This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles - We Are The Mighty
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This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
Raytheon


The U.S. Navy and numerous NATO partners are developing a new, high-tech ship defense weapon designed to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats, service officials explained.

The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships, Navy officials said.

The ESSM Block 2 is engineered with what’s called an active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can achieve improved flight or guidance to its target by both receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals, said Raytheon officials.

The ESSM uses radar technology to locate and then intercept a fast-approaching target while in flight; the use of what’s called an “illuminator” is a big part of this capability, Raytheon officials said.

The current ESSM missiles use what’s called a semi-active guidance system, meaning the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals bounced off the target by an illuminator; the ESSM Block 2’s “active” guidance includes illuminator technology built onto the missile itself such that it can both receive and send important electromagnetic signals, Navy and Raytheon officials explained.

Block 2 relieves the missile from the requirement of having to use a lot of illuminator guidance from the ship as a short range self-defense, senior Navy officials have said.

A shipboard illuminator is an RF signal that bounces off a target, Raytheon weapons developers have explained.  The antenna in the nose in the guidance section [of the missile] sees the reflected energy and then corrects to intercept that reflective energy, the Raytheon official added.

The emerging missile has an “active” front end, meaning it can send an electromagnetic signal forward to track a maneuvering target, at times without needing a ship-based illuminator for guidance.

“The ESSM Block 2 will employ both a semi-active and active guidance system.  Like ESSM Block 1, the Block 2 missile, in semi-active mode, will rely upon shipboard illuminators,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng, Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

Also, the missile is able to intercept threats that are close to the surface by sea-skimming or diving in onto a target from a higher altitude, Navy officials explained.  The so-called kinematic or guidance improvements of the Block 2 missile give it an improved ability to counter maneuvering threats, Navy and Raytheon officials said.

ESSM Block 2 is being jointly acquired by the U.S. and a number of allied countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. All these countries signed an ESSM Block 2 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, designed to solidify the developmental path for the missile system through it next phase. The weapon is slated to be fully operational on ships by 2020.

“The ESSM Block 2 will be fired out of more than 5 different launching systems across the NATO Seasparrow Consortium navies.  This includes both vertical and trainable launching systems,” Eng added.

U.S. Navy weapons developers are working closely with NATO allies to ensure the weapon is properly operational across the alliance of countries planning to deploy the weapon, Eng explained.

“The ESSM Block 2 is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. The ESSM Block 2 will be integrated with the various combat systems across the navies of the NATO Seasparrow Consortium nations,” Eng said.

The ESSM Block 2 weapon is part of what Navy officials describe as a layered defense system, referring to an integrated series of weapons, sensors and interceptors designed to detect and destroy a wide-range of incoming threats from varying distances.

For instance, may ships have Aegis Radar and SM-3 missiles for long-range ballistic missile defense. Moving to threats a litter closer, such as those inside the earth’s atmosphere such as anti-ship cruise missiles, enemy aircraft, drones and surface ships, the Navy has the SM-6, ESSM, Rolling Airframe Missile and SeaRAM for slightly closer threats.  When it comes to defending the ship from the closest-in threats, many ships have the Close-In-Weapons System, or CIWS, which fires a 20-mm rapid-fire Phalanx gun toward fast approaching surface and airborne threats.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What did it sound like to land at Iwo Jima?

In this age of smartphones and social media, we often get unprecedented access to events that we normally would have just read about in a paper long ago. Many of us have seen videos of combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and countless other places. We see the perspective of our enemies as they strap on Go-Pros and launch attacks. We see camera footage of Special Forces carrying out operations. We see airstrikes from drones and watch enemy bodies get turned to hamburger meat by attack helicopters.


For older conflicts, however, we usually see sanitized footage released by the government or newsreels that were edited with sound effects added. But have you ever wondered what it sounded like to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima?

Well, now you can hear it for yourself. Audio from the actual Iwo Jima landings can be heard here.

In it, we hear two Marine Corps Correspondents give a ‘play by play’ as the Marines head toward the beach. The first person identified as one Sgt. Mawson of the 4th Marine Division goes first.

As gunfire sounds around him, Mawson is on board a landing craft en route to the beach. He sees Marines being tossed into the air from mortar and artillery fire and states the beach ‘seems to be aflame.’ As the landing craft clears the warships, he heads straight to the beach. As he gets closer, he can see a tank already aflame. When they are only a couple of hundred yards out, he can see Marines moving up and down the beach through wrecked vehicles. He makes reference to the abandoned Japanese navy ships that were left to corrode on the beach, a sign of the decimation the Japanese Imperial Navy experienced in early battles like Midway.

The second Marine is not known by name. However, his words are even more grave than the first correspondent as his audio conveys his arrival on the black sands of Iwo Jima.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

He starts at the line of departure and about 2000 yards from shore. He states that the beach ‘looks to be practically on fire.’ In the fog of war, he reports that casualties in the first wave are light. We know now that the Japanese allowed the Marines on the island and opened up once most of the first waves were settled on the beach. It seems like this correspondent can see the Japanese attack, but the severity is not known to him yet. He tells us he sees dive bombers strafing enemy positions.

