This is the new US stealth drone designed for suicide missions - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the new US stealth drone designed for suicide missions

The US Air Force on March 5, 2019, tested the XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, which it calls a “long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle” designed to fight against Russia and China in suicide missions too dangerous for manned fighter jets.

The Air Force tested the Valkyrie as part of its Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology program, which in layman’s terms means a program to create cheap aircraft that can soak up enemy missiles, clearing the way for other jets to follow.


The US has stealth fighter jets like the F-22 and F-35 for the explicit purpose of penetrating heavily defended airspaces, but top adversaries like Russia and China have responded with a wide array of counter-stealth technologies and strategies.

According to Justin Bronk, a combat aviation expert at the Royal United Services Institute, some threats even these elite jets likely can’t survive.

Chinese HongQi 9 [HQ-9] launcher during China’s 60th anniversary parade, 2009.

(Photo by Jian Kang)

Suicide mission

“Missions which are effectively one way, where there’s a campaign-critical target that is realistically too high threat to expect” jets to survive call for drones, said Bronk.

While the F-22 and F-35 represent true all-aspect stealth aircraft optimized to evade detection, tracking, and interception via missiles, they have a fatal weakness.

To drop bombs or fire missiles, both aircraft must open up their bomb bays, ruining their stealth shaping. Additionally, radar or communications emissions may compromise their operations.

“Even if you get there and deliver munitions, you’re probably not getting out of it,” Bronk said of flying manned aircraft in ultra-high threat scenarios.

The cheapest F-35s the US will ever buy will likely cost million. F-22s, bought in small numbers, cost around 0 million each. Perhaps even more valuable than the jet, is the US pilot manning each system.

Instead, why not send a cheap drone? Or at the stated cost of -3 million a pop, why not a swarm of drones?

The Valkyrie can’t carry many weapons. It’s not meant to carry any air-to-air missiles, it can’t go very fast, and it will never be a dogfighter, said Bronk.

“But if you can pump these out for million at 100 or so a year, you could hugely increase the Air Force’s combat edge,” he continued.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle, completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019, at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A.

(Air Force Research Laboratory)

The battle plan

With a range of between 1,500 and 2,000 nautical miles, the Valkyrie far outranges US stealth fighters or fighters of any kind.

This lends itself to a swarming attack, wherein dozens or even hundreds of Valkyries come flying in at high subsonic speeds to either drop air-to-ground bombs, jam radars with electronic warfare, spy on enemy missile sites, or even just soak up the first wave of enemy missiles, which incidentally would also likely provide targeting data to other US assets.

Next, the US’s manned aircraft could take on a greatly softened up target, which has just weathered a swarm of jamming, bombing, semi-stealthy drones forcing them to fire millions of dollars worth of missiles at cheap jets essentially meant to be shot down.

“XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game changing combat capability,” Doug Szczublewski, the Air Force’s XQ-58A Program Manager said in a release.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea says it can hit Washington DC

North Korea demonstrated its most capable threat to the U.S. yet on the night of Nov. 28th with a 53-minute flight of what initial reports are calling an intercontinental ballistic missile.


North Korea has tested ICBMs before, but the country has never shown the ability to reach important East Coast targets in the U.S., like Washington D.C. or New York City. This time, not only did they show range, North Korea showed the kind of skills and tactics they’d need to actually nuke one of those targets.

North Korea usually avoids testing at night or in the winter or fall, but the timing of the test likely included a message: the threat to the U.S. from ICBMs is real.

An earlier North Korean missile test. (Photo from KCNA)

South Korea and Japan detected a radio signal they found usually consistent with launch preparations earlier on Nov. 28, but said it was likely “within days” until a test took place.

The quick run up from the signal to the launch and the timing in the dead of night suggest North Korea prioritized practicing a realistic nuclear strike on the US instead of just a drill.

In the past, the US has spotted North Korea’s preparations for a launch, but testing at night obscures that. Additionally, North Korea’s focus on road-mobile missile launchers serves the purpose of pulling off quick strikes from hidden locations — an ideal strategy for attacking a vigilant force like the U.S.

Also Read: Here’s an inside look at North Korea’s ballistic missile inventory

The launch follows the most heated ever passage of US-North Korean relations with President Donald Trump threatening to “totally destroy” Pyongyang and Kim Jong Un’s propaganda outlet sentencing Trump to death. The U.S. led the world to sanction and isolate North Korea after its sixth nuclear test in September, when it displayed the capability to level entire cities with a nuclear device.

