The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here's what the Navy is learning about its new carrier - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

ATLANTIC OCEAN — The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is bringing vital information to the fleet from its Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT), which began off the East Coast, January 16.


ACT is allowing the crew of Ford to further test its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), two Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) systems unique to Ford.

It’s also allowing the crew and embarked test personnel to rigorously evaluate the effect of the CVN 78 air wake, or burble, and its compatibility with all types of fleet aircraft the Navy utilizes on an aircraft carrier.

“What we’re doing is validating years of test catapult shots that were done at the EMALS test facility at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and years of arrestments on AAG at Lakehurst, then taking that data, bringing it to sea and using it on installed equipment aboard our ship, now in an austere underway environment with different wind and environmental conditions to build those safe flight envelopes,” said Capt. John J. Cummings, Ford’s commanding officer.

Ford’s ACT has seen the first arrestment and launching of E-2D Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, EA-18G Growler, and the T-45 Goshawk aircraft on these new systems unique to Ford-class carriers.

“Honestly it’s great to be the first ones to fly the E-2/C-2 out on an entirely new class of carrier,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Thurber, a test pilot assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308beb24306a04db2bfec7%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=117&h=2b7bfc8fc1340101bd28bd7355208e0463b64f765a5ea1cb35fdd327bd830cb4&size=980x&c=190734544 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308beb24306a04db2bfec7%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D117%26h%3D2b7bfc8fc1340101bd28bd7355208e0463b64f765a5ea1cb35fdd327bd830cb4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D190734544%22%7D” expand=1]

A C-2A Greyhound launches from USS Gerald R. Ford’s flight deck, January 23, 2020.

Navy/Mass Comm Specialist Seaman Apprentice Riley McDowell

“We spent some time up at [Joint Base McGuire-Dix] Lakehurst, New Jersey doing some of the developmental testing for the systems before coming to the ship, so it’s neat to have seen the entire system land based; see some of the issues we have here, then go back and correct it and come out to the ship and test it at sea.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308bec24306a04e1548526%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=795&h=9985b2609c923e0306d7dda6b2a0d785712642b451c8ab25b86ba6b86310e458&size=980x&c=4221349948 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308bec24306a04e1548526%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D795%26h%3D9985b2609c923e0306d7dda6b2a0d785712642b451c8ab25b86ba6b86310e458%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4221349948%22%7D” expand=1]

Sailors assigned to USS Ford’s air department prepare to launch an E-2D Hawkeye, January 27, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist Seaman Jesus O. Aguiar

Cummings reflected on the historical aspect of ACT for the entire Ford class of aircraft carriers.

“We are pioneers in this new class to figure it out, and we will. We will do this for the Ford-class and then that’s it, done,” said Cummings. “Our crew is extremely proud to be a part of this historic event; to do this testing and get it to the fleet, and then get ready to accept all fleet aircraft.”

Testing also includes an F/A-18F Super Hornet which was also previously used for testing aboard Ford in 2018. Prior to ATC, Ford had 747 launches and arrestments.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308bec5bc79c0a964cfca7%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=335&h=c4b2b77f28887c3d6c95ecd4b38d0e2f73a8d77b12e6997581d8c5eed2d3e392&size=980x&c=2547807471 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308bec5bc79c0a964cfca7%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D335%26h%3Dc4b2b77f28887c3d6c95ecd4b38d0e2f73a8d77b12e6997581d8c5eed2d3e392%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2547807471%22%7D” expand=1]

Capt. John J. Cummings, USS Gerald R. Ford’s commanding officer, observes an EA-18G Growler before it launches, January 24, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed

“Those four firsts were major milestones, and that’s the payoff of a ton hard work by the engineering teams, and by the test squadrons,” said Cmdr. Mehdi Akacem, Ford’s air boss.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308beb62fa8114d25edfb6%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=814&h=5d8daa5424e376df3fa5921b8caf5136d7450c01e021fa4bcfdf66de111cdb72&size=980x&c=2907543271 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308beb62fa8114d25edfb6%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D814%26h%3D5d8daa5424e376df3fa5921b8caf5136d7450c01e021fa4bcfdf66de111cdb72%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2907543271%22%7D” expand=1]

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from USS Ford, January 24, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed

Since getting underway on January 16, Ford has already seen over 70 successful launches and arrestments using the new EMALS and AAG technologies, and will continue to increase the sortie frequency in the second half of testing.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308bed62fa8114df396ec4%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=544&h=16bd8b9fd0d64e44e9a693656a583d11c7ad1c2f63458690c5c1c2c08014ac12&size=980x&c=1252925737 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308bed62fa8114df396ec4%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D544%26h%3D16bd8b9fd0d64e44e9a693656a583d11c7ad1c2f63458690c5c1c2c08014ac12%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1252925737%22%7D” expand=1]

A T-45 Goshawk lands on USS Ford, January 17, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Carter

“To see it all come together and see the ship do what it’s designed to do — which is to launch and recover aircraft — it’s extreme pride for our crew and for the aviators who’ve come out here to support that,” said Cummings. “So I’m extremely proud of the work by the team to get here, and we’ll continue to keep pushing to get a lot of flying in this next year.”