Then, upon fully seeing the absolute carnage on the beach, he has a very human moment. He talks about his wife and daughter back home. He wonders aloud if they are alright and then wishes that he would be able to go back home to them.

Many of us who have been overseas have had this moment when you have a firm vision of your own mortality and immediately think of your loved ones back home. Through his professional demeanor, it’s a human and heartbreaking moment.

As the craft gets closer, he observed machine gun fire coming down from Mt. Suribachi aimed at his craft, although for the moment, they are out of range.

The landing craft grounds on the beach, and the ramp goes down, and a machine gun goes off. You hear in the background, ‘what the hell was that?’ and wonder if some poor soul had a negligent discharge (although I am sure a few minutes later, no one cared).

As he wades ashore, he mentions that the water is so high that his pistol gets wet as he trudges ashore. He starts giving a matter of fact description of the beach and its make-up before coming back to what he is doing. The gunfire gets louder.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

dod.defense.gov

He yells ‘spread out!’ as he and his stick get closer to the beach. You can hear incoming fire around him as he very calmly explains his situation. He states so far that no one around him has been hit, and you can hear a dive bomber flying overhead.

But unfortunately, as we know now, Iwo was not to be an easy operation.

He sees his first casualty, a Marine who is being evacuated. He then sees other Marines being hit by enemy fire, and his voice starts to dampen from the gravity of the situation. About 100 feet from the beach, we hear him as he sees more casualties. He sees a Marine lying on his back with ‘his blood pouring into the water.’ He is very calm as there are fire and death all around him.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

Upon coming ashore, he is surprised to see that the Marines are still on the beach. He sees that the first waves are bogged down from the fire and sand. This was exactly the plan of the Japanese commander, and from the sound of the recording, it was initially very successful at bogging down the Marines and inflicting heavy losses.

The next thing he says tells of a courage that all Marines know of and admire. He talks of corpsman walking up and down the beach, seemingly unaffected by the incoming fire, checking up and down to make sure everyone who needs it, is being treated. Gotta love those Docs!

The recording ends with the correspondent headed toward the first wave as more Marines come in the waves behind him.

As we know now, what was supposed to be an easy landing and week-long battle turned into one of the bloodiest battles in World War II. Over 6,000 Marines died bravely to take Iwo Jima.

If anything, these recordings document a small part of their heroic journeys and horrible ordeals.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US uranium imports may threaten national security

The United States has begun investigating whether uranium imports threaten national security, launching a process that could lead to more tariffs being imposed on imports from Russia and Central Asian countries.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the probe on July 18, 2018, and said it would cover the entire uranium sector, including mining and enrichment, as well as both defense and industrial uses of the radioactive metal.


“Our production of uranium necessary for military and electric power has dropped from 49 percent of our consumption to 5 percent,” Ross said, suggesting that to be so overwhelmingly dependent on imports could jeopardize U.S. security.

He pledged a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation of the matter.

The United States imported id=”listicle-2588064431″.4 billion worth of enriched uranium in 2017, along with 0 million in uranium ores and id=”listicle-2588064431″.8 billion in uranium compounds and alloys, according to Commerce Department data.

In addition to being used in nuclear weapons, uranium fuels about 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation and is used to power nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.

Canada and Kazakhstan account for about half of the imported uranium used in U.S. power generation, according to the Energy Department.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium.

(U.S. Department of Energy)

Former Soviet republics provided more than one-third: Kazakhstan 24 percent, Russia 14 percent, and Uzbekistan 4 percent. About 10 percent came from four African countries.

Washington outraged major U.S. trading partners, including Canada, China, and the European Union, by citing national security concerns as justification to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Those tariffs, which hit Russia’s steel and aluminum industries hard, touched off a wave of countermeasures against U.S. agriculture and other goods, alarming many U.S. businesses and lawmakers.

The announcement that Washington is now targeting uranium comes after the Commerce Department said it was investigating hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cars and auto parts imported every year to determine whether that undermines U.S. national security.

The probe of uranium imports is in response to petitions for an investigation filed in January 2018 by two U.S. mining companies: Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels. They called for a quota that reserves 25 percent of U.S. demand for domestic production.

“Increasing levels of state-subsidized nuclear fuel are expected to be imported from Russia and China in the coming years, which would likely further displace U.S. uranium production,” the mining companies said in their petition.

“If Russia and its allies take control of this critical fuel, the threat to U.S. national and energy security would be incalculable,” they said.

According to the Energy Department, as uranium prices tumbled to just over per pound between 2009 and 2015, employment in the U.S. uranium sector fell more than 60 percent, to just over 600 workers.

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

Articles

The 4 female spies who shaped the American revolution

The bravery and heroism demonstrated by America’s forefathers during the American Revolution has been widely documented and celebrated. Patriot rebels not only fought against the British forces on the battlefield, but worked to bring them down undercover, taking missions to gather intelligence that would often require them to pose as the enemy, cause strife amongst their neighbors, and risk the lives of their family and friends.