While it’s unknown what missile North Korea fired or if it can actually carry a nuclear payload as far as it flew on Nov. 28, the launch communicates that Washington D.C. is now within range.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

9 of the weirdest military aircraft that actually flew

These aircraft might have the feel of science fiction, but we have it on good authority that every single one of them graced the skies – or at least attempted to get off the ground. Take a look at nine of the weirdest military aircraft that actually flew.


Caprioni Ca.60

What the Caprioni Ca.60 lacked in actual flying power it made up for with an overabundance of wings and engines. Even though this aircraft only flew once to an attitude of 60 feet, it still served as a flying boat prototype for a 100-passenger trans-Atlantic plane. The Ca.60 had eight engines and nine wings. Talk about overkill.

Convair F2Y Sea Dart

This might look like a top of the line fancy jet ski, but it’s the world’s one and only supersonic seaplane. In the 40s, supersonic jets had a long takeoff roll from aircraft carriers to get airborne. So the Navy decided the best way to shorten the roll was to put skis on the jet. Unfortunately, the engines on the Sea Dart weren’t powerful enough to work well, and violent vibrations grounded the aircraft for good.

Curtiss-Wright VZ-7

We love this one for the sheer absurdity of it. It seems like someone decided all a pilot needed to fly was a seat and a set of controls. Enter the Curtiss-Wright. The Curtiss-Wright VX-7 was incredibly dangerous and unique, and “flying JEEP” was apparently easy to fly, it left the pilot open to enemy fire. Unfortunately, the Curtiss-Wright never met Army standards and was permanently grounded.

Goodyear Inflatoplane

As if the name “Inflatoplane” isn’t hilarious enough, this aircraft proves that maybe Goodyear should stick to making tires. This experimental project tried to make an all-fabric inflatable aircraft that could be used as a rescue plan. The idea was that the Inflatoplane would be dropped down to pilots behind enemy lines. But the entire project was quickly canceled by the Army because there wasn’t a valid military use for an aircraft that could be “brought down by a bow and arrow.” Nice try, Goodyear.

Hiller X-18

Often considered the prototype for the Osprey, the Hiller X-18 was the first testbed for tilt-wing and VSTOL technology. However, the X-18 didn’t handle wind gusts very well, and since the engines weren’t cross-linked, every engine failure resulted in a crash.

Lockheed XFV

Ah, Lockheed, you never fail to disappoint. The XFV was Lockheed’s attempt at combining an airplane and a helicopter, and the results were … interesting, to say the least. While the XFV did manage to transition from horizontal to vertical flight, it lacked the speed to really “take off” in the aviation world – not to mention the right kind of pilots who could fly it.

McDonnell XF-85

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Talk about ambitions. The idea behind the McDonnel XF-85 Goblin was simple enough on paper. The plan was for the XF-85 to be carried in the belly of a Convair B-36 bomber and launched mid-flight to protect the bombers from enemies. Then, it would re-dock with the bomber using a simple retractable nose-hook. Too bad this was all so much easier said than done. On its first test flight, the project was scrapped because it was almost impossible to complete the redocking procedure.

North American F-82 Twin Mustang

The other name for the North American F-82 Twin Mustang was the “Double P-51” because it had two cockpits. This aircraft was designed as a long escort fighter for WWII, but the war ended before it got off the ground.

Northrup Tacit Blue

If the sight of the Northrup brings to mind old-school box race cars, you’re not alone. Most people think of a pine box racer competition when they see the Northrup Tacit Blue because of its angular lines and low-to-the-ground profile. In actuality, it was a stealth testbed flown in the early 1980s. The aircraft included a quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire system to help keep it airborne.

These nine aircraft experiments prove that just because something can be successfully created on paper doesn’t mean it’s possible to leave the ground. Hats off to all the designers for their ingenuity and the pilots who were willing to give these aircraft a chance.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to end the Korean nuclear crisis

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited US President Donald Trump to meet and said his country would refrain from further nuclear and missile tests.


South Korean National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service Chief Suh Hoon arrived to Washington, DC early March 2018 to brief their counterpart, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, on new diplomatic overtures from North Korea.

“Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization,” Chung said on March 8, 2018. “Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.”

Also read: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

“And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Chung continued.

Chung said Trump “appreciated” the briefing, and agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un “to achieve permanent denuclearization.” The White House said a time and date for that meeting has not yet been determined.

