Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block - We Are The Mighty
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Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even though President Donald Trump’s defense budget is committed to keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, as many as three squadrons could still be shut down.


According to a report in DefenseNews.com, the Air Force says that unless funding to produce more new wings for the A-10 is provided, three of the nine squadrons currently in service will have to be shut down due to fatigue issues in their wings. Re-winged A-10s have a projected service life into the 2030s.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
A U.S. Air Force A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II from the 355th Fighter Squadron is surrounded by a cloud of gun smoke as it fires a 30mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on May 29, 2007. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

“We’re working on a long-term beddown plan for how we can replace older airplanes as the F-35 comes on, and we’ll work through to figure out how we’re going to address those A-10s that will run out of service life on their wings,” Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command told DefenseNews.com.

Presently, only 173 wing kits have been ordered by the Air Force, with an option for 69 more. The Air Force currently had 283 A-10s in service, but some may need to be retired when the wings end their service lives.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride

The A-10 has a number of supporters in Congress, notably Rep. Martha McSally, who piloted that plane during her career in the Air Force. In the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2017, Congress mandated that at least 171 A-10s be kept in service to maintain a close-air-support capability.

According to MilitaryFactory.com, the A-10 was originally designed to bust enemy tanks, and was given the 30mm GAU-8 gatling gun with 1,174 rounds. It can also carry up to eight tons of bombs, rockets, missiles and external fuel tanks.

Fully 356 Thunderbolts were upgraded to the A-10C version, which has been equipped with modern precision-guided bombs like the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM. A total of 713 A-10s were built between 1975 and 1984.

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This is India’s version of the A-10 Warthog

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union designed the MiG-27 Flogger as a dedicated ground-attack plane based on the MiG-23 Flogger, an air-superiority fighter turned multi-role fighter. It was well-built for that mission, able to haul just over 8,800 pounds of ordinance, according to globalaircraft.org.


It also could bring two varieties of BRRRRRT! Airforce-Technology.com reports that the MiG-27 had a 30mm Gatling gun, the GSh-6-30, with 260 rounds that could kill tanks. In addition to the 30mm gun, this Flogger also packed twin-barrel 23mm gun with 200 rounds that the MiG-23 had. Double the BRRRRRT!, double the fun?

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
A close look at the nose of a MiG-27, showing its sensors. (Wikimedia Commons)

The F-15 Eagle made a similar transition in the late 1980s, going from an air-superiority plane to a deadly ground-attack bird (albeit still with powerful air-to-air capabilities). For the MiG-27, though, its only mission was to be ground attack. The Soviets removed the radars but did armor up the cockpit. The MiG-27 stayed in production until 1986 in the Soviet Union, but India then got a license to build the plane.

In Indian service, the MiG-27 is known as the Bahadur. India acquired a production license for the MiG-27, starting with 80 kits from Russia. Then, India began to build MiG-27s from scratch – eventually acquiring a total of 165 in that manner. India also imported MiG-27. According to FlightGlobal.com, India has 84 MiG-27s in service.

But these are not the Cold War MiG-27s.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
Indian Air Force MiG-27. (Wikimedia Commons)

GlobalSecurity.org noted that India carried out one upgrade starting in 2002, which included new navigation systems, improved target tracking systems, and a cockpit that made things easier for the pilot. That was finished by 2009. But a more advanced MiG-27 has been designed by India

MilitaryFactory.com reports that this advanced version of the MiG-27, known as the MiG-27H, would take it beyond a ground attack machine. The MiG-27H not only lightened the plane, but added multi-function displays to the cockpit, and a multi-mode radar that would enable the Flogger to fight aircraft and carry out anti-shipping missions.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
MiG-27 graphic showing some of its weapons configurations. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to a 2016 report from the India Times, India’s MiG-27s are to be retired no later than 2018, but other reports point to the Flogger sticking around until as late as 2020.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 Things you can do outside while social distancing

One of our biggest saving graces during the pandemic is the opportunity to catch some fresh air! Whether you’re cooped up at home with kids or are working overtime to fill a need for essential employees (or both!), catching that fresh vitamin D is good for the body.

In fact, going outside can boost your mood and jumpstart your immune system; it can reduce pain and all the scents can do wonders for your endorphins. But don’t take these scientific reasons into account all on their own, experience the outdoors for yourself and keep everyone busy during the pandemic.