When people think of these early American spies, many think of the work of Nathan Hale, but few people know that women were also working to destroy British occupiers from the inside out.

These are some of the most prominent female spies of the American revolution:

1. Agent 355 was a prominent member of the Culper Spy Ring

There were several Patriot spy rings that worked to overthrow British occupation during the Revolutionary War, but very few of these secret groups had women who actively took part in the espionage.  The Culper Spy Ring, however, is known mainly for a very unusual agent, a spy known then and now only as 355 — the group’s code number for the word “woman.” The mystery woman’s identity was kept secret to protect herself and likely her family, but her daring contributions to the American cause have been remembered in history. She took part in several counterintelligence missions, including spy operations that resulted in the arrest of major John Andrew — the head of England’s intelligence operations in New York — and the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s treason.

Some historians guess that Agent 355 was likely a shop keeper or a merchant who learned information about Red Coat military operations from chatty British customers, and that she would then divulge this information to George Washington. Regardless of her methods, Agent 355 made critical contributions to the Revolutionary cause.

2. Anna Smith Strong used her laundry as a coded Patriot communication system

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

Agent 355 wasn’t the only woman who operated under the Culper Spy Ring, however. Another woman, Anna Smith Strong, worked alongside 355 and her male compatriots in Long Island, and was known for her fierce patriotism and fearlessness. Strong’s sleuthing wasn’t quite as flashy as Agent 355’s, but the communication system she developed for the saboteurs was incredibly influential. Abraham Woodhull, a member of the ring, needed a way to find the location of Caleb Brewster‘s boat undetected, so he could then give him the top-secret information gathered for Gen. George Washington. It was too risky to search in multiple ports for the ship or ask for its whereabouts — if he drew attention to himself, he could be arrested and hanged for treason to the Crown.

To remedy this, Anna Strong developed a coded line of communication using her family’s wash line. Woodhull would hide his boat in six different locations in various patterns, and each one of these places was identified by a number. Smith would then hang clothes on the line in concordance with the code. The number of handkerchiefs hung out to dry signaled the number of the secret location, and she would add a black petticoat to signal that Brewster was close by. This system, as simple as it sounds, allowed the Culper Ring to operate undetected, and made huge gains for American freedom.

3. Ann Bates posed as a peddler to glean military information — for the British

The contributions of female spies to the American Revolution is incredibly impressive, but the Patriots weren’t the only ones with ladies working undercover. The British forces had women working for them as well, and Anna Bates was one of the best. Bates was a Loyalist schoolteacher in Philadelphia who began spying for the Red Coats in 1778, posing as a peddler and selling knives, needles, and other dry goods to the American military.

While she sold her wares to the rebel forces, she also took note of how many weapons and soldiers each camp held, and would pass this information along to loyalist sympathizers and British officers. Luckily, though Bates’s work was helpful to the British military, it wasn’t enough to derail the coming success of the American Revolution.

4. Lydia Darragh risked the lives of her sons for the American cause

While many spies were part of complex underground networks, some worked alone — like housewife Lydia Darragh. When British officers began using a large room on the second story of the Darragh’s home for military meetings, Darragh was quick to capitalize on the opportunity to gain information. Before the officers would file into the room, Darragh would hide inside an adjoining closet and press her ear to the wall, taking notes on the clueless officers’ battle plans.

She would then have her husband, William, translate her work into a coded shorthand on little pieces of fabric or paper. She would then fold the slip to fit over the top of a button mold, cover the mold with fabric, and then sew the message-filled buttons on to the shirt of her teenage son, John. Darragh would then send John on “visits” to his older brother Lt. Charles Darragh’s house, who would then take the buttons and present the stolen information to other rebel military leaders. It was an incredibly risky endeavor, but Darragh was willing to risk her own safety — and the safety of her family — for the American cause.

NOW: The 6 greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

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17 photos that show how high schoolers are turned into badass Marine infantrymen

Marine Corps infantrymen are certified badasses capable of destroying enemy positions and forces with high levels of violence.


But wait, Marines aren’t born out of forges in the ground like Uruk-hai. So how does the Marine Corps take soft, pliable high school graduates barely able to work a condom and turn them into infantrymen capable of thrusting bayonets through enemy fighters like it ain’t no thang?

Well, first:

1. All Marines go through Marine Corps recruit training, starting off at the famous yellow footprints.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
New recruits of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, receive a Uniform Code of Military Justice brief at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Angelica Annastas)

2. During recruit training, the recruits learn to accomplish basic military tasks and to cede their personal interests to the needs of the team.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marine Corps recruits with Company G, 2d Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, low crawl at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., Oct. 18, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert G. Gavaldon)

3. The 12 weeks of recruit training are, to say the least, uncomfortable. Lots of time crawling through sand and mud, ruck marching, and building muscle through repetitive stress.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine Corps recruit with Company G, 2d Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, low crawls through an obstacle during a training course at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., Oct. 18, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert G. Gavaldon)

4. But the future infantrymen get their first taste of combat training here, learning to stab with their bayonets and shoot with their rifles.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine Corps recruit with Company G, 2d Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, practices close combat techniques at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., Oct. 18, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert G. Gavaldon)