This round of testing is allowing the crew to further test the improvements made during its post-shakedown availability (PSA) at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding while also allowing the crew to gain experience on these unique systems.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308beb5bc79c0aa90cfeb3%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=422&h=d5b39e7a013c0aed1b47e07a4eb5a4924ef5ab14dce288c7e2321b9e8565cc81&size=980x&c=4202998243 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308beb5bc79c0aa90cfeb3%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D422%26h%3Dd5b39e7a013c0aed1b47e07a4eb5a4924ef5ab14dce288c7e2321b9e8565cc81%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4202998243%22%7D” expand=1]

An EA-18G Growler prepares to land aboard USS Ford, January 24, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed

The information captured during ACT will continue to inform improvements and modifications for Ford and follow-on Ford-class of aircraft carriers.

“We are clearly seeing improvements and in our knowledge, better reliability,” said Akacem. “We’re out here doing the things the systems are built to do, and we’re learning so much every day.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e308c635bc79c0b145b0e52%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=725&h=92b68b013fa712263141b334e1add6ba7c4524dd2a5ebb4115d343429038275e&size=980x&c=3723301214 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e308c635bc79c0b145b0e52%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D725%26h%3D92b68b013fa712263141b334e1add6ba7c4524dd2a5ebb4115d343429038275e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3723301214%22%7D” expand=1]

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Hon. James F. Geurts, left, takes a picture of a C-2A Greyhound during a fly-by of USS Ford, January 27, 2020.

US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Carter

Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years.

Ford is currently underway conducting Aircraft Compatibility Testing to further test its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).

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

Articles

World War II Combat Cameraman and Hollywood animation legend dies

He is widely known as a Hollywood animation legend who worked at the studios that created Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. But Hal Geer also flew 86 combat missions as a combat cameraman in World War II.


The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
B-24 Liberators over Ploesti on Aug. 1, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Geer died Jan. 26 at the age of 100. According to IMDB, his credits included the movies “Daffy Duck: Fantastic Island,” “Bugs Bunny: All-American Hero,” and “The Bugs Bunny Mystery Special” as well as over twenty short cartoons.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
Nose art Hal Geer would have loved. Bugs Bunny nose art from an FB-111 with the 380th Bombardment Wing. In World War II, the 380th used B-24 Liberators, and Geer worked on a number of cartoons featuring the wascally wabbit. (USAF photo)

Geer’s World War II service took him over the China-Burma-India Theater, flying in Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers and North American B-25 medium bombers assigned to the 14th Air Force under Major General Claire Chennault, who founded the legendary Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group.

According to a 2007 report in the Ventura County Recorder, Geer made the documentary film “China Crisis” while serving. Geer told the Recorder that this World War II film was the one he was the most proud of.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

In a 2005 interview with China Youth Daily, Geer discussed more about his time with the 14th Air Force. “China Crisis” discussed how the United States supported the 14th Air Force, getting supplies over what was called “The Hump.”

Today, it’s better known as the Himalaya Mountains. The film also covered the Japanese Army’s 1944 offensive in China (which doesn’t get as much press when compared to how America advanced in the Pacific that year). Thirteen combat cameramen shot over 300 hours of footage to make a film that was less than an hour long. Five cameramen were killed in action.

“China Crisis” had been slated to be shown along as part of a 1946 War Bonds drive. That drive would not take place, as Japan surrendered in August 1945 after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Perhaps, someday, DOD will find a way to make that film, and many others, available online for Americans to view.

Articles

Navy LCS deck-launched HELLFIRE missile to be Operational by 2017

The Navy plans to have an operational ship-launched HELLFIRE missile on its Littoral Combat Ship by next year, giving the vessel an opportunity to better destroy approaching enemy attacks –such as swarms of attacking small boats — at farther ranges than its existing deck-mounted guns are able to fire.


“Both the 30mm guns and the Longbow HELLFIRE are designed to go after that fast attack aircraft and high speed boats coming into attack LCS typically in a swarm raid type of configuration,” Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Modules Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview. said.

The 30mm guns will be fired against close-in threats and attacks – and the HELLFIRE is being engineered to strike targets farther away out toward the horizon. The concept is to increase ship Commander’s target engagement targets against fast-maneuvering surface targets such as remotely controlled boats and fast-attack craft carrying pedestal mounted guns, Moton explained.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
Raytheon

“We are taking the Army’s Longbow HELLFIRE Missile and we are adapting it for maritime use. We are using a vertical launcher off of an LCS,” Moton added.