Here are 6 things you can do while social distancing:

Go on a walk

Simple, easy, and done with minimal planning. Steer clear of any neighbors, of course (especially if you live on post or in tight quarters), but now is the perfect time to get in your steps! Explore your neighborhood and find areas you’ve never visited or just breath in that fresh oxygen while taking a few laps around the block. Repeat as needed.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Have a picnic

You’re eating at home anyway, so why not take the party outside? Lay down a blanket to keep the bugs at bay, then enjoy some fun and breezy meals out in the yard. Repeat as weather allows.

Go on a scavenger hunt

These lists are swarming the Internet, so luckily you won’t have to work hard to find your objectives. Whether you’re taking kids or are looking for a more sophisticated list of items, a scavenger hunt is a great way to get creative outdoors.

Don’t forget the neighborhood bear hunt either.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Bust out the old fashioned games

Tag, Frisbee, wiffle ball and more will turn into family favorites during the pandemic. Your family is already in close quarters, so don’t fret about a few passings of the ball.

However, don’t be afraid to be firm with neighbors and let them know they can’t join. Hellos from a distance remain kosher, but passing objects between households is a strict no-no.

Go for a drive

Weather not going your way? For the days you need a change of scenery, head to the car. This is a great time for an automated car wash (don’t forget to Lysol any buttons that need to be pushed), or a cruise to somewhere new.

Roll down the windows and feel the breeze while everyone jams to favorite tunes.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Sit and talk

Weeks ago this might have sounded boring, but today, it’s a nice change of pace! Sit with your morning coffee, FaceTime a friend, let the kids play and simply enjoy being outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Being outdoors can do wonders for your mood and endorphins. Take advantage of this easy but proven mood booster!

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the new version of the pup tent

There are obvious signs that technology had advanced in warfare. We see it in just the evolution of the M270 MLRS. But it is also obvious in the development of something far more humble: The pup tent.


The versions in use since the Civil War were pretty much a sheet of fabric called a shelter half, along with a folding pole and stakes. Two soldiers would each take their half, tie `em together, and set the tent up for two. Each shelter half and associated supplies came in at about five and a half pounds, according to olive-drab.com.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
One sense of the dimensions of the Litefighter 1, which comes in at 4.2 pounds. (Graphic from Litefighter)

Now, why might that matter today? Well, yeah, you have Forward Operating Bases, Combat Outposts, and all that, but sometimes, when the grunts are on a patrol, they need to haul that shelter with them. In today’s day and age, when they can carry up to 200 pounds, they need to find some ways to lighten the load.

Today, though, that shelter is very different. At the Association of the United States Army expo in Washington, D.C., one company outlined a new version of the pup tent. Litefighter has developed a complete shelter known as the Litefighter 1. This is a small tent that troops can carry that comes in at under four and a quarter pounds, according to the company’s website.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

This tent can be used as a free-standing tent with or without a rain fly, a lightweight hasty hooch, a bug-net over a standard cot (with or without the rain fly), and as a free-standing scout hide-site with camouflage netting. It can be easily assembled or disassembled, and fits easily into rucksacks.

While a new pup tent doesn’t generate the excitement of watching a MLRS fire off its rockets, or troops sending lead downrange, it counts. Especially when the troop in the fight has been able to get a good night’s sleep before the engagement.

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 more surprising things that go against the laws of war

Lines get blurred on the battlefield. The only thing that clearly gives one side the moral high ground is their ability to follow the rules of law. Sure, it may make troops fight with one hand tied behind their back, but it is a line that should never be crossed.


The laws of war are clearly defined by the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations, and the International Criminal Court. Many laws are self-explanatory. In general, they state that wars are only to be fought among the fighters and all collateral damage should be limited — that wars be fought to end the enemy, not cause suffering.

Related video:

While the overarching themes may be self-evident, there are many laws in place to prevent a sort of domino effect from happening — one that would eventually cause unnecessary harm or death. We’ve discussed a few of the more obscure laws in a previous article, but there are still plenty to discuss.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Even if the phrase is spoken in jest by someone with authority over another, it’s a war crime.

(Photo by Sgt. Ken Scar)

Saying the phrase, “no quarter given” (Fourth Hague Convention. Article 23 (d))

Because anything said by a commander or a leader is to be taken as a direct order, even just uttering the phrase, “no quarter given” is against the laws of war — regardless of the circumstance.

Quarter, or the act of taking prisoners of war, should always be a top priority if any combatant has surrendered or has lost the ability to fight. This is such a big deal that it is clearly given its own rule.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

It’s one or the other. Not both.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Holden)

Using CS gas on combatants (Chemical Weapons Convention Art I (5))

The use of riot control gas is a gray area. It is deployed in moments of civil unrest, but it cannot be used in addition to deadly force.