5. And of course, they get to work with the famously kind drill instructors.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Roger T. Moore, a drill instructor with Company D, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, corrects a recruit aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., June 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Erick J. ClarosVillalta)

6. At the end of all of this, they earn the right to call themselves Marines and march in the graduation ceremony right before…

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine with Company B, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, stands in formation before a graduation ceremony aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., June 17, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Erick J. ClarosVillalta)

7. …they’re sent to the Infantry Training Battalion for 59-days of learning, patrolling, and physical hardship.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), School of Infantry-East, observe their surroundings during a reconnaissance patrol as part of a field training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Manuel A. Serrano)

8. The Marines learn a large number of new basic infantry skills and a few advanced infantry skills.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine assigned to Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, moves to contact during a field training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton)

9. Some of the most important skills are the less flashy ones, like land navigation …

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), School of Infantry-East, finds the azimuth during a field training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Manuel A. Serrano)

10. …and long hikes.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Eric A. Harshman, a combat instructor assigned to Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, takes accountability of Marines and gear during a conditioning hike aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton)

11. But of course, there are plenty of awesome trips to the range.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine with Kilo Company, Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT), School of Infantry-East, fires an M240G Medium Machine gun during a live fire exercise on Camp Lejeune, N.C, Jan. 13, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Manuel A. Serrano)

12. Marines learn to fire everything from machine guns and rifles to grenades and rockets.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine with Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), School of Infantry-East, ejects a shell casing after firing an M203 grenade launcher during a live-fire range at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Manuel A. Serrano)

13. Even those big, beautiful mortars will make an appearance.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine assigned to Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, fires an 81mm Mortar during a live-fire exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton)

14. But the mother of all machine guns is probably the most beloved weapon in the arsenal: the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
Marines with Company A, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West (SOI-West), fire the M2A1 .50 caliber heavy machine gun as part of their basic infantry training Sept. 20, 2016, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (Offical Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Prado)

15. Besides navigation and weapons skills, the Marines have to learn skills like how to administer first aid in combat.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A U.S. Marine with Company F (Fox Co.), Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT), School of Infantry-East treats a simulated casualty while conducting Military Operations in Urban Terrain during their Basic Skills Readiness Exercise (BSRE) aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., Jan. 31, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha).

16. But the crux of a Marine infantryman’s job is combat as a member of a rifle team.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marines with Company F (Fox Co.), Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT), School of Infantry-East conduct Military Operations in Urban Terrain during their Basic Skills Readiness Exercise (BSRE) aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., Jan. 31, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha)

17. The culmination of all this training is the 24-hour Basic Skills Readiness Exercise where they’re assessed on everything they learned in training, ensuring that they are ready to perform as expeditionary warfighters around the world.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
U.S. Marines with Company F (Fox Co.), Marine Combat Training Battalion (MCT), School of Infantry-East conduct Military Operations in Urban Terrain during their Basic Skills Readiness Exercise (BSRE) aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., Jan. 31, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha)

Articles

Don’t panic (yet) about the post-Brexit British military

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
The ballistic missile submarine HMS ‘Vanguard’ alongside the ‘Type 45’ destroyer HMS ‘Dragon’ in 2010. Royal Navy photo


It’s not every day one of Europe’s largest economies votes to pull itself out of the European Union, the British prime minister announces his resignation and serious questions erupt regarding the future of the Western political order.

But fortunately for NATO and the British military, it’s not time to panic … yet. The military implications of Brexit will not set in overnight, and Britain has a backup plan.

However, there could be profound consequences for the alliance and the British military over the long term — some of them negative.

For one, NATO is responsible for Europe’s collective defense, not the European Union. The United Kingdom will remain one of Europe’s largest economies and will continue to wield outsized global influence due to its permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Nor does leaving preclude Britain from participating in the E.U.’s military missions, such as chasing pirates off the Horn of Africa.

The British economy has tanked, but Britain will survive. The actual process of withdrawing from the European Union is also exacerbated by the entangling of European and British case law, which will take years to sort out.

Parliament must ratify the referendum for it go into force — and what remains of the British-European relationship years from now is a mystery. But there’s no doubt that Brexit (if it happens) could have major consequences for British foreign and military policy.

A June briefing paper from the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defense and security research organization, described a a possible withdrawal from the European Union as “significant a shift in national strategy as the country’s decision in the late 1960s to withdraw from bases East of Suez.”

That’s a big, sweeping and once-in-a-generation shift.

It was evident at the time. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United Kingdom withdrew its military from East Asia and the Middle East to focus on countering the Soviet army in Europe. This period coincided with the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where British Army troops deployed beginning in 1969.

Britain joined the European Union’s predecessor organization in 1973. In short, Britain’s growing military ties with Europe were inexorably bound with growing economic and political ties.

Those ties shaped the British military.

The Royal Air Force scrapped its long-range Avro Vulcan strike bomber, which wasn’t needed to defend the homeland from a Soviet invasion. Britain put off building new aircraft carriers, but developed Trafalgar-class attack submarines to hunt Russian subs in the North Atlantic.