Kim Jong Un

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump had accepted the invitation. She also emphasized that the US’s strict sanctions against North Korea, which were leveled in part because of the regime’s missile-test activity, will remain in effect.

“We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea,” Sanders said. “In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the outcome through his spokesperson: “The May meeting will be recorded as a historic milestone that realized peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon reportedly said.

Related: This is why you can’t trust North Korea’s new charm offensive

“In particular, the leadership of President Trump, who gladly accepted Chairman Kim’s invitation, will receive praise not only from people in the South and the North, but also from people around the world,” Moon continued.

Earlier on March 8, 2018, Trump teased that a “major announcement” would be made: “Hopefully, you will give me credit,” Trump quipped, according to ABC News journalist Meredith McGraw.

Trump has periodically indicated an openness to talks with North Korea “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”

Beginning in January 2018, North Korea made several diplomatic moves to indicate a willingness to negotiate with the US and South Korea.

Following its participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the North conducted several meetings with officials from the South, including President Moon.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in Seoul, South Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) February 10, 2018.

In the meeting between South Korea’s envoy and Kim Jong-un, North Korea proposed a summit with Moon in April 2018 — the third such summit between the two Koreas since the Korean War.

Trump said of those developments on March 6, 2018: “I think that they are sincere, but I think they are sincere also because the sanctions.”

More: South Korea’s special ops wants to kill Kim Jong Un with suicide drones

“I hope they are sincere. We’re going to see and find out,” Trump said.

Kim Jong-un’s apparent verbal commitment to denuclearization, if he follows through with it, would be a significant victory for the US. Denuclearization is the key precondition for diplomatic engagement, as outlined by the Trump administration.

“Our condition is denuclearization,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said to reporters in late February 2018. “Our policy has not changed. We have talked about this policy since day one of this administration; and that’s maximum pressure, but it’s also the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

US officials remained cautious on March 8, 2018. Hours before Chung’s announcement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US was “a long ways from negotiations.”

“I think it’s – we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it,” Tillerson said during a press conference from Ethiopia.

Japan, a country that has often witnessed North Korea’s missiles flying overhead, announced that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting Trump in April 2018 to discuss the recent developments with North Korea, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why Microsoft employees want to reject this Army contract

A group of Microsoft employees are demanding that the company’s leadership abandon a contract with the US Army that they say makes them into “war profiteers” — a contract that relates to Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented-reality technology.

On Feb. 22, 2019, a group of workers at the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant released an open letter in which they slammed a $749 million contract the company holds to develop an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” (IVAS) to build “a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries.”


“We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” the letter reads. “As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers. To that end, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the U.S. Army’s ability to cause harm and violence.”

Fifty employees have signed the letter so far, and organizers say that number is expected to grow.

The organized action comes just days before Microsoft is widely expected to unveil a new HoloLens headset at the Mobile World Congress technology conference in Europe and is a sign of the rising tide of labor activism in the American technology industry.

HoloLens.

(Flickr photo by Franklin Heijnen)

“We are going public with the demand to cancel the Hololens DoD contract because we want our voices to be heard on this life or death matter,” a Microsoft worker who asked to remain anonymous told Business Insider. “We haven’t heard back from Microsoft officially, or from any execs at this point — we’re hoping this open letter will help get us a response.”

Microsoft employees have also protested company bids for other military contracts before. And multiple other tech companies have also been roiled by protests over military applications of their technology over the last year.

In June 2018, Google canceled a US military contract after internal uproar. Amazon has also faced protests over military contracts, though CEO Jeff Bezos has said the company has no plans to end them — even implicitly rebuking Google for its actions as unpatriotic. “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” Bezos said in October 2018.

The same anonymous Microsoft worker challenged this argument, saying: “Jeff Bezos and other tech execs reap massive profits from military contracts. Patriotism is just a front. If we look at who benefits, it is certainly not the individual engineers working at these companies.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

In a statement, Microsoft spokesperson Liz Reisen said: “We gave this issue careful consideration and outlined our perspective in an October 2018 blog. We always appreciate feedback from employees and provide many avenues for their voices to be heard. In fact, we heard from many employees throughout the fall. As we said then, we’re committed to providing our technology to the U.S. Department of Defense, which includes the U.S. Army under this contract. As we’ve also said, we’ll remain engaged as an active corporate citizen in addressing the important ethical and public policy issues relating to AI and the military.”

Here’s the full letter:

“Dear Satya Nadella and Brad Smith,

“We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression. We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the U.S. Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.