Meaning, against a large crowd of aggressive (but not violent) protesters, non-lethal CS gas may be used to accomplish dispersion. The reason such gas is banned from war, however, is because it removes combatants from a fight and causes unnecessary suffering. If the goal is to detain the combatant, it’s fine. The moment someone opens fire on an incapacitated individual, however, it’s a war crime.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Besides, light blue isn’t really a choice camouflage pattern in most environments.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Maximiliano Rosas)

Using light blue headgear in combat (Geneva Convention Prot. I Art. 85)

There aren’t too many wrong answers in designing a combat uniform. As long as it follows the general color palette of a given area, it’s usually fair game and used by nearly everyone. The only color that is strictly off-limits is the shade of blue used by UN peacekeepers.

The use of light blue on headgear may misrepresent a combatant’s intentions. The light blue headgear is officially recognized because it can be seen from a distance. UN Peacekeepers have their own guidelines, which include never initiating combat unless absolutely necessary. And attacking a UN peacekeeper opens up an entirely different can of worms.

Those who are not with the UN are forbidden from using this color.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Their focus is healing the injured and wounded. Anything that prevents them from saving any life should be avoided.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Steve Smith)

Even slightly interfering with Red Cross workers (First Geneva Convention Art. 9)

Medical professionals with the International Red Cross are heavily protected by the laws of war. It’s fairly well known that harming them is a war crime and forcibly stopping them from giving aid is also a war crime. What you might not know is that “interfering with an aid worker” is loosely defined — and for good reason.

In the past, combatants would stop aid workers from leaving their area so that they only give aid to their troops. But Red Cross workers aren’t supposed to take sides. They need to be able to give equal and unbiased treatment to all wounded on the battlefield.

Anything more than a routine security check is off-limits.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Military necessity may require troops to engage the enemy on a farm and accidents, unfortunately, happen. But willfully attacking a civilian’s livestock is not necessary.

(Photo by Pfc. David Devich)

Anything involving fresh waterways or farms (Geneva Convention Prot. I Art. 51-54)

Intentionally damaging a drinking well is punishable by The Hague. Unintentionally doing so is treated just as harshly.

There is the caveat of “military necessity,” which would protect a combatant that is forced to fight on a farm or a river that is used as drinking water. Ideally, all fighting would take place where, without a shadow of a doubt, no food or water will be poisoned or damaged by conflict. Sometimes, however, you’re not given a choice.

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This pilot of a stricken F-16 was saved from ISIS by a quick-thinking tanker crew

An F-16 pilot flying over ISIS-held territory in 2015 suffered a malfunction of his fuel system and would have been forced to bail out if it weren’t for a KC-135 Stratotanker crew that offered to escort the jet home, the Air Force said in a press release.


The KC-135 was tasked with refueling a flight of A-10s supporting ground pounders when an F-16 came for gas and declared an emergency.

“We were in the area of responsibility and were already mated with some A-10 Thunderbolt IIs that were tasked with observing and providing close-air-support for our allies on the ground,” said Capt. Nathanial Beer, 384th Air Refueling Squadron pilot. “The lead F-16 came up first and then had a pressure disconnect after about 500 pounds of fuel. We were expecting to offload about 2,500 pounds.”

After the pilot completed his checklist, it became apparent that 80 percent of his fuel supply was trapped in the tanks and couldn’t get to the engine. The pilots would have to bail out over ISIS territory or try to make it back to allied airspace.

500 pounds of fuel is very little in an F-16, so the KC-135 flew home with the fighter and topped off its gas every 15 minutes.

“The first thought I had from reading the note from the deployed location was extreme pride for the crew in how they handled the emergency,” said Lt. Col. Eric Hallberg, 384th Air Refueling Squadron commander.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
The crew of the KC-135 poses for a photo in front of their aircraft. Photo: US Air Force courtesy photo

“Knowing the risks to their own safety, they put the life of the F-16 pilot first and made what could’ve been an international tragedy, a feel-good news story. I’m sure they think it was not a big deal, however, that’s because they never want the glory or fame.”

The KC-135 crew returned to their planned operation once the F-16 was safely home and were able to complete all of their scheduled missions despite the detour.

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Sheridan versus Stryker: Which comes out on top in a light tank face off?

The M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System has made its mark. You can see why in this video, where a slight hiccup with the main gun is overcome, and the gun goes off. However, does it truly match up with the M551 Sheridan light tank?


Well, technically, the Sheridan was an Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle that was first introduced in 1966. Its main gun was the M81, a 152mm gun that could also fire the MGM-51 Shillelagh missile.