Britain’s Tornado fighter jets are also a product of the 1970s, built by a German-Italian-British consortium and designed specifically to fight Soviet forces in Europe.

The Falklands War served as a brief interlude in 1982. But beginning in the 1990s, Britain would shift to a more internationalist posture, fighting wars in Iraq and later Afghanistan, where Britain still keeps 450 troops in an advisory role.

Today, British warplanes and advisers are involved in the war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The U.K. military is increasingly involved in Africa.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
A Royal Air Force Typhoon in 2012. Peter Gronemann/Flickr photo

In short, the British military is less focused on Europe, and is more globalist, than it was during the Cold War.

So in an irony for Brexit’s most isolationist supporters, one possibility is that a post-E.U. Britain might increase its role in NATO to make up for its declining influence in European capitals. Especially now that European governments worry about Russia’s military build-up.

“The U.K. might find that the extent of its commitment to European defense would be one of its few bargaining chips as it entered a period of tough negotiations on the terms of its future economic engagement with its E.U. neighbors,” Malcom Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute wrote.

The outcomes of the 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw in July are likely to further constrain the U.K.’s room for maneuver, committing the U.K. to invest in deployments and capabilities whose main role will be to contribute to deterrence of Russia. New crises in Europe and its neighborhood (for example in the Balkans or Africa) could also increase immediate demands on U.K. capabilities, especially in cases where the U.S. makes it clear that it expects Europe to take the lead.
In these circumstances, as Europe’s most capable military power, the U.K. could not easily stand aside from the European consensus without significant risk to its reputation as a reliable NATO partner.
Nor can a resurgence of security concerns closer to home be ruled out.
MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out this crazy impressive Marine Corps Air Station made of LEGO bricks

I was made aware of the stunning video below by my son Lorenzo, who’s a big LEGO fan. The footage has just been posted by the “Beyond the Brick” Youtube channel and shows the crazy cool MCAS Marine Corps Air Station that Paul Thomas put on display at Bricks by the Bay 2019, an annual gathering of LEGO builders, enthusiasts and fans held in Santa Clara in mid-July.

The LEGO diorama was inspired by Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms but it’s (obviously) not a replica: it is a fictional representation of a U.S. Marine Corps base with aircraft and vehicles that you could find at an MCAS. Thomas created the 10 x 7.5 feet diorama in modules (since his garage could not accommodate it all) in about 6 months.


This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles

Another view of the Marine Corps Air Station by Paul Thomas.

(Screenshot from Beyond the Brick’s YT video)

Along with F-35B Lightning II jets, there are MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion and AH-1Z Viper helicopters as well as a rotating radar, a security checkpoint at the gate of the base, hangars used for inspection and maintenance activities, various vehicles and much more.

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

US Marines Air Base in LEGO | Bricks by the Bay 2019

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA Secretary to be next in President Trump’s crosshairs

Fresh off the heels of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s firing, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has reportedly begun to draw ire from President Donald Trump following a spate of scandals in his agency, according to multiple news reports.


Trump is considering replacing Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a former governor of Texas, according to people close to the White House. During a lunch with Perry on March 12, 2018, Trump talked about veterans health issues but reportedly stopped short of offering him the position.

Also read: VA watchdog is reviewing Shulkin’s 10-day trip to Europe where he attended Wimbledon, went on cruise

Shulkin, a holdover from the Obama administration and the only Cabinet nominee who was unanimously confirmed, is believed to be on Trump’s firing line after an inspector general report concluded he improperly accepted tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match during a government-funded trip with his wife.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
United States Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Meanwhile, Shulkin reportedly believes that Trump appointees within the department have been conspiring against him and embarked on a campaign to purge the VA of disloyal employees. Following reports of turmoil within the VA, Business Insider began receiving statements of alleged misconduct and mismanagement from current and former employees.

Though their accounts are largely unconfirmed, these employees claim they are “being forced out and made to suffer” and that Shulkin was “responsible for the mismanagement.”

Related: This is the grim novel John Kelly reads when he gets a promotion

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly met with Shulkin, and counseled him to curb the drama, sources told Axios. Following the meeting at the White House, Shulkin conducted an interview with The New York Times, in which he claimed the White House granted him approval to remove staffers who did not support him.

Kelly, who found out about The Times’s article after he was contacted by reporters, reportedly called Shulkin following the interview and believed the secretary exploited the White House meeting, Axios reported.

This ship defense weapon hits inbound enemy missiles
White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly.

Following an outbreak of negative press coverage, Shulkin hired additional lawyers and an outside public-relations firm to fend off reports of internal quibbles and to help with the fallout.

But Shulkin’s problems may have only begun to unravel, as the VA inspector general was reportedly looking into a new report on whether he improperly used his security detail to run personal errands. The complaint alleged that Shulkin asked a member of his security detail to accompany him to a Home Depot and carry furniture items to his house, The Associated Press reported on March 13, 2018.

More: The Trump Administration is at war with itself over the VA

Shulkin was reportedly acting erratically and being “extremely paranoid” amid the release of the report, and is believed to have ordered an armed guard to stand outside of his office.