“In November, Microsoft was awarded the 9 million Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) contract with the United States Department of the Army. The contract’s stated objective is to ‘rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries.’ Microsoft intends to apply its HoloLens augmented reality technology to this purpose. While the company has previously licensed tech to the U.S. Military, it has never crossed the line into weapons development. With this contract, it does. The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.

“Intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology.

“We demand that Microsoft:

“1) Cancel the IVAS contract;

“2) Cease developing any and all weapons technologies, and draft a public-facing acceptable use policy clarifying this commitment;

“3) Appoint an independent, external ethics review board with the power to enforce and publicly validate compliance with its acceptable use policy.

“Although a review process exists for ethics in AI, AETHER, it is opaque to Microsoft workers, and clearly not robust enough to prevent weapons development, as the IVAS contract demonstrates. Without such a policy, Microsoft fails to inform its engineers on the intent of the software they are building. Such a policy would also enable workers and the public to hold Microsoft accountable.

“Brad Smith’s suggestion that employees concerned about working on unethical projects ‘would be allowed to move to other work within the company’ ignores the problem that workers are not properly informed of the use of their work. There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed, believing it would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover (RIP). These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.

Mars Rover.

(NASA)

“Microsoft’s guidelines on accessibility and security go above and beyond because we care about our customers. We ask for the same approach to a policy on ethics and acceptable use of our technology. Making our products accessible to all audiences has required us to be proactive and unwavering about inclusion. If we don’t make the same commitment to be ethical, we won’t be. We must design against abuse and the potential to cause violence and harm.

“Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to do more. But implicit in that statement, we believe it is also Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to do good. We also need to be mindful of who we’re empowering and what we’re empowering them to do. Extending this core mission to encompass warfare and disempower Microsoft employees, is disingenuous, as ‘every person’ also means empowering us. As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers. To that end, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the U.S. Army’s ability to cause harm and violence.

“Microsoft Workers”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Leaked photo shows China is building a new supercarrier

The Chinese shipbuilder that’s constructing Beijing’s third aircraft carrier, Type 002, leaked an artist’s impression of that carrier on social media in late June 2018 that heightened intrigue about China’s naval ambitions before quickly taking it down.

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation photo showed the future Type 002 with a large flight deck that featured an angled landing strip and three electro-magentic catapult launching systems — all of which represent a technologic leap to the kind of supercarriers fielded by the US Navy.


It’s expected to be a 70,000-ton ship that’s finished by 2021, if all goes according to plan.

Compare that to China’s second carrier, Type 001A — it has a built-in ski jump on the flight deck and uses an old-fashioned short take-off but arrested recovery launching system that limits the speed of launches and the size of the armaments fighters carry.

Type 002’s features will be much more advanced than Type 001A , allowing the People’s Liberation Army-Navy to deploy a greater number and variety of aircraft — and to deploy the aircraft more quickly. If the supercarrier works as planned — and that’s a big, if — it would make the Chinese navy one of the most powerful in the world.

Type 001A aircraft carrier after launch at Dalian in 2017.

And this appears to be just the beginning.

China has grand ambitions for a world-class navy, and is even building a fourth carrier , which will reportedly be nuclear-powered and possibly match the specifications of the US’ Nimitz-class carriers the US Navy has operated for half a century.

A modern supercarrier would leap China ahead of Russia, which has only one carrier that’s breakdown-prone, to rival only France and the United States, the only navies that boast nuclear-powered supercarriers that launch planes with catapults.

The “interesting question is what do they intend these carriers to do,” Daniel Kliman, a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider. “What would it enable China to achieve?”

“A lot of it’s prestige,” Kliman said. And prestige is also about domestic politics.

“There’s a lot of popular attention in China to its carrier program,” said Kliman, who added that a supercarrier is also an effective means to project power in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, much as the US has used them for decades.

“Beyond that, China does see a real need to protect its far-flung investments and protect market access overseas,” Kliman said. “Carriers are certainly useful in that role.”

Whatever the intentions, these supercarriers would vastly expand China’s ability to project power into contested areas at sea and to fly missions overland.

“Either they’re going to try to take the fight to the enemy or it’s about prestige,” Eric Wertheim, a naval expert with the US Naval Institute, told Business Insider, adding that it’s probably “a little bit of both.”

Wertheim said that people were seen crying when China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned because “there was such pride.”

Wertheim and Kliman also agreed that China would initially use their current and future carriers to project power in the East and South China Seas, especially the latter.