The Shillelagh had a range of 3,000 meters. It didn’t work that well, and is only combat experience was being used against bunkers during Operation Desert Storm. A Sheridan could carry nine Shillelaghs and twenty “normal” rounds for the M81 gun.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
The M551 Sheridan tank firing a Shillelagh missile. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Sheridan did see a lot of combat in Vietnam, where it was both loved and hated. Its gun was very good at providing fire support, but it had a much slower rate of fire than the M48 Patton. Still, the Army bought over 1,600 Sheridans. The Sheridan was also the only armored vehicle that could be dropped in with the 82nd Airborne.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
Armor Soldiers assigned to 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire their Main Gun Systems (MGS) Stryker’s 105 mm main gun during a live fire range 28 March 2011, at Yakima Training Center, Wash. (US Army photo)

Now, let’s look at the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System. Like the rest of the Stryker family, it is an eight-by-eight wheeled vehicle. It fired the same M68 gun used on the M60 Patton and early versions of the M1 Abrams tank. It holds 18 rounds.

The gun is also mounted on an external weapons station with an autoloader. The M1128 can’t be air-dropped, though, but it can be flown in on a C-130.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
A M1128 Stryker Mobile gun System awaits transportation to war-fighters in Afghanistan, in an airfield staging area in southwest Asia in 2008. (US Army photo)

Both vehicles have a .50-caliber machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun to handle infantry threats. Neither are capable of resisting anything more powerful than a 14.5mm machine gun, although the Stryker can take additional armor (at the cost of mobility).

Both gave the Army’s lighter forces some extra firepower. But the Sheridan had some clear advantages over the Stryker, while the Stryker offers some improvements over the Sheridan.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
The XM8 Armored Gun System. (US Army photo)

Really, though, the best of both worlds was probably the XM8 Armored Gun System. This was a light tank that had a XM35 105mm gun, and could hold 30 rounds for its main gun (plus the .50-caliber and 7.62mm machine guns). The system was also able to take add-on armor to protect it against a number of battlefield threats. Sadly, it was cancelled in 1997.

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The good ol’ days when you could rock a beard in the US military

Unless you are a member of special ops, most U.S. military members these days are not allowed to rock a beard. Which is a damn shame, because it wasn’t always this way.


After shaving every day of their time in, some veterans make growing a beard their first order of business once they get out of the military. But there were times — we’ll refer to them as “the good ol’ days” — when you could grow a beard. In fact, it was often encouraged.

For about the first 66 years of its existence, the Navy didn’t really have much of a standardized grooming standard. Many sailors during the Revolution opted for clean shaves, until sideburns became a thing around 1812. The Navy finally implemented grooming standards in 1841 that mandated “hair and beards had to be cut short,” according to the US Naval Institute.

In the early years of the Army, beards were expressly forbidden and soldiers were required to shave at least three days per week, according to this article at Defense Media Network. This of course dramatically changed during the Civil War, when everyone from Pvt. Joe Schmoe to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was seen rocking face armor.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
I’ll try and shave when I’m not too busy beating the hell out of the Confederacy.

The Navy slightly modified its rules in 1852 to ban officers from wearing mustaches and imperials — a larger ‘stache featuring whiskers styled upward over a man’s cheeks — but it was later relaxed to allow “neatly trimmed” beards. Much like the Army during the Civil War, there was some pretty interesting interpretations of “neatly trimmed.”

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
I trimmed this very neatly, I swear.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
My beard is certainly neat, and I trimmed it two years ago.

Many sailors of the late 19th and 20th century followed the prevailing fashions of the day, dropping their beards for the mustache and goatee, according to Navy History. Some continued to wear beards, which was generally allowed as long as they were trimmed.

There were some notable exceptions: Sailors operating in colder climates could have full face jackets, and those on submarines didn’t have to shave more as a necessity, since fresh water was usually scarce.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
Sailors on the USS Pensacola give their best Popeye impressions, 1944. (Photo Credit: USNI)

For soldiers on the ground, the death of the beard came along with the need for gas masks. The first World War saw the widespread use of chemical weapons, and gas masks needed to maintain a proper seal against the skin to be effective. Having whiskers didn’t exactly inspire confidence when chlorine gas was involved.

“They were eliminated in the US military in WWI due to the need to wear gas masks,” Penny Jolly, a professor of art and art history, told the BBC. “Razors were issued in GI kits, so men could shave themselves on the battlefield.” The clean-shaven soldier eventually became the norm for the World Wars and beyond.

Although some didn’t really get the memo, like one unit of soldiers stationed in the Phillipines in 1941 which actually held a beard-growing contest. They are all winners, in our eyes.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Still, the reasoning against soldiers having beards has often boiled down to maintaining a uniform appearance and keeping a good seal on a gas mask, and it continues to this day.