“The honeymoon is ending with a crash that hurts veterans most of all,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said to The Associated Press. “VA always has bad news, but Shulkin’s ethical and leadership failures are still significant — despite any internal attacks.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

How 3 amateur code breakers solved the Zodiac Killer’s ‘340 Cipher’ 51 years later

An unidentified serial killer murdered five victims in Northern California between 1968 and 1969. The killer then taunted the police and terrorized the public through threatening handwritten letters he sent to the press from 1969 to 1974. In addition to these letters taking responsibility for the murders, the killer known to investigators only as “Zodiac” also delivered four cryptograms, or coded messages, to be deciphered. For 51 years, the “340 Cipher” and the identity of the Zodiac Killer have puzzled FBI agents, police detectives, investigative journalists, and cryptographers alike. On Friday, the FBI announced the 340 Cipher — aptly named for the number of symbols in the decrypted message — has been solved. 

“Over the past 51 years, CRRU [Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit] has reviewed numerous proposed solutions from the public — none of which had merit,” the FBI said in a statement. “The cipher was recently solved by a team of three private citizens.”

In the midst of a golden age of amateur sleuthing and crime solving of cold cases, a new wave of inquisitive private citizens have dedicated their time to the point of obsession to uncover leads to the most infamous unsolved mysteries. A popular route that has emerged in recent years is hosting true-crime podcasts in an effort to reveal the hidden truths previously overlooked or missed. The Murder Squad podcast, for example, solved a 1980 cold case thanks to a listener’s submission of their DNA to a genealogy website.

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The “340 Cipher” was considered the holy grail of unbroken codes, and the Zodiac Killer said his name was concealed in the grid of symbols in one of his four cryptograms. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

For the 340 Cipher, however, the tireless work began 14 years ago when Virginia-based web designer David Oranchak tried to break the code. He added two team members to his passion project as recently as this year: Australian applied mathematician Sam Blake and a Belgian code-breaking software engineer named Jarl Van Eycke. Using Van Eycke’s code-breaking software called AZdecrypt, the team tested 650,000 possible solutions through trial and error. On Thursday, Dec. 3, they caught their first break, recognizing the phrases “Hope you are trying to catch me” and “or the gas chamber.” 

“In Sam’s manipulation of the cipher he reads through all the symbols in a diagonal direction following this rule: first, start in the upper left corner, write out that symbol, move down one, then move over two, write out that symbol, continue until you get to an edge,” Oranchak says in his YouTube explanation video titled Let’s Crack Zodiac — Episode 5 — The 340 Is Solved! He continues, “Then jump around to the opposite edge and keep going.”

The team was stunned after making further modifications to their software that revealed the phrase “that wasn’t me on the TV show,” in reference to the Zodiac Killer’s letter sent two weeks after someone called into a Bay Area talk show in 1969. “I need help,” the caller said on the air. “I’m sick […] I don’t want to go to the gas chamber.” The timeline of events fit the solution that Oranchak and his team were pursuing.

On Dec. 5, when the team was satisfied with their results, they sent the deciphered 340 code to the FBI to confirm their findings. It read in capital letters, without punctuation, and it misspelled the word paradise: “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me that wasn’t me on the TV show which brings up a point about me I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradice so they are afraid of death I am not afraid because I know that my new life is life will be an easy one in paradice death.”

Although this is a small victory, the message didn’t divulge the true identity of Zodiac, which the killer declared was in one of the cryptograms. The Zodiac Killer remains on the loose, and the victim’s families are without closure. In order to bring awareness to cold cases and mysteries that may be decades old, bringing their stories into the spotlight once more may result in new leads in the future.

In 2007, actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of San Francisco cartoonist and amateur detective Robert Graysmith in the 2007 movie Zodiac did just that. Graysmith, who was on staff at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 when the Zodiac Killer first contacted the newspaper, wrote a New York Times bestseller on the topic. Perhaps this latest news may inspire other cryptographers to decode the remaining two cryptograms in a quest to uncover the true identity of Zodiac.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

DoD says those who try to overrun embassy will ‘run into a buzzsaw’

The Pentagon warned on Thursday morning that anyone who tries to breach the US Embassy in Baghdad would face a “buzzsaw.”

Swarms of violent protesters and apparent supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia targeted by recent US airstrikes stormed the gates of the embassy on Tuesday, forcing the Pentagon to react.

About 100 Marines from a special crisis-response unit created after the 2012 attacks on US diplomatic posts in Benghazi, Libya, were sent in to reinforce the embassy, and 750 paratroopers from the Army 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force deployed to the US Central Command area of operations.


At a press briefing on Thursday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said that “we are very confident in the integrity of that embassy.”

“It is highly unlikely to be physically overrun by anyone,” he said, adding that “anyone who attempts to overrun that will run into a buzzsaw.”

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley

(DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden)

The US on Sunday conducted airstrikes against five positions of the militia, Kataib Hezbollah, in retaliation for a rocket attack days earlier on an Iraqi base that killed a US contractor and wounded several American service members.

