” said Ben Donenberg, the founder and executive artistic director of The Shakespeare Center prior to construction. “We’re hiring and training 40 veterans to work on this production alongside consummate theater professionals to tell a riveting story about the forging of a Shakespearean hero. We’re proud to bring the vision of one of the American theatre’s most esteemed Broadway directors and the talents a world-class cast lead by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, our long-time supporters, to this very special venue.”

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, have been long-time supporters of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles through their 26 consecutive years of hosting and participating in Simply Shakespeare, a no holds barred impromptu reading of a Shakespeare comedy with celebrity casts and musicians that raises funds and awareness.

“The VA location speaks to our mission to present Shakespeare in urgent, vital, relevant and accessible ways that reflect the history, landscape and people of Los Angeles,” Donenberg said. “Our work with the VA and veterans inspires personal and community transformation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army and Navy deploy to support Tyndall rebuild

While Hurricane Michael created catastrophic devastation to most of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, the relief efforts were a reminder of the symbiotic relationship between military branches.

In the days following the storm, the Air Force came in droves to provide support, with the Navy and Army not far behind. Engineers from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, Gulfport, Mississippi, and the 46th Engineer Battalion, Fort Polk, Louisiana, hit the ground running.


They traveled in convoys bringing with them construction vehicles and equipment. Unable to bring everything they would need, they also arranged to have contracted vehicles meet them at Tyndall AFB.

In teams, totaling more than 130 personnel, they worked to clear trees and debris.

“We are going full force getting trees removed, so we can help people access their buildings,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Zachary Bunter, MNCB 133. “Our main focus is 30 feet around buildings and roads.”

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria

Navy Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Vance Winecke, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, from Gulfport Miss., cuts branches off of trees as they are cleared away from buildings.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

His team was successful in clearing the area around the base clinic.

“We are hoping to clear up enough that when the permanent party are returning it may be less of a shock,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Klein, 46th Engineer Battalion commander. “We want to restore hope that the base is going to come alive again.”

The Army has also taken on clearing out Fam Camp, which will be used as a staging area for rebuild efforts.

“We are all here to take care of each other,” said Klein. “We take care of our brothers and sisters on our right and left and that is what this mission is. I told (the Soldiers) to remember that they are helping their own and that is what is most important.”

For many, it is also about putting their training to work.

“For some of them, this is their first time seeing a disaster like this and doing first response,” said Bunter. “These type of missions, humanitarian and disaster recovery, are what we really shine at – being able to go out and help people whether it is here in the U.S. or overseas.”

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria

Sailors from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, from Gulfport Miss., work clearing trees away from buildings.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

Klein echoes his sentiment.

“We have stood up to do hurricane response three times in the past two years and this is the first time we have actually been called out to help,” he said. “The soldiers are getting to experience what the Army does, what the military does and what the Department of Defense does.”

At the end of the day, the Army and Navy have the same end goal – to return normalcy to the base and surrounding community.

“Contractors have thanked us for helping because the base is a huge source of revenue for the local community,” said Bunter. “Hopefully this base recovers and hopefully what we do is a big help to everything.”

Getting the mission up and running is also a priority.

“We have to get it right so they are able to go out continue what their mission is,” said Klein. “They run a very important mission out of this base, so it is important for the nation and DoD to get it up and running as quick as possible.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

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Trump nominates VA undersecretary to take over top job

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he will nominate Dr. David Shulkin, the undersecretary for health at the Veterans Affairs Department, to take over the top job at the agency.


Trump made the surprise announcement during a press conference in New York, saying Shulkin is “fantastic” and will do a “truly great job,” The Associated Press reported.

Also read: What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

If Shulkin is confirmed, he would be the first non-veteran to head the VA. With its nearly $180 billion budget, the VA is the second-largest federal agency behind the Defense Department.

Many veterans groups had pushed for Trump to keep current VA Secretary Robert McDonald on the job, but the president-elect has signaled he wants someone else to reform the agency in part by giving vets more access to private care — an issue he frequently raised during his campaign.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Photo by Robert Turtil | Department of Veterans Affairs

A selection for the post, expected last month, was delayed after the two frontrunners — Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, and Luis Quinonez, an Army veteran of Vietnam and founder of IQ Management Services — dropped out of consideration.