In 1970, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt came in and basically said to hell with grooming and uniform regs in attempt to raise morale. Zumwalt — a wearer of his own sweet set of sideburns — issued one of his famous “Z-grams” in Nov. 1970, which directed the Navy to “adapt to changing fashions” of the day, which meant beards, mustaches, and sideburns, my man.

Beards were a staple of the Navy for quite a time, although even Zumwalt figured out his changes to the regs were a bit too permissive, USNI notes:

It did not take long before Navy ships began to look like they were crewed by hippies who had crashed their bus into a military surplus store. Even Zumwalt realized that the liberalization of grooming standards had gone too far and needed to be scaled back. Hair and beards were ordered to be neat while “eccentricities” such as mutton chop sideburns were outlawed.

Besides the surface fleet, Navy SEALs operating in Vietnam were allowed to rock beards, and the “Vietnamese regarded beards as a reflection of wisdom gained with age,” wrote Maury Docton at Quora.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the beard (even on submarines) became a thing of the past under Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James D. Watkins, who outlawed them in Dec. 1984. Beardos were outraged at the time: “‘It’s rotten,” Petty Officer Richard New told The New York Times. “I don’t think they can tell you everything to do.”

It turns out they can, and the order still remains in effect today. Across all the military services, beards are no longer allowed and even mustaches need to be trimmed within the corners of the mouth — a look so terrible even Hitler would say “what in the hell?”

The only men lucky enough to be allowed beards now are special operations units such as Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs (as long as they are in Afghanistan at least).

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Officials end search for missing helicopter crew in Hawaii

A massive ocean search for five soldiers who disappeared after a nighttime helicopter crash last week ended August 21 after no signs of life were spotted among the debris.


Crews from the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and local agencies in Hawaii searched around the clock as strong currents moved the wreckage into a deep-water search area that spanned 72,000 nautical miles (115,873 kilometers).

“Our five soldiers who represent the best and the brightest of America have not been found,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division.

The Army identified the missing soldiers as 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26, of Hope Mills, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, 41, of Decatur, Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 32, of Wichita Falls, Texas; Staff Sgt.Abigail R. Milam, 33, of Jenkins, Kentucky; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, of Antioch, Tennessee.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
An aircrewman aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point scans the waters off Oahu Aug. 18, 2017, for any sign of five missing aviators from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. USCG photo by Air Station Barbers Point.

Army and Coast Guard officials on August 21 notified the families of the missing soldiers that they were ending the search and rescue operation, Cavoli said.

“It is a very, very difficult decision, and it weighs heavily, particularly on the hearts of the Coast Guard,” said Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander of the US Coast Guard’s 14th District.

“We used all of our training and professionalism in this very dynamic environment to mount the best response possible,” Atkins added.

There has been no determination yet of the crash’s cause, Cavoli said after the search was suspended.

Two Black Hawk helicopter crews were conducting training off the western tip of Oahu the night of August 15 when one aircrew lost contact with the crew whose helicopter went missing.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu. Photo from USCG.

When the pilot on the lead helicopter realized the other aircraft was missing, he immediately turned his helicopter around and began to search, Cavoli said. But he later determined he didn’t have the equipment he needed to launch a professional search so he alerted the Coast Guard, Cavoli said.

A multi-agency team searched more than 72,000 nautical miles (115,873 kilometers) over the last week but saw no signs of life or of the crew that went missing. They found what appeared to be pieces of helicopter fuselage and a helmet in a debris field that expanded with strong currents to remote, deep areas of the ocean.

The Navy brought in remotely operated underwater vehicles and sonar to help in the search and get a better picture of the ocean floor, which drops quickly off the coast of Oahu and is over 1,000 feet (305 meters) deep in parts of the search area.

During the search, the Army and Coast Guard held joint briefings with family members every six hours to keep them informed, Cavoli said.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
An aircrewman aboard a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point scans the waters off Oahu Aug. 18, 2017, for any sign of five missing aviators from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. USCG photo by Air Station Barbers Point.

The fact that parts of the fuselage were found indicated the helicopter’s impact with the ocean was substantial, said Mario Vittone, a retired Coast Guardsman and expert on sea survival.

“There’s not a big record of people surviving impacts with the water when the impact is so significant that the fuselage is torn apart,” he said.

People can last about three days without water as long as they are not working very hard, but in the ocean it is difficult to get rest while trying to survive, Vittone said.

All five crew members on board had life vests, air bottles for underwater breathing, and radios with built-in GPS systems, the Army has said.