President Donald Trump has pinned the blame for both the rocket attack and the assault on the embassy on Iran.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” he tweeted on Tuesday, later adding: “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

The past year has been largely characterized by heightened tensions with Iran, which the US military has deployed roughly 15,000 troops to counter since May.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at the briefing on Thursday, according to Voice of America, that the US would “take preemptive action” against Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias in Iraq “to protect American forces, to protect American lives.”

He added: “The game has changed. We’re prepared to do what is necessary.”

Esper said that there were indications that groups opposed to the US presence in the area might be planning additional attacks.

“Do I think they may do something? Yes. And they will likely regret it,” he said.

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Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

The Department of State told Insider on Wednesday that the situation at the embassy “has improved” and that the Iraqi security forces had stepped in to provide additional security, clearing protesters away from the outpost.

The embassy, which cost an estimated 0 million, is in a 104-acre compound in the fortified Green Zone, making it the world’s largest embassy.

“Though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post security posture remains heightened,” the emailed statement read. The Pentagon has left the door open to sending more troops to the Middle East to counter threats to US personnel in the region.

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

Articles

Here’s how China’s heavily-armed islands could wreak havoc in the South China Sea

If you were wondering about why China didn’t bother to show up to that hearing at the Hague on their South China Sea island claims — when their boycott of the process only made the adverse ruling a guarantee — well, now you know why.


China, like Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” had no intention of accepting the consequences for their failure to take part.

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China’s military installations in the South China Sea create a huge area that could possibly be turned into an air identification and defense zone. | CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal and CBSNews.com, China has deployed weapons to at least seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite a promise from Chinese president Xi Jingpin.

The report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative noted that satellite photos showed various anti-aircraft weapons on the islands. These join the 10,000-foot airstrips on the islands, which have operated J-11 Flankers. Two such locations in the Spratly Islands are Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, located about 650 nautical miles from the northernmost point of Hainan Island.

China has landed airliners on those islands – and if you can land airliners, you can land other sorts of heavy aircraft, like tankers, airborne radars, and H-6 Badger bombers like the one used to assert China’s “nine-dash line.”

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Fiery Cross Reef air base. This air base and others could help bolster China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaonang. (Image taken from Google Earth)

In essence, China has turned these islands into unsinkable, albeit immobile, aircraft carriers. China’s J-15, for instance, has a combat radius of about 540 nautical miles, according to GlobalSecurity.org. By getting those unsinkable aircraft carriers, the J-15s (as well as J-11 and J-16 Flankers in the Chinese inventory) can now carry more weapons, and less fuel, and spend more time dogfighting their adversaries.

When combined with China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, these bases greatly increase the striking power of the Chinese in the region. The Liaoning, like its sister ship, the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov, has a very limited aircraft capacity (about 18 Su-33 Flankers or MiG-29K Fulcrums for the Russian carrier, and a similar number of J-15 Flankers for the Chinese ship).

That alone cannot stand up to a United States Navy aircraft carrier (carrying 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 10 F-35C Lightnings). The islands also provide alternate bases, to avoid those embarrassing splash landings that are common with the Kuznetsov.

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Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

However, these island bases, if each had a squadron of J-11, J-15 or J-16 Flankers, suddenly change the odds, especially if the Philippines refuse to host land-based fighters. Now, the Chinese could have a numerical advantage in the region against one carrier group, and inflict virtual attrition on the United States Navy.

The forward bases have caused concern from other countries, like the Philippines.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area, which is not good,” the Philippine defense secretary told CBSNews.com.

The Philippines have been trying to modernize their forces, including with the recent purchase of a dozen KA-50 jets from South Korea, and the acquisition of second-hand Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters from the U.S. Coast Guard.

They still are badly out-classed by Chinese forces in the region.

The U.S. Navy has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. In one of the recent operations, the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) “conducted routine operations” while transiting the region, which is claimed by China. Navy surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft in the region had had a series of close calls with Chinese fighters, including an Aug. 2014 intercept where a J-11 came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon.

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Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) man the rails while pulling into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, during a Naval Engagement Activity with the people of Vietnam, Oct. 2. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Allen Michael McNair)

Tensions with China increased when President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen after winning the Nov. 8 presidential election. Trump had taken a tough line on trade with China during the campaign.

Articles

9 awesome historical photos of Armed Forces Day celebrations

Armed Forces Day is a holiday where few can put their finger on its history, but most people agree the armed forces are pretty great and just roll with it. The day was originally called for by then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. Johnson was trying to finish consolidating the military branches into the newly-formed Department of Defense under the 1947 National Security Act and its 1949 amendment, but the public had seen the branches as separate entities until this point.


So, Johnson asked the branches to stop endorsing days for each force and instead embrace a day to celebrate all branches together. The Army, Navy, and Air Force all switched from their own day to Armed Forces Day. The Marine Corps joined Armed Forces Day but still celebrates its own day on November 11, the birthday of the first United States Marine Corps. Today, the Coast Guard is also celebrated during the festivities but maintains its own day, August 4.