Shulkin was confirmed for his current position at the VA in 2015. In that role, he oversees the Veterans Health Administration and a health care system that covers nearly nine million veterans across more than 1,700 sites.

A physician, Shulkin has previously served as president at Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization, according to his VA biography. Shulkin also previously served as president and chief executive officer of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and completed his internship at Yale University School of Medicine, and residency and fellowship in general medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Medical Center.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Marines in Syria burned out two Howitzers fighting ISIS

A Marine artillery battalion assisting Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, with 24-hour support fired with an intensity not seen more than 40 years — and burned out two howitzers in the process.


“They fired more rounds in five months in Raqqa, Syria, than any other Marine artillery battalion, or any Marine or Army battalion, since the Vietnam war,” Army Sgt. Major. John Wayne Troxell, senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Marine Corps Times.

“In five months, they fired 35,000 artillery rounds on ISIS targets, killing ISIS fighters by the dozens,” Troxell said.

An artillery battalion, which consists of up to 18 guns, from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in northern Syria to support the SDF in March 2017. That unit, firing 155 mm M777 howitzers, was replaced in April by another contingent of Marines.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aijalon J. Langston and Sgt. Adrian Scott, Section Chiefs, with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division prepare the M77 Howitzer during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-18 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., January 23, 2018. The purpose of ITX is to create a challenging, realistic training environment that produces combat-ready forces capable of operating as an integrated MAGTF. (U.S. Marine Corps Photograph by Sgt. Joshua Elijah Chacon)

That unit topped the roughly 34,000 rounds fired in support of the invasion of Iraq, and it fired a little over half of the more than 60,000 rounds fired by the over 730 howitzers the Army and Marines used to support Operation Desert Storm, according to historical records seen by Marine Corps Times.

Troxell told reporters that howitzers fired so many consecutive rounds in support of operations against Raqqa the barrels of two of them burned out, making them unsafe to use.

The M-777 Howitzer is 7,500 pounds and highly maneuverable. Its sustained rate of fire is two rounds a minute, but it can fire four rounds a minute for up to two minutes, according to its manufacturer, BAE Systems.

A former Army artillery officer told Military Times that the number of rounds it takes to burn out a howitzer depends on the range to target and the level of charge, the latter of which can vary based on the weight of the shell.

“I’ve never heard of it ― normally your gun goes back to depot for full reset well before that happens,” the former Army artillery officer said. “That’s a sh*tload of rounds, though.”

“Because of all these rounds they were firing, we had to continue to recycle new artillery pieces in there because they were firing so much ammunition,” Troxell told Marine Corps Times.

The M-777’s maximum range is 18.6 miles. Video emerged in summer 2017 showing Marines firing 155 mm artillery shells with XM1156 Precision Guidance Kits, according to The Washington Post.

Also Read: These Marines fought so fiercely, they burned out two Howitzers

That kit turns the shell into a semi-precision-guided munition that, on average, will hit within 100 feet of the target when fired from the M-777’s maximum range. The XM1156 has only appeared in combat a few times.

The U.S. military is currently working on two systems to increase the accuracy of artillery — the handheld Joint Effects Targeting System, which an Army official said could turn a howitzer “into a giant sniper rifle,” and Precision Guidance Kit Munitions that could be used with 155 mm rounds like those fired on Raqqa.

The Marines supporting the SDF in Raqqa withdrew shortly after the city was recaptured. Syria declared victory over ISIS in the final weeks of the year. U.S. troops supporting the fight against ISIS in Iraq have also started to draw down in the wake of Baghdad’s declaration of victory over the terrorist group at the end of 2017.

While ISIS has lost nearly all of its territory in Iraq and Syria, some of its fighters have hung on in remote pockets along the Euphrates River and in the surrounding desert in Syria.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Maple Leafs’ tribute to the victims of the Toronto van incident

The Toronto Maple Leafs held a stunning tribute to the victims that died after a van rammed through several pedestrians in Toronto on April 23, 2018.