Moton said the Navy has been conducting live-fire test attacks with a HELLFIRE missile launching from a deck-mounted launcher aboard a service research vessel. The ship-launched HELLFIRE is engineered a little differently than current HELLFIREs fired from drones and helicopters.

“With a helicopter, HELLFIRE often locks onto a target before launch (RF guidance). With LCS, the missile turns on its seeker after launch. We did 12 missile shots in the last year and had successful engagements with 10 of them,” Moton explained.

The LCS-fired HELLFIRE uses “millimeter wave” guidance or seeker technology, a targeting system described as “all-weather” capable because it can penetrate rain, clouds and other obscurants.

An upcoming focus for the weapon will be designing integration within the LCS’ computers and combat system.

“We did tests to push the boundary of the seeker so we could get data for seeker modifications. We tweak the seeker based on this data,” Moton explained

Part of the conceptual design for an LCS deck-mounted HELLFIRE is to enable coordination and targeting connectivity with Mk 60 Navy helicopters operating beyond-the-horizon.

“A helicopter can track an inbound raid as it comes in off of the horizon – allowing us to shoot the Longbow HELLFIRE missiles,” Moton said.

In these scenarios, the HELLFIRE would be used in tandem with 30mm and 57mm guns. Also, the Longbow Hellfire weapon is intended to be used in conjunction with helicopter-like, vertical take-off-and-landing drone launched from the LCS called the Fire Scout. This Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, ISR, platform can help identify targets and relay real time video images back to a ship-based targeting and command and control center.

Previously, the Navy had considered a now-cancelled Army-Navy program called the Non-Line-of-Sight missile and a laser-guided Griffin missile for the LCS attack mission. With Griffin missiles, a laser-guided weapon, there is a limited number of missiles which can fire at one time in the air due to a need for laser designation. A Longbow HELLFIRE, however, is what is described as a “fire-and-forget” missile which can attack targets without needing laser designation.

The integration of a HELLFIRE missile aboard an LCS, which has been in development for several years, is considered to be a key element of the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” strategy implemented to better arm the surface fleet with improved offensive and defensive weapons.

Alongside the HELLFIRE, the Navy is also looking to integrate an over-the-horizon longer range weapon for the LCS and its more survivable variant, a Frigate; among the missile being considered are the Naval Strike Missile, Harpoon and an emerging high-tech weapon called the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM.

HELLFIRE Missile Technologies and Platforms

In service since the 1970s, HELLFIRE missiles originated as 100-pound tank-killing, armor piercing weapons engineered to fire from helicopters to destroy enemy armored vehicles, bunkers and other fortifications.

In more recent years, the emergence of news sensors, platforms and guidance technologies have enabled the missile to launch strikes with greater precision against a wider envelope of potential enemy targets.

These days, the weapon is primarily fired from attack drones such as the Air Force Predator and Reaper and the Army’s Gray Eagle; naturally, the HELLFIRE is also used by the Army’s AH-64 Apache Attack helicopter, OH-58 Kiowa Warriors and AH-1 Marine Corps Super Cobras, among others. Although not much is known about when, where or who — HELLFIREs are also regularly used in U.S. drone strikes using Air Force Predators and Reapers against terrorist targets around the globe.

The HELLFIRE missile can use radio frequency, RF, guidance – referred to as “fire and forget” – or semi-active laser technology. A ground target can be designated or “painted” by a laser spot from the aircraft firing the weapon, another aircraft or ground spotter illuminating the target for the weapon to destroy.

There are multiple kinds of HELLFIRE warheads to include a High-Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, weapon and a Blast-Fragmentation explosive along with several others. The HEAT round uses what’s called a “tandem warhead” with both a smaller and larger shaped charge; the idea is to achieve the initial requisite effect before detonating a larger explosion to maximize damage to the target.

The “Blast-Frag” warhead is a laser-guided penetrator weapon with a hardened steel casing, incendiary pellets designed for enemy ships, bunkers, patrol boats and things like communications infrastructure, Army documents explain.

The “Metal Augmented Charge” warhead improves upon the “Blast-Frag” weapon by adding metal fuel to the missile designed to increase the blast overpressure inside bunkers, ships and multi-room targets, Army information says. The “Metal Augmented Charge” is penetrating, laser-guided and also used for attacks on bridges, air defenses and oil rigs. The missile uses blast effects, fragmentation and overpressure to destroy targets.

The AGM-114L HELLFIRE is designed for the Longbow Apache attack helicopter platform; the weapon uses millimeter-wave technology, radar, digital signal processing and inertial measurement units to “lock-on” to a target before or after launch.

The AGM-114R warhead is described as a “Multi-Purpose” explosive used for anti-armor, anti-personnel and urban targets; the weapon uses a Micro-Electro Mechanical System Inertial Measurement Unit for additional flight guidance along with a delayed fuse in order to penetrate a target before exploding in order to maximize damage inside an area.