Ultimately though, China really doesn’t need carriers to achieve its territorial objectives in the East and South China Seas. “Everything’s within land-based aircraft,” Kliman said.

So “is their goal to just dominate Asia” or to project power in other waters? Wertheim asked.

In 2017, China opened an overseas military base (its first ever overseas base) in Africa, where it continues to invest and compete for interest.

“We really don’t know what [China’s] intention [are],” Wertheim said.

Featured image: An artist’s impression of Type 002.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia fires intercontinental ballistic missile amid rising tension with US

Russia test-fired its advanced RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile Feb. 6, 2019, the Russian defense ministry said, amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.

The road-mobile, solid-fuel ICBM, which was “armed with multiple warheads,” was launched from the Plesetsk state testing spaceport, according to Russian state-run media outlet TASS. “The launch aimed to confirm the advanced missile system’s capabilities and flight characteristics,” the ministry said.


The Yars missile went into service in 2010. It can be either mobile or silo-based, and it is upgraded version of the Topol-M missiles. With a range of nearly 7,000 miles, the Yars was designed to beat enemy missile defenses.

The Yars has the ability to alter its trajectory during flight, and this maneuverability makes it more difficult to intercept. It can also deploy active and passive decoys — countermeasures that make it more formidable.

And then there are the multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, which allow the multiple warheads on board to travel a different path than the ICBM was traveling initially.

(Russian Defense Ministry)

“This coupled with the fact that the Yars only takes 7 minutes to launch poses serious threats to the missile defense system used by the US to protect its homeland and its allies,” according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. “The RS-24 is a vital part of Moscow’s effort to increase the survivability its nuclear forces and to counter missile defense systems being deployed by the United States.”

The latest test comes just a few weeks after the release of the Trump administration’s Missile Defense Review, a document highly criticized by Moscow, and just days after the collapse of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — the last line of defense preventing a major nuclear arms race — from which the US withdrew over alleged Russian violations of the Cold War-era nuclear-arms agreement.

As he ripped up the INF Treaty, President Donald Trump warned the US will “move forward with developing our own military response” to Russian moves. Russian President Vladimir Putin then stressed that Russia “will respond quid pro quo.”

The Russian defense ministry has called for the development of a new land-based cruise missile, a variant of the sea-launched Kalibr missiles, and hypersonic missiles. There are also reports that Russia is again testing its much-hyped Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, although Moscow apparently has yet to achieve success with this new system.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Sherman’s bow ties’ were an ultimate ‘screw you’ to the South

The Civil War was one of the early “Total Wars” in world history, where every industrial, military, diplomatic, and economic asset on both sides of the war was pressed into service, and no holds were barred in combat, at least in the last few years of the fighting. For battlefield leaders like Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, that meant breaking the South in a way it couldn’t be fixed.


When Union officers began serious and successful forays into the Confederacy, they had to decide what infrastructure to protect and use as well as what infrastructure to destroy. If the rails would help Union supply lines, they stayed. But if the Union troops weren’t going to stick around, the rails, boats, and more needed to be destroyed as decisively as possible.

This may seem simple. After all, when it comes to railroads, you can just tear up the tracks and, voila, no train can roll down those tracks until they’re rebuilt.

But there’s a problem. The Union didn’t have the logistics capability to ship all the iron from the rails back north to use. So it would have to remain in place. But when troops tore up the rails and then moved on, Confederate troops and workers would slip right back in and fix the rails within hours or days.

(Young Folk’s History of the War for the Union)

So, soon after Sherman began his drive toward Atlanta and what would eventually lead to his March to the Sea, he issued a new special order to his army.

Major-General McPherson will move along the railroad toward Decatur and break the telegraph wires and the railroad. In case of the sounds of serious battle he will close in on General Schofield, but otherwise will keep every man of his command at work in destroying the railroad by tearing up track, burning the ties and iron, and twisting the bars when hot. Officers should be instructed that bars simply bent may be used again, but if when red hot they are twisted out of line they cannot be used again. Pile to ties into shape for a bonfire, put the rails across, and when red hot in the middle, let a man at each end twist the bar so that its surface become spiral. General McPherson will dispatch General Garrard’s cavalry eastward along the line of the railroad to continue the destruction as far as deemed prudent.

That excerpt is from Sherman’s Headquarters on July 18, 1864, with orders for the next day. Soon, Sherman’s men were marching across Georgia, twisting rails into a spiral so they could never be properly repaired.