During the hockey match against the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs’ announcer referenced the incident in which a van hit and killed at least 10 people and injured 15.


“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, our first responders, and to all those affected,” the announcer said during the game. “All of Toronto is with you.”

After observing a brief moment of silence, the crowd cheered and sang along in unison with singer Martina Ortiz-Luis for the national anthem.

Around 1:30 p.m. local time, a van jumped the sidewalk and plowed through a busy intersection in downtown Toronto.

Police arrested a male suspect who is believed to have been previously known to Toronto officials. The suspect, identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was arrested after threatening to brandish a firearm. According to law enforcement officials, the incident is believed to have been deliberate.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The War in Afghanistan costs America $45 billion every year

Forty-five billion dollars. That’s how much the Pentagon says the Afghan war is costing American taxpayers, and, with no end in sight, they may have to keep footing that bill for years to come.


Lawmakers, skeptical about the prospects of victory, grilled the Trump administration Feb. 6 on the direction of the nation’s longest-running war, now in its 17th year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing comes after a wave of shocking militant attacks in Kabul that killed more than 200 people.

Randall Schriver, the Defense Department’s top Asia official, said the $45 billion total for the year includes $5 billion for Afghan forces and $13 billion for U.S. forces inside Afghanistan. Much of the rest is for logistical support. Some $780 million goes toward economic aid.

The costs now are still significantly lower than during the high point of the war in Afghanistan. From 2010 to 2012, when the U.S. had as many as 100,000 soldiers in the country, the price for American taxpayers surpassed $100 billion each year. There are currently around 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Both Republican and Democratic senators highlighted the scale of the continuing outlay from Washington. Six months prior, President Donald Trump unveiled his strategy for turning the tide in the war, setting no time limit on the U.S. military’s involvement in the war-battered country, saying it would be based on conditions on the ground.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
U.S. Soldiers conduct a patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers to check on conditions in a village in the Wardak province of Afghanistan Feb. 17, 2010. (DoD photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest, U.S. Army)

Tens of billions are “just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan,” said Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. “We’re in an impossible situation. I see no hope for it.”

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts suggested that those funds could be more effectively spent in saving American lives by investing in treatment for those suffering from opioid abuse. He cited research that two months of Afghan spending could fund an opioid center in every county in the United States.

Painting a bleak picture of the Afghan political and security situation, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon complained that every couple of years, U.S. administrations claim the corner is being turned in the Afghan war. He listed problems with corruption, government dysfunction and Afghan security forces, and said U.S. hopes of using military pressure to compel the Taliban to reach a political settlement were unrealistic.

Also Read: The Pentagon will restrict information about the 16-year war in Afghanistan

“Why do the Taliban want a political settlement? They now control more territory than they did since 2001,” Merkley said.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who visited Kabul and met with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan government members last week, conceded it wasn’t a “rosy situation.”

The attacks last month were a real shock to many people in the government,” Sullivan said. “I don’t want to come here and say, Henry Kissinger-like, that peace is at hand … but we’ve got a policy that we believe in. We want to stick to it.

He said the U.S. remains committed to brokering peace talks between the government and the Taliban. When Trump declared that the U.S. would no longer talk with the militant group, Sullivan said the president’s thrust was that “significant elements” of the Taliban are committed to violence and not prepared to negotiate. Sullivan said Ghani shared that view.

But Sullivan added that the insurgent group isn’t monolithic and the focus is on peeling off “those elements of the Taliban that we can reconcile with.”

Separately, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the decision to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan, saying it was to prevent “another 9/11” being hatched from there. He told the House Armed Services Committee that the U.S. regional strategy “puts the enemy on the path toward accepting reconciliation.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The first US-North Korea talks in years could happen by May

President Donald Trump gave a timeline for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and appeared to be optimistic for a positive outcome.

“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June 2018, and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump said on April 9, 2018, according to Reuters.


“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump continued. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”

On April 8, 2018, a US official confirmed that North Korea was willing to discuss the subject of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
North Korean leaderu00a0Kim Jong Un.
(KCNA)

The CIA has reportedly been in communication with representatives from North Korea, setting up backchannels, according to multiple news reports. Officials from the two countries were reportedly communicating with the intent to establish an appropriate venue for the talks and other details ahead of the summit.