The AGM-114R or “Romeo” variant, which is the most modern in the arsenal, integrates a few additional technologies such as all-weather millimeter wave guidance technology and a fragmentation-increasing metal sleeve configured around the outside of the missile.

The “Multi-Purpose” warhead is a dual mode weapon able to use both a shaped charge along with a fragmentation sleeve. The additional casing is designed to further disperse “blast-effects” with greater fragmentation in order to be more effective against small groups of enemy fighters.

“The “Romeo” variant is an example of how these efforts result in a more capable missile that will maintain fire superiority for the foreseeable future,” Dan O’Boyle, spokesman for the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, told Scout Warrior.

Additional HELLFIRE Uses

Although the HELLFIRE began as an air-to-ground weapon, the missile has been fired in a variety of different respects in recent years. Also, the Army has fired the weapon at drone targets in the air from a truck-mounted Multi-Mission Launcher on the ground and international U.S. allies have fired the HELLFIRE mounted on a ground-stationed tripod.

Articles

US ‘kill vehicle’ test destroys ballistic missile in space

The Pentagon’s oft-criticized missile defense program has scored a triumph, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting U.S. territory from a North Korean attack.


Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile defense system, called the test result “an incredible accomplishment” and a critical milestone for a program hampered by setbacks over the years.

“This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Syring said in a written statement announcing the test result.

Despite the success, the $244 million test did not confirm that under wartime conditions the U.S. could intercept an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea. Pyongyang is understood to be moving closer to the capability of putting a nuclear warhead on such an ICBM and could develop decoys sophisticated enough to trick an interceptor into missing the real warhead.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

Syring’s agency sounded a note of caution.

“Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test,” his statement said.

Philip E. Coyle, a former head of the Pentagon’s test and evaluation office and a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said the May 30 outcome was a significant success for a test that was three years in preparation, but he noted that it was only the second success in the last five intercept attempts since 2010.

“In several ways, this test was a $244 million-dollar baby step, a baby step that took three years,” Coyle said.

The previous intercept test, in June 2014, was successful, but the longer track record is spotty. Since the system was declared ready for potential combat use in 2004, only four of nine intercept attempts have been successful.

“This is part of a continuous learning curve,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, ahead of the current test. The Pentagon is still incorporating engineering upgrades to its missile interceptor, which has yet to be fully tested in realistic conditions.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
North Korean anti-air missile on parade in Pyongyang.

North Korea says its nuclear and missile programs are a defense against perceived U.S. military threats. Its accelerating missile development has complicated Pentagon calculations, most recently by incorporating solid-fuel technology into its rockets. The step would mean even less launch warning time for the United States. Liquid fuel is less stable and rockets using it have to be fueled in the field, a process that takes longer and can be detected by satellites.

Underscoring its uninterrupted efforts, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on May 29, 2017 that landed in Japan’s maritime economic zone.

In the May 30 U.S. test, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency launched an interceptor rocket from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The target was an intercontinental-range missile fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

According to the plan, a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle” released from atop the interceptor zeroed in on the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead outside Earth’s atmosphere and obliterated it by sheer force of impact, the Pentagon said. The “kill vehicle” carries no explosives, either in testing or in actual combat.

The target was a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it flew faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, the Missile Defense Agency’s spokesman. It was not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM, and details of its exact capabilities weren’t made public.

Officially known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Pentagon likens the defensive tactic to hitting a bullet with a bullet. With congressional support, the Pentagon is increasing the number of deployed interceptors, based in California and Alaska, to 44 from the current total of 36 by the end of 2017.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
A ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert Volio)

While the May 30 test wasn’t designed with the expectation of an imminent North Korean missile threat, the military wants progress toward the stated goal of being able to shoot down a small number of ICBMs targeting the United States.

Laura Grego, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has criticized the missile defense program, called the interceptor an “advanced prototype,” meaning it is not fully matured technologically even if it has been deployed and theoretically available for combat since 2004. A successful test on May 30, she said, could demonstrate the Pentagon is on the right track with its latest technical fixes.

“Overall,” she wrote in an analysis prior to the test, the military “is not even close to demonstrating that the system works in a real-world setting.”

The interceptors are, in essence, the last line of U.S. defense against an attack by an intercontinental-range missile.

The Pentagon has other elements of missile defense that have shown to be more reliable, although they are designed to work against medium-range or shorter-range ballistic missiles. These include the Patriot missile, which numerous countries have purchased from the U.S., and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which the U.S. deployed this year to South Korea to defend against medium-range missiles from North Korea.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The final Black Widow trailer is here

The new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Black Widow, comes out this May. The standalone film will revolve around the Avenger Natasha Romanoff, otherwise known as the Black Widow.