“All these things lead you to believe they didn’t leave the aircraft, because if they could get out of the aircraft and inflate their floatation devices, then why would they not then turn on their beacons?” Vittone said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New details emerge of Medal of Honor recipient’s heroism

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman ran out of a bunker on the Takur Ghar mountaintop for the second time, intentionally risking fire from heavily armed enemy fighters.

Shot several times already, Chapman attempted to halt the al-Qaida forces’ assault on an incoming MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying U.S. special operators.


He no longer had the cover of night, and exposed himself to the enemy as he ran. Dashing out to the ridge line in five-foot-deep snow, Chapman fired at the enemy fighters who were loading rocket-propelled grenades, helping additional American forces to enter the landing zone.

It would be his final bold act before two shots from a large-caliber machine gun cut through his torso, one destroying his aorta and killing him instantly.

But this, Chapman’s final fight, occurred well after the special tactics airman had already been presumed dead.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

A 30-month investigation involving eyewitness testimony from nearby Army and Air Force service members and drone targeteers, intelligence reports and aircraft video feed proved that Chapman not only lived after he was initially hit and knocked unconscious early in the mission, but that he at one point engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, fighting for about 70 harrowing minutes on the ground alone. In August 2018, officials who investigated the circumstances surrounding his death spoke publicly for the first time about their findings.

Chapman, a combat controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor, an upgrade of his Air Force Cross, for his actions on March 4, 2002, during a ceremony at the White House on Aug. 22, 2018. He will become the first U.S. airman to receive the military’s highest award since the Vietnam War.

“John was the only American that was alive on [that] mountain top, and there was somebody fighting for an hour,” said an Air Force special tactics officer who was part of the investigation team.

Speaking on background during a briefing at the Pentagon on Aug. 16, 2018, the officer explained how the Air Force Special Operations investigative team and the Pentagon concluded that Chapman had lived and continued to fight after his presumed death.

“When you watch [these videos], heroism jumps right off the page at you,” the officer said. “It chokes you up, and it makes you realize the incredible sacrifice.”

He added, “You don’t have to do 30 months of analysis to see that.”

In all, Chapman sustained nine wounds, seven of which were nonfatal, according to his autopsy report. A medical examiner concluded he lived and fought through gunshot wounds to his thigh, heel, calf and torso, which pierced his liver. He had a broken nose and other facial wounds, suggesting he engaged in hand-to-hand combat in close quarters. The final fatal shots likely came from a PKM machine gun, officials said.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

John Chapman holding a child in Afghanistan.

The evidence

The night infiltration began March 3. The reconnaissance team aboard the Chinook, call sign Razor 03, was unaware of the hornet’s nest of al-Qaida forces they were about to encounter. Their overall mission was to establish a reconnaissance position in the Shah-i-Kot Valley in southeastern Afghanistan.

After the assault began, a Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, fell out of the helicopter, which then crash-landed about four miles away.

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski led the SEAL Team 6 unit, known as Mako 30, to which Chapman was assigned back up the ridge on another helicopter, designated as Razor 04. Chapman began calling in airstrikes from AC-130 gunships circling overhead before returning with Slabinski and five other members around 4:27 a.m. local time.

Slabinski, now a retired master chief, was awarded the Medal of Honor in May, 2018 for his own heroism during the costly battle.

The team’s new objective was to rescue Roberts on the mountainside, which would become known as “Roberts Ridge.” Roberts did not survive.

Chapman ran ahead of his teammates, taking fire from multiple directions. He dug himself into a World War II-style pillbox that was chest-deep and hardened, designated as Bunker 01, officials said. He was 10 meters from a second bunker, but left cover to engage the al-Qaida forces.

At 4:42 a.m., U.S. forces with night-vision goggles observed Chapman falling in battle.

Statements from a nearby Army and Air Force reconnaissance team helped investigators prove that a U.S. service member was on the ridge alone, fighting from a bunker position — Bunker 01.

The second, five-member reconnaissance team was three miles away, listening to Chapman’s radio calls.

“I am absolutely positive [it] was John’s voice. I have no doubt whatsoever,” said one unnamed witness quoted in the months-long investigation, as cited by the Air Force.

“They saw somebody fighting against the enemy from that bunker position for an extended period of time,” the special tactics officer said. “They heard the enemy talking about the American on the mountaintop … And the enemy was talking excitedly — ‘An American! An American! An American!’ — and they were actually planning their assault.”

Meanwhile, another special tactics airman on the same radio frequency heard Chapman transmitting his call sign — MAKO 30C.