The soldiers usually did this by building the bonfire as described in the order and then wrapping the rails all the way around a tree. Twisting the rails around something allowed them to do the deed without having to heat the rails quite as hot. And while bent instead of twisted rails could be repaired, the rails on the trees were bent around back onto themselves, incorporating a small twist and leaving a tree in the middle of it.

Well-twisted rails had to be sent back to a foundry to be melted down, and the South simply did not have enough foundry space and manpower to do that for the majority of the damaged rails.

As Sherman’s army left all these twisted rails in their wake, many of them dangling from trees, the distinctive decor became known as “Sherman’s Neckties,” or bow ties or whatever the viewer’s favorite accessory for the neck was.

(Bubba73/Jud McCranie, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This new tactic would sideline some rail lines for the duration of the war. Some would be rebuilt relatively quickly. The town of Meridian, Mississippi, prided itself on restoring its rails in “26 working days.” But that’s still a month that the rail line was out of commission.

Sherman’s aggression would pay off. Where his men marched, the Confederate war machine was often irrecoverably broken. This would eventually be a cost for the U.S. government during reconstruction, but Sherman’s success is partially credited with saving Lincoln’s re-election campaign. And Sherman followed that up by taking Savannah and then burning Columbia.

Look, Sherman really wanted to end the war. And if that meant he would be seen as a monster by the South for generations, well, he could accept that.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air commandos wrecking cars and saving lives

Jaws of life. Hooligan tools. Chainsaws. Hammers.

Awkward names for things that could save lives on the battlefield as well as on the streets of America. But these and other tools can be found in the search and rescue and personnel recovery arsenal of the elite Air Commandos.


Earlier in October, Pararescuemen and Combat Control operators from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron refreshed their extrication skills, showcasing along the way the importance of a little known but important skillset.

Utilizing old vehicles, the Air Commandos simulated the extrication of troops or civilians from wrecked vehicles with a variety of methods tools. However, it’s important to remember that the Air Commandos will often have to carry the tools on them, so the equipment must be effective yet portable.

An operator from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron uses a chainsaw during extrication training at Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., Oct. 8, 2020, to simulate removing trapped personnel from a vehicle or aircraft. The members may use these techniques in combat environments or humanitarian assistance and disaster response zones. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye)

“By using non-salvageable vehicles, we are able to develop a scenario in which all procedures and tools are utilized, enhancing proficiency in this specific Tactic, Technique, and Procedure,” said the 125th Special Tactics Squadron flight commander in a press release. “The non-salvageable vehicles provide the most realistic training possible.”

The advent of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has made extrication capabilities that much more important. If a vehicle, regardless if it’s armored or not, triggers an IED, chances are that it will suffer significant, if not catastrophic, damage. But if the explosive charge in the IED isn’t sufficient to destroy the vehicle altogether, the crew might survive, probably trapped inside the wreck. That’s why the extrication capability becomes important. But the skillset is also important in domestic or humanitarian scenarios, especially considering that this particular unit is part of the National Guard and might be called on to help civilians in distress as it has been doing in the past months.

“We also use this equipment during state emergency response operations or humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations to establish landing zones,” added the officer. “Or in the case of hurricanes, we’d possibly cut holes in the tops of houses to evacuate personnel by helicopter. These procedures were also utilized by Special Tactics Pararescuemen during the earthquake response in Haiti in 2010.”

Break it down, boys (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye).

Part of the Oregon Air National Guard, the 125th Special Tactics Squadron is based in Portland.

Pararescue is the only career field in the whole Department of Defense (DoD) that is specially trained and equipped to conduct combat search and rescue and personnel recovery.

Back in 1993 and the Battle of Mogadishu, the Air Commandos’ extrication training proved crucial. When the first MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed during the “Black Hawk Down” incident, several of the crew members were trapped inside the twisted metals of the battered machine.

The moment the two pilots are finally extricated in the very realistic movie Black Hawk Down (Sony Pictures).

Even though the two Night Stalkers pilots who had been killed, the rest of Task Force Dagger resolved to not leave them behind. But only specialized equipped and trained men could extricate them. So, the burden fell on the Pararescuemen of the elite 24th Special Tactics Squadron. In the end, and after another day and night of fighting, the rescue force managed to extricate the two pilots.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


Articles

11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Saving Private Ryan’

In 1998 the epic film “Saving Private Ryan” captured the courage, sacrifice, and horror of World War II in a way that Hollywood had either missed or avoided with previous efforts.