Trump’s statement comes amid North Korean state-sponsored media’s acknowledgement of the bilateral talks.

The two Korean leaders are set to hold their own historic summit on April 27, 2018, the first in 11 years, between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim.

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The US just held back $255 million in aid from this key ally

The United States is withholding a $255 million military aid payment from Pakistan until it cracks down on what President Donald Trump has called “safe havens” for anti- Afghanistan militant groups, officials said.


State Department officials said on August 31 that the funds won’t be released from an escrow account until the United States sees that Pakistan is moving against the Afghan Taliban and allied groups like the Haqqani network that U.S. intelligence agencies say have resided for years withinPakistan’s borders.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Pakistan has denied that it harbors terrorists and has said the United States is using Islamabad as a “scapegoat” for its own failure to win the 16-year war in Afghanistan.

The new U.S. stance toward Pakistan prompted a protest resolution in the Pakistani parliament this week as well as anti- U.S. protests in the streets that Pakistani police had to disperse using tear gas.

In announcing the new strategy last week, Trump said “we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting… That will have to change.”

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
120229-A-8536E-817 U.S. Army soldiers prepare to conduct security checks near the Pakistan border at Combat Outpost Dand Patan in Afghanistan’s Paktya province on Feb. 29, 2012. The soldiers are paratroopers assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson, U.S. Army. (Released)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time that the administration was considering curtailing aid, severing Pakistan’s status as a major non- NATO ally, and even hitting Islamabad for the first time with sanctions, unless it tackles anti-Afghan militant groups within its borders.

“We’re going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area,” Tillerson said.

To Pakistan’s alarm, Trump also floated the possibility of inviting India – Pakistan’s archrival – to get more involved in Afghanistan unless Pakistan is more cooperative.

The administration’s notification to Congress of an indefinite “pause” in installments on a $1.1 billion military assistance package for Pakistan represented the administration’s first step to make good on those promised measures.

The United States has sought before to use aid to Pakistan as well as U.S. weapons sales as leverage to secure Islamabad’s cooperation onAfghanistan.

Pakistan maintains that it already is doing everything it can to eliminate terrorists in the country, and has been more successful at doing so than its next-door neighbor, Afghanistan, even with the help of thousands of NATO and U.S. troops.

Moreover, Pakistan has complained that the United States does not appreciate the sacrifices Islamabad has made by joining the U.S. antiterror campaign, which Islamabad said has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers.

With reporting by AP and New York Times

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia sent its most advanced fighter to Syria

Videos on social media appear to show Russia’s Su-57, a prototype of a new, fifth-generation fighter jet, operating in Syria — and it could be a direct threat to US stealth aircraft like the F-22.


Justin Bronk, a combat aircraft expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider that initial attempts to geolocate Su-57s shown in the video indicated the deployment may be authentic.

He also said any deployment could be a cynical move to boost Russia’s military sales while gaining valuable intelligence on the F-22.

“Russia has deployed pretty much everything in its arsenal in Syria, whether they’re prototypes or heavy strategic bombers in absurdly inefficient strike paths all around Western Europe and through the Mediterranean” to strike targets in Syria, Bronk said.

Indeed, Russia often uses Syria as a showroom for its military exports.

It has deployed advanced, complicated systems like submarine-launched cruise missiles, which are designed for high-end naval warfighting, against unsophisticated, basically defenseless targets in Syria.

On more regular bomb runs, Russia simply drops unguided munitions from Cold War-era fighter jets, which are frequently accused of killing civilians in places like hospitals.

Bronk assessed that Russia wanted to boost its position in the export market and that by deploying the Su-57, a prototype without its proper engines or stealth configuration, it could advertise the platform as “combat-proven.”

Also read: Russia’s new stealth planes will be nuclear strike aircraft

Though Bronk said the Su-57 was “certainly not combat-proven in the sense of showing it can take on Western fighters,” which is its intended purpose, the plane technically will have participated in combat.