The former assassin turned superhero has a dark and mysterious past that has been alluded to several times during the MCU run. Now, fans get to dive into that story and learn what made Black Widow and why her past haunts her.

www.youtube.com

The new trailer also featured more of the movie’s villain, the Taskmaster. The Taskmaster has the ability to learn and mimic the fighting style of anyone he faces. In the first trailer we see him take aim with a bow and arrow which means he must have gone up against Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye.

But in the new trailer, we see other Avengers mimicked by the Taskmaster. At the 1:12 mark, we see Taskmaster give the ole Wakanda Forever salute, prompting fans to wonder if there will be an appearance by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, also known as Black Panther.

Also, we see Taskmaster pull out a very iconic tool of one of the Avengers.

That’s right, he uses (pretty proficiently) a shield as a weapon just like Captain America.

Taskmaster is considered Marvel’s ultimate copycat In the new #BlackWidow trailer you can see him: – Studying Natasha’s moves in ‘Iron Man 2’ – Throwing a shield like Cap – Mimicking Black Panther – Shooting a bow and arrow like Hawkeye http://fandom.link/taskmaster pic.twitter.com/NMUXG7FNKd

twitter.com

Speaking of the Captain, the movie features his old Soviet counterpart. Played by Stranger Things star David Harbour, the Red Guardian has a big role in the movie as one of Black Widow’s family members. The premise of the movie seems to be that the Taskmaster has taken control of the Red Room (used to create Black Widow assassins) and Black Widow and her family must do battle to stop him. Rounding out the superhero family are Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh.

The movie is supposed to be set after Captain America: Civil War, and has Romonoff alone and dealing with a sinister force that is using her past against her. She must battle both the Taskmaster and her past in order to prevail.

It sounds like this will be another great Marvel action flick!

Black Widow hits theaters on May 1st, 2020.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Venezuelan president tweets ‘Mardi Gras’ plans while country collapses

Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro on Feb. 27, 2019, tweeted a 40-minute-long livestream on Periscope about the government’s carnival preparations as the country further spirals into crisis.

Carnival — or “Carnaval” as known in Venezuela — is a big celebration celebrated before Lent every year, in which people dress up in costumes, dance, and attend parades with floats.


Maduro’s video came after a weekend of violent clashes when state forces barred activists from bringing in aid through the Colombian and Brazilian borders.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro discussed plans for Venezuela’s upcoming Carnaval celebrations while the country continues to crumble.

(Nicolás Maduro/Twitter)

Police fired tear gas and pellets on protesters, killing at least two and injuring at least 300, The Associated Press (AP) reported. More than 300 Venezuelan soldiers defected and fled to Colombia after the unrest, the AP added.

But in his lengthy stream, Maduro primarily focused on his plans for a “safe carnival” in 2019. The video showed Venezuelans in costumes dancing and celebrating, as the president calls on ministers, governors and mayors to explain how the government will ensure smooth festivities.

Maduro then mused about cute children in costumes before announcing that he will also dress up and join the celebration.

The leader is often criticized for organizing big celebrations and performances, like salsa dancing, as a distraction from the humanitarian and economic crisis plaguing the nation.

Feb. 23, 2019, he was slammed for dancing at a concert while government forces blocked the entry of food and medicine at the borders.

Maduro addressed his critics in his Feb. 27, 2019, livestream, saying: “The imperialists were mad that I was dancing. We [Venezuelans] always dance because we are a happy people and this is a revolution of joy.”

The video also showed images of pro-government rallies, with Maduro saying that the majority of Venezuelans oppose international intervention.

Maduro and his allies around the world — like Russia, China, and Syria — have opposed foreign support for his opponent Juan Guaidó, who declared himself Venezuela’s interim government in January 2019.

Maduro also mocked Guaidó’s slogan while discussing Carnaval plans. “Vamos bien,” he said — Spanish for “we are making progress.”

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Venezuelan “interim president” Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó is currently exiled in Colombia, and has met with US Vice President Mike Pence and the Lima Group, a regional bloc established to end the Venezuelan crisis.

Guaidó told his supporters via video on Feb. 26, 2019, that he is currently planning his return to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to mobilize his supporters. The exact date of his arrival and next steps will be made public in the coming days, he added.

He said he refuses “this compromise of having to fight from abroad,” referring to Colombia, and said that Maduro is “alone and desperate.”

Guaidó also posted an audio message, urging his supporters to keep mobilizing and and announcing unspecified actions to garner support from military and government workers.

Though military leaders in Venezuela publicly backed Maduro in January 2019, Guaidó has claimed that he had met some members of the military in secret.