1. 1950: The First Armed Forces Day

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Photo: defense.gov

Armed Forces Day was established in 1949 and the first celebration was set for May 20, 1950. This photo from the first celebration shows a specially rigged jeep being used for recruitment during a parade.

2. 1951: Presidential review

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Photo: defense.gov

Parades, along with air shows and displays of military equipment, would continue to be a part of celebrations. In 1951, this photo was taken of soldiers saluting President Harry Truman during a march down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.

3. 1956: Engineers build a castle with portcullis

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Photo: defense.gov

This exhibit was constructed at Bolling Field — now Bolling Air Force Base — in Washington, D.C. The red castle constructed by the Marines is a symbol of the combat engineers.

4. 1960: Old cavalry and new

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Photo: defense.gov

At Fort Devens, Massachusetts, the Army displays its most current cavalry with its oldest. Tanks have come a long way since then, but fighting on horseback has come around again.

5. 1961: Touring the “Flying Banana.”

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Photo: defense.gov

Civilians tour the H-21 cargo helicopter in this photo from 1961 Fort Devens, Massachesetts Armed Forces Day celebrations. Nicknamed “the flying banana” the H-21 began to be phased out the same year this photo was taken. The CH-47 replaced it and is still the Army’s main lift helicopter.

6. 1968: “Frog men” display their skills for Armed Forces Day TV episode

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Photo: defense.gov

In 1968, “The Mike Douglas Show” did a series of episodes celebrating the military branches. In this photo, an underwater demolition shows how they conduct high-speed pickups to retrieve swimmers from the water. UDTs were the predecessors to the modern Navy SEALs.

7. 1973: American Armed Forces Day in England

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Photo: defense.gov

America’s Armed Forces Day is celebrated by the armed forces regardless of their geography. In this photo, a child plays in the cockpit of an F-4 fighter during an open house at Bentwaters Air Base, England.

8. 1976: Air assault over the Washington Monument

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Photo: defense.gov

A medical evacuation team prepares to rappel during a demonstration over the Washington Monument in D.C.

9. 2000: Blue Angels demonstration

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Photo: defense.gov

Air shows have been a part of Armed Forces Day since the first celebrations in 1950. They’re still a great crowd pleaser and the Navy’s elite Blue Angels always put on a great show. This photo is from an open house at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

NOW: The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

AND: The most important guy in military aviation history you’ve never heard of

MIGHTY CULTURE

It’s time to get together for Wreaths Across America

The United States has a number of holidays meant to honor those members of the armed forces who are serving, who have served, and who have given their last true measure of devotion on the battlefield. There’s an organization now that seeks to make sure we remember everyone in uniform through its mission to “Remember, Honor, and Teach.” And it all starts one day in December, decorating for one of America’s biggest holidays.


Men and women in the U.S. military are putting their lives on the line for Americans back home every day of the year, says Wreaths Across America. The group aims to remember and honor those warfighters while teaching future generations to do the same. Their mission restarts every year on the third Saturday in December (this year, it’s December 15), when volunteers around the United States place a wreath on a veteran’s grave, say their name aloud, and thank them for their courage and sacrifice.

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Wreaths Across America began with Morrill Worcester of Harrington, Maine, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company. As a young boy, he was sent on a trip to Washington, D.C. where he saw Arlington National Cemetery for the first time. The experience never left him and, after he became a successful entrepreneur, he decide to give back to the men and women who died so that he could make his fortune.

In 1992, the company saw a surplus in its product and he decided to use them in the older areas of Arlington National Cemetery, the ones that were receiving fewer and fewer visitors every year. When other companies got wind of the plan, they joined in. The local trucking company provided transportation to DC. Members of the local VFW and American Legion posts decorated the wreaths with red bows, all tied by hand.

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Volunteers from Maine and in the nation’s capital helped lay the wreaths on the graves in Arlington. It even included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For 13 years, Worcester quietly and solemnly did the honored dead this service without advertising or announcement.

In 2005, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, someone noticed the wreaths on the grave markers in Arlington and posted a photo of its snow-covered majesty on the internet. It quickly went viral and those who couldn’t make the trip to DC wanted to do versions of the same in their own hometowns.

Since the company couldn’t possibly make enough wreaths to give to every grave in every state, they instead send seven wreaths to each state, one for every branch of the military and one for prisoners of war and the missing in action.

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The Clarion, Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol has partnered with Wreaths Across America.

Since Wreaths Across America began in 2006, 150 sites across the United States hold simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies. By 2008, that number doubled and wreath ceremonies were held in Puerto Rico and 24 cemeteries overseas. In 2014, the number grew to 700,000 memorial wreaths at more than 1,000 sites, including Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, and the September 11th sites.

Their volunteers managed to cover every grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Representatives of each branch of military service salute behind wreaths in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Ivy Green Cemetery in Bremerton during the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis)

Now the ceremonies are held on the third Saturday in December, and the movement of the wreaths bound for Arlington from Harrington, Maine is the world’s largest veteran’s parade. The annual wreath laying goals are surpassed now by education programs and partnership programs with local-level veterans organizations.

To learn more about Wreaths Across America, donate, or volunteer to lay wreaths, visit their website.

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