The story of a Ranger squad’s mission to find a soldier who is the only surviving service member of four brothers — based on Father Francis Simpson’s book Look Out Below! — grossed over $100 million (the first Dreamworks movie to surpass that mark) and earned five Oscars.

Director Steven Spielberg’s battle scenes were so grisly and realistic that many World War II veterans had to walk out of showings and the VA had to create a special 800 number to deal with a surge in veterans dealing with post traumatic stress triggered by the movie. Here are 11 other things you (probably) didn’t know about one of the greatest war movies ever made:

1. The movie was shot in chronological order, which is unusual for a film. Spielberg chose that method so that the actors would feel like they were going through the experience, including losing fellow soldiers along the way. This also helped them portray their resentment towards Private Ryan, who doesn’t share the journey with them.

2. The opening sequences of the Normandy invasion on D-Day were actually shot in Ireland not France. The French government would not give permission to the producers to shoot on Normandy’s beaches.

3. The unarmed men who are shot during the opening scene are not speaking German. They are speaking Czech. Parts of the Normandy coast were defended by Ost (East) battalions — pressed into service in the Wermacht — made up of men from places like Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, and Armenia.

4. Billy Bob Thornton was offered the role of Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath (ultimately played by Tom Sizemore) but turned it down because he has a fear of water and didn’t want to shoot the landing scenes. Spielberg was hesitant to use Sizemore because he was battling a drug addiction at the time of filming. The director had Sizemore undergo daily drug tests and threatened to boot him from the set and re-shoot every scene if he tested positive.

5. Spielberg originally thought Matt Damon was too skinny to play Private James Ryan but changed his mind after a meeting between them facilitated by the legendary comic Robin Williams.

6. The story that Private Ryan tells about his brothers in the barn with Alice Jardin was not in the script. Matt Damon ad-libbed it and Spielberg decided to use it.

7. During the scene in which Pvt. Stanley Mellish is being stabbed slowly by an enemy soldier, his assailant whispers in German: “Give up. You have got no chance. This way is much more easy for you. Much easier.”

8. Bryan Cranston (now famous for his role in the AMC series “Breaking Bad”), who plays Colonel I.W. Bryce, is the only person in the movie who has an amputation on screen that isn’t really an amputee.

9. Spielberg had to cut around 5 minutes of war violence from the film or it would have received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.

10. Hanks’ played a 41-year-old Army captain. In actuality, an infantry captain in World War II would have been around the age of 26.

11. The town of Ramelle, France where the final battle takes place is the only fictional town in the movie. The other locations depicted are real and were actual objectives during the invasion. Ramelle, including the river, was created from scratch in a studio in England. That same set was used during the filming of the “Band of Brothers” series.

(H/T Movie Mistakes and Movie Fanfare)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Winning a Nobel Prize isn’t as easy as you think

There have been calls to award a Nobel Peace Prize to everyone involved with ending the Korean War, including President Donald Trump. Given that the award has a broad selection process, it’s much more competitive than you’d think and the specifics about the process are often kept secret for fifty years.


Any person, group, or organization can be nominated after doing, in accordance to Alfred Nobel’s will, “the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The only officially recognized nominators include heads of state, former Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and current or former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The first ever recipient was Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross. His organization would win the award three more times.

Any submissions must be done begin in September and the absolute cut-off is February 1st. Between the beginning of February and the end of March, the list is combed through and a short list is prepared for April.

In 2018, there were 328 candidates and each of the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee usually pick five nominees. Because of the secrecy around the process, the Nobel Committee combs through the maybe twenty-five candidates until September.

This year’s front-runner is The White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue organization that saved countless lives during the Syrian Civil War.
(United States Agency for International Development)

In October, the voting between the members begins and the winner is chosen. The decision is final and there are no appeals. Hence the secrecy. No one can be upset that they weren’t picked if they didn’t know they got that far. Once the voting has finished, it’s announced to the world who the winner for that year will be.

Then comes the big day on December 10th. The new laureate receives their shiny golden award, a diploma, and a monetary prize. The prize money in 2017 was 9 million Swedish Kronas, which is $1,028,655 US Dollars. The prize money is often donated to which ever cause the recipient championed.

Articles

Canada to buy Super Hornets as F-35 hits setbacks

The Canadian government is in negotiations to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets, a blow to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which was originally envisioned to replace Canada’s 30-plus-year-old CF-18 Hornet fleet.


Canadian officials will explore upgrading the country’s aircraft to the Super Hornet as an interim option before final decisions are made for an open competition — a process that could still include procuring the F-35 for its aging fleet.