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

Articles

Updated: AWOL female engineer has turned herself in

Update: Pvt. Erika Lopez turned herself in to Army authorities Feb. 4 after reports of her desertion went viral. The Army will now decide whether to charge her with a crime, administratively separate her from the service, or allow her to continue training. The original post on Lopez’s disappearance is below:


According to reports from Tennessee news channels, the first woman to enlist as a combat engineer from that state has gone absent without leave and has been gone for over 30 days, meaning she is now technically a deserter.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
Photo: Youtube/Election2016

Erika Lopez enlisted in July of 2015 to much fanfare as the Army was first opening the combat engineer military occupational specialty to women.

She went on convalescent leave from basic training and was scheduled to return Jan. 4. Once she failed to appear, she was listed as AWOL. After 30 days, an AWOL soldier’s status is changed to deserter unless there is evidence that something has happened to the soldier or that he or she is confined.

The Army has been unable to locate Lopez despite numerous attempts. It’s one of the few situations where the most desirable scenario is that a soldier deserted, since the alternative is that something has happened to her.

While there have been reports listing Lopez as the Army’s first female combat engineer, that title actually goes to Vermont National Guard Spc. Skylar Anderson who graduated the combat engineer course in December and continues to serve in Vermont. Lopez was actually the fourth woman to enlist as a combat engineer.

Similarly, Lopez has been described as the first woman to become a combat arms soldier. The term “combat arms” was rescinded in 2008 with an updated version of Army Field Manual 3-0, but the first female combat arms soldiers were those who enlisted into air defense MOSs in the early 1990s.* Combat engineers were a combat arms MOS when that term was in use.

*Updated Feb. 5, 2016: This paragraph originally stated that combat engineer was not technically a combat arms specialty. When “combat arms” was a doctrinal term, Army Engineering was a combat arms branch.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the “Hercules of the American Revolution”

Peter Francisco was born into a wealthy family in June, 1760, on an island in the Azores archipelago of Portugal. When Francisco was just 5 years old, he was abducted by pirates. The future patriot was ripped from his home and carted off to a nearby ship. Approximately six weeks later, a dock worker saw a boat maneuver up the James River in Virginia. There, the pirates dropped off the young Francisco and left as quickly as they’d arrived.

Nobody’s entirely sure why the abductors snatched him up only to later drop him off without seeking payment, but historians have their theories. Some say that Francisco’s father orchestrated the kidnapping in order to spare Peter from the wrath of his family’s political enemies.

Whatever the case, locals took the abandoned Francisco to a nearby orphanage soon after he arrived. There, he was taken in by Judge Anthony Winston. He took the young boy back to his plantation to learn English. Due to his dark, Mediterranean complexion, however, Francisco lived near the slaves and never received a proper education.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Francisco spent many of his early years working on Judge Winston’s plantation, learning how to be a blacksmith. Winston invited Francisco to join him at the Second Virginia Convention in 1775, where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry were all in attendance. After several days of intense debate between loyalists and patriots, Patrick Henry delivered his famous quote,

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

As the teenage Francisco watched through a window, he chose liberty.


Nearly a year and a half later, Francisco finally convinced Winston to allow him to join the Continental Army. At just 16 years old, Francisco was officially a member of the 10th Virginia Regiment and stood six feet, six inches tall and weighed 260 pounds — truly a giant of his era.

Soon after, Francisco fought in several famous battles, including Brandywine and Valley Forge. During the Battle of Stony Point, George Washington recruited 20 elite troops to be first in line to assault the British fort. Francisco was selected as one of those men.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
The Continental Army defeated British troops at Stony Point with a well-planned nighttime attack.

Francisco was tasked with scaling a 300-foot wall and reaching the fort’s flagstaff. Of the 20 who led the charge, 17 were either killed or wounded — a large slash across the abdomen put Francisco among them. Despite his injury, he killed his adversaries and reached his destination. He lay, wounded, at the base of the flag as the British surrendered. From then on, Francisco was known as the “Hercules of the American Revolution.”

During the Battle of Camden, Francisco noticed a 1,100-pound cannon in a field next to some dead horses. According to legend, he managed to lift the canon and take it, saving it from falling to British hands. For this courageous act, the U.S. Postal Service design a stamp in Francisco’s honor.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
Stamps were expensive even in 1975…

As Francisco continued to fight the war, he continuously remarked on the tiny size of the swords with which they fought. Eventually, Washington gave Francisco a six-foot broadsword — not unlike the sword famously used by William Wallace in his own battles against the English.

By the time Francisco was done serving, he had been wounded six times, but never stopped fighting. He was later elected by the Senate to work as the sergeant-at-arms.

Later, Francisco died from appendicitis. He was 71-years-old.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These vets keep it real when answering whether they’d join the military again

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of former servicemembers about whether or not they’d join the military all over again if given the chance.


Be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

 

MIGHTY HISTORY

Wreaths Across America: How one tribute started a movement

National Wreaths Across America Day has become such a big tradition that it’s hard to believe it began from just one personal tribute.