Two AC-130 gunships, dubbed “Grim 33” and “Grim 32,” were circling overhead alongside an MQ-1 Predator drone. The three were capturing different angles of the firefight below, although gaps in coverage existed for technical reasons or repositioning.

Grim 32 used a low-light TV sensor that could see various infrared markers, such as reflective tape on Chapman’s body armor as well as strobes from his scope.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

“I continued to observe glint tape, strobe lights, muzzle flashes, and [Infrared Illuminator] laser movement after [4:42] from Bunker 1,” one AC-130 crew member said in his testimony.

The AC-130 pilots and navigator continued to reference Chapman’s position, but the gunships needed to leave the airspace as they had expended their fuel and the enemy could see them overhead.

By overlapping the AC-130 feed and eyewitness testimony alongside the MQ-1 drone feed and the reconnaissance team’s audio observation, “we took seven different subject matter experts that all looked at this independently from an intel perspective and then layered those conclusions in,” the special tactics officer said.

Additionally, the National Geospatial Agency worked with the Air Force to survey the terrain to measure correct distances, height and trajectory of the firefight.

The videos and testimony substantiated what Air Force officials had believed all along, providing the additional clarity needed to piece together the series of events.‎

“No one thing would tell [Chapman’s] story in its totality. It was bits and pieces combined,” the special tactics officer said.

The final fight

The mission was part of Operation Anaconda, a large-scale attempt to clear the Shah-i-Kot Valley of al-Qaida forces. Chapman died after fighting off al-Qaida forces for roughly two hours, but his efforts allowed the special ops teams that followed to advance their position on the mountainside.

Along with Chapman and Roberts, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Army Sgt. Bradley Crose, Army Sgt. Phillip Svitak, Army Spc. Marc Anderson and Army Cpl. Matthew Commons also died during the mission.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the recommendation to upgrade Chapman’s Air Force Cross earlier this year. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and then-acting Defense Secretary Robert Work were also involved in the recommendation process as the investigation advanced.

The review of Chapman’s award and actions was part of the 2016 Defense Department push to audit more than 1,100 post-9/11 valor citations to determine if they warrant a higher award such as the Medal of Honor.

Even as rumors of Chapman’s upgrade remained unconfirmed for months, officials lauded his efforts.

“I think John Chapman is deserving of any honor that is bestowed upon him,” Wilson told Military.com in May. “If that happens, I think it will be an important day in the Air Force and for his family.”

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

Articles

Watch these chefs try to turn Army food into gourmet cuisine

The standard U.S. Armed Forces field ration is, above all other considerations, designed to make you emotional.


Sure, an MRE needs to be nutritious. Obviously, it also needs to be lightweight, packable, durable, quick, and easy to prepare. It’s got to have a long shelf life because who knows when it’ll be called up for active duty. And at the end of the day — and not just because it’s the end of the day — the damn thing ought to taste good.

After years of research and development, laboratory refinement, and testing in the field, the military has the MRE dialed to within an inch of its life. Private, does your dinner have “Vegetable Rotini” stamped on its olive drab shrink wrap? Yes? Then, by God, you can trust that when you just add water, the thing you find rehydrated on the end of your spork will resemble a rotini (Vegetable Class) to the highest degree achievable by military science.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block
Our host finds his feelings at the bottom of the feed bag. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl trusted in the prowess of the military’s culinary industrial complex. After all, he named his show after its signature offering.

When he visited the labs and testing facilities of the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, he was excited to spend some quality time covering familiar territory. What he didn’t count on was the depth of the emotional response that many of his interview subjects had to meals they’d eaten as soldiers in the field. And it turns out, that response is no accident.

We want it to be a quality meal that we provide to them. We don’t know if that’s going to be their last meal.

 –Stephen Moody, Director, Combat Feeding Directive

Watch host August Dannehl and fellow veteran Mike Williams, currently the Executive Chef of West Hollywood restaurant Norah, transform the military’s utilitarian ration MRE into a mouthwatering “Jambalaya Risotto with Duo of Duck.” 

Meals Ready to Eat can be seen on KCET in Southern California, on Link TV Nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410), and online at KCET.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

DARPA will be ready to show off its drone swarms next year

DARPA is progressing toward its plan to demonstrate airborne launch and recovery of multiple unmanned aerial systems, targeted for late 2019. Now in its third and final phase, the goal for the Gremlins program is to develop a full-scale technology demonstration featuring the air recovery of multiple low-cost, reusable UASs, or “gremlins.”

Safety, reliability, and affordability are the key objectives for the system, which would launch groups of UASs from multiple types of military aircraft while out of range from adversary defenses. Once gremlins complete their mission, a C-130 transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.