But while the Su-57 poses no real air-to-air threat to Western fighters in its current, unrefined state, it has a diverse array of powerful radars Russia could use to perfect anti-stealth techniques and battle plans against the US’s F-22.

The Su-57 can’t yet fight, but it can spy

According to Bronk, one of the main challenges for the Su-57 is integrating the plane’s “really quite innovative radar arrangement.” He said it would be a great opportunity to test the configuration in Syria, where a large number of F-22 stealth jets operate.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
An F-22 Raptor. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson)

“The skies over Iraq and specifically Syria have really just been a treasure trove for them to see how we operate,” Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson said at an Air Force Association briefing hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in January 2018.

Related: Russia’s new Su-57 ‘stealth’ fighter hasn’t even been delivered yet — and it’s already a disappointment

“Our adversaries are watching us — they’re learning from us,” Jamieson said. With the apparent deployment of the Su-57, Russia may be teaching its best pilots in its newest plane how to stalk and fight F-22s, which would rely on stealth as their major advantage in combat with more maneuverable Russian jets.

But Bronk said deploying Su-57s in Syria would be a “double-edged sword” for Russia. That, Bronk said, is because not only would Russia be able to scope out the US’s stealth fighters, but their presence in Syria would “give the US a chance to see how the F-22s respond” to Russia’s new jet and “allow Western aircraft time to collect signals intelligence on what those radars are doings.”

Marketing ploy for a prestige plane?

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
(Photo by Alex Beltyukov)

Overall, if Russia does have Su-57s in Syria, it’s most likely a marketing ploy to increase exports as Russia’s economy flags under weak oil prices. Though Russia often hypes the Su-57, it has ordered only 12 of them for its own use and “desperately” needs an investment from India to bump up production, Bronk said.

“They’re ordering 12 of them,” Bronk said. “How can you sustain a genuine program when your order book is so tiny? In a state that has huge budget problems and a massive military bill,” the Su-57 functions as a prestige item, Bronk said.

So while the Syrian civil war rages on, and hundreds of civilians fall victim to airstrikes from the Russian-allied Syrian government, Moscow may be using the opportunity to show off shiny new hardware and gain a military edge against its US competitor.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about Larry Nassar’s veteran judge

Veterans are a very outspoken group. When there is an injustice in the world, it’s beautiful to see a veteran take the reins to mend the situation. That is exactly what happened when Judge Rosemarie Aquilina presided over the sentencing of a man who officials have called, “the most prolific child molester in history.”


Aquilina served twenty years in the Michigan Army National Guard, eventually retiring at the rank of Major. She became the first female officer in the state’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) and earned the nickname, “Barracuda Aquilina.” Her hardcore reputation persisted after she put away her combat boots for the last time and has served her well throughout her legal career. She said in a 2014 Legal News article,

I don’t take no for an answer. I don’t let anyone create a mold for me. I’m going to make my own mold. I stand up for people and say, ‘we’re going to do what’s right.’

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Very much the veteran mentality after leaving the service. (Image via Lansing State Journal)

She is no stranger to high-profile or controversial cases. In 2006, she presided over the case of Ricky Holland, which involved the murder of a 7-year old child with a hammer. In 2013, she ruled that the Detroit bankruptcy violated the Michigan Constitution and state law, and sent an advisory memorandum to President Obama. She made national headlines recently because of her “Barracuda” attitude while presiding over the Larry Nassar case.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria
Judge Aquilina’s face speaks for all of us when he tried to get out of hearing victim testimony. (Screengrab via YouTube)

During the case, she allowed every single one of the over 150 young women and girls to address the court and Nassar. He wrote a six-page letter to the judge stating that it was hard for him to listen to his accusers in court. Judge Aquilina simply shook her head and said, “you may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands.” He defended his behavior and claimed he was manipulated into a guilty plea in November.

For much of the sentencing, she remained calm and collective, listening intently to each and every accuser that stepped forward. After much back and forth between her and Nassar, with Judge Aquilina’s wit being much sharper, she sentenced him to 175 years in prison that will follow his 60 years for pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

After announcing the prison terms, she famously said,

I just signed your death warrant. As much as it was my honor and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it is my honor and privilege to sentence you. Because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.