How it Happened

The Worcester family of Harrington, Maine, owns their own tree farm. In 1992, they had a surplus of wreaths during the holiday season, so the family patriarch, Morrill — who had long felt indebted to our fallen veterans — got help from a Maine politician to have those spare wreaths placed beside graves in Arlington National Cemetery in areas that received fewer visitors each year.


Several volunteers stepped up to help, including veterans from American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and a truck company owner who transported the wreaths to Arlington, Virginia, where a small ceremony was held at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This remained a small yearly tradition for nearly 15 years until a photo taken at the 2005 ceremony went viral. Almost immediately, thousands of people wanted to know how to help or how they could begin a similar tradition in their states.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Christmas wreaths adorn headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., in December 2005.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)

By the next year — with the help of some civic organizations and volunteers, including in the trucking industry — there were 150 simultaneous ceremonies held across the country. By 2008, the movement to remember, honor and teach had grown so much that Congress had declared the third Saturday in September National Wreaths Across America Day.

By 2014, the now-nonprofit Wreaths Across America had reached its goal of placing a wreath at all 226,525 graves in the cemetery.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Navy personnel from the Navy International Programs Office, Washington, distribute wreaths to volunteers during the Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Dec. 15, 2012.

(Photo by Chief Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

Wreaths Across America today

The event continues to grow. In 2018, the organization shipped a staggering 1.75 MILLION wreaths to 1,640 locations that held ceremonies across the U.S. A few dozen locations overseas also participated. According to the organization, this was the first year it was granted permission to place wreaths at Normandy to honor those who died during World War II’s D-Day invasion.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Charles C. Orf salutes a headstone at Fort Richardson National Cemetery during the annual Wreaths Across America Day at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 16, 2017.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Richardson)

Veterans and Gold Star families are many of the roughly 2 million volunteers who prepared the wreaths, shipped them across the country, and put them on graves.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Arnold Schwarzenegger drives the same tank he trained on in the Army

It’s not bravado, it’s not some Hollywood publicity stunt, and it sure as hell isn’t special effects. Arnold Schwarzenegger not only owns a tank, he knows how to drive it and operate it in every possible way. It wouldn’t have done him much good in the Army if he didn’t know how to use its weapons. But the tank he has is a special one – to him, anyway.

The Terminator’s tank is the same one he used to learn his tank skills while serving in the Austrian Army.


The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Schwarzenegger (left, duh) in his Army days.

Austria is one of few countries in Europe to have mandatory civil or military service upon graduating from high school at age 18. A young Arnold Schwarzenegger, never one to shirk his duties, did what he had to do. He joined up and became a tanker in the Austrian National Army in 1965. His tank is a 1951 M-47 Patton tank, designed for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to take the place of the Pershing tank in the early days of the Cold War.

He’s owned his tank since 1991, paying ,000 to have it shipped from Austria.

The 50-ton behemoth uses a V-12 Chrysler twin turbo gas engine and cranks out 810 horsepower for a max speed of 30 miles per hour and a whopping 2.3 miles per gallon. But Schwarzenegger doesn’t use it to get around the streets of Southern California.

He uses it to keep kids in school.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Disadvantaged or at-risk students come to Schwarzenegger’s home to check out the tank and have fun with him in a series of after-school programs. The ones who stay in school get to drive the tank. With Arnold. And maybe even driving it over a few cars.

He even put a day in the tank up as an Omaze reward, offering donors to The After-School All-Stars Program the chance to crush stuff and “blow sh*t up” with him. Before that, the tank was housed at the Motts Military Museum in Ohio. In 2008, the then-Governor of California decided his role would soon include driving over a few jalopies to support youth enrollment. The program has been ongoing ever since.

Articles

The Air Force’s first F-35s will be fully ready for war next month

After years of development, and having only just entered service officially with the US Air Force last year, the F-35A Lightning II will finally be declared fully combat ready next month, heralding a new age of air power for the service.


Aviation Week reports that the 34th Fighter Squadron, based at Hill AFB, Utah, will take delivery of brand new F-35As fresh from the production line in Dallas, Texas. What differentiates these latest stealth jets from the F-35As currently flown by the Air Force is that they will come with the Block 3F software upgrade.

Block 3F is the final step towards enabling the aircraft to fully utilize every air-to-surface and air-to-air weapon it was built to field in combat. Currently, the F-35s flown by the Air Force and US Marine Corps operate with a limited weapons load while Lockheed Martin and other program contractors ready the Lightning II’s software.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
A Norwegian F-35A taxiing (Photo Department of Defense)

The F-35 was created as part of the Joint Strike Fighter program of the late 1990s, bringing about a dedicated multirole replacement for the F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornet, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the AV-8B Harrier II jumpjet operated by the Marine Corps.