A recent flight test at Yuma Proving Ground provided an opportunity to conduct safe separation and captive flight tests of the hard dock and recovery system.

“Early flight tests have given us confidence we can meet our objective to recover four gremlins in 30 minutes,” said Scott Wierzbanowski, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

In addition to preliminary flight tests, the team has focused on risk reduction via extensive modeling and simulation. The team looked at how fifth generation aircraft systems like the F-35 and F-22 respond to threats, and how they could incorporate gremlins in higher risk areas. The gremlins’ expected lifetime of about 20 uses could provide significant cost advantages by reducing payload and airframe costs, and by having lower mission and maintenance costs than conventional platforms, which are designed to operate for decades.

The C-130 is the demonstration platform for the Gremlins program, but Wierzbanowski says the Services could easily modify the system for another transport aircraft or other major weapons system. Modularity has made Gremlins attractive to potential transition partners.

“We are exploring opportunities with several transition partners and are not committed to a single organization. Interest is strong with both the roll-on/roll-off capability of the Gremlins system — as it does not require any permanent aircraft modification — and a wing-mounted system to provide greater flexibility to a wider range of aircraft,” said Wierzbanowski.

Gremlins also can incorporate several types of sensors up to 150 pounds, and easily integrate technologies to address different types of stakeholders and missions.

DARPA recently awarded a contract to a Dynetics, Inc.-led team to perform the Phase 3 demonstration. The DARPA program team currently is exploring the possibility of demonstrating different sensor packages with potential integration partners prior to program completion in 2019.

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

Articles

Winston Churchill was a huge party monster who racked up an absurd amount of debt

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block


Despite Winston Churchill’s popular image, Britain’s most celebrated statesman spent much of his seemingly extravagant life on the edge of a financial cliff, according to retired banker and Oxford history scholar David Lough.

In Lough’s “No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money,” he outlines how Churchill flirted with severe debt while projecting an image of wealth, with his limitless appetite for cigars and champagne.

Churchill’s private finances often threatened his political career, which spanned more than a half century, including two stints as prime minister.

To compensate for his financial woes, Churchill focused on becoming a prolific writer; however, his prose wasn’t enough on its own, Lough notes.

So Churchill took an emergency bank loan, which brought his borrowings to £30,000 in 1925, or $2.1 million at current exchange rates and adjusting for inflation (inflation multiples: UK£ x 50).

Feeling the financial pinch, Churchill made several budget cuts to Chartwell, his country estate, in the summer of 1926.

He began by selling all of the cattle, chickens, pigs, and ponies housed on the estate.

Churchill cut the estate’s monthly expenses, which cost nearly $33,400 (£480) and included food, wages, maintenance, and cars, in half.

“Nothing expensive is to be bought, by either of us, without talking it over,” Churchill wrote to this wife Clementine, according to Lough.

“No more champagne is to be bought. Unless special directions are given only white or red wine, or whisky and soda will be offered at luncheon, or dinner. The Wine Book to be shown to me every week. No more port is to be opened without special instructions.”

“Cigars must be reduced to four a day. None should be put on the table; but only produced out of my case.”

In addition to the proposed savings, the Churchills would “very rarely, if at all,” invite guests over to the estate and would discontinue serving fish during dinner.

Within a year, Churchill’s cost-saving plan unraveled and his family shipped off for a lengthy cruise around the Mediterranean.

Three Warthog squadrons could be on the chopping block

While traveling, Churchill added a stop to Normandy to enjoy a wild pig-hunt with the duke of Westminister and the duke’s new girlfriend Coco Chanel.

Churchill made a second detour to a nearby casino and gambled away $24,350 (£350).

Meanwhile, Churchill was still dodging bills from his architect Philip Tilden who was hired in 1923 to build a new wing to the Chartwell estate.

According to Lough, the Churchill’s wanted “larger bedrooms, new bathrooms and kitchen, a library, a large study, and a room for entertaining.”

At the time, Churchill had not approved Tilden’s building cost estimates before work began on Chartwell. The swelling modernization costs soared, resulting in a series of allegations and delayed payments for Tilden.

“There were renewed threats of legal action on both sides, but the financial trail disappears at this point because Churchill’s bank accounts for the last part of 1927 and 1928 are missing from his archive,” Lough notes.

In 1927, the Chartwell estate and its furnishings are estimated to have cost at least $2,783,400 (£40,000), nearly triple Churchill’s original estimate.

Churchill went on to become prime minster in 1940 and helped craft a successful Allied strategy against the Nazi’s during World War II.

He was elected prime minister again in 1951, however, his financial woes shadowed the remainder of his life.