Just not yet.

The Liberal Party of Canada, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Tuesday announced an urgent need for “a new squadron of interim aircraft” and turned to Boeing to recapitalize the country’s CF-18s.

U.S. Air Force F/A-18Fs being refueled over Afghanistan in 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said during a press conference in Ottawa that the overuse of Canada’s McDonnell Douglas-made CF-18 fleet “would carry risk this government is not willing to take” to sustain current supplemental operations in NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Competition to purchase an entirely new fighter jet will come at a later date, Sajjan said.

“The government will launch, in its current mandate, a wide-open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fleet,” he said.

Even though Canada has been in discussions for years to purchase approximately 60  F-35 jets, lawmakers have grown weary of setbacks in the stealth jet program.

In June, Trudeau called the aircraft one that “does not work and is far from working.”

In the latest setback, a Marine Corps F-35B based out of Beaufort, South Carolina, caught fire in mid-air last month. The service is investigating the incident.

In September, the Air Force ordered a temporary stand-down of 13 out of 104 F-35s in its fleet “due to the discovery of peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” according to a statement at the time. Two additional aircraft, belonging to Norway and stationed atLuke Air Force Base, Arizona, also were affected.

The 13 F-35s, plus the two belonging to Norway, are back up and running, according to a story from Defense News on Friday.

In a statement Tuesday, Lockheed Martin said that although it is “disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors.”

“The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years,” the statement said.

Lists

Here are the 9 scenarios from Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is an ancient classic. There are free versions of the masterpiece available everywhere, from Wikipedia to Amazon, but let’s face it: Sometimes, depending on the translation, it can be hit-or-miss in terms of readability. It was written in the 5th century BC, after all.


Thankfully, there’s an alternative. On YouTube, someone’s been distilling the essence of this military classic. Each chapter has its own video.

The video here discusses one of the most important aspects of war: terrain. If you’ve seen the 1993 movie Gettysburg, you might remember the early portion of the film where John Buford recognizes the terrain that would dominate the battlefield, to wit, Cemetery Ridge. As history shows, Buford tactically deployed his troops, buying time for the Union to take control of Cemetery Ridge. With that control, they eventually won the battle, marking the last time that the Confederate Army invaded the North. Combined with the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the defeat of the South was only a matter of time.

Union General John Buford (Library of Congress photo)

Battles can be won or lost depending on how land is used. These are the 9 terrains, as described by Sun Tzu, that can dramatically influence the tide of battle.

9. Dispersive Ground

This is defined as territory you control at the start of the war. Sun Tzu advises never fighting here, simply because battles are destructive. Make the mess on the enemy’s territory. Joan of Arc used what Sun Tzu called the proper strategy for this terrain by always taking the fight elsewhere.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

8. Facile Ground

This is the initial portion of enemy territory. When you’re in this space, keep moving. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

7. Contentious Ground

This is ground that can provide a force with a serious advantage in a battle. The aforementioned Cemetery Ridge and its effect on the Battle of Gettysburg is a prime example of contentious ground. You want to identify this terrain and defend it.

1st Minnesota at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1863. (Painting by Don Troiani courtesy of the National Guard)

6. Open Ground

This is ground where you (and the enemy) can move easily. Think the deserts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. You don’t want to try to block the enemy, because any attempts can be easily outmaneuvered. Saddam Hussein made that mistake in Desert Storm.

5. Ground of Intersecting Highways

This is where three or more countries meet. In this situation, make like a contestant on Survivor or Big Brother and form alliances. The one who’s left out… well, you wouldn’t want to be them.

4. Serious Ground

When you’ve gone deep into enemy territory, leaving fortified cities behind, you’re in a serious situation. Your best bet is to just loot, plunder, and then get out.

Art looted by the Nazis during World War II. (U.S. Army photo)

3. Difficult Ground

As it suggest, this is very tough terrain to travel through. Think forests, mountains — that sort of stuff. This is ground you just want to march on through. These are places where guerrillas can wreak havoc, so be cautious.

2. Hemmed-In Ground

This is also called a ‘chokepoint.’ A prime example is the pass at Thermopylae, where King Leonidas and 300 Spartans famously held off the Persian Army. In this case, your best bet is to come up with a stratagem (or find someone who’s willing to betray the other side).

1. Desperate Ground

This is terrain where you can’t exactly retreat. Your only strategy is to fight — and it will likely be a battle to the death.