By building aircraft with similar architecture – just different engines – the Department of Defense theorized that money could be saved in the long run while keeping operational readiness for the military’s entire fighter fleet at an all-time high. As such, Lockheed Martin has developed three variants of the F-35: the A model for the Air Force, the B model short takeoff/vertical landing for the Marine Corps, and the carrier-capable C model for the Navy.

The F-35 was originally designed to work in tandem with the F-22 Raptor – the Raptor serving as an air superiority fighter while the Lightning II functioning more as a swing-role “Swiss army knife” aircraft. The deployment of the Block 3F software is a huge leap towards making that goal a reality today.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier
A USAF F-35A departs from Luke AFB in Arizona (Photo US Air Force)

This upgrade comes in the wake of a training deployment conducted by the 34th Fighter Squadron to the United Kingdom earlier this year with F-35As that were still limited in their warfighting capabilities – most in terms of the weapons they could carry and employ. The Marine Corps has also pushed its F-35Bs out to Japan, but are also serving in a limited capacity until the new software update is rolled out.

With fears of a potential confrontation with North Korea, and with the rise of Chinese and Russian stealth fighters on the horizon, maintaining an edge with its own fifth generation fighters has become a major priority for the Air Force. According to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the F-35s which were deployed to the UK in spring could have been sent to battle if called upon, though their pilots would not be able to access the aircraft’s full potential, with the limited software built into their aircraft at the time.

The Pentagon expects to place more than 100 F-35s in Asia within the next three to four years to counter the Chinese air force’s fielding of its own fifth generation fighters like the J-31 Gyrfalcon and the J-20 multirole fighters.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why you should never trust the barracks lawyer

So, you messed up. That sucks. It’s time to absorb whatever punishment your command team is about to drop on you like an adult and carry on with your career. “But wait,” you hear from the corner of the smoke pit, “according to the regulations, you can’t get in trouble for that thing you did!”

We’ve all seen this happen. That one troop — the one who thinks they know how to help you — is what we call a “barracks lawyer.” They’re not actual legal representation and they don’t have any formal training. More often than not, this troop catches wind of some “loophole” via the Private News Network or Lance Corporal Underground and they take this newfound fact as gospel.

For whatever reason, people routinely make the mistake of believing these idiots and the nonsense that spews from their mouths. Here’s just a brief look at why you shouldn’t take their advice:


The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

Think about it for more than half a second. If everyone knew all the stupid loopholes, there wouldn’t be a court martial system.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen Polanco)

They think they found a loophole… They didn’t.

The actual rules and regulations have been finely tuned over the course of two hundred years. It’s very unlikely that some random troop just happened to be the only one to figure out some loophole. And, realistically, that’s not how the rules work. There’s a little thing known as “commander’s discretion” that supersedes all.

If the commander says it, it will be so. It doesn’t matter how a given rule is worded.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

What they’re suggesting isn’t real. Want to know what is? Troops breaking big rocks into smaller rocks in military prison.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)

What they’re suggesting is often insubordination.

Advice that these pseudo-lawyers offer often involves a line that often starts with, “you don’t have to follow that, because…” Here’s the thing: Unless a superior is asking you to do something that’s profoundly unsafe or illegal, you have to do it. That’s not just your immediate supervisor — that’s all superiors.

The advice that they’re offering is a textbook definition of insubordination. Disregarding an order comes with a whole slew of other legal problems down the time.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

If they’re on in the first sergeant’s office after every major three-day weekend, they’re probably full of sh*t.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

They’re usually not the best troops in the formation

If they do know what they’re talking about, it’s for good reason. They probably got in trouble once, talked their way out of that trouble, and got let off the hook because the command stopped caring to argue.

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

It’s not like there’s an entire MOS field dedicated to solving such issues… oh… wait…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton)

They don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about

There are 134 articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice out there and countless other rules and regulations that pop up from time to time. There’s no way in Hell that some private in the barracks has spent the time required to study each and every one of them and how they interact with each other.

If they have, by some miracle of time management, spent the effort required to learn all of this, then why the hell have they been squandering their profound talents in your unit rather than going over to JAG? Which leads us perfectly into…

The USS Ford is in the Atlantic for first-of-its-kind aircraft testing — here’s what the Navy is learning about its new carrier

If you live with a lower enlisted troop who’s in JAG, they’re still a barracks lawyer if their head is firmly up their own ass about how they can help you. Catch them on the clock.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

There are actual military lawyers who will advocate for you.

They exist and aren’t that uncommon. They’re often found at the brigade-level or installation-level. It’s their job to take on your case and see how the military judicial system could work for you. Unlike your buddy in the barracks, these lawyers have spent years in military (and often civilian) legal training.

Don’t waste your time placating the barracks lawyer. Actual military lawyers in JAG will take care of you.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information